'T was a bummer of a summer—hellishly hot—even before that wave of secondhand syringes and medical waste came in with the tide. But the sullied beach is the perfect retreat for those folk and artifacts that washed up in '88—or who simply washed, unbidden, unwelcome and too often, into our consciousness. The Reverend Al Sharpton was the year's oiliest sun-seeker, and its largest—bigger even than beach-blanket behemoths Brigitte Nielsen and Mark Gastineau. So much happened right on television: Robin Givens blew up a marital sandstorm even her promoter mom, Ruth Roper, couldn't halt. Morton Downey Jr. led a wave of gladiator-baiters; Geraldo Rivera won his bout, by a nose. Jimmy Swaggart looked at the camera and cried after answering charges that he'd been in more motels than the Gideon Bible. Ed Meese folded his tent under a cloud he insisted didn't exist, while Ben Johnson went from hero to has-been in Olympic-record time. Last year's washouts, Gary Hart and Jessica Hahn, bobbed back briefly before succumbing to a tidal wave of apathy.
Others suffered active humiliation: The Suzuki Samurai was sideswiped by Consumer Reports; 24 football players were suspended for drug use; junk bond czar Michael Milken was accused of insider trading; and RJR Nabisco's executives, after a takeover battle, lost their cookies.
Finally, as the sun—or is that a thousand points of light?—sinks slowly in the west, we'd like to say a special goodbye to yuppies in suspenders, books that blame women for making dumb romantic choices, and anything labeled "turbo" or "lite."
Goodbye! Goodnight! This beach is closed!
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