The Slack Blog has been on hiatus. (Lelia Colette was born Nov. 22 — a month after I turned 40 years old. Very Gen X, that. But I digress.) It’s a new year and shit is still sucking big time! But don’t despair, because Gen X is all about resilience. For a primer on what Slackonomics is all about, check out an article in the Times titled:
MICHAEL TERRY led a double life for many years.
“During the day I worked at Morgan Stanley as an executive director, overseeing a group that raised money for hedge funds,” he said, “and at night I performed in comedy shows.”
Then, last February, his company announced a round of layoffs. Mr. Terry, motivated to pursue his goal of becoming a “Daily Show” correspondent, raised his hand.
“At the time, I figured the severance package would give me a couple of years to try comedy, something that was getting increasingly hard to balance with my day job.”
Since leaving Morgan Stanley, Mr. Terry, 37, has shot two pieces as an on-the-scene reporter for the Onion News Network, and his sketch comedy group, Party Central USA, has been given a prime spot at the coming Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival.
With Wall Street hemorrhaging jobs, bonuses disappearing and the financial sector going through a seismic shift, some bankers and lawyers are switching lanes to more creative career paths. They are putting down their Wall Street Journals and picking up Variety as they try their hands at comedy, filmmaking and writing. …
There you have it.
And here is my perfect little girl, Lelia (pronounced LELL-ee-uh).
Salon has an interesting take on the movie The Rocker with Rainn Wilson.
Can Generation X grow old gracefully? Now that nearly half the generation that gave us grunge has turned 40, the question of whether slackerdom can mix with maturity looms. Adulthood implies many of the things this aging bunch has tried to reject, or at least question: marriage, parenthood, responsibility, authority. … Fishman, aka “Fish,” typifies Gen X’s Peter Pan-ish unwillingness to play by the established rules of growing up. In 2006, he’s a 40-ish loser doing telemarketing for a Cleveland insurance company. He is unmarried, unkempt and unemployed. He loses his apartment and has to move in with his sister.
This touches on precisely what I address in the latter half of my book, Slackonomics. Sandeep Kaushik, whose personal story is in Chapter 12, calls it “Delayed Onset Adulthood Syndrome.” Here is one quote from his story:
I thought me and my friends, we were really special. We were touched by the gods. We were so clever and talented. In this effortless way, we were going to live the life without having to lift a finger. We were going to hang out on the porch, drink beer, and be incredibly successful. I was sure of it. It was a given. There was no thought about how to map this out. I just assumed, being who we were, having whatever skills or talents we had would take us there. I didn’t realize smart people are actually a dime a dozen. A lot of people have talents. But do you know how to develop a career? Do you know how to make your way in the world?
While Fishman goes into a 20 year tailspin, Sandeep’s struggle lasted about 10 years, which he pulls himself out of in a more typical if less dramatic way than becoming a rock star: Sandeep embraces a profession he enjoys even if it doesn’t lead to a lot of fame and fortune, and as a result, grows up a bit and finds it’s not so bad being married, having kids and owning a house in Seattle:
I always thought of myself as having one foot in adulthood and one foot in adolescence. I never thought I would end up so conventional, but I like what I do. I completely love Seattle. I go out drinking too much, but that’s just because there’s always someone to get a drink with. I’ve always been a restless sort, but I’m probably going to be here for the rest of my life and it doesn’t seem that bad.
A Gen X Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy? [Salon]
The band most associated with Generation X — in the cliche version of the term — is of course Nirvana. But I think Beck is much more representative of the Gen X experience. His career resonates beyond the music world, revealing interesting twists and turns as one very successful and talented person has bridged the analog and digital worlds.
In today’s Times, a feature about Beck touches on the main point I make in my book Slackonomics:
The paths taken and not taken have brought [Beck] to another valedictory point in his mercurial career. On Tuesday, his 38th birthday, Beck will release “Modern Guilt,” his eighth major-label studio album. … The completion of his contract with DGC Records, which has since been absorbed by Interscope Geffen A&M Records, could be a climactic event, occurring as the music industry continues to implode. Beck could now seek a new deal with a major label, an indie or a concert promoter, or he could go it alone, as contemporaries like Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead and Tori Amos have done [all Xers, it should be noted]. Or his label could decide not to sign him again.
The title of this piece is, “In A Chaotic Industry, Beck Abides,” which is essentially a neat little summary of the entire premise of my book. Creative Destruction (in the subtitle) is an economic phrase to describe the process by which old economic arrangements and cycles get upended by new ones as a result of innovation and technology. Generation X has essentially been the middle demographic of the middle class in this current era of Creative Destruction.
The result is an entire generation having to adapt in its formative years and beyond to two very contradictory forces: economic insecurity on the one hand, but great potential for entrepreneurial and creative fulfillment on the other. So even as Beck has gone from a “Loser” to musical valedictorian, he still doesn’t know where the music business is going to be in six months.
That is the story of Generation X. But we’ll always have two turntables and a microphone.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I love the concept of a slacker superhero. MaryAnn over at flick filosopher (who I interviewed for my book Slackonomics) loved the idea, too (“He’s cranky. He drinks too much. He’s not particularly sensitive to the needs of anyone but himself.”), but she didn’t think it was true to itself all the way through. She still recommends it, though:
“So here’s the thing: Can you tolerate a Great Idea that doesn’t entirely pull itself off in the execution? Can you forgive a movie for starting off awesome and ending not quite so awesomely? I’ve decided that I can.”
So I’m in LA doing book promotional stuff when I have a very LA moment. At the local coffee place in West Hollywood, suddenly there’s a buzz about a celebrity in our midst, which turns out to be Samantha’s humping dog from Sex in the City. So I stop to pet the dog and snap a photo so I can tell people about my little celebrity encounter, but later decide to google the dog. Now I think this is more of an LA moment that I first bargained for; Gidget the Dog is, according to one blog, a New York doggie actress, and of the various photos of Gidget on the internet, they don’t look so much like the dog at Marco’s cafe! Was I suckered about the celebrity status of this dog?! You decide.
UPDATE! I have official confirmation that this is indeed Gidget from her owner/manager, Mary, who was in LA on a biz trip (that’s her feet in the photo, with the identifying dolphin tattoo). She counts this as Gidget’s first paparazzi moment! See the link here for Gidget’s diary, and comments below.