Big Earrings

•July 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“I went to the mall with a couple of friends.
I had a whole week’s allowance to spend.
I want hoop earrings and a Benetton shirt.
We came here to shop and we came here to flirt…”

-Robin Sparkles, “Let’s Go to the Mall”

We’ve spent years, it seems, praising the big-ness of the 80s, particularly in the fashion world. From big hair (we ♥ it!) to big shoulder pads (them too!) to the big 80s mustache (of course!), everything, it seemed, was big.

So it stands to reason that the trend continued to the jewelry counter.

And, boy, did it ever.

No earrings were too big. Whether big ol’ hoops or the crucifix that dangled from Madonna’s lobes or whatever Cyndi Lauper was wearing in the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” video, 80s earrings were all about making a statement. With an exclamation mark. And then underlined. And then put in bold type.

And why not? In a decade full of big colors, big chunky sweaters, and yes, that big hair, it only stands to reason. It was as if everyone was just trying to scream, “Hey world! Look at my ears!”

…which brings us to Neneh Cherry and the gargantuan gold, um, things that stretched her lobes down to her shoulders in the 1988 video for “Buffalo Stance”.

And it wasn’t just the kids donning the monster earrings, plenty of adults got in on the action, too. Need we remind you of the big, dangly (diamond-encrusted) beauties that Joan and Linda often sported on Dynasty?

Yes, the 80s were a strange time indeed, but they were also wonderful. Wonderfully big, of course.

We ♥ big 80s earrings.

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Bloom County

•July 6, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Pear pimples for hairy fishnuts!”

It was born on December 8, 1980. Or hatched. Or spawned. Or…who knows? Bloom County was (and still is!) such a nutso creation that we’re not really sure how to describe its creation.

We just consider ourselves lucky to have been around for it.

The chronicles of Opus (the penguin), Steve Dallas (the male chauvinist cad), Milo Bloom (the precocious pre-teen reporter), Bill the Cat (ACK!), Bobbi Harlow (“Tomato!”), and the rest of the motley crew was one of the freshest and most timely comic strips ever conceived.

Creator Berke Breathed skewered everything from Reagan’s America to Apartheid to the Falklands war, often mercilessly, and it earned actually earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1987—quite the feat for a strip that appeared alongside Cathy and Beetle Bailey every morning.

From “T’aint corn. It’s dope. Take a bushel home for the wife!” to “Gene Simmons Never Had a Personal Computer When He was A Kid”, Bloom County gave us all something to laugh at—never stupid and always hilarious.

And who could forget the debut single from Bill the Cat’s heavy metal band? Included as a flexi-disc in the 1987 collection Billy and the Boingers: Bootleg, “I’m A Boinger/U-Stink-But-I-♥-U” was just the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that cemented the legacy of Bloom County as the pop culture phenomenon it was.

But alas…all things must come to an end, and we said goodbye to our favorite comic strip on August 6, 1989. It was perfect, really, making Bloom County a true child of the 80s.

That is—until July 13, 2015, when the gang returned on Breathed’s Facebook page. Now everyone, young and old, can understand what we’ve known all along…that Bloom County was (and is) one of the best things to emerge from our favorite decade.

We ♥ Bloom County.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

•July 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Indiana Jones. I always knew some day you’d come walking back through my door. I never doubted that. Something made it inevitable…”

Sure, Marion might have been expecting Indiana Jones, but we sure weren’t. In June 1981, we got a new hero (as the poster told us) “from the creators of Jaws and Star Wars“. And he was unlike anything we had ever seen before.

With a leather jacket and fedora and a bullwhip clipped to his belt, Indiana Jones may have looked like Han Solo (thank you, Harrison Ford!), but this guy was wholly original. Was he a jet-setting adventurist? A book-wormy professor? A super-intense archaeologist? Yes, yes, and yes.

We’re first introduced to him in Peru, as he outwits the most deadly Rube Goldberg contraption ever invented, culminating with the now-famous boulder run…only to be forced to surrender the little golden idol to the evil Belloq. From there it’s off to Nepal (and his reunion with Marion) and then on to Cairo for his showdown not only with Belloq but with the even-more-evil Nazi Arnold Toht.

From start (literally…how cool is it that the image of the Paramount logo dissolves into a Peruvian mountain?) to finish (as the ark’s crate is stored in a warehouse that rivals Sam’s Club), Raiders is one of the 80s’ best and most memorable. Who can forget the face-melting; the staff’s headpiece burning Toht’s hand; Indy’s fight with that big, burly bad guy at the airplane (and then the big burly bad guy meeting the business end of the propeller); or Hollywood’s best-ever “fight” scene, as Indy watches an Arab swordsman’s flourishing display before dispatching him quickly with a single bullet?

Directed by Steven Spielberg from a story by George Lucas, Raiders of the Lost Ark (which has since, heinously, been renamed Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) was easily the #1 movie of 1981, almost doubling the take of the #2 film On Golden Pond, and it’s still listed in the top 25 of all time. It was amazing then, and it still holds up today.

“Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”

We ♥ Raiders of the Lost Ark

The Message

•July 3, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge. I’m trying not to lose my head…”

While we can’t technically express our ♥ for the #2 song on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time (The Sugarhill Gang’s seminal “Rapper’s Delight” debuted four months too early, in September 1979), we can talk about #1. And, man, do we ♥ it.

Generally when lists like that come out there’s always debate about the top entry…but not this time. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message” is, and will always be, the best, most influential, and all out dope-ist hip-hop track ever. Period.

Aside from using one of the funkiest (and most widely-sampled) riffs in hip-hop, it was the first rap record to actually talk about inner-city life in all its un-glory. Until “The Message” rap was mostly self-congratulatory boasts and/or disses of other sucka MCs. But with lyrics like:

Rats in the front room, roaches in the back,
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat,
I tried to get away, but I couldn’t get far,
‘Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car.

…mainstream America not only got a vivid picture of a whole other world, but fellow rappers also realized they had a real platform for speaking the truth and subsequently affecting some change.

It was, after all, called “The Message” for a reason…

Chart-wise, “The Message” didn’t do too much, peaking at #53 in November 1982 and spending a total of 24 weeks on the chart, but it’s impact on society (and the rap world, in particular) can’t be overstated. Public Enemy’s Chuck D said it best, calling “The Message” a total knock out of the park.

We couldn’t agree more.

“It’s like a jungle sometimes. It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under.”

We ♥ Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message”.

21 Jump Street

•June 30, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“We never thought we’d find a place where we belong. Don’t have to stand alone, we’ll never let you fall…”

We all know Miami Vice (which we ♥) was “MTV cops”…which of course makes 21 Jump Street “high school cops”.

The honchos at Fox knew exactly what they were doing when they launched their fledgling network’s prime time schedule in April 1987. Along with The Tracey Ullman Show and Married…with Children, they gave us one of the grittiest and smartly-written shows of its day…a series about a group of young-looking cops who could easily infilrate high schools, colleges, juvenile detention centers…

21 Jump Street was NYPD Blue long before NYPD Blue was even a thing. And it also introduced the world to a fella named Johnny Depp.

As officer Tom Hanson, Depp went from unknown actor to absolute 100% dreamboat teen idol almost overnight. And what wasn’t to love? As the pretty half of the “McQuaid Brothers”, alongside Peter DeLuise’s Doug Penhall, he made Jump Street his show, investigating everything from heroin deals to teen rape to life in a gang. All these years later we still vividly remember the Season 3 two-part finale “Loc’d Up” as Hanson went undercover with Ioki (the vastly underrated Dustin Nguyen) and was convicted of murder.

Little cutie-pie Hanson? Murder?? Say it ain’t so!

Eventually the fame and adoration got to Depp, and he quit the show after the fourth season, and he was followed quickly by DeLuise and Nguyen. Holly Robinson (who also -trivia alert!- sang the theme song) was the only original cast member to stick with the show through its entire five-year run…despite the fact that Fox bailed, too, after season 4.

We didn’t even mention pretty-boy Richard Grieco’s brief one-season stint as Booker (which resulted in his horribly ill-advised spinoff) or good ol’ Captain Fuller, who kept the gang all together…at least as long as he could.

Of course, most kids these days just know 21 Jump Street as a (hilarious, sure) movie (and sequel) starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, and they probably don’t even understand why Depp and DeLuise show up for a cameo at the end of the film.

Sigh.

At least we kids of the 80s remember the one and only…the original…and it’s just another reason that our favorite decade was the best decade.

“I said jump! Down on Jump Street!”

We ♥ 21 Jump Street.

Spokey Dokeys

•June 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Bike wheels come alive!”

It’s a nice warm summer night. You’re out riding bikes with your pals, maybe headed to the neighborhood pool, maybe chasing after the ice cream truck. No helmet, no pads of any kind—just tearing down the street with reckless abandon, popping wheelies and jumping every pothole.

And whenever you slow down, you hear the familiar clack-clack-clackety-clack-clack of your Spokey Dokeys.

Yet another fine example of “why didn’t I think of that” genius-ness that made someone rich, Spokey Dokeys (or Spokey Dokes, depending on the time of day) were as simple an idea as you could come up with—little plastic beads that loosely snapped onto your bicycle spokes and, whenever you slowed down enough, slid down and back up the spokes to make that old familiar clacking sound.

Of course if you went any faster than, say, two miles and hour, the centifugal force would just pin the Spokey Dokeys to the outside of your rims…but that’s okay. If you really wanted perpetual clacking you could always just tuck the jack of clubs into your spokes.

Our crack team of researchers couldn’t find any retro commercials for Spokey Dokeys anywhere on the vast interwebs, but we did find a present-day video…just for those of you who may have forgotten this little example of 80s awesomeness.

In their day Spokey Dokeys came in a variety of colors (including the coveted glow-in-the-dark for when you were out chasing lightning bugs), but now these things have almost taken on a life of their own, coming in metallic versions, flower-shaped, and even LED light-up varieties.

We’ll still go for just the regular ol’ original version, though, thank you very much. But right now we gotta jet. Mom’s calling us for dinner.

We ♥ Spokey Dokeys.

One Night in Bangkok

•June 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Bangkok, Oriental setting, and the city don’t know that the city is getting the creme de la creme of the chess world in a
show with everything but Yul Brynner…”

Show of hands…when Murray Head’s “One Night in Bangkok” first hit our ears in the spring of 1985, how many of you knew it was from a new West End musical?

Sure enough, the Asian-themed pop ditty was the first single released from the concept album for Chess, a musical about rival American and Soviet chess players squaring off in the World Championships.

So why did its lead single become a huge pop sensation? Well, because the songwriters were none other than Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

Who, you ask? None other than the “B” and “B” in ABBA. And those boys know how to write hits.

And it didn’t hurt that the singer was none other than Murray Head, who had Billboard success back in 1969, singing “Superstar” from Jesus Christ Superstar.

“One Night in Bangkok” was a synth-heavy, upbeat pop jam, making it totally perfect for our favorite decade. And the double entendre lyrics made it even more fun:

“I don’t see you guys rating the kind of mate I’m contemplating.
I’d let you watch, I would invite you, but the queens we use would not excite you.”

“One Night in Bangkok” skyrocketed up the Billboard charts over the course of its 20-week run, peaking at #3 in May 1985…making it the highest-charting song from a musical in the Hot 100 since “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” from Hair hit #1 in 1969. And it’s the only musical-based song to chart in the top 30 since.

If that weren’t enough, the song’s legacy was truly cemented in 2011’s The Hangover Part II, when Mike Tyson belted out his own rendition. (Refresh your memory here.)

“I can feel the devil walking next to me.”

We ♥ One Night in Bangkok.