Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Thane and the Flapper

Presenting Shakespeare to a modern audience, whether on screen or on stage, always raises the question to the producers of how faithfully to stage a play. One can make purists happy and simply present it as written. This is a frequently chosen option on stage. On film this approach has had success here and there – though on film “more-or-less faithfully” is almost always the qualifier. There is no doubt, though, that this approach limits your potential audience, especially with regard to the majority of people who were force-fed some Shakespeare in high school but haven’t read him since. While few among this majority will admit up front that they don’t appreciate Shakespeare, the truth is that they typically expect to struggle with the Elizabethan dialogue; they seldom are eager to work that hard.

Sometimes producers and scriptwriters completely and loosely re-write the whole thing into a modern setting, e.g. West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet) and 10 Things I Hate about You (The Taming of the Shrew). Others re-edit, as in Orson Welles’ Chimes at Midnight, which combines extracts of plays in which Falstaff is a character. Still others change the setting while keeping violence to the text to a minimum, as in Richard Loncraine’s 1995 Richard III set in an alternate 1930s with Richard III as a fascist leader. All four of those examples work. I could list many that don’t. Nonetheless, I’m not put off by experiments of these kinds any more than by the faithful productions, which brings us to the off-Broadway Macbeth, currently playing at the Players Theatre in Greenwich Village.

The description sounded too off-beat to pass up: Macbeth set in a 1920s speakeasy. Oh, it’s a musical and Lady Macbeth is in drag. Oddly enough, it works. There are liberties taken with the text, but far fewer than one might think – mostly in the form of cuts, but then we get a couple of sonnets sung that are not in the original. Only the sets, costumes, and demeanors place the events among Prohibition crime bosses; when the characters speak they speak of Scotland, not of territories of Chicago.  Will’s iambs prove remarkably adaptable to bluesy tunes written by Eric Fletcher – again the words are straight from the text, with relatively few liberties such as line repetitions as refrains.  The Weird Sisters are a burlesque troupe including Eric himself. Despite the surreal elements and the humor, this Macbeth is still a dark and effective drama. I don’t recommend it for Shakespeare novices. It would be hard to appreciate this production properly without a familiarity with the play as written or as traditionally performed. But with that prior exposure, this version is marvelous.

Regrettably, it closes October 4 after a (planned) short engagement. One hopes this will not be the last we see of it.

The Weird Sisters


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fireside Chats

Today I (and a Stihl chainsaw) took down an evergreen that no longer was ever green. Only a few feet from the foundation, it was threatening to come down by itself on a corner of the roof. The trees that were felled by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 had missed the roof only by sheer chance. They had swayed back and forth in the winds before toppling the other away, so I figured the roof’s luck was used up and avoidable risks should be avoided.

The pieces of the newly cut tree join the piles of logs from the trees felled by the hurricane. Nearly all the logs are unsplit; I split them only as I need them, which isn’t often enough to burn through more than a minor fraction of them before they rot. Though I do use my fireplace in the autumn and winter, I don’t often use it alone. I’ve done it on rare occasion. Staring into flames by oneself is a comfortable way to zone out. This is, in fact, the normal response when alone; studies show that the alpha waves spike as the brain’s left side largely shuts down. The identical response is found in people watching TV (alone or not), which may explain a lot. It is quite another matter with company by a fire, however; we don’t shut down at all. I’m much more likely to go to the not inconsiderable trouble of using the fireplace if several or more people are present. There is something about a fire is that conducive to conversation.

The tie between fire and conversation has deep roots in the species – and in the genus. How far back our ancestors controlled fire is a matter of some debate. There is good archaeological evidence for barbecue pits 400,000 years old. Much more controversially, some anthropologists, arguing from dentition and gut structure, propose dates a million or more years earlier. See Richard Wrangham: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. Perhaps just as important as what they were cooking, though, was what they were saying, for language was the killer app for the genus, and hearthside is a good place to get chatty. This, at least is an argument made by anthropology professor Polly Wiessner at the University of Utah in a study published a few days ago in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Polly proposes that nighttime gatherings around the fire – as opposed to practical workaday daylight activities – encouraged the kind of social interaction, storytelling, and verbal conveyance of tradition that are unique to humans. For all the singing they did in their own days, ancient storytellers might be the unsung heroes of human evolution. This hypothesis cannot be tested, of course, but a look at the few remaining peoples living pre-agricultural lifestyles might give some insights. In order to discover what present-day hunter-gatherers talk about at night, Wiessner examined the hearthside conversations of !Kung Bushmen in the Kalahari:

“Night activities steer away from tensions of the day to singing, dancing, religious ceremonies, and enthralling stories, often about known people. Such stories describe the workings of entire institutions in a small-scale society with little formal teaching. Night talk plays an important role in evoking higher orders of theory of mind via the imagination, conveying attributes of people in broad networks (virtual communities), and transmitting the ‘big picture’ of cultural institutions that generate regularity of behavior, cooperation, and trust at the regional level.”

One only can imagine what the !Kung had to say about Professor Wiessner after she left.

In Western households, the replacement of fire with the artificial glow of television screens long has worried social pundits because the conveyance of information is unidirectional. Nowadays, though, the TV screen more often than not is replaced by the computer screen, so social interaction by an artificial fire has made a comeback of sorts, this time on social media. That is not quite the same as face to face contact, but it is perhaps an improvement over passive viewing. Nonetheless, I’ll split some of those logs and load up the firebox for future get-togethers around the real thing. I’ll have to come up with some new stories; everyone I know already has heard my best ones. I’ll try to make the new ones “enthralling,” though that’s a pretty high standard. Where’s a hunter-gatherer when you need one?

Fireside Company

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Oneiric Homestead

Last night was a dream-filled one for some reason. Maybe it was the crab burger earlier at the Claremont Tavern. The dreams had no coherent story arc as some of my dreams do. The location, though, was clear. They took place at my parents’ house on West Main Street in Brookside, which was home for nearly 20 years. Apparently my subconscious still regards it as such. The majority of my dreams range widely geographically, but, in the fairly large minority of cases when I do dream of being “home,” that home 80% of the time is the one on West Main Street. Most of the remaining 20% take place at the modest Schoolhouse Lane property that was the first real estate ever to be in my own name. If I ever had a dream set in my current house I don’t remember it even though I’ve lived here since 2001. There are occasions when I dream it is 2014 and I am my current age, but still live at West Main Street. More typically, though, it is decades ago and the house is also occupied by my parents and sister – even my dog – all of whom in reality are long gone now. It makes for a pleasant visit.

My dad, a builder, built the West Main Street house. I remember seeing it while it was being framed. I also remember the day we moved in. It was 1959 and I was 6. I played on the front yard with a stick that was my imaginary sword for battling pirates. (Nowadays boys are suspended from school if they are spotted acting out imaginary violence like that – though blowing things up in video games seems to be OK.) I remember, quite a few years later, swimming with my girlfriend Angela in the spring-fed pond in the back yard by the barn as well as the phone call (and the phone number) which ended that relationship. In between the stick and the phone call were the growing-up years, full of good times and hard, that weigh so much more in our lives than any other time period of the same objective length.

Unlike my house on Schoolhouse Lane, which after I sold it was torn down and replaced by one much larger, the West Main Street property still looks much the same as it did 40 or 50 years ago. I live only 6 miles away and pass it regularly when going to the town hall or post office. Yet, there is no sense of nostalgia or possession when seeing it awake. If the current owners choose to copy those on Schoolhouse Lane by tearing the structures down and building something else, I’ll feel no twinge. It’s a place where other people are making their memories now. Besides I seem fated to visit it repeatedly at night, and that’s enough.

Cass Elliot

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Henry XVII

Love him or hate him, at 91 Henry Kissinger remains one of the foremost analysts of world affairs and foreign policy. See earlier blog The World of Henry’s Orient for remarks on his roles as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford.

Henry is noted as a practitioner of Realpolitik whose foreign policy prescriptions typically are, in his terms, Westphalian. This is a reference to the 1648 Peace of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years War. Many of the norms of modern diplomacy were developed at that time, including the convention of treating states and their representatives as equal negotiating partners. The Peace itself and international conduct for many years following it, at least among the major European nations, were characterized by hardheaded calculations of the balance of power among states, divorced from concerns of ideology or religion within those states. A modern example would be the US rapprochement with China – with which Kissinger was intimately involved – to counter what was then rising Soviet military power that disquieted both; both countries shelved ideological differences for the purpose.

Yet, he is aware of the limits to this approach. The philosophy underlying it is not shared by all the players, though they may appeal to it for tactical reasons. During the Cold War, ideology unlimited by national boundaries was at the core of the dispute. Religion is a motivating force in recent challenges, again without respect to national boundaries. There are ethnic-historical motives at play, such as in Ukraine. (For Kissinger’s opinion on Ukraine 6 months ago, see How the Ukraine Crisis Ends.) The USA itself rarely adopts a Westphalian policy – we prefer not to speak of power balances but in selfless universal terms such as “defending freedom and democracy” while of necessity reverting to the pursuit of strictly national interests in desultory fashion; the result is a back and forth lurch of policy so illogical that others sometimes mistakenly think there must be some hidden plan to it. "No country has played such a decisive role in shaping contemporary world order as the United States," writes Henry, "nor professed such ambivalence about participating in it.”

Kissinger’s latest book World Order is now on bookshelves, and plainly was updated to the last possible minute before publication. The thought must have crossed his mind that this book might be his last, for he expresses his fundamental philosophy as compendiously as in any of his 16 previous books. With a deep sense of history, he describes the development of competing worldviews from ancient times to today, and how these relate to (or conflict with) modern Westphalian considerations. He offers no grand solution (nor does he indicate any belief such a thing is possible) but he does offer some advice to US policymakers. As a handbook for the world as it is and how it got that way, it is, for its modest length (377 pages plus notes), hard to do better than World Order.

Whatever this is, it sums up the book correctly

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Party Rolls On

Recap: 9/13/14 Corporal Punishers vs Philly Block Party

Having seen the Philadelphia team skate several times before, I knew the home team Morristown Corporal Punishers had an uphill fight. The Punishers knew it too, and were ready for it.

In the very first jam Philly jammer Goldie scored 28 points in multiple passes while Philly blocking kept the Morristown score to zero. Throughout the bout, Goldie repeatedly was able to pass through the pack almost as if through viscous liquid rather than solid bodies, most often by exploiting any hole in the defense. Only once was she taken down seriously – by Doom Hilda in the second half. Holden Killfield was the other key jammer for Philly – also taken down roughly once in the second half. Along with other Philly skaters they steadily racked up points.

Morristown fought back with aggressive tactics. ApocElyse put the first points on the board for the Punishers. Brass Muscles, LL Kill J, CaliforniKate and Lil Mo Peep in turn jammed against fierce Philly blocking. At 15 minutes in, the score had closed to a very competitive 55-35 favoring Philly. A redoubled effort reexpanded the Philly edge, however, and by halftime led by 110-46.

In the second half, Morristown chipped away at the Philly lead for several jams, but once again the Block Party leaned into the bout, mounting up points in and out of power jams. Despite numerous successful jams, including a triple pass by ApocElyse and the final points of the game added by CaliforniKate, Philly’s power prevailed. Nonetheless, the Punishers had put up a worthy fight against a strong opponent.

The Block Party took the win 232-107.

MVPs – Corporal Punishers: jammer – ApocElyse/blocker – Easthell Getty
              Block Party: jammer – Holden Killfield /blocker – Quazi Mojo

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reel Time

Yes, it’s review time again. Below are mini-reviews of four flicks I’ve recently encountered. Once again, I paired each as a double feature with an older film of which the first reminded me.

** **

St Trinian’s (2007)
St. Trinian’s School is the fictional English girls’ boarding school created by Ronald Searle (1920-2011) in his marvelously dark cartoons published beginning in the 1940s. I feel the need to mention that only because time passes. I’ve met younger people who were unaware that The Addams Family is based on the work of cartoonist Charles Addams, whose humor is so like Searle’s; so, it is possible they don’t know Searle either. I have collections of both cartoonists on my shelves, and recommend them. The Belles of St. Trinian’s appeared on the big screen in 1954 with Alastair Sim in a dual role as the headmistress and her brother; the movie was and is very well-regarded, and it spawned sequels.

Accordingly, the 2007 reboot faced a high bar. Did it clear the bar? Not really, despite a pretty decent cast including Talulah Riley, Russell Brand, Rupert Everett, and a young Juno Temple. Not only is the script dull, it is, weirdly, fundamentally tamer than the 1954 version. One assumes the 1950s girls would have handled the spoils of the art heist differently, for example. (I’ll forgo the spoiler of explaining that.) In fairness, this film seems aimed at a young audience – younger than the upper form students in the film. But without their lethal edge, the girls are merely naughty, and not in a good way. If you’re 14 or over, stick with the original.

Finishing School (1934)
Set in an expensive girls school, this enjoyable pre-code features bad girl Ginger Rogers (“Pony”) explaining to new naive arrival Francis Dee (Virginia) that the key to happiness at the school and in life is to appear good rather than to be good:

Virginia: “But if they have those rules, and we're on our honor, I...”
Pony: “Honor? You're supposed to do exactly as you please in this old ladies home for nice young gals. Just don't get caught, that's all.”

The headmistress seems to agree: when Virginia gets caught on a tryst, the headmistress reprimands her specifically for having been seen, especially since the fellow, an intern, is (horrors) middle class. She continues to see the not-so-young man (Ralph, aka "Mac"), however. Despite a camera cutaway, Virginia and Ralph obviously have sex in the boathouse. Once again she fails to cover her tracks. In Virginia’s mind she is doing nothing wrong, but she is subjected to a humiliating examination by the school nurse. This is the final straw, so she runs off with Ralph; the two abandon the school and the older generation to their hypocrisy.

** **

Side Effects (2013)
There are some movies in which it is fun to follow the twists and turns even if you already know what is coming; there are others that are spoiled by knowing what is around the bend. This is one of the latter, so it makes a useful review difficult to write. The mostly unspoiled gist: Emily’s husband is fresh out of prison where he did time for insider trading. Yet, Emily continues to have depression and other mental health issues because of financial woes and stress. The usual pharmaceuticals don’t help, so her shrink (Catherine Zeta-Jones) prescribes Emily a new drug. The drug works, but a side effect is sleepwalking. Emily performs quite elaborate tasks while sleepwalking. One morning she wakes up and discovers she has stabbed her husband to death in her sleep. Or did she? There is a trial and intrigue involving her shrink and her lawyer that I really shouldn’t explain further. If you like suspenseful mysteries, this is a pretty good one.

The Wasp Woman (1959)
This film doesn’t score well on Rotten Tomatoes, but there is a type of viewer who will enjoy it. I’m one of them. In this silly, cheesy, but campy 1950s scifi Roger Corman romp, aging cosmetics company CEO Janice Starlin is counting on a new anti-aging cream developed by an eccentric but brilliant scientist. She insists on experimenting on herself. Derived from the royal jelly of wasps, the stuff works fabulously. Uh-oh, there are side effects. Janice transforms into a giant wasp from time to time and kills people. Oh well, so long as she looks good. If you enjoy ‘50s scifi, you’ll like this. If you demand 21st century production values, you won’t.

** **

Blended (2014)
I don’t know at whom this romantic comedy is aimed, but it isn’t at me. It is a kind of Brady Bunch with more bathroom humor. Adam Sandler is the single father of girls and Drew Barrymore is the single mother of boys. They have a horrible first date. They don’t plan to see each other again. If only they had kept their resolve and spared us the rest of this movie. Instead, due to an absurdly contrived circumstance, both find themselves vacationing in Sun City, South Africa. You know the rest. The exotic location doesn’t help – it doesn’t help the movie, that is. We know it will make Adam and Drew a couple. If the managers and workers at the Sun City resort are not insulted by this movie, they ought to be. I like Drew Barrymore as an actress and as a director (e.g. Whip It), but she can’t rescue this tripe.

Love before Breakfast (1936)
It is possible for romantic comedies to be witty and enjoyable without being especially highbrow. Scriptwriters had a better handle on this in the ‘30s, though the less cynical cultural presuppositions of the time certainly helped. Carole Lombard is pursued both by Cesar Romero and Preston Foster. Carole’s mother prefers Preston because he is much richer, but Carole favors Cesar while trying to deflect Preston. Preston buys the oil company for which Cesar works just so he can transfer him to Japan with a big pay raise. Carole’s mother (and we) can see that Carole’s arguments with Preston really stem from a greater interest, and that a big motive for dating Cesar is to annoy Preston. Yes, she and Preston end up together, arguing happily at the end. Cesar seems to get the worst of it, but at least he got a pay raise out of it – Preston wasn’t such a jerk as to fire him, as he probably would in a 2014 film. Lightweight, but fun.

** **

Cheap Thrills (2013)
In this dark comedy, two buddies, Craig and Vince, are struggling financially. In a bar they encounter a rich twosome who get their kicks by offering Craig and Vince money to do things they wouldn’t do ordinarily. They start with minor challenges and escalate them so each new transgression doesn’t seem that much worse than what they did already. Before long, the dares get truly nasty and criminal. Overlying the theme of class is the individual moral question: how far would you go for money? How much money? Maybe further than we’d like to admit, and for less, especially if nudged little by little. Not a pleasant film, but pretty good.

Cat’s Eye (1985)
A roaming cat ties together three separate stories of mild suspense. In Quitters, Inc. James Woods enters a clinic to quit smoking and discovers it is run using the methods of organized crime. Failure to quit thereby will bring retaliation not just on himself but on his wife and daughter. In The Ledge a gambler and crime boss discovers his estranged wife has been having an affair with a tennis pro (Robert Hays). Still jealous, he threatens revenge, but offers to let Hays (and his own wife) go if Hays can walk all the way around the tall building on a narrow ledge. Hays takes the challenge. In General, General the cat takes on a small troll that lives in the walls and comes out to harm a girl (a 9-y.o. Drew Barrymore) while she sleeps. It’s a pleasant enough film, and not too intense for kids. Just don’t expect too much of it.

** **

If I had to choose two, they would be Cheap Thrills from the new views and Finishing School from the old ones.

Ronald Searle

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Quad Squads: Derby Double Header

After a summer of derby dearth, roller derby returned to Morristown NJ last night with a double header: the women’s NJRD All Stars vs Lehigh Valley Metal Vixens and the men’s Jersey Boys Roller Derby (JBRD) vs Capital District Trauma Authority.

Following the anthem sung by NJRD Small Stars junior derby skaters Lil Miss and Fast’n’Furious, the ladies were up first. Whatever home court advantage existed for the All Stars was balanced by a greater depth of skaters on the Metal Vixens’ bench. In the first jam, MJ Slammer snared 8 points for the Vixens, a harbinger of things to come; MJ and fellow Vixen jammer HotgunZ would skate particularly impressively. Over the past two years the All Stars have developed a smart defense, breaking the pack and forming walls as needed; this was on display, but the Vixens blockers proved adept at disrupting All Star tactics, making for a very physical bout. Pixie Bust and Bitty Boom Boom took down Vixen jammers in single hits while Lin Diesel hit hard for Lehigh. Vixen walls at times were impenetrable. Miss USAHole, Chase Windu, Slam Hathaway, and Maulin Rouge nonetheless added points for the All Stars. At halftime the score stood at 94-50 in favor of the Vixens. In the second half, the All Stars sought to erode the Vixen lead. With fewer fresh skaters to rotate onto the track, the All Stars were visibly tiring, yet they succeeded at chipping away at the Vixen lead. Maulin Rouge showed her usual agility and burst of speed. Despite the effort, and a final power jam by Chase Windu, the whistle blew with a final score of 162-128, victory to Vixens.

MVPs – All Stars: jammer – Maulin Rouge/blocker – Rosa Ruckus
              Metal Vixens: jammer – MJ Slammer/blocker – Hellrazin’ Hussy
** **

In what appeared at first to be a reverse image of the women’s bout, the home team JBRD took an early lead over the Trauma Authority, leading by 22 points 7 minutes into the bout. It soon turned into a very different kind of match. The Trauma Authority retook the lead which then traded back and forth until the final minutes of the bout. Papi Chuleta and Scooter McGoot jammed strongly for JBRD through blocking that frequently was fierce – Pepi was taken down particularly hard at one point. Herzog and Massacre jammed surefootedly for Trauma. With 8 minutes remaining in the bout, Trauma led 109-108. In a final push, Scooter and Papi racked up points for JBRD and the lead changed again. Final score was JBRD 153/Trauma Authority 123.

MVPs – JBRD: jammer – Scooter McGoot/blocker – I Don’t Care Bear
             Trauma Authority: jammer – Herzog/blocker – Hart

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

On Wanting Something Else

Several years ago I acquired a quasi-niece (long story), now 22, who, frequently with friends, spends almost as much time at my house as at her mom’s. One upside to this for me is a less distant exposure to Millennials than otherwise would be the case. It is often entertaining, if only for sociological reasons.

Some argue that any division of people into generations is arbitrary and meritless, but I can see some value to it. There really are moments in history which impact the people who experience them as youths in characteristic ways. Two people who experienced WW2 at 20, for example, even if diametrically opposed in political and economic views, will have much more in common with each other than with a Boomer of any philosophy; they grew up with the same music, the same cultural presuppositions, and the same physical environment.

William Straus and Neil Howe in their book Generations argue that generations are formed by “social moments” that are analogous to watersheds. Social watersheds need not be tall, but they in many ways determine how we flow. There is some disagreement about the boundaries between generations, especially by those who were born near a commonly accepted one and would prefer to be on the other side. Also, the world is not in synch; there is a strong correspondence of generational types nation-to-nation in the West, but types may vary a lot elsewhere. But granting some fuzziness at the edges, the generations still with us break down roughly as follows in the US.

GI Generation: This group is dwindling fast. It consists of those old enough to have served in WW2 (even if in fact they didn’t) but too young also to have served in WW1. This makes 1928 the last birth year that would qualify.

Silent Generation: They were born 1929 – 1945. They are called the Silents because they had so much to say and loudly: Martin Luther King, Ted Turner, Gloria Steinem, William Shatner, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, etc. They invented rock-n-roll. So they were, y’know, quiet. All of the 60s social revolutions for which Boomers like to take credit were really effectuated by the Silents (with support from a few key GIs); Boomers were too young to do much more than follow (or, in some cases, boo).

Baby Boomers: 1946-64. There actually are four distinct sub-cohorts of this group, each with its own flavor: those born in the1940s fully experienced the 1950s as kids/tweens and they turned 20 in the 1960s; those 1950-55 (my cohort) remember the 1950s but as small kids, and we experienced the 60s as teens; 1956-60 don’t remember the 1950s (except perhaps as fuzzy snippets) but knew the 1960s as tweens; 1961-64 remember the 1960s as kids. Yet, all four cohorts do retain enough commonality of social experience to belong together. We all romped in the freewheeling 1970s, when the 60s social revolution came to full fruition, as young adults.

Generation X: Cynical X tossed aside the loony ideals and flamboyance of the 60s in favor of pragmatic career choices and goth/grunge gloom. 1965 is the start, but the last birth year is a matter of debate. 1979 is one commonly chosen number. Some people place the end date a few years earlier or a few years later, depending on whom they want to include or exclude.

Millennials, aka Gen Y: Starting date is debated, but 1980 is a common one, if only because the oldest members are still under 35 this year. 2000 is a common end date. The next group presumably is Generation Z which sounds like they’re zombies.

Anyway, getting back to the Millennials in the house, I couldn’t help overhearing a discussion about their futures. All wanted “a life less ordinary.” None wanted to settle down or close any doors for themselves for at least a decade if ever. None wanted to settle. None wanted to just “live up to low expectations.” They aimed “higher.”

I can relate to that. Boomers talked a lot like that, too, to the puzzlement and irritation of our parents. The GI Generation experienced a Depression and a World War; to them, a secure boring job, a cozy marriage, and a modest Cape Cod house on a quarter-acre lot was aiming high. It was called the American Dream. Boomers, benefiting from the wealth our parents created, dreamed more imaginatively (LSD might have helped too), though perhaps less successfully. Xers and Millennials continued their drift from the GI’s Dream. Take marriage: two thirds of the Silents aged 18-32 were married; only 48% of Boomers 18-32 were married; 35% of Xers in that age span had tied the knot; in today’s 18-32 group 26% are married. In 1992 78% of graduating college students said they wanted kids at some point; in 2012 only 42% said they wanted ever to have them (Ref: study by Prof. Stewart Friedman at the University of Pennsylvania). The current generation sees no point in running into such constrictive responsibility. Rather than a conventional life, they want something…else. Something more, not necessarily in the sense of material wealth.

Once again, this is not a new thought. Ben (Dustin Hoffman) in The Graduate (1967) says about his future, “I want it to be different.” He means different from his parents’ lives, but he obviously has no idea what the alternative might be.

Well, it is normal to want more, I suppose, whether in material or Bohemian terms. It might be a bad idea to expect it though. It leads to disappointment, which might explain the extraordinary (legal) use of anti-depressants among twenty-somethings. But so long as the hopes are tempered with realism, there is nothing really wrong with crying “more, more, more!”

Billy Idol (b.1955)