h. brown's columns of
June 13, June 17,
and June 19.
June 19, 2002
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
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
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
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
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
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
– 5th District supervisor Matt
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
"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,
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.
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
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
"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.”
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
– “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
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
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
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
Hey Tom, we don't need the new cut-outs. We need enough
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
Which is the lesser of evils? It's a lot like voting for
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
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
My homz iczbox bad. zxcusz mz faction Man comz
Curtain comz to Fill. Vzary Hot Room.
Yep, uh huh. Verbatim. It was kind of like listening to
Jake McGoldrick explaining his vote on an item.