Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Autobiography of a Frog, Part I: I Am Born

This is a project I wanted to start this summer. I've been doing a version of it on Tumblr, but I think the Tumblr's grown too far away from what I was trying to do, which is basically create for myself a scrapbook of my life. See, after the years on antidepressants and some of the mental events of my life, I have a lot of problems with my memory. Using Wikipedia to sort of reconstruct a timeline has been therapeutic for me, and I'm just going to restart it here. I turned 40 last month, and I've been trying to reflect a bit on how I live now and where came from and what kind of things turned me into the person I am today. So I'll be doing this occasionally. Maybe you'll find something of interest in it. Maybe not. It's cool either way.

I was born at 6:58 PM in Des Moines, Iowa. My first name, Aaron, is from the bible. My middle name, Robert, is after my great grandfather. America has just turned 200 and Gerald Ford is President, even though my baby book says Richard Nixon for some reason. Nixon resigned in 1974. Am I really 42? Hm, family secrets...

As I continue on past the day of my birth, I'm going to add more personal pictures, but also events from pop culture and from history, making note of what's going on in the world around me. Commercials, songs, stuff that I think is neat. But I promise to not make these things incredibly long.

This is my Mom in June 1976, not long before I was born. She turned 19 just six months before. My Dad was 21. I didn't really realize for a long time that I had pretty young parents. Because I did, I think they were more enthusiastic about things than they might otherwise have been. So much of the stuff I enjoyed doing--going to the movies, fishing, playing video games, having snowball fights--were also stuff they tended to enjoy. I had a lot of fun times as a kid. A lot of bad times, too, that were also because I had parents who were young, inexperienced, and emotional. My life could be pretty turbulent, but that turbulence seemed normal to me for a long time because it was what I knew. This is probably stuff I'll talk about, too, because it's stuff I've had a hard time dealing with.

So... welcome to my autobiography.

To be continued at undoubtedly inconsistent intervals.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Muppet Monday

A few people have asked me about last week's news that the Sesame Workshop released Bob McGrath, Roscoe Orman and Emilio Delgado (aka Bob, Gordon and Luis) from their contracts. It's hard to think of Sesame Street without the three of them. Hell, Bob's been there since the very first episode in 1969.

I guess this is part of what Joey Mazzarino was talking about last year when he announced he was leaving the show after "battling for what I believe is the heart and soul of the show." There have been some changes since the move to HBO, and that beautiful new set has come at the cost of cutting the running time by a half-hour and a real winnowing of the Muppet cast. I've watched it a bit on HBO, and while there are always some cute segments, I can't remember the last time I saw Bob or Luis do anything. (I have seen Gordon occasionally, and I notice Loretta Long's Susan is remaining in the cast.)

This is a real bummer, because bless these gentlemen for all the work they've done and, let's be honest, their part in raising my generation. Bob always made me feel like it was okay to be who I was, no matter what the jerks who bullied me said. Gordon showed me, in many ways, the kind of father I would've wanted to be, and his marriage with Susan showed me a positive future. And Luis was, along with Maria, an important childhood introduction to Latino culture. Luis and Maria were my favorite members of the human cast, and in a lot of ways I thought of them as the parents I wanted to have.

Roscoe said on Facebook that the Sesame Workshop has reached out about possibly bringing them back because of the general outcry that this is unjust. I haven't heard anything else. I wonder how many people who are genuinely outraged actually watch the show or, like so many things in the pop culture news, just hate the thought of something that was part of their childhoods changing in any way. It's true that the new Sesame Street isn't as good as it was, but the difference for me tends to be that I'm 40 now, and very much outside the target audience. What I want to know it whether kids today respond to it. I wonder if Bob, Gordon or Luis mean as much to them, since they seem to be barely on.

I don't know if the new curriculum is to blame. I don't know if it's just the inevitable passage of time. We're in the midst of a generational shift, and some of our beloved pop culture institutions, like Sesame Street and Star Wars and Star Trek and Archie are aiming at today's kids, and I notice a lot of people my age aren't handling it well. I think there's a sense of being left behind. When our foundations fundamentally change, we feel less connected. I get it. I'm not going to get negative and outraged about what's happening to Bob, Gordon and Luis. But it's a bummer. I'm not saying don't be sad about it. I'm not judging you if you're angry. I'm just not, personally. But it's a huge bummer.

I think some of the anger comes from it seeming so unceremonious and out of left field. Some kind of a send-off on the show itself would be a respectful way to thank McGrath, Orman and Delgado for everything they've done, both for Sesame Street and for anyone who's been a child since 1969.

Well, I usually have a video here, and I found a song I always dug. This is from 1978, and it's called "Gimme Five." It was written by David Axelrod, Judith Freudberg and Sam Pottle, and features David (the late Northern Calloway), Bob, Gordon and Luis extolling the virtues of the number five in a soulful fashion. Take it away, gentlemen, and thank you all for all of it.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Song of the Week: "When It's Love"

I don't know what suddenly put me in the mood for this slice of cheese, but it just popped into my head. This is literally the only Van Halen song from the Sammy Hagar era that I like. It's been a pretty good late afternoon--had some sliders and a milkshake, everyone else in my building moved out today, and there's been a cool breeze. Didn't catch that Squirtle, but I evolved a Vaporeon, so that was nice. Made some cupcakes, which I'll be making frosting for soon. Why not top today's piece of life's rich lasagna with some extra cheese from 1988?