OPENING NOTES

Cooking up gold, Watergate memories and the measure of a mountain

June 29 1992

OPENING NOTES

Cooking up gold, Watergate memories and the measure of a mountain

June 29 1992

OPENING NOTES

Cooking up gold, Watergate memories and the measure of a mountain

BEHIND EVERY GREAT MAN...

Since he announced four months ago that he may run for president, Dallas biffionaire Ross Perot has shaped his good-ol'-boy image through timely appearances on radio and TV call-in shows. But his wife, Margot, who met her diminutive match in 1956 on a blind date, has carefully shunned the lime-light. Recently, the 58-year-old toast of the Texas charity-ball circuit allowed Washington journalist Sandra McElwaine a peek inside her life and her Texas estate. The result is the first fulllength profile of the demure mother of five, which will appear in the September issue of the straitlaced, all-American monthly Good Housekeeping. “She’s not a Cosmopolitan or a Vanity Fair type,” McElwaine told Maclean’s. “She’s terribly down-to-earth, conventional and yet her own woman.” In the article, Margot reveals a rare glimpse of her views as an advocate of abortion rights and other women’s issues. “Above all,” said McElwaine, “she’s a devoted wife—and family is her number 1 priority.”

LEGACY OF A SCANDAL

On June 17, 1972, four men broke into the Democratic National Committee office in Washington as part of a conspiracy that went all the way up the ladder of the Republican administration to Richard Nixon, who resigned as president in 1974. With the help of an anonymous source identified only as “Deep Throat,” Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered a story of corruption that still haunts American politics: Watergate. On its 20th anniversary last week, participants and observers recalled the biggest scandal in U.S. history:

“And suddenly it was over. The most intense moment of our lives. The President had resigned.”

—Benjamin C. Bradlee, vicepresident-at-large, The Washington Post

“I regret that it failed. I still totally believe in Richard Nixon. Yes, sir.” —G. Gordon Liddy, leader of the Watergate break-in team, on NBC’S Today show

“I was ashamed to be part of the whole thing. I did not want myself to be involved in the downfall of a president of the United States.”

—Watergate burglar Eugenio Martinez

“I hope politicians have learned you can’t fool around with stupid things like a break-in that you can’t cover up.”

—Former president Gerald Ford, who granted Nixon an official pardon in 1974

A movable Olympics

As Canada’s athletes sprint into the final three weeks of training for next month’s Olympic Games in Barcelona, a second group of Canadians is dashing towards a world championship, as well. But instead of lifting weights and throwing javelins, those contestants are pickling salmon—in preparation for the 1992 Culinary Olympics to be held in Frankfurt in October. The seven-chef team, led by Fred Zimmerman, 52, executive chef at the Westin Hotel in Calgary, is pinning its

gold-medal hopes on an impressive all-Canadian menu: marinated salmon crêpes with golden caviar, pheasant smoked in cherry wood and a side order of potato lasagna layered with savoy cabbage and fiddleheads. For dessert, the team offers a wild rice croquant graced with cherries and rhubarb butter. Said Zimmerman, a veteran culinary Olympian who has won five gold medals over the past 16 years: “As in the sporting Olympics, the cornpetition is very demanding. But we have a fantastic team.”

Lunch on the lawn

Some Alta., municipal will soon be employees commuting in to Fort work Saskatchewan, in flocks—literally. As part of a one-year trial program approved last week by officials of the city, located near Edmonton, 200 sheep will replace maintenance crews on about 100 acres of public land on an abandoned provincial jail site. The move may be good news for ovines, but bad news for humans: if the experiment works, the city will need fewer park employees to cut the grass, which previously required a mechanical mowing as often as 10 times a year. “A lot of places are looking at reducing dependency on mowing grass,” said parks foreman Donald Siemens, who added that he expects the sheep, guided by a shepherd and tended by two border collies, to munch away as effectively as lawn mowers. Although the cost savings remain to be calculated, the program will have at least one woolly fringe benefit: free organic fertilizer.

Pulling punches

scene in the new Hollywood thriller Unlawful Entry depicts a Los Angeles police officer brutally clubbing a defenceless black man over and over again—invoking an obvious parallel to last year’s videotaped beating of Rodney King. In the wake of the riots in Los Angeles, and after showing the film 'o journalists at a recent media screening in Chicago, director Jonathan Kaplan and producer Charles Gordon decided to tone down the scene’s violence before releasing the movie this week (page 53). “We cut a few blows out,” said Gordon. ‘We thought it was an area that we needed to be sensitive to.” In the movie, Ray Iiotta plays a psychotic policeman infatuated with a married woman (Madeleine Stowe). Her husband (Kurt Russell) first realizes that the officer is a monster when he joins him on patrol and witnesses the beating. ‘Watching the scene with an audience, after so many blows you could feel them twitching in their seats,” said Gordon. But one of the biggest laughs in Unlawful Entry makes another reference to the King beating. When Russell’s character complains about the police villain breaking into his house, the police captain responds: “You’re not giving me anything to go on. You don’t even have a video. These days, everybody’s got a God damn video.”

HOW HIGH IS UP?

Since southwestern climbers first Yukon reached has been its peak known in 1925, as Canada’s Mount Logan highest in mountain. But because of inexact surveying methods, measurements of the peak’s height have varied by 325 feet, from 19,524 to 19,849 feet above sea level. To settle the question, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society of Canada helped sponsor a 13member expedition that scaled Mount Logan this spring and mear sured its precise elevation using satellite-aided global positioning equipment The team, led by Michael Schmidt, 38, of Sidney, B.C., braved high winds and freezing conditions during its assault on the peak and succeeded in putting 10 climbers on the summit. Now, federal scientists in Ottawa are analysing data on the height of the mountain, and the results will be made public at a Canada Day ceremony in Haines Junction, Yukon. But even the new height, which experts predict will be lower than originally thought could soon be out of date. According to Schmidt an earthquake specialist for the Geological Survey of Canada, the mountain is gradually being pushed upward by movement of the Earth’s crust Canada’s high-

Ottawa’s big boom

In sound its early of a cannon years, Canada fired precisely kept time at noon by the on Parliament Hill. From 1869, for almost 50 years, the main post office in Ottawa flashed that “true time daily” by telegraph to branches across the nation. Even after, the noon boom persisted until, in April, 1991, National Capital Commission budget constraints silenced the bang that kept many Ottawa timepieces accurate. House Speaker John Fraser persuaded the NCC to resume firing in May on a promise that the Commons would take over the operation and costs ($18,500 a year). Last week, Ottawans began hearing the boom at different times—signals that five pairs of Commons messengers (six women and four men) were practising for the takeover. Apart from the $10-a-boom extra pay, why volunteer lunch time? ‘To be part of history,” explained rookie cannoneer Rachel Dozois. “And, also, just for the bang of it.”