The Exalted Life of the Young

After orbiting separately around similar technical and design planets for 5 or 6 years, over the past two months I’ve come to know the masterminds behind the secretive silverorange.

Perhaps the most revealing way to discover the silverorange gestalt is to explore their public photo galleries: nick, daniel, isaac and dan.

An anthropological dig through these galleries reveals that these exalted young turks spend an inordinate amount of time hanging around with beautiful women, and traveling around the world.

This is, of course, the stuff of youth, and while I have a beautiful woman to share my life with, and more than my own fair share of world gadabouting, I can’t help but be envious of their youthful insouciance.

What interests me more, however, is the cultural divide that separate us. As much as we take a similar approach to technology and society (which I would roughly describe as “practical, functional and anarchistic”), there are vast tracts of the popular culture that we don’t share in common.

This surprises me. I’ve got a healthy collection of friends who are anywhere from my age to 35 years older than I am, and, in general, I find our popular culture references overlap to a large degree, generally centred on about 1975.

I can draw a broad allusions to Mary Richard’s apartment, for example, and most of my friends will know exactly what I’m talking about. Same thing for, say, the New Adventures of Superman, The Bob Newhart Show, and Airport 1975.

Although we share certain cultural touchstones — Seinfeld is a good one, as are The Simpsons, I must say that, in general, I feel a much wider cultural divide going back than I do going forward.

Some of this, of course, is because of the inherent differences between looking forward and looking back; it’s inevitable to feel old fartesque when you’re talking Archie Bunker’s Place and Joanie Loves Chachi and they’re talking Ali G. and Biggie Smalls.

But, after my [not all that old, but still a little older than me] friend Ann planted the idea in my head, I think there’s something else at play too, which is that the rate of popular cultural acceleration in the last 10 years has increased dramatically. I don’t know how to measure this, or even whether it is true or not, but there’s a certain feel to the notion that hits right.

So I ask you, young people: does this make any sense, and do you feel the same thing going back and forward from your positions in the cultural timeline?


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on July 17, 2003 - 00:48 Permalink

Intereting post (I have a beautiful woman too — but I don’t have a digital camera).

For what it’s worth — we’re all in denial about our own age. Most of us are between 23~26 (with a few younger chaps too). Yet, I think I speak for most of us when I say that we

Johnny's picture
Johnny on July 17, 2003 - 00:50 Permalink

Jodi and I were discussing this the other day. She was trying to place the age of one of her clasmates, who had made reference to the show ‘BJ and the Bear’. She had never heard of ‘BJ and the Bear’ and I had (she and I are about 4 years apart in age), which made her classmate closer to my age than her age. Basically, running the ‘BJ and the Bear’ test is almost as accurate as carbon-dating in terms of determining someone’s age.

Rob MacD's picture
Rob MacD on July 17, 2003 - 01:56 Permalink

A couple of things: Firstly, I suppose in today’s world, the show ‘BJ and the Bear’ based on the title alone, might be about the goings-on of a couple of gay room-mates. Secondly, I think most of us probably approach the concept of aging in more or less the same way. At 25, we still feel we’re 18. At 30, we feel like we’re 25 (and so, we’re still a ‘feeling’ away from 18). But at around 35, or sooner, I think, we looking backwards less frequently, stop feeling younger, and begin to look forward in our aging process. At 37, I’m “almost 40”. I suppose that when I’m in my 40’s, I’ll be thinking about hitting 50. Of course, I’m able to pinpoint the exact moment in my life when the switch happened: Stonepark hill, too many years ago, sledding with some pals. I thought I was pretty cool and hip and off-the-wall with my cardboard box ride. It was a cardboard box. A refrigerator box. Aren’t I the with-it environmentally minded dude who doesn’t have to bow down to any ‘corporate’ notion of what makes a good sled. THAT’s how young I felt. Just show me a World Leaders Summit, and I’ll be there, protesting whatever. THAT’s how hip I felt with that cardboard box. A merchandise rebel. Up to the top of the hill I trudge, looking SO good in my Helly Hensen (sp?) nylon outerwear, with cardboard box in hand. Step, step, step, jump and off I go! About 15 feet and stop. 12 of that merely the momentum of my weight pulling me, tumbling me down. The box ripped. I’m lying there. People looking. I’ve done some acting in the past, so I was able to ‘method’ up a cool, non-fazed exterior to hide my total abject demoralization. I got up, retrieved the pieces of my cardboard box, and began to march up the 15 feet to the summit. Everything was going to be okay. At that moment, a kid, teenager, walks past me up the hill and says “Nice try, sir.” Sir. With those three letters, that one word, the rearview mirror of my life shattered. I could detect no condescension in his voice, and he may even have been impressed by my attempt. But he called me ‘Sir’. I can’t be a sir. I’m only 18 years old (filtered through a 37 year old’s memory of being 30, reflecting on when I was 25 and could still imagine myself as being 18).

Alan's picture
Alan on July 17, 2003 - 02:15 Permalink

I dunno. I don’t worry too much about 40 — I worried a hell of a lot more about 25 for some reason. But then I was so cool that it was clearly unsustainable and I knew it. Got the honey of a wife and kids and a new bunch of in-law relatives in their 20’s. I haven’t lost the knowledge of my slice of youth but sure do not see any of the subsequent versions since as any more profound. I had to listen to that discovery channel song at my sister-in-laws wedding a few years back — jeesh. Ali G. and Danny B’s latest dunglasses will be just as awkward to look at 20 years from know as wide legs, Boy George and contrasting colour cuff T-shirts are today — why that last bit of my teens is cool again. What is more embarrassing to me are the auto “oldie olsons” (nod to wee Stevie G.) — I met a friend of an old friend the other day and what helmet hair, what power clothes. Also worse is the try-too-hard — like the Kids in the Hall “he’s cool, he’s hip, he’s 45. Being able to still enjoy the Ramones, soccer, pals and the other good things of my youth without pretending its all there is to me now is the trick.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 17, 2003 - 03:10 Permalink

Rob, you and I are the same age exactly (and if my habit holds, you were born in April as well). As such, an empirical study of the minute differences between our cultural references, thus isolated from age, would reveal the environmental differences between the character and location of your upbringing and mine.

Johnny's picture
Johnny on July 17, 2003 - 03:13 Permalink

It shocking that Rob mentions that ‘BJ and the Bear’ could be “about the goings-on of a couple of gay room-mates” (it was actually about a trucker and his pet monkey), because ‘BJ and the Bear’ star Greg Evigan later went on to star in ‘My Two Dads’, the homo-erotic undertones of which cannot be denied. Then again, he went on to star in ‘Melrose Place’ thereafter.

Rob MacD's picture
Rob MacD on July 17, 2003 - 04:03 Permalink

Born in September (if I can believe my parents). So, I guess that makes me older than you? As for a study of cultural references, I think the fact that I lived in a neighbourhood almost totally devoid of females my (our) own age, or any worthwhile age really, would skew the findings in a substantial way, rendering them basically worthless. That, and the fact that I was the leader of a trio of boys some of the tougher kids called The Fairy Gang. Okay, all of the tougher kids (and they were all tougher) called us The Fairy Gang. But it had nothing to do with any effeminate mannerisms or green-and-yellow-on-Thursday inclinations. We were called The Fairy Gang because we wouldn’t join in on the vandalising, petty criminality, etc. that the other kids in the neighbourhood were fond of. The rest of the time, during times of civility and football, we all got along great. Being a good boy, while I was outwardly horrified to be part of a group of boys called The Fairy Gang, I was secretly pleased that we were able to keep our morality in tact and not succumb to nefarious peer pressures. I was also rather pleased to be the leader of a group, even if we were called The Fairy Gang.

Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on July 17, 2003 - 04:22 Permalink

That was no monkey, sir, hat was a chimpanzee! Monkey indeed! Harumph. Nobody knows culture anymore. Um, but seriously. I think the BJ&B test is also liable to pluck out natives of far-off countries. I imagine that for every bad disappeared TV show there’s a country somewhere where everybody is watching it at 8 every night. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actor who played BJ is treated like a king on annual visits to Djibouti. In Togo it may be the guy who played Captain Stuebbing (sp?) from the Love Boat.

Rob MacD's picture
Rob MacD on July 17, 2003 - 04:34 Permalink

In Togo it may be the guy who played Captain Stuebbing (sp?) from the Love Boat.” You mean the guy who played Murray in The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Alan's picture
Alan on July 17, 2003 - 11:52 Permalink

Gavin MacLeod.

marcus's picture
marcus on July 22, 2003 - 23:47 Permalink

didn’t know West Point now has wind turbines… I heard a rumour Malpeque is next, followed by Victoria Park and Rochford Square….…

Kevin O'Brien's picture
Kevin O'Brien on March 30, 2006 - 02:34 Permalink

I know this is an old post, but I’ll come back to see if there’s an answer:

How can you even tell if you see clearer into the future vs. the past when you don’t process popular culture as a touchstone at all? Honest to GJ, the things in my life that are touchstones simply don’t fit into pop culture at all — and I even feel my back crawl when I hear the reference or something that sounds like it. The only “pop culture” I recognize is me. As a social fact I hate, HATE, pop culture — as a study or a “thing” anything more popular than the moment is silly if it remains ‘popular’. When it becomes history I can be bothered with it a little.

Think of “big stars” and ask yourself: How human is that? (the part that they usually permit to be revealed, that is).