Men in sweaters

I was but a lad, very young, but I can remember those ancient times when TV shows were mostly in black-and-white and my father was in his late 20s and his favorite 33 1/3 rpm albums included the soundtrack to the film “West Side Story,” “Songs I Sing on the Jackie Gleason Show” by Frank “Crazy Guggenheim” Fontaine, “Moon River” by Andy Williams, “Moon River” by Mantovani and his Orchestra, “Dominique” by The Singing Nun, “People” by Barbara Streisland — AND (I suppose this might be considered a deep and dark family secret) he loved the television show “Sing Along With Mitch.”

Mitch Miller died a few weeks ago — at age 99! His NBC show — in which a bunch of guys wearing sweaters sang songs like “Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Roll Out the Barrels” while the song lyrics were flashed on the screen (yes, it was a primitive version of karaoke) and Mitch himself with his weird and Satan-like goatee waved his arms and “conducted” the ensemble — was a huge hit.

Here’s something a lot of people might not know about Mitch Miller: Before he had the hit TV show, Miller was a big-time producer at Columbia Records. He “discovered,” among others, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett — and Aretha Franklin! But he made Aretha record standard pop music — and Lady Soul wanted some R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and bolted to Atlantic Records. It’s no surprise to learn that Miller passed on signing both Elvis and Buddy Holly…after all, wouldn’t folks prefer hearing a bunch guys in sweaters singing good ol’ American songs like “Has Anybody Seen My Gal?!”

The hell with Elvis and Buddy Holly…Mitch Miller outlived them both… So let’s all sing along with Mitch!

A bad case of senior-itis?

I guess we might be talking about a double-edged sword — I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

If I do complain, I run the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man. If I don’t complain, then I won’t be able to bring to light this ridiculous, ludicrous, preposterous, all-the-other-ouses notion that people fifty years old and older are SENIOR CITIZENS.

That latest example of this outrageous assertion: A National Public Radio piece on how there’s been a remarkable spike in the past few years in participation in online social networking (i.e., Facebook) by seniors AGE FIFTY AND OLDER.

You know what I have to say about that?

NO. FRIGGIN’. WAY.

Also:

SHUT UP.

My mother is 78 years old. She is a senior citizen.

Here’s a photo of me.

Is this the face of a senior citizen? (and you’d better give the correct answer)

Here’s a photo of a real senior citizen:

OK? Are we clear on this?

The blame, of course, can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which made a really smart decision when it decided that it couldn’t focus all its attention on true senior citizens, who can be expected to die off at the usual semi-rapid senior-citizen pace. So AARP wisely decided to focus on pre-senior citizens and trying to cultivate interest among those still young and vibrant folks an interest in issues they would face when they someday became senior citizens — in, say, about thirty years.

Somehow, though, that smart marketing notion was mutated horribly into the notion that people AGE 50 AND OLDER are defined as senior citizens.

OK, here’s the rule of thumb we are all going to follow from now on. Age 65, technically you’re a senior citizen because you can collect Social Security. The reality, thanks to the still vibrant vibe of the baby boomer generation just now settling into their ergonomic-design rocking chairs, is that old fogie-ness probably begins at about age 75 — reach that age and beyond, then you just have to face facts: You’re old!

In these modern times, someone who reaches the age of fifty is NOT anywhere near being a senior citizen.

So here’s one last warning: Anyone who disagrees had better not come anywhere near me — or run the risk of having me whack you in the kneecap with my goddamned cane.