This week I have been continuing work on some sample chapters for my new book, and I am surprisingly pleased by how well the story’s pieces have clicked into place. All of the parts fit together in harmonious ways I wasn’t entirely expecting. As most of you are aware, I’m planning to tell the story of the various moral panics that arose in 1947 surrounding communists, gays, and UFOs, and I want to do so by filtering it through the framework of pop culture and the ways that the arts shaped and channeled the direction these panics took.
I have found myself surprised by the sheer volume of important things that happened between May and October of 1947 that ended up shaping the course of the following decades. It wasn’t just the start of the communist and gay panics, or even just the start of the UFO flap. Virtually everything I touch on in my planned book grows out of the events of that long summer, and I simply would not have believed so many coincidences could occur had I not researched them myself. It’s interesting, for example, that the FBI was investigating the Fortean Society for communist and anarchist subversion (at the insistence of an ex-assistant attorney general of the U.S.!) the day before Kenneth Arnold saw his flying discs, since Ray Palmer drew on Fortean material to develop the myth of the flying saucers from Shaver Mystery spare parts, and earned an FBI investigation of his own.
One of the smallest coincidences also served as a poignant symbol. I discovered that the Warner Bros. producer who attempted to develop an early adaptation of Rebel without a Cause in the spring and summer of 1947 was simultaneously in charge of transforming the first bestselling American novel to deal frankly with homosexuality, The Fall of Valor, into a heterosexual story by trimming out all of the gay stuff. Given what became of the Rebel property in the next decade, and the subversive homoerotic content that Nicholas Ray and James Dean inserted under that title, the irony is rich, and, selfishly, it makes for an artistic bit of foreshadowing and counterpoint to the later chapters. I only learned of this by mistake, however, when I was researching an unrelated topic in 1947 back issues of the New York Times, and the Rebel without a Cause name caught my eye flipping through the pages.
8/14/2020 12:36:52 pm
Note that in 1947 America's best rocket scientist Frank J. Malina (1912-1981) left the country for France to work for UNESCO and later as an artist. Before this, he had been observed by the FBI for years. There is a 2019 biography which I can recommend: https://www.amazon.com/Escape-from-Earth/dp/1781259704/
8/14/2020 01:04:55 pm
I just watched From Here to Eternity a few days ago. I don't believe that they kept even a hint of the homosexual content that James Jones was quite frank about in the 1951 novel. Ditto for The Thin Red line in either the 60s or 90s versions of the film. But that is going beyond the time frame in question.
8/14/2020 01:35:49 pm
"DeLonge is set to describe (I won’t say “reveal” since that is too strong a word) his company’s latest research."
8/15/2020 07:39:23 pm
Kent, IMO handling Parsons, Hubbard et al is entirely beyond Jason's abilities. It appears that that story does not align with his interests either. His little James Dean Vampira piece may turn out okay.
8/16/2020 11:15:37 am
I didn't say Hubbard. Maybe you're having a spell. I'll offer you this deal: you stop haranguing about an English translation of a French translation of an Arabic book, and stop jostling my elbow. And stop being so condescending as you were above. In exchange I will do nothing. Fair enough?
8/16/2020 07:33:00 pm
My apologies, Kent. I though that you must be aware of the relationship between Parsons, Hubbard and scientology, but clearly I was mistaken. Once again, my apologies.
8/17/2020 10:33:36 am
I didn't say Hubbard because I don't consider him the interesting part of the story, Again with the condescension! But admittedly it's better than your long-running "Look a**h***" tic. The part before Final Jeopardy is the best part of the show, don't you agree?
8/18/2020 05:38:13 pm
Hi Kent -
8/18/2020 07:25:04 pm
On this wonderful SUMMER'S EVE, all I can say to you is "Keeo digging, my friend."
8/18/2020 09:48:47 pm
E. P. -- I am not writing a script. I am writing narrative nonfiction. It goes without saying that the facts take precedence. But in narrative nonfiction, one is not simply writing a series of artfully arranged Wikipedia entries. Part of the narrative is selecting what to highlight, what to emphasize, and the emotions that I as the author want you as the reader to experience. To put it in more formal terms, the pathos enhances the logos to create an Aristotelian unity.
8/19/2020 02:10:37 am
"Set and Setting"? Is Jason one of your Harvard grad students Tim Leary? The two hemispheres of your brain are Roddy McDowell and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in Hitchcock's See the Monkey Dance. In your fugue you are the girlfriend writing the letters. George and I have come to an agreement about your weekends. Nehmen Sie einen Break. Like David Crosby's Imaginary Cowboy Movie but less fun. Cue the theme from Mannix. There's a whole Lalo Schifrin goin' on.
8/19/2020 11:06:53 am
Hi Jason -
8/20/2020 07:55:03 am
Hahaha! I have to laugh at the idea that E.P. Grondine thinks there is money in writing a script. Do you know anything about producing film or TV? Even with well-known celebrities for characters, scriptwriters earn practically nothing even when their script is produced - and most don’t ever see the light of day.
8/20/2020 02:16:54 pm
Hi Max -
8/21/2020 10:26:28 am
Pretty sure Brando's not backing any projects these days but self-published (no one accepted their book) writers are definitely my goto resource on how to get a script, which apparently is what old people call a book, into production.
8/21/2020 05:07:57 pm
Hello Kent -
8/21/2020 07:36:49 pm
I don't know any young actors but maybe the informal network at The Shorteyes Trailer Park is better informed. A Brando biopic could be a good thing. You should consider pitching it. Someone with your people skills, well the sky's the limit. And by that I mean not being allowed on a plane might be a problem. Because of your people skills. But take a run at it, won't bother me.
Str8 Up Clueless
8/14/2020 06:55:58 pm
Delonge sounds like a Sunday morning televangelist. "Good wants 30,000 people to send me $500 seed money. This way the seed can grow and God will answer all your prayers."
8/15/2020 04:45:10 pm
"He even worked as a prostitute."
Respectable Who Are
8/19/2020 02:10:55 am
I think the point was the large sums of money Sal was able to charge for the menage a trois fantasy.
8/16/2020 05:07:24 pm
"The program discussed how Sal turned the one roll into a lifetime of homosexual debauchery and hardcore drugs."
8/19/2020 02:15:41 am
The proofreading fairy died of Covid.
8/15/2020 04:05:04 pm
Actor’s Studio was founded in 1947.
8/16/2020 05:13:09 pm
1947 was also the year Aleister Crowley died. His ashes were buried in New Jersey on the grounds of his disciple and successor Karl Germer. Like Kevin Bacon, you can trace connections between Crowley and any sort of bizarre figures and movements (e.g.; L. Ron Hubbard and Parsons).
8/16/2020 08:18:56 pm
You've answered the Zen Koan about "What is the sound of one hand..."
8/16/2020 09:55:26 pm
8/17/2020 10:51:24 am
Sometimes something can be shorter but somehow even more tedious. Why dont you try imitating the many visitors here who chose to play the quiet game instead of playing the role of annoying buzzing blowfly
8/17/2020 04:04:09 pm
Guy who quit a show and used "eating too much sushi" as an excuse says what?
8/17/2020 03:01:21 pm
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Therefore, I decline. Anyway, I worry more about plausible nightmares than unreal dreams. Good luck on eHarmony date with Supes, enlisting and chatting with Trump about UFOs. On other notes:
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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