Category Archives: Best Of The Past

Favorite Female Music Voices

by Rick Bretz

Interesting voices have always been pleasant to hear. The selections below from the music industry are based on these measures: Passion, Versatility, Outstanding Live Performances, and the best one, does it catch your ear and pull you in.  A voice can be deep, gravelly, soprano, alto, clear, clean, distinctive, have range, and illicit an emotional response.  This list of ten can be longer because there are many voices that please the ear while doing daily activities.  These are just a few of the voices that make my list.

Maria McKee, Lead Singer for Lone Justice as well as a solo performer. Favorites: Shelter; Ways to be Wicked; Sweet. Sweet Baby, Show Me Heaven, Breathe, Wheels. She has an incredible stage presence and can sing a ballad or belt out a rock and roll tune that mesmerizes audiences.

 

Stevie_Nicks_-_1977

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQzY97UCXns

Stevie Nicks, Member of Buckingham/Nicks, Fleetwood Mac as well as solo performer and back-up singer for many other artists. Favorites:  Dreams, Standback, Stop Draggin my Heart Around, Silver Spring, Landslide, Nightbird. One of the most instantly recognizable voices in the music business and an equally impressive song writer.

Ann Wilson (Heart), Lead Singer for Heart. Favorites: Crazy on You, Barracuda, Straight On, Magic Man, Never, Dream Boat Annie.  Her voice can send chills when she hits certain notes.

https://www.axs.com/10-best-bonnie-raitt-songs-52636

Bonnie Raitt, Pop and Blues singer and outstanding guitarist. Favorites:  Nick of Time, Not the Only One, Thing Called Love, Angel From Montgomery.  Her voice is clean and can handle a ballad or blue tune. She sets the mood with her voice no matter what genre she sings.

Janice Joplin, Member of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Solo Artist. Favorites: Piece of My Heart, Mercedes Benz, Ball and Chain. Me and Bobby McGee. Passion and memorable live performances define this legend’s reputation.

Linda Ronstadt, Member of The Stone Poneys and solo artist. Favorites: Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, Hurt So Bad, Blue Bayou, You’re No Good. She is the one performer who can take a classic hit  from another performer and make it her own.  She has been able to make her mark in many different musical tastes throughout her career.

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Grace Slick, Member of The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Starship. Favorites: White Rabbit, Somebody to Love, Wrecking Ball, Dreams, Seasons. Her voice on White Rabbit hypnotizes the listener while on Somebody to Love she shows off how she can do voice gymnastics when she needs it.

Adele, Solo Performer. Favorites: Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You, Skyfall, When We Were Young.  Just listening to Rolling in the Deep should give you an idea of why she is considered one of the best voices to come along in a while. The Jame Bond theme Skyfall is fine example of her vocal skill also.

Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders), Lead Singer for Pretenders. Favorites: Back on the Chain Gang, Brass In Pocket, Don’t Get Me Wrong, Talk of the Town.  The Pretenders’ classic Back on the Chain gang features Hynde’s voice in all of its glory as she goes up and down the scale.

Aimee Mann (Til Tuesday), Favorites: Voices Carry, Coming Up Close, What About Love, Lucky, Love in a Vacuum.  Mann’s  voice cuts through the music on everything she sings, especially for Voices Carry and What  About Love.

Other interesting voices

Rickie Lee Jones, Natalie Merchant, Sara McLaughlin, Melissa Etheridge, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar, Tracy Chapman, Joan Armatrading, Mama Cass,  Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde), Amy Winehouse, Christine McVie, Annie Lennox, Debbie Harry, Lady Gaga, Kate Bush, Christina Aguilera, Enya.

 

It’s a MAD, MAD, MAD World

by Rick Bretz

Two movies, one bomb. The movies Fail Safe (1964) and Dr. Strangelove (1964) will always be linked together for the year they were released and the different take that each had on the same idea of nuclear proliferation. One really isn’t better than the other movie.  Each approach the idea of nuclear war during the Cold War in different ways.

Dr_-Strangelove-War-Room

There’s nothing like a discussion about Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and movies that speak to the topic. With all of this talk about Rocket Man, North Korea’s testing program and nuclear build up and proliferation, I think it is time to revisit two movies which came out at the same time that addressed the idea of MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. The two movies are Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.  They are both classic movies and meet the idea of a doomsday scenario with fear and dismay.

One was a serious look at how mankind could be destroyed if weapon use, policies and procedures were not well thought out.  The other was a brilliant movie about the absurdity of it all and the personalities that could bring to fruition such a chain of events.

Both featured military officers who lost their composure due to personal issues.  At the same time, these officers were also with people who provided a reasonable voice during the madness. Strangelove, memorably, also featured Peter Sellers playing three roles.  In one of my favorite characters of all time, Sterling Hayden gives us General Jack D. Ripper, a general who doesn’t have all of his chess pieces.

In the interest of full disclosure, I consider Dr. Strangelove one of the best satire movies of all time. Just about every line in the script is brilliant.  The idea that man would destroy itself is a concept to horrifying to contemplate for an extended time.  Therefore, the only real course of action is to just ridicule and laugh at the thought.

Fail Safe

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Fail Safe, directed by the equally legendary Sydney Lumet, is a serious study of policy, procedure and the decision making process required to save mankind.  Spoiler alert here…. Henry Fonda portrayed the President of the United States with a likable quality in a situation where he had to make decisions no one would want to make, namely taking out an American city to save the world.   The movie had the unfortunate luck of being released after Dr. Strangelove thanks to Kubrick employing the court system after he  found out the serious movie Fail Safe was being produced.  He knew the first one to be released would be the most successful.  Strangelove was released first and did well while Fail Safe didn’t not sell well.   Time has elevated both movies to cult status.  Fail Safe is considered a well thought out, intelligent perspective on nuclear warfare while Dr. Strangelove is considered a classic satire with several quotable lines in the dialogue.

Lines from Dr. Strangelove

General Jack D. Ripper: But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

President Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.

General Jack D. Ripper: Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.

Major T. J. “King” Kong: Goldie, how many times have I told you guys that I don’t want no horsing around on the airplane?

General Jack D. Ripper: For God’s sake, Mandrake! In the name of Her Majesty and the continental congress, get over here and feed me this belt.

Major T. J. “King” Kong: Well, I’ve been to one World Fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJjMPHhuoXQ

Lines from Fail Safe

The President: How did you get to be a translator, Buck? You don’t seem the academic type.

Buck:  I guess I have a talent for languages, sir. I hear a language once I pick it right up. I don’t even know how. They found out about it in the Army.

Gordon Knapp: We’ve told them how to blow up our air-to-air missiles, and with them our planes.

Professor Groeteschele: They know we might have a doomsday system, missiles that would go into action days, even weeks after a war is over and destroy an enemy even after that enemy has already destroyed us.

Gordon Knapp: The more complex an electronic system gets, the more accident prone it is. Sooner or later it breaks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9R3w8wDrmM

 

Definitions:

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)- is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender (see pre-emptive nuclear strike and second strike).[1] It is based on the theory of deterrence, which holds that the threat of using strong weapons against the enemy prevents the enemy’s use of those same weapons. The strategy is a form of Nash equilibrium in which, once armed, neither side has any incentive to initiate a conflict or to disarm.

Game theory is the analysis of how decision makers interact in decision making to take into account reactions and choices of the other decision makers. International conflict and other phenomena in international relations occur as a result of decisions made by people

Notable Links:

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/10/fail_safe_50th_anniversary_sidney_lumet_s_nuclear_war_movie_is_better_than.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058083/?ref_=nv_sr_1

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057012/?ref_=nv_sr_1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Glasl%27s_model_of_conflict_escalation

http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199743292/obo-9780199743292-0071.xml

 

 

Crafting the Classic Song

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by Rick Bretz

As I write this on a word document, I have always admired people who can string a few memorable words and put them in the correct order.  So with that thought, this is my take on the best songs by great lyricists. As with all of my lists, there are many like it but this one is mine.

Simon and Garfunkel-Sounds of Silence-1964

This is a tour-de-force in songwriting.  Every line of it is unforgettable and it starts with one of the best lines of all time, “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.” As the songs reflects, the “words of the prophets are written on the subway walls” but when this was written down it was gold.

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/simongarfunkel/thesoundofsilence.html

The Eagles-Hotel California-1976

Sometimes you just nail it.  This song is got everything great lyrics, perfect guitar rifts and defining the thin line between a dream and a nightmare.

 

McCartney-Lennon/The Beatles-Eleanor Rigby-1966

Of all the great lines in this song, one for me, still stands out, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from, All the lonely people, where do they all belong.” A simple question but not so easily answered.

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/eleanorrigby.html

 

Jackson Browne, The Pretender-1976

Jackson Browne has delivered many great songs over the years (That Girl Could Sing) but his triumph is “The Pretender” because it covers many themes.  One of the best parts, “I’ve been aware of the time going by, they say in the end it’s a wink of an eye, and when the morning light comes streamin’ in, we’ll get up and do it again, Amen”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ROK1-VvOQ0

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5712

 

Bob Dylan-A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall-1963

This is so good it has been covered by many artists through the years.  I prefer Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians version. This one starts right out with some terrific lines, “I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains, I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways, I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests.”  I have to admit it was a toss-up between this and “The Jokerman.”

http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/1099/

 

Tracy Chapman-At This Point in my Life-1995

Most people like Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” song from 1988.  I like that one also, but I like this one better because it is reflective.  I have always liked her voice but these words hit you like a Fast Car. Words like, “Although I’ve mostly walked in the shadows, I’m still searching for the light, Won’t you put your faith in me.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtlHydzbdNw

 

Bruce Springsteen-Thunder Road-1975

The opening song to the “Born to Run” album hooks you right away and reels you in for a listening ride.  This song’s opening lines are just the beginning for Mary to come along for the ride, “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves, Like a vision she dances across the porch, As the radio plays, Roy Orbison singing for the lonely, Hey that’s me and I want you only”

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=976

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/brucespringsteen/thunderroad.html

 

Alan Parsons Project-Time-1981

Written by Eric Woolfson along with Alan Parsons, “Time” expresses the true meaning of time passing by and the friends you meet along the way. I think about all of the people I have met in my life and how I would like to see them again.  This song can be sad and inspirational in one listening.  It’s about making the most of your time, “Time, flowing like a river,  Time, beckoning me. Who knows when we shall meet again. If ever, But time, Keeps flowing like a river, To the sea.”

http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/12231/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhRzORqNa0E

 

Pink Floyd-Wish You Were Here-1975 and  On The Turning Away-1987

The title track from the album of the same name, “Wish You Were Here” laments their missing friend and how circumstances have over taken them.   “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” may be about Syd Barrett and could just as well be on this list but this song puts their feelings into one phrase.  The best lines are in the opening, “So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain.  Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil? Do you think you can tell?”

“On the Turning Away” is an insightful song about looking away rather than doing something to make the world and society a better place.

 

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/pinkfloyd/wishyouwerehere.html

http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1558

Rickie Lee Jones-Last Chance Texaco-1979

I think everything Rickie Lee Jones does is terrific so I may be writing this with a little bias. From her debut self titled album, this song along with Night Train are my favorites from it, although “Chuckie’s in Love” was the hit.  This song uses personification to put human characteristics on an automobile.  It’s brilliant piece where instrument, voice and words meet to create a great song. “It’s her last chance, Her timing’s all wrong, Her last chance, She can’t idle this long, Her last chance, Turn her over and go, Pullin’ out of the last chance Texaco, The last chance”

http://www.rickieleejones.com/lyrics/texaco.html

 

Miranda Lambert-The House That Built Me-2009

This one is written by two songwriters but performed by Miranda Lambert and this favorite of mine might have something to do with the way she sings it.

The words can bring back memories, “You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can. I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am. I thought if I could touch this place or feel it. This brokenness inside me might start healing.”

http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858798152/

 

Honorable Mentions:

Ice Cube-It Was a Good Day

Frank Sinatra-It Was a Very Good Year

Steve Forbert-I Blinked Once

Mamas and Papas-California Dreamin

Neil Young-Harvest Moon

Christine McVie-Song Bird

Phil Collins-In The Air Tonight

History on the Water

The USS Orleck Naval Museum docked serving the community at Lake Charles, LA.
The USS Orleck Naval Museum docked at Lake Charles, LA.

by Rick Bretz

When a Navy ship stops serving the United States in defense of the nation, the next step can be the scrap metal yard, sold to another country or in the case of 164 other ships, become an interesting, floating museum.

A view from the bridge of the USS Orleck.
A view from the bridge of the USS Orleck.

The US Naval Ships Association states there are 164 Naval Museums throughout the United States.  There are many more throughout the world from other countries. The site below gives a synopsis of the museum ships travelers can find while touring.

http://www.hnsa.org/

The USS Orleck is just one of those ships.  However, the journey from the initial launch to where it floats today at a dock in Lake Charles, La., is an interesting story that involves two wars, another country, a hurricane and a few determined individuals.

Instrumentation on the bridge.
Instrumentation on the bridge.

She was named after Lt. Joseph Orleck, commander of the USS Nauset, and a World War II hero killed in action in the Gulf of Salerno when his ship took fire from German aircraft September 9, 1943. Lt. Orleck died while trying to save all of his crew as the ship went down.  He was awarded the Navy Cross.

Lt. Joseph Orleck
Lt. Joseph Orleck

The Gearing Class destroyer was launched on May 12, 1945 by Mrs. Joseph Orleck. She served in the Korean War and then underwent an upgrade as part of what the Navy called the Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program in 1962. After that she served with distinction in the Vietnam War by providing Naval gunfire support missions as well as search and rescue and reconnaissance efforts.

USS Orleck at sea
USS Orleck at sea

From there in 1982, the history gets interesting as she was transferred to the Turkish Navy and renamed the TCN Yucetepe where she served the Turkish Navy until 2000.

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Turkish labels still dot the ship from her days in that country’s Navy.

 

In 2000, the Turkish Navy transferred the ship to the Southeast Texas War Memorial and Heritage Foundation where she was a Naval Museum to serve as a museum and memorial and it might stayed there at Ochiltree-Inman Park on the Southeast Texas coast but for Hurricane Rita in 2005.  The hurricane damaged her during the storm and after receiving repairs the City of Orange voted to not let her return.

After several years docked and relocated from one place to another, the Lake Charles City Council voted to let her dock on their shores and on May 20, 2010, she was moved to the city where she rests today.

The big guns are at the ready but are rendered inactive as part of an agreement with the government.
The big guns are at the ready but are rendered inactive as part of an agreement with the government.

 

Notable Links:

http://www.hnsa.org/

http://news.usni.org/2015/05/22/the-naval-history-and-hnsa-guide-to-u-s-museum-ships

http://orleck.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Orleck_(DD-886)

http://www.ussorleck.com/

 

 

Vermont’s Covered Bridges the Past

 

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by Rick Bretz

A trip to Vermont can provide an opportunity to remove oneself from all that prevents peace and relaxation. While travelling the highways, back roads, and by ways of the state, you can witness the vivid green mountain ranges as well as see up close the covered bridges that connect roads over valleys and waterways. Using a thoroughly modern piece of machinery, the automobile, to find architectural skill that benefited the  horse and buggy rider sometimes requires compromise.   For almost all bridges, there is room for only one car to cross at a time so diplomacy is required. “You go first, then it’s my turn.”

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The covered bridge lives in many states across America but it also can be found in many countries such as Germany, China, Switzerland and Turkey.  Covered bridges have an architecture all their own and can vary is types. color and size.

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Construction workers and engineers built the first covered bridge in Pennsylvania over the Schuylkill River in 1800. Pennsylvania has its share of covered bridges, more than 200 spreading out across the state. However, Vermont has its share and the count comes in at just over a 100. The state has the highest number of covered bridges per square mile than any other state.

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The covered bridge was engineered for a couple of reasons. The primary requirement was to protect the bridge from the weather by enclosing it on its sides and with a roof. Experts in the field of Covered Bridge-worthiness say that an authentic covered bridge is built with trusses. Vermont law now protects covered bridges and none can be torn down without approval from the governor and the Board of Historic Sites. A covered bridge can extend the life of bridge well past the 10 or 15 years a wooden bridge can last without the cover and enclosure walls.

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Many states can boast covered bridges but they will have a tough time matching the high concentration of bridges per square mile combined with the scenery you will enjoy while looking for them.  Besides the skiing, Vermont’s bridge scenery remains in place for travelers to see the past.

 

 

one of the many streams and rivers where covered bridges can be found.
one of the many streams and rivers where covered bridges can be found.

 

Notable Links

http://www.sites.si.edu/exhibitions/exhibits/archived_exhibitions/bridges/main.htm

http://www.vermontbridges.com/

https://www.facebook.com/vermontcoveredbridgesociety

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covered_bridge

http://www.coveredbridgesociety.org/

http://www.vermontbridges.com/links.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillsgrove_Covered_Bridge

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_covered_bridges_in_Vermont

 

 

 

 

I’m Sorry Everyone’s Sorry, and I Apologize for That

Adam_and_Eve004

by Rick Bretz

The first apology in the history of the world, of course, occurred shortly after Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree.
She had to send out a Tweet that went something like this, “I deeply regret the error of my ways. I saw it and I took it. I shouldn’t have and media cameras caught me. Most of all, I am sorry for hurting the only human being that I can have a conversation with, Adam. Please do not use me as an example. I didn’t know what I was thinking.”

 
That Twitter apology was followed by a Facebook post and several talk show appearances.

 
This was soon followed by a heartfelt, “I’m Sorry” from Adam for coming home later from whatever he did in those days.
Many apologies later from Caesars, Pharaohs, Kings, Queens, husbands and entertainers led to another famous apology.
History would reveal that Leonardo Da Vinci apologized for taking so long (4 years) to complete the Sistine Chapel. Ok. That didn’t happen but if he were doing today, he would have to explain why he was behind schedule on an evening news show, followed by Congressional Hearings to explain how the money was being used.

 
An avalanche of heavy-hearted apologies have inundated the radio, internet and talk shows the last several years. Too bad most of them aren’t sincere. The apology-makers are trying to save something they have, like money, reputations, endorsement deals or careers. Part of the problem is that the word usage police and special interest groups have begun to hold people’s reputations and careers hostage until they submit to their social penance demands. People have to show the proper amount of contrition or else they can’t move on with their lives.

 
Here is an effective apology from the past. In 1077: Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV apologizes to Pope Gregory VII for church-state conflicts by standing barefoot in the snow for three days.

 
Now this is an apology. No words but action. I’ve given some apologies but I would have never thought about this as a way to say, “I’m Sorry.” If I did think of it, I would have kept it to myself and thought of something else like “I’ll light the candles in the Chapel for seven straight days or something like that.”

 

bb-belushi

 
However, when you need a real apology done the right way there are two examples that come to mind. One is a non-apology no fault appeal.

 
It was John Belushi’s last second plea to his scorned girl friend at the end of the Blues Brothers movie, “No I didn’t. Honest… I ran out of gas! I–I had a flat tire! I didn’t have enough money for cab fare! My tux didn’t come back from the cleaners! An old friend came in from out-of-town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!!

 

 

afishcalledwanda

 

 

Then there is the insincere heartfelt apology given to Kevin Kline by John Cleese in the movie, “A Fish Called Wanda.” He states while hanging upside down out of a window, “All right, all right, I apologize. I’m really, really sorry. I apologize unreservedly. I do. I offer a complete and utter retraction. The imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice, and I deeply regret any distress that my comments may have caused you or your family, and I hereby undertake not to repeat any such slander at any time in the future.”

 
There are many ways to apologize but don’t say you are sorry unless you mean it. Also, don’t keep saying I’m sorry for no reason, it loses its effectiveness and just makes the offender look ridiculous. So, with that stated, I’m sorry for wasting your time reading this post. Really I am.

 

 

Notable Links:
http://theamericanscholar.org/apologies-all-around/#.U5ONU5UU-00
http://www.newrepublic.com/blog/the-plank/great-apologies-history
http://www.policymic.com/articles/72705/7-times-u-s-presidents-have-admitted-they-were-wrong-in-history
http://www.gq.com/entertainment/humor/201001/best-and-worst-apologies
http://www.upenn.edu/pnc/politicalapologies.html
http://www.history.com/news/7-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-sistine-chapel

Superior Performance-President Richard M. Nixon

President Richard M. Nixon
President Richard M. Nixon

 

by Rick Bretz

No former President provokes more passion and stimulates more conversation than former President Richard Milhous Nixon.  Voters elected him as the 37th President of the United States serving from 1969-1974, resigning on August 9, 1974, one day after announcing it to a national TV audience. Nixon’s legacy is more complicated than just a Watergate cover up.  After his resignation, according to the book “The President’s Club”, Presidents from both sides of the aisle sought his advice and relied on him for overseas missions on a range of diplomatic topics including the Soviet Union,  the Middle East and the Far East.  Actors tried their talents at being Nixon a few times in film. Few have tried to master the nuances of Nixon’s personality. There are several movies about Richard Nixon such as All “The Presidents Men” and the “Assassination of Richard Nixon” but these releases keep Nixon behind the scenes as a looming figure. We only see him in news footage. I have selected actors who have taken on the responsibility to carry the whole movie. There are a few who have accepted the challenge.

 

Nixon (1995) Directed by Oliver Stone

Anthony Hopkins as President Richard M. Nixon

Played against Ensemble Cast portraying significant people throughout his life.

Nixon and Hopkins
Nixon and Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of President Richard Nixon shows a Nixon who relies on his wife Patricia Nixon for advice and support.  He shows him as someone who plays hardball politics to succeed. Hopkins doesn’t look all that much like Nixon but he splashes the screen with Nixon’s paranoia and emotional repression. The movie gives a glimpse of how tough Nixon could be when dealing with his adversaries and pushy friends looking to gain something from his position. This movie was not well liked by Nixon’s family and friends. However, the criticism aside, Hopkins does an admirable job of revealing Nixon’s complicated, multifaceted personality. The movie also gives the viewer an idea of Nixon’s childhood challenges that shaped his personality and character.

 

 Frost/Nixon (2008) Directed by Ron Howard

Frank Langella as former President Richard M. Nixon

Played against Michael Sheen as talk show host David Frost and Nixon’s interviewer

Frank Langella as Nixon
Frank Langella as Nixon

The negotiations leading up to David Frost’s interview with Richard Nixon is a slice of history people weren’t aware of during the airing of the show. The movie shows the interview as a chess game between Frost and his people and Nixon and his aides. Nixon didn’t want to reveal anything that would further damage him but he also wanted to get his side of the story to the public. Langella does a skilful job of portraying Nixon as someone who his smart and is good at countering verbal maneuvers. The movie was criticized for its compression timeline that didn’t show Nixon having his way during a majority of the interview. The suspense lies in how Frost can get Nixon to admit he made a mistake and was wrong.

 

The Checkers Speech, the Real Frost/Nixon Interviews, the Farewell Speech to White House Staff

(1952, 1977, 1974)

Richard Nixon as Richard Nixon

Nixon gives his farewell speech with family by his side.
Nixon gives his farewell speech

Nobody does Nixon like  Richard M. Nixon himself.   His Checkers Speech saved his position as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s running mate and Vice Presidential candidate during the 1952 election campaign. Checkers refers to his dog and he explains in the televised speech that the dog is beloved by his daughters and he won’t give it up. The speech addressed concerns about Nixon’s financial dealings.

If you want to get a better idea of how the Frost/Nixon interviews went, then watch the whole conversation. In this interview, you get an idea of Nixon’s intellect and command of foreign policy. It’s the reason why President William Clinton sought out Nixon’s advice when he needed answers about foreign policy and the current political climate.

The Farewell Speech to the White House Staff is riveting. The speech to his loyal followers in the White House addresses his childhood, his father, mother, revenge and serving in politics. This speech had more drama in it than 50 percent of the movies released in the 1970s.

Towards the end of the speech, Nixon says this, “We want you to be proud of what you have done. We want you to continue to serve in government, if that is your wish. Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

 

The Real Person

There are many caricatures when people portray Nixon. The real person was an intellectual and political heavy weight who got caught up in government politics as take no prisoners game defined earlier in the 1900s.. His failure was to realize the shift in the political climate and how the press had changed concerning how they reported on politicians as the Vietnam War wage on in the late 60s and early 70s.  His downfall was using the tape recording system started by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940s.

http://whitehousetapes.net/

The record, however, shows that Nixon began several programs that still live with us today. He began the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Natural Resources and proposed ending the draft. His trip to China thawed relations between the two countries and he used triangle diplomacy to further America’s interests. He also signed into law Title IX, legislation that states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” He made it possible for all daughters to participate in sports so they can have a chance at scholarships and education.

After he left office, Richard Nixon became a consultant to later Presidents as well as a prolific author and statesman.

Conclusion

President Richard Nixon will always be viewed as tragic figure with personality flaws. Some will view him as a criminal for his actions. The record is more complicated than to paint his legacy with broad brush strokes. He started many positive programs and probably helped to end the cold war when he visited China. As we have seen in the past 30 years, being a President is fraught with political landmines that can trip up the most talented of people. The Presidents that came after Nixon had and will continue to have the benefit of learning from his mistakes.

 

Notable Links:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113987/?ref_=nv_sr_3

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0870111/?ref_=nv_sr_1

http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/gen/resources/watergate/nixon.farewell.html

President Richard M. Nixon Links:

http://nixonfoundation.org/

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/richardnixon

 

Links to Checkers Speech Frost/Nixon interviews and Farewell Speech:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4UEv_jjPL0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UzyZYBYg8g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32GaowQnGRw