Monday, June 20, 2005

Watch Out, Brad Pitt

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Time, with a capital T, and its inevitable passing. More specifically: the way in which people are remembered by those who survive them. It’s really fascinating, our taxonomical need to distill a person’s life into a single sentence. How even if an identity proves strong enough to endure, it’s to be undoubtedly eclipsed by one solitary task or idea, if that. And it makes sense, as our encyclopedias can only be so thick.

My first real job out of college was at CBS, working as a Production Assistant for an A&E Biography of Jack Ruby. For my fellow young ignoramuses, Mr. Ruby left his mark on history by fatally shooting Lee Harvey Oswald on national television, and since then has been incorporated into uncountable conspiracy theories surrounding the whole JFK assassination.

BOOM. That’s Jack Ruby. And BOOM, that’s what he’s remembered for.

It was a cool gig, making the documentary. Reading previous biographies, collecting hundreds of old photographs, and interviewing Jack Ruby experts, as well as his friends and family. Essentially, we were the ones doing the distilling.

But it’s one of the smaller details that I came across that I’ll never forget. It was in a book called Case Closed—one of the more influential documents in our producing the documentary—and the detail was literally a footnote in a chapter concerning Ruby’s personal life.

Apparently, Ruby’s love life was pretty strange. He had few girlfriends and lived alone, save for the company of his pet dogs, whom he adored.

Which is where the footnote came in.

Neighbors reported that Ruby’s relationship with his dogs was pretty strange. He would constantly refer to his daschund, Sheba, as his “wife.” And on top of that, there’s evidence that he’d made a habit of sexually pleasuring his dogs, sometimes in front of others.

So yeah. I flagged that passage after reading it. I’m also pretty sure I highlighted, starred, and underlined it too.

As far as I’m concerned, if you have that sort of “relationship” with your pets, it’s a preeeetty big window into your lifestyle and personality. And if I were to produce a biography about you? In the name of honesty and truth, I’d probably have to go ahead and include it. And when someone asked me about you far in the future? I’m pretty sure that would probably be the first salient fact I’d immediately want to share.

Jack’s suspected dog-fetish never made it into the final documentary. I’d lament the betrayal of Truth and all that, but honestly, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

You see, Jack Ruby’s one of the lucky ones. His life involved something so momentous, that it could even overshadow canine-masturbation.

Who knows? Maybe that even played some sort of role in his shooting of Oswald. If I got caught pleasuring my dog, I can’t say I wouldn’t go ahead and shoot Brad Pitt or something. At least that way, there's a good chance History would distill my future identity down into “that strange guy who shot Brad Pitt,” instead of “that strange guy who masturbated his dogs.”


Alex said...

Or that strange guy who masturbated his friends, CHRIS.

Chris S. said...

It was just that one time, I swear!

Oh, wait ... you meant the funny Chris.

brian said...

Well, now that I've learned something today I can go back to bed.

Anonymous said...


i'm from universal studios- the movies studios, not the theme park. i'd like to option this and your next six blog posts. call me.

fame and fortune

kathy said...

There's a really neat book/set of fictional books about the way we think about people's stories called "The Deptford Trilogy" by Robertson Davies. The three books can't really be read without one another, and they are often bound together. I don't want to say too much about them, but I still think about them all the time -- they make you think about who the main character is and why in fiction and in real life stories. Very highly recommended. :) Life of Pi, too, has some similar themes. They could be fun to read together.

Alex said...

"Princess's little dog house is empty now. Sylvia Jones says she died of internal bleeding this past Sunday because of the rape."

This is actually the ONLY thing this guy will be remembered for.