June 27, 2002
by h. brown
We have come to see your City Whore!!
– Visiting bureaucrat from Macao states his
I know, it ain't PC to make fun of someone's
pronunciation. But, that's what he said. He really did. I don't make
this stuff up. I couldn't.
Of course, he meant to say he came to see the “City
HALL” but that's not what he said. Rolled his Ls into Rs and what he got
was what I said.
He could have been talking about almost anyone in the
building. Not me, of course. Only because I wasn't there. I was off
waiting in the welfare office. Applying for my General Assistance check.
Same one Gavin Newsom is out collecting signatures to take away. Ain't
They're gonna make a big star out of me …
and all I gotta do is act … naturally.
– Country song
Hollywood is after my story. I'm guessing Spielberg is
behind the proposal. Or could be Lucas. Whatever, their front is a guy
named Rich Hillis. His partner in the venture is a dude named Courtney.
They want to film my campaign against Gavin Newsom. Hope it ain't for an
edition of “Cops.”
You'll want to dial into this project early. It's going
to be very big. You really want to be seen waving a bottle of beer in
the background. Or waving something or other.
Imagine sitting in your rocker on the verge of death &
your great-great-great grandkid says: "Grandpa, is that really YOU
waving your thing?" Think about your place in history, man.
Filming will start in late August. The purchasing of
beer for moi began last Friday. Thanks, boys.
Nowinski evades Gonzalez & Brown
The Guardian's Amanda Nowinski is leaving town. Going to
New York City. Damn!
I just read her column for the first time last week.
Matt Gonzalez turned me on to her. I been trying to get her to party
with us since. What a natural fit for City Hall.
Waita minute here. Good friend brought over some hash &
I'm getting a good buzz on for the first time in about a week. Ya know?
Cheap bourbon on the rocks and Moroccan blonde. Beat that shit if you
OK, where was I? Yeah, today's Rules Committee & the
charter proposal for an Entertainment Commission.
Go to Sacramento. Bring back whores,
minstrels, whiskey, and a roulette wheel. Ride em into town in an
– h. brown advises Mark Leno
Ever go to a party thrown by a cop?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying cops are all square
but, I mean, ya know? Anyway, the cops have been in charge of deciding
who gets to throw parties large and small in this town for over 30
years. Not a good idea.
Even Police Chief Fred Lau agrees. Fred sent his number
one party pooper (Captain Harrington of the Anti-Fun Squad) to say just
that at the June 25 Rules Committee meeting. While Chair Tony Hall
staked out all the ground to the right of Lawrence Welk, Vice Chair
Gonzalez, member Gerardo Sandoval & visiting future State Assembly rep
Mark Leno did a nifty conga line with the Late Night Coalition and a
host of other people who know what's on after Letterman. Rock n' roll
won. Come November, get all your friends to come out & vote in favor of
Leno's “San Francisco Entertainment Commission.” Thanks, Mark.
Can we do that?
– #1 question answered by Ted Lakey
Back where I was born and raised (St. Louis) the city
board members are called “aldermen/women” & they aren't quite as smooth
as our local group here in San Francisco. A few months ago, in order to
maintain a filibuster, a female member had a number of her counterparts
surround her while she took a whizz in a waste basket. And, you wonder
why I have so little class?
About 10 years ago, one of the aldermen threatened the
mayor in a fit of rage. Given the alderman's rep and connections, the
cops put the mayor in a “safe house” for some time thereafter. And you
think I'm uncivilized? Hey, it comes naturally.
Nature? Nurture? Nature? Nurture? haaaaashhh! Where was
Oh yeah, Lakey's tie on the 24th almost
retired the trophy. White like a polar bear but with sweeping jet black
swirls rushing in from the edges. Wow!
Back when I taught severely disturbed young teens, I
used to always tell them, "If you can't be good, at least LOOK good!!"
It worked. True, my kids spent more time in jail. But they also got the
most compliments on their wardrobes.
Yeah, I know, you've seen me & I dress out of a dumpster
from behind Goodwill. That can be done with panache too, you know? Where
The Daly tapes
I was watching Channel 23's City Desk News Hour the
other day. Now, there is an argument for heading for the AT&T offices
with torches and a rail. Best concept possible: good reporters talking
about their beat. Worst execution of concept: a wall of right-wing
reporters who spend their time bad-mouthing the same Board of
Supervisors who presently have the company's local franchise under
consideration. Only the Examiner's Adriel Hampton had a modicum of
fairness for the progressive board.
AT&T refused to put three of the public channels
required under their old contract on the air at all. Is it any wonder
the only news from major outlets in this town is slanted toward the
rich? They'd rather show large color photos of Gavin Newsom watching
some poor little kid get circumcised than get the cops to release the
uncropped photos of their assault on Supervisor Chris Daly.
Yeah, uh huh. It was on City Desk News Hour. Rachel
Gordon was filling in for Bruce Pettit and her guest was Daly. It was
Gordon kept trying to keep the focus on the photo all
the media except the San Francisco Bay View ran that made it look like
Daly was yelling at a cop. Finally, Daly brought out a set of photos not
seen in the local media. They show the cop in Daly's face while Daly is
sitting on the floor. They show the cop behind Daly applying a “pain”
hold on Daly (just for the shit of it!) and Daly reacting in an
open-mouthed gasp. It was the top portion of the photo that was
“cropped” by the local media to only show Daly with his mouth open.
You know what “cropping” a photo is, don't you? That's
where you frame only the area you wish to emphasize. From a direction
that proves your point. It's a lot like lying with a camera.
That got me to thinking.
Don't the cops film demonstrations? Always did. I asked
Chief Rick Bruce of the SFPD's Airport Division if they still filmed
demonstrations. "Yes." That was his answer.
I went to the department's legal section and asked for a
copy of their film or whatever. "File a written request." That's what
they said. I will too.
You can bet the local fascist TV stations and newspapers
won't run it.
How much will it cost? My welfare isn't approved yet. I
wonder how many people use their General Assistance to pay for FOIA
('freedom of information act) material from the cops? In this town, I'm
probably not the only one.
I go on the dole
It took three trips to the welfare office at 1235
Mission to get approved for food stamps. A huge room. More than 150
seats. Over a dozen rent-a-cops and one of the real McCoy who oversees
your finger printing and mug shot.
Yeah, they print and mug you for welfare applications
now. I thought that was a proposal in the works.
I got $184 in stamps to cover the end of June and all of
July. That's $135 a month, or about $4.50 a day. Not bad. This morning I
spent the first ones. Bread, milk, eggs, and butter. $9.86. I thought
I'd be embarrassed.
I got offered $140 for the stamps when I went to pick
them up at 281 Ellis. No cops around. Several really thug-looking black
dudes hung around the place and asked everyone going in and coming out
if they wanted to sell their stamps. I told them I was a reporter and
weren't they afraid of getting busted. "No." That's the way they put it.
Enuff for today. Five minutes to midnight and there's a
bottle of wine in the kitchen with my name on it.
I want to write a column with Amanda Nowinski and Matt
Gonzalez before she leaves for New York and he heads out for Baltimore.
June 28, 2002
Watching City Hall
by h. brown
Is any member in the household avoiding or
running from the law to avoid a felony prosecution, custody or
confinement after conviction, or in violation of probation or
parole? If "YES," who?
[Have your roommates] traded or sold food
stamps for firearms, ammunition, or explosives?
– SF Food Stamp eligibility monthly questionnaire
Who the hell says that Willie's Department of Social
Services is out of touch? Shit, they could turn up Osama bin Laden
hiding in a closet in the Tenderloin taking advantage of our lax food
It gets worse.
Da Intake at Da Glide
I promised you an honest report of what it's like to go
on the dole in this town and this requires I record the “orientation”
session at Glide Memorial's Freedom Hall. “Free,” it ain't.
Around 50 of us were ushered into the large room at 9 am
& uniformed guards began to warn us about the seriousness of keeping our
mouths shut & staying awake during the speech that would follow. It
honestly sounded like Martin Bormann was about to enter the room. "If he
has to speak to you, he will throw you out & you will have to start your
application over … You won't get any money!"
It was a scene from “Cool Hand Luke.” "Ya do this … into
the box!" "Ya do that … into the box!"
I looked around at my fellow beggars. What a surprising
I'd noticed this the previous week at the intake center
at 1235 Mission. Almost none of the applicants were fucked up. Not one
drunk as far as I could see of the150 or so people waiting. Too many of
them looked like me. Older folks who simply couldn't get a job. Still,
there were more guards than you'll find on a San Quentin block & they
were not friendly. The low point came when we were fingerprinted and
photographed. I mean, really. It was a criminal kind of moment.
Back to Glide.
Stand up!! This is NOT optional!!!
– Glide facilitator
These people could put an insomniac to sleep inside of
five minutes. Hey, I've been arrested before and the cops were much
nicer than the “facilitator” who “helped” us fill out our application
for General Assistance. I have never in my life seen such an abuse of a
petty position of power. Incredible.
Two lesbians sitting next to me listened for about five
minutes, then got up and left the room. They'll have to reapply if they
hope to get aid. Perhaps they thought there would be more dignity in
doing a Thelma & Louise thing. I didn't blame them.
On my other side, a black chick who weighed around 300
lbs kept falling asleep and her sister?/mother? who weighed at least a
hundred lbs more kept hitting her in the leg to wake her up. The ripple
effect went all the way down the aisle.
Most of us made it through “Adolf's” 50 minutes of
reading several pages of drivel while he glared at us over the top of
the pages, looking for someone to sic the guards upon. It was ugly. It
made you wonder what you'd come to. How low had you sunk?
No one complained. They'd make you start the process
Damn, man, they WANTED you to fuck up so they could
throw you out.
Gavin Newsom would have been proud as hell to have them
on his team. People abusing the most vulnerable. Gavin wants to take it
down a notch. Not only will desperate people have to be humiliated. The
end of the process will yield only a ticket to the poorhouse. No staying
with your friends anymore.
Nope. With Gavin, you have to list who you stayed with
each week & that means, basically, they won't let you stay with them.
Not if they have a lease.
What a bastard. Everyday I spend in the welfare system
strengthens my resolve to get that prick on the stage and humiliate his
ass in a debate. I ain't Billy Getty, Gav.
Things food stamps won't buy
Soap. Toilet paper. Aspirin. Tampons. Diapers. Pencils &
paper. The Examiner. Cat food. That's a partial list.
If Newsom has his way, people will sell their food
stamps to purchase the above items. It will be the only thing of value
they have. I mean, who wants to buy a voucher to spend a night in
Multi-Service Center North?
I'm burning out on this item now. I've been writing it
for three days & I keep getting more rather than less pissed. Let me
move to a different area.
I have graduated through the welfare system thus far (if
you are keeping track): I have received a month and a half's worth of
food stamps at a time investment of under an hour and a half which
spanned three visits. (That's good, I think – congrats to Trent Rohrer &
Da Mayor). I have been oriented in preparation for my final intake
hearing at 1235 Mission where (if I pass) I will be given a check for a
week of GA (General Assistance) or PAES (Employment Sacs – the program I
want – I just need help getting a job – I gots lotsa skills). I have
learned that most of the programs available under CAAP (County Aid) are
for disabled or otherwise impaired (CALM, SSIP – all defined later. Keep
your excitement in check). Only GA has an actual work component and they
encourage you to dump it as fast as possible and get into a training
skills or straight assisted job search program as quickly as possible.
That is to say, so far the system looks to work for
those who care to access it (that is NOT a final judgment).
Next week, we go where Gavin wants to cut … the tampon
How would you feel if Tom Ammiano called you an asshole?
It appears to be one of the board president's favorite
appellations. I have had many, many complaints (some from just COMMON
folks) who say that big Tom has attached that moniker to them.
A reporter from another paper told me recently that he'd
been leaning over the press rail at a board hearing eavesdropping
(that's what reporters do dummy) when Ammiano gave one of his famous
stage whispers and said something to the effect of "this asshole will
report that." Poor form, Tom. Very poor form.
Did you know that this ace kid reporter was raised by
missionaries in New Guinea & is a fundamentalist who doesn't even drink
& that this was the first time in his entire life that someone called
him that. He was truly shocked.
I know, hard to believe. There are, as they say, a
million stories in the nekkid city and some of them are about innocence.
Clean it up, Tom. Leave the motherfucking obscenities to someone who
knows what the fuck they're doing!
Has the Chronicle lost its mind?
I used to work for Otis Chandler. Indirectly.
I met him in passing when I was recruited to run on the
L.A. Times track team in the late 1970s. His family owned the newspaper.
They had enough brains to let experts run the damned thing while Otis
pumped iron or jogged or raced vintage race cars.
Otis & I were a lot alike. Except for the money. And the
OK, he could outrun me too.
I learned much watching Otis and the Times. They were
non-union. I came from a very strong union family. My dad got beaten up
organizing for the Teamsters on the docks in St. Louis when I was a kid
and we had to go live in the country with grandma for awhile until…
Anyway, the Chandlers got away with being non-union because they paid
everybody lots more than the union would pay. They did the news from
every single area of the L.A. basin. Do you know that is an area around
150 miles long and up to over 50 miles wide and they covered every piece
of it? Yeah, they really did. Covered it great.
Only problem with being so successful was that (I kid
you not) – I heard conversations between the heads of Circulation and
Advertising while we stretched out for a track meet – since we were
doing over a billion dollars a year in advertising and including
neighborhood editions everywhere, the paper had gotten so heavy that it
was breaking dogs' legs and knocking down occasional porch rails when it
hit the homes.
Back to the Chronicle.
The Chron seems to be trying to compete with the Times.
All of the Timeses. Nothing could be more laughable.
Last week editors at the Chron told their beat reporter
to leave an important Budget Committee hearing because they did not want
to pay the reporter overtime!!! Folks, the Chronicle does not give a
shit for San Francisco news. This is a "let them eat cake" item. A fatal
flaw. An enormous error in top management. When you ignore local news,
the first thing to go is the readership.
If I didn't pride myself with reading EVERYTHING local,
I wouldn't waste the quarter. They're only giving me hacks who are
copying Pulitzer winners badly. And unfortunately, the Pulitzer winners
are still ticking and kicking their asses.
As the readership goes, so goes the advertising. I
predict a huge exodus of Chronicle advertising to the Examiner. Hell,
you can tell the Ex is printed in San Francisco! They have the high
school sports scores. News of neighborhood meetings. Letters to the
editor that actually concern San Francisco issues.
My angle? I've insulted the top management of every
local rag. I ain't gonna be working for any of them. I want to see
either a greatly expanded SF Call or an entirely new daily. One that can
… well, you know what I mean.
Folks, I don't like the Hearsts. We're too similar.
Except for the money. And the circulation. So they won't listen to me.
You tell them. We don't want them to go down the drain. We just want
them to remember where they circulate their newspaper.
Demand local coverage. Did you know, for instance, that
Director of Recreation & Parks Parks Elizabeth Goldstein told 1st
District supervisor Jake McGoldrick the other evening in a committee
hearing that she intended to cut back on cleaning and repairing the
parks' bathrooms? Yep. No shitskee. Literally.
Now, I'd think someone would want to talk to Tony Hall
about that to see how it might affect his legislation before the board
outlawing crapping and whizzing on the ground when you ain't got a
choice. Obviously, Da Mayor has decided to force the issue. Ugly.
The Chron didn't have a reporter there. Too expensive.
They do have people in D.C. Piss on that.
Now Joe at the bar is a friend of mine …
he brings me my drinks for free …
And he's quick with a joke …
or to light up your smoke …
but there's someplace that he'd rather be
– Billy Joel, “Piano Man”
Brazil 4 … Germany 0:
July 3, 2002
Watching City Hall
by h. brown
Come to 850 Bryyyyant …
we want you for our cliiiient!!"
– Paraphrasing a little jingle
What a fuckin' week. Where o' where to begin to do
justice for a truly bad run of luck? Let's take today's events and go
The older Chinese guy hit the black chick as hard as he
could with his bag of groceries. He took a really broad backswing to get
the thing going and when it landed, it split and spread peaches and
canned goods and vegetables all over Geary Street and under the bus
which was just preparing to pull away. They were both crossing at the
corner of Leavenworth. Bag gone, he began to flail ineffectually at her
as she escaped toward the curb screaming back, "Crazy Chinaman!!" A
bored Palestinian smoking a cigarette and leaning against the corner
building commented, "She tried to take a piece of his fruit."
The cops were there in seconds.
That's cause car 1010 never seems to go far from the
window overlooking Leavenworth where my computer lives while I
couch-surf the city.
I know, I'm paranoid and it's a coincidence. Probably
there are lots of car 1010's. That's why car 1010 sometimes shows up
parked at Marina Green while I do my calisthenics. And on Russian Hill,
slowing to pace my jogging figure.
I shook my head, bought an early bottle of wine & headed
back to watch the Rules Committee deal with the new appointments to the
Planning Commission. To no avail. Canceled while the troops gathered for
a war council.
Willie, beware. I smell a battle.
It gave me time to start all over again on my
application for welfare. They'd disqualified my first application and
the week's work that went into it this morning. That was right before
the supermarket refused to take my food stamps because I'd torn them out
of the booklet beforehand. Ever had that happen to you?
Gavin Newsom is trying to make it even tougher for the
poor to get by. It's making for some interesting copy but it's no fun to
live through. It would be different if I were doing some kind of fake
process just to learn how the system works. You know, like when Newsom
said he was gonna put on a disguise and go sleep in one of the shelters.
For the experience.
Wonder if his new bride will be with him? They won't
stand out, will they?
Wonder what the disguise is going to be? Matching
shopping carts from Stanlee Gatti, for sure. Rags from Wilkes Bashford.
Some $500 a bottle reserve cabernet in brown paper bags so's they can
It's been a weird week. Let's see, I was backtracking
I was up at 5 am from my secret sleeping spot where a
cute little black cat has adopted me. She's a cheap date. The first
night I gave her a little of my sandwich & she bit my arm & drew blood.
By the third night, she was sleeping in my lap & I'd named her Tina
after that Turner woman. If I ever get a home, maybe she can come live
with me & my little gray feline sisters, CC & Naomi.
It doesn't look likely. Almost a year without work.
Anyway, I got to my “final intake” appointment for
welfare. I was fully expecting to get a check for a week's GA (General
Assistance). I'd spent the better part of two weeks collecting documents
and waiting in lines. Going through metal detectors. Getting mug shots.
Fingerprints. Insulted by bully guards and workers. The usual.
I arrived a half hour early for my 8:15 am appointment.
I was seated and clutching all necessary documents in the crowded room
at 1235 Mission early. Reading the morning paper & watching the three
guards in black standing aside doors 1 … 2 and …3. I kid you not. Today
it was Door #1 & the luck was not so good.
I had the week's cash spent already. Things you can't
get with food stamps. Two 1" x 1" photos for my new press pass to
replace the one lost in the move. A big bag of cat food. Toothpaste. All
kinds of soap. A battery for my alarm clock.
Just had to get through the interview. I had my
rejection for unemployment benefits. Voter registration to prove
residency. ID & a social security card. The works. Hell, maybe my
Russian case worker could cut through the black lists keeping me on the
street and get me a job.
"You got the date wrong and you have to start all over
again from where you started two weeks ago." That's what she said.
Instead of giving me a note allowing me to go get mugged & printed and
vouchered and have a check issued and go get the press pass and the cat
food. "You were supposed to be here yesterday."
I looked at the date as I had 100 times before: 7/02
8:15am. I looked again. No, that isn't a slash between the “7” and the
“02.” It’s a “1.”
I was disappointed, thinking about going back through
the “orientation” at Glide with the brutal facilitator.
"Why didn't you write a “0” in front of the “1” so I
wouldn't mistake it for a slash?" That's what I asked her. She called a
I left and went back to start the process all over
again. There were over 200 people ahead of me.
That's when I left to go borrow money for wine. I was
coming to better understand the system all the time.
But this wasn't the low point of the last week.
No good deed goes unpunished
– Irish wisdom
We were on our way down to check out the “dykes on
bikes.” Mostly, the bikes. Not that I'm totally adverse to looking at
what sado/masochistic chicks like to do to their boobs before baring
them before 350,000 people lining the streets and a TV audience of
millions. My gruff sculptor buddy and I were headed down Leavenworth
just past Ellis when we came across a family drama being played out on
A Latino woman was trying to get a Latino man to give
her back her child. He was squatting with an arm around the little boy,
listening to her but refusing to give up the child. I don't speak
Spanish. I can read body language. The lady was keeping her three other
small children swept back from the man as she pleaded and made
occasional forays to try and gently remove the little boy from the man's
grasp. One of her little girls was crying and looked terrified. None of
the children appeared over four years old.
People swept by the scene by the hundreds on their way
to the spectacle in the streets a few blocks away. Bare-boobed biker
broads blustering belligerently. Most the people had cameras.
Like a fool, I stopped to flag down the first cop I saw.
Where was car 1010 when you needed it?
Minutes passed. The man reached out & grabbed another
child. Now he had two and the woman was growing more distraught.
I jogged a couple of blocks and flagged a
black-and-white. The sculptor was not impressed: "Don't get involved
man. You're just asking for trouble."
We were walking amid the motorcycles and dykes and boobs
and attitude as he spoke. He was right, of course. Sitting on one of the
first bikes was a little dyke clad only in thong bikini panties and a
fishnet bodysuit. She had closely cropped gray-black hair and was the
spitting image of the judge I'd been before the previous Thursday
morning. I stared open-jawed at her. She just smirked. I honestly
couldn't tell them apart.
The ass-kicking continues …
It was almost Halloween & I was apartment-sitting. A
woman came to my friend's door looking for an apartment. She was crying.
Her landlord was also her teacher & he'd said something improper to her
& wouldn't give her a new lock and she hated him. She was wearing a mini
skirt and a halter that barely supported an enormous tattooed bosom. I
felt sorry for her.
Being a good guy, I phoned the realty company for her &
recommended they give her a break. I advised her that her provocative
dress probably was the reason her teacher had come on to her. I offered
her the couch for the evening when she said she was afraid to go home.
She got the apartment in my friend's building, moved in
and sued her previous landlord for refusing to add another lock and for
sexual harassment. She got money and he lost his job at the school.
She hated our neighborhood & moved out within a month,
demanding her money back. She accused the company of refusing to give
her extra locks and me of sexual harassment for offering her the couch &
commenting on her dress. The exact charges she'd filed against her
She demanded I give her a thousand dollars or she'd get
me like she did her teacher. I ignored her. Six months later, I got a
notice of her lawsuit in Small Claims Court. Wanted her deposit back
though she broke her lease. It was all my fault.
So there I was the Thursday before the Gay Pride Parade
defending myself before a dykes-on-bikes double. No decision yet. I'm
betting on Ms. Mini Skirt winning. Hell, I believed her when I met her.
There's a lesson to be learned here. Ignore weeping
women. Don't get involved. And, of course, “no good deed goes
Good businesses accept everybody.
– Supe Gavin Newsom discusses toilets
My own mother-in-law, a distinguished English
woman, due to a brain tumor, urinated in the streets of San
– Supe Jake McGoldrick in the same debate
I want to challenge Gavin Newsom to put signs in the
windows of all of his 17 businesses that read: 'Free Restrooms for the
Public.” Don't hold your breath.
So this guy says, “Wait a second.” Then this
other guy comes up and hits him over the top of the head with a
bottle. It raises a lump & the guy is tall enough to be a cop.
– Supe Tony Hall recounting an experience as an
intake guy for processing candidates to be cop
I understand that Chief Lau hung himself
upside down to stretch out to be tall enough to pass the height
– Supe Leland Yee in praise of Chief Lau
I wondered if the first cop started every shift by
getting hit over the head with a bottle so he'd be legal height. It
could eventually hurt your ability to pass the sergeant's test. I mean,
I know this is San Francisco & all, but wouldn't you think it was a
little strange if you were ushered into the police chief's office & he
was hanging upside down like a bat? The chief's aide de camp explains,
"The chief will be tall enough to see you in a few minutes."
This has gotten too long. I did the second beginning on
my GA application today and got some great notes but I'm too stoned to
write them up and by now, you're too confused to follow em.
cover your trail: