Today is Cinco de Mayo, a commemoration of a an unlikely victory on May 5, 1862 — the Mexican Army creamed the French opposition forces. I was born on the same day in 1954, 92 years later. It’s also Karl Marx’s birth-date.
So I’m 57 years old now, and it’s hard to resist the thought, “Well, it’s downhill all the way now!” I can’t with a clear conscience call myself “middle-aged” anymore. Still, I’m in good health and active, and I’ve never played music better, and I’m still learning to grow and cook new foods! Then there are all of the wonderful authors, painters, and musicians I have yet to encounter, something to look forward to, indeed.
I got to thinking today about the time-line of satiric humor which people close to me in age grew up reading and watching. First there was Mad Magazine, from about the mid-fifties until they were supplanted, as we reached adolescence, by Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in; National Lampoon evolved from the Harvard Lampoon during the early seventies. I’ll never forget a parody calendar cover drawn by some truly twisted young acid-head at the National Lampoon. The cover-art was done in misty-soft pastels, in an imitation of a sloppy-sentimental style of the past, perhaps the forties or fifties. The subjects of the graphic were several ultra-cute young kittens playing with balls of yarn. Unfortunately they had gotten their necks entangled and constricted in the loops of yarn and had died miserably, each one with a bead of blood on its lips. That’s what is generally known as tasteless adolescent humor, but the image has lingered on in my head.
During the same era Firesign Theater LPs were wildly popular with my peers. Only indirectly satiric, these multi-voiced productions were like old-time radio shows produced by the inmates of an asylum… or acid-heads.
The Golden Age of Saturday Night Live started in the mid-seventies. More drugs — is there a theme here?
Now with the net and all we have The Onion along with many other high-quality humor sites. In particular I recommend XKCD. And then there’s Cracked.com, which has been putting out some good humorous essays.
I tend to be optimistic, especially when I think of peers of mine who have died prematurely, whether from illness, mishap, murder, or suicide. It’s a gradual winnowing process, a thinning of the generational herd.
Thanks, all, for the birthday good wishes I’ve received today!