Last stand against the 70s: The Thomas Crown Affair

We tend to think in terms of decades because they offer a shorthand way of describing the look, sound and style of a particular period. 

The truth, however, is that time moves in uneven increments.  The late 80s have very different feel from the early 80s, for example.

Probably the starkest peacetime shift in culture happened during the 1960s.  Compare the stylish, sauve, Henry Mancini-themed films of the early 60s with the long-haired look at the end of the decade.

The Thomas Crown Affair is one of those films that takes place at the frontier of two differing eras.  Steve McQueen is generally dapper, a man of means who dressed the part of the establishment type, but under his fitted shirts he's also wearing a gold chain with a large medallion - a very 70s stereotype.

Faye Dunaway is more nuanced, with her outfit conjuring both early 60s business style and the later bra-less 70s look - complete with slightly flared slacks.

This seems like a long digression for a movie review, but it's important because The Thomas Crown Affair is very much a piece of a specific time.  The "perfect" bank caper is dependent on the technology of the time, and the sums of money stolen will - after the end of the gold standard and a decade of stagflation - seem ludicrously small.

Indeed, bank robberies still happen, but it's no longer possible to for a the same type of profit because money is worth so much less.  In a world where nice homes cost $20,000, getting away with $100,000 is quite an achievement. 

The heart of the The Thomas Crown Affair is the dueling match between McQueen and Dunaway, and there are few actors today who could pull it off.  The interplay is a joy to watch.

Another fun part of the film is its experimentation with various split screens, which sometimes gets annoying, but is absolutely a part of the time.  I recall the Disney revival of The Love Bug used this to great effect.

The transition from 60s to 70s was before my time, and as someone who regards 70s fashion as an unmitigated disaster (well, except for the bra-less thing), movies like this are fun to watch.

Roadhouse: a movie mostly about Patrick Swayze's butt

Today's nostalgia offering is Roadhouse, another Patrick Swayze vehicle from 1989.

It falls into the odd intersection of revenge fantasy/bar film, but what truly sets it apart is Patrick Swayze's butt.

Actually, it features just about every part of the man on screen, which is an amusing juxtaposition with the usual "boobs and butts" (also rendered as "tits and ass") content of the era.

I take an increasingly dim view of that sort of thing, but at least Roadhouse is an equal opportunity offender.  By this point, Swayze was at the top of his game as a box-office draw, and seeing him as the super-cool elite bouncer who also dances with the lovely women and regularly dispenses with the need for clothing shows just how much masculinity has changed in the decades since then.

In a plot twist reminiscent of Days of Thunder, Swayze falls for the very attractive emergency room doctor who treats his knife wound.  Naturally, she falls for him because look at that glorious bod!

The soundtrack is familiar to fans of Dirty Dancing, and it alternates between 80s compositions and classic 60s tunes designed to set the mood.

There is something like a plot involving a greedy local businessman who tries to run Swayze out of town, but it's one of those tropes that allow the minimum acceptable level of character development.  Like so many movies of this type, the plot can only proceed because none of the protagonists are carrying a revolver, which would have resolved the thing in half the run time.

I've touched on that before, but there is a long-standing trope about good guys being painfully reluctant to act, which in turn allows the bad guys to inflict maximum carnage on the innocent until the hero reaches the breaking point.

From a modern informed legal perspective, in almost every case, the provocations are well across the line of reasonable self-defense.  When I watch these with my friends, we like to call out the moment where the good guy (or gal) could legally plug the bad guy.

Anyway, if one wants to see an almost entirely naked Patrick Swayze (and also some almost entirely naked women), this is the film for you.

Formulaic 80s sports films: Youngblood

My wife is a fan of the late Patrick Swayze's work and as a surprise decided to get her a DVD of Roadhouse.  The best deal was a double-disk set with Youngblood which neither of us had ever heard of.

Last night we watched it.

It's not very good.  As I told her last night, I'll likely never watch it again unless I'm making fun of it with friends.

It is, however, a marvelous example of formulaic mid-80s filmmaking.  The star is Rob Lowe, who plays the titular Youngblood - obviously that's his name, but he's also a rising sports star, a "young blood," as it were.  Hah.

The sport in question is hockey, which makes it a little more interesting.  Patrick Swayze plays an older team member who first torments but then helped Lowe.  All is when, and then tragedy strikes, Swayze is injured, and Lowe must doing a synth-heavy training montage to save the team.

Oh, and there's a cute girl who likely thought this would be her breakthrough film but I never heard of her.  She does a topless love scene with Lowe, which adds to the lingering sense of disappointment I felt for her.

As I've gotten older, I find such displays really distasteful.  Given the attitudes of the time, they were widely regarded as normal verging on naughty, but in retrospect, that was just the avalanche of immorality in its early stage.  That's probably fodder for a series of posts, so I'll just note that I'd have preferred the film without it.

In addition to Swayze and Lowe, Keanu Reeves has a bit part as a French-Canadian player, which I found amusing.

The cynical optimism of St. Elmo's Fire vs The Big Chill

I did not see a lot of movies when I was growing up.  There was a time when my father would take me on our weekends together, but once he got remarried, I spent more time watching VHS tapes - usually of things I had already seen.

However, I listened to the radio constantly.  It woke me up in the morning.  When I got home from school, it kept me company.  When I played wargames, it was the soundtrack.  At the end of the day, I listened to it as I fell asleep.

All of which is to say that while I missed the theatrical run of White Nights or St. Elmo's Fire, I vividly recall the music.

Thus, seeing St. Elmo's Fire for the first time was oddly familiar.  I knew the cast of course, having grown up on The Breakfast Club and other Brat Pack films.

I have also recently viewed The Big Chill, and though different in mood, the films have many similarities.

For one thing, both have ensemble casts composed of core group of seven friends (split between four males and three females) with an additional secondary female to round out the story.

Both are "small stories" centered around relationships and maturation and both feature a meandering plot that derives its intensity and meaning from the chemistry and acting skill of the cast.

However, there are some significant differences.

Structurally, The Bill Chill takes place over a single weekend reunion in the aftermath of a funeral.  The action is compressed as long-separated friends catch up with one another and explore where they are in their lives.  The cast is also older, more settled and more disquieted.  They are filled with disillusionment as the idealism of their youth has collapsed before harsh reality.

St. Elmo's Fire is less compressed temporally, with weeks passing as its story unfolds.  The cast is much younger - recent college grads who still know people at their old school.

The attitude that pervades St. Elmo's Fire is much less bleak, thanks in large part to the experience of the elder generation.  The movies were filmed only two years apart, yet they seem to be from different eras.  This effect is heightened by the settings - a fine Southern mansion during the fall vs bustling Georgetown during the zenith of the Reagan era.

The older film looks to the past with its musical selections while eponymous main title of St. Elmo's Fire (subtitled "Man in Motion") is clearly about seizing opportunity.

This  makes it more upbeat and while there are bleak elements to the story (the troubled life of Demi Moore's Jules in particular), the overall tone is one of hope and promise.

This is largely because of the failures outlined in The Big Chill.  The idealism of the 1960s was always completely unrealistic (particularly the type coming out of the University of Michigan), so there was never any possibility of it working.  The despair of that revelation in turn led to a focus on reaping material rewards, and instead of deriving comfort from faith and family, career advancement became the measure of personal success.

Kevin Cline and Glenn Close have arguably the most successful characters in their film.  They have a superlative house, good local reputation and are raising their children in an idyllic community.  Kline even tends meticulously to his physical fitness, in the process reminding others to do likewise.

Yet there is an emptiness to all of it.  The marriage is a hollow shell and none of their accomplishments bring them fulfillment.  It is true that this seems to find resolution during the course of the film, but as I noted in my earlier piece, that development seemed both nihilistic and unrealistic.  It was the product not of organic character growth but the writer's sentimental hope for a happy ending.

By contrast, the characters in St. Elmo's Fire have a much clearer understanding of how the world works.  They are younger than their counterparts, but their youth is also less sheltered.  As already noted, Demi Moore's character epitomizes the pervasive divorce culture that blossomed during the 1970s and the corrosive impact it had on children.

Rob Lowe's character is one of the more intriguing, representing as he does the same sort of immaturity that drives the older generation's actions.  Alone of the group he is a husband and a father, but he is a failure at both.

However, he matures throughout the film.  When we learn that his wife is planning to remarry, he decides that being a "weekend dad" would be unfair to his infant child.  Better to give the gift of a stable family.  Coming in 1985, this is a profoundly thoughtful decision.

In fact, one can argue that that theme of both films is the need to grow up and accept life as it is and that the younger cast is simply a decade ahead of their elders in this realization. 



Fogelberg's "Same Auld Lang Syne" is not a Christmas song

I freely admit that this issue is an order of magnitude less important than the lame argument that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, but having heard the song for the first time in a while over New Year's, I feel compelled to weigh in.

I am of course referring to Dan Fogelberg's winter of 1980 hit, "Same Auld Lang Syne."  If you aren't familiar with the tune, take a listen.  Yes, it's vintage 1970s easy listening (complete with overdubbing), but lyrically it is spot on.

It remains popular, but while the events of the song (which are based on an actual encounter Fogelberg had with his ex-girlfriend) take place on Christmas Eve, the song is really about the passage of time, not the coming of Christ the King.

I particularly like the structure of the song, which efficiently sketches a scenario that is both specific but also relatable.    The refrain is also sparingly and includes some lyrical variations, adding to the casual feel.  Finally, an instrumental solo at the end - which could have been a Christmas melody - instead reminds us once again of years gone by.

The drive to link films with obviously incorrect these is in large part a social media stupidity, where bored journalists and commentators while the hours away between spurts of fake outrage over trivialities.  One could, using the same logic, argue that The Big Chill is a college football movie, since it takes place during the fall, the cast actually plays football and is engrossed in the outcome of the Michigan-Michigan State game.

But of course that's not what it is about at all, and while it betrays a spiritual bleakness, it also is a well-crafted character portrait.  That's because it was based on actual events.

I've said it many times before, but art drawn from specific experiences inherently has more power than something created out of pure imagination.  It contains "the ring of truth," and the author's exposure to the actual circumstances of the event ensure that it presented with the proper sensitivity.

One reason why modern productions are so awful is the loss of life-experience.  Increasingly our creative class knows only what it has seen in videos or read online.  They are also chained to a series of politically correct tropes which have no basis in reality.

The truth is that life is messy and often filled with contradictions. 

This is how it is possible to simultaneously be happy with one's situation, yet still feel a pang of regret for things that didn't work out long ago.



Starman: a pedictable, trope-laden space alien slog

Working my way through my 10-DVD set of 80s movies, I decided to take a look at Starman.  All I knew about it was that Jeff Bridges was in it.  For those who don't know, he was one of the leaden men of that era, popping up in all manner of films, from Tron to Against All Odds

Anyway, I realized that Karen Allen was also in the film, and she was pretty much the archetypal Cute Girl Next Door of that era.  Alas, she doesn't really get to play to her type, and much of the film she's either lost in depression or struggling to control her mortal terror.  It's not a good look for her.

The plot is of course that Jeff Bridges is a space alien who comes to earth and assumes the form of Allen's recently departed husband.  Naturally there are language issues, cultural issues and all the other aspects of the Fish Out of Water trope that make it worth watching.  In this case, of course, we have to believe that a creature of pure energy and capable of god-like healing and destruction is completely clueless about basic social interaction because humans are weird or something.

Bridges' facial expressions, jerky motions and oddly-inflected voice are impressive, though.  It's a very different role for him, but he does it well.  The problem is that the story is weak sauce, since we've seen the "advanced race comes to earth and the government tries to kill/dissect it" several other times.

One element that really bugged me was the portrayal of the "common" humans the pair encounter.  These are terrible, completely unbelievable tropes.

For example, a pair of cops are given instructions merely to hang back and let "the feds" handle a situation, but they try to engineer an incident so they can get "their share of the headlines."

Yes, you have that right: they're going to try to create a confrontation rather than hang back because they somehow think this will result in favorable media coverage.  Sure.

Another truly awful portrayal is of a hunter who ties a dead doe to the front fender of his car without gutting it and - having done so - goes into a diner for a bite to eat.  You know, so the meat can get good an rancid or something.

A movie like this depends on the 'slice of life' scenes being good enough to carry you through the sci-fi elements and when you get served up garbage like this, the whole enterprise falls flat.

I'd rather watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which at least has a decent soundtrack.

White Nights: Another amazing 80s movie I somehow overlooked

Last week I got out yet another of the Big Box O' DVDs and this time it was 1985's White Nights.  I remember when the movie came out because I was an avid radio listener.

Funny to think of how common it was for movies to include hit pop tunes in their soundtrack.  Say You, Say Me and Separate Lives both got heavy airplay, though I wasn't sure how they related to the movie.

Anyhow, White Nights is an incredible film, one that has aged very well.  The physicality of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines is amazing.

That's something we've lost.  Time was, the expectation of a movie with dancing in it was that it would be not just professional but exemplary.  It didn't matter who was dancing, the key was that it was original and authentic.

All that's gone away.  The current age uses special effects and camera tricks for all of his physicality and this is one reason why today's movies feel so hollow.  They look gorgeous, but they have no soul, no animating spirit.

When you watch one of the dance sequences in White Nights, you're seeing a level of dedication that simply isn't valued any more. 

Dancing aside, the storyline is also timely, a necessary reminder of a time when half of the world was locked down under the Communist heel.  The Soviet Union offered free health care and guaranteed income, but only in exchange for absolute obedience.  It was not surprising that so many free spirits like Baryshnikov were compelled to flee.

There are few movies that I watch once and immediately want to rewatch.  This is one of them, and I'm looking forward to gaining a deeper appreciation for it.



The spiritual desolation of The Big Chill

It's weird to say it, but I'm spending a lot of time these days catching up on movies that came out when I was younger that I never got around to seeing.  In large part this is because the cheapest way to buy movies that I did see - and want to see again - is as part of a DVD collection.

So it was that I finally got around to seeing The Big Chill, which came out when I was 10.  A slice-of-life ensemble cast film about the approach of middle age and the loss of youthful idealism would have made little impression on me, so it's just as well that I skipped it.  Besides, 1983 was the year Return of the Jedi came out and that pretty much held my attention.

This is the kind of movie Hollywood used to make fairly often but it is now beyond the movie industry's creative capacity.  For one thing, there aren't sufficient actors to carry the parts.  When the film came out, Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline and Meg Tilly still had their greatest work before them, but their talent was mature.

The plot line is pretty simple: a group of college friends stage an unplanned reunion when one of their number commits suicide.  It is now more than a decade since they were bright, young things living at a co-op at the University of Michigan and over the course of a long weekend they confront the challenges and disappointments the years have brought them.

It's basically a Boomer "coming of middle age" story, and as well all know, Boomers assumed that they were the first people in world history to have issues with getting older.

To some extent, however, that was true.  Previous generations valued maturity, responsibility and above all tradition.  The Boomers threw all of that away, instead mocking tradition, lauding youth over experience and placing personal freedom (by which they meant short-term pleasure) over responsibility.  The Big Chill is their first realization that things aren't working out the way they planned.

The story is based on events and characters writer/director Lawrence Kasdan encountered during his time at Michigan.  As a Michigan State grad, I have to admit I bristled a bit when I realized these were all Wolverine alumni, but as the film progressed I was entirely satisfied to see U-M grads portrayed as a bunch of self-centered, drug-using, adulterous whiners.

Kasdan of course had already written The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and would go on to pen a few more hit films in that decade, but he hasn't had much success since.  He put his name on both the disappointing Episode VII as well as the unwatchable Solo movie, so his best days are clearly behind him.

Still, there's no denying that The Big Chill is an excellent film.  The acting is first rate and the while the characters are less than admirable, they absolutely feel real.  I can personally attest that Ann Arbor produces vast numbers of people such as these.

That actually counts for a lot.  Today's writing emphasizes specialness if not perfection, and heroes (particularly women) are super-strong, super-smart and know neither doubt nor regret.  This makes personal stories impossible to tell.

Talking with some of my friends, I can't think of any comparable movie that has come out in the last 20 years.  For one thing, who would play the parts?  Hollywood is entirely populated by super-hero actors in skinny jeans leavened with overweight minority women who supply moral authority. 

No one in The Big Chill is remotely like that.   One of the friends is a TV star, another a reporter for People magazine.  The rest are typical professionals -  doctor, lawyer, business owner.  The standout is William Hurt's character, who is a Vietnam veteran who (in a nod to Hemingway) was rendered impotent by a war wound and therefore cannot consummate a relationship.  Rounding out the cast is Meg Tilly's Chloe, the younger, sex kitten girlfriend of Alex, whose death brought them all together.

Alex is only briefly glimpsed, a corpse being prepared for the funeral service.  He was played by Kevin Costner in flashback, but these scenes were cut and have never since been released.  Kasdan decided it was better to leave Alex entirely to the cast's recollections, and he was right.

By universal acclaim, Alex was the most gifted of the lot, described as a brilliant physicist who nevertheless abandoned a career in science and worked menial jobs, hopping from place to place.  He finally landed with Kline and Close (the married couple of the group), who supported his latest endeavor up to the moment of his suicide.  Alex also carried on an affair with Close, but this was supposedly resolved and in the past, which of course it wasn't.

Thus, we have a complex web of relationships that need to be worked out as well as existential problems that are all played out over a weekend.  It's a fall weekend, and being Michigan grads, the movie takes time out for them to watch the Michigan-Michigan State game, which is a marvelous detail to include.

Another nice touch is to borrow from George Lucas in American Graffiti and use a soundtrack comprised entirely of vintage music.  By watching the characters' reactions, one gets a sense that they too are going back in time and recalling their fading youth.

It is an excellent film, but for all of the funny and tragic moments, there is a profound void in its structure, and that is its total lack of any kind of religious faith.  I do not think this was by design, rather it was simply a reflection of the world Kasdan experienced in college and subsequently lived in when he made the movie.

There are a couple of nods to faith, such as the funeral and a brief appearance of a crucifix, but it's otherwise absent, both in action and words.   Alex's funeral is at a local Baptist church, but no one goes to the Sunday service.  These are very much secular Hippies turned Yuppies.  They have their degrees, their jobs, marriages, children, houses and yet they feel hollow.  All that they thought they would do has vanished and what they have left is material comfort and spiritual desolation.

Just as Game of Thrones is an unintended apologetic for Christian culture, so The Big Chill is a cautionary tale for life without faith.  None of the marriages portrayed in this film are stable.  The great Boomer gift of no-fault divorce looms large, and adultery is explicitly described as a morally neutral act, to be condemned or condoned only by the conditions in which it takes place.

It would be interesting to extrapolate what happens to those families in the succeeding decades and the knowledge of the world we have now makes the film all the more poignant - and damning.

Normally, I'd condemn this movie as being something very similar to Carly Simon's early work, but there is something about it that transcends my moral outrage.  Instead, I feel nothing but sympathy for the broken, half-formed people portrayed in this story.






Comparing The Year of Living Dangerously with The Killing Fields

I've fallen out of the habit of cross-posting my articles from, but I think it's necessary in this case because what I wrote about The Year of Living Dangerously goes to the heart of what I didn't like about The Killing Fields.

I'm going to assume by now that you've checked out the article and move on with my critique of The Killing Fields.   The films are of course quite similar, being about the spread of Communism in Asia during the Cold War.

In fact, they films bookend Vietnam, with The Year of Living Dangerously taking place in 1965 while The Killing Fields begins in 1973.

Both center around Western journalists striving to get the truth out to the larger public.  However, the portrayal of them is profoundly different.

The journalists in Indonesia are, as I've noted, a bunch of heavy-drinking perverts.  They may be good at their craft, but they are hardly role models.

By contrast, Cambodia's press establishment is remarkably noble and altruistic, particularly Sam Waterston's Sam Schanberg.  The only hint of criticism he gets his how failed to ensure the safety of his translator/friend Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor, who is amazing) and reaped the benefits of the subsequent publicity.

In fact, while approving of the subject matter, I found the presentation of The Killing Fields to be heavily at odds with the facts.  I get that by 1984, there was still a lot of Nixon hate out there, but it's obvious that the production team has let it completely cloud their judgement.  Late in the film Schanberg admits that the Khmer Rouge were worse than he thought, but then tries to blame Nixon for radicalizing them!

Uh, no.  Every single time Communists take control of a country they kill off huge numbers of people. (In Spain, they couldn't even wait until they won the civil war.)

The Khmer Rouge were just really good at it.  The notion that the Communists would have been peaceful and inclusive if only those pesky Americans weren't there is nonsense on stilts.

It;s possible that his answer isn't an attempt to preach but instead shows how far removed from reality his thought process has become.  I suppose there's also implied criticism in how Schanberg sits in his comfy chair talking about mailing photos while his dear friend eats lizards and climbs over corpses.

Even understanding the difficulty of the logistics at the time, I can't wonder why Schanberg didn't go to the refugee camps and write about them personally, maybe mount a vigil for his friend there rather than rage-watching Nixon administration footage while listening to his high-fidelity stereo.

The most tone-deaf moment in the film is when Schanberg is reunited with Pran and the production team plays of all things John Lennon's "Imagine."  Seriously?!

The Khmer Rouge was the embodiment of everything in the song!   They denied God, wiped out family ties and literally made everyone live for the day, every day.  The fact that their "brotherhood of man" was a nightmare only illustrates the inevitable outcome of nihilistic fantasies.

My resulting rage stroke almost wrecked the movie for me.

I will re-watch The Killing Fields at some point, looking for greater detail.  Also, the dialog wasn't very clear in places, so I'm sure I missed things.

Even so, The Year of Living Dangerously is a much better film.  The characters are more fully developed and the moral questions are presented with greater skill and complexity.  The Killing Fields gets very preachy at times, which it doesn't need to be.  The story speaks for itself, we don't need Waterston's sermonizing to make the point for us.




A tale of Boomer evolution: Carly Simon

Back in the day, if you wanted to hear an older song, you either needed to find an "oldies" station on the radio that would play it by request, or buy it through a K-tel infomercial at 2 a.m.

Now such things are but a mouse click away, and for that reason I have a substantial library of my favorites.

However, there is a gray area in music - songs you neither love nor hate, but which nevertheless remind of of a time and place.  You're not particularly fond of them, but they are part of the soundtrack of your life.

Which brings us to Carly Simon.  I'm not a fan, don't own any of her work, but I recall hearing her music frequently as I was growing up.

I came to utterly despise the lyrics to one of her first hits, "That's the Way I Always Heard It Should Be," perhaps because my own experience of having divorced parents.

For those unfamiliar with the song, it is a one-sided transcript of her conversation with her future husband.  It's an interesting concept, often repeated with great effect in other works, but her take on marriage is less than flattering.

Stumbling upon it the other day, I was reminded two of my previous blog entries.  The first that came to mind was my memorial to Pat Conroy

This was because the song opens with a description of her parents' relationship, which she interprets to be cold and lonely.  However, as I pointed out in my Conroy piece, pre-Boomer parents often hid their affection for each other from their children.  For a man to openly dote on his wife (or children) was considered to be a sign of weakness.  There could be considerable tenderness in the relationship, but that tenderness was reserved for private moments.

My father is like this.  He is not a Boomer (being instead a War Baby) and his bearing is very stoic - which contrasts sharply with the more relaxed attitudes of his younger siblings.  

Unlike Conroy (and presumably Simon), I accept my father for who he is.  I don't demand that he emote simply to please me.

The song quickly leaves Simon's parents and then focuses on her contemporaries, who are uniformly portrayed as having miserable, jealous marriages that produce resentful children and self-loathing.

Instead, she insists, she want to learn to be "just me first, by myself."  This is one of the most pure distillations of Boomer narcissism ever put to music.

Here it is useful to reference my observation that people tend to write what they know.  Simon was raised by artists, married another artist and lived in a world of artists.  Such people are not known for emotional stability or strong interpersonal relationships.  It is a very rare thing to find a singer or actor who marries for life.

Simon's catalog of songs returns to the theme of broken relationships several times, including a particularly plaintive tune urging a spouse to reconsider adultery ("You Belong to Me").   I'm not sure what inspired it, but it's kind of a specialized genre, no?

More than a decade after her ugly picture of marriage, she reversed course and penned "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of."  This song is also half of a conversation, but instead of debating with her suitor, she is now offering advice to a married friend who has soured on her relationship.  It's basically a pep talk, and the contrast is striking.

Whereas her earlier song fretted about keeping the excitement and passion alive, here she lauds "the slow and steady fire."

To be sure, Simon's wisdom is incomplete.  She's still a conventional celebrity with all the vanity causes they typically pursue.  From my cursory glance at her biography, she remains unattached (and no longer even communicates with the father of her children, James Taylor).

There's also a cautionary tale here regarding the fleeting nature of youth.  The Boomers famously distrusted anyone over 30, and yet the youngest of them is now over 55.  (If you stretch their generation to 1969, they're still over 50.)

Boomer culture celebrated youth and rebellion and part of the richness of 80s culture was that it was the final flowering of Boomer youthfulness.

I can't help but wonder how much of our current trouble is simply a generational embrace of nihilism now that their culture of perpetual youth - complete with beauty treatments, plastic surgery and obsessive diet supplements - is failing.