Monday, October 25, 2021

The Velvet Underground (2021) by Todd Haynes

In the new Apple documentary "The Velvet Underground" (2021), Lou Reed says he made $2.35 royalties for his pre-Velvet song "Leave Her For Me", more than he made with the Velvets. But The Velvet Underground is, along with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, one of the three seminal groups in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. If you want to see the Velvets in their prime performing “What Goes On” or “White Light/White Heat” in a steamy rock club, or get a taste of what it was like to see the Exploding Plastic Inevitable at the Dom in New York City in 1966, you’re out of luck, because those clips basically don’t exist. It’s quite an irony considering that Warhol, the band’s mentor, was notorious for filming everything around him. The Velvet Underground, whose music was a mesmerizing midnight trance-out, had no radio niche, no publicity, no “media,” no backstage verité Pennebaker or Maysles. Todd Haynes appears to have vacuumed up every last photograph and raw scrap of home-movie and archival footage of the band that exists and stitched it all into a coruscating document that feels like a time-machine kaleidoscope that immerses you in the band but still leaves them slightly out of reach. The film interviews Reed’s sister, Merrill Reed Weiner, who sets us straight on the legendary tale of how the teenage Lou’s suburban Long Island parents okayed his getting electroshock therapy because they wanted to shock the homosexuality out of him. (She says that’s untrue.) 

Lou the subversive guitar bad boy and Cale the debonair experimentalist came together like an acid and a base. Cale is the one whose story the documentary feels organized around. And that’s not just because Cale (now 79) is interviewed at length while Lou Reed, who died in 2013, couldn’t be. No, it’s as if Haynes wanted the Velvets to be an art band even more than he wanted them to be a rock ‘n’ roll band. The Velvets’ second album, “White Light/White Heat”, is written off in the movie as an angry amphetamine binge of a record. But out of that came drama: Lou Reed fired John Cale, just as he had already fired Andy Warhol. That sounds like reckless Lou, and that’s certainly the way the documentary presents it. But maybe Reed knew just what he was doing. He replaced Cale with Doug Yule, and together they made what I think is the group’s greatest album, “The Velvet Underground” (1969). It’s a masterpiece of religious street passion, yet the movie kind of brushes by it. Through it all, the Velvets, and perhaps only the Velvets, have remained perpetually hip. Source: 

Lou Reed enjoyed a solo career renaissance primarily by passing himself off as the most burnt-out reprobate around (and it wasn't all show by a long shot). People kept expecting him to die, so he perversely came back, not to haunt them, but to clean up. The central heroic myth of the sixties was the burnout. Lou Reed was necessary because he had the good sense to realize that the whole concept of sleaze, of decadence, degeneracy, was a joke and he turned himself into a clown. In fact, a large part of Lou's mythic appeal has always been his total infantilism. Like Jim Morrison, Lou Reed realized the implicity absurdity of the rock 'n' roll bète-noire badass pose and parodied it, deglamorized it. Lou Reed, like all the heroes, is there for the beating up. They wouldn't be heroes if they were infallible, they wouldn't be heroes if they weren't miserable wretched dogs, the pariahs of the earth.  –"Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" (2013) by Lester Bangs

“All the books about me are bullshit,” Lou Reed once said, when asked about Victor Bockris' biography, although he reckoned there were lots of truth in Bockris' book. In a breezy tone, Reed’s first wife Bettye Kronstad wrote of the five-year period, 1968-1973, between the end of the Velvet Underground and Reed’s third solo album Berlin. Kronstad makes an effort in Perfect Day to contextualize what’s happening with their personal life with the goings-on of Reed’s career. But at its most interesting and tragic, this book serves to inject the well-worn myths of Lou Reed the legend with humanity, and offers an insider’s perspective to Reed’s losses of personal control, his fears and anxieties, particularly during the Transformer era. With a legacy of four commercial failures to his name, Reed didn’t exactly emerge as a hot property. Wearied from his Velvets experience and unsure about his next move, Reed ended up moving back to his parents’ house on Long Island and started a relationship with theatre student Bettye Kronstad. Bettye found him a kind, gentle, sensitive guy who nicknamed her 'Princess' and who telephoned her in the wee hours talking about his dreams of becoming a writer. In fact, they became serious and Bettye spent the first year she dated him living at his parents’ Long Island home. 

Bettye Kronstad: "At seventeen, Lou’s parents had sent him to see a psychiatrist who prescribed EST for his depression and mood swings. During the summer of 1959, he was treated at Creedmoor State Psychiatric Hospital in Queens, New York, where the EST treatments were administered without an anesthetic. At that time, the procedure involved putting him on a wooden gurney with a rubber block between his teeth. This was an experience that scarred Lou for life. It is commonly thought that EST was prescribed to Lou in order to cure him of his ‘bisexual tendencies,’ but he never told me this or even alluded to it. I think he told journalists this to be more sympathetic to the gay community, and in part to broaden his appeal to that audience. From the beginning of our relationship I told Lou in no uncertain terms that if I saw a needle anywhere near him, I would—without fail—leave him. Hard drugs were his Achilles’ heel, and I knew they would destroy him if he started taking them again." 

Shelley Albin: "Lou Reed is a very fifties type guy. He's ultimately straight. He wants his wife, Sylvia, who is a very fifties type girl, to take care of him." As much as Reed's sexuality was pondered, he had a long time girlfriend in Shelley Albin, and married three times. Reed even admitted his heterosexuality when initiated his relationship with Sylvia Morales. Reed's Ecstasy album addressed the failed marriage to Sylvia Morales (in the songs Baton Rouge and Tatters - she wanted kids, Reed obviously did not) and then he came with Set The Twilight Reeling, which dealt with his need to become "the newfound man, and set the twilight reeling" with Laurie Anderson.

Lou Reed was a self-sabotaging, widely disliked man who gave voice to the unwanted and despised. Like Danny Fields said once: "poor Lou - his act worked too well." Humanity brought out the worst in him, and he returned the favor. Anthony DeCurtis: "There was an incredible level of fear of abandonment and terror and that's what motivated his violence—coming out of a kind of desperation, it was less about hostility than about a kind of self-hatred and fear." As Lester Bangs wrote shortly after his first encounter with Reed: "I never met a hero I didn´t like. But then, I never met a hero. But then, maybe I wasn´t looking for one." "I just hope it doesn’t start getting thought of as this terrible down death album, because that’s not at all what I mean by it,” Lou Reed said of "Magic & Loss" (1992) to the Chicago Tribune: "I think of it as a really positive album, because the loss is transformed magically into something else." In "Warrior King," Reed channels his anger into a fantasy of omnipotence: "I wish I was a warrior king; inscrutable, benign / With a faceless charging power always at my command / Footsteps so heavy that the world shakes / My rage instilling fear." Reed feels his loss, but has reached a level of acceptance: "My friends are blending in my head / They're melting into one great spirit / And that spirit isn't dead."

Ellen Willis, the first rock critic for The New Yorker wrote “The Velvet Underground” essay, included in fellow critic Greil Marcus’ book “Stranded” (1979). “The songs on ‘The Velvet Underground’ are all about sin and salvation,” Willis begins. The crux of Willis’ essay is that Lou Reed managed to exist in that rare space between irony and sentimentality, to avoid slipping into either the snarl or the smile. His music was an exercise in rejection, but not the knee-jerk anti-establishment hostility. It’s a rejection of rejection, a fight against both the nihilism of punk and the boppy, commercial vibes of pop music. “For the Velvets, the aesthete-punk stance was a way of surviving in a world that was out to kill you,” Willis writes. “The Velvets were not nihilists but moralists.” Willis explains, “Their songs are about unspeakable feelings of despair, disgust, isolation, confusion, guilt, longing, relief, peace, clarity, freedom, love—and about the ways we habitually bury them from a safe, sophisticated distance in order to get along in a hostile, corrupt world. Rock & Roll makes explicit the use of a mass art form was a metaphor for transcendence, for connection, for resistance to solipsism and despair.”

Shelley Albin said about Reed's sexuality: "I think by nature he was more driven to women because of his relationship with his mother. That’s what he thought was normal. It was comfortable.” Reed, Shelley said, was “a romantic at heart. He could be very sweet. He’s probably the only person who ever literally gave me a heart-shaped box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. But he wasn’t happy unless he made somebody more miserable than he was. Misery made for his best work, whether it came from me or somebody else. He wasn’t anybody I wanted to live with and put up with. It wasn’t worth it. It was too much grief.” As for his reputation as a sexual player, that, too, was something of an image. “I got the impression that he never really had a girlfriend in high school,” she said. “I think he put on an aura later of being a ladies’ man. Hardly at all. That didn’t fit with the guy I met. He didn’t do as much in college as he pretended later. I met him after he’d been at college for a year. He was awkward. Boys I went out with in high school were smoother.” “I liked his brain,” Shelley said. “We could talk for hours and hours, days and days. We connected. He was an incredible romantic. So we connected on that level. It was very much a creative-mind thing. I was crazy about him. He was a great kisser and well coordinated. His appeal was of a very sexy boy/man. Lou was very insecure, and he needed a nurturer.” Lou Reed treated relationships, sex, and masculinity with a sense of simultaneous distance and intimacy. Just as femininity, sex clubs, and drugs were something to look at, so was masculinity. Reed’s explorations of identity  evolved  from rocker to strung-out junkie to effeminate songster to middle-aged intellectual. Lou Reed's quixotic/demonic relationship to sex was clearly intense. No one understood Lou's ability to make those close to him feel terrible better than the special targets of his inner rage, his parents, Sidney and Toby. Lou dramatized what was in the 1950s suburban America his father's benevolent dominance into Machavellian tyranny, and viewed his mother as the victim when this was not the case at all. The fact is Sidney and Toby Reed adored and enjoyed each other. After twenty years of marriage, they were still crazy about each other." –"Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story" (2014) by Victor Bockris 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Bombshell, The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe

Bombshell (2021) by Mike Rothmiller is both unconvincing as an argument and poorly written in general. And no, if he took this to any court he would not get a conviction, unless they chose to investigate all of his crooked dealings as a cop and prosecute him instead. A former (somewhat) bad cop talking about other somewhat bad cops at LAPD OCID while greatly exaggerating his importance and 'insider' knowledge writes on a key historical event about which we can only take his word. He read mystery police files from filing cabinets while not busy performing his primary task of sharpening pencils at OCID headquarters. Without vetted copies of documents, without recorded audio proof of his revelatory {if accurate} conversation with Peter Lawford, around which the substance of this narrative hinges, we can not evaluate his veracity. It's all hearsay. Unfortunately all of the pictures/taped recordings the author has seen or heard have not been shared to prove his statements. And all of the main characters are of course long dead so it is easy to make claims which they cannot refute or confirm. We are given a lot of information about gangsters and LAPD officers that I think we could have done without. There isn't a single photograph in the book apart from the cover photo of Marilyn. 

Despite all the gallons of ink that have been spilled about his “growth” and “evolution” in the groovy Sixties, Bobby Kennedy was supposedly a homophobe and an anti-Semite. From Roy Cohn to Bayard Rustin to J. Edgar Hoover, he seemed to despise gays. As for Jews, Bobby took after his dear old dad, Joe Kennedy, who once described Jews as “pants pressers,” among many other slurs. In 1962, Bobby was assigned to arrange for Marilyn Monroe to sing at JFK’s 45th birthday fundraiser at Madison Square Garden. Then Bobby called up the movie producer she was working for, a Jewish lawyer named Henry T. Weinstein, and demanded she be given a couple of days off. The executive balked, Weinstein later told Seymour Hersh, and Bobby reacted in his usual way. “He called me a ‘Jew bastard’ and hung up the phone on me.”

Among the slew of books purporting to solve the ‘mystery’ of Marilyn’s untimely death, only a few are worth the paper they were written on. David M. Marshall’s The DD Group is one, and Donald R. McGovern’s Murder Orthodoxies another. Gary Vitacco-Robles, author of Icon : The Life, Times, and Films of Marilyn Monroe, will publish his own interpretation in 2022. The remainder, unfortunately, tend to propagate wild conspiracy theories involving the Kennedys, the Mafia etc. Bombshell has been featured in UK tabloids The Sun and the Daily Mail. The blurb reads: "With his training and investigator’s knowledge, Rothmiller used that confidential information to get to the heart of the matter, to the people who were there the night Marilyn died – two of whom played major roles in the cover-up – and the wider conspiracy to protect the Kennedys whatever the collateral damage." Curious to know more about Rothmiller, I consulted McGovern’s Murder Orthodoxies. If you’re considering purchasing Bombshell, either for its low price and eye-catching cover (featuring a classic 1953 portrait by LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt), I suggest you read McGovern’s thoughts on the author first.

Donald  McGovern: “Prior to the publication of Donald Wolfe’s The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe, his 1998 exposé about Marilyn’s murder, only four persons actually claimed to have seen Marilyn’s diary and read the words she committed in longhand to its pages: Robert Slatzer, Jeanne Carmen, Ted Jordan, and Samir Muqaddin [aka Lionel Grandison], a clerk in the county coroner’s office. Wolfe added a fifth name: Michael Rothmiller, a Los Angeles police detective. Donald Wolfe, according to his source notes, interviewed Michael Rothmiller in 1998. Rothmiller, a Los Angeles Police Department detective, was a member of the Organised Crime Intelligence Division (OCID), otherwise known as LAPD’s infamous Gangster Squad. In 1978, Rothmiller worked in the OCID file room which housed confidential data including the police department’s files regarding Marilyn and the LAPD’s investigation into her death. Those files, according to Rothmiller, contained not Marilyn’s original Red Book of Secrets but a copy thereof. Neither Rothmiller nor Wolfe offered any statements regarding the copy’s type or when the copy was made. In 1982, making copies of documents and books was not as easy and convenient as it is today or as it was in 1998. Rothmiller told Wolfe that Marilyn’s diary was more like a journal; and most of her entries memorialised her conversations with the middle Kennedy brothers. Apparently, Wolfe relied on Slatzer, certainly a questionable tactic. Samir Muqaddin’s memoir, however [Memoirs of a Deputy Coroner, 2012], offered a much more detailed view. It is definitely difficult, if not impossible, to conclude that Marilyn’s Red Book of Secrets actually existed based on Michael Rothmiller’s testimony. By 1998, the year Wolfe interviewed the LAPD detective, two decades had elapsed since he allegedly saw the copy of Marilyn’s diary. Why did he wait so long to reveal that this copy existed, to tell the world what he allegedly observed? Where was he in 1982 during the LAPD’s threshold investigation? 

Neither Robert Slatzer nor Jeanne Carmen nor Samir Muqaddin nor the 1982 LADA Summary Report regarding that investigation mentioned Michael Rothmiller. But then, the mythology surrounding Marilyn’s diary, as it relates to her death, is so ingrained in her story and so well known, it is entirely remarkable that more persons have not appeared with odd stories similar to Rothmiller’s. The assertion that the little red diary existed in a storage room filled with secret files fits neatly into the conspiracist’s mindset and their conspiracy puzzle: for them, the diary has become the missing piece which will bring into focus the complete picture of Marilyn’s odd, mysterious and, for the conspiracists, unexplained death. Still, Rothmiller’s testimony remains uncorroborated and unverifiable. Wolfe apparently expected his readers to accept Rothmiller’s testament on faith, a quantum leap that I, for one, cannot make.

Many biographers and many conspiracists have delineated over the years a Marilyn Monroe that did not exist. She was neither a helpless victim nor a silly pubescent girl of fantasy swooning over or gripped by the passion of an infatuation. When we compare the actual writings of Marilyn Monroe [collected in Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters, 2010] with the writings certain individuals have alleged were Marilyn’s, a large chasm between what those individuals have alleged were Marilyn’s and what we now know is real becomes painfully apparent… It is their word against history: no diary of the type described by Slatzer, Carmen, Jordan, Rothmiller and Muqaddin has, in forty-four years, been found. Besides and in fact, not one person in Marilyn’s inner circle ever mentioned seeing a diary of the type described by our witnesses, not Pat Newcomb nor Susan Strasberg nor Ralph Roberts nor Joe DiMaggio nor Arthur Miller, not even Eunice Murray, who allegedly possessed it briefly, ever mentioned a little red diary.” Source:

A mysterious box of Marilyn Monroe documents sealed until 2039 could prove she was murdered by her obsessed psychiatrist, claims a private investigator. The papers belonged to Dr Ralph Greenson, who found her body and who is suspected by some of administering the barbiturate overdose which killed her in 1962. Private detective Becky Aldrige found 'Box 29' stored at UCLA library where it will remain sealed to the public for another two decades, despite a list of contents showing it contains  a trove of files about Monroe. Aldrige claims that Dr Greenson killed Monroe after she threatened to reveal affairs she'd had with the Kennedy brothers and he remained haunted by the actress. Aldrige told The Sun that she was stunned to find that Dr Greenson, who died in 1979, had a sealed box of papers. 'I spent hours looking at everything I was allowed to - I couldn't make copies or take pictures so I just took notes.'  'I discovered he was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe because he had every book, every magazine, every newspaper that was ever written about Marilyn Monroe, everything. Then there were letters that were written to him, people telling him to kill himself because they thought it was his fault, she was dead. I remember thinking "Why did you save this?" 'There is also letters in there to Marilyn Monroe from other people - and letters she wrote to other people - why does he even have those? There's also some of his confidential medical files, and another file that doesn't say what it is.' Aldrige says that in Monroe's previous suicide attempts she had left a note, but on the night of her death there was none. Source:

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Heroes and soulmates: John Kennedy Jr & Carolyn Bessette, Jim Morrison & Pam Courson

Investigating heroism in mate choice: An article published in the July issue (2021) of Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, by Bhogal and Bartlett, sheds light on the importance of heroism in the context of mate selection. Participants were required to read various scenarios (four involving a target with low/high heroism, plus two control situations) and rate the desirability of the target for both short-term relationships and long-term relationships. Compared to men, women expressed greater desire for heroic targets. Nevertheless, heroism mattered to both sexes. Desirability of heroic romantic partners: It is puzzling why heroism exists at all. After all, heroism is quite nonadaptive. According to Dunbar and Kelly, “Brave, courageous and self-sacrificing individuals” should be rare, “both in evolutionary terms (sacrificing self for unrelated others is not an ideal way of promoting your own genes) and in terms of lifetime survival chances (the more risks taken, the greater the likelihood of disaster).” However, we also need to remember the following: While it is true that heroes are risk-takers, heroes’ risk-taking is prosocial. Perhaps this explains why women are attracted to heroic men. After all, care and concern for others are important qualities in a supportive romantic partner, particularly one who might become a parent one day. In their own investigation, these researchers found male bravery had the biggest impact on female choice for short-term sexual partners. For long-term partners and friends, however, altruism was more important. And to the extent heroism relates to risk-taking, it might signal fitness (in mating situations), thus increasing the desirability of the person as a romantic partner, at least for short-term relationships. As Bartlett and Bhogal state, “Through displaying heroic behavior, one can signal that they can bear the costs of behaving heroically, thus making them more desirable in mate choice contexts.” Source:

“Against the exceptional individual are the great numbers of men, trained in a vice that ensnares them.” —Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison talked of his cosmic soulmate Pamela Courson to one of his last lovers, Eva Gardony: “She was a child when we met, and I feel responsible for her because she never grew up. She has been everything for me, my mom, my sister and my daughter.’ And he forgave her a lot of things. Even though at times she was impossible to be with—because she would be stoned or bad tempered—he would say, ‘She’s a sweet child.’ It was touching he just felt he had to take care of her the rest of his life. They argued, both had their grievances, like ‘You done that to me, and for that I done that to you.' But they always gravitated back to each other after every little escapade. He always spoke of Pamela with total affection. Pamela was quick, she was witty, she was funny; she was neurotic. She had the clarity of a child, with very good intuitions, and an innocence that Jimmy loved in her a great deal.” —"Jim Morrison: Friends Gathered Together" (2014) by Frank Lisciandro

"It wasn’t that I didn’t like Jim Morrison. I just didn’t really know him as a friend. One time, I was at the Tropicana Hotel, on Santa Monica, and out of my window I saw Jim and Bryan MacLean standing, face to face. All of a sudden, Jim socked Bryan in the mouth, pretty hard. Bryan made the mistake of mentioning Pamela or something. I actually thought that was the best thing I’d ever seen Jim Morrison do. Bryan said that they were arguing and Jim hit him square in the mouth. I said to myself, “Regardless of what I think, Jim Morrison’s got a heart.” —"Arthur Lee: Alone Again" (2001) by Barney Hoskyns

"Everything that he did with his power, his fame, it was all about some greater good," Rose Marie Terenzio (his former executive assistant at George magazine) said of John Kennedy Jr. "He's truly missed for the way that he gracefully took that mantle of responsibility and lived an honorable life full of integrity—and he's missed for what we all want, which is somebody to look up to and to be proud of." 

Kevin Myron (Celebrity & Spectacle: The Making of a Media Event): John Jr. signifies purity and virtue since the act of publicly shaming his cousins is an attempt to separate himself from those negative connotations. There is also a discourse of family betrayal running through John’s figure, that he somehow broke the code of family protectionism. Here, we see that in life the acceptable discourses for a Kennedy figure might be much more complex and controversial than in death. Last, if we analyze all of the television tributes and coverage of John Jr.’s death, we get the realization of the American dream, where the Kennedy family is seen as American Royalty, with John Jr. as the fallen prince. We get a vision of politics, where liberal is not seen as a dirty word. John Jr. embodies the Kennedys’ brand of compassionate, pragmatic democratic politics even though he never ran for office himself. We saw John Jr. as the newest tragedy from a family virtually defined by the dialectic of tragedy/success. I want to address Carolyn Bessette here now. She is a powerful image and certainly powerful from the perspective of the image of the marriage. She does a lot of things symbolically and from the perspective of a sign to perpetuate this. First of all, she fulfills the popular myth of Camelot. There must be a queen or at least a princess in Camelot, and Carolyn Bessette filled that purpose in a very, very compelling way.  —Celebrity & Spectacle: The Making of a Media Event/Mediated Realities of the JFK Jr. Tragedy (November, 1999) edited by Gregory Payne

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Camera is the Rifle: Oliver Stone (JFK Revisited), John Newman's Into the Storm

The Camera is the Rifle: an Interview With Oliver Stone by Dennis Bernstein for

Bernstein: You have had some pretty strong critiques of your work.  You’ve been successful, but a lot of people get very angry; for instance around JFK.  Is it because the truth hurts?

Stone: Oh, I guess it does.  They don’t want to admit it.  You’re asking me an obvious question.  Why would they get angry?  There’s a long list of people who’d like to see me, among others, see me dead.

DB: Right.  And when you raised the issue about JFK; I mean you did the film, and I understand you’re still working on the story of JFK.

OS: The story never went away, because it was never solved.  We just made a documentary called JFK Revisited.  It’s going to be released in November of this year in the United States. We showed it at Cannes very successfully; we sold 10-12 countries and it’s coming out here in November.  So the case has never ended; they never solved it. The investigations kept coming. Our film created a third investigation called The Assassination Records Review Board, and they interviewed a lot of people who were still alive back in ’94 and ’98. And they wrote up these things that were said and done, and a lot of people had provisionist stories to tell. And of course it was ignored for the most part. It was really ignored by the media. Americans love to say well, we’re going to make an investigation, another investigation. But then they never follow up because it’s tedious over four years to follow all the little details. Well we did. The people in this JFK research community did follow it, and there’s a lot there.  There were – 60,000 documents were declassified, and almost two million pages. On the other hand, Trump backed down at the last second and he was swamped with CIA objections; and he put a lid on it and he changed the law. He basically did it illegally; not with the authorization of Congress. And now the law is – they’re not respecting the law.  We still have these 20,000 documents that are still classified. And there’s a lot there. There may not be, but you have to get into the CIA people. The CIA has been most obstructive to the investigation. They don’t release the files on some of these key agents that appear around the edges of the story, like David Atlee Phillips, George Joannides in Miami, or William Harvey who was around the Cuba operation.  There’s a lot there, but who knows what’s in there? But the point is we accepted the Warren Commission, which was a joke. We go back in the film and show the basic evidence: the bullet, the rifle, the fingerprints, everything that matters in a murder trial.  And we show it to be completely phony. There’s not one piece of evidence that really holds up against the so-called Oswald killer routine. It’s disgusting.

DB: What do you think?  You’ve spent so much time; what are some of the basics that people should know, that should be taught in the history books; in the alternative history books?

OS: I’ve written about it, and the documentary is made. I don’t think there’s time to go into it all.  It’s about Oswald, it’s about the evidence, it’s about the Warren Commission itself and how crooked it was.  All this has come out in declassifications. We have to cover a lot of bases, and there’s no one headline. Also, the big question is why, why, why was Kennedy killed? I keep re-emphasizing that. And I can tell you that our history books are still screwed up.  I mean if you were to believe them, Mr. Johnson, Lyndon Johnson, succeeded Kennedy smoothly and continued his policies in Vietnam. This is rubbish; complete rubbish. We have proof now through declassification that Kennedy was absolutely withdrawing from Vietnam, win or lose. And they said that’s what he told McNamara; McNamara said it in his book.  He was Secretary of Defense.  McGeorge Bundy, who was pro-Vietnam war, also says it very clearly in his book. These things are written years after.  People don’t pay attention. The historians still go on with that nonsense about Lyndon Johnson was a successor. But he changed everything in the foreign policy of Kennedy. Everything from Vietnam to Cuba to – Kennedy was working on another détente with the Soviet Union and Johnson never did anything towards détente. He moved the other direction, encouraged dictatorships and overthrew a government in Brazil, and all over the world, in Greece in 1967. You see a complete repudiation of the Kennedy doctrine. Kennedy had the Alliance for Progress in South America; out the window with Johnson.  In Africa, Kennedy was making huge strides to make allies with a whole new generation of Africans; all out the window.  In Asia of course, Kennedy was working with Indonesia; he liked Sukarno. With Johnson they get rid of Sukarno and there’s the bloodiest coup d’états of all time; a million people are killed because they were so-called Communists. But those are lists of course put together by the American CIA, and it’s just murder. That’s what it was, just outright murder. The world has gotten very violent and ugly, and we’ve played a huge role in bringing that about.

DB: All right, sure. Well, I want to thank you for joining us. Can I just ask you, are there any more feature films coming up? Is there – are you in a different place now?

OS: Yeah, I’m in a different place. I’ve made a nuclear energy documentary, which is very, very fact-based and I think will be very interesting and possibly move some marbles around here. Because we need to get going and get clean energy. We’ve got to get the CO2 out of the fucking system; out of the system. And it’s going to take a lot of work. People are dreaming when they think about if windmills and sun are going to do the whole job, they’re not. Certainly they’re good, but they need a lot of help. And we’re not going to make it unless we use nuclear energy, and a lot of it. A lot of it. So there has to be a change in thinking. But it’s not just us; it’s the whole world that we have to change. The whole world. Source:

According to Robert Brent Toplin, a historian who admires Oliver Stone, JFK has probably “had a greater impact on public opinion than any other work of art in American history.” Indeed, the movie remains a great source of pride for Stone, if not his masterpiece. Thurston Clarke, in his book “J.F.K.’s Last Hundred Days” argues passionately that J.F.K. was moving ever more decisively left, flapping his wings like a dove, just before he was killed. The evidence is that Kennedy began to argue, more loudly than he had before, that American politicians should do everything possible to avoid provoking a nuclear holocaust that would destroy civilization. Kennedy was planning to get out of Vietnam by the end of 1965, or at least had made up his mind not to get drawn any farther in.  Paranoid as the period was, it was in ways more open. Oswald’s captors decided that he would have to be shown to the press, and arranged a midnight press conference for him, something that would not happen today. Source:

John M. Newman’s analysis of how the CIA switched back their plots to kill Castro onto the Kennedy White House is very well done. In fact, it is unmatched in the literature. As the author explicates it, this deception started with Director of Plans Dick Bissell; it was then continued, expanded, and elongated by William Harvey’s assistant Sam Halpern. The author proves that both men knowingly lied about the subject. The myth that arose from it was that Kennedy was trying to get Castro, but Castro got him. When, in fact, neither clause was true. And neither was the corollary: JFK dug the hole for his own death. Bissell was the first person who created the chimera that somehow “the White House” urged him to create an executive action capability. In fact, Bissell first told this story to William Harvey in 1961. But under examination by the Church Committee, Bissell said six times that he could not recall who the person at the White House was who first asked him to do this. Someone in the administration calls you about such a subject and you cannot recall who it was? But this was not credible. And, in fact, it was Bissell’s idea to reach out to the Mafia. After doing depositions with Bissell, Harvey, and McGeorge Bundy, the Church Committee concluded that Kennedy had filed no such request with CIA and none had been discussed with him. 

The giveaway about Sam Halpern was his frequent assertion that RFK deliberately left no paper behind about his dealings with Charles Ford. This turned out to be utterly false. And as the author points out, for Seymour Hersh to have accepted this from Halpern for his 1997 book, The Dark Side of Camelot, tells you all you need to know about Hersh’s piece of rubbish. In fact, Charles Ford testified twice before the Church Committee. For whatever reason, we only have his second deposition. But it is clear from the references he makes to the lost first interview that he never did what Halpern said he was acting as a liaison for RFK to the Mob for the purpose of killing Castro. Considering Bobby Kennedy’s war on the Mafia, this was preposterous on its face. But as the author points out, we have documents from both sides today—RFK’s and Ford’s—as to what Ford was doing for Bobby. The idea was that he was supposed to check out some American representatives of anti-Castro groups in Cuba and also explore ways to retrieve the prisoners from the failed Bay of Pigs project. But the capper about this is that Halpern knew about it, since he signed off on one of Ford’s memos. In fact, Ford was working with Halpern and Harvey in 1961. And since Ford worked under those two men in 1961, within their domain at CIA, he could not have been working under Bobby Kennedy. The Church Committee examined Ford’s testimony afterwards and found it to be accurate. Perhaps the sickest statement that Halpern made to Hersh was this: “Bobby Kennedy’s primary purpose is dealing with Charles Ford was to do what Bill Harvey was not doing—finding someone to assassinate Fidel Castro.” As Hersh could have found out through declassified documents available at that time, this was an ugly lie. Harvey had found someone he was working with to kill Castro. That was John Roselli. And the CIA had lied to Bobby Kennedy about the existence of this plot. 

The book closes with what is a testament to its title. The author notes that Dwight Eisenhower and his National Security Advisor Gordon Gray had thought of using a false flag operation at Guantanamo Bay in the waning days of Ike’s administration. That is, they would employ Cuban exiles to simulate an attack on the base and that would suffice as an excuse to invade Cuba. In fact, Eisenhower had told Joint Chiefs Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer that he had little problem with that scenario, as long as they could manufacture something “that would be generally acceptable.” It is clear that Lemnitzer recalled Eisenhower’s approval of this concept, since both he and Edward Lansdale, who was running Operation Mongoose, were going to try and push it on President Kennedy. As Newman, and many others have written, once Mongoose—the secret war against Cuba—was up and running in February of 1962, the three men supervising it were not well-suited for each other. That would be Lansdale, William Harvey, and Bobby Kennedy. RFK was there at his brother’s request. Since after the Bay of Pigs, the president did not trust the so-called experts anymore. Lansdale did not like this. He actually asked CIA Director John McCone for complete control over Mongoose. A request that was promptly denied. On top of this, Lansdale and Harvey despised each other and Harvey hated RFK. Lansdale was quite imaginative—and deadly—in his plans to shake up things on the island. He thought up outlandish schemes like Task 33. This was a plan to use biological warfare against Cuban sugar workers, but this was only part of an even more wild menu: to create a pretext to attack Cuba. Lansdale now brought back the idea of staging a fake Cuban attack at Guantanamo to provoke an American invasion. 

As the reader can see, what Lansdale had in mind actually preceded what the Joint Chiefs were going to propose to President Kennedy, which was the infamous Operation Northwoods. The problem was that President Kennedy not only did not want to provoke American direct intervention, he did not even want to hear about it. But yet, on March 13, 1962 the Joint Chiefs proposed Northwoods to the White House. This was a series of play acted events designed to manufacture chaos in Cuba in order to provoke an attack by American forces. One was a staging of a “Remember the Maine” scenario: blowing up a ship in Guantanamo Bay and blaming it on Castro. Another was to create a communist Cuban terrorism wave on cities like Miami. Kennedy rejected these proposals. Newman closes the book with Kennedy’s searing disagreements with Lemnitzer over both Cuba and Vietnam. About the latter, Lemnitzer said that Kennedy’s policy would lead to “communist domination of all of the Southeast Asian mainland.” In regard to Cuba, Lemnitzer would not let up on the idea of American intervention. This led to his eventual rebuke by Kennedy in mid-March of 1962. Kennedy did kick him out of the White House, but he would be secretly guiding the Strategy of Tension under Operation Gladio. In other words, the terrorist plan Lemnitzer had been turned down on with Cuba, he was now going to be part of in Europe. Source:

Friday, September 03, 2021

The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan

Gov. Gavin Newsom is not likely to ever free Robert F. Kennedy’s killer from prison — nor should he. That’s just a guess based on Newsom’s stated admiration for Kennedy and the fact that he’s no political dummy. He also apparently understands that assassin Sirhan Sirhan unforgivably changed American history for the worse, committing a crime against the nation. If Newsom could announce now that he would never allow Sirhan to be paroled, he’d probably leap at the chance. If Sirhan’s release still has the green light, the governor could block it. Of course, just because RFK is a hero to Newsom and Sirhan spoiled history doesn’t necessarily mean the governor wouldn’t feel compelled to release him. Under California law, to be released on parole, a prison lifer must be considered no longer a danger to the public. Asked at his hearing whether he’d ever kill again, Sirhan replied: “I would never put myself in jeopardy again.” That wasn’t exactly a statement of remorse. But Sirhan at another point said: “Sen. Kennedy was the hope of the world … and it pains me … the knowledge for such a horrible deed — if I did, in fact, do that.” Source:

Dan Moldea, author of the book, "The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy", participated in a recent television special on the RFK assassination. Using, laser sights, stand-ins, and a re-creation of the Ambassador Hotel pantry in which the assassination occurred, Moldea purported to account for the six assassination victim's wounds using no more bullets than Sirhan's gun could hold. Moldea's television explanation, the same offered in his book, has several fatal shortcomings. One particularly critical conclusion by Moldea ensures that, under his scenario, no less than 9 shots were necessary to account for the victims' wounds. Problematically for Moldea, Sirhan fired an 8-shot revolver, which he unquestionably did not reload. Ironically, in a book which concluded that Sirhan B. Sirhan acted alone, Moldea actually offered a shooting scenario that demands two shooters! And what was Moldea's fatal mistake? He concluded that one of the victims (Paul Schrade) was struck in the forehead by a bullet that struck nothing else first. I made Moldea aware of his error in 2003 during a lengthy phone conversation. He sidestepped the issue, saying, "I wrote the book almost ten years ago. Honestly, I've forgotten the details [of the trajectory scenario] and put the RFK assassination behind me." Moldea ended the pleasant conversation by giving me some genuinely friendly advice: spend more time with your family and let the RFK assassination go. The key to understanding how Moldea's single-assassin shooting scenario, if correct, actually proves conspiracy, begins with an understanding of the number of victims and wounds they suffered. These wounds are undisputed:

1. RFK - Shot in the head, no exit.

2. RFK - Shot in the right rear armpit, with the bullet coming to rest in the flesh beneath the skin at the base of the back of the neck. The bullet was recovered at autopsy.

3. RFK - Shot in the right rear armpit one inch above shot No. 2. The bullet exited through right front chest below the clavicle.

4. RFK - Entry and exit of a bullet which passed through the rear right shoulder of RFK's suit jacket. The entry and exit were both behind the yolk seam at the top of the shoulder, and penetrated only the outermost layer of fabric.

5. Paul Schrade - Shot in the forehead above hairline near the apex of the head. Bullet fragments remained in the head, with a majority exiting through an exit defect several centimeters behind the entry point.

6. Ira Goldstein - Shot in the left buttock/thigh. The bullet was recovered during surgery.

7. Ira Goldstein - Entry and exit of a bullet that passed cleanly through his left pant leg without striking him.

8. Irwin Stroll - Shot in the left shin. The bullet was recovered during surgery.

9. Elizabeth Evans - Shot in the center of the forehead one inch below the hairline. Fragments of a bullet recovered during surgery were too light to comprise a full .22 round. There was no exit point in the scalp.

10. William Weisel - Shot in the left abdomen. The bullet was recovered near the spine during surgery.

The story of the girl in the polka dot dress has been a lingering theme in accounts of the events just after midnight on June 5, 1968, when Kennedy was gunned down in the hotel pantry after claiming victory in the California Democratic presidential primary. Witnesses talked of seeing such a female running from the hotel shouting, "We shot Kennedy." But she was never identified, and amid the chaos of the scene, descriptions were conflicting. Through the years, Sirhan has claimed no memory of shooting Kennedy and said in the recent interviews that his presence at the hotel was an accident, not a planned destination. Under hypnosis, he remembered meeting the girl that night and becoming smitten with her. He said she led him to the pantry. "I am trying to figure out how to hit on her... That's all that I can think about," he says in one interview cited in the documents. "I was fascinated with her looks. It was very erotic. I was consumed by her. She was a seductress with an unspoken unavailability." During Sgt. Hernandez’ polygraph testing of Jerry Owen, Hernandez seemed to display something of that attitude: “I’ve talked to twenty three people that say they saw a girl in the polka dot dress. They are all--they're all fibbing.”  (Tape #29272, July 3, 1968; Lt.Hernandez of SUS interrogation of Jerry Owen, page 46 of transcript). 

Larry Hancock: It does seem clear that Sgt. Hernandez shifted from being an detached polygraph interviewer to an aggressive police interrogator during the course of the interview with Sandra Serrano. In the end, Hernandez gave Sandy Serrano a choice, she could accept his appeal to recant or she would be talking to police forever… and possibly worse. Serrano quit her job and moved back to Ohio. Much later, in 1988 after the LAPD files were made public, Serrano had one more comment. In a brief radio interview she said simply: “I don’t ever want to have to go through that again….that sort of everyday harassment…being put in a room for hours with polka dot dress all around you. It was a bad scene and one that as a young person I was totally unprepared to handle. I was just twenty years old and I became unglued. I said what they wanted me to say.” It is should be mentioned that a great many of the witnesses which LAPD discounted were rejected based on interviews with Sgt. Hernandez. Chief Houghton describes one instance of this in his description of how the police handled Sandra Serrano’s observations. He relates that supervisor Manny Pena knew that if Serrano stuck to her story nothing could dispel the polka dotted dress girl “fever”, only Serrano herself could “put the spotted ghost to rest”.

In his book, and with no apparent concern, Houghton described their tactics, beginning with Manny Pena calling the SUS (Special Unit Senator) polygraph specialist and asking him to take Ms. Serrano out for a “SUS bought steak” dinner. He did just that, first with an informal dinner with Serrano and her Aunt, then isolating Serrano at the police station for a impromptu series of aggressive and emotional interviews, including a lengthy polygraph interrogation lasting until very late that night. Conflicting statements and evidence, which the defense seems not to have been aware of (or certainly did not take up in court) did not become public knowledge until years and in some cases decades had passed. It became public only as the result of almost constant pressure from private investigators and researchers. Lisa Pease details the statements of the “five best” witnesses who were described by LAPD as being in a position to see both RFK and Sirhan. All confirm a distance between them of “three” to “several” feet. The closest man to both, Karl Uecker, later went on record as stating that “There is no way that the shots described in the autopsy could have come from Sirhan’s gun. When I told this to the authorities, they told me I was wrong. But I repeat now what I told them then: Sirhan never got close enough for a point-blank shot.” 

The coroner’s report on the wounds, the eyewitnesses to Sirhan’s distance from RFK and the witnesses who reported other men with guns in the pantry – all suggest an alternative scenario of the shooting: Robert Kennedy entered a relatively long hallway with side doors and progressed into the section of the hallway which served as a pantry. As he moved through the pantry, he approached Sirhan. Then Sirhan moved out as if to shake his hand and began firing a pistol at Kennedy. As Kennedy fell back and down, one of the men whom Kennedy had passed, stepped up behind him and fired with a concealed weapon (a weapon probably held at waist level where it had been concealed under a newspaper). Kennedy was fatally wounded from one of these shots fired at extremely close range and sagged to the floor. At that point the shooter and the women withdrew as others ran forward; they slipped out one of the side corridor doors into the Embassy room, observed by several witnesses in the corridor and around the doors. Sirhan, drawing attention because he was firing a now very visible weapon into the oncoming crowd, was wrestled down, his pistol coming out of his hand. There is little doubt that some of Sirhan's writing was done in an abnormal state of mind. Certain of his notebook entries were done in highly repetitive fashion, very suggestive of automatic writing, a technique that does involve auto-suggestion and visualization, suggesting Sirhan had practiced a form of self hypnosis and did have the ability to force himself into a trance like state. Research into Sirhan’s activities disclosed considerable evidence that he had indeed been highly interested in the occult, had appeared at a Theosophical Society meeting and studied its literature, joined the Rosicrucians and studied their literature and practices (which included auto-hypnosis) and at the time of the assassination had a book by Manley Hall, founder of the Philosophical Research Society and a master hypnotist. 

It seems virtually certain that there was a conspiracy involved in the murder of Senator Kennedy. He had been stalked in the weeks and days immediately before his death; Sirhan himself had been present at the Ambassador the prior weekend, reported in both areas where the Senator was to speak and in the general area of the hotel kitchen. Credible witnesses place Sirhan in the company with the same set of individuals throughout the evening of the assassination and Sirhan was clearly “positioned” on the route which the Senator had used to enter the stage on which he gave his victory speech. The fatal encounter was no random accident. In addition, Sirhan’s notebook entries clearly reveal a focus on the Senator and specifies the date at which he would have to be killed, an obvious date given the timing of the California primary. Sirhan’s knowledge of the actual shooting may be debated, his claim to have no recollection at all of any of his notebook entries, of various notes about RFK on other pieces of paper or of other events is questionable. It is unwise to use Sirhan himself as a reliable source of information. The same can be said for many aspects of the LAPD investigation. There is substantive reason to challenge a good deal of their ballistics and forensics data. Much of their witness investigation work raises questions, including witness evaluations based on department polygraphs. All of this leaves us with a most unsatisfactory situation, with ample evidence to recognize a conspiracy, with clues to possible accessories, with profiles of the people who were repeatedly reported in association with Sirhan – and with justice very definitely incomplete. Source:

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Marilyn Monroe: 65th Anniversary of "Bus Stop"

Picture Marilyn Monroe and you'll see platinum blonde hair, bright red lipstick, and a white dress fluttering over a subway grate. But right after immortalizing exactly that image in 1955's The Seven Year Itch, Monroe reinvented herself. Under her own company, Marilyn Monroe Productions, and with a new studio contract under her belt, Marilyn Monroe delivered what remains one of her best performances in Bus Stop. Marilyn Monroe makes it worth remembering on the 65th anniversary of its premiere: August 31, 1956. The film, penned by The Seven Year Itch co-writer George Axelrod and directed by Joshua Logan, is based on a William Inge play. It follows Beau Decker (Don Murray), a bad mannered and rambunctious cowboy who's never left his ranch before. He sets out by bus from Montana to Arizona in the hopes of winning a rodeo – and bagging himself a woman. 

When he sees Monroe's Chérie performing at a bar, he's immediately smitten, and decides they'll be married the very next day. No matter how often Chérie turns him down or tries to escape, Beau won't be deterred, and she is eventually won over at the film's titular bus stop on their way back to Montana. Despite branching out into other genres earlier in her career, playing the femme fatale in 1953's Niagara and appearing in noirs The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and Don't Bother to Knock (1952), 20th Century Fox was determined to keep her pigeonholed in the airy, comedic roles she was so adept at playing. This didn't work for Monroe, who was intent on being taken seriously as an actor. Her contract at Fox had her underpaid, with no say in what she appeared in. She refused to film the comedy The Girl in the Pink Tights, so Fox suspended her. A resolution seemed to have been reached when Monroe agreed to play a supporting role in 1954's There’s No Business Like Show Business and star in Billy Wilder's The Seven Year Itch (complete with a hefty bonus) – but the battle was far from over. Monroe made her commitment to changing her image clear. She ditched her acting coach and took up classes at the prestigious NYC Actors Studio. She would not appear in Fox's next choice for her, a comedy called How to Be Very, Very Popular. 

Eventually, Monroe proved to be too big a star to lose, and she got a new contract with Fox at the end of '55. It was a huge win, paying far better and giving her more control over her career, including approval over directors and her films' subjects. MMP's first picture would be Bus Stop, and before cameras rolled, its leading lady put the final stamp on her transformation with a legal name change from Norma Jeane Mortenson to Marilyn Monroe.  If Bus Stop had starred anyone else, it's doubtful the film would stand the test of time. Monroe disappears into her role, with her signature blonde hair dyed a darker shade, her famous low, breathy voice exchanged for a high-pitched Ozark accent, her skin tone made chalky with makeup (Chérie works nights and hardly sees the sun), her singing warbly, and her dancing awkward – just contrast her faltering performance of the film's "That Old Black Magic" with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' knockout "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." Monroe even found her own bedraggled costume, turning down one she thought looked too polished, and putting her own holes into her fishnets. Behind the scenes, she worked busily with her acting coach Paula Strasberg to perfect her performance, painstakingly going over every line of every scene. 

The hard work paid off. Director Joshua Logan, who before the cameras rolled protested that "Marilyn can’t act!", was entirely won over, going so far as to call her "one of the great talents of all time." The New York Time's review mirrored his about-face: "Marilyn Monroe has finally proved herself an actress in Bus Stop. She and the picture are swell! This piece of professional information may seem both implausible and absurd to those who have gauged the lady's talents by her performances in such films as Niagara, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and even The Seven Year Itch." By modern standards, Chérie's storyline is entirely misogynistic. It's disturbing to watch her give in to Beau's advances because he's the first person to accept her history with other men (apparently, it "averages out" because he has never had a girlfriend). Beau's "I like you the way you are, so what do I care how you got that way" would be sweet if not for all the time he's spent harassing – and literally abducting – Chérie, his inability to even pronounce her name right, and the fact that her transgression in his eyes is having been with other men. "That's the sweetest, tenderest thing anyone's ever said to me," Chérie replies.

That doesn't mean that Chérie is a character undeserving of Monroe's talents, though. There's something tragic in her speech on the bus about wanting whoever she marries to have "some real regard for me," as well as her dreams of making it to Hollywood when her talents aren't quite up to scratch. There is a meta tongue-in-cheek moment in which Chérie talks about her big plan to make it to Hollywood where “you get treated with a little respect.” It’s an overt dig at Zanuck and 20th Century Fox (which Marilyn famously called 19th Century Fox for its backward treatment of female stars). And one imagines that’s what the ingenue version of Marilyn might have initially thought with her grand plans to become a star. Except, unlike Chérie, she already grew up right next to Hollywood, her own mother a film cutter at RKO. Don Murray (Marilyn's co-star) was nominated to Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Source:

James DiEugenio: Concerning Marilyn Monroe, there is no evidence of her closeness to the Mafia, or RFK. And there is no evidence of her doing a tell all on the Kennedy brothers. And if you read Donald McGovern's current article, she was not murdered. The pills were ingested, not injected. And what Mark Shaw does to try and get RFK into Brentwood was exposed by McGovern as nothing but photographic trickery. I say that because it is difficult to imagine that a lawyer/author could be that stupid. Also, there were many people who were not invited to her last rites proceeding, as Joe DiMaggio only invited 26. A lot of cheap hucksters have created a lot of smoke and mirrors out of a lot of nothing in order to create what, in reality, is a wild and lurid fantasy which libels Marilyn Monroe, RFK and JFK. Marilyn was not a Mob moll and she was not some kind of intel asset, or being tossed around by, of all people, RFK--who Hoover could not find anything on, even though he had agents following him around. What is incredible to me is that some people in the JFK critical community have actually take this rubbish seriously as Paul Hoch.

But the diary tale is actually worse than all the above. Because it turned out that Marilyn did have a diary. It was recovered in one of her storage boxes years after a dispute was resolved over her estate. It was nothing like Lionel Grandison, Robert Slatzer, or Jeanne Carmen said it was. The bulk of her estate was given over to the Strasberg family, since Monroe greatly appreciated what her acting coach, Lee Strasberg, had done for her. 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 Castro. Nothing about any romance with the Kennedy brothers or her desire to be First Lady. The only mention of the Kennedys was in notes she made for an interview, in which she said she admired them, as she did Eleanor Roosevelt, because they represented hope for young people. Grandison then surpassed himself. Not only did he find the diary, but there was also a publicity release in her purse. The release said that there would be a press conference at the LA Press Club. Marilyn would answer questions based upon her Diary of Secrets. I am not kidding. That is what it said and McGovern reproduces it in his book. Of course, no one ever saw it except Lionel Grandison. One wonders, since there was no such Diary of Secrets, what was the conference going to be about? Her failed marriages? Her thoughts on her acting career? Because, as one can see, that is what she wrote about in her diary, her real one, not the Slatzerian creation. Source:

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Collateral Damage: Mark Shaw’s Public Atrocity

In Mark Shaw’s recent publication, Collateral Damage (2021), largely about the deaths of Marilyn Monroe and Dorothy Kilgallen, the author recklessly engaged in what Sherlock Holmes calls a capital mistake. An important foundational premise posited by Shaw in Collateral Damage is that some type of lengthy and abiding friendship existed between the film star and the gossip columnist. Kilgallen’s friends, Shaw asserts, “included stars from stage and screen like Marilyn.” Yet, the author does not offer any tangible evidence to conclusively establish this putative friendship. In an email communication with me regarding the Marilyn–Dorothy friendship alleged by Shaw, Marilyn biographer, Gary Vitacco-Robles, noted that he was “only aware of DK attending the event to promote” the romantic comedy, Let’s Make Love (1960). 

Extant photographs depict Marilyn, her costar, Yves Montand, and Arthur Miller with Dorothy Kilgallen. But an unbiased and forthright analysis of those photographs will lead to this conclusion: while Marilyn and Dorothy were together during that publicity event, they were not being friendly. In fact, Marilyn appeared to be completely disinterested in Dorothy’s presence, as the photographs reveal. In fact, the actual evidence suggests just the contrary: Marilyn and Dorothy were not friends. Also, Gary Vitacco-Robles informed me that Eunice Murray only returned to the hacienda on one occasion: with Marilyn’s sister, Berniece, and Inez Melson to select a burial dress for Marilyn. Shaw appears not to have done his homework on this.

The opinions offered by Cara Williams clearly undermine Shaw’s expressed purpose: to present Marilyn as more than just a sexpot, but to present her as an accomplished actress who reached the top on her talent; to present her as a woman of intelligence and humanity. Cara’s opinions pertaining to Marilyn did not provide Shaw’s readers with an insight into Marilyn’s life or her death. In fact, Cara’s opinions did not provide evidence of anything. Jane Russell, Marilyn’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-star, appears as one of Shaw’s sources at approximately the midpoint of his book. Unlike Cara Williams, at least Jane had some feelings for Marilyn and often referred to the blonde movie star as her little sister. According to his source notes, Shaw did not interview Jane. Instead, he relied on quotations from a biography written by Edwin P. Hoyt, Marilyn: The Tragic Venus, published in 1965; quotations which Shaw does not properly source, a common occurrence for him. According to Shaw, Jane informed Hoyt that her co-star “was always sweet and friendly with the stagehands and the crew” along with also being “a thoughtful person, a searching person.” 

Gianni Russo portrayed Carlo Rizzi in the 1972 movie, The Godfather. He reprised his portrayal in the movie’s 1974 sequel. Tracing the development of Russo’s yarn in the ever accommodating media has been humorous. The edges of his MM narrative changed constantly over the years, not unlike the edges of an amoeba. In 2006, for example, Russo announced on the Howard Stern Show that Marilyn was in her 20s when he first encountered her and their affair began. Shall we engage in some simple arithmetic? When Russo was born, Norma Jeane was 17. On June 1, 1946, Norma turned twenty. At that time, Russo was two-years-old, still in diapers no doubt and pulling on a pacifier. A decade later, Marilyn started her thirties on June 1, 1956, and she attended the premiere of The Seven Year Itch in Manhattan with Joe DiMaggio. At that time, Russo was a twelve-year-old boy. So, at the age of 12, he was taking on Joe D? Would Mario Puzo even write that? There’s more. Russo declared that his affair with Marilyn actually began when he was 16 and she was 23. Marilyn was 23 in 1949. Russo must have become an extremely advanced six-year-old in December of that year. But this is obvious: neither Norma Jeane nor Marilyn Monroe had an affair with Gianni Russo.

After the publication of Russo’s book by St. Martin’s Press in 2019, lawyer Donna Morel began to investigate Russo, specifically, his sensational revelations about Marilyn Monroe, his alleged relationship with the actress, and his assertions about her death. Donna uncovered two newspaper articles that she provided to me along with a press release pertaining to a series of photographs that had been taken at Cal-Neva Lodge that infamous July weekend; and the press release appeared to contradict several of Russo’s assertions. In May of 2019, Donna received a telephone call and a story about Russo’s photograph that completely contradicted the yarn spun by the Hollywood Godfather. Recently, Donna graciously provided me with the Married Guest’s telephone number. On Tuesday, August the 10th, 2021, at 10:00 AM, I engaged Donna’s source in a 90- minute conversation. The story I received confirmed what Donna had already reported to me. The individual to whom Donna and I spoke took the photograph, not Sam Giancana, who, according to the actual photographer, was not even at Cal-Neva that weekend. The Married Guest admitted to knowing the ganglord well and humorously commented: “Sam Giancana never took a photograph of anybody in his entire life!”

As you have probably already assumed, the man in the photograph was most certainly not Gianni Russo; the man was an employee, a roadie who worked for an entertainer who performed that July weekend. Unfortunately, the Married Guest could not recall the roadie’s name, but commented that he was a nice man, not boy. Furthermore, when I asked if Robert Kennedy was at Cal-Neva that weekend, I received laughter and a firm “absolutely not.” To my question about the presence of mobsters other than Sam Giancana, I received a precise answer: “There were no mobsters there.” To my question regarding the alleged yarns about all the bad things that happened to Marilyn Monroe that weekend, the Married Guest replied: “Nothing bad happened to Marilyn. It was a big party and everybody enjoyed themselves, including Marilyn.” According to the Married Guest, the blonde movie star “was a very funny gal, but she did get drunk one night.” I also hasten to denote this: two reliable sources who were also guests at the Cal-Neva Lodge that weekend, Betsy Hammes and the actor Alex D’Arcy, told Donald Spoto virtually 30 years ago that Giancana and his gang were not there. Their testimony has been completely ignored, not only by Mark Shaw, but the entire risible Marilyn-Was-Murdered-World.

Robert Kennedy was in Washington on Monday, July 30th, 1962, where he spoke to a large group of educators to open the President’s Council on Youth Fitness. “Energetic Atty. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy gave a pep talk on the importance of physical fitness yesterday,” reported a Port Chester New York newspaper, The Daily Item, in its July 31st edition. From this established record, Robert Kennedy was not with Marilyn Monroe at Cal-Neva Lodge at any time during the weekend of July 28th, as absurdly stated by Gianni Russo. For a man of his ilk to assert as much, along with all the other rubbish he has uttered, borders on felonious behavior. But then, he maintains that is exactly what he was—a criminal, and a murdering criminal at that, along with many other illegal enterprises which Shaw ignores. Mark Shaw evokes Sgt. Clemmons as another source in Collateral Damage.

Sgt. Jack Clemmons was the first police officer to arrive at Fifth Helena Drive on Sunday, August 5th. “Someone can’t swallow that many barbiturates without throwing up,” Clemmons said, “therefore she could have gotten drugs in her body by another method.” According to Shaw, Sgt. Clemmons suspected that Marilyn had, in fact, vomited, but all traces of it “may been cleaned up before he arrived;” the sergeant also concluded that the murder weapon was possibly a suppository or an enema. Shaw also mentions that Sgt. Clemmons observed “additional empty containers” of pills and “scattered capsules and pills of another nature,” meaning obviously that capsules and pills had been dropped either in Marilyn’s bed or on the white carpeted floor, something I had neither read nor heard before. Eventually, Shaw recites Sgt. Clemmons’ story that he observed Eunice Murray operating a washing machine and clothes dryer close to dawn; obviously destroying evidence of vomit or another bodily discharge which could have proved Marilyn was murdered. In fact, Marilyn did not own a washing machine or a clothes dryer. She used a laundry service; but as with Gianni Russo, Shaw did not allow that fact to encumber him or his speculations about evidence Eunice Murray hypothetically destroyed.

Sgt. Jack Clemmons told his tales to many conspiracist authors from Robert Slatzer to Anthony Summers to Donald Wolfe, who became a close friend of Clemmons. I also traced the testimony the sergeant offered during his interviews during the many television documentaries he appeared in until his death in 1998. For 36 years, Sgt. Clemmons declared that Marilyn Monroe did not commit suicide: she was murdered by an injection administered directly into her heart by psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenson, which is a scientific impossibility, proven by Dr. Noguchi’s autopsy and Dr. Abernathy’s toxicological tests. But evidently—and like many in the MM trade—the once LAPD cop repeated the heart injection fantasy so often that he actually grew to believe it happened, when, in fact, it didn’t. Clemmons’ testimony was often inconsistent and contradictory; and his recollections of August 5th changed over the passing years. He even began to assert that Marilyn’s house and her bedroom were exceptionally tidy, and appeared to have been cleaned with all things neatly arranged. One look at the police photographs taken that August morning clearly indicated otherwise. Sgt. Clemmons’ career as a policeman came to a dishonorable end in 1965, due to his involvement with Frank Capell and the Thomas Kuchel libel incident. Like Frank Capell, Jack Clemmons evidently did not have a problem twisting the facts. Like most dutiful conspiracists, Shaw published the police photograph of Marilyn’s bedside table and, like his conspiracist compatriots, he published a cropped version, included below. Dutifully, he also noted that a drinking glass was not on Marilyn’s bedside table and one could not be found, neither in her bedroom nor her adjoining bathroom.

Displayed below is the actual, uncropped photograph taken that Sunday morning by police combined with an enlargement of the trash can area. Please note the drinking glass to the right of the trash can on the floor and to the left of Marilyn’s bed, a clearly visible drinking glass.

Shaw included what he asserted was the bedroom wing layout of Marilyn’s hacienda and he paraphrased Eunice Murray’s testimony about that tragic Sunday morning: “while on the way to her bathroom,” Shaw noted, “she [Mrs. Murray] noticed light visible beneath Marilyn’s door, causing her to become suspicious that something could be wrong.” However, Shaw doubted that testimony, calling it inconsistent and apparently a lie. On the night of August 4th, Eunice Murray slept in the smaller bedroom where Marilyn had positioned a cot, identified on the floor plan as “Guest Sleeping.” Pat Newcomb had slept in the same bedroom on the same cot when she spent Friday night with Marilyn. It is apparent that Mrs. Murray could have noticed light emanating from Marilyn’s bedroom on her way to the Jack and Jill bathroom and considering the arrangement of the bedroom’s doors, she could have stood at her bedroom door and easily observed Marilyn’s bedroom door. In the police photograph of Marilyn’s bedroom, looking across her disheveled bed at the opposing wall, clearly Mrs. Murray was preparing to enter the bedroom where she had slept, clearly visible from Marilyn’s bedroom door.

Finally, Shaw trotted out the famous thank-you note from Jean Kennedy Smith to Marilyn. During the Lawford’s 1962 February dinner party, Marilyn spoke to the ailing Kennedy clan patriarch via a telephone call instigated by Robert Kennedy. Joe Kennedy had suffered a serious stroke on December 19th in 1961, but he had yet to recover: he could barely speak. Robert must have felt that hearing Marilyn’s incredible voice would bolster the old man’s spirits. Sometime later, Marilyn sent a kind note to the senior Kennedy. In response to Marilyn’s kindness and her note, Jean Kennedy Smith wrote and sent Marilyn the aforementioned thank-you note. Both pages of the actual note are shown above. An innocent note, written and sent in response to a note that Marilyn sent to Joe Kennedy, Sr. It has always been of particular interest to conspiracists, including Shaw.  But in his book, he published the note’s second page only, which begins with: “understand you and Bobby are the new item!” Clearly, Shaw did not publish the first page of the note for obvious reasons. 

Like conspiracists before him, Shaw breathlessly pointed to the thank-you note as evidence and proof that Marilyn and Robert Kennedy were involved in an affair and the invitation extended by Jean Smith for Marilyn to join Bobby when he returned to the east has been used by the conspiracists as evidence that Robert Kennedy’s extramarital relationship with Marilyn had been accepted by the Kennedy clan, specifically the Kennedy women. As the first sentence of the thank-you note clearly stated, Rose Kennedy asked her daughter to write and thank Marilyn. That request “triggered the letter,” not something nefarious. During the decades since the note was sent to Marilyn by Jean Smith, its context has been completely disregarded by the conspiracists, including Mark Shaw. Obviously, the comment about Marilyn and Bobby being “the new item” was meant as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Marilyn’s twist teaching efforts during the Lawford’s February dinner party and the uproarious scene caused by Robert Kennedy attempting to dance with Marilyn Monroe. Evidently, Ethel constantly teased the Attorney General over that humorous scene, as frequently noted by John Seigenthaler, Robert Kennedy’s assistant.

That Jean Smith would invite Marilyn to visit Hyannisport seems only natural: who would not want Marilyn Monroe in their home for a visit? The conspiracists efforts to use that innocent note as proof of not only a romantic affair but the affair’s acceptance by the Kennedy clan and the Kennedy women is preposterous. That attempt should be viewed as manufactured since Sgt. Jack Clemmons, Frank Capell, Robert Slatzer, and Jeanne Carmen were all complicit in it. For an author—who is also an attorney—to place himself in such a dubious crowd is: well, its mystifying. “A guy known as The Doctor murdered Marilyn,” Russo testified to Michael Kaplan for a 3/2/19 New York Post article. The Doctor was a killer for hire and an actual MD who performed “major hits for the mob […].” This unnamed doctor “injected air into the vein near Marilyn’s pubic region,” which rendered the injection site invisible, Russo reported to Kaplan. Although Russo did not specify which vein or which part of Marilyn’s anatomy received the injection. While possibly the most inventive of Marilyn’s Murder Orthodoxies, Russo’s embolism tarradiddle is also certainly the most ludicrous. How could a venous gas embolism create the lethal concentrations of Chloral hydrate and pentobarbital in Marilyn’s blood and liver? Despite the ludicrous nature of Russo’s fairy tale, it has been reported by many newspapers, magazines, and Internet articles as the absolute truth. Yet, the most remarkable aspect of this curiosity is that Mark Shaw actually asserts that Russo’s incredibly imbecilic fairy tale has some credence. Once again, I am not being the least bit facetious.

An insane number of theories about the death of Marilyn Monroe have been developed and presented as fact during the past fifty-nine years: at least 12. The conspiracist authors who developed and presented those theories invariably contended that theirs was factual: the Last Word regarding the who, when, how, and why of Marilyn’s perceived mysterious death, her murder. Still, all of those theories did not satisfy Mark Shaw. Therefore, he developed one of his own. Let’s call his new theory Number 13. According to Shaw, Number 13 proceeds as follows. Sometime near midnight, unable to sleep, Marilyn “heard a noise at her front door.” Upon opening the door, two gloved men assaulted her and “stunned” her by placing “a chloroform-sealed cloth over her nose and mouth.” Once in her bedroom, the murderers removed any outer “clothing she was wearing such as a robe or panties” and they then carefully “positioned her nude body on the floor face down.” Also, Shaw failed to mention the concentration of pentobarbital in Marilyn’s blood, 4.5 mg%, quite a significant omission and a prime example of cherry picking in order to exclude relevant but unwanted evidence. Abernathy’s tests indicated a concentration of pentobarbital in Marilyn’s liver three times as high as the concentration in her blood. Explained by a branch of pharmacology called pharmacokinetics, that relationship is consistent with ingesting a large overdose and proves beyond a reasonable doubt and to a scientific certainty that the drugs were ingested. The drugs were not injected into Marilyn’s body, she did not receive a hot shot, and she was not murdered with a bulb syringe.

Amazing: Shaw began to question his own theory, his own explanation of what happened to Marilyn and led to her death. What time did the killers arrive? he questioned. Where was Mrs. Murray when the killers arrived and enacted the gruesome scene in Marilyn’s bedroom? Shaw speculates that the murder possibly occurred between midnight and 3:00 AM, contradicting his proclamation that the murderers arrived “at some point close to midnight.” Then, regarding the bruise on Marilyn’s hip, Shaw admitted that “other explanations exist as to how Marilyn could have bruised her left hip.” However, if that bruise was caused as he speculated, then obviously foul play had been involved in Marilyn’s death. He then wondered if Mrs. Murray had “knowledge of the attempt on Marilyn’s life,” which he admits could not be known. He then speculates that Mrs. Murray became spooked by “hearing noise near Marilyn’s bedroom,” which caused “Murray to wonder if Marilyn was in distress” and prompted her “to call either Greenson or Engelberg.” Eventually, Shaw’s speculations centered on Dr. Greenson, Dr. Engelberg, and Eunice Murray and their possible complicity with Robert Kennedy who “orchestrated Marilyn’s death via operatives sent to her home.” Frankly, it became self-evident as I read Shaw’s speculations and strange contradictions, that he likely did not even believe Number 13, which he himself formulated. So why should I? Besides, I know Shaw’s Number 13 is a fantasy founded on sensationalism. Marilyn was dead before midnight. Evidence, not speculation, confirms that and confirms that Marilyn certainly was not alive at 3:00 AM on August 5th. Unlike Mark Shaw, rigor mortis and fixed lividity do not speculate.

Dorothy Kilgallen’s columns following Marilyn’s death had been based on rumor and gossip, innuendo and sensationalism. All advanced by other luminaries in the gossip mongering field: Walter Winchell, Earl Wilson, Louella Parsons, and James Bacon. As of right now in America, rumor, gossip, and innuendo do not qualify as evidence. Still, Shaw promised his readers that he would reveal new and compelling evidence regarding Marilyn’s death. He didn’t. He merely recited, right on cue, what Sarah Churchwell accurately identified as the same tales and bromides. Why would he evoke discredited men like Frank Capell, Sgt. Jack Clemmons, and many others, including both C. David Heymann and the incorrigible fabulist, Gianni Russo? The answer is obvious: Shaw wanted and needed sources that confirmed his foregone conclusion, not unlike every conspiracist author who has written about Marilyn Monroe’s life and her death. If Mark Shaw really wanted justice for Marilyn, which, considering his use of Gianni Russo, I doubt, then Shaw would have let her rest in peace. But evidently that would be an empathetic compassion beyond a conspiracists' comprehension. Source: