The Execrable Eighties

I just need two words to sum up what was wrong with the 80s: Ronald Reagan.  He’s the guy that fired the striking air traffic controllers, thereby sending the message to employers everywhere that the government was on their side, not the side of the workers and their unions.  He’s the guy that made it cool to be conservative, to blame the poor for their poverty, to pretend that racism and sexism were problems of the past and those who didn’t buy this outrageous lie had a “victim mentality.”  They made ‘tax and spend’ liberal a four-letter word, while raising government spending to record highs.  What was that stuff trickling down, anyway?  It wasn’t water and it smelled kinda funny.

And what did our culture give us as the backdrop for this class war?  MTV: Paula Abdul dancing with cartoons.  Boy bands.  Boy George. Big hair for women (and hair metal bands); buzz cuts for men.  Speaking of hair, A Flock of Seagulls.  And in the theaters:  Porky’s.  Flashdance.  Iran-Contra.  Wait, that last one was real, wasn’t it?

I can’t complain too much, though.  On a personal level, the 80s brought me together with my life partner and true love (you know who you are) – but I can promise you that Reagan had nothing to do with it.

Here are my favorite books, films and music of the 1980s:

Favorite 80s Films

Stardust Memories (Allen, 1980)
Wings of Desire (Wenders, 1987)
The King of Comedy (Scorcese, 1982)
The Sacrifice (Tarkovsky, 1986)
Crimes and Misdemeanors (Allen, 1989)
Fanny and Alexander (Bergman, 1982)
Raging Bull (Scorcese, 1980)
Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986)
Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989)
Say Anything… (Crowe, 1989)
My Dinner With Andre (Malle, 1981)
sex, lies, and videotape (Soderbergh, 1989)
The Thin Blue Line (Morris, 1988)
Raising Arizona (Coens, 1987)
Hannah and Her Sisters (Allen, 1986)
This Is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984)
Baby It’s You (Sayles, 1983)
Local Hero (Forsyth, 1983)
Atlantic City (Malle, 1980)
Return of the Secaucus Seven (Sayles, 1980)
The Vanishing (Sluizer, 1988)
Sans Soleil (Marker, 1983)
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (Richter, 1984)
Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie (Ophüls, 1988)

Favorite 80s Books 

Salman Rushdie  Midnight’s Children (1981)
D.M. Thomas  The White Hotel (1981)
Gerald Mast  A Short History of the Movies (1986)
Raymond Carver  Where I’m Calling From: New and Selected Stories (1988)
Randy Shilts  And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic (1987)
Howard Zinn  A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present (1980)
John Gardner  The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers (1984)
Anthony J. Lukas  Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families (1985)
Don DeLillo  White Noise (1985)
T.C. Boyle  World’s End (1987)
Art Spiegelman  Maus, Vol. 1: My Father Bleeds History (1986)
Tom Robbins  Still Life with Woodpecker (1980)
James M. McPherson  Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1988)
Taylor Branch  Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 (1988)
Ernst Mayr  The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance (1982)
A.J. Ayer  Philosophy in the Twentieth Century (1982)
Robert Middlekauff  The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (1982)
John Diekelmann  Natural Landscaping: Designing with Native Plant Communities (1982)
Martin Amis  Money (1984)
Joseph Campbell  The Power of Myth (1988)
Tim Riley  Tell Me Why: The Beatles: Album By Album, Song By Song, The Sixties And After  (1988)
Jack Connor  The Complete Birder: A Guide to Better Birding (1988)
Kenneth O. Morgan  The Oxford History of Britain (1988)
R.F. Foster  Modern Ireland: 1600-1972 (1989)
John Kobal  John Kobal Presents the Top 100 Movies (1988)

Favorite 80s Music

Talking Heads  Remain in Light (1980)
Dire Straits  Making Movies (1980)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Le Nozze di Figaro (London Philharmonic Orch./Solti; Te Kanawa; Popp; von Stade; Ramey) (1982)
Elvis Costello  Imperial Bedroom (1982)
The Roches  Keep On Doing (1982)
Paul Simon  Hearts and Bones (1982)
Tom Waits  Rain Dogs (1985)
Domenico Scarlatti  Best Sonatas (Ross) (rec. 1984-1985, rel. 1991)
Elvis Costello  King of America (1986)
Peter Gabriel  So (1986)
Paul Simon  Graceland (1986)
U2  The Joshua Tree (1987)
Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir   Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares          (1975, rel. in US, 1987)
Alison Krauss  Now That I’ve Found You: A Collection (1987-1994)
Béla Bartók  6 String Quartets (Emerson String Quartet) (1988)
k.d. lang  Shadowland (1988)
Johann Sebastian Bach  The Well-Tempered Piano, Part 1 (Jaccottet) (1989)
Henry Purcell  Dido and Aeneas (The English Concert and Choir/Pinnock) (1989)

 

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One thought on “The Execrable Eighties

  1. bkwrm513

    I was only around for 3 years of the 80s…so i don’t remember much.

    I nominated you for the Sunshine Award, in case you didn’t see! Check out “aw shucks” on my page for details 🙂

    Reply

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