Monday, December 27, 2021

Ivor Davis

Davis/Harrison 1964. Express Newspapers photo credit. 

Last week, I read Manson Exposed: A Reporter's 50 Year Journey into Madness and Murder by Ivor Davis. Nearly five hundred pages in length with sources, author notes, and etc, the Kindle version of Davis' book set me back five bucks. Davis also accompanied the Beatles on their first American tour and wrote about their adventures together. His links are at the bottom of this page.  

I'm feeling Joan Didion's passing a bit more than I would've imagined. I love Didion's version of the Sixties and search for her thoughts on this or that often while digging through the times. Slouching Toward Bethlehem should be on every Manson syllabus. Didion is cheap on Amazon if you're interested and likely free online if you spend a moment searching. Kindle readers are in luck. Didion's collected essays are available for the price of a small latte. 

Born after the 1960's, I rely on others to fill in the blanks for me on this stuff. Bo Emerson. Youtube. The Internet in general. I always say the comments sections here and elsewhere taught me as much as the posts. And I'm usually down to check out any Youtube discussion on the subject. This interview from Christmas week was an easy watch and the foundation of my post today. The quotes at the bottom of the post are from the interview and not the book. 

Ivor Davis first entered our study with Five to Die in 1970. The following is from Davis' Amazon page. 

At the time, I was the West Coast correspondent for one of Britain's largest circulating newspapers and my editors immediately assigned me to find out everything I could about this senseless massacre that was instant front page news around the world. What happened that balmy Summer's night became one of the most infamous chapters in the history of brutal murder in America. 

Eventually Charles Manson and his band of pitiful souls were arrested not only for the Tate murders but also for those of Los Angeles businessman Leno LaBianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife Rosemary, whose bodies were found one day after the Beverly Hills killings in a house in Silver Lake some 13 miles from the first murder scene. 

A colleague, Jerry LeBlanc, and I wrote a fast book about the Manson murders called Five to Die. We had an early start on the case. As soon as the story broke that Manson, who had been taken into custody at the remote Barker Ranch in Death Valley on October 12, l969 more than two months after the murders, was a key suspect in the case, we began to dig into his background and that of his "family." Remarkably, as we progressed, we seemed to be several steps ahead of police investigators. 

Our book was rushed out in paperback in January 1970, seven months before the trial began. It was the very first book to catalogue the bizarre story of life with Charlie Manson. Several years later, long after I had covered the trials which resulted in first degree murder convictions for Manson and four of his acolytes, Charles "Tex" Watson, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, I met former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz. He had been head of the DA's trial division and the lead prosecutor in the case before he was removed by the District Attorney for contravening the Judge's gag order. 

Much to my astonishment Stovitz dropped a bombshell. "Your book was the blueprint for our prosecution," he said. "It was all there for us to follow." Five to Die had not been a best seller and it received scant attention at the time it was swiftly overtaken by new developments as the sensational trial unfolded.

You can pay a lot for Five to Die online. It's also out there gratis. Either way, Stovitz's bombshell got Davis moving on Manson Exposed...

To this crowd, Davis' book will resemble a long magazine piece. Some of that has to do with your inquisitive nature and lifetime spent peeking behind curtains. The remainder comes from the author's lack of desire to stray far from center these days as far as I can tell. Davis says he thought Helter Skelter was laughable but also recognized others like Lynette Fromme believed Manson was innocent and should be released. 

Davis also claims in his book that Fromme threatened him outside the courthouse and asked if knew how a sharp knife shoved down a throat felt or something along those lines. 

Yikes but also what are you doing tonight after court? 

Apologies. I made quick decisions on women for an embarrassing number of years and some of that is still inside me even though I'm old. Let's get back to it. 

Charlie was in court over dune buggy shenanigans in Independence, California, on December 3, 1969. Davis and Steve Dunleavy were there. This was Manson's first court date after Barker. Even though the charge was Receiving Stolen Property, guards brought him in with an extra security chain around his waist. I could not find any evidence Manson acted out in jail during his seven-ish week incarceration before the court date and even found contradictory evidence.


"Manson is most definitely still the leader of the three other guys,” an officer said. “He gives them orders and they obey him. 

“We find Manson a model prisoner. He should be. He’s been in and out of jail since he was 15 years old. He seems to be very intelligent and well-read with a good vocabulary.”

The deputy continued, “Manson is cooperative and talkative to a point, but careful not to implicate himself in anything.”

This is the beginning of the jail stint where Charlie complains they won't let him shave or visit a jailhouse barber. Newspaper, tv, and radio hopped right on Manson's shaggy appearance and chains. According to Davis, the LA dicks took Manson to Los Angeles following his plea of Not Guilty.  

Remembering the trials in Los Angeles, Ivor goes in on Ronald Hughes' then recent UCLA Law School graduation, Hughes' garage office, and Daye Shinn's specialty in helping people apply for green cards. "Inept lawyers."  

On Manson: "He was quite eloquent. He made sense." Davis was present while Charlie testified for an hour with the jury removed. According to Davis, when asked by the bench if he'd repeat everything he'd just said but with the jury present, Manson refused to testify. The girls jumped to their feet and said the same about themselves. 

Expressing shock over the defense strategy, Davis said, "The lawyers all got up and said we have no evidence to present." The author/journalist believes Helter Skelter worked because the jury saw the girls following Charlie's orders in court. 

On Watkins: "Paul looked like a young Clark Gable. Smooth demeanor. Knew how to talk to people." 

On Charlie's ability to conquer female minds: "He had the gift of the gab. Within an hour, these girls had become a disciple." 

Will the book change your life? No. Did I have fun word searching and date hopping for $4.99 even if I forgot for a year and a half that I own the book? Yes. 

If you have thoughts on Ivor Davis and his role in the Manson study, please let me know below. 


In fairness and because I've read his post several times over the past few years, my blog colleague George Stimson had this to say about Davis and Five to Die. 

If I took a Stimsonesque or Schreckian position, or even without taking one, I notice the Ventura photo of Charlie has been filtered, redrawn, whatever'd, and Manson looks apelike on the front cover of the newest Davis book. 

But like an evil, hypnotizing ape amirite? Genius and idiot all rolled into one. +ggw


Stimson books.

Ivor Davis bio at The Authors Guild.

Ivor Davis books on Amazon.

Ivor Davis home. 

A bit on Ivor and The Beatles for Fab Four aficionados and fans. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Friday, December 24, 2021

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Book of Manson (1989) Film

The Book Of Manson was released in 1989. The film is available to watch on Youtube but is broken into five sections. Part one is missing. I'd buy a copy if mine were the bank accounts of a university and not a dumb writer but life is what it is and I'll likely die without knowing what happens in part one. 

"The loose plot and bad production make it difficult to watch but it's very rewarding if you can stay on the ride." 

A reviewer named Ruiz wrote that about BoM seven years ago. You won't find many reviews online and Ruiz was succinct. 

Book of Manson is mucho irreverent in spades. Filmmaker Raymond Pettibon has the comedic timing of Roman Polanski. More than once, the thought crossed my mind that I was watching a Polanski treatment of the Manson family. Take that however you like. I went into the Polanski catalog expecting to confirm my dislike for the director but walked away with respect for his films. Not that I'd advise you to send your seventh grader to a pool party at his place. 

Pettibon is also the writer for BoM. His film is huge on dialogue and much of it is solid gold. A nuanced, punk rock, 80's, Manson family? The Marx Brothers crossed my mind several times but only if they were from the dark side or something Idk. 

You've heard for years that a California record label was set to release an album of Charles Manson's music in the 1980's but backed out after receiving threats. Filmmaker Pettibon's brother, Greg Ginn, is the owner of that label. I started asking around about the threats hoping someone would say, "Four huge guys in sweatsuits eating gabagool hopped out of a black Cadillac yelling, 'Bada bing we're the Mafia! Big Tony says no record, capeesh?"  

And if not the mob then who? Phil Kaufman? Doris Day? How would the public even know? The threats were confirmed but downplayed. "Nothing as serious as you might be thinking." 

Got it. Joke threats. So funny you don't put the record out. And don't think I would've either. I was terrified of Charles Manson in the 80's. Everyone "into" him was talking about the Process Church and not  ATWA down at the home place. 

Anyway. A couple of years after threats killed the record, Pettibon made BoM. Gutsy to say the least. 

The scene at Bobby's might be my favorite. Again nuance. Again irreverence. Janet Housden plays Mary Brunner. Gary asks Bobby, Sadie, and Mary if Charlie sent them. Bobby doesn't like Mary's affirmation, flexes on her, and announces he's running things. 

How many Gary arguments have taken place on this blog? Was it the Satans' money or an inheritance? Why did Mary tell Guenther and Whiteley they were after three grand?  

Here's my six degrees. I was pestering Henry Rollins with letters in 1991 while Joe Cole helped with his mail. Thirty years ago today, Cole was murdered by muggers in front of the house he shared with Rollins in the Oakwood neighborhood of Venice Beach, California. Rollins escaped by dodging bullets. 

This is Henry talking about Cole's killing. Rollins was the record label's point man with Manson. Joe Cole also worked at SST Records. I was over the moon when Cole's response showed up at my PO Box, and his awful death shook me. Even after they handed over fifty bucks, Cole was shot in the face at point blank range. 

Senseless, cruel, and sad. Joe Cole has been dead for almost as long as he lived. I won't ever understand why his death was necessary and wanted to drop a quick shoutout here today in remembrance. Some of you might remember Cole's killing and others will not. I don't drink anymore but if I did, I'd pour a little out for Joe. 

Robert Hecker's scenes as Charlie are magic imo. I went stalking him online and almost fell out of my chair so great was my haste to email blog reader Tobias Rabe. Hurdles! 


Here's an associated Cease to Exist cover from back then. Same scene. Housden plays drums on the bonus tracks of the 1986 re-release. Calling the 80's "back then" is like whoa kinda. My sweet Gen X is starting to get old. If you watch BoM, please tell me what you think. +ggw

Monday, December 13, 2021

Mary Brunner and PTSD

Was PTSD a factor in Mary Brunner's bizarre courtroom behavior? 

Empathy comes a bit easier when I see people as kids. I always search for everyone's youngest photograph online before doing anything else. Wondering wtf happened in Cali and staring at the photo is the next step. For many of these folks, I never move beyond the wondering stage. Everything is just so crazy. And some of the explanations seem crazier. 

The last month or so, I've been working on a Mary Brunner timeline. Mary's performances across courtrooms from trial to retrial to trial etc shocked me to say the least. I wondered if I could follow her personal arc through literature and official documents and arrive at some place that made sense. 

Additionally, my cousin and I made family trees for Mary's Brunner (paternal) and Baker (maternal) families. Mary's DNA profile is consistent with the white European population of the Upper Midwest in the decades surrounding the start of the twentieth century. Wonder Bread before Wonder Bread. I found a black and white photo of Mary's dad doing a handstand. Total research career highlight. The champ is here. 

Anyway. Mary intro via Fromme. 

Babes in the woods. Summer 1967. Burton Katz said Mary was "well on her way to a Master's Degree" but I can't find a confirming source. Mary is twenty-three and the right age to be a grad student but many accounts have her moving to California in 1965 after graduating from Wisconsin. Graduate students aren't typically library assistants either. That is more of an undergrad thing. 

Our traditional introduction to Mary is at the Berkeley gate where Charlie is strumming a guitar and Mary's dog Muffin runs up yip yip blah blah blah, "Woman! I'm gonna kick your dog! 

"You better not!" 

I prefer Emmons for this scene but to each their own. Let's set the dune buggy time machine for mid-April, 1968. Law Enforcement  arrives late night in Ventura County at the scene of a bus wedged into a deep drainage ditch. Beside the bus that is assumed stolen but not yet verified, a group of fifteen-ish hippies are asleep naked on the ground. Among them is Mary Brunner and baby Pooh Bear. 

Charlie stole the bus in San Francisco nine days earlier on April 12th. Kind of romantic in a Hollywood movie way but not when you get locked up for it in real life. And then of course since the gang is the gang, they crashed their stolen bus into a ditch. Somehow, no one was injured. A celebratory bonfire and weird group unclothing followed. 

I pictured the first policeman on the scene, a Vietnam vet or something like that, shining his light on their pale bodies and thinking everyone was dead. The scene likely resembled something straight out of Roswell. If you're unaware of what happens next, Charlie is arrested for the stolen bus and having two driver's licenses. Other nude people also receive false identification charges. Yeller and Brenda are charged with disorderly conduct. I imagined them fighting the police naked in slow motion while Japanese girl group surf rock blasts. 

Mary gets busted for her underdressed and shivering baby sleeping beside her. No charges are filed against Charlie over Pooh Bear even though the infant is half his responsibility. Oh how times have changed. 

Knuckleheads pops into my head a lot when I think about these kids and Charlie in their early days. He was older but at a similar maturity level. Charlie lost his mom for several years at the age of five over the The Great Heinz Bottle Stickup of '39, fell into the care of Glenna, toothless Bill, Uncle Jess Kaboom, and finally the clink at age thirteen. 

Ohio River payback cake from an Easy Bake Oven is the order of the day but not yet. Here is the first time tiny Gen X'er Pooh Bear, later named head of the Manson Family by Clem Grogan, is taken into custody. While a social worker will later tell Mendocino investigators this arrest was little more than police harassment of hippies, Mary is now on paper. She receives a suspended sentence, two years probation, collects her baby, and promises to return to Wisconsin where she belongs. 

Which is slippie code for Mendocino. Here are a few highlights contributed by an anonymous friend. 

(I want to feed that cute baby goat and raise it at my house!)

You remember little Allen's snake legs and all that plus how the other boys tore the place up. Everyone arrested or questioned at the scene except Mary gives a fake name. Mary rented the cabin using her real name and knows she's doomed. The gang admits to the LSD and some pot seeds and help the police find the drugs in either the woods behind the cabin or a shed in the woods behind the cabin. Mary takes the fall. 

Pooh Bear is sheltered and cared for in the home of Dr. Roger Smith upon Charlie's request. My opinions are whispers in the wind of course but I think Smith got a raw deal in O'Neill. 

More germane to this discussion is what was Mary's state of mind at this time? My quest was how does a person go from taking their flute out to California with them to their library job to sitting naked with Kenneth Como or even the machine gun photos. How did she get there? When did the changes occur? 

All of this is from Thank you, Mr. Bo. 

Mary could be playing the game because she wants her baby returned but she's not displaying any red flags. 

Professional references are provided including Dr. Smith. 

The final paperwork.

This far into it, do you think Mary is cracking under the pressure or displaying any overt revolutionary tendencies? She seems like she's holding up okay to me. The gang is still getting arrested for stupid things and maybe nothing feels real but Mary is playing a game with inescapable consequences. 

George and Elsie Brunner surely begged Mary with genuine fear in their voices to return home. But Mary loved her baby's father like many girls love their baby's father and ignored her parents. Everyone always talks about cult this and mind-controlled that and while they might be right, I just don't know for sure. What if it was a simple perfect storm type of situation and the train came off the tracks in the worst ways? 

Viewing Mary as a girl who wanted to live with her friends and child's father more than returning to her parents and their I-told-you-so's resonates with me. And if neither option was ideal, Mary was stuck somewhat like the stolen bus in the ditch with nowhere else to go and that's a different issue. 

Which brings us to Gary's. 

That photo triggers me every time and I wasn't there. How many times do you think Bobby viewed it online over the years and wished he'd never taken that ride? I wonder if Mary ever looked into all of this? I bet she'd do anything to go back in time and keep everyone from walking up those stairs. 

Bobby, do you read these? 

It's impossible to gloss over what happened at Gary's or write an apologetic piece. Gary's life became a nightmare until he ceased to exist over the course of a gruesome weekend in July 1969. Bobby lured Mary into going to Gary's because they were friends and Mary would put Gary at ease. Mary to her great detriment is unable to keep from admitting to things she's done wrong. Because of that, we know she told Guenther and Whitely that Bobby informed her of the robbery about to take place at Gary's during the drive there. 

Her first version of events places the amount they sought at Gary's at three grand btw. 

Mary said she thought nothing of Bobby's comments because she knew Gary had no money. Evil Bruce McGregor Davis dropped them off and scurried away into the darkness like a rat. Sadie gave the signal once the coast was clear. Mary stood inside like a foolish girl from Wisconsin until there was no chance to leave. 

Guenther and Whitely also found out from Mary that Bobby shared with her his decision to kill Gary. Put yourself in Mary's shoes. What could she have done? Die with Gary? She must've been terrified. I'd never recover from that hellish scene. 

We all know Gary's ending. Mary and Sadie took turns smothering his death rattle after Bobby told them to do it. There's no escaping what they did. Awful isn't a strong enough word. 

Over the next week and some as July works into August, we don't hear much from Mary until what Dreath dubbed The Sears Caper. 

Mary looks scared. She's thinking her goose is cooked. And has a thousand yard stare. Here's a scholarly article on the relationship between witnesses to violent crimes and PTSD. Google is filled with many others. Mary fits the profile every time.  

Eventually, Kitty from the sidewalk tries to nuke Mary in court by saying she witnessed Mary driving Gary's vehicle after his death but she is too late. Guenther and Whitely have already talked Mary into cutting a deal. Texas high hurdles state record holder (4A) Tex Watson later writes that Mary would have been at Cielo if she wasn't in jail. 

When I'd see that Tex quote in the past I always thought yeah right whatever weirdo man. Anymore, I'm not so sure. If the story about Tex retrieving Pooh Bear from Dr. Smith's house in Melcher's car is true, maybe Tex and Mary were close. Whatever the case, Mary and Sandy were unavailable the night of Cielo after bungling a simple retail hustle. And I'm happy about it. 

Somewhere between Gary's murder and the Twinkie truck accident, Mary's brain changes. Clear evidence exists. She becomes agitated and emotional every time we see her in the public record afterward. The first Wisconsin interview. Her affidavit. Court. 

Mary should be forever grateful to Judge Keene. I wonder if she ever watched him on Divorce Court? Boring program but on right after school in my day. Countless peanut butter sandwiches were consumed while actors in their forties who looked old to me pretended to divorce one another. 

In the coming year, I'd like begin a discussion on Mary's court appearances after the Hinman murder. At one point, Mary tries to die for or alongside Bobby before Judge Keene steps in and saves her life. She is safe for awhile but more astonishing blunders are coming. 

Something is wrong with Mary. No one gives a shit because she suffocated Gary and has a baby with the boogeyman but by Christmas of 1969 the time bomb is activated and ticking. An appointment on the wrong side of these bullet holes awaits Mary at the semi-conclusion of her antics out west. +ggw

Monday, December 6, 2021

Becoming Charlie Manson

Ghislaine Maxwell might fill America's head boogeyman position for the remainder of her life if she's found guilty of the charges against her. Week two of her trial begins today. No cameras are allowed inside the courtroom. 

Ghislaine was raised Anglican. I'm unsure of where she lands on the whole God thing these days but prayer might not be a bad idea for anyone who finds their name dropped alongside Charles Manson's in newspaper articles. Divine intervention could be your only hope. 

Charlie's gone, Ghislaine is awful, and we need a criminal we're unable to generate empathy for to taunt once her mind is fully broken. Grab your colored pencils and draw us a monster in a covid mask and please do not dawdle. I'll start the air popper. Extra salt and butter you know it. Btw is that Rusty Burrell from The People's Court?

Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Not even Tricky Dicks can save you when you're inside the media machine.

While combing through famous courtroom sketches, I noticed they draw your face a certain way when you play for the opposing team. 

Google is the source for our illustrations today. That's a publicly shackled and muzzled Bobby Seale below Charlie. The final sketch is Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army members Judith Clark, Sekou Odinga, Kuwasi Balagoon, and David Gilbert.

Jeffrey looks so happy by the jet. He never read his Ecclesiastes and it shows. 

Ghislaine would be in some other blog post starring as Little Paul right now if the Clyde to her Bonnie hadn't been found bruised and lifeless inside his locked cell within a supposedly secure facility. But things worked out the way they did and now Ghislaine earns dual paychecks playing brainwashed Squeaky and maniac mastermind Charlie in the same movie. What a trip.

The artist didn't make Epstein look as evil and unhinged as the other defendants but Epstein also did not spend a comparable amount of time in court. I know he stormed out of a deposition when opposing lawyers repeatedly asked about the shape of his penis but I can't find any records of Epstein acting out in front of a judge. To some extent, everyone else we're discussing in this post did. 

Stunts like this didn't help Charlie.

Acting out in court is ALWAYS a poor decision no matter who you are and what you did or did not do. Go ask Lulu and Katie if you're unsure. When they don't respond, consider querying Charlie's haunted tv. 

Threats. "I see you. We see you and know where you are." 

Hands are tricky to draw. Ghislaine has some sort of Peanuts/Tim Burton/Courage the Cowardly Dog thing going on there I'm not sure. She didn't even make a circle for the head first. 

One of the illustrators Ghislaine sketched has forty years on the job. The Post didn't mention that because they needed to fill space. Ghislaine is at the precipice and it's a long way down. "Your honor, she enslaved the young and threatens the old from within the sanctity of our hallowed courtrooms." 

I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a little part of me that wonders if Ghislaine will receive a light sentence even though she's Squeaky and Charlie rolled into one. I saw Ghislaine's comments hundreds of times on reddit when I didn't know she was behind her username and even occasionally interacted via alt accounts due to her inflammatory views on certain subjects. Whenever I think back on those days, I'm kinda shook. Who else have I talked to? 

Keep in mind that is Ghislaine is rich and rich people always win unless the other rich people abandon them a la Madoff. But Bernie stole their money. Ghislaine merely provided the entertainment. 

If she was a piece of white trash from down here on the river there would be no questions regarding her fate. Ghislaine faces a maximum of eighty years and turns sixty in nineteen days. How much more time do you think she'll do? 

Ghislaine graduated from Oxford. 


Finally, Patty told me last week that longtime blog troll, Susan Atkins Gonorrhea, passed in early October after a brief illness. He was forty-nine years old. SAG's comments always started out okay before he predictably lost control and went off the rails. I always wondered why he had to take that route. 


Serious talk. Don't die a troll. It's no legacy.+ggw