A District of Columbia tow truck operator received a fast lesson in politics recently when he had the misfortune to tow away the car owned by the chairman of the House District committee, Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.).
The tow truck driver apparently paid no attention to the Texas "SO-2" license plates (the letters mean "state official") on Wilson's car. It was parked illegally in front of the Elan nightclub. But when an alert Federal Communications Commission employe saw Wilson's car disappear, he called the congressman's office. Shortly thereafter the car was returned to the front of the nightclub "with profuse apologies," according to Wilson.
Wilson, incidentally, represents a largely dry district in Texas, and press reports of his role as a minority investor in Elan never played all that well back home. Six months ago he sold his share in the fancy nightclub and, says Wilson, "announced that because of my poor judgment I was getting out of the disco business and into the ice cream business." He invested in a Haagen-Dazs ice cream store in Texas and told reporters, "The first one of you SOBs who refers to my ice cream parlor as a massage parlor, I'll sue." Wilson, whose sense of humor and love of night life earned him the nickname "Good Time Charlie" on Capitol Hill, says he intends to be photographed with 10 happy children licking ice cream cones.
And while we're on the subject, let's wrap up a couple more Wilson items:
No, he didn't really have a date with Farrah Fawcett, so let's call a halt to the "Charlie's Angel" jokes, please. Wilson and Fawcett happened to be at the same party late last year at The Great Caruso, a southwest Houston restaurant. The party was given by Texas socialite Joanne Herring on behalf of the Jack Benny Tennis Classic.But also in attendance was Fawcett's current boyfriend, actor Ryan O'Neal.
Yes, Wilson did have some unkind words for Houston television reporter and commentator Marvin Zindler. In 1973 Zindler did a series of reports that led to the closing (after 129 years in business) of the Chicken Ranch bordello, the house of ill repute that is the basis for Larry King's hit play, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Zindler, who is portrayed in the play, says he was invited by Wilson to attend the Washington opening. But Wilson says he provided Zindler with free tickets after Zindler invited himself.
At any rate, WRC-TV paid Zindler's airfare to and from Washington because the station wanted to interview him. After the play -- and later at a party at the National Archives -- Zindler commandeered the WRC crew which was supposed to be filming him and later filed a report of his own in Houston. Zindler asked Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.), Rep. Bob Eckhardt (D-Tex.) and Wilson why they were carousing (in a taxpayer-supported building, he added) instead of attending Jimmy Carter's State of the Union message that very night.
Wilson didn't think that was a very hospitable way for a guest to behave. "Next time I see him on the street," Wilson says, "Zindler better have a witness."
"I don't think he means that," answers Zindler. "I don't know why he got mad. I just thought it was kind of humorous. If I wanted to go after Charlie Wilson I wouldn't stop right there. Partying is his thing, and if that's what he wants to do, well, that's fine with me."
Tough state, Texas.