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.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Remembering Live Aid

On July 13, 1985, one of the most remarkable concerts ever took place, Live Aid, the two stadium extravaganza which was put together to draw attention to hunger in Africa. As a young teen back then, I vividly remember the events of that day, and I followed it all day by radio and then, at night, by TV.  I did a previous post on it, which you can see here.  





Here's the first part of a fascinating documentary about how Live Aid came together, focusing particularly of the work of Bob Geldolf. It brings you back to the '80s, and shows just how much effort and concern went into this project. Frankly, my favorite part is where Geldolf tells off the murderous dictator of Ethiopia to his face... you go Bob!!  



Unfortunately, I could not locate the other part of that documentary. How about instead Queen's remarkable performance at that event. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

James Brown "Living In America"



Hows this for a 4th of July weekend... James Brown's 1986 "Living In America."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Casey Kasem 1932-2014



How could the '80s have been the '80s without the great Casey Kasem. I remember vividly spending a weekend afternoon in my room (being a nerdy "inside kid" to a great degree), and listening to the countdown of top 40 hits. And it was Kasem's velvet radio voice that announced them. In light of Kasem's recent passing... here's a tribute.


Of course, Kasem was on TV as well, doing what he did best... counting down the hits, and doing music dedications. This clip from "America's Top 10" should bring back lots of memories. It comes from May of 1983, as Michael Jackson mania was picking up, and as the Second British Invasion was sweeping the U.S.


Kasem was also known as the voice of "Shaggy" on the Scoobie Doo cartoon series, so you know he had a sense of humor. Here he is appearing on the David Letterman show (another '80s flashback), doing another type of countdown.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Remembering Tiananmen Square 1989


This past week commemorates the 25 anniversary of the 1989 protests for freedom which took place in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, and the subsequent crackdown by the Chinese government which put an end to the youthful demonstrations for freedom and a better life in China. This post is a tribute to that protest.


The protests began in April 1989 after reformers in the ruling Communist party lost a power struggle with hard liners. Students launched hunger strikes in support of reform, and protests erupted across China, most notably in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, where an enormous crowd of students gathered.


The military was called, and for a while, there was a stand-off, best represented by the remarkable picture at the top of this post, where a single protester held off an entire column of tanks. 


The protest continued amidst a celebratory and liberating atmosphere. The protesters set up a makeshift statue symbolizing freedom, one of the more memorable images that came from the event.


Sadly, the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, and the hope that came with it, was suddenly put down by the Chinese military, who cleared the square in a brutal operation that resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands wounded.

The ideals of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrators live on, and symbolize the global desire for freedom that people have. An ideal symbolized yet again later that same year of 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, and the Iron Curtain collapsed.