Monday, July 26, 2021

Lynette Fromme: The Original Manson Family Member Who Tried To Assassinate President Gerald Ford

 By: Dominic Utton

Jul. 18 2021, Published 12:42 p.m. ET

In the summer of 1969, the idealist hippie dream was shattered when over, two hot August nights, Charles Manson’s “family” gang brutally murdered seven people in their own homes, including the actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time.

Manson was not captured until October of that year, and as the full horror of his fanatical cult was revealed during his trial, America reeled. Charles Manson was not just a deranged psychopath, but also an extraordinarily charismatic leader who had brought dozens of followers under his spell -- most of them young women. They would die for him, and they would kill for him.

His most ardent acolyte, and de facto second-in-command, was Lynette Fromme, who was just 21 at the time of their killing spree. And as authors Dylan Howard and Andy Tillett reveal in their book, The Last Charles Manson Tapes: Evil Lives Beyond the Grave, she not only remained loyal to Manson after his incarceration but in 1975 even attempted to kill the President of the United States. "Did Manson have a hand in Fromme's assassination attempt?" they write. "Almost certainly."

Lynette Fromme met Charles Manson when she was still a teenager. As Howard and Tillett explain, she, like many of his followers, was already deeply troubled.

"Fromme had been born in Santa Monica, California, in 1948 and was a good student at Orville Wright Junior High School. She was a talented dancer, in a troupe that performed at the White House, but developed problems at home and by the time she was thirteen, was no longer speaking to her father. By fifteen she had taken to burning herself with cigarettes and drinking heavily. She then left home permanently after a blow-out fight with her dad.

"In 1967, she was drifting when she met Charles. As Fromme recalled in her own autobiography, he introduced himself by telling her people in the area referred to him as ‘The Gardener,' because his role was taking care of ‘the flower children.'"

The couple, along with fellow Family member Mary Brunner, drifted through California, soaking up the “tune in, turn on, drop out" spirit of the times. Manson continued to develop his ‘philosophy' encouraging the girls to free their minds," write Howard and Tillett, “and encouraging them all to have sex together, so the two girls would lose their inhibitions. Through the force of her personality, humor, energy, and absolute devotion to Charlie, she would be treated as Charlie's second-in-command."

More followers fell under Manson's spell. By 1969 the Family would be dozens strong, and whatever hippie ideals they once held had been twisted into an apocalyptic ideology he dubbed "Helter Skelter" that culminated in the horrific events of August and a death toll that reached at least nine.

Finally, the police caught up with the gang, and on October 12, 1969, Manson's orgy of killing came to an end.

As Fromme had not been directly involved in any of the murders, she escaped the most serious charges, convicted only of attempting to prevent others from testifying, as well as contempt of court, and receiving only short sentences.

Even as the full extent of Manson's evil was laid bare before the world, Fromme kept the faith, turning up every day throughout his trial to protest outside the court. As the authors note, "Lynette Fromme, the Family's nominal leader in Manson's absence, and [fellow Family member] Sandra Good were among those still maintaining their curbside vigil. They knelt, still with shaved hair and X-marks on their foreheads outside the courthouse."

After his conviction and death sentence -- which was later commuted to life in prison -- Fromme remained devoted to her leader. She and Good moved into an apartment together and visited Manson as often as they could. And the self-styled "Messiah" continued to exert his influence over them.

In association with their work with the Order of the Rainbow, Fromme and Good launched the International People's Court of Retribution (ICPR). Ostensibly an environmental group, they soon began to show their true colors.

During a 1975 radio interview, Good claimed the ICPR had 2,000 assassins who were monitoring executives and their families of organizations that harm the air, water, earth, and wildlife. And, according to Howard and Tillett, their manifesto contained the following threats:

"Any woman who uses her body to control, or to sell products harmful to the people and the environment, will be viciously maimed. Anyone who advertises or manufactures food or drugs injurious to the people's health will be killed. Media executives and their wives who allow the flow of distorted sex and violence through the media into the minds of millions of people will be subject to the violence they have been selling to the people in the form of entertainment..."

Strangely, given their backgrounds, history of violence, and continued devotion to Manson, the authorities appear to have dismissed Fromme and Good's bloodthirsty promises as little more than harmless fantasies.

It was very nearly a terrible mistake.

"Fromme made her grand gesture toward environmental activism on September 5, 1975," write Howard and Tillett. "Dressed in her red nun's habit, she approached then-President Ford as he was walking toward a gathering of business leaders in Sacramento.

"Fromme managed to get very close to the president before whipping a .45 caliber pistol out from under her robe. She pointed the gun at Ford and pulled the trigger. Fromme, however, had not chambered a round. Because of this, the gun did not go off. Fromme was immediately subdued, where she cried out, ‘It didn't go off. Can you believe it? It didn't go off.'

"Later, when Fromme's apartment was searched, investigators found a single bullet on the floor of her apartment. More incompetence, or a deliberate alibi? Probably the former, but Fromme would later claim the latter."

Charles Manson, America's most evil man, and the self-proclaimed devil incarnate may have orchestrated the murders of nine people… but his original and most ardent follower, the fatally damaged "flower girl" Lynette Fromme, very nearly outdid him. Nobody has come closer to killing the American president since.

Fromme's trial barely lasted two weeks in November 1975, largely because she refused to cooperate with her defense counsel. She was given a life sentence and spent nearly thirty-four years in prison. She was released in August 2009 and lives in New York state. In a 2019 TV interview, two years after Manson's death, she was asked if she had been in love with the man who had made her a monster.

"Yeah," she replied, "I still am."

(Original Article)

Monday, July 19, 2021

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood A Novel - Review

"If I really considered myself a writer, I wouldn't be writing screenplays. I'd be writing novels."

- Quentin Tarantino

I was mostly disappointed with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood the Movie. I thought the Col wrote a really accurate review of the film. I was hoping for more from the Novel in a couple of key areas. More on Cliff, more on Sharon, and more Manson. Although the Novel did provide me with all three, it was not exactly what I had in mind. Only with Sharon do I feel he hit the spot on what I was looking for. While there was more Manson, and we learned much more about Cliff, I was left disappointed with how he addressed both in the book. As this is a Manson Blog - lets start there.

Tarantino took a strange track with the Family in the novel. There is more of the Family and Charlie in the novel than the movie, but they also play a less significant role if that makes sense? The ending of the movie is mentioned only briefly in a flashback type sequence about 110 pages into a 400 page book. It is remembered as an anecdote from one person to another. It is covered in two pages, and Tarantino gives as much detail about what the results of the killings were, as he does recounting the actual killing. We learn that the event caused Rick to get regular spots on the Johnny Carson Show, among other short-term appearance opportunities. Also, the Family is last mentioned with about a quarter of the Novel left, and they are essentially finished for the rest of the story. There are a couple more scenes with Charlie than in the movie, including a face to face with Sharon and Jay. As well, there is an interesting chapter with the Pussycat character where Tarantino gives us his spooky version of a creepy crawl mission that Pussycat goes on in an initiation event. Tarantino also takes a deep dive into Charlies music career ambitions. The Spahn Ranch scene from the movie is in the book, though slightly altered. Cliff leaves at the end without beating up Clem or anyone else. You also get that visit from Squeaky's point of view. However, much like the movie, the Manson Family is really not at the heart of the story Quentin is trying to tell here. Going into this Novel looking for a Manson story is going to leave you disappointed much in the same way the movie did. Albeit maybe a little less so, if you looking for more Manson content and are willing to sacrifice Manson relevance.

My favorite character in the movie was Cliff Booth. I wanted the Novel to clear up some things about his background for me, and I got way more than I bargained for. Cliff, it turns out, is a much darker guy. We learn how Cliff and Rick met, with Cliff saving Rick from an on-set fire. Cliff seems to have a very strange affinity for Rick, but outside of that it just gets worse and worse as far as Cliff's character. We find out that Cliff did indeed kill his wife on that boat. In a typically Tarantino violence on woman way, we are walked through how she was shot through the middle with a spear-gun. The back story on this event is very detailed and very gory. We discover that Cliff killed more people than any other US soldier in the War, and that he received medals of valor for his performance. We also are told that he continued to kill people after the war, in once instance just to see if he could get away with it. Cliff is also a foreign film buff and a critic of US films. He prefers the work of a Japanese film maker named Kurosawa. Everyone in this Novel has an opinion on film and music it seems. but more on that later. We see how Cliff came into possession of the beloved pit-bull which was given to him to pay off a debt. Cliff is clearly an old-school tough guy, but is given much rougher edges in the book than he was portrayed as having in the movie. In the book, Tarantino explains in the fight scene with Bruce Lee that Bruce is able to identify in Cliff's eyes that Cliff is different from other opponents. Bruce recognizes Cliff is a killer. This Novel makes sure that you understand that about Cliff. He is not the smiling charming buddy of the film. When I saw the movie I felt like the Cliff character was, if not a hero, at the very least a loyal friend and good type of guy. After reading the Novel, I feel like Cliff is more like some of the other villains in some of the other Tarantino movies. Think the Vega brothers. Cold. Lots of wit and one-liners, but ultimately capable of being very cold.

Then there is Sharon. The one area of this book that was exactly as I hoped was the treatment of Sharon. She gets more attention and focus and I loved it. We get to hear her voice and she had some very interesting things to say. Sharon liked pop music more than Rock. Sharon was a Monkees fan. Sharon liked Bobby Sherman lol ( Remember that old song - "Julie , Julie, Julie, do you love me") Sharon does not like the playboy mansion parties or scene, and in fact the scene from the Movie where Sharon and Roman are at the party at the Mansion is written out. At the end of the Novel, Sharon is on her way to one of the Mansion Parties when she talks Roman into having a pool party at their place instead. Sharon is given a chance to express things she could never tell her "hip friends", and she comes across in the novel as very sincere and endearing. As does one other female character....

Remember Trudy? The 9 year old girl who Rick acted with in the episode of Lancers? Well, Trudy is also at the very heart of this novel. Trudy and Rick have an almost love-hate type of relationship in this Novel. In fact, the Novel ends with a conversation not between Rick and Cliff, but with Rick and Trudy. We learn here that Trudy would go on to much bigger things. Trudy would eventually be nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film Ordinary People, and would go on to win the Academy Award for her performance in a Quentin Tarantino1999 remake of "Lady in Red." 

The novel opens up with a chapter reliving the conversation Rick has with Marvin Schwarz. Although in the book its not at a restaurant, it is in an office setting. I have read that Tarantino is also having this story turned into a play. The plot of the play would be centered around Rick's time in Italy. I have also read that Tarantino signed a two book deal. In addition to this Novel, he will be releasing a book for reviews, or critiquing films. That makes sense as there was plenty of that going on in this book. All the main characters had something to say about different films. Most likely Tarantino speaking for himself through his characters. Quentin clearly heard the criticism about Sharon's lack of a voice and adjusted for the better. If he heard the criticism about his portrayal of Bruce Lee, he apparently couldn't care less. Bruce is portrayed very poorly. There are plenty of references to all things Quentin. He references his other movies, people who have worked with him in the past, as well as his favorite characters and works. I had to laugh when one of the Manson girls called Cliff- "Mr. White." Quentin went into lots of detail about Lancer, and Jim Stacy. In one nod to himself, he even had a scene where a character based on his father runs into Stacy and asks him to sign an autograph for his son "Quentin."  There is lot's of nostalgia. The book itself looks like one of the old paperbacks you buy on a spindle while waiting on line at the convenience store. The last couple of pages are adds for old Elmore Leonard, and Western novels. There are probably so many things going on as well that are just above my head. Tarantino references so many people, songs, and shows from an era that was simply before my time. All for the low cost of eight bucks lol. Hell, How can you go wrong for that? It was an interesting read, and it only took a couple of afternoons at the pool to read it. One or two of the scenes are verbatim from the movie, but mostly it is Tarantino going into very serious detail about the films, music, and television shows he grew up with. It was not very fulfilling to me as far as the Manson stuff, and I walked away feeling disappointed about Cliff. I am not sure that personally I need to see a play. I was intrigued with the story of Rick. Cliff, and how they crossed paths with both Sharon and Charlie. I am not so sure how interested I am in the rest of it. It had a tendency, in parts, to get too preachy. You sort of walk away from this Novel with a feeling that you have just spent several hours listening to a lecture on the merits/shortcomings of certain work that is sometimes very obscure to an average person. He goes way into description of process and technique in some cases. It can work sometimes, like when describing Roman Polanski's way of filming frame by frame to develop suspense in Rosemary's Baby. It can also get tedious reading an entire Chapter about the History of Stacy and Lancer. 

Overall, I think this Novel is a decent supplement to the story when Tarantino is not spending too many pages on the most technical and mundane details of certain processes and backstories. I recommend this book if you liked the movie. It is a quick read for the most-part, and very cheap. If you are really into Quentin Tarantino, you will probably like this more than I did. There are many obvious references to his personal interests, so I am sure there are plenty of not-so obvious ones as well for the die-hard fans. I respect Tarantino, but never got that into him either. I think Pulp Fiction, and Reservoir Dogs were great movies. I think he made two other really good ones, and I put Once Upon a Time in Hollywood somewhere after that in my personal rankings of Quentin's work with the rest of them. I didn't love the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood movie, and the character I liked most in the movie was ruined in the Novel. But, it was fun in parts and I am not sorry I spent the time reading it. Bottom line:

Scale of 1 to 10 Coors-lights:  6 pack...

- Your Favorite Saint

Monday, July 12, 2021

A few more Spahn Ranch raid photos!

Hello everyone! Hope y'all are all well. It's been a helluva long time since I've posted on the blog and I have to say, I'm very excited to bring you.... absolute nothing, except a few extra photos from the Spahn Ranch raid of 1969 that I stumbled upon by pure accident. I recognize a few of the scoundrels. Do you? Could one (or more) of these photos contain the Manson Family's sweetheart, Leslie Van Houten? Is Sadie in there wearing a bandana on her head? How about Pat? Imagine what these girls had just done a mere week before? It looked like business as usual for them with those shiteous haircuts, neglected children and Charlie being tossed around like a rag doll by the fuzz. Au Revior!