The decades tick on, but the nation's fascination with and collective grief for John F. Kennedy's assassination remains constant, even today as we mark the 48th anniversary. Above you can see a stabilized version of the famed Zapruder film, still the best document we have of the event — a fact which in itself is mind-boggling, given how a Presidential appearance these days would be shot from every angle, by fifty or eighty news outlets, not to mention every bystander's cell phone camera.
Today the NYT brings us this terrific documentary short from the brilliant Errol Morris about "The Umbrella Man" — a man who stood along Kennedy's procession route that day in Dallas with an open umbrella, despite the fact that it was sunny outside. The man's presence seems sinister, and multiple conspiracy theories tried to account for his presence, but once the man finally came forward in 1978 the real truth about him and his umbrella was totally weird and non-sinister. As Kennedy assassination chronicler Josiah Thompson says, when you start to feel certain about some sinister explanation for a fact, "Forget it man. You can never on your own think of all the possible non-sinister, perfectly valid explanations for that fact."
Meanwhile, in Dallas, where the anniversary usually slides by without much fanfare — the city, collectively, still feels a little guilty about the whole thing — they're preparing for a 50th anniversary event in 2013 and raising money to restore Dealey Plaza. The Book Depository, don't you know, has become something called the Sixth Floor Museum. And today the LA Times runs this photo of some creepy tourists in Dallas posing for a photo on the X-marked spot in the road where Kennedy was shot.
And this month marks the publication of a new book by Stephen King called, simply, 11/22/63. The premise: An English teacher goes back in time, to 1958, with foreknowledge of the Kennedy assassination, and spends five years trying to prevent the assassination from happening. It's a Boomer fantasy of sorts, trying to imagine a different story for Vietnam, etc, if Kennedy had lived. As one critic writes in the AP, "After all the rotting corpses and sharp-toothed clowns, after all the ghosts and aliens and possessed cars and possessed dogs, could this, at long last, be the thing that truly haunts Stephen King? Could the master of American horror, he who bravely shepherded us through the unspeakable in the 2000s, the 1990s, the 1980s and the 1970s, be afraid of the 1960s?"
Also, it's said that Kennedy was the first President to "pardon" a turkey at the White House, choosing a 55-pound beast and letting it live instead of eating it.
Lastly, we leave you with this 2010 video from Dallas native Erykah Badu for "Window Seat," in which she walks the procession route through Dealey Plaza and takes off all her clothes.