San Francisco, CA (PT) – When Lila Alligood, 19, launched herself at Audrey Carey, 23, and straddled her as her boyfriend held a stolen pistol to her temple, waist deep in the recesses of Golden Gate Park; a stone throws away from where the Buffalo roam in enclosed pens, Lila’s scabbed and scorned features a far cry from when she had left Hawaii mere months ago. Her Facebook profile depicting a sunny, cherub-faced kid smiling no different than the last known picture of Audrey at S.F.’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, as good a first stop as any on her way to Europe by way of backpack and thumb from Quebec; her great-uncle Rejen Carey upon finding out said without hesitation, “She wanted to travel. It was her first trip”.
“Nobody gets out of this madness by trying to be right.”
~Charles Manson, 2013
Begging for her life, Audrey at some point in the ensuing chaos reversed her tactic of survival and told Morrison Lampley, 24, to just get it over and do it; perhaps accepting at last that the botched robbery represented the futility of an empathy that did not exist; her naiveté wrapping itself around her as the Pacific coast fog does the stoic trunks of Redwood trees that pepper the largest national park in the country. As the bullet ripped through her skull showering brain matter and life blood on the exposed roots of trees tucked away in the grove of green and brown that would be her exposed coffin, the three responsible took her backpack full of new and unused camping gear, a stark contrast to their own meager, amphetamine drenched lifestyle, and went on their way without so much as flinching or looking back, a mere stone’s throw from where the Buffalo roam.
At the intersection of modern society, its youth, and the most prosperous nation in the history of mankind lies embedded a toxic seed; preparing to sprout a forest of malaise-drenched hopelessness and despair, the result of a society devoid of rituals to properly ascend its children into adulthood; a festering limbo of shattered expectations experiencing the death throes of the American Dream.
“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix”
~Allen Ginsberg, Howl
In a recent study by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, it was revealed that “Homeless and unstably housed youth in San Francisco experience a mortality rate in excess of ten times that of the state’s general youth population. The primary causes of death in our cohort were suicide and/or alcohol- or drug-related”. This does not bode well for the street kids of San Francisco, or the other almost 2 million homeless kids residing in the clogged gutters of hope, eating from the dumpsters of the countries bloated troughs of economic inequality and social disparity.
Putting aside for a moment that forty percent of the nation’s crops never makes it to the dinner table, thrown away at the slightest blemish or imperfection, or that the epidemic of drug abuse and lack of mental health aid has reached proportions unimaginable in the decades ensuing from the unbridled prosperity of the post WWII generation.
In order for one to properly participate in the rituals of adulthood in modern society. Seemingly unreliable, festering in its fear-drenched culture, embraced by the teachings of its fractured elders so far removed from the plight of its lost and forgotten children. How does this not become a force which corrupts the shaping of a person’s livelihood? What moral codes do the youth of America construct via the merciless, materialistic facade of popular culture via mass media consumption?
Something had fundamentally changed within Lila Alligood between August 29, 2015, which was her last post on Facebook before leaving the Hawaiian islands and on around October 2, 2015, when Audrey was bound and gagged, robbed and then shot through the head, stopping short the young girls attempt at partaking in a lifestyle championed by the bohemians of early, 20th century-era Paris, and then the Beat writers of the 50’s, coalescing and peaking with the now homogenized and compartmentalized social experiments of the 1960’s; the monikers of peace and love literally ending with Charles Manson’s own fevered, patriarchal social and cultural forays into hacking off a slice on his own take of the American Dream.
The stark contrast between Lila’s sweet and innocent pictures, posts and likes on her social media account and her mugshot a mere month later is as pure an example as exists to the dangers of hard drug addiction. The trio’s crimey-cohorts mughsots portray the epitome of lost innocence; Lila’s expression belittling any shred of dignity or humanity, scowling through an expression framed by a soulless stare and dead eyes, predators of the lowest common denomination, hearkening with a devout purity to the heart of darkness in a state of limbo, where the center will not hold.
The mugshots were a result of the three ‘transients’, all in their 20’s, after having been arrested outside a soup kitchen in Portland, Oregon; attempting to trade the stolen car of the trio’s second victim for a pound of speed. Steve Carter, 67, a yoga instructor shot in cold blood on a hiking trail in Marin County, whose dog after having been shot also, refusing to leave the lifeless body of his master; Sean Angold later testifying that the ‘dog cried’ as the trio walked away, Coco hanging on for more than 48 hours until found by authorities; rescued with time enough to receive medical aid from a veterinarian.
The irony is not hard to spot. Along with Lila’s embracing of the counter-culture through her manner of dress and likes on her Facebook page, such as the Grateful Dead, and pages having to do with the legalization of Marijuana, is also a like for a page called the Hawaii Meth Project; a non-profit organization geared towards helping people get off of speed and its crack cocaine equivalent, Ice; an enhanced version of speed, itself a detestable and putrid chemical incarnation, prescribed not only to bored housewives of the pre baby-boomer generation, but also used by Hitler and his minions to facilitate the naked evil that men unhinged live to do to each other under the circumstances of totalitarian fascism unhinged.
In the ensuing malaise that followed the hallowed fever of pinnacle that was the Summer of Love in 1967, in which almost a hundred-thousand kids in their 20’s made the requisite pilgrimage to Haight Ashbury to the utter deranged surprise of parents and the authorities, a sense of purpose truly imbued a generation in a singular and coherent narrative: To find an alternative to the master-narrative that dominated the excesses of a society thrust unto the world stage a freshly minted superpower due to the savage and unrelenting premise that might makes right. Plato’s theory of philosopher kings as the best fit to lead society perpetually come undone in the mushroom clouds of eternal hellfire and death; the Atomic bomb being the ultimate rule of law incarnate.
Dr. Oppenheimers success in the splitting of the atom facilitated the U.S. ruling the world by fear and not logic or reason; a true shot across the bow that mankind was in the final stages of it’s evolution. The human race now possessing the ability to destroy all life on earth hundreds of times over.
While the CIA was performing clandestine and unethical secret experiments on the unsuspecting populace under the MK-ULTRA cluster-fuck, the hundred thousand or so kids living in and around Golden Gate Park (with the saintly and beatific help of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters on the West coast, and Timothy Leary at Millbroook on the East coast), had re-purposed Albert Hoffman’s sacred accident of the 25th compound synthesized from ergot rye derivatives, and later known as Lysergic Acid Diethylamide or LSD-25, had become the sacrament of the new tribe, facilitating the gears of change much to the derangement of the authorities; the kids living on Haight Ashbury embracing the initiative and creating if for a moment, a true fracturing of the patriarchal and materialistic master narrative: The antidote to the atomic bomb.
Society failed all those involved in this case, the accused, those whose lives were mercilessly snuffed out, and perhaps most telling of all, those left to pick up the pieces:
“A Santa Barbara school official, who did not want to be named, remembered Alligood well and had fond memories of her as an elementary school student. “She was a good kid and very friendly,” the woman said. “We (employees at the school) loved the mom. “Locals who still keep in touch with Alligood’s mother, Marta, say she is heartbroken and struggled for years to rein in her daughter when she repeatedly fell in with the wrong crowd while living in Hawaii.”
This is not to say that if the three drifters had chosen LSD over speed that they would have procured the keys to the kingdom and lived their lives out in peaceful harmony and blissful relevance-of which testimony at the preliminary trial revealed that indeed LSD (and Heroin and Marijuana) had been part of the the flurry of violence and chaos that now defines every aspect of their existence; it is to say that the footsteps they were treading in had been fashioned out of a sense of relentless hope and promise by kids their age 40 years ago, who were also looking for an answer to the multitudes of madness and uncertainty that every human being must go through in order to know themselves and find their place in the world.
In a Washington Post article on another horrendous crime of violence and murder that occurred months after the trios crime spree, the author equates that homeless on homeless violence was yet another sign of the futility of the experience of living out of one’s backpack; corralling the trios unfortunate circumstances and Audrey’s pure intention to experience adventure while traveling with naught but a backpack and your wits to see you about.
The transient trio were homeless because they chose not to see the silver lining in the footsteps of those that had gone before them; Audrey had, wanting not to murder in cold blood in an attempt to gorge on the worst habits of human nature, but had chosen to travel and see the world, at best she was house-less, homelessness being a direct result of actions seemingly out of one’s control.
At the trial, when confronted by the prosecution and family member, tears did flow on both sides, as to whether or not it made a difference to the widow and family of the departed is unknown; facing decades of incarceration, what hung in the air where copious swaths of time in which all of humanity would fester together in the nightmares of the damned; each one of us affected in an attempt to grasp the severity of transgressions committed by societies most vulnerable assets, it’s youth; that would one day inherit the world and be responsible for assuring that the millions of perished brothers and sisters of past generations that died bringing humankind to fruition would not be in vain.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)