In the late nineteenth century, back when he was alive and well and enjoying worldwide fame as the self-proclaimed sovereign of all the United States, his Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I did not (as far as I know) live in Bernal Heights. Nevertheless, Bernal has today become the nexus for a devoted cadre of Emperor Norton aficionados.
First and foremost, of course, is one of America’s premier Nortonologists, Bernal Neighbor Joseph Amster, who channels the spirit and dress of Emperor Norton as he leads tourists and history geeks on guided tours of San Francisco:
And who could forget that in 2013, La Lengua rebel propagandist Burrito Justice helped orchestrate a spirited (if unsuccessful) effort to name the Bay Bridge in honor of Emperor Norton.
Now, to complete Bernal’s trifecta of Nortonphilia, Neighbors Jesse Chandler and Kat Shreve have just launched an effort to create a proper, feature-length documentary about Emperor Norton.
Neighbor Kat tells us:
Jesse and I are proud Bernal residents! We reside at Cortland and Prospect (in Cortlandia). We’re writing you today to announce the launch of our Kickstarter campaign to fund a feature-length documentary about Emperor Norton.
The Kickstarter funding will pay for editing, research, illustration, animation, audio mixing, and a musical score to help re-create the world of 1860s San Francisco. We’ve gathered the talent to create an amazing film about the Emperor but now we need your help to tell the story properly.
Thank you for taking the time to check out the project!
Of course, all this Bernal-based Nortonmania doesn’t really require much explanation. From the vantage point of 2014, it would seem that the original Emperor Norton was a very Bernal sort of oddball — whether or not he ever spent much time here. And besides, a proper documentary on Emperor Norton is long overdue, so we raise our imperial champagne flutes to Neighbors Jessie and Kat for making it happen.
So far so good — Neighbors Jessie and Kat are off to a great start. Don’t forget; you can donate to the Kickstarter here.