Monday, March 5, 2012 / 4:55 pm

I Love a Parade!

Artist Jorg Dubin does Dallas.

by Jim Washburn

Jorg Dubin and motorcade
Jorg Dubin and motorcade

My artist friend Jorg Dubin emailed recently with the opportunity to join him on an escapade. He’s one of the few people I know who has escapades: grand art projects; cocktail parties that get him thrown out of Laguna’s Festival of the Arts; party parties where the spanking machine goes nearly unused. Every time he strays beyond the boundaries of polite society, society only embraces him again, because he’s such a capital fellow and fabulous painter. Whether a Dubin canvas depicts a disused Marine air base or a fecund pudenda, you come away a better person for having seen it, especially the latter.

 The activity this time was Laguna Beach’s Patriot’s Day Parade. With the same questing spirit that causes children to stick paper clips into electrical sockets, the parade officials had named Jorg its Artist of the Year.

This inspired him to go for something different, which resulted in him deciding to create a reenactment of John F. Kennedy’s Dallas motorcade, minus the unpleasantness.

Of course, there had been talk of going whole hog, with exploding squibs and such, but that would have been obvious, and not nice.

I love to horn in on someone else’s parade, so I suggested a couple of twists. The first was, “Why not give Kennedy the rifle this time?” Jorg liked my second idea better, of having everything look like 1963—a Jackie in the pillbox hat, etc.—except this time have a black president sitting next to her. Along with being an arresting image, it struck me as a commentary on where this nation is headed. More on that later.

Jorg thought that was worth pursuing, so I did. But, as you likely know, there isn’t exactly a surplus of black people in Orange County. I called every number in my Negrolodex file. A couple of guys were working. One thought the whole idea was creepy, asking, “Are you going to paint a bulls-eye on me, too?” By the time I did find a willing party, parade day was approaching, and the slot had been filled by a more traditional-looking Kennedy.

I barely made it to the parade myself, held this past Saturday, as the battery in our Passat keeps dying, in sympathy with my job prospects. Down to one car, I dropped my wife off at her work, then fought the PCH traffic to make it to the parade launch zone in time for the crucial pre-parade libation session.

I don’t do a convincing Secret Service agent, so I went as a Dallas newspaper reporter, with press pass stuck in my hat, notepad and my wife’s ancient Rolleicord camera. 

Jorg had his 1962 white Cadillac convertible standing in for Kennedy’s midnight blue, custom-elongated 1961 Lincoln Continental. Standing in for Kennedy himself, wearing a JFKish wig, was Patrick Casey, better known locally as Guitar Floyd of the long-gone western swing band Buck Naked and the Chapped Cheeks, of which Jorg was also a member.

Casey had Jackies in stereo, as he was flanked in the backseat by two women in smart ’60s skirt suits and pillbox hats (Dubin friends Jennifer Becker and Debbie Forsyth). A cowboy-hatted Gov. Connally (Steve McIntosh, who was Buck Naked in the Chapped Cheeks) rode in the front seat next to driver Jorg. With three Secret Service agents, I trotted alongside the Caddy; no easy thing since Dubin likes to swerve a lot in parades.

The Patriot’s Day Parade has gone on in Laguna for 46 years now, and it’s a grand small-town parade, with marching bands, drill teams, fire engines, a belly-dancing troupe, members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, WW II vets and seemingly everyone in town with a “classic” car that’s more than 20 years old.

I’m not sure how many of the parade-watchers got what they were looking at as Jorg’s entry went by. It wasn’t a picture-perfect image of the Zapruder film: the car color was wrong; no motorcycles accompanied it; there was that surfeit of Jackies; Kennedy’s head remained intact, and he used it to good advantage, making out with both Jackies. The younger folks in the audience probably just thought it was the mayor’s limo going by.

Other folks, those of the ‘60s era guffawed at the audacity of the sight; others looked on respectfully or seemed perplexed; others just seemed worried that Jorg’s swerving might take him onto their sidewalk.

The parade began way up a hill, by the high school on Park Ave., then zig-zagged down to near sea level. It was a delightful day of all manner of people having fun. A couple of Jorg’s friends along the parade route did take shots at the motorcade with squirt guns.

Jorg seemed so intent on getting to the Marine Room bar that he neglected to stop at the judge’s booth. He even found a parking space in front of the bar. Mission accomplished. Jorg seemed satisfied. Maybe next year he’ll get a PT boat for the parade.

I drank a Stella, which did little to aid the climb back up the hill to my car. To hell with period-correct—next time I’m not wearing hard-soled black leather shoes.

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Here’s the “more on that later” on what having a black president in the Kennedy seat might have said. I suppose it would have been some statement on how far we’ve come since 1963, and how damned long it took to get there. Given that a lot of Americans back then didn’t even want black people in their schools, voting booths or lives, it’s remarkable that there’s a person of color in the White House today, but it’s also dismaying that it only took a decade for the human intellect to bridge the vast distance from the earth to the moon, while it took half a century to bridge that tiny gap in the human psyche that lets fear and prejudice keep us from seeing our fellow man clearly.

And some people still haven’t bridged that. To me, the real commentary of placing a black person in JFK’s seat is how our nation is to highlight how perilously close we are to going down a similar road. I have heard so much irrational hate aimed at Obama—from drunks in bars to the majority of the Republican candidates for president—that I think they’re setting him up for some unhinged nut with a gun to act on their hatemongering.

Obama has a socialist agenda and a Muslim mindset. He not only hates what most Americans stand for, he’s not even an American! Just like George W. Bush’s yellow cake, he’s from Africa! Dark! Scary! He’s the Manchurian candidate. He is, according to Newt Gingrich, the “most dangerous” president on national security in the nation’s history. In Virgina last year, not 30 miles from the White House, I saw a preacher on TV telling his gun-toting flock that Obama was the frigging anti-Christ.

There’s a difference between honest disagreement, and promulgating outright hate-packed lies that are a total disconnect from reality. Newt’s still painting Obama as the guy who bows to Muslim kings, as if that simple courtesy obviates Obama obliterating Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s top leadership, helping to topple Kaddafi, etc. Nope, he’s the anti-Christian anti-Christ, secret Muslim, communist who is leading us into becoming the next Nazi Germany, with him personally feeding babies and old people into a chipper-shredder.   

How long before somebody decides it’s his patriotic duty to save the nation with a well-placed bullet? Does the nation have to go down that dark road again?

Jim Washburn has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the OC Weekly, various MSN sites and just about anybody else willing to trade a paycheck for a pulse.
jim@fourstory.org

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