The Bearded Guy That Hangs Out at Adobe Books

Artist Iris Alden wrote in to share a story:

I’m a local artist/barback/sometimes I work at Adobe Book Shop. I’m guessing, what with your throughly thorough knowledge of the Mission, that you guys know about Swan (a.k.a The Birdman, a.k.a John Ratliff), the white bearded character almost seen at Adobe, sometimes sitting outside smoking, sometimes inside with or without a pigeon companion. Anyway, I made this comic after having a conversation with him one night, and I thought you guys might like to see it. Voila!


Can’t get no results from the humans is right!


The Pigeon Whisperer

Thanks, Iris!

15 Responses to “The Bearded Guy That Hangs Out at Adobe Books”

  1. marcos says:

    He used to publish this typewritten xeroxed manifesto of schizophrenia back in the late 1980s called ‘the Kanarkly review’ or something. I’m astounded that he’s survived this long.

    That was back when the North Mission characters were plentiful, including the Red Man and the White Lady. He used to paint his exposed skin, mustachio’ed face and hands red and sweep the streets with a broom. She would wear all white and paint her skin white and carry a hat box with her stuff in it. I’d heard she’d died about ten years ago assume that the Red Man is too. Always wondered if they hooked up if they’d have kids who painted their skin pink?

    • MrEricSir says:

      He still hands out his writing on occasion.

    • John Walker says:

      I assumed the Birdman of 16th and Valencia had passed along with the white lady and the red man. I hadn’t seen him in ages. I was dumbstruck when I saw him a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to do the math (I know math is hard) — I saw him first 20 years ago and he looked 60. I see him now and he looks 60, but he must be 80, unless he was 40 20 years ago so now he’s 60.

  2. girlcousin says:

    Or peppermint striped!

  3. SCUM says:

    I can’t stand that pigeon feeding piece of crap. One of these days I will knock his ass out, cover him in honey then birdseed and let his filthy minions peck the shit out of him.

    • Rocky Leon says:

      You just a little internet tough-guy, hiding behind your screen. You won’t and can’t do anything besides ethuggin. Shut your toy mouth.

    • Oakland says:

      Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

    • Catherine Ratliff says:

      That is really mean. I visited my brother a few years ago and we both sat at the 16th St. Bart and fed pigeons and they sat on my head and arms and it was lovely!!

  4. MrEricSir says:

    Someone NEEDS to make a documentary about this guy.

    It can be called “The Wild Pigeons of 16th and Mission.”

  5. charity says:

    I made a three minute video of Swan in his old cubby-hideout at Adobe. He bossed me around the whole time but that’s okay. Though he isn’t too keen on humans I have had some fine conversations with him about poetry and am fond of him.

    I remember the Red Man. His concept was very thorough and he would make charming signs that complemented his overall effect quite nicely.

  6. Deena says:

    I saw the Red Man and the White Lady pass each other on Mission Street in the early nineties. They didn’t even notice each other. It was VERY disappointing..

  7. Louise says:

    The red man used to stay in my backyard on Capp and 19th in the 90s, the fence and every bit of concrete in the yard was painted with his letters and symbols. The people who ran The Latin American Club lived downstairs and they let him camp the yard. He used to hang out at the Latin American club too, he was never very social though. I hope Swan lives forever.