• Little Saigon

    Little Saigon and Tendernob

    Little Saigon and the Tendernob are two Tenderloin neighborhoods that are home to large immigrant populations and some of the best food in the city. Join us as we take you on the only food tour of this district and explore the flavors of Asia, the Middle East, and beyond!
  • The Mission

    The Mission District

    San Francisco's 1st neighborhood, The Mission District is still the heart & soul of this vibrant city. This area is so rich in culture, that we have 4 Mission food tours & 2 neighborhood walks.
  • North Beach

    North Beach

    North Beach is that rare thing -- a neighborhood that manages to be a perennial hit with tourists, and also to remain beloved by San Franciscans. It's San Francisco's Little Italy and the home of the beatniks.
  • Scenic Running

    Scenic Running

    Just a short run from the urban landscape of San Francisco's busy city streets you will find numerous trails and parks offering phenomenal views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the City Skyline and other gems.
  • Chinatown

    Chinatown

    Established in the 1840s, San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Our food and walking tours are 2nd to none.
  • Parrots!

    Parrots!

    Wild Parrots in San Francisco? Yes there are officially at least two flocks of wild Parrots here. These Parrots have evolved into a brand new species of parrot indigenous to San Francisco.

History Blogs

San Francisco concerts that changed the nation.

 BY: COLLIN BRENNAN | 9.4.2015 |

Originally this article by Collin Brennan had 5 concerts listed, I have added a couple more.

San Francisco concerts have long reflected the music of the times, but the inverse is also true: time and time again, music has revolved around whatever’s going on in San Francisco. This was most apparent in the 1960s, when bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane turned the hippie counterculture into the city’s greatest export. Five decades later, we can look back and identify five concerts that changed American music forever—an inventory of five San Francisco nights that defined San Francisco nightlife.

 

The Beatles at Candlestick Park    
August 29, 1966
The San Francisco concert was their last
beatles

Nobody but the Beatles knew that this show at chilly Candlestick Park would be their last live concert performance ever. If it had been announced ahead of time, the Fab Four might have sold the place out. Instead, large swaths of seats were left unsold for the final date of their fourth and final North American tour. It was a strangely low-key farewell for the most popular rock band of all time, who occasionally paused their 11-song set to snap pictures with a camera they had brought on stage. It was the end of an era in many ways, and it paved the way for the decade’s latter half and the Summer of Love, which would take shape in San Francisco less than a year later.

 

The Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park
January 14, 1967
human

The Summer of Love actually started with this mid-winter event at Golden Gate Park, just a stone’s throw from the Haight-Ashbury district that would soon become synonymous with the counterculture. Inspired by sit-ins taking place at lunch counters, colleges, and universities across the country during the early 1960s, the Human Be-In was perhaps the first focused expression of the hippie movement. California had recently passed a law banning LSD, and everyone from poet Allen Ginsberg to psychologist Timothy Leary showed up to encourage a crowd of thousands to “turn on, tune in, drop out.” Of course, no celebration of hippiedom would be complete without bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, both of whom found their way onto the bill.

 

Aretha Franklin at Fillmore West
March 5–7, 1971
aretha

Though people tend to associate San Francisco with the hippie counterculture, the city has long been a haven for jazz and soul. From Jelly Roll Morton to John Coltrane, musicians would flock to play the clubs on Fillmore Street, and their hundreds of legendary concerts exist now only in memory. This is not the case with Aretha Franklin’s three-night set at Fillmore West, which eventually became one of the best live albums of its era. The Queen of Soul dove right in with her hit song “Respect,” but she filled out her set with such hippie standbys as the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” In doing so, she bridged the gap between the counterculture and modern American soul in a way that few singers had ever attempted.

 

The Band at Winterland Ballroom
November 25, 1976

Another San Francisco concert that’s been immortalized for new generations to enjoy, the Band’s farewell show at Winterland Ballroom is considered one of the greatest concerts, period. Martin Scorsese‘s documentary film The Last Waltz captured the Band in all their fading glory, but they weren’t the only ones to take the stage that night. Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Staples Singers, and Van Morrison were among the special guests on hand, making this arguably the most star-studded affair in San Francisco’s history.

 

The Sex Pistols at Winterland Ballroom
This San Francisco concert was their last
January 14, 1978

sexp
The Sex Pistols, one of the most influential rock bands ever, the biggest punk act to come out of England, played their biggest concert, and their last show at Winterland in SF. In just a few months Winterland would be closed and demolished, Sid Vicious would be dead in about a year, and by 1979 punk was exploding around the world, although many will say that punk died on this night in SF.
The two week tour in America, was plagued by poor planning and predictably violent reactions, the group’s bass player, Sid Vicious, paved the way toward a whole new level of decadence. During the band’s engagement in Memphis early in the tour, Vicious, now addicted to heroin, went in search of a connection and was later found in a local hospital with the words “Gimme a fix” carved into his chest with a razor. He engaged in numerous fights both on and off stage, sustaining numerous other injuries as the tour progressed.
The tour eventually culminated in the high profile gig in San Francisco, where concert promoter Bill Graham convinced McLaren that the band was popular enough to play Winterland, dwarfing any performance the band had previously attempted by far. This now legendary concert, the biggest of the group’s career, would also turn out to be the Sex Pistols‘ last. Headlining a triple bill that included local punk bands the Nuns (featuring a young Alejandro Escovedo) and the Avengers (featuring a young Penelope Houston), this night would prove to be an extraordinary theatrical event and the Sex Pistols’ final gig before a sold-out audience of 5000. Due to local demand, the Sex Pistols set was also simulcast on KSAN radio, where it would be heard live by thousands of additional listeners and would soon circulate far and wide, becoming the most ubiquitous bootleg recording of the group.
Evaluating this Sex Pistols’ performance in terms of music is a relatively pointless exercise, as the band had no desire to please the audience in terms of music, nor could they even play well in any traditional sense. The performance, devoid of pacing, range, tempo, or melody, is instead an onslaught of rage, rebellion, and release, which is relentlessly ragged throughout the set
At first it appeared the band would not do an encore,  but amidst roars for more, the Pistols return to the stage and launch into a cover of the Stooges‘ “No Fun.” This eventually culminates with Rotten hunched on the stage, screaming “No Fun!” over and over. The song comes to an abrupt halt and in his most insinuating manner, Rotten poses the question that has by now become infamous, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” before smirking a final “Goodnight” and the band leaving the debris-strewn stage… for good.
Whether you loved them or hated them , the Sex Pistols created one of the great paradigm shifts in modern music, forever changing the landscape of the music industry.

avengers band 001

 

Metallica at The Stone
March 5, 1983

Who knew that the future of heavy metal would be born on a spring night in San Francisco? Metallica had already made a name for themselves as thrashers whose live show took no prisoners, but this date at The Stone felt different. For starters, it was their first show with new bassist Cliff Burton, who would eventually go down as the greatest metal bassist of all time. It was a prelude of what was to come later that summer on Kill ‘Em All, one of the fastest and heaviest albums in history. And—like many of the best moments in American music history—it all started on a sweaty stage in San Francisco.

Rock Against Reagan San Francisco Concerts and Demonstrations
Democratic National Convention
July 1984

The 1984 National Democratic Convention in San Francisco saw some unusual characters outside the building where the members of the party met. Among the large crowd assembled for demonstrations and marches, a man dressed as “a lobster confessed to one of the local papers that his costume was impractical for a march. ‘It’s more for standing in place and doing a little break dancing. It’s hard to be a lobster these days in the city.’” This crustacean would be one of numerous people dressed up for an “All Species parade”. Others joined the all species costumes with outfits such as “a bunch of transvestites in nun costumes [who] performed an exorcism of [the evangelical Southern Baptist pastor and televangelist] Jerry Falwell.” Along with all of these people expressing their concerns towards the America around them; the streets around the convention center in San Francisco also included “a seven-hour punk rock concert, ‘Rock against Reagan,’ featuring such artists as The Dead Kennedys.

July-1984-stage-diver-at-rock-against-racism-concert-in-front-of-Democratic-Convention

Stage diver at RAR across from Moscone Center, in what was then a vacant lot. The buildings that encircled the lot all had military personel with machine guns watching us all the time

The first presidential term of Ronald Reagan was coming to an end and in hope to prevent another term, the Youth International Party, known as the Yippies, from New York City created the “Rock Against Reagan” (RAR) tour. The group toured all across the United States from 1983-1984, leading up to the presidential election. The shows featured some of the most popular punk bands of the era including: The Dead Kennedys from San Francisco, the young trio from San Pedro, California known as the Minutemen, the Crucifucks from Lansing, Michigan, the Dicks and Millions of Dead Cops from Austin, Texas, and Reagan Youth―whose name played off of Hitler’s Youth―from New York. The tour had more than just free shows to see some of the biggest acts in punk rock, however. RAR also registered voters, presented informative films on topics such as American imperialism, political speakers, and even comedy; with the later to come popular comedian Whoopi Goldberg performing during the tour’s 1983 show at Dolores Park in San Francisco.2 As one tour spokesman shared with a Florida newspaper, the shows were also to generate “proceeds from accompanying T-shirt and art sales . . . to be used for the cause.” The “cause” in question was simple: prevent another four years of the Reagan administration.

It may have been in San Francisco, at the Democratic National Convention in July of 1984, where the punk movement reached the apex of political engagement. As the convention met opposition from numerous left wing groups outside; inside according to the title of an editorial “wasn’t a circus, but was one great show.”  If inside the convention was not a “circus” surely the show outside was. Peaceful protests went on throughout the week of the convention, however, July 19th marked a police crackdown on the crowds that amassed on San Francisco’s streets.

The day started with a march, “held by a marijuana group and members of a coalition called the War Chest, which was protesting [military-industry] business dealings of top Democratic Party leaders.” As these peaceful protesters reached closer to the convention center, they were met by police and “booked for investigation of obstructing traffic.” These criminal charges, however, were claimed to be faulty with demonstrators pleading that, “they were forced to block the street when police herded them into groups.” Hearing the calls of injustice, a “second protest march was hastily arranged to demand release of the first demonstrators and was announced at [the] ‘Rock Against Reagan’ punk music concert outside the convention hall.” As the protesting march reached upwards to five-hundred people, the crowd began marching several blocks to the Hall of Justice where the protesters from the earlier march were being held. “Chanting ‘No KKK, No Fascist USA’”―the popular slogan for demonstrators the week of the convention―and being accompanied by a “papier-mache Trojan donkey colored green and brown like Army Fatigues.” The marchers were met by a force of one hundred police officers. “Within minutes, Police Capt. Richard Shippy declared over a bullhorn that the rally was an unlawful assembly and ordered [the protesters] . . . to disperse.” By the end of the second march 369 people total had been arrested. Billy Nessen, a twenty- seven-year-old who partook in the event, was quoted saying: “There was no order to disperse.” He added that the purpose was to protest the connection between several corporations and the De[m]ocratic Party, the war machine, and South Africa.”

Police-pressure-Salvador-demonstrators-at-Hilton Polbhem1$trojan-donkey Polbhem1$wartoys-1984-war-chest-tour Polbhem1$no-more-hiroshimas-1984-wct Polbhem1$eowf-banner Polbhem1$eowf-handbill  Cops-pepper-spraying-protestors-at-anti-Gulf-War-demo-1981-downtown-SF-by-Keith-HolmesMounted-police-against-Salvador-demo-w-anti-Kissinger-sign

The outcome of the protests in San Francisco triggered an alarm for the Republicans who held their convention in Dallas the following month. Dallas prepared for a large assembly of protesters by bringing in extra law enforcement and clearing out the city’s jails. The Dead Kennedys were coming to the town where John F. Kennedy himself was assassinated! Escorting the band would be the “Rock Against Reagan” show and hundreds if not thousands of protesting punks. In addition, there were also concerns over how the pro-Reagan supporters and anti-Reagan demonstrators would interact during the week of the convention.

Republican National Convention, Dallas
The outcome of the demonstrations outside the DNC in San Francisco resulted in a large amount of arrests, but punks had been noticed by the media. Police had harassed the protestors the whole week leading up to the convention but they did not divide their spirit. The rallying of punks to join with others towards a common cause stirred up the sense that something positive may in fact come from their effort. Demonstrating against the Democratic Party’s growing connections with the military industrial complex was one thing, but they were not the head of the beast. It was the Republicans―and more importantly to the cultural rebellion of punk, Ronald Reagan―that was the prized target. Yet although the punk community showed hype towards the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) in Dallas, obstacles of counter-protests would prevent the same commotion that RAR stirred in San Francisco.

Before MRR even published a full story on the outcome of the events at the DNC in San Francisco, their July 1984 issue was already informing punks of the upcoming RAR show and demonstrations the following month in Dallas.

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SAN FRANCISCO’S HIDDEN GEMS: PUBLIC TENNIS COURTS

Hidden Gems of San Francisco (Published in the Westside Observer)

PUBLIC TENNIS COURTSGolden Gate Park Early Map

San Francisco is home to an extensive park system which contains a surprising number of public tennis courts in varied settings. Many are surrounded by stunning panoramic vistas that only San Francisco could serve up. Many of these courts seem to barely be used, while others are wildly popular. All the courts have a story to tell as many of them are over 100 years old, dating back to the era when tennis first became a worldwide phenomenon. Although tennis as we know it is an old sport, the roots of tennis are older still…

While evidence is thin on the ground, the game of tennis is believed to hark back thousands of years, with several indicators suggesting the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans played precursors to tennis. For example, the Arabic word for the palm of the hand is rahat, similar to the word racket, while the Egyptian town Tinnis again bears a resemblance to tennis. More substantial evidence emerges from around 1000, when French monks began playing a crude courtyard ball game. This sport, played against their monastery walls or over a rope hung across a courtyard, took on the name je de paume – ‘game of the hand.’ According to this theory, the word ‘tennis’ was coined by these monks, who would shout the word ‘tenez’, the French for ‘to take’, “take that”, while they served the ball.

In 1850: Charles Goodyear invented a process for rubber called vulcanization, which made the material used to make tennis balls significantly bouncier. As a result, tennis could now be more easily played by the masses, outdoors on dirt, clay, pavement or grass. At that time, the game was more often than not called “Lawn Tennis”. By this time, the foundations for modern tennis had been paved, and this sport surged in popularity

A few years later, in London in 1874, Major Walter C. Wingfield patented the first rules and equipment for tennis, which he called Sphairistike, the Greek for ‘playing at ball.’ The ubiquity of croquet at the time meant there was a ready supply of smooth outdoor courts, which proved easily adaptable for tennis. Tennis soon spread to Russia and Asia.

It wasn’t long before tennis arrived in the United States in the mid-1870s separately and independently in at least six different places.The first formal lawn tennis club in the Americas seems to have been formed in 1876 in New Orleans, after English merchants in the city on business brought the game over with them.But whether the first lawn tennis court in the Americas was set up in San Francisco (as many claim), in Nahant, Mass. (north of Boston), or Staten Island (New York), in Canada, or even at Camp Apache in the Arizona Territory, or elsewhere – all possibilities – the game quickly became popular with the leisure class, on Army posts, and wherever British merchants and diplomats traveled, which in the 19th century was everywhere.

Coinciding with the spread of tennis was the era of public park creation. In fact, there were two distinct periods in the history of American park building, each defined by a distinctive attitude towards “improving” nature: the romantic approach, which prevailed from the 1860s to the 1880s, emphasized the beauty of nature, while the rationalistic approach, dominant from the 1880s to the 1920s, saw nature as the best setting for uplifting activities such as and education and athletics, including tennis. Public parks were being installed in cities worldwide about the same time as San Francisco was evolving into a full-fledged city.

In 1865, when San Francisco’s Daily Evening Bulletin asked its readers if it were not time for the city to finally establish a public park, residents had only private gardens and small urban squares where they could retreat from urban crowding, noise, and filth. Five short years later, city supervisors approved the creation of Golden Gate Park, the second largest urban park in America. Over the next sixty years, and particularly after 1900, a network of smaller parks and parkways was built, turning San Francisco into one of the nation’s greenest cities.

As a result of the popularity of tennis and the concurrent building of parks throughout the city, San Francisco became home just shy of 150 public tennis courts. These beloved courts, free to the public, and rich in history, are yours to use whenever you like (Please note that the Board of Supervisors under Supervisor Weiner closed the parks at night.) Being on public land, they are free from the threat of development and should enrich our communities for generations to come. The same cannot be said for the Bay Club, which looks like it may be soon torn down to make way for condos.

If you would like to explore our city’s tennis courts here are two good places to start:

SF Tennis League http://tennissf.com/

Tennis Maps http://www.tennismaps.com/index.asp?regionid=64

Here are the some of the city’s most popular tennis courts:

Golden Gate Park Tennis Complex

The largest tennis complex in the city was built in 1901, 5 years before the great earthquake and fire. The park’s 21 hard-surface tennis courts are nestled between the Conservatory of Flowers and the Children’s Playground. The trees deter the wind from ruining your serve, and courts are typically first come, first served. Players of all levels go for pickup games and private and group lessons ($50 and $20). It’s also the site of the annual City Open.

Alice Marble Tennis Courts

It can get windy on top of Russian Hill in George Sterling Memorial Park, but the views of downtown, Alcatraz, the Marina, and Golden Gate Bridge make it worth the occasional wild serve. The four courts have modern Laykold flooring that provides more cushion and bounce absorption than your average clay court.

James Moffet Tennis Court

Venture to the Outer Sunset’s Parkside Square, where you’ll find four courts in top condition. They’re largely occupied by longtime neighbors who have been playing here for most of their lives, and as such, the regulars are a little protective of their turf. Hard flooring provides high-bouncing balls, and the surrounding pine trees give off a nice scent.

Explore San Francisco is a locally owned co-op of guides who help us explore and discover the City’s “hidden gems”. For more information on touring SF, check out their website at ExploreSanFrancisco.biz or call them at 415.793.1104

September 2014

 

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The Story of Oofty-Goofty & Big Bertha

Big Bertha and Oofty-Goofty, San Francisco, CA

Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, California. ...
Looking towards Washington Street from early Portsmouth Square, Kearney would be to the right.
Still not landscaped, Portsmouth Plaza in the foreground and Telegraph Hill in the background.
Doesn’t appear to be any rock quarrying yet on Telegraph Hill, or Signal Hill as it was likely to
be called then. There was probably still a beach in North Beach. The main area of the Barbary Coast
would be situated to the right and up a couple blocks from here. This square was not part of Chinatown
but instead was the main town square. The water line of the bay was still just a couple blocks east of here.
Photo from 1851.

 

Big Bertha arrived in San Francisco in the middle eighteen-eighties, posing as a wealthy Jewish widow searching for a good man to take care of her money, which she described as being far more than she could count. She required each suitor to transfer to her a sum of money, to be added to an equal sum of her own, the whole to be risked on an investment of which she alone knew the nature.

In this extraordinary manner she collected she collected several thousand dollars from a score of lovelorn males, not a penny of which was ever seen again by it’s rightful owner. She was at length arrested, but none of her victims felt inclined to brave the torrent of publicity that would result from prosecution, she was released on nominal bail, and the cases against her dropped.

 As Big Bertha gained fame, the manager of the Bella Union hired her and put her on display in an empty storefront on Market Street as “Big Bertha, the Queen of the Confidence Women, Admission Ten Cents.” Bertha’s act consisted of a long “confession” of awful crimes she may have committed, followed by an off-key rendition of “A Flower from My Angel Mother’s Grave.” This went over so well that she took her act to the Bella Union and turned it into a comedic song-and-dance revue, which soon became the toast of the town. She had made herself into a local celebrity, through guts and determination. Other than her stage presence and sense of humor, she had virtually no talent for singing or dancing, but people loved her anyway.

 

 

The Bella Union served for almost 60 years from 1849 to the great fire of 1906, to provide a venue for some
of the finest variety, minstrel and burlesque shows in the country, and was built on the site of the old
Colonnade Hotel. It was originally used as a gambling saloon as well as for entertainment, in 1856 becoming
a melodeon , but from 1893 was a waxworks and penny arcade. It was on the North side of Washington Street,
near Kearny.Also in this photo are the Verandah and the El Dorado with Portsmouth Plaza in the
foreground and Telegraph Hill in the background. Photo from 1856.

 

 

Meanwhile, another star, named Oofty Goofty, plastered with tar and horsehair, was wowing them with his Wild Man of Borneo Act, during which he repeatedly snarled out his name while shredding hunks of raw meat with his teeth. 

Big Bertha, the Queen of the Confidence Women, played a brief engagement at Bottle Koenig’s and then went to the Bella Union, where she achieved considerable renown as a singer who couldn’t sing, a dancer who couldn’t dance, and an actress who couldn’t act. Built as a gambling palace in 1849, the Bella Union quickly began hosting burlesque sideshows, which eventually supplanted gambling as the main attraction. Its biggest star was a 19th-century performance artist named Big Bertha.(2) Her work in the drama, indeed, was so remarkably bad that she attracted audiences from all over San Francisco and brought to the Bella Union and the Barbary Coast hundreds of citizens who had never vsited the quarter before and never did again. 

Her greatest triumph was achieved in “Romeo and Juliet”, in which she co-starred
with OoftyGoofty. The management at the Bella Union, seeing the natural chemistry
between San Francisco’s biggest female and male stars, decided to cast Oofty and Bertha as the leads in Shakespeare’sRomeo and Juliet. Their move was a decade ahead of its time, for it wasn’t until 1896 that Alfred Jarry destroyed Macbeth with his outrageous parody Ubu Roi. Though the Bella Union version of Romeo and Juliet pretty much stuck to the original script, a few minor revisions in stage directions were necessary. Big Bertha was so heavy she couldn’t possibly be hoisted to the balcony, which wouldn’t have supported her in any case. So Oofty Goofy howled out Romeo’s lines from the balcony, while Bertha played Juliet from the ground. Oofty Goofy, unable to shed his typecast persona, played Romeo as the wild man of Borneo;
Bertha emerged from each performance covered with bruises from head to toe.

This was probably the most popular production that Ned Foster had ever staged, but within a week he was compelled to take it off the boards, for Big Bertha complained that as a lover Oofty Goofty was entirely too rough. She flatly refused to act with him any longer.

Soon thereafter Foster presented here in a condensed version of Mazeppa, in which she made her entrance strapped to the back of a donkey. This was also greeted with great acclaim, until one night the donkey fell over the footlights, carrying Big Bertha with him, and well nigh exterminated the orchestra. During the excitement Big Bertha, scratched and angry, crawled from beneath the braying donkey and, in language which she had doubtless learned during her career as an adventuress, indicated that she would never again play the role of Mazeppa. Thereafter she confined her stage work to singing, with an occassional dance, and appeared at various melodeons until 1895, when she obtained control of the Bella Union.

 

 

Big Bertha

 

 

In 1895 Big Bertha takes control of the Bella Union on Kearny Street, or was it Pacific Street, where the Holiday Inn is now located. When she can’t sell liquor, she shuts the establishment down for good and leaves the Barbary Coast(1)

 

 

 

BELLA UNION

 

 

Oofty-Goofty was the stage name of a sideshow performer who lived in
San Francisco in the late 19th century. Leonard Borchardt’s first glimpse
of America was brief. The fourteen year old stowaway from Berlin was discovered en route to the new world by the Captain of the 
SS Fresia. He was forced to stay on the ship, join the crew to earn his passage, return to Germany and back again to the United States, before being allowed to disembark in New York. From there Borchardt drifted from state to state before signing up for the U.S. Cavalry in Detroit. After learning he would be fighting Native American Indians who might scalp him – Borchardt deserted, sold his horse and gun to a farmer,
and headed for San Francisco. He arrived in 1884 at the age of 22.

English: San Francisco harbor (Yerba Buena Cov...
San Francisco harbor (Yerba Buena Cove), 1850 or 1851, with Yerba Buena Island in the background. Hundreds of ships poured into San Francisco only to have their crews
dessert ship to head to the foothills to search for gold. Consequently, the ships were
abandoned in the harbor, where the locals would put them to good use. 

 

Borchardt would try any crazy scheme for money, starting with his impersonation of a “Wild Man of Borneo”, the scam that was to give him his infamous moniker. He was painted with glue, stuck with hair, and laid out on a roof to dry for five hours. Then he was shackled in a cage and fed raw meat whilst scaring visitors with grunts and wails of “Oof, Oof”. He performed this act in the Dime Museum Show and was a huge success; but his manager skipped town with the proceeds, leaving Borchardt close to death on account of his pores being blocked by whatever it was that had been fused to his skin. Borchardt made the news and was visited by curious medical students as he lay in a Turkish bath for five weeks waiting for the glue to dissolve. This cost the City $300 before he was well again. From then on Borchardt was known throughout California simply as Oofty Goofty.

 

Instead of shying away from the limelight as some might after such a to-do, Borchardt (now a celebrity of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast), embraced his new persona and no dare was considered too much of a challenge. From one day to the next you would not know if you might find Oofty Goofty acting as a human skittle in Woodward’s Garden where patrons would win a cigar if they hit him with a baseball, or hear of him heading to New York pushing a shiny red wheelbarrow for a bet, (a challenge that failed after 40 miles when he was knocked over in the darkness, landing head first in a creek).

For $20 he even allowed himself to be shipped in a box to Sacramento as a joke gift for a young lady. That they carted him there with the box updside-down, and left the package unopened in a warehouse over the weekend, did nothing to lessen his bravado, although he later admitted he was “pretty near played out that time”.

But Oofty Goofty was made from tough mettle. Not only did he survive a court martial for his earlier desertion, escaping three years of hard labor by throwing himself off a cliff to achieve early dismissal on grounds of disability.

Oofty, after a long and illustrious career, met a different, sadder fate. His big career move came when an irate clubowner, embarrassed at having booked such a loser, had the bouncers pick up Oofty and throw him through the air and into the street. Oofty slammed into the pavement with enough force to crush the spine of an ordinary mortal.

Staggering to his feet and brushing himself off, he made a remarkable discovery: He felt no pain! Just to make sure, he entered the nearest saloon and offered to let its nastiest-looking denizen punch him for a nickel. Still, he felt no pain. Soon Oofty was earning a good living with his expanded repertoire: for a nickel you could slug him, for a dime you could kick his rear
end with all your might, and for a quarter you could slam him in the butt with a baseball bat.

Practically every male in San Francisco, from the movers and shakers to the lowest denizens of the Barbary Coast, could brag of having banged on Oofty at least once. But finally, after decades of suffering the painless blows of fate, Oofty suffered the inevitable fatal blow. Heavyweight champ John L. Sullivan busted his spine with a pool cue, and Oofty died broke a couple of years later.

While San Francisco would undoubtedly have liked to claim this colorful character forever as its own, Oofty Goofty actually moved to Texas where his antics continued. Sullivan’s legendary belting did not stop him from traveling from one oil field to the next, where he would invite drunken workers to thrash him with a baseball bat for cash. Neither did his fertile imagination subside when it came to entertaining the masses with his fanciful schemes for making money. The last we hear of him, Oofty Goofty favored racing to drink beer with a bar spoon and quail-eating contests that became all the rage at the time.

 

 

Oofty Goofty’s companion, Philomena Faulkner

 

 

 

 

OOFTY GOOFTY

 

 


He was later parodied in popular culture, notably in a 1941 eponymous film and in a 1937 
Our Gang short film called “The Kid From Borneo.”
He is referred to in a story by Bill Pronzini, “The Bughouse Caper.” [Kurland, Michael (editor) “Sherlock Holmes – The Hidden Years” New York, St. Martin’s Minotaur 2004]

 

 

 

 

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Asking 1 Million Dollars for a 1906 Earthquake Shack in Bernal Heights

Asking 1 Million Dollars for a 1906 Earthquake Shack in Bernal Heights. Asking 1 Million Dollars for a 1906 Earthquake Shack in Bernal Heights By exploresf on April 30, 2014 | Edit Buyers looking to own a piece of San Francisco history need look no further: 331 Prentiss Street, a former earthquake shack in Bernal Heights, has recently come to market Read the full article…


San Francisco 1816

A. M. Robertson -> San Francsico One Hundred Years Ago … San Francisco One Hundred Years Ago Early on September 20, 1816 (old style, October 2), we came within sight of the coast of New California. The land we first saw was what is known as Point Reyes, to the north of San Francisco. As the wind Read the full article…


EXPLORE San Francisco: The Folsom District

Folsom District Walking Tour- Free Event… Public Event · By Explore San Francisco Sunday July 1st 2012 1:15pm until 3:00pm Meet on Mission Street at 4th Adults only Sign up on Facebook We’ll start in the heart of the old SOMA District, “South Of the Slot”. See this blue collar neighborhood as it used to be, before re-development. Then we Read the full article…


Shanghai Surprise: the Language of San Francisco and the Barbary Coast | Gadling.com

Shanghai Surprise: the Language of San Francisco and the Barbary Coast by David Farley (RSS feed) on Aug 3rd 2011 at 4:00PM • 200: the population of San Francisco in 1846. • 25,000: the population of San Francisco in 1849. • 300: the number of women living in San Francisco in 1849. • 200: the Read the full article…


Great San Franciscan Characters #9: “Sunny Jim” Rolph

  « Great San Franciscan Characters #8: Rev. Cecil Williams Great San Franciscan Characters #10: Val Diamond » Mayor, successful business man, future governor, whorehouse owner “Sunny Jim” Rolph March 3, 2011 by A Golden Gate State of Mind  Official portrait of: California Governor James Rolph      Charming, beloved, charismatic, successful businessman and whorehouse owner, ”Sunny Jim” Rolph was the longest serving Read the full article…


“Explore Pride Tours 2012”

  Gay owned and operated,Explore San Francisco is pleased to announce Pride Tours 2012. Want to see the city above and beyond the parade, festival and the clubs? We offer the GLBT community tours and sightseeing within our community but outside of the box. Food tours, walking tours, running tours, 1970s Folsom District walk, or Read the full article…