At noon today the population of San Francisco will clear their collective throats and belt out The City’s “official” song, “I left my heart in San Francisco” to honor Tony Bennett, or at least some of them will. Others may be tempted to go with the bawdier “San Francisco” from the 1936 movie of the same name. The controversy between the two began some seventeen years ago when then SF supe Quentin Kopp suggested that “Heart” was too wimpy a tune to describe the Baghdad-by-the-bay. Joining the chorus was Chron columnist Warren Hinckle, who described the Bennett classic “as much San Francisco as bathtub chablis”.
After several months of typical SF political wrangling, “San Francisco” became the official song and “Heart” was consigned to the lesser stature of official city ballad.
It was during that heady time when I first met Hinckle at his apartment on Twin Peaks. I remember being hung over that morning, so my first question to him was, “If you’re the editor, where do you keep your aspirin?” Over the years I have done artwork for Warren’s various vendettas, most notably when he managed to convince the Fang family to buy the Examiner and put him in charge. The arrangement didn’t last long, but I managed to do some interesting work until the money ran out.
I still find myself tied to Hinckle’s erratic career. About four years ago he asked me to send him a story I had done about the Mitchell Brothers and Hunter S. Thompson. The Mitchells were the proprietors of the notorious porn palace, the O’Farrell Theatre at the corner of O’Farrell and Polk, and Thompson’s exploits are legendary to anyone familiar with 60’s culture. My stories centered on our adventures during the 1984 Democratic convention and battles with Mayor Dianne Feinstein. The Mitchells and Hunter have since gone on to whatever reward or punishment awaits us all in the Great Beyond, and Warren was doing a book about the Prince of Gonzo Journalism aptly titled Who Killed Hunter Thompson? I gladly contributed my piece and sat back and waited for the book to arrive on my doorstep.
As I said, that was four years ago. This week, I was surfing around the web when I came upon an ad in Amazon for the book. Additional searching gave the release date as “February, 2012”. I immediately sent an email to Ron Turner, the publisher at Last Gasp, asking for a firm date so I could attend the wine-and-cheese ritual that accompanies these milestones. Later that day, I got a reply.
“No, the book is not coming out this month. Hinckle has been working on the last two sentences for a few years now.”
Ah well, I can only hope to see it before I go to join Hunter and company in that Great Bar in the Sky, or maybe the basement.