I’m reading this book. I’m reading this book that I got from the little library kiosk a few doors down from my house, a book that I didn’t know anything about but I picked it because I recognized the name of the author. My roommate in college liked this author a lot when we were in college, but I never really got into him. I picked up this book because I just started this office job where they have an hour lunch and I don’t really know what to do with myself having an hour lunch unless I want to go walking down to see the fake shark down the way, which I have done a couple of times already. This office job is at a movie studio, and my job is clearing music that the movie studio owns for use in other projects. Sometimes I clear music related to that fake shark but mostly other stuff. A couple of weeks ago I cleared something from Conan the Barbarian for use in some time-shifty scifi TV show.
I need something to read at lunch and I also need something to listen to on the commute, and my roommate from college, who is still a very close friend, tells me that this podcast about old-time Hollywood has just started posting some new episodes. All of the new episodes are about Charles Manson. This is interesting to me because Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor in the Manson murder trials and author of Helter Skelter (the book about the murders) just died, but this podcast series on Charles Manson started a week before he died. It’s also interesting to me because the first words on the first page of Helter Skelter are my birthday. August 9, 1969. When Vincent Bugliosi came to my college campus to speak, I got him to autograph my copy of Helter Skelter. I don’t think I said anything about my birthday, but I might have because that’s the sort of thing I could have done back in college.
Anyway, I’ve been listening to this podcast about the Manson murders on my commute to the movie studio. I am working clearing music in a building they have called John Ford, after one of the iconic directors associated with this movie studio. This is interesting to me because one of John Ford’s most famous movies is My Darling Clementine, and Darling Clementine is the name of the first album my band put out in the mid-’90s. A band I was in with my former college roommate. Also, in the mid-’90s when I was working in a video store, this guy who had been on about nine posters in my bedroom when I was in high school came into the video store and asked where the John Ford movies were. I was totally floored to be talking to this guy who had been all over my high school bedroom but I also couldn’t understand him through his British accent so I had to keep asking him what he was asking for. Johhhhn Forrrd. Johhhhn Forrrd. I wasn’t dumb about John Ford – I had been a film major in college – but I couldn’t understand him. He clarified with a film that John Ford had directed: The Molly Maguires*. This last point I am putting in here so you know I am not lying about the rest of this.
So I am working in John Ford clearing music and on my lunch break I am starting to read this book. This book is about some guy who travels to Hollywood because he’s a film freak, and he winds up in Hollywood on August 9, 1969 and he gets picked up a few days later by the cops as a suspect in the Tate (Manson) murders. He gets out of that, and then he gets some work as a set carpenter for films, and he has a weird encounter with a burglar who winds up talking a lot about John Ford and My Darling Clementine, and then after a big earthquake he meets some bearded fat surfer guy with a lot of opinions identified in the book as the Viking.
I immediately know who this guy is, even though he is identified only as the Viking. He is John Milius. John Milius, who went on to direct Conan the Barbarian. I know this because I met John Milius in college when I was a film major, and he talked a lot about surfing and he had a beard and he was fat. I read further on in the book and now he is being referred to as John. Well, then.
I come back from reading this book at lunch back to my desk, and the guy who I share an office with starts playing a song over and over for the next couple of days. Because I signed a confidentiality agreement for this job I cannot explain why he is playing this song over and over, but I think I can say that it was for work reasons. And the song is “Helter Skelter” by the Beatles.
So now I’m expecting something else to happen to tie all of this together. Either I’m going to meet the writer of this book or there’s going to be a big earthquake very soon.
*Actually, Martin Ritt. Why did he say John Ford?