What if one day, Youtube, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook merged, and because it’s one platform, You Twit Tok Face, everyone parroted and believed the same thing? Who’d be pulling the proverbial strings?A neighbor, probably high, and probably repeating something they saw online
A few months after the pandemic shut down the world, I took a day off to get a little high with a few neighbors and enjoy a pour over from James’s coffee shop. Balboa Park had reopened recently, after a few awkward months of police helicopters patrolling overheard with bullhorns, telling people walking six feet apart that Balboa Park was closed and they should evacuate, or the police would keep shouting at them. For two months, all of San Diego’s downtown services had shuttered, and the homeless population was walking around like zombies, trash had piled up, and the residents of Hillcrest and Banker’s Hill and downtown were craving exercise and socializing. Cristi, Hope, and I had done our best to help a few neighbors by sharing whatever we had, and by the time Balboa Park finally stopped having police shouting at us, we, too, were ready for exercise and socializing. They had gone on a kids play day in one of the smaller sections of the park, and I got a little high with some neighbors and met at James’s to celebrate our first shared cup of coffee at our favorite old hangout for the first time in almost five months.
The news said downtown was a “war zone,” and though, as a combat vet I disagreed with that phrasing, I understood the intention and the relative perspective of residents used to the previous paradise that had been downtown San Diego. But even I was shocked by the trash piled up wherever the wind blew it, and the human feces piled around the trees where we used to climb, and the few bodies of homeless people waiting to be removed by whatever sanitation services remained in the shuttered city of 1.3 Million people. I wanted to stop thinking about it, and one of the wonderful side effects of cannabis is… funny, I can’t remember that right now. But, on June ___ 2019, I was a little high and strolling through Balboa Park with a rolled up yoga mat strapped across my back and a handkerchief tied around my face, like a wild west bandit, which sufficed as a mask. A community yoga group had formed, and everyone stayed six feet back and took off masks and had the best day ever.
“You know,” I had said to my neighbors over coffee and cannabis, just before yoga, “Everyone thinks that Ranger school and all that jazz is hard. It is! Don’t get me wrong. But, not how people think. All the food and sleep deprivation was to test core habits, and work on forming habits that would keep you and your team alive when you’re too tired and hungry to think clearly. It’s a lot like being very, very high. Or, more like being on mushrooms; reality and not reality weave in an out, and it’s hard to know the difference.”
Like my dad and most of my aunts, I tend to rant when I’m drunk, high, tired, or emotionally distraught. I may have been a bit more than a little high. It was my turn to chat, and no one looked like they wanted to do anything else, so I continued.
“You’re left with your core habits and values and beliefs. When a small team is on patrol and you’re hunting them or waiting in ambush, you wait by bottlenecks, like a grocery store checkout line, and human nature is to bottleneck up and not stay far apart. You’ve seen that now: we wouldn’t need all the masks and precautions if people would be more situationally aware, and stop crowding up as they get anxious when waiting in line at the convenience store or quing up at a bank teller. It’s the same with small teams special ops; they bottleneck at steep sections of a mountain or narrow crossings of a stream that slow down the people in front, and that’s when you attack them, because then they’re bunched and it’s like shooting ducks in a pond or snagging fish in a barrel. We’d set off claymore mines and “kill” more of the oposing team whenever they bunched up. Then it would be our turn, and after a few days of no food and sleep we, too, would forget ourselves and bunch up and die. It sometimes took two months to break that habit and keep your team alive no matter how little food and sleep they had had, and no matter how disconnected from reality their minds had become. We’d go back into our day jobs, or regular paratrooper teams, and you’d see them in a different way, more like machines with habits, values, and beliefs than alert and awake humans with habits, values, and beliefs that keep a team alive. But, no matter how much we tried to install that into our teams, I never learned how to change habits without fasting a bit and sacrificing enough sleep to bring deep down habits to the surface. It’s very spiritual, just like all texts talk about a bit of fasting and a bit of sacrifice are the way to talk with God. And you never look at people who haven’t done that the same. We’re mindless machines; it’s been five months, and we’re still bunching up in lines and coughing into our hands, and shaking hands! When was the last time we needed to shake a right hand to ensure the person in front of us wasn’t holding a daggar? Habits! Obama fist bumped Michelle during his first campaign, and half of our political system plastered it across the news as disprespectful, implying that the African American culture – which doesn’t shake as much, perhaps because they had fewer had swords and daggars in their traditions, and the white people errupted. Ha! I wish more white people fist bumped now. For decades, 60% of communicable diseases were attributed to passing germs with your hands, and we still can’t stop shaking hands, out of habit, and we can’t stop bunching up in grocery store lines and talking a lot and blowing germs on each other. I don’t know what to do; I couldn’t get teams of relatively disciplined paratroopers to change habits that took me months of sacrifice to change, and I can’t imagine how to get the little old ladies in Banker’s Hill to stop coming up to my face in the convenience store line and talking incessantly because they’re craving social interaction.”
Everyone took turns talking incessantly, because we had been craving social interaction. It was not unlike when you get out of a food and sleep deprivation scenario, you tend to eat a lot and sleep a lot the first few days to a week. Wrestling was the same, a lot of binge and purge, cut weight and sit down at an all you can eat pizza buffet, up and down, yin and yang. Usually, I’m aware of that and try to avoid extremes, but I had been craving social interaction with diverse people for five months, just like the little old laddies in Banker’s Hill, and I wasn’t judging as much as I was talking to myself. I was more than a little high, and I’ve always spoken closer to how I feel in my core values and beliefs when I’m high, as if I have no filter, and I’ve always felt that the best part of that feeling was having done all the work I needed to do, said what I needed to say to people I loved, and then relaxed with friends with whom I was so comfortable that social norms went out the window like a puff of exhaled smoke.
Having left my friends, I was strolling to outdoor community yoga when a delightful young lady behind a mask asked a simple question.
“Would you be willing to share your biggest secret on film?”
I said yes, and she explained the safety measures she had installed. I was satisfied, and I stood in front of the mike, with my back turned, and told my biggest secret. “I just learned that my grandfather, Edward Grady Partin Senior, was behind the Kennedy assassination.”
Three days later, my Android began buzzing with people who had seen me on TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia; I don’t recall the other venues, but somewhere between 10 and 30 Million people had watched me speak without a filter and lie a bit; I had been working on a book about my family and Jimmy Hoffa and the Kennedy assassination, and I kept running into problems with why, if I had known since before the 1992 JFK Assassination Report was public, had I waited until 2019 to share it. I was trying to take liberties in writing, bending truth to avoid discussing my mom’s early role in my life and the court records that clearly implied her history of intemperence, ranging from being abusive to me when I was a child in the 1970’s, when Hoffa disappeared and the Partin’s lost their legal influence and she was, coincidentally, able to regain custody; to her recent DUI before her 2018 death. Out of habit, I was protecting her, and I was lying. I found that fascinating.
I also found it fascinating how many people believed me without verifying who I was. I had worn a mask at first, but, per a choice offered by the delightful young lady, an aspiring film maker who focused on secrets kept inside and the shared experiences we all have, I removed my mask at the end.
Within three days, the TikTok and Youbube versions each had around 3 Million views, and the Youtube version, which was longer and had more people who had spoken their secrets, had more than 6,000 comments about me and what I said. That day, as I sat round James’s with a few friends and neighbors, all of us a little bit high, we laughed at the comments and I said, somewhat pridefully, but hopefully not in an arrogant way, but in a way that made me and my friends feel good, that thousands of people thought I seemed “nice,” and “charming,” and that I “had a nice smile.” I laughed with my friends and said that perhaps that was the best thing I had inherited from Ed Partin: a nice small and charming demeanor, when a little bit high. But, what disturbed me was that in those thousands of comments, more than 800 dug deeper and offered thoughts and opinions based soley on Wikipedia. I never read one person go to the original JFK Assassination Report, or Hoffa’s authorized biography, or even compare the film, “The Irishman,” to the book. No one was focusing on the situation, they were just reacting.
Wikipedia had changed to quote me, and I was given me credentials I had never claimed nor do I have. And I was misquoted; I had only said a few words, and they were easily accessed by anyone, and yet that reference wasn’t cited in Wikipedia, and people who saw me on the viral video and searched the internet for “Edward Grady Partin Senior” would have, as their first option, seen the Wikipedia site that said Ed Partin was responsible for Kennedy’s death, and that his grandson said so. Two days later, the Wikipedia site about Edward Grady Partin Senior vanished, like a magician’s tiny red silk handkerchief, and then reappeared, almost exactly as it had been just before The Irishman was released to theaters and streamed on Netflix.
Then, everything settled, and no one seemed to care again. It was like emotions rising and falling and then rising and falling about something new, but as a collective entity centered around social media. I was more terrified of that contagiousness than of Covid. And I had no idea how Wikipedia worked.
I created a gmail account and registered to edit Wikipedia, and tried to add references to my grandfather’s page from Archives.gov and SupremeCourt.gov, and a few .edu site from reputable universities and faculty who had been saying the same things for years. But, nothing changed. One person or machine or whatever is behind Wikipedia kept an iron fist around The Irishman version of my grandfather’s history. I had even added a link to buying the book, The Irishman, wondering if anyone would read the author’s notes at the end, or the chapter about Edward Partin, Hoffa, Nixon, and Audie Murphy. But, again and again, nothing changed.
Perplexed, I tried to edit a site that should have no influence, the site for the University of San Diego’s new innovation space in the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, named “Donald’s Garage,” after Donald Shiley, whose wife, Darlene, had recently donated $21.1 Million to USD to create a space where other people could ideate and prototype and iterate. He had become a multi millionaire inventing the world’s first successful heart valve, a pyrolytic carbon valve that kept dozens of thousands of people alive; later, after Pfizer had bought the heart valve and changed manufacturing and the design a bit, it began failing inside of people, fracturing and killing them, and dozens of thousands of people became ticking time bombs. The United States FDA used that case study and hundreds more to begin the 1985 laws that required medical device companies to keep a design history file permanently attached to a product used in human beings so that future gerations could learn and improve without revinventing the wheel and introducing errors that had been avoided generations before, whether by luck or intention, and requiring all companies to make evidence based decisions on product changes rather than opinion or marketing or budget based opinions. The evidence was that even after those laws, 80,000 to 250,000 people died each year in America from medical mistakes that could have been avoided by improved, user friendly designs of products and good document control in manufacturing and quality assurance departments. I felt that, as a factulty of USD and as a coauthor on the public comittees who set those standards, I was as good of a person as any to add a bit to a web site about San Diego philanthropy and the bigger picture of document control and design history files.
Apparently, I was, and my tiny edit was reviewed by a few other anonymous people or robots, and I could tweak a tiny web page. But, as a person misquoted about my grandfather on Wikipedia, I was unable to do anything, and I felt that was a remarkable fact to document publicly, for posterity’s sake.
Not long after I began learning about how to edit Wikipedia, Aunt Janice called and I answered my iPhone.
“Hi, Aunt Janice,” I said into the void. “I’m happy to see that it was you, calling.”
“Jason, I’m so hurt by you!”
I was flabergasted.
“Janice,” I said. “I love you; and I wish you happiness. How may I help you?”
“How could you?” she demanded, sobbing.
I was dumbfounded. I asked how I could help her.
“You could take that blog down! And delete that twitter or youtube or whatever that was! My grandaughter came to me today and showed it to me! How could you! I trusted you! And you… and you… and you told everyone! How could you? You didn’t know Big Daddy like I did! You didn’t! You didn’t know Mamma! I always told you stories about them so you’d understand your dad better, to know he had a rough life, and to hope that you’d forgive him! How could you! I trusted you! You probably just want the money, don’t you. Just like Scorcesse and all those movie producers. You don’t care about the truth! You just want to do what’s best for you! Well, I tell you, Jason Ian Partin, I will pray for you. I will pray for Jesus H. Christ to save your soul. I will pray for you to stop your hateful ways. I will pray for you to believe that Jesus H. Christ is our lord and savior, and that you accept him and learn to forgive your dad and me for not doing more for you. I tried! I tried! I talked about Daddy and how rough he was on your dad so that you’d understand him and forgive him and be happy! I trusted you! I trusted you! And you… and you… and you went and posted that blog! You believed Doug and all his lies! You believed… you believed… Bessie! And all her deciept and all the things she did to our family! I trusted you! And my granddaughter came to me today and showed me her iPhone and asked if that was Uncle J talkin’ about Big Daddy, and I just cried and cried and cried, and wondered what I had ever done to hurt you. I loved you! I kept our secrets! And you… and you… You! You just told them. All of them! She said 10 Million people saw what you said! How could you, Jason? How could you? Why? Why? I tell you, Jason, if Tiffany were here she’d be very disappointed in you! We all are! How could you say all those things? You didn’t know him like I did! You didn’t know him! I’ll pray for you Jason. I’ll pray for you and your dad.”
“Life can be rough on the best of us; I love you, and wish you happiness,” is what I either said or felt, or what suits this narrative truthfully; whatever that means to you.
“How may I help you, right now, at this moment,” I asked Janice.
She told me, and I told her that would make a wonderful book one day, and I loved her and wished her happiness.
She’s a wonderful human being. Those were the last words I heard from her.
Almost immediately after, I heard from my dad.
My father’s final words spoken to me were:
You’re fucked in the head! You know that? You’re fucked in the head! You didn’t know Big Daddy like I did! And you didn’t know Mamma Jean! She can shove that bible up her goddamn ass! And Janice, too! Fuck them! And fuck you! I should have whupped’ your ass more than I did when you was a kid. You’re fucked in the head! Just like Wendy was! She was always fucked in the head! Mentally ill! That’s why I put you with Ed White! I had to keep you safe from her! You know what I want? I want you to kneel before me, with tears in your eyes, and look up at Your Old Man with love in your eyes! Fuck you, you scrawny little shit! Fuck you! Fuck you!!! You’re just like George Washington! He was crazy, too. He killed people and America calls him a hero. Bullshit! And you never whupped’ my ass! I let you go! I let you go! You told me you joined the marines, and I told you not to, and I told you about Audry Murphy, and you didn’t listen! You didn’t listen! And you blame me for your shitty life! And you say that shit on TV, and Janice tells me she prays for you and I have to listen to her jesus Shit. Fuck God! Goddamn fuck you, old man! Fuck you! You didn’t know Daddy like I did! You call me when you get your shit together. You should go see a psychiatrist. That’s what you should do. Go talk to a fucking psychiatrist. They would get your head straight. They never could get Wendy straight. I “warped her?” What the fuck does that mean? She was fucked in the head, just like you!
Don’t worry, I won’t try to contact you again. Call me when you get your head out of your ass.
One of the most remarkable things about President Kennedy’s death and legacy that I don’t feel gets as much attention as is warranted, is the final bill that he signed into law, The Community Mental Healthcare Act. Three weeks after signing it, he was shot and killed by, allegedly, a veteran with a long history or mental illness, like PTSD and depression; forty eight hours later, that human being was shot and killed by another veteran with a long history of mental illness, like PTSD and depression. Lots of people have mental illness, like PTSD and depression; I hope we all can have the inner peace to love them, and to wish them happiness.