Heart of the City Archives

Tougher times call for High hopes
by Hank Donat

"One of the best afternoons out on the bay - ever." That's how Lorin Rowan summed up the good life aboard "Dr. Hip" Eugene Schoenfeld's Higher Hopes for this year's KFOG Kaboom! concert. Rowan's assessment was apt. After threatening to cloud over most of the morning, it turned into the kind of day that makes you want to see the City with a hundred eyes. Golden light exposes the mysteries of San Francisco and its personalities.

Schoenfeld's fascinating circle of friends includes the author Herb Gold, publicist Lee Houskeeper, the Metreon's Peggy Dohrman, the singing Rowan Brothers, artist/writer Faustin Bray, activists Michael and Michelle Aldrich, attorneys Nedra Ruiz and Lawrence Richter, and Famous Melissa, to name just a few of the great characters aboard for a memorable tour from Sausalito to SBC (Should-Be-Called) PacBell Park. "Melissa was un-famous until she made a dress out of American Express cards," a guest told me before bursting, "She's brilliant!" Ruiz defended Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller.

Schoenfeld's party was a birthday bash for his father, Ben Schoenfeld, but everyone agreed it was nice of KFOG to arrange fireworks and a concert. At 93, Ben has twice the wit of men half his age. Political discussions aboard the Higher Hopes are always wide reaching. Ben doesn't miss a note. No surprise, he spent time with Albert Schweitzer. The group celebrated Ben with great affection. Asked what he wanted for his birthday, Ben said, "Another birthday."

The semi-famous Rowan Brothers, Lorin and Chris, are putting the final touches on a new double-CD, "Now and Then." The "Now" disc was a soundtrack for the afternoon. The lilting and bluegrassy cut, "Circle of Friends," is a standout, something for a playlist with the Beatles' "In My Life," and Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide."

The Rowans have made a living in the music industry for more than 30 years in spite of Clive Davis' assertion early in their careers that they were on the order of the Beatles. Some say Davis' braggadocio was a curse, but Lorin says, "I don't think so." Ricky Skaggs' recording of Lorin's "Soldier of the Cross" is a recent Grammy winner.

It's encouraging to hear that independent music labels are bearing up against a weak industry. "Now and Then" is way above today's pop idol factory. Jerry Garcia appears on the Rowan's "Then" disc from the new set. Visit www.rowanbrothers.com.

Dude where's my City? That was my reaction to the news that Lori Haigh had decided to give up her North Beach art gallery after facing death threats for displaying a painting depicting the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers. When a single mother and independent businesswoman is terrorized out of her storefront for showing an art work, San Francisco is not San Francisco.

At press time, neighbors and supporters were discussing a plan to display "The Abuse" by Guy Colwell in a prominent place in defiance of those who
allegedly assaulted Haigh, threatened her and her family, and vandalized her Capobianco gallery. Still, it's a pity that the cowards won at all by intimidating this lady with their rage. It should be directed at people like George W. Bush who create shameful realities, not paintings of them.

I saw that Haigh had papered over the windows of Capobianco early last week on my way to a monthly neighborhood dinner not for but with the homeless. A North Beach guy puts the dinner together with donations and other support from some local restaurateurs. Since none of them do it for thanks, I won't mention their names. I only thought you should know that something positive was going on a few steps away from something so heinous. (Read the Sidebar, Capobianco.)

Also in the area of good works, the Lesbian Health Research Center (LHRC) of UCSF is honoring civic and community leaders at the new Jewish Community Center at California and Presidio Avenue on June 19. District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty is being recognized along with philanthropist Josephine Cole and researcher Esther Rothblum, PhD.

"As a gay man," says Dufty, "I feel that there's been a lot of attention on our health issues and social marketing of health concerns to men in the community. Lesbian health concerns have not received the level of attention that they deserve."

Dufty says Bush policies force federally funded researchers to change the names of projects they're working on so they are not clearly identified as involving gays, lesbians, and transgender people. This stymies the efforts of people who share and consume that research including hospitals and other service providers.

"Cultural sensitivity is very important," Dufty says, "LHRC really goes to providers as well as researchers." Dufty held hearings on lesbian health concerns at the Board of Supervisors. Lesbians have high rates of depression and issues with alcohol and nutrition. Visit lesbianhealthinfo.org.

Over breakfast and conversation at the Squat and Gobble Cafˇ on 16th Street, Dufty's interest in the health of the community is obvious. This is not just his district; it's his 'hood. "It's also a major concern to me that substance abuse issues are really skyrocketing among younger people," Dufty says, "It's estimated that 200,000 adolescents here are in need of services and maybe seven percent of them are getting any care at all." Dufty is working with researchers at the Schwab Foundation to advance this cause.

Dufty and I head over to the Castro Theatre to congratulate Michael Lumpkin and Jennifer Morris, co-directors of the 28th SF International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, "Frameline 28," which opens June 17. During the block and a half walk from the cafˇ to a Frameline reception at the theatre, Dufty greets a number of local business people and friends along the sidewalk.

Catch seafood restaurant owner David Weiss tells us about his new web site; Dufty takes time to offer praise to a man who is transforming a sidewalk in front of The Cafˇ on Market Street by removing gum; a woman lobbies Dufty against trusting Trinity Properties to not displace tenants when it tears down the building at 8th and Market. These are the people in the neighborhood. Each has great concerns of the day, and higher hopes for tomorrow.

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Copyright 2004 Hank Donat
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