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Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties

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On 8/14/2019 at 10:33 PM, Ron Bulman said:

My Mother would have been flabbergasted.  I'm still a little bit incredulous.  I expect my wife to be more so when I attempt to explain it to her.  Doris Day was my Mom's all time favorite actress.  Mother played  piano and sang in the Church choir.  My wife grew up in the late 60's/early 70's watching TV re runs of her movies.  She still does.  They take her back to a time of innocence on her part.

"Melcher had promised Manson a record deal " on Day Labels," his mother's imprint.  But Doris Day Took One Look at Manson - "And Laughed at him (!) and said, "You're out of your mind (!) if you think I'm going to produce a f u c k I n g record for you. Said it to Charlie's face".  Doris!  Such language!

Might she have inspired Manson to act? 

To paraphrase:  "Fringe member of the Family, carpenter Bob April said that's why the murders happened, he (Manson) didn't get what he wanted."  "I've been trying to get this out for years."  I guess Bugliosi didn't want to hear it.

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On 8/19/2019 at 2:35 PM, David Andrews said:

I actually have a lot of Mae's tapes downloaded, and have read many transcripts.  But Altamont was a congeries of inexperience, poor planning, inadequate responses, and violence not by the crowd (check the pictures), but by the Hell's Angels.  The MSM made it worse over decades by insisting that "crazed fan Meredith Hunter charged the stage with a gun," when he was actually harassed by Angels over his white girlfriend, and murdered when he panicked and tried to protect himself with a pistol.  Unless law enforcement cajoled Angel chapters from across the Bay area to show up and beat the crowd with pool cues and commit greater violence, Mae doesn't have a case for government sabotage. 

Acid was there?  Acid was rampant at every other festival, including Woodstock.  If anything, the government may have tried to sabotage the festival by killing it altogether, in having (through Melvin Belli?) the first two proposed locations balk at the festival deal - the second one demanded the movie rights.  Golden Gate Park, the original location, might have been the best for keeping violence down and emergency services near.  The Stones bear some blame for refusing to cancel the festival and picking the isolated, over-large Altamont Raceway site, for employing the Angels on the advice of the Grateful Dead, and for refusing to go onstage in daylight so the debacle could be shut down early.

The Stones tried to run the festival on the cheap and depended on the Woodstock vibe to level things out.  As Joel Selvin's book shows, the vibe around the Bay was not as mellow as advertised.  The Grateful Dead themselves declined to perform and split, so surprised were they at how sour things were turning after hearing that musicians had been attacked.  Their departure in itself would have allowed the Stones to take the stage in daylight, which would have saved Meredith Hunter's life.


Mae was a pioneer, and an influence on many of us.  She was the first to alert us to Manson psyop, and to larger influences in the John Lennon killing.  But y'know, them dang pioneers sometimes took it too fur on conjecture, by cracky!

Maybe so. I know a musician who was hurt at Altamount. She literally blames it on the Stones. I thought Acid Dreams was very thought provoking. Did you read it? Astonishingly, Ronald Stark, who figures prominently in Acid Dreams, was arrested in Bologna Italy in 1975 on drug charges and then let go because the judge ruled he was CIA. I haven’t browsed Acid Dreams recently but I think I recall Stark handing out bad acid at Altamount. 

So why did the Hells Angels go loco? 

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20 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

So why did the Hells Angels go loco? 



Stones tour manager Sam Cutler paid the Hell's Angels for security in cases of beer, in a negotiation based on the way the Grateful Dead had gotten the Oakland chapter of the Angels to police their San Francisco free concerts.  On arrival, Jagger had been cold-cocked by a tripping fan (non-Angel), and the band spent their residency locked in their trailer till showtime, which out of vanity was postponed until dark.  They left the fine points of dealing with the Angels and the crowd to the crew organizers: Sam Cutler, Rock Scully of the Grateful Dead crew, and Chip Monck the lighting director, who had his teeth knocked out by an Angel the next morning while trying to retrieve stolen equipment.  The next morning.

Thanks to poor planning, the Altamont stage was only four feet high, enabling the crowd to climb up on it, as didn't happen at Woodstock, where the stage was taller for mass viewing, or at concerts where fencing kept the crowd from the stage edge.  This was settled during the day by the Angels throwing people off the stage, and, famously, beating them with pool cues.  When Marty Balin of the Airplane jumped off the stage to stop the violence, he was knocked unconscious.  During CSNY's set, an Angel onstage, in broad daylight, dug into Steve Stills' calf with a motorcycle wheel spoke.  Stills had to sing and bear it until the band could finish their set and flee.

At sunset, a fresh band of Angels, probably the Oakland chapter, rode their bikes through the crowd at a walk in order to provide extra Stones security.  The crowd at the stage edge was now thick, doubtless with fans who hadn't been up front for the afternoon violence.  When the Stones came on, people again climbed onstage, some perhaps to get relief from the crush. The Angels had left their bikes below the stage front, perhaps in hubris, believing no one would go near them.  Oakland Angels grand poobah Sonny Barger gave a radio interview, and wrote much later in his autobiography, that bikes knocked down by the disrespectful crowd was the reason for the violence - but this ignores the afternoon's violence, when no bikes can be seen in front of the stage.  Also, if you watch the Stones' performance in the Gimme Shelter documentary, the one Angel we see rescue his bike from the crowd seems downright good-natured about it.  (Starts at 1:20:24 in the film linked below - only moments before the Meredith Hunter murder at the other side of the stage front.)

Some of the Angels might have been on acid, and some may have brought their own speed, which increases aggression in the already aggressive.  Methedrine, an extremely powerful form of amphetamine, was widely available that year in several formats, including injectable.  It was considered the serious man's speed.  Some of the crowd was on drugs, or cocktails of drugs.  They had their obnoxious moments, more individually than collectively, but nothing that rated such an extreme response from the Angels.

Sonny Barger: " I ain't no cop, I ain't never going to ever pretend to be no cop. I didn't go there to police nothing, man. They told me if I could sit on the edge of the stage so nobody could climb over me, I could drink beer until the show was over. And that's what I went there to do." [wiki].  This "sit on the edge of the stage" strategy served the Stones well at their Hyde Park, London, show that summer - but those were the English Hell's Angels, who were closer to an bike enthusiasts' club than a motorcycle gang.

As I've said - unless the cops or some spooks gave instructions for the Angels to act like total Visigoths, or fed them aggro pills, all of this was conjured out of bad circumstances and immature reconnaissance.  Restricting Angel attendance to only the Oakland chapter, and not multiple Bay area chapters without clear leadership, might have helped.  Hiring private security or allowing the police in would have been better, but the Stones were at the time anti-Man and concerned about drug busts and appearing unfashionably fascist. Local sheriffs and other law parked their cars on the hillsides above the speedway site and watched from a distance.  Wading in to stop the Angels and disperse the crowd might have been murderous.

There was also the additional overhead of hiring private security.  The idea of a free festival had appealed to the Stones because of Woodstock (an accidental free festival brought on by endless non-ticketholders)  and because of a developed culture of Bay area free shows - but especially because rock press like Rolling Stone had called the Stones mercenary for charging ticket prices in the $5.50 to $8.50 range, higher than any other rock act in 1969.  So, for a free festival, for which the Stones imagined they would only be recompensed a year later through the movie rights, $500 worth of beer for some friendly Hell's Angels seemed like a good idea at the time.

Most of the above is in the Joel Selvin book on Altamont, which I recommend:



I previously embedded footage of a "psychotically tripping Angel" standing too close to Jagger onstage.  This may only have been a fan who got onstage after a crowd scuffle, since he's not in motorcycle leathers, and Sonny Barger and some Angels throw him off the stage in short order.  My possible mistake.  I'm embedding a copy of the Gimme Shelter doc instead.  If you don't want to see some great Stones performances from earlier in the 1969 tour, plus Melvin Belli negotiating the festival location, start with the Altamont footage at 46:02.  This would be required viewing in a 1969-101 course.  Watch for the moment at 1:12:47 where short-hared Sonny Barger (the Jimmy Hoffa of the Hell's Angels) stares at Jagger with undisguised loathing.  This may sum up the Angels' take on the festival.


Nice to hear from you, Paul.  I'll put Acid Dreams on my reading list.


Edited by David Andrews
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1 hour ago, David Andrews said:

Some of the Angels might have been on acid, and some may have brought their own speed, which increases aggression in the already aggressive. 

Debunking ’60s Myths and Catchphrases Historical Essay by Mat Callahan


<quote on, emphasis added>

The most damning indictment of the “Summer of Love” nonsense is that by 1967, LSD and pot were being systematically replaced by speed and junk. Anyone who was there at the time remembers the case of Superspade, a black pot dealer, whose murder and that of another dealer that very summer attracted nationwide attention. A Time magazine article appearing on August 18th, 1967 reported: “Says Dr. David E. Smith, founder of a Haight-Ashbury medical clinic that ministers to bad-tripping hippies: "Amphetamines are the biggest drug problem now in the Haight.’” The Time article concluded with this retrospectively hilarious quotation, “In an effort to restore peace and quiet, if not sanity, a hippie house organ called The Oracle editorialized: ‘Do not buy or sell dope any more. Let’s detach ourselves from material value. Plant dope and give away all you can reap. For John Carter and William Edward Superspade Thomas—may their consciousness return to bodies that will not want for anything but the beauty and joy of their part in the great dance.’”</q>

"Hippie" -- the term squares used to describe those self-identified as "freaks."

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         I recall reading a paper during my psychiatry residency training many years ago (circa 1983) about amphetamines causing rats in close quarters to kill each other.   Has anyone looked into the subject of the CIA possibly trafficking in amphetamines at Altamont?

       The CIA, certainly, seemed to be involved in cocaine trafficking in California during the Iran-Contra years-- if the Gary Webb/Kill the Messenger history is true.

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Thanks Joe, from a former film critic that was nice.

As I wrote in my review of the book, O'Neill's achievement is in his exposure of Bugliosi's methods to pollute the jury pool and to aggrandize and sensationalize the case.  The whole thing about the celebrity hit list was simply inexcusable.  And I listed several other things he was involved with which should have gotten him disbarred.

Its amazing that no one was able to do this until now.  But Bugliosi liked to threaten people who were on to him. Tom names that female reporter, and he also threatened Gary Aguilar in the JFK case.  Plus that 34 page letter he sent to Tom's publisher.  As we can now see, he had a lot to hide.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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54 minutes ago, W. Niederhut said:

         I recall reading a paper during my psychiatry residency training many years ago (circa 1983) about amphetamines causing rats in close quarters to kill each other.   Has anyone looked into the subject of the CIA possibly trafficking in amphetamines at Altamont?


Not at Altamont, but Chaos by Tom O'Neill covers how one of Manson's/The Family's psychiatric handlers in the Haight did research into exactly that, murderous behavior by trapped rats on speed.  Kasabian said all took speed the night of Tate, and Bugliosi left that out because he was pushing the Helter Skelter myth as the motive.

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1 hour ago, W. Niederhut said:

         I recall reading a paper during my psychiatry residency training many years ago (circa 1983) about amphetamines causing rats in close quarters to kill each other.   Has anyone looked into the subject of the CIA possibly trafficking in amphetamines at Altamont?

       The CIA, certainly, seemed to be involved in cocaine trafficking in California during the Iran-Contra years-- if the Gary Webb/Kill the Messenger history is true.

Regarding rats or mice (different personalities) and amphetamines, this is discussed in O'Neil's book.  One of the two Dr. Smith's at the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic was studying this. He was shooting them up with both acid and speed and combinations of them.  Acid mellowed or confused them.  Speed caused a dominant male to form a harem of females.  Crowding  and speed caused the less dominant males to fight, and eat each other.   I believe the ultimate conclusion for MKULTRA was acid was more useful with hypnotism for controlling an individual (my interpretation).  

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On 8/18/2019 at 1:30 PM, James DiEugenio said:

My take on both Tom's book and the joke of a film QT made about this subject, please note the last line of my film review.



Spot on review of the book by Jim, as usual.  One point expressed in it I found of interest was "Bugliosi was intent on eliminating the drug angle" (so they were cognizant of their actions, not temporarily insane, for whatever reason).  Pretty much impossible.  Manson was tripping for over a year from Haight Asbury in Frisco to the Spahn ranch with lot's of it available for his followers.  He reportedly didn't like speed, taking over Haight at the time.  But he supposedly shoots a black dealer shortly before the more famous murders.  Then Family members say they took acid the night of them, stories change to we took nothing to we took speed.  Buglosi didn't care what they took or what really happened.  He wanted a conviction for notoriety. 

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i agree Ron that its about impossible to eliminate the drug angle.

But if you can believe it, Bugliosi did not even name the Canadian drug dealers in his book.

But yet that was really important because it made a direct connection to Frykowski who was being set up as a dealer for them.

I think its pretty obvious that he was trying to eliminate the drug angle to rob the defendants  of a diminished capacity defense and to also cut it out as a motive.  And this I think is the reason he did the deal with Melcher.  To cut off that connection to the drugs/film/music scene.  What Tom dug up about Tate's photographer and Candy Bergen, is I think really important.  Not only did Bugliosi cover up the number of times Manson and Watson were at Melcher's, he then manufactured this staged story about Manson coming to the door and asking if Melcher was there. Shades of the WC, he threatens the witness with deportation unless he goes along with the BS.  And as I noted, Manson knew Melcher was not there anyway.  And QT uses this ersatz scene in his film.

As I said, I really think Bugliosi should have been disbarred over this stuff. And this is why he threatened people over it. The ends do not justify the means.  Even if we do not like them and are repelled by what they do, defendants have rights.  

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There were a couple of other things in this book that really left me wondering about them.  The author freely admits his frustration in not being able to find out more about them. 

One is why wasn't Manson back in jail?  For that matter why wasn't Susan Atkins. 

Manson was on parole for forging a government check, released from Federal prison in March 1967 and told not to leave LA county.  He took off for Berkley, called the local parole office and said I'm here.  No problem.  Your new PO is Roger Smith who studies the effects of acid and speed through the new Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinic in pursuit of his PhD.  Four months later Manson's arrested for interfering with a Police officer, in the arrest of his newest female underage recruit.  A Federal offense, reduced to a misdemeanor with a 30 day suspended sentence.  Smith sees Manson and his girls for his reporting in at the clinic, and sees his caseload go down from 40 to One by the end of 1967.

In April 1968 Manson is one of 14 naked hippies found sleeping in the weeds next to a broken down bus on the Pacific highway.  Arrested for grand theft auto as the bus had been reported stolen.  Proof came in that he did own it.  Released. Not even public indecency?

Then "In the first six months of 1969 he was charged with Grand Theft Auto (again), narcotic possession, rape, and delinquency of a minor."  He told the LA Co. Sheriffs Office he had men in the hills with guns trained on them when they came to visit.  Three loaded gun clips fell out of a dune buggy, found by the LASO.  Claimed by Manson, he went by and picked them up!

Then on August 16th, after the murders, the LASO conducted the biggest raid in their history, 100 officers, at 6:00 AM.  Stolen cars, guns and credit cards.  All, including "Charlie" released.  Insufficient Evidence.  It couldn't be linked to the suspects...???  Even the credit cards that fell out of Charlie's shirt pocket when he bent over.

Jezzzzzzzzzz US.  That's what the girl's called him, or JC.

Susan Atkins was a stripper that ran off with two ex con customers on a armed robbery spree of convenience stores over the Oregon border.  They got caught, a federal offense.  June 4, 1969 Charlie is pulled over  in LA at 3:30 AM for speeding with her and others in the car, he "arms flailing in "wild gyrations".  All arrested, under the influence.  He informed booking officers he was on federal parole.  All but Atkins released in 24 hours with no charges.  A week old warrant on her in Mendocino County.  She'd been arrested there in June 1968 with four of the other girls for seducing a tripping 17 year old boy.  They were recruiting for Charlie and provided the acid.  Released on probation.  January 1968, probation terminated by Oregon judge for her crimes there.  June of 1969 a Mendocino judge, "defendant has not violated probation, it's reinstated and modified to terminate forthwith."

Somebody was pulling strings or these people.  This is not just slipping through the cracks.

I'll have to come back tomorrow or Saturday for the part on Jolly West. 

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Thanks again to Jim for his good words. I appreciate his

savvy review of the dreadful Tarantino film; he gets

into issues other reviewers avoid or don't understand.

But let me offer a point of personal privilege, as Robert's Rules of Order puts it, since I see there is

widespread confusion about the terms "critic" and "reviewer." Walter Kerr

defined a reviewer as someone who writes about a work the reader has

not seen and a critic as someone who writes about a work the reader

has seen. Many reviewers puff themselves up by calling themselves

"critics," and the phobia about "spoilers" is helping to blurring the distinction

further. I've reviewed hundreds of films in my time for various print and online publications but don't have a regular reviewing

gig at present, though last November I wrote a review for Sight & Sound

of Orson Welles's THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, a film I am in; that was a combination

of historical background, criticism, and reviewing (since the film

had played festivals but had not yet been released). I occasionally

write other articles for print and online publications on past and current films. But I always write film criticism in books, 

such as the ones about Wilder (currently in the works),

Lubitsch, Welles, Ford, Capra, et al. I've been doing that since I started writing

the first of my three books on Welles in 1966.

Edited by Joseph McBride
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