Monday, March 27, 2017

What became of the "Hare Krishna" who burned Manson?

Some of you might recall these tabloid photos from 1994 when Manson was doused with lighter fluid and set ablaze:

We were curious as to what became of him:

Man Ruled Insane In Temple Stabbing

Thaai Walker, Chronicle Staff Writer Published 4:00 am, Saturday, December 2, 1995

Jan Holmstrom sat in a Hall of Justice courtroom yesterday in shackles the sheriff's department reserves for those considered too volatile for simple manacles.

A thick chain ran around his waist, connected to two handcuffs that bound his hands together in front of him, then looped down his body to his feet, cinching them so that the 47-year-old man could only walk in small, shuffling steps.

But Holmstrom was not the image of the raving paranoid schizophrenic that those who know him claim he can be. Having received psychiatric treatment while in jail, he sat calm and composed and listened intently as Superior Court Judge Lenard Louie pronounced that Holmstrom was not guilty by reason of insanity for the stabbing of a man inside a Cole Valley Hare Krishna temple in November 1994 -- an act Holmstrom has said he did for his God.

For a man whose life has been marked by violent acts committed against himself and others, including the shotgun slaying of his father in Pasadena over 20 years ago, the judge's finding was the most humane decision that could have been made, Holmstrom's lawyer said.

The ruling, which Louie based on the recommendations of three psychiatrists, means that Holmstrom will not be sent to prison for his crime. Instead, he will go to a high security mental facility that Holmstrom's lawyer hopes will provide him with extensive psychiatric care.

"We would not be where we are now, if Mr. Holmstrom had gotten the proper treatment the first time he got violent," said his defense lawyer Sheila O'Gara. "The mentally ill fall through the cracks. They don't belong is the criminal justice system, but there is no other system to put them in. The government has shirked its responsibility."

While Holmstrom was awaiting trial on the charges of assault with a deadly weapon and burglary for the Nov. 26, 1994 attack at the Hare Krishna temple, O'Gara and prosecutor George Beckwith came to agree that state prison was not the right place for Holmstrom.

Holmstrom was not given proper psychiatric care or medication for his illness, when he was serving time for the 1974 slaying of his father, O'Gara said. In prison, he sent death threats to family members and attacked guards and prisoners -- including fellow inmate, cult leader Charles Manson, whom he set on fire.

If the 1994 case had gone to a jury trial and Holmstrom had been convicted on the charges, the outcome would be the same as his earlier trip through the justice system, O'Gara said. He would be sent to prison, receive no psychiatric care, later be paroled and, without supervision, probably become violent again, she said.

Under Louie's ruling yesterday, however, Holmstrom can be incarcerated for as many as 25 years. His release will depend on the opinion of psychiatrists who will evaluate him periodically.

"Whatever sins were committed by Jan Holmstrom he has suffered like the damned. It is the curse of mental illness," O'Gara said. "Because he is medicated now, he is aware and living in a state of remorse. But every day he has to live inside his own head. Every day he has to live with Jan Holmstrom."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ed Sanders, Author Of Manson Family Biography, To Sell Massive Archive

August 28, 2016 8:57 AM ET
Heard on Weekend Edition Sunday
by John Kalish

Sanders wrote the definitive book on the Manson Family ("The Family.") He's currently working on a book about Robert Kennedy. He's decided to sell the assembled work on which he's based his research.



Ed Sanders is a kind of godfather scholar of the 1960s counterculture. He wrote the definitive book on the Manson family. He co-founded the rock band The Fugs. And his latest project is a book about Robert Kennedy. Now he's selling the massive archive of files he built over half a century to tell his stories. Jon Kalish visited Sanders at home in Woodstock, N.Y., and reports that the 76-year-old poet, musician and scholar has decided it's time to start thinking about retirement.

JON KALISH, BYLINE: Ed Sanders' archive fills 400 banker's boxes.

ED SANDERS: I have files on many things. I'm a compulsive filemaker.

KALISH: He could pass for a college professor with his bushy mustache and tweed jacket, sporting a button for Bernie Sanders - no relation.

SANDERS: This is a garage, which is packed floor to ceiling with my chronological archives.

KALISH: He's got them organized by date and subject, all carefully catalogued in a 200-page single-spaced directory. Attached to the garage is a small building that used to be his writing studio until it, too, filled up with boxes. Sanders opens one of them and pulls out a record of him performing a poem.


UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing) They were the Yiddish-speaking socialists of the Lower East Side.

SANDERS: You could send one of these to Bernie Sanders.


UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing) La, la, la, la, la, la, la...

KALISH: Three sheds on his property hold even more. None of them are climate controlled. One of the sheds contains 18 boxes filled with files, photographs and memorabilia Sanders accumulated while researching the Manson family.

SANDERS: Files and files and files and files.

KALISH: Manhattan publisher Steve Clay is handling the sale of Sanders' archive.

STEVE CLAY: I see Ed's archive as one of the great '60s archives out there. I love this one. This is a flyer. Protest against the rudeness, brusqueness, crudeness and violence of narcotics agents, a benefit featuring underground movies plus The Fugs

KALISH: The Fugs were Sanders' long-running band, and he's got their recordings archived too.


THE FUGS: (Singing) Well, I ride the left wing airlines, stirring up trouble at night, secret signs and secret deeds, I'm just a yodeling yippie.

KALISH: The band got its start playing at concerts and protests throughout the 1960s. That's also when he ran the Peace Eye Bookstore and became involved in First Amendment battles over obscenity.

KEN LOPEZ: Ed Sanders in particular was kind of right in the middle of a lot of that.

KALISH: Ken Lopez is a dealer who's handled the sales of archives belonging to writers William Burroughs and Robert Stone. He says Sanders' papers cover a crucial period in American history.

LOPEZ: Culturally and historically and literarily, this sheds a lot of light on important changes that were taking place. It definitely would be an archive with great scholarly value.

KALISH: Not to mention monetary. Estimates for the archive range from the low six figures to a million dollars or more. Sitting in his house, Sanders says the archive has become a part of his life.

SANDERS: I like my archive. It's a living thing. It's like a life form. It's like a big mushroom out there.

KALISH: The archive, of course, will stop growing once Ed Sanders sells it, but he's not quite ready to hand over all of his files. He'll hold on to some for a book-length poem about Robert F. Kennedy and for his unfinished multi-volume autobiography. For NPR News, I'm Jon Kalish in New York.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: Love Letters from a Secret Disciple

This book review was contributed by long time reader Jim Hayes:

Love Letters from a Secret Disciple, a psychoanalytical search by Sy Wizinski (Terre Haute: Moonmad Press, 1976)

This is an expensive out of print book. The contents are way out of proportion to the price which ranges from $95 to $250. The cover is a striking color rendition of a Manson drawing from the trial. It goes downhill from there. Perhaps the subtitle "a psychoanalytical search" is the tipoff that pages of turgid, highly speculative drivel is going to follow. This guy is an English professor? What, English as a second language?

The authors name is Saul Rosenthal and he was an assistant professor of English at Indiana State in Terre Haute during the 70's. He used the pseudonym Sy Wizinski 1.  It seems that he's alive as I cannot find an obituary and his web trace is very slight. He has two horrible poems in the Indiana English Journal 2 : "Lost in the fantasy of permanence, Oblivious to the dominions of decay, How can they know the daily grace of miracles"... yeah. Okay. All right. Furthermore, online I found an inscribed copy reading "from Saul Rosenthal" so I feel secure in identifying the true name of the author. 3

Rosenthal knew a woman who started corresponding with Manson in 1969 at age 13. In 1975 after Ms. Fromme attempted to assassinate President Ford; the FBI showed up and grabbed all the letters as "evidence". The woman he calls Beatrice managed to keep some back and this book reprints their transcripts. There's nothing really spectacular here; the usual cryptic Manson missives about God, love and saving the planet. One hard piece of information is that Manson asks "Beatrice" to write his friends Steve Grogan, Larry Jones and Bob Beausoleil in December of 74. Furthermore from a letter of March 75, Manson gives each of the Family a name as an occult flash point.

This seems to be the "Suckatash Sister" reference from Sanders and it reads more astrological and elemental than he reveals. 4 "Lyn 3 Red as Scarlet Mars iron amethyst Aries Q of red Sandie 4 Blue Saturn onyx Capricorn Queen of Sky Blue Sue 5 Mercury jasper Virgo Q of Violet Katy 6 yellow Venus Diamond Libra Babas 5 light 7 Queen of light…" (p.113)

Ironically, the items he used to pad the book are now its main value. He includes an interview from the LA Free Press with a sympathetic writer just before the trial that details Manson's confinement. 6 Next is an unrevealing telephone interview with another underground LA magazine "Tuesday's Child". 7 This resulted in Manson getting his phone privileges revoked.

What really should be revoked is the long, confusing opening essay to Manson's off reprinted final court statement. Good lord! Wizinsky starts by quoting the English Catholic cardinal and theologian John Henry Newman (1811-1890) and meanders onto Sacco & Vanzetti, James Thurber (?), climaxing with a panegyric about Ralph Nader!  Wizinsky should be on trial for his wandering metaphors and touchstones that attempt to bring the Manson case (and Wizinsky's "spectacular" insights) towards the status of universal myth. John Henry Newman's autobiography can be compared to Manson's soliloquy? Really?

Historically, the most important letter is printed next. It's an unsigned "Pro-Family" letter from the LA Press which served as an introduction to Manson's famous letter to Leary. 8

"Brothers and sisters", it reads, explaining that Manson's words have been shut out of the media dialogue even amongst the "underground" press. The letter goes on about the "machine" of society: the media industrial prison complex. 9 It links up Manson to the wave of activism then flourishing in "San Quentin, Soledad, LA County Jail and Sybil Brand".  What's interesting is the context of comparing The Family to other autonomous anti-establishment tribes such as the Weathermen, Mel Lyman's Fort Hill Community and the Black Panthers. 10 Of course Manson's letter to Leary was prompted by Leary's Weathermen assisted prison breakout and the subsequent "kill a robot policeman" statement. Whether you see any affinity between the forces of the militant left and The Family you can be sure that the authorities did. This was emphasized in the security for the trial and the prisoner transfers.11

Finally, he reprints a sad interview with Manson's mother just before the verdict. She mentions wishing that Manson got some psychiatric help. It's really poignant actually. 12

The author ends with an "open letter to Charles Manson" that is just off the charts in terms of bizarro-land commentary. His use of fifty cent words and convoluted thinking show not only his ego but his lack of understanding of the subject. How Manson could understand this tortured logic peppered with polysyllables and far-fetched literary references is inconceivable. Between the fully orgasmic prose and the copyright issues; it's no surprise this book was never reprinted.

Luckily, Lynette Fromme gets the last word in via a photocopied letter: "we live in a very magic world…everyone does…but not everyone knows it!"

1 Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1976: July-December
2 volume 9 number 4 Summer 1975
3 I found this on Princeton but the listing is now gone! 
4 The Family, Sanders, Ed. (NY Thunder's Mouth: 2002) p. 482
5 I'm not sure who Babas is.
6 LA Free Press: "First Interview with Charles Manson in Jail"; 30 Jan 70. Michael Hannon.
7 Tuesday's Child: interview 1970. Steve Alexander.
8 LA Free Press: 9 Oct 70.
9 My own words which I hope convey the drift.
10 The author drags in the SLA as well.
11 At the time the authorities didn't realize the Kenneth Como connection or at least didn't prepare.
12 LA Times 26 Jan 71 "Manson's Mother Talks of his Early Life" by Dave Smith.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ten TLB "What Ifs?"

Parallel Universes

I generally don't indulge in "what if?" scenarios, preferring much more to live in a world of "what is”— if I can. But occasionally I wonder how the whole TLB/"Manson Family" experience would have played out if certain things had happened differently. For examples:

1.  What if Winifred Chapman had decided to spend the night of August 8-9, 1969 at 10500 Cielo Drive? Would her murder -- that of a black woman --  have thrown a clog into any "Helter Skelter" scenario?

2.  What if the Kotts' party had broken up an hour or so later and the departing guests had encountered Charles "Tex" Watson cutting the phone lines into 10050 Cielo Drive or the bloodstained killers exiting the property after they committed the murders there?

3.  What if Rudolf Weber had been a little more proactive and had gone to the police with his recollection (including license number of vehicle) of a suspicious group of young people using his hose on the night and in close proximity of a mass murder? (Weber's home was almost two miles from Cielo Drive but it was off the same main road -- Benedict Canyon Drive -- that any hypothetical killers would have likely used coming and going from the crime.)

4.  What if the "members" of "the Family" had scattered with the four winds after their departure from Spahn's Movie Ranch in September of 1969 instead of sticking together and being arrested en masse at Barker Ranch in mid-October? Would the concept of a fanatical group of murderous hippies been a harder sell to the public and a jury?

5.  What if Susan Atkins had not confessed her role in the Tate-LaBianca murders to her fellow inmates at Sybil Brand? In what other ways could/would the case have been solved?

6.  What if Susan Atkins had not repudiated her grand jury testimony and gone on to testify for the prosecution during the murder trial? Would the more "innocent" Linda Kasabian have been convicted of murder?

7.  What if Charles "Tex" Watson had been extradited to California in time to be tried along with Charles Manson and the three girls? Would that have changed the whole "Manson as demonic puppeteer" theme?

8.  What if Charles Manson had been allowed to defend himself during his murder trials? How do you think he would have handled witnesses like Linda Kasabian and Paul Watkins?

9.  What if Manson (or any of his codefendants) had demanded a separate trial? Could any of them have gotten a better deal for themselves if they had pursued their defenses individually and self-centeredly, with only their own welfare as their primary concern?

10.  What if the California Supreme Court had not abolished the death penalty in1972 and the convicted killers had been executed shortly after the conclusions of their trials? Would public fascination in the case be less than it is today because the players would not have been as much of an ongoing part of the American consciousness as they have been for all these decades?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Bernard Crowe: those present at the shooting

Little by little we are dissecting the Bernard Crowe incident.  Nailing down who was present has been difficult due to no one being sure that the names given are true names.  We do know that Luella in Tex's version is Rosina Kroner.  Ed Sanders has proffered some names but with pretty much no sourcing.

The court testimony gives us the names Jim, Del and Steve who are associates of Crowe.  But who are Jim, Del and Steve?

Here is an excerpt from Ed Sanders The Family that gives us a clue who a couple of the people might be.  2002 PB edition pages 148-9

Next are pages of court testimony where Lotsapoppa is discussing Del beginning at the very bottom of the first page.

According to the testimony it was Del who set up Lottsapoppa with Rosina, Lottsapoppa had not previously known Rosina.  

When I first read the testimony I thought to myself that Lottsapoppa was probably saying that Del was dead because he didn't want to involve him any further.  Turns out I was wrong.

Ziggyosterberg and I kidded around, in the last Crowe post, that Dale Fimple in Sanders narrative did not sound like a real person.  Turns out Sanders was right this time!

This is what I found.

What's in this article is essentially what Crowe stated in his testimony, down to the girl named Chris who Crowe says was in the accident where "Del" was killed.  I do not believe that Chris was Fimple's wife even though she gave her last name as Fimple to the hospital.

A little more on Dale Fimple.

Where Sanders got the information about what Dale said about Charlie's "ritualistic dance" and the description of how the shooting went down is anybody's guess.  Dale was dead at by November 23rd 1969, before the public learned that Charlie was involved.  He could not have learned it from Dale directly.

You may have noticed the last name of Scorpi in the above testimony, it's mentioned twice.  I was a bit mystified until Dreath pointed me to the page in the testimony where that last name was connected to a first name.  Steve apparently is Steve Scorpi.

Unfortunately I have not been able to find anyone named Steve Scorpi.  When searching for simply the last name Scorpi at Ancestry there are a meager 20 hits in the entire US including men and women and none are young enough to be our guy.  I am leaning towards Scorpi  being misspelled by the court reporter as Crowe himself did not know how the name was spelled.  I believe that Crowe was probably saying Dale in his testimony but the court reporter mis-heard him, maybe due to Crowe's manner of speaking.  Dale and Del sound very much alike when spoken.

Previous Bernard Crow post.