Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Today is the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, if you've forgotten, or never remembered. We're at the point where JFK is becoming more an icon of history books and grainy films than as someone who played a role in personal history. And November 22, 1963 has been overshadowed by even uglier dates, of course, as that day overshadowed December 7th, which had been the touchstone date before it. You wonder what date awaits in the future, coiled like a sleeping rattler under a rock.

I'm old enough to remember both the man and the day, a cold, gray day in Maine where the schoolroom loudspeaker rumbled out the news, and a teacher weeping, and all of us loaded back on buses early in the afternoon. And Oswald shot over the weekend, and the funeral with the riderless mount and the upturned boots and finally Jackie leaning over to young John and his saluting the coffin.

And then we all entered the `60s. Although we didn't know it yet, the first two years and 11 months hadn't counted.

If you're of a certain age, you can't talk about the Kennedy assassination without talking about conspiracy theories. For awhile I entertained and researched my own, that Castro had engineered it in retribution for the attempts on his life engineered by the U.S. government. It was hard to look at the Zapruder film without evolving a conspiracy theory - Kennedy's head snapping back from that final shot seemed to fly in the face of all reason that the bullet could have come from the rear. But after enough reading and enough research, I came to the conclusion it had, and that Oswald was the lone gunman, and shot Kennedy for as much reason as his wife had expressed admiration for the young, sexy President as anything else. You look at the smirk on Oswald's face in his brief police station press interview and you see a man who has put himself just where he wants to be, in the limelight finally. It would have been one hell of a show trial, I bet, if Ruby's bullet hadn't been there first.

The polls say that each year less and less people believe in any conspiracy theory at all, I suspect because less and less people give a damn one way or another. There was a time when this country seemed to have gone purely mad, and the thought that the vortex we were in had been triggered by Mafia, Communists, Cubans on either side of the Gulf, right-wingers, left-wingers, Hoover, Johnson, Nixon or whatever your favorite whipping boy, first assassinating Kennedy made perfect sense.

It's always easier on the psyche to find a pattern rather than stare into the abyss.

Back when I was working for Google Answers, someone asked about "Jennifer Juniors," at floors five and six of the Dal-Tex Building across the street from the Texas School Book Depository. Here's what I answered.

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