Early Media Coverage of U2 ('81), the Williams Sisters ('90) & Jesse Helms ('66)


Every so often, we dig up the first time The New York Times covered various subjects. (Just in case you were curious.) This week's installment looks at Venus & Serena Williams, U2, A-Rod and more—plus a few first mentions we've already mentioned, including John McCain, Barack Obama and Friends.

Venus & Serena Williams

July 3, 1990

Status: Undefeated. Future: Rosy. Age: 10 Venus Williams, who lives in Compton, turned 10 on June 17. She is ranked No. 1 in the girls' 10-and-under in Southern California, and will move to the 14-and-under division later this month. She already has some of the sport's most respected names talking in superlatives since she beat the legendary Dorothy Cheney in a recent tournament that matched young phenomenons against former champions in their 60's and 70's. * * * * * The success of the 5-foot-3-inch Williams is not surprising to her father, Richard, a 6-2 1/2 former basketball player who said she was also unbeaten in age-group track meets. "The most games Venus has lost in a set is two or three," he said in a recent interview. Asked why he had encouraged his five children to pursue tennis, he replied, "I was so flabbergasted at the amount of money paid out to professional players that Mrs. Williams and I thought the best thing we could do for our children is to give them the ability to play tennis." * * * * * "I practice Venus and her 8-year-old sister Serena out at East Compton Park," Mr. Williams said. "It's a radical neighborhood. A lot of dope is sold. Somewhere around 70 percent black and the rest Hispanic. The gangs look out for Venus, and they come and talk to her about the mistakes they've made. "We play on two courts—that's all there is—and they look like trash, they're so slippery. But we will stay here until Venus and Serena want to leave. They want to be able to be No. 1 in the world in the women's game and say they came from the worst neighborhood."

Keep reading for online dating, Federal Express and more...


March 9, 1981

Irish U2, a Young Quartet, Plays at Ritz The Irish rock quartet U2, which has received extravagant critical praise in the British press, made a strong showing at the Ritz on Saturday. For such an accomplished band, U2 is unusually young. Ranging in age from 18 to 20, its members met three years ago at a Dublin secondary school. Yet their sound, and eclectic hard rock with a mystically romantic strain, makes them one of the most harmonically sophisticated rock bands to emerge in recent years. * * * * * Bono Hewson, U2's lead singer, has a moderately strong voice that was partially drowned out at the Ritz. This was a shame, since the band's material is of considerable interest. Most of the songs on its debut album, Boy are visionary reflections of adolescence....Where poetically ambitious rock bands tend to get mired in their visions, U2 brings to its purpose a healthy balance between energy and lyricism.

Online Dating

August 26, 1999

You've Got Romance! Seeking Love On Line More and more single people, used to finding everything else on the Internet, are using it to search for love. More than 2,500 Web sites for adults are now devoted to matchmaking, said Daniel Bender, founder of Cupid's Network (www.cupidnet.com), an Internet portal for personals sites that went on line in 1995 listing only a handful. At a time when many people are staying single longer, busy professionals barely have time to squeeze in workouts and rules about sexual misconduct pose barriers to romance in the workplace, the Internet can be a fast and efficient way for single people to find each other, the creators of these services say. Many singles say they post their ads on a lark, expecting little. They take advantage of free trial memberships, yet concede that despite their doubts, they wonder "what if."

Federal Express

January 29, 1975

Freight Forwarder Takes to Air The fledgling Federal Express Corporation...isn't advertising in New York, but is using TV and newspaper advertising in 27 other markets, the biggest of which is Chicago. "The smaller our market, the bigger our share, and we think we can own places like Rochester," said J. Vincent Fagan, one-time New York agency man who is now Federal's senior vice president-marketing at its Memphis headquarters. * * * * * The two-phase campaign (tailor-made to each market) is aimed first at making consumers aware of Federal ("Kansas City, you've got a new airline.") Then it attempts to convert users to Federal. The ad budget is about $1.2 million. Federal, which was financed by $80-million in venture capital, is not yet making money, but, said Mr. Fagan, "we expect to make a lot of it." So much for dreams of glory.

Alex Rodriguez

June 4, 1993

Draft Starts at Short, Then Stops on Mound The [#1 overall draft] choice was Alex Rodriguez, a 17-year-old shortstop out of Westminster Christian High School in Miami ... Roger Jongewaard, the Seattle Mariners' vice president of scouting and player development, bucked the trend this year just as he did in 1987 when he made Ken Griffey Jr. the No. 1 selection instead of a highly touted pitcher, Mike Harkey. This time, Jongewaard bypassed highly touted Darren Dreifort, a right-handed pitcher scooped up by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the next pick. Jongewaard acknowledged that Dreifort, a pitcher with Wichita State University, might advance to the majors at a faster clip. Rodriguez, a two-sport standout who received more college scholarship offers for his quarterbacking skills than his baseball skills, now has decisions to make. He has already signed a letter of intent with the University of Miami and says he still might pursue both football and baseball in college rather than turning pro. "It's a great honor to be No. 1 in any job, whether it's baseball, basketball or football," Rodriguez said during a conference call. "I'm excited about the whole situation. I just hope it works out."

DNA Evidence

October 1, 1988

Judge Permits DNA Evidence A Queens judge ruled yesterday that prosecutors may present DNA-matching evidence to the jury in a sexual-assault case, the first time such evidence linking a defendant with a crime is to be used in New York State. Prosecutors say the evidence will provide a "genetic fingerprint" to prove that the defendant committed a sexual attack in Queens last year. The defendant's lawyer had sought to bar admission of the evidence, saying its reliability had not been proven.

Jesse Helms

October 23, 1966

Teacher Who Assigned a Poem About Seduction Is Transferred "To His Coy Mistress," a poem about seduction written more than 300 years ago by Andrew Marvell, one of the great poets of the Puritan period in England, has risen to stir a tempest on the campus of the University of North Carolina. An instructor has been transferred from teaching to research duties. Students are mounting protests. Faculty members are disturbed ... The clouds began to gather when Michael Paull, an instructor in freshman English, assigned his class to write a theme on the subject of "To His Coy Mistress" ... The resulting themes were read aloud and some of the students found them embarrassing. One of the students apparently wrote her parents about the incident and the parents brought it to the attention of WRAL-TV, a television station in Raleigh with right-wing views that has been a frequent critic of liberalism at the university. Only days before, Jesse Helms, commentator for the station, had been critical of an article on physical love that appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, campus literary magazine of which Mr. Paull is the editor * * * * * Some newspapers expressed concern. The Greensboro Daily News declared, "The spectacle of a great university 'reassigning' its instructors at the behest of a bullying television pundit is hardly believable. The Daily Tar Heel, campus newspaper, headed its editorial, "Who's afraid of Jesse Helms? The university—that's who."

Let's end with a few first mentions we've already covered. The following subjects are back in the news...


April 6, 1994

Finding the Absolutely Perfect Actor: The High Stress Business of Casting Marta Kauffman and David Crane are sitting together on a long white couch, trying to find Joey. When they sent out the "breakdown" for the casting call, they described him as a "handsome, smug, macho guy in his 20's" who loves "women, sports, women, New York, women," and most of all, himself. Now they are listening to a man who would be Joey philosophize in a smug, macho way about women and ice cream. * * * * * Casting, notoriously nerve-racking for actors, is hardly less stressful for television writers and producers like Mr. Crane and Ms. Kauffman. The pair have spent almost six months developing a set of sitcom characters — a circle of friends in their 20's living in Manhattan — and writing dialogue for them. Against great odds, they have persuaded a network, NBC, to pay to shoot a pilot episode of the sitcom, titled Friends Like Us. The next critical step, from pilot to series, will depend largely on how well Friends Like Us is cast. [More recently: Rumors of a Friends movie have been circulating, and are being debunked.]

John McCain

July 31, 1967

Start of Tragedy: Pilot Hears a Blast As He Checks Plane At 10:30am Saturday, Lieut. Comdr. John Sidney McCain 3d climbed aboard his A-4 Skyhawk for a mission over North Vietnam. "I closed the canopy and started the plane and then went through the normal checks of the gauges and the settings," the 30-year-old Navy pilot recalled today. "Suddenly I felt and heard an explosion. It was either my plane or the one to the right. Flames were everywhere." In the following moments aboard the aircraft carrier Forrestral, the 150-pound Annapolis graduate climbed out of the cockpit, stepped precariously onto the plane's three-foot-long refueling pipe and then leaped onto the burning flight deck and ran. * * * * * The son and grandson of two noted admirals, Commander McCain has a disarming disregard for formal military speech or style. He is wiry, prematurely gray and does not take himself too seriously. [More recently: Touring Latin America.]

Barack Obama

February 6, 1990

First Black Elected to Head Harvard's Law ReviewThe Harvard Law Review, generally considered the most prestigious in the country, elected the first black president in its 104-year history today. The job is considered the highest student position at Harvard Law School. The new president of the Review is Barack Obama, a 28-year-old graduate of Columbia University who spent four years heading a community development program for poor blacks on Chicago's South Side before enrolling in law school. His late father, Barack Obama, was a finance minister in Kenya and his mother, Ann Dunham, is an American anthropologist now doing fieldwork in Indonesia. Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii. "The fact that I've been elected shows a lot of progress," Mr. Obama said today in an interview. "It's encouraging." [More recently: Hanging out in Montana.]


June 22, 1977

Starbucks Coffee Cuts Prices 50 Cents a PoundThe Starbucks Coffee Company, Washington State's largest coffee roaster, announced a retail price cut of 50 cents a pound on all its coffee. Jerry Baldwin, president, said it was also reducing its price to wholesale customers by 30 cents a pound. Starbucks supplies specialty stores, restaurants and food cooperatives throughout the Western states. [More recently: Shutting 600 stores, including—I think—my friendly neighborhood café.]

See all the previous installments of The First Time News Was Fit To Print.

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