Friday, June 24, 2016

Off-Topic: We have to get our heads out of the sand.

New gun laws will make people feel safer, but in reality, they'll do little to curb mass killings. The real problem we're facing as a nation, is terrorism. A small portion of Muslim Immigrants are being radicalized, and until that problem is confronted head-on, this situation will continue.

Gun laws could be moderately effective at preventing domestic "impulse crimes". The problem is, mass killings and terrorist attacks are not "impulse crimes". The perpetrators of these "mass killings" stew over this stuff for weeks... even months. They plan and premeditate these events for long periods. 
My point: These quacks have weeks (or even months) to secure a gun... and believe me, they will. But the fact is, they don't even need a gun. The planes used to destroy the twin towers, were hijacked without guns. The Boston Marathon bombers fashioned their own bomb, out of a pressure cooker. If someone is hellbent on killing, they'll find a way. New gun laws might decrease domestic crime by 10% (if we're lucky). The other 90% of this problem, will only be solved by addressing terrorism, and "radical Islam" specifically.

God Bless America. It's the only land, where the enemy is welcomed with open arms. Strict Immigration Laws and background checks for all incoming Muslims, would be much more effective than gun control.

I don't have a problem with background checks for gun purchases. I don't have a problem with laws prohibiting gun sales to individual's on the FBI "no fly list". I don't have a problem with a ban on "assault weapons". Those measures make sense. But if anyone believes those measures (alone) are going to solve the problem of "mass killings" and terrorism in this country, they're extremely naive. The answer to this grave situation, is a two-prong approach. Peace.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Venus sent me this link.  Thanks Venus!


 A Tale of Two Jays: Sebring, Gatsby & the American Nightmare

F. Scott

Tom Krummer A.K.A. Jay Sebring

"The truth was that Jay Gatsby… sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty.”

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

If we can hang out in English Lit 101 for a second—and why not—Jay Sebring (1933 – 1969) could only have happened in America. He was a stock character, right from the Smith-Corona of F. Scott Fitzgerald (his good friends just called him ‘F’), the man whose mind has left us with The Jazz Age, and its greatest poster boy, Jay Gatsby.

The U.S.A. No other country celebrates self-propagation, creativity and perseverance with such splendiferous rewards. And no other country is so agile at commercializing extreme violence. It’s a strange brew causing Messrs. Jekyll and Hyde to seamlessly mind-meld.

Like fictional Gatsby (born ‘James Gatz’ on a farm in North Dakota) with whom he shares an unsettling number of traits, Jay Sebring surely invented himself under the Beach Boy sun of optimism and good vibrations.

First he was Thomas J. Krummer, an Alabama-born Korean War vet. During his service in the Navy, he was found to possess tonsorial acumen.

After four years of buzz cuts, he split for L.A., epicenter of reinvention. It was there that the middle initial ‘J’ of his name became the hip ‘Jay’ and the bummer ‘Krummer’ was replaced by the name of a swingin’ Florida raceway (

In Los Angeles, he was a big hit as a ‘hairstylist for men’, cropping the mops of such celebs as Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Kirk Douglas, and Jim Morrison. In fact, Sebring virtually invented ‘the casual look’, a much-touted fashion of the mid-to-late 60s swingers.

Jay Gatsby was a successful bootlegger and became know for his fabulous, debauched parties. In fact, his parties we so dancing-naked-in-the-fountain-debauched that even today one feels a heavy heart that such gigs have followed the Dodo.

Sebring met the actress Sharon Tate at the Whisky a Go Go in October 1964. He was nothing if not a man of action, and within a year had dumped his wife, got a divorce, and became engaged to the beautiful Tate.

Tate and Sebring: Just before the end
Tate & Sebring: Just before the end

Then Tate went to London to shoot Roman Polanski’s film ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’. It didn’t take long for her to take up with Polanski. Sebring was wonderfully cordial about the whole thing—jealousy is for losers—and made a fast new friend in Polanski.

An aggressive entrepreneur, business boomed for Sebring, establishing salons in West Hollywood, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas. He also nabbed acting roles, including a cameo in a ‘Batman’ where he played the part of Mr. Oceanbring, a character based on himself. The hair care business is still going to this day: checkout Sebring International and watch a video of Jay explaining his theory of the Big Snip.

On August 8, 1969, Sebring was slaughtered in Polanski’s home, along with Tate and two others, by friends of Charles Manson. Jay was thirty-five.

“[Sebring] was short, about five feet six, and was lying on his right side, his hands bunched up near his head as if still warding off blows. His clothing--blue shirt, white pants with black vertical stripes, wide modish belt, black boots--was blood-drenched.”

- Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi

Gatsby was shot in his pool, a willing victim of mistaken identity. Ostensibly, he took a bullet for the woman he loved—but wise guys know that the Gatz saw his jig was up, and with exploding hubris, made the best of it.

So take from the Tale of the Two Jays what you will. Much has been written about the American Dream/Nightmare—a troubled vision that alternately has to do with freedom, wealth, sex, death, or combinations hereof. Certainly Sebring’s story shows us the fragility of success—the terrible randomness of wealth and life. Gatsby’s demise (like today’s sub-prime maestros) warns us that what we term ‘the moneyed class’ is in a constant death struggle with Darwin: you can’t always buy your way out of extinction.

Conclusion? The 1920s was a lot like the 1960s, but without acid, guitars, and possibly Peter Fonda.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Breaking News From Venus:

Scoop: DATELINE: ON ASSIGNMENT on NBC - June 16, 2016

June 15
11:03 2016

Scoop: DATELINE: ON ASSIGNMENT  on NBC - Today, June 16, 2016Keith Morrison Takes Compelling New Look at the Manson Murders in Dateline NBC's 'Manson' On Thursday, June 16 All-new "Dateline: On Assignment" Airs Friday, June 17 at 10p/9c. *Note: This Episode Was Preempted on June 12 for Breaking News Coverage of the Orlando Shooting

All-new "Manson" Airs Thursday, June 16 at 8p/7c

Keith Morrison takes a compelling new look at the Manson murders, the mystery that gripped the country during the summer of '69. The one-hour special features rarely-seen footage from the NBC archives, including interviews with Charles Manson and the late-prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. Morrison also speaks with key players in the case, including: Barbara Hoyt, former Manson family member; Debra Tate, victim Sharon Tate's sister; Anthony DiMaria, victim Jay Sebring's nephew; Virginia Graham, key witness for the prosecution and Jerry DeRosa, first officer on the scene of the murders of Tate, Sebring and three others.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The New York Times: In Hollywood, a Focus on Manson and His Women

TELEVISION In Hollywood, a Focus on Manson and His Women
JUNE 3, 2016

Late in Season 1 of NBC’s “Aquarius,” the character of Charles Manson is confronted by his mother, who gave birth to him at 16 and abandoned him when he reached adolescence. Despite his anger and resentment, this Manson cowers in her presence and reveals a vulnerable streak at odds with the public image of him as evil incarnate.
This scene raises the question of what might have been had this man not been cast off at such a young age and had not spent more than half his life in prison, even before the heinous Tate-LaBianca murders sealed his infamy.
“Just villains are boring,” the “Aquarius” creator John McNamara said. “We live in a culture that really uses villains the way bowling uses 10 pins — to just knock them down and do it again.” Like a recurring nightmare, the menace of Charles Manson continues to both haunt and fascinate us. The man who in 1969 orchestrated killings in Southern California, including the murder of the pregnant actress Sharon Tate, has inspired a spate of recent and forthcoming independent features and television projects. (Mr. Manson remains in prison.) And the focus seems to be shifting to his female disciples — known as the Manson family — with women handling the directing reins.
Lifetime broadcast “Manson’s Lost Girls” in February. On June 16, “Aquarius” will begin its second season, picking up in January 1968, more than 18 months before the killings. In the works are “The Family” (a working title), from the director Mary Harron and the screenwriter Guinevere Turner, who were behind the “American Psycho” film adaptation, and “Manson Girls,” an $8 million independent feature to be directed by Susanna Lo. (Also due in June from Random House is “The Girls,” Emma Cline’s novel inspired by the Manson murders.)
Amid the competition, two projects have been shelved: a limited series for Fox from Brett Easton Ellis and the horror meister Rob Zombie, and a planned biopic with James Franco as another Manson victim, Jay Sebring, a hairstylist to the stars.
Whether there is an audience demand for new interpretations of the Manson phenomenon is open to question. “Manson’s Lost Girls” — told from the point of view of Linda Kasabian, a follower turned prosecution witness — attracted about 1.8 million viewers over two broadcasts. The ratings were slightly above average for Lifetime’s Saturday night movie slot.
“Manson Family Vacation,” a half-cheeky, half-serious look at two brothers (played by Linas Phillips and Jay Duplass) who bond by touring the Manson murder sites, was released on Netflix and iTunes in the fall after making the rounds on the festival circuit.

“He’s part of the American psyche now,” said Sera Gamble, an “Aquarius” writer and executive producer. “I think he pushes different buttons for different people depending on what creeps you out or what frightens you.”  
Recent developments have further fueled interest. The identification in April of the body of a young Canadian woman who was found in 1969 near the site of two of the Manson family killings has led to speculation that she was another victim. That same month, parole was recommended for the convicted murderer and Manson disciple Leslie Van Houten.
“Manson is unique and terrifying because he convinced other people to do things,” Mr. McNamara said. “And he didn’t convince hardened criminals or Mafia members; he convinced suburban kids.”
This is not the first time the Manson family has been appropriated by pop culture. “Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders,” written by the prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry, was published in 1974 and became the definitive book on the murders. Countless books and several films about the Manson family and its crimes (including two television versions of “Helter Skelter”) have since fed the public’s appetite for the subject.

Over 12 episodes last summer, “Charles Manson’s Hollywood,” a series in Karina Longworth’s podcast “You Must Remember This,” explored Mr. Manson’s complex relationship with entertainment figures and his obsession with fame. She said she was fascinated by the climate of paranoia that enveloped Hollywood after the murders, and how that affected cinema.
Ms. Longworth said by phone from London that many films from that era were “directly related to this sense that none of us are safe; people who look like us can do harm to us.”
Hollywood’s fixation on Manson comes at a time when cult leaders and serial killers have joined doctors and lawyers as the television protagonists du jour. “I think in this era of ‘Making a Murder’ and ‘The Jinx,’ people are just especially fascinated by serial murder,” said Jeremy Rosen, a producer on Ms. Harron’s film “The Family.” “And I think in this time where safety is no longer a given,” he said, referring to terrorism, “I think people are just so   intrigued and horrified at the same time. And for whatever reason, over 45 years later, Manson still embodies that intrigue and horror.”
“The Family,” which is scheduled to start shooting in early fall, centers on three women who were tried with Mr. Manson: Ms. Van Houten, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel. The film is based on two books, “The Family” by Ed Sanders and “The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten” by Karlene Faith. Mr. Rosen, the producer, called it “the needle in the haystack” that led to a new perspective on the subject. Ms. Faith was “the prison-appointed social worker who actually deprogrammed the women and still maintains a strong relationship with them,” Mr. Rosen said.
Ms. Lo, whose film is in preproduction with shooting delayed by financial setbacks, said she found parallels to today’s societal ills, from teenagers who commit mass gun violence to young women who join ISIS. She noted that Manson’s women were abused or felt alienated from their families. “The more educated ones, Sandra Good and ‘Squeaky’ Fromme, just didn’t care for their parents and the type of life they were growing up in,” she added.
Viewers will decide how much Manson and his deeds are relevant today. Of all these projects going forward, Mr. Rosen said, “They’re going to live and die by the originality — something that will allow people to have some kind of closure or understanding instead of the expected.” Correction: June 6, 2016 Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the title of Karina Longworth’s podcast about Hollywood. It is “You Must Remember This,” not “Charles Manson’s Hollywood.” The latter was the name of a 12-part series on the podcast.

A version of this article appears in print on June 5, 2016, on page AR13 of the New York edition with the headline: Hollywood’s Fixation With Manson. © 2016 The New York Times Company

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Emma Cline’s Masterful (and Quite Traditional) Manson-Family Debut Novel


In The Girls, her first novel, Emma Cline has taken the story of the Manson Family as a template and made her own sly alterations. Some of these are cosmetic: The setting is moved from Southern California to the outskirts of the Bay Area; no historical names are retained. Others are in the interest of streamlining the narrative: A few characters seem to be composites of real-life figures and several wholly imagined; the predictions of a Beatles-themed apocalyptic race war that Manson was spouting before the Family’s murders (he called it “Helter Skelter”) have been entirely dispensed with. Cline has retained the essential structure of a gang of hippies living in hedonistic squalor on a remote ranch, the women sexually in thrall to a buckskin-clad charismatic leader who keeps them around with the shared delusion that he’s destined to become a rock superstar. A grisly night of speed-fueled murders goes down, and there’s blood on the wall. Cline’s crucial decision, signaled in her title, is to tell the story in the voice of a minor, off-and-on member of the re-imagined cult. Now middle-aged and looking back on the strange summer of 1969, when she was 14, Evie Boyd is a narrator in the mold of Nick Carraway, but her Gatsby isn’t the Manson figure (here renamed Russell Hadrick). It’s a woman named Suzanne Parker, one of the murderers and a figure with a charismatic power all her own.

The Manson horror show has been chewed over in too many books, films, and other pop-culture ephemera to count. And though the murderers Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten, and Charles “Tex” Watson, as well as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who later attempted to assassinate Gerald Ford, accrued their own repertory celebrity, the focus of Manson lit — from the Rolling Stone cover story that dropped during the trial, to prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s best seller Helter Skelter, to Jeff Guinn’s excellent 2013 biography Manson — is usually on the maestro, who still makes the news when he gets engaged from prison or has a birthday (he’s now 81). A bogus meme this spring had it that he’d endorsed Donald Trump for president. Reviewing Guinn’s book when it appeared, I found exposure to videos of Manson’s recent parole hearings toxic enough to be nightmare-inducing. For the baby-boomers, the Manson episode lingers with Altamont as one of the bad dreams that closed the book for 1960s utopianism. Cline approaches the story without those hang-ups. A 27-year-old graduate of the Columbia MFA program, whose fiction has appeared in the Paris Review and Tin House, she’s shrewdly reasoned that we’ve heard enough about Charlie. In the cult dynamic, she’s seen something universal — emotions, appetites, and regular human needs warped way out of proportion — and in her novel she’s converted a quintessentially ’60s story into something timeless. (It hasn’t gone unreported that her efforts earned her a $2 million advance from Random House.)

The Girls has a retrospective frame. When it begins, Evie Boyd is a middle-aged woman, out of work and living in a borrowed house on the Northern California coast. Unexpected guests arrive in the middle of the night, and her frightened mind jumps back in time, to the night of the murders. The guests turn out not to be intruders but Julian, the college-age son of the house’s owner, and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Sasha. Their youth and delinquency — Julian smuggles pot and was thrown out of school for poisoning a professor’s dog — reminds her of her own seduction by Suzanne into Russell’s cult.

The decades that have passed allow Evie to understand it all with some clarity. When just out of junior high, she was drawn in from a place of unhappiness: her parents newly divorced, her crush on an older boy unrequited, her friendship with the boy’s sister going sour. She glimpses the “black-haired girl,” Suzanne, from afar, in a park pulling at the neckline of her dress and for a moment exposing a nipple. The excitement is part attraction, part identification — it’s a public demonstration of perverse impulses Evie recognizes in herself. She sees Suzanne and her “attendants” take a bag of bread and an uncooked chicken from a restaurant dumpster, get shouted away by a man in an apron, and climb into a school bus painted black. On their next encounter, in a shop where Suzanne is thrown out when the shop's owner recognizes her from a previous theft, Evie returns to buy for Suzanne the toilet paper she was after, saying she stole it to impress her new friend; a few days later, Suzanne invites the younger girl to the cult’s ranch and assumes the role of big sister, lover, protector, groomer, and corrupter.

Cline’s true subject is the tangle between Evie and Suzanne’s bond and the cult’s internal economy. Within the closed system of the ranch, the women of the cult are at once commodities and procurers of food and money, venturing out into the straight world to commit little acts of larceny. The first day Evie visits, a boy asks Suzanne if she’s a “solstice present” and is told to shut up. But when the evening’s party commences — a car is ritually burned, and there’s a feast of “watery vegetable pabulum, the mash of potatoes and ketchup and onion soup packets” — another of the girls calls Evie “our sacrifice ... Our solstice offering.” She meets Russell, and he takes her to his trailer with the promise, unfulfilled, that they’ll be joined by Suzanne. A sexual initiation follows. “I wanted Russell to be a genius,” Evie says.

She gets stoned, and he turns out to be a reciter of lines like these: “Shy Evie .... You’re a smart girl. You see a lot with those eyes, don’t you.” “I’m like you  ... I was so smart when I was young, so smart that of course they told me I was dumb.” “There’s something in you ... Some part that’s real sad. And you know what? That makes me real sad. They’ve tried to ruin this beautiful, special girl. They’ve made her sad. Just because they are.” She starts to cry, and a page later he’s pushing her head toward his crotch.
“An act, I thought, calibrated to comfort young girls who were glad, at least, that it wasn’t sex. Who could stay fully dressed the whole time, as if nothing out of the ordinary were happening.”
“But maybe the strangest part — I liked it, too.”

This is the most we see of Russell and the “undercooked look of his dick.” For Evie this episode is less a matter of her submission to the cult leader than her initiation into a sisterhood. Evie spends the rest of the night with Suzanne: “You can crash in my room if you want," she says. “But you have to actually be here if you’re going to be here. Get it?” To Evie the moment was like “those fairy tales where goblins can enter a house only if invited by its inhabitants,” only here she’s the innocent invited into a house of goblins. She doesn’t realize it yet but instead senses “the possibility that my life was hovering on the brink of a new and permanent happiness.” Evie goes home the next day, and becomes a thief for her new friends at the ranch, stealing from her mother’s purse and hustling the boy next door for $65 of his parents’ money with the promise of bringing him weed. At Russell’s suggestion, Suzanne takes her to the home of Mitch Lewis — a rocker composite of Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson and Byrds producer Terry Melcher, the men Manson hoped would grease his path to stardom — and they have a coke-fueled threesome, the end of Evie’s virginity: “I’d enacted some pattern, been defined, neatly, as a girl, providing a known value. There was something almost comforting about it, the clarity of purpose, even as it shamed me.”

For the rest of the novel Evie ping-pongs between the ranch and her old life — the mingling of her sense of belonging with crude transactional sex has poisoned the fun, but neither can she go home again. Her final visit to the ranch sees Russell’s group in a state of high desperation, seemingly starving and deranged with access to more speed than food. Russell dispatches the killers — Suzanne among them, Evie almost — to Mitch’s house “to teach him a lesson,” and they commit something like the massacre visited on Sharon Tate and her friends. Cline’s decision to substitute a simple revenge plot for the baroque paranoid end-times scenario Manson improvised to maintain Family discipline makes sense for her book. She knows her strengths are psychological, not Pynchonian.

 Cline has a lush descriptive style, and she favors the sentence fragment where the pressure falls on nouns: on one visit to the ranch she sees the “silty rectangle of pool, half full, with its teem of algae and exposed concrete ... The crispy package of a dead frog, drifting on the surface.” A system of metaphors drawn from Evie’s middle-class world animates her departure from it. (There are a few too many like-dependent similes, but one gets used to them.) Cline’s exquisite set pieces are the equal of her intricate unwinding of Evie’s emotions: Even after the murders she thinks, “Suzanne was not a good person. I understood this. But I held the actual knowledge away from myself.” When she finds Polaroids from Suzanne she feels something more like love but knows she’s also stifling disgust.

These effects are all the more potent for what Cline has left out. There’s very little cultural noise in the picture. Evie reads a few magazines, watches an episode of Bewitched, and there’s a reference to Jefferson Airplane, but Cline hasn’t overloaded the book with ostentatious period details and trivia. (Nor did I notice any anachronisms.) The Girls isn’t a Wikipedia novel, it’s not one of those historical novels that congratulates the present on its improvements over the past, and it doesn’t impose today’s ideas on the old days. As the smartphone-era frame around Evie’s story implies, Cline is interested in the Manson chapter for the way it amplifies the novel’s traditional concerns. Pastoral, marriage plot, crime story — the novel of the cult has it all. You wonder why more people don’t write them. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

LaBianca Estate Question


I recently purchased this 1957 Mercedes 220S from a guy in Ohio. He said his late father told him it was Rosemary Labianca’s car and he bought it from the Estate auction. I’m hoping there is a way to verify this.

Do you know if there is a list of the items in her estate?

Regards, Ty