Don's Blog

Clay Shaw/Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw/Dueling Voices/I Lost It at the Beginning/101 Reasons Not To Murder The Entire Saudi Royal Family/He Knew Where He Was Going (?)

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Bob Dylan Awarded Golden Lyrics Prize by UNITE!

 In Nashville, Tennessee today, a federal judge ruled that the city's laws banning satire in all forms was unconstitutional. Judge Ernest Thomas Basse ruled that satire must be permitted if a person has completed a six-week training program and paid a reasonable licensing fee.

But first, the group United Nonconformists Intersecting with Transcontinental Entertainment! (UNITE!) has awarded its prestigious Golden Lyrics Award to singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The group, which is headquartered at the southernmost edge of Argentina, announced the award in an e-mail released this afternoon.

"Bob Dylan has affected many lives," the group's president, Michael Spillane said. "He has touched many, directly and indirectly."

The award comes with some conditions.

"We learned from what the Nobel Prize Committee went through five years ago," Spillane said.

Dylan must publicly acknowledge the award and submit an essay setting forth how what he regards as his top fifteen songs came about, and how the experiences behind them impacted him. The essay must be submitted within thirty days. Dylan must also personally travel to the group's headquarters to receive the award on July 4th of this year.

"No need to drag it out any longer than necessary," explained Spillane.

If Dylan meets the conditions, and if reaction to the prize over the next two years is generally favorable, UNITE! will pay Dylan a possible total of three million dollars in annual installments over the next twenty-five years. Dylan must also perform an annual private concert for the group's officers and employees at the organization's headquarters in July of each year for the same twenty-five year period.

Dylan has yet to comment on the award.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

William Gaudet and Latin American Reports and the International Trade Mart/Clay Shaw

One of the many shadowy-seeming figures around Clay Shaw was William Gaudet, who published a newsletter style offering called Latin American Reports. The publication seems to have begun operation in the mid-1940s, around the time that International House was opening in New Orleans and during the 2 1/2 year buildup to the opening of the International Trade Mart in 1948. The Trade Mart contributed to the publication by taking out subscriptions for tenants and potential tenants, possibly giving rent breaks and even small contributions. The newsletter, which years later evolved into a magazine, gave summaries of happenings in virtually all of the Central and South American countries. It is known that the CIA funded at least some of the research that went into the publication, and perhaps some travel expenses, but as best I could uncover William Gaudet was never paid by the CIA, never was employed by them, even as a contractor, and never signed any security agreement with them. But years later, in the 1970s, when the CIA was being investigated by Congress, Gaudet publicly claimed that he had worked for the CIA (not unusual, since the CIA rarely denied such claims, at least not publicly).

I go into Gaudet's history with Clay Shaw and the International Trade Mart in my biography of Clay Shaw, Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw. Latin American Reports began to fall behind on its rent in the second half of the 1950s, and Clay Shaw found it necessary to issue them a warning about possible eviction, a situation later resolved with some free advertising space in the pubication for the Trade Mart.

As for the shadowy Gaudet, his self-created legend lives on, if in much reduced form compared to the mid-1970s.

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Slowing Interest in the Jim Garrison Investigation?

 Over the years since 1967-69, when interest in what came to be known as the Jim Garrison Investigation, the high point of which was the arrest, trial, and prosecution of Clay Shaw, was at its peak, the case has vanished completely from the news and been resurrected several times. The two year period between arrest and trial was very intense, but after the acquittal of Clay Shaw, interest diminished quickly, even though during the 1969-71 period. Shaw was re-arrested on perjury charges two days after his acquittal, and that case limped along for two years before a Federal court prohibited any further prosecution. Shaw filed an a civil suit against Garrison and others, and it, too, progressed very slowly, seeming to pick up steam only shortly before Shaw's death in 1974. It was quite a tangled mess, one that I explain in much detail in the context of Shaw's life in my biography of him, Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw.

Now, 55 years after it all began, I sensed a diminished interest in Shaw, even among conspiracy theorists. Since Shaw was the only person ever tried for the assassination, it was natural that many would cling to him as a suspect or person of interest. Even if he wasn't technically guilty, many said, he must have known Oswald, must have shepherded him around New Orleans. And Shaw surely knew David Ferrie, the somewhat strange, shadowy man also allegedly present at the all-important "party" or meeting where the assassination was discussed.

I haven't seen the recent Oliver Stone documentary about the assassination, but my understanding is that there is very little mention of Shaw, perhaps more of Garrison (but not as much as in Stone's 1991 movie JFK.

What does it all mean? Does it signify that the Garrison case and any suspicions of Shaw are dying out? Or is it a temporary resting point, as has happened in the past? There are reasons for believing that this time, it might be different. But I don't think so.

Labels: ,

Friday, April 22, 2022

Clay Shaw and Alfred J. Moran

Alfred J. Moran figured somewhat prominently (but behind the scenes) in the evidence presented against Clay Shaw at Shaw's trial. As I explain in some detail in my biography of Clay Shaw, Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw, Alfred Moran dropped some information at a social gathering in the fall of 1967, after Shaw's initial trial date had been postponed. The trial was reschedule to begin in about four or five months, and it was during this period that the evidence of Shaw's supposed visit to the Eastern Airlines VIP room, where he allegedly signed the guest register using the name "Clay Bertrand," was being developed. Alfred Moran had been present in the VIP Room on the date in question, and the information he gave was consistent. However, it was garbled in a series of CIA memos (a CIA employee who knew Moran had been present at the social gathering where Moran discussed his knowledge of the event. Confusion about the nature of that information caused noticeable confusion at the CIA for a period.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Clay Shaw and Richard Townley

One of the journalists who figures prominently in the first six months of the period before and after Clay Shaw's arrest was Richard Townley, an investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. I e-mailed with Richard, interviewed him by telephone, and then drove to his residence in Mountain Home, Arkansas during the middle part of 2007. Richard provided quite a lot of useful information, about which I reported in my biography of Clay Shaw, entitled Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw.

Richard was alerted to the Garrison investigation before news of it broke on February 17, 1967, and certain information he received from inside of Garrison's office convinced him that it was an invalid investigation from the start. He was eventually indicted by Garrison, and found it necessary to seek employment outside of New Orleans. I give a detailed account of this in my book.

I found Richard credible. He was forthright about things that went on, and he was very candid about his investigative "partner", Walter Sheridan, a former key aide to Robert Kennedy and, at the time of Garrison's investigation, an investigative reporter for NBC News.

Richard passed in early 2009, way too young, after several long-term health issues.

Labels: ,