Monday, August 22, 2016

Blurred Lines - The Legacy of Charles Manson

"Look down at me and you see a fool. Look up at me and you see a God. Look straight at me and you see yourself"

        - Charles Manson

"Carve your name on hearts not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others, and the stories they share about you."

       - Shannon Adler 

Today I am floating off an island in the Southern Florida Keys, watching the sunset thinking about life and things like that. I am happily cruising along without much of a care in the world, and then a friend of mine walks over and asks me if I am still reading about Manson. I just laugh, and he knows the answer. He kinda shakes his head, and asks if I will ever outgrow it? As I sip on an icy cold Coors-light, I start wondering about that myself. How and when will this subject come to an end for me? As sure as the Sun is about to touch the water, Charlie is going to come to the final end of his trip. Most likely, sooner rather than later. It makes me start to wonder about what the final legacy of Charles Manson will ultimately be? I ask my friend what the name Manson means to him and he answers, "Crazy cult killer". I guess that is the answer most people give. But, to me it just does not tell the whole story. Manson will mean much more to that when all is said and done. All of a sudden, today as I watch the sunset over Key West, I feel the urge to reflect on what it all might mean when Charlie is no longer around to be the subject of our discussion.

First a quick look at who, and what, Charlie will leave behind.

ATWA: Star, and Greywolf and those who still fall under the category of Believers. ATWA warriors. These are the ones I am most curious about? What will a young lady like Star do with the rest of her life after Charlie is gone? Does she really spend the rest of her life talking about a Man she really only ever met behind bars as if he was an environmental savior? This group includes those who are later life friends of Manson. Confidants, and those who have corresponded through mail and calls over the years. How will they move on once their motivator and inspiration is no longer around giving them small pieces of soundbites, or a few sentences to unscramble for hidden meaning? In any case, there will be a Non-Profit Organization registered in California which Manson inspired, as well as many people who consider him a friend, who will carry on his name and causes.

 The Family: Secret network of remaining family members loyal to Charlie to this day. We do not need to go into names. Suffice to say, a few remain loyal to this day. A life of dedication to this man has been a long, and costly road. Some have made many sacrifices. Some have gone to great lengths to remain as close as possible, even after all of these years. They get very little back in return with the exception of a chance to communicate with Manson. What to do, when decisions about life can be made without the considerations of how it affects the relationship with a permanently incarcerated man. How are they going to handle the first few weeks, and months, in 50 some odd years without this man they have cared for this long? Charlie will leave behind some people who know him personally and care for him deeply.

The Children: From the ones we know exist to the ones who may exist, and including those such as Matthew Roberts who think they exist. There will be those who aspire to the gene and those in possession of the gene. His real children will be the real legacy of Charles Manson. In any case, I hope they all find some peace on their own terms. Its a tough legacy to live with. We all want to love our dads.

Media: For sure, there will be a renewed round of interest in Manson and the TLB case after Charlie passes on to teach the children in his next life. There are still to this day movies, TV specials, documentaries, and books being developed about Charlie and his Family. Does that ever end? Probably as not as long as the next group is still interested. That brings me to.....

The Curious: Us lol. The Bloggers,researchers, TLB'ers. The people all over the country who go to various websites and media outlets to study and learn about this Man and what his group of friends were into. Will the end of Charlie be the end of this community? Will we ever be satisfied that either we know all there is to know, or that the rest we will just never find out? Or does the lust for more go on forever? How long will the public interest in Manson continue after there is no more Manson? My guess is the public curiosity over those specific crimes will be another lasting legacy of Charles Manson.

The Name: The word Manson in itself is iconic. It is my guess for the rest of my living days, at least, people will never ask "Manson who?" The name is forever etched into the American psyche. Stories will get distorted, and legends will grow greater, with time. However, the Name Manson will forever be a one word symbol of Evil and Horror. 

The Music: Of course there are the albums (Family Jams and Lie being my favorites) Then there are the songs and covers. From the Lemonheads to GNR, bands have been covering Charlies songs for years. Never Learn Not Love, released by the Beach Boys, as we know, was a Manson original. Did you know the actor Crispin Glover ( "Back to the Future"- and he played Warhol in "The Doors" movie) once released an album in the 80's and covered "I'll never say never to always"? And of course, there are Trent Reznor and Marylin Manson- who in my opinion took it too far, but who have both earned my respect over the years nonetheless. Charlie's Musical legacy is quite interesting in itself.

The Legend: Part of the lasting legacy of Manson will be the stories of the Guru on the rock under the stars at night  preaching to his children, then leading them in music and song, only to culminate the night in fantastical drug fueled orgy's. Isn't that the mental image we all paint of the times around Spahn in the glory days? There will always be a segment of the public who remembers Charlie for the legendary tales of Sex, drugs, and Rock and roll. The peace and love element of the 60's in all its glory, before things took a turn in another direction.

The Betrayed:  Look. For the purpose of this post, I will not argue the motive. But, I have read, watched, or listened to almost all of the parole hearings for over 30 years. When Charlie goes, there will be a few people in the clink who will feel like they lost their life to a lie. I will also not argue if they have valid points or not. I read, watched, and heard them say it over and over. They feel humiliatingly duped. When Manson passes on, a few people will wonder how in the world they gave away all of these years for him. What will be the legacy of Charles Manson To Patricia Krenwinkle, Bruce Davis, or Leslie Van Houten? 

P.S.- I did not include Tex Watson. If not for Charlie it would be Tex, deservedly, who would have the life-long label of Maniac Killer. Tex is very fortunate that the world directs their hate and fear at Manson, because Tex scares me as much as any jackass walking the planet. He is the much worse maniac than Charlie in my opinion. Tex just was smart enough to close his mouth and clean up afterwards. 

The Questions: Unless Charlie has a come to Jesus moment, it seems he is not going to have that sit down conversation where he coherently lays out for us what really went down. Another of the great legacies Manson will leave behind is the unsolved questions. Are there any more bodies out in the desert? Why those two houses? Who else really was involved with the Family and what were the connections? Charlie will have the last laugh in the sense he will leave a lot of us all chasing his story for answers long after he is around to offer any.

The Destruction and Carnage: Sorry Charlie this comes with the baggage as well. Fair or not, deserved or not. This is not a debatable issue as far as legacy. You don't get to chose your own. You can help create it. Which is appropriate in this case, because Charlie did- at least- that. Manson will be remembered, as well, for the pain, and anguish and death brought upon quite a few people. Part of the Manson legacy will be fear and Evil. To many- this will be Manson's ultimate and lasting legacy.

So, there will be a few things Charlie leaves the world when he moves on to his next trip. The public fascination will most likely endure for some time. In the eyes of the public he will always be the ultimate boogeyman. Manson will be remembered by most for Helter Skelter. Thanks to a best selling book, and he and his "Families" willingness to act out exactly the type of sub-human behavior that book described, Charlie will go down in most minds a mind controlling guru of young hippies. Manson and crew put on a public show over the course of that trial which will never be forgotten by anyone who saw, read, or heard about it. Charlie can thank himself for his own public legacy. Fair or not, He gave the people all they needed to see, and believe, that every word Bugs told them must have been true. It will take a revelation of epic proportions to change the public perception of Charlie Manson. And, Charlie is probably the last person who can provide it, and does not seem interested in the slightest in doing so. Which means that once he is gone there will be no one left to change what is certainly the prevailing idea of most people in the public: Charles Manson is the face of Evil.

As to a final thought about what it all means to me....

Blurred lines. Cheesy pop song playing on the boat I'm floating on. Hey, I hang with all kinds of people lol. But, the title is very appropriate to me. This subject has blurred many lines for me. And as I sit here getting super close to hammered at sea, I can imagine Charlie using similar lyrics to lure his young loves in lol Dancing around them and singing...

If you can't hear, what I'm trying to say
If you can't read, from the same page
Maybe I'm going deaf
Maybe I'm going blind
Maybe I'm out of my mind
OK, now he was close
Tried to domesticate you
But you're an animal
Baby, it's in your nature
Just let me liberate you
You don't need no papers
That man is not your mate
And that's why I'm going to take you 

cause your a  Good girl....

Ok. I am really high lol What are you going to do????

I started studying this case as a hobby almost 10 years ago. It amazes me how far It has gone for me personally. I never thought that anyone would ever know who I am, let alone that someday I would be sitting side by side with people who sit side by side with Charlie Manson himself. At some point my personal line started to blur. Don't get me wrong. It has provided some thrills. I have met some great people along the way. I have seen some amazing places like Spahn and Barker Ranches. I walked to the gate at Cielo, and stood at the bottom of the driveway at Waverly. Ate a terrible burrito at El Coyote, but met some legends in the process. However, whereas I question the thinking of those who take their personal relationship with Manson too far, I have to ask myself when I have crossed my own personal line with the TLB case as well? When did the line between reading on internet about a subject, and getting personally involved get so blurry? Charlie and his "Family" are like that house on the other side of town where the "crazy" family lived my mom warned me to stay away from when I was a kid. Over the years, my curiosity kept making me inch closer and closer. Emboldened each time I take another step nearer to the fire without getting burned. At some point you either wind up getting caught up in the flames, or you go up in flames. But, you pay either way. Yet, I still keep pushing forward. Charlie both scares me, and makes me scared of myself. I never thought I could do some of the things I have done in the name of getting closer to all of this madness. But the line has blurred to me. And, I ponder, if Charlie has blurred the lines for me, what of those who have gone so much further, and gotten so much closer?

That leaves me with this: What will be the legacy of Charles Manson to me?

I guess that the closest to an answer I could offer is that the Legacy of Charles Manson to me will be The influence Charles Manson has had on the people around him. From those he met and stayed with through his life, to those he harmed, to those who sought him out after his imprisonment, to those of us who feel compelled to study him so closely to this day. Good, bad, or ugly, it seems that Charlie makes a strong impression on every path he crosses. He has been the cause for many people to blur the lines of good and bad, and right and wrong, for a variety of reasons and to different extremes. I wont deny- Charlie has a strange pull. I have no doubt as disgusted as he must be with the whole thing by this point, it still brings a smile to his face when he considers how so many people still scoot a little closer to listen, and hang on to, his latest words. He must get some small kick out of the fact that so many are still hoping he will finally say something to make no sense, turn into some kind of sense we can understand.

My guess he is will never give us that final peace/piece lol. I think when his time comes, he will simply, quietly, head off into the sunset leaving us to sort it out for ourselves. And although I am no fan of  Charlie Manson, I can certainly dig that....

- Your Favorite Saint