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Hangin’ Tough
by Kari Larson , Michelle Magoffin , Malia Cole | Feb 20, 2008

CSP asks: An explosive new rumor (fueled by the re-launch of their website) about a possible reunion of the New Kids on the Block (presumably accompanied by a tour) has grabbed the attention of the media these past couple of weeks. How does the idea of a reunited NKOTB make you feel?

Kari:

How does this make me feel?

In the year where we've seen both Rocky and Rambo come back, where we're currently awaiting the next installment of Indiana Jones, where the Spice Girls are back on tour... am I surprised that a once-famous singing group (the term "band" implies they play instruments) is attempting a comeback?

Maybe it's what this country has needed all along! This will be the force that unites us, not divides us!

Truth be told, I don't think I ever owned one of their tapes (you know, those contraptions after vinyl but before CDs). But I do remember dancing at my 8th grade graduation party with a boy I completely adored whilst the song "I'll Be Loving You Forever" was playing ... and, because of that adoration, there exists a mixed tape in my possession that contains that song, recorded from Minot's own K-Hit 97.

I don't consider myself to be a music snob in any way. I completely geek out when "Mr. Roboto" comes on (Kilroy! Kilroy!), and when Rick Springfield's familiar riffs begin (thinking specifically of "Jesse's Girl") I become a ridiculous, squealing nine-year-old all over again.

Does that mean I want to see Rick Springfield in concert, his face pulled taut and his material exactly the same as it was in 1984? Shudder.

I know that for some people, seeing NKOTB was akin to our parents' generation seeing the Beatles; weeping, screaming preteens, begging for just a glimpse of Jordan's enhanced hair.

All it really does for me is to think that there are not four, but five horsemen of the apocalypse. And they dance in unison as they bring about the end of times.

Michelle:

I will be the first in line at the ticket counter. (Dear God, I'm old. How do you buy concert tickets these days?) I will buy a fresh can of Aqua Net. I will contort my bangs to heights not seen since the late '80s. I will scream my voice hoarse until Donnie Wahlberg finally, after decades of ignoring my adoration, notices me and makes me his wife.

Or...

I will secretly buy all of their songs on iTunes and not tell my husband that I contemplated leaving him and the baby for a New Kid on the Block.

Malia:

When I heard the unbelievable news (unbelievable for many reasons) that NKOTB would be making a dramatic return to pop music, I thought of three things: my Debbie Gibson-style hat (which I must find), Cindy Anderson and John Denver.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a boy-band fan. I prefer my feminist MTV queens (Cyndi Lauper, anyone?). But, what 7th grade girl could ignore the charm and talent (OK, questionable, but they could dance) of our beloved NKOTB? I tore all the pictures I could find of Donnie out of my Tiger Beat and carefully framed them on the inside lid of my cassette tape carrier. And, when Cindy Anderson invited me to join her at the concert for her birthday, I was beside myself.

I didn't know Cindy that well, but I was nice to everyone and figured that my good deeds were finally paying off. Cindy had a brief moment of fame in 6th grade: a tornado tore her whole house off of the ground. For weeks, we all walked down the block to stare from the sidewalk into her basement. I soon discovered that Cindy had invited ten girls and we were going to ride in a limo to the concert -- shut-up! A week before the concert, my mom, over-bearing as always, called Cindy's to make certain we would have "appropriate supervision." Evidently, the party was a surprise to Cindy's mother as well. Cindy didn't come to school for two days. We all bitched about what a liar she was, that if we'd known we would have just bought our own damned tickets (with what, our Barbie money?). We completely ignored her on her birthday. In fact, I think, maybe, I never talked to her again. About ten years ago she threw herself off of a parking ramp in Chicago.

A year after the aborted birthday party, NKOTB were making a return visit and, even better, would be performing at the Minnesota State Fair. I cut a deal with my mom: I would go to see John Denver (gag me) with her, if she would take me to see my boys. I remember sitting way back in the bleachers with my sister, screaming our brains out while doing the Hanging Tough dance (although my sister preferred Johnny Page, the opening act). I remember more about the John Denver show, which I hold up as proof that, even then, I was smarter than I looked.

So, why dig out the Debbie hat and e-scream about NKOTB returning? I was a huge dork in junior high: violin carrying, Sally Jesse glasses wearing, pyramid perm hair dork. I read books when I walked down the hallway and loved Broadway tunes. NKOTB were my boyfriends, they were my connection to even the coolest girls, and they were just damn fun. Today, I remain a huge dork, but with the added stress of being an adult. The idea of reuniting with my coolest girls for one hell of a fun night makes me grin.

So, I'm going to practice my dance moves. And, since I am now that adult, I can take comfort in knowing that, even if the boys suck, there is always tequila.