October 1, 2016
Los Angeles, California

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I will be giving a talk on my newest book, Most Evil II (Rare Bird Books 2015) along with a backgrounding and overview of my previous Black Dahlia Avenger investigation. Talk will be followed by a Q&A.  Hope to see you there October 20th at the Whittwood Branch of the Whittier Public Library.

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5 Comments

  1. Kenneth Green on October 7, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Just got my copy in the mail Tuesday. Wish I could come to this!

  2. luigi warren on October 29, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Steve,

    Enjoyed the talk. Saw a few intriguing, unfamiliar pics whiz by in the Powerpoint presentation that I assume will be addressed in your “Early Years” follow-up.

    More thoughts on GHH’s literary influences…

    Based on the mission statement and content of “Fantasia,” as well as the list of authors in “The Clouded Past of the Poet,” it’s clear that as a teenager GHH was in the thrall of the Decadents, a school of writers which flourished in fin-de-siècle Paris and took inspiration from Poe and Baudelaire. I’ve been reading a few of the original works and associated modern commentaries, including Huysmans’ “À rebours” (the so-called “Bible” of Decadence, inspiration for “Fantazius Mallare” and “The Picture of Dorian Gray”) and short stories from two collections, “The Decadent Reader” (Ed. Hustvedt) and “French Decadent Tales” (Transl. Romer). Salient aspects of your father’s personality and his Black Dahlia Avenger and Zodiac personae are prefigured in the work of these writers to a remarkable degree. Intellectual elitism and contempt for the masses, the desire to out-shock and outwit, the “sick of living but unwilling to die” mindset, erotomania combined with extreme misogyny, fixation on morbid imagery and venereal disease, necrophiliac preoccupation with beautiful corpses and dolls, blonde/brunette counterpointing, the interest in hypnosis, flashy displays of recondite knowledge and epicurean taste, the blending of literary language, technical jargon and slang, the dandyism, madness and drug-taking, police blotter subject matter, etc., etc.

    Just on the topic of Decadent misogyny, from the Introduction to “French Decadent Tales:” “…the misogyny which fires these writers, almost without exception, needs to be understood. Their misogyny is obvious, generalized and virulent… It is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Decadent period, in that it is so widespread.” A case in point, from Villiers de L’Isle-Adam’s novel “The Future Eve” (inspiration for Man Ray’s “Portmanteau”), we have the American genius Thomas Edison, creator of an artificial woman or Android, offering dating advice to an aristocratic young friend: “But it is in the nature of these worthless yet deadly beings to abuse men, since their very existence is degrading and, worse, contagious, I conclude that it’s the right of the man as against the woman (if, by some miracle, he is enabled to see what has been victimizing him) to inflict a summary execution on her, in the most secret and certain manner that he can, without the least scruple or form of legality, any more than one would hesitate about killing a vampire or a viper.” Looks like GHH put theory into practice…

    Regards,

    LW

    • Steve Hodel on October 29, 2016 at 1:56 pm

      LW: Didn’t realize you were there. Did you introduce yourself and I had a senior moment? Or did you just choose “to remain silent.” Glad you could make it. Yes, all of your observations about GHH and his exposure to the literature and writers from that period are Right On. Obviously he was totally caught up in the Darkness and Depravity of those thinkers. Moth to flame. (Or maybe,more accurately, Flame to moths?) I don’t have the literary knowledge or sophistication to give the proper focus on what that period and influence had and deserves as relates to GHH. Obviously, an entire book could be written just on that subject. Lots of material, The Cabinet of Dr. Mabuse, “M”, Fantazius, Fantomas, Sade, Hans Bellmer and his “Dolls,” Jack the Ripper, Poe, Baudelaire, and the rest of the usual suspects.

      Interesting to note that GHH’s other secretary, Marion Herwood Keyes was the dress designer for “The Picture of Dorian Gray” in 1945. The very same year that her good friend and co-worker, Ruth Spaulding was overdosed by GHH.
      Wish I’d known that Marion was still around (She lived until she was 105!) Would have loved to have approached her. What an interview that could have been, if she had been willing to talk. Wow. All Best, Steve

  3. luigi warren on October 29, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Steve,

    Had to get back to San Diego so I couldn’t stick around after your talk. I would recommend at least reading the various commentaries in the books I mentioned. It really pulls so much that you’ve described about your father into focus — it’s like seeing the whole “elephant” for the first time. I previously had only a somewhat vague notion of what the Decadents stood for, mostly derived from “The Picture of Dorian Gray” (the book and the movie). On the one hand, it’s amazing to me that the most famous unsolved homicides of the 20th Century, perpetrated over a period of decades, could be the work of one individual spawned by a 19th Century French literary movement. On the other hand, after delving into their work, it’s completely logical and explains everything…

    Regards,

    LW

    • Steve Hodel on October 29, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      OK, thanks. I’ll check them out for sure. Just now ordered the three books you recommended, so have some reading to do in a week or so.

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