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

Jul 1, 2019

Topics: The Cold War, Run-DMC, New Edition, Bill Cosby (Himself), Eddie Murphy (Delirious). (Bonus Artist: Luck Pacheco)

1983 Notes
1. Ronald Reagan President
2. Feb - The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, setting a record for most-watched television broadcast in American history.
3. Mar - Strategic Defense Initiative: U.S. President Ronald Reagan makes his initial proposal to develop technology to intercept enemy missiles. The media dub this plan "Star Wars".
4. Mar - Michael Jackson performs the dance move that will forever be known as the "moonwalk" at Motown 25.
5. Apr - The April 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing in Beirut kills 63 people.
6. Sep - Cold War: Korean Air Lines Flight 007 is shot down by a Soviet Union jet fighter when the commercial aircraft enters Soviet airspace. All 269 on board are killed including U.S. Congressman Larry McDonald.
7. Sep - Vanessa Lynn Williams becomes the first African American to be crowned Miss America, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
8. Oct - United States troops invade Grenada at the behest of Eugenia Charles of Dominica, a member of the Organization of American States.
9. Oct - Microsoft Word is first released.
10. Nov - The first United States cruise missiles arrive at Greenham Common Airbase in England amid protests from peace campaigners.
11. Dec - Michael Jackson's music video for "Thriller" is broadcast for the first time. It becomes the most often repeated and famous music video of all time, increasing his own popularity and record sales of the album "Thriller".
12. Misc.: McDonald's introduces the McNugget and The Cabbage Patch Kids dolls make their national debut, their popularity leads to the Cabbage Patch riots.
13. Top 3 Pop Songs
14. 1 - "Every Breath You Take", The Police
15. 2 - "Billie Jean", Michael Jackson
16. 3 - "Flashdance... What a Feeling", Irene Cara
17. Record of the Year: "Beat It" – Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones
18. Album of the Year: Thriller – Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones
19. Song of the Year: "Every Breath You Take" – The Police Sting (songwriter)
20. Best New Artist: Culture Club
21. Top 3 Movies
22. 1 - Return of the Jedi
23. 2 - Terms of Endearment
24. 3.    Flashdance
25. Top 3 TV
26. 1 - Dallas
27. 2 - 60 Minutes
28. 3 - Dynasty
29. Debuts: The A-Team / Webster
30. Black Snapshots
31. Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female: Chaka Khan – Chaka Khan
32. Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male: "Billie Jean" – Michael Jackson
33. Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: "Ain't Nobody" – Chaka Khan & Rufus
34. Best R&B Instrumental Performance: "Rockit" – Herbie Hancock
35. Best Rhythm & Blues Song: "Billie Jean" – Michael Jackson
36. Best Comedy Recording: "Eddie Murphy", Comedian – Eddie Murphy (Also shows up in TV)
37. Apr - Harold Lee Washington became the first African American Mayor of Chicago.
38. Aug - STS-8: Space Shuttle Challenger carries Guion S. Bluford (Col, USAF, Ret.), the first African American astronaut, into space.
39. Nov - Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall of Indiana (a black woman), to create a federal holiday honoring MLK Jr. Although the federal holiday honoring King was signed into law in 1983 and took effect three years later, not every U.S. state chose to observe the holiday at the state level until 1991.
40. Nov - Jessie Jackson announced his campaign for President of the United States in the 1984 election, becoming the second African American (after Shirley Chisholm) to mount a nationwide campaign for president.
41. Sept - Vanesa Williams becomes the first African American recipient of the Miss America title.
42. Misc.: The Color Purple wins the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction.
43. The Women of Brewster Place is the debut novel of American author Gloria Naylor. It won the 1983 National Book Award for "First Novel".
44. “Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?”, Maya Angelou's fourth volume of poetry, is published.
45. Nikki Giovanni publishes her 9th poetry collection, "Those Who Ride The Night Winds". Included are poems about John Lennon, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, as well as friends, lovers, mothers, and the poet herself.
46. Economic Snapshots
47. New House: 82k
48. Avg Income: 21k
49. New Car: 9k
50. Avg. Rent: 350
51. Tuition to Harvard: 8K
52. Movie Ticket: 2.50
53. Gas: 1.20
54. Stamp: 20c
55. Social Scene: The Cold War Becomes A Real Thing for Gen X.
56. Brief Overview - []
57. The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as Star Wars because it promoted ideas such as lasers and computer-guided projectiles, was the US response to possible nuclear attacks and it was introduced on March 23, 1983 during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
58. The objective of the SDI program was to develop an advanced anti-ballistic missile system to enable the United States to prevent missile attacks from the USSR and other countries during the Cold War.
59. The idea was to set up many space satellites that would detect the launch, and then shoot down, any enemy missiles.
60. The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was cancelled in 1993 and replaced with the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) renamed the Missile Defense Agency in 2002.
61. 10 SDI Highlights
62. #1: Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was the military strategy adopted during the Cold War Arms Race. It assumed that both the USSR and the US would refrain from launching nuclear weapons, knowing that the other country would retaliate and cause the complete nuclear annihilation of both the attacker and the defender.
63. #2: The Strategic "Defense" Initiative program focused on strategic defense and replaced the "Offensive" doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD).
64. #3: SDI became the subject of intense political controversy. A Washington Post article published the day after the speech, quoted Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy describing the proposal as "reckless Star Wars schemes."
65. #4: Critics in the media used that term frequently (despite Reagan's request that they use the program's official name), implying it was an impractical science fiction. This did much damage the program's credibility.
66. #5: Many critics believed that it would extend the arms race into space and cause the USSR to expand its own offensive nuclear weapons.
67. #6: SDI began extremely expensive research projects costing billions of dollars every year. The research projects included space-based laser weapons, spy satellites and space-based interceptors.
68. #7: In response to the US research projects, the Soviets began work on developing their own version of Strategic Defense Initiative.
69. #8: The efforts by the Soviet Union to match the expenditure of the U.S. in the Cold War Arms Race contributed greatly to nation's economic problems.
70. #9: Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev realized that the USSR could not afford the Cold War Arms Race or match the massive expenditure involved in the US Strategic Defense Initiative. In 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev fell from power and the Soviet Union was dissolved.
71. #10: The SDI had itself become an economic weapon and was instrumental in causing the downfall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. 
72. Audio Clip:
73. Question: Do you think the threat of Nuclear War has grown or shrunk during your lifetime?
74. Music Scene
75. Top R&B Singles (from Billboard's Year-End Top 40 Pop Songs)
76. #2 - "Billie Jean", Michael Jackson
77. #3 - "Flashdance... What a Feeling", Irene Cara
78. #5 - "Beat It", Michael Jackson
79. #7 - "Maneater", Hall & Oates
80. #8 - "Baby, Come to Me", Patti Austin and James Ingram
81. #15 - "She Works Hard for the Money", Donna Summer
82. #25 - "Little Red Corvette"    Prince
83. #29 - "You"    Lionel Richie
84. #32 - "Sexual Healing"    Marvin Gaye
85. #29 - “One on One"    Hall & Oates
86. #41 - "1999"    Prince
87. Other Notable 1983 R&B Singles
88. Apr - "Atomic Dog", George Clinton
89. May - "Candy Girl", New Edition
90. May - "Save the Overtime (For Me)", Gladys Knight and the Pips
91. Jun - "Juicy Fruit", Mtume
92. Oct - "Ain't Nobody", Rufus & Chaka Khan
93. Oct - "All Night Long (All Night)", Lionel Richie
94. Dec - "Time Will Reveal", DeBarge
95. Vote
96. Top R&B Albums (from Billboard's number-one R&B albums)
97. Jan - Midnight Love, Marvin Gaye
98. Jan - Thriller, Michael Jackson
99. Jul - Between the Sheets, The Isley Brothers
100. Jul - Thriller, Michael Jackson
101. Sep - Cold Blooded, Rick James
102. Nov - Can't Slow Down, Lionel Richie
103. Vote
104. Key Artist #1: Run - DMC
105. Run (Joseph Simmons) @ 19 yrs old / DMC (Darryl McDaniels) @ 19 yrs old / Jam Master Jay (Jason Mizell) @ 18 yrs old
106. The trio grew up in Hollis, Queens, a moderately stable African American community in New York. / DMC was born to a teenage mother and was adopted three months later.
107. Run and DMC were childhood friends
108. 1978: JMJ discovers the turntable at age 13. By age 14 he is spinning for live crowds at block parties.
109. 1980: The trio met via the emerging hip-hop scene at Hollis' "Two-Fifths Park". Simmons and McDaniels rapped in front of Mizell at the park, and the three became friends. 
110. 1981: Fortunately for them, Run’s older brother, Russell Simmons, had his foot in the music business, as the manager for rappers Kurtis Blow and Whodini. Russell made Run Kurtis Blow's DJ and helped him record the single “Street Kid,” but it went nowhere. Later that year, the friends decide to become a crew.
111. 1982: Russell agreed to help the new group record a single and get a record deal, but on one condition –McDaniels change his stage name, from “Easy D” to “D.M.C.”
112. 1983: Run DMC hit the scene with their debut 12-inch single for “It’s Like That,” with “Sucker MCs” as the B-side. The out-of-the-box success of these two songs was the beginning of a new era for hip-hop.
113. Run-D.M.C. exploded out of Hollis, changing popular culture in general. Not only was their sound different, so was their dress. Earlier rap stars fashioned their looks after the spangled superhero costumes of 1970s funk acts like Parliament-Funkadelic and Rick James, Run-DMC appeared in their signature bowler hats, black leather jackets, unlaced Adidas athletic shoes, and black denim pants, establishing the more casual look of hip urban youth.
114. They were the first rappers to have a gold album - Run-D.M.C. (1984). The first rap act to appear on MTV, becoming popular with the cable channel’s largely white audience with their fusion of hip-hop and guitar solos on hits such as “Rock Box” (1984) and a 1986 remake of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”.
115. Although the group never officially disbanded, their recording and performing activities decreased significantly in the 1990s and in 2002 Jam Master Jay was fatally shot at a recording studio in Jamaica, Queens.
116. Run-DMC was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009 and received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2016.
117. Meanwhile, up the coast near Boston… In 1978, Robert Barisford Brown (@ 9 yrs old), Michael Lamont Bivins (@ 10 yrs old), and Ricardo "Ricky" Bell (@ 11 yrs old) started a vocal group.
118. Ricardo’s friend Ralph Edward Tresvant (@10 yrs old), and the nephew of the group’s manager and choreographer, Ronald Boyd DeVoe Jr. (@11 yrs old) soon joined.
119. Key Artists #2: New Edition
120. For a complete history go watch "The New Edition Story" on BET 
121. But the short story is this...They all lived in the Orchard Park Projects in Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, and where heavily influenced by Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5. 
122. They scored its big break in 1981, when they finished 2nd in a local talent show. They impressed the singer/producer Maurice Starr, and he brought the group to his studio the following day and started recording their debut album, Candy Girl.
123. Audio Clip
124. Question: These two groups are primarily responsible for hip-hop crossing over to rock and R&B, and therefore a wider and whiter audience. Has that been a good thing? 
125. Movie Scene
126. Bill Cosby: Himself
127. After I Spy and before The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby left his own inimitable mark on the arena of stand-up comedy in this live concert showcasing his down-to-earth observations on the rigors and joys of family life. Cosby, using only a microphone and a chair, discusses his take on raising kids and the illogical nature of children and the futility of trying to argue with a child that in the end may be smarter than you. Notable highlights include Cosby's ruminations on the meaning of the all-purpose phrase "I don't know" to kids, and Cosby describing the effect raising children has on his wife Camille's mental state and the pitch of her voice. Containing the basis for the humor of his long-running situation comedy, Bill Cosby: Himself is a polished, occasionally insightful, and frequently hilarious night of comedy from one of the longtime masters of the form. --Robert Lane:
128. Born poor, the son of a sailor and a maid, he excelled at school, in both sport and academic study, becoming class president and winning a university scholarship while doing part-time jobs to help support his family. Giving all that up, he instantly became successful as a comedian, going on to be the first African American to star in a network TV series (I Spy), as well as the first to win an acting Emmy (three of them, plus one for variety shows and nine Grammies). By the time this performance was recorded, he had completed a doctorate in education, and was about to launch The Cosby Show, the decade's biggest sitcom, which would make him the best-paid entertainer in the world for two years running (1986 and 1987). He also sings and can play jazz guitar and drums. At 75, he's still extremely funny. -
129. Television Scene
130. Delirious (1983) is an American stand-up comedy television special directed by Bruce Gowers, written by and starring Eddie Murphy. The comedy became a TV Special for HBO released August 30, 1983.Eddie Murphy in stand-up before all the prosthetic flesh happened. For a generation of naughty schoolboys, this was the video to have; no parent-free gathering or playground conversation was complete without repeating some of Eddie’s profanity-strewn, impression-laden genius. The homophobic opening gambit and an alarmingly ignorant bit on AIDS are jaw-dropping, but there’s no denying Murphy’s supreme on-stage talent — when he’s on more timeless material (ice cream, cookouts, shoe-throwing mothers), few in the world were ever as funny as this. It’s easy to forget how funny Murphy's stand-up really was. Despite being a little dated in subject, this still slays. -
131. “The most homophobic standup routine I’ve ever seen,” says another. “Can’t believe all the messed-up things he says about AIDS, including saying how you’ll catch AIDS from your girlfriend if she kisses her gay friend. 80s hateful prejudice in full force.”
132. Murphy apologized for the routine back in 1996, saying, “I deeply regret any pain all this has caused. Just like the rest of the world, I am more educated about AIDS in 1996 than I was in 1981. ”I know how serious an issue AIDS is the world over. I know that AIDS isn’t funny. It’s 1996 and I’m a lot smarter about AIDS now. I am not homophobic, and I am not anti-gay. My wife and I have donated both time and money to AIDS research. I’ve had people close to me die from the disease as well. I don’t know a person who hasn’t been touched in some way by this disease. Everybody knows somebody who is sick. Black people have been hit harder by this disease than any other group of people on the planet.” -
133. Question: Does he get a pass?
134. The A-Team
135. Four Vietnam vets, framed for a crime they didn't commit, help the innocent while on the run from the military. It’s THE A-TEAM
136. Led by master of disguise, Lieutenant Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith played by the gruff but loveable George Peppard, this group of falsely convicted commandos now work as fugitive mercenaries. Dirk Benedict is the team’s master manipulator and con man, Templeton “Face” Peck. Dwight Schultz plays the certifiable master aviator, Captain H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock. And you can’t spell The A-Team without Mr. T as master mechanic, Mohawked muscle man, and van driver (with a serious fear of flying), Bosco “B.A.” (“Bad Attitude”) Baracus. But enough jibba jabba. Tune in and watch the plan come together, fool!
137. The show ran for five seasons, with several minor cast changes along the way; the show's eventual decline was attributed to the constantly recycled and extremely formulaic plot. Attempts to win viewers back, by both changing the overall premise and having the A-Team overseen by a former antagonist, worked for only a short while.
138. Logic and credibility were usually ignored for the series' trademark over-the-top explosions, but the show never took itself particularly seriously, anyway: most of Hannibal's disguises were paper-thin, the villains were usually mostly-inept and somewhat one-dimensional, and the weapons that the Team cobbled together from miscellaneous parts were invariably more effective than the machine guns that the episode's villains used.
139. A big-screen version was released in June 2010, with Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley and Quinton Jackson as the team. The trailer can be seen on YouTube. Tropes go to the respective page.
140. Question: Does anybody care?
141. Webster
142. The post-retirement season is suddenly disrupted for football player George Papadapolis and his wife Katherine when Webster, the orphaned son of a former teammate, moves in. Laughter, and life lessons, in every episode. Webster was ABC's answer to the long-running NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes ... especially with its showcase star and even down to the basic concept (a young African American child being adopted by a white family).
143. The showcase star on Webster was Emmanuel Lewis, who played the title character. At 4-foot-3, the 12-year-old Lewis easily passed for 6 or 7 (the character's age at the start of the series in 1983), which was Webster's age when he was adopted by 
144. Clark's production company. After the third season ended, Emmanuel Lewis Entertainment Enterprises, Inc. was established and became a third production company. This was actually part of an agreement between Karras and Clark, Paramount, and ABC, in which Emmanuel Lewis would get production credit alongside them for ABC to stop making the story lines be "all Webster, all the time. “The series ran from 1983-1987 on ABC before spending its final two first-run years in syndication. By the time the final first-run episode aired in 1989, Webster was 12 years old and getting ready to enter junior high school; in real life, Lewis had just turned 18.
145. Question: Why didn’t we riot in the streets?
146. Final Vote: Favorite pop culture event/item for 1983?