i seem to have entered another of those phases where i gnash my teeth about waning youth and hipness (the last was triggered a few years ago when i found myself wearing a white blazer, eating trail mix, and listening to live jazz at columbus circle). part of it is, as george pointed out last weekend, that this is the year of turning thirty for a lot of our friends,* but it's been specific things as well. yesterday one of our top editors sent around a grammar and usage e-mail with it's a gettin' closer, goin' faster than a roller coaster as the subject line, which confused the hell out of most of my neighbors:

me: [proudly] it's james taylor!
et al: oh, i'm not white enough to know that.**
me: there is nothing i'm not white enough to know.
et al: do you like jimmy buffett?
me: NO!

i was tempted to talk about JT's adventures with smack to make the reference grittier, but that ship had sailed. specific thing number two came this morning, as i explained to another top editor that i might not hear back from a source right away, as she was busy teaching an elementary school class. "i just want to manage your expectations," i said. i didn't think anything of it until she complimented me on the phrase - and then i thought about it and was frightened, as it's possibly the weirdest lump of corporatespeak that's ever come out of my mouth. where did i even hear that?

are we turning into yuppies?

*not me, but i'm kind of looking forward to throwing a gothy death-of-my-twenties party next year.

**i initially slipped and said paul simon, which she said she was white enough to know. this spectrum interests me.


sara said...

overheard on campus today: "OMG you're 24? you're so OOOLD!"

pica said...

wait, isn't that a buddy holly song?

jacob said...

i believe james taylor covered "everyday" by buddy holly (i can hear those high pitched xylophone [?] sounds in my head right now). so you're both essentially right (though i would argue that james taylor is the "whiter" answer).

i don't know if this out-corpo-speaks you, but i said today that an organization we're working with "would appreciate technical assistance with their community outreach." the worst part is that i don't know how to improve that sentence.

jacob said...

addendum: when i was an undergrad, i went to a jimmy buffett concert with a young mormon woman.

i dare anyone to match the white-breadness of that statement.

lauren said...

the things one learns from one's comment box! my parents had a grand total of about six albums when i was growing up: "that's why i'm here" was one of them, hence my automatic association with james taylor. along the same lines, i think i was in high school when i finally learned that paul simon was, in fact, half of simon & garfunkel. our house was all about visual art; it was also where pop music came to die.

i summoned the buddy holly version on iTunes and now have the xylophone in my head as well. i hate you, toonces.

tom said...

What is hip, anyway? I mean, there are phases I've observed when the twenties are roaring back (so to speak). And then the fifties come back into vogue. (Exhibit A: the moderate-lived Tony Bennett craze in the mid-90s, instigated by MTV almost in spite of itself.)

Just remember, to cite an of-the-moment occurrence: the people in this here comment box (in all likelihood) understand deep down that Anna Nicole Smith's passing isn't headline news, and thus will not be absorbed by it. "But she was a symbol of so much in--" No--nice try. Sad to see her go, of course, but not news.

So, to some extent, there is a reservoir of hipness and coolness to us, in comparison to the Rest of the World. We can distinguish between the important and the not-so-important. And thank God for that--so long, of course, as hipness does not move towards or becomes snobbery, or cool for its own sake becomes the driving force in our lives.

lauren said...

So, to some extent, there is a reservoir of hipness and coolness to us, in comparison to the Rest of the World. We can distinguish between the important and the not-so-important.

indeed! what a fool believes, as it were, a wise man has the power to reason away.

on ms. smith's demise, my office - predictably - flipped its shit yesterday. everyone was liveblogging and gawkering within minutes of the announcement that she had collapsed. ze hipsters (Hipsters?) were all over it, i've got to say.

your definition is the noble one, of course, but letting go of the other one isn't as easy as it should be.

uncle paul said...

This thread inspired me to put on my Buddy Holly LP last night. "Everyday" made us dance around the kitchen & then Pica said, "You know, this isn't really any less white."

pica said...

yeah, but the 50s were different. a scholar of american musical history of my acquaintance tells me the original lyrics to "tutti frutti" were "tutti frutti -- good booty." that should be good for a bit of category-scrambling, i told her...

lauren said...

per the las vegas mercury,

Composed while Little Richard was washing dishes at a Greyhound bus station in Georgia, the song--according to James Miller's Flowers in the Dustbin--was originally a "thinly veiled" homage to "anal eroticism": "Tutti Frutti, good booty/ If it don't fit, don't force it/ You can grease it, make it easy."

take that, geico!

tom said...

Referencing the Doobie Brothers. Nice.

As recent evidence of your base-level of hipness, you did introduce me, via this here blog, to the term / concept of "yacht rock." My world view has shifted. Maybe only a millimeter or so, but it's enough.

enjelani said...

on corporate-speak: the phrase "drive to execution" still gives me chills. if anyone ever catches me saying that, please affix my thumbs to the ceiling with a red stapler.

i remember being about six and singing along with simon & garfunkel's "the boxer" in the car: "but i get no offers, just a come-on from the whores on seventh avenue..." tutti frutti, baby.

valya said...

if i had a blog, i would do a rant/post on the most annoying corporatespeak phrases. some of my least favorites:
- "i have a lot on my plate right now"
- "let's circle back on that later"
- "in terms of" (it's overused and extraneous)

but there are a few gems: "playing resource tetris," and my personal favorite, "ship it."

jacob said...

this may not be specifically corporate-speak, but i'd like a clarification on a particular phrase. is it correct to use the term "centers around"? can something "center around" something else? my thinking is that this is incorrect and is a bastardization of "centers on" and "revolves around" since they're roughly analogous.

it's irritating because i see this spoken and/or written at least once a week, in and out of work. thoughts?

lauren said...

from a GMAT prep site:Center on vs. Center around

Center around is colloquial. It should not be used in formal writing.

(Faulty) The dispute centers around the effects of undocumented workers.

(Correct) The dispute centers on the effects of undocumented workers.
the bastardization that really gets me into the fetal position is "hone in on," which i hear at least once a week. it reminds me of when my mother says "don't ream me over the coals!" - which would, admittedly, be an especially awful thing to do to someone.

jacob said...

all you ever wanted to know about the history of "hone in on" vs. "home in on" you can find here:


(by the way, a fascinating site)

i refuse to google what your mom said.