January 31, 1994: Below Zero

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(Pictured: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman celebrates victory in Super Bowl XXVIII.)

January 31, 1994, was a Monday. It is extremely cold in much of the United States. Nighttime temperatures have been in the 20s and 30s below zero from the upper Mississippi Valley to northern New England, and sub-freezing temperatures have been recorded in the Gulf Coast states. The countdown begins today for Thursday’s launch of the space shuttle Discovery. It will be the first shuttle mission with a Russian cosmonaut aboard, and the first joint U.S-Russian space mission since the Apollo/Soyuz flights in 1975. Secretary of State Warren Christopher says the United States supports a UN proposal for air strikes in Bosnia to punish Serbian guerillas who are holding an airport in Tuzla and refusing to allow Canadian troops in Srebrenica to be rotated home. The lawyer for figure skater Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gilooly, says Harding helped plan the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan earlier this month. Harding has said she became aware of the attack plot only after it happened. The Los Angeles Times publishes an extensive series of articles about the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake, which hit southern California two weeks ago today. Fifty-seven people died and thousands were injured. The Times also headlines a report about the Arkansas land deal known as Whitewater, which has threatened to ensnare President and Mrs. Clinton in scandal. Novelist Pierre Boulle, who wrote several novels including Planet of the Apes and Bridge Over the River Kwai, dies at age 71.

Yesterday in Atlanta, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII by a score of 30 to 13. It was the fourth straight Super Bowl defeat for the Bills and the second consecutive championship for the Cowboys. The halftime show featured country stars Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and the Judds. Tonight in the NBA, Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks becomes the 11th player to score 24,000 points in a career, getting 24 points to help the Hawks beat Dallas, 90-85. The win pulls the Hawks into a flat-footed tie with the idle New York Knicks for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Both have marks of 30-and-11. Duke is the new #1 in the AP men’s college basketball poll. It’s the fifth straight poll with a different #1 team. Last week’s #1, UCLA, lost to California yesterday.

The top movies at the box office this past weekend were Mrs. Doubtfire, Philadelphia, and Grumpy Old Men. On TV tonight, ABC starts the night with the newsmagazine show Day One, followed by the TV movie Lies of the Heart: The Story of Laurie Kellogg, a fact-based tale about a woman who contracts the murder of her abusive husband, starring Jennie Garth and Gregory Harrison. NBC airs The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Blossom, and an episode of The Cosby Mysteries. On CBS, it’s Evening Shade, Dave’s World, Murphy Brown, Love and War (a sitcom created by Murphy Brown creator Diane English and starring Annie Potts and Jay Thomas), and Northern Exposure. Fox devotes all of its primetime to a repeat of the theatrical movie Working Girl starring Melanie Griffith. Rush plays Las Cruces, New Mexico; Janet Jackson plays Philadelphia; Fairport Convention plays Yeovil in the UK. INXS plays Brisbane, Australia, and Bryan Adams plays Sydney.

Bryan Adams is atop the Billboard Hot 100 again this week with “All for Love,” his hit with Rod Stewart and Sting. Holding this week at #2 and #3 are “Hero” by Mariah Carey and “Breathe Again” by Toni Braxton. Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love” moves from #10 to #4. Two songs make monster debuts: “Whatta Man” by Salt ‘n’ Pepa with En Vogue is new in the Top 40 at #22, zooming in from #69 the week before; Janet Jackson’s “Because of You” is at #29 in its first week on the Hot 100. On the Billboard 200 album chart, Music Box by Mariah Carey is in its sixth week at #1; Doggy Style by Snoop Doggy Dogg is #2. Greatest Hits by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is #5; Vs. by Pearl Jam is #7; the highest debut is Antenna by ZZ Top at #14.

Perspective From the Present: My radio career had ended with a thud on the first working day of January. I had since found a job teaching prep classes for high-school students getting ready to take their ACTs, and by the end of January, I was on the road. My first trip was a bizarre week in Oklahoma City; in all the teaching trips I’ve taken over all the years since, I never had a weirder one—but that story will have to wait.

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June 14, 1994: Questioning

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(Pictured: a crowd gathers outside the condo belonging to Nicole Brown-Simpson on June 13, 1994.)

June 14, 1994, was a Tuesday. Headlines this morning include the murders of Nicole Brown-Simpson, wife of O. J. Simpson, and Ronald Goldman, who were found stabbed early yesterday. Police have already questioned the ex-football star as a potential witness. President Clinton and the First Lady were questioned separately under oath on Sunday as part of the special counsel’s investigation of the Whitewater land deals in Arkansas. Some questions involved the death of former aide Vincent Foster. A jury in Anchorage, Alaska, has ruled that victims of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill can seek damages for negligence from Exxon and the ship’s captain, Joseph Hazelwood. A fireball was seen in the sky across the northeastern United States and in Canada last night; a meteorite that landed on a farm in Quebec is the largest ever recorded in Canada, weighing 2.3 kilograms. Today, Erie, Pennsylvania, is flooded after getting three inches of rain in about two hours.

Much of tonight’s primetime TV lineup is reruns. On ABC, it’s Full House, Roseanne (the top-rated show of the night), Coach, NYPD Blue, and the sitcom Phenom, about a teenage tennis star being raised with two siblings by a single mom. CBS repeats an episode of Rescue 911 and the TV movie My Son Johnny starring Michele Lee and Ricky Schroder. On NBC, After the Headlines is a new where-are-they-now special about recent newsmakers hosted by Kathleen Sullivan; it’s followed by two episodes of The John Larroquette Show and a new edition of Dateline NBC. The Fox lineup includes South Central, Roc, and two episodes of Tales From the Crypt.

At Madison Square Garden in New York, the Rangers win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years, beating the Vancouver Canucks in the deciding seventh game of the final. After the game, Canucks fans riot in downtown Vancouver, resulting in about $1.1 million in damage. The Canucks will not return to the Cup final until 2011, when they will again lose in seven games, and their fans will again riot. Madison Square Garden will be the scene of the NBA Finals tomorrow night. It’s Game 4 between the Knicks and the Houston Rockets; the Rockets lead the series 2-1. Pitcher Monte Weaver, who won 71 games in a nine-year major league career spent mostly with the Washington Senators during the 1930s, dies one day short of his 88th birthday. Composer, conductor, and arranger Henry Mancini dies of pancreatic cancer at age 70.

The Grateful Dead play Seattle, Phish plays Des Moines, and Danzig plays Philadelphia. The first Bluegrass Night at the Ryman is held in Nashville, starring Bill Monroe and Alison Krauss. On the Billboard Hot 100, “I Swear” by All 4 One is in the fourth of what will be 11 straight weeks at #1; a country version of the song by John Michael Montgomery is at #84. Madonna’s “I’ll Remember” and “Any Time Any Place” by Janet Jackson hold at #2 and #3. “Don’t Turn Around” by Ace of Base is #4. The Ace of Base album The Sign spends a second week at #1, its first at the top since the week of April 2. Although six other albums will have longer runs at #1 in 1994, Billboard will rank The Sign as the year’s #1 album.

Perspective From the Present: At some point in June of 1994, I got a part-time radio job at KRVR in Davenport, Iowa, the station that had fired me in 1990. Although it was staffed by then with several brand-name jocks who’d been in the market a long time, it was not an especially good station, largely btecause A) adult contemporary music at that moment was pretty terrible and B) the station was running a very soft, very white version of the format. It privileged bland records by rock stars (such as Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia”) and beat-free AC sludge (epitomized by the inexplicable, 15-years-out-of-date success of “Beautiful in My Eyes” by Joshua Kadison). In 1995, KRVR would change format to classic rock. All the full-timers would get fired, but we part-timers did not.

If you watched The John Larroquette Show, chances are good you haven’t forgotten it. The former Night Court star played the recovering-alcoholic manager of a bus station in St. Louis, and it was, at least during the first season that wrapped in the spring of 1994, one of the darkest (and best) comedies ever on television. It’s never been released on DVD and isn’t on an official streaming site, but some episodes are available at YouTube.

June 17, 1994: Don’t Turn Around

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(Pictured: the opening ceremony from the 1994 World Cup at Soldier Field in Chicago.)

June 17, 1994, is a Friday. Former football star O.J. Simpson, suspected of murdering his wife and a friend, fails to turn himself in to Los Angeles police, instead leading them on a low-speed freeway chase watched by millions on live television. Opening ceremonies for the 1994 World Cup, which is being played in the United States for the first time, are held at Soldier Field in Chicago; just after welcoming 750 million worldwide TV viewers, mistress of ceremonies Oprah Winfrey falls from the dais. In the inaugural game, Germany beats Bolivia 1-0. In the NBA finals, the Houston Rockets take a three-to-two lead in the series over the New York Knicks with a 94-81 victory in New York. (The Rockets will win the championship in seven games.)

The sale of Cheerios is up in the air at the moment, pending an FDA investigation of whether an unapproved pesticide was used on the oats in the cereal. DirecTV is first demonstrated to consumers at an electronics store in Mississippi; within ten months the system will have grown to one million subscribers across the country. The animated film The Lion King opens, but the top-grossing film of the weekend will be Wolf, starring Jack Nicholson and James Spader. Former White House aide Kathleen Willey writes a brief letter to President Clinton praising his recent D-Day speech; when Clinton is accused four years later of having groped Willey in ’93, Clinton’s office will release the letter and several others hoping to prove that his contacts with Willey were all above board. In Collinsville, Illinois, the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle is sold to new owners.

In Detroit, Gene Simmons and Peter Criss of KISS, along with assorted lawyers, cops, and a film crew, descend on a KISS fan convention to take back memorabilia they claim was stolen from a warehouse in New York City. The Grateful Dead and Cracker play Eugene, Oregon, and Metallica plays Middletown, New York. The Southern Spirit ’94 tour, which features Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Ted Nugent, plays St. Louis. Whitney Houston plays Hartford, Connecticut. Phil Collins plays the SkyDome in Toronto; among those in attendance is Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, who’s in town with his bandmates for the weekend to shoot the video for “Love Is Strong,” from their forthcoming album Voodoo Lounge.

On the Billboard Hot 100 that comes out tomorrow, “I Swear” by All-4-One is in its fourth of what will be 11 straight weeks at #1. (A country version by John Michael Montgomery, which peaked at #42, is hanging on at #87.) Ace of Base has two hits in the Top 10, “The Sign” at #5 and “Don’t Turn Around” at #6. In addition to Ace of Base, a Swedish group sometimes compared to ABBA, the chart has a distinctly 70s feel: Big Mountain’s reggae-style over of Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” is at #7, Joshua Kadison’s “Beautiful in My Eyes,” which sounds like a lesser album track by Elton John, is at #19. General Public’s cover of the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” is at #26, and Mariah Carey’s cover of Nilsson’s “Without You” is at #29. Also on the Hot 100: Bruce Springsteen, Meat Loaf (with “Objects in the Rear-View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are”) , Aerosmith, and John Mellencamp (with another 70s cover, “Wild Night”), and Boston.

Perspective From the Present: “Objects in the Rear View Mirror” is far better than its title, which isn’t saying much, since that title is one of the worst in history. Seriously, though, the song is pretty good even though it’s three minutes too long, but that’s standard in the oeuvre of Mr. Loaf. The video, along with several others from the Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell album, is directed by Michael Bay, future director of The Rock, Armageddon, and several Transformers movies, among others.