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Posts Tagged ‘80s’

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Yes it is almost the end of August which is basically the end of summer. And though the summer ends, technically, in three weeks there is still time to make the beach and curl up with that really great beach book. Which brings me to this strange ditty.
It was another one of those strange books that stared out at me on the “New Arrivals” shelf. Now one would think that the title would be compelling enough to get me to read it (aside from the fact that cover looked like a page from my high school yearbook). Not quite. Until I read the synopsis on the back cover: “A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession”. Now for most, the mention of the word “heartwarming friendship” would be deal breaker and threat to one’s manhood. But it was the whole “demonic possession” thing in the same sentence that reeled me in. Aye, that’s how the Evil Parrot rolls. To make things worse (or best), depending on your perspective, the book was rooted in the 80s with chapters using 80s song titles. Ah the glorious 80s: glasnost, MTV (that actually played music before proceeding screw up ever millenial mind out there), Just Say No, AIDS, New Wave music (kids, you missed out on some really good music), and Samantha Fox. So yes, being an 80s aficionado (and a teen during the 80s), I couldn’t help it and it broke all will power and any sense of decent judgement … I had to read this book. So with a sense of nostalgia … and the ghostly smells of Vidal Sasson and L.A. Looks in my mind I plowed ahead. Well, so much for the pleasantries and all that other bollocks. To the review , I say.
Set in Charleston, South Carolina (did I mention in the 80s) the book is centered around the lives of Abigail (Abby) Rivers and Gretchen Lang. Abby is from the poor and struggling side of the tracks, whilst Gretchen is from a conservative family that seem to have a decent amount of dosh. In fourth grade, Abby had the distinct privilege of being stood up by her classmates whom she had invited to her (get this) E.T. themed birthday party at the local roller boogie rink.Sadly, the only person that ever showed up to her party was Gretchen … with a Bible as a present. Seriously folks, what is the world coming to when people turn down free cake and ice cream at a roller rink that plays Journey? Yeah, I know sick.Bunch of tossers. And so began the friendship of Gretchen and Abby. Gretchen lives a sheltered life with possibly the most crappiest parents that spare very little effort to treat her like utter crap, though she lives for want of little. Abby, as she moves on in the higher grades, lives with tolerable parents and has a part-time job (like every working-class teen in the 80s) at the Dairy Queen. After all Avia sneakers, Atari 2600s and Jerri Curl hairspray don’t grow on trees. One weekend , along with several other friends, the duo decides to sleepover at motel. But to make things a bit more exciting one of the friends had brought along “party favours” to kick things up a notch: LSD. Yes, I know it is the 80s that has swamped most of our minds with images of crack and cocaine …LSD , not so much … but there it was. Needles to say, they all tried a bit and Gretchen had a bad trip, where she stripped off her clothes and ran away into some nearby woods. After searching for her, her mates had found her in a strange deserted house in the woods, and eventually returned her home. And that’s when the crap really start hit the fan. First, Gretchen starts having strange mood swings and though this is lost on the rest of daydreaming twits, Abby realizes that something is really wrong with her best friend. Then out of nowhere, Gretchen has become the popular girl and has slowly re-aligned herself with newer friends (think rich friends). And even though this seems as teenager re-inventing herself, Abby suspects all’s not well in Denmark. It is only after a revival crusade run by a group known as the Lemon Brothers (think the Jonas Brothers as evangelicals) passes though the town and is attended by both Abby and Gretchen, that Gretchen is pointed out as possessed by one of the brothers. Abby, eager to help her best friend, finds herself dealing with more than she can handle, as the demon (Andras) sets out to turn Abby’s life upside down: framing her in terrible and compromising situations. The most heart warming thing about this is that Abby never gives up on her friend, through it all and even engages in an exorcism prayer that is unlike anything you’ve ever read or ever graced a seminary. As I was reading the last few pages of this story, I couldn’t help myself from listening to the Scorpions “Send Me An Angel” that was being played by the local classic rock station … and somehow it all fit together. Yes, a Scorpion song got me all weepy. If My Best Friend were to be thought of as a song, it would be Bette Midler”s “Wind Beneath My Wings” … sung by Angela Gosow (from the death metal group Arch Enemy). Actually, since we’re talking Bette Midler, the best way to sum this story up would be Beaches meet The Exorcist. Aye, I know.
A great story and summer read, Hendrix captures the 80s teenage scene ever so perfectly … down to the lingo. For me it was almost as good as being back in the 80s. No internet, no selfies, no Kardashians … just new wave, Alf, Jeff Spiccoli, and so much good times. Hey brah, let’s party. I miss the 80s. Badly.

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Running Title: Bang Your Head – The Rise And Fall of Heavy Metal

Ah the 80s, New Wave, Transformers, Milli Vanilli, Heavy Metal, Hair Metal, Glam Metal … yes, I know I’ve mentioned Metal a lot … because that’s what most of us remember so much from the 80s. Ok, some of us might have The Best of Debbie Gibson on our MP3 players alongside Van Halen … and I’m pleading the bloomin fifth. For me I lived most of the metal 80s through the telly as I was still stuck in a certain English speaking colony in South America. When I landed in America, it turns out that fate has a sense of humour, since I was sent to high school that was predominantly into rap and hip-hop with literally a handful of us (as you count us on one hand) that dared to walk around the halls in denim jackets that sported decals by Guns N’ Roses, Dokken, Def Leppard, Accept or AC/DC. Aye talk about fun times. Reading Bang Your Head was like being visited by ghosts from your metal past, and boy do some of us do need a visit because that emo bollocks is just not bloody cutting it.
In Bang Your Head, Konow takes us through the world of heavy metal from the late 70s onward to the early to mid 90s when grundge came on the scene. It is somewhat an expose of some of the behind the scenes that was all part of the heavy metal decadence: the egos, the eccentricities, the shadiness, and then there were the heavy metal artists. Bang Your Head takes from the point heavy metal struggled to gain a foothold in the mainstream to the part where artists let their egos get the best of them as many started taking themselves a bit too seriously and some treated the fans like utter crap. Paging Mr. Rose. Some of the stories are laughable and some … well … pretty much answered a ton of “where are they now”questions. A delightful read, and in the end you might find yourselves unsympathetic to many of these tossers and bit more appreciative of others. For some reason, as you read about the heavy metal industry somewhat imploding in view of the Seattle sound (grundge), the song “Don’t Know What You Got Til It’s Gone”, by Cinderella, echoes in your head. Talk about irony. In the mean time that Cinderella song only reminds me of the time a certain girl told me that it was best if we remained “friends” … the night before the prom. I never went to the bloody prom. Sigh. I have detoured. And let you into my life. You poor bastards.
On a brighter note, for those of us that banged our heads in the 80s, are still banging our heads (with less hair) today or just plain bloody posers, then Bang Your Head is the book to have in your literary arsenal. And yes, headbangers do read.

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