This week we lost the last two institutional vestiges of the ’60s: The Village Voice, which published its final print edition Wednesday, and Rolling Stone, which was put up for sale two days ago.
The ’60s are dead. Or, at least, breathing their last.
No generation has had such a chokehold on American culture as the Baby Boomers. Until recently, our top late night talk show hosts were David Letterman, now 70, and his contemporary Jay Leno. The top-grossing touring artists of the last decade include The Rolling Stones (at No. 1 with $869,471,325 total gross), Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Billy Joel, The Eagles and Neil Diamond.
Our most powerful media entities are Boomers, from Steven Spielberg to Oprah Winfrey to David Geffen and Robert Iger. With the exception of Barack Obama — on the bubble as a Gen Xer — our most recent presidents have all been Boomers. Our last election was waged between two of them.
So enough with the eulogies for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice, two relics demolished not by the Internet but their own narcissistic, congenital nostalgia. Permeating each was the subtextual insistence that no decade was better or more meaningful than the 1960s, and no generation since had anything much to offer.
Yes, everything was so much better before smartphones and social media, streaming and privatized space travel. In their worldview, no artistic voice of the last 30 years — not Kurt Cobain nor Quentin Tarantino, not Kanye nor Christopher Nolan — has the relevance or staying power of their hoary idols.
Over the past seven years alone, the most recurring musicians on RS’s covers have been Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen. As for the Voice? “Print won’t survive, but the Village Voice might,” Michael Musto wrote on The Daily Beast. That is, if it “can do so by continuing to take fresh looks at emerging culture and politics.” That hasn’t happened since Giuliani’s New York — and that’s being generous.
But as noted by Poytner five years ago, technology wasn’t the problem for the Voice or other fading alt-weeklies — their editorial staffs with dead tastes were. Citing a post by media observer Mike Fourcher, Poytner concluded with “a sad truth . . . most alternative newspapers [are] little more than graying-hippie butterfly collections, built to satisfy the tastes and interests of a dying…