Heart of the City Archives
All the News that's Blowin' In the Wind
by Hank Donat

The bay window is San Francisco's magic mirror. Through these lenses, our memories and impressions are seen like fleeting, morphing snapshots of friends and stories forever unfolding in our hearts and in our minds. 

The sunshine that fills us inside with golden light, the sweet scents that tap us on the shoulder as we stroll along tree-lined streets, the smile we fell in love with on the J-Church, the joyful, multilingual clicking and chirping of the world's children - all are details like the bits and chips of broken beads and pebbles, perhaps a jewel, in San Francisco's egg-and-dart, Greek key kaleidoscope. For those that dare to look, to live, what you'll find is your own reward.

Overheard at Café Flore on Market Street, where the unemployed plan Utopia on their Powerbooks, "I was flirting with the most gorgeous Teutonic, German man I'd ever seen. When I asked, 'Shall I pick you up for dinner at eight?' and he said, 'nein,' I thought it was my lucky day."

The clean cut, fresh-faced elders of the Uptown Church of Christ on Fillmore offer the casual observer a positive alternative to "kids today." None of them looks older than 22 or 23 yet they wear badges with names like Elder Glenn. It's something to watch as these elders yield their seats to seniors on the 22-Line. Elders respecting seniors - that'll give you hope.

That was Kimiko Burton, candidate for Public Defender, stumping at St. Philip's Bingo in Noe Valley during the final days of the campaign. Kim sweetened the $100 pot by 20 bucks, but lost the election anyway. Susan Ford, the hostess with the mostest at Tappe's Sutter Street Bar & Grill, observes that the Bingo bonus is a perfectly legal campaign tactic, one that got some press back east recently. A former Mission District resident offers this yuk, Bingo for dyslexics. She calls it Boing.

Dapper decorator Rick Booth, entertaining at Via Vai on Union, offers a Tale of the City. Rick was the inspiration for catty Rick Hampton, the "A-gay" played by designer Bob Mackie in the TV version of Armistead Maupin's enchanting stories. Rick was once asked to host a preprandial cocktail party for an international convention of uniform fetishists at Booth's home on Lombard Street, #1212. Rick was happy to oblige, but when a typo on the invite sent the gentlemen to #1012, an envoy had to be dispatched to point the way. The result - a procession of cops, firemen, Mounties, Civil War generals, pilots, sailors and the like, trudging up and over the Crookedest Street at sunset. The parade lasted the better part of an hour, startling tourists and prompting a kindly British neighbor, a senior though not an elder, to ask the following day, "Pardon me Mr. Booth, please, but did you have a delegation?" 

City Treasurer Susan Leal addressing Plan C, a new nonpartisan advocacy group focused on quality of life issues (housing and homelessness) here, offers the following tips for citizens who wish to effect change within the system: 1. Do your homework, 2. Be respectful, and 3. Be persistent. There you have it, now go fight City Hall. 

Plan C was created last October by a handful of regular San Franciscans, which means they have no political alliances - they just live here and are as tired of paying rent and seeing people pee in public as you are. With about 400 members and growing, Plan C (Plan A and Plan B have failed us, get it?) is primarily made up of gay white males, but its leadership says diversity will happen if you tell two friends who tell two friends, and so on. The group, which already has the attention of Supervisor Gavin Newsom, in addition to Leal and other civic leaders, has a Web site, www.PlanCSF.org.

Bill Walsh has retired. No, not that Bill Walsh! This one retired last week after forty years in the insurance game. Bill was roasted and toasted by a rowdy and loving bunch of folks at Larry Ayres' John Barleycorn on Larkin Street before being sent out into idledom.

Elizabeth Hurley is working on a book about San Francisco's great old saloons. No, not that Elizabeth Hurley! This one's a local, too, working with some chums on a class project. They're focusing on Café Vesuvio, The Gold Dust Lounge, Little Shamrock, and The Old Ship, AKA Bricks. Anyone with a story or detail to offer can email Liz and company at barfly_project@hotmail.com.

Parting glances - some San Franciscans who toil on Fillmore Street, directly across from a guy who works all day in the buff, have forbidden me from revealing the location of the naked man's office. "I'm not sure what kind of work he does," says one peeper, "but he has a big library." 

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Copyright 2002 Hank Donat
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