Most of the time when I read a Manson interview I lose interest fairly soon. It's just too much work, to try to decipher what the hell he is trying to say, for very little payoff at the end. This interview had me engaged from beginning to end. The interview has not been grammatically cleaned up, at least not to a great degree. You have the feeling that you are indeed reading Manson's own words.
Manson talks in riddles and uses a lot of parables, many of which are only understood by himself, to tell his truths. I do not think that Manson lies outright but often obfuscates the truth by dancing around it. In this interview Manson offers a motive for TLB in a couple of places, the same motive each time but in a different stage of the interview that lends credence to what he said in the first instance. I'm sure that it will not satisfy everyone as far as motive is concerned but I believe it goes a long way in injecting Manson's own perspective about motive.
Charles Manson is an embodiment of resolute despair and cunning optimism. It is difficult to tell if what he says is thoughtful and coherent or just a product of rationalizing fifteen years of sensationalism dating from the time of the Tate-LaBianca murder trials. His appearance is anything but imposing. A short, slightly built, wizened and aging man, he doesn't appear especially maniacal, nor does he manifest messianic tendencies. Rather, at times, he seems to exhibit cool reason and to acknowledge a begrudging recognition of the indecency of his past. All available history indicates he abandoned any possibility of his future some years ago.
Manson was born November 12, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio, the illegitimate son of Kathleen Maddox. He was listed on birth records as "No Name Maddox." A few years later Kathleen married William Manson, and her son was given the name Charles Milles Manson. His childhood was a series of stays with relatives and foster homes due, primarily, to the fact that his mother was absent, uninterested or in prison. As an unwanted twelve-year-old, he was sent to the Gibault School for Boys in Terre Haute, Indiana. His life at this point became locked into an unending series of conflicts with the people who rejected him and the institutions that controlled him. Charles Manson developed a pattern of criminality that was to keep him in and out of prison: burglary, car theft and escape.
He came to the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco in March 1967 shortly after his release from Terminal Island Prison in California, his arrival coinciding with the first influx of those who were to comprise the hippie movement. Many of these people were disillusioned with society at large and were in search of love and peace. The Manson family established its roots in this time and place.
However, the Manson family's own search for truth ended in the Tate-LaBianca murders in August of 1969. Though he was not present at the scene of the crime, Charles Manson was sentenced to death for the complicity of his role. In 1972, when the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional, his sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. Manson served eleven years in solitary confinement but was released to the general prison population in 1982. On September 25, 1984, he was set afire by a self-proclaimed member of the Krishna sect, and he suffered burns of the head, face and hands. He has recovered from that incident with little lasting damage other than the scarring of his hands.
Music has been an integral part of Manson's life and remains a driving interest. An album titled Lie was produced and recorded during a telephone conversation not long after his incarceration for the Tate-LaBianca murders. I was approached by "friends" of Charlie Manson to conduct an interview in which he would be able to discuss his music. However, the interview ranged over a wide array of subjects. I met with Manson at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. — K.K.
KEVEN KENNEDY: In 1959 you met Alvin Karpis, the last survivor of Ma Barker's gang. And he taught you how to play the guitar. Since then music has been your only apparent professional interest. Recognizing the constraints of being a prisoner, you seem to be embarking on a semiprofessional career as a musician. Could you tell me about that?
CHARLES MANSON: I started playing the guitar in 1943.
KK: Is that when you met Karpis?
CM: No, Karpis showed me some of the things that they play. You know, guitar players exchange rubs all the time. But his style of music was not my style of music, even though I incorporated some of his repertoire into what I play. He was just a good old man that I met on the road. He had been done wrong also. He never did anything J. Edgar Hoover just put him in jail because he was friends of people that did something and he wouldn't snitch. In other words, he held his mug for 40 years.
KK: Do you categorize yourself in the same way?
CM: I don't categorize myself.
KK: Do you think you've been done wrong?
CM: Oh, yes. They were way off base. They said I was a hippie. I'm not a hippie. I was a beatnik before the hippies even started. I was a beatnik down in Venice pounding on bongos and reciting poetry in the fifties, '54 and '55. And when I got out and I seen what they did with the Beat Generation — they ate the Beat Generation up and they had the hippies on the block. And they was fixing to eat the hippie up like they ate the Beats up. That's where they made their mistake with me. They picked up with the hippies and said I was a hippie. I wasn't a hippie. I was a beatnik.
Before the hippies —you know, you guys were kids. They were kids to me. I'd already went through that. I was Elvis Presley before he was.
KK: I understand that you have sent a tape to the punk rock band Black Flag. Will it be released soon?
CM: You look at everything backwards. Terry Melcher came to me. I didn't go to him. They came to me to play music. Dennis Wilson came to me in the mountains I wasn't going down there trying to play music. The D.A. was saying, "Hey, man, you were trying for a record career." I had a record career. I didn't want a record career. I just got out of one prison. I didn't want to go into another. When you do music or you do anything for the public, you gotta be a slave to that. You've got to be there on time. You've got to carry clocks and dollar bills and tax trips. You got all kinds of things to do. I was free in the mountains.
What did I want a music career for? I got a music career. I play music for music. I don't play music for attention. I don't play music to little girls. I'm not selling records. I don't play music like you guys play music. You're blocked up in little squares to play music. I don't play music like that.
KK: So you aren't doing it for the public's interest, just purely for your own enjoyment?
CM: Yes. And I found out that in California, that in order to get justice you must buy it. They will not give you what they call fair trials. If you have the rights that our fathers died for, I would have had my trial and I would have my rights - and my day in court.
But I didn't. All I got was, you guys blame me for the sixties. And then all your Yippie leaders and all the holy morocos, they all run the other way when it got too nasty. They would tell the children, "Raise up and kill your mom and dad." But then when they raised up and killed their mom and dad, all the people that said that ran. And then they blamed it over on me and said, "Oh, well, Charlie Manson is a hippie cult leader and he made this, he made the kids do all that." But none of them kids that got busted said that.
KK: Did you ever feel any affinity for them?
CM: Sure, I still love them. They're still like mine. They're like me. They're like street people.
It's like this, man: back in the forties, when I would be on the basketball court, for example. And all the kids would say, "Hey, your mom's calling you, Billy." So Billy would leave, and then John would leave, and Tom would leave. And I would be out there sitting on the basketball smoking a joint. I was unaccepted. I was the outcast. So I ended up stealing a bicycle and I went to reform school. And then I get out three years later, and I go back to the neighborhood, and everybody's grown up, and there's a whole new wave of kids there. So we sit and we talk. I said,
"Whatever happened to Johnny?"
"Well, he died in Korea."
"Whatever happened to Joe?"
"Well, he's an automobile engineer in Detroit."
"Whatever happened to so-and-so?"
"He moved to Chicago."
And then I steal a car. And I get a gun and I go rob places.
And then I come back out of prison after ten years. And I go back over on the basketball court. And the time for Johnny to go home, Johnny doesn't go home. And on the basketball court there's ten or fifteen kids. And it's already after dark. "What are you kids doing out after dark? Ain't you going to go home for dinner?"
"Oh, no, my mom kicked me out of the house. My mom's a drunk. She don't like me." In other words, the last time I got out in '67, the road that I was walking on, hey, there's a whole bunch of kids walking on the same road! I said, "Well, I didn't know you knew this place."
KK: So you feel you had your bed made for you early on?
CM: No. When I heard Timothy Leary say, "Tune in and drop out," I knew where they were dropping out to because I had been under that, on the under road, on the backside of what's happening, in other words, in the darkness.
KK: Do you have resentment for the types of things that you did encounter when you were a child? You did have a deprived childhood.
CM: No, I don't waste my time with those silly little resentments and hate and all that bitterness and all that.
KK: Did it have an effect on you at one time?
CM: Just to the point to where I found out what it does to you. In other words, I'm not going to destroy myself because someone else is suicidal, someone else has got problems. That's their problems, not mine. I got my own road I walk.
KK: But you do feel your childhood did affect your outcome?
CM: No, I'm glad. I was glad to be raised by myself. I think it worked out better. Sometimes the best parents are the worst parents. And sometimes the worst parents are the best. Because the worst parents don't teach you anything and it leaves you to learn for yourself.
KK: But you do understand that from somebody else's perspective, encountering the types of things that they encountered in your case, they may have felt that your experiences were detrimental. Do you regret anything that occurred in your lifetime?
CM: Not to this point, no.
KK: Let me get back to your music. You are cutting an album with the group —
CM: No, no, no, no. I got a little tape recorder like this little Mickey Mouse thing here. In fact, it's not as good as that. And I play a little music, and I sing a little music. And what happened was, I gave a couple tapes that I had made to a friend of mine about four years ago. And he said he wanted to do something with them. Well, I told him, "Go ahead and do whatever you do." So he got in touch with some kind of lawyer somewhere about doing something. And then they got this thing going. And now they're talking about coming out with an album. It's not an album done in a studio. It's a Mickey Mouse little trip. But knowing the way the news media has dealt with me, they'll take it and make it into the best thing that I could do. But it's actually not really a reflection of any music that I play. It's a reflection of me passing my time and practicing. I guess you would call it practicing. I'm not really practicing. I just like to play.
KK: You mentioned that in 1968 you did strike up a relationship with both Terry Melcher and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. Now, Terry Melcher was the person who earlier had lived in the home that Sharon Tate was murdered in. And obviously there were some connections made between this fact and the eventual death of Sharon Tate. Was there any connection between Melcher's previous residence in the home and those events?
CM: That's my neighborhood. I run that neighborhood. I run in that neighborhood. I live on the beach. I lived with Dennis in Santa Monica, in the mountains. I went to that house four or five times. I've been to the house for parties. Tex Watson knew the house because he was on the edge of what I was doing. He was watching the way I was doing what I was doing, putting together whatever I was putting together. So he picked that house. He just went to that house because he knew that house. But it didn't directly have anything to do with me.
KK: So it was just coincidence that Melcher happened to live there.
CM: Yes, just total coincidence.
KK: Tell me about your relationship with Melcher.
CM: I like Terry. Terry's a nice, gentle person. He's a peaceful person. He doesn't lie. He's treated me right. I would consider him a friend. But I think all this madness scared him. I think it scared him into thinking that I'm somebody that I'm not.
A lot of people think that Manson is some great monster. But the only monster Manson is, is what the media created and the district attorney created. Do you guys realize what's going to happen to this country because of that case? When you can go to college, son, and learn to be a lawyer, and you can go to a district attorney's position and do anything that you want, that makes you the leader of this country. You can put anybody on trial and say anything you want to say and tell any lie you want to lie. Why spend billions of dollars for a school to study criminology when all they do is sit up in the witness stand and lie? You just lie, and you don't need the schools.
The whole thing was a big sham. It was a big act for the world, man. A big play. They put the children on trial for trying to stop the war. And then all the people like Joan Baez, and what's that other chick's name? Her old man was in the movies. What's her damn name? She's got a politician for a husband.
KK: Oh, you mean Jane Fonda.
CM: Yes, Jane Fonda, and all those people. They'll scream and they'll holler for the kids to do something. And then when the kids do it, then they say the kids are all f— ed up, you know. The only ones that bring change since time began is the young people. The young people are the ones that have to suffer the sufferings to change the system. Well, we're still working to change the system. We're still improving the system and working within the system.
KK: Are you saying the murders of Sharon Tate and the LaBiancas were political acts?
CM: My goodness, man, ain't you seen Jerry Rubin stand up in the TV camera with an M-16 saying, "Rise up, children"? You didn't see that? You don't remember that?
CM: Well, you didn't put him on trial. You got Charlie Manson and put Charlie Manson on trial. Did you hear Abbie Hoffman go through all the colleges and give all the speeches to all the young minds about how to shoot cocaine, how to deal with your dope, and how to play in that underworld? And then at the same time, he never spent three days in jail. He owns the judge, he buys and sells judges. And he rides on the top of your children. Then he'll go back and play like he's hiding.
Let me explain something to you. To hide from the FBI and the United States of America is almost an impossibility. Slick Willie Sutton, one of the slickest crooks in the world, couldn't do it. You got Patty Hearst, and you got her acting like she's on the run from the law. She was never on the run from the law. She was in the FBI office all the time. And then you got Abbie Hoffman that acts like, "I'm with you, kids. All right, you kids, you go do this." And then the kids run and do it, and then 'who gets the blame? The kids get the blame. And then the kids go down and "Let me take you to Strawberry Field where nothing is real but the medication and the nut wards." And then they cut their wrists and write "I love you, God" all over the walls and hang themselves on the ventilators.
KK: Now, you take deference with the use of drugs and drinking. Is that an established value of yours, that you just don't like drinking and drugs, or was this at any time — ?
CM: I smoke grass. And I've lived around drugs all my life. And I've lived around booze all my life. I'm not against anything. I'm against the misuse. It's not the drugs that are bad, and it's not the people that are bad. It's all the mess that you've got created around the misunderstanding of the drugs. There's nothing wrong with drugs. If you were sick in the hospital, and they come and give you a shot to take away the pain, you would appreciate the drugs. I think God put everything there for us to use. If we misuse it, that's our fault. And one way we're misusing it is we're fighting against a power that we're not going to overcome. We have to flow with the flow of those drugs.
KK: You were severely burned by a fellow inmate who doused you with paint thinner and lit a match. He says you attacked his religious beliefs and threatened him. Was this just an isolated conflict between two inmates?
CM: It was in his mind. I didn't have anything in my mind. I'm not thinking about anything. He's arguing with himself. The devil he's chasing is the one that he's living with, that's inside of him, you know. His fears and his doubts he has to deal with. It hasn't got anything to do with me. He had gotten more argument from the church house than he got from me. I have no religious convictions of any particular direction. I am my own religion.
KK: You are your own religion? There's been much publicity surrounding the fact that you were allegedly known as Jesus Christ, and the Manson family was the "chosen few."
CM: That was part of your district attorney. He had to sell that to win a conviction. He had to hook me up as being a leader of something. I never led anything in my life. I had a motorcycle, sleeping bag and a guitar. And that's it. If anybody is on the same road I'm on, and they need a cigarette, or a dollar bill, or a ride, or they're hitchhiking, I generally help them as much as I can. I never owned that ranch.
I wasn't the central figure in anything, except the music. I like to play music. People come around and listen. Okay. If they give me something to eat, okay. If they don't, okay, man. I wasn't waving any flags. I wasn't out to do anything. I had just got out of 22 years in prison, man. I just got out of prison. Can you imagine 22 years in prison? Can you imagine that?
KK: It is hard to imagine.
CM: Well, I had just got out. How could I be responsible for the children of the sixties when I was locked up in the dungeon all during the sixties?
And as far as me being Jesus, let me explain this. Just a little before your time, there was a guy named Krishna Venta who claimed that he was the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And he had a cult in Box Canyon in Los Angeles. He called it the Fountain of the World. And he was having a sex orgy one night with about twelve or fifteen women. In those days, back then in the forties, that wasn't very well accepted. So what happened was someone put dynamite up underneath his house and blew him up, blew his wife up, all of his children. Blew everybody up. Blew about fifteen or twenty people up. There was bodies all around. I was a kid looking at this.
So it just so happened that, oh, say, 25 years later, I was standing on the same spot with fifteen women. And there had been fifteen women blew up. And we laughed, and we got in a circle and we said, 'We were blew up here once." So we won't have to blow the world up. Maybe we can make a little mark here where we won't need to blow the world up. And the next wave of kids can have their games and straighten out another end of it, like the air, the water, the trees and the wildlife.
You see, there's a certain order in life. And the order in life to each man would be himself first. Then after you got yourself in order, then you reach for your city, your town, your country or world. So a guy was trying to put order into his life. And he would preach on the weekends. And he would hang on a cross, and he would come down. And he had all these followers.
All right. When I got out, I was running with a guy called Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], called himself Christopher Jesus. And the cops had a tentative list because we were burning up road equipment that was tearing up the land. They were destroying the water and destroying the animals in the deserts. So what I did was, I used to go around and burn up all these things that were tearing up the earth. And I would sneak around and do devilish little things to slow their progress down, because when you see two or three hundred thousand animals dying because somebody wants to put a fence across the desert for no particular reason except making money and selling something to the public — for a new road, production, and all that madness that they play in. I'd tear the fences down and tear the water and put the water back into the land where the animals can have a game to play.
Jesus was running with me. And we called him Zero. And then when the cops had this tentative list of who's who and what's what, they come to me and they said, "Are you Jesus [English pronunciation]? "Because "Jesus" was spelled like "Jesus."
And I said, "No, my name is Manson."
And they said, "Oh, yes, you're him. Son of Man, Manson. Yes, you're him."
I said, "What?" So when they booked me in the county jail they thought it was real funny. They booked me as "also known as Jesus Christ." I had never had any thought like that in my life. I never needed to think I was anyone. Why must I be somebody? I mean, everybody's got a name. I've had thousands of names. I don't need a name. What do I need a name for? I don't even name my dogs. My dogs are just dogs, you know? Do I name my chickens? It don't make sense. The whole thing.
I'm from another world. You guys are living in a kind of world. I live in an altogether different world. Because you got to consider I was raised up - in jail, not on the street.
And as far as the religious aspect, I was a student of Paramahansa Yogananda in the fifties, in the forties. You know, I went to all the retreats. I've seen the light. I knew all the things that Mashi Mushi or Hushi Pasha or whatever you want to call him taught.
KK: What is prison life like for you? At one time you had said that prison had become home to you.
CM: Yes. Prison is in the mind. Someone draws a line and says you're in prison. I'm going to put you in prison and your number is 3359, and you are going to do rah, ruh, rah, rah. It is a struggle of will. It is a struggle of whose will is doing what. If their will is interposed up over your will, then you're considered to be in prison. But, as Gandhi would tell you, probably passive force overcomes all that. There's no prison. Not to me. I'm just here. The people that are in prison are locked up in their minds. They get paid to go back and forwards and torment other people. And I just look at them and it doesn't affect me. Not personally.
KK: So you do still consider prison home in that sense?
CM: I'm home. Anywhere I'm at is home. If I'm in Chicago, I'm still here. Anywhere I go I'm here. If I'm in New York, I'm still here. If I'm in Florida, I'm still here. No matter where I go, I'm here. So home to me is me. I'm my own home because I was raised by myself. But someone that was raised with a mother and father, they have the thoughts in their minds and the patterns in the minds of whatever home is to them.
KK: Do you want to be released from prison?
CM: Released? I just want to be left alone. And I would like to have my own will back to where I could do what I want to do. I would be content and satisfied with the rights that my fathers died for. It's that simple. It was all written down. In 1776 it was laid out just as beautiful as God had done it. And everybody wants to find a God somewhere, man. We got people landing on the moon. My goodness. One guy came and he said, "My God quarried a 3,200-ton stone and lifted it up over these mountains and set it perfectly in place."
I said, "Oh, yes. You've got a big God. Now look up there at that 747. That's more than 3,200 tons. And it's not only set in perfect place, it's flying around the world. So how far would you have to go before you see God?"
You see space shuttles and you say, "God, these guys are still down here worshiping something that some medieval torture chamber was doing, and nailing people to boards and things and calling it God."
You see, I dismissed that world a long time ago. Really, I have. I dismissed it. It's gone from my mind. It comes over and says, "You pay me some attention!"
I say, "No."
Will you accept our God as being the God?"
I say, "All right, I'll accept anything. Now, can I get on with my business?"
They say, "Well, we want you to —
" I say, "Okay, man, you're all right. I accept everything you say. Everything's perfect. All right, you guys go your way. Can I leave now?"
And they say, "No, we want to hold you."
I say, "Why?"
"Because we want to pick arguments with you and throw fire on you and drag you up and down the hallway and blame you for everything we don't understand and everything we don't know."
I say, "Hey, look, sit down and I'll explain it to you, how simple and childish it is. You all grew up. I didn't. You all grew up and I didn't. I watched you all grow up and I say, Wow, far out, you get old and you lose teeth, and your hair falls out, and you get bad, and you pay yourself to do all kinds of crazy little things.' And I have no judgments against your world, only what is." But you guys have always—when I say you, I'm talking about the system —has always put its judgments over on me, trying to make me into something that you can relate. But you can't relate to me unless you're me.
KK: You say you could accept the values that your fathers fought for. So if you were released, you would be content with that fact?
CM: No. Somebody's going to pay, one way or another. If the courtrooms are in order, I'm going to sue. I'm going to sue for everything California's got. I'll own California by the time this is over if I sue. Now, if I can't sue, that's okay, too. Then I'll' start a revolution. I won't say that I've already got one going. But look around you and maybe you'll see that —
It's like this: a guy comes up to you and he's called a district attorney. He's got all these guys and he handcuffs you, and he sets you down. And he says, "You're. going to play this game whether you want to play it or not." So they start dealing out cards. And they deal you "hippie cult leader." You don't know what a hippie cult leader is. There's never been a hippie cult leader. So you got to go find out what a hippie cult leader is. And you say, "All right, I've got a hippie cult leader card. I've got nine murder cards." I'm supposed to be responsible for making all these people do all these things. I'm supposed to have this awesome power to move people to destruction and have the power of the presidency that I can put troops in the field and have them go out and die and take other people's lives for me. I'm a whole government by myself, convicted to be that. That's not me.
But they convicted me for Nixon. They gave me all of Nixon's problems, all of Nixon's children. And then they say I'm Nixon. They convict me and throw me in the jail. And then every one of my friends that you call my family were my friends, not my family, my friends. They didn't have any friends. The district attorney has no friends. His friends is his dollar bill and his wife that tells him what to do. Dig? So I've got friends. And he doesn't like me because I got friends. He hates me because I got friends. Because he wants to have friends, but he doesn't know how to have friends. He plays tennis with himself.
KK: You disavow the designation of the Manson family? Was that just something that was projected on what you call your friends?
CM: I am the Manson family. My will, I say, "Open my hand." It opens. I say, "Close my hand." It closes. My will, my hands, my fingers, me. My heart, my soul, myself, me. I have earned that. It's like I told the judge, I know, God knows, and the Holy Spirit knows. And what you're selling down in the marketplace, your children are going to have to work that off. So I'm really suggesting your not selling a whole bunch of lies. But they continue to sell that damn "Helter Skelter" trip. It had nothing to do with me. Helter Skelter to me was a nightclub in the desert. And I cut the card game a nickel so I could buy dune buggy parts and go out and play in the desert.
KK: What is the connection between the "Helter Skelter" which was written on the La-Bianca's refrigerator and the fact that you wrote a song called "Helter Skelter'?
CM: I did? Who told you that? No, I hadn't. I hadn't even thought of anything like that. "Helter Skelter" was painted on different things, man. It was a reflection of 'Why don't we do it in the road." You see, you guys got to realize, man, I'm 50 years old. Bing Crosby was my heartthrob. Frank Sinatra was my hero, not the Beatles. And it was Dean Martin —lived right across the river from where I lived in Wheeling, West Virginia. I'm from Kentucky, I'm a Kentucky boy. In other words, it took me twenty some years to get to California. Some of you guys were born and raised in California because your parents came here.
Man, I got no —I'm not into the same things you guys are into, not now, and not during the sixties. My generation was the thirties. I was raised during the Depression. You guys don't even know what it's like to be hungry. You know, there's a difference. The kids that were running in the street when I got out, I liked them. I really did. If they were my kids, I would be awful proud of them. Even though they did some dirty, terrible things, they still stopped the war. They did it. And they probably saved a lot of their brothers' lives. But they're still in jail, and they have to take the blame for it. They're not accepted as political prisoners because some D.A. had to make up something. Or somebody told a lie and says, "Well, he did it for money." And there's all kinds of motives that they play with. But did you ever think he didn't, do it? You're always looking for the motive before you find out whether he really did it.
And then another thing is, you go to court in this country, and they're not interested in why you did it. They're interested in if you did it. Why you did it should be an issue also. Why are the children doing what they're doing? Why does a child reach up and kill his mom and dad and murder his two little sisters and then cut his throat? Why would a child do something like that? Because we're not raising it up right. We're programming it poorly. Our TVs are murdering people. Every fifteen minutes you see two or three people dying on TV. To the generation of the sixties and the seventies, TV is raising the children. The TV is their mom and dad,
KK: Do you think that you might have turned out differently had you had a better upbringing?
CM: Then I wouldn't know what I know. I'm satisfied with what I know. I've got my world. And there's very few people that can say that. They must hold onto somebody or something else. I don't hold onto nobody or nothing. I don't need anything. All I need is to be left alone and have these people quit knocking me down and playing all these games with me.
KK: You mentioned the different interests you have. What kinds of interests do you have that you pursue here in the prison besides music?
CM: My own life. My own life balance. When I got out of prison I went up in the mountains and I looked around, and I sat down and I seen the water all polluted. I seen the trees being cut down. I seen this concrete maze that man has made. And it's like I had come from another place that's not the same as the place that you guys, or that that world, lives in. And I thought, "Well, who's responsible for this? Whose job is this to make sure that we, got air here to breathe because we're going to run out of air here?" This whole planet's going to run out of air. And I look at the water, and I look at the way they're misusing the resources, and how they use tons and tons and tons of paper. You got 200 million people shoveling paper all day long. And you think something had to be done here to reach a balance to where we can have life on this planet.
You watch the people feed tons of grain to animals and then they kill the animals and eat the animals. Why don't they just eat the grain and leave the animals live? It don't make sense. They eat fresh blood, and then they go to church and talk about "Thou shalt not kill." And they kill every day with every breath they take, you know. And you say, "You got to quit killing the animals, man. You got to quit eating the flesh. What's wrong with you, man? Gee, man." And then I say that the life they're killing is mine. And then I go out and they're cutting a great big old tree down. And then I say, "Oh, I feel that. I feel what you're doing. You're cutting me down here." So I tell them, "Don't cut me down or I'll shoot you. If you keep cutting the trees down, I'm going to cut you down."
And you say, "Well, look, I got a wife and kids, and I need the money. I have a job, and I don't know anything else." And I say, "Well, I can't blame you. Who's your boss?"
So I go to the boss, and the boss says, "Well, I've worked twenty years to be foreman here. This is my way of life. My kids are going to college and I need the money."
And I say, 'Well, it ain't your fault. Who's your boss?" And he say, "Ace Lumber Company."
So I go to the Ace Lumber Company and they are a subsidiary to the Raviscat Company and 40 percent of the stock is owned by —let me say Korea. And then another 20 percent is owned by Bolivia, and somebody owns 10 percent. And then Margaret of Malibu owns 10 percent. And you go check Margaret out and she died five years ago and she willed all of her assets to the cats. And she's got 300 cats living in a ten-bedroom mansion with a butler and a chauffeur and everybody's provided for for life as long as they take care of the cats. And the cats are reproducing themselves. So we've got a legal life on the trees. So the cats are walking around cutting all the trees down.
In other words, the whole thing is just—you got to redo it. That's all there is to it. You got to rewallpaper and change. You got to change within the system. And every time you hear that I'm going crazy and I'm busting up everything, and I've burned up everything and I've went to the nut ward four or five times, then you'll see Governor Brown jump and say, "Oh, we got you a redwood park." In other words, all the time that we raise hell down here and say, "Anybody that cuts redwood trees down has no respect for their own children. Those trees are thousands of years old and they belong to the kids. Don't be cutting them down." They say, "Well, we need our hot tubs."
So then we get hammers and bust all the windows out and go to the church and bang everything up and burn everything and say, "Now if anybody does that —" and then their fear gets to running. And the only thing that the politicians understand is fear. You run a little fear at them, and then they'll all change their ways. You run a little fear at them in this respect: they're scared to death of the public. They're scared of public opinion. They're scared of you guys that do this kind of thing here.
KK: It appears that you are a politically conscious person, Looking back to the Tate-La-Bianca murders, would there have been a more acceptable means of expressing your political thought?
CM: You're still stuck in your head that I had something to do with that. I'll give it to you this way. Here's what I had to do with it: I've influenced everybody that I was around. But I could influence nobody any more than I have been influenced. If you put me in reform school and you beat me with a leather strap and then you drag me up and down the hallways and break my jaw and you bust my eyes and then you throw' me out into the world, you dig? — all the things that you've done to me, I've got permission to do to you. Every time that you have misused me, when I get back on the street —you wonder why crime raises. I come in here and a cop misuses me in the hallway. When I get out, what am I going to do? If I can see that the State of California can take and kill people in the gas chamber, doesn't that give me permission to do the same thing?
You see what I'm saying? You're dealing with one mind. But the people that are running the mind that you're dealing with, they don't even know what the mind is. They think they got a mind. Nobody's got a mind. The mind has everybody. But everybody wants to think that they've really got something going. So they play all these different little political games. I'm interested in my life, the odor that runs in my atmosphere and my world, the one I know. I can't know what anybody else knows, All I can know is what I know,
KK: Are you saying ,you were justified in — ?
CM: No, I'm saying this: I'm a crook. I'm a criminal. I've been raised as a crook. And I've been raised as a criminal, even though my crime hasn't really been but stealing a few cars and running away from home, and juvenile delinquent stuff, I have still earned the ways of criminals. I've got no malicious mischief in my mind to do anything other than maybe put some order into the world that I see as mine. I'm going to tell you something that you're not going to like, and probably the world ain't doing to like. But I'll tell it to you just like it is. I was raised to ride my own beef, If I do something, I'm responsible for my own actions. If I bust somebody in the mouth, I'll stand up to that, I won't back off of that. If it means my life, I will give my life for my principle. It's that simple.
In short, the fire, it didn't budge me. I got out of the fire. It burnt my face off. My whole face was burnt off, and all my hands was burnt off. But they all grew back and I'm still here, And I am still in the same thought, and I'm not intimidated by anything, ever. And I could die a thousand million more battles and it's still the same. But I am this way: if I wanted to, had it been me up in this Sharon Tate's house, it would have been a lot worse. Thank God that your children did it for you, and I didn't get started on it. Because if I had got started on it, it would have been a lot worse than it was because I am ten times worse.
KK: So you maintain you had no connection?
CM: I didn't have anything to do with those killings. With that group of murders there, I had nothing to do with that. But now, what I done that you don't know about could be ten times worse than that. And I would be justified in doing it, if I did it with my ife, and I gave my life for that, just like those children did.
The dispensation of truth is not a difficult thing. And most children can understand it. If you're willing to give your life for something, you go and you pick up your uniform, you get your M-16, you put your helmet on. And you get in that jungle, and you do what your country tells you to do. If you don't, then there's nothing. You're not there, There's nothing to you because all a man is is honor. If he has no honor, he has no truth, he has no faith, he has no trust, what is he? He's a jellyfish.
So, if those were my kids, I would have been proud of them. I really would have. Because I seen, and I understood what happened, exactly. But I'm bound by another law that you're not bound by. I'm bound by a no-snitch law. I can't rat. If I rat, then I get killed because I live in the underworld. And in the underworld they don't rat.
KK: So you're saying that despite the fact that you say you weren't connected with it, you know who did it.
CM: Sure, I know the name of every mouse. I know every cockroach. I know what the spiders are thinking. Sure, I know exactly. But it wasn't my affair. It wasn't my road. And it wasn't my business. And if someone thinks that they're right about something, I'm not going to get in their way because I've learned.
I'll give you this for a lesson. There was two guys in a cell. We'll call one Mr. A and one Mr. B. Mr. A said, "I'm going to hang myself."
And Mr. B says, "No, brother, I like you. I don't want you to hang yourself."
And Mr. A says, "No, I'm miserable and I just want to get out of this world. I want to go off into another level. I'm gone."
And the other guy says, "No, I'm not going to let you." So Mr. A killed Mr. B and then he hung himself. Well, I'm not going to get in nobody's way. If they're headed to the ventilator, I'm not going to fight somebody to keep them alive. If people are set to commit suicide and they want to go sideways, get them on out the door. I can't use them.
I don't need no suicidal maniacs around me because I found this also: every time you save somebody's life, you got to be responsible for that. If you see somebody that wants to commit suicide and you say, "No, don't commit suicide," and they go kill your best friend, then you'll wish to hell you had let them go ahead and do what they wanted to do.
But this country is overprotective of its people. In other countries I haven't found this to be so. But in this country, they don't want you to do this because they're afraid it will hurt you. Come on. They're afraid you'll hurt you. That's like mother saying, "Don't climb the tree, you might fall and hurt yourself." Well, she might fall and hurt herself because she couldn't climb the tree. But your kid, he can climb the tree. You see what I'm saying? In other words, the older people have always put their values off on the younger people. And it's just the same old process that has been since time began. The younger people keep throwing it off. And that's what happened to the young people down there in L.A., they threw that all off of them. They wanted to get their brother out of jail.
And if they couldn't get their brother out of jail, you go to a lawyer. And it's known well all through the prison, nobody likes criminal law. They have to pay the public defenders because there is just no money in criminal law. It's a dirty business; nobody likes it. So when you got a whole bunch of kids that get involved, and they go to the lawyer, the lawyer takes their money, tells them a lie. And they spend a whole lot of money. Then you give them a little bit, and you got to string them out to where they think they're going to get some more. And you have to play in the larceny, because the lawyer has 'to be worse than the crook or he can't trick the crook into taking a deal and going to jail. In other words, the system is not what our father laid out. It's become corroded. And it's crusty and it's dusty, and it needs redoing.
KK: Those you call your friends, others designate as the Manson family. It's been fourteen years since you were convicted of the Tate-LaBianca killings, yet there still exists a group of people who remain identified with you to this day, even people that you had never known. How do you explain, with all its principal figures in jail, how the Manson family has stayed together this long?
CM: We are truthful to each other. One thing I demand of anybody that I'm with is, I ain't lying to you, so don't you lie to me, because if you lie to me, I might just knock you down on the spot. I got three or four assaults on police officers for that already because I don't lie and I want the same respect. Give me the truth or don't talk to me at all. If you're not going to talk the truth to me - and I catch you in a lie, I'll either get you away from me, someway, one way or another. I'll knock you down or do something to you to get you away from me, to get you off of me, because I don't like lies, not even a little bit. Because lies is what's held me in prison 36 years. Can you imagine a guy in jail 36 years?
KK: But you feel that you have come out of it nonetheless?
CM: You cannot break a man's soul. You can bust his personality up, you can rearrange his thought pattern, but you cannot break his soul. The soul is forever.
KK: Has it had an adverse effect on you?
CM: No, it made me a little stronger. A little more stronger in the original feelings that I had. My mind is not changed about anything. Let me say this: I say the mind is not changed. I keep saying my mind, but I know it's not mine, it belongs to everybody. And so does the family that they try to blame me for and say it's mine. It's not mine. It's yours.
KK: The idea of a group of people associated as they were when you were out of jail does put a scare into some people. Do people have anything to fear from Charlie Manson's friends"?
CM: Sure. Sure, they do. Yes, definitely.
KK: Is that a direct fear or just a fear that they might expose something?
CM: A fear that they might do some positive things. A lot of the negative people would definitely be afraid. The negative people would be scared. The ones that are wrong. You see, if someone does something to you, then they fear you. If no one does anything to you, they have no reason to fear you. If they've never done you any wrong, then why should they be afraid of you?
I think somebody calls that karma, don't they? And they keep burning me up and saying my karma's bad. And I keep looking at them and smiling. But then I see two or three thousand dead bodies laying around all burned up and I say, "Oh, somebody's karma wasn't right there. Maybe somebody did something wrong."
And everybody's been trying to kill me for the last fifteen years. They've handcuffed me and drove me up and down these hallways up into all kinds of things that nobody wants to know about. Nobody wants to see. "We'll just take this one over in the corner."
It's like this: you're walking down the street and you see four or five guys kicking a guy, and four or five guys jumping on this guy and beating him up, and you don't do anything. You just run and hide. So when it comes your turn, and four or five guys jump on you and start beating you up and you don't get no help, then you ain't got no gripe coming. You can't gripe about it because you had your chance and you didn't help somebody. So when it come your turn to get help — in other words, concern goes beyond what you buy and sell. You don't buy concern and sell concern, not genuine concern. Genuine concern is genuine. It's from the heart. And if you people in the United States have no heart, then that's not my fault, you dig? I have one. And that's my friends. And that's my family.
You could call that the world, or you could call it a little group of people that was struggling to save the world. They didn't want the world blown up. They seen the big bombs drop, and they said, "Please don't blow the world up. We don't want to blow the world up." And we didn't blow the world up. And we're not going to blow the world up. And that's our love. We give you the world. And we didn't blow it up.
Now the next generation got it. Now your job is the air, water, trees and wildlife. If you don't save your air, water, trees and wildlife, all of our efforts mean nothing because what good is the world without life on it? We didn't blow it up. We saved it. We stopped it, we checked the nuclear buttons. Now we're disarming this, and we're putting that on one computer, and we're coming back through the space wars where we're going to check out all them computers and stop all them to where we can get one sky. And then we got one sky coming with great ships, big airships coming, where we're going to cut down all the pollution. We've already got these things in motion. We've got things in motion that you don't even know about. You're watching on TV and you think they're science fiction. [Laughs] But we were sincere, and we still are sincere.
When I say we, I don't say as if I pass out membership cards to say who "we" is. "We" is any human being that loves their life and wants to live on earth. Any human being that wants to quit eating flesh and blood with their teeth and start living where life is and not living where all the self-destructive madness that was left over from some war that's already been fought and in the graveyards. Most people, their minds are in the graveyards. Their whole behavior patterns have been set by people that are gone. Mark Twain.
KK: During our conversation, you disavowed this idea that you were the leader of a religious cult. Yet in 1969 Susan Atkins or Sadie Mae Glutz, as you called her, equated it with a religious order and called you Jesus Christ, and said that your friends, "the family," were the chosen few. Do you agree with Sadie Mae's assessment?
CM: It became something beyond my will. I never said this court is in order yet. I've never rang my courtroom up for anything. I've got no judges on nothing. I'm doing what I'm doing. I'm a stubborn old tramp on the road. I'm a hobo, I'm a bum. I ain't got nothing to do with nobody. I throw rocks at people. Get away from me. I got thrown into this to the point where everybody would come up and say family, family, family, to where it even got in my mind. The Family was only a music group. We played in the corral on Topanga Canyon, and they said, "What's your name?" I said, "Call us those Family jams." So we were Family Jams.
KK: This is at Spahn's ranch?
CM: Yes. It was just Family Jams. And everybody there either took a part in the music, they were singing or playing or doing some sort of thing, sound equipment or whatever. We had cameras. I had a production company. We could have done anything we wanted, but all we were really doing was playing we were doing it. You see what I'm saying? We used to call that the MMT. And we would playact, man. It's all a big act anyway. You just playact different things. And then when this started correlating and other people started getting their inputs in it, then I say, "Hey, I got no control over it, guy." I can't say, "Well, the Manson family composed 200 people. They did so-and-so and such and such," because I never paid any attention to most of those people. I'm fixing my dune buggy. I'm doing what I'm doing.
KK: So there may have been some of your friends who were misguided?
CM: Each person was their own leader. And that family was theirs. The family that Sadie Glutz sees is the family that was hers. And that's her family. And that's real to her. And I'll tell her, "Oh, yes, well, Sadie, I got to go somewhere right now." And I'd be doing something else. And whatever her reality is hasn't got anything to do with me. It's the same thing. Squeaky [Fromme] got a family in her mind Each person got a circle of people in their life that they call their friends or their family. You got a circle of people that you run in? Would you call that your family or your friends?
KK: Friends, family. You tell me.
CM: All right, now, if you got arrested, they would say, "Oh, that's your family." And then they would arrest everybody you know, throw everybody you know in jail and try you for a whole bunch of things. And you become a family whether you like it or not. You're in a spaceship whether you want to be there or not. I got red on one side, blue on the other, green, gold, yellow. I got all the different girls that got busted, of all colors. We set that on Indian Mesa up in the Santa Susana Mountains.
And then you see all the people of the next generation come along talking about, "Oh, we're the rainbow people." And then you see Abbie Hoffman getting a haircut and Jerry Rubin getting a haircut and going over and telling everybody, "All right, now we're all rainbow people. We're not hippies no more. We're Yippies now, and we're rainbow people. And we're doing this for a $1.35. And we're getting rich again." They're getting rich off the blood of the children.
But some of the children are strong enough to get back through it. And when they get back through it and they see Timothy Leary, they're going to say, "Thanks a lot, Tim. You really did us good. You dumped us down a hole and ra,n off and left us, and then told on us and lied, and cheated. Now, you're a comedian, huh? Yes, you definitely are a comedian all right." And one day somebody might catch him in the alley and give him the end of a garbage can, what he's got coming. And then when he gets what he's got coming, you'll ask, "Did you have any reason to fear the. Manson family? Because you created the Manson family."
Now this wave of humanity that came in is coming back out now. And it's mad and it's angry. It's angry. It never killed anyone. It didn't want to kill anyone. It would rather give its life than kill somebody. It says, "Here, man, take the gun, shoot me." You dig what I'm saying? "But let them live."
KK: Do you feel victimized by what could have been termed the mistakes of your friends?
CM: No, I don't feel victimized. I feel on another level. Every time that they tell those lies, and every time that they perpetuate this damn "Helter Skelter," it adds more power. It gives me more power. But pretty soon you're going to have the whole world trembling. And I'm going to have the controls then.
You got guys now that got the controls, but they don't have the power. You put somebody with the power at the control and you watch the, little buggy rock. Because then it will be a whole different world. It'll be a whole different planet. It will be a whole different perspective. The bureaucratical bullshit will go. There won't be no more bureaucratical madness because we can't afford this. Do you realize what you people are paying for? Do you realize what your tax dollars are paying for? You're paying for a bunch of people that are all stuck back in these things doing nothing but walking back and forth hating it. So the next wave of kids is going to have to pay their debts. You dig?
Rather than change it the way it's supposed to be changed, they won't give it up..So we got to wait for them to die. So we wait for a whole wave of them to die. The last four doctors died of heart attacks. The other doctor blew his brains out. We got two more doctors that killed themselves in automobile accidents. So I got to sit here and wait for the medical association to die out again so I can get out. And then I can be sane.
But until then I'm insane. I'm totally insane because I put all these master plans together to destroy the whole atmosphere and pollute the ground. I created this big monster. I'm the white man, I'm no good. I'm terrible. I'm all the bad things. I don't see it that way. I don't see it the way other people see it. That's the way they see it. And that's their judgment. That's their circle and that's their family. My family, if they were all in here, I would just look at them and grin.
KK: You say that you have made some mistakes but these mistakes were just exaggerated or blown out of proportion?
CM: You say mistake. A mistake to me is just a lesson, man. When I fall down on the first step, I learn to take good care to grab the second step. And if the second step breaks, I don't call it a mistake. I just go for the third step. And when the third step don't work, then I skip on up to the fourth step.
KK: But some of your mistakes, you do admit, impinged on other people's lives. Some of your mistakes may have impinged on somebody else's right to determine their values.
CM: Let's split a hair there. The matriarch and the patriarch. The matriarch chooses mistakes. The patriarch doesn't know what a mistake is. There's no such thing as a mistake. Mistake —the word doesn't even correlate in my mind for anything. How's the universe going to make a mistake? How can God make a mistake? If you want to get to the words of it, you go to the ultimate. If there's one transistor, or one little light bulb burned out, then big planes won't fly. They don't make mistakes. The mechanics don't make mistakes. The engineers don't make mistakes. They work perfect. That's the reason they fly like they do. There's no mistake there. I don't see any mistake. I can't think of any mistake. I don't even use that word. If you got another word, maybe I might understand what you're trying to say.
KK: Acts that you did may have impinged upon somebody else. You certainly could agree with that, couldn't you?
CM: I see what you're saying, yes. But it's like this: you go to a ballet and you see the perfection in motion that has been passed down for generations. You see this perfection and it goes into your eyes, and it goes into your mind And then pretty soon it becomes a part of you. And you dance that dance. Is it their fault that you danced the dance? Does that make sense?
In other words, people come to me and they see me move. They see what I can do. And then they say, "Hey, man, I didn't know I could do that. Far out—you really move." And I say, "Yeah." And then they go around and they move like that. And then you see the kids all moving like that, and you come and you say, "Is it your conspiracy to make those kids move like that?" Because with the moves that you showed those kids, they went out and killed somebody. A guy came up to me once and he was freaking out on acid, and he said, "Oh, man, I'm going crazy. Everything is all f— ed up, man. The world is all miserable."
I said, "No, it ain't, brother man. Everything is all right. Everything is in harmony. Everything is perfect. Can't you see the perfection? Look at it yourself."
He says, "It is?"
And I said, "Yes. It's a nice day, man. Look at — the sun's out, and everybody's having a good day. It's a wonderful day. Can't you appreciate that?"
He says, "Sure."
I said, "Well, then, relax your mind, man. Get all that negative vibration out of you and go on down the road and have a good day, man."
So he came back two or three hours later, and he said, "I killed somebody."
I said, "Why did you come and tell me? That's put me back in prison, man. I don't want to hear what you did, son. That's your life. Don't put your role over on mine. I'm doing something over here."
"Well, you said everything is all right. You said everything is perfect."
I said, "Yeah, but I didn't tell you go do something like that. Then you're trying to give me the responsibility that your mom and dad should have. That's your mom and dad's responsibility. That's not my responsibility. I'm not your mom and dad."
Why am I convicted and thrown in the damn nut ward for fifteen years and tormented and tortured because the parents don't want to take responsibility for their own damn children? What kind of silly shit is that? And then the wedding ring starts falling down, and everybody is divorcing everybody else and then you wonder why the system is falling apart. It's falling apart because you didn't give me my rights down in the courtroom.
You didn't face the truth about your own children in the sixties. They weren't bad kids. Most of those kids were graduated from school. Mary is a history teacher. Earl is a marine biologist. Ray's an English literature major. She's not bad. She's skies, she's a beautiful girl. There's nothing wrong with her. Her mama had her all off on a bunch of crazy things that didn't make any sense, but she was working her way out of that. There was nothing wrong with that woman. And she didn't do any wrong.
KK: This is who?
CM: This is Mary. She's the one who got shot. She had the shotgun out there in the street and she was shooting at the cop. Patty Hearst covered that up with that Hawthorne gun robbery trip. You remember when Patty shot at the guns at the surplus store? Mary and Gypsy had robbed the store to get some guns to try to get us out of the courtroom. I was very indignant. I was very upset.
Let me explain this to you. In jail there is a reality. And the reality is if you go rob a liquor store and you know that you can get five years in the courtroom and you get caught, and you get five years in the courtroom, you got no gripe. You got no gripe coming. Go do your five years. You took a chance. You gambled five years of your life and you lost. So you got no gripe coming. When I was young, I would always be bitching about the system. I said, "Well, the lawyer did this and the lawyer did that." And the old man would tell me, he'd say, "Boy, did you do it?"
And I say, "Yeah, but —"
He'd say, "Ain't no buts. If you did, then you did it and that's all there is to it. Shut your mouth. Do your time. Quit sniveling. Why don't you be a man about what you're doing?"
I said, "Okay." So I lived with that philosophy. And when I stood in that courtroom down in Los Angeles, I could have explained this whole thing in fifteen minutes. And I told the judge, I held my hands up to him and I said, "I got no blood on my hands, man. I got no responsibility for this thing that's going here. This is not my fault. It's not my world. It's not my projection. The only projection that I. had into it was to get my brother out of jail, you see."
You see, a lot of you young people, even though you grew up in college, you still don't understand that courtroom. That courtroom is the court of the kings and lords of the world. We as human beings can invoke the ground here called the United States of America. And the reason our system has perpetuated in such a way is because all the powers of Europe and England and the monarchies and all those big people—we came over here and started another world where each man in the United States has that power because he has that courtroom. That courtroom belongs to every human being in the United States. And if you take that courtroom away from one human being, you've taken that courtroom away from all human beings. Then what follows is you got these kings and queens of yesterday, they're going to come and play croquet with your heads. They're going to take your courtrooms, they're going to take your money, and they're going to take your country. They're going to take your resources. They're going to rip you off in every way you can think of because you didn't give your own children the benefit of the courtroom that your fathers fought in battle and died for.
It don't make sense. You send a whole wave of children over to die in Iwo Jima. They died, they bled, they gave their whole lives for this. And then you cheat the next generation out of theirs. You remember when the Vietnam veterans came back? What kind of country would try their own soldiers for fighting in a war that they taught them to fight in? You make sense out of that. Or this one: a veteran comes over, he's been shot in the leg. He's on crutches and a young kid comes up and spits in his face. He said, "Hey, son, I was over there fighting that war for you."
"No, you wasn't fighting for me."
He says, "Well, you still got the supermarket, don't you? You're still speaking English, ain't you? You got the streets. Are you a Christian?" I say, "What else could I be, like it
He says, 'What do you mean?"
"I was born in a Christian hospital, I walked on Christian streets. We have Christian armies, Christian governments, Christian—everything here in the United States is Christian, so how could I be anything else?" It's free because of religious freedom. We earned the religious freedom. So when I see Barbara Rondass walking by or somebody like that, I accept them. I don't throw fire on them. I got my rights. And if I ain't got them, thenyou have reason to fear Manson. You have reason to have fear of the snake because it's coming back at you and it's going to bite. And it hasn't got anything to do with me personally. They say, "Well, this is you doing this." I say, "Now, how could I be doing this?" Someone raises up in Indiana and they kill ten people. There's five or six people killed in Georgia. Two or three people was killed in Texas. And a couple of more people killed over here. And then they say, "You're doing all this." I'm doing all this because you didn't do right. Take it back to the D.A. Ask the D.A. why he sold you all down the river. And then he came back in his big, old, two - or three hundred thousand automobile with his five - or six- or seven - million dollar pad. He's kicked back. He's not a D.A. He just used that as a steppingstone to go to bigger things and better things.
KK: Are you saying you feel that crimes in America and murders are being blamed on you?
CM: Oh, certainly, sure. They've got devil cults and they've achieved all kinds of madness behind this. They've got all kinds of things going that are unreal. I have big powers. I look at people and I say, "I got power in my eyes. Unlock the door." And they say no. And I say, "Well, you never can believe what you see in those newspapers." I'm supposed to be some kind of a—come on, man. It's a big act. The goddamned thing's a f— ing act, man. Even what I said right then is a f— ing act. Everything is an act. It's all an act.
The only thing that's not an act, the only thing that makes reality, is death. And then they hang it on a cross and kneel down and pray to it. That's the only reality they understand. If you kill eight or ten people and you throw blood all over and you say, "Now you see what I'm saying?" they say, "Oh, we see what you're saying." And they still don't see what you're saying.
Can you imagine why we fought the Second World War? Do you know why?
KK: Tell me.
CM: We still don't know why. But how many people died? We won the war. We lost the principle. The principle is still there. The problems are still there. But then it falls back on me. I'm just one dingding. I ain't got no bell. Or I got a bell, but I'm not going to ring it.
KK: At one time you mentioned Richard Nixon. He at one time said that you were nothing more than "a murderer . . . who was a glamorous figure." Do you see yourself as a glamorous figure?
CM: I don't see myself as anything. I haven't opened this courtroom. I ain't got no judges on myself. Here's the thing, man. You got to realize I was raised for one thing: survive. That's all I know. That's all I've learned. I'm like—I'm the zoo looking at you. And if you come in my cage wrong, I will eat you. I will bite you. I will tear you to pieces. If you come in right, okay. If you come in wrong, then I got to do whatever I got to do. I am vicious. am terrible. I am awful if I am provoked. You can call that devil. You can call it Satan. You can call it God. You can call it anything you want.
But don't invoke me. Because if you invoke me then you got another war. You just stopped one war. You don't need another war. If they're going to have another war, you dig, I don't want to be no part of no war, man. I don't want to be a part of hurting nobody. I don't like to get hurt. I don't want to hurt nobody. I don't want to die, therefore I don't want to kill nobody. You dig? Even though in my own spiritual self I know there's no such thing as "die." It's a game. Life and death is one. And the changes that I have been —
But I am a little beyond time in the minds of a lot of people that haven't been in jail as long as I have. You got to consider 36 years in jail is a long time. Some people can't survive a year in jail. They go crazy. I have sat for 15 years looking at the world with the cockroaches. I sit there. I don't read books. I don't watch TV. I don't listen to radio.
In fact, your station is the only station I listen to. And I listen to "Hearts and Space" on Sunday. And I catch a few of your news programs. A lot of your news programs, they're not in balance to what on the road I can see on. I can see that they're getting the information and they're talking from fear a lot of times. They're talking because they're scared of something. Fear's got their minds set in some direction. You had a woman over there in your radio station. She used to get up there and say, "I was working with the CIA and the FBI and so on." That would get me killed down here. They kill rats in here. They kill people like that. She's up there just, "It's okay." It's okay if Sharon Tate's mother gets up and says, "I wish someone would kill Charlie Manson." What if I get up two or three guys and I say, "I hope someone kills Sharon Tate's mother"? I think she would lose. If she wanted to play a battle like that, I think she would end up second best. But I don't want to do that.
You say, 'Well, what do you do? She said that she hopes someone kills you." I say, "Tell her, why don't she come?" Why don't she come and do it? Why don't she come and do it? I never hurt her daughter. I never even thought about her daughter. I didn't care about her daughter. She lost her daughter in the Second World War.
KK: How do you relate to other prisoners? Do you interact with other prisoners? Do you have friends here?
CM: Sure, there are a lot of good fellows in here. Got a lot of good brothers in jail. My family's in jail. If I was raised up in prison, where's my family? If I got a family, where's it at? If you came up and say, "All right, here's your family. Take it. You're in charge of the family."
I say, "Okay."
And they say, "It's your family." I say, "All right." Well, who raised me?
CM: Policemen raised me, convicts raised me. Administrators raised me. I'm an inside person. They did a thing on Star Trek that was like that. That had a parallel universe. They had these two guys and they had to get the one guy on the other side. Well, I'm like a parallel universe in a lot of ways because I don't fit what you guys do. And I never tried, even though I see over the edge. I'm looking up over Universal Studios, and I see up over Malibu. And I see all the way over to Ireland. I see the IRA and the Briscoe Bay and the bomp, bomp, bomp. And then I get on my bike and I go back in the mountains, and I smoke a little grass and play a lot of music. And if anybody comes, I'll say, "Hi," and they say, "Hi."
They say, "How are you?"
I say, "How are you?"
They say, "I'm fine."
I say, "I'm fine."
They say, "I like you."
I say, "I like you."
They say, "I don't like you."
I say, "Okay, I don't like you." I just learn to reflect people back at themselves because man is not working—why tell somebody? If you start informing people that are misinformed, you'd spend the rest of your life informing .people that are misinformed. I would feel I achieved something if we could stop the misinforming of people and inform them properly.
Jon Aes-Nihil has the audio version of this interview available. If you're interested, contact him.