1966 – Charles Whitman kills 14 people in a shooting spree before his own death

Charles Whitman was a few weeks past his 25th birthday when he finally snapped. Taking his rifle, he killed 16 people, 3 of them in the tower tower of the University of Texas and 11 more as a sniper in the tower’s observation deck, where he retreated in his final rage. He also wounded 32 other people before he was shot dead by members of the Austin police department.

In the months leading up to his death, Whitman had been court-martialled by the Marines (by whom he had been trained as a sniper), endured his parents’ divorce, and developed both an amphetamine addiction and a headache-inducing brain tumour (the last discovered only at his autopsy)… looking for a motive in his actions is pointless, so many things in his life serving to unabalance him.

His was one of the earliest sniper killing sprees, but sadly, it would not be the last.

Referenced in:
Sniper – Harry Chapin
Sniper in the Sky – Macabre
The Tower – Insane Clown Posse
Chest Explodes – Bottom Feeder
Class Dismissed (A Hate Primer) — Exodus
The Ballad of Charles Whitman – Kinky Friedman
Road To Ruin (Charles Whitman) – Church of Misery

1979 – The final episode of “Good Times” screens

“Good Times” was a distinctly Seventies show in many ways, but none moreso than its focus on African-American characters. Along with “The Jeffersons” and “Sanford and Son”, it was among the first shows to features a predominantly African-American cast, and after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s had won new rights for African-Americans, shows like these helped to create a new normal for black and white audiences alike (however much they might have been guilty of tokenism, racism and sexism themselves, they were still improvements on most of the domestic comedies that had preceded them).

The final episode of “Good Times” was entitled “The End of the Rainbow”, and saw each of the major characters given a happy ending in terms of career and domestic arrangements. Since that time, it has been a perennial in syndication, and a steady seller when it was released on DVD

Referenced in:

The Thanksgiving Song — Adam Sandler

1981 – “MTV” premieres

On August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV launched with the words “Ladies and gentlemen: rock and roll,” played over footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia and the launch of Apollo 11. Those words were immediately followed by the original MTV theme song playing over photos of the Apollo 11 moon landing, with the flag featuring MTV’s logo changing various colors, textures, and designs. Appropriately, the very first music video shown on MTV was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

And thus it would remain for the first few years, when MTV took its full name – Music TeleVision – seriously. But try finding a clip on MTV these days – it’s all Real World retreads and Behind The Music rockumentaries now. Well, not all, but enough to make one nostalgic for when MTV played any weird crap they could get their hands on just to fill the hours.

Referenced in:

TV Party — Black Flag