Most of the Walt Whitman High School Class of 1988 is turning 40 this year. Having a January birthday, I got the head start, but I've been observing (via Facebook) the behaviors of my former classmates and fellow Gen-Xers, and they're all retreating to the 80s. They're posting You Tube videos of the music we listened to back then. They're joining adult soccer leagues. They're having 80s-themed birthday parties. And all I can think is, "Well at least it's not just me."
Not that I'm joining soccer leagues (although dammit, I would've been good), but I get this retro-journey we're on. For example, my apartment walls are sorely crying out for art, and I was thinking about framing more album covers (I've already got four Duran albums hanging in the hall) and making my own art, painting Warhol-esque still-lifes of New Coke, Atari joysticks, and Rubick's Cubes. Or maybe I'd find some vintage Patrick Nagel re-prints (I have two of those in my hallway too).
And the other day while channel-surfing (and I don't have many channels to surf, so I suppose it was more like wading), I stumbled upon a Christian Slater movie. Imdb just now informed me that it was called "Pump Up the Volume" and claims that it was made in 1990, but I could've sworn it was at least three years earlier. I was not really interested in this movie-- it seemed to be filled w/ a lot of John-Hughes-wannabe, cheesy teenage angst (how John Hughes managed to get away w/ cheesy teenage angst, I don't know -- and yet, there I am, lapping it up). Kinda dumb plot too. Christian Slater is dork by day, radio shock-jock by night. The voice of his generation railing against high school oppression. Ok, so high school really is oppressive, but it's so hard to take that oppression seriously when one of the teachers is wearing a bolo tie.
I kept watching the movie not out of boredom, but observation. I was studying the clothes. And scarier still, liking them.
Ok, maybe not the acid-washed jeans -- those clearly were a mistake -- but the big t-shirts and denim skirts over the spandex leggings (which are back in style), the frosted bangs (see my previous blog post about that), guys wearing colorful checkered shirts (I wore those more than I wore girls' shirts in those days), the big round glasses, and all that mousse... I watched all of it with a strange fascination and coming to the conclusion that a) teens had much cooler clothes than adults in the 80s, and b) Christian Slater was quite the young hottie back then.
It's not that I want to wear any of that stuff again (although my friends will testify that earlier this year I bought the same kind of captain-style hat that Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes used to wear because I always wanted one, and I bought a straw summer fedora -- so un-John Taylor, but age-appropriate), and I would NEVER -- I repeat, NEVER want to return to my teenage years, or high school. But there was something oddly comforting about seeing something that was once the norm captured in a film that had little else to offer other than canned messages of free speech and rebellion.
I'm not sure what makes us go back to those days. It sure as hell wasn't a simpler time -- not for me, anyway. Whatever it is, it's calling to the writer in me. I'm jotting down notes for another novel, coming up with names, hearing little bits and pieces of backstory. And I think I know where it's going. That's all I'm willing to say for now, and I can't promise that I'll keep the acid-washed denim out of it (although lord knows I'll try). But maybe Christian Slater will get a part in the movie adaptation.