Skeptic Slang and Charles Manson: Six Degrees of Separation

by Bill Brenner on April 17, 2010

Skeptic Slang and a glimpse at mental illness in the making.

Mood music for this post: “My Monkey” by Marylin Manson:

A note about the music: Marilyn Manson put this on his “Portrait of an American Family” album, which was recorded in the Sharon Tate murder house. The title and chorus were taken from a Charles Manson song called “Mechanical Man.” Bits of Manson interviews are sprinkled throughout.

It just seemed appropriate for some reason…

Today was a good day with some strange memories thrown into the mix. Call it Skeptic Slang day.

I put the kids in the car (Erin was at a writing and editing conference) and drove to the Salem, Mass. home of my former Skeptic Slang guitarist, Chris Casey, his wife Nancy and their two sweet kids, Melissa and Mark.

I was there for a few reasons: to help Nancy set up a blog for her own writings, which I suggest you follow, and to look at photos she had of our old band. Most of all, I just wanted to see a couple old friends. I’ve known Nancy for 20 years and their marriage is a point of pride for me because I introduced them way back in the day.

So I looked at the Skeptic Slang pictures and noticed something I initially found funny. But later, back in the car, it occurred to me that the images were a bit jarring. They reminded me of something I had forgotten about myself back then.

I’m wearing a Charles Manson shirt. And with the long hair and beard, I sort of resemble the creep:

But looking back, it was an awful shirt to be wearing.
The other thing I noticed in the pictures was that I had angry eyes.
In another picture I have my hand over my face. I remember now that I was agitated as hell during that photo shoot because it was taking a long time and the thought of me being photographed made me sick.
Indeed, that was a very angry time for me. A family member was suffering from severe depression and suicidal thoughts. I was in full rage against my mother and step-mother. More than one Skeptic Slang song was about wishing my mother dead. In fact, one song was called “You’re Dead,” as in dead in my mind.
I was still pissed as all hell about my brother’s death eight years before.
The mess in my skull that would ultimately blossom into full-blown mental disorder was starting to swirl. The bitter roots had taken hold.
Fortunately, the band itself was an excellent release valve at the time. I couldn’t really sing, but it didn’t matter. We played aggressively, and that allowed the rage in me to pour out like sweat that I could then wash off.
God has always had a funny way of giving me the things I needed to lurch forward.
And while the band is long gone, I got some lifelong friends out of it.
The fact that we can now hang out and watch our kids hang out with each other is just freakin’ awesome.
http://youtu.be/pA2ktUcWX7Q

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

nanjcsy April 17, 2010 at 3:07 pm

chris and i just finished reading your blog together. we both enjoyed it immensely. you and chris did a lot of memory lane stuff today. he is sort of in that space too right now.
i love your musings and thanks so much for adding my link too.
can’t wait to get together again soon. cool thing is..in the summer…you know what beach to come to, right???
thanks again for today and for your help.
awesome blog you have.
nancy

nanjcsy April 18, 2010 at 2:31 am

i meant to mention, creepily enough i have sort of a macabre fascination with the Manson murder cult thing myself. i in no way condone it or any act like that..but i have a thing for true crime stuff in general. my way of being morbid i guess.

Eli April 24, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Great story, and great photos, too! Wow, really takes me back. Bill, I had no idea that you were suffering like that, I am really glad you are in a better place now.

Don’t feel so bad about the singing,…lol…;-). Myself, I’ll take a Lou Reed or a Patti Smith, or a Bob Dylan, a real writers, and true poets, over a Gary Cherone anyday! Ha.I mean, Gary’s got a good and well enough voice, fantastic singer, I just don’t care to hear him do it, just me…lol…

Hello Chris, hello Nancy, as well, if you guys are reading this, and ty Nancy for the photos! They are reall nice.

Dam, we were in a graveyard, yikes, I guess we were young…ha ha….that says it all!!!

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