Tuesday, May 02, 2006

When I Get to the Bottom I Go Back to the Top of the Slide

You should probably know that lyric, it’s the first one from the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”, which not so coincidentally was also the title of Charles Manson’s race war. Since I have Manson on the brain these days—I’m not going to start a stable full of blood thirsty flowerchildren in the middle of the desert, but I have been rereading Ed Sanders’ excellent book, “The Family”—and I came up with an idea for the old strip.

It sort of works on two levels, for me at least, because other than reading this book, the overall crux of the strip is semibiographical. Turns out that my mom went to high school (St. Mary’s High in Lawrence, MA) with Linda Kasabian. If you’ve seen either one of the “Helter Skelter” TV movies or read the book, you’ll know that Kasabian was a member of the family who went along during the Tate murders.

If you can believe her testimony, she was too freaked out to actually kill anyone and when the massacre started, she was in a ball crying. After the incident, she took her kid and went back to New England where she lived for a few months until the California DA offered her a deal to testify against her former friends. She did, and basically got off scott-free.

That’s the background of this week’s strip, which you can check out for yourself at:

When I was in high school and first saw the movie, I was totally creeped out and obsessed about the whole trial. Not so much the murder part of it, the whole cult of personality that Manson was able to create for himself that got people to actually believe that he was both Jesus Christ and Satan. Why would anyone believe this? Why would they kill for him? How could you think that the Beatles were talking to you through a record? Just generally, what the fuck?

Then my mom told me about how she knew of Kasabian and it brought on even more questions: what was she like, was she a total freak, how did she get out to California, did you ever hang out with her? Tons of them. And if Kasabian could be coerced into going out there and be part of some crazy death cult, what stopped my mother (or any of her friends) from doing that?

The only thing she had to tell me was, “I don’t know. She was kind of weird.” Nothing else. That was more frustrating than not knowing anything. I thought, here my mother was a person who knew someone who was part of the most famous trial of the century (OJ hadn’t made the run for the border yet) and no first-hand knowledge could be passed. It drove me nuts and sort of pissed me off.

Thinking about it over these last few years, it has occurred to me that why would my mom know Linda Kasabian, except in passing? Kasabian was obviously whacked out to begin with and from all accounts, my mom and her friends seemed fairly normal. Why would a person who was normal hang out with an out-and-out freak? I certainly didn’t when I was in school and I made a point to stay the hell away from them. Wouldn’t my mom do the same thing?

And how was she to know that Linda Kasabian would be famous, or in the very least infamous? Think of all the weirdos you know, chances are pretty good that none of them are going to achieve any type of fame or infamy. If they weren’t cool people would you spend time with these people in the hopes that they do something fucked up so you could get some modicum of popularity by simply knowing the person?

I’ve written about this phenomenon before, the friends of the famous, who are known because they happen to hang around with someone famous. There is something really detestable about these leeches and hangers on who have made their name without talent or substance simply because they are friends with a talented person. And as bad as Jessica Simpson’s kindergarten teacher showing up on VH1 to talk about how driven Jessica was when she was five, it is ultimately even more despicable to be a friend of a mass murder who is using the crime to further his/her fame.

I guess, in the long run, I’m glad that my mom didn’t know Kasabian well. Things probably would’ve been different for me if my mom chose the path that her classmate chose. However, in this particular comic strip, Eddie doesn’t have a chance to reflect on this introspection and, like most of do when faced with a disappointment, just blurts out what’s on his mind.

Another thing that I’m glad about this strip is that Eddie gets to deliver the dis to Kurt instead of the other way around. I was looking through a bunch of the older strips and it’s usually Kurt one-upping Ed. I don’t want to turn Eddie into a sad-sack loser, every once in a while he has to have something bright to say, otherwise it’s the same old stuff week after week. And that gets boring.

Speaking of boring, I didn’t do a heck of a lot this weekend, except eat. Mom and dad came over on Friday night to watch the wedding video, they hadn’t seen it yet, and we went to Vinny T’s. Not a bad place to eat, for a chain restaurant. I had the pork chops and vinegar peppers. Truthfully, Aly’s was better as Vinny T’s didn’t use real vinegar peppers. They just roasted some red peppers and chucked them on the pork.

Saturday I spent most of the day doing homework, which absolutely sucked because it was gorgeous outside. But for three and a half hours, I was stuck in front of my PC working on my final project. Can you believe that my last class is next Monday? It seems like just yesterday I was going in the office to meet with Kurt Carl about possibly going there. Even though it’s a certificate program, I’ve learned a ton. Check back here next week for my final web site, it’s pretty decent.

Saturday night, Lauren and Bob came over and we went to Abe and Louie’s for an awesome steak dinner. It was a bit pricey, but well worth it. My filet mignon tasted tremendous, as did the clam chowder and the apple pie with ice cream I had for dessert. After that, they came over to our place and we just hung out.

Sunday was more homework and I bought a new pair of running shoes. I guess that I’m getting into this running thing a bit more seriously now. My knees have been killing me since I started running outside and on the treadmill. Hopefully these new kicks will stop that from happening.