Jesse Wilson

I spent all my lunch hours last week looking into Jesse Wilson, a guy from the 50s who blew shit up in an anti-government, anti-union tantrum and then I forgot all my research at work, so I have nothing to write up for my book.

But bad ole Jesse got me thinking about how things become legend, what has to happen for them to be passed down.

I don’t have a good answer for it. Everything about Jesse’s story is hilariously bad and no one got killed. And he got freed from prison, in part, because he learned to read.

Like they actually thought “Well, if this man had known how to read, he wouldn’t have tried to blow up the mayor.” I mean, I’m as pro-reading as the next person and I’m not sure that’s how it works.

But how are people still not telling this?

My other favorite part of the story is that, I guess because he couldn’t read and write, his secretary had to help him with all this illegal shit, including trying to kill people.

And in the trial, they kept referring to her as a jezebel who had all these men under her sway and doing Wilson’s bidding, I guess, because of the magic of her feminine wiles.

So, I’m expecting Eartha Kitt or Julie Newmar. I mean, I’m expecting fucking Cat Woman. Old school Cat Woman. Like, the kind of woman with hips that make you forget all reason. Someone capable of using her eyelashes to command you. The kind of woman you’re a tiny bit afraid to fuck, because you know, even if you’ve fucked 10,000 people, she’s still going to know things that will break your mind in two.

And instead, she is the plainest, most ordinary woman you’ve ever seen! It’s delightful. I mean, I still choose to believe that she was wiggling her hips and batting her eyes and based solely on charisma, it worked.

But I also deeply suspect she was a violent psychopath, just like Wilson (in my opinion), and because it was the 1950s, the best she could do with her ambitions to be a bad-ass gangster-acting nightmare was to hook herself to a man with similar ambitions and pretend she was just helping him.

And I kind of want to see a movie about her, but with her being plain-looking. Because that’s my favorite part.

2 thoughts on “Jesse Wilson

  1. Have you ever seen a documentary called “The Galapogos Affair”? It’s on Netflix at the moment. The person who claimed to be a Baroness was quite plain, not at all pretty, but she apparently was some sort of siren and most men who came across her seem to have fallen thrall to her to some degree. It’s an interesting depiction.

    I don’t think being a siren requires beauty, but rather a willingness to transgress certain social boundaries in just the right way. Or not even that — if something about you triggers some male fantasy that is common in your place and time, you can wind up with them treating you as a siren even as you try to withdraw from that — that’s been my experience of it. And it can be the oddest things that invoke the fantasy.

    I drink very high-quality tea that I get sent to me from overseas and follow the complex brewing practices that make the most of such tea. When people visit me, I offer them tea as a matter of course, and I try to pick one that I think will appeal to the specific guest(s). For some reason I’m not clear on, this being served exotic tea made by complex and mysterious rite by a pretty woman sets off something or other in a lot of dudes — it’s invoking some fantasy I don’t get. To me it’s just tea — I’m having some anyway, so of course I’ll offer it to guests, and none of how I make it is for show, but rather to produce the best result.

  2. Thinking about how things become legend was on my mind as I decided to watch a documentary called, “The Witness,” tonight. It’s about the brother of Kitty Genovese investigating the legends about her death and finding out what he had spent his life thinking was true was often not.

    I’ve gotten to a part where he talks to a son of her killer. And that piece of it is an interesting case of how families create legends and create stories of how things were with certain family members so that the stories make it easier for people to get on with living. Because this guy has spent his life with the story, not the reality. The reality is that Kitty was a bar manager from a very ordinary middle class family who was handy when a serial killer wanted to rape and knife a new victim. But the story his son was given was that his father wasn’t a serial killer or rapist at all, that KItty was a vicious crime lord’s princess from an organized crime family who attacked his father with a deluge of vicious hate speech and he snapped under the strain of a lifetime of bigotry being aimed at him. She was the predator, not he, in that version.

    It’s a weird thing to watch, the conversation between these two men. One is saying he believed he might be walking to his death in agreeing to the conversation, that he expected a killer crime boss out for revenge. The look on his face as he goes from in-your-face courage of this story of his coming to the interview, as he tells it with pride, looking upward, and then looks back at the legless older man in the wheelchair who is the reality of who he is facing, is interesting because it’s so humanly universal to when we learn some heroic narrative we’ve been fed is bullshit.

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