Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's in the FBI File on Matthew Shepard?

Not much. The feds responded in less than eight weeks to my FOIA request for the file on Matthew Shepard. Last week the FBI snail-mailed 28-pages to me and I've posted all of them here.

The file contains memos from the FBI to the crime lab in Cheyenne, Wyoming, confirming specimens for DNA and other forensic testing were received in Washington. That's it.

I expected the FBI to release a file about the death of Shepard and the investigation regarding the circumstances under which he was killed, but it appears such a federal file does not exist.

Here are two-pages from what the FBI sent me.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Brunch At HRC's Castro Store: Queer 99% to Protest the LGBT 1% 

Queer social justice advocates will converge on the Human Rights Campaign's souvenir store on Castro Street in San Francisco on Saturday, Jan. 31, at noon in solidarity with ACT UP/New York's protest on the same date outside HRC's gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.

The Bay Area advocates are upset with HRC for the following reasons:
- No concern for needs of poor and low income LGBT people

- No agenda promoting construction of affordable housing, a living wage and access to higher education

- No action response to the national outcry against police killing Black, Brown & Transgender people.

- No global gay plan that respects the work of local LGBT folks and group's working on international issues

- No incorporation of progressive and economic justice concerns in HRC's Corporate Equality Index

ACT UP/New York is calling on HRC to address HIV related matters including workplace discrimination and preventing new infections. 

In San Francisco, activists will be at HRC's store at 575 Castro Street on Jan. 31 from noon till 1:00 pm. Light brunch nibbles will be available.

There will be a speak out at Harvey Milk's old camera shop from the queer 99% about social and economic justice, with a special focus on fully embracing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Among the endorsers and organizers of the West Coast action are Veronika Fimbres, African-American trans leader; Tommi Avicolli Mecca, housing rights advocate; Melanie Nathan, global LGBT organizer; and Michael Petrelis, HIV positive activist.

Please join us!

For More Information:

Melanie Nathan

Brandon Cuicchi (NY): 
Phone: 1- 646.284.2948

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Angela Lansbury, Mike & My 56th Birthday

The legendary trouper Angela Lansbury is 89 and on tour with a fabulously entertaining production of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit", which Mike and I had the pleasure of catching last night at the Golden Gate Theatre.

I'm turning 56 tomorrow, Monday, January 26, and it's a memorable birthday weekend in a number of ways. Just being alive and still acting up when necessary, appreciating the gifts of having loving friends and family and the joy of living with Mike, are the best presents I could receive.

Oh, it's also a terrific, sunny San Francisco day and my plan for later today is to see a good late career film by Jean-Luc Godard, "In Praise of Love", at the Pacific Film Archive over in Berkeley. 

Please join me in celebrating life, seeing Angela Lansbury live on stage again, every single birthday, the challenges of Godardian cinema and every thing else that keep the world spinning.

Friday, January 23, 2015

SF's Only Print Copy of Charlie Hebdo, Mohammed & Me

Three likely San Francisco venues where a print version of last week's Charlie Hebdo might be found - Fog City News, Cafe de la Presse, the Alliance Francaise - do not carry or subscribe to the controversial French publication.

But the humor collection of the main library on the sixth floor is, as far as I can determine, the only location in the city where Charlie Hebdo on paper.

I was there today to glance at it and giggle at the small portion of cartoons and texts I could understand, and had a librarian snap a photo of me holding the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo with Prophet Mohammed on the cover under the headline, "All is forgiven". Prophet Mohammed holds a "Je suis Charlie" sign as he sheds one large tear.

Sure, the issue is on the web but if you're the kind of free expression advocate and practitioner who likes the feel of newsprint and holding a physical copy of a newspaper, stop by the library on Grove Street and hold it in your hands as you read it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tom Ammiano Cancelled Tonight's Forum in the Mission

A sign was posted at the 518 Valencia political and cultural center announcing that progressive LGBT leader Tom Ammiano is sick with the flu, so his scheduled meeting was canceled.

I wish him a full recovery after getting all the rest he needs and applaud him staying home when sick, both for his health and that of others who might catch the bug he's got if he ventured out.

One of the group's sponsoring tonight's forum, the Progressive Democrats of America's San Francisco chapter, shared the cancellation on their Facebook page where a post from December said his planned meeting last meeting was put on hold due to the big storm.

Let's hope Tom gets well and is soon finally holding his forum with us.

SF Chron Invents New Oscar Acting Category!?

The Academy Award nominees announced last week and the omission of black-theme films and African-American actors, directors and other moviemaking talents this and in previous years, generated much good commentary about Hollywood and diversity.

A caption for a photo in the Jan. 21 San Francisco Chronicle, "Ben Affleck, who played a Latino in 'Argo', Accepts an Oscar for the Outstanding Performance by a Cast award", running with a column by syndicated Washington Post writer Ruben Navarrette Jr., invented a new acting category for the Oscars.

He's concerned about lack of recognition by the Academy Awards' governors and membership of Hispanic contributions to the movies, invented a new acting category for the Oscars.

There is no Outstanding Performance by a Cast category for the Oscars and the statuette in Affleck's hand is not a golden Academy Award. Oops.

To compound the incorrect information, today's Chronicle's corrections print and online section contains no correction about the photo's caption. Let's hope the paper gets around to addressing the mistake tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Were Castro's Misspelled LGBT Plaques Auctioned Off for Charity?

The Rainbow Honor Walk is a project headed by gay publicist David Perry, who in September unveiled the bronze plaques featuring various LGBT folks embedded in the sidewalks of the Castro district.

Much embarrassment ensued because "biting" was misspelled in Oscar Wilde's plaque and Christine Jorgensen was mistakenly described as "transgendered".

In response to the outcry demanding to know why Perry and his board of directors hadn't checked the spelling and grammar before debuting the plaques, Perry said he'd auction off the grammatically incorrect plaques and donate the money raised to gay charities.

I tweeted to Perry and Armistead Maupin in December, asking if the auction had gone forward and if so, how much funding when to the charities. Since I've not heard from them, I sent a note to Perry via his PR firm's site requesting followup info.

Once I hear back from Perry with answers to my questions, I'll update this post.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

'Homeless Cleansing' Under Mission Street Freeway Exit

It appears the San Francisco Police Department has eradicated the homeless population that was encamped along two stretches of Division Street, from Folsom to under the Mission Street freeway exit.

There are usually at least three dozen individuals with shopping carts, bikes and equipment to fix them, tents and discarded mattresses and a good number of canines sleeping, eating or peeing in this area.

Not today. As Mike and I walked around the neighborhood, we noticed the cops and probably the Department of Public Works performed some "homeless cleansing" from the sidewalks and passageways under the freeway.

Instead of homeless people, there were SFPD metal barricades and yellow safety tape lining the sections where these folks once congregated.

So, these two blocks are currently cleansed of the homeless and sidewalks are now free of trash, poop and any encampments. The homeless problem there is now solved, right?

Of course not. The homeless folks have merely moved to another location, probably more out of sight of the cops and DPW workers.

Would you say this is more evidence the sharing economy of San Francisco and the record profits of established and emerging tech firms isn't trickling down to the streets and the people who live on them?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Polk Street Porn Shop Shutters

Another one bites the dust. San Francisco continues to lose commercial venues where men gather for the sexual company of other dudes.

Before you say there is diminishing need for sex clubs, bathhouses or glory hole arcades, allow me to states that not every horny man cruises the web and there is still a large segment of men who need such places.

I was on Polk Street yesterday and noticed the signage over the entrance to what used to be Frenchy's Adult Superstore was gone. Passersby informed me that the shop was emptied of its wares and shuttered in the early days of the new year. A sign in the window read:

"We appreciate your patronage over the 35 operation of this store . . . But that doesn't mean goodbye! Please visit our other locations!"

We'll see if the three other locations manage to stay in business. Support your local sex shop or glory hole today.

Friday, January 16, 2015

SFPD Discloses NYPD Funerals' Related Cost

I received this response today and we now know the number of cops paid to be at the funerals on the East Coast in recent weeks, and many tax-dollars were spent for their time in NYC:

"The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) received your request for information on Dec. 26, 2014.  We have looked into your request and respond as follows:

"Members officially detailed to the services by the Department were paid for their regularly scheduled on-duty hours.

"Please be advised that there is no specific City directive or legal citation [stating City funds will be spent for cops to attend funerals in other jurisdictions].  However, as a City department head, Chief Suhr has the authority to detail, assign and schedule employees to attend events, training and meetings.

"There were no additional related costs using City funds.  Members detailed by the Department were responsible for their own transportation, lodging and meals and could seek reimbursement from the San Francisco Police Officers Association (POA) for their expenses."

San Francisco paid out $7,797 for six personnel to participate in the first NYPD funeral and $9,626 for eight officers' attendance at the second funeral, for a grand total of $17,423.

At a time when politicians and the police force are saying they need more cops on the streets of San Francisco, should we be spending City funds to send 14 officers to the Big Apple?