Camp David


By • Nov 1st, 2001 •

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The events of September 11th made this column almost irrelevant as everything except the basic fundamentals of living seemed trivial and ultimately without meaning. Fortunately, life must go on and I feel that in order for us to truly persevere in this moment of darkness we must carry on with our lives as best we know how. It is in that spirit that I begin this column for this Brave New World.

The Silverlake Film Festival was a welcome event coming when it did and it reunited me with an old colleague, filmmaker Kenneth Anger. After seeing him at the closing night party on the grounds of the fabulously decaying mansion of silent film great Antonio Moreno, we exchanged phone numbers and promised to catch up the next day. Moreno’s estate, now called The Paramour, bedazzles the visitor with a spectacular 360-degree view of the City of the Angels.

Kenneth called me promptly the next morning and invited me to visit him on what turned out to be my birthday and the story he was compelled to relate not only is the most bizarre take on the WTC disaster but confirms one’s belief in prophecy this side of Nostradamus.

It is a well-documented fact that for a period of time in the late Sixties, Kenneth Anger was the official astrologer and flavor of the month for the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger composed music for one of Kenneth’s films (INVOCATION OF MY DEMON BROTHER, 1969) and Keith Richards relied on Kenneth’s reputation as a Magus. Keith’s lady, Anita Pallenberg, was already considered a black queen in occult circles but did not impress Kenneth in the least.

The story I am about to tell involves a weekend in late 1969 in which Anita was out of the UK. Kenneth and Keith were on their own at the palatial estate Richards leased at the time.

Keith owned a large black alchemist’s stone, smooth and shiny, with a depth that depending on how stoned one was could produce a hallucinogenic effect. Both men were using opium and perhaps a bit of LSD and Keith decided to work on a song that had been overwhelming his subconscious. He told Kenneth “I’m writing this song for you although after it’s finished the tabloids will say it was for Anita. But you will always know better.”

As Keith worked on committing this tune to paper, the two men, very high, began staring into the onyx stone and it was at this point that Keith remarked he was seeing drops of blood, bright red drops of human blood accentuated by the velvet blackness of the stone. Keith then went into a vision and told Kenneth that at the beginning of the New Millennium, a terrible catastrophe would occur. He saw high towers raining blood but could make no more sense of it except to say it was in the distant future, and that the 21st Century would have a very dark cloud over its beginnings.

At this point Richards returned to the song he was working on. And Kenneth would never forget what his friend had seen in his vision.

Flash forward to Tuesday morning, September 11th. Kenneth awoke at 6:30 AM (Los Angeles time) and as was his ritual, welcomed the sun. He felt compelled to go to his Aleister Crowley Tarot deck. At this point, Kenneth reminded me that the Tarot cannot tell your own future but on a broader scale can predict world events. As he laid the cards before him, The Tower appeared followed ultimately by the Death card.

Kenneth has never owned a television in his life. But at that moment he knew he had to be near one. He raced down the street to a little market where he purchased his daily breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice and knew the owners kept a small television over the cash register. It was there in the early hours of September 11th that Kenneth Anger realized the prophecy in Keith Richards’ landmark tune that achieved worldwide acclaim as “Ruby Tuesday.”

Mann’s Chinese is not the only location in Tinseltown for immortalizing one’s footprints and signatures. The Vista Theatre, a Los Angeles landmark from the Twenties, has been lovingly restored to its original luster and has been a functioning cinema for some time. For the second year in a row it has created its own ceremony by preserving handprints and signatures of such off-the-wall celebrities as Kenneth Anger, Mary Woronov, Penelope Spheeris, Ray Harryhausen, Elvira (Mistress of the Dark) and as of the other day, the cast of both HOUSE and NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS. The klieg lights scanned the night as Lara Parker, David Selby and John Karlen held court in front of the Vista. The theatre and its foreground are Egyptian Deco in design and look absolutely ‘breathtaking.’ It was the 30th Anniversary for NIGHT OF DARK SHADOWS and since Halloween was less than a week away the fans stood knee-deep in the evening to see their favorites arrive by limousine and get funky in the cement. It took Selby and company three tries in the gooey stuff to get it right. The year before was the 30th Anniversary for HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS and with the exception of Jonathan Frid, all were present to do the honors for the first year that the Vista became its own ceremonial shrine.

Sadly Hollywood loses yet another unique personality in the untimely death of actress/comedienne Pat Ast. She was best known for her appearances in such underground fare as Warhol’s HEAT with Joe Dallesandro, REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS (both on stage and in film) and the most unlikely spokesperson for the designer Halston. Pat Ast started in New York and after achieving notoriety there came to Hollywood ready to divide and conquer. She quickly became a staple at parties and befriended both Divine and director/actor Paul Bartel. Pat Ast will be remembered by her legacy of humor and outrageousness.

As we await the opening of Anne Rice’s second film adaptation of her vampire series, QUEEN OF THE DAMNED (incorporating THE VAMPIRE LESTAT), the star of the film Aliyah was tragically killed in a plane crash making the opening more macabre than anything the author could have dreamed of. This film has had so many problems (not just with the script) but with the legion of fans that want it to be on the same level with INTERVIEW. Yet word of mouth has been less than enthusiastic. It seems the studio skimped on the effects and also credibility in taking on two novels and condensing them into one less than coherent piece.

The winner of the year 2001 DVD competition has to be Arts & Entertainment’s spectacular megabox complete collection of THE PRISONER, transferred from impeccable elements with production values beyond compare. It is an utter delight to have this cult classic in its entirety for the first time in the DVD format. Those of you that can’t get enough of Patrick McGoohan will also be pleased that A & E is at the same time releasing SECRET AGENT/DANGER MAN in sets of two discs at a time. Set One is a revelation as these early episodes were not broadcast in the US and are being viewed for the first time in the finest way possible. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest video store and do yourself a favor and grab these treasures while they last! Oh, by the way, to my own Miss Lemon, thanks again for bringing Christmas a little early this year (if you know what I mean!)

Special kudos to Criterion Collection for its definitive release of HAXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES. The prints shown include the original with color tints as well as the one narrated by William Burroughs with a modernist score to keep those goblins hip! Silent Danish director Benjamin Christiansen puts his own indelible stamp on the Horned One. This is easily hands-down the most bizarre must-have of all the silent films currently available on DVD.

Yours Truly is represented at the end of this year by appearances in Columbia/Sony’s documentaries included in the DVDs of William Castle’s HOMICIDAL, MR. SARDONICUS and STRAIT JACKET with the Divine Joan due out early 2002. Also following up the Halloween release of BONES starring rapper Snoop Dog and exploitation queen Pam Grier will be the DVD release of the film with a documentary about Italian gothic horror, all of this from the stable of Automat Pictures and Jeffrey Schwartz. Thanks guys for making my return to L.A. so memorable and spooky!

My last words to those of you who have not decided whether or not to travel during this Holiday season, take the advice of CAMP DAVID and go see David Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DRIVE and then get on that plane and do a Naomi Watts and leave your fear behind you. As for me, I’m going to start the New Year with a trip to the Big Apple so remember, we’re all in this together and let’s not let anything spoil that! See you in 2002!

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