It really does feel like the end of an era. Hate Man occupied this shed for nearly 40 years. And today we moved the last box of Hate Man’ stuff out of it. So his last physical presence on the scene is gone, gone, gone.
I spent a few moments lingering in the empty shed this afternoon. The only thing left were a few pictures and nick-knacks that Hate had tacked to the walls. I shut the door and locked the lock for the last time. And that was that.
I had had a key to the shed, off and on, for the last 6 years. It started when I was working the recycling gig with Hate. I would regularly ferry his big garbage bags of recycling from his campsite in the Park to the shed. And Hate let me store some of my stuff in the shed. Which is a great luxury when you live on the streets — to have some of your valuables behind lock-and-key.
And it felt good that Hate Man trusted me with the key. Because, with the incredibly public life Hate led, the shed was his one private space. Hate Man was a man who literally welcomed the entire world to be part of his life. But the shed was the one place where he tried to keep the world at bay.
I remember the first time I heard of Hate Man — God, it must have been around 1980. And when they told me he lived in a garage, that seemed like one of the craziest things I had ever heard. “How does a grown man live in a garage? Where does he go to the bathroom? How does he cook his food??” Ha ha.
I remember a favorite period where me and Duncan and our friends would go down to the shed every evening to hang with Hate Man after we packed up our vending tables at the end of the day. And we’d pound a couple cans of Olde English as we quietly unwinded from the day. And the conversation around Hate Man was usually pretty lively and entertaining and often very funny. And those were some golden moments.
My last interaction with Hate Man involved the shed. He had suddenly rushed off to the hospital with a medical emergency. And he’d left all of his camping stuff on the sidewalk. I got an urgent message to pack up all of Hate Man’s stuff (and anybody who knows Hate Man knows that Hate Man had a LOT of stuff, ha ha) and haul it all to the shed before it got soaked by the rain or thrown out by the groundskeepers. And I managed to get it all stored safely in the shed just before the rain started to come down.
Unfortunately Hate Man died shortly after that. But at least all of his crap lived on. Ha ha.
But it was a weird feeling. After all the years of experiencing Hate Camp — the decades of this wild, crazy, free-form, street circus — which was dutifully packed up every night at the end of the day. I had packed up Hate Camp for the last time.