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This semester we’re interviewing various members of our department over a quick cup of coffee (or sometimes tea!) in order to learn more about them and the work they do. First up in the series, Dr. Seth Kotch.

Social Media Team: Last book you read?

Dr. Kotch: “The Sisters Brothers” by Patrick deWitt. It’s impossibly clever and set during the Gold Rush in San Francisco. It’s a great book.

SMT: What did you eat for breakfast?

DK: Espresso.

SMT: Just that?

DK: Just that.

SMT: Anecdote or factoid about current project or something you just wrapped up?

DK: I’m teaching this course on the history of crime and punishment, so I had to do some preparation about the 70s, which I’m not very converse in because my own death penalty research grinds to a halt in the early 60s. So I figured a great way to understand more about this would be to learn about Charles Manson. So I spent a lot time reading about Charles Manson…

SMT: Some light reading…

DK: Yes, light reading for when I need to lighten up from the death penalty. But Charles Manson was an aspiring popstar, which I didn’t know, and of course he became a popstar, but not quite in the way he intended. He moved to the Bay Area in LA looking to get into the music recording business and the reason he was at that house was because he was looking for a record deal. And Manson at the time, I believe, was living in Dennis Wilson’s house, the Beach Boy. He got Manson more than one visit to a recording studio, but Manson just got cold feet or stage fright and did a bad job. The Beach Boys ended up recording a Manson song that was a b-side single. Manson called it “Cease to Exist” and the Beach Boys retitled it something quite terrible like “Never Learn Not to Love.” Manson was mad at Dennis Wilson because he wasn’t given songwriter credits, so he tried to send Wilson a threat in the form of a bullet, which he gave to Wilson’s housekeeper to deliver to him and the housekeeper never did. So Manson was out there believing that he had lethally threatened Dennis Wilson, but the threat never came through. And then Dennis Wilson just left the house, he didn’t want to kick Manson and the family out, he was too shy and friendly and so he just left.

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