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This monthly podcast looks back at the pop culture of Generation X, from an African-American perspective.

Feb 1, 2019

Topics: Muhammad Ali, Rick James, Max Robinson (TV). (Bonus Artist: hidingtobefound)



1.    Snap Shots
2.    General News
3.    Jimmy Carter is President
4.    February
5.    The first computer bulletin board system (CBBS) is created in Chicago.  Bulletin board systems were in many ways a precursor to the modern form of the World Wide Web, social networks, and other aspects of the Internet.
6.    Serial killer Ted Bundy is captured in Florida and The Hillside Strangler of Los Angeles, (serial killing cousins) claims a 10th and final victim.
7.    April
8.    Women's Army Corps (WAC) abolished (1943-1978); women integrated into regular Army.
9.    September
10.    The Camp David Accords were signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin . The Accords led directly to the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty a year later. Due to the agreement, Sadat and Begin received the shared 1978 Nobel Peace Prize. In turn, these events led to Sadat's assassination by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad in 1981.
11.    November
12.    Mass murder/suicide of 909 Americans in Jonestown, Guyana under the direction of Jim Jones.
13.    December
14.    Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who is subsequently convicted of the murder of 33 young men, is arrested.
15.    Open Comments:
16.    Economic Snapshots
17.    Min. wage = $2.65hr (+.35) / $106wk / $5,512 yrly) - 2018 = $21,228yrly
18.    Avg. Income per year - $16,975
19.    Avg. Cost of new house - 54,749
20.    Avg. Rent - $260
21.    Avg. Cost new car - $5,405
22.    Postage Stop - $0.15
23.    Unemployment 6.4% vs Black unemployment 14.5%
24.    Open Comments:
25.    Black Snapshots
26.    February
27.    Harriet Tubman is the first African American Woman to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp.
28.    Muhammad Ali loses title to Leon Spinks 
29.    May
30.    Ain't Misbehavin' (musical) hits Broadway. Won 1978 Tony Award for Best Musical: Breakout Stars was Nell Carter (sitcom Gimme a Break!) and Irene Cara (Flash Dance: What a Feeling) and Charlayne Woodard (Janice on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air)
31.    June
32.    The SCOTUS bars quota systems in college admissions but affirms the constitutionality of programs which give advantages to minorities.
33.    July
34.    ABC World News Tonight, employing a unique three-anchor setup:  Frank Reynolds serving as lead anchor from Washington, Peter Jennings with international news from London, and Max Robinson presenting national news from Chicago. Robinson is noted as the first African-American broadcast network news anchor in the United States
35.    September
36.    Ali defeats Spinks and regained the WBA heavyweight title, becoming the first man to win the World Heavyweight Championship three times.
37.    Misc.:
38.    Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collections: Cotton Candy and Woman
39.    Open Comments:
40.    Music Snapshots
41.    Record of the Year: Billy Joel for "Just the Way You Are"
42.    Album of the Year: Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack, Various Artist
43.    Song of the Year: Billy Joel for "Just the Way You Are"
44.    Best New Artist: A Taste of Honey
45.    Top Billboard Singles
1.    Shadow Dancing", Andy Gibb
2.    "Night Fever", Bee Gees
3.    "You Light Up My Life", Debby Boone
46.    Open Comments:
47.    Movie Snapshots: Highest-grossing films
1.    Grease
2.    Superman
3.    National Lampoon's Animal House
48.    Open Comments:
49.    TV Snapshots
1.    Laverne & Shirley
2.    Three's Company
3.    Mork & Mindy
50.    Debuts
51.    September - WKRP in Cincinnati (Featuring Tim Reid as Venus Flytrap): BEST THEME SONG EVER!!!
52.    November - Diff'rent Strokes: The series stars Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges as Arnold and Willis Jackson, two Black boys from Harlem who are taken in by a rich white Park Avenue businessman and widower named Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain) and his daughter Kimberly (Dana Plato), for whom their deceased mother previously worked.
53.    Open Comments:
54.    Social Scene: Ali's Last Dance (Muhammad Ali vs. Leon Spinks I and II)
56.    Tom Gray ( - "At 36 years of age, the great Muhammad Ali was on the physical descent. The warning signs were clearly visible in prior defenses of his heavyweight championship. Jimmy Young and Ken Norton could easily have been given decisions against Ali in 1976. A European-level fighter like Alfredo Evangelista could last the distance in May 1977. And power-puncher Earnie Shavers, despite falling short on points, had inflicted 10 fights worth of damage on “The Greatest” over 15 brain-shuddering rounds that September. Ali, who should have been enjoying retirement, needed a very easy fight – enter Leon Spinks. The St. Louis product was a decorated amateur star. He had captured bronze at the World Championships in 1974, silver at the Pan-Am Games in 1975 and gold, as a light heavyweight, at the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Great stats, but, alarmingly, the challenger was bringing a (6-0-1, 5 knockouts) professional record into a heavyweight championship fight. The 24-year-old Spinks would be the most inexperienced professional to vie for the title (in 21yrs, since "1957").
57.    Spinks won a split decision
58.    The matchup would win Fight of the Year, Round of the Year (for rnd 15), and Upset of the Year awards.
59.    Aftermath: Spinks signed for a rematch with Ali at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans and was stripped of his title for refusing to fight no. 1 contender Ken Norton instead.
60.    The Rematch
61.    70,000 people attended the bout and paid a total of $6 million admission, making it the largest live gate in boxing history at that time.
62.    Ali beat Spinks in a unanimous decision.
63.    When Ali reclaimed the title, he made history by becoming the first man to win the heavyweight championship three times.
64.    After the fight, Ali retired from boxing in 1979 - for the first time.
65.    Subsequently, Ali tried 2 more comebacks: In 1980, against former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes and in 1981 against Trevor Berbick 
66.    Both were loses, 1978 rematch the last win of his boxing career.
67.    Legacy
68.    Pro Record: 61 fights / 56 wins / 5 losses [By the end of his career Ali had absorbed ~200,000 hits]
69.    Time magazine named Ali one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century / Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated / Named Sports Personality of the Century in a BBC poll / The Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton / The Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush / Sports Illustrated renamed its Sportsman Legacy Award to the Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.  (honors former "sports figures who embody the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy as vehicles for changing the world.") / Ring Magazine, named him number 1 greatest heavyweights from all eras / The Associated Press, No. 1 heavyweight of the 20th century / ESPN, the second greatest pound for pound fighter in boxing history (#1 Sugar Ray Robinson) and the second greatest heavyweights of all time, behind Joe Louis 
70.    Personally: Ali and James Brown are the only two men I think my father ever admired.
71.    Open Comments:
72.    Music Scene
73.    Billboard Year-End Top 40 Black singles of 1978
74.    #9 - "Boogie Oogie Oogie", A Taste of Honey
75.    #10 - "Three Times a Lady", Commodores
76.    #20 - "Dance, Dance, Dance", Chic
77.    #31 - "Jack And Jill", Raydio
78.    #34 - "Last Dance", Donna Summer
79.    #38 - "The Closer I Get to You", Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway
80.    Number-One R&B singles of 1978
81.    Jan - "Ffun", Con Funk Shun
82.    Jan - "Our Love", Natalie Cole
83.    Feb - "Theme Song from 'Which Way Is Up'", Stargard
84.    Feb - "Too Hot ta Trot", The Commodores
85.    Feb - "It's You That I Need", Enchantment
86.    Mar - "Flash Light”, Parliament
87.    Mar - "Bootzilla", Bootsy's Rubber Band
88.    Apr - "The Closer I Get to You", Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway
89.    Apr - "Too Much, Too Little, Too Late", Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams
90.    May - Take Me to the Next Phase (Part 1)", The Isley Brothers
91.    May - "Use ta Be My Girl", The O'Jays
92.    Jul - "Stuff Like That", Quincy Jones
93.    Jul - "Close the Door", Teddy Pendergrass
94.    Jul - "You and I", Rick James
95.    Aug - "Boogie Oogie Oogie", A Taste Of Honey
96.    Aug - "Three Times a Lady", The Commodores
97.    Aug - "Get Off", Foxy
98.    Sep - "Holding On (When Love Is Gone)", L.T.D.
99.    Sep - "Got to Get You into My Life", Earth, Wind & Fire
100.    Sep - "One Nation Under a Groove (Part 1)", Funkadelic
101.    Nov - "I'm Every Woman", Chaka Khan
102.    Dec - "Le Freak", Chic
103.    Vote:
104.    Jan - All 'N All, Earth, Wind and Fire
105.    Feb - Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack, Bee Gees
106.    Mar - Bootsy? Player of the Year, Bootsy's Rubber Band
107.    Apr - Street Player, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
108.    Apr - Weekend in L.A., George Benson
109.    May - Showdown, The Isley Brothers
110.    Jun - So Full Of Love, The O'Jays
111.    Jun - Natural High, The Commodores
112.    Aug - Life Is a Song Worth Singing, Teddy Pendergrass
113.    Sep - Blam!, The Brothers Johnson
114.    Oct - Is It Still Good to Ya, Ashford & Simpson
115.    Oct - One Nation Under a Groove, Funkadelic
116.    Nov - The Man, Barry White
117.    Dec - C'est Chic, Chic
118.    Vote:
119.    Key Artist
120.    Who: James Ambrose Johnson Jr., a.k.a. Rick James The Superfreak (@ 30 yrs old): singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, hitmaker, performer, producer, impresario, and pioneer in the fusion of funk groove and rock.  A flamboyant, provocative, charismatic, brilliant, volatile, and outrageous bona fide superstar. 
121.    Why is he being featured: Debut solo album, Come Get It!, with hit singles "You and I" & "Mary Jane"
122.    Short Story:  Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, he was one of eight children. His father was abusive and abandoned the family when James was eight. His mother was a former dancer who worked as a housekeeper, but also was a numbers runner. Went to Catholic school and was an altar boy, he also committed petty theft crimes, and spent some time in juvenile detention centers. He also began doing drugs. While James was always musically inclined, it was not until he performed in a talent show in high school that he seriously considered a career in music. He formed a group called the Duprees. At the same time, he joined the Naval Reserve to avoid the draft. As he and his group gained popularity he began to skip out on his naval duties. James was soon drafted, but he fled to Canada.  His uncle was Melvin Franklin of the Temptations. Franklin helped his nephew get a recording contract with Motown Records. This led to James striking a deal with the government and serving some time in prison for draft evasion. After his release, he began to record his first album, which included the hits "You & I," and his ode to marijuana, "Mary Jane." The album sold two million copies.
123.    James's second album, Bustin' Out of L Seven(1979), followed the previous album's success, eventually selling a million copies.
124.    His third album, Fire It Up (1979) and the supporting tour led to James developing a bitter rivalry with one of his opening acts, Prince. Rick accused Prince of ripping off his act.
125.    His fifth album, Street Songs (1981), also proved to be a crossover success. With the Temptations on background vocals, James released "Super Freak." 
126.    With the success of "Super Freak," James began to produce for other artists. He formed an all-girl band named the Mary Jane Girls. He also performed duets with R&B singer Teena Marie and Smokey Robinson. He also produced comedian Eddie Murphy's "Party All The Time," which was a hit in the mid-1980s.
127.    James' on-stage persona was one of wild debauchery. Dressed in sequins, tight leather, high-heeled boots, and cornrows or a jheri curl, James oozed sex on stage. Offstage, he smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine. According to the Washington Post, he told the Detroit News in 2004, "The biggest mistake I made is that I tried to become my alter ego. I wanted to be Rick James, wild man, party machine, lady slayer, and the cocaine told me I could. I forgot that I was James Johnson, a nerdy kid who grew up reading Dante's Inferno on Saturday nights."
128.    James' spiral out of control came to a head when he was charged with assault in 1991. He was convicted in 1993 and served three years. He vowed to get clean and live a more sedate life. Upon his release, he married and began having serious health problems.  James was found dead on August 6, 2004; he was 56.  His death was ruled accidental, but nine drugs were found in his system. However, the official cause of death was a heart attack.
129.    Open Comments:
130.    Movie Scene
131.    The Wiz: A musical adventure fantasy film based upon characters from “The Wizard of OZ” featuring an all-black cast, the film was loosely adapted from the 1974 Broadway musical of the same name. It follows the adventures of Dorothy, a shy, twenty-four-year-old Harlem schoolteacher who finds herself magically transported to the urban fantasy Land of Oz, which resembles a dream version of New York City. Befriended by a Scarecrow, a Tin Man and a Cowardly Lion, she travels through the city to seek an audience with the mysterious Wiz, who they say is the only one powerful enough to send her home.
132.    Various reviews: "...Diana Ross, too old to play Dorothy." and ...portrayal of Dorothy was "cold, neurotic and oddly unattractive" / "...cockamamy screenplay" / “the picture finished off Diana Ross's screen career" / "The Wiz was too scary for children, and too silly for adults." / Ray Bolger, who played the Scarecrow in the 1939 The Wizard of Oz film, did not think highly of The Wiz, stating "The Wiz is overblown and will never have the universal appeal that the classic MGM musical has obtained."
133.    Sean Munger - "...But, despite the fact that it was a bad movie–and it clearly is–there’s a lot of very interesting stuff about The Wiz lurking under the surface. You can make an argument that its failure ended not one but two eras in cinema: the era of the glitzy big-budget musical, and that of what is known, not entirely politically correctly (these days), as the “Blacksploitation” boom. The Wiz also began a professional association between two of its participants that had an effect on popular culture of almost inestimable magnitude: the musical pairing of Michael Jackson and songwriter/producer Quincy Jones."
134.    Open Comments:
135.    TV Scene
136.    Maxie Cleveland "Max" Robinson, Jr. (@39yrs old): American broadcast journalist and founder of the National Association of Black Journalists
137.    Robinson’s first journalism job began and ended in 1959, when he was hired to read news at a Portsmouth, Va., television station. Although the station selected him over an otherwise all-white group of applicants, it still enforced a color barrier by projecting an image of the station’s logo to conceal Robinson as he read the news. He was fired the day after he presented the news without the logo obscuring his face. In 1965 he joined WTOP-TV in Washington, D.C., as a correspondent and camera operator, but he moved quickly to nearby WRC-TV, where he won awards for coverage of race riots and a documentary on life in poor urban neighborhoods. He was hired back by WTOP as its first African American news anchor in 1969 and stayed there until 1978. Robinson moved to Chicago when ABC News chose him as one of three co-anchors for ABC’s World News Tonight. The anchor arrangement ended with the death of co-anchor Frank Reynolds in 1983. Robinson left ABC News shortly thereafter and joined Chicago’s WMAQ-TV as a news anchor (1984–87).
138.    Clarence Page offered a final tribute to his friend Max Robinson in Chicago: "Some journalists are remembered for the stories they covered. Robinson will be remembered for being the story. Like Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball's color bar in 1947, Max Robinson won't be applauded for his home runs, but for the fact that he ran the bases."
139.    Open Comments:
140.    Final Question: Biggest legacy from 1978?