“Mad, Stark Mad”

Thirty-five years after “defecting” to the Barbary Coast, the bestselling novelist still loves his city by the bay

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  • That Billie Holiday was busted for drugs in a room at the Mark Twain Hotel.
  • That the ashes of gunfighter Wyatt Earp were buried in a Jewish cemetery south of San Francisco so that his beloved widow could later be interred with him.
  • That Jack Kerouac wandered away from Neal Cassady's cottage on Russian Hill to stumble upon Joan Crawford, larger than life in pumps and a fur, shooting Sudden Fear in the fog.
  • That the Twin Peaks bar at Castro and Market was the first gay bar in America to have windows on the street, making the patrons visible to the general public.
  • That Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, like Rosie and Kelli O'Donnell, were married at San Francisco City Hall.
  • That Jeanne Bonnet, a swashbuckling lass who frequented the brothels of the Barbary Coast dressed as a man, later convinced some of the prostitutes to flee their pimps and join her own all-girl band of pickpockets.
  • That the Lusty Lady, a modern-day Barbary Coast establishment on Kearny Street, struck its own blow against the exploitation of women when, in 2003, it became the first worker-owned peep show in the nation.
  • That in 1927 a fresh-faced young Mormon named Philo T. Farnsworth transmitted the world's first television image in a laboratory at the foot of Telegraph Hill.
  • That the brain of Ishi, the last "wild" Native American and a one-time San Francisco celebrity, was returned to California in 2000 after spending almost a century in a Smithsonian Institution warehouse in Maryland.
  • That among the words San Francisco has given the dictionary are beatnik, yuppie, hippie, hoodlum and shanghaied.

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