I catch a lot of flak over my description of the years 1974 to 1983 as the Golden Age of roleplaying games, much of it based on a misunderstanding of my original point, namely that, after this period, tabletop RPGs would never again command the same degree of broad cultural significance that they did during this time. A good illustration of my point is this odd product, from wargames publisher SPI: Dallas: The Television Role-Playing Game. Published in 1980, the same year as the company's more well known foray into roleplaying, DragonQuest, Dallas was designed by none other than James F. Dunnigan, famous as (among many things) the designer of the classic wargames Jutland and PanzerBlitz. [more inside]
RETRONTARIO: Yours To Rediscover. "RETRONTARIO was created to celebrate the neglected corners of Ontario’s rich televisual history; to put back into circulation material which rightly or wrongly had fallen into a black hole and was for all intents and purposes, lost."
Ichi! Ni! San! Shi! Come on, everybody! Train kara-tee! SLYT '80s karate-promoting rap video.
Mountain Dew, Gamma World - and cake! GeekDad's Ethan Gilsdorf uncovers a long-lost pile of loot - silent Super 8 footage of a 1981 Friday night D&D session. JJ Abrams couldn't have faked it this good. (SLYT-sorta)
A Fashion Eye for the G.I. Joe Guy ComicsAlliance critiques G.I. Joe and Cobra uniforms.
80s Sports Posters Jerry Rice: Goldfingers. Patrick Ewing: Madison Square Guardian.
...there’s some desperation to this junk version of “Dancing in the Street,” with both parties trying to affirm their A-1 celebrity status. One of the more pernicious effects of the whole Live Aid/Farm Aid/Band Aid spectacle was to cement the hierarchy of the “legend” rock acts and a smaller tier of anointed successors from the slightly-younger generation (Tom Petty, Sting, Dire Straits, U2). It was the height of the Boomer Counter-Reformation. The late Eighties would see the over-publicized returns of everyone from Steve Winwood to the Monkees to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to a revamped George Harrison to a MOR version of Pink Floyd to Robbie Robertson pretending that he was Peter Gabriel (a version of Gabriel who couldn’t sing) to an all-star Yes and a Zeppelin-sampling Robert Plant, culminating in the return of the “revitalized” Stones in 1989, the touring company now reincorporated into a gleaming multinational. As Marcello Carlin said back when Popular covered this single: “Suddenly we were once again reminded who in pop and rock mattered and who didn’t…With their massacre of “Dancing In The Street,” Bowie and Jagger seemed to relish rubbing it in.“-The Annotated Jagger/Bowie "Dancing in the Street"
In the '80s, price increases in marijuana drove demand toward other drugs. The war on drugs hard, soft, or otherwise helped persuade pot smokers to put down the bong and pick up the pipe, the mirror, or the needle.
Jamel Shabazz has been documenting the ‘Urban Life’, most famously, 80s Brooklyn, for over 30 years. His work has been featured in the New York Times and a documentary film as well as in a recently expanded and re-relased book. An interview and a few snaps from the book.
Because Christmas wasn't painful enough: He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special, in five parts — 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
Here is the pilot episode of Les Mondes Engloutis (Part 2), a French animated sci-fi/fantasy televison series from 1985. Here is its iconic theme song. In English it translates into "The Sunken Worlds," but English-speakers know it better as Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea. More information can be found on Tripod fansite The Lost Archives of Arkadia. [more inside]
[Absolute Beginners] has a glossy immediacy, and you can feel the flash and determination that went into it. What you don't feel is the tormented romanticism that made English adolescents in the 70s swear by the novel the way American kids had earlier sworn by The Catcher in the Rye. - Pauline Kael [more inside]
“We try and illustrate a “universe-next-door” where the new product is the only novelty. Where there is still tea, and the traffic is still miserable.”
Future Drama is a tumblr devoted to that particular kind of futurism - corporate prediction demos of how their products will change the world - See The Mother Of All Demos from 1968 introducing the mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, hypertext, word processing - Apple in 1987 - Philco-Ford The Future Now!
As a historical document the book is exhaustive and valuable. But I did not come away feeling that I knew or understood Hüsker Dü — the musicians themselves, their music, or any of the people around them — any more intimately than I already did. Earles’ writing is at once densely opinionated and emotionless. He expertly follows the chronology of the band’s tours and releases, but he never makes it understandable why some of us look back on this band so reverently, or why it would be worth somebody’s time to discover Hüsker Dü today. (previously)
The BBC broadcasted the science and technology showcase show Tomorrow's World (titles on piano) on 7 July 1965 on BBC1, it ran for 38 years until it was cancelled at the beginning of 2003. Unlike the boosterism of US science programs, Tomorrow's World was more famous for it's live stunts and wry outlook ( James Burke experiences the "convenient" office of the future and the future of home gardening and crushing ennui). The BBC has an archive of episodes and clips for UK visitors, everyone else will have to be content with clips concerning Home Computers, New Banking, Nellie The School Computer, The Elliot Light Pen, Mobile Phones, and Moog Synthesizers.
In 1986,[Vladimir] Horowitz announced that he would return to the Soviet Union for the first time since 1925 to give recitals in Moscow and Leningrad. In the new atmosphere of communication and understanding between the USSR and the USA, these concerts were seen as events of political, as well as musical, significance. [more inside]
Ulysses 31 Redux (YT) is a shot-for-shot remake of the opening credits of Ulysses 31, the Franco-Japanese sci-fi retelling of The Odyssey (and perhaps high water mark of 80s children's television). The remake was directed by Dermot Canterbury.
After 25 years I revisited To Live and Die In L.A. (1985), William Friedkin's cynical, fatalistic, hardboiled and high-energy crime noir about corruption and survival in the city of no angels. The script is literate, the characters are believable, the performances are brutally honest, the unpredictable twists keep coming, the action never stops, and the car chase is shot for real without any fake process. (spoilers)
Skinemax is Koyaanisqatsi for a generation raised on late night television and B-movie VHS tapes. It's long form entertainment for short attention spans. An hour long VJ odyssey, it will move your body and warp your mind. A nostalgic look back at a half remembered childhood growing up in the 80s and early 90s, Skinemax takes a close look at the culture of that era. The images that motivated, delighted, and terrified us on the silver screen, set to propulsive modern music that pines for a simpler time.
Alex Cox: REPO MAN was made as a "negative pickup" by Universal at the time when Bob Rehme was head of the studio. At the time, the big deal over there was STREETS OF FIRE, and nobody really noticed our film [8 MB PDF] at all. Which was lucky for us, since Bob Rehme had "green-lighted" a film which was quite unusual by studio standards. (previously)
Melt your brain into goo on an overdose of crass 80s consumerism and TV without the TV shows at 80sCommercialVault. Superbowl 19 commercials. Commercials from Jaws. Saturday morning commercials. Daytime / evening commercials. [more inside]
I Was There When Acid House Hit London and This Is How It Felt by Charles Mudede
Under the stewardship of Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, Cannon Films was responsible for many of the worst - and a few of the best - movies of the 1980s. Along the way it won an Academy Award and enriched the language. (previously) [more inside]
On March 15, 1993, The Truth Commission for El Salvador published its report From Madness to Hope: the 12-year war in El Salvador. The Commission attributed the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero to the death squads, as well as the deaths of the victims of the El Mozote Massacre. ... Five days after the commission issued its report, the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador approved an amnesty law covering all the violent events of the war.
The French romantic thriller “Diva” dashes along with a pellmell gracefulness, and it doesn’t take long to see that the images and visual gags and homages all fit together and reverberate back and forth. It’s a glittering toy of a movie... This one is by a new director, Jean-Jacques Beineix... who understands the pleasures to be had from a picture that doesn’t take itself very seriously. Every shot seems designed to delight the audience. - Pauline Kael, 1982 [more inside]
Ana Lee's fashion blog is in Russian but with its insane number of HQ photographs [don't forget to click the "далее"], you won't care. For example, her two posts about Carol Alt almost certainly comprise the greatest documentation of that model's career to be found anywhere in the world.
Rock Scene magazine - scans of every page of all 54 issues from 1973-1982, featuring artists like Bowie, Queen Lou Reed, the Ramones, The New York Dolls, Blondie, Talking Heads, Willy DeVille, and more. (via Dangerous Minds)
The Rad Project is an in-depth documentation of the changes that turned the standard Japanese NES platformer Magic John into the tubular Totally Rad.
Cooking With Beefcake was a VHS cooking show about cooking near naked men. (Warning: Contains butts, feathered hair) (via)
It’s about time people started rendering unto Liquid Sky. Its long lipstick trace is smudged through much of indie cinema. [more inside]
Miami Vice and early '80s musical montages. Did any show ever do it better? Devo - Going Under :: Afrika Bambaataa - Renegades of Funk with Shaba Doo from "Electric Boogaloo" poppin' and lockin' all up in Crockett's face :: Kate Bush - Hello Earth :: Godley and Creme - Cry with Ted Nugent :: The Damned - In Dulce Decorum with Laurence Fishburne :: Iggy Pop - Real Wild Child :: Steve Jones - Mercy :: Red 7 - Heartbeat :: Pete Townshend - Face The Face :: The Who - Baba O'Riley :: David Johansen - King of Babylon :: Public Image Ltd - Order Of Death :: Etta James - You Want More :: and of course Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight :: Phil went on guest star in an episode, as did Leonard Cohen and Frank Zappa.
The House Next Door has kicked off this year's installment of the "Summer of..." series, where they look back at the summer movies from 25 years ago. For the next few months they'll be revisiting the summer movies from 1986, and you can check out the previous installments to relive the glories of 1985 (Weird Science, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, St. Elmo's Fire), and 1984 (including the magical day Gremlins, Ghostbusters, and Top Secret! opened simultaneously).
An Ode to Paul Simon's Graceland, now 25. "Here is Simon proving that he could be divorced and soft in the middle and still make an album that put him back on the playing field, and as a center forward. This, too, is why I think the album has been such a mainstay of so many station wagons since the late 80s: It said to those rear ends planted in those drivers’ seats, “Our idols have aged and proven human. They have turned into yuppies like us who smoke weed only occasionally and in comfortable living rooms with Persian rugs and who have kids who play soccer, and that’s okay." Don't miss the covers and rare editions at the the end of the article. Unfortunately they miss Tangoterje's amazing "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" dub edit. Obligatory, the Zimbabwe concert.
Threads (1984). (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) Testament (1983). (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) [more inside]
Google Books has digitized all issues of SPY, the 80s New York satirical magazine that combined humor with investigative reporting. Half the issues are now available; the other half will be released soon.
NintendoFilter: Remi Kart: Mario Kart in the streets and grocery stores of France (via). The Legend of Zelda as a 1980s teen movie (via).
Geneva Jacuzzi's music is described as "quasi-occult mystery, flippant wit and quizzical torch, enshrined in the unsuspecting and jazzy veneer of sundry electronic music styles that range from darkwave goth-lounge to tropicalia." With Ariel Pink and TRS-80
If you lived in Canada in the 80s and 90s, then the holiday season meant one thing: Give like Santa, save like Scrooge.