Born in 1932, Chester Anderson arrived in the Haight-Ashbury from the East Village sometime in 1966 as a published science fiction novelist, music journalist and post-Beat, gregarious psychedelic counterculture scene veteran. During the Diggers period, he and business partner Claude Hayward ran the “communication company” (aka “com/co”), printing — and sometimes writing — broadsides submitted to them by Diggers and others, which were then distributed on the street. Chester departed the San Francisco scene sometime in 1967 for reasons not entirely clear, and died in 1991 at age 58. (For more on com/co, see Eric Noble’s diggers.org archive).
But unlike fellow Diggers Emmett Grogan or Peter Coyote, Chester did not — as far as I’m aware — write a memoir about the period. Through the com/co broadsides, contemporary news stories, a few personal letters to friends and various Diggers’ foggy memories, we know something of what Chester did and thought in the Haight in 1966-67. But as to how he later came to regard the period, with the wisdom that usually accrues from the passage of time? We’ve got nothing.
Or so I thought. Turns out Chester, who was gay, wrote two articles for counterculture newspaper The Seed in 1970. Called “The Revolutionary Gang,” these lovely, generous and typically Chester thinkpieces go into some detail about the workings of the Diggers, com/co, and the Haight. Chester ruminates on what worked during the period, and why. “The Revolution is the highest kind of fun,” he says, and “as a functioning social unit, the revolutionary gang has much to recommend it.” Here are some of Chester’s ideas on how to make the Revolution “in our new world borning.”
I’ve posted both articles below as PNGs. Click on each image for a larger PDF.