Oh, this is a sad story.
Michael Garrett, son of Dan Garrett, Chuck Dederich’s consigliere and Synanon
’s chief counsel, went on to lead the Punk Squad, Dederich’s imperial marines, who practiced martial arts in the shifting fogs wafting from Tomales Bay each morning, secure in the knowledge that when the shit did
hit the fan, they had a $300,000 arms cache right inside that picturesque old barn over there with which to take the fuckers out.
This was back in the 1970s, when $300,000 could really
buy you firepower!
Mike was a sweet human being.
I mean—I knew
he was completely brainwashed.
But I was buying into Synanon myself in those days. (In my defense, I was only 16! I’d come to California for college, and I’d started college early ‘cause I’d skipped all those grades.)
Fortunately, he broke up with me before I became a trained assassin myself.
is one of those experiences I hardly ever think about. Indeed, when I try
to think about it, I can’t
—it’s kind of a black redacted area in my personal Mueller Report. Occasionally, there will be a kind of sense memory floating up from nowhere: I’m practicing roundhouse kicks in the predawn twilight, and it’s fuckin’ cold
; I’m in a truck, buried under 200 pounds of potatoes (that is
how the kindly rancher down the road from Badger smuggled me out.)
But I don’t think those things actually happened to me. The timeline isn’t right.
So where are those sensory impressions coming from?
Every six months or so, I get curious and Google to see if there are any new Synanon
stories. Usually, there aren’t. Dederich would have totally gotten behind making his minions drink the Kool-Aid but he didn’t have enough imagination to think that one up. With a much lower death count than Jonestown or even Heaven’s Gate, Synanon just isn’t that interesting to Millennials and the journos who pander to them.
Paul Morantz keeps a blog
. He’s the guy who found a rattlesnake in his mailbox one morning, placed there by two members of the Punk Squad. The rattlesnake bit him, and he nearly died, and the resulting publicity marked the beginning of the end for Synanon.
From Paul Morantz’s blog, I put together what little I know of what eventually happened to Mike Garrett.
By 1974, he’d become the Head of Synanon Public Safety, a euphemism for Chief Head Smasher. He also served as a deputy Marin County sheriff.
In 1975, though, he witnessed a scene that he later described in a legal document as “something out of Clockwork Orange
:” The Synanon Punk Squad had attacked a rancher and his family on a country road, smashed the windshield of his Impala, destroyed his face.
Later that year, two kids got lost driving through Point Reyes and made the mistake of stopping at Synanon to ask for directions. The kids were subsequently beaten and told they were under “arrest.” They were interrogated by Mike and Dederich, and their heads were forcibly shaved.
The DA recommended that kidnapping charges be filed, but the Marin County sheriff refused to take action.
Mike was still around in 1977 when a couple of kids involved in a minor traffic accident with a Synanon fence were dragged out of their car and beaten with blackjacks. In fact, Mike was in charge of beating them up. Synanon had confiscated the car, as Mike explained to the police detectives who subsequently turned up to investigate the incident, to pay for the damage to the fence.
These incidents are only a handful in what was essentially a two-year campaign of terrorism Synanon waged against local Marin County residents, but they’re the ones where Mike’s name was specifically mentioned. I have no doubt he participated in all of the terrorism.
In August, however, Mike was relieved of his post as Head of Synanon Security Forces. And on November 1, 1977, he fled. Finally copped to the inescapable knowledge that Dederich and Dan Garrett, his own father, had gone full Kurtz. (Note to self: Time to reread Heart of Darkness
He went underground. He knew full well that his father would kill him if he could without breaking a sweat.
Mike was only 26.
(Subsequent court testimony proved that Mike wasn’t wrong about Dan Garrett’s filicidal impulses. In the lengthy court proceedings that finally brought Synanon down, it came out that Mike’s name was Number Two on the Synanon Kill List. Right under Paul Morantz.)
It was about this time that I got the only communication I ever received from Mike: It was a picture postcard of a 1932 Ford. There was no message. There was no return address. It was sent to my mother’s address.
But I instantly knew it was from him.
Mike had been my first lover. I had been Mike’s
first lover. In the way of the world, there weren’t many places where we could tryst! But Mike owned this very cool—and fully driveable
—1932 Ford with an extremely
commodious trunk, and we often repaired to it to make love. No, I’m not claustrophobic. Why do you ask?
In 1978, he resurfaced briefly after Paul Ritter was nearly beaten to death by Synanon goons in the front yard of Ritter’s Berkeley home. Mike gave the California State Attorney General a 15-page deposition on Synanon violence.
And promptly vanished again.
He appears as a footnote in the disgusting, vile Dan Garrett
Some fuckin’ nerve, Dan Garrett. May you provide tasty barbecue for Hell’s legion of demons in perpetuo.
What happened to Mike after that?
Who fuckin’ knows?
I don’t actually remember how long ago it was, and I’m waaaay too lazy to look, so let us just say “some time back,” I wrote an LJ entry about Synanon and was immediately
stalked by dozens of Synanon assholes wanting to argue with me about it. Demanding my credentials!
They're still crazy after all these years!One
of those assholes turned out to be Mike Garrett’s sister Glenda. Who wanted me to know that despite the, uh, misunderstandings
at the end, Synanon had been a great place
, a transformative
place that squares
—was I a square
?—simply did not understand. And, oh yes, her brother Michael was a deeply disturbed
Deeply disturbed! I’ll bet!
Glenda was married to an annoying musician who still appears to be playing—and
selling luxury real estate!—on the San Allende, Mexico circuit! Of course, they met in Synanon.
Glenda died, and yes, I gave into morbid curiosity, and viewed the memorial video online.
At the very end of the eulogies, a man took the mike and began crying about how wonderful it was to have connected again after all these years.
He was actually a pretty handsome man, but maybe he smelled bad. Because all the other mourners were obviously non-plussed and moved away from him.
Was that Mike?
I kinda think maybe it was.
Like I said, he was a genuinely sweet
And I don’t think that kind of sweetness goes away.
So, I don’t know how he’s managed to live with himself.
In other news, Claude trapped the errant woodchuck! Who will shortly be relocating to Clinton Corners.
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