SF with Joel, in 1997? I was living in Delaware, OH, working for Nationwide Insurance. The company was supposed to pay for my trip at a training session and I had asked Joel to come with me. It was cancelled at the last minute, so Joel and I decided to go anyway. We had a great time wandering about, exploring and taking photos. We stayed at a great little motel next to the tenderloin area.
We of course did the Beatnik tour, saw Allan Ginsberg’s apartment, as well as all of the old places: Grateful Dead apartment house, the Purple Onion, visited City Lights bookstore, and went across Jack Kerouac Alley to Vesuvio’s where we drank and ate.
The inscription on the wall reads: “when the shadowof the grasshopper falls across the trail of the field mouse on green and slimy grass as a red sun rises above the western horizon silhouetting a gaunt and tautly muscled indian warrior perched with bow and arrow cocked and aimed straight at you it’s time for another martini.”
This episode has resurfaced as I’m still cleaning and clearing which causes photos to reappear. If you look closely at the inside of the bar you will see a photo of James Joyce on the back wall.
Some quick notes from the Chronicle and the time of the late 60s. This took place in San Francisco.
During the days of protests over the Vietnam war, the Hippies had a brief infatuation with Bikers. It lasted until the bikers returned to form and began breaking up meetings, music concerts, and generally causing mayhem. People got hurt. (This reminds of the story about the scorpion who got a ride from some other river creature by saying he would not harm him. The river pal let the scorpion ride on his back and took him to the other bank. Once there, the scorpion bit the creature, insuring his death. “Why, why? How could you! You broke your word,” shouted the dying pal. The scorpion replied, “What could I do? That’s how I am.”) Being true to self… So too with the hippies and the Hells Angles. Doomed. And true to self.
So this photo is of the last of days, all winding down and the war retreating. Allan Ginsberg is debating with the bikers. The bikers were and had been attacking protesters as they marched, breaking through police lines. The bikers chanting “America first,” Down with traitors,” and a personal favorite: “America for Americans.” Bedlam.
Another march was being planned and to get ahead of potential danger, Allan and Jerry Rubin invited the Hells Angles, The Avengers, et.al., to a debate. I’m pretty sure that the meeting did not change anyone’s beliefs, but the bikers did not harass the large protest when it took place the following month.
In the end, nothing changed and everything changed. The Vietnam war ended, the bikers continued with their beliefs, and the beats continued beating. And that’s the way things were then, and the way things are.