(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.
* 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 it's true.

In the ''Violence and Crime'' section were three items of note:

* Rocky got drunk and beat up Diana.
* Robert Creeley was 86'd from the bar again for dinging the pool table light.
* A car ran over Tamarra's left big toe last night on Wharf Road.

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.

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:


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.

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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