Friday, August 9, 2019

Thank You, John Hughes (a Re-Post)


Some of my most pleasant memories of being a teen in the '80s came from some of the better teen movies which flourished at that time. Foremost among the creators of this genre of moviemaking was the great John Hughes whose work during the '80s was known for treating the minds and feelings of teenagers, and the situations that teens found themselves in, with seriousness and respect.

Hughes created such teen classics as Weird ScienceSixteen CandlesFerris Bueller's Day Offand Pretty In Pink, movies which were big in their day, and have since become cult classics, and the source of much imitation in the form of subsequent teen oriented flicks. Hughes also went beyond the teen movie genre to make such films as the holiday classic Home Alone and the comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  But Hughes' creation which, for many of us, still resonates most strongly was the teen classic The Breakfast Club.




An account of several teens from very different cliques bonding with one another during their stay in detention, The Breakfast Club served for many of us as a protest against the walls that separated us from our fellow teens. It also had an unusual depth for a teen flick, allowing its characters to express the complexity which lay behind the facades of various teen stereotypes. Kids who were as different as a nerd, a stoner, an arty outsider, a jock and a preppie suddenly seemed more than just one dimensional. I remember getting great pleasure out of the way this movie made you think, as you chewed on the dialogue going on between the characters on the screen.


But the thing that made The Breakfast Club, and all of Hughe's movies, so wonderful for a teen loner like me, is that Hughes had a particular soft spot for the outsiders, the individualists, and the misfits, and he had a great way of exposing their dilemma through his movies, and ultimately empowering them in the process.

For example, there is this scene in the Breakfast Club, where the jock character, played by Emilio Estevez, tells about an awful thing, a pitiless prank that he played on this nerdy kid. He had done it to impress his fellow jock friends, but in the movie, he was expressing how bad he felt over his part in such a cruel prank, and how awful he must have made that hapless boy feel. At the conclusion of the jock's account, the nerd character, played by Anthony Michael Hall, quietly mentions that the boy who was the target of the prank was one of his friends. The scene is powerful, and there is this painful awareness as the nerd and the jock realize how close this awful prank struck each of them.

Thank you, John Hughes, for moments like that, which exposed the pain of being an outsider, and brought home just how much we had in common as teens from different backgrounds.


John Wilden Hughes (1950-2009)



A Follow Up To The Above:


I've been enjoying reading a book called Don't You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the films of John Hughes.  Its a collection of essays where different writers describe the effect that John Hughes movies have had on them as teens. Very often this effect is quite strong, and ground-breaking, causing an effect on the consciousness of those observers.

I, too, have found the teen films of the '80s to have had a significant and important effect on society, much more so than would be acknowledged by those who would casually dismiss them.  One such essay described an experience the writer had which shows this effect.  In the essay "A Slut or a Prude: The Breakfast Club as Feminist Primer," writer Juliana Baggott wrote about the following incident which happened after watching that seminal Hughes movie.

 A few days after I saw the movie, I was in the cafeteria with my people- a group of field hockey girls, a few with eating disorders. Some idiotic football players were spitting spitballs at some band geeks. But they weren't just football players and band geeks, not after The Breakfast Club. We were all trapped in the same ugly, dying organism: high school.

I walked over to the football players and said,”C'mon, knock it off.”

One said,”Knock what off.”

“The spitballs. Just grow up a little.”

“Don't I look grown up to you, little girl.” He had me by a hundred pounds and more than a half foot in height.

“Listen, asshole, just stop it with the spitballs.”

“Oh, she's angry now.” He put his arm around me, rubbed my back. “Isn't she cute when she's angry?”

“Cute” was my trigger word- often true for short people. “Don't call me cute again.”

“What's wrong cutie. You're so cute!”

“I mean it. Call me cutie again and I swear it won't be pretty. . . ”

He paused and looked at me deeply in the eyes. “You're so cute.”

I slapped him. He had a big head and a thick rubbery cheek. He was fair, and the skin went red fast. Friends told me later that my small handprint was on his cheek for the rest of the day.

The long term result was astonishing. All of the boys at that table seemed to fall in love with me and treated me with enormous respect. They addressed me politely in the halls. I'd feel someone watching me, and when I turned around, it would be one of them- all agaze.

It made no sense. It only encouraged me. To what? Refuse to accept a definition – a prude, a slut, a . I knew that definitions wouldn't work for me, that I was volatile, unwieldy, and that was the only way I'd survive.

This wonderful movie by John Hughes caused a typical American teenager to feel closer to the other teens in her school, to literally stand up for other teens who were different than herself, to confront a blustering bully, and to see her own self in a different light.  Thank you, John Hughes, or your remarkable work. 


Friday, July 26, 2019

When Crue Were Glam (Re-post)



The 1980s was a great time for music, in part because there was just so much of it. So much variety... music of all kinds, and usually with a quirky and fun twist: New Wave, classic rock, Springsteen and Mellencamp roots rock, dance music, synth-pop, ballads, etc. etc. 

Heavy Metal was one of the main aspects of '80s music, a kind-of mutant genre that created loud, aggressive, rebellious music. At a time when boundaries of all sorts had already been broken, and audiences had already been thrown everything except the kitchen sink, '80s metal groups were there to break that final barrier and throw you that kitchen sink. 


Motley Crue first broke into '80s popularity with a gruesome leather-clad appearance, and an album with a black cover and an ominous theme, Shout at the Devil (1983). Although a case could be made that the concept was as much as anything against the devil (after all, the albums' intro exhorted its listeners to "rise up . . . and shout at the devil"), Motley Crue were at the time the group that parents and censors loved to hate.
Then, in 1985, a change. At the time, Crue adopted a more glam (but I'm sure they would tell you, a still rockin) image, with their album Theatre of Pain (1985). Crue during this time were among a growing number of spandex clad, makeup wearing groups into what was known as glam metal, a genre that adopted the colorful, eye-popping glitter/glam rock styles which hearkened back to the early '70s, but added the ear-bursting heavy metal of the '80s.

It was during this time that Motley Crue's audience grew to include teens that may not have gotten what they were about during their earlier period. And they were capable of adding a soft ballad alongside their heavy rock. 

Glam Metal spread far and wide... I always thought it fit well with the fun-loving, color-filled atmosphere of the '80s. 


Heres Poison, another of '80s big glam metal bands.

It shows how interesting a decade the '80s were, that such an overtly "macho" style as metal adopted such clearly androgynous styles without anyone even commenting. It was macho with makeup and eyeshadow. And it was perfectly and un-ironically accepted as such.


And, of course, this metal ball would not be complete without another big glam metal group, Cinderella.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Duran Duran Celebrates Apollo 11

https://oblivionfoodcourt.tumblr.com/post/186422954040/john-taylor-daily-duran-duran-introthe


Check out the Duran Duran concert at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Apollo 11 moon landing at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida.  Posted on my new blog project Oblivion Foodcourt.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Apollo 11

https://oblivionfoodcourt.tumblr.com/post/186396521445




In honor of the Apollo 11 moon landing anniversary, I re-posted some moon landing photo montages onto my other blog, Oblivion Foodcourt

Stop by and visit for '80s, Vaporware, and '80s mall content.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

My New Project: "Oblivion Foodcourt"

I
I've developed an interest in Vaporwave, a 2010's music and cultural genre which is inspired by the styles of the 1980s and a sense of retro nostalgia. 

I recently put together a Vaporwave inspired blog entitled Oblivion Foodcourt, and invite my readers to check it out.  Here are a few samples of the new blog's content:

https://oblivionfoodcourt.tumblr.com/post/185599165360/juiceboxkids-blog-the-older-ones-looked-way


https://oblivionfoodcourt.tumblr.com/post/185692064320/retroetic-grace-jones-by-jean-paul-goude-for-a

Friday, June 7, 2019

Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Repost)

This is a re-post of a post which originally appeared September 29, 2011.


When I was a teen, growing up in the '80s, one of my most comforting memories was of the opening credits to the popular TV show Cheers. Although I sometimes watched the show, and enjoyed it, I was never as big a Cheers fanatic as so many other people.  

But the opening credits were always a must see for me. The theme song itself was part of the attraction. It begins by noting the taxing nature of modern life (in the '80s), which "takes everything you've got," and then segues into the catchy refrain about wanting to be "where everybody knows your name."


But just as appealing were the montage of images which appeared along with the song, a series of pictures of people seemingly enjoying the pleasures of being at a pub, with its drinks and social life. The pictures all have a historical quality to them, lending the sense that such activity has occurred through time, and continues to the time of the program . . . the '80s and early '90s.

There is one photo, for example, which has people in a bar with drinks, with one man holding up a newspaper which reads "WE WIN" in all captal letters. Growing up, I had thought that the headline referred to the end of World war II, but it in fact refers to the end of Prohibition. In restrospect, this seems all the more appropriate given that the show takes place in a drinking establishment. 


Another photo shows a group of young males of another era, perhaps college kids, all trying to look dapper and sophisticated.

I always thought that the combination of words and music put forth the idea that time passes, but certain things remain the same. That so many things have come and gone through time and history, and that here we were, in the '80s, taking our place in time. Yet, some things were constant, through it all. Through it all, don't we all really want to sometimes go to a place "where everybody knows your name."

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

Friday, May 3, 2019

St. Elmo's Fire & Friends (Repost)


One of my most enjoyable movies from the '80s is St. Elmo's Fire, the 1984 brat-pack ensemble account of relationships among disparate friends. The movie has sometimes been criticized as being indulgent, and highly unrealistic. . . and truthfully, at times it is. However, I still get a lot of '80s retro pleasure out of watching this movie. Its one of those films I can put on and just let it run, knowing exactly what the next scene is, and what most of the dialogue will be.

I guess two things that I find so appealing about it are: First, that it is so very '80s, and '80s in a rather appealing way. The cinematography is actually quite beautiful at times, making use of the natural colors and beauty of the scenery of the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C.  And secondly, the positive and hopeful way that it presents post-college age youth. 

Of course, there are some highly unrealistic aspects of the movie. For example, just how did the Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy characters, supposedly recent college grads, afford such a spacious apartment? But at its best, St. Elmo's Fire resembled a hazy '80s dream of friendship, inhabited by quirky '80s personalities, soundtracked by catchy '80s music, and colored with vivid '80s colors.  


The '90s had its own version of the "group of cool friends" scenario, in the '90s TV show Friends. I've enjoyed watching Friends in part because it seemed to so resemble St. Elmo's Fire, and because Friends came along at just the exact time that I myself was going through the experience of being in my post-undergrad college years. It was good to see (again, however unrealistically) my own generation being portrayed as cool and hip.

 I must admit that, being the loner that I have often been, the notion of having such a close knit group of cool friends has been more of an ideal for me than reality. (I mean, don't get me wrong... I've had friends, but not many as close as these characters are portrayed to be.) But I still found it enjoyable to buy into the concept of being young, and hip, and able to come up with witty one liners during animated conversations at a college coffee shop.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

'80s Mall Memories (Repost and New Material)

I was looking at this excellent collection of photos of American shopping malls in 1989, and got inspired to re-post my own blog tribute to the American shopping malls of the '70s and '80s, called "Mall Memories," which originally appeared on this blog in January 12, 2018.  I've added some additional material at the bottom. A Happy Easter, or Happy Passover, or otherwise a great weekend to all my visitors.

Mall Memories

Some of the best memories of my '70s childhood and '80s adolescence took place in shopping malls. Nowadays there is talk that the age of the shopping mall is passing (although you couldn't tell it from some of the malls where I live, where there are several thriving), but in the '70s and '80s the mall was at its height as a center of commerce and popular meeting place.

I have so many good memories of being in these climate-controlled, air conditioned shopping centers, and here are some.

The Style. Malls in the '70s and '80s had such a different style than today. Back then the typical mall aimed for a futuristic style that resembled the city in Logan's Run. Modern sculpture, water features, and lighting were common. 

Fountains. Most Malls of the '70s and '80s featured fountains, usually with the same modern style. Lots of them too, often in different locations of the same mall.  I loved those, and the fun ambiance they created. 

The Stores. I remember the specialty stores that you sometimes found only in malls, where you found them in abundance. Food vendors like Fanny Farmer Candies and Hickory Farms. Bookstores like Waldenbooks and B. Dalton Books. Record stores like Camelot records. Big department stores, some no longer in existence, like Burdines, Robinsons, Maas Brothers, and Jordan Marsh. There always seemed to be a store selling electric organs, featuring someone hired to play it and attract customers. Chick Fil-A was, at that time, found almost always in malls. Some of those names and experiences are now forgotten, others continue as much cherished establishments.


Growing up, my family used to eat at York Steak House, a family restaurant commonly found in malls. The decor at York often had the dark wood style so often found during that era, with a certain "Olde English" decor. We would then walk over to Doctor Pet Center, a typical mall pet shop where we would look at the various animals they had on display. And then we would go through the mall to enjoy the various sights and sounds of the mall. As a teen, this would involve bookstores and record stores, where I would indulge my musical and reading tastes as a nerdy teen.

Now, it is said that internet shopping and outdoor shopping centers are eclipsing the old malls. But I will always remember fondly the ways malls used to be. They were a safe place where you could stroll, get the latest record, and get something to eat. Here's to malls of the '70s and '80s.


More Mall Memories


Here are a few more memories of the shopping malls of the '70s and '80s:



Here's an interesting 1983 documentary prepared by a college student where he interviews people at random at a New York state shopping mall.  Its really quite a time capsule of the era.
And here are a few personal memories. When I was growing up in the '70s and '80s, my family often frequented a mall called the Orlando Fashion Square, in Orlando, Florida. My elementary school even took a field trip there during the late '70s. It certainly was a source of some of my best mall memories during the '80s.  Here are some photos of '80s era skaters using the rounded sides of the mall's exterior to perform tricks.  I never skated, but I do remember how that mall exterior looked, so sleek and '70/'80s modern.

And here below are some more pictures taken by an individual of the same mall, and some of the stores. I do remember fondly all of these.
Fashion Square Mall



Friday, April 5, 2019

Heavy Metal, the Movie (Repost)


Back in the early '80s, an animated movie came out based on the adult comic magazine Heavy Metal.  The 1981 movie, also called Heavy Metal, ultimately would develop a cult following and become a favorite of the late night movie circuit. Heavy Metal consisted of anthology of several animated stories, all with a style clearly geared to teen males. I love it because it serves as a wonderful time capsule of the era, in particular of the rock-oriented culture of that era, and a remembrance of what was considered cool among early '80s teens, especially males.


Heavy Metal starts with an animated space sequence, with a space shuttle (a form of space transportation then new and exciting) opening its cargo bay and releasing a corvette, which slowly descends back to earth.

A space shuttle releasing a hot sports car into space... an odd sequence that seems so obviously cool in an early '80s context, which I think would appear odd to today's youth.

The initial story involves an astronaut bringing a gift from space to his young daughter: a strange glowing orb which turns out to have great power, and which serves as a central figure in all the movie's stories.


One story features a taxi driver named Harry Canyon living a very rough, distopian future version of New York City . . .a reminder that New York of the late '70s and eraly '80s was facing its own issues of crime and decay.  Canyon's story contains a pulp fiction style with a gritty story line. 


Another story involves a zombie laden account of horror encountered by a World War II bomber crew.  As with all the stories, very teen-male oriented.


My favorite story involves a nerdy teen boy who finds the glowing orb, and takes it home to run scientific experiments on it.


The boy soon finds himself transformed into a bald, muscle-bound hero, and transported to a strange mythical land where the orb is an object of worship called the Loc-Nar.  As his new self, he calls himself "Den", and embarks on a series of adventures involving the Loc-Nar and the inhabitants of the new world to which he has been brought.


The stories in Heavy Metal includes accounts taking place in space and in strange new lands, and involving odd aliens and mythical animals. Altogether an enjoyable combination, but not too deep or complicated in its content. Its practically made for late night, leisurely viewing.





As noted, there is always a reminder of the early '80s era (with lots of leftover late '70s) which produced this flick: as in the sequence featuring drug snorting aliens, and a swinging sex-addled robot. Heavy Metal is not for everyone, but if youre into science fiction told with a pulp style, mixed with early '80s teen rock n' roll sensibility, its worth a watch.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Remembering E.T. (Repost)


This is a re-post of a post originally appearing in 2011.


I remember when my parents took me to see E.T., '80s sci-fi classic from Steven Spielberg.

The movie came out in June 1982, so this must have been mid to late late '82. I was a somewhat nerdy, awkward 12 years old loner, often in living in my own odd dreamy world. The fact that I was also an only child added to my solitary nature, I suppose. But I was quite close to my parents, although sometimes I even felt misunderstood by them as well, and this would occasionally lead to conflict in my teen years. But this memory was one of being close to them, and I treasure it now as I sit here writing about it.

We went to see the film at a small, one theater cinema in the downtown of our small home town. It was an old theater that had been there seemingly forever, and was still there in the '80s. It was in the very midst of the fan mania that developed over the film, and there was a long line that stretched around the entire front of the small theater and around the side to the parking lot out back.  

We took our place in line, and when we got inside the theater was packed to capacity, with every seat filled.  At that age, I was not yet used to going to see movies at the theater, so the whole thing was quite new to me. I remember we got some popcorn and Coke, and took our seats in the crowded theater. I also remember that in the midst of the movie, someone spilled a drink a row behind us. But I remember the experience fondly.


I remember the pleasure I got in seeing this beautiful film.  There was a tangible warmth about it, there were so many different details that seemed to shine through about the film. I remember the funny scene where E.T. inspires the young protagonist, Eliot, to come to the rescue of the frogs which were to be used during his school's science class, and he proceeds to cause havoc by freeing all of them in the midst of class. I also remember that my mother cried when E.T. briefly appeared to die, and I remember the joy that came when he miraculously revived and was alive.  


It felt like I was part of some wonderful phenomenon that all of America was participating in, and maybe beyond our borders to the world.  I somehow felt like I identified with the young protagonist Eliot, played by actor Henry Thomas. But then, didn't we all identify with young Eliot at that young age, befriending this wondrous being from another world.  






Monday, February 18, 2019

Depeche Mode: "People Are People"


From Depeche Mode, a quintessentially '80s group with a devoted following, a 1984 song with a message. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

An '80s Valentine: "Sea of Love"


The Honeydrippers were a band put together by former Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant, who scored a major hit in 1984 with their version of '50s classic "Sea of Love." A suitable retro-'80s valentine.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Traveling Wilburys: "End Of The Line"



The Traveling Wilburys were a late '80s supergroup that included several rock legends: Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, ex-Beatle George Harrison, and ex-ELO Jeff Lynne.  Here they are with "End of the Line."

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Story Behind Suzanne Vega's "Luka"


Here's the story behind one of the 80's most relevant songs, "Luka" by folksinger Suzanne Vega. Some very poignant comments.


Here's the song, Suzanne Vega's "Luka." Vega, along artists like Tracy Chapman, the Washington Squares, Michelle Shocked, and The Indigo Girls, formed the late '80s folk music revival.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Brian May's "New Horizons" New Years Message



Brian May, guitarist for Queen, is also an astrophysicist who is involved in NASA's New Horizons probe to Pluto and the outer solar system. New Horizons is scheduled to be passing by an object in that region of space during new years, and sending back information. May created a song celebrating the New Horizons mission, and I can't think of a better way to ring in the new year!  Happy New Year to all my readers, and keep your dreams high!!