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July 31, 2011

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8-1-81: Happy Birthday to Me and MTV

I was born on August 1, 1981, which aside from being my birthday and a very cool 8-1-81, also happened to be the first day MTV went on the air, 30 years ago tomorrow. So, me and MTV are both going to be 30.

August 1, 1981 was a Saturday, but in case you were wondering, the Dow closed at 952.34 that Friday, and would finish the year at 875, for a full year loss of more than 9%.  MLPs didn’t even exist at this point.

Other Securities Prices on 8/1/81: S&P 500: 130.92 10-year treasury yield: 14.67%. Gold: $406 Oil: roughly $35 per barrel

I grew up during the earliest days of MTV’s shift from music videos to original shows.  The era of Nirvana, Snoop Dogg, Michael Jackson (Remember the Time), Sir Mix a Lot and Green Jello (3 little pigs) videos.  Groundbreaking shows like Real World and Liquid TV started popping up.  Beavis and Butthead, the State were also huge. On location  Spring Break and summer shows from beach locales like South Padre Island and Jamaica were also a really big deal.  I was also a big fan of Yo MTV Raps and Headbangers Ball if you can believe that mix of tastes.  I never got much into TRL, but teenage girls clearly loved that show.
Anyway, I’m not real sure when, but at some point I stopped watching MTV.   At one time, however, it was a major influence on me and the rest of the youth of the world. The most incredible thing about MTV for me was how it enabled kids like me in Houston to know what was cool at roughly the same time as kids elsewhere in the country. I witnessed firsthand this phenomenon when I arrived at boarding school in CT as a freshman, and kids from Oakland, CA to Portland, ME and everywhere in between all were sort of on the same page culturally. The world is even flatter today than it was then, but I’d argue there is no longer the one central beacon of coolness that MTV was in the 80s and 90s.
So, you may have already read about MTV turning 30 from others (see below), but you probably haven’t heard about it from someone born on 8-1-81.

  • Josh Brown’s The Reformed Broker blog on MTV turning 30 here.
  • Village Voice on the return of Beavis and Butthead here.
  • Article on MTV turning 30 from Rolling Stone here.
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