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January 5, 1967, Vol. XII, No. 12
A Requiem For the Rube
By Norman Mailer
Editorials are best in the brief cause they are jockey shorts — designed to hold up the balls of the American public. So here’s a brief on the death of Jack the Rube. He is our #1 American Specimen, our U.S. Hospital Specimen Number 1 in the way Paul Hornung is book-wise self-admitted America’s Stud #One, Sandy K our First in Big Ticket Young Old-Age Hump-Your-Arm Arthritis, Vince Lombardi #1 for Prof Foot Maf Mr. Big, Frankie Sin naught but our middleaged song, Macnamara the overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Catholic chowder — Christians Compassionate unite over Vietnam — piss in fire — and, yours truly, America’s #1 Reformed Hood (working now for the weal and substance of the good American public, #1 in the Universe Hit Parade.) Here we go, Jack Ruby has put us in his debt. Because, sons, he has shown us how to get cancer. Fire of nausea, cheer his cells, he has underlined the way.
You see, it is his story, and some will subscribe, that he killed Lee Oswald on instant impulse. He did not know what he was about to do. Hula, hula, said the witches. Well, boys, that makes sense. If you deep in potential for cancer, man, then you got to strike. Jellied gasoline. Whoooosh! Whoosh! Whoosh! Yeah. Strike. So — here one big version — Jack Ruby out to cure his own oncoming cancer went for shit in the face of the American public three years ago. He kill Lee Oswald. Now we never get to know what makes Oswald tick — Lee Oswald — latest greatest American mystery drowning great American public public mind.
Listen, there is economy in American myth in the making. Transaction go like this: you shit on us, we shit on you. Hula hoo! That is the spine of demo f. effort. Dig. Jack Ruby added a point to the general median cancer potential for cancer by bugging the hope we could find one answer via Lee Harvey Oswald. In turn, us, Great American Pure Breed Public, in for feed, gave him his cans back. He died of cancer this morning, told us the way. We do not know the cure, but son, now we know the way. We know how to give cancer now. Jack Ruby, on to killing Lee Oswald to save himself from his own true malignancy, got cancer by staying in jail, staying in a room void of window, Jack Ruby without a window for three years with the lights on, the lights on, never out, never alone, the eyes of the guard upon him in air-conditioned endless halls of zero, never seeing day, never seeing night, just electric night, no sense of the seasons, Jack Ruby became, gather to hear, a man of no seasons, thus no sense of night. Did that to the night club operator, dig. They cut him off from his unconscious; now, consider: his schizophrenia was not powerful enough to protect his body from the rays of total electric light mediocre, he got his cancer. They cut him off from sense of form and any hope of dramatic edge given by night and day and the four seasons, that sense of form which is Mr. Middle American Public Sensule’s last bastion against cancer’s croons — tuneless, yeah. As he was dying, they smuggled in his brother, Earl Ruby, doing the payola bit for Capitol Records, Capitol — love that name — jack your track back with grease in yeast made all the way by LBJ — hey! — Earl Ruby spoke to Jack Ruby in Yiddish, A.P. — U.P. — (down with the Jews went the news) and what they came up with on the famous Capitol record not yet released was Warren Commission whitewash — you know that old jazz — Jack Ruby by his own deathbed confession did it all alone.
Baby, gnaw on your own funky Uncle Tom pine cone. Cause who know what? Jack Ruby is a cancer Hebe with hop to glory in the hard-art — he could kill Lee Oswald all alone — yeah — it makes sense. But what we also know is Warren Commission shit-and-shinola. Look, you know, hoods is the heart of the fuzz-fire-up for no hire FBI, take a bow, J. Edgar, so here is how it is — I, your humble reformed hood do not know if Jack Ruby told it true in death-bed news or quote World Journal Tribune Jan Three — Art Berman Special, “Ruby reportedly has said that he never slept well during three years under constant guard in a lighted windowless cell. During that period he often was described as mentally confused.
“Now, despite constant pain, Ruby supposedly has been able to sleep better and has clarified his thoughts. (Sic, dig, sic, dig) He reportedly has attributed this to the hospital room’s windows, which enable him to tell night from day.” (Hump that metaphor, Hiram.)
So, we are here. The question, kids, is this: do Jack Ruby tell the truth because he now clearheaded an free in hospital prison to breathe the anti-cancer air of the night-ass Texas wind, (Baron Lord of Texas), or do he he say — listen now — say what they they want him to say because if Rube don’t record the way he got to record they take away his newgiven deathbed window — and let him die deep in windowless nightless cancer age old shit.
What the answer, who can know? We one question deeper in the Great American End of Tale. Great American Mist and Plasma. Subscribe to your local public defense effort leftward. Beseech Cong (U.S. Cong, Rest, man) to impeach LBJ for making war without formal consent of U.S. Cong-Rest. No man alive spends three years in a windowless nightless aircondition cell and still know how to spell. Not Jack Ruby, not you, not me. Not even they. So say Gore Vidal. So say I. The heroes and the halfwits are going to be yet hung together.
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]