Los Ángeles is known as the City of Angels. Pasadena is known as the City of Roses. Before LA became the epicenter of institutional cultism, it was born in a little town in the hills of a valley occupied by wealthy people, orange groves and roses.
Hence, the Rose Bowl. Also the home of Jackie Robinson, former Black Panthers and one of the first Manson followers. It’s a quiet, yet strange place. Which is why the show Strange Angel, is a good introduction to how Pasadena was developed. Staples like JPL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and CalTech are included to show the through-line between money, ideas and actual science. The show itself is a genre-confused take on the mysterious Jack Parsons, a blue collar worker who dreams up rocket science. He also likes drugs and the occult. Sex magik is included, but it’s all shenanigans and it’s only the 1930s.
Then, a young man, or grifter, named Lafayette Ronald Hubbard came along. He was also into science, fiction, the occult and narcissism. L. Ron Hubbard married Parsons second wife and began his Scientology journey. One that has borrowed over and over from the past. Ecclesiastes said “there’s nothing new under the sun” and boy was that one book in the Bible right. These men sought power where they felt it lacking in their own sense of self. They used this knowledge of shame to manipulate friends into followers and free people into automatons.
What fascinates me is that this is the story of the town adjacent to where I grew up. The place you refer to because people have never heard of the town from which you come. The Gamble House. The Norton-Simon Museum. The Huntington Library. All names of the wealthy that influenced Pasadena’s growth. Proctor and Gamble is a huge company and have always circulated stories about one of their founders being in a cult. I have always said my Dad worked for the devil…partly true.
It’s a wonder that we still see these intersections of science fiction, men in power, sexual abuse dressed as choice and freedom; even magic. But none of these people manifested magic. Unless you count going to space and adding to carbon emissions like there’s no tomorrow. Unless the Hydrogen Bomb was, like, a cute idea. That hiding within or decimating a community could buy you time to reach that next stepping stone.
If they’re not running from the law, it’s the IRS. Scammers. Point blank. I marvel at their ability to network and fundraise. It’s like these start-ups that aren’t going anywhere but the “face” of the potential brand/product is enticing and, again, mysterious. Mystery is a genre in literature. In reality, these are called secrets and lies.
And then there’s the freeway that burrowed through the hills, to connect Pasadena to Downtown Los Angeles and the upheaval of an entire community to make way for Dodger Stadium.