Great Moments in (Personal) History

That great vinyl smell – straight outta Seneca Mall.

Or great moments in self-discovery. The summer of 1983 was a transformative one for me. A longstanding, nagging groin/hip flexer injury, compounded by an exploratory surgery (for what turned out to be an abnormal appendix, and ergo removed) kept me sidelined from my number one passion: the beautiful game. (That’s football for all you non-Yanks.) So I dove into what would define much of the next 20+ years of my life, what was known back then as “new music”. The term for the uninitiated back then was “New Wave”.
One of the most prominent memories I have of that time was a solo trip to the now long defunct Seneca Mall. As I was not yet driving, and using public transit was second nature to me, I took the #14 Abbott Road bus to Ridge Road, taking note of what was showing at the also long defunct Towne Theater on the corner. I then walked up Ridge, over the I-90 overpass to what was then THE major shopping center within a ten mile radius. First stop as always was Cavages, the only record store chain in the area at that time. I remember buying the Psychedlic Furs’ “Forever Now” after seeing the video for “Love My Way” on USA Network’s “Radio 1990”. (Oh, that smell of vinyl!) I then immediately headed to Spencer gifts where I bought my first wraparound shades-blasphemous fashion in my conservative, Irish Catholic stomping grounds (where I would relish the stares and disdain). Heading back home on that #14 NFTA bus, I had an overwhelming feeling of standing on the precipice of something great. I had stumbled upon a new me. I had shed another layer of onion skin to expose my new core.
Throw in some skinny ties, GI surplus trench coat, and two tone hair (courtesy of Sun-In), and I was truly re-invented. At my all boys Franciscan high school, I was called “radical” by a small majority, a “homo” by the vast majority. Disdain be damned: Attention whoredom reared its head. I had stared conformity and the face, and conformity blinked. After all, much better to savor the memories of a great “punk” show on Monday morning than participating in the oneupsmanship of duelling drunken stories. (Not partaking of underage drinking made one suspect and often a pariah in the sea of Danny Boy Micks I was surrounded by. I am Irish too, by the way. And I DO drink now.)

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