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Discussing the book "Left at the post"

BROADCAST: Dec. 18, 1970 | DURATION: 00:53:53

Transcript

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Studs Terkel Nicholas Von Hoffman is the truest iconoclast since H.L Mencken. He tilts at the most cherished beliefs in more traditional institutions more effectively anyone since the bad boy of Baltimore. The columns that follow first appeared in "The Washington Post." They're not for everyone. Not for those who feel that all is right with the world. Not for those whose cows are sacred and surely not for those who feel the violent contradictions of our time, who fear the violent contradictions of our time. Rather they're for those who agree with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, that it is required of a man he should share the passion the action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived. And that's Benjamin Bradlee who is the editor of "The Washington Post" where Nick Von Hoffmann writes a three times a week column and is the journalist you might say most discussed, pro and con, out east and for, and for those fortunate ones who can read him regularly. Chicago, on occasion, [laughing in background] and the new book Nick, we know, as you know is a Chicago alumnus, been on this program before and the new anthology, collection of his columns called "Left at the Post: Passions, Prejudices, and Laments of One of America's Most Generously Biased Writers," which leads to your first, the theme, the credo, Nick, of personal journalism. You know we're told that it should be objective journalism, a journalist's objective.

Nicholas Von Hoffman There is no such thing. Does that sounds sepulchral? [Studs laughing] There is no such thing [laughing] from the bottom of the well.

Studs Terkel Objective journalists, you analyze, what you mean by an objective journal-- you say it's impossible.

Nicholas Von Hoffman It's absolutely impossible. I can't remember what I said in that book but--

Studs Terkel There was something about the, the, the idea if I remember-- well, let's, let's get Chicago--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Less memorable phrases.

Studs Terkel There was the idea of personal journalism in contrast to someone who is objective and you say who chooses who the who. You know the who, when, where, how we're told that.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well that's, that's the problem with journalism. That all journalism is subjective because all journalism is based on [unintelligible] of activity and that's even true when you are televising something live from the scene because the camera sits in one place and not another. And then of course as, as, as that image and that sound is, is treated and processed by all the ways that it is, including what happens inside people's brains, it becomes you want to say less and less objective.

Studs Terkel Using, using a minor event, say the the reaching the moon which is really humanly a minor event--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right.

Studs Terkel And you say the astronauts, or the [center] someone editorialized, you point out those incredible [unintelligible] of engineers and whatever technicians involved here.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right. And you, you-- But we, we played that story a certain way because we wanted, we wanted to teach a certain kind of social message and what we wanted to do was we dramatized the astronauts rather than the engineers or the other people who really made the flight possible because we wanted to have a certain kind of hero and, well the best way to put it is 52 percent of all astronauts are former Boy Scouts and we're pushing that, you know, and you'll find if you buy a package of Wheaties, you open it up and there's an astronaut inside.

Studs Terkel And this is pointed out as objective journalism--

Nicholas Von Hoffman With a flag on its lapel.

Studs Terkel And planting one on the moon.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right.

Studs Terkel Now, you are then considered a controversial journalist. You are not objective because you take, you have a point of view. They don't have a point of view. Presumably.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Oh, they have a point of view, the point of view is disguised. You can't see it. I mean it's not labeled, but there's always a point of view. It is impossible to observe anything without a point of view. You've got to stand somewhere even if it is on a space platform looking down at the planet.

Studs Terkel So when someone says he has no point of view, [there? that?] is a point of view in favor of things as they are.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yes. But that's of course what we call objective journalism is in fact the biases of the status quo disguised.

Studs Terkel One of the clearest examples of--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Wasn't that a nice [unintelligible] [laughing]

Studs Terkel Of Nicholas Von Hoffman's journalism. Nonobjective is pointing out what objective journalism is. On page 70, that's one of your columns dealing with reports of the Vietnamese War and how, this applies by the way to the media attacked by Agnew, you know, and the reports say it's a Brinkley show or a Cronkite show, and it's casually reported that so many Communists were killed by us, by American soldiers. And Nicholas Von Hoffman, perhaps you can comment on this and here's from Von Hoffman's column. "The difficulty arises in our naming of ourselves. If they are Communists then we should call ourselves capitalists or whites, the naturally opposite terms, like cowboys and Indians or Israelis and Arabs. Using the ordinary rules for objective journalism or common sense, it follows that if you can denominate one side in a war by its political economic structure you do the same with the other." Ah, but see what happens, quoting Von Hoffman, if we do. And he quotes, "Communist martyrs attacked Saigon tonight inflicting light damage in several parts of the city. At dawn the capitalists counterattack with battalion-sized infantry sweeps through the rubber plantations" end quote. And that would be objective journalism in the sense that is [in practice].

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well it would be, yeah, I don't think it would be objective journalism but it would be fair journalism. You know I think that's the difference that, that-- and you, you, you're the, you know what you were doing would become much clearer to the reader.

Studs Terkel What happened, Nick, you know when you, when you write this way.

Nicholas Von Hoffman And, and may I say that you know good newspapers and what have you like "The Washington Post," if I can get in a plug, [chuckles] don't use expressions like the Communists or the Reds.

Studs Terkel What do they say?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Though they say the North Vietnamese or the Progressive Revolutionary Labor Common Front or whatever that thing is. I can never remember it, but--

Studs Terkel You use the phrase since we use American forces you use that force, the North Vietnamese.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah, right, yeah.

Studs Terkel So this, this comes to the question is who chooses, we come back to the question of ritual, don't we. The acceptance of something as, as so. And if you accept it is so you're considered objective when it turns out the rest of the world considers it quite biased journalism.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yes right. Absolutely. But this is-- you know one of the functions of the mass media is simply social reinforcement. And, and, and playing the objective journalism game is a kind of apparently scientific, scientific-seeming backup for, for this and for this kind of reinforcement.

Studs Terkel What happens with your column since it's now a couple of-- how many years is it you've done this column in Washington?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Two hard years.

Studs Terkel It's two hard years, three times a week. And I remember being there in New York. Nick is just about the most discussed of all and I guess you rouse them. So the letters, it's because the unexpect-- they, they expect the usual, which is a bland kind of journalism.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah. Well that's, that's our problem.

Studs Terkel And something unexpected happened you do it as a result. There's some sort of response, isn't there?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right. Until you know, until you've got-- Well until we come to the era really of the underground newspaper and the "Ramparts" and some things like that we, we went through a long period, you know, the Eisenhower Kennedy mush period where the, you know, the media simply became, you know, oatmeal and all of the, the, or not all but, you know, a lot of the, the sort of passion and, and inquiry that was once part of, you know, American mass media just bled out of it. And you, you had this long period of Eisenhower Kennedy mush unity togetherness kind of thing, so that people have become habituated to a, you know, a very, very bland product, and so they were surprised. Unless of course they're reading the underground papers or something like that to, you know, see my goodness something strongly expressed.

Studs Terkel Of course you're also facing a certain challenge that newspapers have to face now too, don't they? The newspapers themselves. [I mean,] there are other media now. There is TV--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right.

Studs Terkel There are underground papers.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well of course TV really for the newspapers should be a great opportunity. It should be a great liberating factor. And I think, you know, in some, some places this has been grasped. It, it also is something that should whet readers' appetites. But of course that means that editors and reporters and what have you have to understand television well enough to see what, you know, a daily print medium's function is in relation to, to, to television. And unfortunately not enough people in the newspaper business do. I mean they just--

Studs Terkel And I'm thinking you know, Nick, Nick also asked the paper and he challenges the papers, you know. What is it the readers want [match striking] even to think like the food section. Is it a vapid, as you put it, a vapid food section, or to find out particularly in the, in the day of Nader, you know.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right.

Studs Terkel Is the food poison?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Is the food poison? Is it, listen, are those, can anybody eat those recipes? Something that somebody should do some time is call up the 30 largest American newspapers and get their food sections and find out how many of them have test kitchens. How many, how many newspapers have somebody there who eats that glop before they put the recipe in the paper.

Studs Terkel And it's never been questioned.

Nicholas Von Hoffman And you will find very few.

Studs Terkel There's never been question [then].

Nicholas Von Hoffman I mean you can refer, you know, okay so the tuna fish is poisoned and it's full of mercury, but even so, you know, you pick up the paper and there's a recipe for, you know, a sample dinner-- tuna fish mercury casserole peanut butter soup. And, and in many instances you'll find nobody at the paper's ever cooked this stuff up and tasted it. And it's, you know, it's fraudulent.

Studs Terkel So again there's also the right, the ritual of accepting something that's been done for, for years [unintelligible].

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well yeah. And also, let's face it, we, we're, we're, we're hopefully in an era where we have to improve our quality. There was a time when it was enough simply to take the, the recipes from the food manufacturers and print them. And it, it probably was a service because at least, I suppose, perhaps we, we had a lot of ladies reading the paper who didn't have any recipes, although that strikes me as sort of weird now that I've said it, but okay. But you know, the quality of newspapers has to improve or they're going to go out of business and a lot of them ought to go out of business.

Studs Terkel Your beat, your beat is, is a broad one. Cultural affairs journalist.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah, whatever that means. Yeah, but--

Studs Terkel No, you can do anything.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right. Yeah, yeah.

Studs Terkel Anything. So, and of--

Nicholas Von Hoffman We do sports--

Studs Terkel It's sports or often it's a question of the poor.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Movies. Yeah.

Studs Terkel Here's an example of Nick's writing, one of the columns [in left in] the Post published by Quadrangle, by the way. It's very exciting reading

Nicholas Von Hoffman Buy it.

Studs Terkel "When you've seen one you've seen them all, these welfare ladies fat from too much starch and too little protein. Always out of breath, climbing the stairs by getting one foot up on the next step and then pushing down on the knee." And of course the imagery, you see it. Yes, you do see this, and then you describe this woman coming to the welfare office. "And since the assassination of Aunt Jemima in the late 1950s, fat black women have had that only one moment of national acceptance that came with Fannie Lou Hamer on television for the Democratic, the Democrats in sixty-four saying I'm so tired of being tired. But quickly the country got tired of her being tired of being tired. The black women never have anything new, interesting to say. Always the same. They're poor. No rent money. Nothing but children. It's finally infuriating, the uncooperative stubbornness of a bedridden relative who refuses to die and save the family aggravation of medical bills." Of course the irony. At the same time the, the passion of nature is here. This of course is one of the themes you, you continuously hit, don't you?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yes. [laughing]

Studs Terkel Now come on. Come on. [chuckles]

Nicholas Von Hoffman Studs, that was one of those paralyzing questions. [laughing.

Studs Terkel I'm talking about the, the throughout you had, you have a, a number of columns dealing with the poor--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah.

Studs Terkel And the attitude toward them. You do sense this too, tired of her being tired.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah.

Studs Terkel You, you sense this retrogression. That was an attempt at first, is that it? Or seeming attempt?

Nicholas Von Hoffman I wish I could remember that column more clearly here.

Studs Terkel I don't mean this one particularly, I mean the whole idea of the attitude of the poor.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well yeah, I mean you know it's, it's, it goes on and on and on and on and I suppose, you know, like everybody else you know one becomes infuriated that there should be all of these poor people in all of this big fat wealthy country, you know, and there's no reason for it. There just isn't any reason for it. And you have to, particularly now of course, now that, you know, Nixon and that horrible [arrow shirt?] man Rumsfeld, you know, now that this, I mean, he you know that this whole sort of despicable clean cut execution of the poverty program. You know you've got keep going back to this because they really are going to sock it to the poor.

Studs Terkel But they have a man of God with them. That's the column that fo follows.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Oh yes, yes. We always pray--

Studs Terkel Now by the way, it, in working out these problems--

Nicholas Von Hoffman In Washington. Yeah.

Studs Terkel You always pray in Washington?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Oh, we pray in Washington all the time. We love to pray.

Studs Terkel You describe it as fat city.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Fat city, right. In fat city we thank God for our fat.

Studs Terkel And there's Billy Graham.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah.

Studs Terkel And you describ-- did you visit, did you see the, you went to Madison Square Garden during the Crusade?

Nicholas Von Hoffman No, I watched it on television.

Studs Terkel You watched it on TV.

Nicholas Von Hoffman I, I should pay to go?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Some men describing, describing the evangelists of other times and evangelists of our day. "The face of the famous evangelist," this is Billy. "Ages without wrinkling." Would you like to read this? Would you read that?

Nicholas Von Hoffman All right, I can't read my stuff but I'll try, I'll try.

Studs Terkel This is, this is good description of, of [unintelligible]--

Nicholas Von Hoffman All right, we'll see whether my punctuation's any good. "Some men g--" oh, oh, where, all right. "The face of the famous evangelist ages without wrinkling. Instead of the skin showing the marks of time the flesh beneath it has begun to puff and bulge. Some men get that way by gradually turning into superannuated babies, but the process isn't that far advanced with Billy. He is still recognizably God's curl- pretty, curly-haired boy."

Studs Terkel But there's--

Nicholas Von Hoffman He is.

Studs Terkel Something else involved here later about Billy talking about--

Nicholas Von Hoffman He endorses golf clubs too.

Studs Terkel You know, I didn't realize the manner in which he speaks of the poor. He says we must take care of the poor, but he goes on to point out that some people who are too much involved with the poor. He says, you know Judas had a great burden for the poor when Mary Magdalene-- I think you should read that. That's quite revealing.

Nicholas Von Hoffman All right, now we're quoting old Billy here, aren't we?

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Nicholas Von Hoffman "You know Judas had a great burden for the poor. When Mary Magdalene anointed the feet of Jesus with an expensive ointment, Judas was angry and said 'Lord, why didn't we take this money and give it to the poor?' Judas wasn't concerned about the poor because he was a thief. He wanted it for himself. Many people carry a heavy load for poverty because they want votes and others want to get involved in the problems so they can get their hand in the till. But that should never do away with our responsibility for the legitimate poor." Close quote. I want that clearly understood that's Billy Graham talking, not me. The legitimate, that's the, the decent poor, the respectable poor. But Billy. Billy Graham's God drives a car that has one of those 'I fight poverty, I work' bumper stickers.

Studs Terkel There's a comment you point something out though. The next two paragraphs I think they're rather interesting.

Nicholas Von Hoffman I do, do I?

Studs Terkel Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Let's see what I say here. "What that responsibility is Billy never say, says, even when he has a perfect opportunity to give some concrete advice. Quotes. 'There's dignity to working with your hands. There's a dignity to cleaning the street. There's dignity to carrying the garbage. Don't be ashamed of that. If you're a Christian you can throw your shoulders back and say yes, sir I'm a garbage collector, and I'm proud of it.' Close quotes. But Billy Graham wasn't in Memphis when Martin Luther King marched and died to help those garbage collectors gain the Christian dignity that Billy Graham says is rightfully theirs. Moreover nobody who would take Billy Graham at his word would ever lift a hand to help anybody."

Studs Terkel And as you, this is--

Nicholas Von Hoffman But a putter.

Studs Terkel Yeah. This is part of, but a putter. This is part of Nick's column. And I thought just in conjunction with this, the voice of the poor. This is Peggy Terry. Lives in Chicago and she's commenting about herself and the church, and the church in the sense Grahamesque.

Peggy Terry [Beginning of interview excerpt] And today I just don't trust any churches. I haven't been for years. I haven--, I haven't been in a church, oh, I don't even remember the last time I went. Because I just don't trust him anymore. And the only preachers I've got any use for at all is one that will go on a picket line with me if necessary. And not only with me but with people in my circumstances like welfare recipients and poor people. And if they're sitting up in those fancy churches preaching, I said they're not doing us any good.

Studs Terkel Last we left you, you were in Texas and the Mexicans, they-- [End of Peggy Terry interview excerpt] And so she goes on further. It seems to me as though she's just providing the postscript for your column.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah. She is.

Studs Terkel Now, there we have it, don't we? Billy Graham and Peggy Terry.

Nicholas Von Hoffman We ought to invite her to the next Bob Hope golf classic. She can make a foursome. Bob Hope, Spyro Agnew, Richard Nixon.

Studs Terkel Peggy Terry.

Nicholas Von Hoffman And Peggy Terry.

Studs Terkel Well do you think that--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Shooting par.

Studs Terkel This is what you do, Nick. This is what you do, don't you? You cover all the, all the aspects.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right.

Studs Terkel So then here, here's the polarization that people talk about to you. You put it down.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well, I-- of course what they want to do now is they're burying in the South Pole there. Peggy Terry is going under.

Studs Terkel Do you have complaints?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Many.

Studs Terkel Yeah. What happened--

Nicholas Von Hoffman About everything.

Studs Terkel What are the responses? Because, see, your column obviously is one that doesn't, doesn't regard any of the cows as sacred. So what is the nature of the response, both ways?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well, it's, it's often an outrage but I feel that I'm performing some kind of service and helping people, you know, get in a kind of tonic condition for eating their breakfasts in Washington. You know, it's extremely good to have your orange juice with a little drop of anger [Studs laughing] in it, you know. What did that Bolshevik say today?

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] as the columns are arranged in this book "Left at the Post," just as Peggy was saying that she hasn't gone to church you're pointing out that less and less parishioners--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah.

Studs Terkel Just as a certain young ministers or clergyman who go underground.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah, yeah. No, it's over. That's, that whole thing is over. I mean it's dying out.

Studs Terkel You feel that.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah, yeah. The church is the Republican Party of Prayer. Increasingly.

Studs Terkel Do you think that more and more in your observations in traveling around, do you, do you sense this more, that more people feel it or is rituals still strong?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Oh, we're always going to have ritual, and you know. But you know it's, it's dying out. Post Christian era.

Studs Terkel There's something else you talk about, the use of words and the idea of, of how obscenity offends people. Profanity [unintelligible] people and yet that's the only way for dialogue because the institutions of politicians co-opt the phrases.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right. Yeah. That's, that's the wonderful thing about all those words I'm not about to say on this radio program.

Studs Terkel Because they can't be used in ads, can they?

Nicholas Von Hoffman They can't be used in ads, you know. The Chrysler Corporation can cop the revolution but they can't cop up [unintelligible] bleep.

Studs Terkel No, but they can say right on.

Nicholas Von Hoffman They can say right on.

Studs Terkel Or tell it like it is.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Tell it like it is.

Studs Terkel Isn't it amazing how the phrases have been used, the phrases used by the dissenters, by the rebels, partic- by young blacks in many cases. The language.

Nicholas Von Hoffman That's right.

Studs Terkel You point this out too in some of your columns the language.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well, it's, it's got vigor, it's got force, it has, you know, I mean it's, it's fresh before the advertising copywriters get ahold of it, and the politicians get a hold of it, and pretty soon you've got Ni- Nixon going around making donkey ears with his fingers, you know. But so they grab it but the one thing they can't grab is the dirty words.

Studs Terkel So therefore that allows for a dialogue.

Nicholas Von Hoffman That's right. It, it, [unintelligible] because the, the, you know, one of the great constant problems that we have in communication in America is the guy who you, whose guts you hate and whom you totally disagree with leaning across the table and saying either, one, we have a communications problem, or two, which is even worse, I understand you. You know we just get smothered in all of this stuff. And so you can, the, the one way you know that you can kind of say all right you can't follow me here is to let them have it with every dirty word you can think of.

Studs Terkel Here then it serves the purpose of debate at least.

Nicholas Von Hoffman That's right.

Studs Terkel Because I remember one moment. I've never forgotten it. Dirksen was still alive, and it was an anti- I think it was something quite anti- [unintelligible] black, but more than that. He was anti-campus dissent, and he was quite rotund and he said let us tell it like it is.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah.

Studs Terkel And suddenly there it was.

Nicholas Von Hoffman There it was.

Studs Terkel He took the very word to use in the, in the opposite manner.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right.

Studs Terkel But he could not take the four letter word and use it.

Nicholas Von Hoffman No, he can't do that. You know, he can get to up against the wall but that's where he's got to stop.

Studs Terkel You know one of the, one of the columns of Nichols Von Hoffman that did appear in Chicago. Now and occasionally Nick's column appears in the Chicago Sun-Times, would it were more often, but there was one just before the big Washington demonstration and you were answering some of the other columnists who were pointing out, you know, how these demonstrations, people take all the trouble caused, and you, I call it the anti-demonstration rationale, your column. Do you know the one I'm referring to?

Nicholas Von Hoffman No. [laughing]

Studs Terkel [laughing] You're a big help, aren't you? It's on page forty here.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Listen, I wrote these things a long time ago.

Studs Terkel On page forty. The big demonstration. This is Nick. Re- I'll read--

Nicholas Von Hoffman You're, you're lucky--

Studs Terkel A few--

Nicholas Von Hoffman I don't remember.

Studs Terkel I'll read a few sentences.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Otherwise I'd go around quoting myself more than I do.

Studs Terkel I'll read a few sentences and then that'll revive Von Hoffmann's memory. "Whenever a big demonstration is shaping up into a fist getting ready to hit, public wise men come forward with advice for the protesters. Whatever the cause of the occasion, the advice and politicians [editorialists?] is always the same. If you do this you only hurt your own cause. You produce a backfire, a backlash, backroar, etc." And then Von Hoffman goes on. "It wouldn't be surprising to learn that the driver of the bus which Rosa Parks integrated in Montgomery so many years ago had attempted to get her back in the segregated [unintelligible] by explaining that you're only hurting your own people by carrying on so. All his public life the Reverend Martin Luther King was warned if he sat in, picketed, marched, tried to register to vote, he ran the risk of setting back the black man. Who usually gives this advice?" And so it goes. Now this still, and the technique is still used, isn't it?

Nicholas Von Hoffman It's called playing the other fellow's hand.

Studs Terkel Still used though.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah, yeah. And but that's part of the same kind of thing, you know. I mean, not only am I going to play my cards, I'm going to play your cards. And that blocks communication.

Studs Terkel So we come again to the whole theme of your calling the shot and--

Nicholas Von Hoffman And you know part of communication, of course, is disagreeing. You know, where you look at the other fellow flinty-eyed and there's no communication problem at all. You both understand each other perfectly, and you don't agree.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Nicholas Von Hoffman That is also communication.

Studs Terkel That's also what an open society we trust is about too. Yeah. And then of course with My Lai in the news, and we come to your, your, you, you, you speak of the antecedents to My Lai, and so it's part of you think of the Indians and of certain people.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yes, yeah.

Studs Terkel I think it was Sheridan, you know, you know, one of our Civil War heroes [unintelligible] during one of the massacres of the Indians, you got to kill the babies too because nits become flies.

Nicholas Von Hoffman That's right, yeah. We, we have a long history of this kind of activity. Which, hope we come to the end of.

Studs Terkel Yeah. You've covered the conspiracy trial in Chicago.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yes.

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] number of--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Almost brought back vaudeville. [laughing]

Studs Terkel [laughing] I, I think this should be read if only, only for his description of Justice's behavior here in the federal building of Chicago by Von Hoffman. Quite remarkable. And there's something else again. When George Wald, Nobel laureate, made his celebrated speech he was, he was, he was attacking again a revered Southern Senator Russell. The world is up for grabs. We hope there's an Adam and Eve and we're [unintelligible] be Americans.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right. Yes. Yes. That's a message of hope, brought to you at this holiday season. [Von Hoffman and Terkel laughing]

Studs Terkel Nick, what do you see--

Nicholas Von Hoffman May the next baby Jesus be an American with a flag pinned on his diaper.

Studs Terkel And that's when George Wald spoke of it as criminally insane, that sort of comment.

Nicholas Von Hoffman That's when the whole history of the world recycles after the bomb goes off. [laughing]

Studs Terkel You were one of the first male journalists to dig-- at least women's liberation spokesmen tell me this-- to, to, to do columns that make sense.

Nicholas Von Hoffman That's because of my mother, whom you know Studs, and whom you took out and got drunk.

Studs Terkel Yes. Dr. Anna [Brunn], her name is. I should point out that Nick's mother is perhaps a, a pre-women's lib feminist. Quite remarkable. So in a way this is part of your own, except that you had to go through a certain--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Now, I'm going to seize this program--

Studs Terkel Yes, sir--

Nicholas Von Hoffman At this point and--

Studs Terkel You are.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Does, does do your listeners know how you write these books?

Studs Terkel Why, why [unintelligible]--

Nicholas Von Hoffman What kind of justification do you have for this? I, let me tell you, out there in radio land, what really happens is the doorbell rings and Studs turns up with a tape recorder and a bottle of hooch [laughing] and he comes in merry and jolly and, and starts pouring the hooch. And after he's got you just blind raging drunk where you'll say anything and you're, [Terkel laughing] you're going on some fantastic thing, not a word of which is true, he quietly switches on the tape recorder. Gone!

Studs Terkel Or not.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Now how do you defend yourself?

Studs Terkel I did, I did bring, I did bring good booze.

Nicholas Von Hoffman It was very good booze.

Studs Terkel By the way I think this is a tale out of school. Nick is describing a certain sequence in a book called Hard Times that I found not only hilarious but very revealing. And it was, by the way, [unintelligible]--

Nicholas Von Hoffman In vino veritas.

Studs Terkel In vino veritas it was. It was a quite revealing sequence. Toward the latter part of the book a journalist at three o'clock in the morning--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Drunk.

Studs Terkel And, and, drunk but, drunk but true.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Drunk but true.

Studs Terkel That, well in a way that, yeah, that helps loosen-- [Von Hoffman laughing]

Nicholas Von Hoffman What other techniques do you use in, in compiling your--

Studs Terkel Well sometimes the tape machine goes on the blink. See, if you are mechanical-minded, I don't know if you were or not, if you are then it goes on the blink and I [unintelligible] if this guy [seems] mechanical-minded he helped me fix it, you see.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah that's another one of your gimmicks.

Studs Terkel And in doing that and he, he, he, he sort of helps me in many ways, particularly fixing the mic and then he also, he feels pretty good about himself.

Nicholas Von Hoffman You cultivate, don't you, an air of inefficiency and ineptitude.

Studs Terkel No I am. I don't have to cultivate it. I am inept and inefficient.

Nicholas Von Hoffman No, you're very good at it. As a matter of fact I suspect you have a whole kit of jeweler's tools and that you can fix [Terkel and Von Hoffman laughing] anything, you know, if you wanted to.

Studs Terkel Now that, of course--

Nicholas Von Hoffman But you like to do that. You, you, you, you-- don't you-- isn't-- You, you try and you come in and you, you try and give people the impression that I'm absolutely harmless, right? You know, that's sort of the way you're saying.

Studs Terkel Not so much--

Nicholas Von Hoffman You scurry around--

Studs Terkel Well not harmless--

Nicholas Von Hoffman You pour the whiskey.

Studs Terkel Inept, inept.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Inept. Yeah right.

Studs Terkel Yeah. Yeah, that's true.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah.

Studs Terkel That's true.

Nicholas Von Hoffman And you know, you, you, you, you, you do this thing of, look, you can tell me anything, you know. It's, it's perfectly all right. I, you know that's how you get it, isn't it?

Studs Terkel No, not quite but almost.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Is that, is that come from your legal training?

Studs Terkel No, God. [Von Hoffman laughing] [There's a] Freudian block. I would say that the average five year old kid knows more about law than I do. Yeah.

Nicholas Von Hoffman It's time to reveal the secret to the radio listeners. Studs Terkel is a member of the Illinois bar.

Studs Terkel Yeah, but you haven't told them the full story. [Von Hoffman laughing] I flunked the first bar, see, I flunked the first bar because the first bar--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Always trying to get out of it, aren't you?

Studs Terkel No, the first bar had yes or no answers and I didn't know. I didn't take something called a quiz course a [unintelligible] and I hadn't the vaguest idea what-- The second examination, 98 percent, by the way, pass the first bar. [I was of the] two percent that flunked. The second exam were question, essay questions. And so I could answer yes but on the other hand not knowing what the law was all about I passed that. And a minority pass that because-- I still haven't the vaguest idea what they were-- but you're able to when you say yes, but on the other hand then I can out-Nixon Nixon, you see. [Von Hoffman laughing] And so I was able to pass the bar in that case. But the truth is, since you're seeking truth, I know less about law than let's say an average 5 year old because [a block] was set up.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Did you ever practice law?

Studs Terkel No sir.

Nicholas Von Hoffman You never? Not a day? Well what did you do? You walked out of that place and here you were--

Studs Terkel I walked out into--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Commissioned as a lawyer--

Studs Terkel No, I walked out into a job. The New Deal had begun. Into a job-- statistics. It was federal employment rehabilitation [administrate]. My boss was Phil Hauser.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Oh no.

Studs Terkel And it was a question of determining unemployment in various cities, and my city was Omaha and there were-- I was a table. There were six girls and I was supervisor of this table. I got 85 a month. They got 60 and Omaha-- it was the year '36 or '35-- Omaha was a horse running in the Kentucky Derby. And I said, what a great hunch to play Omaha. And the girls all gave me a half a buck apiece to play on Saturday. And my conscience bothers me. Because they're getting the 60 or so a month, a half a dollar. Here I got them, you know, simply gambling losing half a buck, a lot of money.

Nicholas Von Hoffman You didn't bet--

Studs Terkel Here's what happened. I had the six half dollars in my pocket, three bucks in my pocket Saturday. So I go to the movie house to see George Raft and Carole Lombard in "Bolero." And I said I'll bet the money later, I said I shouldn't my, my conscience bothers me. I come out headlined: Omaha Wins Derby, about eight to one odds. So I had to gather about 12 or 15 bucks that weekend [Von Hoffman laughing] and on Monday I paid the girls. So I'm the only guy to pick the winner and lost. So there, if you must know the truth, there it is. That's true.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Why didn't you put that in the book?

Studs Terkel But there's another aspect, back to Nicholas Von Hoffman. Back to the ranch. You have, you study something else. How poor a treat, how people are. The case of Doris Anderson column. This is a woman, you describe her as a mousy woman. She's a welfare person but very gentle and sweet. And she's given the run around. First one caseworker, then another caseworker, and then finally someone says we're not interested in you and she says, well I want to see my caseworker and a guard suddenly [unintelligible] the cops arrest her and then she's put into a booby hatch.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right, she's put in a booby hatch. Well we, this is a very serious problem. We're beginning to ape the Russians on this, you know. We're, we're, and of course this is the liberals, you know. They love to do this kind of thing, which is that we're having fewer and fewer criminals and we have more and more crazy people. You know, so and it's much better, it's neater, and you avoid the expense of a trial, and all of that kind of thing, you know, you just convene a board--

Studs Terkel But this, yeah.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Of psychiatrists and whack that's it.

Studs Terkel This case of Doris Anderson then is not unique.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Oh no, she's not unique, and it's, and this maybe one of the few instances in, in American life where the poor are perhaps in better shape than the middle class because there is a tendency to throw the poor in jail. But if you get a middle class person who acts up there is a very, very strong tendency the cops come and say, oh my goodness look at that fellow or that woman that she, she got a fur coat on or he's got a white shirt and tie. He's not doing, you know, he's maybe breaking up the bar or something like that. He's crazy and you take him off to the shrink ward. And then you never get out. And it, it's, it's very bad. I mean we really ought to just abolish all insane asylums.

Studs Terkel You know Thomas Szasz, Doctor Szasz?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yes well he, that's what he thinks.

Studs Terkel That's his point and R.D Laing in, in England, of course, feels strongly about this.

Nicholas Von Hoffman All right, now the Russians take the opposite view. They like to, you know, anybody who disagrees with them is nuts. Put him in the bughouse.

Studs Terkel And so each of these societies, each of these colossi--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah.

Studs Terkel Has a view toward someone who is, either disagrees or makes trouble.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right. Yeah, well our great, our great problem is not to use the Soviet Union as our paradigm. There is a great tendency to do that, you know? Have you noticed also the way some of the leading American officials are beginning to look more and more like Russians?

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Like Mel Laird really looks as though he could be [Terkel laughing] the Russian Minister of Defense. And, and, and Nixon is beginning to take on overtones in the face of Andrei Gromyko. [Terkel laughing] As a matter of fact maybe, maybe Nixon is Andrei Gromyko.

Studs Terkel What you're implying is many of the younger [unintelligible] there's maybe there's a deal worked out here for as a matter of whose turf is what.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Oh no it's, it's, it's a question of the, the, the whole drama of this part of the 20th century is the pharaohs versus the Fellaheen you know? And then there's this international union of pharaohs that run all of these big operations. Washington, Moscow, probably Peking, I don't know anything about Peking but I'm sure it must be. And they, you know, they s--, they sit on these pyramids, the tops of these pyramids, and they all know what's good for us. All the pharaohs. And so the whole thing is to see whether the Fellaheen can get the pyramids off our backs.

Studs Terkel You know Doris Lessing, English writer, has made this point in another way. She says, you know it's interesting that these guys whether it be Nixon, or Laird, or Kosygin, or Gromyko, whoever the heads are of these states, they fly from one place to another, they see one another--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah.

Studs Terkel Or they're ambassadors, emissaries, but they never see anybody else.

Nicholas Von Hoffman No, that's right.

Studs Terkel They see one another.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right.

Studs Terkel And so there's a surreal quality to it.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Absolutely you know she's completely correct. They spend all their time doing that.

Studs Terkel Have you heard, you, you, you, you probably, well you, of course you've heard the fact that it's no longer East versus West, North versus South. That it's not East, East bloc versus West bloc. Rather north, south. Have and have not.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah. Right. Yes. Oh, I think that's, that's true. That's the, the, the one, particularly with the racial thing, I think the one, the one element in, in, in international relations that, that actually can go against power politics, usual power politics considerations is racism. You know that there really is a tendency on the part of not just the United States but the Soviet Union, whoever to line up with white men regardless.

Studs Terkel As you say this I remember it was a it was a Soviet journalist who first told it to me and rather, you know, he, he told a great deal of the delight.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah. Right.

Studs Terkel I remember him. It's no longer you guys versus us, you know. I being white, of course, and American. He says oh no, it's, it's, you know, it's a race matter.

Nicholas Von Hoffman That's right. Yeah I, oh--

Studs Terkel That was several years ago--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah. Right.

Studs Terkel A number of years ago.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah. No, that's very true. I think it, you know, one of the things that, that they're really they just, there's this terrible kind of similarity of interests between certain aspects only, so I don't want to exaggerate, I mean, this is not the Soviet Union. We have a lot of, you know, thank God the Bill of Rights is still in force here. But, but there are these, these kind of awful sort of similarities. Like you know, it's, it's interesting that if, if a guy decides that he wants to desert from the Army he better not try and stay in Russia, you know, if he's against the Vietnam War. He can go to Sweden. They don't want him around in Russia because, you know, that's, my God what if he meets some Russians and tells them you know, and they'll start deserting. Pretty soon nobody will have any soldiers.

Studs Terkel That's that line in the Sandburg poem, remember that's, you know, a little girl somebody will, and one day they will declare war and nobody will show up.

Nicholas Von Hoffman That's right. That's our great dream.

Studs Terkel You're talking about the young, so let's talk about young. You have a marvelous column here. Nick does again a sardonic one. It used to be you had a white collar job, the worst thing that could happen was your kid would call up and say Dad I've got only one phone call so don't get mad and hang up, but I'm in jail. And speak of the horror of a kid being in jail. And would you mind reading the nature of the educational aspects of jail and how prison today and the- thi- there's several paragraphs of one of Von Hoffman's columns.

Nicholas Von Hoffman All right. Here, here we go out there. Ready or not. "In prison your son and daughter will not learn how to beat a conspiracy rap with a consent decree. This is how some of the automobile manufacturers get out of the accusation that they conspired to suppress the development and installation of anti-pollution devices on cars. Nothing can be more damaging to a teenager without a fully matured moral sense than to meet and associate with a member of Congress. In prison your child will never meet a member of Congress or an administrative assistant or a campaign contributor or a businessman who wants a congressman to put in a good word with a regulatory agency. Such men are never known to violate the law. When your child is older he'll understand there is nothing wrong with the man sitting in Congress and voting himself hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies or special tax concessions. A young person without experience in life has trouble distinguishing between a secret campaign contribution and a bribe, which is another reason why kids belong in jail. Behind prison walls, things are simpler. They won't have to worry themselves about cyclamates and who arranged it that this stuff should have, should be sold to millions of people for years without anybody being positively sure it was safe. Behind bars, they can drink their diet cola and not worry about what people are putting in the bread the milk and the anti-perspirants." Now I, I should add that, that since that's been written I've thought a little bit more about, about prisons. It's also clear, particularly if you can manage to get yourself jugged in a California prison, that it's a marvelous place to learn how to write. I mean, I, it's that, that, that the California Department of Public corrections is running the most successful writing school in America. Every time you turn around they've produced a new major author. [laughing] From Eldridge Cleaver to, to the Soledad brother.

Studs Terkel Of course at same time, have you done stuff, by the way, on, on, on prisons?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah, I, I was just out in Soledad not long ago and checking it out. It was really fascinating. They, they've had so much bad publicity that they are now, you know, they let you run all over the place with your pad, and so I was in the maximum security section, you know. This is where they have the, the terrible ones and they're so, they're so terrible they can't even let them out to eat, feed them, so that they, they dish the stuff up on trays and then they slip the trays through the, the bars to the, to the prisoners and you know only in America, here are the guards, he's fixing up the tray and he's explaining all of this to me and he's putting the radishes in the stew with a lot of meat in it and this little salad with French dressing and what have you in it. As he dishes up this one tray he says now on this tray I don't put any banana cake because he's been bad so he doesn't get dessert. [laughing]

Studs Terkel Have you done anything involving the Fortune Society? You know, the nature of prisons. [unintelligible]

Nicholas Von Hoffman The, the, which society?

Studs Terkel You ever hear of the Fortune Society? You heard of them? [unintelligible]

Nicholas Von Hoffman No, no. I, I'll have to look at that.

Studs Terkel Might be worth [unintelligible] how the nature of prison is educating one to new ways of violence. To prison. To prison as a school.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah. Prisons are getting, prisons though I, I think you know, I, I don't know what, what this means, but they're, it's, we, we're having a very strange thing happen at the moment, which is the last most segregated, most isolated parts of American society are being hit by these questioning ideas. So there are prisoners, people in penitentiaries are at least to some extent becoming politicized. Athletes are becoming politicized. Army officers are becoming politicized. The most protected three groups that you can think of in America, you know, much more than orphans or widows or people like that. Our athletes, our convicts, and our Army officers that live, you know, totally protected lives. And even, even the quest-- you know even they are getting to the point where they're saying well now there really is this the only way to run this railroad? Which is, which is kind of interesting.

Studs Terkel Well what do you see in, in, in your travels, observations now. There, we hear, you know, the more and more Army Intelligence is a case in point.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah, I want to ask you about that.

Studs Terkel Well you can in a moment.

Nicholas Von Hoffman All right.

Studs Terkel Yeah, I know. I'm going to ask you too--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Serious question--

Studs Terkel I know, yeah--

Nicholas Von Hoffman About that.

Studs Terkel But before you come to that question, you, you, you, you see the politicizing happening in the strangest of quarters. What do you see in the air? You see breakdowns happening, as far as--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Oh yeah. I, I think, you know, I, I think they're, you know, I, I do not believe that the United States of America is going to have a revolution or is anywhere near having a revolution. And if anything you might say one of our problems is excessive stability. You know, not a pronation towards revolt. So what I do see is a kind of debilitative crisis coming, which is I think much more serious that seven or eight years that, that our circulatory systems are, are shot. I mean, we just we're full of you know political and economic cholesterol and you see it with our power with our communications with, with, you know, everything you want, you mentioned that we can't, we can't accomplish all kinds of tasks that we want to accomplish. I mean we really could. I mean it's not, it's nothing innate in the tasks. And, and of course with this we're going through this period where our highest [unintelligible] officials, you know, tend increasingly to say well there's nothing you can do about it. You know, a few years ago they started saying well, New York is ungovernable. Now they're saying all cities are ungovernable. You know this is why the garbage piles up in the streets and only, you know, what have you. And pretty soon they're going to say well the United States is ungovernable, you know. You don't want to be a mayor, you don't want to be a senator, you don't want to be a governor, you don't want to be a president because it's all ungovernable and it's impossible, which is of course phooey. It's, it's not impossible to collect the garbage if you really want to collect the garbage. No you can't, it's quite true, you can't collect it if you're going to spend 80 to 100 billion dollars a year on bombs. Are you going to make, you know, six times as much garbage as anybody can possibly collect. But I do think we're, we're coming into a kind of debilitative crisis and that, that, that's the serious thing.

Studs Terkel Yeah, this is interesting. Not the idea of violent con- to use a much overused word, confrontation, not that at all but as though a pillow, the feathers of a pillow are--

Nicholas Von Hoffman In our throats.

Studs Terkel But debilitation.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah. No, I think that's, that's our difficulty.

Studs Terkel And what happens then, a, a sort of disintegration?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well, of course if it goes on long enough, yeah because you know what, these are not self-repairing perpetual motion machines. The human society is, is, is simply a vast pattern and an aggregation of, of, of, decisions made by people. But you know we don't have to make decisions which leads us into kind of total social infirmity. I mean if we want to we will. [If we're] stubborn enough about it long enough, yeah, that'll happen, but there's no reason for it to happen. Now I want to talk to you about army spying--

Studs Terkel Yes, sir.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Dr. Terkel.

Studs Terkel Yes, sir.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Why is it that you are not spied on? I thought you were a big time trouble maker.

Studs Terkel Well I'm hurt, I must confess to you. I'm terribly hurt. I thought here I don't know what Clement Stone or Father [Lawlor?] or Daughter[s] of the American Revolution did to merit getting on and I hear I've been speaking out on occasion--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Apparently not very successfully.

Studs Terkel Very often against, against, I call the Vietnamese War an obscene adventure, appeared on platforms with some Black militant spokesmen, signed all sorts of petitions, spoken out, and I have been rebuffed. I have not been, I realize this, and I'm hurt.

Nicholas Von Hoffman This Mike Royko said you've done something right. [Von Hoffman and Terkel laughing]

Studs Terkel So I thought, I thought this is sort of ecumenical since the, it's the scope, it's sort of Pentagon Two.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well, well I--

Studs Terkel [Unintelligible] and I think if, if I can't fit under the Pentagon umbrella, the ecumenical umbrella, being spied upon then obviously I'm not worth it. I'm hurt.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well does anybody think you're a menace, or are you a total phony?

Studs Terkel Well I don't know. I'm an absolute-- seems to me I'm blacklisted from a blacklist, so what could be worse? [Von Hoffman laughing] Had I been named, had I been named--

Nicholas Von Hoffman You can get a job anywhere!

Studs Terkel I'd, I'd have accepted it with, with the humility, heartfelt grat-, might even have run for a fifth term.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well if there were. Yeah, exactly.

Studs Terkel But I'm ignored.

Nicholas Von Hoffman But you and Daley are the only two guys in Chicago who aren't on that list. [Terkel and Von Hoffman laughing]

Studs Terkel I'm hurt, you see. So see strange, strange companionship occurs as a result of this investigation.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well let, let me ask you this is another status symbol: do you have your phone tapped?

Studs Terkel I don't know. It'd be a hell of [a load?] if I didn't, wouldn't it?"

Nicholas Von Hoffman I'll bet you don't.

Studs Terkel I bet I don't.

Nicholas Von Hoffman I'll bet you've been flying under false colors for years.

Studs Terkel Isn't this incredible? Well this is, you see what's happening here is as a complete demolition of ego. The thing is--

Nicholas Von Hoffman No.

Studs Terkel I haven't, I looked for my name as though one would look for a name on the social registers--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Of course.

Studs Terkel And not there. I look again, not there. Children probably would, will stone me if I walk down the streets.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Listen, I, I, and I mean it's very serious. Also it has terrible economic consequences because now I know a guy who was denounced by Agnew and he was immediately able to raise his lecture fees one thousand dollars.

Studs Terkel There, there again there were sixty-five people named. The "New York Times" did, did the job of the Internal Security Committee and named sixty-five. And again I looked. No, I wasn't on that list either. So I don't know what John Ciardi's done and he just he translate Dante's "Inferno" back in [the? unintelligible], but he, he's on it. And I, I don't know.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Seriously remiss.

Studs Terkel Something's wrong.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Studs, you've just gotta do something.

Studs Terkel What about you, Nick Von Hoffman. I haven't seen your name in the news. There again, you see--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Ah, you caught me. [laughing]

Studs Terkel For all the, all the columns, all the trouble you--

Nicholas Von Hoffman I was afraid you were

Studs Terkel gonna do that. Allegedly are making. [You know] of course it wasn't Washington names, this is Chicago names, it's true. But it's a terrible hurt, I won't deny that. [unintelligible]

Nicholas Von Hoffman It's very sad. Well I have my phone tapped and [unintelligible]--

Studs Terkel You have your phone tapped.

Nicholas Von Hoffman You, you know--

Studs Terkel How can you tell if your phone

Nicholas Von Hoffman is tapped? Oh it's very simple. Don't pay your phone bill.

Studs Terkel Yeah and then what happens?

Nicholas Von Hoffman And if your phone is really tapped and they're interested they'll pay your phone bill for you. [Von Hoffman and Terkel laughing]

Studs Terkel What do we come-- is this-- so you speak of the deliquescence, the Edgar Allan Poe word, the possible deliquescence of society, the clownish intelligence that except as some lady here said, we'll laugh all the way to the iron gate. This is the--

Nicholas Von Hoffman Well I don't know--

Studs Terkel You, you don't see it that way.

Nicholas Von Hoffman If the army is good at distinguishing their enemies here as they are in Vietnam then those people on that list have nothing to worry about.

Studs Terkel Well then there's something else about [this]--

Nicholas Von Hoffman They're the only people that, that are safe.

Studs Terkel Well if that's the case then I would follow the edict or, or, or the advice of Zero Mostel. [Or] this is the case I better cultivate my Chinese laundryman.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Exactly.

Studs Terkel As Zero Mostel put it once. [chuckles] What, do you see an out? I mean, is, again we come to the young, we come to another generation and you can't, I know we can't categorize them, there are all kinds of young, but do you see an out to--?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Sure, if, you know, look at, all the things or virtually all the things that we complain about, that we think are bad and what have you, are all manmade, therefore they can all be unmade and they can all be changed. I mean, you know, so there is always an out whether we want to exercise it or not is another matter. But I mean God didn't come down here and impose this wacky defense budget on us. We did it to ourselves.

Studs Terkel So it comes back to responsibility, it goes back to a way of getting out of this fatty degeneration. Nick Von Hoffman, he continuously attacks this in his columns and in, in the absence of our ability we can read it, all right. In the absence of the lack of opportunity to read his column here three times a week, it appears on occasion in "The Sun Times," there is the book, "Left at the Post." "Left at the Post" and it's Quadrangle the publishers and it's, of course its abrasive. It's funny, it's out loud reading, and more than that it's revealing.

Nicholas Von Hoffman It's not too expensive either.

Studs Terkel And it's five ninety-five and it's available. Nick, any other, you last time you were going to work on another novel. I remember you were going to work, of course, "Two, Three, Many More" was the one that dealt with campus.

Nicholas Von Hoffman Right, yes. It's just been published in Swedish and it's marvelous. [chuckles]

Studs Terkel Is, is there another, is there another project?

Nicholas Von Hoffman Yeah, there, there is. I haven't quite gotten to it but there is. I mean, I, I, it's there, but it hasn't crystallized.

Studs Terkel Well in the meantime you'll see Nick Von Hoffman on [an NET] program. It's called the Great, "The Amazing American Dream Machine." You'll be commenting on that week, weekly, and that's set to be on NETW here in Chicago.

Nicholas Von Hoffman I'm wonderful in color.

Studs Terkel January 6, 7:30 to 9. Nick Von Hoffman. "Left at the Post." Quadrangle. I thank you for all your revelations, including my own. [Terkel and Von Hoffman laughing]

Nicholas Von Hoffman Thank you, Studs.