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Famous Reporter # 35




Blog: Notes to Self

Memoranda of Identity from Inside Motherhood and America


Friday, March 23rd, 2007

My generation?


One of Patrick's clients gave us tickets to the Who concert at Alltel Arena last night. I saw them in Toronto in the late eighties, back when they were first retiring. Talk about the long goodbye.

Stadium rock is not, and has never been, my thing. Whereas Patrick, child of the seventies, was there for all the great arena shows of his era, I could stick my souvenier tickets between the fingers of one hand. I much prefer concert hall, or club, gigs to shelling out a hundred bucks to watch someone play on a giant video screen.

But the tickets were free, and Georgia offered to babysit, and who can argue with that?

As we were getting ready to leave, I was thinking how strange is this post-modern era. The Who is from my parents' generation. Mom and Dad weren't going to Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby concerts when I was a kid. The overture to this new millenium is so very ouborous. It is as if all of twentieth century pop culture got jammed up against the exit in the rush to leave the building.

Consequently, for my generation nothing is relative. We listen to our parents music. We buy our kids replicas from our own childhood. Maybe we recyle everything in an effort to slow the process of digestion down. Maybe our collective consciousness has four stomachs.Maybe our own cultural maturation is delayed by the logjam of babyboomers down river.

Last night's show night reflected this pileup, both on stage and off. In all spectator events, for me, the spectacle lies in the spectators. I watched the crowd more than I watched the band. It was a weird split between snaggle-tooth hippies and people who looked like they just came from a Jimmy Buffet concert. You know, middle aged guys who have gone cyborg with their bluetooth earpiece. I estimate that less than three per cent of the audience was under forty-five.

The band (or the corporate production that encompasses the band) got this, and played to it, in a way that was ironic without being cynical. The performers were backlit by stop-motion film clips on hanging screens; a repeat montage of sixties icons like Twiggy, Peter Sellers, and flowers. Every ten seconds the band's emblem and THE WHO would pop up. I got the giggles, thinking of the display as flash cards to help the aging stoners figure out where they were. A sort of multimedia "Who's on First":

"Where am I? Who are they?"
"Yeah, man, WHO?"

The band was in good form, if not exactly mint. Their new, operatic material was interesting enough for me to probably check some of it out on iTunes. Townshend was charming, disarming and sincere. I remembered how much I enjoyed his White City album, and made a mental note to go see what else he's been up to since. Zak Starkey, on drums, was yummy. There was more of a celebratory spirit coming from the band than I remember eighteen years ago. When they sang "My Generation", it was without apology. They were still talking about their generation. Only now they are defending it to their juniors, not their elders; people my age and younger who might question whether millioniares in their sixties have any credibility as rockers.

To which, they answered, I could just f-f-f-f....

Postscript: Pete Townshend has a blog! Just like me. Maybe we could be friends. It appears to be personally written by him. I wonder if he'll post anything about me last night?

"...played Little Rock last night to a strange looking audience. One, a thirty-something brunette in the stands, needs to be told she is way past it for going sleeveless. --P.T."



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