Review: Weird Scenes Inside The Canyon by David McGowan

June 22, 2014

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“Weird Scenes Inside The Canyon” by Dave McGowan has been a long time coming, as it was serialized first on the internet as Dave collected information and worked out the bugs. The intriguing subtitle is “Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & The Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream”, eluding to a time of change in the youth and music culture that may not have been so “organic” and may have been engineered.
McGowen walks us through the lives of rock stars such as Jim Morrison, David Crosby, Steven Stills, Frank Zappa and others that have direct family ties to the U.S. intelligence services.
In this wild and well-researched romp, Laurel Canyon itself becomes both actor and stage for the drug-fueled communal yet confrontational existence of the actors, musicians and criminals that infest the hillsides. Mcgowan busts some myths about the competence of the musicians (Crosby, for instance could barely play guitar) and introduces us to characters I never knew about. These include the original freaks; Vito Paulekas, his wife Szou and sidekick Carl Franzoni. They practically patented the entire hippie-as-freak scene, down to the gypsy clothing and wild gyrating dance scenes. This sideshow was a welcome accompanying to the stage music, which was still on training wheels.
But it wasn’t all fun and games; the dark heart of Laurel Canyon also brings us the murderous intent of Charles Manson and his “family”, who quickly embedded themselves like ticks draining the lifeblood of various wealthy actors and musicians. Most people don’t know that Manson was talented enough to almost get signed to record labels, and was considered to be a near genius by the likes of Neil Young and others. McGowan reminds us that for a decade or so California was ground zero for serial killers, which triangulates neatly in the shadow of intelligence agencies and apparent widespread incest allegedly practiced by what seems to be the entire population of the canyon.

I myself loved the tale of Laurel Canyon as told by McGowan, but some details may offend sensitive readers. It also makes one wonder what the surviving members of those canyon years will think of McGowan’s interpretation (Moon Zappa, among others). No lawsuits yet, I hope.

I would only have two items to suggest that would have made the book more useful, if not readable. I want to see footnotes when possible, and while McGowan provides a bibliography of articles, books and videos it is impossible to follow a paper trail for further research or reference material. Secondly, while McGowan draws heavily from his previous book on serial killers “Programmed To Kill”, the book ends on a dark note – which may be altogether appropriate.
But just for the sake of “the good times” it would have been nice to steer the tour bus back to the music and the freaks.
“Weird Scenes Inside The Canyon” was a great read, and I’m sure it will echo in the memories (or nightmares) of the people who lived, played or died there.

Dave McGowan’s website is linked HERE

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4 Responses to Review: Weird Scenes Inside The Canyon by David McGowan

  1. Drew Carter on June 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    I love the Above Review’s Smarmy Comment: “No lawsuits by the survivor’s yet”.. No Lawsuits because the book is full of FACTS… Geesh.. just because it destroys every Whimsical, Serendipitous story you were ever told by the Military Industrial Complex – Doesn’t mean it’s liable or lienable! Grow up, stop reading Rolling Stone, 17, and Family Circle.. Do some research.. does Dave have to spoon feed you?

    • Tex on February 12, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      “FACTS” do not preclude a lawsuit from being filed, Drew Carter. Anyone who believes they do is sadly misinformed about civil jurisprudence in America!

      Perhaps more incredible is your insinuation that Rolling Stone is somehow similar to 17 or family Circle magazine…

      I’m thinking that maybe you are the one who needs to grow up and “do some research.” Especially before you spout off in public.

  2. Jay on July 30, 2016 at 12:55 am

    Manson was a programmed multiple done in China Lake. The process church he was a part of moved to Southern Utah where it operates ostensibly an animal sanctuary but more likely a satanic store/ supplier for sacrifices both human and animal widely practiced. Manson was never on the scene of the Sharon Tate ritual killing btw. Of course Roman Polanski, pedophile in exile, directed snuff films for the elite and is therefore untouchable not unlike the beloved Woody Allen and other elite directors.

  3. Fayez Abedaziz on February 5, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Hello friends,
    I have read David’s book on the Canyon and the man tells it like it is.
    Having also done research on my own, particularly about the characters that lived there
    and their so-called influence on music, which was not much, and the mix of so many of these sleazy and dishonest people, there was indeed a darkness there.
    Booze, drug taking and dealing (see that phony asshole John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas and his non-punishment for illegal drug transactions) the use of under age runaway girls and on and on. Most of the ‘musicians’ there were lousy human beings.

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