Monday, September 30, 2013

peace and contentment

Springtime, 1968.

-- March 31, President Lyndon Johnson announces not seeking reelection

-- April 4, Martin Luther King Jr. killed, Memphis

-- June 4, Robert Kennedy killed, Los Angeles

That's too much stuff, over a period of 66 days.
That's too much stuff.
That is too much stuff.
Too.  Much.

I was in third grade, in Ohio; my teacher was Mrs. Rine.
At the time, I didn't put those three events together, in any way.  Knowledge, or news, of them dribbled down over my head like a light rain. 
"Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President."
My mom, after RFK -- "A man can't even run for president anymore without being killed..."

And our neighbor, the old man out in the garage -- writing about him 9/26 here, remembered more than I'd thought of in a long time -- and my dad's low-key reply, "...Now we say Negro...."

And the thought "hung around" in my head after writing and considering that, the same way the old man "hung around" out in the neighbors' garage...just -- there...That maybe the reason he was out in the garage in the first place was to get away from people in the house bossing him around...(?!) 

(And by bossing him around I don't mean they would have tried to make him do all their work, or something like that, I just mean "bossing-around" the way people do sometimes -- "Grandpa wouldn't you like to go along with us for ice cream?"  "Grandpa don't you want to go with us to the library?"  Or "Grandpa, why don't you..."
blah blah blah, thinking -- or intending -- to try to make his life better, or keep him "entertained" but meanwhile the reality is, they're just bugging him....)

It can be that way, sometimes.
A person needs to be left alone -- they want to "do their thing" or to "just be."  And if people won't leave 'em alone they go out to the garage.
And set up camp in there....

Then -- just when the old guy "thought it was safe" -- there's my dad with a well-meaning mini-lecture about which word "we" use, now -- out in the garage!!

lol -- the old man might have been thinking, "Judas Priest!  I get out of the house and come out here, to be left alone, now I got the neighbor after me for m' inter-racial vocabulary...Where do I have to go next?  Where may I be left alone??!

Do I have to leave the garage and go out to the far lower end of the big yard??!

Must I leave the yard and trudge through the high grass out through the big field, to find some peace?!?!

Am I to be reduced to  standing in thigh-high grass and milkweed, thistle, and Queen Anne's Lace, throwing my head back and bellowing my racial epithets to the billowing cloudies in the leaden-gray sky???!!!  Leammee-alone!!" -- LOL

~~~~~~~~~~ If I had wings and I
could fly,
I know where I would go
But right now I'll just
sit here so contentedly
And watch the river flow
-- Bob Dylan


Friday, September 27, 2013

makes you wanna stop and read a book

What's the matter with me
I don't have much to say
Daylight sneakin' through the window
And I'm still in this all-night café
Walkin' to and fro beneath the moon
Out to where the trucks are rollin' slow
To sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow

"Watching The River Flow," a song written and recorded by Bob Dylan in 1971, seemed to me to be about the '60s -- and being tired, needing a break from it all.  Needing a break.


Wish I was back in the city
Instead of this old bank of sand
With the sun beating down over the chimney tops
And the one I love so close at hand
If I had wings and I could fly
I know where I would go
But right now I'll just sit here so contentedly
And watch the river flow

People disagreeing on all just about everything, yeah
Makes you stop and all wonder why
Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street
Who just couldn't help but cry
Oh, this ol' river keeps on rollin' though
No matter what gets in the way
and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I'll just sit here
and watch the river flow

People disagreeing everywhere you look
Makes you wanna stop and read a book
Why only yesterday I saw
somebody on the street
That was -- really shook
But this ol' river keeps on rollin', though
No matter what gets in the
way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I'll just sit here
And watch the river flow

Watch the river flow
Watchin' the river flow
Watchin' the river flow
but I'll sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow

[copyright 1971 by Big Sky Music; renewed 1999 by Big Sky Music]


Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, quotes a contemporary critic calling the song "an energetic, funky-gospel rocker"...and they include comments from critics (who -- I'm thinking -- might possibly be from different planets...)
one said, "Dylan is exploring his myth of retirement and withdrawal and the problem of retaining his privacy while making public art"
another is quoted as saying the song is "tarred with a realism that qualifies and complicates the lure of the lazy" (WHAT??)
another critic said the song was about Bob Dylan himself being "restless" --

Those guys are crazy.

That song is about the Sixties.

~~~~~~~~~ (I do not find a good version of this song on You Tube, but the song -- "track" -- can be bought for a dollar on Dylan's website.  [How does that work, I wonder?  Do they magically transmit the song onto a player of some kind, or can they now inject it directly into the customer's ears and brain?...]) ~~~~~~~


Thursday, September 26, 2013

people disagreeing everywhere you look

When I was two years old, President Dwight D. Eisenhower left the White House, leaving the "job" of Being President for the newly elected John F. Kennedy.  But of course even though I was alive, I was too little to  know those kinds of things so I don't remember it, only know it from learning, later....

Eisenhower had been elected to a four-year term, and then re-elected for another four-year term, in the 50s, and he left office in a -- "normal" way -- an orderly way, the way it's supposed to be.  The way our system is set up.

But I don't remember that, and my experience of presidents leaving office, from the time I was 5 up to 18-years-old -- my entire growing-up years -- was, that every one of them, every president, left under unusual circumstances.

Kennedy, assassinated
Johnson, decided not to run for re-election
Nixon, resigned

None of these was
normal, or
orderly, or
the way it's supposed to be.

I thought of that recently, and I don't think I put that together in my head when I was in high school -- but looking back now, with perspective of distance, I think, "Man that's weird." 

In my lifetime since I've been old enough to remember, the first president to exit the office in a normal, orderly way was Gerald Ford, in 1977.

I look at it now, and ask myself, How did I know what was normal and what wasn't?  Life experience had shown me presidents exiting office under weird circumstances.  Somehow I knew it wasn't normal, it wasn't right, it wasn't the way it was supposed to be.

Same with the assassinations --
President Kennedy,
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bobby Kennedy --

from age 5 to age 9 in my existence those occurred, yet I knew that wasn't normal; I don't know how I knew -- well, they teach you in church, No Killing; and could hear the adults talking....

When Martin Luther King was killed, this old man next door was talking to my dad--it was in Rootstown, Ohio, and our neighbors across the driveway had a grandpa living with them, and he spent most of his time out in the garage.  (That sounds terrible -- like they stuck the old guy out there, or something...but it really wasn't bad.  The garage was nice, really, and attractive -- it was built to look like a barn, and "the old man," as my father referred to him, had made himself a space out there -- a chair with a small stand next to it, and he just liked to be out there -- he tended to cats and just -- watched the world go by, I guess.  He seemed gruff, to me -- I wouldn't have gone over to talk to him, myself, but my dad would go over...)

And when King was killed -- I had heard it, somehow, and so I knew what the "old man" meant when he said to my dad, in that gentle, musing, watching-the-traffic-roll-by sort of tone that some older folks use when they mention something they heard in the news, "They killed that n----r..."

My dad said, in a the-tomatoes-should-be-ripe-soon tone of voice, "Mmh--we don't use that word anymore.  Now we say Negro."


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

isn't that the way they say it goes

--by Carroll Kilpatrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 9, 1974...

Richard Milhous Nixon announced last night that he will resign as the 37th President of the United States at noon today.

Vice President Gerald R. Ford of Michigan will take the oath as the new President at noon to complete the remaining 2 1/2 years of Mr. Nixon's term. ...

"By taking this action," he [Pres. N] said in a subdued yet dramatic television address from the Oval Office, "I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America."

...Declaring that he has never been a quitter, Mr. Nixon said that to leave office before the end of his term "is abhorrent to every instinct in my body."

But "as President, I must put the interests of America first," he said.

..."America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress," Mr. Nixon said.  The resignation came with "a great sadness that I will not be here in this office" to complete work on the programs started, he said.

But praising Vice President Ford, Mr. Nixon said that "the leadership of America will be in good hands."

In his admission of error, the outgoing President said:  "I deeply regret any injuries that may have been done in the course of the events that led to this decision."

He emphasized that world peace had been the overriding concern of his years in the White House.

..."This more than anything is what I hoped to achieve when I sought the presidency," Mr. Nixon said.  "This more than anything is what I hope will be my legacy to you, to our country, as I leave the presidency."

Noting that he had lived through a turbulent period, he recalled a statement of Theodore Roosevelt about the man "in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood" and who, if he fails "at least fails while daring greatly."

...It was exactly six years ago yesterday that the 55-year-old Californian accepted the Republican nomination for President for the second time and went on to a narrow victory in November over Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey.

...In his acceptance speech [of his party's nomination] on Aug. 8, 1968, the nominee appealed for victory to "make the American dream come true for millions of Americans."

"To the leaders of the Communist world we say, after an era of confrontation, the time has come for an era of negotiation," Nixon said.

...Yesterday morning, the President conferred with his successor.  He spent much of the day in his Executive Office Building hideaway working on his speech and attending to last-minute business. ...

{excerpts, 1974 Washington Post article}


Tuesday, September 24, 2013


"We can drive a stake through the heart of the communist alliance" is a sentence Pres. Nixon (Anthony Hopkins) says in the movie, Nixon:  in real life, I don't know whether that's really what he said.  Dramatic license, could be...

My 7th-grade English teacher talked about the president's trip to China.  How it was historic, and important.  She never mentioned any stake-driving....

----------------[script excerpt]--------------
NIXON:  Unpredictability is our best asset.  Johnson left me with a lousy hand and I'm bluffing.  I've got to play the hawk in Vietnam and the dove in China.  And if we keep our heads, we can win this thing.

ZIEGLER:  What?  Win Vietnam, sir?

NIXON:  No -- but what we can do with Vietnam, Ron, is drive a stake through the heart of the communist alliance!  Henry's already getting strong signals from the Chinese.  They fear the Vietnamese more than the Russians, and they're worried about a unified Vietnam.  The Russians hate the Chinese and are supporting the Viets, you understand?  If we stick it out in Vietnam, we'll end up negotiating separately with both the Chinese and the Soviets.  And we'll get better deals than we ever dreamed of from both.  That's triangular diplomacy, gentlemen.

KISSINGER:  That's what geopolitics is about -- the linking of the whole world, in self interest.

{screenplay excerpt from Nixon, written by Oliver Stone, Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson}


Monday, September 23, 2013

recognizing China

"We can drive a stake through the heart of the communist alliance," says President Nixon in the film, Nixon.

His aides are having dinner with him and the conversation is about Vietnam (May 1970 right after Kent State) -- the Pres. says "If we hang tough we'll win this thing!"

Ron Ziegler asks, "You mean win Vietnam, sir?"

The President says No, but if we continue our effort there long enough to give the South Vietnamese a fighting chance, we can drive a stake through the heart of the communist alliance.  Henry's [Kissinger] getting strong signals from the Chinese....

A couple remarks later one of them -- Ehrlichman, maybe -- sort of does a double-take and says incredulously, "Excuse me sir, are you seriously thinking of recognizing Red China?"

In that scene, there's little grasp, among the President's highest placed aides, of the Big Picture the President's been working on...probably planning since before 1968....
This is not because the aides -- Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Ziegler, John Mitchell, etc. -- aren't smart and up-to-date on things, but because the Concept Nixon's been working on is probably strictly inside his own head, and that's it, with the exception of Henry Kissinger. 

The concept of opening talks with "Red China" and recognizing that country would have been way too sensitive -- you couldn't have it "leak" too early and then get bashed to bits in the press and Congress...(have what get bashed to bits, the concept, or the president? -- Both!...)


There's another scene where the Recognize-China idea is floated around, the wonderful "Spooky Poem" scene in the CIA director's office -- and there's a similar dynamic where the President is simply miles ahead of his audience in "Thinking Big"...

The CIA director (portrayed by Sam Waterston) has his thinking all bogged down in entrenched Cold War attitudes and rhetoric.  He's not thinking in a proactive way, he's mired in "reactive" thinking. ... He's, like, still mad about Castro taking over in Cuba. ...

The President says, "I try to adjust to the world as it is today, not the way you or I wanted it to be, 10 years ago."

Waterston (Richard Helms), at the mention of opening relations with PCR (people's republic of china) gets real terse and bossy with the Pres. and says Terrible consequences can  result from such [teeth gritted, eyes intense, neck-lines sticking out] Enormous.  Errors.  Of-Judgment!!"

Nixon, unimpressed and unwavering from his Goal, based on the Big Picture, plows right ahead without even a "Cool your jets, fella" -- saying,

"If we can separate China from Russia and negotiate separately, ...we can secure the peace into the next century."

Helms (his tone dripping with bitter sarcasm) "And give Cuba to Russia as a consolation prize??!"  (glare)...

Now, Mr. Helms is not a dumb guy, he's a smart guy, but in this scene you see where a person of high competence and intelligence can make a mistake due to being stuck in reactive thinking -- he isn't stepping back, he isn't looking at what's really important, he's lost perspective.  He's trapped in
"I don't like communists!"
"I don't like Castro!"
Well, none of us enjoys any of those people, either, Mr. Helms, but listen to your president -- and "Listen" does not mean plotting the thing you're gonna say next....

"Secure the peace into the next century."
And that was about 1970 or '71, so when Nixon says "the next century," he is looking ahead some-35-years....and what he's trying to "secure" us against is nuclear war which could destroy all mankind and the planet.

Now, that's Looking At The Big Picture.
That's a worthy goal.
"Secure the peace into the next century" is something which, in that era, we did not think we could count on any  of our leaders to be able to do, because what could they do about the communist giants, U.S.S.R and China??

"Secure the peace into the next century"
was the epitome of a Worthy Goal,
it was the Ultimate Goal, and
a majestic phrase, to boot.

And Mr. Helms responds by falling back on the familiar whining / bitching about Castro / Cuba / Soviets.
(This is your response??!  Whatsamatterwithyou???!!!)

And the President says, "Cuba would be a small price to pay...."


Friday, September 20, 2013

walking through the middle of nowhere

-- All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.
Enoch Powell, 1977

-- It was a Greek tragedy.  Nixon was fulfilling his own nature.  Once it started it could not end otherwise.
Henry Kissinger

~~~~~~~~~~ The air is getting hotter
There's a rumbling in the skies
I've been wading through the
high muddy water
With the heat rising in my eyes
Every day your memory
grows dimmer
It doesn't haunt me like it did before
I've been walking through
the middle of nowhere
Trying to get to heaven
before they close the door

{Quotes from Nixon And Kissinger - Robert Dallek.}
{song excerpt:  "Trying To Get To Heaven," Bob Dylan -- Time Out Of Mind, his thirtieth studio album.  Sept. 1997.  Columbia Records.}


Thursday, September 19, 2013

gentlemen, I tried

Larry Hagman "chews the scenery" in the movie Nixon.  Oh!--he relishes the role he plays, of "Jack Jones" ...who is not a real character, but rather a "composite" representing a certain type of "wealthy donor"...

The scenes with him are funny, and not because they're trying to be funny, or cracking jokes, and not because Jack Jones "IS" J.R. Ewing...I mean, he's just so much like that character....No, what's funny -- or, humorous underneath the seriousness of the conversations -- is how "Jack Jones" -- well -- how he IS.  The character is a hearty Texas glad-hander (oil-rich) who doesn't take long, once you're sitting down visiting with him, to show arrogance and even, incongruously, menace.

Plus, like many people who get involved in politics, he gets carried away and thinks he knows more than he does.  (Like the mailman on Cheers -- "Cliff Clavin" -- !  That's it!  He's J.R. Ewing and Cliff Clavin, simultaneously...! Now, regardless of dialogue -- THAT'S Funny....!)

JACK JONES:  Hell, Kennedy's pissed Cuba away to the Russians.  And he don't know what the hell he's doing in Vietnam.  These are dangerous times, Dick, especially for business ...

((Ooh - kay.  Glad we aren't billionaires, so we don't have to worry about all that -- er -- 'danger'...))

NIXON:  Agreed.

A CUBAN in an Italian suit, one part sleazy, another part dangerous, steps from the shadows.

CUBAN:  We know what you tried to do for Cuba, Mr. Nixon.  If you'd been elected president in '60, we know Castro'd be dead by now.

NIXON shares a look with TRINI.  ((Trini is an Hispanic man who is an associate of Nixon -- Trini is not part of the Jack Jones-group....))

NIXON:  Gentlemen, I tried.  I told Kennedy to go into Cuba.  He heard me and he made his decision.  I appreciate your sentiments.  I've heard them from many fine Cuban patriots, but it's nothing I can do anything about.  Now, it's a long drive back to Dallas tonight, and Trini and I have got an early flight tomorrow to New York . . .

JONES  (interrupting):  Dick, these boys want you to run.  (the "boys" mutter in unison)  They're serious.  They can deliver the South and they can put Texas in your column.  That would've done it in '60.

((LOL--this guy has so got himself mixed up with Someone who Knows Things.  Being able to write the check does not make you a campaign strategist.  He is carried away -- and it seems like it's ego more so than geopolitics or anti-communism....which is what makes it so real and so human...

"Deliver the South," my Aunt Fanny....))

NIXON:  Only if Kennedy dumps Johnson.

JONES:  That sonofabitch Kennedy is coming back down here tomorrow.  Dick, we're willing to put up a s-----t fulla money to get rid-a him -- more money'n you ever dreamed of.

NIXON:  Nobody's gonna beat Kennedy in '64 with all the money in the world.

A pause.

CUBAN:  Suppose Kennedy don't run in '64?

Nixon looks at him.  A subconscious IMAGE again...
NIXON:  Not a chance.

CUBAN:  These are dangerous times, Mr. Nixon.  Anything can happen.

Another pause.  Nixon gathers together his papers and briefcase.

NIXON:  Yes, well . . . Gentlemen, I promised my wife.  I'm out of politics.

MITCH  (insolent smile):  You just came down here for the weather, right, Mr. Nixon?

((Geez!--this guy also is fooling himself -- 'The former Vice President is meeting with us because he wants our support and advice, along with our Campaign Donations'... ! ))

NIXON:  I came down here to close a deal for Studebaker.

TRINI:  What about '68, Dick?

NIXON:  Five years, Trini?  In politics, that's an eternity.

The main two things that make Jack Jones and some of these others feel all expansive and carried away with ideas of their own influence and power are --
1)  writing the check, and
2)  sitting around in rooms together drinking and agreeing with each other.

Larry Hagman is in three scenes in the film, I think -- and two of those are back-to-back, so if you count those back-to-back ones as one scene, then he's in a total of two scenes.  A small role -- but he runs with it, chewing the scenery.


{Screenplay excerpt:  Nixon, writers -- Oliver Stone, Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson.}


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

the darkness drops again

"...And what rough beast,
its hour come 'round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem
to be born?"

>>> Spooky poem!
Spooky poem!
Spooky Poem Alert!!!!

------------- In the film Nixon, there's a scene where the President goes to see CIA Director Richard Helms.  Their conversation is sort of a sparring match:  at the end of it the President says, "There are worse things than death....there's such a thing as evil."

Helms says, "You must be familiar with my favorite poem -- Yeats...Black Irish...Very moving --

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming!  Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight:  a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
that twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come 'round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

--------- And actually I think maybe he does not do the entire poem, but he says the first and last parts -- most of it.  It is an amazing scene; and the thing is, it wasn't even in the movie as it ran in theaters -- "due to reasons of length, or the threat of legal action from Richard Helms depending on which source you believe," according to professor and political scholar Dr. Matthew Ashton.

Two ways a person can view this scene: 
1)  get the DVD of the movie which is labeled "Director's Cut", and it's IN the film, in that version;
2)  go on Google and type in

Great scenes from political movies (No 5) Nixon's meeting with Richard Helms

and a post on Dr. Ashton's blog will come up.
One can read what he says about the film, and about the scene, and then down at the bottom of the blog post, you can click on it and play it.

"The Second Coming" was written by Irish poet William Butler Yeats, in 1919 in the aftermath of the first World War.

-------------It occurs to me -- I don't usually think of needing disclaimers or caveats for stuff I put in my blog, but it crossed my mind, that when I write about the film Nixon I make it sound thought-provoking and edifying and it's a great piece of art, but -- it's art, not literal history -- it isn't a documentary...and I wouldn't want anyone to read about the film in this blog, and then sit their five- and six- and seven-year-old children down to watch the film and "learn about history"...!

("No no no don't try this at home!")

It is not for children.  Too intense for them, and a lot of bad language.

Wouldn't want anyone to say, later, "Blue Collar Lit. misled me and now my children are scarred for life!"
("I was frightened by Alexander Haig, as a small child!"...)


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

the years of decency and clean living

When first got the film Nixon on DVD I could not wait to put it in the DVD player and start it -- even though I had things I had to finish doing, I put in the movie anyway, and kept checking back in with it, between tasks-and-lists-and-notes....It is a powerful film. 

You almost can't watch it, and yet you cannot stop watching and listening.

President Nixon was, it could be argued, a tragic figure, in the classical sense.

He did Right Things.  He did things that were right.  Correct.  Good for the country and international relations.  He did good things.

There's one scene in the film where he does a press conference and he announces withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, and the peace settlement.  And these questions about Watergate start popping out from various locations in a small "sea" of reporters -- Watergate, Watergate, Watergate.

President Nixon leaves the press conference -- back in his office, he's really, really ticked -- so frustrated, and hurt -- "I ended the war, I opened China..."  all-they-want-to-talk-about-is-Watergate!! -- And what person on this planet would be unable to relate to that, in some way -- the propensity for those that judge us to not want to talk about the 10, or 20, or 600,000 things we've done well, but only to talk about the one thing they think we didn't do right.

And during the Watergate "siege" time (fall, 1973, I think) Pres. Nixon got sick -- rushed to the hospital, and the disease he had was phlebitis. 

I remember that.
It was like -- "What is phlebitis?"

"There's a cancer on the presidency."
--John Dean.

Remember that, too.

"The most serious constitutional crisis in our country's history" -- after the President fired Archibald Cox -- (the Saturday Night Massacre)...

In the film, Pres. Nixon talks to his aides:  "In the old days, people knew how to hold power, how to use power, how to set limits.  They wouldn't have torn this country apart over a third-rate burglary..."  And he adds something like, Now all these guys have such a superficial outlook-- they just wanna look good to the press, & "chase girls"...

President Nixon wanted to do good, the same as the candidates my parents voted for instead of him:  Humphrey in 1968, and McGovern in 1972.  I learned the sort of nuanced fact that all serious (electable) presidential candidates are good men (or women) who want to do good, when I was six years old.  I said to my cousin Laurie, "Who are your parents going to vote for, for president?"  And I was shocked and shaken when she replied, "I don't know, probably Goldwater."


I had assumed that since my mom and dad were voting to re-elect President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, that he was the Good Guy and this Goldwater person must be the Bad Guy.  (When you're six years old, you may be forgiven, I think, for having a simplistic view of things.)

I had just assumed that Laurie would answer, "Johnson."

I don't think I thought it all the way through at that time, but later remembering that funny little conversation with my 10-year-old cousin helped me understand that the "other" candidate is not a Bad or Terrible person -- he just isn't the first choice for the job, at your house....

Nixon is riveting -- and it's like, you almost can't stand it.  Because it's soaring triumphs; dedicated, well-meaning hard work; vibrant, out-sized ambition and love of country; frustration; paranoia (though as the bumper sticker used to say, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you"); resentment; feelings of being an "outsider"; fear; courage; tragedy; comedy -- a life. ...

And if people watch the film who weren't born yet when these events occurred -- people who did not experience the 60s and 70s -- then how does it impact them?...I don't know...I look at it and go, "I remember that, I remember that....Was That really true??..."

...and the next morning, thinking about it, "Oh my gosh!  Painful!"

Then thought -- it's kind of like the old joke, or adage, where the guy goes to the doctor and moves his arm a certain way and says, "Doc, it hurts when I do this."  And the doctor says, "Well if it hurts when you do that, then don't do that."

If viewing the film, Nixon, is painful, then maybe I should stop watching it....Just don't put it into the DVD player.  (It isn't going to start playing by itself. ...)

No. ... It's too good to not-watch it.

It begins with the Watergate burglars having dinner June 17, 1972, before the "job."

"The years of decency and clean living -- are over," says one.

The first time I watched that early part in the same room, those names -- those names -- came washing over my head:
Frank Sturgis
James McCord
Virgilio Gonzales
E. Howard Hunt
G. Gordon Liddy (if only Pres. Nixon had avoided these people with NO FIRST NAME, ONLY AN INITIAL...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Eugenio Martinez
Bernard Barker

I had this great feeling of connection, and -- closure, maybe -- hadn't heard those names or thought of these people in such a long time, and I felt -- happy, for some reason.
And asked myself, What are you happy to see these Watergate burglars??  Been missing 'em, have ya?

And, sitting on my bed taking notes, thought, "Well -- Watergate burglars are -- people, too...."


Monday, September 16, 2013

something fishy

[excerpt]--------------The White House Correspondents Association annual dinner is a formal, overdone, alcohol-saturated event, attended by all those with power -- or pretensions to power -- in the media and the government.  It was held on April 14 at the Washington Hilton....

Some of the news organizations had rented hospitality suites where drinks were served almost to sunrise.  Woodward arrived at the Wall Street Journal's party at about 2:00 A.M.  About 20 people, glasses in hand, were gathered in one corner, and a familiar voice was ringing out from the center of the circle.  "You son of a bitch!"  Unmistakably Bradlee.  He was arguing with his former employee, now White House aide Ken Clawson.  The subject was Clawson's purported statement confessing he had written the Canuck Letter.  But the argument ranged over ancient battles -- the press versus the government, the Washington Post versus Nixon.  Clawson had once told friends that Bradlee was the man he most admired.  Now he despised Bradlee, and held him personally to blame for the Canuck Letter story.

Fueled by alcohol, the debate grew hotter and more personal.  The two men, in dinner clothes, waved away anyone who tried to join in.  Finally, in a ridiculous attempt to be more discreet, they moved into a closet, and left the door open.

"Have they hit each other yet?" one woman asked hopefully.

At the bar, there was another Watergate imbroglio.  Edward Bennett Williams, the Post's lawyer and the president of the Washington Redskins, President Nixon's favorite football team, was faced off against Patrick J. Buchanan, a White House speechwriter.  Williams' firm also represented the Democratic Party.  He was speaking bitterly about the 1972 election.

"You're just a sore loser, Ed," Buchanan was saying.

"But you did it dirty, Pat," Williams said, heaving his large body to one side.  "You had to do it dirty.  You won, but you had to steal it."---------------------[end excerpt]

I never felt that way; it did not seem to me, at the time, that the Watergate burglary and the other dirty tricks had caused Pres. Nixon to win re-election in 1972.  It seemed like -- Nixon won by a large landslide (as opposed to what -- a small landslide?, but you know...) -- obviously it was the will of the people to reelect this president, & even if his people had not gone and done a lot of cheating things, he would still have won, I thought. 

I was only in 8th or 9th grade -- if I could see this point of view, why couldn't these hospitality-suite guys, who were grown-ups, see it? -- of course, I'd not had any cocktails...But, realize now, I also, in junior high, did not have grasp of the bigger picture which was that some heavy sabotage techniques had been used throughout the primary season against other Democratic candidates -- Muskie, etc. -- as "Deep Throat" says in the movie, "They wanted to run against McGovern, look who they ended up running against...!"

I only understood, at the time, I think, spying, and cheating-to-win....
But having Donald Segretti and his "Trojans" (Trojans?) from USC (ref. Blue Collar Lit. Sept. 9, 2013) mess with the entire Democrat Primary is another kettle of rather stinky fish....

{All The President's Men.  Woodward - Bernstein.  Simon & Schuster -- 1974.}


Friday, September 13, 2013

either no one knew or no one was willing to say

~~~ Gonna tell you a story
that you won't believe
But I fell in love last Friday eve-
nin'--with a girl I saw on a
bar-room T.V. screen

Well I was just gettin' ready
to get my hat
When she caught my eye
and I put it back
And I ordered myself --
a couple o' more shots and beers

-----------[book excerpt]---------The first person on whose door Bernstein knocked pleaded with him to

leave "before they see you." 

The employee was literally trembling.  "Please leave me alone.  I know you're only trying to do your job, but you don't realize the pressure we're under."  Bernstein tried to get a conversation going, but was told, "I hope you understand I'm not being rude; please go," as the door closed.  Another said, "I want to help," and burst into tears.  "God, it's all so awful," she said, as the reporter was shown to the door.

The nighttime visits were fishing expeditions.  There was, however, one constant lead that was pursued on all the visits: 

It concerned Sally Harmony, Gordon Liddy's secretary at CRP.  Mrs. Harmony

had apparently not told everything she knew to the FBI and the grand jury.  Bernstein had first heard this in late August from a reporter on another newspaper.  He had jotted down the tip on the back of a telephone message slip and filed it away in the mountain of papers, trash, books and cups of stale coffee that covered his desk.  ". . . lied to protect Jeb Magruder . . . dep. campaign mgr.," he had written.

A Justice Department attorney had confirmed that the Watergate prosecutors were

suspicious of Mrs. Harmony's testimony, but said they lacked evidence to charge her with perjury.  Her lack of candor seemed common knowledge

at campaign headquarters.  But either no one knew or no one was willing to say what she had lied about, beyond vague references to "protecting others." 

Gradually, a pattern started to emerge about the bugging affair from the fragments of information they picked up on their nighttime visits. 

Several committee employees spoke of wholesale destruction of records that took place in the days immediately after the Watergate break-in, although they said they had heard it secondhand and knew no specifics.

{book excerpt:  All The President's Men, written by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.  Copyright, 1974.  Simon & Schuster, New York}
{song excerpt: "Roller Derby Queen" -- on Jim Croce's Life and Times album, 1973, and also included on 1974's Photographs & Memories - His Greatest Hits.}


Thursday, September 12, 2013


The national staff of the Washington Post rarely covers police stories.  ----------------[book excerpt]------------  So, at Sussman's request, both Bernstein and Woodward returned to the office the next morning, a bright Sunday, June 18, to follow up.  An item moving on the Associated Press wire made it embarrassingly clear why McCord had deserved further checking.  According to campaign spending reports filed with the government, James McCord was the security coordinator of the Committee for the Reelection of the President (CRP)..

The two reporters stood in the middle of the newsroom and looked at each other.  What the hell do you think it means? Woodward asked.  Bernstein didn't know.

In Los Angeles, John Mitchell, the former U.S. Attorney General and the President's campaign manager, issued a statement:  "The person involved is the proprietor of a private security agency who was employed by our committee months ago to assist with the installation of our security system.  He has, as we understand it, a number of business clients and interests, and we have no knowledge of these relationships. 

We want to emphasize that this man and the other people involved were not operating on either our behalf or with our consent. 

There is no place in our campaign or in the electoral process for this type of activity, and we will not permit or condone it."

In Washington, the Democratic national chairman, Lawrence F. O'Brien, said the break-in "raised the ugliest question about the integrity of the political process that I have encountered in a quarter-century of political activity.  No mere statement of innocence by Mr. Nixon's campaign manager, John Mitchell, will dispel these questions."

...Several persons referred to McCord's integrity, his "rocklike" character, but there was something else.  Westrell and three others described McCord

as the consummate "government man" -- reluctant to act on his own initiative, respectful of the chain of command, unquestioning in following orders....

>> ...That morning at the Florida White House in Key Biscayne, presidential press secretary Ronald Ziegler briefly answered a question about the break-in at the Watergate by observing:  "Certain elements may try to stretch this beyond what it is."  Ziegler described the incident as "a third-rate burglary attempt" not worthy of further White House comment.

The next day, Democratic Party chairman O'Brien filed a $1 million civil damage suit against the Committee for the Re-election of the President.  Citing the "potential involvement" of Colson in the break-in, O'Brien charged that the facts were "developing a clear line to the White House" and added: 

"We learned of this bugging attempt only because it was bungled. 

How many other attempts have there been and just who was involved?  I believe we are about to witness the ultimate test of this administration that so piously committed itself to a new era of law and order just four years ago."

Once we were lovers
but somehow things have changed
Now we're just lonely people
Tryin' to forget each other's names
Now we're just lonely people
Tryin' to forget each other's names

What came between us?
Maybe we were just too young to know
But now and then
I feel the same,
And sometimes at night I think
I hear you calling my name
Mmm-hmm-mmm--these dreams...
They keep me going these days

Once we were lovers
But that was long ago
We lived together then
And now we do not even say hello
We lived together then
And now we do not even say hello

What came between us?
Maybe we were just too young to know
But now and then
I feel the same,
And sometimes at night I think
I hear you calling my name
Mmm-hmm-mmm -- these dreams --
They keep me going these days

{book excerpt:  All The President's Men -- Bernstein / Woodward.  Copyright 1974, Simon & Schuster, NY, NY}
{song:  "These Dreams" -- written by Jim Croce, Life and Times album, 1972 and also included on Photographs & Memories - His Greatest Hits.}