Dispatches from “Forever” Land: Dana Gould on Manson, Manson in Full House


While at Il Capriccio in Los Feliz a few nights back (wonderful) my wife and I sat and read while I pretended not to notice that we shared an otherwise empty patio with the great Dana Gould, from whom were seated two tables down. Gould recapped for his companion the story John Cusack recently told about Brian Wilson’s wit, honesty and outlook on Don Henley:

“He just doesn’t lie. Don Henley came and said, ‘Could you please sign this record, it meant so much to me?’ ‘OK, OK. “Dear Don, thanks for all the great music” ‘ and he crossed out ‘great’ and wrote, ‘good,’” says Cusack, laughing. “Don Henley, like, framed it.

And because I am otherwise unable to pretend that I am bigger than getting starstruck, especially with regard to those I look up to in the realm of writing and comedy, I kept listening in—again, pretending as if I noticed nothing—and looked through Gould’s tweets. I found another Beach Boys reference he’d made earlier that day.

“If Charles Manson tried to freeload off of Mike Love, Sharon Tate would still be alive today. #ifyougetityougetit”

And in case you don’t get it, Gould refers here to the fact that Manson and his so-called family spent a bunch of time freeloading off of a very good natured Dennis Wilson, the most tragic Beach Boy. This helped to put them in proximity—through a series of other amazing and nearly unbelievable events—to the notoriety for which we know them today.

Had they latched onto notorious asshole Mike Love—had he somehow let that happen, an unlikely scenario that paints for the mind a hilarious series of images—history would likely be different for those involved in the Tate-Labianca massacre.

For me, all of this evokes Full House, which we are re-watching with our daughter because somehow she got turned onto Fuller House. Admittedly, out of our own morbid curiosity, we really didn’t do much to dissuade this development. (And God forbid we somehow plant a seed of rebellion sewn in resentment about access to Full House.) Like the Manson Family, the 80s/90s sitcom shares a handful of strange and similarly nearly unbelievable connections with to Beach Boys by way of Dennis Wilson.

We recently watched the first episode to feature an appearance by the band, in which Kokomo-era Love is front and center—the band’s brand ambassador in the 80s—and Brian appears so sedate or disinterested that I didn’t even notice he was there upon my first viewing.

This episode would kick off what would be one of the strangest collaborations in the history of popular music—or, to be fair in the context of the aforementioned, the second strangest next to Manson’s proximity to Wilson—one in which John Stamos (the actor who played Uncle Jesse) began sporadically appearing as a very occasional guest vocalist and drummer at live concerts over the next several decades. Surreally, one of these gigs would include a benefit for the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, an organization which underwent scrutiny the year before for appearing to be little more than a mechanism for raising salaries for her immediate family members). The collaboration (?) would also include Uncle Jesse (the fictitious part-time musician portrayed by Stamos) coopting the Dennis Wilson penned “Forever,” which I, having myself grown up on Full House, had for the whole of my upbringing come to think to be a song originating with the 90s favorite uncle. I only came to Wilson’s haunting and beautiful rendition years later.

To clarify, Uncle Jesse’s Wilson’s signature song appears on the show on three occasions, and is credited within a music-video-within-an-episode to Jesse and his band the Rippers. While some members of the Beach Boys appear in this video, including the aforementioned Love, Jardine and Wilson do not because their relationship with the Love-fronted Beach Boys had become strained (and, it’s fair to speculate, they probably thought the whole thing was even weirder than the Manson connection itself). So if you ever think you’re having a bad day, remember that Dennis Wilson became better known for his association with Charles Manson than for what is arguably his most famous song, which many believe was written by a sitcom character otherwise best known for his hair and the catchphrase “Have mercy.”

[Note: Full House Reviewed‘s take on Jesse and the Rippers’ video is all that really matters.]

This makes one wonder, though, what role in this revised history Manson plays in the Full House canon.

Back at dinner Gould told another story about Brian Wilson and I started to imagine Manson somehow introduced to the Tanner family and explained in a recurring fashion—like Michelle’s best pal Teddy or Stephanie’s elementary school boyfriend Harry Takayama—before I realized that this all had masterfully been done nearly two and a half decades beforehand when Charlie, then portrayed by a brilliant and tick-laden Bob Odenkirk, was juxtaposed against a Lassie-like sitcom on The Ben Stiller Show.

A show which, as fate has it, credited Gould as a writer.

Ans this, my friends, is why I love this town.

Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.