1938 - ON GOOD AND EVILIn the real world, unlike the reel world of Hollywood, there is never pure good and impure evil. There are many shades of grey hats. Richard Kuklinski, our hitman, says "I'm not the iceman (his nickname) - I'm the nice man." Indeed, he was not all bad. He was a good husband, according to his wife, a good father, according to his children, and a good neighbour, according to his neighbours, who were always invited to his barbecues at his suburban home. He was certainly a good actor, being able to pull off his double life. He was chivalrous too - refusing to kill women no matter the price of the contract. Robert Vesco, our white-collar criminal, according to his supporters, was a victim of a vindictive campaign by Stanley Sporkin in the Securities and Exchange Commission (they nickname it See Everything Crooked), who was paranoid about American business being lured overseas. Vesco was a creative businessman, who misapplied his creativity to reality and to accounting. No doubt someone would say of General Gnassingbé Eyadema, our dictator, that indeed he fed his opponents to crocodiles but he was kind to crocodiles. You can't look at pictures of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein as children and totally dismiss them as devils. By separating out the very good as angels and the very bad as devils, we refuse to consider the full range of human potential.
And on Good/Evil
Many members of my karass appeared on the cover of Time magazine - King Hussein of Jordan (3 times), Woody Allen (3 times), King Faisal II of Iraq (2 times), Julie Andrews, Adnan Khashoggi, and Dalai Lama. However, one member, Candy Barr, is a candidate not so much for the cover of Time but for the centre of Playboy. Some would argue that she should appear here in this section under evil people. However, there are no victims or if there are, they are not complaining and they smile a lot. Juanita Dale Slusher, who was labelled Candy Barr by Barney Weinstein, one of her "managers", was simply accident-prone. Granted the fact that she was so often prone contributed to her accident-proneness. Growing up in a merged family of 11, she was sexually abused by a neighbour and a baby-sitter. She ran way from home at 13 and married an alleged safe-cracker, Billy Joe Debbs at 14. She has been called the "first porn star" on the basis of being drugged and coerced into "starring" in one 20-minute movie (Smart Alec) when she was 16. She shot Troy B. Phillips, her second husband, as he was kicking in the door of her Dallas apartment. He survived, and charges were dropped. Dallas police raided her apartment and found 4/5 of an ounce of marijuana in her bra. Despite her protest that she was keeping it for a friend, she was sentenced to prison for fifteen years. She was a casual friend of Jay Ruby since she went to his after-hours club. He later shot Lee Harvey Oswald who had shot Jack Kennedy. She became the girl-friend of gangster Mickey Cohen whom she met while stripping at Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. After serving part of her prison term, she was released, moved back to Edna, Texas, where she had grown up, and raised dogs. Candy Barr is among the inductees in the Hall of Fame of Exotic World Burlesque Museum, Helendale, California, halfway between L.A. and Las Vegas, where her lip prints are part of the museum's display.
Jean Pelletier was briefly considered for the role of my white-collar criminal. However, he turned out to be an honourable man throughout his life, except for one brief slip. As Mayor of Quebec City from 1977-1989, as Chief of Staff to his childhood friend Jean Chretien, when Chretien was Prime Minster of Canada from 1993-2001, as head of VIA Rail, a Crown Corporation. He was fired from this post by Paul Martin, successor and rival to Jean Chretien, for alleged participation in the sponsorship scandal. Sounds like he just got into the losing side of a political squabble. He made a few dumb sexist remarks, which gave his enemies an excuse to get rid of him. He was no more guilty than someone who saw people pick up a lot of money that was lying around (he didn't pick up any himself) and succumbed to the temptation not to mention it to anyone. He has been honoured by the Canadian, the Quebec, and the French governments for a life-time of social service. Like a certain French soccer star, a fine life-time is marred by one dumb moment. Since the moment came so late in the life, the moment is remembered and the life is forgotten.
Perhaps we should think of good and evil not as a dichotomy but as a dimension. We all as members of our species fall somewhere along that dimension and the people at the ends of the scale are still members of our species.