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Reader contributor Adam Parfrey dies at 61

Wrote HELL.A. column and story behind Big Eyes movie for San Diegans

Adam Parfrey — wrote for San Diego audience during the 1990s
Adam Parfrey — wrote for San Diego audience during the 1990s

Adam Parfrey published a semiautobiographical novel by Joseph Goebbels, the ramblings of Charles Manson and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski plus analyses from the Aryan Nations of Don McLean's American Pie.

Parfrey's Walter Keane cover story in the Reader

Works he cultivated inspired Tim Burton's 1994 film Ed Wood and much of the subject matter for the X-Files television series.

"Upsetting people is a beautiful thing," Parfrey told the Los Angeles Times in 2012, as a recent New York Times article recounts. "Because it gets people to think beyond their last visit to 7-Eleven."

HELL.A. column by Adam Parfrey from Nov. 5, 1992 Reader on Charles Manson follower Nick Bougas

Between New York and his final residence in Port Townsend, Washington, Parfrey lived in Los Angeles in the early nineties, where he published books from Feral House. While there, he penned a weekly column for the San Diego ReaderHELL.A.: Places of Magic and Wonder in Smogland — from 1991 through 1995.

He skewered smothering smog and crippling traffic, trendiness and fashion obsession, a culture of celebrity worship.

Parfrey wrote longer Reader stories. He was the first to dive deep into the the Keane method of painting that prized its subjects' sad, saucer-sized eyes presented as the creation of artist Walter Keane. Later evidence would suggest Keane's second wife, Margaret, was the creator of the big eyes. The topic would form fodder for a Tim Burton film in 2014, Big Eyes, 22 years after Parfrey broached the subject.

He told the story of Budd Boetticher, a Western film director who retired from Hollywood to Ramona. He documented El Cajon's Unarius Academy of Science, the group awaiting the arrival of interplanetary beings in Jamul. He contributed to a picture of San Diego's noir locations and an interview with an Escondido woman obsessed with the last girlfriend of Elvis Presley.

Adam Parfrey died last Thursday, May 10 due to complications from strokes at an assisted care facility. He was 61 years old.

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Adam Parfrey — wrote for San Diego audience during the 1990s
Adam Parfrey — wrote for San Diego audience during the 1990s

Adam Parfrey published a semiautobiographical novel by Joseph Goebbels, the ramblings of Charles Manson and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski plus analyses from the Aryan Nations of Don McLean's American Pie.

Parfrey's Walter Keane cover story in the Reader

Works he cultivated inspired Tim Burton's 1994 film Ed Wood and much of the subject matter for the X-Files television series.

"Upsetting people is a beautiful thing," Parfrey told the Los Angeles Times in 2012, as a recent New York Times article recounts. "Because it gets people to think beyond their last visit to 7-Eleven."

HELL.A. column by Adam Parfrey from Nov. 5, 1992 Reader on Charles Manson follower Nick Bougas

Between New York and his final residence in Port Townsend, Washington, Parfrey lived in Los Angeles in the early nineties, where he published books from Feral House. While there, he penned a weekly column for the San Diego ReaderHELL.A.: Places of Magic and Wonder in Smogland — from 1991 through 1995.

He skewered smothering smog and crippling traffic, trendiness and fashion obsession, a culture of celebrity worship.

Parfrey wrote longer Reader stories. He was the first to dive deep into the the Keane method of painting that prized its subjects' sad, saucer-sized eyes presented as the creation of artist Walter Keane. Later evidence would suggest Keane's second wife, Margaret, was the creator of the big eyes. The topic would form fodder for a Tim Burton film in 2014, Big Eyes, 22 years after Parfrey broached the subject.

He told the story of Budd Boetticher, a Western film director who retired from Hollywood to Ramona. He documented El Cajon's Unarius Academy of Science, the group awaiting the arrival of interplanetary beings in Jamul. He contributed to a picture of San Diego's noir locations and an interview with an Escondido woman obsessed with the last girlfriend of Elvis Presley.

Adam Parfrey died last Thursday, May 10 due to complications from strokes at an assisted care facility. He was 61 years old.

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2

Thanks for all the great links to Mr. Parfrey's Reader stories, many of his full-length features are just as memorable and engaging today as when I first read them years ago, especially his history of the flying saucer worshippers at El Cajon's Unarius Academy of Science, which at the time had its own wonky public access TV show --

May 16, 2018

The danger of these Unarius-type nutjob groups is that some end up with a human disaster. Example: the infamous Heaven's Gate and 39 suicides at a Rancho Santa Fe mansion.

May 16, 2018

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