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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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Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 describes . . . the horror . . . the horror

As if we weren’t frightened enough already by what’s happening south of the border, Michael Moore just added the finishing touches with his current documentary Fahrenheit 11/9 which is now showing in movie theatres. (Coincidently, I’m also currently reading FEAR by Bob Woodward.) Call me a masochist but watching the fall of the United States of America is fascinating and tragically sad at the same time. We knew when we went to see Fahrenheit 11/9, written, produced and directed by Moore, that it would be an unsettling experience and our worst fears were realized.

The breakdown of American society and the corruption of their democratic system are sad to witness. Most of the movie’s content is predictable—how on earth did someone like Donald Trump ever get elected and what does the future hold? Moore spares no one in his condemnation of politicians. Both the Republican and Democrat parties are rotten within, to the extent that Democratic party big-wigs cheated Bernie Saunders out of winning certain states by falsifying the voting results to put third-place Hillary in the lead.

Understandably, a great of time is devoted to the tragedy of the water system in Flint, Michigan, Moore’s home town. It’s a metaphor for greater social problems. Citizens are being exposed to permanent, irreversible health problems as a result of drinking polluted water with a high lead content, something that was totally preventable, fixable and still remains unfixed. Even President Obama was complicit. When he visited Flint, a largely black community, the locals thought that finally they would get their water source rerouted from the Flint River to its original safe source, Lake Huron. They were expecting acknowledgement of their problem, help from FEMA and a return to clean water. Obama even pretended to drink the water, smiled, shook hands with the locals, flew off in Airforce 1—and nothing changed. That lack of action and casting aside of their concerns left the people of Flint feeling defeated. As a result, they realize their legitimate concerns fell on deaf ears and their votes are meaningless.

Undervalued teachers in the United States make less than half what Canadian teachers make. Many live below the poverty line. They had to break with their union and strike for health insurance.

The explanation of the teachers’ strike in various states starting with West Virginia was particularly enlightening. Teachers’ wages are below the poverty level in many American states (very different from Canada) and when they were on strike the teachers still had food drives and delivered meals to children at home who receive their breakfast and lunch every day through the schools. Otherwise, those children would go hungry. In order for teachers to receive any kind of health insurance, they were required by contract to wear FitBits to confirm they were getting in 10,000 steps a day. This punitive decree was signed into law through the collaboration of a weak union and a fat, old, white-guy governor who probably has never walked 10,000 steps in his life.

Fahrenheit 11/9 is a followup to Moore’s earlier Fahrenheit 9/11 and a riff on November 9th, the day Trump was elected. Moore equates that day with a disaster for America right up there with 9/11. He takes a lot of criticism for his extremism and sensationalism but we need people to draw attention to what’s going on. It’s a disturbing movie but an absolute must-see. No one benefits when everyone looks away and assumes good will prevail. Just ask any German who lived through the 1930s and 1940s.

On the bright side, the surge of indignation and anger over the state of democracy in the United States has prompted many formerly passive, intelligent side liners—a great many of them women—to become involved in the nasty business of politics in an effort to get things back on track. It worked in Iceland where the women took over and got the country sorted out. Hopefully they can put an end to this horror show before it’s too late and the apocalypse occurs.

We caught a matinée and it was reassuring to see so many single boomers in the theatre. The subject matter obviously resonates and they took the time to go see and support Michael Moore’s documentary. I hope you do too.

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Have Baby Boomers gone to ground?

Driving at night is no longer as simple as it used to be.

There was a time when I simply couldn’t understand why my parents’ generation didn’t like to drive after dark, or why they preferred to stay home and sleep in their own beds. Look at all they were missing—nights on the town, travel and weekends away with friends. Then, I totally got the driving after dark thing a few years ago when I found my eyesight was just not as sharp as it used to be when I went out at night. The solution was to plan our nights out carefully so we didn’t have to drive too far, if at all. That was the first step on a slippery slope.

I’m now developing a greater appreciation for sleeping in my own bed. Much as we love traveling, nothing’s sweeter than crawling into our own bed when we get home. We just returned from a few days visiting Washington, D.C. for some sightseeing and our room at the Hyatt Regency couldn’t have been better. They’d spent the last four years renovating the hotel and everything was perfection. The elevators in the lobby atrium were glass so we could experience our ascent and descent; the furniture and decor was all fresh and new; the bathroom was large and well-appointed and the floor was slightly heated which felt wonderful on our sore feet after a day of walking miles. The sheets were smooth and delicious to slide into at the end of the day. The pillows felt like down and there were four of them. Even the television was huge, just like at home which pleased my honey enormously. Despite these comforts, it was so good to get home.

Air travel comes with its own special set of horrors which make overseas travel particularly gruesome. If one of the unions hasn’t declared a last minute work-to-rule or full-on strike, then weather delays keep us stewing in the airport holding area for hours on end. If we do manage to get on our flight at the scheduled time and we can’t afford to fly business class with the elite, then we’re jammed into teeny tiny seats with our knees touching our chins while munching dry ham and cheese “snacks”. Who among us hasn’t been trapped on a full plane upon arrival awaiting jetway clearance or waiting for the lightning to stop before we can disembark.

There’s no place like home.

Americans are known and (rightly) mocked for insisting on American food (burgers and fries) when traveling in Europe, but I always take a zip-lock baggie of my own Canadian brand of Red Rose tea when we travel, so who am I to judge. We like things that are familiar and this trait only becomes more entrenched as we get older. That’s not to say we don’t like some adventure and travel, but we’re starting to feel the impact of being away from our home comforts. This insight has made me much more understanding of my parents’ preference for staying home and not visiting me in their later years.

Even staying overnight with close friends can be fraught with challenges. There’s a hilarious sketch on Baroness von Sketch on CBC that pokes fun at the numerous rules imposed by cottage owners on their weekend guests. “Don’t flush. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. No shampoo allowed; it causes algae. Keep the door shut to keep the blackflies out.” And the list goes on. Just makes you want to be in your own home, in your own bed, with your own bathroom on familiar ground. We all try to make our visiting guests feel at home when they come to stay and go out of our way to provide hotel-like amenities but we know from experience that there’s no place like home. And the older we get, the sweeter it is.

Click here to view “The Cottage” by Baroness von Sketch on YouTube.

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