On Turning Fifty


A hundred or so of my close, personal friends surprised me last Saturday on the anniversary of my 50th birthday. It was a wonderfully disgusting exhibit of overindulgence… a perfect example of the Hollywood atmosphere that sometimes pervades both my professional and personal life.  It was definitely the party of the season, despite the fact that it was held in my honor.  There was expensive champagne and hors d’oeurves served by tall, mysterious Asian men who bowed and smiled and said “Yes sir,” and “Right away, ma’am.”  Indirect lightening shot lasers of strobes from the assorted diamonds, baubles and beads adorning the heads, shoulders and the occasional tooth of those in attendance.

And those in attendance were the creme de la creme.  Hell, most of my friends are never on the “A” list of parties, so all walked tall and haughty with their chests thrown out, pleased to be recognized (if only for this one night) as a part of the chosen.

It was freakdom at its finest.  There were ruby lips and shapely hips, powders and poofs and everything loose, glistening eyes and shimmering thighs, deep tans and pales, eyeliner, rouge and fake fingernails.

And then there were the ladies.

it was a glorious evening right out of the ’80s.  A step back in time when, for one night only, Disco reigned supreme and I could dance.  We did everything, all the time and I didn’t hate anybody.

What a night.

How do I feel at 50?  No different than at 49 or 40 or 30 for that matter.  How am I perceived at 50?  There’s a question you must ask yourself.  What do you think of me? (By the way, you can keep all negative opinions to yourself.)

In our business, perception is reality.  Although it’s an easy cop out to use, age has nothing to do with it.  (You generally find people who say, “Age has nothing to do with it,’ as being young or old…never in the middle.)  It wasn’t long ago when I was the youngest, most successful programmer the world knew.  I was always the new kid…always the baby in the group.

Now, I’m surrounded by a group of people who look at the Gold records on my wall and say, “Hey, that was my mother’s favorite group.”  (That’s right, bitch.  I broke “Double Dutch Bus!”)

Worry not, I also have Goo Goo Dolls and Eagle-Eye Cherry on the hardware on the walls.  And not a week goes by when I don’t remind my staff who was the first person to quote, “When you come to my town…bow down.”

It wasn’t so long ago that I remember the “new” format that was to replace Top 40.  Alternative was the “be all and end all” and if you weren’t 20-something with a shaved head, an earring and a tattoo, you were  (God forbid) “Old School.”

Suddenly, anyone with 10 years of experience is “Old School.”  It is said with distaste and a rolling of the eyes by the post pubescent posers in radio and records.

It didn’t take long for that circle to become full.  With ratings free falling like Tom Petty’s old tune and record revenues going south, a return to the glory days was championed by those who who had, “Been there, done that” and were doing it again.  “Old School” is back in vogue.  Just in time for my 50th.

The truth is, age has nothing to do with anything except senior citizen discounts.  It isn’t how many, but how much.  Those who criticize the older people in our business are too stupid to realize there is a reason why we got here.  I’ve heard people referring to others in our business (and probably me behind my back) as an old fool.

Trust me.  You don’t get old by being a fool.  There are a lot young guys whose careers are dead as a doornail.

There are plenty of people who are younger in years than me who “retired” from our business because they couldn’t keep up.  Another group of guys older than me are still going strong.  Age has nothing to do with it.  People say that to continue to be successful in our industry, we must stay young.  That isn’t the case.  And besides, it’s impossible.  Hey, I know I still look good, but I don’t look young.To continue to succeed in this business, you have to stay current.

No matter what your age, you must constantly reinvent yourself or you will become a recurrent, then a Power Gold and finally, off the playlist.  Once you’re off, you won’t get back on without a remake.  If you aren’t moving forward, you’re falling behind.  There’s no staying the same in our business.

So, how does it feel to be 50?  I was walking with my daughters last month in Las Vegas when I saw my image in a mirror and did a double-take.

I’ve grown up to be what I most admired when I was younger: A good looking, older man with money…and two young, beautiful women on his arm.

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