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Meanwhile, the slogan “punk's not dead” is vividly illustrated by an annual festival in Blackpool, where original punk bands from the 1970s and 1980s reunite to play sets and the veterans of the punk scene momentarily put aside whatever accommodations they had since made with the status quo and return to the glorious mayhem of their youth:
"The original punks stand out because they're older and fatter, and struggle to do the pogo now," Rooney says. Many once fearsome punk rockers are now cuddly parents, who bring punk rock babies in punk T-shirts and earmuffs. Their parents' record collections or the internet lure slightly older youngsters into seeing what this threat to society was all about.
"If you're singing about being downtrodden, 90% of the population is going to identify with it," Bondage says. "I'd be prepared to kill off punk if we lived in a perfect world. But it isn't. Punk's the modern blues."
New York is facing an onslaught of middle-aged subway taggers; latchkey kids from the 1970s and 1980s who never put graffiti vandalism behind them, or else who decided to recapture their lost youth, spurred on by one thing or another to pick up their spraycans and get back into the game:
In torn jeans and saddled with a black backpack, Andrew Witten glances up and down the street for police. The 51-year-old then whips out a black marker scribbles "Zephyr" on a wall covered with movie posters. He admires his work for a few seconds before his tattooed arms reach for his daughter, holding her hand as he briskly walks away.
Witten's brush with fame now often comes with his freelance art writing and his sporadic visits to his daughter's school, where he teaches her classmates how to draw. Lulu knows her father draws "crazy art," a term she picked up from seeing graffiti on trains.
For decades, Ortiz, 45, has been known on Manhattan's Lower East Side as LA II. A traumatic loss of a girlfriend brought him out of a 14-year hiatus from graffiti writing. He has since been caught three times spraying his tag on property, each time while walking a friend's dog. "Everywhere that dog stopped to pee I would write my name," Ortiz says. "The streets were like my canvases. I just started writing my name everywhere."Alternatively, it could be argued that he and his dog bonded by participating in territory-marking activities together.
Perhaps the inevitable result of the aging of the punk rock generation: a middle-aged Cardiff punk band named Punks Not Dad has written a song about pottering about in the shed. It arguably captures the spirit of punk—the short sharp shock, the brusquely defiant assertion of one's right to be antisocial—in a more authentic fashion than many of the meticulously stylised, overengineered Sex Pistols/Buzzcocks/Clash copyists young enough to be these blokes' sons fighting for the cover of the NME these days:
Theres a place where I wanna be -
get away from the family
Where a bloke can be a bloke
put me feet up have a smoke
If you want me - you know where to find me If you need me - you’ll know where to look…
In me shed - varnishing a picture frame
In me shed - mending a toaster
In me shed - doing the sudoku
In me shed in me shed
A nursing home in Düsseldolf has come up with a novel way of dealing with stray Alzheimer's patients; they set up a fake bus stop outside the home:
“It sounds funny,” said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel, “but it helps. Our members are 84 years-old on average. Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.” The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.
As alternative-rock fans age and, in many cases, start families, a US company has brought out lullaby versions of alternative rock songs. Hip parents can now soothe their kids to sleep with mellow, ambient renditions of Metallica, The Cure, Tool, Radiohead and such played on glockenspiels and acoustic guitars (or, indeed, Coldplay, who for some reason are still classified as "alternative" (presumably because of their shaggy indie-boy haircuts or something) rather than filed next to Dido, Celine Dion and James Blunt in the adult-contemporary section). Yesteryear's teen rebellion becomes today's nursery music.
Lullaby. A whisper. The Cure's music is just like heaven to their fans. Beautiful, infinite and captivating, The Cure's best work captures a dreamy sense of love and longing. This album is a mesmerizing and serene take on the kind of quirky, romantic songs that the Cure helped make famous. If only tonight we could sleep as soundly as your child will after hearing these interpretations of The Cure.
I wonder what else we could see get the lullaby treatment. Nine Inch Nails perhaps, or Limp Bizkit? NWA? 90s rave techno? Perhaps this phenomenon will cross over with Nouvelle Vague, giving post-punk parents baby-friendly versions of the Buzzcocks and Bauhaus and such.
Web entrepreneurs are attempting to adapt the MySpace formula, massively successful with teenagers and twentysomething, to the huge baby-boomer demographic. One attempt is Eons.com, which replaces the pop music and cool animated ads with brain-exercising games, a longevity calculator and an obituary notification service:
"Many people no longer live where they grew up so the idea of a rich story about someone's life in a local newspaper is often lost," said Taylor, who sees online obituaries replacing the traditional death announcements in newspapers.
He said baby boomers, the 77 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, also wanted to have a greater input into their own funerals. This prompted Eons.com to look into a service where people could plan for their favorite songs to be played at their funeral and where friends and family can go afterward for food and drink.
More evidence of neoteny being a characteristic of evolutionary advancement: as coping the modern world requires more flexibility, immaturity levels in adults are rising. Which sounds alarming, until you consider that "maturity" (and the nebulous "wisdom" that comes with it) is a sclerotic set-in-one's-ways inflexibility and resistance to change, which no longer cuts it:
"The psychological neoteny effect of formal education is an accidental by-product -- the main role of education is to increase general, abstract intelligence and prepare for economic activity," he explained. "But formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility."
"When formal education continues into the early twenties," he continued, "it probably, to an extent, counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity, which would otherwise occur at about this age.
While the human mind responds to new information over the course of any individuals lifetime, Charlton argues that past physical environments were more stable and allowed for a state of psychological maturity. In hunter-gatherer societies, that maturity was probably achieved during a persons late teens or early twenties, he said.
By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity, and such failure is common and indeed characteristic of highly educated and, on the whole, effective and socially valuable people," he said.Some of the symptoms of neoteny include novelty-seeking, which ties in with the possibility of a "neophilia gene" previously mentioned here. In fact, if there was a genetic mutation that caused neophilia, the abovementioned article suggests that, in today's environment, it would be strongly selected for.
If today's Cat and Girl is anything to go by, the chav phenomenon has jumped the Atlantic and they've already got them in New York:
While we're there, this Cat and Girl, from a few weeks earlier, is also really good. A small excerpt:goes goth: the same idea eight years earlier, though he was being ironic.
A BBC TV programme is using computer-based photo-aging technology to model the effects of decades eating junk food:
I wonder what algorithm chose the grey sweatshirt/polo shirt in the aged images.
As the baby boomers reach old age, the latest threat to public order is "Hell's Grannies", raising mayhem on their motorised wheelchairs.
Former NME editor Paul Morley comments on the spectacle of Glen Matlock complaining about the amount of swearing on TV, and asks whether the former Sex Pistol, now a middle-aged family man, has turned against what he stood for, whether he really stood for it in the first place, or whether he has a point:
Clearly, Matlock has decided that as a musician, as an entertainer, he is going to grow old gracefully, even if this means spending most of his time as an unknown. He will not be an expletive-packing Pistol cursing freely into his 50s and 60s, committed to the cause of perpetuating a wild image even as the wrinkles deepen, the flesh softens and the desire crumples. Gene Simmons of Kiss, Alice Cooper, indeed Lemmy are not the right role models for Matlock as he approaches 50, which even if it is the new 40 is not really close enough to the magic years of the 20s where in the old-fashioned sense you can, in a dignified way, wreck yourself, and possibly elements of surrounding civilisation.
Then again, those of us who are watching rich celeb chef Jamie Oliver swear his way through his school dinners show actually might agree with Matlock that there really is too much swearing on television. Middle-of-the-road TV programming freely tosses in the obscenities to suggest there is grit and realism where really there is just frantic emptiness. Matlock might actually be anxious that the swearing is in the wrong mouths, that dull people are exploiting mock controversy as an easy route to commercial attention and that as an ex-Pistol who witnessed the Grundy incident he's responsible for that, and embarrassed by it.
Today I turned 30. Which means that I'm now no longer in my 20s, and only through the modern miracle of extended adolescence do I have five more years in the prime lifestyle-product marketing demographic.
Funny, as I don't feel any different than I did when I was 29; the number-rollover shock that usually hits me twice at this time of year (as it does when you're born close to the start of the year) wasn't any more severe than last year; probably because I was aware of my being about to turn 30 for some time.
Either that or it's senility setting in.
Another piece of cheerful news I can't resist passing on, given that I've just gotten a year older: new research shows that young women no longer dig older men; so, guys, if you were hoping that age would give you an aura of sophistication, and the sorts of cute chicks that ignored you when you were their age would be irresistably drawn to you and away from the immature young studs their age, prepare to be disappointed. (Not that it's a personal issue for me right now, mind you; just passing on the good tidings.)
(All of a sudden, I feel like putting on Pulp's Help the Aged.)
A study at Imperial College, London has found that eccentrics become more extreme with age. The researchers speculate that this is due to the human nervous system becoming less plastic, and less capable of covering up eccentricities to better fit in. Though Eliot from whom I got the link suggests it may be due to people becoming less concerned about others' opinions as they grow old. Though I wonder whether, given that thought and consciousness are physical processes, one is not a physical side-effect of the other.
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