• 1980-1989: Poland Leads Eastern Europe Into the Abyss

    The Path of Most Resistance During the season of its first flower­ing, at the outset of this decade, Halina Bortnowska, one of the foremost theorists of Polish Soli­darity, characterized the move­ment as an expression of the country’s “subjectivity,” by which, she went on to explain, she meant Poland’s renewed ca­pacity for acting “as the subject […]

  • 1980-1989: The Decline and Fall of the New York Empire

    Moscow on the Hudson “Overturn, overturn, overturn! is the maxim of New York. The very bones of our ancestors are not permitted to lie quiet a quarter of a century and one generation of men seem studious to remove all relics of those who precede them,” Philip Hone, an upper class mayor of New York, told […]

  • 1980-1989: How ’80s Music Bent the Color Line

    Pop Plural In the ’80s, the racial divisions which made necessary a “pop chart” and a “black chart” in Billboard were chal­lenged in increasingly aggressive ways; to the point that the decade’s most provocative innovations — rap, two-tone ska, World Beat, house, and Latin “free­style” — defied placement in either cate­gory. Independent of industry marketing […]

  • 1980-1989: The Awakening of Kool Moe Dee

    A Brother Doin’ 90 Into the ’90s “I joke with my friends a lot and say I’m responsible for 50 per cent of the rap style that goes on now,” says Harlem-­native Mohandas Dewese. Idle boast? Mohandas, a/k/a Kool Moe Dee, has the longest continuous ca­reer in hip-hop, has released hit records every year of the […]

  • 1980-1989: The Squandered Decade

    Why My Kids Have a Right to Be Pissed Off I never thought very much about the future until 1980, when my wife and I decided to end our carefree years — ­afternoon naps, spontaneous dinners on the town, long Sunday mornings in bed with newspapers and classical mu­sic — and have a baby. In […]

  • 1980-1989: A Decade of Death

    An ’80s Memoir 1981 Not very tall, less thin than he looked, with the kind of stage face that’s all geometry, wild surrogate hair sometimes twisted into implausible cones resembling the spires of that Gaudi cathedral in Barcelo­na, flashy outfits knocked together from shards of purple Mylar, sequins, torn-up opera costumes: he’d appear in Mickey’s […]

  • 1980-1989: Crime as Entertainment

    A Necessary Evil If you’re like me, you know perfectly well what you were doing during the summer of 1980. Waiting, along with approximately 83 million other hype-­lashed Dallas fans, to hear who shot J.R. Ewing. Perhaps it was because the outcome was such a letdown — the perp, if you recall, was the petty […]

  • 1980-1989: The Meaning of the ’80s

    From Counterculture to Culture, But Here’s No Culture, Fuck Ecology and the Death of Communism 1981 NYC Dear Lin, Today my mother met William Burroughs. She got, she said, invited to this dinner party that was all men. As the token woman. She said William Bur­roughs has the intelligence of the sharp­est knife she’s ever […]

  • 1980-1989: Pop Goes the Decade

    Car 54: Wherever You Are, Stay There Eddie Gorodetsky spent most of the last decade collecting comic books, buying records, and making people laugh. In person, Eddie is not a man of modest proportions, and neither are his accomplishments: his comic book library (a word that perhaps does not suggest the Leaning Towers of illustrated […]

  • 1980-1989: The Crack-Up

    The Decade of the Quick and the Dead IN THE SUMMER of 1979, Reverend Ike was king in Harlem — not the slick preacher of the gilded temple in Washington Heights, but the pepper­mint-scented portion of parsley in miniature coin envelopes. Sold in a row of brownstones on 123rd between Sev­enth and Lenox, and 112th […]