RUSH: Ah, jeez! I knew it.
STAFF: Happy birthday to you!
RUSH: No matter what I do, no matter how many admonitions.
STAFF: Happy 60th!
RUSH: It’s a birthday cake that has been presented here just now, and those look like… They look Shari’s Berries strawberries on top of a chocolate cake. What kind of cake is it? Chocolate icing I know.
STAFF: It’s chocolate cake.
RUSH: So you got your favorite. You got your favorite: Chocolate. Dawn got her own favorite cake here. She knows I don’t… Well, that’s a sweet card. Where is Snerdley, by the way? He’s still not back in town. Do we know what he’s gonna get back? He’s supposedly back tomorrow. That’s really cool: Come back the day after my birthday. All right, make a wish. I gotta make a wish before I blow out the candles. Three, two, one… (blows) I barely got the second one out. There you have it. Thank you all very much — and thanks to all of you. I’ve been inundated with happy birthday e-mail wishes all week long. They number in the tens of thousands (chuckles) and I appreciate it. I really do.
RUSH: People are asking, ‘What birthday is this?’ It’s number 60 today, ladies and gentlemen. I tell you, I’ve always said, ‘Every year I get older life gets better.’ And it’s still true. I am not yet to the point of saying, ‘Okay, I’ve maxed out.’ Every year life keeps getting better, and it’s still the case.
Ronaldus Magnus turned 60 in 1971. He was still in the middle of his tenure as governor of California when he turned 60. I, of course, turned 60 years of age today. When I was younger, I always wanted to be older, and that hasn’t changed. I hadn’t worried about becoming 60. I don’t worry about becoming 61 because every year has been better than the year before. I know that’s not true for everybody, but I always thought it was gonna be for me ’cause I hated being a kid. I didn’t like not having any control. Everybody older than me seemed to be enjoying life a lot more than I was, so I was envious. I was told, ‘You better cherish your high school years, your college years, ’cause you can’t get ’em back.’ I wouldn’t want ’em back. I didn’t like ’em in the first place. And the more I look at Washington, the more I’m convinced those people never got outta high school. They’re still in it. Everything is about who’s in the big clique, who’s popular. (interruption) Well, I know nobody wants to die, if you look at it that way, but, come on. You know people who worry about getting older.
You know what I found about getting older? The one thing, honestly, everybody else but me seems to look older to me. I don’t in any way feel whatever you’re supposed to feel at 60. I remember having a conversation with someone my age back at WABC in New York way, way back, ’88 to 1990, somewhere in that era, and we were talking about this, getting older, and I was contrasting myself — let’s see, I was 40 in 1991. And I was thinking back when my dad was 40 and this other guy’s dad, too, we were commenting on how our dads at age 40 seemed set. You know, they had lived the active portions of their lives and they were now established and set in and the routine of their life was established. It’s what it was. And I didn’t think when I was at 40, I didn’t feel at all the way I saw my dad at 40. So my friend and I began discussing this, and he had a fascinating theory, one which I have now stolen and used as my own, and that is that our fathers’ generation and our grandfathers’ generation, they had to grow up a lot sooner than we did, the Baby Boomers.
If you are a regular listener here you know that I believe the Baby Boom generation has had to invent its traumas. We’ve had to invent our problems to convince us that our lives have been tough, because compared to our parents and grandparents we don’t know what tough is. Now, I know everything’s relative and that life isn’t easy. But this generation did not face two concurrent threats to its existence as in World War I and World War II, plus the Great Depression. These people, our parents and grandparents, at 18 they knew that life was about things much larger than themselves, and the Baby Boom generation still has people who think life’s about nothing but them. Me, me, me. Everything’s about my comfort; my psychological health; my what have you. We have had so much time on our hands that we’ve been able to focus on ourselves like our parents didn’t have the time to because they didn’t have the prosperity that we had, they didn’t have the wealth, nor the opportunity for it. But they created it. They set the stage for all of that. And as a result, we’ve had to invent our traumas, our problems, and we didn’t have to grow up as fast as they did.
At age 40, some of them were worn out. My dad was at China-Burma in World War II, but you had members of that generation all over Europe and in the Pacific theater as well. You had the Germans on one side, the Japanese on the other. Then you had Khrushchev showing up banging his shoe at the United Nations. I remember my grandparents weren’t taking any chances with that. They didn’t just think it was theatrics. You know, they believed it. When Khrushchev came to the UN and started banging his shoe and said, ‘We will bury you, we will bury you.’ ‘Not on my watch you won’t,’ and they believed it. That was in the midst here of the arms buildup and the Cubans and choosing to go with the Soviets. And they had the Cuban missile crisis and there was a genuine threat back then, genuine fear.
Now, we’ve had our wars. We’ve had Vietnam; we’ve had Iraq; we have Afghanistan; we’ve got terrorism now. But we’ve not had to mobilize the whole nation. I remember some years ago during the early days of the Iraq war, this might have been 2004-2005, I went down to Miami with some friends for the weekend, and they wanted to take me and show me the Versace mansion, which had been turned into a club of sorts, a hotel type club. Big Friday night in Miami, went down to South Beach and so forth, and I was struck, most of the people in this place were young. They were 21, 25, some I guess were even younger than that. And they were all there to be met, hopefully some wanted to meet, others wanted to be met, but it was a marketplace for the beautiful people to run into other beautiful people and hope to have fun the rest of the night. I’m thinking at the same time that’s going on, we had people their age, men and women both who had volunteered to join the US Armed Forces and they were over in Iraq. And this is at the time where the media is not supportive of this at all because they’re bashing Bush. The country’s not at all unified here on this particular war effort, not like it was during World War II or World War I. And it’s more like, I guess, strains of Vietnam.
And I was just struck in a fit of pride, actually, over what a great country we are and thankfully we have so many people who continue to take life seriously and make it work, the country work, and this is not to condemn the people that were at the Versace mansion Friday night. I mean, nobody was making ’em join the military. They didn’t have to. They were there and they were pursuing purely hedonistic and sybaritic delights, purely. And for all I know, they couldn’t have cared less that what was happening in Iraq, couldn’t have cared less that there might have been weapons of mass destruction, or maybe they did know and they were just trying to run away from it so they didn’t have to face it. Who knows, doesn’t matter, because at the same time hundreds of thousands of people their age had volunteered. And then I remember having to listen to the media and the Democrats castigate those who had joined, by saying, ‘Well, what would you expect? They’re uneducated; they come from certain geographical parts of the country; they really don’t have a future, given the Bush economy. The military’s their only way out.’ I mean it was offensive even back then to listen to the people who volunteered for the US Armed Forces to be impugned and maligned the way they were. Yet they did it anyway.
I just know that that was not the case back in World War II. World War II, my parents’ generation, their parents, because of necessity, there was a singular focus. You go back and look at that war effort and the armaments that people banded together to build in a hurry, all of the weapons, the airplanes, Navy ships. It was profound the output of this country back then. Even go back to the Great Depression, grandparents generation, look at all the things that were built in five years during the Great Depression: The Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, the Hoover Dam, the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building came in ahead of schedule, built during the Depression, back in the days where we actually built things. And back then there wasn’t talk of extended unemployment benefits. There wasn’t talk of national health care. That mind-set just didn’t exist. And because those things didn’t exist people had to do what they could to fend for themselves, and if that meant picking up, moving to San Francisco, working for whatever you got paid in a dangerous job like building the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bay Bridge or the Hoover Dam or the Empire State Building, it’s what you did, you found work wherever you could. It’s just an entirely different mind-set.
My point is that people of our generation, one of the reasons that I, at 60, don’t feel any different than when I was 25 or 30 in a lot of ways, is because of my friend’s theory that we’ve all had a lot of luxury. We haven’t had to grow up as fast. Some of us have chosen to. But it wasn’t a necessity. There’s far more wealth today than there was then. There are far more outlets for wealth. Technological invention and creation has led to lifestyles which are more comfortable, in a creature comfort way, and economically comfortable than ever before. So it’s a partial explanation. This all came about because I was telling my friend, that, ‘You know, I’m 40 now, and my dad when he was 40 seemed 60.’ I don’t think anybody when I was 40 looked at me and thought I was 60. Now, maybe everybody thinks their parents are old, I don’t know. But I don’t think even now people look at me and say, ‘Oh, wow, look at that old fogy 60 year old.’ I don’t think it happens. As I say, I’m sure all of you feel the same way, everybody else looks older, but I don’t. I look in the mirror, I don’t look any older than I always have, although I know that’s not true, but everybody else looks like they’re getting older. I don’t know. It all fascinates me.
But my point is I have never feared getting older. I’ve always wanted to get older because I always thought that every year would be better than the next. And, in my case, being honest, taking things on balance, it has been the case. It has been true. So thank you to all of you who have been sending in your well wishes. I appreciate it, I really do, and we’ll talk about this again I guess next year on the same day. Oh, and, by the way, this monologue, just to show you what I’m talking about, this monologue was delivered to you by somebody who is totally deaf in both ears. If this had happened to me 25 years ago or 30 — and I love to explain this to people — if I’d lost my hearing 25 or 30 years earlier, it would have been the end of my career because I can’t do this, nobody can not being able to hear. And without the invention of cochlear implants, which enable the totally deaf to reconnect with their environment and be able to hear, there would have been no way I could have continued to do this.
Now, let’s look at the timeline — to show you how fortune I feel — let’s look at the timeline of humanity, straight line, left to right. Whatever the length of time, I don’t care the arguments about how long humanity has walked the earth, I don’t know how long it is but whatever that length is, my time on it is no bigger than a speck of dust. So in the timeline of humanity, my time on this planet needs a microscope to be seen. That’s one way of looking at how insignificant we all are, by the way. On the other hand, look at the odd, good fortune of timing. In the timeline of humanity where I am but a speck, the place in that timeline where I am a speck happens to coincidence with humanity’s technological invention and capability having advanced to the point of inventing things to let the deaf hear. Now, I know, Beethoven was deaf and look what he still did, too. That’s superhuman to me, knowing that. But some people have perfect pitch. I don’t. Some people know notes. Sing me a C, and they can do it, deaf or not.
The point is I am struck by the profundity of that, if that’s the right word.
Also, I happened to have come along and live at a time within the realm of the invention of radio. There are a lot of things to be really thankful for in a Godly divine way, as far as I’m concerned. And that’s why I think all of this, I think life itself, as you know, is precious and not to be trifled with. And I feel blessed. I usually tell you that each and every Thanksgiving and Christmas. But it’s true. And the one thing I will acknowledge getting older, all of that hits me even harder as I get older. And the awe I have for people who can do what I can’t do or who have chosen to do what I haven’t, my awe and appreciation for them grows and grows and grows. So getting older is a progression of things, there’s no question. You start thinking things in different ways, but I still remain amazed at how young I feel based on when I was a kid how old 60 years old appeared to me. I said: ‘You think they still get up and drive? You think they still want to get out of bed?’