Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Mustache Bad Biker of Critical Mass Fears Camera: VIDEO

As a slow bicyclist very concerned with safety issues for myself, other riders, folks in vehicles and pedestrians, I was upset with the hipster dude sporting a handlebar mustache who ruined August's Critical Mass bike ride.

In a widely-viewed video, Ian Hespelt, a 39-year-old San Francisco resident, is seen going against traffic in the Marina District forcing a woman in a car to abruptly halt, as he starts yelling at her and throwing his bike under her front end before hammering her windows with a bike lock.

Yesterday, Monday, September 28, I saw Hespelt in front of me on line at the Fox Plaza post office. I'm not sure I would have recognized him without that distinctive hipster mustache. I shot this short video of me asking him questions and letting him know what I thought of his actions. Let's hope Hespelt bad biker behavior leads to better and safer biking and safer streets for all persons.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Prop I Posters: Yes vs. No and Best Messaging for Voters

When I think of my Mission neighborhood, my mind conjures images of colorful Latino murals, the Roxie and Victoria theaters, and the 16th and 24th Street BART plazas among other site-specific scenes. What I never think of is the 1970s "I Heart NY" design for the Big Apple.

That design for New York City is the basis for the Save the Mission's poster about the market-rate housing moratorium on the November ballot designated Prop I. Frankly, I think it sucks. The bulk of the poster is taken up with "I Heart SF" appearing horizontally, while the wording which way to vote message of "Yes on Prop" is on the side left side in down-to-up vertical lettering.

Maybe there's some secret political playbook Save the Mission and Plaza 16 are using, that says a bifurcated message is the best way to motivate voters, but I think the Yes on I's sign is confusing and sorely lacks a Mission-specific message.

For the No on I campaigners, they've gone the traditional route. Their posters clearly read "No On Prop I" and they use an eye image above the letter I. Nothing says San Francisco except in the phrasing about joining the local Democratic Party in voting against the prop.

As with so much from Plaza 16 and Mission Inc groups, especially the leaders at the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA), their campaign poster is confusing and muddled.

Classic 4 DeSica Films at the Castro Theater on Saturday

Bay Area cineastes and lovers of Italian culture have a special day-long treat on tap tomorrow, Sept. 26th, at the Castro Theater.

Four newly-restored prints of films by Vittorio DeSica will be projected up on the Castro's enormous screen, allowing to view the works as they were intended to be exhibited.

The day starts with "Two Women" at 11:30 am, starring Sophia Loren in her Oscar winning performance. Next up is "The Gold of Naples" also with Loren, the great comedian Toto and screen siren Silvana Mangano playing at 2 pm.

At 5 pm, it's the classic international hit comedy "Marriage Italian Style" also starring Loren and the ever-suave Marcello Mastroianni. 

The day's films concludes with a 7:30 pm screening of "The Garden of the Finzi Continis", which won the best foreign language Oscar in 1971. No, Loren is not in it but Dominique Sanda and Helmut Berger are and they're wonderful.

My hope is to catch "The Gold of Naples" and "Marriage Italian Style", neither of which I've seen, and then see "The Garden of the Finzi Continis" for the third time. I've seen "Two Women" twice and if you've not see it, be sure to watch it tomorrow at this rare theatrical showing.

I can think of no better way to spend my Saturday than indulging in the multitude of pleasures in these DeSica films. More info on the films and ticket can be found here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

SFPD Spent $45,000 Sending Officers to Cop Funerals

The San Francisco Police Department needs to explains why it's supposedly part of dozens of brass and beat officers to attend funerals of cops shot in the line of duty. Tragic as those deaths are, I don't see a compelling reason why SFPD must take cops off their regular duties and pay them to be at funerals.

My recent public records request to the department for names and costs associated with all out of town funerals attended by SFPD personnel in so far in 2015 produced this document, pertaining to the April funeral of San Jose police officer Michael Johnson. The total for SFPD personnel's attendance was $13,816.

The September funeral for Hayward cop Scott Lunger cost the SFPD $30,994, when dozens of our police officials participated in the event, according to public records sent by the department's legal affairs officer Briseida Banuelos.

Grand total for San Francisco taxpayers so SFPD could be very well represented at these two Bay Area cop funerals comes to $44,810. That amount is excessive, in my view, and we need to have a City-wide discussion about keeping our cops on local streets or at stations doing their required duties. Making appearances at funerals should not be part of those duties and we shouldn't be footing the bill.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SF Chronicle: Stonewall Riots of August 1969 - Wrong Month!

Every June, a whole lot of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks, along with many allies, mark the Stonewall Riots of 1969 with parades (too corporatized, IMHO) and celebrations, and a look back at how far we've come in our liberation struggle.

One of the biggest celebrations at the end of each June is in San Francisco and one would expect the Chronicle newspaper, especially the arts desk, to be fully aware of when the riots occurred. Here is what freelancer and frequent contributor Pam Grady wrote on Sunday in the entertainment Pink Section:

"During a recent phone conversation, director Roland Emmerich revealed how hard it was finding a location to re-create the New York’s Greenwich Village neighborhood circa the summer of 1969, when riots erupted after a police raid of the Stonewall Inn — a gathering spot for gays, lesbians and transgender people — for his new drama 'Stonewall.'

"He finally found the right place in Montreal, where he re-created the events that are generally credited with igniting the LGBT pride movement. A line in can be drawn from those hot August nights to this summer’s historic Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage."

Hot August nights? Oops, no, the Chronicle is off by two-months. What surprises me is that this paper, in general, and the entertainment section, particularly, got such an important month wrong. As of this writing on Tuesday afternoon, no correction has been made at the Chronicle's original article.

A small mistake, granted, but a big reminder that we LGBT people need to remain vigilant about our history and how it is represented in the mass media.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Is the Lawsuit Against SF Pride Moving Forward?

The email below came my way recently and reminded me that SF Pride is being sued over safety and security issues.

While I have no patience anymore for SF Pride b.s. like Parade-Manager-For-Life Marsha Levine's ignorance about the bloat of her contingent line-up and 7-hour plus parade, corporate dominance of it all and members not running the membership committee among many concerns, I'm also not interested in dealing with a lawyer in Los Angeles and his client suing the organization.

Frankly, even if I weren't in phase-one of my recovery from stomach bypass surgery, I would  have no desire to give up any time to an attorney on such a matter. He can find his own battle with SF Pride, if there really is absolutely no other way to address what allegedly happened to his client and not take up my time.

I wonder if the lawsuit is moving forward and expect to read reporting in the Bay Area Reporter if that is the case, and I haven't seen such coverage of late. Here's the entire email in question:

"Hello Mr. Petrelis,

"I hope this email finds you well. I am an attorney in Los Angeles, and you may have heard about my client, Trevor Gardner, who has brought an action against San Francisco Pride arising from the shooting which occurred at the event in 2013.

"I have read portions of your blog and see that you have written prolifically on the subject of safety at Pride. I would be grateful for an opportunity to speak with you at some point. Judging by your blog, I assume you will be recovering from surgery this week.

"I look forward to hearing from you when you are able. In the meantime, best wishes with your recovery. 

"Very truly yours, Joshua Herr"

Thursday, September 17, 2015

SF Ex Op-Ed Writers = All Male Club

There's Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez, Joel P. Engardio, Nato Green, Stuart Schuffman, Kelly Dessaint and Paul Drexler.

Seven male writers privileged with a weekly op-ed column in the San Francisco Examiner. Not one female writer is given any opinion space in the paper. Regarding racial composition, as far as I know, none of the men are African-American and only one is half Latino. What's up with that?

The current crop of GOP presidential contenders, on the other hand, includes an African-American and one woman candidate.

Pretty strange, don't you agree, that the freaking field of Republican wannabe successors to Barack Obama is more diverse on the gender and black spectrum than one of San Francisco's dailies?

If the Examiner's editor want this white male news consumer's advice, here it is. Radically diversify your line-up of daily opinion writers and better reflect the news audience in the City.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Willie Brown Institute Received Only $4,000 in Last Fiscal Year

Seems like tough times for the vanity charity known as the Willie L. Brown Institute on Politics and Public Service, according to this 501(c)3 nonprofit's last IRS tax filing for fiscal year 2013.

Only $4,000 was received in 2013, a steep drop from the $291,000 that filled the coffers in the previous fiscal year.

Corrupt lobbyist and power-broker, former San Francisco mayor and society columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown had to drip into the institute's assets to cover the $104,000 in expenses incurred during 2013.

Over the last three years, Brown has filed his institute's 990 with the IRS in either April or May, but for 2015 no tax report was filed. Most likely, that is due to Brown not receiving the minimum donation requiring the filing of a 990.

What public good, yeah right, or exactly what purpose this institute served is not explained at its web site. Anyone know if the institute still exists?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tummy Surgery Success: Best & Worst of UCSF Experience

Please join Mike and I in quietly celebrating my successful stomach bypass surgery on Tuesday, Sept. 8th. Throughout the three very long days at UCSF in pre-op, the operating theater, post-anesthesia clinic and then a private hospital room, with many ups and down, I am quite convinced I made the right decision to go under the knife.

Huge thanks to all of you who've expressed love and support, shared prayers, and gave me reason to chuckle and smile. I also say I'm sorry not to have the energy to reply to everyone.

I was discharged Thursday, Sept. 10th, and my gut feeling, ahem, that getting a ride home from our friend Bill Wilson, who was his usual light and giggly self behind the wheel ("Driving Miss Michael"), would be a most welcomed reentry to life outside the UCSF medical center was correct.

The lifestyle changes begun in the past ten-months are now greatly expanded, but on a very slow hour-by-hour basis, to shed additional excess weight and related health morbidities. Updates provided when necessary and now it's on to the best and worst of what I've been through. Let's start with the best first.

1. The promises I made to myself to have the surgery and first lose a few pounds in preparation were kept.

2. Waking up post-op and severely doped up, hearing and seeing Mike was a fantastic comfort. He took vacation time this week from his job, as if taking care of this gay grouch is anything like a holiday!

3. Three UCSF nurses deserve medals for dealing with me in my most painful and confused states, while always keeping info simple. Valerie, for her wealth of knowledge, patience and good humor, made me look forward to her time in my room. Thanks for the good-bye hug, Valerie! Katie, with a smart-ass attitude, tenacious follow-up with various docs and discharge papers, and party-girl attitude.

Then there's Kathy, a fellow New Jersey native with her small physique and deeply caring and can-do approach. A few hours post-op, while still feeling the effects of the anesthesia and getting as much self-administered morphine as allowed, Kathy looked me in the eye and said "we" were getting out of bed.

Using simple language and directions, she guided me to sit up, move my legs off to hang over the side, then grab her thin forearms and I stood upright. Sure, I was dizzy and fearful but she had me take some steps before getting me back in bed. This was the turning point to recovery. Before I was discharged, Kathy saw me walking in the hallway with Mike and came over to share her smile, then kissed my left cheek.

4. The student surgeon, Dr. Phillip Bilderback, a handsome 31-year-old openly gay man who assisted the primary surgeon, Dr. John Carter, stopped by on day one to check on me. I got on the topic of my decades of activism, the importance of questioning doctors, and Mike mentioned I was among the original founders of ACT UP.

Hearing that homo history, Philip asked: "Oh, were you at the Stonewall Riot?" Mike and I cracked up. Felt good to be thought of as old enough to have been at the NYC gay bar rebellion in 1969.

After Philip examined me the next day, I was high on morphine and blurted out with no forethought: "So, how long were you in me yesterday?" Seconds after starting to laugh, Philip blushed, looking even more adorable and told him he needs to blush more!

5. My last dose of liquid narcotic painkiller was right before leaving the hospital. Liquid Tylenol has been managing the minor pain very well. Yes, I said minor pain. Amazing what strides I've taken on my short recovery path.

Mike and I have adapted my my protein and water intake to included the various meds and vitamins necessary for my wellness. Proud that on Friday, had no problem down 64 ounces of water and getting 70 grams of protein.

Have been to my chiropractor Dr. Andy Lesko three times since discharged and will get daily adjustments from him. Totally helping reduce body stress and knots, aiding my healing.

What were the worst parts of this week?

1. My liquid and crushed meds were not all arranged prior to surgery, despite taking the initiative two-weeks before with the Walgreens specialty pharmacy on 18th Street in the Castro and my HIV doc.

The day after surgery, a student pharmacist based in the hospital came to my room six times trying to go over my old and news meds, and arrange new prescriptions for everything. He had to run back with my answers to his supervisor who soon showed up to question me. Sure didn't need this annoying stress.

What I strongly recommend to UCSF's bariatric clinic is that patients deal with all/most medicine needs the week before surgery and not in hospital, and don't put the patient through rounds of questioning with a student pharmacist when trying to recover from surgery and grapple with all the new blood work and other results.

2. Without any notice, a team of four doctors and students showed up right after self-dosing with morphine and I needed desperately to pee. I ordered them out, especially since I had already received a visit from Philip.

When the team marched into my room the next day and didn't ask for permission for all of them to be present for the consultation, I said only one person could remain. Turned out the visit was around five minutes and the doctor said I should have allowed the full team to remain to help them gain knowledge. No, my responsibility is my body and health, not training all these students and certainly not when they're being bossy in their white coats.

3. When a blood test came back showing my potassium level was at 3.8, the low range for this electrolyte crucial to heart health is 3.5, I was given a potassium drip ordered by the physician's assistant Dr. Lea Ross at the request of the surgeon who performed the operation, Dr. John Carter.

Valeria the nurse had warned me the potassium caused a burning in many patients and she was quite concerned I quickly let her know if I felt the burn. When I did, I had to ring for her, say what was happening, then she went to the nurses' station to call Dr. Ross who had to check with Dr. Carter.

Meanwhile, the burning got worse and after forty-minutes of awful pain in the right bicep and shoulder, the potassium drip was removed. For the next five-hours, I hit the morphine drip at every available opportunity. The next day and even this morning, the lingering pain's been felt.

Okay, that's plenty of info for now. Here are some pics during my hospital stay and were a lot of fun to take. Hope they make you smile and giggle.

With the self-dosing morphine device in one hand and an empty urinal in the other, you get a sense of just how doped up I was at one point. 

I was barking about something and Mike thought the blood pressure cuff would make a great gag to hush me up. As if mere rubber would silence my mouth!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Here's my great-niece Malina acting the diva for her mother Alexis's camera. Got out of the hospital yesterday and feeling pretty good after stomach bypass surgery. Full report coming soon.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Stomach Surgery Tomorrow & All-Liquid HIV Meds

After 15-months of consultations with various health care experts at the University of California, San Francisco, about my weight problem and its impact on my immune system, I check in tomorrow, Tuesday, September 8th, for stomach by-pass surgery.

I've been on a liquid-only diet for 14-days and an all-liquid regimen with my HIV and other medicines for 4-days, in preparation for the operation. All in all, it's not been that bad not having any solid foods and the liquid or crushed drugs mixed with water is time-consuming, I've lost more than 12-pounds and feel good enough.

For 2-weeks post-surgery, I'll still be allowed only liquid food and for a few months, maybe longer, taking water-soluble drugs and vitamins while recovering and getting used to my new normal.

Mike has been his usual angelic self, keeping me steady and focused on maintaining wellness both physically and mentally. What a blessing to have Mike as my husband, sharing all my medical craziness with me and finding humor in the situation.

I'll be at UCSF Parnassus from Tuesday through Thursday, if all goes well as the doctors and nurses expect. Since I don't have a smartphone or web-access device, I'll be offline for a few days which I think will be of great assistance for my healing.

Here's a photo Mike snapped in our kitchen with a few of the measuring devices and AIDS drugs in liquid or powder form. Permit and forgive me for saying this, but I have gut feeling this surgery will be of tremendous benefit to my health and give me a longer life.

All prayers and best wishes are most welcome, and you'll hear from me at the end of the week!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Leno, Wiener & Campos Love Castro Blight-King Natali's Money

The Hoodline news-and-lifestyle blog has been keeping important watch on Les Natali, whom I've dubbed the Blight King of the Castro for all of his empty store fronts and buildings in the gayborhood.

On September 5th, Hoodline reported that Natali's property at 18th and Collingwood that currently houses the tasty and friendly Zapata! Mexican restaurant, will soon lose the popular eatery. Restaurant owner Jorge Perez said Natali offered a very short-term lease renewal that was a bad business deal for him so he's vacating the space in mid October.

Just more blight for San Francisco's LGBT district and I've not heard a peep of protest lately from any of the current gay electeds who've taken Natali's donations for their political campaigns.

State senator Mark Leno, whose district includes the Castro, has accepted a total of $16,500 from Natali for his runs for assembly and senate, and his campaign for lieutenant governor in 2018, according to public records at the California Secretary of State's site. The donations came either from Natali himself or his business Natali Inc.

Locally, District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener took in a total of $2,500 from either Natali or his business for his seat on the Democratic County Central Committee and his supervisorial reelection effort in 2014, as documented by San Francisco Ethics Commission records. The Castro's City Hall rep sure would send a loud message to Natali if he returned those amounts, in protest of the continuing blight.

And finally, Mission District Supervisor David Campos received $300 from Natali for his unsuccessful bid for the state assembly, according to state records.

Actually, it would be a stronger message if not just the Castro supervisor but also Leno and Campos, gave back the money from Natali and united as three gay electeds to tell Natali it's time to end the blight his greed and empty businesses that are a curse to the Castro.

Friday, September 04, 2015

'F*ck Burning Man' Poster on Valencia Street

My neighbor this morning pointed out a "Fuck Burning Man" poster taped to a traffic light pole on Valencia Street at Duboce. He suggested I snap a photo and blog about the poster. Sure, no problem.

However, the poster is promoting a band that performed a few days ago at the Monarch Club and apparently has nothing to do with that hipster festival taking place right now in Nevada.

Still, it's nice to see such sentiment expressed about #BurningMan on the gentrified streets of San Francisco's Mission District.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

SF Weakly: Secret Firehouse Public Toilets for Homeless Folks

It's a good thing I don't depend on Chris Roberts and the SF Weakly for all the facts about the fire department's change of rules regarding homeless and public access to taxpayer-funded toilets at firehouses, a change that came about because I began demanding it back in February. At the end of May, my single-voice campaign persuaded the SFFD to enact a policy allowing expanded toilet access.

Roberts and the Weakly have ignored those developments but on September 2, they ran a story that never explained how and why the fire department did the right thing. Roberts reported:

 "SF Weekly was alerted to the situation only by the vigilance of Michael Petrelis, a controversial Castro District blogger and activist (who was once served a restraining order for photographing a politician in a City Hall public restroom). And Petrelis was only made aware of the [expanded toilet access] policy after he received a July 30 SFFD memo via the Fire Commission, where he'd been raising a stink about increasing public access to meetings."

No, Mister Roberts, I was well aware of the policy I changed well before July 30 and since you raise the issues I've raised at fire commission meetings, you should know it was at those meetings where I raised my voice without anyone from the Homeless Inc assisting me.

Oh, and I also persuaded the commission to air its meetings on SFGovTV and move them to City Hall, to expand access, there's that phrase again, for the public to keep tabs on the commission and department's brass. Haven't read about that expansion of government sunshine and accountability in the Weakly.

On the positive side, Roberts gives these facts:

"But it turns out there are as many as 45 under-utilized public bathrooms in San Francisco — at each of the city's fire stations. Ground-floor restrooms at fire stations are public restrooms, available between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. (unless there's a fire, in which case the bathroom is closed, no matter how dire the other emergency). One would think this could help stem the tide of urine that's drowning us (and caused one corroded light pole to collapse). The problem is that nobody seems aware the bathrooms are available.

"'Nobody on our staff had heard about it,' says Jennifer Friedenbach, the Coalition on Homelessness's Executive Director. 'The city should put the word out that they're available.'"

I must point out that the Coalition on Homelessness's staff should have read the emails I sent them about my demands on and eventual success with the fire department. Progressives working in Homeless Inc might learn a lot if they listened to advocates such as myself who are outside their tight circle of associates and those who hold opinions contrary to Homeless Inc thinking.

My final kvetch, at least contained here, is that the Weakly should treat SFFD toilet access as the story is it deserving of greater length to bring in the Mayor's Office and City Hall officials who've done nothing much to educate everyone about being able to pee and poop at firehouses.

Take the time to use our public firehouse toilets the next time you need to relieve yourself!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

List of City-Owned Toilets & Availability for Public Peeing?

John Updike is head of the San Francisco Department of Real Estate and a few months back, after I persuaded the fire department to make their taxpayer-funded toilets open for public use, I requested a list of all City-owned property likely to have functioning toilets or showers.

My request to Updike was for property in the Mission, Tenderloin, Civic Center and South of Market areas. Within days, he sent back eight-pages of responsive public records with these comments:

"Thanks for your patience. This is the best level of detail we’re going to be able to provide you, Michael, and I hope it is helpful. These are assets we either know, or suspect, have square footage of improvements. I do not have data set that can confirm existence of restrooms. [...] The info we have is only as good as the info provided by the departments in control of each asset – and as you can see, the departments are not very diligent in providing us with detailed information. [...] All would have restrooms of some sort, but not sure any will have showers. Our overall data doesn't drill down to that level."

I believe there are hundreds of San Francisco taxpayer-funded toilets, maybe a few dozen showers too, that should be evaluated for daily use by the homeless population, tourists and anyone else who needs to pee and poop.

It's incumbent upon Mayor Ed Lee and the Department of Public Health, not to mention the mayor's homeless advisers Bevan Dufty and Samuel Dodge, to methodically visit and assess which City-owned buildings could be part of an expanded toilet program.

To nudge the City officials to shake off their complacency about finding more restrooms and also showers for the homeless to take advantage of, improving public health for everyone, I've posted the eight-pages Updike shared with me on my Google Docs page here.

Btw, I had no idea the City owned so many parking lots, did you?