I accepted the commission to do this poster back in 1967 close to the time that my rock posters had been featured in the art section of TIME magazine (April 1967). It was to announce the opening of new offices in Los Angeles for the J. Walter Thompson Co., which was/is one of the largest advertising/public relations firms in the United States. Perhaps largely because of my fame and notoriety at that time I was granted unprecedented freedom in carrying out the design. The manager of this new office at the time was Mr. Bob Haldeman and it was probably either him or his assistant, Mr. Ron Ziegler, who originally spoke with me on the phone about it. I was given the specific wording for the poster and also a picture of Mr. J. Walter Thompson himself--should I see fit to use it in the design.
I was (and am, I guess one could say) a Liberal, one who was opposed to the unjust inhumanity of our ongoing war in Viet Nam that was being carried out in the name of ‘American interests.’ Interests such as the Monsanto Chemical Company who were making and selling to the Defense Department hundreds of thousands of gallons of dioxin laden Agent Orange, the ultra poisonous jungle defoliant, among others. My personal feelings at the time about the inherent dangers of industrial advertising were not good. I saw it as a work of persuasion used in the selling of products for the sake of profit. Often spinning deceptions about political and economic matters which regularly confounded ordinary Americans into buying and/or voting in certain ways which were/are often not for their better interests. These thoughts were uppermost in my mind as I came up with this poster – giving it a one eye open and one shut look along with the emphasis on the words “open up and see.”
Quite by chance a few years later, while in San Francisco, I happened to meet a former employee who had worked at the J. Walter Thompson company at that time. He told me that Bob (H. R.) Haldeman had the printing plates for this poster framed and hung on the walls of his office. My question ''Why?'' didn’t get an explanation.
I later learned that Richard Nixon had been a client of this firm during his successful 1968 campaign for the presidency. Truly it is a small world because then, when elected, President Nixon appointed (H.R.) Bob Haldeman to be his right-hand man in the White House, his Chief of Staff. And then there's more. Mr. Dwight L. Chapin was also employed by the J. Walter Thompson Co. and he was appointed Special Assistant to President Nixon. Interestingly, Dwight L. Chapin, Ron Ziegler, and Donald Segretti all studied law together at the University of Southern California. Same thing happened with Ron Ziegler who became President Nixon’s Press Secretary.
In the Nixon Whitehouse Mr. Chapin was given special responsibilities to attend to "various acts of political sabotage and espionage" against the Democratic Party! Dwight Chapin then recruited Donald Segretti as part of an anti-Democrat "dirty tricks" campaign. I believe that journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein later discovered that Segretti had attempted to
smear leading politicians such as Democrat Senators George McGovern, Edward Kennedy, Edmund Muskie, and Henry Jackson. This included releasing to the press a faked letter on
Muskie's letterhead, falsely alleging that Jackson had had an illegitimate child with a 17-year-old girl. Donald Segretti, the Republican dirty tricks operative working for Nixon, was later
convicted and sent to prison for involvement in Watergate.
OK. now where are they today? Many have died. However, President Bush’s Executive Assistant is of course Karl Christian Rove. Karl Rove was a protégé of Donald Segretti, that is, as I understand it, Karl Rove's mentor was Donald Segretti. Mr. Segretti is now out of prison and could be up to his old tricks again. He is back into politics. In 2000 Segretti surfaced as co-
chair of John McCain's campaign in Orange County, California.
Dirty tricks are still being used in politics so as to confound the many and serve the few. As I understand it, documents released to the IRS 19 months after the election show that the
Bush team spent over a million dollars to fly operatives into Florida (to block the vote counting by clogging up the public counting places, shouting, shoving, etc. - and being as rowdy
as needed to fulfill their mission) and another million to pay for their hotel bills. The effort also relied on a fleet of corporate jets controlled by people like Enron chairman Kenneth Lay … and Halliburton, where Vice President Dick Cheney had just served as CEO.
When Karl Rove was publicly honored by President Bush right after his re-election he smiled toward the blushing Karl and declared that his executive assistant was the architect of it all.
On February 8, 2005 Karl Rove was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of policy. Well, It seems to me, as Mark Twain once asserted, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
I designed this poster (I call it the “Open Up & See!” one) in 1967. Along with the “Are We Next?” poster they became part of the '15 minutes of fame' accorded me by fate, good luck, and plenty of late nights. They gave me a personal brush with history, if you will, during the wonderful good ole days in the mid-60s out in San Francisco. I still believe in keeping minds open just as much as ever. My eyes tell me that Hillary Clinton was right – there really is a “vast right wing conspiracy.” All decent, open minded Americans must stand up for their birthrights - and solidly defeat this selfish-brat Republican agenda at the polls. Fortunately, we
are a Democratic Republic, so the only thing we all need to do about this malady of our body-politic is to vote the whole Republican ailment out of office!
Revised Feb. 4, 2006