September 21, 1982: I Got the Shaft

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(Pictured: Frank Zappa sits for a portrait, 1982.)

September 21, 1982, was a Tuesday. It is the first observance of World Peace Day. Following last night’s NFL game (a 27-19 Green Bay Packers win over the New York Giants), players go on strike. The impasse will last 57 days before games resume in November. In San Francisco, the iconic cable car system closes for a renovation project. The project will be completed in June 1984. In Lebanon, Amin Gemayel is elected president, succeeding his brother Bashir, who was elected last month but was assassinated before he could take office. Reagan has announced that in response to the ongoing crisis in Lebanon, U.S. Marines will be sent back to Beirut as peacekeepers. Today, Reagan meets with American negotiators about to depart for arms reduction talks in Geneva and Vienna, and he appoints six members to the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, including actors Cary Grant and Dina Merrill. He also speaks at a fundraising luncheon for Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Emery of Maine.

Fifteen games are played in the majors, including two doubleheaders in New York, where the Yankees split with Cleveland and the Mets split with Montreal. Attendance for the latter is announced at 2,251. At the end of the day’s action, the California Angels lead the American League West by two games over Kansas City; the Milwaukee Brewers lead the AL East by two over Baltimore. Division leaders in the National League are Los Angeles in the West and St. Louis in the East. The Cardinals lose to the Phillies tonight 5-2 as Phillies ace Steve Carlton wins his 21st game.

Frank and Moon Zappa appear on Good Morning America to discuss the “Valley Girl” phenomenon. Cartoon Express premieres on USA Network. It’s a daily late-afternoon block of Hanna-Barbera reruns, and will air in various forms until 1996. The network TV lineups tonight are almost entirely reruns: ABC airs Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Three’s Company, Too Close for Comfort, and Hart to Hart; CBS shows The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie and the theatrical movie Hero at Large, starring John Ritter. On NBC, a two-hour episode of Father Murphy, starring Merlin Olsen, is followed by a news special called The Man Who Shot the Pope, about the 1981 attack on John Paul II and its possible terrorist connections. Later on NBC, Johnny Carson welcomes actor Richard Harris and comedian Charlie Callas. Callas fails to get many laughs, so Carson whistles a “bomb” sound, and in response, Callas gives him a shove that’s intended to be playful. Johnny doesn’t take it that way, and tells Callas on the air that he will never be invited back on the show. And he won’t be.

The Grateful Dead play Madison Square Garden, Van Halen plays Oklahoma City, Rush plays Salt Lake City, the Go Gos play Lakeland, Florida, and Judas Priest plays Chicago. The Harvard Crimson publishes a review of Elvis Costello’s latest album, Imperial Bedroom. In the Los Angeles Times, critic Robert Hilburn takes a nostalgic look back at the Whisky A Go-Go; the legendary nightspot closed on Sunday night. In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown has a question for Linus.

At WBEN in Buffalo, the top four songs on the station’s survey are unchanged from the previous week: “Jack and Diane” by John Cougar, “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” by Melissa Manchester, “Jump to It” by Aretha Franklin, and “I Keep Forgettin'” by Michael McDonald. “Love Come Down” by Evelyn “Champagne” King debuts at #5. The only other song new in the Top 10 is “Somebody’s Baby” by Jackson Browne. “Heart Attack” by Olivia Newton-John and “Heartlight” by Neil Diamond are both up 14 spots for the week, sitting at #11 and #12. Halfway across the country at KDTH in Dubuque, Iowa, the afternoon jock is not playing any of these. His show is more likely to feature the nation’s current #1 country hit, “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)” by Jerry Reed.

(Note from the proprietor: e-mail subscribers to this blog and followers on Twitter and Tumblr received an early draft of this post yesterday in error. Should you happen to walk under my office window, please be aware that hot garbage in the form of my new laptop may come flying out of the window at any moment.)

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3 thoughts on “September 21, 1982: I Got the Shaft

  1. Ever since Zappa died, I have periodically looked at current affairs and thought, “I bet Frank Zappa would tell serious truth about this. Wonder what he would have said?”

    That being said, I bet he would have retired from comment and switched entirely to classical composition … just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Current life is beyond even my capacity to comment on its absurdity. If you need me I’ll be in my basement, programming a synthesized harpsichord to play 2,356th-notes.”

    Like

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