LONG LIVE THE 1980s PT.1
What's with all the 1980s hate? Nobody seems nostalgic for the Reagan years but me. Is it the Michael J. Fox haircuts that everyone wants to forget? The emergence of Bon Jovi? The phenomenon that was 'Beverly Hills Cop'? The mayoralty of Ed Koch? I personally enjoyed every one of those cultural landmarks, including Reagan (who my father instantly called out as having Alzheimers, years before anyone else noticed).
The 1980s were my college years. I met my first girlfriend, acquired a pot/cigarette habit (long since extinguished), developed my first healthy dose of cynicism toward the media and acquired a love and fascination with all things New York City-centric. My weekends were filled with walking tours, old movie-revival houses (remember them?), pizza places and coffee shops. Manhattan had bookstores on every corner, crazy homeless people all over the place, old tired and shabby men who lived in hotels in Times Square, pimps, hookers and Donald and Ivana Trump. Jesus.
Most importantly, the 80s saw the emergence of one of my favorite comedic minds--the often misunderstood and back-in-the-day much reviled Howard Stern. Back before people thought of him as anything more than a foul-mouthed stripper/racist/creep magnet, I recognized his connection to the great self-hating, self-deprecating, self-righteous Jewish humor tribe that I've always loved, headed by Groucho and epitomized by Jack Benny. Nobody agreed with me back then but, lets face it, it turned out I was right. (It doesn't matter in the long run since Stern himself couldn't care less--I've attempted to get on his show every time I've had a movie come out and it's never surprised me that he doesn't respond since he hates the non-violent, non-comic book kinds of movies I make). Still, I'll never forget one day in 1983, driving upstate to my college from the city on a Monday afternoon (I made sure to always arrange my classes so as to have either Friday or Monday off, thus permitting me a luxurious three-day weekend all throughout my college career) and tuning into WNBC. It was the firsts time I'd heard Stern, who I had no previous knowledge of. He was discussing the relative difference in size of Jewish men's penises and Chinese men's penises. I remember pulling over to the side of the road, shocked, appalled and convulsed with laughter. Imagine? Now we're used to this kind of stuff. But as the above air check (from his WNBC show in the early 80s) shows, there was a time when things that are now old news were once new--like Stern, the Bush family, Talking Heads, Meryl Streep and home computers. The 1980s are dead. Long live the 1980s.
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 6:39 AM