Question of the Week: 80s

by Susan Henderson on January 29, 2007

Where were you in the 80s? And what were you doing?


Wednesday, Amy Bryant will be here to talk about POLLY, her book set in the 1980s and featuring a teenager who wears a bracelet made of fish hooks and listens to hardcore punk.

I’ll see you then. But in the meantime, if you’re on MySpace, you can make Amy your friend.


Attention, please: Next week, I’m expecting the traffic to be very very heavy. I’m not entirely sure my site or the photos I’ll be posting can withstand the traffic. And to complicate things, I’ll be on jury duty most of the day. So, if you’re interested in being in on the fun, I’m going to ask you to subscribe to the RSS feed now. The RSS view of the site should not crash. Okay, that’s all and thanks!

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon Haynes January 29, 2007 at 7:29 am

I lived in Spain until 1983, and the very last thing I did before leaving was to attend a Dire Straits concert in Valencia.

I spent the rest of the 80’s in Australia (still there, actually) First, two years in high school, then three years at uni, and the last couple in the workforce.

It’s still my favourite decade, especially the music.


amy January 29, 2007 at 10:39 am

I spent the 80s letting MTV eat my brain. I love you Martha Quinn!


mattilda January 29, 2007 at 11:03 am

Oh, the ’80s — I guess no matter how bad anything gets now, I can always think that it isn’t as bad for me as it was in the ’80s, I mean before I got away from my parents.


Susan Henderson January 29, 2007 at 12:19 pm

Simon, amy, mattilda – I’m liking this question already. And I’m afraid I’m making up 80s hairdos for each of you in my mind.


Robin Slick January 29, 2007 at 12:25 pm

I completely missed the eighties.

My mother died in the late seventies and I became legal guardian to my then ten years younger brother, even though I was still a teenager myself. Once I got my brother through middle school/high school/college, I missed him so I had kids of my own and had Irish twins — one in 1986 and one in 1987 — so that whole decade is kind of a blur, filled with everything from teenaged angst (mine and my brother) to diapers and attending Muppets on Ice extravanzas.

I strongly disagree with you all about the music – I don’t think I missed anything in the eighties. Creativity music wise peaked in the seventies and the eighties was a bunch of recycled …err..nevermind. Kids today are finally finding their way back to doing new and exciting indie music now. Yay!


Robin Slick January 29, 2007 at 12:27 pm

And that would be “extravaganza”…and I meant to erase “Irish twins” in case that offended anyone but everytime I tell people, no, Julie and Eric aren’t twins, my kids are 15 months apart, they always reply “Ah, Irish twins”…I never heard that expression before in my life until people used it on me.

Damn it, Susan, get an edit button in here.



Myfanwy Collins January 29, 2007 at 1:21 pm

I went through junior high, high school, and college all in the 80s (lucky me). I was not cool. I was not punk. I was as dorky as they come. I listened to a lot of hair bands and since we lived near the Canadian border, my friends and I spent most every weekened at a bar called the “Cul de Sac” in a small town across the border.

Unfortunately, photos of me from this period in my life still survive. But I do love the 80s despite all of the bad clothes and hair.

My perm! My perm! What was I thinking?


Aimee January 29, 2007 at 1:29 pm

Robin: Irish people use the term…I think they invented it so I don’t believe it is or ever has been used in a negative way.
In the 80’s I was playing with My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, and Cabbage Patch Kids. I was also listening to my Brother’s music because he had to drive me back and forth to gymnastics lessons. I was the first kid in my 5th grade class to wear a concert tee-shirt. It was a neon The Cure shirt my Brother bought me. I also liked the Pixies and The Smiths.
I was the baby of the family and there was a big gap between me and my siblings so I spent a lot of time alone, reading and imagining. I also watched a lot of General Hospital which pleased my babysitters to no end!


margy1248 January 29, 2007 at 1:33 pm

I graduated from high school in ’80, got my B.A. in ’84, and spent the remainder of the decade following my then-Marine husband from station to station. I was aware of ’80s music for the first half of those years, but would have to agree that the bulk of what I remember and still love was produced in the seventies. 1989 brought with it our first child, and the beginning of a new chapter in the book of our lives.


mary January 29, 2007 at 1:46 pm

I spent most of the ’80s in Catholic elementary school. I graduated in 1989. A year later I would discover hair dye and punk rock. It was a good time, except for the whole being-in-junior-high part.


Kris Yankee January 29, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Ahhh….the 80’s. In the middle of the decade I graduated from high school, spent much of my time in downtown Detroit at a club my parents would’ve killed me if they’d known, went to college and spent my junior in Spain. Homework was done while watching MTV. My Sony Walkman played The Cure, The Smiths, Adam Ant, U2, Erasure, Psychedelic Furs, Eurythmics, FYC, KTP, The Housemartins and Sarah McLachlan to just name a few. The clothes and the hair were ridiculous, but will never be forgotten. It was a time in my life that I’ll always remember as having a sense of home while striking out on my own, if that makes sense.

Thanks for asking this question, Susan!


Avital January 29, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Oh, the eighties…In their first half I traveled in Europe and in the Far East for long periods of time, in their second half I settled down. I remember quite a lot of Sade, J.J. Cale and Morrisei music from those years.


Ronlyn Domingue January 29, 2007 at 2:21 pm

I spent the 80s reading too much, writing bad stort stories and plays, and listening to Duran Duran, Sting, and Rush. My Banana Republic t-shirt bearing the words “Ministry of Propaganda” was my favorite. I can still wear it, and do despite some bleachy stains on the bottom hem. (Why the asymmetrical, baggy clothes look is coming back seems like a fashion crime all over again.)


Kimberly January 29, 2007 at 2:37 pm

three things:

spiral perms, surf bangs and duran duran.

need I say more?


Tish Cohen January 29, 2007 at 2:44 pm

I lived my 80s teen years in Southern California and spent Friday nights “scoring” blueberry wine from strangers outside of liquor stores, then driving into Hollywood with my best friend. We’d park the car and climb the gates to Errol Flynn’d burned-out estate. Inside was an overgrown jungle so thick and dark we couldn’t see the sky until we got to the top of the hill–way up near the Hollywood sign. There, we’d pass Errol’s old tennis court and a few outbuildings before coming to the clearing at the top, where we used to park ourselves and pray the brush wasn’t filled with murderers (we later found out it was. Pedophiles too). Those treks up the hill were so terrifying we used to cry all the way up, but the view was worth every tear.

We were always too drunk to cry on the way down, and off we’d go to The Odyssey, best club in H-wood in those days. My 80s fashion statement was white face powder, silver lipstick, ratted hair and my actor uncle’s Planet of the Apes cape.


Susan Henderson January 29, 2007 at 2:55 pm

Am I going to be the only one here who fesses up to owning The Double Dutch Bus song? (Ooh, I love Google! Lyrics: and Sample:

Robin – Your story breaks my heart. (P.S. As you know, I take great pleasure in seeing writers unable to correct their posts. Wahaha!)

Myf – I’m thinking of digging out a photo with shoulder pads in it. Shoulder pads on teenagers is really a disturbing look.

Aimee – Awww. Which Little Pony did you have?

Margy – Welcome!

Mary – I was not a fan of junior high either. I think it’s just there for humbling and character-building, if you survive it.

Kris – Yes, the clothes and hair are unforgettable. That’s one word for it! I had some zip-up, gray/pink/and turquoise jumpsuit I wish I could find a photo of. I might have to dig through the old yearbook.

Avital – You’ve had such an interesting life. I hope you’ll write a memoir some day.

Ronlyn – I noticed that, too. I’m thinking once was enough!

Kimberly – Ha! I’ll have to see photos. I meant to tell you congratulations about what happened at Sundance!


LaurenBaratz-Logsted January 29, 2007 at 2:58 pm

I partied my way through college up until graduation in 1983. Three months later, I met the man who would become my husband, Greg Logsted. I worked as an independent bookseller for the rest of the decade, leaving for two years from 85-87 to help Greg set up his cleaning business. My hair during that decade was mostly long and permed, and we got married in the last year of the decade, honeymooning in the Dominican Republic, where I managed to pick up a parasite. Twelve days after our return I totalled my car in a crash the cops said should have killed me twice: the crash itself, which was strong enough to accordion the car; and when I blithely vaulted a live wire that had come down across the driver’s-side door. I walked away without a scratch.


Robin Slick January 29, 2007 at 3:19 pm

Oh man, speaking of hair, I have got to get access to a scanner. I just found the one I was looking for – me in 1985 – I had a dyed burgundy mullet with Chrissie Hynde bangs.

And I have suddenly remembered a lot of cool music very dear to me from the eighties – XTC, Prince, Tears for Fears, Talking Heads, Massacre, The Residents, Dead Kennedys, John Zorn, and of course Adrian Belew. Sorry…I typed my original post before I had my morning tea.


Aimee January 29, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Susan: I had Cotton Candy. I forgot to mention that aside from Peter Jennings my first crushes included everyone in Duran Duran and the lead singer of Aha. The 80’s were fun. Especially singing Like a Virgin at 8 years-old and wondering why my Father told me never to sing that song again, clutching his heart and complaining of chest pains.


*Joe* January 29, 2007 at 3:46 pm

My nightmare is that I’m a contestant on a game show slam dunking the questions when this category comes up in the Double Jeopardy round. Then I stand there with a blank look on my face gasping like a carp trying to remember the name of that actor/president guy.

Using police reports and unreliable eyewitness testimony I know that I was a punk, a drunk, a druggie and living in NYC, NJ, MA, VT & the UK. I worked in bookstores, bars, television & radio stations (with Gene Rayburn, Danny Terrio and Meg Griffin if those names mean anything to anyone), on a fishing boat, in a screen door factory, at a publishing company, a deli, a legal aid society, an environmental organization, a farm, and a ski resort. I didn’t work. I went to school. I got tossed out of clubs, schools & bar/bat mitzvahs. I was sighted hitching around Europe with some dodgy characters, a bad haircut and a harmonica. And I finished up the decade barricaded in a rusty trailer in the back country where my only friends were Black Bushmills single malt whiskey, a dog named Lucifer and the Amway guy.

Thank god for credit card receipts and disposable cameras huh?

Don’t ask me what order those things happened in. *gasp *gasp*


Paula January 29, 2007 at 3:47 pm

So is it officially time for people to start being nostalgic about the 80s?

Does this mean I’m officially old?

No. I can wax nostalgic about the 20s or the 60s all the live long day. Generations with flappers and speakeasies or social revolutionists who call themselves hippies and flower children, and even the people who hated those folks in their day — I can respect those things.

But the 80s? I actually lived through that … 1987 high school graduate here. The birth of the Me- and MTV-generation and Reaganomics? What on earth is there to love about any of that?

I have friends who currently think it is the funnest, hippest, darn-good-timingest thing, like, ever, to go pay good money to hear 80s music at clubs and, sometimes, even revisit the “fashion.” GAH!

I hated this question when I read it, but the answers are some of my favorites of all time, Susan!

and I fell compelled to mention that, like Robin, I haven’t had my morning coffee yet…


Betsy January 29, 2007 at 4:50 pm

I’d rather not speak of it.


Lance Reynald January 29, 2007 at 5:13 pm

the glory days?

I spent most of the 80s in grammar school and high school, escaping my hum-drum existence via the early days of MTV on the console television in the den (the consolation television?),The sight of Annie Lennox changed my life, The sensory Experience of Andy Warhol’s 15 Minutes on MTV altered my misery and made me realize that no matter how different from all the other prep school brats that somewhere out there I was just like some “them”…I was too young to understand the world around me, the Reagan Years are nothingness to me, a blur of advice and ideas I never wanted to heed (just say no? to drugs?? any Yuppies out there?) And at this very moment the lyrics of Duran Duran’s “planet earth” seem stuck in my head bringing a flood of memories back. The 80s were both the best and worst of times for me. The greatest struggle that laid the groundwork for great strength and a certain identity I have finally settled into. An era of sneaking out to commander salamander to have my hair painted and ditching my britches great outdoors preppy self to find something the Duran Boys dsubbed as “new romantics” and venturing just a bit firther and darker with the Cure then The Smiths… the formative years and a great source for this especially long winded comment. A road I travel often as it was a creative happy time for me.


Pete January 29, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Ah, the 80s. After looking over the other comments, it seems we’re all of an age. I always get confused though — which generation are we again? X?

At any rate, I too was in junior high, high school, and the first attempt at university during the 80s. Yes, it was the greatest music, although I listened to “oldies” even then as well.

The very first video I ever saw on MTV was the Eurythmics, “Sweet dreams.” The whole decade can be summed up for me by having a cow wearing a mask that sports weird mystical symbols (the mask, not the cow — as far as I know, there were no weird brands on the cow).


Gail Siegel January 29, 2007 at 5:35 pm

1980: In Grad School in Ann Arbor
1982: Moved to Chicago to be a political organized and get married
1982: Equally important: discovered styling gel, which changed my life, unhooking me from the hair dryer.
1985: First baby – Wes
1989: Second baby – Meredith
1985-1990: On my days off, danced around the living room with my babies to REM or Toad the Wet Sprocket or U2
I didn’t write my first attempt at a short story until 1991, the morning of the day that our house burned down.


Gail Siegel January 29, 2007 at 5:36 pm

organizeR not organized. i too need an edit button.


Antoine Wilson January 29, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Madera, California (78-82).
Santa Monica, California (83-83).
Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia (83-84).
Winchcombe, UK (84).
Back to Santa Monica (85-89+)

Culturally, I started the decade in a haze of Devo, Piers Anthony, Secret Seven, BMX bikes, anthropology, and David Bowie. I ended the decade hooked on Jesus and Mary Chain, Bauhaus, Shakespeare, Guns N Roses, and David Bowie.

I wrote my first book (7th grade: “Potions are Unpredictable”) and my first produced play (High School: “Oh No, Not the Ducks, Too!”).

I watched an astonishing number of Three’s Company reruns.

That’s about it.


n.l. belardes January 29, 2007 at 6:48 pm

1980: First Walkman. The Police rocked. The Empire Strikes Back changes my life. So did the video games Defender and Asteroids. I am still an addict.
1981: MTV-sucked rebellious youth. Oreos after school and watching videos. Raiders of the Lost Ark changes my life.
1982: High School. 1st mullet.
1983: Broken leg. Started reading more.
1984: U2 Unforgettable Fire Tour. Hanging out in Hollywood trying to find Bono. Sixteen Candles at the theatre.
1985: Live Aid on TV. High school sucked.
1986: Graduated, but no direction in life. Ferris Bueller becomes a defining cinematic moment. I know. I had way too many defining moments… still do.
1987: Lloyd Cole’s Mainstream didn’t leave my headset.
1988: ug.
1989: splat. Started working in factories… first kid born…


Noria January 29, 2007 at 7:20 pm

When I was little I asked my mother why did some old ladies wear their hair in big beehive hairdos, she told me that’s what was fashionable when they were young, and wearing their hair that way made them feel young.

I’ve become one of those beehive-hairdo ladies: I never STOPPED living in the 80s.


Susan Henderson January 29, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Tish – I want to see a movie of your childhood!

Lauren – Holy shit!

Robin – Definitely send me the photo. The professor I used to have a crush on was a big XTC fan. I just Googled him and he’s an old man. He looks like a fat Aaron Spelling.

Aimee – I’m never going to get rid of the image of you playing with Cotton Candy. (I used to have a crush on Aaron … Aaron … what’s the name of that guy on CNN who did all the 9-11 coverage? Isn’t it sad that’s the last time I watched the news?)

*Joe* – You better be writing a memoir!

Paula – Me, too! And how great to know some of you come here before you have your coffee.

Betsy – The pop culture junkie has nothing to say? I don’t believe it! Hey, I started your book last night and LOVE it! I know I was supposed to start a long time ago but I’ve been busy firing my agent (a happy thing!!) and other things.

Lance – You have to tell me what clubs you used to go to. I have a feeling you and me and Amy (and Roy Kesey and John Leary and Jim Ruland) were all dancing together and not knowing it. My favorite place was deep in the hood and everyone blew whistles. Any idea what that place was called?

Pete – They said we were the me-generation, the lazy bums, and it turns out we did more volunteer and non-for-profit work than any other generation.

Gail – That’s terrifying about your house burning down, and what an entry into the world of writing!

Antoine – Welcome! I like you already – the combination of Saudi Arabia and Three’s Company and anthropology is my kind of blend!

n.l. – I forgot about Lloyd Cole! I’m going to dig him out right now!

Noria – Picture, please!


Lance Reynald January 29, 2007 at 7:29 pm

deep in the hood with whistles….?
there were a few….how deep in the hood? navy yards? dupont? addams morgan?
I’ll throw a few names out there and see if I have any takers.
The Pier, Rascals, Poseurs, Rumours, Tracks, Lost & Found, The Mirage, Third Edition, Dakota, Cities, 9:30 Club, The Vault (later known as Fifth Column)and any number of odd italian/middle eastern joints that always managed to serve minors…oh yeah and barrel house liquors alway accepted that lousy fake ID I had made at the copy shop on K street…and I’m pretty sure that fake from Electromaxx worked for a while but then I lost it on a trip to Austin. OH….I just remembered some crazy afterhours place that was like an all ages night in Chevy Chase….what was that place??


Susan Henderson January 29, 2007 at 7:40 pm

There were prostitutes and guns near the club, so pretty far, I’d say. Go-go and funk. Lots of drag queens inside.

Yes on Poseurs, 9:30 – those were the closest to my house.


LaurenBaratz-Logsted January 29, 2007 at 7:45 pm

Sue, I take it your “Holy shit!” refers to the idea of me with permed hair?


Lance Reynald January 29, 2007 at 7:48 pm

yeah….that sounds like tracks.


Robin Slick January 29, 2007 at 8:00 pm

nl – I was pregnant with my daughter — first trimester — and in the bathroom every 15 minutes but yep, I attended Live Aid in Philly. It had to be 100 degrees out and it was the first time I ever attended a rock concert clean and sober, but only because I was pregnant. I’ll never forget what happened. People had mirrors out all around me with thick lines of coke, snorting, and those in charge of the festival were worried we would all die of heat exhaustion so they decided to turn huge hoses on us to cool us down. Oh my god. Thousands of dollars of coke washed away everywhere. People were screaming – it was terrifying.

I had to time my bathroom trips accordingly. Joan Baez: Throw up and pee. Phil Collins – ditto. Kenny Loggins – yep. Madonna – pushed in front of the line throwing up and peeing simultaneously.

Other than that, most amazing concert ever. Well, except for the ARMS Concert in NYC, before kiddies and before, err, partial sobriety.


Claudia January 29, 2007 at 8:04 pm

I was a high school freshman in 1984. I got on the bus before six in the morning, rode across the city to go ‘PVA – the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas. I had long hair and big glasses until my senior year – then I lost the glasses but still had the hair. I read more than I will ever read again in my life. In 1988 I went across the country, to college. I saw New York City and lost the hair, listened to cool music, got my first boyfriend, decided I could be a writer.


Claudia January 29, 2007 at 8:08 pm

I still love John Hughes.

My friend Crissy and I thought “Come on Eileen” was all about Irish politics – that’s what Crissy said so I believed her.
Maybe she was right.


Susan Henderson January 29, 2007 at 8:12 pm

Lance – Tracks! That was it! I loved that place!

Robin – I wonder if Ritchie will come here and tell his Joan Baez story.

Claudia – What a great story. I’d love to see you with the long hair.


Jordan January 29, 2007 at 8:46 pm

I was but a wee babe in the 80s, which consumed most of middle school and half of high school in a northern California burb known for its obscene wealth and hot tubs. One of my parents was on welfare, the other sold illegal substances.

-I was babysat by MTV and some really bad sitcoms I’m embarrassed to admit I watched (cough, Different Strokes, cough Silver Spoons)

-I was the only girl with a name like Jordan at a time when all my friends were Sarahs and Jennifers (all good names!)

-I loved Adam Ant, Devo, Heart, Joan Jett, Til Tuesday, Men at Work, The Police, The Cars, The buggles, etc


Lance Reynald January 29, 2007 at 8:55 pm

then I fear we may have met in a past life… um…certainly I was….altered and usually … it’s complicated, the word notorious comes up and on the whole we’ve all done well for ourselves in spite of…
this story is gonna need a few drinks…


n.l. belardes January 29, 2007 at 9:04 pm

Lloyd Cole’s latest album Antidepressant is pretty good…


n.l. belardes January 29, 2007 at 9:16 pm

And for some reason I just remembered being thrown out of the boy’s gym after first period by football players… in my tightie whities. 1985. It was my birthday. 🙂


n.l. belardes January 29, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Robin: You were at Live Aid! Oh, but in Philly… that didn’t count. Just jarshin’… By the way, how dare you diss 80s music. next thing you’re going to say Pretty in Pink was a bad film. Shame on you.


Betsy January 29, 2007 at 10:59 pm

Oh, there’s plenty to say but it mostly involves rubber and rhinestone bracelets, fluffy bangs, yes, shoulderpads, skinny jeans, leggings (and other lycra-oriented items) – the first time (who on god’s green earth is responsible for bringing that back?) and a parade of unfortunate boyfriends. I thought Judd Nelson was cute, to put you in the ballpark.
While I’m here – Lance – THE PIER! I’d need some drinks to tell my Pier stories as well. I for sure needed them for the Pier.


Lance Reynald January 29, 2007 at 11:38 pm

ok. one last bit for the “hometown crew”…
this gem is just so ripe with continuity and irony I can’t resist pulling it out here.
The Cerebus Theatre (where all us DC brats would’ve seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show) is now a Barnes and Noble.

crazy how that worked out huh?? still packing us into the same building…


Robin Slick January 30, 2007 at 12:07 am

nl, in one of life’s cruelest moments since I was forced to watch Sleepless in Seattle by some horrible mother of one of my kid’s pals (the very worst thing about parenthood – having other parents forced upon you who want to be “friends”), yes, I rented Pretty in Pink because for one brief moment, until he opened his mouth for real on the David Letterman show and I realized he was an idiot, I was enamoured with James Spader after seeing Sex, Lies and Videotape.



Richard January 30, 2007 at 12:15 am

I split my time between New York City and South Florida in the 80s. For much of the decade, I was in my thirties, and that seemed a good time to retire so I spent the cold half of the year in Fort Lauderdale or Miami and the warm half in apartments on the Upper West Side and Rockaway Beach.

Two of my hardcover collections of short stories appeared in 1982 and 1983 and I taught English and computer education at Broward Community College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Brooklyn College, Baruch College, Touro Collge, The School of Visual Arts, Kingsborough Community College and Florida International University.

In 1982 got 25% of the vote running for the Davie, Florida, Town Council on a platform of giving horses the right to vote. My 1984 joke campaign for President got coverage in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, People, USA Today, the L.A. Times and lots of other papers.

I had residencies at the MacDowell Colony in ’80 and ’87, at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in ’81 and ’82, and at the Millay Colony in ’84.

I got individual artist fellowships from the Florida Arts Council in ’81 and ’88 and a writer-in-residence award from the New York State Council on the Arts in ’88-’89, serving at the Rockland Center for the Arts.

I accumulated 69 graduate credits in computer education and taught Basic and Logo programming, word processing, spreadsheet and database management, and courses in educational software in the Miami-Dade school system.

I was on the staff at writers’ conferences at Francis Marion College and Winthrop College in South Carolina and was a guest teacher for five years at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, the city’s arts high school. I taught at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted summer program at Randolph-Macon College for Women in Lynchburg, where I met Jerry Falwell.

For a year and a half I was a humor columnist for the Hollywood (Florida) Sun-Tattler.

I got paid more money than I ever made from all my books for an article about a supposed celebrity shortage that I wrote in one day which was published in People Magazine.

I appeared in the PBS documentary “Back Wards to Back Streets,” about deinstitutionalization of mental patients.

I gave up writing and stopped sending out stuff in 1988.


Simon Haynes January 30, 2007 at 12:16 am

Ah, the Walkman. I remember the first time I saw one – a mate let me have a listen to his Police album. Up til then I’d only heard music through an old Russian radio set.

I still have my 80s walkman stashed away (although it’s a cheapo copy) The hours I spent listening to the radio on that thing after lights out – incredible.


Deidre Bonham January 30, 2007 at 12:44 am

The 80’s were the start of my adulthood. (Adults are just kids who owe money.) I graduated in ’81, started college on my 18th birthday. I was married at 19 and had my daughter at 20.
My memories of the 80’s besides changing diapers, were big hair, and my very preppy clothes. I couldn’t get enough Izod, Polo, and Bass. My dad would laugh when I went off to school, watching his button-down shirts go out the door on me.
Susan I posted a new blog if you’d like to come by. I enjoy the company.


Susan Henderson January 30, 2007 at 1:56 am

Jordan – The Silver Spoons admission is stored in my long-term memory vault. I’ll remember that until it gets Alzheimer’s tangled around it.

Lance – I’ve never seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Some DC brat I am. Though I’ve been to two Trouble Funk shows and met Farrakhan and Mitch Snyder.

n.l. – Pretty in Pink is worth it just for the Molly Ringwald dancing on that balcony. (Come on, Robin, you have to admit it.)

Betsy – I completely forgot about the leggings!

Richard – That’s really funny about your run for office!

Simon – Sigh. I never had a walkman. But I was kind of a techno junkie. My dad was consulting for NASA and Steve Jobs and directing DARPA for much of the 80’s, so I had the earliest, wobbliest version of lots of computer-y things.

Deirdre – I’ll stop by your blog in just a bit. : )

Hey, would the person who used to be a Marky Mark dancer drop me a note if you’re willing to be outed?


Lance Reynald January 30, 2007 at 2:15 am

I’m gonna see that Farrakhan bit and raise you a sharing a car with Jesse Jackson and a BadBrains show…


Lance Reynald January 30, 2007 at 2:16 am

not at the same time though…but what a great story that would make! Fugazi anyone??


Jim Simpson January 30, 2007 at 2:35 am

I started college in the summer of 1980, worked as a clerk in the newsroom of the St. Petersburg Times, discovered the music of The Doors and tried to be Jim Morrison for a few years, retracing his early days in Florida (I know, pitiful).

The mid-80s were a blur, but the music of Elvis Costello was my soundtrack throughout the decade.


Jim Simpson January 30, 2007 at 2:37 am

Oh, and to finish off the decade on a high note, I met my wife on April Fools Day 1989, and I’ve been a fool in love with her ever since.


Deidre Bonham January 30, 2007 at 2:38 am

You have to see Rocky Horror. That’s where I spent all of my Saturday midnights in college. Only see it though if there going all out with the props and extra lines. It’s a blast.


Jonathan Evison January 30, 2007 at 3:25 am

. . . in the early 80s, much to the chagrin of my poor mother, i was something of a child punk rock prodigy, fronting a garage band called march of crimes and publishing a fanzine called simplex one . . .


Megan January 30, 2007 at 5:31 am

Live Aid!

I forgot all about Live Aid! That was the highlight of my life that summer! I went in Philadelphia and when I came back to Boulder for the school year I wore that damn sweatshirt to junior high every other day.

None of the kids out here believed me that I went.


Bruce Hoppe January 30, 2007 at 12:24 pm

Somewhere in Colorado, horseback in a pasture full of cattle. And it still hasn’t gotten any better than that.


Ric Marion January 30, 2007 at 3:02 pm

Started the decade listening to news of John Lennon’s death in the uhaul moving from Michigan to Houston in search of work. Got t-boned by a drunk – “call his wife, he’s not going to live” and, from a coworker who saw the car, “God really wants you to write that book.” Loaded another uhaul and came back home.
Even though we saw Bob Seger on tour, country seeps in through osmosis. you wake up one morning and find three of the buttons on your car radio are tuned to country.
Another stint at General Motors, the purchase of Rockfall, my little home along the river, three sons – 82,86,89, daughter’s graduation, little league, cub scouts, friends and community. Editor job at farm newspaper (because you can write and know the working end of a cow), then columns in big paper.
First computer – Apple IIGS
Don’t recall any decent music – AND car radio still has two buttons on country.

Great question, Susan.


Susan Henderson January 30, 2007 at 3:14 pm

So last night I felt like I got food poisoning or something. Even my spine hurts, all the way up to my neck. And my very awesome neighbor who I have weekly sign language coffee hours with just brought over some ginger ale. My neighbor and I go back and forth to each others’ houses so often (the kids, too) that we went ahead and made a gate in our fence to make it easier. Anyway, I hope you all have a neighbor like this. Even though I still feel like shit.

Lance – There will be plenty of Bad Brains and Fugazi talk tomorrow! I’ve met Jesse twice, by the way, he and a professor I had in grad school were good friends. I still have Jesse Jackson for president buttons at my parents’ house.

Jim – St. Petersburg Times? That’s very interesting. How cute that you met your wife on April Fools.

Deirdre – I’m really on the fence about the Rocky Horror thing. I have a group of friends who love to dress in costume, and they know I consider dressing up a kind of relentless torture. Maybe I’ll have to rent it someday if I could only figure out how to work my tv.

Jonathan – Ha ha! March of Crimes – I love it!

Megan – Who played at Live Aid?

Bruce – That sounds like a very fine life.

Ric – That is great answer!

Okay, cut it out you guys because it’s going to be murder linking everyone on Friday. Back to my food poisoning. xo!


Aurelio January 30, 2007 at 4:33 pm

I spent the early 80’s learning how to animate, draw, and paint, and the late 80’s climbing the animation industry ranks. Cartoons are serious business!


Carolyn Burns Bass January 30, 2007 at 5:08 pm

The ’80s were my golden years. College, writing and lit courses, my first job as a writer, then assistant editor for CCM magazine which took me backstage at the Grammys several years–certainly one of the highlights of my life. (Yeah, Bob Dylan!)

Late ’80s found me married, having babies, living in Japan, and experiencing real grief with the death of my father.

I can’t wait for next week, Susie baby!


n.l. belardes January 30, 2007 at 10:09 pm

Susan: Food poisoning? Ay carumba! That stuff will kill ya.

Robin: The only reason you might not like Pretty in Pink is because you’re jealous of Ducky. He was such a cool tragic and gayish male non-Diva. Just for your dissing of PIP, I’m going to imagine the lead character in your next novel as Molly Ringwald.

Oh and I do have to say that during the 1980s fashion was at an all time high and Madonna was such a cool dirty girl.

Go Police reunion tour!


Lance Reynald January 31, 2007 at 3:49 am

Ducky was the man! Blane was an appliance! you see, it set us all up for a lifetime of frustration…that and 16 candles…not even gonna get the gals going about that one…we know, we know…Jake…
but yeah, Ducky was the man…The Original Geek Chic…and the record store chick wasn’t to shabby herself…early shades of High Fidelity.
and, I can’t believe we haven’t gotten to The Breakfast Club yet?


Susan Henderson January 31, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Aurelio – I thought you were on a writing roll?! Everytime I catch you here, not working on your book, I’m going to give it to you.

Carolyn – What does CCM stand for? I’m excited about next week, too! And so is my guest!

n.l. – I still feel rotten. Robin is such a good pal, she decided to get food poisoning yesterday, too!

Lance – Okay, cutie pie, let’s move all this talk to today’s interview thread so Amy can join in. You can probably get her to rear her head if you start talking about Fugazi . . .

Lauren, Zett, Leary, Jeff Lependorf, who else – I owe you mail, I’m sorry, I’m behind and I’ll catch up before noon!


Amy Bryant January 31, 2007 at 2:48 pm

What about all the other 1980s movies? Does anyone remember the movie Reckless? Darker than John Hughes with a great soundtrack. I also loved this movie called River’s Edge with Crispin Glover and Keanu Reaves . . .


Alexander Chee January 31, 2007 at 5:58 pm

I started going to Poseurs, Tracks and the 9:30 Club when I was 16 going on 17, the summer of 1984. I had my gear from Commander Salamander, clove cigarettes and a buzz cut a la Kevin Bacon, from a salon called Bubbles.

By 1989 I was out of college, and living in San Francisco.


Leary February 1, 2007 at 3:54 am

Lance, Sue, Alexander – I probably saw you all at one time or another at the 9:30 Club or Posuers (though, sadly, not at Commander Salamander).

Memorable shows from 9:30:

The Violent Femmes!

Unfortunately, those are the only two I remember well.


Terry Bain February 1, 2007 at 7:25 am

80s. Let’s see, when were they?

Oh my. I spent half the 80s in a town with fewer than 500 hundred people in it. And no gas station. Nor grocery store. (It should probably be noted that there was a tavern.) The second half I spent in college.

What I did in either place is very hush hush. Though it is rumored that I used to perform a mean moonwalk.


Betsy February 1, 2007 at 2:55 pm

Oh, Commander Salamander! Where are you now, my hot pink zebra stripe T?


Paul A. Toth February 1, 2007 at 7:57 pm

Physically, I was hanging out in the eighties’ punk scene. Mentally, I was hanging out with William S. Burroughs in the fifties. Now that I remember it, I was split in time, half in the eighties, half in the fifties. But either way, I was “enjoying” *some* of the fruits of the eighties, i.e., no money but lots of cocaine, amongst other things. Who DID pay for all that cocaine?

On another note, my podcast (see features weekly readings by authors with print and/or online credits. Any format, genre, etc., is acceptable, and there are no restrictions of any kind. You can record your own reading, or I will do so over the phone. If interested, please send a bio to There is a backlog, but I will promptly respond and place you on the waiting list.


Aimee February 1, 2007 at 9:14 pm

I just posted a picture of me with cotton candy and me when I thought I was Madonna on my myspace. Better hurry if you want to see it and make fun of me…it won’t be there long.


Brent Robison February 1, 2007 at 11:17 pm

80s: death and rebirth. Death of my job-bound life in a conservative western city, rebirth as a self-employed New Yorker and aspiring fictionista. Death of a marriage, birth of a love. Death of my religion, birth of my spirit.

I writhed and twisted and shifted shape while Boogie Street glittered and roared all around me.

And the cycle goes on and on…..


Susan Henderson February 2, 2007 at 1:42 am

Wow, my fever just broke and I feel way, way better. I’m linking all of you tomorrow, and I’ll have some 80s pictures, too.

(Aimee, I can’t find your cotton candy my little pony photo anywhere! I’m I too late?)


mattilda February 2, 2007 at 8:39 am

Crazy! All these people from DC, I always try to forget DC. Fugazi, my friend Ellen and I would dress up for each other and drive all over town to find the Fugazi shows — we didn’t like to slam, we’d stand in the back together doing our own moves and everyone ignoring us — the faggot and the Asian girl — but we were styly. Sadly Beautiful by the Replacements, that was us. We went to Tracks with our fake IDs (yes, from a Electromaxx– I would never have remembered that!), danced on the wooden dance floor on the roof near the volleyball court with sand. Later, I would go with Erik and nine or 10 girls to the Vault, our favorite part was when the bar closed but if you were in the know you went upstairs to the after-hours, we were way under age but you just wiped the markered X off your hand and drink as many cocktails as you wanted, La Da Dee La Da Da — yes, Crystal Waters but we’re talking the acid house mix, just la da la da la da la da la da– DEEEEEEEE. Poseurs once I wore that sharkskin jacket from– what was that vintage store in Georgetown? Unique Boutique? No, that was New York. Anyway, I never wore it again — I felt too awkward. But the first warehouse parties in Adams Morgan, People Are Still Having Sex, Everybody Dance Now and I’d hide those songs in my underwear drawer because everyone knew only faggots listened to dance music, Fugazi was for the public or Minor Threat to be old-school.

It’s kind of fun to reminisce about days I generally just think of as awful because I was still trapped there, in my parents house, the legacy of their violence, their worldview, DC.


mattilda February 2, 2007 at 9:58 am

Ha –just re-reading this, by way underage I mean 15,16 — 1 more detail: did the drug dealers really carry around lunch box purses with smiley faces on them?


Mark Bastable February 2, 2007 at 11:42 am

This is what I was doing in the eighties. (Accept the download – it’s not rude and it’s not dangerous. Which is ironic, because in the eighties I’d’ve loved to have been seen as being both of those.)


Tom Williams February 2, 2007 at 3:41 pm

About the 80s. They get a bad rap. Thanks to those smarmy as hell I love the 80s shows, in which demi-celebrities reveal that no, they don’t love the 80s, they sit around and think up snarky commentary about the 80s. What do I think about the 80s? Living in suburban Columbus, Ohio and a small college town in North Central Ohio. Playing basketball before the three point line. The Replacements. Husker Du. Soul Asylum (before they sold out). Public Enemy. And Jay Freaking McInerney, who will always be, for me, author of one of the greatest books ever. I’ll go toe to toe with anyone who says different. Shoot, Carver was publishing in the 80s, John Edgar Wideman, too. Amy Hempel. Mary Robison. A fine decade. One I’m proud to have been thirteen through twenty four in. I only wish I didn’t have that stupid ponytail.


Lance Reynald February 2, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Mattilda- that vintage store on M Street was Classic Clothing- 3 floors of mothballs and handbags.

And yeah, all those things in DC were a lot of fun, though I don’t think I’d ever go back.

and, yes on the lunchboxes.


Mike Olsen March 23, 2007 at 6:38 pm

I was DJ’ing at Poseurs, working umbrella stands in OC, Maryland and graduating from GMU and getting my comission in the Infantry.


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