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

Jan 2, 2020

Topics: 80's Tech, MC Hammer, Do The Right Thing, The Arsenio Hall Show (Bonus Artist: Luck Pacheco)

1989 Notes

1. General Snapshots

2. George Bush Sr. President

3. Feb - Barbara Harris is the first woman (and first black woman) consecrated as a bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

4. Mar - Exxon Valdez oil spill: In Alaska's Prince William Sound the Exxon Valdez spills 240,000 barrels (38,000 m3) of oil after running aground.

5. Apr - Bill White becomes president of baseball's National League, becoming the first African American to head a major sports league.

6. Apr - Trisha Meili is attacked while jogging in New York City's Central Park; as her identity remains secret for years, she becomes known as the "Central Park Jogger."

7. May - President Bush vetoes a minimum-wage bill passed by Congress on May 17 that would have increased the minimum wage to $4.55 an hour.

8. Jun - In Texas v. Johnson, the United States Supreme Court ruled that burning the Flag of the United States was protected speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

9. Jun - In Penry v. Lynaugh, the Supreme Court rules that states can execute murderers as young as 16 or who are mentally retarded.

10. Jul - In Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, the Supreme Court gives the state’s new authority to restrict abortions.

11. Aug - President Bush nominates United States Army Gen. Colin Powell as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the first African American to hold that position.

12. Aug - Hughey P. Newton was murdered in Oakland, California by Tyrone Robinson, a member of the Black Guerrilla Family.

13. Aug - Yusef Hawkins is shot in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York, sparking racial tensions between African Americans and Italian Americans.

14. Nov - Douglas Wilder wins the Virginia governor's race, becoming the first elected African American governor in the United States.

15. Nov - David Dinkins becomes the first African American mayor of New York City.

16. Nov - Congress passes legislation to raise the minimum wage from $3.35 to $4.25 an hour by April 1991. Bush signs this bill on November 17.

17. Nov - Clarence Page 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary

18. Nov - Denzel Washington: First African American actor to receive two Best Supporting Actor nominations. Cry Freedom / Glory (Won)

19. Misc.: Ron Brown is elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, becoming the first African American to lead a major United States political party.

20. Misc.: The first of 24 Global Positioning System satellites is placed into orbit.

21. Open Comments:

22. Top 3 Pop Songs

23. #1 "Look Away" Chicago

24. #2 "My Prerogative" Bobby Brown

25. #3 "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" Poison

26. Record of the Year: Bette Midler for "Wind Beneath My Wings"

27. Album of the Year: Bonnie Raitt for Nick of Time

28. Song of the Year: "Wind Beneath My Wings" performed by Bette Midler

29. Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female: Anita Baker for "Giving You the Best That I Got"

30. Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male: Bobby Brown for "Every Little Step"

31. Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal: Soul II Soul & Caron Wheeler for "Back to Life"

32. Best Rhythm & Blues Song: "If You Don't Know Me By Now" performed by Simply Red

33. Best Rap Performance: Young MC for "Bust a Move"

34. Open Comments

35. Top Movies

36. #1 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

37. #2 Batman

38. #3 Back to the Future Part II

39. Other Notables: Look Who's Talking, Dead Poets Society, Lethal Weapon 2, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Disney, Ghostbusters II, The Little Mermaid Disney, Born on the Fourth of July, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Lean on Me, Field of Dreams, Weekend at Bernie's, When Harry Met Sally..., Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Harlem Nights, The War of the Roses, Steel Magnolias, Glory, and Driving Miss Daisy*.

40. Top 3 TV Shows

41. #1 - The Cosby Show

42. #2 - Roseanne

43. #3 - Cheers

44. Debuts: Saved by the Bell, American Gladiators, Doogie Howser, M.D., Baywatch, America's Funniest Home Videos, COPS, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons

45. Economic Snapshot:

46. New Home: 120K - previously 91,777

47. Avg Rent: 425 - p. 420

48. Avg. Income: 37K - p. 24k

49. New Car: 15K - p. 10,432

50. Harvard: 12,700 - p. 12,015

51. Movie Ticket: 3.50 - same

52. Gas: .97 - p. .91

53. Stamp: .25 - same

54. Social Scene: Top Tech of The 80’s

55. Mobile Tech

56. Sony Walkman: Before the iPod effectively killed off an entire industry, the Sony Walkman was the original, must-have portable cassette player. Unlike portable radio players, the Japan-made Walkman allowed people to choose what to listen to via portable headphones, and make playlists on tape, alongside FM and AM radio frequencies. Like with Texas Instrument’s Speak and Spell, the first model hit shelves in the late 1970s, but it rose to prominence during the two decades that followed. So ubiquitous it became that the word Walkman even entered the English dictionary in 1986. The model pictured is the WM-F77.

57. Nokia-Mobira Cityman 900: These days, the mobile phone is so far advanced we barely even call it a mobile phone any more, but back in the '80s the sheer thought of carrying a phone any further than the length of a coiled plastic chord seemed fantasy at best. Then along came a handful of firms, including a certain Finnish outfit by the name of Nokia-Mobira and made portable phone calls an actual reality. Looking back the sheer size of it is almost laughable (18cm high and 760g in weight to be precise), but it was practically lightweight compared to the colossal Talkman, which weighed in at shocking 5.5kg! Still, it put Nokia on the map and set the stage for the firm's dominance to come in the late '90 and early '00s.

58. The Boombox: Much like the VHS player, the humble Boombox was more of a collective movement than the work of one particular model, but it still became one of the most iconic devices of the late '80s. Again, to keep things on message with this feature, the classic Boombox wasn't just a powerful all-in-one music player (with AM/FM radio and multiple cassette decks) it was also a portable music player (if you were willing to lug it around). While its size and battery-powered portability eventually saw it go the way of the dodo in and around the mid '90s, the 'ghetto blaster' became intertwined with the rise of hip hop in the States and secured itself a place in the annals of gadget lore.

59. Sharp pocket computer: The 1980s was the decade of the microprocessor, led by the likes of Sharp and its range of pocket computers. These gadgets resembled calculators but worked in a similar way to how we use keyboards on modern-day PCs and laptops. Below a 24-digit dot matrix LCD display sat a full QWERTY-style keyboard you could use to program BASIC code. The computer’s battery was said to last 200 hours and it even came with a connector that let you attach a printer or tape drive.

60. Epson ET-10 Pocket TV: If you haven't already twigged, there's a bit of a pattern forming with this feature - good ol' portability. From music on the move to phone calls away from home, handheld technology helped define the decade and every single one that's followed. And so, it was the turn of the humble TV, already shrinking as a regular set, to get the micro treatment. The ET-10 from Epson was one of the first, and the most popular, with its two-inch liquid crystal display offering proper TV viewing while out and about (and in a decent spot to catch the analogue signal). With a five-hour battery, the ET-10 was a proper little dynamo and foreshadowed the portable TV experience we take for granted now with tablets and smartphones.

61. Casio Databank: It’s a testament to just how cool and iconic the Casio Databank watches became - they’re still sold in various models and designs today. One of the original models of this calculator watch, the gold version of the DBC 610 (pictured), was first released in 1985 and later re-released due to popular demand. The designs of these modern versions have barely deviated from the original and still feature a membrane keyboard, with Mode and Adjust physical buttons on the side.

62. Gaming Tech

63. Nintendo Entertainment System: Another iconic Japanese import of the 1980s was the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES. A remodeled version of the company’s Family Computer, or Famicom, the 8-bit NES was originally designed to be a joint venture between Nintendo and Atari until a dispute over licensing meant Nintendo decided to go it alone. It helped lift the gaming industry out of the slump of 1983 by offering easier-to-use controllers, standardized graphics and a wider variety of game genres. It brought hugely popular arcade games, including Donkey Kong, to home TVs.

64. Nintendo Game Boy: Fresh off the success of its Nintendo Entertainment System, the Japanese giant launched a handheld version of is 8-bit console called the Nintendo Game Boy in 1989. It effectively used the same A and B controls and D pad seen on the NES, positioned below a 4.7cm x 4.3xm “pea soup” green LCD display. Using ROM cartridges also similar in design to those used on the NES, these games could be inserted and removed on the back of the device. The Game Boy ran on four AA batteries and was an incredibly robust console, making it a popular choice among kids. The Game Boy and its successor the Game Boy Color have sold in excess of 118 million units and spawned several later models, namely the Game Boy Lite and Game Boy Advance.

65. Simon: Another classic from the 1980s that is still sold today is the Simon game. Named after the Simon Says game, the toy’s premise is simple – the colored panels light up and you must repeat the pattern and tones it creates. Yet despite this simple gameplay, it was a great feat of engineering at the time of release in 1978 and became a pop culture icon during the 1980s.

66. Speak and Spell: One of the world’s first handheld PCs and gaming consoles, the educational Speak and Spell from Texas Instruments was unveiled during the 1978 Consumer Electronic Shows. Its visual display was among the first of its kind and it used interchangeable cartridges to let children play different games, aimed at helping to improve their spelling and vocabulary. It became one of the iconic toys of the 1980s until its final model was released in 1992, and its use of the first single-chip microcontroller and speech synthesizer paved the way for many of the gadgets we use today.

67. Social Media Tech

68. Polaroid Sun AF 660: Polaroid cameras have seen a resurgence of late, thanks in part to the release of a classic-looking digital model called One Step Plus. Yet the original designs, such as the Polaroid Autofocus Lightmixer 660 pictured, can still be found on auction sites selling for decent sums. Part of the Polaroid 600 series, the Autofocus 660 (also known as the AF 660) had an 116mm lens and was the first in the range to use Polaroid's patented Sonar Autofocus technology. This system used sensors to establish how far away a subject was, using sonar pulses, to achieve an accurate autofocus shot.

69. Computing Tech

70. Apple Macintosh 128K: Long before Steve Jobs debuted the iPhone on stage in Cupertino in 2007, his company specialized in personal computers. The first of which was known as the Apple Macintosh. It was later renamed the Macintosh 128K to differentiate it from its successor, the Macintosh 512K. Released to great fanfare in 1984, Alien director Ridley Scott created the now-infamous advert for the computer, broadcast during that year’s Superbowl. The Macintosh 128K got its name by the fact it ran on 128K of RAM. It had a 9in CRT monitor, single-sided floppy disk drive and featured a handle on the top that meant it could be moved from place to place.

71. Smart Home Tech

72. The Clapper: Sadly not every gadget that came out of the '80s set the precedent for a bloodline of tech to come, but hey, there's something pretty satisfying about clapping your hands (or whichever body parts you preferred using) to turn off a lamp. Plugging into a power socket in your wall, the Clapper was basically a sound activated on/off switch that could link up to devices for hours of clap-controlled hilarity. It didn't work that great and was prone to being set off by anything from coughs to dog barks. Still, it looked good in the movies, right?

73. VHS player/VCR recorder: Okay, with so many different players that helped make VHS the preferred video format in the '80s (sorry BetaMax), it's hard to nail down particular model that made all the difference, but it just goes to prove how influential those chunky video cassettes became in the '80s and '90s. From Panasonic to JVC, all the big and aspiring electronics giants had their own player and future fortunes were made as the home video entertainment market boomed. Now you could buy films and watch them in the comfort of your home own home. More importantly, you could eventually record TV content as well. Grainy compilations of Red Dwarf and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles? Yes please!

74. Only thing missing was the internet

75. Open Comments:

76. Music Scene:

77. Top Black songs from Billboard Top 40 Chart

78. #2 "My Prerogative" Bobby Brown

79. #4 "Straight Up" Paula Abdul

80. #5 "Miss You Much" Janet Jackson

81. #6 "Cold Hearted" Paula Abdul

82. #8 "Girl You Know It's True" Milli Vanilli

83. #10 "Giving You the Best That I Got" Anita Baker

84. #14 "Don't Wanna Lose You" Gloria Estefan

85. #16 "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" Milli Vanilli

86. #19 "On Our Own" Bobby Brown

87. #21 "Blame It on the Rain" Milli Vanilli

88. #25 "Like a Prayer" Madonna

89. #28 "Baby Don't Forget My Number" Milli Vanilli

90. #30 "Forever Your Girl" Paula Abdul

91. #33 "Wild Thing" Tone Lōc

92. #36 "Buffalo Stance" Neneh Cherry

93. #46 "Real Love" Jody Watley

94. Vote:

95. Top RnB Albums

96. Jan - Giving You the Best That I Got, Anita Baker

97. Jan - Karyn White, Karyn White

98. Mar - Don't Be Cruel, Bobby Brown

99. Apr - Let's Get It Started, MC Hammer

100. Apr – Guy, Guy

101. May - The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, Slick Rick

102. May - Feet High and Rising, De La Soul

103. Jul - Walking with a Panther, LL Cool J

104. Aug - Big Tyme, Heavy D and the Boyz

105. Sep - 2 Keep On Movin', Soul II Soul

106. Sep - Unfinished Business, EPMD

107. Sep - No One Can Do It Better, The D.O.C.

108. Oct - Tender Lover, Babyface

109. Nov - Silky Soul, Frankie Beverly and Maze

110. Nov - Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, Janet Jackson

111. Dec - Stay with Me Regina Belle

112. Vote:

113. Featured Artist: MC Hammer, Stanley Kirk Burrell (@27 Yrs. old)

114. Childhood & Early Life: Born and raised in Oakland, California. He was the youngest of his 6 siblings and lived in a government housing project apartment in East Oakland. His father, Lewis Burrell, worked as warehouse supervisor while his mother was a secretary. Interested in baseball from his early boyhood, he spent time around the ‘Oakland Coliseum’ and entertained by dancing during the breaks. ‘Oakland Athletics’ owner, Charles Finley, watched him perform in the Coliseum’s parking lot and hired the 11-year Burrell as ‘batboy.’ Burrell’s resemblance to the baseball player ‘Hammerin’ Hank Aaron earned him the nick-name ‘Hammer.’ The ‘MC’ part came from ‘Master of Ceremonies’ as he performed at various clubs while on the road with A’s. He played baseball (second base) during high school years and wished to be a professional player but was not selected. After high school, he enlisted for US Navy and served as aviation storekeeper for 3 years.

115. Career: After being honorably discharged from the US Navy, Hammer began playing in clubs and formed ‘Holy Ghost Boys,’ a Christian rap music group with Jon Gibson. One of their songs, ‘The Wall,’ became a hit. Two former A’s player, Mike Davis and Dwayne Murphy, helped him financially to start his own record label, ‘Bust It Records.’ Hammer released his debut album, ‘Feel My Power,’ through his own label, ‘Oakland Records,’ in 1987, and the album sold over 60,000 copies. He released a single, ‘Ring ‘Em,’ and marketed it on his own. Hammer formed a troupe with dancers, musicians and vocalist, and presented stage shows and live shows at clubs. Through his album and one of his live acts, he earned a multi-album deal with the ‘Capitol Records’ in 1988. His first album through ‘Capitol,’ was the 1989 album, ‘Let’s Get It Started,’ a revised version of ‘Feel My Power.’ With its charted numbers, ‘Turn This Mutha Out,’ ‘Let’s Get it Started,’ ‘They Put Me in the Mix’ among others, the album sold more than 2 million copies and was certified double platinum.

116. Hammer toured around with his live show promoting the album and installed a recording studio at the back of this tour bus, where he recorded songs. His next album, ‘Please, Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em,’ was brought out on February 12, 1990. The single, ‘U Can’t Touch This,’ from this album proved most successful and is considered as his signature song.

117. He was a part of many TV shows and films, including cartoon-show, ‘Hammerman,’ ‘Saturday Night Live,’ ‘The Right Connections,’ ‘Deadly Rhapsody,’ ‘The Surreal Life,’ among many others. He appeared as a dance judge on the show, ‘Dance Fever’ (2003). ‘Hammertime’ (2009) was his reality TV series on ‘A&E Network,’ which dealt with his daily life. Hammer established ‘Oakland Stable’ in 1991 for thoroughbred horses. He was also involved with various business ventures from clothing lines, to tech start-up and product endorsements. Hammer sported a lavish lifestyle with a huge mansion at Fremont, California, sprawling estate and luxury cars. He also spent a large amount of money on his stage shows, staff, and relatives. With $13 million in debt, he filed for bankruptcy in 1996. In 1997, he turned to faith and became a preacher with a Christian Ministry TV show.

118. Open Comments:

119. Question: Would you rather flame out spectacularly like Hammer or low-key longevity?

120. Movie Scene: Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee

121. Breakdown: by Walker Valdez - “The film…focuses on a single day of the lives of racially diverse people who live and work in a lower-class neighborhood in Brooklyn New York. However, this ordinary day takes place on one of the hottest days of the summer. The film centers on how social class, race and the moral decisions that the characters make have a direct effect on the way people interact with each other. It starts with the film’s characters waking up to start their day and climaxes with a neighborhood riot after police officers excessively restrain and kill a young black man named Radio Raheem for fighting an older Italian American restaurant owner named Sal in his pizzeria, and then outside on the street. The film, although released in 1989, with its social commentary on the effect that race has on police brutality is just as relevant today as when it was released 26 years ago.

122. Cast was bananas!

123. Negative Review - David Denby, then writing for New York, also predicted a dire outcome…He accused Lee of creating "the dramatic structure that primes black people to cheer the explosion as an act of revenge," and concluded, “The end of this movie is shambles, and if some audiences go wild, he's partly responsible."

124. The same notion crept into Joe Klein's editorial in the same issue of New York, in which he surmised as to the film's possible political effect on David Dinkins's mayoral campaign. He wrote: "Dinkins will also have to pay the price for Spike Lee's reckless new movie about a summer race riot in Brooklyn"

125. Speaking about the reviews more than 10 years later, Lee was still livid: "What the fuck is that?... What he's saying is, 'Pray to God that this film doesn't open in your theater, (because) niggers are gonna go crazy.'" Lee points out that white audiences aren't presumed to "go crazy" over far more violent action films, "but we're such mental midgets that we can't tell the difference between what's on screen and what's in real life?"

126. Positive Review - Roger Ebert: “I have been given only a few filmgoing experiences in my life to equal the first time I saw “Do the Right Thing.” Most movies remain up there on the screen. Only a few penetrate your soul. In May of 1989 I walked out of the screening at the Cannes Film Festival with tears in my eyes. Spike Lee had done an almost impossible thing. He'd made a movie about race in America that empathized with all the participants. He didn't draw lines or take sides but simply looked with sadness at one racial flashpoint that stood for many others.”

127. Question: What is the right thing to do in the face of systemic social injustice?

128. TV Scene: The Arsenio Hall Show

129. Arsenio Hall (@ 33 yrs. old) is a famous American comedian, actor and talk show host who gained his fame from the show ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’ that aired from the year 1989 to 1994 and 2013 to 2014. Born and raised in Cleveland, as a child, Arsenio used to perform magic tricks. He joined and graduated from Warrensville Heights High School and later pursued his higher education from Kent State University.

130. Early Profession and Career: “Arsenio was a passionate and determined child from childhood and wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. During his early career days, he went to Los Angeles to pursue a career in comedy. He has appeared on Thicke of the Night as an announcer, besides, Alan Thicke. Arsenio appeared on numerous talk shows which made him popular among the audiences. However, he reached in a prominent place in the talk show genre when he got an opportunity to host his own show ‘The Arsenio Hall Show.’ The late-night show was a hit.

131. Where did he come from?

132. Open Comments:

133. Question: Where do you go nowadays to tap into black culture?

134. Vote: Best/most important/favorite pop culture item from 1989?