Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Road Mangler Deluxe: some footnotes

Here at the Mansonblog, we have already paid much attention to Phil Kaufman's fascinating autobiography (see here and here). Patty finally got around to reading it herself and has a few footnotes that she'd like to add to Matt's report.

In the early 60's, Phil jumped bail for a Mexican drug smuggling charge out of the bordertown of
Sonoita, Mexico. He obtained a fake passport he got with UCLA student and friend Harold True's birth certificate, and actually traveled as True.

He had Hollywood and drug culture contacts long before he was finally caught and ended the last year of a six year sentence at Terminal Island. He had been an extra in movies like "Spartacus" with Kirk Douglas and "Pork Chop Hill" with Gregory Peck. Ram Dass, friend of Tim Leary, sent him LSD in a letter that he ate in its entirety until "paisleys were coming out of (his) ears." Old friend Harold True would bring him "space cakes" as well.

It was at Terminal Island that Phil met Charlie playing guitar in the prison yard. When Charlie was released, Phil introduced Charlie to publicist Gary Stromberg. Stromberg gave an interview to CNN in 2012: "In the 1970s, I ran one of the leading entertainment business public relations firms. Celebrity clients were wildly indulging themselves, accountable to no one. It was money, power and prestige, with no one to say, "That's enough." 

My office, on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, was set up like a huge living room with couches, overstuffed pillows on the floor, rock star posters lining the walls and a coffee table, the centerpiece of which was a large crystal bowl, filled at all times with a generous supply of cocaine. The house rules were "help yourself if you're here on business -- but no take-outs!"...As you could imagine, my office was a very popular place."

Phil left TI in 1968 and still occasionally talks to Charlie in prison: "Charlie occasionally calls me collect and does his Manson rap with a silent "c" if you get my drift" meaning Charlie speaks about biker culture quite a bit, Patty supposes ("Harlie?"). This reminds Patty of something that A.C. once told her: that Charlie was actually a skilled motorcycle mechanic which may have been an "in" for him with the Satan's Slaves?

Of Joshua Tree, Phil remembers that Gram Parsons was introduced to the area by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Phil, Gram, and Michelle Phillips started a film project out there about UFOs that never came to fruition. Gram spent lots of time with the Mamas and the Papas.

These facts are interesting to Patty because they show that the links between Charlie, his associates and The Brotherhood of Eternal Love go way, way back. They predate Charlie's 1967 release by several years and have all the elements that Patty has touched on here: bikers, hollywood royalty, drug smuggling and passport fraud.
If you look for "the truth", it's there. Patty will reiterate, it's NOT Helter Skelter. Helter Skelter was discussed as a concept, but it was NOT what the Family was ultimately about. It was what Bugliosi was about, and history continues to remain on his side because he is seen as "respectable" and "law abiding." It was a tidy little story meant for public consumption because the actual truth was too far out for anyone, much less a jury, to comprehend and convict.

In 1969, there was a huge, powerful infrastructure of
under the table associations that at first accepted Charlie, then rejected him. This criminal subculture had its own laws and believe it or not, Charlie did and still does abide by them, though they are not as well understood in the mainstream as the kind of laws that the government makes for you and Patty to follow. Many of these laws are taught in the California prison system: Stoner Van Houten, who actually has spent time at Corcoran has recently been kind enough to explain some of them to her. The prison culture that Charlie is a part of is a real culture, just like mainstream American culture or any other. Because it is foreign to most of us, it is often misunderstood. But that doesn't make it untrue.

No one likes change, or people who go against the rules of the game as you understand them, including Charlie. After all, he had it made there for a while. If you were an aspiring underworld drug lord, what would you do?