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

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

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.

"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.

"Guys - check out my new Swatch!"

Another unforeseen side-effect was our teacher’s overwhelmed focus on rehearsals, most often outdoors, meant she couldn’t monitor us effectively. We were free from typical classwork, able to vanish undetected into pastoral off-stage; giddy with hormones and edgy with fears over transitioning to different high schools – most of them conventional, public establishments – which meant separation from each other, and entry into the unenlightened world our training, with its roots in turn-of-last-century anthroposophy, had been crafted to defend against.

Fumbling over soliloquies only barely understood, obscuring our bodies’ engorging and excreting, realizing our skill at Virginia reel was not only unneeded in the world of high school, but almost certainly a mark against us, my graduating class of 1989 wasn’t feeling confident.

This was the soundtrack for such uncertain times:

INXS – "Devil Inside"

 Cool J – "Going Back to Cali"

– "Orinoco Flow"

Neneh Cherry 
– "Buffalo Stance"


INXS provides the old sound of New Sensation.
It's not just a fun title for a charades entry - it's an album from LL Cool J.
➡ Everyone's guilty pleasure for stress-reduction: Enya.
➡ Like a fine wine, Neneh Cherry ages well and sweet.
➡ Plus much, much, so much more available at any one of our three retail stores!

Relevant Tags

Enya (3), Ll Cool J (13), Anthroposophy (1), Facts Of Life (2), Inxs (4), 1989 (3), Angst (6), 1980s (52), As You Like It (1), Junior High (2), School (5), Waldorf (1), Live Oak Waldorf School (1), Theatre (2), 8th Grade (1), Shakespeare (5), Neneh Cherry (5)