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Friday, June 21, 2002

h. brown's columns of June 13, June 17, and June 19.

June 19, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

"Fair & foul are near akin …

and fair needs foul!', I cried.

– Yeats, “Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop”

I love poetry. I love to start my column with a little poetry. Often it is a stretch to relate the phrases I choose to the story I'm telling, but I don't care. Everyone who reads the English language should read a little Yeats.

OK, let me figure some way to justify this particular phrase.

Ahhh, yeah. “Crazy George.” That's it. And Cathy Garza.

Now I'm cooking. You may be asking how do Crazy Jane, Crazy George & Cathy Garza relate to City Hall? Let me explain.

Upgrading Uncle Tom’s Transport

A friend offered me a marguerita if I got off my ass and came to the Willie Dome Monday. That'll do it. I arrived around 5:00 pm after watching the board for three hours somewhere else.

(“10 at 10” is coming on KFOG while I write this & they're opening with “American Pie,” so I may have to stop & dance.) Front of City Hall & the two limos & the cocktail van… ("Did you write the book of love & do you have faith in God above? Do you believe in rock & roll and can music cure your immortal soul?") …

I was a lonely teenage bronkin buck

with a pink carnation & a pickup truck

City Hall … City Hall … Yeah … I saw my friend waiting up on the stairs as I crossed Polk Street. I waved & paused at the rear door of the long, long, long black limo parked behind Da Mayor's limo. Extending my left hand to the handle, I motioned for her to come down & get it. You know, kind of cute & humorous. Like I had ordered the limo to transport us to the bar.

You had to be there.

I surveyed the van behind the limos and realized I had a story before I even walked through the metal detectors. I was there mostly to watch Willie's hand crafted Civil Service Commission throw rose petals at Tammy Haygood. And to kick by and watch Gavin Newsom (tool of the imperialist war mongers AND Commies, which is a neat trick) strut a bit. I wasn't to be disappointed.

You got that? OK, OK, OK. Haygood is the former head of the Department of Elections who was appointed by Willie and fired by the new Elections Commission. Newsom is the anti-Falun Gong, pro-Bechtel District #2 supervisor appointed by Mayor Brown at the behest of State Senate President Pro-tem John Burton and anointed by Gordon (my other wife is a Volvo) Getty as our next mayor. If I have to tell you who Getty is … go read the funnies.

Anyway, the two half pints of cheap bourbon hadn't been wasted & I was in a playful mood as I stepped back to survey the line of transport.

I knew the mayor would have the not-so-Reverend Amos Brown & his cohorts at the meeting of the Civil Service Commission. They'd ride down in a van & file upstairs and scream “racist!” at anything that moved. Hey, everyone needs a calling & that's theirs.

I was wondering if the Rev had stopped by the Gap & outfitted himself in the 1960's civil rights worker denim ensemble that he often wears to these bashes. I love it when people go in costume.

Denim and limos. Only in San Francisco. And what an improvement on the old van. The one behind the limos looked like a rolling cocktail lounge. Swivel seats that swirled to surround little tables with deep multiple wells which were filled with bottles that, for the life of me, looked like bourbon, scotch & vodka. I gazed through the windows and considered going upstairs to put in a good word for Haygood. Naw, I already had a buzz going and Amos might think I was insincere.

We strolled over to the Temple Bar to catch a piece of Happy Hour. When we returned, everything seemed fuzzier & funnier. I realized City Hall reminded me of a multi-story whorehouse in Cannes I went to in 1964 when I was a sailor. Like City Hall, the place was full of people selling various levels of debauchery. I stuck to the 1st floor, which had around five bars. I was still a good boy and “knew” the harlots not. (I've always regretted that.)

At the Hall Monday, the bar was pulled to the curb in front. On the second floor, Newsom and his cohorts were metaphorically standing on their desks, taking turns directing long streams of metaphorical urine at one another. My kind of scene. I stopped a sheriff's deputy in the hall and asked if he'd mind planting some dope on me. He had no sense of humor.

Inside the board, Newsom was at his hypocritical best. He applauded as 650 of his District #2 residents bellowed their opposition to Da Mayor's Planning Commission decision to radiate their asses with various sizes and shapes of cell phone mothership antenna structures. Ole Gav, he never mentioned that his past votes have shown him to have no problem with radiating black and brown and yellow people in other neighborhoods. I asked one of the voters about the other neighborhood votes and he objected: "WE'RE a diverse neighborhood too!" he insisted. I pointed out that his was, in fact, the least diverse neighborhood in town, being 80 percent white meat. For rich people, they sure are dumb.

As those of you who read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal know by now, I'm running against Newsom for the post of supervisor in the second district. These people need someone like me to hold a mirror to them so's they can see the deformity of their values. Gavin only uses mirrors to apply his daily gallon of axle grease to his hair and to get that “American Gigolo” sartorial look just perfect.

I sat with my back to the furthest wall and watched San Francisco's answer to "bring in the clowns" exchange more “streams.” Gavin was in top form. When supervisors Daly and Sandoval suggested amending an approval of an interim budget from the mayor's office to guarantee Willie didn't fire any poor people or pull contracts for non-profits, Newsom crooned long and with sweeping gestures in criticism. He occasionally checked the TV monitors to make certain the axle grease hadn't failed him. As Carly Simon noted: "(He) had one eye on the mirror as he watched himself go by." Finally, satisfied he'd captured enough face time with his infomercial, he voted IN FAVOR of both amendments.

I'd seen and been seen enough. I stopped and leaned over to whisper something to a sexy young thing as I left and headed upstairs where, like at Cannes, things were even more twisted. I'll tell you what I said to her later.

It was a good night.

Good luck, Tammy

Upstairs the meeting of the Civil Service Commission was just getting ready to start. I've never seen more lying, degenerate, two-faced, drunken back stabbers. And that was just the press.

Inspired by Newsom's display two floors down, I hurried over to convey my best wishes to Ms. Haygood. Her supporters started speaking and I mused about making the speakers stand in a big litter box before the microphone as they talked. Whew!!

As the stench got too heavy even for me, Peter F. came up and said that the meeting hadn't been properly noticed and was therefore not legal. The commission's view on the matter was clear: "We don't need no stinkin' notices!"

I trailed Peter out to see what the hell he was trying to pull. His actions were kind of like toasting the Falun Gong at a party at Rose Pak's house. He offered to buy me a drink. My opinion of him soared.

I knew the guy looked familiar. Turns out I'd seen him twice. We'd clinked wine glasses at a dinner at DBI Commissioner Denise D'Anne's house right after the new Board of Supes were elected & board president Ammiano had appointed D'Anne a commissioner. A gracious and pleasant evening.

There was one more time. Someone had given me a tip that the head of a local group of builders was up to no good at a meeting in a diner in the Western Addition & I shadowed the place & trailed the builder & his guest. Turns out, it was Peter. "He hasn't spoken to me since!" he exclaimed.

He asked how I'd found out about the meeting. I told him my tip came from Aaron Peskin. It hadn't, but I always like to get Aaron into my columns. I asked if he had Aaron's home number. It's important to be helpful.

Voting for someone & endorsing them are two different things.

– 5th District supervisor Matt Gonzalez

Sometimes you learn something when you talk to politicians. True, not very often, but sometimes.

That happened to me the other day. I asked the art community's beacon on the board Gonzalez who he was going to endorse for assessor in the November elections. I allowed as to not liking the politics of either choice. I said that I thought that Ward had allowed fat cat Walter Shorenstein and a host of other District #2 greedsters (boy does that district need my guiding hand) evade millions and millions in taxes but that Teng would probably do the same.

“Gonzo” replied by noting that if Ward won, it would be her last term and we'd have a chance to choose someone a bit more progressive sooner, rather than later.

Smoke drifted out of my ears as I thought deeply on this one. He was right. Better to go for the political hack with the shorter shelf-life.

"So, will you be endorsing Doris?" I asked. That's when he made the comment above. "Voting for someone & endorsing them are two different things." Hmmm. Along those lines, I'm ready to make my first endorsement for November.

Re-elect Chris Daly!!!

I like Marc Salomon better. I like Garrett Jenkins better. Hell, I like Britney Spears better. But Chris Daly has most certainly earned another term as District 6 supervisor.

A very wise man once told me, "You will not be judged by the quality of your friends. You will be judged by the quality of your enemies." My man Daly has compiled a truly impressive list of enemies. Examiner spinmeister supreme Frank Gallagher does the thinking and minimeisters like Ken Garcia of the Chronicle copy his thoughts shamelessly (without attribution). Too early to give Garcia a really proper golden shower. Let's just say he's managed to get this particular vicious jackal off the fence and into Daly's camp.

Chris “Kid” Daly, man of the people. Ken Garcia, lawn jockey to the rich. Easy choice.

On the lighter side

Top mayoral staffer Steve Kawa got contact lenses! I actually prefer the little round tortoiseshell things he used to wear, but I'm just old fashioned. Then again, maybe he's not wearing contacts. Maybe Willie just looks better if your vision is blurred.

Now ties are another matter.

Deputy City Attorney Ted Lakey continues to lead the tie parade. Not just ties either. Like Richard Corey, Lakey is "thin & imperially tailored from sole to crown."

Controller Ed Harrington & Board Budget Analyst Harvey Rose tie for second place, with very strong colors that draw the eye without offending. But despite their respective abilities and resolve, they both lack Lakey's total cool.

Yeah, that matters. Really.

Both Rose and Harrington tend to sometimes show a bit too much passion in their presentations and it distracts from the wardrobe. You don't see top clotheshorses showing emotion on the runway.

Honorable mentions go to Gonzalez's haircut and Amos Brown's Gap denims. Last place is shared by every single legislative assistant in the building. Hey, not wanting to outshine the boss is one thing but, I mean, jeez.

Where was I?

Yeah, “Crazy Jane.” How did I justify starting with Yeats? ’Cause the sexy number I whispered to as I left the board meeting was Newsom's aide Cathy Garza, and some people insist that she sometimes goes under the pen name “Crazy George” online. I wouldn't know about that, but she's smart, strong, and great to break up a bleak landscape, so there.

What'd I whisper to her? Well, as I left, her boss was saying something about why he was supporting balancing the budget on the backs of the lower level city workers. What I said was, I said this: "How do you get to be the mayor by attacking unions?"

I know, it wasn't very original, but I wanted to say something to her.

deny everything: sobone@juno.com


June 17, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

What manner of man is this?

– City Hall meets h. brown

My “bark,” as they say, is worse than my bite. Politicians as a lot are very easy to scare. They're mostly lying, secretive, gutless, and spend way too much time on their hair. If there are easier targets for a keyboard comic like myself, please let me know.

I, on the other hand, am the opposite. My friends assure me that I am far too honest, cannot keep a secret, and am bold to the point of utter stupidity. I have two hair styles, both chosen for low maintenance. The first is a severe buzzcut. It kind of looks like I've just been prepared for execution by electrocution (which has been recommended often). The second makes me look like a Neanderthal hunter/gatherer. The styles, I think, suit me equally.

More bad news

As I finished the last paragraph, I was handed a letter from the State Employment Development Department. My claim for extended benefits is "NOT" allowed. Luckily, I'm a really upbeat kind of guy or this run of luck might get me down.

I'm going to go apply for General Assistance tomorrow. Sometimes things work out for the best and this will help me in my campaign against Newsom. GA is the only option left for me, and Gavin is trying to take that away. I should truly understand the position of folks on GA by the time this experience is over. I can already see that Noose's legislation would force me off my friends' couches and into a filthy, dangerous & vermin-infested shelter in order to get anything. I mean, think about that. I'm just not all that certain that putting a harder squeeze on truly desperate people is a good idea. Now, I'll truly be one of them.

Newsom's attitude reminds me of an expression we used to use around the firehouse: "If you're looking for sympathy, look in the dictionary between shit and syphilis."

Speaking of shit

I try to help out the friends who help me out by doing small chores. I run errands. I tote trash. And I clean up the vomit and shit left by the drunken crack heads, heroin addicts, and bums who have come to control much of our city's streets.

Believe me, I have less sympathy for them than Supervisors Tony Hall & Gavin Newsom show. Hey, I have industrial-strength janitorial skills, but these street people can be a real challenge.

I was complaining to a few friends at a jam for my son-in-law Kudzai's 27th birthday party last Saturday & my buddy Phil said something I'd never heard: "h., you know what you do if you have to take a shit & there's no place to go? You shit in a bag & throw it in the trash."

Well, I'm old and I'm gnarled, but it disgusted me. Still, the more I thought of it, the more I realized that it was a good point. Where have we gotten to when we consider putting paper bags for human shit next to the dispensers for doggie doo? I noted this morning that the Examiner's Adriel Hampton quoted another of my opponents for supervisor, attorney Lynne Newhouse Segal (and I thought only Arkansas rednecks & Euro-trash used three names). Ms. Segal said she'd let Newsom “drive” the homeless issue.

Now there's a brave politician. Let someone else do the work. Let someone else take a stand. Let someone else come up with a solution. Hell, if she gets any more vague and cowardly, maybe she should run for governor. (Welcome to h. brown's world, Lynne – don't say Gavin didn't warn you.)

It's tough to build a movement

– Jim Dorenkott, aide de camp to Matt Gonzalez

The last political refuge for old hippies like myself is the Green Party.

Now, I'm not a Green. The last thing I want to do is weaken compatriots, and I do believe my joining their party might do just that. I'm a “decline-to-state” kind of guy. Still, I admire the Greens and I'll be voting for them as the opportunity presents itself. Marc Salomon, Kimberley Knox, Dorenkott & Gonzalez are a serious brain trust and they are nice to me.

Orwell said in “1984” that the most important thing in life was "to be understood" & I know just what he meant. I drive most of my “old” friends nuts with my compulsive political behavior, but this quartet of Greens and my publisher, Betsey Culp at The Call, are the only people I hang with who understand everything I say. And share my commitment to change. Simpatico. I've recently met another columnist, a reporter & an editor who share my political passions. Oddly, their own views are pretty much opposite mine & it doesn't seem to matter.

That's a real long lead into one phrase, but it's a great phrase. It's Jim's phrase. When we're frazzled. Looking for a place to crash. Hoping for another beer. Hungover. Discouraged.

That's when the usually mum Dorenkott says it. Same thing. Everytime.

"It's tough to build a movement."

That's what he says: "It's tough to build a movement." It is, too. Add it to your book of all purpose enigmatic phrases.

I gotta go. It's almost 1:00 pm on Monday & the Board of Supes is considering 100 items today. Lafco is meeting at 6:30 pm. Tammy Haygood has a hearing before Willie's Civil Service Commission at 6:00 pm. And I have to find something to drink. Or maybe a little pot.

For an unemployed bum, I sure keep busy. It is, after all, as they say, “tough to build a movement.”

try harder: sobone@juno.com


June 13, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

With all his strength, he gave a mighty shove …

then a miner yelled out: “There's a light up above!!”

– “Big John” (Burton pushes Hastings)

What the hell is happening with reporters in this town? This morning Stephanie Salter insulted a nun & voiced her desire to choke a supervisor and a housing activist. A couple of blocks over, P.J. Corkery was admitting he published a bald-faced lie defaming Board of Supervisors president Tom Ammiano while fellow columnist Frank Gallagher was skillfully planting another falsehood about Tom & Da Mayor's decision to axe a bunch of laundry workers.

Man, I'm feeling ripped off here. Lies, distortions, slander … that's MY territory. Hell, it's getting to where you can walk across the bay on the backs of the bottom feeders without touching sea bed.

Maybe that's a “good” thing.

Another h. brown reader (a truly nasty lot) writes to say that not only does James Fang have a list of "untouchables" his reporters are not to defame but that Gavin Newsom isn't the only supervisor on the list. Claiming he'd seen the list and was withholding the supe's name because he liked em, the reader promised to obtain a copy of the list. Surely, he can't believe I'd go to press with such unsubstantiated garbage.

Well, maybe, but “it would be wrong.”

Our best guesstimate over the half gallon of tequila was that the unnamed supe is Mark Leno because he was at the Fang's Christmas party, smiling and stuff.

And "STUFF"??! Well, I'm under pressure here. Now, with even the girl writers turning violent, I'm lowering my standards yet again to reassert my standing as Prince of the Lower Regions.

Along those lines: "Hey Stephanie … you wanna choke something?" OK, OK, we'll save that for next column.

Let's be real here. The only chance any of us ever had of stopping “Seward's folly” was if John Burton chose to actually weigh in on our side in the garage issue. It seems that may have happened.

She walked up to me

and she asked me to dance …

said her name was Lola …

yeah, yeah, uh huh … Lola

I thought heroin lasted longer. The chick with the huge jugs next door came out to meet the used-to-be fox in the big brown Buick & they made an exchange. Big boobs left & as I hammered out my copy on the old keyboard and watched out the window, Ms. Used-To-Be tied off her left arm and shot up whatever it was she'd just bought. She was back 30 minutes later to do it one more time. I called Ania over to watch her shoot up. It's Ania's apartment where my computer lives. She shook her head & looked at the license plates: "She came from IDAHO to shoot up in front of my window!?" The petite Polish artist scanned my copy. "She's a guy!" she exclaimed. "And this isn't very funny. You should make it funnier."

A big greyhound leading a diminutive APA chick stopped to take a dump across the street. I was there. In the right mood for viewing Peskin's Finance Committee. I stuffed the last sprinklings of pot into the little brass pipe & turned on the tube. “Lola” ain't the only one who knows how to get a rush around here.

Penny wise and pound foolish

Willie and the rich people are going to drain this city of every dollar possible before Da Mayor's term ends in 17 1/2 months. They'll hand every piece of valuable property possible over to the control of the society crowd. Additionally, they'll go and borrow every dime they can get and co-sign the loans with your name.

Yep, John/Jane Q. Public. It is truly amazing that the new board often gets caught counting change while hundreds of millions head out the door of the city vault. Take yesterday's (June 12) Finance Committee meeting.

The city can borrow another billion and a half or so before we reach our debt ceiling. Yesterday in Finance, the committee voted to recommend approval of something over 300 million dollars of that amount. For projects that are dubious at best.

Board president Tom Ammiano sponsored a request for 150 million of debt for “Pedestrian Safety and Livable Streets General Obligation Bonds.” Ghilotti concrete must have broken out a few bottles of champagne over the committee passage of this measure. While the city seems unable to keep working light bulbs in Tenderloin traffic and pedestrian signals, the replacement of perfectly functional curb cut-outs has rolled forward at a truly amazing rate. Cut-outs installed AFTER Willie became mayor are now being replaced with wider and more numerous cut-outs. You could see this one coming since last year. A child was killed in front of a school in Ammiano's district and he vowed to improve pedestrian safety. It didn't take long for the mayor to figure out how to use Ammiano's good will on behalf of the concrete kings.

Hey Tom, we don't need the new cut-outs. We need enough Treatment-on-Demand slots.

Folks, you can bet your gold pimp chains that most of this borrowed money will go into the hands of Willie's campaign contributors in the construction trades.

Then, they took out after the vets.

Supervisors Chris Daly and Gerardo Sandoval (who doesn't show for most of the legislation he sponsors or else makes a quick cameo appearance) … Daly & Sandoval got behind the Museum of Modern Art people in their move to add another huge public building to their domain. They wanted to borrow 120 million dollars to retro-fit and redesign the Veterans' Building across from City Hall. The goal, of course, is to shut the vets out of as much of their building as possible. As one perplexed vet noted in Public Comment: "These people only showed up a year ago & they've taken over everything."

Yep, the same folks who promised you a free garage under the Concourse in Golden Gate Park. Wait, I am wrong. The garage won't be free. It will cost you $10 or so for a minimal visit to the underground monstrosity and now the rich folks who spawned the idea want 45 million of public funds to build their “free” garage.

It's about control. people. Of everything of any value. “Too much is not enough” for these greedy bastards. They want it all.

Soooo, in the case of the Veterans' Building, you're gonna have the unfortunately not unique opportunity to add more public debt to repair a structure for the SECOND time. First time, the money didn't quite make it back to the project you voted on.

The Fangs keep choke hold

There it was buried way back on the agenda. Item 49: "Resolution designating the San Francisco Independent to be the official newspaper of the City and County of San Francisco for the category of non-consecutive day official advertising."

Public speakers and committee members noted that the Fangs had fired 40 percent of their production people for trying to unionize. Illegal to do that, Madame Fang. But they got by with it.

They don't publish three times a week, despite their claims. For awhile they folded their skimpy Saturday edition (notable only because they put Samson Wong's column on the 1st page) into the Examiner, which they also own, but no longer.

The company didn't even bother to send a representative to the hearing. Hell, the rules for bidding on the work were written so's ONLY the Independent could qualify. It's a disgrace.

The Fangs also bid for Outreach Advertising to the Chinese community with their AsianWeek, published weekly. Trouble is, it's published in English only and over 40 percent of the target audience doesn't speak or read English.

We're in a real fix here, gang. The last thing we want is to become a one-newspaper town when the one paper is owned by the Hearsts. The Chandlers (LA Times) these people ain't. Stilllll, when you listen to the union people and the competing small publishers stand and deliver the gospel on the Fangs, it makes you ready to deliver them unto the Hearsts.

Which is the lesser of evils? It's a lot like voting for governor.

Just add water

My daughter keeps coming up with these really great tickets. Last month we got to see Billy Bob Thornton at the Fillmore. Last night, it was the Allman Brothers at the Warfield.

In all my years as a hippie in this town, I could never afford to see shows at either of those places. If the Allman Brothers are a sample of what I've missed, I've missed plenty. I haven't heard music on that level since my nightclub closed in St. Louis in 1978. No bullshit, they just let their instruments talk for them. After what seems like 20 years in dry storage, you just add water to these guys and you get what I can only call unassuming, soul-piercing rock&roll/jazz style fusion.

Like a great jazz group, they established the basic melodic themes, then took off in searing riffs totally absent on the modern scene. We danced in the aisles. We passed the peace pipe in the top rows and drank it in until, one and two at a time, we filed out in satiated exhaustion. The lead, rhythm & keyboards had the bass player pickin' like he was playing a banjo & none of the three drummers with complete set-ups had a chance to even look up at the audience. It was that tightly woven and challenging. Recommend em. Highly.

Speaking of immigrants

OK, I wasn't speaking of immigrants. Still, if I were, it would have made a perfect bridge into a couple of notes my friend Ania has gotten from a newly arrived Shanghai couple. Slipped under her door, they beat the heck out of crosswords. You decipher:


My home refrigerator and toilet room a bathing pond bad.

Thank you

And …


My homz iczbox bad. zxcusz mz faction Man comz slzadzr. Morzovzr

Curtain comz to Fill. Vzary Hot Room.

Thank you

Yep, uh huh. Verbatim. It was kind of like listening to Jake McGoldrick explaining his vote on an item.

bundle up: sobone@juno.com