Warren Hinckle

Hinckle CrumbWord has it that Warren Hinckle has gone to that Big Newsroom In The Sky. The only surprising thing is that he managed to live to the over-ripe age of 77, given his fondness for strong drink and his proclivity for irritating the rich and powerful.

I worked on several of his ill-fated crusades, including the campaign against Mayor Dianne Feinstein’s efforts to close the Mitchell Brother’s O’Farrell Theater in the eighties and the contest to win control of the San Francisco Examiner after the Hearst family put it on the market.

He had a natural talent for extorting money from newspapers and publishers and then failing to meet deadlines, but who’s perfect? He always made sure my check was in the mail.

Warren was part of the dying breed of San Franciscans who made The City unique, before it was bought out by the soulless tech giants that have leveled so many landmarks and driven out the minorities, poets and artists.

hinckle_warren_and_bentleyFrom ’64 to ’69, Hinckle was the executive editor of Ramparts and after that Scanlan’s Monthly. He headed Francis Ford Coppola’s City and wrote for both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Examiner. He ran for mayor and derided the effort to make Tony Bennett’s I Left My Heart In San Francisco the official city song, saying it was too wimpy. He wrote several books, including an autobiography titled When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade. At the time of his departure, he was still tinkering with his last tome, Who Killed Hunter Thompson, which is scheduled for publication next year.

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8 Responses to Warren Hinckle

  1. steve cottrell says:

    Bob:

    When I managed the M&M Tavern in San Francisco, Warren was a regular. As was Bentley, of course, who took a position on the floor next to Warren‘s barstool whenever the two of them dropped by (which meant every day Warren was in town).

    Jim Aliison, our cook, would prepare a bunless hamburger for Bentley (very rare) and serve it on a dinner plate as Warren drank his meal at the bar.

    During the time I managed the M&M, Hinckle was dating Susan Cheever, (they married in 1989), and that meant regular weekend flights back to NYC to see his sweetie. He would arrive at the M&M early in the day, leave his baggage (which I would secure in the office), then come by after work, have a couple pops, cash a check for $100 or so, pick up his luggage and take a cab to SFO.

    I knew the check would probably bounce, but that was OK, because Warren always took care of it. It might take a few days, but he always bought back his bum checks. Truth is, taking a check from Warren was more like giving him a short-term loan.

    A lot of real characters used to drink at the M&M Tavern during my time there, including your buddy Hunter S. Thompson, but no one spent more time inside that saloon than Warren Hinckle (and Bentley).

    Good memories –– thanks for the posting –– and you’re right: I don’t know how in the hell Hinckle managed to live 77 years.

    • Marianne Hinckle says:

      Thanks Steve for this charming memory of my brother Warren and Bentley at the M&M. When my mom was looking for him — and in the time when the Chron still had a switchboard — the operator (who knew my mom) would say — “Oh, I just saw them go out the door (meaning Warren and Bentley) and I will plug you through to the M&M!” When Warren went to New York for those Cheever weekends, he would call a cab at the M&M and have Bentley travel to us in West Portal by cab. There were only a few cabbies would pick up a fare for a dog, as they were unsure who had ‘the purse.’ The cab drivers would shake their head and say ” what a great town — dogs traveling alone by cab — and I get to collect my tab!”

      Marianne deVere Hinckle

      • steve cottrell says:

        Marianne:

        Your brother was a good guy –– and a damn fine writer –– and I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to know him and talk with him on a near-daily basis for over four years.

        Since leaving the M&M Tavern shortly after the 1989 earthquake, Warren’s name has come up in many conversations I’ve had with friends about those raucous days managing one of the last real newspaper bars. (Before it became The Chieftain, or whatever the hell it’s called these days).

        When most of the guys (and sometimes the gals) left the M&M and headed back to the Chron or Ex, they carried a couple of styrofoam cups with the lids marked “W/cream,” “W/sugar,” or some other notation to disguise the fact that what they were actually carrying were a couple extra drinks to consume at their desk.

        For sure, Warren toted his share of styrofoam cups from Howard Street to Mission. But I never heard anyone complain that he missed a deadline.

  2. San French says:

    I feel as though I’m eavesdropping on greatness here Bob. Steve’s reminiscence and Marianne’s reply to all things Warren are truly intimate peeks into his life…not to mention your own rompings with His Greatness. Hell, throw in HST, Herb Caen and the Mitchell Bro’s and we got a party goin on! Great fodder for the memory machine indeed. Thanks man.

  3. Don Baumgart says:

    My one contribution to Ramparts as a writer was a piece about a bookstore bust in Seattle – The Blue Meanies broke in and grabbed up a host of things already cleared by the Supremes, including the Kama Sutra Calendar.

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