In perhaps one of the most important events in modern American political history, Richard M. Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974— a few weeks before the most important event in my history. During that summer when I was born, Burt Reynolds’ prison-football movie The Longest Yard was popular, and apparently John Lennon reported seeing a UFO during that time. Since I’ve long felt out of place in Alabama, reading that latter fact made me wonder if I might have been dropped off here by that UFO. Some people who know me might say yes.
1974 was a wacky year for American culture. Nixon and Watergate dominated the scene, and the January 17, 1974 Rolling Stone cover showed Nixon with his hand up the back of a buxom Lady Liberty’s dress. Ted Bundy was on his killing rampage. Steven King’s debut novel Carrie, about a bullied girl who bloodies up the prom, was published. Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in February. Charles Bronson’s revenge film Death Wish and Jack Nicholson’s hard-boiled Chinatown came out that summer, and in the fall, the gruesome original Texas Chainsaw Massacre also premiered. Even though the racist cowboy comedy Blazing Saddles was released that year, blaxploitation films were an established genre by that time, and 1974 brought TNT Jackson, Jive Turkey, and Foxy Brown. On TV, The Flip Wilson Show went off the air, as did The Brady Bunch, but Good Times came on, putting “Dy-no-mite!” into our American lexicon.