A long forgotten moment in 1992

 

I don’t know why, but I often get this feeling of wistful sadness when I look back on my life. Like this long-forgotten moment in 1992. Anthony, Yume, Hate Boy. And I’ll often get that feeling when I think of somebody that I knew who died. I’ll think back to the excitement of those times. How we were constantly rushing around chasing after something. Something that always seemed to be just out of reach. It was like life always seemed to be leading up to something. But then when the person dies, there’s sort of this empty feeling. Like it was all just leading up to death.

And this weird sense of incompleteness about so much of our lives. It’s like I rushed through my life cramming all these experiences down my throat, while never really digesting them. It seems like it should have added up to something more somehow. Something more than a barely understood, and mostly forgotten, dream.

And as an artist, always trying to capture and preserve the moment. While never sure why. This futile yearning to capture and relive the past. And there’s a photo of us, or a newspaper article of us, or a tape recording of us. And there’s the date on it. September 1, 1992, or whatever. . . As if I needed some kind of proof that it was real, and it actually happened, and I was there. Even as, one by one, the photos disappear, the newspapers end up in the trash, and the tape recordings wear out.

The spiritual types all say “live in the moment,” the eternal Now. The past is just a dream. The future never gets here. All that’s real is the present. Even as I’m haunted by my past in a weird kind of way.

Hate Boy

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There were several different “Hate Boys” over the years. Guys that were Hate Man’s primary side-kick and second-in-command. Sancho Panchez to Hate Man’s Don Quixote…. But Hate Boy was the first.
Hate Boy was an enigmatic fellow. He hit the Telegraph street scene around 1992 and hung around for a couple of years before he got run out of town.

Tall, lanky, and athletic, fairly handsome, I’d guess in his mid-20s when this photo was taken (but who knows, just about everything about him was a mystery). Hate Boy talked very little. Sat there with his Cheshire Cat grin. He mostly presented himself to the public by his ever-changing colorful costumes, and by his peculiar movements and mannerisms. Somewhat of an exhibitionist, he reminded me of a mime (he would sometimes wear white pancake make-up), or a slightly malicious court jester or joker. With a strangely aristocratic manner, like a rich kid on a lark. Often had a sly, mischievous smile on his face, like he was enjoying some secret inside joke. Possibly at your expense.

He adopted some of the Hate Man’s look, as well as some of Hate Man’s philosophy. So for awhile they were like a matching set. Hate Man and Hate Boy.

Hate Boy wasn’t a verbal person. The few times I tried to engage him in conversation he responded with terse, one-sentence answers. He never talked about his background (and to this day I don’t know anything about him, where he came from, what his real name was, what he had been doing before he became Hate Boy, and what he did afterwards). He never explained himself, or what he was aspiring to be, or what it all meant to him. He just presented himself as a living, breathing piece of performance art. This inscrutible work of avant-garde that people could project any meaning onto, or no meaning. As he danced across Telegraph like a zany ballerina (I have a set of photos of him spinning and piruetting and posing down the Ave).

When the Naked Guy started walking around naked, Hate Boy would often strip and join him on his romps, penis dangling in the breeze, his smile slier than ever. Hate Boy liked to shock and push the envelope. And eventually that got him in trouble. After a series of episodes where he grabbed at different co-eds crotches, he was banned from the area. And left town suddenly one day — possibly one step ahead of the law — never to return. And that was the end of Hate Boy. One more legend of Telegraph

Generally I enjoyed Hate Boy. He added some color and life to the scene. Projected this attitude that life was just a game, and there was nothing better to do than to play all day long, if you could get away with it

Elizabeth

 
Elizabeth and Annie, 2003.
Was wondering whatever happened to Elizabeth. I haven’t seen her, or heard anything about her, in at least 3 or 4 years. . .

One of Elizabeth’s claims to fame: She was one of the first of the Berkeley street hippies, hitting the Telegraph street scene around 1967. And remained a part of it down through the decades. The ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s, the ’00s. While almost everyone else came and went, Elizabeth remained. And it gave her a poignant, tragic aspect. Like everyone else had moved on, while Elizabeth had been left behind.

Often loud and cantankerous, especially if she was drinking, she was given the nickname “Sea Hag,” due to her skinny, boney figure and ornery manner. She usually didn’t talk to people so much as screech and squawk at them. Her brains were somewhat pickled from all the drugs and alcohol, and she was hardened by all the street years — hard as nails with an inpenatrable surface armor (as well as generally being oblivious of what anyone thought of her). Picture a squawking, abrasive hillbilly woman from the mountains, and that was her demeanor.

But she had a soulful side, too. One night when she was in one of her moods and particularly acting up, I gave her a copy of Terri Compost’s photo book of People’s Park. And Elizabeth spent the entire evening quietly leafing through every page, every photo. Each picture, each face, conjuring up a thousand memories of the years gone by. Elizabeth had a strong identification with the Telegraph street scene. It was probably the only community she had ever been part of. And sometimes we would both reminisce about all the people and places past (much to Hate Man’s annoyance, he HATED that “Good Old Days” crap, ha ha) and Elizabeth would get a wistful, faraway look in her eye.

Though she could be hard to take, I always had a soft spot for Elizabeth, and was always courtly towards her, lighting her cigarettes and referring to her as “my dear.” Which she enjoyed, remembering the days when she had been a beautiful young hippie woman with the men circling around her, seeking her favors.

Like many Telegraph expatriots, Elizabeth ended up living in Oakland where the rents were cheaper. Living in a little room somewhere in Oakland in her later years. But she’d regularly return to Telegraph, as if driven by some homing pigeon instinct. And you could usually hear her coming from a block away, squawking and screeching. Ha ha. She always came to the scene alone, and left the scene alone. Until a couple years ago when she stopped coming.

Elizabeth

Some photos by Paul “Blue” Nicoloff from the Telegraph Street Calendar 1999

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Wizard was a Berkeley Tarot Card reader for several decades. He always set up his vending table on the corner of Telegraph & Channing. Then last year I heard he won over a million in the Lottery. Last I heard he bought some land up north, and nobody’s seen him since. He won’t be setting up a vending table on Telegraph and asking for donations any time soon, that’s for sure.

In all these years, Wizard is the only person I’ve ever known who actually won real money on the Lottery. But I guess it shows, it can happen.

The other thing about Wizard, he was an incredible drummer. Most of us at the Hate Man’s drum circle would just sort of bash away. But Wizard set up the buckets and metal objects to simulate a real drum set, with a snare drum, bass drum, cymbal, etc. And he would wail away on his make-shift kit like Ginger Baker or Buddy Rich.

I hope Wizard is enjoying his newfound wealth. Money won’t buy you happiness, of course. But then, neither will poverty, either.

(P.S. I just heard from an acquaintance of Wizard that he actually won an SSI settlement, which sounds more plausible.)

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Koko and Pork Chop were a cute young homeless couple who were on the Telegraph street scene for a couple of years back in the late 1990s. I always loved their names: Koko and Pork Chop.

Koko and Pork Chop stood out on the street scene because they always seemed happy and contented and relaxed — this just-happy-to-be-here demeanor. And they never caused and trouble or disturbances. That alone will make you stand out on the street scene.

The guy on the left is Shroom. He hung out at Hate Camp for many years, and then disappeared without a trace. Several of his friends have tried to track him down, to no avail. About 10 years ago he was squatting on a boat on a lake in Oakland with a bunch of other homeless people. But that’s the last we’ve heard from Shroom.

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I didn’t know these two. They were just a couple of youngsters who hung out on Telegraph for a couple of months in 1998, and then moved on. Like so many others who have come and gone. Faces in the crowd.

The guy was sort of the archetypal character that all the high school girls thought was cute and had crushes on. And he cut a dashing figure riding up and down the Ave on his skateboard with a distinctive bad boy swagger. . . All I knew about the girl was that she was really, really cute.

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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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A Tale of Two Hate Camps

 

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Hate Camp went through two distinct phases during the years I was hanging out with Hate Man. The Sprout Plaza years. And the People’s Park years. And i spent about 12 years hanging out at one, and 12 years at the other.

During the Sprout Plaza years, Hate Man mostly hung out on the Berkeley campus. So the scene was more intellectual. There were always some college students and academic types hanging out. As well as some normal mainstream types. Along with the band of street crazies. It was more of a light-hearted, playful, artistic scene.

Whereas the People’s Park years, it was mostly hardcore street people hanging out at Hate Camp. So it was a bit grimmer, as well as more wild, violent, and volatile.

During the Sproul years Hate Man often seemed like a public performer. And the campus was his stage to enact his unique street theater. He’d usually hit the scene every morning wearing brightly-colored clothes — like a stage costume — with his trademark skirt and bra, and adorned with lots of cheap jewelry and flowers in his hat. He was very flamboyant, and a commanding performer, enacting his strange (and loud) public dramas. And always one of the more popular figures on the campus.

But during the People’s Park years he toned his act way down. Went back to wearing pants instead of skirts, and mostly wore black or gray. He was much more in a purely survival mode then. Though he always had a unique style. It was like he went from the centerstage of the town of Berkeley, to a back alley on the fringes. (Things were a lot easier during the Sproul years. We spent most of our time playing. During the Park years Hate Man was much more preoccupied with all of his survival issues — dealing with the constant pressure from the cops, the wingnuts, the weather, his health, all of his stuff. It was like a constant chess match for Hate Man.  Always angling to stay one step ahead of these forces.)

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Another big difference. During the Sproul years he was usually surrounded by 8 or 10 hardcore devotees. “Oppies,” he called them. People who followed his philosophy of Oppositionality on a daily basis, and looked at Hate Man as sort of a guru or role model.

But during the People’s Park years, there was usually only one or two Oppies, at most, hanging out at any given time.

I was a bit more distant from Hate Camp during the Sproul years. Because Hate Man was primarily devoted towards his faithful Oppies — or proselytizing to get you to join the fold. And I was on my own personal spiritual/philosophical trip.

But I got much closer to Hate Man during the People’s Park years. Because I was homeless myself at that point and living along side him for a decade. And you know what they say; “You don’t really know a person until you live with them.”

But probably the biggest difference between the two periods:

During the Sproul Plaza years, Hate Man was usually surrounded by a solid group of people. Wiith a handful of street wingnuts circling around him from the outskirts.

Whereas during the People’s Park years. Hate Man was usually surrounded by a hardcore group of street wingnuts. With a hand full of solid people circling around him from the outskirts.

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