Options Aerial View: Playlist from October 14, 2014 Options

Aerial View was WFMU’s first regularly-scheduled phone-in talk show. Hosted by Chris T. and on the air since 1989, the show features topical conversation, interviews and many trips down the rabbit hole. Until further notice, Aerial View is only available as a podcast, available every Tuesday morning. Subscribe to the newsletter “See You Next Tuesday!” and find tons of archives at aerialview.me. (Visit homepage.)

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Options October 14, 2014: The Amityville Horror
When I made my last trip to my hometown of Lindenhurst, NY a few weeks ago, I took my usual route through the town of Amityville so I could go past Brunswick Hospital, where I was born. I knew the hospital closed years ago but was still shocked to see an empty lot where it once stood. It got me thinking about birthplace, where we come from and how those locations impact the rest of our lives.

Amityville is not only where I came into the world, it's where I spent many childhood and adolescent hours. One town west of Copiague, where my grandmother lived, Amityville had my mother's favorite movie theater, pharmacy (Phanemiller's), office supply store and Stride-Rite Shoes location.

When Peter Benchley fictionalized Amityville as Amity in his 1974 book Jaws, the town got an inkling of the attention it would receive nine months later when mass murder occurred at 112 Ocean Avenue. Six members of the DeFeo family were found shot to death in their beds. The one surviving family member, Ronald "Butch" DeFeo Jr., pinned the murders on a mob hit man (his uncle had some connection to the Mafia) but inconsistencies in his story soon unraveled and he confessed to acting alone.

On this day in 1975 Ronald DeFeo Jr. went on trial for the murders, mounting an insanity defense. He was quickly found guilty and sentenced to six concurrent sentences of twenty-five years to life.

Two years later, the book The Amitiyville Horror climbed to the top of the bestseller lists. Written by Jay Anson and subtitled A True Story, the recounting of the Lutz family's twenty-eight day ordeal at the hands of unseen, demonic forces haunting 112 Ocean Avenue (supposedly built on an Indian burial ground) exploited an appetite for scary stories established a few years prior by The Exorcist. Like that book, The Amityville Horror became a hit movie that led to several sequels. But it also spawned a cottage industry of rampant speculation about what actually went on in that infamous house.

For me, the only thing we know that actually happened there - Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his entire family - is the real horror. Though the murders are exploited in The Amityville Horror, I didn't know the TRUE true story until I read the book High Hopes, written by Gerald Sullivan, the prosecutor in the DeFeo case. The "horror" story wants you to believe that DeFeo Jr. was driven crazy by the same demonic forces that drove out the Lutz family years later. The truth is far more tragic and banal. Ronald DeFeo Jr. was a junkie who stole $10,000 in cash (kept in a tackle box, stashed beneath the floorboards of his parent's bedroom) from his father and then decided to cover it up by methodically shooting to death his mother, father, two brothers and two sister as they slept.

The Cromartys, a prominent local family - the patriarch of which was Judge Arthur Cromarty (whom my mother knew growing up) - bought the house after the murders because it was a bargain. They couldn't know how many sensation-seekers would make their way down Ocean Avenue to gawk and take pictures. I was one of those assholes. When I hit drinking age (back then it was eighteen), I'd head over to the Silver Dollar Saloon in Amityville with friends for live music and cheap beer. On the way, I'd always make a detour down Ocean Avenue, pop in my "Night on Bald Mountain" cassette and try to scare the crap out of my pals by driving them past "that house".

In my early twenties I found myself working for one of the Cromarty sons, raising money for the First Marine Division and the Vietnam Veterans of America. Halloween was rolling around and I was invited to a party at 112 Ocean Avenue. I turned the invitation down. My co-workers kidded me, asking me if I was afraid of ghosts and saying "GET OUT!" in imitation of the film. I told them I had just read High Hopes and did not want to go in a house where so many people had been murdered.

What's stayed with me from the place I was born, Amityville, is an object lesson in the distance between truth and fiction. Maybe it's why I've never been a believer in the supernatural. The natural world is frightening enough for me. We are our own demons.

What about you? How did your birthplace shape your views of the world, if at all? And where do you stand on the supernatural? Have you ever seen anything to convince you there are other dimensions? Ever felt haunted by more than your own past? Call 201-209-WFMU tonight and let's discuss the horror of it all.

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Artist Track
Eminem Chris T.  Amityville Aerial View   Options

Listener comments!

Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:05pm Marcel M:

Hello Chris T! Hello people! Liking this intro today!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:09pm Mike East:

I was born in the same hospital as my daughter and Derek Jeter. Chilton Memorial in Pompton Plains, NJ
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:11pm Marcel M:

Born Lenox Hill hospital, raised in Joisy, residn' in BK.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:12pm Marcel M:

HAH! I like this Russian
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:12pm dale:

i have an album of jesus rock from a group called 'the friend ship' that she's the female vocalist on. couple of dudes from godspell are part of it, too. pretty good but she never would acknowledg that she was part of it.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:13pm Marcel M:

I like your version better Chris!
  Tue. 10/14/14 6:13pm Listener 102365:

Valley General Hospital, Encino CA. Raised all over.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:18pm dale:

1960's office supplies - mucilage glue and those little stick on reinforcements for punched paper
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:23pm Marshall Stacks:

I knew Ron DeFeo Sr. when I was a kid. To the extent that a 5-yr-old can know anyone, anyway.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:28pm dale:

you say murder house - i say motivated seller.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:30pm cosmic matrix:

WOW, what an interesting show......the movie scared the hell out of me as a kid. i had dreams of those little red eyes in the rocking chair!! and for some reason, when it was distorted from bad movie-->TV conversion because of cinemascope, and made it all stretched out vertically, it made it seem weirder.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:32pm Ken From Hyde Park:

The hospital where my siblings and I were born is now a nursing home. They built a new hospital next to it in 1976.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:33pm dale:

my walls bleed - HEATING OIL DOLLARS! thanks, i'll be here all week.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:33pm cosmic matrix:

any time i ever see attic windows like that it freaks me out.
  Tue. 10/14/14 6:33pm Listener 102365:

In The annals of bullshit there are more than a couple stories that will not die.
  Tue. 10/14/14 6:38pm Listener 102365:

Tulsa backwards = aslut
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:40pm Marcel M:

I feel the same way, when people ask me about things beyond this world I just think, "I'm still trying to figure this one out."
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:45pm Marcel M:

WOahhahahahha hahahhahaha I wish I was born in Burger King
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:45pm dale:

laura branigan - that's who!
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:45pm Mike East:

Chilton memorial still exists, but its a few blocks away. The hospital Jeter and I were born in are apartments now.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:48pm Ken From Hyde Park:

OK...bucket list item. Spend last days in that nursing home. Unless it gets converted to a paintball arena before then.
  Tue. 10/14/14 6:50pm Robert:

I so wish "that Dave Emory voice" could come back, but by now I'm afraid its rate of rehab has slowed to unnoticeable and he's stuck with his new one.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:50pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Also, good luck with the Nico performance on Friday. Sounds like it'll be a good time.
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:58pm ! I X Key !:

Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 6:59pm Marcel M:

Wow these lyrics are strange
Avatar Swag For Life Member Tue. 10/14/14 7:00pm Ken From Hyde Park:

I attended a Catholic school in first grade. On the last day of school, they gave us chalk, erasers, rulers, books, etc. It then closed and became an apartment building. We went to the public school after that.
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