"Do you love Charlie Manson?"
My 14-year old niece was looking over my shoulder as I was reading one of the TLB blogs.
How in hell does one come to love Charlie Manson? A couple of dozen did so in an almost fanatical way oh so many years ago. And that love was punctuated by a lot of blood.
Today, there remain a dozen or so still proclaiming their devotion to the aged evil gnome.
Personally, I can't speak to the love aspect, but I can offer a thought or two to the question of why someone is fascinated by the hairy half-assed sociopath.
First, Charlie proves that a person can be both repulsive and captivating at the same time.
That dichotomy alone makes him interesting. He is evil, and he has charm. It is a beguiling combination. He can be almost incoherantly crazy one minute and astoundingly lucid and provocative the next. You never know which one is the act. And you seriously wonder if he does.
Maybe that is the secret to his charm - the old vauldville line of 'always leaving em wanting more'. You can listen to him for hours on Youtube, always waiting for him to round the bend and bring it home. He never does.
But Charlie himself is not the TLB story, and somewhat to his credit he is the first to proclaim that truth. The Col has the best Manson quote on his site on the right under the heading 'Charlie Said It Best'. It begins, "I was a half-assed nothing...". As they say, truer words were never spoken.
So why does TLB remain such a passionate interest for many of us. I have never felt the need to apologize when friends challenge me for being a 'Manson blogger'. Look, I say, curiousity is the foundation of intelligence. I have no interest WHATSOEVER in people who are not curious, and I really don't care what one is curious about - baseball or the cosmos or cattle breeding...whatever. As long as someone has passion and curiousity I will talk with them.
But why be curious about murders that happened nearly a half century ago? Well, let's state the obvious - that damn book Helter Skelter is the best selling true crime book of all time, so we TLB bloggers are not alone in our interest. And the second obvious thing is that the TLB story has, as the say in Hollywood, everything one could ask for. It has sex and murder and drugs and hippies and bikers and the Mafia and celebrities and Black Panthers and rock and roll and social revolution and orgies and cowboys and dune buggies and death row conversions and would-be presidential assassins and eco-terrorists and just about everything under the sun.
Again, it is a cliche, but you really couldn't make this stuff up. I mean on these blogs we actually have discussions about the possible reality of Charlie boinking Doris Day! The story has layer upon layer of intrigue, from Leno's gambling debts to the missing porn tapes to the effects of belladonna to the music scene in Topanga Canyon and so on. At it's most basic level, it is a story that encapsulates the 1960's.
But what the TLB story really has, what makes it unique and probably timeless, is the characters. Many dismiss the Family as a bunch of idiot losers. I've done it myself. But from a purely literary perspective, there are countless provocative people in this tale from the Evil One to his loyal sidekick Squeaky to the dispicable crazed Tex to Cupid and Gypsy and Ouish and Cappy and on to the boys, Donkey Dan and Shorty and Clem. There are the Cielo Drive killers, the depraved Sadie who sneered "no mercy, bitch", crapped in the hallway and blew her baby, and the painfully plain Pat who somehow channelled Jack the Ripper, and the homecoming queen Lulu who discovered the orgasmic pleasure of plunging a knife into a dead lady, and Yana the Witch who somehow skated her way back to New Hampshire despite being there for not one but two nights of murder.
Who were these maniacs, we are still asking ourselves forty years later.
And then there is the motive. Ah, the motive. I picture the Col pissing on the Bug's grave, screaming 'you sold the world bullshit'.
Manson will be dead soon. One of my favorite daydreams is to picture him demanding a big funeral at an old gothic church. I'd have to attend just to see who would show. Who would be the pallbearers? Who would do the eulogy? Who would cry?
Will Charlie be bigger in death than in life? I would say so. Some murderers fade with time. Nobody I know talks about Bundy or Dahmer or Gacy. They were just depraved monsters. I love Charlie's quote on Bundy, "he was just a poopbutt, Bundy's was his momma's boy" Charlie was insulted at being lumped in with 'poopbutts'.
Charlie will most likely be more like Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper, notorious characters who retain a devoted following a century later.
What will the TLB bloggers be discussing in 2069? .They'll be talking about evil, about charisma, about devotion, about savagery. about drug use and drug burns, about orgies and revolution. And whether Doris took it from behind.
We all get our kicks differently, I told my niece. Thank the heavens.