The Elfman Cometh

by David Dalton

Penthouse Nov 1999

I'm on a quest. You might even say that I'm obsessed.

I've flown from New York on a dubious discount airline, and I'm sleeping in an unheated pool nouse somewhere in the nether reaches of the Hollywood Hills~in the very heart of the kingdom of fantasy and weirdness~all just to meet the elusive Danny Elfman. You may not recognize his name, yet here in Hollywood he is truly a lord of the realm. He's written scores for some 40 major motion pictures. Not only prolific, he can write inventive, quirky music for any kind of movie, from the gothic Batman to the celestial Edward Scissorhands, from the gamelan infested menace of Dead Presi dents to the lush, hypnotic Black Beauty from the blues-combo lurch of Midnight Run to the string

orchestra of Dolores Olaiborne to the out-of-tune pianos and bent banjos of A Simple Plan. The antic theme music for TV's "The Simpsons"? Elfman again.

Still, a celebrity he's not, and probably never will be. For better or worse, celebrity is reserved for movie stars and a handful of directors. To the movie-going masses, screenwriters, film composers, editors, and cinematographers are all ar cane stuff end-credit cuneiform, along with truly mysterious entities like gaffers and best boys.

But here in Hollywood it's a little different. Here, Elfman is revered. Producers pander to him, studios throw mountains of money at him (a million dollars a plc ture), directors beg him on bended knee to score their movies; Please, Danny, just sprinkle a bit of Elfspritz on my lumbering project. Make me look good, baby!

They all want a touch of his brooding soul because that old Elfman magic can make or break a film. A brilliant soundtrack threads its way through a movie so subtly you hardly know it's there, but its very "invisibility" is the source of its power. From moment to moment the music is subliminally cueing your emotions, persuad ing you to believe manifest absurdities.

"Soundtracks are shockingly powerful," says Jon Turteltaub, director of the An thony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding, Jr., thriller Instinct, which Elfman scored. "By the time the director igets to the composer, he's been on the movie more than a year. He's pulling his hair out to make the movie as good as it can be~it's a miracle he got it this far~and now somebody is going to come in and possibly undo all this work with a lousy score. You're praying the composer is going to bring this thing to ife as only music can. Watch a movie without music or with the wrong music~it's another movie."

And Elfman, at the age of 46, is not just any music spritzer; he's the reigning king of the movie composers. Hell, he's well-nigh historical. As his brother Rick Elfman, who directs independent movies, says: 'There are many great sweeping scores, like Maurice Jarre's score for Lawrence of Arabia, but who are the artists? Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Texi Driver), Nine Rota (8/~2, The Gcdfather)~and Danny. They wrote the book. With the anomaly of the zither player who did the score for The Third Man, the book is closed."

Of course, there's also the guy who wrote the Pink Panther theme (Henry Mancini), the guy who did that ocarina thing for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Ennic Morricone), and the guy who came up with the bass rift for Jaws (John Williams). But if you had to choose lust four turn composers for the ages, Danny Elfman would have to be one of them, and he's living here now among us.

I finally track Elfman to the Sony Studios lot in Culver City, where he's working on Instinct. The Sony executive building is a high-and-wide totalitarian-looking pyramid of glass and green stone that looms over the lot like the Mayan temple of a thousand-year reich-the Reich of Illusion!

There's a ten-foot neon G clef in pink and blue above the entrance to the sound-recording stage. Beyond a two- foot-thick refrigeration-type door is the sound booth, a huge, high-ceilinged war room of cutting-edge electronic gadgets humming and clicking, talking amongst themselves. Ml Dl samplers, Auricle electronic metronomes, se quencers integrating the different syn thesizer tracks, and a couple of 48-track mixing consoles are minded by rows of engineers and techies who twiddle and toggle their twenty-first-century gadgets with lugubrious concentration.

As if at home in his rec room, Maestro Elfman, at once absentrninded and fero ciously focused, pads around the booth in gray stocking feet. At the slightest tremor of a wrong note his antennae twitch like some earthquake-predicting mantis.

"Wow!" he says when someone hits a sour B flat, "that really woke us up in here. It was better than a cup of coffee."

Pacing up and down like a child actor playing Captain Ahab, Elfman carries on a stream-of-consciousness conversa tion with himself. In a sort of verbal counterpoint, he makes abstruse jokes ("There are too many Injuns in this hos pital") and delivers mock Shakespear ean asides ("Scoff all you wish, churls"), while issuing arcane instructions to the orchestra ("Really hit the D on 82") and reciting dialogue from a private sce nario ("See how he beats me and he beats me until there's nothing left!").

His manner is witty, irrepressible, playful. Almost dizzy with childlike ex citement at this huge toy he gets to play with. He reminds you of a punky Mozart-at least Mozart as played by Tom Hulce in Amadeus.

"Have the horn player hold it there," he instructs the conductor "For about a year and a half-two whole notes, until he turns blue."

High in one corner of the booth, the finished cut of the movie is being screened on a large TV monitor synched to the dialogue, sound effects, and soundtrack. In the scene we are watch ing, the pathologically simian~bsessed

anthropologist played by Anthony Hopkins overturns a table in a fit of rage. The jarring dissonance of the soundtrack is a startling burst of abrasive, chaos baiting modernism straight out of Bartok or Penderecki, composers the average moviegoer is hardly likely to embrace. I mention to Elfman how odd this is.

"Film scoring," he says, "is the only medium in which people who'd never normally listen to anything dissonant are listening to it because of its strictly dra matic underpinning. If you put a song in a scene you have an immediate reac tion. One person will think it's cool, the other thinks it's fucked up. With a film score you don't get that reaction be cause people just accept it as part of the language of the film. People don't ask, Is this my taste, is this what I listen to? They don't listen to Penderecki; they're not aware of it, soit doesn't both er them."

The technicians in the booth are like the crew of an intergalactic spaceship. On the other side of a huge picture win dow sit the musicians of the orchestra in concentric circles. With their wooden and brass instruments, their quaint little sticks and strings, they seem like crea tures from another century The musi cians are mute except when instructed to play. Somnambulists sawing away at their ancient instruments-time zom

bies!-all under the supernatural con trol of a whimsical red-haired man in his stocking feet.

Maestro Danny Elfman-l go in for a close-up. White, pale Hapsburg skin. The complexion of someone who never goes out in the sun, like the hemophiliac courtiers you see in paintings by Velaz quez. Hair of such startling redness it r~ sembles the underpainting on a dented car or a Renaissance portrait in which the color has oxidized. Mustache and beard of the same jarring redness, but so wispy they look like they've been stuck on with spirit gum. Thin, mad-sci entist glasses. He dresses with an ec centric's disregard for fashion. Para medic-green T-shirt, black jeans rolled up at the bottom, and socks. Socks! Socks without shoes is the latest affec tation among the Hollywood elite. Just that morning I'd read about Sean Penn taking his children to school. He walks them from the car to the school entrance in his stocking feet. The last time I was out here it was shoes-very expensive shoes-without socks.

irs all very casual here in the booth. But with the clock ticking at thousands of dollars a minute, you know everybody is making a concerted effort to keep it light. There are about 20 technicians in the booth, some of them making $300 an hour, plus the 97-piece orchestra.

A couple of techies are catching 40 winks on the plush leather couches, and who can blame them? With the endless repetition of tiny sequences, the kab balistic shoptalk and retakes, it's obvi ous these scoring sessions are ultimate ly brain numbing. It could drive anyone to heights of whimsy, and it doesn't take much to elicit whimsy from Elfman. Oc casionally he'll bring in a bullwhip to crack when things get slow, not that odd an idiosyncrasy for Hollywood. But how many composers bring a shrunken head under glass into a scoring session with them? Uncle Billy sits on the mixing board, lips sewn up, black wiry hair still growing out of the parched skin of the skull, terrified beady eyes still scream ing. I get my first whiff of the dark side of Danny Elfman.


Over lunch I ask Elfman how he starts working on a score. As he talks he becomes very animated and intense. In some ways, he seems like an enthusias tic graduate student. Yet you get the feeling there's this giddy person inside always about to jump out.

I begin with no preconceived ideas," he says. "Watching the rough cut, I'll start hearing music. That's where I get my best ideas. For example, when I saw the saucers in the opening titles of Mars Attacks!, a radio started playing in my head and there it all was. When I saw the first saucer I heard Prokofiev, some thing between Alexander Nevsky and Lieutenant KIje Suite. It was a gas, because one of my biggest influences as a young adult, other than Bernard Herrmann, was Prokofiev."

A self-taught musician, Danny served his apprenticeship in scoring in his early twenties, composing pastiches of Prokofiev and Django Reinhard for older brother Rick's mid-seventies musical en semble, the Los Angeles~~ased Mystic knights of Oingo Boingo, an almost in describable theatrical troupe featuring bizarre costumes and exotic music. Un wieldy and chaotic, the Mystic knights eventually went extinct.

~hose were the years," says Danny, where I taught myself to write and tran scribe, all by ear As soon as I picked up the electric guitar, my training stopped."

He picked up that electric guitar in 1980 when he became the lead singer and songwriter for Oingo Boingo, a prankish SoCal new-wave band that mixed existential angst with good-times silliness. Oingo Boingo released ten albums and had one commercial hit, Weird Science." Their Halloween-night shows at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles attracted an enthusiastic cutt audience similar to the crowds that flock to midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show Boingo disbanded in 1995, after one last Halloween bash (available on A&M video, kids).

Ehman wrote his first movie score in fairy song cycle of The Nightmare 1980. far his brother Rick~ quirky cult film Fbrtidden Zone. Five years tater he got his first call to compose the music for a stud~ move Tm Burtonb classic ~wee~ Big Adtienture

Remember the preposterous machine preparing Pee-wee Herman's break- fast? With loony reechanica rapture, an egg slides down a plast~c tube, a skel etal wooden construct-a-dinosaur swoops along a wire, popping bread in a toaster as a bobbing bird breaks tnto a fryng pan an egg held by two water pistots. Just then, a jumpingoutof-its skin cartoon of sound bursts into the scene with demented energ~ its manic enthusiasm mimicking the haywire d~ vices The animated notes have a life of their own, their giddy energy inctting the Rube Goldberg oontraptions to further heights

Fiman! You couldn't have made up a more perfect name for someone who injected such impish spirfts into the dour world of orchestral scoring. His subs~ quent collaborations with Burton ed to sonne of his most invenive scores: the hoodooed piano. penny whistles. and bowed-saw menace of Beetlepice, the pop-art Wagnerian gloom of.Batman, the sublime children's chorus and Xmasy celeste mode of Ed~ard &ssor hands, the menace in the sugar-pium

Before Christmas, and Mars Attacks! with its eerie therannin and massing~ the-aliens thennes.

Elfman seemed supernaturally in sync with Burton's fiendish plot to car toopize the movies by superimposing one fantasy on another In Beetlejuice and Scissorhands, Burton had actors behaving with the magical plasticity of cartoons: in Batman he made comic books spring into brooding ~D. Then tlhere was the iust-plain~ut-there gotfh C dancing-bone twiggyness of Night- mare Beibre Christmas (in which Danny sang Jack skellingorrs songs).

When I began working with ~m," Elman says, '~l consciously made a deci $ion to negate everything l~d learned since I started Oingo Boingo. The worst thing I could have done was to think like a rock musician. I forced myself back to a rmishmash of influences from the Mystic knights~lndonesian gamelan, 1981 Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, bits of Prokofiev Stravinsky's L'Histoire dv Scidat was a big influence. You can hear bits of it in a-vice.

"Writing for the movies made me remember why I loved film music in the first ~ac~errnard Herrmann. The first time I noticed a film score, it was by Bernard lerrmann That was Jason and theArganauts. I must have been 11 or 12 when I saw it on a double bilE with The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad So it wasnt all stuff that came out of a factory!

E~fman, like Herrmann or any other movie composer has had to become an artful pickpocket because almost all movie scores involve the recycling of other peoplet music. Lifting other peo plet music goes back to the age of the classic tim composers: Alfred Newman, Erich korngold, Max Steiner, Franz Wax man, Dmitri Tiomkin. Inspired thieves the lot of them.

Cannibalizing the music of his dead idols isn't anything Elfman tries to con ceal. Far from it He's unabashedly wor shipful of his musica heroes, his bor rowings being a form of seance.

'All my idols are ghosts." he says. In a wonderu image, he describes himself starting work on a new score ike sifting at a table with Prokofie~ Tchaikovsk~ Bartok, and Herrmann, their celestial voices speaking through him.

For me the essentFal Elfman is the composer of the Tim Burton movies (and the "Simpsors theme). But when I say most people identify him with this kind of score, he lokes nervously that his rmost famous score is going to pursue

him to his grave: "My epitaph will proba bly read Danny Etfman, 1954~2oo1, composer of the Simpsons" thenre~'

I hope Ws nol my signature sound. I've written many other kinds of scores. mean, Berman was a very big, dramatic score It wasn't making fun of itself"

Md here all along I thought the music for Batnan was a spoof on Wagnenan Swan und Onang Wagner as seen by Roy Lichtenste',n, Wagner as filtered through forties movie music-Max Steiner., Erich Korngold, and so on. Elfnnan~ problem, as he sees it, is that he is too good at the nutw cartoony stuff, as in the calypso hoolco bash of Bee flejuica

~Well, there I'm cetain~ tapping right into the 11-year~ld. the composer says 'bnrestmined is something I know loan do, I'm really good at it Thats why I seek out projects in which I need to show restraint. I always try and find something new to do. Dolores Claiborne was the first drama I scored. I deliberr ately limited myself to a smaller palette, a string orchestray

Like hts idoL Herrmann, Elfman as pires to be a versatile composer, some one who can write as well for serious drama as he can for Tim Burton weird ness. But when he recalls his favonte Herrmann scores, they aren't the dra mas like Cittzen Kane or the Hitchcock thrillers like Vertigo and North by Northwest.

"I remember seeing The Day the Earth Stood Still, when the saucer opens," he says. "One of the greatest scores of all time with that unearthly theramin hum. So I often go back, when I think how I'm going to score some thing, and think, How would I have done it when I was 12?"

At 12 he had another experience, one that was to warp him for life: the scream ing mummies of Guanajuato. On sum mer vacation in Mexico, his parents took the impressionable boy to see the un dead. Those unable to pay the rent on their graves are dug up and stacked row on row in a dank cellar. Down nar row, worn stone steps into the grotesque catacombs of Guanajuato went the young Elfman. And there before him were hundreds of skeletons, their shriv eled flesh still clinging to their bones like parchment, crouching, kneeling, clutch ing at themselves in agony, their rotten teeth hideously protruding, their eyes like diseased blue eggs popping out of their sockets. Soldiers in uniform, babies still in their lacy baptismal gowns, young women in flowery dresses, teenage boys in straw hats. And all with their mouths open wide in horror, screaming for all etemfy The silent screams of the un dead. Only dogs and small boys, they say, can hear those screams.

Not surprisingly, this set in motion Danny's lifelong fascination with death, juju, and all things macabre.

Instinct director Turteltaub, a tall, bearded thirtysomething dude, sits in the back of the sound booth, playing chess with a friend. I ask him how he came to work with Elfrnan. Turteltaub is genial, but refreshingly cynical.

"The easy answer? This is a Disney film, and they said to me, 'We have a two-picture deal with Danny, we owe him money. Please use Danny Elfman!' Seriously, though, any young director would want to work with Danny. First, he established a definitive style, and then he established an incredible range with in that style. The amazing thing about Danny is that he has a very strong wish to please the director, but knows you can't do it at the sacrifice of your own judgment. It's a delicate balance, be cause as big an ego as the composer has, the director has one just as big."

A movie floats on emotion, mood, atmosphere. The director knows the feel he wants his film to have, but how does he communicate it to the composer?

"The first thing we do is watch the movie together I say, 'I want music here, starting on this exact frame, and I want it to feel this way, have the mood of that.' He'll say, 'Really? I thought it should start later, be a little more upbeat.' I'll say 'Okay, but make sure when he jumps out of his seat you do a little thing there.

 

It's always about matters of degree. Is that schmaltzy or is that sweet? What sounds like suspense to Danny may sound like chaos to me. It's a delicate balance."

Meanwhile... Danny goes a liffle crazy. "When I'm composing I give up every thing," he says. "It's like going to jail. The joke around my house is that Danny is starting to serve his sentence. I behave like I'm going to jail. I go out and go crazy-want to do stuff before I have to turn myself in. When the doors shut, they stay shut. I'll be locked up for anything from six weeks to a couple of months or more. When I come out of it and I don't feel satisfied, I feel like I've thrown away three months of my life for nothing."

Turteltaub, like Rumplestiltskin, returns several weeks later to hear what Elfiman has spun: "We get back together and he plays a little of what it'll sound like. It's more than a sketch but less than a fin ished score. I sit and listen. I'll say, 'I didn't feel the emotion at the end,' or 'I wanted it a little scarier here.' He'll change what he feels comfortablechanging. Dealing with a composer is almost the most difficult part of working on a film. Composers have strong egos-they're talented, unique, compli cated, and highly paid. It becomes a negotiation between what he wants to change and what he feels capable of changing. In these matters I have learned when to take a backseat. Part of being a director-which is to say, being a psychotic control freak-is to learn when to trust other people's talents.

"Danny has a huge heart, and he's a wonderful oddball. But weirdness and oddness are a passion for Danny, not a religion. He doesn't live it. After all, Picasso didn't look like those people with two eyes [on one side of their face]. Still, your throat gets a little dry when you go to his house and see fetuses in jars and stuffed cats."


Fetuses in jars! Stuffed cats! There was obviously something more to this Elfman character than a talent for effortlessly evoking childlike whimsy and roiling passion. I call up Caroline Thompson, his ex-girlfriend, screenwriter of Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and director of Black Beautv (for which Danny wrote a score

as hallucinatory as the images in the film itself).

"Danny's like some unknown species of animal," says Caroline, "an animal from outer space. I fell in love with him when we went on this trip to Mexico for the Day of the Dead. I was utterly taken with him when he told me that as a kid he was afraid to step in puddles-rain puddles-because he was sure peo ple were looking up through them from hell. He's completely obsessed with death. Terrified of it. So many of his songs involve looking at death, looking at himself in the mirror and seeing death. He's got a lot of shrunken heads. They're his little friends. He's not a human being, I can guarantee it."

The Elfcave is in the Santa Monica mountains, down 90 steps at the boffom of a ravine. It was originally a small cabin, to which Danny kept adding extensions until it now resembles a sort of upscale favela. The rooms became more and more elaborate, until in the last room he added a litte stone alcove carved out of the side of the granite hill with the rock exposed and a beautiful domed ceiling painted blue with stars above it.

Every inch of space-the walls, the tables, the floors-is taken up with shrunken heads, skeletons in jars, peri scopes, telescopes, ancient medical instruments, and strange little toys. The cave overflows with grotesque tchotch kes and kitsch. Diane Arbus photo graphs of freaks, juju stuff, Jerome Witkin paintings, old dolls, fetish objects, religious articles.

And then there's the taxidermied cat that Mali, Danny's 14-year-old daughter by his former wife, Geri, loves to freak her friends with. The kids come over to pet the dear little pussycat and run away screaming.

Even his mother, Blossom, finds Danny a bit odd.

"That cat!" she tells me. "Stuffed! Worst thing I ever saw in my life. But then there are a lot of very dark things about Danny The first time he went to Europe-I was teaching English lit at the tim~he sent me a monkey's paw in a box."

"We were in a shop in New Orleans," says Caroline, "and a guy took us down to the basement to show us his special things, and among his special things

were actual artworks made by this child murderer He'd make a doll that repr~ sented each kill, and he would burn and maim these dolls. Torture the baby dolls. Danny got down on his knees and begged the guy for this collection.

"You know how some boys become arrested with military thingies?" she adds. "I think Danny became arrested with skeletons. He's got a lot of 12-year- old in him."

If only this sybaritic sinking back into childhood, the piles of money, the fame, the sci-fi gadgetry, and the collection of shrunken heads brought Elfman hap piness!

 

So far, the only Oscar nominations Elfman has received have been for Good Will Hunring and Men in Black, both in 1998. Neither won. Considering his extraordinary range and virtuosity, this seems random and perverse on the academy's part, but Elfman doesn't seem particularly bothered by it.

"My general opinion of musical-score nominations is cynical at best," he says. "I covet no prizes or trophies, but what's the point in saying that? It's what every- one says, and absolutely no one be lieves them."

Advancing Herrmann's scatological imagery, Danny explains his own dis satisfaction: "Three out of four film scores I write, I come out of feeling whorish and dirty and tucked-over. That makes me bitter I think film music is shit right now. We're in an era of forced plagiarism, celebrated plagia rism. When young composers come to me for advice, I tell them, if you want to be successful, steal. Steal from me, from John Williams. And if you can steal fast and can do it dependably under pressure, you'll be successful. That, of course, makes me bitter, because I still love the art and want to believe in it. I steal stuff too, but I have one rule: I only steal from the dead. I'm paying homage to ghosts."


What, then, does Elfman really, really want?

'~he most joy I've had in the past tive years has been from the stories I've been writing. One is a twisted musical, very Edward Goreyjan. And a ghost story called Jullar~it's similar to those wonderful old Alec Guinness dry, dark comedies like The Ladykillers and The Lavender Hill Mob, with no special effects or sound shocks."

And, like everybody else in Holly- wood, he wants to direct. It's hard to blame him. Once you've been bitten by the movie bug, it's hard not to want that. But it's difficult. I can't think of a compos er who's made the transition.

"If I got my notice tomorrow that I was fired from film composing," says Danny, I wouldn't even be sad. I'd cel ebrate. I'd say, 'Great, now I can make peculiar albums in my studio.' Even if there was only an audience of 12 pe~ pie for it."

I remind him he's calling me from his car phone on the way to look at another, bigger house for himself (in the neigh borhood of $3 million, I've been told). I've had my old house since I began writing film scores, and I'm hoping that if I move it'll all go away Like maybe it all had to do with that house!"

The artist wants to quit, but the child won't let him.

The 12-year-old wants tons of money," says Caroline, "to buy a gigan tic house so that he can fill it with odd objects. A 12,000-square-foot house is no longer big enough for his dead-toy collection!"

I began to see Danny's collection as a sort of phobic counterbalance to a career he had come to despise. The more famous he became, the more renown and riches were heaped upon him, the more elaborate his counter- life would have to be. By day he toiled in the vineyards of Hollywood. At night, like some fantastic crustacean, he was building a gruesome, phantas magoric Xanadu in the Santa Monica mountains.

Let's face it, "hobby" is an insufficient way of describing Elfman's collecting mania. A hobby is collecting Beanie Babies, say, or bottle caps. Danny's thing is more in the nature of pathologi cal obsession. When I ask him about his bizarre and morbid interests, his cagey answer has the balmy ring of Morticia Addams explaining her hobbies to a nosy neighbor. "'Bizarre' and 'morbid' are subjective words," he says.

"Oh come on, Danny, shrunken heads and fetuses in jars?"

"The skeleton of a fetus," he corrects with the tone of a man sorely misunder

stood. "I actually love bones, the loveli ness of human bones. Animal bones can be very beautiful when put togeth er-sculptural. Unlike serious goth col lectors, I draw the line at the truly macabre. I don't have any John Wayne Gacy paintings, for instance. I believe in juju, my collection is based on juju. Over time things get juju. Like an old doll. Just from being in somebody's life for a long time."

"Hold on, isn't this what used to be called antiques?"

"No, juju is something made with a lot of feeling and intent. I've been collecting juju since I was 18. I have a shriveled human finger from New Mexico. It's attached to a little card that says, 'From an Apache warrior. Found in kit Car son's cave.' I have a lot of Haitian juju. Polished wood with cowne shells, part of a monkey's skull attached to a wood en carving of a man wrapped in fur"


I head back to my unheated guest house and dream strange dreams. I dream I am peeking through Elfman's window and see mummies stacked in piles. The screaming mummies of Guanajuato~he'd bought them all!

Through a mullioned window I see Danny pacing up and down, cracking his bullwhip. Behind him on rows of hard wooden benches sit beaten men with bowed heads~undocumented Bulgar ian composers, no doubt-sweating over sheets of music. So he does farm out his scores! The swine!

Suddenly there is a shuffling noise behind me. The mummies have got out and they are coming for me, mumbling something about three-movie deals, Heidi Fleiss, and monogrammed 24- carat toothpaste-tube rollers. I run up the 90 steps, my heart pounding. A dog with the face of Otto Preminger is yap ping at my heels. I don't turn around.

I get in my dented rental car and make a beeline for the airport. I pray to the angel of chapped lips and studded snow tires to deliver me from this town. I began to see the whole tawdry place in a new light. The glass pyramid of the Sony executive building glows with sin ister menace. Is there, perhaps, a sacri ficial altar at its apex?

All of them witches, all trying to lure you into their diabolical scheme. Holly wood, ruled by the occult. How else can you possisbly explain actors who can't act becoming worldwide celebrities? Or brain-dead directors churning out an endless stream of moronic movies? How else but through the dark arts could the movie business have overtak en the aerospace industry as the biggest employer in California? An entire stat~bigger than some coun tries-whose principal export is illusion. If that ain't satanic, buddy, I don't know what is.O+~