I Was a Kid in the 80s

I used to read a blog called Paleofuture. It’s still out there, somewhere. One day, Paleofuture posted a picture of someone’s 70’s vision of an 80’s space station. Sure, every time I see a ’57 Chevy or googie architecture, I wonder why the future Walt Disney invented for the Boomers never, ever came. But I was a kind in the 80s. The picture of the space station was a sort-of writing prompt. This is from 2012, maybe:

I was a kid in the 80’s and got to go to EPCOT.  I used to read Popular Mechanics and try to make crap out of batteries and magnets and draw fighter jets and space stations and curvy future cars and build paper ammo wristbows from rubber bands and hangers.  I did The Jason Project.

I remember when the Challenger blew up because the lady teacher had a kid  my age and my family had an Aerostar the first summer they came out.  After it happened Ford pulled the commercials that showed how the nose of their new mini-van looked just like the Shuttle.  I broke the sliding door with my first GI Joe and burned my arm on an interior light and it scabbed and cracked and leaked all summer and I’d touch the puss with the fat tips of my fingers to see if it would hurt.

My grandmother made me watch INF when I was 7 so I could say that I’d seen history.  She didn’t say it but in 1987 you had no way of being sure you’d see more big human moments.  Imagine living like that for 4o, 50 years, thinking about the button, building schools with fallout bunkers, doing drills. I remember the first time I saw a plane, it was Wednesday, 9/19, 2001.  I went to college near a  power plant with two cement torch chimneys so these things made me nervous.  I imagine living like this for 40, 50 years, collecting history for my son just in case it stops.  Waiting for the break, the thaw, the perestroika. The Western glasnost Gorbachev and the Dubai-Vegas-Beijing Red Dawn white trash show.  Waiting for the INF bombs to come in off the market.  There is no end of history, Francis Fukuyama. There is history or nothing.

Obama will close Gitmo but will hold enemy combatants indefinitely without trial on the mainland.  Semantics must be justice. There are pictures of Pelosi toasting Cheney and Shepard Fairey laughing, obey, obey, obey, obey the giants and their posses.  I was a kid in the 80’s.

I thought we’d have more now:  sustainable communities instead of social networks.  Colonies in space.  We got personal computers, personal accessories, personal devices, vanity, vanity, vanity, rah rah trips to ISS but lazy outward pushing.  If Richard Branson brings the heavens we should fill them.

Sundry Appeals to the Aficionado Within, Part 1


Nickelodeon. The channel’s migration up our 80’s and 90’s dial is fixed in my memory: 27, 29 (later the Family Channel), 32, 34 (later Telemundo), 36 (or, as my sister called it, “three-six” as in, “oh brother, how about three-six!”), 42.  I can’t even tell you what it is now because there are like seven of them, but they’re in the 260s and 270s, nimbly doing their thing around offerings from PBS and Disney.  (Remember when you had to pay for the Disney Channel?)

The first time I saw Nick was at my grandparents’ house, a Special Delivery cartoon about the American Revolution (awesome).  A few weeks later, at my other grandparents’ house, I discovered Nick at Nite.  It must have been 1985 (the year Nick at Nite debuted), because I could read the word Nite but couldn’t figure out the context. In any case, it was way better than The Blanket Show.

A few days ago, I saw a commercial for the newest iteration of the Power Rangers franchise.  The Zords are coming to Nick:


Yes, my first thought was: “Really, Power Rangers? 15 years later and you have the same exact production values?  Even I don’t rock flannel on flannel these days.”






Speaking of 1993, I was 13 when Power Rangers debuted in the US.  I think I was 15 when I decided to start being ironic. And it was on right before Animaniacs (smartest cartoon masquerading as kid’s show of all time? check), so, you know, I caught a few eps.  Plus I had a little sister (which was also my excuse for watching Eureka’s Castle, though I’ll never disavow my love for David the Gnome). It didn’t take long to realize the four main reasons the Power Rangers became so massive:

  • Martial Arts
  • Dinosaurs
  • Robots (that transform)
  • All of those things together

Production values?  Uncheck.  That old footage Saban had lying around happened to combine the three coolest things ever, and that’s all it needed.   Speaking of which, later today or tomorrow I want to talk about two awesome blogs that I could spend hours and hours and hours on.  Sports uniform history minutiae  AND visions of a future that never was?  Yes.  Yes I will share that goodness with you.

A preview:

Billy Beane!

[Update: Read Part 2 here.]