Yesterday, when word came out that Pete Seeger had died, someone I only know through Twitter as @PrigInASuit, had some pointed things to say on the subject. I sent him a message asking if he’d like to spin those 140-character-constrained thoughts into a full blown obituary.
He did. And here it is: @PrigInASuit on the passing of a folk music legend…
* * * * *
Pete Seeger is undoubtedly a legend of multiple generations, movements, and causes. From the folk music scene, to the American Civil Rights Movement, to environmentalism, he was an inspiration to many in the past, present, and (hopefully) the future. An unwavering activist, who stayed true to his beliefs throughout his life, Seeger transcended generations.
It is one of those generations that will bastardize the spirit of Pete Seeger. You see, the “Baby Boomers” as they like to be affectionately referred to, will once again reminisce one of the catalysts of their idealistic youth. Unfortunately, a scant few will have maintained the spirit, let alone the letter, of what they will now speak about as something that they were part of. Some may even declare that they were there at the “start”, that they were not fly-by-night hippies but instead the “real thing”.
As the Boomer Generation attempts to re-establish their street cred, remember the following things that they have also spearheaded:
The gutting of social programs, education, health care in the name of their tax savings:
As soon as they were through post-secondary school, subsidizing tuition started to decline. At the same time, they began defunding the public school infrastructure (now beyond crumbling), and we are now attacking the high cost of health care while the pensions that they are collecting are part of the massive drag on the public purse. Not to mention the number who are on one of these “too rich” pensions and coming back part time as substitute teachers and nurses to further pad their pockets, keeping their children and grandchildren from making a fair living.
Their retirement before the health of their grandchildren:
We cannot place undue regulation on the polluters and poisoners of Corporate Canada. If we do, that might compromise the almighty dollar, and the Boomers have planned their early retirement on those dividends. Luckily for them, they will not be around to see their family suffer 10, 20, 30 years from now – they will be long-dead and happy to have seen the world.
The style of the ‘80s:
Enough said. Brutal. Just brutal.
Now, to be certain, there are some who have kept fighting the good fight. But they are few and far between. The rest are planning their retirement while their children and grandchildren are wondering how to fund their next month’s rent – but, not to worry, the Boomers own those rental suites, so they will get a little more and travel a little farther.
Other Boomers will try to separate the music from the politics. This is a horseshit cop-out and, as Neil Young will tell you, not a valid argument. The artist is the music, and vice-versa.
The truth is, Pete Seeger and (insert many others here) didn’t change, you did, so tell it like it is – you were little more than a poser, a hanger-on, a fair weather activist. When push came to shove, you moved to the burbs, you sold shitty houses and overpriced insurance, you put profit before people, and you didn’t even blink.
Pete Seeger will forever remind me of the Newport Folk Festival (never been, but should probably make a pilgrimage), of his protest and anti-war anthems, and of the ideals that I wish I could live by but don’t always. So to the Boomers, I can only say, please don’t pollute the names of the great by claiming some sort of link to them in a distant past. You have proven that as a generation you have no connection. Get back to his ideals and fix what you have broken, and you can die proud while paying tribute to a great man. Otherwise, shut up and book another vacation… Dad.
* * * * *
You can follow Prig at @priginasuit.