(Chapter 12 of
Dreaming As One
Poetry, Poets and Community in Bolinas, California
1967 - 1980)
by Kevin Opstedal
The first issue of The Bolinas Daily Hearsay News hit the street on
Monday, February 30, 1974. A legal size, mimeographed, single sheet of
paper, printed on both sides and handlettered entirely by Michael Rafferty.
It sold for ten cents. This first issue was reminiscent of The Bolinas Hit in
the reporting of humorous, tall-tale-like tidbits of imaginary news. For
example these items in the section titled ''Of Local Interest'':
* Al Flat and Regina Cortez had a baby yesterday (their twelfth) & a
4 pound 6 ounce hermaphrodite! Needless to say, they hired neither
doctor nor midwife. Al bit the cord with his teeth.
In the ''Violence and Crime'' section were three items of note:
* A cow exploded in flames last night in Sherman Smith's pasture,
just as the full moon reached the zenith. Ikon saw this and swears
* Rocky got drunk and beat up Diana.
The first issue signs off with the note ''SEND US YOUR NEWS BY
6:00 P.M.—READ IT IN THE BOLINAS DAILY HEARSAY NEWS THE
NEXT MORNING''. After the inaugural week the Daily Hearsay, became
simply The Bolinas Hearsay News, and thereafter was published three
times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with three separate editorial
staffs for each day.
* Robert Creeley was 86'd from the bar again for dinging the pool
* A car ran over Tamarra's left big toe last night on Wharf Road.
Joanne Kyger and Lewis MacAdams helped edit the Monday paper.
MacAdams remembers, ''Joanne and I would come in at 10:30 on Monday
morning to the Hearsay office and start drinking brandy and coffee and
smoking joints and just waiting for people to come in and tell us what
happened over the weekend and we'd type it up. It was great! It was really
fun. We'd get completely smashed and make like $20 apiece for the
morning's work. We'd wrap up the paper by 1:00 and it'd be everywhere in
Bolinas by 5 or 6.''
The November 12, 1975, issue contained the following notice:
HEARSAY NEWS SOLICITS…
This was essentially the editorial policy (and is to this day)—the people of
Bolinas supplied the stories, either mailing them in or dropping them off at
the Hearsay office. The editorial staff assembled the stories, ads, etc.,
creating a paste-up master copy which was handed off to Mickey
Cummings at the Mesa Press to print. The only requirement of the items
submitted by the community was that they be signed—no anonymous
contributions were accepted.
WRITERS, POETS, CARTOONISTS,
ARTISTS, SOCIETY COLUMNISTS, AND
ANYONE ELSE CAPABLE OF LEGIBILITY.
WE NEED AND APPRECIATE YOU…!
AND, TO A FEW OF OUR DEADBEAT
CRITICS…IF YOU DON'T LIKE WHAT YOU
READ…WRITE SOMETHING ELSE
The Hearsay was a lively mix of community news, social commentary,
and gossip. The news supplied to the Hearsay from the community included
poems, recipes, gardening tips, tide charts, short stories, astrology, cartoons,
ads, reviews of books, movies, local performances and concerts, along with
reports from the BPUD meetings, school board meetings, Bolinas Planning
Commission, and Bolinas Property Owners Association.
There was a regular ''Alternative Sports'' column by Greg Fontan (under
the psuedonym of Herb Coon, a play on the name of the San Francisco
Chronicle columnist Herb Caen). Coon's column was as much an account
of the often hysterically funny escapades of Coon as it was a report of local
baseball, basketball, soccer, and football games. Another fairly regular
feature for a few years in the mid-seventies was a satirical advice column
called ''Ask Walter''. Walter was actually Lawrence Kearney, and
sometimes Annie Lamott. The ''Ask Walter'' column became a source of a
spirited, often mean-spirited, debate. There was a decidely snide and rude
tone to the column that many in the community took issue with.
The Hearsay was not simply a newspaper, it was in many ways a
community forum. Every community concern was addressed, and
inevitably debated, by the citizens in the pages of the Hearsay. In the first
few years of its existence there were ongoing debates on such issues as the
water moratorium, the Bolinas dogs, proposals to move the Bolinas School,
nudity on Bolinas beach, vagrants and crazies downtown and whether or not
Bill Niman should receive a permit to raise hogs on the mesa. There
seemed to be no way to have a consensus on ANYTHING in Bolinas, there
was a myriad of conflicting viewpoints, most of which found their way into
print via the Hearsay.
An ongoing biography of the town, a true and immediate diary of
community consciousness, The Hearsay News is still an important part of
life in Bolinas. As Saroyan said, ''The real story of Bolinas is contained in
the pages of The Hearsay News''.
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Table of Contents for Dreaming As One