Parsons in Pasadena

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Los Angeles City Beat publishes an article online (The Dirt on Our Dirt: Roll up, roll up for the military toxicity tour by Michael Collins) which repeats some of the more salacious tales of John Whiteside Parsons:

A new tour, begun this summer, takes the curious to places far hotter and more significant: the Military Tour of Southern California, sponsored by the L.A. chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). It’s a chance for locals to get in touch with the amazing amount of military toxins in our environment, by boarding a bus to military-related sites that ooze that Outer Limits Cold War essence…

Ammonium perchlorate’s use as a rocket-fuel booster has its origins at JPL, which is now known primarily for its NASA space work. A young scientist named Jack Parsons developed this exotic fuel in the Arroyo Seco and led a short life just as explosive. Parsons dabbled in the occult as a follower of Aleister Crowley, held sex- and drug-drenched orgies at his Pasadena mansion, and lost his wife and money to a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard. At the young age of 37, Parsons blew himself to pieces in his kitchen during an experiment with fulminate of mercury, a gray crystalline powder that, when dry, explodes under percussion or heat and is used in detonators. According to various reports, an “odd, bizarre, fairly big box decorated with snakes and dragons” was found in a trailer at the Parsons’s residence after the blast. In it were home films of Parsons and his mother having sex, not only with each other, but also with the mother’s “big dog.” Ruth Parsons committed suicide after hearing of her son’s death.
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