Monday, June 30, 2014

Old School

1984. I'm either laughing my head off or screaming because my shirt's buttoned too tight. 
To put it mildly, I was kind of a rebel back in the day. I was the kind of kid who liked to march to the beat of my own drum. I just thought I knew what was best for me, and nobody else was going to tell me what to do or how to do it. In fact, if someone attempted to get me to march to the beat of someone else's drum, that was pretty much a guarantee that I was marching the other way. It made things difficult at home, made things difficult at school, and made things difficult at a couple of jobs.

By the way, welcome to a special Independence Day edition of Mistress of the Mix. To show you what an independent soul I am, today's column won't be used to wax on poetically about our founding fathers or the Declaration of Independence (even though I'm related to Thomas Jefferson). Instead, I'm going to talk about my own stubborn independent spirit and how it's sort of come back to bite me in the ass.

 I was suspended from junior high for a week after standing up in English class and flipping off the teacher, in a verbal manner. She'd given me a C on a creative writing paper. I still don't think I deserved it. I lost my entire allowance countless times because my father would try to get me to behave by methodically docking money every time I didn't shut up. It didn't work. I left my first (and last) fast food job after six weeks, when the Taco Bell night manager instructed me to work the drive thru from register 1 (all the way across the building) instead of putting my drawer into register 6, right next to the window. I thought the way we did it during the day was far more efficient, and he wanted me to do it his way. So I let him do it all by himself.

 When I got to high school, I already knew I'd never run with the 'popular' crowd. I never played any sports, never officially joined any clubs and never got involved with any of the drama or music productions. The closest I ever got to joining anything was signing up for journalism and landing the position of Editorial Editor of the high school newspaper. Because you know how I am. Never seem to have a problem telling anyone how I feel about anything. I was never a cheerleader, never ran for any kind of student office, because I wasn't a dummy. I knew I never had a chance at any kind of major popularity contest. I ran with the punk crowd, was in a punk band and put on punk rock concerts, although truth be told, I was more of a new wave fan.

 But I was most definitely a known entity.

 I was loud, never shut up in class, and spent a lot of time in the vice principal's office. I shopped almost exclusively at garage sales and army surplus or secondhand thrift stores. I had a closet full of 25-30 year old clothing that was probably just as ugly and garish when it was brand new. I wore a lot of little old lady dresses covered with gigantic flowers with a studded belts, rubber rain boots and brightly colored fishnet stockings. I was kind of a cross between Cyndi Lauper, Boy George and old school Madonna. I even had earrings made of barbie doll heads, weird hats that I wore over ultra-teased bangs, and the ugliest of ugly chartreuse shirts (which I think I wore for Senior Picture Day). Seriously. Compare these photos with the one above. Don't you see it? Less makeup and no recording contract, but other than that….

I'll tell you just how rebellious I was. Up until the year I graduated, our school had a senior graduation party that was very inclusive. All the students were invited, not just the Seniors. It cost $3.50, but covered the cost of roller skating from 10-midnight, dancing at a disco from then until 2, a movie from 3-5, swimming at the university pool after that, and breakfast at the vice principal's house. If you had a sweetheart that went to another school, no problem….bring 'em along. $3.50. It was a blast. I had so much fun, that I looked forward to my senior all-night party for three years.

And then, just when I was getting ready to graduate, along came M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers), and the universal, transcontinental idea of tossing the seniors a party in one location so that there's no driving around, and searching their bags when they come in the door so there'd be no opportunity for any hanky panky.

When the parents gathered all of the seniors together to tell us they were throwing us a party so we didn't have to worry about it, they'd take care of all the details, we were all for it. Until they told us there would be no roller skating. No swimming. No underclassmen invited. No boyfriends from other schools or over a certain age. And the cost? It was somewhere between $25-$50. Doesn't really matter which. We'll pretend it was $25. It was still a buttload of money in 1984, almost ten times what it had been in years past. It was outrageous, and a lot of the students were pissed. The whole school was abuzz. Some started talking about throwing a giant kegger up in the mountains.

I wrote perhaps the best editorial of my young life, listing all the issues we students had with their M.A.D.D. party, and asking them to make some changes to accommodate the students. I showed it to Darin Kavinoky, another Senior, to get his opinion. He turned the paper over,  wrote a quick petition supporting my thesis, signed it, and then passed it around school, where it was signed by several hundred other students, and then printed in the school newspaper, the Rogue News. Later, Darin became a lawyer. I see him giving his expert opinion from time to time on cable TV news shows about the court case du jour. He's even got his own show.

The editorial and petition got the attention of the moms. They wanted to have a meeting. So we met. Just me and them. I had a list of demands. They were unwilling to compromise. On any of them. Even the request to have a room with some pillows where partygoers could simply relax, maybe catch a little shut eye during the 8 hour party. Because what better way to celebrate the graduation into adulthood of 200 eighteen year olds than to search them, lock them in a room for eight hours, refuse to let them sleep, and then raffle off a used car at 6am?

We were at loggerheads.

So I told them I'd just hold my own party. The Ashland Senior High Alternative All Night Party.

I rented the disco for a 2 hour dance party, followed by a movie on a giant wall-sized screen, gave away tons of prizes donated by local businesses, and all of this was followed by breakfast, also donated by a local grocery store. I sold tickets for $3.50.

I'll be honest with you. The M.A.D.D. moms probably thought they'd won the battle, because most of the Seniors went to their party. Even Darin Kavinoky went to their party. In fact he won the freaking car. But my party was also a success, because all of my friends were with me. All the underclassmen were with me. There were friends who went to other schools who were at my party. And we had a blast. Best. Party. Ever. And since all of my friends liked the same weird music that I did (and since I was providing the DJs with the music), it was a bonafide new wave post punk alternative dance riot.

 Sometimes its hard to believe that 30 years have gone by since this all happened. Now I'm a 47 year old mom. Still loudmouthed, opinionated and on occasion I make some pretty strange fashion choices (just ask Linda Bott about the time I thought it might be a good idea to wear a table runner as a scarf on stage). I may be a responsible adult who's pushing 50, but otherwise I'm pretty much that same wild rogue that threw her own alternative all night bash, and this 4th of July weekend is my 30th high school reunion.

 I'd be lying if I told you that my feelings weren't just a little hurt that I wasn't taken up on my offer to create the perfect playlist for the reunion party. Everyone I went to school with probably thinks they'd be subjected to 3 hours of Wall of Voodoo, The Sex Pistols and The Cramps if I was in charge of the music, so I don't blame 'em.

Do you think they'll believe me when I tell them that the associated parents at my daughter's high school asked me if I'd be willing to chair her Senior All Night Party when she graduated from high school in 2015? I tried to tell them that I might not be the best choice. But they didn't listen. We were already at loggerheads right from the beginning. But I did tell them I'd be the DJ. They had no idea what they were in for!

Now that I've spent a few weeks thinking back on my high school days, I have a lot of music to get out of my system. You already know what I did, don't you? Below is a playlist of my very very very favorite alternative new wave post punk dance music of the 80's (plus one song that came out in 1979 - I'll let you figure out which one it is - that kind of put me on the alternative music track to begin with). This playlist could've been hundreds of songs long, so I forced myself to whittle it down to one for each letter of the alphabet, except for a little extra B.S. And by that I mean I couldn't bear to make that Sophie's Choice kind of decision between Bauhaus, the B-52s and Bow Wow Wow, so there's a few extra B's. Same thing for the letter S. Enjoy today's A-Z New Wave playlist from the 80's!

  1. Adam Ant - Ant Music
  2. B-52s - Planet Claire
  3. Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead
  4. Bow Wow Wow - See Jungle
  5. The Cramps - Goo Goo Muck
  6. Devo - I Can't Get No Satisfaction
  7. The English Beat - Can't Get Used To Losing You
  8. Flipper - Ha Ha Ha
  9. The Go-Go's - We Got The Beat
  10. Hoodoo Gurus - Death Defying
  11. INXS - Original Sin
  12. Joe Jackson - Baby Stick Around
  13. The Knack - My Sharona
  14. Love & Rockets - So Alive
  15. Madness - One Step Beyond
  16. New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle
  17. Oingo Boingo - Little Girls
  18. Psychedelic Furs - Love My Way
  19. Quarterflash - Harden My Heart
  20. The Romantics - What I Like About You
  21. The Specials - A Message To You Rudy
  22. The Stranglers - Golden Brown
  23. Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime
  24. UB40 - Many Rivers To Cross
  25. Violent Femmes - Gone Daddy Gone
  26. Wall of Voodoo - Ring of Fire
  27. X - The Once Over Twice
  28. Yaz - Goodbye Seventies
  29. Zounds - True Love

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