This was the day back in 1983 where if you were, say, an impressionable ten-year-old boy, you came home from school and watched "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" and did your spelling homework had dinner with your family and then got ready for the broadcast of a TV movie people had been talking about for weeks, the warnings about how disturbing it was going to be only fueling your ten-year-old boy interest in what there had actually been discussions in school over whether or not it should be avoided. Then you sat down and watched what would happen to America if there were a nuclear holocaust. Even [...]
Sarah Marshall: I'm not especially proud of any of the hobbies I used to waste my free time, but perhaps the most inexplicable is my fondness for watching compilations of old TV themes on YouTube. As a general rule, I love all sludgy runoff of pop culture past and present, and the themes to failed 80s TV shows provide its most potent concentration: the montages, the glittery synth music, the streetwise detectives running on the beach in tiny shorts. I vacillate between feeling ashamed of how many no-name actors I routinely recognize, and feeling that I'm spending my leisure time in exactly the right way.
Michael Magnes: It's oddly thrilling [...]
Today is Nick Rhodes' 50th birthday. He's the youngest member of Duran Duran, so they, the pretty mascara-ed wild-boy new romantics, are all safely embarked on their 50s now. They remain pretty (and I'm not just being polite, they do), and Nick hasn't stopped wearing mascara and I hope he's pleased every day with all the new de-clumping formulas available, but still, it gives you vertigo. Do the jumpsuits still fit? Does John Taylor ever avoid invitations to go out so he can stay home and watch Veronica Mars? Does Simon LeBon say to friends at dinner, "Lately if I drink more than two glasses of red wine, I [...]
Rumors have circulated that Madonna, recording artist, will sing with M.I.A. at the Super Bowl. Nicki Minaj is also implicated. Both artists have had success, but can either bring back the monoculture? Leaving the fleeting sensation of a Lynn Hirschberg truffle-fry ambush aside, if M.I.A. were interviewed by Barbara Walters, who would care? Neither M.I.A., a self-consciously “edgy” singer of extraordinary gifts of curation, nor Nicki Minaj, a self-consciously outré rapper of extraordinary gifts full-stop, have cultivated personae beyond “hardworking,” “talented,” and (in M.I.A.’s case) “prone to ignorable political pronouncements.” It’ll be a good show, but no one should expect an iconic moment on par with Madonna heaving in a [...]
The sunny, retro stylings of critical darlings Best Coast have not totally grabbed me yet. Not that I particularly dislike them, but, for instance, I would enjoy this song more if it were a cover of Madonna's greatest ballad. But, interestingly, they're premiering their new video on the LOLcats mothership, I Can Haz Cheezburger (which yes, just raised $30 million). Here's the Madonna video.
So the new Peter Gabriel album, Scratch My Back, is sounding more and more intriguing. It's all cover songs, all orchestral arrangements, and two leaks, versions of Arcade Fire's "My Body is a Cage" and Bon Iver's "Flume," are both excellent.
If you're like me, you've been waiting 26 years to find out what happens next in Lou Gramm's "Midnight Blue" video. What becomes of our hero, the oily gearhead bohunk in the black leather jacket, and his sexy paramour, the restless one who did not care that he was just a troubled boy looking for a double-dare? What of the next day? After they ride off under the moon in that gorgeous cherry-red convertible? What does this world have in store for them once the sun has risen and shined its light on their midnight fling with romantic fate? Well, fellow very old idiots dreamers, our prayers have been [...]
Back in the early 80s, the boom in arcades and entertainment made icons of the likes of Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Q*Bert. The popularity and novelty of video games was great enough to produce a fair amount of peculiar cultural runoff. If you grew up then, you may or may not remember watching cartoon series based on the likes of Kangaroo and Space Ace, or raunchy arcade-set comedies like Hollywood Zap and Joysticks ("More Fun Than Games!"). Some dubious efforts to translate the excitement of playing video games into different mediums also happened, as seen with the ill-conceived board game above.
There was even a game show [...]
Now about to tour Europe, the band Throwing Muses was formed thirty years ago now, long before any of the kids today were born. Over the last week, they played again, coming up the east coast. Now, I'm biased, because they've been my favorite band since I was a kid, but it's sort of amazing to go to a rock show and discover that your favorite band from Ye Olden Times is actually the most bad-ass rock 'n' roll trio playing today.
This robot playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on the piano looks kind of wack compared to hep cats like Shimon, the head-bobbing marimba player, or the avant-garde improv trio Three Sirens, or Toyota's incredibly tight four-piece band. (Not even to mention Daft Punk, or Herbie Hancock.) But it's actually pretty cool, because it can read and play a musical score on the spot.
"Despite its reputation for bad hair and loud clothing, just about everything about the era — from the politics, leaders and safety to the music, TV shows and blockbuster movies — are seen as being better than they are today. In fact, 3 in 4 Americans (74%) thought that our country was better off then and even safer (76%). The same amount (76%) believe that government ran better in the 1980s than it does today. And if a presidential election were held today, 58 percent would vote for Ronald Reagan over Barack Obama. Americans ages 18 to 34 were evenly split, with 51 percent favoring Reagan and 49 percent Obama. [...]
After you go visit the really terrific Alighiero Boetti show at MoMA, which I love, and after you see his ("his") tapestries and thingies on the second floor, don't forget to sneak through the surprisingly expansive second-floor galleries, which are showing a kind of semi-show, a kind of rotating collection-display they're calling "1980 to Now." Apparently at some point they'll like, reinstall it and update it or whatever. This is sort of better than being like "here are some recent things that people gave us!" But it's also kind of a curatorial nightmare, because you're making a declaration about, well, 1980 to now.
Five years ago, for my job editing stories for XXL magazine, I would go in to the offices of Harris Publications for a week of afternoons each month. Sometimes when I was there, I would sit next to a young fellow named Will. I'm not sure if Will worked for XXL or one of its sister publications, like Scratch. (I think the former.) And I'm not really sure what he did there, either, other than wear noticeably cool, brightly colored sneakers. I don't mean this as a criticism—he probably didn't know what I did there, either, other than wear much less cool, earthtone corduroys—we didn't talk about work a [...]
"Are 18- to 34-year-olds too young to be nostalgic? Evidently not. Starting next Monday, TeenNick, part of the Nickelodeon family of cable channels for children, will start rebroadcasting old series from the 1990s that are considered classics by young adults. That’s right: classics from the 1990s."
I am surprised that the New York Times finds this surprising. My sophomore year of college, 1991, this guy I knew threw an '80s Party. Where people dressed up in '80s fashions and danced to '80s music. The early '80s held sway, apparently: pastel leg-warmers and off-the-shoulder Flashdance sweatshirts, Flock of Seagulls and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I didn't go to [...]
Stephen Metcalf on Morrissey and the 80s: "I think the word that best captures the times is heartless, as evident in the stupid rictus of Sting's face, circa 1983, as it was in Margaret Thatcher's budget cuts. No wonder Morrissey's voice sounded so fresh, so slyly subversive. As much as he publicly avowed a hatred of Thatcher, culminating in 'Margaret at the Guillotine,' it was Thatcherism that made Morrissey. The Iron Lady represented a hardness of purpose, a pitilessness that would allow England once again to produce winners. But also, inevitably, losers. And here is the source of Morrissey's originality."