Monday, October 30, 2017

Something Happened To Me, Yesterday

Something happened to me yesterday
Something I can't speak of right away
Something happened to me
Something oh so groovy
Something happened to me yesterday

He don't know if it's right or wrong
Maybe he should tell someone
He's not sure just what it was
Or if it's against the law

Something very strange I hear you say
You're talking in a most peculiar way
But something really threw me
Something oh so groovy
Something happened to me yesterday

He don't know just where it's gone
He don't really care at all
No one's sure just what it was
Or the meaning and the cause
- Take your partners.

He don't know if it's right or wrong
Maybe he should tell someone
He's not sure just what it was
Or if it's against the law

Someone says there's something more to pay
For sins that you committed yesterday
It's really rather drippy
But something oh so trippy
Something happened to me yesterday

He don't know just where it's gone
He don't really care at all
No one's sure just what it was
Or the meaning and the cause

Someone's singing loud across the bay
Sittin on a mat about to pray
Isn't half as looney
As something oh so groovy
Something happened to me yesterday

He don't know if it's right or wrong
Maybe he should tell someone
He's not sure just what it was
Or if it's against the law

- Well, thank you very much, and now
I think it's time for us all to go.
So from all of us to all of you, not
Forgetting the boys in the band and
Our producer, Redge Thorpe, we'd like
To say "God Bless".
So, if you're out tonight, don't forget,
If you're on your bike, wear white.
Evening all.

[Aside: This song has been described as "one [of] the most accurate songs about LSD”.]

The night I dropped my first tab, The Grateful Dead was playing at the Avalon Ballroom. Even without the acid, the performance would have blown my mind. All the strobe lights blinking and flashing in a variety of colors. The people in all their strange clothing looked like they were at a costume party. I flipped over the completely uninhibited routines of the musicians. And though I had never danced to that style of music, I saw that it was all motion and each person did their own thing. The music seemed without direction but created a frenzy in the listeners and dancers. Before I actually realized what I was doing, I was out there on the floor innovating to the beat of The Grateful Dead. I was wild and I was loose; I attracted attention and applause from the other dancers. The acid, the music and the loss of inhibitions opened up a new world for me. I was experiencing rebirth. Finally, in the middle of one of my dances, I collapsed on the floor.

(Attributed to Manson by Emmons, Nuel. Manson in His Own Words (p. 82). Grove/Atlantic, Inc. Kindle Edition.)

Ed Sanders in The Family also claims Manson’s first acid trip occurred in San Francisco at a Grateful Dead concert at the Avalon Ballroom in 1967.

“At a Grateful Dead concert at the Avalon Ballroom where he experienced the Crucifixional (sic) Stations, Manson curled up in the fetal position right on the dance floor while the strobe lights blinked him into a trance.” (Pp 14, 2002 Edition).

Manson left prison on supervised, mandatory release (not 'parole') at 8:15 a.m. on March 21, 1967. That same day he was granted permission to travel immediately to San Francisco and Seattle, Washington ‘to locate relatives and find employment’. By August 1967 Manson had relocated to 705 Bath Street in Santa Barbara, California.

If this tale is accurate the Grateful Dead concert at the Avalon, has to be sometime between March 21, 1967 and no later than late July 1967 and probably earlier than that.

The Grateful Dead played only three shows at the Avalon Ballroom in 1967: March 24-25-26. The poster from the concert (never a reliable source in those days) lists the other bands billed for that weekend as:

Quicksilver Messenger Service (Sunday only)
Johnny Hammond & His Screaming Nighthawks and
Robert Baker.

Eric Burdon and the Animals, who had a night off from their own 1967 U.S. tour, went to the Avalon the evening of March 26th. They ended up playing a short set using the Dead's equipment, one of only two times that the Dead gave up the stage to another band to perform with their gear (the other time being The Beach Boys on April 27, 1971).

I was not able to locate a set list from the Avalon Ballroom shows. However, the Dead were supporting their recently released first album and played both the Fillmore and Winterland the week prior so the set list was probably similar, although not identical, to the one below (most Dead fans could easily suggest substitute songs).

Set 1:
Me And My Uncle
Next Time You See Me
He Was A Friend Of Mine
Smokestack Lightning
Morning Dew
It Hurts Me Too
Beat It On Down The Line
Dancin' In The Streets

Set 2:
Golden Road To Unlimited Devotion
Cream Puff War
The Same Thing
Cold Rain And Snow
Viola Lee Blues
Death Don't Have No Mercy

(Set list from March 18, 1967 at Winterland)  

So sometime that evening, maybe around Smokestack Lightning or Golden Road, Manson saw God. Perhaps more accurately, Manson experienced the sense of being Christ, crucified. And far from just strobe lights, here is an indication of what he may have seen one of those nights.

"[Bill] Ham [who did the Avalon light shows at the time] like [Elias] Romero, came from  an abstract, expressionist background and liked working with jazz musicians so the lights and the music could be combined improvisation. For the dances he had to supplement the liquid projections, which needed one man's total attention, with slides and film to create a dance-hall-sized light environment covering two or three walls."
[And as for the film:] "Aside from the shock of seeing oneself up on the wall dancing in the same place the week before, the films were disorienting because up to three images were superimposed, as if ghosts were dancing through each other in an arbitrary space." Charles Perry, A History of Haight Ashbury, Winner Books, pg. 66-7, 2005)

But there is what I believe is a key moment here that is more important to what would follow: March 26, 1967 was Easter Sunday and, of course, Friday the 24th would be Good Friday. Assuming Manson was present at one of these shows, these, calendared dates, combined with Manson's childhood exposure to 'Christianity' would have significantly impacted his first 'trip'. Put another way: the 'set and setting' was just right for a crucifixion and the idea he was or had become one with God. 


For this post I will use the term ‘acidhead’ in the same way it was used in the first study cited below: to describe a chronic LSD user. In that study a chronic LSD user was described as one who had used acid on average 65 times with the lowest number being 15 times and the high 300 during the previous two to three years. This range seems to generally fit the description of ‘the family’ members.

The research strongly suggests that acid, LSD, played a significant role in 'the family's' acceptance of fantasy: the fable of Helter Skelter. It also may provide an explanation for several of the 'evidentiary factors' used by Bugliosi to convict Manson. Finally, it perhaps sheds light on 'why' Bugliosi offered those evidentiary factors to the jury. 


The studies researched concluded that acidheads were remarkably similar in appearance, speech patterns and what might be called their belief systems. Recurring descriptions appear in the studies reviewed, similar to those quoted, below. As you read them consider ‘the family’ and descriptions of them by Bugliosi.

“I sensed something else. Each was, in her own way, a pretty girl. But there was a sameness about them that was much stronger than their individuality. I’d notice it again later that afternoon, in talking to other female members of the Family. Same expressions, same patterned responses, same tone of voice, same lack of distinct personality. The realization came with a shock: they reminded me less of human beings than Barbie dolls.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 160). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

Bugliosi uses this observation to highlight his belief that Manson was responsible for this ‘sameness’. Through his teaching, Bugliosi claimed, the ‘girls’ had become ‘Stepford Wife-like’ women both controlled by Manson and lacking any independent thought.

If the research studies are accurate [I am not an expert on LSD] their demeanor, speech patterns and ideation may have been no different than a typical acidhead.

“They were a remarkably homogeneous group in their attitudes and showed only minor variations in their appearance.
Four [of 21] complained about a particular type of memory disturbance. They said they were no longer able to pull out facts when they wanted to. Daily memory for details was difficult for them. They described lapses or blank spots in their stream of associations. Three had difficulty in organizing their thoughts and talking clearly. Each would begin a thought, pause often after a preposition, and begin another incomplete sentence. In this fashion they would wander about a particular point, but were unable to define or clarify issues. In addition to this wandering and pausing, their concepts seemed vague, and their placement and organization of words unusual.

All of the subjects were very passive individuals, the men particularly so. All. in one form or another, stressed that anger was very bad and that they were peaceful. Several carefully avoided "stepping on insects." because it showed disrespect for life to do so. This attitude seemed to permeate every aspect of their lives. They did not play competitive games. Each individual was supposed to do his own "thing" and to gain his own inner satisfaction. There was a de-emphasis of any form of competition, a denial of any possible pecking order, and a purposeful negation of the possession of materials.
Over half held naive, almost omnipotent beliefs. One believed that thoughts can set fires miles away. Others believed that one can read another's mind and that inanimate objects such as trees, tables, or books, for example, react to their emotional surroundings. Statements like the following were made frequently: "A cigarette will not go out if people are arguing." "A desk will react any kind of violence in the room."
We found these chronic LSD users to be surprisingly similar in their backgrounds and to hold in common a number of unusual beliefs.
The abstract "thou shalt not" of the superego is transformed into attacking monsters or swords. The infantile wishes of the id are transformed into magical powers capable of performing miracles, or moving mountains, or of enveloping everything into one world of love and warmth. Consequently, the resultant personality structures are more child-like, in a descriptive but not a pejorative sense.
In the interviews these LSD users were found to hold unusual beliefs about aggression and magic. Before taking the drug they had been middle- and upper-middle-class youths apparently holding conventional beliefs. Passive, frustrated, angry with their parents and their own life situations, they began to use the drug, often in a conscious attempt to alter their unpleasant emotions. It is not completely clear what role the LSD experience played in their subsequent behavior and beliefs.
We suggest that the repeated intense emotional experiences arising out of the use of LSD provided a special learning environment which may have given rise to their unusual beliefs.”

(K. H. Blacker, MD; Reese T. Jones, NID; George C. Stone, PHD; Dolf Pfefferbaum, Chronic Users of LSD: The "Acidheads”, American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol 125, Sept 3, 1968)

This remarkable similarity among acidheads is noted by more than one researcher. An acceptance of ‘magical’ and ‘fantastic’ or ‘mystical’ beliefs was generally shared by all acidheads. There was a certain consistency in those beliefs. Many attributed ‘magical’ properties to inanimate objects and the physical world. They spoke with similar speech patterns referencing 'blinking' or 'lighting' on ideas and denied aggressive beliefs or tendencies, espousing instead concepts related to softer emotions like ‘love’. (Chronic Users of LSD: The "Acidheads”, supra.)

Of course, some of this may be attributed to the times and counterculture ideas rather than acid. Regardless of the source, rather than being unique to 'the family' and an explanation for their 'robotic murdering', Bugliosi likely would have found this ‘sameness’ among any other group of acid using youth far removed from Manson’s influence. 

Acid Speak

Bugliosi in both Helter Skelter and the trial focused at times on Manson’s peculiar phrases and statements. During the trial he made a point of drawing out of witnesses Manson’s ‘catch phrases’, especially those that showed:

 (1.) Manson as a Christ figure or the Devil or, as usually articulated by the witness, both Christ and the Devil
(2.) Manson displaying a casual attitude towards Judeo-Christian or 'western' ethics and morality or
(3.) those that hinted at violence and particularly, his 'strange' views of death.

Here are a few examples.

“Susan rapped on about a variety of subjects: Manson (he was both Jesus Christ and the Devil)***”

Q. “Do you think Charlie is an evil person?”
A. “In your standards of evil, looking at him through your eyes, I would say yes. Looking at him through my eyes, he is as good as he is evil, he is as evil as he is good. You could not judge the man.”

Q. “What did Manson say, if anything, about right and wrong?”
A. “He believed you could do no wrong, no bad. Everything was good. Whatever you do is what you are supposed to do; you are following your own karma.”

Q. “Did he say it was wrong to kill a human being?”
A. “He said it was not.”
Q. “What was Manson’s philosophy re death?”
A. “There was no death, to Charlie’s way of thinking. Death was only a change. The soul or spirit can’t die… That’s what we used to argue all the time, the objective and the subjective and the marriage of the two. He believed it was all in the head, all subjective. He said that death was fear that was born in man’s head and can be taken out of man’s head, and then it would no longer exist…

And Manson obliged Buglioli by using some of these concepts in court, although not in the presence of the jury.

"So I did the best I could and I took them up on my garbage dump and I told them this: that in love there is no wrong…"

"I can’t dislike you, but I will say this to you: you haven’t got long before you are all going to kill yourselves, because you are all crazy. And you can project it back at me… but I am only what lives inside each and every one of you."

(Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

These ideas or concepts were offered by Bugliosi as circumstantial evidence of Manson’s guilt and his control of the killers, especially when they were repeated by his followers. But are they? 

Studies conducted regarding the effects of LSD suggest these types of statements may be nothing more than expressions of changes experienced by Manson (and 'the family') to his world view or ‘awareness’ as a result of LSD experiences. Those same studies also suggest his followers, very likely, shared the same experiences independent of any influence by Manson. Finally, the research even offers a possible explanation for Bugliosi’s negative reaction to what I will call Manson’s ‘acid speak’.
Manson’s views are out of touch with those who had never taken acid.  To the acidhead, however, ‘normal’ society just doesn’t get it.

“The idea of mystical experiences resulting from drug use is not readily accepted in Western societies. Western culture has, historically, a particular fascination with the value and virtue of man as an individual, self-determining, responsible ego, controlling himself and his world by the power of conscious effort and will. Nothing, then, could be more repugnant to this cultural tradition than the notion of spiritual or psychological growth through the use of drugs. A "drugged" person is by definition dimmed in consciousness, fogged in judgment, and deprived of will.”

“The first characteristic [of acid use] is a slowing down of time, a concentration in the present. One's normally compulsive concern for the future decreases, and one becomes aware of the enormous importance and interest of what is happening at the moment. Other people, going about their business on the streets, seem to be slightly crazy, failing to realize that the whole point of life is to be fully aware of it as it happens.”

[Aside: "An early Digger broadside observed that after getting stoned and walking in the woods, we have to return to the world of society and its competitive games- to the 'silent-crowded uptight sidewalks with our pockets full of absurdity and compromise between cowardice and illusion.'" (A History of Haight Ashbury, supra, pg. 87)]

“The second characteristic I will call awareness of polarity. This is the vivid realization that states, things, and events which we ordinarily call opposite are interdependent, like back and front or the poles of a magnet. By polar awareness one sees that things which are explicitly different are implicity (sic) one: self and other, subject and object, left and right, male and female-and then, a little more surprisingly, solid and space, figure and background, pulse and interval, saints and sinners, and police and criminals, ingroups and outgroups.”

The third characteristic, arising from the second, is awareness of relativity. I see that I am a link in an infinite hierarchy of processes and beings, ranging from molecules through bacteria and insects to human beings, and, maybe, to angels and gods-a hierarchy in which every level is in effect the same situation.

The fourth characteristic is awareness of eternal energy, often in the form of intense white light, which seems to be both the current in your nerves and that mysterious e which equals mc2.

(Alan Watts, Psychedelics and the Religious Experience, California Law Review, Vol 56. No.1, 1968)

Watts’ descriptions of what he called the psychedelic religious experience contains many of the same themes espoused by Manson or attributed to him. Watts’ research into LSD was largely conducted when it was legal and before the quoted article was written. This was years before Manson experienced God on the dance floor at the Avalon Ballroom. Yet much of what Watts writes is thematically consistent with what Manson is articulating. I am the devil and I am God or there is no wrong, everything is right may be nothing more then Manson's experience of what Watts calls 'polarity'. His acceptance of death as simply a stage is not significantly different from Watts' 'relativity'. Manson's 'disconnect from 'normal society' is reflected in Watts' first characteristic of acid use and a disconnect from 'normal' society. 

The acid soaked....

[Aside: Kesey and his 'Pranksters' coined the phrase 'acid' for LSD much to the annoyance of the Timothy Leary crowd.]

.....'dances' (concerts and acid tests) of the era are filled with Watts' concept of 'polarity'. Perhaps to Ken Kesey and the 'Pranksters it was a 'prank' but it was still part of the experience.

"[There were] dancing, strobes, ultraviolet lights that made Day-Glo paint fluoresce all the more brightly, strange things written on the overhead projector and flashed on the wall (Anybody who knows he is God go up on stage.) and announced over the loud speakers."
"[There were four men [Allan Watts, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder] aware-even several times reminded- of their human limitations, each of whom saw no division between himself and God and who realized others felt the same."

(Charles Perry, A History of Haight Ashbury, supra, pg. 45-6, 155)

'Polarity' as Watts called it was a part of the acid experience. Being one with God and even going beyond that concept was a natural part of acid use and was articulated by acidheads as some sort of unity between the user and God. 

Moreover, Watts offers an explanation for Bugliosi’s response to Manson’s acid speak.

“We have no appropriate word because our own Jewish and Christian theologies will not accept the idea that man's inmost self can be identical with the Godhead, even though Christians may insist that this was true in the unique instance of Jesus Christ. Jews and Christians think of God in political and monarchical terms, as the supreme governor of the universe, the ultimate boss. Obviously, it is both socially unacceptable and logically preposterous for a particular individual to claim that he, in person, is the omnipotent and omniscient ruler of the world-to be accorded suitable recognition and honor.”

“If, however, in the context of Christian or Jewish tradition an individual declares himself to be one with God, he must be dubbed blasphemous (subversive) or insane.” [emphasis added]

Unafraid of death and deficient in worldly ambition, those who have undergone
mystical experiences [on LSD] are impervious to -threats and promises. Moreover, their sense of the relativity of good and evil arouses the suspicion that they lack both conscience and respect for law.” [emphasis added]

(Psychedelics and the Religious Experience, supra)

“Likewise, when- in the context of a scientific article- the writer reports, ‘Subjects experienced religious exaltation, and some described sensations of being one with God," and leaves it at that, the implication is plainly that they went crazy. For in our own culture, to feel that you are God is insanity almost by definition. But, in Hindu culture, when someone says, "I have just found out that I am God," they say, "Congratulations! You at last got the point." Obviously, the word "God" does not mean the same thing in both cultures.”

(Alan Watts, A Psychedelic Experience - Fact or Fantasy? This essay appeared in ‘LSD, The Consciousness-Expanding Drug’ David Solomon, Editor, G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York ©David Solomon 1964.)

Watts' explanation mirrors Bugliosi's comments: any person who thinks he is God is subversive (guilty). Any person who doesn't fear death but views it as a 'passage' lacks both conscience and respect for the law. He is a cold blooded being fixated on death. Yet literally thousands of acidheads in Haight Ashbury and elsewhere believed or felt exactly that and none were convicted of murder. 

Manson’s Brainwashing

From the first moment that the killers were identified the idea followed that Manson had ‘hypnotized’ or ‘brainwashed’ his followers in part through LSD experiences. Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten were, according to Bugliosi, murderous zombies.


“Yes, Tex, Sadie, Katie, and Leslie were robots, zombies, automatons. No question about it. But only in the sense that they were totally subservient and obsequious and servile to Charles Manson.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 482). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

[Aside: Of course, at the same time Manson’s control, if taken too far, could easily provide ‘the girls’ with a defense. A defense subsequently used to secure a mistrial by Van Houten (7 for 1st degree murder, 5 for manslaughter): diminished capacity. To counteract this possible effect, Bugliosi had two weapons (1.) painting the 'girls' as blood thirsty vampires and (2.) the ‘girls’ defense counsel who were, at best, incompetent.

An attorney is bound by a code of ethics that requires him to ‘zealously represent his client within the bounds of the law’. “His client” is the key here. An attorney shouldn’t give two shits about what happens to any other defendant in a case unless it impacts his client.

It is an untenable argument to suggest their was a unity of defense in this case. That is 'bull'. 

And if the attorney believes his client is incapable of ‘aiding and assisting’ his defense he should act in the best interest of his client and approach the court for a psychological evaluation to determine his client's mental status.

It is utterly inexplicable why Fitzgerald, Shinn and Hughes never attempted any psychological defense on behalf of their clients, especially after Caballero and Part had already set the groundwork. Remember Marvin Part’s comment to Judge Dell: “She [Van Houten] is insane in a way that is almost science fiction”. There simply is no explanation for their failure to act.

That defense, it must be remembered, however, would have one significant ramification: it would throw Manson to the wolves....but Shin, Fitzgerald and Hughes shouldn't have cared.]

Studies confirm that those under the influence of LSD are extremely open to suggestion, especially repeated suggestions, and that suggestibility continues long after the effects of the drug wears off.

“These results imply that the influence of suggestion is enhanced by LSD. Enhanced suggestibility under LSD may have implications for its use as an adjunct to psychotherapy, where suggestibility plays a major role. That cued imagery was unaffected by LSD implies that suggestions must be of a sufficient duration and level of detail to be enhanced by the drug. [Emphasis added]

“This study demonstrated a robust enhancement of suggestibility with LSD even at moderate doses. Those most sensitive to this effect scored highest on trait conscientiousness at baseline, possibly supporting the inference that LSD facilitates suggestibility by temporarily suspending the (very human) drive to maintain control of one’s mind and environment.”

(R. L. Carhart-Harris et al, LSD Enhances Suggestibility in Healthy Volunteers, Psychopharmacology, Volume 232, Issue 4, February 2015)

Long term exposure to suggestion coupled with a willingness to accept the fantastic as real may, indeed, explain the common acceptance of the Helter Skelter fable by ‘the family’.

But could Manson control the environment sufficiently to accomplish a form of brainwashing as claimed by Bugliosi?


‘Set and setting’ are important to a successful acid trip. If either ‘goes badly’ the experience can be terrible. Manson’s own initial experience, as described above, illustrates the point. The description, if accurate, suggests his inexperience with the light show and blaring improvisational music of the Grateful Dead coupled with his understanding of the weekend as being 'Christ' related may have caused him to experience a crucifixion experience and then withdraw, curling up on the floor and eventually having no memory of subsequent events- not a 'good trip'.

It should be noted that the Timothy Leary 'style' of acid trip involved controling set and setting and that concept is what made its way into the research every since. "To the freewheeling people who took psychedelic drugs the way [Ken ]Kesey did, this sounded like exactly the wrong approach. If you were setting things up to avoid a freak-out, you were in a sense starting the trip with fear in your mind, so freak-out might well be in the cards. The right way to go about it was to court fear itself by courting the unexpected." (Charles Perry, A History of Haight Ashbury, supra, pg.13).

The 'Kesey approach' also explains Manson's first trip. In Leary's world and the world of serious research a Dead concert was not a controlled set and setting. In Kesey's world the shock was too much for Manson.

What is 'set and setting'?

“Psychological set is here defined as factors within the subject, such as personality, life history, expectation, preparation, mood prior to the session and, perhaps most important of all, the ability to trust, to let go, to be open to whatever comes. The setting is here defined as factors outside the individual, such as the physical environment in which the drug is taken, the psychological and emotional atmosphere to which the subject is exposed, how he is treated by those around him and what the experimenter expects the drug reaction to be.”

(Walter N. Pahnke, LSD and Religious Experience, A paper presented to a public symposium at Wesleyan University, March 1967. From LSD, Man & Society Richard C. DeBold and Russell C. Leaf, editors ©Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, Connecticut, 1967)

If Manson controlled the set and setting, consciously, he could have ‘planted’ suggestions in the participants.

There are some indications this occurred.

“As with the others, I questioned Watkins about Manson’s programming techniques. He told me something very interesting, which apparently the other Family members didn’t know. He said that when Manson passed out the LSD, he always took a smaller dose than the others. Though Manson never told him why he did so, Paul presumed that during the “trip” Manson wanted to retain control over his own mental faculties. It is said that LSD is a mind-altering drug which tends to make the person ingesting it a little more vulnerable and susceptible to the influence of third parties. Manson used LSD “trips,” Paul said, to instill his philosophies, exploit weaknesses and fears, and extract promises and agreements from his followers.”

(Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 293). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.)

Certainly, Bugliosi believed Manson was using the ‘trips’ to ‘brainwash’ his followers.

At the same time, it is also highly probable that the group’s chronic use of acid together with the repetitive discussions of Helter Skelter could easily lead to a ‘fantasy group think’ among family members without any conscious ‘encouragement’ by Manson.

Acidheads in the research were highly receptive to fantastic ideas, magic, the notion a "table feels emotions" and a host of other concepts that almost make a ‘bottomless pit’ in the desert sound ‘sane’. In fact, any review of the literature surrounding acid use in the period is replete with these fantastic concepts:

"I pulled out my magic stone and asked it if this was the right thing to do. I flipped my stone and it said that it was."

"A resident of 1020 Page Street decided he was an orange, and bitterly resented it when people cast doubt on his orangeness- for instance, by asking him why oranges ate hamburgers."

"There was this dude at the Dead concert in the Panhandle who walked around for a couple of hours in the crowd before somebody noticed that his face was blue- sky blue, man. When they asked him whether he was Krishna he disappeared into thin air."

"People who are stoned on acid are immune to radiation burns."

All of this is 'insane'. Krishna was not at a Dead concert in the Panhandle and LSD does not make you immune to radiation any more then there is a magical kingdom below Death Valley containing the big rock candy mountain and yet someone at 1020 Page Street believed he was an orange.

It is probable this is how family members came to their shared view of Helter Skelter. The argument as an equation looks like this: LSD making the user more receptive to the fantastic + reinforced by repetitive sharing of the common fantasy + LSD enhancing the fantasy and suggestibility = Helter Skelter.

In fact, it is so obvious I can't believe someone could debate that point. How hard is it to convince yourself about Helter Skelter under the influence of LSD or, perhaps viewed another way what would have happened to the 'orange' if everyone around him agreed he was an orange. Nuts? Yes. But at the same time the occurrence of these beliefs does not seem that unusual among acidheads.
“These studies seem to indicate that some people experience effects that last long after the initial psychedelic drug experience has concluded. As well as increased well-being, these effects include increased openness to unconventional ideas such as those of a spiritual and/or paranormal nature. According to a number of studies, there are many positive correlations between suggestibility, belief in the paranormal, mystical experience and the personality traits absorption and openness to experience (Atkinson, 1994; Braffman & Kirsch, 1999; Smith, Johnson, & Hathaway, 2009; Thalbourne, 2010). 

"If it is true that psychedelic drug use can lead to long-term increases in openness to experience, as the MacLean et al. study suggests, then perhaps as a consequence people become more willing to entertain unusual ideas about the nature of reality, such as belief in paranormal and spiritual aspects of existence.”

(LSD Enhances Suggestibility in Healthy Volunteers, supra)

To us, the stranger aspects of Helter Skelter sound insane (and this is why we reject the Helter Skelter motive) or as Marvin Part said the Helter Skelter fable is ‘science fiction’. But would the same person who rejects the possibility that ‘the family’ did believe Helter Skelter accept as ‘normal’ someone who reports: "I m an orange." or "A cigarette will not go out if people are arguing" or "A desk will react to any kind of violence in the room?" I think not.

When we suggest the concept of Helter Skelter is too bizarre to be believable we are imposing our sensibility and logic (straight people ideas) on people capable of believing in actual magical spells and ‘witchy’ things, Hobbits, Middle Earth and other dimensions. We are acting like those people described by Alan Watts above in rejecting the acidhead's mindset because 'he must be insane'.

[Aside: By ‘Helter Skelter’ I mean Helter Skelter the fable or philosophy not the motive.]

At the same time, arguing that Manson ‘brainwashed’ his followers may be misplaced.

The science suggests Van Houten may have reached where she was during the Melvin Part interview on her own but arrived there at the same time as many other members of ‘the family’ and did so because she was susceptible to accepting as real, fantastic ideas, especially those repeated over and over as truth. This may be because LSD  'dislodged' her foundation in reality.

“Klee 89 has described the effect of LSD on ego functioning i.e., thought, motility and perception. Body image is disorganized, time sense is profoundly altered, and perceptions of others are distorted, resulting in the sense of "self"-perception being, by and large, lost. Therefore, distinctions between reality and fantasy suffer.”

(Rick J. Strassman M.D., Adverse Reactions to Psychedelic Drugs, A Review of the Literature, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Vol 172, No. 10, October 1984)

Far from the interview being some staged event by Part, everything known about LSD and the acidhead suggests, instead, that she believed what she said on those tapes. In fact, the Manson apologists' argument that they are a set up deprives the apologist of his best argument: she believed it.

The unanswered question is: Did Manson consciously use his followers’ suggestibility while on acid to ‘brainwash’ them? Or adding less ‘motive’ to the question: Did Manson’s natural tendencies- the con man in him- intersect with the drug, forming the ‘perfect storm’ so to speak?

It is certainly possible Manson was aware of how LSD made his ‘family’ ‘robustly suggestible’. He may have taken full advantage of this. Certainly, the repetitive discussion of Helter Skelter on and off acid may have ‘sunk in’ due to LSD use. It did with Van Houten. But if he possessed this knowledge, and given the enhanced suggestibility associated with LSD, while under the influence of LSD, it seems we would then expect the killers to be high on acid at Manson’s direction, immediately before and perhaps during the violence. And that was not the case.

On the other hand, Manson’s protests that he didn’t tell anyone what to do may, in fact, be accurate. He didn’t need to do more than drop suggestions. In fact, he may have done nothing more then ‘preach’. He may have added nothing overtly suggestive of murder and the clan, under the effects of LSD, could have easily adopted a homogeneous viewpoint. They may have acted without direction assuming the Helter Skelter motive.

Another problem with the 'Manson as the brainwasher' theory is that  while LSD use may have made ‘the family’ susceptible to accepting the repetitive telling of Helter Skelter, the evidence says Helter Skelter as preached to the masses didn’t involve ‘the family’ killing anyone until August 8, 1969. Murder was not part of the fantasy until the end. There is no time for either repetitive suggestions or even an acid trip. 

[Aside: From Van Houten’s interview with Marvin Part it could be argued the discussions about killing were more common than is generally described. Watkins and others also were certainly afraid of where things were headed, which lends credence to this view. There are various quotes attributed to Manson before the murders that hint at violence and, of course, Bernard Crowe was shot and Gary Hinman was murdered. But it does not appear that family- initiated murder was part of the Helter Skelter fable.]

There is one other significant problem with the concept of the Manson-brainwashed acidhead zombie-murderer: acidheads simply don’t murder people.

The Peaceful Acidhead

One trait of the acidhead, uniformly reported by every study reviewed, is their extremely passive nature.

“All of the subjects were very passive individuals, the men particularly so. All. in one form or another, stressed that anger was very bad and that they were peaceful. Several carefully avoided "stepping on insects." because it showed disrespect for life to do so. This attitude seemed to permeate every aspect of their lives. They did not play competitive games. Each individual was supposed to do his own "thing" and to gain his own inner satisfaction. There was a de-emphasis of any form of competition, a denial of any possible pecking order, and a purposeful negation of the possession of materials.” (Chronic Users of LSD: The "Acidheads”, supra)
That is not to say efforts were not made to paint a different picture in the early and mid sixties. Several early studies concluded that those either under the influence of LSD or after recovering from its effects did commit violent criminal acts and those studies even suggested the acts were caused by the drug’s lasting effects.

[Aside: I noticed that several of these studies were also funded by various organizations who likely had an agenda, such as the Department of Justice.]

A subsequent review of those studies that originally concluded that LSD had been the cause of criminal violence established that there was absolutely no direct correlation between the drug and the violence and that each incident was easily explained by non-LSD factors. (Adverse Reactions to Psychedelic Drugs, A Review of the Literature, supra).

Acidheads simply don't engage in violence and the records of them doing so (except the odd bad trip: no fire, no sharp objects) are extremely rare.

"We hold these experiences to be self-evident, that all is equal, that the creation endows us with certain inalienable rights, that among these are: the freedom of body, the pursuit of joy, and the expansion of consciousness, and that to secure these rights, we the citizens of the earth declare our love and compassion for all conflicting hate-carrying men and women of the world." (Prophecy of A Declaration of Independence, attributed to Allen Cohen and Michael Bowen, 1966)

So, if the peaceful acidhead is the norm, what caused the violence? That answer, I believe, lies in the very nature of the Helter Skelter fable and Manson's first trip.

Let me say at this point I’m not apologizing for Manson. I believe he is guilty but I do believe some of the evidence that convicted him originated in a fundamental misunderstanding of the 'mindset' or 'world view' resulting from acid experiences. Bugliosi and the jury did not and could not understand the acidhead's psychedelic experience.

I believe this had a prejudicial impact on the defendants' ability to receive a trial by a 'jury of their peers'-as Alan Watts noted [and I have edited]: “Moreover, their sense of the relativity of good and evil arouses the suspicion [in a middle-class jury and a DA] that they lack both conscience and respect for law.”

Frankly, that is not what a 'jury by your peers' means. It doesn't mean if you are an acidhead you should have acid heads on the jury. But here the jury was so far removed from the defendants' world that aspects of their lives that may have been innocent, were circumstantial evidence of their guilt.

Would the outcome have been different if this was not the case, if acidheads sat on that jury? No.

Why? Because as Ed Sanders [who doesn't footnote his book] has correctly noted: the trial ended when Linda Kasabian testified. He is correct.

There is a section of Sanders' book where he discusses Hughes asking Manson for questions to ask Kasabian [Aside: why is Hughes asking Manson? He doesn't represent Manson.]. He correctly notes that while all of the questions were 'interesting' none would change the outcome of the trial.

The trial ended for every defendant and every 'family' member ever, after, convicted the moment Kasabian described what she saw at about 12:30 a.m. August 9, 1969, 48 years ago.

For those who seek or argue for a different outcome or argue the verdict was 'wrong' or 'improper' or this or that defendant's right to this or that was denied  I offer this: Prove that what Kasabian said happened at 12:30 a.m., August 9, 1969 did not happen or give up the good fight. Any jury with any lawyer/pro se before it would have said 'guilty'.

I am not an expert on LSD. My personal experience with this drug is limited and occurred several years after these events. Some of you may have far more knowledge on this subject then me and disagree with some/part/most/everything I wrote. If you do, I issue an invitation: feel free to have at it and add to our collective truth.  

Pax Vobiscum and from where I sit writing this, Mahalo


One more note: this was written before Dianne Lake's book came out and lacking the energy to make major revisions I will add that if her recollection is accurate Manson did, indeed, control 'set and setting' consciously. He also used what she calls Manson's 'talk-tos' (while on acid) to repeat his philosophy- repetition. This became more intense at the Gresham Street house. It included repeated lectures on 'Helter Skelter' and included playing the Beatles' White Album over and over again. If her descriptions are accurate they strongly suggests an actual effort on Manson's part to 'modify' the beliefs of his listeners with acid. I have some issues with Ms. Lake's book. Either she is adding quite a bit to the Manson saga or her memory of events is clouded by the passing of time. I found many inconstancies both with other sources and the testimony/statements of witnesses at the time. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

The long awaited Dianne Lake book "Member of the Family"

The media has ramped up it's game on this book with television appearances, magazine articles and plenty of website hits.  We are all looking for answers to the unresolved questions about the murders and the Family.

Kirkus Review  did a piece on the book a few weeks ago and the book did not rate very high with them.  The most damaging things they had to say were,  she turns in a memoir that is courageous in spirit but long on self-justification and though firsthand, a minor addition to the literature surrounding the Manson cult.

Not knowing how well Kirkus Review knows the subject it's hard to say if this is a definitive review, just be warned that Dianne's book may not meet your expectations.  The book is not due to be released until the 24th and I have not read it, yet.

Dianne will appear on Good Morning America and on Nightline on the 24th according to HarperCollins, her publisher.  Both shows are on ABC.

Then on the 25th Dianne will appear on DR.PHIL.  This hour long show promises to be a more intimate look at Dianne and a way to get a feel for her personality, believability and sincerity.  We will update this post with a direct link to the broadcast once it is uploaded at their website.

Please check your local listings for time and channel if you want to watch in real time or record the show.

HERE'S A LINK TO DIANNE'S INTERVIEW WITH DR. PHIL.  It is posted in six different videos.

The first PEOPLE article to hit the 'net.

Manson Family’s Youngest Member Shares How She Was Seduced by a Madman at Age 14 — Then Helped Send Him to Prison

by Elaine Aradillas

Though it’s been more than 50 years since Dianne Lake was a teenager in the Los Angeles area, deep into the counterculture of the 1960s, there’s one memory that stands out to her more than the others: the first time she met Charles Manson.

“He was extremely intelligent,” Lake, now 64 and living outside of L.A., tells PEOPLE. “He had the incredible ability to pick up on other people’s weaknesses and their needs and their desires, and he could fulfill those.”

It’s a skill Manson turned to deadly ends, as Lake would learn.

For the first time in 47 years, she is breaking her silence about living with him and being the youngest member of his cult, the so-called “Manson family.”

In Member of the Family, a new book out Oct. 24 and exclusively excerpted in PEOPLE, Lake details her experiences falling under Manson’s spell — and, eventually, how she was free of him.
 In 1967, at the age of 14, Lake navigated through communes and love-ins after her parents, a homemaker mom and former-Marine-turned-artist, “dropped out” of society and gave her a note granting their permission to live on her own.

A few months later, she met up with Manson at a party in Topanga, California.
“I needed love and affection, and I needed a family. I needed to feel like I belonged somewhere,” Lake says. “And he perceived that from the get-go.”

For two years, Lake found herself increasingly loyal to Manson, even as he grew more paranoid and violent leading up to the days in 1969 that would terrorize the country.

Beginning on Aug. 9, 1969, over the course of a two-day murder spree (which Lake did not take part in), Manson and members of his cult killed seven people: Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate.

A year later, at age 17 and after being institutionalized, Lake found herself in front of Manson once again — this time in an L.A. courtroom, testifying against him and others of his “girls,” including Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten.

“He just looked crazy, but I was able to look at him,” Lake says. “I had been pretty deprogrammed at this point, so I felt pretty safe.”

 But many of the women, whom she had considered friends while they lived together, were still supportive of Manson throughout the trial.

“The girls with the Xs on their foreheads? That part always blew me away,” Lake says. “They continued to hang on, be groupies.”

Once the trial was over and first-degree murder convictions were returned against Manson, Lake tried to move forward with her life — marrying, raising three children and earning a master’s degree in education.

After 47 years, she finally felt ready to speak out.
“It’s an interesting story, but it’s also a cautionary tale,” she says. “I hope that my story sheds a little light onto this very dark time.”

A second PEOPLE article which includes a video not posted here.

Inside the Moment the Manson Family's Youngest Member Learned the Cult Was Slaughtering People: 'I Was Horrified'

by Elaine Aradillas

While the country was still reeling from the news of a two-day murder spree across Los Angeles that left seven people dead, a then-16-year-old girl named Dianne Lake was learning first-hand details about the 1969 slayings that would change her life forever.

“I was shocked. I was horrified,” recalls Lake, now 64, about the night she listened to Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten discuss how they committed murder for their cult leader, Charles Manson.

 Lake was not a participant in the violence. For the first time in 47 years, she is breaking her silence about growing up in the 1960s counterculture and how she wound up as the youngest person living with Manson and his so-called “family.”

In Member of the Family, a new book out Oct. 24 and exclusively excerpted in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Lake details her experiences as a young teenager falling under Manson’s spell — and, eventually, how she was free of him.

It would take months after the slayings before police connected Manson and his followers to the gruesome murders of Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, Steven Parent, Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate.

At Barker Ranch, a couple of hours outside of L.A. where the group was laying low, Lake could sense a change in the group’s mood.

“You have the [Beatles’] White Album, throw in a little acid and drugs and a little Scientology and the Bible and stir it all up with a madman being the dance master,” she says. “It just went crazy. It escalated into horrible chaos, and I’m so glad I was not a part of it.”

A year later, at age 17 and after being institutionalized, Lake found herself in front of Manson — this time in an L.A. courtroom, testifying against him and some of his “girls.”

“He just looked crazy, but I was able to look at him,” Lake says. “I had been pretty deprogrammed at this point, so I felt pretty safe.”

Once the trial was over and first-degree murder convictions were returned against Manson, Lake tried to move forward with her life — marrying, raising three children and earning a master’s degree in education.

Now she is sharing her story.

“I think the biggest burden was keeping it a secret,” Lake says. “I survived and prevailed during this dark time.”