Let The GOOD TIMES Roll…
Monday, July 19th, 2010
Writer and film maker Richard Gaikowski has been named as a Zodiac suspect by Tom Voigt of the website Zodiackiller.com. Gaikowski reportedly assumed the role of editor for The San Francisco Express Times sometime in the spring of 1969 and, in April of that year, the newspaper changed its name to The San Francisco Good Times.
The United States Library of Congress website provides the following listing for The SAN FRANCISCO EXPRESS TIMES aka The GOOD TIMES.
Title: Good times. : (San Francisco, Calif.) 1969-197?
Alternative Titles: San Francisco good times
Place of publication: San Francisco, Calif.
Geographic coverage: San Francisco, San Francisco, California
Publisher: Trystero Co.
Dates of publication: 1969-197?
Description: Vol. 2, no. 13 ([Apr. 2], 1969)-[v. 5, no. 19] (Aug. 2, 1972).
Frequency: Semiweekly July 14, 1972-Aug. 2, 1972.
Subjects: Counter culture–California–San Francisco–poliscit
Notes: “Bulletin of the Church of the Times.”
Available on microfilm from UMI (Underground newspaper/press collection).
Suspended with Aug. 2, 1972.
LCCN: sn 87060235
Preceding Titles: San Francisco express times. (San Francisco, Ca.) 1968-1969
An entry on the website Wikipedia.com includes this description of the Express Times.
“San Francisco Express Times was a counterculture tabloid underground newspaper edited by Marvin Garson and published weekly in San Francisco, California from January 24, 1968 to March 25, 1969, for a total of 62 issues, covering and promoting radical politics, rock music, arts and progressive culture in the Bay Area. It was a member of the Underground Press Syndicate, and sold for 15 cents. Marvin Garson was a graduate of the University of California and veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, where he edited an FSM newsletter, Wooden Shoe, along with his wife Barbara Garson. He started the Express Times with co-founder Bob Novick and participation by David Lance Goines, Alice Waters and others. Regular contributors included Todd Gitlin and Greil Marcus. Staff photographers were Jeffrey Blankfort followed by Nacio Jan Brown. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the Express Times was one of a number of underground newspapers successfully infiltrated by the FBI, which had a paid informant on the staff. Starting in April 1969 the San Francisco Express Times changed its name to Good Times, publishing under that title, with a substantially different editorial policy, until August of 1972.”
Todd Gitlin was a writer and regular contributor. In a recent email, Gitlin explained, “I was at the Express Times June ‘68-spring ‘69 but not thereafter– not into the Good Times phase.” Gitlin did not know or remember Gaikowski or his co-worker and friend, Blaine Blaine aka Goldcatcher aka Zakatarious– the man who now claims that Gaikowski was the Zodiac.
The San Francisco Express Times focused on stories about social issues, racial equality, women’s rights, environmental concerns, literature, film, and music. The all-volunteer staff consisted of various writers, photographers, artists, and others who used pen names such as the “Black Shadow.” Marvin Garson contributed columns, as did max goldcrab, sharon, wayne collins and more. Richard Gaikowski authored several articles, including “dick gaik’s bits.”
David Lance Goines and Alice Louise Waters wrote a cooking column for The Express Times. Goines offered this brief account of his involvement:
“In 1968, our frequent dinner guest, Bob Novick, together with Marvin Garson, teamed up with others and founded the San Francisco Express Times, an alternative newspaper with a heavy slant toward anti-war and pro-drug reporting. I designed its masthead, and Alice and I were asked to do a weekly cooking column. Each Friday, I frantically designed, calligraphed and cut the linoleum block for the weeks offering, which was never late but always came close. We only infrequently got the ten dollars that we theoretically earned for each completed column. Although we started out with no particular idea in mind, after a short while the column evolved into a popular blend of Alices early efforts at expressing a culinary philosophy and mine at design. Soon we had enough recipes to consider putting out a cookbook. Although I carted it around to various prospects, even going to the extent of dragging the whole shebang to England, it waited until the Christmas season of 1970 to be published as the red-hot Berkeley bestseller, Thirty Recipes Suitable for Framing… Together with others of her friends, Alice took over a house on Shattuck Avenue, near the Co-op, and on August 28, 1971, opened Chez Panisse. In 1978, after Thirty Recipes had been continuously in print for eight years, Alice felt that the clunky recipes were a disgrace and we ceased production. In 1981, she asked me to design the restaurants first cookbook, the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, which is still in print. Thirty-one years after our cooking column first graced the pages of the San Francisco Express Times, Alice and I have again teamed up and together produced the illustrated Chez Panisse Café Cookbook. Plus ça change, plus cést la même chose.”
The San Francisco Express Times was one of many “underground” publications in the Bay Area, including RAT, The Oracle, and more, and, like most counter-culture media, promoted what was referred to as a “radical left agenda” with articles about police brutality and corruption, oppression by the government, the peace movement, life in and around the notorious Haight-Ashbury district, and the rapidly emerging drug scene. Some headlines read, “Goddamn Pigs!” or “Dirty Underwear Girl Strikes In Jail.” The Express Times also featured provocative and controversial art and photographs. One cover showed a woman holding a sign which read, “Every woman secretly wants to be RAPED.” A 1968 photograph by Jeff Blankfort shows activist Marilyn Buck sitting in the offices of The San Francisco Express-Times, 1968. In later years, Buck joined forces with the Black Liberation Army. A Wikipedia entry states: “Along with a number of BLA members and supporters, Buck was convicted of armed robbery in the Brinks robbery of 1981 in which a guard and two police officers were killed.”
Express Times co-founder Marvin Garson was a persistent voice in the counter-culture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. One of Garson’s more bizarre credits was the infamous “Banana smoking” hoax, thanks to his 1967 article for the Berkeley Barb in which he claimed that one could get “high” by smoking the dried scrapings from banana peels. News of Garson’s fascinating yet fictional method of obtaining a banana buzz spread and was soon reported by major magazine such as NEWSWEEK and TIME. The incident served as a perfect illustration of Garson’s view of the times. “The sixties were staged,” Garson reportedly once said, admitting that much of the public protest and outrageous antics of the radical left were part of a campaign to harness the power of photographs and television. The now-iconic images of anti-war demonstrators, sit-ins, marches, and more fueled public discourse and debate. Garson and other voices in the counter culture movement were aware that the media was a useful propaganda tool. (Listen to Marvin Garson interviews.)
Tom Voigt has selectively cited portions of the SFTE/GT in order to further implicate Gaikowski and paint his suspect as a diabolical murderer using the newspaper to publish cryptic clues. Voigt posted a Good Times cover featuring three photographs depicting actor Peter Fonda, Black Panther Bobby Seale, and guru Satchidananda (who opened the August 15, 1969 Woodstock music festival). According to Voigt’s theory, this three-part cover may have served a sinister purpose. Voigt wrote, “On the very day Zodiac debuted by mailing three ‘rush to editor’ letters to three separate newspapers in the San Francisco area (with each letter containing one third of a code), the Good Times (edited by Gaikowski) just happened to run a cover that was split into thirds. It was the only instance of Zodiac mailing a letter on a Thursday until after the Good Times folded in 1973.” The cover was clearly a product of necessity; the paper was running three different articles about three different people and did not have a photograph which depicted all three men together.
Voigt also wrote: “Even though the Good Times was a counterculture/hippie newspaper, once Gaikowski came aboard it ran free ads for such unlikely events as performances of The Mikado, a Zodiac favorite. (Zodiac sometimes quoted from The Mikado in his letters.)”
I recently viewed the issues of The SFTE/GT which are kept on microfilm at the San Francisco public library. Even a cursory examination of various issues reveals that the newspaper consistently printed notices and advertisements for entertainment events which spanned the spectrum from mainstream to underground theater, film, music, literature and more. The SFTE/GT was not the only Bay Area newspaper to print ads for The Mikado.
Voigt wrote: “The Good Times also occasionally ran sensationalistic ‘Zodiac Killer’ headlines that were out of place.” The Zodiac crimes were the subject of ongoing news reports in the Bay Area and the SFTE/GT was only one of many newspapers which printed stories about the case. The Zodiac headline cited by Voigt read, “Zodiac Strikes Again.” The accompanying article was not about the Zodiac case but an astrological horoscope which had nothing to do with the crimes.
In an article published in The Village Voice, July 11, 1968, Marvin Garson wrote about a series of bombings and some critics cite his words as proof that he advocated violence:
“The series of successful and highly popular bombings which have occurred here recently: The steady bombing of the electric power system from mid-March when the lines leading to the Lawrence Radiation Lab were knocked down, to June 4, when on the morning of the California primary 300,000 homes in Oakland were cut off; the dynamiting of a bulldozer engaged in urban renewal destruction of Berkeley’s funkiest block; three separate bombings of the Berkeley draft board; and finally, last Tuesday night, the dynamiting of the checkpoint kiosk at the western entrance to the University campus, a symbol of the Board of Regent’s property rights in the community of scholars.”
Despite its radical agenda and approach, The San Francisco Express Timesfocused on the issues championed by the anti-war and civil rights movements. Marvin Garson’s articles contained words of fierce resistence and even anger, yet his intent was always clear as he tried to shine a spotlight on social injustice. As a staunch advocate of gay rights, Garson wrote of “Queer Power” in January, 1969: “Remember when it was impolite to suggest that a Negro gentleman might have black skin? Now it’s ‘Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud.’ Maybe in a few years the queers will be saying something like, ‘Don’t keep trying to rise above it– kiss me, darling, I’m queer and I love it.’”
Voigt has implied that the radical voice of The Good Times indicates that Richard Gaikowski and others who worked for the newspaper were somehow capable of committing extreme acts of violence such as the Zodiac crimes. Those who knew Gaikowski have repeatedly stated that they do not believe that he was capable of such violence or responsible for the Zodiac attacks. The Times frequently complained about police brutality and injustice while parroting the anti-establishment revolutionary tone of the times, yet there is no evidence that Gaikowski advocated the murder of innocent human beings for any reason, let alone for a political cause. The Good Times, like many other counter-culture publications, did adopt a strong anti-police stance which was reflected in its content, yet even this provocative position does not constitute evidence that Gaikowski or anyone else associated with the Times would shoot teenagers at a lovers lane, viciously stab a couple, or murder a cabdriver who was just doing his job.
The most vocal pro-violence writings came from Blaine– the man who first accused Gaikowski as the Zodiac killer. Blaine often advocated acts of violence against members of law enforcement in his regular column titled COPWATCH. In one article, Blaine wrote:
“There was a narcotics raid Monday night on Geary Street. A plainclothes cop, known to belong to an ‘elite intelligence unit’ demanded that Gilbert Sauceda ‘open up’ or else. It was the ‘or else’ that did it. This cop was shot in the shoulder blade. Sgt. Christensen fell back bleeding, while other cops– around twenty– broke down the chained door, arresting three people for possession of narcotics, and– get this– ‘attempted murder.’ Since when has self-defense become attempted murder?”
As editor of The Good Times, Gaikowski may have condoned the publication of Blaine’s opinions and point of view; in fact, he may have shared some of the same sympathies. However, such a stance does not equal condoning the kind of unprovoked and vicious murders committed by the Zodiac. Throughout its history, The Good Times printed many stories which promoted the anti-police stance and described the sometimes-violent philosophies of groups which were responsible for bombings, the murders of police officers, and other crimes. Yet even this political posture cannot be considered evidence that Gaikowski or any other Times contributor would advocate the crimes committed by the Zodiac.
Voigt’s other attempts to link Gaikowski to the Zodiac case are equally dubious. On his website, Voigt wrote: “At the time of his murder, the Good Times ‘switchboard’ was located only yards from the residence of Zodiac victim Paul Stine on Fell Street in San Francisco.” Voigt based this claim on a paragraph which had appeared in Gaikowski’s Good Times column titled “D gaik’s short bits.”
Voigt’s site also features this Google photograph of the two locations in question with Voigt’s captions.
Paul Stine did live at 1842 Fell Street, and 1830 Fell Street was, in fact, the home of a switchboard. However, Voigt’s attempt to link Stine to The Good Times, and his suspect, Richard Gaikowski, is based on a false assumption. A quick Google search for “1830 Fell Street” and “switchboard” yielded these results.
The switchboard located at 1830 Fell Street was actually the famous “Haight-Ashbury Switchboard,” a fixture of the Bay Area counter-culture in the late 1960s and 1970s. Al Rinker founded the Switchboard in 1967 and wrote this mission statement. “The Switchboard is a volunteer service designed to facilitate communication among people throughout San Francisco, and specifically to serve as an informational and referral source for the Haight-Ashbury community.” As noted on the Wikipedia page and other Internet articles, the Switchboard was quickly overwhelmed by the needs of the counter-culture community and subsequently devoted much of its resources to finding “crash pads” for wandering hippies and assisting “runaways” new to the Bay Area while dealing with worried and irate parents. The Switchboard became a focal point in the Haight-Ashbury district and a legend among those in the counter-culture movement.
The Switchboard did not serve as the switchboard for the Good Times newspaper. In fact, the Good Times had no need for a switchboard and had phones in its office at 2377 Bush Street. A page from STEAL THIS BOOK by famous activist Abbie Hoffman contained the following information:
Hoffman wrote STEAL THIS BOOK in 1970 and the popular anti-establishment treatise was published in 1971. The book notes the phone number of the Haight-Ashbury Switchboard as “387-3575,” the same number listed for the Haight-Ashbury switchboard in an August 1969 issue of The Good Times.
In one of his many writings from the late 1980s, Blaine Blaine– Gaikowski’s only accuser and Voigt’s chief informant– noted the proximity of the Switchboard to the residence of Zodiac victim Paul Stine, writing, “On Stine: Did you know Stine lived either in or near the same building where the old Haight Ashbury switchboard was located on Fell Street? The Switchboard then use to sell the GOOD TIMES underground newspaper and Gaikowski used to, with Chris Robeson, deliver them there.”
Given the nature and purpose of the Switchboard, the fact that The Good Times was available there– along with other underground newspapers from the Bay Area– cannot be viewed as evidence linking Gaikowski to Stine. Blaine claims that Gaikowski delivered editions of The Good Times to the Switchboard, but Blaine has a documented history of exaggerating and even inventing his own stories to suit his needs. The facts indicate that the proximity of the Switchboard to the home of Paul Stine is not credible evidence linking Gaikowski to Stine, and that the house on 1830 Fell Street had no legitimate or significant connection to The Good Times or Gaikowski as Voigt claims. Even Blaine– who worked for the Good Times– described the house at 1830 Fell Street as the location of “the old Haight Ashbury switchboard” and not as the switchboard for The Good Times.
Al Rinker ran the Haight-Ashbury Switchboard until 1970 when some of his volunteers assumed control and later moved the operation to 1797 Haight, then to 1921 Hayes St. near Ashbury, and finally to 1539 Haight St. The Switchboard continued to offer services to the citizens of the Bay Area throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s and finally closed in 1986.
During it run, the Switchboard was also linked to an influential group in the counter-culture movement known as The Diggers. Wikipedia provides the following information about this famous group:
“The Diggers took their name from the original English Diggers (1649–50) who had promulgated a vision of society free from private property, and all forms of buying and selling. During the mid- and late 1960s, the San Francisco Diggers opened stores which simply gave away their stock; provided free food, medical care, transport and temporary housing; they also organized free music concerts and works of political art. Some of their happenings included the Death of Money Parade, Intersection Game, Invisible Circus, and Death of Hippie/Birth of Free. The group was founded by Emmett Grogan, [actor] Peter Coyote, Peter Berg (see http://www.planetdrum.org), and other members of the San Francisco Mime Troupe including Billy Murcott, Roberto La Morticella, and Butcher Brooks.”
The Diggers launched the “Free Store” concept in the Bay Area. The San Francisco store on Frederick Street became a popular fixture and, later, others stores opened in New York City.
Tom Voigt has posted a photograph of unknown origins which depicts a lengthy handwritten notice for the opening of the “Family Store” in Berkeley, California.
The Diggers were responsible for many such stores in the Bay Area, and the organization eventually evolved into a group known by the name “The Free Family.” A handwritten notice from the Diggers, dated 1968, is also similar to the “Family Store” poster. While some of the handwriting samples from The Diggers Papers and announcements may appear somewhat similar to the handwriting of the Zodiac, such similarities are, in fact, common and appear in samples from a variety of sources written by individuals decades apart.
At the height of their influence and notoriety, The Diggers were featured in various counter-culture publications such as The Realist.
The Diggers also published their own propaganda under the title The Digger Papers, which featured a symbol which was a variation on the ancient symbol the swastika. (Despite its use by the German Nazis during World War II, the swastika does not represent hatred and dates as far back in history as 1000 BCE. The word “swastika” comes from the Sanskrit svastika – “su” meaning “good,” “asti” meaning “to be,” and “ka” as a suffix.)
The Diggers were also the subject of various stories in the mainstream newspapers which echoed the opinions of police and other authorities who viewed the group as a nuisance and perhaps even a dangerous force.
The Diggers continued to publish various papers until late 1969, when the era of peace and love had officially come to an end. Thanks to the violent actions of extremist groups such as the Black Liberation Army, The Symbionese Liberation Army, the Weatherman Underground Organization, and even the notorious Manson Family, the image of the counter-culture community was forever stained by the bloody memories of those who represented the most extreme elements of the movement. In December 1969, radical anti-war activist Bernadine Dohrn addressed a crowd in Michigan and referred to the brutal Tate/LaBianca slayings at the hands of Charles Manson’s “Family” when she said, “Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in pig Tate’s belly. Wild!” Dohrn was the wife of Weatherman founder Bill Ayers, who was suspected in several bombings, including the 1970 explosion at the Golden Gate Park police station which killed Officer Brian V. McDonnell and injured several others.
Like the Diggers, the volunteers of the Haight-Ashbury Switchboard, and many others in the so-called “underground” of the Bay Area, the staff of The San Francisco Express Times / The Good Times believed that they could make a difference, and, throughout its short history, from 1967-1972, the Times was home to many different contributors.
The essay by Jesse Drew, titled, Good Times Collective, is available on the website FoundSF.org.
“2377 Bush Street, home of the Good Times Newspaper Collective, the primary underground newspaper of San Francisco during the late sixties and early seventies.“
“Good Times was the paper the radical left depended upon to keep up with the anti-war movement, the trials of political prisoners like the Soledad Brothers and Angela Davis, political corruption in San Francisco, and general communal information like vegetarian recipes and holistic health care. The all-volunteer collective put out Good Times on a regular bi-weekly, weekly, and then twice a week basis until sputtering out in the summer of 1972. In the last issue, a collective member had this to say about Good Times:
‘For the first time in 4 and 1/2 years, the radical movement will not have a regularly printed voice (the Guardian notwithstanding) in San Francisco. We were always defined as an “underground” paper, and for a long time we thought of ourselves that way. We refused to deal with “straight” institutions except when we had to. We had to fight for the right to sell our papers in the streets. We had to struggle for access to the same news that Chron-Exam monopoly reporters were served up. We never were given police press passes. We covered stories from the perspective of the participants, dodging clubs as we took notes. The lines were clear and we knew which side we were on.’”
The San Francisco Good Times established itself as one of the most memorable underground newspapers of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and its influence and impact touched even popular celebrities and figures of the times. Filmmakers Allan Francovich and Gene Rosow produced and directed a documentary about the newspaper titled San Francisco Good Times which featured such notable faces as musician Pete Townsend of the legendary rock band The WHO and famous drop-out and drug advocate Timothy Leary. Neither Richard Gaikowski or Blaine appear in this documentary. The documentary is available on DVD, and can be viewed online.
The history of The San Francisco Express Times aka The Good Times reveals no evidence to indicate that Richard Gaikowski condoned or committed the Zodiac crimes. The evidence demonstrates that Tom Voigt has distorted the facts in order to create the illusion of a connection between Richard Gaikowski and the Zodiac. Despite Voigt’s claims, The Good Times switchboard was not located next to the home of Zodiac victim Paul Stine. This falsehood has now been recorded by Internet archives as a “fact.” In his rush to convict Richard Gaikowski in the court of public opinion, Tom Voigt has spawned yet another in a never-ending series of myths and distortions which continue to cloud the historical record.
[A collection of articles, photographs, and covers from The San Francisco Express Times is available at the Gaikowski page of Zodiackillerfacts.com — scroll halfway down the page to find the collection, which includes an article by Richard Gaikowski.]
July 19th, 2010 at 9:02 pm