Abducted In Plain Sight

Did you watch this?

Documentaries have flourished in the Netflix era. And I must say, I love a good one, since truth is stranger than fiction, and ultimately more believable. (I know that sounds obvious, but we read fiction for the truth embodied therein. But when you encounter the unvarnished truth it takes you aback, and makes you question all your preconceptions. THIS REALLY HAPPENED? And the funny thing is non-fiction so rarely contains truth, essence, the nuggets.)

Anyway, this film was made in 2017. Why did it not get distribution for years?

Kinda like Malcolm Gladwell says in “Outliers,” timing is key.

But I feel like I just spent ninety minutes on weekend CNBC/MSNBC or “20/20,” where they have these true crime specials with heavy music that you watch once and then never tune in again.

But “Abducted In Plain Sight” is different because it happened TWICE?

I know, I know, you could consider that a spoiler, but it was in all the reviews.

Bottom line, there’s a manipulative child molester and…

Forget that the kid is susceptible, so are the parents!

You’re watching this flick and wondering what they were thinking. Kinda like you go to a horror movie and yell out to the soon to be dead to WATCH OUT!

But we don’t expect people to be so evil.

And… Does the fact that they’re LDS and live in Pocatello make a difference?

I’ve been to Pocatello. In today’s cheap flight era, where you go to the destination and don’t waste any time driving in between, most people have not. But there’s a vast swath of the west that is relatively uninhabited where real people live and those on the coasts have no idea what transpires there. Used to be they were somewhat off the grid, with three TV networks and nothing else, but now there’s cable/satellite everywhere and high speed internet too but still…

Those places are different.

I lived in Utah. The Mormons look after each other. And they take family and business very seriously. That’s the difference between the people in this doc and those shows on weekend television, these people are not poor. And there have been so many stories about the fact that Mormons win reality competition shows because they know how to get along in large groups, i.e. families.

But still…

The smaller the town, the more people you know. Cities are faceless, that’s one of their appeals. Everybody’s so busy going somewhere that they don’t want to get bogged down with personal baggage. The model here is Madonna, how she kept graduating from/using one person and then another, moving up the food chain to a pedestal where she’s all alone. That’s why she’s clueless, she’s now got no frame of reference. She’s hooked on the adoration and the status but those are empty constructs.

In other words, life is more real in Pocatello than Hollywood.

But why did these people keep letting the offender in?

We had close family friends. But we knew when to say no. There were boundaries. But the level of trust here…

But the perp was manipulative. My father taught me to keep an eye out. But maybe I ended up suspicious of everyone, to my detriment. You’ve got to have a little trust in this world…

And then there’s the issue of the perp getting the parents to do things against their nature. Seems unlikely, but only if you’re sheltered. We’re all in situations where we wonder, if we back out are we missing out?

And then the brainwashing of the girl, with all the alien stuff.

Then again, the Angel Moroni is supposed to have been the last person to write in the golden plates that Joseph Smith discovered and translated and if you believe that…

You’re probably not an atheist.

Once you start believing there’s a little man in the sky who knows whether you’re naughty or nice, anything is possible.

But still, I recommend this show.

It’s no “Three Identical Strangers,” but you don’t have to leave home to watch it.

Oh, that’s right, you can see the triplet movie on demand if you’re willing to endure CNN’s commercials.

Or you can hop on to Netflix, spend ninety minutes with the Brobergs and then move on to Ted Bundy.

Really? I lived through that. But I didn’t know the Broberg story.

I’m glad I now do.

Beware.

P.S. The police can’t protect you. Sure, the Brobergs did their best to thwart the justice system’s mechanics, but if someone is out to get you, it’s rare the police or FBI can keep you safe. When someone tells you they’re gonna kill you, they just might.

Abducted In Plain Sight Trailer

Books

I read two books in two days. Each was unputdownable in its own way.

The first was “Normal People” by Sally Rooney. She was heavily hyped in the “New Yorker” about a month ago, so I read her first book, 2017’s “Conversations With Friends,” and Daniel Glass sent me her second, “Normal People,” from Claridge’s in London, since it is unavailable in the States until April. I wonder if that’s because they’re gonna change it, eliminate the Britishisms. And speaking of Britishisms, you MUST read the story about Dan Mallory in the “New Yorker,” they’ve got a soft paywall and the article is long but it’s all about duplicity. I might be the only person who didn’t love his book “The Woman in the Window,” written under the nom de plume A.J. Finn, then again, did Mallory/A.J. Finn write the book at all? This is a funny world we live in, where facts hide in plain sight but untruths rule because nobody checks them. Kinda like the “Times” expose on Trump’s taxes. The Grey Lady admitted it had been snookered, had never done the research. And here’s the point where I mention Maureen Dowd’s piece on Michael Jackson today, she’s being inundated with naysayers, saying MJ is pure and the HBO doc is heresy. But that’s the world we now live in, one where facts don’t matter and it’s about what team you’re on.

Anyway, I was riveted by “Normal People” until the relationship…

Let’s just say it got a bit unbelievable. But Rooney does capture the ethos of the millennials. She speaks in today’s language, she gets the angst right, and I’d be surprised if it’s not thinly-veiled autobiography, kinda like Pam Houston’s “Cowboys Are My Weakness,” which was my second favorite book of the nineties, which is why I’m now reading her “Deep Creek,” which is non-fiction. And I was yearning for story, for fiction, which is why I interrupted my reading of “Deep Creek” with “Normal People,” but the truth is I think Houston is a better writer than Rooney, she’s a bit more honest even though her time has passed.

Kinda like that of John Simon.

He tracked me down months ago to see if I’d read his memoir, “Truth, Lies & Hearsay.” And I was interested, because of his credits, but he kinda disappeared, and blamed it all on techno-ignorance, but his book finally arrived and I read it in a matter of hours, riveted, because of the story.

You see Simon’s name was in the credits.

And I figured he was another puffed-up oldster, smoking a pipe and living on the fumes of yesteryear.

But that is not the case. Simon is vibrant and alive. Irreverent. His book reads like a long conversation late at night.

And he tells you how he made that Big Brother “live” album, and those first two Band albums too.

If you were around, if those records mean much to you, you’ll eat this up.

Now this is a self-published book with some mistakes, but the story shines through. Of a guy from Norwalk, Connecticut who used creativity to get ahead. That’s how he got into Princeton, based on the musical he created in high school.

You see first and foremost Simon is a musician.

And he’s old. After graduating from college he got a gig at Columbia Records pre-Beatles, and he started producing before the youthquake hit. He’d record Original Cast Albums on Sunday and they’d be shipped on Tuesday.

And then he fell in with Albert Grossman…

Well, after working with the Cyrkle and Simon & Garfunkel.

We need a definitive bio on Grossman. Without him, Dylan is not a legend, Peter, Paul & Mary don’t exist, but the acts get all the credit and the manager is forgotten. And Simon hints that Grossman loved money more than truth, but Albert made things happen.

But when he died and royalties came from Capitol instead of Bearsville, Simon was cut out. That’s right, he doesn’t get paid on those Band albums. This was back before acts were savvy, when the business was developing.

Simon pins it to the Beatles and electric guitars and multi-track recording.

Everybody picked up an axe. The technology let you experiment.

That’s what’s going on with streaming today. You can release as much or as little as you want to whenever you want to. Meanwhile, acts with old mind-sets are still releasing an album to play into the hands of print and radio which mean so much less than ever before.

So if you want to know how those Band records were made…

This is the best explanation I’ve found. Because Simon was there and the writing is not dry.

And when his moment is past, Simon takes a gig playing the piano in a restaurant.

That’s entertainment fame. It’s not linear. Your moment passes, and then you’re forgotten, or playing your old hits forever.

Now I’m gonna finish Houston’s book.

And I’m wondering whether I should get out, engage more. Watch television. Be part of the conversation.

Then again, Simon says he never liked to go out to hear live music, unless he was working on it. Used to be an A&R guy was the producer, now he’s a guy telling you to make it more commercial and keep it under budget.

And I really don’t expect anybody who wasn’t there to care.

But if you were…

“Normal People”

“A Suspense Novelist’s Trail Of Deceptions-Dan Mallory, who writes under the name of A.J. Finn, went to No. 1 with his debut thriller, ‘The Woman in the Window.’ His life contains even stranger twists”

“Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country”

“Truth, Lies & Hearsay: A Memoir Of A Musical Life In & Out Of Rock And Roll”

Amazon

Corporations are the enemy.

I would have expected this message to come from the arts first. But the arts have been infiltrated like PBS. Whether it be corporations supporting that which the public does not, or musicians sucking up to the man to get paid.

But AOC doesn’t get paid. She was a bartender before.

I didn’t see this coming. The youth stole America from the man in the sixties and then retreated after Kent State, licking their wounds. Then Reagan legitimized greed and for forty years we’ve seen a separation between corporations and the regular folk, between rich and poor, the income inequality gap keeps widening and we’re told to pay fealty to the “job creators” as we lower their taxes and incentivize them while they laugh all the way to the bank.

Then again, it was Mario Savio and the rest of the student protesters who ignited the sixties, the musicians came later, in an era where you didn’t think you could make that much money. Actually, the money came later, with albums and 90/10 live deals. But music reaches people better than speech, can you say “Eve Of Destruction” or “Ohio”?

But for the past few decades its been about sponsorship in the music business. Get some of that corporate money. Whether it be the Amex or Citi pre-sale or the whiskey or telco signage. Acts thought there was no cost. Never mind the chilling effect, they’ve been left behind, lost to the change of time as the wheels of society keep grinding.

Trump illuminated the change. That America wasn’t what the pundits and media said it was. Instead, there were millions of voters disenchanted with the way things were going who were angry that they were left behind in an era of globalization. Sure, they liked their flat screens and smartphones assembled elsewhere, but they were wary of not having jobs, angry at those who took them away, blaming not the corporations themselves as much as the foreigners and immigrants.

And then came the Trump blowback. When the enlightened youngsters were sick of their forefathers selling out to the middle, and the aforementioned corporations. Yes, it’s a left and right issue, both take the corporate money, are beholden to the man. But the youngsters…we’ve been reading about their college debt, their inheritance of the national debt and their lack of opportunity for years, but like digital photography, it took this long to reach maturation, Kodak went out of business overnight, as did the old way of thinking of things, the old guard and the corporations.

First it was #MeToo. They went after untouchable men who were powerful icons. The DAs didn’t believe them, odds were stacked against them. But one after another “legends” fell. From Bill O’Reilly to Harvey Weinstein to Charlie Rose…the most trusted men in America weren’t. And the strange thing is they were not missed when they were gone. Ratings for the “Today Show” held steady without Matt Lauer.

But prognosticators believed the sexual harassment kerfuffle was contained, that it was a limited fire, not a conflagration, boy were they wrong.

There are a lot of things that don’t make sense. Like the carried interest rule. And government incentives.

Hollywood is the best place to make movies, because of the weather and the location of infrastructure. But now production has waned as filmmakers chase credits across the nation. They’re laughing, but when the credits dry up, the state’s business craters.

An opinion piece in the “New York Times” claims this is the way it’s been since the thirties, when companies moved south for the money and lack of unions. And sure, the past is prologue, but it’s not set in stone. Why are we paying these wealthy entities to come? If they want to move, money should be no part of it. Kinda like sports. Turns out the stadiums don’t pay for themselves, best the billionaire owners build them themselves, as Kroenke is doing in Los Angeles.

The wheel is turning.

As for tax rates… Why do corporations end up paying less than the top rate, if they pay anything at all? Sure, the rank and file is unsophisticated, thinking a 70% income tax rate would be from dollar one and apply to them, just like the “Death Tax,” but the truth is there are smart youngsters, who do know they’re being scammed, and they’re informing their constituents, and the whole world is changing as the old guard is clueless.

It is not business as usual in America anymore. The youth may not have money, but that does not mean they’re unintelligent, without the power of reasoning. It no longer adds up. Corporations are not people. PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE!

Then again, Depeche Mode said that as country artists work to blend products into their songs.

We haven’t discovered a way to break Mark Zuckerberg’s hegemony, but we’re working on it. It’s not gonna come from D.C., too wowed by the success and the money.

As for Cuomo and DeBlasio negotiating in secret… Homey don’t play that no more. The internet is all about sunlight. And if you tell someone what’s best for them they question it.

And what is the price? The rank and file are sick of paying the price for these corporations.

This is a wake-up call for all of America. This is not an isolated event.

Now we’ve got pushback.

Tread lightly, for your footing may be shaky.

As for musicians…

They seem to be the last to know.

Ryan Adams

Then there were cellphone cameras.

Despite Cameron Crowe depicting the backstage life of a rock star as a pajama party, the truth was completely the opposite. Flawed men abusing women.

You’d land in a town, play a show, and there would be groupies willing to service you. They wanted a piece of stardom, they wanted a story. And some got it.

And then the boys were gone.

I know, I know, you can’t say the girls were eager, you can’t say they were willing participants, but if you were there you know that’s the truth. You’re living in the middle of nowhere, Sweet Connie in Arkansas, going nowhere, and then a world famous band shows up in your town? This was pre-internet, pre-free long distance phone calls. When acts were much bigger than they are today. Drake…nowhere near as big as Frampton. Or even Boston! The digital age allows you to reach everybody, but everybody is not interested.

Still, messed up musicians have their desires.

Messed up. That’s the key word here. When no-talents like Jennifer Lopez succeed it makes it look like music is a business, that you can plot it all out, hire the right people, and have a hit. That’s what was wrong with music from 1990 until the mid-aughts. It was manufactured, fake…

Unless it was made by artists.

No one chooses to be an artist, just like no one chooses to be gay. Art chooses you. You sense you’re different. The usual steps don’t appeal. You find like-minded people and you create. Sure, fame looms. But most don’t make it. True artists rarely give up, they keep coming back, and you don’t read about them pivoting to tech success or becoming professionals, they can’t do that, they can only write and sing and play.

How did they get this way? Was it nature or nurture?

Usually there’s a sordid family background. Maybe as simple as not getting the love they wanted.

So they try to get it from their fans.

Classic rockers, especially those from the U.K., continually testify they did it to pull girls. Ever go backstage and hang with these true artists? Frequently they’ve got absolutely nothing to say. And are shy and reserved to boot. Maybe if you hang for eons, you can stumble upon a topic that interests them, get them talking, but the odds are low.

And then they’re gone.

But most people never get to meet their heroes, and they’ve got the fantasy and…

Give Ryan Adams credit, he figured out the paradigm had changed. You cannot go on the road and love ’em and leave ’em. Because they’ve got documentary evidence, pictures, you’re gonna get in trouble, the odds are against you. But if you reach out and touch them on the internet…

That’s right, all artists have fans. Because artists express what you feel. They make you feel understood. And if you could only meet them. And then Ryan Adams DM’s you?

You’ve got no idea what he’s looking for, how messed up he is. You’re posting selfies on Instagram and instead of sending roadies into the audience, having a brief period of time to ponder the pickings, Adams sits on his phone and takes his time, who does he want to prey on today?

And they are willing victims.

Because Adams is gonna make them a star.

The oldest trick in the book. The Hollywood casting couch. But movies aren’t like music, Ryan Adams actually wrote those songs, he’s speaking from his heart directly into yours so…

You dive in, you’re anything but reluctant. And when the behavior goes off the rails…

It’s like any relationship, only more intense. You’ll do things you normally wouldn’t for quite a while before you’ll pull the plug. You’re addicted to the connection, the sex, the comfort, and in the case of Ryan Adams, the fame and the opportunity.

And it used to be the bands were gone from the venue not long after they finished playing. In time for a blow-job, a quickie, then they were outta there. But in the internet era, you’re never gone, you can always reach out and touch somebody.

And Ryan Adams did.

And unlike backstage, he didn’t lead with sex. It seemed like he was interested in your talent…that was the bait before the switch.

And then he was incredibly needy. Seemingly all artists are. They’re so disconnected and so alone that if they get any attention, they can’t live without it. Attention is the drug. That’s what keeps them performing, they’re hooked.

Now you wouldn’t expect a music publication to reveal this truth. Most are on the payroll. “Billboard” sanitizes the stories and “Hits” won’t print anything negative unless the person isn’t paying them. So unless you’re on the inside, you’ve got no idea what’s going on. And even if you are on the inside, and young and inexperienced, you still might be vulnerable, like Mandy Moore.

So the truth has to be excavated on the outside, in this case the “New York Times.” Music is a backwater, it doesn’t get the respect of movies and TV, but it’s the only medium where you can do it yourself and gain traction, without the approval of white male middlemen who think they’re the talent.

So where does this leave us?

Of course Ryan Adams is a scumbag. Who needs help. But no one gives help in the music business, the artists are cash cows. You prop them up and take your percentage, wring them for everything they’re worth. You can’t even get an intervention if someone is killing themselves with heroin.

And Ryan Adams still wrote those heartfelt songs. Will listeners stop playing them?

Doubtful.

Which brings us back to the case of Jackson Browne, who twenty five years ago was accused of manhandling Daryl Hannah. We’ll never know the truth, but we do know that Jackson released his best album in years, “I’m Alive,” and it had little impact because so many of his target audience wanted nothing to do with him.

But they do now.

Was it time or the music or..?

Then again, Ryan Adams is nowhere near as big as Jackson Browne. It’s a different era, like I said, no one in this century is as big as those from the last. Jackson had multiple hits. Ryan had one.

So expect a short term dent to his business.

Then again, maybe Adams will self-destruct, like Pee-wee Herman. Remove himself from the discussion, not go on the road, not release records.

But we have the case of Louis C.K., who admitted his behavior and is now working and being excoriated by some while he does good business.

Same deal with Aziz Ansari.

And none of their behavior equals the offenses of Harvey Weinstein.

It seems the media and the non-fans have one standard, and the true fans another.

And Ryan Adams kind of apologized in his tweets. Not really, but he’s not stonewalling, although his lawyer did. He seems to have realized he’s done something wrong. Unlike the movie directors who deny it.

So, what we’ve got here is the exposure of rock star behavior in the teens. It’s ugly. But the truth is it’s been ugly for a long time.

But we live in a contradictory society. Ever listen to rap lyrics? Or those of even Aerosmith? The music is infused with sex, that’s part of its attraction.

Of course that does not excuse bad behavior, but the question is…

Where is the line, what do we want?

Meanwhile, Ryan Adams is not the only one. As the rule goes, the more successful, the more screwed up. If you’re lucky, you’ve got people protecting you.

But it’s hard to be protected in the digital age, where there’s documentary evidence of your entire life.

So you gain fame and make money by opening a vein, and then you sacrifice your career and money for the same reason.

These are the real issues. It’s more complicated than just kicking offenders to the curb. How do we change the culture? How do we inject sunlight into behavior that takes place in darkness?

Ryan Adams definitely crossed a line. He should pay for it.

But what is the penalty?

We haven’t worked that out yet.

“Ryan Adams Dangled Success. Women Say They Paid A Price”