Saturday, July 28, 2007

The voice of a not-so-new generation

According to Wikipedia, my personal source for all things relevant and otherwise, Generation X refers to persons born between the years 1961 and 1981.

I've never cared for the term myself. For years, I didn't even know what it was supposed to mean. When I finally looked it up, I did not feel it described me well at all. Much like my high school code of conduct, I do not think it applies to me. So I set out to redefine, and rename, my generation.

It is a generation who purchased cassette singles and understood the emotional value of a mix tape; who generally have a great appreciation and longing for 80's music, television, and movies; who went to arcades to play video games; who know that Alf is from Melmac and Mork is from Ork; and who can scarcely remember a time when Vanna White was not on TV.

It saddens me to think the next generation will never know the utter joy of purchasing a cassette single. They'll never know the experience of listening to the B-side and hearing either a totally crap song, or a song you wind up liking better than the A-side. Heck, they may not even know what an A-side is.

Sure, spending $3.49 for one or two songs rather than $8.99 for the entire album might seem impractical. But with artists like Deon Estus, Sheriff, and Right Said Fred, you typically didn't want the whole album.

Also, when you were only making $3.85 an hour stocking shelves and collecting buggies at the grocery store, you knew that extra five bucks meant a meal at Taco Bell and two dollars gas to get you home.

It saddens me that the next generation may never know the thrill of having a numeric-only pager. There were no ringtones. Your only two options were tone or vibrate. And unlimited paging was $9.95 per month, also known as, the price of cool.

How will they survive never knowing what 143 means? Not to mention the life skills learned when you got a page followed by "911" and had to drive around and find a payphone to call the person back. I would venture a guess that a significant percentage of the population today have never even used a payphone. What a frightening thought.

It saddens me to think the next generation never got to enjoy Must See TV, the pinnacle of prime time television. To them, Cliff Huxtable, Alex P. Keaton, and Sam Malone are just characters dressed in out-of-style clothes that they might occasionally flip past on TVLand or Nick At Nite. They probably think Reality TV is good TV. Danny Tanner getting caught kissing DJ's teacher at school. That's good TV.

The Cosby Show, Newhart, Cheers, Growing Pains, Family Ties, The Hogan Family, Silver Spoons, Perfect Strangers, Who's The Boss, Head Of The Class, Charles In Charge, Night Court, and on and on--the 80's was the sitcom decade.

Wait a second... I think that's it!

Yes. That's it.

I, Bone, in front of God, bloggers everywhere, and bitter ex-girlfriends who lurk on my blog, do hereby coin the phrase, The Sitcom Generation.

We may be forced to watch reality TV, but that doesn't mean we have to like it. You can kill the sitcom, but you cannot kill us. Why? Because we learned how to obtain infinite lives on Super Mario Brothers.

Now if you'll excuse me, I believe VH-1 is about to replay the most recent episode of Scott Baio Is 45 & Single.

143 all.

"When did reality become TV? Whatever happened to sitcoms, game shows? And on the radio Springsteen, Madonna. Way before Nirvana, there was U2, and Blondie,
and music still on MTV..."


  1. Scott Baio Is 45 & Single.

    Bitter ex-girlfriends who lurk on your blog?

    May I take those two comments and link them--as only bloggers can do?

    Here only doctors and drug dealers had pagers. It was the way to tell--sometimes they were one and the same

    You're just jealous because you didn't get a cool name like Boomer--and where do you think all those sit coms on Nick at Night and I forget the name of the new one emanated from?

    First they were written for Boomer's to be amused, then Boomer's wrote them--not so much to amuse but to make you think the deeper thoughts in life or to make you crazy

    Actually Gen X was first coined by Jay Mcinery (sic) and/or Brett Ellis to describe people born in 1959-60, but a name was needed for a generation so....

    After all this, I enjoyed your post

  2. Not understanding how a generation can span enough for both the parent and child to be in the same gen? But I guess that wasn't the point. I don't understand the need to label us. Why? I'm a person...not a generation. I worked my butt off to not conform (well except to the click of friends I hung around with!) Since I never had a pager I don't fit in your generation either. Oh well...see that age difference should separate the generations.

  3. Maybe your bitter ex-girlfriends can get together with my stalker ex-boyfriend and kill each other off.

    On another note, good post. :) Though I'm younger than Generation X, I was addicted to most of those shows when I was younger. My dad had one of those pagers, and yes..I have used a payphone. Many times in fact. I didn't get a cell phone until midway through 2006.

  4. I do miss good sitcoms.

    psssstttt...How do you get to Kinlock falls?

  5. Lol I cant believe that I made the cut! lmao (and with room!!!) lol I loved sitcoms in the 80's... I guess this generation will be known as the reality show generation lol Idk which is worse!

    Hey I love the new photo! I didnt know you play. ummmm but I think that ball would have been out! That or you have one heck of a serve! lmao!

    Oh and if they lurk that means they still care! =p

  6. Pia: I don't see what one statement has to do with the other :)

    Yeah, I forgot about the drug dealer stigma that came with having a pager.

    A bit jealous, perhaps. But more just unhappy with the term Generation X, and it's description.

    Renee: The Sitcom Generation will not be ageist. It welcomes all who lived during, and fondly remember, these times.

    Jen: It just hit me as I was writing this that with cell phones so popular, a lot of people never had to use a payphone. Glad to know you've used one :)

    Kontan: Me too! Psssst... I left some directions on your blog :)

    Kate: Yeah, I think this is definitely the reality show generation. I prefer sitcoms.

    Believe me, that serve looks much better than it probably turned out :)

  7. Don't forget Eric Clapton. I think of Eric Clapton more than anyone else. Oh, yes. And Santana. Of course, they've both had staying power, but to me, they WERE my generation, too. And THE WHO were just ending their reign (final tour) when I was in college, but Fleetwood Mac was touring with TUSK, and The Rolling Stones were fighting and touring and debating whether or not they were going to go on hiatus. Life was interesting.

    We had a term for those bands that produced the hits you had to have, but just that one single. "One Hit Wonders"... Meat Loaf was perhaps my favorite. The only one of his I have is Paradise by the Dashboard Light, and then there was Golden Earring with Radar Love.

    I had a pager, too, but I have no clue what 143 was; I used 911 all the time to communicate with both hubby and friends. My answering service were the only ones who could access the alpha.

  8. I think I had a pager for all of 2 seconds before I made the switch to cell phone.

    My sister was born in '62 and I was born in '72 and you could not find 2 people who are more different in terms of what we remember from our youth even though we're both technically Gen X'ers.

  9. Alex P. Keaton... sigh.

    It saddens me to think the next generation will never know the utter joy of purchasing a cassette single. They'll never know the experience of listening to the B-side and hearing either a totally crap song, or a song you wind up liking better than the A-side. Heck, they may not even know what an A-side is.

    I know!!!! CDs just don't have the same value!!! I remembered fast-forwarding, rewinding, fast-forwarding again... all to TRY and get the tape to start at the right spot: not too soon, not too late.

    And I'm going to have that song in my head for the entire flight home, and I'm blaming it on you :-P

  10. 1981?!?!? shew I just barely made the cut-off, but I'm glad I'm there!

    I'm sure I sound like someone's grandmother when I see re-runs and tell younger people around me, "They just don't produce things like that anymore!" or lose my mind when a Breathe song comes on the radio.

    I'm not shamed to admit that I clearly remember watching The Cosby Show finale alone in my bedroom and crying. I mean, I squalled. My mother finally came in and was apalled that I was crying about such a thing. Looking back, I completely understand my sadness. It wasn't just the end of a TV show, it was the beginning of the end of an era.

    Great post, Bone.

    P.S. The Super Mario theme song is one of my new ring tones. I haven't used it yet, but I will. And soon.

  11. "We may be forced to watch reality TV, but that doesn't mean we have to like it. You can kill the sitcom, but you cannot kill us. Why? Because we learned how to obtain infinite lives on Super Mario Brothers." Heh he he...
    I don't care for 'reality tv' either.

    Also I'm not a Generation Xer but I have a nice cassette recorder/raido, that I fashioned together from bits and pieces from broken ones, which I still use.

  12. Gay: Wow, those are some great One Hit Wonders you mentioned! And I think Clapton's annual all-day guitar festival was this weekend.

    I'll reveal what 143 means if no one else who comments knows it.

    Xinher: I didn't know you had a sister! Or a pager! :)

    TC: Was that a "I had a crush on Alex P. Keaton" sigh? ;-)

    Glad that I could provide you with some mental music for your flight.

    Avery Laine: I was more sad when Cheers ended, for some reason. I think it was just that final scene, with someone coming to the door and Sam looking thru the glass and saying, "Sorry. We're closed." *sniff*

    Ooo, an SMB ringtone?!?! (Chandler Bing voice) Can I be more excited?

    GirlFPS: Wow, you sound quite resourceful :)

    I still have a dual-cassette deck in my living room. Just in case.

  13. I don't have full memory of some that you mentioned... but I know some.

    So what am I?
    I was born in '82.
    We're Generation Jackass.

    I love your creativity with this post. I love your brain.

    143 to you, too, mister!

  14. 143 right back atcha!
    {Ok I only know what means because I wikipediaed it}

  15. as always, great post. You must not have too many bitter girlfriends lurking for if they were really bitter, they'll be slinging darts via comments...

    As a Boomer who lived through the 80s without a TV... I've missed all those sitcoms. I do remember watching (generally at bitter girlfriends homes) Hill Street Blues.

    143--that requires you to read, doesn't it, or did they make Hitchhiker into a sitcom and I not know it (isn't that the key to the universe in Doug Adams books?)

  16. Oh but I have been in love with Eric since forever. Had front row seats at one concert. My friend was six months pregnant--still believe her daughter came out a lover of all things rock because of that concert.

    Knew exactly where he stayed when in NY--two blocks from my apartment, and never stalked him, never even went for tea at The Lowell, where he stayed--regret that now

    OK Bone, obviously you have adopted Scott Baio as a role model--somebody had to--what lessons are you learning :)

  17. I miss gen X by a few years. I love sitcoms though, You left out my favorites - My Two Dads and Family Matters
    I had a pager about two years ago, the company finally realized the we needed cell phones instead.
    My mom had a pager for years while I was growing up. She made sure I knew to only put 911 at the end if it was a real emergency. Pick me up a happy meal is apparently not good cause for a 911 text ;) lol I got in trouble for that a few times.

  18. 143...I had to look it up. I obviously never had a pager. I wanted one though.

    I am proud to be a member of the sitcom generation.

  19. Blondie: I don't have full memory of much of anything O:) Thanks, dear. I'm bringing 143 back!

    GirlFPS: Cool! Knowing 143 is in Wikipedia only makes me love Wikipedia more :)

    Sage: I do remember watching (generally at bitter girlfriends homes) Hill Street Blues.

    LOL Great show. And a great line.

    Pia: So you're hypothesizing that playing Eric Clapton music to unborn babies may influence them to love rock music? That makes me wonder what reading my blog aloud to unborn babies would do. Someone should commission a study.

    I'm learning a couple of things from Scott B. I'm not sure whether or not he'll ever get married. But I might :)

    Melanie: Yes, it seems near the end of my pager days everyone was using 911 on most every page. Kinda like The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

    Charlottalove: We're really starting to get some members now! :)

  20. Awwww, this post made me so nostalgic! I thought I was the queen of cool when I got my first pager, and oh how awesome we all thought we were when learned how to spell out words that you could only read by holding the pager upside down!
    And cassette singles! My last few cars haven't even HAD tape decks :-(
    I'm going to have to edumacate my kids on the importance of these things!!!
    Great post!!
    Um, but what up with the bitter ex thing? You got a stalker? One with night vision ;-) Oh, wait, not that I know anything about that ;-)

  21. Great post:)
    I didn't know about 143 or single cassettes, but I remember that 45's were 99 cents. What a bargain!

    I thought the boomer dates were between 1946 and 1964--but it doesn't matter to me, since I don't feel like a boomer OR an X'er. I saw that one columnist my age ('63), proclaimed us the Disco Generation, because we're the ones who cried over not being quite old enough for that silly R rating on Saturday Night Fever. And listened to the BeeGees, and didn't even criticize them for remaking Beatles songs. Oy. What bad taste we had!

    But I loved Cheers and Newhart! And Bowling for Soup, too:)

  22. Scarily, I am in your generation but I don't know what the 143 page is.

    I think our generation could be defined not only by TV sitcoms but by music like you said. Wouldn't it be better if we were called the Pop Culture Generation?!?!

    I have to catch the re-run of Scott Baio, I did catch Brett Michael's House of Love rerun to see what cat fights may have broken out last week.

  23. Wellllll... I go all the way back to 45's for 99 cents... but I understand the concern for A & B sides! And I remember when GOOD tv was 14Lucy! :)
    Great post!

  24. I tagged you over on my blog. I know you don't do that sort of thing, but couldn't help myself :) Hope your week's a great one! :)

  25. Thanks for reminding me about Alf. I loved Perfect Strangers! Spot on for the Sitcom Generation (although I probably watched only half of what you mentioned here. Third-world, remember?)

    And around the time I started buying tape in the mid-80's it costs around P 35 to P 40. I remember my first tape - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts! Goodness.

  26. awww.

    this post made me go rummaging thru my closet and buried way in the back I found my old boombox and the mix tape my high school boyfriend made for me.

    It takes two to make a thing go right, it takes two to make it outta sight

  27. Arlene: Night vision? lol Wow, sounds like a story I need to hear :)

    Actonbell: Yeah, I'm not sure how official any of these dates are. Seems everyone has slightly different ones.

    I really miss Newhart. It was brilliant.

    Carnealian: Well, isn't pop culture just whatever is current?

    Scott Baio is pretty interesting. I don't think I can bring myself to watch the Brett Michaels show.

    Melli: I think I actually had a couple of 45's myself. Van Halen's "Jump" and The Jacksons/Mick Jagger's "State of Shock" come to mind :)

    Jennifer: I have done tags in the past, just not in awhile. Thanks for the mention though :)

    Lightheaded: Wasn't Alf's real name Gordon Shumway, or something like that? Why in the world do I remember that?

    ACG: I miss the days when the way to a girl's heart was thru a mix tape.