This past weekend I was subjected to an ordeal which included two of the things I hate the most in life.
The first was four hours of doo-wop music.
The second was extremely close proximity to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 Baby Boomers.
What followed was perhaps the most boring and obnoxious four hours of my entire life.
Let's start with the doo-wop music.
I didn't want to be within 17 miles of this particular event, but my girlfriend, the Lovely Tess Trueheart, insisted that we go. She, for reasons that escape me, absolutely loves doo-wop music despite the fact that she was born just a week after I was in 1967. Maybe it's just me, but I find very little aesthetic quality in this sort of thing; it's not Led Zepplin, and it ain't Rush, and that's enough for me to give it a pass any time it's offered.
I can, from a purely musical point of view, see the artistry in it -- it is, for all intents and purposes, a form of music that resembles your typical classical choir -- but for some reason I associate doo-wop with Barbershop Quartets. That is to say, I've always associated it with a time long gone, and a fashion that seems both quaint and anachronistic. I don't find it entertaining in the least.
And when you stop to consider that in this case the music was performed by the original acts (as original as you can get, that is; some members of the original acts are dead, and are often replaced with the odds and ends from other "big time" doo-wop groups that have, likewise, been ravaged by the Grim Reaper) -- men and women nearing or well into their 70's -- the less appeal I find in it. There were quite a few performers who had to be helped on and off stage, or who couldn't hold a note without additional oxygen.
Give them full marks for trying, but let's face it. I mean, really?
Anyhow, the acts themselves meant very little to me. These are not the Rock Gods of my youth. Acts like the Planatones, the Excellents, and so forth, don't excite me in the same way that The Police or The Pretenders would. I would guess that is just the way things are. I found the music tedious and repetitive and the people who sang it valiant for trying, if not outright pathetic.
Well, except for one act, that is.
The Doves (and for some reason they were introduced and ushered offstage as "The Fabulous Doves") were an interesting combo, but for one reason:
I wondered how it was that they got John Conyers, Herman Cain, Don Cheadle and Morgan Freeman to sing in four-part harmony. Other than the superficial resemblance of the group's members to those four august personages, there was little to recommend either show or genre of music.
But the really terrible part was to be surrounded by so many Baby Boomers. And not just any kind of Baby Boomers, but perhaps as bad a cross-section of that generation that you could contrive to collect in one spot.
The (I would guess) sixty-eight year old on his faux-Harley-with-training-wheels which lugged a stereo system that cost more than the bike probably did, blaring doo-wop music at incredible volume. He takes his helmet off, and one flap of his toupee gets caught in the straps. Clueless, the man remained that way, with one portion of his hairpiece sticking out at an incredible angle, all evening.
Far from being "cool", this sort is pathetically, tragically, ridiculous. That they never catch on to this state of affairs only makes it funnier.
The reliving-my-youth-only-with-more-stupidity woman, who went through the trouble of putting her hair up in something like a beehive and applying make-up with a trowel to make herself appear to be a 16-year-old bobby-soxer before somehow shoehorning her fat ass into the six-sizes-too-small poodle skirt, and jamming her enormous hooves into them saddle shoes, the smell of moth balls permeating the atmosphere around her out to a 40' radius.
Someone has some serious issues here.
The veritable forest of walkers. The seemingly interminable line of wheelchairs. You couldn't get from one place to another -- say your seat to the Men's Room -- except at a snail's pace, and without two dozen 'excuse me's'. More annoying, they have a tendency to stop in the midst of a hallway or doorway in little groups of two and three that coalesce with other clusters of like numbers to reminisce, or to go through the motions of that whole "haven't seen in you in 30 years you're lookin' good" routine (you know, the one that ends with each party telling their closest confidant upon break-up of the impromptu coffee clatch that So-and-so was an absolute putz back then, and time hasn't cured that particular defect?).
There is a special breed of Baby Boomer, however -- in wheelchairs -- that we should seriously consider slaughtering at some point should the food distribution system ever break down. These are the people who believe that a wheelchair bestows upon them certain extra-Constitutional rights that gives them free reign to be as petty, vicious and obnoxious as they please, safe behind the shield of guilt generated by the chair itself.
Or so they suppose.
These people insist to be allowed to the front of every line, They reserve the right to stall the free-flow of pedestrians in hallways and sidewalks. They don't give a shit if the person pushing them -- often someone who probably needs that chair just as badly -- runs over your toes, or smashes your shins and ankles. You wouldn't believe how many were delivered to the event in some form of medical transport rather than by personal vehicle or other conveyance. Transport, I can promise you, that is either subsidized by the City of New York (that it to say, the taxpayer) or paid for outright by Medicare, which is to say, the taxpayer, again). I happen to know these things are paid for by other people because my own Baby Boomer mother uses them, too.
I don't mind all that much paying to bring people back and forth to hospitals, clinics and doctor's appointments (so long as such expenditure makes good economic sense in a strict cost-to-benefit way), but to chauffeur them to doo-wop concerts where they can make a nuisance of themselves? The line must be drawn somewhere.
Personally, I would shoot everyone in a wheelchair born before 1970, but that's only because I'm a vicious, heartless prick. The other benefits to such a program -- lower medical costs, fewer Social Security, Disability and Welfare recipients, less Medicare fraud, fewer people with no true economic utility -- don't appeal to people with a softer mindset. That means I'm an asshole, so far as they;re concerned.
But, no matter. I am but one man sitting in his pajamas ranting and raving on the internet, with no power to make my wishes come true. Still, it would have been nice to stand in back of that auditorium with a .50 Browning machine gun and a couple of belts of ammo just to thin the Baby Boomer herd a bit. Just think of the money I would have made on wheelchair and walker resale alone?
But, I digress.
There was one point to all of this stupidity in the end. Well, actually, two.
The first was to raise money for Bishop Ford High School, which was done. Something on the order of $10,000 was raised which goes to scholarship funds which were started as memorials to former students killed on September 11th. Okay, I can see suffering through stupid music for that. Well and fine.
But the other point was a bit harder to see without some distance from the overall unpleasantness of the event. It's about history.
The generation that performed and loved this form of music, whether I like it or not, is disappearing. Which is fine by me; the Baby Boomers are, perhaps, the biggest collective waste of gametes in human history. But, the music itself is a part of American culture and history, and for that reason alone, should be preserved somehow, somewhere.
You know, it's not difficult to imagine some archaeologist 10,000 years from now trying to find his version of the Rosetta Stone in a quest to discover just what the cultural significance of the utterance "oom-pompa-mau-mau" might have been.
Technically, there was no cultural significance at all because it belongs to a generation that did it's level best to destroy it's own culture, but it would be funny to be a fly on the wall when the scholars of that age debate the issue.