Revisiting The Energy Crisis Of The 1970s With Meg Jacobs; The Art Of William Downs

Aug 20, 2016

During my tenure as editor in chief of Chicagoland Monthly, a regional magazine I ran in the late 1970s, we decided to do a cover story on how the Arab oil embargo was affecting the daily lives of people in metropolitan Chicago. Of all the covers we created for the magazine, I’m proudest of the one that hangs in my office at GPB. There’s Uncle Sam, dying for gasoline and committing suicide by self-immolation.

The gasoline shortages of the 1970s were a frightening wake-up call. They made us aware there were limits to American abundance and to government’s ability to fix all of our major problems, as Meg Jacobs, our guest this week, describes in her book “Panic at the Pump: The Energy Crisis and the Transformation of American Politics in the 1970s.”

The shortages began under President Nixon, but the worst of it occurred during Jimmy Carter’s presidency; his inability to solve the crisis and his insistence on lecturing Americans that we needed to curb our indulgent lifestyles were major reasons he lost his bid for reelection.

It was this speech from the Oval Office – that came to be known as the “national malaise” address that helped bring Carter down:

William Downs

Later in the show, we’ll talk with Atlanta-based visual artist Williams Downs. While he does some painting, he prefers drawing – which he thinks is a much more spontaneous and instinctive kind of art. It’s a fascinating window into the creative process of an artist whose work is currently on display at the Sandler Hudson Gallery.