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The Second Weekend in August, 1969 ... Part Two

Posted by Whitmore, August 11, 2009 11:05pm | Post a Comment

Some observers see this second weekend in August, the 8th thru the 10th, 1969, as effectively the end of the sixties’ counterculture as seen through rose colored glasses. The Vietnam War (which was never formally declared a war) was grinding on. In 1969 there would be 11,616 US military deaths, the second highest count during the war; almost 22,000 Vietnamese soldiers would be killed that year. This week would see the deaths of 169 US military personnel, over the weekend alone some 84 US soldiers would die. And every night TV newscasts were blanketed with those images. Vietnam is often characterized as the "living-room war" or the "television war." It was the first war to be methodically documented nightly on television, and at a moment when TV was becoming a compelling presence in daily life.
 
Other news that weekend included the discovery of the missing plane, Hawthorne-Nevada Airlines, Flight 708, that crashed just west of Lone Pine on February 18, killing all 35 passengers and crew. It was found on the eastern slope of Mount Whitney at an elevation of approximately 11,770 feet.
 
On August 8, just six days after it was published in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Zodiac Killer’s first unsigned encrypted message was solved by a Salinas, California high school teacher, Donald Harden, and his wife Bettye. The Zodiac Killer was a serial killer who operated in the Bay area in the late 1960’s. His name was coined by a series of taunting letters and cryptograms he sent to police and newspapers until about 1974. The initial 408-symbol cryptogram stated, among other things, that the Zodiac enjoyed "killing people because it is so much fun." Harden was an amateur cryptographer and he reportedly took about 20 hours to break the code. Navy cryptographers had attempted to solve it, but without success. Of course some 40 years later, the identity of the Zodiac Killer still remains unsolved.
 
On the 9th, President Richard Nixon announced the nomination of Helen D. Bentley as a Member of the Federal Maritime Commission. Nixon also addressed the nation about domestic programs and a tax reform bill following its passage by the House of Representatives.
 
That weekend also saw the deaths of Russ Morgan, orchestra leader as well as a long time performer at the Dunes in Las Vegas. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, crackpot eugenicist and Nazi physician, died in an automobile accident. Nobel Prize Laureate Cecil Frank Powell died while walking in the foothills of the Alps; he was 66 years of age. A bench with a commemorative plaque can be seen near the site of his death.

On Friday the 8th, Disneyland opened their doors to the new and soon to be classic attraction, the Haunted Mansion. Adorned with wrought iron fencing and surrounded by creepy tombstones, Walt Disney had envisioned the ghoulish Southern-style mansion even before the park opened in the 1954. The Haunted Mansion was originally seen as a walk-through experience, with cast members walking their guests /victims from one scene to the next as the netherworld unfolds. “Welcome fooolish mortals to the Haunted Mansion. I am your host, your ghost host. Ha, ha, ha, ha ...”
 
Meanwhile, in sports, the New York Mets beat the Atlanta Braves behind the eventual 1969 Cy Young winner Tom Seaver. At this point in this, their Cinderella season, the Mets were still in second place, 8 and a half games back. The game on Saturday was 3 hours and 14 minutes long and the Mets won 5 to 3 on 13 hits. Seaver would finish his career with 311 wins, 3,640 strikeouts and a 2.86 era in a 20-year career. In 1992, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the highest percentage ever (98.8%).
 
As for my LA Dodgers, on Sunday they beat the Chicago Cubs 4 to 2 behind the pitching of Don Sutton winning his 14th game of the year, Pete Mikkelsen got the save. Sutton would also wind up in the Hall of Fame, selected in 1998 with a career won lost mark of 324-256.

The 1969 Pikes Peak Marathon, an annual foot race that begins at the base of Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and climbs over 7,700 feet to the peak at 14,115 feet, was won by Steve Gachupin, who in his career would win the event 6 times in his 21 tries up the mountain.
 
In professional bike racing news, the World Championship was won by Harm Ottenbros in Zolder, Belgium, edging out the favorite Julien Stevens by just a few centimeters.
 
But of course, the big news, the chilling news that weekend, was the seemingly random and grisly murders in Beverly Hills and the Los Feliz district...
 
On August 9th, a hot, quiet Saturday night -- one of the killers would later comment that you could hear the sound of ice rattling in cocktail shakers up and down the Benedict Canyon -- in a home rented by Roman Polanski and his wife Sharon Tate at 10050 Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring and Steven Parent and a eight and a half months pregnant Tate were murdered in violent blood bath, as bizarre, gruesome and insane slaughter of innocents that might ever occur in any dystopia. Less than two days later another grisly murder occurred in the Los Feliz district -- this time it was supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. Killed in a similarly ghastly manner, this time a fork was used to carve the word WAR on Leno LaBianca’s stomach and left sticking out of his corpse. Authorities would take nearly four months to track down Charles Manson and his Family. And when they were arrested and prosecuted, the world discovered a terrifying mix of a counterculture gone mad and staggering mind-control. Manson, Charles "Tex" Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel's trials ended in 1971; they were all given the death penalty, though later that was over-turned by the state of California, commuting their sentences to life in prison. Another family member, Linda Kasabian, who stood watch at the Tate house, turned states evidence and served no time.
 
Roman Polanski (The Fearless Vampire Killers, Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist), who was out of town, was not Manson’s target. The victims were in the wrong house at the wrong time. Manson, an aspiring singer-songwriter and an occasional friend of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, chose the Cielo Drive house because he had once tried to get a record deal from a producer who used to live there, Terry Melcher, the son of Doris Day, and Manson knew the layout of the house. Past residents included Cary Grant and his wife Dyan Cannon, Henry Fonda, Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere & the Raiders and Candice Bergen. The final resident of the original Cielo Drive house was Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who moved into the house in the early 1990s and built a recording studio there. The studio dubbed Pig, or sometimes Le Pig, was an allusion to the fact that Susan Atkins wrote "Pig" in Tate's blood on the front door of the house during the murders. The Nine Inch Nails ep Broken and their classic 1994 album The Downward Spiral were recorded there, as well as Marilyn Manson's debut album Portrait of an American Family. In December 1993 Reznor moved out of the house, taking with him the original front door, explaining that "there was too much history in that house for me to handle." He insists that he didn’t know about the murders when he bought the house, though I thought there was a law on the books requiring brokers to tell buyers about crimes that may have taken place in a home; the real estate term is ‘stigmatized properties.’ Then again, what do I know? In the late 1990’s the house was demolished and replaced with a new mansion and a new street address of 10066 Cielo Drive.


The Second Weekend in August, 1969 ... Part One

Posted by Whitmore, August 10, 2009 11:38am | Post a Comment
I wonder if anything significant about this past weekend will be remembered in 40 years time, other then Sonia Sotomayor being sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and maybe Tiger Woods’ unbelievable play at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. This weekend back in 1969 is definitely remembered for a variety of odd and groovy and trivial and horrifying reasons.
zager and evans 
In the summer of 1969 I was living carefree at 4200 Franklin Avenue in Los Angeles near Griffith Park, with my parents, grandmother, two sisters, and of course our Siamese cat Pandora and a Great Dane named Dijo who would eventually, later in the year, attack me without provocation. She was a nutty and twisted beast. And typical of August in LA, it was annoyingly hot and smoggy. If you didn’t live here back then you just don’t know smog-- lung scorching air under a sky colored golden toasty brown to the apex. Now that’s pollution! This was also the first summer I really started noticing music. I culled some change from my mom’s purse to buy my first single, which also happened to be #1 on the Billboard charts this weekend in 1969, and would be for six consecutive weeks -- "In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)" by Zager and Evans. In the UK the #1 song was "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, which has noticeably survived the tastes of time better then “2525.” The #1 album in the US was the self-titled second album by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Earlier in the year in March it was briefly at the top of the charts, but with three successive Top 5 singles, it returned once again to the number one position. In 1970 it would win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.  
 
Also this weekend 40 years ago, the Beatles posed for one of their most iconic images-- the Abbey Road album cover shot of the George, Paul, Ringo and John at the zebra crossing on Abbey Road. They were mostly done working on their newest album and, having applied the last overdubs that morning to the longest track, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," photographer Iain Macmillan was given ten minutes to get the cover photo done. At 11:35 am on Friday, August 8, 1969, the image was shot. Of course, when the album was released in September, the cover art only fueled the rumors and speculation that Paul McCartney had indeed died in a car crash in 1966 and all the symbolic references only confirmed the sad fact.

(In which Job enjoys a field trip.)

Posted by Job O Brother, August 3, 2009 03:37pm | Post a Comment
goth

Yesterday, the boyfriend decided to surprise me with a spontaneous field trip to The Museum of Jurassic Technology, located in Culver City. It was my first time there, even though I’d been pining to attend for over four years, and it was not a disappointment.

It’s hard to explain how lovable the Museum is to people who’ve never been, because one doesn’t want to spoil its mystique and novelty, and explaining its merit to those who have experienced it is hardly necessary, assuming, as I do, that everyone is charmed by it. (I suppose there could be some whimsy-less, emotional cripples who wouldn’t appreciate it, but I’d like to think they have no interest in either my blog or my company. Humph!)

If your idea of a dream house is The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland...


...if your idea of a fashion magazine is The Delineator...

fashion vintagevintage fasion

...or if your shopping choice for bric-a-brac is Necromance on Melrose, then The Museum of Jurassic Technology is your idea of fun day out.

Jessie Evans, The Vanishing Lady, Returns To California

Posted by Aaron Detroit, July 23, 2009 11:23am | Post a Comment
Greetings and Salutations!! Welcome to the inaugural post of Amoeba’s Black Light District, a new weekly(ish) blog where we shall traverse in the darker realms of the musical & subcultural universe (i.e. Death Rock, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Transgressive Fiction, Dark Wave, Apocalyptic Folk, Goth, Black Metal, B-Movies, Doom Disco, Synthpop, Ethereal Nu-Gaze, Neo-New Beat, Death-Twee, Infernal Drone and all manner of night-friendly sounds and darkly delights! *cue Evil Doctor laugh). Come forth, for we own the night!

This week, California’s prodigal dark queen,
Jessie Evans, jessie evans is it fire?returns for shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles to promote her debut solo LP, Is It Fire? (Fantomette Records). Jessie spent nearly a decade in the California Punk and Death-Rock scenes honing her chops singing and wailing James Chance-style on her trusty saxophone (as well as a few other instruments!) in bands like The Vanishing and the now rather legendary Subtonix.

The Vanishing relocated from San Francisco to Berlin in 2004 but split up soon after, leaving Jessie free for new ventures.
Autonervous, initially a solo project, blossomed into a collaborative project between Evans and Bettina Koster (of the '80s German band MALARIA!). The duo released an LP and toured in 2006. Autonervous marked a heavy shift in direction for Ms. Evans -- her songwriting became more sultry and less incendiary, her lyrics more minimal and focused. Also bubbling under the dancey beats was a new sense of joy. Egads! Her grimajessie evansce was turning into a smile!

On Is It Fire? that smile has turned into full-on laughte
r, and audibly s
o! It’s not an evil-kind of laughter either, on the interlude track “Micheladas,” Evans can be heard clinking glasses and laughing joyously. The album is indeed a celebration of dark glamour, love and sexuality, from the daring come-on of "Scientist of Love" and the House-y statement of intent, “Let Me On,” on to the horn-y swing of the Autonervous re-take “Golden Snake” and the dark and dreamy sway of “Black Sand” with its chant of “It’s time to get into your body.”

Evans didn’t party completely alone though; in fact, she brought in some heavy-hitters, literally. Both
Toby Dammit (Swans, Iggy Pop), and Budgie (Siouxsie & The Banshees) share time behind the drum-kit on the album. Evans’ arrangements focus heavily on beat and rhythm, which adds greatly to the primal and sexual mood of the album, whilst Budgie ‘s presence definitely lends to some Creatures-esque moments. Also under Evans' employ is horn-blower Martin Wenk (Calexico), and an International Children’s choir. This lady throws one crazy shindig!
jessie evans and budgie
Half of Is It Fire? was recorded at home in Berlin while the other half was recorded in Jessie’s newest beloved city, Tijuana (Evans pays tribute en Espa├▒ol on 3 tracks). Evans’ ridiculously long list of credible contributors gets longer with production and mixing duties handled by Thomas Stern (Einst├╝rzende Neubauten, Crime and The City Solution) in Berlin and Pepe Mogt (Nortec Collective) in Tijuana.

Cypress Park

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 7, 2009 05:00pm | Post a Comment
In this installment of the Los Angeles neighborhood blog, we visit Cypress Park. To vote for the neighborhood you think I should visit next, go here or to vote for a Los Angeles County community you'd like to see covered, go here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Cypress Park
The western entry into the neighborhood

Cypress Park is a neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles hemmed in by Mt. Washington to the northeast, the LA River on the southwest and Lincoln Heights to the south.
Map of Northeast LA Map of Cypress Park
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Maps of Northeast Los Angeles and Cypress Park

At Division and San  Fernando, it shares a short border with Glassell Park. At Marmion and Figueroa, it shares an even shorter border with Highland Park.

A view of Cypress Park from Frogtown with Mt. Washington in the background

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