Tag Archives: Haight-Ashbury

A Roof Over Their Heads

While in San Francisco I walked around and found places where certain people lived and loved and fried their brains and most certainly held excellent music jams and parties.

A big shout-out to Google for the addresses.

Keep in mind, Victorian houses in San Francisco are all historic landmarks now, so it’s up to the present owners to keep them nice. When the folks I’m talking about lived in these places, I’m sure they weren’t quite as lovely. With different smells that lingered.

I think these homes rented for only a few hundred bucks a month back then, so a gig or two at the Fillmore took care of the rent nicely.

Let’s get started. Welcome to the Haight-Ashbury 1960s rock stars (and one criminal) house tour.

Below, although there’s some debate about this, this crappy looking apartment, at 1524A Haight, only a few steps from the corner of Haight-Ashbury, is apparently where Jimi Hendrix lived at one time. Whether it was before or after the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, I’ve no idea.

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Next (below), just a few houses up Ashbury from Haight at 638 Ashbury (the perfect location), is where Country Joe and the Fish lived and learned licks they’d use at their future Woodstock gig.

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Next (below), a couple of houses up from Country Joe’s pad, is where the Grateful Dead held court (710 Ashbury). This is a big deal for Deadheads!

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Next, directly across the street from the Dead’s place is where the San Francisco Hell’s Angels lived (719 Ashbury). Imagine the parties.

Biker clubhouses aren’t usually this cool, that’s for sure.

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Below, and obviously fixed up over the years, is where Janis Joplin lived, at 122 Lyon. Janis’ place wasn’t as close to Haight-Ashbury as the others, and it probably took her more than 15 minutes to walk.

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About a twenty minute walk away is this incredible place at 2400 Fulton, where Jefferson Airplane burned their incense and had Timothy Leary over for tea and crumpets. I don’t know if they had the run of the entire place, or maybe just a floor or two.

I’m pretty sure that most San Francisco rock stars weren’t filthy rich at that time, although this place looks like the Airplane might have been.

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And finally……in 1966 and ’67, a greasy ex-con found his way to the Haight and began to charm young and batshit crazy runaways, mostly female. Soon after, he and his handful of youngsters made their way to Los Angeles and created their evil carnage.

Yes, this place, at 616 Page, about a 25 minute walk from the corner of Haight-Ashbury, is where Charles Manson and his new friends lived. Nice place, but I’ll bet it wasn’t so great back then.

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Old Faithful

I’d like to give a quick shout-out to someone who’s been part of this blog since the beginning, but in the past few years has been rarely seen and is now mostly forgotten.

Gaston.

Gaston was made by a friend of my dad’s. I don’t know how many the man made, but he gave two to my dad, who promptly painted them in Habs uniforms, gave them faces, and handed one to me and one to my brother. I named mine Gaston because it thought it was a solid French-Canadian name.

I used Gaston often. I often took him on trips with me, and on these pages showed him outside of San Quentin Penitentiary, at the corner of Haight-Ashbury and at the site of the Woodstock Festival and various other places, all the while explaining that although he was a great Habs fan, he was also quite an asshole with a checkered past.

Gaston doesn’t make an appearance very much anymore. I think he wore out his welcome. But there’s a bunch of stories involving him over in the Categories section if you feel so inclined.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to recognize and say thank you to Gaston. He was a major player on this site for a long time and he deserves it.

Kerouac, Beliveau, And The GPS Lady

 

Young fellow in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, just trying to make an honest buck.

I realize now that the three best things I’ve bought in recent memory are a PVR, an electric blanket, and a GPS.

The PVR means we can pause or rewind live TV shows, record shows at the click of a button, and in general do amazing things with the TV that only God or someone of that ilk, like Jean Beliveau, could have invented.

The electric blanket allows me to wrap myself in it and feel a glow all over when the Habs are playing. And having the PVR means I can rewind that beautiful blast from the point in seconds flat.

The GPS is a wondrous device, with a woman with a British accent telling me to go left and right and turn here and there, and allowing us to drive around San Francisco today for hours on end and not get lost once. I love this lady. If I was single I’d want her to bear my children.

San Francisco is a wondrous city with a throbbing heartbeat, a city where every district seems to own a distinct and colourful culture. Coming in from Redding, the GPS lady took us across the Bay Bridge, directly to the Haight-Ashbury district where I bought a second-hand vest at a vintage clothing store, and where we stopped outside the Dead House at 710 Ashbury St, the house where the Grateful Dead lived, loved, laughed and got loaded. 

I wonder what it’s like for the people who live there now, with tourists taking pictures of their house on a regular basis. 

The Grateful Dead's house on Ashbury St during those wild and crazy times of so long ago. And as you can see, they must have been Habs fans.

On command, the GPS lady, who by now was named Kate after Kate Capshaw, directed us to North Beach and the City Lights bookstore, the area where Jack Kerouac and his beat buddies wrote and drank and smoked and argued.

There have been two writers in my life who have made huge impacts. Milt Dunnell of the Toronto Star and his original and unique style of sports writing, who showed me that one can be a little off-centre when writing about sports, that it’s not just stats and numbers that rule the sporting world; and Jack Kerouac

I’ve said often that Kerouac changed my life when I read “On the Road”.

When I was young, hitchiking around the country with nothing in my pockets, I’d sometimes think of Kerouac and how he had done the same thing, and how he’d taken his experiences and written about them, and I related more than I’d realized then. He taught me with his writings that it’s okay to break journalistic rules, it’s fine to sometimes to scribble rambling sentences if the need is felt, and it’s definitely okay to have itchy feet and appreciate the open road and not always follow what society dictates.

Kerouac is known as the father of the hippie movement, a title he disliked, but I understand why he was given it. He was a cool, gifted man, before cool was cool, who died far too young. He and his buddies like Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassidy listened to jazz, sat for marathon hours solving the world’s problems, and shunned society’s standard way of thinking. And as I said, they took to the road. He was a writer who influenced me greatly.

He and Milt Dunnell.

Luciena and I ended our day at Fisherman’s Wharf, listening to blues in an upstairs club, and as I write this, I say with bursting heart that San Francisco is a miraculous place.

Tomorrow (I think), the Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara. And naturally, any Habs stuff I can think of.

Gaston Was Won Over By A Bunch Of Street People

It all started when I took Gaston to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. I had been there as a teenager for a short while, when the streets were alive, and wanted to see it again. The Haight is where it all began, beginning in about 1966 and lasting several years until people like Charles Manson, hard-core bikers, and drugs like crystal meth ruined it. It was ground zero for the hippie movement. Bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin created their music in the neighbourhood. And 1967’s Summer of Love had its roots there.

Even today, some of the atmosphere exists. There are still head shops, psychedelic clothing, and young people roaming around with guitars and trying to re-create what they missed because they weren’t born 40 years ago.

Gaston, however, wasn’t impressed. He would shout out at long-haired guys, asking them if they were a boy or a girl. He’d tell them to get a job, and they smell, and all kinds of embarrassing things. But then, a transformation occurred. Gaston saw that everyone smiled at him, gave him bits of pizza, and embraced him, all of which the little bugger wasn’t expecting. Now, when you look at the photo of Gaston below, you’ll see how he’s a changed man.

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