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Archive for the ‘Hometown’ Category

Eightiesology is Moving!

But you won’t notice it. Eightiesology Headquarters is (finally) moving from its crammed quarters in the hills of Verona, NJ to a spacious home in Rockaway, NJ. There, Eightiesology will often be created from a comfy alcove in a basement of fun, surrounded by many of its long-stored-away souvenirs and memorabilia and a very large television. The search for a new home took many long and winding roads and some dead ends but we’re finally achieving the American dream: more debt!

Interesting trivia: I lived in the same town in all of the ’80s and ’90s (except for semesters at college). However, since 2000 this will be the third town I will have lived in (and the third different county). I mentioned to my wife that my finely-tuned nostalgic mind has really started to see that purchasing a home is going to have a lot to do with providing a backdrop for creating our own memories as well as possibly those for future offspring. (Maybe one day my offspring will create a Tensology blog.) In that regard, I feel like I’ve arrived full circle. This next step is scary, exciting and everything in between but I’m anxious to start acting out tomorrow’s nostalgia.

I still have hundreds of Eightiesology ideas in my brain that I’m going to roll out in the New Year. (And I may sneak in a special ’80s Christmas mix before the end of ’08.) I am not going anywhere. Nostalgia and reconnecting with old friends has been a fantastic way to offset the miseries and frustrations of life in the often-brutal working world. Hopefully I can provide escape and entertainment for others like me, too.

Because if you want something bad, yo, you gotta wanna give your all….

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A Halloween Tale

Halloween is the first significant holiday since Eightiesology launched and I thought it would be interesting to put the holiday into the context of the decade. Christmas was a more memorable holiday for me during the ’80s while Halloween tended to be a, ahem, haunting memory. It’s ironic then that when the ’90s rolled around, Halloween started to take its place as my favorite holiday while Christmas moved to the backburner.

Why? Christmas was a holiday for receiving the types of gifts that inform this website, whether it was a G.I. Joe action figure or a Transformer, perhaps a cassette or CD, or even a new bike to patrol the local neighborhood. It was also a break from school that everyone strived for. Halloween was nice because of the candy and the costumes but it also etched two childhood “tramas” into my brain forever.

One of the first Halloweens I remember I dressed up as Superman. Now mind you, this is probably 1980 or thereabouts so a Superman costume was all tights. And I got teased incessantly for it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve done my own personal psychological analysis and determined that this has to be why I came to detest Superman in the years since. Sure, I have philosophical reasons: I don’t like true blue superheroes, I like ’em rough around the edges and dark. Like Batman. But I think when you get down to the core of it, when I think about Superman, I still think of that little kid getting teased for wearing tights. And I’m going to admit, I’m kinda there teasing the kid, too.

A few years later, I was Rocky for Halloween. Simple and creative costume. Boxing gloves and shorts, and some costume makeup to add faux blood. As usual, the children of Wood-Ridge marched in the Ragamuffin parade, leaving C.E. Doyle on one end of town and parading across town to and down the Boulevard. I would just be one amongst a sea of costumed children. Except for the fact that the high school marching band leading the way happened to be adept at playing the theme from Rocky. Thus, I was asked to LEAD the parade. Look, I know I was a cute kid, inasmuch as most kids at this age are cute. (My awkward years began in the late ’80s when I sprouted upward and got hairier.) But I was not ready for the spotlight. I work best amongst smaller groups and typically not in front of entire towns.

I don’t have many recollections of other Halloweens in the ’80s. There were masks and simple costumes. I was probably a soldier at least one of those times, given my penchant for playing Army with the neighbors. I remember one year Mike and I got a late start on trick or treating, trekked down Hillcrest and at the very end of the street stopped to inventory our minimal swag for the night. A woman emerged from her house and offered us the rest of the candy. Suddenly a slim night became a bonanza of Peanut Butter Cups and Kit-Kats.

The early ’90s brought a new spin to Halloween when I started venturing out with groups of friends that included a female quota. I can remember the feeling of going house to house, hunting the elusive larger-sized chocolate bar, cracking jokes with youthful exuberance. And having a girl laugh with me and flirt. (In my head, there are trumpets blaring and a shot of a volcano erupting.) I had a great time with my classmates in school and had already become a bit of a wiseass earlier than one could suggest. (Much credit to both my father and ALF.) But this started bringing me around to a new level. This felt accessible. I inevitably squandered every opportunity I was ever presented with flirtation back then but I’m secure in my current station in life to recall those hormone-addled days with whimsy and glee. Who knew back then that the simple act of Trick-or-treating was layering new memories onto an old holiday?

Of most importance, the holiday makes me remember my hometown and my neighborhood. This was a territorial holiday, one that immersed you into the culture and landscape of the place we lived. I can see Hillcrest Avenue at night, lined with pumpkins, orange leaves and toilet paper, patrolled by ghosts, ghouls, hoboes, aliens, army men and superheroes. I’m walking with all of my friends, having a good time and goofing around. When we got older, eggs and shaving cream became weapons of choice for some but I didn’t begrudge them for it. It only sent young girls behind me as some sort of protector to guard them from any onslaught. I can see all the houses decorated and even the ones that skipped Halloween; and I can still remember which ones gave us good candy and which ones had to be combed over for razor blades. I can still smell the dead leaves on the dirty ground, the hint of wood-burning stoves and the autumn air wafting through a nice little town on All Hallow’s Eve.

Happy Halloween!


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The Rise and Fall of Summer

There’s something about rounding the last corner of summer into the expanse that is Autumn’s arrival. Most people aren’t eager for Summer to depart, whether it be pool-side adults or children dreading school, the impending arrival of September is typically met with a certain amount of dread. Not for the brisk air and colorful leaves it brings, but for the almost immediate successor in Winter looming on the horizon.

 

But I’ve always found this particular change of season to be fascinating. In retrospect, I think Fall brought a different, almost conflicted feeling to a lot of people. At some point, we stop dreading school and start developing an anxious sentiment about it. Perhaps it’s the brain’s need for some amount of structure after a largely free-form Summer. Or maybe it’s as easy as having a studious excitement over a new slate of education (certainly the case during one’s college years). More than likely it’s the simple fact of reacquainting yourself with school friends and checking out how everyone else has evolved in the two months since you last met.

 

I’ve never studied this professionally but I’ve always been convinced that there is some sort of behavioral psychology immersed in all of this. From the age of 5, you are pretty much raised into a structure of associating the beginning of the Fall with the start (or restart) of a new venture. It’s the start of three major sports seasons and the start of the television season, in addition to being the obvious start to school for millions of students, teachers, professors, coaches and administrators.

And then one day, poof…it’s gone for most of us. You graduate college and you start working for a living. But this time when August rolls around, you’re not buying school supplies or new school clothes. You’re not comparing school schedules with friends. You just keep working. No change, no new starts, no new friends and no amazing maturation in that girl in your Math class.

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