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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Feelin' ways about stuff

I felt my age yesterday when I revisited a Miami high school that could be a real life version of that school from Fame. Just with better weather and nobody running around in leg warmers and leotards and randomly breaking into song.

No worries. I'm not a dirty old man who hovers around teenagers. I was there working on a story about a group of kids who designed such an impressive set of artistic, futuristic, furniture that it is on its way to Basel, Switzerland, soon to be displayed in the summer at Art Basel, one of the largest, most hoity toity art festivals in the world.

I like to think I'm a youngish hip guy still. I mean marriage hasn't completely left me in need of hip replacement.

But as I tried to connect with these kids once more to let them know that I too once frowned a lot and felt things about...other things, they just gave me that look, the same one I used to give my parents. While I am in theory old enough to be their dad, these kids could have cut me some slack, 'cause in generational terms I'm closer to them than their folks.

No dice. I'm thinking if I'd worn black jeans and black t-shirt I might have gotten in. That appeared to be the uniform for the artistic kids, whose company I really, genuinely enjoyed. One of those little brats cool kids even commented that my nicely tailored, cream colored, side-vented, single-breasted, peaked-lapel suit, purple pocket square, and sky blue windowpane shirt - that's right; I can dress myself, dammit! - reminded him of an "old" video he'd seen of Miami Vice.

Still, kids don't know everything. For example, they didn't create the first cussword substitute with "fudge it." When I was sporting my Member's Only jacket, you didn't make your swears obvious then either. Like, you wouldn't say that something was effed up. You'd say "that wangs chung!" Get it, like the band? That way you confused your parents and managed to criticize something you didn't like.

In the words of Michael J. Fox's coach in Teen Wolf, "There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese."

Bet those smart Fame kids didn't know that.

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  • I'm old enough to know the song 'Dance Hall Days' that WC did years ago and actually liked it but still try to think of myself as hip and young at heart anyway.

    By Blogger CrystalChick, at 11:18 AM  

  • Crystalchick, we're on the same page. Any fan of WC must be young at heart!

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:27 AM  

  • As I watched Ms. Badu's new video "Honey" with my son the other night, I named the various album covers and artists she was portraying - my son was amazed at my skill in "remembering that old crap".

    (if you get the chance will you read my "tipping" post and share your views?)

    By Anonymous jali, at 11:30 AM  

  • I remember how BADLY I wanted a Members Only jacket, and that Mom wouldn't buy it, and I wasn't old enough yet to go to work for it. Life was rough I tell ya.

    "...marriage hasn't completely left me in need of hip replacement." Thanks for the laugh.

    By Anonymous Freddie, at 12:36 PM  

  • I found an old saved document of on my hard drive called "we are not the lost generation." I'll have to post it, brings back lots of memories!!

    By Blogger Claudia, at 12:56 PM  

  • You crack me up. I really needed that laugh today, JB, so thanks!

    ps- Wang Chung is timeless, don't let anyone tell you different!

    By Blogger WNG, at 1:33 PM  

  • the key is to hate everything they hate. Because if you love their stuff, they'll hate it.

    Oh, and say "whatever" a lot.

    By Blogger Evil Spock, at 2:51 PM  

  • James,

    I am 32 and I think that is perfectly appropriate dress for a black man in Miami. It's not like you were wearing gator shoes. Were you?

    Frickin' kids.

    By Blogger M@, at 6:55 PM  

  • I hope you remained true to Mi' Vice's fashion statement: SOCKS ARE OPTIONAL.

    By Anonymous before the mayflower, at 8:20 PM  

  • Damn. You is a puppy.

    Members only. Wang chung. I got underwear older than Wang Chung.

    Hell, I'm WEARING it.

    Yeah, it's been washed.


    You said "Wang".

    Hehehe hehehe.

    By Anonymous og, at 9:42 PM  

  • I tried talking to four teenagers at the local mall, and I referenced you, saying that people who were completely different should talk to each other. They all worked and had $200 of discretionary income left over each month. So I tried to get them to invest the $200 a month in a Roth IRA at a bank, telling them they would be rich before they retired.

    It took about two to three minutes to start conversing among themselves. It was clear that they couldn't conceive of anyone from my generation having anything of interest to anyone of their generation. It wasn't racial, it was a language/age barrier. I'll work on that.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 11:33 PM  

  • I get the same thing when I take my son and his friends places. Just blank stares at the uncool old man.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 12:01 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Andy, at 12:52 AM  

  • Post your queries related to Hip Replacement at,

    Toll Free
    UK: 0-808-234-6343
    US / Canada: 1-800-730-6373

    By Blogger Andy, at 12:53 AM  

  • Post your queries related to Joint Replacement at,

    Toll Free
    UK: 0-808-234-6343
    US / Canada: 1-800-730-6373

    By Blogger Andy, at 12:54 AM  

  • Wow .. if I need my hip or my spine replaced, I'll be sure to choose a random website to gather my info.

    I hate 'bots!

    By Anonymous jali, at 9:02 AM  

  • Freddie, I got my M.O. jacket with lawncare money and begging (from my folks). It was light grey. Later, I moved up the M.O. ladder and got another one, with a thick lining in it for winter. That one was maroon. The good old days.

    Claudia, I'd like to see that essay.

    WNG, glad to provide the laughs. My pleasure.

    Evil Spock, whenever I say "whenver" I think of that episode of South Park where Eric Cartman goes on Maury Povich and dresses like a girl and says over and over "Whateva, whateva, I'll do what I want!"

    Sorry M@, gator shoes are too pimpish for my taste. I wore simple brown slip-on loafers.

    C'mon Before the Mayflower, no way I'm going without socks unless I'm wearing sandals. That was one part of Miami Vice style I could never roll with. I tried back in the day wearing my penny loafers - with pennies inside - without socks. It wasn't as comfortable as it looked on TV. It was downright uncomfortable, actually.

    Og, I did say Wang. And somehow I can't help but agree that it really is funny. And that is one magical pair of shorts you've got there. Mine last about six - eight months before holes start to wear in 'em. Clearly I'm buying the wrong brand.

    Monty, I applaud you. That was a really cool thing reaching out to those kids. Who knows? Maybe one of 'em in a year or two will remember your advice and go out and start investing their money wisely.

    Hammer, in one breath I feel for you and can't wait to be in your shoes. Very cool...and funny, the dad experience.

    And Andy, ya spammin' bastard, don't let me find out who you really are. I didn't actually mean hip - as in attached to my legs - replacement.

    Jali, I'm gonna visit this guy's site just as soon as I buy my vitamins from one of those anonymous emails offering 'em at a discount.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:17 AM  

  • James, it's posted.

    By Blogger Claudia, at 10:36 AM  

  • Teenagers... the biggest mystery of them all. The farther away I get from my teenage years the more I can't stand them and simultaneously want to be them.

    By Blogger Melissa, at 6:19 PM  

  • So weird you post about the flick Fame, I was just speaking about the movie the other day and the thing is that I know I want to sit and watch it again... I wanna live forever :)

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 6:14 AM  

  • Whenever I got the feeling of getting old, I have three strategies to overcome from that. They are, wear trendy costumes, go for travel, and regular gym. It gives lot of mental strength and stress relief.
    Used Ford Engines

    By Blogger Smith, at 10:37 AM  

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