The Long, Long, Long Goodbye

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On
July 16 of last year, in our greatest national tragedy since the
burning of the White House by the British in the War of 1812, in
a loss more terrible than the sinking of the Maine, in an
event more shocking than Pearl Harbor, the plane carrying John F.
Kennedy, Jr. his wife, and his sister-in-law crashed at sea off
the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. To fill the startling void in news
coverage of this important anniversary, we decided to catch up with
some people who are commemorating the event.

We
found Ms. Margaret Snapplewhite of Manhattan emptying hundreds of
flowers from the back of her Ford Explorer onto the front steps
of Kennedy’s former Manhattan residence. She told us her JFK, Jr.,
tale: "I was waiting in line for coffee in Tribeca one day
when someone ahead of me really let loose. I looked up and it was
John-John, grinning sheepishly. It was as if he was just a human
being." She suddenly looked nonplussed. "Look, I don’t
mean to imply that he was just a human being or anything.
Just that he seemed like one at that moment."

At
a news conference in Washington, Vice President Al Gore told reporters,
"I was a true father figure to John-John. I was going to ask
him to be my running mate this year. I still may." An aide
tugged at Gore’s elbow, and whispered into his ear. Gore looked
back to the press and said, "Forget that part about ‘Still
may.’"

Ted
Kennedy, rebuffed by his family in his efforts to permit media coverage
of last year’s private memorial service, has told reporters that
he is arranging a "JFK, Jr., Ashes World Tour 2000" in
order to "allow the American people finally to achieve closure
on this tragedy."

In
conjunction with the anniversary, the Walt Disney Company presented
plans for a JFK, Jr., Ride at Disney World. "The ride starts
out smoothly enough, but the plunge at the end is a doozy,"
said CEO Michael Eisner.

Due
to his long friendship with the Kennedy family, Stu’s uncle and
Capitol Hill barber to the stars, Mort Morgenstern, garnered an
invitation to a private family memorial on the anniversary. "I
thought about scalping it," he told us. "Could of got
about $1500 for that little invite. But nah, how many Kennedy memorials
am I going to get a chance to go to in my life?" Mort looked
thoughtful for a moment. "Hmmm, I guess quite a few."

"Anyway,
I sneaked a tape recorder in. Let me play you a little of Don McLean’s
tribute to John-John."

"Don
McLean, the guy who wrote ‘American
Pie
‘?"

"The
very one. In fact, that’s the tune he updated for the tribute."

We listened with bated breath as McLean’s words reverberated from
Mort’s tape deck and across the bow strings of all our hearts:

A
long, long time ago
I can still remember
His bar exams used to make me smile
But I knew if he had a chance
He’d be more than a hunk in tight pants
Or cover boy for this issue of Style

John-John’s
looks made us quiver
So much prettier than Uncle Ted s liver
The bad news was on Today
He’ll never see Y2K

And
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his mangled bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day that Junior died

Bye,
bye, you hunk of a guy
Flew your Piper to the Vineyard
It fell out of the sky
Left Uncle Ted drinking whiskey and rye
Singing, "So much for my pledge to stay dry
"So much for my pledge to stay dry."

You
had to get to that wedding place
Did you think were a flying ace?
Just wait ’til tomorrow and try again

So
come on
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Please pull back on that throttle stick
Cause if you go, the coverage will never end

And
as I watched it on TV
I started cursing NBC
No anchor born in hell
Could torment us all so well

And
as search planes climbed high into the night
The anchors gave us no respite
On every network in our sight,
The day that Junior died

We
were singing…

Bye,
bye, you hunk of a guy
Flew your Piper to the Vineyard
It fell out of the sky
Left Uncle Ted drinking whiskey and rye
Singing, "So much for my pledge to stay dry
"So much for my pledge to stay dry."

July
17, 2000

2000, Stu Morgenstern
and Gene Callahan

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