Back to Stacy for 1980, and it’s turning out to be a big year for her. She’s filling in on rhythm guitar for Autumn’s punk band, The Parkers, when she sees a man she recognizes enter the basement show. It’s almost as if he were drawn in by the sound of her guitar (and that Dead Kennedys T-shirt, in honor of the band’s first full album arriving that month). And suddenly ten years disappear and she’s back on the Arboria Park playground stargazing and talking all night with her soulmate. Now all she has to do is get over her fears of “screwing up” a hot-and-heavy relationship and figure out how to get her mom Evelyn to accept the “Puerto Rican airman” she’s bringing home for dinner. And listen to that bootleg tape he’s made of a Black Flag EP.
It’s obvious both Stacy and Autumn have gotten deeper into punk rock, which is still going strong in 1980. Aside from the burgeoning hardcore of Black Flag, there are EPs galore from new bands like The Weirdos, the Minutemen, and the Angry Samoans. X and the political protest punks Dead Kennedys make their debuts. There are albums from punk stalwarts like the Damned and Stiff Little Fingers, and The Clash come up with the triple-disc Sandinista. The mainstream music charts once again are pretty dull, save for some sparks from Blondie, The Pretenders, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. New wave is making waves, though, and Elvis Costello is brimming over with new material. So it’s a reasonably promising time musically a year before MTV comes along, paralleling the promise of Stacy’s new relationship. But the dawn of the 1980s is also confusing and politically dangerous. As Autumn and her friends plan to film a series of horror movies built around the titles of Ramones songs, they recognize the peril surrounding their everyday lives and the need, especially for women, to fight back. Film director Autumn wants to upend horror film conventions by having her female heroine triumph because “all the guys get killed first.” Though Stacy’s only role in the movie is to “run and scream” as a bystander, she’s doing much more than that in real life, by reclaiming another part of her destiny. And perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Evelyn, on the other hand, is losing control and feeling left out of an increasingly multicultural family and neighborhood. Maybe that feeling leads her, like many Americans, to vote for Ronald Reagan in an attempt to bring back an idealized past, even as her children and grandchildren embrace the present and future, however scary they may seem.