The Name Game

The thing about Bolinas names… (Everyone’s got at least two)

My wife, Robin, who goes by only one name, is quick to point out that the majority of people from Bolinas have more than one name. I tell her that I am just “Alex,” so that can’t be true. But she counters with the fact that my family calls me “Sandy” — so technically I have two names.

It’s also true with the rest of the people in my family, she says. My brother “George” is called “Hacsi,” which is a Hungarian nickname. He has a nickname of his own that he also uses. Timmy is “Tim,” but to his friends, he is still “Face.” Little sister Patricia Lorraine (really two names!) changed her name first to Pazzi and then to Trishna. My sister Credence, who was named after the 1970’s band Creedence Clearwater is Hermione to nearly everyone. Youngest sister Mary felt her name was just too normal for Bolinas – until she started spelling it Mairrey. Our mother had dubbed her “Mary Popsicle.”

But that’s not what Robin is talking about, she says. It’s the other people that live there with the really “unusual” nicknames. Strange to the rest of the world, that is. I maintain that Bolinas is a melting pot where many people can showcase their duality (and often do).

It started in the late 1960’s when Lorraine Barrow, the mother a classmate, changed her name to “Tui.” It was difficult to call her by this new name. We all knew her as Lorraine. It was difficult, I mean, until Judith Weston, another classmates parent, changed her name to “Mosquito Hawk.” Judith has since shortened her name to just “Hawk.”

“San Jose Bob” was really Robert Pope. “Boaz” was actually Donald Lawson.

“Planet Janet” was Janet Sharpe. Janice Thompson was known as “Crazy Janice”

for years. She may have been crazy but she could sure play a mean classical piano.

We had a fabulous fellow named “Bald Eagle,” and as far as I know, an unrelated chap called “Bird Brother.” Dean Greenstreet was “The Mayor.” We named him that one

night after crashing an “Aries” party. The name stuck, and for years after Greenstreet was

interviewed by countless media outlets as being the Mayor of Bolinas.

We had “Backyard Steve,” who liked to hang out in the backyard at Scowley’s. He had the tattoo of a black widow spider on his arm, and he painted a pretty mural on the

restaurant’s bathroom wall. He came back years later – and the legs of the spider had all

been connected. It was now a flower. And Steve was now happy. Speaking of Scowley’s,

people used to call Randy Fontan “Cap’n Spatch,” and who can forget that Greg

Fontan will always be “Herb Coon,” which was later shortened to just “Coon.”

When I was younger, I couldn’t imagine anyone naming their child “Eat-Dog.” Over the years I see that he is a respectable man, and I’m sure it’s a perfectly fine name. The name Tree House John, however, is one that John despises. Let’s set the record straight. His real name is John Banuski.

Aquarius John, who many thought set the school on fire, was mean and grizzly John Koloff. Don’t be confused: Another fellow, Aquarian Erik, is actually mellow Erik


From Canada we had “Bicycle Tim,” who performed public service by sweeping the streets and keeping bad guys away from vulnerable businesses late at night. Also from Canada, Dharma Badger (aka Mikal Huber), who vindictively chats about his old

chum, Bicycle Tim, on the yahoo “Bolinas” page.

“Unemployed Ed” finally got a job. He was also known as “Tinker.”

To confuse matters, we had another fellow, Larry Freemen, who was more commonly known to his friends as “Captain Tinkerpaw.” Then there was Seth, who wore a green Star Trek shirt every single day. He couldn’t just be Seth. It was less confusing for everyone to call him “Star Trek Seth.”

What would Bolinas be without “Long Linda”? Or for that matter, “Barley,” who is now living as Barbara, a housewife and mother in Cotati. While we’re thinking of Barley, was her former boyfriend’s name really “China”? It is possible but not common from a cultural perspective.

“Hatchet Face” and “Whiskey Shits” should not be mentioned here, as these two

individuals didn’t choose the nicknames. Neither did Holy Joe, but he makes the list

anyway. Hey, does anyone know if his name was even Joe?

Stinson Beach expatriate John Grissim points out that I accidentally omitted the famous Keith Lampey, who we all know as “Ponderosa Pine.” Dave Murray chimes in with a reminder to remember Ponderosa’s girlfriend, “Olive Tree,” as well as a person named “French Patty” and good old “Pluto Maroon.”

As far as anyone knows, Beta’s real name was Beta! And Mim was really Mim!

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