Totally 1988

Remember when we were "living in the 80s but headed for the 1990s?"
May 26, 2014

1988....THE 80s were winding down and you couldn't go anywhere without knowing it. Waldenbooks was filled with books such as Monet in the 90sand Money Dynamics for the 1990s while newsstands had newspapers with headlines like Dynasty' a la 90s. The year began like an out-and-out continuation to late 1987, but ended on a different note. Today, 1988 is one of the most slept-on years in history. Aside from being a transitional year, '88 could be remembered as the 80s year with the most stereotypical 80s fashions and colors.

Valley Girls were using these and Aqua Net.

The year began with most Junior High girls fawning over Johnny Depp who starred as Tom Hanson on 21 Jump Street. Young men were wearing bright orange Biker hats (these were in vogue until sometime in '93), Billabong jackets, acid wash jeans, and Hawaiian shirts. The newest flick in Theaters at the time was License to Drive with the chicanerous Corey Feldman, the bespectacled Corey Haim, and a soundtrack that packed a punch [Hey you, get into my car!! Yes, you!!!].

In the late 80s, there were two things you could count on--Teen movies with both Coreys in them and softcore Starship songs.

On the radio, there were quite a few soulful artists. These guys seem to come to my mind when I think of that period:

Howdy? Clarabell? What did they do to you? First, Bozo the Clown, then this, and much later, Herman Munster... Why can't they just leave the classics alone?! This is a travesty.

'88 began to take off around the end of January when The Wonder Years first aired on ABC. I remember a radio talk show host touting it for most of the day. He knew it was going to be a "big hit". Come to think of it, the 1980s could be thought of as the "Baby Boomer Decade." At this point, there were still minimal traces of the 50's revival that began in the mid 70s. Men were wearing white shirts tucked in their tight-rolled Pepe Jeans, but most Americans were ready to be Deadheads again. The 80s were set for this stage from the beginning when Boomers mourned the death of John Lennon. It would only be a matter of time before the late Marvin Gaye was honored through a commercial with some dancing anthropomorphic raisins.

Kevin Arnold, Fritz Curtis, and GARY SHEPERD?! How many of them were there?

Like most people, I was asking myself, "What will turn up at the movies next?" By then we had seen flying cars that doubled as time machines, aliens with hearts, robotic cops and were looking forward to the next fantastical creature on the big screen. Tim Burton asked, "What about a freelance bio-exorcist?" I remember jokingly saying Tim had to convince himself three times that he wanted to name the character "Beetlejuice". Oddly enough, the striped pants look took off shortly after. When the commercial for the sneak preview appeared on my tv screen, I did not know what to make of it. Needless to say, I saw Hairspray instead.

Looking back, Beetlejuice beared some semblance to Morton Downey Jr.. At the time, almost everyone was talking about his new trashy talk show. Remember, this was after the Satanic Panic and just before Springer hit. There was nothing on TV like it. Downey was a crass, unapologetic, cigarette smoking,and pugnacious dude. In other words, this was not Donahue show. It hit at the right time. The late 80's with the stock market crash, Savings and Loans crisis, and depletion of the Ozone Layer were a very grim time. We had reached the "Die Yuppie Scum" era when the ever-burgeoning American populace was getting angrier.

It's the precursor to the Fox News Channel

1988 was the quintessential year of the late 80s. The toy and clothing stores (such as Kids "R" Us) were full of ugly sweaters and ALEX Toys kits. Disney had two great properties on their hands. What 4 year old girl didn't want to take little Oliver home? On the other hand, the Playskool Roger Rabbit got to be a store window mannequin. There were way too many RR items on the shelves.Did I love Roger? P-p-p-please give me Snap, Crackle, and Pop instead.

Everyone loves a stuttering oaf! Let's push more of them out there.

Between Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday and Iran-Iraq War ending, the summer of '88 was as big as Tom Hank's mug on that movie poster. First, we heard about Mike Tyson beating the crap out of his then wife (actress Robin Givens of Head of the Class). I guess he had mistaken her for Michael Spinks. It was everywhere, of course. The Winter and Summer Olympics took the cake as the most important events of the year. I remember thinking there were enough 0s from the Olympics logo to form 1988. That's pretty rad when you think about it. On an unrelated note, Eddie Murphy's last true Reagan 80's flick was released.

Sorry Eddie, the 90s don't look too good for you.
Around August or so, the shift began. All of the sudden,toys like Lazer Tag, He-Man, and Entertech water guns had taken a backseat to new properties like...dare I say it...the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Reptilians had taken over the toy aisle. I must say that those Donatello and Raphael action figure looked nothing like turtles. I was convinced that Raphael was a martian within five minutes of looking at it. Why did Donatello have scalene triangles for eyes? Did he need to look the most constipated out of all four of them? Don was already brown, he had that stacked against him already. Shredder looks too much like a reject from the Masters of the Universe line, bare chest and all. The other ones were fine. I have no idea how these gained more notoriety over Tyco's Dino Riders or Galoob's Micro Machines. I hated the TMNT stuff because of the packaging. It brought a doom and gloom effect to the boys aisle. Judging by the cardbackers, the turtles figures looked like what you find in a Dollar Store. Splinter and April O' Neil were the best figures of the first wave, to me. They look great as hard-heads and soft-heads (in this case, only Splinter qualifies). Parents began snatching them up in '89. Then, collectors realized they only really needed every figure from the first line and maybe Krang or Casey Jones. You do have to giggle a little bit that young men made such a big deal out of them. Anyway, the toy stores were beginning to look more like a Millenial wonderland at Child World. Some 80s things remained. Girls were getting scented Pop-a-point pencils to go along with their mini pianos.

I would say buy a live turtle, but the ones by Playmates were actually much cheaper.

The tone of the time was beginning to feel much different. You did not see that many young men wearing asymmetrical haircuts (this lasted until late in 1990). Long mullets and rattails were incoming hairstyles. Women in their 20's and 30's were now wearing blossom hats and floral clothing. This was mostly the year of the rotating jean fad. Teens were changing their jeans faster than the Jukebox selection labels went by. Used jeans were first, Levi 501 jeans were second, and Bugle Boy third. Lunchables were introduced, but they were for adults back then. Children and adults alike were able to enjoy Teddy Grahams. The vanilla flavor was around, too. Remember those commercials with the rock n rolling teddy bears? The Crash Test Dummies were far scarier,in my honest opinion.

They were the 80s, no questions asked.

So many new music forms were breaking through. M/A/R/R/S demanded someone "pump up the volume". '88 is most remembered for the onset of Acid House music, though the Manchester (UK) scene was beginning to take off. The N.W.A's "Straight Outta Compton" was released. This record would go on to change the face of rap music forever.It seemed like everyone was playing this from their boomboxes at the time. Vinyl players were going the way of the dinosaur and becoming replaced by Compact Disc players. Pop music was on its knees trying to walk as if it had feet.

Ah, the syrupy sweet sounds of Paula Abdul

The 80s were the decade when "sisters were doing it for themselves"- and it was reflected everywhere. We witnessed Roseanne emasculating her husband, Dan Conner, on national Television and Murphy Brown made sarcastic comments towards her male co-workers. Those two "working girls" were almost the same person.

These were shows your Mother found cute.

Read my lips: No new taxes

That's not Dan "Quail". Bush spelled his last name.

If only we knew then what we know now. Mike Dukakis wasn't much of a debater. Dan Quayle was the dumbest Vice President in history. At the time, America had a strong 'right' stance and believed HW would pick up exactly from where Reagan left off. I don't know anyone who did not watch the '88 Presidential election. I remember almost everyone in my town having a Bush/ Quayle '88 sticker. No one took Dukakis seriously, even then.

Look at that, Talking Tina has a boyfriend.

'88 ended on a good note. We started this year off with Segal and ended it with John McClane. In other words, '88 ended with a real man's movie. Yippie Ki-Yi-Yay, Mother----err! What more can be said about Die Hard? You knew what you were getting when you walked into the movie theater. You knew the sequel had to be named "Die Hard 2: Die Harder." Movie titles were getting shorter as the year went by. "Child's Play" gave movie goers that fresh of breath air over all of the horrible slasher sequels unleashed before us. I do have my gripes with "Child's Play." I wanted this movie to mess with my head. The movie poster gave everything before I even bought a ticket. Obviously, Alex Vincent's character Andy doesn't have blue eyes. Who wasn't a little disappointed by the body count in that one? After a few takes, I wasn't convinced that Charles Lee Ray was much of a psychopathic serial killer. This film was solely responsible for scaring children away from My Buddy dolls.I remember laughing too hard at that fact that Chucky was a pint-sized killer. There was obviously a small man in the Chucky suit. The scene with Dr. Arvord gives it away. Chucky is still up there with Freddy, Jason, and Pinhead as one of the best 80s horror villains. I was astonished by there being two alien movies at cinemas. You had the ones taking over the Earth in "They Live" and the Newcomers of "Alien Nation" who come to settle in Los Angeles. Two questions that always came to my mind when viewing a Newcomer was:

1.) Why were those spots on their heads?
2.) How many spots were on their heads?

I was too distracted to pay attention to the plot. They looked like relatives to Cheesasaurus Rex. I'm guilty of wanting to see what would happen if they hit their stork egg heads hard against something.

1988 was the last true year of the 80s in my eyes. In all fairness, I think of "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" as the very last '80s movie; I'm not proclaiming that all of '89 was '80s. I'm still not sure what to make of 1989. When Reagan left office, there was definitely a different vibe. At one time ('91 or '92), it seemed like the Bush years were never going to end. For those of you who weren't there,we spent 3 and a half years listening to the same musicians, wearing the same neon clothes, and eating the same foods. On the plus side, there were reruns of 80s shows that you cannot catch on TV today, in those years. That's not to say the early 1990s did not have their own identity, but they wore out their welcome after awhile. If I have the time, I'll try to cover them in future articles. Later.

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