Sunday put me
in a Cleveland state of mind. Now, I don't know much about Cleveland
except that it's frequently named as a place from which new San Franciscans
come. Cleveland represents the former life of a San Franciscan once
thirsty for the freedom and sophistication of life in the City. At
the outset of Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City," Mary Ann Singleton
telephones her mother in Cleveland from the Buena Vista, Irish coffee
in one hand, to tell mom she's decided to stay.
This Cleveland state of mind, a weariness of the general banalities
of life, seemed to follow me to SBC Park, where our own Giants faced
off against the Cleveland Indians. It was the first confrontation
for the two teams since the Giants clobbered the Indians in the 1954
For starters, Cleveland has inexplicably gotten away with keeping
Chief Wahoo, the team's tired, racist logo character into the 21st
Century. A Google search for "San Francisco diversity" on the Internet
yields 5,050,000 pages. "Cleveland diversity" nets only 805,000 pages.
These may be completely unscientific measures, but judging also by
audience response, San Francisco wasn't feeling Chief Wahoo on Sunday.
In fact, the hometown crowd at SBC wasn't feeling much except the
sting of a 5-3 defeat.
The dutiful girlfriend of a young Giants fan sat in front of me. When
her iPod, which she wore for the entire game, was not sufficient entertainment,
our gal fielded text messages for a good two hours. After the Giants
had failed to score in four innings, she wasn't the only one looking
around for alternate sources of entertainment.
With planned development of the old Navy shipyard at Hunters Point
and the construction of towers on Rincon Hill, SBC Park has become
the centerpiece of tomorrow's San Francisco. The beautiful bayside
ball field, with its beautiful and well-managed crowds, is a jewel
in the crown of San Francisco. However, certain questions about the
Giants home game experience arise from the point-of-view of the end
user. Why do we in the stands hear Renel's commentary only intermittently?
Why do chants last only enough repetitions to pick up the beat? And
of course, the $90 million question, how much smaller will Barry Bonds
and his fan base be when and if he returns to the game?
Even more puzzling are strange cases of pride and prejudice in the
gay community. On the heels of news that Supervisor Tom Ammiano was
deemed "too political" to co-host KRON-TV coverage of the Gay Parade
in San Francisco, I learned that the grand marshals of the gay pride
parade in West Hollywood were Paris Hilton and her mom, Kathy. These
seemingly unrelated events create a reality that's just paradoxical
enough for a headache.
"Paris and Kathy know what it's like to be misunderstood," said one
gay newspaper. Ammiano, regardless of one's politics, is nothing short
of a living legend in San Francisco, having led a grassroots write-in
campaign that nearly put him in the mayor's office after decades of
service to the community. Hilton, as far as I can ascertain, looks
good in and out of Versace. So what in the world is happening to gay
Also in the heart of the Castro simmers a battle about racism at a
popular gay bar. In April, the City's Human Rights Commission found
that Badlands owner Les Natali had discriminated against black employees
and customers. The HRC is the City's principal entity for forwarding
human rights but has no enforcement power. Natali vehemently denies
allegations of racism and is appealing the HRC findings.
Meanwhile on the streets of the City, picketers led by the group And
Castro For All have been joined on their weekend demonstrations of
the bar by a number of present and former supervisors. Supervisors
Ammiano and Sophie Maxwell have joined the activists, as have former
supes Matt Gonzalez, Angela Alioto - even Amos Brown, whose past support
for the gay community here is spotty at best.
There is no mistaking the fact that And Castro for All has the support
of the community. Dozens of organizations have signed on to a boycott.
But until recently, it was difficult to ascertain exactly what the
demonstrators wanted. In the old days of covering gay activism, reporters
would be handed a list of the activists' demands.
Last week, And Castro For All made its desire clear. Its members want
the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to invoke a morals
clause, stripping Natali of his liquor license and effectively forcing
him out of business. And Castro For All said in a press release, "Racial
discrimination to the degree found by the City against Mr. Natali
and SFBadlands is not just a civil wrong, but can and should be found
by the CA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and other regulators
to constitute 'crimes of moral turpitude.'"
And that's why I'm in a Cleveland state of mind. The thought of invoking
a morals clause comes with baggage for any gay person over 30, reminding
us of the time and places from which we came. These clauses have been
used by employers and others to fire and harass gays for decades.
I wonder if Paris Hilton has an opinion about them, or am I being
too political during this, Gay Pride Month? I'll call her people.
Meanwhile, have a happy Gay Pride Day, Sunday, June 26.
Welcome to MisterSF.com. Please visit the site
often to keep in touch with San Francisco, for your own amusement,
and to use the Local Joints
section as a portal for independent businesses. Keep your money in
the neighborhoods... Watch this space for observations,
interviews and more from around town. All other sections of MisterSF.com
are also updated continually, so come back and watch us grow!