Helter Skelter, Na Na Na Na Na Na Na

We spent the better part of Tuesday trying to find a copy of Vincent Bugliosi's book-exercise equipment Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which has gotten more press in recent days than Monica Goodling and the man or woman who won American Idol. (Shhh, don't tell me. I don't care.) A few stores were sold out; some hadn't unpacked theirs yet (Borders, shame). We snagged the last one at a Barnes & Noble, and it was worth the effort: At 50 bucks, it's a bargain not only for the size (nearly 3,000 pages, including CD-ROM) and heft (28 pounds, feels like) but also the fact you can read it for the rest of you life and not finish the damned thing.

At this very moment, the former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who got Charles Manson convicted should be wrapping up his noontime chat to the Dallas Bar Association at the Belo Mansion. But you can still see the guy speak at 6 this evening for nothing, when Bugliosi shows up on holy ground -- at, natch, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza -- to tell the conspiracy theorists they're "as kooky as a three-dollar bill," as he does in the book in which he claims to prove, once and for all, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted all by his lonesome on November 22, 1963.

Dunno about all that -- me, I'm with Crash Davis -- but the book is a compelling read not only for the JFK stuff, but for its look at Dallas in the early 1960s. Bugliosi's been working on the book for 20 years, and he knows as much about Dallas back then as my old man, who grew up here.

The pages about Jack Ruby alone are worth the price of admission, as they name-check everything and everyone from Bali-Hai Restaurant to KLIF bossman Gordon McLendon to Phil's Delicatessen on Oak Lawn to Shearith Israel Synagogue's rabbi, Hillel Silverman. Bugliosi's obsessed with every detail, down to the addresses of every place in which Oswald ever lived or Ruby ever visited.

Naturally, most of those places are gone and most of those people are dead, which is so Dallas. --Robert Wilonsky


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