My personal education on the potential value of the family table started during my first visit to my future in-law’s home. My fiancée of three months (now my wife of 14 years), Leah, stopped me in the upstairs hallway during a typically gray dribbly spring day in Seattle, Washington.
“Stop,” she said. I obliged. I stood frozen in the hall as she gave me a full once-over.
She scanned my face, my chest, my legs, and my feet. As her gaze returned to my face, her crystal blue eyes were electric with puzzled wonder. It wasn’t my spectacular physique that caught her attention – this time.
It was my clothing.
“You’re wearing that to dinner?” she asked, eyebrow arched, outstretched hand waving at my ensemble.
I looked down at my gray t-shirt with the words “School of Hard Knocks: Phys. Ed. Dept.” screen-printed in crimson, orange mesh shorts, and bright blue Nike Air Max tennis shoes.READ MORE
As a virtue in American society, Fame replaced Discretion and perhaps Integrity sometime in the last hundred years. Propelled by television and turbo-charged by the Internet, we’ve reached the point where most people would rather be popular than think about their posterity.
In the past 30 years, the top professional aspirations of children have changed from teacher, doctor, and lawyer to sports star, pop star and actor. There is a substantial difference in what becomes of our society when a majority would rather use talent to entertain than gain knowledge to educate, heal and resolve conflict.
I’m not sure when the eclipse of Fame happened, but I have a vague recollection of the first time I realized it might be better to be well-known than to know.
Allow me to set the scene.It was Kindergarten.
- MY SELFIE, CIRCA 1979
I trudged through the gusty Northern Indiana winter to a bleak, overbuilt academic factory where I operated under the misguided notion that doing my best and obeying the teacher was what mattered most.READ MORE
So goes the signature line from the heart-warming lyrics of one of the top TV programs of the 1980’s. Said program actually lingered until 1992, and endures in syndicated re-runs to this day, over two decades after they finally turned off the kleg lights and a quartet of grandmothers slid their walkers off our screens. Except Betty White, who has experienced a Renaissance unseen since, well, The Renaissance.
I’m going to cut to the chase, which is unusual for me.
Last week’s blog post, Arrested Development, posited that America’s current generation of young people are developmentally delayed. With a greater percentage of people in their late-20s still living at home, with marriage being delayed (for men) almost to age 30 and sales of video games stronger among adults rather than children, the perception of last week’s post was that our child-centric society has brought an overall diminishment of maturity in western civilization.READ MORE
A highlight of my TV viewing during my days in law school was the preternaturally humorous program, Arrested Development, starring Jason Bateman in a glorious acting comeback. Gone were his days on The Hogans; gone were his days playing second fiddle to pin-up (for a few months in junior high, anyway) sister, Justine, who’d made a splash in Family Ties. (who doesn’t love Meredith Baxter-Birney?)
No, these days (specifically 2003-2005) belonged to Jason, or in the program, Michael Bluth. Arrested Development was a fantastic show, for the first two and a half seasons, before the writers turned it into a raunch-fest more appropriate for the questionable taste and limited range of someone like John C. Reilly.
Michael Bluth, pictured at the top of this post, was the serious-minded, hard-working son of a weasel real estate tycoon.READ MORE
Shortly before I was born, a short-lived but apparently popular television show emerged on ABC. It was called Kung Fu, and it starred David Carradine, who died in June 2009 under quite unusual circumstances.
Here’s a clip of the show – note the extraordinary special effects and dynamic slow-motion action scenes:
While the show ended in 1975, Carradine’s bizarre personal life continued to keep him in the news, and he occasionally appeared in other programs and films, gaining some measure of celebrity. Like many of the relics of the 70’s, upon further examination, the quality and stability of Carradine’s performance withers. There is however, one legacy left to us by Kung Fu, and even if you haven’t seen the program, you’ve likely heard the following description used by a more experienced person when training a novice:
“Grasshopper”, or frequently, “Young Grasshopper”, You’ve heard it, right?READ MORE