Archive for the ‘Public’ Category

COP “I’ll break your arm like a twig”

Illegal to skateboard in San Francisco?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAsUOZpPN9w[/youtube]

Never mind that this cops understanding of the law is way outdated, try 6 years old. It is a matter of fact, Skateboarding is allowed in all those places he claims it is not. Read for yourself, the only provision in the county code when Skating isn’t allowed:

San Francisco City and County law

“a) Prohibits skateboarding on any city street at any time, on any sidewalk in any business district at any time, and on any non-business district sidewalk commencing 30 minutes after sunset and ending 30 minutes before sunrise (Traffic Code, Section 100)”

Snipped from the Supes Legislative analysts memo from 2003.

Skateboarding is only illegal at NIGHT. This kid looks to be right, this cop is acting like a fucking dick. I mean fer chrissakes we even have a SF Skateboarding Task Force (PDF)!

Angry mob assails long-time Healdsburg peace demo

On the Open Salon site, Clio Tarazi, writing as “Stellaa,” wrote this morning about witnessing an incident on the town square in Healdsburg, a wine country town about 70 miles north of San Francisco on US 101, where every Thursday at 6 pm some residents of the town gather for an hour-long peace vigil. Last night, she writes, a group of out-of-towners, possibly people on a wine country tour, began yelling insults at the demonstrators — some ten townspeople — then crossed the street and began screaming in their faces.

The vigil holders stood up to them … pulled away a woman who was the most aggressive, and they walked away shaking their heads and fists. Their faces were contorted from anger.

The bullies had this look on their face of having done something virtuous — a gleeful, high-five, we-kicked-their-butts look. I had my phone, but did not think of taking pictures of the brutish expressions on their faces. I cussed at them as they walked by and glared at them. There were not enough people on the square to shame them.

There was something grotesque about them calling the man holding the “Hiroshima, Never Again” sign all kinds of vulgar names in the name of patriotism and America.

The writer goes on to wonder whether this confrontation was an outgrowth of the protests against health care reform orchestrated by business interests and lobbying groups.

It will be interesting to see what happens during next week’s peace demonstration in Healdsburg.

Upset at beggars? Pick the right target

The Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius writes about a woman with a four-year-old son begging on the street in the Financial District. Nearby office workers, led by a sympathetic woman named Anna Samovol, got the woman and her child winter coats and Christmas gifts and eventually paid for them to go live with relatives in Pennsylvania.

Feel-good story? Not anymore. The woman and her kid are back. Samoval said, “I saw her at the BART station. I was pissed off.”
 
I’ve felt frustrated by beggars too. When I worked downtown I would encounter the same beggars on the same corners literally for years on end. When a familiar face was replaced by another mendicant, only to return a day or two later and reclaim his spot, I joked with co-workers that the unfamiliar guy must have been a temp. On another day, I passed a beggar with an amusing sign, then encountered another beggar a little farther on.

Me: You should have a sign like that guy back there.
Second beggar, unamused: The other day he had a kitten.

But generally I found them not a source of amusement but a pain in the ass. I told myself that they were lazy, that it was their fault they were there, that if it wasn’t their fault then they probably had something wrong with them that couldn’t be helped by my small donation. A story like the one about the woman and her son who were shipped to Pennsylvania only to return to the streets of San Francisco seems to reinforce that idea. If a ticket back home to relatives won’t help, then what good can I do by giving a dollar, or even a hundred dollars?

Finally I realized that all these projections on my part were futile. If I give someone a quarter, or a plane ticket, they don’t owe me anything in return. They don’t owe me improved behavior, or recovery from whatever is oppressing them, or disappearance from my sight. They don’t owe me anything. A gift is just that.

If I want to be pissed off by the fact there are beggars on the streets, there are plenty of good targets for my anger: start with Proposition 13 and the war on drugs, and go from there.

What do you do on public transit? Nothing… or something?

Macarthur BART, photo by Robert Schwandl

Local photographer Thomas Hawk made a very interesting post on his website today, reporting his “unscientific survey” of what commuters were doing on his 9 a.m. BART train from MacArthur to Embarcadero this morning. He didn’t ask anyone what they were doing, relying on his own observations. Most people were “doing nothing,” he found; others he broke down into “other” and into several categories of reading. See his post for the stats.

I love the idea of noticing what others are doing, and recording it unobtrusively and reporting it. It sounds a bit creepy when put that way, but there’s nothing wrong with doing so in a public space. I’d love to see people do this exact thing from time to time: walk the length of a bus or train and compile the same stats, or different ones. It’s just as valuable and interesting to report on skirt lengths, how many people smell, or the number of people wearing glasses.

That said, it’s interesting that Hawk happened to sort his survey by media consumption, and that he expresses surprise that “so many of the people on BART were simply doing nothing (this included sleeping as well).” Of course, BART, and public transit in general, is a great place to read. I’ve sometimes gotten on a BART train and ridden all the way to the end of the line and back just to have a comfortable reading experience uninterrupted by phones, people I know, my cats, or trips to the refrigerator. But those who were sitting quietly “doing nothing” may have relished the chance to do so as much as the people who were devouring media. As someone who sits in front of a computer all day and, often, much of the evening, I find it nice to have a time where I can’t do so — this includes driving, going to the ballgame or the symphony, and yes, “doing nothing.”

By the way, I just noticed that BART has a page on its website where it collects blog and Twitter posts about BART.

1930s era SF ‘wonderful creations’ include Alcatraz?

I missed this LA Times travel piece when it came out a month ago — a nice little writeup on how many San Francisco landmarks were built during the Great Depression of the 1930s, from the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower to the Opera House. Here is a beautiful photo gallery.

Other newspapers are still reprinting the piece: for example the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, whose website today highlights one curious 1930s San Francisco landmark: Alcatraz, which opened in 1934. Their headline says Wonderful creations emerged during the hard times of the ’30s, with a picture of Alcatraz right underneath. Somehow I doubt the copy editor who wrote that headline has been to Alcatraz.

Anyway, the piece nicely totes up the number of Diego Rivera murals in the city, including the one at the San Francisco Stock Exchange (“What were the stockbrokers thinking?”) — and the one at City College.

Nancy’s a Natural @ Naturalization This Saturday

This Saturday is Nancy Pelosi’s annual free workshop for future citizens to be delivered at a location on the edge of the Civic Center neighborhood… (I wonder if any of the notorious immigrant crack dealers with “Amnesty” who work around the corner near Hyde & Golden Gate will drop by…)
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Preview Presidio Renovations

100px-presidio_trust.jpgIn 1994, the Army turned the Presidio over to the national park system. And in doing so created one of the finest public spaces in SF and California. Originally founded approximately 1776, there are now plans to renovate some key sections of the Presidio, including the greening of what is now a parking lot, but what used to be called the Parade Ground. Along with building a tunnel for the Doyle drive approach to the Golden Gate bridge. The Parade grounds are lined by Barracks, which are mostly offices and at the southern edge where Donald Fisher wants to build a museum.

The tunnel plan is really interesting as it will connect the western edge of the Parade Grounds with the beachfront at the west end of Chrissy Field, whereas today if you were to walk from the parade grounds to the beach you would walk under the Doyle drive approach (it’s elevated freeway). This would also create some nice beach views from the newly recreated Parade grounds.

lawnview.jpg

Funding? From what I’ve read it’s not fully evident where the money comes from. The current docs state:

To achieve its mission, the Trust generates revenues by leasing the park’s buildings. Federal appropriations diminish each year and will cease at the end of fiscal year 2012. The Trust uses these sources of funding to operate the park and undertake necessary capital improvements.

Overview of new area, parking and poll

Carnaval in more ways than one

Today’s the annual San Francisco version of Carnaval — always the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, since its traditional Mardi Gras date happens in February when the weather is likely to be horrid here — featuring squads of be-feathered dancing girls and boys cavorting and shimmying down Mission St. It’s a great parade, if you’ve never seen it. And if you miss it, just check Flickr in a few hours. (Update: try the 2008carnaval tag.)

Also today, conveniently beginning a few hours after the parade of nearly-naked people: the annual Masturbate-a-thon, a benefit for the Center For Sex and Culture. It starts at 3:00 pm, features live performances by real porn stars, and is open to all persuasions. Interestingly, it costs $20 to participate — and $40 to just watch.

Think You Know SF?

Door

buddha These people really know SF: Flickr’s “Guess Where SF Pool”. Above photo was guessed in mere minutes (it was too easy!) and others (to the right) have yet to be found. I’m new to the game so my photos aren’t as good, but go in yourself and try to outdo the dozen or so superstar visual sleuths. The rules are: add a comment below the photo noting the address or cross-street. They are difficult. And then you start seeing the city in a new way. There are rules on context, so it can’t be completely impossible. Though I did post a photo of a cement square with keys in it, which I thought was unique. Originally posted by Mark P. (thanks Mark! Or should I say no thanks since I’m seriously addicted?)

R.I.P Jack Davis

Word filters in from friends that an icon of the local arts underground has passed away, that being a big man with big impact, Jack Davis.

Whether you remember him onstage coordinating acts at the early SF Blues Festivals, or from behind the scenes at The Farm or SOMArts Cultural Center or serving as Commodore of The Bayview Boat Club or perhaps on the Mayor’s recent Arts Task Force, he was a hard working, (for awhile hard drinking) and truly memorable spirit serving this city over at least the last 35 some years. He lived out by the houseboats near Pac Bell, in a community of renegade spirits, and was a true character, of the kind that cannot ever be recreated.

Not to be confused with the notorious local political consultant of the same name, this Jack Davis was known for his many contributions to the local arts scene, serving on the boards of organizations like S.F Mime Troupe and in the 1970′s helped get Intersection For The Arts off the ground. He was actually instrumental in helping so many groups and creative spirits it’s hard to document the contributions, including helping launch the four art cultural centers in the city, and he did so without divisive power squabbles, ugly ego or taking undue credit. The well liked guy’s heart just finally gave out last weekend, apparently while driving, almost a year to the week that a previous heart attack had set him back.

sadly, SOMarts annual Day of The Dead exhibit curated by Rene Yanez will have one more addition to mourn…

After the jump… there’s an excerpt of an excellent tribute piece written by John Law last year, after Jack had suffered his first heart attack.
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