We're shooting the last batch of "Bullshit!s" for Showtime.
It's on Conspiracy Theories, and we're using the research Penn did for
"How to Play with your Food," about Dr. Luis Alvarez's explanation of
why Kennedy's head moved towards origin of the shot instead of away from it.
Alvarez proved it was counterintuitive physics. Roughly: the movement imparted by the goop pouring
out the exit wound created a sort of jet stream that was stronger than that of the tiny hole made by
the entrance wound. So the head moved back towards the shooter. Alvarez tested his theory by taking
a melon, to represent brain, and wrapping it in fiberglass tape, to represent skull. He shot his melon
and, as he predicted, it rocketed right back towards the source of the gunfire.
We wanted to reproduce this experiment ourselves, full action, highspeed camera.
So I went with the crew to a gun shop with a firing range. The place was packed
with people. More employees than Wal-Mart at xmas and several customers for every
salesperson. And this was a Monday afternoon. On weekends there's a line out the door.
I met my instructor, Tony, a silver-haired, tan, 20 year veteran of the police force (where
he taught firearms skills). Since retiring from the police, Tony has been teaching marksmanship
and gun safety to hobbyists for fifteen years.
He's disgusted and incredulous at the sheer ignorance of anybody who doubts Oswald could
have killed Kennedy.
"It was easy shot. Stevie Wonder could have made it," he said and reeled off the
exact distances of Oswald's three shots. "I took my gun club out on the desert.
We used the exact same make and model of rifle. We set up all the same distances
and elevations. Nineteen of the guys hit all three shots, and the other four guys
couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a coal shovel. And don't forget, Oswald only hit two out of three."
While the crew set up, Tony took me into another range for some practice. The Mannlicher
Carcano rifle was a duplicate of Oswald's, except that it didn't have a telescopic sight;
I was holding in my hands, not on a stand, which makes aiming harder. I shot the target
smack through the heart three times. "Okay, that's enough practice," said Tony.
I went into the gun safety classroom to don wardrobe and makeup.
The classroom walls were covered with diagrams showing how bullets
fire and how to ensure safe handling, and with credentials, certificates
of appreciation, and awards from police organizations.
Dressed, I was ready to shoot, in both senses. The crew and I set up two melons
on stands. The one representing JFK was wrapped in fiberglass tape; the one
representing Jackie was wearing a pink pillbox hat. We photographed me loading
the gun, then took an "art" shot of me shooting from the point of view of the melon
(using blanks, of course). Finally it was time really to shoot the melon.
"This gun shoots a little high, so aim the sights about an inch below where you want it,"
said Tony. I aimed and squeezed the trigger. A perfect hit. As Alvarez said it would,
the melon goop "brain" blew out the front and shot the melon backwards. As an added bonus,
the goop knocked off Jackie Melon Kennedy's pillbox hat. I shot again,
hit a little off center, but even then, the melon came towards me and the pillbox blew off.
I shot one final time. Dead center, melon back at me, the most perfect shot of all.
Our director/producer Star Price asked if I wanted to shoot some more. I asked him if he had the shot
he needed. He did. So I thanked everybody and left.
It's hard to digest the idea that a pallid loser, Lee Harvey Oswald could
annihilate radiant John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the most powerful and glamorous
man on the earth. But after talking to Tony and blasting the brains out of
a tape-wrapped melon, I'm triply convinced that the Kennedy assassination can be best described like this:
Oswald and Kennedy were men of flesh and blood. One of them pointed a gun at the other and shot.