Observations Happy New Year Austin They sat around on the floor in the living room before the fire, bouncing a red balloon in the air, like volleyball. Except two junior high school boys they were college age mostly. Everyone was happy and innocent as children, laughing and bursting into shouts. The glum cadaverous youth only sat, his back to them all, staring absently into the fire; there was an absence behind his back on the otherwise warmly filled floor. Once the bouncing red balloon fell, the only time, to the floor in this absence behind him, and an outcry went up, and a voice shouted, “Kill him!” The red balloon was restored to crazy floating flight, the laughter resumed, and he never moved. Someone punched it up to a metal mobile of many sharp points hanging from the ceiling, and it popped, the game ended and they resumed in their groups. The tall lonely boy sat still his back to them, glum. His eye caught on another’s eye, who nodded, friendly, and he nodded back. The new year began. Elroy Bode In my view, Elroy Bode is the best young writer now working in Texas. Like Turgenev in his hunting stories Elroy has done his sketches of places and moments and will be going on to other forms, but his Texas Sketchbook will stand. Lon Tinkle has said it in the Dallas News: “Elroy Bode is that unexpected kind of Texan, a contemplative mind. And he is more, a genuine artist. “Elroy Bode’s talent is unique. He writes in prose, but he is a poet. He goes straight to the heart of the matter and bares essential truths, truths not just facts. He bears witness to powerful emotions, precisely and yet hauntingly evoked by a scrupulous mind. What stirs his emotions here is the experience \(and we mean of Texas: of its varied landscapes, its varied people, its varied vocations. “Most -of these experiences are resurpassing and idle rumination intersects with a buried memory. Without Proust’s complexity, Bode often makes the same kind of magic of recall. Ranching with his parents and grandparents in the Texas ‘hill country,’ driving over the lonesome, magnificent Texas highways, breathing in ocean air along the Gulf coast, just watching and lingering in San Antonio parks and El Paso plazas, casually drinking beer with chance acquaintances in Texas cafes and in the customary Texan ‘bonhomie’ all these encounters with reality of sky and land and space and tradition and people provide the spur to Bode’s engrossing speculations …. “Bode doesn’t intensify, he distills thought into concentrated essence. In a half-page, for example, he evokes with revealing detail the special mood of Galveston Beach, then states in an offhand but stabbing way what this water experience does to land-loving Texans who visit there for the first time. It would hardly be possible to say, or suggest, more in such conciseness.” Patriots and Dissent When people break out of their accustomed roles, it’s an event worth attending. Leonard Sanders is the book editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He recently decided to review the “DAR Pa”more than 105,000 patriots, both men and women, who have contributed in some way to the cause of freedom during the American Revolution.” In the course of this review, he noted that the.DAR’s index of the good people says, “Possibly the most dangerous act of any group of patriots was that of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. When these members of the Continental Congress signed this document they cut all ties with Great Britain and laid themselves open to charges of treason punishable by death.” To which Leonard Sanders suddenly added: “Today most of these signers are patriots in the DAR’s book; in the late 1770’s they were dissentersperhaps even traitors in King George’s book. “The DAR notes that publication of the ‘Patriot Index’ is appropriate ‘in this era of draft dodgers, draft card burners, flag burners and other unpatriotic Americans,’ but with their 105,000 patriots dissenting from King George’s decrees, is there a possibility that some of 1967’s dissenters also are motivated by patriotism?” You never can tell, even about book reviewers. The Assassination Josiah Thompson’s work on the assassination is important. He has worked out with cogency and clarity the insufficiencies of the Warren Report and the main lines of the neglected evidence. This was begging to be done. It is very much to Tink Thompson’s credit that when he is all said and done, he asserts that he has proved nothing except the insufficiency of the Warren Report. In the course of his work he declares and argues that several men killed Kennedy, and he has marshalled a convincing case that this was so. But he knows well that he has not thereby solved the assassination. Indeed, he had a prime suspect, whom I discussed with him when he was in Austin some months back and agreed to help him investigate; he chose to do this himself, and satisfied himself, as he has reported, that the man was not guilty. Nevertheless, Thompson has done a valuable thing. No one can go forward on the assassination without his Six Seconds in Dallas. William Turner’s piece in the January Ramparts embodies some of the informationevidently much of itthat New Orleans DA James Garrison has turned up. Turner, who has been working with Garrison for months, has written a serious specification of data. In his work once again we are back in the realm of highly startling circumstances, clues tending to reinforce dark suspicions, and inexplicable coincidences. I have the feeling Turner’s mind is biased on this subject in a way that Thompson’s is not. This is a fundamental feeling because on the assassination, a man can . make what case he wants to and only by painstaking reflection and work can another evaluate it. Yet Turner’s work, too, must be considered attentively as Kennedy’s death lives on in our lives. In its characteristic sensationalism to destroy, Ramparts plays up Garrison’s charge that Johnson controls the agencies that Garrison charges have suppressed relevant evidence on the assassination. On Dec. 29, 1967, the Los Angeles Times carried a story from Washington disclosing contents of military medical records showing that Garrison was diagnosed, in the early 1950’s, as suffering from a psychoneurosis. The story alludes to “Garrison’s records in the National Guard Bureau in the Pentagon.” How did the reporter, Russell Freeburg, get these records? They are confidential and cannot be released without the permission of the person concerned. Freeburg does not say in his story. The American Civil Liberties Union should investigate this. However Garrison’s investigations are evaluated, this is a dirty way to fight him. Yankee Know-How Progress report on the American way of life in Asia: “UPI correspondent Robert Kaylor reported from Dau Tieng “Fighting against being overrun, the Americans lowered their artillery barrels and boomed round after round of ‘beehive’ shells into the human waves of guerrillas. Each ‘beehive’ shell exploded into hundreds of half-inch darts that shredded the Viet Cong ranks, Kaylor said.” A Note to the GOP Washington, D.C. Republicans, don’t kid yourselves. Johnson is the odds-on favorite to be the President of the United States from 1969 through 1972. The polls last fall showing him way behind had one decisive defect. They matched him against everybody or against Jan. 12, 1968 15
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