[Watching City Hall appears in this space on
Wednesday, and Friday.]
Wednesday, May 22
by h. brown
The Presidio Trust Sucks … big time!!
– An objective observation
Hillary Gitelman told the audience that they could pick
up a copy of the trust's long awaited “plan” for the 1,400 most valuable
acres on the earth in the back of the room. I knew I wasn't going to
learn anything listening to her because I tried listening to her through
many hours of hearings before the Planning Commission when she
represented the Planning Department & was able to turn 3,000 spaces
meant for artists into 3,000 offices.
Soooo, I went out back (wiping away the sweat from the
eight miles I'd strained through jogging to the bridge & back to the
Officers' Club) & picked up a '“free” copy of the new plan. A trust
employee named Jeanette Park refused to give it to me. She wanted my
name and address. She wasn't my type. Too cold & severe. I refused. She
wouldn't budge: "We want to know who has our plan." I identified myself
as press & gave my name. She still wouldn't give it up.
Now, I'm an asshole as often as not, but these trust
folks make me look tame. It is a done deal, folks. Hundreds of citizens
packed the building but their opinions matter nada. Anyone who thinks
that Shorenstein Real Estate won't end up with a handsome slice of this
treasure is naïve.
It's a real pity. The day was as beautiful as it gets.
The earth and the very sky itself were rinsed to a crystal clear by the
rain of the past few days. Dogs chased sticks into the surf (illegally).
Folks climbed the slopes for a better view of the bridge & bay
(illegally). Don't go here & don't go there. All the public will have
left of the Presidio in 2014 will be the desiccated desertscape the
“Natural Area” idiots have already roped off along the shore. I don't
drive, so I'm not certain, but there's a gate at the parking lot next to
the bridge & it's only a matter of time before everyone pays to sit in
their car & look at the water. It's a pity. … as I said.
Newsom continues attacks upon poor
Public Works & Public Protection chair Gerardo Sandoval
& vice chair Matt Gonzalez fended off an attempt by 2nd
District supervisor Gavin Newsom to gut his own legislation requiring
sprinklers in the living spaces of all of the city's 480 plus SROs by
the end of next month. "Burn, baby burn!!" seemed to be the message
Newsom staffer Kathy Garza delivered on behalf of Newsom, who declined
to face the progressives' two legal eagles. The proposed amendments were
transparent loopholes designed to:
Allow the SRO owners to delay the installation of
sprinklers for another two years.
Establish a legal basis for future moves to evict the
poor tenants. Newsom's amendments give the owners an option to pay an
"in lieu" fee rather than relocate tenants. Randy Shaw of the
Tenderloin Housing Clinic pointed out that no one had ever been
required to move due to the installation of sprinklers. Newsom's new
wording gives a Republican judge a place to hang his hat in
rubber-stamping evictions of the poor.
Officials from several city departments (they'll be
promoted if Newsom becomes mayor) testified in favor of creating the new
loopholes in the current sprinkler legislation. Deputy Director of the
Department of Building Inspections William Wong argued that the
sprinkler defenses of the buildings should simply be "throughout"
coverage of the buildings and not in "all areas."
Gonzalez (the future mayor of Baltimore) noted that as a
trial attorney, he couldn't understand why anyone would want to make a
law more vague.
Deputy City Attorney John Malamut (who clearly didn't
want to be in the room) defended the position as best he could, putting
whipped cream and a big red cherry on Newsom's steaming pile.
Staffers noted that the “Noose” himself was in the
building, "wandering the halls" during the proceedings. C'mon Gav, you
gotta face Sandoval sometime.
Blue ribbon for the hearing goes to Chair Gerardo
Sandoval, who is developing an inner gyro under some truly bizarre
circumstances. Who would have expected Newsom to send a team of
assassins after his own legislation? For a moment, it looked like the
District 11 supe might give Newsom a pass in the spirit of collegiality,
but he stood tough & joined Gonzalez in assuring that you are more
likely to be drowned than burned to death the next time you drop a
cigarette in your SRO room.
Kimiko Burton continues purge
Deputy Public Defender Rob Amparan got the axe
yesterday. The veteran public defender who shared an office with Supe
Matt Gonzalez & later ran the 5th District supe's campaign
for district attorney ("in a way, he got me into politics" said
Gonzalez). Gay. Latino. Member of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club.
Amparan started in the office as a volunteer & worked
till he was hired. He is known as a hard-working, hard-fighting
advocate. Burton's lieutenant's called Amparan into the office last
Friday & proceeded to give him a ration. Sources say Amparan kept his
cool & told the Burton flunkies to "put it in writing." After stewing
over the matter over the weekend, Burton informed Amparan at 3:30 pm &
told him to be out of the building by 5:00 pm. There was no word on
whether Rob got a gold watch.
Can it be that Burton's anger is centered on Gonzalez?
In her first week in office, Burton fired Adam Lipson, who was
Gonzalez's treasurer when he ran for D.A.. These guys helped to start a
How much damage can Burton do before she finally is put
out at 5:00 pm on that special day? Can't the mayor appoint Burton to
some solid waste oversight group? C'mon Willie, give a little back to
the people. We'll see about YOUR gold watch soon.
Peskin brings the Addams Family to the Rules & Audit
Just when it was starting to feel safe to walk the
streets again… Now, I'm not saying it's not OK to hang out with a bunch
of rich people. I mean, this morning I looked in the society pages (I
wasn't there) & lo and behold, there was Supervisor Aaron Peskin with
his arm draped around Denise Hale. Then a few hours later, here's Aaron
bringing what was left of the party (da boy did look a little haggard –
did he sleep?) to 7th District Tony Hall's Rules Committee.
I never really did figure out what the hell they wanted.
They'd lost Harry Parker somewhere along the way & he was probably the
only one in the city who knew why they were there. Library Boss Susan
Hildreth said some stuff about books and stuff. Jim Lazarus talked about
the importance of keeping your neat stuff out of the rain or something.
Peskin kept trying to make a deal & get the hell out of there.
It seems the 53 people Aaron has been partying with form
some kind of massive fine arts cabal that has the power to sell every
piece of art in the public domain or trade it for a big foot on the
waterfront. When they left, I think they left with an option to take
over all of the historical artifacts gathered in the various basements &
attics of city departments. Something like that.
Let's do this. Let's put it all in the Old Mint & put a
big dog to guard it until Willie Brown gets his gold watch. (Don't
scratch it, Willie, it will only break your heart.)
The only thing I DID understand was a semantics debate
between Chair Hall & Vice Chair Gonzalez. One of the proposed
collections was from the LGBT Historical Society. Hall did not want to
specifically acknowledge sexual orientation as a criterion for an
assembled collection. I mean, I can understand. I disagree but I
understand. Who wants to steer the grandkids around a collection of …
ahem … of … you get the idea.
But a city that can let a bunch of naked senior citizens
on Viagra run the entire route of the Bay to Breakers has room for some
vintage plaster molds of Jimmy Hendrix's “thing” (there used to be a
museum downtown that featured his & other rock stars' ).
I'm outta here. Anyway, Hall worked out a compromise
with Gonzalez and gays get to be a part of San Francisco history.
Monday, May 20
by h. brown
first came the churches
then came the schools …
then came the liars
then came the rules …
– Telegraph Road: Dire Straits
It was a dream weekend. This is a town where you can
still live your dream and not get arrested doing it. Friday night Jens
Neilsen moved back to town. Ole Jens, he could be the cover boy for
“High Times.” Some category like "Lifetime Achievement in Pot
Consumption." I'll tell you about him later. I was his roommate for one
fuzzy year when Reagan was president.
Saturday I slept till people started kicking me (don't
block the door to the bathroom in a hippie pad). Then I jogged South of
Market & caught an enclave of “chance takers, dream makers & heart
breakers.” It was cool.
The Green Party was “training” candidates for public
office. It was kinda like watching the Chicago Cubs work out in spring
training. I mean, you know they're gonna get killed once the season
starts, but optimism in the face of disaster is always an admirable
I kept expecting Ernie Banks to stand up and make a
speech. Instead, we got Rich DeLeon & Matt Gonzalez. Two great speakers.
DeLeon announced he was turning Green. Maybe it was something in the
quiche. I commented that I'd join the Greens for a beer but there warn't
none. I'll remain, as one foxy little number from Pacific Heights
described herself, "Decline to State."
Ooooh, that's kinda sexy. Like the first paper you file
when you decide to run for public office is called the "Declaration of
Intent." It's kind of a “let the public beware” thing for your friends,
neighbors & family. It means you can start collecting money. The chick
declined to state her declaration of intent however & she didn't have
any beer either, so I moved on.
Before I left, she said something like they were
"counting on me." That was puzzling. Then I noticed that the name tag
they gave me said, "Candidate for Supervisor, District 2." Usually, I
get a press pass & people put stuff in your food. Now, here's someone
asking for my help.
You know someone named “Daniela Kirshenbaum” from Pacific Heights?
Expect an announcement for supervisor real soon. Five minutes with me
should have sent a message to “help thyself.” Not that I can't win. But
the Cubs do have a better chance.
The “dream makers” were all around. You call em
lobbyists or consultants or campaign managers or whatever. For the right
money, they can send Bugs Bunny to Congress. The “heart breakers” were
there. Journalists, that is. Met Adriel Hampton of the Examiner for the
first time. He kinda looks like Clark Kent of the Daily Planet. Sam Wong
from the Independent was there. He always looks at me like I'm a suicide
bomber or something.
Ahhhh, to be a card-carrying member of the “fourth
estate.” Feared & loved. Sought after. And avoided. Sounds like the
grounds for my last divorce.
They were all there. They couldn't figure it out. The
lobbyists and the press were trying to figure out why this small (no
more than 150) group of “progressives” has been able to kick their asses
so soundly the last couple of years. Well, the Cubs had to win sometime.
Can it continue? Probably.
Daniela could very easily be the new District 2
supervisor next year at this time. Joel Ventresca could finally punch
through a win in 4. Only fools will run against Chris Daly in 6. 8 will
be a liberal LGBT & Sophie Maxwell will lay waste the Burton/Brown
candidate in 10.
Yeah, sorry, Willie. It's gonna get worse. Or better for
the people. You and John don't care about that though. Feathering the
old nests. We'll add a little barbed wire to your construction. Your
final San Francisco monument will be the huge garage attached to your
alma mater, Hastings College. Thanks, guys. Hope you got a bunch. May
the blood of every pedestrian killed because of the increased congestion
brought by your garage be poured upon your graves for all of the years
the garage exists. And eternity.
Then came Billy Bob Thornton
I never go anywhere. Well, hardly ever. And hardly
I did on Saturday night though. A bunch of us gathered
under my daughter Mona's umbrella & went to the most famous performance
hall in rock & roll history. We went to the Fillmore. And we saw Billy
Bob Thornton sing.
t was a memory. Them's better'n gold you know.
We're scared shitless … we're playing the
– Billy Bob gives the hall its proper due
There were twelve of us. Young and old. Tall & short.
Fat & skinny. Ugly and beautiful. A nice mixed demographic. Ohhh, we had
common features. I think almost everyone was an alcoholic.
We came to watch Billy Bob Thornton play in a band. And
to see Earl Scruggs’ kid, Randy, play the hell out of a wired,
wide-bodied acoustic guitar. (String musicians tell me they can feel the
vibrations returned to their flesh only from an “acoustic-designed”
frame. Pianos, too. Computer chips don't make love to musicians)
Soooo believe it or not, it's 24 hours later & the same
people are still laughing & mocking & drinking & running around me. I
took a poll. All the girls wanted to jump Billy Bob's bones. Big time.
Personally, I wouldn't have picked him up hitch-hiking, but I loved the
music. With the girls, things got more primal.
The dude has the frame of a heavy-duty speed freak & a
voice that combines Johnny Cash with Conway Twitty. He wore a bandana,
jeans, silver crosses (afraid of vampires?) & a red silk unbuttoned
blood-red shirt that flowed. And flowed. And flowed. It was a dream
weekend & Billy Bob was living his dream.
Hey, I used to own a nightclub. Quarter century ago.
Booked talent. Lotsa great musicians. The boy (Billy Bob) put together a
really competent band. It reminded me of the kind of talent that used to
play behind Elvis Presley. Billy Bob is a far better singer. I've heard
better. A thousand times. (And, he is indeed good) A thousand great
musicians who are now changing tires and pumping gas and pushing up
daisies. But, Billy Bob, like the political wannabes I'd watched earlier
in the day, was living his dream.
For the Danielas and the Jim Reids, it's a short trip to
the Department of Elections, where they drop their $500 on August 5 and
enter the race for supervisor. I did it. You can too. Then you hit the
I spent $20. You might wanna spend more. Billy Bob did.
I surveyed the room. Maybe a thousand people. $30 a head. Not enough to
cover the nut on a back-up group that included three dynamite guitar
players who switched from lead to rhythm like it was nuttin. A keyboard
player who could play with anyone on earth. Two heavy banging drummers,
a solo bass & a back-up singer with a body to … well, I don't need to
get tooo graphic here too. Anyway, I'm betting this tour is costing
Billy Bob money. And I'm evaluating that it is money well spent.
Look for Billy's song “Elevator,” about the way he met
Angelina Jolie for the first time & couldn't believe he ended up:
"having it all." Thanks for the memory, Billy Bob, hope we gave you one
Then came the race
I got up at 5:30 am to do the trash. (Ya can't lie in
the doorway ALL the time) I couldn't believe it was raining on race day.
Raining for a Bay to Breakers!
Like always, I tossed & tried to make up reasons not to
go. Something was tight or something else hurt. I was too hung over &
yet not yet drunk enough. I found a half of a half pint & mixed it in
some brutally unforgiving day-old coffee. And struggled up to the
kitchen where I found Monica making a complicated triple-cheese quiche
on a butter-drenched tortilla base when even ambitious chickens were
still asleep. She had to make a bunch. There were a couple of clobbered
Buddhist monks asleep against the walls, Melisa's broken foot never hurt
her appetite, there were at least another half dozen scheduled in, and
Matt Gonzalez & his roommates had promised Bloody Marys to all who could
reach his open garage front halfway up Hayes Hill.
I dug deep & had another shot. One cannot disappoint
one's public. The rain got more serious. Aimee had awakened & she & Ania
were mixing orange juice with champagne & passing it out to people who
no longer remembered (or cared) their identities. Vaguely, I walked to
the front windows to watch the rain wash off the sins of the previous
weeks & sipped at the sprightly & tangy mimosa. I wondered what the poor
people were doing.
The Kenyans are fast! However, Andromeda & Gillian (our
advance party) beat them to Gonzalez's garage. Ya know, rain's not so
bad if you're drunk enough. I left the rest of the party to find their
way & jogged off to intercept the 200,000 or so insane compatriots who
would soon make me realize that in this town, at least, I'm a pretty
conservative guy. I reached Hayes Hill & hooked up with Nat, an online
friend, and her kids. We watched lots of people who shouldn't even be
naked when they take a bath parade in their altogether proudly. The kids
turned their heads. I shook mine. The dog next door just raised his leg.
The 2002 Bay to Breakers was underway!
It was one hell of a race. Of course, any true San
Franciscan knows that the Bay to Breakers is only a “race” for the first
200 or so competitors. To the rest of us, it is a parade. It is a chance
to party & dance & drink & sing … with everyone … all across town … once
a year. I always see people at the Bay to Breakers that I haven't seen
since the last Bay to Breakers. It's always a happy reunion. People say
stuff like, "I see you had a penile implant" or "How are the wife &
kids?" You know, San Francisco stuff. Gonzalez was a great host.
The Hayes Hill six-lock incline is the toughest section
of the 7.46 mile race. For 90 years or so, the people on Hayes Hill have
dedicated themselves to making the passage through this toughest part of
the course as delightful as possible. They play music (often live) loud
enough to break your friggin' ear drums. They break out water hoses to
cool the sweaty runners. Some throw beer on you! They take your picture
and point. They laugh & they cheer. They encourage & they mock. And many
of them have kegs & open garage bars. Ya gotta love that stretch of the
competition. Many's the year I never made it to the top of Hayes Hill.
This year, the big change was the rain. It rained. And
it rained. Then it rained some more. It was great! Although I never made
it to the top of the hill, people who did told me that it rained all the
way to the ocean. I wouldn't know. The Bloody Marys were great. A
supervisorial roomie whose name I'm too drunk to recall set up an entire
“camera obscura” (like the one at the Cliff House Willie is trashing) in
the front of the house & you had to walk through this pitch-black room
to see this reflection that didn't work cause it was raining outside,
you dummy! And of course, I was drunk. But it was fun bumping around the
dark room with lots of chicks and a tangy tomato brew.
Again (out of respect) I paused to wonder what the poor
people were doing. Then I looked around again and realized that I was
surrounded by them. Eating muffins. Standing on roofs. Dancing endless
conga lines in the rain in the street. Carrying left. Carrying right.
Covered & nude. Da smooth & da crude. Drinkin da booze & munchin da
food. San Francisco. Sunday morning. Thanks for the memory.
Friday, May 17
by h. brown
If you can keep your head when all about you
are losing theirs and blaming it on you …
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
yet make allowances for their doubting too.
– “If,” by Rudyard Kipling
You guys are just losing your mind!!!
– Aaron Peskin evaluates SFO staff
Stand … … if you're able.
– Chris Daly, noticing that a good part of the
audience is disabled
Open note to Aaron Peskin
I'm a little guy. I used to be 5'5" & they say you lose
an inch or so a decade after 50, so I'm probably nearer 5'4". In other
words, Aaron, I'm short like you.
When I was young it mattered. I was a good athlete but
never big enough to be a standout. The girls left me behind at ten or so
& I never caught up. Sometimes people bullied me. But I had an edge.
Same edge you got, Aaron. I was smarter than pretty much everyone else.
It didn't take long to realize that I could do more damage with a
comment or two than 200-pound bullies could do with their fists.
I've done catastrophic damage to people who didn't
deserve it in debate, conversation, and argumentation. Oh, I've skewered
a bunch who did deserve it, too (such as yourself). Point is, I've had
to learn that my intelligence & quick wit and control of the language
could make me worse than the bullies who twisted my arm in the
schoolyard when I was young.
You need to learn that. Big time. Case in point. Former
San Francisco City Supervisor John Bardis.
John Bardis gives the best free advice in town. He is
urbane, level-headed & absolutely brilliant. Bardis knows the city
charter. Particularly, the portions pertaining to the powers of the
Board of Supervisors. He is probably their biggest fan.
Weekly, Bardis takes the podium during public comment at
the board or any one of the board's committees. It seems to be his
hobby. He always adds positively to the debate. Aaron Peskin hates him.
At Wednesday's Finance Committee meeting, Peskin got
Controller Ed Harrington to join him in denigrating Bardis. It was ugly.
Peskin responded to Bardis's testimony with a sarcastic: "Thank you for
that lesson in Civics."
What Peskin resents is that Bardis always reminds the
members of the board of the power they actually possess as opposed to
the small percentage they actually use. Bardis continually calls upon
the board to stand up and challenge the mayor. He challenges them to
take actual control of the budget as their right under the charter.
Peskin, too cowardly to do this (only Daly & Gonzalez dare) … Peskin
would prefer to shoot the messenger.
Last week when Bardis spoke, Daly was interested in the
line he was pursuing. Now, if the supes want further information from a
member of the public who has spoken, they can extend the speaker's time
by simply asking a question. The favored form is to say three simple
words: "Tell me more."
When it comes to Bardis, Peskin will not only never
allow him any amplification; he won't let other supes do it either. He
interrupted a Daly question to Bardis last week mid-phrase with the
peremptory, "I don't want to continue this!!"
This week Controller Ed Harrington jumped in to pummel
Bardis (who is NEVER allowed to reply): "The PREVIOUS speaker …" Now,
Harrington can play Court Flunky in any Broadway production. He knows
Bardis was a supe. He knows his name. When Ammiano chairs an event or
acts as presiding officer at the board, he acknowledges "former
Supervisor Willie Kennedy" or "former Supervisor Amos Brown."
Ammiano is a gentleman. Peskin is a tyrant.
Are you Gloria Young?
– Gloria Young inquires of “Harry Potter”
The Trans-Bay Terminal project was up before Finance
again, too. A half million bucks or something to continue studying it or
something. The thing could run 3 billion if we're lucky.
I'm backing it because the mayor's project manager Maria
Ayardi is the best-looking woman in San Francisco. My only concession is
that I want Da Mayor & Maria to stand hand-in-hand underneath a
three-story pane of glass (uh huh, they want to build a huge glass
terminal in quake city). They should stand underneath a mock-up of the
building while it is shaken to the equivalent of a 5 … 6 … 7 … 8 reading
on the Richter scale. That could be what you'll be doing with your kids
or grandkids when the next big one hits.
Anyway, you got me off the point. Maria will do that to
you. Point was, something funny. There was this guy with Ayardi who
looked and acted like a senior Harry Potter gone senile … on acid! I'm
not kidding. Watch the tape. He had the Oxford dress look. The
tortoise-shell glasses. And he clearly did not know where he was or what
he was supposed to be doing. He sat in the front row next to Ayardi &
kept wandering back up to the podium in between speakers as though he
were going to speak again. It got kind of comical.
Finally, a member of the committee called for Board
Clerk Gloria Young to come up & respond to a query. Up comes Harry
Potter, in his own little trance. That prompted Young's inquiry. I hope
they took him back to the old wizard's home when the hearing ended. Just
another rule to remember: If you are scheduled to testify … don't do LSD
before the hearing!
That is COMPLETELY false & untrue!!!
– Harvey Rose evaluates Planning Director
Gerald Green's testimony
Gerald Green's department is Willie's right arm. They
work when they want, upon whatever they feel like working on & they get
in the way or give false directions to everything else. You cannot
believe a damned thing they say. You gotta admire that in civil
Now, Gerald is an able man. Devoid, by appointment, of
moral or ethical high ground, he relies upon very expensive suits, one
of the better (though simple – in comparison, I used to own 200
neckties) tie collections, and a very menacing stare. I mean, Gerald can
give you a look that can make a grown male go weewee in his pants.
Except for Chris Daly & Harvey Rose.
Green was asking for more money to get his department's
computers up & going again & the budget analyst (Rose) was saying that
the root of the problem was “managerial.”
It was great theater. 6th District supe Daly
is vice chair of Finance & Peskin kind of had to pull him & Rose off
Green's defiant figure. (Incidentally, Chris, lose the beard, for good!
Sitting next to Peskin, it makes you guys look like a Vicks Brothers
cough drop box. You don't need to look older. Trust us, that will come
on its own.)
Soooo, Peskin separates Green from Daly. Then Peskin
separates Rose from Green. Then Peskin jumps on top of SFO figurehead
John Martin & starts kicking the stuffing out of him. That part, I
When it was over, Peskin was sitting there with smoke
coming out both ears & Daly & Rose & everyone else were just kind of
staring at him & Daly says: "Jeez, I thought I was hard on Director
Green." It was a true Kodak moment.
A great hearing. Two asides …
One, Peskin (being sensitive as usual) said that he was
glad that Daly had "evolved" toward accepting the Trans-Bay project.
What Peskin did not say was that the project previously had been
described by the incomparable Maria Ayardi as needing up to 3 million
square feet of office space to be viable. When the office boom went
bust, the plans suddenly included more housing. That's what brought Daly
around. Peskin was simply in a mood to bully. Anyone would do. He was
still reacting to the ass kicking he took from Karen Skelton the day
Second aside, if I personally had 3 billion dollars & a
tuxedo, I'd give the 3 billion to Maria Ayardi to build whatever she
wanted, if she'd just go to the prom with me.
Newsom vs. h. brown
I asked around City Hall why the hell a young, strong,
smart, good looking & rich guy like Gavin Newsom would give up his home
ground to a barbarian such as myself in the November elections. The most
common reply was something along the lines of "You're a joke!" or "His
dog could beat you!" Things like that.
But one of the answers I got surprised me. Someone said
that it probably had to do with his panhandling. Really. It seems that
you can only hit up a fat cat once a year or some such stuff. Since
he'll need serious money to draw attention from his deficiencies when he
runs for mayor next year, it makes sense for him to pass up mud
wrestling with h. brown for peanuts.
Message to Gav: there or not, you will be the subject of
my every reply in every debate. Run from that.
you smell something?