Heart of the City Archives

City has an antidote for the blue state blues

by Hank Donat

A few days into lights up on 2005 and the blur that was '04 lingers. Perhaps it's the Christmas tree corpses piled up on the City's sidewalks, or the continuing rain that tap-tap-taps our cracked and broken streets.

This din of nature, wind and rain hissing through the trees, provides the white noise that endures behind our thoughts of discontent. Or, perhaps it's not the trees at all, but rather a drum beat, sounding dread as we hurl toward Act III of the Bushes.

As I look out at the container ships that make their way across the Bay almost daily, I agree with SF comedian Will Durst, who figures that our votes ought to count twice. "No one wants to blow up Cleveland," says Durst, who is apparently not feeling so lucky that our votes count even once.

Still, there is also the sound of baby birds chirping up a storm of their own in the trees along Baker Street near Green. Hatchlings are not unexpected in the dead of winter by San Francisco Bay, where it might as well be spring.

Ten days into 2005 and I think Ed Asner may finally be finished reading the history of the City that was such a stem-winder at Mayor Gavin Newsom's inaugural ceremony last year.

During the campaign, I wrote a column about candidate Newsom titled, "Look Ma, no horns!" In it, I attempted to demonstrate that Newsom wasn't the devil, as many street-level Matt Gonzalez supporters would have had you believe.

And so it was with great amusement last week that I observed a man dressed as Satan in red horns, cape, and trident as he testified during the public comment section of Gonzalez' final meeting as a member of the Board of Supervisors and as its president.

"Matt Gonzalez," roared the devil, "You have thwarted my agenda for the past four years. What do you have to say for yourself now?" It was a classic moment in Supe soup, and one that proves Green Party supporters have more humor than was previously believed. I knew it all along, though. The Newsom camp mostly thought I was damning Gav in "Look Ma," as if the nicest thing I could say about their guy was the fact that he's not the devil.

The prevailing sentiment from Gonzalez' colleagues on the board was that he brought a level of seriousness and respect to the public discourse. It's something Newsom has done as well.

I once asked Gonzalez if it were possible to have a serious conversation about our City as long as we're using terms like Nazi, Communist, and of course, the devil. "That's a problem," Gonzalez said, "and besides, who knew the Nazis and Communists were so active in San Francisco that they could get two candidates in the run-off?"

At the Alcazar Theatre on Geary Street on New Year's Eve, Broadway and art world/cabaret star Sandra Bernhard did more than just pepper curse words between references to President George Bush, as was reported by a Chronicle writer who did not attend the show. Bernhard's year-end evening of songs and rants, which is becoming a beloved recurring occasion here, included a call to arms.

"I know you're demoralized," Bernhard said, "I know you're thinking, 'I demonstrated,' but you didn't do it enough!" Sometimes it helps to be reminded that we are the cradle of protest and a beacon to many parts of the country and the world.

Bernhard opened the set with her original song, "Another New Year's Eve in San Francisco." The ballad, a poignant satire of loneliness and loveliness, would stand appropriately alongside the City's great anthems, but don't hold your breath for a wide release. "I have to bootleg my own s--- to make a dollar these days," says Bernhard.

In the time it takes to prepare this column, 2005 comes rushing in. "Newsoms Divorcing!" screams my email. The public story is that the mayor and his wife - married only three years - have grown weary of their commuter relationship. Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom became a television corresponded based in New York beginning around the time her husband took office. The Newsoms are separated, so the story goes, not by their hearts but by a sea of red states between two blue ones.

As a newlywed myself, I offer the following advice to the mayoral couple who have become the un-Kennedys quicker than you could say "red eye."

For Kimberly; If you really are thinking, "Something's got to go and it's not my gig," then you have a ball and give my regards to the crowd at Elaine's.

For the mayor; Don't sit there and lick your wounds and don't worry about a thing. The City offers the best antidote to the blue state blues that even money and power can't buy. What's that? Friendship, the art of nature, and laughter to name only a few. Just take a look out your window, or read this column again from the beginning.

Welcome to MisterSF.com. Please visit the site often to keep in touch with San Francisco, for your own amusement, and to use the Local Joints section as a portal for independent businesses. Keep your money in the neighborhoods... Watch this space for observations, interviews and more from around town. All other sections of MisterSF.com are also updated continually, so come back and watch us grow!

Contact MisterSF.com

Copyright 2005 Hank Donat
mistersf.com home