Man Down

“The circus is falling down on its knees. The big-top is crumbling down. There are things I remember and things I forget. I miss you. I guess that I should. Three thousand five hundred miles away; what would I change if I could? – Raining in Baltimore – Counting Crows

Click on the red X to view Charles and the Flying Whale

108 billion people give or take, have lived on earth since Adam & Eve. There are seven billion here now. Every year 54 million die. Charles “Chaz” Hubbard left us yesterday. It occurs to me just how few people outside our blood relatives we ever become close to in this life, spiritually close, bonded to. It’s a short but distinguished list and except for those precious few; after family, everyone else is just strangers.

Back in 1978 when I first arrived I hung out in North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf where I met a disabled veteran street peddler who operated an artistic coin cutting business out of a WWII MASH unit. He directed me to Sausalito and that’s where I met Chaz. Chaz was a one-eyed wonder, a merry prankster of the environmental set for a while and a celebrated Hugh Hefner for a lot longer, living on an exotic opulent houseboat on Sausalito Bay throwing a permanent party. He built bridges and flew whales (dirigibles shaped like a whale) for Greenpeace. Chaz was one of a cast of exceptional characters I met in northern California in the Bermuda triangle of tolerance, diversity and hope; Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco.

Many bridges were built and the whale flew over the Ginza in Japan for Greenpeace to protest the harvesting of this magnificent species and captured the attention of the world press. He had a business card that said “Anything Inc.” and he meant it. The bi-line was: “anything is possible, but not all things are acceptable”. Once, in a week’s time, he designed an inner-city recycling center for me for the City of Oakland complete with wind turbines that provided the energy that powered a Rube Goldberg machine that turned scrap paper into ethanol. When the city said we had to produce an environmental impact report, neither of us knowing what that was, he simply said; “show me one”.

He was a man’s man and for good measure, a ladies man. And he was beautiful. He could drink you under the table and he was always upright, had an infectious smile, a Pied Piper personality and an optimist’s faith in the distance. He had charm and charisma and he was an original in a town known the world over for its eccentrics that funneled into its utopia by the thousands like a bath tub drain.

Many nights we polished off several garlic/garlic pizzas, which he loved, washed down with a gallon jug of Dago Red wine. Afterwards he’d climb the roof of his apartment just to see the famous San Francisco fog roll in over the golden gate bridge. He was famous in his own time. I never met anyone remotely like him and I fear we shall not see his equal again.


About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

One Response to Man Down

  1. James Mcfarland says:

    Incredible, cleanly crafted, a 9.7 rating, great visuals gleaned from descriptive prose.

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