Bring It On!

The Myth of Politics and Age

June 27th, 2007 | by Jersey McJones |

Have you ever heard the expression “If you’re not liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not conservative at forty you have no brain”? I’m the opposite. As I get older, I get more and more liberal. It seems to me that brains are something you’re born with, are cultivated by your family and schools and friends, and by the time you’re twenty you have all the brains you’re ever going to have. Wisdom, however (you know, that stuff you stick in your brains?) is something you continually accrue until you run out of brains. Hearts are also something you’re born with, are cultivated by your family and schools and friends, and by the time you’re twenty - oh, you get it. Wisdom also accrues in the heart, until, of course, you run out of space in the chambers. Now that I’m around forty I find myself far more liberal than I was when I was around twenty.

When I was around twenty I drank endless fifths of booze. I smoked - everything. I went to Grateful Dead concerts, not for the music, which I hated, but to buy acid in the parking lot, which I would then take with my friends, and then we’d drive home (after drinking a fifth of booze, of course). I would routinely visit the scariest parts of pre-Guiliani New York City to buy heart attack-inducing drugs from machine gun-wielding aspiring Tony Montanas. I consumed mushrooms and mescaline, coke and dope, booze, cigarettes, pot, acid and even cooking sherry and lemon extract, if all else was unavailable.

Now that I’m around forty I wouldn’t do almost any of that, and any of it that I would do would be in extremely modest quantities by comparison. I would probably have a massive cardiac episode if I did a tenth of what I did back then in a day. I would never approach an armed man in a condemned tenement. I wouldn’t even look him in the eye as I drive by, and I don’t even drive by places like that anymore!

When I was around twenty, I usually had three girlfriends: one “steady,” one “on and off,” and one “on” once in a while. Think car tires here. None of the three knew about each other, until they found out, and then I’d get another three. Whenever I wasn’t “steady” or “on” then I was “off” to pick up another one for an evening. Many was the time that I enjoyed all of these possibilities in the span of a day, or what at least seemed like the span of a day to a person so violently spinning through time that it actually warped around me. Sometimes I enjoyed more than one at the same time!

Now that I am around forty I wouldn’t dream of such antics. First of all, my wife would kill me, or worse, divorce me. Secondly, I couldn’t do any of that if I tried. I’d need Viagra, ten thousand free dollars, the national banning of divorce, and a defibrillator just to attempt such a thing. Mostly though, I just wouldn’t want to hurt any one’s feelings - my wife, the person with whom I screwed around, myself. It isn’t worth it. It wouldn’t even be fun. I love my wife. She satisfies me. I can’t get that from some lady named “Sugar” I picked up at a sports bar.

When I was around twenty I played music. Rock music. I had a nice voice, played guitar, and had a knack for writing catchy tunes with clever lyrics. Because I played music - and not the reason why - I always had a steady supply of drugs and women. Don’t get me wrong. I loved music and wrote and played it for the love of it and not for the perks. But the perks were there just the same. I played parties and bars and such. I’d walk in the place, just another long-haired freakazoid, get up and play, and next thing I knew I had my pick of all the drugs and women in the house. I could play drunk, stoned, high as a kite, while enjoying fellatio at the same time. Lord knows what it must’ve sounded like. It probably didn’t matter.

Now that I’m around forty I have long since stopped playing music. Sure, I occasionally sit around the living room soloing 16-bar blues, or playing a few ditties for friends after dinner, but that’s about it. I remember when I told my brother that I was getting married, he said, “So, quitting music, huh?” Yes. I had to make a decision - do I love this woman and want to be with her for the rest of my life - or - do I want to die young from a drug overdose in a motel room with a comatose stripper in Cleveland? I chose the former.

When I was around twenty I loved Ronald Reagan. He stood for all that I believed - Me, self-absorption, instant-gratification, fuck the other guy, bomb something, dammit! I was pretty much a libertarian, the closest thing to a conservative that I ever was. I figured that the “Free Markets” should be “free” to do as they please just as I should be “free” to do as I please. Now that I’m around forty I realize that nothing is “free.” What you do has consequences, even if they are hard to see or prognosticate. To trust anyone, let alone the vague institutions of the “markets,” to simply do as they please is like handing a teenage girl an unlimited credit card, dropping her off at the mall, and saying, “Now don’t spend too much!”

But the world was easier when I was twenty. I was harassed by the cops or arrested many times, but most always managed to slip away with a slap on the wrist. AIDS was still pretty new and we all figured it was just for gays and needle-users, so I had sex with the same abandon of a toddler in the mud. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and drinking age laws were just catching steam. We all drove around with open containers and joints hanging off our lips. Nowadays, if you are twenty and you think you can get away with what I did when I was twenty all I can say is, “Enjoy prison and AIDS!” We now live in a police state. Big Bush Brother will gladly see you rot in a cell getting raped everyday by an HIV-positive schizophrenic for doing exactly what he did on an average Friday night when he was twenty. Now that I’m forty, I realize that young people do stupid things. We have to have mercy on them, for they are not very wise. But we have to have rules too. Except for the Preposition Rule.

As I’ve gotten older I have gotten wiser. I’ve gotten more empathetic to the world around me. I realize that we can’t all just do whatever we want, and that includes forcing other people to do what we want them to do. And there is the balance. There is no such thing as Absolute Freedom, except in a vacuum, and a vacuum is not a nice place to be. “Freedom” should not the be all and end all of our goals in life. Happiness should be the main goal in life, and wisdom is the key to achieving it. “Life” is not just being, lest all things be “living,” from rocks to embryos. Enjoying life should be the goal, and wisdom is the key to that as well.

I am almost forty years old. I have more no more hearts and brains now than I had when I was twenty, but I’m far wiser. And I’m more liberal now than then. So, I have a new saying:

If you’re not liberal at twenty then you have some growing up to do, if you’re not conservative at forty you’ve grown up.


  1. 16 Responses to “The Myth of Politics and Age”

  2. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Ah. All those drugs fried your brains. No wonder you’re more liberal now than at 20. :^)

  3. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    By the way, the smiley face above is to indicate THAT I’M KIDDING!

  4. By Jersey McJones on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Well, there’s always a little truth in a joke.  ;)

  5. By tos on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    You want liberals in office so you can drive around with an open bottle of vodka and a joint hanging from your lip? Those flashbacks are a bitch, huh Jeresy?

  6. By Ron on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Still like rock and roll Jersey? Who do you enjoy today if so? My experience has been that good rock is not dead, it’s just hiding on the fringes these days.

  7. By Jersey McJones on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Easy Tos.  The point of the post was that I grew up and realized the err of my ways, and also realized how much scared people like you can overreact to things if we all are not careful.

    Kindred spirit, Ron? 

    I still stick with the basics - Beatles, Floyd, Queen, whatever.  Nobody’s done it better.  Then there’s the writers, Simon, Joel, Nilsson, guys like that.  They were the best.  I like a lot, but still wind up picky.  As for playing, I just fool around now.  I don’t have the stamina to do a set anymore.  I was never that great with the rigor, as you can infer from what I wrote.  I have family and friends that are truly great performers.  I always loved the writing and small set loose playing.

    There was a good RS piece about rock recently.  Might be this month’s.  Rock sales are up, hip-hop is down.  Rock has seeped significantly into country and other genres too.  Then there’s reggae and classic rock comin’ round again.  Radio stations are switching back to the format.  I read that k-rock in NY just went back to rock, where it was back when they first hired Stern.  It was my favorite NY station back then.

    Interesting.  I hope history doesn’t repeat the ’80s!  AAAAAA!!!!!


  8. By Ron on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Alas, I cannot play worth a lick. I sang in a few bands, but never really made it out of the practice room. Makes it hard to get chicks that way.

    For the last ten years or so, there has been a revival of the psych-pop era that really picks up where the greats left off. I can list a few if you are inclined to hear the kids take a fresh stab at pristine, hooky, can’t get it out of your head songwriting.

  9. By steve on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    Ron, the Verve got back together and is writing a new album.  My favorite Psych-Pop band in the 90’s was Kula Shaker.  Cool shit!

    I was in a band.  I played guitar and sang.  We were a three piece that was a cross between Jimi Hendrix Experience and Primus.  We played some clubs around Sacramento which isn’t the easiest thing to get into.

    I am a total punk pop guy so my band couldn’t hang it together with me.  My wife hadn’t heard any old Elvis Costello really before and iTunes just released a collection with him singing some old songs by himself.  She thought he was my biggest influence… I didn’t see it.

     Jersey, I wrote a post on my blog that sort of parallels this post a little… without the political bullshit.  Well… it doesn’t really relate to this blog fully, except for the whole when I was 20 stuff.

  10. By Jersey McJones on Jun 27, 2007 | Reply

    I’d be curious.

    Give me some names.

    Thanks Ron, JMJ


  11. By Ron on Jun 28, 2007 | Reply

    I’ll check out Kula Shaker, I guess, what kind of stuff do they do? I definitely liked the Verve’s sound too.

    If you like British Invasion psych-pop, you MUST check out:

    The Minders

    The Olivia Tremor Control

    Of Montreal

    Apples In Stereo

    Neutral Milk Hotel

    Starlight Mints


    Most of those groups used to play in a music collective called Elephant 6. They all play a bazillion instruments and switch out members between bands. You won’t be sorry for checking any of those out.

  12. By Ron on Jun 28, 2007 | Reply

    Hey, lowercase Steve. I’ve been thinking for a little bit, and I’d like to bury the hatchet with you. I’ve said some pretty jerked off things to you in the past, and I want to apologize for it. We’re just two guys on a blog with strong opinions, and while we may disagree vehemently, there’s no reason to be personal about it. I’m sure we’d all get along fine in person. I never came here to make this a more hostile place. You’re a Pixies fan-how can I hate you?

    So anyway, is it ok if we try some more civil exchange from now on? I just don’t see any point in being dicks to each other, it renders our opinions worthless and unreadable when we are being assholes.

  13. By steve on Jun 28, 2007 | Reply

    “You’re a Pixies fan-how can I hate you?”

    Heh!!  Played Wave of Mutilation live once….  It was freaking cool.

    It’s cool though… if I ever took someone seriously enough that I stopped being a smart ass and actually meant half the shit I say on a blog, I’d have a serious problem that I should have looked at.

    It’s as Steve O says, “It’s like we’re sitting around having a beer… shooting the shit…”  I’d hang out with all you people in real life.

    Doesn’t change my opinion though you tree hugging liberal… :) 

  14. By Jersey McJones on Jun 28, 2007 | Reply

    Hey.  Ron and Steve.  Wanna hear something?


  15. By Ron on Jun 28, 2007 | Reply

    Why the heck not, Jersey? Whatcha got?

  16. By Ron on Jun 28, 2007 | Reply

    “if I ever took someone seriously enough that I stopped being a smart ass and actually meant half the shit I say on a blog, I’d have a serious problem that I should have looked at.”

    We libs sometimes have a bad habit of taking ourselves too earnestly sometimes.

    Have a laugh on us, cons. I’m feeling generous.

  17. By steve on Jun 29, 2007 | Reply

    Posted me singing Redemption Song last year on this blog…  Never saved the link

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