The Coastal Post - September 1999

The Bolinas Witch Project: Epicenter Voodoo

By Stephen Simac

The letter was cryptic and anonymous, addressed to Kirby Ferris the Coastal Post libertarian, millenarian columnist, plaintively asking for a story about the witches of Bolinas. Bolinas is a coastal hamlet well known for its fine dining establishments, perhaps witches were brewing the coffee, I mused. Could be the makings of a movie script like the Blair project.

I asked Kirby what he knew of the subject at the Parkside restaurant in Stinson Beach one morning. "Bolinas, I never go there without a sidearm and a nut net. There was a coven in Seadrift in the 80's, divorced women having sex with Satan, or his standup."

Kirby didn't want to investigate, he's busy stockpiling food and ammo. I would have to do some research, not much, just enough to find the place. Bolinas has a habit of removing road signs pointing towards town which gained them more media fame than skywriting advertising could have. Kinda like an ostrich with it's head in the sand and a neon two mile sign on it's butt.

I wasn't worried about getting lost, I had a guide. The Bolinas Witch Project had a cameraman who said he knew the way. We'd copy the Blair Witch movie, shaky camera, limited plot line and all. Chip O'Block specialized in art films like that and he'd work for drugs. I'd have to parcel them out carefully to keep him on task.

I read about the town in the National Enquirer, and one fact stood out. We were going to need a lot of drugs to make any headway there. The traditional offererings of trade goods would have to be made to the natives, and Bolinasians were reputed to only value goods which altered their minds, and they had built up a tolerance. After a curvaceous trip to the coast, we drove down the unmarked road to the town that fought to feed itself. Parking in front of the bombed out gas station we got some scary shots of the place. It looked like the FBI had fenced off an Unabomber attack. Endangered species were living in the moats where the gas tanks had been.

Our filming drew over some media hams, local drunks. "Get out of here you tourists. Dya got any beer?" one growled at us. We had some cases of the cheap, green cans but they wouldn't go far around here, something told me.

"What do you know about the witches of Bolinas?" I offered to trade beer for dirt. "The last witch died a couple months ago, she couldn't breathe around here, had to give up singing" I passed around a sixpack and they got way too friendly. It was hard to breathe too close to this gang, so we went up to Smiley's, the bar, where they had a different breed of drinkers.

The Bartender on was Willie Less, and he knew a lot about the witches of Bolinas, but they mostly consisted of his ex- girlfriends. This project was going nowhere and it was already 4:20. The film team would have to repair to the star's trailer with some locals to persuade them to open up. Indica Sue and her pal Boastme Now, were laconic at first, but we hoped to feed them chocolate and vapors 'til they talked. We were down several candy bars before we switched to likker. With the right incentives the local's reputation for shyness dissolves and Sue became downright loquacious. "There aren't any witches in this town, only goddesses, but the men around here suck. Or never long enough anyway. That anonymous scumbag probably can't get it up and he blames some witch for hexing him. There are a lot of gossipers in this town, they're worse than witches, they need to get a life instead of sucking juice out of everyone


Boastme had a different take, "This town is full of wannabe witches, the women are all lunachicks. They just don't know how to get results. Now down in Miami where I'm from the Cubans and Haitians are all into Santeria and Voodoo, sacrificing chickens and making Living Dead zombies with voodoo pickles. Around here the we've got plenty of zombies, but they've pickled themself, and you can't get em to work."

We slunk slowly out into the street to slurp from some sybils, if we could find them. It was looking more and more unlikely. We wandered into a few stores, which had some voodooo objects, but the women accused us of sensationalism, and lectured us about wicca, and herbal healing, and how the Church had persecuted women for withces to eliminate competition with their healing relics.

We waited for food at a few eateries, but it was the same day service all over town, so we dipped into our cooler for sustenance and attitude adjustment. The yellowjacket wasps were vicious in the plaza, stinging small children to steal their sodas. There was a woman dressed in burlap and tin foil we wanted to film, but our bribes were futile, she was generating her own altered state.

It's a quaint enough town, half of it looked like it was waiting for disaster funds, the rest was situated on a fault line. The weather was cool and foggy, earthquake weather, everyone said later.

An earthquake is scarier than witches, at least when you're at the epicenter. We were filming inside one of the historic buildings left standing after the '06 Olema quake, when the ' 99 Bolinas one exploded with a sonic boom and a few seconds of serious shaking. I thought a larger person had fallen down the stairs at first. It was abrupt, loud and then it was over, before it could do much damage. The locals got giddy and began partying, doing jigs in the street, watching themselves on TV. A media horde descended rapidly on the hamlet, shoving us aside, while the publicity shy locals rehearsed their earthquake survival stories for interviews.

Partying after natural disasters is evidently what the town is best at, not witches, road signs, or water moratoriums.


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