The Invention of Youth, or, Are You A Real Adult?


It’s a commonly-taught aspect of history that kids-as-kids, helpless and cherish-able beings who should be provided a nurturing and protective lifestyle completely different from adults, didn’t exist before the modern era. A hundred years ago, grade-schoolers had to toil in the factory or the field and get their hands whacked off by machinery or be immolated cleaning out the chimney flue. Only recently has society started to think of childhood as a thing and books like the new All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior explore how we’re still trying to figure out and codify what childhood is (but this is not a book review about that book).

More recently, in my generation and maybe the one right before it (us Millennials and our big siblings the Gen-Xers), there has come an extension of young-adulthood into a nebulous grown-adolescence gray area of Twentysomethings.

The average age at which we get married and start having children is older than anyone before (almost 30 for those with college educations). The average age at which we leave home is older than anyone before (Millennials have the sad reason that old people destroyed our economy and left us no jobs; Gen-Xers were just disaffected and stoned). The expectation of immediately beginning a long-term career with one company and starting to climb the ladder like a corporate puppy is gone, because in the new market people change jobs every few years and no one is rewarded for staying in one place. Continue reading


My Top 5 Yelp Reviews About Alton, IL

imagesI’m still kind of in a post-holidays reverie haze and in a frame of mind where I look back on years gone by, growing up in Illinois. Over the past year or so, I’ve written some Yelp reviews of places in my hometown of Alton that I know like the back of my hand. Some I love, some I don’t. I thought it might be fun to post my five favorite reviews, in no particular order, to feel a little good old fashioned Alton nostalgia.


Bubby’s & Sissy’s — 5/5 stars

Best bar in Alton. It’s always a fantastic time here on Fridays and Saturdays. Hilarious drag shows, adequate little dance floor, nice outdoor area. Best place in town to let loose and really be yourself, no matter who you are.

Except if you’re a bigot. Then please, stop being who you are. Continue reading

The Good Old Days, When Things Were Not As Good

Critics are jaded out of nostalgia for when they were less jaded. A common criticism of critics is that they no longer seem to enjoy anything: every movie, every band, every game, every book is cynically ripped apart. But we are all critics – I mean, we all watch movies, listen to music, play games, and read books looking for something that we’ll enjoy, and are disappointed when they aren’t “good.” But we’ve all gotten jaded.

We compare things today with great things of the past, or of our past. We remember when we fell in love with a movie or book or band and most things now just don’t cut it. But have you watched your favorite old movies lately? I’ll bet if you watch the movies you used to love objectively, in a new and critical lens today, you won’t be that impressed.

Yes, part of it might be that they were new in the world back then: for example, The Matrix was the first movie to have bullet-time action scenes but now that every action movie has them it seems a lot less special. I think its more important, though, that they were new to us. Continue reading

The Deal Love Has Shown Me


September 20, 1997

The clouds that covered the sky were thin and soupy in bruise purples and wolf’s fur gray, moving so it looked like there were dark, serious mountains slowly parading across the moon. Now and then they obstructed it completely, then let it peak out between their valleys, then stretched out in tendrils so it shone bright and round, revealing the cover as smoke.

“Blow your smoke away from me,” Vanessa was saying to Ken.

Charlotte turned away from up to look at her sister and her – what? boyfriend? – on the curb, alongside the long, burgundy old convertible, its driver-side open. Ken was leaning up on the top of the open door, its window down, pulling on a dark black cigarette while Vanessa, arms crossed, looked annoyed, like she wished she had something in her hand to look at and distract her.

Ken closed his eyes to swallow the smoke, then exhaled slowly. Calmly, he explained, “I can’t control which way the wind blows.”

“You know it’s bad, that’s why you don’t do it in your car.”

“That isn’t logically sound,” said Ken, still fluidly serene. He smoked a little again, then said, “Nobody is allowed to eat in my car either, and I don’t, because I don’t want the upholstery to be stained. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in eating, or secretly believe that feeding myself is a sin.”

Vanessa frowned with the left side of her mouth. “Whatever.”

“I don’t let anyone who wants to willy-nilly fuck inside my car. Do you think that belies my secret shameful hate for the procreative act of our species?” Continue reading