Bushwick Asks: What do you miss about the 1980s?

Ready Player One is filled with 1980s pop culture references. The book is almost a love letter to 1980s video game culture and it’s hard to read without hitting up YouTube to listen to the songs author Ernest Cline mentions in the text and maybe to watch clips of people playing the video games he references. All the 80s nostalgia got me thinking about what I miss the most from the decade I grew up in like New Edition and playing Below the Root on my family’s Commodore 64. Since I was reminiscing, I asked the artists performing at our Bumbershoot Ready Player One show, what do you miss most about the 1980s? What are you nostalgic for?

Olivia Claire

Olivia: This book is so much fun to read!! It’s almost impossible to not get overwhelmed with all the 80s music potential for the upcoming Bushwick Book Club show at Bumbershoot. Although I experienced only a portion of my childhood in the 80’s (I clearly don’t have as much D&D or BurgerTime experience as Halliday’s character) some things I remember fondly are: Lite Brite, slap bracelets, dancing to Paula Abdul’s Spellbound album on vinyl, My Little Pony, neon colors galore, and running around my neighborhood in Aylmer, Quebec, without a care in the world (or sometimes clothes for that matter…. hey, I was only like 4 or 5 years old!). I was also a huge fan of New Kids On The Block, Paul Simon and Miami Sound Machine. Movies like The NeverEnding Story, The Last Unicorn and Who Framed Roger Rabbit definitely had a lasting impression on me. With so much content to choose from, I can’t wait to hear everyone’s songs on September 2nd!


Julia Massey

Julia: I am most nostalgic for the Cruisin’ Classics free tapes that the Shell Gas Stations used to give out during the summertime in the 80s. Granted, these were tapes with music from mostly the 50s and 60s, but I can remember that cheesy cover with the close-up of the boombox or the sports cars. These albums were the soundtrack to my childhood, and to this day, whenever I hear any of these songs today, I am transported to the sweaty backseat with a side ponytail singing Blue Moon at the top of my lungs.


Chris Poage

Chris: The best memories I have rooted in the 80’s are: Gremlin’ hatchbacks, Steve Winwood  (Arc of a diver), Casio synthesizers and the video game Pitfall for Atari 2600. Oh and warm puffy vests in the fall.

Kerry: Chris is recording a Chris Poage album with friends and family this year.  (He may or may not be wearing a puffy vest.)  About the project, he says, “It’s a good blend of styles I’ve honed with Panda Conspiracy and Mts. & Tunnels with a bit of southwest influence sprinkled in. Rehearsals are underway and things are sounding fantastic.” You can see Chris play bari sax with the psychedelic art rock band YAR! Its a science fiction, fantasy and horror themed art show on October 13 at The Urban Light Studios Gallery.

Geoff Larson

Geoff: I loved growing up in the 80’s in Spokane, WA. And I certainly connected to many of the references in the book… Mostly on the video game and movie side of things. I loved sitting with my Atari, and later on the Nintendo and figuring out those bizarro games with my Dad. They were seriously weird! I’m thinking Adventure, Moon Patrol, Berserk and Battle for the Atari. When the Nintendo came out we started playing Joust, Balloon Fight, Ghosts and Goblins, Metroid, Faxanadu, Rygar, Zelda, etc… It was some long hours sitting in our game room.

I miss sitting in the back of the Pickup going for a ride, with no one judging. I miss leaving the house for the day on my BMX and coming back at Sundown. I certainly miss the song Eternal Flame by the Bengals… that one slayed me.

But the thing I have to say I’m most nostalgic for is adventure. Literally adventure. You would leave the house without having any idea what you were doing or where you are going. If you wanted to meet up with your friends, you had to make plans and stick to them. Now a days it’s hard to even turn your phone off.

The Oasis is quick at hand… this we can all see.

Amanda Winterhalter

Amanda: I was pretty young in the 80s (I was born in ’85), but I definitely remember and miss my rainbow moon boots for tromping through snow. It seems like we had more snow here in Western Washington in the ’80s, so I miss that, too. I miss land line telephones with rotary dials. I miss Mavis Beacon’s Typing Tutorial on a blinking DOS screen. I miss sneaking to the basement when my brothers were gone to play Duck Hunt on their Nintendo. In my family, video games were definitely a gendered toy – I don’t miss that.

Nate Bogopolsky

Nate: I was born in 1975, which made me 5 when the 80s began and 15 when they ended. While I could talk about many different aspects of this time in my life and the world, certainly gaining my independence is among the principle. I lived in Colorado Springs through most of the 80s, but many summers I would go to visit my grandma in Kansas City. She worked at a fabric shop called Kaplins Fabrics on the Plaza, a very upscale outdoor shopping center. Her house was about 10 minutes walk from the Plaza where there was a movie theater and about 100 different little sitting areas with these beautiful fountains and sculptures. I would spend my days between playing Super Mario Bros. upstairs at her house and going to the plaza to watch movies and eat lunches packed by grandma Susi. I loved spending time by myself and didn’t think twice about going to the movies alone on an almost daily basis. I would get lost in the Nelson-Atkins museum of Art for a day or set up camp next to a fountain and read Stephen King books. So to answer your question, I guess I miss summer breaks and the freedom of having absolutely nothing to do, guilt free. I miss summers with grandma Susi. Oh god, the cake she made. I can’t even…
That’s some top quality reminiscing by those artists ready to take Bumbershoot’s Vera Project stage at 2:30 on Saturday September 1. I hope they drop tons of pop culture references in their songs about Ready Player One. Now it’s your turn. What do YOU miss most about the 1980s? Let us know in the comments.