California gothic?
April 23, 2009 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I really enjoyed the "You're as Cold as Ice" segment of This American Life's "Mistakes Were Made" show - can anyone recommend other documentaries / books / articles about the creepy / gothic side of California counterculture and technofuturism in the 60s and 70s?
posted by ryanshepard to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I heard that story on TAL too. It reminded me a great deal of The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank by David Plotz. This is another case where cold storage plays a big part in the story.
posted by kimdog at 12:37 PM on April 23, 2009

Turn Off Your Mind is a great read.
posted by bunnytricks at 12:48 PM on April 23, 2009

Best answer: If you're willing to push your time period back a few decades, there's always Strange Angel.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:39 PM on April 23, 2009

The epitome of California gothic is Joan Didion's book The White Album.
posted by junkbox at 1:43 PM on April 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone's suggestions. I've read The White Album, Helter Skelter, and - I think - most of this "hits", so what I'm mainly looking for are out-of-print / small press / more obscure things that I might have overlooked.

Halloween Jack - Strange Angel looks right on the money, time frame aside.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:49 PM on April 23, 2009

Seconding The Genius Factory, one of the best non-fiction books of the last five years.
posted by escabeche at 2:03 PM on April 23, 2009

Have you seen the HBO television series, Six Feet Under? It's creepy, gothic, and set in California.
posted by swellingitchingbrain at 7:20 PM on April 23, 2009

Best answer: In the early 1970s, the Fugs' Ed Sauders holed up in the old Tropicana Motel on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood to interview every freak he could find about the Manson clan. "The Family" tells Charlie's story from the freak's perspective.
posted by doncoyote at 11:14 PM on April 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: swellingitchingbrain: I enjoyed the first season of Six Feet Under, but lost interest as it devolved into the usual "gratuitous f-bombs and sex - because we're HBO!" nonsense.

I'm more interested in the extremes of the counterculture and (for lack of a better word) technofuturism that obviously took root so solidly in California in the 60s and 70s here, and in what it is about CA culturally and historically that make it such a fertile ground for high, unsettling weirdness.

doncoyote: I'm definitely going to pick up a copy of "The Family" - somehow managed to overlook it, even being a Fugs fan.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:19 AM on April 24, 2009

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