Selling Hippie Ragsheets In Chinatown
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In 1967, I lived in San Francisco. Luckily, I had a hot-wired 1950 Chevy which my buddy Nat and I had driven from PA. We lived way down at the end of Haight St., near Market,but with the wreck car, we could shoot around SF like Neal Cassady, though not as recklessly.
Anyhow, we figured out after talking to street people that there was big bucks (or, at least, enough to live comfortably) in selling hippie newspapers to tourists. Most of the idiot hippies would try selling them on Haight Street--how stupid could one be? Nobody, except a hippie or an undercover cop, would walk one block in that fenceless zoo.
Nah-- we had NYC street smarts. Every morning about 8, we would drive up Haight St., buy $5 worth of papers , I forget the names--The Berklely Barb and something else--go down to Chinatown or the Coit Tower or Fisherman's Wharf and start hawking these worthless (at the time; I wish I had every goddamned one now!) ragsheets.
I 'm an extrovert, and was one then: I used to cry, " Buy your hippie souvenir now! Drug-taking instructions included! Free sex directions inside! The worse tripe you'll ever be likely to encounter!"
I kept this non-stop spiel up for maybe on a good day, 2 hours. I would sell 50 newspapers and make $10, not counting tips. I was photographed with children-- I had hair to my shoulders and a black, bushy one-year beard--, signed autographs, rapped with strangers, was interviewed, in short-- had a fucking ball!
Then, I'd eat at a real Chinese restaurant (hint: if there are Caucasians in the restuartant, it's most likely a tourist trap. Go to one in a back alley where only Chinese eat. Of course, you better know a little Chinese to order and know how to use chopsticks--forks are not provided.)
Where was I? Ah!.....Did I tell you I had big fun! My landlord was gay and used to borrow my car. He'd give us an extra week on the monthly rent. What he did and where he went, I didn't want to know and still don't, but he brought it back in one piece.
That was part of my 1967 SF experience and I wouldn't trade it for one of Teepi's paintings, one drum circle at HBH's or one banning by Skip.
I was young, no strings attached and like Jack Kerouac once said, "I roamed the country as free as a bee."