[Beginning this week, h. brown's Watching City Hall
appears in this space three times a week, on Monday,
May 1, 2002
by h. brown
Come to the Chronicle & Examiner …
for HALF of the News …
HALF of the time!
– from “Media Blitz”
Home Depot won.
Along with other, more honest lobbyists, it was a
victory for special-interest journalism & Uncle Tom Politics. Neither
the Examiner nor the Chronicle ever once mentioned during the debate
that Home Depot has, in fact, paid millions to settle charges of racial
discrimination (they don't seem to like black people, Sophie). They also
did not mention that the gargantuan corporation will not even begin to
discuss allowing unions under their ample roofs.
Hey, I have family and friends who get paid to push
cases like this for clients like Home Depot. I mean, it ain't nuclear
weapons we're talking about here. It's just a simple matter of the best
interests of blacks being sold out by their leaders. Why should we care?
Personally? I thought the most interesting part of the
debate was 11th District supe Gerardo Sandoval reminding Board President
Tom Ammiano that Tom had only carried 25 percent of the vote for mayor
in his district. I meant, of course, to properly mention that Supervisor
Sandoval is against the Falun Gong people. You 11th District
people who have relatives in China who practice Falun Gong, you remember
that Sandoval is anti-Falun Gong. He has no complaints about them being
beaten, murdered, and imprisoned because he thinks the Chinese Americans
in his district don't care. Do you?
Rock & Roll without music
Alex Clemens of Usual Suspects (.com) hosted a great
party Monday night at the Temple Bar. That's sort of Supervisor Chris
Daly's stomping ground, so I kind of wondered what the crowd would be
like. It was a benefit for Project Open Hand.
As a near client, someone paid my way in & bought me my
opening round & then it was time for indulging in my favorite pastimes
on earth: grilling brilliant & powerful people and flirting shamelessly
with beautiful women while drinking heavily. The sad drag about mixing
those three pursuits is that you sometimes get confused and often forget
the best parts of the night. For instance, while I distinctly recall
continuing a big play for a slinky young lawyer, I woke up this morning
not only with Frederick Hobson's business card in my pocket, but with
his NAME TAG glued on the back!! Wellll, what we don't know, don't hurt
Brains & more brains
I got to talk to Samson Wong of the Examiner & the
Independent & AsianWeek, who is a walking encyclopedia of San Francisco
Democratic politics for the past two decades. He was on the CACE
(Citizens' Advisory Committee on Elections) for fifteen years or more.
Guys like him are the best kind of reporters. The kind
turkeys like me can rip off for our term papers. When he writes a
column, he doesn't just tell you what happened yesterday. He tells you
the whole basis of the issue, historically & philosophically, and
ventures authoritative prognostication as to the likely outcome of
ongoing melodramas. In my short two years writing about politics here, I
cannot count the data I have confidently “borrowed” from Samson's
Then I got to meet Professor Rich DeLeon!! Jeez. He
knows more than Wong because DeLeon looks at the total genre. A
scientist. He's written several books on the local San Francisco
political scene. He also writes for our host, Clemens, on (I guess) San
Francisco's oldest local political website.
Y'all know what science is? "The search for patterns"
(G. Roth). That's why I favor the mostly unpopular “centralized intake”
and fingerprinting projects 2nd District supe Gavin Newsom
has been pushing. I worked with the population in question at every age
& every level, from cleaning up barf to collecting statistics for
bashing with calculus to try & define reasonable projections & intervene
Smart people. I alternately accosted the lady lawyer
(who drives me nuts), an elusive news lady, and a new prospect from the
11th District who must be married cause she wouldn't tell me
What a lineup of brains! Jerry Threet, who watched me
warily ’cause I attack his boss a bunch. Debra Walker & Robert Haaland
kicked in. Wade Crowfoot, for whom my friend Deby did a great poster but
we never could download it. Mike Farrah, with whom I've never actually
talked but know real well, if you know what I mean. Bill Barnes & his
boss, Chris Daly from the 6th District (the only supervisor).
Matt Gonzalez's chief of staff, Rob Eshelman, and I traded reckless
pitchers of margaritas. And the devil be damned! I singularly failed to
impress Steve Cornell, the owner of Brownie's Hardware, where I've
bought on behalf of building owners & agents (I often manage property).
A talented group. The lobbyist for Sprint was there (looking better even
than on the tube), fresh from another victory over your grandchildren’s
DNA. But looking really good doing it!
Peskin glows, Adachi shines, and Burton looks bad
Sometimes … ok, OFTEN … Aaron Peskin forgets he is not
the chair of the Board of Supervisors' Budget Committee.
That is not always a bad thing. Peskin cut across a
post-election eye-gouging match atween departing Willie Brown appointee
Kimiko Burton (talk about a poor loser, tag the furniture!) and incoming
public defender Jeff Adachi. A good moment for Peskin. Redirecting the
energy away from political recriminations and back to the money being
spent by the people on services to be provided to the people.
Basic. Peskin does basic good.
Deputy Chief (soon to be “Chief“) Earl Sanders
Chief Sanders of the San Francisco Police Department is
Amos Brown with a big badge. Not a good combination.
I'm gonna repeat what you've heard in around 50 other
places: Mayor Willie Brown is preparing to drop present SF cop head Fred
(“the Graduate“) Lau and replace him with Earl (“you talkin' to meee!?”)
This guy is bad news. This is a guy who comes on to
Budget chair & 10th District supervisor Sophie Maxwell with
an arrogant disposition that says he has the chief's job already.
Can anyone say the word “qualified” here? It's really
hard to imagine a marginal political hack like Sanders running anything
heavier than the brig at Disneyland. Hopefully, like almost all of his
predecessors for the last 150 years, the badge will just be for show & a
qualified deputy will be the actual chief.
Jeeez Willie, give the “black” thing a rest. If you have
to choose city leaders on the basis of race, at least give us the best
you have. Do you honestly believe Sanders is the cop best qualified to
be chief of the department? The similarity between this guy and newly
rejected PUC candidate Frank Cook was not lost upon this observer.
Willie clearly thinks it's OK to be a racist. Just as long as you're a
Just to add my HYSTERICAL … I mean HISTORICAL
– Supervisor Leland Yee
You don't need to make things up to make Leland Yee look
bad. Just take out a pen and paper & watch & wait.
Leland is trying to cement his rep as a fiscal
“conservative.” Trading lightly on brains & ability & heavily upon the
color of his skin, Leland is about to become one of the city's reps at
the State Assembly. After watching the latest Yee infomercial during
Monday's board meeting, I'd rather be rep'd by Sonny Barger.
Yee was busy joining far right supes Gavin Newsom, Tony
Hall & … Mark Leno (what's up with that?) to continue radiating you,
your children, your embryos & pets with as much microwave radiation as
it’s humanly possible to install as quickly as possible. Blocking the
latest death rays would have taken an 8-3 majority to overturn a
Planning Commission that has NEVER overruled an antenna array.
Newsom/Getty restaurants to accept food stamps
After recusing himself from a vote on live/work
legislation from which he might clearly profit, 2nd District
supe Gavin Newsom noted that his plans to empty the pockets of the
city's bottom-feeding desperate were still very much alive. Speaking to
Nina Wu of the SF Examiner, Newsom attacked Health & Human Services
chair Chris Daly for scheduling a hearing Newsom himself had requested.
Newsom said: "The core tenet of converting cash to services remains
intact." In question was Newsom's plan to strip the poor of cash grants
and provide, instead, “in kind” assistance. That means vouchers, food
stamps, whatever … which, no doubt, the supervisor will be glad to
redeem at any of his restaurants.
I understand they'll let you run a tab too. Just tell em
h. brown sent you.
April 29, 2002
by h. brown
Always leave them laughing when you say
Never linger long about …
or else you'll wear your welcome out. …
Always leave them laughing … when you say
– Al Jolson's theme song
It was a full moon, full of big changes in my life. I
went to an art opening. I quit writing for the Sentinel. I experienced a
new “cheap” thrill. I got two solid job leads. I did a full workout for
the Bay-to-Breakers. I propositioned a married woman, drank too many
margaritas & smoked pot on a mountaintop. Let me start with the Sentinel
I quit my first writing gig
I wrote a really vicious column last week & sent it to
the SF Sentinel for publication. It had lots more "fuck's" than usual
(always quotes) & at one point suggested that the mayor of San Francisco
stick his most recent charges of racism "up his ass."
Not a pretty thing.
It was vintage h. brown. Edgy. Borderline. Over-the-top.
It was the kind of thing Call publisher/editor Betsey Culp regularly
removes from my more rambunctious work without a comment. It was, in
fact, published in the Call last Friday. Sentinel Publisher Patrick
Murphy, whose skills as a reporter, editor, and photographer have made
the year-old online (www.sanfranciscosentinel.com)
the most watched outpost for political insiders, objected to the
profanity. It is a conversation we have had before.
Any fault in my separation from the Sentinel is entirely
my own. Pat always made it clear that he did not care for profanity in
his publication unless it was a direct quote. I mostly made certain that
I had a direct profane quote or two to keep my work there “spicy.”
Pat replied to the piece by saying that if I couldn't
play by his rules regarding profanity, he was ready to end the
association. Now, I'm a very combative person and that made me bristle.
After about one second though, I realized that I had no right whatsoever
to be angry. Like a surly adolescent, I had knowingly challenged limits
I knew to exist. It is, after all, Pat Murphy's publication.
On becoming too full of oneself
In my own mind, I'm a selfless hero. I work very hard
every day keeping as current as possible with the local City Hall scene
and seek to use my writing skills as a tool to sway as large a group of
people as possible to my point of view on every issue. My “point of
view” is generally what is now being called "progressive."
Personally, I think my values are kind of old-fashioned.
Down with the rich. Up with the poor. Keeping the city a place where
struggling artists and immigrants can afford to live. That kind of thing
is really not new.
However, those goals have never been more challenged in
San Francisco. Another economic upswing of five years or so or a
well-placed piece of legislation or Trojan horse ballot measure could
complete the transformation of our delicate lady into a densely packed “Gentropolis.”
Sooooo, I do what I can to stop that from happening. To be most
effective in my efforts, I have to get my message out … while having a
good time. That's what made my decision with the Sentinel conflicted.
Last I looked, the Sentinel had a daily readership of
around 15,000. Considering that these 15k are among the most politically
influential readers in town, giving up that kind of access gave me
pause. I always thought the greatest strength of the Sentinel was
Murphy's willingness to give equal billing to views diametrically
opposed to his own. Clearly, if I am unable to bring my readership to
the Call, I will have lost a taller soapbox for my causes. But what
price do we pay for influence? How much to compromise your values a
little? A lot? Journalism is fascinating. The local dailies (Chronicle &
Examiner) are so compromised that almost none of their local coverage
tells all of the truth on any issue. Countering that kind of insidious
pollution of the local media market is a noble cause for us all.
Vote with your feet. Or fingers in this instance. Last I
looked, the Call had a daily readership of around 2,500. It is a
150-year-old publication. My cousin Sam Clemens wrote for it (and got
fired for the satirical style that later made him world famous).
Puncture my ego. Or inflate it. For now, you can ONLY
meld with my mind at
www.sfcall.com. Give me a reality
check. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Other events …
The Falun Gong wedding
Sherry Zhang got married Saturday.
Lord, what an incredible woman. A Ph.D. scientist at
Livermore. Key local spokesperson for the Falun Gong. Serene beauty &
I met her at 5th District supervisor Matt
Gonzalez's office at a poetry reading or art opening or some such thing.
I immediately recognized her from the debate on TV (Channel 26 is better
than MTV) in which the reactionary forces of Rose Pak succeeded in
convincing the Board of Supervisors to ignore the imprisonment, torture,
and murder of Falun Gong practitioners (it's like a non-violent
exercise/meditation thing). Got the board to refuse to heed the pleas of
100-plus million people in need. A very UN-San Francisco reaction.
Anyway (my favorite transition) … anyway, I immediately proposed to her
over a glass of wine & she was kind enough to, in turn, invite me to her
I didn't make the wedding. It was at a yacht club in
Redwood City and Muni don't go there. Plus, it would have been kind of
like Homer Simpson at a Gavin Newsom rally. I mean, I'm sure I would
have had a hell of a good time but … how shall I say … I could have
detracted from the total event. “Know thyself,” as they say.
Good luck to Sherry and the Falun Gong and a pox on the
supervisors still opposing the Falun Gong resolution. For all of you
folks out there who oppose the oppression of your fellow humans, here's
the Board of Supervisors lineup on the issue:
|In support of Falun Gong rights
|| Opposed to Falun Gong rights
1. Board President, Tom Ammiano
|1. 1st District Supe, Jake McGoldrick
2. 5th District Supe, Matt Gonzalez
|2. 2nd District Supe, Gavin Newsom
3. 6th District Supe, Chris Daly
|3. 3rd District Supe, Aaron Peskin
4. 8th District Supe, Mark Leno
|4. 4th District Supe, Leland Yee
||5. 7th District Supe, Tony Hall
||6. 10th District Supe, Sophie Maxwell
||7. 11th District Supe, Gerardo Sandoval
People, we need for two supervisors to change their
positions on this issue. For a variety of reasons, seven San Francisco
supervisors have placed the city in the unusual position of refusing to
heed a call for help.
In an odd twist, the heir-apparent to the Chinese
presidency is in San Francisco as I write this. International
speculation has it that once he ascends to the leadership position, he
will reverse the Chinese government's stand on the Falun Gong. Will Rose
Pak then order the seven supervisors she presently controls to change
their positions also?
This issue is as simple as it gets. Good vs. Evil. No
rocket science needed. Rose Pak described the Falun Gong before the
board as "worse than al Qaeda." The woman is clearly only about money.
That seven members of a supposedly “progressive” board would acquiesce
to her wishes is astounding. Like they say: "Money talks."
Full moon art show
It's called the: “Reply Hazy Try Again: 20 Artists Reply
to the Magic 8-Ball” exhibi and it is at 136 Freelon (415 371-1777),
near 4th & Brannon.
Made the scene upon the invitation of Doug McAbee, who
wanted to see the caricatures and illustrations of Mark Zeimann, a
(firstname.lastname@example.org; 415 398-2403). His oil, which led the
show (front door to the left), had the clarity of a Chagall (price:
I piled into Doug's fast, silver 4-door dart with Aimee
Iura, a graphic artist who also makes jewelry & furniture, and the
ever-burly sculptor/painter Kim Spicer & we rocketed to the park atop
what is REALLY San Francisco's crookedest street. We were wrecked &
drove around quite a bit to find it. There is a park at the top. It is
at one of the crests of Potrero Hill, just above & behind SF General.
What a view! Clear skies. A panoramic almost 360 degree
view of the city capped with a full moon. That was enuff by itself, but
there was a “cheap thrill” to follow.
After walking the park, smoking a little more weed &
getting back into the sleek new sedan, our friend sat at the lip of the
cascading serpentine road & waited. We puzzled. It didn't take long.
A well-polished BMW crawled around the corner. The
driver gazed over at us. He knew we were waiting for him or someone like
him. He pulled to the steep crest, gently gunned his engine & PUT THE
PEDAL TO THE METAL!!!
Our chauffeur followed suit and we were suddenly tossed
like rag dolls, swinging & swirling and swooshing down the sharp
How bout that, huh? Ever heard of that one? Me neither.
Hey, I jog past Hyde & Lombard most every day & watch
the tourists inch slowly down the terrarium-like setting to Leavenworth
below. All the while “thinking” it is "the crookedest street in the
world." Ha! Leave it to my friends to do the REAL crookedest street,
James Bond style! It was so unexpected. Like a broken elevator cable.
Don't do it.
None of your damned business who I propositioned.
On Bay-to-Breakers workouts, I highly recommend a
turnaround at Marina Green. No matter what direction you're coming from,
you have to do at least one massive hill to get there & a month or so of
that will make Hayes Hill (toughest part of the Breakers course) feel
like cake when you reach it in the actual race. I've learned over the
years that you can strip your sweat shirt and get some warm rays in the
grass at the green even when a chilly wind is blowing. The deep green
turf gathers the heat & lying prone, you're under the breeze. Nice &
Run the race. Walk the race. Hell, it's a race for only
the first 100 or so contestants. For the other 100,000 it is more of a
drunken, orgiastic parade. Ain't that your kind of event?
April 26, 2002
by h. brown
Juno is unable to detect a dial tone
Having free computer hook-up & a Pentium 1 is kind of
like having a very old car with no reverse & only one forward gear. Once
you get going, you can travel a long way in one direction as long as you
don't try anything fancy. Add to that the fact that an old speed freak
buddy built it for me out of parts from District 3 dumpsters and it can
really get interesting. If I leave the processor on, it talks to itself
all night. Mutters like grandma used to. She smoked a corncob pipe,
plowed behind a mule, and had a still in the woods.
Peskin pisses pianist plenty
Apparently bare-assed strippers aren't the only fine
artists 3rd District Supervisor Aaron Peskin is ready to
wrestle with. (Don't you love prepositions at the ends of sentences – it
was a senseless rule of Latin grammar adopted into the language by
perverted English priests anyway.)
Peskin … strippers?
Oh yeah, Moe, Curly & Larry & today's Finance Committee
Aaron really isn't as bad as I make him out to be. I
simply won't tolerate any supervisor disagreeing with me on any issue at
any time. That's fair, huh?
Anyway (no, I'm not paid by the word) … anyway … anyway,
today in Finance, Chair Peskin, Vice-Chair Chris Daly & substitute
member & Board President Tom Ammiano (think these guys have enough
titles? – if you greet them properly, it takes two of your three minutes
of Public Comment) … anyway … the city has around (I might be wrong –
that's not unusual – getting me to admit it is) … anyway, the city has
around 27,000 employees. In order to protect themselves, they join
unions. All but (as I recall) 127 of them.
The unionized folks have pretty good luck when
negotiating new contracts with the city. Of course, it could be the
torches & chains & choruses of threats they're prone to (hey, I LIKE
their style) or it could be that they GET OUT THE VOTE! How many? As the
“other” Daley (the one with the “e,” the Cub town mayor) used to say,
"How many do you need?"
Not these 127 forlorn folks. Oh, I don't want to be too
nice to them. That would be out of character for me & asides, I think
they're mostly top brass. When Peskin indicated he might not pass on the
same raise to the 127 that the folks with torches & chains got, some guy
in a $1000 suit and a $200 silk tie came running in from a secret panel
in the wall or something & started singing their case. It would have
worked better for me if he'd been wearing faded & patched bib overalls
and a straw hat, but I guess you gotta go with your own kind.
Anyway (is there an echo in here?) …
Anyway, suddenly 6th District Supe Chris Daly
(who usually – like all of us – just sits & nods while Peskin does the
numbers) kind of raises his hand and says what sounds like: "Hey!
There's a penis in here!"
That made even Peskin hesitate. Was someone mocking him?
Asking for a “raise” for a penis?
9th District Godfather & gay comedian Tom
Ammiano just kind of looked in the air and whistled.
Turns out the unprotected worker was a P I A N I S T!
Yeah, get your mind out of the gutter. Anyway, being totally frank (as
he refreshingly usually is), Peskin says something like, "Let's continue
this for a week to give everyone on the list a chance to call me & tell
me why they deserve a raise. I'm sure the 'pianist' will call me."
Hmmm, how's the Examiner gonna write up that one? How's
about “Peskin Prodded By Persistent Pianist Pleading Poverty!"
Way to go, Gerardo!
Anti-Falun Gong 11th District Supervisor
Gerardo Sandoval kicked ass in the Wednesday press (I love “hump” day -
six newspapers by 5:30 am). Sandoval snatched major ink in both the SF
Weekly (piece of doo out-of-town interloper), where major talent Matt
Smith praised Gerardo's sponsorship of legislation that bids the city to
recognize Mexican consular ID's as legal identification (with potential
national effects on immigration policy), AND the far superior Bay
Guardian (born & raised here), where Sandoval explained convincingly
enough why he would support the Home Depot project specifically (despite
the fact they're non-union racists) but would support (and would
supported have LAST week) Ammiano's conditional use requirements (just
makes em REALLY deal with their new neighbors) for future retail spaces
of over 50,000 square feet. He pointed out (rightly) that Home Depot was
a special case. When we’re in the middle of big construction projects
and when we die, most folks around here go to Colma. Now if Sandoval
would just introduce a resolution deploring the Chinese government's
brutality toward the Falun Gong, he'd be damned near 100 percent on the
I'm sorry sir, but anyone who has oppressed you
for 400 years would have to be a lot older than me.
– Playboy cartoon: businessman to black militant
Note to Mayor Willie Brown: "You know what you can do
with your racist accusations. Sincerely, h. brown.
Mr. Mayor, I voted for you for 20 years. Every time I
had a chance, until last time. Most of the reason I voted for you was
because you were black and I am a bleeding-heart liberal. Now maybe you
wanna call me a racist!
We don't like you anymore because you sold us out to
rich white folks. It is you who are the racist! I did not drive 20
percent of the black people in San Francisco out of town so that rich
white developers could get richer. I did not encourage white contractors
to pay off phony black “front” construction companies to keep jobs away
from blacks. It was you who did all of that. There. Is that clear
enough? I don't want anyone saying that I “hinted” that you were a race
Oh, can you do me another favor? Endorse Gavin Newsom
for mayor next year.
Won't you come home, John Burton?
The Chronicle’s Matier & Ross reported a month or so
back how our good city's most powerful politician did us all one hell of
a favor. Seems he single-handedly stopped a bayside skyscraper that
would have blocked views for a couple of hundred thousand of us. He did
it (if y'all believe the Chronicle) with a single, profanity-laced phone
Damn! I love that style. Do it again, John. "Hit em
again. Hit em again. Harder. Harder."
Stop the eight-story garage at your alma mater. That
would be Hastings School of Law.
You are clearly our only hope. They say you were able to
stop the skyscraper because it was a project on University of California
property & you are able to, shall we say, “fuck” with their budget. Now
we have another equally objectionable structure ready to be shit out of
the U.C. sphincter.
You claim to oppose the structure, but where the hell
are the profanities? Where is your anger!? Where are your threats?
Hey, big boy, wanna come home a winner instead of a
loser? Every liberal and neighborhood activist in town is opposed to
this and we are getting our ass kicked. We need a fucking white knight
(our black knight switched sides long ago).
Talk's cheap, John. You want our support? You want
people to smile when you enter a restaurant? Help us big boy. You done
it before. You can do it again.