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The 92Y: Trying to be your hip youthful Grandpa

August 21, 2013

The 92nd Street Y is an organization located in New York City’s upper east side which describes itself as “a world-class nonprofit community and cultural center that connects people at every stage of life to the worlds of education, the arts, health and wellness, and Jewish life.” While it’s fair to be skeptical, 92Y actually features some really cool events (I plan to see Malcolm Gladwell speak there in October) and offers some interesting classes for everyone from babies to seniors. In fact, the one event I ever went to there was pretty great – I wrote about it here – David Cross interviewed by Arrested Development co-star Michael Cera.

92Y does have one major problem though – it is fighting the perception that it is a community and cultural center for old people. The organization is indeed very old, established back in 1874. And the perception is mainly the result of a stark reality – the upper east side community, in what the 92Y calls the “Carnegie Hill neighborhood”, is an aging one. To try and build a more youthful membership base, the organization has created a “35 and Under program” whereby it offers special tickets and pricing on events, concerts and discussions to anyone in that age bracket. I purchased my tickets for Cross/Cera that way, getting great seats for just $15 each (that were otherwise $39/each). By purchasing those tickets, I was automatically enrolled in the program, which meant that I would receive “the 35 and Under e-News”, which I am beginning to realize is like getting twitter updates from my grandfather.

The latest email from 35 and Under had the following subject line: Party like it’s 1993! So far, so good. After all, I’d recently put up a post suggesting that 1993 was one of the best years in music ever. So I open up the email, thinking that the 92Y may be on to something. Here’s a bit of what was waiting for me:

90s_email_92Y

Oh no. Oh no no no. Where do I even begin? How about “Double Dare” – the Nickelodeon game show that launched in 1986 and was off the air by 1992. If you are under the age of 35 and nostalgic for Double Dare there is only one possible explanation: You are lying about your age.  Or how about Weird Al? Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that Weird Al peaked in the mid-1980s with hits “Eat It” and “Like a Surgeon“, and by 1993 was largely irrelevant.  Is there anyone, at any age, that at any point in time was not just intrigued, but actually obsessed with Weird Al to the point that you actually want to hear him talking about his “signature brand of satire”? But the coup de grace has to be Michael Bolton. Michael Bolton?! Michael Bolton wasn’t cool to a mid-30s cubicle worker in the 1990s! There is no situation where anyone 35 or under would want to see Michael Bolton perform in 2013, even ironically. Not even the lying Double Dare fan. The only explanation for this trifecta – for someone, anyone, believing that the way to “Party like it’s 1993!” is to get together Marc Summers, Weird Al and Michael Bolton – is that the 92Y decided to put my 85-year old grandfather in charge of programming and he vaguely remembers someone (maybe me, maybe my mom) liking Nickelodeon, Weird Al, and/or Bolton at some point 20 (or was it 30?) years ago. (Dammit, who can remember? I’m getting so old. You’re all a bunch of hippies.)

Or maybe someone just did a little to much “gak.”

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