Well, as much as one can be well living on the streets of Berkeley. This report romanticizes a guy who once was a New York Times reporter but who decided taking acid was a preferable lifestyle, although he’s supposedly clean now. Naturally, he’s a big fan of the Occupy movement.
Mark Hawthorne hates you.
The former New York Times reporter, known as “Hate Man,” has lived on the streets of Berkeley for 25 years and in People’s Park for 10. He prefers living outdoors, doesn’t want a home and doesn’t consider himself homeless.
“I avoid the term “h-o-m-e-l-e-s-s,” said Hawthorne, spelling it out like other words he doesn’t like. “If I didn’t want a BMW, would you say I was “BMW-less?”
Hawthorne sits on a log in the park, next to a Webster’s dictionary with “Hate Camp” scrawled across the cover, trims the filter off a Virginia Slims and lights it. Wearing layers of black clothing with safety pins attached, floppy hat and fingerless gloves, he sips cold black coffee from a bottle festooned with colored plastic strips. He doesn’t drink alcohol or do drugs.
Hate got his name from espousing his philosophy of “oppositionality” in a tiny corner of People’s Park. His theory is that if people are honest with each other when they’re opposite, they’ll start to feel safe with each other.
“For me to trust a person and be comfortable with them, they have to be willing to say ‘I hate you,'” Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne, 75, was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Stamford, Conn. He served in the Air Force and also the Peace Corps, where he spent time living in Thailand. He spent 10 years at the Times, beginning in 1961 as a copy boy and working his way up to general assignment reporter.
“I was normal for 35 years,” Hawthorne said.
Well, as normal as a NY Times reporter can be, apparently.
On a trip to San Francisco to visit one of his Times’ colleagues, he tried LSD. Suddenly, he said, things clicked.
After the mind-expanding experience, Hawthorne was bored and no longer wanted to work at the Times. His marriage ended. He was hit by a drunken driver and had an emotional breakdown that caused him to stop speaking for a short time.
He quit the Times and moved to California in 1973.
“You can think I’m nuts, and society at large probably thinks I’m whacked, but I’m into the whole process,” said Hawthorne, who has two daughters that he’s not in touch with much. “I like being on the edge of things.”
If you get to close to Hate, however, you may hate the stench.
Hate said he wouldn’t live indoors even if someone gave him a place. He washes up in restrooms, so he “doesn’t get too rank,” but he doesn’t shower. He often eats out of the trash but he is discerning.
A longtime occupier himself, Hawthorne is fascinated by the recent Occupy movement, but is not in favor of people setting up tents in People’s Park.
“We’ve been occupying People’s Park for 42 years; it’s tricky enough to maintain this situation,” he said.
Still, he can’t help but admire the groundswell of Occupy activism.
“I’m really impressed by Occupy, dazzled by it even. It’s very powerful. No one knows what’s going to happen with it. If it keeps growing, it could change things in a very basic way,” he said.
Feel the Hate:
A better story would be with someone who cleaned themselves up 40 years ago and led a productive life.
Instead we get this burned-out bum.