Every generation needs its collective voice to make sense of the inevitable phases in life, especially when it reaches middle-age amid the confusion we feel as we stand at that edge between the inner child still clinging to the past and the adult warily facing the future. Whether it be in the music that defines us, the movies we watch or the books we read, there is something that touches us on a deep and personal level at exactly the right time with such perfect clarity, it feels like magic, like something greater than ourselves just stepped into our lives and told us to wake the fuck up. It's finally time. Do something. Be something. Don't just apathetically roll over and die. One such voice that resonated came to me in the form of Joshua Mohr's latest book, titled Fight Song, a Generation X call-to-arms about facing mid-life on our own terms with the unique heart that beats inside us all.
Poignant, honest and funny as hell, this is the fictional story of Bob's moment, a plain and average man with the plain and average name, living in a plain and average Stepford-like suburb with his wife and kids as he works in a plain and average job he hates. Bob is standing on that edge looking at his spiral towards death when circumstances force him out of the box he's trapped himself in and pushes him into a world full of eccentric characters who help him come into his own along the way, discovering that living life honestly and in-the-moment, and being true to himself makes things a hell of a lot more interesting.
Joshua Mohr Introduces us to a plethora of words, ideas, products and phrases that if not already staples in the GenX lexicon, they really ought to be, purely for the sheer comedic relief. Every one of us has had a plock in our lives, that albatross around our neck trying valiantly to bring us down. We've all been through a flog-mongering at one point or another. The Shame Cave does exist. And all of us slaving away at the corporate teat harbor fantasies of making our boss Scroo Dat Pooch in our own personal 'fuck you'. As diverse and unpredictable as Generation X itself, Fight Song captures the symbolism in the world we face while giving us permission to laugh at ourselves and the choices we've made in the process.
A brilliant and skilled storyteller, Mohr wraps the inherent truth in quirky, off-beat characters and situations that compel his readers to passionately cheer for even the most off-color, despicable characters simply because they're just so damn likable. Surprisingly sweet and emotional at times, with just enough sarcasm and edge thrown in, this book will appeal to even the most jaded proletariat whose already resigned himself to his own perceived inevitable.
So as our generation suddenly finds itself treading water, trying to find a sense of self, wondering if we even still have a self, as we navigate these adult responsibilities and try not to get sucked under, it tells us we still have fight left in us, that there is glory of another sort out there for us, that just because we've reached the middle, that precipice between birth and death, it doesn't mean we're trapped in the beginning of the end. We all have a fight song, something worth living for, whether it be from our favorite Alma Mater in its man vs. Goliath epiphany that lives in the triumph of the underdog, or that one song from our favorite rock band that propels us into a whole new life, or a perfectly timed quote from our own personal hero that says what we couldn't quite articulate ourselves, or simply a message in a book that so completely 'gets it.'
My fight song, the one that started it all for me is "East Jesus Nowhere" by Green Day. Not because of the message in the lyrics, though it hit me to the core, but because the song was so powerful I stopped what I was doing at the time and just listened. They were the first song lyrics I studied, which led to a period of such profound inspiration in me that I wrote feature-length musical film scripts based on Green Day's music and discovered for the first time, an insatiable, irrevocable love for music in general. It is the song that led me to studying the lyrics of other bands and musicians and eventually becoming a music journalist; and becoming a music journalist led to a cross-country move to Oakland, California where music is all around me. So yeah, "East Jesus Nowhere" was my starting point, my fight song, my moment of decision to not stay trapped in the beginning of the end in a mediocre, dead-end life that bored me. And I have no regrets.
What is your fight song?