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Sir Gumbo has commented on (4) products.

Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippy Dream by David Mcgowan
Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippy Dream

Sir Gumbo, March 25, 2015

It's obvious that a remarkable amount of research went into this book. The author made heroic efforts on that score. It is truly a revelation to me how much of the music that more or less made up my soundtrack during the late '60's and '70's involved the musicians residing in or near or transiting Laurel Canyon.

My experience of and enjoyment of so much of this music was a combination of its' boisterous and jubilant embrace of all the new free-wheeling we were experiencing during this period. I was born in 1950, just to set my personal timeline.

It's great to learn that the LC community did not as I at least did, make major class distinctions between the Mama's and the Papa's, the Byrd's, the Turtles, the Buffalo Springfield, and even the Monkees.

So, true confession, it is painful to have so many of my musical idols have their dirty roots exposed. Promiscuity, drug abuse, cozying up to future sadists, killers, and felons of other stripes.

But I accept that I need to have my pollyana-ish compass recalibrated. I don't enjoy it but I do not fault the author for that. He reports it.

But I do have a serious bone to pick. The title and build-up of the book have a lot to say about the military and national security connections of a remarkable number of the musicians and associates with some connection to Laurel Canyon. That major theme is doggedly and somewhat tediously pursued but never properly followed up on in this book.

Find an angle! At the least (this would be pretty pathetic cop-out to me) just acknowledge that the security/defense state was so rampant even back then that almost everyone had a parent or close relative who was complicit in the stuff. But the title ("covert ops"?? give me a break) leads us to expect that you can at least offer yet another conspiracy theory. There is no real follow-through on that aspect of this supposed tell-all.


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Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox by Raffaele Sollecito
Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox

Sir Gumbo, January 23, 2013

I took on this book to help me at least better-resolve the painful dichotomy I felt between the amazingly superficial multi-year soap-opera coverage of the Amanda Knox case by the US media (do they all really aspire to be People Mag?) versus their vindication on appeal.

Honor Bound made it clear that Amanda and Raffaele spent years in prison, much of it before even being tried, while prosecutors and judges (!) repeatedly committed what we know as crimes. (And, yes, our Supreme Court also did so in appointing King George in December 2000.)

Well-written, and I commend the author(s) in not shying away from the complexities, both legal and domestic, in pursuing that rare commodity, justice. I recall hints by "brave" media here that there might have been some slightly injudicious choices made in the course of the original trial, but you'd have had to be a true fanatic to find anything like the real story via US media reporting.

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Going Back to Bisbee by Richard Shelton
Going Back to Bisbee

Sir Gumbo, January 4, 2011

I came to Going Back to Bisbee (R. Shelton) once again by way of librarian Nancy Pearl (Book Lust to Go). This is a terrific memoir by current Tucson resident (UA faculty, if memory serves). It's one of those books rich in references and tantalizing links and offshoots that beg for further investigation. Many books elevate, enlighten, and entertain me, but those that also provide me with a wealth of other enticing leads, to books or otherwise, hold a special place in my heart, serving almost like a short-term special friend with inside knowledge to share.

I found discourses on cholla and ocotillo, and the author's personal "system" for coining names and/or categories for living species a lot more fascinating than you might imagine. Had I not read this book, I might never had cottoned to the idea that the improbable Boojum Tree is also a member of the ocotillo family Fouquieria. Said tree named after dreadful L. Carroll creature in The Hunting of the Snark (which I must now of course track down!).
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Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Strangers on a Train

Sir Gumbo, October 15, 2009

This is wonderfully dark and insightful writing. Very disturbing indeed, as it forces us to look on as a seemingly only normally-insecure protagonist, caught in an unhappy marriage, and leveraged by semi-hubristic career ambitions, is ever-so-gradually suborned by an adept psychopath.

It will make you think - and squirm - as to where or when you would have been bold enough to turn the train off the tracks.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)



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