Thursday, June 14, 2012
A post at Firedoglake this morning is partly a remembrance of the great '60's street preacher Holy Hubert, before it branches into contemporary politics. Hubert used to haunt Sather Gate, at the end of Telegraph Avenue and beginning of the UC Berkeley campus, admonishing the heathen and haranguing for the Lord.
He also crossed the water on Friday and Saturday nights, to tirelessly hold forth on the corner of Columbus and Broadway in San Francisco, which is mostly where I remember him from, since that was my neighborhood.
Hubert was a very effective speaker, with a loud, raspy voice that overpowered the hecklers and conveyed an extreme, very urgent message. The preacher pounded relentlessly on the few themes that are the stuff of hot-headed evangelism -- that we are wicked people, that we are doomed, that only Jesus can save us; that he gladly will if only we ask him to. No matter how many times he repeated himself, the pitch always appeared to seem new and fresh to him, as if he was grabbing each listener by the shirt and hollering in his face, "I got something I gotta tell ya!"
I could never subscribe to Hubert's religion, but it didn't take me long watching his great delivery to figure out that I liked him a whole lot better than the people who mocked him. One night at Broadway and Columbus, a sparse crowd stood around the little man waiting for something to happen. Four partiers, two male-female couples dressed in evening clothes and half soused came strolling into the picture. They began laughing at the overheated preacher, and stood in a clump, grimacing, congratulating themselves on their sophisticated coolness. I remember clearly contrasting in my mind the sincere, poverty-struck, fanatical facial expression of the fire-and-brimstone preacher with the silly grins and misplaced egotism of the four decadent nudniks who came into the picture like a prop sent from central casting.
I don't know whatever happened to Holy Hubert. I do know that just about all us proletarians are muddling along pretty much as we were back then 45 years ago, without a whole lot of money and without Jesus.