Come Ci Si Sente ad Avere 19 Anni?

Welcome back!
And say “hello” to 19!!

Yes, “19,” as in Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen.” Or as in (to borrow from our 2020 countdown) here comes your “19th Nervous Breakdown,” courtesy of the Rolling Stones. And, of course, there’s the watershed event of the 19th Constitutional amendment (which we actually touched on yesterday), granting women the right to vote.

Kind of cool to see some of our countdown stuff just sort of seamlessly cross over, isn’t it?

Take our recent remembrance of stories involving bicycles, for example, and then consider the 1979 classic,
Breaking Away.

I know I’m dating myself with this one. (Man, what else is new?!) But if this story isn’t one you’re familiar with, dial up Netflix or some other such app, and spend some time visiting the farmland and abandoned quarries
of Bloomington, Indiana.

In any event, let’s join Cyril a gangly, humorous, guitar-playing ex-hoopster (played to a tee by a then 21-year-old Daniel Stern, who went on to co-star in films like Diner and Home Alone, eventually becoming best remembered as the  voice of the adult Kevin Arnold in the iconic “Wonder Years”), who, along with his buddies, Mike (a bitter former local football star with a lot to prove, an early role for the now-renown Dennis Quade), Moocher, an undersized, though, fiery tough guy who rises above his vertically challenged frame (at that time, primarily known for his turn as Kelly Leak, truant, turned little league baseball star, in the memorable Bad News Bears movies, Jackie Earle Haley went on to reinvent himself, eventually scoring an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor in Little Children), and finally Dave (a quiet dreamer who uses his passion for bicycle racing to transform himself from a Bloomington, IN townie or “cutter” [more on that term later] into an ardent foreign exchange student, borrowing his faux name from a once-famous Italian opera singer. Dennis Christopher, who went on make a name for himself as Olympic sprinter Charlie Paddock in the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire and the original TV adaptation of Stephen King’s It), is trying to figure out what life holds for them in their late teens.

“When you’re 16, they call it sweet sixteen, and when you’re 18, you get to drink and vote and see dirty movies. What the hell do you get to do when you’re 19?”

What the hell do you do indeed? And the four close buddies spend the entire movie (again, a cinematic gem that’s truly a must-see) showing us what “19” means.

And in the course of achieving that valuable, but sometimes painful maturation, our quartet of “cutters” (a disparaging moniker doled out by the wealthy Indiana University students who resent the locals) reminds us that molding and shaping ourselves takes work, guts, and heart.

So, here’s to countdown day 19, age 19, and all those years before and after that make all of us who we are.

Have a great night, gang.

Looking forward to sharing more musings tomorrow.


“It never gets easier; you just go faster.” – Greg Lemond, first non-European bike racer to win the
Tour de France.

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