***EXCLUSIVE TO THE OLD YORKER. MUST CREDIT THE OLD YORKER IN ALL MEDIA***
The Old Yorker recently sat down with Owen “Ken” Kennedy, the last surviving brother of the storied clan, to talk about legacy, Camelot, grace, and what it was like to be part of the American Century’s greatest political dynasty. Despite being overshadowed by brothers older, bolder, slimmer and more energetic, powerful, charismatic and libidinous, Ken has spent a life quite literally at the center of Camelot, as a member of an Arthurian reenactment troupe.
TOY: The rest of your family is so prominent, why have you been so under the radar?
KK: Ah, I was ah, plumper and, ah, shorter, and hence less possibly suited for public life in the conventional sense and also I had less aptitude for looking at the world and seeing things that never were and saying “why not” than, say, Bobby, who was, ah, very good at that.
TOY: You’ve devoted a significant portion of your life to rendering a replica of the city of Boston, entirely in chocolate. Why?
KK: All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Boston and to my mind, love confections.
TOY: How important has faith been in your life?
KK: Look, let me make this rather, ah, simple. I am not a Catholic Reenactment King Arthur, I am a member of the Democratic party who is a Reenactment King Arthur who happens to be Catholic.
TOY:What is your most distinctive characteristic?
KK: A craving to be loved, or, to be more precise, to be caressed and spoiled rather than to be admired. Or, uh, to be rolled in marzipan dough, oiled and sprinkled with confectionary suger and tickled by my grammy. It was said by some that this was done to me too often as a child and that my brothers were aghast and repulsed as they stood, glistening in their sweatshirts slowly lateralling a football between them but I couldn’t…can’t get enough of it.
TOY:What’s quality you most like in a man?
KK: Feminine charm. (Chuckles. Then, serious) High, wide hips and the ability to promise and deliver on sending a man to the moon within ten years time!
TOY: The quality you most like in a woman?
KK: I just don’t want to be pushed in the pool by them. I grew up with a bunch of lantern-jawed sisters and sisters-in-law who thought it was sporting to push a chubby youngster in a pool and then throw a cocktail glass at him. I also don’t appreciate women who will swaddle a boy of more than ten years; in a gingham tablecloth diaper and call all the servants over to laugh and look at the worlds largest baby…Ethel!
TOY: What do you most value in your friends?
KK: Look, I want to let every one of my supposed “friends” know, whether he wishes me well or ill, that I shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, and oppose any foe to assure that I’m not treated like a some kind of town pump!
TOY:What is your principal defect?
KK I was born in this century, tempered by war, and disciplined by a hard and bitter peace. But the worst thing that happened was my hair was cut like the actress Louise Brooks in sort of a flapper style and I was made to hand out cigars in the Merchandise Mart for father’s amusement. That was many years ago now.
TOY: What is your favorite occupation?
KK:To repair the roof when the sun is shining if you know what I mean…you don’t? Could I have five dollars for a bullshot?
TOY: What is your dream of happiness?
KK: To be thirty-five again, having just gotten my drivers’ license and with an associate’s degree under my belt and an opportunity to… (Grabs his sides and weeps)
(Five minutes later) TOY: In what country would you like to live?
KK: In a country of freedom and dignity where one can fly and be invisible.
TOY: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
KK: Any hero from any work of fiction who honors legacy, family, has grace, and is a pig lost in a city.
TOY:What is it you most dislike?
KK: People who believe that just because you are rich and from a famous, storied family with a hammerlock on flattering coverage in the newspapers and a generous dispensation of well, grace, that you’ve somehow started life in a position of advantage.
TOY: What event in military history do you most admire?
KK: My own merit badges in the cub scouts which were earned with little influence by father who famously said “I don’t want to pay for one single badge more than you need because I’m not paying for a landslide…of badges… (Fake laughter and then a coughing fit)
TOY:Um. Okay, what is your motto?
KK: Let us never negotiate out of fear but let us never fear to negotiate… for anything, I mean, everything is negotiable, health care for all Americans, a living wage, parking tickets, the cable bill, footrubs, dessert portions, a tip when you’ve done something special for a relative who has more money than you…
List continues – Recorder off