Monday, February 19, 2007

I don't know how many of you will remember this, but back in the 80s, in magazines like Teen Beat, there was always a page of ads with people listing their favorite bands and such looking for pen pals. (Yes, pen pals. Where you actually had to HAND WRITE a letter and put it in the mail and wait for a reply weeks later). I noticed one day that a girl had posted who was from Australia. I thought it would be cool to have a pen pal in Australia, which I loved, so I sent her a note. She responded to say she had received such a huge response that she couldn't possibly write to everyone, but suggested I post my own ad in Australia's version of Teen Beat, which I actually did. Apparently, they published it, because a couple of months later, I started to receive letter upon letter from Down Under.

I was 17-years-old and had nothing better to do, so I wrote back to everyone I could. I started up a correspondence with quite a few Aussies from all over that country. Little by little, as the months and years passed, they dropped off one by one, until by my early 20s, I had only one pen pal left in Australia. His name was Jim and he lived in Melbourne, and other than having a fascination with each other's countries, we really didn't have that much in common. But we wrote back and forth religiously about what music we were listening to (me: rock; him: dance), argued about why Madonna did or didn't suck, talked about school and movies and all the things young people talk about, and became pretty good friends.

Amazingly, Jim and I have managed to keep in touch over the years. (It's been sort of easy, since Jim's address has never changed). With the advent of the internet, it's gotten easier. We exchange e-mails regularly, chat online when the planets align and we're both on at the same time, and every year, I get a birthday card in the mail from my old friend, Jim. It's been nearly 20 years since we exchanged those first letters, and finally, I'm going to Australia this summer and we'll be able to meet face to face. Jim is giddy with excitement. He can't believe we're finally going to meet. And though I keep waffling on whether or not I'll actually be able to go due to many complicated circumstances, every time I chat with him and hear how excited he is, I tell myself that one way or the other, even if I can't do the tour around Oz that I want to do, at the very least, I must make it to Melbourne. Finally.

In honor of Australia, the song for the day is "Don't Change" by INXS off their 1982 release Shabooh Shoobah. Sure, I liked INXS later in the decade when they got popular and had a lot of hits, but I REALLY liked them early on when they had a much more distinct sound. This is one of my favorite songs from the 80s and it's still on heavy rotation on my iPod. I've had friends who have seen them with their new lead singer who have been very impressed by him. I'm sure it's an enjoyable show. But I wish I had taken the time to see them perform back in the day when Michael Hutchence was still around. Here's the video for your entertainment:


Blogger M-M-M-Mishy said...

First: Cool story. It's pretty damn amazing that you and Jim kept in touch all these years. Plus, Australia is a country I am dying to get to.

Second: Don't Change is a great INXS song.

Very cool post. Teen Beat is still in publication you know. Not that I really know, but every once and aawhile, I catch myself looking at a cute picture of Johnny Depp on the cover.

12:30 PM  
Blogger LA said...

Edit - That story made my day, it's delightful. I really hope you'll be able to overcome the complications and take your trip to Oz.

As for INXS, I saw them several times, and they rocked. Michael Hutchence had amazing charisma, and I was really pretty disgusted when INXS did Rockstar a couple years ago. I thought it was a total diss to the ghost of MH.

I was big on the Teen Beat and Tiger Beat circuit. My favorites were the DeFranco family. I googled them recently, and found that Tony maintains a DeFranco family website and is selling real estate in Westlake Village. He's still hot, too.

Great post today!

12:35 PM  
Blogger Kings Fan said...

Having a younger sister during the heyday of Teen Beat, I did get a chance to see some of the publication every now and then. I was fascinated that kids were as into their actors and musicians as they were - plus my sister was a huge DeFraco fan and she listed to their records in her room all the time. That was a really cool story and I hope you do get the chance to meet Jim in person.

As for INXS - they are one of my favorite bands of all time and very underrated. I loved the sound of Michael Hutchence and was apprehensive when the Rock Star show came out. But, because the remainder of the band stayed intact, I was more inclined to see them in concert, which I did. The though JD Fortune did a very good job in concert and "Don't Change" was their closing song each of the three times I saw them last year. You can never go wrong with an INXS song.

1:55 PM  
Blogger dnetrunner said...

Wow, I didn't realize you still had your Aussie penpal; that's so cool! I have loved reading your blog...well done, it's great!

My twin was totally into Tiger Beat (She loved shaun Cassidy). I was more the Mad Magazine type.

I totally forgot about this song. It still sounds good :)

I discovered Wacky Packs the other day, and I couldn't resist picking up some for my kids (and one for me too :)It was so fun laughing with them over those stickers. Bonus, we even got 2 magnets! OK, so I'm easily amused. I enjoyed sharing that memory with them...even the brittle pink piece of gum :)

8:14 PM  
Blogger Kelly J. Compeau said...

How wonderful to hear that you've maintained that pen-pal friendship for so long and are about to meet for the first time. Great story, editthis! I really hope you two hit it off.

I had a pen-pal from England in grade 5, as part of a cultural exchange program at my school. One letter. That's all I ever got. Nowadays, with the internet, I talk on a regular basis with hundreds of people around the world.



10:21 AM  
Anonymous Eejay said...

Enjoyed your penpal story very much! I live in Toronto and have kept in mail (now email) touch with a few people for over 30 years, although I've probably only seen them two or three times during those 30 years. But they were people I already knew - that makes this story of yours so remarkable, because you have never met face-to-face. Please go to OZ! You will never, ever regret it!

As for INXS, I was not a fan, simply because I was so tied up in business in the 80's and 90's that I didn't make time for fun. But Rock Star:INXS changed things for me. My daughter is an avid INXS fan, and she urged me to watch the show and vote for JD Fortune. As soon as I did, I realized this was an extraordinarily talented young man, whom the fates seemed to have destined for integration into the INXS family.

I got the INXS cd's, and started to study the music, falling in love with the beat, the sound, the lyrics, and the band members. JD Fortune fits right in with INXS. I saw them play their first Canadian gig as a band November 0f 2005, in a very closed private session, and was so impressed with all of them, that I attended several concerts over the year, and would certainly attend more when they are available.

I am a member of an INXS fansite, (Our Band
and enjoy it tremendously! Lots of material in there, especially pics and videos, etc. Come and browse through anytime!

11:22 AM  

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