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Three Degrees from Helter Skelter

I'm sure you know the idea of "Six Degrees of Separation." It's the idea that we are all only six "handshakes" away from everybody else. (I wrote something about the background of the idea here.)

Well, we always like to think we're just a few handshakes away from our favorite celebrities, say, or from powerful politicians.

But the theory says we're connected to everybody.

Exhibit A: The man in the foreground needs no introduction. That's the infamous Charles Manson, during his trial.

The man behind him on our right is then-Deputy Digby Rowe. "Dick" was one of my first and best mentors, when I was part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Explorer Program.

I wrote about him back in October, and another of my former fellow-explorers found my reference and contacted me through Facebook. She sent me the picture of Dick you see here, from the L.A. Times.

Dick was a bailiff on the Manson case. At one point, Dick sustained an injury while restraining Charlie during an attempted attack on the judge. (This is mentioned in the Wikipedia article cited above: "...Manson leaped over the defense table and attempted to attack the judge. Wrestled to the ground by bailiffs, he was removed from the courtroom...") So when I met Deputy Rowe, he was on restricted duty with the Community Crime Prevention Bureau. He later took a medical retirement and (I believe) became a criminal justice teacher.

(Another deputy I worked with was a jailer supervising Manson's cohort Tex Watson. "We're on a first-name basis," he used to mock-brag. "I call him 'Tex,' and he calls me 'Deputy.'")

Anyway, if my honored mentor knows Charlie, and I know the mentor, and you know me, then you're just three degrees from Helter Skelter.

(In fact, I had another "degree" with all of the so-called "Manson Family": in my 30s, I worked on a TV show with a woman named Rose Lundeen, nee Spahn. Her father owned the Spahn Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, where the "Family" lived. Rose said "Family members" used to babysit her kids! Now that's scary...)

For those of you who want to know what I looked like back then, here you go:

Now which picture is more horrifying?


  1. I spoke to Digby, this afternoon, and passed along finding your blog and Facebook pages. He sends his well wishes and told me that he still has the photos you took at the Academy, and spoke of how you helped with painting at his house.

  2. Charles Manson is responsible for killing many people.
    He had people killed.
    He blamed others for his lack of success and his failure as a musician and as a person.
    Manson did not fit in society and blames society instead of dealing with the truth.
    He puts on an act and some people buy his con job.
    He is nothing but a loser and a laughingstock.
    It is a shame that he was not able to be sent to the gas chamber.
    If any person deserves to be dead, it is Charles Manson.

    George Vreeland Hill

  3. My "godfather" (if that word means anything when everybody involved is an atheist ;) ) was friends with Sharon Tate & Roman Polanski, a pro photographer who did several shoots of her.

    Some shots here:

    So I guess that means I'm connected to Charles Manson too :( and to you too :D

    And I also teach English online to students in China. And I also have a blog on Tencent Weibo.

    I better stop now, this is getting too spooky!

    1. Hey, Hoe!

      And on it goes... I have long known of Hatami's work (I used to aspire to be a photo-journalist); have had a long-time love affair with Mexican culture (though I've only traveled in Baja--overland to Cabo); and just saw Roman Polanski's latest movie (Carnage) last night!

      I've just "fanned" you on Sina Weibo, and forwarded your account to my students.

      BTW I'm in China now, using a VPN. I also have Weebly, but discovered it can't be seen here when I use it with my own URL; but my Blogger blogs, which can't be seen usually, CAN be seen with my own URL. It's wacky! Still no FB, Twitter, YouTube, etc. without VPN.

      Have you seen my mini-lessons? They're on my Sina Weibo, if you can see that; on my Twitter (; and summarized every day on here:

      Keep in touch!

    2. Umm.. That was meant to be a cross between "Joe" and "Jose"... But now I realize: It doesn't look so good!

  4. NP ;)

    Thanks for recommending me to your students, I've done likewise on Tencent. I don't really use Sina despite having an acct. I know there's more action on Sina than Tencent... but Tencent's in English! :|

    Further complicated by the fact that my Sina acct was actually set up by my English school (I set up Tencent by myself) and I think they used some "social media promotion" service, so that acct is already following a bunch of people that I have no idea who they are. So whenever I look at my Sina Weibo, I'm confronted by an interface I don't understand, and a page full of posts by people I don't know, most of which again I don't understand!

    I know I should really study/research Sina so I can use it. I have even less of an excuse for not giving it a go as I did study Chinese so I should work on it.

    How weird about your... "inverted blockage" re Weebly & Blogger. I though it was odd that someone working with China was giving links to a Blogger-based site.

    Wow, you've heard of Hatami! Funny story, just last month nobody could get in touch with him. My mum was trying every e-mail, facebook page, phone number and mutual contact. She even googled him and found that a news report about Shahrokh Hatami being arrested in Texas. Turned out it was some other guy with the same name and "our" Hatami was just offline because someone had finally convinced him to buy a Mac and he couldn't work out how to use it!


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