There’s a savior that’s here today, and they call him — Charlie! A different savior that thinks your way, and they call him – Charlie! Kinda young, kinda now, Charlie! Kinda free, kinda wow! Charlie! The kind of savior that’s gonna stay, and he’s here now — Charlie! – Paraphrased 1970s Revlon Commercial
Since today is a day on which honoring risen Messiahs is nearly obligatory, I thought perhaps I should contribute to this theme with an homage to an oft-overlooked but still very much alive self-proclaimed Son of God: Charles Milles Manson. To his naïve and drug-addled disciples, Manson had just as much divinity as Jesus Christ himself. And much like Abraham was able to drum up sufficient enthusiasm to murder his own son in the belief that it would please his God, Charlie’s band of devout death hippies were pleased as punch to carry out the carnage at the L.A. addresses of 10050 Cielo Drive and 3301 Waverly Drive just as their Messiah decreed.
Charlie called his unique take on the apocalypse Helter Skelter after a slightly misinterpreted Beatles song about a roller coaster. Apparently, a copy of the White Album wasn’t among the communal items to be found at Spahn Ranch because one of Charlie’s girls managed to misspell it in her attempt to scrawl the words in blood on the living room wall of the LaBianca home.
Several years after Charlie, Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten were sentenced to life in prison, a lunatic pixie Manson Family holdout named Squeaky Fromme, whose devotion to Charlie only seemed to grow after he was incarcerated, attempted to jump start Helter Skelter once again by trying to assassinate President Ford. Her gun jammed and Ford lived to smack his forehead into the door frame of Air Force One another day. After her arrest, Squeaky alleged that the planned assassination was meant to call attention to environmental issues, but I suspect this was merely to save face once she realized that The Family hadn’t really been in vogue since 1969.
Manson is now 82 years old and has been behind bars for 48 years. He’s been interviewed by major journalists, proposed to, beaten to a pulp and nearly burned alive. But one thing seems to have remained consistent about Charlie and this is also something frequently attributed to divine avatars come to Earth: when he speaks, very few people can make heads or tails of the intentionally manic, stream-of-consciousness revelations he disseminates. Though I always find it entertaining, I can’t make any sense of what he says, either. My Christian friends tell me that my disbelief in the words of the Scriptures arises from a misunderstanding of their true meaning. Maybe so, but I doubt it. If that is the case, however, who’s to say that Manson’s incomprehensible word salads don’t contain just as much esoteric divine wisdom? “God works in mysterious ways” is the mantra of the explanation-bereft Christian faithful when confronting a heathen like me, and those words might apply just as well to God’s puzzling decision to choose someone like Charles Manson to spread The Word to the unwashed denizens of Haight-Ashbury.
At such an advanced age, Charlie’s time on Earth is probably drawing to a close. But when he’s gone, will you proselytize and spread his message for the benefit of those whose lives didn’t overlap with his 82 year mission or will you just search for a new source of inspiration who is less dead? One can’t just pick and choose his or her religious leaders like they were an assortment of colorful socks. The right candidate actually has to speak to you in a way that arouses your best, most Godly self. I’m thinking Eric Andre might just have the charisma to take up the mantle and carry the message to future generations. He is risen!
But wait – Charlie’s not dead yet. Keep your heart open to any revelation he may yet dispense. Unless you’re not a creepy weirdo, in which case, just enjoy the continuing spectacle while it lasts.
*Originally posted April 16, 2017