This week's Public Notice takes a trip down memory lane and barfs all over its prom date, as we explore Eighties revisionism.
So, we're flipping through our snail mail In Box and get snagged into the snappy design and unusual color scheme of the Austin Parks Foundation's newsletter, loaded, of course, as most non-profit newsletters are: chock full of essays about their cause, letters from the president, info on new staff members, forms to fill and return with cash contributions and the like. Then it hit us -- whacked us on the noggin like a Rick Astley Behind the Music TV special might. (And we mean no ill will whatsoever to our friends at the APF by bringing this up, but ...) The first headline on the front page read: "It's Hip to Be Square." Granted, the APF added a caret, inserting "a Downtown Historic" before "Square," making the frightening Eighties reference a tad less disturbing. And hey, we'd like to take this opportunity to say that the text under the headline in question was a pleasant mix of Austin history and modern urban relevance, stating, quite eloquently, the need for public calm space, etc. (And we hope they'll forgive our making example of them here, in light of the fact that any press is good press? Hopefully?). But, c'mon ... "Hip to Be Square"? We twitched wildly, remembering that just last week our own venerable Stubb's BBQ was the site of a harrowing exposition called "Sports," a Huey Lewis & the News tribute band.
Hip 2B Revisionist
People, people, this is getting out of hand.
It was bad enough when the Nineties dawned upon us some 10 years ago, that, as if perfectly on cue, the Western world began its twisted fascination with the Seventies, a fascination that lasted almost an entire decade! We haven't quite shaken that one. See, we lived through it all the first time (as we've probably stated to death in this column), and the first time was bad enough. But the second time, the second time is no charm. What usually happens in these cases of nostalgic revisionism is that some of the worst elements are celebrated as cultural landmarks and turning points of modern civilization (to wit: disco, polyester, cocaine, Scooby freakin' Doo ... ).
But the Eighties??? The Eighties? That almost makes us nostalgic for the Seventies!
Before we fully launch into our ballistic anti-Eighties tirade, let us, at least, make this read worth your while and get topical for a moment: The Austin Parks Foundation needs folks like you to come to meetings and get involved to determine the future of public space in our community. The first in the Neighborhood Park Partnership Series (six workshops over three Saturdays) begins this Saturday, Feb. 24 (first session, 10am-noon, second session, 1pm-4pm), at the Austin Community College Eastview Campus, and meets for the following two Saturdays, March 3 and 10. www.ci.austin.tx.us/ons/neighboracad.htm or 499-7672.
All this looking back has us cockeyed. This whole Eighties thing, people, we have to nip it in the Bud Bundy, as it were, before it grows so large and grotesque that no one can contain it. It always starts on a small scale; that headline in a newsletter seems innocuous enough, as do Goonies movie nights and John Hughes marathons, until you find yourself actually in the Thicke of it all, waxing poetic about Growing Pains or Full House and how one or the other represented a paradigm for a generation, man.
Time After Time
No, people, this is bad. Bad. Like Alexander Hayes bad. Like Ishtar bad.
Sure, the Eighties seem harmless enough. To some, the Eighties are Pac Man, Madonna, and asymmetrical hairdos. To others, they are the return of the Cold War, MTV, and tight T-shirts with mysterious (and often derogatory) sayings in Asian scripts. To us, they are leg warmers. Leg warmers, people! Do we really need to go much more deeply into this?! And "Baby on Board" for chrissakes! Do we have to spell this out?!
Resist. We are begging you. Just say no. Oh, no! Did we just say that??? Gross us out and gag us with a spoon!!!
We're not sure what we're thinking by recommending this next event. We guess since old geezers hitting the half-century mark this decade had their retro-Sixties fad in the Eighties, and since we Pong-heads of the Seventies had our turn at nostalgic ick in the Nineties, that it's only fair and fitting for those headed for their 30s in this decade to have a crack at their own brand of wistful memory making, no matter how crappy it is. Perhaps, we figure that if you just get out there and get the decade that stunk of Reagan and tasted of so much foul hair product out of your systems, that it will die a nice quiet death ... like Kajagoogoo.
L80s Nite happens this Saturday, Feb. 24, 9:30pm at Gaby & Mo's. DJ-in-residence Mel (of 626 Soul & Nasty's) will be spinning all Eighties, all nite long. It's all to benefit the Rosie Jimenez Fund, helping Texas women pay for abortion services since -- and we love the strange and ominous synchronicity of this -- 1979. 457-9027.