The first of the Manson murders: Aug. 9, 1969

Another bizarre anniversary today. Forty years ago, Richard Milhous Nixon resigned as president of the United States.

But 45 years ago, the first of a series of crazed murders occurred in California:

Charlie Manson is a psychopath. His followers were insane sheep. Patricia Krenwinkel was a member of the flock. She’s still in jail and as poignant as this interview is, she should stay there for the rest of her life..

If you don’t know what happened that day 45 years ago, the best book about it was “Helter Skelter” by Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor of the Manson family,

Here’s how crazy the Manson clan was. They believed a song that Paul McCartney wrote because he wanted to make a really loud song, was, in their reality, and I have to quote Wikipedia on this:

A part of the Beatles’ coded prophecy of an apocalyptic war in which racist and non-racist whites would be manoeuvered into virtually exterminating each other over the treatment of blacks. Upon the war’s conclusion, after black militants would kill off the few whites they would know to have survived, Manson and his companions would emerge from an underground city in which they would have escaped the conflict. As the only remaining whites, they would rule blacks, who, as the vision went, would be incapable of running America. Manson employed “helter skelter” as the term for this sequence of events.

I try to refrain from profanity in my postings, I can’t come up with any other way to describe this: That was some fucked up shit!

Meryl Streep at 65

Meryl Streep (the world’s greatest living actor) turned 65 yesterday.

Here’s why she’s one of the greatest actors of all time:

Eighteen nominations: She got one for “August Osage County” after this tribute was made.

Three wins: “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Iron Lady.”

I’d say she was robbed of at least three other Oscars.

Family stories from StoryCorp

StoryCorp is an audio-history project that’s been around for a decade in which people talk about their lives and the lives of others. Here are three stories of American diversity.

A working black family:

A working Hispanic family:

A working white family:

You can see these on YouTube, or order a DVD from PBS here.


Time Machine: ‘An American in the Making’ (1913)

Let’s enter the time machine and go back 100 years to see what things were like in America:

We get to see New York City, then go into the steel belt: Lorain, Ohio, and Gary, Indiana. How about that!

Immigration didn’t seem to be a problem when folks were coming from Eastern Europe (I’m not sure what the language was in the letter, but the scene in the classroom has at least one phrase translated from German to English: Ich bin hier geboren.)

And this is an amazing study of Industrial America at the beginning of the 20th century. Look at all of those safety procedures at the factories. It probably wasn’t that much earlier when men (because you wouldn’t have found women in these jobs) were being horribly mutilated at work, prompting the need for these safeguards. The steps look pretty elaborate, though I didn’t really understand why you would derail a train.

Notice the contrast between the barren existence in the native land and the economic rise to middle class American existence: from plow to steel mill. This is the aftermath of the industrial revolution. It’s a good ad for the American Dream.

And since this is produced by U.S. Steel, think about who ran the company back then: J.P. Morgan. There’s a remote possibility he was consulted on this. Morgan died the year the film was made.