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VOLUME 2, NUMBER 21   <>  MONDAY, MAY 28, 2001

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

If you can read this …
you are standing too close.

I have quite a few personal problems. Like most drunks, my social skills are limited, and when I get high I forget. Neither of these are really positive attributes in a reporter; although a great many seem to share my failings. I’m absolutely certain, for instance, that the editorial boards of most newspapers are crazy drunk when they make their political endorsements. Nothing else could account for their abysmal record. Unless, of course, they’re insane … but, that’s a whole other story. Historically, this lack of social skills, clarity, discretion and general poor mental health have caused lots of reporters and editors to be shot, stabbed, hung, blown up, and otherwise inconvenienced.

There are a variety of methods to protect yourself from the righteous vengeance members of the public might visit upon you.

“Desk” names are good. I used to be a minor clerk in a big L.A. paper & I did vacation relief for a variety of telephone sales people. Every desk had a name. Not the person sitting at the desk. The desk itself had a name. Some of the desks’ names were a hundred years old! When you sat down at that desk, you answered the phone and identified yourself as whatever name was assigned to the desk. This was a practice that started in the days of the wild west when drunken reporters and editors were shot or horse-whipped for being stupid enough to sign their actual names to articles defaming not just honorable politicians but often well-meaning leading businessmen.

Now we have metal detectors and “desk” names. If you manage to get past security, you’ll find no one carrying ID identifying your nemesis. When my online publisher asked for our photos to stick next to our columns, I sent in one of a neighbor who plays his music too loud.

You can wear disguises or lie or hire large people with violence issues to accompany you.

Not me, boy. Nyet! My ploy is ripped from Robert Palmer. Surround yourself with beautiful women. No one wants to make an ass of themselves in front of a beautiful woman. It just doesn’t make any sense. On the rare occasions when I leave my couch and go to City Hall, I make certain I’m accompanied by at least one gorgeous woman. I get them to go with me by showing them pictures of Matt Gonzalez. The Guardian listed the good supervisor as one of the ten sexiest people in town. I’ve asked at least a half dozen gorgeous women to accompany me to a poetry reading where Gonzalez is a featured speaker. Which, of course, brings me to the first annual San Francisco Supervisors’ Calendar!

Give me some input on this one. Let your imagination roam. I think since they’re public figures we can do all kinds of horrible things with their likenesses. I can see putting Gavin Newsom’s head on the body of one of those old Bavarian pictures of a big kid in some kind of short-pants outfit. I see Tony (Dino) Hall as a gladiator. He can’t complain lots if we hook him up with Russell Crowe’s body.

Let’s take it further. Add poetry which you feel best captures the individual supe’s inner self. … “Even a man who says his prayers when he goes to bed each night / May become a wolf when the wolf bane grows & the moon is full and bright.” … You know, that kind of thing. Personal information that might cast them in a bad light is naturally always welcome. Everyone needs at least one decent laugh a day. Always try to have it at someone else’s expense. I’ll help.

We’ll assign you a desk name. It doesn’t have to be true. Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is that you get involved in our country’s political process. The essence of which consists of lies, slander, bribes, sex, and bad things, too.

Speaking of which… my neighbor with the loud music isn’t doing too well lately.

Since I started using his picture next to my column, his tires were slashed. He’s been assaulted and had his phone lines cut. They messed up his locks and attached his wages. He lost his gas and electricity. Someone gave my student loan officer his number.

He deserves it all. Think of creative ways to positively vent your emotions.

It’s all lies, of course. Today’s column, I mean. Well, not all … but certainly all the important parts. My TV broke. I had to get resourceful. It was one of those things where the picture would hang in for about 60–70 percent of the time and then go into an electronic spasm.

I watched. But I didn’t see it all. I saw Aaron Peskin, boiling with rage, tell the mayor’s Department of Elections hat-in-hand courier to stuff it when he asked for money to move the vote counting out of City Hall.

“I want you where I can go downstairs and watch!!” said Lord Peskin before my picture faded.

I couldn’t do this without help. We all (I’m resident manager and my place is always full of the wandering artists and other anti-socials who populate the Tenderloin) … we all watched the set as long as we could, then set about remedies. We found that by blowing a hair dryer on the back of the set, the picture held steady. (One friend was blow-drying Mugsy, my foster son Persian cat.) It actually helped some of the sit-coms and late night movies.

That worked for a couple of days. Then the set needed more heat. Being sensible, we shut all the windows and turned on the oven and half undressed and used the hair dryer and drank lots of beer and finally … when we missed an Allen Iverson drive to the basket because we couldn’t get enough heat to the TV, someone noted that maybe we might be losing touch. Everyone looked at each other and agreed. We then adjourned en masse to the basement, where we dug through the mounds of furniture and real stuff that past tenants have left and found a suitable replacement tube.

Ahhhhh … It’s good to be a supe. … Right, Matt?

Send help to: sobone@juno.com

h. brown