Friday, January 18, 2008

Family History of the Hallinans

Since my most recent days have been spent confined to an office with an unsavory totalitarian IT department that must censor all things fun, I have developed a love for Wikipedia and whimsical, unwarranted research.

Above: Terrence

Today, as I informed my former journalism advisor Conn Hallinan, I have been stalking his family history.
Conn Hallinan is a very special mentor to me and several--perhaps nearly all of--his former students from UC Santa Cruz. He meets with me whenever I have a career crisis, and has been a guiding light for several of my peers who value him greatly. He gave profoundly inspiring lectures on the value of journalism that nearly brought me to tears in my college days, usually dispensed while dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, jeans and cowboy boots.
He very rarely gave me any positive comments on my articles for his classes, which I completely respected. He did for my college newspaper work--but rarely for class assignments. One positive critique was about a gonzo peice on the life of a student reporter, and one was a commentary on a Wall St Journal article that I wrote as Karl Marx. I hung those assignments on my wall for nearly a year.

Conn also happens to come from the most amazing family in San Francisco history, perhaps even the country.

While I don't have enough time today to list all of the baffling things this family has accomplished, I can quickly list some of my favorite tidbits about Conn's family:

Father: Vincent Hallinan

-Vincent was a San Francisco lawyer who once tried to sue the Roman Catholic Church for fraud, demanding that it prove the existence of heaven and hell.
-He received 140,000 votes as the Progressive Party candidate in the 1952 Presidential Elections. His wife ran his campaign as he sat in prison for contempt of court for defending a longshoreman union founder named Harry Bridges, who was facing charges of lying about being a communist.
-He referred to one prosecutor as the greatest incompetent "since Caligula made a consul of his horse," and he would settle in-court disputes with opposing lawyers outside the courthouse, claiming to have won 23 such fist fights.
-Later he was jailed for 18 months on tax evasion charges, where he became chairman of the inmates' council and fought for integration in the dining hall.
-He is in Ripley's Believe It Or Not! museum for playing on a rugby team at age 73.

Mother: Vivian Hallinan
-Vivian wrote an autobiography about the family, "My Wild Irish Rogues," in 1952. J.Edgar Hoover called it, "A flagrant employment of the Communist Party line, including references to racial discrimination and vicious attacks on the U.S. government."
-She once led an anti-Vietnam War demonstration of 5,000 women in DC,and headed the SF chapter of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
-At one point she began investing her husband's earnings into real estate, which helped her husband become a multi-millionaire. She also rented and sold homes to African Americans at a time when the civil rights movement wasn't quite felt in San Francisco.
-She opposed U.S. foreign policy in Central America, met with Fidel Castro, and was tear gassed in 1986--at age 77--during a protest in Chile against human rights abuses.
-The horse mouth of J.Edgar once called her marriage to Vincent: "A case of one warped personality marrying another."
Brothers: Terrence and Patrick Hallinan
-Terrence called himself a "gentleman farmer" and served as San Francisco's district attorney for eight years.
-In 1965 the California Bar Association rejected him, claiming he did not have "good moral character"--this was based upon several prior arrests of civil disobedience. In college he was beaten or arrested 16 times during civil rights demonstrations in both Mississippi and the Bay Area.
-In 1967 he took the CA Bar to the state Supreme Court and was granted acceptance.
-His boxing name is "Kayo."
-He was the only district attorney in California to openly endorse Prop 215 (legalizing medical marijuana), and wrote several letters to attorney generals nationwide to change discriminatory language in domestic violence statutes that don't protect same sex marriages.
-Patrick was a prominent defense lawyer and accomplished archaeologist. He was involved in a very scandalous, high profile drug smuggling case which had the DEA after him. There is a very juicy PBS Frontline transcript on it.
Conn and Other Hallinan Brothers
-Conn has three other brothers, but I can't dig anything up on them.
-His boxing name is "Ringo."
-Conn is an amazing person on a personal and professional level. He currently serves as a board member for the Concerned Listeners of KPFA, is a contributing writer to Foreign Policy in Focus, is writing a novel about Roman history, and continues to serve as a great influence to many aspiring writers.

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