The Devil's Candy: When Murphy's Law Ran Roughshod

The Devil's Candy, which explores all of Bonfire's train wrecks as they happen one by one as the film is being shot, is a terrific read, and needless to say, infinitely more interesting than Warner Brother's 1990 movie. As the corollary to Murphy's Law written by my friend and pioneering milblogger Col. Austin Bay goes, "If it can go wrong, it already has and we just don’t know about it.”

Speaking of which, in a way, Salamon's book packed a ticking time bomb that neither she nor anyone else could be aware of. On the back cover of the softcover version of the book is a blurb from Kirkus Reviews which was excised from its Kindle edition. See if you can guess why:

Like watching a World Trade Center tower topple onto Wall Street.

As journalist/blogger Steve Silver noted in 2003:

This was written two years before the 1993 WTC bombing (in which the terrorists attempted unsuccessfully to collapse one tower into the other) and of course ten years prior to 9/11. DAMN.


Salamon references that blurb in the update she wrote for the conclusion of the 2002 reissue of the book, which is the version that Amazon ported to the Kindle:

That throwaway line [from Kirkus, quoted on the back cover of The Devil's Candy] would seem absolutely chilling almost exactly ten years later, when the World Trade Center towers were destroyed by terrorists and the world abruptly became a different place. My meeting with De Palma [to look back on the tenth anniversary of the movie version of Bonfire and the publication of The Devil's Candy] took place two weeks after that, as the celebrity "news" that had dominated the culture for years was replaced by reports of U.S. military exploits in Afghanistan and domestic fears of bioterrorism. The movie industry was flummoxed, as producers and studio executives tried to imagine what kind of entertainment would sell in this altered atmosphere.

It took years for Hollywood to settle on a post-9/11 strategy, after virtually ignoring the War on Terror in its earliest phases. Eventually, that strategy congealed into offering up a series of anti-Iraq War movies, for which the studios tossed away any hope of making profits, in a collective case of anti-jingoism. For DePalma that would mean Redacted, his 2007 film, made on a shoestring budget of five million dollars, a tenth of the runaway Bonfire shoot, and which became a notorious bomb, in part because, as Roger L. Simon wrote at the time, most Hollywood filmmakers, DePalma included, viewed the War on Terror through the prism of Vietnam, and audiences could sense the distance and the stale ideas. Redacted would put so few "butts in seats" as the industry likes to say, that the average blogger and videomaker of the period had more traffic than a Hollywood movie. And for an industry that once set the pace for American pop culture, maybe that was the greatest bonfire of the vanities of them all.