Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My So-Called Job

There's a new comedy coming out called Waiting which is set among young service-industry workers. The poster makes it look like an '80s sex comedy, like Porky's, except college has been replaced by a McJob and the plot turns on whether or not the main character will rise above the dead-end service world and make something of himself. Topical, no?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Boomers Die in Viceland

Vice Magazine is one of my favorite media guilty pleasures. They may produce photo shoots of dead rats and people sleeping in vomit, but they are always funny and clever. Their latest themed issue, WE HATE YOUR PARENTS, TOO is all about how whiny, self-involved and greedy baby boomers are. Sure it's mean and unfair but it's nice to see a glossy magazine take the piss out of the older generation for once. Especially when it takes on things like Vanity Fair's stupid story and essay contest "What's on the mind of America's Youth Today?" which they summarize as "We used to change the world by going to big parties, doing drugs, and fucking. All they do is go to big parties, do drugs, and fuck."

Smart Young Women, Dumb Idea

I was super annoyed by this story that appeared on the front page of the New York Times Monday (and stayed on the "most emailed articles" list all week), Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood ,
about how the smartest girls are planning to become stay-at-home moms because "you can't be the best career woman and the best mother at the same time."

1) This story doesn't at all recognize that being able to stay home is for rich people. Most mothers of even young children work. They work because they have to.
2) The story doesn't ask young men about their behavior or assumptions, except for one girl's comment that guys think women who aspire to be wives are "sexy." What happened to encouraging fathers to be more involved?
3) Both the writer, Louise Story, and the women she interviews take it as a given ("obvious") that working results in an inferior outcome for children. Not so!
4) I hate to see this kind of message out there for people like my sister, an 18-year-old freshman at Yale. When you are still forming your career aspirations and the pressure to be the "best" at something is so great, it is easy to fall back on daydreams about retreating into that perfect family life. When I was 6, no lie, I decided I would marry a rich man because only rich wives don't have to work. I would have maids to do my housework, leaving me plenty of time to play games and make up stories.

In the real world, most of us are not the absolute best at anything. But it doesn't mean we should close off our ambitions.

But after I got all worked up about it, Jack Shafer of Slate's Pressbox column wrote an awesome takedown of the story, pointing out that it is based on no real numbers and relies on "weasel words" like "Many" to disguise that fact.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Other "Generation Debt" book

I just got this press release about a new book by a small publisher of financial advice for teens and young adults. Its title? The Money Guide: Financial Advice for Teens and Generation Debt.

From the press release:
Many of these young people graduate from college with a mountain of student loan debt and face a constant barrage of advertising and financial misinformation that is intended to load them with consumer debt. The American dream--to buy a house, support a family, send kids to college, retire in style--seem (sic) acutely, distressingly out of reach.

Sound familiar? I'm happy that this concept is getting out there, but I'm a little surprised to see the phrase "Generation Debt" already in use in another book title. I guess I better work harder to get the word out.

Fun Books Column

I reported this column my last week in San Francisco, the week before the storm hit. When you live in a city that beautiful, it's easy to understand why you might want to work a little less and enjoy life more.

Get out of Town!

I got this comment about my column on young expats:
I gotta say, living abroad is looking better and better right now.

Dear Ms. Kamenetz,
I just read your great article on moving abroad. You
might also mention Istanbul as a place where young
people from all over are finding their niche. I have
lived here for more than 20 years, raised my children
here (where they received an education that would have
been impossible, without winning the lottery (and even
then) in the US). People came to America to find a
better life. It is crucial that the country understand
that people will leave for the same reason. Young
people have much to offer the world, in addition to
finding more sane, more civilized (especially in terms
of work to life ratio) lives for themselves

I'm Back

I've been offline the past three weeks due to Hurricane Katrina. The week of the storm, I filed several dispatches for the Village Voice which you can find here, here and here. Then I flew down to Louisiana with my parents and wrote this from Baton Rouge and this from New Orleans. By grace, our house was mostly spared. I look forward to returning in a month or so to write about the rebuilding process.