I went to New Jersey this weekend to visit my Great Uncle in the nursing home. Well, I guess it’s a nursing home, I’m not quite sure what the P.C. name is – Retirement Home?
I left early Saturday morning to make the drive. I grabbed a bunch of old CD’s to listen to on the ride. As I made my way through them, only listening to the songs I like as opposed to listening to the whole CD, I stumbled on Expose. For those of you who did NOT grow up in the 80’s in New York, listening to Z100 broadcast “live from the top of the Twin Towers,” you may not have the same fondness for bands like Expose, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, and Pebbles. Let’s have a nod to some true girl jammin’ shall we? A reminder of the days when hair was big, spandex was streetwear, dancing wasn’t always sychronized and ladies could sing.
Hmm. What’s this? Do I smell Spandex?
What about this one? Reminds me of skipping gym class.
Good lord. Mr. Washuk just gave me detention. Dick!
Probably their best. Hit #1, it did.
Best line ever here – “Apology not accepted, add me to the broken hearts you’ve collected.”
Something tells me only KassyK will enjoy this the most. It’s a tri-state area thing. Z100, neon lights under your car and weekends at the Jersey Shore.
Anyway, I do hope you enjoyed that, for I shall continue with my story. I needed to lift you up before I brought you down. I’m jamming along through the Baltimore Tunnel, straight up 95 to a little Expose. My mind wanders to the whole New York in the 80’s thing, and the feel of growing up during that time. I’m instantly tossed back to 8th grade, hanging out with my friend at the end of my street, talking about boys. On the highway, I see a car with New York plates in front of me, and realize that they are heading “home.” Brain wandering. My dad asked me on Friday if I would consider moving back to New York and give up my pipe dream of moving to Phoenix. I said no, but secretly it is something I do consider. I’m on the fence between Phoenix and New York. It would make more sense to just go back home. Besides, I could get back together with my hot ex-boyfriend. You know, the one who picked me up in a bar when I was 19, with the line, “If you guess what kind of car I drive you can have it.” I looked him up and down and said, “Black Ford Mustang.” He said, “Did you see me get out of my car?” I really didn’t, it was easy. All those guys drove Ford Mustangs.
As I’m mulling this over in my head, a tour bus cuts off the New Yorkers in the car ahead of me. They drive out of the lane to avoid an accident, skidded in the left shoulder, burning rubber in the process. Then the driver lost control of the car and it fell into the median, flipped over and landed on its side. Right in front of me.
I slam on the breaks and immediately call 911. (When I drive, the phone is always in my crotch. I enjoy the vibration, what can I say?) So, I get out of Speedracer and I’m in a full sprint back to their car. I never knew I could run this fast in flip flops. A guy was standing next to the car pulling the people out, as they had to climb up just to get out. Just as I said, “I’ve told them to send an ambulance,” out of the car comes a 3 year old little girl.
All four adults and one child climbed out of that car. Alive. Not injured. I never would have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes.
Then someone said, “The car is smoking, everyone back away.” Traffic had come to a stop on the highway in both directions, and we started walking away from the car. Secure that they didn’t need me and had enough people around with an ambulance on the way, I made my way back to Speedracer to continue on. Needless to say, I was later than Uncle M expected. But he was just watching a Lifetime special, and he didn’t understand it anyway. He said, “Do I have to live a lifetime just to understand what the hell they are saying?”
I wheeled him back to his room, then we went for a walk outside on the grounds. Two ladies asked us to join them in the swing, so we did. We sat there for what seemed like an eternity, and in between small talk, Uncle M started in on these political rants. Everything is a conspiracy. Gotta love it.
Before I left, I saw a picture in his room of his mother, my great grandmother. This is the woman allegedly responsible for a lot of misery in the family. She was supposedly such a raging bitch, that she pitted my grandmother and her sister against each other for most of their lives.
I sat in the chair looking at the picture of my great grandmother, feeling nothing, knowing that she created a mess of shit that we are all still dealing with today. Uncle M never got married because she forbid him to marry a non-Greek who he was in love with. My Great Aunt committed suicide. My grandmother became completely crazy and tortured the hell out of my mom. The stories my mom can tell about growing up with my grandmother, lord. They could send us all to therapy. Though, the ones who need it don’t seem to end up there, do they? It’s the rest of us who have to go. Hell, they have even sent Uncle M to therapy now. He said they asked him why he can’t get along with anyone at the home. I said, “Did you tell them cause you’re Greek? It’s in your heritage?” At least he laughed at that.
My own reflection in the glass surrounded her face. I stared at it for a long time, to see if there was any similarity in our appearance. Nothing. I couldn’t see one thing in her face that resembled my own. But that’s just the outside. It’s not the outside that counts.
This makes me want to give you a big hug, because you are such a good person under that outer layer of hostility. I’m sure your Uncle M continues to re-live the time you spent together this weekend. This was one of the best posts you have ever written!
I loved ExposÃ©. I think Let Me Be The One is my favorite. Of course, I was crushing on this one particular kid at the time… but whatever.
I will not-so-secretly root for you to come back home, and for Sammy and Thora to be happy here.
I hate to say it, but you should have stuck around for the police to arrive, to help those folks out with regard to the insurance claim. You are probably the only person that probably was paying enough attention to what was going on to know why they skidded out, and they would need your corroborating information when making the claim.
As for the family stuff. Huzzah for making the trek to see your great uncle and spending time with him. With regard to your great grandmother… you aren’t like her on the inside, either. You’re tough as nails, but you’re genuinely considerate of others – prima donnas aren’t.
You can rest easy that there is precious little about you that is like her.
btw, if you’re looking for ‘old’ but great music, ya gotta get Sirius. (yes, this is a sales pitch. lol)
I didn’t grow up in New York, and I was a bit too young to really be into the bands at the time, but now I love them. I’m such a dork for 80’s music/movies.
That’s crazy that all those people were all right, but it’s wonderful too. And I know the feelings of “going home” that you write about, it’s so tempting sometimes…
I’m sure your Uncle appreciated the time you spent with him, especially as you may not be within driving distance to do it soon enough. Hope your week is more uplifting than your weekend.
I’m going to have All Cried Out stuck in my head for the rest of the morning. Good stuff.
I don’t know how you continued to drive after having seen that. I would have needed a valium and a nap.
How did you not tell me the part about you trying to rescue people in a car when we talked last night?! Damn girl!
This post will be an excellent segue in the novel of your life that I look forward to reading. Really nicely done, V.
In Houston and Atlanta where I grew up, Whitney Houston and Milli Vanilli cornered the market on spandex pop.
I grew up in NJ and listened to Z100 ALL THE TIME!!
that is so funny you brought that up.
Barbara – I have an outer layer of hostility? Moi? Really?
Siryn – I actually took off hoping to catch the tour bus to get their plate number. No such luck though.
Needtsza – That is a GREAT idea. I do need that satellite stuff don’t I?
Living in Dupont – It just reminds me of junior high. I can’t get my head out of the torturous 7th grade right now.
FreckledK – “My body never knew such pleasure, my heart never knew such pain…”
They just don’t write songs like this anymore!
Sweet – I was too busy trying to load YouTube Expose videos! HA! I’m so selfish!
Chico’s Bail Bonds – Girl you know it’s true! Poor Milli of Milli Vanilli fame, he killed himself. Rob and Fab I believe were their names. Damn they were hot. Those bodies, looooorrrrddddd.
Pam – What’s their tagline now? Since their antenna went down with the WTC. I wonder where they shoot their signal from? Do you remember WPLJ? How about WAPP – 103.5? That shit was goooood! Back when MTV played videos. I do miss it.
Uhhh… Z100 is from the top of ESB I think and PLJ is alive and kicking: http://www.plj.com/home.asp
My office mate used to listen to PLJ during work, which, in essence, is listenting to a rotation of 10 songs interspersed with 30 minutes of commercials per hour.
Let me just say that if I were a dead-beat DC cop or a failed-now-alienated lover, I would not want to go up against the likes of you. You have been know to be rather hostile to such individuals, wouldn’t you say?
I remember hearing “Roxanne, Roxanne” by UTFO back in ’85 on Z100…
She was walking down the street
so I said “Hello,I’m Kangol from UTFO.”
And she said “So?” And I said “So?!?
Baby don’t you know?
I can sing, rap, and dance in just one show…”
From 80’s rap, to Philip Larkin on what we inherit from our ancestors:
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
You had a heck of a weekend, Velvet. Way to be there for that flipped car. I always feel that how we respond in a life/death crisis is a truer expression of who we are than any other – you, apparently, are fearless and compassionate.
When your uncle is alone and lonely, you’re there. When some strangers are upside-down in a car on the side of the road, you’re there. This is so much more relevant than whatever emotional well-poisoning may have seeped down generationally from the font of pain in your family.
While most people are understandably much more interested in your outside, I suspect your inside is equally attractive.
Wow, Velvet, this is like that Howard Nemerov poem, “I Only Am Escape Alone To Tell Thee.” Like some heart driven pilgrimage with chaotic cars and music and mayhem and memories. What a quest. What a journey.
heh, your great grandma sounds like a piece of work.
listening to that music brought back some memories. oh lisa lisa and how i used to crush on thee. you know, back in the day, i used to want a casio synthesizer. they had the raddest commercial with the guy in black leathers and the motorcycle helmet. fuckin rad shit right there. he thrashed a synthesizer so hard he neaded leathers for protection.
Between rescuing children from accidents and deterring thieves with just a quick turn of the head, how do you have time to date?
Chico’s Bail Bonds – PLJ used to be like the Zee, but they changed their format a couple hundred years ago, and I’m not sure if they are back to dance/pop.
Barbara – okay, but at least if they deserve it, right? It’s not like I’m openly hostile to people who do nothing to me, am I?
Dan – That was very nice. Thank you. I don’t know what to say really. I don’t know the songs you reference though!
Cubie – I do so love a drive. About 15 minutes before the accident, I was thinking, “hmm, I wonder if I’ll have my usual long-drive epiphany today.” Yup. Sure did.
Chud – I left out the part YOU would love most. I stopped at Mike’s Famous Roadside Restaurant and Harley Davidson Attraction on the way back. Then I spent too much money.
KM – I didn’t rescue anyone, they all got out themselves! But those thieves, I hear they may have been caught. Allegedly it was kids on bikes who were doing all the crime on the mall as well. Not sure if it is the same kids, but, well, kids on bikes are my new nemesis.
Z100 was always from the top of the ESB, so they weren’t affected by 9/11 other than the shock, awe, outrage, or paranoia felt by everyone else.
Nope. When I was little, they were at the top of the WTC. They had a big ass antenna up there. Might have been moved long before 9/11 though.
What?! You don’t know Roxanne, Roxanne?
Well, I can’t say you’re in for a treat, unless you like bad, early rap, but you can hear it here:
I really wish I knew how to code links into a blog reply…
We left the greater NY metro area when I was 12 — for sunny Florida — but that is exactly what I remember about the radio up there.
Sorry, luv, but it was ESB.
Lord you are exhausting. So why’d they say from the “top of the twin towers” then?
Sorry about witnessing the car accident, thank God noone was hurt.
But Expose! Wow, I didn’t even remember them. I was a little younger then, but no matter what if you lived in NY you had to listen to them. Love Point of No Return. Brought back childhood memories.
I am reading “Middlesex” right now, and it is a VERY Greek story. Lovin’ it. Should I media mail it to ya when I am finished to see what you think (not that you have the time…)?
Exhausting is part of what I do. 🙂
But honestly, I don’t remember them saying “from the top of the twin towers” but I do distinctly remember them saying from the top of the Empire State Building.
I thought it was the top of the twin towers also, but I can’t remember now. I LOVED Z100 though (from NJ) and the “love lines”. Good call Velvet!
Dan – I need some plug in. Damn. I can’t hear it. I’m too lazy (and scared of computer slowdowns) to load anything on here. Can you just sing it for me?
Dara – But FL had great dance music too. Not as much Expose, but still, they did their share of 80’s pop that never made it anywhere else in the country.
Caribbean Lurker – You really enjoy your nickname don’t you? Taking me….to the POINT OF NO RETURN!!!
Siryn – Cough. looking down at A’s comment. Could Wikipedia be wrong?
A – Aah, Lovelines from the 80’s vs. Lovelines today. People would never ask back then what they ask now. And they wouldn’t have made it on the air either!
Swamped at work so I cannot read the entire thing till tomorrow morning but had to say:
A. Thx for the Jers shout out
B. You know I feel this. I loved these girl bands. Where did they GO?!
Ah, you know the way to this man’s heart Velvet. I’m so sure you just ASKED me to rap to you. Do you know how many dates I usually wait before I even, hesitantly, bring up the subject of my 80’s rap fetish?
Yes, in fact I can sing it to you. I can do the back-up beat box too. 🙂
Agreed that the recipients of your hostility are deserving. Because they are such good fodder for Blog posts, we often read about episodes of hostility that clearly don’t define your friendships!
ahhhh.. Lisa Lisa…what a great song.
As for your great-grandmother, I’m sure each generation has learned enough to not let those family traits affect their children. I’ve been going through a lot of shit- realizing that my dad was really horrible and may have fucked me up more than I had realized. It’s all about knowledge- whenever my behavior starts to remind me of my dad’s, I have to take a step back and think. I’m hoping eventually, I’ll be able to change those things about myself. So, I think that knowing about your great-grandmother’s “issues” has probably helped you become the “Velvet” we love so much 🙂
and by the way, with the accident- good job keeping calm. I don’t think I would have known what to do…I’m the type of person that freaks out.
Intense weekend! That’s amazing that that family escaped the accident unscathed.
Ah, my dears…
Trivia: Where is Z-100 broadcast from, according to about 20 years of promos?
“From the top of the Empire State Building.”
Z100 was indeed broadcast from the top of the Empire State Building. I have fond memories of the first day they came on the radio. I was just a kid, and the first song they ever played was “Eye of the Tiger.” Gotta’ love Jersey. There’s no place like it in the world!
I remember “from the top of the empire state building” not WTC.
I remember PLJ and my favorite station was 106.3 FM (from Middletown, NJ – a shore station). They played more retro 80’s music. I can’t remember their letters though.
I don’t remember WAPP though!!
Where’s your cape?
I’m driving to Scranton in a few weeks to visit my 94 yr old Great Aunt at the convent.
A greek I work with told me, “I used to be a greek god but now I’m just a god damn greek.”
That is so sad about Uncle M. Was he happy otherwise? What happened to the woman he was in love with?
Shiiiiit! I loved Expose. I still have some of their tapes too. Yes, I said tapes. Hmmm who else? Sweet Sensation, although they were more 1990ish than 80s I think. Shannon….Let the Music Play…
I think I might need to make a late 80s/early 90s she-jam mix cd when I return to the states.
I was way Upstate in the 80’s, but we definitely had our girl bands years before the hair bands years started. Expose, Lisa Lisa, Bananarama. Remember that group called The Jets? (I think.) They were like 13 brothers and sisters or something…