In those days, I'd encounter people I'd known in San Francisco over in Berkeley, especially around Telegraph Avenue.
One was Jeff Berner, a poet I'd met back in 1963 in the city who was trying with some difficulty to become a publisher of small volumes of poetry. So I bought a copy back then and we chatted and he eventually gave me his picture, which he had used on the back of one of the books. We met up originally outside of City Lights and talked about his poetry books, but he didn't have any with him nor were they in City Lights just yet. Or maybe they had been in City Lights and he'd had to collect most of them because they weren't selling as well as some of the other volumes and just taking up too much room on the tables, or something. So we rode on the bus together to go retrieve a copy of the poetry book. For some reason his photograph has survived the rigors of my stewardship to this very day, although many other photographs have been lost to me. I'm sure I kept it to remind myself that publishing books and such was a possibility because in 1963 I'd actually known someone who'd done just that.
(Stylists please note, men's beards were getting a little wilder just five years later in the later 60s)
A little earlier than Leviathan, in 1964 or maybe 1965 I'd encountered Jeff again at the Mediterranean Coffee House and he gave me a nickle. Maybe a quarter.
He gave me a small coin and asked me to put it in the parking meter across the street by the light blue sports car once the red flag came up. He warned me to be careful.
So I went across the street and was turning the crank, and the ratcheting turn of the crank, then the metallic sound of that coin hitting the small basket of other metal coins inside the head of the meter meant the coin had dropped and been accepted and more time was allotted. When this man in a suit came up and started harranging me about "feeding the meter" and what I was doing was illegal.
"That's a violation of the law!"
The man yelling at me was then (as it turned out) a Berkeley city councilman and he had taken it upon himself as an extension of his councily duties to patrol Telegraph Avenue and look for parking violators, maybe direct parking, and otherwise police the vehicular traffic in the area. Not just vehicular traffic, it seemed, as he was shouting at me, too, remember, so he was out to somehow control people's behaviors, too, and kick us all into line, and he had no compunction about using loud, rude behavior and words to do so. Then he threatened to call "parking enforcement" (and he actually began twisting and turning to see if he could locate a meter maid who might be in vicinity or driving by) so I just left, because my current mission in life (a small favor for a poet I knew) had been accomplished.
That man who yelled at me reminded me of all the cranky little old men who used to sit on the city council in Claremont before I left who passed their laws for themselves down there. The ones who outlawed the electric golf carts the retired missionaries used to drive into town. They're everywhere, I said to myself.