Leonard Zwelling

I must be getting old. Wait! That’s not true. I am old. It has been weighing on me.

But what is so disappointing is that I am so out of touch as well. I really don’t understand culture any more. It has been years since I have seen a television show that I thought was actually funny except for the dramas that are so bad they make you laugh. As for music, I am really out of it. I used to run the rock concerts at Duke when I was an undergrad and was considered quite the aficionado once, identifying Bruce Springsteen as the real deal very early in his career. Now, I can’t listen to what passes for popular music whether it is rap, country or K-Pop. It is the rare Saturday night when I don’t fast forward through the musical guest on SNL which I cannot watch when it’s on live because I am already in bed.

Then there’s politics. There really was a time not so long ago when our elected officials tried to find common ground and get something done. Now it seems they just want to win and then sit on their laurels and do nothing. The Democrats are espousing a philosophy of let’s give it all away and tax the rich to do it. The Republicans are the party of no. No voting. No fair elections. No truth.

I don’t understand why everyone is content to work from home. I could never have performed any of the many jobs that I had when working from home. They depended on too much interpersonal interaction and human contact to be done via Zoom.

Then there’s my former profession-medicine. What’s with these young doctors keeping bankers’ hours and complaining about being worked too hard and not praised enough? As an intern I worked 16-hour days for six days and 8 on the seventh. I didn’t really sleep for the year between June 24, 1973 and June 24, 1974. And not only was that my life, I was grateful for it. What scares me is who is going to care for me now that I am old and prone to the diseases of time? Like next week.

Then there’s political correctness and the various arguments between the liberals who want to make every minority this year’s cause celebre and the right wingers who want to roll back any progress that has been made on the racial and gender fronts. What’s wrong with these people? First, the country has made tremendous progress toward racial equality and women’s rights. Do we still have a way to go? Of course we do. Are racism and gender inequality still major problems in the workplace? Yes they are, but we are better than we used to be and many of us are tired of being made to feel guilty about being white and straight. It’s not like that was our fault.

I know, I know. I sound like a crotchety old person. That’s because I am. I miss songs on the radio that have all three elements of music–melody, harmony and rhythm–rather than just the latter. I miss movies that are about things that actually matter—like people. Tenet was a film about special effects. Someone recently said to me that the Rolling Stones are just a tribute band to themselves. I agree. They haven’t had a new musical idea since the 1970s. Even Bruce Springsteen is recycling himself and Paul McCartney and Paul Simon need to hang up their spikes. Their voices are gone.

I used to look around and be awed by quality. Now the only place to reliably see true excellence seems to be on the athletic field, but even there the horses are as doped up as the baseball players.

Yes, I am old and not at all happy about parts of it. Then every once in a while, there’s a glimmer of hope. Phil Mickelson wins the PGA and other athletes are still performing at top levels into their forties and beyond. Billie Eilish can sing and Lady Gaga is a force of nature. So is P!nk. OK, they aren’t in their seventies like me, but they aren’t 16 either. OK, Billie Eilish is maybe 20, but still she has talent. In fact, that’s the tragedy. When I can stand to watch the “musical artists” on SNL, there is no shortage of musical talent. There is a shortage of melody and a hummable hook.

You know what? I sound like my parents. Serves me right!

2 thoughts on “Old”

  1. Yes, it’s a constant struggle to self-diagnose and control curmudgeonliness, the pathognomonic geriatric disorder for which the primary sign/symptom is opining that younger generations don’t manage/achieve/perform/entertain as well as ours once did. Regrettably, the cure is worse than the disease. (insert smiley here)

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