This week actress Evan Rachel Wood tossed a snowball that grew into a roaring avalanche of shame that has flattened the career of one Brian Warner, a man popularly known as the shock-artist, Marilyn Manson. Ms. Wood claims that when they were a couple Manson subjected her to mind control and physical abuse. As of this writing eleven more women have joined a swelling female chorus against the man. The engines of Cancel Culture have swung into action against him too, as he finds himself unceremoniously dismissed from his talent agency, his own long-time manager, and even his very own record label.

In his defense Mr. Manson has submitted a claim that all his relationships have been consensual. Additionally, Manson’s former wife, the famous model Dita Van Teese, along with his current wife have submitted claims in support of their relationships with him. Listening to the claims of Ms. Wood and others, I do very much get the impression that we have sadomasochistic kinks in play with Mr. Manson here. That’s always difficult to explain and impossible to defend! (Why live on the edge of such a knife??) But it’s no matter — any defense of Manson is released to the winds like a mere whistle in the roar of the looming avalanche that is steamrolling that sucker flat. 

I ask myself, “Why now? Why this sudden uproar against Marilyn Manson?” For did anybody ever have the crazy idea that this man was at any point possessed of a single virtue? And if so how is that possible because his entire career has been a giant, open revelry of nihilism. To delve into the world constructed by Manson is to delve into pain and rage. Manson literally screams against every sort of order — societal, religious, economic, political — even as he celebrates killing, murder, revenge, rape, tortures. Manson and members of his original band in fact named themselves, each one, after various serial killers. Early on in his career Manson hooked up with the high priest of the Church of Satan, Anton LeVey, who made Manson a reverend. Manson has labored over the problem of creating the biggest spectacle possible, promoting his celebrations of evil and dark things.

Note well that all these things were not only perfectly fine with kingmakers of the music industry, but they were why Manson was given a career. Don’t kid yourself about the entertainment industry. Talent is great but talent is no predictor of success. Some might agree and add, “Yes, it all comes down to making a quick buck!!” But that position is also naive, for the entertainment kingmakers are not merely serving a space that is organically creating itself. No! Never! The kingmakers of this realm are very well acquainted with the importance, their need even, to create these public spaces and to guide people through them. Marilyn Manson was a made man. If he wasn’t evil enough in the beginning, he was pushed in that direction! That was his allotted role. 

Manson must be sitting bewildered and amazed in his castle tonight. For he is the same man that he has always been, and none of his flaws nor his evil have ever been hidden. No, he has flaunted them!! What has changed, why is he suddenly cast out? It could be that he’s simply beyond his useful expiration date, and now the cost of protecting him is more than he’s worth. That is a weak argument because, truth be told, he was never worth much. He was always a performance artist of limited value. If he was not up to the task of going forth to beguile, an eager legion of others stood ready for a turn!

The better answer is his limited value has become a liability instead. Manson and his followers are rebels and always were, always raging against every kind of order. That makes them useful only to a group that is seeking power. The Manson Family becomes a liability, however, once that power is gained. And so they must be cast aside before they turn on their makers – as Satanists everywhere always will do. 

 

In their 1984 movie, Stop Making Sense, The Talking Heads turned in one of their greatest performances with their song, “Life During Wartime.” The song is dark in subject, but hopeful in spirit, set facing perhaps an apocalypse. The speaker frantically runs through strategies and copes, while refraining to hopes which are dashed by the chorus of “I ain’t got time for that now!!!” Through it all singer David Byrne’s impish and charming gyrations flood the performance with masterful frantic energy. I remember well seeing this movie in the theater as a teenager, after my  good friend Todd told me I’d love and so we went. He was right! It makes a big impression!

If we in America are not facing an apocalypse of sorts right, that would be hard to tell from here in the Washington, DC area. A metamorphosis has occurred! We have gone from a sleeply, cliquey town filled with villainy to an occupied camp filled with villainy! Our world of roadblock, suspect vehicles, and the sense that things just might run off the rails fit nicely with the lyrics:

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
Packed up and ready to go
Heard of some grave sites, out by the highway
A place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance
I’m getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone, lived in a ghetto
I’ve lived all over this town

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey
I ain’t got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver
Hope for an answer some day
I got three passports, a couple of visas

You don’t even know my real name
High on a hillside, the trucks are loading
Everything’s ready to roll
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nighttime
I might not ever get home

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
This ain’t no Mudd Club, or C. B. G. B.
I ain’t got time for that now

Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit?
Heard about Pittsburgh, P. A.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter
To last a couple of days
But I ain’t got no speakers, ain’t got no headphones
Ain’t got no records to play

Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time
Can’t write a letter, can’t send a postcard,
I can’t write nothing at all
This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no fooling around
I’d like to kiss you, I’d love you hold you
I ain’t got no time for that now

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock
we blended with the crowd
We got computer, we’re tapping phone lines
I know that ain’t allowed
We dress like students, we dress like housewives
or in a suit and a tie
I changed my hairstyle, so many times now
I don’t know what I look like!

You make me shiver, I feel so tender
We make a pretty good team
Don’t get exhausted, I’ll do some driving
you ought to get some sleep
Get you instructions, follow directions
Then you should change your address
Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day
whatever you think is best

Burned all my notebooks, what good are
Notebooks? They won’t help me survive
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace
The burning keeps me alive
Try to stay healthy, physical fitness
Don’t want to catch no disease
Try to be careful, don’t take no chances
You better watch what you say

That last part about not wanting to “catch no disease” and “You better watch what you say” really hit home in these times of COVID and of all the thought-policing going down!

With this tension in the air here one thing gnaws at us, imparting in most the sense that our status quo will change this week. Believing as he may for whomever or whatever force, with dread or wonder, each citizen perceives a paradigm shift in our lives and a divisive one. It’s arriving this week, with a bow tied on it!

This inauguration is unlike any that we have ever had. These affairs have been grafted to the civic and social life of the city. These are grand, celebratory occasions, modeled as a triumphant procession down Pennsylvania Avenue in throng-lined parade and viewing stands. Hundreds of thousands of celebrants line these things. Each state delegation among fifty throw their own ceremonial formal balls, and there are others, and tickets to each are coveted. Washingtonians spare no expense in preparation, in the planning, in the execution of the effort to get out there and put themselves forward in all this. O but not this time!!! This event is markedly not one “of the people” nor does it involve the life of the city.

This is comparatively a secret ceremony within an armed camp with patrols, with only a select few deemed privy. Why, a cynical alien might appear before you here, and as a stranger to Washington reasonably ask you this: “What happened, did they steal an election or something?”