One of the stale stereotypes that clings to aging and people who are interested in aging and elders is the notion that “aging is boring.” Examining the problem of ageism more closely we might amend this to say that “aging is a pale predictable phase of life more suited to compassion than art.” OUCH. That will raise a welt.
Fortunately we have artists like …
David Greenberger is an American writer and radio commentator best known for his Duplex Planet series of zines, comic books, CDs, and spoken word performances and radio plays. He is a frequent contributor of essays and music reviews for National Public Radio.
In 1979, having just completed a degree in fine arts as a painter, Greenberger took a job as activities director at a nursing home in Boston. On his first day, he met the residents of the nursing home and abandoned painting in favor of conversation. “This is my art,” he said. In this unexpected setting, Greenberger found an unusual medium and a desire to portray the people he met as living human beings instead of “just repositories of their memories or the wisdom of the ages.” Instead of collecting oral history about significant events, Greenberger focused on talking one-on-one with ordinary people about ordinary things—the joy of a close shave or answers to “Can you fight city hall?”.
Greenberger began publishing his conversations with old people in The Duplex Planet, a small, homemade magazine he started in 1979, and still publishes today. It has subsequently found larger audiences in other forms, which are all derived from the original template. A series of personal commentaries drawn from Greenberger’s experiences with this body of work has aired regularly on National Public Radio‘s “All Things Considered“. Greenberger was the subject of a segment in 2007’s “Life Part 2: Language of Aging”, part of a PBS series on aging.
More Wiki goodness HERE.
At the heart of David’s genius is his radically insightful AVOIDANCE of aging as we perceive it to be and his radical exploration of elders and the lives of Elders as they are.
Reread this line…
Instead of collecting oral history about significant events, Greenberger focused on talking one-on-one with ordinary people about ordinary things—the joy of a close shave or answers to “Can you fight city hall?”.
Here is a taste test from a collection of conversations about the law, jail and prison…
KEN EGLIN: 1951 I got picked up I was down at the house of correction down in East Cambridge. They tried to get me on a manslaughter charge. The cops in Cambridge didn’t like me. They tried to hang me on a manslaughter charge. They had me down there for nineteen months. Nineteen months I waited trial and I went before the toughest judge in Middlesex County, which is the toughest county in Massachusetts. They threw my case out. They
fined me a hundred dollars and sent me home. They fined me for slappin’ a girl a month before she died. And I admitted it — I slapped her. I had too because of the way she was callin’ names, callin’ everyone names.That’s all they could charge me with was slappin’ the girl. The manslaughter charge was wiped out — they couldn’t press that. They never found out who did it. I have an idea what he looks like, but I never told the police that and I’m not gonna say nothin’.
There is more, much more, HERE