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Moral Majority

12 May

Jerry Falwell
Jerry Falwell Moral Majority 1979-1989

Take one part political neo conservatism, one part Fundamental Christian mix with American Patriotism and you have the Moral Majority.  Often confused with a religious group due to the founder Rev Jerry Falwell’s over the top brand of Evangelical Christianity they were actually a political lobby group with the agenda of unseating the liberal left of the 60’s and 70’s.


Falwell, a Pastor in Virgina at the Thomas Road Baptist Church had a successful religious radio show that morphed into  a national Sunday TV sermon  with the “Old Time Gospel Hour” with an audience of  7-10 million viewers.  Claiming a support base of 50 million, 80,000 affiliated  preachers and 4.5 million financial contributors.  The Majority boasted it raised a million dollars a day through its media outlets and claimed they added 3-4 million registered conservative voters to the Regan and Bush presidential campaigns of the 80’s.

The Moral Majority supported 2 parent family values, prayer in school, free enterprise, creationism education, Israel, the  military and the Bible.   It opposed Communism, Gay rights and homosexuality,  sex education, pornography, the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion.

 Falwell Quotes and Scandal

The loose based organization of the different chapters  and Falwell’s love for provocative speeches on TV news  led to frequent public gaffes that  prevented the Moral Majority from attaining a high insider status with the Republican Party.

6.5 million dollar illegal bond scheme to fund the church, later overturned as intent to fraud could not be proved.

“Grown men should not be having sex with prostitutes unless they are married to them.”

Falwell fearing a communist revolution called Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu a “phony”  “as far as representing the black people of South Africa”.

Took over the PTL televangelist  club in 1987  after the Bakers were involved in sex and financial scandals.

 “He is purple — the gay-pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle — the gay pride symbol.” –from a “Parents Alert” issued in Jerry Falwell’s National Liberty Journal, warning that “Tinky Winky,” a character on the popular PBS children’s show, “Teletubbies,” may be gay.

Defended the Reverend Sun Myun Moon of the Unification Church who was in prison for tax evasion and endorsed  The Washington Times, the Unification Church-owned paper.

“Billy Graham is the chief servant of Satan in America.”

In New York the Moral Majority director made an anti-Semitic comment about the “almost supernatural ability” of Jews to make money.

Falwell was the driving force behind a 1988 campaign to collect 2 million signatures for a pardon for Oliver North. He requested assistance from 32,000 Baptist pastors from around the country.

“many evangelicals believe the Antichrist will, by necessity, be a Jewish male. This belief is 2,000 years old and has no anti-Semitic roots. This is simply historic and prophetic orthodox Christian doctrine that many theologians, Christian and non-Christian, have understood for two millennia.

“I think Muhammad was a terrorist.”  “I concluded from reading Muslim and non-Muslim writers that Muhammad was a violent man, a man of war.”

By 1989 The Majority had lost most of its base and was out of money.  Jimmy Swaggert and Jim and Tammy Faye Baker with their multiple scandals ended the reign of TV evangelists and neo con  politics mixed with fundamental Christian religion.

The Cosby Show

10 Apr

The Cosby Show - The Huxtable Family Original Cast

The Cosby Show dominated the airwaves in the 80’s; 201 episodes aired from 1984 – 1992 earning 20-30 million viewers per episode and one of only 3 TV shows to be #1 five years in a row.  This 30 minute sitcom was ground breaking and trendsetting at the same time.  The affluent and professional couple Claire (Phylicia Rashad) and Cliff (Bill Cosby) in the role of “Lawyer Mom” and “Doctor Dad” portrayed African American life as it was never seen before on TV, a normal everyday family that just happen to be black, this was not Sandford and Son.  Sometimes  criticized for not being “Black” and reflecting the the real state of race relations in the US the Cosby show  was not overtly political or racial but subtle in Family Values and African American culture largely based on Cosby’s own family and comedy routine.  The show highlighted Cosby’s observations, facial expressions and family interactions  with the younger cast members for humour avoiding the standard sitcom one liner and canned laughter.  When they did tackle issues of the day they were family issues and not specifically related to race.  The show could have been the “Waltons” with darker skin.  The show was praised by many of all colours for it’s  positive portrayal of family and  parenting.

The Cosby Kids, The Bill Cosby Show, The New Bill Cosby Show

Cosby was one of the first Stand Up Comedians to have and star in their own sitcom show named after them self and based upon their comedy routine, Sienfeld, Roseanne, Drew Carey and Ellen were all to follow.

Bill Cosby for Jello

Cosby was extremely popular as a stand up act in the 70’s and had a number of  unsuccessful TV shows, 3 in total with variations of his name in the title prior to The Cosby Show,  most notably Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.  He was  also fondly remembered as the spokesperson for Jello.  Cosby’s personal interest in jazz led to 0ver 50 special guest star appearances: Lena Horne, Stevie Wonder,  Placido Domiongo, Dizzie Gillispie, Tito Puente  and Sammy Davis Jr. along with current and soon to be acting celebrities, John Ritter, Debbie Allen, Rita Moreno, Sonia Bragga, Robert Culp, Adam Sandler, Robin Givens, Naiomi Cambell, Alicia Keys, Danny Kaye, Red Buttons and Christopher Plumber to name a few.

The Cosby Show came to an end as all great shows do with ratings in decline and a spin off   “A Different World” featuring Lisa Bonet as she leaves the Huxtable home and begins her university education at Hillman college, it aired for 6 seasons.  The final episode aired during the 1992 race riots in Los Angeles.

Yikes! Yuppies!

4 Apr

1980's YUPPIEThe ” Young Urban Professional Person”  aka the YUPPIE became the most desired and hated demographic since the hippies of the 70’s.   The word Yuppie rose to pop culture status after Jerry Rubin founder of the 70’s radical Youth International Party  “YIPPIES”  turned wall street stock broker organizing a business networking group at the fabled New York  disco “Studio 54” that played classical music during their meetings.

In the Early 80’s the Yuppie was something to aspire towards; a baby boomer, man or women in their 20’s or 30’s, well educated, professional, career oriented, socially liberal but fiscally conservative, possibly married with no children making them DINKS. (double income no kids)  typically white and living in large urban centres. This class largely would have been the preppies in their college or university years.

The Yuppie became the subject of many 80’s movies, Wall Street, Fatal Attraction and War of the Roses being the most successful and  loathed due to their characterization of the  yuppie lifestyle.  It was the lifestyle that eventually turned the word Yuppie into a negative stereo type and media target as they became synonymous  with;

Conspicuous Consumption

Career Opportunists with no real skills

Self Absorbed

Electronic Gadgetry

the 1987 Wall Street Crash and early 90s’ recession

Obsessed with Status and Outward Appearance

Neglectful of  Family to pursue money and career

Cocaine Use

1983 Yuppie Handbook

Yuppies gave rise to many of today’s luxury brands and fads that are now normal social activities. BMW, Volvo, Burberry, Channel, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Perrier water, yoga, massage, sushi, organic foods, day spas, high end  kitchen and bathroom renovations.

Time magazine wrote an obituary to the Yuppie in 1991 as a  backlash had made being a Yuppie unpopular and Yuppies after all just wanted to be popular regardless of what popular was.  The Yuppie class was the ultimate worst of the 80’s and has unfortunately made a small comeback in 2010/11

Hair Bands

20 Mar


Every musical era has its corresponding hairstyle… Beehive, Pompadour, Afro, Mop Top, long, short, straight or curly but the birth of the music video pushed music and hair into a symbiotic art form.  The relationship between hair and music cut across all the music genres of the 80’s with one defining characteristic shared  “Big Hair”.   This led to the term “Hair Band” to describe bands that were noted as much for their hair as music.  Hair Bands are often singularly associated with Glam and Metal music but some of the best Hair came from the New Wave and Punk movement. Whether spiked, teased, gelled, mohawk, coloured, beaded or rat tailed the 80’s had a lot of hair.  Here are some of my favourites from bands that may have not gotten their full recognition in the 80’s.

Flock of Seagulls, Mike Score

Platinum Blonde

Mary Jane Girls

Kid n Play

Billy Idol

Twisted Sister, Dee Snider

Taylor Dayne

Boy George



Thompson Twins

Howard Jones

Helen Blows Her Top

12 Mar

May 18, 1980 Mnt. St. Helens

Helen actually blew more of her side than her top. I can remember watching a 35mm film in Geography class with a crew cut scientist showing pictures of the pressure bulge on the side of the mountain and the possibility of a volcanic explosion, the film was 20 years old.    The resulting explosion lasting 9 hours on may 18, 1980 sent ash and debris 22 km into the air, wiped out 300 km of road, 25 of rail lines, 250 homes, thousands of  acres of  forest  and killed 57 people.

The crater has been turned into a US National Monument.  I had the opportunity to visit t in 86, on my way from Mexico to Vancouver.  Even though much of the mountain was still closed to visitors the remnants of the Volcano were still spectacular.  25 years later I can still visualize the day I spent hiking and riding around the mountain.  It was a day filled with both beauty, enjoyment and somber.    The US dept of Forest was studying the mountain at the time and captured the explosion.   The mountain has seen volcanic activity again in 86 and 2004  and smaller but frequent seismic activity often registering  2 on the richter scale.  For those of you that are reflective on life and its possible meaning, Helen my shed a bit more perspective.   If you are ever in the Pacific North-West stop by and pay respect to the forces of nature and the 57 that lost their lives.  Mount St. Helens is truly a North American natural wonder not to be missed of the 1980’s or any decade.

Mnt St. Helens and the Resulting Crater

Freedom 30 Space Shuttle Retires

11 Mar

1981 Launch

January of 86, I was in Florida on my way to Mexico by motorcycle when I had the opportunity to see the space shuttle launch.  I had tickets to view the launch from the cape but the mission was scrubbed.  I ended up watching from a few kilometers down the coast a couple of days later as the extremely cold, and very early morning ride was too much to be repeated.  Two weeks later Jan 28, I was in Houston heading to the Mexican border when the shuttle Challenger blew up.  All 7 aboard were killed including the first and last civilian NASA  allowed into space  teacher Christa McAuliffe. The cause was later revealed to be linked to frozen o rings  from the unseasonable cold weather Florida was experiencing.  There were 5  shuttles altogether but another accident in 2003 involving the Columbia on re-entry left Endeavour, Discovery and Atlantis.  At  the tender age of 30 the space shuttle program is being retired, June 2011 is the last planned flight.    A total of 132  missions were flown with 32 taking place in the 80’s.  Another best and worst moment of the 80’s.

Challenger disaster January 28, 1986

Rubick Turns 30

20 Feb













The iconic Rubicks cube was actually invented in 1974 by Emo Rubick a Hungarian professor and sculptor.  Rubick used it as a teaching aide to assist students understand design in 3D objects.  It was not until Ideal Toys licensed it in 1980 did it become a worldwide hit.   The cube is considered the best selling puzzle and toy with over 350 million sold.

The cube has a cult following even in the digital age as there are over 40,000 You Tube videos featuring the over 1 billion cube permutations.  Solving the puzzle was once the pinnacle of geekdom.   It has widely used in movies to establish a 80’s time period and a characters intelligence.    It’s best most recent use was  in the movie WALL-E

Filthy Fifteen

19 Feb

The Parent Music Resource Centre (PMRC) led by Tipper Gore, then wife of former Vice President of the USA  Al Gore and a group that became known as the “Washington Wives”  due to their husbands high-powered political positions  were responsible for pressuring the recording industry to label music deemed offensive to display this label in 1985

The PMRC used a list of 15 songs  the “Filthy Fifteen” in a series of  Senate hearings to pressure the recording industry into a voluntary compliance with the warning label.  This label had many ramifications that are still felt in 2011.  And now for your enjoyment …

1 Prince Darling Nikki
2 Sheena Easton Sugar Walls sex
3 Judas Priest Eat Me Alive sex
4 Vanity Strap on Robbie Baby sex
5 Mötley Crüe Bastard violence
6 AC/DC Let Me Put My Love Into You sex
7 Twisted Sister We’re Not Gonna Take It violence
8 Madonna Dress You Up sex
9 W.A.S.P. Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) sex
10 Def Leppard High ‘n Dry drug and alcohol use
11 Mercyful Fate Into The Coven occult
12 Black Sabbath Trashed drug and alcohol use
13 Mary Jane Girls In My House sex
14 Venom Possessed occult
15 Cyndi Lauper She-Bop sex, masturbation

How Many Balloons?

18 Feb

The 70’s had Ban The Bomb and the 80’s No Nukes.  This was the height of the cold war with Ronald Reagan leading the pack of  “Hawks” on both sides.  The former Soviet Union was still under harsh communist rule with a quick succession of leaders in the early 80’s before Mikail Gorbachev came to power in 1985.  Gorbachev, best remembered  for his birth mark resembling a map of southeast Asia could be described as a “Dove” in comparison to his predessors and Reagan.


The  80’s saw mass protest marches on both sides of the US/Canadian border and across the pond, Western Europe joined the No Nuke movement  as they were in the fallout zone between the States and the  USSR.  Major cities across North America experienced crowds of  100,ooo people, the largest crowds since the Vietnam War.  Even conservative cities like Toronto had protest marches topping 100,000 people, complete with the RCMP filming the crowd.  I was convinced for years that CISIS had a file with my picture in Ottawa for taking part in peace marches and various protests, as I was a semi regular on the circuit. 


The big difference this time is the protestors cut across all demographics and once again musical genres.  Just like in the 60’s music played a big part in the No Nukes movement.  Springsteen, Jacksone Brown, the Doobies, Tom Petty, Carly Simon and Crosby, Stills and Nash were outspoken playing a number of concerts supporting Nuclear Disarmament.  The 80’s were the last decade to produce top bands with commercial hit political protest songs.  Rap was just begining to appear but it’s protest was directed more internally than outward.   Probally the biggest hit that personified the  80’s No Nuke movement was Germanys,  Nena with  “99 Luftballons”.  Originally sung in German, 1983, it became an international hit when re-recorded in English in 1984.  The 83 live video consisting of only the band is raw and commonly believed to be a truer song.  By 1984 MTV was in full bloom and the band got the TV video treatment.  For the most part this was her only success outside of Germany even though she has officially released over 29 albulms, 48 singles and featured in 8 films.  The song is still played often, played for an hour straight on MTV classic during a 2006 Huricane Catrina fundraiser as a donor gave $35,000 for the privledge and Nena herself  re-recorded the original in 2000.  I have included the original German version for you.



What Type of Day-Glow Were You?

16 Feb

What Ronald Reagan was to 80’s politics Day-Glow was to 80’s Fashion.  Both took the world to the brink of disaster and the effects are still lingering.

Day-Glow cut across all musical genres and genders.  Ouch!

If you are a child of the 80’s you surely had some accessory in hot pink, yellow, red or green.

Even the coolest legacy of the 80’s “PUNK” could not resist using  Day-Glow colours as a proud symbol of rebellion against the establishment.  Little did those angry young Brits know who they had to thank for this fashion disaster. ..

THE VALLEY GIRL!  reborn as  2011’s  Gossip Girl!

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