h. brown's columns: July 8, July
10, July 12
July 8, 2002
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
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
"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
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!
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
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
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
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
Then: Gerardo Sandoval. He'd disappear after attendance
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:
July 10, 2002
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:
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
"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
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
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
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: