Eden Ahbez, Jack Parsons, and other LA kooks...

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Has there been a thread about pre-hippy Southern California kooks? Tell me more.

andy --, Monday, 24 October 2005 17:58 (fifteen years ago) link

Elvis Telecom to thread immediately!

Ned Raggett (Ned), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:00 (fifteen years ago) link

Kenneth Anger, obv.

Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:03 (fifteen years ago) link

Lord Buckley

walter kranz (walterkranz), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:09 (fifteen years ago) link

Someone needs to write a song caled "L. Ron Hubbard Stole My Girlfriend"

latebloomer (latebloomer), Monday, 24 October 2005 18:16 (fifteen years ago) link

"For Heinlein, personal liberation included sexual liberation, and free love was a major subject of his writing starting from the 1939 For Us, The Living. Beyond This Horizon (1942) cleverly subverts traditional gender roles in a scene in which the protagonist demonstrates his archaic gunpowder gun for his friend and discusses how useful it would be in dueling --- after which the discussion turns to the shade of his nail polish. '—All You Zombies—' (1959) is the story of a person who undergoes a sex change operation, goes back in time, has sex with herself, and gives birth to herself..."

andy --, Monday, 24 October 2005 18:17 (fifteen years ago) link

Elvis Telecom to thread immediately!

Good grief! Where to start?

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Monday, 24 October 2005 22:38 (fifteen years ago) link

I'll try to limit these to people who set up shop in LA/South Cal. and left their finger/tentacleprints on the landscape as opposed to folks who just passed through. Either way, the first person to start with is...


Aimee Semple McPherson. One time atheist-turned-Pentacostal who put together the basic blueprint of modern media-savvy evangelism.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Monday, 24 October 2005 22:49 (fifteen years ago) link

what's with the fireman's hat?

Shakey Mo Collier (Shakey Mo Collier), Monday, 24 October 2005 22:54 (fifteen years ago) link


Manly Hall. One of the later Theosophists and general know-it-all about occult mysticism and Masonic influence on history. He founds the Philosophical Research Society in Los Feliz whose library is the closest reality equivalent to the holdings of Miskontonic U.'s Department of Medieval Metaphysics. Like all ultra-successful conspiratorial wack-jobs, knowledge of Hidden Truths leads to complacency so instead of teaching Evil Genius Fundamentals their course catalog looks more like the b-pages of The Learning Annex.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Monday, 24 October 2005 23:02 (fifteen years ago) link

what's with the fireman's hat?

LAFD made McPherson an honorary batallion chief. Also, it's a great picture.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Monday, 24 October 2005 23:04 (fifteen years ago) link


Eden Ahbez Early proto-hippie who lived underneath the Hollywood Sign in the 40s and wrote the song "Nature Boy" who was covered by everyone. Expounded often about being naturally sane in an technically insane world, however technology wins when Ahbez is fatally TKO'ed by a passing car.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Monday, 24 October 2005 23:18 (fifteen years ago) link


Edwin Dingle. English journalist with a China fixation arrives in Tibet and goes native. After Enlightenment, "Ding Le Mei" arrives in LA in the 1920s and establishes the "Institute Of Mentalphysics." Teaching the "Super Yoga of the Western World" proves profitable as Dingle gets Frank Lloyd Wright to design his house and institute out by Joshua Tree.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Monday, 24 October 2005 23:30 (fifteen years ago) link

Ding Le Berry?

katrina vanden roffle (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 24 October 2005 23:34 (fifteen years ago) link


Jack Parsons Current It guy who has more connections than a switchboard. Co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Lab, key person in the US rocket program in the 1940s, roommate of L. Ron Hubbard, and personally chosen representative of Aleister Crowley to lead the California OTO. Interesting guy... I recommend this book


Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Monday, 24 October 2005 23:44 (fifteen years ago) link

eleven months pass...
The Stars Are Right so it's time to revive!

Mainly because of the publication of The Visionary State which documents everyone that found California to be their nexus for some sort of transcendental exploration. Great book - CLUI meets metaphysics.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Sunday, 1 October 2006 02:36 (fourteen years ago) link

i bought that nature boy sheet music above for a dollar at the thrift store recently. i'm thinking of having it framed.

scott seward (scott seward), Sunday, 1 October 2006 02:44 (fourteen years ago) link

Korla Pandit, subject of a chapter in RJ Smith's "The Great Black Way." A black man, he posed as a "spiritual" Indian organist and was a staple on early L.A. TV.

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Sunday, 1 October 2006 02:45 (fourteen years ago) link

don't forget simon rodia:


scott seward (scott seward), Sunday, 1 October 2006 02:47 (fourteen years ago) link

Don't forget Pandit's appearance in Ed Wood

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Sunday, 1 October 2006 03:37 (fourteen years ago) link

Ohhh yeeah. [/beavis]

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Sunday, 1 October 2006 06:23 (fourteen years ago) link

I was gonna say! Best cameo ever -- first time I saw the film and there he was, my jaw dropped.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 1 October 2006 06:30 (fourteen years ago) link

two years pass...

The Neal Hefti thread got me wondering if I had included Synanon in the LA kook thread. Apparently not!


Synanon. Early drug rehab organization that soon devolved into an aggressive hippie cult of by the 1970s. Kinda noteworthy for attacking critics with live rattlesnakes. Philip K. Dick apparently modeled A Scanner Darkly's New-Path drug group on Synanon. Time magazine in 1977 says...

A once respected drug program turns into a kooky cult

In a cavernous California mountain lodge, some 40 smiling people, their shiny, shaved heads reflecting the dancing flames of a roaring fire, oohed, ahed and applauded. A lawyer had just pledged to file ten divorces for the ten highest bidders at a fund-raising auction on New Year's Eve. At a wooden table a grizzled, gruff man who wears a cap emblazoned with the message I'M THE MEANEST S.O.B. IN THE VALLEY nodded his approval. Charles (Chuck) Dederich, 64, was adding another ritual to his famed commune Synanon: wife swapping.

That is quite a reach for a 19-year-old organization that was once widely admired and imitated as a seemingly successful program for rehabilitating alcoholics and drug addicts. Dederich established a nononsense, self-help program that included the "game," a rugged encounter session in which participants acted out their inmost hostilities. Learning the truth about themselves supposedly helped them stay off drugs or booze. But in recent years, Dederich has had more grandiose ambitions and transformed Synanon into a religious cult with himself as high priest and prophet. It now attracts fewer addicts and more middle-class eccentrics in search of new adventures in living.

Since its shoestring beginning in an Ocean Park, Calif., garage, Synanon has done very well by itself. The taxexempt, nonprofit organization has 883 adults and 300 children living in luxury on two ranches in the Sierra foothills, beach-front property in Santa Monica and Tomales Bay and in a converted San Francisco paint factory. Most members pay a minimum $400 a month for room, board and uplift, but some contribute much more. One woman has donated more than $1 million. Synanon's assets, including ten aircraft and 400 cars, trucks and motorcycles, total almost $30 million. Its advertising and specialty-gifts business netted $2.4 million last year; donations and other income amounted to another $5.5 million. Dederich draws an annual salary of $100,000 and pays his top corporate officers from $30,000 to $50,000. "A lot of guys could do this thing from an old Ford roadster and sit on an orange crate," he says, while munching on powdered lettuce from a silver bowl. "They're holy men; I'm not. I need a $17,000 Cadillac. We are in the people business just exactly as if we were building Chevrolet axles."

Indeed, the people at Synanon are treated much as if they were interchangeable automobile parts, and Dederich is certainly in the driver's seat. He makes the rules as he goes along, and the members never know what is coming next. "Chuck is marvelous," says Terri Haberman, 30, who has lived at Synanon for nine years. "He has this amazing quality of being able to articulate what we want to do before we even know what it is we want."

In 1970 Dederich decided that because he was giving up smoking, everybody else would too. In 1975 the women at Synanon began shaving their heads. Any that refused were ostracized. When Dederich's wife Betty went on a diet in 1976, all the other members had to cut down on the vittles. That same year Dederich concluded that Synanon had too many kids. So all the men were pressured into having vasectomies, except Dederich. "I am not bound by the rules," he says. "I make them."

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Wednesday, 15 October 2008 05:26 (twelve years ago) link

I love this thread.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 05:35 (twelve years ago) link

AWESOME thread, i'm gonna check out the visionary state asap. x-post

Matt P, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 05:40 (twelve years ago) link

Eden Ahbez only wrote the lyrics for Nature Boy. The tune's an old Yiddish folksong. Nothing else he did was very good, that I could dig up.

B'wana Beast, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 05:46 (twelve years ago) link

I'm gonna check out the visionary state asap

Terrific book. I generally keep an eye out for any of Erik Davis' writings. I liked his 33 1/3 book on Led Zeppelin IV quite a bit and his stuff in Arthur is always worth reading.

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Wednesday, 15 October 2008 05:50 (twelve years ago) link

I think Aleister Crowley swung through L.A. in the twenties... and even HE thought everybody there was nuts.

B'wana Beast, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 09:07 (twelve years ago) link

I think Aleister Crowley swung through L.A. in the twenties... and even HE thought everybody there was nuts.

See the Jack Parsons entry above. Crowley picked Parsons to lead the OTO lodge in LA.

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Wednesday, 15 October 2008 15:26 (twelve years ago) link

altman got almost all the background people in california split from synanon

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Wednesday, 15 October 2008 15:43 (twelve years ago) link

three months pass...


Technocracy, Incorporated. (initially founded in New York, but quickly moved to California where they had half a million members in the 1930s. Up until a mid-90s, surviving Technocrats were still meeting in Long Beach)

Several loose groups of concerned scientists and engineers confronted the post-WWI/Great Depression era head on and concluded that social, economic and governmental structures could not adapt quickly and efficiently enough to adequately manage the world. Solution:
1. Chuck capitalism and socialism into the trash along with money and the entire market system.
2. Build an automated centralized system based on the exchange of energy rather than money. Put all the scientists and engineers in charge.
3. No more poverty, fuel shortages, pollution, 40 hour work weeks, politicians, price system
4. Kick back with a beer and enjoy the New Frontier.

Near-infinite abundance sounded good, but people got kinda weirded out by Technocracy's fleet of all-gray cars, their gray suit uniforms, and their insistence of addressing themselves by numbers instead of names. (A speaker at a California rally was introduced as 1×1809x56). Similarities to totalitarian fascism were not unnoticed.

Conspiracy alert: M. King Hubbert of the infamous Hubbert's Peak Oil theory was an early Technocracy, Inc. mover and shaker.

They're still around too! There's a ton of archive material at: http://www.technocracy.org/

Apparently they're still into having a North American "Technate" state and have gone so far to make up their own ID cards

More info here:
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,744852-1,00.html (1932 Time Magazine article)

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Saturday, 14 February 2009 02:31 (twelve years ago) link

three weeks pass...

Heads up to everyone in LA who's into this. LA Conservancy is running a tour

Self-Driving Tour
Saturday, March 14, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
$30 ($25 L.A. Conservancy members, $10 children 12 and under)

A truly unique event! Discover five historic sites related to spiritual organizations that took root in Los Angeles in the early part of the twentieth century.

Los Angeles is home to a number of religious sites and organizations, many of which are deeply woven into the city’s history. “City of the Seekers” will celebrate this unique identity and the architecture that embodies it.

This special one-time-only tour offers a rare chance to explore historic religious sites not typically open to the general public. Here's a preview of tour locations; check back for updates.

Angelus Temple (1923) in Echo Park

One of the most recognizable religious sites in Los Angeles is the distinctive Angelus Temple, home of Aimee Semple McPherson's Foursquare Gospel church. Sister Aimee was a major force in the spiritual life of the city with her charismatic personality serving as a beacon for her ministry. This remarkable building is one of only seven sites in Los Angeles designated as a National Historic Landmark, the highest form of historic designation in the U.S.

Self-Realization Fellowship Mother Center in the former Mount Washington Hotel (1909)

The Self-Realization Fellowship Mother Center is located in the former Mount Washington Hotel, on the crest of Mount Washington. The Self-Realization Fellowship has used the Mission Revival-inspired building as its headquarters since 1925. For nearly thirty years, Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship and widely considered the father of Yoga in the west, led daily prayer and meditation sessions in the gardens surrounding the hotel and held lectures, seminars, and writing sessions in the main building. The site still serves as the Fellowship's international headquarters.

Chapel of the Jesus Ethic (1966) in Glendale

The Chapel of the Jesus Ethic is a modern gem located on the Glendale campus of the Foundation of Niscience (which means "knowing"). Co-founded in 1953 by Ann Ree Colton and Jonathan Murro, Niscience teachings blend religion, philosophy, science, and the creative arts to inspire its members to live creative and spiritual lives. Considered a prophet to her followers, Colton authored more than seventeen books in her lifetime outlining her unique brand of spiritual philosophy.

Philosophical Research Society (1936) in Los Feliz

The Philosophical Research Society (PRS) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1934 by Manly P. Hall "for the purpose of providing thoughtful persons rare access to the depth and breadth of the world’s wisdom literature." The Mayan Revival complex, designed by architect Robert Stacy Judd, houses a large library of wisdom literature from ancient traditions, as well as an auditorium and teaching spaces. PRS is also home to a university that continues Hall's quest of universal exploration and learning.

Bonnie Brae House (1896) in Historic Filipinotown

The modest facade of this 112-year-old building belies its great significance as the birthplace of the modern Pentecostal movement in North America. In 1906, an African American minister from the south named William J. Seymour came to Los Angeles to preach. Seymour stayed as a guest in a humble vernacular cottage on Bonnie Brae Street. It was here that he experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that led to the Azusa Street Revival and the birth of the modern Pentecostal movement in the twentieth century.


Within Heaven's Earshot: Religious Album Covers
Opening: Friday, March 13, 7-10 p.m.
Synchronicity Gallery, 4306 Melrose Ave.
This unique exhibit runs through Easter Sunday, April 12; special events will take place at the gallery through the run of the show. For details and updates, visit http://www.syncspacela.com/.

Visionary State: California’s Spiritual Legacy
Sunday, March 15, 2 p.m.
Philosophical Research Society, Los Feliz
Join us for a talk by Erik Davis, author of The Visionary State: A Journey Through California’s Spiritual Landscape. Tickets are $5 and available for purchase at the door. Visit http://www.prs.org/ for directions and more information.

Mystic Los Angeles
Tuesday, March 17, 7:30 and 10 p.m.
Silent Movie Theater
Join Process Books as Erik Davis and Jodi Wille co-host an evening full of rare, unusual, and never-before-seen short films and video that explore the magical, mystical side of our city. Tickets are $14 and available for purchase at the door and at http://www.silentmovietheatre.com/.

Chris Barrus (Elvis Telecom), Sunday, 8 March 2009 09:32 (twelve years ago) link

four months pass...


Divine Order of the Royal Arms of the Great Eleven (a.k.a. The Eleven Club or more commonly known: The Blackburn Cult). Forty years before Charlie Manson, the Santa Susanna Mountains were home base to the Great Eleven cult. Taking their name from 11:3 in Revelation "And I will grant my two witnesses power to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days," the cult was really just May Otis Blackburn and her "girl of many loves" (according to the press) daughter, Ruth Rizzio. Ruth had a small grifting business going for herself when in 1922 her mother was charged by the archangel Gabriel to reveal the mysteries of heaven and earth. Faster than you can solve the equation SEX + RELIGION = COLD CASH, mom and daughter had relocated from Bunker Hill up to 164 acres of donated Santa Susannas and set themselves up with a steady income from believers and a supply of animals to periodically sacrifice. Copy-pasting from the links:

The "two" whose prophetic activities the cult believed were foretold in the verse were a mother and daughter who used sex, religion, greed and animal sacrifices to separate believers from their money. Most of this occurred while the cultists were awaiting the return of the Messiah--an event they believed would coincide with the "resurrection" of a dead 16-year-old "priestess," whose body they kept on ice in a bathtub. Occasionally, the dead "priestess" was taken off the ice for a spin around Los Angeles in the back seat of a touring car.

The alleged angels allegedly told the alleged prophets to close their doors on the world for more than three years and to write a book about the "sixth sense" called the "Great Sixth Seal," explaining the mysteries of life and health, heaven and earth. The angels also promised to reveal the "lost measurements" that would lead them to all the hidden gold and oil deposits in the world.

Upon hearing this revelation, Clifford Dabney, the nephew of local oil magnate Joseph Dabney, joined the cult and offered Blackburn $40,000 in cash and property, including 164 rolling acres that sprawled across a canyon in the community of Santa Susana Knolls in Simi Valley.

All she had to do was share the "lost measurements."

It was in the canyon that the cult built a dozen cabins and a temple filled with furniture, including a massive gilded wood throne weighing 800 pounds, sitting upon four hand-carved paws and adorned with a lion's head. The temple was sealed off, waiting for Christ's return.

Cult members were said to gather there at night in the woods, as high priestesses in long robes sacrificed mules in a ceremony called the “Jaws of Death.” Following these rites, the cultists danced about in the nude around ceremonial bonfires. On this same site, the leader of the Great Eleven Club, Mrs. May Otis Blackburn, later baked a disciple in a brick oven to cure a “blood malady.” Two days later, the disciple predictably died. Soon after, the Great Eleven Club became the subject of a police investigation when it was discovered that four other members had mysteriously disappeared. One of the more gruesome discoveries was the corpse of a 16-year old girl, Willa Rhoads, who was stored in a pickled state for three years while the cult awaited her resurrection. Rhoads’ body was later exhumed from a crypt beneath a house in Venice, California. Afterwards, the cult reportedly relocated to the Lake Tahoe area, and was never heard from again.

Selected links:

Elvis Telecom, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 08:42 (twelve years ago) link

On this same site, the leader of the Great Eleven Club, Mrs. May Otis Blackburn, later baked a disciple in a brick oven to cure a “blood malady.” Two days later, the disciple predictably died.


gnarly sceptre, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 11:16 (twelve years ago) link

one month passes...


Borderland Sciences Research Foundation. Golden Dawn/Society Of The Inner Light member Meade Layne founded BSRF in Vista, CA to further investigate the metaphysical aspects of the Swedish "ghost rocket" wave of 1946 and their similarities to some elements of the Shaver Mysteries - a series of stories that (sort of) details the existence of parallel civilization on Earth. Maybe.

Vague as that is, Layne finds himself writing about UFOs just as the 1947 saucer wave crashes which gives him plenty of ears for his weird mix of off-the-shelf occultism, Ascended Masters, flying saucers, Tibetan Brotherhoods, and Little Green Men. Unlike much of the tin can/spaceship UFOs theories of the time, Layne looked at UFOs as an anti-materialistic, paranormal phenomonon. Besides, Layne and his Inner Light friends had been chatting with the Space People since the beginning so they knew They were already on the way.

Layne passes/ascends/whatever in 1961, but Borderland Sciences continues today (they're based in Eureka, CA now) - mostly as a publishing house now. Trevor Constable is probably his closest disciple, but Constable deserves his own entry (plus I'm not sure if he's SoCal based)

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 11 August 2009 22:49 (twelve years ago) link

four months pass...
three weeks pass...

awesome thread

Cunga, Friday, 29 January 2010 23:22 (eleven years ago) link

Any other book recommendations, Elvis Telecom? I'm already looking into the ones mentioned upthread.

Cunga, Friday, 29 January 2010 23:44 (eleven years ago) link

nine months pass...


Marjorie Cameron There's so much WTF in her life that I can't really condense it down so I'll resort to copy/paste

When she was 17, the Great Depression was underway and Cameron moved with her family to Davenport, Iowa, a considerably larger town than Belle Plain. Having trouble adjusting and after the suicide of a close friend, Cameron several times tried unsuccessfully to take her own life using sleeping pills. She claims that these near brushes with death had further enhanced her psychic abilities, reportedly giving her a glimpse into the realm of the dead.

In 1943, in the midst of World War II, the 21 year-old Cameron joined the Navy-turning down several scholarships. She was sent along with 3000 other women to boot camp in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Soon she was selected for a high-level job in Washington, DC, where she applied her artistic skills by drawing maps for the war efforts. She was then sent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff where she once met Winston Churchill. She had a drafting table at the head of their conference room. Later, she felt that many men died in the South Pacific as a result of her drawings, Cameron considered all of her drawings to be magical talismans that had a very real effect on the world, she always felt a karmic connection to these men and believed that later tragic events in her life were the result of her participation in their deaths.

By the late 1950s, Cameron was living in Malibu and hanging out with a crowd of artists that included the likes of Dennis Hopper, Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, and others. Wallace Berman's show at the Ferus Gallery was closed in 1957 after displaying one of Cameron's drawings which depicted a woman, possibly Cameron, being taken from behind by an alien creature.

When rocket propulsion researcher and occultist Jack Parsons met Marjorie Cameron, he regarded her as the fulfilment of magical rituals he had been performing as the beginning of the Babalon Working, roughly, an attempt to incarnate in a physical body a divine entity that would bring about great change for the Aeon of Horus.
Parsons wrote of Cameron in a letter to his mentor Aleister Crowley in 1946:

"The feeling of tension and unease continued for four days. Then on January 18 1946 at sunset, whilst the Scribe and I were on the Mojave Desert, the feeling of tension suddenly stopped. I turned to him and said 'it is done', in absolute certainty that the Operation was accomplished. I returned home, and found a young woman (Marjorie Cameron) answering the requirements waiting for me. She is describable as an air of fire type with bronze red hair, fiery and subtle, determined and obstinate, sincere and perverse, with extraordinary personality, talent and intelligence. During the period of January 19 to February 27 I invoked the Goddess BABALON (a particular aspect of the Egyptian goddess Nuit) with the aid of magical partner (Ron Hubbard), as was proper to one of my grade."

They termed this incarnation the Moonchild. Writes Aleister Crowley on the subject:

"The Aeon of Horus is of the nature of a child. To perceive this, we must conceive of the nature of a child without the veil of sentimentality - beyond good and evil, perfectly gentle, perfectly ruthless, containing all possibilities within the limits of heredity, and highly susceptible to training and environment. But the nature of Horus is also the nature of force - blind, terrible, unlimited force."

The Babalon Working was allegedly successful.

After her husband Jack Parsons' death, she starred in Kenneth Anger's 1965 cult-film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. Both Cameron and Kenneth believed that this film was proof to the world that she had manifested the force of Babalon on Earth. Anger later said of her that "She was doing art for the sake of magick and her soul. She never sold her paintings." Cameron later burned most of her paintings in the late 1950s in a symbolic suicide performed with her second husband Sherif Kimmil after they had been up for several days on speed and had formed what Cameron called a "suicide club". Kimmil slit his wrists in the bathroom at the same time as the burning. Cameron's two brothers, her sister and also her father worked JPL, the company co-founded by her husband, Jack Parsons. She was a protege of mythologist Joseph Campbell.

Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel died of cancer on the 24th of July, 1995

Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet (Elvis Telecom), Tuesday, 16 November 2010 02:02 (ten years ago) link

Any other book recommendations, Elvis Telecom? I'm already looking into the ones mentioned upthread.

Visionary State is still the one to start with, but really you can just pick anything out of the occult section of the Amok Books/Koma Books catalog and keep checking the footnotes/references. I'm just starting in on L.A. Despair: A Landscape of Crimes & Bad Times which is a compendium of bottom-of-barrel true crime sordidness that's catnip for the Ellroy set.

Stockhausen's Helicopter Quartet (Elvis Telecom), Tuesday, 16 November 2010 02:13 (ten years ago) link

When I saw Craig Baldwin introduce Mock Up On Mu, an unfortunately terrible film about Parsons, Cameron, Hubbard et al, he really talked up John Carter's Sex and Rockets.

C0L1N B..., Tuesday, 16 November 2010 02:57 (ten years ago) link

Upon hearing this revelation, Clifford Dabney, the nephew of local oil magnate Joseph Dabney, joined the cult and offered Blackburn $40,000 in cash and property, including 164 rolling acres that sprawled across a canyon in the community of Santa Susana Knolls in Simi Valley.

I wonder if Ross MacDonald was thinking of this with The Moving Target?

boots get knocked from here to czechoslovakier (milo z), Tuesday, 16 November 2010 03:33 (ten years ago) link

two months pass...

There's a book out on Marjorie Cameron now.

Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron

nickn, Wednesday, 9 February 2011 03:23 (ten years ago) link

Oh cool! I had no idea...

Stockhausen's Ekranoplan Quartet (Elvis Telecom), Wednesday, 9 February 2011 03:42 (ten years ago) link

Emperor Norton wuz robbed. Oh wait, this is an LA thread.

The 33 1/3 Policeman (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 15 February 2011 16:22 (ten years ago) link

I was going to say.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 15 February 2011 16:25 (ten years ago) link

three weeks pass...
four months pass...

This book just popped up on my radar...


Seems to be hyper-bullshitic, but this isn't the first time I've heard of high weirdness going on in the early Inland Empire. Only it doesn't just tie in the Zodiac Killer, but throws in Crowley, Harry Houdini and the occult geography that connects them all together.

Podcast interview with the authors here: http://radiomisterioso.com/2011/08/01/walter-bosley-and-richard-spence-occult-murder-from-1915/ (follow iTunes link on the right)

Stockhausen's Ekranoplan Quartet (Elvis Telecom), Tuesday, 2 August 2011 22:18 (ten years ago) link

slept-on post by jaxon above!

puerile fantasies (Matt P), Tuesday, 2 August 2011 22:23 (ten years ago) link

two months pass...


Krotona (a.k.a. Krotona Institute Of Theosophy) Founded in 1919, Krotona was envisioned as a utopian Theosophist colony, a "modern Athens" where residents would "suffer neither fog nor dust nor frost." When it was finally completed in Beachwood Canyon, the colony was an oddball architectural mashup best described as Walt Disney Moorish complete with onion domes, keyhole windows, and Rosicrucian carvings everywhere. Most of the colony was funded by a Hawaiian sugar cane heiress and during it's heyday from 1919 to 1924, attracted assorted mystics, New Atlantis searchers, requisite celebrities (Mary Astor and Charlie Chaplin were active there), and anyone questing for the California Dream.

LA's growth eventually suburbanized the Hollywood Hills and in the late 1920s Krotona split for Ojai where it remains. Parts of the Krotona complex remain today and like a lot of buildings from that era - it's been subdivided into apartments. One of Krotona's lodges is still used for theosophist lectures.

Stockhausen's Ekranoplan Quartet (Elvis Telecom), Monday, 24 October 2011 22:05 (nine years ago) link

This is a lead review from NYTimes Book Review eweekly, with lots of room, well-used.

dow, Saturday, 20 February 2016 00:16 (five years ago) link

eight months pass...

Posted here not at all for lols, more like "ohhhhh shitttt", also hoping this isn't going to turn into the Scientology Salvation From "Psychiatry" bit, if this is the Kubrick daughter who made a reputedly worthy doc about her dad but then seemingly disappeared into the Church:

dow, Saturday, 19 November 2016 23:42 (four years ago) link

erp, just this:
The location listed on Vivian Kubrick’s Go Fund Me page for Duvall is Clearwater, FL. Neither Kubrick nor Duvall lives in Clearwater; it is, however, the location of The Church of Scientology’s business operations.


dow, Saturday, 19 November 2016 23:52 (four years ago) link

nine months pass...

Curbed's list of So Cal communes through the ages.


nickn, Tuesday, 12 September 2017 03:45 (four years ago) link

one month passes...

i just finished "Strange Angel: The Otherwordly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons". it was pretty amazing. it's kind of weird how the rocket revolution happened, feels a lot similar to the Silicon Valley story: eccentric engineers taking drugs and making future tech in the desert of California.

there really are two stories here: 1) the evolution of Rocket Science from ridicule-worthy impossibility to world-changing reality and 2) the typically tumultuous Pasadena occult scene. the first takes place in and around California, Parson and his crew of "Suicide Squad" engineers birthing this new science in the face of a disbelieving status quo, informed by the embryonic sci fi (at first called "scientifiction" lol) scene that they were also a part of. the second is a whirlwind of personalities. Parsons himself was quite high in the OTO, purchasing lodging for the group, hosting rituals, get-togethers, etc., dealing with Crowley through letters, etc. when famed occultist Marjorie Cameron crosses his path, he is convinced she is BABALON, purposefully summoned by magical rituals.

at one point L. Ron Hubbard swoops in and starts dating Parsons's wife and the two of them run off to Florida. they convince Parsons to lend them $10,000 for a scheme to buy several yachts and re-sell them for a profit. of course Hubbard tries to take off with the ships and his money. he more or less gets away with it. Hubbard comes across as another fringe figure, flitting on the edges of various scenes. he is writing for the sci fi club, he is hanging out with the OTO. it is weirdly ironic that he ended up being a better swindler than Crowley, and the OTO kind of languished in obscurity scrounging for donations with a few dozen followers, meanwhile Scientology becomes a huge worldwide hit that makes him rich. so bizarre.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 9 November 2017 21:09 (three years ago) link

yeah Parsons whole story is crazy. the stuff about his death & tapes they found is also O_o

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 9 November 2017 21:50 (three years ago) link

Crowley's take at the time

"Apparently Parsons or Hubbard or somebody is producing a Moonchild. I get fairly frantic when I contemplate the idiocy of these louts."

Number None, Thursday, 9 November 2017 23:30 (three years ago) link

there's a funny part with Crowley in this book. Parson's predecessor at the OTO Wilfred Smith was becoming too much too handle. he recieved a letter saying that Crowley had drawn up a bunch of charts and discovered that Smith was a god incarnate, that he should abandon the church and his worldly possessions, and go live in the desert to seek enlightenment or some such nonsense. lol.

it was heartbreaking to reach the post war years. all these scientists struggled for decades and then helped the US win the war and now they were all under investigation for being communists. they were blacklisted and had their careers ruined while they had to watch war criminal Nazi scientists invited with open arms to take their place in the same US rocket programs they had pioneered.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 10 November 2017 00:27 (three years ago) link

Parsons co-founded a company called Allied Enterprises with Hubbard and Sara, into which Parsons invested his life savings of $20,970. Hubbard suggested that with this money they travel to Miami to purchase three yachts, which they would then sail through the Panama Canal to the West Coast, where they could sell them on for a profit. Parsons agreed, but many of his friends thought it was a bad idea. Hubbard had secretly requested permission from the U.S. Navy to sail to China and South and Central America on a mission to "collect writing material"; his real plans were for a world cruise.

Left "flat broke" by this defrauding, Parsons was incensed when he discovered that Hubbard and Sara had left for Miami with $10,000 of the money; he suspected a scam but was placated by a telephone call from Hubbard and agreed to remain business partners. When Crowley, in a telegram to Germer, dismissed Parsons as a "weak fool" and victim to Hubbard and Sara's obvious confidence trick, Parsons changed his mind, flew to Miami and placed a temporary injunction and restraining order on them.

Upon tracking them down to a harbor in County Causeway, Parsons discovered that the couple had purchased three yachts as planned; they tried to flee aboard one but hit a squall and were forced to return to port. Parsons was convinced that he had brought them to shore through a lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram containing an astrological, geomantic invocation of Bartzabel—a vengeful spirit of Mars.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 10 November 2017 01:47 (three years ago) link

they really need to make a docu drama of this. picture this guy in a hotel in Miami drawing magic symbols on the wall while L. Ron Hubbard is escaping to yacht rock. Magickal Miami Vice.

AdamVania (Adam Bruneau), Friday, 10 November 2017 01:50 (three years ago) link


Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 10 November 2017 01:55 (three years ago) link

five months pass...

...Adam I think your wish came true.


Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 2 May 2018 17:26 (three years ago) link

that looks rad

Hazy Maze Cave (Adam Bruneau), Thursday, 3 May 2018 14:46 (three years ago) link

five months pass...

Never watched that but was curious.

Came to post that this new book might be of interest on this thread, although I already mentioned on ThReads Must Roll, hope I'm not spamming.

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 31 October 2018 23:24 (two years ago) link

Ha, I just bought that book a couple days ago. There's an excerpt here: https://longreads.com/2018/10/23/the-dawn-of-dianetics-l-ron-hubbard-john-w-campbell-and-the-origins-of-scientology/

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 1 November 2018 00:16 (two years ago) link

But of course!

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 November 2018 01:01 (two years ago) link

In fact, I debated with myself whether to post on this thread or on I Am Reading A Novel That Seems To Be Something That Elvis Telecom Would Like

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 November 2018 01:03 (two years ago) link

one month passes...


Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 11 December 2018 02:58 (two years ago) link

Mentioned by Elvis T above in 2014, but new article with pictures.

nickn, Tuesday, 11 December 2018 03:11 (two years ago) link

lotta weirdass shit happened around those Santa Susana mountains man

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 11 December 2018 06:34 (two years ago) link

nine months pass...

lotta weirdass shit happened around those Santa Susana mountains man

Oh hell yes... https://data.nbcstations.com/national/KNBC/la-nuclear-secret/

Elvis Telecom, Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:21 (two years ago) link

that is interesting

Dan S, Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:33 (two years ago) link

Kurt Braunholer did a podcast years ago where he blindfolded a guest & took them to an obscure location somewhere around LA - in one of the eps he took a guest to this site & it blew my mind (no pun intended) that it existed

Lotsa crazy shit up there

Squeaky Fromage (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 14 September 2019 02:47 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

A 24 min talk on a book. Offered by the Autry Museum in LA, but I haven't listened to it.

Bohemians West: Free Love, Family, and Radicals in Twentieth Century America


nickn, Wednesday, 24 March 2021 17:25 (five months ago) link

five months pass...

Erik Davis' latest email looks at Eden Ahbez's Dharmaland https://www.burningshore.com/p/dharmalands

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 26 August 2021 00:39 (three weeks ago) link

From 1948...


Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 26 August 2021 00:44 (three weeks ago) link

Cool, thanks.

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 26 August 2021 00:47 (three weeks ago) link

yay! i love when you bump this thread, Elvis! <3

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Thursday, 26 August 2021 01:23 (three weeks ago) link

If I want founding of LA, Chinatown, and occult weirdness to read on vacation, which book to I want?

Taliban! (PBKR), Thursday, 26 August 2021 01:36 (three weeks ago) link

Just got around to Dharmaland the other day it and dug it. I liked how they took it seriously with the arrangements - not kitschy or goofy at all

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Thursday, 26 August 2021 12:44 (three weeks ago) link

This is cool, thanks!

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 26 August 2021 13:03 (three weeks ago) link

At least one of these tunes sounds a lot like a Hair outtake.

Hitsville Ukase (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 26 August 2021 13:12 (three weeks ago) link

http://shadowboxstudio.com/edenahbez.htm Joe Romersa's website is my favorite Eden Ahbez thing. The best part is the section called "phone messages from ahbe" which consists of 4 long, rambling voicemails he'd left on Romersa's answering machine. In message #3, he performs an original song called "Gone Yogi".

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Thursday, 26 August 2021 16:18 (three weeks ago) link

I liked Erik Davis's blog post more than the embedded track from Dharmalands.

The 25 Best Songs Ever Ranked In Order (Deflatormouse), Thursday, 26 August 2021 17:50 (three weeks ago) link

Speaking of Erick Davis, this one is on my short list... I heard a couple interviews with him when it was released:

High Weirdness -
Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies


Andy the Grasshopper, Thursday, 26 August 2021 18:13 (three weeks ago) link

RIP Skylaire Alfvegren. I knew her back when she was writing for Ben Is Dead and she went on to be a great writer and source for a lot of what I've been posting here. Kinda shocked here...

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 30 August 2021 05:35 (two weeks ago) link

i'm here for jack parsons

"HYYOOOOOOONK!" is the sound I make (Karl Malone), Sunday, 12 September 2021 15:55 (six days ago) link

but you know what, i'm open to other kooks as well

"HYYOOOOOOONK!" is the sound I make (Karl Malone), Sunday, 12 September 2021 15:55 (six days ago) link

Have you read Strange Angel?

What Does Blecch Mean to Me? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 12 September 2021 16:33 (six days ago) link

nope! currently trying to find somewhere i can stream the tv version though

"HYYOOOOOOONK!" is the sound I make (Karl Malone), Sunday, 12 September 2021 16:36 (six days ago) link

yeah i want to watch the tv series too

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 12 September 2021 17:20 (six days ago) link

The Dollop comedy podcast did a surprisingly great episode on Parsons

cant find the ep in their feed but it’s on youtube


terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 12 September 2021 17:23 (six days ago) link

yeah i want to watch the tv series too

The TV series' pacing isn't great. Season two (and by extension, the entire series) ends when L Ron Hubbard shows up - so you're missing a good 75% of the story. Also because it's CBS, everything has been cleaned up for broadcast television. Sex And Rockets is still the book to read first before tracking down the show.

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 12 September 2021 20:45 (six days ago) link

good to know, thx Elvis

terminators of endearment (VegemiteGrrl), Sunday, 12 September 2021 21:05 (six days ago) link

One a somewhat related note... twilight for the back-to-the-land movement:


Andy the Grasshopper, Monday, 13 September 2021 18:56 (five days ago) link

parsons and l. ron are fuckin dorks its all about marjorie cameron

kurt schwitterz, Monday, 13 September 2021 19:04 (five days ago) link

marjorie cameron: also fuckin dorks iirc

mark s, Monday, 13 September 2021 19:31 (five days ago) link


Found a used copy of this recently... really cool little book (the font is quite large), very well put together with tons of interesting illustrations. Gordon Kennedy's Children of the Sun already covered a lot of the fruit & nut germanic proto-hippies, but I found the stuff about California TB sanitoriums to be especially interesting - and how this architecture had a profound influence on the modernist look (Neutra to Eames, etc.).
I knew TB was a scourge but I don't think I was aware of just how bad it was... and SO many people came to California & the Southwest to heal themselves of it.

Andy the Grasshopper, Monday, 13 September 2021 19:41 (five days ago) link

I went to a closing sale at a sanatorium in Altadena, not much left when I was there. It's now a bunch of expensive single family houses (called La Vina, as was the sanatorium).

Zorthian Ranch in Altadena has a commune vibe (and is still around), though it really isn't one.

nickn, Monday, 13 September 2021 20:08 (five days ago) link

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