|My high school senior picture displays the attitude I had toward my parents at the time, who moved our family cross-country after my junior year: to prove they did not have COMPLETE power over me, I stopped cutting my hair. Clearly, I was hurting only myself. In the first year of this blog, I wrote about this move, and my senior year at Kennedy High in Los Angeles, here.|
I couldn't imagine a worse time to force a kid to change schools than the summer between his junior and senior year in high school, so I was having a bittersweet final semester at Riverwood High. One of the bright spots of my day was the period during which I assisted the chair of the English Dept.
|I developed friendships with Riverwood High's English Dept |
faculty, particularly with chair Gail Thompson (l) and
drama coach Peyton Potter (r).
I did this two years running, and was dubbed "Head Aide" by the English Dept faculty; I spent fifth period every day in the small A/V room adjacent to the faculty offices, running off tests (does anybody remember mimeograph? The smell of the ink was intoxicating) or doing other menial tasks for the English Dept.. If the TV was not otherwise engaged, I was allowed to flick it on to keep myself company; it was thus that I became aware of the gent who inspired this week's Dance Party:
The characters who appeared on the witness stand, and on the committee dais, were worthy of a theatre piece.
|"What did the President know,|
and when did he know it?"
Sen. Howard Baker (at left) repeatedly
inquired, launching his career and a
The senators included Howard Baker, who was just beginning a stellar career in the Republican party, and cranky loon Herman Talmadge, one of my own Georgian senators. The panel was headed by a guy right out of central casting, Sen. Sam Irvin from North Carolina, whose folksy Southern drawl masked a relentless inquisitor. And who could forget some of the characters on the witness stand? Mousy John Dean's revelation that Nixon had a long hit list of enemies for whom he had directed the FBI to create files rivaled the astonishment that a geeky guy like Dean could have such a glamorous wife.
|Nixon chief counsel John Dean and his hot wife Maureen, who became a minor celebrity at the time. Before their marriage, Mo Dean was linked to a high class ring of call girls in DC.|
|Mouthy Martha Mitchell became famous for her|
late-night, alcohol induced calls to the press.
And no one could forget the running commentary provided in the press by Martha Mitchell, the wife of Attorney General and Chief Conspirator John Mitchell; Mrs. Mitchell would get drunk at night and call members of the press with her hilarious observations.
I loved all this stuff, it was better than As The World Turns. Since I never watched The Fugitive, it was during these hearings that I first saw a one-armed man, Sen. Daniel Inouye.
|Our hero receives the Medal Of Honor.|
He was one of the most reticent of the senators on the committee, and at the time I had no idea he was already an American hero. He lost that arm in WWII combat, and became Hawaii's first congressional representative when those islands became a state. When he died this week, he was the sitting senator with the most seniority, and in fact he served in the Senate longer than anyone else in history except that old Byrd from West Virginia. He served with quiet distinction as he rose in the ranks. He chaired several prestigious committees, including the one which investigated another Republican president's ethical lapses, the Iran/Contra affair.
|At the far left is the Watergate committee minority counsel,|
responsible for maintaining legal integrity for the
Republicans. He is now known as actor Fred Thompson.
This week his coffin was lying in state at the Capitol building, a very rare honor usually reserved for dead presidents.
Inouye came from a long ago era when elected officials felt an obligation to Do Good, rather than Make Headlines; I'm ashamed to say I did not know he was still in the Senate. But I make up for my lack of awareness with this week's Dance Party, dedicated to the man who, after Don Ho, Barack Obama, and King Kamehameha, is the most famous Hawaiian ever. The star of this week's clip is another moderately famous Hawaiian, singing the song which is considered the official state song of Hawaii. As Senator Inouye is being laid to rest in Hawaii this weekend, I imagine this gentle tune will be playing in tribute.