Wrapping Up Another Great Boomer Year

It’s common this time of year for critics to compose their Top 10 lists regarding the year that is about to pass into history. Mister Boomer, his own biggest critic, wanted to get in on that annual custom, so here is his own Top 10 list. These are his favorite posts from the past year; because they injected a bit of fun into the boomer landscape, otherwise directly addressed the mission of misterboomer.com or just because he felt they were worth a re-read. He hopes you enjoy looking back at these tidbits with nostalgia and interest, whether they are an encore presentation or you’re seeing them for the first time. They are listed here in the chronological order in which they appeared in 2013:

Looking for Fun and Feelin’ Groovy
Mister B recalls purchasing his first pair of bell bottom pants in 1967 while trying to figure out how to remain fashionably relevant in the 21st century.

Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song
From his father singing in the supermarket in the 1960s to instantly remembering lyrics to 50-year-old songs while shopping in 2013, Mister Boomer takes a walk down a melodic aisle of memories.

Talking Animals Sold Cereal to Boomers
As a literally growing demographic, the Boomer Generation became a target for advertisers on TV. Since we were youngsters, that meant two things that we could sway our parents to buy us: toys and cereal. The latter was often advertised during the Saturday morning cartoon schedule. To appeal to us even more, the cereal marketers created cartoon characters to represent their products. Here is a overview of some of the grrreat cereal mascots that made us cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Boomers and the Singularity: One Was the Only Number
For most baby boomers, one wasn’t the loneliest number, it was the only number when it came to several things in their lives, including cars, TVs and ONE dinner time. Mister Boomer explored the “ones” in our early days in two parts; the second addressed telephones and bathrooms (Boomers and the Singularity: One Was the Only Number — Part 2).

Boomers Learned to Wait
We boomers learned at an early age that good things come to those who wait. Mister Boomer explores the differences between our days of anticipation and today’s on-demand lifestyle.

Boomers are Helping to Seal the Fate of the Envelope
There are many things that were necessities in our day that either have no use, or diminishing use, today. Among them is the number 10 envelope. Mister B recalls the heyday of this boomer-era workhorse that is now all but put to pasture.

Boomer-Era Dashboards: Testing Our Metal
Mister Boomer conjures up memories of metal dashboards on cars — stylish, utilitarian and scorching hot in the summer sun, not to mention the safety concerns.

Boomers Loved That Beatles Hairstyle
As soon as The Beatles landed in the U.S. in 1964, their moptop haircut made news. Here Mister Boomer relayed information on the origins of The Beatles’ haircut, and it’s cultural influence throughout the boomer years.

Boomers Gave the Peace Sign More Than a Chance
Not every boomer knew that what we called “the peace sign” was originally a symbol invented for an anti-nuclear organization. Mister B explores the history of the iconic symbol that still survives today.

Boomers Watched the Events Surrounding the Assassination of JFK
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. There isn’t a boomer anywhere who doesn’t recall the events surrounding November 22, 1963. Mister Boomer adds his story to the narrative that permeates our generation.

We hope you’ve flashed back to some great memories while reading Mister Boomer’s musings this past year, and will remain a frequent visitor in the coming year.

Happy Holidays from Mister Boomer!

Boomers Watched the Long Hair Trend Grow

When most people think about the 1960s, one of the first things that come to mind is longer hair for men. Women’s hair lengths had been trending longer since the 1920s and if anything, the ’60s saw the acceptance of shorter hair for women. For men, however, The Establishment was not keen to accept men’s hair that covered the ears.

There were, of course, many men in the 1950s who sported longer hair for the time. The pompadour hairstyle was popular among rockabilly and rock musicians, and because of it they were placed in the category of other so-called unsavory types, like motorcycle riders. Beatniks and Bob Dylan, then considered a folk singer, often wore longer hair in the late 1950s and early ’60s, but they were exceptions. So how did long hair for men get to be popular among boomers?

Most people point to The Beatles (Boomers Loved That Beatles’ Hairstyle). Once they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964, the genie was out of the bottle for boomers. Yet other bands in England, most notably The Rolling Stones, wore longer hair than The Beatles did at that time. Nonetheless, The Beatles hairstyle upset a great many parents.

By the time The Rolling Stones released their first album in the U.S. in 1964, the photo on the album cover showed hair length that would quickly be adopted throughout the rock music world, and on to the fans. So we see that rather than just The Beatles, we have the entire British Invasion to thank for bringing long hair to our shores.

Looking at album covers of the era you can see the progression of hair length among American bands. This style went against the grain of the societal norm, producing a backlash that carried over into discriminatory hiring practices and refusal of service by some businesses. Disneyland prohibited their employees from wearing long hair from its inception in the 1950s until the late ’60s, and banned long-haired visitors from entering the theme park. Yet the trend grew on unabated.

One of the oft-repeated refrains of boomer parents at the time was that with long hair, they couldn’t tell the girls from the boys. That prompted an American band from Provincetown, Massachusetts — The Barbarians — to record the song, Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl? in 1965. It was a hit among boomers.

Even “clean-cut” bands like The Beach Boys were wearing long hair by the time they released Pet Sounds in 1966. Every rock band after adopted the style as a sort of identifying uniform, putting the older generation on notice that they would not conform to their idea of how the world should look.

About the middle of the decade, long hair was not only being associated with a musical revolution but a cultural one as well. Hippies — the epitome of a subculture that stood against just about every established institution — took long hair to a different level, and boomers objecting to the Vietnam War wore it as a protest — the direct opposite of what a drafted military man would have to wear. That rankled the older folks even more.

By the time the “shocking” musical, Hair, extolled the virtues of long hair on Broadway in 1967, the style was widespread among boomer boys. Long hair slowly made inroads into schools that had previously banned it, and on into the business world, though some corporations remained rigidly opposed. One might say the tipping point for acceptance was not until the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. Perhaps this is due to the fact that once the “stigma” of protest was removed from the equation, the style could be seen more as fashion statement.

Mister Boomer would have grown his hair Beatles-style in the mid-60s, but as a parochial school student from grade school through high school, rules prohibited it. His long hair days would have to wait until his college years. He was just a little too young for war protests, but felt very much like the lyrics of the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song, Almost Cut My Hair from 1970. In it David Crosby sings that he feels like “letting my freak flag fly,” followed by how he feels like he “owes it to someone.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4YpqRPLIWc

When did you — or your boomer brothers — first grow their hair long?