Category Archives: 1980s

Glenn Branca Day!


I love, love, love 70’s NYC underground music–Suicide, DNA, James Chance, etc. Yeah, you know that already (oh but I found a nice No Wave Primer if you are still curious)

Despite my No Wave comp cds galore, I had never, until recently, knew much about Glenn Branca or his music, even though he was a key player in the scene. A few months ago, Bryan played me Branca’s “Lesson No 1 for Electric Guitar” after we saw some posters Branca had made for his late 70’s No Wave band The Theoretical Girls at a gallery. I’ve been digging his work since–from the “maximalist” guitar music (or, rather, minimalist rock music) to his newer experimental classical music–symphonies that are slightly less abrasive than his no wave work, but still deeply avant garde and primarily guitar-based. Also, it is noteworthy that he looks like he could be David Lynch mad brother, which is a plus if you are working outside the mainstream, yes?

Here’s Branca thrashing guitar at a Soho Loft in 78

Theoretical Girls: “You Got Me” (dig that industrial-before-industrial style percussion)

Branca’s solo masterpiece “Lesson no. 1 for electric guitar” (1983)

Branca conducting like “a frenzied goat” with his orchestra at alt performance space the Kitchen, sometime in the 80s

At All Tomorrow’s Parties fest, 2007


Carrie Brownstein and the SATS of 80’s Rock. Analogies!

Were the 80’s really that bad? Good question. I, of course, would say no no no no….but then again I was 3 in 1985. I also dressed like Cyndi Lauper with an Emily Dickinson fetish, uh, so there again, I am not the most unbiased candidate for this question.

Why then do I ask? Well, I ask this question after listening to the All Music Considered’s excellent “The 80 ‘s: Were They Really that Bad?” show from Tuesday featuring Sleater-Kinney genious guitarist/smart NPR blogger/the only girl I’d leave my boyfriend for CARRIE BROWNSTEIN. Now I’ve got big hair on my mind and the lady question thanks to Palin (see post below), so Carrie Brownstein talking about the 80’s (and namechecking New Zealand bands like The Bats and The Clean) is kinda all I need. Oh yes, this easily downloadable goodie might be the RNC antidote I need today.

Also I’m feeling analogy-centric, so I’ve created an analogy list of 80’s to 00’s music.

1. New still-under-the-radar Brooklyn band Crystal Stilts is to (brilliantly underrated) Chameleons UK as maudlin is to monotone (singing, that is).

2. Fey gay cellist Arthur Russell’s 80’s art disco is to Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) singing with neo-disco band Hercules & Love Affair as lost dreams is to body glitter on a dancing man at the Cock on a friday night.

3. Siouxsie and the Banshees is to new electro Manchesterites the Tings Tings as Sofia Coppola film soundtracks are to iPod commercials.

4. Screamadelica-era Primal Scream is to MGMT as vintage is to H&M knockoffs.

5. Love & Rockets is to Yeasayer as big hair is to beards.

6. New Order is to Sebastian Tellier as Less than Zero is to Gossip Girl.

To listen to this audio analogy course, go here.

Rachel Ray’s scarf inflames coffee-boycotting conservatives; Urban Outfitters sales in jeopardy?

Today my coworker forwarded this bite from Boston Globewriter Mark Shanahan:

Does Dunkin’ Donuts really think its customers could mistake Rachael Rayfor a terrorist sympathizer? The Canton-based company has abruptly canceled an ad in which the domestic diva wears a scarf that looks like a keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by Arab men. Some observers, including ultra-conservative Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin, were so incensed by the ad that there was even talk of a Dunkin’ Donuts boycott. “The keffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad,” Malkin yowls in her syndicated column. “Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant and not-so-ignorant fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons.” The company at first pooh-poohed the complaints, claiming the black-and-white wrap was not a keffiyeh. But the right-wing drumbeat on the blogosphere continued and by yesterday, Dunkin’ Donuts decided it’d be easier just to yank the ad. Said the suits in a statement: “In a recent online ad, Rachael Ray is wearing a black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design. It was selected by her stylist for the advertising shoot. Absolutely no symbolism was intended. However, given the possibility of misperception, we are no longer using the commercial.” (In case you’re wondering, the stylist who selected the offending scarf was not Gretta Enterprises boss Gretchen Monahan, who appears on Ray’s TV show as a style consultant.) For her part, Malkin was pleased with Dunkin’s response: “It’s refreshing to see an American company show sensitivity to the concerns of Americans opposed to Islamic jihad and its apologists.”

I’ve often wondered about the Terrorist Scarf/Keffiyeh-style phenomenon (a throwback to 80’s boho, one which was revived right around the Iraq war in early 00’s). Is it a lazy protest against the war? Is it a sort of watered-down Hanoi Jane look for the Millennial generation?

Plain Jane: Will nehru shirts come back again?

Rachel Ray is wearing a scarf that isn’t even a real Keffiyeh (those are closer to the kind that are sold on every sunglasses/hat-selling street stand in New York…check out this article from Village Voice from two years ago for a better explaination of the differentiation between hipster wearing around neck and pro-Palestine activists wearing around head). Still, apparently Fox News doesn’t keep up with the latest fashions (see Ann Coulter’s cocktail dress from 1989 look) and this scarf has gotten right-wing crazies all stirred up. Oh just another reminder of the insanity of the Bush administration’s Opie-with-a-blog conservatism. However, if Rachel’s all about those scarves do we–you, me, Mary Kate Olson–have to stop wearing them? Luckily it’s summer and only douches wear scarves in summer. Or not… see Summer scarves! Oh and this little video from NIN, “Survivalism”:

Oh Trent you’re so 2005.

The Return of Marion Ravenwood!

Everyone I know–snob and non-snob– is psyched for the new Indiana Jones movie. The Indy trilogy was a huge part of our generation (late Gen X, early Y/Millennial) and whether you hate Spielberg or not, he helped define a huge chunk of the early lives of us children of 80’s pop culture. What I’m most excited for is the return of Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood on screen, possibly the most kick-ass female action character ever created.

Allen was one of the most beautiful actresses of the late 70’s and 80’s with her cascades of reddish brown hair, big green eyes, freckled skin and lean figure. She exuded the same kind of natural, slightly ersatz beauty that young Diane Keaton did–a thinking man’s screen siren.  But, uh, yeah, she was also Lara Croft before there was a Lara Croft! As Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, she was a heavy-drinking, tough-ass bartender/abandoned daughter (her father was Indy’s mentor) who wasn’t afraid of snakes or Nazis. As an equally freckle-faced childsnob in the 80’s, I watched Raiders over and over again. I would then go and play “drinking” with my parents’ empty wine bottles and I’d drink my dolls under the table just like Marion did with those native bar-flies. Hmmm, interesting, yes? Never got into pretending to seduce Nazis, though.

What makes Allen as a person so very, very cool is that she aged gracefully and with taste to become the ultimate hippie mom (not a “why don’t people like old actresses, oh wo is me” Debra Winger figure). In her fifties now, she has taken up a second career of knitting and she has her own store: the Karen Allen Fiber Arts store in Western, Mass. She also opened a yoga studio, which is why when we all go to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we will admire how lovely her skin still is and what nice shape she’s in.

Check out Karen’s scarf:

A little bit like the 80’s Afghan garb floating in the bar she tended?