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Yellow Journalism: No Holds Barred

Yellow Journalism: No Holds Barred

"Yellow press" was a term applied to the popular, frankly imperialistic newspapers of New York City, circa 1890s. Today, "yellow journalism" refers to lurid publications that emphasize the sensational side of news stories.The ideal of journalism was expressed in the late 18th century by Benjamin Rush, who wrote a friend who was starting a newspaper with several recommendations:

Avoid filling your paper with anecdotes of British vices and follies. What have the citizens of the United States to do with the duels, the elopements, the criminal consortings, the kept mistresses, the murders, the suicides, the thefts, the forgeries, the boxing matches, the wagers for eating, drinking, and walking, etc., etc., of the people of Great Britain? Such stuff, when circulated through our country by means of a newspaper, is calculated to destroy that delicacy in the mind which is one of the safeguards of the virtue of a young country.Never publish an article in your paper that you would not wish your wife and daughter (if you have any) should read or understand.

The principles described were never much in evidence in American journalism, but a century after Rush wrote his letter, a particularly nasty spell of low journalism broke out.In the 1890s, a bitter circulation war erupted between Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal. In an spiraling contest of outrageous journalism, the newspapers used all means to attract readers—heavy doses of murder and sex, banner headlines and colored supplements.Pulitzer introduced the first comic strip, The Yellow Kid, drawn by Richard Outcault. The character became immensely popular and inspired the name for the sensationalist press of the era.Both Hearst and Pulitzer played leading roles in molding American public opinion about the conflict between Spain and its Cuban colony. The papers reported Spanish atrocities in exaggerated detail, but neglected to mention Cuban misdeeds. Both repeatedly called for armed intervention, then later, all-out war.


Lamborghini LM002

The Lamborghini LM002 aka "Lamborghini truck" is an off-road truck manufactured by Lamborghini between 1986 and 1993. The LM002 was an unusual departure for Lamborghini which, at the time, was primarily known for high-performance, hand-built, super/sports cars. The LM002 was not the first of its kind to be built by Lamborghini. Two prototype vehicles, the Cheetah and the LM001, paved the way for LM002. Both vehicles used rear-mounted American power plants and were intended for military use, but were not well received. With the idea of using a front mounted Countach V12 to power the LM001 came the next model, the "LM002", which was the first of the three to see actual production by Lamborghini. The LM002 is part of a series of vehicles, the Lamborghini Militaria.


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Katarzyna, a Polish photographer based in Berlin, captured the women's bruises, their raw bodies and the visceral aggression of the club in intimate images.

She told the Metro: 'It is all about challenging one's mind and the mind of an opponent.

'This is where fighters meet as equals, where the most important tool they use is strength and willpower.'

Katarzyna, a Polish photographer based in Berlin, captured the women who are not above pulling each other's hair to gain an advantage during hand to hand combat

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The events can last several hours which include breaks where the fighters get to know each other. There is no judge

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On her website Katarzyna wrote: 'During my research I came across women who worship their bodies. They nourish, form and thoughen them.

'Their motivations are as diverse as those women's personalities are.

'It may be their statement about the modern perception of women, their proof for the unity of femininity and strength, yet at the same time their instrument to be seen and desired.'

Fights can be wrestling matches, someone with a black-belt in jujitsu can use their moves or it can be a beginner's catfight.

The events can last several hours which include breaks where the fighters get to know each other and there is no judge, only someone who knows the rules.

Katarzyna found that there was great camaraderie between the women and respect for each other, the fight is stopped if someone is too hurt.

She told Dazed Digital: 'I was quite shocked. I had never seen something like that before and it was really interesting to experience the intensity so close.

The club is also a revival of female wrestling in Berlin, which was popular in the city in the 1920s

The women often fight topless, like male fighters would usually, with one combatant showing off bruises and marks from being raked by her opponents' fingers

The competitions now take place in a rented room located in Marzahn, Berlin, and there are no age, height or weight limitations with the women all fighting each other

The photographer herself was surprised to see women fighting so vehemently and by the intensity of the competition

A woman relaxes following a fight and has mussed-up hair and appears exhausted following a hard battle

'I like the idea of contradiction something that is contradicting the perspective of modern women in society.'

The club is also a revival of female wrestling in Berlin, which was popular in the city in the 1920s.

The competitions now take place in a rented room located in Marzahn, Berlin, and there no age, height or weight limitations with the women all fighting each other.

Katarzyna Mazur has released a book of the exhibition called Anna Konda, which was shortlisted at the Aperture Photo Book Award 2015, and is available through Dienacht Publishing.


The Secret Literary History of Some of Your Favorite Colors

Oscar Wilde was arrested outside the Cadogan Hotel in London in April 1895. The following day the Westminster Gazette ran the headline “Arrest of Oscar Wilde, Yellow Book Under His Arm.” Wilde would be found officially guilty of gross indecency in court a little over a month later, by which time the court of public opinion had long since hanged him. What decent man would be seen openly walking the streets with a yellow book?

The sinful implications of such books had come from France, where, from the mid-19th century, sensationalist literature had been not-so-chastely pressed between vivid yellow covers. Publishers adopted this as a useful marketing tool, and soon yellow-backed books could be bought cheaply at every railway station. As early as 1846 the American author Edgar Allan Poe was scornfully writing of the “eternal insignificance of yellowbacked pamphleteering.” For others, the sunny covers were symbols of modernity and the aesthetic and decadent movements. Yellow books show up in two of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings from the 1880s, Still Life with Bible and, heaped in invitingly disheveled piles, Parisian Novels. For Van Gogh and many other artists and thinkers of the time, the color itself came to stand as the symbol of the age and their rejection of repressed Victorian values. “The Boom in Yellow,” an essay published in the late 1890s by Richard Le Gallienne, expends 2,000 words proselytizing on its behalf. “Till one comes to think of it,” he writes, “one hardly realizes how many important and pleasant things in life are yellow.” He was persuasive: the final decade of the 19th century later became known as the “Yellow Nineties.”

Traditionalists were less impressed. These yellow books gave off a strong whiff of transgression, and the avant-garde did little to calm their fears (for them the transgression was to return. Just as the narrator reaches his defining ethical crossroads, a friend gives him a yellow-bound book, which opens his eyes to ‘the sins of the world’, corrupting and ultimately destroying him. Capitalizing on the association, the scandalous, avant-garde periodical half the point). In Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, published in 1890, it is down the moral rabbit hole of such a novel that the eponymous antihero disappears, never

The Yellow Book was launched in April 1894. Holbrook Jackson, a contemporary journalist, wrote that it “was newness in excelsis: novelty naked and unashamed . . . yellow became the color of the hour.” After Wilde’s arrest a mob stormed the publishers’ offices on Vigo Street, believing they were responsible for the “yellow book” mentioned by the Gazette. In fact, Wilde had been carrying a copy of Aphrodite by Pierre Louÿs and had never even contributed to the publication. The magazine’s art director and illustrator, Aubrey Beardsley, had barred Wilde after an argument—he responded by calling the periodical “dull,” and “not yellow at all.”

Wilde’s conviction (and the failure soon after of The Yellow Book) was not the first time the color had been associated with contamination, and was far from the last. Artists, for example, had numerous difficulties with it.

Two pigments they relied on, orpiment and gamboge, were highly poisonous. It was assumed Naples yellow came from Mount Vesuvius’s sulfurous orifice well into the mid-20th century, and often turned black when used as a paint gallstone yellow was made from ox gallstones, crushed and ground in gum water and Indian yellow was probably made from urine.

In individuals, the color betokens illness: think of sallow skin, jaundice, or a bilious attack. When applied to mass phenomena or groups the connotations are worse still. Hitched to “journalism” it indicates rash sensationalism.

The flow of immigrants into Europe and North America from the East and particularly China in the early 20th century was dubbed the “yellow peril.” Contemporary accounts and images showed an unsuspecting West engulfed by a subhuman horde—Jack London called them the “chattering yellow populace.” And while the star the Nazis forced Jews to wear is the most notorious example of yellow as a symbol of stigma, other marginalized groups had been forced to wear yellow clothes or signs from the early Middle Ages.

Perversely, though, yellow has simultaneously been a color of value and beauty. In the West, for example, blonde hair has long been held up as the ideal. Economists have shown that pale-haired prostitutes can demand a premium, and there are far more blondes in advertisements than is representative of their distribution among the population at large. Although in China “yellow” printed materials like books and images are often pornographic, a particular egg-yolk shade was the favored color of their emperors. A text from the beginning of the Tang dynasty (ad 618–907) expressly forbids “common people and officials” from wearing “clothes or accessories in reddish yellow,” and royal palaces were marked out by their yellow roofs. In India the color’s power is more spiritual than temporal. It is symbolic of peace and knowledge, and is particularly associated with Krishna, who is generally depicted wearing a vivid yellow robe over his smoke-blue skin. The art historian and author N. Goswamy has described it as “the rich luminous color [that] holds things together, lifts the spirit and raises visions.”

It is perhaps in its metallic incarnation, however, that yellow has been most coveted. Alchemists slaved for centuries to transmute other metals into gold, and recipes for counterfeiting the stuff are legion. Places of worship have made use of both its seemingly eternal high sheen and its material worth to inspire awe among their congregations. Medieval and early modern craftsmen, known as goldbeaters, were required to hammer golden coins into sheets as fine as cobwebs, which could be used to gild the backgrounds of paintings, a highly specialized and costly business.

Although coinage has lost its link with the gold standard, awards and medals are still usually gold (or gold-plated), and the color’s symbolic value has left its mark on language too: we talk of golden ages, golden boys and girls, and, in business, golden handshakes or goodbyes. In India, where gold is often part of dowries and has traditionally been used by the poor instead of a savings account, government attempts to stop people hoarding it have resulted in a healthy black market and an inventive line in smuggling. In November 2013, 24 gleaming bars, worth over $1 million, were found stuffed into an airplane toilet. Le Gallienne noted in his essay that “yellow leads a roving, versatile life”—it is hard to disagree, even if this is probably not what the writer had in mind.

In The Color Purple, the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel by Alice Walker, the character Shug Avery seems at first like a superficial siren. She is, we are told, “so stylish it like the trees all round the house draw themself up tall for a better look.” Later, though, she reveals unexpected insightfulness, and it is Shug that supplies the novel’s title. “I think it pisses God off,” Shug says, “if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” For Shug purple is evidence of God’s glory and generosity.

The belief that purple is special, and signifies power, is surprisingly widespread. Now it is seen as a secondary color, sandwiched in artists’ color wheels between the primaries red and blue. Linguistically, too, it has often been subordinate to larger color categories—red, blue, or even black. Nor is purple, per se, part of the visible color spectrum (although violet, the very shortest spectral wavelength humans can see, is).

The story of purple is bookended by two great dyes.

The first of these, Tyrian, a symbol of the wealthy and the elite, helped to establish the link with the divine. The second, mauve, a man-made chemical wonder, ushered in the democratization of color in the nineteenth century. The precise shade of the ancient world’s wonder dye remains something of a mystery. In fact purple itself was a somewhat fluid term. The ancient Greek and Latin words for the color, porphyra and purpura respectively, were also used to refer to deep crimson shades, like the color of blood.

Ulpian, a third-century Roman jurist, defined purpura as anything red other than things dyed with coccus or carmine dyes. Pliny the Elder (ad 23–79) wrote that the best Tyrian cloth was tinged with black.

Even if no one is quite sure precisely what Tyrian purple looked like, though, the sources all agree it was the color of power. While he griped about its odor, which hovered somewhere between rotting shellfish and garlic, Pliny had no doubt about its authority:

This is the purple for which the Roman fasces and axes clear a way.

It is the badge of noble youth it distinguishes the senator from the knight it is called in to appease the gods. It brightens every garment, and shares with gold the glory of the triumph. For these reasons we must pardon the mad desire for purple.

Because of this mad desire, and the expense of creating Tyrian, purple became the symbolic color of opulence, excess, and rulers. To be born into the purple was to be born into royalty, after the Byzantine custom of bedecking the royal birthing chambers with porphyry and Tyrian cloth so that it would be the first thing the new princelings saw. The Roman poet Horace, in his The Art of Poetry written in 18 bc, minted the phrase “purple prose”: “Your opening shows great promise, / And yet flashy purple patches as when / Describing a sacred grove, or the altar of Diana.”

Purple’s special status wasn’t confined to the West.

In Japan a deep purple, murasaki, was kin-jiki, or a forbidden color, off-limits to ordinary people. In the 1980s the Mexican government allowed a Japanese company, Purpura Imperial, to collect the local caracol sea snail for kimono dyeing. (Unsurprisingly, a similar Japanese species, Rapana bezoar, is vanishingly rare.) While the local Mixtec people, who had been using the caracol for centuries, milked the snails of their purple, leaving them alive, Purpura Imperial’s method was rather more fatal for the snails, and the population went into freefall. After years of lobbying the contract was revoked.

Like many special things, purple has always been a greedy consumer of resources. Not only have billions of shellfish paid dearly to clothe the wealthy sources of slow-growing lichens like Roccella tinctoria, used to make archil, have been overexploited, forcing people to look further afield or do without. Even mauve required vast quantities of raw produce: in the early stages it was so demanding of scarce raw material that its creator, William Perkin, later admitted that the whole enterprise was close to being abandoned.

Luckily for Perkin, his new dye became immensely fashionable, and the prospect of the fortunes to be made meant that an explosion of other aniline colors followed swiftly on mauve’s heels. Whether this was also good for purple is another matter. Suddenly everyone had access to purple at a reasonable price, but they also had access to thousands of other colors too. Familiarity bred contempt, and purple became a color much like any other.

It was Shakespeare who cemented the relationship between green and envy. With The Merchant of Venice, written in the late 1590s, he gave us “green-eyed jealousy” in Othello (1603), he has Iago mention “the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock / The meat it feeds on’.

Prior to this, during the Middle Ages, when each deadly sin had a corresponding color, green had been twinned with avarice and yellow with envy. Both human failings were the guiding principles in a recent saga concerning a vast green stone, the Bahia emerald.

Emeralds are a rare and fragile member of the beryl family, stained green with small deposits of the elements chromium or vanadium. The best-known sources are in Pakistan, India, Zambia, and parts of South America. Ancient Egyptians mined the gemstones from 1500 bc, setting them in amulets and talismans, and they have been coveted ever since.

The Romans, believing green to be restful to the eyes because of its prominence in nature, pulverized emeralds to make expensive eye balms. The emperor Nero was particularly enamored with the gem. Not only did he have an extensive collection, he was also said to use a particularly large example as proto-sunglasses, watching gladiator fights through it so that he wouldn’t be bothered by the glare of the sun. When L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, he used the precious stone as both the name and the building material for the city his heroine and her band of misfit friends are trying to reach. The Emerald City, at least at the beginning of the book, is a metaphor for the magical fulfillment of dreams: it lures the characters in because they all want something from it.

The Bahia was heaved from the beryllium-rich earth of northeastern Brazil by a prospector in 2001. Stones from this area are generally not worth much they tend to be cloudy and occluded and sell for, on average, less than $10. This one, however, was gargantuan. The whole lump weighed 840 pounds (roughly the same as a male polar bear) and was thought to contain a Kryptonite-green gem of 180,000 carats. In the years since its discovery the gemstone’s vast size and value have done little to secure it a stable home. Housed in a warehouse in New Orleans in 2005, the Bahia narrowly escaped the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina. It has allegedly been used in any number of fraudulent business dealings—a judge called one such scheme “despicable and reprehensible.” It was listed on eBay in 2007 for a starting price of $18.9 million and a “buy-it-now” price of $75 million. Gullible potential buyers were regaled with a backstory that involved a journey through the jungle on a stretcher woven from vines and a double panther mauling.

At the time of writing the Bahia emerald is valued at around $400 million and is at the center of a California lawsuit. Around a dozen people claim to have bought the stone fair and square in the 15 years since it was discovered, including a dapper Mormon businessman a man who says he purchased it for $60,000, only to be tricked into believing it was stolen and several of the people who brought it over to California in the first place. An international row has been brewing too: Brazil claims that the stone should be repatriated. The story of the Bahia emerald is, in short, a parable of avarice worthy of the Bard himself.


25 YEARS: Bob Parry’s Last Article–A Manifesto on the State of Journalism

On New Year’s Eve 2017, less than a month before he would die, CN founder Bob Parry wrote his last article, a manifesto on the remit of journalism and its threatened demise, a chilling forecast of what was to come.

Originally published on Dec. 31, 2017.

From Editor Robert Parry:

For readers who have come to see Consortium News as a daily news source, I would like to extend my personal apology for our spotty production in recent days. On Christmas Eve, I suffered a stroke that has affected my eyesight (especially my reading and thus my writing) although apparently not much else. The doctors have also been working to figure out exactly what happened since I have never had high blood pressure, I never smoked, and my recent physical found nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps my personal slogan that “every day’s a work day” had something to do with this.

Perhaps, too, the unrelenting ugliness that has become Official Washington and national journalism was a factor.

It seems that since I arrived in Washington in 1977 as a correspondent for The Associated Press, the nastiness of American democracy and journalism has gone from bad to worse.

In some ways, the Republicans escalated the vicious propaganda warfare following Watergate, refusing to accept that Richard Nixon was guilty of some extraordinary malfeasance (including the 1968 sabotage of President Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks to gain an edge in the election and then the later political dirty tricks and cover-ups that came to include Watergate).

Rather than accept the reality of Nixon’s guilt, many Republicans simply built up their capability to wage information warfare, including the creation of ideological news organizations to protect the party and its leaders from “another Watergate.”

So, when Democrat Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election, the Republicans used their news media and their control of the special prosecutor apparatus (through Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Appeals Court Judge David Sentelle) to unleash a wave of investigations to challenge Clinton’s legitimacy, eventually uncovering his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The idea had developed that the way to defeat your political opponent was not just to make a better argument or rouse popular support but to dredge up some “crime” that could be pinned on him or her.

The GOP success in damaging Bill Clinton made possible George W. Bush’s disputed “victory” in 2000 in which Bush took the presidency despite losing the popular vote and almost certainly losing the key state of Florida if all ballots legal under state law were counted. Increasingly, America – even at the apex of its uni-power status – was taking on the look of a banana republic except with much higher stakes for the world.

Though I don’t like the word “weaponized,” it began to apply to how “information” was used in America. The point of Consortium News, which I founded in 1995, was to use the new medium of the modern Internet to allow the old principles of journalism to have a new home, i.e., a place to pursue important facts and giving everyone a fair shake. But we were just a tiny pebble in the ocean.

T he trend of using journalism as just another front in no-holds-barred political warfare continued – with Democrats and liberals adapting to the successful techniques pioneered mostly by Republicans and by well-heeled conservatives.

Barack Obama’s election in 2008 was another turning point as Republicans again challenged his legitimacy with bogus claims about his “Kenyan birth,” a racist slur popularized by “reality” TV star Donald Trump. Facts and logic no longer mattered. It was a case of using whatever you had to diminish and destroy your opponent.

We saw similar patterns with the U.S. government’s propaganda agencies developing themes to demonize foreign adversaries and then to smear Americans who questioned the facts or challenged the exaggerations as “apologists.”

This approach was embraced not only by Republicans (think of President George W. Bush distorting the reality in Iraq in 2003 to justify the invasion of that country under false pretenses) but also by Democrats who pushed dubious or downright false depictions of the conflict in Syria (including blaming the Syrian government for chemical weapons attacks despite strong evidence that the events were staged by Al Qaeda and other militants who had become the tip of the spear in the neocon/liberal interventionist goal of removing the Assad dynasty and installing a new regime more acceptable to the West and to Israel).

“The idea had developed that the way to defeat your political opponent was not just to make a better argument or rouse popular support but to dredge up some ‘crime’ that could be pinned on him or her.”

More and more I would encounter policymakers, activists and, yes, journalists who cared less about a careful evaluation of the facts and logic and more about achieving a pre-ordained geopolitical result – and this loss of objective standards reached deeply into the most prestigious halls of American media.

This perversion of principles – twisting information to fit a desired conclusion – became the modus vivendi of American politics and journalism. And those of us who insisted on defending the journalistic principles of skepticism and evenhandedness were increasingly shunned by our colleagues, a hostility that first emerged on the Right and among neoconservatives but eventually sucked in the progressive world as well. Everything became “information warfare.”

The New Outcasts

That is why many of us who exposed major government wrongdoing in the past have ended up late in our careers as outcasts and pariahs.

Legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who helped expose major crimes of state from the My Lai massacre to the CIA’s abuses against American citizens, including illegal spying and LSD testing on unsuspecting subjects, has literally had to take his investigative journalism abroad because he uncovered inconvenient evidence that implicated Western-backed jihadists in staging chemical weapons attacks in Syria so the atrocities would be blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The trend of using journalism as just another front in no-holds-barred political warfare continued – with Democrats and liberals adapting to the successful techniques pioneered mostly by Republicans.”

The anti-Assad group think is so intense in the West that even strong evidence of staged events , such as the first patients arriving at hospitals before government planes could have delivered the sarin, was brushed aside or ignored. The Western media and the bulk of international agencies and NGOs were committed to gin up another case for “regime change” and any skeptics were decried as “Assad apologists” or “conspiracy theorists,” the actual facts be damned.

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh

So Hersh and weapons experts such as MIT’s Theodore Postol were shoved into the gutter in favor of hip new NATO-friendly groups like Bellingcat, whose conclusions always fit neatly with the propaganda needs of the Western powers.

The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is just the most dangerous feature of this propaganda process – and this is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together.

The U.S. media’s approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. Does any sentient human being read The New York Times’ or The Washington Post’s coverage of Russia and think that he or she is getting a neutral or unbiased treatment of the facts? For instance, the full story of the infamous Magnitsky case cannot be told in the West, nor can the objective reality of the Ukrane coup in 2014. The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the “other side of the story.” Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a “Putin apologist” or “Kremlin stooge.”

“America – even at the apex of its uni-power status – was taking on the look of a banana republic except with much higher stakes for the world.”

Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many “liberals” who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we’re told to accept the assertions on faith.

The Trump Crisis

Which brings us to the crisis that is Donald Trump. Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton has solidified the new paradigm of “liberals” embracing every negative claim about Russia just because elements of the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency produced a report last Jan. 6 that blamed Russia for “hacking” Democratic emails and releasing them via WikiLeaks. It didn’t seem to matter that these “hand-picked” analysts (as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called them) evinced no evidence and even admitted that they weren’t asserting any of this as fact.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the third presidential debate in 2016, during which Clinton called Trump Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.”

The hatred of Trump and Putin was so intense that old-fashioned rules of journalism and fairness were brushed aside.

On a personal note, I faced harsh criticism even from friends of many years for refusing to enlist in the anti-Trump “Resistance.” The argument was that Trump was such a unique threat to America and the world that I should join in finding any justification for his ouster. Some people saw my insistence on the same journalistic standards that I had always employed somehow a betrayal.

Other people, including senior editors across the mainstream media, began to treat the unproven Russiagate allegations as flat fact. No skepticism was tolerated and mentioning the obvious bias among the never-Trumpers inside the FBI, Justice Department and intelligence community was decried as an attack on the integrity of the U.S. government’s institutions.

Anti-Trump “progressives” were posturing as the true patriots because of their now unquestioning acceptance of the evidence-free proclamations of the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

Hatred of Trump had become like some invasion of the body snatchers – or perhaps many of my journalistic colleagues had never believed in the principles of journalism that I had embraced throughout my adult life.

To me, journalism wasn’t just a cover for political activism it was a commitment to the American people and the world to tell important news stories as fully and fairly as I could not to slant the “facts” to “get” some “bad” political leader or “guide” the public in some desired direction.

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I actually believed that the point of journalism in a democracy was to give the voters unbiased information and the necessary context so the voters could make up their own minds and use their ballot – as imperfect as that is – to direct the politicians to take actions on behalf of the nation. The unpleasant reality that the past year has brought home to me is that a shockingly small number of people in Official Washington and the mainstream news media actually believe in real democracy or the goal of an informed electorate.

Whether they would admit it or not, they believe in a “guided democracy” in which “approved” opinions are elevated – regardless of their absence of factual basis – and “unapproved” evidence is brushed aside or disparaged regardless of its quality. Everything becomes “information warfare” – whether on Fox News, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, MSNBC, the New York Times or the Washington Post. Instead of information provided evenhandedly to the public, it is rationed out in morsels designed to elicit the desired emotional reactions and achieve a political outcome.

“Facts and logic no longer mattered. It was a case of using whatever you had to diminish and destroy your opponent.”

As I said earlier, much of this approach was pioneered by Republicans in their misguided desire to protect Richard Nixon, but it has now become all pervasive and has deeply corrupted Democrats, progressives and mainstream journalism. Ironically, the ugly personal characteristics of Donald Trump – his own contempt for facts and his crass personal behavior – have stripped the mask off the broader face of Official America.

What is perhaps most alarming about the past year of Donald Trump is that the mask is now gone and, in many ways, all sides of Official Washington are revealed collectively as reflections of Donald Trump, disinterested in reality, exploiting “information” for tactical purposes, eager to manipulate or con the public. While I’m sure many anti-Trumpers will be deeply offended by my comparison of esteemed Establishment figures with the grotesque Trump, there is a deeply troubling commonality between Trump’s convenient use of “facts” and what has pervaded the Russia-gate investigation.

My Christmas Eve stroke now makes it a struggle for me to read and to write.

Everything takes much longer than it once did – and I don’t think that I can continue with the hectic pace that I have pursued for many years.

But – as the New Year dawns – if I could change one thing about America and Western journalism, it would be that we all repudiate “information warfare” in favor of an old-fashioned respect for facts and fairness — and do whatever we can to achieve a truly informed electorate.

The late investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. He founded Consortium News in 1995, now completing its 25th year as the first independent news and analysis website.

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Freedom, Fried

Taiwan maintains the distinction of having the freest television and print media in all of Asia, ranking 50th among 180 countries worldwide in a press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, a French nonprofit. But if an outsider had docked on the island in the last few months, he might be forgiven for assuming that all of Taiwan was transfixed on two major news stories: a building-sized art installation in the form of an inflatable yellow duck, which on Dec. 31, 2013, exploded in the waters off of Keelung, a city near the capital Taipei, and a mixed-race Brazilian teenager on a self-discovery tour in Taiwan who rode the metro, ate some dumplings, and, on Jan. 4, made out with a reporter almost twice his age.

While mainland China, Taiwan’s cross-strait rival, continues to keep a tight leash on its media, Taiwan’s freewheeling television, print, and web media — and their penchant for superficial reportage — are causing antipathy among a growing number of its inhabitants.

Over the last decade, Taiwanese media have come to be known for in-your-face, no-holds-barred reporting that manages to be simultaneously sensationalist and mundane. A popular online editorial published Jan. 7 by Taiwanese magazine Business Weekly lamented that important issues — like the county government forcibly taking land in Dapu, Miaoli, a village in northwest Taiwan, and the June 2010 signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement between China and Taiwan — remain underreported. Meanwhile, the island has seen what the editorial calls coverage "of every move" of the Taipei Zoo’s new baby panda for about half a year, and Taiwan’s Yahoo page has created an entire page devoted just to the now-deflated yellow duck, regularly re-posting news articles published in other media outlets.

In a Jan. 6 editorial in China Times, a Taiwanese daily newspaper, media executive Antony G.C. Wu related a personal story of a friend living in Europe who returned to Taiwan after an unspecified period of time abroad, only to be shocked by what the Taiwanese talking heads were saying on-air. The rhetoric included frequent Chinese-language equivalents of "shit," "what the fuck," and other verbal bombs unfit for even some of the crassest U.S. cable news shows. Journalism professor Yang Aili, in a Feb. 12 editorial in the same publication, blamed Taiwan’s media for a lack of international perspective, observing that outlets seemed to attach "more importance to covering car accidents than to important world affairs." (Yang advised readers to sign up for Chinese-language email updates from publications like the U.K.-based Financial Times and U.S.-based New York Times, instead of relying on the Taiwanese press.) Even users of social media are showing signs of fatigue a search on Facebook — the social network of choice for young Taiwanese — revealed multiple pages devoted to discussing the problems with Taiwanese media, writ large. On one such page, a user rants in English that "Taiwan’s media sucks," providing "junk-food like news" that turns the audience into "zombies."

The macabre, salacious, and ridiculous stuff populating Taiwanese media certainly enjoys a wide audience. Readership for Taiwan’s print media has waned over the last two decades but as of March 2013, there were just under five million cable television subscribers in Taiwan, accounting for over 60 percent of households across the island, with news programming ranking second only to movies in viewership in 2012, the most recent time period for which data could be found. But with 17.5 million Taiwanese (about 75 percent of the island’s 23 million inhabitants) wired to the Internet as of May 2012, readers have increasingly been turning to the web for their news. That might help explain why Taiwanese were so intrigued by chatter about that giant yellow duck that 1.5 million people, presumably mostly from Taiwan, travelled to Keelung to snap pictures.

Taiwan’s media have not always enjoyed the freedom they possess (and arguably abuse) today. During Japanese colonial rule from 1895 to 1945 and then also during the martial law period under the Kuomintang government, which lasted from 1949 to 1987 after the Kuomintang fled mainland China after losing the civil war, authorities maintained tight control on Taiwanese press. It wasn’t until 1987 — when then-President Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law — that restrictions on news coverage were removed and Taiwan’s media landscape came to life with a new crop of independent print publications and television stations.

Andy Hong, a reporter for Taiwanese newspaper Want Daily and a journalist in Taiwan for 20 years, said that Taiwan’s post-martial law media did not originally run "bloody" or "gossipy" news stories, adding that "newspapers were like those published in the early days of China’s Republican era," after China had toppled two millennia of imperial rule. Instead, Hong said, they thought they had an obligation "to promote cultural literacy." Hong’s colleague Yongfu Lin, who became a reporter with the China Times in 1985 and is now deputy director of Want Daily’s cross-strait news division, said that in the years after martial law, "news reports were very diverse," and the public had "fewer misgivings about the media," partly because journalists were for the first time targeting political figures who were "once considered off-limits." But Hong claimed things changed around 2003, when Hong Kong-based Apple Daily, a web site and broadsheet with a tabloid flair known for publishing color photos of grisly crime scenes and scantily-clad women, entered Taiwan and "immediately attracted readers."

One possible explanation for the domestic attraction of Taiwan’s increasingly inward-looking media is its continued diplomatic isolation at the hands of China, which still considers Taiwan a renegade province. Joe Wei, managing editor of the World Journal, a U.S. and Canada-based Chinese-language newspaper owned by Taiwan’s United Daily News, said he believes the lack of opportunities to participate in international organizations has led to a "loss of interest in things going on outside the island." Hong agreed, saying, "It probably has something to do with the island’s mentality of being a small country." In the China Times editorial, Wu noted that compared to Taiwan’s television media, even China Central Television, a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, covers a wider variety of topics with "both a sense of history and a worldly perspective," adding that the outlet’s performance "is enough to make Taiwan’s television journalists ashamed."

Taiwanese media also reflect — and exploit — a schism between those preferring the island’s current status of de facto independence from mainland China and those who want something more formal. Strong political beliefs among Taiwanese, Hong said, have emboldened media outlets to reveal their own political character, thus cleaving the country’s media landscape into two halves, leading to highly biased reporting of almost any political or economic issue by media outlets sympathetic to one or the other political cause.

To be sure, Taiwanese investigative journalists do occasionally break real stories. As early as 2005, Taiwan’s media began reporting on problems with the island’s electronic toll collection system, which most recently has come under fire for overcharging motorists. The magazine Business Today, a reputable business weekly, published an exclusive in May 2013 exposing the presence of carcinogenic additives in a popular brand of soy sauce sold in Taiwan, touching off a wide-reaching scandal involving some of the island’s most well-known food companies, and prompting the government to take additional steps to ensure the safety of all its food products. And in December 2013, Taiwan’s television and print media reported on accusations that a technology company in the southern city of Kaohsiung secretly dumped wastewater into rivers, leading to further government investigation.

It’s heartening to know that Taiwan’s press has the capacity to cover real stories, when it wants to. But in the end, Taiwanese journalists and media critics say, it is the public’s decision to either tune in or tune out that will ultimately shape the direction of news content in Taiwan in the years to come. The public’s following a policy of "no watching, no clicking, no responding" to trivial news, the Business Weekly column argues, is the only way Taiwanese media will change. The prognosis is not good. It might "take decades before seeing results," the column continues, even if the public does change its consumptions habits. If it doesn’t, the next generation will continue to be "bombarded by brain-dead news."

Taiwan maintains the distinction of having the freest television and print media in all of Asia, ranking 50th among 180 countries worldwide in a press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders, a French nonprofit. But if an outsider had docked on the island in the last few months, he might be forgiven for assuming that all of Taiwan was transfixed on two major news stories: a building-sized art installation in the form of an inflatable yellow duck, which on Dec. 31, 2013, exploded in the waters off of Keelung, a city near the capital Taipei, and a mixed-race Brazilian teenager on a self-discovery tour in Taiwan who rode the metro, ate some dumplings, and, on Jan. 4, made out with a reporter almost twice his age.

While mainland China, Taiwan’s cross-strait rival, continues to keep a tight leash on its media, Taiwan’s freewheeling television, print, and web media — and their penchant for superficial reportage — are causing antipathy among a growing number of its inhabitants.

Over the last decade, Taiwanese media have come to be known for in-your-face, no-holds-barred reporting that manages to be simultaneously sensationalist and mundane. A popular online editorial published Jan. 7 by Taiwanese magazine Business Weekly lamented that important issues — like the county government forcibly taking land in Dapu, Miaoli, a village in northwest Taiwan, and the June 2010 signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement between China and Taiwan — remain underreported. Meanwhile, the island has seen what the editorial calls coverage "of every move" of the Taipei Zoo’s new baby panda for about half a year, and Taiwan’s Yahoo page has created an entire page devoted just to the now-deflated yellow duck, regularly re-posting news articles published in other media outlets.

In a Jan. 6 editorial in China Times, a Taiwanese daily newspaper, media executive Antony G.C. Wu related a personal story of a friend living in Europe who returned to Taiwan after an unspecified period of time abroad, only to be shocked by what the Taiwanese talking heads were saying on-air. The rhetoric included frequent Chinese-language equivalents of "shit," "what the fuck," and other verbal bombs unfit for even some of the crassest U.S. cable news shows. Journalism professor Yang Aili, in a Feb. 12 editorial in the same publication, blamed Taiwan’s media for a lack of international perspective, observing that outlets seemed to attach "more importance to covering car accidents than to important world affairs." (Yang advised readers to sign up for Chinese-language email updates from publications like the U.K.-based Financial Times and U.S.-based New York Times, instead of relying on the Taiwanese press.) Even users of social media are showing signs of fatigue a search on Facebook — the social network of choice for young Taiwanese — revealed multiple pages devoted to discussing the problems with Taiwanese media, writ large. On one such page, a user rants in English that "Taiwan’s media sucks," providing "junk-food like news" that turns the audience into "zombies."

The macabre, salacious, and ridiculous stuff populating Taiwanese media certainly enjoys a wide audience. Readership for Taiwan’s print media has waned over the last two decades but as of March 2013, there were just under five million cable television subscribers in Taiwan, accounting for over 60 percent of households across the island, with news programming ranking second only to movies in viewership in 2012, the most recent time period for which data could be found. But with 17.5 million Taiwanese (about 75 percent of the island’s 23 million inhabitants) wired to the Internet as of May 2012, readers have increasingly been turning to the web for their news. That might help explain why Taiwanese were so intrigued by chatter about that giant yellow duck that 1.5 million people, presumably mostly from Taiwan, travelled to Keelung to snap pictures.

Taiwan’s media have not always enjoyed the freedom they possess (and arguably abuse) today. During Japanese colonial rule from 1895 to 1945 and then also during the martial law period under the Kuomintang government, which lasted from 1949 to 1987 after the Kuomintang fled mainland China after losing the civil war, authorities maintained tight control on Taiwanese press. It wasn’t until 1987 — when then-President Chiang Ching-kuo lifted martial law — that restrictions on news coverage were removed and Taiwan’s media landscape came to life with a new crop of independent print publications and television stations.

Andy Hong, a reporter for Taiwanese newspaper Want Daily and a journalist in Taiwan for 20 years, said that Taiwan’s post-martial law media did not originally run "bloody" or "gossipy" news stories, adding that "newspapers were like those published in the early days of China’s Republican era," after China had toppled two millennia of imperial rule. Instead, Hong said, they thought they had an obligation "to promote cultural literacy." Hong’s colleague Yongfu Lin, who became a reporter with the China Times in 1985 and is now deputy director of Want Daily’s cross-strait news division, said that in the years after martial law, "news reports were very diverse," and the public had "fewer misgivings about the media," partly because journalists were for the first time targeting political figures who were "once considered off-limits." But Hong claimed things changed around 2003, when Hong Kong-based Apple Daily, a web site and broadsheet with a tabloid flair known for publishing color photos of grisly crime scenes and scantily-clad women, entered Taiwan and "immediately attracted readers."

One possible explanation for the domestic attraction of Taiwan’s increasingly inward-looking media is its continued diplomatic isolation at the hands of China, which still considers Taiwan a renegade province. Joe Wei, managing editor of the World Journal, a U.S. and Canada-based Chinese-language newspaper owned by Taiwan’s United Daily News, said he believes the lack of opportunities to participate in international organizations has led to a "loss of interest in things going on outside the island." Hong agreed, saying, "It probably has something to do with the island’s mentality of being a small country." In the China Times editorial, Wu noted that compared to Taiwan’s television media, even China Central Television, a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, covers a wider variety of topics with "both a sense of history and a worldly perspective," adding that the outlet’s performance "is enough to make Taiwan’s television journalists ashamed."

Taiwanese media also reflect — and exploit — a schism between those preferring the island’s current status of de facto independence from mainland China and those who want something more formal. Strong political beliefs among Taiwanese, Hong said, have emboldened media outlets to reveal their own political character, thus cleaving the country’s media landscape into two halves, leading to highly biased reporting of almost any political or economic issue by media outlets sympathetic to one or the other political cause.

To be sure, Taiwanese investigative journalists do occasionally break real stories. As early as 2005, Taiwan’s media began reporting on problems with the island’s electronic toll collection system, which most recently has come under fire for overcharging motorists. The magazine Business Today, a reputable business weekly, published an exclusive in May 2013 exposing the presence of carcinogenic additives in a popular brand of soy sauce sold in Taiwan, touching off a wide-reaching scandal involving some of the island’s most well-known food companies, and prompting the government to take additional steps to ensure the safety of all its food products. And in December 2013, Taiwan’s television and print media reported on accusations that a technology company in the southern city of Kaohsiung secretly dumped wastewater into rivers, leading to further government investigation.

It’s heartening to know that Taiwan’s press has the capacity to cover real stories, when it wants to. But in the end, Taiwanese journalists and media critics say, it is the public’s decision to either tune in or tune out that will ultimately shape the direction of news content in Taiwan in the years to come. The public’s following a policy of "no watching, no clicking, no responding" to trivial news, the Business Weekly column argues, is the only way Taiwanese media will change. The prognosis is not good. It might "take decades before seeing results," the column continues, even if the public does change its consumptions habits. If it doesn’t, the next generation will continue to be "bombarded by brain-dead news."


History & Background of The Barred Rock Chicken

This is one of Americas’ oldest breeds, first putting in an appearance in the mid-1800s’.

The first barred specimens seemed to disappear from the landscape despite being shown at the Boston, Massachusetts show in 1849.

The breed reappeared in 1869 when a Mr. Upham of Massachusetts bred barred roosters to Java hens to create the prototype of the Barred Rock, although others lay claim to the breed also.
At this particular time, the Dominique hen (also barred) was very popular and winning poultry shows.

At this time, the standard for Dominiques and, eventually, Barred Rocks was a bit lax.

Breeders could exhibit Dominiques or Barred Rocks in both breed categories and win both categories because the comb could be either rose or single.

This seemed very unfair to many breeders, and eventually, the New York Poultry Society set the standard as a rose comb for Dominiques and single for Barred Rocks.

Needless to say, this upset a few people and confused the owners of either bird.
Eventually, things settled down, and the two breeds became separate entities in competition.

The Barred (Plymouth) Rock hen became the basis of the broiler industry until World War 2 when Breeders had produced more productive breeds of hen.

They were almost single-handedly responsible for keeping meat, protein, and eggs in the American diet through the time of rationing.

They remained popular as backyard hens because of their hardiness, docility, and productive traits.

In the 1930s’ the Barred Rock ‘production bird’ was introduced to breeders and farmers alike.

The production breed excelled in the eggs and meat areas and nearly drove the purebred heritage hen to extinction.

Fortunately, the heritage bird has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity and now is listed as ‘recovering’ by the Livestock Conservancy.


Homosexuality as a disease

The dominant perception of homosexuality in the 1950s was that it was a disease. The psychiatric community was nearly unanimous in this assessment and others took their cue from this stance. Most employers and government agencies barred homosexuals with morality clauses and they were widely considered to be security risks. In daily language they were often defined as "deviants", "perverts", or "inverts", when they were not being painted as pedophiles.

Psychiatric opinions

In 1952 the American Psychiatric Association published the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for the first time. It included homosexuality as a mental disease.

This was a predominant view in the mental health profession for the entire decade (an important exception was Evelyn Hooker). It was widely conjectured that homosexuality resulted from emotional traumas in childhood, as is the case with other mental illnesses, and that genetics played little to no role. On this basis the practice of conversion therapy took hold, with widespread attempts to change people from homosexual to heterosexual (here are just a few examples from students at Oberlin College in Ohio).

Employment restrictions

It was common practice for employers to prohibit homosexuality. Homosexuals had long been barred from employment in federal jobs, a policy that was reinforced in 1953 by Dwight Eisenhower's Executive Order 10450. Private employers varied on this issue, but most would fire any employee who was discovered to be gay. Thus at a very basic level, to identify oneself as a homosexual in public was to invite a lifetime of poverty.

Social mores

The disapprobation of psychiatrists and employers reflected the overt hostility of the mainstream American mindset. An unfortunate tendency was for many people to conflate homosexuals with pedophiles and serial killers. Public safety videos of the time made this connection explicit and helped to spread much fear and misinformation.

A survey conducted as late as 1967 for a CBS documentary (see the full program or a shorter version) determined that two thirds of Americans viewed homosexuals with "disgust, discomfort, or fear" while a majority favored laws against all homosexual acts.

Sodomy was illegal in every state until Illinois decriminalized it in 1961, and the laws on this were well enforced in the 1950s. Campaigns in Sioux City, Iowa and Boise, Idaho resulted in multiple arrests and involuntary confinements. There were very few voices that dissented from this policy.


Frost, Nixon and Me

In May 1976, in a rather dim New York City hotel room filled with David Frost's cigar smoke, the British television personality put an intriguing proposition to me: leave your leafy academic perch for a year and prepare me for what could be a historic interrogation of Richard Nixon about Watergate.

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This would be the nation's only chance for no holds barred questioning of Nixon on the scandal that drove him to resign the presidency in 1974. Pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford, Nixon could never be brought into the dock. Frost had secured the exclusive rights to interview him. Thus the prosecution of Richard Nixon would be left to a television interview by a foreigner.

The resulting Frost-Nixon interviews— one in particular—indeed proved historic. On May 4, 1977, forty-five million Americans watched Frost elicit a sorrowful admission from Nixon about his part in the scandal: "I let down my friends," the ex-president conceded. "I let down the country. I let down our system of government, and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into government but now think it too corrupt. I let the American people down, and I have to carry that burden with me the rest of my life."

If that interview made both political and broadcast history, it was all but forgotten two years ago, when the Nixon interviews were radically transformed into a piece of entertainment, first as the play Frost/Nixon, and now as a Hollywood film of the same title. For that televised interview in 1977, four hours of interrogation had been boiled down to 90 minutes. For the stage and screen, this history has been compressed a great deal more, into something resembling comedic tragedy. Having participated in the original event as Frost's Watergate researcher, and having had a ringside seat at its transformation, I've been thinking a lot lately about what is gained and what is lost when history is turned into entertainment.

I had accepted Frost's offer with some reservations. Nixon was a skilled lawyer who had denied Watergate complicity for two years. He had seethed in exile. For him, the Frost interviews were a chance to persuade the American people that he had been done an epic injustice—and to make upwards of $1 million for the privilege. And in David Frost, who had no discernible political philosophy and a reputation as a soft-soap interviewer, Nixon seemed to have found the perfect instrument for his rehabilitation.

Although Nixon's active role in the coverup had been documented in a succession of official forums, the absence of a judicial prosecution had left the country with a feeling of unfinished business. To hear Nixon admit to high crimes and misdemeanors could provide a national catharsis, a closing of the books on a depressing episode of American history.

For all my reservations, I took on the assignment with gusto. I had worked on the first Watergate book to advocate impeachment. I had taken a year off from teaching creative writing at the University of North Carolina to witness the Ervin Committee hearings of 1973, from which most Americans' understanding of Watergate came, because I regarded the scandal as the greatest political drama of our time. My passion lay in my opposition to the Vietnam War, which I felt Nixon had needlessly prolonged for six bloody years in my sympathy for Vietnam War resisters, who had been pilloried by the Nixonians and in my horror over Watergate itself. But I was also driven by my desire for engagement and, I like to think, a novelist's sense of the dramatic.

To master the canon of Watergate was a daunting task, for the volumes of evidence from the Senate, the House and various courts would fill a small closet. Over many months I combed through the archives, and I came across new evidence of Nixon's collusion with his aide Charles Colson in the coverup—evidence that I was certain would surprise Nixon and perhaps jar him out of his studied defenses. But mastering the record was only the beginning. There had to be a strategy for compressing two years of history into 90 minutes of television. To this end, I wrote a 96-page interrogation strategy memo for Frost.

In the broadcast, the interviewer's victory seemed quick, and Nixon's admission seemed to come seamlessly. In reality, it was painfully extracted from a slow, grinding process over two days.

At my suggestion, Frost posed his questions with an assumption of guilt. When Nixon was taken by surprise—as he clearly was by the new material—you could almost see the wheels turning in his head and almost hear him asking himself what else his interrogator had up his sleeve. At the climactic moment, Frost, a natural performer, knew to change his role from inquisitor to confessor, to back off and allow Nixon's contrition to pour out.

In Aristotelian tragedy, the protagonist's suffering must have a larger meaning, and the result of it must be enlightenment. Nixon's performance fell short of that classical standard—he had been forced into his admission, and after he delivered it, he quickly reverted to blaming others for his transgressions. (His reversion to character was cut from the final broadcast.) With no lasting epiphany, Nixon would remain a sad, less-than-tragic, ambiguous figure.

For me, the transition from history to theater began with a letter from Peter Morgan, the acclaimed British screenwriter (The Queen), announcing his intention to write a play about the Frost-Nixon interviews. Since I loved the theater (and have written plays myself), I was happy to help in what seemed then a precious little enterprise.

At lunches in London and Washington, I spilled out my memories. And then I remembered that I had written a narrative of my involvement with Frost and Nixon, highlighting various tensions in the Frost camp and criticizing the interviewer for failing, until the end, to apply himself to his historic duty. Out of deference to Frost, I hadn't published it. My manuscript had lain forgotten in my files for 30 years. With scarcely a glance at it, I fished it out and sent it to Morgan.

In the succeeding months I answered his occasional inquiry without giving the matter much thought. I sent Morgan transcripts of the conversations between Nixon and Colson that I had uncovered for Frost. About a year after first hearing from Morgan, I learned that the play was finished and would première at the 250-seat Donmar Warehouse Theatre in London with Frank Langella in the role of Nixon. Morgan asked if I would be willing to come over for a couple of days to talk to Langella and the other actors. I said I'd love to.

On the flight to London I reread my 1977 manuscript and I read the play, which had been fashioned as a bout between fading heavyweights, each of whose careers were on the wane, each trying to use the other for resurrection. The concept was theatrically brilliant, I thought, as well as entirely accurate. A major strand was the rising frustration of a character called Jim Reston at the slackness of a globe-trotting gadfly called David Frost. Into this Reston character was poured all the anger of the American people over Watergate it was he who would prod the Frost character to be unrelenting in seeking the conviction of Richard Nixon. The play was a slick piece of work, full of laughs and clever touches.

For the play's first reading we sat round a simple table at the Old Vic, ten actors (including three Americans), Morgan, me and the director, Michael Grandage. "Now we're going to go around the table, and everyone is going to tell me, 'What was Watergate?'" Grandage began. A look of terror crossed the actors' faces, and it fell to me to explain what Watergate was and why it mattered.

The play, in two acts, was full of marvelous moments. Nixon had been humanized just enough, a delicate balance. To my amusement, Jim Reston was played by a handsome 6-foot-2 triathlete and Shakespearean actor named Elliot Cowan. The play's climax—the breaking of Nixon—had been reduced to about seven minutes and used only a few sentences from my Colson material. When the reading was over, Morgan turned to Grandage. "We can't do this in two acts," he said. The emotional capital built up in Act I would be squandered when theatergoers repaired to the lobby for refreshments and cellphone calls at intermission. Grandage agreed.

I knew not to argue with the playwright in front of the actors. But when Morgan and I retreated to a restaurant for lunch, I insisted that the breaking of Nixon happened too quickly. There was no grinding down his admission was not "earned." I pleaded for the inquisition to be protracted, lengthened, with more of the devastating Colson material put back in.

Morgan resisted. This was theater, not history. He was the dramatist he knew what he was doing. He was focused on cutting, not adding, lines.

Back at the theater, after a second reading, Langella took up my argument on his own. Nixon's quick collapse did not feel "emotionally right" to him, he said. He needed more lines. He needed to suffer more. Grandage listened for a while, but the actor's job was not to question the text, but to make the playwright's words work. The play would stay as written.

It opened in London on August 10, 2006, to terrific reviews. The critics raved about Langella's performance as Nixon, as well as Michael Sheen's as David Frost. (I tried not to take it personally when the International Herald Tribune critic, Matt Wolf, wrote, "Frost/Nixon provide[s] a snarky guide to [the] proceedings in the form of Elliot Cowan's bespectacled James Reston, Jr.") No one seemed to care about what was historically accurate and what had been made up. No one seemed to find Nixon's breaking down and subsequent contrition unsatisfying. Not even me. Langella had made it work, brilliantly. not through more words, but with shifting eyes, awkward pauses and strange, uncomfortable body language, suggesting a squirming, guilty man. Less had become more as a great actor was forced back on the essential tools of his art.

Langella had not impersonated Nixon, but had become a totally original character, inspired by Nixon perhaps, but different from him. Accuracy—at least within the walls of theater—did not seem to matter. Langella's performance evoked, in Aristotelian terms, both pity and fear. No uncertainty lingered about the hero's (or the audience's) epiphany.

In April 2007 the play moved to Broadway. Again the critics raved. But deep in his admiring review, the New York Times' Ben Brantley noted, "Mr. Morgan has blithely rejiggered and rearranged facts and chronology" and referred readers to my 1977 manuscript, which had just been published, at last, as The Conviction of Richard Nixon. A few days later, I heard from Morgan. Brantley's emphasis on the play's factual alterations was not helpful, he said.

Morgan and I had long disagreed on this issue of artistic license. I regarded it as a legitimate point between two people coming from different value systems. Beyond their historical worth, the 1977 Nixon interviews had been searing psychodrama, made all the more so by the uncertainty over their outcome—and the ambiguity that lingered. I did not think they needed much improving. If they were to be compressed, I thought they should reflect an accurate essence.

Morgan's attention was on capturing and keeping his audience. Every line needed to connect to the next, with no lulls or droops in deference to dilatory historical detail. Rearranging facts or lines or chronology was, in his view, well within the playwright's mandate. In his research for the play, different participants had given different, Rashômon-like versions of the same event.

"Having met most of the participants and interviewed them at length," Morgan wrote in the London program for the play, "I'm satisfied no one will ever agree on a single, 'true' version of what happened in the Frost/Nixon interviews—thirty years on we are left with many truths or many fictions depending on your point of view. As an author, perhaps inevitably that appeals to me, to think of history as a creation, or several creations, and in the spirit of it all I have, on occasion, been unable to resist using my imagination."

In a New York Times article published this past November, Morgan was unabashed about distorting facts. "Whose facts?" he told the Times reporter. Hearing different versions of the same events, he said, had taught him "what a complete farce history is."

I emphatically disagreed. No legitimate historian can accept history as a creation in which fact and fiction are equals. Years later participants in historical events may not agree on "a single, 'true' version of what happened," but it's the historian's responsibility to sort out who is telling the truth and who is covering up or merely forgetful. As far as I was concerned, there was one true account of the Frost/Nixon interviews—my own. The dramatist's role is different, I concede, but in historical plays, the author is on the firmest ground when he does not change known facts but goes beyond them to speculate on the emotional makeup of the historical players.

But this was not my play. I was merely a resource my role was narrow and peripheral. Frost/Nixon—both the play and the movie—transcends history. Perhaps it is not even history at all: in Hollywood, the prevailing view is that a "history lesson" is the kiss of commercial death. In reaching for an international audience, one that includes millions unversed in recent American history, Morgan and Ron Howard, the film's director, make the history virtually irrelevant.

In the end it is not about Nixon or Watergate at all. It's about human behavior, and it rises upon such tran­scendent themes as guilt and innocence, resistance and enlightenment, confession and redemption. These are themes that straight history can rarely crystallize. In the presence of the playwright's achievement, the historian—or a participant—can only stand in the wings and applaud.

James Reston Jr. is the author of The Conviction of Richard Nixon and 12 other books.


Xmas or Bust: The Untold Story of ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’

The cast and creators of 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' – including Johnny Galecki, Beverly D'Angelo, Chevy Chase and Juliette Lewis – weigh in on the seasonal classic.

I t started as a continuation of the misadventures of the Griswold family it ended up becoming one of the most surprisingly popular and oft-quoted holiday movies of all time.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the story of beleaguered patriarch Clark Griswold &ndash played by the inimitable Chevy Chase &ndash who tries to engineer the picture-perfect seasonal festivities: the best naturally procured tree, the biggest and brightest (literally) Christmas-light display on the block, the end-of-the-year bonus from his Scrooge-like boss. It’s the only comedy to appeal to those who live for that deck-the-halls spirit, viewers who are dyed-in-the-wool Grinches (“Well, I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery”) and folks who appreciate the genius of Randy Quaid in his underwear, exclaiming: “Shitter’s full!”

We’ve asked the cast and creators to weigh in on the seasonal classic, which was released over 30 years ago in December 1989. From the intricate planning behind the film&rsquos zany antics to freak snowstorms and cast freak-outs, this is the untold, no-holds-barred story of Christmas Vacation.

A Child Is Born…
Matty Simmons (Executive Producer): The first Vacation movie was based on a short story in National Lampoon the magazine was so hot at the time thanks to Animal House. There was also a Christmas story in the magazine by John [Hughes], and after reading it, I’d always wanted to make a movie of it. We made [the 1985 sequel] European Vacation and, after several years of pitching Warner Brothers, they finally said they wanted to do the Christmas one. They said, “John wants to produce and he wants first billing, will you take second billing?” So, I said “Okay, I’ll take executive producer.” That’s my title on the picture.

Tom Jacobson (Producer): I was a partner with John at the time, producing movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Uncle Buck with him. When the idea of a third Vacation came up, we went to Warners.

Simmons: Everything John wrote was just great. He was a genius, there’s no question about that.

Chevy Chase (Clark Griswold): I never knew John that well. If you see his films, he had a great vision of teenagers growing up in a way he was a teenager, still battling those awkward growing years. Maybe he was a genius, and God bless him if he was. There’s so few of us.

Beverly D’Angelo (Ellen Griswold): I was living in Ireland and my agent Rick Nicita said, “John’s got a script.”

Jeremiah Chechik (Director): This was my first feature film &hellipup until then, I had done a lot of sexy, very moody, atmospheric commercials. Long story short, thanks to the commercial work I was going to make a movie about the Apollo Theater at Warner Brothers and had gotten to know them. They started to send me scripts &mdash and one of them sent me was Christmas Vacation. I laughed out loud when I read it. Never mind that I didn’t have any comic chops, as far as I knew. I said I would do it, and met with John, Chevy, and Tom.

Jacobson: John was shooting Uncle Buck at the time [in 1989]. We overlapped prep, but Warner Brothers wanted Christmas Vacation in time for Christmas, so we started shooting it three days after we wrapped Buck.

Chechik: I thought, should I really be doing this?

D’Angelo: I remember on one of the first days Jeremiah saying, “We’re going to figure out how your characters walk,” and I was like, “What? This is Christmas Vacation.” That’d be great if we were doing La Strada or something.

Chechik: John was at the height of his fame, popularity, and power, so for me it was so great to develop a strong relationship with him. He came to the set exactly one day on the first day of shooting. He was very much like, “It’s your movie, man. You do it.”

Simmons: Casting was pretty simple because the whole thing is built around Chevy and Beverly. The rest of the cast was just about getting the top character actors for the older people.

Chase: I think we had the best actors of our time: E.G. Marshall, John Randolph, Doris Roberts, and Diane Ladd. That’s quite a group.

Diane Ladd (Norah Griswold): So you’re writing about the picture that gives me more money than anything I’ve ever done? Every year around this time, I get my own bonus thanks to Christmas Vacation. Isn’t that funny?

Juliette Lewis (Audrey Griswold): My first memory of the movie is being in one of those really generic office spaces with Chevy reading lines from the movie and him seeming excited. The fact that the Griswolds have a new set of kids each time became the thing. Your agents couldn’t explain why it was acceptable it just is. Of course, I grew up with the Vacation movie with the legendary Anthony Michael Hall. This was this huge exciting opportunity and even at 15, I knew it was a big deal.

Johnny Galecki (Rusty Griswold): At the time, I was in Chicago auditioning for industrial films and regional theater, and I was happy doing that. I didn’t dare to dream to be in a big studio film. But I put myself on tape and sent it in. They flew me out to Los Angeles it was one of the first times I was ever here. I read with Chevy and Jeremiah &mdash and that alone would have been enough for me. I could have been given my walking papers and sent home on the next flight and it still would have been a dream come true. Chevy told me right there in the room that I had gotten the role.

Lewis: I don’t know the politics at the time, but maybe they had to rush to find the kids, or something.

Chechik: Galecki was just an odd kid. He was very young and so dry. He made me laugh because he has this wack of a sense of humor and that’s what made me really want him. He wasn’t a Hollywood kid who was going for laughs, but he had a nervousness to him that in many ways shows beautifully now as an adult. His comic gifts are absolutely incredible.

Ladd: This movie is kind of a turning point in my life. I went there with a British Academy Award and an Oscar nomination under my belt, but Hollywood was very hard on women. When I did Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, I thought it’d change everything for women &ndash a lot of us did. But it didn’t, and I was spending a lot of time in Florida. People would yell at me, “What are you doing running away from Hollywood?” I came back to Hollywood and the first thing I got was for Christmas Vacation. Meanwhile, here I am going to audition to play Chevy’s momma, and I’m one year older than him! That’s if he was born in 1943, because IMDb lies about everything. They never get it right!

Miriam Flynn (Catherine): I remember getting together to read the script. Randy (Quaid) and I, our characters almost had their own little world, so I knew it was going to be fun.

Ladd: Shelly Winters loaned me her dead mother’s dress to wear, I got some Oxfords and an pair of glasses at the Salvation Army, and I put baby powder in my hair. Here I am looking like an old dog and I thought that if I’m ever up for a sexy part again, I’d be dead. But I marched right over to Chevy and I grabbed his face, pulled open his mouth and played a game: “Knock-knock, who’s there?” That was improvised and something like it wound up in the movie. When I got the call that I had the part, I started to cry. I said, “Oh my god, my career is over!” But I laughed myself for the bank for 16 weeks. That part paid money.

Chechik: Everyone in the cast had different qualities, but they shared soulful natures and a strong sense of quirkiness. At the end of the day, my focus was to try to get these great dramatic actors to trust John’s script and allow the humor to come out of circumstances.

‘Tis the Season…
Simmons:
It was entirely shot on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank and in Colorado, but it has a very Chicago look.

Chase: The house we used is on the back lot at Warner Brothers. It was the same house where they shot Lethal Weapon. The toilet that blew up with Danny Glover was actually lying out on the lawn when we arrived there, waiting for the next crew to come in.

Flynn: It was such an interesting world we were in, because we were shooting it in the spring and summer, but they created that whole winter scene on the set. There we all were in our outfits in the middle of warm weather doing this Christmas movie.

Chechik: We went away for 10 days to Breckenridge, Colorado because at that time of year they traditionally had the biggest snowfall. We show up &mdash and there is no snow. We are freaking out day after day, so we set up a convoy of trucks to haul in snow to Breckenridge for those first scenes in the movie. There were a lot of logistical issues and just as these trucks were rolling up, it finally started to snow and continued&hellipand continued. It snowed something like 10 feet in three days. It became near impossible to actually shoot because there was so much snow.

Chase: Well, there was enough snow on that hill to put me in a fucking sled that sped down going about 100 miles an hour. Jesus Christ! It scared the living daylights out of me. I wasn’t that far from the trees and the pathway in the snow had already been made, but it was a bitch. I kept on going faster and faster. [Laughs] I guess it didn’t occur to them to put brakes. My heels were red by the end of it.

Galecki: Breckenridge was at an altitude none of us were used to, so we were panting while tying our shoes. It was cold even for a Chicago city kid up there, but that bonds the cast and crew real fast because it’s like, no matter what my face hurts too. We’re in this together.

Lewis: That first trip to Colorado, I took my boyfriend and caught him in our hotel room talking to another girl on the phone. I didn’t even tell him that I heard him, I just asked who he was talking to. He lied and I said, “Oh, by the way. You&rsquore leaving tomorrow morning.” I booked his flight and then he left, and then I went to go film.

Ellen Latzen (Ruby Sue): I remember filming the sledding scene in Breckenridge and it was brutally cold. They had a crazy snowstorm and we had a hard time landing on the ground. We had to ride snowcats to get to the top of this mountain. The takes were kind of brutal because of the cold. I remember at the end of the scene, Randy Quaid’s line “Bingo” was totally improvised. Jeremiah Chechik said, “That was amazing, say that again!”

Lewis: I remember being freezing in a tent that had a tiny heater. We tried to bide our time getting a tiny bit of warmth. The first scene we shot is when we were on a hill and I say, “My eyebrows are frozen.”

D’Angelo: Juliette was just coming into this incredible charisma and appeal. She was like a ripening peach. Just amazing. She could say, “Who’s at the door?” and it’d be compelling.

Chase: I thought Juliette’s performance was brilliant, frankly. Her character was bored the whole fucking time, which is what a teenage kid would be. It’s the stage where they’re thinking, “Well, I’m better than this.” She was wonderful.

Galecki: Juliette was older than me by a year, but she might as well been on another planet. I worshipped her. She was rock and roll even at 15 years old. She had different stories about what she had done the night before and with whom. At that time I was, and still am, in awe of her. It was no surprise that within two years she was up for an Oscar. Nobody questioned that there was something boiling in that girl that was going to come out at some point.

Lewis: Johnny was the littlest thing back then. He was really curious, thoughtful, smart and funny.

D’Angelo: I remember feeling so maternal towards Johnny. Chevy and I would sing a song to him, “Oh, Johnny Galecki was a big, big man!”

Galecki: I hadn’t thought of that in ages! I remember Beverly invited me into her trailer and we called Anthony Michael Hall, which was weird for me, because I didn’t know how he’d feel and I was a fan. We talked on speakerphone for a while. Everyone there was really protective of me as much as they could be.

I’m Chevy Chase, and You’re Not
Chechik:
Both Chevy and Johnny have the gift of comic timing without the gloss of it. There was an odd flatness to it that was super funny.

Galecki: One day John Hughes, Jeremiah, Chevy and I were sitting around waiting for a scene to be set up, and Chevy said, “There’s always been kind of a man-to-man scene between Clark and Russ in the previous films &mdash a coming-of-age scene. But there isn’t in this one.” John mentioned that he had something like that in an initial draft, and Chevy said, “We should consider putting that back in.” So they asked what I thought and I said, “I don’t think there’s any point. Somebody thought it was worth taking out at some point, so even if we shoot it, it’ll probably get taken out again.” I literally talked myself out of what could have been a classic scene with Chevy Chase. Now that I’m a jaded Hollywood fuck, I realize the error of my ways. I still kick myself in the ass for this everyday.

Chase: Now Galecki’s making 100 million a year and I’m sitting here.

Galecki: Chevy worked like a puppet master for me in some scenes since I was was young and had never done comedy before. He’d almost cue me for my timing. He would nod, point, or wave a finger. He was so supportive, teaching me comic timing. That took a patience and consideration because the movie would have been funny enough without Rusty having that specific timing. He was terribly generous with me.

Latzen: At one point between takes, Chevy turns and looks at me and says in a very dry way, “Hey Ellen, why do dogs lick their balls?” And I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “Because they can.” As a kid I didn’t get it, but as an adult I can totally appreciate the humor of it. With us kids, he was great. That was his way. He was very dry.

Doris Roberts (Frances Smith): On television, Chevy was always falling down on people, so during filming he started to do that with me and I squealed. The crew laughed and he said, “Fire this woman!” He was just kidding.

Chase: Damn, I had some great moves. I still have them, I’m just not using them at home a lot.

Well, there was enough snow on that hill to put me in a fucking sled that sped down going about 100 miles an hour. Jesus Christ!

Jacobson: Chevy was a hard worker, incredibly committed, and wanted the movie to be great. That’s the key. He’d always give you a ton of stuff, even little things. Like him in the office talking to his boss, he’ll give you 20 different things &mdash a look, a stumble, a different entrance, a pause.

Galecki: Chevy would take me at lunch hours to the set of Harlem Nights and Ghostbusters 2. He didn’t need to do that, yet here I am as a 13 year-old right off the bus from Chicago and I’m hanging out with Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Harold Ramis, and Dan Aykroyd. That’s a dream.

Ladd: Chevy’s been a really terrific human being to me. He’s a born talent and the universe gave him wonderful comedy timing and he’s a hard, hard worker. Everybody’s different depending on how they affect you, but he played my son and right away I felt like he was my own flesh and blood. When he didn’t get his bonus, I actually cried. “How could they do that to my son. ”

Jacobson: There&rsquos a scene in the front hallway of the house when Aunt Bethany, played by Mae Questel, wraps up her cat in a box. If you remember the scene, the cat’s supposed to be jumping around in the box and Chevy is holding it by the twine. Clearly we didn’t put a cat in the box when we were shooting it, but on the screen you&rsquore convinced there&rsquos a cat in there from the way the box is twitching and he’s reacting to it. That’s just a real sensibility for physical comedy.

Chase: You can see the box moving in the film, but you can’t see me doing it. That’s the way cats are. They make sudden, surprise movements.

D’Angelo: Whatever it was that happened with Chevy and I when we first met has never changed. We just have always had some kind of connection, physically and creatively. It’s a current you just can&rsquot stop.

Chase: Bev and I have been close friends since the very first Vacation. She’s very close to my wife and me. We even live near each other in Los Angeles. She’s one of the best actresses in the world. I’ve always felt that way.

Lewis: Chevy and Beverly’s chemistry… everyone on set could really feel it.

Chechik: During the filming, Beverly and I really fought like hell. But when we did the DVD commentary several years ago, we had the greatest time together ever. Who knows how this all works?

D’Angelo: There was nothing that would qualify me as a suburban housewife. That wasn’t me. But my mother was devoted to her family and husband, and her motto was “It has to all add up to 100 percent. So it doesn’t matter if you give 99, just as long as it adds up to 100.” And that was the source for me.

Flynn: Randy and I always said that all you have to do is put those clothes on us and we were ready to go. Once I remember the costume person said to me, “Randy thinks it’d be funny to have his underwear show through his white pants. What if you did that too?” And I went, “Um, no. That will be just Randy.”

Chase: I loved working with Randy on all of the Vacation movies. I never even got a hint there was anything going on emotionally or physiologically with him. He just gets right into it. When we’re in the grocery store and he gets that huge 100 pound bag of dog food and slams it down. I don’t think anybody wrote that. That was just Randy reaching out and grabbing it.

Flynn: There’s one scene that didn’t make it to the film and I so wish it had. It’s a scene where Randy and I are in the infamous motor home and you get to see what our lives are like inside. That was a riot, but at the time it had to be cut.

D’Angelo: I remember there was a big discussion on whether Bill Hickey’s cigar should be called a cigar or a stogie, because he says, “Get me my stogie.” [Hickey played Uncle Lewis.] They weren’t sure people would know what a stogie was, because research showed that our average audience was nine years old or something. I thought, “What!?”

Flynn: The turkey scene with it exploding has become somewhat classic. I always get comments whenever I go to buy a turkey around the holidays.

Chase: That dinner sequence was my baby. I remember working out the way it should go, with the camera going around the table filming everybody. Then the turkey, looking like that: “Here’s the heart!” [Laughs] It’s just wonderful, because it’s not so outlandish. The story is about the possibility that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Lewis: All of the gags in this film, and there’s a lot of them, are all really laborious to shoot. They take hours, if not days.

Chechik: The studio was really against electrifying the cat. They really didn’t want to do it. I would always go, “Well, check with John and see what he thinks.” And then I’d called John immediately after said, “They’re going to call you to try to get rid of the cat!” John protected me.

Jacobson: John was a master of describing comedy. Look at the intricacies of Ferris Bueller and Home Alone the details of the action are all right there on the page. Even in this one when the squirrel jumps out of the Christmas tree, it’s written in a very detailed way that you can see it on the page.

Chechik: For the dog and squirrel chase, we hired an animal trainer who trained them everyday for months to run through the set. When it came time to finally shoot what we’ve been planning, I got out of my car and saw everyone standing in a huddle shaking their heads and I knew something was terribly wrong. I asked them what was going on and they said, “We have a problem.” Okay, what? “The squirrel’s dead.” I said, “Holy fuck, we’re shooting that today!” And the animal trainer turned and said, “Ya know, they don’t live that long.” We still had to shoot the scene, so we used an untrained squirrel. It was just total chaos.

Lewis: We probably shot the stuff with the squirrel for a week. That’s the magic of moviemaking.

Ladd: I did my own stunt for the scene when the squirrel jumps from tree. I was in pretty good shape, so I jumped up and backwards onto the couch all by myself. Then, I’m supposed to pass out on the floor and the squirrel runs past me. And the director said, “Diane, please get closer to the squirrel!” Meanwhile, the squirrel wrangler was saying, “Diane, please don’t get closer to the squirrel. If someone screams or scares one, their claws are like razor blades.”

D’Angelo: Did you catch when the police came in and there’s a freeze frame where my hand was (on Chevy’s crotch)? I did that spur of the moment and told Chevy, just to see if anyone on set noticed. But we did a couple takes and no one mentioned it.

Chechik: I always wanted the animated opening you see in the film, but Warners balked at the cost of doing an animated title. So rather than get into a fight, I designed another title sequence with a Christmas song sung by a Jamaican who sounded like he had no teeth and you can barely understand the words. Then the replacement title sequence looked like an old French art film, with white titles on black. When I proposed this to Warner they said, “We think the animated titles are great.” For the theme song, Prince was a Warner artist and he produced it. He’s the one who brought in Darlene Love.

Simmons: There’s a scene in the movie that when I saw it, it just knocked me out&hellip when Chevy goes up into the attic and watches the home movies. I just went crazy over that and I remember telling everybody that scene was our home run.

Chechik: I remember when I showed John the first cut of the movie. It was just him and I, and he turned to me and said, “You’ve got such a great movie here, I don’t want to tell you anything.” The day the movie opened, I was home that weekend and James Brooks &mdash the James L. Brooks, who was a friend of Chevy’s and somewhat of a mentor to me &mdash called and said, “We’re going to see your movie in Westwood. You gotta check it out with an audience!” So I sat with him and experienced the movie for the first time with a crowd. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.

Galecki: I remember at the after party for the premiere, I had sushi for the first time and Juliette was on the dance floor tearing it up. I said, “How did you learn to dance like that?” And she said, “Someone taught me last week.” It was the choreographer for In Living Color or something.

Flynn: The first time I saw the movie I really, really loved it. I was at a party at Marty Short’s house and it was right after it came out. Chevy walked in and, somewhat surprised, said, “We’re number one at the box office.”

Chechik: It was number one for like four weeks.

D’Angelo: I think that there was a little phenomenon with it where it was the third movie in the series, but it made more than the second one. Which is unusual. I didn’t know that was going to happen. The first Vacation was rated R, but then this phenomena happened that people brought their kids and instead of saying, “Look at these people,” the audience went, “This is us.” They laughed with them instead of at them. And it changed things.

Permanent Vacation
Jacobson: Frankly, it’s hard to avoid seeing it on television this time of year.

Chase: I don’t watch it if it’s on TV, but just recently, my wife Jane was showing me some clips of it on her computer. I started realizing, hey &mdash that was really funny! It bucked me up. Do you know what my favorite line is? “Have you checked our shitters, honey?”

Galecki: This was such a seminal part of my career, and understanding of comedy and life in general. I remember practically every day.

Flynn: I always know when it’s getting to be around November and December because people start coming up to me asking, “Did we go to school together or something?” The movie has seeped into people’s consciousness.

Latzen: I haven’t acted since I was a kid but my face is still the same, so I’ll be walking down the street and people will say, “Where do I know you from?” Everyone once in awhile I get, “Oh man, you’re Ruby Sue!”

Galecki: What’s even funnier is that people that I’ve known for 10, 15 years still to this day say to me, “Oh my god, you’re in Christmas Vacation?” There’s a big difference between 14 and 39. I’m able to look at it with very grateful eyes.

Simmons: I would say 1,000 people tell me that they watch it every Christmas. I’m not exaggerating. If I go anywhere and they know who I am, people come up to me and say that.

Lewis: I haven’t seen the movie in 20 years, but I do get to relive aspects of it by other people talking to me about it and I just adore that. I love that I’m part of a Christmas classic. As a youngster, you don’t think past that week. Now, as 40 year-old Juliette, I think back and say to myself, “I was a Griswold. How cute.”

Simmons: Until Christmas Vacation came out, I considered A Christmas Story the best Christmas movie. But now I think Christmas Vacation is better.

Chase: Comparing Christmas Vacation to It’s A Wonderful Life is the silliest thing. That film starred the greatest movie actor of all time and the idea that our movie could ever be connected in some fashion to something so brilliant and beautiful always made feel like, “That’s all they had to write about?” It’s very flattering and I suppose Christmas Vacation is a modern look at Christmas. But James Stewart, my God! What a movie. I could talk about that one all day. Frank Capra’s grandson was a second Assistant Director on Christmas Vacation.

Flynn: There are certain things that become part of the lexicon. Now whenever a house has a lot of lights, it’s called a “Griswold house.”

Chase: There are those contests now, with people trying to light their houses. I’m thinking, “I did that. I fell off a roof.”

Lewis: It highlights the idiosyncrasies between family members. You can call be totally different and oddballs, but everyone tries to make a go of it during the holiday season.

Chase: The little moments are my favorite. When Cousin Eddie’s dog goes under the tree and drinks the water, and Clark says “Stop that!” And Randy, as Cousin Eddie, says, “Don’t worry, a little tree water won&rsquot hurt him.” Not at all concerned that I have to get under there and refill the water.

Roberts: This movie’s going to last much longer than all of us, but unfortunately ghosts don’t get residuals.

Ladd: Last year I had to go buy 20 copies of the DVD to give out for Christmas. I meet new people and they say, “Oh my God, my kids watch you every Christmas!” So I send them an autographed copy of the movie and they jump up and down.

Chase: I have to see it again.

[Editor’s Note: A version of this story was originally published December 2014]


(1899-1902)

This was America's first true colonial war as a world power. After defeating Spain in Cuba and in the Philippines in 1898, the U.S. purchased the Philippines, Puerto Rico and several other islands from the Spanish. However, the Filipinos had been fighting a bloody revolution against Spain since 1896, and had no intention of becoming a colony of another imperialist power. In February of 1899, fighting broke out between the occupying American Army and the Filipino forces.

"I am not afraid, and am always ready to do my duty, but I would like some one to tell me what we are fighting for."-- Arthur H. Vickers, Sergeant in the First Nebraska Regiment

"Talk about war being 'hell,' this war beats the hottest estimate ever made of that locality. Caloocan was supposed to contain seventeen thousand inhabitants. The Twentieth Kansas swept through it, and now Caloocan contains not one living native. Of the buildings, the battered walls of the great church and dismal prison alone remain. The village of Maypaja, where our first fight occurred on the night of the fourth, had five thousand people on that day, -- now not one stone remains upon top of another. You can only faintly imagine this terrible scene of desolation. War is worse than hell."-- Captain Elliott, of the Kansas Regiment, February 27th

*Quotes are from "Soldier's Letters. " , part of an anti-imperialism website formerly operated and edited by the late Jim Zwick.

NAME OF CONFLICT: The Philippine-American War

BEGAN: February 4, 1899

ENDED: July 4, 1902 (This is the "official" end of the war, as proclaimed by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Fighting continued on several islands for years to come.)

TYPE(S) OF CONFLICT: Inter-State (From the Philippine perspective) and Colonial (From the American perspective).

PREDECESSOR: The Philippine Revolution of 1896 (1896-1898), The Spanish-American War (1898)

CONCURRENT: The Boxer Rebellion (1900)

SUCCESSOR: The Moro Wars (1902-1913?)

After centuries as a Spanish colony, a revolution led in part by Emilio Aguinaldo broke out in 1896 in the Philippine Islands. After fighting a savage guerilla war for two and a half years, the Filipinos suddenly found themselves in a seemingly advantageous position as allies of the United States. In 1898, Spain fought a losing war with the United States in which her colonies of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam were overrun with relative ease by the U.S. Army and her Atlantic Fleet devastated outside of Santiago, Cuba. Similarly, Spain's Pacific Fleet was wiped out in the Battle of Manila Bay, and American troops landed on the outskirts of the capitol city.

Following the surrender of the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines to American military forces in August,1898, tensions developed between U.S. and Filipino forces near Manila. The American government decided to keep the Philippines as a colony, thereby denying independence to the Filipino people. Aguinaldo and his army of nearly 80,000 veteran troops realized that their "allies" in the Spanish War would soon become foes.

DESCRIPTION OF CONFLICT:

As early 1899, U.S. and Filipino forces faced off as a tense situation became worse. American forces held the capitol of Manila, while Aguinaldo's army occupied a trench-line surrounding the city. On the evening of February 4, 1899, Private William Grayson of the Nebraska Volunteers fired the first shot in what would turn out to be a very bloody war. Grayson shot at a group of Filipinos approaching his position, provoking an armed response. Shooting soon spread up and down the ten-mile U.S.-Filipino lines, causing hundreds of casualties. Upon the outbreak of hostilities, U.S. troops, supported by shelling from Admiral Dewey's fleet, quickly overwhelmed the Filipino positions while inflicting thousands of casualties. Within days, American forces spread outward from Manila, using superior firepower, mobile artillery and command of the sea to full effect.

By November of 1899, Aguinaldo and his forces had been pushed further and further into central Luzon (the main Philippine island) and he realized he could not fight the Americans with conventional military units. At this point, he ordered his followers to turn to guerilla tactics to combat the American army. From this point on, the war became a savage, no-holds-barred guerilla conflict made up of ambushes, massacres and retribution. Both sides engaged in wanton violence and slaughter. Villages were destroyed, civilians murdered, prisoners tortured and mutilated along with a host of other atrocities. Many American officers and non-coms had served in the Indian Wars, and thus applied the old belief that "the only good Indian was a dead Indian" to their relations with the Filipinos. This attitude of course was reciprocated by the native forces.

Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in March, 1902, and organized opposition from his followers soon faded. Despite the official end to hostilities proclaimed on July 4, 1902, individual tribes in Luzon and the Muslim Moros of the southern islands launched further uprisings for another decade or so.

Something new and historical: Want to learn how to drive a tank? Check out these tank driving experiences .

CONSEQUENCES OF THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR:

1. Independence for the Philippines was delayed until 1946.

2. The United States acquired an overseas colony which served as a base for U.S. business and military interests in the Asia/Pacific region.

3. Following the conclusion of major hostilities, the U.S. did it's best to "Americanize" the Philippines. Through successful civilian administration, the Islands were modernized and the nation prepared for eventual independence. The Philippines became an independent nation on July 4, 1946.

U.S.-- 4,234 dead and 2,818 wounded.

Philippines-- 20,000 military dead and 200,000 civilian dead. (approximate numbers). Some historians place the numbers of civilian dead at 500,000 or higher.

UNIQUE FACTS OR TRENDS:

1. This was the first major land campaign fought by the U.S. outside of the Western Hemisphere.

2. The Philippine-American War can be considered America's first "Imperialistic" conflict.

1. In Our Image: America's Empire In The Philippines. 1989, by Stanley Karnow. pp. 75-195.

2. The Wars of America. 1981, by Robert Leckie. pp. 563-574.

LINKS

To other sites on this conflict:

Philippine-American War --Summary of the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), from Veltisezar Bautista's book, The Filipino American.

Philippine Scouts Heritage Society --The site is intended to help support the mission of preserving the history, heritage and legacy of the Philippine Scouts for present and future generations.

Small Wars Manual's Strategical and Psychological Principles in Philippine Counterinsurgency --consideration of Small Wars psychological principles looking at the Philippine War experience.

Filipino Lessons For America Strategy In Iraq ----An analysis comparing warfare in the Philippines to the war in Iraq.

The Saga of David Fagen: Black Rebel in the Philippine Insurrection --The story of an African-American soldier who joined the Filipino forces opposing the United States.

The Philippine History Page: The Filipino Perspective --A Brief History of the Philippines from a Filipino Perspective.

The Spanish-American War Centennial Site -- A very ambitious site delving into all aspects of the Spanish American War, including the issues of Cuba, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. home front. Definitely worth looking at!

Medal of Honor Recipients for the Philippine Insurrection -- From the U.S. Army website. A listing of American military personnel who won the Medal of Honor in the Philippine War.

Named Campaigns of the Philippine Insurrection --A listing of U.S. Army campaigns in the Philippine War. From the U.S. Army website.

Soldier's Letters: Materials for the History of a War of Criminal Aggression --Part of a very good website dealing with the issue of Anti-Imperialism.

The Swish of the Kris -- This site offers the text of a history book written long ago detailing the Moros of the Southern Philippine islands. The Moros fought both the Spanish and the Americans as well as the modern Manila government.


Watch the video: No Holds Barred Original 1989 Theatrical Trailer HD REMASTER (January 2022).