How did a Tibetan refugee with no formal religious training become the most powerful Tibetan Buddhist leader in the West and a best-selling author, while he beat, abused and humiliated his followers?
This book finally sheds light on a decades-long story of deception and moral corruption that is the background to the life of the infamous Tibetan lama, Sogyal Rinpoche, who died on August 28, 2019, in Bangkok, aged 72.
Co-authors Mary Finnigan and Rob Hogendoorn have traced the entire history of Sogyal, from his origins in a family of traders in rural Tibet, through their flight to India after the Chinese invasion, to his arrival in Cambridge, England, accompanied by the Prince of Sikkim. It was here that Mary, a professional journalist, first met him in 1973.
This renowned guru, who came to be revered by thousands around the world, was accused of violating dozens of his aides and devotees over the past thirty years. The authors – an investigative reporter and a specialist in Tibetan Buddhism – have gathered all available evidence from victims and eyewitnesses to tell a tale of sexual exploitation, physical violence, emotional manipulation and relentless denigration. It was all perpetrated by a holy man with fabricated credentials and covered up by his foundation.
Living secretly in self-imposed exile in Thailand in his final years while being treated for colon cancer, he remained beyond the reach of police investigations and civil suits underway in five countries. His organization, the Rigpa Fellowship, is still in business, with over a dozen active centers in the West.
Early complaints from his followers were met with denials and doctrinaire obfuscations. Then in the mid-1990s, soon after publication of Sogyal’s best-selling The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, more women came forward with accusations. In the UK, the mainstream media started to take an interest. Mary Finnigan’s piece in the Guardian and her broadcast on BBC Radio 4 were followed by Mick Brown’s cover feature in the Telegraph Magazine.
Galvanized by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, the trickle of accusations has slowly turned into a flood in recent years. His organization’s cover-up attempts wore thin after the Dalai Lama himself stepped in.
The book does not sensationalize the perverse behavior that caused untold suffering to scores of devotees. It’s a fact-based account, backed by exhaustive research grounded in decades of first-hand knowledge by two Buddhist practitioners. It’s also a story about the culture clash that occurs when an exotic émigré from a feudal, patriarchal Tibet is greeted with unwitting acceptance and adulation by spiritual seekers in 21st-century liberal democracies.
Mary Finnigan was born in Manchester, England just before the start of World War II. Marrying an older man at eighteen, she produced two children before moving to London and landing a job as a fashion writer on the Daily Mirror. Her print journalism career included feature writing at the Daily Sketch, Daily Express and freelance at the Sunday Times and The Guardian.
During a five-year holiday from the five-day week, in 1969 she met the legendary rock star David Bowie, who introduced her to Tibetan Buddhism. Her devotion to this comprehensive spiritual path has remained steadfast ever since.
Returning to her journalism career, Mary worked as a reporter, editor and producer at Visnews, Independent Radio News and the London Broadcasting Company.
Mary met Sogyal Lakar, aka Rinpoche, in 1973, helping him to set himself up as a lama before becoming skeptical about his credentials. With her journalistic training running in tandem with her appreciation for Tibetan Buddhism, she embarked on a campaign to match contemporary ethical values with the fundamentals of Buddhist view and practice.
Mary and her co-author Rob Hogendoorn pooled their skills and resources after meeting on social media. Mary lives in Devon, England with her partner Chris Gilchrist.
Rob Hogendoorn (1964) studied law at the Erasmus University at Rotterdam, Netherlands. After graduating as a Master of Law, he worked as a coordinator for the Centre for Applied Ethics at its Faculty of Philosophy, co-editing two books on environmental philosophy.
In 1993-1994, he spent a year among Tibetan communities in India, researching law from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective. After that, he focussed his research on the Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s conversations with (mostly) Western scientists. To this end, he attended several Mind & Life conferences and summer schools and taught about Mind & Life during a Science for Monks workshop in Sera Monastery in India.
For the past six years he has researched and published on sexual abuse by Buddhist teachers, both as an investigative reporter and an unaffiliated scholar.
The last two years he has focussed on researching the formative years of Sogyal Lakar, formerly known as Sogyal Rinpoche. He presented a paper on his findings during the 2018 meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Denver, Colorado.
Rob is married with three adult children. He lives in Maasland, near Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.
News & Views
Diaspora Tibetan Buddhism
Mary Finnigan looks back on the 46 years
since she first met Sogyal in London
Rewind to 1974 and the tail end of the 60s cultural revolution. The days when idealism, radical politics, psychedelic drugs and spiritual values were the drivers of a youth movement that very nearly changed the world.
A young Tibetan lama had just arrived in London. He asked me to help him set himself up as a Buddhist guru. I agreed, with genuine enthusiasm at the prospect of being involved with activity that would benefit many people.
Sogyal Lakar aka Tulku aka Rinpoche was articulate, persuasive and very successful as a messenger on behalf of the lineage holders of Tibetan Buddhism who had fled into exile following the Chinese takeover of Tibet.
For a while that was his role—a facilitator, organiser and occasionally translator for the late, great lamas who were eager to spread their influence into the western world.
Rob Hogendoorn on the UK Charity Commission’s
findings from investigating Sogyal’s Rigpa Fellowship
Present-day Lamaism, the worship of deified Tibetan Buddhist teachers by Western converts, crashes into the rule of law this week. It is bad enough that the Charity Commission for England and Wales makes known that wilful British trustees of the Rigpa Fellowship in London put devotees of Sogyal Lakar (previously known as Sogyal Rinpoche) at risk of harm. They were found to be untruthful and unfit to serve. Hopefully, their dismissal provides a modicum of solace to those who were hurt by their actions. Worse, though, the inquiry proves that the ‘excuses’ and ‘justifications’ that explain away abusive behaviour by Tibetan Lamas—which have been peddled for decades—are a write-off: Democracies governed by the rule of law provide no room for the slavish, feudal respect accorded to abusive Tibetan Buddhist teachers by a pretense of “guru devotion.”
‘Sogyal was a charlatan who was never trained as a lama. But we did not know this in the 1970s. We were naïve, ill-informed, and enthusiastic. We felt lucky to be involved with a charismatic Tibetan guru.’
Mary Finnigan’s presentation for a July 2020 online seminar hosted by Inform
Learn more about Inform, “an independent educational charity providing information about minority religions and sects which is as accurate, up-to-date and as evidence-based as possible.”
Review in Nova Religio
A review by Scott Lowe in the August 2020 issue of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions
Sogyal Rinpoche, the author of the bestseller The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (2012), has been much in the news over the last year, first as the villain in a cascading torrent of abuse charges and then for dying. The present book, published just before his death, puts the final nails in his coffin.
The lurid title of this book is misleading, for the primary focus of the text is on sex and violence in the unsavory career of the late Sogyal Lakar (1947–2019) not Tibetan Buddhism as a whole. While a few pages are devoted to generalized allegations about the sex lives of Tibetan Buddhist lamas (gurus) and their institutional conspiracy of silence, most of the sex and violence alluded to in the title is attributable to Sogyal alone.
‘Sogyal Rimpoche; my very good friend,
but he’s disgraced’
A review by Dhivan Thomas Jones in
the Western Buddhist Review, July 2020
The headline comes from an address by the Dalai Lama, given in Ladakh in August 2017, after eight former students of Sogyal Rimpoche wrote an open letter to their teacher, regarding his physical and sexual abuse of students as well as his indulgent lifestyle. Although accusations of abuse against him went back to 1990, this letter was the beginning of the end for a Tibetan teacher who had headed Rigpa, a large and successful international Buddhist movement. For the Dalai Lama to publicly acknowledge that Sogyal Rimpoche was disgraced was significant, in that Tibetan teachers generally do not comment on such matters. Sogyal stepped back from involvement in the movement he had founded and died of cancer in Thailand in 2019. The future of Rigpa is now in doubt, with members of Sogyal’s inner circle, who have been found to be complicit in his abuse, apparently still involved.
Kate Cotton, Mid-Devon Advertiser
February 7, 2020
Author and journalist Mary Finnigan, of Newton Abbot, has penned a damning book on a former international Buddhist figure, now exposed as an abuser.
Since publication she’s received a backlash of denial from Sogyal Rinpoche’s devotees in the Buddhist community, but also unleashed more revelations from his victims.
Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism, The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche is based on Mary’s own experiences of the late Sogyal Rinpoche, as well as academic sources and eyewitness accounts. Sogyal died last year, not long after Mary’s book was first published.
Jane Clinton on the downfall of a holy man who began his rise to prominence in the squats of north London
He made the squats of Kentish Town and Camden Town his home as he began his quest for global fame. It was the 1970s and there was great interest in Tibetan Buddhism in the UK when the Buddhist teacher Sogyal Rinpoche made his way to London. Sogyal would make a huge impression on people hungry for his teachings. However, beneath the seemingly benign exterior was a man who was alleged to have sexually and physically abused his followers who had helped him make his name.
Now a new book lifts the lid on the claims of abuse and misconduct by Sogyal, who died in August last year.
Author comments on the legacy of a fugitive Tibetan lama
Sogyal Lakar, aka Sogyal Rinpoche, died in Bangkok on August 28, 2019, after a long battle with colon cancer. For the past two years he had been on the run from criminal and civil suits in several countries. Authors Mary Finnigan and Rob Hogendoorn, whose book came out two months before Sogyal died, reflect on his legacy:
Mary: “I sympathise with those who are bereaved by his passing but Sogyal’s death does not alter the facts of his life. Karma is inexorable so as a Buddhist I think his passage through the after-death state will be a rough ride. In the 45 years since I first met him and helped him get established in London, I have watched a life of depravity and excess unfold in the name of enlightenment. The physical and psychological injuries inflicted on his many victims drove me to write this book.”
Rob: “I don’t rejoice in anyone’s death, and I empathise with Sogyal’s son, Yeshe. I feel much more sympathy for Sogyal Lakar’s countless victims, many of whom remain anonymous and neglected even now. I also believe that it is illustrative that it is only after his passing, and now he is out of reach of the judiciary, that his entourage publicly confirms that Sogyal hid in Thailand. Sadly, it goes to show how manipulative Sogyal and his entourage remained until the very end.”
A British charity founded by a disgraced Buddhist guru, who died last week after he was accused of sexual misconduct towards some of his followers, faces further controversy after it emerged that one of its trustees was found responsible for covering up abuse.
Patrick Gaffney was a trustee of the Rigpa Fellowship, which was founded by the Tibetan guru Sogyal Lakar, known as Sogyal Rinpoche, who died aged 72 in Thailand on Wednesday after going into hiding following the claims.
Weeks before Lakar’s death, Gaffney – the guru’s right-hand man who co-edited his bestselling The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying– was banned by a watchdog from working with charities for eight years.
The British devotee, 70, who Lakar described as “one of my oldest and closest students” after the pair met at Cambridge University in 1970, faced the sanction after an inquiry by the Charity Commission.
Richard Sandomir, The New York Times
August 29, 2019
A friend of the Dalai Lama’s, he wrote a popular book about life, death, and the afterlife that updated “The Tibetan Book of the Dead.”
Sogyal Rinpoche, a charismatic Tibetan Buddhist teacher and best-selling author who abruptly retired after several of his students accused him of multiple acts of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, died on Aug. 28 in a hospital in Thailand. He was in his early 70s.
The cause was a pulmonary embolism, his care team announced. He had received a diagnosis of colon cancer in September 2017.
Two months earlier, his reputation as a popular teacher of Buddhism and longtime friend of the Dalai Lama’s unraveled when eight students wrote a damning, heart-rending letter that outlined allegations of years of abuse by Sogyal Rinpoche against them.
“Why did you inflict violence upon us and our fellow Dharma brothers and sisters?” they wrote, describing incidents that had set him off, like his food not being hot enough, his assistant being inattentive or his girlfriends upsetting him. (Sogyal Rinpoche was not a monk.)
Sogyal Lakar, known as Sogyal Rinpoche, who has died aged 72, was a Tibetan Buddhist lama whose book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, made him, after the Dalai Lama, perhaps the most globally recognised Buddhist teacher.
Published in 1994, and notionally based on an ancient mortuary text known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Sogyal’s book provided a readily accessible introduction to the Buddhist teachings on a happy life and good death.
The growing interest in Tibetan Buddhism, largely through the activities of the Dalai Lama, and the rise of the hospice movement and a more open discussion about “how we die”, made the book extremely timely.
Clinicians and psychologists applauded it for the comfort it offered to the terminally ill, and the actor and comedian John Cleese described it as “one of the most helpful books I have ever read”. It went on to sell more than three million copies around the world, making Sogyal something of a spiritual celebrity and enabling him to establish teaching centres in America, Europe and Australia.
But he was later engulfed in allegations of sexual and physical abuse against his followers that would lead to his downfall. A man once celebrated as one of the most eminent and skilful exponents of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings became instead a symbol of the perils that may arise when Westerners fall in thrall to esoteric spiritual teachings which they may not fully understand, and when Eastern teachers are exposed to the glamour and temptations of celebrity worship.
A customer review on Amazon.co.uk by Alex Wilding (4.0 out of 5 stars)
This book is well worth a read by anyone involved in or interested in any spiritual movement.
It includes an almost forensic – yet very readable – dissection of how a sexually voracious and ultimately abusive, untrained and unqualified opportunist, Sogyal Lakar, seized the opportunity offered by a constellation of factors: Westerners’ spiritual hunger and the gullibility that thrives in the needy; an unwillingness to probe; a simple inability to ask the right questions, because of our ignorance; a willingness to indulge the sexual and culinary gluttony of someone believed to be extraordinary; the patriarchal, even misogynistic culture of old Tibet, along with its class-ridden unwillingness to be seen to criticise; the only-too-understandable urge of the Tibetan community – a community that has been slaughtered and tortured out of its own land – to pull together and look after its own, trying to sweep the appalling behaviour of one of its best-known representatives under the sofa. These are some of the ingredients of this ghastly cocktail.
A customer review on Amazon.co.uk by Eli (4.0 out of 5 stars)
Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche certainly has an attention-grabbing title – in fact, my first thought was that this was possibly too sensationalistic in tone, a little reminiscent of ‘click-bait’ – but it certainly lives up to its title.
I should preface this review by briefly stating my background and credentials – I’m a Psychologist who has been studying Buddhism for over twenty-five years; mostly in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I had seen Sogyal Lakar on a couple of occasions in London and Glasgow, at public talks, and briefly spent some time with the Manchester Rigpa group (who were all exceptionally lovely and level-headed people).
My very brief encounter with Sogyal Lakar was at a London talk (in the late Nineties) where he swiftly (and I sensed reluctantly) signed my copy of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying with a mere, dismissive squiggle – I noticed his customary smile and jolly demeanour was notably absent at that point of the evening, as someone near me had called out “How’s your son, Rinpoche?” which seemed (to me at the time) a rather personal question to shout out at your teacher, and appeared (at least to my ears) to have the tone of a taunt.
In short, I never felt that all-important ‘karmic connection’ (which Tibetans refer to as Tendrel) towards him, and I felt uncomfortable with the level of fawning bordering on fanaticism that I observed at these large gatherings.
Tibetan Buddhism Enters the 21st Century: Trouble in Shangri-la
A long read from independent scholar Stuart Lachs in Open Buddhism, Rob Hogendoorn’s new website
“What convinces masses are not facts, not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the illusion.”
Buddhism in the 21st century is fairly well established, both in the United States of America and in Europe. This is true for the surviving branches of Buddhism: Theravada, Zen or Chan, and Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism. Recently both Zen and Tibetan Buddhist groups in the West have been rocked by scandals involving prominent, well-established teachers with titles such as Zen master, Roshi, Rinpoche, Lama, Sakyong, and so on – who are understood by their followers and even by non-followers, to be enlightened beings. Importantly, it is the institutions – that is, the leading authorities representing these traditions – who present these leaders as enlightened beings, and this is also how they have presented themselves to a believing public.
Buddhism and Traditions
The rather earthly nirvana of the rapist lama
Translation of Claude Ardid’s report in the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, on a defamation suit brought by the French Rigpa center, Lerab Ling, against Midi Libre and a lawyer accused of suggesting they were a cult
“Yes, my daughter has been raped several times by Sogyal Lakar.” Guy finishes his testimony. The president of the Criminal Court of Montpellier asks him to complete his story. Then he tells of his trip into the heart of Rigpa Lerab Ling, “the sanctuary of awakened activity,” a Buddhist center located north of Lodève in Herault. He elaborates on his spiritual retreats, his closeness to Sogyal Lakar, known as “the precious one,” the founding lama of the center. He describes how the drama unfolded: “It was in a letter that my daughter told me that she was under his spell. He had made her a puppet. I asked her to file a complaint in court. But a follower of Buddhism, even assaulted, does not rebel against her master.”
Sitting behind Guy is the lawyer Jean Baptiste Cesbron, who nods assent. He represents the National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and Individuals who are Victims of Cults (UNADFI). He is the one who exposed the scandal by granting an interview to the regional newspaper, Midi Libre. He quotes testimony from “students” – all victims of Sogyal Lakar – who report “physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse” from the one they worshipped. Cesbron has only done his job. But he is in the dock with Midi Libre, both being sued for defamation. The lawyer is alleged to have suggested that the Buddhist community was a cult. “This is untrue,” he retorts. “My only purpose was to expose the criminally reprehensible practices of a lama who acted with impunity for years.”
Cesbron also presents a letter from Sogyal Lakar’s former assistant, who wrote: “In 2014, during the retreat of the senior students at Lerab Ling, he asked us to be generous in offerings: no checks, no credit cards, only cash! What has become of this money? Nobody knows… ”
The case is so serious that the assistant ends up filing a complaint with the gendarmerie. Panic among the Buddhists. But nothing happens. The Dalai Lama, who inaugurated the center a few years earlier, is satisfied with a pithy statement: “Sogyal was my friend, but not any more.” As for Matthieu Ricard, close to the Dalai Lama, he kicks the ball into touch: “It is up to the disciples to unmask the fraud. It is not our role to work as vigilantes. Buddhism is not organized, hierarchical, as is the case, for example, with the Catholic Church.” Yet he ends up calling Sogyal Lakar’s actions “unacceptable.”
Unacceptable, but the “master” continues to pass on his knowledge in Lerab Ling, a kind of Disneyland of Buddhism, nestled on the Larzac plateau. Twenty-five thousand visitors and 4 million euros in annual revenues, an authentic cash cow. It was only in 2016, fearing the wrath of justice, that “the precious one” ended up fleeing to the end of the world.
“Do not expect anything from Buddhism,” says Jean-Pierre Jougla, a former lawyer and eternal defender of sects, quoted by the defense attorney, who continues: “Buddhism is a religion like any other, but it is also a feudal society where nobody questions the actions of the leader. A society where the levying of taxes and the droit du seigneur are still in place. But to confess this would create confusion in the heads of the 600,000 French Buddhists. Too bad this lawyer today finds himself in the dock with the accused!”
The court’s decision is due July 17th.
“I write this review of “Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism” with a heavy heart. There are no winners in this sad story except perhaps those unwitting future students who having been fully apprised and forewarned will avoid getting embroiled in such organisations as Rigpa and will be spared the anguish of many who did. They will have Mary Finnigan and Rob Hogendoorn to thank for that. Hopefully they will now look elsewhere and find capable teachers of Tibetan Buddhism who will not betray their trust and will guide them along an authentic and beneficial spiritual path. The ones who have suffered are not only those who wisely resorted to their basic intelligence and left, but also those who have remained and not least perhaps Sogyal himself who came to believe in the distorted reflection of a flawed Guru Yoga that he came to create and tragically apparently became lost in a downward spiral.
What I find so sad is that I doubt anyone intended this to be the case or believed it could possibly happen. Other commentators here have clearly stated the various causes they deem to be responsible. I would add the ingredients of human fallibility and the limited understanding that many lamas appear to have of western psychology.
Rigpa senior management was notorious for its blatant policy of covering up the goings on behind closed doors within Rigpa establishments, perhaps emulating the Tibetan cultural habit of sweeping inconvenient matters under the carpet and indulging in double speak of saying one thing in public and quite another in private. Well known lamas are also at fault for knowing about the problems with Sogyal and doing nothing, thus setting a vestige of acceptability around his behaviour so that suddenly to the incredulity of many standing on the sidelines watching the disaster unfold, Sogyal was promoted as being a master of crazy wisdom.
Mary Finnigan and Rob Hogendoorn are to be commended for sending a fusillade of revelations into the rotten core of an expanding culture of violence and abuse masquerading as teaching methods of Vajrayana. As committed Buddhists themselves, I think they have managed this with a sense of responsibility and care towards fairness.
For anyone who loves the essential pure wisdom that the Tibetan tradition has to offer and can see the danger or it being twisted by a band of unqualified Rinpoches and their devoted but mislead students caught up in a hall of distorted mirrors, I hope this book will clear the mists as it clearly lays out in detail many of the facts that Rigpa management tried to keep hidden. Facts that I imagine were not known by a large number of the students who will be reeling from the shock of all the recent exposure. For their sake I very much hope that the higher echelons of Tibetan lamas and western teachers will now wake up and realize that enough is enough and give their full support to HH Dalai Lama who has been almost single-handedly warning westerners about the feudal influences corrupting the integrity of authentic transmission of Buddhist wisdom and compassion. No-one can now pretend that they didn’t know.”
– Toria Selwyn’s review on Amazon.co.uk
“Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism gives a detailed insight into Sogyal Rinpoche’s place in the institution of Tibetan Buddhism. The authors show how Sogyal, supposedly an enlightened and therefore entirely selfless, sacred Vajrayana master was in fact the opposite, intent on living a high life while maintaining a “harem” of young attractive women to serve his every desire. The authors show how Sogyal was only able to maintain his exalted position because for decades, he received endorsements from Tibetan Buddhism’s highest lamas. The reader will learn of the pitfalls, in spite of their claims to owning wisdom, of unquestioningly following strictly hierarchical religious institutions, especially when they operate on a transcultural level.”
– Stuart Lachs, Independent scholar and long-time Chan/Zen practitioner
“A fascinating book that sums up decades of in-depth research and personal involvement in a very important and overlooked topic. Mary Finnigan and Rob Hogendoorn’s work on sex and violence in Western Buddhist circles offers readers both recent information and incisive insight into the problematic situation of many European Dharma centres. Coming from Buddhist practitioners who wish to preserve their adopted tradition from ethical corruption and help prevent more suffering, this book is very welcome.”
– Marion Dapsance PhD, author Les dévots du bouddhisme and Qu’ont-ils fait du bouddhisme
“In ‘Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche’ onthullen co-auteurs Mary Finnigan en Rob Hogendoorn hoe de bekende Tibetaans boeddhistische leraar Sogyal zijn volgelingen seksueel misbruikte, fysiek mishandelde en stelselmatig bedreigde—en hoe dit decennialang werd toegedekt door diens devote entourage.”
Sex and Violence in Tibetan Buddhism: The Rise and Fall of Sogyal Rinpoche
Trade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
$19.95; UK £15.95; EU €17.95
July 1, 2019
25 B&W illustrations
Religion: Tibetan Buddhism
Social Science: Sexual Abuse & Harassment
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Arthur Penn’s Night Moves and the Rise of Neo-Noir
There is little doubt that Moseby Confidential will become an essential resource for anyone with an interest in Night Moves, as well as neo-noir, and the seventies film more generally. Diligently researched with close attention to the existing literature, archival material and supplemented by new interviews (including with Clark and Warren, and relatives of Penn and Sharp), Gear uncovers information about the movie’s development, production, and post-production that will be eye-openers for even the most avid fans of the film.
—Jonathan Kirshner, Mid Century Cinema
This definitive study of Arthur Penn’s Night Moves is the first extended monograph on the cult classic, which is often singled out as one of the great irreverent neo-noir movies of mid-1970s New Hollywood, alongside Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye and Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.
Author Matthew Asprey Gear draws on a wealth of new and unpublished archival interviews with key cast and crew members and witnesses to the production of one of the last radical private eye films of the period, starring Gene Hackman, Melanie Griffith and Jennifer Warren.
Moseby Confidential tells the story of the fraught collaboration between two artists of very different sensibilities – Scottish scriptwriter Alan Sharp, the hopeless fatalist; American director Arthur Penn, the agitating progressive. They came together in 1973 to make a dark film about an America bereft of answers. Everything seemed in place for a triumph. Finally, in careers plagued by compromise, there was both an adequate budget and artistic freedom.
Gene Hackman’s performance would expertly particularize an archetype fracturing before our eyes – the knightly private detective unable to solve his case, the macho American male desperate for certainty but lost at sea. But neither Penn nor Sharp was satisfied with the resulting movie and disagreed over its final form.
After a long delay, Warner Brothers cut its losses and dumped Night Moves into cinemas with a half-hearted publicity campaign. The movie’s reviews were mixed and it failed to make a profit in the summer of 1975. That season was dominated by Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, which provided Hollywood with a new and super-profitable model of film production.
Yet Night Moves is now recognized as one of the defining films of the 1970s, both as a profound human drama and as an enduring evocation of the zeitgeist. This Technicolor neo-noir helped reinvent and redeem the private detective movie, while offering deep and disturbing insight into the moral ambiguities of the Watergate era.
Matthew Asprey Gear
Matthew Asprey Gear is the author of At the End of the Street in the Shadow: Orson Welles and the City. His writings on film and literature have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Senses of Cinema, and Bright Lights Film Journal, and his fiction in many publications, including Crime Factory. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
News & Views
Check out the latest views on Night Moves
Thrilling Detective‘s take on Moseby Confidential:
“More than you ever knew you wanted to know about Arthur Penn’s classic 1970s noir. Considered by some to be one of the all-time great P.I. films, this in-depth look is at the film is full of insider dirt, interviews, critical analysis, and more, including the diverging visions of the film between Scottish scriptwriter Alan Sharp and American director Penn, neither of whom was happy with the final product. They were both wrong.”
The sixties were ending and Alan Sharp, a young Scottish novelist in America, found his muse on the frontier. By then everything seemed to be falling apart. Hopes and certainties had evaporated. Consensus was fractured. It was the bloody season of political assassinations. Thomas McGuane, another wild and libidinous young writer, would begin a Key West novel with an appropriately sweeping summation of despair: “Nobody knows, from sea to shining sea, why we are having all this trouble with our Republic.” Alan Sharp, no stranger to despair, also found his way to the sparkling waters, the fetid swamps, the heavy air of the Florida Keys.
Moseby Confidential: Night Moves and the Rise of Neo-Noir (Jorvik Press, 2019) is an interesting monograph of a hybrid nature. Written by Matthew Asprey Gear, author of the distinctive study At The End of the Street in the Shadow: Orson Welles and the City (Wallflower Press, 2016) and other stimulating publications, the publisher’s location is in Oregon but the name of the press derived from the Viking name for York, England, while its author now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. Naturally, this fusion fits the author’s independent status away from the treadmill of institutional academia allowing him to follow his own lines of research. This type of monograph would once have been within the scope of such works published by BFI Publishing, I.B. Tauris, Hong Kong University Press, and other companies that once prolifically engaged in this area. Today, it is gratifying to see an independent press continuing the tradition, which allows a renowned film critic to write about a film he champions.
Summer Reading Challenge 2019: Moseby Confidential – Matthew Asprey Gear
Andy Wolverton’s piece in his blog, Journeys in Darkness and Light: Exploring Film Noir, Classic Movies, and More
Most books written about individual films play it safe in two ways. First, such works are usually reserved for enormously popular titles that have stood the test of time. You’ll find books (often more than one) devoted to such classics as Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and any number of films directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Second, these books frequently begin with the germination of an idea, usually in the mind of a writer, screenwriter, or director, following it as it develops, picks up steam, starts and stops, stalls, and finally arrives to a thundering popular and/or critical ovation, either upon its initial release, or years (even decades) later. Night Moves (1975) was never an enormously popular movie, but it has slowly gained stature in the 40-plus years since its release, particularly in the film noir community. Matthew Asprey Gear’s new book not only celebrates a work fans refuse to relegate to the basement of forgotten crime films, it examines the film’s genesis in a somewhat unorthodox, yet fascinating, way.
From Jonathan Kirshner’s Mid Century Cinema website
Long-time followers of Mid Century Cinema know that we are, uh, somewhat fond of Arthur Penn’s neo-noir masterpiece Night Moves, which derives from an original screenplay by Alan Sharp and features an outstanding cast led by Gene Hackman, Susan Clark, and Jennifer Warren. We have previously written a review of the DVD release, posted about it here, and wrote at length about it in Hollywood’s Last Golden Age (which benefitted from gracious and generous interviews with Penn and Warren). It is on the list of our twenty-five favorite films (check out the company it keeps.) So it was with eager anticipation – and a hint of envy (more than a decade ago we pitched a Night Moves monograph for the BFI series, and you can deduce how that turned out) – that we cracked the covers of the hot-off-the-presses Moseby Confidential: Arthur Penn’s Night Moves and the Rise of Neo-Noir by Matthew Asprey Gear.
Review by Don Herron on his website, Up and Down these Mean Streets, “a hard-boiled blog with news, reviews of books and film, and a dash of noir.”
Matthew Asprey Gear’s previous film tome piled up over 300 pages covering the career of Orson Welles, but this year he’s taking it easy with a monograph half that length. Got to appreciate the guys sitting around knocking out monographs. Selecting Night Moves as the focal point for said monograph is pretty interesting, since it comes in during that early 70s era that saw the shooting of Chinatown (a Polanski classic, though my personal fave in his oeuvre remains The Fearless Vampire Killers) and The Long Goodbye (hated it then, hate it now — even having Leigh Brackett writing on it didn’t help).
Australian writer Andrew Nette’s review appears on his website, Pulp Curry. “Pulp, culture, crime, hardboiled and curried.”
To paraphrase Crocket, the cop character in Michael Mann’s 2006 movie, Miami Vice, I am a fiend for late 1960s/early 1970s American crime cinema. And Matthew Asprey Gear’s Moseby Confidential: Arthur Penn’s Nightmoves and the Rise of Neo-Noir, reminded me exactly why.Moseby Confidential is a monograph about the 1975 neo-noir, Night Moves, starring Gene Hackman as Harry Moseby. Moseby is a confused, disillusioned, deeply insecure, ex-professional footballer turned bottom feeding Los Angeles private investigator. As much to take his mind off suspicions his wife (Susan Clark) is having an affair as the need to turn a dollar, Moseby takes the job of finding the 16-year old tearaway daughter (a very young Melanie Griffiths in her first major screen role) of a washed-up Hollywood star. The case brushes up against the world of professional Hollywood stuntmen before taking Moseby to Key West, Florida, where the young girl is living with her stepfather and his hardscrabble girlfriend, Paula (a terrific performance by Jennifer Warren, who Asprey Gear interviews for the book).
One reads far too many monographs on films that are barely worth a capsule review, let alone thousands of words. This is why Moseby Confidential is so refreshing: the importance of the subject matches the quality of the work. Not only does the author intimately reconstruct the forces that came together to create this seminal film, he did it in a highly readable, authoritative way. This is not some navel-gazing pedant’s analysis, it’s an adventure story about making a key film in the detective genre. It catches and explores the cultural and cinematic overtones of Night Moves and confirms the quality of the talent that Arthur Penn, Alan Sharp, Dede Allen, and their collaborators devoted to this complex film.
Matthew Asprey Gear sharply and smartly captures both how this key film of the 1970s tapped into a critical, even cynical or downbeat tone of the times and how it served thereby as a marker of how far cinema had progressed as a form of social, existential, and self-reflexive investigation. Great research matched by passionate and consequential analysis.
Review on Amazon.com
Arthur Penn’s Night Moves and the Rise of Neo-Noir
Bakersfield brings the dark side of the 1950s dust-choked town to life in this Raymond Chandleresque tale of crime and corruption. A winner from a talented writer who knows how to keep the surprises coming.
— Phillip Margolin, New York Times bestselling author
of The Third Victim
Mid-1950s, and the post-war American dream has come into full focus in Southern California. Suburbia, freeways, fast food, television and nuclear paranoia. James Stone, a career cop in LA, is along for the ride – until he becomes enmeshed in an LAPD scandal that costs him his job, his wife and his home.
He finds himself exiled to Bakersfield, California, the only place he can still find work as a cop. It’s a mean little town. Hot, flat and dry. Dominated by agribusiness and oil and little else. But it’s also brewing the flip side of the American dream, with wild honky-tonks playing the first electric music, motorcycle gangs, the Ku Klux Klan, and test pilots from nearby Edwards air base slumming on weekends.
Stone works homicide and his first case is a murdered young girl found floating face down in the Kern River. It puts him in touch with Christine Harmon, who contracts as the county’s forensic pathologist and runs a small clinic on the side. At the time, woman doctors are almost non-existent, and Stone finds Harmon’s spirited independence fascinating.
His investigation takes him deep into the local bar scene, where young players like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard are just getting their start. But then a second homicide pops up, a very sticky one for this ultra-conservative, bible-thumping community. A wealthy businessman is found murdered in his home, apparently the victim of a vicious young drifter living at a seedy motel bar on the edge of town.
With the aid of Dr. Harmon, Stone follows a trail of depravity and corruption that reaches into the highest levels of the local business and legal community. And once again he finds himself caught up in a scandal that threatens to ruin him – and this time maybe even kill him.
Pierre Ouellette’s first two books were the science fiction thrillers The Deus Machine and The Third Pandemic (soon to be published as an eBook by Jorvik Press). Writing as Pierre Davis, he published A Breed Apart in 2009 and Origin Unknown in 2011. Under his own name, The Forever Man came out in 2014. Starting his working life as a professional guitarist, Pierre played in numerous Portland-area rock bands and jazz ensembles, including Paul Revere and the Raiders, Jim Pepper and David Friesen. He was a co-founder of KVO, a Portland-based ad/PR agency focused on science and technology, and served as creative director for two decades before the agency was sold in 2000. Pierre now works as a video/film producer and guitarist when not writing. He lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
News & Views
The following excerpt from Bakersfield: a Crime Novel
appears in Retreats from Oblivion: The Journal of NoirCon
“You ever meet Hitchcock?”
“I hear he hates cops. That right?”
“Wouldn’t know. Never asked him.”
“What about Bogart? Is he really an asshole?”
“Hard to say. He didn’t talk much.”
“I bet he drove a Cord or something […]
“5.0 out of 5 stars. A NOVEL TRUE CRIME STORY
An A+ real life crime novel. Pierre Ouellette, author of the near future science fiction classic The Deus Machine, has reinvented a true story of depraved Greatest Generation city fathers gone wild.
Happy Days noir. In 1955, Bakersfield was home to every Okie in California short of the Joads, here in the middle of mid-century American nowhere. Gas stations, liquor stores, no-tell motels and great country music– the young Buck Owens played all over town – and, thanks to the “Cradle Club,” drop dead beautiful fourteen-year-old girls dropping dead all over the place.
Enter James Stone, an unassuming exiled Los Angeles police detective who stumbles – as did his counterpart in real life – into one of the most bizarre crime cabals in American crime history.
Not pretty and if you want to see how old school cops really worked, this is the book to read. Bakersfield has everything but a soundtrack and will make a great movie – LA Confidential meets Nashville and they have a baby. It should be well worth the wait.”
“5.0 out of 5 stars. An unlikely setting for a quintessential tale
in the mode of LA noir
This is a great read. Convincing voice, to start with – calm, knowing, sharp. Then there are all the period details of Bakersfield, especially about the music, which Ouellette obviously knows from his fingertips up and didn’t just Google! His musical chops knead the prose. Same savvy with the sense of the town – how to move around it, images of the walking beams pumping away like nodding horses, keeping local time and sucking up all that oil. He’s really nailed the setting, and we haven’t even started with a comment on the plot, which is chilling and propulsive. Set in the early fifties, it evokes the matter-of-factness of the gender privilege of the day. Echt LA noir, too, with a detective we’d like to see taking on another case soon. Would make a great movie, too.”
“Suspenseful tale of an LA cop exiled to Bakersfield in the 1950s, where he discovers the dangerous, degenerate underbelly of the town.”
– Todd Grimson, author of Brand New Cherry Flavor and Stainless
“You’re going to love Bakersfield, I sure did.”
– Kent Anderson, author of Night Dogs,
a New York Times 1998 Notable Book of the Year
Local author draws on musical experience to write
gritty story of crime and corruption
Lake Oswego Review, October 11, 2018, by Barb Randall
Lake Oswego resident Pierre Ouellette can claim several job titles during his long career. He has been a professional guitarist, owner and creative director at a public relations agency, video producer and published author.
Now, he draws upon all of those experiences when writing. And on Oct. 15, he will release his sixth novel, Bakersfield.
I had forgotten that I, too, grew up existentially, until I read Ron Manheimer’s absorbing new book about life, aging, identity, and consciousness. Moving effortlessly between personal memoir and philosophical meditation, Manheimer takes us back and forth in time to raise timeless questions. The journey is intellectually exciting, for sure, as we encounter deep insights into the human condition – but it is also surprisingly and profoundly emotional. With a light touch, Manheimer stirs the soul. — Dan P. McAdams, Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University, author of The Art and Science of Personality Development
Philosophers, novelists and playwrights of the existentialist tradition continue to be reprinted, discussed and performed across the world, a testimony to their enduring relevance. Embracing the vitality of these engaging and provocative thinkers and writers, History of Consciousness philosopher Ronald Manheimer takes both newcomers and devotees on a personal search for meaning while addressing twelve key ideas that capture the essence of the existential outlook.
Exploring situations from everyday life, the author reflects on the most abstract existential terms, such as nothingness, temporality and absurdism. And since existentialism’s leading lights – Kierkegaard, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus – lived out their ideas in both private and public spheres, Manheimer delves into their biographies to provide a window into scenes of love and loss, war and political upheaval, friendship and betrayal.
Manheimer offers readers a personal view of how historical consciousness was transformed in Europe just as its reverberations reached American shores in the mid-twentieth century. While other philosophical movements such as structuralism, deconstructionism and post-modernism eclipsed the popularity of existentialism, the author shows how its thought currents have inspired the liberation movements of the 20th and 21st centuries – feminism, anti-colonialism, Black Power, and even the age revolution.
Ronald J. Manheimer
Ronald J. Manheimer holds a PhD from the History of Consciousness interdisciplinary graduate program of the University of California at Santa Cruz. His dissertation, Kierkegaard and the Education of Historical Consciousness, led to his first book, Kierkegaard As Educator (University of California Press, 1977). In 2003, an award-winning Korean translation of this book appeared with a new introduction by the author.
Manheimer has taught at UC Santa Cruz, San Diego State University, The Evergreen State College (Olympia, Washington), Wayne State University (Detroit), the Smithsonian, and the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where until his retirement in 2009 he held a joint appointment as Research Associate Professor of Philosophy and executive director of the NC Center for Creative Retirement (now OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute).
In his A Map to the End of Time: Wayfarings with Friends and Philosophers (Norton, 1999) Manheimer demonstrates the fruitfulness of combining dual interests in philosophy and narrative studies. This work has been translated into Chinese and Korean. His newest book, Mirrors of the Mind: Reflecting on Philosophers’ Autobiographies (Jorvik Press, 2015) extends this pursuit by capturing transformative moments in the first-person narratives of renowned thinkers.
Currently, Manheimer teaches philosophy courses at OLLI, conducts enrichment programs for elementary schoolchildren, chairs UNCA’s Center for Jewish Studies steering committee, is Chair Elect of the BJH Foundation of the Carolinas, serves on the editorial board of two academic journals, and provides consulting for non-profit organizations.
News & Views
Ronald Manheimer ’s Growing Up Existentially offers an authentic testimonial to the enduring relevance of existentialism in providing meaning to our individual and collective lived experiences. Each chapter invites the reader to behold a facet of the existentialist philosophical panorama. All along keeping the discussion relatable, personal, vivid and refreshing. The end product is a truly lucid and cogent story of existentialism that is exploratory, provocative and incredibly engaging.
Keya MaitraProfessor and Chair, Dept. of Philosophy, Univ. of North Carolina, Asheville
In this wise and learned book Ron Manheimer contemplates twelve “stars” in the constellation of human thought that illuminate our lifetime journey. Drawing on the existentialists, primarily Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, Growing Up Existentially engages the reader in a conversation on such eternal issues as love and death, being and nothingness, identity and authority. These larger questions, presented with admirable clarity, frame his own coming of age story. Manheimer takes us to Denmark in pursuit of Søren Kierkegaard and to Santa Cruz to meet his esteemed philosophical mentor. The readers join a hipster couple at a jazz club and sit with his dying mother at an Asheville hospice. Both memoir and meditation, this engaging book opens possibilities to each of us on how to live the good life.
Leonard RogoffResearch Historian for the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina
Growing Up Existentially: A Journey from Absurdity to Consciousnes
Trade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
$24.95; UK £18.95; EU €24.95
March 5, 2018
https://jorvikpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/growing-up-existential-300x450-1.jpg450300Tomhttps://jorvikpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/JorvikPressLogoWhite-345x156png-300x136.pngTom2018-03-05 16:24:082020-03-30 17:23:23Growing Up Existentially
For young women who have lacked the influence of a supportive father figure during their formative years, hindrances such as attachment disorder, co-dependence, sexual promiscuity, and feelings of unworthiness may have prevented them from pursuing their life’s goals and leading an emotionally healthy life.
Self-initiated emotional transformation is like trying to find your way through the dark in a blindfold and earmuffs. Without the aid of practical tools to help disperse the impediments, it’s hard to realize dreams and fulfill desires while haunted by behaviors rooted in the past.
Girls without Daddies identifies many of the harmful behavioral patterns women are locked into as a result of childhood experiences without a positive father figure. Using examples from her own life, as a fellow-sufferer who made it through a successful business career, the author outlines the key thought processes that can help overcome typical self-defeating behaviors to forge a better life – happy, stable and successful in relationships. As a kindred spirit herself, Cindy McPike provides a straightforward guide to emotional healing that is both personal and practical.
Table of Contents
1. Who Are the Girls Without Daddies?
2. Breaking Up is Hard to Do
3. Will You Always Feel Fatherless?
4. Judgement Causes Pain
5. Are You a Victim?
6. Own Your Feelings
7. Making Others Like You
8. Do You Avoid Conflict?
9. Do You Feel Worthless?
10. Do You Feel Like a Failure?
11. Finally, Emotional Maturity
12. Your Type of Guy
13. Using Sex to Get Your Man
14. Can Men Be Just Friends?
15. You Don’t Need to Be Rescued by a Man
16. Are You Attractive?
17. Are You an Optimist or a Pessimist?
18. When Daddy Returns
19. Faith as a Tool
20. Divorce is Ugly
21. Setting Goals
22. Domestic Violence and Abuse
After graduating from Hillsboro High School in Oregon, Cindy McPike received a BS in Business Administration from Portland State University. Her career as a certified public accountant began at one of the Big Four accounting firms. She left as a manager to become the Director of Internal Audit of a publicly traded utility. Most recently she was Chief Financial Officer of a publicly traded financial institution with over $10 billion in assets.
After taking early retirement, Ms. McPike now breeds champion Arabian and miniature horses on her ranch near Portland, Oregon
News & Views
This book is a revelation!
McPike has delved into an area that many have considered off limits. The book is a well-written testament to experiences of many women of all ages and walks of life who face this dilemma. It reads easily and weaves its heavy and serious undertones throughout as a tool for helping women to understand that they are not alone! I can see professors using it as required reading for their students!
Jacob ElliotAmazon reviewerhttps://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R33Q2UNR08Q37K/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0986377066 – Amazon US
A very well written book. Insightful and informative I have enjoyed the journey with Ms. McPike! I will be handing this book down to my granddaughters to read. Thank you for a tool for women to help understand their feelings.
Charlene PalmerAmazon reviewerhttps://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RSL8CGBGPOE38/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0986377066 – Amazon US
So many applicable things even for someone with a wonderful father. I loved the level of introspect, and self awareness that you encourage.
I would definitely recommend the book to someone without a father figure but also to anyone who is looking for life/relationship advice, not just for a dating relationship but even any relationship.
I think the levels of emotional maturity are KEY in any relationship but especially a dating one.
I will be going back and re reading bits and pieces that I want to remember better as I found a lot of helpful information! Thanks for a great productive read!
Jennifer R.Amazon reviewerhttps://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R1SWAE7W2DY4SI/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0986377066 – Amazon US
Girls Without Daddies: Filling the Void of a Fatherless Childhood
Trade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
$15.95; UK £12.95; EU €15.95
December 1, 2017
https://jorvikpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/girls-without-daddies-300x450-1.jpg450300Tomhttps://jorvikpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/JorvikPressLogoWhite-345x156png-300x136.pngTom2017-12-01 16:27:142020-04-14 16:25:32Girls Without Daddies
Rosemary Bailey gives an unsentimental yet heartbreaking account of her brother’s life, from his strict upbringing by a fundamentalist father, through ordination as an Anglican priest, then gay liberation, to his diagnosis with AIDS and a long debilitating illness that he never allowed to defeat him.
Rosemary captures the sad drama that consumes Simon Bailey, rector of the South Yorkshire village of Dinnington, as he breaks the news of his homosexuality and his illness, first to friends, then to close parishioners, and finally to his family, the church authorities and the media.
While slowly succumbing to AIDS, the Rev. Bailey continues to hold services in the parish church, while his parishioners care for him around the clock through his final months.
The story was the subject of the BBC Everyman documentary, Simon’s Cross.
Reviews of the first edition of Scarlet Ribbons
A priest can be anything, greedy, uncaring – and heterosexual. But if you are homosexual, you can be the most beautiful person in the world, but not a priest…
Rosemary Bailey has written a tender and soul-searching testimony of the progress and implications of her brother’s illness and of the love his ministry inspired in his parishioners … His struggle to accept the AIDS virus ravaging his body is remarkable for its courage and determination, as is his insistence that priests are flawed human beings like everybody else, and merely act as conduits between God and the world. Simon Bailey lived two years longer than his doctors expected him to, finished two books and continued to lead his community through the cycle of the Christian year until a few days before his death in 1995, at the age of 40. His pragmatic intelligence and impressive sense of responsibility led him to take a stubborn stand against the hierarchy in matters such as the ordination of women and the issue of sexuality and the priesthood, for he came to believe that his homosexuality contributed positively to his vocation. His sister describes with wonderment the traditional rituals he reintroduced in his services, and her documenting of the practical life of a church is fascinating. Above all, the dignity she discovers both in Simon and in all those who loved and supported him is inspiring. — Emily Ormond, The Observer
The book, unpretentious and geared to simplicity, has earmarks of a classic work in its genre… It is unabashedly honest – stripped to essentials, sparing no one’s feelings, refusing to yield to sentimentality – and at the same time, extraordinarily sensitive and tender. — Lambda Book Report
Successfully integrating her voices of loving sister and dispassionate reporter, the author… tells the life story of her brother, a gay priest in the Church of England. Drawing from his journals and sermons, from interviews with parishioners, other family members, and friends, the author traces the rocky path her brother walked from his youthful awareness of sexual difference, to his… years of ministry to Dinnington parish, and his final physical decline under the tender watch and care of his devoted parishioners. Much of the drama… unfolds in the step-by-step process by which the priest admits friends, close parishioners, family, church hierarchy, and the press, in that order, to the knowledge of his illness, a sequence that moves the author frankly to confess how “immensely sad” it is that she, her siblings, and parents were not among the first to be trusted with the news. That unself-justifying candor is part of what makes Bailey the perfect memorialist of her brother… The ambiguities in Simon’s life that the author preserves in her memorial of him will deepen and extend the impression he leaves. — Kirkus
This profound story tells of the life, and complicated death, of Simon Bailey, the Anglican priest in a Yorkshire mining village. After struggling to accept his identity as a gay male and becoming sexually active, Simon was faced with a foreshortened life when, in the early 1980s, he found out that he had AIDS. He told no one until he fell ill. In response, his friends, family, and parishioners rallied around him with care and support. This beautifully written book by Simon’s sister, a journalist, candidly takes things that may be unfamiliar, including gay sexuality, AIDS, Anglican spirituality, and English church life, and makes them familiar and human. This quiet story of profound faith and courage, in which the cross Simon bore led not only to death but to a quiet triumph of the spirit, is recommended for all public libraries. — Library Journal
Rosemary Bailey was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, and remained deeply attached to her native region until her death in February 2019. This was her first book, the story of her brother, the Anglican priest Simon Bailey, and the remarkable support he received from his Yorkshire mining village parish.
She wrote three further memoirs about her life in the French Pyrenees, another region she has grown to know and love. The best-selling Life in a Postcard (Bantam Books 2002) described living in a mountain village, the restoration of a ruined monastery and the history of the monks.
The Man who Married a Mountain (Bantam Books 2005) followed the romantic 19th century mountaineer Sir Henry Russell-Killough in his quest for the sublime.
Love and War in the Pyrenees (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2008) is an investigation of the Second World War, combining her own travels with contemporary interviews, documents and letters, described by the Jewish Chronicle as “a quiet triumph of historical reconstruction.”
Bailey was married to the biographer Barry Miles and had one son.
On World AIDS Day, we publish an edited extract from Rosemary Bailey’s memoir of her brother Simon, Rector of the pit village of Dinnington, who became known as “the Vicar with AIDS” after he was the subject of an Everyman television programme. The extract includes a reflection by Simon himself.
NameOptional subtitlehttps://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2017/1-december/faith/faith-features/dying-to-live – Church Times
My brother was the ‘priest with Aids’ – here’s how he turned a whole community around
We learned that my brother, Rev Simon Bailey, an Anglican priest, was HIV Positive in 1992. It was seven years after he was diagnosed. He had told no-one until then, but he was becoming increasingly ill. Our father, a Baptist minister, had died earlier that year and he told my mother first, just before she was due to visit me in London and so she had the task of telling me. (And we could support each other. Simon, the experienced priest, thought like that.) We’d had our suspicions – my sister, a nurse, had checked out his medications, but it was still devastating news. We sat and wept for hours.
As the Mersey Sound was slowly fading in 1965/6, it seemed that The Cavern Club was losing its relevance after closing its doors for a few months, due to the bankruptcy of Ray McFall in February 1966. But that was not the case – the club reopened in July 1966 and was world news again with Harold Wilson, the UK’s Prime Minister, officiating at the ceremony.
Nevertheless, this phase of The Cavern’s history does not arouse much interest among scholars. For example, Spencer Leigh, who has written three books on the subject, only touches lightly on the years 1966-69, devoting less than thirty pages to the period. It is hardly fair that no one has taken more interest in the time when the charismatic Alf Geoghegan took command. And when his daughter Debbie came to the rescue!
No, The Cavern did not enter a third incarnation in 1966 – quite the opposite. In the hands of another entrepreneur or corporate group that surely would have happened, but not with the good Alf at the helm. Alfred was the owner of Wilson’s, a small chain of Liverpool butchers, very popular among the locals. He was also blessed with abundant energy, a cheerful and kind character and a good eye for business. When he learned that the building owners were soliciting offers to take over the lease, Geoghegan got to work.
First he consulted with his daughter, Debbie. But her opinion was a foregone conclusion, because she had been practically living in The Cavern since 1961. She often went to both daily sessions at the club, saw all the groups, had been a Beatles fan since they dressed in leather, knew the sets and, above all, understood what the regulars liked. Debbie immediately advised her father to take over the venue and he insisted that she help run the club. Debbie must have thought she was in seventh heaven. Work at The Cavern!?
Alf, along with a partner, secured the lease for about £5,000, a very considerable sum in April 1966. The deal included use of the basements of numbers 8, 10 and 12 Mathew Street. In no. 8 was the original club, while the already empty no. 10 had housed Cavern Sound Studios (independent of the club and with all equipment removed) and in no. 12, behind a brick wall, was another dusty empty basement, not unlike the Cavern proper. All this space now had a rear exit to an alley that ran parallel to Mathew Street and linked to it. This is something that, without knowing for sure, Pop Thing has always claimed based on evidence that has drifted in over the years.
With this expanded subterranean space at their disposal, Alf and his team undertook a renovation study that would respect the original club layout while including more leisure areas. In addition, there would be a wider entrance (actually, the old one was closed, but it was not altered at all) and modern electrical and sanitary facilities.
What was inaugurated in July 1966 was the old club and much more: those of you who know the Tiles Club of London can get an idea of the new Cavern – it had a cafeteria and bar serving simple meals, a clothing store, exhibition space, and areas to sit quietly and listen to records. And of course, it was still the same place where the groups played.
Alf did not want to incur McFall’s mistakes. He always aimed for viability, he wanted the business to pay off while still maintaining its role as an internationally renowned cultural centre. And with Debbie as a guide, he got it 100%.
Those five years of success are peppered with anecdotes. Debbie remembers everything because she was in the front line and wanted to pay homage to her father and claim his role in the club’s history. There was material for a good book. Debbie prepared it and Jorvik Press (Portland, Oregon) published it in 2016. Cavern Club: The Inside Story (176 pages) is not just another of the many titles dedicated to The Cavern or Liverpool’s Mersey Beat. As mentioned, this is because it’s about an era for which there is very little information from reliable sources. That’s what stands out in Debbie’s book, the large amount of unpublished data and unknown everyday stories it contains. As it is well written and edited, the 176 pages flash by.
It is hard to choose one revelation over another, but there are some very exciting ones: their tour of the closed club, lanterns in hand, with the newly acquired keys; the re-inauguration with the Prime Minister (and Rufus Thomas, Solomon Burke, Georgie Fame, The Searchers, The Merseys and a thousand others); the return of the good times (with Bob Wooler included!); the presence of an organist who enlivened the kids that went to the cafeteria with his Hammond; Chuck Berry, sitting in a chauffeur-driven car parked in the middle of Mathew Street, demanding to be paid cash before going on stage; the relationship with Radio Caroline; performances by legendary artists Lee Dorsey, Edwin Star, Chris Farlowe, The Who in 1967, and an excited Paul McCartney (in 1968) and a thousand other things, all very interesting.
If you got this far, it’s clear you’re interested in The Cavern and the Liverpool Pop Scene of the 60s, so this book will not disappoint you. It also contains many photographs rarely if ever seen. There is an excellent one of The Escorts! The book, which does not have a Spanish translation, can easily be found on Amazon.
Extra Bonus Info: Debbie Geoghegan stopped working at the club when her father received a suitable offer for the business and decided to sell it in 1970. After marrying and working in other family businesses, Debbie divorced her first husband and married Nigel Greenberg, whom she had actually known most of her life because, quite by coincidence, he was one of the founding partners of Cavern Sound Limited, the recording studio that operated in the club between 1964 and 1966. Martin Craig wrote about the studio in a two-part article we published in 2010.
A great street-level history of one of the world’s most famous small music venues. This inside story is the real thing.
— John May The Generalist
Mini-skirted Debbie Greenberg’s… first-hand, fan’s-eye, gossipy chit-chat and fashion notes have tactile authenticity, from resident DJ, Bob Wooler’s ‘Hi there, all you cave-dwellers,’ to bassist Stuart Sutcliffe standing with his back to the audience ‘so no one could see how he was playing’, and Pete Best (‘sultry, fiercely good-looking and oozed sex appeal’).
—Andrew Darlington, R2 magazine
A fab read for any 60s music fan. Richly illustrated with… rare photos, posters and press cuttings… The day Paul McCartney popped in with his new girlfriend, Linda, to show her where the Beatles story began is particularly special.
—Simon Fine sixtyplusurfers.com
As a teenager, Debbie Greenberg was spending far too much time at the Cavern Club in her hometown of Liverpool, England. It was already the most famous music club in the world, where she had been dazzled by the Beatles’ debut performance and witnessed their rise to stardom for two years before watching the local heroes leave home.
Then in 1966, after the previous owner declared bankruptcy, her father asked out of the blue if she thought it would be a good idea to take over the club. It was an offer she couldn’t refuse. She’d been a Cavern fanatic since it was a jazz club, hardly missing a lunchtime or evening rock session until its closure a few weeks before – amid mass protests by Liverpool youth.
Now she was suddenly part of a new family business, faced with the task of helping to breathe new life into a dilapidated rock ’n’ roll shrine and build on the legacy of the legendary Mersey Beat.
This first-hand account of her ten years frequenting and eventually managing the original Cavern Club is the authentic inside story of the Beatles’ launch pad, full of triumphs and failures – and surprise celebrity encounters.
Richly illustrated with dozens of photos, posters and press clips.
Born in 1945 in Liverpool, Debbie Greenberg attended the Morrison School on Greenbank Road and, after passing her eleven-plus, New Heys High School for Girls.
Leaving school at seventeen, she started working with her father, Alf Geoghegan, who ran three butcher’s shops. By age 20 she was managing the family business and also working part-time as a fashion model.
Her life changed forever when her father took over the lease of the Cavern Club in 1966 after the previous owner went bankrupt.
Debbie lives with her husband Nigel in Liverpool and partners with him in their 44-year-old business, Solo Security.
News & Views
Sounds from the Cellar
The latest issue of Vintage Rock magazine celebrates the 60th anniversary
of the Beatles’ first gig at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, February 9, 1961.
|Author Debbie Greenberg, who was at that first lunchtime show – and at every
one of their 282 Cavern appearances – remembers their electrifying debut.
It’s the most famous small venue in the world and was pivotal in the development of the biggest band of all time. Now, 60 years on from The Beatles’ debut performance at The Cavern, we trace its role in the band’s incredible rise…
Personalized signed copies of Cavern Club: the Inside Story can now be ordered through Beatlesbookstore.com. An original collectible Cavern Club label from 1967 is included free inside the book (while supplies last). You just pay the special UK price of £13.50 (approx. US$18.00) plus shipping. Debbie personally signs each copy and mails from Liverpool.
Interview with Debbie Greenberg,
Author of Cavern Club: The Inside Story
The April 2020 issue of Ear Candy Mag has two articles on Liverpool’s Cavern Club
I first talked to Debbie Greenberg when I was doing research for a project on the Cavern Club (a different article in this issue). We reviewed her book, Cavern Club: The Inside Story, in a previous issue of EAR CANDY. It is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it! Debbie graciously agreed to an interview, where we talked about her book, the Cavern and, of course, The Beatles!
EC: I thoroughly enjoyed your book, because it was both entertaining and informative! What made you decide to write a book about the Cavern after all these years?
Debbie Greenberg: I was prompted to write my book because I became aware that rumors were circulating in Liverpool that my dad was responsible for the demise and subsequent demolition of the original Cavern Club. As my dad was no longer around and unable to defend himself, I felt that it was time to set the record straight.
EC: Did you keep a diary in the ’60s?
Debbie Greenberg: Sadly, no, I have lost count of the times that I wish I had kept a diary.
EC: It blows my mind to think that you’ve seen the Beatles 292 times, from their debut at the Cavern in 1961 to their final show in 1963! Surely no American Beatles fan can even come close! You got an inside view as they progressed through various phases: the 5-piece Beatles with Stu on bass; the leather 4-piece Beatles; the introduction of the suits; finally, Ringo Starr joins the band. What are your memories of each of these? Did you prefer one phase over the other? For instance, what do you recall about Stu Sutcliffe? I would just love to hear any memories on these different phases!
Debbie Greenberg: My memories of The Beatles at the Cavern were equally enthralling throughout all of their fashion stages. The music was the main ingredient that excited me but the phase of the black leather outfits and Cuban-heeled boots were particularly memorable. The Beatles were raunchy and oozed sex appeal clad in black leather.
The Cavern Club, Liverpool, 1966: Alf Geoghegan takes command
Translation of an article in Pop Thing, a Spanish online magazine based in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Álava, specializing in mid- to late 20th Century Western popular culture
March 24, 2017
“As the Mersey Sound was slowly fading in 1965/6, it seemed that The Cavern Club was losing its relevance after closing its doors for a few months, due to the bankruptcy of Ray McFall in February 1966. But that was not the case – the club reopened in July 1966 and was world news again with Harold Wilson, the UK’s Prime Minister, officiating at the ceremony.”
“Nevertheless, this phase of The Cavern’s history does not arouse much interest among scholars. For example, Spencer Leigh, who has written three books on the subject, only touches lightly on the years 1966-69, devoting less than thirty pages to the period. It is hardly fair that no one has taken more interest in the time when the charismatic Alf Geoghegan took command. And when his daughter Debbie came to the rescue!”
As The Cavern geared up for its 60th anniversary, Julie Burns heard about its heyday
from ex-Cavern owner and author Debbie Greenberg
“The Beatles performed an amazing total of 292 times at the Cavern – and every Wednesday night, and thrice-weekly lunchtimes, Debbie was out front. “Overnight The Beatles had a following of devoted fans, and I was one of them. The amazing thing about the Cavern was that The Beatles and all the groups were so accessible. We were literally inches away as they played.”
Debbie shares inside story of club The Beatles made famous
Simon Yaffe, Jewish Telegraph
November 18, 2016
There are a few well-known Jewish links to The Beatles. The most obvious being Brian Epstein, the Fab Four’s manager at the height of their stardom, and Linda McCartney (nee Eastman), the haimishe girl from New York who captured Paul’s heart.
But perhaps less conspicuous are the Jewish strands which connect The Beatles and Liverpool’s world-famous Cavern Club.
‘It Was A Cess Pit, But We Loved It’ – A Former Owner Remembers Liverpool’s Cavern Club
Mark Beaumont, NME
October 31, 2016
“We’ve all dreamt of being in The Cavern Club with The Beatles twisting, shouting and mop-wobbling the place into a Cilla-quivering frenzy, but only the more imaginative business studies student has ever dreamed of what it might be like to run the club after they’d graduated to Shea Stadium. Until now. A new book, Cavern Club: The Inside Story, tells the story of Debbie Greenberg, a Beatles-era Cavern regular whose family bought the legendary club in 1966, nursed it into a second golden era and who wants to set the record straight on why the original Cavern was demolished in 1973.”
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David Bowie was 22 years old and still living with his parents in southeast London when, quite by chance, he met Mary Finnigan while visiting her upstairs neighbours in nearby Beckenham. Still an unrecognised talent haunting the London folk clubs, desperately seeking paid gigs, he couldn’t even dream of a future as a global rock phenomenon.
Life started to take interesting turns after he moved in with Mary and her two children in the spring of 1969. With a small group of psychedelic pioneers, they launched the Beckenham Arts Lab in a local pub and organized a free music festival in the town’s park.
That summer his first hit, Space Oddity, made it into the charts and became the theme song for the first moon landing. He was suddenly on a trajectory towards superstardom.
Millions of words have been written about Bowie’s life, but his early days as a struggling songwriter and performer have been shrouded in hearsay. Here is the full story of his pivotal year in Beckenham, written before his death by his friend, lover and landlady, one of the first people to encourage and support him.
For this expanded first edition, the author has added an epilogue on the aftermath of Bowie’s death two days after the book was first published. New images include two previously unpublished photos of his Beckenham days.
Mary Finnigan was born in Manchester, England just before the start of World War II. Marrying an older man at eighteen, she produced two children before bolting to London, where she landed a job as a fashion writer on the Daily Mirror. Her print journalism career included feature writing at the Daily Sketch, Daily Express and freelance work at the Sunday Times.
During a five-year holiday from the five-day week she met David Bowie. This book tells the story of their adventures together in Beckenham.
Returning to journalism, she worked as a reporter, editor and producer at Visnews, Independent Radio News and the London Broadcasting Company. She now contributes to national newspapers, online publications and BBC radio.
Mary lives in Bristol in the west of England with her partner, Chris Gilchrist. She has three adult offspring and three granddaughters.
News & Views
It would be a pity if anyone avoided Psychedelic Suburbia by wrongly dismissing it as one of those inevitable ‘cash in’ publications which have followed David Bowie’s shock death in January.
Presumably no one was more surprised by Bowie’s passing than author Mary Finnigan herself because this book, the one she had been intending to write for decades instead of simply being interviewed for others, was actually published before that crucial date in January. Two days before, to be precise.
Craig FlemingLancashire Evening Posthttp://www.lep.co.uk/lifestyle/books/book-review-pyschedelic-suburbia-david-bowie-and-the-beckenham-arts-lab-by-mary-finnigan-1-7842406 – Lancashire Evening Post
“Psychedelic Suburbia for me delivers more than most of [Bowie’s] music ever will and is an honest and moving testament to and evocation of a time that will never come around again.”
S**t, the timing of this book’s arrival couldn’t have been better, a publisher’s dream, it appeared the day the world found out that its inspiration, David Bowie had passed away.
However in a weird kind of way this book is not just about Bowie – it’s part autobiography, part reminiscence, part social history, almost a curate’s egg in that it doesn’t quite conform to any of these. Its author Mary Finnigan just happened to move to Beckenham at the time Bowie was beginning to find his feet as a serious artiste there. It’s literally all in the title, Psychedelic Suburbia.
David Bowie, the lodger from Mars:
Mary Finnigan on life with the music star in the 1960s
Hours after meeting a penniless young man from Bromley, Mary Finnigan invited him to stay. In this extract from her new memoir, she conjures a heady time in the late 1960s when a terrestrial phenomenon on the brink of stardom moved into her home and, briefly, her bed.
David Bowie: Living with Angie is like living with a blow torch
In April 1969, Mary Finnigan was in her garden in the London suburb of Beckenham when she struck up a conversation with a man playing a guitar through the open window of a flat next door. That man, a 22-year-old David Bowie, who had dropped round to see a friend, was still living at home and leapt at Mary’s offer to move in as her lodger. They soon became lovers.
Milan Melvin was one of the most fascinating figures out of the sixties. In fact, a case could be made that he helped to shape the time of our lives. Peter Laufer is one of the sharpest journalists out of the sixties. In one of his last major decisions, Milan asked Peter to help him tell his story. Together they do, and it is one for the ages. Light up, buckle up and enjoy the flight. — Ben Fong-Torres
In a world of posers, Milan was the rare real thing. An adventurer and a strong friend. My friend. — David Crosby
When Milan Melvin rose point astride his iron palomino Harley, our caravan slept easy in the sixties, knowing he had one eye on the bad guys and heaven in his holster. — Wavy Gravy
Lean, lanky, self-contained, charming, and a natural gentleman – one of a dying breed even then. — Joan Baez
Milan Melvin was a driven, elusive, creative, lovable adventurer who colored the lives of all around him. His many-faceted career started with a stint as an undercover operative for the FBI at UC Berkeley – until he started falsifying reports.
He went on to trade Native American jewelry, import marijuana, hang with Hell’s Angels, co-found alternative radio – notably the legendary KSAN San Francisco – work on films, produce music, befriend Janis Joplin, and marry Mimi Farina, the sister of Joan Baez, who wrote her very first song about him.
Leaving America for 10 years, he lived with Tibetan Khampa guerrillas, funded a daycare center for Tibetan refugee children in Nepal, smuggled gems out of India, Burma and China, and manufactured jewelry in Thailand, before settling in Bali.
On his return, Milan worked with film director Carl Gottlieb on Caveman, appeared on Saturday Night Live, produced TV shows and managed the acting career of former Oakland Raider John “Tooz” Matuszak. Returning to charitable work, he and his wife Georgeanne raised and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of medical and material aid to anti-government organizations during El Salvador’s civil war.
In his last decade, Milan lived with his wife in seclusion in Wolf Creek, Oregon, before moving to Mexico for his final adventures.
An independent journalist, broadcaster and documentary filmmaker, Peter Laufer is currently the James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.
He took his first radio job while in high school at the all-talk radio station KNEW in Oakland. From there he moved to KSFO San Francisco as a news writer and in 1970 joined KSAN, the infamous Jive 95, co-founded by the subject of this book.
As news reporter, talk show host, bureau chief and news director, Laufer has since worked for radio stations and media networks throughout the US and Europe.
After studying at UC Berkeley, he earned his Master’s in Communications from the American University in Washington DC and his PhD in Cultural Studies from Leeds Metropolitan University in England, followed by post-graduate studies in Germany, France and Spain.
A frequent speaker and guest lecturer on media subjects around the world, Peter Laufer has written, co-authored or edited over 20 books.
Highlights of a Lowlife
The Autobiography of Milan Melvin
Trade paperback, 6 x 9 in (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
$18.95; UK £13.95; EU €18.50
January 6, 2016 (2nd edition)
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