Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cousin Evil

I'm still on the polygamy kick. And why not? I think it's interesting that guys can have more than one wife. I've had the same one for almost 40 years. I asked Sally, "Don't you think I should take on a plural wife? Someone young to take on the housework?" I got her most withering look. Oh well. The way it's described in Big Love, the "sister wives" are not only married to the man, but the other wives as well. Wow, it sounds kinky…until you've seen some of the polygamist women I've seen. The wives in Big Love aren't exactly what the polygamist wives around here look like .

I just figured a new wife could do all the hard work while Sally cracked the whip.

(I could make a joke about me "whipping the crack," but that would be SO WRONG…)

At the end of the July 27 episode of Big Love, leader Roman Grant, played so brilliantly by Harry Dean Stanton, is shot by some women in an assassination attempt. This is based on the history of the Ervil LeBaron polygamous cult when it went after a rival leader, Rulon Allred. In 1977 Allred, at work in his homeopathic office in Utah, was accosted by two women in disguises who shot him dead. This is a photo of Allred.Ervil LeBaron, who was also known by local wags as "Evil" LeBaron (shown in the picture at top), was a murderous sort in the Charles Manson-mold. Except I think he ended up directing the killing of more people by his followers than Manson ever did. If you're interested here's a fine article on the whole rampage.

LeBaron died in prison in 1982 but the murders continued for years after. Two polygamist cults going to the mattresses makes for quite a story. It's also told in this book, a biography by one of the women who pulled the trigger on Rulon Allred.At one time I worked with the daughter of Rulon Allred, who was an amazingly good secretary for the school district where my wife and I work. It was kind of an open secret who she was, but very few people I ever talked to about her held it against her. There were a few, though. Me, as long as polygamists aren't murdering each other--or me--I'm OK with 'em. (Oh yeah, I'm not for old men having 14-year-old brides, either, just for the record.)

I'm related to the LeBarons. Their names are prominent in the genealogy of my father's side of my family. That isn't unusual in Utah, though. If your family has been here for 160 years like mine, then other families with like history will climb into the branches of your family tree.

Big Love continues to amaze me as a series. They have so many details right. Some of the bigger details they gloss over or ignore for the sake of storytelling, but the little things are usually right on. In this episode polygamist leader Hollis Green (a character loosely based on Evil LeBaron) arranges for a meeting with Bill. Green's sister gives Bill directions to "the exit on 5300 South," which is an actual exit off Interstate 15, and would be logical for a meeting between people from Sandy to the south and Salt Lake City to the north. None of this means much to you if you're watching in Florida or New Jersey, but to us locals it shows that the people writing the show have done some homework on the local geography.

Despite the little bits of verisimilitude it's worth noting that except for some exteriors, the series isn't filmed here, but is shot in California. That's kind of ironic, because Touched By An Angel filmed all its episodes here, and stood in for cities and countries all over, including California.

Ciao for now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can not find out anything about my grandpa on my dads side. My father refuses to let any of his children know anything about him. Over the years I’ve overheard things and found out bits of information. I know my dad was born in Chihuahua Mexico and originally had the last name LeBaron. His dad had many wives and was very abusive to his children and wives. Fearing for her live, his mom, or my grandma ran away from her husband, had her last name changed and went into hiding in Utah for her whole life.
I’m now wondering if my grandpa may be Ervil LeBaron or a close relative. I wish there were better records on this because my grandma died and my dad will never tell.