51 Years Later

Today no one in New York mentioned JFK’s bad day in Dallas.

Neither the BBC, New York Times, nor Al-Jazeera wrote a single line about the November 22, 1963 tragedy, proving the old adage that as you get old you forget and as you get older you are forgotten.

51 years might be a long time for some people, but I can remember exactly what I was wearing, as Sister Mary Honore sobbingly announced over the intercom, “The president has been shot dead in Dallas.”

The standard uniform for St. Mary’s of the Hills was a blue tie, white shirt, and navy blue slacks.

On the bus ride home 5th Grade Paul O’Conner said, “Well, I guess that settles what the Kennedys are getting for Christmas. A Jack in the Box.”

The older boys beat him up for his bad taste, because even 8th Graders understood that America had been changed forever and not necessarily for the better. School was cancelled for the rest of that week and I hung my school uniform in the closet till that next Monday.

There was nothing on TV throughout the weekend.

No cartoons.

No movies.

Only the dead president’s funeral, although CBS showed NFL football on Sunday.

The upstart AFL cancelled their games, which was the turning point for their league.

In the months that followed the Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey acted alone. Conspiracy theorists have refuted this finding as well as the official Single Bullet Theory, attributing the assassination to the CIA, Castro, the Mafia, Cuban exile groups, and anti-communist Pentagon cliques.

Of course my theory runs counter to the mainstream in that I think RFK arranged his brother’s death for having ordered the murder of Marilyn Monroe by J. Edgar Hoover.

I wrote recently that I had only been in two movies; THE LAST SONG and a foot fetish short, however three years ago my friend Randy Koral came out from Paris to film a version of my short story THE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. We changed the setting to Thailand and the fat man was on the run to Cambodia. I played the lead and Nick Rieter starred as the black operative hitman.

My screenplay centered on a long monologue of my JFK assassination theory. The day of this scene I had a 103 fever. Every attempt to complete this three-minute piece ended in failure further proving the wisdom of my never having pursued an acting career.

Nick on the other hand was great.

Cockney accent and bad teeth.

The film was never edited to a rough cut. Randy was soon diagnosed with brain cancer. Two operations in France has him in remission. He is supposedly coming to New York next month. Maybe we can reshoot the flubbed scenes then.

I miss JFK, especially after seeing the film 13 DAYS, which shows how a real president should act in a crisis.

His last words in Dallas were in in response to Governor Connelly’s saying, “You can’t say the people of Dallas don’t love you.”

“No, I wouldn’t say that.”

Four shots proved them wrong.

Here’s to you John, We barely knew you.

THE BIRTH OF THE BOUFFANT by Peter Nolan Smith

In the late-18th Century Marie Antoinette’ coiffeur sought to camouflage the queen’s baldness by upsweeping her thinning tresses to cascade over her ears. The femme fatales of the ancien regime imitated ‘le bouffant, until the royal coif lost its popularity with the Marie’s final haircut by the guillotine.

Almost two centuries later Jackie Kennedy, JFK’s wife, reincarnated the fashion during her tenure at the White House.

American women idolized the glamorous First Lady regardless of their politics.

Overnight millions of housewives hit their local hair salon to acquire the look.

Movie stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Kim Novak further popularized the rage and within months the only women rejecting the coif were Durgin Park’s gang of crew-cut bull dyke waitresses and the nuns at my grammar school, Our Lady of the Foothills.

The bouffant died out with the advent of the hippie era.

Young women grew long hair and coif was once more threatened with extinction, except for brief respite from the lead singers of the B-52s and the late English singer Amy Winehouse.

Last year Jamie Parker and I were happy-houring at Solas in the East Village. We had the Irish bartender to ourselves. Moira liked a good laugh and Jamie told her stories of his go-go bar in Pattaya.

After our second margharita an attractive woman walked into a shadowy bar. Her bleached blonde hair was stacked high on her head. Stiletto heels added another five inches to her Amazonian height.

“A model.” Jamie Parker smirked at the passing beauty in designer drag.

“Probably coming from a shoot.” The actresses in TV show MADMEN had revitalized the early 60s, although few woman in present-day America could pull off the time-travel make-over.

“She looks like a 1960s transvestite.” The lanky ex-con squinted down the bar.

“And that’s a bad thing.” I caught the scent of Chanel No.5. She was high-class.

The goddess sat at the end of the bar and Moira went to attend to her need. She was into girls.

“Not in this light.” It was almost night that deep in Solas.

“You don’t like the bouffant?”

“Not at all.”

“And why not?”

“Because the Mr. Kenneth who re-invented the hair style for Jackie Kennedy was queer.”

“You have something against gays?” Back in the 60s gays were feared by young men, unless they were looking for a good time. This was the modern times. Gay-bashing was not in fashion.

“Me, I love gays, but gay hairdressers used the bouffant hair style as a strategy to turn straight men gay.”

“What do you mean?” I wasn’t following Jamie’s line of thoughtlessness.

“Just that it’s not a really natural look and women refused to have sex to avoid ruining the helmet of hair on their head, so men sought release elsewhere.”

“With other men?”

“The sexual revolution freed us from our chains.” Jamie was a couple of years older than me, although he didn’t look it.

“I had a girlfriend with a bouffant in 1965.” Jo and I met in the Mattapan Oriental Theater. We were both 13.

“And you went all the way?”

“Not even close.” Steel-rimmed bras safeguarded against any attempts by unschooled boys to reach ‘second base’.

“See.”

“It had nothing to do with the bouffant.”

“You’re from Boston. Men from Boston love Jackie Kennedy’s bouffant. You probably went to bed jerking off to the First Lady.”

“Not that I can remember.” Jackie O rode horses and spoke French. Women like her were destined to marry rich regardless of their hairstyle. “Jo was my muse. I know my place.”

“Don’t we all.” Jamie was in the States visiting his mother. She lived in the Bronx and thought that he was teaching school in Thailand, instead of running the Pigpen A Go-Go featuring fat pretty bar girls and skinny ugly pole dancers.

“My mom had a bouffant.”

“Mine too.”

“It had them feel like a queen.”

“Better than knowing your place.”

“Send the princess a drink on us,” Jamie told Moira.

“Happily.” Moira played for the other side.

“Do you like the bouffant?”

“It’s very Kim Novak.” The blonde had mesmerized Hitchcock in his film VERTIGO.

“Wasn’t she gay?” Jamie asked eying me.

“I think so.” Moira played for the other side. She was holding the model’s hand. They looked like a nice couple.

If only for happy hour.

“Ah, here’s to the bouffant.” Jamie raised his glass.

“And Jackie O.”

At my age I might think about her once in a while.

After all she was the mother of the modern bouffant.

Who Killed the Kennedys?


The night Barack Obama was elected president, people danced in the streets of New York. Our man had won against the GOP. I looked into the eyes of a man my age and we started crying, not out of joy, but in relief of having endured the lost years since November 22 1963.

Obama was one of us. He took office two months later. The presidential limousine drove him from the inauguration stage to a series of parties. Thousands of supporters gladhanded their president and at the end of the festivities Barack Obama found himself in the White House.

He had it all.

The Oval Office.

The Red Phone to Moscow.

The Briefcase.

They were his along with two wars and a shattered economy. He must have looked at his wife and said, “What now?”

If I was Michelle, I would have said, “What about the Kennedys?”

Then again I’m from Boston.

The President has been politically wounded by Obamacare, the budget fights, and defection from his base, but he still has access to the deep, dark secrets buried by various agency; Roswell, Martin Luther King, Pearl Harbor.

We have too many questions, yet nothing new has come to light during his administration and considering the body count for asking the wrong questions, I can appreciate his patience.

It takes time to unbury the truth.

Even fifty years after the fact and it doesn’t look like Obama is going to get it for us either.

$1.19 Steak At Tad’s

I ate my first steak at Tad’s.

1964.

Someplace near Penn Station

$1.19

I made five times that as a newspaper boy.

We were not wage slaves in the age of Tad’s Steakhouse.

Stranger Stranger

Family.

Sigh.

Maybe I remember the better moments of life.

I don’t think so.

Then again I am far from a perfect person.

As anyone can judge from this missive from my cousin.

“I think of you all every day, unfavorably and with sorrow. It is, I suppose, kind of you to contact me but, sadly, too late, too little, too meaningless. I remember how I was there for you for Michael and for Angie. But you were not there for me following David’s suicide. A wonderful, joyful childhood, rich in cousinly play and adventure, evaporated into nothingness. Memories betrayed and made distant. Of the lot, only Gina retains any claim to ethical conduct.

Nevertheless, I wish you happiness and prosperity, as I would any stranger.”

I was her brother’s friend.

The Bishop and I played B-Ball together.

I spoke to him a week before his deciding to end it all.

I think about Davie all the time.

I am not a stranger.

Not to the Bishop.