This Week (and Last Week) in Awkwardness

I attended the Sedona St. Patrick’s Day parade & festival (which is apparently a big deal, even though I’ve never seen a single reference to anything Irish anywhere in Arizona before) where I saw this gem of a float, labeled “Flags for Freedom”:

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Book Finished:

Helter Skelter, by Vincent Bugliosi

I was generally aware of the Manson Family murders but had never studied them in depth.  Bugliosi prosecuted Charles Manson & a few of his followers in the trial of their most famous crime spree, the Tate-LaBianca murders, so the book is an in-depth, mostly first person account of one of the most sensational events in recent history.  I didn’t expect to be genuinely creeped out, but the idea of one crazy person so thoroughly controlling his followers is pretty terrifying.

Favorite Quote:

“‘I think historically the easiest way to program someone into murdering is to convince them that they are alien, that they are them and we are us, and that they are different from us.’ [Dr. Joel Hochman, psychiatrist for the defense.]

Krauts.  Japs.  Gooks.  Pigs.”


Crossed Off the Travel Map:

West Fork Trail, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Arizona
West Fork Trail, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Arizona

Sedona Heritage Museum, Sedona, Arizona


Added to the Travel Map:

Memphis, Tennessee – just because I’m heading that way I guess.

Mojave National Preserve, Kelso, California – sand dunes & whatnot.

Fort Carroll, Edgemere, Maryland – abandoned, now a bird sanctuary.

This Week (And Last Week) In Awkwardness

I’ve realized that I don’t much care for the landscape here.  The rocks & desert are pretty but ultimately I prefer forests.


Book (Un)Finished:

Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, by Vincent Bugliosi

This is the book I mentioned in another post, the one Parkland comes from.  I’m sure it would be fascinating for a hardcore Kennedy scholar or conspiracy buff, but I’m neither and it would take me a year to get through this dense, 3 inch thick beast with any kind of comprehension.  I just flipped around and read pieces that seemed interesting, like the section on Oswald’s childhood and the analysis of the Zapruder film.  Even with the little I covered it’s very clear that Bugliosi doesn’t think much of the Kennedy conspiracists or their theories.  A full third of the book is devoted to shooting down these plots; the lists of conspirators named by theorists include more than 200 individuals, every group from the Catholic Church to extraterrestrials, and nearly 100 assassins.  As Bugliosi puts it, “With at least 82 gunmen shooting at Kennedy in Dealy Plaza that day, it’s remarkable that Kennedy’s body was sufficiently intact to make it to the autopsy table.”

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Added to the Travel Map:

Cevennes National Park, Languedoc-Roussillon, France.

Sweetwater Creek State Park, Lithia Springs, Georgia – has ruins of a cotton mill burned during the Civil War.

This Week In Awkwardness

Book Finished:

Parkland, by Vincent Bugliosi

An excerpt from Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History, considered a masterwork of the John F. Kennedy assassination and the many conspiracy theories surrounding it, Parkland tells the story of the murder and the days that followed it through the experiences of the many individuals involved.  Bugliosi arranges the narrative so that there are no chapters nor any other real breaks, just timestamps as the events unfold.  The emotions of the Secret Service agents who tried to protect the president, the doctors who tried to save him, and the public who loved him really come through.  I think it’s easy to forget that these famous people really are people, but Bugliosi does a good job of bringing home the experiences of Jackie Kennedy, their children, and the rest of the Kennedy family & friends.  He never comes right out and accuses Lee Harvey Oswald, or gives any opinion at all on that front (although I imagine he does in Reclaiming History), but simply relates the experiences of the people around Oswald, his family, his coworkers at the Texas School Book Depository, witnesses to the J.D. Tippit shooting, and the officers & agents who dealt with him.  This is one of those books where even though I know how the story ends, the author was good enough to have me dreading what was coming.  I was disappointed that the Kindle version left out the photo section, but all in all it’s a very interesting read that gives a grounded perspective to one of the most famous events in American history.


Added to the Travel Map:

Le Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale, Nogent-sur-Marne, France – ruins of the 1907 Colonial Exhibition.

Plum Island, Southold, New York – some kind of secretive government thing, but they have tours occasionally.

Leri Cavour, Italy – ghost town.

Feltville, New Jersey – ghost town.