Senator Gillibrand, please stop emailing me

Dear Sage of St. Louis,

So Beto O’Rourke is Gen X. He is stereotypically Gen X, I get that. I like him and I like that about him. But I find it annoying that in the media he’s almost always the only candidate who’s talked about as being Gen X, when Booker, Castro, Gillibrand and Yang are also Gen X. Are positive Generation X characteristics now only available to people who could be played by Ethan Hawke in a biopic?

Yours in feeling forgotten,
Gen X but Not Gen X

Dear Senator,

This is the best question I’ve gotten in awhile (also, the only question I’ve gotten in awhile that I’ve felt like answering). One of the most on-brand things about the 90s is that for all its talk of early-stage PC and celebrate diversity, it was and remained one of the most normatively white epochs of all time. White people of the 90s even managed to ruin west-coast hip-hop by co-opting all of its best slang and rendering that slang wack and overplizzled. (I couldn’t stop myself.) And so what I and countless other people are saying, consciously or unconsciously, when we say that Beto is the most on-brand GenXer in a GenX-heavy field, is that he basically is an Ethan Hawke biopic. Does that make him as “entitled” as the current Extremely Twitter culture is painting him? I dunno, he seems pretty contrite about his WASPiness, like so far to a fault that it makes him cool again and then all the way not cool again. Does it make him unfit for the Presidency? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha there is literally no such thing as that concept anymore. So, sure, I could go down the list of the GenX field and disqualify each as “authentic” GenX and it would look just like this:

  • BOOKER: too clean-cut, was never in band (or, if was, insufficiently “accidentally” mentions it)
  • CASTRO: too much of a lawyer, even though every other GenXer is a lawyer now (and they’ve all made senior partner) nobody likes it and they all still wish they had the guts to quit and open that skate shop they always meant to, GOD JOAQUIN CASTRO YOU REMIND ME TOO MUCH OF WHAT I HATE ABOUT MYSELF
  • YANG: You lost me at “startup,” you fucking honorary millennial
  • GILLIBRAND: Sure, she narc’d out something that needed to be narc’d, but that doesn’t NOT make her a narc

AND YET. Is “on-brand” Gen X’s preclusion of ambitious, clean-cut narcery not itself indicative of a white supremacist structure? Only white dudes can afford to be unambitious, grungified DUI-getters and still somehow be taken seriously. I get that this is not cool. I get that this casts a pall over the entirety of Gen X’s anti-value system. I get that literally nobody but Beto can get away with standing on a car and this is not great. So I call upon The Media to do what the 90s failed, and celebrate the actual diversity of Generation X — yes, even the narcs.


The every other generation rule?

Magic Gen-X Question Lady,

What are your early thoughts/predictions for the post-millennials? I know we’re only just now getting a peek at the early ones (those currently entering college), but I’d like to hear/read your thoughts anyway.


Mel N. Eal

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want, Mel:

I’m not gonna lie. Gen Z is kicking all of our asses. They’re selfless, idealistic, sweet, cute, smart, awes—OK, fine, not those Kentucky MAGA teens. But a lot OF Gen Z has been really impressive, and that lends itself to my theory that every other generation is more or less good. Greatest Generation? Comparatively good (the fuckers before them stopped paying taxes and crashed the economy and made prohibition and Jim Crow). Boomers? No comment. Gen-X? Innocuous. Millennials? NO COMMENT (except you, Mel. I like you).

By this math, my own kid is set to be part of the generation that comes after the generation that I’m pretty much depending on to save the world (provided the good ones get the MAGA teens to STFU), which means that there is a rather high probability that she’s going to suck. My only hope is that she’s sort of a cusper and may be considered youngest-Z, just as I consider you an honorary youngest-Xer, Mel.


Magic Gen-X Question Lady

Humanely, I assume?

If biowarfare is real, why can’t a virus be developed that eases boomers out of the workforce forever when they hit 70? 

— Not A Soviet Cannibal From the Dystopian Cold-War Novel KAFF by Arno Schmidt


Um…what do you mean “eases”?

Things that make you go hmmm

Dear Gen-X-er,

Is Barack Obama a GenXer? I always thought he was, but on the 538 podcast they counted him as a Boomer. He was an undergrad in the 80s, for Pete’s sake!

Either way, he feels much more like a member of Generation X than a Boomer, especially in terms of what he likes to read, watch and listen to.

Dear letter non-signer (it’s cool, I’m sick of coming up with abbreviations anyway),

My Forever POTUS is an interesting case study in pan-generationalism. It’s true that his birthdate places him on the youngest end of the Boomers, but he has the effortless cool of a GenXer, that is certain. He also, however, has the self-confidence and ambition of both a Boomer and a Millennial (just read Becoming for an incredible Michelle’s-eye view in to just how annoying our forever POTUS’s personality can sometimes be!), with the pop-cultural sensibility of a Millennial and the bootstrapping self-startdom of a Boomer, AND YET the humility and willingness to credit other people with his success of an Xer.

Barack Obama, in conclusion, transcends generations, which was a key factor in his electability IN CASE YOU ARE PAYING ATTENTION, KAMALA/CORY/JULIAN/ELIZABETH/BETO(????)/SOME OTHER PEOPLE I DEFINITELY WILL NOT VOTE FOR.

The question is the answer

Who’s worse, Millennials or Boomers?

— Stuck in the Middle With Both of Those Fuckers

Wie geht’s, wie steht’s SITMWBOTF:

Ludwig Wittgenstein famously said that any question that can be asked — i.e. is not a gibberish philosophical question — can also be answered. Of course, then he had a bit of a thing and went to live by himself in the Austrian mountains and teach elementary school for 10 years and designed a weird house for his sister, and then when he finally got around to writing something again it was to say that most of the time, we’re asking the wrong question when we ask it, and instead of solving problems, we should be dissolving them.

All this is to say: Millennials and Boomers are actually two barely-different sides of the same self-absorbed coin. They both act entirely in their own interests and blame other people for their problems despite being the entire center of everyone’s attention and having every major industry cater solely to their needs for the entirety of their young adulthood.

What problems they do have are, furthermore, exclusively self-inflicted: oh, your Social Security check is late, Grandpa? That’s because of the fuckface your racist Boomer ass elected President. And oh, you poor Millennials, you don’t have a full-time job and instead must “hustle” “gigs”? Could that be because you literally cannot live without fifty apps that “disrupted” all of your shopping, transportation, communication, relationships, and travel beyond any trace of its original humanity, and thereby create the very market for “hustling” “gigs” you ostensibly so despise?

One generation thinks it’s hilarious to worry about some pansy-ass nonsense called the “environment” and votes for the straight Koch/Halliburton ticket with glee; the other makes a bunch of shitty posturing about how every candidate for President fails to meet their stringent, virtuous standards of idealistic environmental perfection, and then Ubers from one side of a college campus to the other one, pumping the air full of Koch Brothers fumes and creating an insatiable demand for yet more idling, circling Ubers to do the same. Speaking of the same: YOU ARE THE SAME, BOOMERS AND MILLENNIALS. THE SAME IN YOUR SUCKAGE.

Both generations are ambitious to a fault and value personal, selfish success signifiers — the big house and multiple cars for the former; the seething-jealousy-inspired Instagram feed of travel and meals and performative “experience” ephemera for the latter — over human connection, truth, love, or anything that actually matters.

So the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind: There is no winner or loser in this question, because Millennials and Boomers are the same.


I was born in 1981. I feel like people older than me are definitely Gen X, and people younger than me are definitely Millennial. I’ve made my peace with living on the borderline, but I’d like your take on what are the defining differences. Is it what generation your parents were? Or is it more complicated?


Ah yes, life on the generational borderline, where it may or may not feel like you’re going to lose your mind.

Your question reminds me, like so much does, of George Carlin, whom I once saw at the car-rental counter of the Philadelphia airport when I was about 17, on a trip with my dad — but who nevertheless, somehow, has made his way into a story my MOM tells about how SHE saw George Carlin at the car-rental counter, which, when called out on it, she insists was a DIFFERENT trip and a DIFFERENT car-rental counter, and YOU WEREN’T THERE, REBECCA, OKAY? Typical Boomer move, inserting yourself everywhere.

Anyway, Carlin used to say: You ever notice how everyone driving slower than you is an idiot…but everyone driving faster than you IS A MANIAC? This is to say, I think part of your generation-spanning malaise is something we all have, which is to say that anyone older than we are is the g-d Cryptkeeper, and anyone younger than we are is a dipshit toddler who shouldn’t be trusted with sharp objects.

But part of your dillio, my bi-curious friend, is definitely 2 legit 2 quit. First of all, according to the television, Generation X doesn’t even exist. This motherfucker literally just skipped from Boomers to Millennials, LITERALLY SKIPPED THE ENTIRETY OF PEOPLE BORN BETWEEN 1964-1981.

That said, if THIS particular source is something you’d like to trust, then technically you’re the oldest Millennial in the world. And honestly, I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I really couldn’t. You have all of the scorn of the rest of the world, but presumably none of the abject self-involvement that makes you so busy chasing likes you don’t even notice. You remember what a bus stop is, so you’re not going to accidentally found a start-up called DRYVVE that offers a “large-vehicle rideshare that picks up DRYVVERS at regularly scheduled intervals” or whatever.

But you’re also not 40 yet, so none of the wizened, perimenopausal parents currently reckoning with our large-scale ignoring even as we hold the vast majority of middle- and upper-management jobs in the working world and thus LITERALLY HOLD IT TOGETHER — anyway, what was I saying, none of us take you seriously because you were born after 1980, which was the infrangible no-bang cutoff in college (you were a high-school junior when we were college seniors, so, NOPE), and still retains some sort of authority despite the fact that for all I know, you have a kid who’s a high-school junior yourself. It’s not fair, Bi-Gen, it really isn’t.

They call you Xennials. I’m sorry. I didn’t make it up. But you have a choice. You can take what you want from both generations, and you can leave the rest. So take the good stuff: From us, take the disdain for material success and proclivity for comfortable clothes. From them, take any shred of cultural relevance you can muster so that anyone who controls anything might listen to you. From us, leave the ineffectuality; from them, leave the narcissism. Make a ‘zine, don’t make an Instagram. You get where I’m going.

That’s Entertainment!*

*Gen-X in joke


Why no ads on your site? Is there a hidden paywall about to deprive me of your takes? How does this site pay you?

— Capitalism-Curious

‘Sup CC:

Are you offering to pay me? Because if so, I prefer Venmo and Square to PayPal because their evil overlords haven’t made the news to quite as much of an extent ad PayPal’s evil overlords, so I am assuming they are just and good, as all capitalists generally are.

This site actually does have ads on it, just not that many. I suppose I could change to an “ad-optimized template” to make it uglier and possibly more lucrative, but honestly I’m too lazy to do that right now. The answer to “how does this site pay me” is that I have like six other jobs and this site is my hobby because I CARE ABOUT YOU OR WHATEVER. I’ve always thought that Patreon is a very Millennial thing to do but maybe I’ll open one up JUST to see what the monetary value of my creative output into “the world” is, and then when that monetary value is $5 a month from my mom that then gets recalled because she didn’t mean to subscribe but just give me $5 ONCE, that question will be settled once and for all.

In the meantime, you are always (and I mean ALWAYS) more than welcome to buy my book for yourself, all of your family, all of your friends, and several of your enemies who you know for a fact like big words.

I feel like this question is a trap

“What Do GenXers around the world think of Donald Trump?”

—Some Random Nobody

Dear SRN:

Well, SRN, as my daughter says in regard to such pressing issues as how many zeroes are in a vintigllion (sixty-three? I think it’s sixty-three), LET’S LOOK IT UP. (By “around the world” I assume you mean “in a very small cross-section of famous American people,” because I am extremely lazy and this is about all I can manage to look up right now.)

Despite his close familiar resemblance to a 900-year-old bridge troll, Texas senator Raphael Eduardo “Ted” Cruz was actually born in 1970, and is a mere six Earth Human years older than I am and a full-blown middle-Xer, though he has the soul of a Prohibition-era segregation enforcer, a professional shutter-down of speakeasies and carrier-out of Jim Crow. His feelings about Donald Trump are complex, in that he absolutely one hundred percent loathes Donald Trump but has decided to commit the rest of his political life to the act of licking Donald Trump’s boots to pander to the plurality of his own voting base who are so in love with their own racism that they don’t care about the fact that Donald Trump essentially views them as useful cockroaches.

Ted Cruz’s onetime senate opponent, Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, was born in 1972, which makes him four years older than myself and another hard-core Middle-Xer, and also, I guess unrelatedly, the recently-ex member of congress and probable 2020 presidential candidate I would be least horrified to learn had somehow impregnated me. He thinks Donald Trump is a grade-A fuckface, because Donald Trump is a grade-A fuckface.

Kellyane Elizabeth Conway, Donald Trump’s…I don’t know, handmaiden? I don’t know what she does besides suck all the good and love out of any room she enters, was born in 1967, which makes her an early-middle GenXer. She unabashedly adores Donald Trump. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, at 36 years old and born in 1982, I’m gonna go ahead and say the Millennials can have, so I don’t give a fuck what she thinks (also, I don’t give a fuck what she thinks in general).

Edward Louis Severson III, aka Eddie Vedder, was born in 1964 and is an early-Xer, and really, really, really thinks Donald Trump is a fuckface. Though I am not close, personal friends with Eddie Vedder, I do recognize him (as do we all) as GenX’s Official Spokesgrunger, and as such I can definitively say that Eddie Vedder has, like me, long held that opinion. Not only does Trump’s current incarnation as president stand against everything the non-evil subsection of GenX stands for, Trump’s dipshit materialism and actions toward women in the ’80s and ’90s is also essentially the Anti-X and has always been. Let’s just say that ’92 era Trump would listen to Citizen Dick’s iconic anthem “Touch Me I’m Dick” and not get the irony.

Anyway, let’s all welcome me back from my “vacation,” which largely consisted of getting and then eventually vanquishing a sinus infection from a children’s museum in Arizona. Please don’t send me any more questions about Donald Trump.

besides recreational bike shorts, I’m assuming

What did GenXers get really wrong? What core cultural “truths” that we held to be self-evident have proven to be just wrong or haven’t aged well?

Can I Still Pull Off a Mushroom Cut


Sometimes the snow comes down in June, sometimes the sun goes round the moon, and sometimes it takes twenty years to figure out that aggressive rejection of selling out, aka commercial popularity, was never going to result in the general devaluation of the commercially popular, but rather the near-immediate displacement in the zeitgeist by a new generation more aggressively acquisitive than any before it.

In that vein, Ask a GenXer is going on a Break for the holidays, and in this paradigm I am Ross and work is Rachel.

Bring on the Feats of Strength, and I’m Audi 5000 till January.

Wednesday Speed Round

Why was “Friends” so popular? Who was better, Oasis or Blur? Why did I fall asleep at The Stone Roses’ Spike Island gig when it turns out to be have been a seminal moment in pop culture? And why did so few people point out at the time that the Clinton/Lewinsky affair was a textbook example of a powerful man (in fact, the most powerful) sexually exploiting an intern?

—Why Yes, I’m English

Wa-hey WYIE:

Because everyone secretly wants to be a thin white person living in an improbably sized New York apartment that somehow has no functioning door lock, and/or because late-season Seinfeld got too nihilistic for some of the younger people (who were not me). Oasis is the better Dionysian band and Blur is the better Apollonian band. Because you were drunk? (Ian Brown would be proud.) I’m pretty sure that in AMERICA, people literally did, and you were too busy stuffing yourself with kidney pies at OXBRIDGE or passing out to “Elephant Stone” to notice.