blessed to have so many botanists in San Francisco. A couple
of weeks ago, after skipping through the gentle hail of falling blossom
petals from Bay Street to the Sunset, I asked the Universe, "Why are
there always cherry blossoms weeks before the Cherry Blossom Festival?"
Well, I've been informed about blossoms in this town and you will
Mike Sullivan says, "All of the pink blossoming flowers now are plums.
There are two different varieties, but both are plums. The cherries
bloom in early April, according to this book I have called 'The Trees
of San Francisco,' which I trust on these things." Mike should know
- he's the author of that very fine book!
The mysteries of San Francisco are not lost on Assemblyman Mark Leno,
either. Leno pointed out the beautiful plum trees outside his sign
company on Brady Street. "The sidewalk is covered in fallen pink petals,"
Last week, Leno introduced legislation targeting Ellis
Act abuse. California's Ellis Act was passed in 1986, ostensibly
to allow small property owners to get out of the rental business.
In practice, however, the Ellis Act is routinely used to evict long
term tenants. According to housing rights activists, 25% of tenants
evicted under the Ellis Act are senior citizens.
Leno's bill would limit Ellis Act evictions to landlords who have
owned for at least five years. If passed, the bill would prevent people
who have no intention of being landlords from buying rental properties
for the purpose of shaking tenants out of rent controlled units.
February 19, 2005 was moving day for evicted tenants at 424-434 Francisco
Street in North Beach. Neighbors, lefty activists, and concerned citizens
including Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Port Commissioner Sue Bierman,
Marc Bruno, Larry-Bob Roberts, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Denise Deanne,
Sister Bernie Galvin, and Lorna Derider showed up to express support
for an end to Ellis Act abuse. Derider lived in the building on Francisco
Street for 38 before being evicted under the Ellis Act.
Authors of the web site landlord.com support the Ellis Act as written.
According to the web site, "rent control in any form stinks."
In the ongoing pantheon of favorite independent businesses, Erica
Martinez would like to recommend Japanese Weekend Maternity. Located
at 500 Sutter Street, next to the Lori's Diner, the San Francisco-based
company makes all of its clothing right here in the city.
Barbie White opened up shop in the early '80s. Martinez says, "All
of the designs are fresh and innovative and I love that she keeps
the design and manufacturing processes in San Francisco." For more
information visit japaneseweekend.com
My friends involved with this year's San Francisco International Asian
Film Festival, March 10-20, assure me that these are two of the must-see
films of the program.
"Saving Face" is the opening night film by Alice Wu of San Jose. The
film's star, our own Joan Chen, is scheduled to appear at the opening
night at the Castro Theatre and later at the festival's gala at the
Asian Art Museum at Civic Center. The set-up of "Saving Face" is provocative:
"A lesbian's widowed mother turns up pregnant, refusing to name the
father and ostracized by her traditional Chinese community."
"Hiroshima Mon Amour" is a classic Alain Resnais film from 1959 being
shown to a whole new generation at the Castro on March 12. The screening
will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the U.S. nuclear attack on
Hiroshima. For more information and schedules visit naatanet.org.
San Francisco's best bass player Fil Lorenz appears with the BIG Soul-tet,
a 13 piece jazz orchestra that includes Hammond organist Wil Blades,
at John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room on March 3. The show is a tribute
to jazz organ master Jimmy Smith, who passed away February 8.
Comedian Lisa Geduldig has announced a date for her 7th annual Funny
Girlz celebration of women and humor at the Herbst Theatre. On April
Fools Day, Geduldig welcomes Tonight Show veteran and former "Roseanne"
writer Cathy Ladman, Atlantis Cruise regular Shann Carr, Marshall's
Women in Comedy Competition winner Carla Clayy, two-time Comedy Central
"Laugh Riots" finalist Gretchen Rootes, and Boston Comedy Festival
vet and new San Francisco resident, Alana Devich.
I'm delighted that Geduldig announced this lineup because it provides
an opportunity to tell a juicy story about one of the cast members.
Around 14 years ago, I was in a comedy show at a nightclub in Berkeley
with a dozen comedians including one of this year's Funny Girlz.
The F.G. had a friend I'll call "Gertrude," who spent the entire day
and night, until 2 a.m. fetching wigs, costumes, make-up, nachos,
cigarettes, and whatever else the comedians and performers needed.
The F.G. gave me a lift back to the City, over the Bay Bridge with
only she and I and lots of costume type things like wigs and boas
in the car at about 2:30. Feeling rather exhausted, I said, "It sure
was wonderful having Gertrude around. What a fantastic help she was."
"Yeah," said the F.G., "She's my slave."
"Well," I said, "it's always nice to have an extra pair of hands."
"Yes," the F.G. repeated flatly, firmly, "She's my slave."
After that I sat in silence all the way home, knowing I had left part
of my innocence somewhere around Treasure Island. Viva San Francisco!
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