Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Author: Ken Levine
Author: Ken Levine
Ken Levine’s The Me Generation isn’t so much a memoir about his teenage years as it is a very, very long comic monologue. As he has spent considerable time as an Emmy-winning writer for TV shows like Cheers, Frazier, and M*A*S*H, it’s not surprising Levine would recount his memories of the ‘60s with a healthy dose of humor. As his high school and college years were typical of what everyone else went through as well, he needs the punch lines to make his 326 page story memorable.
Of course, it’s easier
to relate to Levine’s past if you too grew up in Woodland Hills and
got to hear all those songs about hot rods and surfing while never
spending any time with either. That’s part of the point.
Until 1965, when Levine asserts the ‘60s really began, youth
culture wasn’t really much different than it had been in the ‘50s.
What did every teenage boy really think about? The girls he couldn’t
get to first base with. “You could never date a girl in your own
grade. Women always seemed to go for the older guys. They went out
with high school boys because they had cars, and then in later years
they went out with guys as old as their fathers because they bought
them cars.” Whether they had a black-and-white or color
set, adolescent males watched the small screen because of
goddesses like Patty Duke, Elizabeth Montgomery, or Barbara Eden.
“Most people watched sitcoms to laugh. I watched them to
masturbate.” When the 60s started getting interesting, Levine took
most of what he saw lightly. For example, Levine thought Love Ins
were fine. They were great picnics were people brought pot instead of
Levine’s working career began at Wallich’s Music City in Topanga Plaza where he filed records and regularly threw out a stoned Neil Young. But there’s not much name dropping as most of Levine’s associations with the rich or famous were pretty much the same as the rest of us—watching from afar. As a gofer during college, he did drive Zsa Zsa Gabor and Moe Howard of the Three Stooges from the airport to their hotels. He had an unsuccessful appearance on The Dating Game. Mostly, Levine provides a hit-and-run timeline of the history of the era with a running commentary making it clear he was another face in the crowd who missed out on the Monterey pop festival and knew nothing about Woodstock until the movie came out. It’s also clear Levine’s first love was radio, and we do get a tour of what AM and FM were all about as Levine slowly broke his way into the business. In the main, however, Levine’s high school years were pretty ordinary. “So “What Really Happened to the Class of 68? We’re all still paying off college loans.”
You don’t need to have grown up on the West Coast to recognize most of the cultural references in The me Generation. But readers who also remember what life was like back in the day will be the ones who most enjoy the jokes and perhaps will want to compare their own mental notes with Levine’s. This isn’t a book to read for the story it tells but rather for how it’s told. Remember—this guy grew up to become one of the most seasoned comic writers in television. I’m pretty sure he now watches sitcoms to laugh. I’m hoping he’s not buying young girls cars unless they’re related . . .