Watching City Hall #259, (2-12-04)
CAUTION! Check dryers for children and pets.
(sign in Chinese laundry @ 22nd & Capp)
And, check your boots for scorpions too. A cowboy cant be too careful in the big City. As this tour in the Mission comes to an end, I should probably try and capture some of the flavor of the district from my own perspective.
The women have great asses
And, theres a lot of em too. Im always afraid Ill get my own tail kicked for staring at the wrong ones. But, they are so, sooo, you know. Then, theres the problem of which gang colors to wear when headed for the liquor store. If I get turned around and walk the wrong way while wearing a red or blue jacket, I can easily be shot to death. Not that that would be an altogether bad thing. I think it would solve most of my own problems around here, but I just might have a whole new set of problems somewhere else. Its a religious thing. Speaking of which
People around here really like Jesus a lot
Statues, plaques, pictures in mediums from oil paint, to tile, to macaroni. He adorns the beauty shops, the restaurants and even some of the cars. Jewelry. Tattoos. The works. They listen to the gospel too. Especially the part about multiplying. You can get run down or into the street by the waves of baby carriages that run in phalanxes from 16th Street to 24th and beyond. The shops are Chinatown times 10. Items and services from the sublime to the silly.
Yuppies & APAs join the Mission mix
I first lived in the Mission over 20 years ago and it was a hippie/Latin mix that churned out the likes of Carlos Santana and R. Crumb. It was poor and cheap. You can still eat and shop cheaper here than anyplace in town, but the Victorians are a million bucks apiece if youre buying and a 1 bedroom apartment can be over $1,500 a month. But, for cheapskate shoppers like me, the place is paradise. I love those Chinatown style shops with bright and shining merchandise stretching out onto the sidewalk and for 10 feet up the wall outside. A favorite breakfast pastime became watching the vendors unfold their wares out to the sidewalk and stretch hooked poles bearing strings of backpacks and jackets and hats and the hundreds of other items that fill the street with brilliant colors. Where else can you get a half dozen mostly working cigarette lighters for a dollar?
Its still probably the sunniest part of town and, despite the changes in demographics, the people get along. It feels the same as it did all those years ago. Many of the same people still sip coffee and read and write or sketch at La Boheme on 24th @ Mission. The Mission seethes with life. And, the women are hot.
Meanwhile, back at da Dome
Welcome to Michela Alioto-Pier, District #2s new supervisor. Although Id doubt youll be the avid reader your predecessor was, Ill nevertheless seek to guide you along the proper path (that would be whichever way I say is right subject to change by whim). I must say, however, judging from the little Alioto girls first performance, she dont need none of my advice. Did you see?
The issue was a parking lot at 701 Lombard which District #3s Supervisor, Aaron Peskin was pushing to have converted into much needed park space. Congratulations, by the way, Aaron. So, Alioto-Pier succeeds Newsom in the District #2 seat and proceeds to put tire tracks all over two 6+ Irishmen. That would be Tony Hall and Brian OFlynn. As the new supe explained the anguish of making the decision to favor using eminent domain to convert the parking lot into a park, the RBA builder and his Board sponsor took shots at Alioto-Pier. Michela bristled at Halls suggestion that her decision to favor the park was the result of some backroom deal. The disingenuous OFlynn later was quoted as attacking Alioto-Pier for not being sensitive enough to the needs of his 84 year-old disabled mother. Trust me, the only relatives that boy is worried about are cousins McBuck and ODollar. Later, I fear she showed her true bent , but it was a great start for the little lady with the wheels.
Dalys Restaurant Ratings
Ratings work. They work all over the country. 30 years ago, I was a Health Inspector with Rat Control in the Department of Health in St. Louis. In a way, I guess Im still chasing rats after all of these years. Anyway, where was I?
Yeah, I was a low level inspector. The Restaurant Inspectors made all the money and they all weighed around 300 lbs.. Not that I ever actually saw anyone bribed with money or food. They were though. There were scams in most of the departments if not all of them. Pretty much the same as now, I guess. But, the ratings worked.
As, I believe Daly is proposing, there are 3 ratings: A, B & C. Thats what it was in St. Louis anyway. Thing is, C stickers on the window were temporary. If the place wasnt cleaned up & violations otherwise abated within 30 days, they were closed. A C was very rare. B? There were a few permanent Bs in town and they were usually the result of some antique architectural feature the business chose to keep and accept the lower rating as a result. Places had little gold leaf signs next to their B with explanations about why they chose to keep the old Bar-b-que pit or whatever often with news clips and the like.
Sangiacomo is the father or rent control
Now, hes the father of demolition control.
(Public Speaker before Land Use Committee)
I dont need much to be happy. Money wise, I mean. Now, the problem with many rich people is that there is not enough money to make them happy. Not in the whole entire world. But, theyre convinced they need more and more to be happy, so they do things that are not good for their communities. They take jobs overseas where they can take advantage of slave labor. They dont care if the practice creates unemployment and the resultant suffering in their own towns. Hell, theyre making more money and they can hire private troops to guard them and their property and write them off the few taxes they pay. They convert the homes of the poor into homes for the rich. They build higher and wider and uglier. Politicians, mostly help them. Alioto-Piers vote for Peskins Triangle Park proposal was important for that reason. And, it made her vote against the Trinity Plaza tenants hurt even more when she cast it. I got into a discussion about it last night at my granddaughters party for her first birthday. It was with Matt Gonzalez.
I wont tell you what he said because it wouldnt be right. I mean, he didnt come there to be quoted. He came to bring a mango to a little girl. Yep, a mango. Which she clutched and looked at, then looked up in curiosity to this strange tall man with the necktie. I was biting my tongue in jealousy. Why hadnt I thought to bring her a mango!?! You know how that stuff goes. But, Ill tell you what I said I thought about the Alioto-Pier vote in favor of Angelo Sangiacomos eviction of several hundred low-income tenants sos he can build space for several thousand people making an average of more than a hundred grand a year. Tell you in a minute. First, let me describe a bit about the party because the column is also an electronic journal and note repository, since I have no working printer or ink or paper. You need to get this kind of stuff written and stored somewhere, folks. Face it, electronic storage is best. How many trees do you think have already been saved by e-mail?
Tandiwe was born on Lincolns birthday, a great sign for my familys first African-American. My son-in-law, Kudzai is from Zimbabwe and there were a half dozen or so native African fathers with their white, Peace Corps wives and little tykes (ALL the kids were female, oddly enough). The kids ranged from 6 months to 6 years and have paternal family in Senegal, Mauritania, Malawi & Zimbabwe. I drug Gonzalez into the conversation to see how hed react to the Africans & they to him. The crowd was split between people who had no idea who Matt was (most of em) to the downstairs neighbor who came rushing through the door to announce to us: Did you know that Matt Gonzalez is in the building!?! (Only to turn and realizing he was standing next to the guy most of us think is a future U.S. president.) I asked Ibrahim, a pole-thin intellectual from Mauritania why African Governments were so cruel and their people, so civilized, while in America, black culture glorified violence and the government did little to discourage it.
Ibrahim: We dont listen to our governments in Africa. They were created by European colonials and have no legitimacy. Our source for values and conduct comes from our family, village and tribal structure. Those are thousands of years old. The Europeans have only been around a few hundred. Maso, a huge, charismatic Senagalese warrior sat easily upon the floor of Janice Joplins last San Francisco apartment and shared a bit of ganja. Gonzalez listened with a pleased smile. I coaxed him into the kitchen of the Victorian apartment 200 feet from the corner of Haight and Ashbury to rail at him. (Its our way.)
I pounded the Board President on the issues close to my heart. First, what of my daughters chances if she chooses to run for the School Board? He deferred to a future meeting at City Hall. She should come & talk to him. Apparently, no endorsements were written in stone as yet. I understood. Come loaded for bear, baby. Gonzo knows the issues and if he endorses you, that means you do too. We discussed how youre listed on the ballot vis a vis employment and how key that is. Daughter Mona joined us for the talk. Shed make an ideal candidate. Hell, shes been in the Peace Corps and Americorps, done stints in Africa and teaching in Washington D.C.s worst slums and fighting swamp fires in Florida. Shes back with the Peace Corps as a recruiter and is only 31 years old! Her husband is an African and her daughter is an African-American. How can anyone pick something negative from that? (Other than that shes my daughter.)
I asked if hed seen the rough cut of the Hillis/Haslett movie on my run against Newsom in 2002. No, but Jonathan Richman had called him asking about it in response that I made to him in response to a conversation I had with him when I didnt know he was this, like, gigantic musical genius (like my friend, Neska) I asked if hed ever done a movie and he looked at me like I was crazy (He did Something About Mary) It was at Liz Ross surprise birthday party at Matts and Jonathan was doing his strolling minstrel thing among the crowd of unbelievably beautiful and talented musicians and artists and poets. (Folks, they dont even try, but this family the Gonzalez clan - can throw a party at the drop of a hat thats like Freaky Gatsby or something.) Where the hell was I? Yeah, building a movement. Gaining political power. Using art as a vehicle to carry political messages. (Wow! Thats a new one.)
I phoned Neska to ask if shed heard of this guy and was still interested in helping me with the film. These people (Gonzo, Neska & Richman) are my favorite kind of people. Theyre real. Yeah, thats the big difference between the machine people and machine music and our folks. Theyre manufactured and were real. It sounds so simplistic, but it is so true. The difference is easy to spot. Were scruffy and dont have business cards. No one would consider hiring a friggin party planner or consultant or whatever those people do. We party like the rich, but you get a choice? Choose the party tossed by lefties.
What day is it? What was I saying?
How many people are left reading here? I didnt even get into my trip to Gonzos party last week with Angela Alioto. Actually, I wrote about it twice and stored the first versions (#257&258) for further review. Whats the difference, anyway? I mean, the most important thing in my life now is trying to make my cat, Naomis adoption by Michelle Monagan to take place and work out. Ever have a situation like that? Cat loves me. Really, loves me. Shes been adopted out 3 times and never even tried to make it work. She hides in cabinets or behind appliances for weeks. Once, for 2 months! Til I come back.
I dont have anyplace for her to stay. My enmity with Downtown, the School District and the Poverty Pimps Inc. guarantees Ill never have a real job in any of my professional specialties again. Not in this town. Maybe no place of my own either. Or phone. And, there are thousands like me in San Francisco, even as you read this. I shuffle from one place to another. Cashing my welfare checks. Trading my food stamps for grub. Admired and shunned at the same time. Enough whining. Back to City Hall.
Dufty due for spanking
Id say the biggest surprise of the week was Bevan Dufty voting on the side of the tenants in the Trinity Plaza affair. While Alioto-Pier voted against them. It created the potential for a new floating swing vote on key issues.
I dont really understand these things when they get too complex, so I went to my earthy female buddy, Eileen Left to break it down.
Eileen: Michela will vote just as conservatively as Newsom. The 701 Lombard vote was an anomaly. Face it, the RBA builders made a million bucks off the parking lot just for holding it a couple of years. Her following vote on Sangiacomos project proves Newsom chose a clone. 701 Lombard is a tiny sliver of land right in the middle of Alioto family turf. You dont shit where you eat. You shit at 8th and Market all over the poor people.
h.: Youre in a feisty mood.
Eileen: Newsom has Michela, Bevan Dufty and Fiona Ma in his pocket. Add Tony Hall who has a philosophical kinship and youve got the 4 votes needed to block any Board overrides of Gavins vetoes.
h.: Youre saying that Dufty will change his vote on Trinity Plaza when Gavin vetoes the project?
Eileen: Of course he will! Its all a ploy to distract from Michela voting with the developers. If shed voted with them in the initial vote, shed get the headlines as being the swing vote. When Dufty changes his vote and screws the tenants, the onus will be on him. Bevan can afford to wear the black hat when he changes sides to vote in favor of more evictions for the father of rent control. Hes got 3 years before he faces the voters. Michela has 9 months. The press is in their pocket and theyll emphasize Duftys change and ignore Michela. Shes a good looking young woman named Alioto who happens to be in a wheelchair and those 4 factors make her a near lock. Do you want to be the reporter who goes after a disabled Alioto female?
h.: Good point as always, but why is helping Sangiacomo important for Newsom?
Eileen: Prop J, my boy. Prop J. Its the latest of the yearly projects trotted out by the Chamber of Commerce to displace more poor and disadvantaged. Workforce housing has nothing to do with the workforce and everything to do with getting rid of the poor. (Looks at me sideways she showed up as I got Naomi packed for her trip to Michelles and sat and smoked a joint while she read over my shoulder) Mark my words, Newsom will veto Dalys anti-demolition legislation and Dufty will shift sides to sustain the veto. Sangiacomo is the worst of the lot and theres lots of competition. Once you let that bastard tear down housing for low income people and replace it with housing for the rich, you can let the other hyenas through the door on a case-by-case basis.
h.: What do you think of Newsoms first 100 days?
Eileen: Hes very well advised. He could have announced hed discovered a cure for cancer and not been as popular as he is now in the gay community. Funny thing is, he wasnt there when gay issues came before the Board during his tenure. Remember when you ran against him for the Board and he advised you to run to his right because thats where he got the most flak and that voting for the transgender surgery option for City employees got him the most negative mail? His handlers realized hed never become mayor if he voted against gay issues.
h.: Isnt he condemning himself to local office?
Eileen: Its a gamble, but not a big one. Remember that your son-in-law couldnt have married your daughter in this country when you were a young man. The country is getting more liberal. Gavins people are betting that his early support of basic human rights will be a nice trump card 10 or 20 years from now when they run him for president.
h.: Youre depressing me. What do we do to counter this shit?
Eileen: Youll be dead by the time this plays out on a national level, so you should just keep to your present routine. Have a good time. Write when you have the opportunity. Love your family and friends and store up good memories of battles against evil like the one you just finished in the Gonzalez-for-mayor campaign. Youre gambling, just like Newsoms people, but you should be thinking on a much bigger scale.
h.: How can you get bigger than control of the world?
Eileen: You could be right about God existing. And, being good. Admittedly, those are both long shots, but if youre right, youll win in the post-life. You arent going to win here in the traditional sense. Christ, youll be 60 in 2 months! Dont you realize yet that people like you never get any real power in the world? Your only hope, like George Roth used to say, is to be: the last to lose defend the honorable and ethical positions even when your actions leave you destitute. And, have some fun when you get the chance. Just in case it all ends when you get your chips cashed here.
h.: My cats leaving today. My mom and brother died last year. I cant get a job. I have no woman. Im on the street again this week. Whats the upside?
Eileen: Naomi is moving in with a loving person wholl provide a better home than you ever did. Michelle is lots more mellow than you and Naomi will be happy. But, thats not your problem. You held on to her as long as you could. All that matters is that you do the right thing. Mostly, you do. The earth is a Hell planet and things are not supposed to go well for the righteous. You cant force people to hire or house you. Dont expect it. Youre in a great position. Just stop thinking about yourself and realize the beauty around you. Smell the roses. Listen to the music. Party with your friends. Do them all at the same time when you can.
Eileen: Yeah, Phil and Malisas house-warming. Another chance to draw strength from your base. Malisa is having a baby. Phil is your godfather of IT. Invite Matt. They always like to see their leader. Lend your energy when you have it. Dont always be a taker.
h.: Thank you Mother Eileen.
Eileen: Fuck you!
h.: If it were only possible.
Im the poster child for displaced artists. For decades, I provided shelter for homeless comrades. Now, Im old and looking for help myself. Its ironic that the only people offering me shelter no, dont go there. Im depressed, but hopeful. If theres a God right now, he loves Walter Shorenstein and hates h. brown. That probably doesnt bode well for you.
Dont call me, Ill call you: