Entertainment News 06-17-09
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Editor, The Konformist
Conspiracy Convention Raises Web of Theories in Santa Clara
By Gary Singh
WITH CELEBRATORY TALK about the 40th anniversary of Woodstock reverberating throughout the land, no one seems to be bringing up the darker side of that era, especially since August will also mark the 40th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders. There exist several local connections I could perhaps explore: Charles Manson spent time in San Jose on his way from the Haight-Ashbury to Los Angeles; Susan Atkins, a.k.a. Sadie, spent part of her childhood in Cambrian Park and, like me, went to Leigh High School; and local Homestead alumnus-turnedconspiracy theorist Jeffrey Deane Turner claims that factions of the Process Church of the Final Judgment, to which Manson may have had connections, eventually morphed into a more secret and sinister operation with tentacles still operating here in the South Bay. Whether or not there's any such thing as an accident and since the Conspiracy Convention 2009 just happens to hit the Santa Clara Convention Center this weekend I think I must probe a few seemingly connected spheres of influence. I originally met Turner in order to consider his claims that '60s sexpot Tuesday Weld is a descendant in a bloodline of druidic witches who indoctrinated her into the Illuminati, with whom she secretly unleashed nearly everything we currently know about the '60s counterculture. According to Turner, the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, the Who and many more were actually Weld's secret protégés, functioning as entertainment-industry fronts in her elaborately networked battle against the both the worldwide fascist network and another secret society, the All Nations Group, puppeteered by '80s pop star Tiffany.
I was introduced to Turner by his pal Douglas Hawes, a San Jose native who had appeared with Turner on Untamed Dimensions, an Internet radio show hosted by freelance investigative journalist Adam Gorightly. Originally writing for Steamshovel Press, Gorightly had been the first to break the story of Turner's paradigm-shattering claims. The essay, "Tiffany Overtakes Tuesday Weld," later appeared in Secret and Suppressed II: Banned Ideas and Hidden History Into the 21st Century (Feral House), as well as Gorightly's own compendium, The Beast of Adam Gorightly: Collected Rantings (19922004). Gorightly will infiltrate Silicon Valley this weekend to cover Conspiracy Con 2009 for Paranoia Magazine. He will also be hawking an updated version of his book The Shadow Over Santa Susana: Black Magic, Mind Control and the Manson Family Mythos, to be released Aug. 8 by Creation Books, just in time for the 40th anniversary. According to the hype, it takes "readers on a black magic carpet ride from the Hollywood 'Beautiful People' scene of the late '60s through to the vast desert landscapes of a Death Valley gone mad;with all the love-ins and murderous creepy-crawls that happened along the way." The book contains all the time-tested free-form 666-degrees-of-separation-alia: Manson's connection to the Beach Boys, the Hollywood S&M scene in the '60s, UFOs, Sammy Davis Jr.'s involvement in the Church of Satan, the Beatles' White Album, the Second Coming of Christ, Yul Brynner, the CIA and good old-fashioned satanic hippie love. The updated version contains new information on the possible whereabouts of Steve Grogan, a.k.a. "Clem," the only Manson Family member who was actually released from prison.
And getting back to the Process Church, Feral House will soon release Love Sex Fear Death: The Inside Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment, written by former church member Timothy Wyllie. Judging by publisher Adam Parfrey's foreword, it looks to provide a more rational, thinking man's approach to the whole ball of wax, disproving the more hysterical fear-fueled sensationalism previously written on this cult.
How's that for a few meaningful coincidences? Seems like more sleuthing is in order, methinks. In the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, "I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path."
The yin-yang of David Carradine
He seemed at once calm and explosive.
By Reed Johnson
June 5, 2009
As an actor, and possibly as a human being, David Carradine was a walking yin-yang symbol, a bundle of opposites tightly stitched together.
As a younger man, his lean, taut frame suggested both graceful self-possession and a capacity for explosive violence. Several of his best roles, both in film and television, cast him as a thinking-person's action hero, poised in perpetual tension between contemplative inner peace and outward aggression and hostility.
In his most iconic role, Kwai Chang Caine, the philosophy-spouting, butt-kicking hero of ABC's drama "Kung Fu" (1972-75), he played a half-Chinese man who was raised by Shaolin monks. On the lam in the American Old West, in search of his half-brother, Caine (like his biblical namesake) was a man divided against himself: a soft-spoken, flute-playing martial arts demon; a wandering loner who reached deep into prairie folks' souls by uttering Zen-like paradoxes.
The show caught the tenor of its times. It arrived toward the tail-end of the hippie counterculture movement, when Americans were questioning "Establishment" authority and dabbling in Eastern mysticism, reading books such as Robert Pirsig's novel, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." A year earlier, the cult film "Billy Jack" had fused karate-macho antics with the figure of a rebellious antihero.
Caine, a kind of bareheaded, bare-footed, 19th century beatnik poet, reflected a national mood of vague spiritual yearning, mixed with unease over the durability of Western values, and partially prompted by the United States' dispiriting experience with the Vietnam War.
Three decades later, Quentin Tarantino would seize on Carradine's dualistic (and dueling) star persona when he cast him as the title character in "Kill Bill." The sprawling, two-part epic drew on Hong Kong martial arts movies and Italian spaghetti westerns, and was shaped by contrasting Eastern and Western notions of the aesthetics and metaphysics of violence.
The actor, who made more than 100 films over a more than 40-year career, was found dead on June 3 in his hotel room in Bangkok, where he had been on location shooting a movie. Details remain murky. Police reported that the actor had been found by a hotel maid, dead in a wardrobe with a rope around his neck and body. But Carradine's manager said the actor had died of natural causes.
A member of the dynastic Carradine acting clan, which also includes family patriarch John Carradine and half-siblings Keith and Robert, David Carradine studied music and served in the Army before taking up stage acting. He landed his first bit-part film role in an adaptation of Louis L'Amour's western novel "Taggart."
Carradine's rugged, hard-to-place features and his terse, sometimes laconic manner gave him the ability to be cast in roles as varied as Caine, folk troubadour Woody Guthrie in Hal Ashby's "Bound for Glory" (1976), and as a renegade driver in Paul Bartel's 1975 apocalyptic thriller "Death Race 2000," which prefigured George Miller's "Mad Max" films.
Destructive impulses, and the individual's struggle to master them and bend them toward good, was a recurring motif in Carradine's film and TV roles. Good men, in Carradine's acting universe, may harbor brutal instincts and yield to primitive reflexes. Bad men, despite their flaws, may adhere to their own rigid, if twisted, codes of honor.
In Walter Hill's 1980 western "The Long Riders,", Carradine was cast with his brothers Keith and Robert as members of the outlaw Younger gang. The movie included a memorable scene in which Carradine squares off in a saloon knife fight, a riveting piece of cinematic choreography that invited viewers simply to enjoy the actor's physicality and calculated stoicism.
Carradine could evince a very convincing, sinewy toughness, one that he used in other roles to memorable effect. Caine's gently quizzical manner had been replaced by an insinuating, softly menacing voice and a hard stare. You wouldn't want to mess with this guy.
Carradine's martial arts proficiency was largely faked in "Kung Fu." But the actor later took up these skills and even turned out a video series in martial arts training that he produced and starred in. In fact, Carradine dined out on this martial-arts-guru image for years, even deploying it for tongue-in-cheek television commercials. And while his résumé kept growing, many of his late-career roles were forgettable lower-end features.
Married five times, Carradine had a personal life as volatile as any of his film roles. One reviewer described Carradine's autobiography, "Endless Highway," as a "dreary catalog of human disaster," i.e. the actor's own life. Characteristically candid in public -- sometimes disarmingly, sometimes abrasively -- he acknowledged struggling with both drug and alcohol abuse.
His complex nature flared up in public this spring during an American Cinematheque screening and discussion of "Bound for Glory," at which Carradine got into an extended shouting match with audience members and Haskell Wexler, the esteemed cinematographer who won an Oscar for "Bound for Glory." According to a lengthy account of the evening by entertainment writer Chris Willman, Carradine lashed out against labor unions and publicly berated Wexler for making "Bound for Glory" look too beautiful.
"I would have said, turn up the contrast, show the grit under the fingernails, don't make any beauty about it, make it [expletive] ugly," Willman quotes Carradine declaring to the stunned audience and the visibly (and understandably) infuriated Wexler.
Carradine will be remembered for his grittiness, to be sure, but also for imparting a certain strange beauty to ugly acts and dark arts.
Ken 'RU Sirius' Goffman
Summer Issue of h+ is now up! Go to hplusmagazine.com
Whitney Houston's new album due in September
AP, Jun 4, 2009
The date for Whitney Houston's comeback has been set.Arista Records says her long-awaited album will be released Sept. 1. Houston hasn't released a CD in seven years.
So far, there's no word on a title for the album.
The 45-year-old superstar is one of the best-selling artists of all-time, but in recent years, she's been defined more by drug problems, marital woes and erratic behavior than by her Grammy-winning voice.
But lately, Houston has appeared to return to her pop princess form. She wowed the crowd when she performed at her mentor Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party in February.
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Giants' Johnson wins No. 300
Henry Schulman, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, June 5, 2009
Washington -- As Randy Johnson hugged his teammates and family in a cool late-spring drizzle, he understood he was relishing a feeling that only 23 other men in baseball have enjoyed. Many of those pitchers, some he knows personally, some just regal names in the lore of the game, were on his mind as he celebrated his 300th win Thursday night.
As difficult as this careerlong accomplishment was, Johnson said, others accomplished so much more. With age comes the perspective that while he resides in baseball's highest aerie, he does not live there alone.
"It sounds funny," Johnson said after his 300th win came in a 5-1 victory against the Washington Nationals in the first game of a doubleheader, "but I've played 21, 22 years. I'm 45 and I've come upon 300 wins and I'm thinking, 'I only have 211 more to catch Cy Young.' "
The Big Unit was raised in Livermore, cut his teeth as a Montreal Expo, became a star as a Seattle Mariner and won a championship as an Arizona Diamondback. All of that, though, was relegated to the musty pages of a history book when he wrote a defining chapter at Nationals Park and joined the 300-win club as its sixth left-hander.
Johnson pitched six dominating innings before leaving with a bruised shoulder caused when he hit the turf to grab a ball and fling it to first baseman Travis Ishikawa for the first out of the sixth inning - "my senior moment when I thought I was only 25," Johnson joked. Manager Bruce Bochy said Johnson is not expected to miss a start.
The Unit retreated to the clubhouse to watch Brandon Medders, Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson get through the seventh and eighth innings then returned to the dugout to watch Wilson finish the ninth.
The game was far more tense than the final score. The Giants led 2-1 until they added three runs in the ninth inning, on a two-run double by Randy Winn and a Pablo Sandoval sacrifice fly.
Lisa Johnson surely spoke for her husband in the dugout and Giants fans the world over when she said, "It was a little scary for a while. I liked having those extra few runs."
Johnson became the first pitcher since Tom Seaver in 1985 to earn his 300th win on his first try. He also became the second-oldest pitcher to win 300, at 45 years and 267 days. Phil Niekro was the oldest at 46 years, 188 days.
The milestone occurred in front of a few thousand fans in a chilly gloom between storms, with a large contingent of ticket holders behind the visiting dugout rising and cheering for every positive Giants development. They included Johnson's wife and daughters Samantha, Willow and Lexi. His 13-year-old son, Tanner, served as a batboy and seemed more nervous than Dad during the ninth.
Randy Johnson sat stoically in the dugout, cracking a smile only when some fans started chanting his name, as Tanner nearly pulverized the baseball he was holding.
When Wilson struck out Wil Nieves to end it, Johnson emerged from the dugout and hugged his teammates in the handshake line. He seemed emotional as he hugged his children and tipped his cap to the sparse crowd before heading into the clubhouse, where the celebration was muted for obvious reasons.
"We're in a doubleheader right now," Bochy said. "It's hard to toast him when there's another game to play. We'll get to that point soon enough."
So Johnson munched on some pizza before walking into a news conference. Catcher Bengie Molina had handed him the ball from the final out, and Johnson handed it to his wife in the front row before he tried to describe his feelings.
He thanked the hundreds of teammates who helped him win each of those 300 games, acknowledged that this was special in light of the back injuries that nearly derailed his career and expressed relief that he did not prolong the wait.
"Some of the guys in the locker room have seen a lot in the last few years with Barry (Bonds') accomplishments and this accomplishment," he said. "I think I'm happy that it happened early enough. Like I said all along, I'm not here just to win five games. I'm here to help turn this team around."
Nobody can accuse Johnson of backing into his 300th win. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and left after allowing one unearned run on two hits with 78 pitches thrown.
Then, he needed a controversial call from home-plate umpire Tim Timmons to preserve the win.
The Giants still led 2-1 in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Timmons called strike three on a 3-2 Wilson fastball to Adam Dunn on a pitch that looked low. Ball four would have tied the game and given the Unit a no-decision.
"You really don't want to see a 300th win lost on a walk," Wilson said. "Nor did I want to see it."
Dunn argued with Timmons over the pitch, but Wilson, smiling, said, "I liked it. It worked out. I pretty much just wanted to throw it down the middle and see what he could do with it."
The Giants then scored their three precious insurance runs, and Wilson struck out the side in the ninth for his 13th save. He has saved all five of Johnson's wins this year.
Johnson's teammates presented him a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Fred Lewis singled, Ishikawa shot a double past first base, Juan Uribe grounded out to score Lewis and, with two outs, Emmanuel Burriss lined an 0-2 pitch from Jordan Zimmermann up the middle for a single.
Burriss and Aaron Rowand contributed excellent defensive plays, and the Johnson made a nice play of his own as he hurt his shoulder in the sixth inning. He knocked down Anderson Hernandez's leadoff grounder, chased the ball as it rolled to the right side and made a barehanded flip to Ishikawa as his 6-foot-10 body hit the turf.
Alberto Gonzalez, the next hitter, reached on an error by Edgar Renteria, who gloved a routine grounder and threw a slider to Ishikawa at first. The error was costly, as Nick Johnson then doubled to the gap in right-center and Gonzalez scored.
But the Unit preserved his 2-1 lead by retiring Ryan Zimmerman and Dunn, his last hitter on his momentous night.
"It just goes to show you what these great athletes are capable of doing when they put their mind to it," Bochy said. "He set his mind on 300 wins - I don't know when - and he did it."