Ace: So, I’ve been hearing voices. Nixon’s voice, specifically, and he keeps calling me Bob. My wife, she says to me, “Bowie, you may be crazy, but those voices aren’t in your head, they’re at the Miller Center.” What is she talking about? Or is my wife just trying to mess with my mind?—Bowie Meangrove
Bowie, let’s talk about your wife. Remember when you were young and immortal? A filthy, longhaired dreamer? You weren’t the only one: Ace was there too, kind of, in a Strawberry Fields sense. It was 1974, and the House Judiciary Committee had subpoenaed President Nixon for the release of several hundred hours of presidential tape recordings. Ah, Watergate—a small victory for us would-be revolutionaries, and even though the magic bus had run out of flower power by then, the Nixon subpoena made Ace turn, briefly, away from the drink and back to the dream.
Well, the dream didn’t last long. Although Nixon would resign that August, he never went to court for his alleged crimes. But it wasn’t a total wash. The federal subpoena of the Watergate tapes gave the public unprecedented access to the nation’s highest office. Now, nearly 5,000 hours of Nixon’s and other dead presidents’ Oval Office musings remain for your auditory pleasure. Where? You guessed it—the Miller Center’s Scripps Library. Ace visited the Palmer Reading Room and listened to Kennedy sweat over Cuban missiles, to Nixon and Kissinger brood over a young veteran-activist named John Kerry, and to LBJ’s cringe-worthy phone call with Haggar Clothing Co., in which he orders pants custom-fit for his, uh, presidential girth. Ace may never get the phrase “just like riding a wire fence” out of his head.
Anyway, back to the wife. Take a look around, Bowie: an SUV, two-and-a-half kids, beige corridors. You ask Ace why you’re hearing voices, but what you really want to know is where it all went wrong. Well, that voice you’re hearing isn’t Nixon—it’s the ’70s, calling you back to your halcyon youth. Before you married a mind-messing succubus, who calls you “Bowie” to shroud you in a web of lies, you were Bob: J.R. “Bob” Dobbs of the SubGenius cult! So turn on, tune in and take the steering wheel, Bob, because this magic bus won’t drive itself!
You’ll have to excuse Ace. This Kool-Aid’s heartier stuff than he remembered.
You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 20 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.