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BOOK REVIEW: "The Shadow Over Santa Susana" by Adam Gorightly

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BOOK REVIEW: The Shadow Over Santa Susana: Black Magic, Mind Control and the Manson Family Mythos by Adam Gorightly (Creation Books) 2001 (First Edition)

It’s weird and a little synchronistic.

The other day,  I was listening deeply to The Beatles “White Album” and I was taking in each chord, beat and lyric. And on this particular day I got as far as “Helter Skelter.”

Seconds after Ringo ends the song, yelling “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” I take off my headphones and turn off the recording, realizing I have to get going.

Shortly thereafter, I read the news – oh boy! – and learn that Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Manson (now 80 years old), had died. He also co-wrote the 1974 book Helter Skelter, about his investigation, arrest and prosecution of Manson and “The Family.”

Odd sync, I thought.

Back in 2009, Vincent Bugliosi was asked why the Manson murders case had endured for so long. Bugliosi responded: “The very name ‘Manson’ has become a metaphor for evil, and evil has its allure.”

Here we are, nearly 46 years later and Charles Manson still holds our attention almost as much as he did back when the Age of Aquarius started to curdle.

Way back in 2001 (over 30 years after the Tate-LaBianca murders occurred in August 1969), exceedingly hip“crackpot historian” and investigative writer Adam Gorightly (our faves!) wrote the best and most engaging Manson-related book I’ve run across – The Shadow Over Santa Susana.

We get the backstory. Charlie's sad tale of imprisonment and later hanging out with Hollywood celebrities and befriending the Beach Boys and other rockers of the era. Collecting acolytes, particularly women, along the way. They would do his bidding. The spawn of Spahn Ranch. Charlies' outlaw attitude was actually masquerading as "peace, love and communal hugs," he writes. A monster was coming into his own, and the Fab Four (or Fab Three, depending on where you fall on the whole "Paul is Dead" trip) helped trigger Manson's "actions," (?) leading up to 10050 Cielo Drive on August 9, 1969, right after the Beatles crossed that stygian Abbey Road, on their way to a funeral.

“Charlie felt that the Beatles were beaming subliminal messages that on a conscious level were unknown even to them,” writes Gorightly. “During the Tate-LaBianca trial, Manson was quoted: ‘I think it’s a subconscious thing. I don’t know whether they did it or not. But it’s there. It’s an association of the subconscious. This music is bringing on the revolution, the unorganized overthrow of the Establishment. The Beatles know in the sense that the subconscious knows.”

And if you haven’t noticed, Charlie is everywhere. The recent David Duchovny vehicle Aquarius, incorporates Manson into the plotline. Manson nearly married earlier this year to a far younger woman and alleged devotee. And this week, it was reported that a copy of the “White Album,” signed by Charlie and members of “The Family” was put up for sale, online, for $49,000!

And it makes sense. Charles Manson and the “White Album” are forever intertwined. As Gorightly notes, Tex Watson and other members of “The Family” say that Charlie (about whom “Helter Skelter” was written – Charlie, the Jesus figure “emerging from the bottomless pit”) was not as willing – later – to admit to his original and pure interpretation of the “White Album.”

“The most experimental piece on the “White Album” (officially titled The Beatles), ‘Revolution #9,” took on great significance to Manson, who equated it was Revelation 9” from the Bible, writes Gorightly. “Like Manson, the number nine held great significance in Lennon’s life. In numerology, nine is the final number, the last single digit and highest counting number before starting over again; the beginning and the end.”

“According to Tex Watson, in early 1969 Manson began ranting in his death trip lectures about The Process Church of the Final Judgment. Soon after, Charlie and other Manson Family members were wearing black capes and black-dyed clothing – just like their spiritual brethren. Of course – from the beginning of his three year odyssey with the Family – Charlie had always talked about death, but it was usually spiritual death he was rapping about: death of the ego." Death and black magic. Race war. Dune buggies of death created out of stolen Beetles. Beetles and Beatles.

But that changed to a “death is beautiful” and “death was Charlie’s trip,” as Tex Watson was quoted as saying. Tex and "Sexy Sadie" would be on their own death trip, stabbing Roman Polanski's wife Sharon Tate, 16 times. Polanski, Gorightly writes, told the Los Angeles Police Department that he considered degenerate folk-rocker "Papa" John Phillips as a suspect. "Monday, Monday" indeed ...

Gorightly’s research is vitally important to those willing to look behind the proverbial curtain and see – to quote Frank Zappa – the “left behinds of the great society” who were part of some greater MK-ULTRA-styled mind-control operation. Gorightly references the work of Carol Greene, whose book Test-Tube Murders: The Case of Charles Manson, and how the “Summer of Love” of 1967 was not spontaneous and that the Manson murders were “an exhaustively planned behavior modification experiment aimed at subverting the cultural and moral values of the 1960’s youth movement,” and how the seeds of MK-ULTRA “were planted by Nazi concentration camp experimentation during World War II.”

"No thought." That was Charlie's philosophy. And it worked for his killer zombie followers.

There is simply so much to The Shadow Over Santa Susana to go into here, dear readers. Just understand that Adam Gorightly has his ink-stained finger on the pulse of this bizarre body of evidence, like no other researcher I’ve come across. Ed Sanders’ The Family is good, dig, but Shadow is top shelf and required reading for conspiracy researchers and Manson mystery enthusiasts.

There is likely much we won’t know about regarding Charles Manson and what really went down. Shadow, I conclude, is the best place to start if you want the real dirt under the fingernails.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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