Archive for July 28, 2008

Charlie Before He Was a Heppie

Posted in Art, etsy, socialization with tags , , , , on July 28, 2008 by darcyarts

It was the summer of 1969 a few months before I began my adventuring and wound up at the desert commune. I had spent most of my life dreaming nature and rock’n’roll and even though I knew bad things happened I was pretty much focused on imagining a wonderful world.

I lived with my grandparents, my dad’s mother and father, and he was staying with us. It was very odd. Like having a strange uncle suddenly in your space. Too close for comfort.

Rumour has it that when I was a small child, I was attached to some father figure.  I’d come to live with my grandparents after I recovered from tuberculosis. I was found once, sleep walking, pounding on the front door, yelling for “Daddy.” I can’t imagine that it was James Mahoney for whom I pined. When would I have formed such a bond? I went to the hospital when I was a year and a half old and before that he was never around. It must have been a past life memory I was acting on.

Here’s a picture of my dad with my granny.  Trouble was never too far behind or ahead of Jim. He fancied himself a cholo. It was the 50s. He was into drugs, bennies and pot, and drinking.

I know this look she’s giving him. I can hear her saying “I hope you’re proud of yourself, Jim.” Responsibility was not his thing.

One thing they had in common both of them liked to dress up.

On this particular day in the summer of 1969 my girlfriend Pat Stinson had spent the night and we were in the kitchen. My dad was sitting at the formica table looking at the paper. On the front page was a picture of Charles Manson

“I knew Charlie before he was a heppie,”  my dad said, in his low-key mumble. He  always said “heppie” intead of “hippie” because non-conformists were hep before they were hip.

It was a matter of fact. He and Charles Manson had spent some quality time together in the jailhouse at Terminal Island, a low security prison near Los Angeles.






 Pat and I didn’t say a thing. We tried to be cool. One slim degree of separation was unnerving. Do we look like potential Manson followers?

My father was never much of a criminal. Neither was Charles Manson. He was at Terminal Island from ’56 to ’58 for stealing a car, a ’51 Mercury, according to the wiki.

 Jim Mahoney routinely messed with people’s heads.  It’s something he and Charlie learned in a jail.

The most arresting thing about the picture of the long-haired Charlie was the look in his eyes.

He looked pissed but there is also that deep sadness of the fucked-over child, a wounding betrayal of trust.

He would work his menancing look and  become, for the cameras, exactly what he was expected to be  — a crazed fiend. In many an interview Manson attempts to address the psychology of perception vs reality. His raps pretty much fell on deaf ears as the press went for devil-drama instead.

 Charlie practiced working up his crazy look for years. He was obviously bent but it was also for protection behind prison walls. He’d been abandoned, abused and institutionalized, like so many others. But he just managed to find himself in a time where there were plenty of suburban children were open to his jail raps and psych plays. It was all talk but Charlie found he could actually manipulate some of these nasty, spoiled novices. They enacted his revenge against a society that had broken his heart and treated him like trash.  

“Just like hypnotizing chickens . . .”

“Lust For Life” Iggy Pop

 Charlie sky-rocketed to infamy after convincing a pack of  suburban brats to ritually slaughter a number  of wealthy, beautiful people at a home on Cielo Drive in L.A. 

“Look down at me and you see a fool. Look up at me and you see a god. Look straight at me and you see yourself.”

“You can’t kill me I’m already dead.”  Charles Manson



This is not Devendra Banhart.

This is a card made by Camuscanoe at Etsy.