Hate Man

Hate Man was one of the Berkeley street characters I sorta knew when I lived and worked there. We had only a few conversations, but we waved middle fingers sometimes, or pushed shoulders over a newspaper or a Coke.

I didn't know him well, which was entirely my fault and my mistake. I never get to know almost anyone very well. Introvert here, capeesh? My mantra is "Leave me alone," so mostly I admired Hate Man from across the street, on Telegraph Ave or at People’s Park. Even talking with him only rarely, though, I knew him well enough to know he had some things figured out.

He explained to me twice — he told everyone this, if you tried talking to him — that he never trusted anyone until they’d told him, “I hate you.” That was always his greeting for either friends or strangers, “I hate you.” People who didn’t understand might get angry, but once you understood, it was beautiful.

His thinking was, if you’re being nice to me that’s almost certainly fake — you’re trying to get something from me, trying to get me to like you, trying to make yourself look good, trying to drag me to church or into a shelter, and Hate Man wanted nothing to do with such bullshit. If you wanted him to take you seriously, you had to confess that you hated him. I probably only told him I hated him twenty or thirty times, but he deserved more.

Hate Man was homeless, though he preferred to say that he lived outside. With some people who live outside, if you exchange even a few words with them, you can tell that they're 'off'. Hate Man was different. He made a harsh first impression, but if you gave him what he wanted — a sincere "I hate you" — and then engaged in even the briefest conversation, you could tell he was 'on'. 

At the top of the page, I mentioned "pushing shoulders," which needs an explanation for anyone who didn't know him. In Hate Man's philosophy, "please" and "thank you" were artificial and superfluous; if you wanted something, the correct way to get it was to say, "Push me for a smoke," or "Push me for that paper." When anyone pushed against Hate Man, they'd lock shoulders and push, aggressively if the dispute was serious, but when he and I pushed it was a mere formality. The first person to stop pushing lost, a concession that meant, You must want it more than me, so you can have it.

When Hate Man pushed for my paper, he always got it. Actually, I saved the newspaper under my table, in case he came by and wanted to push me for it. 

He'd been in the Air Force, then the Peace Corps, and worked as a reporter for the New York Times, before relocating to Berkeley, California. I think he'd say it was a better life he'd chosen, living outside, flipping strangers the bird, pushing pals for smokes, and greeting everyone with "I hate you." 

He was mentally well, one of the few certifiably sane people I ever knew. Sadly, he flipped his final finger in 2017, though I only learned about it today.

Rest in hate, Hate Man. 



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  1. Hey Doug, thanks for taking requests on the big Holland Hot Line for the sing-along segment of your show. You might regret it as suggestions pour in, but you can always stick your finger in a dike if that's your idea of a good time.

    Thanks again.


  2. Doug, no thanks necessary. I was asking whether you would be bothered by additional suggestions for sing along with no social or political requirement to post them. Our musical tastes are a little different, so I'd understand if you preferred not to receive a few candidates. Just checking.

    Also, please let me know if you think I'm commenting too much. I don't want to be a pain in the ass. Not everybody is interested in Pi and obscure musical talents. It won't hurt my feelings. OK, maybe a little, but I'm a big boy now. Almost.


    1. Our musical tastes are different, in that you have musical tastes. Singalong nominations are welcome, and as for the comments, believe me, every comment is a compliment. Even comments that insult me are a compliment. It means something here made someone give enough of a damn to type out a response and wrestle with the commenting software. Sincerely, every comment you offer is an honor.


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