Hate Man: All American football fan

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“The Bear will never die!! The Bear will never be defeated!!

 

This might surprise some people — because Hate Man wasn’t exactly your typical jock — but Hate Man was a huge Cal Bears football fan.

Some of my fondest memories of Hate Camp are hanging there on the Saturdays that Cal was playing. And I’d be listening to the game on the radio on my headphones. And since my radio didn’t have speakers I’d be doing a play-by-play so that everyone at Hate Camp could follow the game. And we’d all be avidly into it. Especially Hate Man.

“And the quarterback is dropping back to pass . . .AND THEY CAUGHT IT!! . . . No wait . . FUMBLE!! . .. I’m not sure who’s got it . . CAL GOT THE BALL BACK!! . . . First and goal with 40 seconds left in the game!!”

It could get really exciting. And I’d really ham it up as the play-by-play announcer.

But one odd thing. We were about a mile away from the football stadium listening to the radio in Peoples Park. And every time Cal scored they’d shoot off the cannon. And I’d hear it first on the radio. And then I’d hear it a second later in real life. It took that long for the sound to travel a mile. Weird.

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September 11, 2001

 

 

I distinctly remember where I was on 9-11.  My Surviving on the Streets book had just been published the day before.  And I would turn 45 on the day after.  I considered my Street book one of the best things I had produced.  So I felt I was on top of my game back then. With new peaks yet to come.

And the Telegraph Street Calendar was a hit that year, too.  It was the one with Hate Man and Hatred on the cover. It sold well. And it recaptured a bit of the zany, fun-loving spirit of the Telegraph Avenue in the early ’90s. So that was looking up, too.

Everything I touched worked.  And I’d been doing daily kundalini yoga meditation for 7 years years.  With no drugs or alcohol. So I was sharp as a tack, both physically and spiritually.  It even seemed like I was finally resolving some of the demons that had bedeviled me all my life.  And I was actually turning into the person that I had always wanted to be. So I really felt like I was on a roll.  And I had every reason to believe things would just keep getting better and better.

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And my little sister, at age 42, had managed to finally have her first child. So it was a new beginning for her. So that’s what I always remember about that period of 9-ll. The birth of my sister’s baby, and the birth of my “Surviving On the Streets” book. It seemed like things were really looking up on all fronts. . .

Of course I didn’t know at the time — one rarely does know at the time — that this would in fact be my peak.  And it would pretty much  be all downhill from this point onward.  And maybe not just for me.  But for America, too.

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Hate Man’s coffee bottle

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Hate Man’s legendary coffee bottle, which he always dolled up with colorful objects. Hate was one of those people who drank coffee all day long throughout the course of the day (I used to be like that back when I was a productive citizen — now I’m just one large coffee first thing in the morning to kick-start my engine and that’s it). So his coffee bottle was never far from his side.

One time Hate Man asked me to get him a large black coffee to-go at Peats. “And take a second cup to the condiments table and fill that half-way up with sugar.” Hate Man liked a LOT of sugar with his coffee.

Guy lived to be 80.

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Hate Man and his stuff: Part 2. Hate Man tells the University to stuff it

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When Hate Man moved to People’s Park and set up Hate Camp there, his battles with the police and the University over his “stuff” really intensified, and became virtually a daily form of warfare that was waged for over a decade. It wasn’t uncommon for Hate to have a dozen “stuff”-related tickets at any given moment. Virtually all of which Hate defeated in court.

The problem the police had with nailing Hate over this issue was that there was very little legal precedent to go by, as well as the difficulting of exactly defining what “too much stuff” entailed. A fact that Hate was able to exploit in court.

The cops would arbitrarily attempt to come up with different definitions — one was “you could only have as much stuff as you could carry.” But Hate would argue that this discriminated against older, smaller, weaker people who couldn’t carry as much as younger, bigger, stronger people.

Or the cops would try to give street people tickets for having chairs, which they considered a form of “lodging.” To which Hate countered that this discriminated against the homeless, because normal people were allowed to bring lawn chairs to the parks when they had their picnics.

Hate had an excellent legal mind. And he enjoyed using it. He enjoyed the gamesmanship of the battle. And never took it personally against the police or the University. He saw it as part of his life-long mission to learn how to deal effectively with nemeses and people who were in opposition to him. And most of the cops didn’t take it personally either. Aside from one or two who REALLY hated Hate Man’s guts and went out of their way to make Hate’s life miserable.

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And to be fair to the cops, it was necessary for them to periodically crunch the homeless street people over having too much stuff. Because many of them compiled huge masses of crap and made huge messes. And if the cops didn’t periodically prune the herd, they’d turn our public parks and public spaces into private squats and homeless shanty towns.

Hate Man, though, was in somewhat of a unique position. He served as sort of a communal store and trading post for the street community. And among his stuff he’d have things like a “medicine chest” where street people could get things like aspirins and cough medicine and band aids. And if you needed to borrow a screw driver or an extra blanket or the proverbial cup of sugar, Hate would usually have it among his mounds of stuff. And Hate also let other street people store their stuff alongside his stuff — he’d keep an eye on it while they had to take care of some business. Which added to his mounds of stuff. And, of course, he usually had several big garbage bags of recycled cans and bottles.

Every now and then I would ask Hate if it was really worth it to go through the daily grind over his stuff, and wouldn’t he consider “flexing” and lightening his load. But Hate Man was always adamant about living his life on his own terms. And if society wanted to stop him, well, good luck doing that. Ha ha. Hate was never shy about pushing the envelope. And wherever the line was drawn, he’d extend it by a couple extra feet. And it would be from that point that he’d be willing to start negotiating. Ha ha.

Finally, in a last-ditch attempt to get rid of Hate Man and all his stuff, as well as all the other homeless people who were basically living in Peoples Park, the University arbitrarily came up with a ban on all cardboard and tarps in the park. Hate Man, realizing this would make it virtually impossible for street people to exist in the park, decided to go on the offensive. And he — and his noisy band of fellow street people — set up a big 24-hour-a-day protest on Bancroft Street, at the foot of the campus and directly in front of the University police station. And he managed to create such a public uproar, that after several weeks the University backed down and relinquished the ban.

And Hate Man prevailed once again. THE END

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Hate Man and his stuff: Part 1

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Hate Man at the center of his universe.

 

Hate Man had an ongoing battle with the police and the University for over 25 years over his “stuff.” Quite simply they felt he, as a homeless person living in public spaces, had “too much stuff.”

The battle first started in the early 1990s when Hate Man used to like to hang out and set up his Hate Camp at the first two benches at the entrance to the Berkeley campus. And he liked to keep all of his stuff in his beloved shopping cart, named “Gilda,” which he parked nearby him. The University felt his raggedy-ass homeless shopping cart despoiled the scenic beauty of the campus, as well as attracted other motley bums to set up shop. So they demanded he get rid of it. Hate refused. The cops gave Hate a bunch of tickets. And i think they even arrested him at one point.

But Hate — a battler by nature — decided to battle back (“Life is a battle, its a war!! was Hate’s eternal mantra). So he consulted with lawyers and devised all sorts of legal strategies to battle it out in court (Hate would have made a great lawyer). He also had good skills at manipulating the media, and the press couldn’t resist a story about a wacky Telegraph Avenue character who had a shopping cart named “Gilda.” So the University was subjected to reams of embarrassing publicity.

Finally the University realized they were no match for the wiley ways of Hate Man and conceded defeat. And Hate Man and “Gilda” lived hatefully ever after. (Later, when I put on an art gallery showing of “street art” I mounted Hate’s shopping cart on a dais, like a sculpture, and placed it in the middle of the gallery, a living piece of art.)

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On this date last year: Grace under pressure. The kind of stuff Hate Man was dealing with during his last months on the planet

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Hate Man has been struggling quite a bit lately. He’s 80 years old. He’s having health problems (problems breathing). And a massive rainstorm is heading our way tonight. Plus, the cops are on his case. And he’s surrounded by street crazies fucking with him.

“Last night I set up all my camping stuff on Bowditch Street,” said Hate Man. “But when I came back this morning all my stuff was gone! Including my 8 garbage bags of recycling! At first I thought the cops had hauled it away. And now I’m completely fucked. The big storm coming in tonight and all my blankets and tarps are gone.”

“What happened to all your stuff?” I asked.

“It turned out Sunshine (this crazy tweaker chick) had hauled off all my stuff and dumped it in a garbage can.”

“For no reason?”

“Yeah.”

“Well I’m sure she had a reason. But it was probably a completely insane reason that made sense to nobody but her.”

“Yeah. But at least I managed to track down all my stuff. And now I’m struggling to get it all set up again before the rain starts pouring down.”

But here’s the kicker. Amidst dealing with dozens of dire issues Hate Man pauses amidst his travails and says:

“Oh. This guy dropped off a bunch of cans of Vienna Sausages for me. But I don’t want them. You can have them if you want (Hate Man knows my feral cats love Vienna Sausages).”

Hate Man digs out the bag of Vienna Sausages from the jumbled mess that is his campsite. Gives them to me. And then goes back to the task of trying to organize his campsite before the big storm hits.

Hate Man is kind of the epitome of the concept of “grace under pressure.”

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Hate Man’s last Christmas

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2016 would be Hate Man’s last Christmas.  He would be dead in 3 months. Of course we didn’t know it at the time.  We just figured the tough old bastard would live forever.  It was hard to imagine a Berkeley without Hate Man. . .

As usual, Hate Man had a Hate Camp Christmas tree.  That was one of the great things about Hate Man.  A lot of life on the streets is just a grim, gritty survival trip.  But Hate Man always took the time to add that extra little flair.  A fresh flower in his hat.  And a Christmas tree just for the street people.

And we decked out the Hate Camp Christmas tree with tinsel and electric lights, and a star on top.  But the night before Christmas this crazy tweaker chick (hi, Sunshine) grabbed the tree when nobody was looking and dumped it in a garbage can. Hate Man was able to track down the tree, but the tinsel and lights were gone. Merry Methmas!!

But that was sort of what Hate Man’s life was like during his last years in People’s Park. He was surrounded by a pack of lunatics, basically.  He had two different tweakers that would regularly sneak into his campsite when he was gone and rifle through all of his stuff and make a big mess. They wouldn’t necessarily steal the stuff. They’d just carry it off and deposit it in a garbage can for no particular reason (aside from the “reasons” that made perfect sense in their meth-addled brains).

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“Have a BAD Christmas.”

Of course there were other thievin’ bastards that would actually steal Hate Man’s stuff. And then there were all the vultures that were constantly hitting Hate Man up for his cigarettes or his money or anything else of value that they could gouge off of him.  And then there were the ones that would physically attack him.  I saw Hate Man get punched in the head and knocked to the ground on multiple occasions during his last years.

But Hate Man never really complained (aside from his usual line “I’d like to kill that guy!”) (To which my standard response was: “I’m not stopping you.”).

But that was another great thing about Hate Man. He never felt sorry for himself.  He always viewed life like it was a challenging (and ultimately fulfilling) adventure.  Along with his endlessly repeated catch-phrase: “It’s up to me to defend myself.” And he always had this great sense of gamesmanship. He often talked about life being a “battle” or a “war.” But in truth, I think Hate Man looked at life as more of a game than a war. In a war, you want to obliterate your opposition.   But in a game, you just want to neutralize them. So that you can play another game with them tomorrow. And Hate Man looked at all of his nemeses as worthy and respected adversaries.  That he would spar with, like sort of a fencing duel. With his stated goal being that he hoped to learn how to relate to everyone, and all the different “vibratory types.”

I don’t remember any of the details of that last Christmas at Hate Camp.  All the memories sort of blur together of a thousand nights at Hate Camp. Smoking cigarettes, drinking our drinks, talking the gossip of the day, or discussing Hate Man’s latest battle with his latest adversary. Hate Man didn’t make a big deal out of celebrating the holidays.  Because Hate Man celebrated every day.

Hate Man’s body, at age 80, was finally wearing down, piece by piece at this point. He had a pacemaker in his heart, and a tube up his dick, and regular chiropractors for his back, and his lungs were finally starting to go. He had just started slipping into that pattern of regular trips to the emergency ward. And ever-more frequent stays at the hospital, of ever-increasing duration.  But he’d also often snap back, periodically, into being the vibrant, vital Hate Man he had always been. So we all just figured he’d defeat this latest obstacle — death — just like he’d defeated all of the previous obstacles.

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