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Phil Ochs and the Crucifixion of President John F. Kennedy

Phil Ochs and the Crucifixion of President John F. Kennedy

They are saying they will’t consider it, it’s a sacrilegious disgrace
Now, who would need to harm such a hero of the recreation?
However you understand I predicted it; I knew he needed to fall
How did it occur? I hope his struggling was small.
Inform me each element, I’ve received to know all of it,
And do you’ve an image of the ache?

— Phil Ochs, The Crucifixion

You’re conscious of just one unrest;
Oh, by no means study to know the different!
Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast,
And one is striving to forsake its brother.

— Goethe, Faust

President John Kennedy was assassinated by the U.S. national-security state, led by the C.I.A., on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.  That may be a reality past dispute, besides for many who want to interact in pseudo-debates to disclaim the apparent.  I choose to not, since there’s nothing to debate.

However there’s every little thing to mourn, even after fifty-five years, first, of course, for the man himself, then for many who have suffered and died for bearing witness to the fact about his assassination, and lastly for the penalties of his homicide, as a result of it reduce savagely into any pretense of American innocence and set the stage for the nihilistic tragedies which have adopted, together with the murders of Malcolm X, MLK, RFK, the September 11, 2001 assaults, and the ongoing “war on terror.”

As we speak, JFK’s killers have tightened their choke-hold on the nation and on the throats of these wishing to inform the fact.  Their penetration of the company mass media is large and deep, and the narratives they spin could make an harmless soul’s head spin.  All the things is twisted to serve their pursuits.  With a click on of a finger, fact and falsehood rotate like spokes on a quickly turning wheel – spooks turning spokes in a recreation of disguise and search meant to confuse and derange the public. Fixed befuddlement is the identify of this racket.

It’s a melancholy process to ponder the elements performed, consciously or unconsciously, by numerous actors on this lethal recreation, not least as a result of one’s personal naiveté prompts one typically to query or abandon these one as soon as admired and to dive deeply into the twisted minds and hearts of fellow people.  What follows considerations one such man’s unusual story as informed by one other man, whose story is probably stranger, and what their relationships with U.S. intelligence, if any, may recommend about our state of affairs immediately.

Oh I’m only a scholar, Sir, and solely need to study
Nevertheless it’s exhausting to learn by way of the risin’ smoke of the books that you simply wish to burn
So I’d wish to make a promise and I’d wish to make a vow
That once I acquired one thing to say, Sir, I’m gonna say it now

These are the phrases of the people singer, Phil Ochs, from his 1966 track I’m Going To Say It Now. Ochs wrote and carried out passionate protest songs throughout the 1960s that impressed many to talk and act in opposition to the Vietnam Struggle and many different injustices.  He was a fiery, sardonic activist whose music, akin to I Ain’t Marching Any Extra induced many to refuse army induction and to burn their draft playing cards.  He, not Bob Dylan, was the dedicated voice of the 1960s radical anti-war people music world, singing at occasions and rallies throughout the nation, culminating at the 1968 Democratic Nationwide Conference in Chicago when the Chicago police rioted and savagely beat anti-war protesters, and Yippies and Hippies gathered in Lincoln Park to take heed to Ochs sing defiant songs to maintain up their spirits. However Ochs’s personal spirit was damaged that horrible yr of so many deaths, which began his lengthy descent into alcoholism and psychological chaos that ended together with his suicide in 1976.

I used to be one of those that was impressed by his music. I nonetheless am.  Soulful and satiric, biting and lovely, stirring and inspiriting, it has an influence few can equal.  However I’ve come to some extent the place I really feel compelled to broach a mysterious story involving Ochs, one thing that once I first heard it in passing shocked me terribly. No, I assumed, that may’t be true; it’s unattainable.

However the extra I’ve researched it, the more true it appears – with emphasis on the phrase “seems” – for there is just one supply for the story, a supply I don’t doubt however can’t affirm.

However both method, I’ve come to see the story as emblematic of the treachery and confusion sown by the CIA, its Operation Mockingbird, and its so-called Mighty Wurlitzer which have performed so many for fools by way of its management of the company mass media and the manufacturing of narratives that run like little films too good to be true, however too true to be false – even when they’re.  Screens inside screens inside screens.  Efforts to fuck up as many individuals as attainable in operation chaos, to derange and cleave them into cut up personalities inside and with out, and to mystify as many minds as attainable.

I feel Phil Ochs was one so mystified. I’m questioning if in life and dying he was used and abused by radically evil forces, whomever they could be.

Based on Phil’s greatest good friend from school at Ohio State, the man who taught him to play guitar, his singing companion, greatest man at his wedding ceremony, fixed pal of their days in Greenwich Village, and life-long good friend, Jim Glover, Ochs was in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, standing outdoors the Dal-Tex constructing in Dealey Plaza when JFK was pushed by to be killed. Glover says Phil informed him he went there as a “national security observer.”

I had examine this on some off-beat web sites, however by no means in biographies of Ochs, or in the newest documentary about him, There However for Fortune. There appears to be an “official” ban on mentioning Glover’s declare, although Glover seems in the books and the documentary, has been interviewed by the authors and filmmaker, and is taken into account by them, as Phil’s previous and shut good friend, to be a dependable supply.

Jim Glover, who was one half of the well-known people duo, Jim and Jean, again in the 1960s, and is now an anti-war activist in Florida, says that he has informed Ochs’s siblings and biographers all the particulars, has additionally reported it just lately and way back to the early 1990s to the FBI, and has put these claims out on some web websites and brazenly spoken about it. These disclosures have resulted in silence from Ochs’s household and biographers.  There have been no efforts to refute it, and so it circulates far outdoors the mainstream.  Since Glover speaks of it brazenly and in nice element, and since it’s a surprising declare with critical implications, one would assume it worthy of response.  However it is just greeted with silence.  It appears maybe like one other instance of what Thomas Merton referred to as “the unspeakable” – “the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said.”

So I contacted Glover and requested him about it.  He advised me that Phil had informed him months earlier than the assassination that he was “working for National Security, something like the C.I.A.”  Then, he later informed him he had gone to Dallas with one of the Gambino boys as “a national security observer” and had been standing in Dealey Plaza outdoors the Dal-Tex constructing the place he was filmed when JFK was shot.  Jim Glover has despatched me pictures that he found many years later that he says are pictures of Phil in Dealey Plaza at the actual spot he talked about and additionally in the film theatre the place Oswald was arrested.  He thinks they’re very conclusive, particularly as a result of of the Dealey Plaza location, regardless of their blurriness.  Whereas I feel they don’t seem to be dispositive, they do appear to be Ochs in a fuzzy type of method.


The primary two photographs are outdoors the Dal-Tex constructing, after and earlier than the assassination.

Inside the film theatre the place Oswald was captured and taken out the entrance door, whereas the second Oswald was led out the again door.

And the final is a photograph of Ochs at Ohio State in 1961 for comparability functions.

No matter you assume of the pictures, they’re one piece of a bigger thriller, a story stranger than fiction.  They could or might not present Ochs, as Jim Glover is for certain they do, but when Ochs’s biographers belief him on different issues, why would they doubt him when he says Ochs informed him he was in Dallas that day?  He says they’re afraid to entertain the risk.

So we’d ask the query: If Phil Ochs was in Dallas that day, what was he doing there?

Let me reiterate: The homicide of President Kennedy isn’t a thriller, and I’m not exploring it.  We all know he was killed in a coup carried out by the nationwide safety state led by the CIA.  If you wish to know why, and if you wish to know why this Thanksgiving, November 22, we should always give thanks for John Kennedy’s life and witness, learn JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass.  It’s the solely ebook you might want to learn on the assassination.

Phil Ochs is the thriller in Glover’s telling, and I’m questioning about him (and Glover), what he thought he was doing getting twisted up with shadowy intelligence operatives, how that awakening information subsequently affected him, how he responded, and what place guilt and worry performed in his post-1963 life and dying.  I’m continuing as if Ochs went to Dallas at the naïve age of 22 to not hurt Kennedy, however as Glover stated he stated, to research the threats towards Kennedy that he had heard of in NYC by way of V. T. Lee of the Truthful Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) and others. (That is the similar V.T. Lee who acquired a letter from Lee Harvey Oswald, who was proposing a FPCC chapter for New Orleans in Might 1963, the place he was performing his theatrical stunts.  Lee warned Oswald to not provoke “unnecessary incidents which frighten away prospective supporters” in a spot so hostile to Castro.  However Oswald, of course, did the reverse to determine his pretend help for Castro.)

Glover says he additionally knew of the plots towards Kennedy that have been extensively circulating in leftist circles, and afterwards felt Phil and he have been being set as much as be implicated in the assassination in case the official cowl story fell aside since he and Glover have been sympathetic to Castro and Cuba. He says their telephones have been tapped and they have been being surveilled.  Presently Glover and his companion Jean have been persuaded, towards Ochs’s recommendation, to go on a Hollywood Hootenanny Tour of southern school campuses, a surreal journey that made stops in Dallas and Houston and appeared clearly related to the Kennedy assassination as unusual individuals acquired off and on the multi-bus caravan, speaking about Kennedy being killed.  Glover says these included George and Barbara Bush and J. Edgar Hoover, who have been picked up by the bus at the Houston airport late in the day of November 22.

You would need to have a incredible creativeness to make these things up.  Why would he?   But his story is actually weird, revealing the intricate nature of the authorities conspiracy to kill Kennedy and to create a number of tales of believable deniability when others failed.

He informed me that he doesn’t know who advised Phil to go to Dallas, however he’s unequivocal that he did.  He stated:

I don’t have all the solutions.  All I do know is what Phil advised me to maintain us each as protected as attainable.  He advised me I’ll by no means mislead you however there are issues I can’t inform you.  Understanding I had an enormous mouth if he informed me belongings you [me] are asking, I won’t be alive.  His function as I see it was to watch, and being arrange if Oswald lived, he might have been used as, ‘See a Castro sympathizer knew and was involved.’  And that might apply to me additionally [learning what he did on the Hootenanny Tour] and they might cease at nothing to have us each silenced completely if Oswald or Kennedy lived as a result of we knew an excessive amount of.

As soon as, he stated, for instance of his huge mouth, he was acting at the Gaslight in Greenwich Village and advised the viewers that Phil had been in Dallas as a nationwide safety observer.  He thinks Ochs’s supervisor, Al Grossman, and Bob Dylan heard it, “because Phil came over and said, ‘Are you trying to get me killed?’”

Phil, he stated, was an excellent patriot and would by no means have achieved something to hurt Kennedy, however was tricked into going to Dallas beneath the assumption that he was working with these making an attempt to stop the assassination by investigating the plot or making an attempt to infiltrate it and maybe cease it. However when Ochs returned to NYC later that day,  in line with Glover, he was devastated by Kennedy’s assassination and at the realization that he had been used and was now compromised.  That’s the reason he cried so terribly that night time and needed to die.  His youthful innocence had died.

Phil Ochs was a person of two minds and inclinations, commonplace for a coterie of musicians of that period who knew and related to it one another, had army/intelligence household backgrounds, and have been by no means drafted like so many younger males not in school. Like so many of these musical icons – Jim Morrison, David Crosby, Frank Zappa, “Papa” John Philips, Stephen Stills, et al (as Dave McGowan chronicles in his ebook, Bizarre Scenes Inside the Canyon, the place he questions their public personae and the unusual methods they gathered from far distances at one time into Los Angeles’s Laurel Canyon, at the coronary heart which was a covert army movie facility, Lookout Mountain Laboratory)  – Ochs had a army background.  He was a conservative insurgent who abruptly reworked from a conservative to a radical at Ohio State in his final yr, in line with Glover. He attended Staunton Army Academy with Barry Goldwater’s son and John Dean of Watergate fame and was a sergeant in the ROTC at Ohio State the place at the least he was conscious of army intelligence spying on radical college students; he idolized John Wayne, James Dean, Marlon Brando and the American western movie mythology of the cowboy and soldier; he beloved John Kennedy; he sang highly effective anti-war songs and would jokingly say to his viewers that now that that they had listened to his anti-government songs he was turning them in to the authorities; he was a drama king who beloved heroes and needed to be one; he was a left-winger who mocked liberals; he was a people singer who liked Elvis.  Briefly, he was a person of many contradictions, of highs and lows, hope and despair, pushed to cease struggle and injustice and to develop into a star in the superficial leisure tradition, and so forth.  As he fell aside in his final years, it turned straightforward to categorize him with the facile time period “manic-depressive” or “bipolar.”

I feel that misses the coronary heart of the matter, as if a time period explains its actuality, as if his paranoia had no foundation outdoors his thoughts, as if he was simply nuts to assume the CIA was out to get him, as he did commonly and particularly after he was attacked and choked whereas strolling alone on a seashore in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, when his vocal cords have been ruptured and his voice completely broken.

My guess is that he was pushed by guilt and worry and that his suicide at age 35 was related to being in Dallas on the day JFK was assassinated.  I feel he died that day too, and that the subsequent 13 years of his life have been brave makes an attempt to quell his guilt for being gulled into going to Dallas and worry that he is perhaps killed for doing so by singing out his rebellious songs in the face of his ghosts. He was a haunted man, and produced haunting songs in response to exorcise his demons, together with the songs The Crucifixion and That Was the President, each about John Kennedy.

In his final years he stated he was John Practice (typically John Butler Practice), not Phil Ochs, and that John Practice had killed Phil Ochs in the Chelsea Lodge on the summer time solstice in 1975, the solstice being a big turning level.  His biographers give numerous explanations for his adoption of this pseudonym, all of which, I consider, miss the mark.  To say he took the identify from his heroes John Wayne, John Ford, John Kennedy, and William Butler Yeats, avoids the key phrase: Practice. It’s as if the phrase is unimportant or unspeakable, or the identify John Practice is a standard identify that “crazy” Phil simply made up.

As he was unravelling in worry and trembling, I consider he was referring to an actual John Practice, a CIA operative, when he metaphorically stated “on the first day of summer 1975, Phil Ochs was murdered in the Chelsea Hotel by John Train….For the good of societies, public and secret, he needed to be gotten rid of.” Practice assassinates Ochs.  Then the following spring Ochs assassinates Ochs by hanging himself.

Might it simply be a coincidence that there’s a actual John Practice who from the early 1950s onward was related to the CIA and the covert state in numerous actions as an asset or an agent?  This John Practice, who was one of the founders and funders of The Paris Evaluation, its first managing editor, who along with the CIA’s Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton began the journal for the CIA underneath its propaganda entrance, The Congress for Cultural Freedom.  This John Practice, who ran cowl firms for the CIA and was related to George Herbert Walker Bush by means of the CIA’s Thomas Devine, who was concerned in establishing Bush’s firm Zapata Offshore.  This John Practice, who was deeply concerned with the CIA’s actions in the early 1980s backing the CIA-supported mujahideen towards the Soviets in Afghanistan.  This John Practice who….

It’s farfetched in the excessive to assume that Phil Ochs simply plucked the identify John Practice out of skinny air. However the undeniable fact that that is asserted by his biographers is sensible once we understand that Jim Glover’s claims are ignored by Ochs’s household, his biographers, and the makers of the documentary about him.  That there’s a actual CIA-affiliated John Practice and that Glover insists Phil advised him he was in Dallas on November 22, 1963 appear clearly related.  However these information are unspeakable.  I feel they have to be explored.

Like Jim Glover, I don’t have all the solutions about Phil Ochs.  My guess and my hope is that Phil was used and was not complicit, that he naively thought by going to Dallas he was working with the good guys to guard the president from the killers, and when he witnessed the brutal homicide, he felt compromised, and felt so overwhelmed with guilt and worry that life ultimately turned too insufferable for him.  Clearly that is Glover’s story.  I feel it’s incumbent on those that don’t consider it to elucidate why Glover would fabricate such an intricate story that glorifies his pal as a real patriot,  whom he claims was utilized by intelligence operatives and who subsequently suffered for the relaxation of his life for making an attempt to guard President Kennedy.

No matter the fact on this age of “not knowing,” I feel his story is a parable for our occasions.  Everytime you assume you’re getting the straight scoop, assume once more, and then once more.  The CIA’s Operation Mockingbird continues to be singing its siren track to persuade us that the crucifixion was a one-time occasion, when Phil knew in any other case, proper from the begin and proper to the finish. I feel he tried to warn us and wouldn’t be silenced, even in dying.

Once I’m Gone