Baby Boomer music and memories
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-02-14

For a Baby Boomer like yours truly, listening to the music of our era and reliving what is considered our life’s Golden Moments easily develop into a habit. A trip down memory lane becomes integral to our survival kit as we start developing a growing uneasiness over the new world that is evolving.

Sci-fi movies that are only screened now on the Turner Classics Cable Channel show that what were fantasies during our youth are now everyday items that every 21st century young person sports — cellular phones, computers, face-to-face internet video conversations and so forth.

In the 1950s, we can only dream of earthlings landing on the moon. A decade later three NASA astronauts did land on the moon. One of them made sure the moon landing was highlighted by a historic quotable quote — “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

These days, many of our fellow Baby Boomers — luckily not your Chair Wrecker — are what are called techno phobes. Among other things, they do not even know how to open, much less operate, a computer. In our Ateneo alumni e-groups, whenever they join, rest assured that it is either one of their children or grandchildren operating the email for them.

Faced with the threat (whether imagined or real) of irrelevance and living with an ever increasing feeling that we are no longer a part of this world — we Baby Boomers naturally recoil to the era when we were the lords of the streets and life, it seemed then, revolved around us.

It was the same experience for my late friend and fellow STAR columnist Teddy Benigno. When the year 2000 was about to dawn, Teddy told our close circle of friends that he felt no kinship with the 21st century. True enough, Teddy was one of the most loyal viewers of the Turner Classics Cable Channel and he empathized with the old black and white classic films which featured the likes of James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, George Raft, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, et al.

Teddy was born before the Second World War and even fought as a guerilla during the war here against Japan. As a teenager, Teddy danced to the beat of the music of Glenn Miller and his band. Your Chair Wrecker was born after the war. Our musical and sexual consciousness started with the gyrations of Elvis Presley, followed by The Beatles.

These days, your Chair Wrecker takes refuge every Sunday watching the television programs of RJ Jacinto (RJTV, 9 a.m. to 12 noon) and Boots Anson-Roa and Willie Nepomuceno (Teleradyo, 2 to 4 p.m.) RJ plays the beats we used to dance to while Boots and Willie play the music our elder brothers and sisters used to follow and which we had developed a liking for. Then, we were the young ones. Now, we are just the young once.

In the case of your Chair Wrecker, following the latest musical trends ended when Heavy Metal and the Rap came to town. Whoa! I said to myself. I don’t think the human soul was intended to be in rhythm with anything as suspicious as Heavy Metal.

Heavy Metal struck many of us Baby Boomers as the demon’s intrusion into music by which to ensnare the unknowing man’s soul. Many openly asserted that view. Personally, I felt that it was just a very weird sound, likely the product of one under the influence of very powerful and toxic illegal drugs.

Thus when Retro became vogue, many of us Baby Boomers exclaimed — “Ah! Thank God for restoring sanity to the human race!” The youth became curious about the generation of the Revolutionary 1960s. And we got a badly needed respite from Heavy Metal, Rap and all that.

Ironically, our older generation felt exactly the same way over Elvis Presley, The Beatles and all our musical idols — the same way we felt about Heavy Metal, Rap and all that. My late Dad once commented: “In the 16th century, the Inquisition would have burned Elvis Presley at the stake.”

Dad was right — those suggestive hip movements of Elvis the Pelvis would have been deemed by the Inquisition as proof of demonic possession. Elvis would have been tried and tortured by the Inquisition for attempting to propagate a demonic cult which is easy to prove with all those screaming and crying Elvis fans. No doubt, The Beatles would have suffered a similar fate.

Actually, your Chair Wrecker, for some reason or another, had an equal passion for the music of the older generation. I was a teenager during the 1960s but I listened as much to the music of the 1940s and the 1950s as I would listen to the music of the 1960s and 1970s.

To me, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Jerry Vale, Tony Bennett, Patti Page and Rosemary Clooney were as vogue as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, Gary Lewis and the Playboys and Hermann’s Hermits.

I used to enjoy watching the good clean fun of the socials and parties my Mom and Dad attended, where they danced the Pasa Doble, Valse (Waltz), Tango and so forth. Everybody dressed for the occasion and the social event required everyone’s best behavior.

That was also the era when crooks could not openly display their loot. That was the era when Philippine society knew how to make crooks feel uncomfortable, unwanted and uninvited. Now, the biggest crooks run for president and several of them even managed to win.

It is sad how things have deteriorated in our neighborhood, in our country. Ah, music and memories — such comfort for an aching Filipino Baby Boomer’s heart and a tired nationalist warrior’s soul.

Here’s wishing a Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours. Let’s love our country.

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