Bored fans greeting the Beatles in 1964
Big Boy and I were standing outside a local club. When the door opened we could hear the singing of the talented lady who was performing inside.
"Hey, listen Big Boy. She's singing a Beatles song!" I said.
"Yeah? Did everybody in there fall asleep?"
Busting my balls about the music of my generation is an endless source of amusement for the 20 year old Big Boy. To him such long-ago bands like the Beatles and the Stones and the Who might just as well been popular during the Civil War as the 1960's. More than once he has walked up to me and one of my equally decrepit friends as we dredge up some nearly-forgotten tidbit about the Kinks or Jefferson Airplane. "Are you two talking about the 1920's again?" he'll say.
At one point I had shown Big Boy a YouTube clip of the screaming, near-hysterical fans at the Beatles Shea Stadium concert.
"Do those people look bored to you?" I asked.
"Oh, they're all high on marijuana," said Big Boy
He's just having fun, of course, but there is one recurring theme in his good-natured jibes that leads me to believe that underneath the joking there lies a real opinion. In his over-sized heart Big Boy truly believes that the music of the 1960's is boring. To his way of thinking, I suppose, it just doesn't offer the aggressive foul-mouthed monotony that he gets from his regular diet of rap music. And now, on this rainy night outside this tiny nightclub, I'm discovering that not only does he think the sixties music was boring, but that the entire era was boring.
"Are you crazy!" I yell. "The sixties were one of the most exciting times of the last 100 years!" And then he explains:
According to Big Boy's curious theory, everybody was bored during the sixties because they didn't have the technology that we have today. There were no iPads or iPhones or texting or even personal computers.
"But those things are just delivery systems," I argue. "You're watching and listening to the same things on your smart phone that people listened to back then: movies, music, books. There's really nothing new, except how the product is accessed. Oh, maybe video games are a new form of entertainment, but that's about it."
"Going on the computer just to search information is a new form of entertainment..." argued Big Boy.
I granted him this, although I could have argued that it used to be done all the time...in a library. But really, claiming that everybody was bored in the sixties because they didn't have today's technology is absurd. And I told him so.
"Listen, Big Boy, not too long ago the highlight of a family's evening was gathering around the radio and listening to the popular shows of the day. You think they pissed and moaned because they didn't have television? They couldn't even conceive of what television was. And a few hundred years before that a family would sit around all night watching a log burn in the fireplace. Maybe once in a while they'd use a different type of wood that would cause popping noises and colorful sparks to fly out. You know what that was to them? Cinemax! And here's some more news for you. Eighty years from now some young lunkhead much like yourself is going to look back and claim that the poor people of 2011 were so bored because they didn't have the Floozenizer!"
"Nah, nothing will ever surpass the Internet," said Big Boy dismissively.
I was going to explain to him, slowly and patiently, that every generation has felt this, every era thought that they were the ones living in The Modern Age. Did he really think that the average man in the Middle Ages looked around at his world and thought, "Wow, we really are a bunch of backwards assholes."? No, they thought that their technological achievements, their hourglass and spinning wheel and such, were the greatest things to come along since sliced bread. (Which they didn't have, by the way.)
I also wanted to tell Big Boy that someday people will look back at his life with the iPod and GPS and notebook computer and find it as barbaric as we today find the family huddled around that fire. Yes, I wanted to explain all of this to Big Boy, but I found I just didn't have the energy. Besides, I was starting to get bored.