The Run of His Life

Well, I’m surprised that it took seven months, but once again I find myself nearly incapacitated (as in, practically on the floor and crying in pain) by a headache.  This was the worst attack since the event in December, the one where I thought I was having a stroke while on at Cost’s World Market.  Wasn’t pretty then, and it sure ain’t pretty now.  At least this time I had the decency to get sick at home.  I’m sure the folks at World Market appreciate my consideration.

One of the things that will never cease to amaze me about physicians is that for all of their puffery, they don’t know jack about the human body.  How else would you explain that – for these headaches – I’ve been given four (count ’em – FOUR) different possible causes?  The good part is that I’m feeling better for the first time in four days.  I can hold my head up, at least, so that’s something.

But I digress . . .

While I was – shall we say, ‘indisposed?’ – I managed to finish yet another book – the fourth since the middle of May; I’m rocking!   Unlike the others (which were impulse reads), however, this was one that I’d been putting off for a long time.  It’d probably still be on my wish list if it hadn’t been for Netflix.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to sit through all ten hours of “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”  I’d recorded it when it originally aired on FX, but space considerations on the DVR, along with my own reluctance to sit in front of the television for half a day led to the show being deleted.  I regretted that move, but not enough to shell out $30 for the Blu-Ray version at a local store.  It was Netflix to the rescue, and although it took me nearly two weeks to watch it (what? I’m a slow watcher), I did manage to finish the retelling of the last major Crime of the Century.

And you know what?  I loved it.

Bear in mind that I’ve always had an eye on the law, and legal history in particular.  Yet when Simpson’s trial was a current event, and you couldn’t go two feet in any direction without someone throwing their opinions on race, justice, and O.J. in your face, I avoided it.  Not because I felt any conflict over his guilt, but because I’d worked as a legal assistant and had had my fill of courtroom drama.  That’s right – during the biggest legal event in ages, I decided to take a mental time-out.  I avoided the discussions at work, and I pretty much ignored the television coverage.  I remember two distinct discussions about O.J. at the time – one involved a co-worker demanding that I tell her my views on Simpson’s guilt (I wouldn’t; they were none of her business), and another co-worker who demanded that I agree with her that only women were victimized by spousal abuse (and I wouldn’t do that, either).  I listened, I smiled, I scowled, and I laughed.  But I had no real viewpoint on the trial because I was probably the only person in America who wasn’t paying attention.

Cool Dr. Furious Fact:  

You know how people say that they can remember exactly where they were when they’d heard that President Kennedy had been shot?  Or where they were when they’d learned about the attacks on the World Trade Center?

Well, my brother, who lived in Texas at the time, was coming to the Upper Midwest for a visit, but the closest airport for his arrival (read: the cheapest ticket he could find) had him landing at O’Hare International in Chicago.  That was a hefty trek for me and I’d have preferred he come to a more accessible airport, but he is my younger bro, and I’d kind of wanted to get to the Chicago area again, since it’d been so long.  So, I picked him up.  It was June 13, 1994.  I will never forget what I said to him as we were walking back through the tunnels to my car:

You know, if you’d come in last night, we’d have gotten a chance to see OJ Simpson, since he’d come through here last evening.  By the way, did you hear that his ex-wife was killed last night?

Anyway, I knew that the miniseries was not the whole story.  There were things that were clearly truncated or reworked, so I thought it best that I go to the source, and that took me to Jeffrey Toobin’s book, The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson.

While I loved the miniseries, I don’t know what I feel about the book.  It was one of the first full trial narratives to hit the bookstores (in 1996), and for a while, it was the most authoritative.  I couldn’t wait to read it, but it was pretty far down my list – until the miniseries, of course.

In short, I liked the book, but it’s not one that I’d necessarily pick up and re-read.  It’s clear that he doesn’t like Simpson, a man that he repeatedly dismisses as narcissistic, and Toobin has no problem in telling you (several times, in fact) that he believes Simpson is guilty.  Frankly, I could have done with less editorializing, especially when he deals with the make up of the jury and the issue of race, but that’s me.  There’s also a thin (maybe not-so-thin) layer of contempt for virtually all of the attorneys involved.  About half way through the book, it’s as if Toobin – in his disgust over how Simpson’s defense team strategized – forgot that this is what a defense team does.

To be fair, Toobin notes that there were mistakes made – a lot of them – by everyone involved.  If I had to point to one thing that stood out for me, however, it was the degree of sensitivity everyone had towards the ever-watching eye of the media.  I mean, I know that both sides of a case are media conscious, but I didn’t realize to what extent that this awareness had controlled the case – from the start to its finish.  Literally from the moment that the police are called in, the media is an unofficial partner.  Everyone wanted to have their profile in the shot, as it were, and the trial became a circus.

I’m glad that I read The Run of His Life, and while I’ve managed to reconcile some of the miniseries shortcuts with Toobin’s account, I find myself wanting to follow up with other interpretations of the trial and its aftermath.

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