Above is the envelope containing the role of film I shot at the Watergate hearings. I went there with the guitar player from my band, Bob Barnes. The trip might have been his idea. Watergate was the hip thing and Bob was a hip guy.
I remember at the time I was painting a mural inside a hippie-ish crisis call center in downtown Rockville but spending much of the day watching the hearings on the TV in the room. The hearings Bob and I attended were not the exciting ones, like John Dean or the revelation of the secret tapes. Instead, they featured the droning testimony of Maurice Stans, who had been the Commerce Secretary in the Nixon administration but was the treasurer for CREEP, the Committee to Re-Elect the President.
SIDE NOTE: I played a gig for CREEP. No idea how or why — my band was a typical Top 40 cover band made up of shaggy youngsters. Up With People we were not. But whoever booked us sent over a 45 r.p.m. disc of the campaign’s theme song, Nixon’s the One. We had to learn it for the show. Also for reasons I cannot recall, that record is not in my collection.
The gig was at some big building in Arlington, Va., maybe Crystal City. (Oh, sorry — “National Landing.” Bite me, Bezos.) Most of my memories are of button-down Republicans giving us the side-eye, or in one case tossing off the witticism, “Is that a boy or a girl?” The only positive attention, and it wasn’t much, came when we played Nixon’s the One. Man, I wish I still had that record.
[UPDATE: My pal Peter Gilstrap did a fantabulous interview with the composer of Nixon’s the One, Vic Caesar. It is one wild ride!]
SIDER NOTE: Years later I would play on an anti-Nixon song, Don’t Buy Books By Crooks, which was a protest over the disgraced president getting millions of dollars to write his memoirs. The group was featured on the Today Show but I didn’t feel like going to New York.
Anyway. I thought that I had taken photos inside the hearing room, but I didn’t. Probably because it was not allowed. I do have shots of people lined up outside the Capitol, some interior shots of the architecture, and shots of the many police overlooking the crowd. Plus Bob clowning around. And there are pictures of the hearings on my bedroom TV.
When the transcripts of the tapes were released, my uncle asked me to buy him a copy. Uncle Gene had been Nixon’s roommate in the Navy. (He was also Jimmy Stewart‘s roommate at Princeton. And my cousin went to high school with Martha Stewart. But I digress.)
Gene and Nixon remained friends. Here’s a picture of Uncle Gene welcoming Dick and Pat Nixon to Binghamton during the 1960 presidential campaign. He was on the reviewing stand for the first Inauguration. (At the same time that Led Zeppelin was playing at the Wheaton Youth Center!) I have the official button he wore.
So I dutifully stood in line at the Government Printing Office and bought two copies, one for Uncle Gene and one for me. Gene was a staunch defender of Nixon but after sending him the transcript book there wasn’t much discussion.
That book is in my archives. Still looking for a copy of Nixon’s the One.