Friday, February 11, 2011

"Being Cool in an Era of Age Discrimination"

"I'm bad. I'm cool. I'm a happening fool!"

I could simply say that getting old is as natural as being born and dying; and that unlike in America, other cultures respect and care for their elderly people...but my words would only be falling on deaf ears.


I started this free blog because the website I once created and maintained for the last 7 years ( went down when I no longer had the money to renew my hosting plan. After losing my job two years ago I began blogging about the economy and unemployment. This blog that I'm currently using was meant to be a continuation of another website I created ( which focused primarily on the 99ers, the economy, corporate out-sourcing, labor statistics, government and corporate corruption, and the plight of the long-term unemployed.

And since age discrimination in job hiring has always been a problem for older people in America (such as the "99ers"), and has recently been more pronounced and much more open since the recession began, I thought I would write about being "cool" this morning (instead of my usual rants against the evil corporations and banks).

First off, let me start by saying that being truly "cool" is much more than a passing trend, the latest fashion, or the newest gizmo. True coolness is as timeless as a work of art, an idea, a philosophy, or a state of mind. A restored vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the Great Pyramids of Egypt are both very cool. The latest cell phone has a very limited "cool factor" because in 6 months something newer comes along with more pixels for the camera and/or more megabytes of storage space (or whatever else happens to be more cool at the time).

When people are cool, they either are or they're not. Many people might say Bill Gates was a nerd when he started Microsoft - - - and even as a multi-billionaire, he might still be considered a nerd. Who would call him cool? Maybe when Windows 98 first came out everybody thought that THAT was REAL cool. But how cool was his Windows ME (Millennium Edition)?

Chances are, if you were cool in school 30 years ago, even if you're a grandpa today, you're probably still cool now. If you were a slovenly jock, you most likely still are today. The same goes for nerds, idiots, psychopaths, narcs, and do-gooders. It's a personality trait that's inherent in people, it doesn't necessarily go away with age, although it can. Just as nerds can grow up to become cool, and cool people in school can become dickheads when they become adults. It's all relative.

Age doesn't have to factor in to the "coolness aspect" of the individual; it's their inner karma, their relationship with the immediate environment, and what they have, or will, or can, exude in skill, grace, style, pizzazz, and innovation. Sometimes age itself is needed to have experienced all those cool things from the past, so that those experiences and ideas can be passed on to newer generations.

I know of lots of celebrities, actors, and musicians who are past 50 years old who I think are just as cool today as I thought they were 30 years ago. While some may have slid into obscurity, and others have fallen in disgrace, many others went on to maintain their coolness all through-out the years. Just because they're older doesn't necessarily make them less cool. Some may even think that Bill Gates (without his money and fame) is cool...I'm guessing his wife might think so. Is Mick Jagger nothing more than an un-cool old man today?

In a recent article featuring me in my local newspaper a couple people had made comments referencing my age in the profession of casino bartending - as though I were too old, not cool enough, and had overstayed my welcome in Las Vegas. This really pissed me off. I just turned 53 when I was laid off and those bozos thought it was time to put me out to pasture? Would the casinos turn down Mick Jagger for a bartending gig?

The people who say I'm too old to be a casino bartender also probably believe in the concept of Soylent Green too.

Lots of 21 year-olds think Jon Stewart is very cool and Jon will be half a century old next year. Should Jon be considered obsolete? Why don't all these young "cool" kids barf all over their TV sets whenever they see him? Not all young adults relate to "older" people as an extension of their own parents.

When I was 21 I owned cool things and did cool things and went to cool concerts and wore cool clothes and hung out with cool people and listened to cool music and went to cool clubs and visited cool beaches and dated cool girls who had cool friends who went to cool places... I began to wonder, at what exact point in my life did I suddenly become "un-cool" and why? Was it when I first bought a house? Or when I stopped smoking pot? When I ran a small business? When my ex-girlfriend dumped me? I still like the Rolling Stones, so did THEY become un-cool when I wasn't paying attention? I'd still like to own a restored 57' Chevy one day, but is that considered un-cool, like an old man's car? I never wore "high-water" pants either, so are they now in fashion?

What makes me so old-fashioned, un-cool, and old that some people don't think it's appropriate that I bartend in a casino any longer? I still have all my hair, I don't smell like rotten leather, and the last time I bartended I could run circles around the younger barbacks. So why is being 55 years old considered to be taboo and un-hip in Las Vegas now? I always got along with younger people, and much older people as well.

Liz Benston, the reporter who wrote that Las Vegas Sun article about me, also wrote a couple of other interesting articles that touches on age discrimination in the casino industry:

Not hip enough?

$25,000 check cuts no ice with bartender

Youth, good looks a gold mine on LV Strip

Do people like Greg Abate of the ABC Bartending School in Las Vegas think 21-year-olds should fill all the upper-management level positions as well? Should they rule the world? Or does he think it's OK to be an elderly CEO (or an old fuddy-duddy manager like himself), but it's not OK to be an older bartender? How about an old president? (Oops! I'm older than Obama too! OMG!!!)

It's ludicrous to think I'm too old to bartend behind a casino bar simply because I passed the 50 yard line.

Since losing my job two years ago I've lost almost everything I've owned. I still have my TV, stereo, computer, and guitar. While most people might say my best years are behind me, and I'm not as fast or as handsome as I once was, maybe some folks might think that the best is yet to come.  (You can tell that this has really hit a nerve with me.)

I never thought of myself as ever being "ultra-cool", those were the people that set the standards and led the pack in coolness. They started all the cool trends, they were the "trend-setters". Me, I always thought of myself as being only "semi-cool", just a regular guy with my own quirks who sometimes drove cool motorcycles and cool cars and listened to cool music and dated cool girls and hung out with cool friends...

...but sometimes I also said and did some really dumb, stupid, and very un-cool things too.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I once had this really cool 8-track tape deck installed in my bitchingly very cool 1969 Triumph TR-6, but I'm sure it wasn't nearly as cool as the CD players are today.

And I'm also very sure that in a very short 30 years from now most of the very cool 21-year-olds today will be told they're old and obsolete "has-beens" too, just like me. The difference being, they may very well be, but I'm still cool. And I'll still be cool when I'm 80 years old too (you just won't notice as much, but on inside, I'll know).

Nobody likes the aches and pains that naturally comes with getting older, or the receding hairlines, wrinkles, or bags either. But I especially hate being disrespected, called names, and insulted as though just the act of aging alone were some kind of an affront on a decent and civilized society. To those critics I would say, you are very UN-COOL, and so therefore, you can go "F" yourself.

True coolness isn't based on how old someone is, it's a state of mind. Take by dad for instance. He was one of the most coolest guys I've ever known. It's just that when I was much younger, I hadn't realize it at the time. Sometimes you have to grow up first to know what truely cool really is.


  1. Coolness has nothing to do with age. Coolness has more to do with how we handle unreasonable circumstances ... and it isn't easy to stay cool in the fire of hell on earth called long-term unemployment. But if we maintain our self-confidence when everyone is trying to convince us we have no value (fu...get them), we're cool.

  2. New Paradigm is but just one of many examples of true coolness ;)

  3. This is good, regarding reader's comments: