blocks from my apartment, I decided to walk over and have a look-see, maybe sip a bit of the water I had visited some years back and recalled as flowing from a somewhat rusty pipe into a small pool just north of the Capitol steps. Sip and perhaps sit near it and digest some of the basic factuality on the subject of my recent reading. I found nothing like I remembered. The rusty pipe was gone, and in its stead was an impressive three-tiered affair of cement slabs covering flowing water which surfaced beneath iron bars for a tantalizingly short period before disappearing under another cement slab. Always just far enough below the bars so that my fingers could touch but not capture enough water to bring to my mouth. I tried on each slab level to get enough water to taste, but I couldn’t. A few feet from the water sculpture was an older cement fountain with faucets sticking out from all four sides at the top, as well as four water hydrants on the bottom. But no water flowed from any of the faucets when I tried them, nor was there any hint of wetness on the fountain’s stone. I decided to sit on one of the slabs anyway, for a few minutes and without refreshment, except for the shade of a nearby friendly live oak. I remembered the Confucian wisdom of the I Ching, telling about the Well and how the towns and governments could come and go but the springs would remain. No mention of the hazards of nuclear waste contaminants or machine-age pumping. But the old Chinese Ones did know that if the rope broke or the jar shattered, if the water turned stagnant enough to grow little fishes in it, or if it sunk into mud which could turn to dry land, or reflected in other ways the symptoms of poor government, then the general public would no longer be able to enjoy it. And the enjoyment of the earth’s waters was obviously an enjoyment to be shared by all, not only humans but all creatures. The entitlement to life, as politically corroborated in the Bill of Rights as well as the I Ching \(since water reflected in the physical layout of all ancient town units in all cultures, whereby the well is in the center, whereby its water flows freely for all to come and drink not only residents but any passing stranger, any homeless orphan, wandering minstrel or strolling dog. I didn’t sit on the cement slab for long, because the sun was warm and I wanted a little something to sip on. So I had visited the Well at the center of the State. The Warning. The Metaphor. Just that morning I had read a guest editorial in the Austin American-Statesman, written by two Texas economists, Peter M. Emerson and John Merrifield, who were seriously suggesting that our aquifer problems could be now solved by making a market of all public water selling deeds to it which could be bought, sold and inherited separate from the land. VSharing the headlines with the economists’ visions of future water markets was news of the cartel of capitalists that has pooled $5 million to make sure of winning an $11 million lottery. Imagine pooling water deeds, perhaps a group of Bunkie “Hi-Ho Silver” Hunt grandsons, or other groups of friendly millionaire speculators vying for the world water market. I wonder as I wander through the Capitol grounds back down to Congress Ave., if there might already be a proposal to install a ticket counter there on one of the slabs topping the Capitol spring. If a campaign is already under way to start metering the shade of the trees. And how long will it take before Barton Springs is known only as the wreck of and nobody remembers its waters? Rosencrantz of Dealey Plaza BY STEVEN G. KELLMAN RUBY Directed by John Mackenzie STOP THE CHURCH Directed by Robert Hilferty 66NO! I AM NOT PRINCE HAMLET nor was meant to be,” whines T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock, the feckless fellow utterly devoid of tragic grandeur, like the supernumeraries Rosencrantz and Guildenstern magnified by Tom Stoppard into the focus of a farce. Within the grand commotion, if not drama, of the Kennedy assassination, Jack Ruby was a bit player who chewed enough of the scenery that the world took notice. “I’m just a small-time club owner,” says Danny Aiello’s Ruby, whom Tobin Bell’s David Ferrie calls “a disgusting little piece of nothing.” Ruby makes something out of nothing, the man who shot the man who shot JFK. The film begins in 1962, with Ruby running the raffish Carousel Club in Dallas. A mole for the mob in Chicago, where he was born a Steven Kellman is a professor of comparative lit erature at the. University of Texas-San Antonio. Rubenstein, Ruby deals drugs with the local police and, in the role of informant, schmoozes with an FBI agent. “Looking back at it now, what can you say?” asks his disembodied voice, speaking like Glenn Close’s comatose Sunny Von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune. They are the first words we hear in Ruby, but they are neither the first nor the last words on the Kennedy assassination. Almost 30 years after the event, people are still saying enough to fill books, magazines and theaters. What is said in this latest film is a susurrus so ambiguous it compounds the enigmas. Who killed LHO? The mystery in the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald is not whodunit, but why. Millions of TV viewers gazed in horror as Ruby shot Oswald in the basement garage of a Dallas jail. Inexorably, Ruby moves toward replication of that image. But, unlike Oliver Stone, director John Mackenzie and screenwriter Stephen Davis \(Yuri Nosenko, does not offer an inquest into political villainy as much as a meditation on character. Aiello’s Ruby is an affable bundle of contradictions, a man who veers between tenderness and violence in a world he can neither control nor fathom. “You’re in over your head,” man who is to Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Ruby is to JFK. Ruby’s addled head provides the film’s perspective, and he and we are never certain how to interpret what is said and done. What does it mean when, in response to Ruby’s query: “You’re CIA. Right, Mr. Maxwell?” a sinister figure merely shakes his hat? When Ruby is asked to join national mob bosses at their table in Las Vegas, he sees himself as elevated to their equal, the underworld delegate from Dallas. “Texas is the reliable place,” he tells them. “Whoever heard of a Commie takeover in Texas?” Whoever heard of Ruby among the assembled dignitaries of depravity? Is he hearing correctly when he thinks he is assigned to assassinate Fidel Castro, on behalf of both the Mafia and the CIA? Betrayed, he thinks, in Dealey Plaza, Ruby avenges himself on them all by putting an end to Oswald. “I done it,” he explains in prison, “so that one day everything’s gonna have to be brung out into the open.” Convicted of murder, Ruby dies in prison without ever being brought to Washington, where he hoped to tell a story to people who would listen. Unlike JFK, Ruby, purports to bring few things out into the open, except the perplexities of human experience. It was, in fact, con THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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