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.”

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September 11, 1985: Twice a Day

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(Pictured: Pete Rose follows through on his 4,192nd hit. The catcher is Bruce Bochy, who would go on to manage in the majors, winning three World Series in five years with the San Francisco Giants.)

September 11, 1985, was a Wednesday. Headlines in the morning papers include a request by the Reagan Administration to raise the federal debt ceiling to an unprecedented $2.078 trillion in October. Also yesterday, incumbent mayors Ed Koch in New York and Coleman Young in Detroit won primary elections. In such heavily Democratic cities, winning the primary is tantamount to winning the general election. A Colorado resident named Dennis Whiles turns himself into immigration authorities in San Pedro, California. His real name is Georg Gaertner, and during World War II, he escaped from a camp for German prisoners of war in New Mexico, a secret he kept from his wife of 21 years until recently. His surrender is timed to coincide with the release of a book he co-wrote about his experience; authorities say that his lengthy marriage means he probably won’t be deported. A wire-service story reports on a survey that says 50 percent of career women are dissatisfied with the frequency of their sex lives. The psychologist conducting the survey also says that women “like the idea of starting and finishing the day in a warm, emotional way.” This prompts the Los Angeles Times to headline the story, “Career Women Tell Survey They’d Like Sex Twice a Day.”

Tonight, in the bottom of the first inning at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Pete Rose of the Reds singles off Eric Show of the San Diego Padres. It’s Rose’s 4,192nd hit, breaking the all-time record held by Ty Cobb. The Reds go on to win 2-0. On TV tonight, CBS airs an episode of I Had Three Wives, a short-run series starring Victor Garber as a private eye whose ex-wives—a lawyer, an actress with martial arts skills, and a reporter—help him solve cases. It’s followed by the TV movie Brass, an unsold pilot, starring Carroll O’Connor as the NYPD’s chief of detectives. ABC carries the sci-fi movie J. O. E. and the Colonel followed by a rerun of Hotel with guest star Elizabeth Taylor. NBC airs Highway to Heaven followed by the premiere of the new series Hell Town, starring Robert Blake, and the news program American Almanac, hosted by Roger Mudd. The Fall Preview edition of TV Guide is on sale in stores with listings for the week of September 14.

On the current Billboard Hot 100, “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” by John Parr is #1, taking over the top spot from “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News, which falls to #2. “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner and “Freeway of Love” by Aretha Franklin have pulled a similar trade of positions at #3 and #4. “Summer of ’69” by Bryan Adams holds at #5. The biggest mover within the Top 10 is “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits, moving to #6 from #10. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Don’t Lose My Number” by Phil Collins and “Pop Life” by Prince. Ready for the World’s song “Oh Sheila” moves from #26 to #18, the biggest move within the Top 40. The only other song new to the Top 20 is “Dress You Up” by Madonna at #17. Five songs are new in the Top 40; the highest debut is Sting’s “Fortress Around Your Heart” at #32. New at #33 is “Dancing in the Street,” a record Mick Jagger and David Bowie made for Live Aid in July. Stevie Wonder’s “Part Time Lover” is new on the Hot 100 all the way up at #43.

Perspective From the Present: I saw Rose tie Cobb’s record against the Cubs the preceding Sunday. I was at the height of my obsessive baseball fandom in 1985, although it would have been tempered by September. The Cubs had crashed at mid-season, losing the whole starting rotation to injuries and dropping 12 games in a row at one point, and were now firmly mired in fifth place. On this particular night, they beat the last-place Pirates 3-1. I don’t know if I watched, but if I had, I would likely have seen Rose’s record-setting hit. Nationally televised regular-season games were still relatively rare, but local broadcasters could pick up the Cincinnati TV feed whenever Rose came to bat.

September 7, 1967: Good Morning World

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(Pictured: Paul Revere and the Raiders.)

September 7, 1967, is a Thursday. The weather forecast for the northern half of the United States and the Pacific Coast is for fair skies, with rain possible across the south and into the Rocky Mountains. In Madison, Wisconsin, the predicted high is 79. President and Mrs. Johnson are at the LBJ Ranch in Texas through the weekend while Congress is on its Labor Day recess. The United Auto Workers launched a strike against Ford late last night; up to 159,000 union workers in 25 states may ultimately be affected by the strike. The strike will last for 68 days; workers at GM and Chrysler will stage brief walkouts as well. A million students in six states are idled by teachers’ strikes.

Walgreens stores in the Chicago area invite you to “save big on beer”: locally brewed Van Merritt is just 79 cents for a six-pack of cans. You can get a six-pack of Old Style in bottles for 92 cents or Budweiser in cans for $1.05. At the start of play today, four teams are in a virtual tie for first place in the American League: the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins have identical records of 78-61; the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers are percentage points behind with identical records of 79-62. Tonight, the Twins and Red Sox both win, while the White Sox and Tigers are idle; the result leaves the Twins ahead of the Red Sox by .001; the Tigers and White Sox trail by one-half game. In the National League, the Cardinals, Cubs, and Giants all win; St. Louis maintains an 11-and-a-half game lead over the Cubs and Giants.

Two new TV series premiere opposite one another tonight: on ABC, Sally Field stars in The Flying Nun; on CBS, it’s the western Cimarron Strip starring Stuart Whitman. Several other new fall shows have already premiered this week, including Good Morning World, a sitcom set in a Los Angeles radio station, and He & She, starring Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss. (They have been a married couple in real life since 1961; 50 years from now, they will still be married.) New fall series to premiere this weekend include The Mothers-In-Law, The High Chaparral, and The Carol Burnett Show. Crime dramas Ironside and Mannix will debut next week. Also this weekend, NBC will air Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, starring the comedy team in a fast-paced variety special. The show’s high rating will prompt NBC to make it a regular series in January.

On the new survey coming out tomorrow at WLS in Chicago, Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” holds for another week at #1, just ahead of “Come Back When You Grow Up” by Bobby Vee and “Light My Fire” by the Doors. At #4 it’s “The Letter” by the Box Tops, up from #22 the week before. Two other songs are new in the Top 10: “I Had a Dream” by Paul Revere and the Raiders at #8 and “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison, up to #10 from #24 last week. Also in the Top 10: local favorite the Cryan’ Shames with “It Could Be We’re in Love,” “Never My Love” by the Association, “Reflections” by Diana Ross and the Supremes, and the double-A-sided hit “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Words” by the Monkees. There are 12 new songs on the survey this week: the highest debut is “Little Ole Man” by Bill Cosby at #20. WLS DJs Art Roberts and Larry Lujack will make personal appearances tomorrow night. Roberts will be the MC of a show at the Holiday Ballroom; Lujack will MC a record hop at Notre Dame High School and later, a show at the Rivoli Ballroom.

Perspective From the Present: I have recently been watching episodes of He & She on YouTube. It was a sophisticated, adult sitcom, a predecessor of shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and several years ahead of its time, which helps to account for its demise after one season. A half-century later, it’s definitely worth watching.

Also: In September 1967, I had just started the second grade at Lincoln School, in Miss Jones’ class, although I would transfer to the newly opened Northside School in January. My second-grade report card includes the notation that I listen attentively and am considerate of others only some of the time, and there is also a note that says I need to work on expressing myself better in writing.

August 31, 1970: My World and Welcome to It

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(Pictured: Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight Festival, August 31, 1970.)

August 31, 1970, is a Monday. A nationwide manhunt continues for those suspected in the bombing of Sterling Hall at the University of Wisconsin one week ago. A researcher was killed in the blast. Police in Philadelphia launch a preemptive strike on the Black Panthers, fearing violence at a Panther-sponsored “revolutionary constitutional convention” set for the coming weekend. The cover story on the latest Time magazine is “The Politics of Sex,” with a painting of “Kate Millett of Women’s Lib.” Dallas Cowboys running back Les Shy is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The cover story says, “Coach Tom Landry doesn’t deny his club’s tendency to choke when a title is at stake.” The Cowboys have lost critical season-ending games in each of the last four seasons. On TV tonight, all three networks present nothing but repeats. On CBS, there’s Gunsmoke, The Lucy Show (with guest star John Wayne), Mayberry RFD, The Doris Day Show, and The Wild Wild West. NBC and ABC present reruns of theatrical movies following episodes of My World and Welcome to It and It Takes a Thief respectively. Future pop star Debbie Gibson and future Christmas Story actor Zack Ward are born. Abraham Zapruder, who took the famous film of the Kennedy assassination, died yesterday.

The 1970 Isle of Wight Festival concludes early this morning in the UK. In the wee hours, after Jimi Hendrix plays his set, some among the crowd of 600,000 begin to riot. Leonard Cohen is asked to take the stage to calm the crowd, and he does. Richie Havens closes the show at dawn. That night, Hendrix moves on to Stockholm. Pink Floyd plays Kent, England. Led Zeppelin plays Milwaukee, a show that had been postponed days earlier after the death of John Paul Jones’ father. The local newspaper will say that Robert Plant “looks like an Appalachian jug band reject,” but will also praise his talent. At Criteria Studios in Miami, Derek and the Dominoes continue work on the album that will be titled Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Today they lay down tracks for “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush is released.

At KDWB in Minneapolis, Edwin Starr’s “War” takes the #1 spot away from “Make it With You” by Bread, which falls to #2. There are two new records in the Top 10: “Looking Out My Back Door” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (at #7, up from #14, the biggest upward move of the week) and “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond (at #10, up from #15). A couple of other songs take five-spot jumps: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross (to #19 from #24) and “Closer to Home” by Grand Funk Railroad (#29 from #34).

Three hundred-and-some highway miles from the Twin Cities, in Monroe, Wisconsin, school has started again. A newly-minted fifth-grader is about to make a discovery that will change his life, but on this day, that discovery has not yet happened. Of more immediate interest on this day is his new teacher. She has a son the same age as he is. He doesn’t know that, and the two boys haven’t met. But they will, and for four years of high school, thanks to their close proximity in the alphabet, they will share a locker. And although they won’t see much of one another years from now, they’ll still be friends.

August 25, 1976: Late Summer Early Fall

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(Pictured: Bert Convy, aboard The Love Boat with Kristy McNichol, 1977.)

August 25, 1976, is a Wednesday. In Monroe, Wisconsin, it’s the first day of school. In France, premier Jacques Chirac resigns in a dispute over political strategy with president Valery Giscard d’Estaing and is replaced by foreign minister Raymond Barre. President Ford is on vacation in Colorado. Among his activities today: attending a picnic hosted by prominent Vail restauranteur/hotelier Pepi Gramshammer. The Russian space mission Soyuz 21 returns to Earth early; a crew member has begun displaying psychotic behavior possibly linked to toxic gases in the ship’s cabin. The Lincoln Park Carousel, which has stood in an East Los Angeles park since 1914, is burned by vandals. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, Earl F. Hunsicker Bicentennial Park opens. Future actor Alexander Skarsgard, NBA journeyman Damon Jones, and New York Yankees pitcher Pedro Feliciano are born. The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins 5-4 in a 19-inning game that takes five hours, 26 minutes to play. Yankee Dick Tidrow enters the game in the 7th inning and pitches through the 17th.

On daytime TV, Dinah Shore welcomes Chuck Berry and M*A*S*H star Mike Farrell. Merv Griffin’s guests on his daytime show include singers Mel Torme and Cyndi Grecco and the group Silver. In primetime, a pair of half-hour, four-week summer variety shows premiere back-to-back on CBS: Easy Does It, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, and The Late Summer Early Fall Bert Convy Show, which stars the erstwhile game show host. Also in the cast is comedian Lenny Schultz, who performs as Lenny the Bionic Chicken.

Jethro Tull’s Too Old to Rock and Roll tour continues in Calgary, Canada, while Lynryd Skynyrd’s tour moves on to Lewiston, Maine. Frank Sinatra plays Holmdel, New Jersey, Tom Waits plays Cleveland, and the Band plays Los Angeles. The Electric Light Orchestra plays St. Louis, with opening acts Mahogany Rush and Pure Prairie League. The self-titled debut album by a new group, Boston, is released. At WLS in Chicago, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee is at the top for a second week. New in the Top 10 are “Let ‘Em In” by Paul McCartney and Wings, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” by England Dan and John Ford Coley, and “Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac. The biggest movers on the chart are “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton (up 10 to #27) and “With Your Love” by Jefferson Starship (up 14 to #29). The Beatles compilation Rock and Roll Music spends its fifth and final week at the top of the album chart. Next week, it will be knocked out by Heart’s Dreamboat Annie, currently at #2.

Back in Wisconsin, a new high-school junior knows he is ready to return to school, because anything is better than driving a tractor in the heat. But the things he does not know are legion: He doesn’t know that he’s just passed the summer he will cherish the most as the years go by. Neither does he know that the coming fall will be a season he will never leave behind.

August 19, 1991: Every Heartbeat

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(Pictured: Amy Grant, 1992.)

August 19, 1991, was a Monday. In the Soviet Union, President Mikhail Gorbachev is placed under house arrest by a group of KGB conspirators. Within a week, Soviet republics will begin to declare their independence; Gorbachev will resign as president on Christmas Day, and the Soviet Union will cease to exist. In the United States, Hurricane Bob makes landfall in southern New England. Six people are killed in Connecticut, and some locations on Cape Cod report wind gusts up to 125 MPH. Damage estimates will range up to $1.7 billion. In the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, riots break out after a Guyanese boy is struck and killed by a car containing a prominent Hasidic Jewish leader. In Gurnee, Illinois, the village board holds its regular meeting, disposing of all business in 57 minutes, and state inspectors visit the sewage treatment plant in Orting, Washington. Sports Illustrated features golfer John Daly on its cover, reporting on his out-of-nowhere victory in the PGA Championship one week before. For the second time this month, Steffi Graf regains the top spot in world ranking among female tennis players from Monica Seles.

The Los Angeles Times reports that singer Billy Preston was arrested yesterday on sex charges involving a 16-year-old boy; he will be sentenced to drug rehab and house arrest. Judas Priest plays Toronto and Phish plays Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Bob Dylan plays Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and Primus plays Portland, Oregon. Guns n’ Roses plays Copenhagen, Denmark, and George Thorogood plays suburban Indianapolis.

On the Billboard Hot 100, “Everything I Do (I Do It for You)” by Bryan Adams is #1 for the fourth straight week; “Every Heartbeat” by Amy Grant is #2. There’s precious little movement in the Top 40. “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch makes the biggest move, from #35 to #25; “My Name Is Not Susan” by Whitney Houston moves from #36 to #29. The highest debut within the Top 40 belongs to Huey Lewis and the News: “It Hit Me Like a Hammer” is at #35. Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” is new at #39.

Perspective From the Present: I have been told that in radio music research, 90s music doesn’t test as well with listeners as 70s and 80s music does, even among those who grew up in the 90s. That doesn’t mean there were no good singles on the radio, however. There are several on this chart. Two of them are “The Motown Song” by Rod Stewart and “Everybody Plays the Fool” by Aaron Neville. Both of them were far different on the singles than they were on their respective albums: On Rod’s album Vagabond Heart,”The Motown Song” name-checks the Temptations and brings them aboard for backup vocals, then buries them in the mix. (The single, which is also the version used on the video, is much, much better.) The album version of “Everybody Plays the Fool” is a limp momentum killer on the radio, while the 45/video version is remixed to amp up the energy, and makes it a much better record.

Also remaining really good and/or essential after all these years: “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes, “Learning to Fly” by Tom Petty, “Walking in Memphis” and “Silver Thunderbird” by Marc Cohn, and “Losing My Religion” by REM. Largely forgotten but still remaining pretty good: “Power of Love”/”Love Power” by Luther Vandross.

August 15, 1973: Tantrums

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(Protesters march against the TV show Maude and its abortion-themed episodes, 1973.)

(This is a brand-new, never-before-seen-anywhere post.)

August 15, 1973, was a Wednesday. In June, Congress passed a bill cutting off funding for American operations in Vietnam after August 15, ending direct military involvement in the war. Today, the final American air combat missions of the war are flown over Cambodia, and the aircraft carrier Constellation leaves harbor in the Gulf of Tonkin, where American ships have operated since 1964. President Nixon gives a nationally televised address on the Watergate affair. He insists he had no prior knowledge of the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters or of any coverup, and he suggests that tapes of his Oval Office conversations are covered by executive privilege. He also criticizes Congress for “a continued backward-looking obsession with Watergate.” An Associated Press survey in 12 major cities finds that the price of eggs has risen in eight of them. The largest increase was in Los Angeles, where a dozen eggs, which cost 69 cents on July 31, cost 88 cents this week. Major candymakers including Hershey and Curtiss are deciding whether to raise prices or further decrease the size of their products due to the rising price of raw cocoa beans. Hershey’s famous 10-cent chocolate bar was reduced in size by 0.12 ounces in January.

In major league baseball, a Baltimore win coupled with a Detroit loss puts the Orioles in first place in the American League East by one-half game. In the West, Kansas City expands its lead over idle Oakland to one game with a win over Cleveland. St. Louis and Los Angeles are divisional leaders in the National League. This afternoon, the Chicago Cubs lose to the Atlanta Braves 15-1. It’s their 10th straight loss. (The streak will reach 11 before the team finally gets a win on Friday.)

Nixon’s Watergate speech delays or pre-empts scheduled network programming: The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Dan August, and Cannon on CBS; Adam-12, The Wednesday Mystery Movie, and SEARCH on NBC; and the sitcom Love Thy Neighbor, the TV movie Duel, and Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law on ABC. Last night, CBS repeated a controversial episode of the sitcom Maude, in which the title character, played by Beatrice Arthur, considers whether to get an abortion. Twenty-five of the 198 CBS affiliates did not carry the show, including stations in Milwaukee, Boston, New Orleans, and Seattle. The United States Catholic Conference has been pressuring CBS affiliates not to the air the rerun. When the episode was originally broadcast in November 1972 (when abortion was legal in New York State, where Maude is set, but before January’s Supreme Court national ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade), only two stations refused to carry it. A second abortion episode is scheduled for next week.

The Illinois State Fair continues in Springfield, where Bobby Goldsboro will perform two shows tonight at the grandstand. In Chicago, WCFL runs newspaper ads for its upcoming live broadcast of Chicago’s sold-out show at Chicago Stadium on Sunday night, which will be hosted by afternoon DJ Larry Lujack. On the latest Super CFL Survey, “Get Down” by Gilbert O’Sullivan is #1, knocking “Yesterday Once More” by the Carpenters to #2. “Diamond Girl” by Seals and Crofts makes a strong move from #12 to #5. “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings is even hotter, jumping from #18 to #7, the single biggest move on the survey. Also new in the Top 10: “Uneasy Rider” by the Charlie Daniels Band. Also making strong upward moves: “Are You Man Enough” by the Four Tops and “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk, both up eight spots. New songs within the Top 40 are “My Maria” by B. W. Stevenson and “Loves Me Like a Rock” by Paul Simon.

Perspective From the Present: I would probably have watched the Nixon speech that night, and Maude the night before—although I doubt I knew what an abortion was, and the Maude episode did not use the word. I would have been suffering along with the Cubs, who were as sick of losing as their fans. On Tuesday, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins had a bat-throwing tantrum after being pulled in the fifth inning of the ninth loss in the streak, 5-1 to Atlanta at Wrigley Field. It was the last summer I played Little League baseball, at which I was even more inept than the Cubs. As one hot day followed another, I eagerly listened to the radio, reluctantly did farm work and took saxophone lessons, and certainly looked forward to returning to school—the eighth grade—in a couple of weeks.

August 8, 1974: Fate

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(Pictured: Stills, Young, Nash, and Crosby onstage in the summer of 1974.)

August 8, 1974, was a Thursday. Britain, Greece, and Turkey begin a second round of negotiations in Geneva over the fate of Cyprus, which had been invaded by Turkey last month after a Greek-backed coup overthrew the island nation’s government. New Yorkers are buzzing about stuntman Phillippe Petit, who eluded security at the World Trade Center and walked a tightrope between the two towers yesterday. In Wenatchee, Washington, investigation and cleanup continue after a railroad tank car explosion killed two and injured 66 on Tuesday. Illinois governor Dan Walker draws the first winning numbers in the new Illinois State Lottery at the State Fair in Springfield. In Georgia, Savannah State College holds its 110th commencement exercises.

Howie Pollet, star pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1940s, dies at age 53, and Nuremberg defendant Baldur von Schirach, one-time head of the Hitler Youth, dies at age 66. Future MMA fighter Mike Budnik is born. National Football League players continue a strike that began last month over a rule restricting player movement from team to team. The inaugural season of the World Football League continues; reports today claim that the league’s robust attendance figures are inflated and the vast majority of fans get in free; tonight in Jacksonville, over 43,000 watch the hometown Sharks get a last-second win over the Hawaiians 21-14. In today’s Peanuts strip, Sally channels Theodore Roosevelt to ward off a playground bully. The People’s Republic of Congo issues a stamp commemorating the joint Apollo-Soyuz space mission that will take place in 1975. In Washington, the design of what will become the Hart Senate Office Building is approved. Vice-President Gerald Ford awards the Congressional Medal of Honor to Army Lieutenant Loren Hagen of Fargo, North Dakota; Hagen was killed in action in 1971 and his father accepts the medal.

President Nixon is up before 4AM meeting with aides and making phone calls. He arrives in the Oval Office at 9AM, gets a haircut at 10:15, and spends the rest of the day in brief meetings and calls with staffers, attorneys, and members of Congress, pausing at 5:30 to veto an ag bill. At 8 in the evening, he meets with a large congressional delegation, and at 9:01 Eastern time goes on TV to announce that he will resign the next day. Network primetime schedules are disrupted by the resignation news; earlier in the day, the three broadcast networks scheduled 18 game shows and 13 soap operas, although resignation news preempted some of them. Liza Minnelli plays the Great Allentown Fair in Allentown, Pennsylvania; her show is delayed so that Nixon’s resignation speech can be broadcast over the sound system. Joni Mitchell plays Pine Knob Music Theater in suburban Detroit, where she announces Nixon’s resignation to the crowd.

Johnny Cash plays Las Vegas, and Crosby Stills Nash and Young play Jersey City, New Jersey. An unknown California rock band called Van Halen plays another of its regular gigs at Gazzari’s in West Hollywood. At WCFL in Chicago, “Annie’s Song” by John Denver is #1, knocking “Rock Your Baby” by George McCrae to #3. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” by Elton John is at #2. The hottest record on the chart is “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies, leaping to #5 from #16. Also new in the top 10: “Wild Thing” by Fancy at #10. Also making a big move: “Machine Gun” by the Commodores, from #24 to #14. The #1 album at WCFL is Elton John’s Caribou. WCFL afternoon jock Larry Lujack is pictured on the back of the station’s survey alongside ads for Cruz Garcia Real Sangria and Unguentine aerosol for sunburn.

Perspective From the Present: I spent much of the resignation week with my grandparents, who had sold their farm and moved to town earlier in the year. I devoured the newspapers and watched everything that was on TV, including Nixon’s speech on the night of the 8th and the coverage of his departure the next day. Although I was only 14, I knew what I was seeing was like nothing else in American history, traumatic and sad but at the same time an example of the way the world is supposed to work: great wrongs do not go unpunished, and those who perpetrate them get the comeuppance they deserve, one way or another. It doesn’t work that way anymore, and it didn’t always work that way then, either. In 1974, however, it did.

August 3, 1979: Completely Freaked Out

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(Pictured: Yaphet Kotto, Sigourney Weaver, and Ian Holm in Alien, 1979.)

August 3, 1979, was a Friday. Headlines on the morning papers include a government report that blames operator error for the Three Mile Island nuclear accident last spring. Investigators say that operators interfered with automated safety procedures that would have minimized the accident if left alone. Also in today’s headlines: New York Yankees catcher, team captain, and 1976 American League Most Valuable Player Thurman Munson died in a private plane crash yesterday in Ohio. He was 32. Today’s Yankees game against the Baltimore Orioles goes on as scheduled at Yankee Stadium. The Orioles win 1-0. Also today, President Jimmy Carter swears in Patricia Harris as his new Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Harris moves over from the top position in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Harris move is part of the cabinet shakeup Carter launched on July 18. Provincial elections are held in Iran to select members for a new national council to advise Ayatollah Khomeini and other leaders. Many major parties and candidates have dropped out, calling the elections “undemocratic and unlawful.”

On Navy Pier at Chicago’s lakefront, Chicagofest opens its 10-day run. The second edition of the annual festival was in jeopardy for a while earlier this year after cost overruns in 1978, but Mayor Jane Byrne was forced to back down from her proposal to replace the fest with a series of smaller neighborhood festivals. There are eight stages, each representing a different genre. Tonight, the rock stage is headlined by Jay Ferguson, the jazz stage by McCoy Tyner, the folk stage by Tom Paxton, and the country stage by the Dirt Band. Muddy Waters plays the blues stage, and he is joined by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the Blues Brothers. Main stage headliners during the fest include Bobby Vinton, a triple bill of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Fats Domino, the Charlie Daniels Band with Dr. Hook, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson on separate nights, Shaun Cassidy, Helen Reddy with Jim Stafford, and Chicago with Orleans. Several Chicago radio stations will broadcast from the festival, and The Mike Douglas Show will be taped at Chicagofest on weekdays. Over 100,000 advance tickets have been sold at $3.50 each. Admission at the gate will be $5.

Future actress Evangeline Lilly is born. The Muppet Movie, Woody Allen’s Manhattan, and North Dallas Forty, starring Nick Nolte, open in theaters this weekend. So do The Amityville Horror and The Wanderers, which is advertised with a pull quote from a Newsweek review calling it “Grease with brass knuckles.” During the day, the three broadcast networks air 11 soaps and 10 game shows along with repeats of Laverne and Shirley, All in the Family, and M*A*S*H. Shows on TV tonight include Diff’rent Strokes, Hello Larry, The Rockford Files, and Welcome Back Kotter. Following the late local news, ABC shows 15 minutes of highlights from the PGA Championship golf tournament. (Ben Crenshaw holds a one-shot lead after the second round; he will lose a three-hole playoff to Australian David Graham on Sunday.) ABC follows the golf with a repeat of highlights from California Jam II, a rock concert held in March 1978, starring Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Heart, Foreigner, and others.

At WLS in Chicago, “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer hold at #1 and #2 on the survey that will come out tomorrow. At #3, Cheap Trick swaps positions with Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” now at #4. No song among the station’s top 12 moves more than one position up or down. The biggest mover within the survey is “My Sharona” by the Knack, up 15 spots to #16. (The debut album from the Knack is new at #1, knocking Cheap Trick at Budokan to #3; Supertramp’s Breakfast in America holds at #2.) Barbra Streisand’s “The Main Event/Fight,” the title song from her current movie with Ryan O’Neal, is up to #24 from #38. “When You’re in Love With a Beautiful Woman” by Dr. Hook is up to #30 from #41.

Perspective From the Present: I have written elsewhere that in the summer of 1979 I worked Saturdays and Sundays at KDTH in Dubuque and bunked with a couple of college friends on Saturday nights. One weekend—and we might as well call it the weekend that started on Friday, August 3—we went to see Alien, which had been in theaters all summer. It was the first movie we’d ever seen with a soundtrack in stereo. When the alien sneaked up on somebody from behind and we heard the sound behind us before we saw it, we were completely freaked out. Moviegoers take such effects for granted now, but when they were new, well, damn.

July 31, 1976: A Laugher

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(Pictured: a streaker interrupts the closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Montreal on July 31, 1976, because of course he did.)

July 31, 1976, was a Saturday. In Colorado, a foot of rain falls in the mountains, causing a flood in Big Thompson Canyon that kills 150 people. Barry Manilow plays Philadelphia, where health officials are struggling to figure out what mysterious disease sickened over 200 people and killed 34 during an American Legion bicentennial gathering a few days earlier. It’s been nicknamed “legionnaire’s disease.” NASA releases a photo taken by the Viking Mars probe before it landed on July 20. It seems to show a face on the Martian surface, but NASA says it’s merely a rock formation and nothing mysterious. A UFO is sighted in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Louisiana adopts petrified palm wood as its official state fossil. The Montreal Olympics are coming to an end, as an East German marathoner wins the gold in the final event of the games, and six athletes, five Romanians and a Russian, defect to Canada. The Green Bay Packers play the earliest preseason game in their history, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-16. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the first game in their history, losing to the Los Angeles Rams, 26-3. Future pro football player Marty Booker is born.  NBC airs the first-season finale of its new weekend late-night show, NBC’s Saturday Night, hosted by Kris Kristofferson. (His wife, Rita Coolidge, is the musical guest.) Sketches include “Samurai General Practitioner” and “Gynecologist Blind Date,” with Kristofferson and Jane Curtin. Other TV programs on the air that night include the syndicated soap Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and The Invasion of Johnson County, a western starring Bill Bixby.

Elvis Presley, on his last tour, plays Hampton Roads, Virginia. Eric Clapton plays London. Jethro Tull plays Tampa, Florida. On the Billboard singles chart dated July 31, “Kiss and Say Goodbye” by the Manhattans is spending its second week at #1; “Love Is Alive” by Gary Wright is #2; Starbuck’s “Moonlight Feels Right” is at #3; At #4 it’s “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band. The Beatles and the Beach Boys are back-to-back at #7 and #8, with “Got to Get You Into My Life” and “Rock and Roll Music,” the first time both bands have been in the Top 10 at the same time since 1966. New in the Top 40 are “Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac, “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry, “Who’d She Coo” by the Ohio Players, “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band, and War’s “Summer.” Two versions of Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” are bubbling under the Top 40—one is the 1967 original, the other is a new recording from the hit movie of the same name. New on the Hot 100 that week: “Still the One” by Orleans and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult. George Benson’s Breezin’ tops the album chart.

Perspective From the Present: The Green County Fair was going on in my hometown that week, and on Saturday night I would certainly have been there. And I was probably in a pretty good mood. The previous night, our Church League softball team had enjoyed a rare laugher, a 16-to-1 victory over Washington Township. I found time to listen to American Top 40 on that weekend, probably on Sunday night, probably on WROK from Rockford, Illinois—and I would probably have had to try and pick out the last few songs through the static after the station cut its power at sundown. I had been rooting for “I’ll Be Good to You” by the Brothers Johnson, a favorite song of the moment, to reach #1. Maybe you had to be a 16-year-old Top 40 geek to feel the clanging sense of disappointment when it dropped to #9 this week after being stuck at #3 for two weeks, destined never to make the top.