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The Column: Times are changing, but we'll be all right

OK, boomer.

Do you know about this?

Friends, we are under siege. Listen up.

“OK boomer” does not refer to the old Jets quarterback and WFAN radio host Boomer Esiason, nor to an oil field roughneck, aka “boomer,” who has capped a well without accident or injury, nor a response to Luciano Pavarotti’s thunderous rendition of the “Nessun dorma” aria: Wow! OK, boomer!

No, the phrase is now uttered — sotto voce and aloud — by certain of the sub-30 crowd who view as clueless anyone who questions the wisdom of tongue studs and chartreuse hair or, even more to the point, has the audacity to continue in employment to which those 30, 40, or 50 years their junior feel entitled.

Recently, I even heard a mid-40s columnist for a great metropolitan newspaper lament on a podcast that boomer generation dinosaurs will not “get out of the way” and make room for up-and-comers with bigger and better ideas. Yes, I wondered, and with how much spring in her step will the columnist move aside in another decade or so when that brilliant twerp with the great credentials and knockout writing style is angling for the same franchise? We’ll see.

Oh, there’s more.

In New Zealand, Chlöe Swarbrick, a 25-year-old member of parliament, was making a pitch for climate awareness when an elder in the ranks said something contrary. Swarbrick neatly stuck an “OK, boomer” into her remarks, and with a casual wave of hand, dismissed her opponent. Naturally, the video went viral. Boomers took the rap, again.

How serious is the situation?

The OK boomer-angers have T-shirts, hoodies and their own national anthem, that’s how serious.

This is a kind of hip-hop effort by the duo of Jedwill and Peter Kuli involving endless reps of the “Ok boomer" title and, eventually, lyrics. The words will not be repeated here verbatim but the message is easily condensed: You are old, irrelevant, bigoted, bullheaded and phony. You don’t care about the future. Everything is your fault.

It’s like being the parent of a teenager again — always in the way, always wrong.

Mothers and fathers were the cruel and evil overlords imposing an intolerable sense of order: in by 11 p.m. unless permission otherwise granted; no alcohol or federally controlled substances; walk the dog (he’s a person, too); occasionally apply garden rake to bedroom debris so as to thwart the health authorities; allow the garage door to open entirely before attempting to locate the car; and, speaking of the car, how about leaving enough gas in the tank to at least get the thing started when Dad heads for work the next morning?    

Awright, awready.

Born in 1940, I am more ancient than the boomers — they began arriving six years later — but can understand the impatience of kids who consider themselves Gen Z.

For those in their 20s, the outlook can be scary. Finding a job that pays enough to get out on your own — not so easy. And the political scene looks completely cuckoo with the supposed grown-ups endlessly at one another’s throats.

Then there is the environment. Just like Chlöe Swarbrick said, intransigent oldsters are not going to be around when the worst happens. Do something or move aside, is the general idea. You can’t blame young people for feeling a little testy.

But, hey, can we take a breath here?

Generation Z has an anthem?

We had one, too.

The Z’s should maybe get Spotify to play Bob Dylan’s 1964 classic “The Times They are A-Changin’.”

“Don’t stand in the doorway,” Dylan croaked in that weird and unforgettable voice. “Don’t block up the hall. For he who gets hurt will be he who has stalled.”

Stall, we didn’t: Peace, civil rights, the women’s movement. Earth Day. Gay liberation. A clear sense that jokes that once sounded funny weren’t funny anymore — that America is everyone.

“There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’,” Dylan persisted. “It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls. For the times they are a-changin’.”

OK, we were a sight. Bell bottoms, tie-dyed shirts, acres of hair. Even I had enough to cover the collar. And there were mistakes, excesses, self-importance and rank stupidities.

But we have a history. The kids will, too. Even if they don’t trust us, let’s wish them the best.

Meanwhile, boomers, be patient and brave.

Keep the faith. Trust me, we’re OK.


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