Saturday, August 8, 2009

It was 40 years ago today, Uncle Charlie told the band to slay...

This was indeed the death of the 60’s. A tumultuous time for the hippie movement, 1969 had the extremes of possibility. What could an unwashed, free-loving, stoned society provide that gave that utopian ideal its legs. How could a chemically altered youth movement prove it could create beauty out of anarchy?

Woodstock – 3 days of peace, love, and music! An Eden for the children of Lennon and McCartney. Yes, the dream came true, the people came in droves, the gates came down…and the bands played on…could have lasted forever…provided the food, water, and plumbing continued to be provided by the locals that were foolish enough to hold down jobs. What squares.

But no one got hurt!

We still lament over the end of the sixties, and celebrate it at the commercial break with 40 songs from the Woodstock-era for only $19.95. Hits by swinging sixties superstars like Sonny & Cher, The Turtles, and The Mamas & Papas (none of which actually played at Woodstock!). So call before midnight tonight…

But wait there’s more….

The darkside of the hippie movement strode out of the gate in a hallucinogenic fog, a literal Pandora’s Box of violence opens in the west. The “anti-Woodstock” was the free concert at Altamont Speedway, where the Rolling Stones hired the Hells Angels with drugs and booze to run security for the show. The event was plagued with violence from the opening of the gates. Footage of the event shows bikers armed with pool cues and gallon-jugs of wine pushing through the crowd like sadistic farmers. Jefferson Airplane singer Marty Balin was cracked across the melon, knocked-out cold by one of them. No wonder they got so mellow in the 70’s.

Even Jagger got socked in the jaw as he exited the helicopter for the show. The somewhat effeminate frontman for the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band was visibly rattled by the vibe, meekly pleading for the crowd to cool out and get along. The sixties ended during Sympathy For The Devil as the Hells Angels murdered Meredith Hunter in front of the stage.

What the Summer of Love revealed in essence was a generation that wanted to be vastly different from their folks, which is cool, and damn if they weren’t original! I mean, tye-dye? Fuck…Anyway, they were a culture that yearned to be recognized as a new Renaissance, and for the most part they were. Albeit, enhanced by altered-minds…but the cultural leaders undoubtedly were the troubadours of the new era. The electric emotion of Hendrix, the confident intellect of Lennon, the words of Morrison, all as classically relevant as DaVinci, Galileo, or Walt Whitman.

A culture constantly exploring the universe in their mind, questioning divinity, always searching for the answer. An unfortunate drug-side-effect…they forgot the fucking question!

Summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the streets…

As a predominantly Christian country, we grow up looking for the second coming. If you were young, dumb, and fulla cum, living the hippie dream in the Haight, searching for Jesus on acid, you might have bumped into him in the streets, an ex-con gulping down life in the Summer of Love. Banging teenage runaways and preaching the idea of a travelling commune, the second coming collects misfits one-by-one, building his family. His name is Charlie,

I timed the writing of this so that these words are laid down just before midnight. It is exactly 40 years to the hour since Charles Manson prepared his hippie death squad to go to Benedict Canyon and “do something witchy”. That night the dirty, disillusioned youth of the Haight introduced unimaginable violence to a country that only heard about such atrocities in times of war, but that was for “a good cause”, not what America would expect of twenty or so teenagers’ version of Jesus Chist’s second coming.

Charlie was a con-man that studied scientology in prison and used a bizarre version of it to build his own cult. He was a failed musician and a career criminal that had spent most of his life in jail, and had his very own collection of wasted youth, most don’t realize he was in his mid-30’s at this time, hardened and institutionalized, a bit “mazzo” as George Carlin used to say!

There are 3 working theories behind the Tate-Labianca murders (without getting into too much detail about the case!). One was, a staged copy-cat murder, mirroring the Gary Hinman murder 2 weeks earlier, a ploy to make the police think that they had the wrong guy in family-member Bobby Beasoleil. Two, revenge on Terry Melcher for not signing Manson to a record deal. Melcher lived in the house on Cielo Drive before Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. And Three, the murders were staged to start a race war that was the culmination of all wars, or Helter Skelter.

Helter Skelter was this weird theory that Manson had, that there would be a race war, and only blacks would survive, and Manson and his Gonorrheans would emerge as the rulers, and the murders would kickstart this chain reaction. He developed this ornate theory based on the White Album, he thought the Beatles were talking to him. He transposed Lennon’s ideals of revolution to correspond to the book of Revelations in the Bible, the ruling white middle class that kept his people down were George Harrison’s very own Piggies. The kicker is Helter Skelter, as outlined in the song, is a slide at a British funfair from the 50’s-60’s.

The difference between what you say, and what people hear…

I’ve had a fascination with the case since I read the book by Vincent Bougliousi as a teen. I think the Beatle aspect, and it happening the year of my birth, and it really just killing (no pun…) an era of social, political, and cultural change fueled it as study matter. I’ve read every case-related book, been to all the sites, seen all of the documentaries, know all of the players… My wife thinks it’s a bit creepy, but it’s a story too bizarre to be real. Sex, Drugs, and Murder, soundtrack by the Beatles, top that!

So as I sit here, decanter of South African Cabernet, John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things playing at low volume, I wonder, what would have happened had the Family not murdered those seven people 40 years ago. Culturally we left the 60’s wounded and confused, running headlong into the loving arms of the Carpenters and the Osmonds.

Did we get what we were looking for out of the revolution? Or did we just do the American routine, and just suck all the decadence out of it for fun and profit, and leave the carcass of ideals by the roadside?

Tough to say, I grew up in the 80’s, living the 60’s vicariously through documentaries and vinyl LP’s. All the violence, and war, death, turmoil, social change, and cultural upheaval in the 60’s, or even in my own generation, the 80’s, makes me realize one thing after all these years…the 70’s ruled!

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