Havana 8

“Edward Grady Partin was a big, rugged guy who could charm a snake off a rock.”1

Jimmy Hoffa, 1975

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  1. I’m no Big Daddy. But, more than a few people say I inherited his smile and some degree of his charm (at least when I’m not cramped in an enclosed space). In the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, on a random sunny San Diego day in July 2020, I was strolling through Balboa Park with a yoga mat strapped to my back when I was stopped by someone in a mask with a camera; she was filming documentaries about people she met passing by, seeking to connect strangers by asking their biggest secret. Lowering your mask was optional. She had an abundance of disinfectant and screens over the microphone, so I pulled down my mask and smiled with my clean-shaven face, and said that I was Jason Partin, and that my grandfather, Edward Grady Partin Senior, was behind President Kennedy’s assassination. I paused and held my smile for a minute, then walked away with a vintage Muhammed Ali t-shirt visible behind the yoga mat strapped to my back. Three days later, friends were calling me, surprised that the clip went viral on the lady’s then-new TikTok account and established Youtube channel. Around 10 Million people watched it and started searching my grandfather’s name. 6,872 comments about it and me were already logged on Youtube, some digging into the JFK report, some quoting Wiki, and some laughing that the CIA would target me next. Almost all of them commented on my smile, and that I seemed nice or charming.

    Apparent charm is magic, but it’s not always truthful. Without verifying who I was, enough people trusted what I said that they shook the walls of Wikipedia and changed my grandfather’s long-established page to say what I had said. Some people who read it after the change believed those words, and ran from there. I watched all of this unfold, shocked at how quickly fires spread, and more than a bit flattered that so many people said I was nice and charming. A week later, Big Daddy’s wikipedia site was returned back to it’s normal state, an almost perfect facsimile of his upcoming role in The Irishman, adding apparent validity to a film intended to be entertainment, not a documentary.

    Hindsight is 20/20, and in 2020 I would have liked to be clever enough to say, “Edward Grady Partin was a big part in history; I’m Jason Partin, just a small part in his story, and this is it.” Oh, well, maybe next time. But, in a way, that unplanned viral video and blip of public reaction to a smile and a charm explains why Jimmy Hoffa, Marcello, Bobby Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover, a team of FBI agents, and almost everyone in my family didn’t suspect that Big Daddy was behind a bigger plot; in fact, they seemed to follow whatever he said, blindly trusting the charming man with a subtle smile, and that’s what I had said when Craig Vincent had asked how he could portray Big Daddy in The Irishman. Even now I still think that’s true.

    After the pandemic, a contested election between Trump and Biden (who still hasn’t released the final part of the JFK Assassination Report), and the assault on our nation’s capitol by conspiracy theorists (who, by the way, could learn a lot from the first part of this memoir), my focus in this memoir shifted from uncovering the people behind Kennedy’s murder shifted to a bigger picture than even that, away from the past and towards the future, starting with truth in media and helping an intemperate public move Democracy towards a more peaceful place. The next part in this memoir will try to do that. ↩︎