MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT, SENSITIVE/EYES ONLY
“With experience and exposure in dealing with Western leaders, Brezhnev has gained assurance. He has come to enjoy the prerequisites of office–he enjoys fancy cars, natty clothes and a certain elevated lifestyle. In short, he has some of the characteristics of the nouveau-riche. Yet he is proud, as Khrushchev was, of his proletarian background and his march up the ladder of power.
… Brezhnev is a nervous man, partly because of personal insecurity, partly for physiological reasons traced to his consumption of alcohol and tobacco, his history of heart disease and the pressures of his job. You will find his hands perpetually in motion, twirling his gold watch chain, flicking ashes from his ever-present cigarette, clanging his cigarette holder against an ash tray. From time to time, he may stand up behind his chair or walk about. He is likely to interrupt himself or you by offering food or drink. His colleagues obviously humor him in these nervous habits.”
Henry A. Kissinger.
(Box 1 – 11/1/74 – 11/12/74) at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
Some books begin slowly, gradually drawing a reader in, while others never quite take hold. Then there’s The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock, which has this memory from the singer’s childhood on page 5:
“I used to give people rocks and things as presents, but I once did something worse than that. I had a bowel movement in a box, in a shoebox or something like that, and I packed it up like a present and gave it to an old lady next to Mathis Groceries, on Monroe street, in Pleasant Hill. I went to her on her birthday and I said, ‘Miz Ola, how you bin?’ And she said, ‘Oh, Richard, I feel so fine. Richard, you’re such a nice child.’ I said, ‘Miz Ola, I’ve just come to wish you a happy birthday, I’ve brought you a present. Look.’ She said, ‘Ohhh, thank you so much.’ So she took this big old shoebox with the stuff in it. I went off and waited around the corner of the house to listen for her reactions. I was hoping that she would open it while the other ladies were there, and she did. She wanted to show them what I had brought her. She said, ‘Let us see what Richard has brought for me.’ Then I just heard somebody say, ‘Aaaaaaa, aaaaaaahhh–I’m gonna kill him. I’ll kill him!’ She was crippled, but she leaped off the porch and she was walking without her stick! I laughed like a cuckoo! God bless Miz Ola, she’s dead now.”
The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock, Charles White, Harmony Books, 1984.
Photograph: Anna Bleker
In 2004, the screenwriter and director Paul Haggis visited the set of War of the Worlds. At the time, Haggis and Tom Cruise were Scientology’s two most famous disciples. Haggis told the author Lawrence Wright that a tent where Scientology materials were distributed was erected on the set, and recounted a conversation he’d had with War‘s director, Steven Spielberg.
“It’s really remarkable to me that I’ve met all these Scientologists, and they seem like the nicest people,” Spielberg told Haggis, who quipped, “Yeah, we keep all the evil ones in a closet.”
About an hour into War of the Worlds, an extra bearing a resemblance to Haggis is briefly on camera. Is it him? Twenty rewinds and three screenshots have borne no conclusive proof.