Humble Beginnings

We (Ed, Kate, Bob) were (March 1979) sitting at a table (the now defunct New York City Deli at 16th and Market in San Francisco, Calif.) Talking about social ritual in society. How great Halloween is and where it came from and the why of it. How much we disliked what Xmas, Thanksgiving, 4th of July etc. have become in the commercialization and dubious history of it all blah blah and so on....

"And what about April Fools day?" we said "...What a wimpy American extension of a wild European day of license from the Middle Ages". (see the beginning of the Charles Laughton 'Hunchback of Notre Dame')...."Hey your shoe is untied...What's this spot on your tie..." Occasional hear tell of the elaborate prank but as an American comparison to the root and rant of it a flop in the grand in-the-street in-their-face thing it's meant to be. ( I had to research the history of fools for a college course so I thought I knew what I know ). In the continuing course of the conversation out of my mouth bopped the words 'Saint Stupid' ....The holy fool of yore had been renewed and renamed. Now all he needed was a format.

The olden day form was a flip off of the church, the temple. Today's temples were obviously (to me) the financial towers. Bingo...Lets have a parade to honor those houses of mammon. SF has a nifty little section of downtown devoted to imperious buildings, corporate headquarters, stock exchanges...Lets go there. And we did.

A flyer with the first image of our patron saint was sent out to numerous unemployed performer friends and lo, twenty was their number and foolish was their attire as they goofed it up in front of the Bank of America HQ. The next year forty fools, and the next it rained, and but ten did duty to the deity. But on the fourth it did fall on a Friday called Good by the papists and whoa did we make it better. A hundred and/or more danced a dizzy groove thru the street (on the sidewalk, no parade permit, no stinking badges) stopping at the Stations of Stupid that had developed by design and by glorious social serendipitous-ness over the years.

The weekend years (4 out of 17) the parade does an altered route up Columbus Ave from the pointy bldg thru the North Beach area to Washington Square Park for a First Church of the Last Laugh mini-service.

This last year's parade , the 17th annual (95), a Saturday, a thousand costumed followers with Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs as parade marshalls, with a giant Doggie Diner head on wheels pulled by cooks, with drums, horns, bands of loonies, all thronged together to honor saint stupid, patron saint of civilizations and parking meters.

Next year, 96 , it's a Monday, see you at the Embarcadero Plaza at noon. Dress for it!

-bishop joey


i was hanging out at the emarcadero plaza, foot of market st s.f. calif. had just overdosed on frozen yogurt and had gone into sinul seizure when a 600 foot pointy headed being appeared before me and lo i was sore afraid. it borrowed twenty bucks from me and dissapeared. me being a semi employed highly underpaid professional bozo i knew the only way to get my money back was to sell guns, drugs, real estate or religion. being too moral to sell guns, drugs or real estate but not moral enough to not sell religion i took the name BISHOP JOEY in honor of what i don't know and launched the FIRST CHURCH of the LAST LAUGH.