Friday, March 30, 2007


It wasn’t a great movie but it keeps coming to mind, The Candidate, starring Robert Redford in the title role and Peter Boyle, magnificent as the campaign manager.

Released in 1972, it shows the transformation of an idealistic, and good-looking, college professor into a political product.

The catalyst is win-ability. Fringe candidates can maintain intellectual and ideological integrity, but when actual victory comes in sight, the candidate must “get serious.” Robert Redford wound up saying whatever Peter Boyle told him to say.

Aesthetic appeal can be a major element of a candidacy. In some ways it’s better to follow an attractive leader into failure, than to follow a frump to success. Like, we’re all going to die anyway, why not spend the time we have here on earth with people and leaders we like?

JFK was the prototype. Who remembers the issues of the 1960 race? I do. Quemoy and Matsu. Oh, and the “missile gap.” It was Kennedy’s (totally disingenuous) assertion that the U.S. didn’t have enough nuclear missiles.

Also in that mold are Barack Obama and Gavin Newsom.

I still haven’t heard one policy-related reason to vote for Obama. I’m, like, still waiting.

Our troubled mayor enjoys high poll ratings. Why? Newsom looks good in pictures (except for Luke Thomas pictures) and he talks sort of like a mayor and he doesn’t propose disruptive programs. (It doesn’t hurt Newsom that his opposition kowtows to bicyclists and the corn-based grocery bag crowd.)

So the best candidate anti-Newsom (used to be called anti-downtown) interests can come up with so far is Danny Glover, who has way more screen appeal than Gavin. Who the hell knows what kind of mayor Danny Glover would be? Who the hell cares?

A good contrary example of what I’m talking about is Hilary Clinton. Maybe there was once something attractive about Hilary, but she “got serious” many moons ago, and there’s no appeal left.

Voting for president is partly a television casting choice. The president, whoever he or she may be, gets four long years of TV face time. If it ever looked like Hilary could really become president, television addicts would flock to the polls to vote against her. She's simply unpleasant to look at and listen to.

----- o -----

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Who cares about Karl Rove’s dancing or rapping! Rap was like how many decades ago?

But check out his companions.

David Gregory, behind, on Rove’s right, plays the bulldog White House reporter, frequently irking press secretaries with his persistence. Sometimes you get the idea that the Gregory and the Bush administration are at loggerheads.

Obviously not so.

Presumably each of us has a list of people we wouldn’t appear to support in public. Clergymen photographed with Hitler probably rue it. Sammy Davis’ Nixon hug was too uncool.

I personally would include Karl Rove as someone so evil that I would never want to appear as anything but opposed to him.

I.F. Stone, they say, never spoke to government officials off the record, let alone danced with them on stage.

----- o -----


Pud is not an animal rights guy. On the other hand, there’s no telling what will set him off. This breaking Chronicle story has Pud on his feet, doing his dance of outrage: Mountain lion sighting prompts warning.

“That’s what happens,” Pud says, “when the white man steals North American habitat.

“The annihilation of indigenous species is sometimes slow and painful.

“Like the genocide of Native Americans. There were certain constraints against outright mass slaughter, some sentimentality, so a few white folk lost their lives before the Indians could be totally fucked over and rendered harmless.

“So too the noble cougar. Eventually these big cats will all be gone. But not before they eat a few more schoolchildren.”

The mountain lion may be hiding under a home, said Pleasanton police Lt. Tom Fenner. Authorities are holding a perimeter in the area and asking residents, as well as students at the nearby Vintage Hills Elementary School, to remain indoors.

In the picture below, Vintage Hills Elementary School is circled in red. This is all mountain lion habitat. The second picture is a closer view, with a nice nearby park also circled.

“This noble animal cowers under a house in a suburb with oenological street names.

“Admit it, misanthropes, in this game you’re sort of rooting for the Cougars.”

----- o -----

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


So they passed the bag ordinance. It’s good for the environment, supposedly. And it only hurts the large food and drug retailers, supposedly. Read the Chronicle story here.

There is uncertainty about the actual total costs to the residents of San Francisco for this measure. The effects on the environment are far from certain. The near and mid term costs/savings to SF’s recycling efforts are unknown.

For an intelligent discussion of the recycling costs issue, and other environmental issues, see this discussion on The Wall.

The Chronicle story provides numbers that allow us to calculate the difference in purchase price of the current versus new “green” bags.

I’ve taken the Chronicle’s number of 180million plastic bags used in SF per year. I’ve used a conservative estimate of the difference in price at five cents per bag.

So the calc shows that if all plastic bags were the new green bags, the cost to the city would be $9million per year. If half the bags were green $4.5million.

It’s great that our city is so rich.

SF’s Environment Director is happy.

"It's really exciting," Jared Blumenfeld, director of the city's Department of the Environment, said after the vote on Tuesday. "We're thrilled. It's been a long time in the making."

On the Environmental Office’s bio of Blumenfeld he enthuses:

Together we can make San Francisco the greenest city on the planet.

No matter how much it costs, I guess.

----- o -----

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Kenneth Burke, or someone he quoted, used to say that bureacracy is the worst form of tyranny because it's the rule of no one. A monarch can be deposed, elected legislators can be replaced, but bureaucracies are designed to resist change and live forever.

We saw bureaucracy at work in this Matier and Ross report yesterday.

The basic story is:

1) Mayor sees a filthy public park.
2) Mayor tells Park and Rec to fire the gardener assigned to that park.
3) Park and Rec tells Mayor the gardener can’t be fired.
4) Park and Rec tells Mayor many reasons why parks can’t be better maintained
5) Other public official expresses frustration.
6) Mayor asks for funky workaround to address the park the Mayor complained about.
7) Nothing more will be done.

The most pathetic part of the story is Mayor Newsom’s delusion that he could get a city gardener fired.

The other pathetic aspect of this story is that nothing will be done.

Getting a civil service department to perform effectively is not easy. All levels of employees need leadership from above. Civil service selects against people with leadership skills.

It’s easy to pass bullshit nanny laws. It’s not easy to reform a city department.

Managing bureaucracies is like disciplining strong-willed toddlers. It’s difficult but necessary. Failure to do so results in disaster.

Bureaucratic response is pathetically predictable: lack of resources, restrictive regulations, unrealistic expectations.

Rec and Park officials say they're scrambling to come up with a solution, but that they keep hitting a wall of bureaucratic regulations.

They wanted to hire a couple of extra workers to staff the park in the late afternoon and evenings. But under city rules, hiring the workers meant hiring a supervisor as well, which they can't afford.

As for the maintenance worker the mayor may or may not have wanted fired, the department says it has no grounds to get rid of him. And even if his bosses did want to can him, the city's complicated disciplinary process would make it unlikely. (Not to mention that the custodian was on his regular day off when Newsom showed up, according to a co-worker.)

It’s like, the head of Rec and Park has never sat down with the mayor to hammer out performance criteria, i.e., what level of service CAN we expect from Park and Rec given the level of resources and regulations.

Without such criteria, the Mayor continues to flail in the dark. Creating such criteria is basic to any manager’s job. Gavin really deserves the title, Boy Mayor.

----- o -----

Friday, March 23, 2007


Pud can’t resist.

Cheney’s DVT and now Tony Snow’s small benign growth are covers for potential exits. They are using Mrs Edwards’ announcement about bone cancer as cover.

At a boring party, when the first person with balls announces his or her departure, three or four less brave couples with join in the exit. The flow-rhythm is the same.

“Snow won’t be back. They’ll say it’s health reasons, but he has basically resigned-in-disgust about the bald lies he’s been sent out to tell his colleagues in the presscorp,”

Pud likes the word Stooge, meaning someone so servile that he or she will do or say anything they’re told to do or say. A Stooge is ready to sacrifice his credibility and dignity on command.

Snow probably got assurances from George W., man to man, face to face.

Snow’s reputation is shot. Iraq is totally fucked up. The criminal shit is just hitting the fan. Snow won’t be back.

“Bet you a dollar,” Pud said confidently.

----- o -----

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I’ve been so busy investigating the long earthworm called the Catholic Church I almost forgot to praise and brag about my District 4 supervisor Ed Jew.

He made another good vote against an ordinance requiring large grocery stores to stop using non-degradable plastic bags, like they all use now.

Ed explained his vote in this Mercury-News story:

"Many of the people in my district can't believe we are spending so much time talking about plastic bags and grocery bags, that issues like crime and homelessness need to be addressed," Jew said.

Another thing District 4 should be proud of is our low level of financial support for Gavin Newsom’s mayoral campaigns.

Gavin Watch has posted a breakdown by San Francisco Zip Code of the per capita donations to two of Newsom’s campaigns. District 4 falls in the lowest category, somewhere between zero and fifty cents per person.

----- o -----

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


If both partners bring Jesus to bed with them,
does that make it a three-way, or a four-way?
Pudinhand Wilson

Chapel of Love – The Crystals

In American football an “Ave Maria” is a long, last-second, desperation-motivated, forward pass that hopes against hope to turn impending defeat into miraculous victory.

Probably Anthony Buono had something else in mind when he named his Catholic “dating” service Ave Maria Singles, although the masthead sort of reinforces the football analogy.

The home page features this half hearted endorsement from a guy who looks like he’d much rather burn than marry.

I think members are supposed to be looking for marriage partners as opposed to casual dating. I wonder how AMS screens its applicants.

There must be plenty of Lotharios out there with a particular taste for sincere Catholic females, who find that “There’s something special about a practicing Catholic…”

The welcoming letter concludes thusly:

... Grace and peace of Christ to you in your search.

Sincerely in the Holy Family of Nazareth,
Anthony J. Buono, President

Mentioning the Holy Family kind of throws a wet towel on the passion aspect of marriage, considering the Catholic belief the Joseph and Mary never had sex. Great model!

As pointed out in the Jesuit Watch post A Marriage Act, a marriage is consummated only through sexual intercourse. For a couple that has never had intercourse to say that they are married is a lie.

In some weird way, these contradictions must contribute to erotic tension.

----- o -----

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


In my post Stone, I discussed my insight that the totality of existence is mineral, that life forms are mineral forms, that what we refer to as “spiritual” is actually physical.

I associate my perception with LSD experiences, as in the my-brother-the-streetcar moment.

So, researching topics for our newish blog, Jesuit Watch, I looked into the Jesuit priest/paleontologist/theologian/heretic Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (wikilink).

I had heard of him while I was a student at St Ignatius High School. The impression I got was that the Jesuits liked him but that his ideas were way advanced and that the traditional Church had trouble understanding him.

Of course, it didn’t help that Chardin completely tosses the Bible and it’s story of sin and redemption. This quote can be found in more than one review of Chardin, and seems to state his basic belief.

"The world (its value, its infallibility and its goodness) - that, when all is said and done, is the first, the last, and the only thing in which I believe. It is by this faith that I live. And it is to this faith, I feel, that at the moment of death, rising above all doubts, I shall surrender myself." Christianity and Evolution.

Chardin admits he is a pantheist. He beieves that evolution is aimed toward an Omega point of bliss and fulfillment. This is where he departs from my views. He thinks that history is taking us in a good direction. I think that is just a wish.

This summary from a review in Living Tradition forum.

…de Chardin believed totally in the world and totally in the evolution of the world as the one absolute fact and reality. For Teilhard, Adam and Eve are just unhistorical "images of mankind pressing on towards God" and "the idea of the Fall is no more than an attempt to explain evil in a fixed universe" (138). He tried to eliminate the historical reality of Original Sin by imagining it to be "a survival of obsolete static views" in the presence of "our new evolutionary way of thinking." In his evaluation, Original Sin "clips the wings of hope" and "drags us back inexorably into the overpowering darkness of reparation and expiation" (Smith, 138, quoting Christianity and Evolution, 70-80).

Chardin and I agree on the bargain we pantheists make, accepting everything, the good and the bad. Traditional Christianity rejects the world in favor of an imagined spiritual perfection. This rejection of some or all of the world is a first step in the wrong direction.

In this final quote I am reminded of Hans Castorp’s “vision” at the climax of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. The reviewer mentions a Faustian bargain

Teilhard seems to have undergone in the early years of his priesthood and which he presented in an essay entitled "The Spiritual Power of Matter." In the experience he meets a superhuman being, "equivocal, turbid, the combined essence of all evil and all goodness," who says to him: "Now I am established on you for life or for death. ... He who has once seen me can never forget me: he must either damn himself with me or save me with himself."

This probably sounds grim to many people who want the good without the bad.

Faith ain’t easy.

Submission to the world (mineral existence) as we find it is the act that makes us whole.

----- o -----

Monday, March 19, 2007


Our mayor has a nice view from his condo. He can see quite a bit of the bay, not to mention Coit Tower, between neighboring buildings.

Our mayor’s sponsor, Gordon Getty, has a much nicer view. Here’s a picture of our mayor with his ex-wife on the floor in Gordon Getty’s house. The view from this window is pretty much 180. The Getty's look over neighboring buildings.

----- o -----

Saturday, March 17, 2007


My friend Jim over at Blue Elephant posted a nice tribute to Betty Hutton who died recently. You can read his post here.

Here are a couple of Betty Hutton clips:

I'm Just a Square in a Social Circle.

Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief

----- o -----

Friday, March 16, 2007


Public life is something like baseball—doing good one third of the time gets you in the Hall of Fame.

You can go from hero to goat, or vice versa, with every swing of the bat.

So with Kamala Harris, in this blog’s doghouse for the Baker’s Dozen cover-up, she now receives our kudos, per this Chron story: Unlicensed contractor charged in labor exploitation case.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris charged an unlicensed San Francisco construction contractor on Thursday with four felony counts of grand theft for allegedly cheating temporary workers out of their wages.

Defrauding workers of their pay is heinous. We salute District Attorney Kamala Harris.

----- o -----


Last night I flipped past SFGOVTV, a local cable channel that carries meetings of the Board of Supervisors, its committees, and some other local boards such as the Board of Education and the Taxi Commission.

Seeing our elected reps and other civil servants in action helps explain the bang per buck we’re getting as taxpayers.

Last night was a committee meeting that took place in the large chamber where the full Board of Supervisors meets. It’s a little uncanny to see only three of the supervisors’ chairs filled, and the commenters’ podium so disproportionately far from the three committee members.

Something seemed odd right away. It was a long shot. It looked like the supervisor talking was standing up and moving around. Then a closer shot revealed Supervisor Bevan Dufty (openly gay and a new father) was cuddling an infant in his arms. Dufty talked to the police officer witness as if holding the infant was so second-nature for him that he could totally concentrate on the city’s business, like Bevan was an old pro at child rearing. His constant little movement (rocking?) of the baby to keep it quiet was distracting.

The issue at hand was policing high and junior high school students during their after school commute on public transit (making schoolkids behave on the bus).

The police witness was in charge of some program about this issue. He was spouting the sort of long winded bureaucratese that climbers-through-the-ranks pick up by imitation. It was fairly worthless. All one could do was look at the baby.

Actually, it was pathetic.

I always smile when I see a little girl dressed up as a princess out walking with her mom or dad. Or a little boy wearing a Superman cape. (Or vice-versa.) I guess kids do this when they’re four or five or six years old. I admire the parents for indulging their kids’ ridiculous fantasies.

Sometimes you see slightly younger kids who have brought along a favorite toy or a teddy bear to remind them who they are. Sometimes a kid brings a new toy along just out of pride of ownership.

Back when AIDS changed the gay sex model from group-marriage to single-pair partnerships, we started to see a lot of dogs on Castro Street. Now it’s babies.

An infant, at any given time, requires greater-than-zero attention. Public business, at any given time, requires 100% attention. The math doesn’t work.

We would expect someone who puts themselves forward to make important decisions that affect thousands of lives (Bevan Dufty) to have the personal organizational skills to be able to arrange for childcare during official hearings.

I suppose this was a one-time emergency.

Once, many years ago on a half empty streetcar, a young mother changed her infant’s diaper. The smell was, let’s say, significant. Top that, Bevan Dufty!

----- o -----

Thursday, March 15, 2007


We think we first heard the rumblings from h.brown this morning.

SF Junto is discussing it seriously.

The board of directors of SFWILLIE’S BLOG has concluded an emergency meeting (our only kind) and have agreed, almost unanimously, to endorse Danny Glover for Mayor of San Francisco.

After we voted to endorse Danny Glover for Mayor someone said we should probably give some reasons for our endorsement.

1. Danny Glover is a native San Franciscan.
2. Danny Glover went to SF State during the strike.
3. Danny Glover has reasonable, progressive politics.
4. Danny Glover can repair the harm to our city’s image caused by the current mayor.
5. Danny Glover has enormous star power and personal presence.
6. Nobody doesn’t like Danny Glover.

SFWILLIE’S BLOG’s probably won’t be the most important endorsement Glover picks up. We’re trying to make it the first.


----- o -----

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


On Tuesday our Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling for a safe, immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

This was handled as an item of business, and was reported as one of the significant events of that meeting.

The vote was unanimous except for the Supe from my district, Ed Jew. My guy Ed was quoted in the Examiner article:

“I believe that we have a war here in San Francisco — here in the Western Addition and the Bayview. And we need to address issues like homelessness, and Muni and making sure that we do our job at repairing potholes,” Jew said. “We need to concentrate on the issues on hand within the county of San Francisco.”

I congratulate Ed Jew for his position but also for his political astuteness. Sfwillie’s rule is always spoil a unanimous vote. If the majority was correct, your vote will be forgotten, or can be rationalized. If it turns out that you, the only dissenter, were correct, then you’re a genius, a visionary. There is only upside in being a lone vote.

But it’s good that the Supervisors get a little scolding for futzing around when real work needs to get done.

----- o -----


Last week the Chronicle printed a story about the suffering of the two young men charged with felonious assault on visiting Yale choir members.

The victims of what San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris calls a “cowardly attack” had injuries that required ambulance trips to the hospital, but two of the attackers, currently free on bail, are complaining about how much they are suffering.

The ringleader of the attack, Richard Aicardi has lost 30 pounds. Boo fucking hoo.

Aicardi’s mom, a pediatrician, has lost some patients. Even though three of her sons are alleged to have participated in the cowardly attack, Ms Aicardi can’t understand why parents would doubt her expertise in raising children. Boo fucking hoo.

And Brian Dwyer’s life has turned upside down. Boo fucking hoo.

They thought they were immune to the law. They are totally surprised

They thought they should get away with beating people up.

Now the Chronicle has printed an editorial impugning the manliness of the Yale victims.

They had to get a woman to write it. Ms Caille Millner thinks it’s ok to go around insulting men’s masculinity, or is it their grown-upness she’s impugning. She starts the article by characterizing her views as “wisdom.”

A FEW WORDS of wisdom for the kids involved in the Yale New Year's Eve confrontation: Man up.

“Man up”? I guess that mean’s act like men. What exactly does that mean?

From the outcry that's erupted over this, you'd think it was the first time anyone had ever been in a fistfight. You'd think it was the worst thing in the world that a couple of Yale singers got hit in the face. You'd think that human beings have evolved to the point where violence isn't a day-to-day part of our existence.

The commentary over the course of this story boils down to a basic question: is fistfighting and street brawling a part of everyday life? Advocates for the attackers point to the unwritten rules of streetfighting.

This blog takes the position that there is no place in civilized society for fistfighting and street brawling. We advocate “love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s not a new concept.

What Ms Millner is asking for is exactly what she’s getting. The Yale kids are “Manning up.” They’re manning up just the way the Aicardi’s manned up.

Aicardi was outnumbered so he called for reinforcements. Then they used their superior force to prevail over the Yale kids that evening.

Now Caille Millner wants to declare the fight to be over. But the kind of “real men” Caille seems to prefer don’t admit defeat and dishonor, they, just like the Aicardi’s, look for reinforcements and revenge.

Now the Yale kids with their lawyer reinforcements have forced the police department, whom the Aicardi gang thought was on their side, to do their jobs and make a few arrests. So SFPD (at least in part) and the D.A. (at least in part) are on the Yalie side.

Now the Aicardi’s are whining that THEY are outnumbered.

This just proves what they say about bullies, when they meet superior force they turn into sniveling little babies.

You know, the story was fading from view until these two pro-defense articles came out. This is strange. It makes me suspicious.

Hopefully Dan Noyes will continue to investigate why more attackers haven’t been charged. There has been at least one anonymous allegation that one or more children of SFPD brass were involved in the attack.

Transparency is needed here, or we have to assume the worst.

----- o -----

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


be your own PET – Bicycle Bicycle

----- o -----

Policy and Practice: BICYCLES IN SF

An errand yesterday afternoon took me south along Lake Merced Boulevard on my way to the 280 freeway. It was a beautiful, spring like afternoon, perfect for bicycling, and the evening commute was already warming up.

The stretch of Lake Merced Blvd is four lanes, two in each direction, with only double yellow lines for a median. On the west is Lake Merced/Harding golf course, on the east are the rear-ends of SF State and ParkMerced housing development.

Because there is no cross traffic the speed limit is 45mph. When traffic is heavy in both directions there are a lot of cars going pretty fast in a very small area.

So yesterday I notice a little congestion ahead in the curb lane, turns out it’s a bicyclist, racing bike, cool(?) spandex riding outfit. I thought, This guy’s a fool! He’s doing like 25 and the cars are trying to go 50.

Just as I’m passing the bicyclist I see a sign by the road saying, “Bicyclists have the right to the full lane.”

This sign has been turning up in Golden Gate Park. This is the first such sign I've seen on a road posted higher than 25mph.

The bicyclist yesterday wasn’t asserting his right, he was trying to ride next to the curb so that cars in the curb lane could pass him.

Such bicycling is dangerous and annoying. The anti-automobile, pro-bicycle lobby feels their cause to be morally correct and worth fighting, and possibly dying for. I’m afraid that will happen. SF Bicycle Coalition website here.

The signs about bicycles having the legal right to a traffic lane are kind of a joke, since most bicyclists routinely violate numerous laws in order to maintain momentum—stop signs, red lights, sidewalks, side-of-the-street.

As bicyclists become more assertive, the chances of tragic accidents go up. The relationship of cars to bicycles is not clearly defined by our city government. And nothing regarding bicycles seems to be enforced by the police.

I think the mayor and the supervisors all hold their breaths hoping significant bicycle fatalities don’t necessitate serious work on the problem, not to mention blame-dodging.

We obviously can’t have one bicycle going 25mph occupy one of the two southbound lanes of a major commute artery that’s posted at 45mph.

Because of cost and efficiency trade-offs, we design products and processes with minimal safety features, because that’s cheapest and most efficient. Then, when deaths occur or other liability is generated additional safety features can be deemed cost-effective and deployed. An obvious example of this is increased security procedures along with new, more expensive machinery at airports since September 11, 2001.

That particular stretch of Lake Merced Blvd has cars approaching each other at a combined speed of 100mph with a four or five foot painted median separating them.

I cringe.

----- o -----

Monday, March 12, 2007


Status Symbol

At the Vatican Collections Exhibit

At the far end of the first hall
Apollo! As hundreds passed
Solemnly shy in front I
Boldly detoured to view the Sun-
God’s posterior and found the cutest
Sculpted buns extant, alone
For a moment in my own Garden
Belvedere, the equal of popes.

© Copyright 2007 William Morrissey All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


I Saw the Light – Johnny Cash

Amazing about the Aicardi/Dwyer story below is the surprise at the severity of the consequences, as if they thought it wasn’t too big a deal to go around beating people up.

You wonder about how they were socialized.

Sometimes it takes a scrape with the law to help us see the light.

----- o -----


The two youths charged in the Yale Baker’s Dozen beating case are discovering that simply being arrested and charged with a crime is hugely painful. It’s life-disrupting. It’s future-affecting. Readers of the recent Chronicle story would be hard pressed not to feel sorry for these two kids. Quote:

On Thursday, Frank Passaglia, Aicardi's attorney, and Tony Brass, Dwyer's attorney, told The Chronicle that their clients' lives have been tossed upside down by the New Year's Eve foray and the media attention that flowed from it.

Richard Aicardi, the 19 year old accused instigator, is famously quoted for bragging, on the night of the incident, “I’m twenty deep.” This meant that he had twenty buddies on their way to help him fight.

The video of young Aidardi surrendering for booking shows him, not twenty-deep, but accompanied only by his father.

This is the seed of what should happen next.

The best outcome from the criminal proceedings, from the point of view of people who want to walk the streets of San Francisco without getting beaten up, is that all the attackers be convicted of violent crimes.

Another quote from the Chronicle sob story:

Now Dwyer finds himself in the difficult position of being "someone who has been a law-abiding kid his whole life and now all of a sudden he faces charges that could send him to state prison,'' Brass said.

Never in trouble before, Dwyer is depressed, sleeps a lot and has little appetite, his lawyer said.

Massive punishment for Aicardi and Dwyer might or might not deter future violence from the other attackers, those of the “twenty deep” who haven’t been charged. Better for all of us would be for all the attackers plead guilty of misdemeanor battery or something like that, do some community service, and go and sin no more.

That way, if any of the attackers should strike again, they couldn’t claim “first offense.”

So how do we get them all to plead guilty? By threatening Aicardi and Dwyer with vigorous prosecution and serious state prison time. Then offer to bargain down to a misdemeanor if they testify against the other attackers.

At the same time, the D.A. Harris could let it be known that if the other attackers surrendered, they could plead guilty to misdemeanors.

It would be malpractice for the D.A. not to exploit this loyalty dilemma. Aicardi and Dwyer feel loyalty to the twenty-deepers. But how much loyalty do the twenty-deepers show by letting Aicardi and Dwyer take the entire fall?

It’s a real grown-up problem.

----- o -----

Saturday, March 10, 2007


Till There Was You - Meredith Wilson
Some people think of this as a Beatles song.

During her last couple of days my mom wasn’t very responsive. She couldn’t talk but when the nurse shouted at her she’d maybe move her head slightly.

I visited her in the morning and in the evening both of her last days, but there wasn’t much I could do except hold her hand and say soothing things.

On the second day, out of frustration, I sang to her. I closed the door, and sang really loud, with full breath support, some of our favorite songs.

I think she could hear. I think a couple times the moved her lips along with the lyrics. Anyway, it was better than just sitting there, and if she could hear me, so much the better.

In our family, Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man was like a sacrament. This beautiful love song happens at the climax of the story. It’s the last song my mom heard before she died.

----- 0 -----

Friday, March 09, 2007


[This post also appears on Jesuit Watch.]

The last time San Francisco’s Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were in the news was a controversial celebration on Easter Sunday. Local Catholic thick-necks took umbrage at the date and petitioned the Board of Supervisors to withhold a street-closing permit.

Gay people were determined to close the three blocks in question with or without a permit, but the Board caved to the gay people and there was no confrontation.

The Sisters, (men who like to dress up as Catholic nuns) grew out of the original genderfuck theater troupe, the Cockettes. Genderfuck, for males, means dressing in female clothing and hairdos and all, but also displaying male secondary sex characteristics—beards, moustaches, hairy shoulders.

NOTE: These days the Sisters have affiliated "houses" worldwide, and membership is open to many sex categories.

The Sisters is a fraternal organization. They run a lively (you can imagine) weekly bingo game, and otherways raise funds for neglected community needs. They are fun and self deprecating, and they actually promote religious values.

You can see on their website a very succinct mission statement,

Soon after the San Francisco Order was founded in 1979, the mission of the Sisters — to promulgate universal joy, expiate stigmatic guilt and serve the community — spread far and wide. Orders can be found across the United States and in several countries around the world.

The Sisters have never issued any dogma ex cathedra that this FOME can’t accept. I assume each of them claims infallibility.

This quote from the Wikipedia entry shows their sense of fun:

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence believe that many institutions and social constructs are a source of dogma, hypocrisy, guilt and shame. This has lead to encounters with the Catholic Church. One was when they staged an exorcism of the Pope on his visit to San Francisco in 1987.

This story illustrates why I like them so much.

It was maybe fifteen years ago, a small group of fundamentalist Christians decided to minister to San Francisco’s gay community by gathering at the main intersection of gay nightlife and handing out salacious anti-gay literature, chanting anti-gay slogans, and singing some sort of Jesus songs.

It was completely legal, and should have been ignored, but some of the many gay people passing by took umbrage with nasty verbal exchanges resulting. Same thing the next night.

It looked like there would eventually be trouble, so the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence brought a bullhorn and a boom box, and led a gathering of gay people across the street. We had some talks, and played some music, and whenever the Christians would start a chant we’d drown them out with our own chant, “NO MORE GUILT!”

I believe they had “ushers” helping to guide people around the Christian group so they wouldn’t be waylaid.

The Christians quickly gave up.

There was real trouble brewing if the Christians went unchecked. The Sisters came up with a creative, non-violent response that Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi would have been proud of.

Members pictured above, top to bottom, Sister Bea Attitude, Sister Harlette O'Scara, and Sister Tilly Comes Again.

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[In a previous post, Good Taste Means Knowing When to Stop, we discussed how much greater his reputation would have been if Bob Dylan had died in his 1965 motorcycle crash.]

Writing Jesuit Watch is mostly amusing but every once in a while I come across something truly painful, such as this picture of the once great Bob Dylan.

The accompanying story in the blog Whispers in the Loggia says that after the handshake:

The Pope then preached a sermon to the 300,000-strong audience. How many roads must a man walk down? "Just one," declared the Pope. What answer is blowing in the wind? "The breath and voice of the Spirit," he insisted, "a voice that calls and says, 'Come'."

For Bob Dylan to lend himself to an organization that threatens kids with hell is the most un-hip endorsement since Sammy Davis Jr. hugged Richard Nixon.

The Dylan-Pope handshake took place in 1997. The Whispers story appeared yesterday, something about the publication of a Pope Benedict book. The quote above might be from Benedict’s book, hard to tell.

The biggest story today on the Catholic web is that the Pope is expected to silence a Jesuit liberation theologist Rev. Jon Sobrino, S.J.

Liberation theology states that the Church should be concerned about justice for poor people. Pope Benedict says the communion wafer is all the food anyone really needs.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007


Sfmike has documented on his Civic Center blog how an ideological Board of Education has taken from its students the opportunity to participate in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp, J-ROTC. See his great photostories here, sample picture below.

Dressing up in uniforms and marching around and following orders isn’t every teenager’s idea of fun, but for the kids that enjoy it, where’s the fucking harm!

The School Board’s excuse was that the U.S. military discriminates against gays. There was no allegation that J-ROTC in San Francisco has discriminated against anyone and I would be shocked if they did. I suspect anti-military political correctness entered into consideration.

If the City wants to sever relations with organizations that discriminate against gay people I suggest starting with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church openly discriminates against gay people and women.

In addition to blatant employment discrimination the Catholic Church uses its tax exempt status to deny women (read poor women) the right to reproductive choice. They are opposed to any gay rights and they characterize gay sex as sinful. The Catholic Church actively discourages the use of condoms.

The Catholic Church has a right to exist and function within the City and County, but to be consistent, the City should immediately cease any non-legally-mandated relations with the Catholic Church.

And if the City isn’t willing to be consistent, it should give the schoolkids back their J-ROTC.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


In the immediate aftermath of the New Year’s Eve attack on Yale's Baker’s Dozen, the mayor, other officials, and defense attorneys all referred to “underage drinking” as a mitigating factor.

Here’s a quote from an ABC7 interview with Mayor Newsom, early in the investigation:

Why were these kids, they’re all underage, why were they in a home with a lot of liquor, how’d they get the liquor, what the heck were they doing down there…?

I interpret this as a threat to the adults responsible for the party at which one or more of the alleged attackers was an uninvited guest.

For high school and college kids under 21, drinking alcohol is way common, but it's illegal. It is illegal in California for a grownup to supply alcohol to people under 21. Not only is it a criminal offense, but the supplier assumes liability for the subsequent behavior of the underage drinker.

For a bar or liquor store to sell to underage drinkers could also jeopardize their licenses. There is no allegation of any specific act of providing alcohol to minors, but, they got drunk somehow.

The owners of LaRocca’s Corner might be a little nervous.

According to this Chronicle story a recent Sacred Heart High School grad, Rich Aicardi picked at fight at a party and called some friends in to help him finish it.

"After the confrontation on the deck, Aicardi was overheard and acknowledged making a phone call to the other suspects," according to [police inspector]Newman. Aicardi summoned friends from LaRocca's bar in San Francisco, he stated.

If the friends Aicardi summoned from LaRocca’s were also under 21, there might be a problem.

LaRocca’s, a neighborhood institution since 1922, says it’s a place where tourists can rub elbows with natives. LaRocca’s website features the slogan, “Drink With Dignity.”

Yelp has fourteen reviews of LaRocca’s Corner. With one exception the reviews are positive. People interested in the “local high school” aspect of the Baker’s Dozen case should take a look at Yelp.

Two reviews say the bar is hangout for Sacred Heart alumni. Another review mentions a bartender’s discussion of Catholic high schools and Catholic girls.

Two reviews hint at manly fisticuffs. One review implies the bar is friendly to underage drinkers. Altogether, the reviews agree on one great feature , generous cheap drinks.

Earlier reports mentioned one carload of attackers arriving from a “nearby bar.” LaRocca’s is not very nearby the scene of the attack. There may be other bar owners who might be nervous about a thorough investigation.

The arrest of otherwise privileged kids like Aicardi and Dwyer has ripple effects. The locals don’t like any of this one bit. The police don’t care how the kids got the booze, but the plaintiffs’ attorneys might.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


The felony charges filed yesterday against two attackers in the Baker’s Dozen case never would have been brought had it not been for the efforts of the I-Team at San Francisco’s ABC7.

Others contributed, notably the Gonzalez and Leigh law firm, but the public demand for justice was led by Dan Noyes and his investigative I-Team.

Gee whiz! This is kind of like those corny stories of courageous newspeople who dig deep and buck entrenched powers to get at the truth and to force elected officials to do their jobs. Maybe some bad guys will do some time behind bars.

This is not that big a deal, unless you consider that after the incident the Mayor and the Police Chief both maintained that no crime had even been committed. The attackers were going to get away with it.

Congratulations Mr Noyes (bio) and the whole crew at ABC7. Now we need to know why others have not been charged and why the police chief tried to cover the whole thing up.

Answering that last question would deserve a Pulitzer.

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D.A. Kamala Harris announced felony charges against two suspects in the New Year’s Eve attack on Yale Baker’s Dozen Choir members. ABC7 story here.

Other attackers have not been charged, but Harris has hinted that charges against others could be brought if additional evidence becomes available.

This “additional evidence” must be eyewitness testimony from the two already charged. We’ve seen it on TV a million times, defendants are offered reduced sentences in exchange for testimony against other perpetrators.

The two defendants are only nineteen years old. If the D.A. can’t flip them, she’s not really trying.

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Monday, March 05, 2007


Spring in San Francisco can bring “earthquake weather.”

I Feel the Earth Move – Carole King

Before the most recent slide, a one-bedroom condo at 455 Vallejo St. was offered at $649,000.00.

This realtor’s site gives a beautiful presentation befitting a property in that price range. Here’s the first of eleven images in the slide show.

The clean-up, shore-up expense is undetermined, but you can move in as soon as city engineers remove the “red tag.”

Work has already begun. In the upper left corner of the Chron photo below we see a corner of 455 Vallejo.

Also, height above sea level (and the view) is subject to change without notice.

There's a term in real estate, “motivated seller.”

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Sunday, March 04, 2007


But, really, there’s a vacancy behind Mayor Newsom’s eyes, and a cadence to his voice, his words a flood of seeming reasonableness, that’s just a little psycho, or at least a little detached. Seeing him recently on TV has made me think of Ted Bundy.

Check out Ted: a note on YouTube says this was close to his execution.

Here’s a snippet of Mayor Newsom talking about cuckolding his campaign manager. It's only reasonable that our mayor should feel bad, poor guy!

This video shows Mayor Newsom leading a neighborhood “Townhall.” His pacing around the audience makes me nervous. I believe this event took place before Mayor Newsom announced he'd be getting help with his own drinking problem. Notice the flow of reasonableness.

BTW: Our Mayor rails against “80-proof.” His business is selling wine.

The very best examples of what I’m talking about are photos to be found on Fog City Journal. You can click around various stories to find photos by Luke Thomas. The two pictures of Mayor Newsom in this story are as edgy as any Diane Arbus stuff.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007


When people express a mistaken notion, others can correct them. Otherwise, people might take their mistaken notions to the grave.

A friend will tell you your zipper’s down, or your slip is showing.

Here are three examples of words I used incorrectly and was told so by people who knew more than me.

Pensive. I thought this word means “really tense, jittery.” It actually means “thoughtful.”
1 : musingly or dreamily thoughtful
2 : suggestive of sad thoughtfulness

Fulsome. I thought the word meant abundant, as in meaning #1 below. In this sense it’s a term of approbation. The other three senses are all negative. My friend who corrected me told me the usual meaning among educated people is “smelly.”

1 a: characterized by abundance : copious
2: aesthetically, morally, or generally offensive
3: exceeding the bounds of good taste : overdone
4: excessively complimentary or flattering : effusive

Presently. I, like most people, took this as a synonym for “currently.” Of course, in these cases you have to ask why we would have both words. The two uses contradict each other. The first use, the one still used by educated people, means “soon,” or very soon, in other words, “not now.” The second meaning is “now.”

1 a: archaic : at once b: without undue delay : before long
2: at the present time : now
In summary, those of you dreaming of some day writing for SF WILLIE’S BLOG, as far as we're concerned "pensive" means thoughtful, "fulsome" means smelly, and "presently" means soon.

And, never use the phrase, “begs the question” without explicit approval from the editorial board.

[Definitions are from Mirriam Webster Online. ]

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Friday, March 02, 2007


Dancing in the Street - Martha and the Vandellas

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Because people are goddamn annoying.

I began my life in an almost lily-white Leave It to Beaver milieu. Still, it took many years to experience and learn how to deal with all the annoying things about white people. (Actually I’m still learning.)

Then, with integration, I had to be “tolerant” of black people while they learned to act white.

Now, with multiculturalism, non-European cultures are equal, which means, for each different culture I have to experience their unique annoying behaviors and learn how to deal with them.

I’m not saying it’s unfair, it’s just goddamn annoying. It’s annoying for people from all cultures, not just for white people, obviously.

I’m not saying any race or ethnicity is more annoying than any other. I’m certainly not saying that anyone’s more annoying than white people. If anything, I would hope the opposite.

It’s time to stop pussyfooting around this issue. It’s time to admit that all people are annoying and that different cultures might be annoying in different ways.

I for one would like to know how San Franciscans really feel about each other. Mister Eng chose a method of discussion that people can’t handle very well. This WaPo story discusses the aftermath of the Eng affair. [Photo from WaPo story.]

Race is sort of like sex, people hesitate to tell what they really do or how they really feel. I’d like to see a Kinsey type survey on racial and ethnic stereotypes, focusing on the question of likes and dislikes about other races, as well as one’s own.

1. The thing I like most about Asian people.
2. The most annoying thing about Asian people
3. The thing I like most about White people.
4. The most annoying thing about White people.
5. Etcetera

A well designed properly controlled study could reveal non-obvious facts about inter-ethnic perceptions.

For instance, in his article, which produced a rare unanimity of condemnation, Mr Eng stated his first reason for hating Black people is because Black people hate Asians and act mean toward them.

It’s hard not to get tangled up in truth-testing Mr Eng’s perception. But much more interesting would be to discover if other Asians shared Mr Eng’s view, and if so how many.

Taking stock of actual perceptions, both positive and negative, would indicate a commitment that we really want to get along, enough to face facts.

Because of the number of ethnicities that rub elbows in San Francisco such a survey could be a huge undertaking, so we’ll probably continue to suffer in ignorance.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007


Response to the Asian Week article, Why I Hate Blacks, has brought the San Francisco community together like no other event (Examiner story here). Whoremongers, politicians, corrupt church leaders, c***suckers, and lingualists of all body parts, and all nice people, blameless, celibate and sewn up, even our worthless mayor, all agree that the article should not have been published.

Guess what Pud thinks.

“Such unanimity is a red flag,” Pud says, “it means there are evil forces afoot. It takes no time before the bullshit starts flying.

“Our Ted-Bundyish Mayor led the way in an Examiner article:
Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement that the column had “no place in a city that is known around the world for civil rights and equality for all people…”
“Of course, the exact opposite is true. Not to dump on San Francisco, but it’s no more tolerant or inclusive than any other northern U.S. city. But it thinks it is.

“Just one example: As the result of a discrimination lawsuit brought by black people, the San Francisco Fire Department operated under a Consent Decree by which a Federal judge monitored the department’s hiring practices. This lasted from 1988 through 1997. That was just ten years ago.

“According to a nice article that appeared in Asian Week last year, the first black SFFD hire was in 1955, the first woman in 1987. The article, by Angela Pang, focuses on an Asian Firefighter, Keith Onishi, who seems to let the racism roll off his back. He’s very matter of fact.

“The mayor’s quote shows which evil lurks,” Pud says. “The I Hate Blacks article tarnishes San Francisco’s image as a tolerant city. Of course, that image of tolerance is total bullshit.

“The I Hate author was very crude and insulting, but in his own half-conscious way he was declaring to the world that the emperor has no clothes. That was his sin.”
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Pretty Vacant – Sex Pistols

Sometimes you have to scream!

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Catholic parochial school kids of my generation all learned their religion from the Baltimore Catechism. This book presents, in question and answer format, the basic beliefs and practices of Roman Catholics.

Here’s an excerpt:


1. Q. Who made the world?
A. God made the world.

2. Q. Who is God?
A. God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things.

3. Q. What is man?
A. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.

4. Q. Is this likeness in the body or in the soul?
A. This likeness is chiefly in the soul.

It is a comprehensive, if not necessarily in-depth, reference to what Catholics believe, and what Catholics are supposed to do.

Wikipedia has a brief explanation plus links to the complete texts of all four versions. In this blog I use Baltimore Catechism #2.

The nuns made us memorize the damn thing, word for word, for instance, “Tonight’s homework is to memorize Catechism questions 145 through 148.”

So, when you see the Baltimore Catechism quoted in this blog, it represents actual Catholic teachings and beliefs.

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Pud says our out of town visitors might want to here the news about Gleegate—the New Year’s Eve incident in which local toughs beat up members of a visiting Yale choir.

The attackers were originally let go, allegedly because they are the children of prominent San Franciscans and of police brass. Only because of citizen outrage did the police launch a formal investigation.

[In above photo: The gal on the left is supposed to be prosecuting violent crimes. The gal on the right is supposed to be ending the Iraq War. Nobody hold your breath.]

On February 14th the SFPD turned over the results of the investigation to District Attorney Kamala Harris. That was two weeks ago. We’ve heard nothing since.

It’s been two months since the attack took place.

What does this say about San Francisco? Nothing very good.

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