My Laurel Canyon Cheat Sheet

Filming the atom bomb, or the need to to have taxpayer financing of Lookout Mountain Military Base, Laurel Canyon

And, of course, have over 250 Hollywood directors, film producers, actors, and technicians on hand to analyze the photography and film footage of nuclear weapons testing.

This past weekend, I was fortunate to give a reverse interview on Crrow777’s podcast in regards to the pysop program that ultimately was the Laurel Canyon music scene; the birthplace of the 1960’s hippie counter culture, LA rock n’ roll, and many 1960’s legends. And as promised, a cliff note version of the information I was able to compile and vet.  My goal is to keep adding to this document as time goes on; in the spirit of the inspiration to all of this material, I plan to continue to document various facts that fit within the spectrum that is the Laurel Canyon.  So this more or less will be a working document for me and all the readers who enjoy this material.  So with out further ado, let’s visit the Laurel Canyon labyrinth.

Lookout Mountain Military Base Basics


  • The installation was initially built in 1941 as a World War II air defence center that coordinated radar complexes on nearby mountain tops
  • The installation was built in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles, California
  • In 1947, the installation was converted into the Lookout Mountain Air Force Station film studio
    • Included a full stage, two screen rooms
    • The ability to process 16 and 35mm motion picture films
    • Still photography laboratory
    • Animation and editorial departments
    • 17 climate controlled film vaults
    • Bomb shelter
    • Helicopter pad
  • The film studio was used to begin to study and analyze nuclear weapons testing through the use of still and motion pictures.
  • The USAF studio retained more than 250 producers, directors, and cameraman from nearby Hollywood
  • Most of the films and photographs were never seen by the public, and focused on military training, propaganda, and public service films with the assistance of Hollywood royalty

The Years 1964 and 1965 – The Beginning of the War on North Vietnam

David McGowan’s fantastic book – highly, highly recommended!

Firstly, this piece is dedicated the late, great David McGowan.  The basis of the research is David’s wonderful book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon, a true masterpiece of intense, detailed, and refined research.  I’d highly recommend everyone interested in the material to come to take a look at the book.  You will certainly not be disappointed.

I’ve attempted to put several sources together to make sense of a possibly timeline that shows corroboration between apparently different key dates and areas of the world.


  • August 2, 1964: Three North Vietnamese PT boats fire upon a the USS Maddox, a US destroyer located in the Tonkin Gulf
    • As fate would have, Jim Morrison aka the Lizard King’s father, is under the command of US Navy Admiral George Stephen Morrison came under attack while patrolling Vietnam’s Tonkin Gulf (more on this later)
  • August 4, 1964: A second attack on US Navy warships occurs in the Tonkin Gulf
  • August 7, 1964: Congress passes the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; the resolution authorizes President Johnson take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.”
    • The resolution passes unanimously in the House, and by a margin of 82-2 in the Senate. The Resolution allows Johnson to wage all out war against North Vietnam without ever securing a formal Declaration of War from Congress   
  •  January 18, 1965: Malcolm X denounces US involvement in Vietnam
  • February 1965 : Operation “Rolling Thunder” Deployed
    • Program called for sustained bombing raids of North Vietnam
  • February 21, 1965, Malcolm X is assassinated in New York city
  • By March of 1965, first uniformed US soldier will set foot in Vietnam officially
  • March 24-25, 1965: The University of Michigan and the Students for a Democratic Society organize the first teach in on the Vietnam War.  The event is focused on debates, lectures, movies, and musical events focused on war protestation.  35 other universities follow suit
  • By April of 1965, 25,000 uniformed soldiers / US kids will be in Vietnam
  • August 5, 1965: Morley Safer airs a report on CBS showing US Marines lighting thatched roofs of the village of Cam Ne with lighters, and includes critical dialogue on the treatment of South Vietnamese villagers
      • Johnson immediately becomes outraged and demands a security check completed of Safer as he must be a communist
  • April 17, 1965: A coalition of student organizations other activists organize a protest in DC.  The total number of people in attendance of the anti-war rally in Washington:25,000
  • May 12, 1965: The California State Senate’s Byrne Committee releases a report calling the Berkeley campus a haven for communists
    • Interesting that Ronnie Reagan at that time promises the committee that if elected to the Governor position, he will appoint former CIA director John McCone to investigate campus unrest.
  • May 21-23 1965: Largest Vietnam teach in to date occurs at UC Berkeley: 30,000 people attend the event
  • October 15, 1965: Four large scale anti-Vietnam protests occur in 4 separate cities  
    • Police begin to enforce a new Federal draft card burning law
    •  The protest at Berkeley, which included some 15,000 protesters, begin to march on to Oakland
    •  The protest march is peacefully stopped
      •  Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters make an initial appearance in the anti war movement
  • October 16, 1965: the protesters return to Oakland and are stopped by the police and asked to remain seated in the street to avoid conflict
    •  The Hell’s Angels show up, begin attacking the protesters, and yell that the anti war group should return to Russia
    •  The Angels threaten to attack the next anti war protest, and to hedge off the attack, Keasy, Ginsberg, and Pranksters visit the home of Angels president to discuss the situation and drop LSD
  • November 27, 1965: 15 – 25,000 anti war demonstrators rally at the White House for an organized March on Washington for Peace in Vietnam.
  • By the end of 1965, 200,000 US soldiers in place in South Vietnam

Here Come the Byrds…

Hey Hey We’re the Byrds
  • Jim/Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark moved to LA in 1964
  • Gene Clark was considered very musically adept and had been in a rock band in Missouri when younger
  • David Van Cortland Crosby joined the band in 1964 and formed a folk based trio called the Jet Set
    • Son to Major Floyd Delafield Crosby and Julia Floyd Delafield
      Major Floyd Delafield Crosby
    • Floyd Crosby
      • Education listed as a graduate from the New York Institute of Photography, allegedly a graduate of Annapolis
      • He later married Aliph Van Cortlandt Whitehead
      • Worked at the New York Stock Exchange and met with anthropologist William Beebe; later he assisted with photography and film on the Beebe Haitian Expedition 1927
      • Also filmed the Matto Grosso Expedition (Brazil), the Pratt Honduras Expedition (Honduras), and the LaVarre Brazilian-Guiana Expedition (Brazil)
      • Offically, he filmed reference/training films for WWII pilots
        • Known as a fringe player with no desire for Hollywood attention, he worked with Roger Corman and shot many Corman B-horror films in the 1950’s
        • Speculation he was intelligence operative during WWII
    • David Crosby family ancestry
      • Ties to the Van Cortlandt, Van Shuyler and Van Reseller families and bloodlines
      • This group of families have included military officials, politicians at all levels, entertainers, etc
  • Chris Hillman was another LA transplant that was considered a bluegrass/mandolin virtuoso, and started a number of bluegrass bands
  • Michael Dick, later Michael Clarke, a runaway from Washington state, met Crosby in Big Sur California in 1963
  • Having no musical talent, Crosby and Jim Dickson brought him into the band the Byrds to play the drums
  • David Van Cortland Crosby brought with him band manager Jim Dickson
    • Dickson was the son of diesel engineer in the US Navy
    • Dickson enlisted in the US Army in 1946 before embarking on a career in the record industry as a producer and manager
    • He discovered Hillman’s group at the time and recorded The Hillmen in a 3 month period end of 64 to beginning of 65, but wasn’t released until 1969
    • Crosby, unable to play the bass guitar, forced Hillman to play the bass guitar for the group the Byrds
  • Despite the band being musically incompetent, Dickson managed to sign the group to a record deal with Columbia records in 1964
  • Also of interest, the Byrds did not have money to buy musical equipment at the time
    • Naomi Hirshorn placed a $5000 investment for a 5% share in the Byrds
      • The Hirshorn family is interesting and has some wall street/government connections
      • Her father Joeseph Hirshorn, at age 15, managed a job on Wall Street
      • At 16 years of age, he launched his career as a stock broker/financier
      • At 18 year of age, he acquired two Durer etchings and began his career as collector of mass quantities of art
      • In May of 1966, the Hirshorn art collection, one of the largest collections in the world, agrees to pass ownership of the collection to the Smithsonian
      • In November of 1966, Johnson and Congress create a fund up to $15 million to plan for the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
  • The Byrds’ first single was a cover of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man
    • The single was released on May 15,1965, creating the music synthesis of Bob Dylan meeting the Beatles


  • The Byrds’ first album, Mr. Tambourine Man, was released on June 21, 1965, of the Summer Solstice

The Mamas and Papas and John Phillips

Released on March 28, 1966

John Philips

  • Son of a US Marine Corp Captain Claude
  • Born in Parris Island and attended the Linton Hall Military School in Virginia
  • Later gained appointment to the Naval Academy, but dropped out after one year
  • John later married Susie Adams, a direct descendent of John Adams, in 1957
  • Rosie , his older sister, became a career employee of the Pentagon
  • Susie Adams, who’s father was involved with intelligence operations in Europe, also found work at the Pentagon
  • John’s first job was that of working on a charter fishing boat, wherein his coworkers were 4 retired Army generals
  • Philips was in Havana during Castro’s uprising

The Zappa Experience Comes Alive

Release of June 27, 1966
  • His father, Francis Zappa, was a meteorologist at the Edgewood Arsenal, headquarters of the Army Chemical Center, Maryland
    • Edgewood was the Army’s manufacturing and testing facility of chemical weapons
  • His business manager, Herb Cohen, was a former US Marine
    • Cohen moved to LA in 1954 and began promoting folk music groups
    • He began to open up clubs on the Strip in 1956-1959 time period
    • In 1959, he took a 3 year vacation that included trips to
      • Cuba
      • Egypt
      • Algiers
      • Europe
      • The Middle East
        • Also included a brief foray into gun running
    • He returned to LA 1963 and later began running Zappa’s band
    • This allowed Zappa access to the Strip clubs
  • He then married Adelaide Sloatman, aka Gail Zappa
    • Her father was a nuclear weapons research physicist working with the US Navy
    • She went to elementary school with Jim Morrison
    • Gail then worked as a secretary Office of Naval Research and Development in London
      • Future work -Anya Butler!  She worked with British record companies and found the Who, then moved to NYC after Gail moved, and had her hitchhike to LA to be groupies
        • She later married Chris Hillman
    • Gail become Elmer Valentine’s PA and hung out with Kim Fowley and Vito and Freaks
      • Elmer Valentine
        • January 1964, Elmer Valentine, a former Chicago Vice Cop who was indicted for extortion but managed to avoid prosecution and conviction, opened the doors the Whisky-A-Go-Go Nightclub
        • A year later, he opened up the Trip
          • It is considered he was financed by organized crime given his previous duties as a bagman for the Chicago mob
        • Within a month of the club’s opening, Life magazine had written about it, Jack Paar had broadcast from the club, and celebrities such as Steve McQueen and Jayne Mansfield frequented the club
      • All the big names of Laurel Canyon performed in Valentine’s venues in the mid 1960’s
  • Zappa moved to the Log Cabin, performed on the Strip, hung out with Vito and freaks, and signed many different artists to his record label
  • Apparently a very pro war advocate, he did not criticize the Vietnam War

Vito and The Freaks


  • Vitautus Alphonsus Palulekas was born in 1910, and as a youngster, ran into several incidents with the law that sent him to reformatories
    • Vito was also a first cousin of Winthrop Rockefeller’s wife, Bobo Rockefeller. – McGowan
  • He received a 25 year prison for armed robbery, but was later released to service in the US Navy/Merchant Marines during World War II-McGowan
  • He moved to LA after the war at some point in the future and connected with rock’ n’ roll in 1962 at the Gauchos club on the Strip
  • He met his first wife, Zsou
  • Zsou’s clothing boutique has been credited as being the first to introduce hippie fashions
  • Vito’s best friend, Karl Fanzoni, joined the group in 1963
    • Karl is alleged to have been the nephew of an important Italian Cardinal, and belong to an elite Italian family
    • He wore a cape that had the letter F on it for “Captain Fuck”:
      • A known sexual predator
  • The group eventually moved to the Log Cabin home in the mid ‘60s, a sprawling mansion and estate, to set up a communal home
  • It is mentioned again that the Byrds had no musical sensibility live, but were assisted by the Time magazine and Vito and the Freaks
    • Vito and Freaks were a known attraction on the Strip, and would be let in free to venues where the Byrds would play
      • The idea of hippie dancing, beautiful, scantily clad young women drew people to the clubs
      • Vito and the Freaks also accompanied the Byrds on tours outside of the California

Buffalo Springfield Revisited

December 5, 1966 release date
  • Stephen Stills
    • His father William Stills, was an engineer and builder, who frequently uprooted the family due to “itchy feet”
    • Spent time in Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Costa Rica, and Panama
    • He was enrolled in the Admiral Faagut Military Academy in St Petersburg
    • Biographies get a bit hazy on this time…possibly spent some time in Central America and Florida
    • Still spent time in NYC and then moved to LC in 1966
    • He laster bragged about his time he spent in the Jungles of Vietnam in the early 60’s
      • Dismissed officially as drug induced exaggerations
  • Buffalo Springfield, which included Stills, Young, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer, and Dewy Martin, blew up in popularity in the spring of 1966
    •  Neil Young and Palmer left Canada on March 22, 1966 in search of Stills in LA in search of beter muscial opportunity and to meet up with Stills
    • Neil Young and Bruce Palmer, not able to locate Stills in LA over a six day period, and leaving town for San Francisco to continue their search, meet Stephen in a traffic jam
      • The legend has it that Stills recognized Young/Palmer’s Ontario licence plate hearse in a LA traffic jam on the Sunset Strip and flagged both Young and Palmer down
      • Stills was in a Bentley with Barry Friedman behind Young and Palmer’s hearse
    • The Young, Stills, Palmer, and Furay quartet allegedly met on April 06, 1966
    • They then added Martin and instruments on April 09, 1966
    • Played their first appearance at Hollywood’s prestigious venue, the Troubadour on April 11, 1966
    • Beginning April 15, 1966, they opened for  the Byrds’ Southland seven day tour
    • They then did a 6 week gig on the Strip at the Whisky, which wrapped up on June 20, 1966
    • On July 25, they opened for the Rolling Stones at the Hollywood Bowl
    • The self title debut was recorded July through September 1966, finally released to the mass public on December 5, 1966

The Doors to Perception

January 4, 1967
  • Son to Admiral George Stephen Morrison, of previously mentioned Gulf of Tonkin infamy
  • Again, went to a Naval kindergarten with Adelaide Sloatman, aka Gail Zappa
  • Later attended the same Alexandria, Virginia High School with John Phillips and Cass Elliot
  • Initially, a very clean cut, academic, conservative child through high school
  • Arrived on the Sunset scene/Laurel Canyon scene with a complete band, a rock star persona, and an impressive collection of songs with an acid riddled brain
    • Allegedly wrote all the songs over a three year period, without the assistance of a being able to play any instruments, and did not have any musical training
    • Was a poet, was interested in songwriting for a short period of time, then became a recluse
  • The Doors, which included Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger, all not musicians, were able to get bookings on the Sunset Strip clubs; Morrison struck up a relationship with Valentine, who at the time, had Gail Sloatman working for him
  • Allegedly died in Paris on July 3, 1971, the same day his father gave a keynote speech decommissioning the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard, which had assisted in the Tonkin Gulf Incident

Augustus Owsley Stanley III aka the Bear


  • Son to Augustus Owsley Stanley II, a military officer during WWII and later a government attorney in Washington, DC.
  • His grandfather was a career politician, having been in the US House of Representatives, the Governor of Kentucky, and US Senator
  • The II’s mother was a niece of William Owlsey, also a Governor of Kentucky
  • He was enrolled in the Charlotte Hall Military school, but was thrown out for handing out booze to classmates
  • He then attended a University of Virginia, then enlisted in the USAF in 1956
    • He was an electronics speciality, working in radio intelligence and radar
  • After the air force, he relocated to LA to work in TV; also studied ballet
    • He was also employed by JPL
  • In 1963, he moved to Berkeley, and having tried LSD for the first time, figured out how to produce the drug after spending 3 weeks in the university’s library, pouring over chemistry journals
  • He met Ken Kesey in 1965, and through Kesey, the Grateful Dead
    • He acted as the Dead’s financier and sound engineer
  • In the coming years, he produced 4 million hits of LSD/Acid that he freely gave away to concert goers and party goers
    • Instrumental to the lead up of concerts/events that appexed with the Monterrey Pop Festival in 1967 and threw the hippie lifestyle in mass media attention
  • In 1967, he released on to the public the Dow Chemical hallucinogen known at STP

Gram Parsons and Death in Front of the Devil

Just another young musician lucky enough to get a break at Laurel Canyon..
  • Gram Parsons was the son of Major Cecil Ingram Connor II, a decorated military officer pilot in WWII and Avis Snively
    • Connor has ties King Eward II of England and the first King of Spain, Fernidad the Great
    • He attended Columbia Military Academy, and was shipped out to Pearl Harbor in early 1941
    • He lived off base in a large home owned by Barbara Hutton
      • Hutton was granddaughter of Frank Woolworth, niecee to Marjory Post Hutton, daughter of C.W. Post (General Foods), and daughter of Frankyln Laws Hutton, co founder of E.F. Hutton, a prestigious brokerage firm
      • Barbara Hutton, prior to the Great Depression, inherited a fortune worth billions of dollars
      • Hutton actually had relations with the Van Rennselaer family with Philip Van Resselaer
  • Also a heir, on his mother’s side,  to the Snively family fortune
    • Related to Milton S. Hershey, future founder of the world’s largest producer of chocolate candies
    • Family was a large owner of Florida orange groves
  • After marriage, Cecil and Avis moved to Waycross, Georgia, and lived on a large tract of land devoted to citrus production
  • Gram began attendance at the Bolles School, a military preps school, and chose interest in attending Annapolis, West Point, or Georgia Tech
  • His parents were known to be involved in the “shoe game”, or swingers, with other upper class citizens of the area
  • His father committed suicide prior to Christmas 1958, with a bullet hole found in his right temple and was initially rule an accident by the local coroner
    • The suicide came 10 months after Papa John Snively passed away (Avis’s father)
  • His mother remarried to Robert Eliss Parsons in 1959
    • A salesman who leased heavy equipment for construction of bridges and roads in Cuba and South America
  • Robert began having an affair with an 18 year old babysitter in 1960
  • Parson also become involved with the Cuban Cause of 1960, and had close ties to the exile group being trained in Polk County, Florida
    • Life magazine actually captured an image of Robert and Graham, but the photos were never released to the public
  • Robert later converted a local downtown warehouse he owned into a teen night club to begin to promote Graham
    • He later became involved with a folk trio and then in 1964, met with John Phillips, Brandon DeWilde, and Richie Furray (then of the Journeymen)
  • He was later accepted to Harvard
  • After his mother’s death, Gram received a draft notice, but Robert able to get him a pass and enrolled in Harvard 1965
  • Doing some stints in NYC, he later moved to CA and met with Crosby’s friend and roommate, Nancy Ross
    • Ross had a father in the Roy Air Force, and later married Eleanor Roosevelt’s grandson, Rex, and later designed restaurants for Elmer Valentine of Whiskey A Go Go
  • Parsons eventually moved to LC and moved in with Ross
  • In 1968, he replaced Crosby, who was removed from the Byrds – only a 5 month stint
    • Credited with having major influence on the album Sweetheart at the Rodeo
  • In 1969, he formed the Flying Burrito Brothers
  • He and the Stones helped to from the Altamont concert on December 6, 1969
    • Stones “innocently” placed Hells Angels in charge of security
    • Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death in front of the stage by Angels while the Rolling Stones played “Sympathy for the Devil”
      • Gimme Shelter potentially placed out of sequence the timing of the stabbing and the song played
        • Interesting facts: George Lucas was a cameraman that day, and soon began a meteoric rise in Hollywood
        • Vito Paulekas was also scene in the film dancing on a platform
        • Alan David Passaro, the Angel charged and acquitted for the murder, was found dead floating in a reservoir in 1985
        • Acquittal not based on the idea of self defense/Hunter bearing a gun, but the strokes that killed Hunter were knife upstrokes, not downstrokes, as depicted in the film Gimme Shelter
  • Gram overdosed in on Sept 19, 1973, and his body was stolen from LAX to burned at Joshua Tree at the autumnal equinox with assistance of Phil Kaufman

Not Quite A Conclusion

Michael Walker’s book regarding the LC Movement

More to come in the future!  I had intended to get a better timeline together, but alas work got into the way this past week, yet I wanted to get a cheat sheet out post-interview, as I had stated I’d have some facts for everyone’s reference.  As stated before, this really is the work of David McGowan; I did corroborate a lot of the statements with official biographies, obituaries, and other “mainstream” resources as possible.

So dig away – criticisms, comments, grammatical errors (I’m sure there are plenty), and additional leads always welcome!

Further References


3 thoughts on “My Laurel Canyon Cheat Sheet

  1. Hi! Good work. 🙂 It would be great to get some type of visual timeline and connection flow chart or something of that effect going on this topic. It is probably not worth mentioning- most likely it is a “known” already- but Virginia is home to Camp Peary- CIA training facility. Strange how so many of these “musicians” came from that area prior to moving to Laurel Canyon/ LA area at that time. (Dave Grohl fits that category also 😉 )

    Is there a way to contact you outside of your blog comments? I think we could learn a lot from each other.

    It is my thought that the LC “plan” started way back in WWII- the USO to be specific. Would love your thoughts and critique on this (Be sure to read parts I & II):


  2. Pingback: Spider Gods of the Occult McGriddles. An interview with High Strangeness researcher James Alfred – truthrealquick

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