Charles Manson — career criminal, amateur musician, enigmatic cult leader and unrepentant racist — died of natural causes on Sunday, November 19th in California while serving a life sentence as the leader of a two-day killing spree in August 1969, which left seven people dead.
Below is Rolling Stone’s investigative piece on the Manson Family murders, originally published in June, 1970.
Book One: Year of the Fork, Night of the Hunter
But the decadence of history
is looking for a pawn
To a nightmare of knowledge
he opens up the gate
A blinding revelation
is served upon his plate
That beneath the greatest love
is a hurricane of hate.
—“Crucifixion” by Phil Ochs.
Three young girls dance down the hallway of the Superior Court Building in Los Angeles, holding hands and singing one of Charlie’s songs. They might be on their way to a birthday party in their short, crisp cotton dresses, but, actually they are attending a preliminary hearing to a murder trial.
A middle-aged lady in Bel Air wants to “mother” Charlie, and two little girls send a letter to him in jail.
“At first we thought you were guilty. But then we read in the papers about these kids who were stabbed to death in the same way as the Sharon Tate murders. We knew you hadn’t done it because you were in jail at the time. We knew you hadn’t done it anyway when we saw your face in the newspaper…
Charlie gets letters from little girls every day. They come from New Hampshire, Minnesota, Los Angeles. A convicted bank robber who met Charlie in jail writes “The Gospel According to Pawnee Fred, the Thief on the Other Cross,” in which he asks:
“Is Manson Son of Man?”
Thirty miles northwest of the courthouse, seven miles due north of Leonard Nimoy’s Pet Pad in Chatsworth (Supplies — Fish — Domestics — Exotics), a circle of rustic women at the Spahn Movie Ranch weave their own hair into an elaborate rainbow vest for Charlie.
Most of them are early members of Charlie’s three-year-old family. There’s Lynne Fromme — they call her Squeaky — Sandra Good, Gypsy, Brenda, Sue, Cappy, Jeany.
“We’ve been working on this vest for two years,” says Sandra, “adding things, sewing on patches. It’s for Charlie to wear in court.” And Squeaky adds, “Wouldn’t it be beautiful to have a photograph of Charlie wearing it? And all of us standing around close to him, hugging him like we used to?”
Wouldn’t it be beautiful to have the others standing around too, the rest of the family, the others imprisoned? Tex Watson and Patti Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian and, oh yeah, the snitch, Sadie Glutz. Her real name is Susan Atkins, but the family calls her Sadie Glutz because that’s what Charlie named her.
Meanwhile Charlie sits blissfully in his cell at the Los Angeles County Jail, composing songs, converting fellow inmates to his gospel of love and Christian submission, and occasionally entertaining a disturbing thought: Why haven’t they gotten in touch? A simple phone call would do it. Surely they’ve received the telegrams, the letters. Surely they realize that he knows, he understands their glorious revelation; that he understands the whole fucking double album.
Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
Living piggy lives
You can see them out for dinner
With their piggy wives
Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.
Ten blocks from the new County Jail stands the old County Hall of Justice, a grotesque, brown brick fortress that for decades has guarded the Los Angeles Civic Center from aesthetic inroads. The entire sixth floor belongs to the District Attorney and his staff, a member of which, now alone on his lunch hour, unlocks a file cabinet and withdraws several neatly bound, family-type photo albums. Slowly he turns each page, studies each snapshot, each personality:
— Sharon Tate, considered one of Hollywood’s prettier, more popular promising young stars, wife of genius film sorcerer Roman Polanski. After her biggest film, Valley of the Dolls, she retreated to private life to enjoy her first pregnancy. The photographs show her in her eighth month.
— Jay Sebring, the handsome young hair stylist who revolutionised the fashion industry by introducing hair styling to men, convincing them — despite early masculine scoffs — there was something better looking than a shave even if you had to pay ten times the price. He once was Miss Tate’s fiance.
— Wociech Frykowski, Polanski’s boyhood pal who came to Hollywood with hopes of directing films himself. His luck at this was dismal, and even Polanski later admitted he had little talent. Instead, he began directing home movies inside his head, investing heavily in many forms of exotic dope.
— Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger’s Coffee millions, an attractive Radcliffe girl considered by neighbours to be the most charming of the Polanski’s house guests. She met Frykowski in New York and became his lover.
— Steven Parent, an 18-year-old from Los Angeles suburb of El Monte, a friend of Polanski’s caretaker, unknown to the others, a nobody like the rest of us. Had fortune been on his side, he would have so remained.
— Leno La Bianca, owner of a grocery store chain, and his wife, Rosemary, an ordinary couple of the upper middle class, fond of such quiet pleasures as boating, water skiing and watching late night television in their pajamas. They knew nothing of Sharon Tate and her friends, living miles away in different neighbourhoods and different worlds.
— Gary Hinman, music teacher, bagpipe player, and onetime friend of Charlie Manson’s. He once, in fact, gave the Manson family his Toyota, although the circumstances surrounding that gift have since come into question.
The snapshots are homey little numbers, color polaroids taken by staff photographers from the County Coroner’s office and the Los Angeles Police Department. They show all the wounds, the nakedness, the blood. Sometimes the exposure is a little off, but the relevant details are there — shots of the rooms, the bullet holes, the blood on the furniture and floors, the bizarre blood writing on the walls, words like RISE and HELTER SKELTER and PIGGIES.
And shots of the weapons found at the scene — ropes, pillowcases, forks and knives.
After replacing the albums, the D.A. investigator continues eating his lunch and now starts perusing an official looking 34-page document. It is an interview with Miss Mary Brunner, a former member of Manson’s family, by detectives last December.
Q. Mary, did you never see Charlie Manson or Bruce Davis hit Gary Hinman?
Q. Do you know how he got the slash on the side of his face that severed his ear?
A. He got it from one of those two, he had to.
Q. Now, after everybody left on Sunday night, did anybody ever go back to the house?
Q. Was anybody with Bobby?
A. Not that I know of. He told me about it and he talked like he was alone.
Q. What did Bobby tell you he went back to the house for?
A. He tried to erase that paw print on the wall.
Q. And how many days later did he go back to the house?
A. Two or three days after Sunday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
Q. All right. Did he describe to you what the house looked like or smelled like or anything like that?
A. He told me it smelled terrible. He could hear the maggots.
Q. Hear the maggots? What?
A. In Gary, eating Gary.
Q. Is there anything else you would like to add about this that we haven’t covered?
A. There isn’t anything else to it.
Los Angeles is the third largest city in America, according to population, but easily the largest according to raw real estate. It is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the south and southwest, by Ventura County to the west, by the San Gabriel Mountains and fire-prone Angeles National Forest to the north and by scores of cruddy, smoggy little towns and cities to the east.
Its shape resembles some discarded prehistoric prototype for a central nervous system, the brain including the entire San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel foothills, West Los Angeles, Venice, portions of the Santa Monica Mountains, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills and Highland Park — actually hundreds and hundreds of square miles — with a weird, narrow spinal chord extending from the Civic Center, through the country’s largest black ghetto, to San Pedro Harbor 25 miles away.
Charles Manson knew his city well. Like many Los Angeles residents he learned to drive long distances regularly without giving a second thought. During his two years as a free man in Southern California he frequently “made the rounds,” visiting friends, keeping business appointments, preaching to small groups, giving and taking material possessions.
For some reason, perhaps for no reason, many of the spots where he stopped or stayed are located on the extreme periphery of the brain of Los Angeles. Which at least makes it an easy, scenic drive — Sunday afternoon with the wife and kids. Who knows? Ten years from now these spots may be official points of interest, stations of the cross as it were. Save these handy directions for your personal map to the homes of the stars.
Starting at the Spahn Movie Ranch in the extreme northwestern corner of Los Angeles — drive two miles east on Santa Susana Pass Road to Topanga Canyon itself.
It was here that Manson and his family first lived after arriving from the Haight-Ashbury in late 1967, and it was here that Manson first met Gary Hinman. Hinman’s house is a little further down the road, almost where Topanga Canyon meets the beach at Pacific Coast Highway.
You can’t see into the house now, of course, because the cops boarded it up last July after they found Hinman’s body perforated with stab wounds. They say he was tortured for 48 hours. On a nearby wall they found the words POLITICAL PIGGIES and a neat little cat’s paw print in blood. Bobby Beausoleil, an electric guitarist and member of Manson’s family, has already been sentenced to death, and Manson and Susan Atkins are awaiting trial in the matter.
After driving on to Pacific Coast Highway, take a left, and after two miles, take another left. Now you’re on Sunset Boulevard, winding through wealthy Pacific Palisades where, for a short time in early 1968, the Manson family lived with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. Wilson doesn’t live there anymore, however; he moved shortly after Manson allegedly threatened him with a bullet.
Keep driving east on Sunset for another eight or ten miles past Brentwood Heights, past Mandeville Canyon, over the San Diego Freeway, past UCLA and Bel Air and Beverly Glen. And when you reach the center of Beverly Hills, turn left on Canon and head north into Benedict Canyon.
Now here you may need a more detailed map because the streets get pretty tricky with all the turns and dead ends. But up in Benedict Canyon there’s this little dirt road, Cielo Drive, which dead ends at the old, rambling, hillside house where producer Terry Melcher, Doris Day’s son, used to live. Manson paid several business calls on him there, but the business was never completed before Melcher moved out early last summer.
Neighbours hardly had had a chance to meet the new residents when, on the bright Saturday morning of last August 9th, Mrs. Winifred Chapman, a maid, ran screaming from the house, across the huge grounds and parking lot, through the iron gate and down the road:
“There’s bodies and blood all over the place!”
Not a bad description. Police found Steven Parent just inside the gate, shot five times in his white Rambler, the wheels of the car already turned toward the road in a mad attempt to escape. Wociech Frykowski’s body lay in front of the house, shot and stabbed and stabbed again and again. Twenty yards down the rolling lawn, underneath a fir tree, they found Abigail Folger dead and curled up in a bloody nightgown.
Inside the house Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate lay stabbed to death near the living room couch, connected by a single nylon cord wrapped around their necks and thrown over a rafter. Sebring was also shot and his head covered with a pillowcase. On the front door police found the word PIG written in blood with a towel.
If the gate’s locked, you won’t be able to see the house because it’s set back some from the road. But anyway, that’s where it is.
Now make a U and head back down to Sunset. Continue east for another 10 miles, along the famous and more and more plastic Sunset Strip, past the tall, swanky office building monuments to Hollywood flackery, past the decaying radio empires of the Forties, clear to Western Avenue, where you take a left.
A mile north, Western turns right and becomes Los Feliz Boulevard, cutting east through the wealthy, residential Los Feliz District that skirts the foothills of Griffith Park. After about three miles, just before Los Feliz crosses the Golden State Freeway, drive into the winding, hillside streets to your right, where you’ll find Waverly Drive.
In August, 1968, Manson and his family started visiting Harold True, a UCLA student who lived with some other guys on Waverly. They were all good friends, and the family just liked to go up there and hang around and smoke dope and sing and shoot the shit. True later moved to Van Nuys, where he presently lives with Phil Kaufman, a former member of the family who produced Manson’s record.
True’s neighbours, incidentally, were Leno and Rosemary La Bianca who, a year later on the morning of August 10th, were found stabbed — or rather carved — to death inside their home. The words DEATH TO PIGS, HELTER SKELTER and RISE were written, again in blood, on the kitchen walls. And someone had etched WAR on Leno La Bianca’s stomach with a fork.
Anyway, those are just some of the spots Manson liked to visit on his frequent tours of the big city. Cut back to Los Feliz, head north on the Golden State Freeway for 18 miles, cut west across the north end of the Valley on Devonshire Street — another 10 miles — turn right on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, and you’re practically back at the Spahn ranch.
The whole round trip is eighty miles or so. That may seem like a big distance, but actually, the roads are good and it shouldn’t take longer than two or three hours, especially if you take it on a Sunday afternoon or, say, late at night.
Perhaps no two recent events have so revealed the cut-rate value of public morality and private life as the killing of Sharon Tate and the arrest of Charles Manson. Many were quick to criticize The Los Angeles Times for publishing bright and early one Sunday morning the grisly (and since recanted) confession of Susan Atkins. Any doubts about Manson’s power to cloud men’s minds were buried that morning between Dick Tracy and one of the world’s great real estate sections. Sexie Sadie laid it down for all to see.
Critics accused the Times of paying a healthy sum to promoter Larry Schiller, who had obtained the confession from Miss Atkins’ attorneys in return for a cut of the profits. The Times responded publicly with silence, privately with a denial. No money was paid, said the editors. Schiller had sold the story to various European Sunday editions, they said, and an eight-hour time difference allowed the Times to pick it up from one of their European correspondents. In other words, “If we hadn’t run it here, some other paper would have.” (Some paper, in fact many other papers, did run it, of course, with the excuse the Times had done it first.)
The Times response sounded like a hype from the start. For one thing their Sunday edition is put to bed, not a mere eight hours before Sunday morning, but late Friday night so their vast, haircurled, beer-bellied Supermarket weekend readership can get its comics and classified ads a day early. Also, why was Schiller himself seen hanging around the Times offices as the edition rolled off the presses?
Rolling Stone has since learned that the Times explanation was at least partly correct. No money was paid, that’s true, or at least not much. Because, dig, the Times people didn’t buy the confession, they wrote it. Word for word. Not only the confession but the book that followed, The Killing of Sharon Tate, with “eight pages of photographs,” published by New American Library, a Times-Mirror subsidiary.
In the volume, Schiller gratefully acknowledges “the invaluable aid of two journalists who worked with the author in preparing this book and the original interviews with Susan Atkins.”
Those two journalists, it turns out, were Jerry Cohen and Dial Torgerson, both veteran members of the Times rewrite crew. Torgerson wrote the first chapter to the book, and Cohen, an old friend of Schiller’s, wrote the confession and the rest of the book. Both subsequently have reported much of the news related to the case, and Cohen has been assigned to cover Charlie’s trial.
According to a freelance Life contributor in the area and since confirmed by several Times staffers, Miss Atkins’ attorneys gave Schiller tapes of her confession on the condition that he sell the story to foreign papers only and split the money. But Schiller is a promoter, not a writer, and he needed someone to put the thing together fast. His first stop was The Los Angeles Times where he found Cohen to be a friend indeed.
After conferences with Cohen and various Times editors, it was decided Cohen and Torgerson would write a story and a book, both under Schiller’s name. In return, New American would have exclusive rights to the book and the Times would publish the confession simultaneously with the foreign press.
All this was to be top secret, of course. But Schiller got careless. Not only did he awkwardly appear in the Times city room to see his freshly printed byline, he invited people like our Life correspondent over to his house the week before while Cohen was in the next room hacking away.
What possible justification could the Times editors have had in running the confessions? Where were their heads? Can an individual’s right to a fair trial, free of damaging pretrial publicity, be so relative? Can it be compromised so easily by the fictitious right of the public to be entertained?
The Times would argue that Susan Atkins’ testimony to the County Grand Jury, later made public, had essentially the same impact as her confession. If so, why did the Times print both? Besides, there surely are many readers who trust in the Times who rightfully suspect the Grand Jury, realizing it consists mainly of retired old men and white, upper-middle-class housewives hand-picked by the District Attorney.
If Miss Atkins’ confession does not constitute damaging pretrial publicity, what does? What does the phrase mean?
Clearly Charles Manson already stands as the villain of our time, the symbol of animalism and evil. Lee Harvey Oswald? Sirhan Sirhan? Adolph Eichman? Misguided souls, sure, but as far as we know they never took LSD or fucked more than one woman at a time.
Manson is already so hated by the public that all attempts so far to exploit his reputation have failed miserably. Of the 2,000 albums of his music that were pressed, less than 300 have sold.
A skin flick based weakly on popular assumptions about Manson and his family, Love in the Commune, closed after two days in San Francisco, only mustered two old men on a Saturday night in Los Angeles. Normally, one wouldn’t expect skin flick buffs to be that discriminating, although certainly the few scenes in the film of a Manson-type balling a headless chicken probably had little mass prurient appeal.
Even Cohen and Torgerson’s book is reportedly in financial trouble, although profits to the Times-Mirror Syndicate from sales to other American papers have already been counted.
Are there 12 people in the country, let alone Los Angeles, who can honestly say they have no opinions about Charles Manson? Mention of his name in polite conversation provokes, not words or heated argument, but noises, guttural sound effects, gasps, shrieks, violent physical gestures of repulsion. He is more than a villain, he is a leper.
Shortly after Manson’s arrest, the musicians’ local in Los Angeles wrote the Times and said flatly that he had checked his union’s records and that Manson definitely was not a musician. So there’d be no confusion, he added that most musicians were good clean fellows who believe in hard work and the American way of life.
But all this is really beside the point. Even if the Times could somehow prove that its confession did Manson absolutely no harm, what right did they have to take the risk? The moral decision must be made before, not after, the fact if a man’s right to an impartial trial is to be taken seriously.
On the other hand, the most blatant — if less damaging — assault on the concept of pretrial impartiality comes not from the Establishment or the Far Right, but the Far Left, the Weathermen faction of the SDS.
According to an item from the Liberation News Service, the Weathermen have made Manson a revolutionary hero on the assumption that he is guilty. Praising him for having offed some “rich honky pigs,” they offer us a prize example of bumper sticker mentality:
“Manson Power — The Year Of The Fork!”
The underground press in general has assumed kind of a paranoid-schizo attitude toward Manson, undoubtedly hypersensitive to the relentless gloating of the cops who, after a five-year search, finally found a longhaired devil you could love to hate.
Starting in mid-January, the Los Angeles Free Press banner headlined Manson stories for three weeks in a row: “Manson Can Go Free!” “M.D. On Manson’s Sex Life!” “Manson Interview! Exclusive Exclusive!”
The interview, by the way, ran for two more weeks, consisted mainly of attorney/author Michael Hannon talking to himself. Later, the Free Press began a weekly column by Manson written from jail.
About the same time, a rival underground paper, Tuesday’s Child, ran Manson’s picture across the entire front page with the headline “MAN OF THE YEAR: CHARLES MANSON.” In case you missed the point, in their next issue they covered the front page with a cartoon of Manson on the cross. The plaque nailed above his head read simply “HIPPIE.”
When the Manson record was released, both papers agreed to run free ads for it, but the chain of Free Press bookstores, owned by Free Press publisher Art Kunkin, refused to sell it, arguing it was an attempt to make profit of tragedy.
Of course, not all the stories in the Free Press and Tuesday’s Child were pro-Manson. Some were very lukewarm, others were simply anti-cop. The question that seemed to split underground editorial minds more than any other was simply: Is Manson a hippie or isn’t he?
It’s hard to imagine a better setting for Manson’s vision of the Apocalypse, his black revolution, than Los Angeles, a city so large and cumbersome it defies the common senses, defies the absurd. For thousands of amateur prophets it provides a virtual Easter egg hunt of spooky truths.
Its climate and latitude are identical to Jerusalem. It easily leads the country in our race toward ecological doom. It has no sense of the past; the San Andreas Fault separates it from the rest of the continent by a million years.
If Manson’s racial views seem incredibly naive, which they are (after preaching against the Black Panthers for two years, he recently asked who Huey Newton was), they are similar to views held by hundreds of thousands of others in that city and that city’s Mayor. Citizens there last year returned to office Mayor Sam Yorty whose administration was riddled with conflicts of interest and bribery convictions, rather than elect a thoughtful, soft-spoken, middle-of-the-road ex-cop who happened to be black. Full-page newspaper ads, sponsored by a police organisation, pictured the man as a wild African savage and asked voters, “Will Your Home be Safe with Bradley as Mayor?”
The question to ask, therefore, maybe not now but five or ten years from now, is this: Who would the voters prefer, Bradley or Manson? Would Your Home be Safe with Manson as Mayor?
“I am just a mirror,” Manson says over and over. “Anything you see in me is you.” He says it so often it becomes an evasive action. I’m rubber and you’re glue. But there’s a truth there nonetheless.
The society may be disgusted and horrified by Charles Manson, but it is the society’s perverted system of penal “rehabilitation,” its lusts for vengeance and cruelty, that created him.
The Spahn Movie Ranch may seem a miserable place for kids to live, with its filthy, broken-down shacks and stagnant streams filled daily with shovelled horse shit. life there may seem degenerate, a dozen or more people eating garbage, sleeping, balling and raising babies in a 20-foot trailer.
But for more than two years most of those kids have preferred that way of life — life with Charlie — than living in the homes of their parents.
The press likes to put the Manson family in quotation marks — “family.” But it’s a real family, with real feelings of devotion, loyalty and disappointment. For Manson and all the others it’s the only family they’ve ever had.
One is tempted to say that Manson spent 22 of his 35 years in prison, that he is more a product of the penal system than the Haight-Ashbury.
But it cannot be dismissed that easily. Charles Manson raises some very serious questions about our culture, whether he is entirely part of it or not.
For actually we are not yet a culture at all, but a sort of pre-culture, a gathering of disenchanted seekers, an ovum unfertilised. There is no new morality, as Time and Life would have us believe, but a growing awareness that the old morality has not been practiced for some time.
The right to smoke dope, to pursue different goals, to be free of social and economic oppression, the right to live in peace and equity with our brothers — this is Founding Fathers stuff.
In the meantime we must suffer the void, waiting for the subversives in power to die, waiting for the old, dead, amoral culture to be buried. For many, particularly the younger among us, the wait, the weight, is extremely frustrating, even unbearable. Life becomes absurd beyond enjoyment. Real doubts grow daily whether any of the tools we have to change power work anymore. There are no answers and the questions lose their flavour.
Into this void, this seemingly endless river of shit, on top of it, if you will, rode Charlie Manson in the fall of 1967, full of charm and truth and gentle goodness, like Robert Mitchum’s psychopathic preacher in Night of the Hunter with LOVE and HATE inscribed on opposing hands. (A friend of Manson’s said recently, “You almost could see the devil and angel in him fighting it out, and I guess the devil finally won.”)
This smiling, dancing music man offered a refreshing short cut, a genuine and revolutionary new morality that redefines or rather eliminates the historic boundaries between life and death.
Behind Manson’s attitude toward death is the ancient mystical belief that we are all part of one body — an integral tenet of Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity as expressed by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians: “For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.”
But Manson adds a new twist; he wants us to take the idea literally, temporarily. He believes that he — and all human beings — are God and the Devil at the same time, that all human beings are part of each other, that human life has no individual value. If you kill a human being, you’re just killing part of yourself; it has no meaning. “Death is psychosomatic,” says Manson.
Thus the foundation of all historic moral concepts is neatly discarded. Manson’s is a morality. “If God is One, what is bad?” he asks. Manson represents a frightening new phenomenon, the acid-ripped street fighter, erasing the barrier between the two outlaw cultures — the head and the hood — described by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test:
“The Angels were too freaking real. Outlaws? They were outlaws by choice, from the word go, all the way out in Edge City. Further! The hip world, the vast majority of acid heads, were still playing the eternal charade of the middle class intellectuals — Behold my wings! Freedom! Flight! — but you don’t actually expect me to jump off that cliff, do you?”
Perhaps it was inevitable for someone like Manson to come along who would jump off that cliff; that a number of lost children seem willing to believe him is indeed a disturbing sign of the times.
“Little children,” wrote St. John in a prophetic letter, “it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrists shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know it is the last time.”
Book Two: Porfiry’s Complaint
Jack Webb couldn’t have cast him better. Trim, dark-haired, maybe in his early forties, he looks not like a cop but a no-nonsense college dean. California suntanned, New York tough talker. Movements precise and full of energy. Nothing is wasted: zero defects, zero limp wrists. Neatness counts. Blue Sears shirt rolled to the elbows, he carefully clears his desk for lunch, consisting today of one dietetic Sunkist grapefruit placed properly atop its brown paper bag.
Suddenly his thick fingers plunge into the fruit as if it were an orange, ripping off the skin and exposing the virgin sections to the heavy, worldly air of the Los Angeles County Hall of Justice. As he talks, he devours the sections one by one, biting them in two like mice, the juice dripping from his mouth, down his fingers, onto the paper bag.
He is, in fact, a prosecutor. That is to say, he works in the District Attorney’s office, investigates crimes, prepares cases and occasionally appears in court. For our purposes, he probably knows as much about Charles Manson’s past three years as any member of the Establishment after the facts after the fact. He agreed to speak only if his name would not be revealed. So we give him another name, a prosecutor from another time, Porfiry.
The case against Manson, told in Porfiry’s own words with grapefruit and with relish:
Now in order to fully understand the thing and give an accurate picture to your readers, you have to start with Gary Hinman. Now Gary Hinman’s murder took place around July 25th. Gary Hinman was a musician, as you know. He played several instruments. He was quite good, I understand, and worked quite a bit. He had these two automobiles. A Toyota and another car.
Anyway, Bobby Beausoleil is charged with his murder. He’s already had a trial in Santa Monica and that trial ended in a hung jury. [Editor’s note: Since Porfiry’s interview, Beausoleil has been retried in Los Angeles, found guilty and sentenced to death.] Manson now faces more first degree murder charges in the slaying of Hinman. During that trial Danny DeCarlo testified, and Danny DeCarlo testified for us at the Grand Jury hearing.
Now, Danny DeCarlo is a member of a motorcycle gang, Straight Satans. He used to live out at the ranch ’cause he used to get free pussy. Broke up with his wife. They used to take care of his baby.
He used to admit it. He’d say, this is the greatest thing next to mother’s milk. They’d bring you food, make love to you any time you could. It’s very interesting, though, he didn’t believe this philosophy about the end of the world coming up.
Manson, you see, had this crazy philosophy that the world was coming to an end, or at least there would be a revolution, and he wanted a place in the desert, which he’d already picked out.
Manson used to keep DeCarlo around because DeCarlo was the leader of his gang, and in case Manson ever needed any physical protection, there weren’t enough men around there to give him protection. He had all these guns up there at the Spahn Ranch, a machine gun and a lot of other guns, but he needed someone like DeCarlo who knew something about guns to keep them in good condition and supply the manpower. So he let DeCarlo stay around there.
DeCarlo testified at the first Hinman trial that it was Manson who sent Beausoleil out to Hinman’s house with these two girls, Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins. They got out there, they asked him for his money. He said, “I don’t have any money. The only thing I have are these two cars.” And he signed over the cars.
See, this was another thing Manson used to use. If you ever talk to Dennis Wilson, he’ll tell you that. What’s yours is mine. You take my pen, I’ll take your pen. You take my guitar, I’ll take your guitar. Because material things don’t mean anything. He took a lot of things on the pretext: “What does it mean? It doesn’t mean anything.”
So Hinman says he doesn’t have the money. So then they had one of the girls hold a gun on Hinman while Beausoleil was looking for the money. Somehow or other Hinman was able to get up. The girls didn’t shoot him. Beausoleil comes back and starts pistol whipping Hinman with the gun. During the pistol whipping, the gun goes off. The bullet was recovered.
Now, at the first trial we didn’t have that gun. Since the first trial, we have found the gun. That gun has been traced to Manson. They know who he purchased it from, so it has been traced.
Now, a fingerprint of Beausoleil was found in Hinman’s residence. August 6th, Beausoleil was arrested driving Hinman’s Toyota up in San Jose.
When he’s arrested, he gives a real cock and bull story about Black Panthers killing Hinman, and that he got there when Hinman was dying, and he asked him to take his car and gave him the car keys, signed over the keys. The knife that was used to kill Hinman was found in the back seat of the Toyota that he was driving.
Now, knives are not like guns. All you can say is that a knife similar to the one used was found. With a gun, you can say, ballistically speaking, this gun fired this bullet.
With a knife [Here Porfiry takes a small paring knife from his desk, stabs a piece of grapefruit rind several times and examines the wounds] you can only say that it was three centimeters long, it’s got a sharp edge and a dull edge, and so forth.
Anyway, and the timing here is very significant, August 6th he’s arrested in San Luis Obispo. August 7th Beausoleil is returned to L.A. County, and he puts a phone call in at the ranch telling them that he was arrested there and telling them he hasn’t said anything.
Now — this is only a supposition on my part, I don’t have any proof to support it — I suppose he, meaning Manson, said to himself, “How am I going to help my friend Beausoleil out? By showing that the actual murderer of Hinman is still at large. So I know that Melcher used to live in this house on Cielo Drive.
“Go out there, Watson, with these girls and commit robbery and kill anyone that you see there.
“Don’t forget to leave — ” and this is very important because in the Hinman case they wrote POLITICAL PIGGIES in blood. He said — “Don’t forget to leave a sign.”
So after the killings were all over, Susan Atkins goes back and writes the word PIG on the door. This is the same door where Watson’s fingerprint was found. And on the back door is where Krenwinkel’s fingerprint was found. And that also has the blood of Abigail Folger.
Oh, I was telling you about Linda Kasabian. She is a true flower child. She came out here from New Hampshire to meet her husband, Bob Kasabian, July 1st, 1969, and when she and he had a falling out, she ended up at the ranch.
When she saw the way Manson had beaten these girls, she wanted out. We have witnesses’ statements of where he was beating these girls up, and unfortunately she didn’t get out in time. She was in on the Tate charge.
As a result of her not going in the house, we don’t have her fingerprints like we do with Krenwinkle and Watson. She didn’t kill anybody. She threw away the three sets of clothes not her own.
Channel 7 found the three sets of clothes which have been traced to the three sets of clothes that Gypsy bought. They have blood on the clothes that fit the victims. The police didn’t find the clothes, so you can’t say it was manufactured.
Channel 7, in going over Susan Atkins’ story in the Times, said to themselves, “Jesus, if I had committed this murder, I’d want to pull off the first wide space in the road and throw these bloody clothes away.”
And that’s exactly what they did. About two miles up Benedict Canyon they found the clothes on the side of a hill.
The night the killing occurred, they stopped and washed their hands off with a hose at a man’s house on Portola Drive. This man should have reported to the police the next day when he heard about the killings, which were just a mile from him, but he says to his wife, “They didn’t steal anything from me, they’re just a bunch of hippies. Okay, so they lied; they said they were walking past, instead they were driving past,” and he took the license number of the car.
He talked to his neighbours about it. So he just didn’t make it up out of thin air after he heard Susan Atkins. And Susan Atkins testified to that to the Grand Jury about stopping off some place, and sure enough the witness appears.
He took the license number down which belonged to the car they were using. There were only two cars at the ranch that were operable. There was a bakery truck, Danny DeCarlo’s bakery truck, that Manson drove.
You see, Manson has an alibi right up until August 7th, ’cause he met this girl, Mary Brunner, and drove with her from Big Sur all the way down to Oceanside. And they made gas purchases on these stolen credit cards all the way down the line.
And lo and behold, August 7th he’s given a traffic citation in Oceanside, driving this bakery truck. But Mary got arrested in San Fernando on August 8th, and when she got arrested forging these credit cards, she was driving this bakery truck. If the bakery truck came back, we can therefore assume Manson came back.
Mary, by the way, is a college graduate, a librarian, Manson’s first patsy, so to speak. He met her up in Haight-Ashbury, turned her into nothing but a thief. She wasn’t a thief before. She used to get money from her parents, things like that, but he turned her into a thief.
She used to go out with these phony credit cards, which they stole, and sign other peoples’ names and get things. So it’s not true they only went behind Safeway markets and other markets and got stuff they were throwing out. They did do that. In fact, they once did that with a Rolls Royce, I understand.
Now Sandra Good was along when Mary was arrested. She wasn’t charged because she didn’t actually sign any of the credit cards, so she was let go after a few days. So we know Sandra Good wasn’t along on the Sharon Tate deal, and we know Mary wasn’t along because they were in custody all this time.
Anyway, Watson and the others get back to the ranch, and they hear about it on TV and radio the next day. And the same night Manson goes out, and he wants to shock the world even more.
They were supposed to make two killings on the night of La Bianca; not two people, but two separate incidents. They only killed the La Biancas. And on La Bianca’s stomach someone wrote the word WAR with either a knife or a fork.
Why did they pick out La Bianca? There’s a fella by the name of Harold True, and this fits in with your LSD acid bit. In August, ’68, Harold lived next door to La Bianca. They had gone over there and had pot parties and LSD parties.
Harold True was supposed to go into the Peace Corps, a college boy at UCLA and so on. He moved out at the end of the year, and his two friends kept on living there. The Manson family kept coming there all the time, but finally everyone moved out of there, and the house was vacant at the time the La Biancas were killed.
So after circling the city for a while, they go into the True residence. No one is home, so they go next door. Manson goes in himself, according to Susan Atkins’ testimony.
On La Bianca, I’ll rap with you on the level, our case is not that strong. There are no fingerprints, no one saw them. All we’re depending on is the testimony of Susan Atkins, up till now. If she doesn’t testify, which she says now she isn’t going to, then Linda Kasabian corroborates that.
Now, why do we believe her? Why do we believe Linda? If she were going to lie, she’d say that Manson killed him. She’d say that Steve Grogan, that’s Clem Tufts, actually killed the people, that they went inside.
But she says no, there were seven in this car. The three that went in were Krenwinkel, Watson, and Van Houfen. The next day Krenwinkel came back and told Susan Atkins what went on inside, and only someone who had been to that house could have said what happened.
It was never published in the papers that they left the fork sticking in the fella’s stomach. It was never published that they left the knife sticking in his neck. It was never published that pillowcases were put over their heads. It was never published in the paper what they wrote on the wall.
They wrote the words RISE and HELTER SKELTER. They wrote DEATH TO THE PIGS. Patricia Krenwinkel just went crazy writing all these things. According to her statement to Susan, she wrote all these things.
Manson’s a very funny fellow. He lets these three people off, and then he lets them get back to the ranch by themselves. We’re trying to find the person who picked them up. There was one car who picked up these three hitchhikers, and it seems to me he should remember it because they were dressed in this black clothing and it was late at night.
So somebody picked up these two girls and Charles Watson in the vicinity of Griffith Park and drove them all the way out to the vicinity of Spahn’s ranch. They didn’t want to tell him where they lived. But he was someone who lived in that vicinity, maybe Simi Valley or Santa Susana Pass, because he said to them, “Are you going to the Spahn ranch?” and they said no. Like a girl who didn’t want her parents to see who she was going out with, they asked to be let off about a quarter of a mile from the ranch and they walked the rest of the way. And this guy has never come forward in spite of the fact that the story had been somewhat written up in the newspapers.
They got back to the ranch, they talk among themselves, not to these other girls or fellas. DeCarlo hears it because he’s living there at the ranch.
August 15th, DeCarlo’s men come up to the ranch to bring him back to them. They think he’s been kidnapped and held there against his will, and they were going to bust the place up that night. They didn’t give a shit about these girls; they wanted Danny back. And he talked them out of it. He says, “No, I’ll leave tomorrow.”
August 16th, the sheriffs arrested everybody at the ranch on charges of grand theft of automobiles, because there were about six stolen cars out there including this Ford automobile, the one they used for Tate and La Bianca. But because this man never reported the license number, nobody knew it.
The reason they thought the car was stolen — the truth was it wasn’t stolen, it belonged to one of the ranch hands — but it had a license plate on it from a later model car. I think it was a ’59 Ford they used; well, it had a license plate from a ’63 car, and this fella said instead of trying to get new plates, he used to just switch his plates back and forth. Whichever car was in operable condition, he’d put the plates on, but he owned both cars.
He himself was arrested, this fella, and when they cleared up that that car wasn’t stolen, they released him, but he never had enough money to go down to the impound garage and get the car out. They never knew that it was the car that was used. They had cleaned up the car quite well, and there is only one light trace of blood in the front section of the car; and it’s so slight they can’t tell whether it’s human blood or not, and naturally they can’t tell the type.
In the meantime Linda Kasabian borrows another ranch hand’s car and drives down to New Mexico, leaving her child Tanya there. Also, Watson was not there on August 16 when the raid occurred. He had gone up to Death Valley in the meantime.
The police can only hold you for 48 hours and charges have to be filed or the case dismissed. Seeing as they couldn’t connect any of the defendants with any of the stolen cars, and they couldn’t connect any of the defendants with the submachine gun, everybody was released.
After they were released they all went up to Inyo County. And now it comes up to where we started to get some breaks. They had checked out every darn theory under the sun, and they just didn’t come up with anything.
They get up to Inyo County, and they’re living up there. Here’s the first reports by the sheriff’s office up there.
By the way, under our rules of discovery, the defendants get to see all of these police reports. We can’t hide anything from them. They can make independent tests of the fingerprints if they want to, they can make independent tests of the blood. They don’t have to take our word for it.
Porfiry opens a brown manila folder, holds it like a hymnal and starts to read.
“The start of the incident of Death Valley occurred on September 19th, 1969, when the National Park Rangers of the Death Valley Monument became aware that persons unknown had set fire to a Michigan Loader.” This is a great big tractor. “Tire tracks from this area were of the type used on a Toyota four-wheel drive. Near the cabin they found a ’69 Ford automobile, license plate SDZ976.”
Porfiry explains: This had been rented from Hertz by one of the girls who is loose now, Nancy Pittman, and she did it on a stolen credit card, a Mobile Oil credit card that had been taken in a burglary on September 7th. On September 7th Nancy Pittman was here in Los Angeles, and we also know that on that date Leslie Van Houghton bought a knife with the same stolen credit card. This evidence has not come out but the defence knows all about it.
Porfiry reads: “On September 22nd, Park Ranger Richard Powell entered the Hall Canyon area while investigating the arson case and made contact with a red Toyota four-wheel drive and four female and one male subjects. The conversation of these subjects disclosed very little. The Toyota was using California commercial license plates so and so, registered to Gail Beausoleil, wife of Robert Beausoleil, who’s presently held on a charge of murder in Los Angeles County. This is going back to September 19th, September 22nd.”
Porfiry explains: This was Hinman’s Toyota, and they found it up there.
Porfiry reads: “On September 24th the officers returned to Hall Canyon. The vehicles and the subjects were gone. The miners in the area stated that the subjects pulled out about four hours after Ranger Powell left. On September 29th C.H.P. Officer James Purcell accompanied Ranger Powell to check out two dwellings. At one location, Barker Ranch, they discovered two females about 19 years of age. They were uncommunicative, but did state that the person who lived there had gone to town and would be back later.
“Purcell and Powell contacted two men driving a truck loaded with automotive supplies. They advised the officers that members of a hippie-type group owned the supplies they were transporting, and that they were afraid for their lives if they failed to cooperate with this hippie group. They related to the officers that they used drugs, had sex orgies and attempted to recreate the days of Rommel and the desert corps by driving across the country night and day in numerous dune buggies. The leader of the cult, who called himself Jesus Christ, was attempting to set up a large group of hippies in the area.
“After leaving the Barker ranch the officers located a group of seven females, between the ages of 18 and 20, all nude or partially so, hiding in the brush in one of the small draws off the main road to the rear of the ranch. Going further up the same draw, they encountered one male individual and saw a second run from the area. In this camp was a red Toyota with a certain license number. The license plate noted earlier was no longer on this vehicle. With the Toyota was a dune buggy with a certain number. Ten to 29 checks disclosed that the Toyota was a Los Angeles Police Department stolen.
“On approximately September 29th officers contacted the Sergeant of the Lone Pine Regiment Post and advised him of the circumstances. They found a lot of stolen cars up there. The officers converged on the Barker ranch, arrested five female subjects, located and arrested five female subjects on the dugout. All prisoners were escorted to the ranch and transported to Independence. A .22-caliber pistol was found in the camp.
“Prior to the officers entering this area it was established that this same group was arrested in Chatsworth by Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. on August 16th 1969, and had been armed with submachine guns. In an earlier conversation with the miners in the area it was disclosed that these people had talked of having machine guns.
“Armed with this knowledge, officers requested permission to carry high-powered rifles. No shots were fired. All but two or three of the female suspects were armed with belt type knives. No attempt was made on their part to use these weapons. Total arrests: 10 females, three males.”
Porfiry shuts the folder: And then they also arrested Charlie Manson up there hiding in a little kitchen cabinet.
The 17-year-old females stepped from the brush and surrendered to the officers. These two girls said that they were in fear of their lives and trying to escape from the hippie group. Both stated that Charles Manson, who was not in custody as of that time, would kill or seriously injure them if he caught them trying to leave. These two girls — Katie Luke Singer and Jardin — supplied the link to the sheriffs that Sadie Glutz — Susan Atkins — was involved in the Hinman murder. They recovered the cars, contacted the parents of subject Luke Singer. He was advised that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office was seeking this subject as a material witness to the murder that occurred earlier this year in the Topanga Canyon area. Contact was made with homicide detective Gunther Whitely, who left Los Angeles same morning on route to Independence for questioning. Interrogation of the subject Luke Singer by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s office disclosed that three of the female prisoners held at the Inyo County Jail were involved in Los Angeles Sheriff’s office Topanga Canyon murder. All three were returned to the Los Angeles County jail by Los Angeles Sheriff’s office. One of these girls, by the way, was Patricia Krenwinkel, but she was the wrong girl, see, she used the name Mary Smith or Mary Reeves and Luke Singer talked with Mary, but it was this Mary Brunner.
On October 9, 1969, Officer Purcell and National Park service ranger re-entered Death Valley, made contact with additional witnesses, who advised them that a rental truck loaded with supplies had become stuck and abandoned on the road to Barker ranch. Officer Purcell made contact with Sgt. Haley at Lone Pine and attempted to locate and arrest the ring leader Charles Manson, who was still at large. Additional male suspects were there also. Successful contact was made at the ranch, and the following were taken into custody: Charles Manson, Kenneth Brown, David Hammock, Lawrence Bailey, Bruce Davis. Now Bruce Davis is still involved as a material witness in the Hinman murder; he could clear the whole damn thing up if he wanted to talk to us, but he doesn’t want to talk to us. Also arrested in the area was Beth Tracey, well there’s no Beth Tracey, she was using a girl’s credit card that was stolen in a burglary. Diane Bluestein, Sherry Andrews, Patty Sue Jardin, Sue Martel, all these girls were up there. This was October 12th. On October 13th investigating officers received word from Los Angeles Sheriff’s office that Kathleen Luke Singer, earlier arrested as a runaway, returned to Los Angeles as a material to a murder, had additional information regarding stolen vehicles and related crimes that she would be willing to discuss with the investigating officer. Then they found additional stolen vehicles that were hidden up there in like cave areas.
There’s an interesting sidelight to this investigation in Inyo County. The C.H.P. recovered in Death Valley a vehicle traced to a Philip Tenerelli. This guy had been listed as a missing person by the Culver City Police Dept. Bishop Police Department had reported a suicide October 2nd, 1969. The first thing they know is the guy’s name is John Doe. Bishop is right up by Death Valley.
When they found Tenerelli’s car down this cliff, they went back and rechecked the identity of the fingerprints, and they found the suicide of October 2nd was this fella Tenerelli that was listed missing in Culver City. Inyo County is not so sure that the suicide was not a murder.
Because we have a case here in Venice of a guy who calls himself Christopher Jesus or Zero. He’s one of the people arrested with Manson in Death Valley. He’s one of the people that Manson confided in.
One day his girlfriend, Linda Baldwin, who’s also the girlfriend of every other guy in the group, reports to the Venice Police Dept. that Christopher Zero killed himself, that he was playing Russian Roulette right in front of her eyes, and the gun went off and killed him. It’s very difficult to disprove this, but we’re not so sure this wasn’t a murder to keep him quiet.
But in this trial, we’re not going to introduce any evidence about Tenerelli or Christopher Zero or the missing body of Shorty Shay, a ranch hand who used to be a stunt man in Hollywood. He was trying to get old man Spahn to order these people off the ranch. After the August 16th raid, when they got out of jail, they came back to Spahn Ranch. And Shorty Shay has never been seen again since that time. Several of the girls say he was cut up in eight or nine pieces and buried on the ranch someplace, but they don’t know how it happened.
As a result of this arrest up there, and as a result of this one girl, Luke Singer, talking, they arrest Susan Atkins and put her in the county jail here. Once in the county jail, Susan gets up a relationship with this girl, call her Ronnie Howard. She used the name Nadell, but she was booked under Ronnie Howard. And Susan Atkins, to use the vernacular, cops out to Ronnie Howard on how Sharon Tate was killed. Then Susan tells it to another girl, Virginia Graham.
The two girls get together and tell the police about it, and the police come out and interview the two girls separately. And they learn from the girls things that have never been told to anybody before, like the fact that a knife was left at the Tate residence.
She said in her statement to one of the girls, “God damn, I think I even left my knife in there. If the police ever trace that knife to me, I’ll be dead.”
The next thing that happens is the newspapers, which have been following the case as close as could be, see a great deal of activity occurring. They find out a police officer went to Barker ranch, and they find out another officer went to Inyo County, and they find out that police officers went out to Spahn’s ranch to take pictures. We don’t have everybody in custody, because after Patricia Krenwinkel was questioned by the sheriff’s office in October, she was released and sent back to Alabama. During the arrest of all these people, Watson gets away. I’m talking about the arrest at Barker ranch. We didn’t even know anything about Linda Kasabian, her name was never mentioned prior to Susan Atkins.
To bring it to a conclusion, the press are going to release the story. The police ask them to hold off for a certain amount of time while they try to get the suspects into custody. When they come over to us, they didn’t even have a good fingerprint on Krenwinkel. They had a fingerprint on Watson. They didn’t have the gun at that time.
Now we’ve got the gun that killed Steve Parent and shot Frykowski and Sebring. This gun was identified not only by the bullet, the gun was used to beat Frykowski on the head. The butt had been broken and the handle was in three pieces. We recovered those three pieces, and they fit perfectly on the gun. This gun has been traced to one that Manson bought, and it’s a unique-type gun. It’s a long barrel, .22 caliber, Wyatt Earp-type gun. Several witnesses said this was Manson’s private gun.
Now, he didn’t kill anybody at Tate’s, but when you have a conspiracy to commit a crime, and any of the members of the conspiracy do anything else, everyone is responsible for all of the actions of the other. This is the principle we’re using against Manson, that he ordered these people killed. Whether he ordered one or five doesn’t matter. The fact that they killed five was all within the contemplation of conspiracy.
At first we were thinking of the theory that he had revenge against Terry Melcher, because Melcher put him down. He had Melcher out to the Spahnranch a couple of times to see if Melcher could sell his music and Melcher thought it was nothing. So he resented that. He came to see Melcher at the house several times, and he learned the layout of the house.
But then evidence developed that he knew that Melcher moved out during the summer and he was trying to find where Melcher lived. He asked Dennis Wilson several times. I don’t think Wilson told him. But I don’t think on the night of the killings he thought Melcher still lived there. He just thought that rich people lived there, part of the Establishment, and he had this plan of setting in progress this revolution — blacks against whites.
And he left the sign PIG on the door. Also he had in mind covering up for Beausoleil, who was in custody now. They wanted to commit a murder similar to the Hinman murder to throw the police off the track of Beausoleil as the killer of Hinman.
But unfortunately, although Malibu is not that far from Benedict Canyon, one is in the county sheriff’s territory and one is in the city police territory and they didn’t associate the two, even though POLITICAL PIGGIES was written at Hinman’s and there were vicious stab wounds and pistol whipping on Hinman.
The Tate killings seemed so senseless, because even though money was taken from one of the victims, money was not taken from all the victims. The house wasn’t ransacked. Not that they had valuable belongings there, but they could have taken fur coats and things. On Hinman they took his two cars. The motives appeared different, so they assumed it was different people who committed it, and they didn’t connect the word PIG with POLITICAL PIGGIES as being the same group.
The reports that we have from the witnesses show that there were other people that knew about these killings, but they just kept quiet. I don’t know why other than the fact that they thought “Oh hell, there are friends of mine involved — and I don’t want to say anything.”
This Manson, I’m not going to say that he’s got hypnotic powers, but he’s got some kind of a strength because he’s able to get this girl from Alabama to come out here, and she could have stayed in Alabama another six months, just like Watson did in Texas.
These people believe their leader can do no wrong because he just preached love, and the beatings that were inflicted on those girls, why, that’s nothing. That was just another form of life, that’s all.
From what we have seen, they were not on LSD at the time of the killings. You just have to say to yourself they were indoctrinated with this kind of thinking.
There was another kid from Texas living at the ranch at the same time, and one day after he’d been there about a month, Manson said to him, “That Melcher, he thinks he’s pretty hot shit, but he isn’t worth a damn. I can kill him just like that. In fact, it would be better if you did it. I’ll give you $5,000 and a three wheel motorcycle and you leave the ranch right after you do it. Will you do it?” And the kid says, “Let me think about it.”
A couple of days later he says “Have you thought about it?” The kid says, “Are you serious?” He says, “Yes, I’m serious.” The kid says, “All right, I’ll do it.” Manson says, “Fine, meet me at such and such a time.”
Well, this kid, his mind wasn’t blown or anything, he had used LSD and marijuana. But he immediately called his mother. He says, “Mom, wire me money, I’m coming home.” He knew that he was up to his ears in something he just couldn’t get out of.
Manson always had a funny way of testing people. These girls went along with him on the murders because he said, “If you really love me, you’ll do it. If you really love me, if you love yourself, you’ll do these things.” And then he could have a hold on them. Because all of these creepy crawlies and burglaries they committed, and we have proof because we have the credit cards they stole and used, were also a buildup for him to get them in his grasp.
Manson in court today put on an act that you would not believe. Threw the Constitution in the trash can. Said to the judge, “I was going to throw it at you, but I didn’t want to hit you and I was afraid I’d miss and hit you by accident. But you don’t know what the Constitution is. I wish I could throw it at you like you’ve been throwing things at me.”
All he was asking for was a simple answer to whether or not he would agree to the substitution of attorneys for Susan Atkins.
The other day he just played a crazy part. Today he played an angry part. A couple of weeks ago he played a docile part. He’s a real good con man, and he was able to get these people to believe in this goddamn philosophy of his. If he really wanted to go ahead and prove his philosophy, he would say, “Judge, this is what I did.’ But he’s smart enough to keep his mouth shut.
Anyone who tries to interview him, he gives them double talk. I talked to Steve Grogan. He could have been indicted. I said, “If Susan wanted to lie, she could have said you went into that house. But she didn’t lie. She said you stayed in the car with her. Don’t you believe Susan was telling the truth then?”
And he said to me double talk, “It’s your truth, not my truth.” I said, “Tell me what did happen,” and he said, “I don’t know.” I said, “Weren’t you there?” He said, “I don’t know.”
Porfiry contemptuously reads a newspaper headline: “Manson and Judge Trade Courtroom Pleasantries.” That’s the kind of con man he is. The only time I talked to him was when I was showing him some exhibits in the case. He’s not stupid, he doesn’t have a good formal education, but he’s not stupid.
Book Three: The Most Dangerous Man in the World
Moving slowly across the municipal geometry of civic buildings and police officers a man came towards us looking directly into the sun, his arms stretched out in supplication like the Sierra Indian. From a hundred feet away his eyes are flashing, all two-dimensional boundaries gone. A strange place to be tripping, outside the new, all concrete, Los Angeles Country Jail.
“You’re from Rolling Stone,” he says.
“How did you know?”
No answer. He leads us to the steps of the jail’s main entrance, pivots and again locks his gaze into the sun.
“Spirals,” he whispers. “Spirals coming away…circles curling out of the sun.” His fingers weave patterns in the air. A little sun dance.
“A hole in the fourth dimension,” we suggest.
His easy reply: “A hole in all dimensions.”
This is Clem, an early member of the family called Manson. Inside is another, Squeaky, a friendly girl with short red hair and freckles. Her eyes, too, are luminous, not tripping, but permanently innocent. Children from the Village of the Damned.
We went to the attorney room window to fill out forms. Two guards watched from a glass booth above. A surprise; we were not searched. “Step inside the gate,” says a disembodied voice. “Keep clear of the gate.”
In a minute the gate slides back, and an attorney shows us to a little glass cubicle with a table and three folding chairs. It’s done in glossy gray institutional paint, shimmering under banks of fluorescent light.
While we were waiting an attorney who had assisted Manson in preparing his self-defence talked about conditions in the jail.
“Charlie has been deprived of most of his Constitutional rights.
“After he gave an interview to a San Francisco radio station, they took away his phone privileges. Now he can make three calls a day, but sometimes he has to wait maybe an hour and a half before he can get to a phone. There are four phones for over a hundred pro pers.
(A pro per is an inmate who has been allowed to defend himself, a right first granted, but by this time denied Manson. The phrase is a Latin legal term.)
“Then when he does get to the phone, if he gets a wrong number, that counts as one call. They even search him after he finishes his calls. It’s unbelievable.
“Then they put him in solitary because he didn’t want to go to breakfast. He is allowed to use the law library — it’s totally inadequate, of course — but only for an hour at a time, and then they make up some excuse to disturb him.
“The Susan Atkins confession is a perfect example. Here you have the D.A. actively involved in releasing what amounts to the prosecution’s whole case to a writer who then syndicates the story internationally. It is really incredible, when you think about it. If this is going to be a fair trial, why are they cooperating with the press to try him in a newspaper? Is it because they really are not sure of their case? I’ve never heard of this kind of public relations in a murder trial.
“I could go on and on. Messages between Charlie and Susan Atkins are mysteriously lost. Privileges are mysteriously withheld, and then the orders for them turn out to have been mislaid. It’s this kind of manipulation that makes you wonder what is going on here.
“When they booked him in Inyo County, they had him booked as ‘Charles Manson AKA Jesus Christ,’ and the county sheriffs were running around asking, ‘Where’s Jesus Christ? We want to crucify him.'”
After nearly an hour, he comes in. The guards greet him, casual, friendly.
“Hi Charlie, how are you today?”
“Hi, man, I’m doin’ fine,” he says, smiling.
[He’s wearing prison clothes, blue denim jacket and pants. His hair is very long and bushy, he pushes it out of his face nervously. He looks different, older and stranger than the press photos. His beard has been shaved off recently, and it is growing back black and stubbly.
[He has a long face with a stubborn jaw, wizened and weathered like the crazy country faces you see in old TV A photographs. A cajun Christ. Little John the Conquerer. He moves springing, light as a coyote.
“Can’t shake hands,” he explains, jumping back. “Against the rules.”
[He unfolds casually in the chair. He is mercurial. He strokes his chin, like a wizard trapped under a stone for a thousand years. The Elf King. We ask him about his album. Was he really happy with it?]
All the good music was stolen. What’s there is a couple of years old. I’ve written hundreds of songs since then. I’ve been writing a lot while I was in jail.
I never really dug recording, you know, all those things pointing at you. Greg would say. “Come down to the studio, and we’ll tape some things,” so I went. You get into the studio, you know, and it’s hard to sing into microphones. [He clutches his pencil rigidly, like a mike.] Giant phallic symbols pointing at you. All my latent tendencies…[He starts laughing and making sucking sounds. He is actually blowing the pencil! My relationship to music is completely subliminal, it just flows through me.
“Ego Is A Too Much Thing,” is a strange track. What do you mean by ego?
Ego is the man, the male image.
[His face tense, his eyes dart and threaten. He clenches his fist, bangs it on the table. He gets completely behind it, acting it out, the veins standing out on his neck, showing what a strain it is to be evil.]
Ego is the phallic symbol, the helmet, the gun. The man behind the gun, the mind behind the man behind the gun. My philosophy is that ego is the thinking mind. The mind you scheme with, make war with. They shoved all the love in the back, hid it away. Ego is like, “I’m going to war with my ego stick.”
[He waves an imaginary rifle around, then sticks it in his crotch. An M-16 prick.]
In “Ego” there’s this line: “Your heart is a-pumpin’ your paranoid’s a-jumpin’.”
Yeah, well, paranoia is just a kind of awareness, and awareness is just a form of love. Paranoia is the other side of love. Once you give in to paranoia, it ceases to exist. That’s why I say submission is a gift, just give in to it, don’t resist. It’s like saying, “Tie me on the cross!” [He says this calmly, angelically dropping back in his chair.] Here, want me to hold the nail? Everything is beautiful if you want to experience it totally.
How does paranoia become awareness?
It’s paranoia…and it’s paranoia…and it’s paranoia…UHN! [He mimics terror, total paranoia, scrunching up his body into a ball of vibrating fear that suddenly snaps and slumps back in ecstasy.]
It’s like when I went into the courtroom. Everybody in the court room wanted to kill me. I saw the hatred in their eyes, and I knew they wanted to kill me, and I asked the sheriffs, “Is somebody going to shoot me?” That’s why I feel like I’m already dead. I know it’s coming. It’s the cops who put that feeling into their heads. They don’t come in with that.
They whisper, so I can hear it, “Sharon Tate’s father is in court.” And then they go over and shake him down to see if he has a gun, and they’re just putting that idea into his head. He has a nice face. I saw him the first day in court. He doesn’t want to kill me. They’re putting that into his head. You know, they say things like, “We wouldn’t want you to shoot the defendant.” And every day I see him in court, his face gets a little harder, and one day he’s gonna do it.
And they put the whole thing in his head, feeding him all those negative vibrations. And if you keep doing that it’s got to happen. I know it’s coming. They all got their things pointed at me, and they want to use them badly. But actually they can’t use them, and that’s what makes them so mad. They can’t make love with them, they’re all suffering from sex paranoia.
They’ve been following me for three years, trying to find something, and wherever I go there’s like thirty women. And that really makes them mad. They can’t understand what all these women are doing with one guy.
They’re looking for something dirty in everything, and if you’re looking for something, you’ll find it. You have to put up some kind of face for them and that’s the only face they understand.
The answer is to accept the cross. I’ve accepted it. I can go up on the cross in my imagination. Oh, oooooh, aaaah! [The orgasmic crucifixion! He gives me a long sigh of relief.]
[Charlie’s rap is super acid rap — symbols, parables, gestures, nothing literal, everything enigmatic, resting nowhere, stopping briefly to overturn an idea, stand it on its head, and then exploit the paradox.
Have you ever seen the coyote in the desert? [His head prowls back and forth.] Watching, tuned in, completely aware. Christ on the cross, the coyote in the desert — it’s the same thing, man. The coyote is beautiful. He moves through the desert delicately, aware of everything, looking around. He hears every sound, smells every smell, sees everything that moves. He’s always in a state of total paranoia, and total paranoia is total awareness.
You can learn from the coyote just like you can learn from a child. A baby is born into the world in a state of fear. Total paranoia and awareness. He sees the world with eyes not used yet. As he grows up, his parents lay all this stuff on him. They tell him, when they should be letting him tell them. Let the children lead you.
The death trip is something they pick up from their parents, mama and papa. They don’t have to die. You can live forever. It’s all been put in your head.
They program him by withholding love. They make him into a mechanical toy. [He sings from his album, jerking his arms like a spastic Tin Man.]
I am a mechanical boy,
I am my mother’s toy.
Children function on a purely spontaneous level. Their parents make them rigid. You’re born with natural instincts and the first thing they want to do is lay all their thoughts on you. By the time you’re nine or ten, you’re exactly what they want. A free soul trapped in a cage, taught to die.
Everything happened perfectly for me in my life. I picked the right mother, and my father, I picked him too. He was a gas, he cut out early in the game. He didn’t want me to get hung up. [Charlie laughs privately at his private joke.]
Kids respond to music. They can hear it, they’re not so conditioned they can’t feel it. Music seldom gets to grownups. It gets through to the young mind that’s still open. When your mind is closed, it’s closed to God. I look at the world as God’s imagination. You are as much Him as you are willing to give up, become part of His body, become one.
The beautiful thing is that it’s all there, everything’s there in your mind. This kind one time kept asking me to teach him how to play the guitar. I can’t teach anything. If you believe you can do it, you can.
I once asked a friend, “Teach me what snow is.” He said, “Well, snow is like water, it’s cold and…” He spent months trying to teach me what snow was and finally he took some frosting out of the icebox. That was the closest he could come. You can’t communicate with words. Only with actions.
That’s what Jesus Christ taught us. Words kill. They’ve filled every living thing with death. His disciples betrayed Him by writing it down. Once it was written, it was as dead as a tombstone. They didn’t live His teachings, they wrote them down. They killed Him with every word in the New Testament. Every word is another nail in the cross, another betrayal disguised as love. Every word is soaked with His blood. He said, “Go, do thou likewise.” He didn’t say write it down.
The whole fucking system is built on those words, the church, the government, war, the whole death trip. The original sin was to write it down.
Here’s one fact that’s a fact you can’t hide: ten thousand people got up on that cross, that Roman cross, to tear the Establishment down from the inside! The preacher hides the ten thousand, crying holy, holy, talking about one man, putting up crosses everywhere. It’s all hidden under that cross. War, death, all hidden under that lie. Actually, there’s no such thing as suffering. That’s just another piece of propaganda the church puts out to make you believe the lie.
Can you tell us what you mean by submission? If we are all one, how can you justify being a leader?
There is only One. I’m the One. Me is first. I don’t care about you. I’m not thinking about what other people think, I just do what my soul tells me.
People said I was a leader. Here’s the kind of leader I was. I made sure the toilets were clean. I made sure the animals were fed. Any sores on the horses? I’d heal them. Anything need fixing? I’d fix it. I was always the one to do everything nobody else wanted to do. Cats need feeding? I’d feed them. When it was cold, I was always the last one to get a blanket.
Pretty soon I’d be sitting on the porch, and I’d think, “I’ll go and do this or that.” And one of the girls would say, “No, let me.” You’ve got to give up, lie down and die for other people, then they’ll do anything for you. When you are willing to become a servant for other people, they want to make you a master.
In the end, the girls would be just dying to do something for me. I’d ask one of them to make a shirt for me and she’d be just thrilled because she could do something for me. They’ll work 24 hours a day if you give them something to do.
I can get along with girls, they give up easier. I can make love to them. Man has this ego thing [Charlie stiffens up] holding on to his prick. I can’t make love to that. Girls break down easier. Their defences come down easier. When you get beyond the ego thing, all you’re left with is you; you make love with yourself.
With a girl, you can make love with her until she’s exhausted. You can make love with her until she gives up her mind, then you can make love with love.
[Charlie starts to run his hands up and down his body, caressing himself like a stripper, his fingers tingling like a faith healer in a trance. They dance all over his body.]
You climax with every move you make, you climax with every step you take. The breath of love you breathe is all you need to believe.
[Charlie pulls a thousand postures from the air. He squirms, stiffens, anguishes with ecstasy.]
Oooooh, Aaaaaaaah, uhhhn! Your beard, it feels sooooo good, mmmmmm! [His fingers, with half-inch-long nails, fondle his own face, his stubby chin, impersonating the hands of an unseen lover, making love with himself.] Your beard feels soooo good, mmmmmmm, yes it does. It all comes from the father into the woman.
[Suddenly he assumes his teaching position.]
See, it’s because I am a bastard that I can accept the truth. Hell, I am my father! The Father…The Son…[He withdraws in mock terror from some imaginary host of accusers, pushing them away, pushing the thought away with extended hands.] No, no, NO…it’s not me…you’ve got it all wrong. I’m not — you couldn’t think that! I don’t know what you’re talking about. Listen, I’ll get a job. [He continues fighting his phantom, Jacob wrestling with his angel, then giggles.]
See, the cop-out is Christianity. If you believe in Christianity. If you believe in Christianity, you don’t have to believe in Christ. Get a job and you won’t have to think about it all.
The whole thing is set up to get you involved in their game. For instance, I can tell you something about yourself. You don’t need those glasses. You’re wearing them because you were told you needed them. Your mother told you. Children’s eyes, you know, fluctuate between the ages of 12 and 16. So they start saying you need glasses, and pretty soon, after you’ve been wearing them for a while, you do need them. It’s just another gimmick to make money. It’s like when someone is dying, they call the doctor in. What do you need a doctor to die for?
George, you know George Spahn? He’s not blind. He just talked himself into it. He’d be sitting in front of the television, and his wife would come in and say, “George, you’re sitting awfully close to that set. Are you sure your eyes are O.K.?” And he’s just got to thinking in the back of his mind: “If I were blind, I wouldn’t have to get up and go to work every day. I could just sit in my big armchair and let people take care of me.” So finally his eyes started to get dimmer, and dimmer, and he finally went blind. But it was his soul who blinded him.
Being in jail protected me in a way from society. I was inside, so I couldn’t take part, play the games that society expects you to play. I’ve been in jail 22 years, the most I was out was maybe six months. I just wasn’t contaminated, I kept my innocence.
I got so I actually loved solitary. That was supposed to be punishment. I loved it. There is nothing to do in prison anyway, so all they can get you to do is “Get up! Sit down!” So solitary was great. I began to hear music inside my head. I had concerts inside my cell. When the time came for my release, I didn’t want to go. Yeah, man, solitary was beautiful.
What did you mean when you once said God and Satan are the same person?
If God is One, what is bad? Satan is just God’s imagination. Everything I’ve done for these nineteen hundred and seventy years is now in the open. I went into the desert to confess to God about the crime, I, you, Man has committed for 2,000 years. And that is why I’m here. As a witness.
I have been avoiding the cross for nineteen hundred and seventy years. Nineteen hundred and seventy nails in the cross. I was meant to go up on the cross willingly.
All the wars, all the deaths, all the hunger of these nineteen hundred and seventy years of blasphemy against Jesus Christ, all the shame and guilt, all the torture, they can’t hide it any longer. And unless you are willing to die for your love, you cannot love. Jesus Christ died for your sins and for my sins, and for nineteen hundred and seventy years I have been denying Him.
The white man must pay for the deaths of all the Indians that were slaughtered in greed, and now it is time for him to die for them.
Hope? You expect hope? [Charlie puts his hands together in prayer.] Ah, yes, there must be a little hope left, yes? [He spits scornfully.] There’s no hope! You make your own world. Hope is the last thing you hang onto. Everyone expects to be saved, saved from their guilt. But they’re not going to be saved. I am not going to take responsibility for society.
So I’m here for stolen dune buggies. If it hadn’t been that, it would have been something else. They were out to get me, and it was only a matter of time before they found something to pin on me. And they did. First they make the picture and then they fill it in. They create things so they can hide their own guilt.
I can only tell you the truth. All my life I’ve been locked up because nobody wanted me. Jail is where they put people they don’t want. They’ve got nowhere else to go, but no one else wanted them so they got buried alive. They don’t want to be there, but everything has to be on its shelf. Everybody’s got to be somewhere, and somewhere is where people who are nowhere go.
Do you think you are being persecuted as an individual?
I don’t think about myself as an individual. I just think about my love. Every day I love my world a little more. Love makes you stronger. They can’t take that away. If a man has given up everything, what can they take away?
Those Christian robes that the judge wears are stained with the blood of millions and millions of lives. Christians have defiled the cross. They wore it into battle. They took Christ into war with them and defiled His image. You know, the cells in this jail are filled with blacks, chicanos, people like me. People who never had anything.
Did you have a bike when you were a kid? I never did. I never had anything. That’s what the system is, it’s self-recurring. It just goes in circles and circles. Take away the criminal and what have you got? This society needs criminals, they need someone to blame everything on.
What do you feel about Judge Keene taking away your pro per privilege?
The judge is just the flip side of the preacher. He took away my pro per privilege because they don’t want me to speak. They want to shut me up — because they know if I get up on the stand, I am going to blow the whole thing wide open. They don’t want to hear it. That’s why they assigned me this attorney, Hollopeter.
He came to see me [Charlie mimics a fussy little man shuffling papers], sat down and started fiddling with these papers in his brief case. See, he wouldn’t look me in the eye. They sent me this guy who looks like a mouse. He was hiding behind his briefcase and his important papers.
He was saying, “Well, Mr. Manson, in your case, etc., etc.” And I said to him, “All right, but can you look me in the eye?” He couldn’t look me in the eye.
How can a mouse represent a lion? A man, if he’s a man, can only speak for himself. I said to Judge Keene, “Do I speak for you?”
Between you and me, if that judge asks for my life, I’m going to give it to him right there in the courtroom. But first of all he is going to have to deal with my music, the music in my fingers and my body. [Charlie demonstrates. His nails tap out an incredible riff on the table, the chair, the glass of the booth, like the scurrying footsteps of some strung-out rodent.]
He is going to have to deal with that power. I’m probably one of the most dangerous men in the world if I want to be. But I never wanted to be anything but me. If the judge says death, I am dead. I’ve always been dead. Death is life.
Anything you see in me is in you. If you want to see a vicious killer, that’s who you’ll see, do you understand that? If you see me as your brother, that’s what I’ll be. It all depends on how much love you have. I am you, and when you can admit that, you will be free. I am just a mirror.
Did you see what they did to that guy in the Chicago Seven trial? Hoffman saw in those guys what he wanted to see. That’s why he found them guilty. The white man is fading, everybody knows that. The black man will take over, they can’t stop it. And they won’t be able to stop me either unless they gag me.
Why do you think black people will gain power?
They were the first people to have power. The Pharoahs were black. The Egyptians took one man and raised him up above the rest. They put him on the throne and they fed all these lines of energy into him. [He folds his arms across his chest like Tutankamen, holding his pencil between two fingers like Pharoah’s rod.]
That means power. This represents the penis, the power. They built the pyramids with this energy. They were all one in him. All that concentration created a tremendous force. Love built the pyramids. Focusing all that love on one man was like focusing it on themselves.
Masons have that power. It’s a secret that’s been handed down since the Pharoahs. The secret wisdom. Jesus knew the symbols. The preacher and the judge got ahold of the symbols and they kept them to themselves.
Judge Keene uses all those symbols. He’ll make a sign like “cut him off.” Or like when I get up to speak, he’ll make a signal to one of the marshals, and all of a sudden a whole bunch of people will be let in the court and there will be all this confusion so they can’t hear what I’m saying. They use all these Masonic signs to hold power over other people.
So I started using the symbols. Every time I go into court, or have my picture taken, I use another Masonic sign. Like the three fingers, two fingers outstretched. When the judge sees it, it really freaks him out because he can’t say anything. When I see them making these signs in court I flash them back at them.
They know the symbols of power but they can’t understand it. Power without love is aggression. There has been no true love since the Pharaohs. Except for J.C. He knew what love meant.
Tempt me not. Do you remember the story about Jesus on the hill? You know, the devil takes Him to the edge of this cliff [Charlie leans over the table as if perched precariously on the edge of the void], and he says to Him, “If you’re God, prove it by jumping off the edge.” And Jesus says, “There ain’t nothing to prove, man.” When you doubt, your mind is in two parts. It’s divided against itself. See, Christ is saying, “Past get behind me.” The devil is in the past. The devil is the past. What He is saying is “Don’t think.” He who thinks is lost, because if you have to think about something, to doubt it, you’re lost already.
My philosophy is: Don’t think. I don’t believe in the mind that you think with and scheme with. I don’t believe in words.
If you don’t believe in words, why do you use so many of them?
Words are symbols. All I’m doing is jumbling the symbols in your brain. Everything is symbolic. Symbols are just connections in your brain. Even your body is a symbol.
What makes you such a hot lover?
You spend 20 years in jail playing with yourself, a woman becomes almost an unbelievable thing to you. It’s like a man in the desert, he’s been in the desert for 20 years, and then he comes across a glass of water. How would you treat that glass of water? It would be pretty precious to you, wouldn’t it?
How can you love and threaten someone at the same time?
Who did I threaten?
You sent Dennis Wilson a bullet.
I had a pocket full of bullets, so I gave him one.
Then it wasn’t given as a threat?
That’s his paranoia. His paranoia created the idea that it was a threat. If you gave me a bullet, I’d wear it around my neck to let them see your love for me. The only thing I’d want to do to Dennis is make love to him.
You know, I used to say to him, “Look at this flower, Dennis. Don’t you think it’s beautiful?” And he would say, “Look, man, I got to go.” He was always going somewhere to take care of some big deal. What it amounted to is that he couldn’t accept my love. I love him as much as I love myself. I refuse nothing and I ask nothing. It all flows through me.
Can you explain the meaning of Revelations, Chapter 9?
What do you think it means? It’s the battle of Armageddon. It’s the end of the world. It was the Beatles’ “Revolution 9” that turned me on to it. It predicts the overthrow of the Establishment. The pit will be opened, and that’s when it will all come down. A third of all mankind will die. The only people who escape will be those who have the seal of God on their foreheads. You know that part, “They will seek death but they will not find it.”
How do you know that these things are coming about?
I’m just telling you what my awareness sees. I look into the future like an Indian on a trail. I know what my senses tell me. I can just see it coming, and when it comes I will just say, “Hi there!” [He says it like a used-car salesman greeting the Apocalypse from a TV screen in some empty room.]
Why do you think that this revolution predicted in “Revolution 9” will be violent? Why will it be racial?
Have you heard of the Muslims? Have you heard of the Black Panthers? Englishmen, do you remember cutting off the heads of praying Muslims with the cross sewn onto your battledress? Can you imagine it?
Well, imagination is the same as memory. You and all Western Man killed and mutilated them and now they are reincarnated and they are going to repay you. The soul in the white man is lying down. They were praying, kneeling in the temple. They did not want war. And the white man came in the name of Christ and killed them all.
Can you explain the prophecies you found in the Beatles’ double album? [Charlie starts drawing some lines on the back of a sheet of white paper, three vertical lines and one horizontal line. In the bottom area he writes the word SUB.]
OK. Give me the names of four songs on the album.
[We choose “Piggies,” “Helter Skelter,” “Blackbird,” and he adds “Rocky Raccoon.” Charlie writes down the titles at the top of each vertical section. Under “Helter Skelter” he draws a zigzag line, under “Blackbird” two strokes, somehow indicating bird sounds. Very strange.]
This bottom part is the subconscious. At the end of each song there is a little tag piece on it, a couple of notes. Or like in “Piggies” there’s “oink, oink, oink.” Just these couple of sounds. And all these sounds are repeated in “Revolution 9.” Like in “Revolution 9,” all these pieces are fitted together and they predict the violent overthrow of the white man. Like you’ll hear “oink, oink,” and then right after that, machine gun fire. [He sprays the room with imaginary slugs.] AK-AK-AK-AK-AK-AK!
Do you really think the Beatles intended to mean that?
I think it’s a subconscious thing. I don’t know whether they did or not. But it’s there. It’s an association in the subconscious. This music is bringing on the revolution, the unorganized overthrow of the Establishment. The Beatles know in the sense that the subconscious knows.
What does “Rocky Raccoon” mean, then?
Coon. You know that’s a word they use for black people. You know the line, “Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt/to help with good Rocky’s revival.” Rocky’s revival — re-vival. It means coming back to life. The black man is going to come back into power again. “Gideon checks out” means that it’s all written out there in the New Testament, in the Book of Revelations.
The Bible also teaches submission. Women were put here to serve men, but only because they are ten times more receptive, more perceptive, than men. The servant is always wiser than the master.
“You know “Cease to Exist.” I wrote that for the Beach Boys. They were fighting among themselves, so I wrote that song to bring them together. “Submission is a gift, give it to your brother.” Dennis has true soul, but his brothers couldn’t accept it. He would go over to Brian’s house and put his arms around his brothers, and they would say, “Gee, Dennis, cut it out!” You know, they could not accept it.
Why do you think Susan Atkins gave that confession?
Susan is a very aware girl. I think her soul did it. I think her soul worked on her to the point that she did it. Personally I think she did it to put me in the position I’m in so that people could see where I’m at.
But do you know who is going to be sacrificed? It’s her. She is going to change her testimony. She’s going to say that she was there, but that I didn’t know anything about it. Even if she wasn’t there, she is going to say it.
Do you think she was?
No, I don’t think she was even there. But she is going to condemn herself out of guilt for what she’s done. What she doesn’t realize is she couldn’t hurt me anyway.
What would you like to do if you are ever released?
If I had a desire, it would be to be free from desire. I would go out into the desert. The desert is magic. I love the desert, it is my home. Nobody ever wanted me and nobody wants the desert. The stone that the builders rejected, do you remember that story?
I’ll live in the desert, like a coyote. I know where every waterhole is, and every berry and fruit that’s edible. They will come after me in the desert and they will die. The desert is God’s kingdom.
Once I was walking in the desert and I had a revelation. I’d walked about 45 miles, and that is a lot of miles to walk in the desert. The sun was beating down on me and I was afraid, because I wasn’t willing to accept death. My tongue swoll up and I would hardly breathe.
[He begins to speak in a gagging fashion, as if he has a huge rock in his mouth. He crashes to the table, his left hand under his head and his right arm stretched out along the table’s edge. His face turns rubbery with delirium.]
I collapsed in the sand. [Charlie rages like a prospector in a sand storm.] Oh God! I’m going to die! I’m going to die right here! [He cries out in a pitiful voice, Peter sinking into the sea.]
I looked at the ground and I saw this rock out of the corner of my eye. And I remember thinking in this insane way as I looked at it, “Well, this is as good a place as any to die.”
And then I started to laugh. I began laughing like an insane man, I was so happy. And when I had snapped to, I realised what I was doing. I’d let go. I wasn’t hanging on. I was free from the spell, as free as that stone.
I just got up as if a giant hand had helped me. I got up with ease and I walked another 10 miles and I was out. It’s easy.
Do you think you will ever get out of jail?
I don’t care. I’m as at home here as anywhere. Anywhere is anywhere you want it to be. It’s all the same to me. I’m not afraid of death, so what can they do to me? I don’t care what they do. The only thing I care about is my love.
Death is psychosomatic. The gas chamber? [Charlie laughs.] My God, are you kidding? It’s all verses, all climaxes, all music. Death is permanent solitary confinement and there is nothing I would like more than that.
A bell rings. A deputy comes over to tell us the time is up. The jail is closing for the night. Charlie gives us a song he’d composed in jail, “Man Cross Woman,” written neatly on lined yellow paper ripped from a legal tablet.
Charlie just stands at the entrance to the attorney room, smiling. Outside, in the distance, Clem and Squeaky wave and smile back ecstatically at their captured kind, their fingers pressed against the glass. The deputies watch Charlie, puzzled, as he flops his head from one side to the other like a clown. They cannot see Clem and Squeaky behind them, imitating his every movement, communicating in a silent animal language.
Book Four: Super Ego vs. the Id
The forthcoming trial will be the most radical courtroom drama west of Chicago. The prosecution and the defence are in two separate worlds. The megalithic courtroom procedure will grind on and on, and Manson will go on talking about the end of the world. It is unlikely that anyone will ever know what happened on the nights of August 8 and August 9, let alone know in what dimension it took place.
Manson’s objection to the trial is that it is arbitrary in selecting him as a scapegoat, and irrelevant in that it does not attempt to deal in the absolute terms that he has set up.
What he is asking for is patently impossible, and therefore denied the validity of the court. But Manson is not the only person to have called the judicial system into question on grounds that it does not function in the absolute. In fact, Manson’s claim that a court that does not operate on cosmic law has been argued since law was first codified, and it is actually on this point that it is most vulnerable. The law does not pretend to dispense divine law; it claims to operate on a limited, finite system of values, but once you accept the premise, you are obligated to accept a fiction, in terms of justice.
The fiction is in the assigning of guilt to one party, even the isolation of one crime, within a society that perpetuates itself through both mental and physical violence.
Justice can be done only if the jury could consist of everybody in society so the court can expose all the connections between all events simultaneously. Since this is a physical impossibility except through electronic media, the court must proceed as if events took place isolated from the society in which they took place, and once that fiction has been established, it is easy to find villains in individuals.
By accepting this without question, our legal system is guilty of just what Manson claims: It is a form of theater in which real victims are found for sacrifice. And if we have allowed our legal system to become theater, we are already in the area of magic.
“Modern legalistic relationalism,” as Norman O. Brown pointed out in Love’s Body, “does not get away from magic: on the contrary it makes all the magical effects so permanent and so pervasive that we do not notice them at all.” We are under a spell; the courts, the government have mesmerised us with documents, facts, fetishes to keep our minds off what is really happening.
The reason the present judicial system is so vulnerable to being manipulated by freaks like Manson and political radicals is its narrow definition of human activity, the establishing of a single, separate crime in time with a single, obvious motive. Not only is the court incapable of “recreating” what “really happened” and therefore of assigning blame, it is incapable of saying what crime is except within a self-serving moral context.
The irony is that as long as the courts persist in dealing with crime as a simple matter, there will be crime. The judicial system actually perpetuates crime because it is incapable of dealing with psychological reality or the true climate of the society.
Charles Hollopeter, who had successfully defended a sex criminal virtually convicted by the press in what was considered an impossible case, was Charles Manson’s first court-appointed lawyer. Manson recalls that he saw him “briefly,” and that Hollopeter, who could not take seriously Manson’s desire to act as his own defence, shuffled his documents, mumbled some legal technicalities, and asked the court for a psychiatric examination of his client.
Manson could never accept an insanity plea because he does not consider himself insane. Legally, however, it would have been a simple way out. After all, his alleged crimes are hardly in the realm of sanity.
But Manson insists on defending himself on the grounds that he is quite sane, but that it is the court which is not. He is fond of quoting the Chicago 7 trial as an example of the corruption of the legal system, and it is very effective. Manson’s condemnation of justice as practiced is obviously accurate in many ways, and it is simply this, his total rejection of the society and its institutions that has won over the L.A. Underground Press.
As for the plea of insanity that Hollopeter entered, Manson quickly dismissed it as an obvious fallacy. From his point of view, it is a compliment to be considered insane by an Establishment whose self-serving definition of justice is just sordid theater.
And the point is valid. A “mental incompetent” is legally absolved from guilt, but if the argument is carried to its conclusion, there are extenuating circumstances behind every crime.
If you follow the thread far enough it extends everywhere. When Karl Marx said, “We are all members of one body,” he meant it to be understood psychologically as well as politically. The whole society is a body and specific illnesses are merely symptoms which relate to the whole.
If ever psycho-analysis is admitted to the court, not as hired testimony for the prosecution or the defence, but, to examine the court itself as a client, its conclusions are likely to undermine our accepted, and therefore complacent, concept of justice:
“Freud sees the collision between psychoanalysis and our penal institutions: ‘It is not psychology that deserves to be laughed at, but the procedure of judicial inquiry.’ Reik, in a moment of apocalyptic optimism, declares that ‘The enormous importance attached by criminal justice to the deed as such derives from a cultural phase which is approaching its end.’ A social order based on the reality principle, a social order which draws the distinction between the wish and the deed, between the criminal and the righteous, is still the kingdom of darkness. It is only as long as a distinction is made between real and imaginary murders that real murders are worth committing: as long as the universal guilt is denied, there is a need to resort to individual crime, as a form of confession, and as a request for punishment. The strength of sin is the law.” (Love’s Body, Norman O. Brown)
“The strength of sin is the law” — Corinthians XV:56. Just as the Courts cannot afford to take the First Amendment to the Constitution seriously, they have never pretended to incorporate Christ’s amendment to the Seventh Commandment (adultery): “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Like the Pharisees, in the account of the woman taken in adultery, the court, because it cannot incorporate Christ’s teaching, is “convicted by its own conscience.” The law, assuming that divine justice will take care of itself, does not concern itself, then, with questions of good and evil. Perhaps its wisdom in restricting its jurisdiction comes from the suspicion that those large cosmic questions are never answered except to the satisfaction of personal prejudice.
In Anthony Burgess’ classic novel of mindless violence, A Clockwork Orange, his brutish protagonist, Alex, says as much as perhaps can ever be said on the subject: “But, brothers, this biting of their toe-nails over what is the cause of badness is what turns me into a laughing malchick. They don’t go into what is the cause of goodness, so why of the other shop. If lewdies are good that’s because they like it, and I wouldn’t ever interfere with their pleasures, and so of the other shop. And I was patronising the other shop. More, badness is of the self, the one, the you or me in our oddy knockies, and that self is made by old Bog or God is his great pride and radosty. But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government and the judges and the schools cannot allow the self. And is not our modern history, my brothers, the story of brave malenky selves fighting these big machines? I am serious with you, brothers, over this. But what I do I do because I like to do.”
Ironically, after all the judgments have been passed on Manson, the worst the court can do is to send him back to where he is most at home: prison.
Charles has spent 22 of his 35 years in prison, and it neither taught him that crime does not pay, nor convinced him of the righteousness of the society that condemned him. All he learned about was the circular, vengeful logic of crime and punishment: Society locks up criminals, because criminals make us lock up ourselves behind our steel frame doors.
Charlie actually looked upon his time in prison as a good thing. He developed a self-taught form of solipsism which let him see the years of captivity as a form of ascetic meditation. Prison was to him an austere form of monastic life and his cell was a Platonic cave where he could project the entire universe. When he finally got out he discovered the world was equally illusory on both sides of the wall, and the grandest illusion was the very concept of inside and outside.
Charlie had come to his own realisation that, to the mystic, putting someone in prison as a form of punishment was an incredible irony. It had actually preserved him from the corruption of the world. It’s the world that’s actually the prison! On the outside, those who thought they were free were actually imprisoned in their games. When he was released, it was like being born at the age of 32. According to Gypsy, one of the more dominant members of the Family:
“When he got out, he was brand new. He was like a three-year-old. He was like three years old, he’s been on earth three years. You can’t lie to him, because he believes all. He looks at it, he doesn’t disbelieve it, and he doesn’t believe it. He just looks at it…He doesn’t have all the times mommy said, “Take your thumb out of your mouth,’ in his head. He didn’t pay any attention to those things because he wasn’t personally involved with them.”
His paradoxical brain allowed him to turn everything on its head. Even physical punishment could be interpreted as its opposite by taking Christ’s words literally:
“If someone beats you with a whip, and you love the whip, then what’s he doing? Making a fool of himself. [laughs] Old J.C. said, ‘Turn the other cheek.’ It’s a simple thing, man. [laughs] It’s heaven right here, Jack, right here.”
“Is that what you did in prison, made it a beautiful place?”
“It always was.”
“How did you pass your time away?”
“Time away? Yeah, I guess it was away, far away.” (from Gary Stromberg’s tape of Manson)
And it was in prison, at Terminal Island, that this strange tale had begun, three years ago, when his friend, Phil Kaufman, who was serving time for smuggling dope, turned him on to the “music scene, dope, and the ‘hippie thing’ in the world outside.”
Book Five: The Book of Manson
According to Phil Kaufman
Although Phil Kaufman lived with Charles Manson and his followers for only two months in the Spring of 1968, evidence indicates he maintained a steady, businesslike relationship with them in the years that followed. Certainly Kaufman was one of the main advocates of Manson’s music and, in fact, claimed to have “discovered” Manson and his talent while imprisoned on drug charges* at Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institute in San Pedro, Calif. It was Kaufman who, after being snubbed by all major recording firms in Hollywood, formed his own company and produced Manson’s first album, LIE. Kaufman hoped the record would spread Manson’s message to the world. But it turned out to be a financial disaster, a kind of poetic justice to those who felt Kaufman was exploiting the Tate-La Bianca murders.
Little is known of Kaufman himself other than he dabbled in various Hollywood enterprises. He once managed the Flying Burrito Brothers and did some Los Angeles road work for the Stones during their 1969 tour of the United States. He founded Joint Ventures, Inc., a non-profit USO-type operation that booked rock acts into various state prisons.
His account which follows was taken from tapes probably recorded in the early Seventies, before or about the time of Manson’s first trial. Kaufman then was living in North Hollywood in an old, rambling shack set back from the road and surrounded by a padlocked wire fence and giant dogs. Maps of the time indicate the house, which occasionally served as an underground railway stop for members of Manson’s family visiting the city, was located five miles directly north of Sharon Tate’s Benedict Canyon home.
There was this guy playing guitar in the yard one day at Terminal Island Jail. And it was Charlie, singing his ass off. He had an old guitar with all kinds of writing on it, all kinds of songs. And the guards kept taking it away from him, saying, “If you play it in this place at this time, you are violating this rule.” They had these rules so you’d continually know that you were captive.
He had done seven and a half years on a ten-year sentence for a $15 postal check, and when he got out I sent him to these people — Gary Stromberg — to record him.
And they did record him. He went in and did three hours of tapes, and they wanted him to do some more but he just split one day. He and the girls. He had a big black bus at the time and they traveled a lot. This was in 1967.
He showed up a year later in another studio, but after he recorded, he split again and never signed anything. We tried to sell Charlie’s music a long time ago but we never could get him to sit down and do it. Now, at least, we got him sitting down.
I got out of jail in March, 1968, and joined Charlie a couple of weeks later in Topanga. By that time he had gone to San Francisco and was back.
The family was pretty much the same as now except none of the same guys were there. The original girl was Mary, then Lynne. There was Patty Krenwinkel. Sandy came right after I did in ’68. Sandy came with a friend of Charlie’s and never went back. The friend went back alone.
There were about 12 girls. Every time Charlie saw a girl he liked, he’d tell someone, “Get that girl.” And when they brought her back, Charlie would take her out in the woods and talk to her for an hour or two. And she would never leave.
During that time, Charlie and the family mastered the art of hanging out. They did chores like collecting day-old bread from the garbage, but that was it.
One day they were at Ralph’s doing the garbage thing, and the heat was there with the lights on, you know. And the heat said to them, “What you doing there?” And they answered, “We’re getting dinner.” And the heat said, “Whadya mean you’re getting dinner?” And they answered, “This is where we shop, man.”
This is the truth. The food that America throws away, they lived on. You can buy day-old bread, but you can’t buy bread that’s another day old. That includes cookies, chocolate cakes, doughnuts, whatever you have. They have to throw it away.
So the girls went to the garbage dump and took some old vegetables and took all this stuff home and cleaned it and ate it. And they’ve lived on the garbage dumps of America, the food that America’s thrown away, for years. And they’re still doing it.
But much of the days of Topanga were spent hanging out. You’d spend a lot of days in a bathtub on the front lawn, just sitting there with two naked girls, with the sun beating on you, and you’d get up and turn the bathtub around, follow the sun and smoke some grass. And that was the whole fucking thing.
After awhile Charlie became too overbearing for me. You could do whatever you liked, but Charlie would do what was right. Neither of us wanted to give in. For one thing, Charlie just didn’t dig outsiders. Not at all. A friend of mine came by one day and Charlie just picked up all the girls and prepared to leave. I asked him what he was doing and he gave me some snappy dialogue, so I said fuck you, I’ll see you.
Now when it came time for me to split, Charlie turned to me and said, “All right, take whatever you want.” And he wasn’t kidding. I could have taken the bus, the motorcycle, 11 girls. That was his philosophy. The more you give, the more you get.
He’s gone through thousands of dollars in cars and things and he never keeps anything. Never keeps anything. But he expects you to do the same. Charlie would go up to someone’s house and knock on the door and say, “Can I have your car?” Most people are hostile at first, but he talks to them and gets them together.
Somebody gave him a brand new Mustang two years ago, and there was this woman up in Malibu who at one time was quite affluent. She had stables and a big place to run her horses. But she was unhappy because she could no longer afford these things and was going to lose them. So Charlie gave her the new car, and all the girls went up there and in one week shovelled all the horse shit, all 300 stalls worth. And they got money and paid her, they gave her bread.
Once we were going out to Venice to get a motorcycle a guy was going to give us, and we picked up two kids, a guy and a chick going to Central America. They flashed the peace sign and everything, which, incidentally, Charlie doesn’t go for. He doesn’t dig holding up the two fingers, just one, standing for ME, The One, all of us are one.
And Charlie asked the kids, “How much money do you have?” And they said, “Not much,” And Charlie told them, “Take the car.”
That night they stayed at the house, and the next day Charlie asked them again, “How much money do you have?” And they replied, “About $20.” And he said, “How are you going to drive the car to Central America on $20? I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you $50 for your car.” So they sold him back his car for $50 and hitched to Central America.
That was the same car he later gave to the landlady of this house we were all living in, in Topanga. We had fixed up the house and everybody had a hand in it. One day the landlady came over and just freaked out. She yelled, “Man, what are you doing to my house?” and all that shit. In five minutes she was on the floor, and the girls were peeling grapes for her and Charlie was singing her songs. And she said, “That’s a nice stereo you have there,” and when she got in the car she had the stereo. And all the records. This happened in April, ’68.
Once George Spahn was at the ranch, man, he needed bread. They gave him $8000 to pay his back taxes, else it would have been snatched from under him. Charlie never keeps anything, that’s the thing. Motorcycles, televisions, never keep anything. I mean, he just keeps it till somebody wants it.
The most shaken I’ve ever seen Charlie was when they said he couldn’t defend himself. It was like they tricked him, they wanted to shut him up. It was a well-calculated plan. They not only gave him a public defender, but they gave him one of the best, which is bullshit. They’re afraid to hear Charlie talk. He wants justice, he wants to be heard. But justice and the law are not the same thing.
Twice they took Mary’s child away. They took Sadie’s and they took Linda Kasabian’s. Now they’re going to give back Linda’s and drop all charges against her.
They took Linda to a Chinese dinner. The assistant district attorney took her out of jail last week, took her to the scene of the two alleged crimes and on the way back bought her a Chinese dinner in a restaurant. They’re dropping the charges if she gives them information.
Charlie and I have never discussed the case, but I don’t think he did it. I don’t think the killers are still at large, but I don’t think he was in on it.
They say he beat the girls at the ranch. He never beat the girls, that’s all in the cops’ heads. They don’t dig somebody having a good time.
They say he went in and tied up the people at the La Bianca house. That doesn’t sound like Charlie. If something like that happened, I don’t think he’d like to be present for it.
If Charlie were a murderer, he would have done a lot better job than these people who did the Tate thing. It wasn’t done right. It was a straight dumb senseless murder. That’s why I don’t think he was in on it.
Charlie never took any dope till he got out of prison, and it completely changed his head. He got himself together in jail, and when he got out, he began practicing it. He is powerful, he is together, and he has a direction. And young people who don’t dig the Establishment but don’t have an alternative would dig him. He’s so together with himself that he projects that. There are no doubts when he talks. He lets you know it, he believes it, and he’s practicing it.
Charlie’s not going to argue points of law, and that’s going to fuck up the court. All the witnesses, all the girls in the family, their value structure is so different from those prosecuting them, that when the prosecution starts asking them about apples, they’re going to be answering bananas. When they answer a question, you’re not going to be able to tell what the hell they’re talking about. Their frame of reference is so esoteric that only they know what they’re talking about.
I don’t think there are 12 people in the world where Charlie couldn’t get to somebody. I don’t think there are 12 people in the world who could convict Charles Manson, if Charles Manson is talking for himself.
But it’s not getting out of jail that is important to Charlie. It’s just taking care of the business that is at hand.
Once when Charlie was walking across the yard at Terminal Island, this cop came up to him and said, “Manson, you ain’t never gonna get out of here.” And Charlie looked at him and said, “Out of where, man?”
And that wasn’t jive, he meant that. Because Charlie lives every minute of his life, wherever it is, whether it’s in solitary or if he’s balling 87 girls, or eating garbage. That’s living. That’s life. That’s how it’s going at that time.
According to Gary Stromberg
How Gary Stromberg came to know Phil Kaufman is not entirely clear, but that they were close friends for years has been verified by many sources. Stromberg, like Kaufman, was devoted to Manson’s music, but he also, perhaps even more than Kaufman, was devoted to Manson’s teachings and personal magnetism. Unlike Kaufman, however, Stromberg never actually became a follower of Manson, which probably accounts for the brief, spotty nature of the history he left us. Stromberg and Manson spent most of their time together at Universal Studios in North Hollywood, a huge television film factory that specialized in sightseeing tours. Stromberg worked there for a while as a young film director, later became a publicist with Public Relations Associates in Hollywood. While he was at Universal, Stromberg arranged Manson’s first recording session. The three-hour session proved to be an embarrassing failure even by the crude recording standards of those days. Manson was unable to understand the demands of the recording engineers, and the recording engineers were unable to understand Manson in any way whatsoever. At one point, it is said, Manson told Stromberg, “I ain’t used to a lot of people.” To which Stromberg replied, “And a lot of people ain’t used to you.”
Now when Charlie was paroled, he knew no one in the vicinity and he wanted to get into show business. So Phil told him I was in films and sent him to see me. He’s a charming guy, he really had a charisma.
He used to come over two or three times a week in a bus which he had painted white. And he had painted Hollywood Film Company across the side so nobody would bother him. And inside it was really trippy. He had an icebox and a stereo system and a floating coffee table suspended from the ceiling. The only food they had was cream puffs. Someone had given them a case of cream puffs and every day that’s what they existed on. We would all sit in the bus and listen to records or he would play. And we’d eat cream puffs.
The thing that really attracted me to Charlie was that I was working on a story at Universal for a film that took the premise that if Jesus came back today, in this country and this climate and current situation, that he most likely would or very well could have been a black man. We were going to construct a story about Christ returning as a black man in the South today. Naturally the white Christians would have been the Romans.
Charlie is very Christ-like and has a Christ-like philosophy. And he was technical advisor on what Christ’s positions would have been relative to certain things. He got very into it because he liked the idea of being an authority on Christ. He has a very sophisticated knowledge of Biblical things. He doesn’t read but he seemed well read. And we would bounce things off Charlie in developing the story.
The movie was never made. Universal hated it, despised it.
I never saw anything that would indicate Charlie had racist feelings. He had this whole thing about submission. He felt the only way to totally free yourself was to totally submit, and the freest person in this country was the black slave. He was in a submissive position, and if he could totally submit he would free himself. When the master whipped him, if he could love that master and love that whip, who was the master whipping? But he used to get uptight because he felt the black man in this country was after the white man’s ego. And he felt that was getting him nowhere.
When I first met him at Universal, I was taken aback by Charlie. He came in barefoot with his guitar and four girls and made himself at home. And it was amazing the respect these girls had for Charlie. They just lived and breathed by him.
Once when we were working on the Christ story, he demonstrated the submission thing. He turned to Lynne and said, “Lynne, come here and kiss my feet”; and she got down on her knees and kissed his feet and sat down. And then he said, “Now I will kiss yours,” and he did. There was never any explanation or questioning. They just did it. They were so open and trusting.
Charlie had a tremendous feel for people and understanding of how they react. I think it’s that street sense, from dealing with people in jail, being a fugitive and a criminal and living by his wits.
One day he was with a crowd of people on the beach, and he was rapping about how material possessions were evil. And one man in the crowd became angry and said to him, “You’re full of shit! Here you say you don’t need material possessions, yet you have this big fantastic bus.” And Charlie replied, “Do you want the bus, man?” and the man said, “Yeah, I want the bus.” And Charlie gave him the keys, saying, “Here, take it, I don’t need the bus.”
Hours later the man returned and told Charlie, “I don’t really want your bus. I just wanted to see what you would do.” And he returned the bus.
At another time, during the recording session, Charlie suddenly told a company executive, “You know what? The way out of a room is not through the door, partner,” The executive was startled and asked him to repeat his words.
And Charlie said again, “The way out of a room is not through the door, because then you just go into another room, which leads into another room, which leads into a bigger room, and you’re still inside your cave, man.”
“You’re still inside your cave,” repeated the executive, not understanding the message. And Charlie explained, “Yeah, that’s not the way out. The way out is to be willing to give it all up and love every bit of it as being perfect.”
But the executive still was puzzled, saying, “You think that’s important, huh? I want to get closer to it. I want to groove. I feel the vibrations.”
To which Charlie replied sharply, “Yeah, you feel this. You feel your conditioning coming on. I’ll tell you exactly what you feel. You’ve assumed the beingness of a social worker.”
The executive became tense and defensive upon hearing this and said, “No, I’m the furthest thing from a social worker. But you see, to me all things are beautiful also. But when you said four walls and solitary confinement is beautiful, it was hard for me to groove with that for a minute.”
Then Charlie, realising that the man was ill at ease, comforted him with these words: “I believe you. I believe anything. You never can lie to me. You’re perfect, you can never do any wrong. No mistakes. Each song I’ve been doing is just one mistake after another. I just take the mistake and groove on it and it becomes something else. And I keep making the same mistake until it becomes another thing.”
When those in the studio heard these teachings, they were truly amazed and later told others what had happened.
According to Lance Fairweather
The true identity of Lance Fairweather has puzzled Mansonist scholars for years and probably never will be revealed. Apparently the man valued his anonymity as much as his life, for reasons that will become obvious from the following account. We do know that he was some kind of producer in Hollywood and an intimate friend of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, producer Terry Melcher and, of course, Charles Manson. In fact, he is said to have met Manson while living at Wilson’s extravagant Pacific Palisades home in early 1968. Like Phil Kaufman and Gary Stromberg — neither of whom he knew — Fairweather was a devotee of Manson’s music, but he felt that Manson should first be introduced to the public by a documentary film before his music could be accepted. For this reason he brought Melcher to the Spahn movie ranch in the summer of 1969.
After the Tate-La Bianca murders and the arrest of Manson, Fairweather sold his house and moved his family to a secret location in the San Fernando Valley. Both Wilson and Melcher moved and Melcher bought a gun and hired a fulltime bodyguard. These fearful actions may seem baffling, if not amusing, to Mansonists today; but one must consider the prevailing attitudes toward life and death that existed in those times.
There have been many dancers in this world that I have seen, but no one ever danced like Charlie. When Charlie danced, everyone else left the floor. He was like fire, a raw explosion, a mechanical toy that suddenly went crazy.
Charlie was certainly a fascinating cat. He represented a freedom that everybody liked to see. That is why we wanted to document him. He really was an active revolutionary of the time in that area. Like Castro in the hills before he overthrew the government. Charlie advocated the overthrow of the government, and the police force and everything. He thought it was all wrong, it was as simple as that. He wanted to do more than talk about it, but like so many revolutionaries, he really had no solution. And he didn’t have the patience to really wait. Had he waited, he could have had so much more effect with his music. I would say to him, “Charlie, you can do so much more with your music and with film than you can ever fucking do running around in a bus with your girls and preaching the stuff.”
And then in January or February of 1969, eight or nine months after I met him, we started recording him. Charlie was living at the ranch at that time, and Dennis and I fooled around recording him over at Brian Wilson’s house. As you know, Brian has this studio in his house. But Charlie couldn’t make it with those people. They’re too stiff for him.
And Charlie always said, he just asked one thing, he said to me,”I don’t care what you do with the music. Just don’t let anybody change any of the lyrics.” That was one of his big beefs with Dennis. Dennis had taken some of his songs and changed the lyrics around, which really infuriated him. Charlie had a big thing about the meaning of words that came out of your mouth. That is to say, to him all that a man is is what he says he is; so those words better be true. If Charlie said he would be someplace at 4 o’clock, he would be, even if he had to walk. And it used to infuriate him that Dennis would forget what he promised immediately. So Charlie and Dennis never got along that well.
One day Charlie gave me a .45 slug to give to Dennis, saying, “Tell Dennis I got one more for him.” Charlie was really bugged with him because Dennis ran off at the mouth so much.
Sometime later I started recording Charlie at a little studio here called Wilder Studio. And the owner, George Wilder, was leery of Charlie because he knew Charlie was an ex-con, and because Charlie to a straight person is sort of a wild looking guy — his eyes, his hair, his movements and everything. So he was a little leery of Charlie and he kept bugging me, saying, “Listen, this guy is an ex-con. I don’t know what he’s going to do. He might flip out or beat me up or something. And what about my money?”
So Charlie turned to him and said, “Aw, don’t worry about your money. You can have all these guitars.” And Wilder, dumbfounded, said, “Wait a minute. What does he mean I can have all these guitars?” It really blew his mind. Charlie just walked out, saying, “You can have ’em, man.” He was bugged. He left him two or three amplifiers, two electric guitars, an acoustic guitar and some other instruments.
Here is one thing to remember about Charlie’s attitude toward giving: Everything Charlie gave away he eventually got back. Only more so. At the ranch one day he demonstrated this attitude by casting a handful of gravel into the air. When the pebbles landed, he reached down and began gathering them up one by one, saying, “You pick up what you want — here, and here, and here.”
I wanted Terry Melcher to meet Charlie and make this film of him. If we could sell the man, his music would emerge, so I wanted some backing for the film. I used to think of Charlie almost as a missionary who would take his people out and start communities.
In fact, one thing that locked me into Charlie and made me think he was really a humanitarian was his great compassion for young girls on their way to San Francisco and the Haight. He wanted to stop them because he knew what the Haight had turned into and that these naive, dumb, wide-eyed girls would be hopelessly lost in that jungle. He said they would be beaten up by the niggers, they’d be raped, they’d go on to speed and so on. And he wanted to put a song out, telling them, “Don’t go to the Haight, come to me.” And that made sense to me.
And Terry was impressed the first time he went to the ranch. But the second time he was a little leery of Charlie and didn’t want to follow up the idea any more. Maybe it was the Randy Starr thing that scared him.
See, the second time at the ranch Terry and I and Charlie were sitting down by the stream, and Charlie was singing. And Randy Starr, this old Hollywood stuntman, was drunk and goofing off and waving his gun around. And Charlie yelled, “Don’t draw on me, motherfucker!” and went over and beat the shit out of him right in front of us.
But it was in the spring of 1969 that Charlie really changed radically from what he had been the former year. He started collecting material things, accumulating motorcycles and desert vehicles and even weapons. He kept saying, “I got some great guns,” and I’d say, “What is this shit? I don’t even want to hear about it.” He used to say he needed money to go to the desert, he needed supplies, he wanted ropes to go down into these holes in the desert. He really believed there was an underground people living out there. That was Charlie’s dream — to go underground, really live underground, to wait for the revolution.
He believed there would be an open revolution in the streets, the black man against the white man. He said the only people who survive will be the ones who get out of here and go into the desert. He said the black man doesn’t want to go out in the desert in the hot sun; that’s where he’s been all of his life. He wants to be in the shade, in the city. He believed he would be continuing the race out there, because most of the race would die, as in Revelations 9.
And he believed that the Beatles were the spokesmen; Helter Skelter became a symbol. He believed they were singing about the same thing he already knew about. He believed they were all tuned in together. He thought he would meet the Beatles, he even sent some telegrams. This philosophy developed in the last year.
The last few times I saw Charlie, he was like a wild animal. I wasn’t frightened, but I could just see it. It was like walking alongside a wild animal, his eyes…He wasn’t handling the city at all. He said to me, “I gotta get out of here.” And I said, “Go to the desert, man. That’s where you belong.”
After the Tate thing, he came to my house in the middle of the night a few times. It was as if you took an animal from its element. He was always looking around — like a wild person.
The police were looking for him. Also, he supposedly shot a spade in the stomach in Topanga. A friend called me up and said, “You know that crazy guy Charlie? He shot some spade in the stomach, then took his jacket, bent over, kissed his feet and said, ‘I love you, brother.'” And I said, “That sounds like Charlie, all right.”
None of this was reported to the police. This guy was a dealer, a big syndicate dealer, a real out and out criminal dealer who dealt everything. So these people wouldn’t report it to the police; they just take care of it themselves. Charlie figured these people would be after him immediately. The spade lived, incidentally. This was early in the summer of ’69, when Charlie was collecting weapons and hanging out with the motorcycle people.
Charlie had a big Negro thing. His color philosophy was that the black man was the last race to evolve and he was going to take whitey’s place. And whitey was going to move up to a more spiritual level. The black man was here mainly to take care of the white man — the police department, the President would be a Negro, everything down to the waiters. They were really totally to serve the white man. Charlie said this is because they are stronger physically and more clever than we are, and they even have more love. They would enjoy to do that.
But he’s completely against intermarriage. His philosophy here was a mind blower, too. In fact, when I heard it, I fucking broke out laughing. Charlie said you have to be very careful about selecting your mate, because you’d be making love to yourself. And then he jumped to a reincarnation level where you’d be making love to your own children. He believed in a master race philosophy, that you have to improve the race.
I don’t think he’s sane. He’s a danger to society. He represents a danger to life. Charlie himself has no fear of death. I’ve seen him do some wild things.
He used to love to get me into the car and drive 100 miles an hour on Sunset in Dennis’ Ferrari or in his dune buggy. And I’d just sit there. And finally he’d get the idea that I wasn’t digging it but would put up with it, so he’d slow down and drive very slowly, 10 miles an hour.
One night, around midnight, Charlie came by the house when my wife was alone with the children. And he wanted to come inside and take a shower. She was frightened by him and refused to let him in. At this, Charlie went into a rage, shaking his fist and shouting, “If you weren’t his wife, I’d beat your face in!” And she knew he meant it.
I think like most schizoids or insane people he walks a very thin line, and when he does walk over the line, he explodes momentarily and then he comes back in. He can get set off, but normally he walks the line all right.
Charlie used to say, “What would you do if I put a gun to your head and made you come and live in the desert with me?” And I’d say, “If you put a gun to my head, the worst you could do would be to kill me; and I’d just go with you till I could escape.”
Charlie was always recruiting. He had the girls, and he was always looking for strong guys because all he ever got was young guys.
I’m sure that if that thing hadn’t happened in August, maybe in a year or two we would hear about a whole town, like Lone Pine, being taken over by a tribe of people. Because he wasn’t kidding. He had machine guns and walkie-talkies and dugouts. He really wanted to build a fortress up there.
During the past year I asked myself many times, “What made Charlie change? What was the main cause?” And one thought kept recurring: If Abbey Road had come out sooner, maybe there wouldn’t have been a murder.
That’s far out, I know. But Sgt. Pepper was such a happy album, such a happy, acid trip, and it made Charlie very happy. And then the white double album was such a down album. I know it affected Charlie deeply. And then Abbey Road was another happy one.
And I just can’t help thinking: If Abbey Road had come out sooner, maybe Sharon Tate would be alive today.
Book Six: In the Land of the Mindless
“My friends don’t drive. They don’t have licenses or identification. They live at the side of the road, they don’t have an address. The deputies call them odd looking people, but they’re my brothers.”
—Charles Manson to Judge, William B. Keene.
The Spahn Movie Ranch tilts back from Santa Susana Pass Road as if it had been washed ashore by the primeval ocean that once covered most of Southern California. Tire-less farm trucks, grill-less, chrome-gilled autos rot in the late afternoon sun like dead beached whales. Here and there, piles of mechanical driftwood, rusty pipe and wire and parts of unknown furniture, hint at forgotten projects never finished.
“I just sit here and watch the movies come and go,” says Squeaky, resting on an old crate in front of the Longhorn Saloon. The movies she watches, of course, are a more cosmic variety. Life as seen in the road show version.
It’s been some time since the last Hollywood filmmaker left the ranch, another Grade B quickie under his belt, and the Longhorn Saloon now entertains only a shiftless crowd of brokendown stoves and refrigerators inside its boarded doors.
The saloon, the entire warped frontier boardwalk, appears absurdly small and two-dimensional from the dirt road 20 yards away. It is a village for cartoon people.
Behind the boardwalk, maybe another 20 yards back, the land drops down to a shady riverbed. The greenness of its riverbank oak is matched only by the few puddly remnants of last month’s creek. Beyond the river lie the hills, a surreal assortment of odd rock formations, twisted paths and treacherous midget cliffs where some of Hollywood’s earliest and finest were ambushed — Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassidy, the Cisco Kid.
The stench of horse manure is everywhere at the Spahn ranch, mainly because the horse manure itself is everywhere — on the dirt of the parking area, on the paths, on the grass, on your shoes. The rugged young members of Charlie’s family, of course, have no shoes, nor do they have a sense of stench.
For some reason they seem to have this thing about horseshit. They love to run through it in their bare feet, especially in the corrals at the east end of the ranch where the stuff covers the ground several inches deep — a warm, steaming, wall-to-wall carpet of horseshit.
Shoveling horseshit is one of the few chores the family really gets into in an organised way, shovelling horseshit and searching for garbage. They’ve shoveled it in Malibu, in Topanga Canyon, and at the ranch, sometimes working in shifts to pay the rent. And at the ranch, you know where they dump it? That shady green creekbed behind the saloon.
Not exactly the magic of Hollywood, but there is a kind of magic here nonetheless — a sense of intimacy with the universe. Lazy afternoon cosmic buzz. Motion slowed to the beat of natural change. Kevin and Marc sleeping on an understuffed Thirties sofa, posting guard outside the hollow fake jail with its bars of wood.
Actually, there are a couple of celebrity types still kicking ’round these parts, come to think of it. Show people, you know. There’s Pearl, George Spahn’s sweetheart, she used to be in the circus.
And there’s old Randy Starr, Hollywood stuntman and friend of the famous, he lives here. Right now he’s getting himself together, sorting out gear in the back of his black Cadillac. You can tell he’s been around. His name is printed in gold on the outside of the car.
“I’m goin’ on location, see,” he drawls. “Got this movie coming up, Reverse of the Magnificent Seven. See, these guys take over the town … Then I come along, I’m the lead heavy. They always get me to play the heavy.”
And you can see why — the thin moustache, a face creased and pitted from a lifetime of biting dust. In person, though, his grisly features, his huge nose and sad eyes give him a friendly, even humorous look. He resembles an elderly Ringo when he grins.
“But in the end, see, I wipe out nine of ’em before they get me,” he says with outlaw pride.
Randy straps on his chaps, branded with images of guns and horseshoes, and ties down his reinforced steel holster “that all them quick-draw guys use.” From his briefcase he pulls a newspaper clipping, “Rodeo Rider to Appear at Fete,” an old monster magazine showing Randy pursued by an amorphous blob called the Creeping Terror, and some snapshots.
“Here’s a picher of me when I was really ripped,” he recalls wistfully. “That was my birthday last year. Boy, was I ever in my reincarnation then. Whew, I’m telling you!”
Randy has been in about a hundred rodeos. One of his favorite acts is hanging himself, actually jumping off a platform and hanging himself with a rope around his neck. He says it’s a real crowd pleaser, especially since he doesn’t use a protective harness or any of that other sissy stuff.
Then there’s the neck drag act. Randy calls it the Death Drag. It’s like the hanging act only instead of jumping off a platform, he ties the other end of the rope to a horse and lets it drag him around the ground for a spell. “Just plain stupidity, I keep doin’ it,” he admits with a sheepish drawl.
“I played a rock and roll star one time in this nudie cutie movie called The Invisible Man. I take this tab of acid, see, and they show me gettin’ on this aeroplane. I get up in this plane, and they get shots of me makin’ it with these girls, havin’ an orgy, kind of. Then the plane crashes and I get reincarnated into this gardener in a girls’ college.
“And these girls, see, they sit around chantin’, tryin’ to bring me back in my other reincarnation as a rock star. They’re chantin’, and at the end, this picture of me comes on and I’m gone.”
Clem Tufts lopes over to offer an alternative ending: “You coulda been the sun and like exploded into a thousand trillion billion pieces, KA-POW!” Clem falls about, miming the primal void collecting itself, “like a zillion tiny molecules, man, swirling about in space. And they you could’ve like come together, like all these atoms in a spiral, and then…you could’ve become the sun again,” and he crashes blissfully into the fin of the Cadillac like an off-course binary star.
Nearby, the horses, of which there are dozens and dozens — two corrals full — take in the scene, digest it without reaction. A silent order of stoic witnesses, they have seen everything that has happened at the ranch for years. All the answers to all the terrible rumors and questions about this place, all the missing pieces, they have seen first hand.
Do they understand? What must they think of this strange family of children that moved in on them two years ago? What must they think of Clem, the midnight dancer, the grinning blond boy with infantile eyes who spends his days in endless dry fucking — clutching the simply clothed hips of ever-ready sisters — and his nights in solo flights, prancing under the moonlight and hooting his animal songs? Clem claims he can talk to the horses. What has he told them?
The horses are the ranch’s true family; it’s really their ranch. They provide George Spahn’s only source of income. For $3 an hour they carry renting weekend riders over trails that wind through an infinite bill of private Westerns.
But in recent months the horses have noticed a new crop of visitors, day-tripping tourists come to have their pictures taken in front of an old wagon with a sign above it reading SPAHN’S MOVIE RANCH. Postcards of the hanging, a souvenir piece of the Devil’s coat. Is this where that bastard really lived? Are those the kids he’s ruined, hypnotising them into taking marijuana and having premarital sex with him?
Their righteousness gives them courage. Onward, Christian soldiers. They don’t just slow down, they actually stop their cars! Grey-haired, middle-aged couples actually stopping and getting out, grabbing their snapshots with instamatic boldness, then splitting. A new adventure bagged, another conversation piece when the television’s over.
Around a hilltop water tower a mile away, a jeep with a citizens’ band radio slowly circles, checking out another “false alarm.” “This is the choicest cop beat in L.A.,” says Squeaky. “I bet they cast lots for it.”
A bunch of bikers come screaming down the road. “Hoorah for Charlie!” they shout and zoom away.
The sun is starting to set now, robbing things of their color. The green and brown brush-covered hills pale to blue-gray, eventually to black. Because of the hills that surround the ranch, the sun rises later and sets earlier than it does for the rest of Los Angeles. The days are shorter for the family, the time less marked.
In the twilight, the tribe gathers for a council meeting on the steps of one of the shabbier shacks at the ranch, located at the extreme west end, apparently used as makeshift sleeping quarters for temporary hired hands. There is no light inside, the electricity having been disconnected from the ranch long ago, and no plumbing. A broken picket fence leads to an outhouse where an amateur arrangement of pipes that once drained into the river has since stopped up.
Where there used to be a formal front door, a huge sign from a hot dog stand now keeps out the cold evening breezes, which already have started to whip up from the riverbed. The council of elders has assembled, and Gypsy — eldest and earthiest of the women — rises to speak.
“God is all experience, God is love, love is everything and everything is nothing, because it all comes from nothing and goes back to nothing,” intones Gypsy as if it was the text from which tonight’s sermon will be taken.
“The reality is what is happening to this planet. We can close our eyes to it, sleep through it and watch it die. We can play all the games, put on a suit and tie and become part of the lie. Or we can stand off from it and do what is natural and good, as trees do, as fruit does, as the grass does — as animals, not as civilised, machine-made plastic people.
“They try to stop you because you are jeopardising their way of life. Because they depend on the machine, they are machines themselves. And the two can’t live together very long. The machine has just about done in all the plant life, there’s hardly any good clean earth anymore. It’s two strong forces — one is the negative and one is the positive — and they’re destroying each other.”
The words come from Gypsy’s mouth, but it is Charlie who is speaking. The phrases, the ideas, the rhymes, the gestures, are exactly the same, as if Gypsy’s own identity had been erased. Gypsy, also known as Charlie, also known as Squeaky, also known as Clem, also known as Sandy…the frightening list includes them all. A dozen or so little Charlie Mansons are living at that ranch right now! And who knows how many are not living at that ranch?
“Charlie is the only person I’ve ever met who just tells you the truth and doesn’t even understand someone having bad feelings about it,” continues Gypsy. “It’s hard to live with a person who tells the truth all the time. Why? Because lots of time we don’t want to hear the truth.
“Charlie knows the truth because he knows nothing. He knows the power of an empty head.
“Charlie taught us that instead of dying slowly and treacherously — aging — you can speed up the process and do it in your mind. Because you’re right at the point of life and death all the time. Every time you’re totally willing to die, it brings you right back into living. The point of death is rebirth.
“In order to love someone, you have to be willing to die for them. I’d do it. I’d give up my life for you. That’s what Charlie’s doing. He’s giving his life for the whole world!”
The others nod in affirmation. Amen, brothers. For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Charlie. They already know all the words to this sermon. They all know all the words to all the sermons. It’s just Gypsy’s turn tonight. Tell us about the paranoia, Gypsy. Tell us about the rabbits, George. No, no, tell us about the vision, the vision of the desert. Yeah, the desert, and the part about the Beatles.
“In the desert you can forget your mind completely,” begins Gypsy. “When we were in the desert, we learned to sit on rocks all day like coyotes. We got so we reduced all our wants, we found out we could live on very little because we had to.
“The desert is heaven. The rocks are pink and mint green and baby blue. There are cactus pears and cactus apples and berries you can eat, and little leaves rolled up like cigarettes you can smoke, and rivers that run away from the ocean that are always warm, and blind fish that swim there.
“There’s a whole part of Death Valley that’s a pine forest that nobody knows about. Everything hides under its opposite, you know. It’s really paradise, and it’s an old legend, an old dream.
“The desert is the perfect place because no one else wants it. If you go to the forest or into the mountains, someone is going to come along and want what you’ve got. Nobody wants the desert, so that’s the last place they will come.
“We are going to make another pilgrimage. We know we will be the last people. When we see L.A. in flames, then we’ll split for the desert. Everything is there that we need. You know that part in the Bible:
Though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil: for thou art
with me and maketh me to lie
down in green pastures, and
leadeth me beside the still
“There are these old legends among the Indians that when the Spanish came, that’s where Montezuma went, Eldorado. There are Indian tribes that they followed into Death Valley that were never found because they went down to the center of the earth through this passage.
“The lowest part of the earth is in Death Valley. There have been these gigantic explosions there. A whole mountain will fly off and leave this giant hole. The Fault runs right through Death Valley, and in the last time, there will be an earthquake that will open up the earth for all those who love.
“There is this pool in Death Valley which goes down to the center of the earth, where the aware live forever. They sent divers down this pool to find out what it was, and they never came back. Now the government has put a wire fence around it.
“There will be a door of water that will open up for us to enter. You know the Beatles song, ‘Glass Onion’? Well, the glass onion is the door of water, and the ‘hole in the ocean’ is the pool in Death Valley.”
Suddenly a loud shriek interrupts the sermon. Something has just shot out of the shack, hit Marc on the shoulder and bounced a good 10 feet into the darkness. It is a cat. The whole thing happens so fast, in such a cartoon fashion, that the council breaks up for a moment, laughing and shouting a chorus of wows and pshews.
“Wow!” is the way Clem puts it. “A cat! Pshew!” Clem really knows how to tell a story. Meanwhile, what was Gypsy saying about the Beatles?
“The dream can be real when you see it, and when you live it. And that’s what the Beatles are singing about. They’re singing it’s all a dream, life passes by on a screen. They’re singing it, but they’re still asleep singing it. They haven’t woken up to the fact that what they’re singing about is more than a song. They could be living it.
“They have the power — and this is directed to them — if they would realize how much they’re the ones, then just the point of their finger could send 144,000 people back to the desert. They could point to Charlie and say, ‘This is the man who’s saying what we’re saying. Let’s all get together on it.’
“They had the power to make everyone love each other. When Sgt. Pepper came out there was so much love — everyone in the street and in the parks loving and hugging each other. There was no end to it.
“Then all of a sudden people stopped taking acid. Everyone went back to the plastic city, went back to their jobs, went back to their wives. Their egos got fat again. We were the only people who stuck with it.
“‘Give up everything and follow me,’ Christ said, and we have given up a lot to follow our dream. There are other communes, but everyone has their old lady and their old man. It’s just the same old song in different costumes.
“There are no couples here. We are all just one woman and one man. ‘All you need is love.’ We were the only ones gullible enough to take the Beatles seriously. We were the only people stupid enough to believe every word of it.”
When Gypsy says stupid, she means it in the family’s positive way, like empty-headed or mindless or innocent.
Or does she? It’s possible at times to detect faintly a darker wisdom about her, a sort of motherly cynicism; as if she, more than any of the others, understands the terrible thought that must be growing daily at the ranch — that the chances of ever being with Charlie again are not very good at all.
“What can I say to the damn Beatles?” asks Gypsy, slightly exasperated. “Just get in touch, man. This is their trial. And all the things they’ve been hearing — there’s something happening here; they should see it by now. It’s hard to see through the negative, but just tell them to call. Give them our number.
“It’s not that there’s anything to say except hello to your brother, and how are we going to get this thing together? Because it’s coming down fast. Don’t let it break you.”
During these last few words of Gypsy’s, everyone for some reason starts leaving the steps, quickly jumping off and standing at the side in mock formation. What is going on?
Someone — Marc or Clem — sings a fanfare, “Dum da DAH,” and announces:
“The king is coming!”
The king? Where? Everyone is staring at the shack. Has somebody been in there all this time? Listening? One of the hands?
It gets weirder. Now the hot dog sign starts to move, to open, revealing a vague outline in the dim candlelight from inside. What is that, a stick? Yes, a stick, followed by a hand, followed by the bent-over body of a man — an ancient man — wearing a suit, tie, stetson, gloves and large dark glasses.
Squeaky runs up the stairs, grabs his arm and chides gently, “Is Pearl still pickin’ on ya, George?”
This is George Spahn. Blind George Spahn, 83 years old and dressed like a cowboy stud. And this shack, this pathetic excuse for a bunkhouse, is where he’s lived in darkness all these years.
George doesn’t reply to Squeaky, he doesn’t say anything. No one does. Pearl is there, she takes his other arm; and together the three of them prepare to descend the palace steps.
The trip takes ages — he is so old and uncertain, like a palsied Lazarus not sure the miracle was such a hot idea. He takes the steps one at a time, testing each one first with his stick, then his left foot, his right foot, the next step, his stick, his left foot, his right foot, the next step.
And all this time no one says a word. The kids stare back and forth at eachother and grin, half in respect, half in mockery. One almost expects a legendary child to dart from the gathering and yell, “Look, mom, he’s naked, he’s not wearing any clothes!”
When they reach the bottom of the stairs, Squeaky says goodbye, and George and Pearl trudge on to their station wagon and dinner at some Chatsworth coffee shop.
It’s dinner time for the family, too. they all pile into the red and white trailer near the road and sit in a huddle at one end. The area is about seven feet square and serves as living room, dining room, bedroom and playpen for “the elf.”
The elf is Sandy Good’s baby, Ivan. To the family, all babies are elves. They are considered the true leaders, little gods. Their actions are sacred.
Clem will sit for hours with Ivan, flopping his head from side to side, imitating his sounds, falling on the ground and screaming when he screams, crawling, sucking bottles.
“I have an oral fixation,” says Clem as he jerks off an empty coke bottle. He even gets behind Ivan’s strained peaches.
One of Clem’s favorite tricks with Ivan is holding him by his leg high in the air, dropping him and catching him again by the leg when his face reaches an inch above the ground. “Sometimes his legs get funny and stiff and he can’t move them,” Sandy explains. “But we just shake him out by the feet, and in a few days he’s OK again.”
All the other babies have been taken away. Sadie’s kid, Zo Ze Se C Zadfrack, is in Juvenile Hall. The others were confiscated by parents, often with the help of the District Attorney. Only Crazylegs Ivan is left to lead them into the promised land, the hole in the ocean.
After everyone finds a comfortable position on the wall-to-wall blanket in the living room — not an easy task in these cramped circumstances — the women bring on the food. The dinner is remarkable. It’s really a feast, a half dozen potfuls of different preparations — steaming hot stews and crisp salads — all made from fresh garbage vegetables, plus various sauces and seasonings. Delicious.
Since there are no tables in the trailer, there’s no point in having plates or silverware. The pots themselves are passed around, with serving spoons, each diner scooping out what he wants for the moment, knowing it will be passed around again. And again. For dessert the girls have baked two giant apple pies.
While eating, the family discusses one of their favorite endless subjects: how fucked up everything is.
“When we were out in the desert,” recalls Marc, “the cops came down and said, ‘Where’s your permit for nudity?’ Wow! Can you dig that? You have to have a permit to take off your fucking clothes.” The anecdote earns much gleeful laughter, even though most of the kids were presumably there when it happened.
“You even have to have a permit to make love,” Marc adds. “That’s what a marriage license is.”
The conversation becomes kind of a show-and-tell indictment of the world. Next up — Brenda, one of the prettiest members of the family.
“You can still get put in jail for sucking someone’s dick,” she informs them with a childish smile. “I was in court the other day, and I wandered into this room, and I didn’t know what was going on. Everyone was looking horrified, and there was this girl on the witness stand saying, ‘I don’t know how to say it … It was awful. He made me get down and…’ and she starts crying.
“It turned out that this guy had asked her for a blow job. Shit, you’d think she’d been made to swallow poison. Everyone in the court was making noises — ‘shocking, disgusting,’ etc. And it’s all about sucking someone’s dick, for Christ’s sake.”
Now it’s Clem’s turn. Clem really is on his own trip, or at least, he’s much further advanced than the others.
“I was in jail with a bunch of Panthers,” he says, “and they’d tell me it was coming down. They had this chant, ‘Look out, whitey, we’re coming to get you.’
“They have this plan, and they will take over because the white man’s karma is almost used up. If you read Revelations, Chapter 9, it’s there. They are going to open up the bottomless pit, and the only people that will escape are the people that go to the desert. There won’t be very many who make it — 144,000, that’s all.”
So far it’s the same story that all the kids in the family tell at one time or another. But now it gets to be pure Clem.
“The Beatles know about it,” he continues. “At the end of Revolution 9 there’s that shout, ‘Block that kick! Block that dick!”
Block that dick? Is that what he said? Block that dick?
“Yeah, you know, near the end, ‘Block that kick! Block that dick!'”
Somewhere in the mind’s arena a crowd goes wild. The score is tied, the clock is running out. The goalie for the Tottenham Hotspurs has performed beautifully today against this visiting team of cunning Africans, but the tension mounts. Suddenly…Mother of God!…it can’t be…a giant black phallus mushrooms out of center field…intercepts the ball…bounds toward the vaginal goal. The crowd, like a million screaming banshees, cries out, “Block that dick! Block that dick! Block that dick!”
But Clem has his own bizarre vision, and he’s not joking.
“There are a lot of black men who want to put their pricks in white women,” he continues. “For hundreds of years the white man has been saying, ‘Don’t touch my woman!’ That’s like saying, ‘You want her, don’t you?’ And so the black man finally believed it and now he’s going to get it.”
“So you have to preserve the species, you can’t mix everything up. It’s like robins mate with robins. How would you like everything in the world to be gray? That’s what would happen if every species mated with every other species. Just a gray glob.
“If God had planned it that way, he would have made us gray to begin with.”
The strangest thing about Clem’s vision is that everyone else in the trailer agrees with it, nodding affirmatively throughout. That realisation brings with it a vaguely unhealthy feeling, the sense that a final barrier has fallen. One can now believe almost anything about this family. Not exactly a comforting supper-time thought.
After the evening meal, the family usually gathers under Charlie’s picture on the living room wall, singing his music and feeling the good love energy that flows between them. At least that’s what they tell us.
But there’s something different on tonight’s agenda. A young man in a starched white shirt arrives, calling himself a TV producer. Apparently he has met Gypsy and Marc before, and they introduce him to the group.
“We’re doing this hour-long TV special for ABC,” Gypsy announces after demanding everyone’s attention. “It’s just going to blow everybody’s mind. It’ll be just us — singing, eating, being together.”
The family mulls this over for a moment, then Sandy asks:
“How much are we getting for it?”
“$50,000 — minimum!” brags Marc.
“Only $50,000?” she asks.
“That’s just the minimum, you understand. That’s the least we’ll get.”
Sandy’s newborn business sense makes her suspicious. “Is it signed? Do we know we are getting that money?”
“Well, no,” interrupts the producer, choosing his words slowly. “We haven’t actually signed the contracts…but it’s pretty much of a sure thing.”
“It works this way,” Gypsy explains. “He gets 50% and we get 50%. Now that’s fair. After all, we are using all his equipment.”
Clem begins to calculate. “So you mean…we would get $25,000 of that?”
“Minimum!” says Marc.
More calculating by Clem. “Wow!” he says. “That means we could each get a dune buggy! We could get like ten of them!”
“Yeah! And we’ll get them built to Bruce’s design,” adds Gypsy, “when he gets out of jail.”
Right! Everyone lies back and savours the tasty picture. This is going to be an Apocalypse to end all Apocalypses, if you can dig that! Los Angeles in flames — cops and judges and mums and dads all turning into bacon — and each of us in our own, shiny, brand fucking new dune buggy, tooling out to Death Valley to save the white race. Far out!
What is it about these kids? For the first time in hours, maybe months, they’ve suddenly come alive, become enthused as a group. The talk of money and material goods has somehow struck a nerve. A passion or two has been stirred. Is this their true love energy? Whatever it is, it keeps building.
After the producer leaves, Gypsy asks to hear the tape of an interview we did with her earlier in the day. Actually, we have no choice, since she took the cassette and has refused to give it back until she censored it. That in itself seemed a little incongruous at the time.
She says she wants to hear it back to “make sure the world is ready” for what was being laid down. And, well, there were a few lines that could be misinterpreted, you know, like that phrase “all the people we’ve tortured, all the people we’ve killed.” That refers to the whole of Western civilisation, not just a personal trip. Except that it is that, too, if you understand, because we’re all one and you are me and I am you. But it could be misinterpreted.
Earlier, when Sandy first heard about the tape, there had been some hesitation in her head. A whole hour of Gypsy rapping? Who wants to listen to that? Why don’t we all just write something instead, and you can pay for it?
As a matter of fact, the interview wasn’t that valuable; Charlie had already said most of it. The whole matter is so petty — petty theft versus petty jealousy.
Anyway, the tape starts and Sandy strides coldly into the main bedroom at the other end of the trailer. But she keeps the door open.
Gypsy listens to her own words, digging herself completely. She is her best audience, laughing at some remarks, agreeing vehemently with others, never losing a look of awe at the mystery of the woman she is hearing.
Finally Sandy can stand it no longer. She storms in, points to the machine and declares, “That tape is not going out of here!”
The family stares up at Sandy, not knowing what to say. Gypsy shuts off the machine. “Why not?” she asks.
“I don’t have to tell you why. That tape is staying here and that’s that! It’s not leaving here because we don’t want it to.”
Dig that? We don’t want it to, and she’s not even on the tape.
“Sandy, where’s your head at tonight?” Gypsy snaps. “You know, you’ve still got a lot of your mother in you.”
“Look, it’s quite simple,” says Sandy. “If we give away all our stories in interviews, we are going to have nothing to put in our book. I thought we were going to put it all down and get a publisher to give us a big chance. This is just like pouring all our good material down the drain.
“Anyway, what do we need Rolling Stone for when we’re going to do this TV special for ABC and we’ll reach maybe 20 million people?”
Now the whole family joins in, throwing all her inconsistencies and shortsightedness back at her. The tape doesn’t belong to her, they say. You couldn’t possibly make a book from the scant material it contains. Charlie himself agreed to a two-hour interview — the longest one yet — and asked nothing. What about this idea of giving? Of keeping nothing?
To which Sandy’s answer is as simple as it is final: “Look, I don’t have to argue about this. I know. And when you know, you know.” And she stomps back into the bedroom.
Wow, man, a supreme bummer. The party’s over. Everyone gets up to go outside. There’s a fantastic full moon out there, in case anyone wants to go bareback riding. Clem leads the way with dancing feet.
As the family files out, Sandy with great care places a manuscript on the center of her bed and lies down beside it. Slowly she reads each page silently to herself, almost secretly. It is a letter from Charlie.
He gave it to her that morning when she visited him in jail. He told her to take it to the Los Angeles Free Press where they would print it for all his followers to read. Next week he would have another one, he told her. And another one a week later.
She is pleased that so many readers will now be able to see Charlie’s words, his teachings. What was it Charlie said about words? Something that rhymes, she recalls, something about nail or betrayal or something. Oh, but that was about Jesus, anyway.
When people read Charlie’s words, things will start to change, she thinks to herself. The world will start going through some heavy changes, you can count on that. And even if the Free Press won’t pay any money, the letters should help sell a few records. It’s all to the good.
Tomorrow the letter will become public; Sandy will take it over first thing in the morning. But tonight, she realizes, Charlie’s own words and his own handwriting belong exclusively to her.
She finishes the last page, closes the manuscript, and starts reading the first page again. Only this time she grabs a pencil and starts boldly marking up the page here and there with words of her own.
“I’ve got to put it in better English,” she tells Brenda in the kitchen. “Charlie’s spelling is terrible and he doesn’t know how to write properly at all. But we’ll fix it up.”
This story is from the June, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.