One time in about 1982 I was standing in the beach in San Diego and some frat guys yelled "fucking punk rocker!' at me in a very hostile tone of voice. Why? Because, I kid you not, my bikini was red and black. Today it's hard to believe a mere color scheme could signal so much to people, but so it was, and I trace this back to Elvis Costello and the cover of My Aim Is True.
Wow, we loved that record when it came out, and some how his attitude on it — anger, disgust, bemusement, hostility — was perfectly matched by that image. I, for one, immediately tried to emulate it, buying red pin heel pumps (because the angels wanna and so on) and searching forever to find skinny black jeans, which were not readily available in California at that time and there was no Amazon or anything like that to get them from the East Village.
I saw Elvis for the first time when I was still in High School at Zellerbach Auditorium and I can't even capture how different and compelling he seemed, it was like he'd dropped out of the clear blue sky like an alien. From that moment on, he said and sang everything I ever felt about Reagan's America, from which I was truly alienated – hence, the red and black bathing costume on the pink and blue beach in La Jolla, and so on. Elvis released two albums in nothing flat right after that and one of the first things I ever published was a review of Imperial Bedroom, about which I felt qualified to speak even though I totally wasn't. I don't really listen to his music much anymore but thank you Elvis, for that huge lift back in the day!