Drifting Into Old Fartdom

Justin Bieber was arrested last week for drunken driving and resisting arrest. It was one of those pop cultural stories that dominate the headlines even though, in the grand scheme of things, Justin Bieber’s difficulties are of no significance whatsoever.

I’ve never listened to one of Justin Bieber’s songs or seen him perform. I know he is, or was, one of those child stars who had a carefully cultivated squeaky clean image. Now he seems to be rebelling against it and, like other child stars before him, wants desperately to establish an adult persona. It’s a familiar, downward path that typically includes public drunkenness, arrests, and an “edgy,” embarrassing, hypersexualized public performance. Before they know it, they are universally viewed as jackasses and their squeaky clean images are gone forever.

But I digress . . . or actually, I don’t. The kind of outburst above is a sure sign that I am sliding into Old Fartdom. For some reason, the Grammys seem to bring this out every year. Because I long ago stopped listening to on-air radio stations I don’t know most of the popular artists, and I’m fed up with the self-absorption and conspicuous consumption of many of those I do know. I don’t need to see people sticking their tongues out at me or “twerking,” thank you very much.

I think the long drift into Old Fartdom begins with music. You eagerly listen to new music through your college years, try to keep up with it when you start working, then finally quit listening to insipid on-air radio in disgust and really focus on music that you like. After a decade or two, the current hits and artists like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus and interchangeable hip-hoppers are as alien to you as Rudy Vallee.

When that happens, you’ve taken your first step onto Old Fart Avenue, and you may as well embrace it. You’re not going back.

Disco Bowling At The 2011 Salvino

Last night the firm held its bowling tournament, the 2011 version of the Carmen Salvino Akron-Canton Invitational, at Sawmill Lanes in northwest Columbus.  From that one experience, it appears that Friday night kegling is alive and well in Columbus, Ohio.

This is not bowling as Grampa Neal would recognize it.  The only common touchstones are a ball hurled toward pins and the propensity of bowlers to consume frosty adult beverages.  But now the balls are brightly colored, flashing lights line the lanes, a mirrored disco ball is located overhead about every 10 lanes, and spotlight images of stars and moons roam across the darkened alleys.  Loud music pumps out of the sound system, and music videos play constantly on large screens erected over the pin area.  When Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean is played, don’t be surprised to see every bowler in the place bust a move or two.

Last night, the music video selections were a pretty eclectic mix.  In addition to Billie Jean we heard Led Zeppelin, Peter Frampton, and AC DC, as well as a song by a woman who wore a bikini top that sprayed whipped cream and a song by a somewhat vulgar, heavily mascaraed woman who made it clear that she liked “the bass down low.”  I also managed to confirm my cluelessness by asking someone the name of the woman singing the song that was playing and learning that it was teen idol Justin Bieber.

Unfortunately, my annual attempt at bowling last night was a pathetic failure.  I do think my cultural horizons were broadened, however.