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Fogey Alert

1:54 PM, Sep 30, 2010 • By PHILIP TERZIAN
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Sometime in the mid-1980s a pop cultural landmark was reached when Baby Boomer journalists started writing columns complaining about the current state of rock music. This process might have been jump-started by the affront of Madonna to such people as Ellen Goodman of the Boston Globe or Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times; but by 1985 or thereabouts, it was altogether commonplace to read lamentations about the music the kids are listening to today in unfavorable comparison with the classic compositions of the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Crosby, Stills etc.

Fogey Alert

What these middle-aged Boomers didn't realize, of course, is that they were striking exactly the same note that the Greatest Generation had sounded a quarter-century earlier at the advent of rock music--or, more specifically, in the wake of the British invasion of the mid-1960s. How many times was it expressed, by indignant journalists, that the tuneless, brainless, screeching 'music' of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Crosby, Stills, etc. brooked no comparison with Harry James, Woody Herman, Frank Sinatra, or whomever?

It's always fun to read Newsweek these days--as it slowly descends into oblivion--but the current issue contains a comparably instructive specimen: The Fogey stage has been reached in the world of high technology. In a splenetic column about Facebook and Twitter, 50-year-old Daniel Lyons is full of indignation about the current crop of younger Silicon Valley entrepreneurs--"There's the expectation that every company ought to do short-term, easy things to achieve giant paydays"--and harks back to the golden age of selfless innovation and creativity: "The Valley," he writes, "used to be a place run by scientists and engineers, people like Robert Noyce, the Ph.D. physicist who helped invent the integrated circuit and cofounded Intel. The Valley, in those days, was focused on hard science and making things ... " And on and on.

Substitute "Glenn Miller" for "Robert Noyce, Ph.D.," and it could just as easily be Daniel Lyons's father griping about Elvis Presley and remembering the good old days when music had melodies, and you could dance to it.

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