1999 Hyde Street.
Here's the password to a city's heart
to Jim Reid, the Bernal Heights building contractor and unsuccessful
mayoral candidate, it was a moment when the credits could start rolling
over the screen.
You may remember Reid as the candidate who wanted to build little houses
for the homeless and got commensurately little support.
There was Reid in a used Saab, sputtering up Van Ness Avenue near Turk
Street only moments after Mayor Gavin Newsom had sworn in Heather Hiles
as a school board member a few doors down at the Tenderloin School.
In the school's library, a crowd of over a hundred - large for such
an occasion - had gathered to witness Hiles' oath of office. Hiles,
also of Bernal Heights, is a respected member of the political community
and a rising star. Interest was also great because Newsom was conducting
his first swearing-in as mayor.
On the street, Jim Reid sputtered along in a straight line, the picture
of perseverance in a scene directed by the imagination.
San Franciscans are familiar with such contrasting images and impulses.
We're accustomed to places where you can get Chinese take-out and donuts
under one roof.
Swensen's Ice Cream, on Hyde Street since 1948, is one of Russian Hill's
oldest neighborhood institutions. Recently I was fooled by a blogger
from the neighborhood who announced, wrongly, that Swensen's now serves
Vietnamese pho along with rocky road.
Last week's opening of a Whole Foods supermarket at the corner of Harrison
and Fourth in SoMA solidifies a southern shift to the city's center
of gravity. (That, in addition to trees, is what makes Yerba Buena Gardens
the real "new Union Square.")
Supervisor Chris Daly now supports the construction of residential towers
in his District 6 neighborhood at Rincon Hill.
For a suggestion as to what the skyline would look like with towers
there, take a look at Irwin Allen's 1974 disaster epic "The Towering
Inferno." Two tall towers, including the one that burns in the film,
appear in the approximate setting via pre-digital special effects.
Grief! Outrage! Reaction to the news that signage for Pacific Bell Park
was being removed in order to rename the downtown stadium SBC Park proves
that San Francisans become unusually attached to things. If you can't
handle a name-change for a four year-old ballpark, how are you going
to deal with pho - even faux pho - at Swensen's?
More food for thought: Ranjey Dey, the award-winning chef and owner
of New Delhi on Ellis Street has taped an Indian cooking series for
PBS titled, "My India." It airs in the fall.
Further cultural swirl: Why was Jewish lesbian comedian Lisa Geduldig
walking briskly up Guerrero Street carrying a lute last Sunday? "I have
to return it to my instructor before I leave for Brazil," says Geduldig.
But of course.
Washington Square Bar & Grill barkeep Mike McCourt confirms that it
was his brother, Mallochy, appearing as a priest on a recent episode
of the soap opera "All my Children." Mallochy McCourt is the raconteur,
author and frequent Merv Griffin guest whose most recent book is "Harold
be thy Name: Lighthearted Daily Reflections for People in Recovery."
On the soap opera, McCourt's Father Clarence teaches a life lesson to
the daughter of Susan Lucci's character, Erica Kane.
Rolling Stone photographer Robert Altman was elated by the first-time
appearance of Warren Hinkle at Lee Houskeeper's dinner group known as
"BNO," at Tommy's Joynt last Monday.
The group, now in its fifth year, was originally - unfortunately says
Bruce Bellingham - called Boy's Night Out. However, women have always
been members of this loose collective of Bay Area cultural, political,
and media legends.
Frequent flyers at BNO include cartoonist Phil Frank, Dr. Hip Gene Schoenfeld,
comedians Bob Sarlatte, Will Durst and Brian Copeland, Paul "The Lobster"
Wells, Herb Gold, Chet Helms, Dr. Celia Rabinovitch, Ed Rosenthal, Wavy
Gravy, Jackie Holzman and Dick Hongisto.
Monday's rousing chow-and-jaw was one of warmth and fellowship. Altman
honored Hinkle as one of the first contemporary publishers to give photographers
bylines equal in size to those of writers.
The Rowan Brothers, Chris and Peter, sang in perfect harmony; Herb Gold,
a literary statesman, reflected on Herb Caen and Willie Brown; Dr. Lawrence
Brilliant simply is.
All ears were on Dick Hongisto, who talked turkey about Democratic presidential
candidate Dennis Kucinich.
In the late 1970s, Hongisto served as police chief under Kucinich, then
mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. The relationship was brief and tumultuous.
At that time, Hongisto had made sweeping reforms to law enforcement
in San Francisco with progressive policies in hiring and management.
He opened doors for African Americans, gays, and women. Hongisto says
Kucinich was only ready to talk the talk.
Since Kucinich invoked the history during a recent debate, Hongisto
has been candid in his disdain for Kucinich. "The only terms I had for
going to Cleveland," Hongisto said, "were; one, that I be given the
proper authority when it comes to making decisions; and two, that I
not be asked to, say for example, promote someone to detective just
because they drove the mayor around during the campaign or something
"On my first day, they argued with me over business cards. A week later
they asked me to make someone detective because he drove the mayor around
during the campaign."
Kucinich fired Hongisto on the nightly news on a Good Friday. The incident
helped galvanize support for a recall election that Kucinich won by
a whisker - 236 votes.
What San Francisco dinner klatch would be complete without just one
Wavy Gravy, the clown activist, regaled his friends with tales of Janis
Joplin. Wavy emceed at Woodstock and says at last it can be revealed.
The password for backstage access was, "I don't remember."
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