January 15, 1991: In the Heat of the Night

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(Pictured: An American family watches war news from the Persian Gulf.)

January 15, 1991, was a Tuesday. Today, Iraq fails to meet a UN-mandated deadline for withdrawing 545,000 troops from Kuwait. They’re faced by over 800,000 international coalition forces, the majority of which are from the United States. Yesterday, UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar returned from meetings with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and told reporters he sees little hope that war in the Persian Gulf can be averted. Pope John Paul II sends Saddam a letter urging him to “take courageous steps which can be the beginning of a true journey towards peace.” A partial eclipse of the sun is visible in parts of Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. In Texas, Democrat Ann Richards takes the oath of office as governor.

Today’s Dilbert strip features an appearance by Dan Quayle’s brain. ABC’s primetime lineup includes Who’s the Boss?, Head of the Class, Roseanne (which wins the ratings race for the night), Coach, and thirtysomething. CBS airs Rescue 911 and the theatrical movie The Presidio. NBC’s lineup includes Matlock, In the Heat of the Night, and Law and Order. At the movies Home Alone continues to dominate the box office along with Awakenings starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams. Pairings are set for the NFC and AFC championship games this weekend: the Los Angeles Raiders will play at Buffalo and the New York Giants will play at San Francisco. The NBA’s top team, the Boston Celtics, are 29-and-6 and have the night off. Among the eight games played tonight, the Portland Trail Blazers beat Minnesota 132-117, running their second-best record to 32-and-7. Clyde Drexler leads Portland with 32 points. The league’s third-best team, San Antonio, loses to Utah 124-102. The league’s worst team, the Denver Nuggets, drops to 7-and-29 after getting hammered by Seattle, 146-99.

A new version of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance,” recorded with war in the Persian Gulf looming, is officially released. Lennon’s son Sean and Lenny Kravitz rewrote the original lyrics, which are sung by artists recording as the Peace Choir. They include Yoko Ono, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Hornsby, Al Jarreau, Cyndi Lauper, Little Richard, LL Cool J, MC Hammer, Michael McDonald, Bonnie Raitt, Terence Trent D’Arby, Tom Petty, Adam Ant, and others. On the Billboard Hot 100, “Justify My Love” by Madonna is in its second week at #1. “Because I Love You” by Stevie B holds at #2. Only one song is new in the Top 10: “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C&C Music Factory. “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston falls out of the Top 10. There’s practically no movement anywhere: Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” and “I’m Not in Love” by Will to Power make the biggest jumps in the Top 20, three places each (#7 to #4 and #20 to #17 respectively). There’s only one new song in the Top 40: “Love Makes Things Happen” by Pebbles at #40. Only three new songs debut on the Hot 100; the highest is “Iesha” by Another Bad Creation at #78. AC/DC plays Portland, Oregon, Guns ‘n’ Roses plays Rio de Janeiro, and Anthrax plays Montreal.

Perspective From the Present: On this day, The Mrs. and I had a new arrival in the house. We had adopted Abby, our first cat, shortly after the holidays. For a while, we left the radio on and tuned to my station while we were gone so she would hear my voice throughout the day. Like most Americans, we went to bed on the night of the 15th figuring we’d be at war pretty soon, maybe before we got up Wednesday morning. That day, I went to work as usual, doing my afternoon show at the little station in Clinton, Iowa. The bombing started in the Gulf a little before 6:00 that night, and what had been called Operation Desert Shield turned into Operation Desert Storm. After I read the first couple of bulletins, we joined network news coverage and let it roll for the next 18 hours or so. Although there wasn’t much for me to do, I remember staying at the station until midnight, partly because we needed to have an operator there, but partly because I didn’t want to be anywhere else while history was being made.

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January 7, 1983: What About Me

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(Pictured: Stevie Wonder appears at an event promoting the Martin Luther King holiday with Gil Scott-Heron, Jesse Jackson, and Gladys Knight.)

January 7, 1983, was a Friday. The ongoing weakness of the US economy is all over the news. Retailers are disappointed with December sales figures, although analysts disagree about the likely impact of the slow holiday season. New forecasts indicate the economy may grow at a rate of only 1.4 percent this year, down from last fall’s forecast of 3.1 percent. The administration is considering spending freezes to offset record deficits, but ecomomists fear that even if the economy begins growing again, deficits will remain a persistent problem. Unemployment remains high; the administration hopes the unemployment rate, currently 10.8 percent, can be cut to nine percent by the end of 1984. Yesterday, President Reagan signed a bill increasing the federal gas tax for the first time in 23 years. A report issued today by the Centers for Disease Control reports evidence that AIDS can be transmitted between heterosexuals; new research involving infected prison inmates also indicates that it can be spread through exposure to blood or blood products.

Future pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and future major leaguer Edwin Encarnacion are born. Four games are played in the National Hockey League tonight. The Edmonton Oilers get a hat trick from Glenn Anderson and two goals from Wayne Gretzky to beat Pittsburgh 7-2. Eight games are played in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers run their league-best record to 26-and-5 with a 106-89 win over the Washington Bullets. It’s the sixth straight win for the Sixers, who are led by Andrew Toney with 28 points. Julius Erving adds 23 and Moses Malone scores 22. The NFL playoffs begin this weekend with a special 16-team format necessitated by the players’ strike that reduced the regular season to nine games. Four games will be played tomorrow and four more on Sunday. The two top-seeded teams in what’s been dubbed the Super Bowl Tournament are the Los Angeles Raiders and Washington Redskins. Other top teams playing include Miami, Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota.

Popular options for weekend moviegoers include Tootsie, 48 Hours, and The Verdict. On TV tonight, CBS wins the ratings race with its Friday-night lineup of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, and Falcon Crest. ABC’s lineup includes Benson, The New Odd Couple (which stars Ron Glass of Barney Miller as Felix and Demond Wilson of Sanford and Son as Oscar), and an ABC News Closeup special about the massacre of Palestinians and Lebanese in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon last September. NBC presents a two-hour episode of Knight Rider followed by Remington Steele. Later, Johnny Carson welcomes Jack Lemmon and Tanya Tucker, and Andy Kaufman brings his parents to an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman.

Yesterday, Stevie Wonder appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference to discuss ongoing efforts to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. Tonight, Aerosmith continues its “Right in the Nuts” tour at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, and KISS plays Saginaw, Michigan. One of two competing editions of Badfinger, led by Tom Evans, plays Atlanta. (The other Badfinger is led by Evans’ former bandmate Joey Molland.) Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones plays and speaks at an educational event held at the Town Hall Theater in New York City.

At WLOL in Minneapolis, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins is the new #1 song, dropping “What About Me” by Moving Pictures to #3. “You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is up to #2. “Baby Come to Me” by Patti Austin and James Ingram, “On the Loose” by Saga, and “Heart to Heart” by Kenny Loggins are new in the Top 10, replacing Men at Work’s “Down Under,” “Southern Cross” by Crosby Stills and Nash, and Toto’s “Africa.” Songs moving up outside the Top 10 include “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” by Culture Club, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, and “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran.

Perspective From the Present: “What About Me,” which sounds as 80s as 80s can be, was an enormous hit in Australia during 1982, and would make #29 on the American Hot 100 in February 1983. The very same version would hit in America for a second time in 1989, peaking at #46. You don’t hear it on the radio anymore, but several other popular songs of the moment have never been off the air since.