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Cultural wars are all in my head

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By Michael O'Hare
Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Yeah, OK. I fit into those birth years designated as “baby boomers.”

I know what it means to say there was a boom of births during that time after World War II.

But I am not sure I like being labeled as a boomer.

Sounds like I am about to explode at any moment.

And I am not a boomer, as in having a loud voice.

That's just one of those things about the so-called culture of our times that can bug me. Here are some others:

• We have innumerable TV channels (or whatever they should be called now) and they prove what I heard said about TV when I was younger – that it plays “to the lowest common denominator.”

I am not trying to appear highbrowed, I just think TV has never reached its potential.

What we have is not all bad, but what about some drama that is uplifting, recognizes life's challenges and encourages us to press on? Challenges that do not involve blowing people away with a gun?

• Comedy has always had a sharp edge to it when it makes fun of others, but snide attacks by one character on another seems to be the bread-and-butter of the hot sitcoms today, and that is sad. Robin Williams is back in a comedy this fall and I hope it is a cut above.

• Actor, comedian Billy Crystal has a book out about his life, now that he has turned 65. In a reading by the author that I caught a portion of on TV, Crystal said he hopes heaven is a series of those great moments in life, and his would be the day he first saw his wife-to-be when he was a teenager. They are still married. Maybe we should have a movie or TV series based on that kind of love. Sometimes it takes a bit of living to know that kind of love.

• When our culture shows us communication between the generations, it is generally clichéd. The old folks are portrayed as wise, and then the drama or comedy centers around whether or not the youngsters want to accept the wisdom of the elder or not. The young people roll their eyes. The older characters czn run the gamut from gangsters to kindly grandparents, but the approach is the same old stuff. They get no respect.

I like it when a drama or comedy depicts the older and younger generations working as a team in the same effort – and with mutual respect.

A great older actor in such roles is Armin Mueller-Stahl, particularly good in a 2004 film called “The Dust Factory.” See it if you can.

• What happened to the 60s culture? I don't mean the controversial stuff, that has been either replaced or updated. I mean in the sense that we would – you know – “smile on your brother.” For all the songs about love, peace and getting it together, I know I am still waiting.

• The next Broadway play (and its movie version to follow) should be set in a town like Kittanning or Ford City or the like. Seems like all small-town sagas are set in the west and it is time for our culture to turn its collective eyes on us folks back east. This is where the new pioneering should happen. Enough with a bridge collapse, Mothman, how about folks dealing with a changing economy?

• Mass mentality always makes me a little nervous. The wild-in-the-streets kind is one fearsome thing, but equally frightening is our obsessions with the trivia bounced about on social and mass media that somehow even our most notable news shows seem to take seriously.

• In what part of our current world is peace and quiet really appreciated? I am as addicted to TV – perhaps more so – than anyone, but it does not provide what sitting out of doors on a morning (or early evening) does, when the critters of the green are chattering away and a light breeze is moving.

That is a part of our human culture, too. And we could all sit and talk about that – or, more importantly, perhaps not. And we definitely don't need to text about it.

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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