Nov 21, 2013 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Can you see Lee Harvey Oswald as a Frank Sinatra fan?
If so, you’d probably enjoy Doug Brode’s new novel, “Patsy!”
The 346-page book paints a decidedly different portrait of the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. While Warren Commission investigators found the 24-year-old Oswald a sullen, self-involved ne’er-do-well who listened to classical music rather than to saloon singers, Brode’s Oswald revels in the fantasy world of the silver screen. He’s fascinated by the macho man image adopted by Sinatra. He’s thrilled when – as a serviceman deployed overseas – he happens to meet John Wayne.
All the while, this starry-eyed “Patsy” is being “run” by a shady CIA operative named George who manages Oswald’s intelligence career through the Marines, to his “defection” to Russia and all the way through to Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.
Billed as a non-fiction novel, “Patsy” incorporates any number of conspiracy theories proposed over the last 50 years by critics of the Warren Report. The likelihood that Oswald was, in fact, some kind of low-level intelligence agent is only one of the theories Brode utilizes.
The author also describes a “twinning” of Oswald, the creation of a lookalike by a Mafia-controlled plastic surgeon. Shades of Sinatra’s 1962 thriller, “The Manchurian Candidate.”
A similar scenario has been chronicled by assassination researcher John Armstrong in his book, “Harvey and Lee: How the CIA Framed Oswald.” While Armstrong relies on meticulous research and photo comparisons, Brode’s book — a novel, remember — engages in fanciful possibilities.
For instance, real-life interviews with former psychological warriors such as Dr. Sidney Gottleib confirmed the federal government’s mind-control experiments in the 1950s, many involving the use of hallucinogenic drugs. In “Patsy,” Oswald is dosed with LSD and – get this – while tripping he meets both Robert F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe!
Yes, Brode’s Oswald keeps impressive company. He also rubs shoulders with mobsters like the Las Vegas don, Handsome Johnny Rosselli. Lee and Johnny even team up on an aborted attempt on the life of Fidel Castro in Havana before being captured and tortured.
One of the most intriguing passages in “Patsy” focuses on the strange-but-true story of aging film star Errol Flynn’s personal support for Castro’s Cuban Revolution. Turns out that Flynn and his teenage girlfriend, Beverly Aadland, did in fact shoot a B-minus movie in 1959 called “Cuban Rebel Girls.”
Full of factual filmlore and aptly capturing the pervasive paranoia of the Cold War Era, “Patsy” is an endlessly entertaining experience, although it sheds no new light on the mysteries of Kennedy’s murder.
As a fiction writer, Brode has no holds barred. He takes the now well-known fact that the CIA hired the Mafia to whack Castro and extrapolates it at whim. He depicts President Kennedy himself approving a CIA plan to murder comedian Dan Rowan at the behest of Chicago’s Sam Giancana. The mobster was, in reality, obsessively jealous of Rowan, whom he suspected of moving in on his gal-pal, the singer Phyllis McGuire.
Brode’s coup de grace comes with his surprise conclusion that Oswald fired shots from the Texas School Book Depository that day in Dallas, but did not take aim at the president’s limo. To find out who he shot at and why, you’ll have to read the book.
Brode will appear at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, at the Barnes and Noble book store, 3454 Erie Blvd. East, in DeWitt; 449-2948.
“I’ll be signing copies of ‘Patsy!’ and leading a discussion about the impact of the JFK assassination on people who were young then,” Brode said. “I’ll also talk about the lasting legacy of the event for those who were born long after it occurred.”
We all know Doug Brode as a movie critic for the Syracuse New Times and the Syracuse Newspapers. Over the years he has written more than three dozen books, mostly on film including two terrific studies of the work of Walt Disney, “From Walt to Woodstock” and “Multiculturalism and the Mouse.”
Brode and his wife, Sue, plan to move next month from nearby Pennellville to San Antonio, Texas.
Have you noticed that the new clock at Washington Park Point is running three minutes fast?
Syracuse Area Music Award Hall of Famers Gary Frenay and Arty Lenin will rock out from 8 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, at the Limp Lizard Bar & Grill, 201 First St.; 451-9774.
The popular duo, which specializes in British Invasion tunes and original power pop, will be accompanied by drummer Tony Carbone.