PRINT April 2008


“1973: Sorry, Out of Gas”

IN “1973: SORRY, OUT OF GAS,” a show currently on view at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, the image that first arrests is of President Richard Nixon addressing the United States on November 7, 1973. A thin trickle of what is evidently sweat runs down his lip. He reads not from a teleprompter but from a sheaf of handwritten notes. The lighting is clinically unflattering. The scene is astonishing, especially if you can’t remember the last time you saw any departure from a fully scripted, stage-managed presidency, but the words are even more so: Calm and stern, Nixon comes across like a premature Green Party aspirant, condemning the profligate consumption integral to the American way of life. “In prosperity,” he notes, “what were once considered luxuries are . . . considered necessities.” How many times, he wants to know, have you driven down the highway and seen “hundreds

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