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September 19, 1976 - Image 3

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-09-19

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page four-books
page five-
looking back

Number 2

Editor: Stephen Hersh

Associate Editors: Ann Marie Lipinski, Elaine Fletcher

September 19, 1976

plays and children cheer, cameras flash and pretty
people come to watch.
But when Gerald Ford came to Ann Arbor, things
were different. The band leader got sued when he
decided to play, the children had to weave through
chanting demonstrators, the President fearfully ducked
in his limousine seat when he saw the waving sorority
women on Hill Street, and iisappointed TV camera-
persons had to settle for brief shots of Ford running
through the rain at Willow Run Airport. It just wasn't
"What finally happened," summarized one Ford
aide, "was not what we wanted."
Taking inventory this weekend of the event that
will probably be chronicled as the biggest deal of the
year by local newspapers and yearbooks alike, Univer-
sity scholars shook their heads over Ford's strange ap-
pearance. Quite curious about its famous alumnus, but
wryly amused at the spectacle it sponsored, Ann Arbor
This story was written by Daily night editor Jim Tobin
with files from Phillip Bokovoy, Jay Levin, Ann Marie Lipinski
and Stu McConnell.



is wondering why Ford came here at all. Why was he
cheered? Why was he heckled? And what in the world
was in the minds of the thousands of students who
belted out "The Victors" one moment and booed Ford
the next?
University Journalism Prof. William Porter wrote
a book on Richard Nixon's relations with the press; he
has an idea of why presidents put themselves through
ordeals such as this. And says Porter, "the man just
has great sentimentality for the place. He wanted to
be here and launch his campaign with the football
team. I think he's just that kind of a guy - terribly
sentimental. I heard he originally wanted to hold it in
Michigan Stadium on the morning of the Wisconsin
game. What better way to launch his campaign?"
Though the football motif in the Crisler program
may have seemed out of context in a political rally,
it was business as usual for Bob Ufer - the radio an-
nouncer who broadcasts the Michigan football games.
Ufer is a successful Ann Arbor insurance man, flies a
Michigan flag high above his house and is rumored
to have maize and blue toilet seats. The man is Michi-
gan to thousands of fans who listen to the games on
the radio every football Saturday. And he adores the
image. Wednesday, he stormed out onto the dais to
warm up the swelling Crisler crowd, crooning dramat-
ically into the microphone, spastically waving his arms
as if he were George Cavender directing the Michigan
Marching Band through another rendition of "The Vic-
tors." He frantically welcomed the audience to "Cris-
ler's Cathedral. Cazzie's Castle. or better yet, the home
of the Number One Football Team in Amariea"
"Political figures love identifying themselves with
popular symbols - the flag, Mom, apple pie," said Wil-
liam Gamson, chairman of the Sociology Dept., trying
to explain Wednesday's phenomenon. "Ford used foot-
ball, which is very popular, as something to associate
himself with, because it is a non-devisive, unifying fac-
University cultural anthropoligist Conrad Kottak
was thinking about politics: "The Democrats are per-
ceived as left, the Republicans are perceived as right.
You see Jimmy Carter using rock stars in his cam-
paign - rock has traditionally been associated with
the left. And Ford uses football - football has tra-
ditionally been associated with the right. The Republi-
cans (at the Crisler speech) tried to identify with
football. Football unifies American culture regardless
of ethnic group or class. They're simply using football,
something all Americans share."
AN ANN ARBOR SATURDAY was in the air; that was
certain. Ford himself fed into the mood by pro-
claiming he'd "rather run against Jimmy Carter than
Harlan Huckleby any day of the week," and donning
a Wolverine parka when his address was over. But for
all the sensations, this was no football battle. The
stakes were higher. Ford had as much to lose as he
did to gain with his campaign kickoff, and it took
either guts or startling naivete to stage it all in Crisler
Arena. Which was it? Might he have been courting
hecklers? He was almost booed off the stage when he
spoke at the 1974 commencement exercises here as
vice-president. Why didn't he shun the place forever,
quaking at the thought of belligerent young radicals?
"He probably thought there wasn't a rIsk involved,"

Gamson said. "Ford is not a person that stirs up strong
passion. There's no war going on, just drifting issues."
"I don't think Ford was afraid to face the stu-
dents," said Kottack. "He knew there was nothing he
had done in national policy that would stir up students
like Nixon or Johnson or even Humphrey."
WHERE WERE THOSE LOST students of the Sixties?
There was shouting opposition to much of what Ford
said, to be sure, but no scheme of disruption. The time
for that, apparently, was past. The Movement was not
reincarnated at Crisler.
"There were many major issues and social move-
ments ten years ago," said Gamson. "But this is just
a presidential campaign with a bland and conservative

The reason for the lack of dissent may be even
more basic than that, hypothesized History Prof. Ray-
mond Grew. It just might have been that good old
homespun, home team pride.
"People from Michigan tend to feel like they're not
appreciated," said Grew, "So they're proud just to have
somebody from the state make President, even if he's
not much of a President."
What of Ford himself? He told reporters the next
day that "overall, it was great." But it is clear that his
staff - or somebody - botched things up horribly. In
particular, almost all the media were excluded from
the obvious main "media event" of the day - Ford's
question-and-answer session with 20 University stu-


"A lot of people went to phis because it was a spec-
tacle. It was something to see. The President of the
United States was there, and they were curious. People
didn't come to heckle."
Kottack went a step furtner. "There's a class ele-
ment when you're talking about students. Ford repre-
sents the Republican party, which is a middle and
upper-middle class party, and most college kids belong
to the upper middle and middle classes. The issues that
Ford and Carter are opposite on - unemployment,
health care, and so on - aren't very exciting to most
"College age kids are not being affected as much
now as they were by the problems of the Vietnam war.
I was at the earliest teach-ins at Columbia University
and we were concerned about the immediate danger of
being drafted."

White House press secretary Ron Nessen said Ford
didn't want to "exploit" the students, but advance
man Doug Blaser said it was "simply a matter of con-
fusion and congestion. It was only closed at the last
minute because of room size and the number of stu-
Whatever the reasons, observers are not com-
menting favorably on the end result.
"I think unquestionably it would have been bet-
ter (to have allowed the media entry into the session)
but someone at the last minate decided not to," said
Porter. "If you're going to stage a media event, you
should milk all the opportunities for what they're
James McCartney, Free Press Washington corres-
pondent, questioned the validity of the reasoning Nes-
See FORD, Page 4


THE RIDER SQUIRMS into the cockpit
of the kayak, gets a firm grip on the
double-bladed paddle, and bounces out
into the frothy river. He fights the cur-
rent to keep the boat from smashing into
the numerous boulders. If he doesn't watch
his step, he may be thrown headlong into
the next world, in a loud splash of creamy
white water and a shower of shattered
kayak shards.
The roar of approaching falls suddenly
fills his ears, and in a moment he is upon
them. It seems like a long drop - long
enough, anyway, to make him almost lose

with de
his balance. But he manages to stay up-
right, and as soon as his kayak hitssthe
water again, the swift current is send-
ing him forward with a vengance. He's
surrounded by trees, blue sky and bright
sunlight, but he's oblivious to the scenery.
The sights are overshadowed in his mind
by the raging water.
For the members of Ann Arbor's kayak-
ing club - which is called the Raw
Strength and Courage organization, or
RS&C - moments like these are the most
thrilling life has to offer.
"It's the most intimate combination of
man and boat I've ever come across,"




says Paul Lang, a long time RS&C mem-
ber and an experienced kayaker. Lang,
whose thin, wiry frame could only be
called an asset in this sport, explains his
feelings toward kayaking this way:
"It's frightening, but you lose your fear
as soon as you start battling the thing.
Then you can start having some fun." But
Lang admits, "At times, when you finish
you just have to look back with relief."
There's an ever-present threat of losing
control of the boat, and this gives white-
water kayaking its hard-edged, dangerous
flavor - especially onl a river that's new
and unfamiliar to the sportsperson.

"On a new river," says Lang, "you can't
see where the rapids are but you can hear
them roaring. When you come to a falls
that you haven't scouted, you don't know
what's below. You just lay back and let
the current throw you a little, and try
to keep your balance with the paddle. I
guess it's a lot like being in a washing ma-
RUT KAYAKING ON a straight course
down turbulent rivers is not enough
to satisfy the RS&C members' lust for ad-
venture. And so they specialize in white-
water slalom competition, which involves
dodging between obstacles, going back-
wards as well as forwards.
A slalom course has 20 to 30 "gates" -
two poles hung a yard or more apart, just
above the water. Like the slalom skiler,
the slalom paddler is scored according to
his course time, the number of poles the
boat or paddle touches, and paddling style.
"It's a test of finesse as well as endur-
ance," Bill Black, another member of
RS&C is quick to point out. "A typical
course is run in only about four minutes,
but it's much more intense than something
like wrestling, for instance."
Black, who is 28 years old, began build-
ing and paddling kayaks about three years
ago. Although kayak - making has become
a nearly full-time occupation for him, he
still finds time for weekend travels with
other RS&C members, once or twice a
month, to the national white water com-
petitions held in the Anpalachian streams
of Pennsylvania. New York. Maryland and
Viroinia. The rivers in those states by
fnr outclass the Michigan streams in terms
of Pvan4-n, nv"

so. For true adventure and serious compe-
tition, nothing less than the most difficult
will do.
Though the qualities of raw strength
and courage certainly may be an asset in
slalom kayaking, training and practice
are equally essential. I discovered that
myself, this summer, when on the relative
safety of Silver Lake, I paddled one of
these boats for the first time. It seemed

- or,

.. ... ..

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