A few weeks ago, I rented the movie FROST/NIXON. Then, a few days ago, I rented ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN.* It was an entertaining movie--great actors (Redford, Hoffman, Warden, Robards) and a compelling story. But I couldn't help fixating on two other things that hit closer to home.
1) The fashion/technology of the Swinging Seventies.
Having lived through that era (albeit during my impressionable teenage years), I found myself getting quite nostalgic/embarrassed at some of the stuff Redford and Hoffman (as Woodward and Bernstein) wore and used. (I mean, knit ties? What were we thinking?)
- Corduroy suits.
- Polyester shirts with crazy collars.
- Knit ties with square bottoms.
- Fat, fat, fat regular ties.
- Dial phones.
- An entire storage closet with phone books from around the country.
- Typewriters on the desks.
- Smoking in the office, smoking in the elevators, smoking everywhere.
(With the exception of the smoking habit, I owned all of the above. Of course, the corduroy suit looked much better on Redford than on me.)
2) The Washington Post
Fifteen or so years after Watergate, I worked at The Washington Post as a summer intern. (It was between years of business school, and I worked on the business side, not the editorial side). As part of the program, I had the opportunity to learn about many different parts of the newspaper business. I sat in on a story conference, rode with a distributor at 4 a.m., worked the night shift in the pressroom, went on a sales call (or two), and got to chat one-on-one with Ben Bradlee** (as well as Donald Graham, David Ignatius, and others).
It was fascinating, to say the least.
It brought back memories to see the Post in the movie: the front of the building on 15th Street, the fifth-floor newsroom, even the parking deck next door (since replaced by an office building). One thing that didn’t change: the reporters’ zeal for getting the story.***
What groovy things from the Seventies do you remember, either fondly or not so fondly (beside disco)?
*For the third movie in my little trilogy, maybe I should rent THE JERK.
**If you thought Jason Robards's Oscar-winning portrayal of Ben Bradlee was larger-than-life, you should have met Ben Bradlee. In real life, he was larger than life.
***Now, of course, many of the mechanics of the newspaper business are different (computers, Internet, natural fibers), but the mission--reporting news--is essentially the same. I hope newspapers survive.