“Today is Nov. 22, 1963”, PENN Magazine (Nov. 2018)

Penn Magazine
November 2018
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“I’ve read JFK assassination fiction by Don Delillo and Norman Mailer, and can tell you that this new novel [Johnny Moon] not only is Mike’s best book yet, it’s much better than Delillo and Mailer’s efforts to do justice to the most important event in U.S. history.”
… IT IS STILL THAT DAY, in a sense, Nov. 22, 1963.
That is because when John Kennedy was murdered
in Dallas things changed.
Time stopped.
Oh, it wasn’t so awful great before that day, the rich still took from the poor and the poor suffered inordinately in war, but let’s just say maybe in the metaphysical sense, or is that too far afield?
That whole matrix thing where you can’t really put a finger on it, but you sense something,
like the … something in the backseat as you drive in the middle of the night and you pull over to check and of course you find nothing, but you still know something is there.
Some of those who conspired to kill John Kennedy and King and Robert Kennedy are still
alive, still lurk in the dark shadows.
And if anything they have become even more bold and
adept, focused, in their dark arts.
That’s what it is.
It’s that blue-eyed cloud covering the sun that appeared
at about 12:30 p.m. in Dallas, that
will not permit either the close of the dark day or the dawn of a new.
And it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
After getting out of jail in the1980s , having served a few prison and jail
sentences during that decade for civil disobedience,
trying to fight the United States
government, military, people, I just couldn’t do it anymore.
And I guess that is why I appreciate so much people like Frank Cordaro of the DesMoines Catholic Worker and all those in the Plowshares movement who keep going back and doing that.
Anyway, after that I had to keep living, do something,
so I first turned to construction
and then had a deep thought while knee-deep in a concrete
driveway: I used to be able to write a little.
So I dragged my feet out of the mud and slunked over to the nearest little college to see if I could renew my study of journalism.
Well, I did that, spent a few years as a reporter, editor, publisher in weeklies, one small daily, until I left to try to write novels and tell
the truth about America and bring it to its knees.
Anyway, I appreciate Penn Jones, Jr., a man who I think Did It.
He was a reporter, a publisher and he did everything I was trying to do, to do the job right. He sold ads, ran the presses, developed the photos, attended the city council
meetings late into the night, dealt with the happy and angry people, took the team photos, and told the truth
about the John F. Kennedy murder.
He did not ignore the story because his publication was
too small and the story was too big. He just did it, did it all,
and took whatever came.
To me, that’s pretty much everything.
I didn’t discover Penn Jones until I was done trying to do
journalism, and after he was dead, but when I did, I sort of
felt like we might have had something to talk about.
Or not. But in any case, here’s to studying grammar books, stylebooks, reading the dictionary cover to cover, a few times, and still not really
knowing where the commas go.
After working all night, still there is one crooked headline.
But you tried. A good try is worth everything.
And some people do understand.
Thank you, Penn Jones.
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