…And in our haste
To grow up too soon
We left our innocence
On Desert Moon
We were dreamers
From DeYoung and Desert Moon
I was 22 months old in July 1969, when Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon. He died yesterday at the age of 82.
When NASA retired the Space Shuttle Program in July 2011, the event was like an ellipsis of rocket exhaust trailing off into silence. The death of Armstrong completes the fragmented sentence and provides an unofficial end to the first generation of space pioneers.
So much has been written about the impact of space exploration on Generation X. Older generations point to a lack of appreciation for space discovery while historians and demographers argue a collective persona of distrust of large institutions because of tragedies like the Space Shuttle Challenger. Oh, those O-rings.
Interesting, how, despite this ambivalence and the ever-lingering cynicism of Generation X, the image of Neil Armstrong on the moon became an iconic symbol for Gen Xers through MTV. The image was rotoscoped and the American flag was hand-colored in 80s fashion — most notably the trendy combination of hot pink, bright yellow, and lime green. It became representative of the MTV brand.
MTV rocketed to fame in 1981, just four months after NASA launched the Space Shuttle Program. MTV today looks nothing like the endless stream of videos that occupied my high school summers. I endured hours of Elton John videos in hopes of catching that rare spin of Dennis DeYoung’s Desert Moon.
All this aside, the first thing I thought of when I read today that Neil Armstrong had died was that he was born five months and one day after my father. I can’t believe my dad has lived longer than the first man on the moon.