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San Francisco Fifty Years Ago

(Kenneth Rexroth’s complete columns from the San Francisco Examiner)

 

 

March 1965

The Folly of Escalation in Asia
The Proposed New Culture Center
A Sense of Crisis Abroad
The Cold War in the South
Voluntary Provocateurs
San Francisco’s Cultural Divide
Gentle Thursday
Farewell to the Actor’s Workshop
Cleaning Up North Beach

 

 


 

The Folly of Escalation in Asia


Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. In Catholic churches the priest marks the forehead of each person kneeling at the altar rail with ashes in the sign of the cross, while he says, “Remember, oh man, thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” The ashes are made by burning the palms from the previous Palm Sunday, that brief moment of triumph in the darkness of Passiontide.

How fitting it would be if every American could be so marked today with the ashes from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The American conscience is still haunted by those events. The unresolved guilt is an important factor in the so evident moral decay and social disintegration that besets the country and which was the subject of a widely quoted editorial in The Examiner recently.

For near a billion colored people in the world, America is the country that dropped the Bomb on two cities full of colored people. All American efforts at nuclear disarmament cannot erase that fiery scar in the memories of those who are not white.

Today the Asia we conquered by those two acts is essentially lost to us. East of India it is Communist or Communist dominated from the Arctic Ocean to the straits north of Australia. The American presence on the mainland is evident only in two bits of land, South Korea and South Vietnam, where we have been unable to establish a stable government.

What does the American government hope to gain from their present step onto the escalator? If the present actions are really gestures designed to ensure “negotiations from strength” they are certainly arguable, and given certain assumptions, justifiable. If, on the other hand, nobody has a clear and present notion of the end of escalation, of what floor we are prepared to get off at, the prospect is so appalling it is hardly imaginable — and everybody is being encouraged not to imagine it.

If the escalator continues to climb, how are we going to conquer and then hold all of China? If we hydrogenated every Chinese city, we’d still be a long way from controlling the remaining population.

Is the rest of the world, including our Western European allies, likely to permit us? Prime Minister Wilson, General de Gaulle, U Thant, the king of Cambodia, all are bringing various pressures to bear for negotiations.

If nobody agrees with us at this point, who will when the bombs go off? Mao and Chou. They, and they alone, consider human life infinitely expendable. Only they of the leaders of the world hope for “the final struggle” — the race war. Only the Chinese have enough numbers to survive it. They’ll be very few, the survivors, but most of them will be Chinese, say Mao and Chou.

[March 3, 1965]

 


 

The Proposed New Culture Center


What I like about people is they always do just what I tell them to: I say we should do Lulu and Pelléas and Mélisande at the Opera, and lo, Kurt Adler says he’s going to do both in one season.

Then what happens but that Jack Shelley announces a big culture center right where it should be, in the Civic Center.

My intellectual friends have already objected to the presumed choice of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill as architects. They’d like to see Mies van der Rohe or I.M. Pei or Louis Kahn. So would I, but even more, I’m glad that one of our top locals, the Wurster firm, worked with SOM in the preliminary planning.

I’m funny that way — I think we should, like spiders, spin our beauty from within ourselves wherever we can.

On the other hand, we could be adventurous and stretch a hand across the sea to Tengo or some of his more radical Japanese followers. Nobody can organize the outside on the inside like the Japanese. We’d have a paradisiacal “park of culture and rest” for sure.

But there’s one thing to say for SOM. They are customers’ architects, not architects’ architects. It all depends on which battery of their vast enterprise gets the job, but usually they have imaginative enough artist architects, and superlative engineers and technical staff. In fact, one of their men with considerable local experience is their most adventurous general staff member. It is more important than anything else that, in that case, the customers get what they want. What this means is that the customers have got to get together and make their wants known.

Once again I want to stress the carefully concealed fact that the spectacular Lincoln Center satisfies nobody in show business or any of the performing arts. A complex of theaters, concert halls, rehearsal stages, workshops, museums should be conceived of by the architect from the very beginning as a shelter over a highly specialized complex of human activities. These are the bones and muscles over which the architecture is the skin.

That’s the trouble with architects’ architects. It’s lovely to resurrect Albi Cathedral on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Louis Kahn’s medical center is one of the most stunning structures ever built by man. But, alas, although the monkeys and guinea pigs are exhaustively ventilated, there’s no place for the filing cabinets, so they had to stick them in the hallways where they obstruct traffic.

A little more care in traffic planning, a little more consultation with the people who would be using the building, and Kahn would have built the greatest piece of architecture of the mid century.

Once I did a TV program with the Chancellor of the Archdiocese and a romantic architect who, as far as I know, had no actual religious experience of any sort. It was impossible to get him to understand that the new cathedral was, architecturally speaking, first and foremost a building for certain kinds of activity, a very special traffic problem. It had to house and display to best advantage the rites and ceremonies and processions peculiar to a Roman Catholic cathedral, and it had to take account of the impending changes in those activities in this period of liturgical reform. Further, it had to involve the congregation directly and powerfully in those  activities — it could not be just a theater or lecture hall.

Said he, “To me a cathedral is a symbol of man’s aspiration to the unknown.” I had to explain politely that the object of the Monsignor’s aspirations was not all that unknown — not in his opinion.

So with our projected culture complex. It is of the first importance that SOM’s men get together with the local people in all the performing arts, before even the preliminary sketches are made, and stay with them until the soap and towels are in the washrooms and the doors are opening. This does not mean just doing what they are told. Musicians, directors, ballet masters are not engineers. They have to be consulted in great detail in show business terms, their wants thoroughly understood and translated into architectural terms and then explained back to them for correction.

If we don’t proceed in this fashion, we’ll come to rue the day we ever proposed emitting (or is it uttering, like counterfeit money?) $29 million worth of bonds.

[March 7, 1965]

 


 

A Sense of Crisis Abroad


As the journals of opinion come in from foreign countries it is possible to measure the acute sense of crisis that has swept over the world since the first American raids on North Vietnam. The United States, Russia and China, the largest nations, are extraordinarily insulated from outside opinion, they by force, we presumably by choice.

Except for the liberal weeklies, most of the American press seems to have turned the war over to the sports desk. Comment resembles nothing so much as the speculation on the eve of a heavyweight championship bout. Nobody dares suggest that hydrogen bombs are not boxing gloves. But the rest of the world, from right to left, is badly scared and every variety of opinion is mobilizing to call off the match.

Sen. Wayne Morse has made the unqualified accusation that the Johnson Administration is deliberately planning to provoke the Chinese into intervention, whereupon the American Air Force will destroy China’s nuclear facilities and threaten her cities.

This is a worse than rash charge if Morse cannot sustain it with evidence. If he has this evidence he should not make inflammatory speeches on college campuses, devoid of specific details. He should present his case to the world from the floor of the Senate, with systematic substantiation of his charges. At present he is believed by most of the rest of the world and laughed at by most Americans.

The increased intervention in Vietnam is only one factor in the worldwide sense of crisis. First, China has announced another nuclear explosion for the middle of this month. It may well occur before this column is in print.

Second, the Asiatic Cordon Sanitaire put together by Foster Dulles has now not just collapsed, but vanished from the face of the earth. In its place, from Syria to Indonesia, they have constructed their Sanitary Cordon. We are left with Persia, Thailand, the Philippines, Formosa, perhaps India, and two imaginary nations, South Vietnam and South Korea.

Third, the United Nations is today in worse shape than the League of Nations was after Manchuria and Ethiopia. It was established, to be honest about it, not as a Parliament of man but as a public arena in which the two contending power blocs, led by Russia and the U.S.A., could grind out their high tensions.

This is no longer the alignment of forces in the world. The prime contenders today are the West, led by the U.S.A., and Asia and Africa, led by China, weak but intransigent, with Russia in the position of America on the eve of World War I.

This is the shape-up. In America, the Right says, “Bomb!” The liberals say, “Negotiate!” The Left says, “Get Out!” In Europe, with almost no exceptions, all three say, “Negotiate!” Whatever is going to happen, it is not going to be a Golden Gloves Tournament.

[March 10, 1965]

 


 

The Cold War in the South


So many things happening it’s hard to keep track. First, we have been in a cold war for a hundred years. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, but the South has steadily refused to accept the decision. Since the sabotage and failure of Reconstruction in the eighties of the last century, southern legislators have fought every move to make this country part of the civilized world.

Sixty years after Bismarck started Germany on the road to efficient and controlled capitalism, the South was still holding this nation in subjection to the jungle economics of 1830. After the Boer War, Negroes of South Africa enjoyed more liberties than the Negroes of Selma do in actual fact today.

If the President is looking for a cold war that needs heating up, here’s his chance. No more tit-for-tatism. Let’s bring the conflict home to the capitals of the seceding states. By signing three or four pieces of paper, President Johnson could bring the economic life of the de facto revived Confederacy grinding to a halt.

Here is one cold war where America is not only losing face, but, in geopolitical terms, suffering catastrophic defeats. Southern sheriffs have managed several times to inflict more damaging losses on the United States as a world power than if we had been chased out of both Vietnam and Cuba on the same afternoon.

President Johnson, there is an escalator waiting for you. Would you be so kind as to step on it?

One gratifying event of this week was the massive turnout of clergy. The vestry of one church last year had the effrontery to censure the bishop for not censuring enough the priests who took part in civil rights actions. Thank God, last Sunday Bishop Pike, celebrating Mass at Louisiana State University, walked directly from the altar rail to a plane for Selma, saying that he belonged where the Blood of Christ was being spilled and the Body of Christ was being beaten.

We need wholesale invasion of the civil rights battlefield by every professed follower of the Man who was helped to bear His cross by the Negro, St. Simon of Cyrene.

The majority of Christians, like the majority of Americans, seem to be blissfully unaware that the corporate bodies to which they belong, both the Christian church and the United States, are on trial before the eyes of the world. If the jury of two billion were to vote at this moment, the verdict would not be “Not Guilty.”

* * *

Now to local matters of less tragic nature. I have gone over the comprehensive outline of what the architects propose to give us at the Civic Center for $29 million. It seems to meet most needs, except for a civic theater. I doubt that the South of Market Redevelopment Area is the place for the theater. It should be in the center of entertainment traffic and at the same time upgrade its neighborhood.

I vote for North Beach, preferably Portsmouth Square. But we can’t move the Opera House, even though evening traffic in the Civic Center in nonexistent. If we reclaim the Veterans’ Auditorium, add a two-thousand-seat theater, repair the Opera House, fix up the Museum rotunda, maybe the Civic Center will end up being as busy as Place Concorde.

I’d like to suggest a few details. One is an underpass between the Opera House and the Veterans’ Building. Another is something that may be due to the succinct language of the report. We must avoid over-acousticizing these auditoriums. The general tendency nowadays is to make the acoustic chamber as soft as possible. This produces an unnatural, lonely, synthetic sound to which all performers object strongly. Echoing surfaces of the Opera House should be deadened, but the resonance of the chamber should be tuned like the box of a fiddle. Resonance is of the essence of the thrill of live music, and most especially of opera.

Hot as I am for this addition to the cultural facilities of the Civic Center, I agree with our recent editorial that it should be part of an overall plan for the badly needed development of The City. Further, matters are not helped by Jack Shelley’s crack about Los Angeles returning to the status of a Mexican village. It’s okay for columnists to talk that way, but a Mayor is supposed to be a gentleman, and not insult all the inhabitants of Los Angeles and of Mexican villages in one breath. Twenty-nine million dollars’ worth of building is not a political stunt.

[March 14, 1965]

 


 

Voluntary Provocateurs


When I was a boy growing up in the labor movement we gave short shrift to wild-looking characters who appeared out of nowhere and talked about bombs, arson, wholesale sabotage and pistols on the picket line. We assumed they were hired agents provocateurs and stool pigeons, and we were usually right. Labor legislation in the succeeding years has made such capers unprofitable.

Nobody hires people like that anymore, the penalties and backlash on exposure are too severe — at least we assume those days are over. That hasn’t had much influence on the prevalence of such types. They keep right on coming, for free.

How can the civil rights movement protect itself against the advocates of armed violence? When a Negro writer says on the air that Harlem kids who drop a burning garbage can of gasoline off a roof onto the head of a cop are making a more effective protest demonstration than Martin Luther King, it is hard to believe that he isn’t being subsidized by the White Citizens’ Councils. When a confused “outsider” can wander onto the Berkeley campus bearing a placard with a dirty word and bring the whole structure so laboriously being rebuilt crashing down about everybody’s ears, it is hard to believe that somebody did not plan it that way.

The “debbil-debbil” theory of history may in fact be right, but in any given case we have to accepts facts on their face value. It’s the lunatic fringe who always act on the assumption that men are controlled by short-wave radio from hidden power centers. It’s just not an effective hypothesis for creative social action.

What is happening today is an enormous extension of libertarian ideas. Great masses of people, who were only recently political as well as literal illiterates, are now being mobilized to act according to principles which were once the privilege of only the most privileged classes. We are engaged in democratizing an ethic which was once the secret code of the upper one percent of society. Built into that ethic as an essential premise is the right to any sort of advocacy of anything whatever short of “clear and present danger,” the most manifest and immediate social harmfulness.

We are only now, in our generation, trying to put together such an ethic for all men — no wonder it leaks around the edges. I am all for militancy in this effort. But how do you prevent the nuts from destroying what the militants so carefully build? You do it of course by a slowly learned and finally ingrained habit of total commitment — which means total responsibility.

Here the truly militant is simply the most responsible. That equation is a hard one for everybody to learn right off. It takes time and work.

[March 17, 1965]

 


 

San Francisco’s Cultural Divide


Sometimes I wonder. Does the political and geographic body we call the United States of America house two completely antagonistic civilizations?

Canada isn’t the United States, but the Canadian Ballet is a perfect representative of American middle-brow culture. Watching it last week was like reading a back number of the Reader’s Digest while idling away a summer afternoon in a hammock on the screened porch of an old-time family resort hotel — only more so. Like most middle-brow art, when they tried for profundity, as in the first number, the company managed only a severe vacuity — “pinnacled dim in the intense inane,” as Shelley (the poet, not the mayor) says. When they turned away from middle-brow pretensions and were frankly common, as in the cancan at the end, they reached genuine heights of entertainment, not as good as the dances in West Side Story, but good enough.

It is a pity the house was over half empty. They are a young company, they work hard, they have two good ballerinas, no boys who are even passable, and one little bitty girl coming up in the chorus who is going to be a great dancer. They deserve a better turnout from San Francisco dance fans.

To go from the Canadian Ballet to Ann Halprin’s show at the Playhouse in one week is like going from the Roman Empire to Han China or from modern Chicago to Egypt of the Pyramid Age, only not just more so, but much, much, much more so. Are these two performances both called dance, or even theater, on the same continent in the same century, by the same race? Are there individuals who enjoy both? Well, I do, for one.

I not only find Ann’s troupe always exciting and amusing, I think they are probably the best of their kind anywhere. When they finish their run at the Playhouse, they’ll be off on another European tour, and once again, I’m sure, to rave notices, enthusiastic audiences and tempestuous disputes. It is gratifying to see that at last they are getting some recognition in their home town.

Not everybody is. I have a letter from Evan Connell with the news that the magazine Contact is about to lose the support of its angel. He is not a local man. If they can’t get advertising or local support, they will have to fold up. This is the first local literary magazine to reach a large national audience in many a long year. Little magazine have been published here which have made history with a small, international avant-garde audience, but that is a different thing.

Contact is an upper-middle-brow magazine with a large range of appeal to ordinarily civilized people. It has a respectable circulation and its readers constitute a clearly defined and profitable market. Why can’t it get local advertising? The rates are so low that it would pay dozens of local merchandizers to take space just for the prestige, yet they’d be buying more than prestige, they’d be reaching the same readers as they do in very expensive sheets. Yet nobody buys. Why not?

One half of our so-called elite doesn’t know the other half exists, that’s why. I have an insufferably patronizing letter from one of San Francisco’s leading art patrons taking me to task for daring to say that there were no important collections of modern painting in San Francisco. The gist of the letter is that I know nothing about it because she has never met me socially at the homes of the people who consider themselves collectors of modern paintings.

Maybe not, but Arthur Jerome Eddy and John Quinn were amongst my father’s best friends, and Walter Conrad Arensberg was one of mine. I’ve even met Chester Dale and Duncan Phillips socially (but not hereabouts). Yes, I know what I’m talking about.

In the same mail came a postcard from one of the Bay Area’s most respected painters. “Dear Kenneth, Does a market for art exist in San Francisco? One artist’s experience: Many group shows and annuals, four one-man shows, total sales: one $250 painting.”

I’m withholding his name on my initiative, but it wouldn’t make any difference, my patroness would never have heard of him. This is what is really wrong with this San Francisco culture everybody is so worried about. This is the culture crisis. Until the creators in the arts and the consumers of the arts, especially the so-called patrons, the people who control that consumption, get together, there’s going to be nothing but crisis.

[March 21, 1965]

 


 

Gentle Thursday


Thursday is the feast of the Annunciation, “Lady Day,” the day the Church commemorates the appearance of the angel Gabriel to Mary and her conception of Jesus. Traditionally it has always been a day of quiet joy breaking into the increasing sorrow of Lent.

In the lesson at Mass occur the words, “Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but you will weary my God also?” And in the Gospel Mary says, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according unto thy word.” So the joy of the festival is the special happiness found only in quiet and humility.

We live in a time when the Christian virtues are considered shocking social vices. Poverty, chastity, obedience, humility, even simple plain quietness and gentleness — there’s no profit in acting that way.

Yet there is nothing really Christian about such virtues and nothing peculiarly contemporary about society’s denial of them. They were luxuriant and truculent and lewd and noisy in Babylon and Rome, and they got rich and kept busy with such behavior in their day. At the same time there were men and women who lived lives of quiet gentleness under all the turmoil. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.

So in our own day, far more people than you might think live withdrawn from our vaunted Way of Life. Not only that, but many are coming to reject its values and goals by quiet but positive action.

On my desk I have a leaflet given me by the poet Philip Whalen. No organization put it out, just he and his friend, another poet, John Armstrong. They thought it would be a good idea. There’s nothing to join; just join in, and do what it says.

If it caught on and swept the world, it would, maybe, change history. If only a tiny handful of people joined in, it would, maybe, change them. What is it? What do they ask you to do? Here it is:

Nobody listening to you? Stop yakking. If we STOP, everyone will know: we want peace and quiet and liberty for all. Celebrate GENTLE THURSDAY, March 25, 1965. Don’t leave home except to attend church. Don’t go to work — don’t open your store, your office; stay home from school. Don’t buy or sell anything. Phone only in case of emergency. Don’t do ANYTHING until Friday, March 26. Spend the day calmly. Be gentle. Be kind. Pass this message on to your friends. Mail it to President Johnson, to Congressmen and friends.

Amen, say I. We need just such a Sabbath, and not one, but many of them. The Jews have kept their Sabbaths for at least 2500 years. The call the Sabbath The Queen, the Bride of the Most High. . . . in Mary’s very words, the Handmaid of the Lord.

They have fed on the milk of her peace for all these centuries and it has made them too strong for any terror ever to prevail against them for long.

[March 24, 1965]

 


 

Farewell to the Actor’s Workshop


Newspaper critics don’t go to things any more than they have to to earn their pay unless they are very exceptional indeed. But the Rexroth family all went back to see Ann Halprin at the Playhouse.

Gee, this girl is sure funny. I’ve known her for years and always thought of her as on the solemn side. Solemn it is, but like Buster Keaton. She’s decided to reveal a talent as a great clown, a sort of Zazu Pitts stirred in with Fanny Brice of the Follies days and served by Toulouse-Lautrec. And she can fry bacon like Charlie Chaplin could eat shoe laces.

There is really nothing very modernistic about her two-act Apartment Six and certainly nothing unconventional. In fact, that’s what it is — conventional in the great tradition of pre-stripper burlesque and the silent movie comedies.

What is significant is that we are losing this sense of comedy to the all-devouring boob tube which burns up all good ideas in the literal flicker of an eye. Simple old burlesque routines like all the tohu-bohu Ann and her boys go through with newspapers, or with a couple of glasses of water they pour back and forth — stunts I’ve seen dozens of times in Chicago’s bygone Star and Garter or Haymarket Theater — would be rejected out of hand by the Madison Avenue and Beverly Hills smart alecks who write gags for “da medias.” Monkey business has deserted the people and taken refuge on the highbrow stage.

From Annie’s show to the farewell night of the Actor’s Workshop at the Encore. It was sad seeing old friends for what may be the last time, even if they are off to fame and fortune. They certainly turned in a lot of fine performances. Apparently casting up, they decided not to play themselves.

The first play was a lot of sentimental tosh, but Priscilla Pointer managed to be powerfully grubby, hot, and desolated — horny, as the FSM would put it. Elizabeth Huddle in the fine Pinter comedy wasn’t grubby or desolated, but she was sure all the rest of it and this is the girl usually typecast as the innocent milkmaid. Alan Mandel proved that one thing wrong with the Workshop has always been that they gave him too little time on the stage and too much in the management office. He was chillingly like people I know, like too many people I know.

Farewell, dear people, and may you rise to untold heights of fame. You leave San Francisco as the best professional repertory company west of the Rhine and the North Sea. Let’s hope they let you keep it that way in New York. My life, and thousands of other San Franciscans’ has been richer for your presence amongst us. God bless you. Good luck.

As of now the Workshop’s San Francisco plans are:

The Children’s Theater will continue. The high school program will continue. A workshop in the literal sense will go on at the rehearsal stage, shop and storehouse. They plan to do scenes from the classic and avant-garde theater and as many new scripts as they can. They hope to put some of these on for invited audiences.

There will be a new, full-dress production in September. This can serve as a sample of possibilities both to the general audience and to the subscribers who have not called for their subscription balances, and to the executive board. If it goes over, the hope is that a full season can then be planned.

The New York opening will be in October. Although they have a perfected repertory sufficient to last them out at least two years, and of productions the like of which New York has never seen, they are talking now about doing something new, but nothing has been decided. It is still possible that the Actor’s Workshop may end up a transcontinental bilocal company with shows moving back and forth across the country. That would certainly be just jim dandy.

I worry about New York’s reception. Except for Gene Frankel, the Living Theater, now in exile in Rome, and some of the people who do “happenings,” the serious New York stage and the critics know nothing but watered-down offshoots of Stanislavsky’s Moscow Art Theater techniques, now 75 years old and considered reactionary by people like Strindberg even then.

Everybody comes out of the Guild, the Group, the League, the Union, the Playwrights’, and such like. (The only exception then was a little boy named Orson Welles and you know what they did to him.) In their day these were organized anti-modern attacks on the preceding generation’s theater of artistic, not political, revolt.

These cats all grew up together and today, although they are now in the biggest big time, they all hang together. They are sharpening their knives. Let’s hope Blau and Irving have the courage to stick their necks out and that they have very, very tough necks.

[March 28, 1965]

 


 

Cleaning Up North Beach


I think your uncle Kenneth was the first of San Francisco’s columnists to point with horror to what was happening to North Beach. I certainly am all for cleaning it up, but we’d better get clear in our minds what we are cleaning up and how and why.

I have no intrinsic objection to nudity or wiggly dancing, to female impersonators, beatniks, and certainly none to alcoholic beverages and general conviviality. Gypsy Rose Lee, Sally Rand and Lily St. Cyr are amongst the most civilized women I know.

I have numbered female impersonators amongst my friends since I first had to do with show business. Carole Normand, the Creole Fashion Plate, lived next door in Chicago and Julian Eltinge was a friend of the family. A large proportion of my friends are jazz musicians. Most of my very best friends look pretty beat to the floorwalkers in Roos-Atkins.

This is not what is wrong with North Beach. Father Byrne, in crusading to Clean Up the Beach, managed, as moral crusaders sometimes do, to go off in exactly the wrong direction.

What on earth is his objection to the Jazz Workshop? It is interracial. It is certainly one of the major cultural assets of The City. More vital contemporary music is played there in the course of a year than in the Opera House and the Masonic Auditorium combined. The place exists for no other purpose. Tourists are discouraged. Rowdies are ejected. I am sure the management would be delighted if they didn’t have to serve drinks at all but could make the place pay entirely on admissions.

Suppose the Chamber Music Society concerts in the Hall of Flowers suddenly acquires an audience that is half Negro and they start serving drinks to pay the musicians — will someone demand they be expelled from the Park?

Mike’s Pool Hall is part of the Bohemian Establishment of North Beach. Again, it is nowadays quite interracial. There is nothing wrong with it. Long hair, beards, sandals, tight jeans, are not mortal, nor even venial sins, though Father Byrne may think they are. Not one of the truly vicious joints in North Beach, obviously run by the same people who operate in Vegas, Calumet City and the French Quarter, was mentioned.

Is Father Byrne being duped? Who is going to clean who out of North Beach?

Anyway, Bohemia is moving away. Remember that nice folksy jazz room on Divisadero, the Stereo Club? For a while there was a gay bar there, but now it is reopening once more as a jazz room, run by people from SF State. They hope to make it a calm, cool, very un-evil place to drink beer and listen to good jazz. Opening night is tomorrow, Thursday, with Monty Waters’s band. The Both And Club, 350 Divisadero.

[March 31, 1965]

 

 


“San Francisco Fifty Years Ago” is an ongoing project of posting all of Kenneth Rexroth’s columns for the San Francisco Examiner (1960-1967). Each of the columns is being posted on the 50th anniversary of its original appearance. Copyright 1960-1967 Kenneth Rexroth. Reproduced here by permission of the Kenneth Rexroth Trust.


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