With plenty of
time before the sun rises on the new year, Heart of the City offers
an overview of San Francisco's highs and lows of 2004. From Beach
Blanket to Wedstock, it was a year to remember.
Best make-over: The dome over the Palace
of Fine Arts went from drab gray to fab burnt orange in the latest
stage of its multi-million dollar rehabilitation.
Fond Farewells: Miz
Brown's Feedbag, Mister Lee's,
Pon & Hom's hot dog stand,
Denis Dumont's parfumerie, and
Quality Junk all shut their
doors for good in 2004. They join Dr.
Bombay's, the ferry Golden
Gate, the Compass Rose,
and Deovlet & Sons in the
annals of San Franciso's past.
Worst photo-op: Mayor Gavin Newsom and wife Kimberly
Guilfoyle were all smiles on Ann Getty's area rug for the pages of
Harper's but the public said, "Cheese!"
Best technical innovation: Union
Square goes wi-fi.
Best anniversary: Beach
Blanket Babylon producer Jo Schumann Silver gave an unforgettable
four-day party for the revue's 30th Anniversary in June, and that's
not all. As part of the fun, Silver donated more than $400,000 to
San Francisco-based non-profits.
Worst eulogy: Former Secretary of State George Shultz's
attempt to honor Ronald Reagan on Steve Silver's Babylon stage was
received by stone cold silence from the audience. In attendance were
author Armistead Maupin and
others who lost countless friends to AIDS in the 1980s while Reagan
stayed silent on the epidemic.
Best Comeback: Maupin announced, "Micheal Tolliver
Lives," a new novel that will feature Tales of the City characters,
but don't call it a sequel the author says. Runner-up: The Vaillancourt
fountain springs to life.
Best new restaurant: Sydney's Home in the new Jewish
Community Center at California and Presidio.
Worst attempt at Euro-ization: Drivers in the Haight
were clueless as to how to negotiate a roundabout on Page Street.
Also, Mr. and Ms. San Francisco balked at the possibility of paying
for grocery bags.
Best holiday performance: San Francisco's home-grown
musical comedy star PA Cooley is a gas as The Man Who Came to Dinner
through January 9 at Theatre Rhino in the Mission.
Best political surprise: Call it Wedstock
as thousands of gay couples said "I do" at City Hall beginning two
days before Valentine's Day. The California Supreme Court voided the
nuptials, which were later scapegoated for the Bush victory, but Newsom
says San Francisco did the right thing. Runner up: Newsom names Angela
Alioto as homeless czar for San Francisco. Heart of the City and others
had accused Newsom of teasing Alioto with a well-dangled carrot in
exchange for her endorsement for mayor. Mea culpa.
Best landlord dispute: Tony
Hall, the mayor of Treasure Island, found himself in a brouhaha
with the film commission as the mayor attempted to breathe new life
in the City's flagging film industry economy. Director Chris Columbus
will bring his new musical here, but Hall raised the roof for more
Rent. Runner up: Angelo Sangiacomo agrees to build 500 affordable
housing in exchange for a green light to demolish Trinity Plaza.
Best anti-climax: No one takes the rap for Fajitagate
as judge and jury clear officers and brass who were implicated in
a Union Street brawl over leftover Mexican food and an alleged cover-up
in 2002. Former officer Alex Fagan Jr., the only remaining former
officer on trial, may still prove the cheese stands alone, or did
he take the wrap?
Brightest political career nipped in the bud: Heather
Hiles had high hopes after turning a leadership position in the Newsom
campaign into a short-term appointment to the Board of Education,
but the electorate said no thanks to a full term for the once-rising
Best Tom Ammiano punch line: Regarding the controversy
over elephant care at the San Francisco Zoo, Ammiano quipped, "There's
a lot of talk about public-private partnerships and whether they work.
The elephants died - this one's not working!"
Best Redux: Sears
Fine Foods had deteriorated under the weight of its owner's financial
woes - not to mention decades of maple syrup - before it closed early
in '04. New owner Man J. Kim, a onetime immigrant cab driver who also
owns Lori's Diner, renovated and reopened the 65 year-old Swedish
pancake institution in August. In doing so, Kim worked with the City
to put formerly homeless individuals to work at Sears. First runner-up:
PJ Corkery returns to the Examiner with an update on the old three-dot
formula, three times a week. Second runner-up: Trader
Vic's attempts to merge the mojos of Stars and the original Vic's
as the epicenter of political and social culture in the City.
Best San Francisco guide books: David Weintraub's
hiking guide "Afoot & Afield in the San Francisco Bay Area" provides
access to some of the City's most beautiful natural spaces. It also
demonstrates why San Franciscans have great calves and terrible knees!
Mike Sullivan's "The Trees of San
Francisco" is the ultimate tree-huggers guide to the City. Adah
Bakalinsky's perennial favorite "Stairway Walks in San Francisco"
was re-released in an updated 20th anniversary edition.
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