WEIRDLAND: April 2021

Monday, April 26, 2021

Last Second in Dallas, Fred Hampton, Civil Rights

Josiah Thompson may have just cracked the John F. Kennedy assassination case. Fifty-four years after the publication of his 1967 book “Six Seconds in Dallas,” he is back with a follow-up book, “Last Second in Dallas,” that amplifies and revises his findings, using scientific means that weren’t available decades ago. Thompson, who lives in Bolinas and was a private detective in San Francisco for more than 30 years, is unique among writers in the genre in that he has never advanced a conspiracy theory. He doesn’t know who killed Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, or why. Instead, Thompson only concerns himself with what can be proved through forensics, photography, ballistics, sound recordings and witness testimony. His mission, which has lasted from his early 30s through today, at age 86, has been simply to find out what happened as the president’s motorcade passed through Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. I’ve seen Oliver Stone’s “JFK” six or seven times. So, what happened?

Josiah Thompson: “What happened that day was really simple: It’s what your eyes tell you happened when you see the Zapruder film,” Thompson tells me, referring to the recording of the shooting by Abraham Zapruder on his home-movie camera. The sequence of events, according to Thompson, is that there were five shots fired, in three bursts. First, Kennedy was shot in the back. Then came the fatal shot from the right front. And finally, less than a second later, Kennedy was shot in the back of the head. Thompson postulates that the shots were fired from three different directions. What makes Thompson’s findings a big deal is that, without setting out to do so, he all but proves that there was, indeed, a conspiracy. There had to have been one, by definition, because — according to Thompson — at least three people were involved (unless you believe that three lone assassins woke up that day with the same idea). Thompson further suggests that the very effectiveness of the assassination — it was practically a slaughter — argues in favor of professionals, not amateurs. Source: 

The first definitive account of the rise and fall of the Secret Service, from the Kennedy assassination to the alarming mismanagement of the Obama and Trump years, right up to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6—written by the Pulitzer Prize winner and #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America. Carol Leonnig has been reporting on the Secret Service for The Washington Post bringing to light the secrets, scandals, and shortcomings that plague the agency today—from a toxic work culture to dangerously outdated equipment to the deep resentment within the ranks at key agency leaders. The Secret Service was born in 1865, in the wake of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, but its story begins in earnest in 1963, with the death of John F. Kennedy. Shocked into reform by its failure to protect the president on that fateful day in Dallas, this once-sleepy agency was radically transformed into an elite, highly trained unit that would redeem itself several times, most famously in 1981 by thwarting an assassination attempt against Ronald Reagan. But this reputation for courage and excellence would not last forever. By Barack Obama’s presidency, the once-proud Secret Service was running on fumes and beset by mistakes and alarming lapses in judgment. Carol Leonnig is a national investigative reporter at The Washington Post, where she has worked since 2000. Zero Fail will be released by Random House (May 18, 2021) Source:

In Warner Bros.' Judas and the Black Messiah, Daniel Kaluuya plays Fred Hampton, the former chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and a co-founder of the Rainbow Coalition, whose killing in a 1969 raid was the result of an FBI counterintelligence operation. That government plot placed a petty thief named William O'Neal (played in the film by LaKeith Stanfield) undercover to infiltrate the party's dealings and undermine its community organizing. Speaking with THR, Kaluuya reveals the extensive research he did to prepare for the role, working with rising-star director Shaka King and how Hampton's philosophy can be applied in our current political moment. -How much about Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers did you already know coming into this role, and what did you learn right away?

-Daniel Kaluuya: I actually went through my stuff the other day, and I saw a school textbook that mentioned the Black Panthers. You learn about American history, and I think they really just scoot past the Black Panther section of it. [There's] a lot on Kennedy, quite a bit on Martin Luther King, not that much on Malcolm X, and then kind of just moving forward [to the] Vietnam War. I knew about the Panthers and chairman Fred Hampton just from living life and hearing stories from others and having conversations with others and realizing that's something later on in my life I would love to have a deep-knowledge dive on it, to understand that philosophy and those people. It was from references in art, references around me and in my community and the people I knew, where I got all my information about the Black Panthers before the film was proposed to me.  Source:

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Sexual Rejection, Rumors on JFK Jr & Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, So Fucking What (1994)

Americans are guaranteed the right to ‘pursue happiness’ for themselves. But might they be better off if they pursued happiness for others? In five studies, they compared the two strategies, showing that, ironically, the second pursuit brings more personal happiness than the first. Retrospective study 1 (N = 123) and experimental studies 2 (N = 96) and 3 (N = 141) show that trying to make someone else happy leads to greater subjective well-being than trying to make oneself happy. In all three studies, relatedness need-satisfaction mediated the condition differences. Study 4 (N = 175) extended the findings by showing that trying to make others happy is more personally beneficial than when others try to make us happy. Study 5 (N = 198) found that feeding strangers’ parking meters produced the effect even though the participant did not interact with the targeted other. Source:

While declining a partner’s sexual advances is a normal part of long-term relationships, new research sheds light on the fact that some ways to turn down a partner are less harmful than others. The findings were published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (published March 11, 2021). Given that sexual rejection can be very painful for the receiver and is associated with reduced relationship satisfaction, researchers were motivated to explore whether there are specific ways to turn down a partner that are better received than others. “We were interested in this topic as limited past research had looked at the impact of sexual rejection in relationships, especially in terms of the specific ways that romantic partners reject one another for sex,” said study author James J. Kim of the University of Toronto. “As couples regularly experience sexual conflicts in their relationship, it can be difficult to navigate situations where partners have divergent levels of sexual interest. We wanted to know whether there might be optimal ways that people can decline their partner for sex to help maintain the quality of their sexual relationship.” In two initial studies among samples of sexually active men and women in relationships, Kim and his colleagues identified a list of common sexual rejection behaviors and came up with a 20-item scale they deemed the Sexual Rejection Scale (SRS). “We found four distinct types of behaviors that people use when rejecting their partner for sex, characterized principally by: reassurance, hostility, assertiveness, and deflection,” Kim told PsyPost.

Interestingly, certain behaviors appeared to protect against the harmful effects of rejection. People who perceived their partners to be using reassuring behaviors (i.e., showing care and love when rejecting them) showed greater relationship and sexual satisfaction. Those who perceived hostile behaviors from their partners showed lower relationship and sexual satisfaction. When people experienced rejection that was communicated in a reassuring way, they felt greater perceived responsiveness from their partners, and in turn, greater relationship and sexual satisfaction. “Importantly, we found that conveying reassurance during rejection (letting your partner know you still love them or are attracted to them) helps to buffer against the negative effects of sexual rejection, and that this type of reassurance uniquely predicted higher relationship and sexual satisfaction in couples,” Kim told PsyPost. These findings are in line with Risk Regulation Theory, which posits that feeling accepted and valued by one’s partner offers a feeling of security that dissuades the self-protection response and promotes the goal of seeking connection. “As these situations are highly sensitive and emotionally charged in nature, the current research revealed the importance of demonstrating responsiveness and positive regard when rejecting a partner’s sexual advances,” Kim and his team wrote in their study. “Our study focused on sexual rejection dynamics between partners in established long-term relationships,” Kim added. “In this relationship context, our findings highlight how crucial it is to communicate reassurance when declining a partner’s sexual advances given the sensitive nature of sexual rejection.” -The study, “When Tonight Is Not the Night: Sexual Rejection Behaviors and Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships”, was authored by James J. Kim, Amy Muise, John K. Sakaluk, Natalie O. Rosen, and Emily A. Impett. Source:

British journalist Annette Witheridge was one of the main promoters of the rumor of Carolyn Bessette denying sexy quality time to his hunky husband John F. Kennedy Jr. Witheridge published an article in The New York Post in November 1999, exposing an alleged rocky marriage, although most of her sources were anonymous under the guise of confidentiality. One of these anonymous sources told Witheridge: "John broke down and in the course of many conversations he told me Carolyn had moved out of the marital bed. At that point they weren't having sex, and it was taking a toll on him." But shortly before their fatal plane crash, on July 15, 1999, John and Carolyn went to Lenox Hill Hospital, where a surgeon removed the cast off his ankle and according to a nurse, the two were very affectionate, kissing passionately. Besides, Carolyn had said to Carole Radziwill that they were having sex, her on top due to his painful ankle. Carolyn was very compassionate and protective of her own, which made her irresistible in John Kennedy Jr's eyes. She had a heart of gold and a fantastic sense of humor; and she allegedly dated actor Stephen Dorff in the early 90s.

An iconic rebel type during the 90s, Stephen Dorff played anti-hero Cliff Spab in the grungy film "S.F.W." (So Fucking What?), directed by Jefery Levy (1994). As an anonymous viewer in a review for Amazon submitted: "A FILM WAY AHEAD OF ITS TIME" (July 25, 1999): "Take a look at this film and you will be amazed at how it predicted the future -- from OJ to JFK Jr. Also, how many films have there been since SFW that have dealt with the same themes, but not nearly as well? NBK; Mad City; Truman Show; Ed TV -- SFW is, quite simply, a work of genius -- even more amazing: the book was written by a 17 year old college kid in 1987! The film also deals with the way popular culture (not just the media) takes a person or event, uses it to sell, sell, then discards it, usually destroying it/him. The big cycle of pop culture. Check it out for yourself." Source:

One of Dorff's latest roles roles was in the romantic musical drama I'll Find You (2019), being its original title Music, War and Love, directed by Martha Coolidge. Inspired by stories of Polish musicians from the 30-40's, the film's an uncommon love story; romantic, but with the love of music which draws the characters together. A young couple - Robert, a catholic opera singer and Rachel, a Jewish violinist, dream of one day performing together at Carnegie Hall. When they're torn apart by the German invasion of Poland, Robert vows to find Rachel, no matter what. His search takes him on a journey through the heart of Nazi Germany, to a reckoning - that Rachel may be lost to him forever. Stephen Dorff plays General Huber. Source:

JFK Jr.’s better half was more than just a trophy wife, insists her friend RoseMarie Terenzio. “She loved making people feel good about themselves. She was so generous and down to earth,” says Terenzio. “That was her mission.” Despite Carolyn Bessette’s rarefied fashion background, she was surprisingly grounded in her approach to style, Terenzio told The Post. She never attended fashion shows after she left her job at Calvin Klein, and she regularly wore many of the same everyday basics—her go-to casual separates were Levi’s jeans and T-shirts from the Gap and Petit Bateau. Her closet was neat but not a walk-in. And unlike many of today’s parasitic celebrities, she never accepted freebies to pad her enviable wardrobe. “She always said, ‘I have to pay for it and if not, unfortunately, I have to send it back,” says Terenzio. Bessette also was generous with her friends, lending them clothes or giving them away. She even made over Terenzio with a shopping trip to Barneys and expensive highlights — a moment that is documented in her best-selling book, “Fairy Tale Interrupted”: “I get e-mails from women telling me their favorite story in the book was the shopping trip that Carolyn took me on. It was a fantasy, a real Cinderella story,” Terenzio says. “She wanted my career to take off.” But Terenzio admits she became the envy of George magazine staffers after Bessette took her under her wing. “People in the office were jealous. They’d say, ‘Oh, she’s trying to look like Carolyn.’ And who wouldn’t want to look like her?” Source:

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

JFK Jr & Carolyn Bessette, Breakfast at Tiffany's

John Kennedy Jr. often spoke about the stresses endured by any woman photographed with him. These pressures were embodied by his wife; photos of Bessette, looking haunted and hunted, clutching her Calvin Klein coat protectively around her while the press pack chased behind, became as much a staple of the 90s New York tabloids as gossip about who Jerry Seinfeld was dating. Kennedy had found, somehow, a woman as beautiful as he was, who managed to make even the dreariest of clothes – beige skirts, small sunglasses – look absurdly elegant. Yet she hated the attention that came with being a Kennedy, and who could blame her? On 16 July 1999, they lived out the most Kennedy destiny of all, dying young when he crashed the plane they were flying in, with Bessette’s sister Lauren, en route to a cousin’s wedding. I watched the news coverage the next day, and the only positive thing anyone could say was, “Thank God his mother didn’t live to see this.” John Kennedy told USA Today in 1998: "The only person I've been able to get to go up with me, who looks forward to it as much as I do, is my wife. The second it was legal, she came up with me. Whenever we want to get away, we can just get in a plane and fly off."

Two years ago, Q Anon types were adamant that John Kennedy Jr. would emerge from hiding and be Donald Trump’s VP pick for the 2020 election. Spoiler: didn’t happen. But – and I swear this is the only time you’ll hear this phrase from me – Q Anon were on to something here. Kennedy and Trump are each other’s yin and yang, two sides to a very New York coin, blessed with absurd opportunities because of their families. The 2016 election will never make any sense to me, but maybe, I now think, my brain softened from a year of lockdown, it was always meant to be that a telegenic quasi-celebrity with a famous name would win the presidency that year. It’s just that we got the wrong one. I have a weakness for alternative histories that play on the idea of fixing a past wrong: Quentin Tarantino’s fantasy about saving Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood; or Doctor Who showing Vincent van Gogh how beloved he would one day be. Preventing the Kennedy Sr assassination is the ultimate alt-history fantasy, because his murder has long been seen by many as a downward turning point in American history, a theory mined by Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63. The Kennedy family will, to Americans, always represent a golden promise that was never realised. And what else is there to do, when the present feels so much bleaker than the bright future you were promised in the past, but to sit on the sofa and think: what if, what if, what if? Source:

John F. Kennedy Jr., unlike PEOPLE’S previous selections as Sexiest Man of the Year—Mel Gibson, Mark Harmon and Harry Hamlin—isn’t a professional actor. He doesn’t make his living by being on public display. The folks around him argue that he is a private citizen, and his mother, Jacqueline Onassis, has gone to some lengths to keep the press away from her family. The nation has followed his life through his studies at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and on through Brown University, from which he graduated in 1983 with a B.A. in history. When did we first notice his social conscience? You really don’t care about his work for his aunt Jean Kennedy Smith’s Very Special Arts program for people with learning disabilities, or that he’s considered a friendly, decent, remarkably down-to-earth guy who once followed a stranger down the street to return the five bucks the man had dropped? There were some “obnoxious types” in the Phi Psi fraternity house, an old frat brother says, “but John wasn’t one of them. At Brown he was very undercover, and he didn’t have any attitude.” He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in a messy, book-filled apartment. He prefers to get around, even in winter, on his bike. He’s been an amateur actor since college, and when he goes for a hamburger at his favorite spot, Jackson Hole on Columbus Avenue and 85th Street, he sprawls at an outside table. 

It is not merely his looks—his mother’s dark eyes and his father’s striking body. (He’s 6’1″ 187 lbs.) It is that he has something that no film star, no athlete, can duplicate—the aura, the excitement that charges a room when he enters it, simply by virtue of being Kennedy. The energy, however, hasn’t inflated his ego. “I used to pay my rent to the 42nd Street Development Corporation, which was co-founded by Jackie Onassis,” says Manhattan restaurateur Jean-Claude Baker. “JFK Jr. was in the office once, wearing big Texas boots with his feet up on the desk. When he saw me, he stood up and said very politely, ‘Yes, can I help you?’ There is no arrogance in the guy.” Although privately he was nervous, his introduction of Senator Kennedy at the Democratic convention got a two-minute standing ovation. “I can’t remember a word of the speech,” says conservative Republican consultant Richard Viguerie, “but I do remember a good delivery. I think it was a plus for the Democrats and the boy. He is strikingly handsome.” During his summer job at the law firm (one of its founding partners was Ted Kennedy’s law school roommate), JFK Jr. did not, like some summer associates, turn down assignments. He worked, according to one attorney, on “anything he was given.”

As yet unlike his father and grandfather, who were legendary ladies’ men, JFK Jr. has long relationships with his girlfriends. His steady for the last two years has been another Brown alumna, Christina Haag, 27, daughter of a marketing executive. A graduate of the upper-crusty Brearley School in Manhattan, Christina has known Kennedy since they were both 15. She too is Catholic; like Kennedy, she loves to keep in shape. They’ve acted together, playing the young lovers in Brian Friel’s Winners at Manhattan’s Irish Arts Center in 1985. This summer, when Haag appeared in a one-act comedy, Sleeping with the Past, at Hollywood’s Tiffany Theater, she and JFK Jr. shared a house in Venice. “They bring out the best in each other,” says Robin Saex, the play’s director and one of Christina’s closest friends. He was also spotted a few times with Click model Audra Avizienis, 22. “We’ve been on a few dates, but I’m not seeing him,” says Avizienis. “I’m not a girlfriend. He has a girlfriend. Or have they broken up?” Did she find young Kennedy sexy? “Oh, yes,” she says. “He has this quiet sadness. There’s something pensive and sad about him.”  —Victoria Balfour for People magazine, first published on September 12, 1988.

John Kennedy Jr’s work with the underprivileged and disabled, his experience bridging the public and private sectors, his inquisitive mind, sense of obligation, and determination to avoid the obvious, a quick run for elective office, reveal a commendable sense of purpose. “He makes good decisions, not facile ones,” says a New York University School of Law pal named Stevelman. Friends say that now, though John rarely brings up his father, he is gracious when others do. Nevertheless, awkward moments do occur. “One time he was hanging out in somebody’s room,” recalls a fraternity brother, “and they were playing the Stones’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ (which contains the lyric, “I shouted out, ‘Who killed the Kennedys?’ / When after all / it was you and me”). Everyone realized, ‘Uh-oh.’ But at some point, he’d just walked out and then he walked back in again. He just avoided the situation.” Friends are careful with him. “It’s never come up and I wouldn’t bring it up,” says Stevelman. It’s not that he won’t want our votes eventually. He just doesn’t want them now, when all he would be is JFK II. But John F. Kennedy Jr. will always be America’s son, and that’s a hurdle he’ll face for the rest of his life. “I honestly think,” says one friend, “in 100 years, they’ll say that whatever he did, he succeeded not because he was John F. Kennedy Jr. but in spite of it.” —Michael Gross for New York Magazine, originally published in March 20, 1989 

A federal judge refused to send a legal battle over a “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” remake back to state court, despite pleas by attorneys for writer Truman Capote’s trust that they mistakenly alleged copyright infringement. Paramount Pictures has designs on producing a feature film or television series remake of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s,” the 1961 classic starring Audrey Hepburn, and has a screenplay ready for the reboot. The film was based on the novella of the same name, which Truman Capote wrote in 1958. After his death, domestic property rights to the novella transferred from Paramount to the Truman Capote Literary Trust, a charity Capote established before his death. In 1991, the charitable trust entered into a settlement with Paramount granting certain rights for an eventual remake of the classic film. The controversy in the current legal battle arises from the parties’ differing interpretations of the 1991 agreement. Paramount claims the agreement granted it full rights to the novella and allows the studio to produce a “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” remake at any time. The trust has received seven-figure offers for a television series remake of the novella, the lawsuit said, adding that Paramount executives are allegedly also hip to the idea and hope to pitch a series to a streaming platform. Source:

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the tale of the romantic misadventures of two gold-diggers, Holly Golightly and her upstairs neighbor, Paul Varjak, both of whom are skating through their 20s by having sex with and taking money from older and richer people. Of course, they both maintain their self-respect by keeping a discreet distance between the sex-giving and money-taking, so that the quid pro quo is not too brazenly obvious. Capote said that Holly was an “American geisha.” Both Holly and Paul rationalize their choices by reference to a mission. Holly wants to buy land and horses and Paul is a writer who needs a patron to give him time to work on his great novel. But it is not working. Both show symptoms of social isolation. He’s got writer’s block. As Holly notes, he doesn’t even have a ribbon in his typewriter. Paul is the prouder and more serious of the two. Holly is top banana in the flake department. Which, of course, means that Paul suffers greatly at Holly’s hands when he falls in love with her. 

The basic plot of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is quite simple. Paul Varjak—played by George Peppard at the peak of his Nordic-preppy good looks—moves into an apartment on Manhattan’s upper east side and meets his ditzy downstairs neighbor. Holly Golightly is rootless, a drifter, a flake. She has an orange cat, but she hasn’t given him a name. Her favorite place in the world is Tiffany’s, the jewelers on Fifth Avenue. She declares to Paul that if she ever finds a place that makes her feel like Tiffany’s, she’ll put down roots and give the cat a name. Paul’s apartment isn’t exactly “him” either. It looks like an expensive European hotel room. It was decorated before his arrival by his patron, Mrs. Failenson, nicknamed “2E,” played by a radiant Patricia Neal. The movie creates the character of Paul from the novel’s unnamed narrator. 2E and her relationship with Paul are inventions of the screenwriter, which considerably deepens the character and his relationship with Holly, creating dramatic conflict through “irreconcilable similarities.” For Paul, gold-digging is a short-term strategy, to get his start in life, at which time he will settle down with a nice girl and take care of her. For Holly, however, gold-digging is a long-term strategy to find a husband, who will take care of her forever.

Holly is just not Lula Mae anymore. She has constructed a whole new identity for herself. She got rid of her Okie accent with French lessons, courtesy of a Hollywood producer, Berman, and she has a fabulous circle of rich male friends—whom she rates as “rats” and “super-rats”—competing for her attention. When she sees a heartbroken Doc off at the Greyhound Bus station, she tells him that she’s a “wild thing” and that one should never fall in love with wild things, because they will just break your heart. In truth, Holly is just a flake who doesn’t know who she is or what she wants and is afraid of real relationships and real commitments. Berman thinks Holly is a phony, but he debates whether she is a real phony or not—a real phony being someone who believes his own nonsense. The whole sequence moves from creepy, to comical, to corny, to deeply moving. That’s the magic of this film. Paul now knows her story but loves her all the more. He hopes that she will get a little more serious about life, and maybe about him. 

Paul enjoys taking care of Holly. It makes him feel strong and manly. Being taken care of by 2E is convenient but emasculating. Unsurprisingly, Holly proves to be the better muse than 2E. Awakening Paul’s manliness also awakens his creativity. Thus Paul is appalled when Holly declares that she is no longer going to play the field. She is going to set her sights on marrying Rusty Trawler, the ninth richest man in America under fifty, despite the fact that he is a tittering pig-faced manlet. Paul gives Holly a powerful talking to. He tells her that people really do belong to one another and that it is the only real chance we have of happiness. In today’s rabidly individualistic society, these are unfashionable sentiments, but deeply romantic and stirring ones. Paul actually reaches Holly. He actually changes her heart. She runs into the rain, searching for the cat, whom she finds, then Paul and Holly embrace, the prototype of a human family that may come to be. The end—a happy one, we hope. Unsurprisingly, modern arbiters of virtue don’t like Breakfast at Tiffany’s very much. It is obviously heteronormative, anti-feminist, and otherwise “problematic.” I highly recommend Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But what is most enchanting about this film can’t be captured in prose. It simply must be seen—for the beautiful people, the iconic fashions, and its portrayal of a glamorous, safe, overwhelmingly white New York City. It's a character study that even manages to have a “message”—and a wholesome one at that. It communicates the joys and follies of youth in America at its peak—an age of seemingly infinite potential—and the necessity of finally growing up and actually taking a stand. Source:

Monday, April 12, 2021

JFK: pillar of sanity, Jackie & Lee, Tipping Point

"JFK had a capacity for backing off and watching himself perform, and later commenting on what he’d seen and heard with a quick, half-sublimated sense of humor that often made him seem like a pillar of sanity in the thieving, swinish chaos of American politics. He seemed like the only man who knew what was happening, and although there was rarely any way to guess what he might decide to do about it, there was always the chance that he might find an opening to do something right. His killing has put me in a state of shock. The rage is trebled. I was not prepared at this time for the death of hope, but here it is. This is the end of reason, the dirtiest hour in our time. From now until the 1964 elections every man with balls should be on the firing line. No matter what, today is the end of an era. No more fair play. From now on it is dirty pool in the clinches. The savage nuts have shattered the great myth of American decency. Fiction is dead. The stakes are now too high and the time too short. Politics will become a cockfight and reason will go by the boards. There will have to be somebody to carry the flag. My concept of the new novel would have fit this situation, but now I see no hope for getting it done, if indeed, any publishing houses survive the Nazis scramble that is sure to come. How could we have known, or even guessed? I think we have come to that point. We now enter the era of President Johnson and the hardening of the arteries. Neither your children nor mine will ever be able to grasp what Gatsby was after. No more of that. -"Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967" (1997) by Hunter S. Thompson

Richard Nixon suffered a cerebrovascular accident on April 18, 1994, at his home in Park Ridge, New Jersey, and was taken to New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center. After an initial favorable prognosis, Nixon slipped into a deep coma and died four days later. Jackie Kennedy was admitted twice at the New York Hospital-Cornell during the last months of her life. She was at the Stavros-Niarchos suite. The nurses remembered that Jackie, despite her deteriorated state, had a good laugh when they wheeled her up to the suite and she saw the big Stavros plaque on the door (The Stavros-Niarchos Greek family, the shipping clan who had been the greatest rivals of Aristotle Onassis, had made an important donation to the hospital and the Suite was named in their honor.) Jackie by then was suffering from gastric bleeds. One evening, the nurses wheeled her down to visit Richard Nixon, who had fallen into a coma. She mumbled then some words to Mr. Nixon, which he seemed to appreciate slightly. Jackie was released the next morning and—knowing she had just left a couple of weeks to live—she chose to stay at her apartment by arranging her assisted-death by a physician at home. When the President Kennedy had been killed, Richard Nixon had sent Jackie a telegram, assuring her: "I really admired your husband, Ms Kennedy. Despite the destiny lead us to become political enemies, I always admired him. I send your family my prayers." 

At the White House, Richard Nixon had reached out to Jackie Kennedy several times. "Can you imagine the gift you gave me?" Jackie wrote in a thank-you note to Richard and Pat Nixon, dated the day after the family visited the White House (February 3, 1971). Jackie wrote: "To return to the White House privately with my little ones while they are still young enough to rediscover their childhood—with you both as guides—and with your daughters, such extraordinary young women." She added that the president and first lady had spoiled her kids Caroline and John Jr. "beyond belief" with a "superb dinner" that included a "precious bottle of Bordeaux." Source:

As both sisters, Jackie and Lee Bouvier, came to define the parameters of modern celebrity culture, so they would experience its dark side in the ’70s. Jackie, widowed for a second time after Onassis’ death in 1975, moved back to New York and became a book editor at Doubleday. She was now dating Maurice Tempelsman, a Belgian-born industrialist and diamond merchant, but she remained a subject of endless speculation and gossip fodder; the proto-paparazzi photographer Ron Galella became her unofficial stalker, snatching hundreds of off-duty pictures of her, before she won a restraining order against him. Lee had become embroiled in a libel case that Gore Vidal had brought against Capote, after the latter had accused Vidal of being thrown out of a 1961 White House function after putting his arm around Jackie and insulting her mother, adding that Lee herself was the source of the story. Her response was imperious —“They're just a couple of fags fighting; it’s just the most disgusting thing”—goading Capote to turn attack-dog, accusing Lee of jealousy towards her sister (“The princess kind of had it in mind that she was going to marry Mr. Onassis herself”), and eviscerating her break-up with photographer Peter Beard, and on-again-off-again engagement to San Francisco hotelier Newton Cope (“She said he was a nobody who was riding on her coattails”). 

In their latter years, the sisters maintained their lifelong commitment to discretion. Jackie died in 1994, of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; her son, the ill-fated JFK Jr., announced that “she died surrounded by family and friends and the things she loved. She did it her own way, on her own terms.” Once Capote said of Gore Vidal: “I’m always sad about Gore—very sad that he has to breathe every day.” Vidal retorted: “Truman Capote made lying an art form—a minor art form.” The spat, legal and otherwise, springs from a 1975 Playgirl interview in which Capote charged that Vidal had been bounced from a 1961 White House party because of drunken and obnoxious behavior. Should it ever come to trial, the case could feature cameo court appearances by such eminent eyewitnesses as John Kenneth Galbraith, George Plimpton, Arthur Schlesinger Jr.—and even Jackie Kennedy herself. Guests at the party deny that Vidal was forcibly ejected, though they confirm that he squabbled with Bobby Kennedy. Capote kept attacking Lee Radziwill: "Lee really thought she had Onassis nailed down. Lee pretended to have great contempt for Onassis and the marriage. She wasn't in love with him. But she liked all those tankers. I'm not sure that Lee's ever been in love with anybody. Of course, Lee had a crush on Jack Kennedy. Why wouldn't she? Lee was always saying, 'Why do they always write about the Kennedys? They're so dull.'" Capote also added, "Men to both Lee and Jackie are to be totally controlled, nothing but foot slaves. Lee and Jackie really do think they are royalty.'" And neither of them was going to suffer for money, according to Capote. 

"Lee owned a very valuable piece of land in Greece. I think she got it from Onassis. And she owns a lot of real estate in Long Island. She's the most extravagant girl I have ever met. No more than Jackie, though. They have the sense of the right to luxury." This whole experience with Radziwill made him think about friendship and what it meant. "Her conniving against me with Gore when I was the single most loyal friend she ever had, it's very hurtful to put it mildly," he said. When he heard that Radziwill had given a deposition to Vidal's lawyer saying she never told Capote the story that Vidal got thrown out of the White House, "She just said I was a liar, that's all. I called her to get an explanation. I talked to her secretary. She never called back." Capote says that he was Radziwill's No. 1 confidant until he went through "that long period when I was in and out of the hospital, I wasn't communicating with anybody. But of all my friends she never wrote me once to say she hoped I was getting well, or wished me luck with my problems. So far as I know there has never been any reason for this unbelievable conduct." Source:

Larry Hancock’s new book Tipping Point: The Conspiracy that Murdered President John Kennedy  (2021) is a concise summary of his many decades long investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. Those who want a taste of  Tipping Point before purchasing it, you can read excerpts at the Mary Ferrell website here: 
Hancock lays out a very believable alternative scenario, one that connects all of the main subjects to Cuba, and defines the essence of a covert intelligence operation, the means by which the conspirators achieved their goal, and got away with it. Tipping Point picks up where Josiah Thompson’s Last Second in Dallas leaves off, with the President’s head shattered by two almost simultaneous shots, one from the front and one from behind. While Thompson gives a micro analysis of the eyewitness reports, ballistics, medical evidence, and acoustics, fitting them all together without speculating who was behind the triggers, Hancock puts things in their Cuban context, lays out a chronology and gives names to those who are the most likely candidates for pulling off such an audacious triangulation of firepower. As with the subjects in his previous book Someone Would Have Talked, and as CIA official Rolf Mowatt-Larsen explained in his 2019 CAPA presentation in Dallas, the suspects are limited to those who had the capability to conduct such complex covert intelligence operations. James Angleton ran the CIA counter-intelligence office that kept particularly keen tabs on Lee Harvey Oswald before the assassination, counter-insurgency expert General Ed Lansdale, William Harvey director of the anti-Castro Cuban Task Force W, along with Rip Robertson, all of whom are associated with the CIA’s Miami station JMWAVE, where most of the intrigue stems from. Besides documenting most of the references to records released under the JFK Act, Hancock refers to the CIA crypt files that translates the codes into English. Besides the usual suspects, Larry brings some relatively new names into the fold – Carl Jenkins and John I.F. Harper, CIA trainers who prepared the Cuban Pathfinders for the Bay of Pigs and later Mongoose commando attacks against Cuba. And Gene Wheaton, Jenkins’ former housemate and proprietor of a CIA airline propriety company. Wheaton tried to blow the whistle on what he knew about renegade CIA operations but  then CIA director William Casey was in on it, and the Assassination Records Review Board didn’t pay him any attention. Narrowing down the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro to the few that resemble the Dealey Plaza operation, Larry focuses on one particular plot – the Pathfinder Plan. From CIA technicians at the National Photo Interpretation Center (NPIC) we learn that Pathfinder was a plan to infiltrate anti-Castro Cuban commando snipers into Cuba and shoot Castro with high powered rifles as he rode by in an open jeep. Source:

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Will to Believe, Dismantling "The Other Man" (JFK Jr. & Carolyn Bessette)

As the American philosopher William James argues in The Will to Believe (1897), there’s a human weakness to letting belief ride on emotional factors such as ‘lively conception’ and ‘instinctive liking.’ As the American philosopher Robert Pippin wrote in 1991: "To be modern is to ‘demand independence, a freedom from historical tradition and the power to rule one’s own beliefs’. In this way, modernity took up the energy of religious belief and produced substitutes such as Marxism-Leninism, social justice and celebrity worship. A study published in Computers in Human Behavior (Volume 116, March 2021) suggests that brief exposure to online misinformation can unknowingly alter a person’s behavior. The experiment found that reading a fake news article slightly altered participants’ unconscious behavior. Study author Zach Bastick says that these filtered environments risk creating a “distorted reality” whereby users are exposed to content that reinforces distorted views at the expense of alternate viewpoints. “These findings raise deep concerns for the future of society and politics,” Bastick warns. “Disinformation risks skewing individuals’ worldviews and deleteriously informing their behavior. Deliberately produced and targeted disinformation aimed at behavior modification amplifies these risks.” Belief is an option, a choice between a set of theories or construals of reality. Source:

Carolyn Bessette was known by John Kennedy Jr's circle of friends as fond of cutting off people she didn't approve of. One of those people was Barbara Vaughn. She met John in 1989, and was friends with him until Carolyn banned her from entering her and John's apartment. Before that she got along fine with Carolyn, and even accompanied her and John on a trip to Honduras in November 1994. Barbara wouldn't tell exactly what she did to make Carolyn feel so negatively about her, but from what Steve Gillon knew, basically Barbara and John had an intimate relationship after the Daryl Hannah breakup in 1994, and John never mentioned it to Carolyn. “'John described receiving messages from distant contacts in his father’s administration and members of far-flung aristocratic families proposing introductions, which he gracefully sidestepped,'” John’s friend Barbara Vaughn told Steve Gillon. “John would be monogamous for long periods of time, but once he felt the relationship fizzling out he would search for a replacement before breaking up,” Gillon explained. Somehow, John had managed to juggle Daryl Hannah, Carolyn Bessette, Julie Baker and Barbara Vaughn together for some time. No small feat!

Barbara Vaughn took this photo of John at George's office. Barbara commented about his friendship with John: "Everyone has their own angle, perspective, and agenda in this arena. Mine is just to keep to myself and only share what I’m comfortable with. Steve Gillon said it well: “I protected John’s privacy during his lifetime, and now I want to preserve his legacy”. Carolyn knew me, knew John liked me and respected me, and I was one of John’s “Ivy League” pals. This is difficult for me to say, but I think I was a threat in her eyes. For my two cents, Carolyn was very warm and generous with me until the point where she felt uncomfortable, and I know exactly when, where, and why that happened, and I don’t fault her for her feelings." John had visited Mike Tyson in jail in March, 1999. Later Tyson mentioned in his biography "Undisputed Truth" (2013): "John was talking about other women and I got a sense he was going through a lot of shit with his wife. He told me 'When you get out of jail, give me a little time to handle some stuff with my wife. Then you and I have got to hang out'."

According to a friend of a roommate of Julie Baker, she and John were hanging out together in the last days before the plane crash: "When John died my good friend had to go stay with Julie, apparently JFK Jr was still dating her when he died, she was a wreck apparently." Julie revealed to Gillon that she regretted taking part in the ABC 2020 documentary "The Last Days of JFK Jr", because people were poking into her past, and questioning her. Also Gillon explained that Julie got Lyme disease in 2009, and lost her memory and had a hard time remembering her time with John at the Stanhope hotel. However, Julie was able to remember her first date with John in 1989 when she spoke to Town & Country magazine in 2019, but couldn't remember the last time she spent with John in 1999. Every time John got back from his monthly lunch with Julie, Carolyn would tell Rosemarie Terenzio to call her. John was also helping Julie pay her rent, since her modeling contract was over. In the late 90s she was a sales clerk at a Menswear store, Seize Sur Vingt. John used to support her buying from her over the other clerks, and would recommend her to his friends, but the suits she sold John didn't fit right. What most people don't know is that Julie Baker was engaged to volleyball player Patrick Boyle from 1993-1994. 

She broke off her engagement just one week before the wedding, and she was seen soon after kissing John in NYC, on September 4, 1994. Carolyn wasn't fond of John's ex-girlfriend Julie Baker. According to Rosemarie Terenzio: "In November 1997, Carolyn decided to invite Julie Baker over to the apartment for John's birthday. Julie of course accepted that invitation. At one point during the party, Julie went over and sat in John's lap, and 'got cozy'. Carolyn got angry and told her that was inappropriate. I don't know what happened after that, but Julie wasn't invited to John's birthday again." This didn't stop John from making sure that Rosemarie Terenzio scheduled monthly lunches with Julie Baker, who would also hang out at his George office. 

Julie visited John at his hotel room at the Stanhope on the Wednesday before he died. There is some information that hasn't been printed about this visit. The following day on Thursday, July 15, John and Gary Ginsburg went to see a Yankees game at around 7:30 pm, the game didn't finish until 10:30-11:00 pm. Anyway, John and Gary drove to the Stanhope hotel together after the game and when they arrived, Gary helped John grab his stuff up to his room. Gary said that Julie Baker was waiting for John in the hotel lobby. Gillon didn't think this information was important, and when he asked Baker, she said she had no recollection. She did however remember John hanging out at her apartment a week before the crash. It seems something was going on between them. They were still in contact regardless of Carolyn's feelings towards her. Here's an excerpt from Sons of Camelot, "Gary was a good and trusted friend. Yet he saw only veiled hints of the personal difficulties his friend was going through. They started talking about Julie Baker, though John did not let on that he had just seen her twice at the Stanhope hotel. Julie was a temptation to him, as he had admitted a few months before; she was a voluptuous, passionate woman who may still have been in love with him."

Sasha Chermayeff said John would often speak about Julie Baker but he never brought Julie around his mother Jackie Kennedy. Sasha also told: "My own feelings are that it isn’t any of my business about John and Julie. I know his friendship (with “benefits” as they say) with Julie was real, and was on and off for years. She wasn’t a family intimate who was invited to dinner with his mother and such, but her claims to intimacy with John are founded, from my perspective, more so in fact than other women who claim to have been close with him. She was not a great love of his life, but their closeness at times throughout his life I believe was genuine, for what it’s worth." William D. Cohan, author of "Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short" (2019) writes: "Sasha Chermayeff said she spoke with John about the fact that his wife wouldn’t sleep with him. He was upset about it. He was in therapy. He may have, eventually, had casual sexual interludes with Julie Baker, a former girlfriend, but he was, Chermayeff said, “very serious, and very seriously committed to the fact that he had fallen madly in love with Carolyn. They had this really passionate beginning, which Herb Ritts photographed incredibly. I mean when they were madly in love. He took these incredibly super sexy pictures of John and Carolyn where they were like on fire. She even said to me, ‘We were like on fire during this session,’ and you can tell.” (The photographs have never been made public.) But she [Carolyn] was fickle, Chermayeff continued."

Also Daryl Hannah didn't like Julie Baker as it was proven in an article about the TV movie "Rear Window" that came out in 1998: "The former star of “Splash” is co-starring opposite Christopher Reeve in the ABC remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.” Daryl Hannah has the role originally played by Grace Kelly (the Princess of Monaco), but a source close to the production says according to a source on the set, not all has been smooth. When Daryl Hannah looked out the window and saw actress Julie Baker, once a rival for John F. Kennedy Jr.’s affections, “She really wigged out,” says a source. “She said, ‘What’s she doing here?’ Julie was cast as the 'luscious woman'."

Isabel Jones wrote in InStyle magazine (July 19, 2019): "While John and Carolyn’s relationship no doubt had its complications, Kennedy is thought to have remained faithful to his wife throughout their marriage. Steve Gillon writes that John had told friends, “I wish I could cheat on her,” but couldn’t bear to “humiliate Carolyn the way his father had done his mother.” However, it seems the same could not be said for Carolyn Bessette, who appears to have had an affair with Calvin Klein underwear model Michael Bergin." Sadly, Ms Jones is not the only journalist who has contributed to spread this colossal lie about a false romantic relationship between ex-model Michael Bergin and Carolyn Bessette post-marriage with John Kennedy Jr. (1996). There is a myriad of examples that undermine and ultimately discredit The Other Man (Bergin's atrocious biography first published by Harper in 2004). For example, Bergin talks about a date as part of his clandestine affair that took place in late June/early July 1997. But Michael Bergin was lying about the affair, since JFK Jr didn't go to Iceland in July, he went in mid-August. So absolutely no, Carolyn Bessette didn't have sex with Michael Bergin post-marriage. More proof that specific affair didn't happen in the summer of 1997 is the fact that Carolyn was staying in New York, not in Los Angeles during John's trip to Iceland.

An acquaintance of Bergin confessed: "I know Michael Bergin very well. He wrote the book because he was broke. Carolyn used Michael to get John's attention. Do you really think she would have chosen an underwear model over the most eligible guy on the planet? She was many things, but stupid was not one of them. Carolyn helped Michael get the CK job. They met at a bar randomly. Judith Regan helped Bergin with the book. Michael Bergin's book was full of lies." Another egregious glitch in Bergin's prefabricated timeline: "Michael Bergin claims he once called Carolyn at her job at Calvin Klein after her engagement," notes one friend. "Trouble is, she'd already quit Calvin by then." Among several defamatory accusations, Bergin claimed that Bessette had two abortions and a miscarriage while she was dating both Kennedy and Bergin. But, sorry again, Michael: "Carolyn was using birth control as long as I knew her," argued a longtime friend. 

The photo that proves Gordon Henderson attended the wedding ceremony of John Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette. Now let's compare the truth with another of the false stories of Bergin—Another extract from The Other Man: "Gordon Henderson called me while I was reading an account of the ceremony in The New York Times. He was practically in tears. Carolyn had told him he would design her wedding dress, but instead she had gone to Narciso Rodriguez, an up-and-coming designer. Even worse, Gordon hadn't been invited to the wedding. 'I will never forgive her,' he said it without conviction."

In an interview with Greta Van Susteren for Fox, on March 30, 2004, Michael Bergin stated: "They're making Carolyn look like a coke addict. I'm coming forward to tell the world that she didn't dabble in drugs. She didn't like it. She got mad at me when I did it. But, all of a sudden, like she's a coke addict. You know, Ed Klein interviewed me, and he said all of this nasty stuff. He got me on the phone. He said I'm printing this, I know this and whatever, and it scared me. It scared me to death. So I spoke to him. And he asked me about an affair. I -- in about 20 different ways, I told him it wasn't true, as far as I know she's happily married. I didn't want this stuff to come out." So basically Michael Bergin was pressured by Ed Klein (a long time antagonist of the Kennedy clan) to release a book after Klein first made the false allegations about Carolyn of drug abuse and infidelity in his salacious and defamatory book The Kennedy Curse (2003).

Matt Berman (editor of George magazine): I was eating potato chips in my dismal gray-carpeted office, glad to have a moment to myself. I took a sip of Snapple and turned to see a beautiful woman leaning into my doorway. “Are you Matt?” she asked. I looked up, squinting in the harsh fluorescent light. Great, she had caught me smeared with potato chip grease. She came into the office and offered her hand and a huge smile. “Hi, I’m Carolyn.” [Carolyn Bessette meeting Matt Berman] She was gorgeous in a flowered summer dress and high heels. Wavy dirty-blonde hair framed her face. She crouched close behind me, her face almost resting on my shoulder as we looked at the logos together. She smelled incredibly good. Thrusting her hand into my bag of chips, she said, “I’m starving, can I have some?” Later, she told John, “The logos are young, cool, they look exactly right.” I was in love. And I got the job.

Carolyn was exciting to me because she looked so exotic, with her full lips, white hair, and azure eyes, yet she came from a normal suburban family like I did. I can picture her sitting on a bar stool at Odeon, rumbling with laughter, then stopping me mid-sentence to carefully remove an eyelash from my cheek with her pinky. She was glamorous, and protected and empowered me. Just as my office had become Carolyn’s refuge, my hideout was in the office of the publisher, Elinore Carmody. I found a photocopy of a poster of the blonde actress Carroll Baker in the film Baby Doll—a grown woman lying in a crib, sucking her thumb. John had us fax it to Carolyn at home, a joke making fun of her for not working and being a lady of leisure. John never looked at my scars, he never once asked what happened. The thing that I thought alienated me he didn’t even notice—he concentrated on my essence. 

John saw past flaws and had the ability to see people regardless of how they presented themselves or were seen by others. He taught me that my flaws allowed me to develop gifts that helped me to live in a world that was far from perfect. Of course, John’s face was perfect. Jean-Louis once brought a famous Indian plastic surgeon named Rajan to the George offices to meet him. I stood to the side and watched as this guy marveled at John’s face to the point of making John so uncomfortable that he started scratching his nose to break the man’s trance. John was flawless. But Jean-Louis said John wasn’t perfect: “He has very short teeth.” Being scarred myself made me hypersensitive to physical flaws in others. John had the ability to see inner flaws in people, and always responded with empathy. He’d be polite and make a beeline for the shyest person in the room and talk to them. He’d engage someone he could tell was nervous about meeting him by asking them a question that was easy to answer. —"JFK Jr, George and Me: A Memoir" (2014) by Matt Berman  

Friday, April 09, 2021

JFK Jr & Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy video

John F Kennedy Jr & Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy video.