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In our first LIVE episode of Season IX, BoA:Audio ventures to southern California in the 1960s and early 1970s with our guest Dave McGowan, author of Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream. Over the course of this expansive conversation, we discuss the unique mix of personalities which resided in Laurel Canyon and helped launched the counterculture movement as well as why this whole turn of events looks, in retrospect, highly suspicious. We'll also learn about the historically forgotten originators of the hippie aesthetic, the secret government movie studio located in Laurel Canyon, a bizarre Nazi compound built in another nearby canyon, and other oddities from the area.
Altogether, it's a compelling edition of the program which will likely have you taking a second look at the early days of rock music and wondering if hidden influences played a hand in shaping that historic era.
Highlights: We find out the origins of Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon and the unique nature of the story told in the book as well as get the standard bio / background on Dave McGowan. This leads to a brief side tangent on the Lincoln assassination and then some talk about how Weird Scenes has inspired numerous requests for Dave to examine other eras of rock music.
We examine the central thesis of the book which asks if the musicians that emerged from California's Laurel Canyon in the 1960's were part of an intelligence scheme to control the counterculture movement. This leads to some talk about the various trends which seem to surround these musicians which, taken together, make history's turn of events look very suspicious.
Dave also details how a slew of legendary actors like Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda, and Marlon Brando were also a part of the burgeoning artistic community of the era and also shared similar intelligence ties. Adding to this mix of intriguing characters, we also have Charles Manson involved in the scene as well, which leads to some talk about the undercurrent of violence which existed in Laurel Canyon in the days of Flower Power.
Following that, we learn about two historically forgotten characters, Vito Paulekas and Carl Fanzoni, who seemingly started the hippie aesthetic which their strange band of followers as well as played a pivotal role in raising awareness of these new bands which spawned the counterculture movement. Dave also reflects on how the allegedly counterculture movement was clearly helped at the very beginning by the mainstream media.
Next we learn about Lookout Mountain Laboratories, an elaborate and secret government movie studio which was located in Laurel Canyon during this era as well. Looking at another trend which emerges from the book, we get Dave's take on the recurring theme of houses of some renown (or with famous tenants) ending up burned to the ground.
We revisit Charles Manson during the era and reflect on how he very well could have ended up a famous musician rather than an infamous cult leader, since he had numerous close ties to the legendary musicians that eventually became superstars.
Additionally, we discuss another oddity which Dave noticed while researching the book, which is that numerous people featured in the book had one or both of their parents commit suicide. This leads to some talk about Dave's suspicions about Hollywood suicides.
Painting a picture for the listeners, we have Dave describe how big Laurel Canyon is and how its diminutive size makes it all the more bizarre for its role in shaping music and entertainment history. We also learn about when and why Laurel Canyon stopped being the epicenter for the counterculture movement.
Dave then tells us about the strange ruins of a secret compound that was built in LA's Rustic Canyon and he shares the story of a visit there recently where someone had to be evacuated from the area via helicopter. Jumping back to the counterculture era, we talk about how some of the biggest stars were actually politically opposed to or openly contemptuous of the movement.
Nearing the close of the conversation, we talk about delve into the bizarre connection between the Manson Family and Angela Lansbury, of all people. We also find out about Kenneth Anger, who makes a few appearances in Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon. Looking ahead to 2015, we find out if Dave plans on publishing his Lincoln research in book form as well as what other projects he may be working on at the moment.
Dave McGowan was born and raised in Torrance, California, just twenty miles south of Laurel Caynon. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in psychology and has, since 1990, run a small business in the greater Los Angeles area. Currently single, he is the proud father of three daughters. He is also a lifelong music fan who still frequently keeps his radio tuned to classic rock stations. McGowan's previous books include Programmed to Kill: The Politics of Serial Murder and Understanding the F-Word: American Fascism and the Politics of Illusion.
His website is davesweb.cnchost.com.