Friends when you need them most.
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Laurie Lazer, Luggage Store Gallery




Judy Young, Vietnamese Youth Development Center




Terrance Alan, Tenderloin Economic Development Project




Darryl Smith, El Jardinero



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Debra Walker, Artist




Krissy Keefer, Dance Mission



The following was emailed to the SF Board of Supervisors on April 1, 2018.

Dear Supervisor Peskin:

As a relatively new addition to District 3, I respectfully request that you oppose Senator Weiner’s SB 827.

Like you, Supervisor Peskin, I’m a millionaire. Actually, Wells Fargo owns most of my home, so I’m merely a thousandaire. But I want to be a millionaire, so more housing cost appreciation, from less housing creation, is my ultimate hope for achieving my aspiration. And I don’t have any kids so what do I care, plus, there’s just no room to spare.

Let’s keep San Francisco exclusive, and affordability elusive. Please remain obtrusive, to those YIMBY morons who want us to be inclusive.

All that money for higher-density housing and public transit – density & public transit, in California! – when it could be for a wall, not just to our south, but to the east and north as well. (Thank God for the Pacific Ocean.)

More immigrants? Maybe even refugees? And those DACA kids? Teachers?! Our solemn duty as San Franciscans is to protest – we love a good protest here in SF! – the unfairness of their plight. But not to house them as if it were a right.

Keep SF for True San Franciscans. Native San Franciscans. True Californians. Let’s make California great again Supervisor Peskin.

That nonsense Senator Weiner keeps talking about regarding ending sprawl. There’s still plenty of pristine land to sprawl on. And plenty of oil to burn to fuel our cars. Sprawl and cars are what made California! Just look at all those oil rigs dotting the seascape along the coast. Drill baby drill. If the local Sierra Club condones sprawl why shouldn’t we? Plus our current President says there’s no such thing as global warming.

Speaking of presidents, I’m personally relieved that Obama is out of office. His Housing Development Toolkit of September 2016 – issued directly from the White House! – called for ridiculous initiatives like SB 827. He even suggested that local barriers to housing development ultimately diminishes the supply of affordable housing, exacerbates income inequality, increases displacement and gentrification. I’m thinking, so what? I know we’re number one in socioeconomic stratification, but I have a nice view outside my window and the waiting time for a table at my favorite bistro isn’t too bad. Know what I’m sayin’? I’ll attach a copy of Obama’s paper here just for laughs.

Can we at least introduce an amendment to SB 827 that will allow us to curate the newcomers? I think some kind of screening process to make sure they’re our kind of people would be a reasonable safeguard measure to protect our beloved neighborhood quality. I volunteer to staff a desk at one of our city’s borders. I’ll wear my SF First button.

Or we can immediately declare all of San Francisco one big historic district so no one can build anything anyway, unless it’s super high-end luxury that passes the gigantic mitigation fees on to the buyers. We’re already pretty good at using farcical claims of historical relevance to protect and promote racial and economic inequality while forcing more luxury housing development. Historic garages. Historic laundromats. Historic hothouses. Historic fake tunnels. Let’s blanket the city in historic district protectionism!

I imagine you read about the dead shopping mall in Cupertino that will be converted to 2400 new homes. The City of Cupertino clearly dropped the Historical Dead Mall designation ball. (There was a Sears there, for goodness sake.) Senator Weiner strikes again; this kind of streamlined housing development cannot stand, and we look to you to protect our land.

Our nation looks to San Francisco as a beacon of progressivism. And rightfully so. If there’s a protest to be made, a march to join, a banner to wave – we’re on it! Just let us know. But to house these people that want to live here? Come on, let’s be reasonable. We can’t be asked to do everything. In fact, speaking of banners in support of your resolution, how about: San Francisco: We Were Here First!

Straight Outta District 3,
Elvin Padilla, Jr.

P.S. I’m proud of my former Supervisor, Jane Kim, for her strong leadership. As District 6 Supervisor, she assured the many poor living in the Tenderloin’s firetrap 8X10 rooms that they’ll be safe from the newcomers coming to mid-Market. (I know she recently rolled out a campaign-inspired clean streets campaign in mid-Market – a big threat to our poor families – but she resisted nobly for several years and should get credit for it.) Now, as mayoral candidate, she’s telling the housing-appreciation millionaires (HAMs) in West Portal that they’ll also be safe from newcomers. That’s a neat parlor trick. I especially like her mayoral campaign slogan: This is Our City. Take It Back! As our current President recently demonstrated, nothing gets people to the polls like raising fear of porous borders. I know I got my Make SF Great Again cap ready.


Below are Supervisor Kim’s deletions of various arts initiatives in Mayor Ed Lee’s October 2011 draft plan for Central Market.   As is clear, Supervisor Kim opposed the mayor’s office creating – or even exploring – new funding resources for the arts, arts facilities, and affordable housing for low-income artists (even privately funded).  Catalytic community arts projects are not “a priority.”

These edits demonstrate an entirely different position on the arts than what Supervisor Kim has communicated publicly.

Supervisor Kim’s deletions of Mayor Ed Lee’s plan:

  • Create a mini-grant program to fund artists and arts organizations that will implement this type of programming.
  • Create incentives for developers and property owners to develop and maintain facilities for arts organizations and uses.
  • Support privately-funded development of housing that includes live/work housing for low-income artists that engage the local community.
  • Provide support to catalytic commercial and housing development projects—including arts and culture establishments as stand-alone or mixed-use projects—that transform large portions of vacant property.


It was a unanimous vote by the Planning Commission.  Congrats to Craig Young and ilana Lipset!  The public comments were across the board positive, though there was one from an undefined mid-Market “coalition” that expressed concern about the risk of “psychological displacement” as higher-income residents move into the neighborhood.

Psychological displacement.  I’m guessing this means that the Tenderloin’s poor, living in protected rooms/housing, will look at the new people moving in – their new apartments with toilets and fire sprinklers, the businesses that cater to them (the Black Cats, the Biigs), maybe the clothes they wear – and feel an immediate need for psychological counseling services?

This, by the way, is a primary reason why the arts are so important.  We want a level playing field to counteract “psychological displacement?”   Then we should invest heavily in arts facilities, public markets, playgrounds, rec centers where we all can meet, break bread, and share these fundamental human experiences regardless of our backgrounds.

Here’s my admittedly non-scientific take on the situation.  Nice people who have money will move into both 1028 and 950.  They will be neighbors and interact with the Tenderloin’s nice people who have little or no-money.   Have money, have little money, have no money – we will all be nice people together.  Of course, there are low-income, middle-income and high-income people that are jerks, but we’ll deal with them.   There will be a yellow one that won’t accept the black one, that won’t accept the red one that won’t accept the white one.  And different strokes for different folks.  And so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby.

As a simple guiding principal I propose: New or long-term resident, rich or poor, you respect the Tenderloin – and its residents – or you need to leave.

Poor people are not necessarily helpless people.  Quite the contrary; in the Tenderloin you will find some of the strongest people you’ve ever met.  No psychological counseling necessary, though moving toward a healthier, more integrated community, sharing the same stuff everybody needs, would be nice.  Time for the champions of segregation to step aside.  We’re all Everyday People.  Oh sha sha.  We got to live together.

A big shoutout to Krissy Keefer and Dance Brigade on their brilliant 40th Anniversary Celebration at YBCA.  One of the most daring and life-affirming works of dance choreography I’ve ever witnessed.   Happy Anniversary!


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Krissy Keefer – creative, visionary genius behind Dance Brigade

30 Years of Luggage

January 31, 2017
The Legacy
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The Future

21 Club Reunion

January 31, 2017

Frankie, Veronica, George, John, Cookie, and of course Joanne of Jonell’s at Ellis & Jones. Many other Tenderloin old timers and residents.    The problem-bar-that-had-to-be-shut-down crowd.  Happy.  Hugging each other.  Celebrating.  The powerful and positive life-energy of the 100K+ Women’s March was palpable everywhere in the Tenderloin as the crowds streamed into the neighborhood afterward.  It was fitting to host the reunion at Jonell’s on that evening: Jonell’s run by three women who have been in the Tenderloin for ages and are not to be messed with.


21 Club icon Frankie (left) and Chef George @ Jonell’s.  Old TL theater stage hand John photobombing.


A lot of the old 21 Club crowd has since moved over to Aunt Charlie’s across the street.  I’ve moved over with them.  Aunt Charlie’s has the same “All are Welcome” vibe that Frankie’s place always had.  Joe and Barry, the barkeeps, have been there for decades. José and ninety-plus year old Bob, who has travelled the world, have been there for a mere 14 years or so.

That’s what I loved about Frankie’s.  It didn’t matter who you were, whether you had money or not, lived in a SRO or Pacific Heights mansion.  Your race, whether you did time (so long as there was no violence), who you slept with, none of that mattered.  (It helped if you were a Giants fan though.)

During 21’s last few years the corner @ Turk & Taylor got really rough.  Lots of drug trafficking and violence, culminating the night when eight people were shot outside. Frankie himself was a non-escalation Buddha master.  He had a disarming way with people.  The girls selling crack outside would come in sometimes to use the bathroom, but they never disrespected the place by trying to conduct business there.  Frankie was easy with people and loved by everyone.  He would only get irritated when the press reported shootings at the 21 that actually took place outside on the corner.

The new watering holes in the Tenderloin – the Black Cats, the Biig and the like – are fancy joints.  I’ve walked by a couple of times and have seen zero Tenderloin residents hanging out.  They’re “Uptown” establishments whereas 21 was, and Jonell’s and Aunt Charlie’s are, definitively Downtown.

Biig now occupies 21 Club’s notorious old corner.  They discuss seasonal drink concepts with patrons.  I don’t understand what’s so complicated; haven’t they heard of scotch?

I’m just kidding, I’ve had one wee dram too many  – Lagunitas 16! – courtesy of two dear friends of mine.  (I know what you’re thinking – I should be drinking Ron del Barrilito!)   I shouldn’t be a snob or hater, there’s way too much of that going around.   I have my own nostalgic inclinations that can lead to ignorance and intolerance for others. I’ll save up and stop by for a seasonal drink consultation one of these days, though I can imagine pops in heaven looking down at me and having a good laugh.   Pops, and Brooklyn/Queens Mets fans (after losing their beloved Dodgers), were Schaefer or Rheingold Extra Dry people.  (You don’t even want to talk about the Yankees.)   I remember driving by Schaefer’s giant plant each day on the way to the factory in Greenpoint.

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In the meantime, see you all at Aunt Charlie’s.  I don’t care what the plaques say – it’s in Downtown Tenderloin, and we don’t need the federal government to tell us where we are, who we are, or how important we are.

Forty-two years at Turk & Taylor.  Bon voyage Frankie.


The Glass is 63.71 % Full

January 31, 2017

I salute the organizers who pushed last year’s Proposition S campaign to near victory and in the process built a strong foundation on which the arts community’s resilience can grow, especially now that federal resources are being eviscerated.

63.71 percent and counting!  Check-in with Arts for Better Bay Area to learn what’s next.