November 27, 1977: Heavy Snow

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(Pictured: Linda Ronstadt. As if you needed me to tell you.)

November 27, 1977, was a Sunday. Voters in the African country of Upper Volta approve a new constitution. In the Upper Midwest, heavy snow falls. In Green Bay, weather forecasters predict six inches will fall during the Packers’ game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings win 13-6. Elsewhere in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons beat Tampa Bay 17-0; it’s the 25th straight loss for the Buccaneers, who have yet to win a regular-season game since joining the NFL the previous season. Canada’s football championship, the Grey Cup game, is played in Montreal; after a Friday snowstorm, groundskeepers put salt on the Olympic Stadium turf to melt it, but plunging temperatures on the weekend turned the field to a sheet of ice. Despite the conditions, Montreal defeats Edmonton 41-6. Future NFL player Adam Archuleta is born. In the Sunday Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown asks Lucy for a great truth.

On TV tonight, CBS presents the theatrical movie Three Days of the Condor. NBC has a musical adaptation of The Hobbit, A Doonesbury Special, and highlights of the Miss World pageant. A Doonesbury Special will be nominated for an Academy Award and win a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. ABC has The Six Million Dollar Man and a special titled Oscar Presents the War Movies and John Wayne. In England, TV viewers are still talking about what happened the night before, when the evening newscast on a regional channel was interrupted by a message from “Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command,” which advises humanity of “the course you must take to avoid the disaster which threatens your world, and the beings on our worlds around you.” The source of the broadcast will never be identified, although it will be reported that Ashtar’s origins were in an American UFO cult that first appeared during the 1940s.

The top movie at the box office is Star Wars, which has been the weekly champ since late June. Rush continues its A Farewell to Kings tour in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Jerry Garcia Band plays the Palladium in New York City. The Talking Heads play Nashville and KISS plays Kansas City. The Spinners and Dorothy Moore wrap up a weeklong stand at Mill Run Theater in suburban Chicago. At WLS, “Boogie Nights” by Heatwave takes over the #1 spot from Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” which had held the top spot for seven weeks and is now #2. Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” is at #3. “Come Sail Away” by Styx makes a strong move from #11 to #4; also making a big leap is the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love,” moving from #21 to #10. Other big movers include Linda Ronstadt’s “Blue Bayou” and “Isn’t It Time” by the Babys. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is the #1 album in Chicago for the 25th week.

Perspective From the Present: This day was the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. My family alternated Thanksgivings between sets of grandparents. We’d have dinner with one on Thanksgiving Day and the other on Sunday, and then switch it up the next year. I don’t remember where we went in 1977. Dinner with my mother’s family was a big, noisy event—there were 17 of us if all the cousins showed up, and by 1977 some of the cousins were bringing significant others. Dinner with my father’s family was much quieter; he was an only child, so there was just the five of us plus Grandpa and Grandma. I don’t remember preferring one dinner or the other back then. Today, with all four of my grandparents long gone, I’d be happy to have one more dinner with either set.


November 22, 1963: Can I Get a Witness

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On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I wrote a post at The Hits Just Keep on Comin’ about what I found in the morning paper on that day, which was just another ordinary day until noontime. This post is based on that one.

November 22, 1963, was a Friday. The weather forecast for Madison, Wisconsin, is for mild weather, occasional rain, and possible thundershowers, with a high around 60. The Wisconsin legislature adjourned last night, although the governor is rumored to be considering a special session to address a controversial highway bill. A state representative is embroiled in scandal over a shady stock transaction. U2 pilot Joe Hyde of LaGrange, Georgia, is missing after wreckage of his plane was found in the Gulf of Mexico, presumably having crashed on a reconnaissance flight over Cuba. President Kennedy and his wife are in Texas. Newspapers report the catcalls he received at some stops, and his wife’s popularity.

Dave Fronek will start at quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers in their season-ending game against Minnesota tomorrow, and injured quarterback Bart Starr could play for the Packers on Sunday against San Francisco. The high school basketball season is set to begin tonight. The Badger Drive-In theater in Madison is still open despite the lateness of the season and has a quadruple feature tonight: Juvenile Jungle, Young and Wild, Unwed Mothers, and The Wayward Girl. Friday-night diners can enjoy lobster for $2 at Namio’s and the Tiki or pay just $1.75 at Nate’s Place. Those staying in tonight can look forward to episodes of Bob Hope Chrysler Theater, Burke’s Law and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on TV. At 7:00, Madison radio station WISM-FM (at 98.1) will present The Stereo Demonstration Hour.

On the new Billboard Hot 100 coming out tomorrow, “I’m Leaving It Up to You” by Dale and Grace is the new #1, knocking “Deep Purple” by Nino Tempo and April Stevens to #3. “Washington Square” by the Village Stompers is up to #2 from #4; “Sugar Shack” by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs is down to #4 from #2. The only new song among the Top 10 is “Dominique” by the Singing Nun, up to #9 from #19. Six songs are new among the Top 40, including “Be True to Your School” by the Beach Boys and “Since I Fell for You” by Lenny Welch, which blast to #19 and #20 respectively. Also new in the Top 40: Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get a Witness,” the followup to his first Top 10 hit, “Pride and Joy,” at #33. Just outside the Top 40: “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen at #41.

Perspective From the Present: Practically nothing happened that weekend as people expected it might on Friday morning, with one exception: controversially, the NFL played its games as scheduled on Sunday; the Packers won 28-10 in front of 45,000 fans in Milwaukee. Badger fans were en route to Minnesota by train and the players by plane when news of the assassination broke on Friday; although University of Minnesota officials initially wanted to play, the game would eventually be postponed to the next Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Basketball games were canceled; stores, theaters, and restaurants closed; TV stations carried assassination coverage, and radio stations either reported the news or played somber music. On Friday night, Madison was drenched by cold rain.

At breakfast, Madison had been expecting another ordinary autumn weekend. By shortly after lunchtime, the world was transformed. I quote again the single best thing ever written about the assassination, from essayist Lance Morrow, written for Time magazine on the 20th anniversary: “The real 1960s began on the afternoon of November 22, 1963 . . . . It came to seem that Kennedy’s murder opened some malign trap door in American culture, and the wild bats flapped out.”

November 19, 1985: Star Stealer

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(Pictured: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev relax by the fire in Geneva on November 19, 1985.)

November 19, 1985, is a Tuesday. Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev are in Geneva, where they will hold their first summit meeting starting today. Other headlines in the morning papers: U.S. Navy intelligence agent Jonathan Pollard was arrested yesterday for passing classified material to Israel, and in the Monday night football game, the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 23-21, but lost their quarterback, Joe Theismann, to a gruesomely broken leg suffered when he was tackled by Lawrence Taylor of the Giants. The injury will end the quarterback’s career. Also announced yesterday, winners of the Cy Young Award for best major league pitchers: Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets and Brett Saberhagen of the Kansas City Royals. On the comics page in 35 newspapers across the country today, readers return to a new strip that debuted yesterday: Calvin and Hobbes. Lincoln Perry, better known as Stepin Fetchit, dies at age 83, and future Pittsburgh Steeler Patrick Bailey is born.

Top movie at the box office last weekend: the vampire comedy Once Bitten, starring Lauren Hutton and an unknown named Jim Carrey in his first starring role. The weekend’s other major new release, the animated Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, came in at #10 for the weekend. Other top movies include the thrillers Jagged Edge and Target, Death Wish 3, and Back to the Future, still among the nation’s box-office Top 10 after being in theaters since the Fourth of July. TV shows on the air tonight include the detective series Riptide starring Joe Penny and Perry King, The A-Team, Growing Pains, and Moonlighting. The play I’m Not Rappaport opens on Broadway. AC/DC plays Washington, DC, and Dire Straits plays Stuttgart, West Germany. The Charlie Watts band continues a six-night stand at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. At the China Club in New York City, a birthday party for rock drummer Steve Ferrone turns into a superstar jam when David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Steve Winwood join Ferrone on stage. Seeing that the band needs a guitarist, Bowie makes a phone call, and 20 minutes later, Rolling Stone Ron Wood shows up to play. In Macomb, Illinois, a local radio announcer and his wife are packing to move from a one-bedroom basement apartment to a big house they’re renting.

Albums released this week include Radio by LL Cool J and Rock a Little by Stevie Nicks. The lead single from Rock a Little, “Talk to Me,” is the highest-debuting single on the latest Cash Box chart, at #48. The hottest record on the chart is “Say You Say Me” by Lionel Richie, moving from #39 to #32 in its second week on; nearly as hot is #60, “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne and Friends (Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John, who sounds in bad need of throat surgery). At the top of the chart, “We Built This City” by Starship jumps from #5 to #1, knocking “Miami Vice Theme” by Jan Hammer to #2. The video for “We Built This City” is a strange one, failing to use the images the song provides (most notably the radio reference in the middle), opting instead for shots of people staring. In years to come, the song will top a couple of lists of the worst records ever made.

November 15, 1995: A Good Idea at the Time

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(Pictured: Monica Lewinsky dodges the paparazzi, 1996.)

November 15, 1995, was a Wednesday. Today is the first full day of a federal government shutdown, necessitated after President Clinton vetoed a Republican spending bill. About 800,000 federal workers are affected. A temporary spending bill will resolve the impasse on November 19, but the dispute between Clinton and House Republicans, led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, will flare up again next month and result in a further shutdown that lasts through the holidays. In Lynnville, Tennessee, a town of about 300 people in the central part of the state 35 miles from the Georgia border, a 17-year-old student at Richland High School kills two people and wounds another with a high-powered rifle. The space shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian Mir space station. It’s the second shuttle mission to Mir, although no crew members are exchanged this time; the purpose of the link-up is to deliver equipment to Mir. Among the Atlantis crew members is Canadian Chris Hadfield, making his first flight into space. It’s been announced that Princess Diana will discuss her life, including her relationship with estranged husband Prince Charles, in a TV interview to be broadcast in Britain on Monday night. At the White House tonight, an informal birthday party is held for an assistant to the Chief of Staff. At the party, an intern named Monica Lewinsky flirts with the president by showing him the straps of the thong she is wearing. Later that night, he invites her into a study adjacent to the Oval Office, where they have a sexual encounter.

There is no winner in tonight’s Powerball drawing. The estimated jackpot for the next drawing on Saturday is $44 million. Ten games are played in the NBA tonight. The Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 137-127 in triple overtime; the Chicago Bulls run their record to 6-and-1 with a 113-94 victory over the winless Cleveland Cavaliers. Scottie Pippen leads all scorers with 27 points. In today’s Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin schools his mother on the subject of honesty. In today’s Dilbert, the staff discusses recent accomplishments.

Tonight, ABC’s TV lineup includes Ellen, The Drew Carey Show, and Grace Under Fire, which will be the highest-rated show of the night. Also on ABC tonight: The Naked Truth, a sitcom set at a tabloid newspaper, and the newsmagazine Prime Time Live. NBC airs the adventure series seaQuest DSV, Dateline NBC, and Law and Order. On CBS, it’s Dave’s World starring Harry Anderson as newspaper columnist Dave Barry, and Bless This House, a domestic comedy starring Andrew Dice Clay. Also on CBS tonight are the primetime soap Central Park West and the legal drama Courthouse. Fox has Beverly Hills 90210 and Party of Five; the WB, which went on the air in January and has expanded its schedule this fall, airs episodes of Sister Sister, The Parent ‘Hood, The Wayans Bros., and Unhappily Ever After. ABC announced today that it’s pulling the critically acclaimed Murder One from its schedule after tomorrow night’s broadcast. The show has struggled in the ratings against NBC’s ER, the top-rated show on television. Murder One will return in January in a slot currently occupied by Monday Night Football. An ABC executive says of the original scheduling, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

On the Billboard Hot 100, the top six songs are in the same positions as last week: “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey is #1, followed by “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio, “Runaway” by Janet Jackson, “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal, Groove Theory’s “Tell Me,” and “As I Lay Me Down” by Sophie B. Hawkins at #6. There’s not much movement anywhere else in the Top 40 either, although two songs make high Hot 100 debuts: “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” by Smashing Pumpkins at #28 and “Beautiful Life” by Ace of Base at #30. The oldest record on the Hot 100 is “Run-Around” by Blues Traveler, at #17 in its 34th week on. Smashing Pumpkins’ latest album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, debuts at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, knocking Carey’s Daydream to #2. Two other albums hit the Top 10 in their first week of release: Ozzmosis by Ozzy Osbourne and The Greatest Hits Collection by Alan Jackson.

In Iowa, a guy in his mid-30s commutes from his home just north of Davenport to the University of Iowa in Iowa City, one hour away. He’s in his second semester back at school, pursuing a teaching certificate and enjoying student life immensely. It beats the hell out of going to work every day.

November 9, 1979: Rise

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(Pictured: trumpeter Herb Alpert, on stage in the late 70s.)

November 9, 1979, is a Friday. Although it won’t be widely known until years later, ballistic missile silos in the Great Plains are alerted around 8:50AM that Soviet missiles are in flight and heading for North America, after some sort of malfunction in early warning systems. The mistake is discovered before a massive retaliatory strike can be launched. As part of the alert, the so-called “Doomsday Plane” takes off, although President Carter is not on board. (It is speculated later that Pentagon officials simply couldn’t find him, although his daily schedule shows he was at the White House all morning.) Instead of presiding over the end of the world, Carter meets with several family members of Americans taken hostage in Iran five days earlier. The hostages themselves are put on public display in Tehran. Later in the day, Carter goes jogging, gets a call from his daughter Amy that he doesn’t take, and watches the movie Running.

A plot by four Iranians and a Sudanese to kidnap Minnesota Governor Albert Quie is foiled in St. Paul. The prime interest rate goes up one-quarter of a point to 15.50 percent. Future major league baseball players Dave Bush and Adam Dunn are born. Louise Thaden, who set numerous speed and endurance records as an airplane pilot in the 20s and 30s, dies three days short of her 74th birthday. Robert Taylor of Livingston, Scotland, has his trousers ripped by a spherical object that drops out of a UFO and tries to pick him up. Montgomery Ward recalls 20,000 toy telephones. A new federal law goes into effect that permits the use of metric road signs in Puerto Rico. The body of a homicide victim, a girl aged about eight years, is found in a cornfield in New York State. She will remain unidentified until 2015.

TV shows on the air tonight include The Dukes of Hazzard, Charlie’s Angels, The Incredible Hulk, and The Rockford Files. The Buzzcocks and Joy Division play the Rainbow Theatre in London, the Stranglers play Brussels, Belgium, and the Dead Kennedys play Los Angeles. The Grateful Dead play Buffalo, New York, Bob Dylan continues a two-week stand at the Fox Warfield Theater in San Francisco, and Billy Joel wraps up a two-night stand in Pittsburgh. The Moody Blues play Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the Memphis Blues Caravan plays Grand Forks, North Dakota, Andy Kaufman plays Colorado State University in Greeley, and Henny Youngman plays Norman, Oklahoma.

At WABC in New York City, new overnight jock Mike McKay makes his on-air debut. On the WABC chart this week, Herb Alpert’s “Rise” is in its second week at #1, and “Pop Muzik” by M holds at #2. The fastest mover on the chart is Barry Manilow’s cover of Ian Hunter’s song “Ships,” up to #8 from #21; other strong moves are made by Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” “Please Don’t Go” by KC and the Sunshine Band, and “Dreaming” by Blondie. One of the station’s new “hit picks” for the week is a record by J. D. Souther called “You’re Only Lonely,” which sounds a bit like the Eagles doing Roy Orbison. (Jackson Browne sings backup on it; Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Don Felder play elsewhere on Souther’s album.) KDTH in Dubuque is playing it, too, and at least one of the part-time jocks digs it.

November 4, 1986: Who’s the Boss?

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(Pictured: Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons onstage, 1985.)

November 4, 1986, is a Tuesday. It’s Election Day in the United States. The Democratic Party reclaims control of the United States Senate, picking up eight seats. New senators include John McCain of Arizona and Harry Reid of Nevada. Democrats retained control of the House of Representatives, so for the first time in his presidency, Ronald Reagan faces a Congress entirely controlled by the opposing party. Democrats lost eight governorships, however. In Illinois, Republican governor Jim Thompson is reelected, defeating former senator Adlai Stevenson III. Stevenson ran under the banner of the Illinois Solidarity Party; he had refused the Democratic nomination after several followers of Lyndon LaRouche won primaries for lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Voters in Massachusetts and Nebraska repeal their states’ mandatory seat-belt laws, and Florida voters amend the state constitution to institute a state lottery.

The Federal Trade Commission issues regulations for health warnings on cans of smokeless tobacco. The new Associated Press college football poll is out, and the top four teams are unchanged from the previous week: Miami, Penn State, Michigan, and Oklahoma. Future NFL player Brandon LaFell is born. On TV tonight, CBS fills primetime with election coverage, but ABC and NBC do not. Before its election coverage, ABC airs episodes of Who’s the Boss? and Moonlighting; NBC airs Matlock and Crime Story.

Journey concludes a two-night stand in Hartford, Connecticut. Whitney Houston’s first world tour as a headliner reaches Osaka, Japan. Iron Maiden plays London, Jackson Browne plays in Norway, and Neil Young plays Austin, Texas, with Crazy Horse. R.E.M. plays Portland, Maine. Bruce Springsteen’s Live 1975-1985 album is released. “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper tops the current Cash Box singles chart, knocking last week’s #1, “Typical Male” by Tina Turner, to second place. Only one song is new in the Top 10: “True Blue” by Madonna. New to the top 20: “Next Time I Fall” by Peter Cetera with Amy Grant, “I’ll Be Over You” by Toto, “Word Up” by Cameo, and “The Rain” by Oran “Juice” Jones. The biggest mover within the Top 40 is “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung (#38 to #29). In Macomb, Illinois, the local Top 40 morning jock anchors election-night coverage, fueled by Jolt Cola and baked goods. Coverage wraps in the wee hours of Wednesday, and he manages to grab maybe two hours of sleep before going back to work at 5:15.

Perspective From the Present: This was the year my station’s former owner ran for the Illinois legislature as a Democrat. I produced his radio spots. He didn’t win, but he pulled a historically high number of votes in a district that hadn’t elected a Democrat since the 1930s, and two years later, a Democrat won the seat. Anchoring on election night was something I enjoyed immensely, and I think I was good at it. It required a great deal of juggling, filling, ad libbing, and other skills jocks possess but reporters often do not. My show prep included cheat sheets on Senate and governor’s races around the country so I could fill time by talking about them if I had to. As for the music I was playing on my morning shows, I didn’t like much of it. My favorite song of the moment was probably “True Blue.” I bought the live Springsteen album (on five vinyl discs) as soon as I could get it, but I’m pretty sure the only time I listened to it from start to finish was right after I got it home.