Essay: Richard Holeton’s “March Madness, 1974”

/, Mixed Forms, Nonfiction, Personal Essay/Essay: Richard Holeton’s “March Madness, 1974”

March Madness, 1974
(From WIP Four Seasons: A Quartet of Found Texts)
Richard Holeton

“Demonstration” by Franz Wilhelm Seiwert

March 1 — Doomsday, and Counting

A grand jury in Washington, DC, has concluded that President Nixon was indeed involved in the Watergate break-in cover-up. Seven people, including former Nixon White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman, former Attorney General John Mitchell and former assistant Attorney General Robert Mardian, are being indicted on charges of conspiring to obstruct justice in connection with the Watergate break-in. In Season 1, Episode 6 of The Six Million Dollar Man, “Doomsday, and Counting,” when an earthquake threatens the stability of an underground Russian nuclear installation, Steve Austin must rescue the fiancé of his friend Col. Vasily Zhukov, who is buried beneath debris. Complicating matters further, Steve must also stop the reactor when it goes into a nuclear self-destruct countdown.

 

March 2 — Seasons in the Sun

At 9:40 a.m. in Barcelona, Spain, Catalan anarchist Salvador Puig Antich was garroted by the regime of dictator Francisco Franco. The garrote, a medieval torture and execution weapon perfected by the Spanish during the Inquisition and rarely used in modern times, is a crude chair to which the victim is bound while the executioner uses a crank to slowly tighten a metal band around the victim’s throat, crushing the neck and spinal cord and causing asphyxiation. “Seasons in the Sun,” by Canadian singer Terry Jacks, is the new Billboard No. 1 song. The original song by Belgian Jacques Brel, “Le Moribond” (The Dying Person), written in a whorehouse in Tangiers, was about an old man dying from heartbreak and bidding sardonic adieu to his adulterous wife and her lover. While the English translation by Rod McKuen sung by the Kingston Trio in 1963 largely retained the sarcasm, Terry Jacks changed the lyrics to make the song more uplifting and sentimental: “We had joy, we had fun/ We had seasons in the sun.”

March 3 — Steep Dive

In history’s worst air disaster to date, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 en route to London has crashed in a forest near Paris, killing all 346 on board. Shortly after takeoff from Orly airport, a cargo door detached from Turkish Airlines flight 182, causing an explosive decompression that severed control cables. Pilots lost control of the elevators, rudder, and No. 2 engine, and the plane entered a steep dive from which it could not recover. In a paper for Professor N’s Critical Analysis: Modernism class at the Stanford overseas campus in Tours, France, U contended that the year T.S. Eliot spent in Paris living in a Left Bank pension at 151 bis Rue Saint Jacques following his graduation from Harvard, along with his later meeting with James Joyce at the Hotel de l’Elysee and subsequent tête-à-têtes with Joyce in Paris, all strongly influenced not only The Waste Land (published in 1922, same year as Joyce’s Ulysses) but also Eliot’s chef-d’oeuvre, Four Quartets. U’s paper is called “From Uptight Sexual Prude to Master of Time and the Universe — Or, The Parisian-Joycean Connection in Eliot’s Four Quartets.”

March 4 — Sex Shops

The inaugural issue of People magazine has appeared with a price of 35 cents. Mia Farrow, starring in the movie The Great Gatsby, graces the cover, with stories inside on Gloria Vanderbilt, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Marina Oswald, wives of U.S. Vietnam veterans Missing in Action, and the Hearst family’s ordeal around last month’s kidnapping of Patty Hearst by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army. R, a student at the Stanford overseas campus in Tours, France, has missed his Social Change in Modern France: Feminism class with Professor E, having spent the weekend in Paris reading Tropic of Cancer and The Diary of Anais Nin and following Henry Miller’s and Nin’s trail from the Cemetery Montparnasse to the Cemetery Montmartre, from the Hotel Central and Café de la Mairie to the American Express office at 11 Rue Scribe, Café Wepler on Place de Clichy, and the sex shops around Place Pigalle.

March 5 — The Plan

In a journal entry R has observed that he “sat in [the Stanford-in-France] lounge, high on cheap Vouvray Sec & dark green Moroccan hashish, which U & I purchased during Christmas trip to Tangiers & Tetouan & which U (not I) carried through customs in & out of Franco’s Spain, wearing her nicest clothes to cross the borders, while I was hippie-searched, forced to unroll my drug-free sleeping bag & squeeze out my unadulterated toothpaste.” Cross-legged on the lounge carpet, R closed his eyes and swayed to Traffic’s “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys” while others danced around him. He felt transported and somehow transformed: “You just can’t escape from the sound/ Don’t worry too much, it’ll happen to you.” R and U have hatched a plan to drop out of school and move to Morocco, where they envision they can (a) live inexpensively close to Europe, (b) use their serviceable French, and (c) have easy access to some of the world’s best compressed cannabis.

March 6 — International Women’s Day, Part 1

At the Stanford campus in Palo Alto, California, feminist writer Kate Millett spoke to an overflow crowd in the opening session of an International Women’s Day fair, declaring: “To our generation falls the greatest responsibility for liberation. It may be easier in the future to be a woman, but I don’t think it’ll ever be as interesting as it is now. The freedom we seek is a freedom of the soul. But we are increasingly controlled, policed and lied to, and we face increasing abridgement and invasion of our privacy. We’re really seeing a protofascist society.”

March 7 — International Women’s Day, Part 2

The University of Georgia has set the national record with a mass streak of 1,543 men and women, wearing nothing but a smile, running three quarters of a mile on the Athens, GA, campus with 15,000 cheering fans lining the way. At Stanford University’s Memorial Auditorium, Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse told 1,500 students that “the goals of the women’s movement require changes of such enormity, in material as well as intellectual culture, that they can be obtained only by virtue of a change in the entire social system. Feminist socialism must embody the antithesis of the aggressive and repressive needs and values of capitalist society as a form of male-dominated culture. The liberation of women begins at home.” At the Stanford-in-France campus in Tours, France, R noted after finishing the first draft of his paper for Social Change in Modern France: Feminism that he told Prof. E he fears she may not like his paper very much, so he’d prefer to take the course Pass/No Credit instead of for a letter grade. R’s draft is titled, “Mailer, Millet, and Miller — Or, What is a Vagina?” In a letter to her parents, U, a 19-year-old sophomore, said that instead of returning to California that spring from Stanford-in-France, she was dropping out of college to move to Morocco with a boyfriend, R, whom she met at the overseas campus, and could they please send money.

March 8 — BARE-ASS

Charles de Gaulle Airport, also known as Roissy and formerly called Aéroport de Paris Nord (Paris North Airport), has opened 25 kilometers northeast of Paris after eight years of reconstruction. The Brady Bunch has been cancelled after five seasons on ABC. In Episode 7 of The Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin witnesses a murder and with his bionic eye gets a good look at the sniper. Golden Gate Bridge commuters were treated to a special surprise when a group of 45 Stanford students streaks alongside them during afternoon rush hour. The group from freshman dorm Branner Hall, who call themselves “Bay Area Runners Extraordinaire — Association of Stanford Streakers” (BARE-ASS), ran almost two-thirds of a mile across the famous span clad only in hats, shoes, and Stanford regalia.

March 9 — March Madness

The “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournament begins today with a new format of 25 Division 1 teams, all conference champions. The last Japanese soldier from World War II has surrendered in the Philippines, 29 years after the end of the war. On his 52nd birthday, intelligence officer Hiroo Onoda came out of hiding on Lubang Island in heavily worn and patched fatigues. His final orders had stated that he should not surrender under any circumstances. Initially with a few other holdouts, Lt. Onoda conducted guerilla activities for decades including sabotage of local farms and live-fire skirmishes with fishermen and police. He had ignored repeated leaflets, letters, and photos announcing the war’s end, judging them to be propaganda tricks. Befriended in February by an itinerant Japanese hippie named Suzuki, Onoda said he was awaiting orders from a superior officer. Suzuki went to the Japanese government, who located Onoda’s former commanding officer and sent him to Lubang where he officially ordered Lt. Onoda relieved from duty. When he finally surrendered, Onoda turned in his sword along with a cache of hand grenades and his still functional Arisaka rifle with 500 rounds of ammunition.

March 10 — Melted Candle

The police arrived at 2 a.m. to 5 Place Anatole France in Tours, a stone’s throw from the Loire River, in response to complaints about activities where 45 Stanford students were celebrating the impending end of two terms living and studying in France. Neighbors reported loud music and nude dancing on balconies. The police entered the foyer and told the Americans to close the windows and quiet down; they noted that Professors N and E, who accompanied the students to Tours from the home campus and live in adjacent apartments, had attended the party but retired earlier. Student U noted that “R & I arose at 7 hung over but still giddy from best party of the trip” to help a few others clean up before the Sunday custodial staff arrived and freaked out. They found clothing strewn about the floor, underwear and bras (“Was that one Prof. E’s?”) tossed over lamps and hung from picture frames, and classmates M and M curled asleep, drooling on opposite ends of a couch. They collected wine bottles, cigarette butts, cardboard roaches of Euro-style spliffs, a plant soaked with vomit. They found The Joker (Steve Miller Band) still spinning around the turntable, the vinyl LP limping like a flat tire from a lump of melted candle (still dimly lit) bumping the raised needle arm on each revolution.

March 11 — Eccentric Eruption

The second explosion this year has begun on Mount Etna in Sicily. The only eccentric eruption so far this century, it has produced a rare, nearly aphyric and plagioclase-free trachybasalt that could not be derived from the central volcano conduits and is more alkaline and more radiogenic than all previous historical lavas. The earlier eruption lasted from January 30 until February 16, building up a cone 70 meters above the former surface. Now, after 22 days of calm, a second crater has become active 200 meters west of the earlier cone, at 1650 meters elevation. This crater also shows strong explosive activity, and lava is flowing through an open breach in the western side of the growing cone, forming a field of overlapping lobes.

March 12 — Missing Woman

Serial killer Ted Bundy, sporadically attending law school at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, has begun assaulting and murdering young college women at the rate of about one per month. The Thurston County Sheriff’s Department has launched an intensive search for Donna Gail Manson, a 19-year-old Evergreen State College student last seen by her roommate and friends walking to a concert at 7 p.m. on the Olympia, WA, campus. Five feet tall with blue eyes and long brown hair, parted in the middle, she was wearing green slacks, a red, orange and green-striped top and a fuzzy, black maxi-coat when she disappeared. The first Wonder Woman film and TV series pilot has appeared on ABC starring ex-tennis pro Cathy Lee Crosby, wearing blue leggings and a red zip-up skirt, in pursuit of an arch-villain played by Ricardo Montalban.

March 13 — Sexual Politics

It can be hard to tell the real signals from the false ones. Amid the recession following the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, stocks have rallied in early 1974, sending the Dow up 13.1 percent from its low of 788.31 on December 5, 1973, to today’s high of 891.66. R’s paper for Social Change in Modern France: Feminism was turned in to Prof. E at Stanford-in-France with the modified title “Mailer, Miller, and Millett — Or, What is a Cunt?” and an introductory note: “The rhetorical question in the title is intended philosophically rather than anatomically or obscenely, as the paper wrestles seriously with competing interpretations of Henry Miller’s fiction, use of the C-word, and contending notions of male sexuality by Kate Millett in Sexual Politics vs. Norman Mailer in Genius and Lust, mostly siding in the end with Mailer.” Prof. E has glanced at the title and thanked R for taking the course Pass/No Credit.

March 14 — Embargo to End

The Arab oil ministers ended a one-day meeting in Tripoli, Libya, late yesterday, and a senior Libyan official said they had decided to lift the oil embargo against the United States. The ban has been in effect since the October Middle East war. The decision was not announced in Tripoli, however, because Libya has opposed the lifting of the embargo until now. The oil ministers adjourned their closed session and a Libyan official said the meeting would resume in Vienna, Austria, on Sunday, March 17.

March 15 — Ides of March

In Episode 8 of The Six Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin has been assigned to train America’s first female astronaut, Major Kelly Wood. On her maiden flight, a sudden explosion damages the Athena 1 and injures Kelly’s co-pilot Osterman. Austin heads the rescue team and follows her up to Skylab, only to find his bionic replacements malfunctioning in outer space. Oral Roberts University (ORU) basketball coach and athletic director Ken Trickey was arrested at 4:20 a.m. on Route 66 in West Tulsa for driving while intoxicated. ORU, founded in 1963 by evangelist Oral Roberts, had earlier defeated Louisville to advance to the Midwest Regional final and a chance to make the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament (“March Madness”). As athletic director, Trickey announced that he has suspended himself as basketball coach for breaking the school’s honor code by consuming alcohol. In Andrew Wyeth’s painting The Ides of March (1974), a golden-haired dog, eyes staring out at the viewer, lies tranquilly in front of a fireplace with coals simmering in an ominously large, dark hearth rigged with menacing metal hooks.

March 16 — I Love Oral Roberts

Athletic Director/suspended coach Trickey met with Oral Roberts University founder and president Oral Roberts himself, who agreed to give him a second chance following his DWI arrest, “because this is a Christian school,” so Trickey could coach in the regional final of college basketball’s March Madness tournament. “I love Oral Roberts,” Trickey said. Unfortunately, Trickey and ORU lost to Kansas 93-90 in overtime to miss appearing in the Final Four.

March 17 — One-Way Tickets

OPEC nations meeting in Vienna are reconsidering ending their oil embargo against the U.S., Europe, and Japan following President Nixon’s comments that any lifting of the embargo that was too conditional or provisional would be counterproductive for future Middle East peace efforts. As winter quarter Finals Week begins at Stanford-in-France in Tours, the students and professors have started packing for their return to the home campus for Spring Quarter, except for two students R and U, who said they found a travel agency on Rue Nationale and bought one-way tickets from Paris to Casablanca.

March 18 — Lucy Fights the System

After 23 years on CBS, the final episode of Lucille Ball’s Here’s Lucy has aired. This was Ball’s third popular sitcom after I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show. In Episode 144, “Lucy Fights the System,” Lucy stands up for a waitress named Mary who was fired for being middle aged. Lucy and daughter Kim scheme to prove that age and experience are an asset to the restaurant manager, who is suffering a midlife crisis.

March 19 — Jefferson Starship

Former Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa and actor Anthony Perkins will be featured guests on The Mike Douglas Show. Following the breakup of Jefferson Airplane earlier in the year, Jefferson Starship, including Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, David Freiberg, John Barbata, and Papa John Creach, has begun its first tour in Chicago.

March 20 — Big Sky

NBC newscaster Chet Huntley of the renowned Huntley-Brinkley Report (1956-1970) has died of lung cancer. Huntley was known for his authoritative, straightforward broadcast voice, his chemistry with Brinkley, and their trademark sign off, “Good night, David,” “Good night, Chet … and good night for NBC News!” In recent years Huntley attracted controversy among locals and environmentalists as developer of a large ski and golf resort in Montana called “Big Sky.”

March 21 — Normal Bowel Movements

In “Operant Conditioning of Rectosphincteric Responses in the Treatment of Fecal Incontinence,” Bernard T. Engel, Parviz Nikoomanesh, and Marvin M. Schuster report today in The New England Journal of Medicine that six patients with severe fecal incontinence and manometric evidence of external-sphincter impairment were taught to produce external-sphincter contraction in synchrony with internal-sphincter relaxation. These responses were induced by rectal distention. During follow-up, four of the patients remained completely continent, and the other two were definitely improved. One patient who was trained to relax her internal sphincter as well as to contract her external sphincter not only was continent but also regularly had normal bowel movements, which she had not had before. The technique was simple to learn, the findings highlight the importance of synchronized rectosphincteric responses in the maintenance of fecal continence, and they show that these responses can be brought under voluntary control. After reading Vladimir Nabokov on the toilet, U, like Nabokovian narrator V, has “welcomed the renewal of polished structures after a week of black fudge fouling the bowl slope so high that no amount of flushing could dislodge it” using the French style water closet at 5 Place Anatole France in Tours. U wondered, unfortunately too late for her Modernism term paper, if it would be productive to ask what kind of peristaltic pressure Nabokov applies to Joyce and Eliot, how Pale Fire puts the squeeze on Ulysses and Four Quartets.

March 22 — New Cease-Fire

The Viet Cong have proposed a six-point plan that includes detailed provisions for a new cease-fire and the holding of general elections in South Vietnam. American officials who read the plan said it was the most concrete put forward by the Viet Cong since the Paris cease-fire agreement last year. In Tours, the students at Stanford-in-France have received their final grades before parting ways, with hugs and tears and bon voyages, and posing for this group photo by the Loire. According to La Nouvelle République du Centre-Ouest, some locals expressed relief at the Americans’ departure. U was given an A+ (“Wow!”) from Prof. N for her paper on T.S. Eliot, and R received a P (Pass/merci!) from Prof. E for his paper on Henry Miller et. al.

March 23 — Timelessness of Pain and Suffering

“Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks has ended its three-week run atop the Billboard chart, making it one of the best selling singles of all time. The new No. 1 hit is “Dark Lady” by Cher. It’s the end of an era; North Carolina State has shocked UCLA in a semifinal March Madness game 80-77 in double overtime, UCLA’s first tournament loss since 1963. The NC State Wolfpack, starring David Thompson, defeated the Bill Walton-led Bruins and ended UCLA’s record 88-game winning streak. UCLA had won seven straight NCAA titles and nine of the previous ten championships under legendary coach John Wooden. The Bruins blew an 11-point lead in regulation and a 7-point lead in the second overtime. “That’s the timelessness of pain and suffering,” said Walton. “The agonizing, the reflection and the endless questioning of yourself. When you’re right there and it’s there for you and the whole world is watching, and it’s recorded as history that can never be changed, that is a terribly heavy burden.”

March 24 — Medieval Magic

Newly ex-Stanford student R and girlfriend/fellow dropout U have arrived in Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city and a kind of hybrid or patchwork metropolis, destroyed and rebuilt many times over many centuries, occupied or overrun by Berbers, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Portuguese, Spanish, French, even the Americans under General Patton in World War II. En route to the city from the airport, they passed through the extensive bidonvilles, cinder-block and sheet-metal shantytowns, of Casablanca’s suburbs. They expressed surprise at the gritty, Western feel of the sprawling new city, and disappointment at the small Medina or old city dating only from 18th century and lacking the authenticity and medieval magic of the Tangiers and Tetouan medinas they had visited in December. It seemed to them no wonder that expats Paul Bowles, Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Gertrude Stein, Tennessee Williams, etc. had chosen Tangiers instead of Casablanca, where even the urchins and street hustlers showed a sinister edge, cursing at R and U in English as the couple searched for a cheap pension or riad near the Medina.

March 25 — Lineup for CBS Evening News

  1. Introduction, Walter Cronkite (New York City)
  2. Stans, Mitchell Trial / Dean Testimony
  3. Grand Jury Report / House Judiciary Committee
  4. Special Prosecutor / White House / Subpoena Deadline
  5. Milk Producers / Campaign Contributions
  6. (Commercial: Bayer Timed-Release Aspirin; Haley’s M-O Laxative.)
  7. Kissinger / Moscow Meeting
  8. (Commercial; The Hartford Insurance Company; Omega Oldsmobile.)
  9. Hearst Kidnapping
  10. Boyle Trial / Yablonski Murders
  11. McDonnell Douglas / Washington, DC-10 Controversy
  12. Joint Economy Committee / President “Economy” Message
  13. Stock Market Report (Studio)
  14. (Commercial: Mr. Coffee Automatic Drip Coffeemaker; Master Charge.)
  15. Cypress Swamp Fires
  16. Suspect / Kronholm Kidnapping
  17. Mariner 10 / Mercury
  18. Analysis (US / Southeast Asia)
  19. Supreme Court Rulings
  20. Kennedy Jr. / Skiing / Amputated Leg
  21. (Commercial: Anacin; The Hartford Insurance Company.)
  22. Blacksmithing / Georgia / Bailey
  23. Good Night.

March 26 — Tree Huggers

A group of peasant women led by Gaura Devi in Reni village in the Garhwal Himalayas of northeast India have used their bodies to surround and cling to trees in order to prevent loggers from felling them. The act of defiance by illiterate tribal and village women has energized the Chipko movement, which aims to use forest resources judiciously for the benefit of local people, and is capturing the attention of the broader environmental movement. Thousands of trees near Reni are threatened. The Chipko (Hindi for “clinging”) women were inspired by the original tree huggers, 294 men and 69 women belonging to the Bishnois branch of Hinduism, who, in 1730, died while trying to protect the trees in their village from being turned into the raw material for building a palace.

March 27 — Mazagan

U has observed in a shaky journal entry that, as U and R took the CTM bus south from Casablanca to El Jadida, which the Moroccans still call Mazagan for the old Portuguese city and fortress, “spring already feels like summer as we swing inland on the A5, hugging our backpacks on sweaty laps, squeezed among turbaned old men, women in jalabas & hijabs with overflowing baskets of provisions & squawking chickens.”

March 28 — Lack of Evidence

In Romania the position of President of the Republic has been created especially for Nicolae Ceausescu, named President for Life by the Grand National Assembly. The naked, 6-foot-7, 270-pound, walrus-mustachioed comedy writer Pat McCormick streaked across the set of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, surprising Carson, sidekick Ed McMahon, and bandleader Doc Severinsen. NBC censors managed to black out the streaker from the waist down. McMahon chortled “Hoooooo…,” Severinsen made as if to remove his clothes, and Carson joked that McCormick was arrested but released for “lack of evidence.”

March 29 — Four Dead in Ohio

Concluding a week of co-hosting The Mike Douglas Show, Jonathan Winters and Douglas have featured special guest Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. In Episode 9 of The Six Million Dollar Man, Rudy Wells is kidnapped on a trip to his old study grounds. Luckily Steve Austin has some time off and follows Rudy unannounced to Austria. The trail soon leads to the wealthy Tucelli family, who want to force Dr. Wells to give up the secret of constructing a bionic man. In Ohio, eight National Guardsmen have been indicted on charges stemming from the shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. On their way back from a café to their pension in El Jadida, Morocco, after reading the current International Herald Tribune left by a traveler from Casablanca, R and U sang the chorus of “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming/ We’re finally on our own/ This summer I hear the drumming/ Four dead in Ohio/ Four dead in Ohio” over and over.

March 30 — Battle Formations

Farmers digging a well near Xi’an, China, have discovered the long lost Terracotta Army, thousands of terracotta warriors, horses, and chariots buried in giant pits flanking the tomb of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BCE). The life-size sculptures, arranged in battle formations as if to protect Emperor Qin’s mausoleum and necropolis complex, have largely identical body parts that, according to experts, may have been created from molds using an early version of modular assembly-line methods. However, the warriors vary in height and uniform according to rank, and they all appear to have unique facial features individually handcrafted from clay.

March 31 — Heading South

After a few days in El Jadida enjoying cool Atlantic breezes, walking the ochre ramparts of Mazagan Fortress, and checking out several petite maisons and shabby rental apartments, U and R have decided this is not where they will settle in Morocco. They packed up and headed south to explore the towns of the Mother-of-Pearl coast, full of hope.

 

 

 

About the writer:
Richard Holeton is author of the hypertext novel _Figurski at Findhorn on Acid_, other electronic literature, and fiction or hybrid work in many journals including Indiana Review, Mississippi Review, ZYZZYVA, Black Ice, and Vassar Review. His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell Colony, Brown Foundation, and California Arts Council.

Image: “Demonstration” by Franz Wilhelm Seiwert  (1894–1933). Oil on canvas. 68 × 89 cm (26.7 × 35 in). 1925. Public domain.

By | 2018-04-26T17:48:34+00:00 April 26th, 2018|LITERARY ARTS, Mixed Forms, Nonfiction, Personal Essay|