Portrait of a mass murdering dog, not long before he would serve nine life sentences and be denied parole 12 times.
Portrait of a "mass murdering dog," not long before he would serve nine life sentences and be denied parole 12 times.

Charles Manson is dead, and as a wise person once said about some other repugnant figure, it's a pity there's no hell for him to burn in. After nearly 50 years as Western culture's living embodiment of evil, Manson inspired a lot of books and films, but more generally, he gave rise to a pervasive culture of morbid fascination with the nature of his crimes, his methods, his soul.

How could a person be so malevolent? How did such an unimpressive guy manage to captivate so many others into thinking he was a messiah? Or was that idea just part of the media narrative that allowed the nation (and especially the nation-within-a-nation, California) to rest easy after he'd been caught? What really went on at that ranch?

Of all the Mansonia that has come down the pike since his 1971 arrest, the Charles Manson's Hollywood series of Karina Longworth's fantastic podcast, You Must Remember This, is unquestionably one of the most gripping, surprising, and well-written-and-researched treatments of Manson as both human and phenomenon.

If you're looking not only for information, but also for an interpretation of the events that manages to be moral but not moralistic—without stinting on the sordid details that remain genuinely shocking after all this time—the 12 episodes in this series are a much better bet than either of the films made of Helter Skelter (and a whole lot better than the book).

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UPDATE: Vox reports that the Panoply Network has released Longworth's Manson cycle as its own discrete podcast, You Must Remember Manson.

You may want to budget 12 hours or so into your plans for the long weekend.

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