Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Back In MY Day

Lately I've been trying to catch up to some of the advancements made to Adobe Photoshop in the last few years. Since I originally learned the program 16 years ago, every new cool feature and ability I unearth has made me think, "Back in MY day, we used to have to do this the hard way." What used to take hours of planning and know-how now takes just a few seconds and a button-click or two.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that things are improving with the years. But not everything gets better as it gets easier.

Music, for one, has not improved at all. Drummers don't have to play in time, because we fix it in the computer. Singers don't have to be in tune anymore. Nope, we've got a ProTools plug-in called AutoTune. You can sing off-key and still make a perfect record. And don't even get me started about the songs themselves. Samples, loops, hip-hop and rap, and American-Idol-style vocal aerobics have all but decimated modern music. Once again, I find myself thinking, "Back in MY day..." Great songs were written and performed by real musicians. (AND it didn't matter how ugly they were!)

I'm not saying this just to complain about the state of things. It's just that the "back in MY day" attitude has really got me feeling pretty old. I mean, you MUST be old if you're saying, "Back in my day," right? By the mere utterance of the statement, you imply that you HAD a day, and this isn't it. YOUR day is past history. You're what they call today "old school."

A couple years ago, I thought I'd take a trip to Cheyenne's local skateboard park. I was never any slouch in the snake runs and half-pipes, and thought it would be cool to revisit some of that. I grabbed my beloved custom-built board from when I was 19 and headed out. I skated for a few minutes, and drew a few onlookers. Coming off the half-pipe, a teen skater said, "Dude, that's a cool board." I was in good spirits, feeling like I still fit in with this crowd. That is, until his statement was followed up by, "Yeah, my friend's dad has a huge board like that too! Yours and his are the only ones I've ever seen!"

Uh, yeah.

It just hardly seems fair. I still feel inside like I'm right out of high school. And I'm even better in almost every way than I was then. I'm healthier than I was when I was 21 (of course, that's mostly because that was the era when I smoked dope six to eight times a day). And I'm smarter, more talented, and WAY easier to get along with.

But the nagging thoughts remain. Since I don't imagine I'll have much quality of life past the age of 78.1 (average american male life expectancy), I've likely already passed the midpoint of my earthly existence.

In fourteen months, I'll hit my 40th birthday. And frankly, I don't imagine I'm gonna feel much like celebrating. Maybe on that day, I'll drive over to the skateboard park and sit in the parking lot, watch the teens skate and listen to Simon & Garfunkel sing some quality music from back in my day.