Saturday, April 18, 2009

Super Joel Tornabene, People's Park, and Berkeley in the Early 70s.

Hibiscus (George Harris).

Photo titled "Jan Rose Kasmir"

I think Joel recreated the image of a flower in the end of a rifle during the People's 
riots.  I don't have the picture.

 1967 protest photo at Pentagon

It is strange the way memory and the internet work, as it is with Neddie Jingo's blog about Super Joel and the photo at the top ... "Like watching a huge Pachinko machine at work, little tiny bead goes in one hole, bounces around crazily for a bit, suddenly dingdingding! a completely unexpected other little bead pops out another hole".

From Out of the Crooked Timber of Humanity, No Straight Thing Was Ever Made
Nell 04.06.07 at 12:32 am
Just for the historical record: The demonstrator photographed putting flowers in the barrels of National Guardsmen at the Pentagon demo of 1967 was either ‘Super-Joel’ Tornabene (says his brother) or George Harris, ‘Hibiscus’ of the SF Cockettes (says film director David Weissman). Neither is alive today to resolve the question. I doubt that either of them came anywhere near an SDS chapter in their eventful lives.

Paul Krassner, Tom Waits and many other people thought they knew Super Joel. And many people who met Super Joel who didn't understand themselves and the times they were living in that really misunderstood what he said and did.

I remember when Joel was thrown in jail for the People's Park protest I went to see Loni Hancock, then a Berkeley City Councilor and its future mayor, about writing a letter of support for Joel. Then Congressman Ron Dellums had written one for him but the so-called 'radical' Berkeley Councilor Hancock refused. She had misunderstood Super Joel comments to her about how the younger generation were going to philosophically side with the anti-war street protesters rather than the sell-out 'working within the system' types like her.
"He threatened me." Hancock declared.
I asked, "What did he say? How did he threaten you?"
"He said ..'We're going to get get your kids!' He threaten to harm my children."
I looked at Councilor Loni Hancock with utter disbelief. 'What a freakin' idiot I thought she was. Many times, I had heard Joel talk about educating while winning the hearts and minds of the next generation ... especially the disenfranchised neglected street kids that permeated Telegraph Avenue. Joel would never hurt anyone no less a child.

I think Hancock and the cops set Super Joel up for the People's Park bust because he more effective at empowering then they were at respectively selling-out and oppressing.

I was there the night that the wimpy "lefty liberals" (April Coalition) of the Berkeley City Council tried to get a donation for the North Vietnamese hospital was bombed by United States. The following is from homestead.comThe New City Council, 1971 - 1973. It is talking about Hancock and her liberal friends failure to get a progressive agenda passed in the most radical city in America and why the Hancock pre-yuppie ilk really hated Super Joel Tornabene.

"And in a class by itself, among all the losing motions:

* Contributing $l,000 of city funds to help rebuild the North Vietnam's Bach Mai Hospital which had been destroyed by American bombers.

The Bach Mai Hospital motion was defeated on May 9, l972 before a packed crowd of anti-war protesters in the Berkeley Community Theater. Nixon had just ordered another escalation of the war by bombing North Vietnam's dikes and harbors, causing people to take to the streets in rage, ending up at the City Council meeting, which we had moved to the Community Theater to accommodate the crowd.

Passage of the Bach Mai proposal, previously ignored by the Council, but now presented by Ying Kelley on behalf of a citizens peace group as the first order of business, would have satisfied the angry crowd that demanded action. But the motion was defeated, 4-5, at the hands of the conservative Council majority.

Before the roll call even finished, "Super Joel" Tornabene, a counter-culture leader, grabbed a microphone and started yelling: "The City Council is inciting to riot!! The City Council is inciting to riot!!" This caused the crowd to charge the Council, overturning the tables and ending the meeting. The crowd then rampaged into downtown Berkeley breaking windows, finally ending up at the unguarded Peoples' Park fence, which it knocked over and destroyed by sheer force of numbers, nearly three years to the day after the hated fence was built.

Peoples' Park has been unfenced ever since, thanks to a losing Loni Hancock City Council motion. This remains the Council's most influential action concerning Peoples' Park in the entire l5 years of the park's history."

I could write a book about how unique Joel was in a world and time of unique people. Tim Leary's son, Country Joe McDonald's wife, David Bowie, and The Brotherhood of Light. Taking a bath in laundry 'bluing'; burning all his clothes as a magic spell; getting stuck in Elko, Nevada without a penny; and helping organize a "spontaneous" street closure.

I recently had a chance to share some stories about Super Joel with his sister Fran. She had stumbled on my blog with a photo of her brother "Joey" as she called him (Joseph Eric Tornabene). I had purposely mistitled the photo because I was feeling that I was not going to add to the already intrusive nature of the web. I sent her some photos of "Joey" and personal letters he had written while in jail. The letters showed the suffering Super Joel went through during that time and it filled in some gaps for his family on why he couldn't be with them during the birth of his nephew.

Joel's friend and editor/owner of the Berkeley Barb, the late and wonderful commie beatnik Max Sheer, nailed what Super Joel was going through in a headline that clearly stated "Super Joel Taking The Rap For All Of Us."

The thing about that era (post 60s/early 70s) was how good the "man" had gotten in manipulating the apparent adversaries of the establishment ... the radical "left." Infiltrators, informants and provocateurs were ever present and what was worse was the false labeling of righteous protester as snitches.

At an organizing meeting for a "Free Joel" support committee I looked around and repeated the mantra we used daily on the street or the "Av" (short for Telegraph Avenue) ... "Programs, Programs, you can't tell the agents without a program, program." What still bothers me to this day is remembering Art Goldberg, veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement coming up to me and whispering something about Joel being in jail because the cops wanted him there to "talk" to him. Implying something like a debriefing or the using of Joel in some slimy plan to trap radicals.

If you want to know what it was like read this, albeit later, court filingabout Joel's LSD bust.

Some of Super Joel's Friends

Joel, Nathalie, Nate, Iris

Above Iris and Natalie on Telegraph in front of Cove's marbled fabric street art and below Joel artist roommate Iris reclines.

Tim Leary (left) and below, Country Joe McDonald with his daughter at the Mediterranean Cafe.

Above, Super Joel marches with Eugena Butler (left) and Felicita Butler(Fissy) on the right.

The Photo on the left is of Jimmy Butler and below are two photos of Joel friend Fissy.The one on the left is Angel Fissy and the one on the right is Fissy on the way with Joel, Natalie, and Iris to a spaced-out Elko, Nevada trip from Hell

Joel & The Red Rockets, the Delacours, street kid friends, and the "Telegraph Hilton"

David Delacour (left)

Cove and Kathy Delacour (middle) and in the photo below.

"Telegraph Hilton"
Street kids in front of the "Telegraph Hilton" and below Joe Samberg's photo of a fight in front of that building.

Vanessa Delacour in front of the "Telegraph Hilton" being torn down.


At 9:41 AM, Blogger judyfisch said...

hey, i KNEW these guys, iris and natalie, super joel, the delacour kids, used to hang out with them, the red rockets were a touch younger than me (not much) I was lookin for pics of berkeley in those daze to try & find one of me..i used to be a street musician, played dobro up and down telegraph...the Hilton, OMG!! do you have more pix of this era???

At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived at the Tele Hilton from Sept '66 through sometime in '69, with time away for hitch-hiking and other adventures. Then I was seventeen. Now I'm sixty-one. Beauty, mystery and gratitude. Any photos appreciated. Rich H.

At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want whatever ‘Super-Joel’ Tornabene's brother was smoking. Comparing the photos their facial features are different (different nose/chin) and that seminal pic with the flower in the barrel, I believe, depicts the more gilded locks of Hibiscus. I'll go with Mr. Weissman. Also, the February High Times uses the wrong photo in Paul Krassner's piece about Super Joel.

At 2:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish not concur on it. I over warm-hearted post. Expressly the title-deed attracted me to study the whole story.

At 8:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know that sweater and know it was joel with the flower and the gun.
mika was in the picture with cove and kathy d.
i lived with joel and natalie and annie on derby st,
joel was my friend.
as were John A.Kathy D. Cindy .
Steven Van H. they are all gone now.
i was there and being young and stupid was heaven on earth.

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Danny Cabeza de Calabazo said...

Joel, David D., Hibiscus, Kathy D., Luna, Groovie and many others ... gone. Vanessa, Star, Spacely, Fissy, Cove and many others ... Still here. JudyFisch let me sing "You gotta Move" with her on the Ave.

So, the last "Anonymous" commenter from near Lahaina, Hawaii .... who are you? Star use to live upcountry near you.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger kawliga55 said...

ok so now u really piqued my curiousity coz my berkeley years are much of a fog and disconnect for me... WHO ARE YOU? yea, you gotta move, i forgot all about that song, lol

i have a youtube page, i recently learned how to post a few tunes, just out of old age and boredom, feel free to listen, im kinda old now (59) but i can still ROCK, and if u knew me in those days give a holla... you can message me on youtube. i'm so wanting to find pix from those days or to touch base with others i used to know back in the daze.. <---my youtube page PEACE n love, alwayz
and RIP superjoel amd whoever else from berserkeley has gone on to the next realm.. cya

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i drove dougie bogans green mga til it was red.
mika and i used to drive out to pt. reyes for the weekend.
we stayed on a sea ranch and rode libby;s horses.
are leno and johnny still at the med?

At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

david d is not gone

At 8:07 PM, Blogger Danny Cabeza de Calabazo said...

Cool about David ... I am sorry I had heard otherwise a while back. Is Leslie alive?
I don't know about leno and johnny.

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i heard leslie is gone

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what did u hear about david?
u could ask michael d

At 9:31 PM, Blogger Danny Cabeza de Calabazo said...

I contacted (email) Michael during last years People's Park celebration just to let him know about the pictures of Kathy I was posting. Years ago I heard he ODed but now I see he is listed on a people search as a 50 year old living in CA. Michael seems to have a son named Dusk.

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew SuperJoel very well, intimately you might say. I was with Yippie! and that is definitely SuperJoel sticking the flower in the rifle barrel. There is no question, no doubt, none. For historical accuracy I don't see how there can be the slightest question. For me what's interesting is because a lot of people who don't know have raised the question it will never be settled by history. I know the people still living who can confirm SuperJoel's identity starting with Abe Peck, Yippie! representative in Chicago and editor of The Seed.

At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Clark W. Griswold III said...

I'm an old friend of Joel's, he was very proud of that iconic anti-war photo and enjoyed telling friends the story of putting the flower in the rifle barrel. Although I never thought he looked like the protester Joel insisted it was him, and because he lived such an amazing life I would never put anything past Super Joel.

At 11:31 PM, Blogger Piero said...

Wow. nothing more astonishing than seeing some of your own history in black and white photos.

I have mixed feelings about the whole era, however since i was there, and these are some of the first pictures like this I have seen, I will allow myself some nostalgia, and go with the flow.

No, the person at top is most decidedly NOT Super Joel. I spent nearly every day around Him, Iris, Nathalie, and hung out at his house right above college, I think on derby street. I have kind of hyperexact memory, and I never recall him EVER having a hair cut like that. and his features are very different.

2: I spent every day for years in front of the med, and came to know the Delacores, The Cvar's The Crossmans, The Barsottis, Cove, The Ziprins, Jerry Rubin, the Red Rockets, the Mini Mob, and spent my time at the Forum, Pepe's Pizza, Irv's leathers, The blue cue, The Eclair, Robbies, (where blake's is now) The pacific archive theater, (where I saw "El Topo" and The Cockettes movies at far too young an age, and also where I ruthlessly annoyed Leno and Johnny in the med.

I was there on the roof of the forum during the first charge of the Alameda county task squad, only to get their assess kicked by a bunch of skinny teenagers on acid. I hung out in the officces of the Daily Cal when Liza Berkovichi was editor, and I knew James rector, from those offices. Carole Perry the bluseman, and a Hell's angel (or so I thought) named "Okie" was always around too.

My name Is Piero Amadeo Infante, otherwise known as "Pio" and my mom was Pooh Ornelas, and I remember everything.
Who remembers Joel's birthday Party at Bimbo's in the city or some other posh looking place, when Leila and the snakes played for his birthday, and Leila made a speech about "if you really want to offend someone for their birthday, just get them a Jo-el"??? anyone remember that?



At 11:40 PM, Blogger Piero said...

I'd love to get some full size files of the pictures in front of the med. I can probably remember a lot of those kids.
I also have a pic of me, in or around the med as a kid. who should I send it to? someone might recognize me, and help me put my karmic history together.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger kawliga55 said...

pio, its me, judy fisch.. the slide guitar playing street singer, i had the same kinda flashback as u when i saw these pix omg

u (or anyone who remembers me from back in the daze) can email me, send ur pic if ya want, kawliga55@gmail dot com

peace :)

At 8:35 PM, Blogger Matt Moulton said...

"I contacted (email) Michael during last years People's Park celebration just to let him know about the pictures of Kathy I was posting. Years ago I heard he ODed but now I see he is listed on a people search as a 50 year old living in CA. Michael seems to have a son named Dusk."

this means something to me. Kathy is my mother. Id like some pictures of her, if they exist.

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey matt if ur still out there i have some pix.
leave a message here ill check back next month.

At 1:42 PM, Blogger kawliga55 said...

i too would love to see any and all pix from those days.. its a part of my life that seems to be a missing link :)
judy fisch PEACE my friends

At 4:06 PM, Blogger kawliga55 said...

u know its really sad that some spammers have attached themselves to this blog, there is so little on line reflecting the REAL street scene of the early 70s in berkeley. even tho i keep getting peculiar junk mail attaching itself to this blog im still gona follow it, on the hopes of reconnecting with old friends. :(

At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although little, I was there...every memory until age 10 is off the Ave.... Matt Moulton if your still on here contact me, Kathy was my second mother and lived with us and I stayed in touch until.... I met you when you were first born. My name is Rachel I have a few pictures of your mother, nit a day passes without thinking of her. KD I love you!!

At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

omg, I never knew any pic's like this existed. I started my teenage years on the avenue and knew Super Joel and enjoyed many of his parties at his warehouse space in SF. My name is Pamela and I was in the group with Luna, Star, Joel (not super joel), Rob and many others. Spent way to many hours in the Med cafe and was also friends with Johnny Jr. the owner of the Med's son. Its wonderful to know so many of us remember those days fondly and are still around to share them. Would love to see more pic's.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Nacio said...

For more on the Telegraph Avenue scene between 1969 and 1973 check out And, if you were on the scene at the time, please add your recollections to the growing social history there. Nacio Jan Brown

At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took the photo of Mika on the left of Kathy D. and cove on the right (c) Harold Adler Dusk is the sun of Shelly My email is if anyone wants to contact me I have lot of photos of Red Rockets Mini mobsters Kathy Vanessa and others Peace and LOve, Harold Adler

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Danny Cabeza de Calabazo said...

I just spoke to Star.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Danny Cabeza de Calabazo said...

hi Danny, Vince turned me on to your blog and I read the 2008 post. He wrote me last week after 36 years. I still have 2 pieces of Fabriano. I knew you briefly then. Circles within circles...but I knew Luna and Star.. yes, I was there..on the Ave. in the of the kids, though I was 19..a bit older, except for Pam who was older than me. She managed the used clothing store.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger Danny Cabeza de Calabazo said...

I forgot to leave my email in case you want to contact me and talk about old times..I'd enjoy that.

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, this is Pamela. I have an old pic of Star that I will scan and send you you as well as any other pics I might have of Also, Michael B. took tons of pic's back then and I was wondering if anyone knew if that was the Michael Matt Moulton referred to?

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Richard Lambrecht said...

I have stories and stories about joel, being his butler and chauffer in the late 70's. anybody wanna talk? Richard 805 636-3871

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Does anyone remember AL Forden he was friends with super joel and superjoel organized a wake for al forden or dirty al as he was called after he was killed in 1978. AL was my wife's father and we have very few pitures.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger kingmods said...

Does anyone remember AL Forden he was friends with super joel and superjoel organized a wake for al forden or dirty al as he was called after he was killed in 1978. AL was my wife's father and we have very few pitures.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger JC Haywire said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger JC Haywire said...

The guy in the argyle sweater in the "Some Of Super Joel's Friends" photo on the left looks like David W. Teske to me. Anyway, I assumed it was him. I'm researching his life and work and came upon this page. As he would say, "Everything is perfect. Please be happy."

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous David A said...

I met Joel at Harvard Square just before the 1967 Demo at the Pentegon.
Wanting to make my way to the Haight (my age 15) Joel offered me a ride to DC where he was optimistic I’d find a ride to SF.
Long story,but I ended up with a seat next to Cesar Chevez who looked after me there on stage.Being arrested,I shared a 4 man cell with Jerry Rubin and Abe Hoffman.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Richard Lambrecht said...

when I once picked up Joel at SF airport (I worked as his chauffer with the Eldorado) he said he had just been partying with Mick Jagger for three at the job, I said - "I didn't know you were big enough to know Jagger!". Absolutely stone-faced, he said "I didn't know Mick was big enough to know me".... hundreds of stories...


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