Friday, May 25, 2007

Flashback Friday: Hands Across America

Here's a flashback designed to weed out the true '80s kids! Where were you when we were all holding hands?

It was 21 years ago today that millions of people stood around, clasping paws with strangers (that's where all these crazy staph infections started, I bet), swaying and singing along to a truly awful song, even by benefit-song standards. It was Hands Across America, an offshoot of USA For Africa, staged to raise money for the hungry and homeless.

It seemed like a great idea on paper, but logistically, it just didn't work. The goal was to form a human chain from New York to California, but there were large gaps all across the U.S. According to Wikipedia, there were, in fact, enough people participating "to form an unbroken chain across the country if the path were a straight line. In order to allow the maximum number of people to participate, the path linked major cities and meandered back and forth within the cities."

I was in Pittsburgh during the event, and I can clearly remember seeing the ends of the lines we formed around the old Three Rivers Stadium. I was a bit let down after the whole thing. But at least I can say I was there. And you better believe I have photographic evidence of my participation! This is the part where everyone gets to laugh at my expense. Yay!

Photo 1 offers a great wide shot of my sister and I, along with some of the other folks who bothered to get off of their couches and come out that day. Yeah, you know, unless it's a Steeler rally or a Clarks concert, Pittsburghers aren't really that motivated to stand around outside for any length of time. Especially if they're expected to stay sober.

Photo 2 offers a better look at my fab ensemble, complete with Risky Business shades, and the embarassing steel-wool pouf that was my hair. I only wish that my feet hadn't gotten cut out of this pic so you could all see my old, beloved pink canvas shoes. Of course, you can click on these pics for bigger versions, in which you can vaguely make out the shoes in Photo 1.

One only needs to look at the three girls on the right to realize that I was totally in fashion. We're all wearing a variation of the same color palette and had obviously used quite a bit of Aqua Net, Rave or White Rain hairspray. The funniest part of this picture, for me, isn't me, strangely enough. I found this photo during my last trip home and when I saw it, I thought to myself, Who is that guy I'm holding hands with? It took me about a minute to figure out that it was my brother, Dutch. (No, my parents didn't name him Dutch, but that's his nickname these days.) What's even funnier is that Dutch didn't recognize his former self right off the bat either. Hey, I may cringe when I see old pics of myself, but at least I know who I am!

I was going to post the official video, but can't seem to find the whole thing anywhere. But if you're really jonesin' for some hand-action, you can see part of the original promo here. Man, if I could've stood in line between Crockett and Tubbs, I would've never washed my hands again.


Anonymous said...

Those pics are frikkin hysterical!! I can't believe Toots and "JJ". What a riot... 80's fashion. Gotta Love it!

Angela :)

LoraLoo said...

Yes, love the hair of all the girls in the photos... Man could I use a bottle of hairspray in no time back then.

I remember the event, but of course I didn't get off my ass to participate.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You were completely rocking the look. You did Pittsburgh proud.

The thing that scares me is that my hair often looks like that to this day.

Les Becker said...

I'm loving the boombox. What cassette was playing?

BeckEye said...

Ang - I knew you'd appreciate those. By the way, I changed "JJ" to Dutch...after thinking for a long time of a name to use for him, it just dawned on me that I was overlooking the obvious.

Lora - What was your hairspray of choice?

Barbara - Well, at least you're always ready should an '80s theme party pop up.

Les - Hmm, I hadn't even noticed that. It wasn't my boombox. But I'm sure something totally awesome was playing.

Scott said...

You and your brother sure had some rocking outfits.

deadspot said...

Awwww... You're adorable.

cube said...

Wasn't that around the time of Members Only jackets too? Light blue for me ;-)

Layla (aka Barbara) said...

OH MY GOD! I WAS THERE! I am going to go dig out my t-shirt to prove then do a post on Layla's and link back there. I HAVE OT THOUGHT OF THIS IN YEARS!!! TOO FUNNY!

Writeprocrastinator said...


Nice gams, I'm calling you "legs" from now on.

X. Dell said...

(1) You look pretty in pink. (Though true, I thought you'd appreciate another '80s reference.)

(2) I was in Europe when this happened. I'd been there for awhile, so I didn't even find out about it until a couple of days before the event. When we saw it on the French national news broadcast, my traveling companions said, pretty much at the same time, "WTF?"

Doing it in Pittsburgh had to be quite a challenge--because of the hills, that is, not just the lack of beer.

Metal Mark said...

Those shorts in the 80's were horrid. I found a picture of myself recently from 1987 and I wearing a KISS shirt, short powder blue shorts with bright yellow stripes on the sides and a blue flannel shirt over the KISS shirt. Not that I have any greater fashion sense today though.

Travis said...

I'm embarrassed to say that I couldn't be bothered by this when it happened. It's not that I wasn't socially aware. It's just that I always thought it was such a cheesy and ridiculous thing to do.

But, then I was also young and stupid.

Tootsie said...

Hey Beck, I remember the boombox and it was there because a radio station played the "Hands Across America" song at a certain time and we all had to sing. Oh yes, fun times in the burg. Man...and I used to think I was fat back then!

BeckEye said...

Scott - My sarcasm detector is making a very high-pitched noise.

Deadspot - Thanks!

Cube - I think I had a pink one.

Layla - Cough up those pics, girly.

WP - Gee, thanks. But my legs aren't quite that nice anymore. I have a nasty vein on my right thigh that keeps me in capris and skirts all summer long. No more shorts until I get that sucker zapped.

X Dell - Thank you for the compliment and the extra '80s reference.

Mark - I would LOVE to see a pic of that ensemble!

Travis - It WAS cheesy and ridiculous. That's why I did it!!

Toots - Yeah, we've all gained a few pounds since those days.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't there, either. I remember I wanted to go so bad, but it wasn't happening anywhere near where I lived.

I heard Ricky Schroeder was going to be there, so I wanted to go so I could hold hands with someone who was holding hands with someone who was.... with Ricky Schroeder!!!


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