Archive | Age Matters

The Ad Jingle of a Generation: ‘Trainspotting’

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 8.18.57 AMIt begins with the throbbing drums of Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” and a handful of strung-out, wild-eyed lads racing down a city street. Then Ewan McGregor – white-faced, teeth bared – hurls his emaciated frame in front of a cop car and begins a voiceover that sounds like a commercial for Satan himself: “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fuckin’ big television ….” He keeps going, ire building – “Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future.” A montage of these boys shooting junk flies before us in a fugue of ecstasy. “Choose life … But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin’ else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin.”

Those are the first minutes of “Trainspotting,” Danny Boyle’s ear-splitting, cornea-burning 1996 adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s eponymous 1993 Scottish novel and, with all respect to Quentin Tarantino, it was the best film prologue we 1990s kids had ever seen. If Tom Cruise had Renee Zellweger “at hello” in that decade’s “Jerry Maguire,” Ewan McGregor had the rest of us with his deeply ironic “Choose life.” It spoke volumes – zines, really – about the high-octane aimlessness of a generation that was post-punk, post-hippie, post-Nixon, post-Reagan, post-Thatcher, pre-Internet, and very, very pre-AIDS cocktail. The prologue – the whole film – spoke for all of us who’d just graduated school to enter a world where there were no jobs and sex equaled death. That 1980s pop anthem no longer applied: The future was not bright. We did not need shades. Continue Reading →

‘Slaves of New York,’ Now and Forever

slaves of new yorkMention breakout 1980s novelists, and the names Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney inevitably top the list. But back in the day, Tama Janowitz was easily as big a deal as either of those boys. Witty where they were edgy, she set her comedies of errors among the rubble of Alphabet City and the rarified air of Upper East Side townhouses, and she lampooned the rites and rituals of the creative class with a rouge-tipped mischief that recalled the love child of Edith Wharton and Dorothy Parker – if either had been the type to wear Godzilla earrings. Continue Reading →

The Farewell Symphony, Across Space and Time

As Joshua’s words come echoing across the water and down the years to me, I can’t help thinking that his life was not just his finest thoughts about poetry and friendship, expressed in a style that rejected forcefulness in favor of sympathy, but it was also comprised of his long mornings in his dressing gown with his telephone, newspapers, the Hu Kwa smoked tea and the little sterling-silver strainer that sat in its drip cup when it wasn’t straddled across a cup catching leaves. His life was made up of his pleasure in the morning glories as well as his hilarity ….After [his death] I looked through all the letters I’d ever received from Joshua and I realized I’d been unworthy of him then, that he’d been sending them through time to me as I would become years later. –Edmund White, The Farewell Symphony Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy