the san francisco chronicle


Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain visits San Francisco. Here she arrives at San Francisco International Airport on March 2, 1983, and is greeted by Mayor Dianne Feinstein and first lady Nancy Reagan.                                                                    Photo: Jerry Telfer, San Francisco Chronicle 


San Francisco just got $100 million to fight homelessness

  • A fundraising organization is promising $100 million to fight San Francisco’s chronic homelessness problem, in what may be the largest pledge of its kind. Now the question is, how will that money be spent?
  • The $100 million pledge comes from the Tipping Point Community, a fundraising organization based in San Francisco, that works to fund effective anti-poverty groups and initiatives.
  • “We’re seeing too many people on the street suffering. … It’s time we draw a line in the sand,” Daniel Lurie, Tipping Point’s founder and CEO, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. Read more (5/9/17)

Natsuo Kirino | Out

Clarice Lispector | The Passion According to G.H.

Jacqueline Rose | Women in Dark Times

Hélène Cixous | The Laugh of the Medusa

June Jordan | Poem Because the 1996 U.S. Poet Laureate Told the San Francisco Chronicle There Are “Obvious” Poets—All of Them White—and Then There Are “Representative” Poets—None of Them White

Natalie Eilbert | Conversation with the Stone Wife


Shirley Jackson

(December 14, 1916 – August 8, 1965) was an American author. She was a popular writer in her time, and her work has received increased attention from literary critics in recent years. She influenced Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, and Richard Matheson. She is best known for the short story “The Lottery” (1948), which suggests a secret, sinister underside to bucolic small-town America, and for The Haunting of Hill House (1959), which is widely considered to be one of the best ghost stories ever written. In her critical biography of Jackson, Lenemaja Friedman notes that when “The Lottery” was published in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker, it received a response that “no New Yorker story had ever received”. Hundreds of letters poured in that were characterized by, as Jackson put it, “bewilderment, speculation, and old-fashioned abuse”. In the July 22, 1948, issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jackson offered the following in response to persistent queries from her readers about her intentions:

Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.

Jackson’s husband, the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman, wrote in his preface to a posthumous anthology of her work, “she consistently refused to be interviewed, to explain or promote her work in any fashion, or to take public stands and be the pundit of the Sunday supplements. She believed that her books would speak for her clearly enough over the years.” Hyman insisted the darker aspects of Jackson’s works were not, as some critics claimed, the product of “personal, even neurotic, fantasies”, but that Jackson intended, as “a sensitive and faithful anatomy of our times, fitting symbols for our distressing world of the concentration camp and the Bomb”, to mirror humanity’s Cold War-era fears. Jackson may even have taken pleasure in the subversive impact of her work, as revealed by Hyman’s statement that she “was always proud that the Union of South Africa banned ‘The Lottery’, and she felt that they at least understood the story”. Read More || Edit

Grateful Dead Are Very Much Alive

Ralph Gleason, San Francisco Chronicle, 19 March 1967

The Grateful Dead, a loud and very much alive Haight-Ashbury rock band, is hippier and happier than almost any group that comes to mind. 

They’re a fun-loving, far-out group with a hard-driving sound which is surfacing above the vast San Francisco rock underground. 

The Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Charlatans, Country Joe and the Fish, Big Brother and the Holding Co. and several other bizarre bands have plugged San Francisco into a rock movement which now exerts a nationwide influence on pop music.

One of the principal reasons is Jerry (Captain Trips) Garcia, 24, lead guitar for the Grateful Dead. 

Garcia, regarded by some critics as one of the best guitarists in the country, used to teach his instrument in a Palo Alto music store. He earned his nickname, friends say, because “everything is a trip with him." 

Other members of the Dead are just as alive. There’s Ron McKernan, 21, on organ, harp, and vocal, known as "Pig Pen,” for his outrageous appearance: long black hair, Indian head band, long black mustache, short, hefty build and a much-worn vest. He has been described as “one of the major bluesmen in America." 

Youngest is Bob Weir, 19, thin and soft-looking, with straight, very long hair. Weir brings his own sort of richness to the rhythm guitar. 

Phil Lesh, 27, is an astoundingly good bass player. He shares song-writing chores with Garcia. 

Bill Sommers, 21, played drums with about 12 rock bands before he "finally settled on the Grateful Dead.”

They pocket concert fees as readily as any group, but they play only on their own terms. They’d rather play for free in the park (and often do) than for money in an atmosphere which will “bring us down." 

"We’re not a recording band,” said Garcia. “We’re a dance band." 

Something about the Dead’s music can’t be captured on records. Partly it’s because they draw from so many different idioms: blues, country and western, popular music, even classical. "We’re musical thieves,” Garcia noted. “We steal from everywhere." 

It has more to do with the excitement of playing weekly concerts to very tuned-in dance-hall audiences. These aren’t ordinary concerts. They’re psychedelic and extreme examples of total environmental theater, which engages all the senses: thunderous rock music, light shows that burst and flow in choruses of color, hundreds of dancing young people, incense floating through your mind.

The Grateful Dead tried to capture this gut-level excitement in their album called The Grateful Dead. Though there’s a taste of the Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom, the full flavor doesn’t come through. 

However, the album can stand alone. It contains some fine work, such as the strangely haunting "Morning Dew,” the bluesy “Good Mornin’ Little Schoolgirl” and “Viola Lee Blues,” which is as close to jazz as Paul Butterfield’s “East-West.”

The songs convey a sense of integration in the playing that has come about through the Dead’s having played and lived together, sharing experiences and dreams, for nearly three years. With their two managers and an assortment of friends they have occupied a nine-room Victorian house one block from Haight Street. 

But they are leaving the Haight-Ashbury soon. They expect to live for awhile in the Southwest, perhaps Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

“We’ve been squeezed out by tourists and Tenderloin types,” said Rock Scully, one of their managers.

I’m 61 years old and I have been stopped by police 53 times in my life. I have never been arrested. My father was a deputy sheriff, I was a Boy Scout leader for 25 years, I graduated from college with honors, and I’ve won six national journalism awards. There’s nothing about me that a reasonable person would think is threatening, but it’s just a common experience to be stopped. It seems now there’s nothing you can do with your behavior that’s going to save you.

I had an experience last year at San Francisco International Airport: The officer came up and asked me what I was doing there. I told him I was waiting for a tour, and that I’m an official tourism spokesman for the city of San Francisco. He’s like, “Please, give me a break.”

So I pull out my iPad. But before I did that, I told him, “I am pulling out my iPad from my briefcase so I can show you.” Then I had to show a video of a story that Channel 5 had done about me giving a tour. So the two cops are there, and one says, “Son of a gun, he actually is who he says he is!” What I’m thinking about is all the guys that don’t have a video of themselves on their iPad explaining who they are.-John William Templeton

One of a series of letters sent by The Zodiac Killer mocking the police and media while trying to terrorize the citizens of San Francisco. This was sent to the San Francisco Chronicle on October 13th, 1969.

“This is the Zodiac speaking.
I am the murderer of the taxi driver over by Washington St + Maple St last night, to prove this here is a blood stained piece of his shirt. I am the same man who did in the people in the north bay area.
The S.F. Police could have caught me last night if they had searched the park properly instead of holding road races with their motorcicles seeing who could make the most noise. The car drivers should have just parked their cars and sat there quietly waiting for me to come out of cover.
School children make nice targets, I think I shall wipe out a school bus some morning. Just shoot out the front tire + then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.”


Two Halloween cards sent by the Zodiac Killer. These handmade cards were sent to Paul Avery, reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Between 1966 and 1974, the mystery killer provided more than 20 written communications to police officials and journalists, some including ciphers that have not been cracked to this day.

LAKE TAHOE MONSTER. (November 21, 1897)


[ The following is related by a well-known citizen of San Francisco, manager of the Park band. It is presented unaccompanied by affidavits, and may be accepted as truth by anybody who chooses to believe it. ]
The story of a sea serpent comes from so many sources and from people of undoubted veracity that it cannot be doubted that there is living in the Atlantic Ocean a serpent of monstrous size, but it remains for California, with its remains of gigantic monsters scattered all over its surface and where animal life attained its greatest perfection, to have a serpent now living within its borders much larger than any described by so many witnesses.

It was my fortune to be one of the earliest settlers on the west shore of Lake Tahoe—from June, 1861, to 1869. I located a meadow and was engaged in cutting wild hay for the market on the Placerville road. In the fall of 1865, in the month of November, I took my gun and, accompanied by a very intelligent setter dog, started out for a hunt for grouse along the shore and in the creek bottoms emptying into the lake. 

My attention was called to a very curious state of things happening around me. First, a flock of quail and other birds were flying out of the canyon, uttering cries of alarm; next came some rabbits and coyotes, and soon three deer came running at full speed; last of all, an old bear with one cub came along. All passed close to me, not seeming to notice me, and all staining at their best.

All this did not occupy much time, and I began to wonder what was up. My dog kept looking up the canyon and was evidently alarmed, and I began to feel shaky myself. All at once the dog set up a howl and started for home, eight miles away, running as fast as dog could run, and going under the cabin staid there two days and nights and no amount of coaxing could get him to come out sooner, and never after would the dog go in the direction of the lake. I began to feel that some unknown danger was near, and looking about me, saw a spruce tree with very thick limbs, standing near a very large pine. I climbed un about sixty feet from the ground and began to look up the canyon. I had not long to wait. I heard a sound as if the dead limbs of trees, willows and alders that grew in the canyon were being broken and crushed. Soon the monster appeared, slowly making his way in the direction where I was hidden in the tree-top, and passed on to the lake within fifty feet of where I was, and as his snakeship got by, and I partly recovered from my fright, I began to look him over and to estimate his immense size. After his head had passed my tree about seventy feet, he halted and reared his head in the air fifty feet or more, and I was thankful that the large pine hid me from his sight, and I dared to breathe again as he lowered his head to the ground and moved on.

His monstrous head was about fourteen feet wide, and the large eyes seemed to be about eight inches in diameter, and shining jet black, and seemed to project more than half this size from the head. The neck was about ten feet, and the body in the largest portion must have been twenty feet in diameter. I had a chance to measure his length, for when he halted his tail reached a fallen tree, and I afterward measured the distance from the tree, where I was hidden to the fallen tree and it measured 510 feet, and as seventy or eighty feet had passed me, it made his length about 600 feet. The skin was black on the back, turning to a reddish yellow on the side and belly, and must have been very hard and tough, as small trees two and three inches in diameter were crushed and broken without any effect on his tough hide. Even bowlders of 500 or 600 pounds weight lying on the surface of the ground were pushed out of the way. His snakeship slowly made his way to the lake, glided in and swam toward the foot.

This serpent has been seen by several of the old settlers at the lake since that time, but it was generally agreed that it would be useless to tell the world the story, knowing that it would not be believed. I will give a few names of the early settlers that have seen his snakeship at different times since I first saw him. Wiliam Pomin, now living in San Francisco; John McKinney, Ben McCoy and Bill McMasters, all at that time living on Sugar Pine Point; Homer Burton, now living in Sacramento; Captain Howland of the old steamer Governor Blaisdell, Tony and Burk, fishermen living near Friday’s station; Rube Saxton, now at the lake, and several others could be named.

I know many will doubt this story, but sooner or later his snakeship will be seen by so many that all doubt will be removed. I was induced to write this description by reading an article in THE CALL of last Sunday, stating that there was a living mastodon in Alaska and that it had been seen by the natives. Believing that I have seen a more wonderful sight and, as in time my story is sure to be verified, venture to give this to the public. I. C. COGGIN.

From— The San Francisco call. (San Francisco (Calif.]). 21 Nov. 1897. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.