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Weekly Wrap: Our Lives in the 80s

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I don’t normally run ads on LitPark, but what the hell, I like these folks and they’ve been good to me:

I’ll have more to say about this in the next few weeks, I’m sure. Okay, on to the weekly wrap . . . .


What a fun week, hearing all of your stories of what you did (and wore!) in the 80s. And who knew so many of us writers used to dance at Tracks nightclub in D.C.?! Graduates of Tracks University: Lance Reynald, Alexander Chee, Elizabeth Crane, Amy Bryant, mattilda, Amy Kiger Williams, me. Any more out there? If anyone can find me a non-x-rated link to Tracks, I’ll post it here with a credit to you.

I promised some photos, so here we go:

This is when I was in junior high. I did not fit well into any one group (though I wanted to be a grit).

Well, here’s a nice dress from the 80s – the gray and pink theme (you probably can’t see the ultra-thin pink headband, but I know you can see the shoulder pads). This is inside of DARPA, where I typed my school papers and learned about robots and arpanet.

Here’s a boy I dated in high school (this is the best of him). I told a story about him once at Happy Ending, or some such NYC club. (Mom, don’t click the link!)

If you think the bad 80s outfits ended in high school, you obviously didn’t know me in college.

I’m going to finish up by posting a couple photos of my best, best friend from college (in his 80s gear). I miss him something awful, and maybe he’ll be able to find me now.

Anyone here remember that poster? Boy, I sure don’t remember having sconces in my old dorm room – funny the things you take for granted.

And just in case anyone wondered if I might be a neatnik, here’s a shot of my dorm. It looks like it might actually swallow my friend. If you could take a picture of the inside of my head, it would probably look the same.


Don’t forget who started all this talk of 80s clothes and music and movies. If you haven’t checked out Amy Bryant’s book, POLLY, yet or made her your MySpace friend, now’s an excellent time.

And thanks to all of you who answered the Question of the Week: Simon Haynes, amy, mattilda, Robin Slick, Myfanwy Collins, Aimee, margy1248, mary, Kris Yankee, Avital, Ronlyn Domingue, Kimberly, Tish Cohen, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, *Joe*, Paula, Betsy, Lance Reynald, Pete, Gail Siegel, Antoine Wilson, n.l. belardes, Noria, Claudia, Jordan, Richard, Deidre Bonham, Jim Simpson, Jonathan Evison, Megan, Bruce Hoppe, Ric Marion, Aurelio, Carolyn Burns Bass, Alexander Chee, Leary, Paul A. Toth, Brent Robison, Mark Bastable, my favorite editor in the universe, Tom Williams, and my fabulous, O. Henry Award-winning webmaster, Terry Bain.

A quickie note about Paul Toth, who runs a totally engaging and original podcast: He’s offering writers a chance to read their work on his show. It can’t be self-published work, sorry, but if you have something published online or you want to read a bit from your book, send your bio to tothnews at aol dot com and stick LITPARK SENT ME in the heading. Paul’s one of the real good guys in this business and I hope some of you will go get to know him. Oh – and if you click here, you’ll hear why I should never do radio, and really, why I shouldn’t talk on the phone, either.


Stop by tomorrow for the last-ever Saturday on LitPark (yep, that’s right, my family wants me all to themselves on weekends). Robin Slick will be here to announce next week’s guest.


P.S. for Neil: Penn Jillette

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  • mattilda
    February 2, 2007

    Tracks in the ’80s? I was there probably in ’89 — now I’m gonna have to go back and read those stories, for sure.

  • mattilda
    February 2, 2007

    Okay, I couldn’t resist posting more to the ’80s reminisces, now that I know so many of you are from DC!!! I don’t usually talk about DC, but this was fun…

  • LaurenBaratz-Logsted
    February 2, 2007

    My husband and I used to wash Nile Rodgers’ windows!

  • Robin Slick
    February 2, 2007

    Ha ha – my son played the closing night at CBGB’s in October with the guys from Ween and Nile Rodgers was in the audience and told him he was a kick ass drummer. Actually, I had to drag that out of my said son…he called me from New York after the show and casually said “Oh, hey, Mom, I just met Nile Rodgers — he’s really cool.”

    And I said “You’re kidding me. Did he say anything else?” My son: “Not really…oh yeah, well, okay, he did say I’m a kick ass drummer.”

    Arghh….well, at least he still tells me things, even if he’s jaded and/or humble.

    Anyway, what a great week of comments from your readers here — the interview with Amy Bryant (I cannot wait to read Polly) — and your fabulous, fabulous story on The Nervous Breakdown.

    I can just see you being interviewed on national television after your new novel is published and you are number one on the NYT best seller list.

    “I became a writer in a very roundabout way but if you must know, it all really started with a semen stained dress…”

    Ha ha – oh little Susie — Whatta we gonna tell your Mama…Whatta we gonna tell your Pa…
    Whatta we gonna tell our friends when they say “ooh-la-la”

    So I’m both the emcee and the Saturday finale tomorrow, huh. I’m tempted to make a really sick Dick Clark joke but that would be in bad taste so I won’t. But ahhh…to have my name and Neil’s linked on the same page by someone other than myself…

    And oh Christ, I guess I’d better do the Penn Jillette thing on my blog later, too – otherwise I lose status as Gaiman uber groupie.

  • *Joe*
    February 2, 2007

    Well that was a fun week of 80s nostalgia. My wife wants to kill you though. I’ve been going around singing that Plastic Bertrand song “Ca Plane Pour Moi” – or the nasty Elton Motello version – all week.

    Jet Boy! Jet Girl! Oo, Oo, Oo, Oo!

    Yeah. The Echo & The Bunnymen poster. I didn’t have one personally but… then again I was hardcore… ha ha!

  • Carolyn Burns Bass
    February 2, 2007

    Never mind the Greek, Susan. He probably has hair all over his back by now.

    The summer of ’72 and into my freshman year in HS I had the biggest crush on Mark Spitz. That shot you posted of him at The Nervous Breakdown? I had a lifesized poster of it on my bedroom door.

  • Myfanwy Collins
    February 2, 2007

    LOVE the shoulder pads!!! I had to tear shoulder pads out of things because I’m broad shouldered and the shoulder pads on top of these things were just wrong. Oh so very wrong.

  • Susan Henderson
    February 2, 2007

    Oh. My. God. Mark Bastable, I can’t believe you snuck this gem into the Monday thread where no one would find it. Ha ha! I have never seen you wear polka dots or clap before. Okay, everyone, click here:

    The volume sucks, and maybe Mark can find a way to crank it up, but …. ha ha ha! I love it!

  • Susan Henderson
    February 2, 2007

    Hey, everyone, a lot’s been happening the past few days – lots of publishers writing to LitPark for my manuscripts – and I’m GRATEFUL! Quick shout out to my favorite postman ever, ****RICHARD!****, and not just because he’s cute and has a British accent. The main reason I love *****RICHARD!***** is because he does this special thing to all my important packages. He kind of hugs them and rubs good luck over them – it cracks up everyone who’s standing in line – so today he did that to all the manuscripts I mailed out.

    Okay, on to the comments:

    mattilda – What a DC crew we have here! I added you to the Tracks University crowd in today’s post.

    Lauren – That is funny! (Do you still do windows?)

    Robin – I can’t believe the life your kids are having! I don’t think I’ve ever been called kick ass about anything. Must be a great feeling.

    *Joe* – Okay, okay, I wasn’t hardcore, though I have a PIL ticket stub somewhere. Apologize to your wife for me.

    Carolyn – HA! And sadly, I was over him even as we were dating. He’s not my type AT ALL.

    Myf – I have football player shoulders, too. Wearing shoulder pads on top of them was just plain corny.

    Mark – I’m going to go back and watch your video again. Who knew the esteemed writer for Esquire sang in an 80’s band?

    And I’m going to move Tom Williams’ comments over to this thread, where you can see them. And all I can is that I want a photo of you with a ponytail!

    78. Tom Williams

    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.

  • LaurenBaratz-Logsted
    February 2, 2007

    I don’t still do windows, Susan, but my husband still has his business.

  • Lance Reynald
    February 2, 2007

    wow, those pics are ……something.
    Tracks University does indeed seem to have produced some of the finest, and knowing the type well I’m certain we’d all get together in the same type of place and scoff at everyone else getting it all wrong. If nothing else we were all well trained in…..fabulosity?? I loved the park this week Susan…oddly enough fit right in with some of my re-write, you’ll see soon enough…
    Thanks To Amy Bryant for taking me down some of the best memories I have!
    Thanks to my fellow Tracks Alumni for the memories that put a smile on my face!
    can’t wait to see what Robin has up her sleeve.
    have a great weekend everyone!!
    I’m gonna go spin some of the old school tunes and think of the rest of ya out on the dancefloor at Tracks, I’m pretty sure that a younger, drunker me might have made out with a few of ya in those dark corners. it just worked out like that back then.

  • Susan Henderson
    February 2, 2007

    Lauren – Do you ever write about it? I have this unreasonable fascination with window washers and tree limb cutters (the ones who climb the tree in special shoes and wear a cable.

    Lance – Oh no. You know when a wordsmith uses the word “something,” he has decided to skip over the words he fears might be insulting.

  • Aurelio
    February 2, 2007

    Don’t scold me for being here, Susan – I wrote diligently all week. Besides, I can’t resist old pictures of you.

  • *Joe*
    February 3, 2007

    Oh Susan. You are definitely hard core in my book after reading the blue dress story. Public Image huh? As long as you didn’t drive to the show in a Subaru that’s fairly hard core.

    I will admit it. I once owned the sound track to “Pretty in Pink” and wore a Member’s Only jacket with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. But I never held a boom box over my head playing “In Your Eyes” to woo a girl. It was a New Order song.

  • mattilda
    February 3, 2007

    Susan, good luck with the manuscripts, I mean the people reading them…

  • LaurenBaratz-Logsted
    February 3, 2007

    Susan, my next comedy for the adult market, due out later this year, is called BABY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF JIMMY CHOOS. It’s about a window washer named Delilah Sampson who suffers from having an addictive personality. When she reads a pair of shoes described in a book, she becomes so fascinated, she seeks out the shoes. She falls in love with the shoes and winds up taking up her father’s addiction – professional gambling – working her way through casinos from CT to LV to feed her Choo habit. And, yes, there’s plenty of window-washing action. Come to think of it, there are lots of scenes with yo-yos and even one with Tom Jones too.

  • Susan Henderson
    February 3, 2007

    Aurelio – I’ve missed you! Enough with the book, just come back and play!

    *Joe* – Sigh. I have a Subaru. Subaru was even one of my many nicknames in high school. And even though I saw PIL in concert, I had way more Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick records. Go ahead and say it – “She’s not hardcore. Not even close.”

    mattilda – Thank you. That means the world to me.

    Lauren – I’ll be reading that one! xo

  • *Joe*
    February 5, 2007

    Oh Susan. I’m tempted to keep this going. I almost said “Volvo” but something nudged me to throw in Subaru at the last moment. Probably because I’ve been casting a covetous eye at the new Forester.

  • Betsy
    February 5, 2007

    Susan, I think I had that blue belt in white… and the exact same hairstyle!

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Susan Henderson