Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I said I want to hear like I could IN the eighties, not in MY eighties

Chiffticcachiffticcachiffticca- Thanks for that, my pre-deaf commuting friend. You may have an ipod, but you will join me with the rest of the post-sony-walkman ‘huh?-ers’ in twenty years time, unless you crank your volume down a few notches. In walkman days (mid-eighties), you had your bootleg tapes in nifty bags strapped to your side, those bite-sized earphones slipping charmlessly off your gelled and bleached flicked fringe, and the tinny reproduction of your records was enough to get you through a long day until Who’s the Boss or The Golden Girls came on.

To this day, there are records which I have never listened to in their entirety. The cassette tapes were always too short- so, being economical, I’d have to leave out a song or two, and fit two almost-albums on one tape. I wonder if they were good songs?

In Cape Town, people carried huge ‘beat-boxes’ around on their shoulders- in the eighties, bigger was better- massive sound systems which nowadays would be used to power triple-storey nightclubs, or a Jonas Brother’s gig.

This was before the widespread health and safety panics of the late eighties- no packaging warnings then. You could crank up the sound in your earphones, and, well, it was taken for granted that if you did that you’d go deaf. Sure, carrying a tape-deck the size of a teenager’s coffin was going to ruin your shoulder ligaments, but it was worth it for the adoring glances of the chick in the fluorescent halter top, or the frightened retreating backs of the 8-track generation.

In those days, you could walk on escalators with sandals, smoke cigarettes with any orifice you chose to, and give a child under the age of five a packet of fireworks and a Swiss Army knife for their birthday.

*TV programmes poked fun at fat people, retarded people, midgets, yellow people, black people... Remember ‘Diff’rent Strokes’? Babes could be happily categorised as male playthings. *(Deliberate use of non-pc words, ok?)

How did any of us survive the eighties? Why am I not being pushed around in a wheelchair, trying to crank up my hearing aid so that I can hear minorities/frequently targeted abusees in any form cry when I hurl abuse at them?

Perhaps I was saved by the politically correct generation. Maybe I just made it. It was a close call, but I know better than to judge my human sidekicks based on skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, or physical challenge of any sort.

If I was more litigious, I’d take the eighties to court, for making me have bad hair, ringing ears and for wearing those little Japanese pumps that were in fashion for a while. But, and this is a lesson we can all learn from, no matter what generation, photographs can be burned, or, even better, nowadays, adjusted to suit a more genteel way of life.

Gnarly, hey?


  1. I'd take that case -- you make a strong argument. On the other hand, life can't possibly have enough fluorescent halter tops.

  2. @Briane P: Tis post is an age-revealer, I'm afraid. Weird how the fantasies developed in one's teens never change?

  3. Why would I want them to change?

    Also: you don't do sports? Pick up Brockian Ultra-Cricket. That'll confuse people.

    I'm sorry that you've never heard of Brett Favre. So we've established that fluorescent halter tops = universal, Brett Favre = provincial.

  4. If I were more litigious, I'd sue you for making me remember the 80's.

    Some decades are best forgotten.

  5. @Briane P: I'm in South Africa, so provincial is my middle name- I use it as my password on all my accounts. Whoops.
    @Da Old Man: You should be glad that you can remember them- they start to blur after a while.

  6. I hear you on this. Or I would. But being a child of the 80s myself, am pretty damn deaf. To whit <--- note the hearing aids. I have the hearing profile of a 70 year old. Something to do with the bones in the ear calcifying. I'm going deaf by degrees. Not really an issue, means I don't have to listen to alot of inane conversation.

  7. You wore Japanese pumps? Oh you poor sap, my condolences :)

  8. actually I really liked those chinese pumps :) but then I found hippy leather ones which lasted longer because they stretched - also, there was a dude on the flea markets who made gen-u-ine painted red indian moccasins - and lots of people bought them ;)

  9. @Anon: Yes but that was because we all needed our heads read. Remember baby doll shoes? Bubble skirts? Bubble fringes? Big hair? Eeeeeeek. Looking through photos from back then I wonder what we were thinking. Or if we were thinking ... :)

  10. @SMP: Clearly the 80s moved you deeply, jusdging by your comments. (Moved, or traumatised?)
    And the pumps did not last long: They had a tendency to go really smelly after about a week. Fortunately, Doc Martens lasted much longer... And I never had: baby doll shoes, bubble skirts or bubble fringes:-)
    @Anonymous: I remember when flea markets didn't just sell bad soapstone carvings and tacky curios. Those were the days- buying beedies on Greenmarket Square, coffee at Le Petit Paris.

  11. never did the bubble skirts myself - already had humilited myself with the parachute pant but my brother looked dead cool in a dress always - and the 80's make up looked great on him ~ I was just scarred

  12. @totally cooked: hahahaha
    parachute pants- I did those, too. and the make-up. I was an Estee Lauder shareholder...

  13. Freakin awesome post dude!!!

  14. What the hell are parachute pants?

  15. And Doc's were cool. Still got mine, 18 hole, black, with tinkly bells on. Getting them off after a night's drinking was seriously a feat of great endurance. Especially if like me you did the wind-ey laces and not the traditional criss cross. Ah the nostalgia ...

  16. the parachute pant can not be described - it had to be lived and coveted and NEEDED. It was worn to under 18 Discos and could even be bought in plaid (had one with pinks and black) fork ...

    were those jackets called Boxer? black with a checked interior?


Say something! It can't be worse than what I have said. Note: Sometimes you have to press 'comment' twice. Stupid comments thingy.