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My Generation changed history, forever

For ninety glorious minutes one afternoon last week I was twenty years old again. I immersed myself in every delicious minute of (Sir) Michael Caine’s documentary My Generation playing at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Bloor Street West near Bathurst in Toronto. The film is a macro view of life in swingin’ London in the 1960s, the historical genesis and touchstone for baby boomers.

The film particularly resonated with me personally because I was in London in September 1967 while traveling around Europe for five months. I had just turned twenty. Watching all those old films of baby boomers in their sixties’ gear walking down Carnaby Street put me right back there on those warm, sunny September days fifty-one years ago, when all the store windows featured reproduction Twiggy mannequins with starry eyes, an androgynous haircut and that famous wonderful face. Ironically, many of the boomer cultural icons like Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and certainly Michael Caine weren’t even baby boomers. They were born in the early 1940s but we’re prepared to overlook that in the name of revolution.

Narrating My Generation, Michael Caine used many clips from his “Alfie” days to take us on the magical mystery tour of our past. Voice-overs by Paul McCartney, Marianne Faithful, Mick Jagger, Roger Daltry, David Bailey, Twiggy, Penelope Tree, Mary Quant, David Hockney and many other sixties icons brought context to the flashes of still and moving film on the screen. Strangely, they didn’t show current pictures of them which would probably have made a lot of us feel a whole lot better about how we’ve aged. I remember having a giant black and white poster of Michael Caine as Harry Palmer on the wall beside my bed at Willard Hall in 1966-67. At 6’2″, blonde and gorgeous, in my eyes he was perfection.

The sixties launched a fashion and cultural revolution.

Michael Caine is the personification of what the sixties movement meant in the social context of 1960s England, saying “For the first time the future was shaped by young people.” After the deprivations and repression of the war and its followup years, the boomer generation, for the first time in history, shaped history. The rigid British class system was attacked and dismantled by young, creative working class talent. Never before had cockneys like Caine, Twiggy, and David Bailey or working class lads like The Beatles and Rolling Stones been able to rise above their station and achieve notoriety for their talent, pushing aside The Establishment.

When I was in England in 1967, like everyone else at that time, I listened faithfully to pirate Radio Caroline. It offered all the latest in-demand pop music, the polar opposite of BBC fare and they broadcast from an unregistered ship that moved around about three miles off the coast of England. If you haven’t already seen the movie “Pirate Radio” be sure to check it out on Netflix or another streaming source. Amazing! The soundtrack alone is mind-blowing.

The audience was obviously full of boomers and as we were sitting in the dark watching, I could hear laughs and assorted other vocal reactions to the scenes unfolding on the screen. So much recognition of our past. It was totally indulgent. The only problem was it moved too quickly and ended too soon. I could have sat there for at least another half hour as there was so much more that happened way back then that wasn’t covered. The pace was rather frenetic toward the end of the film. But it was still a glorious trip down memory lane. Because it’s a documentary with a limited audience it may be hard to find in local theatres but you can get it on iTunes. It’s a boomer must-see. Gen X’ers, Ys and millennials have a lot to thank us for.

Click here for The Who’s My Generation

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Ottessa Moshfegh investigates a Year of Rest and Relaxation

Is life as art a wasted life? That’s what author Ottessa Moshfegh aims to find out. The cover of her new novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation could lead readers to think it’s an Edith Wharton kind of period piece about fainting ladies. Well, fasten your seat belts because it couldn’t be more different. I really enjoyed Moshfegh’s earlier novel Eileen and knew she had a quirky style but I was unprepared for what she conjured up this time.

The narrator of the story is a desensitized twenty-something woman whose parents have both passed away and she is left to contemplate life alone and unloved in New York City in 2001. Her late father was a college professor who got one of his beautiful young students (her mother) pregnant and married her. It was a loveless union and neither parent loved their sole offspring. After she graduates college she goes to work at an art gallery in New York City. When she’s found asleep on the job she’s fired. Many of us have experienced job loss and used the opportunity to reevaluate our lives but not with the vigor and level of masochism displayed here. She sets off on a journey of introspection and decides to go into hibernation for the purpose of restoring and rediscovering herself.

She has only one friend, Reva, whom she really doesn’t like, and an uncaring and distant ex-boyfriend she insists on keeping in touch with. Like me, the protagonist is a huge fan of sleeping. There’s nothing she would rather be doing. Unlike me, who does it purely for pleasure and to recharge my batteries, she uses sleep to escape herself and her loveless life.

Is there a safe pathway to oblivion?

Her solution to life’s problems is to check out for a year, to “start over without regrets, bolstered by the bliss and serenity that I would have accumulated in my year of rest and relaxation”. She makes meticulous plans for a year-long hibernation in her apartment facilitated by massive quantities of pharmaceuticals. She sources an unethical and somewhat unorthodox psychiatrist in the Yellow Pages by the name of Dr. Tuttle who has a chemical solution for every condition. The more conditions, the more “help” is prescribed. Using her inheritance money to bankroll the project, she experiments with various pharmaceutical cocktails until she lands on the ideal one to knock her out for days at a time. This is where life becomes art. She contracts a fraudulent performance artist to document her “trip”.

The story is bizzarre and gripping at the same time. On no level can I connect with a young woman who opts for enormous quantities of questionable, powerful drugs to ease her pain. But I couldn’t put the book down. Will she self-destruct? Will she survive? Will she thrive at the end of it all? The day-to-day summary of her year-long mundane existence should be boring but it’s not. Ottessa Moshfegh has an incredible imagination and a sharp eye for description. I can’t imagine how she comes up with this material. I only hope she researched and didn’t personally experience the vast inventory of pharmaceuticals she describes in great detail in the book. My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a very unusual story, a brave experiment and I applaud the author for her courage. It was strange, outside my comfort zone and fascinating. It was also a New York Times best seller. I won’t even rate it. I’ll leave that for you to decide. Let me know what you think.

To order My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh from Amazon, click here.

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Raising eyebrows . . . literally, one microblade at a time

I did it! Several months ago I mentioned that I was considering getting my eyebrows microbladed and if I did I’d let you know how it went. Well—the deed has been done and I’m absolutely thrilled with the results.

We went a bit crazy with the tweezers in decades past.

Like most baby boomer women, I plucked my eyebrows into extinction during the 70s when thin, arched brows were the fashion. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. They never grew back. If only the hair removal on my other body parts (chin, legs, bikini area etc.) had been as effective I’d have been spared years of maintenance.

The procedure requires three appointments:

  1. Consultation: Before undergoing microblading, I had a mandatory free consultation with the technician to ensure I was a safe candidate, i.e. not pregnant, no auto-immune issues, not a diabetic, etc. During the consultation, the technician measured the optimal shape of my new brows and with a conventional eyebrow pencil drew in what they would look like. This took about 15 minutes.
  2. Procedure: A few days later I went in for the main procedure. Over a period of slightly more than two hours, the technician:
    1. Detailed mapping and measuring ensures the right shape.

      Measures and maps the final brow design using plastic templates and guides. She carefully angled and marked the outline, the borders, extremities and overall shape. Then, she applied a numbing cream which she left on for about 25 minutes to activate before starting the procedure. And, I signed pages of legal waivers.

    2. Together we selected the pigment colour. I was reminded that the colour would initially look much darker than the final outcome. I selected milk chocolate, not too ashy and with a bit of warmth. I’m naturally fair with blue eyes so I didn’t want anything too harsh. I also insisted she not make the arch too sharp and I didn’t want the inner corners squared like I’ve seen some brows done. I wanted them to look completely natural but better than what Mother Nature endowed me with.
    3. It was surprisingly painless.

      For the actual microblading procedure, the technician uses a blade to etch and deposit pigment into the brow area. It was painless, which really surprised me. She first plucked a few stray natural hairs and that was the only part that was slightly uncomfortable. I do have a high pain threshold so others might might experience a bit of discomfort, but I found it painless. Microblading is not exactly the same as tattooing. Pigment cream is deposited into tiny hair-shaped cuts in the brow area which results in a far more natural look than tattoo ink. There are many variations in colour and shape you can choose from depending on whether you want a natural or more dramatic look.

      Here’s my before and after, sans makeup. Cool, eh!

      The technician was incredibly precise and patient as she carried out the procedure. About 90 minutes later she showed me the first glimpse of my completed brows and I was thrilled. My followup instructions involved applying a special white ointment to the brows with a Q-Tip several times a day to preserve and protect the new brows. I was advised not to get them wet for a couple of weeks. They will appear flaky and crusty at first, but I am not to pick or brush the brows. Just let them heal. I experienced no swelling, just a tiny itch after a day or two which is natural, and I didn’t scratch.

  3. Followup and touch-up: I’m scheduled to go back six weeks after the procedure for a final touch-up and assessment. I don’t anticipate any problems, but I’ll let you know what happens after the appointment. It’s still a fairly new technique so I expect I may need touch-ups once a year or so which is an easy path to perfect eyebrows. And it’s so lovely to wake up in the morning with eyebrows.

If you decide to go ahead with the procedure be very careful to only use an experienced licensed technician. You don’t want to risk infection or poor artistry. She’ll be happy to show you pictures of her previous work to help make your decision.

I had the work done by Katey Kristabelle at Caryl Baker Visage salon in Sherway Gardens Mall (Tel: 416-622-6667) located at 25 The West Mall, Highway 427 and Queen Elizabeth Way in Toronto’s west end. They did an amazing job and if you decide to have Caryl Baker Visage bring your brows back to life, they’re generously offering a special promotion for readers and followers of BOOMERBROADCAST. 

Mention my name (Lynda Davis) at Caryl Baker Visage in Sherway Gardens and say you were referred by BOOMERBROADCAST (you can show this blog posting on your phone) and they’ll give you a discount on microblading services. Valid at the Sherway Gardens salon only. And don’t forget to send me pictures of the new you.

You’re beautiful mes très chères.

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Murphy Brown puts baby boomers back in prime time

She’s baaaack!

It’s been a long time since we watched Murphy Brown who personified what so many working boomer women aspired to be. We loved and admired her intelligence, her tenacity and her integrity. We all wished we had her wardrobe and empathized when she couldn’t get a date. She made sure people listened to what she had to say and helped raise awareness of what women were trying to say that was being ignored.

The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle nailed what the new and improved version of Murphy Brown will deliver: “Men don’t get it. Women experience the reality of the workplace, social life and social media differently from men.” Think of the travesty of the Judge Clarence Thomas hearings twenty years ago. Old, white, male senators asked Anita Hill horribly sexist, inappropriate questions that would never be asked of a man. She responded with dignity but in today’s #metoo world, I’d like to think they’d be boo’d, hissed and voted out of their comfy seats for their insensitivity and stupidity. Sadly, much of that attitude still lingers.

And most of the original cast is back too.

Back to Murphy Brown. For purely selfish reasons, I’m thrilled to see baby boomers getting some air time once again. And Candice Bergen represents us so well. More than two decades after her heyday on FYI, Murphy Brown still looks great but she’s no longer young. Unlike all the toned, blonde, surgically enhanced Barbies in sleeveless sheath dresses on most television news shows today, she’s rounder and more seasoned-looking. We won’t be seeing any of those cute little suits with cinched belts and short skirts she wore so well in FYI’s earlier incarnation and we’re more than fine with that. Boomer gals can certainly relate to the effects of time on waistlines and necks. And I must say, that iconic orange sofa seems to have weathered well. The brief scene where she produces her flip-phone may have appeared condescending but I totally related and burst out laughing—I’ve never been able to figure out my new jet-propelled palm-sized computer phone thingie and would love to have my old flip-phone back again.

Amen sister.

The first show put the old characters into 2018 context and set the stage for more good material to come. It was great fun to see Hillary Clinton make a cameo appearance interviewing for the job as Murphy’s “secretary”. I always enjoyed that peculiar cast of rotating characters in the original series. Trump voters won’t be tuning in and we’ll no doubt be seeing nasty tweets from the White House. Let’s hope so. Political commentary and freedom of the press are still a major part of the foundation of the American way of life and let’s hope it continues. The writing is still sharp on the new Murphy Brown. The show certainly got my r-e-s-p-e-c-t and I look forward to many more episodes. Tune in on Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m. It’s not that late; you can still go to bed at your regular time.

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