Monday, November 27, 2023

"Being There": Jerzy Kosinski On the Fringe of TLB

There exists a long list of individuals associated with the massive story that is TLB, both primary and secondary. There also exists another list of individuals, probably equally as long, that is comprised of those best described as peripheral. One of those on the periphery is novelist Jerzy Kosinski. 

Kosinski was born on June 14, 1933 in Lodz, Poland. He survived the Nazi occupation of Poland, and graduated from the University of Lodz with a degree in sociology. He emigrated to the United States in 1957, where he began work on his doctorate in sociology at Columbia University in New York City. Kosinski began to write also during this time about his experiences during the war under a different name, and his writings became very popular in America, as they introduced the West to the literature of a writer from communist Poland.

Jerzy Kosinski

Kosinski went on to publish novels, notable among them: The Painted Bird(1965); Steps(1968); Being There(1970); The Devil Tree(1973); Cockpit(1975); Blind Date(1977); Passion Play(1979); Pinball(1982); and The Hermit of 69th Street(1986). He spent the rest of his life in America, principally living in New York City, becoming an educator at several colleges and a very visible public intellectual. Ever popular, Kosinski made many appearances on TV programs such as, The Dick Cavett Show, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and David Letterman. Kosinski married steel heiress Mary Hayward Weir in 1962. They divorced in 1966. Kosinski subsequently married his longtime girlfriend, Katherina "Kiki" Von Fraunhofer in 1987.

Kosinski biography book cover

Author James Park Sloan wrote an excellent biography of  Kosinski, and in it he details the childhood connection of Kosinski to future actors in the story of TLB: Voytek Frykowski and Roman Polanski. "...Kosinski had retained a connection with a few old school friends in Lodz, among them Wojtek Frykowski, with whom he regularly exchanged letters. Frykowski, a sometimes coarse but witty young man--and a famous raconteur--was possessed of a charismatic personality. He had been married already to Agnieszka Osiecka, an aspiring writer, who would make her name in the future as Poland's best-known writer of satirical song lyrics and who, living in Boston, also drifted into Kosinski's circle of Polish friends at this time. Frtykowski had also been involved with a young woman named Ewa, whom Kosinski had photographed as a teenager and regarded as the most beautiful woman he had ever seen."(James Park Sloan, Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography. Plume/Penguin, 1977. p. 251-252).

Voytek Frykowski

"Unlike Kosinski, Frykowski never quite found the vehicle for bringing his magnetic personality and storytelling skills to bear in a substantive career. He was now living in Paris, and Kosinski's letters urged him to come to America. Finally, with his friend's guidance in a new career, he took Kosinski up on the offer and arrived in New York [in the spring of 1967]. The guidance provided by Kosinski took the shape of an introduction to Abigail "Gibby" Folger, a coffee heiress and recent Radcliffe graduate who lived at the fringe of New York's floating literary-artistic about the same time, Kosinski renewed his contact with Roman Polanski, who made it big in America with his film Rosemary's Baby. They met in New York as two homeboys from Lodz..." (Sloan, p. 251-252).

Abigail Folger

Roman Polanski and Jerzy Kosinski


Students of TLB know that the chief relationship of Kosinski to the story was his introduction of Voytek Frykowski to Abigail Folger. But even as Voytek and Abigail left New York together in August of 1968(after the death of Kosinski's first wife, Mary Hayward Weir), Kosinski was still an active part of the life of the couple, and Roman Polanski, even though he lived in New York.

Kosinski wrote the famous novel, Being There, but what follows is an extension of his involvement in TLB. That is, could Kosinski have "been there" at Cielo on Friday night, August 8, 1969? In his biography of Kosinski, Sloan describes a trip that Kosinski and his girlfriend, Kiki, made to Paris in July of 1969. From there, the couple travelled to the home of Clement Biddle Wood and his wife on the Greek island of Spetsai. Wood was a member of the same circle as Mary Hayward Weir.

As Sloan describes it, "[I]n late July, Kosinski received a letter from Wojtek Frykowski and Gibby Folger, who were staying at Roman Polanski's home on Chielo Drive in Los Angeles. Kosinski left with Kiki for Paris, from which they were to fly to the United States on August 7. Clem Wood, their host at Spetsai, left for Los Angeles, where he was booked into the Beverly Hills Hotel while working on a film script. It was agreed that the Woods would get together with Kosinski and Kiki in Los Angeles."(Sloan, p. 273-274).

The Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles

"What happened next became a small, but enduring controversy. As Kosinski told it, both as a casual account and as an episode that happened to George Lavanter in [Kosinski's novel] Blind Date, the pivotal factor was the misrouting of part of his luggage in Paris. It was his intention to go directly to Los Angeles without leaving the airport, accompanied by three bags of warm-weather clothes, while three bags of cold-weather clothes were to be held in storage in New York awaiting his return. In the version told in Blind Date, the dispute with the French airline clerk has to do with the New York address. She insists that he list a return address in Paris. In irritation at his refusal, the clerk routes all his baggage to New York, which necessitates his stopping over at his New York apartment for the night." (Sloan, p. 274).

"Kosinski clung to this account tenaciously over the years, and it gains in plausibility if one shifts the emphasis slightly to note that he was trying to get the airline to perform an unusual and complicated favor, and that routing all the luggage to New York may have been a simple mistake...In any case, he arrived in New York in the late afternoon of August 8 and found that his luggage had been off-loaded. Deciding to stay in New York, he called Clem Wood at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  "I told Sharon you were there," he said, "and she says to come over." As he did not know Sharon Tate, Wood spent the evening with other Hollywood Friends." (Sloan, p. 274).

"The following afternoon around 5:00 P.M. Kosinski rang Elizbieta Czyzewska, a Polish emigre stage and film actress who was married to journalist David Halberstam [see my post on this blog, Abigail Folger: A Time In New York, about Abigail's association with Elizbieta in Abigail's personal letter],and asked if she had been listening to the radio. "Something has happened in Los Angeles," he told her. Put on the radio." (Sloan, p. 274).

Elizbieta Czyzewska

David Halberstam

According to Sloan, Kosinski and others would assist the Frykowski family with a memorial for Voytek. "In the immediate aftermath, Kosinski's major role was in offering, along with Elizbieta Czyzewska, to arrange for Frykowski's funeral. In the course of making arrangements, he spoke with Victor Lownes, who had accompanied Polanski home from London, not bothering to mention that he planned to visit. At the same time, he mentioned to several reporters that he had been on his way to Cielo Drive when a luggage mix-up at the Paris airport caused him to stay over in New York." (Sloan, p. 275).

Victor Lownes

"By then Frykowski's mother had been reached in Lodz and was on her way to New York with Frykowski's brother to claim the body. Instead of a burial, Elizbieta Czyzewska held a memorial gathering for the Polish emigre circle, at which Kosinski again does not mention that he had been en route to Polanski's house." (Sloan, p. 275-276).

Interestingly, Victor Lownes, in his assessment of the violence in Kosinski's novels, actually became suspicious of Kosinski of being involved in the murders. To Lownes, Kosinski's story was "irregular". According to Sloan, "[O]n August 22, back in London, Lownes sent a letter to the Los Angeles Homocide Division suggesting that they investigate Kosinski. It concluded: "I know that the suggestion is extremely far-fetched, but surely it is worthwhile to check on the mix-up luggage story, the change in plans on the funeral of Voityck, and Kosinski's whereabouts over that terrible weekend." Kosinski, in short, struck Lownes as a suitable candidate to have performed the deeds of Charles Manson." (Sloan, p. 276).

The investigation into the Tate/La Bianca murders continued intensely from August into the autumn of 1969. Friend to Abigail and Voytek, artist Witold-K, was in hiding immediately after the murders, thinking he knew who committed the crimes, but as Sloan continues, had "been brought forward with the mediation of Elizbieta Czyzewska's husband, David Halberstam. [Witold-K], who was close to Frykowski in Los Angeles, was apparently the first to argue that Kosinski had not been expected that night and was just seeking publicity. He shared this view with Czyzewska, who recalled that Kosinski had not mentioned any plans to be there, either when he first called to report that "something has happened in Los Angeles" or at the memorial for Frykowski." (Sloan, p. 276).


Sloan goes on to say that on December 18, 1969, Kosinski was interviewed by the Newspaper Enterprise Association. In the interview, Kosinski lashed out at the press for what Roman Polanski called "killing them [the victims] a second time".

The Kosinski side of the possibility of being at Cielo never quite died. In 1984, "Polanski stated in his biography that Kosinski had not been expected that night. Sharon had never cared for Kosinski, the story went, and would never have invited him. As the publication followed upon a more important crisis of credibility in Kosinski's career, the reviewer for the Sunday times of London singled the statement out for comment. In response, Clem Wood wrote a letter to the editor giving an account that strongly supported Kosinski's version. Yet in Polish emigre circles, the view persisted that Kosinski had seized upon the event to assert a piece of personal melodrama that could not be disproved." (Sloan, p. 277).

"Taking the various witnesses together, there can be little doubt that Kosinski and Kiki had originally planned to be in Los Angeles that night. The core story of a luggage mix-up in Paris is well supported, too, in that Clem wood heard the story in outline before it would have any value as part of a fabrication. Whether Jerzy and Kiki would have arrived, specifically, at Polanski's house on Cielo Drive is less certain. In the atmosphere of the household, however, it is quite possible that Frykowski might have invited them, notwithstanding Sharon's dislike of Kosinski. The doubts of Elizbieta Czyzewska and Witold Kaczanowski appear, like the suspicions of Victor Lownes, largely circumstantial. As for Polansky, who had been in London, he was the least likely to have been well informed." (Sloan, p. 277). In sum, Sloan would ultimately say of Kosinski that "the story he told seems to have been essentially the truth." (p. 278).

To be "essentially the truth," it could be the case that Jerzy and Kiki were never intended to sleep at the Cielo house, and frankly, how could they? When we consider the sleeping arrangements at the house, we see that Sharon occupied her own bedroom, while Abigail and Voytek occupied another. Meanwhile the maid's bedroom was being painted as the new nursery, and in addition to smelling of fresh paint, would have had no furnishings in it. The only other place to possibly sleep at Cielo would have been the loft above the living room, and this seems highly unlikely for world-class travelers such as Jerzy and Kiki.

The couple conceivably could have stayed at Abigail and Voytek's rented house on Woodstock, in the company of Witold-K, but the artist never volunteered this possibility. The most likely scenario would probably be that Jerzy and Kiki would have stayed in a private room at the Beverly Hills Hotel. In that way, they would have been in close proximity to their friend Clem Wood.

Yet, had the Kosinski luggage incident not have happened, the likelihood that Voytek may have invited Jerzy, Kiki, and the Woods to Cielo for a few hours is a distinct possibility. To be sure, Voytek did take liberties at Cielo, inviting people there, even in the presence of Roman and Sharon. One example of this is when he invited Billy Doyle to the housewarming party that spring.

If we allow for the possibility that two more men and two more women could have visited Cielo on Friday evening, and stayed late, what ultimately may have happened could have drastically changed the story of that night there. Tex Watson and company would have encountered Steven Parent, Jay Sebring, Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Jerzy Kosinski, Kiki Von Fraunhofer, and Clem Wood and his wife.

But in the end, of course, we know that did not happen. Nevertheless, Voytek still called Witold-K Friday night repeatedly, asking him to come up to Cielo, and his refusal of his friend's invitation may well have saved his life. Witold-K also wrote on his Facebook page that Voytek was constantly lonely at Cielo, and frequently called people, inviting them up to the house to keep him company.

It is probably safe to say, then, that Jerzy Kosinski should not necessarily be on the list of posers, phonies, liars, and the like, who said they were "invited" to come to Cielo Drive that Friday night. We know that they could not have been there. Jerzy Kosinski's being there entertains a distinct hint of possibility, if only for the fact that he and his party could have accompanied the inhabitants of Cielo for dinner, visited for a couple of hours, then drove away that night through the gate before midnight. Jerzy Kosinski died by suicide in his apartment in New York, on May 3, 1991.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


Remember folks, gravy is not a beverage! Have a great day with family and friends and football.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Podcast - The Witches of Mendocino

River Wade does a podcast about crime, cults, and drugs in the Emerald Triangle region of Northern California.

Listen as Susan Atkins and 'The Witches Of Mendocino' create havoc in Mendocino County as they attempt to find new recruits for The Family. 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Hendrickson Filming at Barker

Robert Hendrickson filming Manson

Robert Hendrickson went with a crew up to Barker Ranch to do some filming for his movie Manson in May of 1970. His visit caught the attention of law enforcement, and he was stopped and questioned.

If you've ever been to Barker Ranch you would know just how desolate the area is, so, it's hard to imagine that law enforcement would know if anyone was in the area at any given time. Even though all participants in the TLB murders were in custody the Inyo County Sheriff's Department and other agencies were patrolling the area repeatedly looking for stray Family members.

On May 3, 1970, the sheriff received word that Manson Family members were possibly in the area of Myers or Barker ranches. The sheriff sent out aircraft to search. They flew over a number of places where the Family was known to frequent. No one was found. 

The cost of this search was an unimaginable $30.00, my how times and costs have changed. 

In a report dated May 5, 1970 officers interviewed Paul Crockett, Brooks Poston and Paul Watkins in Shoshone. They told the officers that they saw Clem and Gypsy along with a new recruit named Kevin in a Dodge van on May 3,1970. The van was full of camera equipment, two photographers and a mother and daughter from Las Vegas that were identified as having been hired to appear in Hendrickson's film. (These two women could be the women that no one could identify in Robert's film.)

Crockett, Watkins, and Poston

This report also states that Robert Hendrickson in the company of Gypsy had been stopped by law enforcement on May 2, 1970.

The last three pages of the pdf are an accounting of an encounter that the officer, accompanied by District Attorney Frank Fowles and other luminaries, had with the ever-charming Gypsy on May 9, 1970.

Clem and Gypsy

Read the pages here.

Monday, November 6, 2023

The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten Book Review

Published in 2001, The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten by Karlene Faith, is an examination of Leslie's life with Manson, in prison, through her retrials, and back into prison. Parts of the book were used as source material for the film Charlie Says. The book definitely stands on its own but is also a great companion read after watching the film. 

Karlene Faith wrote The Long Prison Journey out of her experiences working with Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel during their early days of incarceration, immediately after their capital sentences were overturned. The women were now facing sentences of life with the possibility of parole (there was no life without parole provision at the time), and the warden of the California Institution for Women asked Faith to put together a tutoring program, with an eye towards helping the women break away from Charlie's influence, and to enable them to reintegrate into the prison population, and eventually society. It should be noted that Faith became friends with the women, particularly Van Houten. 

The book is broken down into several parts, most of which deal with the psychology of the Manson Girls, Faith's interactions with them at the prison, Leslie's retrials, and a short section of excerpts from Leslie's letters to Faith. Anyone looking for any fresh details on the crimes or victims will not find it here: any aspects and details of the crimes are briefly touched upon in the various sections. 

Faith comes at her subjects from a definite feminist perspective. The girls are presented as victims, in a way, of Manson's physical, sexual, and emotional/mental abuse. This abuse is covered in depth. Faith was interested in re-educating and raising the consciousness of Leslie, Pat, and Susan, in order that they could begin to think for themselves and process what they had done. Faith lays out in detail her conclusions regarding what she feels was her success in doing so. 

The real value of the book is in the details it gives regarding the women during their incarceration. Most of the TLB related literature focuses on the crimes and the time leading up to it, as well as what life was like in the Family. Not many have decent coverage of what their lives were like in prison. Of interest as well is the analysis of where the women were at mentally and emotionally, before, during, and after Manson.

Is The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten worth reading? Mostly yes, but with a few caveats. If you do not have a decent amount of knowledge about TLB, the book will not be of much interest. It doesn't cover the crimes and trials in much depth. If you feel that the women cannot and will never change, the book is not likely to change your mind. For anyone looking for a glimpse into the women's lives and minds during incarceration, anyone interested in more information of Leslie and her subsequent trial, or anyone interested in the subject of reform or rehabilitation, it is definitely worth picking up. 

Karlene Faith passed away in 2017. You can read her obituary here.

Karlene Faith




Monday, October 23, 2023

Bobby's Costume Clique

 While Charles Manson was sitting in a federal prison Bobby Beausoleil was playing dress-up with his friends. Bobby was four days shy of 18 years old at the time this article was published. Now we know where Bobby got the idea for some of his clothing choices, namely the top-hat. He had kind of an early day steampunk look during the time he was with Kenneth Anger.

Poor Snow Fox looks woefully under fed.

A translation of the article that accompanied the photo. Bobby isn't mentioned in the article. The photo is classic though and the article adds context. Ahoy me hearties. Blow the man down. Aaaarrrggghhh!

By Andrew Briggs
Special to the Times

The gangly young man danced and moved his hands as if making incantations to some primitive god; he was wearing a ranch-hand's outfit and a 10-gallon hat.

A girl near him was dancing in a hooded black velvet travelling cape that might have come from Shakespeare's England.

The scene could have been a masquerade ball, but no one was wearing a mask. It was the Saturday night "happenings" of a loose-knit group of Los Angeles youths who believed clothing is an art form and a means of self-expression. Members feel what they wear is a symbol of their individuality.

According to Phil Licherman, 18, a theater arts major at Los Angeles City College, there are about 50 members of the informal clique in Hollywood and 200 throughout the city. However, there are a lot more "would-bes" who want to be "in", but are "too lame."

The group ranges in age from 18 to about 25, many of them students and most aspiring artists, actors, sculptors, musicians and singers. They gather at Bido Lido's, 1607 N. Ivar St. for the "happenings."
Licherman was "in the groove" at the rock 'n' roll night club, with long hair, a wrinkled butcher's hat, a blue bandana around his neck, a striped English button-down collar shirt and a wool-lined leather hunting jacket.

"The people in this bag (one's social image or role) are individualists," he said. "They don't care what society says. This bag is like a beat, but it's not self-sacrificing and it's not a way of life. It's an exploration.

"I'm myself in any bag, but I like this bag because the people who are in it are Dylan lovers (Bob Dylan, a popular recording artist who symbolizes the values of the group) and speak the truth. Ther are a lot of cool people in other bags but I'm comfortable in this one. The clothing makes me feel free and I dig blowing people's minds (upsetting people)."

Is way-out clothing a symptom of way-out behavior?

"We're all individuals here," said Licherman. "We do what's good for us. I can't speak for anybody else."
One youth's nose was painted blue. One wore rags of a wino, with gypsy earrings; another wore earrings with bell-bottom pants and a turtle-neck sweater.

Another lad, whose girlfriend called him "the real Wyatt Earp," needed only a gun to look the part; he had a badge already.

A girl wore pince-nez sunglasses, which are considered "trip" - in excellent taste. Another danced in what appeared to be a black terry cloth bathrobe. 

To Susan Papacek, 18, a Pasadena City College speech major, the happenings are "a contest to see who can show the most creativity and originality."

Miss Papacek isn't a member of the clique. Her eye is on more conventional goals. But she admires the group.

One Non-Conformist

"These kids are way ahead of most of the kids their age. What's happening here is new. They're conforming to the smallest possible group."

One member- the wife of a sculptor - is a member of a very large group-- motherhood. But she strikes a non-conformist note by wearing a baggy one-piece playsuit with striped tights and nursing her baby in public.

Members of the clique point out that dress rebellion, or exploration, is not local but international, with such idols as the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and the Byrds setting the style.

"Clothing as a costume relaxes these kids," said Valorie Porter, hostess at the club. "They feel free. They're not trapped in a uniform. They don't feel like they're conforming.

" A businessman's suit is a uniform. It forces him into a conformist part. What these kids wear lets them play any part they want to."

How far will the non-conformists go? As far as the gods of non-fashion dictate. Right down to the nudity, if it's a "trip."

"I guess I'd go for it," said one youth. "My name is Adam." 

Monday, October 16, 2023

History of Bobby Beausoleil's band The Orkustra by Rock Historian Bruno Veriotti

A well researched historical piece. Way too much to reproduce here in full. Click the link at the bottom to read the original:

"This day-by-day diary of The Orkustra's live, studio, broadcasting and private activities is the result of three decades of research and interview work by Bruno Ceriotti, but without the significant contributions by other kindred spirits this diary would not have been possible. So, I would like to thank all the people who, in one form or another, contributed to this timeline: Jaime Leopold (RIP), Bobby Beausoleil, David LaFlamme (RIP), Henry Rasof (RIP), Nathan Zakheim, Stephen Hannah, Jesse Barish, Steve LaRosa (RIP), Rod Harper (RIP), Colin Hill, Ross Hannan, Corry Arnold, William Hjortsberg, Aldo Pedron, Klemen Breznikar, Reg E. Williams, Charles Perry, Penny DeVries, Claire Hamilton, Lessley Anderson, Ralph J. Gleason (RIP), Craig Fenton, Alec Palao, Johnny Echols, 'Cousin Robert' Resner, Roman Garcia Albertos, James Marshall, Chester Kessler, Gene Anthony, Christopher Newton, Loren Means, San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Oracle, and Berkeley Barb."




Monday, October 9, 2023

Jay Sebring At 90

Jay Sebring, born Thomas John Kummer, was born on October 10, 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama. After a tour of duty in the Navy, Jay decided to enter into the hairstyling profession for men, where he revolutionized that industry. In Los Angeles, he founded the hairstyling corporation, Sebring International, and taught his hairstyling technique to students, while embarking on an ambitious campaign to open Sebring salons in other locations.

Jay married Bonnie Lee "Cami" Marple in 1960. The couple divorced in 1963. Jay subsequently purchased the former home of Jean Harlow and Paul Bern in Los Angeles, and met actress and model Sharon Tate in 1964, and began a relationship with her, which ended when Sharon met Roman Polanski. Polanski introduced Jay to Abigail Folger and her boyfriend Voytek Frykowski in the summer of 1968, at which time Sharon Tate and Polanski had already been married. Jay, Sharon, Roman, Abigail, and Voytek became close friends, with Abigail herself investing in Jay's company, Sebring International.

Jay's nephew, Anthony Di Maria, directed the documentary, Jay Sebring...Cutting to the Truth, which premiered in 2020.

Jay Sebring would have turned 90 on October 10th.

Please click on the video below to remember Jay.

Music by: The Doors, Light My Fire, Elektra, 1967.





Monday, October 2, 2023

September 30, 1969: The Barker Ranch Raid that Bugliosi didn't want to talk about

Of course you've heard about the Barker Ranch raids of October 10nth & 12th of 1969, which rounded-up the Manson gang.  Less well known is the large-scale Barker raid of September 30th, two weeks earlier.  Probably because the raid was a total failure.  They couldn't find a single Mansonoid.

Desert Shadows by Bob Murphy, pg72
Six CHP, four Inyo County deputies, and three park rangers raid Barker Ranch on Sept 30, 1969. (aided by two more flying overhead in a small plane.  They came up Goler Wash from the west side as well as the east side via Mengel Pass)

Interestingly, Bugliosi doesn't mention this raid AT ALL, but does go into detail about a two-man reconnaissance visit the day before:

Helter Skelter, pg175
"On Sept 29, (NPS Ranger)Powell, accompanied by California Highway Patrolman James Pursell, decided to check out Barker Ranch. They found two young girls there, but no vehicles. ... The officers had come looking for arson suspects, and a possible stolen vehicle. ... Before leaving Barker, Powell and Pursell decided to check out some draws back of the ranch. ...  In so doing we stumbled into a group of seven females, all nude or partially so... We questioned the girls but received no useful information."

The raiding party on the 30th discovered two dune buggies they confirmed were stolen, but not a single Mansonoid.  How is it that they found at least nine girls the day before, and most of the Family on Oct 10 and 12, but they didn't come across a single person on Sept 30th?

Desert Shadows, pg73
"Those participating in the September 30 search were disappointed.  The net result of all the planning seemed to be two inoperable dune buggies and no suspect.  The men wondered if the hippies had somehow learned of their plans, but it was more likely they were spooked because of the visit of Powell and Pursell the previous day.  They had vacated Goler Wash."

Was Charlie forewarned?  Where were they hiding* that not one of the 13 cops or rangers on the ground, in a day-long dawn-to-dusk search, could find even one of them?   Why don't any of the ex-Family members ever mention this?  Why is this incident only mentioned in the Desert Shadows book?

*I suspect they spent the day inside the Lotus Mine, down Goler wash.


This was not the first time that Charlie seemed to have foreknowledge of police plans:

--March(or February) '69 Barker Ranch raid by Shoshone Dep. Sheriff Don Ward, with two or three others. The raid caught Brooks Posten, Paul Watkins, and Juanita Wildbush, but not numerous others who had conveniently decamped the day before.
Brooks Poston interview by Inyo County Sheriff Don Ward October 3rd, 1969
"... Juanita was the only one left, as they had heard the Sheriff was coming up. And, Charlie sent a truck up to get a – all the people out, that he could – or that he wanted out. And he left Joan Wildbush and myself up there, to face the Sheriff...
.... there was a supply run made to Las Vegas. In which, Joan and the girl named Sherri went. And when they came back, there was a big hurry to get all the people out except Joan and myself. Because, as I was later to find out, the Sheriff was coming."
 --July 29, 1969 Spahn mini-raid. Charlie was right out there on Santa Susanna Pass Road to greet the 'surprise' visitors.

Ed Sanders' The Family, pg250:
"He(Manson) had concealed himself and his dune buggy in underbrush near the turnoff from Topanga Canyon Boulevard onto Santa Susanna Pass Road, awaiting the invasion of hostile forces."

--August 16, 1969 Spahn raid. The cops moved it up a day, because they feared Charlie had gotten advance intel on the raid.

Manson's Hinman/Shea trial, Oct '71
LADA files Box54-4 pg603 Testimony of LASO Dep. Preston Guillory
"The raid was supposed to take place on Sunday morning, but it was moved up, because we were told that members of the ranch--or somebody--had knowledge of the raid, and that they may have made efforts to pull out or to fortify further."

But even then, the night before Charlie allegedly told Gypsy that they would be raided in the morning.

Conclusion:  Bugs didn't mention the Sept 30th raid because it would have raised too many questions about how Charlie could anticipate the cops' every move.  Obviously, he had a source within LE, probably high up.

".... somebody very high up ... was seeing to it that we didn’t bust Manson."    -- ex-LASO Deputy Preston Guillory

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Music Executive Gary Stromberg on 'Fearing for My Life' After Finding Out He Was on Charles Manson's 'Hit List'

"I was just afraid. I got a van and I drove all over Europe, just fearing for my life," Stromberg says in a recent episode of iHeart's the 'Stones Touring Party' podcast

By Daniela Avila | Published on September 26, 2023 09:30PM EDT


Gary Stromberg, a producer and PR firm co-founder who oversaw phenomenons like Elton John, Crosby Stills & Nash, Ray Charles, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones, is recalling the time he found out he was on Charles Manson's hit list.

In an episode of the Stones Touring Party podcast, hosted by former PEOPLE editor Jordan Runtagh, Stromberg said he met Manson when visiting his good friend Phil Kaufman — who was Manson's cellmate — in prison.

"I would go see Phil in prison and write to him, and he asked if I could get him some acid, so I would drop acid onto stationary droplets and write letters to them," he said in an archived interview by journalist Robert Greenfield, who toured with the Rolling Stones in the summer of 1972 and conducted interview with the band and their entourage.

He adds, "So, they'd cut it up into segments and he would pass it around. Charlie [Manson] got his acid from me!"

When Manson was released from prison he had dreams of joining the music business, so Kaufman put him in contact with Stromberg, who was working for Universal at the time. One day, Manson showed up for a meeting.

"I call this guy Russ Reagan, who was the head of Uni Records — they had just started the label. I said, 'There’s a guy here, I think you should listen to him.' He said, 'Sure, bring him up,'" he recalls. "So I went up to his office. Charlie sits on his desk and starts playing music. Russ is like, 'What is this?' Out of embarrassment, says, 'I'll give you money to do a demo.' So we set up a demo."

They went on to record five songs with Stromberg serving as a producer and he said the "music was terrible." (The songs were later released in 1970's Lie: The Love and Terror. Manson also wrote the Beach Boys song "Never Learn Not to Love" with drummer Dennis Wilson.)

"I took it up to Russ the next day. We listened to it and Russ said, 'Just get rid of this, this is terrible.' And I did. Charlie got really upset with me because I wasn't able to help him," he said of Manson, who went on to live with Wilson for some time. "He tried to get me to try other labels and I said, 'I’m sorry, this isn’t me. This isn’t what I do.' And Charlie, we just split up on bad terms."

After things didn't workout with Stromberg, Manson found music producer Terry Melcher who also ended up turning him down after a recording session. Coincidentally, on Aug. 9, 1969, Manson instructed his followers to visit 10050 Cielo Drive and kill everyone inside. Melcher had lived there during the time they worked together.

"When all of that s--- went down with [Sharon] Tate and all, he got arrested. Then the FBI came to me to inform me that when they had arrested Charlie, they had found a list of people that he intended to murder — and that I was on that list," he says. "So I high-tailed it out of town! I went to Europe and just hung up for a month or two and moved around. I was just afraid. I got a van and I drove all over Europe, just fearing for my life."

He continues, "I knew there were other guys that were still on the street. They were still part of the Manson movement. I mean, I knew Charlie over the course of a few months, so I knew a little bit about him, and [knew that] him getting arrested did not remove the threat. So I just kept moving around in Europe for a while until I felt it was safe to come back."


The full episode, which also explores The Stones' return to Los Angeles for a gig at the Palladium, where "an unhinged Satanist appears at the stage door, claiming to be the band's dead guitarist Brian Jones," is available to listen here.

During a two-day spree in August 1969, Manson and his followers were responsible for the murders of seven people, including 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate.

The killings were part of a plot by Manson to start a race war, which he named “Helter Skelter” after the Beatles song. They were particularly gruesome in nature: A pregnant Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, was found stabbed 16 times, with an “X” carved into her stomach inside her secluded Los Angeles home in the canyons above Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

Also murdered were coffee heiress Abigail Folger, writer Voytek Frykowski, hairstylist Jay Sebring, and 18-year-old delivery boy Steven Parent. Their bodies were discovered the following day.

Manson died of natural causes at age 83 in November 2017.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Donald "Shorty" Shea At 90

 Spahn Ranch ranch hand Shorty Shea was born in Massachusetts on September 18, 1933, and eventually migrated to California. He found employment as an occasional actor and stuntman in addition to working for George Spahn at his ranch near Chatsworth.

When the Manson Family moved into Spahn Ranch, tensions arose primarily between Shorty and Charles Manson. Manson accused Shea of being a "snitch," and Manson believed that Shea instigated the law enforcement raid on Spahn Ranch, which took place on August 16th, shortly after the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Charles Manson and other men murdered Shorty Shea on August 26, 1969. Please click on the video below to remember Shorty, who would have turned 90 this year.

Music by": Harry Nilsson, "Everybody's Talkin'". RCA Victor, 1968.




Saturday, September 16, 2023


Original TMZ article here

The front door to the home where Sharon Tate was infamously murdered by Charles Manson's cult has sold at auction ... and the highest bidder put a big chunk of change down for the piece of dark history.

The door was sold courtesy of Julien's Auctions ... after 40 bidders vied for the unique find. The high bid was $127k. It was projected to fetch somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000.

Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor recorded an album in the Cielo Drive house in 1992 -- long after the grizzly 1969 murders.

Trent ended up taking the door with him before the place was demolished. He took it to his New Orleans recording space but left it behind in 2004 when he relocated his studio.

From there, a doctor bought Trent's recording space and pulled the door out of the trash when he learned about its history. The door was then purchased from the doctor by a man named Christopher Moore in 2017. Eventually, the door made its way to Julien's Auctions.

No word on who bought the door, but it will certainly be quite the conversation piece.

Sharon's sister, Debra, told us she was disgusted the door was being sold ... saying it should be destroyed, given its macabre history.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Interview with a man who did time with Manson

An interview with Jamie Morgan Kane, a man who spent 34 years in the California Prison System for a murder he claims to have not committed. 

Jamie speaks on his time in some of the most violent prisons in the USA, his personal interactions with dangerous serial killers Charles Manson and Ed Kemper, and relays his eventual journey to freedom. 

He makes some very interesting comments about Tex.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Friday, August 18, 2023

Roman Polanski At 90

 Director Roman Polanski celebrates his 90th birthday on August 18th. He was the husband to Sharon Tate, and father to their unborn son, Paul Richard Polanski. Roman was friends with Voytek Frykowski from an early age, growing up in Poland. Roman was also friends with Jay Sebring and Abigail Folger.

After the Tate-LaBianca murders, Roman was interviewed by police, and subsequently conducted his own personal and private investigation of the murders at his home on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles. He will forever be a part of the immense story that is the Tate-LaBianca murders.


Please click on the video below to view photos of Roman through the decades.

Music by: Saint Etienne, Join Our Club, Heavenly Records, 1992.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Abigail Folger At 80

Abigail Folger would have had a birthday on August 11th, and this would have been her 80th. Please click on the video below to remember Abigail.

Music by: Paul Mauriat, Love Is Blue, Phillips Records, 1968.


Monday, August 7, 2023

Fugs Avalon Ballroom Poster


Every once in a while, you run across something that marginally has to do with Charles Manson. This is one of those things.

April 12, 13 and 14, 1968 The Fugs played at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. They were the headliners. On the bill with them were the Ace of Cups, an all-girl band that not only played all the instruments but also wrote their own music. Rolling Stone magazine did an article on them in 2022 if you want to learn more about the band. The opening act was Allmen Joy. Allmen Joy was psychedelic rock band. 

Those particular dates were Easter weekend, Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday which undoubtedly inspired the theme of the poster. It was drawn by Jaxon, a pseudonym of Jack Edward Jackson. Jackson was a co-founder of the Rip Off Press and was the art director of the poster division for Chet Helms’ Family Dog productions.

April 15, 1968 is the legal birthdate of Michael Brunner aka Pooh Bear. It’s safe to say that mother Mary was not exactly sure when Michael was born, she admits it freely, but apparently the birth was sometime around Easter week of 1968. It’s too bad the Family didn’t keep track of time and dates; they missed a golden opportunity to declare that Michael was the second coming of Christ. They were off by one day.  

The poster is set up a little like a playing card but instead of mirror images, right side up and upside down, it features an image of a serene Rasputin-ish Jesus Christ on top with the opposite, a disorganized, chaotic antichrist, on the lower half. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the lower image is the devil but it’s close.

While we all know that Manson projected a Christ like persona, whether he actually stated this himself or his followers deduced it from his many lectures, it is the lower half of the poster that contains more Manson-esque parallels.

The first thing that jumps out is the swastika that dangles overhead in the spider-like doo-hickey. There are three more swastikas in the crown.

The military medals in the poster remind us that Manson had a fascination with war, particularly the Civil War and World War II. The lone head at the bottom hanging off a ribbon used for medals appears to be the head of Hitler.

The dark pink, dare I say Barbie pink, circle on the left eye of the antichrist is reminiscent of the “okay” hand gesture Susan placed over her left eye in a photo op on one of her many trips to the courthouse during the trial.

The overall feeling of the lower half of the poster is doom with many skull-like figures. On the left, looking at the lower half reversed, there are seven skulls and seven crosses that could signify all the victims of the Tate and LaBianca murders.

The bands did not have any say-so on what the poster for their show would look like. The posters were drawn for specific shows and specific dates and were only used at that particular venue. In other words, The Fugs did not have any input as to the poster’s content.

Ed Sanders and The Fugs were not darlings of the establishment at the time. There’s a page in the FBI files on The Doors that discusses The Fugs.  It relates the damage done to our nation’s youth because of the lyrics in their songs. The Fugs were vilified in the document dated one month before the Avalon Ballroom concert.

Little did anyone know in the spring of 1968 that Charles Manson and the Family would make an about face from a slippy, dippy band of carefree souls to become one of the most discussed bands of criminals to span two centuries.

Nor, in the spring of 1968 did anyone know that a counterculture singer and songwriter, Ed Sanders of The Fugs, would write a best-selling book with multiple updated editions about Manson and his Family.

Artist Jaxon created one heck of a coincidence when he drew the poster in the spring of 1968.



The poster or postcard can be purchased at Wolfgang’s or other online retailers.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Leslie is out!


Out of curiosity I went to the California Inmate Locator website and looked for Leslie Van Houten.

She is no longer listed as being a prisoner of the state of California. I can only assume that she has been released to a halfway house.

That was fast!

California Inmate Locator webpage

Thanks to Jenn for providing a link to an Associated Press article to confirm that Leslie was indeed released on parole.

AP article

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Newsom says he won't contest parole ruling for former Manson follower Leslie Van Houten

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will not challenge an appellate court's ruling allowing the release of former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten.

"The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal's decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed," said Erin Mellon, communications director for the Office of the Governor. "The California Supreme Court accepts appeals in very few cases, and generally does not select cases based on this type of fact-specific determination."

In a split ruling in May, a state appeals court panel reinstated a grant of parole for the former Manson follower overturning an earlier decision by Newsom to block her release.

Van Houten, now 73, is serving a potential life prison sentence for taking part in the killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their Los Feliz home more than 50 years ago. 

In this September 6, 2017, file photo, Leslie Van Houten reacts after hearing she is eligible for parole during a hearing at the California Institution for Women in Corona, California. 

In the 2-1 ruling by the panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal, Associate Justice Helen I. Bendix wrote, "Van Houten has shown extraordinary rehabilitative efforts, insight, remorse, realistic parole plans, support from family and friends, favorable institutional reports, and, at the time of the governor's decision, had received four successive grants of parole."... Under these circumstances, Van Houten's unchanging historical risk factors do not provide some evidence that she is currently dangerous and unsuitable for parole," Bendix wrote.

A state parole board had recommended parole for Van Houten in November 2021, marking the fifth time for such a decision.

Four earlier parole recommendations for Van Houten were rejected by governors, including Newsom.  

Newsom had blocked parole for Van Houten in March 2022, writing that, "Given the extreme nature of the crime in which she was involved, I do not believe she has sufficiently demonstrated that she has come to terms with the totality of the factors that led her to participate in the vicious Manson Family killings. Before she can be safely released, Ms. Van Houten must do more to develop her understanding of the factors that caused her to seek acceptance from such a negative, violent influence, and perpetrate extreme acts of wanton violence."

"More than 50 years after the Manson cult committed these brutal offenses, the victims' families still feel the impact, as do all Californians. Governor Newsom reversed Ms. Van Houten's parole grant three times since taking office and defended against her challenges of those decisions in court," said Mellon.

Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles "Tex" Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the August 1969 killings of grocer Leno LaBianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife, Rosemary, who were each stabbed multiple times in their Los Feliz home. 

The former Monrovia High School cheerleader, who was 19 at the time, did not participate in the Manson family's killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a Benedict Canyon mansion the night before.

A request in May 2020 to release Van Houten, who was then 70, on bail or her own recognizance due to her high risk of contracting COVID-19 was denied. 

Original Article

Thursday, June 29, 2023


After waiting for decades (he says 20 years okay sure) and harassing and stalking old people, Tom O'Neill's book Chaos came out. And it was just a turbo charged version of Maury Terry's ludicrous book ULTIMATE EVIL. The Col reviewed it and mocked it and, aside from some Q anon people on Instagram think he book went almost no where;Vera Dreiser masturbated with it (Tom himself!) and then nada. Since the book was a nothing burger, no one has done serious research to take his shit down. The UnderGround Bunker, a great site fighting against vile Scientology, used first hand research and more to take this shitty book to task. This is a long work. It destroys a HUGE portion of Tom's fictional book. Take the time to read and digest it all ------------------------------ 

  Jon Atack takes issue with new theory about Charles Manson that ignores Scientology Tony Ortega Undergrund Bunker Charles Manson and his ‘Family’ will always stir up fascination, because of the horrifying brutality of the slayings in Los Angeles in 1969, and the mythology that has been so dexterously spun around them. Manson was the pied piper who brainwashed runaway girls in his orgiastic, drug-crazed sex cult and then loosed them on a rampage of murder in the attempt to begin a race war in the US. A war named for The Beatles’ song Helter-Skelter, which would also be the title of the book that made prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi rich. That narrative took a beating when Tom O’Neill’s book CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties came out in 2019. The prestigious Times Literary Supplement dubbed it a ‘masterpiece’ and the book sold like hot cakes. I eagerly checked the book’s index for ‘Scientology,’ to see what O’Neill had added to the secret internal Scientology files in my collection. I knew Manson had been deeply involved with the famous mind control training. Finding not a single mention of Scientology, I looked then for a reference to Manson’s autobiography, Without Conscience. There were only two paragraphs, and they related to a pair of spectacles left at the Sharon Tate crime scene. O’Neill ignored the autobiography’s numerous references to Scientology. In his 200-page account, Manson himself said that he had been ‘heavily into dianetics and scientology.’ At that point I put O’Neill’s book aside without reading any further. After a recent video chat, YouTuber Eric Hunley, referring to O’Neill’s book, asked if I knew that my late friend Jolly West had programmed the Manson Family. I was aghast. In my experience, Jolly was a friendly, compassionate, and helpful man. Not the sort of person who would systematically create mayhem and murder. When we first met in 1988 Professor Louis Jolyon ‘Jolly’ West, MD, was the head of the department of neuroscience and biobehavior at UCLA Medical School. We were not close, but we met four times over the next few years, and spent hours talking each time. On our second meeting, his assistant told me he kept two books on his desk – the Bible and my Piece of Blue Sky. She said he would read a few paragraphs whenever he took a break. It cheered him to see that the history of this group which had caused him so much trouble had finally been printed.
Jolly had been an out-spoken critic of Scientology for almost forty years by this time. He had fought off several suits filed against him by Scientology. In a speech to the American Psychiatric Association, he once said, ‘I would like to advise my colleagues that I consider Scientology a cult and L. Ron Hubbard a quack and a fake. I wasn’t about to let them intimidate me.’ He threw down the gauntlet. After sixteen unrelenting years of my own harassment by Scientologists, I can assure you that this was a brave stance. Jolly was an important speaker at Cult Awareness Network and American Family Foundation conferences. I have a recording of an excellent history of hypnotism from one CAN conference. Unlike most in his profession, Jolly recognised the value of hypnotism, a practice that has seen a resurgence in the decades since his death in 1999. Jolly determinedly shared sound information about hypnotism and the potential dangers of hypnotic states at a time when academia smirked at the subject (by the 1970s, only six out of ninety US university courses on psychology included any mention of it). By demonstrating hypnotism, he helped many, many people to avoid control through exploitative persuasion or ‘mind control.’ Hardly the psychopath portrayed by O’Neill, because by definition, psychopaths have no desire to help others. Jolly was a polymath and one of the most intelligent and well-informed people I’ve ever met. Our last meeting was in London. He was en route to a celebration of the work of Patrick O’Brian, author of the Master and Commander novels. Jolly was invited to speak about the accuracy of O’Brian’s descriptions of surgery during the Napoleonic Wars. One of many subjects on which he was expert. Jolly’s research into drugs was well known, especially through the death of the elephant Tusko during the crazy period when LSD was used in experiments on both human and animal subjects by hundreds of researchers around the world (I long ago interviewed an English psychiatrist who had given LSD to an eight-year-old child. It was a time of innocence and stupidity, when hallucinogens were handed out like candy). When I was invited to apply for a doctoral degree for A Piece of Blue Sky by Aarhus University, Jolly was quick to write a fulsome letter of support. He not only stood up to Scientology and other authoritarian sects, but was also active with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Another potentially dangerous pursuit. I was surprised when Tom O’Neill said a former colleague had labelled Jolly ‘the only benevolent psychopath I ever met.’ Psychopaths are not likely to take up good causes. Jolly had put himself in the firing line with both cults and the at times murderous enemies of civil rights. O’Neill also tells us that for forty years Jolly was ‘vehemently against capital punishment,’ an unlikely position for a true psychopath. In CHAOS, O’Neill argues that for twenty years Jolly West was a principal investigator for the CIA’s deplorable MKULTRA mind control programs. As O’Neill says, there were 149 separate ‘experiments’ carried out under the aegis of MKULTRA during that period. He goes on to say that ‘Surviving records name eighty institutions, including forty-four universities and colleges, and 185 researchers…’ O’Neill cites a 1977 New York Times article, which tells us that MKULTRA was ‘a secret twenty-five year, twenty-five million dollar effort by the CIA to learn how to control the human mind.’ Most accounts agree that the program flopped (Naomi Klein takes an interesting contrary position that is highly relevant; but not to our discussion). In an interview with Eric Hunley, Tom O’Neill says that Jolly West was ‘the MKULTRA psychiatrist who I’ve uncovered documents showing that he was a pivotal part of the MKULTRA program for twenty years, and he practically wrote the blueprint for it with Sydney Gottlieb…’ This is a monumental claim based upon a handful of circumstantial evidence. O’Neill does admit his personal disdain for Jolly during their only conversation, where he says Jolly ‘droned on for so long I cut the interview short.’ I never knew Jolly to ‘drone on.’ He was one of the most fascinating conversationalists I’ve ever met. O’Neill tells us that ‘West became my white whale.’ It’s a telling remark, because this makes O’Neill the fervently obsessed Captain Ahab of Melville’s great novel (‘a grand, ungodly, god-like man’). Ahab goes to his death to destroy the white whale in revenge for it taking his leg off. Of course, in the novel – spoiler alert – Captain Ahab goes down lassoed to the whale. I hope the same will not be true for Tom O’Neill. He has done remarkable research, so a follow-up book on the Scientology connection might well save him. O’Neill’s obsession with Jolly is compounded by several statements, peppered throughout his 400-page book. He wants us to believe that Jolly West programmed Manson, but says, ‘I could never prove that he’d [West] examined Manson himself – or that they’d ever met.’ He makes this overblown statement: ‘As a self-styled brainwashing expert, he’d [West] been present whenever mind control reared its ugly head in American culture. Murders, assassinations, kidnappings, cults, prisoners of war – his fingerprints were on all of them.’ All of them? Thousands of people were subjected to Bluebird, MKULTRA, MKNAOMI. West could not possibly have ‘been present’ in every case, and O’Neill gives us no shred of evidence of involvement in any vicious act on Jolly’s part, let alone ‘murders’ or ‘assassination’. Further, O’Neill tells us, ‘I didn’t have a smoking gun … I worried I never would … I could poke a thousand holes in the story [of the killings], but I couldn’t say what really happened. In fact, the major arms of my research were often in contradiction with one another. … to imagine state, local and federal law enforcement cooperating in perfect harmony, with the courts backing them up – it made no sense. What I’d uncovered was something closer to an improvised, shambolic effort to contain the sequence of events without tripping on something. I was a lousy conspiracy theorist … because I wanted nothing left to the realm of the theoretical.’ In the end, however, almost everything is left in ‘the realm of the theoretical.’ And ‘an improvised, shambolic effort to contain the sequence of events without tripping on something’ comes very close to Manson’s own account. O’Neill continues in the same vein, ‘My theory that Manson and West were linked was tenuous, circumstantial, lying solely in the fact that they’d walked the same corridors of the same clinic. Wouldn’t it be more effective to argue that the entire prosecution of Manson was a sham, with Helter Skelter as a cover-up? … Maybe Jolly West didn’t even belong in the book.’ O’Neill then goes with what he himself calls the ‘most “far out” theory,’ which is ‘that Manson was tied to an MKULTRA effort to create assassins who would kill on command.’ I’m dissatisfied that sufficient evidence is provided to draw this conclusion. Or indeed, any evidence. It doesn’t reach the ‘realm of the theoretical’ because it is actually hypothetical rather than theoretical. It remains an untested, unproven hypothesis, a ‘theory’ requires evidence. O’Neill believes that Jolly had ‘claimed to have achieved the impossible’ that ‘he knew how to replace “true memories” with “false ones” in human beings without their knowledge.’ Yet, bringing people to manufacture false memories is an everyday experience. Most people who have undergone ‘past life regression’ (a favourite technique in Scientology) have readily created memories that they will believe to be real, although they can provide no evidence (such memories would include the language spoken by them at the time. No medieval French has been recovered from supposed reincarnated survivors of Agincourt nor any other instance, despite myriad hours of Scientology ‘processing’). One formerly very high-ranking, long-term Scientologist told me she’d seen about two hundred believers reporting that they had been Jesus. At least 199 were mistaken. UK mentalist Derren Brown has induced false memories (and beliefs) during his TV shows within minutes. Elizabeth Loftus spent a career studying the induction of false memories. It is far from ‘impossible.’ In his 1961 study of returnees from Chinese Thought Reform Camps, Robert Jay Lifton calls the change of memory ‘ideology over experience’ or ‘doctrine over person’ where the individual replaces a memory with the group’s description of events.
O’Neill does show that Jolly West had contact with the head of the dreadful MKULTRA program, Sydney Gottlieb. The two corresponded in the 1950s, but Gottlieb used an assumed name (Sherman Grifford). O’Neill does not prove that West was aware that the correspondent was Gottlieb. As O’Neill says, CHAOS, another CIA program, was so secret that when William Colby was appointed director of the CIA, he wasn’t told of its existence. This secrecy extended to the funding of the 149 projects in MKULTRA. A host of front groups were created through which monies could be channelled. These included ‘Chemrophyl Associates’ – the letterhead for ‘Sherman Grifford’ in his correspondence to Jolly West. It is possible and indeed highly likely that Jolly West did indeed receive funding indirectly from the CIA, however, we need to put the CIA’s research projects into context. The CIA represented the US government. While its activities were deplorable, immoral, and illegal — and its members deserved to be incarcerated in mental asylums or prisons — it nonetheless represented a legitimate government and was considered to be ‘making the world safe for democracy’ until the early 1970s, when Victor Marchetti pierced the veil of silence. In his study, Science of Coercion, Communication Research & Psychological Warfare 1945-1960, Professor Christopher Simpson found that over 90 percent of psychological research in the US in the two decades after the war was sponsored by the military: “Military, intelligence, and propaganda agencies such as the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency helped to bankroll substantially all of the post-World War II generation’s research into techniques of persuasion, opinion measurement, interrogation, political and military mobilization, propagation of ideology, and related questions. The persuasion studies, in particular, provided much of the scientific underpinning for modern advertising and motivational techniques. This government-financed communication research went well beyond what would have been possible with private sector money alone and often exploited military recruits, who comprised a unique pool of test subjects.” Which is not to say that the research was morally proper. The various foundations created as fronts were to prevent researchers from knowing the source of their funds. The only possible connection that O’Neill can make is that Jolly West used a ‘crash pad’ in Haight Ashbury in 1967 to monitor the effects of LSD on hippies who were invited to trip there. Some of those hippies were referred by the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic which Manson attended. End of connection. That’s everything O’Neill has about the relationship between Jolly West and Charles Manson. O’Neill would have us believe that Jolly West manipulated Manson for two years. He cannot show that they communicated in any way. He does not track any coincidence in their movements during that two years either. The methods of manipulation are also given scant attention. O’Neill tells us that ‘Manson … had used LSD to collect and reprogram his followers.’ But he also reports Jolly West’s conclusion that ‘Acid … made people more difficult to hypnotize: it was better to pair hypnosis with long bouts of isolation and sleep deprivation.’ He adds to this Dr Eugene Schofield’s assertion that ‘LSD produced disorganized behavior, not violent behavior.’ This is supported by the literature. LSD would not be useful in creating programmed murderers – Manchurian candidates – because it has unpredictable effects. The CIA’s attempt to program students and soldiers with LSD failed. It disorientated rather than increasing obedience. They could find no effective way to distribute it to enemy soldiers and, after thousands of tests, LSD was abandoned as a chemical weapon. If O’Neill had paid attention to Manson’s Without Conscience, he would have found references to the drug most likely to have caused the psychotic behaviour of the Manson gang. O’Neill makes no mention of that drug. Tex Watson participated in both the Tate and the LaBianca murders. He and Manson both refer to a drug they call ‘talatche tea.’ By strange happenstance, at a meeting between us and Jolly West, my friend and colleague Steven Hassan asked Jolly what drug he thought had influenced the Manson Family. Extremely knowledgeable about drugs, without hesitation, Jolly said, ‘jimson weed.’ In Without Conscience, Manson says one ‘Indian Joe’ brought Family member Brenda ‘belladonna’ plants. The roots were boiled to make ‘talatche tea’ by her. Tex ‘picked up a large root and started scarfing it like he was eating an apple. Before the full effect hit him, Tex caught a ride into town. I wasn’t in the kitchen, nor did I know what was going on … I think it was the last time before the trials I saw Tex in what might be called his right mind.’ Manson says that Tex Watson took both ‘talatche’ and LSD before setting off on the Tate murders. After reviewing O’Neill’s and Manson’s books, I contacted an ethnobotanist, who very kindly explained that Manson and Watson had misspelled toloache, which is indeed jimson weed or datura. Here is his report:
‘Datura is common wild to the southwestern US and the Sonoran desert. It is sometimes called thorn apple, which refers to the thorny seed pods. It is also known as devil’s weed or hell’s bells. Once you know what to look for you can spot them all over. Manson and crew would have had ready access to datura around Spahn Ranch and the Simi Hills. It’s pretty easy to get into mischief with datura. It’s free and broadly distributed and will get you loaded, though at a potentially horrific cost. Datura has alluring trumpet-shaped blossoms. In the US West you will find abundant datura, also known as jimson weed or locoweed. All parts of the plant contain the highly toxic tropane alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. The plant is easily located along roads, and is a source of poisoning for both people and animals. The tropane alkaloids are potent medicines in broad pharmaceutical use today. The effects of toloache’ vary greatly according to how you take it. If you make a tea, then it is a very risky business. ‘A mild datura tea may produce somewhat pleasant and dreamy effects, but a stronger tea will be a whole other bad thing. Visions on datura tend to be dark, crazy, evil, gravely disturbing. Most people become distraught and will not take a strong dose twice. It’s the definition of a bad trip. And if the tea is too strong, then you ride a gurney into that big hotel for dead souls. Thousands have died consuming datura in various forms. The seeds of datura may be ground finely and used as a poison or to intoxicate others such that they become open to suggestion. This is currently a known practice among robbers in Colombia. Finely ground seeds are blown into people’s faces, they inhale the powder, and become malleable and empty their ATM’s to robbers. The powdered seeds are also put into drinks, rendering the unsuspecting incapacitated and easy to rob. The Thuggee cult of India, from which we derive the word thug, used datura preparations regularly to kill and rob. It’s a very powerful poison, fast acting, associated with the goddess Kali.’ Datura belongs in a stronger class of drugs than LSD. It is a ‘deleriant’: due to its primary effect of causing delirium, as opposed to the more lucid and less disturbed states produced by other hallucinogens. Manson said, ‘I still don’t believe any of the violence would have erupted if we had controlled the drugs instead of letting them control us.’ It isn’t possible to control datura. It turns the whole world into a hallucination, a living nightmare. We come – at last – to Manson’s involvement with Scientology. In his interview with Eric Hunley – but nowhere in his book – is O’Neill’s single statement about the influence Scientology might have had on Manson: ‘The official narrative is that he audited or was audited for about a hundred hours and absorbed a lot of the techniques, a lot of the language of this ‘religion’ and then walked away from it, but a lot of it stayed, you know, stuff about ego and … all this word play. The question is, was there more to that? … Scientology had been infiltrated by federal agents too, who were using it to accomplish things. And there’s an interesting character who was the one who taught Manson Scientology, who later represented Squeaky Fromm after the assassination attempt of Gerald Ford … in ’75 … Lanier Ramer … Bruce Davis … was suspected in a couple of other murders, including two Scientology teenagers in LA in November of ’69’. I’d love to see information about this use by federal agents of Scientology. The only time I’ve heard it before was back in 1983 from Hubbard’s ‘Second Deputy Commodore’ Captain Bill Robertson, who assured me that Scientology had been taken over by the FBI as part of the alien invasion of Earth which was already underway with two hundred thousand Marcabians in Switzerland under the cover of Transcendental Meditation and the Freemasons. The occasional infiltrator from the intelligence community perhaps, but agents working to ‘accomplish’ something using Scientology? That’s new to me. While I was working on this piece, Steven Hassan, PhD, wrote a column for Psychology Today about the parole request for Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten. To our surprise, Psychology Today pulled the reference to Manson’s Scientology experience. You can see Steve’s response and my email to the timorous magazine here. The expurgated Psychology Today article is here. Scientology relied on a 1971 Guardian newspaper article where the allegation of Manson’s involvement was withdrawn after litigation. This disingenuous tactic conceals Scientology’s certain knowledge that Manson received about 150 hours of dianetic and scientology ‘processing’ from his cell mate Lanier Ramer over a fourteen-month period at McNeil Island penitentiary beginning in 1962. Files seized by the FBI show that Scientology tried to suppress any mention of this involvement. I brought it up in the original edition of Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky back in 1990. Scientology made no attempt to sue me over the claim, despite launching suits against the book in both New York and London. One of the seized internal Scientology Guardian’s Office documents is headed ‘Re: Our disinformation action on the Process re Manson.’ The Process was a Scientology splinter group that caused Scientology a headache when it was alleged that Manson had been involved with it. Deliberate ‘disinformation’ has been a usual tactic for Scientology for decades, to ‘find or manufacture enough threat … to cause them to sue for peace … Don’t ever defend. Always attack,’ in Ron Hubbard’s words. The key word is ‘manufacture.’ In 1979, Mary Sue Hubbard, Hubbard’s wife and Controller of the Guardian’s Office, was sentenced to five years imprisonment for a long list of crimes including kidnapping, false imprisonment, theft, bugging and burglary. She oversaw the Manson cover-up, which was part of ‘Operation Rawhide.’ Manson was apprehended for the Tate-LaBianca killings in October 1969. On 22 June 1970, a full month before his trial began, a ‘compliance report’ concerning Manson and Family member Bruce Davis was sent to Mary Sue Hubbard. It detailed Manson’s ‘approximately 150 hours of auditing’ and his practice of Training Routine 0 (TR-0) with cell mate Lanier Ramer (a drill that is done for ‘some hours’ according to Hubbard’s instructional bulletin). The report adds that ‘for a time,’ Manson would ‘talk about nothing but Scientology to the extent that people avoided his company.’ Later, he was ‘screaming to get away from his auditor.’ (In the opinion of the report’s author, Manson had been run for too long – or ‘over-run’ – on a ‘process’). This report also says that Leslie Van Houten was ‘interested’ in Scientology. Elsewhere, there is mention of Sandra Good, another Family member, also having an interest in Scientology. Four of the key players in the Manson story had an involvement in a sophisticated system of thought reform. As part of Mary Sue Hubbard’s ‘disinformation’ campaign, the Guardian’s Office had Lanier Ramer sign an affidavit to the effect that he was not a Scientology ‘minister,’ saying ‘I have at no time held nor claimed any licensed, certified, official, or employee position within any Church of Scientology.’ He seems to have been a very dedicated Scientologist, however. A Scientology timeline of Ramer says that he ‘supposedly told Riverside PD that he robbed the bank in order to get money for Scn. courses.’ (‘Scn’ here means ‘Scientology.’) There is no secret that Scientology is an indoctrination in control techniques. Hubbard called this ‘infinite control’ or ‘8C’ (Hubbard often used the number 8 in place of the infinity symbol: ∞). There are many Scientology drills and processes that are supposed to lead to ‘8C’ or ‘Tone 40’ control. The manipulation of others’ emotions is part of the basic drilling of all Scientologists. Manson describes his time in the Gibault Catholic Boys Home from the age of twelve, saying ‘being under five feet tall and weighing less than sixty-five pounds … I was easy pickings for the bullies.’ He spent most of the next fifteen years in institutions being picked on by the bullies. Then he was initiated into the control methods of Scientology – including the famous thousand-mile ‘TR-0’ stare that he and other Scientologists are commonly associated with. We do not know the extent to which Scientology training was a part of Manson’s authority over the Family, but it should surely find a place in any analysis of his behaviour. It is likely that he passed on other elements of Scientology belief to his followers – as may the other three Scientologists in the Family. He certainly shared Scientology’s core belief in reincarnation. Perhaps he taught Training Routines to members of the gang too. As these constitute the first step of Scientology indoctrination, it is likely that Bruce Davis, Leslie Van Houten and Sandra Good were already acquainted with what cult expert Steven Hassan has called ‘the most overt use of hypnosis by any cult group.’ Manson himself said that in 1962 in prison, where he had just learned to read: ‘I studied hypnotism and psychiatry. I found whatever books I could find (and understand) that dealt with mind development. A cell partner turned me on to scientology. With him and another guy I got pretty heavily into dianetics and scientology. Through this and my other studies, I came out of my state of depression. I was understanding myself better, had a positive outlook on life, and knew how to direct my energies to each day and each task. I had more confidence in myself and went the way I chose to go, whereas previously, I had always been content to listen and follow.’ If only Scientology hadn’t bolstered Manson’s confidence. Scientology is the most elaborate and perhaps the most successful system of behaviour modification ever devised. Fervent Scientologists have included NASA scientists, theoretical physicists, high-power trial attorneys, politicians, sociologists, medical doctors – even one psychiatrist – and, of course, many famous actors, composers and musicians. Hubbard rarely told the truth, but when he said of Scientology, ‘We have ways of making slaves here’ and ‘We can brainwash faster than the Russians,’ he was offering his honest opinion. If Manson made slaves, if Manson brainwashed his followers, we must look to his time in Scientology and carefully consider its significance. O’Neill spent twenty years researching CHAOS. He added a great deal of information to the record but as he tells us about one potential interview, ‘I was overthinking everything, and then overthinking my overthinking.’ The book is drenched in speculation. While O’Neill does put to rest the corrupt prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s myth of ‘Helter Skelter,’ he replaces it with a far more elaborate and fanciful idea: that the Manson gang’s murders were the consequence of ‘programming’ by Jolly West. He tells us nothing about this programming process. I’ve spent a lifetime investigating the methods of brainwashing, mind control, thought reform, coercive control – call it what you will – and it is vital to have details of any such program; the often incremental steps. The frightening documentary Manson: The Lost Tapes was not available to O’Neill. It shows remaining ‘Family’ members only days after Manson’s arrest and the later testimony of the girls then filmed is a keen insight into the madness of the Family. None of them mention Jolly West. Jolly is indeed O’Neill’s white whale. Chaos is not the only place where he heaps blame upon Jolly. In an interview with Eric Hunley, O’Neill says West ‘snapped’ Ruby into insanity in a single session. No corroborating evidence is offered and no explanation of the method used. In an article in The Intercept, O’Neill asserts ‘Louis Jolyon West seems to have used chemicals and hypnosis liberally in his medical practice, possibly leading to the death of a child and the execution of an innocent man.’ If West could do this in 1954 – when these dreadful events took place – the whole MKULTRA program would have been redundant: if O’Neill’s speculation is accepted, a programmed killer had been made and the CIA’s quest was complete. The program continued for another twenty years without, as far as we know, achieving this objective. While I’ve met many people who were exploited into allowing others to interpret their reality, I’ve yet to find any case among the thousands I’ve looked into where anyone was turned into a compliant robot (my own Opening Our Minds explores the many ways in which obedience, groupthink and deliberate thought reform work). Yes, it is possible to make people act against their own best interests and even their own morality, even to sacrifice their lives for the good of a bogus cause, but to maintain murderous conviction requires rather more than a few positive suggestions and a few tabs of LSD. In fact, the first stage of mind control is the creation of feelings of knowing, a spurious ‘certainty.’ This ‘certainty’ is based upon belief rather than evidence. Mind control is undone when the individual discards the feelings of knowing, the sense of certainty, by accepting hard evidence that they are just feelings. O’Neill has successfully convinced many people of his own certainty. As yet, as he admits, he has only circumstantial evidence to support that certainty. It remains an unproven hypothesis; a speculation, worth further investigation, but not yet worth believing. In O’Neill’s account, West has become a magician with supernatural abilities beyond description or explanation. But O’Neill is not Captain Ahab. He worked not for revenge but in the hope of understanding an awful series of events. That is a noble endeavour. He amassed a mountain of research, and his work was meticulous. I do not question his integrity, just his conclusions. — Jon Atack