Posts tagged ‘pop-culture’

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Having recently viewed the popular highly regarded film, The Social Network, it got me thinking about my use of computer technology and how much I personally depend on social networking to stay in touch with friends and family.  I remember when the Internet was still referred to as the Information Superhighway and dial-up modems were the only way to travel there.  Technology has zipped along since then, but the manner in which the majority of Baby Boomers use the Internet remains pretty much the same.  Boomers go online to use e-mail, shop, and do research. An AARP survey shows that 40% of those 50 years old or older consider themselves either extremely or very comfortable using the Internet.

Despite the growing number of Boomers online, only 27% use social networking sites.  Social networking is the next iteration of the Internet.  Instead of static webpages, websites are interactive so users can comment in real-time with each other, putting the “social” in social networking.

It’s true that the number of Baby Boomers using social networks is increasing. CBS News recently ran a story on the growing number of Baby Boomers now using social media.  According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, social networking on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn is up 88% among those aged 50-64.  Use of Twitter alone is up 120% in the same age group.

If you haven’t joined the social networking bandwagon yet, here’s a quick low-down on the most well-known social media sites and what their focus is:

Myspace (130 million users): The first social networking site to take off in a big way.  Since losing the social networking crown to Facebook, they have revamped the site to focus on music and target younger users.

Facebook (500 million users): The current top of the heap in social networking. Most people use it to keep in touch with friends and family.

LinkedIn (80 million users): Popular for professionals, it’s more about resumes and networking than reuniting with your prom date from high school.

Twitter (175 million users): Say what you want in 140 characters or less. Users follow people (from celebrities to politicians to your grandkids) with short updates known as “tweets.”

Looking to connect more with other Boomers?  There are a couple of social networking sites geared directly to you.  Eons (listed in our Blogroll and LINKS section to the right) is a social networking site that launched in 2005 by the man who created the job hunting website Monster.com.  You can join different communities based on personal interests such as gardening or travel, play games, and share photos.  AARP also features social networking on its website for the 50+ crowd with its AARP Online Community.

If you want to read further about how to get the most out of social networking, the Torrance Public Library has books to get you started :

 
Do you use social networking sites?  Have strong feelings about their positive and negative aspects?  Still not ready to jump in yet?  Leave us a comment and tell us what you think!

–mz

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January 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm 7 comments

Film Festivals Part Deux – AFI Fest


It hardly seems possible that it’s been a full year since we posted about the pleasures of attending film festivals.   One of the biggest and best, the AFI Fest, is about to begin this coming week. AFI Fest is Los Angeles’ longest running international film festival and the 2010 event will be held in Hollywood, California, November 4-11.  AFI (the American Film Institute) is a national institute providing leadership in screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television, and digital media.

The week-long event offers film lovers a full schedule of screenings and exposure to the very best of world film. Check out the schedule and ticket policies – you may get lucky and snag some free tickets.

Also, if you’re a true film buff and would like to attend other film events in the LA area, here’s a link to a list of festivals through May 2011.

Can’t make it to the festival this year?  Don’t forget to check out audiovisual holdings at any Torrance Public Library location. You can obtain lists of notable films from the AFI website and consult the Library’s catalog or browse the shelves to pick up a classic or two.  DVDs circulate for one week and there is no fee – all you need is a Torrance Public Library Card!

October 30, 2010 at 7:45 am 4 comments

Boomers Got a Bum Rap?

The October issue of Atlantic Magazine features a provocative cover story focusing on the Baby Boomer generation and their responsibility for and contributions to the country’s present situation. Whether you agree or disagree, Michael Kinsley has written an essay that will make you think. The issue also includes response commentaries from “experts.”

Personally, I appreciate Mr. Kinsley’s willingness to voice a different spin to the “self-absorbed and self-indulged” view of Boomers, for example, “the Boomers not the Greats … forced the nation to address Civil rights…the Greats were the ones who got us into Vietnam and the Boomers were ones who got us out…”

Atlantic Magazine is available at the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library. Links to specific articles may also be accessed through the Library’s EBSCO full text magazine database.

Share your feelings about the Boomer generation by leaving a post below. We welcome your comments.

October 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm 1 comment

ACK! and the Single Girl

Cathy Guisewite has penned the final panel of that forever dieting, forever shoe-shopping, forever everywoman, Cathy. For more than 30 years, Cathy was the picture of the stressed-out career woman trying to juggle love, work, body issues, mother-daughter relationships, and whatever else modern society threw at her. Cathy ran in 900 newspapers, won an Emmy for an animated special, and had even been parodied on Saturday Night Live. And now she’s gone to that great “four panel” in the sky!

But Cathy was also a product of the Boomer generation. Guisewite was born in 1950 and came of age during the rise of feminism. “You’ve come a long way, baby,” may have become the slogan of Virginia Slims in the late 1960’s, but the growing feminist response was “No, we haven’t, and don’t call me baby.” By the time Cathy was first published by the Universal Press Syndicate in 1976, it was during the push to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified by enough states before the 1982 deadline.

Cathy was not seen as a feminist role model. Even though there were very few female cartoonists at the time, the strip was considered anti-feminist. As Guisewite related in a recent New York Times article, “A big problem at that time was you had to be in one camp or the other. There wasn’t a camp for ambivalence. You were a liberated woman or you were or a traditionalist. To even voice vulnerability if you were a feminist was wrong and to voice interest in liberation if you were a more traditional woman was wrong.”

Guisewite was willing to voice that ambivalence and found an audience of other Boomer women who struggled with the same things Cathy did. Cathy was that girlfriend you could laugh with about insecurities, guilt, and doubts that modern women weren’t supposed to have. At its height in the 1990’s, Cathy ran in more than 1400 newspapers. Obviously, she spoke to other generations, too.

Cathy evolved from a single gal to married with dogs. And although the strip has ended, her life will continue with even more adventures. You can read the last strip here.

If you need to reduce the stress of dressing rooms, an overflowing “to-do” box, and men who don’t understand the need for fifteen different pairs of black shoes, the Library carries a couple of Cathy collections:

Another Saturday Night of Wild and Reckless Abandon

Wake Me Up When I’m a Size 5

The library also has comic strip collections by other great Boomer cartoonists:

Were you a Cathy devotee?  Do you have a favorite among the cartoonists listed above?  Post a comment and share with our readers.

-mz

October 18, 2010 at 8:16 am 4 comments

Mega Stores and the Hawthorne Curse

Mayor Isen, Jonny Weissmuller, Ricardo Montalban, and Soupy Sales entertained thousands at its opening. Its iconic façade was hailed as a mod masterpiece. Its 130,000 square feet, 1,500 parking spaces and 45 departments selling everything from electric fans, fashions and flashlights, right in the center of Torrance was seen as a plum city asset. It even had a grocery store and a place to redeem Blue Chip stamps. It was hoped that it would attract shoppers and their money, from as far as Inglewood and Palos Verdes. It was not dogged by anti-development or NIMBY protesters. It was the White Front and it was 1963.


I remember Mom taking me to the White Front (or “white elephant” as we called it while it sat empty) to cash in her Blue Chip stamps. It was a great place for a kid, large enough to run around in and made of material that echoed well when young lungs needed testing. I remember it only in its decline. When it opened in 1963, it was the leader in large scale “bargain” retailing. In short, it was the Wal-mart Superstore of its time.

Torrance Herald, 1963

But it didn’t last. White Front was only in business from 1963 to 1974. The famous façade came down in the early 80’s while the Marriott Hotel went up in the late 80’s. The bankruptcy of the parent company, not the indifference of Torrance shoppers, was cited as the reason the store closed.

It was the largest store Torrance had ever seen. It was 180,000 square feet (a Wal-mart Superstore is about 185,000 square feet and Costco is only 147,000 square feet). It boasted 350 employees and had inadequate parking. It also had an unique silhouette with the tag line of everything “Under the squiggly roof.” When it closed, it had room for three large “big box” stores to move into the space. It sat on one of the busiest corners in the city, just blocks from the White Front. It was the Treasury and it was 1970. The Treasury, like White Front, would also last little over a decade.

Ground breaking at the Torrance Treasury, Los Angeles Times - 8/31/69

Skip forward a few years.  It was one of the first “membership discount department stores.” It anchored one of the most ambitious and successful redevelopment schemes in the city (Meadow Park). It cost over two million dollars to develop and at 102,000 square feet was one of the larger retailers in the city. Like its competitor a few miles north on Hawthorne, it sat on one of the busiest intersections of the city. It was Gemco and it was 1973.

I loved Gemco. We always tried to sneak in without Mom’s card. Usually walking in behind another family worked. The snack bar and toy section were first rate. (Of course the best greasy spoon around was any of the three Newberry lunch counters! But that’s another story). Opened just one year before the final collapse of White Front and eight years before they shuttered the Treasury, Gemco closed its doors in 1986.

From ad in the 10/23/73 Los Angeles Times

Mega stores have not done very well in Torrance.  With an average life expectancy of a decade, one wonders if the owners of Costco (1998), Sam’s Club, or Home Depot (early 90’s) are worried. Of course, judging by the traffic in the Costco parking lot located near the intersection of Lomita and Crenshaw, it looks like these stores will be with us for a long while. Maybe only mega stores located on Hawthorne Boulevard should worry.

Do you have any memories of the early mega stores? Shopping in Torrance before the Del Amo Fashion Center? Trying to find parking by Sam Levy’s store? Please feel free to share your memories.

– mg

August 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm 2 comments

Anticipation and Old Friends

Seeing the trailers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One) conjured up (ha ha) bittersweet feelings. Although the seventh novel of the Harry Potter series was published back in July 21, 2007, the release of each movie has been something I have looked forward to over the years. I could relive the wonder, the excitement, and the sorrow of each book again. These movie adaptations, hugely successful in their own right, will be coming to an end. J. K. Rowling began with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 1997 and, at this time, the final film is due out July 15, 2011.

With nostalgia, I’ve thought back to my own childhood, and to those series I couldn’t wait to read as each volume came out. Remember the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books? Mind you, I did not read them when they were originally published in the 1930’s. However, I could not get enough of the adventures of Frank, Joe, Chet, Nancy, Bess, and George and the sweet anticipation of knowing I would be spending time with these old friends still brings cherished memories. I kept a dog-eared sheet of paper where I dutifully wrote down the volume number of each book I read. Later, I discovered that librarians had a hard time with my list. I couldn’t ask them for the titles that I wanted to read, because I didn’t know the titles – I only knew the numbers! This problem was easily remedied, as I just browsed the shelves looking for those numbers to fill the gaps on my list.

Many years later I was astounded to observe the staying power of these childhood favorites of mine. My son’s elementary school was having a book swap. Students were encouraged to bring in gently used books for their reading level, and could exchange them for books donated by other students. The volunteers mentioned that the younger grades, K through 3, always have lots of donations, but the higher grades have far fewer items donated at their reading level. I happened to strike up a conversation with the School Librarian and she also reinforced how parents or organizations donate children’s picture books however, for some reason, titles for older kids don’t have the same appeal.

Luckily, the Friends of the Torrance Library maintain an ongoing display of books for sale and I was able to buy some Harry Potters, Lemony Snickets, and other series titles for extremely reasonable prices and donate them. One of the other volunteers pointed out they had a number of nice Nancy Drew books, as well. When I gave these books to the school librarian, I was surprised to hear that 5th and 6th graders love Nancy Drew books. I had to ask, “regular, old school Nancy Drew”? Yes, Nancy Drew, to my amazement, still captures the imagination of kids today. Needless to say, I went back and donated a huge stack of Nancy Drew books. There happened to be a 5th grader in the school library when I dropped off the books. A big smile on her face, she wanted to know when they would be ready to check out. Old friends have found yet another generation.
–js

July 19, 2010 at 7:14 am 2 comments

Dancing With the Stars

The dance shows Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance are immensely popular, perhaps expressing many of our secret desires to be great dancers and showcase our talents to the world. If you haven’t seen DWTS, the premise is that celebrities and professional dancers are paired up for ten weeks. Every week, the professional dancer teaches the celebrity a different ballroom dance. The couples are judged by a team of judges as well as audience polling. Winners leave with a cash prize, as well as the increased fame from being a show contestant.

The 2009 champion of Dancing With the Stars was Donny Osmond – a true Boomer born in 1957 (featured in the picture above).  Other famous Boomer dancers are Gregory Hines (1946), Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948) , Paula Abdul (1962), Michael Jackson (1958), Madonna (1958), and Liza Minelli (1946).

Several Boomers played important parts in dance movies that left a huge cultural impact on multiple generations.  Patrick Swayze (1952) played the role of suave dance instructor, Johnny Castle, to Jennifer Grey in the sleeper 80’s hit Dirty Dancing. John Travolta (1954) made his name in Saturday Night Fever, kicking off the disco dancing trend. And finally, Kevin Bacon (1958) played the role of Ren McCormack, a teenager who moves to a town where dancing and rock music are banned (!) in Footloose.

Far from being an activity for the very young and infinitely limber, dancing can be taken up at any age. While watching TV the other night, I was inspired by a woman well into her 60’s who was so taken with tango dancing, she purchased an apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina to practice and be in the heart of the local tango community.

Below, I’ve listed some local venues to either learn or practice dancing. I haven’t tried any of them myself, so feel free to share your thoughts and reviews in the comments!

Torrance Recreation Center (Torrance): Affordable and great variety of classes offered through the city – ballroom, belly dancing, flamenco, line dancing, plus cardio dance classes. Check the recreation centers of other South Bay cities for more offerings.

You Can Dance (Hermosa Beach): Primarily focusing on typical ballroom dances – rumba, foxtrot, tango, waltz, cha-cha-cha, and swing.

Hype Studios (Torrance): Highly-rated dance studio offering a wide variety of classes – hip-hop, Afro-Cuban, salsa, zumba, tap, aerial arts, ballet, and more!

Soul Tree Center (Manhattan Beach) : Not your traditional dance studio. Offers a core mind-body vertical pole workout for women. Also offers pilates and yoga.

Alpine Village (Torrance): Live music and dancing – check out their events calendar for the schedule of bands and/or style of dance (e.g. Tuesday night features salsa dancing and free lessons, Thursdays are swing nights).

The popularity of DWTS has led to the creation of dance DVDs and a book for fans interested in dancing at home for fitness. We offer these titles at the library:

In addition, we have other dance/fitness DVDs as well as materials focusing on technique for all amateur ballroom dancers out there:

Do let us know where you like to kick up your heels and follow the advice of the Bee Gees…You Should Be Dancing!

– rs

May 11, 2010 at 8:01 am 3 comments

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  • Get On Your Feet…Get Up and Make it Happen! May 10, 2011
    Listening to NPR this week, I heard a story on the dangers of too much sitting,” Sitting All Day: Worse For You Than You Might Think” that reminded me of Baby Boomer, Gloria Estefan’s great song, Get On Your Feet.  So many of us have sedentary jobs and/or we come home from work (whether required […]
  • Tweet This January 25, 2011
    Having recently viewed the popular highly regarded film, The Social Network, it got me thinking about my use of computer technology and how much I personally depend on social networking to stay in touch with friends and family.  I remember when the Internet was still referred to as the Information Superhighway and dial-up modems were the […]
  • ‘Tis the Season to be Reading December 9, 2010
    It’s that time of year again! Families are coming together to visit and remember past holidays and traditions. Some of us are lucky enough to live close to our children and grandchildren, but there are those of us who aren’t so fortunate. We want to keep in touch and be more involved in our loved […]
  • Cooking Light (and Veg!) for the Holidays November 22, 2010
    I love the smell, taste, and feel of fall – the crisp, clean air, the warmth of vegetables roasting in my oven, and getting cozy with a steaming hot cup of cocoa and a book.  Fall is also a time of holidays and for many of us Boomers, a season of abundant eating and quality […]
  • Rich Retirement – Smart Retirement November 14, 2010
    It’s time for a round-up of recent magazine offerings on the topic of retirement, a chief concern of most Baby Boomers I know. Money Magazine’s October 2010 issue includes their Retirement Guide 2011. Penelope Wang’s cover story, “Seven Secrets to a Richer Retirement,” examines the latest research in the field of behavioral finance (a blend […]
  • How to be an Empowered Patient November 5, 2010
    Mick Jagger probably said it best, “What a drag it is getting old.” Eyesight gets blurry, knees go bad, back goes out, menopause hits…and let’s not forget hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and a host of other chronic health problems. As we Baby Boomers age, we usually make more visits to the doctor. According to Centers for […]
  • Film Festivals Part Deux – AFI Fest October 30, 2010
    It hardly seems possible that it’s been a full year since we posted about the pleasures of attending film festivals.   One of the biggest and best, the AFI Fest, is about to begin this coming week. AFI Fest is Los Angeles’ longest running international film festival and the 2010 event will be held in Hollywood, California, November […]
  • Conquer Your Inner Hoarder! October 26, 2010
    I’ve become fascinated with the hoarding shows on television. A&E offers Hoarders and TLC airs Hoarding: Buried Alive. The basic premise of both shows is that hoarding is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder whereby people become incapable of throwing out anything, and I mean anything: broken hangers, empty soda cans, and the hoarders’ classic, […] […]
  • Boomers Got a Bum Rap? October 22, 2010
    The October issue of Atlantic Magazine features a provocative cover story focusing on the Baby Boomer generation and their responsibility for and contributions to the country’s present situation. Whether you agree or disagree, Michael Kinsley has written an essay that will make you think. The issue also includes response commentaries from “experts.” Personal […]
  • ACK! and the Single Girl October 18, 2010
    Cathy Guisewite has penned the final panel of that forever dieting, forever shoe-shopping, forever everywoman, Cathy. For more than 30 years, Cathy was the picture of the stressed-out career woman trying to juggle love, work, body issues, mother-daughter relationships, and whatever else modern society threw at her. Cathy ran in 900 newspapers, won an Emmy [… […]

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