On the upcoming 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, there has been renewed interest in the life and death of the President, such as the DMA’s thoughtful exhibition Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, currently on view. Of course, conspiracy theorists popped up from the moment of the assassination and have never taken a break, producing numerous books and films, and endless theories. The fine-tooth-comb variety has asked this question for years: Who is Nick Beef?
“Nick Beef” is the name on the gravestone next to that of Lee Harvey Oswald in the Shannon Rose Hill Cemetery in Fort Worth. It turns out that Beef, whose given name is Patric Abedin, is alive and well and has finally decided to clear things up, speaking to the New York Times.
As a six-year-old, the future Mr. Beef was one of many in the crowd who met President and Mrs. Kennedy at Fort Worth’s former Carswell Air Force Base on Nov. 21, 1963. He and his mother used to stop at Oswald’s grave often in the late sixties and she would tell him “Never forget that you got to see Kennedy the night before he died.” When he was 18, he read an article about how no one had ever bought the cemetery plots near the one with the simple plaque “OSWALD” and he felt compelled to purchase the space right next to it. Why? “It meant something to me in life,” is the only answer he can come up with. When he returned to Texas in late 1996 to take care of his mother’s funeral arrangements, he decided to finally purchase a plaque for his space with the name Nick Beef, a name he had been sometimes using for years.
Beef, now 56, is a self-proclaimed “nonperforming performance artist” and a writer (his work has appeared in National Lampoon and Cracked, among other publications). On his website, he includes a series of what he calls “Die-Kus,” based on the popular 5-7-5 syllable haiku poetry structure. Beef uses photos of headstones to create his poems. An example is included below: