Spector Shows Up Uninvited

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

An occupational hazard of following the news obsessively is that you're rarely surprised -– truly surprised -– by anything that happens.

It doesn't mean that you know ahead of time what's going to happen. It just means that when news comes across your screen -- like say, the Tiger Woods story, or that couple sidling into the White House dinner uninvited -- you are seldom shocked.

More often, there's a part of you that thinks, hmm, should have seen that coming.

But I must admit, while scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day, I was completely floored by one news nugget.

Someone tweeting for KFI, the AM radio station better known for its opinionated talk show hosts, posted that Phil Spector was at the dentist in Toluca Lake.

I contemplated at first whether the tweet was a prank. Maybe someone had hacked the station's account.

After all, Spector was supposed to be locked away in Corcoran State Prison, serving 19 years to life for shooting Lana Clarkson in the mouth one horrible night.

The last thing I had heard about Spector, he was deeply unhappy about the food and at being held in the same neighborhood as madman Charles Manson.

Then KFI sent out an update: sure enough, Phil Spector himself was seeing his dentist, 200 miles or so away from Corcoran.

Toluca Lake is the tony neighborhood next to Lakeside Country Club that's been the home of stars such as Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and that's still a nice, leafy Valleywood refuge.

Spector arrived with an entourage of prison guards, and reportedly was being treated for gingivitis.

Don't they have dentists in prison, an email correspondent inquired at LA Observed.

Yes they do, but it turns out that California also has a sweet deal for convicts like Spector who have money.

With enough money, they can be let out of prison briefly for sessions with doctors and dentists. The inmate just has to pay the costs of the transportation, the guards who travel with him, and of course the doctor fees.

We're left with more questions than answers, such as just how shackled Spector was for the drive down I-5. How did he look after so many months behind bars? Was he wearing his signature hairpiece?

Is it possible even that his wife, who has given interviews complaining about having her husband taken away from her, also had a dentist appointment that day?

We don't know, not yet anyway.

But since Spector is 69 years old and could reasonably be assumed to be entering a period of increased health issues, perhaps his future trips back down south will become full-on media events. Fodder for TMZ, maybe.

After all, look what happened this morning when Roman Polanski was let out of jail in Switzerland.

The mountain chalet where the director was placed under house arrest with his wife and children was swarmed over by cameras and reporters.

Polanski had to put up $4.5 million to satisfy the Swiss government that he would not flee back to France, and instead would stick around to face the likelihood of extradition back to Los Angeles -– where he fled the threat of jail time three decades ago.

Speculating on the news is a loser's game, given the world's complexity and the history of people doing unpredictable things.

But really now, would anyone be stunned if Polanski -– 76 years old, and not eager to ever see a California jail again -- somehow manages to slip into France, where he's revered?

I wouldn't be surprised.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.