This month -- supposedly the first full month of spring -- is still in its early days, but it has already been witness to a series of newsworthy events and cultural happenings just begging to be reported on and responded to in a lightly critical fashion. But rewind exactly 33 years -- what was going on in April 1985? Specifically, what was going on in April 1985 that was of particular interest to the editors and writers at the New Yorker? April of that year saw five issues of the magazine published, which is a lot given that the publication publishes 47 per year, which is less than one per week. Why 1985, you ask? Because that is where the SVA Library’s New Yorker archive begins. In the first issue of April 1985, one can see that John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club was playing at the now-extinct Gramercy movie theatre. In the week of April 8th of that year, the New Yorker reported in its section “Goings On About Town: A Conscientious Calendar of Events of Interest” that As Is, a “touching play by William M. Hoffman [which] concerns a personable young homosexual who is afflicted with AIDS” is worth seeing, as are several performances by the iconic Martha Graham Dance Company. The April 15th, 1985 New Yorker offers, among other things, an extensive profile of the American artist Jennifer Bartlett. The April 22nd issue features a review of the film Desperately Seeking Susan (starring Madonna), which the reviewer describes as the kind of movie that doesn’t make you wonder who the director is, but rather “who the perpetrator is.” The last issue of the month features a “The Talk of the Town” piece on Ronald Reagan’s then-upcoming trip to Germany, which was controversial in that he wanted to visit a cemetery for Nazi soldiers rather than a concentration camp. Looking through these old issues is interesting not only because of our current political climate -- one, unfortunately, not so very different from that of 33 years ago -- but also because they offer a glimpse into what was considered politically and culturally crucial at the time, as seen from the perspective of a future that knows what ended up sticking.
Apr 12 2018