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February 08, 1976 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1976-02-08

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'age Fou'k

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, -ebruary 8, IVI'

BOOI

KS

Frustrating search for Watergate's niche

Simon essay collection captures
the acid tongue and lucid prose

THE TIME OF ILLUSION the non-fiction.
by Jonathan Schell. Knopf: Having weathered the bulk of
New York, 1975, 392 pp., $10. these "true confessions," the
public is now being hit with
By GORDON ATCHESON books that look for the perspec-
BOOKS ABOUT Watergate tive on Watergate, its meaning
seem to appear in cycles. and impact on history. Jona-
They keep coming-eachgroup than Schell's The Te of II-
taking a different view of the lusion is one such compendium.
scandals and skullduggery. HE AUTHOR, a young staff
First were the living histor- writer for The New Yorker,
ies of the incident. These were attempts to recount Richard
the books and documents that Nixon's six-year tenure in the
told a portion of the tale and White House and in doing so to
often became part of the body find out what went sour with the
of evidence against the partici- American system. He tries to
pants. Into this category fall answer the question: "Why
Nixon's version of the Oval Of- Watergate?"
fice tapes, the Senate and Most of the book is given to
House committee reports, and a review of the Nixon Adminis-
All the President's Men - the tration's deeds and misdeeds.
story behind the stories that Schell caps The Time of Illu-
got the whole investigation mov- sion with a commentary in
ing toward truth rather than which he elaborates on his the-
whitewash. sis that Watergate - not so
In short measure arrived the much the operation itself but
personal accounts by the per- the mentality behind it - was
petrators of the dirty tricks, the logical, inevitable outgrowth
who occasionally wrote their of the government's handling of
works while in prison. These the Vietnam war.
journalistic enterprises includ- Schell zeroes in on the contra-
ed the books by Jeb Magruder diction between public state-,
and Charles Colson. Of course, ments about the war and Water-
the cycle has not run its course gate and events as they actual-
yet. Nixon's own memoirs have ly happened. Hence the illu-
not been published. But they, sion foisted on the American
like most of the others, pro- people.}
bably ought to be shelved "The distortions in the con-
among the novels rather than duct of the presidency which

deformed national politics in the
Vietnam years - the isolation
from reality, the rage against
political opposition, the hung-
er for un-Constitutional power,
the conspirational - mindedness,
the bent for repressive action
- knew no party lines," Schell
states.
A ND IN that he is quite cor-
rect. Presidents Kennedy
and Johnson both used those
mechanisms to keep the peo-
ple from knowing just what was
going on in Indochina. Nixon,
in turn, continued and intensi-
fied that type of conduct. ,
But Schell's quantum leap inj
saying that Watergate was the
child of such policies just can-
not be accepted. The secrecy
over Vietnam sprung out of the
dual desire to retain political
power and to end the war as
efficiently as possible.
Kennedy and Johnson feared,
rightly so, that if the American
public knew what was going on
in Vietnam that the adminis-
tration in power would be driv-
en from office. Thus the peo-
ple could not be told the whole
ctr At th p, cam, time h..W-

maintains, Watergate is not a
variation on this theme: it was
born purely of political ambi-
tion - the good of the country
in no way entered into the for-
mula. That is the key differ-
ence. The seeds came not from
the abuses perpetrated in the.
prosecution of the war but rath-
er originated in Nixon's need
to stay on top.
stlme-ctnd,
WATERGATE is more a gro-
tesque magnification of Nix-
on's own political strategy than
of the win-the-war methods em-,
ployed in Vietnam. important events that probably
deserve greater attention. For
Witness Richard Nixon, an! example, the Saturday Night
unknown congressman who, in Massacre, in which Nixon dis-
1947, seizes on the Alger Hiss missed Special Watergate Pro-
case and rides public paranoia secutor Archibald Cox, only
about Communism to a promi- earns a couple of sentences
nent place on the front pages from Schell. Yet, in many re-
of newspapers across the coun- spects it was the turning point
try. Then, while running for the for Nixon - he crossed the Ru-
Senate, Nixon has one of his bican but lift his army of sup-
henchmen paint his opponent as porters on the other side.
being soft on Communism{
through innuendo and lie - Nonetheless, Schell's exhaus-.
chalk up another victory for the tive, meticulous research may
man from Whittier and for dirty j have produced the best - al-
tricks. beit brief, overview of the Nix-

SINGULARITIES by J o h n1
Simon, Random House, 1975,t
239 pp.; cloth, $12.95; paper,
$4.95
By JEFFREY SELBST
OHN SIMON revels in con-
trariness. If everyone ac-
claims Joseph Papp for bringing;
Shakespeare to the people in
Central Park, Simon sneers at
the operation. If Jerzy Grotow-
ski and Robert Wilson are her.
alded as the esoteric magisters
ludi of the theatrical world, then
Simon feels compelled to write
them off as miguided idiots.
The question is, does he pos-
ture in such inflated critical
terms in order that his acerbic
decrees may be regarded ash
witty, or that he may be re-
garded somehow far above the
heads of the audience for which
and to which he writes? Or does
John Simon, out of his intense
love for (and knowledge of) the
theatre, believe what he is tell-
ing us.
In this collection of theatrical

planation of what has been call- art. But this is a mistake.
ed his misanthropy, his unwill-: They do have something to
ingness to excuse anything at say, and because it runs afoul
a 11. Artistically, within the of one of Simon's cherished
drama, this can be understood. prejudices, he ignores their val-
But Simon has been known to idity. Basically, their experi-
attack a performer for no other ments, however crude, have to
reason than that he/she is phy- do with a theater of visual ef-
sically unsuited to the part fect and impression, dealing
they're portraying on stage. less and less with the import-
In fending off those who would ance of the spoken word.
criticize such a position, Simon Simon holds the belief that,
sonuds superior and defensive,' if the spoken word is available
but yet, he is forging a codenI for use, then not to use it is
of criticalhperceptions and pre- affectation and idiocy. One of
rogatives that is important to Simon's fatal flaws is a remark-
recognize. able close-mindedness.
What he is saying in these and But the strength and clarity
.hiothe essayg on thesect nof the papers which set forth
is therthessacritic hsubjecty his ideas on criticism and re-
to discuss absolutely everything viewing are well worth the time
from the beauty of the charac-' taken for their perusal, and for
ters to the composition of the any drama critic, study. For
program, that deals with the Simon is a thoughtful and very
theatre at hand, offered tip to intelligent man, capable (when
the public. not blinded by conceit) of ad-
Simon also demonstrates his mitting his limitations.
lack of belief in the validity of This book is written with that
popular stage works such as:sharp and justly famous Simon
those by Inge or Neil Simon by wit. One or two of the essays
dismissing them-he is a true are rough going, but for the
elitist in any sense of the word. most part, the prose is slick
Relentlessly he pursues revolu- and highly readable. His book is
tionary movements in theatre' highly opinionated - and at
but with this distinction-they times insufferable - but it is
must be honest. In a piece on also the product of a premier
Grotowski and one on Wilson, critic and, all in all, a top notch
he analyzes the output of these product.
"new-style" directors and finds
them phony to the core, and Jeffree Selbst is a member of
thus dismisses anything they The Daily's Arts and Entertain-
might have to say about the: meat staff.
- - - - - - -

h 1 4 h

Deciding on
a Law Career?

L1te same 111, 1u
ey believed their war Although Schell's analysis
could bring peace tomThe Tim f allusisj
a. They were right on may fail, Teime of Iluin
ia. heywer riht n ksucceeds as a chronicle of the
proposition and griev- NixonceesidencyTh re er'
rong on the second. xon presidency. e read
ry to what Schell glimpses the administration as
it appeared to the insiders.
W For instance, we see the de-
velopment of the secret Huston
plan to disrupt dissidents unfoldj
as it was drawn up by Nixon's
staffers instead of as some-
thing the public only heard
about months after the fact.
TIE BOOK is, however, very
much a book of policy rath-
er than personality. It looks at
what the administration did,
but not the people who did it.
The Time of Illusion is not the
anecdote -laden breezy account
that The Palace Guard by Dan
Rather and Gary Paul Gates is.
) P M *Schell discusses a much
broader range of activities than
did Rather and Gates but in do-
ing so gives short shrift to some

I
t

on's years in office. Unfortu- essays, written over the last
nately, the book contains noth- decade, John Simon, theatre
I ing that hasn't been published critic for New York and former
' before. Still, the reader will be Esquire film critic, shows that
amazed by the bits and pieces he is not only the master of
of Watergate that he or she expository prose-this book is
missed along the way: Charles filled with some of the most
Colson's plan to blow up the lucid and cogent writing I've
Brookings Institute because of seen in essay form-but also
its "anti-Nixon" bent or Alex- that his criticism folows a pat-
ander Butterfield's testimony tern of principle set down in
about Nixon's obsession with one section of this group of
proper protocol for social papers.
events and his decision that the
salad course should not be serv- IIMON BELIEVES that a cri-
ed at gatherings of fewer than tic k n o w s infinitely more
eight people. about his/'her subject than the
.,uumenc. re -A n a t upHtHn'

i
.

i

I
I
i

Tattooing: Revival
of an ancient art

-LA

INFORMATION NIGHT

All in all, The Time of Illu-
sion stands as a good overview
-a starting point - but it
lacks depth and substance,;
j which are vital in unravelling
the political knot of Watergate.
Schell fails to truly answer his
initial question.
GTrdoin Atcheson is a former',
co-editor-in-chief of The Da lY.

audience, and acts upon tnat
idea. This may sound insuffer-;
erable perhaps. But when one,
thinks of the kinds of audiences
that the usual Broadway show
drnws_ neole whn see mavbe

(Continued from Page 3)
- -

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University Values Program

uas, PepiW1V p la yG farted around with different
a dozen offerings each year, one styles and techniques - adjust-
realizes that such conviction, for ing the gun just kind of spent
all its sound, is probably true. some time figuring out how we
A critic sees everything, the wanted to do things," Painless
bad with the good, and though recalls. "Just like any other ar-
Simon feels that most of what tist, the tattooist has his own
is offered up as theatre each style, his own little secrets."
season is fairly horrible, he in-
sists upon his right as a critic The gun, a contraption that
to say so. It is by viewing looks a little like a cross be-
enough of these monstrosities, tween a dentist drill and a
he claims, that one can develop Flash Gordon ray gun, is used
the judgment to determine what to "shoot" the actual tattoo'
is garbage. onto the skin. A sterilized nee-
This is set down in an essay die is inserted in the mouth of
entitled "Advice to the Hate- the gun and then dipped in the
lorn" (1972). After describing appro priate color ink. Once, theI
the quantity of hate-mail he gun is turned on, the ink is in-
gets each week, he notes that laid about 1/64 of an inch un-
the most interesting type is derneath the skin as the needle
that which includes the demand vibrates from 1,000 to 3,000
that he be "summarily sacked." times a minute.
As usual, this essay is as
abrasive as he can muster. "But A S RECENTLY as 10 years
serious criticism is an art, a ago, all tattoos were done
mode of perception and expres- in black India ink. Since the ink
sion, an ability to evaluate; had a tendency to fade and
based on multiplicity of experi- spread, the old tattoos aged
ence and-less definably-taste. into massive, dull blue blotches
And here mass opinion has more within several years. The mod-
often been proved wrong than ern tattooist uses a more stable
right. Like any other artist, dye made up of sulfate-oxide
than tL iOhCi i ii ld

it's not so bad and they settle
down."
Painless John likes to tell
stories about his timid clients.
"One gal from Veterans Hos-
pital came in and told us she
wanted a tattoo," Painless be-
gan with a sly smile, "Said
sh'd always wanted one but she
could never get up her nerve to
get thetdamned thing. Wel, we
talked to her for . a while and
convinced herand she said
she'd come back (with some-
-one to hold her hand) and settl-
ed in and as we were gettin'
ready she started. sweatin' up a
storm. When we finally .clob-
bered her up, she went a little
buggy-eyed at first but that
was it."

.. .tom :. , w . : '. -^, -u,. . ,{,
*!

Despite their expertise, there's
one question that "Painless
John" and Stinger have not
yet been able to answer. Just
why do their customers want
tattoos? "I guess a lot of it
is kind of a spur of the mo-
ment thing" mused Ardner.
"They see somebody else's tat-
too and they say - 'Hey, I
want something like that."
STINGER thinks it's the ma-
chismo influence. "It's sup-
posed to prove you're a man or
a toughie or a roughneck," he
said.

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then, the critic woui oe sus-
pect if he did not-by not being
only of his time-antagonize the
multitude."
HE IS ACTUALLY offering up
a defense, or rather, an ex-
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I owders and mixed with a sub-
stance right off the bathroomI
shelf - Listerine mouthwash.
The germ-killing nature of Lis-
terine acts as a disinfectant.

Despite the recent popularity The tattoos on customer Ron
of tattooing, accompanied by Potter's rapidly multiplied af-
improvements in technique and ter he got the first. "Well, I'd
safety measures, John Ardner never had one before and I
and Stinger have their share of thought I'd try 'em," he says.
frightened customers with a; "So I went down and got one
f clutch of old wives tales. One of and now I got seven. The first
the myths they say has been one was an eagle inside a dia-
hardest to quash is that tattoo- mond, the diamond kind of like
ing is painful. "People think it background, and then I figured
hurts more than it does," Ard-; since I had one, I might as well
ner maintains. "Really, it just get some more.
stings a bit, that's al." ge

But while Painless claims tat-
tooing is virtually painless, he+
continually refers to its place-
ment on the skin with wordsG
like clobber. "Once they get
clobbered with it, they realize

Potter's not done yet and
promises, "I'm gonna get one
+ more, kind of a cartoon charac-
ter - I can't remember his
name - with a cowboy hat and
two six shooters in his hands,
something like that."

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