Upcoming Event

Jeffrey Melnick and Rachel Lee Rubin

present

Creepy Crawling:
Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family

and

Merle Haggard's Okie from Muskogee (33 1/3)

This event includes a book signing

Date

Oct
26
Friday
October 26, 2018
3:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes UMass Boston professors JEFFREY MELNICK and RACHEL LEE RUBIN for a discussion of 1969 culture and counterculture—featuring their new books, Creepy Crawling: Charles Manson and the Many Lives of America's Most Infamous Family and Merle Haggard's Okie from Muskogee (33 1/3).

About Creepy Crawling

"Creepy crawling" was the Manson Family's practice of secretly entering someone's home and, without harming anyone, leaving only a trace of evidence that they had been there, some reminder that the sanctity of the private home had been breached. Now, author Jeffrey Melnick reveals just how much the Family creepy crawled their way through Los Angeles in the sixties and then on through American social, political, and cultural life for close to fifty years, firmly lodging themselves in our minds.

Even now, it is almost impossible to discuss the sixties, teenage runaways, sexuality, drugs, music, California, and even the concept of family without referencing Manson and his "girls." Not just another history of Charles Manson, Creepy Crawling explores how the Family wasn't so much one of outsiders but emblematic of the Los Angeles counterculture freak scene, and how Manson worked to connect himself to the mainstream of the time.

Ever since they spent two nights killing seven residents of Los Angeles—what we now know as the "Tate-LaBianca murders”—the Manson family has rarely slipped from the American radar for long. From Emma Cline's The Girls to the recent TV show Aquarius, the family continues to find an audience. What is it about Charles Manson and his family that captivates us still? Author Jeffrey Melnick sets out to answer this question in this fascinating and compulsively readable cultural history of the Family and their influence from 1969 to the November 2017 death in prison of Charles Manson, himself, and beyond.

About Okie from Muskogee

Every now and then, a song inspires a cultural conversation that ends up looking like a brawl. Merle Haggard's Okie from Muskogee, released in 1969, is a prime example of that important role of popular music. Okie immediately helped to frame an ongoing discussion about region and class, pride and politics, culture and counterculture. But the conversation around the song, useful as it was, drowned out the song itself, not to mention the other songs on the live album-named for Okie and performed in Muskogee-that Haggard has carefully chosen to frame what has turned out to be his most famous song.

What are the internal clues for gleaning the intended meaning of Okie? What is the pay-off of the anti-fandom that Okie sparked (and continues to spark) in some quarters? How has the song come to be a shorthand for expressing all manner of anti-working class attitudes? What was Haggard's artistic path to that stage in Oklahoma, and how did he come to shape the industry so profoundly at the moment when urban country singers were playing a major role on the American social and political landscape?

Jeffrey Melnick
Jeffrey Melnick

Jeffrey Melnick

Jeffrey Melnick has been thinking about the Manson Family since first encountering the book and mini-series Helter Skelter in the 1970s. Melnick is a professor at University of Massachusetts Boston and the author of 9/11 Culture: America Under Construction (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), Black-Jewish Relations on Trial (University Press of Mississippi, 2000), and A Right to Sing the Blues (Harvard University Press, 1999). He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Rachel Lee Rubin
Rachel Lee Rubin

Rachel Lee Rubin

Rachel Lee Rubin is Professor of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, USA, and Director of the Center for the Study of Humanities, Culture, and Society. She has published and taught extensively on popular music, popular culture, and culture of the American left. Rubin is a regular media commentator on popular culture and public affairs.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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Event Series: Friday Forum

Harvard Book Store's Friday Forum series takes place on Friday afternoons during the academic year as a way to highlight scholarly books in a wide range of fields, with a particular focus on local scholars. Friday Forums take place at 3pm in Harvard Book Store.

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