Charlie Manson

Charles Manson's Hollywood, Part 12: The Manson Family on Trial by Karina Longworth

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The trials of the Manson family became a kind of public theater which a number of current and future filmmakers found themselves caught up in. Joan Didion bought a dress for a Manson girl to wear to court, Dennis Hopper visited Manson in prison, and a young John Waters attended the trial and took inspiration for his legendary film, Pink Flamingos

Show Notes:

Welcome to the final episode of our ongoing series, Charles Manson's Hollywood. As we speak, we are working on putting together our next, non-murdery season. It will begin some time in September -- follow us on Twitter for updates. 

This episode featured contributions from Moises Chullian, who played Richard Nixon; and, of course Nate DiMeo, concluding his run as Charles Manson. Special thanks to all of our guests on this series, including Wiley Wiggins, Max Linsky, TS Faull, Sam Zimmerman, Noah Segan and Ram Bergman.

Other sources for this episode include:

Charles Manson's trial testimony

Manson family ties

Charles Manson's fiancee wanted to marry him for his corpse

The episode also includes a clip from the Dennis Hopper film American Dreamer, which you can watch on YouTube, and one from Jann Wenner's December 1970 interview with John Lennon, which Rolling Stone has made available as a podcast.

Charles Manson's Hollywood #11: Death Valley '69 by Karina Longworth


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After the murders, Manson moved his family to the depths of the California desert. There, even before they were finally apprehended by the law, their utopia started to fall apart. Hollywood was in the process of being changed by Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider, a film shot partially in the same desert where Manson was now hiding. The Family and their flight to Death Valley -- and the impossible dream of the 60s revolution in general -- was soon thereafter unwittingly reflected in Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni's attempt to make a Hollywood studio film, Zabriskie Point, starring Hopper's future wife. 

Show Notes:

Special thanks to this week's special guests: Nate DiMeo reprised his role as Charles Manson, and we were lucky to have Max Linsky, of and the Longform Podcast, playing Mel Lyman. 

The base list of sources for this series can be found here. The second half of this episode, about Mel Lyman and Zabriskie Point, is indebted to a whole different set of sources:

The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America by David Felton, Rolling Stone, December 23, 1971

The Sorry Life and Death of Mark Frechette by Dave O'Brian, Rolling Stone, November 6, 1975

Once-Notorious '60s Commune Evolves Into Respectability: After 19 Years the Lyman Family Prospers as Craftsmen and Farmers.LA Times, August 4, 1985

Return to Zabriskie Point: The Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin Story, by Sam Tweedle, Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict

See also: the "four obscene words" editorial in Avatar; and the trailer for Zabriskie Point.

This episode is titled after the Sonic Youth song "Death Valley '69," which, as Kim Gordon explains in her memoir Girl in a Band, was partially inspired by the Manson family. I included a few other Sonic Youth songs just for their vibe; Gordon tells stories about many of them in her book. I particularly like the story about how "Halloween" was inspired by Henry Rollins.

The final song in this episode before the end credits was composed and submitted by YMRT listener Blake Godfrey. If you'd like to submit your music for consideration for use in a future episode, the best way to do that is by sending Karina a link to your stuff on Soundcloud or whatever streaming thing you prefer. 

Episode breakdown:

Intro: "Album Tag Song" by Dennis Wilson; "Modern Heavy Rock Guitar Top Line" royalty free loop

Woodstock: "Mellow Music Theme Instrumental" royalty free track

Spahn Ranch raided by Straight Satans and police: "Southern Rhythm Guitar" GarageBand loop

Shorty Shea's murder: "Psychedelic 6 Guitars Soundscape Mystery" royalty free track

Barker Ranch, Easy Rider connection: "Dark Melodic Metal Guitar Loop 1 Long" royalty free loop; "Death Valley '69" by Sonic Youth

Linda Kasabian leaves the Manson Family: "70s Acid Trip 2 Guitar Loop" royalty free loop

The Manson Family in the desert, preparing for Helter Skelter and searching for the Bottomless Pit; Juan Flynn; Danny DeCarlo's defection; Barbara Hoyt and Kitty Lutesinger want to leave; Barbara and Sherrie leave; Sherrie Doe's body is found: "Halloween" by Sonic Youth

Manson vs. Scientologist prospector Crockett; Juan Flynn's defection: "Stranger on a Train": by Sonic Youth

Hard times in the desert force Manson to beg from Gregg Jakobson; Charlie cracks the whip; the earth mover fire;: "Because Coda" by Sonic Youth

Rangers question Crockett about Manson Family; Crockett freaks out; Rangers find Tex Watson's Toyota: "Halloween" by Sonic Youth

Charlie tells Tex to shoot the Rangers; Tex defects; Kitty and Stephanie escape; the first raid on Barker Ranch; "Devastation and Revenge" by Kevin MacLeod

Charlie thinks he's escaped arrest; second raid on Barker Ranch; cops find Manson hiding in a cabinet; Charlie tries to talk his way out of arrest by invoking Helter Skelter; Kitty tells the police everything she knows; Susan talks to investigators about Gary Hinman; Susan spills to her jailhouse roommates; Virginia and Ronnie decide to snitch; Danny DeCarlo talks; LAPD announces they've cracked the Tate case: "Remembering Past Everything" by Pipe Choir

Zabriskie Point plot connections to the Manson Family: "Stormy Moods Orchestra" by Apache Tomcat

Zabriskie Point as doomed production; casting of Daria Halprin and Mark Frechette; Mel Lyman, the Fort Hill Community; Avatar Magazine and first amendment battles: "Railroad's Whiskey Co" by Jahzzar

Daria Halprin marries Dennis Hopper; Mark Frechette robs a bank; Frechette dies in prison; similarities between Lyman and Manson; future of Fort Hill; Manson's letter to Lyman"A Memory Starts" by Blake Godfrey

End Credits: "Pop Rock Guitar Rhythm Loop" royalty free loop

Outro: "Expressway To Yr Skull" by Sonic Youth

Charles Manson's Hollywood Part 4: Spahn Ranch and The Beatles' The White Album by Karina Longworth


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After wearing out his welcome at Dennis Wilson’s house, Manson moves his family to Spahn Ranch, a dilapidated Western movie set where the cult starts preparing for Helter Skelter, Manson's made-up apocalypse inspired by The Beatles. There, Manson becomes aligned with the Straight Satans motorcycle gang, and finds a new antagonist in ranch hand-turned-stuntman Shorty Shea.

Show Notes:

The base list of sources for this series can be found here

Gary Kent's stories about Spahn Ranch come from his memoir Shadows and Light: Journeys with Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood. This is a book that I only became aware of when researching this series, and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the genre films of the 60s. 

Catherine Share's stories of her life as Manson family member "Gypsy" come from aLos Angeles Magazine "oral history" of the Manson murders, published in 2009. 

Gay Talese wrote a typically excellent story about George Spahn and his ranch for Esquire in 1970. Curbed published an also very good longform piece about the history of the ranch last year.

And, the story of Windy Bucklee comes from an interview conducted with her published in 2013 on The Manson Family blog in two parts.

I've been getting a lot of emails about music in the episodes (ie: which song is playing at which specific point in a given episode), so I'm going to try something new with the discography (see below). If you totally hate it, let me know, but if I can manage to do the extra work every week I think it will be useful. 

While I'm on the subject, a note on email: I read everything I get, and try to respond to anything that has an active question in it, as long as the question isn't hostile or insulting. Sometimes it takes me awhile. I'm trying to get better. But, you will probably receive a faster (albeit briefer) answer if you contact me on Twitter @RememberThisPod -- and this would be an especially good way to get in touch if you have a question that other people might want to know the answer to. 

Episode breakdown:

Intro: "Album Tag Song" by Dennis Wilson, Royalty free "Modern Rock Heavy" guitar riff

Gary Kent's story about meeting Tex Watson and Patricia Krenwinkle on Spahn Ranch:  "Blues Guitar Jam" royalty free loop

Spahn Ranch's silent film origins: "Piano Sonata in C minor" (royalty free)

Manson Family moving onto Spahn Ranch: royalty free "clean strumming guitar" loop

Manson Family rituals on Spahn Ranch: "Roads that burned our boots" by Jahzzar

Catherine Share's first night at Spahn Ranch: "Psychedelic Guitars Movie Soundscape" royalty free loop

Spahn Ranch ranch hands Juan Flynn, Shorty Shea and Steve Grogan: "Last Dance" by Jahzzar

Juan Flynn's confrontation with Charlie: "Atmosphere Movie Guitar Transition" royalty free loop

Shorty Shea's campaign against Manson, the family's nomadic life, The Yellow Submarine house and Manson's beating of Windy Bucklee: "I'm Not Dreaming (Instrumental version)" by Josh Woodward

Manson goes all in on Spahn Ranch as base for Helter Skelter: "Dramatic Metal Guitar" royalty free loop

The White Album writing process: "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" by The Beatles

Manson's nutty, narcissistic, racist interpretation of The White Album: "Meditation, Re-energize, Beatles vibe" royalty free track (Yes, this is its actual title.); "Sexy Sadie"; "Piggies"; "Rocky Raccoon"; "Happiness is a Warm Gun"; "Revolution 1"; "Honey Pie"; "Helter Skelter"; all by The Beatles.

Manson's attempts to contact The Beatles: "Deep End Echo Piano" GarageBand loop

Manson's racist interpretation of "Helter Skelter": "Dark Melodic Metal Guitar" royalty free loop

Why the Family believed Charlie's Helter Skelter theories: "Magical Space Sound Effects" royalty free loop

Preparing for Helter Skelter: "Horror Sfx Falling Down Down Down" royalty free loop

Charlie tries to pimp out the girls: "Au coin de la rue" by Marco Raaphorst

The Straight Satans and drug deals: "Key of A (Slow Heavy Metal)" royalty free loop

Signs Charlie was becoming a bad guy, Tex Watson's defection and Paul Watkins choking: "I Need to Start Writing Things Down" by Chris Zabriskie

"Death is Charlie's trip" and Charlie pulls a gun on Gregg Jakobson: "The Sun Highlights the Lack in Each" by Palace (Will Oldham)

End credits: "Pop Rock Guitar Rhythm Loop 3" royalty free loop

Outro: "The Sun Highlights the Lack in Each"

Charles Manson's Hollywood Part 3: The Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson and Manson the songwriter by Karina Longworth


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After bringing his family to Los Angeles so he could look for a record deal, Charlie Manson befriended Beach Boy DennisWilson, and used the drummer to gain credibility in the music Los Angeles scene. In this episode we’ll talk about Charlie Manson’s arrival in Los Angeles in 1967 with designs on spreading his gospel through rock n’ roll, trace DennisWilson’s life and career leading up to this point, discuss the role Wilson played in enabling Manson’s rock n’ roll delusions, and explain how The Beach Boys came to record a song written by Charles Manson. Finally, we’ll talk about how Wilson suffered in the years following his association with Manson, leading up to his own untimely death.

Show Notes:

Today's special guests include Nate DiMeo of The Memory Palace, who returned as Charles Manson, and Noah Segan as DennisWilson. 

This episode includes many scraps of audio from DennisWilson's extraordinary solo albums, Pacific Ocean Blue and Bambu -- as much as I could reasonably fit in without egregiously violating copyright. If you like what you hear, these records are available as a single set on iTunes. 

In addition to our previously cited sources (particularly Waiting For the Sun), here is a bibliography specific to this episode:

Closing of club ignited 'Sunset Strip Riots,'LA Times, August 5, 2007

DennisWilson and Charles MansonNational Post, June 13, 2012

The Death of a Beach BoyPeople Weekly, January 16, 1984

On The Road With The New Hollywood (The Making of Two Lane Blacktop), Show, March 1971

DennisWilson: The Mayor of Washington BoulevardThe Guardian, December 31, 2013


Album Tag Song by Dennis Wilson

Out of the Skies, Under the Earth by Chris Zabriskie

Friday Night by Dennis Wilson

I am A Man Who Will Fight For Your Honor by Chris Zabriskie

For What It's Worth by Buffalo Springfield

Once Tomorrow (Instrumental Version) by Josh Woodward

By Request by Apache Tomcat

Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles

2PM Wake Up Call by Apache Tomcat

Pacific Ocean Blues by Dennis Wilson

Au Coin de la Rue by Marco Raaphorst

Garbage Dump by Charles Manson

Cease to Exist by Charles Manson

Nights in White Satin by The Moody Blues

Never Learn Not to Love performed by The Beach Boys

I Need to Start Writing Things Down by Chris Zabriskie

Farewell My Friend by Dennis Wilson

Dreamer by Dennis Wilson

Charles Manson's Hollywood, Part 2: Charlie Manson Finds His Family by Karina Longworth

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Today we're tracing Charles Manson's life from his birth to a teenage con artist, through multiple stints in reform schools and prisons, and finally to San Francisco circa 1967, where Manson began to try out his guru act on the local hippie kids, and started to form the "family" that he'd eventually migrate with to Los Angeles. We'll explain how Manson cobbled together a dogma and worldview from a number of disparate sources -- including pimps he met in prison, the devout Christians in his family, San Francisco activists The Diggers, Dale Carnegie and Scientology -- and describe how and why he was an appealing figure to young women floating around the Bay Area in the late 1960s.  

"Manson girls" Pat Krenwinkle, Susan Stkins and Leslie Van Houten.

Show notes:

This week, we welcome a very special guest: Nate DiMeo, the creator of the wonderful history podcast, The Memory Palace. Nate will be playing Charles Manson throughout this season. Check out Nate's podcast on iTunes or at the above link, and follow him on Twitter @thememorypalace.

The main sources for this episode are the same as those noted last week, plus Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000, By Martin Torgoff



Album Tag Song by Dennis Wilson

Slim Fitting by Glass Boy

OLPC by Marco Raaphorst

Scubba Adventure by Apache Tomcat

The Last Ones by Jahzzar

La Hacienda by Apache Tomcat

She's Leaving Home by The Beatles

Make a Wish (For Christmas) by Lee Rosevere

Don't Be Square (Be There) by Adam and the Ants