Here are a few things I learned at Saturday’s debate among the three Senate candidates, which was sponsored by the Harvey Milk LGLT Democratic Club:
– Mark Leno is desperately seeking Milk’s endorsement and thinks he can get it by pointedly attacking and trying to discredit incumbent Carole Migden (a strategy that may backfire).
– When shoved, Migden shoves back hard (also a strategy that may backfire).
– Joe Alioto-Veronese doesn’t belong on the same stage as Leno or Migden — and, frankly, doesn’t seem ready for a Senate race (being named “Alioto” just ain’t enough) — but he clearly thinks he can run to the right of the main event and have a shot.
– I came up with far too many questions for my role on the media panel at the event, and maybe I should have worn something a bit more stylish.
– There’s still a very long way to go in this race…and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
Here are a few things I learned at Saturday’s debate among the three Senate candidates, which was sponsored by the Harvey Milk LGLT Democratic Club:
I called labor activist Robert Haaland a few days after the election to chat about what the victory of Proposition A meant, and I wound up interrupting his vacation in Maui. I shouldn’t feel so bad anyone who takes his cell phone on vacation and returns calls from political reporters has nobody to blame but himself … but still, I wanted to get off the phone quickly and let him get back to his sun and sand and Bikram yoga.
It wasn’t happening. Even from Hawaii, even with all of us in a celebratory mood over the way the progressives stomped Don Fisher, Haaland had a somber note to share.
"Queer progressives were missing in action on Props. A and H," he told me. "I think they were spending all their time fighting over Mark and Carole."
What he meant, of course, was that people active in the LGBT community spent their energy these past two months in organizing (and bickering over) the Harvey Milk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Democratic Club’s endorsement for the June 2008 State Senate race. The two candidates, Assemblymember Mark Leno and incumbent Carole Migden, are both, generally speaking, progressive politicians. They both have active, loyal groups of LGBT supporters, and they have both poured considerable effort into getting the Milk club endorsement, which puts a stamp of progressive legitimacy on the winner.
But if you’ve followed the whole mess on the www.sfbg.com politics blog, you know it’s been nasty and bitter. The meeting at which the club decided (or maybe didn’t decide) when to schedule its formal endorsement vote was a mess of procedural questions, shouting, alleged violations of Robert’s Rules of Order, utter confusion at the end, and recriminations afterward. A lot of people who used to like one another are still steaming about it, using epithets we typically save for the Republicans in Washington DC.
I’ve said this before, and I’m going to do it again, as loud as I can:
Knock it off. All of you.
Look: Leno is running against Migden. You can think that’s a bad and divisive political idea or you can think that he has every right to seek office in a democracy and hold an incumbent accountable. It doesn’t matter; the race is on. Next June we’ll all be voting for one or the other.
And five months later control of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will be in the balance, and we will desperately need a united progressive front to make sure that Gavin Newsom’s allies don’t win. We can’t afford to be mad at one another. We can’t afford an ugly progressive split. We can’t afford to let the Leno-Migden race devolve into personal attacks. We can’t be demonizing one another.
Don’t start with your he-did-it-first-she-did-it-first stuff either. Nobody’s completely innocent here; both sides have said and done things that have inflamed the situation.
I’m an idealist and an optimist; that’s how I survive. I actually believe that this city, and this movement, is mature enough politically to have a race like Migden vs. Leno without leaving lasting scars that will hurt all of our causes for years to come.
But when I mentioned to a downtown operative the other day that I was worried that people like Debra Walker and Howard Wallace will wind up hating each other, he told me gleefully that "Don Fisher would happily pay money to see that."
Think about it.
By Tim Redmond
The Harvey Milk LGBT Club is all tied in knots over this race. A lot of progressives are arguing that it’s split the community. A lot of people don’t even know how to approach it – two queer community leaders with progressive politics are fighting it out, and in the end, we all have to pick sides (or at least vote for one of them and not the other).
It’s tough: Both have been right sometimes and wrong sometimes. Leno used to be more associated with the moderate side of queer politics, and Migden with the more progressive side, but that’s not entirely accurate today: Leno has moved to the left (in part, no doubt, because that’s easier to do in Sacramento) and has become one of the most accessible, hard-working politicians in town. He’s proven himself trustworthy (although his political consulting firm, BMWL, is involved in some of the worst and sleaziest pro-downtown stuff in the city.
Migden, meanwhile, endorsed the more conservative Steve Westly over the more liberal Phil Angelides for governor. She’s done a few truly embarrassing things, like promoting for state school board a downtown Republican who wants to privatize public schools.
A lot of people say there’s no ideological difference between the two today, that the race is all about style (Migden brash, confrontive, an insider deal-making pol; Leno friendly, conciliatory, able to work well with others). Some say the criticisms of Migden’s style are sexist.
Over the next few months, as this gets more and more competitive and (I fear) ugly, there will be lots of trash talked about both of them. The two candidates will talk about history, records, and (maybe) positions on the few issues on which they don’t agree. They’ll both argue – and they can both make a case – that they will be more effective in Sacramento, better advocates for progressive causes and the city’s needs.
I’d like to offer a different lens.
The Bay Guardian is profiling the candidates for the 2007 elections. We’ll be updating this entry as more information comes in. Post your thoughts or comments below.
Mayoral candidate Michael Powers
“As a candidate for Mayor it is my intent to accomplish the following tasks for my fellow residents. I will:
*make Muni free and introduce a community bicycle program with 10,000 bikes
as in Paris.
*protect our city’s skyline through slow growth rather than our present program
*lower our crime rate by increasing the number of police officers we have on our
streets by use of Lateral Transfer hiring and insisting that sworn personnel are not
wasted on administrative duties.
*use our bike program to allow the homeless to become its supervised labor pool
in bike maintenance, thus teaching them a trade.
*encourage the promotion of Harvey Milk’s birthday as a national holiday.”
Visit the Guardian 2007 Election Center for updates, more interviews, and 2007 election news.
Thousands evacuated. State of emergency declared. Boy, those Harvey Milk Club meetings are something.
(From the voicemail of Sup. Tom Ammiano on Thursday, Oct. 25.) For the uninitiated, this is Ammiano’s account of the club’s pandemonium meeting this week to consider whether Assemblyman Mark Leno or State Senator Carole Migden gets the club’s important endorsement in this hotly contested race for Migden’s Senate seat. Note our blogs. B3
There aren’t many political consultants in the world who deserve the term "sweet person." There aren’t many who last in that often vicious and horrible business who care more about their personal political principles than they do about money. There aren’t many who are universally liked, even by the people they routinely oppose.
Jim Rivaldo was weird that way. I knew him for almost 25 years, since I began watching the nasty world of insider San Francisco politics, and I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who had anything bad to say about him.
Rivaldo was one of the first openly gay political consultants in the country, an advisor and campaign manager for Harvey Milk and an innovator in the early days of the business of using graphic art and direct-mail technology to elect people to public office. He was the state’s first openly gay commissioner, serving as Milk’s regional representative on the Coastal Commission.
Rivaldo and his business partner, Dick Pabitch, managed the campaign that defeated the Police Officers Association juggernaut to create the Office of Citizen Complaints in 1983. He helped elect Milk and his successor, Harry Britt, helped found what is now the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, and was one of the key players who put gay politics on the map, making the queer community a force to be reckoned with in San Francisco. He was the treasurer of the first campaign to bring district elections to San Francisco.
Rivaldo was also one of the first political activists to make connections between the gay and the African American communities. He ran the campaigns of nearly every black politician elected to office in the 1970s and ’80s. In other words, his professional résumé was, by any standard, impressive.
But when you ask people today about him, what they remember most is his sense of humor, his passion for what he cared about and the fact that he was, above all, a wonderful human being.
"He was such a great guy," said City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who hired Rivaldo to run his first campaign. "I think it’s a measure of the integrity of the man that everyone in town had a fond spot in their hearts for him."
"He had principles," San Francisco Information Clearinghouse activist Rene Cazenave recalled. "He was sort of a socialist, with a real understanding of class, and he really believed in it."
State senator Carole Migden said, "He was the sort of person who could cross all political lines. He was like a UN ambassador."
Rivaldo was born in Rochester, NY, in 1947. It wasn’t an easy place to be a young gay man, but he persevered, as he always did later in life, and wound up graduating from Harvard. He arrived in San Francisco in the early 1970s, just as the gay pride movement was getting into full swing, and quickly became a part of community politics.
He set up a political consulting firm when managing campaigns for money was still a new line of work and quickly demonstrated that he had an innate skill for it. With Pabitch, he set up shop in a second-floor office in the 500 block of Castro Street and started promoting queer candidates as citywide contenders.
"He was the first one to use turquoise and hot pink for political fliers," Migden recalled.
And over the next two decades, as many of his industry colleagues began to make a lot of money and some became very wealthy Rivaldo always seemed to barely get by. After he and Pabitch split up he moved to a little office near City Hall and took on a string of candidates who were often barely able to pay their bills.
"He wasn’t the ruthless, get-ahead-at-all-costs type," Migden said. "That’s why he wasn’t rich."
I always liked talking to Rivaldo. He never called to talk trash about someone else. I didn’t always like his candidates, but I knew he always did; when he told me about someone he thought should be in office I always knew he was telling the truth. He actually cared about people and issues, and when things went badly (when, for example, a candidate he helped elect to the school board voted the wrong way on the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and infuriated the queer community) he felt personally let down, just like the rest of us.
AIDS has ravaged his generation of gay men in San Francisco, and there aren’t many people left in politics who are links to the days of Milk, who can remember and tell stories of a time when the idea of a queer person serving at City Hall was considered an astounding breakthrough. And it’s in part because of him that San Francisco now has two queer supervisors, two queer state legislators, and queer representation at virtually every other level of government.
But I think the most remarkable fact of Rivaldo’s life is that he was such a decent guy that he could be friends with so many people who were so often at odds, often to the point of not speaking. He talked to Jack Davis and Tom Ammiano, to Migden and Mark Leno, to Terence Hallinan and Kamala Harris. They all liked him; they all respected him. They’ll all miss him. And so will I.
With just a couple of weeks to go until San Franciscans elect their next mayor, Quintin Mecke, the 34-year-old program director of the Safety Network, has emerged as Gavin Newsom’s top challenger.
Since declaring his candidacy, the fresh-faced Mecke has been endorsed by almost every significant progressive entity in the city, including supervisors Chris Daly and Ross Mirkarimi, BART board member and Livable City director Tom Radulovich, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the San Francisco Tenants Union, and the Guardian.
"Of all the mayoral candidates, Quintin has the longest record of working in the community and on important issues facing the city," said Daly, who was the first to publicly endorse the Pennsylvania native, shortly after Mecke declared his candidacy in August.
But despite his solid list of endorsers, Mecke hasn’t managed to raise much money. He didn’t come close to taking advantage of the mayoral public financing program created by Mirkarimi and approved by the most liberal members of the Board of Supervisors. Mecke said his late entry made it impossible to raise the required $25,000 (from at least 250 donors who could prove San Francisco residency) by the Aug. 28 deadline.
"Had I had more time, I don’t think raising the $25,000 is that much of a challenge," Mecke, a former Peace Corps volunteer, told the Guardian at the time. But two months later Mecke has only raised $11,203, with Sup. Tom Ammiano and former mayoral contender Matt Gonzalez respectively contributing $250 and $100, although neither has endorsed him yet.
With Newsom sitting on a $1.8 million war chest, Daly admits that it would take a perfect storm for Mecke to win.
"The incumbent would have to stumble between here and the finish line," said Daly, who toyed with running until Aug. 8, at which point Mecke dove into the race, challenging Newsom’s record on public safety, homelessness, and affordable housing issues that Mecke has been intimately involved with since moving here a decade ago.
Mecke’s move to California came shortly after he survived a near-fatal climbing accident in Alaska, which shattered all of his teeth when he fell 40 feet off a glacier. The fall also saddled Mecke, who didn’t have health insurance, with $90,000 in medical bills.
"It was a humbling experience, but people have to take responsibility for the situations they find themselves in," said Mecke, who worked for Ammiano on arriving in San Francisco and has since worked on the Ammiano, Mirkarimi, and Gonzalez campaigns.
Mecke also helped found the South of Market Community Anti-Displacement Coalition, served as president of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, and helped author a report on homelessness that led him to publicly debate then-supervisor Newsom over his Care Not Cash initiative.
"Accountability without support is a form of cruelty," Mecke stated in 2002, a belief he still holds as he tries, as a member of the Homeless Shelter Monitoring committee, to get the city to implement universal shelter standards.
"If you raise the quality of life and safety standards in the city’s shelters, then more homeless people will want to enter them," Mecke said.
Mecke, a Western Addition resident, believes in community-driven responses to crime and violence. While Newsom claims that black-on-black violence has decreased under his administration, Mecke counters that African Americans make up only 7 percent of the city population but constitute 60 percent of the homicide victims. He thinks we need a real community policing program.
"We have 10 fiefdoms, 10 police districts," Mecke said. "That means that the oft-touted and talked about idea of community policing doesn’t really exist."
Newsom campaign manager Eric Jaye claims the only thing he knows about Mecke is that "he opposed Care Not Cash and he is supported by Sup. Chris Daly.
"But his own record? That’s a little bit harder," Jaye continued. "Mecke works for a city-funded nonprofit, but ironically, he’s unhappy with the violence prevention work the city is doing. Presumably he’s running because he thinks he can do a better job, but we’re proud of our progress on universal health care, our work on climate protection, our civic efforts, the fact that the eviction rate has plummeted, and that there’s more housing and affordable housing in the pipeline than [under] any other mayor in recent history."
But Mecke points out that the city’s health care initiative was Ammiano’s brainchild and that Newsom failed to deliver on his "wi-fi for all" promise by stubbornly pushing a flawed proposal and refusing to engage with its critics.
"Newsom’s only successes are initiatives proposed and led by members of the Board of Supervisors," said Mecke, who accuses Newsom of "making every decision within the framework of a national model while promoting some future candidacy."
He faults Newsom for asking for mass resignations this fall and sees the fact that Newsom is raising piles of cash to defeat Proposition E, which would require the mayor to make monthly appearances before the Board of Supervisors, as further evidence of his cowardice.
"San Francisco need to demand of this race that there’s public accountability," Mecke said. "Newsom seems to fear any form of nonscripted public interaction. When you go to his fake Question Timetown hall meetings you don’t actually get to ask the mayor your own question. He selects what he wants to hear."
The harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club meets tonight to consider a parliamentary procedure that could lead to an an early endorsement for state Sen. Carole Migden, who faces a challenge in next June’s primary from Assemblymember Mark Leno. Not surprisingly, the sleaze is flying
We haven’t endorsed in this race, and we won’t until next spring, but I have said, repeatedly, that both sides ought to play fair and keep it clean and try to avoid doing long-term damage to the progressive community. If Migden manages to disenfrancise Leno supporters at Milk, it will be one of those ugly moves that hurts the club’s credibility.
Everyone tries to pack club endorsements. The Milk Club rules are designed to block that, and this may be an unintended consequence. But there are plenty of people who are clearly legit, long-term members of the Milk Club, and if there’s any question about who gets to vote, it ought to be decided in a way that is as democratic as possible.
Migden’s a former club president, and has a lot of strong Milk allies. She’s been a Milk person for years, and Leno has been much more closely allied with the more moderate Alice B. Toklas Club. Migden doesn’t need to play any games here; Leno’s the underdog for this endorsement anyway.
By the way, perhaps the Milk Club members could ask Sen. Migden why she’s so fond of Republican Don Fisher,, and whether she will take the $7,200 he’s given her campaign and turn it over to the Yes on A/ No on H campaign.
And to keep the debate lively, they can ask Assemblymember Leno why he’s so supportive of Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Jim Rivaldo, who was Harvey Milk’s first campaign manager and was involved in progressive politics in San Francisco for more than 30 years, died last night. He was a remarkable guy, a rare political consultant who had high ethics, a real sense of progressive political ideology, and a sweet personality. He never had a mean word to say about anyone.
There’s a good story about him here. I’ll have a lot more this week. Meanwhile, his many friends all over San Francisco miss him.
33 YEARS AGO (OCTOBER 5, 1974)
Dianne Feinstein takes off her gloves
By Katy Butler
White gloves still haunt Dianne Feinstein’s political life. She has been wearing them ever since she first went to dancing class, and fellow politicians have accused her of refusing to take them off for politics. Her old political allies bring up the image again and again: those little white gloves seem to crystallize their irritation with her Pacific Heights femininity, the world of the Junior League, the chauffeur and the Goody Two Shoes approach to politics. In 1971 during her disastrous campaign for Mayor, she did her best to reach beyond her background. She promised a Hunters Point crowd she’d never shuck or jive. But she was still wearing those little white gloves.
The white gloves are off now. Feinstein learned from her 1971 defeat and she doesn’t want to lose this time around. She is jostling with state senators Milton Marks and George Moscone for first place at the starting gate in next year’s Mayor’s race, and she is no longer a political dilettante operating on intuition and integrity.
The new Dianne Feinstein is a canny political animal, assiduously cultivating the "homeowner vote" in the foggy reaches of the Avenues while nursing along her original liberal constituency. "She’s dropped the Goody Two Shoes act and she’s willing to play hardball politics," one of her fellow supervisors says admiringly. "She’s moving toward the center and she’s getting very good advice."
"How can you be for the vice squad, for police helicopters, against nude shows and for gay rights?" asks Harvey Milk, a gay former candidate for supervisor. "It doesn’t add up."
31 YEARS AGO (OCTOBER 8, 1976)
Staggering with Bukowski
By William Graham
The beer, the day, whatever the reason, [poet Charles] Bukowski is not reading well with little enthusiasm, little animation, little inflection in his voice, save the long drawl on certain words. He rarely looks up from his script while reading, as if he hasn’t seen the poems before. Hunched over, his glasses reflect the two spotlights and act as mirrors, blocking the audience from his eyes. At his best he is poetical, distant. At his worst, he is an old man reading the news. And finally the warning, "This is going to be my next-to-last poem." A few say "No, no." Bukowski asks, "Are there any questions?" Again, mixed shoutings answer, a few voices mimic animals, and far from the rear, the high nasal voice says "Bullshit". Bukowski replies, "Lay off that cheeeeeep, rot-gut wine or you’re not going to live a weeeeeeek. If the wine doesn’t get youuuuuuu, I might." The crowd likes this. Shifting gears, the poet says, "Any young girls want my phone number try Joe Wolberg." Several replies follow, many sound dubious, and the poet says, "Okay, Babe-A."
31 YEARS AGO (OCTOBER 8, 1976)
EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES. By Tom Robbins. Houghton-Mifflin, $4.95.
Reviewed by Don McClelland
Tragedy ensues but is softened by the cosmic good humor that shines throughout the book. For this world and its languages, Robbins shows an infectious love that is constantly leading him into literary excesses guaranteed to get him hanged in more proper circles. Didactic, discursive, anthropomorphic, loaded with enough outrageous similes to send a basketful to each poet in the American Academy, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues operates on the refreshing premise that the whole world is alive. This book will make you laugh out loud in the elevator. This book should have champagne and tears spilled on it. This book is Cervantes born again. Thank you, Tom Robbins.
31 YEARS AGO (OCTOBER 29, 1976)
The Film Festival
By Robert Di Matteo
The 20th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival, which was held at the Palace of Fine Arts Oct. 13-24, was another one of those Sacred Monster affairs that exist above and beyond almost anything that can be said about them.
For me, there was the added excitement this year of the Guardian‘s Banned-from-the-Festival status (see Guardian 10/8, 10/22/76). Because of our reporting on the Film Festival last year, the Guardian was not allowed to attend this year’s event on the same basis as the 98 acceptable representatives from the press. But we went ahead and bough some tickets on the sly, and on the nights of the showings I slunk in to take my place in the audience, glancing furtively around to make sure I hadn’t been spotted. As something of a natural-born outsider, I found the role of a party crasher to fit like a glove.
Still, my perspective on the festival has not really changed. I doubt that I could ever really resolve my attitudes about culture to fit the festival’s concept of Culture. Movies are still just movies to me, and charging an extra dollar to see them does not alter that fact.
26 YEARS AGO (NOV. 4, 1981)
From the personal ads:
Plug Me In
Says my refrigerator. Very attractive lesbian who lacks only cooking skills would like sympathetic Jewish woman to offer either her knowledge of the art or dinner for the rest of my life. Write P.O. Box 11528 SF CA 94101
Long hours, no pay. For a good-looking San Francisco man, 29. Qualifications: must be beautiful, intelligent, easygoing. No experience necessary. Please, no Republicans.
WM, 38, angry, depressed, timid, gentle, understanding seeks similarly minded F with whom to wait for Godot and/or etc.
My Marriage Was No Fun
Finally my wife and I figured out that we would be happier if we weren’t together. Since then, I have discovered freedom, but it hasn’t been in single bars. It has been squeezing the toothpaste any way I please, or being able to change plans at the last minute. I am 44, nice-looking, secure, and I would be interested in meeting a woman, younger or older, who would like to share her freedom with me.
I am an R.C. priest who takes his religious calling very seriously. But God also made me a man. I have thought about leaving the Church, but feel that that would be very wrong. God didn’t create us to live half lives, He will understand. While I’m sexually inexperienced, I am attractive, accomplished and sincere. Obviously discretion is a must.
Women Are Taught to Say "No"
This one is happy, bright, and attractive, and she is ready to begin saying "Yes." Now, what are the questions?
Cruising for a Bruising By Jason Shamai
FILM William Friedkin, like it or not, has contributed so much to mainstream queer cinema that it’s remarkable his name primarily calls up images of projectile vomiting and Gene Hackman running a lot. The Boys in the Band (1970) and the more high-profile Cruising (1980) are bookends to a decade of comparatively unencumbered gay sex that is legendary to gay men of my generation (I was alive for a gloriously unencumbered two months of it), yet there was almost no mainstream representation of gay men in pop culture between the two films that didn’t involve guest spots on Match Game or The Hollywood Squares.
Last year’s excellent Friedkin offering, Bug, spent its first 15 minutes or so, gratuitously but innocuously, within a lesbian community. And let’s not forget Father Dyer’s gayer-than-gay proclamation in The Exorcist (1973) that “My idea of heaven is a solid white nightclub with me as a headliner for all eternity, and they love me.” Friedkin’s representations of queer people are hardly consistent in their degrees of sophistication, but the venom he’s inspired in so many activists is certainly excessive and arguably not worth the energy. If he can be accused of exploitation, what he’s exploiting is of no mere passing fascination to him. For some reason the man, whether or not he’s welcome, has clearly thrown in his lot with the queers.
Cruising — let’s just get it out of the way — is a pretty terrible movie in most of the major categories: dialogue, acting, and plot all add up to a big fat blecch, and the restored version playing at the Castro Theatre beginning Sept. 7 in anticipation of the DVD release does nothing to remedy the narrative inertia. The murder mystery it purports to be — regarding an undercover cop’s pursuit of a serial killer in the West Village’s leather-clad S-M scene — is a murky and parenthetical excuse for a series of Boschian tableaux of boot licking, fist fucking, and ass ramming. But beyond a frustrating mess of implications about the scene’s negative influence on Officer Steve Burns (Al Pacino), Friedkin isn’t guilty of much beyond overexuberance.
The initial vitriolic reaction to Cruising, it seems, had more to do with its depiction, embellished a touch, of a significant chunk of the gay world with its legs up in the air. The flatteringly concentrated sexual activity in the bar scenes may be less of an issue nowadays because of the growing number of politically engaged queer people, unconcerned with assimilation and happy to sign off on anything that makes jittery straight people uncomfortable. But does this say enough about the movie’s sexual proclivities? There isn’t much talk about Cruising as a pageant of eroticized violence or as a film eager in its bloodiness for the titillated approval of its viewers. Were Friedkin’s murder scenes — overt visual associations of anal and violent penetration, blood sprayed across the screen in a porn booth — intended as an extension of his conception of S-M play? Would it be wrong for him to do so, or for the audience to be duly turned on?
I’ve always taken for granted that Cruising‘s two major scenes of police harassment were your garden-variety (though highly effective) critiques of injustice, a risk-minimizing way of approaching an unfamiliar culture. But now I’m wondering if these scenes were intended as an indictment of the police at all (was the unnecessarily long, squirm-inducing raid on an all-black bar in The French Connection intended as an indictment?) or if they were simply elaborate fetish scenarios, artistic expansions of the imagery and dynamics already well integrated into the S-M scene? Mr. Friedkin, are you trying to get us off? ——————- ——————-
Stormy Leather by Matt Sussman
When Cruising (1980) finally arrived in Bay Area theaters Feb. 15, 1980, San Francisco’s gay community had long been up in arms. The 1978 murders of Harvey Milk and George Moscone were still fresh in many people’s minds. Gay bashing was still a regular occurrence. Word had spread through the gay press about efforts to disrupt the movie’s filming in New York, and the verdict was clear: Hollywood was profiting from gay murder.
In a December 1979 Oakland Tribune article, Konstantin Berlandt, a member of the group Stop the Movie Cruising and perhaps the film’s most vociferous adversary in local gay rags, called Cruising “a genocidal attack on gay people.” Two months later, the STMC helped organize a demonstration at the Transamerica Pyramid, protesting one of Transamerica’s subsidiaries — the film’s distributor, United Artists. On opening day hundreds of protesters picketed the St. Francis Theatre.
“I don’t remember what I thought of the whole thing other than it was kind of stupid and annoying,” recalls Marc Huestis, one of the cofounders of the city’s Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (now the SF International LGBT Film Festival). “As long as I’ve been here, there has always been the battle between the respectable gays and the fringe gays,” Huestis continues. “The respectable gays — many of whom I will say probably went to the leather bars to cruise after their protests — were all into showing a positive face.”
The issue of positive representation — and whether or not Cruising‘s problematic yoking of gay sadomasochism and serial murder warranted merely protest or outright censorship — was at the core of much of the debate. One reader wrote to San Francisco’s Sentinel, “It is ironic that we who have long been victims of prejudice and censorship should attempt to use these weapons of oppression against the movie.” In a February 1980 cover story, “The Men of Cruising,” in Mandate (the gay “international magazine of entertainment and Eros”), Rod Morgan, one of the gay extras in the film’s bar scenes, commented, “If the protesters want progay propaganda, let them get the money together and make their own movie.”
“The stakes of gay representation were very different at the time,” reflects Michael Lumpkin, artistic director of LGBT media nonprofit Frameline. “They were much higher because it was, like, ‘Hollywood hasn’t given us anything, and then they give us this?’ ” However, critic Scottie Ferguson, writing in the Advocate in April 1980, found a thrilling frisson in Cruising‘s portrayal of gay men and asked readers, “What Hollywood film has made the sexual electricity of the gay male seem so vibrant and visceral and unnerving?”
By 1995, when the Roxie Film Center revived Cruising, Ferguson’s observations had been somewhat vindicated. Mainstream LGBT film was taking off, and thanks to the risky work of directors like Gregg Araki and Tom Kalin, new queer cinema had confronted audiences with visceral and unnerving representations of violence-prone gay men.
In contrast to the largely positive reevaluations in the local press, David Ehrenstein implied in the Bay Area Reporter that the Roxie’s revival was tantamount to screening the notorious anti-Semitic film The Eternal Jew (1940). Representatives from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation showed up to hand out protest literature. “It was hilarious,” former Roxie programmer Elliot Lavine recalls. “There was a line around the block, and 90 percent of those waiting were in the leather crowd, and these GLAAD folks are trying to persuade them not to see the movie.”
Cruising has, to some extent, been defanged by the passage of time, its campier moments and macho signifiers embraced by a younger generation of queers. Clearly, though, the film still touches nerves: flame wars are being ignited as fast as they are being put out on Craigslist.com. And even for this gay fan of slasher movies, the film’s murder scenes are incomparably unsettling.
After a recent local media screening of the restored movie’s DVD release — at which director William Friedkin was present — DJ Bus Station John, whose clubs Tubesteak Connection and the Rod evoke the milieu of gay nightlife at the time Cruising was made, commented in an e-mail that “Friedkin’s present claim that contemporary audiences are more ‘sophisticated’ and therefore more receptive to Cruising, if not more friendly [to the film], doesn’t mitigate the damage done to our community at the time [of its release].”
Sept. 7–13, $6–$9
429 Castro, SF
For Johnny Ray Huston’s interview with Cruising director William Friedkin, go to Pixel Vision at www.sfbg.com/blogs/pixel_vision.
By Tim Redmond
The Examiner’s having fun with front-page headlines today (“Better sit down for this — Muni removes benches”), but my fave is the interview with the co-chair of the Marijuana Offenses Oversight Committee. I’ve known Michael Goldstein, fomrer Harvey Milk Club president, for years, and I don’t think he ever expected to be called the city’s “Top Pot Cop.”
It’s Pride, and I’m going to shamelessly plug something. ‘Tis the season for shameless plugging! Whatever your orientation, take a break from strutting your sizzling stuff soon and visit the GLBT Historical Society on Mission Street (www.glbthistory.org). The archives are a treasure trove, and "Out Ranks," the current exhibition displaying the effects of queer soldiers from World War II through Iraq, is a must-see.
To my mind, the only place gays in the military belong is on a porn DVD definitely not on an aircraft carrier deployed to Kuwait. But there are incredible personal stories in "Out Ranks," scattered among the crisp dress uniforms and bright blue dishonorable discharge papers, many faded to a trendy shade of robin’s egg.
Stories like that of Sylvia Rivera, a transgender woman drafted in 1967 who fought police at Stonewall. Or Helen Harder, a Women’s Army Air Corps member who signed up during WWII with her girlfriend (how hot is that?). The show also contains relics of queer antiwar protests, including a poster of a hunky, half-naked Jesus screaming, "Thou Shalt Not Kill!" Yummy.
Recently, board member Gerard Koskovich gave me a tour of the society’s archives, the largest collection of queer historiana in existence. He showed me underground newsletters for queeny World War I GIs and photo albums of ’70s lesbian weddings. There were boxes of flyers for ancient gay bars like the Anxious Asp and Fickle Pickle, Super 8 reels of street riots and disco dance floors and a container holding Harvey Milk’s bullet-riddled clothing.
"Here’s a gown the first Gay Empress, José Sarria, wore," Gerard said, unfurling a brittle re-creation of Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot ensemble from My Fair Lady. Tears sprang to my eyes. "And that," he said, pointing to a nondescript sewing machine, "is what Gilbert Baker sewed the first Pride flag on."
I lost it. All that fabulousness up close was just too much. I bent down quickly, pretending to tie my shoelaces to hide my exploding sobs.
It was then that I realized I was wearing pumps.
Sequined pumps. Purple sequined pumps. I stared down in astonishment. A pair of leopard-print hose raced up my legs, blooming at my upper thighs into a dazzling Lycra minidress. Enormous pads sprouted from my shoulders, and my hair kinked out into a frizzy bleached mullet. Good lord, I was becoming Sylvester. I was riding a giant mirror ball through space. "Yooou make me feel!<\!s>/ Mii-ighty real!"
It was all a hallucination, of course. Family can make you do that, hallucinate. Love is a drug indeed. And the glittery fabric of history, despite its many bullet holes, still connects us all.*
PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS
“Out with ACT” American Conservatory Theatre, 415 Geary; 749-2228, www.act-sf.or. 8pm, $17.50-$73.50. ACT presents this new series for gay and lesbian theater lovers, including a performance of Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid and a reception with complimentary wine and a meet and greet with the actors. Mention “Out with ACT” when purchasing your tickets.
“Queer Wedding Sweet” Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California; 438-9933, www.jccsf.org/arts. 8pm, $36. The JCCSF presents the West Coast premiere of Queer Wedding Sweet, an “exploration of queer weddings and commitment ceremonies through stories, song, juggling, and comedy.” Featured performers include Adrienne Cooper, Sara Felder, Marilyn Lerner, Frank London, and Lorin Sklamberg.
“Queer Cabaret” Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org. 8pm, $15-20. Big City Improv, Jessica Fisher, and burlesque dancers Shaunna Bella and Claire Elizabeth team up for an evening of queer performance celebrating Pride. Proceeds will go to the Shotgun Players’ Solar Campaign.
“Tea N’ Crisp” Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org. 8pm, $25. Richard Louis James stars as gay icon Quentin Crisp in the Shotgun Players’ production of this Pride Week tribute.
“Here’s Where I Stand” First Unitarian Church and Center, 1187 Franklin, SF; (415) 865-2787, www.sfgmc.org. 8pm, $15-45. The world’s first openly LGBT music ensemble will be kicking off Pride Week with a range of music from Broadway to light classical. Includes performances by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. Concert also takes place same time on Sat/22.
“Thursday Night Live” Eagle, 398 12th St, SF; (415) 625-0880, www.sfeagle.com. 1pm, $10. Support Dykes on Bikes at their 30th anniversary Beer/Soda Bust and catch these glitzy vixens as they share the stage with Slapback.
Veronica Klaus and Her All-Star Band Jazz at Pearl’s, 256 Columbus, SF; (415) 291-8255, www.jazzatpearls.com. 8 and 10pm, $15. The all-star lineup features Daniel Fabricant, Tom Greisser, Tammy L. Hall, and Randy Odell.
“Glam Gender” Michael Finn Gallery, 814 Grove; 573-7328. 7-10pm. This collaboration between photographer Marianne Larochelle and art director Jose Guzman-Colon, a.k.a. Putanesca, kicks off Pride Weekend by celebrating San Francisco’s queer art underground.
Pride Concert Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission. SF; 7 and 9pm, Copresented by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, this 29th annual Pride concert promises to be a gay time for all.
San Francisco Trans March Dolores Park, 18th St and Dolores; 447-2774, www.transmarch.org. 3pm stage, 7pm march; free. Join the transgender community of San Francisco and beyond for a day of live performances, speeches, and not-so-military marching.
Queer Stuff Pride Talent Showcase Home of Truth Spiritual Center, 1300 Grand, Alameda; 1-888-569-2064, www.queerstuffenterprises.com. 7:30pm, $8. This showcase features the music of Judea Eden and Friends, Amy Meyers, and True Magrit, plus the comedy of Karen Ripley.
Dykes on Bikes Fundraiser Eagle, 398 12th St, SF; (510) 712-7739, www.twilightvixen.com. 1pm. Twilight Vixen Revue will perform at the beer bust at the Eagle. Stop by before heading to the march.
LGBT Pride Celebration Civic Center, Carlton B. Goodlett Place and McCallister, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.sfpride.org. Noon-6pm, free. Celebrate LGBT pride at this free outdoor event featuring DJs, speakers, and live music. This is the first half of the weekend-long celebration sponsored by SF Pride. Also Sun/24.
Mission Walk 18th St and Dolores, SF; (503) 758-9313, www.ebissuassociates.com. 11am, free. Join in on this queer women’s five-mile walk through the Mission.
Pink Triangle Installation Twin Peaks Vista, Twin Peaks Blvd parking area, SF; (415) 247-1100, ext 142, www.thepinktriangle.com. 7-11am, free. Bring a hammer and your work boots and help install the giant pink triangle atop Twin Peaks for everyone to see this Pride Weekend. Stay for the commemoration ceremony at 10:30am.
“Remembering Lou Sullivan: Celebrating 20 Years of FTM Voices” San Francisco LGBT Center, Ceremonial Room, 1800 Market, SF; (415) 865-5555, www.sfcenter.org. 6-8pm, free. This presentation celebrates the life of Louis Graydon Sullivan, founder of FTM International and an early leader in the transgender community.
“Qcomedy Showcase” Jon Sims Center, 1519 Mission, SF; (415) 541-5610, www.qcomedy.com. 8pm, $8-15. A stellar cast of San Francisco’s funniest queer and queer-friendly comedians performs.
San Francisco Dyke March Dolores Park, Dolores at 18th St, SF; www.dykemarch.org. 7pm, free. Featuring Music from Binky, Nedra Johnson, Las Krudas, and more, plus a whole lot of wacky sapphic high jinks.
LGBT Pride Celebration Civic Center, Carlton B. Goodlett Place and McCallister, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.sfpride.org. Noon-7pm, free. The celebration hits full stride, with musical performances and more.
LGBT Pride Parade Market at Davis to Market at Eighth St, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.sfpride.org. 10:30am-noon, free. With 200-plus dykes on bikes in the lead, this 36th annual parade, with an expected draw of 500,000, is the highlight of the Pride Weekend in the city that defines LGBT culture.
CLUBS AND PARTIES
“Gay Pride in the Mix” Eureka Lounge, 4063 18th St, SF; (415) 431-6000, e.stanfordalumni.org/clubs/stanfordpride/events.asp. 7-9pm, no cover. An intercollegiate LGBT mixer in an upscale environment, with drink and appetizer specials available. Alumni from Ivy League and Seven Sisters schools, Stanford, MIT, and UC Berkeley welcome.
Hellraiser Happy Hour: “Pullin’ Pork for Pride” Pilsner Inn, 225 Church, SF; (415) 621-7058. 5:30-8pm, free. The Guardian‘s own Marke B. will be pullin’ pork and sticking it between hot buns with the help of the crew from Funk N Chunk. You might win tickets to the National Queer Arts Festival, but really, isn’t having your pork pulled prize enough?
“A Celebration of Diversity” Box, 628 Divisadero, SF. 9pm-2am, $20. Join Page Hodel for the return of San Francisco’s legendary Thursday night dance club the Box for one night only, sucka!
Crack-a-Lackin’ Gay Pride Mega Party Crib, 715 Harrison, SF; (415) 749-2228. 9:30pm-3am, $10. Features live stage performances and, according to the press release, “tons of surprises.” I’m not sure how much a surprise weighs, so I don’t know how many surprises it takes to add up to a ton. It’s one of those “how many angels fit on the head of a pin?” things.
“Gay Disco Fever” Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. 9pm-2am. I can’t figure out who does what at this event. Courtney Trouble and Jenna Riot are listed as hosts, and Campbell and Chelsea Starr are the DJs, which I guess makes drag king Rusty Hips “Mr. Disco” and Claire and Shaunna the “Disco Queens.” It takes a village to raise a nightclub. That’s a whole lotta fabulousness under one roof.
“Girlezque SF” Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; www.myspace.com/girlezquesf. 9pm, $10-15. This supposedly sophisticated burlesque party for women features the erotic stylings of AfroDisiac, Sparkly Devil, Rose Pistola, and Alma, with after-party grooves by DJ Staxx. Hopefully, it’s not too sophisticated &ldots;
Pride Party Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. 9pm-2am, free. Make this no-cover throwdown your first stop as you keep the march going between the numerous after-parties.
Bustin’ Out II Trans March Afterparty El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; (415) 510-677-5500. 9pm-2am, $5-50, sliding scale. Strut your stuff at the Transgender Pride March’s official after-party, featuring sets from DJs Durt, Lil Manila, and Mel Campagna and giveaways from Good Vibes, AK Press, and more. Proceeds benefit the Trans/Gender Variant in Prison Committee.
Cockblock SF Pride Party Fat City, 314 11th St, SF; (415) 568-8811. 9pm, $6. DJs Nuxx and Zax spin homolicious tunes and put the haters on notice: no cock-blockin’ at this sweaty soiree.
“GIRLPRIDE” Sound Factory, 525 Harrison, SF; (415) 647-8258. 9pm-4am, $20. About 2,500 women are expected to join host Page Hodel to celebrate this year’s Pride Weekend, and that’s a whole lotta love.
Mr. Muscle Bear Cub Contest and Website Launch Party Lone Star Saloon, 1354 Harrison, SF; (415) 978-9986. 11pm, $19.95. Join contestants vying for the title of spokesmodel of Muscle Bear Cub. The winner receives $500 cash and a lifetime supply of Bic razors. Don’t shave, Bear Cub! Don’t you ever shave!
Uniform and Leather Ball SF Veterans War Memorial, 401 Van Ness, Green Room, SF; www.sfphx.org. 8pm-midnight, $60-70. The men’s men of the Phoenix Uniform Club want you to dress to the fetish nines for this 16th annual huge gathering, featuring Joyce Grant and the City Swing Band and more shiny boots than you can lick all year. Yes, sirs!
“Old School Dance” Cafè Flore, 2298 Market at Noe, SF; (415) 867-8579. 8pm-2am, free. Get down old-school style at the Castro’s annual Pink Saturday street party, with sets from DJs Ken Vulsion and Strano, plus singer Moon Trent headlining with a midnight CD release party for Quilt (Timmi-Kat Records).
Pride Brunch Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market, SF; (415) 777-0333, www.positiveresource.org. 11am-2pm, $75-100. Honor this year’s Pride Parade grand marshals: four hunky cast members from the TV series Noah’s Arc; Marine staff sergeant Eric Alva, the first American wounded in Iraq; and Jan Wahl, Emmy winner and owner of many funky hats.
“Puttin’ on the Ritz” San Francisco Design Center Galleria, 101 Henry Adams, SF; (650) 343-0543, www.puttinontheritzsf.com. 8pm-2am, $85. Bump your moneymaker at this all-lady event. Incidentally, the performer who brought “Puttin’ on the Ritz” back to popularity on early ’80s MTV was none other than Taco.
“Queen” Pier 27, SF; www.energy927fm.com. 9pm, $45. Energy 92.7 brings back the dynamism of the old-school San Francisco clubs for this Pride dance-off. Peaches and Princess Superstar headline. Wear your best tear-away sweats and get ready to get down, Party Boy style.
“Rebel Girl” Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; wwww.rebelgirlsf.com. 9pm-2am, $10. Rebel Girl brings the noise for this one, with go-go dancers, Vixen Creations giveaways, drink specials, and, you know, rebel girls.
“Sweat Special Pride Edition” Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-205, www.lexingtonclub.com. 9pm-2am, free. DJ Rapid Fire spins you right round round with a sweaty night of dancing and grinding.
Dykes on Bikes Afterparty Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. Noon, free. How do they find time to ride with all these parties?
“Gay Pride” Bambuddha Lounge, 601 Eddy, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.juanitamore.com. 3pm, $25. Juanita More! hosts this benefit for the Harvey Milk City Hall Memorial, with a DJs Derek B, James Glass, and fancy-pants New York City import Kim Ann Foxman. It also includes an appearance from silicone wonder Miss Gina LaDivina. Fill ‘er up, baby!
“Pleasuredome Returns” Porn Palace, 942 Mission, SF; (415) 820-1616, www.pleasuredomesf.com. 9pm, $20. You have to get tickets in advance for the onetime reopening of the dome in the Porn Palace’s main dungeon room. When you’re done dancing, visit the jail, bondage, or barn fantasy rooms and make that special someone scream “Sooo-eeeee!”
And now Matt Smith and the SF Weekly/New Times/Village Voice Media claim the progressives were soft on AIDS. Where in the world do they get this stuff?
By Bruce B. Brugmann
I always read Matt Smith, the star columnist of the SF Weekly/New Times/Village Voice Media, with interest. But he often puzzles me. For example, in his column of May 30, he was banging away at his favorite target, those dread progressives, (“Lacking (Progressive) Definition, Lefty factions and a phony convention do not an effective political party make”). And he dropped this puzzling nugget:
“For more than a generation (liberals have been) opposing growth, while snubbing traditional liberal causes such as uplifting gays or African-Americans.
“When San Franciscans, for example, were dying en masse from AIDS during the l980s, progressives’ minds were more preoccupied with opposing ‘Manhattanization,’ the term they coined for new office buildings. Today, when African-Americans in the Bayview District are losing their sons, nephews, friends, and neighbors to drug-related
street violence, progressives’ official political pamphlet is concerned primarily with enacting a moratorium on construction of market-rate apartments.”
The truth, as anyone who was here and had friends and loved ones dying of AIDS knows, the progressives in San Francisco put together a world-renowned system for caring for people with AIDS and pressing for prevention and research funding. The ‘San Francisco Model’ did not come from Washington or Sacramento or Dianne Feinstein. The progressives, led by people like Harry Britt and Cleve Jones and leaders of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club etc., did it themselves. Progressives did, indeed, oppose Manhattanization (and fight for rent control and police oversight and a lot of other good causes) in that era, but AIDS was very much a centerpiece of the progressive agenda.
By Tim Redmond
So much going on right now in the local political world — and some of it so ephemeral.
Chris Daly’s progressive convention is June 2, coming right up, and we still don’t have a candidate for mayor. Matt Gonzalez gives an interview to BeyondChron and says he’s not ruling out a run, but won’t be making any announcement in time for the June 2 event. Will anyone? Or is this going to be a convention without a candidate?
The 08 supes races, on the other hand, are heating up and full of candidates. Cecilia Chung just announced she’s running in district 11, creating the possibility for a fascinating bit of history: As Chung just told me, It will be 30 years next fall since the assissination of Harvey Milk, and his killer, Dan White, represented what is now D-11. Electing a transgender woman from that district would make big national news.
And in District Nine, Police Commission member David Campos is clearly running to replace Tom Ammiano, as is housing activist Eric Quezada, who will have a kick-off event at Galleria de la Raza June 1.
By Steven T. Jones
Last night’s annual dinner of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club was a truly memorable event that stands as testament to the strength, vitality, depth, and verve of this city’s progressive movement. Political events can be deathly boring, but not this one, not with back-to-back speeches by Senator Carole Migden and Assembly member Mark Leno (who is running for Migden’s seat), presidential candidate Mike Gravel hitting the most progressive themes of his field, masseur Mike Jones talking about how and why he outed the closeted Rev. Ted Haggard, Sup. Chris Daly being honored for his work on affordable housing, the irrepressible Donna Sachet serving as MC, a snappy and well-produced ensemble musical tribute to the Summer of Love, and a crowd full of notables.
By Steven T. Jones
Environmentalists and alternative transportation activists are winning some key endorsements in the run up to next month’s second annual Healthy Saturdays showdown. Mayor Gavin Newsom vetoed the Golden Gate Park road closure to cars last year and doesn’t seem interested is pushing for a compromise on a measure he criticizes as too polarizing (ironically, his detachment from the issue is precisely what’s feeding the polarization). But last year’s swing vote on overrriding the veto, Sup. Bevan Dufty, has indicated an openness to supporting it this year. And that became all the more likely last night when the San Francisco Democratic Party County Central Committee (DCCC) endorsed the measure. They join other key Dufty allies in endorsing the measure, including the Harvey Milk Democratic Club and Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, as well as the Young Democrats club and both Senate contenders: Mark Leno and Carole Migden. The first committee hearing on the measure is April 9.
Invoking the spirit of George Moscone and Harvey Milk "so that we may be worthy of their powerful legacy," Assemblymember Mark Leno announced his candidacy March 2 for the State Senate seat now held by Carole Migden, setting off a high-profile fight between the two for the Democratic Party nomination next year.
"Welcome to democracy in action. Welcome to people power," Leno told the large crowd that gathered under the warm noontime sun at Yerba Buena Gardens, adjacent to the Martin Luther King Memorial and Moscone Center with its rooftop array of solar panels, which Leno said he will work to bring to more buildings.
MCing the event was Assessor Phil Ting, who praised Leno’s efforts to legalize same-sex marriage and said, "That’s the kind of leadership and integrity we deserve in San Francisco." District Attorney Kamala Harris then told the crowd, "I stand here in strong and unequivocal support for Mark Leno."
Among the other local notables on hand to support Leno were Fiona Ma, Susan Leal, Laura Spanjian, Julian Davis, Kim-Shree Maufas, Hydra Mendoza, Norman Yee, Lawrence Wong, Donna Sachet, Theresa Sparks, James Hormel, Natalie Berg, Bob Twomey, Jose Medina, August Longo, Linda Richardson, Calvin Welch, Jordanna Thigpen, Leah Shahum, Tom Radulovich, David Wall, Tim Gaskin, Esperanza Macias, and Espanola Jackson.
Notably absent were all the members of the Board of Supervisors, but it’s still very early in a campaign that is bound to be heated. (Steven T. Jones)
By Tim Redmond
Already, I’m hearing whistpers from both sides of the Leno-Migden contest, and already, they’re getting nasty. Mark Leno told me this week that he will run an upbeat campaign, and that any negative attacks on Midgen “won’t come from me.” I suspect I will hear the same from Migden. But it’s common in campaigns for elected officials to try to take the high road and let others — their allies and suppoerters — do the dirty work.
So queer/labor activist Robert Haaland is asking not only the candidates, but their supporters in the queer and progressive communities, to pledge to keep this fight out of the gutter. Here’s a piece he sent me; I think everyone ought to read it, take it seriously, and sign on.
Our community was divided. Our LGBT clubs were separated. The streets of the Castro were full of opposing forces and consternation. During the 2001-2002 campaign for the 13th Assembly District seat, we were split and it was a difficult time.
Following that election campaign, we made a decision to begin the process of healing those divisions. The leaders of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, and the leaders of the campaigns, met together to salve these wounds and form a new alliance. This was not easy. It took years and much work within each to heal, listen, understand, and move forward together.
In the years since that election, our community has been in a renaissance. Our two LGBT Democratic Clubs have worked together like never before. We have seen tremendous and amazing accomplishments through those efforts. Our coordinated efforts as a community in opposition to the statewide Special Election in 2005 are an astounding example of what we can do when we work together.
Additionally, as efforts have moved forward in the LGBT community on issues such as marriage equality on the stairs of our City Hall, opposing racial discrimination in the Castro, speaking out against anti-LGBT commentary from the news media about our LGBT families, supporting statewide efforts for the advancement of our LGBT rights, and stopping attacks from the right-wing on our community, we have been able to work side-by-side in a way that was unthinkable during the 2001-2002 campaign.
This newfound coordination and organization between our Clubs and within our community has been crucial in working for the betterment and strength of our community as a whole. And we will not allow this community to be torn asunder again. Our friendships are too strong now. Our knowledge of the power of our coordinated efforts and their success is too deep. And our realization that we can move beyond minor disagreements and continue forward as friends and colleagues and community brothers and sisters is definite.
As our community begins the process of working on the upcoming state Senate campaign for June of 2008, we will not allow this to break our bonds. We demand that the candidates in the race do the following:
–Pledge that there will be no negative campaigning, against each other or supporters on any side
–Pledge that they individually will work to strengthen our community’s ties with one another
–Pledge that they will not work to form wedges and divisions among us as a community
–Pledge that they will regularly form bonds with all sides in the campaign
–Pledge respect, honor, decency, and above all, civility, towards all parties
We also urge our community’s leaders to pledge that they do the same. Regardless of anyone’s personal affiliations during this campaign, we will continue to form our alliances and friendships and move this community forward together. We are not going back. We have too much to gain by moving forward together.
By Steven T. Jones
Invoking the spirit of George Moscone and Harvey Milk “so that we may be worthy of their powerful legacy,” Assembly member Mark Leno today announced his candidacy for the Senate seat now held by Carole Migden, setting off a high-profile fight between the two for the Democratic Party nomination next year. “Welcome to democracy in action. Welcome to people power,” Leno told the large crowd that gathered under the warm noontime sun at Yerba Buena Gardens, adjacent to the Martin Luther King Memorial and Moscone Center, with its rooftop array of solar panels that Leno said he will work to bring to more buildings. MCing the event was Assessor Phil Ting, who introduced District Attorney Kamala Harris, who told the crowd, “I stand here in strong and unequivocal support for Mark Leno.” Among the other local notables on hand to support Leno were Fiona Ma, Susan Leal, Laura Spanjian, Julian Davis, Kim-Shree Maufis, Hydra Mendoza, Norman Yee, Lawrence Wong, Donna Sachet, Theresa Sparks, James Hormel, Natalie Berg, Randy Shaw, Bob Twomey, Jose Medina, August Longo, Linda Richardson, Calvin Welch, Jordanna Thigpen, Leah Shahum, Tom Radulovich, Melissa Dodd, David Wall, Tim Gaskin, Esperanza Macias, and Espanola Jackson. Notably absent were any members of the Board of Supervisors, but it’s still very early in a campaign that is bound to get heated.
Oh! What a web of tangled flesh we postbohemian, rapidly gentrifying, pandemic-aware, pre-spray-on-condom and mint-flavored chewable RU-486 San Francitizens weave! Folks still trot out the ol’ misty-eyed cynicisms: romance is dead, sex is boring, love is impossible, "I’m too fat"…. But that doesn’t stop ’em from doing it until their knees ache when they get the winky come-on (or hoping for Mr. or Ms. Right to ease the tax burden). Sure, in the age of the Internetz, sex is now a shopping trip just log on for huge fake tits (aisle four), smart-mouthed ghettosexuals (aisle six), muffin tops gon’ wild (aisle nine), or guys who inject a gallon of saline into their shaved balls (clean up, aisle five). No need to be a bitch or a ho you’re already both on the webcam, dude. Don’t forget your password.
But still. Love exists, right? Christina Aguilera tells us so. And love leads to sex. Or to real sex. Or the other way around. Something. And don’t even ask about the whole monogamy thing! Can’t it all be easier? Aren’t we robots yet? No, not yet. For good or ill we live in a magical place where impulse meets emotion in technology’s dark corner and heads upstairs with it to a small room marked "free love" ($29 an hour) leaving behind a trail of used rubbers, hopefully. Below we delve into the sex-and-romance pros and cons of some especially San Franciscan things. Maybe it’ll help make things a little clearer. Maybe!
BEING A STRAIGHT GIRL
Carrie Bradshaw, Marissa Cooper, and Dr. Meredith Grey have their trumped-up Trumps, Shin-die schlubs, and Doc McDreamys, but what do so many straight, single women get in the Bay bohemia otherwise known as America’s gay mecca? Commitmentphobic Peter Panders, crusty granola cronies who only cruise twentysomethings, workaholic geeks who seldom see the light of day (apart from the blazing orbs of Burning Man), and windburned adventurers with a never-ending thirst to mountain bike, lick that downward dog, and hike the closest REI. Face it: single straight sistahs have the toughest lot in this town. A 2004 San Francisco magazine story estimated that unmarried straight 20- to 44-year-old SF men outnumbered their female counterparts by about 12,000. But I bet most eligible gals feel nay, know that the ratio is weighted in the dudes’ favor. It doesn’t help that years of STD- and AIDS-inspired social conservatism seem to have spurred peeps and perps to hook up early and less often despite our fair city’s freewheeling rep when it comes to sex roles, relationships, and gender politics. San Francisco’s single chicks sometimes find themselves wondering, "Whatever happened to dating? Where did everyone go? Is it my breath?" When one male friend told me his ex’s claim that she’s dating multiple fellahs in various NorCal cities, my bullshit detector started honking. Tell it to all the attractive, smart, independent, and nubile femme singletons I know who are sitting home Saturday nights.
Pros: Never having to worry about getting macked on at guycentric sports events, shows, and construction sites. Women are always free at the Power Exchange. There’s sisterhood in desperation. You can always join a girl gang and accost hapless men walking alone in dark parking lots. That yawning bore across the table is looking better every sec.
Cons: Dating. Shooting down poseurs who are into shopping for the pick of the litter. Resigning yourself to your anemic online-dating shopping options. And how depressing is it to go to a sex club by yourself? That yawning bore across the table is looking better every sec. (Kimberly Chun)
BEING A STRAIGHT GUY
I worked security at the Endup for four years. As a straight guy, I found myself jealous of my gay compatriots out there on the dance floor, nuts to butts, letting it all hang out. Obviously, gay men have committed, complicated, and drama-filled relationships too. But boys will be boys, and it seemed things were so much simpler and, pardon the pun, more straightforward for gay guys in San Francisco. Less of a mating ritual and more mating. It’s the classic straight guy’s lament: if women acted like dudes, I’d be getting laid right now. Or, as Michael Dean once said in a Bomb song, "The girl that I miss is just me in a dress." Still, after 15 years in San Francisco, I’m starting to see the bonuses of being single, straight, and not so young in a city known worldwide for Rice-a-Roni, sourdough bread, and buffed-out, hunky young gay guys.
Pros: At 35, I may actually be starting to enjoy dating. No one’s lugging around that "my heart was broken, and I can’t go through that again" cross anymore. We’re all adults here, and like the young, restless, and gay, we’ve gotten in touch with our biological needs. Thirtysomething Bay City rollers know they need to get off and they don’t have to meet their soul mate to do it. Sure, the roller coaster of love is one hell of a ride, but sometimes it’s enough to get Indian food, hit a bar with a good jukebox, rent a movie, go home, and fuck.
Cons: People really do get married. Which means the thirtysomething dating pool shrinks and you can end up dating someone younger. This might seem like a pro, until you try to make a pop culture reference on a date and hear crickets chirp. There’s not a lot of eye-to-eye going on when your love interest ejects Mania, by the Vibrators, to put on Green Day. (Duncan Scott Davidson)
BEING A QUEER
Oh, the burden! Straight guys think you get laid more than them. Straight girls think you get laid more than them. Both of them think you like turtlenecks and cologne. It’s horrifying! And history! Here you are over the rainbow, in the fiercely romantic-looking burg all those haters in high school screeched at you to move to, and you’re scrounging for any bit of affection you can find among the forest of online profiles and the coral reef of lopsided haircuts. Plus you’ve got billboards screaming "AIDS!" in your face on every corner. It’s enough to drive a lonely fag to the gym or a dyke to the (one) bar, if that weren’t just as fucked-up a defense mechanism as huddling with your old Smiths EPs and a tankard of Merlot in your cubby. But c’mon, at least you can walk home from your trick’s house….
Pros: Be all you can be! Journey of discovery! There’s a new opportunity around every corner. The hottest FTMs on the face of the planet. Boys aren’t wearing so much product as in 2002. Being the envy of the gay world. Invisible lipstick lesbians. Trash drag. Crystal meth played out (pretty much). Domestic partnership laws (if only …). Gay love is real (ask your serial monogamous friends). Hey, at least it’s not Chelsea!
Cons: Too many to choose from. No need to grow up. Too many bottoms. Ever-present feeling you should get more tattoos or is that trying too hard? Everyone wants to be your fag hag. Monogamous or "negotiated"? Holier-than-thou activists, hotter-than-thou street life. "What if I’m really straight?" Knowing everyone’s as shy as you but not being able to do anything about it. (Marke B.)
OUR PLAYBOY MAYOR
What a difference a few screaming headlines make. Throw in a Scientology siren, underage cocktail gulpers, and a couple plowed society babes with fiercely straightened fright wigs and outta-hand cheekbones and ya got yerself a mayor! All we need are some flesh-eating pigs and anesthesia-free surgery to dub this the return of the wild, wild, perhaps very wild, especially when tanked, west a Deadwood of sorts, if that didn’t imply a kind of flaccid fumbling. Nonetheless, let’s call it the latest in a grand tradition of San Francisco’s romantic and sexual politico-explorers from days of yore from Harvey Milk to Willie Brown that we have Mayor Gavin Newsom finally unchained from his legal-eagle Victoria’s Secret model missus and free to allegedly cruise Cow Hollow’s finer drinking establishments after hours, as rumor has long had it. Oh, the list is long and ever growing: encompassing the CSI: Miami starlet and the city mag editor eager to vet her boy’s cover pic alike. Now comes the real test of testosterone: whether Newsom can summon that ironclad Clintonesque charm to weather the latest scandal. My question for the Gavinator: what are you doing for Valentine’s Day?
Pros: The ever-changing cast of hotties at parties and photo ops sure dresses up society pages. No more tacky Harper’s Bazaar fashion spreads. Plenty of heavily gelled, aerodynamic-looking helmet hair. The notion of a Scientologist mayor clears rooms. We can now use that hallowed line, "Is that your Plump Jack or are you just excited to see me?" Feeling privy to the secret life of frat boys. He’s never boring.
Cons: Kennedy comparisons are starting to grate. Clinton comparisons are starting to chafe. And there’s too much chafing in general. The ever-changing cast of hotties is starting to resemble a sale crowd riding the revolving door at Neiman. Paris Hilton?! And we won’t be shocked to see Britney Spears stumbling out of a mayoral Four Seasons suite next. He’s so predictably not boring that it’s starting to get tiresome. (Kimberly Chun)
You see them everywhere but mainly on the Muni and at medical marijuana rallies. Some of them look saintly but a little crazed, as if they see a spaceship in your hair. Others resemble your sexy-yet-matronly high school French teacher, smiling indulgently but always ready to rap your knuckles with a day-old baguette if you get your future perfects wrong. Still others seem like they can’t wait to explode with rage at … well, anything, really. All of them are lovable in a historical light. When they’re off their meds not so much. They’re living monuments to the golden age of free love, and, as medical science advances and rent-control laws stand, they’re not going away anytime soon. (Can young people afford to move here anymore anyway?) They also have a world of sensual knowledge to impart.
Pros: Mother figures, father figures, lusty lovers, spiritual guides these Baudelairean kickers against the pricks can do it all and they bake a mean hash brownie to get it all started. Plus: years of experimentation have made them freaky. You may have to crank up the solar defibrillator, but they’re experts in how to "get your motor running."
Cons: Occasional bad-trip flashbacks. Always slightly wary. Strawberry-scented oxygen tanks. Pillow talk = Allen Ginsberg stories. Hairy. Half tantric. Forgot if they put out candles. Ponytail or braid can get caught in teeth. (Marke B.)
BURNING MAN FLINGS
Burning Man is a sexual and emotional cauldron. Liberally mix together a world of sensory delights, a spirit of reckless abandon, beautiful exposed bodies everywhere, sudden sandstorms that send you scurrying into the nearest tent or trailer, countless peak experiences, exposure to a myriad of lifestyles and communities, and 40,000 people with time on their hands, goodwill in their hearts, and lust in their loins, and it’s no surprise that people end up hooking up left and right. This place oozes sexual energy while stripping away our emotional defenses and leaving us exposed to Cupid’s arrows.
Pros: Whatever you want, it’s here, often with no strings attached. When people come back from the playa all blissed-out and saying how it changed their lives, that’s usually not just the drugs talking. People do things they wouldn’t do in the everyday world and then they do it again and again. And if you follow the sound advice of veteran burners to leave your expectations at home and just be open to the experience, then you’re also in the ideal place to not just get laid but truly find love. Believe it or not, I know of lots of lasting, loving marriages between people who met on the playa.
Cons: All the things that make Burning Man so conducive to sex and romance can also create problems. People get emotionally splayed by the often overwhelming nature of daily life on the playa. They’re vulnerable to everything from small slights that get exaggerated to the predators who invariably exist in any town. Couples get tested. Singles can at times feel lonely and desperate. Everybody has a few hard mornings after. And as a practical matter, dust gets everywhere and I mean everywhere. (Steven T. Jones)
The Bay has a long and luxuriously twisted history of female sexual empowerment, full of Brights, Queens, Dodas, Califias, Blanks, Chos, and other sparkling heroines of don’t-do-it-and-die philosophy some of whom have gone on to become heroes, even. The two major, classic phalanxes of gyno-horno-positivism to have arisen from the mists of all that groundwork are the Lusty Lady and Good Vibrations. The Lady, currently a worker-owned stripper co-op, has been baring a broad variety of intelligent, worldly-wise physical types for almost 30 years, and Good Vibrations, a women-centered chain of erotica shops that offer a plethora of workshops and training sessions for both women and men, has helped make vibrators the Tupperware of the new millennium. Despite the ubiquity of silicone enhancements and Girls Gone Wild antics in today’s culture, the Lusty Lady and Good Vibrations try to keep it real by focusing on the pleasures inherent in strong, natural femininity. In an era when guys are being forced like never before to question their physical attributes and sexual virility, thanks to size-queen porn and erectile dysfunction spam, the gals who’ve had to deal with that kind of shit forever may have a bit of an upper hand, self-image-wise, thanks in part to these two affirming San Francisco institutions. Not that it’s a competition.
Pros: Lusty Lady’s the best place to take your gay friends for a fabulous girls’ night out. Everything I know about labias I learned from Good Vibrations.
Cons: I have to hand-wash all my plates because my dishwasher’s usually full of Good Vibrations dildos. I have to hand-wash all my clothes because I spend all my quarters in the booths at the Lusty Lady. (Marke B.)
PORN AND TECHNOLOGY
Right up the Peninsula from Silicon Valley, we find ourselves in techie heaven. Most of the global advances in online technology burst first and foremost from our fertile area. The bust and boom that locked the Bay in a violent coital grasp in the early ’00s exhausted us, but Web 2.0’s got us all atingle again. This time we’re sure we won’t make the same mistakes. We’ll keep it social, we’ll keep it personal. Most of all, we’ll keep it sexual. Thanks to advances in digital production and online distribution and our wondrously pervy nature (not to mention our desirable market) the porn industry in San Francisco has exploded. The city is now home to a majority of the biggest gay porn companies and quite a few straight and fetish ones.
The most barefaced manifestation of the lucrative intersection of porn and technology is the purchase of the ginormous Armory in the Mission by fetish header Kink.com to house its offices, studios, and online operations. (Personally, I can’t wait for them to open a Kink Café in there as well. St. Andrew’s croissandwich, anyone?) This may be a harbinger of things to come. We’re not exactly holding our collective breath for Bang Bus to take over the LucasArts HQ in the Presidio or for the former Candlestick Park to be rechristened Naked Sword Arena but hey, it could happen. Alas, the fortuitous marriage of porn and technology may be about to hit the skids. Hi-def can reveal a whole lot of ass pimples and nipple lifts Blu-ray killed the porn star? Then again, it might just provide more employment opportunities for digital touch-up artists. "Hey, man, what’s your new gig?" "I’m rastarizing Busty Fillips’s underarm stretch marks full-time, plus benefits." Local HMOs are lining up.
The ever-rising tide of digital wonders raises more sensual and sensitive boats than porn, however. While no one’s yet perfected the vibratorcell phone (what ringtone would I put on that? Oh yeah, Beyoncé), rest assured that some little tech elf is working fiendishly away in his or her bright pink laboratory to bring that dream to fruition. Which brings us to the new iPhone. It may not be dildo-ready, exactly watch that touch screen! but some of its romantic applications were immediately apparent on its unveiling here in January. What other piece of handheld technology allows a person to be rejected in so many different medias at once? Now when you want to break up with someone, you can call them, text them, and e-mail them all at the same time. Plus, you can share a break-up song on iTunes with them and even throw in a YouTube clip of yourself gently weeping to show how torn up you are inside (clip must be less than 10 minutes in duration and not imitative of copyrighted material). Send a slide show! Skype an e-card! Use PayPal to buy them a "Just Got iDumped" mug on eBay! The possibilities are infinite.
Now if only there were software that could mend a broken heart. Sigh.
Pros: Online hookups? No problem: anywhere, anytime. You don’t have to be physically present to enjoy an entire relationship. Everyone’s a winner: people unable to afford the latest gadget or upgrade get to feel more real. Soon everyone in the city will have a job at Kink.com.
Cons: Much of the Bay population is more interested in staying up all night with a two-liter of Coke, a cold pizza, and a roomful of servers than a warm body. Web 2.0 has brought a horny flood of freshly flush Googlers, Tubers, Diggers, ‘Spacers, and Mac heads on the make to already packed and overpriced Mission bars (watch for those hybrid Tundras parked on the median). You will literally go blind if you jack off to video iPod porn in the bathroom stall at work that screen’s so small! Soon everyone in San Francisco will have a job at Kink.com. (Marke B.)
By Tim Redmond
The news that I knew was coming is now apparently official: according toFog City Journal, Assemblymember Mark Leno announced at the Harvey Milk Club holiday party that he will, indeed, challenge state Senator Carole Migden in 2008.
It’s going to be a wild ride.
Already, the shit is flying: Migden, Luke Thomas reports, said that Leno is “a little nuttly, and he’s out of a job. What else is he going to do?”
But whatever you say about Mark Leno, he isn’t “nutty.” And he’s not afraid to go on the attack. When Leno ran for Assembly against former Sup. Harry Britt, the campaign hired a researcher to run down every missed vote in Britt’s career, and put up signs saying “where was Harry?”
Migden endorsed Britt. So did we.
But this time, the race won’t come down to a typical left v. center contest, the way Britt-Leno was was back then. Leno has moved quite a bit to the left, and will fight Migden agressively for every endorsement.
But before it becomes a mud fest, I want to hear both of the candidates tell me: Where do they disagree on real issues?
I hope that’s not too much to ask.
By Tim Redmond
Well, the info I picked up last night was a bit off; Matier and Ross haven’t run anything yet on the poll Mark Leno has done to evaluate his chances in a possible race against Carole Migden for state Senate in 2008.
But word about the race is all over town. The BAR checked in today with a story by Matthew S. Bajko discussing the race and quoting Leno confirming that he’ll make a decision early in 2007. Bajko suggests that the race
“would almost certainly reopen old wounds not only between the formerly close allies but also between the city’s two LGBT Democratic clubs. The clubs came down on different sides in the bitterly contested Leno-Britt race, and it took several years for the clubs to improve their relationship. The race also soured Migden and Leno’s relationship; Migden had backed Britt as her choice to replace her in the Assembly.”
I’m not so sure it breaks down that simply. Leno is now much more popular with the left-leaning Harvey Milk LGBT Club than he was five years ago, and Migden is, frankly, a bit hard to define politically these days. I think there would be progressives on both sides of this one, and the LGBT community would be split along unusual lines.
Only about half the district is in San Francisco, and the rest in in Marin and Sonoma counties, where Leno is almost unknown (and where politics, while heavily Democratic, tend to be a bit less liberal than SF). So both candidate will have to establish some moderate credentials.
But in the end, the left in San Francisco will play a key, perhaps decisive role in the race. And it’s anybody’s guess how that plays out in the end.
For example, let’s take a wild (and unlikely) scenario: Leno is clearly supporting Mayor Gavin Newsom. Suppose a left-identified candidate like Matt Gonzalez takes on Newsom — and Migden decides to join up against the mayor. How many of Leno’s left allies does that peel off?
Another wild card: Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez is pushing a measure that would modify Leigslative term limits, perhaps to allow 12 years of service in any one house. Now think about this: If (as expected) the Legislature moves the California presidential primary to early 2008, but leaves the remaining state primaries in June (and that’s the likely scenario right now), Nunez’s measure could be on a January, 2008 ballot — and if it passes, Leno could then file to run again for his Assembly seat in June. (And I think he would; Leno doesn’t have his heart set on the state Senate right now. He just loves politics, and doesn’t want to be out of office.)
Which would mean Leno wouldn’t run against Migden — but would also mean that Sup. Tom Ammiano, who has announced he will seek Leno’s seat, would be SOL.
Of course, if the Nunez plan fails, and Leno runs against Migden, since Leno will then support Ammiano for the Assembly seat, perhaps Migden recruits a candidate (Chris Daly?) to run against Ammiano. Which would really not be pretty.
But hey: Maybe Bush and Cheney will be impeached, making Nancy Pelosi the president, and Leno can run for her Congressional seat. Wheee.