Jammin’ with the Junkies
By Betsey Culp (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Baseball is, they say, the national pastime, but in
San Francisco the ruling passion is politics. Political junkies are
everywhere, holding forth at public meetings and combing news releases in
search of tidbits of gossip and bits of power.
On Friday evening, these PJs swarmed south of Market
to the Goodwill Atrium, where the SFCall was hosting a mayoral candidates
John Wildermuth and
Gino Rembetes came to observe. A number of other
PJs were there to make it happen.
PJs come in all sizes and colors. Kimberley Knox is
one. This tiny European American who grew up as a Navy Junior is rapidly becoming the city’s
hostess with the mostest – who else could set the trend for many future
events by creating San Francisco's first Recycled Fashion Show, for the
Mayor's Office of Economic Opportunity, in 2001?
Malik Looper is another. This tall African American
from the Mission, whose day job finds him directing government and
community relations at Goodwill, is better known as the founder and
moderator of the website where PJs get their fix,
On Friday evening, this dynamic duo orchestrated
quite a show.
They were backed by another PJ, Tony Imperial, whose
name and machine-gun style of conversation suggest a kinship with the
Sopranos. In fact, he’s the boss of
Story Road Consulting, an organization that hires homeless people to
provide sound and lighting for public events. On Friday, Imperial and two
members of his crew, like ninjas in dark coveralls, worked silently to
make sure that the rest of us could hear.
In the audience were a number of the day-time
occupants of the building, participants in the
Goodwill transitional training and employment programs.
But that was only the beginning.
Five media representatives were on hand to grill the
candidates about their intentions, like concerned parents checking out
their daughter’s date: Samson Wong (AsianWeek and the Independent),
Savannah Blackwell (Bay Guardian), Shirley Chou (Sing Tao Daily), Marvin
Ramirez (El Reportero), and h. brown (Sentinel and SFCall). They were
joined by more than 200 aunts and uncles – the general public – who
submitted questions to the candidates. Lots of questions.
That was the point of the forum: to ask questions. To
frame the questions that voters would like the upcoming campaign to focus
on. The questions they posed will be posted on the Call’s website later
this week, and readers are invited to add their own before the entire
compilation is forwarded to all the candidates.
Oh yes, the candidates.
There were seven – Angela Alioto, Tom Ammiano,
Michael Denny, David Giesen, Susan Leal, Jim Reid, and Tony Ribera (with a
cameo appearance at the beginning by Roger Schulke). The magnificent seven
had been selected not for their debating skills – for this was not a
debate – nor to represent the entire field of mayoral candidates. They
constituted an elite group, and therefore more likely to set the terms for
the campaign that will unfold over the next several months.
We want them to get our message out.
And so, we peppered them with questions, demanding
lightning responses. They obliged, although no doubt wishing for the
simpler lines of more traditional political encounters. There will be
plenty of time for those. But at a PJ party, anything goes.
Anything goes, but not everyone came. There was one
invited candidate who – alas! – declined to join the hardy Goodwill band.
Ingenious PJs put forth a number of explanations for
his absence, some more plausible than others. No, it is not likely that he
hurt his back rearranging the furniture in his living room.
It is possible that he has merely following in the
footsteps of San Francisco’s other famous Noshows – Nancy and Dianne – who
acknowledged an overwhelming lead over their opponents by simply ignoring
their existence. If that was the case, the strategy may have backfired,
because most of Gavin Noshow’s opponents at the forum returned the
compliment by ignoring his existence in their remarks. Gavin who?
But perhaps we misjudge him. It is equally possible
that he stayed away because he was embarrassed, lacking the proper clothes
for a PJ party.
It would be an act of kindness to provide him with
some, to encourage his acceptance of the next invitation. Perhaps some
bright red jammies, with a square button-up flap in the back. Or better
yet, some made of blue-and-white striped cotton, nicely pressed, such as
that man-about-San Francisco William Powell wore in The Thin Man.
Then – maybe – next time, Gavin Noshow will show. And
join the party.
In the meantime, the SF Call thanks all the intrepid
PJs who did attend. Your donations will be put to good use – stay tuned
for further information. But more important, we had a wonderful time. We
hope you did, too.