Immigration battle at the DCCC


By Tim Redmond
The issue before the Democratic
County Central Committee tonight is immigration, and delegates will face a pair of conflicting resolutions. In reality, though, the two resolutions are a referendum on the city’s — that is, mayor Newsom’s — shift in immigration policy.

The milder, watered-down measure is sponsored by Scott Wiener, one of the centrist leaders on the DCCC, and more-or-less endorses what Newsom has been doing. His consponsors are Connie O’Connor, Mary Jung, Arlo Hale Smith, and Matt Tuchow.

The competing measure takes not-so-subtle issue with City Hall’s position and urges greater respect and tolerance for immigrants of all legal status. It’s backed by Aaron Peskin, Debra Walker, David Campos, Robert Haaland, Rafael Mandelman, Chris Daly, Joe Julian, Michael Goldstein, Hene Kelly and Michael Bornstein.

You can read both resolutions and the politics of this after the jump.

Peepshow: They’re all gonna laugh at you!


Each week Justin Juul highlights a rad upcoming local sexy event


Who Remember the girl who sat in front of you in freshman math class? She was super cute and she smelled amazing, but it really sucked to be that close to her everyday because you just couldn’t stop wondering about the color of her panties and whether she had baby-toe nipples or the big round kind. Oh my god, the round kind! The cool thing about your daydreams was that they made algebra tolerable, but they were also kind of dangerous because they made you hard and if anything strange were to happen –fire alarms, group exercises, etc—you knew you’d be forced to parade your boner around in front of both your crush and all the other assholes in your class. But, whatever. If you absolutely had to stand up, you could always just grab your jacket and pretend to look for something in the pocket until you could sit down again, right? Wrong! Remember the day the fire alarm actually did go off? Where was your trusty jacket then, smart guy? It sure as hell wasn’t on the back of your chair like it should have been and so your only option was to stand up quickly and try to run out the door before anyone noticed -a perfect plan that went haywire when your crush suddenly stooped over and swung around to grab her backpack. After plowing your fourteen year-old wiener directly into the poor girl’s face, you promptly tripped and landed on your back with the most ridiculous and shameful erection the world had ever seen poking out the side of your Umbros.

It was the most embarrassing moment of your life and that’s why, although you remember her well, you probably don’t want to see the hot girl from math class ever again. Or maybe you do. If you’re a glutton for self-depreciating humor, you should check out this show. Sexy algebra girl will certainly be in attendance (in spirit, if not physically), as will all the little fuckers who called you “J-Bone” back in high school.

What Mortified is a spoken word showcase starring all your friends and neighbors as pimply-faced teenagers going through the hell.

Supervisorial candidate excuses police abuse


By Steven T. Jones

Scott Wiener seems to have a real zeal for his job as a deputy city attorney defending San Francisco against police abuse lawsuits, but his attitude and public statements raise serious concerns about his goal of being elected to the District 8 seat on the Board of Supervisors next year.
Take this story, for example, in which Wiener is defending the city in an excessive force case in which Officer Sean Frost and other SFPD officers chased down Chen Ming after being called to a loud argument in SoMa. After they caught him and held him down, Frost hit Ming in the face with his billyclub, breaking Chen’s jaw and knocking out 10 of his teeth.
“The officer did not do anything wrong,” Wiener told the Chronicle, a statement he repeated to me the other day, although he wouldn’t say more about how he arrived at that conclusion (such as whether it was supported by an internal affairs investigation), claiming he could not discuss the facts of the case.
Yet excusing such obviously excessive force — including use of a billyclub in a way that goes against officer training and SFPD general orders, and using extreme violence against a suspect who was down and not threatening anyone — is commenting on the facts of this case.
Wiener could have simply denied the city’s culpability in a general way, but he chose to go further, excusing inexcusable police conduct and sending a scary message to the general public.

Downtown marshals its forces


By Tim Redmond

The folks who got their collective asses kicked in last fall’s elections also got the message — that their politics, their candidates and their messages aren’t working — and they’re quietly meeting to map out a new strategy to try to take back some seats on the Board of Supervisors in 2010.

A meeting earlier this week, convened by former SFSOS staffer Ryan Chamberlain, drew representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Committee on JOBS and candidates like Scott Wiener, a Democratic County Central Committee member who is planning to run in District 8.

“What we’re doing isn’t working,” Chamberlain told us. “The progressives are winning.”

So downtown is looking to build grassroots operations — and the message right now is “quality of life.” That means cracking down on homeless people, cleaning up the streets, more cops, probably a move toward allowing more condo conversions (homeowners tend to vote more moderate than renters, so these folks love the idea of having more owners and fewer renters in town).

Chamberlain wouldn’t give us a list of who attended, but one source familiar with the meeting told us the Chamber and JOBS were well represented. Wiener confirmed that he was there, but wouldn’t say anything else about the meeting. Sup. Sean Elsbernd told us he was invited, but couldn’t make it.

So let’s remember: The progressive victories last November were hard-fought. This is still a battle for the soul of the city, and the other side isn’t anywhere near ready to concede. In fact, the downtown guys have plenty of money and sophisticated political strategists and they’re lining up candidates.

Sex and salad



CHEAP EATS I was crying long before my cleaver touched the onion. The trick, when slicing onions for a salad, is to slice them so thin that they flop like fettuccini. I like lots, white and worming, in my salad. The onion, I’ve decided, is going to help me die.

A guy told me about The Tibetan Book of the Dead. On a date! I was going, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, and all the while I was thinking about onions. That will be the thing for me to focus on while I let go of my last breath. Probably in a cracked up car, or underwater, far from any real chance of salad. My eyes squeezed tight. The onion, hot and sad, on the tongue. There it is. Sexy, sweet, tearful, complex, layered … and out.

Whereas the best place to eat an apple is under the tree! Sitting down, hopefully, on a log, and alive. Very much alive, I was sitting on a log under my apple tree, eating apples. Just now, in the failing daylight, writing this in the dirt. Which never fails. The dirt. My apples, like me, are tart, juicy, and very green. They are wormy and temporary, also like me.

Today instead of being a writer I had online sex and phone sex, both for the first time. That I know of. I’m on OkCupid now. Imagine me — the chicken farmer — mixing it up with cool people and hipsters! They’re all polyamorous and spiritual and shit, and so far I have learned what "tats" means, and some other things, but I forget what. Mostly I don’t know what anyone’s talking about. What’s ttyl?

Here’s the context: a couple of pictures of the same penis from different angles, and the message, "here are a couple of pics for ya. ttyl." Um … T-Bone? Tabasco? You? Liver?

Tats means tattoos.

A married couple wants to do me. They’re into barbecue. Hey, me too! Then there’s this "generous" gentleman, also married. He wants to do me. And wants pictures. Of me … in lingerie.

I have lingerie. I have a camera. What does "generous" mean?

I’m going to meet all these people within the next week or two, and I’m going to do them, I don’t care. I already know that, like dirt. My profile clearly says: long-term dating, don’t need friends. Used to be a boy.

Nobody believes me, which is flattering, since my pictures are recent, and real. My strategy: to flush out all the too-cool-for-school hipsters and then school them. In chicken farmerology. They say they’re adventurous and open-minded. They think outside the box.

And I write them and say, "I have a box for you to think outside of." Bam! They are gushing over my hair, my smile, my sense of humor, and in one case my nose (?) … perhaps wondering (or not) about the faint scent of chicken shit. And onions.

Meanwhile, the really cool, really open-minded guys are contacting me. And they get it. And want it. Today I was just beginning a long-overdue e-mail to one of my many, many vagina-having girlfriends who wrote to ask me for Wine-Bottle Wiener’s phone number, and all of a sudden in the background, on OkCupid: Instant Message! Which — I just learned how to do this yesterday.

So, friend forgotten, me and this mister are typing back and forth, in my opinion setting up a check-you-out coffee date, when all of a sudden he’s, like, "What are you wearing?"

And I’m, like: What? You mean for coff — . Ohhhh … this is that thing. My first-ever what-are-you-wearing moment<0x2009>!

The truth: last night’s baggy hand-me-down pajama bottoms and a long-underwear shirt. It was 2 p.m.

"Just panties and a tank top," I typed. "It’s HOT up here." Lucky him, I’m a trained fiction writer. "What about you?"

When, eventually, my woodsy wireless connection failed us, we moved to the phone. And by the time his cell phone battery died, my actual clothes were all over the floor and I was crumpled on the bed, wormy and warm, craving a good, crisp salad and an even better cry.


My new favorite restaurant is Saigon Cuisine. I needed a bowl of soup badly, to drown a very specific sorrow. Very specifically, the sorrow was that China Light, my old favorite restaurant in Santa Rosa, had closed. So instead of eating roast duck noodle soup, I ate pho. Great! I used all the jalapenos, and then a lot of hot sauce. And stopped crying almost immediately.


Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

320 W. Third St., Santa Rosa

(707) 528-8807

Beer & wine


DCCC endorses….


The newly elected progressive block of the local Democratic Party flexed their muscles during tonight’s endorsements. It was a full house, with only Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s seat empty. She neglected (perhaps purposefully) to send a proxy.

Many of the supervisors’ measures passed — including the Affordable Housing measure and the Clean Energy Act. All of the items put on the ballot by Mayor Gavin Newsom failed, despite a small consistent cabal following his centrist party line. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proxy cast steady abstentions on many local issues, with notable “no” votes against Affordable Housing, Clean Energy, and decriminalizing prostitution. She did, however, support Newsom’s Community Justice Center, which some pointed out had already been funded and should have been taken off the ballot.

All the progressive candidates handily won top seats, with David Campos beating out Eric Quezada in the hot district nine race. Nods went to incumbents Elsbernd and Chu. There was a lot of debate over whether to select second and third choices for ranked choice voting in the district supervisor races. Though there were attempts to get second and third seats filled, there was too much division among candidates and enough progressives stuck with “no endorsement” for those seats to keep solidarity behind the top seeded candidate. After some talk about the need to have at least one woman on the slate, Denise McCarthy, running in district three, was the only candidate to receive the second billing, getting votes from Debra Walker and Michael Goldstein, who stepped outside the progressive contingent that was urging a “no endorsement” vote to keep loyalty lined up behind Chiu.

The Clean Energy Act received a healthy majority of 22, with more choosing to abstain than cast a “no.” Tom Hsieh, Joe Julian, Megan Levitan, Mike Tuchow, Dianne Feinstein, and August Longo, voted against it while Laura Spanjian, Scott Wiener, Jackie Speier, Leland Yee, and Fiona Ma, abstained.

The complete rundown, after the jump:

Wine and deer



CHEAP EATS A man with a penis the size of a wine bottle told me you can shoot a deer out of season if it’s decimating your vineyard. We live in wine country. We’re neighbors. He had set a bar of post-coital dark chocolate and a bowl of cherries on the coffee table for me, and was making us tea. I like the taste of wine, but would rather live in beer country, or, I don’t know, hot sauce country. Wine bottles hurt.

This morning at the kitchen sink, grinding my Sweet Maria’s, I looked out the window and saw a small nuclear family of deer looking in the window at me, like, "What the — ?"

I opened the window.

"It’s a kind of coffee," I said.

I didn’t have to holler. The deer were right there — and, perhaps not surprisingly, completely weirded out. I admit I don’t always look exactly sexy in the morning, let alone easily categorized. If they didn’t bolt — and they didn’t — I attribute it more to their being surrounded by chicken wire than any headlight-like radiance on my part. Like most animals, including human ones, deer have an easier time getting into situations than getting back out of them.

The chocolate and cherries were a nice touch though, I thought. The tea was a nice touch. The talk of deer, and vineyards? Nice touch. Very neighborly. Our neighbor, my neighbor told me, shoots deer in his vineyard and can’t be bothered with the rest of it, the gutting and dripping and butchery, so he digs a hole with his backhoe and buries his deerly departed.

I don’t like dark chocolate.

My neighbor said his neighbor calls him first, sometimes, to see if he wants the deer.

"Do you?" I said.

He said he can’t be bothered.

I was eating the chocolate anyway, so as not to seem unladylike, sipping my tea in a manner most dainty. Then, being essentially a cartoon character, the chocolate bar turned into a strip of venison jerky, and the hot tea into a cold beer. Not sure if this would qualify as ladylike or not, but I gave Wine Bottle Wiener my number and said, yo, if anyone ever calls him again with any large game or anything, have them call me.

I just love venison. Steaks. Sausages. Liver. I love venison. So does Mountain Sam, and he has sharp knives and can help me, I figure. What I need, my dear alternative-weekly PETA-supporting readership, is a rifle.

Hey, I have grapevines to protect. Check that: I have grapevine. One. I don’t make wine, but me and my chickens eat a few handfuls of grapes every fall and enjoy them very much, thank you. Now the deer have been sneaking into the chicken yard in the middle of the night and helping themselves. And then mangling, tearing, eating through and sometimes just bowling over my elaborate fencing system by way of saying goodbye.

A farmer wearies of mending fence.

I slowly closed the kitchen window, tiptoed across my shack to the door, which I opened and closed soundlessly, and, in my bare feet still, and pajamas, I snatched my hatchet from the wood pile, jumped the fence myself, and damn near got me my first deer ever, chicken style.

After fixing the fence, I went back inside and drank my coffee.

The phone rang. It was him. And he didn’t have a deer for me; he had a bottle of wine. His deep voice was all want, with maybe chocolate and cherries in it, for me.

"I like cherries," I said, and then I didn’t say anything else. He waited very patiently, but I can never find my way out as gracefully as I found my way in. The man was going to need a smaller dick, was the thing … or a bigger woman. "I like grapes. I like deer," I said. My big toe was bleeding and Weirdo the cat was sniffing me like I was piss, but I could not hang up. "Coffee," I said. "I love coffee."


My new favorite restaurant is Pho Vietnam, in Santa Rosa. These folks do the biggest bowls of noodles I’ve ever seen. I’m talking about the bun, or vermicelli, but I’ve also had the pho, and it’s great too. The place used to be all soulful and divey and crowded and dirty, like I like, but then it moved next door into what might have been a pancake house, with big, soft booths, a posh counter, and carpeting. Funny. Fun. Great food.


711 Stony Point #8, Santa Rosa

(707) 571-7678

Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–8:45 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.–7:45 p.m.

Beer & wine


Peskin wins DCCC chair


Before the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee voted tonight on its new chair, Chris Daly told me the vote was going to be 18-16 in favor of Aaron Peskin, the progressives’ pick. I didn’t doubt him. The play was going to be to elect Peskin temporary chair as the first order of business, before the public comment or chair election agenda items, and make it clear from the get-go where the votes were.

There was a mild and brief parliamentary scrum before the names of Peskin and Scott Wiener, last term’s chair and the pick of the moderates, were put up for vote. Peskin won on a 18-16 vote.

“You have my word that I’m going to work my butt off and I’m going to do it with Scott,” Peskin said during his acceptance speech before Wiener supporters reminded him he was only temporary chair and the real vote was still coming up. But I didn’t doubt it was over.

I listened to the first speaker during public comment, Senator-to-be Mark Leno, sound conciliatory notes and praise the soon-to-be vanquished candidate he supported. And then I left as the speakers lined up at the microphone to make the case for their respective candidates, telling Daly to call me if the official vote wasn’t 18-16.

DCC vote: Does Peskin have it?


Chris Daly and Robert Haaland are reporting that Aaron Peskin has lined up the votes to become the next chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party.

It’s been a long and contested fight, and Daly now says it’s over, and that Scott Wiener, Peskin’s opponnent, should essentially drop out.

But Wiener has no intention of backing down; in fact, he just told me by phone that he disagrees with Daly’s claim.

“It’s pure spin,” he said. “I have more committed votes than Aaron does.”

Peskin remains confident that he’ll prevail at the July 23 meeting and that more than half of the 34 voting members are lined up behind him. As for Wiener’s comment, he said: “On Wednesday night, one of us will be right and one of us will be wrong.”

Of course, neither side is releasing a list of names, since there’s still intense lobbying going on behind the scenes.

Should be a wild meeting.

Real money, false arrest



The false arrest of an elected official in San Francisco for using a $100 bill that police wrongly thought was counterfeit has evolved into a potentially precedent-setting legal struggle over police accountability.

The San Francisco City Attorney’s Office is seeking to appeal the case all the way to the conservative-dominated US Supreme Court, an expensive fight that could overturn what would seem a welcome ruling in liberal San Francisco. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last August affirmed in the case that citizens have the right to sue police officers after being unreasonably arrested for a crime they didn’t commit.

After a federal district judge refused to grant qualified immunity to the officers and throw out the lawsuit, City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office insisted on repeated appeals argued by deputy city attorney Scott Wiener, rather than settling for a few thousand dollars and accepting that the cops simply screwed up.

"There are some people who would say ‘Why don’t you just pay a little money to settle it?’<0x2009>" Wiener told the Guardian. "But we have to take a broader institutional perspective, because if you start settling cases that don’t have merit, you’re going to wind up with a lot more cases like that than you would have otherwise."

At the center of the story is attorney Rodel Rodis, a Filipino activist and elected trustee of City College of San Francisco, who was arrested in the spring of 2003 and dragged to a police station for supposedly trying to buy a handful of items from a Walgreens with a counterfeit $100 bill. The bill turned out to be real.

But by the time the officers came to that conclusion, Rodis had suffered what he regarded as the terrible embarrassment of being shoved into a squad car with his hands behind his back in front of neighbors and constituents. It also occurred just around the corner from his longtime law practice and the main campus of City College, where he’s been an elected trustee since 1991.

Rodis promptly filed a $250,000 claim against the city, former Police Chief Alex Fagan Sr., and two officers at the scene alleging false arrest, excessive force, and the negligent infliction of emotional stress, among other things. He later offered to settle the suit for $15,000, but the City Attorney’s Office refused to accept the deal.

Five years and innumerable legal bills later, the case just keeps getting worse for the city — even before it lands in front of a jury to determine if indeed the police should compensate Rodis.

"Part of my mind was saying … ‘I’m not going to argue. I’m not going to resist,’<0x2009>" Rodis said of the arrest. "I put my hands behind my back but I’m thinking ‘This has got to be a mistake. Somebody here has to have some sense.’<0x2009>"

Rodis was suffering from minor allergy symptoms on Feb. 17, 2003, when he headed to a Walgreens on Ocean Avenue he’d been going to for 20 years. It was located near his Ingleside home and a law office he’s had in the neighborhood since 1992.

He picked up some cough syrup, Claritin, toothpaste, and a few other things. The total came to $42 and change, so he tried to pay with a $100 bill.

"I just happened to have it in my wallet," Rodis said.

The drugstore clerk used a counterfeit detection pen to be sure the bill was legit. It was, according to the marking, but the bill was printed in the 1980s before watermarks and magnetic strips were used to help stop counterfeiting.

The young clerk was unfamiliar with the bill’s design and called a manager to be sure. He, too, used a counterfeit pen to confirm that it was real. But the manager told Rodis he was still going to call the police, fearing it was fake. That’s when things turned surreal. Two officers showed up and almost immediately placed Rodis in handcuffs before trying to ascertain if he’d actually attempted to defraud Walgreens.

"They made no effort to determine what the situation was … they just assumed," Rodis said. "When she said ‘Put your hands behind your back,’ I thought I was in some Twilight Zone moment."

A third ranking officer on the scene, Sgt. Jeff Barry, had known Rodis for years as a local lawyer and City College trustee. Their sons were classmates. But Barry allegedly failed to step in and question whether Rodis was likely to be a fraud artist.

Another officer, Michelle Liddicoet, told Rodis she knew who he was and that he "should be ashamed of himself," according to the suit.

Feeling humiliated as other Filipinos he knew looked on, Rodis was put into the back of a patrol car and taken to Taraval Station, where he was handcuffed to a bench. There he waited another 30 minutes or so until the police officers were able to reach the Secret Service, which investigates currency for the US Treasury Department. A federal agent confirmed that the bill was likely genuine. The whole ordeal lasted about a couple of hours and Rodis was driven back to the drug store.

"This wasn’t a situation where Mr. Rodis was held in jail overnight or for a week or had to post some large amount in bail," Wiener said.

Fagan sent out a department memo shortly afterward stating that suspects have to know the currency they’re using is counterfeit before being arrested, and in any event, if they insist it’s real, the officer can book the bill as evidence for later examination and give them a receipt without arresting anyone.

But by then the damage was done and the hasty reaction of police would lie at the heart of the case that Rodis subsequently filed.

Rodis is an unlikely champion of police accountability. Known for his cantankerous personality, he all but accused the secretary of the San Francisco Veterans Equity Center last month in his regular column for the Philippine News of supporting a band of communist guerillas in the Philippines known as the New People’s Army, a charge the man angrily denied.

He bitterly responded with a string of e-mails last year when the Guardian reported he was several months late in sending legally required campaign disclosure forms from his 2004 reelection to the Ethics Commission (see "At the crossroads," 07/17/07).

But the city’s police academy also has invited Rodis to lecture recruits about San Francisco’s Filipino community as part of the department’s sensitivity training. A week after the incident involving Rodis, an elderly Filipino man who sold the San Francisco Chronicle downtown was savagely beaten and robbed of $400. He never found a police officer while walking to his Tenderloin home, where he died. The two incidents, one following on the heels of the other, enraged the city’s Filipino population of 36,000, and Rodis believes it proves the police department continues to have trouble with discrimination.

"The fact that it happened to me meant that I was in a position to do something about it," Rodis said of his dust-up. "For many [Filipino immigrants] … they wouldn’t have had the resources or the knowledge of the procedures to fight back. Even up to now, five years later, I still bump into people who appreciate the fact that I filed the action."

The case was assigned to Wiener, who is coincidentally the elected chair of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and a longtime party activist in a city that’s famously wary of any perceived threat to civil liberties.

In his capacity as a lawyer for the city, though, Wiener tried to have Rodis’ suit tossed using a common courtroom maneuver known as summary judgment. Civil defendants request them from a court by arguing that a claim is so lacking in merit that they shouldn’t have to endure a costly, time-consuming jury trial.

He also made the standard claim that city employees — in this case police officers — are shielded by what’s known as qualified immunity, a legal argument designed to allow them room to make honest mistakes without facing an endless barrage of expensive litigation.

In March 2005, federal district judge Maxine Chesney granted the request in part, throwing out Rodis’ claim of liability against the city and county. But she allowed the part of the suit involving the two officers to move forward, arguing the arrest was illegal because they didn’t have probable cause that Rodis intended to defraud the store.

So Herrera’s office turned to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in a move that surprised Wiener, the panel ruled 2-1 that public employees are entitled to qualified immunity, but not when they fail to act on their considerable law enforcement powers in a reasonable way and take into account all factors present at the scene.

To put it bluntly, cops sometimes make an error in judgment but they still have to use their brains for establishing probable cause. The panel also argued that even if the bill was counterfeit, Rodis did nothing wrong if he wasn’t aware of it.

"Even without knowledge of Rodis’ identity and local ties," the majority wrote, "based on the totality of the other relevant facts, no reasonable or prudent officer could have concluded that Rodis intentionally and knowingly used a counterfeit bill."

Now Herrera had on his hands published legal precedent that his staff believed imposed a new requirement on police officers to not only conclude that perpetrators passed counterfeit currency but also that they intended to defraud their victims. The decision, city officials claim in their pleading to the Supreme Court, could hamstring local and federal law enforcement investigating counterfeit currency and some other types of fraud.

"They said it was clearly established that probable cause is a fluid concept," Wiener said of the ruling. "Well, that’s a meaningless statement. Of course probable cause is a fluid concept. But the point of qualified immunity is that officers are entitled to rely on the current state of law about what the requirements are and shouldn’t have to predict what a judge is going to do down the road."

Lawrence Fasano, a lawyer for Rodis, counters that Fagan’s memo to the department reinforced the court’s opinion. Considering that the police and people in the neighborhood had known Rodis for years, the officers on the scene should have concluded that it was out-of-character for him to pass a counterfeit bill.

"All the evidence that was looked at by the police officers at the time indicated that he did not intend to pass counterfeit currency, including the fact that he had other $100 bills in his pocket that were genuine," Fasano said.

Fasano argued, too, that case law in California made clear the issue of intent cannot just be set aside by police.

Other cities and counties in California so fear the case’s impact that two interest groups representing them, the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties, filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief after the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, arguing that digital counterfeiting was a "threat to the nation’s fiscal health" that could grow in the future, and if allowed to stand, "the panel majority’s decision would eviscerate the doctrine of qualified immunity to the detriment of the public."

Wiener filed the Supreme Court petition in May after a larger panel of Ninth Circuit judges rejected a request for rehearing earlier this year. While the Supreme Court accepts only a fraction of the thousands of cases it receives annually, Wiener believes there’s a chance it will be accepted because of another such case it’s examining from the Tenth Circuit. The city won’t know for sure until the fall.

He adds that it’s extraordinarily dangerous for police to be forced to consider a citizen’s status as an elected official before concluding that probable cause exists for an arrest. The City Attorney’s Office won’t disclose how much has been spent on the case until it’s resolved, but Rodis estimates he’s spent more than $50,000.
The US dollar may be losing value internationally, but a $100 bill from the 1980s could cost San Francisco big bucks.

The Fourth of July in Rock Rapids, Iowa, 1940-53


The good old days in Rock Rapids, Iowa,
the Fourth of July, l940-53

By Bruce B. Brugmann

(Note: In July of l972, when the Guardian was short a Fourth of July story, I sat down and cranked out this one for the front page on my trusty Royal Typewriter. I now reprint it each year on the Bruce blog, with some San Francisco updates and postscripts.)

Back where I come from, a small town beneath a tall standpipe in northwestern Iowa, the Fourth of July was the best day of a long, hot summer.

The Fourth came after YMCA camp and Scout camp and church camp, but before the older boys had to worry about getting into shape for football. It was welcome relief from the scalding, 100-degree heat in a town without a swimming pool and whose swimming holes at Scout Island were usually dried up by early July. But best of all, it had the kind of excitement that began building weeks in advance.

The calm of the summer dawn and the cooing of the mourning doves on the telephone wires would be broken early on July Fourth: The Creglow boys would be up by 7 a.m. and out on the lawn shooting off their arsenal of firecrackers. They were older and had somehow sent their agents by car across the state line and into South Dakota where, not far above the highway curves of Larchwood, you could legally buy fireworks at roadside stands.

Ted Fisch, Jim Ramsey, Wiener Winters, the Cook boys, Hermie Casjens, Jerry Prahl, and the rest of the neighborhood would race of their houses to catch the action. Some of them had cajoled firecrackers from their parents or bartered from the older boys in the neighborhood: some torpedoes (the kind you smashed against the sidewalk); lots of 2 and 3-inchers, occasionally the granddaddy of them all, the cherry bomb (the really explosive firecracker, stubby, cherry red, with a wick sticking up menacingly from its middle; the kind of firecracker you’d gladly trade away your best set of Submariner comics for).

Ah, the cherry bomb. It was a microcosm of excitement and mischief and good fun. Bob Creglow, the most resourceful of the Creglow boys, would take a cherry bomb, set it beneath a tin can on a porch, light the fuse, then head for the lilac bushes behind the barn.

“The trick,” he would say, imparting wisdom of the highest order, “is to place the can on a wood porch with a wood roof. Then it will hit the top of the porch, bang, then the bottom of the porch, bang. That’s how you get the biggest clatter.”

So I trudged off to the Linkenheil house, the nearest front porch suitable for cherry bombing, to try my hand at small-town demolition. Bang went the firecracker. Bang went the can on the roof. Bang went the can on the floor. Bang went the screen door as Karl Linkenheil roared out in a sweat, and I lit out for the lilacs behind the barn with my dog, Oscar.

It was glorious stuff – not to be outdone for years, I found out later, until the Halloween eve in high school when Dave Dietz, Ted Fisch, Ken Roach, Bob Babl, and rest of the Hermie Casjens gang and I made the big time and twice pushed a boxcar loaded with lumber across Main Street and blocked it for hours. But that’s another story in my Halloween blog of last year.

Shooting off fireworks was, of course, illegal in Rock Rapids, but Chief of Police Del Woodburn and later Elmer “Shinny” Sheneberger used to lay low on the Fourth. I don’t recall ever seeing them about in our neighborhood and I don’t think they ever arrested anybody, although each year the Rock Rapids Reporter would carry vague warnings about everybody cooperating to have “a safe and sane Fourth of July.”

Perhaps it was just too dangerous for them to start making firecracker arrests on the Fourth – on the same principle, I guess, that it was dangerous to do too much about the swashbuckling on Halloween or start running down dogs without leashes (Mayor Earl Fisher used to run on the platform that, as long as he was in office, no dog in town would have to be leashed. The neighborhood consensus was that Fisher’s dog, a big, boisterous boxer, was one of the few that ought to be leashed).

We handled the cherry bombs and other fireworks in our possession with extreme care and cultivation; I can’t remember a single mishap. Yet, even then, the handwriting was on the wall. There was talk of cutting off the fireworks supply in South Dakota because it was dangerous for young boys. Pretty soon, they did cut off the cherry bomb traffic and about all that was left, when I came back from college and the Roger boys had replaced the Creglow boys next door, was little stuff appropriately called ladyfingers.

Fireworks are dangerous, our parents would say, and each year they would dust off the old chestnut about the drugstore in Spencer that had a big stock of fireworks and they caught fire one night and much of the downtown went up in a spectacular shower of roman candles and sparkling fountains.

The story was hard to pin down, and seemed to get more gruesome every year – but, we were told, this was why Iowa banned fireworks years before, why they were so dangerous and why little boys shouldn’t be setting them off. The story, of course, never made quite the intended impression; we just wished we’d been on the scene.
My grandfather was the town druggist (Brugmann’s Drugstore, “where drugs and gold are fairly sold,” since 1902) and he said he knew the Spencer druggist personally. Fireworks put him out of business and into the poorhouse, he’d say, and walk away shaking his head.

In any event, firecrackers weren’t much of an issue past noon – the Fourth celebration at the fairgrounds was getting underway and there was too much else to do. Appropriately, the celebration was sponsored by the Rex Strait post of the American Legion (Strait, so the story went, was the first boy from Rock Rapids to die on foreign soil during World War I); the legionnaires were a bunch of good guys from the cleaners and the feed store and the bank who sponsored the American Legion baseball team each summer.

There was always a big carnival, with a ferris wheel somewhere in the center for the kids, a bingo stand for the elders, a booth where the ladies from the Methodist Church sold homemade baked goods, sometimes a hootchy dancer or two, and a couple of dank watering holes beneath the grandstand where the VFW and the Legion sold Grainbelt and Hamms at 30¢ a bottle to anybody who looked of age.

Later on, when the farmboys came in from George and Alvord, there was lots of pushing and shoving, and a fist fight or two.

In front of the grandstand, out in the dust and the sun, would come a succession of shows that made the summer rounds of the little towns. One year it would be Joey Chitwood and his daredevil drivers. (The announcer always fascinated me: “Here he comes, folks, rounding the far turn…he is doing a great job out there tonight…let’s give him a big, big hand as he pulls up in front on the grandstand…”)

Another year it would be harness racing and Mr. Hardy, our local trainer from Doon, would be in his moment of glory. Another year it was tag team wrestling and a couple of barrel-chested goons from Omaha, playing the mean heavies and rabbit-punching their opponents from the back, would provoke roars of disgust from the grandstand. ( The biggest barrel-chest would lean back on the ropes, looking menacingly at the crowd and yell, “ Aw, you dumb farmers. What the hell do you know anyway?” And the grandstand would roar back in glee.)

One year, Cedric Adams, the Herb Caen of Minneapolis and the Star-Tribune, would tour the provinces as the emcee of a variety show. “It’s great to be in Rock Rapids,” he would say expansively, “because it’s always been known as the ‘Gateway to Magnolia.” (Magnolia, he didn’t need to say, was a little town just over the state line in Minnesota which was known throughout the territory for its liquor-by-the-drink roadhouses. It was also Cedric Adams’ hometown: his “Sackamenna.”) Adams kissed each girl (soundly) who came on the platform to perform and, at the end, hushed the crowd for his radio broadcast to the big city “direct from the stage of the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Rock Rapids, Iowa.”

For a couple of years, when Rock Rapids had a “town team,” and a couple of imported left-handed pitchers named Peewee Wenger and Karl Kletschke, we would have some rousing baseball games with the best semi-pro team around, Larchwood and its gang of Snyder brothers: Barney the eldest at shortstop, Jimmy the youngest at third base, John in center field, Paul in left field, another Snyder behind the plate and a couple on the bench. They were as tough as they came in Iowa baseball.

I can remember it as if it were yesterday at Candlestick, the 1948 game with the Snyders of Larchwood. Peewee Wenger, a gawky, 17-year-old kid right off a high school team, was pitching for Rock Rapids and holding down the Snyder artillery in splendid fashion. Inning after inning he went on, nursing a small lead, mastering one tough Larchwood batter after another, with a blistering fastball and a curve that sliced wickedly into the bat handles of the right-handed Larchwood line-up.

Then the cagey Barney Snyder laid a slow bunt down the third base line. Wenger stumbled, lurched, almost fell getting to the ball, then toppled off balance again, stood helplessly holding the ball. He couldn’t make the throw to first. Barney was safe, cocky and firing insults like machine gun bullets at Peewee from first base.

Peewee, visibly shaken, went back to the mound. He pitched, the next Larchwood batter bunted, this time down the first base line. Peewee lurched for the ball, but couldn’t come up with it. A couple more bunts, a shot through the pitcher’s mound, more bunts and Peewee was out. He could pitch, but, alas, he was too clumsy to field. In came Bill Jammer, now in his late 30’s, but in his day the man who beat the University of Iowa while pitching at a small college called Simpson.

Now he was pitching on guts and beer, a combination good enough for many teams and on good days even to take on the Snyders. Jammer did well for a couple of innings, then he let two men on base, then came a close call at the plate. Jammer got mad. Both teams were off the bench and onto the field and, as Fred Roach wrote in the Rock Rapids Reporter, “fisticuffs erupted at home plate.” When the dust cleared, Jammer has a broken jaw, and for the next two weeks had to drink his soup through a straw at the Joy Lunch. John Snyder, it was said later, came all the way in from center field to throw the punch, but nobody knew for sure and he stayed in the game. I can’t remember the score or who won the game, but I remember it as the best Fourth ever.

At dusk, the people moved out on their porches or put up folding chairs on the lawn. Those who didn’t have a good view drove out to the New Addition or parked out near Mark Curtis’ place or along the river roads that snaked out to the five-mile bridge and Virgil Hasche’s place.

A hush came over the town. Fireflies started flickering in the river bottom and, along about 8:30, the first puff of smoke rose above the fairgrounds and an aerial bomb whistled into the heavens. BOOM! And the town shook as if hit by a clap of thunder.

Then the three-tiered sky bombs – pink, yellow, white, puff, puff, puff. The Niagara Falls and a gush of white sparks.

Then, in sudden fury, a dazzling display of sizzling comets and aerial bombs and star clusters that arched high, hung for a full breath and descended in a cascade of sparks that floated harmlessly over the meadows and cornfields. At the end, the flag – red, white and blue – would burst forth on the ground as the All-American finale in the darkest of the dark summer nights. On cue, the cheers rolled out from the grandstand and the cars honked from the high ground and the people trundled up their lawn chairs and everybody headed for home.

Well, I live in San Francisco now, and I drive to Daly City with my son, Danny, to buy some anemic stuff in gaudy yellow and blue wrapping and I try unsuccessfully each year to get through the fog or the traffic to see the fireworks at Candlestick. But I feel better knowing that, back where I come from, everybody in town will be on their porches and on the backroads on the evening of the Fourth to watch the fireworks and that, somewhere in town, a little boy will put a big firecracker under a tin can on a wood porch, then light out for the lilacs behind the barn.

P.S. Our family moved in l965 from Daly City to a house in the West Portal area of San Francisco. There are, I assure you, few visible fireworks in that neighborhood. However, down where we work at the Guardian building at the bottom of Potrero Hill, the professional and amateur action is spectacular.

From the roof of our building at 135 Mississippi, and from any Potrero Hill height, you can see the fireworks in several directions: the waterfront fireworks in the city, fireworks on the Marin side of the Golden Gate bridge, fireworks at several points in the East Bay, fireworks along the Peninsula coast line.

And for the amateur action, parents with kids, kids of all ages, spectators in cars and on foot, congregate after dusk along Terry Francois Boulevard in San Francisco along the shoreline between the Giants ballpark and Kellys Mission Rock restaurant.
The action is informal but fiery and furious: cherry bombs, clusters, spinning wheels, high flying arcs, whizzers of all shapes and sizes. The cops are quite civilized and patrol the perimeter but don’t bother anybody. I go every year. I think it’s the best show in town. B3.

Peskin for DCCC chair


EDITORIAL The San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee was the sleeper election in June: The Mark Leno–Carole Migden–Joe Nation contest for state Senate got a lot of attention, and the Bayview–Hunters Point redevelopment project got a huge amount of money, but only a small percentage of the voters got to the bottom of the ticket and chose the 24 people who will set policy for the local Democratic Party for the next two years. But a progressive slate won a significant number of seats. Now the DCCC has become a heated political battleground, with two candidates vying to become party chair.

The incumbent, Scott Wiener, leans toward the more moderate wing of the party, although he’s taken progressive stands on some issues. The challenger, Sup. Aaron Peskin, has the strong backing of many progressives.

The race has gotten a bit nasty: Sup. Chris Daly, a Peskin supporter, has sent out e-mail threatening the political future of committee members who don’t vote the right way. Both sides are lobbying furiously, with Leno helping Wiener and progressive leaders pushing Peskin. Right now it’s too close to call the election, which takes place later this month.

We’re not happy with the level of animosity here. We recognize that this isn’t the presidency of the United States, and that, thanks to the influence of the reform slate, the DCCC chair is no longer as powerful a position as it was in the days when the late Phil Burton and former Mayor Willie Brown controlled the party with an iron hand. And with the committee this closely split, neither candidate will be able to run an effective party operation this fall without working with both sides. So this shouldn’t be a political bloodbath.

We also recognize that neither candidate is perfect. We’ve disagreed with Peskin on a number of key issues, including Home Depot, and frankly, it’s not ideal to have the president of the Board of Supervisors also running the local Democratic Party.

But like any political contest, this ought to be decided on the issues — and on the future of the San Francisco Democratic Party. And Peskin is the clear choice.

If the DCCC did nothing but raise money, register voters, and push Democratic candidates, this wouldn’t be such an important fight. Weiner has done a perfectly fine job of keeping the party well funded and, under his tenure, 15,000 new Democratic voters have joined the ranks. But the party also endorses candidates and takes stands on ballot measures, and in close races — as some of the key battles will be this fall — the party’s support (which includes party money) can be significant.

And while the chair has only one vote, and can’t decide endorsements unilaterally, the person who runs the local party has a fair amount of influence over how money will be spent and how DCCC slate cards are managed; if the job didn’t matter, these two people (and their powerful allies) wouldn’t be fighting over it.

Peskin is on the right side of all the key fall contests. He’s backing progressive candidates for supervisor in the swing districts (John Avalos in District 11, Eric Mar in District 1, and David Chiu in District 3). He supports the housing justice initiative, is the cosponsor of the public power charter amendment, and the sponsor of two progressive tax measures. Wiener supports Ahsha Safai, the candidate of downtown and Mayor Gavin Newsom, in District 11. He hasn’t taken a position on public power, and told us he has "significant concerns" about the cost of the affordable housing measure, although he supports both of Peskin’s revenue proposals.

Wiener has been a reasonable and fair person as chair. But the issues matter. And if the San Francisco party is going to become a center for progressive activism, if the DCCC is going to be willing to challenge the state and national party and its leaders when necessary, take in the mayor when he’s wrong, and push the party to the left, putting a more activist progressive in the top slot is crucial.

It’s still possible a third candidate could come along. But for now the choices are Peskin and Wiener, and we urge progressives on the panel to support Aaron Peskin.

PS: As Amanda Witherell reports on page 14, PG&E is madly, desperately fighting to keep public power off the November ballot and is using every misleading figure and dirty trick possible. So the DCCC chair has to be willing to stand up to PG&E without hesitation or doubt.

Politics and sausage


Last night, I was reminded of the old joke that people who like sausage and appreciate politics shouldn’t watch either one being made.
Less than a week after winning a majority of the seats on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, the progressive-minded “Hope Slate” candidates (all of which were endorsed by the Guardian) descended into bitter infighting over who to back for the powerful chair of the DCCC.
The acrimony began when Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin, whose 23,049 DCCC votes was second only to David Campos (whose run for supervisor this fall would conflict with running the DCCC), resisted calls to run for the chair, much to the consternation of progressive stalwarts such as Chris Daly and Robert Haaland.
Some Hope Slate candidates, such as Laura Spanjian, were apparently supporting a play by Assembly member turned Senator-to-be Mark Leno to have moderate Scott Wiener continue as the DCCC chair, despite the fact that he wasn’t part of the winning slate and he finished in 10th place in the DCCC District 13 race.
And for awhile there, Peskin seemed to be going along the Leno’s play, arguing that progressives should adopt a conciliatory posture. So the candidates gathered together last night at the 500 Club to hash out their differences, and I had a front row seat for a discussion that turned nasty – with Daly shouting at Peskin and Spanjian and then storming out of the room.
But today, as cooler heads prevailed, Peskin has decided to run, telling me, “Yes, it is true, I am running.”

Editor’s Notes



Mark Leno took a huge political gamble this spring, and if he had lost, he would have lost big.

It was hard enough challenging an incumbent state Senator in a Democratic primary (and pissing off a long list of people, some of them powerful and all of them with long memories). But when it became clear that Joe Nation — a centrist (at best) Democrat from Marin — was joining the race, Leno was facing a dramatic challenge.

Imagine if Nation had won. Imagine if a progressive (if sometimes ethically challenged) lesbian from San Francisco had been tossed out of office and replaced with a straight white guy who was pals with the landlords and the insurance industry. The rap on Leno would have been vicious: he would have been the one blamed for losing a San Francisco seat, a queer seat, a progressive seat … it’s not fair, of course, since Carole Migden was the one who made herself vulnerable, but politics often isn’t fair.

And this would have been ugly. I was wincing to think about the comments the next day. Leno’s political career would have been toast. And this is a guy who loves politics, loves holding office. Talk about going all-in.

But Leno pulled it off, putting together a coalition of progressives and moderates and winning convincingly. And his job is only beginning.

Leno has to mend a lot of fences. A lot of people still don’t think he should have taken on Migden, and some of her supporters are going to be bitter for quite a while. Many think his victory empowered the wrong side of the Democratic party: the Gavin Newsom wing, the squishy center. A lot of people (including me) wonder how Leno will come down on the key contested supervisorial races this fall, when Newsom’s forces and the progressives will be fighting — literally — for the future of San Francisco.

If Migden had won, there would be no doubt about the future alignments: people who were with her would be in the game, and people who opposed her would be punished. That’s how she operated, for better and for worse. Leno is different; he’s willing to work with people who opposed him and try to build bridges. He tells us he’s not always going to be with Newsom on local issues and endorsements — and if that’s true, and if he keeps in mind that he needed the progressives to win (and that Newsom’s buddies at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the big landlords groups did their best to bump him off) — we may see some fascinating new political coalitions emerging. (We may also see more issues like Propositions G and F, in which Newsom, Leno, and the entire power structure supported the Lennar Corporation’s land grab.)

But first, there’s the Democratic County Central Committee.

The DCCC controls the local party, and the party’s money, and the party’s endorsements, all of which will be critical this fall. The progressive slate organized by Sups. Aaron Peskin and Chris Daly did very well, and now could control the committee.

But Scott Wiener, part of the more moderate wing, is still the party chair. Wiener’s a decent and fair guy, but he likes Plan C (a group that has horrible pro-downtown politics). Someone’s going to run against him. Then we’ll see what side everyone’s on.

Read the Potrero Boosters letter to Newsom opposing the Mirant retrofit (PDF)

City Hall: New results


We have about 20 percent of the vote in now, and here’s how it looks:

Prop. A has gone up to 63 percent, and will probably pass.

Sandoval has picked up a bunch, is now at almost 40 percent, and now looks to be coming in first in that race, but not with enough votes to avoid a runoff.

F is still losing, G still winning, and that won’t change.

Joe Nation is now leading Mark Leno — not in San Francisco but district wide. Must be a bunch of north bay precincts reporting, because he’s doing well in SF.

County Central Committee, D 13:

This is a near-sweep at this point for the Peskin-Daly progressive slate; the only two people winning who weren’t on the slate are Leslie Katz (former supervisor) and Scott Wiener, the DCCC chair. So this is looking very good right now, and could be a bright spot for progressives looking toward the fall supervisorial elections.

City Hall: DCCC results


Remember, these are early absentees, but here’s who’s winning at the DCCC right now in District 13:

Leslie Katz
David Chiu
David Campos
Laura Spanjian
Aaron Peskin
Scott Wiener
Robert Haaland
Rafael Mandelman
Holli Their
Debra Walker
Michael Goldstein
Joe Julian

So far, it’s most incumbents and the progressive “slate” isn’t exactly winning. Chris Daly, for example, hasn’t even made the cut. But the night is young and that will probably change.

G-Spot: Everyone’s a wiener



You’d think that amid all of the bell tolling and hand-wringing about DIY online media proliferation, professionally produced gay porn would have gone the way of the floppy disk and dial-up modem long ago. (Remember waiting 20 minutes for free stud-muffin bitmaps to download, pixel by aching pixel, onto your 10-inch monitor? Ah, AOL blue balls. Whither the ’90s?)

But no – gay porn is the new fireplace. You can hardly turn around in most finer homo homes and gardens without some two-dimensional boy butter spattering your delicate cheekbones. Gooey! And every edgy hetero is at least partially versed in the extensive oeuvres of quasi-professional online sites like Bait Bus or His First Huge Cock, if only because sticky fingers often click too quickly on flickering banner ads.

Gay porn’s also big business, of course, and an especially homegrown one. Almost all of the most profitable studios are based in San Francisco – a rare case of several giants of an industry being located within mere blocks of one another. SoMa has become the Wall Street of Crisco.

The reasons behind this multimillions-generating clusterfuck are myriad: mainly, the local economic advantages, cultural environment, and plethora of scruffy multiculti boys (all the rage among a rapidly globalized audience) make SF a much more fertile gay porn hot spot than the traditionally down-and-dirty San Fernando Valley. Also, many big studios are the bastard children of SF’s Falcon Studios, the granddaddy purveyor of male video erotica headed by the late, irascible Chuck Holmes, for whom our groundbreaking Charles M. Holmes LGBT Community Center was affectionately named.

And it doesn’t hurt that Silicon Valley is a whip flick down the freeway. Gay porn studios have been aggressively savvy about riding the online wave to solvency, even if lately that’s meant a hilariously regrettable spate of behind-the-scenes blogs and vids that feature pec-implanted gym queens sashaying nude around Palm Springs pools and fussing over which pair of snakeskin trousers go with which Tony Lamas. Decisions.

Yet despite the buttloads of profit, cornered markets, community accolades, and extensive and rabid fan bases, gay porn studios – like cuddly-wuddly gay porn stars themselves – have massive inferiority complexes. They want recognition, dammit! Thus the annual Golden Globes of filmed homosexual obscenities, the GayVN Awards, presented by venerable gay porn insider news source GayVN (recent headline: "Jock Itch in the Can!"). Last year’s awards presentation at the Castro Theatre — open to the public – was a raucous, substar-studded affair featuring MC Kathy Griffin and more fashion nightmares than you could shake a spangled man boa at. This year’s awards show expands to the Giftcenter Pavilion – because, really, doesn’t this celebration require an entire pavilion? – and although no D-list host has been announced, fan tickets are being snatched up at a robo-thrusting pace.

A quick and gleeful scan gleans from among the 2008 nominees: Gaytanamo for Best Leather Video (when, oh when, will someone make Fahrenheit 9"x11"?); Tiger’s Eiffel Tower: Paris Is Mine!, Gunnery Sgt. McCool, and Rocks and Hard Places for Best Video; the mathematically challenging Bottom of the Ninth: Little Big League 3 for Best Direction, and, inevitably, Buckback Mountain (Best Specialty Release) and Bi Pole Her (Best Bisexual Video, duh). There are awards for Best Box Cover Concept, Best Music, and the always bracingly racist Best Ethnic-Themed Video: (Arabian Tales 1-2? Spilling the Tea? Queens Plaza Pickup 2, surprisingly not about migrant-worker prostitution? Only the judges can decide.

But most enticing of all, barring any prerecorded acceptance speeches — and despite the writer’s strike – there will be actual humans in attendance, the real faces behind the fornication, in all of their fleshy solidity, crossing their powder-encrusted pinkies and gazing hopefully, hazardously into the glare of their peers’ applause or opprobrium. The meltdowns will be spectacular!


Feb. 16, 6 p.m., $100

Giftcenter Pavilion

888 Brannan, SF

(415) 861-7733

The Good Old Days in Rock Rapids, Iowa, The Fourth of July, l940-1953


By Bruce B. Brugmann

(Note: In July of l972, when the Guardian was short a Fourth of July story, I sat down and cranked out this one for the front page on my trusty Royal Typewriter.)

Back where I come from, a small town beneath a tall standpipe in northwestern Iowa, the Fourth of July was the best day of a long, hot summer.
The Fourth came after YMCA camp and Scout camp and church camp, but before the older boys had to worry about getting into shape for football. It was welcome relief from the scalding, 100-degree heat in a town without a swimming pool and whose swimming holes at Scout Island were usually dried up by early July. But best of all, it had the kind of excitement that began building weeks in advance.
The calm of the summer dawn and the cooing of the mourning doves on the telephone wires would be broken early on July Fourth: The Creglow boys would be up by 7 a.m. and out on the lawn shooting off their arsenal of firecrackers. They were older and had somehow sent their agents by car across the state line and into South Dakota where, not far above the highway curves of Larchwood, you could legally buy fireworks at roadside stands.
Ted Fisch, Jim Ramsey, Wiener Winters, the Cook boys, Hermie Casjens, Jerry Prahl, and the rest of the neighborhood would race of their houses to catch the action. Some of them had cajoled firecrackers from their parents or bartered from the older boys in the neighborhood: some torpedoes (the kind you smashed against the sidewalk); lots of 2 and 3-inchers, occasionally the granddaddy of them all, the cherry bomb (the really explosive firecracker, stubby, cherry red, with a wick sticking up menacingly from its middle; the kind of firecracker you’d gladly trade away your best set of Submariner comics for).
Ah, the cherry bomb. It was a microcosm of excitement and mischief and good fun. Bob Creglow, the most resourceful of the Creglow boys, would take a cherry bomb, set it beneath a tin can on a porch, light the fuse, then head for the lilac bushes behind the barn.
“The trick,” he would say, imparting wisdom of the highest order, “is to place the can on a wood porch with a wood roof. Then it will hit the top of the porch, bang, then the bottom of the porch, bang. That’s how you get the biggest clatter.”
So I trudged off to the Linkenheil house, the nearest front porch suitable for cherry bombing, to try my hand at small-town demolition. Bang went the firecracker. Bang went the can on the roof. Bang went the can on the floor. Bang went the screen door as Karl Linkenheil roared out in a sweat, and I lit out for the lilacs behind the barn with my dog, Oscar.

The Nation blasts SF Weekly’s parent


By Tim Redmond

Long, detailed article in the Nation this week by John Wiener on how sharply the LA Weekly has declined since Village Voice Media, the parent company of SF Weekly, took over.

It’s exactly what a lot of us predicted: No more endorsements. No more progressive politics. No more reporting or commentary on the war in Iraq. Sad.

Death of fun, the sequel



Fun – in the form of fairs, festivals, bars, art in the parks, and the freedom to occasionally drink alcohol in public places – is under attack in San Francisco.

The multipronged assault is coming primarily from two sources: city agencies with budget shortfalls and NIMBYs who don’t like to hear people partying. The crackdown has only intensified since the Guardian sounded the alarm last year (see “The Death of Fun,” 5/24/06), but the fun seekers are now organizing, finding some allies, and starting to push back.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and other city hall leaders have been meeting with the Outdoor Events Coalition, which formed last year in response to the threat, about valuing the city’s beloved social gatherings and staving off steep fee hikes that have been sought by the Recreation and Park, Fire, Public Works, and Police departments.

Those conversations have already yielded at least a temporary reprieve from a substantial increase in use fees for all the city’s parks. It’s also led to a rollback of the How Weird Street Faire’s particularly outrageous police fees (its $7,700 sum last year jumped to $23,833 this year – despite the event being forced by the city to end two hours earlier – before pressure from the Guardian and city hall forced it back down to $4,734).

The San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee will also wade into the issue April 25 when it considers a resolution warning that “San Francisco has become noticeably less tolerant of nightlife and outdoor events.” It is sponsored by Scott Wiener, Robert Haaland, Michael Goldstein, and David Campos.

The measure expresses this premier political organization’s “strong disagreement with the City agencies and commissions that have undermined San Francisco’s nightlife and tradition of street festivals and encourages efforts to remove obstacles to the permitting of such venues and events up to and including structural reform of government permitting processes to accomplish that goal.”

The resolution specifically cites the restrictions and fee increases that have hit the How Weird Street Faire, the Haight Ashbury Street Fair (where alcohol is banned this year for the first time), and the North Beach Jazz Festival, but it also notes that a wide variety of events “provide major fundraising opportunities for community-serving nonprofits such as HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and violence-prevention organizations that are dependent upon the revenue generated at these events.”

Yet the wet blanket crowd still seems ascendant. Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier now wants to ban alcohol in all city parks that contain playgrounds, which is most of them. Hole in the Wall has hit unexpected opposition to its relocation (see “Bar Wars,” 4/18/07), while Club Six is being threatened by its neighbors and the Entertainment Commission about noise issues. And one group is trying to kill a band shell made of recycled car hoods that is proposed for temporary summer placement on the Panhandle.

That project, as well as the proposal for drastically increased fees for using public spaces, is expected to be considered May 3 by the Rec and Park Commission, which is likely to be a prime battleground in the ongoing fight over fun.



Rec and Park, like many other city departments, is facing a big budget shortfall and neglected facilities overdue for attention. A budget analyst audit last year also recommended that the department create a more coherent system for its 400 different permits and increase fees by 2 percent.

Yet the department responded by proposing to roughly double its special event fees, even though they make up just $560,000 of the $4.5 million that the department collects from all fees. Making things even worse was the proposal to charge events based on a park’s maximum capacity rather than the actual number of attendees.

The proposal caused an uproar when it was introduced last year, as promoters say it would kill many beloved events, so it was tabled. Then an almost identical proposal was quietly introduced this year, drawing the same concerns.

“These are just preliminary numbers, and they may change,” department spokesperson Rose Dennis told us, although she wouldn’t elaborate on why the same unpopular proposal was revived.

Event organizers, who were told last year that they would be consulted on the new fee schedule, were dumbfounded. They say the new policy forces them to come up with a lot of cash if attendance lags or the weather is bad.

Mitigating such a risk means charging admission, corralling corporate sponsorship, or pushing more commerce on attendees. This may not be a hindrance for some of the well-known and sponsored events such as Bay to Breakers and SF Pride, but consider how the low-budget Movie Night in Dolores Park might come up with $6,000 instead of $250, or how additional permit fees could strangle the potential of nascent groups such as Movement for Unconditional Amnesty.

The group is sponsoring a march in honor of the Great American Boycott of 2006. On May 1 it will walk from Dolores Park to the Civic Center in recognition of immigrants’ rights. The group wanted to offer concessions, because food vendors donate a percentage of their sales to the organization, but the permit fee for propane use from the Fire Department was too high.

“They couldn’t guarantee they’d make more than $1,200 in food to cover the costs of permits,” said Forrest Schmidt, of the ANSWER Coalition, who is assisting the organizers. “So they lost an opportunity to raise funds to support their work. It’s more than $1,000 taken off the top of the movement.”

ANSWER faced a similar problem after the antiwar rally in March, when the rule regarding propane permits was reinterpreted so that a base charge, once applied to an entire event, was now charged of each concessionaire – quadrupling the overall cost. ANSWER pleaded its case against this new reading of the law and was granted a one-time reprieve. But Schmidt says none of the SFFD’s paperwork backs up a need to charge so much money.

“They kept on saying over and over again, ‘You guys are making money on this,’ ” Schmidt said. “But it’s an administrative fee to make sure we’re not setting anything on fire. It’s essentially a tax. It’s a deceitful form of politics and part of what’s changing the demographic of the city.”

The Outdoor Events Coalition, which represents more than 25 events in the city, agrees and has been meeting with city officials to hash out another interim solution for this year, as well as a long-term plan for financial sustainability for all parties.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Robbie Kowal, a coalition leader and organizer of the North Beach Jazz Festival. But he’s still concerned about what he and the coalition see as a continuing trend.

“The city is changing in some way. It’s becoming a culture of complaint. There’s this whole idea you can elect yourself into a neighborhood organization, you can invent your own constituency, and the bureaucracy has to take you seriously. Neighborhood power can be so effective in fighting against a Starbucks, but when it’s turned around and used to kill an indigenous part of that neighborhood, like its local street fair, that’s an abuse of that neighborhood power.”



Black Rock Arts Foundation, the San Francisco public art nonprofit that grew out of Burning Man, has enjoyed a successful and symbiotic partnership with the Newsom administration, placing well-received temporary artwork in Hayes Green, Civic Center Plaza, and the Embarcadero.

So when BRAF, the Neighborhood Parks Council, the city’s Department of the Environment, and several community groups decided several months ago to collaborate on a trio of new temporary art pieces, most people involved thought they were headed for another kumbaya moment. Then one of the projects hit a small but vocal pocket of resistance.

A group of artists from the Finch Mob and Rebar collectives are now at work on the Panhandle band shell, a performance space for nonamplified acoustic music and other performances that is made from the hoods of 75 midsize sedans. The idea is to promote the recycling and reuse of materials while creating a community gathering spot for arts appreciation.

Most neighborhood groups in the area like the project, and 147 individuals have written letters of support, versus the 17 letters that have taken issue with the project’s potential to draw crowds and create noise, litter, graffiti, congestion, and a hangout for homeless people.

But the opposition has been amplified by members of the Panhandle Residents Organization Stanyan Fulton (PROSF), which runs one of the most active listservs in the city, championing causes ranging from government sunshine to neighborhood concerns. The group, with support from Sup. Ross Mirkarimi’s staff, has delayed the project’s approval and thus placed its future in jeopardy (installation was scheduled to begin next month).

“My main concern would be that this is a very narrow strip of land that is bordered by homes on both sides,” said neighbor Maureen Murphy, who has complained about the project to the city and online through the PROSF. “My fear is that there is going to be amplification and more people and litter.”

The debate was scheduled to be heard by the Rec and Park Commission on April 19 but was postponed to May 3 because of the controversy. Nonetheless, Newsom showed up at the last hearing to offer his support.

“Rare do I come in front of committee, but I wanted to underscore … the partnership we’ve had with Black Rock Arts Foundation. It’s been a very successful one and one I want to encourage this commission to reinforce,” Newsom told the commission. “I think the opportunity exists for us … to take advantage of these partnerships and really bring to the forefront in people’s minds more temporary public art.”

Rachel Weidinger, who is handling the project for BRAF, said the organizers have been very sensitive to public input, neighborhood concerns, environmental issues, and the impacts of the project, at one point changing sites to one with better drainage. And she’s been actively telling opponents that the project won’t allow amplified music or large gatherings (those of 25 or more will require a special permit). But she said that there’s little they can do about those who simply don’t want people to gather in the park.

“We are trying to activate park space with temporary artwork,” she said. “Guilty as charged.”

Yet any activated public space – whether a street closed for a fair or a march, a park turned into a concert space, or a vacant storefront turned into a nightclub – is bound to generate a few critics. The question for San Francisco now is how to balance NIMBY desires and bureaucratic needs with a broader concern for facilitating fun in the big city.

“Some people have the idea that events and nightlife are an evil to be restricted,” Wiener said. But his resolution is intended as “a cultural statement about what kind of city we want to live in.” *


G-string journey



My girlfriend leaned over the table during brunch at the Pork Store recently and stared deep into my eyes. "Baby," she said, "when you’re out there looking at all those boobies today, just remember that they’re fake. And when you’re petting asses and sticking money in G-strings, just remember that those bodies, unlike mine, are going to be saggy and horrible-looking in a few years."

Not exactly our ordinary breakfast conversation, but then again, it was no ordinary morning. I was about to embark on a whirlwind tour of some of the city’s notorious gentlemen’s clubs, and that gloomy Sunday seemed perfect. What better day than the Christian Sabbath to burn some cash on sex, right? I finished my eggs, said a little prayer, and hit the streets to find some heathens — I mean, strippers. I knew exactly where to go.


By the time I got to the corner of Market and Sixth streets, it was raining like hell, and various shady-looking characters were hogging every dry spot in sight. Despite my burning desire for a nip of whiskey, I decided to abandon my preparty bar plans and walk directly into the Market Street Cinema. I passed through the mirrored doors, paid the cover charge, and found a seat at the foot of the catwalk just in time to catch the next act.

I don’t know if the girls or the DJs pick the songs, but the music fit the sad spectacle like a latex glove. As the opening riff of the Smiths’ "How Soon Is Now" filled the club, a young girl stepped out onto the stage. Sexy Susan (or Luscious Lucy or whatever the DJ-MC had decided to call her) strutted down the catwalk in her fuck-me pumps, looked at her scant audience, and made her way to the pole. She swung around it with one leg and rubbed herself up and down before finally climbing to the top, where she hung for a full minute before sliding to the floor with a thump. She then stood up and beelined toward me.

"You look shy," the stripper whispered as she squatted in my face and began tugging at the elastic rim of her panties. From a distance the girl had seemed rather pretty, but up close her jagged teeth, stretched belly, and hollow eyes bespoke a street-style homeliness. She made me uncomfortable, and I knew the only way to shoo her off was to produce an embarrassingly small tip. So I dug down in my wallet and threw a buck by her feet. "Uh, thanks," she said. "Do you, like, want a lap dance or anything?"

"No, I’m OK. But I think that guy might want something," I said. She took my money and walked across the stage toward a scary-looking dude waving a five-dollar bill around in the air.

The young girl finished her set with a clumsy attempt to sync her body movements to Nine Inch Nails’ "Closer." She humped the pole, stumbled down the walk, and finally bent over for a spread-eagle encore. She then picked up her seven- or eight-dollar tip stash and took off. I was blown away. This girl had just showed us the holiest of holies for less than it takes to fill the gas tank on a moped. This was, presumably, her daily routine. Was it worth it? I felt too guilty to ponder the question. As soon as the young stripper was out of sight, I pushed all sympathetic thoughts out of my mind and bolted. Next stop: the Crazy Horse.


I didn’t expect much from the Crazy Horse, but it proved to be less depressing than the previous venue by a long shot. Sure, there were weird old men roaming around the lobby. And yes, the girls seemed a little sad. But at least the place was clean. The bouncer gave me a knowing smile, opened the door, and pushed me into a dimly lit room where 30 or 40 businessmen sat watching the show.

This stripper was definitely not a drug addict or a runaway who had recently celebrated the big one-eight. She was fit and healthy, and her dance routine was well rehearsed. She strutted like a cat, slowly removing the only two garments she wore. Soon she was naked and humping the air in front of an old man with glasses and dirty jeans. When she stood up to leave, the man threw down a few bills and waved a wad of cash in the air. It was a signal the stripper knew well. She scooted his donation to the middle of the stage, jumped into his lap, and began gyrating. The pattern repeated as the stripper moved from mark to mark until she was a couple seats down from me. I decided to leave at this point. My wallet had grown significantly lighter since I began this endeavor, and I still had one more cover charge to pay.


By midafternoon I was exhausted and bitter, but I had to press on. I knew my last destination, the Nob Hill Theatre, a seedy gay hideaway, was going to require true grit. After all, naked chicks are nothing new — you see them every time you turn on the tube. But how many times have you seen a bunch of dudes with five-foot dongs petting one another onstage? For me the answer was never. And truth be told, I was a little scared. Still, I tried to be nonchalant as I walked into the theater.

Soon I was in a dark room watching a naked man dance to Bel Biv Devoe. I picked an inconspicuous seat in a shadowy corner, but as soon as the dancer saw me, he stepped off the stage and wandered into my private space. The naked man shook his wiener from side to side as he stared into my eyes. "How’re you doing?" I asked. "I’m good," the naked man said. He stepped closer and closer until his leg was touching mine. "Would you like a lap dance?" he asked. "No, actually, I’m here from the newspaper, writing a story about strip clubs," I blurted. He sensed my apprehension and backed off a little. Then, with a mischievous smile on his face and a growing member in his hand, he said, "That’s OK, honey, I’ll give you one for free." He placed my trembling hands on his ass cheeks and began to sway.

All told, I think I had another man’s penis in my face for about two minutes. When he was finished, he said, "That was just a taste, and you should still tip a little, but if you want more, you gotta pay."

"Thanks for everything," I said, "but I gotta get going." I dug in my wallet for some ones and then looked up in confusion. Where the hell was I supposed to put the money? When he noticed the look on my face, the naked man turned around and put his bum in the air. "Here you go," he said. I hesitated for a moment and then just figured it was protocol. As I went to put the money in the naked man’s ass, he jumped away and said, "Gotcha! You think I let people put dirty-ass bills in there? You must be crazy." I realized at this point that the dancer had been fucking with me the entire time. He stuck his tongue out, winked, and left to go dance for a group of daytime drunks in back.


On my way out the door, I was approached by two other strippers, Craven and Kaci, who had heard I was writing about their club. They laughed and posed and told me stories about stripping days gone by. They liked working at the club, they said. They were happy there.

As I sat smoking and hanging out with them in the doorway, I realized that the whole day had felt pretty gross until now. Something about the straight clubs made me feel sick, but that something was all but absent here. These dudes were actually enjoying themselves. The two straight clubs I had seen seemed to reflect the general population’s attitude toward sex. They were dark, shameful places, hidden in bad neighborhoods, where rules abounded. It seemed that here at the Nob, though, you could pretty much do whatever the hell you wanted. I had an epiphany that night: if I had to choose between hanging out at a gay strip club and a straight one, I would choose the former. Does that mean I’m gay? *


1077 Market, SF

(415) 255-1005


980 Market, SF

(415) 771-6259


729 Bush, SF

(415) 781-9468


The man behind America’s Biggest Dick


Dick Fucking Cheney is uncensored and exceptionally ornery in Bryan Boyce’s short video America’s Biggest Dick, which someone other than Boyce posted to YouTube, where it’s gotten 18,000 views and counting. The popularity of the clip isn’t surprising — it’s fucking great. In putting together this week’s cover story about TV tweak tactics, I recently spoke with Boyce — who will be showing new work at Other Cinema soon — about many of his videos. We also talked about the Wiener Dog National Championships.


Guardian: Can you tell me a bit about when you first began working with TV footage?
Bryan Boyce: Back when I was in college the way I would learn a new editing system was with televangelists – Robert Tilton in particular. He just lends himself to all the extremes of the system, such as “How do you make something play backward?”.

more results — DCCC


By Tim Redmond
At City Hall

More than half the precincts are in, and we know what the 13th AD Democratic County Central Committee will look like, more or less.

The top 12 right now:

Bierman, Campos, Katz, Wiener, Thier, Spanjian, Goldstein, Haaland, Barnes, Crowley, Mandleman, Julian.

On the cusp: Cassiol, Paulson, Martinez, and Galbreath.

Pretty close to the Guardian slate.



For those of you who are still trying to vote, I’m really sorry that our endorsements haven’t been available, but here they are:

The Clean Slate
Our endorsements for the June 6 election. Tear off and take to the polls
National races
(D) No endorsement
(G) Senate
Todd Chretien
Congress, District 6
(D) Lynn Woolsey
Congress, District 7
(D) George Miller
Congress, District 8
(D) No endorsement
Congress, District 8
(G) Krissy Keefer
Congress, District 9
(D) Barbara Lee
Congress, District 11
(R) Pete McCloskey
Congress, District 12
(D) No endorsement
Congress, District 13
(D) Pete Stark
State races and propositions
(D) Phil Angelides
Lieutenant governor
(D) Jackie Speier
Secretary of state
(D) Debra Bowen
(D) Joe Dunn
(D) Bill Lockyer
Attorney general
(D) Jerry Brown
Insurance commissioner
(D) Cruz Bustamante
Board of Equalization, District 1
(D) Betty Yee
Superintendent of public instruction
(nonpartisan) Jack O’Connell
Senate, District 12
(D) Leland Yee
Assembly, District 12
(D) Janet Reilly
Assembly, District 12
(G) Barry Hermanson
Assembly, District 13
(D) Mark Leno
Assembly, District 14
(D) Loni Hancock
Assembly, District 16
(D) Sandré Swanson
Proposition 81
Proposition 82
San Francisco races and propositions
Superior Court, Judicial Seat 8
Eric Safire
San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee:
District 12
Susan Hall, Trevor McNeill, Jane Morrison, Melanie Nutter, Connie O’Connor, Roy Recio, Arlo H. Smith, David Wong
District 13
Bill Barnes, David Campos, Gerry Crowley, Rick Galbreath, Michael Goldstein, Robert Haaland, Joseph Julian, Rafael Mandelman, Tim Paulson, Laura Spanjian, Holli Thier, Scott Wiener
Proposition A
Proposition B
Proposition C
Proposition D
Alameda County races and measures
Roy Thomsen
Patrick O’Connell
District attorney
No endorsement
Gregory J. Ahern
Superintendent of public instruction
Sheila Jordan
Superior Court, Judicial Seat 22
Fred Remer
Measure A
Measure B
Oakland races
Ron Dellums
Courtney Ruby
City Council, District 2
Aimee Allison
City Council, District 4
Jean Quan
City Council, District 6
Desley Brooks
School board, District 2
David Kakishiba
School board, District 4
Gary Yee
School board, District 6
Chris Dobbins
Live election night coverage at
For detailed explanations of our endorsements and a printable version of this slate card, go to