(We will be releasing The Kennedy Suite on Latent Recordings on November 12th. You can pre-order the CD and Deluxe Package now. The debut performance of The Kennedy Suite will be on November 22nd and 23rd at The Winter Garden Theater in Toronto. Please visit The Kennedy Suite website and Facebook page)
Scott Garbe is the writer of The Kennedy Suite. He will be posting a series of blogs about the writing of the Suite, it is a fascinating journey and definitely worth following along…make sure that you check back in every now and then.
Sandy was my Yearbook Sales Representative. Gleaming nails, a clatter of silver bracelets & bangles, and foundation make-up that shimmered on her face like condensation on a window pain. But her humour was every bit as sincere as her appearance was superficial. Hair of platinum, heart of gold. And when I told her that there was one place I was compelled to visit while I was in the city, she generously agreed to take me.
My guess was that Sandy would have been 10-12 years old at the time of Kennedy’s assassination, yet she didn’t speak about her experience. In fact, though a Dallas native, her visit to Dealey Plaza with me would be her first. When the President and the First Lady had rolled through town that bright November morning, some students made welcome signs and lined the motorcade route to enthusiastically wave hello, others had teachers who steadfastly refused to release them and at least one, as described in William Manchester’s book Death of a President, did nothing to quell the rousing cheers that filled her classroom when the death of the President was announced. What was Sandy’s experience? She wasn’t volunteering, and I wasn’t about to intrude. I was a tourist, both in a physical and emotional sense. I had been impacted by an event that I had to wrestle with through my imagination. She had lived the moment, and it contained no poetry. It had come and gone without epiphany.
But as I said in my previous entry, after visiting the Sixth Floor Museum and walking the grounds of Dealey Plaza, Lee Oswald had imposed himself as a presence.
He tagged along during the remainder of my yearbook training. He carefully unfolded the wax paper around his sandwich as Sandy and I ate lunch in the publishing company’s cafeteria. After Sandy and I had parted ways, he sat tight-lipped beside me on the plane back to Monterrey. He lounged in the back of the taxi that took me to my apartment from the airport. And he calmly sipped a soda, inscrutable, as I finally had time to take a long, inquiring look into his eyes.
Did he or didn’t he?
Lee wasn’t saying. His brother Robert had tried to discern an answer in the same manner when he visited with him in the Dallas County Jail after his arrest. Noting his probing stare Lee responded glibly, “Brother, you won’t find anything there.”
Meeting that silence forced me to turn a corner. Instead of waiting for an answer, I would explore the question, and that question was not one of culpability, but one of construction. Through his 24 years, Lee Harvey Oswald was a composite, a collage of aliases, fragmented story lines and false starts.
What conditions created him? What materials were grafted layer by layer in his manufacture? What was his path? If traced it back, where would it lead? If extrapolated into the future, what would be its trajectory?
The Truth About Us (The Ballad of Lee and Marina) is a document of that expedition. When I began writing, Lee had been looking over my shoulder. By the time I put down my pen, he was gone.
I haven’t seen him since.
(Here is The Truth About Us off of The Kennedy Suite sung by Andy Maize of Skydiggers)