27 May 2015

Blast from the Past: That Haldeman Diaries Thing that was in Might in like What Was That '94 I Think


Way back in the day - to borrow an expression in common usage among people like yourself - I had this Haldeman Diaries parody thing published in Might (or, as it has become known to scholars and other has-wanna-beens, Might Magazine or even more egregiously in certain circles Might the Magazine).  It was quite a hip publication I daresay but hey it was the 90s, you kinda had to be there.  A buddy of mine was asked by one of the editors, a high school pal of his, to review the recently released and previously aforementioned diaries of H.R. Haldeman, right hand man to Richard Nixon.  I took over the assignment and ran with it, swallowing the book and then regarbletating it into what appears below.  It appeared in Might #4, and was later printed in an anthology called Shiny Adidas Tracksuits and the Death of Camp and other essays, available I imagine at reputable book merchants throughout your local area (there).


The Way We Were

Outtakes from the Haldeman diaries reveal Nixon as paranoid, delusional and one helluva gardener

As H.R. "Bob" Haldeman anticipated, the publication of the diaries he kept as Chief of Staff to Richard Nixon has provided an invaluable resource for both the historian and the cyclist. Chronicled in exquisite detail is the full tragedy that was Nixon, from his first-term accomplishments and landslide re-election through April of 1973, when the author was forced to resign in Nixon's desperation to avoid impeachment. And we see it from the insider's perspective, for Haldeman worked more closely with Nixon than perhaps any Chief of Staff in American history. Haldeman had Nixon's complete respect and trust, and was the only man from whom the President would tolerate the nickname "Peaches" (shortened to "The P" in the diaries).

The published version of the diaries, as Haldeman explains in his forward, is edited down by approximately 60 percent from the full text. Whatever his motivation (to boost sales of the full text? One last cover-up?), Haldeman has omitted some of the best stuff. Here we see Nixon at his worst, beheading a schoolchild for talking during his famous "Recess Address," and at his best, reaching out across party lines to locate and destroy his enemies. We are proud to disillusion one and all with this small sampling of the missing entries.

Wednesday, February 19, 1969
The P called E, K and I in for another organizational meeting, but it never got off the ground. The P lit his pipe, then became concerned that though he had succeeded in setting fire to the pipe's contents, he had perhaps not lit the pipe in a way that could really move people, win over new voters without alienating our base, really turn the tide our way in several key swing states. He called in E and Colson and initiated a long discussion of the subject.
     The three lit and relit their pipes in various attitudes, looking for the best, while I raised the point that, this being largely a cultural problem, different states might require different approaches. Eventually the clouds of smoke set off the fire alarms, at which point I fled the scene, but the P couldn't move, being too full of smoke, I think. E and Colson dutifully sat by his side, and the three were thoroughly doused by the Oval Office sprinkler system. Pretty funny, but the P was concerned that the whole thing was wrong, that they had not been doused in a way that spoke to the average American. Chuck and E winced as I ordered the sprinklers back on, but this time there was even less water than the first time and P became very upset. We finally arranged to dump a 55-gallon barrel of ice water on him, and that settled him down a bit, but not before a series of phone calls to the Secret Service (re: the sprinklers) and the BATF (re: manly methods of pipe-lighting).

Friday, April 11, 1969

All day in the Garden again. We went over the lettuce and cukes and everything seems to be in place. Got to the carrots and discovered not only were they not planted, the seeds had not even arrived yet. P took it surprisingly well, calmly said, "Well, I'll get to work on the radishes then." I called Mitchell and got him over here with a back hoe so we could at least get the tomatoes going. P very concerned that his corn be knee-high by the Fourth, thinks it's critical to his re-election. Wanted me to check with Connally whether we plant squash now, or wait until after the midterm elections. Lots of follow-up on the weevils, and a plan to bug the Democratic Pea Patch, discover the secret of their spinach.

Monday, June 17, 1969

P again with no schedule, had me in all afternoon on his plans to convert the bowling alley (in the White House basement) into a dry cleaners. Thinks we could do all dry cleaning for staff and foreign dignitaries and turn a tidy profit by taking in outside work on a contract basis, maybe rid Washington of some tough ground-in stains and help balance the budget at the same time. Then said no, scratch the whole thing, let's make it a pizza parlor, one that does weddings, and get right on it. So I spoke to Loggins and Messina, and had that worked out.

Friday, July 11, 1969
P on again about need for better PR, more positive news coverage. He liked my idea of using other media, perhaps producing lavish Broadway musicals or delightful film comedies on Administration policy, as a way to end run around all the goddamn Jews who control the media. We took a break for some diplomatic credentialing and afterward the P called and said he never wanted to be interrupted again to receive some dirty foreigner from some backass little nation on the other side of the moon. So I'm to work that out.
      Then back to the bowling alley, which we had started converting to a pizzeria, but now he wants to make it a Cyclotron particle accelerator, knows it may be rough, hasn't been invented yet, but says got to go ahead and do it, got to take the lead on this one.

Wednesday, December 3, 1969

A busy morning. P had another satisfying bowel movement, then called me and Ziegler in to ask why hadn't we gotten out the story of Nixon the Man, that rarest of world leaders who has excellent bowel movements, is more regular than de Gaulle or FDR. Points out that he is doing this every day, but never gets any credit for it. JFK never had a good shit in two years in office, but the point is people think he did. People don't know the extraordinary number of healthy dumps he takes.

Monday, March 16, 1970
Spent the morning working out some bugs with respect to Operation Breakfast, then met with the P regarding Operation Cambodia. [Operation Breakfast, the plan for the bombing of Cambodia, turned out to be relatively simple in comparison to Operation Cambodia, a double tippy-top-secret initiative to land the P some really good grub, first thing in the morning. Except for one slightly overcooked sausage, it was one of the first term's great successes. — ed.] He had a long list of items — be sure the chef uses American-made eggs, wanted to know what E was ordering, etc. While I was in with him, K called and elaborated his belief that Rogers planned to order before him, and order his (K's ) favorite. This would force him to either go with his favorite, and give the impression he was imitating Rogers, or order something else, and eat an inferior breakfast. Tough one, especially since the P also favors a poached egg, which Henry does not know.

Monday, June 15, 1970

Day started out pretty bad. Huge flap between Jorgen and Carlos, two of the office boys, over some desk supplies which came up missing from Carlos's desk, and were apparently found in Jorgen's. Then the P called, his PBJ was MIA, pulled K out of NSC and had E call the FBI, wanted the PBJ at the EOB on the q.t. I was too busy primping, called Mitchell to handle it, but he fumbled in his own end zone, gave up the safety and got hurt on the play. Then the Jorgen-Carlos thing flared up, as Carlos went directly to the P, demanding that Jorgen be fired, that he wouldn't work under these conditions, and really got the P on his side. P finally stepped in to settle it, which he did masterfully, then complained on and on how he always has to castigate the officeboys, so from now on I'll take on more of that.
      Rogers and Laird, meanwhile, have been substituting creamery butter for shortening in all of State's baked goods, and this is driving Henry up a wall. Said it may extend the war another year, wanted me to call the P which I did, and the P just muttered, "Let's get those bastards, really screw 'em, the ones who tried to screw us," and then we went over several small things, three or four midsized things, and one just really big thing, one of the biggest things I've ever been over with him. [Portions deleted to titillate conspiracy freaks. — ed.]

Friday, August 21, 1970

Then made the point that this should show all those weak little bastards that anyone who fucks with Nixon gets fucked, and anyone who doesn't vote for us will get nothing from us. That goes for everyone: all the goddamn peaceniks who couldn't understand that Nixon is the true Man of Peace; Muskie, Meany, McGovern and Maud Adams, wouldn't know what hit them. Anyone who votes against us gets a ten-foot steel pole rammed [portions deleted for National Security reasons] … and that this was the reason ducks have bills, while other birds have beaks. Then off to Camp David for the weekend.

Sunday, July 22, 1971
A day off today and I used it to get away from the grind. Jake and Butch brought over a 12 and we threw darts for a bit. Then jumped in J's truck and headed for the reservoir, stopping on the way for a couple cases and some tequila. Then parked, cracked beers and cranked up the tunes. Spent the afternoon diving off the old tower, laying in the sun, shooting cans with a .22. B twisted up a huge fatty, which was nice. Then P called, which I had dreaded, but turned out to be OK. He was on a bit of a bender himself, went on and on about some damn football game. Then asked what that loud rock music was in the background (it was The Who), said how much he loved it, thought we might turn that driving beat to our advantage somehow, use it against the Democrats in the Senate. Don't know what he's been into, but it sure loosened the old fart up.

Friday, April 16, 1971
P had no schedule today, as usual filled up the day with trivia. Had me in for three hours about how he really hates those bastards, how he's really gonna cream the guys who're sticking it to him right now. In the second term he'll be able to go ahead with his plans to round up all his enemies, cut off their hands and feet and exile them all to one state (probably one of the Dakotas). Then called E and K in for homemade fudge and Patton again, then off to Key Biscayne.

Wednesday, December 8, 1971
P ran in screaming C'mon, let's do something, something of great historical import, then let's hurry up and get the line out on it, emphasizing all our points and trouncing theirs, a really vicious attack, really cream the sons-a-bitches, then let's get some follow-up and three polls, I wanna see them numbers jump through the roof! The P then circled the room, gesturing furiously and screaming in broken Swahili, the general thrust again being the need to stay up all night crushing our enemies, to see them driven before us, etc. He then strapped on his "wings" (two Disney kites adapted for the purpose) and leapt out the window, flapping furiously but with no effect.
      I felt the P was way off on all this, he's obviously off his rocker, and I told him so. He was stunned, then his face lit up and he came over the desk and stuck his tongue in my mouth, which is the first time he's ever done that. Said Bob, you're the only one I can trust, come away with me to the South Pacific with Bebe and Sinatra, run the show for me.

Saturday, March 10, 1973
P back on the bowling alley again today, wants to add an eleventh pin to all the lanes to jack up his scores, then get the line out on his terrific improvement. Also wants a new staff member assigned specifically to apply anti fungal powder to his feet. Guess there's a bit of fungus there.
     Then back on Watergate. Suggested rounding up the Ervin committee and having them shot. Then softened, decided to pelt them with water balloons at the next hearing, come at the little peckersniffs with all sorts of streamers, sirens and silly whistles, to divert attention from the investigation as much as possible. It's crazy, but it just might work. Problem is how to pull it off without giving the appearance of a cover-up, or insanity.



Author's note (because hey if you read this far, why not?): Rereading this after many many years I concluded that it's about 60% Woody Allen (e.g. the memoir of Hitler's barber) plus 30% Hunter S. Thompson (had read F&L on the Campaign Trail '72 more than once) and then maybe 10% of me is in there somewhere.  Fair enough; I was 26.

16 May 2015

Waste Not Want, Want Not Waste


Get Rich Quick the Slow Way by Arbitraging Laughter (or Staples)

Plus, Also, and In Addition to That:  The Case of the Five Good Friends, Hanging Out

Wait a minute and stop to think there where you are about all the staples sitting idle within millions of documents in hundreds of thousands of filing cabinets or boxes across the nation – and I'm not even talking about the important staples, the ones that go through every page of a document and without which its integrity might be compromised – no, I'm talking about those extra staples, I mean for example let's say you start out with 3 pages on a topic/issue/project and staple them together, and as the thing grows and new versions pile on more staples are added but all too often the staples that were in there from the beginning are not removed and they are just sitting there, redundant, doing work of no particular importance and that is the kind of waste I came here to talk about this morning /evening.  Then when it gets up around twelve pages or more and a regular stapler just ain't cutting it comes that important decision, paper clip or binder clip, and thereafter all of the staples become functionally useless [My italics. Mine.], they may as well be trapped in a whale's belly in Cancun for all the good they are doing the global economy at that point.

But what is all this talk?  Is a staple not of little or no significance in the grand scheme?

Perhaps what we should really be focusing on is not staples, but laughter.  Because laughter is more important than staples.  Anyone wanna argue that point?  No?  Fine, let's pause while I sip of my diet soft drink, which I am drinking directly from the can, and then press on.  See if you can follow the following.

People need laughter, the world needs laughter and the world of people needs laughter even more.  

Lots of spontaneous laughs arise from everyday conversations between people, your everyday Joes and Janies.  


Many folks be quite funny in conversation but their act just doesn't convert to stage or screen. 
 

Some of these are unemployed and looking for jobs, while many of means seek to be entertained and have the scratch to pay for it.

The wealthy often hold cocktail parties at which lots of expensive food goes to waste; meanwhile many talented young humorists survive on cheap empty calories, their malnourished brains groping helplessly for the comic breakthroughs they were born to achieve.  


If we could connect these merry wits to the rich / bored patrons, we could do quite a bit of good against unemployment, slow the concentration of wealth towards the upper end of the tax bracket, and so on.  Some may argue that the internet provides just such a platform; as it does, but a sterile platform it is.  It is one thing to read or write something funny on a blog, or tweet a devastating epigram, but quite another to give life to the cocktail hour with a well-timed bon mot, the witticism that cracks up the whole table in three to eleven precise words that will be carried home and recounted to others, perhaps garner a mention in the society columns or find echoes in future quips during as-yet-unheld soirees. 
 
Consider also The Case of the Five Good Friends, Hanging Out.  They discuss matters near and wide, joking good-naturedly in the fading afternoon, and not infrequently the conversation wanders into alleys hysterical, pretty soon they are doubled over laughing.  How precious is this, and how is it that such priceless hilarity is going to amuse only these five individuals?  Is there not some way we can capture the humor so that it might spread laughter and light to millions around this planet and globe who are desperately in need of access to safe drinking water and comic relief?

Anywhere that there is too much of a thing, be it staples, laughter, or I don’t know, Calvin Klein bunion pads, while in other places people so thirst for that same thing they would willingly fork over currency to lay some in, represents an opportunity to get rich quick, but more than that it represents waste, and waste is a problem we simply cannot waste any more time dallying before we tackle.

This is Alvin Richardson, coming to you live from the Austin Powers Center, where I'm repeatedly picking the pockets of opposing point guards, live on my blog, reporting.