Pilfery, sheer pilfery. The blog backlog is running low and I am resorting to reproducing dubious satire I wrote for a college newspaper in the 1970s, aka the Mesozoic Era. I resist the temptation to edit out the weak jokes and syntactic sins. You may find this amusing as a period piece. Headlined “Secret sources”, it goes…
Excerpts from All the President’s Weathermen, by Bob Woodwind and Carl Bernslime:
It was a hot summer day in 1972. The Washington Pest’s summer weekend weather writer, Bob Woodwind, was checking his meteorological sources. He contacted an ESSA official.*
“Is that you, Bob? Listen, we have a rumored tropical depression. You better check around; this could be the ‘big lasanga’ you’ve been looking for.”
Puzzled, Woodwind talked with the city editor, Ben Badly, who introduced him to Carl Bernslime, a new reporter on the Disaster Desk. They would make an unusual journalistic team: Woodwind, a former Yakology major, Bernslime, formerly a zeppelin repairman based in Wyoming.
Immediately, Bernslime decided to contact his secret source, Deep Cold Front. He signalled him by sunbathing with penguins beside his barbecue grill.
At 8 a. m. Bernslime met Deep Cold Front by a brontosaurus in the Smithsonian Institution. “Do you have anything about a tropical depression?” he asked.
“It’s bigger than that. The responsibility goes up a long way.”
“To the Committee to Re-Elect?”
“Higher than that, even.”
“Good Lord! You mean―” but Deep Cold Front had vanished, leaving behind only a slight low pressure system.
Woodwind wasn’t doing any better. He had managed to get a look at the National Weather Service’s files, but he couldn’t take any notes. So he had to memorize the highs and lows of each city, lock himself into a pay toilet and flush his notes to the Pest’s executive washroom.
The next edition carried a lead story under their bylines stating that the CRP was behind a plot to use a tropical depression to keep Southern Democratic voters at home. Ron Ziegler denied it, calling the Pest “an occluded front of climatological confusion.” The President’s personal weathermen, H. R. Scaldeman and John Hairlipmann disavowed any wrong doing.
After a day of questioning CRP employees, Woodwind hit paydirt: Not only had the CRP authorized a tropical depression, it had funded a full scale hurricane in Cuba, which accounted for the 500 raincoats stockpiled in a CIA telephone booth.
But Bernslime knew that the trail led to higher officials, perhaps as high as Scaldeman and Hairlipmann themselves. He got out the penguins for another rendezvous with Deep Cold Front. They met again, this time in a remote trash bin in the Tidal Basin.
“Beware the Ides of March,” Deep Cold Front whispered.
“What does that mean?”
“Nothing, but it sounds authoritative, doesn’t it? But you’re right. Scaldeman and Hairlipmann authorized that hurricane with CRP money.”
Bernslime found Woodwind with his secret source in an all-night laundromat. He pulled Woodwind out of the dryer; together they took the findings to Badly.
“Get another source to confirm this. It’ll look good in the screenplay.”
For a week the two newsmen scoured every weather bureau in the city. They found nothing, until Woodwind found a wind sock with the initials “H. R.” on it. Here was the missing link they’d been searching for!
The implication of Nixon’ top men in the Weathervane scandal was the beginning of the end. Soon a shocked nation would learn of official plans to “snow under” sensitive documents and “rain out” political enemies. Two fledgling reporters had unearthed a series of small craft warnings that led straight to the cumulonimbus clouds over the White House, to the “Big Forecaster” himself.
* The ESSA (Environmental Science Services Administration) was the incorrect agency. I meant to write the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). So sue me.