|Watching City Hall #254, (1-25-04)
What people love most about my writing is that I say what everyone else is thinking but is afraid to say.
What people hate most about my writing is that I say what everyone else is thinking but is afraid to say.
h. brown, from:The Wimp in Winter & the Power of the Word
I got a bad case of what Ill call Matt funk. Like Matt widow, its a lot tougher to get over than the common flu. The campaign was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. said Matt widow, Carol Knox (temporary widow to Gonzalez campaign treasurer, Randy Knox) I wasnt going to get in the way. We were discussing the plight of a couple across the room who had separated during the campaign because the guy (a senior member of Matts inner-circle) had, essentially, disappeared for a couple of months from her life. Im sure that the Newsom campaign broke up a couple of marriages, at least. Theyre all that way. Do you know the occupation that is toughest on couples? Naw, not politics. Its mine! Yeah, reporters have a tougher time hanging onto their honeys. Were never there. For instance, on this night, I escorted Savannah Blackwell (invited her, anyway no romance but, invited her because I wanted someone to talk to who understood the only thing I think about as in SF politics I figured shed be free because, as a fellow reporter, her past relationships kind of resemble, like, you know, like, say bad war zone road footage) We were at a surprise birthday party for Liz Ross at Matts place last night. (Liz was Matts Campaign Events scheduler.) The party was for Liz, but, like everything in all of our lives since last August, much of the discussion in the crowd was about Matt. We are all still digesting that experience of a lifetime.
45 days after 12-9
Chucks party for Liz was a place I needed to be. Id been avoiding the scene while I healed from my severe ass-kicking on 12-9. Chuck, who is Lizs husband and Matts brother, threw the party in Matts apartment & it was, like, so cool. Let me give you a lineup of some of the guests, first. Then, well get back to the layout.
There were a bunch of rock stars. Jonathan Richman of Modern Lovers was there. The band he helped found broke up in 73 and became the Cars and the Talking Heads while Jonathan (much like Linda LaFlamme ne Neska) has been mostly solo for the past 11 years (I work with a drummer.)
On the international scene, Mark Eitzel of the American Music Club was there. John Vandersplice (vandersplice.com) was there.
On the local scene: there were members of the Monolith, Loquat, Leather and the Suedes. Eric Shea, formerly of Mover was there. Only Richman played. I pulled him aside after Matt whispered the guys resume into my ear.
h.: Some friends of mine have done a documentary and I want them to add some music by at least one artist of my choosing on the thing. Have you ever done anything like that?
Richman: Yeah, Ive done things like that.
h.: Can you like, just watch the rough cut and compose stuff around it?
Richman: Its not a problem. It usually goes pretty fast.
I was glad to hear that. Id been discouraged to hear one of the film makers say that adding music at this time was tough when I felt we had the chance to get Neska involved in the track. Richman confirmed to me that it wasnt too late. What a party. Room to room & into the gardens, fascinating people abounded. Thats Jack Hirschman! someone shouted at me. We were talking about the apartment.
Its one of those long shotgun places you see all over town. Probably 3 or 4 bedrooms. On a hill, which is important. Matt wouldnt live on just any hill. Naw, his abode is on Hayes hill (the one the race goes up every year & usually someone dies at the top, but with all the naked people running past bridled teams of leather Elviss, you know the event! Hell, its San Franciscos own Mardi-Gras-in-Nikes that sometimes has 150,000 drunk, stoned, boned & on the cell phone runners, and, losing one aint a bad mortality rate for the rolling rave to the wave Im thinking that would be a good way to go on Hayes Hill, doing the Bay to Breakers) I was describing Matts crib, and trust me, there are thousands like it all over San Francisco that are preserved for artists and hippie politicians of his ilk, only through rent control. Anyway, its on the second level (above garage opening to Hayes where, 2 years ago Matt served us bloody Marys me, and about a half dozen jogger friends several of the ladies, upon learning where the boy Board President slept, made a point of passing out in Matts bed to no avail) his room was open then, to us, just as it was to the party goers for Lizs party, just to be able to able to stop there at a pit stop in the Bay to Breakers was a typical gift that Gonzalez gives to his friends who are like me. He was giving me my props with my friends and anyone else I wanted to impress. He likes my writing and he wants to support my art, but hes only making about 35 grand a year, so he gives me the gift of his friendship and the status that comes with it. Believe me, an invitation that begins with: Hey, you want to go over to Matt Gonzalezs house with me? is seldom turned down. He knew Id bring at least a half dozen joggers from the pack of 100,000 who passed his door that morning, so he prepared enough libations for a dozen. Of course, we never got any further in the race. As so often happens with the kid, hed already gifted us with a life-long memory. Yep, we cheered the other racers to the very end, with Matt standing on top of the van of flames (welded metal cut flames covering the vehicle) the van one of his roommates was completing for Burning Man. So, were two years later & its the party for Liz, who makes Madonna look like a boy (shes kind of a mix of Dietrich & Streep) Liz plays guitar & does vocals that sweep you from Memphis, to L.A., to the Bay and, on through the decades. She & Chuck front the band, Lessick on strings and Matt sometimes joins them on bass. Beyond Punk. Were there for her birthday and were going to hide in a corner & run out and say: Surprise!! and we did and it was the best ever and Ill tell you about that later. So, anyway, you go up these front stairs from the steep sidewalk on the steep hill and you step into the apartment which opens directly into the deep, double-terraced back yard. Its strange, but after all the hills walking up (or down, depending where you parked or got off the bus) after all these hills, suddenly youre walking in a flat stretch that runs a good 300 from front door entry to end fence of the top terrace (which has the benches & chairs and the like) set over the ancient brick surface, all overgrown with trees and bushes area where Matt played the role of Gavin when I practiced for my debates with Gavin in the 02 run for District #2 Supervisor the place isnt that big, but it , it it, plays big, you know what I mean?
You dont expect much of the place when you first enter. I mean, It has the essential neighborhood features you look for first. Theres a liquor store under a hundred feet downhill & a Laundromat directly across the street from that. But, the building, itself? Nothing happening there on the façade. Like so many, many San Francisco homes, many pleasant surprises await those chosen to pass the ornate wrought iron gate that fronts the street. I was surprised to see Matt, his very self (as my buddy, Joefire might say) there was Matt on the landing above, personally ushering the last of the guests (Im always last) At the top of the steep terrazzo stairs. We chatted a bit about things that are really none of your business & he opened the door into the front hallway and into what is really a succession of art galleries. The rear gardens are a working studio for Matts roommates and his debating society. The halls & every room, are hanging space for some of the finest art you have ever seen in your life. From the time you walk through the front door, you are surrounded by a plethora of flat-surface installations you know, photos mostly (its a narrow hall down the shotgun apartment, but with the gleaming hardwood floors and a variety of inventive lighting, takes on the feel of a gallery stroll from the moment you enter the door) you go from there (the long front hallway) & consider side strolls into 2 bedrooms, open because they have bathrooms (one of which is Matts). I glanced in to note the art on his walls and chuckled. A couple of centuries of work, from Felix McNee on one wall, on back to that intense Dutch-like stuff on another. It reminded me of the tour Angela Alioto took me on of Pritikins castle, not so long ago. I guided Savannah to a selection of dozens of photos & collages & sculpture as we traversed the hallway: This is the stuff David Bender called pornography in a phone push poll. Yeah, thats what I said, and I dont care what you think, either. Maybe Bender wont own up to it, but in-house pollsters cant be trusted & if he didnt supervise writing the text on the garbage the Newsom campaign peddled, they certainly learned their methods from the SFSOS house boy pollster. My, my where did that come from?
Matt Funk, thats where. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning. Now, where were we? . Yeah, I remember. There was this fire in the back yard.
Second tier of the garden in back. No lights but the flames from the split logs (and, the stars). In the chilly night, it was mesmerizing. The logs were in some kind of free-standing three foot or so tall, wire sculpture that held 3 or 4 split logs at a time and provided generous heat to the crowd who watched Orion gleaming brightly in the sky above and traveled to the beer kegs on the edge of the landing. Dozens of the physically most beautiful people Ive seen in my life and I hated everyone of them for it. (naw) They moved through the light of the stars and the burning logs which reflected from the well stocked bevy of cleavage and flank that dominated the gathering. It was Lizs crowd and Chucks. Mostly young musicians and artists and lawyers. I stood and talked with Carol Knox about St. Louis and how she used a fake ID as a teenager to get into my jazz club there (h. browns it was called I was modest even, way back then) in 1977. Her sister still doesnt know the trouble Carol went to in order to steal her identity and I promised not to tell. So, I wont. There! See. I can keep my word. sometimes Tell me your innermost secrets and see. If you cant trust the press to keep their mouths shut, who can you trust?
Broke, and living large in San Francisco
This cant go on. Its not natural. I mean, 6 ex-wives & I still worship women. Broke & homeless, but sleeping most nights in homes worth at least a half million bucks. Broke & homeless, but on the top of the hippest guest lists in town. Broke & homeless, but planning what to wear down the red carpet (if I have to bring it myself & its 3 long) planning what to wear to the opening of the movie Courtney Haslett & Rich Hillis made about me & Jens & Diamond Dave & getting old in San Francisco as a hippie. Broke & homeless, but trying to make a deal with Americas finest composer to do at least part of the score behind the movie. Broke & homeless, but with too much to eat and drink and smoke and a shopping list of couches to save me from the street. I mean, I get blue and wish I had a job and a home and a woman and stuff like that, but, my Lord, have my friends and family been good to me. Back to Lizs party.
About that last column!
Several people made a point of objecting to my praise of Angela Alioto (who hasnt answered me in a week!) objected to my amateur historians habit of looking at 50 years instead of the past 3 months. Folks, every breath of fresh air you and your children take in a restaurant in California, is due to Angela Alioto. Thats just one issue.
A couple of staff objected to my describing them as wary of me in our interactions. I apologize. Im a grouch in my old age. My regrets to those I may have goosed, or kicked in the ass or balls, or, otherwise, bitch-slapped. I have two things to say to you all. First, of course, Im sorry. And, secondly, again of course, Can I crash at your place for a week or so? (Im nothing, if not cheeky.)
We will never pass this way again.
(some dumb song)
Hey, I really have been to several county carnivals and a Worlds Fair and a bit more and I still have to say that I never saw anything like the late campaign. Someone send me Matt Hitts phone number. He did the photos for the campaign in the last week. Were planning an online coffee table book kind of thing and I cant reach him. He installed around 2,000 photos on my computer as a screen saver and every night, my cat & I lie and watch the faces of the campaign trail by on the monitor above as we cuddle against the cold. It was strange at Lizs party to see people across the room whom I really didnt know, but had been looking at for 6 weeks as characters in my screen-saver. So, here are all these characters who worked the phones and the streets and did the statistics and the parties Jonathan Flucker (no shit) Jonathan Flucker, who came in from New York and volunteered and I, of course, assumed he was a Newsom plant, but he ended up pretty much running the Volunteer Center (first there, last out daily sometimes that meant a 20 hour day or, more) Soooo, back to the party.
Father/Daughter School Board Slate?
My daughter stopped by to hang out before Lizs party and started talking about wanting to do something more politically. Leroy, the cat is thrilling my granddaughter by rubbing against her madly (shes 11 months). I realize that there are 3 generations of us in the room. Tandewe was born here. Ive a 25 year stake in the town and Mona has been here going on 4 years. Like I said, shes former Peace Corps volunteer & present recruiter for the Corps. Shes fought fires in Florida and taught in inner-city D.C. for the Americorps. Shes a real goody two-shoes. Id been reading about the School Board at the time & encourage her to run for it. Shes interested & I start catching her up on issues. We both realize that maybe we should run together. Hell, Ive got a Masters in Special Ed. And the District done me wrong long ago, canceling my own program much as they did Urban Pioneers last year. I told her Id run it by Matt at the party.
Yeah, we have a slate but it sounds good.
That was Matts reaction on Mona & I running. That, &: I need to talk to you. We havent spoken in the few days since then, so Im gonna run the slate past all of you. I spoke to Eileen Left first, since she usually knows whats going on.
Eileen: School Board? They have some black guy for one of the seats. Retired Principal or something. They probably dont need you. Im thinking youd do better writing full time behind the effort. You might enter for awhile to challenge Hiles in debate. Id like to see that. Shes really full of herself and she and Ackerman are going to do the race card thing til the Messiah comes. That wouldnt work with Mona, cause her familys African-American. Maybe Mona runs and you watch & advise.
She had a point. She usually does. What else can I run for? Hmmmm. Pelosi is up. Eileen said Id do much better in a City-wide race. Its all about getting out a message without hurting the cause. Appointments are out. Im too much of a loose-cannon for these guys to get behind. No patronage jobs. Back to teaching? Yeah, at 60.
Savannah motored by
On the other hand, I couldnt spend 12 hours on two or 3 different days writing this stuff if I had a job. I guess the smart cowboy takes this shit as it falls. Or, what did Joe Namath used to say? Yeah,: You take what the defense gives you. There was Savannah accepting much deserved accolades from the crowd and grilling Matt in the corner. She was a great invite. Hopefully, Joel Bernstein will bring her back to City Desk as the rep of Patrick Murphys San Francisco Sentinel. The Sentinel with the likes of P.J. Corkerey & Pat & Joe ODonoghue and Blackwell certainly deserves a seat at that table. Last week, they ran 4 Chronicle reporters. Hey, give me a mother-fucking break!!!
Youre all over the place!
Susan is, like, an at-large editor for my work. Since I have no actual editor on the Bulldog publishings, thats needed. I counted 4 different topics that each deserved a column and you put them all together. I believe in steam-of-consciousness but it didnt work for me.
Half of writing a political column is defending stuff you wrote and dont remember writing. That can be harder than you might imagine (now and then, your life might depend upon it). I responded to her with complete honesty: I dont have a printer or paper, so I put all my notes in my columns and send them to 150 people I trust so that I can go back and retrieve them if my computer and notes are destroyed by the Dark Side. Remember what someone said about a foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds.? Its not supposed to make sense. Its only a supply depot for the novel. If youre looking for linear thought, read the New York Times, not the Bulldog. She nodded, realizing I was pretty much insane. After all, the sharper the edge you play on, the more intense the art produced. How you doing, by the way?
A man, a cat, a computer: