By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
Yeah, there've been songs written about us, magazine features, in-depth TV news-show episodes, movies, and endless discussions. Generation X? Ridiculous term. As if we were undefinable, a commodity, a statistic (although I guess we are), the number ten, part of a radiograph or a Christmas tree.
No. We're people. We're part kid-part adult even though chronologically we certainly are grown up. We're not the "They're Back! TEENS" that BusinessWeek heralds as the shakeup cultural "ins," rulers over the next 50 years. And no, we're not baby boomers (God forbid).
All this bullshit makes me so angry. Yeah, my life is wonderful. Truly, truly wonderful. But am I, my work, is anything going to make one blackberry seed of difference 100 years from now when the Earth is too black to grow berries? No, it won't. No, I won't. If I have kids, no, they won't.... But that doesn't mean I can't hope.
It's this hopelessness. The film Slackers displayed it visually, homeless veterans and shootings in schools show us physically, AIDS gives it to us biologically, Kurt Cobain rips out our hearts, and five states' worth of people are on Prozac, on a Nineties soma holiday. Hey, me too.
You know, Cobain didn't pretend to represent us or those to come. He wasn't the bloody Messiah, for chrissake. He was one of us, who morning after morning woke up trying to think of a reason to wake up. And, yeah, he was an addict, which didn't help.
But all of us are addicted to something: work, America Online, drugs, coffee, exercise, Star Trek, food. His music was his means of expression. Happened to be good rockin' music caught by every airwave between here and Vilnius (even though it and stuff just like it had been played in bars and basements for years on end). See, a couple of us became powers in the higher powers that control the record companies and got Nirvana and a bunch of others on the radio. Not just college radio or "alternative" (ha!) radio. I heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in a bar in home-of-the-cows-and-green-pastures Pennsylvania (a town no bigger than 300 people, I swear to you) where a bunch of old men with no teeth and some big-bellied women were munching on whiskey on a Tuesday afternoon. We're talking classic-rock stations. Massive radio saturation.
So he screamed into a microphone, wrote pretty cool tunes, and became a symbol. "Oh, this is so bad. We're so worried that a lot of kids (we're not really kids, remember) will follow the steps of their hero. Blah, blah, blah."
* First of all, it is not for us to judge him. He had a situation that we'll never understand because we are not him. He didn't kill himself to prove anything to anyone. He killed himself because he was in pain.
* Second of all, if these "kids" had been brought up to believe that they were important, useful, and worth something, then you wouldn't be so worried. Can-do attitudes are around, but dwindling.
* Third of all, even if we were brought up to believe in these things, we've finished college, we have our degrees full of pap and juice and learning, and here we sit. As secretaries. As burger bouncers. As accountants in dead-end positions with a company that doesn't even care enough about us to provide health insurance. Every day we work, or try to work, we receive subliminal messages: You're useless, you possess meaningless skills we can't use. Worst of all, your creativity is disposable.
Hey, I'm making it, but God, so many aren't. The frustration of working in McPositions for which we are way overqualified chews and gnaws on our innards. We're not contributing anything worthwhile, we're unable to provide more than the next month's rent, we're bumping around the table in a never-ending game of craps. We're not on welfare and we're not buying guns. Except maybe to shoot ourselves.
Some of us are whiners, blaming others for our problems, and victimization monsters ("I deserve to be such-and-such because I'm me and I've paid my dues...") rear their bloated heads. Dammit, though, we've inherited this mess. We have to figure out what to do with it, and we're just not equipped for the task. I'm not really blaming anyone for the problems, and I don't feel like a victim. I'm just angry that these problems exist. I get fed up with the hopelessness, the slovenliness. So did Kurt. No matter what we do, it's not going to matter. Because so much has to change.
So now it's back to the same old thing: Why. When I was at Killian High School, I wrote a one-act play (pretty modern, I must admit) that asked "who am I, what am I, where am I, why am I?" Young questions from an inquiring mind (I really wanted to know). Yeah, I know now who I am, what I am, where I am, and why I am. My friends know as well, 'cause they've had enough time to sit around thinking about it. What a lot of us want to know now is why are you? Why is this world? What is this world? And why the hell do you want us in it if you can't support us in what we're supposed to be here for?