The Daily Idiot – Bugging Out

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The Daily Idiot – A Jarring Experience

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A Night On The Barbary Coast

(Photo: Jack Boulware)

Much has been written about the demise of “old” San Francisco. Hardly a day goes by that we hear another favorite eatery or watering hole has gone the way of the dodo. And, of course, the loss of the characters that make The City the unique is even more distressing.

But for one night, the survivors of the beat and hippie generations gathered at the Minna Gallery in the Mission to honor the memory of our fallen comrades. The official launch of Warren Hinckle’s tribute to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson was by all accounts, a rousing success.

“Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson” is a book written mainly by ghostwriters, in that many of the authors have relocated to The Great Beyond. Thompson, Warren Hinckle, Bill Cardoso, Dennis Eichhorn, John Clancy, Jim and Artie Mitchell were unable to attend, but their stories will live on in Hinckle’s massive tome.

And what stories they are! Before he passed away, Warren laid out an impressive two hundred-plus page history of his association with Hunter, from the time he paired him with artist Ralph Steadman for the Kentucky Derby story in Scanlan’s in 1970 to the weekly column for Will Hearst’s bold journalistic experiment with the San Francisco Examiner and the never-realized book recounting Thompson’s stint as the Night Manager of the notorious O’Farrell Theater.

Hinckle’s introduction is followed by reminiscences by friends and colleagues, including Jerry Brown, Tom Wolfe, and a tribute from the comic strip Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau.

Mary Ann at the Dragon’s Gate, near our hotel.

When we arrived at the gallery, the place was already packed. We ran into Last Gasp publisher Ron Turner and tried to talk him into giving us a pile of books, but he he was concerned that he wouldn’t have enough to satisfy the hoard. We were consoled with free drink tickets though, so I scored a shot of cognac and found my name tag at the row of signing tables.

I no sooner sat down when I was deluged with autograph seekers with stacks of books, so I settled in and did my duty. It soon became apparent that I was not going to escape from this corner for the duration, so I had Mary Ann take my copy to get signed by the other contributors.

Warren’s daughter and co-editor, Pia.

It was especially wonderful to meet Warren’s family, including his partner, Linda Corso, who remarked that this night was the first time she could think about Warren without being sad. Daughter Pia and I discussed the mistakes we needed to correct before the next printing. (Are you listening, Ron?)

Author Susie Bright and Pia looking for a proofreader. (Photo: Jack Boulware)

My only regret was being unable to talk to all the interesting folks who showed up for the premiere. I doubt we’ll ever have another opportunity to get them all in the same room again, at least until the next funeral. And you never know, it might be mine.

As for my contribution to the menagerie, I must admit I was shocked to see that Warren gave me an entire chapter toward the end of the Hunter saga. I wrote the stories back in 1992, when it was originally published in comic book form by Fantagraphics Books.

Thanks to Dan O’Neill, I became part of the outlaw comix gang The Wild Dogs during the 1984 Democratic Convention in San Francisco. Our scribbles were published in the San Francisco Chronicle throughout the convention. (One page is reproduced in the book.) Our art studio was located in the women’s dressing room at the O’Farrell.

Later, I became involved in the Mitchell Brothers’ ongoing war with Mayor Feinstein’s anti-pornography crusade, which was when I met Hunter. I really didn’t know him well, but we did have a few interesting encounters.

In 1990, I joined the Bros. expedition to Aspen after Hunter became ensnared in an assault/drugs/ weapons bust. O’Neill and I received a cash advance to chronicle the event, but after Jim shot and killed Artie, he had no desire to pursue the story. I went ahead and finished it myself.

Ron Turner contacted me seven or eight years ago and asked me to submit my stuff for the proposed book. I sent it in and forgot about it, and even when I heard it was finally going to print, I figured I’d fill a few pages at most.

I am humbled to be in the company of such a distinguished crew of malcontents and outlaws, and to have contributed to the history of the Barbary Coast and all that it entails. Thank you, Dan, Pia, Ron, and most of all, Warren.

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The Daily Idiot – Bearfaced Liar

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The Daily Idiot – Dress Reversal

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The Daily Idiot – Lolapalooza

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Let’s Party

From the front page of today’s Chronicle. Looks like we’re going to have a good turn out at the Minna Gallery Monday night.

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Investing In Forest Health: Venture Capital To The Rescue?

Don Russell, reporter, editor, and publisher (along with Jim Roos) of the Mountain Messenger, is one of the last journalists to embody the spirit of Mark Twain. His weekly reports on the shennanigans in rural Sierra County are always a joy to read.

This article in particular caught my interest. I always like to see innovation in dealing with the many problems associated with California’s endangered forests…

Right, wrong or indifferent, capitalism is the economic system widely embraced in these United States.

As a rule, the empathetic and those and those inclined to gung-ho cooperation are suspicious of capitalism, which by law, has a primary duty to the fiscal well-being of investors.

Those suspicious Christians always run into “the tragedy of the commons;” the evidence that when everybody owns something, nobody does, and no care is taken of whatever is owned.

The lack of public funding of our commonly-held national forests is a perfect example. Forest Service economists can and have proven that a dollar spent in fire prevention saves a fortune in firefighting and habitat loss.

Congress, especially a Republican Congress, may well know this, but a representative’s tenure is short. He or she won’t be around long enough for voters to appreciate a long-term wise investment.  So little money is spent on forest maintenance and the West burns.

On Tuesday, our Board of Somnambulance heard from Blue Forest Conservation (BFC), a group of engineers and investment managers who propose to harness the desires of capitalists to the needs of the forests.

BFC is of the opinion that forest health benefits can and must be quantified, i.e. measured. Those benefits can then be monetized i.e. given a dollar value. Beneficiaries, such as the Forest Service, utility companies, insurance companies, water dependent companies, lumber producers, states and local governments and neighboring landowners, can then pretty well know what kind of bang for a buck they receive.

Given the measured value, investors will be interested in providing that buck; the up-front capital for forest maintenance and restoration., expecting to be repaid from the beneficiaries who know the value of their benefit.

An example: poorly managed forests can suck up too much water, or create downstream sedimentation from uncontrolled erosion. A downstream utility, making its money from hydroelectric generation, would benefit from preventing either of these scenarios.

Knowing it will receive a certain increased number of acre feet of clear water, the utility knows what profit it will make, what costs it will save, and will pay for the increase.

Investors get their money back with interest, and get to brag at Sierra Club cocktail parties they’ve saved the planet.

That’s BFC’s plan. They’re currently working with do-gooder capital from the likes of the Rockefeller and Packard Foundations, to develop pilot projects to prove the plan works.

The Forest Service’s current North Yuba Project is one of those projects BFC would like to use as a pilot.  BFC’s proposed investment would be a rather modest $4.5 million.

According to BFC, there are thousands of shovel-ready NEPA projects, approved Forest Service projects waiting for funding. The BFC proposes to work only on such projects that have already received agency approval with all the necessary background work completed.

Given the gargantuan nature of the problem of forest health, the number of rural jobs suddenly available would be a stunning revitalization of local economies such as our own.

To the suspicious, isn’t this the O’Bamacare of forest management? An enshrined middleman is paid to stand between public money and private benefit, being guaranteed a piece of the action.

Aren’t investors benefiting from the public funds spent on the planning process?

How do you monetize ocean-going fish caught by foreigners?

Only faith can refute suspicion. Faith, and the unalterable fact of the status quo; nothing is happening and no benefit is occurring.

BFC sees a rosier picture than a socialist’s suspicion. Given eternity, eventually, they allow, a public agency will begin and likely complete the work. But, they point out, many beneficiaries would be willing to pay to accelerate such a project and reap the benefits sooner.

BFC contemplates a 4% return on capital from investors, returned in as little as three years. If this conservative return is, in fact, a safe investment, many institutions would be interested. Many corporations would prefer to remove themselves from the wild and irrational speculations of stock markets in favor of actual production.

Nationally, the benefits of maintained forests are obvious. In 1995, 16% of the Forest Service’s budget went to firefighting. Lately, it is over half the budget, and in eight years is expected to be two-thirds of the agency’s budget.

Given that, there will be no fire prevention nor forest maintenance without private capital.

Although there is now plenty of reason to doubt the “budget hawk’s” actual fiscal conservatism, perhaps only by monetizing health and well-being can we get their attention.

More information on the investment group is available at


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Taxing Taxes

Do you know any Democrats who think taxes are too high? Me neither.

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The Daily Idiot – Living In Glass Houses

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