Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hold the Disco

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 All Pres Menentertaining 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?)

Remember these?

  • 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.



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Okay, I was a kid in the 70s (born in 71), but I have lots of 70s memories: roller skating to disco music, wearing polyester sunsuits, listening to ABBA, Sit and Spins, Stretch Armstrong dolls, Big Wheels, etc.

I told my daughter she wasn't allowed to use the microwave when I wasn't around. She asked, "Mama, when you were a little girl, were you allowed to use the microwave?" Made me feel ooolllllddddd. Then she asked me what film was (we've had a digital camera since she was born.)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Deborah Sharp said...

Oh,honey ... the 70s was my era, sad to say. What do I remember? ''Do the Hustle,'' and did I ever.
Embarrassed to admit it now, but I was a disco doll. Platform shoes, polyester, dance contests and everything. Think Saturday Night Fever, but without the Jersey accents.

Alan Orloff said...

Whenever I hear the opening strains of some Bee Gee's song, I get some nasty flashbacks.