April 19, 1987: Easter Bunnies

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(Pictured: Pat LaFontaine of the New York Islanders shoots and scores early in the morning of April 19, 1987.)

April 19, 1987, was Easter Sunday. Headlines on the Sunday papers include continuing nuclear-weapons control negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union and a brewing trade war between the United States and Japan in response to new American tariffs on certain Japanese goods. A feature story discusses the political future of Vice President George Bush. He’s assumed to be considering a run for president in 1988 but has yet to officially declare, even though other Republican hopefuls have done so. Bush has begun fundraising, however.

Early this morning, the New York Islanders won their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series over the Washington Capitals, taking Game 7 by a score of 4-3 at the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland. The game is decided in the fourth overtime on a goal by Pat LaFontaine after nearly 69 minutes of extra play. Today is the final day of the National Basketball Association’s regular season; the playoffs will begin on Thursday with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics holding the top seeds. The Lakers finished the season with a league-best record of 65-and-17. In major-league baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers win their 12th straight game to open the season, coming from a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the ninth on home runs by Rob Deer and Dale Sveum to beat the Texas Rangers 6-4. The Brewers’ win streak will reach 13 with a win over the Chicago White Sox tomorrow before the Sox snap the streak on Tuesday. Among the spectators at County Stadium in Milwaukee today is 16-year-old Craig Counsell, whose father works for the Brewers. Counsell will eventually play for and manage the team.

On TV tonight, Fox airs 21 Jump Street, Married . . . With Children, The Tracey Ullman Show, and two episodes of Duet, a sitcom about the romantic lives of two couples. The Tracey Ullman Show includes a cartoon short titled “Good Night.” It’s the first appearance of the animated Simpson family on TV. NBC airs the family drama Our House; an episode of Rags to Riches, a family comedy/drama in which the characters occasionally break into song; the holiday special Bob Hope and His Beautiful Easter Bunnies; and a one-off episode of This Is Your Life, in which host Ralph Edwards surprises Betty White and Dick Van Dyke with people from their pasts. On CBS tonight, 60 Minutes is followed by Murder She Wrote (which tops the night’s ratings) and a two-hour episode of High Mountain Rangers, an adventure series starring Robert Conrad and his sons Christian and Shane. ABC counters with its annual presentation of the 1956 movie The Ten Commandments.

Because it’s Easter Sunday, the concert calendar is fairly light. The Grateful Dead plays Laguna Hills, California, and Slayer plays Birmingham, England. Tina Turner plays Munich, Germany, and Kool and the Gang plays Denver. On the new Cash Box Top 100 that came out yesterday, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by the Starship is #1 for a third week. “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael is up to #2. It swaps places with recent #1 “Lean on Me” by Club Nouveau, which is now #3. Three songs are new in the Top 10: Lou Gramm’s “Midnight Blue,” “The Finer Things” by Steve Winwood, and “Walking Down Your Street” by the Bangles. The biggest mover in the Top 40 is U2’s “With or Without You,” up seven spots to #15. Five songs are new in the Top 40 including “I Know What I Like” by Huey Lewis and the News, “If She Would Have Been Faithful” by Chicago, and Kim Wilde’s cover of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Three songs among the Top 100 share the distinction of being around the longest, 23 weeks: “You Got It All” by the Jets, “Will You Still Love Me” by Chicago, and “Nobody’s Fool” by Cinderella, which is at #100 for the week.

Perspective From the Present: We most likely took it easy around our two-bedroom apartment in Davenport, Iowa, on this day, probably watching the Chicago Cubs lose 3-1 to the Montreal Expos. The Cubs were without announcer Harry Caray, who had suffered a stroke in February. A series of guest announcers filled in until he returned in May. The previous Monday, Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell called a near-no-hitter by Cubs pitcher Jamie Moyer. Bill Murray made his famous appearance on Friday; on this day, Chicago TV and radio personality Bob Sirott took Harry’s spot.

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March 14, 1987: Act Up

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(Pictured: Boy George, on stage in 1987.)

March 14, 1987, was a Saturday. In his weekly radio address, President Reagan talks about the changes in his national security team, necessitated by the unfolding Iran-Contra scandal. White supremacists rally in Forsyth County, Georgia, after winning a lawsuit giving them the right to do so. A United Press International story appearing around the country today says that the World Health Organization is reporting a worldwide total of 42,704 AIDS cases, three-quarters of which are in the United States. In Los Angeles, county officials are planning to open several new AIDS testing sites, due in part to a sharp increase in AIDS cases among heterosexuals. In New York City, Larry Kramer and other gay activists form the organization ACT UP. Yesterday, a judge ordered 17-year-old Machelle Outlaw of Goldsboro, North Carolina, readmitted to her Christian school after she was expelled earlier in the week for modeling swimsuits in a department store fashion show. Among the teams winning games in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament are Indiana, Wyoming, and Notre Dame. Katarina Witt wins the World Figure Skating Championships in Cincinnati. Stu Kulak, recently acquired in a trade, makes his debut with the NHL’s New York Rangers. (He will play in three games for the Rangers before being released.) TV shows on NBC tonight include The Golden Girls and Saturday Night’s Main Event, a pro wrestling show. Lower Prior Lake, in Scott County, Minnesota, records its earliest ice-out—the date on which there’s no more ice on the lake. Pope John Paul II meets the Cremonese soccer team and members of the Moscow Circus.

Wang Chung plays in Denver, and Petula Clark plays the Hamilton Hotel in Itasca, Illinois. In the UK, The Very Best of Hot Chocolate goes to #1 on the album charts. The #1 single in the UK is Boy George’s cover of Bread’s “Everything I Own,” which doesn’t hit in the States. In the States, the #1 single is “Jacob’s Ladder” by Huey Lewis and the News, which doesn’t hit in the UK. “Somewhere Out There” by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram is #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait Awhile” is at #3, making it the fifth Top-5 single from her album Control. The achievement matches only her brother Michael’s on Thriller. Rounding out the top 5: last week’s #1 single, “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, and “Lean on Me” by Club Nouveau. For the second week, Licensed to Ill by the Beastie Boys is Billboard‘s #1 album. Bruce Springsteen’s Live 1975-1985 box set goes platinum only about three months after its release.

Perspective From the Present: I was playing elevator music at KRVR in Davenport, Iowa, and had been doing so since January. It’s likely that I had this Saturday off, and I probably slept late. I worked until 9:00 at night, and The Mrs. and I got into the habit of grabbing a late dinner and going to a midnight movie on Fridays. It’s likely we didn’t get home until something like 3:00 this morning.

Meal at 9, movie at 12, home by 3. The only way we could do that now would be to have breakfast at nine and the movie at noon.

September 16, 1987: Just Can’t Stop

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(Pictured: Michael Jackson on stage, 1987.)

September 16, 1987, is a Wednesday. A front-page story in the New York Times details the growing plagiarism scandal surrounding Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Biden’s committee is holding confirmation hearings for Supreme Court appointee Robert Bork. Pope John Paul II continues a visit to the United States; today, he’s in Los Angeles, where he celebrates mass at Dodger Stadium and stresses the need for religious communities to draw together “in a common concern for man’s earthly welfare, especially world peace.” President Reagan speaks on the steps of the Capitol at “A Celebration of Citizenship,” as school children across the country celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution. The mayors of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and Hsin Tien, Taiwan, sign a sister-city proclamation. National Football League players and owners are eyeball-to-eyeball in a labor dispute; in six days, the players will go on strike, resulting in the cancellation of one week’s games and the playing of three others with replacement players. Bob Boone of the California Angels appears in his 1,919th game at catcher, which is a major league record.

Calvin and Hobbes decide to secede from their family. On CBS-TV tonight, it’s the premiere of Wiseguy, starring Ken Wahl. On NBC, the final season of St. Elsewhere begins. The New York Times reports that investment firm Smith Barney is dropping John Houseman from its TV ads; for several years, Houseman has told viewers that Smith Barney makes money the old fashioned way: “they ear-r-r-r-r-n it.” The current edition of Variety includes the obituary of TV star Lorne Greene (Bonanza), who died last week at age 72. Films set to open this coming weekend include Fatal Attraction, Hellraiser, and The Pick-Up Artist. Top movie last weekend: Stakeout, starring Emilio Estevez and Richard Dreyfuss.

Pink Floyd plays Cleveland, Boston plays Nashville, and Bob Dylan plays Nuremberg, Germany, with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers opening. The Grateful Dead plays Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Dead’s biggest hit single to date, “Touch of Grey,” is at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. That chart is topped by Los Lobos and Michael Jackson, sitting at #1 and #2 for the second consecutive week with “La Bamba” and “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” Whitney Houston’s “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” is at #3, followed by Whitesnake and “Here I Go Again”at #4. Madonna is in the Top 10 with “Who’s That Girl” (#9) and she also has the highest debuting song on the Hot 100 with “Causing a Commotion,” which comes in at #41. Also in the top 10: Huey Lewis and the News (“Doing It All for My Baby” at #7) and “When Smokey Sings” by ABC (#8), which cleverly incorporates the main riff from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ 1970 hit “Tears of a Clown.” Smokey himself is at #21 with “One Heartbeat.”

Perspective From the Present: During the week of October 3, “One Heartbeat” would reach #10 and become Smokey Robinson’s final Top 10 hit to date. “La Bamba” would be knocked from the #1 spot the next week by “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Although Michael Jackson’s Bad had been released two weeks before, it didn’t knock the La Bamba movie soundtrack from #1 until the week of September 26. Such were the limitations of chart methodology in the pre-Soundscan era. Bad was, nevertheless, the album absolutely everyone was talking about 30 years ago this month, and Michael-mania was raging anew. It was so pervasive that even my radio station—which played elevator music—briefly made room for “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

January 9, 1987: Uh-Oh

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(Pictured: Carly Simon, 1987.)

January 9, 1987, is a Friday. Controversy over the Iran-Contra Affair, which was first revealed late last November, continues to boil. Newspaper reports indicate that Israel had passed word to the United States that Iran would release American hostages held there in exchange for the resumption of arms shipments, and that President Reagan had been notified the previous September that Israel had sold arms to the Nicaraguan contras. In business news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 2,000 for the first time in history yesterday. Arthur Lake, the actor who played Dagwood in a series of films based on the Blondie comic strip, and Pete Lucia, former drummer in Tommy James and the Shondells, die. Singer Paolo Nutini is born. The first modern simulator ride, “Star Tours: The Adventures Continue,” opens at Disneyland. The ride cost twice as much money, $32 million, as it took to build the whole park in 1955.

The most popular movies in theaters this weekend are The Golden Child, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Crocodile Dundee, and Little Shop of Horrors. ABC-TV leads off its night with episodes of Webster and Mr. Belvidere; CBS airs Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Dallas, and Falcon Crest; NBC’s lineup includes new episodes of Miami Vice and Crime Story. Some viewers in the Newtown, Connecticut, area may have trouble seeing anything. Housatonic Cable reported this week that repairs to existing lines needed after a recent blizzard have slowed the installation of new lines.

Ratt plays Detroit, Metallica plays Holstebro, Denmark, Iron Maiden plays Pittsburgh, and Triumph plays Toronto. At KKHT in Houston, the new #1 single is “Stay the Night” by Benjamin Orr of the Cars, which knocks “Is This Love” by Survivor to #2. Four records each make seven-place jumps into the top 10: “Someday” by Glass Tiger, “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters, Madonna’s “Open Your Heart,” and “Falling in Love (Uh-Oh)” by the Miami Sound Machine. Other major movers on the chart include “Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott and “Coming Around Again” by Carly Simon. In Davenport, Iowa, the new jock at KRVR wraps up his first week on the air, voice-tracking elevator music from 3 to 9PM. He’s getting used to new co-workers and a new daily routine, and he hasn’t had much time to think about whether he’s made a good move. There will be time for that later.

Perspective From the Present: That week, The Mrs. and I were settling into our new place, in a giant apartment complex at the intersection of  two busy streets in Davenport. We would have preferred to live in part of an old house, as we’d done briefly right after we got married, but we couldn’t find one we liked. The complex seduced us with a pool and a clubhouse—which neither of us ever set foot in, as it turned out. Our unit was advertised as having a fireplace, although it was actually a free-standing woodstove in the corner that heated up like the mouth of Hell with just a couple of sticks of firewood, and we ended up not using it much. We didn’t get to know our neighbors very well either, because people seemed to move in and out frequently. For a while, we shared a bedroom wall with a couple who were very loudly—and frequently—in love. We never actually saw them, so we never knew what they looked like, how old they were, or anything else about them except for their remarkable sexual appetite, which led us to nickname the guy the “pagan love beast.” After a year and a half, we moved on, part of a stretch that saw us with six addresses in five years, the sort of thing newlyweds and young disc jockeys did then, and do now.