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Remembering the GOOD TIMES and Richard Gaikowski with “Becky Sharp”

Written on:February 10, 2011
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Film maker and writer Richard Gaikowski has been named as a Zodiac “suspect” by an informant known as Blaine Blaine aka “Goldcatcher” aka “Zakatarious,” and by Tom Voigt, owner of the website Zodiackiller.com. Blaine first accused Gaikowski in the late 1980s and he contacted virtually every law enforcement agency involved in the Zodiac investigation– every single agency dismissed his claims and concluded that Blaine was a crackpot with no credibility. Despite Blaine’s obvious and ongoing credibility problems, Tom Voigt and his associate David Morris have chosen to endorse Blaine as a credible and reliable informant while they publicly accuse Gaikowski of the Zodiac crimes.

Blaine worked with Richard Gaikowski in the late 1960s as part of the Good Times newspaper. Blaine wrote a column titled “Copwatch” and Gaikowski worked at the paper from mid-1969 until the paper closed in 1972. The Good Times was one of the most popular underground newspapers in the Bay Area during its run and, like most counter-culture publications, the paper adopted the tone of the times with anti-establishment articles and consistent criticism of police tactics and acts of brutality. As part of his efforts to accuse Gaikowski, Tom Voigt has repeatedly suggested that Gaikowski and others involved in the production of the Good Times promoted a violent, extremist philosophy, and that they used the newspaper itself as a front for such beliefs. On his website, Voigt wrote: “In 1969, 1970 and 1971, Gaikowski was the editor of an anti-police, pro-violence counterculture newspaper in San Francisco called Good Times… As early as January 1969, the Good Times newspaper was running violent works of fiction that were nearly a blueprint for Zodiac’s future crimes.”

Despite Voigt’s theories and claims, the history of the Good Times demonstrates that the newspaper was simply a product of the era and reflected the sentiment popular among those in the counter-culture movement. Voigt’s description of the Good Times as a “pro-violence” publication is an exaggeration, a distortion designed to support his baseless accusations that Gaikowski was somehow responsible for the Zodiac crimes. While Gaikowski and others may have embraced the anti-establishment, anti-police stance of the day, there is no evidence that Gaikowski endorsed the kind of violence committed by the Zodiac, who stabbed a young couple, executed teenagers, and murdered an innocent cabdriver. The issues of the Good Times strongly suggest that Gaikowski and others at the paper did not endorse violence against innocent human beings. In fact, the most pro-violence writings found in the pages of the Good Times were often written by Blaine in the column “Copwatch.”

Virtually every single person who has had any experience dealing with Blaine Blaine will immediately note that he apparently suffers from some form of mental illness and that he has no credibility whatsoever. In his lengthy, recorded “audio confession,” Blaine tells a sensational story, often in direct conflict with the known facts and even contradicting his own, previous accounts. This recording demonstrates, beyond any doubt, that Blaine Blaine is not a credible person and that no honest person could accurately describe him as a reliable informant. In contrast, many people who knew Richard Gaikowski do not believe that he was the kind of person who could or would commit the Zodiac crimes. [Read a transcript of Goldcatcher's Confession.]

As part of my research into the accusations against Richard Gaikowski, I have gathered information from various sources which provides the important facts regarding the history of the Good Times newspaper and the history of Gaikowski’s chief accuser, Blaine Blaine aka “Goldcatcher” (this information is available by visiting the links listed at the end of this article). I also sent messages and inquiries to various people associated with the Good Times newspaper.

In response to one of my many email inquiries, I received a message from a woman named Becky. She was once a member of the Good Times collective and worked on the Good Times staff, living and working with Richard Gaikowski in the house at 2377 Bush Street in San Francisco. Today, Becky is an instructor of sociology at a public university where she still lives by the beliefs which guided her during the days in the counter-culture movement, and she focuses on issues of race, gender, and even prison reform. In response to my initial email, Becky wrote that she was surprised by the email and that “this was kind of trippy to read, as you can imagine.” After we exchanged more emails, Becky and I finally spoke by phone in a conversation which lasted almost two hours. Becky shared her memories of Richard Gaikowski and provided a portrait which bears little resemblance to the picture painted by Voigt and his associates.

BECKY aka BECKY SHARP

Like many young people in the late 1960s and early 1970s, “Becky” was a free-spirit who wanted to change the world. She left her home in Illinois, traveled to Boston and ultimately wound up in what had then become the Mecca for those drawn to the counter-culture movement– the streets of San Francisco. In August 1970, Becky was traveling with a male companion, and the two were hitchhiking through the Bay Area when a passing driver offered them a ride. The driver was Richard Gaikowski. “Dick picked me up hitchhiking,” Becky said with a fondness in her voice.

Once they were in the car and moving down the road, Gaikowski introduced himself and explained a little about his background, including the fact that he wrote for an underground newspaper and was part of a collective. Becky had some experience working as a paste-up artist, and, hearing that Gaikowski worked for a newspaper, she asked, “You aren’t looking for a paste-up artist, are you?” She explained that she had done such work in the past, and Gaikowski replied that a couple of collective members had recently moved on to other things and the newspaper could use her skills. They shared more about themselves, and Dick eventually invited her to check out the Good Times house and meet the other members of the collective. Becky accepted the invitation.

Dick introduced Becky to the others and, after a thorough process of making sure she was who she claimed to be, she was welcomed into the group. She was given her own large room in the basement down the hall from where the newspaper was prepared. (Dick lived in a smaller room on the second floor). Becky then became one of the principle collective members to paste-up the publication, and she later wrote a few stories of her own.

Everyone shared the responsibilities of the collective: writing and taking photographs for and preparing the newspaper for printing, distributing the published editions, selling ads, cooking meals, cleaning the house and performing whatever household tasks were necessary to ensure the production of the newspaper and the keeping of an orderly existence. Everyone shared the money earned by the newspaper and everyone contributed to the common cause. “Some people specialized in particular tasks if they were especially good at them, but everybody had to do their fair share and there was no avoiding housework or cooking. It was a collective,” Becky recalled, “And all responsibilities were shared.”

Being a member of the Good Times collective and newspaper staff meant being part of a community. Becky remembers that the newspaper was so popular and well respected in San Francisco neighborhoods that the members could enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant and then simply sign for the check. Due to its coverage of the music scene, the house also received copies of the latest releases. “We got all the new music,” Becky said, “We got it for free… and free tickets, too.” Local businesses were also willing to negotiate for advertisements in the Good Times. “A lot of advertising was bartered,” she recalls.

The group members held weekly meetings to discuss collective matters and the upcoming edition of the Good Times. “We started pasting it up on Monday afternoon,” Becky explained, and the edition was taken to the printer “on Wednesday (I think it was) at dawn.” During her time in the collective, Becky did much of the newspaper paste up.

According to Becky, no one was “in-charge” of the newspaper or the collective itself. “There was nobody who called the shots,” she explained, “There was no father figure, no editor.” Becky said that Richard Gaikowski was the only collective member with experience working for a mainstream newspaper, and he was therefore treated with respect and admiration. “He didn’t seem to have anything to prove,” Becky remembered, “and I think that’s one of the reasons people respected him.” Becky described Richard Gaikowski as “a quiet guy… not pushy or aggressive… he had a wry sense of humor…he was very mellow… a quiet, nice guy.”

Becky enjoyed the community spirit and wholly embraced the collective lifestyle, using the pseudonym “Becky Sharp.” Eventually, she even wrote two stories for the newspaper- the first focused on a local con man, and the second was a thorough account of the murders of the Ohta family in the Santa Cruz area at the hands of John Linley Frazier in October 1970. Dubbed “the hippie murderer” by the press and the public, Frazier became a lightning rod of controversy which cast a dark shadow over the counter-culture community, and many members of the movement worked against the negative image created by the killer’s brutal crimes.

Becky joined the collective in August 1970; she stayed through the fall and up to Christmas of that year when she moved on to other things. The Good Times collective eventually disbanded and the popular newspaper published its last issue in August 1972.

Becky

ON THE RECORD

Becky was puzzled by Tom Voigt’s claim that the famous “Haight-Ashbury switchboard” at 1830 Fell Street was somehow known as “the Good Times switchboard” or connected to the newspaper in any manner. Becky said that the Good Times collective and newspaper had no connection with the Haight-Ashbury switchboard or that address. “We had our own telephone and had no need for the switchboard or any need to use its address for any reason that I knew of.” [Read more about Voigt's attempts to mislead the public on this issue in the article The "Good Times Switchboard" & Revisionist History.]

Becky was also offended by the portrait of the Good Times collective presented by Tom Voigt and Zodiackiller.com. She adamantly refuted claims that collective members promoted or condoned acts of violence and she challenged Voigt’s version of events. “The house was nothing like what has been portrayed,” Becky explained. “I never heard anybody say anything incendiary… I never saw anything that could be misconstrued.” She added that some people in the Haight-Ashbury crowd sometimes spouted violent rhetoric but noted, “They were not in the Good Times collective.” She said that individuals openly promoting a violent philosophy would not have fit in as members of the collective when she was there. Becky was equally adamant that the newspaper was not a front for any twisted or violent philosophy. “The rashest thing I ever knew them to do was publish pictures of undercover cops… There was no bullshit-coverup-foolishness for some weird agenda.”

Becky worked and lived with Richard Gaikowski, and she found it difficult to believe that he could have been the infamous “Zodiac killer.” After reviewing some of the sensational and dubious claims made by Gaikowski’s accuser Blaine Blaine, Becky was even more skeptical. She did not know Blaine, she had no memory of ever meeting him, and Becky did not believe that he was a credible person. “I had a terrible time buying it,” she said, “I mean, if none of the stuff about the collective is true- and you HAVE to believe all of that wild-eyed stuff to believe the rest- then that makes me doubt Blaine’s allegations about Dick as well.” Becky simply saw no legitimate basis for the accusations against Gaikowski. “Was it possible? Living with him, etc., day in and day out? That wasn’t at all consistent with the guy I knew… I never saw anything that would indicate that he was that kind of person.”

Becky made her opinion clear: “Based on what I saw and knew of him for the five months we lived and worked together, I have to believe that Dick was not a murderer.” Tom Voigt and Blaine Blaine have consistently failed to produce any credible evidence to implicate Richard Gaikowski in the Zodiac murders or any other crimes- a strong indication that Becky’s assessment of Richard Gaikowski was correct.

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Copyright 2011 Zodiackillerfacts.com/Michael Butterfield

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You can find more information about Richard Gaikowski, Blaine Blaine, the Good Times newspaper and other related subjects at the following links:

* Richard Gaikowski and Blaine Blaine – The Rest of the Story

* The San Francisco Express Times aka the Good Times

* Tom Voigt, “The Good Times Switchboard” & Revisionist History

* Let the Good Times Roll

* San Francisco Chronicle story on the death of Richard Gaikowski

* Samples of Gaikowski’s Handwriting

* Nancy Slover’s Voice Identification

* Tom Voigt, David Morris and MYSTERYQUEST

* A Blaine By Any Other Name

* Blaine Blaine – The Letters

* Goldcatcher’s Audio “Confession”

* Blaine Blaine – The “Copwatch” Columns

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