My Impromptus today begins with those characters you see above: Richard Nixon and his vice president, Spiro T. Agnew. Nixon’s first vice president, I should say. We wound up with Ford, a nice winding up.
Can I tell you something kind of interesting about Nixon’s ’68 choice? Agnew had been governor (of Maryland) for only a year and a half. The same would be true of Sarah Palin, in ’08.
Gerald R. Ford was a seasoned fellow, who had served in Congress since 1949 and was House minority leader.
Anyway, I continue my column with “Karens.” Do you know that the name “Karen” has been appropriated as an epithet? I have known many wonderful girls and women named “Karen” in my life. I object to this appropriation and abuse of their name.
(Yeah, I know: Tell it to the Dicks.)
I take up the subject of masks — recalling a book that was a huge bestseller when I was in high school: Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche. Is that true of masks? Do real men not wear masks?
I also have an item on social-media initials, or texting initials: “idk” for “I don’t know”; “jk” for “Just kidding”; etc. I received a note this morning from a reader, who says that he hates those initials: “I always pretend I don’t know what they mean as a disincentive to my daughter.”
Finally, I write about college basketball in the 1940s and the NBA in the 1950s. Some interesting stories and personalities.
Let me go back to Agnew for a minute. A few years ago, a reader sent me an LP, still wrapped. It had sold for 39 cents, according to the sticker on the cover. The album is called “Spiro T. Agnew: The Speeches that Stirred America.” It was published sometime during Nixon’s first term.
Is “published” the right word, for an LP? Anyway, the record was made by Podium Records, located at 43 W. 61st St. in Manhattan, not far from where I am sitting right now.
The back cover calls Agnew “America’s Most Outspoken Political Personality.” There is also a bio of him, which ends,
Mr. Agnew, 6’2”, under 200 lbs. and a natty dresser, enjoys playing golf, ping-pong, and the piano.
When he has time, he likes watching the Baltimore Colts on television, and listening to standards and show tunes, especially when performed by Lawrence Welk and Mantovani.
The front cover lists the topics that Agnew addresses in these speeches: “Vietnam,” “Student Unrest,” “The Economy,” “The ‘Silent Majority,’” “Cambodia,” “School Bussing” (I would have said ‘Busing,” reserving “bussing” for kissing), “The Media,” “Pornography,” “Integration,” and “Campus Disorders” (apparently different from “Student Unrest”).
The back cover has a little glossary, listing “Famous Agnew Alliterations, Catch-phrases and Definitions.” All in all, this is an amazing political and oratorical artifact.
Wanna see a picture?