I took off early Friday for Oakland, to do my talk on “The Whole Earth Catalog and Alternative Structures” at the Oakland Museum. I went across the Richmond bridge, but when I got out to Hwy. 80, it was so jammed up (late Friday afternoon) that I cut up Gilman and then went along San Pablo all the way into downtown Oakland.
Oakland is always a relief from the preciousness of Marin County and the slightly jaded beauty of San Francisco. The people, the buildings, the civic projects — they got soul. I love the visuals (I Am A Camera). The Hotsy-Totsy Club with its confederate-looking flag logo, the motorcycle shops, the ribs and burger joints, the 1000s of great buildings. Oakland is like the younger sister of a great beauty (SF), more fun to hang out with, more laid-back, not so pretentious.
About 40 people came to my talk, it was a great crowd. I showed them two collectors’ copies, the first Whole Earth Catalog (1968) and The Dome Cookbook ($1, 1967) by Steve Baer and described how the WEC became a pre-computer network for the counter-culture. Plus how it transformed the West Coast publishing scene; by the time it sold 100,000 copies, it got the attention of New York. Random House took over distribution and this led the way to a bunch of West Coast books getting major muscle NY distribution, including Domebook 2, The Tassajara Bread Book, Anybody’s Bike Book, The Massage Book, and in 1973, our book Shelter.
Here’s a photo shot by Zach Klein on his iPhone, of me with Isaiah and Sean, who are living on a piece of land in Aptos, and building tiny houses:
I so enjoyed your talk– the history that the Whole Earth Catalogue is the poster child for is so rich, and your storytelling was a great contribution to understanding that era and its current energies. Thanks again!