Read Cold-Blooded: The Saga of Charles Schmid, the Notorious "Pied Piper of Tucson" by John Gilmore Free Online
Book Title: Cold-Blooded: The Saga of Charles Schmid, the Notorious "Pied Piper of Tucson"|
The author of the book: John Gilmore
Edition: Feral House
Date of issue: June 1st 1996
ISBN 13: 9780922915316
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 5.36 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.1
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[loan--thank you, kind patron!]
This is an straightforward, bare bones account of the murderous career of Charles "Smitty" Schmid, who murdered Alleen Rowe because he wanted to know what it was like to murder someone, Gretchen Fritz because she was blackmailing him about the Rowe murder (and because he was tired of her and her drama: Gretchen & Smitty are basically a case of one sociopath consuming another), and Wendy Fritz because she had the bad luck to be with her sister. Gilmore's account is almost entirely testimony and interviews, which on the one hand is great because it's all primary sources and you do get an unpleasantly vivid sense of Schmid's personality, but on the other hand ends up feeling flat and unfinished--which may just be the effect of my personal taste rather than a problem with the book.
I think it *is* a problem with the book that it feels so disorganized. The straight chronological account with no kind of meta-narrative or assessment or exploration of contradictions is certainly verisimilitudinous, but while I look to my nonfiction reading for truth (or as close as we can ever get), this kind of chaotic quotidian verisimilitude is something my real life provides me plenty of. We find the truth of history not in replaying it like a cassette tape, as the tape gets thinner and thinner and finally breaks, but by analyzing what's on the tape. Or at least (and here my metaphor falls apart) by providing signposts to guide the reader through the disorganized facts.
This was interesting for what it was, but it could have been much more interesting if treated as history, there to be analyzed and questioned, rather than "objective" reporting.
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John Gilmore was born in the Charity Ward of the Los Angeles County General Hospital and was raised in Hollywood. His mother had been a studio contract-player for MGM while his step-grandfather worked as head carpenter for RKO Pictures. Gilmore's parents separated when he was six months old and he was subsequently raised by his grandmother. Gilmore's father became a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer, and also wrote and acted on radio shows, a police public service (the shows featured promising movie starlets as well as established performers like Bonita Granville, Ann Rutherford, the "jungle girl" Aquanetta, Joan Davis, Hillary Brooke, Ann Jeffreys, Brenda Marshall and other players young John Gilmore became acquainted with. As a child actor, he appeared in a Gene Autry movie and bit parts at Republic Studios. He worked in LAPD safety films and did stints on radio. Eventually he appeared in commercial films. Actors Ida Lupino and John Hodiak were mentors to Gilmore, who worked in numerous television shows and feature films at Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and Universal International studios. During the 1950s, through John Hodiak, Gilmore sustained an acquaintanceship with Marilyn Monroe in Hollywood, then in New York, where Gilmore was involved with the Actors Studio, transcribing the lectures of Lee Strasberg into book form. Gilmore performed on stage and in live TV, wrote poetry and screenplays, directed two experimental plays, one by Jean Genet. He wrote and directed a low-budget film entitled "Expressions", later changed to "Blues for Benny." The film did not get general release but was shown independently. Gilmore eventually settled into a writing career; journalist, true crime writer and novelist. He served as head of the writing program at Antioch University and has taught and lectured at length.