November, 1973: Things were appearing to become more intense in Washington. Robert Bork, third in line in the Department of Justice, after firing Archibald Cox appointed Leon Jaworski as the new Watergate Special Prosecutor. President Nixon had asked Attorney General Elliott Richardson to do it and Richardson had refused and resigned!
Nixon then had asked Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox and he, like Richardson, refused and also resigned. Even with Bork, things didn’t look much better for Nixon!
Even though the Arab/Israeli War had ended, there was an Arab oil embargo causing an energy crisis! People started worrying about what the next crisis would be. Domestic or foreign?
With all this in mind, I went to meet Paul Bartel at Dorrian’s Red Hand on Second Avenue just around the corner from my apartment.
It was a day that felt like Spring. Paul had walked over from his apartment on the West Side through Central Park and, commenting on how beautiful it was, said that it really was possible to escape from all the turmoil and bad news.
We were going to see a French film called “Contes Immoraux” (“Immoral Tales”) directed by Walerian Borowczyk, someone even a cineast like Paul didn’t know much about except that he was Polish and had directed several of the French Emanuelle series. The most interesting thing about it, aside from the erotic imagery and the nudity, was that Paloma Picasso was in it playing a countess during the 1700s who liked to bathe in the blood of virgins!
The film was being described as almost hard core pornography for intellectuals. That might have been the draw for Paul aside from his tremendous interest in Polish filmmakers.
Afterwards we went to The Brasserie with a lot to talk about!
A week later I was on a train on my way to Huntington Station on Long Island. My oldest friend from when both of our mothers were pregnant (that’s how far back we go) was living in Kings Point and I was taking a break from the city and visiting her and her husband.
As we were traveling north I quickly noticed a building on fire. We couldn’t stop, of course, nor did I ever find out what the situation was. Such is life. The anonymity of life in the big city.
Jumping forward to February, 1974 — but I’ll be coming back to 1973 later.
In early January Nixon’s secret tape recordings were subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee and Nixon refused to hand them over!
Upon their ultimate release it was discovered there was an 18-minute erasure on the tapes. It was never determined what had been erased but Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon’s secretary, accepted responsibility for “accidentally” erasing the tapes.
This raised a lot of suspicion and questions along with a lot of satirical comments from comedians!
Comedian Bill Horwitz composed and performed a song, “If I Had A Friend Like Rosemary Woods.”
If I had a friend like Miss Rose Mary Woods,
How simple my life would be.
I’d just give all my problems to Rose Mary Woods
and she would erase them for me.
Each time I was wrong or each time that I lied,
Or somebody made me scared,
I would simply report them to Rose Mary Woods,
and she would make them disappear.
Oh Row, Row, Row,
Rosy just you and me
Row, Row, Row.
How faithful can one friend be?
There’s a lot more and it’s available on YouTube.
To add to the every day drama, University of California student Patricia Hearst, the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped from her apartment by a group called The Symbianese Liberation Army. It was led by Donald DeFreeze calling himself General Cinque.
He had been incarcerated at Soledad Prison, walked away from a work detail and joined a group of extreme anti-fascist urban guerrillas who then assassinated Oakland, California’s Superintendent of Schools denouncing him as fascist!
After the Hearst kidnapping they demanded from the Hearst family $230 million in food for the poor and it appeared that Patricia Hearst had joined them as she called the Hearsts “pigs” in a voice mail with General Cinque which was sent to Bay Area Pacifica Network station KPFA-fm!
Could the world become any more weird and unlikely?
Nevertheless life went on kind of like it had previously — which had already been quite unusual.
And Channing Chase, thinking of how I’d helped Streisand, asked if I would help her find a look as she had been nominated for an award for her theater work and had to make a special appearance!
We started at Lord & Taylor.
We didn’t find anything that was interesting enough for a theatrical award.
We took a quick lunch break and I thought of some of the chic boutiques that were on the Upper East Side near Bloomingdales. We found one on 60th Street just down from Yellowfingers and Channing tried on a gold satin shirt and gold satin pants that looked like they were made for her!
I suggested she unbutton the topmost buttons and fill in the neckline with pearls! She looked — charismatic! Finally we went shopping for gold high-heels, strappy barely there heels!
She was really ready and with her shoulder-length blonde hair could have gotten an award simply for how she looked — if you can imagine a mix of a bit of Grace Kelly with a lot of Lauren Bacall!
We ended up celebrating a little at Schrafft’s!
Finally, Randolph Hearst agreed to give $2 million dollars for food for the poor in order to negotiate the release of his daughter!
Just the day before, an unemployed former salesman attempted to hijack a plane and crash it into The White House with the intention of killing President Nixon. And just as we were celebrating our good fortune at Schrafft’s, ex-California State Senator and Oakland Tribune publisher and editor William F. Knowland was committing suicide!
The fun was evidently not going to stop!