Thursday, March 19, 2009

Aging Charles Manson: Reflections

Today's Los Angeles Times has published a new photograph of Charles Manson. It turns out that officials at Corcoran State Prison have released Manson's picture, which is an updated inmate photo used at the facility.


The full Story is here, including this passage:

This August marks the 40th anniversary of the Manson killings, which stunned the nation and effectively marked the end of the counter-culture, "flower power" era of the 1960s.

Manson and other members of his so-called family were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate and six other people during a bloody rampage in the Los Angeles area during two August nights in 1969. Prosecutors said that Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war that he believed was prophesied in the Beatles' song "Helter Skelter."
As a kid, my only knowledge of the murders came from skimming my parents' copy of Vincent Bugliosi's, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. But when I became a skatepunk around 1980 or so, I was always going to gigs up in Hollywood. Black Flag, the seminal L.A. punk rock outfit was the rage, and Raymond Pettibone, the brother of Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn, published a series of anti-establishment concert flyers that often featured images of the Manson family. I have a copy of the one above, which used to trip me out, with its captions, "Charlie, you better be good. It wasn't easy getting in here you know," and "creepy crawl the Whisky," for the Whisky a Go Go on Sunset Boulvard.

The flyer for Black Flag's Baces Hall gig on October 24 (1980?) is
here. This concert is famous for the "riot" that broke out there (see Punk 365). I use "scare" quotes because no one was actuallly rioting inside the concert. I don't know what happened outside, but the LAPD came into the hall with full battle gear and mowed down the punks with truncheons. My buddies and I booked it out the side door, and the cops had sealed off the street with barricades. I was driving and as I started to get away a couple of skinheads screamed for help and we opened the door to let them in. The car was rolling as this happened, so it all seemed pretty surreal at the time.

Anyways, I was about 19 or 20 at the time. We were up in Hollywood a couple of times a week for concerts. The Starwood on Santa Monica Boulevard had punk night every Tuesday and Wednesday night. Rodney Bingenheimer was the DJ.
Click here for the concert flyer announcing shows for Black Flag with Middle Class, Social Distortion, and the Adolescents.

Click here for a compilation of Pettibone's Black Flag concert flyers.

In any case, readers now know more about me, and the things I did when I was a punk-rocking skateboarder! I came of age in the 1970s, and the era of stadium concert-rock was giving way to the new punk grooves from New York, London, and Los Angeles (about tens years after Ann Althouse's flower days, although check out Robert Stacy McCain for some ramblin' on the more common doings of "my generation"). When I see kids wearing all the punk paraphernalia nowadays it just reminds me of all the good times I had back in the day. I have a large bank-slalom competition photo of me on the wall in my office, and kids sometimes come to office hours and say, "Cool, who's that?" Then they trip out when I say, "Oh, that's me, about thirty years ago."

One of these days I'll upload and blog the skateboarding photos that I have on file. But that's for another day.


Anonymous said...

IN Junior High I read 2 Charles Manson books- which completely terrified me- to this day my mind can picture the horrific details written about in those books- The 80's were a hay day for several serial killers- which also terrified my very core- especially because many of them came from California- I think the one that terrified me the most was the Knight Stalker- I remember the day he was captured by a mob of people!

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks for commenting, Beloved Mama!

The Vegas Art Guy said...

I was more of a big hair rock guy in the 80s but I always got along with the punk rockers. I can still draw the Dead Kennedys logo from memory as well as the anarchy symbol that was so popular.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the taking me back to my youth for a moment.. I was a skate punk circa 1980..20 yrs old.. lived in Fullerton.. hung out at the clubs in LA, Hollywood, the beaches.. Black Flag, Circle Jerks... pretty regular "riots".. The cops liked having a go at the punks.. the punks like havinga go at the cops.. it was a win-win.. Good times..

Anonymous said...

On Manson as weekend walking down Haight Street in San Francisco, the old hippie st. there, by then (this was late 90's) full of homeless "gutter punk" runaways sparechangin', near the Ben and Jerry's store, I saw a little girl who had to be about 7 yrs. old with a t-shirt on with a famous photo of Charles Manson on. No parent seemed to be nearby. I wondered what kind of parent would put this t-shirt on their kid? Feeling creeped out by this, after I went home I got rid of the vinyl I had of a demo tape Manson had done in the mid 60's, when he knew one of the Beach Boys, singing weird songs accomponied by acoustic guitar. Nowhere near as accomplished in that "freak folk" style that a member of the band Moby Grape, Skip Spence did on his classic, "Oar." An album that has influenced Tom Waits and others off the slightly beaten path.
My memories of L.A. punk come down to getting punched in the stomach by neo-Nazi skinheads with swastikas on their arms after seeing The Clash play at the Hollywood Palladium and shows in Hollywood bars by savage republic. A band well worth digging up vinyl and cd's of, blending industrial noise and Middle Eastern motifs.