Yo, let's do a rap song about 1990.
No, let's not.
Let's not do a rap song about anything, least of all 1990, a year of fumbles, bumbles, stumbles, jumbles and, thanks to that mean old index of leading economic indicators, grumbles. Not a banner year, but a bummer year; not a wonderful year, but a blunderful year; not a happy year, but a -- well, you get the idea.
We saw it all darkly through the loony lens of television: Diane Sawyer asking Marla Maples if Donald Trump was the best sex she'd ever had (and Marla failing to ask if Mike Nichols was Diane's); Andrew Dice Clay going boo-hoo-hoo in a sobby soliloquy on the Arsenio Hall show; and tastemakers Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold rolling around in mud for a magazine photo spread.
Was there at long last no decency? Actually, no.
Madonna promised a "spankie" to those who failed to vote, a little girl said "Miles, you suck" on the premiere of "Uncle Buck," and Jessica Hahn got her own 900 number, enabling viewers to phone in and savor minty morsels from her ongoing autobiography.
And then, as if all that wasn't enough, Time magazine ended the year by announcing that there are really two George Bushes. The horror, the horror!
While the year's major outrages are still fresh in the national consciousness, one ought to pause, too, to remember the minor ones -- the flotsam, the jetsam, the Sturm, the Drang, the riff, the raff, the dribs, the drabs, the dregs, the drags, the pitfalls, the pratfalls, the tick tick tock of the stately clock as it stands against the wall... .
Reviewing what we managed to survive might help in contending with the unspeakable calamities that lie ahead. Of course, it won't be easy, it may not even be amusing, but it will serve as a valuable reminder: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to forget it.
There's Bad News, and There's Bad News. Cable magnate Ted Turner announced he would run for president, but only if America is plunged into a depression.
After All, He's Only Worth About a Gillion Zillion Bucks. When the producers of "The Cosby Show" wanted to use an inner-city mural as part of the opening credits for the new season, Bill Cosby balked at paying $5,000 to the homeless kids who painted it.
Proof Positive the American Public Has Not Lost Its Interest in the News. ABC's "Nightline" scored its highest ratings of the year with a show about Madonna's kinky video "Justify My Love."
Party Pooper. A technician employed by the Christian Broadcasting Network was found guilty in Norfolk of interrupting the satellite signal of the Playboy Channel to broadcast the message, "Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
Teddy? Gone? But This Is So Sudden. NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw reported that an Avianca jet had crashed near the home of "the late Teddy Roosevelt."
One Way to Get on the Cover of Vanity Fair, or Guess Who's Coming to Dinner at Tina Brown's, He Hopes. Don Hewitt, executive producer of "60 Minutes," defended a slobberingly sycophantic puff piece on Vanity Fair Editor Tina Brown that aired in October by saying he knew Brown only "casually, exceptionally casually."
Hold the Pickles, Hold the Lettuce; Come to Think of It, Hold Everything. NBC tried to lure viewers to its new programs by sponsoring a multimillion-dollar giveaway with McDonald's restaurants, then suffered the lowest November ratings in its history.
High Praise Indeed. Arsenio Hall, interviewed for a special about black humor in America, praised comedian and activist Dick Gregory as "very bright, a very bright man" and added, "I used to look at Dick Gregory and say, 'Now, that's me... .' "
There He Is, More or Less. Bert Parks, making his gala return to the Miss America Pageant, neglected to introduce 15 of 29 former beauty queens as they paraded around the stage, and later insisted he had not been drunk.
Sexist Pig of the Year. Bob Hope, joking about women in combat on a February NBC special, asked, "How can we have an invasion when the troops storm ashore and then change their minds?" and wondered aloud if the Army would be issuing a "bronzed star with a pantyhose cluster."
Size-ist Pig of the Year. WTTG-TV in Washington was sued for $3.5 million after refusing to air advertisements for a firm whose dresses are designed for women weighing between 200 and 1,000 pounds.
Just Plain Pig of the Year. Arnold the hog came out of retirement for the CBS movie "Return to Green Acres."
This Little Piggy Stayed Home. The National Stuttering Project lambasted Warner Bros. for refusing to allow the use of its Porky Pig character in a TV campaign "aimed at ending mockery of children who stutter." NSP spokesman Ira Zimmerman said the company was "only interested in the money that can be made from the misfortune of others, especially little children."
But Only One Gets a Balloon in His Likeness at the Annual Macy's Parade. Tom Brokaw, Ted Koppel and Bugs Bunny all turned 50.
Proof This Technological Revolution Business Has Gone Too Far. "The Arsenio Hall Show" began broadcasting in "Dolby Surround stereo" on May 21.
And Who Would Know Better? MCA/Universal Home Video released "Help Save Planet Earth: Easy Ways to Make a Difference" starring Ted Danson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jamie Lee Curtis, Cheech Marin, John Ritter and, in a cameo role, Milton Berle as "Charley the Car."
We'll Be in Touch, So You Be in Touch. ABC's "20/20" offered viewers an interview with a man identified as the original Buckwheat in the "Our Gang" comedies, then sheepishly admitted a week later that the real Buckwheat died in 1980.
Zsa Zsa Demands a Recount. The American Movie Classics cable network presented its first-ever "Classic Movie Maker Award" honoring "a film artist whose work and creative efforts have significantly contributed to the Art of the American Motion Picture" to ... Jerry Lewis.
Words of One Syllable Preferred. Turner Broadcasting System offered an all-expenses-paid trip to Atlanta to the viewer who sent in the best original four-line poem about wrestling.
Great Outrages of Our Time. Tom Brokaw, anchoring NBC's coverage of the European summit, complained on the air about the high cost of sweaters in Helsinki.
One Possible Explanation for the Titanic Failure of "Sunday Night Live With Larry King." Midway through the first, and last, edition of his NBC variety series, host King introduced one of his guests as a man who "generates a kind of excitement usually reserved for movie stars and athletes ... the ever-exciting Donald Trump!"
The Blind Leading the Blind. Arsenio Hall, emceeing the "MTV Video Music Awards," rallied the crowd with, among other exhortations, "Let's get ignorant tonight! Let's get ignorant!"
Oh, and Here We Thought We Were Already Watching "Showbiz Today." CNN followed its telecast of Ronald Reagan's testimony at the John Poindexter Iran-contra trial with the viewer advisory, " 'Showbiz Today' coming up after this break."
First Refuge of a Scoundrel. With Jane Pauley gone, Deborah Norville replacing her, Bryant Gumbel feuding with Willard Scott and aging Joe Garagiola brought in to add "warmth," Executive Producer Tom Capra blamed the ratings slide of the "Today" show on -- the press.
Meanwhile, the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization Continues Apace. CBS attempted a revival of "The Brady Bunch."
... Appears to be Picking Up Speed. Chicago's Annoyance Theater company scored a hit by having actors do word-for-word reenactments of old "Brady Bunch" scripts.
... Has Been Helped Along Immeasurably by the Creative Innovation of Cable. Nickelodeon's "Nick at Nite" ended the year with a telecast of "The Brady Bunch Hour," a variety show that bombed on ABC in 1977.
... And in Fact Now May at Last Be Final, Irrevocable, Inalterable and Complete. The ABC affiliate in Toledo, Ohio, canceled its nightly newscast and replaced it with ... "The Arsenio Hall Show."