The More Things Change, The More Someone Still Wants To Wear A @#$%&! Tiara And Have You Call Them Princess

February 27, 2010

It’s not surprising to see the name John Hughes pop up over at Stuck In The ’80s. The filmmaker behind movies like Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and National Lampoon’s Vacation is certainly a patron saint of the ’80s.

His sudden death last autumn truly reminded me how much his films meant to my generation.

(Paloma actually gave me a copy of his Weird Science for Valentine’s Day)

But I was given to momentarily pause when I logged on to Stuck In The ’80s and was reminded that Hughes’ seminal The Breakfast Club was released twenty-five years ago this month.

My friends and I were juniors in high school at the time. I don’t remember if I saw The Breakfast Club with friends or with my girlfriend, but I do know I saw it at the theater in my hometown, one of those cool, old cinemas that had been around since the ’30s.

Even if I didn’t see it with my friends initially, we all did see it and, during that summer and our senior year, we saw the movie repeatedly, watching the video rental or on cable. Like a lot of kids our age, much of the dialogue from The Breakfast Club was known to us verbatim and popped up often in our conversations.

(I started to list some quotes and it proved futile whittling it down)

At sixteen-, seventeen-years old, we were able to identify with the characters and the film rang true for us. We all knew who, among the peers, were the brains, the athletes, the basketcases, the princesses, and the criminals.

(and, as the movie taught us, most of us were a make-up of several of those elements)

Amazingly, twenty-five years later, life still often resembles high school with less of the more light-hearted fare and an office replacing a hallway of lockers.

I have a co-worker who actually keeps a tiara at her desk. And she means it.

(and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of them have a flare gun)

It’s like I’ve gone through a wormhole.

For as much good music as John Hughes put into his movies, The Breakfast Club‘s soundtrack – aside from Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me) – is uneventful and unmemorable. So, instead, here are songs that I could imagine four of the five characters in the movie – had they actually existed – listening to in early 1985…

Bender

The hoodlum of the group, Bender was brought to life in stunning fashion with a flurry of quotable lines by Judd Nelson.

Bender does hum the guitar riff from Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love, so he probably liked some older rock. But, when it came to a radio station, I see him tuning in to 96Rock, an album rock station from Cincinnati.

It wasn’t a bad station – a mix of ’70s classics like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd mixed with then-current acts like Def Leppard and ZZ Top – but my friend Bosco would use its moniker pejoratively – “Some 96Rocker hassled me at The Kinks show.”

I think 96Rock was defunct by ’85, but, a year earlier, it was the first station that I ever heard play Mötley Crüe. I think Bender would have approved.

Mötley Crüe – Shout At The Devil
from Shout At The Devil

Claire

I thought I’ve read that Molly Ringwald was a fan of a lot of the bands used in John Hughes’ movies. I don’t know if I’d picture her character Claire listening to Psychedelic Furs or Echo & The Bunnymen, though I could believe her being a Duran Duran fan.

She likely also owned a copy of The Cars’ Heartbeat City from 1984. The album was still having hits a year later with a pretty understated ballad.

(though, as she was rather self-absorbed, she probably imagined the song as a lament from numerous suitors pining for her)

The Cars – Why Can’t I Have You
from Heartbeat City

Brian

For the brains of the outfit, Hughes cast Michael Anthony Hall. I think of brains and high school and I think of my buddy Streuss. Like Brian, I don’t think he could have made a lamp in shop class, but he and I did once disarm an alarm in a dorm using scissors, a plastic bag, and Scotch tape.

In almost every other way, Streuss, though brilliant, was Brian’s opposite. Streuss had charm and possessed a wicked, often surreal sense of humor. He had an entertaining, gangly, off-kilter vibe.

He was part Norwegian (as he once declared to one of our teachers in the middle of class).

In 1985, Talking Heads were coming off the success of 1983’s Speaking In Tongues and the live album/film Stop Making Sense. Streuss was a big fan of The Heads and had been for years before their mainstream success.

I suspect that Brian, like Streuss, was eagerly awaiting the arrival of Little Creatures that summer.

Talking Heads – And She Was
from Little Creatures

Allison

Ally Sheedy’s Allison was the “basket case” with a creative bent she expressed through drawing, telling fantastically untrue tales, and sandwich-making. She was truly a renaissance woman and she had no friends, choosing to spend her day in detention because she had nothing to do.

She likely went on to great things, perhaps writing children’s books, hosting a cooking show on television, or playing bass in a band.

As for her music, I think the quirky nature of 97X would have been her tonic. So, hitting shuffle on my 97X playlist resulted in a modern classic by the late poet Jim Carroll.

Jim Carroll Band – People Who Died
from Catholic Boy

Advertisements

It Would Have To Be Pretty Cool To Hit The Links With Alice

April 23, 2009

To paraphrase The Shaggs, the skinny people want what the skinny people’s got and the fat people want what the skinny people’s got. That seems to explain actors and actresses as well as athletes who, having gained notoriety in their field, often take a stab at music.

And, there have been musicians who have opted to treat us to their skills as thespians.

However, I was pondering notable musicians who might have once held promise or harbored dreams of being a professional athlete.

This question marinated in my head while I was watching part of an NBA playoff game. In the late ’70s/early ’80s, I was a devout fan of professional basketball, something that was not always easy to do before Bird and Magic entered the league and put games into American households on a regular basis.

(I distinctly recall tuning into games during the ’78 finals between Washington and Seattle at 11:30pm as they were slotted into those late-night times as tape delayed offerings)

Anyhow, now I rarely watch pro hoops aside from catching some of the playoff games. The one the other night proved unspectacular enough to hold my interest.

I picked up a Jim Carroll album which Paloma had recently purchased. Carroll, best known for his song People Who Died, had seen his journals published as The Basketball Diaries, which chronicled his double life as a high school basketball star/heroin addict.

It spurred me to wonder what other musicians might have considered or had the ability to pursue an athletic career.

It’s been told of how when touring Bob Marley & The Wailers much of their down time was spent playing football. Had the stars aligned differently might Bob or Peter Tosh have led a Jamaican national team to glory in the World Cup?

I remembered that Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger had been a minor league baseball player and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich had been a ranked tennis player as a teen in Sweden.

It made me wonder if Tom Petty had been a natural at shortstop in junior high and is, perhaps, still a force on the softball field when his clan gathers for family reunions.

It amuses me to think that the members of Cheap Trick might be the nucleus of a hoops juggernaut, dominating all-comers at some rec center in Rockford – Robin Zander running the point, Bun E. Carlos down in the low post, and Rick Nielsen manning the wing.

A few songs by acts who I know have had some connection to sports…

Fountains Of Wayne – Radiation Vibe
I remember how popular (or, at least how critically acclaimed with critics) Radiation Vibe was back in the mid-’90s. I suppose most people best know Fountains Of Wayne for Stacy’s Mom, but that one wore thin with me rather quickly.

Each time Radiation Vibe pops up on shuffle, I make a mental note (which I promptly lose) to delve deeper into Fountains Of Wayne’s catalog.

Blue Oyster Cult – Perfect Water
I could have sworn I had People Who Died on some compilation disc (but I don’t) and I haven’t yet ripped the Jim Carroll record Paloma bought…

However, I seem to be on some subconscious wavelength to ensure the world gets its RDA of BOC. The last album of theirs I bought was Club Ninja in ’86. It was not a good album, but Perfect Water was one of the few songs that were worthy and it was written by Mr. Carroll.

Chris Isaak – Somebody’s Crying
I’ve always thought Chris Isaak’s music to be pleasant and good-natured and he always seemed to be pleasant and good-natured. He wandered into a record store where I worked once and he was, yeah, pleasant and good-natured.

He was also – and uncharacteristic for most musicians I’ve met – a big guy. It was quite easy to envision him as a Golden Gloves champion (which he was).

Alice Cooper – School’s Out
My all-time greatest arch-enemy had to have been my third-grade teacher. More days than not, the two of us were at odds. I was (mostly) indifferent to music and she was an Alice Cooper fan.

I’m not sure if that was why I never bothered with Alice Cooper’s music or rather because during the ’80s – my musically formative years – he wasn’t on top of his game. Since Paloma and I have been buying vinyl, one of my favorite revelations has been how very, very good Cooper was in the first half of the ’70s.