Monday, May 22, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt eight)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

At one point, Randy reached out to Jack Scott, asking him to dinner at a house in San Francisco, where they ate roast beef and drank vodka late into the night while the publisher pumped him for information about Patty. On another occasion, Scott met Randy and Catherine at a Mexican restaurant in Ghirardelli Square near San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, where he reported to them that Patty was growing increasingly disenchanted with the Harrises’ macho style as she developed a feminist consciousness and was talking of secretly visiting her parents. Randy wondered if Patty might agree to return if Catherine resigned from the UC Board of Regents, but again his wife refused adamantly, saying that she didn’t trust “that little weasel Scott.” She was growing increasingly fed up with her husband’s dalliances with the radical underground.

“Randy would meet with anybody who might help find Patty,” recalled Weir. “He struck me as a very uptight, traditional person, but sincere. When I look back at him through older eyes, the eyes of a father, I feel sorry for what he went through. He would have given away his whole fortune to get her back safely. I think the whole thing broke his heart.”



Sunday, May 21, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt seven)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

Good Earth members briefly considered turning to armed resistance against the police brutality. But, they decided, that’s not who they were. Instead of going down the violent path of the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, and other armed groups on the radical left, Good Earth found a good lawyer. His name was Tony Serra, and with his long Native American-looking hair, pirate’s gold tooth, and stoner aura, he seemed every bit the spacey hippie that the Good Earth hard hippies disdained. But when it came to the legal battlefield, Tony Serra was a brilliant warrior.

Serra, a San Francisco native, grew up in the outer Sunset district in an artistic, blue-collar family that also produced a younger brother, Richard, who would become a world-renowned sculptor. Their father, an immigrant from Mallorca, Spain, made jelly beans. Their mother, a Russian-Jewish bohemian aesthete, later killed herself, walking straight into the ocean at the end of Taraval Street, where she had taken her boys to the beach when they were growing up. Serra majored in philosophy at Stanford and threw thimself into combative sports, joining the boxing and football teams. After graduating from law school in 1962, he tried to avoid his professional destiny, bumming around Morocco and South America and writing bad poetry.



Saturday, May 20, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt six)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

As hard drugs took their toll on Haight-Ashbury, the neighborhood descended into crime and squalor. By 1969, most of the stores on Haight Street were boarded up and vacant. Cats were said to be hard to find on the streets, because starving junkies were hunting them for food. The neighborhood was hit by a wave of grisly drug murders. A twenty-three-year-old biker who claimed he had been high on acid for eighteen straight months were pulled over by police one day. He was driving a stolen black Volkswagen owned by an unemployed flute player turned drug dealer. The severed arm wrapped in blue suede that police found in the back of the car also turned out to belong to the flute player. “I’m very, very hazy about that arm,” the biker told his lawyer after he was arrested on murder charges.



Friday, May 19, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt five)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

During the 1950s and early 1960s, San Francisco had a blossoming but largely secret gay life. Indeed, the song that would become the city’s anthem, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” was written in 1954 by two gay lovers who were pining for “the city by the bay” after moving to Brooklyn Heights. Tony Bennett made the song famous, singing it for the first time at the Fairmont Hotel’s Venetian Room in December 1961, with future mayor Joe Alioto in the audience. By then, the songwriters—Douglass Cross and George Cory—had moved back to the Bay Area, where Cross died of a heart attack and a grief-stricken Cory later took his own life.



Thursday, May 18, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt four)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

Music was at the heart of San Francisco’s magical transformation in the 1960s. And at the beginning of the decade, the Fillmore was the music’s hot center. They called the Fillmore “the Harlem of the West.” The streets were filled until the early morning hours with a parade of peacocks: men with diamond stickpins, satin ties, and long coats; women in slit dresses and furs. Adventurous white kids like Jerry Garcia would sneak into the Fillmore clubs and dance halls, this forbidden empire of cool, to hear the music they couldn’t find on Top 40 radio.

And then it was all gone, destroyed block by block by the wrecking balls and bulldozers of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. As Jerry Garcia later sang, “Nothin’ shakin’ on Shakedown Street, used to be the heart of town.” The agency launched the first phase of its massive urban renewal project in 1953, erasing stores, nightclubs, and churches and more than twenty-five thousand residents from hundreds of city blocks. Geary Street, a bustling commercial center, was turned into an eight-lane expressway, so that cars and buses carrying commuters downtown from the predominately white west-side neighborhoods could hurtle directly through the Fillmore without stopping. Ten years later, the agency kicked off the second phase of its Fillmore blitzkrieg, uprooting an additional thirteen thousand people and shuttering thousands of more businesses over sixty square blocks.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt three)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

In this febrile environment, no minister with Edward Beggs’ restless spirit could sit in suburban stupor for long. When Beggs heard that Glide Church was establishing a shelter for the growing teenage runaway population in San Francisco, he knew this was his pastoral calling. He left his life in the church and became the founding director of Huckleberry House. The name was Beggs’s idea; his homage to American literature’s most famous young runaway. Beggs saw Huck Finn as a “revolutionary” who hit the road with his black friend Jim rather than bow to the cultural values of the day, just like the young people pouring into San Francisco. When Huck decided, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell,” rather than condemn Jim to a life of slavery, Beggs believed it was one of the great moral epiphanies in the American odyssey. Had Huck and Jim been living in 1960s America, he surmised, they would have kept heading west, directly for the Haight-Ashbury.

Emmett Grogan thought Huckleberry House “was as lame as its name,” calling it a “nice, mild, safe, responsible way for the church to become involved in ‘hippiedom.’” The Diggers made an effort to take care of the boys and girls washing up on the shores of the Haight. “The city was telling all these kids—our age, a lot of them younger—to get lost,” Coyote recalled. “And our feeling was that they were our kids. You know? This was America; these were our kids.”



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt two)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

The Haight was still just a scruffy, fog-bound neighborhood when Marilyn moved there, with Russian bakeries where you could buy piroshkis. But the fairy dust was already floating overhead. The year after she settled in the Haight, a young band called the Grateful Dead moved into a big Victorian across the street at 710 Ashbury. Janis Joplin rambled around the neighborhood in her scarves and boas, swigging from a bottle of Ripple with her bandmates, and Marilyn would bump into her at Peggy Caserta’s clothes store on Haight. They all became friends. Nobody was a celebrity in those days. The neighborhood thought it owned the bands. Everyone took care of one another.