Saturday, November 8, 2014

Repost: 1989: Berlin Wall Falls

Here's a re-post from November 10, 2013, about one of the major events of 1989: the fall of the Berlin Wall.



November of 1989 was one of the great turning points in history.

For most of the mid to late 20th century, the Cold War divided Europe and the world. By the end of the '80s, however, Communism started to crumble, and the long suppressed people of Eastern Europe started to stir with the desire of freedom. 

Berlin was a central point in the Cold War, with the Communist-built Berlin Wall separating free West Berlin from the oppressed East. But in the midst of the changes then engulfing Eastern Europe, the people of East Germany began to agitate for change, culminating around November 9, when the desires of so many in East Germany resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Crowds gathered at the wall, the beleaguered East German guards gave way, and the iron curtain fell. People began to tear down the wall in a mass act of liberation.  Here's the account of a reporter from Time of his experiences.



And here are the heroes of November 1989: the freedom seeking people of East and West Berlin.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Re-Post: Elvira

Here's a re-post of a post originally appearing on October 26, 2011.



The Halloween season has brought to mind the fun, ghoulie aspect of the '80s. 


One of the features of '80s television was Elvira, a spooky gothy she-vixen who hosted a syndicated horror movie show. 


She was dubbed the "mistress of the dark."  


Here's Elvira on a local TV station announcing an upcoming feature. Of course, the movie she is referring to is A Nightmare on Elm Street, with its very '80s ghoul Freddy Krueger.





Her popularity spread beyond the program to include commercials and other appearances. Here she is doing a commercial for Coors Lite beer.



And here is a gratuitous, completely unrelated song from the early '80s by the Oak Ridge Boys, which I just put on here for the heck of it. I dunno, but I'm scared already.


Sing along now:

Elvira, Elvira, my heart is on fire for Elvira.
Eyes that look like heaven, lips like sherry wine 
That girl can sure enough make my little light shine 
I get a funny feelin' up and down my spine 
'Cause I know that my Elvira's mine  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Moscow On The Hudson



In the course of his career, Robin Williams stepped into many roles, both serious and comedic.  One of my favorite is his part-funny, part-serious part in the 1984 movie Moscow on the Hudson, where Williams played a Russian defector, Vladimir Ivanoff, grappling with his new life in the freedom of America.




The movie does a good job of dramatizing the contrast between the grayness and limitation of life in the former Soviet Union, and the bustling, but imperfect freedom of New York, USA in the '80s.  The movie's message was very relevant in the mid-80s as the cold war continued, and with Williams as the main character, it becomes a veritable time capsule for that era.






There are some very funny moments, as Williams' character discovers all the strange and contradictory components about life in a free society, such as the abundance of products at a local grocery store, which contrasted strongly with the rationing and limited supply under Communism.




And there are indeed some serious moments, as the ups and downs of freedom and capitalism causes Vladimir to question the good and bad in this society. But, ultimately, the movie is a dramatic account of what is positive in western society, even amidst the imperfections and issues still to be dealt with.




Saturday, September 20, 2014

Simon & Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park




On September 19, 1981, Simon and Garfunkel reunited in a fantastic mega concert in New York's Central Park. They went on to tour heavily.

As an '80s kid who also loved '60s music and culture, this concert was of great interest to me.  The concert film was often played on our local PBS station, and I taped it on our VHS player. I'd often play back the concert, and enjoy seeing the multi-generation crowd digging the reunion of these two "old friends." 

Music was often a multi-generation thing in the '80s, with people of many ages often together enjoying great musical artists. Time was not a boundary.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams 1954-2014


My memories of Robin Williams begin with his wonderful work as Mork from Ork, and carried on through his memorable role in Good Morning Vietnam (1987), his inspirational Dead Poets Society (1989), and many others. I grew up with Williams' frantic good nature serving as a light of hope. How could somebody so optimistic and alive no longer be with us?



Here's to you Robin. God bless.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Red Rockers



The Red Rockers were a unique American group that came out of the punk/new wave scene, and became a voice for young '80s-era idealists, of which there were many. Probably their most well-known song was the dreamy, atmospheric "China," a 1983 song whose colorful video got quite a bit of airplay.



But the Red Rockers were probably more well known for its songs of protest, such as their 1984 version of the 1965 Barry McGuire call to warning, "Eve of Destruction." This song was just as relevant in the '80s as in the '60s, as the long Cold War continued, along with fears of nuclear conflict. In a sad way, this song appears strangely applicable to today, as the world seems all the more confused and chaotic.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weird Al in the '80s


This past week, Weird Al Yankovic has been blitzing the internet with a comic video per day, together with the release of his new album, Mandatory Fun.  



Here is his new tribute to aluminum foil played to the tune of "Royal." In conjunction with this week of Weird Al-ish goodness, I thought it would be an opportune time to give another look at Weird Al's 80s work




Although Al first became a comic celebrity with his version of The Knack's "My Sherona," (titled "My Bologna"), I first became aware of his quirky act in the midst of 1983's Michael Jackson mania, with Al's spin on Jackson's "Beat It." (That's "Eat It.")



He followed it up with his skewering of another '80s classic, Madonna's "Like A Virgin."




Here's another, the very '80s take on both the game show Jeopardy and the J. Geils Band song of the same name.


Here's a real flashback, Weird Al's very first TV appearance on the Tomorrow show in 1981.  This is so early '80s, note the reference to the first space shuttle mission at the very end of the clip.