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Manson called, wants phone back

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“Hello, this is Charlie Manson. Is your refrigerator running?”

It wasn’t funny the first time. Oh, and no — we don’t sell Prince Albert in a can. Take your punchline and get the hell out of here.

What’s really odd is, all summer I was getting these weird texts and phone messages — I didn’t even put this together until just now. An older voice, sort of dark in his tone. Always talking about Satan, I thought it was just a telemarketer. It didn’t occur to me it might be Manson but he’s made contact with the outside before and that’s freaky, plus Charlie lost his cellphone about the same time the calls stopped. In hindsight, it’s kind of a stretch to think it wasn’t him.

I’d usually tell him he had the wrong number and hang up. Even still, there was a strange control he had over me. Hard to explain. I thought of this again when I was writing the lyrics to a Beatles song on the garage door in my neighbor’s blood and I never usually do that. It was just the one time but I wondered if it might possibly relate to the phone calls.

As the story says … “Charles Manson, orchestrator of one of the most notorious killing rampages in U.S. history, was caught with an LG flip phone under his prison mattress.” Cellphones have been finding ways into California prisons at an alarmingly growing rate, with 8,675 confiscated so far this year.


This explains the 35 pizzas I didn’t order.

Guards have routinely been busted as the entry point in hundred thousand dollar smuggling rings specifically designed to get cellphones in the hands of prisoners. Phones have been known to fetch $300 for a basic model and up to $1,500 for a Blackberry or iPhone, even more if you want your contacts transferred. In August, President Obama signed a law banning cellphones in federal prisons but state facilities are exempt. Problems arise when prisoners use cellphones to make threats or plan crimes on the outside, try their hand at a Jerky Boys classic or order hits on witnesses or enemies — the justice system really pooh-poohs this.

That said, there’s currently no criminal penalty in California, if a person is caught giving a cellphone to an inmate. The state Democrat-proposed $5,000 fine was rejected by Republicans, who demanded jail time for the crime. Democrats refused due to prison overcrowding, so nothing’s been done and it’s presently not against the law for prisoners to have cellphones or to provide cellphones to them.

But it is a crime to come home, check my messages and find this:

“Hello, this is Charlie Manson calling from your County Clinic. You’ve been named as recently having sexual relations with one of our patients and we’d like you to come in for some tests.”

Not cool. And I’m not set up for FaceTime chats, so please stop reminding me I don’t have an iPhone 4.

It’s said that one of the most common methods inmates use to hide cellphones is within body cavities, which explains Manson’s choice of the LG Flip. Weighing slightly under 3 ounces, it’s sleek 3.5″ x 1.83″ x 0.75″ body fits snug and secure while at the same time, gentle on the cornhole. The Flip models are also ideal because, face it, nobody wants a RAZR up their butt.

Corcoran State Prison officials would not say if the phone in question was initially an LG Chocolate Flip but did confirm that was by time it was confiscated.

It seems to me there’d also be some bookoo smuggling deniro in setting up prisoners with cell phone battery chargers. Not easy finding the right cord and then there’s the other problem — that bulky transformer on the AC adaptor. A car adaptor wouldn’t work without access to an automobile, so what a DC charger gains in ergonomics, it loses in practicality.

“Hello, this is Charlie Manson. Remember that business card you dropped in our glass jar? Congratulations, you’ve won a $500 gift certificate, but you need to pick it up at 3am in front of the Greyhound station. Make sure you aren’t followed.”

The calls got weirder — all these years, he’s still looking for a recording contract. Then the texting: “Hello, this is Charlie Manson. Please follow me on Twitter.” Asking me why I haven’t friended him yet and making a pretty big deal about it.

“Tell Squeaky to start getting the band back together” and I delete it, totally not thinking.

Eventually you could tell he still really hadn’t gotten the hang of it: “I’m rolling on the floor laughing my ass off and wishing there was a faster way to type that.”

But always Charlie: “Bundle up today, wear a scarf. Also a red sweater, so the demons and devils seeking to harness the tormenting power of the scorpion will more easily manifest and rule in the darkness for eternity. But don’t forget the scarf, it’s supposed to be cold.”

The penalty for Manson? 30 days added to his life sentence. Only in California does this make sense. If cellphones are indeed allowed in Hell, my guess is Charlie will have one but they’ll also have AT&T service so if he dials from beyond the grave, it’s likely the call will be dropped anyway.

Prisons have considered jamming cell signals, but so far this has only produced lobbyists and commissions designed study the issue. There are obvious public safety arguments: picture being at the scene of a riot and no way to tweet about it or upload the video footage to YouTube? Or call for help.

The only way to truly fix this is to allow prisoners to have cell phones — give in to the notion that they’ll get them eventually — but demand signals be scrambled so that the only phone that works on prison grounds is the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X. The Gordon Gecko model, weighing in at a brick-like 1.8 pounds is 13″ x 3.5″ x 1.8″ of technology from the days when Ray Parker, Jr., ruled the charts. If someone wants to shove that bad boy up their keister, more power to them.

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