The title song from their very first album, back when Brian Mulroney was Prime Minister, and I had yet to go to law school. Outskirts is a chronicle of the Kennedy Curse, as manifested in the life and torment of David Kennedy, son of Bobby. What must it be like to be the son of a famous assassinated father, living in the public eye, weighed down by expectations to pick up the torch, heartbroken and harried? Where are you going to hide when everybody knows your name? How can you suppress the memory of that picture we’ve all seen, taken in the L.A. Ambassador Hotel, his father shot and already dead, with a busboy kneeling down beside him; how do you stop projecting that over and over in your head? “On to Chicago” said Bobby to his supporters, having just won the California primary, and looking forward to being nominated as the Democratic candidate for President at the upcoming convention. The last words any of us heard from him.
Bobby Kennedy was maybe the last hope for a whole generation that wanted to believe that the political process might yet provide answers, and positive change. And everybody knows California wasn’t going to be the end.
We got Nixon instead.
Bobby’s body was taken home from California, across the continent, by rail in June 1968. All along the tracks, whenever any sort of station was passed, people stood to watch the train go by and pay their respects. Mile after mile, station after station, there they were, some saluting, some standing at attention, some with signs, people of all ages, many of them children, as parents assembled their families to attend and bear witness. That day, no matter what your politics were, you stood in silence and paid your respects.
Son David was 13 years old when his father was shot. Sixteen years later, having developed the almost inevitable substance abuse problems, he died of a heroin overdose in his room at the Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Springs.