Thursday, November 23, 2017

Manson and Cassidy

What a strange week it's been! First, Charles Manson dies, and then Keith Partridge (or his alter-ego, David Cassidy). For those of us who grew up in the '70s, they're both momentous events.

Did you ever read "Helter Skelter," Vincent Bugliosi's book about the Manson murders and the ensuing trials? I read it in high school, or possibly college, and like "In Cold Blood" it scared me to death -- the idea that such deranged people could be wandering among us seemed unfathomable. It still seems unfathomable, even though a little more life experience has shown me it's unfortunately true.

Manson was clearly a nutcase, and his death seems cleansing. But I've always felt sorry for his followers, as terrible and incomprehensible as their crimes were. They seemed like vulnerable, unformed people who sadly fell into the clutches of both psychotropic drugs and a skillful, psychopathic manipulator. Every time one of them comes up for parole, part of me hopes they get it -- that second chance -- although at this point it may be too late for them to truly make a life outside prison.

As for Cassidy, he was a fixture of my childhood, even though I only remember watching "The Partridge Family" in reruns, years after its initial airing. I was more the Shaun Cassidy generation than the David. Still, having him die seems a scary reminder of our mortality, doesn't it?

Back in 2011, I snapped this photo of him from an old "Partridge Family" rerun on the television. I wanted that shirt.

We had some serious wind during the night, and the neighbor's wooden arbor -- which holds up the monster -- collapsed. I heard a loud thunk and knew something had blown over, but I wasn't sure what. I wonder if she'll get it braced up again, or if she'll just take the whole thing down? I hate having to prune our side of the monster, but it is a nice barrier between our properties and I'm not sure I want it to disappear entirely.

The wind made Olga a bit nervous. She got up in the middle of the night and came out to the living room, where she stayed vigilant on the couch. What a good watchdog!

Oh, it's Thanksgiving, isn't it?! It didn't occur to me until now. Dave and I are off work today and tomorrow for Thanksgiving break, and we're going to board a train for Cambridge a little later this morning. I'm not sure what we're doing for Thanksgiving dinner -- I guess we'll eat whatever the Cantabrigians serve us. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

(Top photo: Historic old tiles from the exterior wall of an Italian restaurant in Ewell. I feel certain it was probably once a pub.)


  1. I always had the sense that David Cassidy was a rather disagreeable character

  2. Manson and Cassidy - like two sides of the modern American character. Manson of mass shootings, sex crimes and nasty secrets. Cassidy of wholesomeness, health and starry-eyed dreaming. I wonder where you sit on the spectrum Steve?

  3. I'm surprised that you have a day off on Thanksgiving. Do you work at an American school or have the Pilgrims and Indians moved to Britain along with so many other American things?

  4. I remember reading In Cold Blood and was gripped by the story. I won't read Helter Skelter.

  5. I had the exact same reaction after I read Helter Skelter. I mean- whoa! It totally changed my perspective on humanity and I'm not sure that's a good thing. But it is what it is.
    As to David Cassidy- well, you know me. He was just entirely too clean-cut to interest me much. THERE WAS NO BAD BOY IN HIM! And if there was, it was completely covered up.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Dave. Y'all have a lovely trip and yes, whatever you eat, that is what your Thanksgiving dinner will be. And it will be perfect.

  6. Yes, I read Helter Skelter and it had much the same effect on me. I heard about David Cassidy yesterday and it sounded like he had quite a bit of trouble in his life. It made me feel a bit sad. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Dave. Have fun in Cambridge. I can't wait to see the photos.

  7. Love the tile photo. Yes I read Helter Skelter and was so thankful I lived nowhere near there. Some people are genuinely scary. And David Cassidy was one of the first (and last) childhood star crushes I had. I'm sorry his life turned out the way it did. From what I've read, he was overwhelmed by success and some of the things that came about as a result of it (eg. the death of a fan in the crush at a concert). So many talented people who become very successful end up coping in ways harmful to their own health. It's a shame.

    Sorry for the dreary comment! I do hope you and Dave enjoy your days off and that Olga gets a better night's sleep tonight!

  8. I love that tile - I'd like to use it in a kitchen for a backsplash. Hope you guys have fun in Cambridge!

  9. I'm not sure if I read Helter Skelter or not but there was so much publicity about the event. it was truly horrifying which is what they wanted. the murders were deranged and scary but what really scared me was their habit of breaking into people's homes and creeping around, not stealing anything but hovering over the sleeping bodies.

    I was too old for David Cassidy I guess.

  10. David Cassidy had the kind of face I couldn’t imagine getting old. And indeed to me he still looked like a teenager staring out from his older face, right up to the day he died. I never read Helter Skelter though I did read In Cold Blood, which was a formative piece of journalism to me, though it came out later that Truman Capote took lots of poetic license. Mason was always just a little too scary to let all the way inside my mind.