We had no worries about growing up or growing old because the intensity of life made us certain that there would be no old age for us. Free moments became mad scampers, no thought given to what might happen because fuck that noise about being semi-charmed, we were Young Turks creating our own charming revolution with high-octane cocktails that we chugged to drown out the warnings about sex that could kill you and drugs named after part of your ass.
I remember one 3 a.m. as a man in my 20s, hanging onto the roof of a car as it sped along a highway, my scalp crawling from the great whoosh of air and a cornucopia of substances both licit and illicit, two thoughts running through my head like neon headlines:
You Will Never Become An Ancient
Whatever You Do, Don't Let Go
"Casualties at dawn," George Harrison said of his time in the fab light, but he was singing from a place of nostalgia — bittersweet remembrances from a guy seeing himself as an elder statesman, even though he was only 44 when he wrote it. That's the trouble with those Boomers who came of age in the '60s — they thought their time in the sun ended when they became Responsible Adults, and they wrongly thought everything that came after them was shit. They grew old before their time. The very people who swore by Dylan sank like stones instead of learning how to swim in the new water, a swamp infested with cynical sharks and ironic bastards who understand that it's one thing to sing about peace, love and understanding, but sometimes the world needs war and hate and misunderstanding so the survivors have more room.
People who came of age in the '70s and '80s: we are the Cynical and the Ironic, and woe to those who think they're going to push us from the perch anytime soon. Demographers like to cluck about the power of the Boomers and how they're going to drain the country dry as they totter off into nursing homes and live forever, but they're wrong. Boomers saw Soylent Green as a cautionary tale, a warning of what might happen if we don't group hug and try to save the planet. The Ironics? We watch that shit and say to ourselves: Turning people into food to save our own asses ... you know, that's not such a bad idea.
We are equally ruthless when it comes to those born after us — a shame, really, because even though they act like the Entitled Generation, the adults who came of age in the '90s and the '00s seem a decent enough bunch. Unfortunately (for them), they're in line behind us in the metaphorical supermarket of life, toting their 20-items-or-less baskets while we've got our four carts full of shit we may or may not need, but it's ours, goddammit, so shut your hole and wait your turn. Hope you have something to occupy your pretty little heads, too, because you're going to be waiting a long time.
We didn't have The Beatles, so George Harrison singing nostalgically about all those years ago doesn't resonate. We make fun of those who can remember every member of every boy band, and there's something charmingly stupid about people who like Gaga and compare her to Madonna (who looks scary now but don't you dare fuck with her because she will cut you to shreds and you know she can do it). We suckled on the tits of punk and alt and we thanked the gods or whatever when Nirvana killed Michael Jackson. OK, you can ding us for hair bands. No generation is perfect.
We are Tarantino and Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, bitches. We are Judd Apatow and Jony Ive, Dre and Yann Martel and Wes Motherfucking Anderson.
We are the Ironic and the Cynical and we are in charge. We're only now hitting our stride as we continue to burn. The world is still tungsten, robust and intense. My way forward is still illuminated by the neon headlines: I will never become an ancient. And whatever I do, I will not let go.