Thrashing Like a Maniac
When I first started listening to bands like Metallica and Slayer in 1985, even most of the metalheads at my high school called thrash metal noise. Then Metallica released Master of Puppets in March of 1986, and soon after landed the opening slot on Ozzy Osbourne’s Ultimate Sin tour. Now that they had Ozzy’s blessing, Metallica were cool. Sadly, Metallica bass player Cliff Burton didn’t get to enjoy his band’s success for long. He died while the band was on tour in a bus accident on
Seeing Metallica’s success, major labels started looking for other thrash bands to sign. By years end, two of the genre’s most definitive albums had been released: Megadeth’s Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? and Slayer’s Reign in Blood. Reign is considered by many to be the greatest thrash metal album of all time, and it’s hard to argue. Metallica and Slayer both refused to make videos, but it wasn’t beneath Megadeth, who made a memorable clip for the song “Peace Sells”. The break in the middle where the dad tells his headbanging son he wants to watch the news is one of the great cheesy moments in metal history.
Patrick Sherrill walked into the post office where he worked in
Geraldo’s Got Nothing
Enter the Fox
Until 1986, there were only 3 networks, and about the only original programming on cable TV was Georgia Championship Wrestling (a fine program, by the way). That changed on
Scream Real Loud
Since Pee Wee Herman was in that last clip, it seems like a good excuse to talk about the best show on TV in 1986. On September 13, Pee Wee’s Playhouse premiered on the CBS Saturday morning lineup, and was hands down the strangest, smartest, funniest show on TV at the time. Newhart was the only thing in prime time that was even close to being as good as the Playhouse. Other than that, television comedy was awful sitcoms like Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Perfect Strangers, ALF, Who’s the Boss?, and of course The Cosby Show. Don’t get me wrong, I watched all those shows and liked them just fine at the time. What did I know, I was 16. But I can put on an episode of Pee Wee today and I’ll still laugh. Those others… not so much. Hell, just watching these opening credits still makes me smile.
At the Movies
I hear this all the time: movies aren’t as good as they used to be. That may be true if we go back to the seventies or earlier, but don’t try to make your case with 1986. Among the top 50 grossing films that year, we’ve got some very good ones like Platoon, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Blue Velvet, Little Shop of Horrors, The Fly, Aliens, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Stand By Me. But most of the list is crap like Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Police Academy 3: Back in Training, Poltergeist II, Top Gun, The Golden Child, The Karate Kid Part 2, Cobra, Three Amigos, The Money Pit, Soul Man, Delta Force and Iron Eagle. And before you say, “but Top Gun was awesome,” or “what about Crocodile Dundee,” I suggest you watch them again first. Speaking from experience, stuff you thought was great when you were 16 often doesn’t hold up so well. And yes, I do enjoy some of the worst films 1986 had to offer, but I still recognize they’re bad. Like this one, Stallone’s amazingly dumb Cobra. Enjoy the trailer and the very eighties-sounding Jean Beauvoir song “Feel the Heat” that accompanies it.
2800 Baud of Blazing Speed
I got a Commodore 64 computer in 1984. The 64 in the name was for the (at the time) impressive 64 kilobytes of RAM in the computer’s processor. It cost $595 when introduced, and that was just for the computer itself. You had to buy a floppy disc drive (that took 5 ¼” discs) and modem separately. You could also buy a monitor if you wanted to, but why bother when you could hook it up directly to your TV? By 1986, Commodore had introduced the even more impressive Amiga, but I never did get one of those. Still, I was pretty far ahead of the technological curve for 1986. I knew how to write programs in BASIC, I had tons of pirated video games, and I had an optional modem, allowing me to go online. The modem’s speed was 2800 baud. I don’t know what that means in today’s kbps terms, I just know it would be really, really slow compared even to a standard dial-up connection.
Getting online in 1986 was a very different experience than the modern internet, though. There were a few large networks like Compuserve that you could get on if you paid a subscription fee, but I didn’t mess with those. Instead, I would dial up local “Bulletin Board Systems” (BBS for short). These were free services run from the homes of other computer geeks like myself. Generally only one person could be logged in at a time, although if you were lucky you might get to chat live with the computer geek running the thing (know as the “Sysop”, short for system operator). The only graphics were ASCII art, and the main activity was engaging in flame wars on various primitive message boards. Just about everybody on these boards used a nickname, which added to the silliness of it all. I was “Metal Warlord”. You may feel free to laugh. Then check out this classic Commodore 64 commercial and marvel at how much we once paid for so little computing power.
Well, that’s enough meandering down memory lane for now. Hope you enjoyed it, and feel free to comment with your own memories of 1986 if you’re old enough to have been there.