Launie’s Manifesto

Remember the Cold War? It seems so vanilla now, at least as an American. Men in trench coats with secret code words and Russian or German accents – no War on Terror, no internet. We received a paper a day in our mailbox and we knew who the bad guys were.

It sounds so quaint.

But, it was scary enough for me when I was an adolescent/teenager.

Our kitchen cafeteria had a big fall-out shelter sign. I wondered, if we were nuked would my boyfriend and I have time to make it to the shelter for one last kiss?

My thoughts in the eighties were fairly melodramatic. But, how couldn’t they be? People really emoted in that decade. Just think of A Total Eclipse of the Heart, Livin’ on a Prayer and Against All Odds – songs that inspired millions of teenagers – and even some adults – to drop to their knees, raise a fist, and plead to the sky. Thankfully auto-tune hadn’t been invented yet. (Although if it had, the planet surely would have imploded under the perky, testosterone-explosion of St. Elmos Fire/Man in Motion.)

But, I knew serious things were going on, beyond fall-out shelter signs. For instance, I heard Reagan joking about sending missiles to the Soviet Union. I knew dangerous things were happening because I heard it on the radio – right between Casey Kasem’s Top 40 and Dr. Demento.

And like teenagers always do, I repeatedly made something very big and frightening a parable for my own life. My boyfriend having to fill out his Selective Service card was terrifying – but instead of acknowledging that he might be drafted, it became a little drama about how he was leaving school a year ahead of me because he was a year older. Were we going to break up? Heroes by David Bowie wasn’t a song about German lovers on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall – it was a song about not having choices. Those two characters knew what they wanted and I had no idea what I wanted to fight for, and I had no idea who I wanted to be. I envied their clarity.

Music is great for trying on personas: the John Lennon rebel, the Otis Redding eternal optimist, the Johnny Rotten cynic.

So, on Cold War Rock I want to represent the confused, big-haired girls of the 1980s. You remember what we sounded like – a little too up-beat, a little too loud – we were the ones who played Wham UK! and Duran Duran loudly in public. But in our bedrooms we were trying on personas like crazy, trying to figure out what we would be in the 1990s.

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