Helter Skelter

Ok, so back in the summer of '69 (to roughly quote Bryan Adams)- a time of free love and the first Woodstock, there was this guy. His name- Charles Manson.
His M.O- to create a superior race using war against 'The Man' or establishment and Black people, which would be called Helter Skelter, with he, himself then becoming leader of this new and free world.
Using the Bible, The Beatles' White Album and practices taken from the religion of Scientology, Manson collected recruits for his cult using sex, drugs and mind-control and then went on to mastermind murders of 35 or more people.
The murder of 8 month pregnant, aspiring actress Sharon Tate- the wife of director Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby), and four of her friends, made Manson notorious and infamous on both sides of the Atlantic.

The book centres on the murders, victims, the investigation, the trial, Manson and his cult also known as the 'Family' and is told from the view point of the prosecution lawyer on the case, and author- Vincent Bugliosi.
Using photographs, press releases, interviews and notes made throughout the investigation and trial, it takes you from the night of the Tate murders to the following night where another couple (The LaBiancas) were also killed. It highlights details such as the cryptic words painted in blood, the hidden messages that Manson thought to be in the music of The Beatles and the Book of Revelations from the Bible.
The book also answers questions that had the United States gripped and fearing for their lives for months- how could one man make his 'Family' kill for him and do it again without remorse, and yet, were his orders carried out even after his imprisonment?

My personal question was how could this small man- a hardened criminal, frustrated and failed musician, use 'free love' to prey upon those more weak and unassuming than himself, and turn them into murdering minions? Making these people believe he was God and follow his word, as if they were unable to think for themselves. This book answered any questions I had, tenfold.
But more so, it gives you insight into the laziness and sheer stupidity of the LAPD at that time- not carrying out their jobs properly, missing out on vital links and clues that would have seen Manson and his 'Family' as the murderers long before they were convicted of these crimes, two years later.
Manson and the 'Family' members arrested for these murders were sentenced to death. However due to the trials of other 'Family' members (on unrelated charges) and the fact that the death penalty was abolished days before Manson was to be excecuted, the aforementioned currently rot in jail.

But now, here's the Green Day connection.
See, John Roecker (friend of Green Day) wrote, directed and produced a well known stop animation film in the Punk/ alternative music scene, called 'Live Freaky, Die Freaky!' This basically being a comical satire of the real life events, though names and some of the circumstances were changed for legal purposes.
The title for the film was taken from the quotation in the book by someone who knew the victims, claiming that they had 'live[d] freaky, die[d] freaky'.
And as we all know, Billie Joe voiced Charlie Hanson (See what they did there?) and if you've seen the movie, you know the rest.

In summation, it's an interesting read.
Though in places, it will leave you shocked and disturbed. And Im advising you to not do what I did and Google pictures of the victims. My curiousty got the better of me and I did, only to be physically sick and not able to sleep.
It gave me a whole new opinion of 'Live Freaky...' and I doubt I'll be able to make light entertainment out of that film again, now I know and have full understanding of the whole story behind it.
Read it if you have strong stomach.
Posted on January 22nd, 2007 at 09:33am

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