Amoeblog

(Wherein our hero looks back - and sees so much bleached denim.)

Posted by Job O Brother, June 2, 2014 12:21pm | Post a Comment

LOWS 1989
It's 1989 and things are lookin' up... side-down.


The final year of junior high was heavy for my 8th grade class at Live Oak Waldorf School.

We’d bonded unusually deep; our eccentric education, overseen by the same, stern woman annually and paid for by unconventional, often dysfunctional parents, made us peers not just of age and fads, but in isolation: we weren’t represented in popular culture – there weren’t Cosby kids too poor to afford clothes or dental work; INXS wasn’t singing about the world of antiquity, accompanied by recorder ensemble; the cast on Facts of Life never gathered in a bi-monthly circle to share from their hearts until everyone wept and atoned and affirmed admiration for each other – then broke for their next class on American folk dancing.

blair jo
"I'm afraid being raised without an understanding of more mainstream, cultural norms
is going to handicap my trajectory in life, Tootie."

The final months of that semester were strange; our lessons became devoted to one, final project: a run of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, barely edited, performed for the public by either of two casts, each featuring the same students in alternate roles.

It was our teacher’s idea this would avoid certain students having all the glory of lead parts. While well-intended, it instead ensured that shier kids who’d have preferred to skip the spotlight, couldn’t; it meant everyone had two characters to memorize – quite a task, considering this was most pupils’ introduction to iambic pentameter – and made what would have been the natural, unfriendly phenomena of critical comparison between kids’ acting skills even more impossible to avoid.

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Novelty rap and the harsh realities of adolescence -- Freddy Rap and other strange happenings of 1987

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 10, 2009 10:44am | Post a Comment
Back in 1987 and '88, before Chucky and the Leprechaun came along and divided the loyalties of urban cineastes along racial lines, Freddy and the hip-hop community were hand in metal-clawed glove. It was the year Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was released. Why did Freddy rap occur then and not sooner? There had been a building sense of unease for several years, as evinced in Rockwell's 1984 hit "Somebody's Watching Me" and Dana Dane's 1985 hit "Nightmares." It was the climax of the Cold War, after all. Nightmare on Elm Street 3 was widely viewed as the best entry in the series and was the most successful until FVJ in 2003. It may've just been me, but I also think 1987 was just a weird, wonderful year.

nightmare on elm street

For me, it was full of confusion and mystery. I'd grown somewhat comfortable with my classmates over the seven years of elementary school, but in 1987, I was off to junior high. The air on the school bus was a gaseous psychotropic cocktail of aquanet and Jheri Curl. When the smoke cleared, I found myself at Jefferson Jr High, in the middle of town. The formerly all-white school, my black Social Studies teacher informed us, had been the domain of the devil and his wife (a witch) when he was growing up during segregation. I later figured out her reasons for creating that myth, but it might as well have been true to me at the time. Junior High, in contrast to the relative peace of elementary school, was a trial by fire where violence could and frequently did break out as the pecking order got sorted out. I quickly learned to never use the restrooms. There was tremendous pressure to adopt a sort of uniform with classmates scrutinizing and passing judgment on hair, jackets, shirts, pants, shoes, musical tastes, &c. Brands and styles of (generally tightrolled) jeans (something I'd honestly never thought about) were cyphers that revealed more about their wearer's personality and background than their cracking voices ever could.

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