Wednesday Reads: JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Elmore Leonard…the NRA and a Southern Avenger

6d25834135f51b9333abf83b9fbc9166Good Morning

Hey, the title of this morning’s post is longer than the actual body of the post itself.

As usual, the first few days of school are spent wasting time and pulling hairs, with papers to sign and forms to fill out…and of course it goes without saying, it also includes dealing with teenagers that turn what remaining hairs you do have left gray.

Two links for you on JFK:

JFK Second Shooter? New Documentary Makes Radical Claim

A new documentary alleges that a Secret Service agent was the second (and accidental) shooter in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

At the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles on Sunday, producers and investigators behind Reelz Channel’s new documentary “JFK: The Smoking Gun” made the claim that George Hickey, a Secret Service agent riding in the car behind Kennedy, accidentally shot the president on Nov. 22, 1963. The film follows veteran police detective Colin McLaren in his four-year investigation of the assassination and points at Hickey, who died two years ago.

McLaren’s research built on the work of Howard Donahue, who spent 20 years studying the assassination and had his findings documented in Bonar Menninger’s book Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK.

[…]

Based on his painstaking investigation, McLaren said, evidence suggests Hickey was not qualified to use the weapon he was holding the morning of the shooting.

“It was his first time in the follow car, his first time holding the assault weapon he was using,” McLaren said. Producers said the film’s theory is that shots rang out, and Hickey grabbed his weapon to return fire. When his car stopped suddenly, Hickey accidentally discharged his weapon — making him the second shooter, the film’s investigators and producers alleged.

McLaren said he believes that Hickey’s weapon had hollow-point rounds — different from the ammunition for the weapon used by Lee Harvey Oswald, whom the Warren Commission declared in 1964 was the lone gunman in the case. Menninger and McLaren said that based on their review of the forensics in the case, they believe that Kennedy was also struck by a hollow-point round.

And if that doesn’t get you going…maybe this one will:  New book claims Marilyn Monroe hoped to marry John F. Kennedy

Marilyn Monroe, who notoriously had an affair with John F. Kennedy, apparently believed she was going to marry the president, even phoning the White House to tell his wife.

The story, reported in a new book out Tuesday by journalist Christopher Andersen, asserts that Jackie Kennedy even told Monroe that the screen siren was welcome to take over her role as first lady.

“And you’ll move into the White House and you’ll assume the responsibilities of first lady, and I’ll move out and you’ll have all the problems,” she reportedly told Monroe.

The incident is just one layer of the complex marriage in the year before the president was assassinated, according to the new account.

The book chronicles how Jackie was begged to stay by her husband even in the face of a nuclear strike, how the couple withstood the death of their newborn son Patrick, as well as how they weathered JFK’s many extramarital affairs.

It aims to answer whether the pair, 33 and 46 when JFK was killed, who captured the hearts of the nation, truly loved one another.

According to Andersen’s research, Jackie was well aware of her husband’s many infidelities, but was only upset over Marilyn — not because of the affair, itself, but because the first lady feared the scandal set her up for public ridicule.

Honestly, it all seems like some version of the History Channel’s brand of historic docudrama meets Lifetime…television for idiots.

Speaking of idiots: Senator Rand Paul denies his former ‘Southern Avenger’ aide was racist

“I do think he was unfairly treated by the media, and he was put up as target practice for people to say he’s a racist, and none of that was true. If you look at his writings, I think there are a lot of problems and a lot of disagreements and none of it do I support. But none of it was racist. He got along with everyone in the office, treated everyone fairly without regards to race or religion.”

And more idiots: Informal ‘White Student Union’ started at Georgia State

Freshman Patrick Sharp said he started the club so that students of European and Euro-American descent can celebrate their shared history and culture and discuss issues that affect white people, such as immigration and affirmative action.

And yes…you got it…a shit more idiots: National Rifle Association Enemies List Now Includes Scientists, Zoos

In a move bizarrely reminiscent of its “anti-gun” enemies list, the National Rifle Association announced a new plan Friday to target scientists, environmental groups, government regulators and individuals who favor banning the use of lead in gun ammunition.

The targeted attacks are part of Hunt for Truth.org, a newly revamped effort by the nation’s largest gun lobby to block attempts to regulate the use of lead in bullets. Regulations have been proposed in some states after studies have shown that millions of birds — most notably the highly endangered California condor — are dying of lead poisoning after ingesting lead bullet fragments.

[…]The NRA singled out a law under consideration in California which would require hunters in the Golden State to use lead-free ammunition. Lead free bullets are widely available from top manufacturers, and have not been shown to function any differently than bullets containing the highly toxic element.

In order to rally its members to oppose the lead regulation, the NRA described a conspiracy theory involving crooked scientists, phony research, and a shadowy network of nonprofits, zoos and government agencies all conspiring to ban hunting.

According to the NRA, an “activist portion of the scientific community” has formed “a highly organized network of like minded researchers with an agenda to ban lead ammunition.” In order to thwart this looming threat, “Hunt for Truth will expose the researchers associated with ‘faulty science’ critical of lead ammunition,” the gun lobby says.

Scientists aren’t the NRA’s only new targets. Nonprofits like the San Diego Zoo and the California Condor Recovery Team are also on the enemies list. The NRA claims these groups “have considerable influence over many legislators and regulators,” which they use to “capture” the regulatory agencies and bureaucrats responsible for lead ammunition restrictions.

[…]

As of Monday, the NRA had yet to list any scientists it planned to target, but there were seven environmental and wildlife conservation groups on the site, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity. Four government agencies were also singled out: the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the California Department of Fish and Game, the Los Angeles Zoo and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Crazy right-wing nuts!

There was some sad news yesterday, Elmore Leonard, Lauded Crime Novelist, Recovering After Stroke In Detroit-Area Hospital

Elmore Leonard, one of the most prolific and beloved crime novelists of the 20th century, is recovering in a Detroit-area hospital after a stroke, according to the Detroit News.

Gregg Sutter, the author’s longtime researcher, confirmed Monday that Leonard, 87, suffered the stroke on July 29. Leonard is currently working on his 46th novel.

“He’s doing better every day, and the family is guardedly optimistic,” Sutter told the Detroit News. “He’s showing great spirit. He’s a fighter, and we’re glad to see that.”

For someone who was such a brilliant and prolific writer…to suffer a stroke is devastating.

Last year, Leonard won the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

In his take on The Huffington Post’s regular “Where I Like To Read” column, Leonard wrote, “I don’t need anything else when I read. The sound of the words in my head is enough.”

That is so true…oh yes, it surely is.

Treat this as an open thread. Have a wonderful day, hope to see you in the comments later on in the day.


Caturday: Happy Birthday, Marilyn Monroe!

374478_358084140974846_313238422_nGood morning, newsjunkies!

Eighty-seven years ago today, the inimitable Marilyn Monroe was born. To the right is perhaps my favorite photo of Marilyn, taken by Anthony Beauchamp. It projects such strength and awesomeness…and so fabulously complements the vulnerable doe-eyed look that she is known and celebrated for elsewhere.

Huffpo has an interesting 1-and-a-half minute clip of an interview with Marilyn’s “closest” friend Amy Greene, from just two days ago. Greene talks about how she met Marilyn…and she has some very spirited and choice words summing up her thoughts on the film, My Week with Marilyn. I tried to embed the clip, but the code won’t work on wordpress. So please take a moment to click over and watch when you can. You won’t want to miss the punchline!

Also, if you are so inclined, check out this recent drama going down regarding a letter written by Marilyn. The letter in dispute is characterized as follows:

According to The Beverly Hills Courier, Monroe wrote the undated letter to Monroe’s longtime mentor and acting coach, Lee Strasberg, on Hotel Bel-Air stationary. It reads, in part, “My will is weak but I can’t stand anything. I sound crazy but I think I’m going crazy…It’s just that I get before a camera and my concentration and everything I’m trying to learn leaves me. Then I feel like I’m not existing in the human race at all.”

Wow, that gives me chills.

Huffpo also has a nice gallery of photos up for Marilyn’s birthday. One of the last photos:

marilyn5Undated photo shows US actress Marilyn Monroe a few weeks before she died in 05 August, 1962 at the age of 36. The circumstances of her death have never been cleared up. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Damn. Maybe it’s because I turned 32 a couple months ago, but to me that photo looks like a woman just getting started in life.

A few rare shots of Marilyn here, by a reporter who took these photos at the time as a teenager himself for his high school newspaper. He actually ended up selling them to some other small magazine instead of publishing them in his school paper. Anyhow, check them out. They’re all black and white and pretty fantastic for a high school paper photog!

marilyn.catAnd to the right, a sight for my 30-something crazy cat lady self! According to the internet, it’s Marilyn with her adopted kitty Serafina. I wish I could find the official credits for that photo, but all I was able to track it down on, through a cursory search, was pinterest- and fanpop-type sites. I’ll keep looking, or maybe one of you knows!

In the meantime, here are a few other news stories for you to nibble on this morning with your brew or beverage of choice…

This first one is a doozy. Wingnut radio tinfoil chaser says McCain was “hobnobbing with jihadists” with his Syria trip, and Gohmert faults McCain for being partly responsible for Benghazi. (And, this ‘my friends’ is why I am going to bypass all the political freakshows taking up all the headlines. Cuz, just WTF? Who even cares anymore. The Onion is more realistic.)

Here’s something much better to click over to: May 31, 2013 – American Voters Like Clinton Over Paul, Jeb Bush, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds. Keep whining about MarshaBenghazi, Jan Brady GOP-ers. That’s really working out for you.

And, this one is an arrow from Marilyn’s bow shot straight into the heart of rightwing canards… New Study Shows Immigrants Pay More Into Medicare Than They Take Out:

A study released by the Harvard Medical School on Wednesday shows that immigrants as whole pay more into Medicare than they use, effectively subsidizing the program. The study found that in 2009 alone, immigrants created a $13.8 billion surplus for Medicare. From 2002 to 2009, immigrants paid a total of $115 billion more to the government health program than they used. American-born workers, on the other hand, posted a $28 billion deficit in the same 2002 to 2009 time frame.

But, hey what are facts in the face of xenophobic hate and mistrust?

And, finally this one here is my favorite and I highly recommend if you click any link in this roundup, it’s this: If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? Seriously, if I excerpted from it, it wouldn’t do the piece justice. Go read now!!

Alright Sky Dancers, your turn. What’s on your list for today? Have a great weekend and would love to hear from you if you get a chance.


Saturday Reads: A Fiscal Cliff-Free Zone

MarilynMonroe reads

Good Morning!!

Several months ago, I wrote about seeing a gathering of wild turkeys as I drove down my street in a western suburb of Boston. I was very surprised, but when I got home and googled I learned that the giant, not-very-bright birds have been invading communities all over Massachusetts–including the city of Boston!

Yesterday, as I drove down a street in Cambridge, I had to come to sudden stop as a lone wild turkey meandered into my path. I managed to get around the bird, but the car behind me didn’t make it I could see in my rear view mirror that the driver was forced to sit there as the turkey wandered around in the middle of the road. So apparently the turkey invasion is continuing apace.

From CBS News, December 7: Wild turkeys terrorize Massachusetts town residents

Aggressive turkeys are coming after some Massachusetts residents, prompting one town to consider seeking approval to trap and kill the birds.

In particular, three large male turkeys seem to be leading the assault in Brookline, CBS station WBZ in Boston reported. A meeting was held on Dec. 6 at the Brookline Police Station to discuss the poultry problem.

Karen Halvorson told WBZ that the turkeys have chased her on two occasions, banging on her front door and scratching her as she took her daily walk. She’s taken precautions including buying a hiking stick to ward off the creatures and carrying her phone on her at all times. Halvorson was at the meeting.

“I can’t believe we’re living this way,” she said.

Her husband has made piles of sticks around their house so they can throw them at the turkeys and run for cover. He’s been attacked four times in the last three years.

Jeeze, I’m glad they’re not hanging around in my front yard! BTW, Brookline is basically in Boston. It’s an urban area.

Turkeys.brookline

Here’s more from The Boston Globe in late November:

In Brookline, a roving band of wild turkeys is terrorizing residents, stalking some as they walk down the street and ambushing others as they try to exit their cars. They’re pecking backsides, scratching necks, and flapping powerful wings in the faces of passersby.

For those whose primary experience with the grand bird is when it’s sliced up on a plate, the problem may sound funny. And to those living in rural areas who have found ways to peacefully coexist with wild turkeys for years, the problem may sound overblown. But to residents of Brookline, where the presence of roughly two dozen 3- to 4-foot-tall birds is a relatively new phenomenon, the menace is anything but humorous or normal. Over the past few months, the number of encounters with the increasingly brazen birds ­­— not to mention calls to public safety officials — has risen.

According to the state agency MassWildlife, trapping and relocating the turkeys would be impractical: The best trapping methods aren’t suited for urban and suburban areas, and relocated turkeys often return or find new human populations to annoy. The better option, then, is to teach humans how best to deal with the birds. Brookline officials should get to work educating the town’s residents about best anti-turkey practices, which are available on MassWildlife’s website.

The birds are even invading Martha’s Vineyard: Oak Bluffs police bean rampaging turkey.

Oak Bluffs police officers Saturday used a bean bag shotgun to knock the stuffing out of an aggressive turkey that had run afoul of residents in the Hidden Cove Road neighborhood, where the big Tom attempted to rule the roost.

Lieutenant Tim Williamson said police were called to the neighborhood, located in the Major’s Cove subdivision, on several occasions for reports of turkeys harassing humans. In one instance, a turkey chased an elderly woman who tripped and fell and scraped her knee. “This turkey has been a menace in the neighborhood for at least a month or so,” Lieutenant Williamson said.

On Saturday at noon, police officer Jeffrey LaBell received a call at the station from a resident who police would not identify. The man told police a wild turkey was on his front porch and, according to the police report, “was keeping him and his wife from entering their residence. [The man] explained the turkey is aggressive and has attacked people in the neighborhood in the past on several occasions. [The man] demanded that something be done before the turkey causes harm to someone in the neighborhood.”

Now for some slightly more serious news, please follow me after the page break.

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Tuesday Reads: Marilyn Monroe, Fifty Years Gone

Lawrence Schiller, “Marilyn Monroe,” 1962. (Credit: Courtesy of Judith and Lawrence Schiller; Lawrence Schiller © Polaris Communications, Inc.)

Good Morning!!

I’m writing this late on Monday night. I’m a little burned out on the news, and I haven’t been feeling so great today, so I thought I’d skip politics and devote my Tuesday morning post to noting the 50th anniversary of the day we lost Marilyn Monroe, August 5, 1962. We can talk about the news in the comments though!

LA Weekly has a report of the memorial. The main speaker was Professor Lois Banner, the author of a new biography of Monroe.

Lois Banner certainly must be considered one of the Marilyn religion’s rising gospel writers. Banner, a professor of women’s history at USC, is the author of Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox, her well-received, scrupulously researched and ten-years-in-the-writing biography, whose release was scheduled to coincide with the anniversary.

Banner’s book, which attempts to demolish any lingering image of Marilyn as a dumb blonde and merely the sexual object of male fantasy, asserts that the star was shaped by a complicated and deeply conflicted personality. Marilyn was marked by an intense intellectual curiosity but also by emotional and sexual abuse as child that would develop into full-blown sexual addiction and her ultimately tragic substance abuse.

Outside the memorial, the 73-year-old writer briefly spoke about Marilyn’s status as an “icon of the American character” and the key to her enduring fascination. The answer, according to Banner, is complex but begins with her tragically early death. Dying at the height of her beauty instantly made the star what Banner calls “the Aphrodite of the national imagination — the woman who represents our sexual desires and dreams.”

To that she adds the aura of mystery contributed by Marilyn’s involvement with the Kennedys and the conspiracy theories surrounding her death. Then there are the photographs. Marilyn was probably the most photographed woman of the 20th century, Banner says, “and the famous images of her literally run into the thousands. She realized herself in front of the camera, and many have said the camera was her real lover.”

Here are two Huffpo links to some lovely photos of Marilyn:

Marilyn Monroe Photos: Candid Shots Of The Woman Behind The Starlet

Marilyn Monroe ‘Intimate Exposures’: Exhibit Unveils Never-Before-Seen Bruno Bernard Photos

Between inventing pin-up photography, earning the nickname “Bernard of Hollywood” and discovering Marilyn Monroe, Bruno Bernard may just be the world’s most famous photographer.

In her new book “Marilyn: Intimate Exposures,” Bernard’s daughter, former Playboy Playmate Susan Bernard, has released a collection of her father’s most famous photographs of the one and only Marilyn Monroe–including 40 never-before-seen shots.

In the collection are the first professional photographs ever taken of Monroe (then named Norma Jean Dougherty), intimate backstage shots throughout her career, original negatives, Bernard’s work notes and letters from Monroe to Bernard, including one reading, “Remember Bernie, you started it all.”

Bernard is presenting the collection at the San Francisco Art Exchange for its United States premiere during the 50th anniversary commemoration of Monroe’s death.

The photos at both links are wonderful. I really enjoyed looking at them.

The LA Times reports on another exhibit of Marilyn photos.

One of the many disappointments to befall the actress’ tragic life was her struggle to have a child, having suffered multiple miscarriages. Very few images of a pregnant Monroe exist but famed celebrity photograper Phil Stern found himself at the right place at the right time during her last pregnancy with third husband, playwright Arthur Miller.

In 1958, Look magazine assigned Stern to capture what studio mogul Sam Goldwyn saw through his office window. Perched high and out of sight from the people below, he spotted Monroe walking across the lot during a break from filming “Some Like it Hot,” and snapped the photo just as the wind blew open her kimono, revealing her pregnant belly.

This photo is just one of many that Stern took of Monroe during an illustrious career that spanned six decades. Twenty-three images from his collection will be on view at The Phil Stern Gallery opening Sunday on the 50th anniversary of her untimely death. The exhibition continues through Nov 1.

You can view some of the photos at the link.

On Sunday night, 60 Minutes ran a 1987 interview with Playwright Arthur Miller by Mike Wallace.

During their relationship, Miller wrote the screenplay for “The Misfits,” with the lead role played by Monroe. She played a wounded young woman, who falls in love with a much older man. It would be her last film.

Despite the success of 1961’s “The Misfits,” Miller’s marriage to Monroe had been struggling for months, and the couple ultimately separated. In addition to drug and alcohol dependency, Monroe had endured several miscarriages and was battling depression.

“I guess to be frank about it, I was taking care of her. I was trying to keep her afloat,” Miller told Wallace. “She was a super-sensitive instrument, and that’s exciting to be around until it starts to self-destruct.”

When Wallace asked Miller if he knew Monroe’s life was destined for disaster, he said, “I didn’t know it was doomed, but I certainly felt it had a good chance to be.” Less than two years later, Monroe was found dead at the age of 36 in her California home.

There are some more lovely photos in this NY Daily News article: Marilyn Monroe, famed blond bombshell, yearned to retire to Brooklyn in her twilight years

The blond bombshell, who lived in New York City on and off for several years before dying in Los Angeles in 1962, called Brooklyn her “favorite place in the world” in a radio interview with NBC’s Dave Garroway.

“When I retire I’m going to retire to Brooklyn,” Monroe told the late “Today” show host. “That’s my favorite place in the world, so far, that I’ve seen.”

Monroe, then 31-years-old and inbetween her marriages to New York Yankees Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio and playwright Arthur Miller, admitted she hadn’t “travelled much, but I don’t think I’ll find anything to replace Brooklyn.”

….

When asked what it was about Brooklyn she loved, Monroe’s answer was simple: “Almost everything.”

“I just like walking around,” she said in her soft, whispy tone.

Monroe said one highlight was the view of Manhattan which can only be seen from Brooklyn, but stressed her affection for the borough was more than that.

“It isn’t only the view, it’s the people,” Monroe said. “The people and the streets and the atmosphere, I just like it.”

On Weekend Edition, NPR ran a piece on Marilyn Monroe As An ‘All-Around’ Comedian.

I love just about all of Marilyn’s movies, but I guess my favorite is The Seven Year Itch.

The Rachmaninoff fantasy scene:

And the famous subway scene:

It’s hard to believe it was all so long ago. Sorry this post is so short, I should be back to my regular self in the morning. Now it’s your turn to fill me in on the real news of the day. I’ll pitch in some links too, of course.