G. Gordon Liddy, 1930–2021
I USED TO work in a bullpen-type office environment producing a weekly newspaper, and the best thing to help the stress and time go by was listening to the radio and mixtapes and stuff. The department would take turns with the music, letting everybody take a turn as the Selector, and sometimes folks would record TV shows and movies, things like The Simpsons, Raising Arizona, and Monty Python movies, which work really well as sound-only entertainment.
This was in the time of the wacky Morning Zoo-type shows and “shock jocks,” and one of the talk stations I’d listen to, WJFK-AM 1300, a repeater of the FM station in Washington, started what seemed like a stunt, a midday talk show, 11 a.m to 3 p.m. (a very low-expectations part of a commercial-radio broadcast day, ratings-wise) featuring disgraced government employee and convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy. On his broadcast, G. Gordon Liddy revealed to us that he detested his first name, George. He also told us that he graduated from Fordham University, became a patent attorney, worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, and eventually became part of the administration of President of the United States Richard Milhous Nixon, serving in the Campaign to Re-Elect the President, celebrated by the press and lefties everywhere as C.R.E.E.P. He got busted for fucking up the supervision of a burglary of the Washington DC offices of the Democratic Party in the Watergate Hotel office complex. He refused to rat anybody out, so he did about 52 months in prison. That stuff toward the end I already knew, but he told it anyway.
Sometimes he opened by introducing the show over the theme from Miami Vice (he had a gig as a recurring paramilitary drug-lord character, another casting stunt using his notorious semi-celebrity status), saying it was being broadcast from within an “eight-lane death strip surrounding Washington, D.C.” Then Mr. Liddy, “The G-Man” would share his opinions about the criminal justice system, and frequently about the prison guards: they don’t “guard” anything, they are Correctional Officers, or “CO’s,” and they are one of two types of people in prison, the first type being Convicts—not “prisoners,” mind you—who are there against their will. The CO’s, the second type, of their own volition walk into prison every day, and therefore they are dumb and despicable. Gordon Liddy was a Republican, and he was all for Law & Order.
He also talked about how somebody sweated him in jail one time, so he broke the guy’s knee. He’d discuss his love of firearms and gun control (i.e., hit what you aim at), in this weird, staccato-nasal delivery, not unlike the voice of Don Adams from the cartoon Tennessee Tuxedo, which made him sort of a natural for AM radio. It was unnecessary, but that high-frequency tone of his cut through the air in the manner of old-timey radio announcers, so the show was sort of a stunt, but he got the gig because somebody thought it might pay off.
I got tired of the show almost immediately because he’d cycle through all the above stuff, FBI, Nixon, John Dean is a rat, etc., and then he’d go off on tangents about the size of his testicles and how he couldn’t wear short pants. Then he’d take calls from haters and sycophants, and that was boring, especially the fans. He’d give a lotta advice about how to fuck people up in a fight, and it was hard to not take him as an overcompensating tough guy, but he def seemed crazy.
As the show aged he sorta ran out of shit to say, so he’d start reading articles and op-eds out of the Washington Times, which was hilarious radio, the rattling of papers and the monotonous, stumbling, unrehearsed text-reads. Since he hated the Washington Post, on account of reporters Woodward and Bernstein basically putting him in jail with their Watergate scoop, he’d do a bit where if he had to say the name of the paper, they’d bleep it like he said the F-word. The Washington BLEEP.
The show compelled me to read Will, his autobiography, as in “Triumph of the,” no kidding, he talked about his fascination with Hitler in his book, and it’s impossible to forget the opener, where he recreates his abject fear of a massive phallic symbol, an overflight of the dirigible the USS Akron, flying over his childhood home in Hoboken, N.J. Then he described trapping a rat and cooking its heart to conquer Fear, hoo boy.
The reports of his death said it was from Parkinson’s, so I guess there isn’t any record of his thoughts on the fascist regime we recently experienced. G. Gordon would frequently announce on his show that he planned on living to 120, the “design limit” of the human body or something like that, so checking out at 90 wasn’t in his plan, but he probably also didn’t plan on being best known as a shitty burglar, either, so we’ll see him on the other side.