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A friendship with Charles Manson

Denise Noe wrote an article in 2004 about how Charles Manson was more pathetic than mesmerizing or messianic. She sent the article to Manson and the two became pen/phone pals.

Over the past two years, we have spoken many times. Talking with him was spooky at first but soon lost that eerie sense. Describing our conversations can be difficult as his diction consists of a motley mix of allegory, parable, hyperbole, fantasy, and metaphor. He habitually jumps from subject to subject and from one mode to another. Many listeners would call his conversations “crazy.” My take is that he is not psychotic but deliberately refuses to humor his listeners by settling down to a subject or mode when he talks. He enjoys free-associating.

His often muses about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. They are probably the two most famous American presidents with one tied to the country’s founding and the other to its continued unity despite its Civil War. For reasons I don’t quite understand, Manson tends to be positive on Washington and negative on Lincoln.

Part of the reason he tends to talk in a kind of free floating manner may be the particular effect on him of so much time behind bars. It has necessitated a lot of time spent simply in his own head. He is locked down rather tightly, primarily for his own protection. He told me that he is allowed to play his guitar in his cell. He has always enjoyed music although the Beatles obsession is probably just myth. The music he makes tends to be country and folk with some rock flavor and shows little Beatles influence.

He also spends quite a bit of time watching television.