Thursday, August 13, 2009

80s on the Beach, Leaf on the 60s

debbie-harry.jpg VS. peace-sign.gif

Tonight brings a free Pat Benatar/Debbie Harry concert at Coney Island, so I assume you’re going.  In other 80s news, I bought a DVD of Krush Groove the other day, admittedly largely because the lovely Sheila E is in it, but it also inspired me to look up whether Run-DMC member Jam-Master Jay’s killers had been caught (sort of), which in turn led me to realize that one can spend a long, depressing time on Wikipedia just following links to all the hiphop folk who have apparently tried to kill each other at one time or another.  Not all rappers are as harmless as Bert and Ernie.

(I, of course, am more of a New Wave guy — and tempted to buy the CD 80s Hits Stripped!, containing such acoustic wonders as a live version of “Metro” by Berlin.  My own first New Wave album would be entitled I Am Unmanned: Like a Space Mission, and my later, less popular techno band will be called Hypnopatamus.)

Those tempted to think the 1960s was a better decade might want to consider reading Jonathan Leaf’s disillusioning book Politically Incorrect Guide to the Sixties, just out this week (he also happens to the be the conservative playwright I mentioned in an earlier entry who lives near a Manhattan block notorious for weekly confrontations between cops behind little barricades and drunk kids, albeit far more sedate ones than the oft-violent but rosily-recalled 60s saw).

My parents, neither hippies nor (at least back in the day) conservatives, once casually told me something that forever altered my perception of the 60s — and contributed substantially to my general suspicion of powerful media narratives: They said that for most people (and most people were never hippies, no matter what the documentaries might suggest), the 60s was a rather frightening time marked by riots and massive urban fires caused by arsonists.  That doesn’t mean they think nothing good happened then,  but it’s worth remembering it wasn’t all incense and peppermint.


pulp said...

…and I suppose those of us who will one day have kids will need to give a similar fact-check on the 1980s– for me it was Cold War fears of the bomb, late-era Sov/US relations– and the tremendous impact that fear had on culture (punk, pop, and 80s film/sci-fi, all laced with this). Fear of Japan as an emerging world economic power, a somewhat fearful apprehension of the scale of changes comics and new technology would be bringing very soon.

Another thing– very hard to communicate, I suspect– would be in trying to convey the sort of general discourse which went on publicly, before the era of Political Correctness, which has infested everything in the public arena== like a sociopolitical cancer.

Todd Seavey said...

You’re definitely the first person I’ve heard refer to fear of “the scale of changes comics and new technology would be bringing” — but I appreciate your high regard for the medium.

I feel like I was pretty fearless back then — nuclear war, it seemed, would just mean living like characters in _Road Warrior_, which I’m planning to rewatch on DVD one day soon, if you’re interested. It helped that my low-key dad would say things like, “Oh, there’s no use worrying about surviving a nuclear war, Todd — we’re only a few miles from the submarine-building facilities in Groton, and that’ll definitely be one of the first places they hit, so we might as well just watch it all out back in lawnchairs like fireworks and say goodbye.”

Strange as it may sound, this was quite successful in getting me to emotionally dismiss the issue until after 1989, really.

J.R. Taylor said...

Assume I’m staying home, Todd. I love those Coney Island concerts, but the current Blondie line-up has the same three original members that you once saw playing live for the specific reason that, contractually, they weren’t Blondie. (At the time, the band was about to reunite, but had sold the rights to the first real Blondie show.) I’m not really a dedicated Blondie fan, but it’s kind of sad that Chris Stein has now fired both of the best songwriters in the band. Clem Burke is still a brilliant drummer, of course. Debbie, however, is simply no longer capable of singing rock ‘n roll.

Todd Seavey said...

Right about now I’m more worried about thunderstorms than missing band members (and I wasn’t expecting them to write new material onstage, after all), but more tomorrow if I survive — and, hey, it’s free.

And a great big public thank-you for getting me into that prior quasi-Blondie show years ago (after finding me attending a Freedy Johnston show and telling me the real action that night would be occurring unannounced after the nearby Ronnie Spector show).

P.S. It must have been subconscious agreement with your concerns that caused me to wrongly/rightly label it a “Debbie Harry” instead of “Blondie” show when I described it above and in yesterday’s entry.

pulp said...

I regard Road Warrior as a perfect film from a writing/world-building POV, the script is air tight. Seen it a million times, more recently to study it rather than just watch it. Got me to delve into Leone, too.

Gerard said...

I have to agree with “pulp,” re: the astonishing inroads made by political correctness over the past two decades. I was watching a rerun of an old Weekend Update-back when it was hosted by Dennis Miller-last year and was shocked by the relative honesty and frequency of AIDs-related jokes.

Ed Batista said...

Todd, if you’re tempted by “80s Hits Stripped!”, I recommend Nouvelle Vague:

Not quite the same, but quite satisfying.