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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Yesterday's Crimes: A Summer of Dismembered Drug Dealers in the Haight

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 11:29 AM

  • Randy Heinitz/Flickr

It was barely August, and the Summer of Love was already getting ugly.

I'm not just talking about pools of vomit on the corner of Clayton Street and raging cases of gonorrhea. No, the ugly I'm talking about involves severed arms, a wannabe Evel Knievel, and maybe even the mob.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Yesterday's Crimes: That Time the U.S. Government Sold Forged Art

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 10:50 AM

  • Randy Heinitz/Flickr

Salvador Dalí's melting clocks and elongated elephants have always been popular among San Francisco art buyers, but unfortunately, Dalí only cranked out self-portraits with bacon for 79 years or so. By the time he died in 1989, the demand for his work far exceeded supply.

Forged Dalí prints started showing up in small San Francisco galleries serving the tourist trade in the 1980's, but things got weird even by Dalí standards when the federal government got in on the act.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Not Dead Yet: The 10 Oldest Businesses in San Francisco

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 10:14 AM

San Francisco culture isn’t dead (yet). That’s the message of this week’s issue of SF Weekly, which profiles eight venues that opened in the past year.

But the city’s culture is changing, which has been true since the Gold Rush, when the population increased by the thousands almost overnight. Today, with rents exploding, new residents arriving, old residents leaving, and businesses shuttering, natives grasp onto anything familiar.

Standing like proud, battleworn survivors for more than a century, the following businesses represent classic San Francisco.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yesterday's Crimes: The Jazz Baby Mother Slayer

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 9:14 AM

  • Randy Heinitz/Flickr

Dorothy Ellingson was off to an early start.

By age 12, she was already knocking back gin and running with jazz musicians at the New Shanghai Café in Prohibition-era Chinatown. After four years of this, her mother, Anna Ellingson, finally put her foot down on Jan. 13, 1925, and tried to keep Dorothy from "running wild at jazz parties."

It didn't work.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Yesterday's Crimes: Chicken Wings and Bloody Stumps in Golden Gate Park

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 11:33 AM

  • Randy Heinitz/Flickr

Golden Gate Park has seen its share of body dumps, but this has to be one of the strangest.

On Sunday, Feb. 8, 1981, the headless body of an African American man was found wrapped in a sleeping bag by Alvord Lake, not far from where Haight Street ends at Stanyan. Police couldn't locate the victim's head, but they did discover a chicken wing and two kernels of corn jammed into the bloody neck stump. A slaughtered chicken was also found 50 yards from the corpse.

Police speculated that either a very sharp ax or a machete was used. A deputy coroner called the cut "very clean."

Fingerprints identified the headless man as LeRoy Carter, Jr., a 29-year-old petty criminal with a bit of a rap sheet, but nothing that should've had him becoming some kind of human sacrifice.

Because of the ritualistic nature of the killing, the case was given to Inspector Sandi Gallant. She had recently handled the local investigations in the wake of the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. Without knowing it, she had become the department's resident expert on religious extremists.

With the dead chicken in mind, Gallant reached out to Charles Wetli, then coroner of Dade County, Fla., and one of the country's top experts on Santeria, a religion brought to the Caribbean by West African slaves that's a little heavy on the use of poultry. Wetli told Gallant that the murderer would return the severed head to the scene of the crime in 42 days to complete the ghastly ritual.

"We literally were laughed at by our homicide investigators, and our chief of detectives," Gallant later recalled in the Los Angeles Times.

And as the 42 day mark neared, even Gallant was filled with self-doubt.  

"Our problem was, even though our homicide detectives didn't buy it, my partner and I weren't out there doing surveillance on the 42nd day either," Gallant said.

But sure enough, Carter's head turned up under a bush near Alvord Lake exactly 42 days later on March 22, 1981.

The murder of LeRoy Carter, Jr. remains unsolved.

"Yesterday's Crimes" revisits strange, lurid, eerie, and often forgotten crimes from San Francisco's past.


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Friday, July 31, 2015

Man Who Kidnapped School Bus Full of Children in 1976 Gets Parole

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 9:57 AM

  • Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Governor Jerry Brown has allowed the parole of 63-year-old James Schoenfeld, one of three men convicted in the 1976 kidnapping of 26 children and their school bus driver.

As the Chronicle reports, Schoenfeld, his brother, and a friend spent 18 months planning the crime; the trio hoped to get a $5 million ransom. The children and their bus driver, Ed Ray, were kidnapped at gunpoint in Chowchilla, a town in the San Joaquin Valley, and held hostage in an underground trailer at a secluded rock quarry in Livermore.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Brief Tour of Bill Cosby's Bay Area Haunts

Posted By on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 11:54 AM

  • Kate Haskell/Flickr

The San Francisco Bay Area must hold a special place in the heart of confessed philanderer and Quaalude connoisseur Bill Cosby. After all, one of the most famous stand-up routines from his 1960's heyday is “Driving in San Francisco.”

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Videos Shows Gentrification of San Francisco in 1963

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Road beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, circa 1963 - YOUTUBE/BRITISH PATHE
San Francisco inthe '60s hardly resembled the city we see now. Affluent bros weren't gliding through the Tenderloin on electric-powered skateboards; Market Street wasn't glittering with high-rise luxury condos or Michelin-starred eateries.

Old-fashioned lampposts and marquees for the Fred Astaire Dance Studio still lit up the city's downtown corridor, and residents could still buy vegetables at the wholesale produce market area.

And yet, as one 1963 newsreel on the "Changing Face of San Francisco" warned, the city was about to undergo a drastic remodel.

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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"