By Ernest Kearney — A friend poised a question to me. She had encountered, in a brief stretch of time, three people who launched into tirades in which they rained abuse down the generation known as the Baby Boomers, individuals born between 1946 and 1964.

My friend was very distraught by these incidents as she had never been subjected to Boomer Bashing.

I have.

As a Boomer, I’ve found the hostility which I’ve encountered to be the generational equivalent of “penis envy” (and forgive my “Freudian Slip” if you attribute sexist overtones to the term.)
Whenever I’ve met with this antagonism towards my peer group it has been linked to resentment of “The Love Generation,” “the ’60s revolution,” and “Hippies.”

I understand some of the bitterness. I mean we did have the best drugs and the more exceptional music than any generation of the 20th century (let’s not even talk about the sex – God I miss “free love!”)

However, the primary cause for resentment towards the Boomers has to do with what is seen as an arrogance regarding their importance to the social development of this country. A quick sidebar now to recount one such encounter:

So, there I was looking for a couple of flicks in my local Hollywood Video (that dates this.) As I searched for some entertaining vid to rent, two loud annoying voices were coming from behind me.
These voices were dismissing every video they came across with snide little invectives which they thought were the high point of wit. I did not.

Then I heard the following:

Hey, let’s watch this one about the stupid draft dodging hippies and their stupid revolution that failed.

That did it.
I spun about, coming face-to-face with two young hipster douches (for lack of a better word) and then it was off to the races for me.

Yeah, you’re right, the ’60s revolution failed,” I barked at them. “It certainly did not end the war. Let me think for a moment if it accomplished anything. Oh, and while I do that why don’t you pull out your draft cards so I can look at them. C’mon, show me your draft cards!”

(confusion at this demand.)

“What? You don’t have drafts cards? Oh wait, that’s because the protests of a bunch of ‘stupid draft dodging hippies’ ended the draft, otherwise you’d have had your physicals down at the local selective service office and both your asses would be humping in the Persian Gulf or Panama by now!

(They had started slowly backing away from me, but I wasn’t done.)

And FYI you blatherskites—

(that caught their attention)

—all revolutions are doomed to fail in obtaining their ultimate objectives because revolution isn’t a lone event chained to a single period or generation, it is a continuous historical process for the benefit of all humanity.

I was now finished making my point and was starting to turn away when I noticed the video in the hand of one of the blatherskites, the one that had provoked their dismissal of the “hippies” and their “revolution” was Sarafina! the Leleti Khumalo, Whoopi Goldberg musical about the Soweto students uprising during the Apartheid era. Not only the wrong revolution, but the wrong country!

I fixed my eyes back on the two hipster douches. They ran.

Thanks to a lot of bad sit-coms, some folks— like the two hipster douches— tend to regard the ’60s as nothing but Hippies tripping about trying to keep everything “groovy” and flashing peace signs with abandon.

However “flower power” was but an early manifestation of that decade, one which didn’t last long. In fact, it began wilting when Bull Connor turned his police dogs loose in Birmingham, Alabama, and by the time Delany Plaza was echoing with the reports of three rifle shots and Walter Cronkite was agonizing on the six o’clock news over the Tet Offensive the power we “Boomers” were interested in had nothing to do with “flowers:”

The SDS, CORE, SNCC – upwards of 900 marches, protests involving millions, strikes on over 650 campuses, 500 boycotts, acts of civil disobedience, Stonewall, sieges at selective service offices nationwide, mayhem at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and threats to levitate the Pentagon.

There’s an old poem, “You cannot choose your battles, the gods do that for you; but you can plant a banner, where a banner never flew.

The ’60s were all about planting those banners.

Now I admit that our generation had more than its share of BS. And yes, the movements for social justice, the equality of women, civil rights, gay rights, human rights did not begin or end during the ’60s. But we pushed them harder than they had been for decades prior or decades since.

Our generation truly believed that it could change the world. And we did change the world, just not enough.

Eventually that beautiful, ridiculous intoxicating idealistic arrogance came clashing up against the reality of Kent State, Cointelpro, Watergate, the Reagan Era and more insidious adversaries like mortgage payments.

During the 1960s the three most frightening words in America were cancer, commies and students; one was incurable, one had the bomb, and the other was empowered. The spokesman of our generation told us to “Imagine” and we did.

So, if you feel like bashing the Boomers, go right ahead. But the battle cry of the Gen Xers was “Whatever,” while the Millennials struggled to wean themselves off the internet and neither group felt they could do anything to make a difference.

So forgive me if your criticism draws a smirk that comes across as a tad condescending.

But it’s history now. The Beatles are two down, two to go, and the American public actually believes that the simple-minded braying of conservative Republicans are statements of a profound political program. So yes, the Sixties are indeed over. I’m what they call a “senior” now.

However, since the 2016 presidential election I’ve been experiencing an intense sense of déjà-vu. I’d see Trump’s insipid face and I’d find myself suddenly thinking, I do believe it’s time again to plant a banner. Yes, it felt like old times again. I even went back to D.C. to protest Trump’s inauguration, and that was as close to Berlin 1936 as I ever want to come.

At Trump’s inauguration, wandering amongst the deluded and the deplorable, was a soul crushing experience for me, and afterwards I just might have packed up my copies of Walden and Steal This Book along with my faith in liberalism and rode off into the American sunset. If I hadn’t stuck around for the Women’s March the following day, a billowing rambunctious riot of #Me-Too rage, pink pussyhats, and a cacophony of “grab this, fat boy!,” I might have.

My soul was given a new lease on life, but that was just the beginning of something stirring in the country.

Returning back to L.A. as I continued attending protests against Trump, suddenly I was seeing large numbers of something quite unexpected: youths.

After the string of tragic school shootings that seared across the country, high school and junior high school students were recognizing the failure of our political leaders to enact sensible gun laws, organizing the March for Our Lives campaign and calling the likes of Mitch, Ted and the NRA to account.

They were mocked and dismissed for their youth. Just like Greta Thunberg who was later told to “chill.” Cameron Kasky, whose call for gun control legislation followed his survival of school shooting, was called an “opportunistic media-hyped know-nothing” by conservative broadcasters.

And after the death of George Floyd, I saw those fresh young faces again, this time with walkie-talkies and clipboards managing the crowds at the Black Lives Matter protests, passing out face masks and hand sanitizers to safeguard against the pandemic. And during this last hard-fought brutal election they were once more in the front lines campaigning for Sanders, then volunteering with the Poll Hero Project, joining in with the efforts of “Get Out the Vote” to fumigate the Oval Office with the sweet “will of the people” aroma.

The Centennials.

Now perhaps it’s because of having to listen to older Millennial siblings bitch about having it rougher than any generation before them or because of growing up witnessing the self-effacing fumblings of the Democrats and the self-serving hypocrisy of the Republicans. Whatever the reason, the Centennials are ready to march, to make themselves heard, and most important, to vote.
This gives me hope for the future, because what this nation desperately needs after the poisonous miasma of the last four years of Trumpism, what may be its only salvation, is another go-round of the ‘60s.

Maybe, just maybe, the Centennials have the sand to step forward and take up the banner and show the “Boomers” how to change the world in the Digital Age.

And if they do, I for one will be cheering them on.

America needs another “youth revolution.”

And if it happens without “love beads” and tie-dyed shirts all the better.


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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at and Follow him on Facebook.

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