(What we have been doing here these last couple of weeks is exploring random days from your blogger’s favorite month of the year, more or less as they were lived, the transcendent happening alongside the trivial. There’ll be no post here tomorrow or over the weekend, but we’ll be back at it Monday.)
October 16, 1978, is a Monday. In Rome, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla, the current archbishop of Krakow, Poland, is elected pope and takes the name John Paul II. He is the first non-Italian pope since 1523. The Supreme Court refuses to get involved in the case of a group of Nazis who want to march in the largely Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie; it appears that the march will go on as planned. A study on controlling pine vole infestation begins at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Hispanic Americans are featured on the current edition of Time magazine. The cover story notes that Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group in the United States and “are bidding to become an increasingly influential one.” Herbert A. Simon wins the Nobel Prize for economics. Actor Dan Dailey dies at age 62; he had been in several movie musicals during the 40s and 50s and starred in the TV series The Governor and J.J., which ran in 1969 and 1970. On TV tonight: M*A*S*H and Little House on the Prairie. Oklahoma tops the new Associated Press college football poll; Penn State is Number Two. On the cover of Sports Illustrated: Marvin “the Human Eraser” Webster of the New York Knicks.
Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep play Buffalo, Little Feat plays Champaign, Illinois, and Santana plays the Bottom Line in New York City. The Sex Pistols’ record company wires the group’s manager $50,000 to bail Sid Vicious out of jail, where he’s held on suspicion of murdering his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Today’s Peanuts strip features Snoopy as “the world-famous disco dancer.” At WRKO in Boston, Donna Summer’s disco version of “MacArthur Park” vaults to Number One, knocking off Exile’s “Kiss You All Over” (now Number Three) and leaping over the Little River Band’s “Reminiscing” (now Number Two), among others. Farther down the chart is an album track from Bob Seger’s Stranger in Town, “Till it Shines,” at Number 15, “18.104.22.168” by City Boy at Number 16, and the title track from Van Morrison’s new album Wavelength at Number 24. Among the songs not yet charted at WRKO is Hall and Oates’ passive-aggressive “It’s a Laugh.” In Wisconsin, it’s right in the wheelhouse of an unhappy college freshman who, despite the fact that he is finally getting started with the radio career he has always wanted, is having the worst month of his life.