How Old is Old?

April 15th, 2010
R we there yet?
R we there yet?

It’s not 72. How do I know? Because Jane Fonda was on Larry King last week, and she didn’t look old, or sound old, or talk like an old person, plus she’s working—writing a book. So, she’s not old.

Consider: 75 year old Richard D. Zanuck, in last Sunday’s L.A. Times, said, in response to an overture about a retrospective of his career: “Are you out of your mind? I’m still in the heart of my career.”

So maybe 75 isn’t old?

That’s great, because, by comparison, relatively speaking, of course, but still, we 55 year olds are…well…youthful! Who knew?

And he’s only 53 years young!

February 13th, 2010
Matt Lauer
Matt Lauer

This really annoys me: when Matt Lauer, on Good Morning America, says things like, “…and she’s 81 years YOUNG!”

Eighty-one isn’t “young;” this is just an example of how uncomfortable everybody is with “old.”

Redefining Old

January 31st, 2010
L.A. Times’ Mary McNamara says “grown ups are in the ascendancy, on TV, in movies, and in real life.” (Jan. 30, 2010:Calendar)
L.A. Times’ Mary McNamara says “grown ups are in the ascendancy, on TV, in movies, and in real life.” (Jan. 30, 2010:Calendar)

Redefining the idea of ‘old’ by L.A. Times TV critic Mary McNamara is a long piece that points out that old people are all over TV these days: Jay Leno, 59 vs. Conan’s 46, and Letterman’s “Sex scandal! At 62!” She notes that the characters in the shows have gotten older, too. Same at the box office: Meryl Streep’s burning up the screen at 60. “Sixty is the new thirty.” Etc. etc. It’s a good piece. Read it here,0,1622426.story

Wow, That’s Really Old!!!

January 25th, 2010
...sloppy journalism
...sloppy journalism

I mean, “Wow, that’s really cheesy reporting!!!”

Joe Biden’s mom died a few weeks ago, and her passing was news. All the network TV anchors and local newscasters covered the story like this: “Vice President Joe Biden’s mother, Jean Biden, passed away today. Ms. Biden was NINETY-TWO!! years old.

Subtle ageism.

Like, WOW, she was really old. Compared to what? Dying at 72? Or 82? And what exactly is the point of putting SO MUCH EMPHASIS on the age?

Notice this next time you watch a newscaster mention someone really old.


January 18th, 2010
Patti Smith:Carolyn Cole:Los Angeles Times
Patti Smith:Carolyn Cole:Los Angeles Times

Patti Smith interview in Sunday’s L.A. Times Calendar section. Her book is out: “Just Kids.” About her life with Robert Mapplethorpe, and NYC’s pop culture scene in the late 60s and 70s.

She’s 63. And she sounds like she always has: wry, thoughtful, and sensitive. Her future? Writing, making records: “I’ve got a million ideas.”

She’s just two years from 65–Official Retirement Age! But isn’t it absurd to think that she’d just stop doing what she’s been doing her whole life, and go on permanent vacation?

Who came up with that concept, anyway —the one where you leave your job, your family and friends, your community—your whole frickin life, and move to AZ to play golf and take up painting, with like-minded people, 65 or older? Meet you in the rec room at seven!!

Maybe, back in the 50s, a savvy housing developer saw all those rust belt union men, with good pensions and health insurance, being “retired” at 65, and who, after having worked as mind numbing human machines for 40 years, were looking for payback: all fun and all sun all the time. A Permanent Vacation. Forget winters in Akron and Detroit, and voila! Sun City is born. Honey, pack the car!

But that mold is not the Baby Boomer mold.

We didn’t labor in a factory next to a 2,000-degree vat of boiling ore. We left home at 18 to go to college, maybe a trip to Europe, moved again for the job we wanted etc. We are the rootless, upwardly mobile, divorce generation. Why would we want to leave our life here—our little island of stability in a chaotic world, and go move somewhere else, for a permanent vacation?

I just don’t get it. Decreeing “65” as retirement time –ready or not, here it comes—and then leaving life as you’ve known it to go set up shop somewhere new, just because?

Exactly, what are the benefits? Maybe in the future this will make sense, and be just what I want. But for now, like I said, I just don’t get it.

How Old is Old?

December 31st, 2009

Remember when “W” declared himself the decider? For the invasion of Iraq, anyway.

Apropos of that, who decides how old “old” is? Is there some kind of societal consensus? Do we all just “kind of know?” Or what?

There was a time when I thought 30 was old, and then I thought 50 was old, and than I thought 60 was old. But Bruce Springsteen and Meryl Streep are 60 and they aren’t old.

How am I supposed to know when I’m officially “old?”

Yoko Ono is cool, but she’s not a boomer…

October 1st, 2009
Yoko Ono from
Yoko Ono from

…and neither is the man she married: had John Lennon lived, he’d be 69 years old next week.

John and Yoko are “Honorary Boomers:” he because of his outsized influence on the boomer generation as a whole, and Yoko because she married John, and also because she is never not cool.

So why am I writing about Yoko? ‘Cause she’s inspirational! At 76, a full 13 years older than the oldest boomer, she’s still a hipster, a PIB Manhattanite, svelte, chic, full of style. There she is, out and about, maybe lunching with Sean, in all the right places. She’s still an artiste provocateur, continuing to create art for arts sake. Always working.

Yoko is a role model; proof you can be cool and creative and relevant at an age which didn’t seem possible in previous generations. She gets oldER, but she doesn’t get “Old.”

By comparison, 50 and 60 seem really young.

Just Maybe

September 12th, 2009
Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep

Major, front-page story in Sat. L.A. Times about Meryl Streep, bigger than ever at 60. Apparently, being “successful” at 60 is so newsworthy, so out of the ordinary, that it warrants almost a whole page of copy and five photos in a big-time U.S. newspaper.

OK, let’s assume being a female movie star at 60 IS out of the ordinary, and newsworthy. What does that say about our state of affairs? Is she a freak, defying all odds, or is she a harbinger for our whole Baby Boom generation? If Meryl Streep can be at the top of HER game at 60, well, then so can I. And so can you.

Why not? At 60 you have all your faculties, you have experience, you know how the game is played and you know the players. You have confidence, experience and perspective. You know how to spell. In other words, you have what it takes.

If 60 IS the new 40 than being “successful” at that age won’t be front-page news, after all. Sixty will be just another number. Life as it really is.

Just maybe.