They got to turn the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock festival into a nearly monthlong commemoration, with a newly released director’s cut of the original concert film, retrospective essays out the wazoo and now an Ang Lee movie about the concert’s origins.
But that’s not all! They also got to revel in their glory days with the long-awaited home video release of “thirtysomething” and hasten the slow takeover of the next generation’s dearly held iconography with the release of the Beatles: Rock Band on Playstation 3 and X-Box 360.
Not bad for a generation on the brink of society-changing mass retirement. But if the boomers really are retiring now, perhaps they can take a few of their cherished cultural icons with them. You know, the music, movies and notable faces that once defined the culture wars and now are just kinda -- hanging around.
If we may be so bold, here’s a short list of stuff the outgoing generation would be better off taking with them to Shady Acres. (Henry Diltz / Michael Lang / Sony / Bloomberg)
Let’s forget for a moment the ghoulish reality-show spectacle that Hugh Hefner has turned his personal life into and concentrate only on the work -- namely the magazine that built Hef’s grotto. Once it was a bastion of liberal thinking mixed with smart reporting and the only place in the world to find a thorough guide to high-end stereo equipment and the perfect martini recipe. And that’s not even counting the naked girls.
But somehow over the years, the “girl next door” look turned into the “stripper next door” look, and the women of Playboy got simultaneously more plastic and more airbrushed until we ended up with the September 2009 issue, in which airbrushed and plastic icon Heidi Montag posed for the magazine and didn’t even bother to get naked!
Something is seriously amiss in Hef’s empire, and maybe it’s time he gives the naked girls a break. The articles can live on elsewhere, and we swear that this time we would really read them. (Playboy)
Think the Beatles albums are finally getting the proper reissue treatment? Think again. Here we go new packaging, a box set and the assurance that this is version you must, must, MUST hear. Thats all well and good, but listen up, Apple corps: The sound is no longer paramount when everything is funneled through an iPod. Put the albums up for digital download, please.
One question, though: Does that box set, which retails for somewhere in the $200 range, come with or without a dust rag? After two weeks, itll need one. (Apple Corps Ltd.)
He gave us “masters of the universe” and showed an interest in America’s manned space program that we wish NASA shared, but lately Wolfe’s novels have left fans wanting. We must give him credit for venturing out of his comfort zone, in works such as “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” which attempted to explore the world of Generation Y college students at fictional southern Dupont University. It’s a long way from Manhattan, where Wolfe lives, but that didn’t endear him to a new generation of readers. Literary Review awarded his book its Bad Sex in Fiction award. After bad sales on that book, Wolfe accepted a lower advance for his next, “Back to Blood,” which is due out this year.
So it might be time to make room on the publishing house calendar for younger writers. After all, who wants to be stuck at a typewriter when there are still white suits out there to be purchased? (Scott Eells / Getty Images)
Mr. Nicholson never really stopped challenging himself. His take on the Joker inspired a new generation of Batmania, and About Schmidt provided an honest look at life in the suburbs. So why is the “Easy Rider” actor in here? Because of The Bucket List, which was the cinematic equivalent of a shuffleboard match aboard a cruise ship.
A little fun, a little sad and aimed squarely at the retirees. A few more of these and Nicholson will have to go the way of the Hopper. (Warner Bros.)
Once rock ‘n’ roll’s bad boys, the Rolling Stones have turned into a Broadway show, with the ticket prices to match. The staggering guitarist, ladies and gentleman, will be played by Keith Richards, and the shimmying, strutting lead singer will be handled by Mick Jagger. Maybe theyll even perform “Satisfaction” in the second act.
Yes, the songs are undeniable nearly everyone of nearly every generation can hum the riff to “Start Me Up.” But thats exactly why no one ever needs to spend $100 or so to hear this predictable nostalgia trip. But if you go, maybe Mick will tell you, “You’ve been a really good crowd.” (Getty Images)
This fantasy film indulged every boomer’s fantasy of dropping out of the rat race and rebelling against all that pressure the so-called Greatest Generation put on them to succeed in the traditional ways -- usually involving a brown suit, hat and some kind of leather valise. But what could be more quintessentially boomer-esque than the decision by Kevin Costner (the Everyman boomer icon) to plow under his corn fields and indulge his midlife baseball/daddy issues. Forget the fact that he turned prime farmland into a gaudy tourist trap -- he endangered his family’s financial well-being to work out his own unresolved issues.
Luckily, if Ray Kinsella were a real person, he’d be making a fortune on all the merchandising! How radical! (Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Pictures)
Few rock stars have been mythologized as much as the Great Boomer Poet Jim Morrison. And to be fair, in 30 years someone will include Nirvan” in some “Generation X stuff that needs to be retired” package. But unlike Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, you havent seen Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic out trying to tour as Nirvana (OK, at least not yet).
Yet here we are, nearing 40 years after Morrison’s death and already fearing an onslaught of reissues and products. A new documentary, When Youre Strange, premiered at Sundance. And so it begins. (Unknown photographer)
Ever since “JFK,” his paranoid-filmmaking tour de force, Oliver Stone has been a bit of a lost soul. He’s tried thrillers (“U Turn”), costume epics (“Alexander”) and even straight-ahead melodramas (“World Trade Center”), but he’s never quite been able to catch that cultural lightning in a bottle he hit in 1991. Even when people expected the hellfire-flinging director of old (such as with last year’s “W”), what they got was never as audacious as the Stone film they created in their minds. His legend has so far remained intact, partially because he continues to do stuff to irritate the right, such as his documentary on Fidel Castro.
His upcoming “Wall Street” sequel, “Money Never Sleeps,” could be a game-changer -- or could be further proof that this bad boy should step away and let his legend do the talking. (George Frey / AFP)
Rock ‘n’ roll is not meant for an institution. It’s meant to breathe on stage, or connect through speakers. It’s all about the moment, the emotion, the right now. Look at those Bob Dylan lyrics up top. They’re framed as if they’re a relic, not a song that is passed through time and shared by generations. But oh, the penmanship!
The Rock Hall serves a purpose, sure: It allows veteran critics and cultural observers to pat themselves on the back for honoring their heroes. Please, next youre going to tell us that rock ‘n’ roll is taught on college campuses . . . . (Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images)