Conspiracy Theories: Stephen King, Billy Joel, Stanley Kubrick and John Lennon

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK. It also marks the beginning of a Golden Age of conspiracy theories that continues to thrive to this day.
Non-fiction edition of the Warren ReportMy first sense of the reach of conspiracy culture occurred while listening to a Woody Allen standup album back in the 80s. He quipped that he was “working on a non-fiction version of the Warren report.” Though Allen’s comedy never represented the pinnacle of the mainstream, his one-liner was indicative of the general acceptance and shift in attitudes regarding the possibility of a conspiracy behind the president’s death. The album was released in 1968. Imagine if Lenny Bruce, who was followed by the FBI and hounded by legal issues for trumped up obscenities charges, had made the same “subversive” gag prior to his death in 1966. His untimely death would have been even more untimely. Maybe it was.

Remember the dude who used to hang around Lombard in the Marina toting a sign that explained how Stephen King killed John Lennon? Apparently, this was on orders from Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon (who else?!) who communicated to the then-unknown King through magazines. This is according to New York Magazine, which could muster little else on the matter besides a side-by-side photo spread of King and Lennon’s assassin Mark David Chapman (why do assassins always have three names?).conspiracy131118_stephenking_560

Frankly, a better conspiracy theory would have been that J.D. Salinger was in on killing the Beatle, having written Catcher in the Rye specifically to program the impressionable mind of the future gunman to kill the rock star (in real life, Chapman declared the book was his “statement” on the matter). The fact that rock-n-roll didn’t even exist as such in 1951 when the book was first published would be of no consequence to proponents of this theory because Lennon did exist then. He was 11. And had to be stopped.

John Lennon Irony

 

Chapman’s obsession with The Catcher in the Rye became an unfortunate touchstone in Mel Gibson’s schlockbuster flick, Conspiracy, in which he is tracked by evil government forces via electronic sales records of his purchases of the Salinger title. Bookstores wish their sales tracking systems were that sophisticated. Moreover, is Mel Gibson even allowed in bookstores? I submit that if Gibson, who is prone to frothing at the mouth with offensive invectives, strolled into Sonoma’s own Readers’ Books, proprietor Andy Weinberger wouldn’t let the actor leave without his rabies shots.

Of course the only thing more fun than reading conspiracy theories is making them up oneself. Here’s one I’ve been working on and will preview for you: I’ve been noticing depictions of masks on beds. And by mask, I don’t mean the “sleeping masks” flight attendants dole out on international flights, or those Darth Vader-esque sleep apnea masks. The leitmotif of my week has been images of Venetian masquerade-style masks – in beds, in old movies and records. Why? What do they portend?

Bed Mask ConspiracyThe most famous is perhaps the grim countenance atop a pillow in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, which I recently saw clips of while watching Room 237, a documentary love letter to Kubrick conspiracies (he helped fake the moon landing and admitted as much through Native American symbols in The Shining, which incidentally was based on a Stephen King novel. But you knew that).

Then I was pawing through some vinyl and discovered Billy Joel’s album, The Stranger, which has a similar image of a mask on a bed. One of the tracks is titled “Vienna.” Where does Rhapsody: A Dream Novel by Arthur Schnitzler, the source material for Eyes Wide Shut, take place? Vienna. Coincidence? Or is Kubrick trying to tell us something about Billy Joel who name-checks The Catcher in the Rye in his tune “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” If Billy Joel et al didn’t start the fire, then who did? Perhaps we should ask the author of … Firestarter. Stephen King. See how this works? You can play too. All you need is an Internet connection and no life. Go!

Via SonomaNews

Twitter & Maltese Falcon Take Flight on Same Day

Did anyone else notice that San Francisco’s two favorite birds both got hawked yesterday?

SF-based Twitter flew the coop with its soaring IPO while the Maltese Falcon, the titular bird in Dashiell Hammett’s novel and John Huston’s big screen adaptation, went on the auction block.

“The infamous black bird prop from the 1941 Humphrey Bogart noir classic is up for bidding from Guernsey’s auction house in a highly anticipated sale,” read a story in the NY Daily News. Meanwhile, Twitter’s initial public offering was minting many a millionaire.

Perhaps they should have coordinated. Then one of ?them could cash out a bit of scratch and purchase the dingus and return it to its spiritual home of San Francisco. I won’t bother with the “two birds and one Biz Stone” gag nor brag about knowing why the caged bird sings (spoiler alert: he sings of freedom). Instead, I’ll just imagine the inevitable mashup of Nick Bilton’s excellent history Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal?with Hammett’s Sam Spade.

Jack Dorsey laughed. His laughter was brief and somewhat bitter. “That is good,” he said,?“coming from you. What have you given me besides money? Have you given me any of your?confidence? any of the truth? any help in helping you? Haven’t you tried to buy my loyalty with?money and nothing else? Well, if I’m peddling it, why shouldn’t I let it go to the highest bidder?”

The rest, of course, is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Twitter & Maltese Falcon Take Flight on Same Day

Did anyone else notice that San Francisco’s two favorite birds both got hawked yesterday?
SF-based Twitter flew the coop with its soaring IPO while the Maltese Falcon, the titular bird in Dashiell Hammett’s novel and John Huston’s big screen adaptation, went on the auction block.

“The infamous black bird prop from the 1941 Humphrey Bogart noir classic is up for bidding from Guernsey’s auction house in a highly anticipated sale,” read a story in the NY Daily News. Meanwhile, Twitter’s initial public offering was minting many a millionaire.

Perhaps they should have coordinated. Then one of  them could cash out a bit of scratch and purchase the dingus and return it to its spiritual home of San Francisco. I won’t bother with the “two birds and one Biz Stone” gag nor brag about knowing why the caged bird sings (spoiler alert: he sings of freedom). Instead, I’ll just imagine the inevitable mashup of Nick Bilton’s excellent history Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal with Hammett’s Sam Spade.

Jack Dorsey laughed. His laughter was brief and somewhat bitter. “That is good,” he said, “coming from you. What have you given me besides money? Have you given me any of your confidence? any of the truth? any help in helping you? Haven’t you tried to buy my loyalty with money and nothing else? Well, if I’m peddling it, why shouldn’t I let it go to the highest bidder?”

The rest, of course, is the stuff that dreams are made of.

All Saints Day: Simon Templar is The Saint

Because you have nothing better to do on All Saints Day, here’s a selection of the opening credits of The Saint, a Brit TV spy thriller starring a pre-Bond Roger Moore as a suave modern Robin Hood known as Simon Templar. He is described by his creator, author Leslie Charteris,?as a “buccaneer in the suits of Savile Row, amused, cool, debonair, with hell-for-leather blue eyes and a saintly smile…” Though you wouldn’t know that from his graphic design.

The Saint boasts quite a mass media pedigree. He first appeared in books penned by Charteris dating back to the late 20s, which spawned comics and radio plays, a stage play and sundry early film adaptations from the 30s onwards.

The Saint hit its zenith in a parade of TV versions that began in the early 60s and has been reincarnated at regular intervals to our present day (Moore himself is a producer on the latest, yet-to-be-released version). And lest we forget, ?Val Kilmer appeared as Templar in a 90s film version for some reason.

Though not as popular in the States as it is in the UK, The Saint?is easily one of the most successful media franchises ever created that has spent, like, zero on logo design. A stick figure with a halo. Somehow it works as Templar’s calling card. As Da Vinci said??Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.?