And by “we” I mean “cool people.” Before WWII, nobody had done anything. We were all basically Hasidic Jews who married the first person we saw and had no idea how to work our genitalia on our wedding night.
Then, they were shipped off to Europe and Africa and Japan and they saw the world. They fucked whores and got tattoos (what are those?) More importantly, they rode motorbikes. When Richie Cunningham asked The Fonz what the secret to being cool was, he skipped over the leather jacket and the hairdo, even the attitude and told Richie to get a motorbike.
I’m not saying WWII wasn’t a living hell. Of course it was. But the ones who lived, experienced life for the first time ever. When they came back, they were expected to go back to the Hasidic life and many of them said, “Fuck that.” They started motorcycle gangs and roamed the country getting into trouble and kicking the shit out of each other. Soon after that, we got the Hollister riot and motorcycle enthusiasts blaming the 1%.
That led to rock ‘n roll and The Wild One and Rebel Without a Cause and wearing a t-shirt as a shirt. Before that, a teenager was just a “young man.” After 1950, he was a thing all his own who didn’t even want to grow up. Shit, he hoped he died before he got old.
So, to all the WWII vets. Thanks for killing Hitler and all that other good stuff but I’d also like to thank you for inventing cool. It didn’t just make adolescence way more fun, it made adolescence.
HERE’s an old interview we did with the WWII vet featured above.