Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Martin Luther King’s opposition to the Vietnam war has been downplayed by civil rights historians. At the time he was heavily criticized for diluting his civil rights message.

Some people think it was Dr King’s opposition to the Vietnam war that got him killed. This is the thread that links the three assassinations, JFK, MLK, and RFK. All of them threatened to end the flow of federal cash the war generated.

Anyway, time marches on. This corny clip (Yep, they used to show these “newsreels” in movie theater between features. I’m surprised they were still making them in 1967) shows MLK leading a protest against the Vietnam war. Later it shows a simultaneous protest in San Francisco, in which sfwillie, younger and prettier, but way dumber, participated.

The next big march in San Francisco drew 250,000.

----- o -----


I was at the tail end, agewise, of my grade in school, so I didn’t have to register for the draft, when I turned eighteen, until I was a freshman in college.

I pretty much had decided not to register.

The war in Vietnam was a horrible crime. The Selective Service System was part of the armed services and I was required, morally, to resist it.

In hindsight I was correct. But friends, especially a former teacher at St Ignatius, Mr McCurdy, S. J., worked hard to convince me to do otherwise.

McCurdy’s argument was duty to my parents.

If I resisted the draft I’d be convicted of a felony, go to jail, and have my future prospects ruined (I think by “future prospects” he was referring to financial success). This would cause extreme pain to my parents.

So, McCurdy argued, did I have the right to inflict such pain on my folks, based upon a seventeen-year-old’s undeveloped world view? My opinions might be subject to change but the consequences of a federal felony conviction would be permanent.

If it were only my own feelings involved, McCurdy said, the decision would be different.

Another part of McCurdy’s argument was that cooperating with the draft wasn’t as bad as participating in the war itself. Plus, I could apply for conscientious objector status and, if granted, I’d never be asked to join the military anyway.

If I failed to get CO status, and if my student deferment ran out and I actually received an order-to-report, then would be the time when I maybe might have to make a moral decision.

Looking back on it, McCurdy never mentioned, not once, the feelings of the people of Vietnam, or prospects they might have for a successful future. Also, I’d bet money that Mr McCurdy S.J. never applied the same scrutiny to my peers who chose to go over their and do some killing.

Richard McCurdy, S.J. had a kind of beatnik persona. He was a little eccentric and artsy—a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

A few years later I received in the mail a “holy card” announcing now “Father” McCurdy’s ordination. On it he wrote, “Willie, I love you.”

For a moment I thought, Is this sexual?

Of course not. It was simply an expression of the overflowing agape he felt.

Still, it made me feel a little creepy.

I tore it in half and tossed it.

Only recently do I understand that McCurdy was just trying to protect St Ignatius High School’s investment in me. They had provided me an excellent education, and they expected in return that I would become successful and would use the power and influence I might accrue to protect and further the interests of the Jesuits.

Absolutely shameful.

----- o -----


[For those too young to remember, the chorus of Phil Och’s Draft Dodger Rag (written during the Vietnam war) lists some of the excuses used to avoid getting drafted.]

My fairly new dentist, a very nice man in his early eighties, was telling me recently about his experience in World War II, into which he was drafted upon graduating from high school.

As in most such stories there was a lot of movement from place to place, all in the Pacific theater for Dr Wong. Because he tested high, he was assigned to medical corps and not front-line grunt infantry.

He said that a couple times he was close to some action but that he never had to—

and then he only gestured, lifting his arms into a rifle-shooting position, then shook his head sadly.

He never mentioned the possibility of being shot AT. Rather, he was very grateful that he never had to do any shooting himself.

This supports my contrarian view that the biggest burden of soldierhood isn’t the risk of being brutalized (killed or dismembered) in war, but rather the risk of becoming a brutalizer oneself.

Killing another human being, even in a situation of absolute necessity (if there is such a thing), must be a mind-bending experience. But killing other humans unjustly has to be a lot worse.

Thousands of American men who were drafted and obeyed orders and went to Vietnam, are living among us now with the knowledge (or worse, the suspicion) that they killed people unjustly—that they participated in a huge Crime Against Humanity.

I’m not talking about legal or even moral guilt, rather about the affect it must have on sleep and dreams, and neural function, and daily muscular tension, for the rest of a person’s life.

The evil of the draft is that it makes such participation mandatory. And it places this huge moral burden on youngsters whose brains, science tells us, aren’t even fully developed.

The way to get people to join the military is to fight only just, morally defensible, necessary wars. Then, incentives must reflect the true value of the soldiers’ efforts.

A draft is necessary only if you plan to fight unjust wars and treat your soldiers like shit, Mr Rangel.

There were 18 year old boys sent to prison and gang raped, Mr Rangel, for refusing to be drafted to fight in Vietnam. Now, you want to do the same thing in the context of Iraq?

----- o -----

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I guess I have nothing against Michela Alioto-Pier personally, except the name Alioto. Her grandfather had me (and hundreds of others) arrested for, as the California Supreme Court later ruled, exercising my first amendment rights. He teamed up with S.I. Hayakawa on that one.

Mayor Joe Alioto (black people showed their contempt by aspirating the “t”) (wikilink) was a lawyer and democratic hack who’s main claim to fame was that he nominated Hubert Humphrey for president at the disgraceful 1968 Chicago convention.

I saw old Joe at SF’s “Hall of Justice” sometime in the 1990s. I was in a hallway during a break in jury-duty and I thought I saw him entering an elevator. As he turned to face the door he saw me craning my neck with a kind of questioning look on my face.

He was glad to be recognized and nodded acknowledgement to me. I lowered my eyes and shook my head in disapproval and he quickly looked elsewhere.

Michela Alioto, his granddaughter turned up running for office and losing, repeatedly. Then, Gavin Newsom, newly elected SF mayor, did something rash and impetuous that he probably regrets.

I guess he didn’t like his fellow members on the Board of Supervisors, and he wanted to send them a big FUCK YOU.

So he appointed Michela Alioto-Pier (wikilink) to the supervisor’s seat he vacated when he became mayor. Ms Alioto-Pier’s politics are normal, boring, downtown-interest oriented. Bad enough.

Worse, she has a terribly unpleasant personality. You know how on holy cards saints have halos and they radiate lightbeams… Michela manages to radiate darkness. She looks out at us from the bottom of a pool of darkness.

She makes it difficult to watch the proceedings on TV. Some of the supervisors make me sort of want to puke, but when the camera turns to her, my arms raise reflexively in a defensive position.

She comes in somewhere between a doped up Patsy Ramsay and a pissed-off valley girl.

She used her incumbency to be elected “in her own right” in the following election cycle. Just like Gavin Newsom, who’d been appointed by Willie Brown ‘nuff said. Remember Annemarie Conroy?

So here’s a practical, easy charter amendment to keep these unelectables from sneaking through the back door of appointed-incumbency.

“All persons who serve by appointment any portion of an unfilled term on the Board of Supervisors are disqualified from running for that seat, or any supervisor seat until the term subsequent to the unfilled term of the seat to which they were appointed is completed.”

Or something like that. That should get rid of a bunch of losers.

As our sophomore Latin teacher, Mister Shut-up-or-I’ll-teach Foree, used to say, “Simplex, nonne?”

And, Gavin, we support you, but we have to tell you that saying FUCK YOU to the SF Board of Supervisors, while it might make you feel good momentarily, will only cause you grief down the road.

Don’t you have, like, advisors?
----- o -----


It seems pretty clear in this video that poor Karen Carpenter (wikilink) has a problem.

I first heard this song on a brilliant false-spring morning in Lincoln Nebraska. The sun had warmed the little unheated porch behind my kitchen that I’d left closed till then.

I sat and smoked pot and drank coffee and watched the icicles drip, and read George Eliot. I was feeling pretty good, like the song says. I maybe wasn’t on top of the world, but I was pretty high.

I am abject. I’m wriggling in the mudpit of shame, but darn it, I like this song.

But poor Karen! That dress? If that frumpy frock is not a cry for help, what is? And her gestures, what little movement we see is sort of Judy Garlandish, like, geeky!

Short term interests must have trumped long term. I mean, the girl should have been in serious rehab, not out on the road, or in the studio cranking out moneymakers. By the time of this clip she probably had financial resources enough to take a year or more off, but other people probably needed paychecks.

She died young of anorexia.

I didn’t like her. Her brother gives me the creeps. But this is a well-made song with very high production values. I’m a sucker for the steel guitar.

----- o -----

Monday, January 29, 2007


We, especially Pud, are sick and tired of stupid ad-hominem political attacks. For instance, his political enemies along with “jerkoff gossips” as Pud calls them, are tsk-tsking our mayor’s drinking and dating habits.

“There was Matier-talk that Gavin Newsom showed up at SFGH with liquor on his breath,” Pud said. “So fucking what!

“We expect a decent forty hours per week from our mayor, but when the work day ends he can do whatever he wants.

“Look at Winston Churchill. He got shitfaced every night after work, but that didn’t keep him from being a great man. He won a goddamn war for his country! Who cares how much he drank?

“Likewise Gavin Newson, he’s doing, or gonna do, terrific things for our city. Right? If it turns out that drinking is the worst you can say about him, he’ll be remembered as our city’s greatest mayor.

“And dating young girls? Talk about reaction formation! The men who criticize Newsom for dating eighteen-year-olds would, if suddenly possessed of Gavin’s good looks and pocketchange, be banging every recent high school grad in town.

“Eighteen is as legal as forty, Mr Mayor. Go for it!

“You know, criticizing someone for drinking and screwing is about as un-San Franciscan as you can get.

“These so-called journalists should stop their puling gossip and get to work on who killed Lester Garnier—that’s a manly task.”

Pud seemed adamant.

“Pud,” I said gently, “you can’t say ‘manly’.”

“Ok,” he said, “worthwhile, brave, non-insipid.


----- o -----


Green Day: American Idiot

We interpret this song and video as patriotic. You don’t have to wear a goddamn suit, or Heil Hitler, or kick some kid in the head.

I think the youth understand that our current ruling class comes from a long evolutionary process, just like Green Day's music, and that trying to replace them would cost a lot of blood, with no guarantee that the new ruling class would be any better than the one we have now.

What we need to do is find ways to help our existing ruling class be and do good.

Pud has named himself interim president of Support Our Ruling Class (SORC). Actually there are two organizations, SORC-SF, and SORC-U(nlimited). Pud is interim president of both.

For information on forming a SORC chapter in your city, contact Pudinhand Wilson here.

[Pud has cancelled his visit to the Yanomami. He intends to work full time on SORC.]

----- o -----


Pud warned me that our recent Gleegate related posts would give people the wrong impression.

We’ve gotten positive response for our “attacks” on the SF Police, Gavin Newsom, Gordon Getty and the ruling class in general, the Jesuits, Olympic Club and others.

We had no intent to attack anyone, except perhaps to suggest in very strong terms that the perps in the Yale beating case urgently need psychological help, and that maybe the criminal justice system could make sure they got it.

SFWILLIE’S BLOG begrudges none of these groups their power and prerogatives.

But power and prerogatives, like booze, must be used responsibly.

We’re not against the police department, we want a great police department.

We’re not opposed to puppet mayors, we want puppet mayors that do the right thing.

We’re not opposed to the ruling class, we want a ruling class we can be proud of, a ruling class, for instance, that doesn’t put this kind of crap in Golden Gate Park.

Even the Jesuits. While we oppose religion in general, we know that there are many well meaning priests, and brothers, and misters wearing the Jesuit black.

And especially we feel for police officers. As in any organization, almost all rank and file police officers want to do a job they can be proud of. Their greatest constraint is the laziness and crapola politics of the brass.

So SFWILLIE’S BLOG’s message to our local ruling class is, we love you, we’re behind you, we want you to be the best ruling class of any city on earth.

We want this time to be remembered as a great period in the history of San Francisco, not as a time when a bunch of irresponsible rich people fucked things up.

----- o -----

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Phil Ochs (wikilink) had an odd voice. And the weird intervals in some of his songs accentuated the oddness.

Phil was an important protest-song writer and participant in the anti-Vietnam War movement. His protest songs were topical, so they don’t wear very well.

Some of his famous songs, Draft Dodger Rag, I Ain’t a-Marching Anymore, are better evaluated in terms of lives saved by shortening the war, than by purely musical or poetic qualities.

He did write at least one standard, which is sufficient in my book for greatness. Most of us have heard There But For Fortune, here’s a YouTube link of Phil, if you want to hear it again.

The above clip is another of Phil Ochs' non-topical bids for standardhood. I don’t think it’s going to make it, but it’s a nice song, if not well-made. Gordon Lightfoot is singing it here. His name was very well known to me in the day, but I guess I never appreciated his voice, which in this clip sounds just great! (Except for one horribly missed note.)

Phil Ochs joined the many folksong writers who shivered in the shadow of the great Bob Dylan.

----- o -----

IT'S TRUE: What They Say About Liberals

Once I was young and impulsive
I wore every conceivable pin
Even went to the socialist meetings
Learned all the old union hymns
But I've grown older and wiser
And that's why I'm turning you in
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal
Phil Ochs
I had a supervisor at UCSF who couldn’t be more liberal. She looked at Common Dreams daily to find fresh arguments to match the urgency she felt inside. Most of what she said about politics I agreed with, but it was a little too party-line to be interesting.

Martina arrived in the United States from western Asia along with her family, when she was twelve, and started learning English then. Hers was a modest immigrant family success story. By the time I arrived on the scene, both of Martine’s parents were dead and she owned, outright, two homes in the burbs south of SF.

Martina lived in one of the houses and rented the other one out.

It came to pass that the rental house became vacant and we’d hear horror stories from Martina about exorbitant repair expenses and unreliable workmen. And, then, we’d overhear her talking with the agent who was looking for tenants and handling the lease.

One day Martina got a call from the agent that upset her. The agent had found a tenant, but Martina was adamant that no lease be consummated without her approval.

Turns out the prospective tenants were Filipino, and Martina would simply not rent to them, and she told the agent why, with her five subordinates, three of whom were themselves Filipino, listening the whole time.

Martina explained to the agent that Filipinos live in large groups, that the nice couple that looked at the house were only the tip of the iceberg. There would be, Martina predicted, eight to ten people living in the house and it couldn’t stand the wear and tear.

End of conversation. No Filipinos.

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted. Not just the prejudice, but the overtness. Ain’t America great! It’s a place where immigrants from any culture can discriminate against other immigrants from a multitude of cultures—sort of a melting pot of ill will.

One of Martina’s Filipino subordinates, a long-term temp, was a nice older guy (my age) who was overqualified for our work but was hindered by halting English, you could tell he was translating back and forth with Tagalog, in his head.

We all liked Joey. It was understood that when a permanent position opened in our group that he would be hired.

One morning Joey came in not feeling so good. When he sat at his desk he couldn’t get going. He had no energy and he felt something weird in his chest.

There was lots of hemming and hawing about ambulances etc, so finally I got my car and drove Joey to Kaiser hospital, where he had limited coverage through this temp status.

Later that day Joey had a triple bypass. He’d been having a heart attack.

So, at least among the Filipinos in the office, I was said to have “saved Joey’s life.”

In the hospital they fixed Joey’s heart but they diagnosed some other serious conditions that needed attention. And his limited coverage would leave Joey owing tens of thousands out-of-pocket.

This presented Martina with a chance to do something good for Joey. There was a permanent-position opening in a section next to ours that did similar work. Joey was qualified and the supervisor of that section would be happy to have him.

So Martina went to bat and got Joey hired for the permanent position, almost overnight—a process that usually takes weeks.

With his new permanent status, Joey’s health coverage was upgraded to “full” and all those looming medical bills went away, at least from Joey’s perspective. Someone (all of us) was still paying the costs.

My guess is that Martine probably thought she had done a good deed, a moral good, buy relieving Joey of his crushing medical bills, of course, WITH OUR MONEY.

So it’s true what they say about liberals: They’re generous, with other people’s money.

----- o -----

Saturday, January 27, 2007


This song (the first of two in the above video) was so ubiquitous in my childhood that I just assume that everyone has seen the movie. When an old friend who hadn't, finally saw it, on my recommendation, he spent the next month raving about how great it was.

If you haven’t seen this movie, rush out and rent it now. This link takes you to a YouTube clip of Ms Caron singing the song with Carrottop.

If you don’t fall in love with Leslie Caron you’re hardly human. If your eyes stay dry, give up, you’re already dead. If CarrotTop doesn’t melt your heart, you don’t have one.

It’s the best movie for kids that was ever made for grown-ups.

It’s the best movie for grown ups that was ever made for kids.

Plus, it has Zsa Zsa Gabor.

I had a friend with a fairly low level job at a major Hollywood PR agency. One day he was all freaked out—he’d been told he’d have to accompany Zsa Zsa to some appearance on the East Coast. He didn’t have to do anything, just be with her, and call the office if any crises arose.

He was worried that his sense of dignity might outweigh his sense of irony, and his employment might not survive the trip. This was roughly the same time frame in which Zsa Zsa got busted for slapping a traffic officer.

I think she never did fully understand the gravity of her offense.

----- o -----


It looks like the people responsible for raising and educating the perps in San Francisco’s shameful Gleegate attack are resorting to the world’s most pathetic defense: everybody does it.

A defense attorney hired by alleged perp parents refers to a “mutual brawl,” as if mutual brawling is SOP. Like, oh yeah, it was one of them mutual brawls.

Yesterday’s Chronicle article quoted a spokesperson for St Ignatius High School, Paul Totah, as saying, “Teenage boys all across America get into fights. That’s natural, though unfortunate.”

Isn’t it strange that the Jesuit fathers of St Ignatius would have a lay person, an English teacher, fronting for them on an important issue of public morality. Also, since the alleged perps are not from St Ignatius, it’s interesting that SI would come to their defense.

The Jesuits publish their own guide to English usage (the Brown Beast) which contains a section titled COMMON FALLACIES AND THEIR REFUTATIONS.

Mr Totah’s statement (besides being incredibly sexist) is an argument from common practice, a variant of the “Argument from Common Knowledge.” As the Brown Beast says, this argument is the easiest to refute—one simply states one’s own disagreement.

So, when someone says, “Everyone loved Ronald Reagan,” I can prove that assertion to be false simply by stating my own opinion, that the man was a scumbag.

And, when Mr Paul Totah tells us that all teenage boys do a little curb-stomping, I can personally refute that one. Sfwillie is no saint, sfwillie has much that he’s ashamed of, but sfwillie has never kicked anyone in the head when they were lying on the pavement.

If you exclude pre-pubertal stuff, I would aver that less than 3% of adult American males have ever been in a serious fistfight.

There are and always have been a certain small percentage of teenage boys who find physical intimidation useful, or who actually enjoy fighting.

OJ Simpson tells stories about his street fighting when growing up in San Francisco as a form of amusement. Interestingly, St Ignatius had a basketball star at the same time, who also had a reputation for brutal street fighting.

We’d be at a teen club dance on a Friday night and kids would come in all excited with accounts of how this basketball star nearly killed a guy, stomping his head on a curb. Poor kid, he was socially awkward, and the best he ever did was warm a couple of NBA benches.

So I refute Mr Totah’s assertion. Very few teenage boys get into fights. We’re talking about bullies, not normal teenagers.

I wonder what an actual Jesuit priest would have to say about this.

Pud thinks the administrators of Sacred Heart and SI should come off the defensive and put a positive spin on the situation. Something like, “Catholic Education: Keeping our city safe from visiting choirboys.”

Saint Francis looks a little sad.

----- o -----

Friday, January 26, 2007


Eventually we may have to call on President Bush and Alberto Gonzales to take care of Gleegate.

The San Francisco Chronicle this morning published a summary to date of the attack by local toughs on visiting Yale glee-clubbers and the subsequent police cover up. New details are even more damning of the SFPD, Gavin Newsom, and Heather Fong.

[For basic background see Violent Mutant Geeks.]

When local law enforcement refuses to prosecute it’s own, the Federal Department of Justice can enter the case. We associate such action with backward Southern towns that refuse to part with their heritage of race-hatred. What a shame our fair city should join such a group!

If D.A. Kamala Harris fails to bring charges against the local perps, we could see some amusing table-turning. Why not?

By launching an FBI investigation into the SFPD and DA’s Office, President Bush could:

-defend his Yale brethren, like, what kind of president wouldn’t back up his homies?,
-stick it to Nancy Pelosi,
-harass Gavin Newsom’s national political ambitions,
-show San Francisco, and liberals in general, to be secretly as gay-hating as the rest of America.

Ok, it’s a shitty kind of rear-guard action, but what else does Bush have to do for two years? He already spends as much time as possible in the gym.
----- o -----


The first time I paid attention to this melody was at the City Hall ceremony for slain liberal mayor George Moscone. The players were from the SF Symphony, and I think they were at a loss what to play. The murders were just a few days earlier and there was still a sense of shock.

The melody is too romantic and swingy to be religious in any ascetic sense. It almost treats the Virgin Mary as kind of a babe. But I’m not going down that road.

Per our previous discussion of boy sopranos, I can’t imagine why anyone would prefer a boy soprano, for this song, over Renee Fleming.

----- o -----


It was already a strange situation when the phone rang, I was home alone and I wasn’t masturbating—I don’t know what the problem was.

I was thirteen, in the eighth grade, and was waiting, like most parochial eighth graders, to hear if I’d been accepted into a Catholic High School.

There were three Catholic high schools for boys in San Francisco. Admission, presumably restricted to Catholics, was based on the results of academic tests. A boy could apply to only one of the schools so the test was presumably make-or-break.

There was a period of a couple months between the testing day and the mailing of acceptance/rejection letters, all very dramatic.

My brother was already at Saint Ignatius, midway through his sophomore year. I had close to zero doubt that I, too, would be accepted. I was the smartest, measured by various test results, boy in my class, in my grade. If somehow the great Willie didn’t get into SI, no one from my school would, and that was just an impossibility.

The phone call was from Mr Zampisi, S.J.[name slightly changed] I’d heard of him. He was a Jesuit “scholastic,” doing his three year teaching stint as part of the long preparation to become a Jesuit priest. These “Misters” dressed like priests, and lived with the priests, but weren’t yet priests. A wag friend called them “Jesuettes.”

I knew the name Zampisi because my brother was in the SI band, and Mr Zampisi was the faculty coordinator for the band.

After intros etc, (I remember his voice was very high pitched) here’s what he had to say: “I see you have some interest in music [from my application], and I need some horn players. If you’d agree to play horn in the band, I could make sure that you get admitted. And you could get started on the horn over the summer.”

With this coming so out of the blue, I’m surprised how quickly I replied, which was to tell him I didn’t want to be in the band and that I’d take my chances with my test results. Looking back, this was pretty spunky.

Of course I was admitted. Mr Zampisi, S.J. certainly already knew I would be admitted. He wanted me to be beholden to him, and what I was getting in return was his non-existent influence to get me admitted, plus the burden of having participated in a backroom sort of deal.

This was basically a little swindle that Zampisi tried to pull off. On a kid.

Welcome to Saint Ignatius High School.

----- o -----

Thursday, January 25, 2007


According to Wiki, San Francisco’s Olympic Club is the oldest athletic club in the United States. Probably it’s most famous member was “Gentleman” Jim Corbett (wikilink), world heavyweight boxing champ in the 1890s.

Golfers will know the Olympic Club as a world class golf course. The US Open is played there every twelve or thirteen years. It must be awesome for a member to see Tiger Woods playing on “my course!”

It’s membership comes from old San Francisco families and those they sponsor, except of course, Jews, Blacks, and women. I’m sure there’s some blah blah blah about greater inclusiveness, but my guess is it’s just blah blah.

An SF State professor who I played some tennis with, told of being invited by an O’Club member to join as a tennis member (much cheaper than a full member), but was asked, “You aren’t Jewish, are you?”

It seems that half the kids I went to high school with are Olympic Club members. I graduated from St Ignatius thinking that Christianity and anti-Semitism were incompatible. This just demonstrates my cluelessness. It’s like, excluding people is what clubs are all about, right? What fucking planet am I from?

St Ignatius puts on fundraisers at the Olympic Club.

O’Club members tend to be comfortable about pretty much everything. It’s easier to be comfortable with no women, Jews, or black people around. It’s tennis venue is the best I’ve ever played.

One evening my tennis team was visiting the O’Club for a team match. Waiting for courts, I overheard some discussion among three O’Club members about a recent news item.

A few months earlier, a large tree on Olympic Club property toppled across a San Francisco public street. Crews from SF Rec and Park, and Dept of Public Works, had to cut it up and haul it away.

End of story, almost. Louise Renne, San Francisco’s City Attorney, decided to press Olympic Club to reimburse the City for the expense of removing its tree. For some reason, the O’Club was refusing to pay, and it finally hit the papers with bad PR for the O’Club.

So these O’Club members were talking, all good old boy and sexist and all, about what a wimp Louise Renne’s husband was. Louise Renne’s husband was an Olympic Club member.

Basically, these guys were saying about the husband, “What’s the matter with this guy that he can’t even control his wife!” You could tell that the poor guy had been receiving lot’s of grief from his fellow members.

Of course, it didn’t help that Louise Renne had previously sued Olympic Club for excluding women and minorities. Olympic Club was able to delay that effort to death.

As this article shows, the exclusion of black people can be waived for bribable government officials.

----- o -----


There are so many things that young men can do besides fighting wars and each other.

Skateboarding is a great cheap sport (if you don’t count the public cost of damaged concrete and railings). After the initial investment in a board, you can waste infinite time, with little or no expense.

And if you abjure protective gear, you can waste a lot of time recuperating, maybe get in some reading.

SFWILLIE’S BLOG salutes skateboarders everywhere.

----- o -----

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


A week after Katrina, Bush gave a major address from Jackson square, with all sorts of dramatic outdoor lighting. The speech was extraordinary for its promises.

According to his speech, the aftermath of the recent hurricane had revealed to Bush for the first time the existence of dire poverty in the United States, and by golly, he was going to marshal our nation’s resources to do something about it.

No one, including the right wing pundits took it seriously, but for a few moments, Bush sounded like an egalitarian Democratic Socialist.

Then he looked at the inscription on his ring, This Too Shall Pass.

A lot of care went into the lighting that night in Jackson Square. Likewise, lot of care must have gone into the styling of the Humvee.

I used to be critical of civilians who went out and bought Hummers when they became available after Desert Storm. I can understand the car’s appeal. But the appeal is to hostility and physical domination. And it’s army-pretend.

So I’m wondering how much attention military suppliers pay to styling.

Is the appearance of the Humvee simply form following function? It certainly suggests functionality. I wonder if there were ever design conflicts between actual functionality and the appearance of functionality.

They sure look kick-ass. But reportedly, little ieds can blow the crap out of Humvees.

Bush discovered this for the first time, after he sent them to Iraq for our troops to use.

When they amend the constitution so that Arnold Swartzenegger can run for president, Arnie can do a photo op, with his yellow Hummer on a balmy night in Jackson Square. Bush’s guys could nail the lighting for him.

----- o -----


Our entire crew got together to watch the State of the Union address.

After the introduction, Bush did this shtick about Pelosi being the first woman House Speaker. There was a whole bunch of admiration bouncing around the chamber, for Nancy, for the nation, and for the legislators.

Isn’t this a great country! We actually have a woman third in line of succession for the presidency. And it’s only 2007!

Then, just as Bush was about to begin the actual speech, Janey, our jumpiest fact-checker, said what the rest of us were thinking, “I can’t watch this.”

We retired to the kitchen dinette and wolfed comfort food. The way my staff eats at our occasional gatherings troubles me. It’s like when they come here is the only time they get a full meal.

Someone turned on the kitchen TV during the post-speech analysis. The pundits were going on about the historic moment regarding Nancy Pelosi.

To congratulate themselves that we finally have a woman speaker shows how really lame our country is socially.

It’s like the South African regime congratulating itself for letting Nelson Mandela out of prison. Or like a southern governor congratulating his state for completing a full year without a single lynching. Or like the Pope proudly announcing that child-rapes by priests are down 10%.

George Bush is a war criminal. He is still murdering people in this criminal war. And there was Nancy Pelosi, standing up and applauding the fucker. Ain’t it great she’s a woman!

If Bush’s intent was to change the minds of the folks at SFWILLIE’S BLOG, his State of the Union Address was a total failure. We couldn’t bring ourselves to listen!

----- o -----

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


It’s not too unusual in this town to see a man or woman holding a leash that’s attached to a dog collar worn by another man or woman. Whether at Folsom Street Fair or Saturday shopping at Cala, it’s just not that big a deal.

[Below, the person second from the left is wearing a collar and leash. The guy next to her, on the far left, is wearing a St Christopher medal.]

And, it’s sort of cliché to say that some powerful entity “owns” a politician, in the same way that a master owns a dog.

It would, however, be highly unusual to see such an entity, say Gordon Getty, leading a paid-for politician, say Gavin Newsom, down the street with the leash/dog collar arrangement. That would make it all too obvious.

But that’s what’s happening with the PlumpJack brand. It’s a symbolic leash.

“Plump Jack,” a nickname of Shakespeare’s Falstaff, is the name of Gordon Getty’s opera in progress. “PlumpJack” is the name of many of the businesses Gordon Getty bought for Gavin Newsom.

The connection implied by the PlumpJack brand is the same connection implied by the dog collar leash thing. It’ sort of embarrassing.

Pud is impressed that “rosebud” the obsession-word of another great San Franciscan, WR Hearst, is “totally yonic.”

And Getty’s obsession-term PlumpJack is “totally phallic.” Pud thinks “that’s nice.”

Here’s a website where you can purchase collars and leashes designed for humans. The market for real dog collars and leashes is so huge, I wonder why those so inclined would buy from a leather-fetish shop.

If I were a dog-boy I’d want a collar from Van Cleef (hint), not some cheapass leather thing from Joe’s Beatoff Emporium.

“Branding,” is a buzz word.

I knew a guy who got branded, a punk musician Haight Street store clerk, green hair, nose ring, etc. He went the extra step and got a brand burned onto his right calf.

The experience humbled him. The pain continued for weeks. He said he’d never do it again.

----- o -----


Pud and I both hate this Yale Choir beating story. The actual crime, basically white-youth-wilding, is embarrassing for the city. But the cover up, so extensive for such a low level crime, hints at secrets far deeper and darker than a prominent parent’s inability to control her kids.

How does it relate to Fajitagate? How does it relate to the unsolved murder of SFPD vice-officer Lester Garnier? How does it relate to the weird political rub-out of Roger Boas?

If you’re a true crime fan at all, this story about the cover up in the murder of Lester Garnier will make you’re skin crawl.

Some of the Yale beating commentary involved the nativeness versus non-nativeness of residents and visitors. This reopened the dispute between Pud and me about which of us was more native.

I have documentary evidence. Pud has a story.

I have census documents showing that my grandfather was born in San Francisco in 1865. There are UC records showing he finished Medical School in 1894, and phone books showing he was practicing medicine and living at Haight and Masonic in 1901, the year my dad was born.

Pud has bullshit.

According to Pud, his great-grandfather worked for John Sutter in 1847 but was banished to San Francisco when he screwed the pooch.

“My great-grandfather, Clarence Wilson, was a beastialist,” Pud said, hanging his head for effect.

“There’s no other way to say it, he was a dog-lover. I guess he wasn’t too discrete about it, so he had to keep moving along. Finally, he came to California.

“You know how these days some people come to California for the 'California Girls'?

“So great grandpa found himself near Sacramento, milling at Sutter’s and raising dogs on the side. Until one day great granddaddy Clarence got caught having sex with John Sutter’s favorite Lab.

“Of the choices presented him, old Clarence chose the highway and came to San Francisco where he pursued a number of occupations.

“Then when the 49ers started arriving, Clarence put his dog husbandry (so to speak) skills to work, and overnight he was proprietor of the biggest meat packing plant west of Chicago. Prime beef, fresh and cured.”

“And the prime beef wasn’t really prime?” I asked.

“The prime beef wasn’t really beef,” Pud laughed.

“So the entire gold rush was fueled by dog meat?”

“Good part of it,” Pud said.

“When old Clarence was shot by what we’ll call a ‘dissatisfied diner’ his presumably large fortune was nowhere to be found. The lawsuits against Clarence’s estate would have reduced it to zero.

“There are still people in San Francisco who are pissed off at the Wilsons. Some people think we still have old Clarence’s fortune stashed away somewhere.”

“But look at me,” Pud gestured, “I live like a pig.”

“You ARE a pig,” I said, “but you’ve never worked a day in your life.”

“So the mystery lives on,” Pud said.

“So my family’s been here longer than your family,” he said, almost nyah-nyahing. “Clarence was already here when you’re great grandfather arrived. Your great grandfather probably loved Wilson’s Famous Beef Tamales.”

Pud cites the truthfulness of his father and grandfather as proof that the dog story is true. I don’t want to be in the position of calling either of them a liar.

----- o -----

Everly Brothers: BIRD DOG

Pud said that in addition to beef (dog meat), his great-grandfather Clarence also sold plenty of chicken (seagull meat). So, in a way, he had a kind of bird-dog thing going on.

----- o -----

Monday, January 22, 2007


It must have been the St Rose senior prom, late 1965 or early 1966. It’s kind of a blur. There were two SI (Saint Ignatius) guys, me included, and one guy from Riordan. It was a triple date, and the Riordan guy was driving. Of course, all three girls were from St Rose.

St Rose Academy wasn’t the snootiest Catholic girls high school in San Francisco, it was the second snootiest. At least one of the girls was from a family with significant connections in local politics.

I don’t know where we had done our drinking, but we got pulled over on the way to the prom hotel. I was a little too drunk to be nervous, and I managed to keep my mouth shut. It just sort of happened.

As I recall, the officer got our story about who we were and about going to the prom, and that, yeah we’d been drinking and stuff.

Then, after determining that the driver was too drunk to continue, the officer asked if any of the rest of us were ok to drive. One of the girls, who I guess hadn’t drank that much, said she could do it.

The officer looked her over, she slid behind the wheel, and we were off.

Luckily for us, and for the officer, we didn’t get into a crash or run somebody down.

I don’t know if that would be considered special treatment, or not. Being from SI and St Rose definitely didn’t hurt.

Given the sea change in attitudes and info on homosexuality, if I were that age today I probably wouldn’t get involved in such dopey heterosexual activities. I think they have dopey homosexual activities for kids these days.

But I guess it was ok to go out with girls and kiss them and stuff. I mean, it’s not like a sin or anything.

----- o -----


“Freckle-faced,” tells you something about a person but not everything.

There are good freckles and not so good. Good freckles will pluck your heartstrings like Yepes playing Tarrega. Not-so-good freckles, the big, lonely kind, are, well, something you grow out of.

I might view things differently, except I inherited the good kind of freckles. I have so many little freckles that the freckles have freckles.

I knew I was different, but my mom was very supportive. She always thought her looks, including her freckles, were her own best attribute. The lyrics she made up for the songs she sang us as little kids had frequent mentions of “pretty Willie.”

So when I got to school and kids tried to tease me about my freckles, they found I wasn’t vulnerable there.

I remember one instance in the second grade with another boy:

Boy: But what about all those freckles?
Me : What about them?
Boy: They’re so ugly.
Me: They’re not ugly. My mom says every freckle is a kiss from the sun.
Boy: (pause) Michael Ticup has big ears.

Poor Michael Ticup was teased unmercifully about his big ears (which really weren’t very big) because, I guess, when he got probed, he displayed some vulnerability and the mean kids pounced.

In addition to my beautiful freckled Irish skin, I also inherited my dad’s alcoholic gene.

There are many components to alcoholism blah blah blah. Among them, I believe, is a gene that causes the equivalent of an allergic reaction to alcohol.

Carriers of this gene react to alcohol with an intense craving for more. This gene doesn’t necessarily make the carrier want the first drink, but after the first drink forget the rest of the day and evening.

My dad was a carrier and he passed it on to me. It’s not all dramatic and psychological and spiritual. it’s like some people are allergic to peanuts: the only “meaning” is that they have to avoid peanuts.

So the only “meaning” of the alcoholic gene is that the carrier has to avoid alcohol.

My dad had only one DUI in the United States. The other was in New Zealand and it became one of his favorite stories.

The US DUI happened in San Francisco around the time I was born. I can’t remember the details of the account but it was pretty egregious.

A few days later my dad visited Bill O’Brien, his boyhood pal and my godfather, who was then still practicing law, to get the DUI citation “fixed.”

Bill O’Brien had plenty of clout to fix a traffic ticket, but he must have been annoyed at having to do it for my dad, because he gave my dad a tongue lashing.

My mom describes this a turning point in my dad’s life.

When he got home and told my mom how humiliated he felt, having a boyhood peer talking down to him like that, she said something in reply that she thinks made a difference.

“You’re too good a person,” she told my dad, “to ever put yourself in a position like that again.”

Anyway, I was mentioning this to an acquaintance who is experiencing the legal consequences of her own DUI. “Why didn’t you just get your DUI fixed?” I asked her.

“Yeah, right.”

I actually met a guy for whom my freckles were the best part of me. Just the sight of them made him tingle.

Another time, in a group situation, a very cute young guy described the freckles on my back as “fawn-like.” Cute, intelligent, AND discerning.

Some might think it’s tough to get by without alcohol.

I wonder how people get by without freckles.

----- o -----


[Note: The wonderful kids in this video have no association with San Francisco, nor with any New Year's Eve ugliness. I salute them for their presentation and for the excellent example they provide. As always, you can click through to YouTube for more information. BTW: I love this song, it's one of my guiltiest pleasures.]

Tourists to our sophisticated city need an additional guidebook:

Who’s Gonna Kick Your Ass, and Why

----- o -----

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Pud saw the term in a previous post and demanded that I repeat this preposterosity.

A little resort grew up around a spring in the Alsace, called Bad Julienne, which the regulars referred to as “Bad Juju.”

It was shut down after an incident involving what Pud calls, “devil’s-spawn.” All historical records have been removed. Pud says he’s “applied for permission” to tell me more, but I shouldn’t hold my breath.

Pud is all jazzed that the European term bad juju has come to mean more or less the same thing as the bad juju of African origin.

“There are entities loose,” Pud says, “with footprints the size of continents.”

----- o -----


I was twenty-one and seeing a shrink for heart repair. Bussing home along Union Street after a rare early morning session, my feelings were pretty close to the surface.

It was grey and cold, and the streets, with their shee-shee shops and straight yuppie pickup bars, had not yet been swept. There was plenty of trash still in the gutters from the previous night’s ruttings.

When the bus stopped at a light, I saw a little sign in the window of one of the pick-up bars, probably a neighborhood merchant promo thing:

If you left your heart in San Francisco,
You’ll probably find it on Union Street.

Here the camera direction was: TILT DOWN TO SEE TRASH AND FILTH IN THE GUTTER.

I remember that when I hear the Tony Bennett song.

I couldn’t find a clip of the Jeanette MacDonald song from the movie San Francisco, but, what a great city-anthem!

There were two Summer-of-Love songs, one stupid, the other deplorable.

“If you come to San Francisco, wear some flowers in your hair” is the stupid song. [If you have a felt need and a strong stomach you can listen here.]

First of all, in San Francisco, you don’t have to wear flowers or anything else in your hair. Wear whatever the hell you like.

This song is part of the hippie-as-fashion co-option. Hippie was sex, drugs, rock and roll. Notwithstanding the title of that ripoff musical, hippie was never about hair.


“Were you ever a hippie?”
“No, but I saw Hair three times.”

Hippie was about turn on tune in drop out, not “How to Dress in San Francisco.”

And, regarding the song’s assertion, “You’re going to meet some gentle people there…,” well, sure, some, but, hey, talk to the Yale singers who recently got their asses kicked here.

Pud says I’m ranting, which task is supposed to be his.

The despicable one was the song about “Warm San Francisco Nights.” The singer, I guess he was British, didn’t even pronounce the city’s name correctly. The last syllable of San Francisco rhymes with snow. This guy turns the O into a schwa.

It’s despicable false advertising with possible health ramifications. [Total masochists can listen here.]

There’s almost no such thing as “warm San Francisco nights.” There aren’t that many warm San Francisco DAYS.

Hint: virtually no private homes in San Francisco, including the swankiest, have air conditioning. It’s not necessary. We don’t have screens on our windows, because it’s never warm enough to generate significant bug activity.

So these misguided kids arrived in shirtsleeves for a summer of unrelenting overcast and damp winds, with no particular place to stay. That song should have had a disclaimer.

One of my dad’s favorite stories:

There was little private street in the financial district (the old warehouse district) called Hotaling Place. (The middle syllable of Hotaling gets the accent and it’s pronounced like the Al in Albert.)

Hotaling was a major liquor distributor in 1906, and apparently came through the earthquake and fire unscathed, inspiring this little jingle, (which I knew by heart at an early age):

If, as some say, God spanked the town
For being over-frisky.
Then why did He burn the churches down,
And save Hotaling’s whiskey?

Just the nickname, Frisco, which by tradition is verboten within city limits, sounds like a place worth visiting.

----- o -----

Saturday, January 20, 2007


This is Julian Bream playing a little Tarrega Etude.

Based solely on a comparison with a previously posted link, I’d say that Yepes is the more accomplished Tarrega-ist.

Narciso is playing a ten-string (wikilink) guitar.

Julian’s tremolo doesn’t seem as strong.

----- o -----


Examining why I’m so pissed off about the Yale choir beating cover up, I had to consider my family’s status vis-à-vis this city’s elite.

My dad had been destined for a role in San Francisco’s native Catholic elite. His father, Joseph Sr, fucked things up and my dad wasn’t able to claim his birthright.

My dad saw his sons (me and my brother) as a way to reclaim his family’s status. My family returned to San Francisco from a truly happy time in Los Angeles, so that my brother and I could attend St Ignatius High School.

This is all in retrospect, but, what a tawdry goal, aiming to be part of a goodoldboy native elite in a provincial, if pretty, town! I’m so glad, for my sake, that the effort failed!

Our current mayor, Gavin Newsom, is in a position to greatly quiet the Yale beating uproar, but appears to be supporting the attackers and the cover-up-ers instead.

Gavin Newsom’s dad, Bill, was a high school (St Ignatius) friend of Gordon Getty, and pretty much worked for Mr Getty all his life. Gordon Getty was considered for a time to be the richest man in America. He’s currently around #150.

It seems that now Gavin, our mayor, works for Gordon Getty. No problemo. [These are all native San Franciscans.]

For the most part we expect if not exactly applaud that special privileges are accorded the rich and powerful. I believe that I’ve been a significant beneficiary of those privileges.

The idea that native born people have privileges not enjoyed by newcomers or by visitors, is also not particularly shocking or upsetting.

But there’s no way those privileges include beating people up, with impunity.

I can’t imagine that Gordon Getty likes this situation. San Francisco is, sortalike, HIS city. So why can’t they arrest a couple of kids and slap them on the wrist?

And the tourist industry and CofC can’t like it much either.

There’s got to be some bad juju somewhere back there, if even Gordon Getty is powerless. Somebody’s got somebody by the balls.
----- o -----


This song was released the month I graduated from high school.

It was about halfway through senior year that I stopped going to mass on Sundays. I still had to leave the house, but I’d just drive somewhere and park the car and smoke cigarettes.

I had started going to a rare late Sunday mass at St Edwards on California. It was new, built cheap, just a box. And the Laurel Heights location somehow made it seem Protestant, or even secular.

After one of these late services concluded it hardly felt like I’d been to church at all. So one Sunday, I just sat outside in the car. It didn’t feel any different than if I’d gone in. So I did the math.

In my twelve years of Catholic education the priests and nuns had the best chance imaginable to snag me for the faith, and failed.

We heard and were forced to read crappy stories about dramatic crises of faith. I never really had one. As soon as I had a choice, I just stopped going. I never really thought much about it.

All eighth graders in SF Archdiocese parochial schools had to take a standardized religion test, to gauge the effectiveness of the religious education, which for those students moving on to a public high school, would be coming to end.

At our school, the Fathers Club had awards one for the boy and one for the girl with the highest scores. There were approximately 75 boys and 75 girls.

Called the "Religion Award" these were the only awards given out at our graduation ceremony.

Of course yours truly won. So somewhere in the basement is a hand tooled Moroccan calfskin bound, gilt edged, five-tassel Maryknoll Missal.

----- o -----

Friday, January 19, 2007


Space must be getting crowded. Here’s another cadet. Move over Benny.

According to comments on YouTube, Chris Lee won an American Idol-type contest in China called “Super Girl.”

So we’re thinking Chris Lee is a girl. But hey!

----- o -----


While our Cold War Military Industrial Complex was churning out ICBMs (inter-continental ballistic missiles), Benny Bufano was churning IGBA (inter-galactic ballistic art).

I remember seeing missiles at Fort Funston, and in the Marin headlands during the 1960s, just little Nike thingamajigs.

And I remember seeing Bufano’s missiles, also. Talk about redemption! Peace, pictured below, stood at the auto-entrance to SFO for decades. See more here.

Sure you can sip tea and hold your pinky in the air and talk about totem poles and obilisks and all that bs, but for me these Bufano’s will always be missiles, missiles of joy, missiles of peace, missiles of how the heck crazy can you get.

It’s not enough just to denounce the unholy icons of the devil-regime, one must provide alternatives. Benny answered the call and provided missiles for the rest of us.

Just as boy scouts are expected to “be prepared”, Benny Bufano was always “ready for blast off.”
----- o -----


Benny Bufano was a space cadet before that was an official classification.

There’s a certain amount of space travel that can be done without the necessity of locomotion, one simply has to relax and close one’s eyes. We sense that Benny completed all those itineraries at an early age.

Benny was on the radar—the same radar that tracks Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve.

Time Magazine was tracking him in 1940. This Time article is illustrative, and amusing.

----- o -----

Thursday, January 18, 2007


My mostly Irish heritage included a meat and potatoes diet. My mom’s French blood meant we got lots of baked desserts. I had no complaints.

But for fresh fruits, I had to go out and pick my own, sort of.

The first tangerine I ate was picked from a branch adjacent to a tree fort in Joe Piantadosi’s yard. The Piantadosis were musical. The name used to turn up in movie credits. This was when my family lived in North Hollywood.

I probably ate two or three of the tangerines before decided I really didn’t like the taste. I still don’t.

Next door to our apartment on Whipple was a home on a half-acre lot, with more than one tree fort. In addition to some good climbing trees, they had two or three fruit trees. My first plum came off one of those branches. Plums are good.

Pud’s all excited about what he’s calling “extended” or “complete” minerality.

“Just because I’m mineral doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a boulder. If I’m mineral, then, say, a plum is mineral. So, I think I’m a fruit. In fact, I’m a plum.”

“The juiciest,” I assured him.

Back to my point about tree forts: my tree-climbing activity has definitely gone way down since childhood.
----- o -----


One supposed benchmark of success for a minority rights movement is to see members of the minority ascend to positions of power hitherto closed to them.

For instance, having a black president would signal that black people had “come a long way.”

The power structure can turn this impulse into a cruel burlesque, giving us Clarence Thomas (black), Alberto Gonzales (brown), Elaine Chao (yellow), and Ken Mehlmen (nerd--gays have disowned him).

The current police crisis in San Francisco (cop friends beat Yale choirboys) shows a clear failure of this standard as regards the women’s movement.

The only job description item that makes policing unique is the use of force. A police officer must, when it gets down to it, be willing and able to apply force to apprehend criminals and to protect the public.

The willingness to crack heads, while a necessary trait in the police force, requires effective management. Just as we want police dogs to be gentle and non-aggressive except when aggression is called for by their jobs, the same principle applies to human police.

In San Francisco there are three people who bear responsibility for the behavior of the police: the Chief of Police, the District Attorney, and the Mayor. All three at this time, happen to be women.

All three are defending, or cooperating in the defense of the cops who covered up and the cops’ friends who actually did the beating. This is a setback for the women’s movement.

Heather Fong is our chief of police. She was brought in as some sort of sop after goodoldboy police brass were indicted for covering up a previous off-duty cop beating sandal. I’m sorry, but when I look at her I think Barney Fife. She’s backing up the cop lies.

Kamala (sort of rhymes with Pamela) Harris is our District Attorney. She has done nothing except delay. And as we know from TV, delay is the friend of the guilty. The strategy is to let things cool down, in hopes that the outrageous decision not to prosecute, when finally announced, will cause less outrage.

Gavin Newsom is our mayor. He looks so good, I’m making him an honorary woman. And his behavior in this case is what misogynists used to call “womanly.”

Why? There are two reasons why cop power would trump obvious public interest:

1) The cops, or their friends, have dirt on Fong/Harris/Newsom, that keeps them from doing the right thing,

2) Fong/Harris/Newsom are afraid of being murdered by the police. This has happened before. Dan White, an (ex)cop murdered our liberal mayor and a county supervisor, and his cop friends and the D.A. helped him get off with five years for manslaughter. Our top prosecutor was supposedly caught off guard by the Twinkie defense.

It’s a shame our police department can’t do better. I went to school with lots of kids who became cops, and I would personally vouch for the integrity of most of them.

But the police department is a bureaucracy, and left unattended, bureaucracies will be taken over by the mediocre and the venal.

I wonder how we good-government advocates can make things easier for the great majority of policemen and women who want to do a decent, honest job, and who don’t enjoy licking the asses of our podunk (wikilink) aristocracy.

[Editorial note: Pud thinks that associating Gavin Newsom with the women’s movement is grossly unfair and “stupid.” I tend to agree. To call Gavin Newsom “a woman” is an insult to women everywhere, and I apologize.]

----- o -----

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


The head of our circulation department, who prefers to remain unnamed, alerts me that we’re receiving regular visits from our neighbors to the north.

SFWILLIE’S BLOG salutes you.

You guys have such a great national anthem. People in your country seem to think it’s kind of corny, but you’re still happy to sing it at the drop of a hat.

We in the United States envy you. Our national anthem is unsingable.

It’s one of Pud’s rants:

“How can we get along without a singable national anthem? It’s like, we don’t even HAVE a national anthem unless someone’s there to perform it for us.

“Our legislators are aware of this problem and refuse to do anything about it. Ask any congressperson or senator to sing it and the can’t, the range is too great. So we pretend that we have a national anthem.

“In the scene at Rick’s where the Germans and French are competitively singing their respective anthems, can you imagine Americans chiming in with theirs? Come on …

“So we don’t have an anthem and our lawmakers all look the other way. That’s what they’re best at.

“Forget about universal healthcare as good as Canada’s, we can’t even get as good a national anthem.”

----- o -----


By the time my family returned to San Francisco from our sojourn in the sunny southland, my godfather had become a municipal court judge. He was a boyhood friend of my dad.

I hardly knew my godfather, Bill O’Brien, but Bill O’Brian’s mom, Mrs Obie we called her, or “The Pink Lady,” was a fixture of my childhood. She was a nice old lady who liked to reminisce, she’d tell us earthquake stories.

My dad was only five during the earthquake and fire, but Mrs Obie had been a grown up. My dad would mention vague recollections and Mrs Obie would elaborate. They loved it.

When she babysat us I remember, in addition to her smelling good, that during the parting ritual, she’d always “sneak” a quarter into my pocket, and one into my brother’s too.

In our first months back in San Francisco (I was almost 10 years old) we had an unlimited pass to the rides at Playland at the Beach. Playland was a funky little amusement operation that occupied two city blocks at the west end of Golden Gate Park.

Some of the rides were fun, including a wobbly old mouse roller coaster that scared the crap out of us, bumper cars, and an octopus that got going pretty good.

So my brother and I took some of the kids on our block, whom we were just getting to know, to Playland for an afternoon of free rides. My mom let us use the pass on only three occasions, she was a stickler about not abusing generosity.

So where did the pass come from? Mrs Obie got it for us from her son, the municipal court judge.

I suppose all the judges in town had such passes. I wonder, why would the owners of Playland give free passes to local judges?

Looking back on it, my mom might have been reticent about the petty-graft aspect of it as well. She never much cared for the native San Franciscan thing.

Pud hates it when I mention my godfather’s name. “There’s so much shit I can’t tell you,” he says.

----- o -----


Do you think there’s something wrong with you because you don’t like tangerines? Do you stay at home and fret about it?

Please be assured: there's nothing wrong with you, you are not alone!

This video presents the audio/visual equivalent of how my mouth reacts to the taste of tangerines—complex, tangy, not something I want to repeat.

When I looked for this song on YouTube I was surprised to find many pages of hits. I guess there was a Led Zeppelin song, or something.

I was pleased to find many videos featuring non-culinary uses of tangerines: tennis ball-substitutes, office pets, or just something to stick a firecracker in and blow up.

I think the popularity of tangerine as a word far exceeds it’s popularity as a taste.

The first four letters spell tang, which is onomatopoeic to begin with. The -er- connotes action—it doesn’t just have tang, it’s a tang-er, it’ll tang you. And the –ine is sort of exotic, feminine and French.

The word comes from “Tangier.” This variant of the mandarin orange somehow got associated with the city of Tangier.

As the history part of the (wikilink) article demonstrates, it’s geographic location and seaport topography give the city a status far more important and permanent than whatever religious or political system happens to be in charge at the moment.

You get the feeling that Tangier itself was and is always in charge.

Wholesomeness is not an attribute that jumps to mind when we hear the word Tangier. Let’s just say William Burroughs didn’t go there for the fresh produce.

Maybe the tangerine’s tang competed successfully with Tangier’s sewer smell.

----- o -----

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


There are opinions and politics and outrage and fear. There is so much sadness.

Sure not all Johnies are coming home. Of those that do come home, some aren't marching too well.

I don’t know if a fife-playing prosthesis has been developed yet, but an armless guy or gal could maybe play the drum ok.

The mission for which they sacrifice lives and limbs was and is not only criminal, but stupid, unnecessary, and not good for our country in any way. That’s what’s really sad.

----- o -----


. . .because the cops don’t need you
and, man, they expect the same.
Bob Dylan

It’s sort of a cliché, when a driver stops in a strange hick town, he shouldn’t go too far off the highway, for fear of encountering that town’s contingent of violent mutant geeks.

For an extreme example of what I'm talking about, see the movie Deliverance.

Well, San Francisco is just such a hick town.

I think the Yale choir boy beating story had a brief national play. Here’s a decent summary.

I went to one of the high schools mentioned in the story, and witnessed the development of the kind of violent mutant geeks who are the alleged perps in the beating story.

It’s a Catholic boy high school thing. Half the S.F. police department went to one of the SF's three Catholic boys high schools. Their high school friends expect some leniency in future dealings, especially if wealth or status is involved.

So these alleged perp kids are 1) privileged, 2) burdened by expectations, and 3) twisted by the Catholic sex thing. They are San Francisco’s own Violent Mutant Geeks.

Young men, New Year’s eve, in the company of their male buddies, out looking to beat up other males--now that’s mutant-geeky.

Didn’t anyone tell them they’re supposed to be out looking for pussy?

So, when they beat up some guys, their cop buddies show up and let them go, just like normal. Except this time the victims are Yale choir boys, some with parents who want some sort of justice.

So the usual cop-lies are being exposed.

It’s a disgrace. Especially coming so soon after the death of a young SFPD patrolman who was shot while pursuing a dangerous escaped felon. He was a hero.

I’m a fourth generation San Franciscan. I’m ashamed. Pud is, too.

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This was recorded by friends of the trumpeter. Apparently this is still considered a difficult solo.

The sound is kind of raw, and the voices are not studio-mixed, so you can see some of the inner workings of the piece.

This was the intro to what, Bill Buckley’s PBS show? (Recently a portion of St Matthew Passion was used in a commercial, but only once. I’m sure the sponsor was bombarded.)

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Monday, January 15, 2007


Dion Dimucci (website) has been making highly serviceable pop music as long as I've been conscious.

This song is musically compelling enough to forgive the revisionism. I think it actually made it onto the charts.

I guess the struggle is ongoing. Even these days we actually see, from time to time, people in America going to jail for violating anti-slavery laws.

Happy MLK Day!

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I was going to write about Martin Luther King, Jr. (not a bad wikilink) as just a mediocre career minister who happened to have the civil rights thing thrust upon him by circumstances.

Luckily I consulted our fact-check crew (no holiday for them).

I knew MLK’s dad was a minister in Atlanta and that Jr grew up middle class. I always figured he was kind of a playboy. “Ebenezer Baptist Church” definitely has a silvery ring to it.

I sort of knew that his first gig as a minister was in Montgomery at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. This was his base when he led the bus boycott.

It turns out, the previous pastor of Dexter Ave. was Vernon Johns (wikilink). Vernon Johns was one of the most prominent civil rights activists in the south, prior to the bus boycott and the emergence of King.

That he succeeded Vernon Johns tells me that Martin had already chosen a civil-rights involved career path.

There’s an online biography of Vernon Johns at this link.

I must have heard the name Vernon Johns a few times, but I continue to be astounded by my own ignorance.

The civil rights movement didn’t start with the Montgomery bus boycott. The Gay rights movement didn’t start with Stonewall.

The names of the people who kept the flame alive during the darkest days will mostly be forgotten. They deserve our gratitude, and honor, too.

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It’s ironic that Andy Warhol's main claim to (general public) fame is his quip, I’m sure just a toss-off, about fame itself—the fifteen minute thing. Some people enjoy that kind of circularity.

Everyone has heard the cliché, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” How many have heard of Gil Scott Heron?

Here’s the source. Note: When he talks about “the revolution,” it seems like he thinks that some sort of revolution might actually come to pass, more or less soon.

Those were innocent times. No one had even heard of “crack.”

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