November 02, 2008

Working on a Cocktail Named “Damn, You’re Old”

Today I turn a year older, which is pretty awesome. And yes, of course I feel good about it, but me being me, I've been thinking about this for a while now. It occurred to me that when certain people were the age I am today, they were doing some interesting things:

Bob Dylan was making the Planet Waves album for Geffen (1973). Sting was releasing Synchronicity with the Police (1983). Elvis Costello was reverting to his given name and making both King of America and Blood and Chocolate (1986). David Bowie released Lodger, the third album in his Berlin trilogy (1979). Bono was touring Zoo TV with U2 (1992). David Lowery was making the first album for his new band, Cracker (1992). Mark Sandman was undoubtedly doing something cool no one will ever know about (1984).

John Lennon was in the throes of his post-Beatles politicizing (1972). Thom Yorke was releasing Kid A with Radiohead (2000). Morrissey released Kill Uncle (1991). Frank Black released his first album with new backing band the Catholics (1997). Kim Deal was getting over Black's breakup-via-fax of the Pixies (1993). Jeff Tweedy was making Summerteeth with Wilco (1999). Guy Garvey was touring Leaders of the Free World with Elbow (2006).

PJ Harvey was touring her Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea album (2001). Tori Amos was probably recording Boys for Pele. Liz Phair was touring White Chocolate Space Egg (1999). Bjork released Homogenic (1997). Jenny Lewis released her Acid Tongue album (2008)—and yes, she was born the same year as me, but 10 months earlier.

Hunter S. Thompson wasn't writing much, but he was managing Joe Edwards' mayoral race in Aspen (1969). Salman Rushdie was probably writing Midnight's Children (1979). Irvine Welsh was three years away from finishing Trainspotting (1990). Bret Easton Ellis was probably in the middle of writing Glamorama (1996). Neal Stephenson was probably writing Snow Crash (1991). Jo Rowling was experiencing the first spasms of Harry Potter mania (1997). Matt Taibbi was getting culture shock after returning to the U.S. from post-communist Russia (2002).

Ryne Sandberg batted .306 with 100 RBIs for the Cubs, was an All-Star for the 8th time, and won his 6th gold glove as a second baseman (1991). Tony Gwynn batted .317 with 41 RBIs for the Padres, and won his 5th gold glove as a right fielder (1992). Shawn Green batted .266 with 86 RBIs for the Dodgers, and hit two home runs in one playoff game (2004).

Eddie Izzard was taking a break from stand-up in favor of West End theater. Jon Stewart had his own show on MTV (1994). Stephen Colbert left Second City to work on the short-lived "Exit 57" (1996).

Certain other people were leading very different lives in the year they were the age I am today:

Barack Obama was teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and moved professionally from community organization to civil rights law (1993). John McCain was in the second of six years of hellish torture as a POW in Hanoi (1968). George W. Bush got married and lost an election in Texas for the U.S. House of Representatives (1978). Bill Clinton was elected governor of Arkansas (1978).

None of this intimidates me too much, though. So what the fuck have I been doing?

Nothing earth-shattering; writing a novel, adding two new song lyrics to my massive canon, making some weird ambient instrumental soundtrack music, and compiling my past decade-plus of writing. I've managed production of an education research journal, and the last five issues have been the best-designed they've ever seen. I've built way too many websites and spent too much time in front of computers. I've visited three baseball stadiums. I bought a house with my wife, and have been getting steadily older, fatter, and balder.

It's been a long few years of looking back. It's probably time for things to be epic and new again.

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