January 2, 2012

John Gilmore: Laid Bare

John Gilmore 1954
2012 and my goal is to watch less TV and read more.  And write more.
I've always been interested in many things, and usually have a few books on the go.
Which has come to mean, I have a few books that I am trying to read, but nothing that has grabbed me by the balls and forced me to turn pages, tuning out the rest of the world.
Because that is what good writing does: it inhabits you, it intoxicates, it drugs you into believing you are in another world.
About a week ago, I started reading Laid Bare by John Gilmore.

Gilmore was an actor back in the 50's.  He "knew" James Dean.  In the Biblical sense.  He doesn't hold back; you will probably learn more about various Celebs than you bargained for.
Gary Indiana says," I read Laid Bare straight through with stunned fascination...The opening chapter is really a masterpiece all by itself, it recreates an entire era.."
Genesis P-Orridge says" This is a graphic vision of Hollywood- a dark, new existentialism full of grossly compelling characters whose self respect, sincerity and sense of identity are as thin as the slime that seems to cover their every activity.  Magnificently necessary!"
In his chapter Confessions of an L.A. Son, it starts out with " 'I've had my cock sucked by five of the big names in Hollywood," James Dean said to me one night on the set of Rebel without a Cause.....How long could it go on? That's what I wanted to know. The answer was it could go on until nothing was left, until they had what they wanted and nothing was left."
Gilmore talks intimately about Hank Williams, Janis Joplin, James Dean, Marilyn, Lenny Bruce and other icons of American tragedy.  He was there in the front seat of that particular time of myth making.
America eats its young, and Gilmore gives us the straight up restaurant review of each meal.  It's hard boiled, and boiled down to its very essense, which is more than just gossip.  He captures what seems to be the sense of the time.
Gilmore has also written quite a few true crime books.  One is called Severed about the infamous Black Dahlia case.  Does he get more into it than James Ellroy, and his mother/whore fascination with Elizabeth Short?  We will have to read it and find out.  He also did a book on the Manson Family, and other lurid tales of Californication and madness.
Does he remind me of anyone?  Our own John, John Armstrong, who's book Guilty of Everything is about to be made into a Hollywood movie with Jay Baruchel as the young Buck Cherry.
Will they "ruin" the truth of the memoir?  Who knows.   Is any memoir all true?  I've explained my thoughts on this subject many times, most recently just this last month in another blog post.  What binds them is the fact that you can't put this stuff down; it almost reads itself.  The honesty and revelations are simultaneously presented in a way that invites the reader to have an eye witness window to times that will never repeat themselves.  "I can only give you everything," John Armstrong exclaims in one of his songs.  Who are we to ask for more?

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