the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Staying Jiggy With it


I’m reading a blog written by this really cool woman.  She’s talking about what music she has on her iPod.  She listens to the coolest current music and I’m writing down the names of the latest bands that I never even heard of.   Then this woman starts talking about her teenage children, and I realize that this woman is 35 years old.  It makes me think of my own parents and their relationship to my music, which was mostly:

"Neil, make that hard rock lower!  It’s driving me crazy"  (and we’re talking about Hall and Oates here).

For my parents, listening to popular music stopped when they got married and had jobs.  They became too busy with real life to keep up with the latest movies, songs, and TV shows.  Even today, my mother is always one year behind with popular culture:

Me:  "I’ll call you later, Mom.  I’m watching "The Office."

Mom:  "Whose office?"

I don’t do this to make fun of old-fashioned parents.  I do this to make fun of us, a generation that feels the need to keep current. 

It is impossible to keep up with all of the latest stuff.  It used to be that you had to only keep track of the latest celebrities and movie stars.  Now you have to remember "reality stars."  You have to know "blogs."  People even know the names of "adult stars" now!  Soon, we’ll feel embarrassed if we don’t know the names of "podcasters."

I have to admit that I sometimes read "celebrity" blogs and have no idea who they are talking about.  For the life of me, I don’t understand why anyone is interested in Nicole Richie.  Because of that one stupid TV show with Paris Hilton?  If you asked me, I could not hum any of Ashlee Simpson’s songs to you.

I use to pride myself on seeing every single movie that was ever released.  I would sit in movie theaters for hours.  I used to anxiously wait for the TV Guide Fall Season issue to come out and bookmark what shows I would watch that season.  Now, I barely find time to watch "Lost."

Maybe this is the way things are supposed to be.  After all, does a teenager really want a Mom who listens to Franz Ferdinand on her own iPod?  What do you rebel against?  Does the teenager intentionally listen to Donny Osmond to annoy her — just like Alex Keaton in "Family Ties" became a Reagan supporter to rebel against his hippy parents?

I notice that radio stations have started to adjust to the aging population.  "Oldies" stations used to play music from the 50s and 60s.  Now they play music from the 80s and 90s.   Soon there will be nursing homes where the residents will be rocking to Led Zeppelin.    Or maybe future retirees will be downloading the latest music from iTunes, still hip to the latest music.    Maybe this is actually a good thing.   Someone 30 or 40 today seems a lot younger than someone 30 or 40 from the last generation. 

Even my mother is trying to be more current with movie stars now that Paul Newman doesn’t act much anymore.  She recently called me up and said she saw some movie on HBO with Jude Law.  Unfortunately, she read on Page 6 of the New York Post that he was a "real jerk" to his wife.

"So, do you like Jude Law?" I asked.

"He’s very handsome… but he’s no Paul Newman."



  1. MA

    Your mom’s right. I love old Paul Newman movies. What a hottie. But then I remember that he’s old enough to be my grandpa. But in the movies–wow!

  2. helen

    U can probably gauge a person’s age by the songs they listen to. You’re right. I’ve no farkin idea who is singing what nowadays. No offense, especially the rap thing…. all those gangster wannabes look alike.
    However, I do make it a point to watch MTV once in awhile so I know which song is top. Then armed with my newfound knowledge, I can act cool.

  3. Melissa

    I think Paul Newman is standard to which most male actors should be measured. For me he will always be Brick married to Maggie the cat, no matter how old he gets.

    And if it weren’t for my secretary I’d know eff all about popular music. I’m perfectly happy worshipping at the alter of Lenny Kravitz into perpetuity.

  4. JJ

    My girls started clueing me in to music when a) we all started using iTunes and b) they figured out I wasn’t going to lower the boom about rap lyircs – although I do try to subtly get the point across that those are ignorant, violent, mysoginists who should have their testicles removed.

    Of course, they also think I don’t know what “two trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside…” means.

    Shine on, Dude.

  5. Serena

    I feel like I’m on the cusp of two generations. My fellow peeps from the younger generation recently made it their mission to ensure I recognize the latest tunes and don’t get stuck thinking Bon Jovi is still the shit.

  6. Kelly

    You mean I kick-started a whole POST?? But I’m not 35, I’m 41, which is either better, or worse, depending on which tack you take regarding parents liking their kids’ music. And I don’t like ALL my kids’ music, either. No. Besides, you shouldn’t be too impressed. I have a terrible crush on Gabriel Byrne, and he’s like, 102 now.

  7. kristine

    dude. no WAY are oldies stations playing shit from the 90s just yet. c’mon now. don’t get carried away. it does nothing for your writing, neil. nothing at all.

  8. darlin nikki

    Local oldies station has been replaced with Bob FM, “Where we play…whatever” and they do. For the download generation. Some Simpson mixed with Creedence. The weirdest combo of music I’ve heard yet besides the local okie bar. But they reel me in sometimes with their Clash and Pretenders.

  9. erin

    I used to only listen to popular music…the latest bands etc. But then my husband started getting me into all this older stuff… I’m listening to Paul Simon, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin… music I knew existed but didn’t know how much it kicked ass! I’m an oldies girl I guess.

  10. tinapopo

    When I was growing up, my parents always listened to Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young), Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, etc. In high school, all those musicians were suddenly considered by my peers to be very cool, and I had nowhere to turn. It was a very trying time.

  11. Tanya

    I’m with your mom, Paul Newman is the hottest.

    I’d be the mom with the Alex P. Keaton type rebellion in the house, if I could stand being around children for more than 30 minutes.

  12. anne arkham

    I’m actually starting to work at NOT knowing who people are. Ashlee Simpson does not deserve room in my brain.

  13. Lizzie

    what is a podcaster? seriously.

  14. Pants

    Last Christmas Santa brought me an autographed copy of a Donny Osmond CD. Are you saying Donny Osmond isn’t cool?

  15. LisaBinDaCity

    I know just how you feel. I used to pride myself on seeing almost every movie out there. Now I’m lucky to see two a month. I hate not feeling as plugged in but life gets in the way I guess. Sigh.

  16. akaky

    I miss Sinatra

  17. Tatyana

    I can beat you all with my oldies repertoir: who’d know Patricia Kaas, Matia Bazaar, Aquarium and DDT here?

    May be only Sophia, and only tangenially.

    But Paul Newman…Paul Newman in the “Cat…” is FOREVER!

  18. Pearl

    This mom’s tastes in music are somewhat eclectic; this mom’s kids’ tastes in music are eclectic. My 10-year-old son likes Elvis, seems to like Neil Young and Phil Collins/Genesis. My 8 year old daughter is amazed when I know all the lyrics to songs she’s hearing…but these songs are remakes of songs that were already around in the 70’s and 80’s! And for my 5 year old? Well, anything goes…

    This family can: “get jiggy with it,” “get down with it”, “get down ON it”,”twist & shout”, and just boogie with decades-old or decades-young music.

    As for actors/actresses, the oldies are the goodies!

  19. ms. sizzle

    your mom is right. jude law is no paul newman, even to this 32 year old. 🙂

  20. Sandra

    I’m musically schizophrenic. I love solid, good, ’60s and ’70s rock, adore ’80s fluff, enjoy the angsty ’90s and have a lot of fun with stuff from this decade. Hip? I’d say no. A sponge for pop culture, good or bad? I’d say yes.

  21. Dawn


    My 16 year old doesn’t rebel.

    I just sent him to the grand opening of the Circut City here in Podunkville.

    All CD’s for $10

    I gave him $100 and a list

    New Franz Ferdinand
    New System of a Down
    Fall Out Boy–they rock & he hadn’t heard of them yet!
    New Robbie Williams
    New White Stripes
    New Foo Fighters
    New Gorillaz

    Perk—he doesn’t have to spend his money on music—just scarfs mine.

    We had a major bonding session when I introduced hime to the Dead Kennedy’s 2 years ago.

    He does hate it when I steal his jeans though.

    And I’m 44 years young.

    Keep making time for Lost— it’s so worth it.

  22. Megarita

    Paul Newman is the bar by which all other stars are measured. I sometimes forget how astonishingly hot he was and then something comes on TV and my jaw just hits the floor and I say, “Jude/Clive/Joaquim/Johnny Who?” I saw a great Actors Studio with Redford who talked about their pranks against each other, which continue to this day. Love those two…now I need to go watch Butch Cassidy again. The only movie I’ve ever watched on a plane when my seatmates all heard me laughing and turned to it themselves.

  23. Melissa

    Oh I think Joaquim has that slow burn that could stand the test of time if he doesn’t flip out and lose it. Jude Law is just cream of wheat… no thanks. And I will always love Clint Eastwood. This one is pretty cornball, but John Wayne…

  24. Bill

    I think the world went to hell when it started using the term “alternative” for anything that didn’t show up on Entertainment Tonight. And “indie” no longer describes how a film was made but a marketing strategy.

    No one could possibly keep up with everything so I don’t even try anymore. But! I’ve found you can be cool without actually being cool.

    Though you may not be familiar with the latest music, you can always sound like you’re “with it” by saying, “Yeah, I’m listening to Tom Waits on my iPod.” Tom Waits seems to still be a mainstay of cool. (And thanks to my father, I grew up hearing jazz – so I can always throw out a few of those names.)

    For movies, a reference to Kubrick is always good. And references to anime and Korean kicking movies, though it’s best to be vague (otherwise, you’ll have to actually watch them).

    And books are always good – you don’t even need to read a lot of them since no one reads anymore. Just memorize a few names and titles and murmur, “Marquez, Melville, Burrows …” Books are always intimidating.

    It’s pretty easy to do because, in a world where everyone just has to be cool and current, you quickly realize no one is and they’re just anxious about it as anyone else.

    One other things – don’t like ANYTHING that is popular. That is SO uncool.

  25. Bill

    I am the king of typos.

  26. Denise

    I think I’m trying to relive my teens (what a horrific thought!) because, last night at Starbucks, I actually said “As if!” last night while talking to the waitress. And I wasn’t being ironic. Someone please help me!

  27. La Dauphine

    I agree that Paul Newman should be the standard. Those sharp blue eyes and pouty lips. Yum, yum!

  28. Jacynth

    My grandparents just bought a 42 inch plasma TV so they can watch Lost, CSI, and My Name is Earl. They just saw “In her Shoes”. I want to be that way when I grow up–mixed in with the young folks so we’ll have something to talk about. 🙂

  29. Megan

    I can’t concentrate now; I’m still drooling over Paul Newman’s picture.

  30. Laura

    Mmm. Don’t think I’ve ever heard Franz Ferdinand…I’m out of the loop, too. And I do not understand the entertainment icons, either..Paris Hilton is doing nothing more than wasting O2, I don’t care how much either Nicole Richie or Lindsey Lohan weigh, and I’m sure Ben Afleck and Jennifer What’s-Her-Name will be idyllic parents. Riiight.
    I’ll bet they know who Franz Ferdinand is. ;P~

  31. Brooke

    When I was little, my brother took me to see Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. Robert Redford was all the rage then and my mom bet my brother that I would come home with my first big crush. When I came home my mom asked me, “Sooooo, what did you think of Robert Redford?”

    “He’s ok,” I said, “but that Paul Newman! WOW!”

  32. Tatyana

    Ladies, I think it’s time to form “Crush on Paul [Newman]” Society.

    My undying admiration for the man stretched as far as buying his salad dressing; absolutely foul. But hey, that label was worth it!

  33. Jill

    Yes, I have to agree. Paul Newman is the hottest thing ever to be filmed. For Christmas last year, my mom wanted us to start a collection of her favorite “old” movies, so of course, I just bought all the Newmans.

  34. Jack

    Cool Hand Luke- ’nuff said.

  35. bella

    Come on, you can’t even beat Harrison Ford or Sean Connery…. (drool slipping down my chin… )

  36. Helena

    I ten-millionth the motion that Paul Newman is the hottest ever. Long Hot Summer? Could Orlando freaking Bloom pull off Ben Quick? I don’t think so.

    Also, I don’t know what the “two trailer park girls” lyric means. And I’m young enough that I should.


  37. Dawn

    Oh Bella—

    Sean Connery——–sex on legs!

  38. mcaryeh

    If it makes you feel any better, Neil, Ashlee Simpson can’t hum any of her songs either…

  39. psychotoddler

    First of all, I’m 39, and I LOVE Franz Ferdinand. But that’s because their music sounds almost exactly like the stuff I listened to when I was 17.

    2nd, I can tell you from personal experience that teenagers get VERY FREAKED OUT when their parents show signs of being “hip”, such as liking the same bands.

    My daughter has an internet radio show (, thursdays at 7pm EDT) (little plug there for my girl) and I called in requesting the Von Bondies, which we both like, and she accused me of trying to make fun of her! ON the air! It’s like, great dad, you like my music. Now I have to find something ELSE to like.

  40. Tatyana

    Psychotoddler, my then 15 yr has introduced me to Coldplay and System of a Down, to mutual enjoyment. His goodwill had limits, however: he absolutely refused to buy their T-shirt for me when going to a concert: Could you picture us wearing SAME shirt? You wonna kill me?

  41. psychotoddler

    Yeah, my daughter’s into Coldplay. I find them boring and derivative. On the other hand, she likes old stuff like the Cure and Morrisey. Who can predict these kids?

    My wife called into her radio show requesting Kryptonite, and she flat out refused to play it. Then went on to spout some derogatory comments about the band and people who like that kind of song.

    Sheesh. I don’t know where she gets it from.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial