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With h brown

Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

Court Jester reviews Code Pink anti-war rally,
meets father of imprisoned journalist Josh Wolf


By h. brown


March 22, 2007

"I'm on the pavement, looking at the government."

(Bob Dylan)

I smoked a cigar and watched as red-necked U.S. marshals in blazers replete with flags and 9-11 buttons (part of the uniform?) scurried to and fro beneath the ziggurat-defended federal building on Golden Gate at Hyde in San Francisco's combo Civic Center/Tenderloin neighborhood.

I'd come to meet Josh Wolf's old man, Len Harrison who was beginning a humble vigil for his son, the longest held U.S. journalist.

Len Harrison

Why does everyone hate the U.S.?

I'd phone-tagged with FCJ maven, Luke Thomas for coverage of the demonstration events planned before the federal building that day. Code Pink was going to be there featuring Chris Daly, Krissy Keefer and Ross Mirkarimi as speakers. Wolf's low-key pop (his views ain't so mainstream - ready for a California secession from the union? - I am) … the federal building is hostile territory.

It is like coming upon the beginnings of a ziggurat. It's a defensive emplacement involving all kinds of radical geometric angles of concrete with imbedded steel designed to puncture the tires of bomb-laden vehicles trying to drive into the lobby and center themselves before setting off their explosives (as an afterthought, they added imbedded brass studs at random intervals in the sheer walls that proved to be perfect launch ramps for skateboarders).

The criss-cross nature of the defenses with all the sharp angles, plunges and dips, makes that more difficult. Of course, a shopping cart carrying a small nuclear device can walk right up to the door.

And, constantly, you have these fat young federal marshals, racing to and fro, up and down the winding ADA accessible ramps outside the building, chattering into walkie talkies from a 1990 Radio Shack throw-away bin.

Places of evil are cold

Windy too in this case. These skyscrapers create their own weather patterns (let's see you keep a hat on your head or an umbrella in your hand within range of the Trans Bay Terminal's proposed 100 story tower - thanks Chris) … combined with the totally unprotected California State office building across the street, the wind tunnel in front of the federal building is considerable. The temperature there is a good 10 degrees cooler than it is in Alioto Plaza, a block away before City Hall.

It's windy and it's cold. There are (as mentioned) a range of concrete parapets zig-zagging up to the entry of the federal building and only Code Pink's Vicki Leidner knows this fact for certain (veteran of a thousand appearances here) and dresses accordingly.

I enter the scene. Three days since my last shower. Ten minutes since my last shot of bourbon and hit of fine weed (don't bring your pipes and dope onto federal grounds - those fat young kids with the walkie-talkies are from Oklahoma where "white lightning's still the biggest thrill of all") … I'm scoping the crowd for Thomas cause I want to see who he's 'shooting' so's I can tailor my copy that way.

I totally missed Josh's dad as I entered the federal reserve. He was right at the corner of Larkin and Golden Gate, at the bottom-most apex of the first triangle that began the winding defenses (still is … weekdays 9-6 to start). He was silent and blended in (who pays attention to an old guy sitting on the street in the Tenderloin?) My eye is drawn to movement and color and Medea Benjamin's demonstration has that. I see all of the banners and signs from Code Pink from a block away. The gigantic statue of Gandhi. The unfurled 12 foot banner. They're familiar and welcoming. I know they'll be surrounded by friends and the little man on the sidewalk with the burning candle is ignored.

"Perhaps he didn't want to be overshadowed."

One of the Code Pinkers laid that line on me when I asked if they knew if Josh's dad was there today. I thought that to be amazingly arrogant. I didn't know Len Harrison, but I'm a father and I figured he was gonna be there if he said he'd be there. Code Pink did well, though.

Actually, I didn't hear a single word any of their speakers uttered. I'm so used to watching and listening to the same people say the same things over and over that I tend to tune them out and focus on the scenery and the forms that occupy it. I still hadn't located Josh's dad when 2 beautiful women spoke to me almost simultaneously.

"I think that's Josh's dad at the start of the path."

(Krissy Keefer)

"My name is Hope and I met you at Ross's."


"If God made anything better than pussy, he kept it in Heaven, cause it ain't around here."

(my grandpa)

Grandpa wasn't there. Dead for 20 years or more. Family lore had him some kind of last link to a line of rabbis stretching back to King Solomon. To me as a little kid, he was just the old guy with the handlebar who could make snakes dance.

I held my arms closely to my sides so that the women couldn't smell my bad body odor. Ever do that? Sure, you have. Odd that 'lower' levels on the evolutionary chain rub their scents on tree stumps and stuff like that. I considered and thought this might not be the right idea in this situation. Could even bring some kind of 'quality of life' citation.

Mirk and Chris on running for mayor

`Chris hid behind his wife and child and 'negatives' as reasons for not running for Mayor this cycle. He freely offered that he'd be in the race for Speaker Pelosi's seat next year which is a real laugher. Whomever the hell sold him that as a viable next step in his career, could sell refrigerators to Eskimos, as they say.

Mirkarimi complained about direct incoherent quotes from him that were published in Fog CIty that made him seem incoherent. He wasn't clear about why he wouldn't run for Mayor.

Keefer said she'd gladly get into the race if someone wants to pay her entry fee. Typically on the Left, only the woman had balls.

Note to Hari Dillon

Mirk was clear on one thing. He could back Danny Glover for Mayor of San Francisco. He gave me the name of Glover's local contact, Hari Dillon of Danny's Vanguard group that directs his local efforts. I zapped an email but have heard nothing.

Ted Strawser's Wednesday's at Zeitgeist

I missed it yesterday. 6pm, every Wednesday from now until Eric Steinberg executes his alternative-journalists, Homeland Security sweep. Testing the manpower of the Bush administration's counter-intelligency (nice term) effort, the SF People's Party's founding honcho, Ted Strawser has recently begun a Wednesday evening Salon at Zeitgeist on Valencia at Duboce.

Does Warren Hellman pay Ken Garcia money?

Hey, SF Weekly's Matt Smith wrote a column a couple of years back about a long meeting he had with SF's 'man behind the curtain', Warren Hellman during which Hellman offered to give Smith some money every now and then because he (Hellman) wanted to help subsidize quality journalism in the City.

I shit you not. Now, up until that time, I'd always suspected that Hellman or other members of the Swells' Golden Gate Park privatization effort were paying Garcia for the numerous columns he churned out favoring their efforts.

After I read the Smith column, I was as certain as I could be, without holding the canceled checks in my hand, that Hellman had certainly been paying off Ken Garcia for all these years.

Garcia's announcement last week that he is not taking a position on 'Healthy Saturday's' pretty much confirmed my suspicions. I mean, the only thing that has changed in this latest joust is Hellman's position. Warren, in fact, spoke in front of the SF Chamber of Commerce this week and chastised those who, like himself, had promised to support a Saturday closure trial if he could get his garage built.

Ken Garcia

Old, beat up Warren, he kept his word. He lashed out at the two-faced denizens at the Chamber meeting who had also promised to support a Saturday closure trial but were now reneging.

So, when the Weekly's Smith (ironic, huh?) attacked Dede Wilsey and the Swells for trying to keep the poor out of the park, it was significant that her number one butt boy, Ken Garcia, didn't join her chorus. Could it be because Hellman is giving him more for Kenny boy's 'fair and balanced' view of the scene?

The term 'retard'

The 'R' in 'ARC' stands for 'retarded', folks. While I thought it unfortunate, that Matt Smith used the generally now considered negative term in his article, it is appropriate. For any member of that organization to complain about it is disingenuous. It's like someone complaining that one of the 'C's in NAACP stands for 'colored'.

Alioto vs Willie and Renne?

Be alerted that the upcoming Hunters Point Blacks Vs Lennar Development trial could feature a veritable local Williams Jennings Bryant Vs Clarence Darrow type lineup for those lucky enough to grab tickets to view.

Yeah, pretty good chance that Angela Alioto will be facing Police Commission President Louise Renne and ex-Mayor, Willie Brown, in the Lennar poisons native population fight.

'Colma Kid' keeps Jester drunk

Just as a champion athlete needs to follow a certain training regimen to achieve peak performance, many writers need to get drunk, high, stoned, clobbered, acidic, or whatever, to reach their own 'zone'. I'm that way.

Not that I can't churn out this drivel straight, but hey, why bother even trying? Thus, a big thanks goes out this week to my reader who calls himself the 'Colma Kid' for sending me the 6 crisp $5 bills on St. Patrick's day. While we ain't reaching Hellman levels, every dime, I can assure you, was used in the manner in which you expected it would be used.


Not me.


You're kidding, right?

Having fun?

Ahhhh, now you got me.

h. brown is a 62 year-old keeper of sfbulldog.com, an eclectic site featuring a half dozen City Hall denizens. h is a former sailor, firefighter, teacher, nightclub owner, and a hard-living satirical muckraker. Email h at h@ludd.net.


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



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