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    Remembering Bay Area Icon Hate Man

    Originally posted at Radical Second Things. Soon to be collected in the second print edition. Buy the first here.

    Jordan Denato produced a good amount of artwork for this series but I had to skip ahead for this one as the figure is a close one for me.

    Back in 2014, while living in Berkeley, a thing I do periodically in life because of the ease of life there, I lived in a hostel for a few months where I got pretty involved in the community there. I ended up helping to move stuff for Hate Man, real name Mark Hawthorne, an elderly man who spent four decades on the streets of Berkeley, living primarily in Berkeley's well known "People's Park."

    Hate Man had not always been homeless - he had been successful enough in standard society to have a staff reporter position at the New York Times. Like a more oddball version of a monk (and without the system that monks have), he chose a life away from normal convention. Homelessness was not a misfortune for him. He said of it, "“I’m addicted to it. It’s fresh air. It’s exciting. It’s very Zen. There are problems with it, but it’s very immediate — whether it’s weather or a ticket or a psycho. Whereas rent, those are longer-term problems. 

    As someone who has lived at length in Berkeley, California without being enrolled in UC Berkeley, I can tell you that the city allows for a strange ecosystem of tolerance for the most strange and erratic among us. There are alot of homeless in the city and some of them are the strangest people you have ever seen - ranging from punk kids that look like they jumped out of a 1970s movie, one man who dresses precisely like someone from Pirates of the Caribbean and another who has literally made pretty solid footwear out of material from a dumpster.

    Hate Man was respected among these misfits and amongst the broader community. As he was sick and ailing toward his death, a good number of people traveled to Berkeley to see him. He was unique and had an inner philosophy that genuinely made some sense. He avoided drugs and alcohol - dispelling that reasoning for his unique life choice. He lived a long life - having been born in 1936 or thereabouts, he was 80-81 years old when he passed.

    When I first met him, he asked me to push my fists against his as hard as I could. This was part of a philosophy he had of bringing negative emotions out in to the open (in a constructive manner, clearly). Hate Man said in interviews, "For me to trust a person and be comfortable with them, they have to be willing to say ‘I hate you ..." The idea is to avoid negative conflict by bringing such differences out in the open, rather than creating situations where people rob or con one another for what they want.”

    Nearly every major local newspaper in the Bay Area, from SF Gate to Berkeleyside to UCB's daily publication The Daily Californian, reported on the passing of Hate Man. His impact was enough that people would take note. Rest in power.

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