Rachel Monroe at The Believer:
On the second day I spent with the Manson Bloggers, we found a tongue hanging from a tree. This was in the northwestern fringes of Los Angeles County, the half-wild, half-suburban part of the city that the Manson Family once called home. These days, most of the land is owned by the state and nearby there is a church; on top of a hill, a ten-foot cross looms in right-angled judgment. The Manson Bloggers did not seem to notice the cross, because they had another mission in mind: finding the Manson Tree, a gnarled oak that’s notable because Charles Manson used to perch in its crook and strum the guitar.
We had to scramble over a highway railing to reach the old oak. As we got close, I saw that some previous visitor had thrown a white rope over one of the tree’s branches. Something was dangling from the rope—a sweet potato, I thought. Or some sort of lumpy, orangish doll. The Manson Bloggers knew better. “It’s a cow’s tongue,” Deb said. She was right. Up close, it was unmistakable, a length of moist muscle, obscene and obscurely violent.