Saturday, January 30, 2010
The Manson Fairy Tale
[This was an article that I was writing for the LA Weekly as part of the 40th Anniversary Hoopla. They didn't have the balls to run it. It is not finished, but does summarize a lot of what we have learned on the Blog]
The Manson Fairy Tale
On the night of August 8, 1969, five people were viciously and savagely murdered by strangers in their Bel Air mansion. This included a movie actress/wife of a famous director, a young heiress to a coffee fortune, her suave drug dealing boyfriend, the famed men’s hairstylist to the stars and some poor random boy who had stopped by for a gay hookup with the caretaker. The next night, August 9, 1969, a couple that owned a string of grocery stores was murdered in their posh Los Feliz home. Things were written in blood on the walls of both houses. Stabbings were too multiple to count.
It was eventually revealed that one murderous psychopathic male had led a group of very young girls on both nights of slaughter.
You’re now thinking in your head- “Of course, man, Charles Manson. Get on with it.”
Except it wasn’t. It was a young, good looking boy from Texas named Charles Watson. This unfeeling, deranged killer led a changing group of girls both nights on what they called “creepy crawl missions” that left nine dead over two nights, including a nine month pregnant woman.
Charles Manson wasn’t within twenty miles of any of the murders when they occurred.
So why did you think of him first, rather than “Tex” Watson?
You can thank Vincent T. Bugliosi and his fairy tale called HELTER SKELTER.
George and the Dragon-
In the traditional fable of George and the Dragon, St. George is a brave warrior who captures a dragon and basically kicks the living crap out of it, enslaving the dragon with a collar which he uses to drag him back to town. The dragon, now essentially a pussy, is described by George in the most demonic terms possible. Because after all, the bigger and badder the dragon, the better the hero George is for capturing it. George then uses the dragon and the FEAR of the dragon to make the town afraid and force it to submit to his will and pray.
The initial prosecutor of the Manson case was one Aaron Stovitz. He was a spectacular force of nature. A strong prosecutor. HE wasn’t even sure that Manson was worth going after. Manson wasn’t even AT the first crime scene and left the second before any killings happened. And he knew he already HAD the actual killers cold. One of the girls Patricia Krenwinkel had left her fingerprints at the Tate house and had left her handwriting on the ridge at the Los Feliz home. Leader Watson’s fingerprints were found at the Tate house. Clothing belonging to all of the killers was found. And fellow murderess Susan Atkins was confessing to pretty much every one she came across.
Stovitz HAD the actual murderers COLD. They weren’t going anywhere.
But Stovitz succumbed to the spotlight and gave one too many interviews to the media circus.. This led to the judge having him removed from the case. And this led to Vincent Buglosi becoming lead prosecutor. Vincent Bugliosi, who prior to the case had been involved in a scandal in which he stalked his milkman because he was convinced he was the father of his son. Vincent Bugliosi, who SUBSEQUENT to the case would assault his mistress for not getting an abortion he paid for. Vincent Bulgliosi who weaved a fairy tale to the jury and then packaged that fairy tale into the best selling crime book ever. In the United Kingdom they have an expression- there’s no show without Punch. For the last FORTY years Bugliosi has made it a point to show up on any (and I mean any- Bertice Berry for god’s sake!) television show concerning Manson. The Dragon Manson has made him rich and famous- he has fed off the myth of Manson more than anyone has even bothered to consider over the last forty years.
And in return, the public has been fed a ludicrous fairy tale involving race wars and bottomless pits and Beatles songs.
Oh please, don’t start your bullshit. No Manson is not a nice guy. No I don’t feel sorry for him. He was a five foot two punk who had spent over half his life in prison. He was a thief, a pimp, a drug dealer. A piece of shit. He belongs in prison and is likely happy where he is.
But thanks to the lies of Bugliosi, Rolling Stone labeled him “The Most Dangerous Man Alive” and today his name is synonymous with evil when in fact he was the loser son of a prostitute who fell through society’s cracks. A nothing.
My handle on the web is ColScott and I run the Official Tate LaBianca Blog. http://tatelabianca.blogspot.com/ Have done so since 2005, as part of an lifelong interest in the case and as part of a vacuum created at that time when two of the major Manson sites shut down. I’ve had the opportunity to spend hundreds of hours, talking to principal players- killers, lawyers and victims’ families. The main purpose for the site is to try to undo the damage of the Bugliosi fairy tale. These murders were hideous and affected real people. They WERE committed by the people in jail, make no mistake about that. But common sense and the historical record show they were NOT committed for the reasons presented to the jury and to us.
Let’s take a look at the fairy tale, the genesis of the fairy tale, and Vincent Bugliosi himself.
As the Manson case was shaping up to be the trial of the Century, the newly appointed DA Bugliosi was faced with a dilemma. The guilty parties were all clearly guilty. Plenty of evidence to put all of them away. Indeed, even Bugliosi’s eventual star witness was scheduled to go down. And why not? She was guilty as hell, having driven to both crime scenes knowing what was going to happen and never once contacting authorities. But Bugliosi wanted his Dragon. It was the sixties. Hippies were everywhere. The counterculture was in full bloom. Bugliosi on the other hand was a lawyer. He wore suits. He had short hair, and a wife. He could not have been more opposite if he tried.
The police assumed the murders were drug related. Frykowski was a big dealer. Sebring he hairdresser was a big user. Watson also was a dealer. The Los Feliz couple were Mafia associates. The DA’s office also thought drugs was the reason. So, by the way, do I. After all, the two other crimes involving Manson and his Family that preceded the nights of slaughter were the murder of a drug dealing music teacher and the shooting of a black drug dealer gangster.
The problem was, the drug dealing motive doesn’t really tie in Manson. The only way to “get” Manson tied in to the case, since again he didn’t kill ANYBODY, was to make him the crazed hippy cult leader who controlled minds and forced his followers to kill. Somehow, THAT made sense to Bugliosi.
Now, take careful note that in order to prosecute Manson, indeed any of the killers, the prosecution was not required to show motive. They never are. They just needed to prove that they committed the crimes, for whatever reasons. But in his factually self serving book on the case, also called HELTER SKELTER, Bugliosi notes his belief that he indeed HAD to show motive for Manson, otherwise no one would convict him. He cites, rather smugly, the pre-trial wisdom from his colleagues and the press that he would never convict Manson. Of course, the pre-trial wisdom didn’t account for an ambitious prosecutor willing to just make shit up in order to convict.
As Bugliosi himself tells the story, he could not figure out why Manson ordered the murders. I hasten to note here that up to this point, NOBODY was claiming he had. Oh, sure, over the decades as one by one they come up for parole, each actual killer has tried to blame Charlie in some way or another. It’s fashionable. It’s in accordance with the myth. It lessens their own blame. But the most anyone was saying at this point was that Charlie had told Tex to go to Terry Melcher’s old house in Bel Air and “do something witchy.” The fifty other times he had given people those instructions nobody got murdered. But they sure did this time. Why?
What Bugliosi then did was a masterpiece of storytelling. He was a dogged investigator who interviewed everyone he could. He took a piece of information from one person and a piece from another. It didn’t matter if said person had something to gain from lying or if said person even made sense. Piece by piece he took his tidbits. And then when he had his canvas full of “facts” he worked them all, massaged them, and came up with the big Fairy Tale. The Big Lie. Helter Skelter. A tale that would certainly scare the living shit out of white Americans, especially the twelve on the jury. A tale that would resonate with the riots that were happening at the time. A tale that didn’t matter if it was true- it FELT as if it SHOULD be true.
The glue that tied the tale together came from one of the youngest, best looking males in Manson’s group, Paul Watkins ( who would go on to write his own self-serving book, MY LIFE WITH CHARLES MANSON, now a collector’s item). Paul answered question, filled in the gaps, and even appeared in the Academy Award nominated documentary called MANSON playing his hippie tunes and confirming the fairy tale. And what was Paul doing while feeding Bugliosi’s imagination? Running the Family in Charlie’s absence, playing both sides so he could run his own little harem.
Now that we know where the story came from, just what was this amazing story ?
Manson’s motivation for what would ultimately be ten murders was to start a black white civil war, a war to end all wars in which every person would judge themselves and then take it out on every other person around them. The blacks would rise up out of the ghettos and slaughter the whites, according to some vague prophecies in the Biblical Book of Revelations. Every white person except Charlie and his followers who would be hiding out in a bottomless pit in Death Valley. Then, after insane amounts of slaughter, Charlie and his family, now grown to Biblical numbers, would rise out of the pit and, since blacks cannot really lead, the Family would take over the world, with Charlie as the leader.
Oh yeah, and the Beatles were sending Charlie messages through their songs on how to do this.
Please go back and read that paragraph again. The sheer insanity of it boggles the mind. It seems so patchwork and stitched together. It seems so drugged out. It seems so obviously the work of someone who needs psychiatric help.
And it is- it comes from the mind of Vincent Bugliosi whose own wife, according to affidavits filed in the 1970s when Bugliosi ran for District Attorney and lost, was urging him to seek mental help to no avail.
The story basically comes about like this. Bugliosi interviews a ranch hand who says Charlie talked about a bottomless pit full of rivers and honey while on a drug trip in Death Valley. He talks to a biker trying to get a stolen vehicle charge dismissed who says Charlie, during the Watts riots, was talking about a black uprising – pretty much like every one in Los Angeles at the time. Another visitor at the ranch mentions talking to Charlie about Revelations. Someone talks about how Charlie, who was more of a Johnny Cash kind of guy, was amused at how he had renamed one of his girls Sadie before ever hearing the Beatles song Sexy Sadie. And so on, until Paul Watkins helps Bugliosi stitch it all together and we have Helter Skelter.