For those of you just joining, this is another collection of journal notes from the early '90s that I kept, along with current commentary on them to add the perspective that hindsight provides. Or something like that...
Fri. November 8, 1991: “You want to know how popular Magic Johnson is—his disclosure [that he was HIV-positive] on Thursday was front-page news in Israel, Japan and Australia. It even netted a 15-minute NBC special following the 10:00 news.”
Would any of us have believed then that Magic Johnson would still be alive—let alone active and healthy—19 years later? Easy to forget that this story dominated the headlines for weeks just like the Tiger Woods scandal last winter did.
Thu. November 14, 1991: [Here I was describing the debut of Michael Jackson’s “Black Or White” video:] “…the music stops and Michael morphs from a panther into himself and starts dancing with no music, grabs his crotch several times, jacks off on camera (Pee-Wee Herman was busted for less than this), and then vandalizes an abandoned car. What does it all mean, Michael? By the way, he’s looking whiter and whiter every day. At one point in the video, he looks like Diana Ross, too.”
Sat. November 16, 1991: “Michael Jackson issued a statement regarding his crotch-grabbing and car-smashing in his video. He announced that said scenes would be deleted from the video, and that he was surprised and sorry that some viewers were offended by them. Come on, Michael, you’re not that stupid! You knew what you were doing when you filmed the damn thing. Get real!”
It was at this point that Jacko started losing me. Then a couple years later, of course, the shit really hit the fan when allegations started flying like chairs at the “Geraldo” show about things MJ did with young boys. The long steady decline was well underway in 1991…
Wed. December 4, 1991: “The alleged rape victim in the William Kennedy Smith thing took the stand today. They showed her testimony on CNN, with her face blotted out by a big grey dot.”
Remember what a big hoop-de-doo that circus was? Plenty of talk about it around the water cooler at work, that’s for sure.
Thu. December 19, 1991: “Her name is Patricia Bowman. She was the “alleged victim” in the William Kennedy Smith rape trial. She went public with her name and her face during an interview on ABC’s "Prime-Time Live" with Diane Sawyer. "I am not a blue blob," she said.
No, darlin’ you weren’t—you were a grey dot!
Fri. December 27, 1991: “CBS relieved Jack Buck from his duties as baseball play-by-play announcer, and they’re replacing him with Sean McDonough, son of NBC NFL analyst Will McDonough. Ted Shaker, CBS executive producer said McDonough had a better TV background than Buck.”
Whatchutalkin’ ‘bout, Ted? Jack Buck had probably been doing television as long as Sean McDonough had been alive by then (he was 29 at the time). Jack deserved better anyway—CBS’s baseball coverage sucked. As for McDonough, his bland, sleep-inducing milquetoast announcing style has never impressed me all these years.
Sat. December 28, 1991: “Alabama beat Colorado 30-25 in the second annual Blockbuster Bowl in Miami. During the post-game interviews, a Denver TV crew apparently caught one of the Buffs in the buff. KMGH, Channel 7, the Denver CBS affiliate, was conducting player interviews in the locker room, and one of the Colorado players wandered into view with his manhood exposed. Maybe they should’ve retitled the newscast "The Dong Show"!”
I remember driving around in my car that night and pulling in KOA-AM from Denver, and the sports-talk yakker on there was ranting about what a terrible thing this was and it was disgraceful of the TV crew to be in the locker room, etc. Dude, it was an accident—let it go, already! Of course, nowadays they stage those formal post-game press conferences (with all the corporate logo backdrops) to avoid such occurrences.
Fri. January 10, 1992: “Singer Andy Williams has apparently irked the theater operators and entertainers in the Branson area with his comments about the shows that are put on there, saying ‘…a lot of them are just crap.’ Considering that all they do is backward-ass country music shows, I imagine he’s right. Williams is opening his own $8 million Moon River Theater in Branson in May, and many of the townfolk are pissed about his remarks. Shit happens.”
Ah yes, Branson—where careers go to die. I’ve passed through Branson twice in my travels, but have yet to get the urge to actually get out of the car and visit any of the “attractions” there. Somehow, hearing that vaunted entertainer Yakov utter “Vut a country!” 80 times a night just isn’t a big draw to me. And what’s the point of having an entertainment district that doesn’t serve alcoholic beverages?
Sun. January 12, 1992: “Bret Saberhagen is making a “farewell” appearance next weekend at the Winter Card Show at the Merchandise Mart. [He’d been traded by the Royals that offseason.] Ol’ Bret will sign his autograph for you for ten bucks. Fuck you, Bret.”
Kansas City Comets autographs were always free, and they often came with a handshake and maybe a nice chat, as well. I’ve never been much of an autograph hound, anyway. They just don’t mean that much to me, and besides, anyone can scribble their name.
Fri. January 17, 1992: “Sad news: Former Elton John bassist Dee Murray died at age 45 Nashville. He’d battled with skin cancer for the past 8 years. He was one of the most underrated bassists of all-time. For that matter, the whole Elton John band was underrated.”
I’ve discussed this subject before on the blog, but it bears repeating—without Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone, Elton John’s ‘70s juggernaut wouldn’t have been nearly as prolific. Murray was kind of a stealth bassist—i.e., you didn’t always notice him—but check him out on tracks like “The Ballad of Danny Bailey” and Elton’s remake of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, where he does some standout work. Excellent backing vocalist, too. In a most classy move, his bandmate Olsson made sure to acknowledge Murray at Elton's 60th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden in 2007 by writing "Dee Murray 1946-1992" on his hi-hat drums. Rest in peace, Dee.
Wed. January 22, 1992: “The Star displayed Mr. (Hal) McRae wearing the Royals’ new road jersey. Not too bad. A definite improvement over those faggy baby blue things."
This was when the Royals switched back to grey road uni’s and 86’ed the powder blues that everyone clamors for now. I’ve never cared for that look in a baseball uniform myself—too wussy-looking for me…
Thu. January 23, 1992: “Howard Cosell says he is retiring from sports broadcasting at the end of this month. I thought he already did…”
When I worked at KKJO/KSFT in St. Joseph in 1988-89, a couple times I wound up doing the Sunday morning shift, which entailed running several religious and public affairs programs, including ol’ Howie’s weekly ABC show on which he discussed political and social issues with various talking heads, and it was the most interminable 30 minutes this side of a TV fishing and/or hunting show. He was such a bitter old fuck at that point had pretty much ceased doing sports by then anyway, and he sounded so bored on this particular show—I kept praying that Dandy Don would drop in and sing “Turn Out The Lights”! Cosell didn’t last long after he retired—he died in early 1995.
Mon. January 27, 1992: The nominees for Best Pop/Rock Album at the 1992 American Music Awards: Michael Bolton, C&C Music Factory, Natalie Cole and R.E.M.
Houston, we have a problem! I have never understood why Pop and Rock are always lumped together in the same category at award shows—they’re two different genres to me.
Tue. January 28, 1992: “Hard times will not stand,”—Pres. George Herbert Walker Bush
Gotta give credit where credit is due—Bush Sr. was absolutely right. Hard times most certainly did not stand—they got worse, thanks to his idiot son…
Thu. January 30, 1992: “Magic Johnson now says he may return to play for the Lakers after all. ‘I’m all right (sic) to play right now, if I want to play,’ he said. Why wasn’t he alright three months ago? Frankly, I’m sick of hearing about it, now that he’s become a publicity hound like Bo Jackson. This stinks to high heaven.”
As I mentioned before, it was easy to forget what a big deal it was when Magic announced he was HIV-positive. It’s also easy to forget how much he wore out his welcome, so to speak, when he turned into a limelight junkie while all that was going on, and frankly, his sudden omnipresence in the media got old really fast, just like Tiger Woods, LeBron James and Brett Favre today.
Thu. February 20, 1992: “A Kansas City man, Bonar Menninger, has proposed a new theory in the JFK controversy—an accident! In his book, Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK, Menninger claims that a Secret Service Agent, standing on the back seat of the car that trailed Kennedy’s limo accidentally fired the rifle he was handling as he reacted to the shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald. Uh huh…”
So much for all that lone gunman theory crap, eh? Don’t you wish we had camera phones back then so we could solve this mystery once and for all?
Sunday, February 23, 1992: “Anti-abortion weirdos picketed the home of a Leawood doctor today, shouting “baby killer”, “murderer” and other righteous banalities. Trouble is, the doctor they were picketing was a rheumatologist, and not the OB/Gyn they were targeting! Dr. Arnold Katz, the wrong doctor, said this is the second time this has happened.”
These nut-jobs are so ignorant they can’t even picket the right house! Another reason why I just can’t take these genetic defectives seriously…
Tue. February 25, 1992: “Natalie Cole won 7—count ‘em—7 Grammys for a remake of a 42-year-old song (“Unforgettable”), including Record of The Year, Album of The Year, Best Song, Producer of The Year, Best Engineered Album and Best Tradition Pop Performance.”
No disrespect intended toward Ms. Cole, but does this not say it all about the Grammy Awards? You’d think such a highly-awarded recording would still be highly thought-of today, but it’s basically been forgotten. The Grammys are all politics anyway.
[WARNING: This next one contains religious commentary—skip it if you’re easily offended.]
Wed. February 26, 1992: “Colorado football coach Bill McCartney has founded a group called Promise Keepers, in an effort to encourage more ‘moral Christian behavior’. They are planning a gathering in July at Folsom Field based on the theme ‘What Makes A Man’. The group hopes to train the men who attend the event to ‘walk in Christian masculinity’, and to become ‘promise keepers to the Lord’. The gathering is intended to help men ‘honor their wives, care for their children, support their churches, be involved in their communities and to love the neglected and fatherless.’ This is the same man whose daughter got knocked-up [out-of-wedlock] by his star quarterback Sal Aunese a few years back, and Mr. Aunese was practically canonized for being such a fine, upstanding young man. McCartney has also been outspoken against homosexuality, calling it ‘an abomination of almighty God’, and a matter of choice, rather than genetics. By the way, it’ll cost $35 a head to get in to this gathering. Is the University of Colorado not a state-funded school, and is this not a religious gathering? What happened to separation of church and state? What a crock, and what a hypocrite!”
My opinion of McCartney and Promise Keepers hasn’t changed much in 18 years—I think they’re big-time hypocrites and a bunch of homophobic bigots, to boot. One of the things that truly turns me off to organized religion is the mob attitude that it fosters and promotes—the group mentality that demands conformity. Too many of these people let the Bible and/or some so-called religious “leader” make all their decisions for them. Sorry folks, but no kingdom reigns over me—I actually dare to be a free-thinking individual.
Thu. February 27, 1992: “Jenny Jones discussed her problems with her breast implants on her TV show. She had it done about 12 years ago, when they were first introduced, and she’s had problems with them hardening up, leaking, etc. Interesting program, in light of all the media attention lately on breast implants.”
Believe it or not, I watched “The Jenny Jones Show” when it first debuted. For the first year or so, it was actually a decent show with interesting and thought-provoking discussions. Little did we know what a sleazy crapfest this thing would devolve into. Even Jones herself wasn’t initially comfortable with doing Jerry Springer-style subject matter, and she was like, “I can’t believe I’m asking you this, but…” early on when the show lowered its standards. But as soon as her ratings soared, she got real comfortable with topics like “I’m Having Sex With My Nazi Lesbian Midget Daughter”, et al. JJ also resorted to the “ambush-style” technique on the show, which resulted in the death of Scott Amadure, a gay guest who confessed his love on national TV for the guy who subsequently murdered him. Jones has shown little or no remorse for any of this. Twit.
Thu. March 12, 1992: “In what may be the scandal of the year, an embarrassed House of Reps. voted unanimously to publicly identify 355 current and former members who bounced checks at the chamber’s bank. Offenders rushed to confess overdrafts even before the vote. Originally, House Speaker Tom Foley wanted to identify only the 24 worst offenders, but he and other leading Democrats gave in to intense public pressure and Republicans crying cover-up.”
Anybody remember this? Anyone remember the public outrage at the time? No? It figures—America has such short memories when it comes to stuff like this. This was a big mega-stink for about a week. Every last one of those fuckers who bounced those checks should’ve been voted out of office, but as usual in the U.S. of A., all was forgotten by election time, and many of these schlubs got re-elected. Is it any wonder Congress is so fucked-up today? They can get away with most anything!
Thu. March 12, 1992: “The FCC voted today to let financially successful broadcast owners buy more radio stations. The FCC will now allow one company to own 30 AM 30 FM stations nationwide, instead of restricting owners to 12 of each, with only one of each in a single market. A company will now be able to buy from three to six in a single market, depending on the size of the community. This will definitely change the face of radio as we know it.”
Again for one of the rare times, I was accurately prophetic. This was, in effect, the “Day the Music Died”, Episode 2. It was the birth of the “Corporate Radio” malaise that now infects terrestrial radio wherein all the stations sound the same and play the same 500 songs over and over ad nauseam. Damn you, FCC!
Tue. March 17, 1992: “Three members of Bush’s cabinet, including defense secretary Dick Cheney, acknowledged that they were among the check-bouncers in the House bank.”
The Big Dick did something crooked and underhanded? Naw, couldn’t possibly be true…