Hey, are you guys working today? The day before a three-day weekend? Silly wabbits — hardly anyone else is. So today seems as good a day as ever to kick off a new Friday feature, which I’m calling Embarrassing Pictures, because, well, you’ll see.
Long-time readers will recognize this one, which I’ve used before, but not for a few years, so it’s fresh to most of you:
Just another self-portrait before a Saturday night out, c. 1981-82, around in there. Columbus, Ohio. I’m not in this one, but let me introduce you to the group. At left, some girl named Jeanine, who was friends with the other two girls in the picture — Lynne (with the champagne bottle) and Janet, known as Tall Janet for obvious reasons. The guys, in the back row, Jeff, Paul, Craig. Jeff and Craig were brothers. In front, Dan, known to all by his nickname, Futz. And at far right, in the Wayfarers, our very own Jeff Borden. I like this picture because it’s entirely a happy accident — Borden put the camera on a a tripod and used the self-timer, bounced the flash off the ceiling, and everyone just sort of assembled themselves. No one directed the pose or styled the outfits.
Details: Both Jeff and Craig were gay, lending support to the genetics argument, but both were natural performers, and I love the way Jeff is looking at Jeanine, like he’s about to throw her on the floor and ravage her, when in truth he couldn’t have been less interested. I love the way the ash on Jeanine’s cigarette is thisclose to falling. Futz and Paul are wearing buttons — buttons were big, back then. I still have my favorite from the era in my jewelry box. It reads VICTIM OF THE PRESS. I picked it up from a LaRouchie at one of their airport tables. I don’t know what was going on with Lynn’s sparkly disco vest, but she rocks it, I think. Borden’s wearing a hat because even then, barely 30 years old, he was stalked by the curse of a receding hairline.
Also, this: Jeff, Craig and Paul are all dead. AIDS. As I mentioned, Jeff and Craig were brothers. In the years immediately after they died, I thought a lot about them. Since Kate was born, I think mainly of their mother. Imagine losing two of your children, in subsequent years, to that disease.
Anyway, even though I wasn’t there, I was there. I think of this picture as exhibit A in the life I led at the time, when Borden and I lived across the hall from one another, left the doors open all the time, ran speakers from one apartment to the other, and had some great parties.
That’s it for me, I think. Long weekend ahead, and I won’t be back until Tuesday. Discuss what you like in the comments and enjoy summer’s kickoff. Let’s hope it’s a long one.
Colleen said on May 22, 2009 at 11:23 am
Love the pic. Very….CBGB or something.
I’m at work. Monday too.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 22, 2009 at 11:34 am
18 referrals on my desk, and the other mediator off for two weeks . . . yeah, weekend. Ha.
moe99 said on May 22, 2009 at 11:53 am
I recently spent a weekend scanning photos from my college days and posting them on my facebook site. We’re having our 35th year reunion in June and more folks have signed up than in the past, so I thought I would get the ball rolling. But that was in the early 70’s and the effect was more counter culture still. I was amazed, however, at how short the guys’ cutoffs were compared to what we see today.
Julie Robinson said on May 22, 2009 at 11:54 am
Not working, but sharing some sad memories too. My high school boyfriend was gay and deep in the closet. He didn’t make it to 40 before AIDS got him. A lovely, sad boy, may he rest in peace.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 22, 2009 at 11:58 am
Ah, fun for everyone — adios, compadres: http://warner.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/21/meghan/
Bill said on May 22, 2009 at 12:01 pm
I still have my Fred Flintstone button around here somewhere. Bought it in 86 at the now-vanished Acres of Books in Champaign IL.
Jason T. said on May 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm
Apropos of nothing, Roger Ebert is blogging — including photos and video — from the Cannes film festival.
He’s 66, a two-time cancer survivor, can no longer speak, damn near died on the operating table a few years ago, and still understands the Internet in a way that would stagger most of the people reading Romenesko.
This suggests that the inability of newspapers to transform their business models is a failure of imagination, not the sign of a generation gap.
(Newspaper managers lack imagination?! What an original thought, Jason! Thank you! Tell us, does the sun still rise in the East?)
(ahem) Have a safe Memorial Day, everyone! Attend a service in your area if you can, or just thank a vet.
(Geez, I’m full of homilies today.)
Catherine said on May 22, 2009 at 12:32 pm
I too have my favorite button from the 80s in my jewelry box: SHUT UP AND DANCE.
Scout said on May 22, 2009 at 1:34 pm
My favorite button was “Legalize Blarney.” Wish I still had it. I love this picture – boy, did it ever take me back several decades.
Deborah said on May 22, 2009 at 1:47 pm
Julie, I had 3 different boyfriends in high school that as it turns out were gay. I had no idea at the time, they probably didn’t either (or maybe so). This was in the late 60s. What does that say about me? I was an artsy waif type, no hips, no boobs.
All 3 are still alive, as far as I know.
nancy said on May 22, 2009 at 1:52 pm
David Sedaris is hilarious on the subject of gay boys with girlfriends. Something about telling the girl that any pair of dogs can have sex — he’s more into making loooove, which only comes deep into a relationship, not right away. This conversation preferably takes place in a spot where he can watch the girl’s brother mowing the lawn with his shirt off.
It’s funny — Jeff was my oldest friend who made it to adulthood with me. We started hanging out in the sixth grade. It was like at first sight.
MichaelG said on May 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm
It is a great picture. Attractive people in a wonderfully lucky composition. Jeff’s left hand on his coat provides a framing counterpoint to Jeanine’s hand with the cigarette. The flat, almost used up champagne bottle is perfect. A new one would seem contrived. I like it a lot.
I don’t think I even knew gay existed when I was in high school. This was a suburban Chicago, all white, almost everybody goes to college school. I graduated in ’62.
brian stouder said on May 22, 2009 at 2:02 pm
Further apropos of nothing – NND’s joke at the end of the last entry stuck in my brain:
Turns out running two websites is more than 2X the work.
because, of course, GPT has got to equal at least 10EN, where running NN.c can be described as 1EN (where effort = E, and N = NN.c)…so that running nn.c and GPT cannot be reduced to EN + EN (or 2EN), but instead EN + 10EN = 11EN.
By way of saying, I loved this article:
Janet said on May 22, 2009 at 2:15 pm
Way too FUNNY! What a great way to start the holiday weeekend, thanks Nancy. Jeff Borden forwarded this to me today and I laughed out loud when I saw that old photo. Of course it is still on my bookcase and it does make me smile when I catch sight of it.
I shared it with the “youngsters” in my office and I think they now have some new respect for this old lady!
I forwarded your site on to Lynn. I’ve lost touch with Janene
coozledad said on May 22, 2009 at 2:16 pm
A couple of my former girlfriends swore off men altogether immediately after they were through with me. I have to admit it gave me a complex for awhile.
brian stouder said on May 22, 2009 at 2:25 pm
Janet reminds me of (a much prettier!) Tina Louise (aka Ginger on Gilligan’s Island)
Dorothy said on May 22, 2009 at 2:32 pm
Doesn’t Nancy’s picture just look like it should be an old album cover? For you youngsters out there, that would be a RECORD album. Not a photo album.
If we’re supposed to show embarrassing pictures (although no one else has yet), I thought I’d toss out this from the most recent play I just did. You should have no problem identifying me (and those are enhanced boobs I’m wearing, I promise you): http://www.flickr.com/photos/truvy57/3461348800/in/set-72157617106949024/
Less embarrassing is this one I scanned just today. Wish I was still this skinny:
brian stouder said on May 22, 2009 at 2:41 pm
Dorothy – those are GREAT pictures!! The Mr Rogers one is too good; the young folks look like they just won the lottery!! – but the cast picture is suitable for framing! (And I love the gaze of the young-Gregory-Peck-ish male next to you; I can relate!)
brian stouder said on May 22, 2009 at 3:09 pm
So I am told that the ‘BREAKING NEWS’ at this moment is that a commercial airliner made an emergency landing in Pittsburgh (it’s not on the internet, yet) – and that the plane contained Senator Roland Burris, and that he is now a hero, for saving a woman on the plane, somehow…!
So, our Memorial Day weekend begins with a genuine bit of good news, wrapped with a glitzy thriller/selfless heroics narrative for a one-step-ahead-of-the-law senator
Developing…as they say
Dexter said on May 22, 2009 at 3:09 pm
I remember hailing a cab near Union Station in 1981. AIDS was new, and there were many jokes going around about Haitians and other AIDS-related topics, and the cabbie was rattling off one joke after another. It’s just creepy thinking about that now.
Also in 1981, The Stones played Detroit on their tour, the one I call the “Start Me Up” tour.
I had a friend with a button maker and a hot-chick friend. The button was just the big lips logo and “Rolling Stones” printed in tiny letters. He made several hundred and sold them for a buck apiece in the parking lot. The chick attached a little ribbon to a bunch and sold them for $5…then when they were really selling fast she doubled the price and sold them all, 200 of them. They copped a lid and were very happy on the van ride home.
They tried it again in Chicago or somewhere and were busted for no vendors license immediately. End of button career.
I still have a lot of goofy buttons we made up supporting our fave watering holes and some that say stuff like ‘SUPPORT YASSAR ARAFAT’. (In latter years it was spelled Yasir, I know, I know…)
Julie Robinson said on May 22, 2009 at 3:12 pm
Dorothy, you reminded me of the hilarious character Carol Burnett used to play with the sandbag boobs–I think it was a secretary. That was my all-time favoite TV show. It looks like you had a lot of fun with the show.
Deborah, you’d think I’d have caught on when it took over two months for him to kiss me…
My favorite button says “Nixon’s The One”. I think it’s from his first campaign–my folks were rabid R’s.
brian stouder said on May 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm
Julie – one of the funnier bits of political snark I (think I) saw on a button was a pro-LBJ button from 1964. Goldwater’s saying was “In your heart, you know he’s right”, and this button said “In your guts you know he’s nuts”
Julie Robinson said on May 22, 2009 at 3:30 pm
My parents took us to a Goldwater rally, maybe in 1964. My mother worshipped the ground he walked on. And that’s just a small bit of what I’ve had to overcome in my life.
Danny said on May 22, 2009 at 3:39 pm
For some reason, when I look at that picture, the old Moot the Hoople song, All the Young Dudes, starts playing through my mind. Excellent photo. Kind of has the vibe of the Last Supper meets Glam Rockers.
I had to do a double take when I was reading. At first, I thought you were saying that Borden had died and I was thinking that in light of my recent conversations with him on these boards that I had that Shining thing going on.
Off topic, but does anyone here like Alan Parsons Project’s, “I, Robot?” It’s been on my playlist of late and when I listen to the opening instrumental, I can’t help but get a vision of the coming to sentience of the first robot. It occurs when the sequencer rhythm changes from the off-beat to the on-beat at about 2 minutes into the song. It seems like the change of the heartbeat from that of an embryonic robot to that of one that has just been born and become self-ware.
No, I’m not on drugs.
I just get focused on instrumentals like this one and try to divine what the artist is expressing.
LA Mary said on May 22, 2009 at 3:54 pm
I have a button from an NY senatorial race that said “keep Keating” The K is scratched off, so it says, “keep eating.”
Catherine said on May 22, 2009 at 4:39 pm
Julie, I’ll see your Nixon button and raise you an “I LIKE IKE.”
Spelled out in sequins, no less. From my grandmother, who was quite certain that nice Quaker, Mr Hoover, got a bum rap.
jeff borden said on May 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm
Thanks for sharing that great old photo. I have one in a brushed silver frame over my work table in the basement. I know we were getting ready to go out dancing at Crazy Mama’s, which for non-Columbusites or youngsters, in the early 1980’s was the cool, “new wave” bar on North High Street near OSU. I can’t for the life of me understand why you weren’t with us since the rest of your Uppity Arlington crew is in the picture.
I never glance at the photo without thinking of those three men, especially Paul, all dead from AIDS. Thank God so many medical advances have been made since those early, grim days when it was virtually a death sentence. That’s cold comfort to the family members left behind by these guys.
Those were great times at the old Westwood Country Club. And, for the record, I still have a beret, but not that one. They’re great winter hats. And unlike fedoras, you can jam `em into your pocket when you arrive at your destination.
caliban said on May 22, 2009 at 6:17 pm
Johnny Thunders isn’t in that picture. I grew up on Detroit in 1968. You can take Iggy, or you can take MC6. I know who I take and it isn’t Iggy. Iggy was monstrously good, but anybody thinks those guitars were as good tas Sonic Smidhe and Brother Wayne Kramer is kinda lame.I wouldn’t go into anything. You listren to that first overproduced album, ans you listen to MC5.
Look, listen to the songs by Stooges, if you understand guitars, they basically just stole and played every song by mc5. Doan mean dick, actually but at least admit to it.
MarkH said on May 22, 2009 at 7:12 pm
Borden I recognized right away. Even though I didn’t know Jeff personally, aside from Nancy and assorted sportswriters, you were the only Dispatch reporter I knew on sight. Jeff, did you go to OU with Nancy, or do I remember you from the OSU J-school, circa ’72-’75? Seems to me we had experience at The Lantern in common.
That photo is a keeper. I left Columbus for good 28 years ago this month and so many memories are a little blurred, but those people are so eerily familiar. And I agree with Dorothy’s opinion on the album cover application. One could study it for an hour and find all kinds of things.
It’s finally warm here in the Hole, so it’s off to Colter Bay in Grand Teton Park for the weekend, where the ice has fully melted just this week. The lake is full, cold (38 deg.), but with plenty of snow yet to come off the mountains.
Thanks for the reminder, Jason; plenty of vets alive and dead from our family to salute. Have fun at Kennywood, or Renziehausen, or wherever it is you’re going this weekend!
caliban said on May 22, 2009 at 7:29 pm
Bo joke, Nancy. Late sixties, we all thought Iggie was ridiculous. On the other hand, MC6 ruled abd SRC was the best band around. This is the way people thought about things at the time. Iffy was nuts, Scott Richardson was the voice of an angel, MC5 was how you play the guitar. Iggy was kinda too stupid to understand the warwheels.
Kirk said on May 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm
Funny. I occasionally drive by the old Westwood C.C. and, as I did so the other day, I remembered Janet but couldn’t recall her name. So thanks for that.
Some fine times there, including, I believe, a brownie-baking session my wife attended in your place, J.B.
Joe Kobiela said on May 22, 2009 at 10:23 pm
Julie @ #21,
Carol B’s character was named Mrs Ziwiggens.
Think of a vet this weekend.
brian stouder said on May 22, 2009 at 10:42 pm
Say – further to the death of David Herbert Donald, here’s a link to Friend of NN.c Dr Gerald Prokopowicz on Civil War Talk Radio remembering his mentor and colleague; it’s very good stuff
(and then you click on the May 22 episode)
mary said on May 23, 2009 at 7:52 am
They look like a rock band! Ah, the good old days.
jeff borden said on May 23, 2009 at 10:04 am
I was a reporter at the Columbus Dispatch from June 1977 through March 1985. Started on the old night police beat, then was part of what was actually a cutting edge concept when we established suburban bureaus in four Columbus suburbs. The idea was that we would challenge the local weeklies, which often were not much more than extensions of the local Chamber of Commerce. Had my own office, a fine little Nikkormat 35-mm camera and the first portable computer, a Teleram P1800. You recorded your stories on a magnetic cassette, then transmitted it over a modem the side of a large shoebox. Finally wound up as the TV critic for my final five years. I fled Ohio for Charlotte, N.C., then made my way to Chicago.
I met Nancy at the Dispatch. I attended Kent State, so we’re both land grant college grads, but at different ends of the state. When this very weird acid head who lived across the hall from me moved to join E.I. Lilly Co. in Terra Haute, Nancy moved in and the rest is glorious history.
I had no involvement with The Lantern, per se, but as the night cop reporter, I occasionally was on campus for crime coverage. One night I shot all the crime scene photos for the OSU cops because they didn’t know how to operate their camera. It was an Upham Hall patient who had escaped, gotten into Ohio Stadium, climbed to the top and swan dived onto the pavement about 90-feet down. His right leg caught an iron gate on the way down, and was severed mid-thigh. So, there I was, within a few inches of this grue and gore, snapping about five rolls of film.
And people wonder why I’m weird.
Danny said on May 23, 2009 at 10:34 am
Jeff B., a Teleram P-1800? What a schweeeet looking piece of old technology! A 32 lb laptop with all discrete logic. My inner geek salutes you, sir.
Man, it makes my neck and eyes hurt in retroactive sympathy just looking at the position and size of the screen.
Anyone want to play a game of thermo-nuclear war?
del said on May 23, 2009 at 11:04 am
It’s fitting too Danny, “All the Young Dudes . . . carry the news.” Journalism glam.
Danny said on May 23, 2009 at 12:15 pm
No, doubt. Great point, Del.
beb said on May 23, 2009 at 4:58 pm
The reason this picture looks like a record album is because the girl on the left looks a bit like Joan Jett, the one with the bottle like Pat Benatar and the Jeff looks like the dude from Eurythmics.
jeff borden said on May 23, 2009 at 5:48 pm
The Teleram P-1800 was actually a pretty rugged piece of machinery and, man, it weighed a ton. . .at least 40 pounds. The screen was indeed migraine inducing, but it had a full-sized keyboard that folded out when you set it up. By circa-1980, we were moving up to the Teleram Portabubble, which was greatly advanced and had a built-in modem. It had more plastic parts, so it wasn’t so heavy, and it had been designed to fit under an airplane seat or in the overhead bin. The, the Radio Shack TS-80, affectionately the “trash 80,” and so on.
The continuing evolution of computers in terms of miniaturization and memory/power is just mind-boggling. My three-year-old HP Pavilion would be embarrassed in competition with the newer laptops, and they will just as quickly be replaced by something better.
Re: the photo as rock album cover. We loved Joan Jett then and we love her now. And she remains an inspiration to a lot of rockers of the female persuasion. I highly recommend an all-woman group called The Launderettes, who peform a wonderful song called, “What Would Joan Jett Do?” Another all-woman outfit from Norway, Cocktail Slippers, also gives J.J. a lot of props. I was rather hoping someone said I looked like Bryan Ferry, but that super smooth, razor cut cat would never wear a beard. Man, he was so great fronting Roxy Music. I guess Dave Stewart of Eurythmics is just fine.
nancy said on May 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm
Mark probably recognizes Borden because he was our mutual friend Becky’s boss at Smuggler’s Inn on Olentangy River Road, and Smug’s was a popular place to either start or end the evening’s festivities.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 23, 2009 at 10:58 pm
I love Rocky Road, so put another dime in the jukebox, baby . . .
Catherine said on May 24, 2009 at 12:45 am
The anthem of my generation…
Mosef said on May 24, 2009 at 5:53 pm
Most memorable button from My Youth. Friend, now brother-in-law kept it on the visor of his Civic: Know your genitals. I can still see it.
Dorothy said on May 25, 2009 at 6:57 pm
Joe @ 32: The character you are referring to was actually called Mrs. Wiggins to Tim Conway’s Mr. Tudball. He pronounced Mrs. Wiggins’ name as “Mizzus Ah-Wiggins.” But I think the character Julie was thinking of a different character, the name of which escapes me at this moment!
basset said on May 25, 2009 at 9:46 pm
The one on the left, she’s gotta be from the Region. Gotta be, just look at her.