A new edition of Franz Kafka’s diary has just been published in English. The New Yorker review explained the need for a new edition: Kafka’s close friend Max Brod, who compiled and edited Kafka’s diary after his death, had concealed his foibles. That’s why the name Brod rang a bell when I got this email on January 11:
From: Doug Brod
Subject: Interview request for SF counterculture book
Hi Fred, Doug Brod here. Hoping this note finds you well. I’m the former editor-in-chief of SPIN magazine, currently an editor at the Toronto Star, and the author of the book They Just Seem a Little Weird: How KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz Remade Rock and Roll (Hachette, 2020).
I’m now working on my next book for Hachette: It’s a cultural history of Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan, a project that has long been a passion of mine. Which is why I’m writing. I understand you had dealings with LaVey in the ’60s and I’d very much like to interview you.
My goal is to tell the story of Anton LaVey and the Church and place them in the context of the times, investigating their origins as well as their impact on the occult and esoterica-pop explosions of the ’70s, the so-called Satanic Panic of the ’80s, the alt/underground culture of the ’90s, and social and philosophical attitudes of the present day.
A New York native, I’m now based in Toronto, and my schedule is very flexible. Looking forward to connecting.
All best, Doug
Doug, you are mistaking me for another Fred Gardner, a journalist who wrote for the Berkeley Gazette in the 1960s. I did not know of his existence, or had forgotten about the coincidence by 1995, when I urgently needed to learn something about him (because he had purportedly done something that my leftist friends and acquaintances considered execrable). I’m on the road now but when I get home I’ll see if I can find “The Other Fred Gardner” folder in the garage.
I’m a NYer, too, and didn’t move to CA until ’66. My wife is from SF. In the early ’60s she was a secretary at a somewhat hip ad agency. She recalls that Anton Lavey moved in the same social circle as the ad men she worked for. Also, that he was a member of the musicians’ union –the only registered calliope player in the Bay Area! Some old-time Local Six members might remember him.FredPS Are you related to Kafka’s friend and editor Max Brod? That would be the icing on the cake that is your email!
Brod responded on January 15:
A-ha! That is indeed the Fred I was looking for. Sorry for the confusion… And alas, as it happens, my great-grandfather was the other Max Brod (from Russia), not Kafka’s editor. I believe we’ve come full circle.
While the ’49ers were getting killed today, I went online and found the other Fred Gardner:
Hoping the WGBH alum is still alive and kicking, and that he leads you to John Raymond or remembers something about Anton OiVey.
Wow! Nice work. By the way, this is you, right?
That’s me. What a trip down memory lane! I can see why Scheer wanted to scandalize my name, and I’m glad I put it in there that I hadn’t seen him since ’68 and that he might have changed. He has won my respect over the years… I wonder if the slander stuck in LA, if my name will forever be scandalized down there… It would explain my being ghosted, as they say nowadays, by certain people.The Gardner/Raymond session with the feds took place in November, 1967, exactly when I was in South Carolina setting up the UFO, a project that caused the feds a lot of grief. Was I the victim of a Cointelpro prank? That would be too much! My line had been ‘It wasn’t cointelpro that did in the new left leaders, it was their own opportunism.’
My effort in 1995 to get the facts about the other Fred Gardner so that I could prove I wasn’t him is a bizarre aspect of the Wanda Tinasky fiasco.At one point I turned to Ray McGrath, a detective with whom I had worked at an agency run by Jack Webb. Not the Jack Webb who played a detective in Dragnet (and who, incidentally, had begun his acting career in San Francisco) but the retired SFPD officer who ended up owning a bar on Geary Blvd, “Ireland’s 32.” Our Jack Webb said that having the same name as the Dragnet star had led to a promotion because “the brass loved it that every time I made a pinch it would mean a story in the newspapers.”
Note to Ray McGrath
Do you know Dylan’s great song “I and I?”
I and I, in creation where one’s nature neither honors nor forgives.
I and I, one says to the other no man sees my face and lives…
I want to hire you to find a man named Fred Gardner who wrote for the Berkeley Gazette between 1962 and ‘67. That’s basically all I know about him. The Gazette was a daily that went out of business c. 1970. They took a lot of material from the wire services and didn’t give many bylines. I spent a couple of dark, dismal hours looking through old Gazettes on microfilm at the Berkeley library on Kittredge and came up with 5 FG stories, one of which has a co-author. I also got the names of some former reporters and editors.
Here’s why I want to find him. As you know, I’ve been in a dispute with Bruce Anderson about a book I compiled that was revised and published by him and an associate named TR Factor. In October or November ‘95 I sent Bruce a detailed account of the work I’d done on the Tinasky book asserting my right to finish the job.His letter of reply consisted of nothing but a xerox of an old government document about a meeting in November ‘67 between Gardner of the Gazette, a man named John Raymond who worked for Ramparts, and two local SF FBI agents with whom they apparently hoped to curry favor. As you’ll see from the document, which is attached, Gardner and Raymond knew that an upcoming Ramparts expose about some CIA training program, was fraudulent, and that Warren Hinckle and Bob Scheer were going to publish it even though they knew that the author’s claim that he had been through the program was false. (It’s been over a year since I looked at it, I’ll pull it when I’m done drafting this…)
For a second, as I glanced at the document, I wondered, “Why is Bruce sending me this old bit of trivia?” And then I realized: He thinks I’m that Fred Gardner! And he thinks he has something on me so damning that he can rip off the Tinasky book with impunity!
First I called Mary Miles, the cartoonist, who has had her own falling out with Bruce. “Oh yeah,” she said, “He sent me a copy… I was gonna tell ya…” Sure she was. Must have slipped her mind.
Then I called Cockburn, who had made it clear he didn’t want to get caught in the middle in my dispute with Bruce. He apologized for not having discussed the document with me when he’d first seen a copy, which was back in August ‘95. He said, “Oliver Stone’s people were doing research for the Nixon movie and came across it and gave a copy to Scheer, who was quite troubled by it…” Alex also told me that Warren Hinckle had given a copy to Bruce Anderson’s nephew, Robert Mailer Anderson, and that Hinckle was ‘waving it all over town.’ David Fechhemier told me that Hinckle had sent Lipset a copy, and that Lipset had sent Herb Caen a copy. Great! My reputation as bitter madman who said all those bad things about our wonderful movement would now be replaced by ‘Didn’t you hear he was an agent?’ I told Cockburn that he should have notified me about it if he thought it was untrue and confronted me if he thought it was true —as a matter of principle, let alone friendship. The squire said he was sorry and that he knew he’d handled it badly. (While all this is going on I’m trying to wring out of him the few thousand dollars he’s owed me for a couple of years, and he and his well-to-do girlfriend are building a stable on their spread across the river.)
I called Marianne Hinckle, who remembered John Raymond from the early days of Ramparts. She thought he was still in SF or had recently moved away. She said she first saw the document at a party for Warren in the summer of ‘95. Bill Turner, who had requested Ramparts-related documents under the Freedom of Information Act, had turned it up and was showing it around at this party… So I guess Hinckle had a copy and Scheer had a copy as of that summer, and they both never knew or had forgotten that there was a Fred Gardner on the Berkeley Gazette. Scheer lived in Berkeley, but he was a Chronicle reader and he was more interested in international than local affairs (even though he ran for Congress. His constituency was “the Cuban people.”) If anyone should have remembered that there was another FG it would have been Frank Bardacke, whom Cockburn consulted for tactical advice. But I can’t blame Bardacke too much because I hardly remembered the other FG myself.
There are 2 John Raymonds listed with information, one, a reverend on Turk Street. I think Marianne told me John Raymond had become a reverend but I’m not 100 percent sure. Marianne is currently out of town. I called the number and got a man’s voice on the answering machine. He sounded like he was about 60, which would be about right.
I think you should call Raymond and ask him if he knows the whereabouts of the Fred Gardner who used to work for the Berkeley Gazette. [Paranoid fantasy: maybe Raymond lost track of the other FG after the ‘67 ploy, picked up an AVA c. 1990, and thought I was his old pal!] If he asks why, tell him the truth.
Alternative approach: tell him you want to show him a picture of a man named Fred Gardner, bring him a picture of me in the ‘60s and find out if it’s the same FG who worked for the Berkeley Gazette. I could even accompany you. The fact that he won’t recognize me can go in your report.
Plan C: Tell him you’re writing a history of Ramparts. Arrange a meeting. Arrive with the document and ask him to tell you the background and how it played out and whatever became of the other Fred Gardner?
* For those of you who weren’t reading the AVA in the late 20th century, I’ll summarize some relevant background. In 1984, soon after Bruce Anderson became editor and publisher, letters signed “Wanda Tinasky” had begun arriving. They were catty, erudite, and evidently written by someone living in Mendocino County.
Bruce drove us around the Anderson Valley that afternoon. As we passed the Roederer vineyard he didn’t comment on the quality of their wine but on the inadequate housing provided for their workers. Alex turned to me in the back seat, nodding as if to say, “We’ve found an ally.” He started writing for the AVA almost immediately and I began contributing occasional pieces. A few years later, after I got a job at UCSF and moved to San Francisco, I began a weekly column called “Notes From the City.”
Alex and I both came to consider the AVA our political home base. We hadn’t given up the idea of publishing books, and opened a checking account with the name of our firm. Our first title was going to be an AVA anthology that would feature pieces by the editor, who was in his prolific prime as a writer. “Every bit as good as Mencken,” Alex would blurb. Funny what sticks in memory and what doesn’t. I don’t remember how the decision was made that our first title should be The Letters of Wanda Tinasky. I think it was Marc Gardner, hired to go through the back issues to find the brightest gems, who asked “What’s the story with these Wanda Tinasky letters?” I said that when Bruce Anderson read “Vineland,” it occurred to him that the letters had been written by Thomas Pynchon, who had been living in Northern California back then…
“The other Fred Gardner, amazingly, I did know. For about 9 months in 1965-66, I was the S. F. Chronicle’s correspondent for Berkeley, which mainly meant the campus, and TOFG was my counterpart for the Berkeley Gazette. A somewhat older guy, stolid, impassive. I never talked to him enough to really get a feel for who he was, or saw him after that time. In the link in your email it says he started working for WGBH in 1954, so he must be approaching 90 if he’s still around.”