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WEIRD SCENES Inside the Canyon: Jay’s Review

picJay Dyer
21st Century Wire

It seems more and more as if we are living in a bad B movie, replete with cheesy set pieces and a Casio keyboard score – and the reason for that is because we are.  We have focused on Hollywood and propaganda often at JaysAnalysis, but we have not looked at the music industry, aside from brief mentions and a few shows.  When it comes to the score for that B movie we all live in, the best analysis I’ve read in a good while is none other than recently deceased Dave McGowan’s excellent work, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream.  

I also have the honor of Amazon classing my book, Esoteric Hollywood, with McGowan’s, in the “readers also purchased” section.  I get emails on  daily basis requesting book recommendations (which is much harder to choose than you’d expect), so I think for the spirit of my site, no better book could be suggested for a reading list than Weird Scenes (aside from my own book, of course).

McGowan’s thesis is simple: The 1960s counter-culture movement was not what it appeared to be.  In a purple haze of pot smoke, free love, booze and LSD tabs, the fog of the 60s is believed by most baby-boomers to be a genuine (monstrous for faux conservatives) reaction against the system.  From student protests to politically active musicians, the anti-war, anti-establishment ethos of the 60s was, so the story goes, a natural, organic reaction to a hawkish, greedy corporate demon, embodied in “the man,” opposed by all those revolutionaries who love freedom, expressing themselves in the “arts.”  After reading McGowan’s analysis (a self-confessed fan of this era), it would appear the mainstream view is only slightly correct – some artists were political and genuinely anti-establishment, but the big names, and the movements as a whole, were promoted and directed by design, for large-scale social engineering.

McGowan begins his argumentation by pointing to Jim Morrison’s father, Navy Admiral George Stephen Morrison, who played a central role in the Gulf of Tonkin’s false flag event.  Morrison, curiously, avoided this association, stating his parents were dead, adding fuel to his mythical narrative of having no musical training and supposedly becoming a musical shaman following ghostly encounters and hallucinogenic trips.  While some of that may have been the case (such as the trips and witchcraft initiation, for example, as shown in Oliver Stone’s The Doors), the real story is likely much closer to McGowan’s analysis – Morrison was promoted and made into an icon by the system because of these high level connections.  However, being well-connected was not the only explanation – the establishment had a specific motive of derailing any legitimate anti-war activism or artwork, as well as moving the culture into a more degenerate state for social engineering.

60s "revolution."

60’s “Revolution”

Indeed, were the artists and activists of the 60s who became icons of anti-corporatism and fighting the man legitimate, would they have been given major record deals, airtime, major gigs, and expensive advertisements in mainstream magazines?  The mainstream narrative of the hippie movement breaks down, once one considers this angle, and McGowan ups the ante even further by noting the hippie movement did not begin at the popularly conceived Haight Ashbury District, but earlier in Laurel Canyon.  It’s the dark underground of Laurel Canyon where the nexus of Hollywood, the occult, the mob and the music industry collide in an orgiastic psychedelia, producing big acts like The Birds, the Mammas and the Pappas, Zappa, the Doors, and many more.

Further, Jim Morrison was not the only character with high level military intelligence family, Frank Zappa’s father worked for the military in biological warfare, and as I’ve discussed in relation to John Marks’ The CIA and Mind Control, LSD was directly associated with Fort Detrick and biological warfare programs.  “Managers” and “agents” like Herb Cohen were not merely industry fat cats, but mobsters (connected to Mickey Cohen), while players like John Phillips appear to have been part of CIA covert operations in Cuba.  The instances of these infamous details mount up in McGowan’s work, and eventually call into question the entire Laurel Canyon scene, replete with underground facilities and a massive, secret film production studio.

After noting Harry Houdini’s connection to Laurel Canyon and his role as a spy for Scotland Yard, McGowan reveals one of the best insights missed in most research – Laurel Canyon was home to one of the largest film production studios of its day – run by the Air Force. If that is hard to swallow, the pill becomes much bigger.  What would become known as Lookout Mountain Laboratory was originally envisioned as an air defense center.

Built in 1941 and nestled in two-and-a-half secluded acres off what is now Wonderland Park Avenue, the installation was hidden from view and surrounded by an electrified fence. By 1947, the facility featured a fully operational movie studio. In fact, it is claimed that it was perhaps the world’s only completely self-contained movie studio. With 100,000 square feet of floor space, the covert studio included sound stages, screening rooms, film processing labs, editing facilities, an animation department, and seventeen climate-controlled film vaults. It also had underground parking, a helicopter pad and a bomb shelter:

“Over its lifetime, the studio produced some 19,000 classified motion pictures – more than all the Hollywood studios combined (which I guess makes Laurel Canyon the real ‘motion picture capital of the world’). Officially, the facility was run by the U.S. Air Force and did nothing more nefarious than process AEC footage of atomic and nuclear bomb tests. The studio, however, was clearly equipped to do far more than just process film. There are indications that Lookout Mountain Laboratory had an advanced research and development department that was on the cutting edge of new film technologies. Such technological advances as 3-D effects were apparently first developed at the Laurel Canyon site. And Hollywood luminaries like John Ford, Jimmy Stewart, Howard Hawks, Ronald Reagan, Bing Crosby, Walt Disney and Marilyn Monroe were given clearance to work at the facility on undisclosed projects. There is no indication that any of them ever spoke of their work at the clandestine studio.

Lookout Mountain Laboratory/Studios.

Lookout Mountain Laboratory/Studios

The facility retained as many as 250 producers, directors, technicians, editors, animators, etc., both civilian and military, all with top security clearances – and all reporting to work in a secluded corner of Laurel Canyon. Accounts vary as to when the facility ceased operations. Some claim it was in 1969, while others say the installation remained in operation longer. In any event, by all accounts the secret bunker had been up and running for more than twenty years before Laurel Canyon’s rebellious teen years, and it remained operational for the most turbulent of those years.

The existence of the facility remained unknown to the general public until the early 1990s, though it had long been rumored that the CIA operated a secret movie studio somewhere in or near Hollywood. Filmmaker Peter Kuran was the first to learn of its existence, through classified documents he obtained while researching his 1995 documentary, “Trinity and Beyond.” And yet even today, some 15 years after its public disclosure, one would have trouble finding even a single mention of this secret military/intelligence facility anywhere in the ‘conspiracy’ literature.”1

Was this where the atomic bomb footage was filmed, and the so-called “moon landings”?  McGowan seems to think so, and when combined with his unpublished book Wagging the Moondoggie, he makes a convincing case.  The big names and players involved in this studio and its productions are astounding and cannot be overlooked, but what it demonstrates is a massive piece of the puzzle I’ve tried to highlight in my essays and articles – we do live in a giant B movie and books like McGowan’s and my own Esoteric Hollywood show the mechanics of how this hoodoo goes down.  This is just a taste – McGowan unpacks much, much more: Be sure to pick up a copy of McGowan’s book, as well as my own, available now for pre-order at Trine Day Publishers.


1 McGowan, Dave.  Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon. California: Headpress, 2014, pgs. 55-7.


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Jay Dyer is the author of the forthcoming title, Esoteric Hollywood: Sex, Cults and Symbols in Film from Trine Day.  Focusing on film, philosophy, geopolitics and all things esoteric, JaysAnalysis and his podcast, “Esoteric Hollywood,” investigates the deeper meanings between the headlines, exploring the hidden aspects of our sinister synthetic mass media matrix.

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