September 22, 2003


Ken Layne on the era of high hair and low everything else:

Some people loved the '80s, or at least convinced themselves it wasn't the worst time for everything, just because they happened to be growing up in the era. Well, I sure remember it and remember it as being hell. AIDS, acid rain, "modern rock," hair metal, The Cosby Show, Ratt, "Thriller," Melrose Place, "Ice," those ugly-ass mini-pickups from Datsun, Jerry Falwell ... a real shitstorm.

Readers will also recoil at the memory of Hey, Dad!, Hawthorn premierships, and herpes. Not all of it was evil; I’ve been listening to a lot of late 80s music recently, in an attempt to re-create exactly the feeling of 1990, and some of it holds up OK. But some of the awful music I used to play ... I won’t even mention those bands, because if I did you’d pull out your eyes and mail them to me with a note saying: “Look what you made me do!”

Or you would, if you remembered to write the note before the eye removing.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 22, 2003 03:55 AM

U2, Simple Minds, goth rock when it could carry a tune and when Marilyn Manson was still a kid named Bryan Warner being picked on by his grade school classmates... Some of us had our comforts. Also we someone decided to import a lot of Australian music into the states during the 80s, and there was some wheat among the chaff.

Also I was younger and skinner, but let's not go there.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 22, 2003 at 04:21 AM

I liked the 80s. Mostly because they weren't the 70s.

Posted by: Lileks at September 22, 2003 at 05:04 AM

Of course Lileks liked the 80s ... but he lived in Minneapolis, home of Prince and the whole Prince R&B scene, the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum (actually a good band until the '90s), the Jayhawks ...

I have a very selective memory when it comes to the 1970s -- the first stuff I really paid attention to was the original Saturday Night Live, Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run & Darkness on the Edge of Town, the Pistols & Clash, all those great Stones records, Willie & Waylon, etc. I never saw too many hippies until I lived in San Francisco in the early 90s.

Posted by: Ken Layne at September 22, 2003 at 07:55 AM

No, I would still be able to write the note after gouging my eyes out, because I can touch-type.

Assuming I could find the keyboard, of course.

Posted by: gnotalex at September 22, 2003 at 08:33 AM

Watch your keyboard the entire time during the eye gouging, that way even if you cant see it, you'll know roughly where it is.

Writing your note, saving it, printing it and mailing it, on the other hand, will prove more difficult. Maybe leave 1 eye in until your at the post box.

Posted by: Swift at September 22, 2003 at 08:57 AM

I loved the '80's for the same reason that Lileks did but even more so because as a college student in Madison, Wisconsin, I felt completely passed by from all the 'bad' '80's stuff.

Never saw 'Dirty Dancing' but loved 'Blue Velvet', moshed to hardcore bands that would blow away anything today, and had no TV so I never saw 'ALF' or 'Punky Brewster'. Of course, I suck at Trivial Pursuit 1980's Edition but it's a small price to pay...

My wife & I can also laugh at the Bush=Hitler crowd because we heard all the exact same stuff said about Reagan. Oh, and the Euros hated us then too because of MX and Pershing missiles so we're well immunized against it.

Posted by: JDB at September 22, 2003 at 09:21 AM

As usual our fixation with decades misses the point. The real pop culture divides are more subtle than that. For example you can divide the "60s" up into three distinct cultural eras: the pre-Beatles boring (up to 63), the cool Beatles (63-67) and the flower power/hippy/flares/sad tosser era (67-76). Then came punk/new wave of 77-84. The rest of the eigties saw a bit of a decline, but it still beat the faeces out of the awful 67-76 era.

Posted by: Toryhere at September 22, 2003 at 10:43 AM

I was sure all through high school (1976-1980) that I would kill myself -- or someone -- if I heard "Rosalita" one more time.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 22, 2003 at 11:48 AM

Layne saw Melrose Place back in the eighties, three years before the rest of the world? Damn, I knew that guy was hip, but I had no idea he was that ahead of his time.

Posted by: Combustible Boy at September 22, 2003 at 12:58 PM

In 1977 I was sure I would kill myself if I heard Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody or Billy Joel's Piano Man again.

Can someone destroy the master tapes or something?

Posted by: ilibcc at September 22, 2003 at 01:00 PM

I will light the match.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 22, 2003 at 02:20 PM


There...end of story...1980s was the best decade ever. Full stop. Period.

Posted by: Richard at September 22, 2003 at 02:27 PM

The most frightening thing about the 80s is that, when I first saw movies like "Highlander" or "When Harry Met Sally" or "Terminator [I]", I thought the female leads were gorgeous. Now, when these films re-run on TV, I am appalled and aghast at Ms Hart's/ Ryan's/ Hamilton's big, frosted-blonde, piled-high perms. Brrrrrgggggghhhhhhh ...

It reminds me of an anecdote my mother told me about one of her school friends. Friend's mother had taken Friend to see "Gone With The Wind" at the movies back in the 1940s. The next time Friend and her mother saw that film was on TV in the 1980s. Friend's mother sniffed huffily "Why, they've changed it completely!" "What do you mean?" asked Friend in surprise. "There were no darkies [sic] in that film when we saw it at the cinema" said F's M, with absolute certainty.

Posted by: Uncle Milk at September 22, 2003 at 02:44 PM

I can't recall a decent piece of music since about 1988, but then I'm a crotchetty old prick who will be listening to Mantovani on my 8track player before too much longer. Whatever happened to Manchester? From producing the Smiths, New Order, Happy Mondays etc to a pack of car twockers and hideous doof in less than a decade.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at September 22, 2003 at 02:46 PM

Come on, Tim, you can tell us; I'm betting either Bucks Fizz or the Starland Vocal Band; no need to be ashamed, there is treatment available.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at September 22, 2003 at 02:59 PM

The best leaders of the '80s were Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The worst leader was Nancy Reagan.

Posted by: Rob (No.1) at September 22, 2003 at 03:15 PM

Power Corruption & Lies - New Order 1983 reprsents the first half of the 80's finest moments.

Habib is wrong wrong wrong about the late eighties, though. Two words:

The Pixies

Posted by: James Hamilton at September 22, 2003 at 03:34 PM

Bob Mould was OK; I found the whole US "grunge" sound like Leonard Cohen being stuffed into a running gravel crusher. Not a bad idea, ome to think of it....

Posted by: Habib Bickford at September 22, 2003 at 04:22 PM

The Saints.

70s. 80s. 90s. Whatever.

Posted by: ilibcc at September 22, 2003 at 05:21 PM

"The Saints" were getting a bit tired by the '80s; Ed Keupper had buggered off to form the "Laughing Clowns", and Chris Baily started a fair old bit of recorded self-abuse. I saw them regularly live in 1977 in the Petrie Terrace squat they recorded "I'm Stranded" in; they used to have regular Friday night parties there which invariably wound up with a large punch-up with the Qld Police, whose headquarters was just around the corner. What Fun.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at September 22, 2003 at 05:40 PM

Ken, you forgot about the Gear Daddies in the Minnesota music scene in the '80s...

80s music... yeah, gimme Shriekback, Adam & the Ants, ABC, and the best albums of Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello any day over the drek that's out there now...

Posted by: Wonderduck at September 23, 2003 at 01:47 PM