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The Eye


March 12, 2003

  One more time: Communicate, You Pusillanimous Park Panjandrums!

At the same time that Rec & Park dodges smoke and mirrors in the off-leash dog game, it also conducts its own form of hide-and-seek with the public.

The game plays out like this: Say that you, a scion of the late John Q. Public, want to take a look at the master plan for Golden Gate Park, the laborious product of extensive consultation with experts and private citizens. You know that the plan does indeed exist - not online, on the Rec & Park website, but in old-fashioned paper form, in the Rec & Park office. You decide to pay the office a visit.

Where is it?

The phone book won’t tell you. The department’s website won’t tell you.

But The Eye knows… and will tell all.

Rec & Park, which has apparently joined a witness-protection program, holes up in the sandstone structure that once housed park godfather John McLaren, near the corner of Stanyan and John F. Kennedy Drive. For all we know, Director Elizabeth Goldstein sleeps in one of the six bedrooms. Or in a tent in the backyard. And wanders through the halls after midnight, communing with her predecessors by candlelight.

In any case, the plan in question resides on a bookcase there, near a number of its kin. If you’re lucky - and very patient - a staffer will be able to point you toward it, in one of its many incarnations.

Enjoy your reading. And while you’re there, ask what R & P has to hide.

Apparitions Closer to Home

Recently, the city was shocked by accounts of a vicious attack  on a pregnant woman in her Bernal Heights home. Susannah Martin forwards this comment:

Living in a city like San Francisco raises ethical questions that many of us aren’t equipped to answer.

On Wednesday, March 5, around 3:00, I walked up Montcalm toward my car. When I reached the open space where Montcalm crosses Mullen and Brewster, I noticed a young man with no shirt coming toward me. He wasn’t fat, but his torso was well padded with flesh, and he didn't seem to notice that the afternoon had turned chilly. At first I thought he was one of the teenagers who lives down on Mullen, but then realized he was slightly older.

He walked up to a telephone pole and announced, “You’re going to have to come down.” I thought he was on drugs. As he continued to circle the broad intersection, I wondered if I should offer help. But he seemed comfortable, and besides, this was San Francisco, where people talking to invisible or unusual companions are commonplace. And if I did approach him, what would I say? Or do?

I walked on, very aware that I was alone on the street. But the stranger didn’t seem particularly menacing. As I passed, I heard him say, in the voice that floundering comedians use, “You gotta help me out here.” Then he grew serious. “We need food and something to drink.”

I got into my car and drove back toward the intersection. The man had reached the other side, still talking calmly. I noticed that his long dark hair was covered with lavender paint, and I wondered what he had been doing.

Later, I heard a report of the attack on the radio.

My first thought was, what could I have done? What should I have done? I still don’t know.

The Winner Is…

As Hollywood prepares to present this year’s Oscars, San Francisco has grabbed some giant ones. On Saturday, The Eye spotted this couple outside the entrance to City Hall, on the plaza side, obviously waiting for their new owners to arrive.

How Did You Spend Your Weekend?

You probably had better things to do, but The Eye decided to check up on a few of the candidates for mayor.

  On Saturday the really big shoe was at the Bill Graham, stopping traffic on Grove and taking up parking places all round the plaza. Outside on the sidewalk and inside along every hallway, starry-eyed volunteers welcomed ticketed guests (and carefully wrote down their names and phone numbers). So many local notables were present for the anointing of Gavin Newsom that the real story may lie in who wasn’t there: John Burton, for example, and Mark Leno (who was busy elsewhere, passing a baton to Susan Leal).

  Later that afternoon, Jim Reid opened his little house to the public, welcoming a stream of visitors. He’s a little starry-eyed, all by himself. Reid had spent the morning at the Bill Graham, applauding, he said, everything he agreed with, although he was skeptical about how the generalities would play out. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that, right now, Newsom’s his second choice for mayor, after himself, because “he’s the only major candidate who even mentions homelessness on his website.” Take a look. He’s right.

  Over the weekend, the newly batonned Susan Leal seemed determined to hit every part of town but the Civic Center, in a marathon tour of the neighborhoods. The Eye caught her on Sunday at Café Sanchez on 24th, where starry-eyed volunteers welcomed passersby and invited them to “meet the candidate.” We asked the obvious question: why should we vote for her? The answer was short on specifics - hey, this is only March - but long on character: she’s real, genuine, not glossy. Don’t know if the last adjective referred to her manner or her hair.

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