Charles Manson still casts a long shadow
The surprising life behind bars of the world’s most notorious cult murderer
by Charlie Gillis,2.macleans.ca– Even from his corner cell in the collective consciousness, sealed away and stripped of mystique, the man could press our buttons. Those regularly scheduled parole bids were painful enough. But to watch Charles Manson in his TV interviews—mawkish, snarling and often incomprehensible—was a hallucinatory trip back to the events of August 1969 and the atavistic fears they triggered.
In the years after the Tate and LaBianca bloodbaths, and after the surreal trials of the killers, some of the most influential minds of the 1960s came to regard Manson as the bitter fruit of their permissive time. “This sense that it was possible to go ‘too far,’ and that many people were doing it—was very much with us in Los Angeles in 1968 and 1969,” the essayist Joan Didion later wrote. “I also remember this and I wish I did not: I remember that no one was surprised.” Manson, after all, had been at Haight-Ashbury for the Summer of Love. He had recruited his so-called “Family” from its free-loving, free-living young denizens, then sold them on his vision of an apocalyptic race war. Thus did the Manson Family become the bookend to an era—murderers not just of people but of idealism itself.Today, the husk that is Charles Manson seems unequal to such notoriety. A mug shot released last week, on the occasion of his latest parole hearing, showed once-sharp features snowed in by white whiskers. The burning eyes had clouded; the swastika tattoo had faded into the wrinkles of his forehead. More telling still was his non-appearance at the hearing: Manson’s state-appointed lawyer, DeJon Lewis, said the 77-year-old refused even to meet with him to discuss the review, while parole officials released statements indicating Manson is resigned to living out his life in prison. “I’m not like the average inmate,” he reportedly told psychologists. “I have spent my life in prison. I have put five people in the grave. I am a very dangerous man.” More…
Organizers and authorities both compromised to let the legalization protest/smoke-out go off safely.It’s not surprising that Friday’s 420 marijuana-legalization protest at Yonge-Dundas Square, organized by the Toronto Hash Mob, an anti-prohibition group, started off with a showdown between police and demonstrators.What is surprising is that the disagreement wasn’t over marijuana use, which was both open and constant—with bongs and lit joints as far as the eye could see—but over noise bylaws.Hash Mob organizers didn’t have an amplification permit, meaning that they wouldn’t be permitted to use the generator-fuelled sound system they had brought with them. According to Hash Mob member, marijuana activist, and self-proclaimed “Cannabis Champion of the World” Matt Mernagh, the lack of a permit wasn’t due to an oversight on the part of organizers, but was the result of an intentional decision.“We notified the square, like, ‘Hey, we’re coming here,’ back in January, but we refuse to apply for a permit,” he said. “We’re a protest, not a parade or an event.” More…
In Hippie Holdout, a Fight Over Worms and Moats
By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN,NYT – LAGUNITAS, Calif. — To find David Lee Hoffman’s front door, take a right at the bell tower and proceed past the moat with a boat named Titanic II. Step — gingerly — through the stone tunnel, then follow the brick steps up to the Worm Palace and the breathtaking view of the Solar Power Shower Tower.
You can’t miss it.
For the last 40 years, Mr. Hoffman, 67, an entrepreneur who specializes in rare aged tea leaves, has been building a Chinese- and Tibetan-inspired compound on a steep hill in this unincorporated hippie holdover in western Marin County where the general store has a community piano and sells clothing “made with peace and love.”
The village has long prided itself on its pristine beauty and live-and-let-live attitude. But that was before the bitter dispute that pitted Mr. Hoffman, with his unconventional techniques for living in what he calls a sustainable way, against county code enforcers whose demands for permits he has repeatedly ignored.
The case, which is now in the hands of a state administrative judge, has riven his neighbors in the wooded glen they share. Until recently, the loudest voices to be heard had been only the native frogs, whose cacophony Mr. Hoffman can rouse at will by yelling “Ribet!” into the papyrus plants of his upper moat. More…