Footnotes to History

It turns out that Joan Didion’s famous essay on 1967 in Haight-Ashbury, “Slouching toward Bethlehem,” includes Chester Anderson as a character, by name. He was putting out some kind of crusading news zine that was very influential, using a mimeo machine that he bought — with a royalty check from his novel The Butterfly Kid, as it happens.

For most of us, Chester Anderson is better known as Michael Kurland’s co-author in writing science fiction novels, such as Ten Years to Doomsday, and for The Butterfly Kid.

The essay is famous, and a lot of people end up having to read it. I never did. So this is like meeting somebody new, from somewhere far away, and finding out that they already know, and perhaps have a longtime feud, with an acquaintance of yours from a totally different town from both of you. Very odd.

OTOH, the essay makes you understand why all the crazy/criminal stuff in sf fandom in Berkeley could go under the radar — because much worse things were going on, every day, in Haight-Ashbury. (Plus the Zodiac killer and other California serial rapists and killers of the day.) People were not paying attention to the evil practically in plain sight.

It also explains a great deal about SJWs. There’s even a genuine evil mime. Seriously. And he was ostensibly one of the good guys who were taking care of people, when their real interest was in getting everyone to turn into a kill-crazy mob! What the heck!

Another associate of Chester Anderson mentioned in the essay, with a picture of the famous mimeograph. Kinda interesting memoirs, kinda horrifying. Apparently one of the first Renfairs in the US turned into some kind of hippie circus of drugs, which explains a lot about why Renfairs tend to be so oriented toward crowd control.

When you needed Chester Anderson to write crusading news articles instead of jokes and poetry, you were clearly living in one of the refuse pits of human history. It’s very sad reading.

I also now understand a lot that went unsaid about the Borderlands shared world anthologies… and holy crud, why??? Why would you want some kind of re-creation of an urban summer camp hellhole, except with magic and Minnesota weather????

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