Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:

Political Glitz: Fade to Black

With Art Bruzzone

By Art Bruzzone, special to Fog City Journal

February 19, 2008

San Francisco --- where film crews are rarely seen, where the Hollywood elite comes to dine and escape their crazed fans --- we have our glitz.

It's minor stuff, though. Glitz here is no more than adolescent flashing. Just a step up from those American teens, who, armed with webcams and a YouTube site, become stars for a couple of weeks, then slip back into their small towns all around the country.

Island-like San Francisco sits in the dominating shadow of "Hollywood."

Hollywood, of course, died long ago. Developers and hookers now share Hollywood Boulevard. But Hollywood flash and glitz lingers on -- the garish displays and excesses of mythical Hollywood, streak like the chemical tail of a disintegrated comet. Would-be actors, writers, hip-hop groups and porn stars still roam the streets of L.A. It's part of the "industry" -- a free-for-all jungle, where only a handful claw out a living. Like an overcrowded colony of rats in an inescapable cage, they're hunted by producers who search for those talented enough, strong enough, brash enough to outwit, outlast, and out-perform the competition. That's how stars are born in Hollywood. But for many, the trouble starts once they've made it.

Our "stars" will do whatever necessary to get a sound bite on the six o'clock news, or an interview on Fox News. Who are our stars? Not the city's multi-billionaire capitalists in the Financial District. Not the gaming wizards in SoMa kicking out multi-million dollar video games. Not our biotech scientists in Mission Bay who are engineering hybrid forms of life, and certainly not the hundreds of talented artists, writers, actors, singers and rock musicians, Latin and hip-hop groups that struggle to eek out a living in the Bay Area. They don't get much camera time.

Our stars are the politicians - the current Gen X occupiers of City Hall.

And for a time they had the goods-camera time, that is. Fortunately, that's fading. Just as celebrity status in L.A. is now associated with emotional crack-ups and driving under the influence, political glitz here has burned itself out. There's a parallel at work.

In L.A, at glitz's high mark, sometime last year, Paris Hilton dominated every form of media, managed to get by with one famous line, a video, and her Mona Lisa smile. Paparazzi nightly climbed over each other to get crotch shots, and cameras tracked the stars playing and puking in L.A.'s bars and lounges.

At the same time, in San Francisco, our politicians were treated like rock stars. Mayor Gavin Newsom rubbed shoulders with the political elite in Davos, Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval got his five minutes of infamy on the "O'Reilly Factor", while District Attorney Kamala Harris and former San Francisco Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein fans, and haters, pounded out their anonymously cloaked emotions on local chat boards. Supervisor Chris Daly became our Sean Penn bad boy, while Harris became a stand-in for Angelina Jolie. And for an instant, the two worlds - San Francisco and Hollywood - met when the Mayor, and a second tier Hollywood actress linked up, under the aura of Scientology (very popular in L.A.).

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Sophia Milos lock spirits during a 2006 wedding reception.

But all that has changed.

While the psycho disintegration of Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan - jail time for Hilton - and dozens of DUI arrests closed down the hype in L.A., our boy, the mayor, had his bout with substance abuse, simulated rehab, had an ugly Room 200 sex scandal, was contrite, and filled with embarrassment. Over at the Board, the pronouncements, green initiatives, anti-war rhetoric and useless resolutions, have become like a stuttering mp3 player. Both in L.A. and here in San Francisco, the performers, the 'stars', have devolved into that one, strictly prohibited condition in show business: They've become predictable, and boring.

The writers strike revealed the truth about "Hollywood". Without a script - without the memorized lines - the stars are like anonymous pedestrians without makeup. And here, without real results, with violence on our streets, homeless cramped into doorways, under freeways, dying daily, many hopelessly insane, our politicians now dodge scrutiny and the cameras. They talk to themselves, watching the clock as their terms run out.

And the fans, well, they head home, disappointed. The show's over for them. Not much more for them to do now, unless, of course, they turn on their computer and wander over to the Barack Obama website.

Obama, well, now, there's a real star, streaking towards history, or on a collision course with his very worried party.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama

Art Bruzzone hosts weekly conversations on the City and beyond at Comcast's "San Francisco/unscripted" (SFunscripted.com)







The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa