The news making its way through the Fisherman's Wharf grapevine of silver breakdancers and street clowns was that Bush 2 was dead. No, not the former president. On the wharf, "Bush 2" refers to Gregory Jacobs, one of two Bush Men who both swear they were the first to sit on a crate behind branches and pop out to spook the tourists for tips.
Don Franklin, aka "The SoleMan," was on his sport fishing boat in front of Bush 2's post two weeks ago when he saw the tourist-terrorizer slumped over. Yep, the man who makes a living giving people heart attacks was himself suffering a heart attack.
"Karma's a funny thing, isn't it?" the SoleMan said. "It was a little ironic, in my book."
Paramedics zoomed up, performed chest compressions, pumped air into Bush 2's mouth, and shocked his heart back into action. Street performers descended like vultures and eyed his tip jar. Other wharf regulars offered good-riddance eulogies.
"Gregory was a jerk," said wharfinger Hedley Prince, who has been annoyed for years by Bush's tricks. "Nobody's going to miss Gregory, that's for sure."
Yet the medical examiner had no record of Bush 2's death. It was starting to sound a lot like last year's rumor that Bush 1 had had a fatal stroke. Then SF Weekly called his hospital room and found that rumors of his demise had been greatly exaggerated. "I'm Bush Man 1, I'm Bush Man 2, I'm Bush Man 3," he rasped. "They hate me so bad, they could taste me. All the wanna-bes."
So we called Bush 2's house, and lo and behold, a groggy man answered: "Why are you calling me if you thought I was dead?" He lives!
He said he'd died at the wharf and again at the hospital — heart attacks number eight and nine for the 56-year-old diabetic — but was defibbed back to life. He was sent home last week with a pacemaker and an order to stay away from magnets.
Bush 2's tip jar was apparently stolen, but he wasn't holding any grudges. The same can't be said for Prince when we called him back with the news: "I was having such a good day, too."