Citizen Tania

In an effort to build anticipation for my upcoming City Guide, “I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY RASH” I thought I’d publish a short excerpt from the 1st chapter which details my early memories of the city. This week tells the story of Patty Hearst. 

So without any further ado (Since ado is fat soluble and one could overdose) I give you:

 

Citizen Tania

 

I remember my first crush being Patty Hearst.  I think it might have been the beret.  They’ve always done something for me.  Faye Dunaway sure was cute in Bonnie & Clyde; I had a little thing for Monica Lewinski; and wasn’t Che dreamy?  I’ve since learned that Patty and I have the same birthday.  It’s possible that this fact is the source of my affinity for the young lady however one of those Daryl guys from “Newhart” shares our birthday and I feel nothing.

Born Patricia Campbell Hearst (Which could have been a problem had her parents gone by the name Needleman), Patty Hearst is the granddaughter of Orson Wells’ ingénue/publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, great granddaughter of mining magnate George Hearst and great great granddaughter of post-mortem transportation magnate William “Hoke” Hearse (His son George would later win the letter “T” in a poker game and decided it would look “rather smart” at the end of his name).         

Patty was born in San Francisco and grew up on the Peninsula, which is what we call the mass of land that connects San Francisco with San Jose – from the Latin, “Peninsula” meaning, peninsula.  She went to boarding school in Monterey, California but returned home to attend High School in Hillsborough to troll for older men.  She struck gold in one Mr. Steven Weed. 

A math teacher at Crystal Springs School for Girls Weed was 7 years Patty’s senior and he had a smooth rap with the sophomores.  He was a tall and slender pervert with long blonde hair and a mustache that had been surgically transplanted from a baleen whale.  By the time Steven secured a teaching fellowship at UC Berkeley he had already been tutoring (As the kids called it) Patty for 3 years. He eventually talked her into moving in with him after instructing his affluent pupil about his version of sine and co-sign. 

According to Weed’s book, “My Search for Patty Hearst – How yelling ‘Marco!’ Didn’t Work”, the couple lived a quiet and contented life just a few blocks south of the Cal campus.  “…pleasantly routinized (Quoted from a teacher mind you) with our studies, movies on weekends, laundromat and grocery runs . . . we were just two people… in love and planning to be married.”  But this domestic bliss would be shattered on the evening of February 4th, 1974:  The two had just finished dinner and were now enjoying an eerily prophetic episode of the Magician (You remember the one where Bill Bixby is performing on-board the Queen Mary when masked robbers interrupt his act and his friend, William Shatner, is blamed for the robbery and the Hulk sets out to prove his innocence) when Steven answered a knock at the door.  The stranger was Nancy Ling Perry a San Francisco native and topless blackjack dealer (Which seems about right).  She was flanked by Donald DeFreeze and Willie Wolfe.  The three were members of the Symbianese Liberation Army or NAMBLA.  They forced their way into the apartment and beat Steven with a wine bottle, claiming it was an intervention.  Patty was in her bathrobe and slippers and protested the kidnapping asserting that she looked “simply dreadful” but to no avail.  She was tied up and thrown into the trunk of a stolen 1964 Impala convertible. (Remember that.  It’ll be on the test)

Patty was taken to an apartment at 1827 Golden Gate Ave. (Now a Starbucks) in the Anza Vista neighborhood near Alamo Square.  The original plan was to trade Patty for two SLA members who had been arrested for the fatal shooting of Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster.  This was rebuffed by, then governor, Ronald Reagan in his famous “No dice” speech.  The group then took a populist tact and demanded that Patty’s father donate $70.00 worth of groceries to every person in California that was on government assistance.  Patty’s father responded that it would be impossible to feed everyone at the DMV and Caltrans.  Instead they decided to throw turkeys from the backs of trucks and the peasants rejoiced by beating each other up.  After three stabs at this charade all parties gave up and retired to their respective hovels and mansions.

 Patty Hearst and Steven Weed in happier times.

Patty Hearst and Steven Weed in happier times.

After 59 days of the ordeal, Patty emerged from the world’s smallest studio having been abused mentally, verbally, sexually, physically, emotionally (Parenthetically).  In an audio tape she stated that she was now known as Tonia and would be joining the SLA.  The assigning of aliases was apparently step number one during initiation.  Donald DeFreeze began the tradition by taking on the moniker, “Cinque” – a misspelling of the name Herbert.  Co-founding member, Patricia Soltysik took the name Mizmoon after converting to Korean.  Another of Patty’s abductors (And soon to be inamorato), Willie Wolfe assumed the handle Cujo with the dream of one day fronting his own band:  Cujo and the Rabies. (Incidentally, Stephen King named his book after Willie Wolfe’s pseudonym and his magnum opus, THE STAND, was inspired by Donald DeFreeze.  Has anyone ever checked this guy’s basement?)  The couple that Patty had spent most of her time with, William and Emily Harris went by the names Teko and Yolanda because, let’s face it, Teko and Consuela would have just sounded silly.  The tape was accompanied by a photograph of Patty standing in front of a flag with a seven-headed spermatozoa while holding a home-made machine gun and doing her best Russell Ziskey impression a la GUTS Magazine.

     

Patty’s new career path was met with skepticism by most until the infamous video footage from the Hibernia Bank robbery on April 15th, 1974.  That afternoon the Hibernia branch at 1450 Noriega St. (Now a Starbucks) in the Sunset District was robbed by five SLA members, one of which was Patty.  Now she was on the lamb along with her captors.  The group relocated to Los Angeles where most were killed in a fire fight with the police followed immediately by a fire fight with fire.  The remaining SLA members, William and Emily Harris and Patty decided to summer in Pennsylvania fugitive country.  While holed up in a farm house North of Scranton the three began to wear out their welcome with their benefactors, sports something-or-other Jack Scott and his wife Micki (Micki too had slipped past the authorities when it was discovered that she was under FBI surveillance for suspected possession of fineness with intent to blow someone’s mind).  It was decided that a new group of Symbianese back in San Francisco should take care of their own so they returned to the Bay Area along with newly introduced sympathizer Wendy Yoshimura.

The new line-up consisted of the Harrises, Patty and Wendy, Kathleen Soliah as well as her brother Steven and boyfriend Jim Kilgore.  Michael Bortin rounded out the group on bass and backing vocals.  The new army moved from safe house to safe house.  One location was at 288 Precita Ave. (Now a Starbucks) in the Bernal Heights District where William and Emily were arrested. And then at 625 Morse St. (Now a Hibernia Bank branch) in the Crocker-Amazon District where, just two hours after the Harris’ arrest, police found Patty and Wendy hosting a Tupperware party.

Randolph Hearst hired famed attorney F. Lee Bailey to defend his daughter but since she hadn’t murdered her ex-wife and a waiter his courtroom magic failed him.  Believing that she had been brain washed the defense contended that Patty’s actions were a text book example and direct manifestation of Stockholm syndrome.  This condition, where hostages develop positive feelings for their captors, was first noted after the Norrmalmstorg (What? Are vowels mined over there?) Bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden in August of 1973.  In that case several bank employees were held hostage in the depository vault from August 23rd to 28th.  During the standoff, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors.  So much so that they rejected assistance from government officials, defended their captors after they were freed and retired to the South of France when each received a windfall inheritance from a long lost uncle.  Unfortunately for the defense it was noted during the trial that Patty Hearst was not Swedish but rather of Scottish descent.  It was therefore determined that, if she had suffered from any disorder, at worst it would have been a Glasgow head butt.  She was not only found guilty of armed robbery but also of being a filthy porridge wog.  She was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to tip at least 15%.

After serving just 22 months Patty’s sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter under the condition that she halt all oil imports to the US.  He then said, “Oh wait a minute” and hung up.  And in 2001, just before leaving office, President Bill Clinton issued a presidential pardon betting on the off chance they might meet at one of John Waters’ Oscar parties.

I eventually outgrew my crush on Patty Hearst.  It might have been because of all the drama surrounding her life.  It might have been because I eventually matured and realized that it was just infatuation.  Or it might have been Valerie Bertinelli.  I wonder how she’d look in a beret.