Another review/interview with Jeff Gordinier….

…author of X Saves the World. The article is from March but fuck it!

I dig Jeff’s explanation of the Gen X viewpoint:

HO: What is the Gen X viewpoint?

JG: “I think the Gen X viewpoint is indirection. The boomer and millennial viewpoint is “I want to be in the fucking spotlight.” Gen Xers are uninterested in the spotlight. They’re more interested in dodging it and doing good work quietly. I think there’s a sort of comfort in the margins. Our influence on American culture has been in the shadows. It has been from the margins, even if we’re talking about something as macro as Google. Its genesis was microcosmic.”

Jeff gives credit, in part, to punk rock for this the Gen X sensibility:

“And, let’s be honest, punk rock has a lot to do with it. It just does. Not just the music but the sensibility. That attitude is so different than the boomer attitude. The attitude of people like Jello Biafra and Johnny Rotten, so scabrous and questioning and unwilling to be pinned down, unwilling to be lumped in. That seems to be so much a part of the Gen X sensibility.”

And I like his argument against the slacker label:

I’ve been a slacker. I wasted my time. I drank beer, I played chess with old guys, I sat around, I wrote a couple pieces, but, you know, so I slacked. Who hasn’t? It was good times. But for the most part, I was just unemployed, looking for work. I mean, I wasn’t slacking. I wanted a job, you know? We had a hard time finding work. That’s different than not wanting to work at all.

I dig how unapologetic he is about his slacking initially. I agree. So what? I’ve fucking slacked too. Shit, my whole grad school career was one long slack for the most part. I mean, come on. I got an MFA in fucking creative writing. Shit, I didn’t even have to hand in a finished thesis for crying out loud. It was part of a novella. I like grad school so much that I stuck around Kalamazoo, where to WMU, for a couple more years and taught part time as adjunct and worked doing maintenance and cleaning at a Hot Tub spa. It was way cool. The owners of the Hot Tub spa threw rocking Christmas parties!

I was never in a hurry to graduate from college. I took my time at community college — three years. I’d go to class during the day, study until I got booted from the library, then hit my buddy Mick’s house where we started drinking just to get tuned up and then hit the bars and clubs or went to a gig for somebody’s band that we knew. After three years of that I took off for Ypsilanti and EMU for ungergrad. I was in no hurry to get my degree. I was an English/creative writing major. I was having fun. Then I took a year off before grad school and worked in the bookstore in the mall — hey, it was full time — and partying some more.

I guess I just always had this impression that there was nothing all that great about the “real world” as people say, like it was a threat or something. And you know what? I was fucking right. I got my first “real job” in corporate publishing and it sucked ass. Especially my fucking gumpy ass, pear-shaped boss with the square head and bad fucking hair and creepy child hands who practically cracked the concrete floor she was such a hard-walker. Of course, the most annoying thing about her was that she “just loved her job” and “just loved being your guys’ team leader.” Yeah, I learned that your boss isn’t called a boss, she’s a team leader. By age she wasn’t a Boomer — she was younger than me — but by obnoxious corporate cog standards, oh, they just didn’t come any Boomer.

And anyway. Isn’t slacking what everyone aspires to anyway? Isn’t that what retirement is? Slacking around in the sun by the pool? Sleeping in. Going to Denny’s and hanging out for hours just drinking coffee and talking about pointless shit. Wandering around the mall or whatever. Listening to music. Going to movies. No real order to your day. Just doing whatever.

But of course you’re supposed to earn the right to slack. That’s the American way. And I think what pissed off a lot of people — Boomers, I mean. Is that we, Gen Xers, hadn’t “earned” it. We just fucking did it. Why hadn’t they fucking thought of that? Oh, that’s right. They were too busy planning the revolution. Sorry. Maybe in your next life a-hole!

But like Jeff says, we weren’t slacking. We were mostly just unemployed or under-employed. The job market sucked. Nothing else to do. Why not drink beer, smoke cigarette, and hang out in coffee shops?

Slacking is a much maligned, much misunderstood endeavor.


Hey, Obama! Read this!

Roland Martin’s column on today has some suggestions that Mr. Obama might do well to consider.

I’ve read more than a couple of articles suggesting that Obama is looking tired, suggesting that perhaps he’s losing his will to fight or whatever. I certainly hope not. One thing is clear, he needs to fight back more vehemently. Dude, take the fucking gloves off already and lay that b*@#h out!

John Cusak’s new movie

Quintessential Gen X actor, John Cusack has a new movie coming out, according to an article on

The new movie is called War, Inc., a dark comedy/political satire in which the 41-year-old Cusak plays a corporate-hired assassin to take out a rival company’s CEO. It’s good to see Cusak taking up this kind of role again. Some of his best work has been in darker, off-beat comedies, beginning with the 80s teen angst film, Better Off Dead, one of the best of this type of movie, as good as anything John Hughes ever made, and perhaps even better. Only Cusak could make teen suicide this funny. And no one plays a better clueless parent than David Oged Stiers, bets known for his portrayal of Charles in the hit TV show MASH. More recently, Cusak stared in the Harold Ramis dark comedy noir, The Ice Harvest, based on a little known novel by Scott Phillips, matching him with Billy Bob Thorton (in one of his good performances) and Oliver Platt who plays a great drunk. This may not be Ramis’ most popular directorial effort but it is one of his best. Funny and chilling at the same time is hard to pull of, but Ramis does it. But for my money, Cusak’s best movie of this type has got to be Grosse Pointe Blank, maybe because of the Michigan connection, although the movie was not filmed in Grosse Point, except for the parting shot along Lake Shore Drive, unless I’m mistaken. The rumor I recall was that Grosse Point, a notoriously pretensious city, wouldn’t allow the movie to be filmed there, but it could have easily been a money issue. Only recently has Michigan made it inexpensive for movies to be filmed here in the state.

According to the CNN article, Cusak co-wrote the screenplay for War, Inc. with Jeremy Pikser, and Mark Leyner, whom I believe is originally from Michigan — Flint I think. Cusak also helped write the screenplay for Blank. Also, as with Blank, Cusak sib, Joan, has a role in War, Inc. Though probably irrational, I find these similarities encouraging; this will be a very cool movie, although it is likely to be under appreciated, which seems to be Cusak’s fate, one of the many reasons that tags him as a Gen X player.

The movie, a labor of love and political passion, was made for only $10 million, particularly impressive when you consider that in addition to Cusak the movie features Ben Kingsley, Marisa Tomei and Hilary Duff (whom I won’t fault for sharing a first name with Hilary Clinton — as my gramps used to say, “I don’t blame a man for the way his asshole smells.” Actually, my grandfather never said that, but it makes the joke work better, I think. Don’t you?)

In Cusak’s words: “So out of that sense of outrage we decided to try to make a little punk rock movie.”

If that ain’t signature Gen X than I don’t know what is.

You Look Nice today — no, not you. It’s a blog.

Post funny podcasts of three guys blabbling about all kinds of nonsense. It is the online version of a GenX pot-smoking and junk food munching round table discussion.

I’m adding it to my blog roll as well.

Thankies to Proffitt for turning me on to this site, man.

Gen X catches shit for for Realestate bust — Nice!

I’ve made clear my disinterest, if not utter disdain, for business and makreting etc as it pertains to Generation X, mostly because of the crap out there that exist for no other purpose than to try make money off of GenX, or any other generation for that matter. I find this sort of endeavor essentially soulless, and have, until now, mostly opted to simply not engage with it, except to vent my annoyance and contempt.

Having said that, personal finances are a fact of life. And being a parent, I want to pass on good fiscal habits to my daughter, as much I am capable of doing so.

The following article suggests that Generation X  is somehow to blame for the current Real Estate bust is precisely the kind of horse shit that puts me off the subject of business and finance and  all related subject matter. So of course I was fully prepared to dismiss this blog out of hand, but then I began reading the comments to this post and was heartened to see plenty of people taking this dude to task, which was perhaps his intent. So I took a little closer look at the blog and found it to have some interesting as well as potentially useful information on it.

Check out the article:

Perhaps it is better to engage this kind of bullshit than to ignore it.

For example, the notion that Generation X somehow graduated from college into a rosey economy is ridiculous. It does not apply to me, that’s for sure. Sure, in the mid- to late-90s the Tech Boom was in full force, but that is only a narrow window of time. I am GenX and I graduate from undergrad in 1991. I can still remember the commencement keynote speaker lamenting the poor job market and economy. I found work in a bookstore that summer, but then I didn’t look for much more since I was off to grad. school after a year off. So maybe I missed something. Granted after grad school and severl years adjunct teaching, which earned me very little (but hey that was my fault for wanting to teach college kids how to write and sharpen their critical thinking skills; I should have just chucked all that cash in the big bucks or whatever), I landed a very lucrative job in the infomration publishing industry, scoring a whopping 20k/year salary– woo hoo! That was in 1999, and not 4 years later that that company was laying people en masse. I know people who are still bouncing around looking for jobs. I suppose some people got stinking rich off the tech boom but I don’t know any.

And I don’t know any Gen Xers how own fucking McMansions either. My wife and I own a ranch with no basement.

Also, this article ignores the fact that many GenXers did not go to college and thus entered the work force in the mid-80s, which I’m pretty sure sucked ass! Thanks a lot Ronnie Regan, may you rest in self-deluded peace.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty disdainfull and suspicious of marketing and business proponents who seek to exploit Generation X to fill thier pockets, but I’m willing to take a closer look. I’ve got my eye on you Generation X Finance. I’m watching. Always watching. Well, probably not always. But I’ll put you on my blog roll. Aren’t you elated!


New X. Lit: “All the Sad Young Literary Men” by Keith Gessen

I first heard about Mr. Gessen’s new novel when he took part in an online writer round table discussion on a new book discussion website called title page ( At 33, he falls within the GenX age range, and based on a recent  New York Times article  his novel seems a viable candidate for condemnation in the X. Lit genre.

I’m jumping to this conclusioin based on the brief description of the novel from the article:

In rotating chapters, the book tells of three young strivers who are frustrated in ambitions great and small: they bungle sexual conquests, struggle to finish writing books and dissertations, and are buffeted by larger historical forces. Tantalized by the potential of greatness, they fear it will perpetually elude them.

That last line is especially descriptive of the GenX ethos, the belief in success in conjunction with the anxiety that in the end it will never really happen.

Aslo, the outtake on Gessen’s life give me a chubby to tag him as an Xer:

It is against this backdrop that Mr. Gessen has published his novel, “All the Sad Young Literary Men,” a distillation of his own years in the wilderness: a youthful marriage soon followed by divorce, and his inability to finish an M.F.A. program at Syracuse University. (Mr. Gessen said he completed the course work, but never turned in a final original work of fiction.)

How so GenX to complete all course work for an MFA and yet not hand in the thesis, and to be perfectly cool with it, not have some Boomer hang up about completion and resolution blah blah blah. You know what I’m talking about, right. Those middle-aged divorcees who opined in Lit class so that all you young people could benefit from the wisdome of their former pathetic existence. Hey, chatty Cathy clip your string, we don’t need to know, okay. I do have to point out that I managed to not only complete course work for an MFA but I also managed to hand in a thesis. It was incomplete, sure, but still… the program was cool with it — I paid my bill, so…you know.

Additionaly information: Mr. Gessen is also an editor and founder of n+1, a newer literary journal, which apparently has developed a reputation for going after some of the old guard journals as well as pick fights with generational contemporaries like David Eggers and his publication, McSweeny’s. This edge snarkiness, a desire to stand up and pick a fight, is further evidence of Gessen’s GenX status. Some of the harsher criticism of Gessen’s novel have been attributed, at least in part, to his penchant for scathing criticsms. Personally, I admire that. I mean, I dig McSweeny’s and what I’d read of David Eggers, but that doesn’t make him immune to rhetorical jabs.

Check the NY Times article, linked above, for specifics.

I’ve not yet read Gessen’s novel, but I hope to. The title does seem a bit pretensious to me, but that’s hardly a reason to keep from at least attempting to read it.

X. Lit: Jennifer Government….

There’s a good chance I won’t finish Max Barry’s novel, Jennifer Governement. The ending seems pretty predictable, not to knock Mr. Barry, after all his published and fairly well read as far as I can tell and I’m just some schmuck blathering away on the interner to little, if any, avail, nevermind actual readership. My reason for this: I’m rereading Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road, for….wait for it….a book club. Yeah, that’s right. As non-GenXer as it may be to “join” anything, especially groups, I’ve decided to give it a try. Of course, there are not many books that I would join a book club for but The Road is definitely one of them. We’ll see how it goes. Also, I’ve written previously here that I consider McCarthy to be an X. Lit author. This might well give me opportunity to explain myself in greater detail. But I would like to make one point about Jennifer Government, concerning one of the primary charcters — John Nike. And that is that he, I would assert, is a distant, though softer and more comical, cousin of Patrick Bateman, the main character and narrator of Brett Easton Ellis’ continuingly (is that a word?) controversial novel, American Psycho. Both are slick yuppies with little regard for human life. They share similar concerns with material goods and surface details. And they especially seem to embody that Ellis theme of foregoing deep, meaningful human emotions and feelings for intensity of sensations via sex, drugs and alchohol, and especially violence. Of course, Batement is the epitomy of this particular ethos, grimly and repulsively so, while John Nike is more of comic book version of it, which is probably why no one will scream for Max Barry’s head to be lopped off and posted on spit.

Another X. Lit author

To add to my previous list of GenX authors/books, I thus nominate Mary Gaitskill, who while in terms of her age may not be considered a GenXer, her fiction certainly fits.

Gaitskill is the author of two short story collections and two novels :

  • Bad Behavior (1988) (stories) ISBN 0-671-65871-9
  • Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991) (novel) ISBN 0-671-68540-6
  • Because They Wanted To (1997) (stories) ISBN 0-684-80856-0
  • Veronica (2005) (novel) ISBN 0-375-42145-9
  • Her stories often revolve around a kind of yout culture, especially young people in state of stuckness, between their youth and impending adulthood, which for me places her firmly in the X. Lit realm. But of course, as with many authors/books that I’d nominate for inclusion in the X Lit. worlds, her work definitely reaches beyond such a limiting hermeneutic (I think I used that word aptly, but feel free to take me to task on it).

    I (and Jeff Gordinier) am (are) not alone….

    Lest some people believe that my commentary on Generation X is taking place in a vaccuum, nothing more than personal griping that is not represenative of a more wide-spread attitude, allow me to relate some comments that I happen to be privy to over the weekend.

    At a social gathering I listened to two people, both of few years older than I and easily quialifiable as GenXers, though they would not use that term themselves to describe themselves, comment on the self-entitled attitude of younger workers (i.e. Millennials) at their places of work. These younger workes either didn’t seem to feel the need to put in the time and effort that is required to do their jobs properly and/or seemed to feel that their innevitable rise to the top level of their respective work worlds would happen quickly and unecumbered by any “hang ups” that older workes have about their, the younger workers’, ages or “percieved” lack of experience. These people seemed both irritated and confused by thier younger co-workers arrogance and niavete about how the work world operates. One even went so far as to feel sorry for the younger Millennial worker who seemed to feel free to repeatedly take his boss’s boss to task on any number of issues. I, of course, did not share this sympathy. Fuck ’em if they want to shoot thier mouths off so unabashedly. Maybe getting knocked down a few pegs would teach them the hard lesson that not everyone in the world is going to treat them like thier over-indulgent Boomer mommys and daddys.

    In any case, much of what these two people said reminded me of the descriptions of Millennials that Jeff Gordinier puts forth in his book, X Saves the the world.

    Mind you, these comments were not provoked in any way by me. It simply came up in the course of conversation. But I was intrigued to hear this notion echoed back at me by two people who could care less about my interest in Generation X, even if they had been aware of it.

    Of course, I can hear the detractors claiming that this example is a fiction. Why? Because I did not name or describe my relationship to these two people? Well, that is because, unlike too many Millennials, not only do I not feel the need to vomit every personal detail about myself onto the web for any and all to view, I am very hesitant to force others onto that stage, especially when I don’t know how they would feel about it. So don’t fucking believe me. That doesn’t make what I’ve said untrue.

    Gen Xers fret about retirement

    According to an article from Reuters, if Boomers are worrying about whether they’ll have enough money to retire, Gen Xers are fretting that they’ll never really be able to retire at all, that they’ll be working for the rest of their fucking lives.

    I have doubts about the articles assertion that Gen Xers have high expectations for retirement. Real Xers seem incapable of expecting too much. If anything, we have lowered expectations. I do anyway. I can’t help but image myself a lonely old man in a bare room eating pictures of food that I’ve cut out magazines. That is if the world hasn’t been totally destroyed by nuclear war or global warming or something like that.

    Hey, maybe destruction of the planet has been the Gen X retirement plan all along, foisted on use of course by Boomers. They know it is coming but they don’t really do anything about it, not in a serious way, because they know they’ll be gone before the end. This explains why they feel no need to do anything to help the next generation plan for retirment, because it would just be a waste of time anyway. The end is nigh!

    I can remember this idea in the form of a defunct Sosical Security fund coming up years back, when Bill Bubba Clinton was running for his first stint in the White House. It was supposed to be a concern, but fuck all if anything was done about it. Boomers in power keep yak yak yak yaking about it but don’t do shit. Why should they? They’ll still get theirs. And by time their done, dead and gone, Gen X will be left with nothing. But of course, as stated above, it won’t matter because the world will have ended, or it will have flooded, and as such it will be more important to own a dingy then to have a substantially diversified 401k.

    Am I the only one who, in his darker moments, indulges evil fantasies of a mass generational cleansings of the Boomers? I can’t be.