Thursday, January 15, 2009

Inauguration Day in Civic Center



The San Francisco Boys' Chorus and the San Francisco Girls' Chorus, in a fairly rare bisexual collaboration, previewed their Obama inauguration concert program for Washington, D.C. in San Francisco's City Hall on Thursday afternoon.



The event started with an overlong, blustering speech by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, ending with the presentation of two city plaques for the choruses.



The chorus then launched into "America The Beautiful" in a beautiful, ethereal rendition of that durable tune.



The conductor was Ian Robertson (above), the director of the San Francisco Boys' Chorus and also the director of the San Francisco Opera Chorus. If ever there was an unsung hero of San Francisco's classical musical life over the last 20 years, it would have to be the chain-smoking, wryly funny and utterly brilliant Scotsman Mr. Robertson, and it's great news to hear he's representing San Francisco in Washington, D.C.



I went to the top of City Hall's dome to hear the angelic strains of the childrens' choruses reverberating through the building.



There is a an exquisite, unweathered quality to a well-trained childrens' chorus that is inimitable, which is probably why so much church music has been written for their perfect soprano voices over the centuries.



I had read there was to be an Obama inauguration celebration in Civic Center Plaza on the Tuesday the 20th, complete with large screen, but when trying to find any confirmation of the event at "The Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services," I ran into a nasty middle-aged receptionist who treated my question as if it were a personal affront. "There's something going on at Bill Graham Auditorium that's open to the public, but it's not a city event, so I don't know anything about it. Go over there if you want any information," she said with vinegar dripping from her voice



I did go to Bill Graham Auditorium across the Plaza and asked an elderly security guard if there was anything scheduled for Inauguration Day on the 20th and he actually went back to an office and found out that no, there was nothing scheduled for that day. I returned to City Hall and ran into the newly elected District 11 Supervisor John Avalos who was extraordinarily sweet and helpful, and who gave me a printed postcard announcing that yes, there was to be a public simulcast in Civic Center Plaza from 7AM to 12 noon. It's being produced by a group out of the Mission called NextArts, which I called this evening to make sure the event was still on. The answer was yes, and all they are asking for is a donation of "socks or underwear (new)" to distribute to poor people. (Click here for more info.)



I returned to the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services and politely handed the receptionist the printed postcard with the inauguration info, and her response was, "I told you this wasn't a city event! What's your problem? I don't know anything about this," as she angrily returned the postcard to me. I told her I thought she might be interested just so she could share the information with others, but she was doing everything but spitting out "screw you" so I left, but not without taking a few photos of the lady with her hand in front of her face, along with her young assistant who decided to dance around like a fool before they called for a deputy. The two of them struck me as perfect gatekeepers for Mr. Newsom's administration.

Update: Heather Knight at SFGate wrote a piece this morning confirming what jerks the Newsom administration are being about inauguration festivities in San Francisco, while our Mayor hangs out with Senator Feinstein in Washington, D.C. Click here to read it.

12 comments:

jolene said...

Hm, I don't understand her hostility. Bad day, perhaps? Or maybe she voted for McCain?

The boys chorus must have been wonderful inside of City Hall. I love that picture of Newsom with the little boy in the background.

sfmike said...

Dear Jolene: I didn't understand where the hostility was coming from either. Some people just shouldn't be working with the public, and I'd offer this woman as Exhibit A. Too bad she's at the ground floor entrance of City Hall at the "Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services." She's certainly not making any friends for his administration.

Greg said...

If her job is to work with the public, then it does not matter if she's a closet Republican, had a bad hair day, or whatever. If she pulled crap like that in the private sector, she'd be fired for making the company look bad.

Perhaps Newsom and his team in the bullpen with the fancy TVs just don't care anymore since they've got stars in their eyes for Sacramento. I mean, why should they care if their own staffers act like huffy little jerks?

zoo said...

it's all the yellow painted walls, it fucked up her head!!the yellow house(that's the loony house back in lisbon)ahahahah...maybe she didn't take her medication!LOL

namastenancy said...

I have run into that attitude more than a few times at city hall. As an artist, I have to go there to pay my registration fees for my business. Only open twice a year but no matter - we want your money! The people that I have to deal with have perfected the great stone faced glare and are also experts at not answering questions.
Boo Hiss!

sfmike said...

Dear Greg and Nancy: In truth, my experience with the workers at City Hall have been helpful and friendly. For example, you have a District Supervisor rooting around his own office looking for a postcard for me and a security guard at Bill Graham hunting down info, so it's not a universal problem. My suspicion is that there's something very rotten about the current Mayor's operation and the rot is spreading. I couldn't believe the way they were treating people in "Neighborhood Services," though, since somebody was yelling at them for being jerks just as I walked in. This was obviously not an isolated case.

And yes, Pedro, I love your theory that it's the yellow walls that are driving them bonkers.

Matty Boy said...

Wow. Very odd that they would be so unhelpful towards people getting a celebration together for the inauguration. I'm still hooked up to e-mail at several schools, and Mills, Laney and Berkeley City are all making plans for official get-togethers on campus.

AphotoAday said...

Got a good chuckle out of the way you used the term "bisexual collaboration"...   That's a good one...

CMC said...

Thanks for the information! I'm surprised this event was not more widely advertised, as I think a lot of people will be interested. It was difficult to find info online...you were the best source I could find!

sfmike said...

Dear CMC: You're welcome. I noticed the other day that I was getting lots of Google searches for variations on "Inauguration Civic Center" which is what prompted me to find out what was actually going on. I think it's a combination of NextArts not doing a very good promotional job and the Mayor's Office being outrageously hostile to the event at the same time. It's weird, to tell you the truth.

burren said...

Just additional proof to Mayor Newsom's "espoused" commitment to community in San Francisco. It takes a lot more than glorious rhetoric. It's about heart and soul - not self serving ego!

Arms Smith said...

Thank you kindly for assuring me this event is real. It was the first website under "san francisco civic center inauguration" google search. I appreciate the legwork you did (Glad you saw the Choirs!! And what's up with the grumblecakes in City Hall??). I guess because of poor promotion I might not have to get there at 6am for a good spot...