Wasted on the Youth Guest Blog: Lawrence Arabia’s James Milne on Airwolf and Street Hawk | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Wasted on the Youth Guest Blog: Lawrence Arabia’s James Milne on Airwolf and Street Hawk

Sep 13, 2010 Lawrence Arabia Bookmark and Share


(Under the Radar’s Summer 2010 Issue is a special issue named the Wasted on the Youth Issue that features musicians and actors talking about their childhood memories and things they loved when they were kids. We’re also posting web-exclusive essays that were not printed in the issue, including this one by Lawrence Arabia’s James Milne, who grew up in New Zealand.)

On those aimless beautiful ’80s Friday evenings when I wasn’t left under the control of some dreaded babysitter, there was a genre of television show that never failed to stir the nagging martial passions of boyhood. Playing at the dangerous and exciting hour of 9:30 p.m., and coming with warnings of violence and requirements of parental guidance, this genre was the Man-Alone-Against-Formidable-Forces-of-Evil-Aided-Only-By-Unimaginably-Cool-Piece-of-Technology-(or-Remarkable-Skills-In-the-Employment-of-Regular-Household-Goods-to-Defeat-Aforementioned-Formidable-Forces)-Action-Show.

Even though New Zealand was always about 18 months behind in getting television shows from the States, I was still too young to really get to enjoy Knight Rider, its dynamic plotting, shiny black metal ultra-violence and Hasselhoffian eroticism deemed by my parents just too damn hot for the recent kindergarten graduate. By the time the show’s descendants Street Hawk and Airwolf had made it to New Zealand screens, however, the boy James Milne was ready to watch some improbably outnumbered outsider-yet-alpha-male characters dealing out kick-ass justice to drug cartels, communists and evil corporations synthesizing super-bugs, and getting the hot chick with the perm.

Surrounded by the alluring threat of global nuclear war, enticing reports of the mysterious CIA, threatening juntas and rogue Gaddafis necessitating violent confrontations with awesome commandos in exotic locations, I looked at these extreme geopolitical circumstances as source material for most of my playground and backyard fantasies. As we grew up, my friends and I enacted increasingly elaborate and militaristic play scenarios. The risky and eminently adult seeming adventures portrayed in Airwolf and Street Hawk fed into this innocuously war-obsessed childhood, creating a feedback loop of escapist, hawkish awesomeness.

I remember lying on the carpet in summer pyjamas—a loose set of shirt and shorts in cool matching cotton, the excitement of the title sequences and all of the special-treatness that it heralded—the parental concession that had been made in order to allow a late bedtime to fit the watching of this explosive and radical broadcast. This was pre-VHS too, mind, or at least pre- our purchase of one. (We were always late adopters—VHS in1988, Compact Disc in 1991). The lack of recording facilities thus forced this scenario of violent, adventurous television, juxtaposed with the grown-up feeling of staying up late. It was the best hour of the week.

The show I remember the best was Airwolf, which replaced my beloved Street Hawk, initially to my great chagrin. However, the supreme powers of the solitary Stringfellow Hawke’s amazing black helicopter soon won me over. I’ve found some specifications on the website http://www.denofgeek.com[Link: “www.denofgeek.com” to ]http://www.denofgeek.com] which still get me pretty excited reading them even now:

Weaponry:

Thirty mm cannon (x2)

50 BMG Chain gun (x4) firing up to 40 rounds per sec

AGM Bullpup missiles (x2)

AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles (x12)

Aim-95 Agile missiles (x4)

AGM-45 Shrike missiles

M712 Copperhead shells

FIM-43 Redeye missiles

AGM-65 Maverick missiles

M-114 Hellfire missiles.

Special features:

Acrobatics

Hidden weapons

Turbo thrusters giving a top speed of Mach 2

Mid-air refuelling probe

Sunburst anti-missile flares (x10)

Bullet-proof armoured fuselage, etc. etc. etc.

Really, a phallic symbol like no other, if you get into comparing things to phallic symbols. Multiple phalluses connected to one big flying titanium scrotum, careening through the Cold War sky spurting fiery radioactive semen all over Russians or whatever infidel dared to fuck with the unimpeachable might of the Wolf.

With troops coming home daily in flag-draped coffins from unpopular, seemingly futile wars, it now seems a misty memory of that more innocent time when we could just lay on the carpet, celebrating the awesome might of U.S. military firepower against unmistakeable bad guys, or the unabashed virility of vigilante justice delivered on the back of a super-sweet black motorbike, the infinite and wonderful possibilities of long-distant manhood gleaming in the distance.

(James Milne is the lead-vocalist/multi-instrumentalist behind Lawrence Arabia. His new album, Chant Darling, was released earlier this year on Bella Union. Airwolf aired for four seasons from 1984 to 1987, was about a high-tech military helicopter, and starred Jan-Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine. Street Hawk was about a high-tech motorcycle and it only lasted one 13-episode season in 1985 before being cancelled due to low ratings. Street Hawk’s theme tune was by Tangerine Dream.)

(www.myspace.com/lawrencearabia)



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