Lazy Friday: Unfortunate Covers

18 Sep

Don’t judge a book by its cover, eh? Then how am I supposed to know which teen genre hybrid to read? (What are the vampires wearing on this cover? How hot are the zombie cheerleaders? Does the overweight, depressed, homely teen-age girl on the cover even vaguely resemble her backcover description? How are they avoiding showing gay characters?) Screw that adage and all its unhelpful sanctimonious non-judgemental judginess. That’s exactly what we’re gonna do on Fridays here; with the occasional look at end papers, title pages and other crucial pieces of unintentionally funny literature.

Today’s cover is brought to you by the birth of the 1980s. A time when fashion still had its foot in the 1970s, when Neo-Conservatism was just beginning to permeate our culture (notice all of the sitcoms about RICH folks during this time?), and when cover art told its own story in all its overdone, hand-illustrated, sometimes creepy glory. Just stop for a minute and think of your favorite teen novel from this time. I am 99.9% sure you remember the cover. They had staying power, yo. Today’s covers with their sleek and minimal photographs of a rich girl’s Chanel-covered arm (or her friends’ high-heeled feet) and hot pink sans-serif fonts resemble the Sharper Image catalog more in feel than the beloved tomes of our 1980s youth. From Ellen Conford’s girls to Lois Duncan’s creepfests of beauty to even the damn Wakefield Twins, cover art was indeed an art and not just an excuse to look like CosmoGirl. That said, please enjoy THE BUFFALO NICKEL BLUES BAND (who I want to rename the Rainbow Hot Air Balloon Pegasus Roller-Skating Love-Making Afternoon Delight Jimmy Carter Smiley Face Blues Band. Catchy, huh?)

Where are Big Edie and Little Edie in this picture?

Where are Big Edie and Little Edie in this picture?

Judie Angell, whomever she is, wrote a boatload of sometimes angsty-ish, mostly watered-down teen fiction. Friendship and the ability to accomplish because of a group were major themes (soon to be in very sharp contrast with the trickle-down economics, pull yerself up by your bootstraps Reagan era). Here we meet the Buffalo Nickel Blues Band, a diverse bunch of funky teens who just wanna have some fun as friends and play music…in the garden of a well-heeled mental asylum apparently. You know you’ve made it BIG TIME when your fans include two crazy-eyed, sweater-and-tie wearing kids with bad (but wind-swept) hair who manage to look stern while having “fun” (my money’s on them to stalk the band, claiming the Buffalo Nickel gang are sending them private messages in their music, leading to a bloody climax and a few sacrifices of fellow inmates along the way, a la Lois Duncan). You also know you’ve made it big when Grandma shows up in her striped nightgown with a black ribbon tied around her waist standing as if she just came off of a Stevie Nicks video shoot. And you especially know you crazy kids got something special happenin’ when my relatives magically escape from my dad’s bar mitzvah pictures from 1951 to jump into the right side of this cover.  Don’t Aunt Dolly and Uncle Max look so handsome next to that tree?

The band themselves are pretty bland stereotypes we already know. The only one worth noting is the band’s dreamily contemplative, permed piano player. His loosened tie and hankie just scream, “doesn’t get into Juilliard and ends up playing at the Regal Beagle for cheap beers.” I miss real cover art.

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One Response to “Lazy Friday: Unfortunate Covers”

  1. marthalucille September 18, 2009 at 11:15 am #

    Now I’m not an expert, but that’s not a drumming style I’m familiar with. Perhaps there are nails sticking out of the snare drum that we cannot see from our angle.

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