EPCOT Center

•June 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“To all who come to this place of joy, hope and friendship, welcome.” – EPCOT dedication plaque

It’s a little hard to fathom, but there was indeed a time when the entirety of Walt Disney World in Florida consisted ONLY of what is now The Magic Kingdom. No Animal Kingdom, no Hollywood Studios, and, yes kids, no EPCOT Center.

But that all changed October 1, 1982, when the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (Center) opened its gates for the very first time.

EPCOT started out as a dream of none other than the big man himself. Walt Disney first drew up the concept in the mid-60s, envisioning an actual community, complete with homes, schools, and municipal services…which means if ol’ Walt had his way, your actual street address could have been inside the confines of EPCOT Center.

Fortunately for all of us, more touristy-minded heads prevailed, and EPCOT was re-designed as a super-cool, future-themed amusement park…with an added international flair.

At the center of it all is Spaceship Earth, the 180-foot-tall golf ball made up of more than 11,000 individual triangle-shaped tiles. The Future World section houses a bunch of pavilions, including Universe of Energy, The Land, and Journey Into Imagination (with the adorable purple dragon Figment).

And then in the back half there’s the World Showcase, featuring pavilions for 11 different countries including Norway, Mexico, and China—all situated around the aptly-named World Showcase Lagoon.

Plenty of attractions have come and gone over the years. Michael Jackson’s Captain EO opened in 1984 and lasted 8 years until returning again in 2010 for a bit. And Test Track opened in 1999 and is currently the longest and fasted ride in all of Disney World.

On average around 11 million people visit EPCOT each year, enjoying all of its more than 300 acres. And it’s not only fun, it’s functional; every year 30 tons of fruits and vegetables are grown in The Land to be served in Walt Disney World restaurants.

A magical place, indeed…it simply stands to reason that it was born in the 80s.

“May Epcot Center entertain, inform and inspire. And, above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.”

We ♥ EPCOT Center.

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Batman

•June 26, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Tell me something, my friend…you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

Long before Ben Affleck donned the Batsuit, there was Christian Bale. And before him there was Val Kilmer. And before him, George Clooney. But before ALL of them, there was Michael Keaton.

Who? The Mr. Mom guy? Johnny Dangerously himself? Beetlejuice? THAT guy?

Yes. That guy.

So who was the director? Ridley Scott? Richard Donner? Spielberg?

Um…Tim Burton.

Whoa, horsey! The guy that directed Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure??

One and the same.

Oh lord. That must have SUCKED!

Actually, friend, Batman was one of the finer ways we could think of to close out our favorite decade. Yeah yeah, there were plenty of nay-sayers who went ballistic when Keaton was cast, but when the finished product arrived on June 19, 1989, all was forgiven and forgotten.

Burton brought just enough of his ‘dark and twisted’ side to keep things interesting, and everything from Danny Elfman’s score to Prince’s supplemental music to Robert Wuhl’s hilarious turn as reporter Alexander Knox (“Lieutenant, is there a six-foot bat in Gotham City?”) made the film big-time awesome.

Nothing, however, was more memorable than Jack Nicholson’s Golden Globe-nominated performance as The Joker. His wry, sandpaper-dry delivery and menacing Nicholson-esque glare made him the best part of the whole flick. We may have wept a little as he destroyed all that art (to the tune of Prince’s “Partyman”) or when he hosted the worst parade this side of Macy’s (if Macy’s was a nightmare parade that ended with thousands of people unconscious and gasping for breath along the side of the road), but dammit we loved that guy.

Batman easily ended 1989 as the #1 flick, and it also wrapped the 80s at #4, behind only E.T., Empire, and Jedi. It was a monster hit and still remains one of our favorites…and heaven knows Keaton was better than the Clooney- and Kilmer-led Batman garbage that was soon to come in the (ugh) 90s.

“This town needs an enema!”

We ♥ Batman.

Simon and Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park

•June 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“Well, it’s great to do a neighborhood concert!”

As much as we sing the praises of kiddie stuff from the 80s (Teddy Ruxpin, cartoons, The Smurfs…), there was plenty of awesome things for the grown-ups, too.

And one of the most awesome happened on September 19, 1981, in New York’s Central Park.

No, it wasn’t a mugging or someone throwing a styrofoam McDonald’s container out of their horse-and-buggy ride. We’re talking about the reunion of the decade, at what would be the concert of the decade (at least until 1984’s Live Aid mega-show).

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel hadn’t really even talked to each other, much less performed together, for more than three years, but when presented with the chance to raise money to help refurbish Central Park, they agreed to put their many, storied differences behind them…and what a show we got.

500,000 people were on hand to witness the spectacle. From the opening chords of “Mrs. Robinson” straight through to the reprise encore of “Late in the Evening”, Simon and Garfunkel put on a concert for the ages. “Homeward Bound”, “Wake Up Little Susie”, “Bridge over Troubled Water”, “The Boxer”…and that’s before the encore of “Old Friends”, “The 59th Street Bridge Song”, and “The Sound of Silence”. The only thing really missing was “Cecilia”, but that’s a little like complaining about having to eat your least favorite ice cream.

The show went off largely without incident—especially impressive given the size of the crowd and the fact that it all happened in a wide-open field. In New York City. At night. Even when some dude jumped up on stage during Simon’s performance of “The Late Great Johnny Ace”, he was promptly shown the door, and Simon kept right on going.

In the end, the recording of the concert went double platinum, and the video release was a huge hit, too…and most importantly, more than $50,000 was raised for the park.

Plus, ya know, Simon and Garfunkel were back together again…for a few hours at least.

“…And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people maybe more!”

We ♥ Simon and Garfunkel’s Concert in Central Park.

The Fox and the Hound

•June 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“I’m a fox. My name’s Tod. What’s your name, kid?”
“Mine’s Copper. I’m a hound dog.”

When The Fox and the Hound hit theaters in the summer of 1981 it had been four years since the last Disney film. FOUR YEARS! (Heck, we’re getting two Pixar movies this year alone!) Not since 1977’s The Rescuers had ol’ Walt’s boys given us some animated magic.

So we were understandably bouncin’ off the walls when the tale of Copper and Tod arrived.

Based on the book by Daniel Mannix, The Fox and the Hound was a bit of a weepie (think a kinder, gentler Bambi) but ultimately charming story of two best friends who shouldn’t have ever been friends at all.

When Big Mama the owl gets Widow Tweed to adopt young Tod the fox, we know it’s just a matter of time before he runs into lil Copper (voiced by Corey Feldman, no less!), who Miss Tweed’s cranky neighbor Amos Slade has just brought home.

Everything’s great for a bit, but as the two critters grow up they come to realize that they’re actually mortal enemies. And that, of course, puts a little crimp into their friendship…especially with Slade’s huntin’ dog Chief pokin’ around.

Then when Chief gets a broken leg, after chasing Tod and gettin’ whacked by that train, the boys can read the writin’ on the wall. And sure enough, Widow Tweed takes Tod and drops him off in the woods, so he can be safe and free. And we…well–– we just about lost it.

We like to think that Tod and Copper somehow made some time to see each other every now and again (and the smile they give each other after Copper saves Tod from the business end of Slade’s rifle certainly gives us hope), but even if they didn’t, they had a great run…short as it may have been.

The Fox and the Hound took in a heap o’ cash in 1981, makin’ almost $40 million, and it also helped launch the careers of some future big-time Disney folks, including John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Henry Selick, and even one Tim Burton, all of whom did some of the animation.

…and though we’d have to wait another four years for the NEXT Disney animated movie (The Black Cauldron), we reckon The Fox and the Hound was just awesome enough to hold us over.

Ar-wooo-woooo-woooooooo!

We ♥ The Fox and the Hound.

Air Jordans

•June 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“It’s gotta be the shoes!”

1984 was a very good year for Michael Jordan. Shortly after winning the Naismith and Wooden NCAA Player of the Year awards, he was pick #3 in the NBA draft, won a Gold Medal at the Olympics in August, and signed a 5-year, $2.5 million contract with Nike.

Though HE might tell you winning the Gold Medal was the highlight of that list, we’ll tell him to his face that he’s full of hooey. It’s gotta be the shoes.

Air Jordans revolutionized the global shoe industry, and they continue to today—along with making MJ a veeerrrry rich man.

It all started in late 1984 (just after Michael signed), when Nike’s Peter Moore was tasked with designing the very first Air Jordan. Less than a year later the Air Jordan I dropped, and every year since then, the release date of the new Jordans has been very much “a thing”. (We’re on XXXI now, if you’re one of the few not keeping track. The XXXII is expected soon.)

Beyond just the shoes themselves, we got bombarded by no shortage of ads, hype, and endless marketing and promotion. Spike Lee, fresh off his successful 1986 directorial debut She’s Gotta Have It signed up with Nike himself to write, direct, and star in a series of Air Jordan commercials, featuring Jordan alongside Mars Blackmon, the character Lee himself played in that movie. Brilliant!

…and we haven’t even mentioned the now-iconic Jumpman logo that’s been a part of the brand ever since the launch of the Jordan III in 1988.

Air Jordan is still one of the most iconic, most profitable, and most widely-recognized brands in the world today. Sure, they may be “just shoes”, but they were born in the 80s, and as we all know, that makes them extra awesome.

It’s definitely the shoes.

We ♥ Air Jordans.

The Girl in the Video

•June 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Growing up as teenagers in the 80s we spent many an hour glued to MTV, watching videos. And the teenage boys among us spent even more time (we’ll wager) dreaming about the women IN those videos.

Folks, we hope you’re sitting down.

First, a disclaimer: It’s not often that we highlight something that wasn’t created, released, or otherwise birthed in the 80s…but every once in a while we make an exception. And this one’s a good one.

Now…what if said there was a place you could go on the interwebs that told you not only WHO the woman was in ZZ Top’s “Legs” video (Wendy Frazier. That’s her in the photo up there ^)…but how she got the gig, what it was like meeting ZZ Top, if she was ever recognized on the street, what she’s up to now, etc.

People, we would like to introduce you to Marc Tyler Nobleman. Well…more specifically to his blog, Noblemania. Well…even MORE specifically to the section of his blog titled “The Girl in the Video”. (Here it is.)

Marc loves 80s music. And 80s music means 80s music videos. And 80s music videos, more often that not, means beautiful women. Instead of just drooling at the videos in his later years, however, Marc took it upon himself to track down a fair-sized smattering of the famous models from the famous videos.

From Signy Coleman (the object of Huey Lewis’ affection in “I Want a New Drug” video), to Wish Cohen (who dressed as Alice in Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More”), Marc found them, interviewed them, and shared their stories with all of us.

Perhaps his biggest coup? Finding arguably the five most famous women-in-video from the 80s…the quintet who posed as Robert Palmer’s backup band in the video for his hit “Addicted to Love”. (Julie, Patty, Kathy, Mak, and Julia…for the record.)

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. We warn you, though––”The Girl in the Video” is an 80s-tastic wormhole of the highest order. Enter only if you have an hour (or three) to kill, because once you stop, you can’t stop.

We ♥ “The Girl in the Video” (Noblemania).

Oh Sherrie

•June 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

“You should’ve been gone, knowing how I made you feel…”

In April 1984, just seven months after Journey wrapped up its super-huge Frontiers tour (featuring “Separate Ways” and “Faithfully”), lead singer Steve Perry made it known that he didn’t need no stinkin’ band backing him up. He could do just fine on his own, thankyouverymuch.

Sure enough, his first solo album Street Talk went double-platinum, and its first single “Oh Sherrie” was a big reason why.

The peppy, up-tempo ballad, which Perry wrote for his girlfriend Sherrie Swafford, was a staple of the summer of 1984——not just on radio but on MTV, too.

Shot at the Park Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, the video opens with a blare of trumpets before we see Perry decked out in Medieval garb. Ummmm….okaaaay? Turns out (in a creative little bit of meta-humor), we’re watching as Steve shoots the WAY over-produced video for…”Oh Sherrie”. The director has his heart set on a swashbuckling princess rescue in a flaming forest of doom, but Steve has other ideas; he just wants to sing his song to his lady. Clean and simple.

Thankfully Steve won the day.

(And yes…that’s the real Sherrie Swafford in the video.)

“Oh Sherrie” would go on to be a big hit for Steve, spending 20 weeks on the chart and peaking at #3 in June 1984. It would be, in fact, the biggest hit in Steve’s career (either with or without Journey) from that point forward. He would never again crack the Top 10.

Now…about that “flaming forest of doom”?

We ♥ “Oh Sherrie”.