The Big 10: Triumph in Calgary, tragedy in Lockerbie

The Big 10: Triumph in Calgary, tragedy in Lockerbie

Where were you 30 years ago, when we said hello to 'The Wonder Years,' wait-till-next-year to fans of other Big Ten basketball teams, and welcome back to NASA's space shuttle program after a 2½-year break? That's the topic for this week's panelists, who shared with us a memory from 1988.

A star is born in Calgary, where a Champaign speedskater wins Olympic gold and is chosen by her teammates to carry the U.S. flag in the closing ceremonies.

BONNIE BLAIR
First American woman to win five gold medals

"When people ask about the greatest moment — and I've been very lucky to have a lot of them — there's something to be said for the impact of doing something for the very first time. So when I won the 500 in Calgary in world-record time, the emotion was hard to capture again.

"I remember I was about to get on the podium to receive the gold medal and looking into the audience and seeing all of the different emotions.

"My sister Angela: crying. My sister Suzy: a huge grin. My sister Mary: screaming, yelling, going absolutely nuts. My brother Rob: high-fiving his friend. My mom: looking scared to death, as if I was still racing.

"It was almost three hours after that before I actually got to see my parents. I'll never forget the smile on my dad's face — it was priceless. He was a man of very few words, so when he said something, it seemed to have an impact. He was the one who put in a little 12-year-old girl's head that she was going to go to the Olympics and win a gold medal.

"To be able to share that moment with him — not long after he'd been diagnosed with cancer — was very special for me.

"He didn't actually say anything. But that smile said everything."

 

190 Americans are among the 270 killed when Pan Am Flight 103 is destroyed by a bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland.

STEVE WANZEK
Retired Air Force colonel and Willard Airport associate director

"I was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, having just moved there from Scott AFB in Illinois. I was processing in to the base and looking for a house. I was flying a large cargo aircraft — the C-141B — and a soon-to-be lieutenant colonel, destined to be the operations officer of the 30th Military Airlift Squadron.

"I first heard of the crash on the radio in the early afternoon of December 21st. Not much known. Just a news flash that the plane had gone down. I was stunned.

"Very reliable aircraft. Hundreds of people likely on board. Did it experience a mechanical problem and blow up? Hit another airplane? Hijacked and crashed on purpose?

"As we know now, it was something more heinous. And it made me thankful that so much of the aircraft was found on land. Investigators had the black boxes and physical evidence to piece together what happened, giving closure to the families.

"I think that incident sparked my interest in accident investigation. A few years later, I volunteered to be trained as an Air Force Accident Board President and presided over one board."

 

Night baseball debuts at Wrigley Field — and with a Cubs win, no less (6-4 over the Mets).

MIKE BIELECKI
First-year Cub threw five innings of two-run ball as the starting pitcher

"I remember the buildup to the game all summer started to get to be a pain in the butt because that's all the media talked about. The same questions for months.

"The first game — on 8/8/88 — was rained out and Greg Maddux, Les Lancaster and Al Nipper decided to slide on the tarps during the delay. (General manager) Jim Frey had a fit, and the guys got fined.

"Well, the next night, it happened to be my turn in the rotation. I had never been in a playoff atmosphere before and that's exactly what it felt like. We finished the season around .500 but the following year, the lights came into play because we had won the division and were in the playoffs vs. the Giants.

"If we had no lights, Major League Baseball was gonna force the Cubs to play their playoff games in St. Louis or Milwaukee since the TV games needed to be at night for revenue purposes."

 

CDs outsell vinyl records for the first time.

MARK RUBEL
Operated Champaign's Pogo Studio before moving to Nashville, where he's co-director of education and an instructor at The Blackbird Academy

"Buying LP records was an important part of our lives up to that time. My friends and I were music fanatics — junior musicologists. We would spend hours listening to albums all the way through, both sides, and then we would have intense discussions analyzing the songs, lyrics, performances and recordings.

"We would study every inch of the nicely sized album covers — photos, credits, lyrics, hopefully some notes about how and where the record was made. We'd try to identify the microphones, the players, instruments and studios.

"My father bought one of the very first CD players, a Sony. We were impressed by its compactness and convenience, but the early recordings and machines did not sound better than records had, and there was of course a limited repertoire available to be played. Naturally, we wanted The Beatles on this new digital medium, and our father somehow got a CD of 'The White Album' from Japan — it sounded horrible, and I was dismayed to hear the terrible remix, which felt like someone had drawn mustaches on the Mona Lisa.

"The constrained length of a vinyl record seemed to be an advantage, compared to CDs, which often felt redundant and over-long. And, vinyl had its ritual: thumbing through the bins, removing the shrink wrap, sliding the record out, placing it on the turntable or record changer. When you put the record on, you were committed to listen through the side — there was no skip button as on a CD player.

"Finally, instead of being a digital exact copy of something that doesn't exist in the physical world, vinyl records are tangible, tactile and unique — with its scratches and dust, the wear on the cover, your record is singularly yours.

"It's funny to me all these years later to see the CD — once touted as 'perfect sound forever' — becoming obsolete, and the vinyl record once again in ascendance."


DYKE CORSON
Corson music owner, Boat Drunks band member

"I can still hear Dave Loane saying 'From the laser disc ...'

"Being in bands, we were all using cassettes to practice with and learn songs, so we were skeptical. 'How we gonna record on those disc things?' No one had computers yet.

"The first CD I bought was 'Abbey Road,' hoping the sound quality would be better than a record."


DEANE GEIKEN
Director, Parkland's WPCD 88.7 FM

"I was 23. Like many who grew up in the '80s, music was a big thing for us.

"And many of us had accumulated quite a big, and heavy, collection of vinyl. And for me at least, that was part of the reason I jumped on the CD bandwagon very early on, buying my favorite albums in CD format as soon as I could.

"CDs were allowing many of us to take our favorite songs with us in a more transportable, and durable format. Cassettes were great and all but you could never trust someone else's cassette player to not eat your best mix tape.

"Eventually, my CD collection exceeded my vinyl and that vinyl collection did not follow me on my last move to the home I was purchasing. Fast-forward 30 years and I really miss that heavy pile of vinyl. There is something about it that digital formats cannot compare to."


BOB DIENER
Owner, The Record Swap

"In our world, CDs were an instant hit and we had zero. We stocked the indy labels and the edgy imports and they were the last ones to be turned into CDs.

"Customers would grab our new LP releases and demand CD versions of them. They had to wait for years. Either the indy labels didn't have the money to press CDs or the major labels blocked them from doing it by controlling the CD plants.

"My main buyer didn't want us to carry any CDs because that would mean less LPs. Luckily, the import CDs started being offered so at least we had a small collection for sale.

"The first CD I bought was an import of Ry Cooder's 'Paradise and Lunch.' It probably has pinholes in it from bad ink.

"I grew up with LPs so I still prefer them but I'm in it for the music — not the format — so anything but 8-tracks will do.

"The pre-CD music scene was wonderful. The indys were churning out great music and the majors were scared. The indys could do everything the majors could do except turn on that hype machine. The majors tried to sign some of the successful indy bands but the bands said 'no thanks.'

"But that all ended with the CD. Wisely, the major labels bought up a lot of the indy labels — starting with subpop and that took the wind out of the indys.

"And the music has suffered every since."

 

'Phantom of the Opera,' which at 30-plus years is the longest-running show in Broadway history, debuts at the Majestic Theatre.

JAN HORVATH
UI alum, opera singer, part of the original company of Broadway's 'Phantom'

"The hype preceding the show's opening was unprecedented. People were scrambling to get tickets even before the show had started previews. Opening night felt like a fairy tale.

"For the first six months, each performance had someone famous in the audience: Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones, Nancy Reagan, just to name a few. They would often come backstage afterward and meet the cast.

"I remember the stagehands taking bets on how long the show would run. The longest guess was 15 years."

 

In an 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court rules in favor of Hustler magazine, whose unflattering parody ad of Jerry Falwell led the televangelist to file a defamation suit.

ROD SMOLLA
Former UI law professor and Furman president now dean at Delaware Law School of Widener University

"I participated in the Falwell v. Hustler litigation, writing a 'friend of the court' brief on behalf of numerous news organizations in support of Hustler and Larry Flynt. I attended the oral argument, and later wrote a book on the entire case.

"When asked what possible constructive message Flynt's parody of Falwell could convey, Flynt's lawyer said that Flynt wanted to express his view that Falwell was 'full of BS, and bring him down to our level.' As he said 'our level,' he gestured toward the justices, almost unconsciously.

"Suddenly, all the justices burst out laughing. Chief Justice Rehnquist laughed so hard that he doubled over. I turned to the lawyer I was sitting next to and whispered, 'I think we just won the case.' And sure enough, in what remains a landmark ruling, the Justices voted unanimously that public figures cannot sue and recover damages just because they are the victims of harsh parodies.

"Today, considering the weekly parodies of President Trump on 'Saturday Night Live,' where would we be if the Court had ruled otherwise?"