Today’s entry is a complex story that includes discussion of a very serious topic, as well as some personal anecdotes. I will do my best to provide as much detail as possible.
In this entry, I will give you my history with the subject and my thoughts on the issue at-hand.
Because this subject is a “hot topic,” if you read anything that causes you any concern or stress, then please write to me in a comment and ask for clarification. Please be civil! I do not tolerate attacks on my blog, and all substantial threats will be reported to authorities. Thank you for reading.
MUSIC IN GENERAL
When I reflect upon my life, with regard to the music that surrounded me, there were changes. Some were abrupt and industry driven, while others were subtle and sometimes surprising.
The hippie rock and 60s psychedelia gave way to 70s pop rock. The 80s exploded with some incredible pop rock, like Journey, as well as some deeper metal from the likes of Iron Maiden and Queensryche. Of course, there were also the staples of the day like Van Halen and Pink Floyd.
By the time I made it to Los Angeles to pursue my music career in the mid-80s, things had changed drastically. Hair metal was all the rage. This new trend hurt my chances to make it in the industry in ways that I could not have foreseen. Imagine not getting the gig because your hair isn’t long or lush enough, or you otherwise don’t have the look.
Welcome to my world.
The hair metal crap wore thin, and got replaced aggressively in the 90s with Grunge.
ENTER MARILYN MANSON
Between these two genres, another artist emerged in 1989 by the name of Marilyn Manson.
At the time, he had everything that spoke to me as a frustrated musician. His music had a very heavy sound, and his image was what I considered to be “theatrical,” much in the way of Alice Cooper. I saw Alice Cooper suffer the fate of a guillotine on stage.
To me, all of this was theatrics.
My son was born in 1995. His first word was “Daddy.” His second word was “Mommy.” And his third [and first compound name] was Marilyn Manson. He couldn’t say “Marilyn” very well, so it sounded like “Merrily.”
My son grew up with the music I liked.
In 1999, we were at the Del Taco in Hollywood [which no longer exists], sitting at a booth eating lunch. My son is 4 years old.
He stands up and says that he’ll be back. We watch him as he walked toward a booth in the corner. It was a guy in a rattan-style cowboy hat with sunglasses and no shirt on.
My son walks back and says, “That’s Marilyn Manson over there.”
Sure enough, it was. We said hello, and he seemed cool with the interaction. I never press it when I encounter people who have fame. I acknowledge them, sometimes thank them, and move on. I’m not one for parasocial relationships.
On Christmas of 1999, Marilyn Manson posted a video to his website. In this video, he spoke about how stupid his fans were for liking his work. This could be taken as an insult to his fans, or maybe it was a moment where he lacked confidence and expressed it in a narcissistic way. Who knows.
The video was up for only two hours. After that, it was replaced by a type of “coming soon” page that linked fans to other websites, such as Rotten dot com or Betty Bowers. I’m still a BB fan to this day.
In 2004, Marilyn Manson released a CD titled, “Lest We Forget: The Best Of. The CD release party for this album was held at a venue called The Gig in Hollywood. My band, WHIPLADS, was asked to open up for the event, since the booking agent for the venue knew that I was a fan.
They had a radio station contest, where they asked fans trivia questions. Each question you got right landed you one of Manson’s CDs. There were a TON of goth kids there, and I trounced them all. This was because all of the questions were based on his book, “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell,” co-written with Neil Strauss. I had read the book about 10 times.
At this point in my life, I owned TWO copies of everything Marilyn Manson had created.
The venue had these REALLY NICE banners hanging as well. My drum tech/girlfriend asked the promo manager for one, and he snuck one to her, asking her to “keep it quiet.”
My girlfriend and I had gone to a handful of concerts, and the ones from the earlier days were rather incredible. What surprised us the most was the fans, who were quiet and most diverse.
At most metal concerts, everyone dresses in all-black. This was not the case.
There was this one kid, he was probably 15, and he was wearing a Dolly Parton concert t-shirt. My girlfriend complimented him on his shirt and asked him about that concert. They talked about Dolly Parton for a few minutes before going their separate ways.
This experience would never have happened when I was young. But that’s the thing about Manson, was that his music and personality were sometimes contrarian for the sake of being such.
In other words, anything goes.
A SHARP DECLINE
Things start to go downhill rather quickly, with regard to my appreciation for Marilyn Manson’s work. Specifically, it was his ability to perform at concerts.
This concert was on August 28, 2007, and was dubbed The Rape of the World Tour. In this tour, Slayer opened for Manson. Tickets were expensive for the time, and I spent an extra $20 for premium parking, which ended up being the most valuable thing of the night.
The Slayer fans were rowdy, to the point that it was unruly. As soon as Slayer’s set was over, they kept chanting, “Slayer! Slayer! Slayer!”
This carried on, and continued after Manson took the stage. They wouldn’t stop yelling over the music. They were also lighting toilet paper rolls on fire and throwing them in the air, creating fire arcs that appeared to be dangerous.
About five songs in, Manson says, “Fuck it!” He throws down the mic and leaves the stage. That’s it.
We ran for it to the premium parking area, which also afforded us fast and easy access to the main road out of there.
I attributed this mess to Slayer fans, and vowed to never see Slayer again.
THE END FOR ME
The last time we saw Marilyn Manson in concert was June 6, 2013 at the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal Studios, Hollywood. This was a convenient 0.9 mile walk, which was super cool.
At this show, Manson was opening for none other than Alice Cooper, so we were really looking forward to this show.
Manson was the opening act. He appeared to be sluggish, which was not typical. He was forgetting a TON of lyrics and slurring the few that he could muster up.
It was basically the kind of train wreck that inspires sympathetic embarrassment. This is not a sensation that I would ever pay to have, and yet there we were.
The evening was saved by Alice Cooper, who handed Manson’s ass to him on a silver platter. Every note, every spot, every lyric. BAM!!! This is what I strive for as a musician, and it’s what I expect as a paying fan.
After the concert, my girlfriend and I had a difficult discussion about it and made a decision.
We would never pay to see Marilyn Manson in concert again.
Of course, this lead to me not wanting to listen to his music so much. All of this was right before I got taken by the cancer scammer, which started in late 2013. After this, my music listening changed completely anyway, so it was going to happen no matter what.
I would buy a few more albums after that, but they whole experience was lackluster to me. I filed them away and moved on.
I would go back and start listening to his music again last year, which brought me some fond memories of my son, my old band, my times in Hollywood, and more. Listening to his old tracks was like riding a time machine for me. It’s why I’ve had posters, CDs, books, and other memorabilia around.
CONTROVERY OF THE 2020s
Manson was no stranger to controversy. I found it highly unfair that the media blamed him for the Columbine shootings, when he wasn’t there and didn’t encourage it in any way.
He defended himself in a way where he sounded rather intelligent. I do believe that he is intelligent, which holds no bearing on whether or not someone is a decent person. But in the end, so far as the Columbine accusations were concerned, he was correct.
This time, it’s a completely different thing. It’s not a case of emotionally scarred parents who are looking for a scapegoat to blame for their own failings as parents.
Now, it’s a case of various types of abuse committed against the women who were in his life.
I absolutely abhor the Feminist slogan, “Listen and Believe,” because many humans lie, and it is a fool’s errand to automatically believe what anyone says based on their gender, color, or other immutable attributes. Being white doesn’t make me honest, and being male doesn’t make me a monster.
A slogan I would support whole-heartedly would be, “Listen and Take Seriously,” because I’ve known too many women who have had their claims dismissed by police or other actors of authority.
The pendulum swings far and cuts deep.
To be really clear about it, abuse allegations have been levied against Manson by Evan Rachel Wood. His former friend, Trent Reznor, has spoken out against him, as has former guitarist Wes Borland. This is a HIGHLY serious situation that must not be taken lightly.
ARE ACCUSATIONS ENOUGH?
Typically, I like the idea of “innocent until proven guilty,” because people can lie. The media can hype or sensationalize. There are a variety of reasons why this is a proper mode of functionality in modern society.
Usually, socially “cancelling” someone does feel like The Salem Witch Trials, which ended up being caused by two women who hated each other and were competitive with one another. So many innocent people died!
However, the problem I’m running into, as a person who has been a fan since 1989, is that I have read his book way too many times. I can recall some of the horrible stories, most of which have taken on a different, more dark tone since the allegations have surfaced, with former associates speaking out.
“The Long Hard Road Out of Hell” is a story told in an autobiographical fashion, which tells the story of Brian Hugh Warner. The book starts with him at a very young age.
His grandfather, Jack Warner, was an old pervert who did some rather horrific sexual things in the basement of the house. A young Brian sneaks down into the basement and catches his grandfather with some sex toys and questionable photographs.
The way it is written, you are standing on the wooden basement steps with him, hoping that you don’t shift your weight and make the wood creek, which gets you caught.
He talks of his fascination with journalism, as well as music. In a printed article, he talks about his band and how great they are. The problems at the time were that he didn’t have a band and wasn’t really a musician. This prompted him to form the band and get things going.
He forms “Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids” in Florida, where they find a great deal of initial success. He eventually drops the last 66% of the name, effectively making it all about himself. I cannot help but wonder if there is not some type of narcissism at work. But I am not a therapist and cannot diagnose people.
The book takes some dark turns. Some of these turns give him the appearance of someone who cares, like when his bass player overdoses on drugs. He goes to this man’s hospital bed on Christmas Eve and fires him from the band, because the rock star lifestyle is clearly something that will kill him.
Manson is all about the rock star lifestyle, but with his own bizarre modifications. He even had some malformed “Huggy Bear” action figure [he calls it a “doll”], wherein he would hide drugs. He claimed that you can lick the doll in parts, like where a leg was ripped off and get drugs. So when he was going to get high, he would call it, “Dancing with the one-legged pimp.”
Personally, I find this to be highly unsanitary, as well as a very inefficient way to store, maintain, and access said drugs. I’m sure other social problems can be found with this entire situation.
But other stories, like the one that has come to light that includes Trent Reznor, seemed way too sensational for me to believe it. Reznor has denounced Manson and regrets ever knowing him.
So far as I was concerned, the book was a combination of interesting facts that were sometimes boring, such as his dad being a manager of a Levitz furniture store. There were other stories, like trying to get thrown out of his religious high school, only to find out that he could never get kicked out because his parents paid too much money to the school to keep him there.
Other times, it was outrageous stories, some of which were almost too insane to be true. I would think that, certainly, if they were true, then someone would have had him arrested, or he would have been killed by someone who didn’t like it.
I wrote it all off as theatrical image building.
Now I’m starting to question that call.
SEPARATING THE ART FROM THE ARTIST
This is something that can be difficult to do.
For example, I am able to do this with Captain Beefheart, even though he had done some rather horrible things. According to Bill Harkleroad’s [Zoot Horn Rollo] book, “Lunar Notes,” it seems that the Captain himself, Don Van Vliet, actually GROOMED the band members who performed on his classic 1969 album, “Trout Mask Replica.”
This grooming started when the kids were about 15 years old. They had a school rock band called “Blues in a Bottle.” He would allow these kids to come up to the house and party with him. Bill would take a bunch of joints that he hid in his socks, and others would ply them with drugs.
When they turned 18-19 years old, he contacted them to be his new band members. Long story short, he moved them into a house, where they were kept on a very strict and dangerous low-calorie diet. It was so bad that they shoplifted food and got caught. Frank Zappa bailed them out of jail.
They didn’t have anywhere to sleep, and would just lay on the hardwood floors near their amplifiers and instruments.
They were basically tortured for nine months, and the result of it all was an amazing album.
Maybe you’re not a Captain Beefheart fan. I do know lots of people who are Michael Jackson fans. The hard truth about Michael Jackson is that all of his talent was caused, and is a direct result, by abuse that was enacted upon him by his own father, Joe Jackson.
It seems that many people have the ability to enjoy Michael Jackson’s music and performances, in spite of the fact that he was dancing and singing because he was FORCED to do it by his father. And his father profited heavily from it all.
You don’t hear many people talking about that.
I suppose it’s slightly different, but one would have to think about whether or not they want to support and encourage a situation where a parent abuses a child and uses them for profit.
My apologies, and best of luck listening to Michael Jackson with that image stuck in your head.
In the big picture, if I wanted to listen EXCLUSIVELY to artists who were perfect, then I would not be listening to anyone. Human beings are flawed. Sometimes they fuck up. Other times they are down-right dirty.
For me, the difference between Captian Beefheart and Marilyn Manson comes down to time. The Captain Beefheart abuse was in the late 60s, through the 70s, ending in the 80s. Meanwhile, Manson’s abuse is in the news right now. There are fresh wounds, for his alleged victims, his former friends, and those who listened to his work, like me.
WHERE I AM WITH THIS TODAY
As noted earlier, I stopped supporting Manson on June 6, 2013, after his abysmal performance in LA, because it seemed that he didn’t care one bit about any of it, so I had to wonder why I would care.
Since then, I think that I’ve purchased a few more of his new releases. But I do not own any of his latest releases, and will not be purchasing the 20th anniversary Tarot cards. His newer music did not give me the same sensation as before, and I was left with a lackluster feeling about all of it.
As you can see with the photos, and in my stories, I had been a fan for a very long time. Not a rabid fan who would blindly defend someone. It might be more accurate to say that I had a high level of appreciation for his creations.
Up until now, the Marilyn Manson memorabilia that I have was linked to special memories.
These memories include the times that I spent with my son, my girlfriend, my time as a musician in Los Angeles / Hollywood, and more.
There were also difficult times in my life where I would turn to music to help generate a desired mood. When I needed to get pumped up, Manson was my go-to.
The fortunate thing for me is that I do not idolize him, or anyone else. I do not place people upon a pedestal, for it only leads to disappointment. I view all people as flawed humans who should be given the benefit of the doubt.
The trouble arises when the benefit of the doubt can no longer be given.
IN THE END
I do not know if Marilyn Manson is guilty of the horrific abuse allegations that have been leveled against him. I have seen similar situations where it turned out that the allegations were false. However, I am not so confident that this will be the case for him.
In fact, I suspect it to be likely that he is indeed guilty. I would like to leave that determination up to a judge, and I think we all should take the allegations seriously.
There was a time when his music and art accurately captured how I felt inside, as an Autistic person. Often times, I felt like a nobody; someone who was cast away by society. I viewed Manson as an outcast and related heavily with holding that position in society.
But now I’m having some very familiar negative feelings about this. It reminds me of when Bill Cosby was facing allegations. As the numbers and likelihood of guilt grew, I found that I could no longer listen to my favorite album of his, “Wonderfulness.” I bought it at a yard sale for a nickel when I was a child.
That got taken away from me, not by the accusers, but by Bill Cosby himself. He was the one who did what he did, thereby fucking things up. Somehow, I can still listen to Deep Purple, a band he discovered and signed to his record label Tetragrammaton in the late 1960s. The idea of punishing them for what he did makes no sense.
But all of these paths lead to one big, muddy cesspool that is Marilyn Manson and the decisions that he may have made, which could very well spell the end of his career.
Maybe he will end up being convicted, or maybe he will be exonerated. Only time and a court of law will tell the story.
I would be remiss to not acknowledge his alleged victims in all of this. It sounds to me like they have very serious stories to tell. Should it come to light that these stories are true, then Manson should face the consequences in a court of law.
For me, his alleged victims do not appear dubious, or have underlying motives for saying any of this. I can only help but think of Amber Heard and how she waited until the day after Johnny Depp’s mother died to go after him. I do not believe her story, and I think she’s a horrible and desperate person. They both have problems.
But Manson’s accusers are a completely different story to me. As someone who has suffered domestic violence, I understand certain things when I see them. Her initial attempt to be vague about it is one key point that has stuck with me.
I could go on and on with analysis, but I have already written more than enough to read here.
Today, I will be boxing up ALL of my Marilyn Manson CDs, posters, shirts, and other memorabilia. Destroying it is pointless and destructive, so it will go into the garage, where it will sit.
Maybe one day, long after all of this has been dealt with, I might be able to open the box. Should that be the case, at that point I know that I will be living with the personal memories that I have attached to his music.
Right now, I can’t even listen to one note.
I don’t expect any musician whose work I like to be perfect. Additionally, I’m not one to jump on a bandwagon to go after someone. I do feel some anger toward Marilyn Manson for it all.
I mean, he got that big break in the music business that I had always wanted. And what did he do? He squandered it away, slowly but surely. It started with contempt for his fans in 1999, went to his lack of care for his performances in 2013, and ultimately to where we are now.
He created some great music, but that does not excuse his behavior. In fact, I think it is irrelevant. But, at least for me, it is too soon to attempt to separate the art from the artist, and I don’t know when I will be able to do this.
I still cannot laugh at Bill Cosby routines, which is foreboding. My nickel investment in Bill Cosby, as well as the time I spent listening to him as a child [Fat Albert] is nothing compared to the time and money I had spent on listening to Manson and supporting his efforts.
If he were acquitted, then I would be able to wade back into it all. With regard to the music, it would feel like home over time. However, that home is currently on fire, and I cannot bring myself to get close to it.
Abuse harms those who are abused. At the same time, it causes harm to others. Ultimately, it harms society. It makes me sick to my stomach.
Today, I will be packing up all of my Marilyn Manson things and putting them away, maybe for another day. This feels like the right thing to do. Throwing it all in the trash right now seems like an emotional decision, and I don’t like making those, at least not in a destructive sense.
The whole situation is truly heart-breaking, and I am certain that there are lots of other MM fans out there who have similar feelings. Sure, there will be those who get aggressive in defense of him. But really, they can step off, because that’s just crazy.
I can neither defend nor condemn him at this point. But if I had to choose a side, then I really don’t have enough within me to provide a defense. The best I can do is to say that I want for it all to bear out in a court of law.
And there have been way too many weirdos out there who had condemned Manson in the past for superficial things, or for silly religious reasons. The weird thing is that I don’t hear any of those people speaking up about him now, when it has been alleged that he has done something horrible. These are horrible people who are very self-righteous and holier-than-thou, and they are still the same.
Maybe someday I will be able to listen again. For now, I have lots of other things that I can listen to that are not attached to any harm or suffering of others.
Damn it all.