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What Does NICK BEEF Have To Do With Lee Harvey Oswald?

August 11, 2013

Hat Tip To Rick.

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This is just super interesting.

Mr. Beef, 56, is a writer and “nonperforming performance artist” with a penchant for the morbid, he says, who has never done stand-up comedy — an important point. He says that Nick Beef is a long-held persona; his given name is Patric Abedin. Here is his story.

On Nov. 21, 1963, President Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, landed at the former Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth as part of a two-day Texas tour. Among the many gathered for the arrival — some holding “Welcome to Texas, Jack and Jackie” signs — was young Patric, the 6-year-old asthmatic son of an Air Force navigator. Having gotten lost in the crowd, the boy was sitting on the shoulders of a military police officer when the first couple passed by just a few feet away.

The future Mr. Beef was Mr. Popular the next morning at Waverly Park Elementary School, as he regaled his first-grade classmates with his presidential story. They soon went outside for recess, while his asthma kept him indoors. He was alone, then, when the principal announced over the loudspeaker that the president had been shot; alone, too, when the principal followed up to say that the president was dead.

As his class returned from recess, he told his teacher what he had heard. At first she suspected that he was vying for more attention. But soon, as everyone of a certain age remembers, classes were abruptly dismissed amid the weeping of teachers.

A young boy’s life continued. His father took him to the World’s Fair in New York. His older brother broke his jaw during some horseplay. His parents divorced. At the age of 10, he survived a car crash that killed a 9-year-old friend.

The lesson he was learning: “Things change really quickly.”

By the late 1960s, he was living with his remarried mother in Arlington, Tex. Every week they would drive to the Carswell base for his free asthma shot, then occasionally stop at the eclectic cemetery called Rose Hill on their way home. “She’d get out and look at Oswald’s grave,” he recalls, “and tell me, ‘Never forget that you got to see Kennedy the night before he died.’ ”

The years passed. When he was 18, he read a newspaper article’s passing mention that the grave beside Oswald’s had never been purchased. He went to Rose Hill, where a caretaker in a glorified garden shed thumbed through some cards and said, “Yep, that’s available.”

The young man put $17.50 down, and promised to make 16 monthly payments of $10.

Mr. Beef has often asked himself why. “It meant something to me in life,” is the only answer he can come up with. “It was a place I could go and feel comfortable.”

Around the same time, he and a friend were trying to make each other laugh while driving to Dallas from Lubbock. Stopping at a bar and grill, his friend decided to become Hash Brown; he declared himself Nick Beef. A joke.

As for his unmarked burial plot back in Rose Hill, he says: “I just sat on it. Not literally.”

Life followed its unpredictable course. He worked for a local television station, moved to New York, got involved with a sketch-comedy troupe called the Other Leading Brand. He did some freelance humor writing, sometimes using the byline of Nick Beef. He married, had two children, and amicably divorced. Somewhere in there, Oswald’s body was exhumed to address speculation that the buried remains were actually those of a Russian agent; they were not.

In late 1996, Mr. Beef’s mother died, and he returned to Texas to follow the detailed instructions she had left for her own funeral. During his stay, he visited his real estate in Rose Hill and decided, on the spot, to buy a gravestone the exact dimensions as Oswald’s. When the cemetery official asked what he wanted on it, he thought about protecting his two children.

Well, here we go,” he recalls thinking.

Upon hearing the name, the official put down his pen. But he picked it up again when the customer pulled out a credit card in the name of Nick Beef.

 

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