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Silent Generation

Arts & Culture Podcasts

Silent Generation is a Chicago based cultural analysis podcast that covers topics in art, fashion, politics, and urbanism. Find us on Instagram: silent.generation


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Silent Generation is a Chicago based cultural analysis podcast that covers topics in art, fashion, politics, and urbanism. Find us on Instagram: silent.generation



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Ep. 28: Fast Food Culture w/ Mathieu [TEASER]

Full episode available on Patreon: Many themes thus far discussed on Silent Generation are present in fast food culture: car-centrism, postwar decline, Americanism, and uniforms. This week the boys are joined by Mathieu (who goes by Sleepy on Discord) to talk about McDonald’s, CosMc’s, Taco Bell, In-N-Out Burger, Wendy’s, and Culver’s in detail. Chicago has four (in)famous McDonald’s locations that they pay particular attention to: Rock 'n' Roll McDonald's, CrackDonald’s, Jungle McDonald’s, and the McDonald's Global Menu Restaurant. Amongst other things they discuss the decline of fast food architecture from its Googie architecture highs, chains that are holding on for dear life like KewPee Hamburgers and Quizno’s, and their favorite discontinued menu items. Links: White Castle #16 Googie 101: A Space-Age Pop-Architecture Primer Tokyo Toni 80 Pieces of Chicken McDonald’s Broke My Heart from Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History Podcast Rock N Roll McDonalds by Wesley Willis Why McDonald’s looks sleek and boring now Nonstandard McDonalds The site of the former “jungle Mcdonald’s” on Google Maps The rise and fall of Wendy’s sun rooms Breaking Points: We Were TRICKED By Red Lobster Endless Shrimp Excuse! What Happened To Chipotle? Artwork: Art Deco McDonald’s from Nonstandard McDonald’s Clifton Hill, Melbourne, Australia Recorded on 6/9/2024


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Ep. 27: Sportswear

On this week’s episode Joseph and Nathan examine sportswear worn by both athletes and their fans. Episode 14 of Silent Generation already covered Olympic sports, so this week’s episode focuses on major league sports. They cover each of the following: baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, and soccer (plus rugby, road cycling, and tennis for good measure). Amongst other things they discuss how White Sox players briefly wore shorts in the 1970s, how rappers popularized hockey jerseys in the 1990s, how cyclists were depicted in The Triplets of Belleville, and how coaches (like Tom Landry and Pat Riley) dressed better prior to league-wide contracts. Links: Sportswear Pinterest Board American Apparel’s Poly Mesh Football Jersey Gay baseball raglan meme 1, Gay baseball raglan meme 2 How Hockey Jerseys Became Standard Wear for Fans When a Sweater Defined One of the Best Rivalries The Rise Of Athleisure In The Fashion Industry And What It Means For Brands Artwork: John Stockton Recorded on 6/2/2024


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Ep. 26: Nuclear Energy Discourse w/ Madison Hilly

Why has the general public been skeptical of nuclear energy, seemingly even before the technology existed? Joining the boys on this week’s episode of Silent Generation is Madison Hilly, founder and director of the Campaign for a Green Nuclear Deal, to discuss how the discourse around nuclear energy has been heavily influenced by its depictions in popular culture. They examine The China Syndrome, The Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Chernobyl (2019) to examine how erroneous depictions of nuclear waste and nuclear meltdowns have fomented fear. Amongst other things they talk about when Madi went viral for taking a picture next to nuclear waste while pregnant, how the baby boomer strain of environmentalism leans more “conservationist,” why nuclear waste and slime in childrens’ media is always depicted as being green, and how left wing opposition to nuclear energy seems to come from subconscious fears that radioactive material isn’t “natural.” Links: The Campaign for a Green Nuclear Deal Madison Hilly’s Twitter Pregnant Woman Poses With 'Nuclear Waste' To Prove Point About Radiation (Newsweek) By the Waters of Babylon by Stephen Vincent Benét Cornelia Hesse-Honegger’s Mutations Science Behind Science Fiction: How do Teenage Turtles become Mutant Ninjas? Studies Show That, As We Age, Our Ability To See Vivid Colors Decline Holtec reports “remarkable progress” towards restart of Palisades Artwork: Nuclear power plant LCCN, Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division digital ID highsm.13019, CC0 Recorded on 5/26/2024


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Ep. 25: Moral Codes [TEASER]

Full episode available on Patreon: Many parents today tell their children to simply “be a good person” and do not offer them moral guidelines beyond that. “Being a good person” isn’t a robust enough moral framework to deal with the complexities of everyday life, so many people resort to creating their own moral codes (either completely independently, or through the help of internet gurus like Jordan Peterson). On this week’s episode of Silent Generation, Nathan and Joseph reflect on their own moral codes and talk about the origins and justifications of the rules they’ve made for themselves. Amongst other things they discuss how gay culture doesn’t offer gay men a moral framework, how you should aim to be contrarian only 50% of the time, how the public has become tired of plotlines that deal with moral gray areas, and how modern Hollywood has only offered the public antiheroes in place of actual heroes. Links: Jordan Peterson - Are You a Good Person? The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness Artwork: The School of Athens by Raphael Recorded on 5/19/2024


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Ep. 24: Bike Skepticism

As previously noted, Nathan has a general aversion to bikes and bike infrastructure. But where does his “bike skepticism” come from, and why do many other Americans feel the same way? On this week’s episode of Silent Generation Joseph gets to the root of Nathan’s bias (the temperament of cyclists, tacky bike lane infrastructure, and the “aesthetics of control”) and makes the case for bike-oriented cities. Amongst other things they discuss how most Americans approach biking from a sports angle, the way streets were shared by multiple transit modes in the early 20th century, how biking becomes less viable in the Winter, and how Los Angeles has the potential to become America’s foremost biking city. Links: The new Silent Generation Patreon! San Francisco streetcar footage from a hundred years ago Years and Years by Russell T Davies On Adam Levine's tattoos Why Many Cities Suck (and Los Angeles Doesn't Have to) Strong Town’s idea of “complex vs. complicated” Artwork: AI generated Recorded on 5/12/2024


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Ep. 23: Men's Jewelry

In Western culture men often wear little to no jewelry, often opting to only wear a wedding ring and/ or a watch. What meaning can be discerned from the jewelry that Western men do wear and why don’t they wear more? On this week’s episode of Silent Generation the boys begin by discussing the form and function of the types of jewelry men most commonly wear: rings, cufflinks, tie pins, watches, necklaces, and belt buckles. Amongst other things they discuss the popularity of pearl jewelry amongst male queerbaiters, when men’s jewelry becomes a red flag, why wearable tech lost its potential to be considered jewelry, Nathan’s time working in the jewelry industry, and how millennial pink was a stepping stone into alternative fashion for preppy people in the late 2010s. Links: Rings & Their Meaning by Gentleman’s Gazette Fran Lebowitz wearing Calder cufflinks in Scorsese’s “Pretend It’s a City” how’d you know im uncut meme “I got court” starterpack meme Artwork: Screenshot from The Talented Mr. Ripley Recorded on 5/5/2024


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Ep. 22: Seapunk 2 w/ Zombelle

On this week’s first ever sequel episode the boys are joined by Shan Beaste, best known by her stage name Zombelle, who was one of the co-creators of the Seapunk movement and aesthetic. As detailed in episode 12, Seapunk (2011-2014) was a ‘90s inspired aquatic subculture that Nathan participated in during high school. Zombelle recently re-released her seminal seapunk album Tropicult (remastered by Myrrhkaba) which fortuitously led to her and Nathan connecting over Instagram and spurred this week’s episode. In this reexploration of seapunk, Shan and the boys discuss Shan’s early musical history and life story, confirm that she coined the term slimepunk, reiterate the place of mermaids in seapunk culture, attribute the idea of the “internet subculture formula” to Zombelle, and speculate what second wave seapunk (or “seapunk 2”) could look like. Any former (or current) seapunk listeners are encouraged by Shan to send testimonials, photographs, or other ephemera from Seapunk’s existence to for an impending book she is writing on seapunk’s history! Links: Zombelle’s SoundCloud Zombelle’s Instagram Zombelle’s Seapunk Spotify playlist The Instagram page The seapunk Wikipedia article Don't Call It #Tumblrwave The Complete CORAL RECORDS INTERNAZIONALE catalog from Random Aesthetic Generator New miracle weight loss drug! by Praefoco21 Artwork: Provided by Zombelle Intro song: Bad Creation by Zombelle Recorded on 4/28/2024


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Ep. 21: Domestic Travel

Americans generally travel domestically in four ways: road trips, air travel, train travel, and boat travel. The boys start by sharing anecdotes about their experiences with each type of domestic travel; Joseph says that he traveled for free on military aircraft as a child and Nathan shares how he grew up in a house with a boat in the backyard along the Chicago river. They then question if Americans prioritize cost, convenience, or culture when making decisions on how to travel both domestically and abroad. Amongst other things they discuss Joseph’s recent bachelor party road trip, national parks attendance, the Indiana Dunes, the South Shore Line, the Catskills, and RVs. Links: Top 10 Places to Build High Speed Rail In the U.S. by CityNerd Run Lola Run why would i fly it's only a 14 hour drive Notorious Gridlock of Colorado's I-70 (Upzoned Episode) Colorado’s I-70 Has America’s Most Notorious Ski Traffic. Is There a Solution? by Gloria Liu This Town Was Paradise, Then Everyone Started Working From Home (VICE documentary) Artwork: Meeting the train, 1954 by Ross Orr Recorded on 4/24/2024


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Ep. 20: Civil War w/ Patrick

Trailers for Alex Garland’s Civil War have tantalized the general public (and the hosts of Silent Generation) for months with scenes of explosions and themes of political polarization. This weekend the movie debuted as the #1 film in the nation, being the first A24 film to do so. On this week’s episode of Silent Generation the boys are joined by their friend Patrick to discuss the film and share personal theories of what a second civil war in America would look like. Amongst other things they discuss journalism, horseshoe theory, the role of sanctions in a second civil, Texit/ Calexit, and finally whether or not they personally support the idea of a national divorce. Links: Civil War trailer The Sound of Silence by Alfredo Jaar Richard Mosse’s photography Introducing the Idea of Hyperobjects Is CIVIL WAR Looming? ft. Kim Iversen Anthropology and Counterinsurgency by Montgomery McFate Recorded on 4/14/2024


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Ep. 19: Hobos

This week Joseph and Nathan discuss an American cultural figure that can be found at the cross section of many themes thus far covered in Silent Generation: the early 1900s, train travel, ethical codes, and situational homosexuality. Hobos are perceived as yesteryear’s equivalent of the modern homeless person but they were vastly different, hobos were migrant workers with a complex system of rules and cultural values. During the episode the boys pay particular attention to hobo landmarks in Chicago such as West Madison Street, Bughouse Square, and Ben Reitman’s hobo college. Amongst other things they discuss Kitt Kittredge, the umwelt, how the word “gay” originated from hobo slang, The Dawn of Everything, and crust punks. Links: Hobos, Wandering in America, 1870-1940 by Richard Wormser On Hobos and Homelessness by Nels Anderson The Damndest Radical by Roger A. Bruns The Hobo Ethical Code The Case Against Travel by Agnes Collard Alex Kaschuta’s tweet about stigmatization Death of the American Hobo - VICE Welcome to Oogleville by Gordon Lamb Artwork: This photograph (from 1870 - 1930) is from the George Grantham Bain collection at the Library of Congress. There are no known copyright restrictions on the use of this work. Recorded on 4/8/2024


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Ep. 18: Electroclash w/ Mayalabae

Electroclash is a musical genre that was most popular from 1999 to 2005 and is described as being a 50/50 mixture of electronic and rock music with an ‘80s bent. Unlike prior electronic genres, live singing, dancing, and stage performance were deployed by electroclash musicians who wanted to channel the theatricality and sex appeal of 1980s rock stars. To help explore the genre Joseph and Nathan are joined by Maya, also known as Mayalabae, a Chicago native who is now a DJ in Montreal. They begin by playing four of the biggest hits to come out of Electroclash and then identify common characteristics across the genre. Amongst other things they discuss Nathan’s favorite song as a child, Fischerspooner’s lecture at SAIC, the normie lows of the mid-2000s, the documentary Clash of Cultures: The Rise of the New Electro Scene, Liquid Sky (1982), and Lady Gaga’s accidental actualization of the electroclash agenda. Links: Maya’s Electroclash Playlist Nathan’s Electroclash Playlist Clash of Cultures: The Rise of the New Electro Scene (2002) Liquid Sky (1982) Party Monster (2003) Get Happy by Happy Thought Hall Electroclash: A Brief Cultural History Artwork: Screenshot of Miss Kittin from Clash of Cultures: The Rise of the New Electro Scene All song clips used in this episode are claimed as fair use Recorded on 3/30/2024


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Ep. 17: Vaporwave w/ Drume

Vaporwave is a 1980’s inspired musical genre and aesthetic that thrived on Tumblr from 2012-2020. Broadly, vaporwave musicians slow down and remix samples of 1980’s songs in order to evoke nostalgic memories of the Reagan era, Yuppies, and globalization. On this week’s vaporwave episode of Silent Generation, Joseph and Nathan are joined by Peter (a trance musician known as David James Drume), who previously made vaporwave music under the name Eleven Eastern. They begin by briefly discussing the genre’s musical origins before delineating the aesthetic elements of vaporwave art: early 3D graphics, Greek New Media Sh*t, Japanese text, Japanese fine art, and cityscapes. Amongst other things they discuss Joseph’s high school 3D animation class, New Classical architecture, fears of Japanese ascendency during the 1980s, vaporwave’s appeal to suburban men, and the perennial popularity of vaporwave music on Chinese urbanist Tiktok accounts. Links: Drume’s Soundcloud Resuscitation Hymn by Drume Eleven Eastern on Tumblr Greek New Media Sh*t Flossing by Six Dogs レッドYOLO Cityviews888 TradCath E-Girl Summit Artwork: AI Recorded on 3/17/2024


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Ep. 16: Yuppies

Yuppies get a bad rap. In his seminal work The Culture of Narcissism (1979), Christopher Lasch described how the coming generation of baby boomers would broadly exhibit symptoms of pathological narcissism such as hedonism, envy, greed, and an aversion to aging. Yuppies (young urban professionals) migrated en masse in cities during the1980s and were the apotheosis of their generation’s narcissistic pathology; they had wildly successful careers but each promotion and salary increase was never enough. On this week’s episode of Silent Generation, Joseph and Nathan begin by acknowledging these traits but then approach Yuppies from a warmer angle, examining the beauty of their clothing and expressing gratitude for the ways in which they helped revitalize cities during the 1980s. Amongst other things they discuss sweater vests, slicked back hair, shoulder pads, and if Trump was a Yuppie. They then conclude by discussing Yuppies in a modern context, addressing if they still exist and contemplating where you can find them in Chicago. Links: Yuppies Pinterest Board The Culture of Narcissism by Christopher Lasch The Yuppie Turns 35 by Luke Seemann The Political Distinctiveness of Young Professionals: "Yuppies" or "New Class"? Eric and Donald Trump jr.’s slicked back hair How the biggest yuppie of the 1980s became the white working class’s president Whatever Happened to the Yuppie by JPCrocks The Yuppie Rap Pajama Crawl The New Yorker’s politically polarized duplex cover Artwork: Lisa Diserio and Richard Ryan dressed for success on Fifth Avenue in New York City Recorded on 3/10/2024


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Ep. 15: Chainmail w/ Sky Cubacub

Sky Cubacub is a local artist who designs custom clothing for the full spectrum of gender and ability through their clothing line Rebirth Garments. While the majority of the garments Sky now makes are made out of stretchy spandex material, much of their early work was made out of chainmail and they remain one of the World’s foremost chainmail artisans. On this week’s episode of Silent Generation, Nathan (former Rebirth Garments intern) gets to interview Sky and explore the symbolic meaning of chainmail in Sky’s work and in broader culture.Together they discuss buscars, Radical Visibility, Princess Irulan’s chainmail look in Dune pt. 2, and how listeners can get started making chainmail. Links: Sky’s Instagram Rebirth Garment’s Instagram Rebirth Garment’s Shop Sky’s YOUmedia chainmaille videos Chained by Rebecca Mojica The Ring Lord Artwork: Pansarskjorta - Livrustkammaren - 19247 Creative common liscense provided by Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armoury) Recorded on 3/3/2024


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Ep. 14: The Olympics

In anticipation of the impending Summer 2024 Paris Olympic Games, Joseph and Nathan question why the games seem to appeal to people who are otherwise uninterested in sports outside of the Olympics on this week’s episode. They point to the opening ceremony, “hometown” athletes, and (comparative) lack of corporate advertising. They then address the highlights and lowlights of the 5 most recent Summer Olympic Games: Athens (2004), Beijing (2008), London (2012), Rio de Janeiro (2016), and Tokyo (2020). Amongst other things they discuss host city public transit expansion projects, the velodrome in the Chicago suburbs, the dark side of the Olympics, their favorite Olympians, rugby, and how cute the 2024 game’s mascots are. Links: London 2012: Indian Gatecrasher at Opening Ceremony Identified The Tokyo Olympic’s Gymnasium Poland by Lil Yachty The Good, the Bad, & the Snowy of Salt Lake City Transit IOC Salaries Artwork: Flickr: Rome Olympics 1960 - Opening Day Recorded on 3/3/2024


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Ep. 13: The Fresh Coast w/ David

Shifting to fresh water, why does America undervalue one of its greatest natural resources? The Great Lakes are in many ways culturally invisible; many Americans underestimate their size and economic importance. On this week’s episode of Silent Generation the boys are joined by their friend David (a recent transplant and Great Lakes enthusiast) to discuss how the Midwest needs to be divided into the Great Lakes and the Great Plains in order to boost the region. The former should be rebranded as America’s third coast, the “Fresh Coast,” in order to start making the region more attractive to incoming climate refugees from the Sun Belt. They also discuss the “Dirty Coast,” the idea of the logo map, Michigan’s Pure Michigan ad campaign, their predictions for A24’s upcoming Civil War film, and the “Jell-O Belt.” Links: The Great Lakes shipping routes graphic The Death and Life of The Great Lakes by Dan Eagan How to Hide an Empire by Daniel Immerwahr Immewahr’s Logo Map tweet Pure Michigan’s Steam Locomotive Ad Great Lakes’ ice cover doing almost the unthinkable Artwork: Great Lakes including Canals and Tributary Navigable Streams, 1948 David Rumsey Map Collection, David Rumsey Map Center, Stanford Libraries Recorded on 2/18/2024


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Ep. 12: Seapunk

Seapunk was a subculture and musical genre that emerged in 2011 after people started sharing ‘90s aquatic imagery on Tumblr, and Nathan (Silent Generation host and ex-Seapunk) gravitated toward it while he was a diver in high school and adopted the aesthetic. While Seapunk, Nathan created an extensive 120 slide slideshow that documented the Seapunk subculture as it was actively happening that he shares with Joseph on week’s episode of Silent Generation. They walk through Seapunk’s origins, founders (Lill Internet, Ultrademon, Zombelle, Unicorn Kid), fashion, music, fame, lull period, resurgence, and permanent decline. Amongst other things they detail Grimes’s involvement with Seapunk, the week when both Rinhanna performed Diamonds on SNL & Azealia Banks dropped her Atlantis music video, Slimepunk, Icepunk, and Nathan's many close calls with meeting other Seapunks. Links: Nathan’s Seapunk Slidedeck Artwork: Kevin Heckart Recorded on 2/11/2024 All song clips used in this episode are claimed as fair use


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Ep. 11: The '70s

The ‘70s can be construed as being one of the darkest decades in American history. Crises such as stagflation, declining union membership, the 1973-1975 recession, the Energy Crisis, and the Vietnam War all occurred simultaneously. Said clothing produced during the ‘70s showed a shallow optimism which can be seen in garments like newsboy caps, satin shirts, bell bottom jeans, tube socks, and platform shoes. In addition they discuss the dominant colors of the ‘70s (brown, avocado green, and harvest gold), the consumer rights movement, yoga pants, and share intel they gathered from family members who were alive during the ‘70s. Links: The ‘70s Pinterest Board How Color Choices Echo the Economic Climate and Why It Matters The Last Days of Disco men_satinshirts Artwork: Pauline and Dairn, New York, 1970 CC BY 2.0 DEED, Attribution 2.0 Generic Recorded on 2/8/2024


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Ep. 10: Cowboys w/ Kone Ranger

This week the boys are joined by Kone, a local fashion designer who co-owns the eponymous Kone Ranger clothing brand along with his brother Kevin. Kone Ranger opened up a permanent location in Avondale in 2022 to offer Chicagoans the opportunity to buy handmade Western-inspirted garments. But what do cowboys mean to Kone? To answer this question, they begin by critiquing both the function and form of the various elements that make up a cowboy’s’ outfit: cowboy hats, handkerchiefs, Western shirts, chaps, and cowboy boots. They then address broader ideas such as the connection between cowboys and knights, the appropriation of Western clothing in other regions of the country, the difference between cowboy uniforms and cowboy costumes, and gay cowboy films (Broke Back Mountain and Power of the Dog). Links: The Cultural Myth of the Cowboy, or, How the West Was Won by Jennifer Moskowitz Mark Maggiori’s paintings ‘Hey Y’all!’ Tries Friend From New Jersey Sweetgrass by Lucien Castaing-Taylor Artwork provided by Kone Ranger Recorded on 1/28/2024


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Ep. 9: Department Stores

Department stores are in many ways the ultimate third place. You can use them to meet up with friends, to avoid the elements, to get a bite to eat, to look at interesting displays, to get advice on your wardrobe, and to buy a wide variety of consumer products. So why are they declining and what can be done about it? This week Joseph and Nathan begin by talking about the early history of department stores (with particularly sharp focus on Chicago) before talking about their personal experiences in department stores. Amongst other things they discuss The Crystal Palace, Goth Target, Richard Nickel, the connection between department stores and the death of the flaneur, and Chicago’s North Lawndale community area. Links: On the Birth of the Flaneuse by the Flaneuse Project IT’SUGAR The Robinson-Patman Act Levy’s in Nashville, TN The Department Store is Dead by Lovewhatyousell Glitching through the matrix at the State Street Macy’s by its.murt Recorded on 1/27/2024