In all likelihood, you were conceived after a night of drinking and singing along to Hootie and the Blowfish, so you’re going to need some help in prepping for Snowdown and all its festivities. Let local trivia guru Ted Holteen of Super Ted’s Super Trivia (Tuesday nights at Ska Brewing) tell you all about the ’80s. He was there.
How was music in the ’80s?
Oh God, not good. Kajagoogoo is not Led Zepplin. I graduated in ’86 and it’s freaking Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.” Not the same musical legacy, you know. Terrible, terrible. Very plastic. Culture Club. Bad. Duran Duran wasn’t that bad. I was a weird kid, though. I went to this Christian school in Philadelphia when I was in the eighth grade and I got into hip-hop in like ’82, ’83. Grandmaster Flash and Curtis Blow and all that kinda shit. That’s more my ’80s music. Early Public Enemy and whatnot. I never got into the hair bands, but they were big. Poison, White Snake, all that shit. The ’80s really was a musical black hole. Even the good ones were doing bad music in the ’80s. I love David Bowie dearly, but the Glass Spider tour, or whatever the hell that was – blech. The Stones were making bad music, for Chrissake. Madonna, Michael Jackson – it was the age of pop music, rather than good music. I mean, Flock of Seagulls – what are you doing? Why are you dressed like that? Do you have a guitar, please? People were using goddamn keytars! I mean, my god.
You’re a history buff. What events stick out to you?
Jesus, the Challenger, first off. I was taking midterms in January and between classes, me and a buddy went to smoke some weed and we watched the Challenger explode live. Something was always blowing up in Lebanon, the Subway Vigilante, eight years of Reagan – talk about ridiculous. It was like “Leave It To Beaver” 30 years later. The guy lived in a dream world. Cold War, and everything. 1980 – the hockey team. I was 12 and watched the Miracle on Ice. I voted for Michael Dukakis in my first presidential election.
How about television?
It’s funny to watch some of those old shows. The most popular ones were “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers.” Most of the ’80s shows are really dated. Thank God that TV writing has gotten more intelligent since the whole “Family Ties” thing. It seems like every line in those old shows was a set-up for a gag. “Facts of Life” was basically line-line-line-punchline. Those formulaic sitcoms are remembered with nostalgia, but if you actually watch them, they’re just terrible.
Movies were a bit better. Hollywood did all right, actually. “Platoon,” a lot of the John Hughes stuff – “Breakfast Club” in particular was decent. Anthony Michael Hall was the funniest person on the planet for the first three years of the decade – and then he wasn’t. But shit, “Vacation,” “Weird Science” and “Sixteen Candles” – gold. Oh, and “Scarface.” Best movie of the ’80s.
It was almost cartoonish. We just looked ridiculous. Frankie Says Relax, the neon crap, Jordache, Sasson, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein. The big hair, the mullets – the MULLETS! People made an effort to look that way! Any other decade was kind of funny – leather jackets in the ’50s, tie-dye in the ’60s, bell bottoms in the ’70s, but everything about the ’80s was just “You’re a f#$%ing douche.”
You’re not proud of your era, are you?
Put into any historical context, it’s actually embarrassing. I mean, we had nothing. There was no war to protest, no social conscience. We had “Rambo.” And people took him seriously. It’s stunning.
Give the youngsters some tips on pop culture. Slang? One-liners?
“Where’s the beef?” from that damn Wendy’s commercial. Listen to Frank Zappa’s tune, “Valley Girl.” It’s all in there. “Like oh my God,” and “Totally,” and “Gag me with a spoon!” Dress wise, my god, I remember a lot of white pants, the blazers with the sleeves rolled up, the Members Only jackets. There’s a line from Family Guy where they’re watching “Charles In Charge” and Quagmire goes, “Nobody has any muscle tone,” and it’s very true. I don’t know what that was all about.
Here’s one for you, what the hell is ALF?
Alien Life Form. He, uh, he crash-landed and ended up living in the Tanner’s attic. Had a thing about eating cats, as I recall. He was a wise-cracking alien … puppet. And somehow a network bought that. The shit that the TV networks used to put on! Just preposterous. What a time to be writing crap scripts. “Simon and Simon,” crime-fighting brothers. Wanna buy that and put it on? Yeah? (sighs) It was a cultural void.
— Cyle TalleyCyle Talley was born in 1986 and used to have a recurring nightmare about ALF. Hence the question.