Archive for the ‘Impertinence’ Category.

Change Is Getting Old, Already

Change so far in 2009 is a little loose, maybe, but doesn’t appear to be on the spare side.

One change very close to home is new ownership at our gym, the former Anderson’s Greenlake Nautilus, now called American Athlete at Greenlake .  We’ve belonged to this club since about 1985, and we each drop in about every second day to work through a progression of Nautilus machines.  We don’t do anything else there - yoga, spinning, stairmasters, etc, because it’s just close enough that we’d be ashamed to drive there, and far enough (about 2 miles from the house) that we get adequate aerobic work running down there and back.

The place has been under the same ownership for about 20 of those years, and the atmosphere has been laid-back, congenial and probably not as profitable as the “pump-shop” gyms that push all kinds of extras at you.  No juice bar, no social scene (it’s been a fairly mature crowd, 30 and up), perfect for our purposes.  We’d just signed up, and prepaid for, two more years just before the sale.

The new owners are a pair of guys probably early- to mid-thirties.  They’ve made some changes already, including firing all of the employees that we’d befriended over the years, and have plans for lots more.  I’m all for having the place make enough money to survive, and I don’t really think anything they do will affect my routine that much unless they tear out all the Nautilus machines, fill the place with free-weight stations and rip your shirt off and spray you with baby oil as you enter.

It already seems like the clientele has trended younger (not really a bad thing, especially if one has retained his eyesight).  The new owners are affable enough, but one can’t but harbor more than a grain of doubt that Gen-X’ers want to be involved in an activity that extends the lives of Boomers beyond the short end of the actuarial calculations that promise their long-sought liberation from us.

Which brings me to a broader and less anecdotal revelation of change: according to an article last week, it appears that we Boomers are over on the national scene as well:

To a number of social analysts, historians, bloggers and ordinary Americans, Jan. 20 will symbolize the passing of an entire generation: the baby boomer years.

…it’s a sense that a cultural era is ending, one dominated by the boomers, many of whom came of age in the ’60s and experienced the bitter divisions caused by the Vietnam War and the protests against it, the civil rights struggle, social change, sexual freedoms, and more.

Those experiences, the theory goes, led boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, to become deeply motivated by ideology and mired in decades-old conflicts. And Obama? He’s an example of a new pragmatism: idealistic but realistic, post-partisan, unthreatened by dissent, eager and able to come up with new ways to solve problems.

I’ve often chafed at the idea that our generation has been fired by a defining ideology and sense of mission.  We’ve been living on the echoes of a couple of years of testosterone-fueled wildings on college campuses, when, in actuality, we donned suits and hit the corporate ladders in the 80s with shockingly malleable ethics, just now reaching their culmination on Wall Street.  Yeah, baby, them is us.

We changed the world with the crushing weight of our demographics.  It took the cover of Gen-X insouciance to finally get us permission to wear jeans to work, ferchrissakes.

Still, it’s a shock to realize that the generation that was going to live forever is over, that Clinton and Bush the Lesser are the only shots we’ll get.

And yet one more big change has been visited on us in this young year.  The newspaper that carried the article referenced above, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, has been put up for sale by the Hearst corporation.  The “for sale” sign is merely a formality required by the Joint Operating Agreement under which it has operated for the last 30 years.  They expect to shutter the paper at the end of the offer period.

This will be something like an eviction from a living room of consciousness for us.  We’ve subscribed to the paper almost from the day we moved here in 1974, the thunk of it hitting our porch every morning very often our first sensory experience.  We’re so inured to the susurrus of their reporters and columnists whispering in our ears that its cessation on whatever day they cease publishing will be deafening - people like cartoonist and essayist David Horsey, sports columnist Art Thiel, political columnist and resident curmudgeon Joel Connelly, even sports court jester Jim Moore.

As I write, it occurs to me that the mere fact that I can link to the paper at will, and you can read any of it without taking your credit card out of your wallet, is one of the big reasons they’re going under in the first place.

The other paper in town, the Republican-leaning Seattle Times, is also in a world of financial hurt, and will probably not absorb any of these journalists.  They will probably have to begin new careers if they want to stay in town, and their voices will be lost to us unless they find an online outlet (perhaps even a lowly blog!).

We’ll most likely subscribe to the Times simply because my 91-year-old MIL, who lives with us, so enjoys lingering over a printed newspaper while eating breakfast.  I long ago switched to the internet for almost all of my newspaper reading.  Just call me “assassin”.

Hit Parade

I was amused by this column this morning, in which musicians complain that their masterpieces are being used at a volume and play frequency that they would kill for if it was proffered by Top-40 FM, except that it’s being done by the hospitality industry at Guantanamo to soothe break down selected prisoners.

I’m not sure how the interrogators determine exactly what combination of the artists’ oeuvre will be most effective for their purposes, but it seems that their success in their endeavors would be closely followed by the music industry, with lucrative post-service offers for the most effective T(torture)-Jays.  I know this, though - our kid played a lot of Pantera while he was in middle school, and we never told him anything useful (just ask him).

I’m thinking I could use this theme to do something like our acquaintance and music expert KEN does over at his blog Miss Piggy Lunchbox.  His schtick is that he’s working his way alphabetically through his and his “baby’s” music collection, rating each album by awarding from 1 - 5 “lunchboxes” depending on what he hears and, probably, what he had for lunch that day (It’s actually interesting and well-informed analysis, even if he trashes stuff that you cry listening to).

I propose to do the same in the T-Jay genre, but rating the music on its effectiveness at extracting useful information from those reluctant to impart it.  Being a low-budget operation, I’d probably resort most often to our cat, Rico, as a subject.

The ratings would be from 1 - 5 “screams”:

Once I develop a palpable repertoire, I might just try my luck at being a defense contractor.


We’re off to a Halloween party - I have to leave a 3-3 Penn State-Ohio State game at halftime (click to enlarge if you can stomach it)

Ball ‘n Chain

Today also marks the 34th annual recurrence of the day Mrs. Perils made an uncharacteristic lapse in good judgment and became my bride. Backstory here.

When I travel, I usually hoard a few packets of pretzels and peanuts to proffer upon my return. This innoculates me from higher expectations that might involve expensive trips to duty-free stores. I’ll have to check my luggage pockets, but I don’t believe I’ve retained any from this trip, and it’s going to cost me.

We have anniversary dinner reservations at a neat little neighborhood restaurant, Tilth, which features eclectic organic fare, and is owned and chef-ed by a woman that Mrs’ Perils knows from her climbing gym. (She’s the last person you’d think of as a social climber, but there you go).

I’m thinking we might do a little bit of urban hiking this afternoon, and arrive at the restaurant in good spirits and with healthy appetites.

Update: I found a couple packets of airline nibbles I saved from last weekend:

I think I’ll take her to dinner anyway.