Slate Goes Gray

A special issue on old people.

Last week, the Republican Party nominated John McCain as its candidate for president. As you may have heard, McCain is no spring chicken. Having just turned 72, he would be the oldest man ever elected president of the United States if he wins. McCain’s age has provided much fodder for the nation’s political cartoonists and late night television hosts, who have mercilessly portrayed the candidate as a doddering coot.

Here at Slate, we take the subject of growing old more seriously. Heck, it’s going to happen to all of us someday—if we’re lucky. And so we have commissioned a series of articles on aging and the aged. We wanted to see the world through the eyes of our elders, to explore the ways in which old folks influence our economy, politics, and culture. To walk a mile in their Rockports.


Over the next three days, we will publish a range of stories about the elderly experience. Farhad Manjoo reports on new technologies designed to make Gram and Gramps better drivers. Michael Agger makes a study of senior citizens who, unlike John McCain, have flocked to the Web. Jacob Leibenluft, Slate’s Green Lantern, determines whether old people are good or bad for the environment. Justin Peters explains why the best adult diapers come from Europe.

Elsewhere in the issue, Jessica Winter plumbs our fondness for geezer buddy movies like Grumpy Old Men and The Bucket List. Jody Rosen catalogs the greatest songs about aging and mortality, from Jay-Z’s “30 Something” to the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey.” Sara Dickerman tells you what eating will be like when you’re old. Witold Rybczynski explains why architects never retire.


Throughout the week, Slate will publish diary entries by Leon Despres, a former Chicago alderman, renowned for standing up to the city’s political machine, who will explain what if feels like to be 100 years old. And finally, on Thursday, we will present “80 over 80”—our interactive list of the most powerful octogenarians in America. Who will be top dog? Sumner Redstone? John Paul Stevens? Elaine Stritch? With so many old folks still at the peak of their powers, it’s going to be a tough call. Sorry, Sen. McCain—you’ve still got a few years left before you’ll be in the running. We’ll see what you’re up to in 2016.


Is Grandpa Bad for the Environment? Climate change and the aging population,” by Jacob Leibenluft. Posted Sept. 9, 2008.


Slate V: Calling John McCain Old (Politely)


Best Friends Forever: Grumpy Old Men, The Bucket List, and the undying appeal of the old-buddy movie,” by Jessica Winter. Posted Sept. 9, 2008.


A Visit to My Future: What happens when I try to live like a senior citizen,” by Emily Yoffe. Posted Sept. 9, 2008.

The Oldest Profession: Why don’t architects ever retire?” by Witold Rybczynski. Posted Sept. 9, 2008.


Recycled:A Visit to My Future: What happens when I try to live like a senior citizen,” by Emily Yoffe. Posted Sept. 9, 2008.

Diary of a 100-Year-Old Man: Running across town for some Indian food,” by Leon Despres. Posted Sept. 9, 2008.


Pimp My Buick: Will new technologies make old people safer on the road?” by Farhad Manjoo. Posted Sept. 10, 2008.

What’s the Best Adult Diaper? That depends,” by Justin Peters. Posted Sept. 10, 2008.


The Senior-Citizen Cookbook: How your food needs will change as you get older,” by Sarah Dickerman. Posted Sept. 10, 2008

Diary of a 100-Year-Old Man: Dreams of My Mother, and a Visit From My Grandson,” by Leon Despres. Posted Sept. 10, 2008

Recycled:Naughty Nursing Homes: Is it time to let the elderly have more sex?” by Daniel Engber. Posted Sept. 10, 2008


Spend It While You Can: Turns out money can buy you happiness. But it buys more happiness when you’re young,” by Ray Fisman. Posted Sept. 11, 2008.

Geezers Need Excitement: What happens when old people go online,” by Michael Agger. Posted Sept. 11, 2008.

Oh, the Wrinkles You’ll Get!: The history and aesthetics of the lines on your face,” by Amanda Fortini. Posted Sept. 11, 2008.

The Pensioner’s Playlist: The 25 greatest songs about aging and mortality,” by Jody Rosen. Posted Sept. 11, 2008.

Full Metal Socket: How seniors became cyborgs,” by William Saletan. Posted Sept. 11, 2008.

80 Over 80: The most powerful octogenarians in America.” Posted Sept. 11, 2008.