Composer John Adam's CITY NOIR Inspired In Part by Historical Black Dahlia Crime and Historian Kevin Starr

Los Angeles

November 17, 2013
Gustavo Dudamel- Los Angeles Philharmonic Inaugural Concert
Live from the Walt Disney Concert Hall November 8, 2009
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November can be especially Noirish here in the City of Angels.
Feeling “in the mood” I decided to view and listen to my newly purchased DVD,

The program featured the world premiere recording of composer John Adams City Noir (2009) and Gustav Mahler’s  Symphony no. 1 in D major.  
The DVD jacket promised:
 “A world-class pairing, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their charismatic new Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, mark the start of their partnership with this concert, filmed live at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. “
 I was especially looking forward to hearing City Noir after learning that John Adams composition was inspired by the writings of our former State Librarian Kevin Starr, specifically referencing the historical 1947 Black Dahlia murder.
I quote from the accompanying DVD pamphlet: 
“Adams found a suggestion for City Noir in his reading of the “Dream” books by Kevin Starr, particularly the “Black Dahlia” chapter of Embattled Dreams, which covers the sensational journalism and film noir of the late 1940s and early ’50s.  ‘Those images and and their surrounding aura whetted my appetite for an orchestral work that, while not necessarily referring to the soundtracks of those films, might nevertheless evoke a similar mood and feeling tone of the era,’ Adams writes. ”  (Note- John Adams was born on February 15, 1947, exactly one-month to the day after the brutal murder of Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short.)
After listening to his remarkable thirty-minute symphony it is my considered opinion that the talented composer John Adams has captured both the intensity and drama–the soul of our city– as it was in the 1940s. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you  jump in and take a bath, a slow symphonic soak, in our CITY’S NOIR.  Thank you Mr. Adams. Truly gestational!
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Click above link for Laurie Moore article.

Kevin Starr on Chief Parker, the LAPD and Black Dahlia Suspect Dr. George Hodel

I was surprised and honored at discovering historian Kevin Starr’s references to my father in his 2010 L.A. Times Book Prize Award winning publication, Golden Dreams:
California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963 
Oxford University Press, Jul 10, 2009 History 564 pages

I quote from pages 137-8:

…On the other hand, individual members of the LAPD, being
human, could and frequently did succumb to payoffs from the vice culture they
were expected to suppress.  Working his
way up the ranks, Parker encountered this corruption most painfully when he
placed first in the lieutenant’s examination but, having paid no one off, was
placed number ten on the promotion list. By World War II, Parker held the rank
of captain despite the fact that, once again, he had placed first in
examinations for inspector (commander) and deputy chief. No matter; He was soon
in uniform as an Army captain of military police and in 1944, as a major, he
was placed in charge of all police and prison operations for the Normandy
invasion. Strafed by a German plane, Parker was awarded the Purple Heart along
with the Croix de Guerre. Further
assignments took him to Sardinia, where he helped reestablish civil government,
and to postwar Germany, where as a lieutenant colonel he supervised the
reorganization of the police departments of Frankfurt and Munich.

home, Parker once again found himself odd man out in an LAPD where the fix was
in at a number of levels. Homicide for instance was a semi-autonomous enclave
within the nearly autonomous LAPD, its detectives solving a crowded calendar of
cases but doing it on their own terms as far as legal procedures and the use of
force were concerned. This was the LAPD of the late 1930s and 1940s, whose
detectives–with their overcoats and fedoras, their expensive watches and wrist
bracelets, their tough talk and even tougher actions–are mirrored in the
fiction and films noir of the era. Here were detectives who might or might not
pursue a case, depending. Sixty years after the fact, credible evidence would
surface that certain detectives had a rather strong idea of who had perpetrated
the Black Dahlia murder but let the
alleged perpetrator, a physician who had functioned briefly as a consultant to
the LAPD during the war, skip town with no charges filed rather than have its
bungled investigation–three hundred suspects interviewed, no results–come to
light. In any event, a 1949 grand jury noted the evasive answers made by
certain detectives when questioned regarding the Black Dahlia case, but the matter was never pursued.

Kevin Starr Source Note: ” …see the startling revelations in Steve Hodel’s,  Black
Dahlia Avenger: The True Story (2003)”

Kevin Starr’s California Dreaming series:

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