In 1968, Charles Manson listened to The Beatles’ White Album and came away thinking that America was on the verge of an apocalyptic race war between whites and blacks. As Manson imagined it, the race war would be triggered by a shocking, chaotic event called “Helter Skelter” — a named borrowed from a song on the White Album. And, like most megalomaniacs, Manson put himself at the center of the drama. In the summer of 1969, Manson had members of his cult commit a series of infamous murders in Southern California, hoping that African-Americans would be blamed and the race war would begin. Instead, a lengthy police investigation led to Manson’s arrest on December 2, 1969 and his conviction soon thereafter, making him then, and now, one of America’s notorious inmates.
Through the 1980s, Manson, even though behind bars, remained a very public figure, giving high profile interviews to Tom Snyder, Charlie Rose, and Geraldo Rivera. But then, he began to fade from view, for whatever reasons. For the past 20 years, we haven’t heard much from him. Until this came along. Above, you can watch Leah Shore’s animation of never-before-heard phone conversations between Charles Manson and Marlin Marynick (who later published a best-selling biography called Charles Manson Now). Fittingly strange, the animation reminds us of the very odd things going on inside Manson’s mind. Off kilter as ever, he goes in all kinds of unexpected directions.