When I was a young reporter in the early 1970s, American newspapers first began to notice that black people existed, and, moreover, that they could read. Seeking to attract this exciting, exotic new audience, they created special sections just for them, with titles like “The Black Corner,” containing columns with titles like “What Happenin’ in the ’Hood.” These columns were typically written by black people with whom the old white editors felt “comfortable,” meaning they were persons who could speak for the black community with all the authority and authenticity that Beetle Bailey could speak for SEAL Team 6. If condescension were condensation, those pages were a monsoon.
I thought of those days recently when I happened upon a new online section of the New York Times. It’s called “Booming.” It’s for baby boomers. It’s for me!
It contains stories that the Times editors seem to think my kind of people would want to read. One of the first, for example, was about the proliferation of low-cut jeans that make your belly flab ooze over the waist. It was basically a complaint about what those crazy kids are wearing today, and a paean to the glory days of Mom Jeans. Another article was titled “Why Do My Knees Hurt?”
Also, there is a regular feature called “Making It Last,” interviewing couples who have stayed together at least 25 years. The stories contain all the heat, passion and sheer exuberance of a barium enema. Here’s a direct quote from one: “We are still in love and have mutual respect for each other.”
Anyway, I’m here today to make some suggestions to the Times for making “Booming” even better.
First, change the title. “Booming” is too loud. We boomers prefer a little peace and quiet when we kvetch. Call the section “Oy.” In fact, you could offer a Latino version called “Dios Mio.” And for blacks: “DAY-um.” (Hey, you’re already patronizing one group, why not go whole hog?)
Some story ideas:
■ Master strategies for pretending you remember someone’s name.
■ Soft foods that don’t fill you with gas.
■ Why your daughter is probably not like those cheap floozies on “Girls,” so don’t worry.
■ A weekly TV feature summarizing the plots from all the shows you miss by going to bed at 9:30.
■ An essay asking why the scenes in movie trailers go so fast, bing-a-bing-a-bing. Why not stop and show something happening for more than three seconds, for crying out loud?
■ An essay on how escalators go too fast, for crying out loud.
(Come to think of it, there should be a whole section called “For Crying Out Loud.”)
■ If you have glaucoma, great! If you don’t, how to fake it to get medical marijuana. BUT USE WITH CAUTION. IT’S MUCH STRONGER NOW.
■ Why your elbows hurt.
■ Why it’s not a poem if it doesn’t rhyme.
■ Down Memory Lane With Our Favorite Groups: the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings, Paul McCartney, and Dylan when you could at least make out the words.
■ Why your shoulders hurt.
■ What to do when your back goes out during sex.
■ How “getting old” is the new “getting fat.”
Oh, wait. You actually just DID that last one.
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