The Big Difference Between Us and the Millennials

I was born in 1970.

Baby me looking thrilled.

Baby me looking thrilled.

This means I spent years age 10-20 in the 1980s. As teens, my brother and I were latch key kids, and my parents didn’t helicopter us, or really pay much attention to what we were doing at all.

I spent my 20s very differently from the Millennials because my generation has something going for it the Millennials don’t have.

We didn’t have social media to broadcast to the entire World, the dumb-ass, repulsive and irresponsible things we did.

Thank goodness!

I don’t buy into generation bashing.

Since the dawn of time, every generation has dissed the generations above and below them. When you’re a kid, older generations are stuck in their ways and don’t understand you. When you’re older, younger generations are idiots and useless.

I never understood why the minute GenXers turned 30, we all turned into a bunch of “kids these days,” “get off my lawn” complainers who believed all good music stopped in 1988. Did we suddenly have amnesia and forget what it was like to be called “Slackers?”

It’s 100% revisionist history to act like we were so responsible and independent when we were young, and Millennials are all lazy and entitled. We can revise that history because there were no dumb Tweets, embarrassing Instagram Photos, or viral Facebook posts for the world to judge.

Every generation has good and bad.

I really try to not judge people by age; I try to stay age agnostic. As a business owner, I’ve employed people of many ages. I’ve had folks who work their asses off and take incredible initiative and others who put in the bare minimum necessary to keep their jobs. If you broke those folks down by age, you would find no correlation.

I have Millennial friends who are Entrepreneurs, Executive Directors, who are generally hard working and doing amazing things. I have GenX friends who maintained the Slacker lifestyle well into middle age. Both are respectable choices as long as you’re happy.

It’s all good, my friends. Stop being a cliche, middle-age grump and remember back to our early 20s — it wasn’t pretty, and fortunately, it’s not archived on the Internet.

How I Got the Nickname Lil’ Jimmi

Last week, I saw Neutral Milk Hotel. It was my friend Sara Weaver’s favorite band. She played In The Aeroplane Over The Sea constantly in her van. The girl was very messy, and she would lose the CD then buy a new one. At the end of the day, I think she bought it 3 times.

Sara died on June 7th, 2002 after a 2 year battle with Leukemia. It’s been over 10 years, but seeing the show was still an emotional struggle.

Old Swisher Press Photo from 1999

Old Swisher Press Photo from 1999

Sara was one of my very best friends. We dated for a Summer in 1992 then wound up being much better together as friends. I was in several different bands with her until she wanted to get serious with her last band, Swisher. I couldn’t devote the time necessary for touring so I switched to a manager/webmaster/everything else role.

She had a photographer friend she called “The Scottish Guy” (Sara made up nicknames for everyone). He did all her photography which I would then use for flyers, CD art, etc.

One day Sara told The Scottish Guy she was in my neighborhood and he replied, “Oh, you were going to see Jimmy then?”

According to the Scots Dictionary

“In the Glasgow area the name Jim or Jimmy is used informally to address any man not known to the speaker.”

That was it. She called me Jimmi (she was very adamant about it being spelled with an “i”) or Little Jimmi from then on.

Sara with my stitched up thumb I cut carving a pumpkin.

Sara with my stitched up thumb I cut carving a pumpkin.

Soon there were groups of people who were also calling me Jimmi (including her parents and sister). It got to the point where some folks did not know my real name. She had this big, vibrant personality and was a total charmer — the nicknames she gave people tended to stick.

When she was diagnosed she just released Over Nothing, a great album I think would have done really well if she hadn’t gotten sick. She had just finished a tour that I roadied a portion of. Being a roadie was the most fun I ever had in my entire life.

Sara’s parents, sister, boyfriend Jon, several friends and Mia & I went into full-on caretaker mode. We made a website called The Weave Report; I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a home made blog (done in Perl). It chronicled the whole, horrible 2 years and beyond.

I never thought she was going to die, she had me convinced that she was going to “kick Leukemia’s ass.” At the end she was in organ failure, and we had to make the decision to stop. After she died, I felt like I was dumped back into regular life, and I didn’t know how to function in it. We were all a mess. It took years for the dead inside feeling to subside. The feeling that nothing mattered because Sara died.

The WeaveWhen Sara took her last breaths, it was completely surreal. One thing that happened was someone (later, Mia told me it was her) placed Sara’s rings in my hand. They were cheap, silver rings she probably bought off a street vendor near Market Street. One was 3 rings that intertwined to make one. I gave one of the 3 rings to Jon, one to Mia and the 3rd I have worn around my neck on a chain every day since she died. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.

Sara getting sick and dying is one of the most formative experiences of my life. Having someone close to you die is like joining a really shitty club. It changes you as a person.

Now I use the username “liljimmi” whenever possible. I like to think there will be new folks who associate me with that name, the funny nickname Sara gave me.

My Philly Tattoo Convention Adventure

BfQqSepCMAECADqMia and I have been going to tattoo artist, Emma Griffiths, since the 90s. She does incredible work and is funny as hell. She’s located in Brooklyn, so we always travel to get work done. A couple months ago she posted to Facebook saying she’d be at the Philly Tattoo Arts Convention if anyone wants to make an appointment to get work done.

For Mia’s and my 20 year anniversary of our first date we got “Mia” and “Tracy” classic heart tattoos. I got my Mia heart on the back of my left calf. I’ve been wanting to add a “Josephine” (our kid) heart on my right one to match it, so I emailed Emma to make an appointment.

I’d never been to a tattoo convention before, I was a little scared. I imagined testosterone-filled booths with women in sketchy outfits promoting different products. There was some of that, but I was pleasantly surprised by seeing a lot of female tattoo artists and all kinds of people attending the convention.

Getting a tattoo in public was an interesting experience. Emma had to cram into the small booth she was sharing with 2 other women without all of her usual equipment. I was on my stomach with my face right at the front of the table. When folks would page through her portfolio books my face would be right there. I was thinking I should have gotten a quick tutorial so I could answer questions as she worked. A stranger even asked me “how does a calf tattoo feel?” Um, it hurts. I had to try and keep a calm face when she was on an extra painful spot.

What I loved was when her colleagues would come by and watch her work and make suggestions. It was like getting on-the-fly consultations from these women with decades of tattoo experience — a real treat.

The whole thing was strange and very cool.

Afterwards I walked around, I never knew there were so many products and supplies for tattoo artists. There was a lot of amazing work on display and a lot of really bad tattoos. I had never heard the sound of so much buzzing in my life.

Here is the tattoo. My daughter loves it, but she is mad it didn’t include a paw print (she is cat obsessed).