Monday, September 6, 2021

Ear Hustle Podcast - Episode 60 - Leslie Van Houten - Home For Me Is Really A Memory

LVH's interview is hosted on the Ear Hustle website and probably wherever you get your pods. The creators also kindly provide listeners with a transcript of the conversations between Leslie and their hosts. The drawing below accompanies the piece and was made by one of the podcast founders, Antwan Williams. Williams also contributes to the musical score. 


 The bars on the window of the cell and van tell the story in their own way.  

photo via cielodrive.com

Personally, I don't think we need to keep people in their 70's locked away in prisons to ensure public safety. Nothing is up to me of course but I thought I'd share. 

I'm a sharer.

But if we must incarcerate our elderly criminals so there are never any doubts over who's running the show and et cetera couldn't we build a couple of facilities here and there to warehouse the old until they expire of natural causes? And if we already have that, why can't we put every elderly prisoner in them? 

I was actually working on an article about LVH this week when we discovered her interview. There's nothing that the readers of this blog are going to hear and exclaim "EUREKA!" over, but Ear Hustle isn't really about all that anyway. I didn't think I'd like the podcast, mostly because I'm a know-it-all and henceforth know everything, but they did a nice job and it won't kill you to throw them a listen and a like on their Facebook page.

A couple of things Leslie said caught my attention. First,  


Leslie uses "sobered" and "sober" once each. Was she dipping into the Gerber jar with the others? I always wonder who else was sampling the local products. 

And then this: 


You "believe" you gave it to the prison's investigators? Good grief. 

Copy the stupid letter. Send it around. 

I spent today with the LVH interviews and transcripts conducted by McGann and Part. All I can say is that a lot can happen in a month, I suppose. I'd like to talk about it with you next Sunday evening if you're online. -ggw 






16 comments:

grimtraveller said...

I thought that was an interesting and insightful interview. It gave one a chance to ponder on things from a point of view that we never usually get a chance to engage with. It wasn't clinical and forensic like the parole hearings are or the TV interviews were.

grimtraveller said...

You "believe" you gave it to the prison's investigators? Good grief

Some people say, "I think....."
Some say, "If I remember correctly......"
Some say, "I believe....."
Leslie was showing her age. Reading between the lines, that was in evidence throughout the interview. I can't recall the last time I heard someone use the word "tootle." Probably the 1970s or very, very early 80s.

GreenWhite said...

My first Grim comments on a post I created here. Swoon.

We all apply varying percentages of our anecdotal experiences to our thoughts about what went down within the Manson group. Which then causes us to assume...and we know what happens when we assume. Having drop that sanctimonious disclaimer on you, please allow me to assume based on past experiences lol.

Leslie (imho) is lying or at least being disingenuous when she says she believes she handed Charlie's letter over to her jailers. That letter is a smoking gun if she wants to show Charlie controlled her at one time, and could go a long way toward freeing her or making a governor believe her story or whatever. It's certainly shooting a better shot than sitting in your cell talking about man I was so young.

I wrote a much longer article about Leslie that is currently awaiting its turn in the blog's draft folder. Comments I've read by you and others over the years were definitely in my mind at times while I typed away the week. I look forward to your critique.

While I have a second, I want to stress to all blog newbies the importance of reading the comments that accompany the posts on this site. There is gold in them thar hills for real. A person can learn a lot with their lurk on.

Back to Leslie, Grim. I think she should be released both on the grounds of time served and her advanced age, but I think she's full of beans. It's not, "Oh, I believe I gave my uncle Alexander's haggis recipe to Panamint Patty."

Not when you wanna go paddle around a pond with some ducks and the other critters who live there.

Leslie makes me say, "Oh, Leslie," a lot when I follow her path through history. It's tough for me to "believe" that the dude who mind-controlled her and sent her out to commit dark deeds and murder supposedly random strangers would send her a bossy letter she couldn't use to her advantage.

Get that shit out there, girl. Free yourself.

Zeke002 said...

Man, this is great writing. Previous thread on my favorite Ella Jo was the best thing I have read on here in ten years.
Who is this magical G/W?
Leary

Buntline said...

I was always struck by the ending of "Helter Skelter", where Bugliosi says "my guess is that all will serve longer periods: the girls fifteen to twenty years, the men—with the exception of Manson himself—a like number."

Leaving aside the massive disparity between Watson's crimes and most of the others, it shows that even the prosecutor didn't expect the likes of Van Houten to be denied parole by cowardly California Governors, fifty years later.

I wouldn't mind letting her out, and putting Clem Grogan back in.

Speculator said...

I guess it’s far too easy to say let this elderly lady out of prison, what harm can she do, she’s done her time, if it wasn’t Manson related she’d be out years ago etc etc. But I always come back to the words of Doris Tate at one of Watson’s parole hearings. When do the victims get their parole, will they just rise up out of the grave if the perps are released. It serves Doris’ memory well for none of them ever to be released regardless of age imho.

Matt said...

Leary?

grimtraveller said...

Speculator said...

it’s far too easy to say let this elderly lady out of prison

For those that do say that though, what I look for is a convincing argument. I rarely see it as much as I see the emotive argument. Which, like the argument to keep the perps incarcerated, based on angry emotion, just doesn’t do it for me.

what harm can she do

That argument is as relevant as summer in winter. It should have been applied to Ed Kemper when he served 6 years for murdering his Grandparents at the age of 15.
Who knows what possible harm could come from Leslie ? But one has to take what she has presented of herself over the last 50 years and weigh up whether or not she looks like she could be a risk. No one knows.

she’s done her time

Yes and no. Her sentence was such that it could be just a few years or it could be that she died in prison a very old woman. It’s the kind of sentence that both dangles the carrot of hope and snaps shut the door of freedom, depending on the way the wind is blowing at the time.


if it wasn’t Manson related she’d be out years ago

All beliefs about parole aside, Is this really in dispute ? Previous parole boards more or less stated it. The DA's office representative always stated it and it is still part of their plan of attack. Just look at any one of the transcripts on Cielo's site. And the various guv'nors in their pushbacks state it and emphasize it.
To put it another way, when was the last {or even first} time an ex-Family member had a parole hearing in which Charles Manson wasn't mentioned ?

But I always come back to the words of Doris Tate at one of Watson’s parole hearings

And I always come back to Suzan LaBerge, Rosemary’s daughter {she once held authentic claim to the title of “Rosemary’s baby” !}, who forgave Watson. While I don’t agree with her that Watson should have been released after 20 or so years in jail, she will always be a cogent demonstration that even in matters of murder and parole, there are at least two sides to the victims’ story and that life is a continuum.

When do the victims get their parole, will they just rise up out of the grave if the perps are released

No offence, but that is a ridiculous point. Always has been, always will be.
Victims of crime don’t ever get parole. The best they can hope for is justice, that the perps are caught, tried, convicted and sentenced.
I can understand why people say “when do the victims get parole?” I’d possibly have said it myself at some point. But when forced to think about it, I’d have to conclude, like other things I’ve been forced to conclude in my private moments, that it really doesn’t go anywhere.
Of course, it’s a whole other debate as to what constitutes ‘justice’ and whether that is ongoing, forever, for a set period etc.

It serves Doris’ memory well for none of them ever to be released regardless of age imho

Why should an entire system that has so many anomalies and nuances and which has to take into account different aspects of life, be beholden to one person’s memory ?
I still find it quite interesting that when LVH and her cohorts landed on the temporary death row, there were two women already there. Both had committed murders every bit as unfeeling and brutal as TLB. Both had their sentences commuted in the purge of ‘72. Both were paroled within 10 years.
One size does not fit all. But sometimes, one can at the very least ask why there can be such a variance of fit.

grimtraveller said...

GreenWhite said:

We all apply varying percentages of our anecdotal experiences to our thoughts about what went down within the Manson group

That’s partly what makes most peoples’ perspectives so interesting. It also enables one to see our biases.

Which then causes us to assume...

There is however, a huge difference between assumptions that arise out of a person’s individual thoughts / cynicism / pity / lust / ignorance / anger etc and speculations or conclusions that arise out of a careful sifting of the information one has to hand.

Leslie (imho) is lying or at least being disingenuous when she says she believes she handed Charlie's letter over to her jailers

Well, if she was lying, she’s been doing so for nearly 30 years because she told this to Larry King in 1994:

KING: Do you ever hear from Charles Manson?

VAN HOUTEN: Yes, I did. I've heard from him on two separate occasions. The first time was during my second trial. He wanted me to call him out and turn my trial into a circus, and I, by then, understood him for who he was and said no. So I, at that time, I got some rather cruel, angry letters. And then this winter, when I had been approached to do a network show, he began writing angry...

K: Telling you not to do it?

LVH: ...letters. Basically. You know, he's never that out front. Doing his little smarmy round about.

K: Did you respond?

LVH: No.

K: No?

LVH: I turned the letters over to the authorities is what I did...the letters were...I've given them to my attorney; the letters are very wanting the ranch ~ now he calls us "the ranch," you know? And, you know, when I was at the ranch, to Manson I was basically ‘what's your name?’ And incredibly stupid. And now in his mind, for some reason, I'm like some big player in his stuff. You know, it's the same old rattling on.


That letter is a smoking gun if she wants to show Charlie controlled her at one time, and could go a long way toward freeing her or making a governor believe her story or whatever

Well, that letter has been in the public domain for years. If you have a read here, this blog even devotes an entire post to it. We read the postcard [“letter”] so we know she’s not talking crap. George Stimson confirms letters {he pluralizes them} were sent. Communications were also sent to Pat and Susan and we see them too. It's not hidden info.

It's certainly shooting a better shot than sitting in your cell talking about man I was so young

Not when that's pretty much what a number of successive parole boards were asking for. They said they wanted insight and understanding, not "same ol', same ol'."

grimtraveller said...

GreenWhite said:

While I have a second, I want to stress to all blog newbies the importance of reading the comments that accompany the posts on this site. There is gold in them thar hills for real. A person can learn a lot with their lurk on

I couldn’t agree more. Going through the archives is, I believe {ha ha}, as valuable an exercise as reading many of the main books associated with the case. I would also say the same of Cielo’s site, the Col’s site, Lynyrd’s site and Cats’ site. Lots of fantastic debates, ideas, thoughts etc. Whether one agrees with what one comes across is not really the issue.

It's tough for me to "believe" that the dude who mind-controlled her and sent her out to commit dark deeds and murder supposedly random strangers would send her a bossy letter she couldn't use to her advantage

Well she didn’t use them to her advantage in the way you’d suppose.
But it really does tell one something about Charles Manson. It tells us that he did not move on. It tells us that actually, all those tales from late ‘69 and 1970 from Family and ex-Family members, pointed in the same direction, that of his control. Even he would inadvertently let things slip, like when, years later he’d refer to Spahn as his ranch and talk about how he organized things and what he would and wouldn’t allow. Or at least, it tells us that if one adds it to the multiplicity of things that we’ve learned {and often wanted to reject out of hand} down the years.

Susan, Pat and Leslie all had a chance of solo trials and they all had someone in their corner batting for them. They’d all, in one way or another, told outsiders that Charlie was the main wheel in the murders, or at the least heavily involved. But he ‘persuaded’ all of them to throw away that, which would have helped them immeasurably, but scuttled him in the process. And in doing so they all ended up with death sentences. And it seems pretty clear to me that he thought he could find his way to their minds again, even in 1977 and 1992. Whenever I’ve heard him speak about Pat, there was always this wistful sorrow surrounding him. Like he just could not believe that she could turn against him and that he could always get to her. After all, I suspect he knew deep down that Patricia Krenwinkel would never have killed anyone had she not been involved with him. But she’d crossed that line, they all had, and that’s a pretty deep road to travel for someone.
But they moved on. They had to. Their project had died a horrendous death and wrecked theirs and others’ lives and they had to wake up to that. But Charlie never did. And as such, it seems to me that having already gotten to these middle class girls with their society’s uptight morality, he could go there again and again.
Hence those communiques. His head was still in ‘69/’70/’71. His head seems to still have been where it was when he was trying to persuade Linda to drop her testimony and return to him and when he wanted to spend time with Tex during his mental illness faking show.
It’s easy to catch Leslie’s thinking and to see why she gave those letters to the authorities or/and her lawyer. She didn’t want anything tangible associating her with Charlie Manson and in actual fact, the big advantage in her favour was to be able to declare to the world and every parole board that she gave away any communication from Charlie whenever she was asked if she still had any contact with him. I think that added up to a plus point, and might well have played a small part in the more recent parole boards granting her parole. In fact, that’s partly why the guv’nor’s reversals and the reasons they’ve cited are such a poor show.

grimtraveller said...

Buntline said:

even the prosecutor didn't expect the likes of Van Houten to be denied parole by cowardly California Governors, fifty years later

The prosecutor got quite a bit wrong in that final summing up in the original book. He got it way wrong about how he thought the three women would turn out in terms of their characters.
It's also worth pointing out, that if he had had his way, the way Van Houten has ended up is exactly how he would have her end up ! Although he felt that Susan should have been allowed to come out of prison to die in 2009 {"after all, she's not going to visit Disneyland !"}, I don't think he'd be shedding any tears for Pat or Leslie's plight. He wanted them dead !

I wouldn't mind letting her out, and putting Clem Grogan back in

Clem will always be the fly in the ointment that gets in the way of those that are adamant that any of the actual Family killers pose an ongoing problem. While, in my opinion, he should have served twice the time he did, he's been a model citizen since coming out, as far as we know.
Right from the start, it seems that he slipped and slid through the system, without ever making any effort. Not charged with TLB, no comeback for escaping from Camarillo, having his case go to a mistrial, having his death sentence commuted to life by the judge, finally admitting murder and then being paroled 8 years after....

Matt said:

Leary?

I think it is the Leary7 of old. Back in 2015 he described Ella Jo as his favourite.
It would be one heck of a coincidence if it were someone else.
I've long had a soft spot for Leary. Before he turned on St and became Rob King, he was quite a contributor. Often full of deeply interesting points and a worthy provider of food for thought. I pretty much always enjoyed reading what he had to say. It's a good thing the archives still hold much of his contribution.
Although his last missives towards me weren't exactly friendly, he was the first person in TLB {along with Lynyrd} to extend the welcoming hand to me back in 2015 and I don't forget things like that.

GreenWhite said...

Thanks, Leary. I've read probably every comment you've left on this blog. You made my day.

Grim - I hop into the LVH interviews with McGann and Part in my next article. I look forward to your critique.

One thing I notice I'm up against when trying to create new content for the blog is we're basically gathered inside the lunchroom at Manson Industries or some other large company that sells a product named Manson. Everyone here knows a ton about anything I can make an argument for or against. And many of the co-workers don't get along. Not really. Idk. Jokes.

But so I also try to write for the noobie who just got out of school or their parents' houses and may have just found out about all of this, or like a newcomer who saw their favorite actor Brad Pitt in the movie or whatever, that kinda stuff. That noob will always do well to hit the comments section and get the other opinions that often come with support and citations.

And in many ways compared to many of you, Je suis un noob! Let's see how far we can make it down the road before the blog owners return from vacation and realize I figured out their password.

Hint: It's Charlie. But you probably guessed as much!

Peter said...

I've always felt that Leslie was the only one who really engaged in the unpleasant task of looking within herself and trying to make a change, which is really the only place where redemption comes from.

Monica Wooten said...

Green White, nice job on your recent posts! I love your style. Yeah, we have all read the books and watched the archive footage, etc. But the reason this blog still exists is that NO ONE has ever been able to give us a "why." Some have tried, but no motive has ever satisfied me. Don't let the other writers intimidate you. There are a ton of lurkers who may not be vocal on the blog - but I bet they really dig your perspective. I personally think it was a combination of acid/speed. But I have no proof. I agree. Leslie should be out. Sure. Not gonna happen in our lifetime. Sad.yes. I see a lot of myself in Leslie and I thank baby Jesus I was not a teen in the late 60s. Keep posting!

GreenWhite said...

Thanks, Monica. xo.

Speculator said...

A combination of acid and speed might have acted to embolden the innate desire to kill (or at least be in on the killing) in these perpetrators but I don’t see how that in itself was the driver/motive for the murders. And as many have said before if acid and speed turned otherwise good people into killers there would be slaughters going in every day!