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Generation X: the Last Cool Generation

Posted in essays, misc.blurbs, music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 2010 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

There’s been much ink spilled (back when ink and paper were still widely used) about Generation X (my generation, born in the mid-60s thru early 70’s). And then I think they named the next one Generation Y (or Generation Next or The Millennials), and now they’re up to Generation Z, or the iGen (ugh, talk about forcing it).

But long after Douglas Coupland’s novel of the same name put “Generation X” on the map, I’d just like to say: We are the last cool generation. For many reasons.

We remember life before Xbox and Wii. I played freakin PONG with two "paddles" (lines on the screen) hitting a "ball" (a dot) back and forth. That was it. That was the whole game. Now, just the commercials for video games look better than the movies we grew up on.

Not only did we wait for our favorite song to come on the radio, but we did so with our cassette players setup to record and then tried to release the Pause button right away to tape the song. In fact, I used to blast records through an old stereo, with a boom box sitting in front of the speakers so I could copy it to a tape.

We wrote letters on paper and sent them through the mail to be read three days later. We used phone books. We used payphones. We used maps. We had to research our school papers at the library, with encyclopedias. We had to look shit up in books. The internet didn’t exist or was still in very early infancy when we were in college. We weren’t sitting around in class with our laptops.

We watched three TV channels plus PBS and waited until the 11pm local news sportscaster came on to show us highlights, until, if we were lucky, we had parents who could afford cable if and when it was finally available in our neighborhood. And we were already 12 by then.

So yes, we are the last cool generation. And all the little whippersnappers who followed us think they are the cool ones.

They can kick our ass at Playstation but they never played outside in the yard until it got dark enough that you could only see the ball when it was in the air. They make fun of clunky out-of-date CD players; I actually owned an 8-track tape player. They started drinking coffee when they were 15 and now they think drinking crappy beer like Pabst Blue Ribbon is cooler than being accused of being a “beer snob.” They think everything is overrated, underrated, or just totally random.

And of course they only like bands you’ve never heard of.

I think it’s funny how all these emo hipsters love to love anything that’s underground indie lo-fi crapola and it’s cool to say U2 sucks or Radiohead’s not great anymore or the White Stripes aren’t cool cuz Jack White’s gone Hollywood and sold out cuz he’s done a film soundtrack and been in a movie with The Edge.

Meanwhile, all these crappy bands sound like early U2 (but not as good) or wanna-be Radiohead or minimalist retro White Stripes. Ironic. Oh, wait, but being “ironic” is the coolest thing, right? I don’t know, I’ve lost track.

They cry and cry and cry that "oh you should check out THIS band and too bad THIS band isn’t as famous as Coldplay!" But then soon as 42 other people start agreeing and liking that band, they jump ship cuz "they suck now."

You suck. Go fix your eyeliner.

And now’s the part where I end the rant and you fill up the comments section (or the emails you use to forward this to your hipster buddies) saying how I’m just a bitter old man who doesn’t get it and I’m a hypocrite cuz I wrote a condescending blog post admonishing the cooler-than-thou people who do stupid shit like write condescending blog posts. That’s cool. I know I’m gonna drive home in my Honda from my day job and probably just go to sleep early. And you’re gonna peep your iPhone for some new App that plays old games like PONG or helps you organize all your stuff that makes you uniquely you. Just like everybody else.

Rick Rubin’s Resume

Posted in music, top 10 lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Friday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Actually, Rick Rubin’s Resume would be a cool name for a band, assuming he didn’t sue you. Anyway, wow. He not only has produced influential debuts from the Beastie Boys to LL Cool J to Run DMC to Public Enemy, but in the process proved that rock and rap could co-exist. He’s pretty much responsible for Johnny Cash’s late-career comeback and produced the flourish of albums at the end of Cash’s life. He produced a mid-career masterpiece for Tom Petty, almost all of the Slayer albums, and I think every Chili Peppers record since and starting with the classic Blood Sugar Sex Magik. He’s done solo/acoustic records for Neil Diamond and Jakob Dylan, alt-rock stuff like Slipknot, and produced the album that contains “Baby Got Back.” Most recently he got the unfocused and feuding Metallica to stop putting out crap and make a classic-sounding Metallica album and then produced a great rootsy folksy ditty for indie favorites the Avett Brothers. That kind of variety is what makes him incredible. He’s done everything at every end of every spectrum and everywhere in between and most of it is great. Sometimes all within the same year.

He started work with U2 on their most recent album but those sessions were shelved and never heard, as the boys when back to Lanois/Eno to do No Line on the Horizon. I heard, or read… or read on the internet that someone heard… anyway, this reliable source said that Rubin is a hardass, and he won’t just take and record the first 10 songs you show up with. He’ll send you back to write more and tell you to do better. Maybe Bono and the Edge didn’t like that and they wanted Yes Men at the controls? Maybe Rubin thought U2’s new stuff sucked and told them to get lost? Who knows. Just adds to the legend.

But the real legend is in his resume. It’s one thing to say “damn, go read this guy’s Wiki page!” It’s another to then realize that there’s a separate Wikipedia page for his Album Production Credits! Check out his bio on allmusic.com and click “credits” and take a look.

My Top 10 Favorite Albums Produced by Rick Rubin:

1986: Raising Hell – Run-DMC

1987: Yo! Bum Rush the Show – Public Enemy

1988: South of Heaven – Slayer

1991: Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers

1994: American Recordings – Johnny Cash

1994: Wildflowers – Tom Petty

2000: Renegades – Rage Against the Machine

2003: De-Loused in the Comatorium – The Mars Volta

2008: Death Magnetic – Metallica

2009: I and Love and You – The Avett Brothers

The Top 10 Albums Produced by Rick Rubin that didn’t make the list above:

1985: Radio – LL Cool J

1986: Licensed to Ill – Beastie Boys

1986: Reign in Blood – Slayer

1987: Electric – The Cult

1988: Danzig – Danzig

1998: Chef Aid: The South Park Album – South Park

1999: Californication – Red Hot Chili Peppers

2001: Toxicity – System of a Down

2002: American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash

2002: By the Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers

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