Phil Spector and Tom Wolfe: Joined at the indictment?

Six months after Lana Clarkson was found dead of a gunshot blast to the face in Phil Spector's Alhambra mansion, Esquire published an interview with Spector that included an inflammatory quote. "She kissed the gun," Spector told the reporter. "I have no idea why - I never knew her, never even saw her before that night." The inflammatory assertion was blasted everywhere, beginning with Anderson Cooper reading out loud from an advance copy of the interview on CNN and carried in headlines across the blogosphere, presented as truth simply because it was uttered by Phil Spector. At the time, I thought Spector's language was suspect. If someone you didn't know came to your house and killed herself, wouldn't you be upset that they decided to check out in your living room? Wouldn't you say so? Wouldn't you express remorse that anyone who felt compelled to kill herself at the home of a stranger must have been terribly desperate? Wouldn't you at the very least deem it unwise to use callow language to describe the horrific thing that your houseguest did? If the Esquire interview is transcribed and published accurately, such questions were never asked of Phil Spector, and nor were they posed elsewhere, by any other reporter, in any of the publications that reprinted Spector's claim. To say that Lana Clarkson "kissed the gun" is to say so much more, and we will hopefully find out exactly what in the upcoming trial.

I've been covering the case since Clarkson died and I happen to have my own theory, which you can read about in my upcoming article called "Death Behind the Wall of Sound," which will appear in the 3/25 edition of the UK Independent. In the mean time, here's a sneak peak: the death of Lana Clarkson has a lot to do with Tom Wolfe (no, I'm not saying he was there that night, not physically anyway). Wolfe, as many of you know, is the guy who wrote "The Pump-House Gang," his inexplicably famous piece in which he predicted the death of surf culture in 1965 - perhaps not unexpected from someone who wore a linen suit instead of a wetsuit to the beach. Wolfe penned a previous bad call in 1964, this one a giddy profile of Phil Spector called "The First Tycoon of Teen" for the International Herald Tribune, failing to take critical aspects of Spector's boyhood into account and presenting, simply, a wild and crazy guy. Until recently, this piece served as the go-to piece on the man, spawning an Ozymandias of coverage in which hordes of unthinking scribes have taken everything Spector has ever said or done at face value, ignoring report after report of violence towards his colleagues, his ex-wife, and his girlfriends. Lana Clarkson "kissed the gun"? Sure, no problem. What effect might decades of Spector adoration have had on Clarkson? For the answer to this and other questions (like what might have happened on the night Clarkson died and how she was affected by a series of injuries in the months before her death), please read my piece next Sunday (I'll be linking to it on this site). In the mean time, read my New York Observer piece about how Phil Spector and Robert Blake are reverse, perhaps unwitting Gatsbys whose east-to-west family journeys spelled their doom, reprinted here.

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