WEIRDLAND: June 2020

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

John F. Kennedy Jr: America’s Reluctant Prince

Steve Gillon: When I met John F. Kennedy Jr in 1982, I stood firmly in the conspiracy camp. It was settled history, and I never raised the topic with him. It came up only once, around the time when director Oliver Stone’s conspiratorial film JFK hit theaters in 1991. Stone challenged all the major conclusions of the Warren Commission, established by Lyndon Johnson and chaired by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, by charting the path of the “magic bullet” as it meandered through Kennedy’s body and then Governor Connally’s. Clearly, they claimed, there must have been at least two shooters, maybe even more. It seemed by the end of their presentation that everyone in Dealey Plaza that day, with the possible exception of Mrs. Kennedy, had a motive to kill Kennedy. The military, the Secret Service, the CIA, the FBI, and the Mob apparently conspired with various outside forces—the Soviets and the Cubans—to murder JFK and then orchestrate a cover-up. I don’t recall the context of the conversation, but John stated cryptically, “Bobby knew everything.” By December 1995, Director Oliver Stone had just released a new movie about the late Richard Nixon, who died a month before Jackie in April 1994, and it was generating a lot of buzz. It seemed like an ideal fit for John's magazine George to produce a cover depicting a blockbuster Hollywood movie about a controversial American president. But it turned out to be a poor decision. A clueless Eric Etheridge suggested that John meet with Stone to discuss the content of JFK. John was shocked. Anyone who knew him understood that his father’s death was off-limits. John replied bluntly, “It’s not entertainment for me.” I spent many hours talking with John about his father and his presidency, but we rarely broached how he died. He made only two cryptic comments. On the thirtieth anniversary, in November 1993, considerable news coverage rehashed the assassination. And he said enigmatically, “Bobby knew everything about my father’s killers,” and he said it in a way that made me think perhaps Bobby knew things that the public, and maybe even the Warren Commission, did not know.

John Kennedy Jr had heard rumors that Carolyn Bessette liked to party, so he asked a friend who had connections in the Manhattan nightclub scene to investigate and report back to him. The friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, recalled that he did not deliver a “flattering” report. “She does a lot of blow, she stays out late, she knows how to play guys. Be careful.” John not only ignored this advice, he also told Carolyn everything he’d heard. She never forgave the friend. While preparing to launch his George magazine, John arrived at another important decision: to marry Carolyn. Their relationship had deepened in the year since Jackie’s death, and John had grown convinced that Carolyn was the one for him. He had fallen in love with her and considered her the first girlfriend who could see beyond the veneer of his fame and celebrity. Carolyn teased him and stood up to him because of her independent, passionate personality—qualities that John found attractive. Naturally, their relationship veered between extremes of emotion. Sometimes, they could not seem to take their hands off each other, while at other times, they fought with equal intensity. “They were fiery,” recalled Ariel Paredes, a mutual friend. “They would love hard and they would fight hard but they were very much a couple in love.” In November 1994, John officially introduced Carolyn to his only remaining immediate family members—his sister, Caroline, and her husband, Edwin Arthur Schlossberg. Carolyn moved into the 2,000-square-foot penthouse in Tribeca that John had purchased shortly after his mother died. 

After their wedding on September 21, 1996, which was kept secret from the press, on the remote Georgia island of Cumberland, Carolyn started to suggest changes in the George magazine staff, and John's partner Michael Berman didnt like her suggestions. He ripped into Carolyn, telling John, “Get her the hell out of the office.” John, caught off guard by Michael’s seemingly unrelated attack on his wife, rushed to her defense. “You have no idea!” John shouted back. “Don’t say that about her. She has legitimate friends in this office.” He told Berman that he was jealous because they liked her but did not like him. “She’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Why would you try to ruin that? I can’t tell her what to do.” Berman snapped. “Her behavior is deplorable!” he shouted. As if to mark the end of their partnership, John bought out Michael’s 25 percent share, thus assuming half ownership of the magazine. Michael Berman never spoke with John again.

For the most part, John liked to play sports and engage in physical activities with his male friends. But he’d confide in his female friends, and none more so than old pal Sasha Chermayeff. By the late 1990s, she had married and was raising a kid. John called her the morning after she gave birth to her first son. “Sasha, did you have your baby?” he asked. John was ecstatic when Sasha said yes and told him her son’s name: Phineas Alexander Howie. John was Phineas's godfather. Sasha said about the rumors of turmoil in John & Carolyn's marriage: "It’s impossible to know the intimate details of John’s and Carolyn’s private lives, but from all the available evidence, it appears highly unlikely that John was having an affair." In fact, he had confessed to several friends, “I wish I could cheat on her but I can't.” Carolyn was not opposed to having children but found John’s timing mind-boggling. “We are in the middle of complete chaos here,” she told him. “You are flying around trying to find funding for your magazine, we are dealing with your cousin Anthony dying, and you want to start a family.” Still, John could not understand her reluctance. “What does she want? Like her life is so hard.” John once complained to RoseMarie Terenzio. Carole Radziwill, however, saw no evidence that John and Carolyn’s marriage was careening toward a divorce. “There was nothing, not one conversation, nothing to indicate that there was an impending divorce,” she recalled. 

“It’s certainly easy to sit around and talk about arguments and fights, but very few people knew what was going on.” The last six months of their lives were stressful: they were fighting over many different issues, and the shadow of Anthony Radziwill’s death hung over them. Carole Radziwill used the metaphor of a husband and wife having an argument in a fast-moving car when they crash into a wall and are killed. No one knows how that conversation would have ended. The same was true of John and Carolyn, she maintained. “He loved her, and she loved him,” she reflected. “But they also drove each other crazy.” John confided to Robert Littell that he worried the magazine would likely come to an end. His efforts to keep George afloat had clearly taken a toll on him. According to Littell, “he'd gained weight, he looked tired, his hair was noticeably grayer.” Steve Gillon was and old acquaintance of John and visited John & Carolyn's Tribeca apartment. Gillon recalls: We walked down a busy street, populated with countless bars and restaurants, onto a dark side street with only one dimly lit streetlamp. “Why would John live here?” I thought, as I scanned a neighborhood full of abandoned warehouses. His building looked like an outdated industrial factory. We entered a small, nondescript lobby with linoleum floors. No doorman. No security. He used another key to call the elevator. John’s apartment was on the top floor of a nine-story building. The apartment was dark, so I did not get to see much other than some mismatched furniture. Somehow I’d imagined John living in a fancy high-rise with a doorman and dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows. But John was always the rustic type. He would have been perfectly comfortable living in a tent in Central Park. As we walked in, John told Carolyn that he had brought a friend over to read “the Hachette letter.” I told him that this letter would almost definitely serve as Hachette’s defense for refusing to renew the contract with George magazine. It represented a clear warning shot, putting John on notice that if he protested, they would go after him personally.

At this point, Carolyn jumped into the discussion, enraged. I knew that she was fiercely protective of John, but I never expected what followed: a string of expletives like I had never heard before. “John, they are trying to fuck you!” she shouted loudly. “Everybody fucks you, John, and you just take it! You let everybody fuck you, John. When are you going to grow some balls and start fighting back? You need to start fucking people back, John.” John solemnly guided me out of their apartment. He said he needed to clear his head. When we got to the curb, I shook his hand and turned right toward the civilization. John turned left down the dark street. After taking a few steps, I turned around and saw his silhouette, head down and hands in his pockets. It was the last time I would ever see him. John’s relationship with his sister hit rock bottom in the summer of 1999. The visits to see her and her children—Rose, Tatiana, and Jack—whom he adored, had become less frequent. It was not the relationship that either wanted, but John could not stomach being in the same room with his brother in law. 

Despite being under enormous pressure, John was still capable of gestures of empathy and generosity. I learned that firsthand. In the spring of 1999, I had developed a tremor in my left arm, along with unexplained twitches throughout my body. By this point, I had left Oxford and accepted a position as the dean of the Honors College at the University of Oklahoma. Theoretically, the move made it easier for me to commute to New York to tape my History Channel show, but since there were no direct flights, it actually took longer. John noticed something was wrong one day while we played racquetball. During our last game, roughly a week before his Buckeye accident, I held out my left hand and showed him the tremor. I put on a brave face, telling him I was too afraid to visit a doctor. Without prompting, John started talking about Anthony and how courageous he was in dealing with his horrible disease. John never told me that Anthony was dying. All he talked about was how Anthony refused to complain. He used the word 'tough' a handful of times, as if prodding me to follow Anthony’s example. On Friday, July 9, I finally decided to make an appointment to see the chief of neurology at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center. I had convinced myself that I suffered from Parkinson’s disease, but I decided to see a doctor who could confirm my self-diagnosis. At the end of the tests I sat on the table and asked the neurologist, “So do I have Parkinson’s?” He shook his head and said, “Well, I have good news and bad news.” The good news was that I did not have Parkinson’s; the bad news was that I could be in the early stages of ALS, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

After listening to my detailed description, John started speaking. I can still hear his voice. “For better or worse,” he said, “my family is well connected in New York medical circles. If there’s anything you need, you let me know.” There was then a pause. “Stevie,” he said, “I’ll take care of you.” To make sure that I heard it right the first time, he repeated. “I’ll take care of you, Stevie.” He then added: “And don’t worry about all that insurance stuff.” Only later did I discover that he suffered from Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder that required him to drink a disgusting concoction of iodine and seltzer. Apparently, anxiety only aggravated the problem. He was having trouble sleeping, often waking up at five o’clock, leaving him completely drained at work. John initially thought that Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone magazine, would at least offer constructive comments. “Politics doesn’t sell, it's not commercial,” Jann told him bluntly, suggesting that only 15 percent of any generation find government or public affairs interesting, but John dismissed the observation. He then proceeded to offer John a job at Rolling Stone. John suspected that Wenner simply did not want the competition. “John was hurt and felt betrayed by Jann,” a colleague recalled. Cousin Bobby Kennedy Jr., Robert and Ethel’s third oldest, praised John's ethics: “John has a tremendous sense of duty and responsibility. Whenever any of the cousins need help on one of their charity projects, John always participates.”

John F. Kennedy’s only son would grow into a remarkably well-adjusted adult, which no doubt owes a great deal to his attending psychological therapy continuously his entire life to alleviate his proclivity to depression. One question has crossed my mind more than a few times: How much of John’s personality was shaped by the trauma of his father’s death? For answers to that question, I turned to Dr. Susan Coates, clinical professor of medical psychiatry at Columbia University and a leading expert in childhood trauma. Coates pointed out that a large body of literature has identified general characteristics exhibited by children who experience trauma. She explained that three-year-olds do not understand the finality of death, but they “take their cues in understanding a traumatic loss from their primary attachment figure, who is most often their mother. In John’s case, he would have known that something very terrible had happened from observing his mother’s reaction.” For John, his father’s violent death marked the first in a series of traumatic events that would shape his personality. “In one fell swoop, he loses his father. He loses his mother in the sense that he has lost her emotional accessibility because she is in mourning. He also loses his home, the White House. It is an overwhelming trauma for the child.” Psychiatrists refer to this repetition as “strain trauma.” As Coates explained, “Although single traumatic events can have a big impact on a person, what most often shapes character are interpersonal experiences, that happen over and over again.” 

Robert T. Littell: John F. Kennedy Jr. met Carolyn Bessette in late 1994. Their attraction was instant and mutual. They began to date, secretly at first, I think because they both enjoyed the mystery. Carolyn was a blue-eyed public-school graduate from Greenwich, Connecticut, and was working for Calvin Klein at the time as a personal shopper. John first saw her while shopping for suits. He asked someone who she was, he got her phone number, and they went out on a first date in Tribeca. In one of his breaks during his long relationship with Daryl Hannah, John had enjoyed a fling with Madonna. Not a real fling, actually, more of a curiosity encounter. Madonna also alluded that sex with John had been “vanilla” for her standards and he called him “an innocent in bed.” John had dated over 50 women but he now knew he’d hooked with the one right away. By then I’d known John for twenty years. To his credit, John had a healthy libido but almost always resisted the sexual opportunities that came his way, preferring real relationships. And with people who completely lost their balance around him, he knew how to be polite but distant. It’s no coincidence that I met my future wife, Frannie, and my best friend, John, in my first week at Brown University. I met Carolyn Bessette for the first time at John’s apartment when they had just begun to get serious. He kept telling me that I should stay another minute because he had a surprise. The minute turned into an hour, but finally the buzzer rang. John became uncharacteristically jumpy. Bam! In walked the hottest girl I’d ever seen in my life. Tall, blonde, svelte, in loose-fitting jeans and a big blue shirt, she literally glowed.

Carolyn said hello to me and turned to John. From somewhere, he pulled out a cigarette—a sure sign he was a wreck because he rarely smoked. She was both shy and fierce, skilled in the acid-tongued banter that vulnerable people use to cover their soft spots. When Carolyn let down her guard, which wasn’t often, you could sense something wounded about her. I always chalked it up to the father who was so conspicuously absent from her life. Her vulnerability, while hidden beneath a tough, funny exterior, made her deeply empathetic to others. You had to meet Carolyn only for an instant to understand why she captivated John: She was almost preternaturally intense, with an electricity about her that nearly, though not quite, distracted you from her physical beauty. The qualities that John always liked in women—mystery, drama, irreverence and beauty—Carolyn had all in abundance. According to John, Carolyn resisted his proposal for an entire year. Playing hard to get? Maybe. I can’t imagine that too many women would have refused John's proposal, knowing he was madly in love. Which he was. Over July 4 in 1995, John and Carolyn went to Martha’s Vineyard to go fishing. “I wanted to go fishing like I wanted to cut off my right arm,” Carolyn confessed. John took her out on the boat, knelt down on one knee, and said, “Fishing is so much better with a partner,” as he pulled out a platinum band sparkling with diamonds and sapphires—a replica of his mother Jackie's wedding ring. Back at the Downtown Athletic Club, over an onion soup, John continued to assert that he didn’t have a doubt in his mind that he’d found the right woman. I know they were physically compatible because when I made the standard locker-room query about sex, John whispered blissfully, “Oh, my God,” and closed his eyes.

I gave him one piece of advice, which is that marriage is a decision. I said that once you make the decision to get married, you can’t spend your time longing for the greener grass over the fence. John replied, without any hesitation, “I know that.” By the time John got married, he was living in an apartment on North Moore Street in Tribeca. It was a beautiful place, though modest relative to his means. He was ready and eager to start a family when he met Carolyn. Though John might get momentarily angry when someone took advantage of him, he never held a grudge. But if Carolyn perceived that someone was using John, she went into battle mode. I’d hear about it when a banished friend would call me, trying to figure out why he’d been tossed aside from John's orbit. As 1998 progressed, John grew more frustrated with Carolyn’s troubled transition, but he also felt an enormous responsibility for her happiness. They lived out a complicated dynamic, resenting the demands each placed on the other while at the same time empathizing with the other’s frustrations. John felt hog-tied by not being able to solve Carolyn’s problems with the paparazzis. We talked a lot about this during the second year of their marriage. He hated the illogic of the whole thing: in his mind, they had so much.

There were so many reasons to be happy. But he also knew that Carolyn’s coping mechanisms had been overwhelmed. I listened and felt bad for both of them, but I told him it would get better. My wife Frannie had suffered a bout of depression in the early nineties, after quitting smoking, and she’d barely left the apartment for a year. I was confident that they’d come out the other side of this dark cloud, and John believed so, too, despite his frustration. John suffered from Graves’ disease, a thyroid disorder, for which he took iodine supplements and ginseng. He had constant emotional highs and lows, someone might even call it a bipolar disorder. After the plane crash, for reasons I don’t fully understand, John’s and Carolyn’s ashes were ceremoniously tossed into the Atlantic from a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Briscoe, off the Massachusetts coast near Martha’s Vineyard. Only close family attended the ceremony. John wasn’t in the Navy, he wasn’t a seaman, and he didn’t live in Massachusetts. Strange indeed there is no place to go and pay tribute to John.

John F. Kennedy Jr. had the potential to do great things. He embodied a unique convergence of factors: he was a good and smart person, endowed with the trust and goodwill—both inherited and earned—of most of the world. During his entire short life, he worked diligently to turn all that he’d been born with into something of value. I’d bet the ranch he would have become President, but there were other jobs and charity labor he could have done well, too. John mentioned that the United Nations had never had an American secretary-general. It’s a thought. I used to tell my wife that John would be there when his country needed him. John had a worldly and inclusive vision of America, a deep patriotism that was nonetheless open-hearted and sophisticated about the connectedness of the world’s nations. In this he was like his father, who in a speech not long after World War II spoke of the world’s need to “recognize how interdependent we are.” John had a marvelous pantheon of heroes, including Abraham Lincoln (John loved the quote “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”) When I think of John and his buddies, I see him in his favorite shirt, an old Racer X T-shirt. Racer X was the mysterious, long-lost brother of Speed Racer, the popular cartoon character of our youth. An orphan of sorts, Racer X wore a face mask to conceal his true identity. He was a top Formula One driver as well as a secret agent for the international police who would appear out of nowhere “to save his brother from dire circumstances,” according to the official Speed Racer history. Eventually Racer X stops racing to become a full-time secret agent. “No longer lured by fast cars, he turns his attention to the much more dangerous game of establishing world peace,” the story goes. Just before Racer X leaves racing for good, though, he vows to his unconscious brother (whom he’s just saved again) that he’ll “be near if you ever need help, no matter where you might go.” —John F. Kennedy Jr: America’s Reluctant Prince (2019) by Steven M. Gillon

John F. Kennedy Jr (George magazine, 1998): "Somehow I have been set up to be a great man. The thing is most of great men in history, my father included, could be shitheads as family men when they went home. I think it would be more interesting to be a good man than a great man. A bigger challenge for me would be to become a good man. And maybe not many people would know it, but I would have the satisfaction of knowing."

Monday, June 29, 2020

Murder Orthodoxies: A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn Monroe’s Death by Donald McGovern

Among the thousand or more books about Marilyn Monroe, there are certain strands – from coffee-table monographs to cultural criticism. One theme is so persistent, however, that it has become a sub-genre in its own right. Armed with dubious confessions and conspiracy theories, their authors argue that Marilyn’s untimely death was the result of foul play in high places, and these allegations have been seized upon by readers, as well as journalists and documentarians. A handful of writers have directly challenged these assumptions. In 2005, David Marshall collected the findings of some dogged fans in The DD Group: An Online Investigation Into the Death of Marilyn Monroe. More recently, the internet radio show Goodnight Marilyn has featured input from psychotherapist and Monroe biographer, Gary Vitacco-Robles, and forensic pathologist Dr Cyril Wecht. First-time author Donald McGovern follows in their footsteps with Murder Orthodoxies: A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn Monroe’s Death (2019), a rigorous excavation of the myths and legends, meticulously structured and packed with intricate detail over 566 pages. During the final months of her life, Marilyn was embroiled in a bitter legal battle with her studio; she was having daily sessions with Greenson, and relying on large doses of sleeping pills from her physician, Dr. Hyman Engelberg. She had suffered from depression for most of her life, and had a history of overdoses and suicide attempts. She may have met John and Robert Kennedy on just four occasions; their daily itineraries are in the public domain, and her routine is also well-documented. Only one sexual encounter with the president can be reasonably ascertained. Her own sporadic journal entries (collected in the 2010 book, Fragments) contain no references to either Kennedy. McGovern looks finally to her autopsy report, compiled by renowned pathologist Dr. Thomas Noguchi, for the true cause of her death. As a long-time drug user, Marilyn had a high tolerance which enabled her to ingest multiple pills in succession. Conspiracists have pointed to a cover-up, but as Noguchi pointed out, the toxicologist’s analysis of her liver and blood samples made further tests unnecessary. With dry wit and exhaustive scrutiny, McGovern exposes the insupportable and absurd aspects of what has nonetheless become an urban myth. McGovern’s book will not, of course, be the last word on the subject; but it offers a timely redress to decades of shallow sensationalism. And in an era when ‘fake news’ is poisoning the fabric of public life, McGovern’s systematic unravelling of the calculated distortions that have so clouded Marilyn Monroe’s legacy provides us with a very modern cautionary tale. Source:

At this point, the distortions of Marilyn Monroe's story and its connection with the Kennedys have become a grotesque black comedy. Heymann and Wolfe are probably two of the worst. But there is a whole bullpen full of them and they have created this cottage industry that the MSM just buys into. Its amazing that they still try and say RFK was in Brentwood the day Marilyn died. Because back in 2011, Susan Bernard published a book based on her father's photos of Monroe. In that book there is a two page spread of pictures of the Kennedy family at John Bates's ranch in Gilroy on that day.  There are about 11 pictures of RFK from morning to dinner time going horseback riding, swimming at the pool, and playing touch football. John Bates' son sent the photos to her on a DVD. And he pointed himself out in the pictures. That is what is called forensic evidence. Yet according to Heymann, Wolfe etc, while Bobby was playing football in Gilroy, he was also in Brentwood?  The pictures at the Gilroy Ranch of RFK.  When I saw those photos, it was like getting slapped in the face. These have clearly been suppressed in order for the MSM to prolong a piece of cultural dementia. McGovern's research in his book Murder Orthodoxies: A Non-Conspiracist’s View of Marilyn Monroe’s Death is amazing. Two general takeaways: The MSM have been successful in making us think the worst of JFK, RFK and Marilyn Monroe. Second, this Monroe case, which is not a conspiracy, gets media time, while the JFK and RFK cases, which were conspiracies, get less and less time. It's sad the business opportunists in the Monroe field have borrowed from the JFK case, and inserted pieces of heisted data to cheaply aggrandize their own business enterprise. Pretty disgusting if you ask me. The McGovern book is a real breath of sanity and fresh air in a field that has been dominated by con artists and clowns for too long. Monroe's performance in New York took place in May of 1962 at the Madison Square Garden. It was a fundraiser convention for the Democratic Party. Fifteen thousand people were in attendance. Monroe was one of about 14 stars who performed. When she left the stage, Monroe was escorted by her former father in law, then she went to the Arthur Krim's after party and after she met some fans back at her hotel. And that was it.

In addition to the Madison Square Garden birthday party baloney, it was also said that Marilyn had a roll in the hay with JFK in LA during the 1960 convention. Little problem there. Marilyn was not in LA at that time. She was filming a picture on the east coast. What McGovern did is he compared the calendars of JFK and RFK, and then contrasted that with two day by day books that were recently published about Monroe. When comparing it with an established record, anecdotal evidence has to be exceptional in quality and should have corroboration in a tangible way, or it should be discarded. The problem with the witnesses that these so-called writers use is they are a collection that would be laughed out of any legal proceeding. They would never make it to trial since they would be blown up at the deposition stage. Most of them would make Howard Brennan look OK. Peter Lawford was of sound mind when he said about Marilyn's phone call, 'I should have gone over to her place since she was not sounding good'. That means alone since as I prove, RFK was not in Brentwood, he was in Gilroy. It turns out that Marilyn did have a sort of diary, a planner agenda in loose leaf paper. It was recovered in one of her storage boxes after a dispute was resolved over her estate. It was nothing like Slatzer or Heyman said it was. The bulk of her estate was given over to the Strasberg family, since Lee Strasberg had been Monroe's acting coach. Those notebooks were compiled in a book called Fragments in 2010. There is no mention of Giancana, Roselli, Hoover, or Tony Accardo. Frank Sinatra is not in there and neither is Fidel Castro. Nothing is written about any romance with the Kennedy brothers either. (McGovern, pp. 264-271). But to show the reader just how off the cliff our culture is on this matter, Grandison’s book was published in 2012. Two years after Fragments. We have now entered the world of high camp. What McGovern does to the guy who really started all this rubbish, the late Robert Slatzer, should be taught in journalism classes. He actually found an archive of primary materials that exposes him completely as a fraud. And the worst part of it is that the book publishing company was a part of the fraud. McGovern exposes the Giancana book  as a farce in every major tenet. From what I read that was a book editor's scheme, the Giancana's first draft was not spicy enough. So they jazzed it up with all this phony stuff about Judith Exner, Joe Kennedy's bootlegging--absolute bunk-,  and how the mob help win Chicago, when in fact the actual mob controlled  districts had slightly less turnout than 1956.

The Mob in Hollywood (2012) by John William Tuohy presented Marilyn as a drug addled starlet helped by the Mafia. As McGovern explains, (p. 397) this is not the case. The two people who were most responsible for her success were Joe Schenck and her agent Johnny Hyde. The way this gets screwy is through the Brown-Bioff affair which is greatly misrepresented by the fiction writers. But it was really Johnny Hyde of William Morris Agency who got Marilyn Monroe into The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve. Those were two highly acclaimed films. Off of those he got her a long term contract with Fox. I knew Marilyn Monroe's publicist, Rupert Allan, whom I found to be an honest and sophisticated man (Rupert was also Princess Grace's publicist). Rupert told me he thought Marilyn died of an accidental overdose because she was taking pills and guzzling small bottles of Champagne she routinely had around her bedroom and lost track of what she was ingesting. As per Eunice Murray, this gaggle of Monroe conspiracists ignores what Murray originally said and they got her to change her story--that is a no no. The pictures of RFK do not lie. The newspaper report does not lie. The reports by the FBI before Marilyn was reported dead do not lie. And eleven people who had no interest in politics would not lie. Marilyn did not have any connection to Roselli and Giancana. Her career was not mob influenced. Marilyn did not sign her first film contract until late August of 1946 with Fox. She was represented by Harry Lipton of the NCAC agency. Johnny Hyde of William Morris bought her contract from Lipton. And then she was signed by Columbia. Johnny Hyde paid for Monroe to have plastic surgery on her jaw and a rhinoplasty, and arranged a bit part in the Marx Brothers film Love Happy (1950).

In Gary VItacco Robles' volume 2 bio, Icon, considered by many the best Monroe biography out there, or at least one of the top three, he has her attending with Joe DiMaggio, at the invitation of Dean Martin. Marilyn wanted to go as a way of thanking Martin for supporting her during the studio crisis on Something's Got to Give. Martin also wanted her to remarry DiMaggio. Which she agreed to while she was there. (p. 417). But further, Martin and Monroe were also discussing a future film project they might work on. There was no Red Diary of Secrets, and there was no press conference scheduled for Monday the 6th. These are myths piled onto a small hillock of them designed to create a paradigm, instead they have created toxic sludge. But then what about assistant DA John Miner and his “tapes”? Miner's story was heavily promoted by the LA Times. In 1962, Miner was part of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s medical-legal division. He observed Monroe’s autopsy and allegedly interviewed Dr. Greenson, who had made two streams of consciousness type tapes in the weeks before her death. Greenson made Miner promise never to reveal their contents. Miner so complied and the lawyer said he made extensive notes on them (McGovern, pp. 458-59). There were two things that were odd about his story. First, in the summer of 1962, Greenson was talking to Monroe every day, sometimes twice a day. So why would she need to make stream of consciousness tapes for him?In 2005, Miner released the notes to the LA Times. They treated it as a major feature story—posing no serious questions to the attorney. It was done so credulously that even someone as smart and experienced as Debra Conway of JFK Lancer bought it. All Miner had were notes. And the point here is that Miner told three stories about when he composed them. And here is the second problem inherent with Greenson:  if the doctor made Miner promise not to reveal their contents, why would he let him take contemporaneous notes? That would indicate Miner intended to make them public, which would be a violation of doctor/patient privilege. So Miner switched to, well, he did not make them in Greenson’s presence, but later; he made them many years after. But then, how could one recall them that closely? (McGovern, p. 461).

It turned out—as it almost always does—there was a cash motive behind Miner’s late arrival on the Monroe scene. In 1995, Miner had attempted to sell his notes to Vanity Fair. But in that version, he had only a few pages on a legal pad, which implies he made no contemporaneous notes and it is unlikely that he did them the same day (Lois Banner, Marilyn, p. 419; McGovern, pp. 463-64). Even at that, Miner tried to incite a bidding war by saying he had been offered six figures by a competitor. This was obviously not true. But it’s even worse than that. Miner had fallen on hard times. He had been terminated from the DA’s office, had his license suspended—for more than one reason—and declared bankruptcy (McGovern, p. 465; Banner, p. 419). This is why he needed payment for the notes. Further, although he told others he had interviewed Greenson, he likely had not (Banner, p. 419). After further discussion, and further revelations about his history of sexual harassment and obsession with enemas, Lois Banner concluded Miner had created the notes himself. Are we to believe that the LA Times did not know any of this in 2005? Miner was also involved in the inquiry—rather the cover up—of the Robert Kennedy assassination. As anyone who reads Lisa Pease’s book on that case, A Lie Too Big to Fail (2018), the alleged assassin of Robert Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan, could not have killed the senator. Further, Sirhan showed signs of being hypno-programmed that night. The man who all but admitted to hypnotizing Sirhan was William Joseph Bryan. It turned out that when Bryan died, the attorney for his estate turned out to be none other than John Miner. The night of Bryan’s death, Miner sealed Bryan’s home (Pease, pp. 67-69, 446). One of the most telling parts of Murder Orthodoxies is when McGovern uses the calendars of President Kennedy and Attorney General Kennedy and matches them with the two Monroe day-by-day books previously mentioned (pp. 176-86). Monroe met Robert Kennedy four times, each time was in public with other people around. President Kennedy met with Monroe on three occasions. At one of those occasions, in March of 1962 at Bing Crosby’s desert estate, there is plausible evidence they had some kind of dalliance. And that is it. Biographers Randy Taraborrelli and Gary Vitacco-Robles agree with this record.

McGovern addresses the questions that people like Margolis and Wolfe have posed about the autopsy. It was not uncommon to have ingested the pills Monroe did and not have them show up as residue in the stomach. Simply because Monroe’s stomach was empty and the organ keeps on working until the subject has passed on (McGovern, p. 483). Also, the manufacturer of Nembutal used a color dye that did not bleed from the gelatin capsules once swallowed, which explains why no dyes were found in her stomach (ibid, p. 482). Not only did Wecht agree with Thomas Noguchi’s autopsy, so did Dr. Boyd Stevens for the DA’s office review of the case in 1982. McGovern also proves through the barbiturate levels in Monroe’s liver and blood that she was not injected or given a “hot shot”. Today, Monroe’s doctors would have been placed on trial for their irresponsible overprescribing of pills and also for the dangerous combination the prescriptions created: Nembutal, Chloral Hydrate, Librium, Phenergan, and Triavil. The two drugs that killed her are the first two. Donald McGovern has written a quite commendable book. One that swims against some sick cultural tides. As he shows, no one was “protecting the Kennedys.” Those who used that rubric were engaging in the most outrageous practices of evidence manipulation and character assassination; not just of the Kennedys, but of Marilyn Monroe. Monroe was not a Mafia moll, nor was she a high level intelligence agent. McGovern has shown these to be part of a ludicrous and unfounded sideshow. There is a standard in writing nonfiction: sensational charges necessitate sensational evidence. That rule was completely discarded in this field a long time ago, specifically by money-grubbing Norman Mailer. This opened the door to the likes of Slatzer, Grandison, Heyman, Margolis, Wolfe, Smathers... supporting and aggrandizing each other. Don McGovern’s book applies the torch to their circus tent. Source:

Thursday, June 25, 2020

"Blonde", Marilyn Monroe, The Search for JFK

Finally we are being shown the most expected images of Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe. Months after we knew that the cuban actress was going to play the ambition blonde, the filming began. Ana de Armas is in charge of interpreting the ill-fated actress in the adaptation of Netflix’s acclaimed novel Blonde, written by Joyce Carol Oates and directed by Andrew Dominik. Filming of the film began in August, with Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale and Julianne Nicholson among the newly added cast members.

Ana de Armas, who has been photographed on the set of the shoot, she has a remarkable resemblance to Marilyn Monroe, a character that was already played in the film by Michelle Williams in My week with Marilyn, which earned him the Golden Globe for best actress, or by other actresses such as Kelli Garner or Theresa Russell in Insignificance (1985) directed by Nicholas Roeg. For this role, Ana de Armas had to channel Norma Jeane Mortenson and if the newly released images are anything to go by, she is going to truly embody the icon. Netflix has yet to announce a release date for “Blonde.” Source:

When best-selling author David Heymann's last book, Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love, came out, Kirkus Reviews said it was "a well-researched story". The popular Canadian magazine Maclean's praised Heymann's research, finding "his sources credible." The publisher, a subsidiary of media behemoth CBS, says Joe and Marilyn tells "the riveting true story" of the lusty, tempestuous and brief marriage between the Yankees slugger and the iconic actress. In May 2012, Heymann fell dead in the lobby of his New York City apartment building, but that presented no problem for his publisher, according to Emily Bestler, who edited his last four books. Bestler's mood changed when I told her I wanted to discuss numerous fabrications Newsweek had uncovered in Joe and Marilyn. She cut me off in mid-sentence, shouting that such questions were improper. She then declared that "this is getting ugly" and hung up. It's too bad CBS didn't want to hear more, because all the celebrity bios Heymann wrote for them—dealing with JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe—are riddled with errors and fabrications. An exhaustive cataloging of those mistakes would fill a new book. Heymann described a woman called Susan Sklover who worked as a White House masseuse while JFK was president. Heymann also describes President Kennedy's evaluation of Sklover as an "ordinary lover"—without any indication of how Heymann could have known this. Heymann wrote that Sklover's name was kept out of Secret Service logbooks, a variation of an assertion in his other books to explain his reliance on people for whom no records exist. Brown University, in an email, said it has no record of any student named Susan Sklover. An exhaustive search of public records turned up two women named Susan Sklover, who are aware of each other, but know no one else with that name. Both said they never spoke to Heymann or any researcher. Neither attended Brown, knew JFK Jr. or worked at the White House. The women were born in 1954 and 1960, which meant they were both children during the Kennedy administration. When a red flag is raised, publishers have an obligation to their readers to investigate. And when a sea of red flags floods their lobby, they need to start pulping the fiction. Source:

About the evolution of these "JFK scandal stories" over a number of years, people whose presence should have caused alarm bells to go off with intelligent observers are: Frank Capell, Robert Loomis, Ovid Demaris, Liz Smith, James Angleton, Timothy Leary, etc. These people who had agendas in mind when they got into this racket. Others, like Robert Slatzer or Ted Jordan, were just money grubbing hustlers. But the net effect is that by reinforcing each other, they became a business racket, a network creating its own echo chamber. A series of anti-Kennedy biographies began. That Marilyn Monroe's death was caused by her "involvement" with the Kennedys became a rather peculiar cottage industry. Egged on by advocates of Judith Exner (e.g. Liz Smith and Anthony Summers), this political and cultural time bomb landed in Seymour Hersh's and ABC's lap. When it blew up, all parties went into a damage control mode, pointing their fingers at each other. As we examine the sorry history of these industries, we shall see that there is plenty of blame (and shame) to be shared. The first anti-Kennedy book in this brood, although not quite a perfect fit into the genre, is The Search for JFK, by Joan and Clay Blair Jr. 

The book appeared in 1976, right after Watergate and the Church Committee hearings. First of all, the authors apparently accept the Washington Post version of Watergate–i.e. that Nixon, and only Nixon, was responsible for that whole range of malfeasance and that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein got to the bottom of it. The Blairs spend much of their time delving into two areas of Kennedy's personal life: his health problems and his relationships with the opposite sex. Concerning the first, they chronicle many, if not all, of the myriad of unfortunate medical problems afflicting JFK. Previous to this book, the public did not know that Kennedy's back problem was congenital. Second, the book certifies that Kennedy was a victim of Addison's disease, which attacks the adrenal glands and makes them faulty in hormone secretion. The condition can be critical in fights against certain infections and times of physical stress. I exaggerate only slightly when I write that the Blairs treat this episode as if Kennedy was the first discovered victim of AIDS. They attempt to excuse the melodrama by saying that Kennedy and his circle disguised the condition by passing it off as an "adrenal insufficiency." Clearly, Kennedy wanted to hide a rare and misunderstood disease that he knew his political opponents would distort and exaggerate in order to destroy him, which is just what LBJ and John Connally attempted to do in 1960.

The second major area of focus is Kennedy's sex life. The authors reference to Judith Exner, Mary Meyer, and perhaps Marilyn Monroe. Kennedy seems to have been attractive to females. He was appreciative of their overtures. There seems to me to be nothing extraordinary about this. Here we have the handsome, tall, witty, charming son of a millionaire who is going places. If he did not react positively to all the attention heaped on him, I am sure his critics would begin to suggest a "certain latent homosexual syndrome." But what makes this (lengthy) aspect of the book interesting is that when the Blairs ask some of Kennedy's girlfriends what his "style" was (clearly looking for juicy sex details), the answer often is surprising. For instance, in an interview with Charlotte McDonnell, she talks about Kennedy in warm and friendly terms adding that there was "No sex or anything" in their year long relationship. Another Kennedy girlfriend, the very attractive Angela Greene had this to say: Q: Was he romantically pushy? A: I don't think so. I never found him physically aggressive, if that's what you mean. He was adorable and sweet. In another instance, years later, Kennedy was dating the beautiful Barbara Beckwith. She invited Kennedy up to her apartment after he had wined and dined her. There was champagne and low music on the radio. But then a news broadcast came on and JFK leaped up, ran to the radio, and turned up the volume to listen to it. Offended, Beckwith threw him out. The Blairs' book established some paradigms that would be followed in the anti-Kennedy genre. First, and probably foremost, is the influence of Kennedy's father in his career. In fact, Joe Kennedy's hovering presence over all his children is a prime motif of the book. The second theme that will be followed is the aforementioned female associations. The third repeating pattern the Blairs' established is the use of Kennedy's health problems as some kind of character barometer.

John H. Davis writes the following: Kennedy met on April 20, 1962, with a Cuban involved in the unsuccessful underworld Castro assassination plot, a meeting that was not discovered until the Senate Committee on Intelligence found out about it in 1975. That Kennedy could have met with this individual, without knowing what his mission had been, seems inconceivable. Imagine the images conjured up by this passage to a reader who has not read the report. I had read the report and I thought I had missed something. How did I forget about Kennedy's private meeting with Tony Varona in the Oval office? JFK asks Varona why he couldn't get at Castro and says 'try it again.' When I turned to page 124 in the report, I saw why I didn't remember it. The meeting, as described by Davis, did not occur. At the real meeting are John Kennedy, Robert McNamara, General Lyman "and other Administration officials." Also in the room "were several members of Cuban groups involved in the Bay of Pigs." The report makes clear that this was the beginning of the general review of the Bay of Pigs operation that would, within three weeks, result in the Taylor Review Board which would then recommend reforms in CIA control of covert operations. But there is no Tony Varona and there is no hint that anything about the assassination of Castro was discussed.

I must point out Davis' discussion of JFK's Vietnam policy. In his hands, Kennedy turns into a hawk on Vietnam. Davis writes that on July 17, 1963, Kennedy made "his last public utterance" on Vietnam, saying that the U.S. was going to stay there and win (p.374). But on September 2, 1963, in his interview with Walter Cronkite, Kennedy states that the war is the responsibility of "the people of Vietnam, against the Communists." In other words, they have to win the war, not Americans. Davis makes no mention of this. Davis similarly ignores NSAM 111 in which Kennedy refused to admit combat troops into the war, integral to any escalation plan, and NSAM 263, which ordered a withdrawal to be completed in 1965. This last was published in the New York Times (11/16/63), so Davis could have easily found it had he been looking. In light of this selective presentation of the record on Vietnam, plus the acrobatic contortions performed on the Church Committee report, one has to wonder about Davis' intent in doing the book. I question his assertion that when he began the book he "did not have a clear idea where it would lead." So I was not surprised that in addition to expanding Exner's story, he uncritically accepted the allegations about Mary Meyer and Marilyn Monroe. It is interesting in this regard to note that Davis devotes many pages to JFK's assassination. He writes that Kennedy died at the "hands of Lee Harvey Oswald and possible co-conspirators". Going even further, he can state that: It would be a misstatement to assert that Deputy Attorney General Katzenbach and the members of the Warren Commission consciously sought to cover up evidence pertaining to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As the declassified record now shows (Vol. 4 #6 "Gerald Ford: Accessory after the Fact") this is just plain wrong. Davis then tries to insinuate any cover-up was brought on by either a backfiring of the Castro plots (Davis p. 454) or JFK's dalliance with Exner (p. 498). As wrongheaded and against the declassified record as this seems, this argument still has adherents, e. g. Martin Waldron and Tom Hartman. They refine it into meaning that the Kennedys had some kind of secret plan to invade Cuba in the offing at the time of the assassination. This ignores the Church Committee report, which shows that by 1963, Kennedy had lost faith in aggression and was working toward accommodation with Castro.

In their approach to JFK, Collier and Horowitz take up where the Blairs left off. In fact, they play up the playboy angle even more strongly than the Blairs. Both authors have advanced degrees from Berkeley. Both say they had done some solid academic work in their Ramparts days. Yet neither has any qualms about questioning the Judith Exner or Mary Meyer stories. After contemplating these stories, I thought to myself that JFK was never this open to his girlfriends. Perhaps maybe with Inga Arvad, who he wanted to marry, but very few others. So I flipped back to see who the source was. The footnote read "Authors' interview with Priscilla McMillan." I then remembered that, by this time, Priscilla had been classified by the CIA as a "witting collaborator." I also recalled that years later, Priscilla changed her "Platonic" relationship with JFK for the National Enquirer. She was now saying that young Jack Kennedy had actually made a pass at her.

A Question of Character, But Not Kennedy's: Which brings us to Thomas Reeves. By the nineties, the negative literature on the Kennedys had multiplied so much that it was possible just to put it all together and make a compendium of it. In 1991, Reeves did just that with his book A Question of Character. It obediently follows the path paved by its noted predecessors. In fact, many of his footnotes are from Davis, Collier and Horowitz. Although Reeves is another Ph. D., he never questions the faulty methodology the previous authors used. On the contrary, by ignoring the primary sources, he can actually state that JFK authorized the Castro plots, and that John H Davis is authoritative on the issue. Predictably, he completely buys into Exner's story and, like Liz Smith, tries to portray her as a victim of the Kennedy protecting "liberal media" (p. 424). He even endorses the Kitty Kelley 1988 People update of Exner's story, finding no inconsistencies between that and the 1977 installment. Any scholar who compromises this much, must have an axe to grind. So how ideological is Reeves? He tries to imply that Lasky's book on JFK, published in 1963, was banned shortly after Kennedy's death by the "liberal media". What he doesn't say is that it was reprinted in 1966. Reeves' method here is to basically combine the Davis book with the Collier-Horowitz book. From the former Reeves repeats the notion that Kennedy was a Cold Warrior not very different from Eisenhower or Nixon. Like Davis, Reeves performs gymnastics with the Cuba and Vietnam record in order to proffer this notion. In fact, Reeves is so intent on pommeling JFK that, at times, he reverses field and actually uses Bruce Miroff's Pragmatic Illusions, a leftist critique of the New Frontier, as a source. As Jim Garrison once noted, the more one scratches at these Minutemen types, the more their intelligence connections appear. James Spada quotes TV director Paul Wurtzel asking Peter Lawford "Did Oswald kill Kennedy or was it higher up?," Lawford (who was usually pretty cautious about the Kennedys) said, "It was higher up." Frank Capell had worked for the government in World War II, but was convicted on charges of eliciting bribes from contractors. After the war, in the Red Scare era, Capell began publishing a Red baiting newsletter, The Herald of Freedom. 

It was this experience that put him in a good position to pen his murderous smear of Bobby Kennedy. For as Donald Spoto reveals in his brilliant book of Marilyn Monroe, one of the people who relentlessly pushed Capell's fabricated smear was fellow FBI asset, Hoover crony, and Hollywood Red baiter Walter Winchell. William Sullivan (FBI Assistant in COINTELPRO) called Bobby a near-Puritan and then added: The stories about Bobby Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe were just stories. The original story was invented by a so-called journalist, a right-wing zealot who had a history of spinning wild yarns. It spread like wildfire, of course, and J. Edgar Hoover was right there, gleefully fanning the flames. (The Bureau: My thirty years in Hoover's FBI, William C. Sullivan, 1979). The Capell/Winchell/Hoover triangle sowed the seeds of this slander. But the exposure of this triangle does even more. In the Vanity Fair article in which Judith Exner dumped out the latest installment of her strange saga, Liz Smith revealed that she was an apprentice under Walter Winchell in New York (January 1997 p. 32). This may explain why she took up her mentor's cudgel. Capell's work is, as Spoto notes in his Afterword, a frightful piece of reactionary paranoia. But there are two details in his pat anti-Kennedy tract that merit mention. First, Capell is probably the first to propagate the idea that RFK was indirectly responsible for his brother's murder. He does this by saying (p. 52), that commie sympathizer Bobby called off the investigation of the shooting of General Edwin Walker in April of 1963, thus allowing that crazed Communist Oswald to kill JFK. What makes it so fascinating is that, through the FBI's own files, we now have evidence that Capell was deliberately creating a fiction: he had actual information that Oswald was not a communist, but a CIA agent.

Spoto notes that on August 3, 1962, Dorothy Kilgallen printed an item in her column saying that Marilyn was "vastly alluring to a handsome gentleman who is a bigger name than Joe DiMaggio". Spoto notes the source for Kilgallen's story as Howard Rothberg, the man named in the memo. This is interesting for more than one reason. First, Spoto writes that Rothberg was "a New York interior designer with no connection at all to Marilyn or her circle." This means that he was likely getting his "information" through a third, unnamed source. This is extraordinary. Anyone who has jousted with the FBI or CIA knows how difficult it is to get "sources and methods" revealed. In fact this is one of the big battles the ARRB had to fight with the FBI. Yet in this document, both the method and the source are open. But interestingly, right after Kilgallen printed her vague allusion, Winchell began his steady drumbeat of rumors until, as Spoto notes, he essentially printed Capell's whole tale. Rothberg was either a witting or unwitting conduit to the media for either Hoover or Angleton (or both). The quick Winchell follow-up would argue for Hoover. The Director would want someone else to lead the story before his man Winchell pushed it to the limit. Capell was drawn up on charges in 1965. The charges were rather fatal to the tales told in his RFK pamphlet. One would have thought this discreditation would enough to impale the slanderous tales. And it probably would have been had it not been for Norman Mailer. 

In 1973, Mailer published a book, Marilyn, (really a photo essay) with the assistance of longtime FBI asset on the Kennedy assassination Larry Schiller. He recirculated these tales again, inserting a new twist. He added the possibility that the FBI and/or the CIA might have been involved in the murder in order to blackmail Bobby Kennedy. In 1973, pre-Rupert Murdoch, the media had some decent standards. In fact, Mailer was excoriated for his baseless ruminations. In private, he admitted he wrote it to help pay off a tax debt. Mailer also made a confession in public. When Mike Wallace asked him on 60 Minutes why he had to trash Bobby Kennedy, Mailer replied "I needed money very badly." In 1993, Donald Spoto wrote his revealing bio of Monroe. After reading the likes of Haspiel, Slatzer and Summers, picking up Spoto is like going back into one's home after it has been fumigated. Spoto is a very experienced biographer who is not shy about controversy. His biographies of Alfred Hitchcock and Laurence Olivier reveal sides of their personalities that they tried to conceal. Spoto is also quite thorough in obtaining and then pouring over primary sources. Finally, he respects himself and his subject, which allows him to question sources before arriving at a judgment on someone's credibility. This last quality allowed him to arrive at what is the most satisfactory conclusion about the death of Monroe: accidental overdose (Spoto pp. 566-593). And the Kennedys had nothing to do with it. I do appreciate Spoto's good research, fine writing, and a clear dedication to truth. If any reader is interested in the real facts of Marilyn Monroe's life and death, this is the book to read.

Mega-Trasher, or Just Mega-Trash? Hersh's book promises to be the mega "trash Kennedy" book. And, like any hatchet man, Hersh tries to disguise his mission. In the Vanity Fair article, his fellow workers on the ABC documentary say, "there have been moments when, while recounting private acts of kindness by JFK, Hersh has broken down and wept." This from a man who intimidated witnesses with his phony papers and waved them aloft while damning the Kennedys with them. Robert Anson's article begs the next question: Who is Hersh? As is common knowledge, the story that made Hersh's career was his series of articles on the massacre of civilians at the village of My Lai in Vietnam. Hersh then wrote two books on this atrocity: My Lai 4 and Cover Up. There have always been questions about both the orders given on that mission and the unsatisfactory investigation after the fact. These questions began to boil in the aftermath of the exposure of the Bill Colby/Ted Shackley directed Phoenix Program: the deliberate assassination of any Vietnamese suspected of being a Viet Cong. These questions were even more intriguing in light of the fact that the man chosen to run the military review of the massacre, General Peers, had a long term relationship with the CIA. In fact, former Special Forces Captain John McCarthy told me that–in terms of closeness to the Agency–Peers was another Ed Lansdale. Domestic ops were banned by the CIA's original charter, although they had been done ever since that Agency's inception. But at Christmas, 1974, Hersh's stories were splashed all over the Times. Hersh won a Pulitzer for them. One would think this would be a strong indication of Hersh's independence from, even antagonism for the CIA. One would be wrong. As everyone familiar with the Agency's history knows, in 1974 there was a huge turf war going on between Angleton and Colby (formerly of the Vietnam Phoenix program). 

Which brings us to the nineties. Everyone knows that the broad release of Oliver Stone's JFK in 1992 put the Kennedy assassination back into play. The pre-release attack against the film was unprecedented in movie history. That's because it was more than just a movie. It was a message, with powerful political overtones that dug deeply into the public psyche: a grand political conspiracy had killed the last progressive president. That Vietnam would have never happened if Kennedy had lived. That JFK was working for accommodation with Castro at the time of his death. That the country has not really been the same since. The preemptive strike was successful in slowing up the film's momentum out of the starting block. But the movie did increase the number of people who believe the case was a conspiracy into the ninety-percent range. The following year, in anticipation of the 30th anniversary of the murder, Gerald Posner got the jump on the critics with his specious book on the case. The media hailed him as a truth-teller. The critics were shut out. No nonfiction book in recent memory ever received such a huge publicity campaign as Posner's–and deserved it less. This blurring of tabloid and journalistic standards inevitably leads to a blurring of history. Disinformation feeds on disinformation, and whatever the record shows is shunted aside as the tabloid version becomes "accepted history," to use Davis' phrase (p. 290). But beyond this, there is an even larger gestalt. If the Kennedys were just shady types or CIA hawks, then what difference does it make in history if they were assassinated? For the CIA, this is as good as a rerun of the Warren Commission, since the net results are quite similar. The standard defense by these purveyors is that they go on the offense. 

Anyone who objects to their peculiar blend of misinformation, or questions their sources or intent is labeled as "protecting the Kennedys," or a "disappointed Kennedy fan". Tactically, this is a great cover to avoid the questionable credibility of people like Joseph Alsop, Priscilla Johnson McMillan or Robert Slatzer. It also avoids acknowledging their descent into the ranks of Hoover and Angleton. So Where are the Kennedys? In a deeper sense, it is clear now that no one in the major media was or is "protecting the Kennedys." The anti-Kennedy genre has now become self-sustaining. Anthony Summers used the Collier and Horowitz book for Goddess (2007). 

Summers even uses Priscilla McMillan to connect JFK with Monroe! (p. 244) Will Liz Smith call him on this? Will Ben Bradlee? Far from "protecting the Kennedys" the establishment shields these writers from potentially devastating critiques. The reason being that the Kennedys were never part of that establishment. No one protected JFK in Dallas. No one protected RFK in Los Angeles. The ensuing investigations did everything they could to protect the true murderers. People like Slatzer, Davis, and now Hersh have made their living off of it. The Kennedys have sustained many tragedies. Andy Harland called up Steve Jones after reading his article in The Humanist (Probe Vol. 4 #3 p. 8). He was an acquaintance of Peter Lawford's who talked to him a few times about the assassination. Jones' notes from that phone call includes the following: Lawford told him that Jackie knew right away that shots came from the front as did Powers and O'Donnell. He said shortly after the funeral the family got together.... Bobby told the family that it was a high level military/CIA plot and that he felt powerless to do anything about it.... the family always felt that JFK's refusal to commit to Vietnam was one of the reasons for the assassination.... Lawford told him that the kids were all told the truth as they grew up but it was Teddy who insisted that the family put the thing to rest. The Kennedys are silent; they won't sue, so if it's in print it must be true. As a corollary, this shows that the old adage about history being written by the victors stands. In this upside down milieu, all the Kennedys' sworn enemies can talk to any cheapjack writer with a hefty advance and recycle another thrashing. Mobsters, CIA officers and their assets, rabid right-wingers and criminals. Escorted by these opportunist writers, they now do their dances over the graves of the two men they hated most in life and can now revile in death. There is something very Orwellian about this of course.

The image of JFK on national television giving hell to the steel companies; of Kennedy staking out his policy for detente at American Universities; of RFK grilling Sam Giancana and Jimmy Hoffa; of Bobby going through the personnel list at the State Department to be sure there was no Dulles still on the payroll; these images have to be erased. Most of all, the RFK of 1965-68, angry at the perversion of his brother's policies, must be subverted. Who of the elite would want people to remember RFK saying these words: What the Alliance for Progress has come down to then is that the native rulers can close down newspapers, abolish Congress, fight religious opposition, and deport your political enemies, and you'll get lots of help, but if you fool around with a U.S. oil company, we'll cut you off without a penny. Is that right? By 1963, after the Bay of Pigs, the Missile Crisis and the cries for escalation in Vietnam, JFK was moving toward the Sorenson-Schlesinger side of the White House. By 1968, RFK was further to the left than that, being hooked up with labor leaders like Walter Reuther and Cesar Chavez. As Otis Chandler, a firm member of the establishment, said after Bobby's death: "I guess there's no one to stand up for the weak and the poor now." That memory is now being replaced by those of RFK cavorting with Monroe on the beach; of JFK drinking martinis with Monroe; and the Kennedys trying to take Castro down. In the Anson piece, Hersh talks about changing the way people think about the Kennedys. Talk about reversing the Church Committee. These people could teach Orwell something. What will the future bring? Will Hersh now say that he was duped on the Monroe docs but now he has the real McCoy: it was Jayne Mansfield all along. With Liz Smith as the moderator, satire is impossible in this field.

But down deep, submerged but still present, there is a resistance to all this. The public knows something is wrong. CBS and the New York Times conducted a poll which asked the respondents: If you could pick a President, any President, which one would you choose to run the country today? The winner, in a landslide, was John F. Kennedy who doubled the tally of the second place finisher. In 1988, Rolling Stone surveyed the television generation, i.e. the below forty group, on their diverse opinions and attitudes. Their two most admired public leaders were Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, dead twenty years before, when many of those polled were infants or not even born. This holds not just in America. In Pete Hammill's 1995 book Piece of Work, he relates an episode in his life when his car broke down in the Mexican countryside. He walked to a poor, "Third World" style hut which had no amenities except a phone. Before he left, he thanked the native Mexicans who lived there and took a look around the dilapidated, almost bare interior, featuring a frame photo of John F. Kennedy. It's that international Jungian consciousness, however bottled up, ambiguous, uncertain, that must be dislodged. In a sense, this near-maniacal effort, and all the money and effort involved in it, is a compliment that proves the opposite of the position being advanced. This kind of defamation effort is reserved only for the most dangerous foes of the status quo, as Thomas Jefferson or Huey Long. In a weird sort of way, it almost makes one feel for the other side. It must be tough trying to control any ghosts rising from the ashes. Which, of course, is why Hersh has to hide his real feelings about his subject. That's the kind of threat the Kennedys posed to the elite: JFK was never part from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); Bobby Kennedy hated the Rockefellers (Thy Will be Done pp. 538-542). For those sins, and encouraging others to follow them, they must suffer the fate of the Undead. And Marilyn Monroe must be thrown into that half-world with them. At the hands of Bob Loomis' pal, that "liberal" crusader Seymour Hersh. As Robert Anson (Vanity Fair editor) says, Hersh must just want the money. My feeling is that people who have perverted the historical record have, in an inexcusable way, pardoned the murderers. Source:

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Sex in decline in USA, David Lynch's sex symbolism, Jim Morrison & Pam ("a nice couple")

Sex in America: 1 in 3 young men aren’t having it! The study, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, documents a steady decline: In 2002, 19 percent of men reported not having sex within a year. In 2018, that increased to 31 percent of men. While the majority of study participants were sexually active with about one partner, young Americans report having less sex over the past two decades. These changing sex trends aren't trivial — research shows sex is positively associated with longevity, life satisfaction, lower blood pressure, and well being. If people aren't having enough sex, it could influence mental and physical health. "These findings deserve attention because sexually intimate relationships are important for many — though certainly not all — people's well-being and quality of life," co-author Peter Ueda, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute.

The study—To determine how much and how frequently people in the US are having sex, researchers harnessed data from the General Social Survey. This is given every other year — this study documents from 2000 to 2018. Researchers asked questions like: “About how often did you have sex during the last 12 months?” with response options ranging from “not at all” to “more than 3 times a week." They also asked: “How many sex partners have you had in the last 12 months?” Choices ranged from “no partners” to “more than 100 partners.” The team stratified sexual frequency into four categories: sexually inactive (no sex during the past year), once or twice per year, 1 to 3 times per month, and weekly or more. More men than women reported having no sexual partner and 3 or more partners. Meanwhile, fewer men reported weekly or more sexual activity and one sexual partner. Across the entire age range, men reported dwindling sex lives. At the start of the study, 9.5 percent of men across the age range were sexually inactive. By the end, that number grew to 16.5 percent, with most of the increase occurring between 2012 to 2014. The percentage of 18-to 24-year-old men who were sexually inactive in the past year increased from 18.9 percent to 30.9 percent when the study concluded.

In contrast, sexual activity in the total age range remained stable among women throughout the study. However, when broken down by age group, sexual inactivity increased among women aged 25 to 34. All women reported less sex weekly, a trend that was driven largely by younger women. Meanwhile, while women reported less sex, they did report an increase in sexual partners. Among women, there were no strong links observed between sexual inactivity and employment status or income level. Scientists haven’t pinned down what's causing the stark sexual decline, but the study's authors say the trend may stem from a range of factors: changing sexual norms, stress, the rise of social media, smartphones, time spent online, and busyness of modern life crowding out intimate relationships. Interestingly, one might think the rising popularity of online dating would increase people's sexual activity and number of partners. This study doesn't show that to be the case. Beyond the root causes of sexual activity — or inactivity — Ueda hopes to determine to what extent sexual inactivity is associated with dissatisfaction. Some people may choose to abstain from sex, while others' lack of sexual activity is a source of stress and worry. Ueda also stresses that it's time for more open, nuanced public discussion not only about having sex but not having it. "Sexual inactivity and potential dissatisfaction with it seem to be sensitive topics," Ueda says. "While much work has been done to promote a frank and nuanced discussion about sex and sexual activity, it would be in our best interest to also be better at talking about not having sex." Source:

In Blue Velvet (1986), Lynch's main characters should definitely be looked at as archetypes rather than real people. The film has a lot to say about gender roles and gendered gazes, and accomplishes it by having characters representing different places on the spectrum of gender. For example, Jeffrey and Sandy represent neuters; their relationship is so bland and sexless. Frank (Dennis Hopper)  isn't just hypermasculine but also hyperfeminine; he wears lipstick and weeps openly at songs. He's the uber-gender. Even the name Frank Booth is a euphemism for the male and for the female genetalia, respectively. The gas mask that he carries around and inhales from shows a kind of vaginal envy; it wraps around his face like he was performing oral sex on a woman, compare this to a pipe which is the more obvious choice for showing drug consumption and also very phallic. It's like he carries it around as a substitute for having a vagina.

In Inland Empire (2006), Nikki (Laura Dern), who has a jealous husband, immerses herself in a film role and her excessive identification with the character (and possible related infidelity) pull her into the subjective experience of the character as a version of her life and what she knows of her family history (Susan Blue trapped in the cinema theatre and Nikki's personal and epigenetic experiences as the story). From here she begins to glimpse a deep family history version of the underlying "folk tale" which serves as an origin of an embodiment of murderous jealous rage (the Phantom), an access to the male side of the experience, and an understanding that this all comes from a primal place of the collective unconscious (the rabbit room) where an eternal play of timeless torment plays out. Through the process of cinema, she is able to ritually sacrifice herself, take on a male aspect (the gun), find the room, eradicate the evil engram (an engram is a unit of cognitive information inside the brain, theorized to be the means by which memories are stored), the phantom, and unify with the damaged feminine victims bringing love and forgiveness. The universal field is healed of it's grievous flaw, or at least she had some good self therapy. There are so many layers to process in this, my favorite film, but I think the most emphatic "story" is that of humanity haunted by a pattern of jealous violence and a woman who braves a mystical trial to set things right. Source:

-Patricia Butler: What would Jim and Pam make of the frenzy that still surrounds them? What of the theories buzzing around their lives, their relationship, their significance? The people who met them once or twice and now speak casually and familiarly of and for them? The May 1970 issue of Show magazine featured rock stars and their favorite clothing designers. Jim, of course, chose Pamela and her boutique Themis, saying in the article, “Pamela’s clothes are weapons, ornaments, and protection.” I suppose he had no way of knowing at the time that he and Pamela would have more need of protection from the prying eyes, pointing fingers, and lurid imaginations of strangers decades after their deaths than they did at the time. I had the opportunity to interview Tere Tereba, who was part of that Show magazine article. She designed the original clothing for the store, and became good friends with both Jim and Pam. In fact, she visited Jim and Pam in Paris and left them just two days before Jim’s death. "Pam Courson cared deeply for Jim and did want only the best for him," Tere Tereba said: "Jim always did what she said: he adored and trusted her so much! They loved each other and had great plans for the future."

I asked Tere Tereba how she thought history should remember the pair. She thought about it a second and then said, “They were just a really nice couple.” And I think she’s absolutely right. They were just a really nice couple and that’s how people should remember them. But they won’t. Because the thing about the dead is that they become blank screens upon which the living may project all their own personal hopes and dreams and imaginings without fear of contradiction. For all the quiet times Jim and Pam spent in private, it is the act they put on for the world—the dangerous rock star and his fiery girlfriend—that people will remember and judge and build upon for generations to come. And maybe that’s okay. It was Jim and Pam’s conscious decision to play the roles they did to distract public eyes from their relatively quiet private lives. Maybe their only mistake was in trusting the rest of us to understand that it was, after all, just an act. From what people told me, Judy Courson was pretty enough, but Pamela was a knockout. Judy had brown hair and didn't fare well in comparison with Pamela. By the way, Judy was only Pamela's half sister. It seems that Penny had Judy as a result of a liaison with a soldier when she was about 16. Corky adopted Judy after he married Penny and Judy's birth certificate was altered to list Corky as the father. Jim was driven nuts by all the women he fell in love with and actually respected honesty more than any other feature. The bone stuck in the throat of Patricia Kennealy that continually rails about Pamela's good looks, which were indeed very pretty, amounts to outraged insecurity.

-Gary James: What did you think of Jim Morrison? What was your impression of Jim Morrison?

-Ellen Sander: Jim was a very shy person. I kind of felt a certain understanding about him 'cause he was primarily a writer. I think that's how he liked to think of himself. He was just a very shy kind of person, but he was also an actor and a performer. He had a very well developed stage presence. As with many performers, his private life was very different. He was also a downstairs neighbor of one of my good friends, so I saw him on occasion there where he lived. So, I feel like he was shy and since the success of The Doors happened so quickly and so extremely, it was kind of hard for him to adjust. So, he spent a lot of time feeling oddly out of place and he would just put on his persona to deal with it. Source: