January 30, 2007
The Unbearable Hipness Of Slackerdad

Talk about a made-for-Seattle moment. To image-conscious Gen Xers fatherhood has major upside potential. Those weighing the R.O.I. can hasten Thursday to Chop Suey. There Neal Pollack reads from his latest ironic ode to himself, "Alternadad." He's no Ward Cleaver. Using tip-top technology, he tokes regularly, as we learn from an "Alternadad" excerpt in this week's Stranger. He's already turned his son on to the headbanging Hives, and sometimes even arises before nine a.m. But he's attracted a swarm of critics (here, here, and here - for example) who find the whole cool papa/cute kid shtick unbearably narcissistic. Me, I'm with columnist Leah McLaren of the Globe and Mail: we're mammals and were put on earth to breed. If it's ironic or even notable to be a parent (or a responsible parent) we're all in trouble. And Neal baby, please: 86 any plans for an "Alternageezer" memoir 30 years hence.

SPECIAL READER BONUS:

From Salon, here's part of an another "Alternadad" excerpt, so you'll know more of what you're missing.

I took special pleasure in rocking in the chair the hospital had provided, singing a song of my own devising to Elijah. It went like this:

"He's Elijahroo/He's a piece of poo/Watcha gonna do?/Whoop-de-whoop-de-whoo!"

Elijah seemed to like that. He also liked it when we all sang his "theme song," to the tune of the theme from Bonanza. It went: "Dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum...Elijah! (Ba-ba-ba-ba) Dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum. Dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum...Elijah! (Ba-ba-ba!) Dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum!" And so on.

Elijah began to wail for no discernible reason.

"Oh, Elijah," I said. "Don't be such a goddamn baby!"

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at January 30, 2007 12:53 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Alterna-dad's greatest gift to his child will be resetting the trend that kids will become more than their parents.

Sometimes it skips a generation.

Posted by: Andy on January 30, 2007 01:38 PM
2. Here's hoping Elijah grows up to be an economics Ph.D. who parlays investment start-ups into a tidy fortune and won't give his dad the keys to the Bentley.

Posted by: Rey Smith on January 30, 2007 01:57 PM
3. Isn't Neil cool? Yea, about as cool as a frozen dog turd. As my wife says: the easiest way to end "freak" dancing at high school dances would be for a bunch of middle aged parents to join in. The students seeing how ridiculous they looked would be too busy laughing at the jerks. I thank God I wasn’t plagued with “hip” or “cool” parents, there is nothing more lame than mutton trying to pass as lamb.

Posted by: JDH on January 30, 2007 02:00 PM
4. Actually I do feel a little sorry for the offspring of the "trying too hard to be hip." They are destined to go through adolescence with their "family" a laughing stock. The truly pathetic part is that the parents think they are "on the cutting edge" when in fact they are making fools of the entire family and embarrassing their children.

Posted by: JDH on January 30, 2007 02:22 PM
5. He does realize he has already been parodied in an early Nicholas Cage movie called "Valley Girl"? Stoner parents and absolutely vapid. Getting high on dope and drinking to excess is perfectly fine for a 20 year old (sorta), but at some point you get to the variation on that old Bismarck phrase about being socialist at 19 vs. at 30. No brains. Either his kid ends up as a Young Republican or a meth addict. Wonder which one he would choose?

Posted by: Cliff on January 30, 2007 02:22 PM
6. The poor kid.

Posted by: Michele on January 30, 2007 02:43 PM
7. ..I meant the baby, of course

Posted by: Michele on January 30, 2007 02:45 PM
8. Just goes to show you, slime mold can procreate, it takes a man to be a dad.

You must study to be frank with the world. Frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do, on every occasion, and take it for granted that you mean to do right. If a friend asks a favor, you should grant it, if it is reasonable; if not, tell him plainly why you cannot; you would wrong him and wrong yourself by equivocation of any kind.

Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so is dearly purchased at the sacrifice. Deal kindly but firmly with all your classmates; you will find it the policy which wears best. Above all, do not appear to others what you are not.

If you have any fault to find with any one, tell him, not others, of what you complain; there is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man's face and another behind his back.

We should live, act, and say nothing to the injury of any one. It is not only for the best as a matter of principle, but it is the path of peace and honor.

In regard to duty, let me, in conclusion of this hasty letter, inform you that nearly a hundred years ago there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness -- still known as "the dark day" -- a day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished, as if by an eclipse.

The Legislature of Connecticut was in session, and as its members saw the unexpected and unaccountable darkness coming on, they shared in general awe and terror. It was supposed by many that the last day -- the day of judgment -- had come. Some one, in the consternation of the hour, moved an adjournment.

Then there arose an old Puritan legislator, Davenport, of Stamford, and said that, if the last day had come, he desired to be found at his place doing his duty, and therefore moved that candles be brought in, so that the House could proceed with its duty.

There was quietness in that man's mind, the quietness of heavenly wisdom and inflexible willingness to obey present duty. Duty, then, is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things like the old Puritan. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less. Never let your mother or me wear one gray hair for any lack of duty on your part.


Robert E. Lee
A Letter to His Son
Posted by: JCM on January 30, 2007 03:34 PM
9. The goal is not to be cool or hip, but to raise good people. If you raise good people, they will end up being your friends when they grow up. I'm reminded of a buddy of mine. He's the classic baby boomer. Grew up in 1960s. Had good hard working parents, but they were too busy and overwhelmed with the 60s revolution to know what to do. My friend got in to sex and drugs, still parties a lot, and he'd love the Silver Surfer that Slackerdad spews on about in that Stranger excerpt. He thinks Bush is the root of all evil, etc. (He's actually a good guy despite all of the bad stuff, he really does mean well.) Anyway, so he's got three boys. And when it came time to set some boundaries for his boys, he looked to his own life for lessons. And he couldn't bring himself to say no to drugs for his kids, on the grounds that he would be a hypocrite, etc. Well, he's currently spending a pretty hefty sum to put one of his kids through boarding school to try and keep him under control.

The Slackerdad types will reap what they sow. And we have an entire generation of mindless hippies that hate Bush to show what happens when parents don't set good boundaries and teach the importance of civil culture.

That's why conservative 30 somethings are the basis for a better USA. Almost every person I know my age is much more traditional, much more like our grandparents in the greatest generation. We are keeping nuclear families, teaching our kids old-fashioned good values, hard works, the three Rs, etc. We stopped experimenting with drugs after college when we realized it was time to grow up, etc. When we come to power at large, the world is going to be a much better place than the shambles it is now, under baby boomers.

Posted by: Jeff B. on January 30, 2007 03:40 PM
10. JCM 8: excellent letter;

this, from a part of the country that p.c.'ers will make us erase their flags (on state flags) as 'evil' and have us rewrite history; i will not bend to the p.c.;

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on January 30, 2007 05:24 PM
11. Jeff B, One thing I have noticed when in the book stores is the volume of "I hate ..." titles that eminate from the left. It may be they do mean well, or it may be it's that they are so ignorant that they don't realize how screwed up they are. They had the opurtunity but chose foresake thousands of years of learning to follow Timothy Leary. In all honesty I see them as victims of their own arrogance and don't really care to listen to their vitriol.

Posted by: JDH on January 30, 2007 08:54 PM
12. 1. Hurting people hurt other people.

2. Too many people of all ideologies have children to fill a void in their life because they think the child will give them unconditional love. Children develop personalities and grow up and many grow away. Many of these people really should get a dog. Oh, forgot that a dog needs time, attention, and love. They treat their children worse than dogs and PETA doesn't advocate for children.

3. People that have no core and are constantly searching for the next new thing and the next new experience probably don't have the staying power to guide anyone else because they need guidance themselves.

4. To quote Maurice Chevalier in Gigi, I'm glad I'm not young any more. Children that are raised by these idiots are going to make life for society that word that rhymes with rich, a real ....

Posted by: WVH on January 30, 2007 11:18 PM
13. Jeff,

As a mid 30s parent myself, I'd like to agree with you. I suspect that you, like me, choose friends that are more conservative and responsible. However, I've seen friends of those friends (mostly those I'd consider left leaning) exhibit the same selfish and narcissistic behaviors I associate with boomers. I've seen men our age leave very young children to start a new life with a girlfriend, I've seen affairs, I don't think our generation holds the moral high ground.

But I think there is more acceptance among our peers for "traditional" male behavior. Work hard, pay your bills, support your family, actively raise your children, and acknowledge that for any given situation, there is a right and wrong decision, not simply an alternative lifestyle choice.

Posted by: Dan on January 31, 2007 06:44 AM
14. "PETA doesn't advocate for children"

Well all I have to say about that is thank God!

Take a look at this trial and then examine your assumptions regarding what PETA is all about. PETA and unmitigated evil are synonymous. The testimony here is horrendous and is being all but overlooked by the media. PETA and PETA activists are unspeakably despicable individuals.


You can get a synopsis of all seven days of testimon by starting here:
http://www.petakillsanimals.com/Trial_Day1.cfm

7 Things You Didn't Know About PETA

1) PETA president and co-founder Ingrid Newkirk has described her group's overall goal as "total animal liberation." This means no meat, no milk, no zoos, no circuses, no wool, no leather, no hunting, no fishing, and no pets (not even seeing-eye dogs). PETA is also against all medical research that requires the use of animals.
2) Despite its constant moralizing about the "unethical" treatment of animals by restaurant owners, grocers, farmers, scientists, anglers, and countless other Americans, PETA has killed over 14,400 dogs and cats at its Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. During 2005, PETA put to death over 90 percent of the animals it collected from members of the public.

3) PETA has given tens of thousands of dollars to convicted arsonists and other violent criminals. This includes a 2001 donation of $1,500 to the North American Earth Liberation Front (ELF), an FBI-certified "domestic terrorist" group responsible for dozens of firebombs and death threats. During the 1990s, PETA paid $70,200 to an Animal Liberation Front (ALF) activist convicted of burning down a Michigan State University research laboratory. In his sentencing recommendation, a federal prosecutor implicated PETA president Ingrid Newkirk in that crime. And PETA vegetarian campaign coordinator Bruce Friedrich told an animal rights convention in 2001 that "blowing stuff up and smashing windows" is "a great way to bring about animal liberation."

4) PETA activists regularly target children as young as six years old with anti-meat and anti-milk propaganda, often waiting outside their schools to intercept them as they walk to and from class-without notifying parents. One piece of kid-targeted PETA literature tells small children: "Your Mommy Kills Animals!" PETA brags that its messages reach over 2 million children every year, including thousands reached by e-mail without the permission of their parents. One PETA vice president told the Fox News Channel's audience: "Our campaigns are always geared towards children, and they always will be."

5) PETA has used a related organization, the PETA Foundation, to fund the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a deceptive animal rights group that promotes itself as an unbiased source of medical and nutritional information. PCRM's president also serves as president of the PETA Foundation.

6) PETA runs campaigns seemingly calculated to offend religious believers. One entire PETA website is devoted to the claim-despite ample evidence to the contrary-that Jesus Christ was a vegetarian. PETA holds protests at houses of worship, even suing one church that tried to protect its members from Sunday-morning harassment. Its billboards taunt Christians with the message that hogs "died for their sins." PETA insists, contrary to centuries of rabbinical teaching, that the Jewish ritual of kosher slaughter shouldn't be allowed. And its infamous "Holocaust on Your Plate" campaign crassly compares the Jewish victims of Nazi genocide with farm animals.

7) PETA has repeatedly attacked research foundations like the March of Dimes, the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the American Cancer Society, because they support animal-based research that might uncover cures for birth defects and life-threatening diseases. PETA president Ingrid Newkirk has said that "even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we would be against it."

Posted by: JDH on January 31, 2007 07:21 AM
15. I was being sarcastic. The point is that some folks are more interested in animals having good homes than children. In case I need to spell it out, I don't want either children or animals abused. Is that clear enough or do I have to use large block letters?

Posted by: JDH on January 31, 2007 11:33 AM
16. #15 should be to JDH, it was from me.

WVH

Posted by: WVH on January 31, 2007 11:49 AM
17. WVH,

I knew you were being sarcastic, but references to PETA are not funny to me. This group has little, if any, concern for animals and zero concern for humans. Did you take a look at the excerpts from the trial? Theese PETA peopleare monsters plain and simple. For anyone to suggest that they advocate for childeren would be analogous to saying that the Green River Killer is an advocate for the rights of prostitutes.

Posted by: JDH on January 31, 2007 12:18 PM
18. Dan,

I agree. Some of it is definitely who I choose to associate with. But, amongst a larger group of acquaintances and stories from friends, etc. there does appear to be a reciprocal response to the outright hedonism of the Boomer generation. Even for those who I know who are involved with divorce, there's a very strong pull to keep the family as nuclear as possible.

I attribute it to a subconscious self-preservation instinct that secular progressive values are a path to the detriment of happiness, good child rearing and a secure future for individuals and the species as a whole. Even for the most uneducated and hedonistic in our generation, there is usually at least an awareness that they are acting selfishly and wrongly. Contrasted with the boomers who are the hallmark of outrageous arrogance and righteousness.

Posted by: Jeff B. on January 31, 2007 12:47 PM
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