Respecting your elders
November 6, 2007
Some of your Pro Tem columns are amusing, especially the ones where you ruminate on your own foibles, but your Saturday column (Nov. 3), wherein you tease older people through the guise of who is not cool because they’re old rock stars with physical flaws, was tactless and tediously petulant.
You were too clever when you ridiculed Bono’s 47-year-old crow’s feet, Liza Minnelli’s cool vis-à-vis passing kidney stones, almost-50-year-old Madonna, the fermenting Eagles and Geritol coupons, and the senescent (you must have used the thesaurus) one-time supermodel Cindy Crawford. Good writing doesn’t have to depend on seesawing sharp-witted contrasts.
First, you shouldn’t make fun of people with physical problems. I doubt that your parents or grandparents are young, and I’d hazard that they have physical flaws. Take it easy on them if they play musical instruments. That kind of humor is ungracious, and you only set yourself up to suffer in your twilight years, should you make it that far while inferring how much cooler you, new music and your chums are than those unsightly old rock stars.
Cellist Pablo Cassels performed and composed into his 90s to the delight of the concert world; heavyweight Luciano Pavarotti ripped “Ave Maria”; Louis Armstrong played jazz until he was 70; John Lee Hooker shaped the blues into his 80s. Their looks and ages were never an issue. So why can’t old rockers ” such as Chuck Berry ” who built the foundation of present-day rock, continue to play without ad hominem attacks?
All God’s chillin’ got a place in the choir.
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Second, a quality humorist tries to avoid mocking other people, though self-effacing humor works well. In fact, mocking in general, like sarcasm at another’s expense, may load the karmic gun to shoot back into your face at a later date. Humor is a delicate thing, and we decorate ourselves and our reputations by the demeanor of our quips. Mocking may muster some cheap laughs down at Eric’s bar, but like anger, it can hurt you and leave you bitter in the long run.
Comically, every generation seems to think that their milieu’s shit doesn’t stink and that they will remain forever cool, young and unwrinkled, and that older people’s one-time youth is/was ridiculous and stupid when compared to the cocky, pro tem dudes of the moment. Baggy pants and cockeyed hats notwithstanding.
Check out the animal world, and watch how the young frolic, not knowing the dangerous truths that lie ahead.
Meredith, I know you can write better than that, and best of luck holding back the clock. I turned mine back an hour last Saturday night.