November 23, 2005

Strange memories: John F. Kennedy assassination

With no time to blog yesterday, and not much today, the old feeder wanted to do a bit on the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. It was only 42 years ago, and there are still plenty of folks who can recall that day quite well. I sure do.

I was going to school in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. at the time. Immediately everyone thought that JFK's murder had to be part of a giant plot. So I went to the White House to hang around, hoping to get some photographs of Soviet paratroopers or whatever. No such luck, although I stuck around most of that night, until after Jackie returned.

Today I was reading the Pioneer Press' web site when I found this odd story; Memories of assassination are better kept to oneself. The squareheads at the Pioneer Press don't really want you to read their stuff, and will require a 'registration', so I will quote at length. Joe Soucheray writes about his own recollections of the day, mentioning that he had, "never actually thought about the wound to the president's head."
That's why I was knocked back by a full-page color advertisement on of Tuesday's Pioneer Press. It was an ad for an oil painting called "Pieta,'' which is Italian for compassion and the name of Michelangelo's sculpture of the Madonna holding the lifeless Christ.

It wasn't long before most of us in the newsroom were expressing amazement at this work of art.

The artist, Mark Balma, the ad copy reads, captured "a moment at Parkland Hospital witnessed by few and never photographed. In creating this historical painting," the copy continues, "the artist shares his interpretation and feelings about this moment."

I'll say. The main theme of the painting seems to be a woman who looks like Geena Davis cradling the fallen president, who looks vaguely like Gary Busey. It is clear that the president's head has been blown off. But Jackie's pink coat and pillbox hat look fresh from the dry cleaner's; and the head wound, though graphically expressed, is not gory because Jackie's gloved right hand appears to be holding in the president's gray matter.

More than a dozen authorities representing various agencies are the background, presumably stunned at the moment the Lincoln limousine has arrived at the hospital. One of the agents, the agent closest to the car, a secret service agent I'm betting, resembles, and not at all vaguely, Kevin Costner.

I also managed to pick out Gerald Ford, G. Gordon Liddy, Tom Watson, Rosa Parks and George H.W. Bush, but maybe for the untrained eye it is natural to see familiar faces.
Well, I found a copy of the painting in Google's cache, and reproduced it above. Not quite up to the Pieta moniker, the grotesque painting reminded the old feeder of a similar project he had undertaken a couple of years ago to commemorate the 40th anniversary of JFK's murder. It was supposed to be funny, and appeal to my gun-nut friends. For reasons of taste, however, the project was a complete flop. I couldn't get anyone interested in buying a special edition of the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle allegedly used by Lee Harvey Oswald to kill Kennedy.

For those of you with a proper sense of historical proportion and a sick sense of humor, I have included a link to the original rifle sales poster from 2003. If you thought Mark Balma's painting is offensive, don't click this thumbnail to download a full-size, printable PDF version of the advert.
Reposted at 7:00 PM just for the hell of it.

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