Friday, April 28, 2017

Tour 2017: Slipping in the Mix with Steve Grogan

On our first day we dropped in on Steve Grogan. He was performing in Oakland at a terrific vegan restaurant with a band headed by the very talented and gregarious Melvin Leonard. The band began with some soothing, smooth jazz numbers. They also covered tunes by artists as diverse as Santana, War and Ernie K-doe. They also played some tunes from their CD. They were terrific!

Below are a couple of videos. Please pardon my shaky hand. Well worth the trouble to watch. Please enjoy.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Murder Cases of the Twentieth Century - Biographies and Bibliographies of 280 Convicted or Accused Killers

So recently I spent a couple of days helping a friend move (I'm that kinda guy). We moved voluminous amounts of books. At one point I'm taking them out of boxes and arranging them on shelves in the new digs. It had been a long day and I was tired. Then, a big fat red hardcover book fell out of my arms and landed on my foot. It hurt. After putting the rest of the books in my arms on the shelves and cussing a little I bent down to punish the culprit. But when I read the title my attention was thusly diverted... Murder Cases of the Twentieth Century - Biographies and Bibliographies of 280 Convicted or Accused Killers, by David K Frazier.

Naturally the titled appealed to my black little heart and I looked at the masthead. It was published in 1996. What I had was an alphabetized, encyclopedic collection of the world's most famous murder cases of the previous 95 years - with bibliographies (hello Ed Sanders...). I thought about the pub date, 1996. That's the year I got into the web business (and out of the book business). To me the internet was the future and physical paper books I believed were reaching the beginning of end of the line. I wondered if Frazier knew what lay ahead of us electronically, would he have done a website instead?

Without hesitation I flipped to the M's. There were about 5 pages devoted to Manson. I found it interesting. Naturally, he sticks to the official Helter-Skelter motive and makes common mistakes like Manson believing that Melcher still lived at Cielo.

Official narratives mean nothing to me anymore. Some of you may remember me saying my wife and I were well acquainted with a man here in NC who later murdered his wife. The trial was big news. Knowing all of the actors and the real story I was blown away by the news coverage and especially by the national piece later broadcast on Dateline NBC. The things they left out were more astounding than the things they focused on. I've never trusted media accounts since.

I'd be interested to know what else in this narrative jumps out at Manson scholars.

Here's that section of the book. I OCR'd it for those who might have trouble reading the scans. For comparison the very end of this post is the book's attention devoted to Charles Watson (you know, the guy who actually killed 7 or 8 people).

Manson, Charles Males (a.k.a. "No Name Maddox," "Jesus Christ," "God," "The Devil," "Soul," "Charles Willis Manson") Born November 12, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Car thief, cult leader. Los Angeles, California; 9 murders (possible involvement in as many as 40); bludgeon, gun, knife; July—August 1969.

Film: Manson (US, 1972), a 93-minute documentary directed by Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick (Merrick International Pictures). Cast includes Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Charles "Tex" Watson, and Jess Parsons (narrator).

Theatre: Charles Manson, a.k.a. Jesus Christ: A Rock-Musical Tragedy (1972), book by Fabian Jennings and music by Allan Rae, was performed in Toronto, Canada, in 1972 by the Playwrights Co-op. The Manson Family: Helter Five-0 (1990), an avant-garde opera by John Moran, was performed in New York City's Alice Tully Hall on July 17 and 18, 1990. The work was commissioned by Serious Fun!, Lincoln Center's annual avant-garde festival. Released by Point Music (New York) on compact disk in 1992 as The Manson Family: An Opera. Television: "Helter Skelter" (1976), a two-part, four-hour made-for-tele-vision movie based on Bugliosi's book of the same title, originally aired on CBS on April 1 and 2, 1976. Cast includes George DiCenzo (Vincent Bugliosi), Steve Railsback (Charles Manson), Nancy Wolfe (Susan Atkins), Marilyn Burns (Linda Kasabian), Christina Hart (Patricia Kren-winkel), Cathey Paine (Leslie Van Houten), and Bill Durkin (Charles "Tex" Watson).

Video: Sharon Tate, the Victim ... Charles Manson, the Convicted Serial Killer (US, 1990). Doris Tate, the murdered woman's mother, discusses the case in a 50-minute video manufactured and distributed by ATI Mark V Products, Inc.

"I'm willing to get out and kill a whole bunch of people. That's one reason I'm not really too fast on getting out. Because if I got out, I'd feel obligated to get even. It would be an honorable thing."—Manson in an August 1989 interview

Hippie cult leader often viewed as the prototype of the predatory guru (see Jim Jones) whose "Family"-directed murders marked the symbolic end of the 1960s era of innocence and free love. Born "No Name Maddox" to a 16-year-old prostitute in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 12, 1934, Manson never met his father. Taking his surname from a man his mother briefly married, the young child spent his early life shuffled between relatives and foster homes. In 1939 Manson's mother was convicted of armed robbery and during her imprisonment the five year old was sent to live with a strict, religious aunt and her violent husband. To "toughen up" the youngster, the man forced Manson to wear a dress to school on the first day of class. Released from prison after serving five years, Man-son's alcoholic mother reclaimed the boy but soon tired of having him underfoot. Once in a drunken stupor, she reportedly "gave" Manson to a bar-maid in payment for a drink. In 1947 at the age of 12, Manson was placed in the first of many institutions, the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute Indiana. Ten months later he fled making his way on the streets by stealing. In the next several years, Manson received his early instruction in criminal behavior at a variety of institutions, including Father Flanagan's Boy's Town and the reform school at Plainfield Indiana. In his book, Manson in His Own Words, the killer graphically described his hellish three-year stay Plainfield where, if he is to be believes, he was routinely raped and beaten by the other inmates. Escaping from Plainfield in February 1951, Manson was recaptured and spent most of the fifties and sixties in and out of state and federal institutions for crimes ranging from homosexual assault, car theft, forging and cashing stolen U.S. Treasury checks, pimping and transporting prostitutes across state lines.

On March 21, 1967, Manson was paroled from Terminal Island Prison in San Pedro, California, after serving a long term for car theft and pimping at the federal prison McNeil Island in the state of Washington. Prophetically, the 32-year-old Manson realized that the 19 years he had spent behind bars had rendered him ill-equipped to adapt to the outside world and he asked authorities to permit him to remain in jail. They refused and with $35 in his pocket Manson drifted north to San Francisco, then the center of the Hippie movement. Thoroughly schooled in the "jail house con," the charismatic Manson soon realized that there was a place for him in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. A budding musician/ songwriter (Alvin "Creepy" Karpis of the Ma Barker gang had taught him to play guitar in prison), Manson used his music combined with an addled messianic philosophy buttressed with marijuana and mind-altering drugs to attract a coterie of young middle-class white women who had dropped out of society looking for "truth." Manson used his "young loves" to attract to his "Family"-disaffected males who possessed the skills he needed to make his cult self-sufficient; a handiness with weapons and automobile mechanics. With his Family in tow, Manson relocated to the Los Angeles area where lie settled his commune at Spahn Ranch, an old film set and horse ranch in Simi Valley. In exchange for care and sex from Manson's women, George Spahn, the 81-year-old owner, permitted the Family to stay there free. Manson used the ranch as a base from which to sell drugs and to convert stolen cars

At Spahn Ranch, Manson solidified his total control over the 30 or so members of his cult. Feeding them a steady stream of marijuana and LSD, the guru orchestrated sexual orgies designed to rid his followers of any of their "hang-ups." Calling himself "Jesus Christ" and "God," the 5'2" ex-convict preached his version of the upcoming apocalypse which combined his bizarre interpretation of the biblical book of Revelation with the unimagined depths of meaning he found in the Beatles' White Album, more specifically the song "Helter Skelter." According to Manson's paranoid reasoning the coming race war between the blacks and the whites was inevitable. In the ensuing struggle, the blacks would emerge victorious but lack the intelligence to rule the world. At this point, Manson and his followers would emerge from their "Bottom-less Pit," a place of safety in California's Death Valley to which they had fled to avoid the carnage, and take over the planet. Tired of waiting for "Helter Skelter," the day of the Apocalypse, Manson decided to instigate the event by sending out four of his most devoted disciples to kill prominent members of the white Establishment, then plant evidence implicating black revolutionaries. Terry Melcher, the record producer son of Doris Day and then boyfriend of actress Candice Bergen, was selected as a victim because a year earlier he had refused to give Manson a recording contract. At that time, Melcher was living at 10500 Cielo Drive in the West Los Angeles Benedict Canyon area. Unknown to Manson, Melcher had recently sublet the house to Polish film director Roman Polanski and his wife of eight months actress Sharon Tate. The beautiful actress was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and waiting for her husband to return from shooting a film in England. On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson assembled his "hit team" telling its appointed leader Charles "Tex" Watson, a 23-year-old one-time "A" student and high school football star, that "You're going out on the Devil's business tonight" and to "kill everyone inside" the house. Accompanying Watson were 21-year-old topless dancer Susan Atkins (known in the Family as "Sadie Mae Glutz"), Patricia Krenwinkel, the 21-year-old daughter of a middle-class insurance salesman, and Linda Kasabian, the group's drug-addicted 20-year-old driver and look-out who had left her home in the Mid-west to look for God.

Shortly after midnight, Watson and the three women invaded the Cielo Drive home of actress Sharon Tate. First to die was Steven Earl Parent, 18, who was visiting the caretaker who lived in a cottage on the grounds. Watson shot Parent four times at close range with a .22 caliber pistol as the teenager sat in his parked car in the driveway. Entering the house, Watson, accompanied by Atkins and Krenwinkel ultimately herded the occupants into the living room. Visiting the 26-year-old actress that night were Wojiciech (Voytek) Frykowski, a 32-year-old Polish emigre playboy and drug dealer, his lover Abigail (Gibby) Folger, 25-year-old heiress to the Folger's coffee fortune, and Jay Sebring, 35, Tate's former lover and a famous name in the recently invented field of men's hairstyling. In the ensuing carnage Frykowski was stabbed 51 times, shot twice, and pistol whipped with such force by Watson that the handle of his gun broke off. His body was found on the front yard of the estate. Folger was stabbed 28 times with a bayonet by Watson and Atkins before dying near Frykowski. Sebring was shot in the back and stabbed seven times. Last to die was Sharon Tate who, after pleading for the life of her unborn baby, was told by Atkins, "Look bitch ... I don't care if you're going to have a baby ... You're going to die and I don't feel any-thing about it." The group stabbed the actress 16 times. Per Manson's instructions, Watson tossed a rope over an exposed ceiling beam and wrapped the ends around the necks of Tate and Sebring. Atkins, who actually tasted Tate's blood, wanted to cut out the woman's unborn fetus and take it to Manson for ritualistic purposes, but was told by Watson it was time to leave. Before doing so, Atkins daubed a towel in Tate's blood and scrawled the word "PIG" on the front door.

The next night, August 10, Man-son accompanied Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel, Kasabian, and Leslie Sue Van Houten, 19, on a raid in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles 15 miles from the site of the Tate massacre. Alone and armed with a gun, Manson entered the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca at 3301 Waverly Drive. He tied up the 44-year-old supermarket tycoon and his 38-year-old wife assuring them both as he left that they would not be harmed. Returning to the car, Manson ordered Watson, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten to kill the bound pair. When Leno LaBianca was later found, he had been stabbed 26 times and the word "WAR" and several crosses had been carved into his chest. A knife and a fork were found protruding from his body. His wife was strangled with an electric cord and stabbed 41 times. "DEATH TO PIGS" and "RISE" were written on the living room wall in the the victims' blood as was the slogan "HEALTER SKELTER" [sic] found scrawled across the door of the refrigerator. Acting on Manson's instructions, the killers dropped the wallet of one of their victims in a black neighborhood in the hope that someone there would be caught by police using a credit card thereby leading them to believe that the murders were racially motivated. As public pressure mounted to solve the crimes (initially believed not to be linked), Manson had relocated his Family to Barker Ranch on the edge of Death Valley where he was arrested with 22 members of his group in October 1969 on charges of grand theft auto and arson.

The killers were identified as sus-=pects in the Tate-LaBianca murders after Susan Atkins, held at the Sybil Brand Institute as a suspect in the Manson-ordered torture-murder of Malibu music teacher Gary Hinman a few days before the Tate-LaBianca killings, told her cellmates about slaughtering the people on Cielo Drive on "Charlie's" order. She also bragged about Manson's future plans to shake tip the Establishment by murdering well-known celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, and Elizabeth Taylor. At a police press conference in Los Angeles held on December 1, 1969, authorities announced that the Tate-LaBianca case was solved. In a spectacular nine-month trial in which Liinda Kasabian turned state's evidence in exchange for immunity from prosecution, Manson, Atkins, Van Houten, and Krenwinkel were convicted of murder on March 29, 1971, and subsequently sentenced to death. Tried separately, Charles "Tex" Watson received a similar verdict and sentence. Manson and two other Family members were also convicted in the murder of Donald "Shorty" Shea, a would-be actor and hand on the Spahn Ranch. The death sentences, however, were over-turned and commuted to indeterminate life sentences in 1972 after the California Supreme Court invalidated t he existing capital punishment statute. All the principals in the Manson case have been eligible for parole since 1978, but their petitions have been consistently denied due largely to the efforts of Sharon Tate's family. Van Houten was subsequently retried in 1976 because her attorney, Ronald Hughes, disappeared during the first trial. His remains were found four months later in a mountain wilderness prompting many to speculate that he was killed by Family members because he refused to follow Manson's defense strategies. A second trial for Van Houten ended in a hung jury, but she was finally convicted in 1978. Watson married, fathered two children during prison conjugal visits, served as an assistant Protestant pastor at the California Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo, and currently runs his own prison ministry.

The women convicted in the case have since taken advanced educational degrees and counsel new female inmates.

Manson, still sporting the swastika he carved into his forehead, continues to be a figure of fascination for the media who hungrily hang on his every word. Realistic enough to know that he will never be released from prison, he now only occasionally attends his parole hearings. On September 25, 1984, Manson was hanging about the hobby shop in the California Medical Facility at Vacaville when he argued with fellow-inmate Jan Holmstrom over the man's constant recital of Hare Krishna chants. Holmstrom, a 36-year-old devotee of the sect doing life for the 1974 shotgun murder of his father, doused Manson with paint thinner and tossed a match on him. Manson survived, but was treated for second and third degree burns over his face, scalp, and hands. In 1993, the convicted killer was again thrust into the public spotlight when the enormously popular Los Angeles-based rock band Guns N' Roses featured his song "Look at Your Game, Girl" as the 13th and final cut on their The Spaghetti Incident album. Though the song was not cited on the album's play list, the name "Charlie" appears in the credits and lead singer Axl Rose thanks "Chas" at the end of the song. Depending on record sales, Manson could have earned as much as $62,000 in royalties. How-ever, based on a judgment obtained in 1971 it was ruled that Manson's royal-ties would go to the son of Voytek Frykowski. To deflect public criticism, Axl Rose promised to donate any royalties the band received from the song to an environmental group that helps dolphins. To many, Rose further served to popularize the killer by wearing a tee-shirt bearing Manson's likeness while performing. Manson's image has been officially licensed by Zooport Riot Gear, a surf-wear company based in Newport Beach, California, which pays him 10' a shirt. Writers on the case have since speculated that Manson was part of a murderous satanic orga-nization which included "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz and also that many of the murders were drug-related "hits."


The Watson Entry:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Charles Manson Has A Granddaughter!

Another one of Charles Manson's grandchildren has surfaced. We were told that Charles Luther Manson, son of Charlie and Leona, had a daughter.  We were able to find her and she was nice enough to share a picture of her father.

This is the only known picture, at least in the Manson arena, of Manson's second son.

Here is a picture of Charlie's granddaughter, we think she looks a little like Jason Freeman.

Friday, April 14, 2017

You just never know...

Last night Autumn, a friend of the blog was at Souley Vegan in Oakland celebrating her birthday when she realized her b-day present was sitting at the next table eating southern fried tofu. Yep, Clem.

After tofu, his band took the stage.

Hard to reconcile this old fella with the neck-bearded kid in the Hendrickson films & DEATH TO PIGS joking about killing his parents. To everyone else in the restaurant he was just another patron/musician, but to Autumn it was Christmas in April. Who would think that he was once Scramblehead, mixed up in the crime of the century and the only member of the Manson Family convicted of murder to win parole?

Just goes to prove that everyone has a story... even the old lady next to you in line at the grocery store - with or without the neck beard...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Charles Manson 1959-1960

1959 was a busy year for Charles Manson, he had been released from federal prison at Terminal Island in September 1958 and was on five years parole.  By November of 1958 he had learned about pimping from his roommate, a Malibu bartender.  According to Bugliosi, (1994 page 198) unknown to Manson he was being watched by the FBI because the FBI was looking for a former roommate of the bartender.  Reports were made to his parole officer about Manson's pimping activities, the parole officer had a talk with him, told him to quit pimping which Manson denied he was doing.  The parole officer felt it was only a matter of time before Manson was in more trouble.

May 1, 1959 Manson was arrested for trying to cash a forged US Treasury check for $37.50 at a grocery store in Los Angeles, he volunteered that he stole the check from the mail, two federal charges. ($37.50 in 1959 would be worth $313.92 in 2017) Manson was turned over to Secret Service agents for questioning.  During the questioning the stolen check disappeared, it was thought that while the Agents had their backs turned Manson ate the check.  However, the charges remained.

Manson's attorney made a deal with the prosecutors to have the mail theft charges dropped if he would plead guilty to the forgery. September 28 1959 Manson went before a judge.  The probation department, a court ordered psychiatrist and the US Attorney's office all recommended prison time but an impassioned plea by Leona Musser aka Candy Stevens swayed the judge to give Manson a suspended 10 year prison sentence with five years probation.  If Manson screwed up during the five years probation he would be sent directly to prison for his full ten year sentence.

Sometime during 1959 Manson had created a company called 3-Star Enterprises, Night Club, Radio and TV Productions with a man named Tony Cassino.  Manson's business card said he was president and Cassino vice president.  This business was operated out of Manson's residence at 6871 Franklin Ave. #306 Hollywood.  The purpose of the business seemed to have been a lure for women that could be turned out for prostitution, it was never a bona fide business only one that existed on business cards.  The apartment where Manson lived and worked out of was less than a block from Rosina Kroner's Franklin Ave. apartment where he would shoot Bernard Crowe 10 years later.

December 1959 saw Manson arrested twice, the first time for taking Leona aka Candy Stevens and another woman across state lines for the purpose of prostitution, from Needles CA to Lordsburg NM.  This was a violation of the Mann Act a federal crime.  Manson was held and questioned but ultimately released.  According to Bugliosi, Manson thought he had beat the rap.  Bugliosi also says that at this point Manson married Leona so that she would not be able to testify against him should the charges resurface.  This does not seem to be true and we will get to that later in the post.

Manson's second arrest that month was December 31 1959 for auto theft and burglary.  The charges were dropped for lack of evidence and law enforcement focused their investigations for those crimes on Manson's then roommate Harold Estel Blevins.

courtesy of

Manson knew things were getting hot and it was only a matter of time before some of the things he had been charged with would catch up with him.  In fact authorities were building a case for the Mann Act charges.

April 27 of 1960 a bench warrant was issued for Manson because a Federal Grand Jury had indicted him on the Mann Act charges.  Manson was no where to be found.

June 1 1960 found Charles Manson being escorted from Mexico to the US Marshal's at the border in Laredo Texas.  He was being kicked out of Mexico for being an "undesirable alien".  He was held for the Mann Act charges awaiting transfer back to California.

Once Manson was extradited to California and placed in federal custody the forged US Treasury check eventually came back to bite him.  On July 14 1960 the indictment for the Mann Act charge, also known as the White Slave Traffic Act (WSTA), was dismissed according to Manson's rap sheet.  On July 21 1960 the forged check reared its ugly head.   Manson knew that he had the 10 years suspended sentence hanging over him and fought the charge, he was able to it hold off for a while but on July 10 1961 he was held to serving his suspended sentence at McNeil Island in Washington state essentially for a probation violation.

Meanwhile, Leona who had been arrested for prostitution, had done some LA County jail time in 1959 and had testified to the Federal Grand Jury April 1960 in Los Angeles regarding the prostitution across state lines had cut and run, she went to Colorado where her family was living.  She was pregnant with Charlie's second son Charles Luther  Manson.

Charles Luther was born September 24 1960 in Denver Colorado. 

Charlie had some opinions about Leona, their alleged marriage and even the paternity of their son which he related to Michael Channels in a 2002 letter.

Translation: Leona Manson 1959 had a son Charles Manson Jr. in Denver CO I wondered about him-She is a tricky bitch I called her Wonderwoman  We got a blood test and papers but never got married- She just forged the papers and filed divorce and got custody of my son

I was unable to find a marriage record for Charlie and Leona and there are good records for marriages in California during 1959 and 1960.  Manson might be right about them taking out a marriage license but not using it.  Although he is wrong about the year Charles Luther Manson was born.

It might be that Leona told her parents that she and Manson were married because of the stigma of having a child out of wedlock at that time.  Consider the divorce papers which do not state an exact date for the marriage.  The papers simply say they were married in the Spring of 1959. (section 2 of the first page) There are not too many women that don't remember the date of their marriage.

I also have a little bit on Charles Luther Manson.  According to Social Security Claims Index, Charles Luther changed his name to Jay Charles Warner in 1976.  This gives his date and place of birth as well as his death date.

Let's pause here and reflect.  How is it possible that both Rosalie and Leona changed the names of their sons from Charles Manson to Jay?  Also, both of the Jay's died in Colorado.  oo--ee--oo

Here is a record of a traffic ticket that was issued to Jay Warner that gives his physical description.  He was relatively tall considering the height of his supposed father and he had blond hair and blue eyes.  Leona was fairly short, too, going by her yearbook pictures in group shots.

Manson served his 10 years, less time off for good behavior and was given a mandatory release March 21 1967.  A mandatory release differs from a release granted by a parole board hearing.  The terms of parole are less stringent and the time on parole after the release is limited to the time the prisoner would have served had he done the entire 10 years of the sentence in prison.  In Manson's case he was taken into custody June 1 1960 by the US Marshal's in Laredo Texas, starting the clock.  His time on parole would have been finished by June 1 1970.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Letter from Joanne to Sandy Good

One of the main tasks I set myself during the writing of "Coming Down Fast", was to determine any possible connection Joel Pugh may have had with the Manson collective prior to his death in London on December 1st 1969. Of particular interest, I wanted to get to the root of the letter that contained the ominous passage, "I would not want to happen to Joel happen to me" (sic). First reported in Vincent Bugliosi's "Helter Skelter", the extract gave the impression that Joel's death was suspicious, and in some way connected to the sensational "murder" toll attributed to members of the Family.

Ultimately, Bugliosi's brief and pat summary of Joel's death stripped him of any personality, rendering him as nothing more than an anonymous "victim". This set me a task in building a personality around Joel, something I felt was vital to assemble some sort of reality.

To be honest, I never thought that despite my well-honed research skills I would be able to find the letter that kick-started the investigation into the circumstances of Joel's death. Remarkably, following a long trail of tip-offs, emails and phone calls, I was led to a library where a file of paperwork left by a detective had been archived. Within the reams of reports and other pieces of ephemera was the letter that ultimately fell on Bugliosi's desk which in turn, went on to imprint Joel's name in the Manson phenomena.

It didn't take more than one read of the letter from Joanne to Sandy Good to see how detectives had twisted an otherwise innocuous part of the letter to turn it into a possible link to a Manson related "murder" - the echoes of which have rattled on over the years. As you will read, the letter's most contentious line was (a) rewritten and (b) taken wholly out of context, allowing spectacular conclusions to be hastily drawn. As I am at pains to point out to fellow students of the case, despite activity at the highest level of officialdom, no attempt was made to contact the Pugh family to check on Joel's mental health status at the time of his death. Indeed, the first they would read of the investigation by police was in "Helter Skelter" in 1974.

This is the full letter from Joanne to Sandy Good.

Monday, March 27, 2017

What became of the "Hare Krishna" who burned Manson?

Some of you might recall these tabloid photos from 1994 when Manson was doused with lighter fluid and set ablaze:

We were curious as to what became of him:

Man Ruled Insane In Temple Stabbing

Thaai Walker, Chronicle Staff Writer Published 4:00 am, Saturday, December 2, 1995

Jan Holmstrom sat in a Hall of Justice courtroom yesterday in shackles the sheriff's department reserves for those considered too volatile for simple manacles.

A thick chain ran around his waist, connected to two handcuffs that bound his hands together in front of him, then looped down his body to his feet, cinching them so that the 47-year-old man could only walk in small, shuffling steps.

But Holmstrom was not the image of the raving paranoid schizophrenic that those who know him claim he can be. Having received psychiatric treatment while in jail, he sat calm and composed and listened intently as Superior Court Judge Lenard Louie pronounced that Holmstrom was not guilty by reason of insanity for the stabbing of a man inside a Cole Valley Hare Krishna temple in November 1994 -- an act Holmstrom has said he did for his God.

For a man whose life has been marked by violent acts committed against himself and others, including the shotgun slaying of his father in Pasadena over 20 years ago, the judge's finding was the most humane decision that could have been made, Holmstrom's lawyer said.

The ruling, which Louie based on the recommendations of three psychiatrists, means that Holmstrom will not be sent to prison for his crime. Instead, he will go to a high security mental facility that Holmstrom's lawyer hopes will provide him with extensive psychiatric care.

"We would not be where we are now, if Mr. Holmstrom had gotten the proper treatment the first time he got violent," said his defense lawyer Sheila O'Gara. "The mentally ill fall through the cracks. They don't belong is the criminal justice system, but there is no other system to put them in. The government has shirked its responsibility."

While Holmstrom was awaiting trial on the charges of assault with a deadly weapon and burglary for the Nov. 26, 1994 attack at the Hare Krishna temple, O'Gara and prosecutor George Beckwith came to agree that state prison was not the right place for Holmstrom.

Holmstrom was not given proper psychiatric care or medication for his illness, when he was serving time for the 1974 slaying of his father, O'Gara said. In prison, he sent death threats to family members and attacked guards and prisoners -- including fellow inmate, cult leader Charles Manson, whom he set on fire.

If the 1994 case had gone to a jury trial and Holmstrom had been convicted on the charges, the outcome would be the same as his earlier trip through the justice system, O'Gara said. He would be sent to prison, receive no psychiatric care, later be paroled and, without supervision, probably become violent again, she said.

Under Louie's ruling yesterday, however, Holmstrom can be incarcerated for as many as 25 years. His release will depend on the opinion of psychiatrists who will evaluate him periodically.

"Whatever sins were committed by Jan Holmstrom he has suffered like the damned. It is the curse of mental illness," O'Gara said. "Because he is medicated now, he is aware and living in a state of remorse. But every day he has to live inside his own head. Every day he has to live with Jan Holmstrom."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ed Sanders, Author Of Manson Family Biography, To Sell Massive Archive

August 28, 2016 8:57 AM ET
Heard on Weekend Edition Sunday
by John Kalish

Sanders wrote the definitive book on the Manson Family ("The Family.") He's currently working on a book about Robert Kennedy. He's decided to sell the assembled work on which he's based his research.



Ed Sanders is a kind of godfather scholar of the 1960s counterculture. He wrote the definitive book on the Manson family. He co-founded the rock band The Fugs. And his latest project is a book about Robert Kennedy. Now he's selling the massive archive of files he built over half a century to tell his stories. Jon Kalish visited Sanders at home in Woodstock, N.Y., and reports that the 76-year-old poet, musician and scholar has decided it's time to start thinking about retirement.

JON KALISH, BYLINE: Ed Sanders' archive fills 400 banker's boxes.

ED SANDERS: I have files on many things. I'm a compulsive filemaker.

KALISH: He could pass for a college professor with his bushy mustache and tweed jacket, sporting a button for Bernie Sanders - no relation.

SANDERS: This is a garage, which is packed floor to ceiling with my chronological archives.

KALISH: He's got them organized by date and subject, all carefully catalogued in a 200-page single-spaced directory. Attached to the garage is a small building that used to be his writing studio until it, too, filled up with boxes. Sanders opens one of them and pulls out a record of him performing a poem.


UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing) They were the Yiddish-speaking socialists of the Lower East Side.

SANDERS: You could send one of these to Bernie Sanders.


UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing) La, la, la, la, la, la, la...

KALISH: Three sheds on his property hold even more. None of them are climate controlled. One of the sheds contains 18 boxes filled with files, photographs and memorabilia Sanders accumulated while researching the Manson family.

SANDERS: Files and files and files and files.

KALISH: Manhattan publisher Steve Clay is handling the sale of Sanders' archive.

STEVE CLAY: I see Ed's archive as one of the great '60s archives out there. I love this one. This is a flyer. Protest against the rudeness, brusqueness, crudeness and violence of narcotics agents, a benefit featuring underground movies plus The Fugs

KALISH: The Fugs were Sanders' long-running band, and he's got their recordings archived too.


THE FUGS: (Singing) Well, I ride the left wing airlines, stirring up trouble at night, secret signs and secret deeds, I'm just a yodeling yippie.

KALISH: The band got its start playing at concerts and protests throughout the 1960s. That's also when he ran the Peace Eye Bookstore and became involved in First Amendment battles over obscenity.

KEN LOPEZ: Ed Sanders in particular was kind of right in the middle of a lot of that.

KALISH: Ken Lopez is a dealer who's handled the sales of archives belonging to writers William Burroughs and Robert Stone. He says Sanders' papers cover a crucial period in American history.

LOPEZ: Culturally and historically and literarily, this sheds a lot of light on important changes that were taking place. It definitely would be an archive with great scholarly value.

KALISH: Not to mention monetary. Estimates for the archive range from the low six figures to a million dollars or more. Sitting in his house, Sanders says the archive has become a part of his life.

SANDERS: I like my archive. It's a living thing. It's like a life form. It's like a big mushroom out there.

KALISH: The archive, of course, will stop growing once Ed Sanders sells it, but he's not quite ready to hand over all of his files. He'll hold on to some for a book-length poem about Robert F. Kennedy and for his unfinished multi-volume autobiography. For NPR News, I'm Jon Kalish in New York.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: Love Letters from a Secret Disciple

This book review was contributed by long time reader Jim Hayes:

Love Letters from a Secret Disciple, a psychoanalytical search by Sy Wizinski (Terre Haute: Moonmad Press, 1976)

This is an expensive out of print book. The contents are way out of proportion to the price which ranges from $95 to $250. The cover is a striking color rendition of a Manson drawing from the trial. It goes downhill from there. Perhaps the subtitle "a psychoanalytical search" is the tipoff that pages of turgid, highly speculative drivel is going to follow. This guy is an English professor? What, English as a second language?

The authors name is Saul Rosenthal and he was an assistant professor of English at Indiana State in Terre Haute during the 70's. He used the pseudonym Sy Wizinski 1.  It seems that he's alive as I cannot find an obituary and his web trace is very slight. He has two horrible poems in the Indiana English Journal 2 : "Lost in the fantasy of permanence, Oblivious to the dominions of decay, How can they know the daily grace of miracles"... yeah. Okay. All right. Furthermore, online I found an inscribed copy reading "from Saul Rosenthal" so I feel secure in identifying the true name of the author. 3

Rosenthal knew a woman who started corresponding with Manson in 1969 at age 13. In 1975 after Ms. Fromme attempted to assassinate President Ford; the FBI showed up and grabbed all the letters as "evidence". The woman he calls Beatrice managed to keep some back and this book reprints their transcripts. There's nothing really spectacular here; the usual cryptic Manson missives about God, love and saving the planet. One hard piece of information is that Manson asks "Beatrice" to write his friends Steve Grogan, Larry Jones and Bob Beausoleil in December of 74. Furthermore from a letter of March 75, Manson gives each of the Family a name as an occult flash point.

This seems to be the "Suckatash Sister" reference from Sanders and it reads more astrological and elemental than he reveals. 4 "Lyn 3 Red as Scarlet Mars iron amethyst Aries Q of red Sandie 4 Blue Saturn onyx Capricorn Queen of Sky Blue Sue 5 Mercury jasper Virgo Q of Violet Katy 6 yellow Venus Diamond Libra Babas 5 light 7 Queen of light…" (p.113)

Ironically, the items he used to pad the book are now its main value. He includes an interview from the LA Free Press with a sympathetic writer just before the trial that details Manson's confinement. 6 Next is an unrevealing telephone interview with another underground LA magazine "Tuesday's Child". 7 This resulted in Manson getting his phone privileges revoked.

What really should be revoked is the long, confusing opening essay to Manson's off reprinted final court statement. Good lord! Wizinsky starts by quoting the English Catholic cardinal and theologian John Henry Newman (1811-1890) and meanders onto Sacco & Vanzetti, James Thurber (?), climaxing with a panegyric about Ralph Nader!  Wizinsky should be on trial for his wandering metaphors and touchstones that attempt to bring the Manson case (and Wizinsky's "spectacular" insights) towards the status of universal myth. John Henry Newman's autobiography can be compared to Manson's soliloquy? Really?

Historically, the most important letter is printed next. It's an unsigned "Pro-Family" letter from the LA Press which served as an introduction to Manson's famous letter to Leary. 8

"Brothers and sisters", it reads, explaining that Manson's words have been shut out of the media dialogue even amongst the "underground" press. The letter goes on about the "machine" of society: the media industrial prison complex. 9 It links up Manson to the wave of activism then flourishing in "San Quentin, Soledad, LA County Jail and Sybil Brand".  What's interesting is the context of comparing The Family to other autonomous anti-establishment tribes such as the Weathermen, Mel Lyman's Fort Hill Community and the Black Panthers. 10 Of course Manson's letter to Leary was prompted by Leary's Weathermen assisted prison breakout and the subsequent "kill a robot policeman" statement. Whether you see any affinity between the forces of the militant left and The Family you can be sure that the authorities did. This was emphasized in the security for the trial and the prisoner transfers.11

Finally, he reprints a sad interview with Manson's mother just before the verdict. She mentions wishing that Manson got some psychiatric help. It's really poignant actually. 12

The author ends with an "open letter to Charles Manson" that is just off the charts in terms of bizarro-land commentary. His use of fifty cent words and convoluted thinking show not only his ego but his lack of understanding of the subject. How Manson could understand this tortured logic peppered with polysyllables and far-fetched literary references is inconceivable. Between the fully orgasmic prose and the copyright issues; it's no surprise this book was never reprinted.

Luckily, Lynette Fromme gets the last word in via a photocopied letter: "we live in a very magic world…everyone does…but not everyone knows it!"

1 Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1976: July-December
2 volume 9 number 4 Summer 1975
3 I found this on Princeton but the listing is now gone! 
4 The Family, Sanders, Ed. (NY Thunder's Mouth: 2002) p. 482
5 I'm not sure who Babas is.
6 LA Free Press: "First Interview with Charles Manson in Jail"; 30 Jan 70. Michael Hannon.
7 Tuesday's Child: interview 1970. Steve Alexander.
8 LA Free Press: 9 Oct 70.
9 My own words which I hope convey the drift.
10 The author drags in the SLA as well.
11 At the time the authorities didn't realize the Kenneth Como connection or at least didn't prepare.
12 LA Times 26 Jan 71 "Manson's Mother Talks of his Early Life" by Dave Smith.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ten TLB "What Ifs?"

Parallel Universes

I generally don't indulge in "what if?" scenarios, preferring much more to live in a world of "what is”— if I can. But occasionally I wonder how the whole TLB/"Manson Family" experience would have played out if certain things had happened differently. For examples:

1.  What if Winifred Chapman had decided to spend the night of August 8-9, 1969 at 10500 Cielo Drive? Would her murder -- that of a black woman --  have thrown a clog into any "Helter Skelter" scenario?

2.  What if the Kotts' party had broken up an hour or so later and the departing guests had encountered Charles "Tex" Watson cutting the phone lines into 10050 Cielo Drive or the bloodstained killers exiting the property after they committed the murders there?

3.  What if Rudolf Weber had been a little more proactive and had gone to the police with his recollection (including license number of vehicle) of a suspicious group of young people using his hose on the night and in close proximity of a mass murder? (Weber's home was almost two miles from Cielo Drive but it was off the same main road -- Benedict Canyon Drive -- that any hypothetical killers would have likely used coming and going from the crime.)

4.  What if the "members" of "the Family" had scattered with the four winds after their departure from Spahn's Movie Ranch in September of 1969 instead of sticking together and being arrested en masse at Barker Ranch in mid-October? Would the concept of a fanatical group of murderous hippies been a harder sell to the public and a jury?

5.  What if Susan Atkins had not confessed her role in the Tate-LaBianca murders to her fellow inmates at Sybil Brand? In what other ways could/would the case have been solved?

6.  What if Susan Atkins had not repudiated her grand jury testimony and gone on to testify for the prosecution during the murder trial? Would the more "innocent" Linda Kasabian have been convicted of murder?

7.  What if Charles "Tex" Watson had been extradited to California in time to be tried along with Charles Manson and the three girls? Would that have changed the whole "Manson as demonic puppeteer" theme?

8.  What if Charles Manson had been allowed to defend himself during his murder trials? How do you think he would have handled witnesses like Linda Kasabian and Paul Watkins?

9.  What if Manson (or any of his codefendants) had demanded a separate trial? Could any of them have gotten a better deal for themselves if they had pursued their defenses individually and self-centeredly, with only their own welfare as their primary concern?

10.  What if the California Supreme Court had not abolished the death penalty in1972 and the convicted killers had been executed shortly after the conclusions of their trials? Would public fascination in the case be less than it is today because the players would not have been as much of an ongoing part of the American consciousness as they have been for all these decades?