Anita Hoffman and Noble
"Goodbye room. Thanks for giving me cancer."
That was Anita's parting shot as she left her Petaluma cottage for the last time. Sardonic? Yes. Honest? Bingo. But funny...so 'Anita.' Zap...all net, no rim.
I witnessed this singular laconic scoff as only a chauffeur could. You see I was selected to transport her to San Francisco where her pal Cindy Palmer Horowitz (Winona Ryder's mom) offered her a room with a view in which to spend her last 30 or so days.
Anita was originally thrust into the limelight when she met and married 60's wunderkind rascal Abbie Hoffman.
Although I knew Abbie in those 60's days I never got around to meeting Anita, that is until 1997. I knew of her of course, was publicly aware of her specialness and always hoped I would get to know her but dismissed the notion as fancy. That is until I caught sight of this absolutely adorable woman leaving Rosemary Leary's home last year and begged to be introduced.
Anita could spare half a minute as she had a long drive ahead. Something definitely clicked and we exchanged numbers. Maybe it was our "New Yawlk" roots, could be something cultural. Who's to say? We liked each other and we became friends.
A great year of comraderie went by until the spreading illness changed all things normal and hence the final move to San Francisco. Anita was surrounded by visiting friends and family this last month, many who traveled far just to say goodbye.
Here's a small (incomplete) list:
- Leah and Trusje Kushner
- Stew Albert and Judy Gumbo
- Paul Krassner
- Janeane Garofalo
- Ken Kelly
- Ron Turner
- Wavy Gravy
- Robin Williams
- Martha Sätty
- Denis and Mo
- America Hoffman
Of course there were many, many more. Anita was well loved.
Three people deserve special mention.Robin Williams did not know Anita personally but in a conversation with actor Matt Damon found out Anita was ill. He took the time out Christmas day, left his family for a while and spent a magical hour with her. She was deeply touched. But that's the kind of guy Robin is. A real "Patch Adams."
Rosemary Woodruff Leary gave over a month of her life and moved into the house to take care of Anita. They had met over thirty years ago in New York and were both "guests" of Eldridge Cleaver in Algeria...that is until Anita climbed out of the window to escape. But I digress into lore (some of which you'll soon see in Robert Greenwald's upcoming film on Anita and Abbie "Steal this Movie.")
Cindy Horowitz was stirred to action when Anita, now immobile, mentioned she could no longer even see the sky from her Petaluma bedroom. Cindy moved out of her own room and moved Anita in. Anita was gifted with a magnificent view of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
Anita also firmly decided the time of her own "deliverence" would be December 27.
It is said that everyone dies but not everyone lives. Anita surely did.
We'll meet again dear friend...
San Francisco ChronicleSan Francisco Examiner
© 1998 Photo: Robert Altman
Anita in San Francisco ~ Thanksgiving 1998
(You may click on photo for an enlargement)