While the average guy on the street may not think of Don and the Hammett Tour as part of the on-going cool San Francisco underground scene, Don does — the walk has its origins in Gary Warne’s 1970s groups Communiversity and especially The Suicide Club, and Don has kept his hand in on this and that underground deal ever since.
The glue binding together all the tentacle-like threads of the local counterculture — for thirteen years now — is Scott Beale with his Laughing Squid web scene. On Saturday May 31st Scott hosted a blow-out party in CellSpace for his thirteenth anniversary, and Don showed up to pay respect, chatting with John Law, Michael Mikel and others, spotting local legends such as Mr. Lucky, Michael Pepe and loser mayoral candidate Chicken John moving through the throngs, and being caught up in more conversation with Sebastian Hyde and Kevin Evans, designers of the infamous Doggie Diner website, as he exited the affair. Don’s involvement with the Doggie Diner heads goes back many years (he was the official custodian for the John Law Collection at one point), so he couldn’t resist one more chance to pose with the iconic images, Easter Island meets Tex Avery — photo on the left. Yep, the Dog Heads showed up for the party, too, and as far as Don is concerned, they ARE the culture, nothing counter about it.
No regular tours set for June, though people keep dropping in emails at the last minute asking if there will be a tour the next day — no, no tour the next day, doesn’t matter which day it is. Give Don a few weeks notice and maybe you’ll get something going.
The exception is a two-hour walk set for Saturday June 28th, starting at 1 p.m. from the s.e. corner of Third and Market, to celebrate the summer posters picturing characters from The Maltese Falcon painted by artist Owen Smith for the San Francisco Arts Commission. Toward the end of June you’ll see these posters popping up in MUNI kiosks along Market Street — just before they appear info will show up at this site.
For this tour Don will track down an example of each one of the six posters, plus duck off Market to nearby sites featured in Hammett’s most famous novel. Owen has done a nice job, going retro to recreate a period look, as in the example shown here.
For this month of the Donald Wandrei centennial celebration, how about a link to a podcast over in Britain where they did a reading of Wandrei’s famous first sale to Weird Tales, “The Red Brain,” including some follow-up chat? The idea expressed that Wandrei had affinities with the punk underground culture would no doubt dismay Wandrei, but nonetheless he did — like his pal H. P. Lovecraft, he was opening all kinds of doors for people to walk through, and the punks are some of their biggest fans.