Fifty years ago today, the Manson Family carried out the grisly Tate-Labianca murders that essentially crushed the hippie dream with a tragic nightmare starring failed songwriter and psychopath Charles Manson. At Manson's trial, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi argued that the cult leader was inspired by his misreading of The Beatles' White Album. Indeed, "Healter Skelter” [sic] had been smeared in blood on the LaBiancas’ refrigerator. Over at Rolling Stone, Kory Grow does a track-by-track analysis of Manson's bizarre misinterpretation of The White Album. From Rolling Stone:
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Although he would deny being into the Beatles years later (“I am a Bing Crosby fan,” he declared in 1985 – despite inmates at a prison Manson stayed at in the early Sixties claiming he was obsessed with the Beatles), Manson discussed the group enough with his followers that his warped reading of the Fab Four’s most adventurous album resounded throughout the trial. Bugliosi interviewed several Manson Family members, including those who were not facing criminal charges, and found consistency in their descriptions of his mythology surrounding the White Album and the garbled connections he made between it and the Book of Revelations, which depict end-times.
“This music is bringing on the revolution, the unorganized overthrow of the establishment,” Manson told Rolling Stone in 1970. “The Beatles know [what’s happening] in the sense that the subconscious knows.”
“From the beginning, Charlie believed the Beatles’ music carried an important message – to us,” Manson Family member Paul Watkins wrote in his book, My Life With Charles Manson.
Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom denied Manson family member Leslie Van Houten's request for parole. This is the third time in three years that the California parole board has recommended Van Houten for parole. Former Governor Jerry Brown said no to the previous requests in 2016 and 2018. Van Houten is serving a sentence of life in prison for participating in the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in 1969 at Manson's direction. From CNN:
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a parole release review that despite Van Houten's productive time in prison -- she earned a bachelor's and master's degrees and completed "extensive" self-help programming -- the negative factors of her involvement in the murders outweighed the positive factors.
"Ms. Van Houten and the Manson family committed some of the most notorious and brutal killings in California history," Newsom said. "When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time."
Newson said he understood Van Houten was 19 at the time of the crime and that a psychologist who evaluated her said it was likely "her involvement in the life offense was significantly impacted by characteristics of youth, including impulsivity, the inability to adequately foresee the long-term consequences of her behavior and the inability to manage her emotions that resulted from trauma."
Newson said that "without a deeper understanding of what led her to submit to Mr. Manson and participate in these horrific murders, I cannot be sure that Ms.
Charles Manson, the infamous cult leader whose followers killed 9 people in 1969, died today at age 83.
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"Old Man" is a curious and compelling animation of phone chats between Charles Manson and Marlin Marynick, author of "Charles Manson Now." Directed and animated by Leah Shore. (via Devour)
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"My Life After Manson": Patricia Krenwinkel talks from prison about her experience in the Manson Family on the 45th anniversary of the Tate-Labianca Murders. Read the rest
Over at Thought Catalog, Mark Dery looks back at the Manson Murders of 1968 and how Charlie's "love and terror cult" sliced open a seeping wound of fear whose scab is still being picked. Dery titled his essay, "Getting the Fear," Manson's phrase for "embracing the dry-mouthed jitters of sheer terror, riding that moment when your heart is thudding so hard it feels like something trapped inside your ribcage, trying to get out," as Dery explains it. From the essay:
"Growing up in Southern California, in 1969, I knew the isolation of the cul-de-sac houses out on suburbia’s asteroid belt, where the night air was thick with the cloying smell of sage and wild fennel and the darkness echoed with the hiss of automatic sprinklers, stuttering across lawns. A man might scream, might run into his front yard and scream, as Wojtek Frykowski did that night on Cielo Drive, Oh, God, no, please don’t! Oh, God, no don’t, don’t, don’t…,and get nothing but echoes for an answer. I knew the mass-produced alienation of suburbia, where you could live your life in a tract home fit for a battery hen, your sixth of an acre flush against your neighbors’, yet never exchange much more than a nod of recognition as you pulled into your driveway and they out of theirs.Whether or not I was aware of the Manson murders, the spreading stain of fear was seeping, in August 1969, under the locked doors of everyone’s consciousness."
"Getting The Fear: Manson, Me, And The Summer Of Hate" Read the rest
Tapes of conversations between a Charles Manson acolyte and his lawyer have been handed to LAPD and may solve old murders: "A federal judge in Texas ruled in March that Charles 'Tex' Watson waived his right to attorney-client privilege when he allowed his lawyer to sell the eight cassette tapes." [AP] Read the rest
Charles Manson wrote Marilyn Manson a postcard from prison:
To Marilyn Manson – It’s taken me a long time to get there from where I could touch M. Manson. Now I got a card to play – you may look into my non-profit, ATWA, and give Manson what you think he’s got coming for Air, Trees, Water, and you. Or I will pay Manson what you think Manson got comeing – the music has make Manson into Abraxas Devil, and I’m SURE you would want some of what I got from what I got. It’s a far out balence. Beyond good and bad, right, wrong. What you don’t do is what I will do – what you did a sang along, and let it roll and said how you saved me a lot of steeps – I don’t need, it’s not a need or a want. Couped – coup. Ghost dancers slay together and your just in my grave Sunstroker Corona-coronas-coronae – you seen me from under with it all standing on me. That’s 2 dump trucks – doing the same as CMF 000007
"Charles Manson writes Marilyn Manson an open letter from his prison cell" (NME, thanks Gil Kaufman!) Read the rest