The 1980’s Redux

Nov 11, 2011 by

“History repeats itself.  That’s one of the things wrong with history.”
-Clarence S. Darrow

 I wish I could sum up a certain feeling to just déjà vu, but that would be wishful thinking.  I believe I’ve stumbled into a parallel universe, where everyday is 1986. 

Are we really going through this again?  Can we grab a few picketers from Wall Street and steer them in the direction of Brooklyn to protest bands rehashing 80’s New Wave?  Am I crazy or borderline paranoid, alone with this thought?


When the Cardinals finished off the Rangers in a dramatic seven games, I sent a text to Alan that a midwestern baseball team winning the World Series is very 80’s.  In that decade; the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, and Milwaukee Brewers all reached the World Series; with the Cardinals reaching it three times.  The Cardinals, Tigers, Twins, and Royals all took home the ultimate baseball prize by winning titles throughout the decade. 

Major League baseball’s landscape is much like the 80’s in many respects.  Before he throws a pitch, can you tell the difference between Jason Motte and Bruce Sutter?  Relievers are pudgy and extremely hairy; guts popping buttons on their uniform, full messy beards and mullets are desired.   If they weren’t wearing baseball pants and cleats, you might suspect a trucker had just been called in from the bullpen.  Teams are putting more emphasis on speed and defense; I believe a bunt was even laid down in a game featuring two AL teams this year.  Much like the 80’s, home runs are being hit at mortal rates, the complete opposite of the last two decades.  What’s next, ballparks ripping up that lush natural grass to lay down carpet?  Will teams return to the days of brown and yellow colored uniforms or the six shades of Astro orange plastered on the fronts of their jersey?

The players’ names have changed but two NBA franchises are as relevant as they were some twenty-five years ago.  Larry, Kareem, Magic, and DJ are no longer, the stars of today go by the names of, Kobe, Pau, Kevin, and Rajon, but the Celtics and Lakers still sit amongst the NBA’s elite teams. 

Over the course of the past five seasons, the Lakers and Celtics have amassed three world titles.  They have played each other in back to back finals, trending very much like the 80’s when the Lakers and Celtics played each other in three finals.  The teams completed that decade with eight titles; only Philadelphia and Detroit disrupting their runs.

Anyone notice that college basketball and NBA uniform jerseys are a bit more snug now, are the shorts next?

The 49ers are actually atop their division once again.  Need I say more?

Still not convinced?  If the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight becomes a reality, it should score huge for the boxing world, much like what the 1987 Hagler/Leonard fight brought in stature to the sport.  That 1987 fight boosted the interest among the American public more than any fight of that decade.  I would argue that no fight has captured the interest of sports fans since.  Pacquiano/Mayweather is the only match up out there today that could bring a legion of fans back to this forgotten sport.

On November 23, 1983, the AP poll had as it’s number one ranked team in Division I men’s basketball, the North Carolina Tar Heels and the number two ranked team, the Kentucky Wildcats. 

On November 2, 2011 the AP poll has North Carolina ranked number one and Kentucky number two.  A reach and a slight manipulation to prove a point, sure, but I don’t seem so crazy now, do I?


Sky rocketing unemployment rates, astronomical gas prices, conflicts in the Middle East, and an extremely upset American population watching all this shit go down under a first term Democratic President.  America was confronted these same issues during Jimmy Carter’s first and only term.  He had no chance in Hell for reelection, not even if Nixon had been brought back as the Republican nominee.  Could we see the same for President Obama?  A year from now that question will be answered, and I’m wondering if the Republicans have enough time to find a candidate with past acting experience hailing from California, whose wife likes to wear red dresses and lecture us against the dangers of drug abuse.  No one with that political resume exists, as of yet, but if a Republican candidate rises from the ashes with Reagan-like rhetoric and likeability, Mr. Obama could find himself exchanging destinies with a particular peanut farmer from Georgia.


The 80’s came and went, some never let go, (most from Wisconsin and bars with a clientele of newly divorced men and women in their mid to late 40’s) and some are embracing once again, the repugnant fashions of the decade.  The comedy of all this, ironically, comes from men.  Have you noticed men, not as a joke or part of Halloween costumes, rolling to work with a push broom on their face?  This was a look few could pull off, and we need to look hard in the mirror before entering any public venue sporting this atrocity.  Mustaches were left in the 80’s for men like Tom Selleck, Freddy Mercury, and Rollie Fingers.  (Cool 80’s guys, Selleck and Fingers, are granted a lifetime pass for wearing those past 1989)  If the calendar reads 2011, remember you are not driving a Ferrari and your last name is not Oates. 

Quickly glance down towards your feet.  Are your jeans rolled up?  I know, when flipping through the pages of GQ, that the look appears to be stylish on the male model wearing his skinny jeans and striped lavender socks.  Don’t jump on this bandwagon like you once did as a teenage boy, hoping that this look and a mixtape was all you’d need to progress from the exchange of smiles with the pretty girl to getting laid.

Women know fashion and know it well.  They take what could work now and apply the 80’s very delicately.  It might be in cool retro legwarmers, yoga pants, (basically the spandex of the new millennium) and bright colors of the Cocaine decade, but passively sprinkled throughout.  You will not see any female, of any age, thinking it will be hip to wear their hair big with bangs and sprayed with ozone killing chemicals.  Nor will any women, no matter how much Kim Fields meant to them as a young girl, would ever add shoulder pads to their cocktail dress.  I recently witnessed some girls sipping on their drinks at a coffee shop with the 1980’s Nike high tops on their feet.  The onslaught of pink, green, and purple colors painted on those sneakers would make both Salt and Pepa smile fondly. 


I would argue that the decade of the 80’s produced very good films, along with some of the worst since the days of Ed Wood.  Now Hollywood, fresh out of any and all creativity, decides to redo the shitty ones.  Did we really need a remake of Footloose?


Wondering why your speakers are spitting out familiar sounds of your youth? 

Current Artist or Band Replicating this 80’s band or Artist’s look, sound, or attitudes.  In some cases all three.*
Vampire Weekend              Graceland era Paul Simon
Brooklyn Acts: Matt & Kim, Animal Collective, Yeasayer, Grizzly Bear New Wave Acts: Duran Duran, Talking Heads, B-52’s, Depeche Mode, Psychedelic Furs
ColdPlay INXS
My Morning Jacket Big Audio Dynamite
Any kid with access to a basement and computer Thomas Dolby or the guy that wrote Axl F
Chart topping pretty girl with potential of addiction ruining her career: Rihanna Chart topping pretty girl with a bright future and no foreseeable obstacles blocking her path for continued success: Whitney Houston
Bad Collaboration: Metallica/Lou Reed Even worse collaboration: Paul McCartney/Michael Jackson
Das Racist Beastie Boy humor, KRS One smarts
Jacuzzi Boys 80’s era Flaming Lips
Tom Waits! Tom Waits!
Avett Brothers Violent Femmes with Banjos
Lady Gaga* Madonna


Maybe I’m being cynical here, but I’m not enthusiastic about any of this.  If we are reliving the Cosby decade, are the 90s soon to follow?  I loved the 90s, but I don’t need to see that decade set on repeat either.  Can’t we put the past behind us?  Why can’t we learn from our mistakes, celebrate what works while creating change with new thoughts, and have every present and future decade be unique in it’s own way?  I tend to side with Henry Ford’s school of thought on history, “The only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.”

Stifled creativity runs amock through America.  Laziness mixed with instant gratification enables lack of thought.  We tend to look to the past for recycled ideas or broken ideals, and present them as something new.  Fearing the unknown is normal.  Comfort levels rise as we do what we’ve already done and all risk is avoided.  As each day passes, and no effort is put forth, originality becomes harder and harder to find.  That is what I fear.

 Maybe Woody said it best.
“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
Woody Allen

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