Terrorism: Irish Style
Set the WayBack Machine for August 1979…..Hey, this is better than Disneyland in 1971!!
The IRA blows Lord Mountbatten (cousin of Queen Elizabeth, nee Battenberg…..a reminder that the current British royalty are actually Krauts...zey ver not dere!) and his yacht almost in half. Better luck next time, lads….but he dies anyway. Cousin Princess Margaret is touring the US to raise money for Covent Garden Opera. In Chicago, she stops long enough to tell Mayor Richard Daley that “All Irish are pigs…….”
At the time, I was Irish…..and I was raising pigs….wild boar, actually. Margaret’s comments seemed somewhat…..uncool.
Margaret’s next step on her fundraising voyage after Chicago was San Francisco. The Fairmont Hotel. My partner Frank and I thought…..hmmmm: “Paybacks are a Margaret-fucker.” We had the idea to take her a Real Irish Pig.
So…..we bundled dear Jiggs up in some towels and took off for The City. Jiggs was the new daughter of Christmas, pictured above. Maybe twenty pounds, and cute as a button. Daddy Christmas had been caught….on Christmas…..at the Search Ranch in deep Carmel Valley. (The little shed where he was born has still not yet fallen down….it is across the road from Cate and Ben’s house). Christmas was a pure-bred, bad-ass, old-school wild boar.
Frank and I arrived at The Fairmont around noon to case the joint. We had brought cook coats, aprons, tuxedos, suits….all the costumes we thought would get us into the kitchens or dining rooms of the Fairmont long enough to enable us to present Dear Maggie with her Irish Pig.
Turns out….mere weeks after Mountbatten getting blown up, security was TIGHT. Lotsa guys with plastic ear-pieces roaming around everywhere. The Secret Service, the CHP dignitary protection guys, and the SFPD weren’t bad….but the MI6 guys….. They can smell an Irishman at 100 paces. They can smell a CATHOLIC Irishman at 50 paces. Less. We prowled around, tried to be cool. Got scared.
We bailed. Meanwhile, the Irish had gathered. There were crowds in the little park in front of The Fairmont. The cops had also started to gather: horses, guys with riot clubs and shields, battle wagons. Who knew? We just had a pig for the princess.
It didn’t take long for the shit to hit the fan. Usually all it takes is a cop and and Irishman. Oftentimes, they are the same guy. More Irish arrived, and more horses, more shields and more clubs. After all it was a Monday. Which is more fun? TV football or a riot?
Also, it didn’t take long for the Irish to discover Jiggs. “Ooohhh, lads. Whut a loovley peeg!” When we shared our Maggie ambitions, immediately everyone said, “You must speak with Warren!”
Warren turned out to be Warren Hinckle, editor of Ramparts Magazine (Warren Hinckle single-handedly started all conspiracy theories about JFK’s assassination: I think he was pissed about the name of the Commission). Warren wears a patch over one eye, like a pirate. His bassett hound Bentley, also wears a patch. Warren's drinking buddy was Hunter Thompson. Like that.
Right off the bat, Hinckle was on top of it: “We must talk with Paddy!” This was Paddy Nolan, owner of the Dovre Club in the Mission. As an old-time publican, Paddy knew every cop in San Francisco. A plan was hatched.
“Paddy will go inside and clear out all the San Francisco cops. You boys put on yer tuxes, go around the corner, catch a fookin’ cab, tell him to take you to the fookin’ Fairmont. Trust me!! Then…..like the vicar said to the striptease artist….’It’s joost oop, and in!!’”
So we did. We caught a cab in front of the PU club: “Take us to The Fairmont.” Cabbie:”It’s a block!” Me:”Just do it!”
Jiggs at that point let out a squeal, and freaked the cabbie out. As he pulled up to The Fairmont and saw the massed demonstrators and the lines of cops on horses and all the clubs and shields, he double-freaked. “I can’t do this!”
“Fuck you….here’s a twenty! Just drive!” The cabby actually stopped right next to an armored cop on a horse.
Meanwhile, Paddy was working the door. The lobby bar was open with the game on, so even MI6 couldn’t keep him out. Paddy buttonholed each policeman: “Say….isn’t your name McGillicudhy? Didn’t your father work in the 4th Precinct? Right. Well, listen…..the lads are having a wee bit of fun with the Brits. Why don’t you come into the bar and have a wee dram?”
The cabby punched it and charged the police lines, right into a cue of big limos. He was so freaked that he passed on the right, jammed on the brakes and dumped us right on the red carpet. Just like the Oscars, the TV cameras were rolling. Frank and I jumped out in our tuxes, clutching Jiggsy, as the cab pealed out. Just behind us I could see Clarissa Dyer slinking from her limo….our first real socialite client. She had just hosted a party we did for Jerry Ford and Clint. Oh well! Pigs happen!
Frank and I walked up, cool as can be, through the TV lights and reporters, right past the Secret Service guys and the CHP. We crossed the lobby untouched and walked right up to the door of the ballroom, where the MI6 guys waited. At this point, I was supposed to charge the door and throw Jiggs into the room.... and run.
But….the pig had been soooo nice. Never peeed once the whole day, sweet as can be. I hesitated. Fucking sentimental Irish! Wham!! We were buried in big, strong British assholes.
Long story short: we were eventually released. They gave us our pig back. She lived to a ripe old age. The Chronicle next day had MY picture on the front page, not Clarissa Dyer’s. We never heard from her again.
And….I have never had to buy a drink or a meal in an Irish bar in San Francisco since.