Friday, July 29, 2016

Film Friday: BAMPFA's Classics; 'Sexplanation' Doc

What's on my movie-mad mind today? Classics from the canon and a sex-doc.

Here are several excellent choices for avoiding the beautiful weather in the coming days, to instead catch fantastic films in Berkeley.

The BAMPFA schedule tonight features a screening of an archival print of Max Ophuls' "Liebelei," which I've not seen, as part of their look at Vienna in the movies.

After that, it's Francois Truffaut's "Shoot the Piano Player" with Charles Aznavour in the lead and it's in glorious black-and-white and Cinemascope. Saw this just once, at the old Thalia on Manhattan's Upper West Side back in the day.

On tap for Saturday evening at the film archive is Alexander Sokurov's masterpiece "Russian Ark," a single-take journey through Mother Russia's history inside the Hermitage Museum. It repeats on Sunday night. Nice that BAMPFA is programming multiple chances to see certain films, giving cineastes and movie-lovers more opportunities to experience cinema with an audience.

Also on Saturday is Wim Wenders' Cuban music documentary "Buena Vista Social Club," which I'm embarrassed to say I've never seen. Glad to finally catch it and the print we'll see has been digitally restored.

More info on all BAMPFA programming just a click away.

I'm sharing news from budding publicist Lorraine Petel, who handled front-desk chores at the San Francisco International Film Festival in the spring, about her friend's in-development flick about everyone's favorite topic, sex. This is from their site:

"'Sexplanation' is a new documentary written and directed by San Francisco journalist and science videographer, Alex Liu. The film seeks to peer into our sexuality, exploring the challenges facing society as we seek to embrace greater sexual diversity yet hold onto long held cherished beliefs.

"Join Alex as he travels from church pews, biology labs, fetish conventions and therapy sessions in his quest for an up-to-date and holistic understanding of sex. His immersive journalism will get under the nation's bed sheets, as he explores what makes our sexuality throb."

More info on this sex-doc project here. Check out their great teaser:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

ACT UP Co-Founders' Inpromtu Street Reunion

My shopping trip to the Castro farmers' market on Wednesday was special because I ran into my friend David Tuller. We go back to the plague years in New York City, both still standing, more grays and wrinkles, surviving and thriving to the best of our Judy Garland goddess-given queer abilities.

Nice to snag another pic of David and I and add it to my collection of fotos of running into cohorts from my activist life

Many moons ago, we were arrested in March 1987, as part of ACT UP's first wavelet of protests over the AIDS epidemic, and we became known with the other arrestees as the Wall Street 17. We got into the streets and blocked traffic near the stock exchange in Lower Manhattan and thus was a movement born.

Who was among the Wall Street 17? Here's a partial list I drew up with assistance from ACT UP veteran Bill Dobbs. If you know the other ten names, please share them with me:

1) Neil Broome
2) Frank Dowd, RIP
3) Prema Lee
4) Rodger McFarlane , RIP
5) Michael Petrelis
6) Charles Stimson
7) David Tuller

When the Wall Street 17 appeared before a judge a few weeks later, where the charges of disorderly conduct were dismissed, the judge was the late Richard Failla. He was a trailblazing jurist appointed by Mayor Ed Koch and at the time we went before him he was a member of the board of directors of GMHC. How's that for interesting homo history trivia?
Texts Reveal DA Gascon Co-Opts SFPD Accountability Priest

Former police chief and current District Attorney George Gascon hasn't brought a single charge in any of the deaths of the 20 civilians killed by members of the San Francisco Police Department, during his tenure as the City's prosecutor. 20 deaths, zero indictments.

A public records request to Gascon produced dozens of texts between him and the naive and gullible Father Richard Smith of St John's Episcopal Church in the Mission, and they clearly reveal how the DA has skillfully co-opted this cleric.

The texts clearly show Smith's subservience to Gascon, a very unhealthy attitude for anyone leading community efforts for justice from the DA in various deaths of black and brown people by the cops.

This text from Smith shows he's been keeping a lid on the anger in the community, and reporting this to the man he should pressuring not kowtowing to. Smith's too keen to give a platform to the DA and plead his case to activists, while getting nothing but empty promises in return. Someone should inform Smith Gascon has and continues to blow off the activists.

It seems Smith is all too willing to do Gascon's bidding and serve as his mouthpiece in the community, while getting nothing in return from the DA.

Another text documents how eager Smith is to cool off community anger, even though a this point it had been three-months since Gascon didn't deliver on his promise of an announcement about charges in the fatal shooting by the SFPD of Amilcar Perez-Lopez.

Proving yet again how cozy Smith is with Gascon and his weird willingness to run his group's planned actions by the man they're lobbying. With such subservience, it's no wonder the DA feels no pressure to take action regarding indictments in the death of Amilcar Perez Lopez.

More proof Smith is not an effective police accountability advocate in this text, where he requests a meeting with Gascon to have him turn down the heat in the community. He wants activists to develop sympathy for the DA, instead of demanding to bring the anger to Gascon, and tell him the reassurances are bullshit delaying tactics.

I'm sure Father Smith's heart is in the right place, but he is woefully unprepared to withstand the co-opting machinations of a very ambitious and cunning elected official, as evidenced in the texts. I've posted all of the responsive public records here for all to read.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Open Govt Foe Sup. Peskin Withholds Emails For Bogus Excuse

Whether they're a moderate or a progressive, certain members of the Board of Supervisors are foes of government transparency when I file public records requests for emails and other public files.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whom many label Napoleon of North Beach for his autocratic methods and short physical stature, lived up to his reputation recently, after I filed a request for all of his emails for June and July.

His legislative aide, Lee Hepner, who used to be a member of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force and is a vice president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, which should be fighting for expanded City Hall sunshine, this week informed me Peskin is withholding responsive public records:

"As for the request itself, we will not be responding to the below request, the scope of which clearly exceeds the boundaries of reasonableness. [Citing a 1967 California Supreme Court ruling] . . .  we will not be responding to your records request, as it will substantially interfere with the orderly function of the Supervisor’s office and his staff."

I've lodged a complaint with the SOTF and intend to have them adjudicate this matter. Considering Peskin has three paid aides, including Hepner, and the board soon goes on recess for most of August, I don't at all believe complying with my request will in any way interrupt the function of this office.

Speaking of interruption, that's exactly what Peskin did to me during public comment time at the July 20 meeting of the Democratic County Central Committee.

Showing no concern for eating up my two-minutes of speaking time, Peskin interrupted me to tell me how to stand exhibiting evidence of his Napoleonic tendencies. Needless to say, I took extra time to make up for his interruption and lectured him and other DCCC members about keeping their mouths mute when it's public comment time.

Check out my vid from the meeting:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

SFPD's Cost for Officers to Attend Dallas Cops' Funerals?

There is no public safety reason for San Francisco cops to attend funerals of slain police officers in cities around the nation, nor is there justification for taxpayers to pick up any part of the costs when our cops choose to pay their respects to fallen colleagues.

Somehow, it's considered work that seven SFPD personnel flew to Dallas earlier this month for that city's tributes to their dead officers and we're paying out $8,100 for those seven who were on City time.

How did average San Francisco residents benefit in any direct way from the Dallas trips?

I wonder if the City would pay a municipal employee's hourly pay if they went to a funeral of a black man or woman killed by a cop.

Would San Francisco taxpayers and police watchdogs approve of assistant public defenders billing the City for time spent at the funeral of Philandro Castile in Minnesota or Alton Sterling in Louisiana?

The information shared here was in response to my public records request submitted to the SPFD. Follow the municipal money!

Monday, July 25, 2016

DPW: McCoppin Hub Anti-Homeless Fencing Up by Labor Day

The City's next steps to fence off the public space at the McCoppin Hub, near the intersection of Valencia and Market Streets, are outlined in this update from Rachel Gordon, the public info officer for the Department of Public Works.

State senator-wannabe Supervisor Jane Kim, in whose district the problem public area is located, as far as I can determine, has steadfastly not said a word about DPW's plans. That may change once the anti-homeless fencing is built.

Anecdotally, there's been a reduction in the number of homeless folks, and their belongings, in the hub in recent weeks and a Pit Stop has setup shop weekdays in front of the U-Haul parking lot. From DPW:

"Here’s the latest: Over the past several months, our designer has been working to resolve issues related to the new fence and to prepare bid documents that lay out the scope of work for the contractor.

"The project will involve removal of many of the bollards and chains, installation of perimeter fencing, two gates that vehicles can access and three gates for use by pedestrians.

"In addition, there will be some concrete demolition, and new concrete will be poured to provide accessible access at the west end of the site.

"We expect the contractor’s proposal (which will include the cost) by July 29, and work would begin within four weeks or so of that date. The initial work will include installation of a temporary fence, which close down the HUB while the work is underway.

"The City will be contracting with Cal State Constructors, Inc. Hours of operation of the Hub will be determined by San Francisco Real Estate Division, but would likely model the dog and skate parks across the street -- essentially 7 AM to sunset. The hours can and will be adjusted as needed."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Vid: Mike's 65th Birthday & My New Face

We're having a terrific month of July and recently Mike and I went on a date, to hear the San Francisco Symphony performing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" symphony, over his birthday weekend. He's hit the Medicare birthday, sixty-five, and he continues to improve with age, sharing his wisdom and life with me.

I've regained my facial and cranial wellness, after the fat injections into my facial creases, brought on by years of AIDS cocktails, with a fuller, somewhat newer, face. Still here, with some wear and tear, and proudly queer!

Enjoy the vid.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Kim + Wiener = Job Order for McCoppin Hub Anti-Homeless Fence

If the issue is a public plaza and who controls it, don't expect much communication from either Supervisor currently running for the District 11 state senate seat.

Neither Jane Kim nor Scott Wiener has addressed the controversy ignited over the failure to fly the rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza at half-mast for five days honoring the LGBT people massacred on June 12 in Orlando, and they're both silent about a soon-to-be built fence at the McCoppin Hub. We live three blocks from there.

Located at near the intersection of the two Supes' district, closed to Valencia and Market Streets, the hub will soon be fenced as an anti-homeless measure.

For many years, residential and business stakeholders have activated themselves with any and all City officials who might address the lack of housing for the crowds of homeless drifters and others, and the resultant sanitation and criminal problems of folks living in the public space for extended periods.

Let's follow the email trail in recent weeks.

The hub is nestled just inside the border of Kim's District 6, alongside the freeway off-ramp which is in Wiener's District 8, so neighbors are right to put pressure on her for communication. One nearby resident's plea, made on June 11, for a response from Kim expresses the wish of many but Kim's office is woefully silent.

On June 29, a local businessman complained of no engagement from either Kim or Wiener and that it's an election year, and we might expect these electeds to address quality of life concerns in the hub. Still no word from Kim.

A response from a manager at the Department of Public Works informed everyone that the City is rapidly moving forward to install the fence and it should be completed at the McCoppin Hub in about 4-5 month period. We'll see the fence at this public space after the November election when either Kim or Wiener is newly-elected to Sacramento.

What surprises me about these latest anti-homeless developments at the McCoppin Hub is that I've not heard a peep of protest from all the progressive nonprofits, Democratic affiliates including the Harvey Milk Club, and community organizers backing Kim.

Can you imagine the din that would erupt if the fence were to be erected in Wiener's district? It'd be so loud my hearing aids wouldn't be needed to hear the kvetching.

Watch this recent video taken at the hub:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Laura Truffaut & 'Day for Night' Delight at BAMPFA

Magic was up on the big Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive screen last night (July 16), and cinema was alive and thriving in the sold-out audience.

We were treated to a witty introduction by Laura Truffaut of an imported and pristine print of her father Francois Truffaut's Oscar-winning valentine to the movies, "Day for Night."

This short video, shot before and after the film unspooled, captures a small amount of the exhilaration everyone felt during this special evening BAMPFA's new home.

Experiencing the joys of "Day for Night" again like this guarantees this is one of my top movie-going times of 2016.

Big thanks to Laura Truffaut, the folks at BAMPFA and our amazing audience!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Supes' Public Advocate Agenda: Public Comment = 1st Item 

No matter how you look at the special full Board of Supervisors' meeting today, including the unusual starting time of 5:15 pm, it's quite a unique situation extending also to the fact that public comment is item one. This needs to be an occurrence at every full board meeting!

Even this cynic is impressed with this act of democratizing City Hall, if only for one board meeting, to such a degree I sent this letter to the Supervisors and various folks in City govt:

Dear Members of the Board of Supervisors,

Thanks for providing the City with the miracle of allowing general public comment at the start of your special meeting today, as stated on the agenda:

Myself, and other good govt watchdogs, have long implored you to set a fixed time for public comment at your Tuesday meetings, especially for working folks who don't have hours of time on an afternoon workday to wait around for public comment, but our pleas have not led to change.

Over in Berkeley, their City Council takes public comment at the start of meetings, for about ten minutes, allowing at least a few folks the chance to speak, and returning to more public comment later.

I suggest you, and Jane Kim particularly if she wants to distinguish herself from her senate race opponent, look to Berkeley as a way to improve making San Francisco's BOS a body with better best practices for public comment.

Check this out from the Berkeley council's site:

"Public Comment on Non-Agenda Matters: Persons will be selected by lottery to address matters not on the Council agenda. If five or fewer persons submit speaker cards for the lottery, each person selected will be allotted two minutes each. If more than five persons submit speaker cards for the lottery, up to ten persons will be selected to address matters not on the Council agenda and each person selected will be allotted one minute each. Persons wishing to address the Council on matters not on the Council agenda during the initial ten-minute period for such comment, must submit a speaker card to the City Clerk in person at the meeting location and prior to commencement of that meeting. The remainder of the speakers wishing to address the Council on non-agenda items will be heard at the end of the agenda."