Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Generation Jones and the Doom of the Fourth Estate

So the media meltdown continues as the Tribune chain has filed for bankruptcy. What this doesn't have in common with other businesses in crisis: No one is asking for more than the usual handout, I mean bailout. What it does have in common: Blame the workers, hurt the workers, screw the workers.

The rumor I got is that those who graciously took early retirement are having their payments and maybe health benefits held up since the whole deal's now hit the courts. Who do these workers and people trying to collect their pensions think they are? Everyone knows when a business fails, it's the fault of the ones out there doing the work. The ones flying around and collecting millions in salaries and commissioning ice sculptures are just trying, trying as hard as they can, but those workers keep bringing it all down. They ask for so much. They live like kings.

So now we'll be stuck with the Post, and that's floating around on a deck chair among the icebergs too. Gotta love a paper you pick up in the hangover haze and it tells you you're a member of the the dumbest generation of the past 200 years. OK, maybe dancing with that gangster-looking guy WAS dumb, but give me a break. The Outlook piece uses the Generation Jones tag on us--that undernourished slice of a generation born between the boomers and GenX--and claims we had the worst test scores, the worst education, etc. The Millennialists, he claims, are the really smart ones.

That Generation Jones tag's got trendy Gladwell-wannabe all over it, but I kind of like it anyway, with its shucks-shuffle rhythm and undertone of illicit, unrelieved longing.

We Jonesers were alternately neglected and demonized as children? Check. We were subject to weird educational experiments (at the hands of boomers, I might add) and classrooms depleted by inflation and municipal failure? Check. We were so terrified by our free-lovin', boozin', Ice Stormin' parents that we started dressing preppy and voted for Reagan? Ah, here's where we splinter. A faction of us became obsessive autodidact punks instead.

And we're so dumb? Here's a little test: Generation Jones gave us Henry Rollins. The Millennialists claim Britney Spears. Your witness.

Speaking of newspaper cutbacks, Die, Sunday Source, Die, with your hilarious stabs at fashion and absurd "product testing" crew who write like 7th-graders ("I don't usually use anything but Ivory soap, but this body lotion smelled kind of good, like Lemon Pledge? but it felt all goopy? and made me cold when I put it on, so I threw it away. But if you like body lotion maybe you might like it. It costs $75.")

Well, I won't have it to kick around anymore. The Post claims the staff will be sucked into the Style section. Better this than subject us to more pages full of interns trying to pretend they care about heels and mascara ("I'm just obsessed with mascara--I have a dozen different kinds," one lied recently) when we know all you little DC vixens really want to talk about is the dangers of protectionist trade policy to the international economy.

Oh, and Barack Obama? Jones.

Photo: Henry, a pub job.


BA said...

oh yea! i'm generation jones too. i was jealous. thought i was a late boomer. ha. ... a little more on trib deal: apparently health benefits have been halted for "terminated employees" but i think i heard not for those who took early retirement. also, apparently, former guild-represented will get severance per contract while it's pending for the ex-merits.

FeelsRight said...

I think I've found my muse; long live Capitol Cougar. Seriously, loved this blog entry. You write smart. And funny. Me likes.

And long live Generation Jones. As if I was ever a Boomer. Or an Xer. And luckily, we got a cool name, rather than the typical lame-o generational moniker. Yeah: "...shucks-shuffle rhythm and undertone of illicit, unrelieved longing". Well put.

"Baby Boomer"? Among the all time lamest monikers. "Generation Y"? Let's it possible to be any more derivative?

But...I must take an itsy bitsy little bit of exception with your Cougarness..."undernourished slice of a generation". GenJones may be thin (only 12 birth years, 1954-1965) but it's mega-nourishing (26%of all of today's U.S. adults were born between 1954-1965). And I double-checked this statistic, lest I feed the Cougar inaccurately.

OK, bottom line: I really do think GenJones is quite cool, and...all snark aside, quite important. And I think I've got a crush on Capitol Cougar. I'm a sucker for smart writing...and a pretty eye.

Maria Padhila said...

Thanks, BA, for the accuracy...I was being lazy, but you know how often that happens. And thanks also for Guild info, cause that just goes to show--get a union! I think that was the biggest mistake Gen Jones made, to let those things slide, but we and the ones after us were afraid we wouldn't have jobs, as well as frustrated by how slowly things moved in the old models.
I think I see it happening right now with teaching--all this, yeah, bring em in from Teach for America and other "untraditional" programs. Village Voice articles, other reports, and my own experience have shown how these untrained teachers end up with frustrating and even damaging experiences for them and for the kids. We are desperate for teachers, but I'm afraid we'll end up with no certifications or checking of these people and ultimately classrooms full of lost kids (that means the teachers, too). When a bunch of failed Amway salesmen and carpetbaggers come in telling you "we need to run the schools more like a business," watch out! Cause look what happened to business...

Maria Padhila said...

Thanks for sweet words, FeelsRight...I think I meant undernourished in the sense of like Space Food Sticks and PopTarts. Does anyone remember Space Food Sticks? Vile. Tho one could hardly call Henry Rollins undernourished ;)

Anonymous said...

I hate the name Generation Jones.
I always took up with Richard Hell and considered us The Blank Generation, and I'm stickin' with it:

I was sayin let me out of here before I was
even born--it's such a gamble when you get a face
It's fascinatin to observe what the mirror does
but when I dine it's for the wall that I set a place
I belong to the blank generation and
I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation but
I can take it or leave it each time
Triangles were fallin at the window as the doctor cursed
He was a cartoon long forsaken by the public eye
The nurse adjusted her garters as I breathed my first
The doctor grabbed my throat and yelled, "God's consolation prize!"
I belong to the blank generation and
I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation but
I can take it or leave it each time

To hold the t.v. to my lips, the air so packed with cash
then carry it up flights of stairs and drop it in the vacant lot
To lose my train of thought and fall into your arms' tracks
and watch beneath the eyelids every passing dot

I belong to the blank generation and
I can take it or leave it each time
I belong to the ______ generation but
I can take it or leave it each time

-- Backstretch (can i just call myself John?)

FeelsRight said...

Well, personal taste is a big variable when it comes to generational monikers; I love the name Generation Jones, but no moniker will be universally liked.

But The Blank Generation? Not only do I hate the sound of it ("Hi, I'm a Blanker"), but both Richard Hell, and the age group he was referring to with this moniker, are Baby Boomers.

Maria Padhila said...

I forgot how good those words are. The TV part. (blank gen i mean.) Yes, you can be John. Nicknames sometimes feel a little icky W-like, but as an anonymizer myself I'm not going to be the one to give anyone away.

Pam said...

Thank you for this one. By the way, I'm an exact contemporary of Henry Rollins--born the same day, in the same city. No idea about time. This is why I don't believe in astrology.

Anyway, I was neither a punk nor a Reaganista, just a glum suburban poet in hippie skirts who was just out of sync with every damn thing.

But enough about me.

Pam said...

Oh, but more about Space Food Sticks! You can still get them via, but I don't think they're what they used to be.

Mmmm. Instant Breakfast. Cheese in a can. Magic.