When is a fluff piece not a fluff piece? When the Police Gazette publishes it.
In this September 1972 issue of The National Police Gazette editors tell us all about the hidden horrors of vasectomies, how to make money playing craps in Las Vegas, and how to get rich in the nudist camp business. But of particular interest, to us at least, is the article on H.R. Haldeman, who is referred to as Richard Nixon’s hatchet man on the White House staff. It’s a curious designation timing-wise, because the general public was by now aware that several men connected to Nixon’s staff had broken into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. The first set of indictments against the five burglars, as well as G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, would come down from a grand jury two weeks after The Gazette hit newsstands.
Their Haldeman profile amounts to a sort of fluff piece, wherein his meanness is extolled as a virtue, but the story also has the effect of telling the Gazette’s vast readership that Haldeman is the man to point fingers at for Nixon’s mounting difficulties. Example: “You may not see him [snip] but Harry Robert Haldeman is there, behind the scenes, pulling the strings…” And later: “Organization is Haldeman’s talent and he knows how to use that talent. President Nixon will be its beneficiary.” Haldeman describes himself thusly: “I guess the term ‘sonofabitch’ fits me.” Never in the annals of 20-20 hindsight has someone looked so much like a fall guy. Haldeman, of course, was a major player in Watergate, but the timing of such an article, in America’s oldest magazine, in which Haldeman paints a target on his own back, is curious to say the least.
By the beginning of 1973 the strings were unraveling at the White House and Nixon was in full ass-coverage mode. In April he asked for and received H.R. Haldeman’s resignation, along with that of John Erlichman. Eventually, Haldeman went to prison, where he served eighteen months for obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Richard Nixon managed to ride out the scandal for two years, but finally resigned in August 1974. Haldeman of course wrote a book about Watergate, and in it he shed some light on what had happened, and who had failed. But he also made it clear that he had few regrets: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind today that if I were back at the starting point, faced with the decision of whether to join up, even knowing what the ultimate outcome would be, I would unhesitatingly do it.”
Newly declassified documents show the FBI tried to stop the distribution of Deep Throat.
In the U.S. this week, declassified FBI documents revealed that the U.S. government conducted a wide-ranging investigation into Gerard Damiano, director of the 1972 porn film Deep Throat. The heavily redacted documents showed that FBI agents across the nation were directed by top figures at the agency to conduct a campaign of harassment and intimidation against Deep Throat producers and distributors in a deliberate effort to stem the tide of sexual freedom that was sweeping the nation. Records show they seized prints of the film, and questioned everyone associated with its distribution, from delivery boys to theater managers.
Included in the stack of documents is an August 1973 letter stating that Damiano was being considered for prosecutorial immunity. The papers don’t say what crime exactly Damiano had committed, but at the time the film was thought to violate obscenity statutes and, because of an assumed link between porn and organized crime, various RICO charges might also have been considered. Ironically, the second-in-command at the FBI at that time was Mark Felt, who would soon play Deep Throat in real life when he became a secret source for Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward during their Watergate investigation into Republican Party corruption. He adopted the moniker Deep Throat as his code name, and his real identity remained a mystery until he came forward in 2005.
Despite the FBI’s efforts, the tides of cultural change were too strong. What had been universally offensive just a generation before was seen as entertaining in 1972, and Deep Throat became the most popular x-rated film ever released, eventually earning more than 300 million dollars after an initial investment of around $25,000. At the height of the Deep Throat craze, the film was booked into mainstream cinemas and moviegoers attended packed showings without an iota of shame. Since then American culture has changed again, and, though consumption of pornography is so widespread it generates untold billions of dollars in yearly revenue, it has lost its aura of respectability and is virtually always consumed in private.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1917—First Jazz Record Is Made
In New Orleans, The Original Dixieland Jass Band records the first ever jazz record for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York. The band was frequently billed as the "Creators of Jazz", but in reality all the members had previously played in the Papa Jack Laine bands, a group of racially mixed performers who helped form the basis of Dixieland while playing under bandleader George Laine.
1947—Prussia Ceases To Exist
The centuries-old state of Prussia, which had been a great European power under the reign of Frederick the Great during the 1800s, and a major influence on German culture, ceases to exist when it is dissolved by the post-WWII Allied Control Council comprised of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union.
1964—Clay Beats Liston
Heavyweight boxer Cassius Clay, aged 22, becomes champion of the world after beating Sonny Liston, aka the Dark Destroyer, in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. It would be the beginning of a storied and controversial career for Clay, who would announce to the world shortly after the fight that he had changed his name to Muhammad Ali.
1920—The Nazi Party Is Founded
The small German Workers' Party, or DAP, which was under the direction of Adolf Hitler, changes its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Though Hitler adopted the socialist label to attract working class Germans, his party in fact embraced mainly anti-socialist ideas. The group became known in English as the Nazi Party, and within the next fifteen years expanded to become the most powerful force in German politics.
1942—Battle of Los Angeles Takes Place
A object flying over wartime Los Angeles triggers a massive anti-aircraft barrage
, ultimately killing 3 civilians. Initially the target of the aerial barrage is thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but it is later suggested to be imaginary and a case of "war nerves", a lost weather balloon, a blimp, a Japanese fire balloon, or even an extraterrestrial craft. The true nature of the object or objects remains unknown to this day, but the event is known as the Battle of Los Angeles.
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