First off, for once I am on the opposite side of the questions when The Journal interviews me about the books, Halloween, and getting a scare in Hollywood…
Also, here is a link to a piece I wrote for website Film Ireland after my visit to Fairbanks, Alaska late last year. It covers the city in part, but also the amazing story behind Alaska’s own movie mogul!
Also follows is a piece I wrote about the Burning of Zozobra or “Old Man Gloom” in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I only heard about it recently, and it’s gone right on my list of things I have to see one day!
Instagram hipsters might make their way to the more famous – and more expensive – bacchanalia in Nevada, but this other “Burning Man” has been aflame in Santa Fe for nearly 100 years.
Taking place on the Friday before Labor Day, the family-friendly Burning of Zozobra is the beginning of the Fiestas de Santa Fe.
Originally a six foot tall puppet, Zozobra (or Old Man Gloom) was created by Will Shuster, one of a group of artists who came to New Mexico in the 1920s and were nicknamed the Cinco Pintores.
Over the decades OMG has grown, and he is now a 50 foot giant who glowers over the local people and even “speaks” (or moans) thanks to hidden speakers elsewhere.
Made of wood, chicken wire and muslin, Zozobra is filled with shredded paper (traditionally old police reports, divorce papers and paid-off loan statements), though anyone can write their own tales of woe and put them in “Gloom Boxes” found around town.
The contents of these boxes are added to Zozobra’s insides, and the legend says that when he is set alight your woes are burned too – and then blown away on the wind.
Zozobra was first burned in 1962 at Fort Marcy Park, which is just a few blocks from Santa Fe Plaza, a city square noted for its antique, art and precious gems stores. Locals sell their own designs and work on the sidewalk too – a much better bet for a bargain!
A couple of years after that first burning, Shuster handed over Zozobra to the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe, which runs the event and benefits local children via grants, scholarships, and activities.
The burning is followed by the more sober Fiesta, an event over 300 years old that celebrates Don Diego De Vargas’ peaceful reoccupation of the City of Holy Faith (later Santa Fe) in 1692. There are a number of processions and church services as part of the celebration.
Every month I host the “True Crime Tuesdays” book club at the fantastic Last Bookstore in downtown L.A. – check out the “Events” tab on their site. Below is the fab “murder board” that Eric, the organizer, put together for us….
Also, I recently found out about a hidden triple death in a cool-looking building in my neighborhood – read all about that here: https://gourmetghosts.com/2018/08/30/extra-my-unexpected-triple-killing/