Roxanne Tellier: The Last of the Angry Young Men

Roxanne DBAWISAngry young men inspired the beatniks of the 50′s and the hippies of the 60′s. Sadly, we then devolved into the disco bunnies of the 70s, the New Wavers of the 80’s, the Gordon Gecko’s of the 90’s, and the “Fifty is the New 30’s” of the turning century. From ideas to image, in one swell foop.

When I Googled the origins of the phrase, here’s what I Googged:

angry young men“angry young men, a term applied to a group of English writers of the 1950s whose heroes share certain rebellious and critical attitudes toward society. This phrase, which was originally taken from the title of Leslie Allen Paul’s autobiography, Angry Young Man (1951), became current with the production of John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger (1956). The word angry is probably inappropriate; dissentient or disgruntled perhaps is more accurate. The group not only expressed discontent with the staid, hypocritical institutions of English society—the so-called Establishment—but betrayed disillusionment with itself and with its own achievements. Included among the angry young men were the playwrights John Osborne and Arnold Wesker and the novelists Kingsley Amis, John Braine, John Wain, and Alan Sillitoe. In the 1960s these writers turned to more individualized themes and were no longer considered a group. (source:The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia®.)

So, basically, the angry young literate men showed us the way to go from being disgruntled with society, to looking out for Number One. Same as it ever was.

For better or worse, I claim those men as my heritage. Their ‘anger’ allowed my generation to express their frustration at a world mired in tradition, social stigmas, and suppositions. Champing at the bit to change the world we had inherited, we burned our bras, sat in for peace, started communes, and created more art and music than you could shake a joint at. We thought we Baby-boomersBritPichad invented sex, drugs, and the Age of Aquarius. We ended the Viet Nam war. We were the first generation to grasp our own impact on society, and manipulate the media to mold a new society in our own image.

Then we all grew up, got married, had kids, and changed into slightly weirder versions of our parents. A lot of us died far too young, many from self-inflicted life choices.

babyboomersRoarBut here we remain, the largest population group in history, the Baby Boomers, the enormous bulge in the tummy of society’s snake, all of us getting older, some of us getting wiser. Scratch a boomer, and you’ll still find that fire in the belly, even if it’s generally controlled with antacids.

January 1, 2011 officially began the era of the “Golden” Baby Boomer, those first born Boomers who are about to retire from a career or profession. That’s not me on either level; I’m not retirement age, and, due to my own choices, will never properly ‘retire’, as I never stayed in any career or profession long enough to build up a retirement fund. Most of the people I know are in the same boat – musicians, artists, writers who didn’t get the brass ring or the gold watch. We may have partied just a little too hardy.

And just as Boomers have affected every other decade through their sheer numbers, we are about to impact society with our physical and mental health needs, leisure choices, and economics. Those of us who didn’t ‘die before we got old’ are going to get older, sicker and poorer. Society will have to deal babyboomersBurnEmwith our issues – hopefully not in a ‘Soylent Green’ fashion – and our kids will likely have to bear the cost of our retirement and health care. (note to self: be nicer to the kids.)

Most of us also benefited from decent schooling, and inherited the backbone and street smarts of parents and grandparents, who lived in simpler times, but managed to live through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and, ultimately, us. We’ve lived long enough to have a fairly good overview of life’s ups and downs. We’re neither as gullible nor as cynical as we once were. We’ve realized that yes, Life’s a Bitch, but so are we, when provoked.

For many of us, the last couple of years have been tough, with problems coming at us like swarming blackflies in Northern Ontario. We’re the Sandwich Generation of caregivers, with kids still at home, or our kid’s kids, but with parents still hanging in. Fish are dropping out of the sky, Haiti’s still a mess, and now North Korea’s Kim Il-Sung wants to play chicken with his nukes. The Republicans in the U.S. continue to cock block every move ikeamonkeyFordObama makes. Everybody’s got something to hide except for Justin Bieber’s monkey. (Last I heard, Bieber Monkey and Ikea Monkey are an item, but you can’t believe everything you read in the National Enquirer.)

Crazies are lining up to read all about Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy meltdown up close and personal, because she’s apparently the first woman in the history of the planet to ever get fat in her last trimester. Our Mayor’s crack-ing antics have actually become old news on every late night comic’s hitlist. We were mentioned on Real Time with Bill Maher this past week, which leads me to conclude that it was otherwise a pretty slow news week.

If you hate your job, tough, ‘cause there aren’t any others out there for you. Today’s music, overall, just can’t beat the music of our youth, at least to our 17th-centurydrinking-and-smokingown ears. And if you want to go out to a club to hear a band and maybe meet someone, you can’t soothe your nerves with cigarettes, and you better stick to one drink or you could get busted driving home.

Are we the last of the ‘angry young men’, those of us who still give a damn, but now ranting on Facebook instead of editorial pages?  Can we safely hand over the reins to a new generation that aligns behind “Anonymous,” so aware of Big Brother’s long and clutching tentacles that it hides behind a Guy Fawkes mask? (Is it just me, or does that mask not look exactly like Adrien AdrienAnonymous2Brody?) Or the 99%, aka “Occupy, ” who seem to have a lot of anger, and even more camping gear, but few ideas on how to actually pinpoint or affect the changes they want made to society?

We’re not going to be around long enough to find out how the world continues to turn after we’re gone.  Somehow, someway, people will continue to survive, at least until the Zombie Apocalypse. Or until Sarah Palin becomes President of the United States.

peacelovehappy With the perspective of age, we can look back on what worked and what didn’t. Our bequest to our children seems to be an increasingly litigious, politically correct, paranoid, petty, overly vigilant and controlled world. But hopefully, we’ve also left them the legacy of how the ‘angry young men’ once worked together, with our peace signs and our tie dyed ponchos, to make the world a better place in which to live and love.

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

One Response to “Roxanne Tellier: The Last of the Angry Young Men”

  1. […] segarini Angry young men inspired the beatniks of the 50′s and the hippies of the 60′s. Sadly, we then […]

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