Acid Heroes

July 22, 2016

The final issue of the Telegraph Street Calendar



The Telegraph Street Calendar 2004 was the 15th, and final, issue of the series.  It ran from 1990 to 2004.  And, from a personal view, I was 33 when we started and 49 when we ended.  So when we started I was a young man, and when we finished, well, I was no longer a young man.  So it spanned a pretty significant portion of my life.


One of the reasons we started the Telegraph Street Calendar was that we felt the media mostly portrayed “the homeless” in a stereotypical manner.  Either as “noble victims” or “trouble-making bums.”    First and foremost, Duncan and I wanted to present the street people as individual people.  And we looked at the street scene the way an anthropologist might study any particular tribe.  In fact, street people aren’t really all that different than any other group of people (though they certainly have their distinctive elements).  Street people eat and sleep and shit and piss  and socialize  and work (well, some of  the time) and raise children and pets just like any other group of people.  My standard line used to be:  “The street scene is just like high school, except with rattier clothes and less teeth.”

We rarely had any trouble coming up with a unique theme for each issues.  Because the street scene used to change dramatically on it’s own every year.  Due to the transcient nature of street-people and the ever-shifting circumstances of street life.  Some years stand out in my mind like colorful, zany, sunny days.  Whereas other years have a darker and more tragic resonance.  The whole project was very much like publishing a yearly Yearbook of the Telegraph street scene.  And as Duncan and I hawked the latest issue at our vending table in front of Cody’s Books, the latest arrivals to the street scene would often check in with us, as if we functioned as sort of a Chamber of Commerce for the street people.

At any rate, the whole project was a pretty bizarre adventure that thrust me into places and situations that I never in a million years expected to find myself in. As they say.  It was a trip, mon!

Here are a couple of the characters that were featured in that last issue.

JOHN D. An archetypal street bro’. Hit the Tele scene in the late 1970s and made the scene for decades.

ELIZABETH and ANNIE. Quintessential grand dames of the streets. Elizabeth goes all the way back to the late ’60s Telegraph street scene, one of the first of the Berkeley street hippies.



B.N. DUNCAN. Hamming it up for the camera. He saw himself largely as an alienated loner on the fringe of society who couldn’t really relate normally to other people. . . He would have been shocked and surprised at how many people — from all walks of life — showed up for his memorial and all the heart-felt tributes.. . .As well as all the people imitating his endlessly repeated catch phrase: “Ahh! You couldn’t loan me a couple bucks until the first, could you?”


1 Comment »

  1. Have been stuck in Boston for 3 years due to legal issues connected to my activism. Looked up Cafe Med and read it was gone. Please write and tell me what’s going on with the street scene. Our Harvard Square has been basically cleared of any true alt street scene and all there is now is just a few new bums left that floated in from Boston. All my fav cities are selling out.

    Last time I was in Berkeley they were totally discouraging any outside sleeping which used to be acceptable.

    What’s it like now? I wanted to show my friend who’s never been beyond the east coast-is there anything left to show him?



    Comment by Rachel Baron — April 3, 2018 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

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