The Emperor's Bridge Campaign



Doggies and Pyromaniacs for Emperor Norton!

This past Tuesday evening (3 February) was a "school night." So, The Emperor's Bridge Campaign was delighted to welcome some 60 guests — including many new faces! — to the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics at 518 Valencia Street in San Francisco, for The Emperor's 197th Birthday, a "party and presentation of recent findings" in support of the Campaign.

In at least a couple of ways, the event was "spectacular" in the truest sense of the word.

San Francisco underground legend John Law brought three of his best friends — the Doggie Diner heads — in support of the Campaign.

Tuesday 3 February 2015. Afternoon. The Doggie Diner heads get an early seat for The Emperor's 197th Birthday, at 518 Valencia Street in San Francisco. PHOTO: Kristian Akseth.

Tuesday 3 February 2015. Afternoon. The Doggie Diner heads get an early seat for The Emperor's 197th Birthday, at 518 Valencia Street in San Francisco. PHOTO: Kristian Akseth.

The Doggies welcome guests to The Emperor's 197th Birthday, as the festivities get underway at 518 Valencia, just behind them. PHOTO: Mark Hogan. 

We had a fabulous birthday cake with  yes!  197 candles. The cake  which tasted every bit as good as it looks and came through the fire with only the slightest hint of singed icing (all for a good cause!)  was made by Gav Shelton, whose abundant talents quite evidently are not limited to channeling Lola Montez! 

197 candles. Count 'em 197. Before the flame. PHOTO: Kristian Akseth.

As Brian Eno might say: "BAY-by's on FIEEE-YYYUHHHHH!!!" PHOTO: David Martin.

"Happy Birthday, Emperor Norton! Happy Birthday to you!" (l to r): Emperor's Bridge Campaign founder John Lumea; party guest; Joseph Amster, of Emperor Norton's Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine, in street clothes; and Gav Shelton, the Baker of the Cake (who also has a nice set of pipes!)  


We made what we think is a very convincing case (1) for 4 February 1818 as Emperor Norton's birth date, and (2) for why the conventional wisdom memorialized on the Emperor's gravestone — that the Emperor was born in 1819  should be abandoned.

Class is in session! Learning about the birth date of Emperor Norton. PHOTO: Kristian Akseth.

Plus: In the later-evening "bonus round" of wine top-ups and second (and third?) cake slices, we viewed two rarely seen classic television episodes interpreting the story of Emperor Norton: a 1956 episode of Death Valley Days (complete with priceless ads from 20 Mule Team Borax detergent) and a 1966 episode of Bonanza. Hoss and Emperor Norton. Need we say more? 

The Emperor's Bridge Campaign continues to make new friends. Among those who joined us on Tuesday night,  we were especially gratified to have: Chris Carlsson and LisaRuth Elliott of Shaping San Francisco; Derek Remski of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society; John Law; and Richard Petersen, an Internet early adopter who, in the mid 1990s, probably was one of the first people to host a dedicated page of information about Emperor Norton (we have to get Richard to change that birth date!).

Many thanks to everybody who was able to attend and contribute! In the best possible way, you made The Emperor's 197th birthday a flaming, dog-eared success! 

Next up, the Campaign will be exhibiting at the 5th Annual San Francisco History Expo, held on Saturday 28 February and Sunday 1 March at the Old Mint, 88 Fifth Street (corner of Fifth and Mission Streets) in San Francisco.

Please come say hello!

For more on our Emperor's Birth Date Research Project, please visit the project page here

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