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Friday, July 12, 2002

h. brown's columns: July 8, July 10, July 12

July 8, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

Baby, take off your coat … real slow

take off your shoes … I'll take off your shoes

baby, take off your dress … yes, yes, yes …

you can leave your hat on … leave your hat on.

– Joe Cocker

July 7. It's a windy Sunday. The parties haven't ended for about two months. I'm trying to decide whether to take a handful of aspirin or just jump out the window. Since I'm on the first floor, I take the aspirin.

Hell, I might meet Ms Right at the next shindig. Or Ms Rong might be even better.

A few of us sat up till after 2:00 am last night, emptying containers of alcohol and advising each other about such deep thoughts as who should be screwing or apologizing to who & stuff like that. Night afore that the tête à tête lasted till 5:00 am.

What a degenerate lot. I love em.

I'm too old to join the army and too poor to go to “Whispering Glade” for rehab, so I guess I'll just have to ride this sucker out. My friend Jens, the world's biggest pot head, keeps promising to get me into a pot club to enjoy the rarified atmosphere therein.

"You can be my caregiver." That's what Jens says.

"What's that mean?" That’s my reply.

"Well, you're the one who takes the first toke to make sure my pot isn't poison." I consider the logic and definitive parameters. "And I DO make most of the trips to the corner liquor store."

We nod in unison. I am definitely a legal caregiver. I make a quick mental note to add “caregiver” to my daily search of the want ads. I already have several decades’ experience.

Let's see … politics. Yeah, politics. City Hall. … Tony Hall. … Make that “Tony's Hall.” There's a story here.

Urinate at your own risk

– News from the anti-society page

No one invited me to spend the July 4th holiday with them. Now, that's not all that unusual. I'm also a non-guest in the very best homes during Christmas & Hanukkah. What is unusual is that none of my close friends got invited into civilized company either. Perhaps my karma is rubbing off on them.

Anyway, it didn't take long to get them to agree to join my little gathering. They're a truly eclectic group.

My buddy Sean (my first roomie here, 22 years ago) set the tone. Everyone gathered to admire his new tattoo. A very handsome, full-colored depiction of Satan Master of the Underworld himself covered his left bicep. His t-shirt voiced his religious beliefs. Poised above & below a likeness of Lucifer were the divided greetings "God is busy at the moment" and "Can I help you?" Ahhh, these kids today. Sean’s belt was crafted from the remains of a medium-sized cobra (complete with the head – as a cover for the buckle). It must have taken several Texas-sized rattlesnakes to make his cowboy boots.

His “arm candy” was even more intimidating: a 22-year-old Pakistani beauty who shares his abode & showed no fear around his lecherous compadres. Her gaze was like a thousand razor blades as she chatted on her cell phone, busily trying to find a better place to be. I got the feeling that she knew exactly where Osama bin Laden was hiding. It didn't take long for her to beat the likes of us & she was out of there.

A young city supervisor watched her go & then said he needed to go too. Weewee that is. Two sculptors and a poet pointed to the covered gangway furthest from the bar-b-q pit. A sign with an arrow was attached to the adjacent fence: “Tony's Hall” That's what it said. Ever mindful of even the newest laws, the cabal had thought to put a few plastic pails (with starter cups of Lysol in each) in the hall. Voila! “Tony's Hall.”

OK, I won't do this often but I'll clarify somewhat. 7th District supervisor Tony Hall finally got an ordinance passed last week making it illegal to pee or crap in front of your door. Credit where credit is due. Way to go, Tony!

Bombs bursting in air

Reporters, politicians, artists, poets & scatologists. It was a typical h. brown gathering. A voluptuous hippie mamma brought a choice of pot brownies or rice krispie cakes. I worked the crowd trying to find support for my upcoming battle with Gavin Newsom. It was heartening to realize that most of the crowd had never heard of him and somewhat disheartening to find they never heard of me either.

I speculated vaguely on whether or not the campaign contributions tip jar I had put next to the Jack Daniels was kosher with Ginny Vida. In the end, it didn't matter much. All it contained was a single piece of folded paper. I opened it. In block letters was scrawled: “Free Pass to Tony's Hall.”

Car 1010 works holidays

We drank till we stank & headed off in groups or pairs at intervals to walk to a friend's luxurious suite in Pacific Heights to watch the fireworks. In a rare moment of public impropriety, I carried my half-empty can of Bud with me. At the corner of Geary & Leavenworth, a cop car pulled to a halt in my path. Car 1010 was on the job.

"Open container?" queried the officer, who had clearly been hitting the books.

"I just found this sitting over there & I was taking it to the trash can!" That's what I said, in some of my quicker thinking of late.

He smirked & waved me over to the car. I approached. He extended his hand through the window for the beer. Grasping it, he poured it into the street, crumpled the can in an exhibition I felt might well be steroid enhanced, then handed the poor destroyed vessel back to me. "NOW, you can throw it away."

Kim Knox was walking with me. We stood amid the traffic of one of America's busiest streets as Car 1010 pulled away. She watched in wonder. "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me." We pushed on to the post-party party.

I never seen such a thing

The view from the balcony ranged from the Presidio & Golden Gate Bridge all the way to SFO & beyond. It was absolutely, positively the most incredible sight I have ever seen (inanimate wise). A dozen complete fireworks displays began almost simultaneously from Sausalito to Oakland to San Francisco to Alameda to everywhere else anyone had a match and some gunpowder.

The brownie kicked in as the entire panoramic universe exploded in unison. Thousands of people in the streets surrounding the building cheered. If we ever get nuked, I want to watch it from that balcony.

If you had to be shipwrecked

Retreating into Doug's suite, we began a game we'd invented at the bar-b-q a few hours earlier: "If you had to be stranded on a dangerous desert island with a San Francisco supervisor, whom would you choose?"

The vote went like this:

Last place: Aaron Peskin. Aaron would hit the ground running, as it were. He'd establish a dialogue with the cannibals and strike a deal in exchange for survival. Unfortunately, the deal would involve you becoming guest of honor at the next feast.

Next ta last: Chris Daly. Chris would also strike a deal with the natives but it would involve a protest in opposition to the gentrification of the island and you would be forthwith expelled while Daly (despite his youth) would be elected to the top tribal council, where he would quickly get in a fight with the chief.

And next: Leland Yee. He would have plenty of suntan lotion.

Then: Gerardo Sandoval. He'd disappear after attendance was taken.

And: Mark Leno. Mark could make signs easily visible from outer space.

Of course: Tony Hall. He's strong and competent enough to build a raft and paddle it all the way to Hong Kong.

Oh no: Jake McGoldrick. He probably has relatives there. Can you imagine sitting around the campfire for 20 years while he described the “new world” to them?

On the other hand: Matt Gonzalez … Within a week you'd be invited to regular shows of native art and poetry readings complete with all the coconut wine you can drink.

Dream on: Sophie Maxwell. I don't want to be a sexist, but if you were trapped on a desert island with Sophie, why would you want to escape?

Uh: Tom Ammiano. Best legs for a grass skirt.

The winner is: Gavin Newsom. You wouldn't have to spend much time on the island. As a registered rich guy, every plane and ship in the world would be looking for him. Course, he might not take you with him when help arrived.

Y'all be quiet now and take a nap: sobone@juno.com


July 10, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

I think he's a lazy, bigoted Mexican anti-Semite

– A fellow viewer evaluates Gerardo Sandoval

I immediately countered, "He's indecisive too!" I wasn't gonna let anyone get in the last word on a political “ally.”

Ya know, it's probably better to have predictable enemies than unpredictable friends, and that is certainly the case not only with Sandoval but also with Jake McGoldrick. The two of them managed to slow down, confuse ,and otherwise taint an otherwise fabulous twelve-hour performance by 7th District supe Tony Hall's Rules Committee yesterday. Chair Hall & Vice Chair Matt Gonzalez showed their usual good humor, steely fortitude, and total fairness across the board to a range of friends, enemies, and supporters of same during the vetting of candidates for the new Planning Commission. Anytime Joe O'Donoghue comes across as the “progressive” voice with the new ideas, the left has a problem.

A few more details.

Sandoval imitates John Rocker

To my able counterpart at the Examiner, Frank Gallagher: Yes, Frank, Sandoval lied if he said he did not describe the San Francisco Fire Department as being like "a Dublin" phone book.” Let's see, that makes him a lying, indecisive bigot … a scumbag anti-Semite … the man is columnist material!

I heard the boy make the “Dublin” comment to Joe Grubb of the Rent Board, so it sure as hell wasn't off-camera. I may have been half in-the-bag & totally stoned on some of that really great “Blue Dot” pot Jens has been scoring lately, but I heard the “pride” of the Outer Mission loud and clear. I considered running with it but held off out of loyalty to my side of the political spectrum. Ho, ho, ho. On behalf of the Clemens and Gamble clans from which I done been sprung, let me remind Gerardo what W.C. Fields said about the Irish:

Yah know, it takes a lot uh fuckin'

for such uh little country …

to make alla tha cops n' firemen in thuh world

– W.C. Fields said that

It's true too. Sadly, I haven't been holding up my end in this field of late but my thoughts are ever upon the subject.

Back on point: that wasn't the worst of young Gerardo's sins Tuesday. Once again, he did his very best to avoid making any tough decisions when it came down to approving or disapproving candidates for a city commission. At first, Sandoval's attempts to vote last on every candidate or issue were funny. As the months have worn on, it has gotten excessively rude. At one point in the process yesterday, Chairman Hall told Sandoval that he was going to REQUIRE him to vote first in a round. (They normally take turns.) Sandoval's response? He got up out of his chair and left!!

I thought Hall was going to go after him and kick his ass. I actually unreclined, swinging my feet over the edge of the couch & placing them on the floor so I could lean closer to the TV. My buddy, the sculptor, passed me another bourbon on the rocks & Jens lit up a nice fat doobie. "Who says politics is boring?" said the blonde model who'd joined us to catch a buzz before heading back to Marin.

Unfortunately, it never happened. Gonzalez put a subtle restraining hand on Hall's sleeve and the whole world waited until the pouting Sandoval returned to hedge and evade and generally wimp out.

A buddy from the Green Party e-mailed me to say that Sandoval was just stalling so's he could make deals "with x, y and z" between now and next Monday's board when the final vote on the candidates will take place. "He's an opportunistic prick," observed the insider, lamenting the support he'd given Sandoval when Gerardo literally locked himself inside his office to avoid a vote on city funding for transgender operations. Do you remember that one? Board president Ammiano had to direct sheriff's deputies to unlock Sandoval's office when he refused to answer the roll call.

Yesterday, Supervisor Sandoval was a one-man filibuster. Over and over, he simply refused to give an opinion. Twelve hours of testimony from 120 people meant nothing to him. An as-always impeccably dressed Deputy City Attorney Ted Lakey watched incredulously and offered options but all roads required two votes one way or another. When lefty Gonzalez and moderate Hall split on a candidate, the vote was one to one to chickenshit over & over again. Twice Gonzalez was forced to break new ground with Lakey in order to get the choices to the full board. Sandoval, the junior member of the committee, was the proverbial tail wagging the dog. Parliamentarian Lakey pointed out to all that failure to pass the candidates out of committee would result in their de facto appointments to the Planning Commission. It meant nothing to the stubborn reader of the Dublin phone book. It was to HIS way or nothing.

Dat ain't da way it sposed ta work. It's time for big Tom to suck it up and take charge. Board president Ammiano should have removed Sandoval from the Rules Committee and personally filled the third slot at the July 10 special 2:30 pm session in which all of the board's charter amendments got a final hearing before going to the full board for next Monday's critical session. And this time have the deputies lock Sandoval in his XX@@!!XX office!!

me? I'm gonna get a drink: sobone@juno.com


July 12, 2002

Watching City Hall

by h. brown

Just the two of us …

building castles in the sannndd!

Just the two of us …

you and meeeee!

– Dr. Philip Paris explains her new assignment to Tammy Haygood

There sure was a lot of bad energy around last week. Still is.

Let's start with the mayor's decision to overturn the voters' will expressed in last year's Prop E. Now, only an idiot could refuse to admit that the purpose of E was to take control of the Elections Department away from the mayor and place it under an Elections Commission. Still, Willie won't let go. There's something about controlling boxes of ballots that keeps his juices flowing.

No matter what the voters say, Willie is making one last try to regain control of the Department of Elections. Working through an un-elected Civil Service Commission appointed COMPLETELY by himself, Da Mayor is manufacturing an illegal order to place Haygood back on the throne. Are you outraged?

Personally, I think it's funny as hell. I mean, imagine the scenarios.

Tammy inspects “new” office

In a surprise move (to her), returning Department of Elections director Tammy Haygood found that her office had been moved … to East St. Louis, Illinois. Former, former Director Philip Paris met Ms Haygood upon her return to the Williedome and presented her with a one-way Greyhound bus ticket to the “edgy” little burg perched on the Mississippi river. Dr. Paris himself, looking tan and fit, shared his secret: "Since I've been assigned to the 'Beach Ballot Box Brigade,' I've walked thousands of miles up and down practically every beach on the west coast looking for ballot box lids. It really is good exercise and since we sleep in the open (Bill Rojas works with him), it doesn't take long to get that 'George Hamilton' look."

Is the Department of Elections Cursed?

See? No need to get all upset. Just use a little creative personnel assignment moves & everybody is happy. I personally think the whole damned place needs an exorcism big time. It's obviously been cursed by so many defeated candidates that it's become a regular nest of poltergeists. Boxes of ballots levitate and vanish. Highly educated individuals assigned to lead the department become babbling loons, sometimes within days.

The curse is also contagious. The first new Election Commission head carried his records around in the trunk of his car because he thought his staff might steal or destroy them. And he was probably right!

We should deep six the entire outfit and go back to truly grassroots democracy. We all meet at Ocean Beach on election day and vote by a show of hands. Hell, it will work as good as anything Willie's come up with. … Imagine it …

Moderator: Everybody who wants to vote for h. brown, raise your hand. (counts) One, two … … three!

(number goes up on big board as 3 people clap)

Now, how many for Gavin Newsom?

(thousands of upthrusted diamond bracelets flash in the sun)

Politicians in San Francisco are skittish and afraid to act.

– Gerardo Sandoval describing himself

Sandoval really did say that in Rules Committee on Thursday. Not 24 hours after he'd refused to vote on several candidates to the new Planning Commission. Sometimes these guys are just surreal.

Sandoval is the only member of the Board who really treats the position as a part-time job. His clout comes when, upon his few cameo appearances, he blocks legislation and appointments (some of the work years in the making) presented by his hard-working colleagues. Insiders speculating around a big bottle of wine yesterday theorized the freshman supervisor could be angling for consulting work from a variety of potentially lucrative sources. Softening his support for public power, Sandoval commented last week: "I'm not sure it my district needs public power." If you listen closely, you can hear the scratch of the pen as some PG&E Political Action Committee writes out a perfectly legal check to the Gerardo Sandoval Re-election Committee. Dat's how it's done folks.

Newsom deserts post under fire

"We're going to lose what we call a 'quorum.'" That's what Neighborhood Services & Recreation Committee chair Gavin Newsom said as he patronized an incredibly bright crowd of a hundred or so who turned out to protest the murder of cats, penning in of dogs & destruction of what some estimate to already be 1,000 trees from our city parks by a group of seriously loonytunes park employees and volunteers who call themselves the “Natural Areas Program.”

You gotta understand why Gavin was tired and ready to go after four hours of testimony from the well-prepared public and the shrill-pitched, screaming tirades of Willie's Rec & Park director Elizabeth Goldstein. A few of us were sipping cheap bourbon chased with cheaper beer watching Goldstein do a great imitation of a bi-polar maniac. "You think she's drunk?" That's what I asked. I have a lot of experience in that area and I can remember acting like that behind one too many half pints. "Naw" said the sculptor … "She just forgot to take her meds!." She did calm down later after Newsom left.

When Newsom said they were going to lose a quorum, Leland Yee and Mark Leno, the other committee members, looked at him as though it was news to them. But, like I said, Gav is only on that one committee. So he's not used to the long grueling grind of twelve-to-fifteen-hour days they put in this time of year over in Finance or Rules or Budget. Soooo, after first cutting the time for public comment from three minutes to two minutes (illegal on face but no one called him on it), old Gavin left. And he was in charge. The chair. Kind of like the captain of the ship. Poor form.

I don't know where he went but I know the raging citizens of this little tiny city were out in droves trying to protect their trees and animals and access to the lands they bought and paid for and he left them with their comment time cut and Goldstein to bully them.

You know me by now. It's not my way to criticize people. I wouldn't even be telling you this now, but we're friends.

I get a little pussy

Did I tell you about Tina? Yeah, sure I did. Little jet-black feral cat who climbed (literally) through the bars of the secret place where I was crashing and adopted me. Been awhile since you tamed a feral cat? They are so cool. And grateful. And rough!! I have scratches all over my hands and arms from where she makes an occasional miss in our “grab-the-red-ribbon-as-it-goes-across-the-floor” (hey, I ain't Nintendo, here) game.

Last night she brought a guy home. I wouldn't lie to you. I wake up and cute little light-as-a-feather Tina is curled up on my ankles & mashing my diaphragm to the point of suffocation is about a 15-pound huge black & white Tom cat! "Meeeeooooww" croons little Tina as she goes to rub against big Tom's back & lick his ears. I think I'm going to be a grandfather.

h. brown hires Consultants for race in 2

Unprincipled challenger h. brown (that's me – I'm learning to talk about myself in the third person now) … anyway, h. … or I … announced retaining the consulting firm of Nielsen, Spicer & Wierzbowska to manage my fall challenge to the smooth, handsome, rich, young, air-headed flunky to the yacht club set, Supervisor Gavin Newsom, in the richest neighborhood in the world. I've decided to anoint Nielsen to the much-coveted post of campaign manager because, when the light is just right, he looks a lot like John Burton & that can't hurt. If someone starts to shoot at me & they see Jens, they might think he's Burton and say to themselves, "Hey, I don't want to hit John Burton I better come back and shoot h. tomorrow."

That's the way my mind works. Don't you want me to represent you?

Dumped by Marc Salomon

My first campaign manager (designee) was a real sexy Green Party chick who drives me crazy. I met her through mutual insane-radical lunatic-fringe connections (hey, you gotta have a base – we're “building a movement” here). She thought my columns were funny and “sure” she'd take on the light duty of managing my campaign. Trouble is, she had to go and meet me in person. The phone's bad enough. Once she realized I actually meant everything I wrote in my columns, she started looking for the door.

"Don't ever use my name again in one of your columns." That's what she said. I turned to Jens who was rolling a big ole fat joint. "What'd I do wrong?" I asked.

"You're an 'over-the-top' kind of guy” was his answer.

Next I offered the plum assignment to my friend Marc Salomon (the sharpest mind in San Francisco politics) whom I backed for supervisor in District 6 back in 2000 when we were both candidates. He said sure, not much work to process $500 for the entry fee and avoid attachments from SBA & Student Loan & DPT and a half dozen ex-wives.

Marc quit.

"What'd I do wrong?" That's what I asked again. Jens ground the hash over the bed of good green bud & lit it up & passed it to me. He exhaled a long, peaceful cloud of cannabis ingredients into the grateful atmosphere: "You're an 'over-the-top' kind of guy" was his answer again.

I decided he should be my campaign manager. Did I mention, he looks like John Burton?

So the campaign will have an “institutional memory,” I invited my sculptor buddy Kim Spicer to join on as a consultant. Kim was the manager of my campaign in 6 in 2000, where we polled 1 percent of the vote on an outlay of $20. Kim was the ideal campaign manager. He never went to a single meeting or debate. He refused to listen to me practice speeches. "Go take your meds!" He'd say stuff like that. It was good advice. (Plus, he's big as a grizzly bear and no one messes with you when he's around.)

To grab a big chunk of the chick vote, I decided to ask my best friend, ex-main-squeeze, Ania Wierzbowska to complete the firm of Nielsen, Spicer & Wierzbowska. Ania was raised in commie Poland with Russian tanks in the woods behind her house so, she thinks this is a pretty tame political scene.

Hmmmm, it's coming together isn't it? Beautiful ex-girl friends, serious physical muscle, drunks, pot-heads. We're starting to mirror Willie.

John Bovio Rules!!

Emerging superstar abstract, full-sized character artist John Bovio had a positively explosive opening last night & I was there with my posse of film makers, political junkies, and deranged intimates to be honestly astounded at the presentation within a HUGE (yet intimate) ancient, converted warehouse/loft space whose location (around 1100 Caesar Chavez) was lost in the shuffle of my entourage. Hey, it was on a postcard and we had 3 cars of people & we were passing it back & forth and we were drunk. And we were high … where is car 1010 when you need it?

We'll get back to you on the address, but listen, the art is the thing & this time John & his friends presented it in an absolutely amazing setting. The space was easily 5,000 square feet downstairs & it was totally open up to a height of 30 feet or better. The building was antique so the backdrop was sand-blasted brick 150 years old. The Bovio pieces lined the walls. Most of them are at least 6 feet high & around 30 inches wide. Just the right dimensions to encase Bovio's representation of the characters he chooses to capture.

Get this. You walk in. Bovio's figures line the long walls left and right. There is a take-off on Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel depiction of the oldest white myth. Passing the power of life to a supine Adam (I should have posed for “Adam“) floats over the exhibition and ties it together nicely. The “fulfillment of the expectation of pattern,” which all of you who are not cretins will recognize as a Santayana quote, continues over a hundred feet along each side wall & with the “creation” masterpiece overhead, points to the triple-story dance-and-musical offering centered womb-like at the end of the phenomenal space. A two-tiered dance floor rises from the rear of the space, waiting to seduce art freaks captured by the mellow strokes of the jazz quartet that trades air time with the cutting edge dj who sits and spins in the staunchly appointed booth another dozen feet above the quartet, which is above the double dance floor, which is above the perfectly scoped artistic presentation along the opposing walls & capped with the mural. Throw in a couple of well-stocked bars & y'all got yourselves a show folks!

Hey, it is always good to see a friend make good. It is always good to see someone advance their exposure from (in my own case) writing nasty things on the walls of bathrooms, to performing in an accessible, open, focused and eminently well-appointed venue. Bovio's art, as I have said many times, is the kind of art you build a re-decoration effort behind. You go pick something of his you like, trusting his instincts of color (if your decorator is smart enough to match em in the fabrics & arrangements & currentness, as Jake McGoldrick might say). You pick it and you build a large living room or den around it. I saw it first in Supervisor Matt Gonzalez's office, where a changing show of talented local monster painters & etchers & poets are allowed to show their masterpieces for a short period of time under the golden covering of the Williedome before being cast upon their own. Many of them need only that tiny edge. Exposure before a small portion of the hundreds of thousands who can easily afford to choose and patronize an up-coming talent. They show at City Hall, they sell, they move to bigger venues. Everyone wins. Keep it up all!

I'm tired. Lie about your name: sobone@juno.com