Watching City Hall #398 (10-6-05)
“The first shells from the Iowa’s 18″ guns hit the Castro before dawn.”
(from: ‘Let my People go!’)
This is a fiction story about a grandfather who tries to get City officials to open a restroom facility in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. He is a simple man whose simple pursuit of this simple goal somehow goes terribly wrong and results in terrible, terrible things happening to his beloved City.
The Simple Cast:
(similarity to real people unintended)
Mayor: Gavin Newsboy
Police Chief: Heather Stunned
D-5 Supervisor: Ross Masquerading
OES Chief: Annemarie Cluless
Rec & Park Chief: Yomi Yabadabadoo
Ace photographer: Luke Thompson
Gangster cop: Gary Delugnuts
Tiger Woods: Plays himself
As the sun began to rise it was clear to me that Supervisor Masquerading had sided with Mayor Newsboy and Rec boss, Yabadabadoo. They weren’t going to open the Panhandle bathroom. Janis Joplin’s bathroom. Tandewe’s bathroom. In fact, they were determined to tear it down. The ball was in my court. My threats to disrupt Tiger Woods’ backswing with a variety of sudden noises would have to go forward. The world’s 70 top golfers were arriving in the City even as I spread out the supplies on my bed.
Let’s see, I have 24 demonstrators. Our weapons are 6 whistles, 4 aerosol claxon horns, a bag of 1,000 balloons with a ball of string and some straight pins to burst the baloons. We have access to 4 cars and a dozen bicycles. With the 4 car horns figured in, I figured we’d have plenty of firepower to deliver some kind of distracting noise each of the 280 or so times Tiger got into his backswing in the tournament’s 4 rounds. Everyone had a cell phone and some of the geeks had other communications equipment I couldn’t understand. I’d figured to run the entire operation from my simple SRO room. Easy enough. Just watch the tournament on TV, chat with whomever was assigned to deliver the next blast of sound and say: “Get ready … he’s raising the club … NOW!!!”. Hopefully, Tiger would slice a few into the woods and bitch about all the noise and someone would tell him that it was because Mayor Newsboy and Supervisor Masquerading were trying to tear down Jimmie Hendrix’s bathroom and not clean it up and open it for a sweet, 2 year-old little African-American girl and her bumbling grandpa.
Then, Tiger comes down and looks at the bathroom (they open it for him) and Phil the plumber tells him that he can have the lines cleared and any repairs done in a couple days tops and they start the work and everything goes great and we get to stop having to go potty in what we call ‘Tiger’s Woods’, the bushes around the closed antique-gem of a WPA porcelin-lined toilet with the carved eaves, 4×4 rafters and, and, and … yeah, lame. Whatever, that was the fantasy.
Anyway, I had to do something. Owed it to my granddaughter. And, my readers. I kind of vaguely wondered how the cops and especially, Sgt. Gary Delugnuts would react if they intercepted my plans. Would they hand them over to Annemarie Clueless, who runs the Office of Emergency Services and would almost certainly, then transmit them to the DHS itself (the ‘Department of Homeland Security’ - if it sounds Nazi, it should; they are) … and, perhaps more forebodingly, I’d heard rumors that a radical element had adopted the cause and planned to take their own actions. Well, I certainly opposed that.
I spent the day planning our action. The Sunday Chronicle had kindly laid out 20 pages of maps and pictures of the terrain and surrounding parking lots, highways, water access … they even gave the names of the hotels where the players were staying and the types of comp cars they’d be driving. By the end of the day, I had a plan of action. I copied individual maps for my team with spots in their ’sectors’ where they could blow whistles or sound horns or simply yell: “ROSS!!!” at the top of their lungs.
The day was long and lots and lots of fun. I caught a few minutes of Beyondchron’s Phil Phatrear interviewing Mayor Newsboy about an extra half million he’d spent on the Harding parking lot and some fancy landscaping. In the backround, the Sentinel’s, Luke Thompson snapped his high end digital camera rapidly catching every expression of each of the men from every angle. I could tell by the Mayor’s anger that there was going to be one butt-ugly photo of Phatrear in the tomorrow’s Sentinel. He got pretty pissed when Phil asked why they didn’t use the money to fill potholes. Had he told the truth, he’d have told Phil directly: “You son of a bitch! I invited you to my fucking wedding and this is the way you repay me? Do you know who paid for that wedding? Does the name ‘Getty’ ring a bell? As in billionaire, Gordon Getty? Did you notice that your Sunday paper carried an article about my old buddy, Billy Getty shooting a round at Harding? Listen asshole, if these generous people are willing to spend $350,000 of money they got in tax cuts from Bush on my wedding, I’ll be goddamned if I’m not going to spend a half million of money that should have been used to open toilets in the City’s parks on them so they can have a decent place to park!” The phone rang and it was Rachel, so I missed the rest of the interview as I gathered everything up and went down the stairs. I hoped that Gavin actually said that and that Phatrear responded with a demand to save Janis Joplin’s bathroom in the Panhandle. I kind of doubted it.
I packed all our gear into Rachel’s car and headed for Ocean Beach where I distributed the maps and individual noise makers and we drank wine and brainstormed all morning. Over 30 people showed up. We added 4 more cars and someone even brought an antique siren from an old fire truck. The tournament opened in less than 20 hours. I handed out the printed schedules and times. They’d all spend the rest of the afternoon disguised as interested joggers and hikers and cyclists, reconnoteuring their individual sectors around the course. If we concentrated only on Tiger, they’d each only have to be in harm’s way two or three times each. Or, 3 times, if Tiger shot a 90.
Evening of October 5th
We had to do a test run. The members of our group lived all over the City, so I had our cyclists scatter to monitor and report back on headsets if they heard the desired blares of sound upon my direction. They were to stop the same distance the test sounds would be from Tiger the next morning. I watched the news. The tournament was on every station and in every publication. I truly hated to fuck it up but they can’t tear down Janis & Tandewe’s bathroom without some retribution.
Tiger would start at 8:45am on the 10th hole. I’d be starting director of the operation from my Tenderloin command post. If I was cut off, we had back-up controllers, one adjoining the Castro Theater and another on Coit Tower. If those went down, there was an emergency capacity from a pleasure boat just off the coast and within view of the golf course. I cued up my tape of Tiger playing at the Masters which has comparable folliage & went to the headset with an Instant Message backup. Tiger reached the top of his backswing on the TV. “Now!” I barked without yelling. Instantly, I heard the sound of an air horn over the phone in the Castro and a whistle from Coit Tower. Then, huge laughter all over. The bike messenger monitoring the Haight announced: “The word is out! Some guy down the street who isn’t even with us just leaned out his window and yelled: ‘ROSS!!!’.”
It went like clockwork like that for the next 2 hours. I almost felt sorry for the world’s best golfer. Hopefully, he’ll put the blame on the right people by the end of the first round. Lay it at the feet of Mayor Newsboy who had Luke Thompson take over 300 pictures of him welcoming Tiger to town. Lay it at the foot of Supervisor Masquerading who told a huge crowd at the Brava Theatr/Dance Brigade New Orleans benefit … told them, as he had at the SFPO founding that we needed a revolution and that he was just the guy to lead it. This from a guy who couldn’t get a bathroom open. Blame it on the area supervisor for Harding, Sean Elsberg who refused to help open even a single bathroom in the rest of the City’s parks while he was busy building a palatial clubhouse for Tiger and Billy Getty. I went for a drink with Rachel. We were ready to roll.
“I was awakened by the sound of loud explosions.”
They seemed to be coming from all over the City. Soon they were joined by the sound of fighter jet aircraft tearing at tree top level back and forth across the City. I’d stayed with Rachel who was sitting upright next to me in all her voluptuous nude glory. “I think they read your email.” That was all she said as she bounded over to turn on the TV.
Mayor Newsboy was on every channel looking both grim and very satisfied. Luke Thompson moved smoothly around the Mayor and OES Director, Annemarie Cluelss whom Gavin kept referring to as “Annie”. I put on hot water for coffee and lit a joint. The Mayor spoke.
Mayor Newsboy: “I am happy to announce that our own OES department under the command of Director Annemarie Clueless has identified an extensive terrorist’s cell spread throughout the City and it is being destroyed even as we speak by a strikeforce of U.S. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, DEA, IRS, FBI, DBI, INS and SNAFU forces. While there has been some small level of unavoidable collateral damage, we believe the cell has been suppressed and the AMEZ golf tournament at Harding Golf course will begin as scheduled at 8:35am. (turns to OES Director and gives her an awkward, one shoulder hug as they both grin broadly) “Great job you’re doing here, Annie.”
Turns out they’d fully rearmed the U.S.S. Iowa and positioned her just West of the Farolone Islands from where she’d totally destroyed the central Castro business district, Coit Tower and the entire block of SRO’s on McAllister that included my own humble unit.
The other Navy contribution was from the famed Blue Angels who were armed and sent in to strafe and sink all small craft in the sea and Bay at that hour. Loaded early ferries from Sausalito, and Oakland went down with no survivors. “We don’t rescue fucking terrorists!” said SFPD union chief, Gary Delugnuts speaking on behalf of Chief Heather Stunned who called in sick. 6 fishing boats went down or drifted burning up to the beach opposite the golf course.
Rachel bundled me up and moved me to a safe house of her choosing. “They’ll never look for you at Tom’s house.”, she said. He came to the door wearing a sheer, Paris blue housecoat, a pink boa and bunny rabbit houseshoes. He shook his head when he saw me. “You really are even uglier up close.” he said sadly but suprised me with a warm hug. “Remember when you made fun of my makeup? Well, now I’m going to do your makeup.”
In under an hour, I was in full drag. I turned side to side in the mirror and came close to getting a boner. I looked better than a lot of chicks I’ve chased shamelessly and would have screwed at the drop of a hat. Had I been denying my true nature? My eyes began to mist over. “Don’t you dare!” called Tom. “You’ll screw up your makeup, you silly drag queen!” He led me hobbling on my first high heels to the door and handed me two rolls of quarters. “Use pay phones only and make no more than one call from each one. Find out if any of your people are still alive.” He waved me off as I stumbled down the street trying to hold back the tears. In all directions, huge columns of smoke rose from the Tenderloin and Castro and Telegraph Hill, the Bay and Ocean Beach.
The first round of the AMEZ went smoothly. Tiger Woods thrives on pressure. He shot a course record 60 and only John Daly stayed near him with a personal best 63. The only negative came when Vijay Singh was shot and killed by a 50 caliber round fired by one of 40 Special Forces snipers tied into the 200′ Monterrey Cyprus trees lining the course. Mayor Newsboy was solemn at his photo-op that evening. “Hey, it’s just collateral damage. Things like this happen. Vijay was in the rough and using a very shiny iron. The soldier mistook the flash of his club as the flash of a rifle barrel. … But, how about that Tiger!?”
The firing didn’t let up all night. The Iowa was apparently at it again, but they were hitting other parts of town for some reason. Heavy barrages levelled the Sea Cliff and Pacific Heights neighborhoods. I sat at a dyke bar on Folsom and got hit on mercilessly as I swilled cheap bourbon and watched the mess on TV. Apparently, not only had there been another, more radical organization watching the tournament, but they were into payback. They took out both Hunters Point fossil fuel plants with pinpoint accuracy, then turned to level 850 Bryant. The Bohemian Club is no more. They were just beginning to topple a series of downtown office buildings when the first torpedo from the hidden nuclear sub hit her amidships. Desperate hands fired one last errant round as the huge battleship rolled over and sank. One of the rounds hit the south tower of Goldengate Bridge crumpling it and sending the entire bridge westward into the Pacific Ocean. Three more hit the Bay bridge and it went down in a tangle of steel. The last remaining round fell into the Bay and proved ‘lucky’ for the rebel forces as it punctured the Transbay Tunnel and flooded the subway from Oakland to Glen Park.
The Mayor explained what had happened on KRON 4 the next morning. “It was gay sailors who resented being attacked by the Iowa for some reason. They staged a really silly commando raid, took over the ship and … well, I mean, what a mess.” He shook his head in sadness and disgust as Thompson clicked away and a chastised Phil Phatrear nodded in agreement.
The tournament that day was played (except for the City burning in the backround) under a cloudless sky in perfect conditions. The Mayor toured the City with Annie at his side in a borrowed CHP helicopter. Sgt. Delugnuts arrested the entire Police Commission, took them to Alioto Plaza and shot them personally with a trophy lugar while his troops cheered. The Blue Angels mistook 50 school children playing with balloons in Golden Gate Park for terrorists, strafed and napalmed them and blamed it on Al Qaeda.
On the course, Tiger was even better. He broke his record from yesterday, shooting a 59 without a smile. Daly lowered his own score to 61. Nothing like a great golf match to get the City excited.
I’d been moving constantly, only returning to Tom’s to freshen up and change wigs and dresses. I was getting kind of picky and Tom and I had a few little bitchy flare-ups when I criticized his choice of this or that accessory for my ensemble. “Would you rather stay with Aaron Pisskin, you bitch!” That was one of the exchanges, but he wasn’t serious. I wasn’t going around any heterosexuals while I was looking this hot. I wondered if I could get Luke Thompson to photograph me before I dumped the disguise. But, did I really want to dump it? Could I ever afford to? And, was it really a ‘disguise’ anymore? Whatever, even Lugnuts and Clueless were sure to find me if I stayed here. But, I wasn’t leaving until the tournament was over.
The town was still burning by morning. Lots worse. The dead and dying were everywhere. Mayor Newsboy had called for the California National Guard but Governor Bormann only answered: “Yass, yass, ve cun zee da zmoke frum Zackramenta, but da troops? Dey izz en Iraqqq!” He laughed, lit a cigar and hung up. When asked if the help of FEMA had been requested, mayoral spokesman, Peter Rathole replied angrily: “Get our picture taken with that bunch of incompetents? You gotta be fucking kidding. That could hurt Gavin’s career.”
There was a short ceremony honoring the memory of Vijay Singh at daybreak that proved exciting. It seemed that whomever was also protesting this tournament was still alive and kicking. The ceremony itself was flawless. Warren Hellboy flew Willie Nelson in to sing the song about ‘Running Bear and Little White Dove’ and everyone cried. When asked why he’d chosen that particular number, Nelson replied: “Well, he was an Indian, wasn’t he?” The Blue Angels flew over the ceremony at a height of less than 6 inches and did a ceremonial strafing of the area where Vijay had fallen. An angry groundskeeper began running madly around the holes the jets machine guns had left in his fairway. He began screaming at the departing aircraft: “Replace your fucking divots, man!!” A marine corps sniper silenced him with one shots. “He was threatening a U.S. government aircraft.” was the only statement released by the White House at the funeral ceremony for all 4 Blue Angel pilots who were downed by a geek-rejeuvenated anti-aircraft battery in the Marin Headlands during their show in the Marina later that day.
Tiger wasn’t fazed. “My dad used to throw things at me when I practiced putting.” he noted. “This here, (gesturing at the burning City all around him) is nothing.” He promptly went out and broke his last record, shooting a 58. John Daly carted a 59. We still had us a tournament here. I recall wondering if they’d blown up Joplin’s Panhandle bathroom or forgotten what had gotten this entire thing started in the first place.
For the first time, the tournament had a delay. As morning broke, the skys were full of helicopters. News, military, CHP … the whole world indeed, was watching.
Lugnuts and Clueless had their swat teams shoot them all down with hand-held SAM missiles. “We don’t have any helicopters here in San Francisco.” said Lugnuts. “So, of course, we had to consider them unfriendly. ”
But, also, of course, the snipers in the trees took out all of the cops when they started shooting at military aircraft. The cops responded by immolating the snipers and their 200′ nests with flamethrowers. The whole thing took less than 20 minutes. The police force was down to 20 cops as the 80% of the force who lived out of town couldn’t have made it in, even if they’d tried.
Tournament officials huddled and decided that the contest could continue with a few rules adjustments. The burning trees and helicopters and bodies of snipers and cops and groundskeepers were new hazards but they didn’t favor any one player, so they’d allow them to remain as was. Tiger and Daly tee’d off down a fairway with trees blazing on both sides. If you weren’t dead in the middle of the freeway, your ball was certain to melt. Both were perfect. Daly shot a 56 and Woods nailed a 54.
I watched the last holes of the AMEZ sitting in Pisskins basment sipping Shirley Temples and practicing my lisp. I knew that I was gonna do fine as a new lady if I was able to get out of town. I’d discovered a side of myself that I never even suspected existed. Oh, it was too bad that so many people had to die and that San Francisco had to get burned to the ground again, but it could have been worse.
I’d gotten to see the best golf ever played for one thing. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Blue Angels and both crews of the Iowa had displayed consummate gunnery skills that again questioned the need for short-range missiles. Tom and I had made up and promised to keep in touch. The San Francisco economy was sure to boom, what with all the new construction jobs. And, Tiger was coming back! “Are you shitting me?” gaped the best of the best. “I’ve never played better. I’m thinking of hiring h. brown to head an advance team to go into every place I play and get things ready.” He grinned and looked at the ground. “That Brownie, he’s some guy. And, tell Tandewe and Janis Joplin that I will personally guarantee that their little bathroom won’t get torn down.”
alls well that ends well