New Releases in New Zealand 16 April 1989
Taylor Dayne – Don’t Rush Me
This is partly a story about pants. If you are reading this in England then it is a story about trousers and it is not a story about pants.
This is a photo of him with most of his cousins at their Gran’s 80th birthday party just outside Mosgiel in 1989.
He is wearing light blue jeans and smiling in the front row. Next to him is Mr Stone-Washed Jeans and completing the front row – with fantastic cheek bones – is Mr Acid-Washed Jeans. The wash of your jean was very important for a time. He also had some stone-washed black jeans but the light blue were his “dress” jeans for special occasions.
He was in Japan when his Gran turned 90 and this photo might represent the last time the whole family was together.
His Gran was not someone who wanted people to make a fuss. He can’t remember what trickery was involved in getting her to the event of her own birthday, but he remembers that there was some. He also remembers that the birthday went well although he was uncomfortable most of the time and it wasn’t just his silly leather shoes; it was the not quite fitting in with his cousins like he didn’t quite fit in with most people.
But let’s not entirely discount the shoes.
His shoes had leather laces and the strips of leather across the whole shoe were thinner than the ones in the picture above. He imagined Don Johnson might wear this kind of shoe. He imagined that you should not wear socks, that your trousers should be rolled up above the ankle, and that you should have a white jacket and a cocktail when you wore those shoes. Of course it was too cold to wear them without socks in New Zealand so he wore them with white sports socks; white sports socks that poked between the little leather straps. Sometimes one of his little toes would poke through the side straps too like a sheep stuck in a paddock fence. The white sports socks got dirty if he stood in a puddle for the shoe was really equal amounts hole as it was leather. He wore those shoes everywhere. Sometimes he even wore them when he played rugby on the back field at lunchtime at school.
Don would never have done that.
Tell It To My Heart was the single he remembered by Taylor Dayne, not Don’t Rush Me or anything else she did. He also remembered the two dancers with ripped jeans over Lycra. He was fascinated by how cool this looked, but when he considered ripping his own jeans a number of complicated calculations entered the equation. For example, although he owned jeans it was his mum who had bought them for him and he wondered how his mother would react if he sauntered down from his room one morning with his jeans slashed to billy-o. He suspected that the reaction would not be favourable. Secondly, wasn’t it a bit stupid to cut up your jeans? Although they looked cool he could also tell that they looked daft from another angle, and also quite pretentious. Wrecking your jeans in some kind of tough way would be different. That would be wearing your jeans as an emblem of your working class/biker authenticity (or as a result of your carpet-laying job). Taking perfectly good jeans and deliberately wrecking them was just being a dick. Also, potentially cold.
Then there was the fact of not being a hyper-skinny dancer with Lycra leggings, black fingerless gloves and an ass that wouldn’t quit. Even in his youth a part of his brain could be called on to resist really stupid ideas about 50% of the time. That part of his brain thought he would look less like the sexy back up dancers and more like a pasty white kid with a bush of hair, plastic glasses and a pair of jeans that served only to expose hairy, freckled thigh.
He was always a bit torn fashion-wise between (a) slashed jeans and an Iron Maiden t-shirt, and (b) Don Johnson. The urge to dress tough peaked in the early 90s but was side swiped in the mid 90s by going bald, and obliterated entirely by moving to Japan.
The urge to be Don and drink wine cooler was strong in him early though, and baldness and Japan is not entirely to blame for how he dresses now. Look at him (and Don) all dressed up in 1989:
Don is the one in the ocean.
There are three things to note in his dress look in 1989:
1. The shirt was a JAG shirt. JAG sold menswear that was a bit edgy and different. He remembers going into their shop in the old D.I.C. and getting kitted out by his mum. This was the least edgy of the items he got which included a lovely apricot dress t-shirt with stripes and buttons.
2. His dress pants had sweet pleats.
3. Boat shoes. Or, as they are often known: fucking boat shoes. Boat shoes became popular because of yuppies and the kind of leisure wear they wore on their imaginary weekend boating exploits.
The other thing he notices about the photo of all the cousins is the girl who isn’t there.
She is standing in the back row; just behind the girl on the far right. Because she is standing behind everyone else, because she is in the shadow, and because of the expression on her face it is like she is a ghost – easily missed.
He did not know her well although her brother was the cousin he got on with best growing up. While he was feeling out of joint – not sure how to socialise with cousins he didn’t know well – what was she thinking: that girl in the back row? He never knew or thought to ask: self-absorbed, conscious of his shoes, or how to make chit chat, or on liking the right music and not noticing her.
The first of us to leave.
This is what life is like. At all times all things are happening. Mostly trivial and including anxiety, humour, the sun on your face, the sadness in the shadows.
Afterword: New Releases in New Zealand 16 April 1989
- Tim Finn – How’m I Gonna Sleep?
- Jason Donovan – Too Many Broken Hearts
- Taylor Dayne – Don’t Rush Me