Nineteen sixty-eight was one hell of a year.
Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Nearly seventeen thousand U.S. armed forces died fighting in the Vietnam War.
In the face of such real-life violence, dark currents began to flow through American culture. The horror movie Rosemary's Baby, directed by Roman Polanski, was a surprise success in Hollywood--both with critics and at the box office. It was about a group of Satanists who trick a young newlywed into carrying and giving birth to the devil's spawn. (In a disturbing real-life twist the following year, the sociopathic cult leader Charles Manson ordered the brutal slaying of Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, and four others in the Los Angeles hills. Charles "Tex" Watson, who was the Manson Family disciple in charge of committing the murders, told one of the victims, "I'm the devil, and I'm here to do the devil's business.")
As images of carpet bombings and body bags from Vietnam dominated the airwaves, young Americans increasingly began to challenge authority and "the Man." As cars cruised up and down Hollywood Boulevard and the Sunset Strip, radios blared edgier, angrier rock and roll: "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan, "What's Going On?" by Marvin Gaye,"Eve of Destruction," by Barry McGuire. Musicians from bands like the Doors, the Byrds, Cream, and the Animals played the Whiskey-a-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip--and partied with abandon at the Chateau Marmont Hotel up the street. Los Angeles became a mecca for the most hedonistic aspects of this emerging counterculture: psychedelic drug use, sexual freedom and experimentation, smoking grass.
Amidst all this turmoil and social upheaval in 1968, an event occurred that is not well documented by the era's historians: "Tali S.," age eight, was abducted on her way to school.
Copyright © 2011 by Stella Sands.