Cover of May 2011 Common Ground magazine featuring an illustration of a baseball player in a San Francisco Giants uniform pitching, with headlines about local community topics.

May 2011

The Bay Pride Issue

Until now, in the 37-year history of Common Ground magazine, there had never been a sports master on our cover. Maybe last year’s Bay Pride issue, with Master Yoda on its cover, got close. He was an emblem of Bay Pride insomuch as the whole Jedi phenomenon grew out of Marin County and not Hollywood.

Everyone who lives here is aware of the SF Giants’ place in history. The newspapers can’t get enough of it: that ragtag group of “misfits and outcasts” who stunned the nation by winning the World Series. While baseball is not typically Common Ground territory, misfits and outcasts who champion in the end? We love that stuff.

As such, it is an honor to have ace opener (and resident longhair) Tim Lincecum throw the first pitch of our May edition. And to have ace closer (and resident wild man) Brian Wilson represented on our Last Word page. Between our opener and our closer, we think you’ll find many great innings’ worth of insightful reading on our favorite subject: Bay Pride.

Phil Goldberg delivers a terrific essay, “Cable Cars to India,” on the long history of our being a gateway to the mysticism of the East. Similarly, Dave Kupfer has contributed a knowledgeable overview of the local emphasis on ecology. We’ve so much to be proud of in these two areas: the marchers and the meditators.

Our extensive interview with Warren Hellman is something of a humdinger, as he encapsulates Bay Pride astoundingly. Besides being the go-to banker for city officials looking for fiscal advice, he is a major local philanthropist, sustaining the legacy of his great-grandfather Isaias W. Hellman, who immigrated here from Germany in the 19th century, starting out as a dry goods clerk, only to become the preeminent banker financing the infrastructure of California.

Besides his private philanthropy, Warren gifts the city a gigantic free concert every year in Golden Gate Park called Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. Estimates are that upwards of 600,000 attend HSB over the course of three days, making him something of a folk hero (no pun intended) in these parts. Warren defines Bay Pride through the lens of a Jew whose family was tolerantly received here over 150 years ago, thus averting the anti-Semitism that existed elsewhere. I hope you enjoy this hardly strictly conventional interview.

Thanks for your kind response to the April issue. It was well received at the various Green events we attended, notably Green Festival, Earth Day SF, Deep Green, and New Living Expo. The “yogi bear” on the cover made many smile and drew several calls asking whether the bear is real. It is.

The weather is warming up, and the music festival season is upon us. In anticipation of June’s Music issue, we’ve already checked out some great concerts. Notably, we caught Paul Simon’s performance at the Fillmore. What an intimate treat with a master songwriter.

Thanks for reading. Keep up the pride. Let us know your thoughts at [email protected].

Still crazy after all these years,


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