Friday, May 16, 2014

The nonsensical language that only the Family could understand

 I tend to be drawn to the minutia surrounding the Manson Family. The little things that can be so minute that I figure I'm the only one who gives a shit about them. Here's one...

In John Waters' 2009 piece Leslie Van Houten: A Friendship, I have always been particularly fascinated by part of a paragraph that refers to The Family having their own language:
In late 1971, still free, second-tiered Manson Family members robbed the Western Surplus Store in the suburbs of Los Angeles and stole 14 guns (supposedly to break Manson out of jail) and a shoot-out with the police occurred. All six robbers were arrested. At their trial, many members of Manson royalty, now awaiting the promised Helter Skelter end of the world from death row, were called as witnesses by the robber defendants so they could have a courtroom reunion of sorts. The nervous trial judge called the proceedings "the biggest collection of murderers in Los Angeles County at one time". There were only two court spectators the day I went to a pre-trial hearing; myself and a lower-echelon Manson groupie with a shaved head and a fresh X carved in her forehead who was furiously writing what looked like a thirty-page letter to one of her "brothers". When about fifteen of the Manson Family were brought into court, hand-cuffed and chained together, women on one side and men on the other, many with their heads shaved, the atmosphere was electric with twisted evil beauty. Not having seen each other in about a year, the cultists started chanting, jerkily gesturing, and speaking to one another in a nonsensical language that only the Family could understand.
 Is there anyone out there that has actually heard any of it?

A couple of years ago when we were delving deeper into the Ukiah murders we touched on our discovery that the Anderson Valley has its own language called Boontling.


Is there anyone out there that has actually had exposure to Boontling for longer than the video we posted?

A contingent of The Family spent quite some time up there in 1968 and I'm curious if the "nonsensical language" that Waters mentions had it's roots in their exposure to Boontling. If not, where?





27 comments:

equinox234 said...

Matt,

Can't offer any help on the language, but you will recall that Patricia Krenwinckel (long after incarceration began) was photographed making a gesture with her hand which apparently meant 'loyal to Charlie'. There was also the issue that the Family had markings around the ranch so that if they strayed far, they knew their way back. On the basis of the above, I don't think it's a stretch of the imagination for them to have their own language in order that others would not understand what they were talking about.

btw I wish St Circumstance would return here. I used to come to the site on a 'read only basis' and I liked St C's contributions. I do know there was someone else who was picking on him, but that someone else seems to be lying low at the moment.

Suze said...

That courtroom scene that JW witnessed sounds like something right out of a twisted movie. Don't you all wish that had been caught on film????

Robert Hendrickson said...

You mean like the "communication" system mentioned in "Death to Pigs" ?

SUZE: Wow, IF the government had filmed ALL the trials in ALL the courtrooms, think about ALL the jobs (employment) that could NOW be created to DESTROY all those filmed documents.

Create / destroy, create / destroy, create / destroy - sounds like a great idea for the MILITARY to stimulate the economy. Vietnam, Iraq anyone ?

equinox234 said...

Mr Hendrickson,

The communication system in Death to Pigs? Yes, that's the type of system I was thinking about.

Panamint Patty said...

Boont is a code that a big group of people are in on. Patty and Mr. Patty have a code as do the Mansonblog admins. We as a blogging community have a code, and like Boont, much of it is based on local history. Fascinating stuff.

Barrie said...

No, you aren't thee only one interested in the minutia of the family. We LOVE this stuff. This blog is like an advanced Manson class. I actually check this blog every day.

Matt said...

Very nice of you to say that, Barrie. We appreciate it.


HellzBellz said...

Verry interesting read and stuff in the Waters link. Only one thing,....by reading how he fits Manson in, gives me a ,,HelterSkelter'' ala Buggliosi taste in mouth.... The way he portraits Tex Watson as the best piece of work by Manson. How Manson made this Texas High School atlete,turned into the killing Robot. I think thats far fetched, Watson was the Bad Evil guy from the first place. I dont think that Manson had Nothing to do with the Murders, but I am sure Tex is the Main guy here, and dragged Manson into the story deeper then reality was.

HellzBellz said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SacAtnVccpI The youtube URL is from J.Waters,where they talk about his Film ,Pink Flamingos, When you see at 4:27, there Divine walks the street...passing a wall , and read the Grafity on that wall......

chatsworth charlie said...

Panamint Patty said...
Boont is a code that a big group of people are in on. Patty and Mr. Patty have a code as do the Mansonblog admins. We as a blogging community have a code, and like Boont, much of it is based on local history. Fascinating stuff.

Yeah, and it's called WOOTling!

Barrie said...

There is a weird little wooden helicopter at the beginning of one of my favourite movies that Tex made for John Waters. I believe that Tex was very bad guy before he ever met Manson too. John Waters is a very non judgemental type of guy, and I love him for that. I've met him many times, and he's so nice. It takes a lot to freak him out. I can see how Mr. Waters would be willing to give a person the benefit of the doubt, even if they didn't deserve it, because that's just the open minded kind of guy he is. He is 100 percent correct about Leslie Van Houten though. I am much more judgemental than Mr. Waters and Leslie has proven herself to me.

Doc Sierra said...

Hi Barrie. What's the name of the movie with the wooden helicopter?

Max Frost said...

It's called easy shorthand.

LOL @ Chatsworth Charlie!

Hey Doc - great to see you around!

Robert Hendrickson said...

Well, you did it again. I can't get this 'clubhouse' language business out of my mind.

Of course the Family (especially Manson) had a special way of communicating within THEIR ranks.

Doctors, cops, lawyers, etc. and most EVERYONE has a certain "speak" within THEIR respective GROUPS.

So how come (according to witnesses) CHARLIE didn't use HIS special communication skills to ORDER the KILLINGS ? Because USING "perfect" English to communicate "It's time for Helter Skelter" "Go get some leather thongs and a knife and do what Tex tells you" AND "chop off Shorty's head" is a sure way to implicate oneself in a conspiracy to commit murder. Why NOT use YOUR special language skills to get the ULTIMATE point across ! Lawyers use THEIR "double-speak" language to advise THEIR "big money" clients how to commit a crime. Was CHARLIE just to stupid to NOT realize HE shouldn't communicate "instructions" to commit a crime in "Perfect English" so a prosecutor could send HIM back to prison. OR did the key "witnesses" transpose what CHARLIE "actually" said back into "Perfect English" so the Jury could easily understand all the mumbo-jumbo?

Funny, most everyone NOW thinks CHARLIE was just a babbling idiot, BUT at the time of the murders HE gave very clear instructions in Perfect English.

PS: don't you just love how in COP-talk WE are ALL just "individuals" or "suspects" AND they are ALL "Hereos."

Barrie said...

Hi Doc. The movie that has the helicopter in the credits at the beginning is called Female Trouble. John Waters stopped talking to Tex, except for exchanging Christmas cards, after Tex converted to Christianity. Haha. Bible thumping is one of the few things that that freaks John out.

Doc Sierra said...

What's shakin' Max? Great to see you too.....

Panamint Patty said...

Patty still cant watch Divine eat the dog turd.

Doc Sierra said...

Is Patty sure that it isn't a Baby Ruth?

Panamint Patty said...

Legend has it that it was an actual dog turd. Caddyshack was tame!

Doc Sierra said...

When I think of a dog turd I think of the old Cheech and Chong bit, "Ralph and Herbie".....

Matt said...

Look like dog shit?

Doc Sierra said...

"Baliff? Whack his pee pee".....

Barrie said...

Haha. Yes, it is actual dog shit that Divine eats in Pink Flamingos. They had a had a little dog, and waited around for for hours for it to take a shit so that John could get the shot he wanted. John was pretty wild in his younger days. Love him.

bucpaul2812 said...

That scene in "Female Trouble" where Dawn Davenport sashays through downtown Baltimore after her makeover past the graffiti reading "FREE TEX WATSON" is classic.

Does anyone recall the scene later in the film where Dawn is in jail awaiting execution? There's a scene with another inmate in prison denim finery singing to herself which, in retrospect, looks oddly enough like a pastiche of Leslie - every time I see it, I keep expecting her to start singing "I'll Never Say Never To Always".

bucpaul2812 said...

Regarding the topic of the existence of the language, this made me think about the one time hardcore Family members and how they've gone on to re-integrate into mainstream society. It's been said that many people forget so-called basics surrounding a language they were once fluent in if they cease living in the environment the language was spoken. Or if they ceased contact with any members of the diaspora.

I do wonder if the likes of Sandy, Squeaky,Gypsy, Brenda, Snake and Mary recall any of this language with the passage of time. For one fleeting moment, I had this absurd vision of Charlie re-wiring them to the effect that they were like sleeper cells and years later, someone with a PHd in linguistic studies would communicate to one of them in the long-lost language, kickstarting another level of batshit 45+ years on.

fiona1933 said...

"Yeah...get educated...study the mystery of history...and the ramis-jamis and in the meantime, we'll call it the in-between time. ...(Charlie looked at his turquoise ring)...Now, take the toad's toenail...pretty,ain't it, bleep, bleep...ride in a jeep".

From My Life With Charles manson, by Paul Watkins.

I think that a lot of this 'secret language' was probably the kind of gibberish aimed at reaching a state of childlike awareness and consciousness: by not associating words with images, by not having language, you could have the pure consciousness of a baby, since language both enriches, yet inhibits us. If 'wall' only means 'wall' and nothing else, we have order, but we also have limits. If you could, at will, get beyond that, you could tap the universe...

Charlei spoke of total awareness all the time. Look at Clem in Robert's film, talking about the deer and the animals and the lack of awareness of the hunters. All of them use the word 'bright': they talk about how their parents don't want them to 'be too bright" 'shut the bathroom door, stupid"; "you can't sing"...a lot of this stuff seems similar to how couples will develop their own catchphrases.
Like me with my now-ex boyfriend, would sometimes say : "it's not snowing, and we dont have to build a railway" which was of course baffling to everyone else but to us had a story and a meaning.

Rocks said...

Just as zoo-zoos is prison slang for candy the first place you look for answers regrading people heavily influenced by Manson is prison. Their behavior is similar to how inmates communicate while locked up.