Saturday, March 8, 2008

New York in the 80s

In reflecting on classic New York proto-douche Mickey Rourke recently, I realized that the seeds of modern scrotey go back before the Grieco/Bleeth coupling of the mid 1990s.

The 1980s.

When I was a kid growing up in the 1980s, New York never felt like a real place. It was this dreamland, with all of its danger, chaos, glitter and toys. An otherworldly playground fantasy.

A kaleidoscopic maelstrom of sex and parties, beautiful people and never-ending pleasures. Private schools with slutty drinking teenage hotts. Central Park in Fall. Sexed up model sluts with shoulder pads and big hair and boobs. Home of the hated Yankees and the illicit inverted-Disneyland porn palaces of Times Square.

New York in the 1980s was the land where adults did whatever the hell they wanted. Where everyone acted like kids.

At least, that’s how I saw it through my film/TV prism and twelve year old mind.

Letterman’s velcro suit. Griffin Dunne running through Soho. Eddie Murphy looking for his bride in Queens. Woody Allen wandering up 5th Avenue. Spike Lee ranting in Brooklyn. Switchblades for sale on 9th avenue and full frontal nudity on Broadway. Terrible art. Champagne parties in Trump Tower.

On the occasional trips when my parents would take me for a weekend visit I would breathe New York smog in joyously, watching the chaos blurring by outside my taxi window as we raced through the city of guns, murder and graffiti subways.

The ghost of Warhol. The Beasties. Katz’s pastrami. Charlie Sheen and Darryl Hannah buying condos.

New York was a pastiche. A collage of illegality and immorality. A place where kids my age seemed twice as old. World weary in a way I could only dream about being. A place where parents were absent and bars didn’t card. I wanted to hop the bus and camp out with Tom Hanks in a seedy motel eating cold pizza and squirting silly string.

Movies, TV, books and theater, mixing in my fevered Junior High mind with a siren song of promise. Endless adventure. The unlimited adulthood that would soon be mine.

When I finally got my ass to New York for college in the early 1990s, it was never quite what I’d hoped. Never quite the delivery of 1980s fueled fantasy. Letterman got the 11:30 slot. Rudy came in with his fascist thugs. Crime dropped and the web boomed.

The danger diminished. No magic lurking around every corner in the way that I’d hoped. But then again, it never could.

Reality is never like you imagine it in the crazed dreams of childhood, when you lie awake reading about Sallinger’s phonies, Bret Easton Ellis’s coke parties and Tama Janowitz’s lower east side. MTV music awards and Kurt Loder news updates. A sick summer sweatland myth of a city that only exists as artistic creation blasted through the prism of media reinvention. Blasted into my eager young psyche with the power chords and glitter of a pure visceral high.

The New York I was promised in the 80s. Where I could kick pansy-ass Mickey Rourke’s douchey ass and whisk Kim Bassinger off to my penthouse apartment, where we’d play with toys from the Shaper Image before watching the Playboy channel and rubbing each other with oils.

1990s New York was great, but also kind of a letdown. AIDS and Rudy’s fascism. K-Mart in the Village. Yuppies and then the internet boom of endlessly replicating hipster douchefaces, clones produced by the bushel in the irono-factories of suburban sprawl. Coming from all corners of the country to turn New York into just another mall. Minnesota with cabs.

But every so often, the dream would spark back alive. Become real. Become everything promised. The beauty and danger and illicit aliveness outside of the pre-determined bounds of cowardice packaged as “normalcy.”

New York is still there. Buried, maybe. Different. But still there.

Dammit. I need to go for a visit.

# posted by douchebag1

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