Episode 244: Ron Turner and Winston Smith
Ron Turner is running late. It’s impossible to find parking in North Beach this time of night. I’m nursing a whiskey upstairs as Cafe Vesuvio, the historic San Francisco bar, best known as a famed beat generation water hole. The crowd’s already getting noisy, but the founder of the legendary Last Gasp publishing house couldn’t have chosen a more perfect location for our conversation. An unfamiliar face waves hello, hands me copy of Last Gasp’s latest catalog and sits down at the table across from me. He introduces himself as Winston, a local artist. It slowly dawns on me that the man is Winston Smith, the collage artist who helped create the house style for San Francisco hardcore band, The Dead Kennedys. Suddenly it’s a group interview. Our conversation is wide ranging and occasionally on topic, fueled by multiple rounds of libation. There’s talk of working on the Bakersfield/Fresno train line, Cary Grant’s love of LSD, sending comics to John McCain and Fidel Castro, and how Allen Ginsberg indirectly helped kickstart Robert Crumb’s career. And, of course, the ever-changing face of San Francisco.
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