Who are you?

It’s crazy.  DJ AM was found dead in his New York apartment due to an apparent drug overdose.  What’s even crazier, I have absolutely no idea who this guy is.  Or was.  What does that say about me?  I’m 44, a former multi-platinum record producer and I’ve never heard of this guy in my life.  Obviously he was a dj.  So?  High profile romances with Nicole Richie and Mandy Moore.  I kinda know who they are but again, so?  Not even a musician, much less a talented one, and he’s dated Nicole Richie who’s famous for what?  Being friends with Paris Hilton?  The adopted daughter of Lionel Richie?

I’m not so clueless as to know there exists an entire dj culture I know nothing about.

I worked with Lionel Richie, hell of a nice guy.

And Mandy Moore.  Never heard of her.  Sold some ten million records and is an actress.  Honestly never heard of her either, couldn’t pick her out of a lineup.  What does this say about me?

My adolescent heroes are by and large, still names on peoples lips, or at least, still familiar to most people eighteen and over.  Journalists, musicians, actors and writers.  Cronkite, Brokaw and Olbermann.  Miles, Eddie, SRV….  Sean Penn, De Niro, John Goodman, Frances McDormand….  Poe, Steinbeck, Capote, Vonnegut….  I could fill pages.

What does it say about us?  About me?  My generation?  Do the people who know who DJ AM is know who the Vice President is and that he spoke at a very important memorial this evening?  Do they know the last scion of Camelot is dead?  Do they even care?

I understand that there’s always been a disconnect between the youth culture and the more sober reality of the adult world.  Often that cleavage has yielded important cultural upheaval.  If American society had just listened harder and paid more attention to our youth in the late sixties, events might have been significantly less disastrous.  The under under 35 demographic played a huge role in last year’s elections.

A force to be reckoned with.  Pure and not easily confused.

I have to admit, beyond my bewilderment, I don’t necessarily have a point.

Well, maybe I do, but it smacks of codgerliness in an embarrassing ‘kids these days’ sort of way.  I mean, these are pivotal times.  The fate of the country certainly hangs in the balance, as does every single individual who has DJ AM on his or her radar.  Is our children learning?

I read Rolling Stone these days because Matt Taibbi has piece inside, otherwise I have no idea who or what they’re talking about.  The new artists are a mystery to me.  Weird.

To be sure, part of the problem is the phenomena of unchecked media saturation.  I grew up with two and a half channels, the newspaper, a 7-11 a half a hour way on a skateboard and a library forty five minutes away on a bike.  No cable, no internet, no cell phones, no video games except Pong and nothing but time.  I responded to this brevity of stimuli, entertainment and information by constructing powerful homemade explosives, listening to records, reading everything I could get my hands on and learning to play the drums.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I had no interest in sports.  I played a little tennis, these days I like to watch boxing and a little basketball, maybe the Superbowl.

Far  more constructive than today’s youth, I’m sure.

I understand that raging, pulsating hormones and prodigious pressure to succeed  pollute common sense and sometimes erode sensibility entirely, but work with me kids.  Whoever DJ AM was, I’m confident he commands no amount of gravity that even approaches the fight for your future that rages in town halls and the corridors of power as you lament the passing of this cultural speck.

What I’m trying to tell you is we need you.  Pay attention.  You helped us elect a man who was by far the best choice.  Your work is not done.  Sorry, it’s just begun.  It is the price you pay for what you already have.  It is what you owe for it.  Sincere earnestness is required to improve it all.  You are the future.  Read and masturbate more.  Reverse that, spank it more often and then turn off the insidious and ubiquitous media and read something.

The engine of youth is quite capable of driving the course of human events in this country when it’s fuel is righteous.

Drinks for my friends.

7 Responses to “Who are you?”

  • Temy:

    I don’t think this says much about you. I think it says volumes about where our country is and is headed. Have you seen Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” pieces? I don’t think those are “isolated incidents” but about average. College level science teacher who don’t know how many planets in our solar system; people who don’t know whether the Civil War came before the Revolutionary War or not, or who won either; I think a lot of younger people voted for Obama just because A) they could, B) it seemed a cool thing to do at the time C) Damn! A black guy for prez! D) Osama bama who?

  • admin:

    I suspect you’re right.

  • Robert Charpentier:

    Good post. I had no clue who DJ AM was either and I share your general assessment of fame as it’s viewed over the arc of one’s life. When you’re a child, everyone who’s famous seems to be there for the same reason the stars are in the sky — god made the world that way. Brett Summer was on Match Game 77’s “celebrity panel” because she, presumably, had done something really awesome at some point. Most of us took that on faith.

    But as we got older, new “celebrities” crept into the mix and made us wonder how they qualified. Is this being curmudgeon or the inevitable outcome of a maturing perspective? I suspect the latter.

    The curse of studying existentialism — with a dash of astronomical history for scale — is that you will inevitably realize the pitifully ephemeral nature of the most profound of human achievements. In the grand scheme, nothing matters — particularly if you toss out the God scenario.

    So I recommend you not burn another calorie trying to grasp the rationale for DJ AM’s fame or whether he deserves it. In the iteration of existences within which his fans live, he IS famous. The good news is that it’s fairly contained and if you shut your senses to it, it doesn’t have to exist at all for you.

    Obviously this logic does not extend to the existence of birthers and tea-baggers or I would have ignored them out of existence months ago.

  • admin:

    “Obviously this logic does not extend to the existence of birthers and tea-baggers or I would have ignored them out of existence months ago.”

    Thanks for contributing.

  • David Lee 3:

    DJ who? Don’t sweat it, the guy played records fer chrissakes, not violin.

    It’s just another example of how society today is in love with the (& I’ve trademarked this phrase)”Celebration of the average.” Want proof? I give you Coldplay (yawn).

    Jive.

    No go put on a Stones record (vinyl please) & safely understand that you know what real greatness is.

    Cheers!

  • admin:

    Thanks buddy.

  • Misty:

    Coldplay = Sleep Apnea, just close your mouth a little when you sleep F head. The no brainer draws the greatest consensus, seriously running on empty so go invade Iraq, Afghanistan, and Poland. England suffered greatly from the assault, during WW II, Beatles that song “I get By with a little help from my friends”. Excellent feelings. I remind myself of a mixture of Harrison, Paul, and Lennon, and my nose is bigger than my teeth, so I sleep, breathing well enough.
    “What a Fcking drag it is getting Old.”

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