Monday, October 05, 2015

Politicking at the 2015 Castro Street Fair

The annual Castro Street Fair has turned into one of the sweetest little street festivals in San Francisco.

For decades, it was a huge, claustrophic scene like the Haight Street or Folsom Street Fair, but it has somehow managed to downscale into a manageable crowd where you can run into old friends you haven't bumped into for years.

It probably helps that the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival absorbs tens of thousands of free concertgoers in Golden Gate Park on the same Sunday, and that most gay sex tourists have literally come and gone the weekend before at Folsom Street.

There are a few nods to the gay, nudist, hippie-ish beginnings of the event in the 1970s such as a body painting tent in front of the Castro Theatre, but that particular bacchanalian energy no longer seems to exist on San Francisco's public streets, for better or worse.

What did stand out at the fair was how many people were politicking for various politicians and propositions in advance of next month's elections.

The handsome young man with the megaphone above looked like he could have fit seamlessly into the Castro of the 1970s, and he was busking for a pie-throw-at-the-politician fundraiser for the Harvey Milk Democratic Club.

District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim was one of the victims, but nobody seemed to want to throw a pie at her, possibly because violence towards women is a current topic of awareness.

A cute young heterosexual couple asked me why Kim was at the Castro pie-throwing booth since this wasn't her supervisorial district. "That's because this is for the leftie Harvey Milk Democratic Club, and she's friends and sometimes allies with them, while the right-wing real estate lesbians and gays are at the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club booth up the street, and they're BFFs with Scott Weiner, who is the supervisor for this district and who is thankfully nowhere in sight."

I continued, "Most of this is just sectarian schisms, though. It's all about being an insider and having a piece of power, which unfortunately flows directly from the old-time criminal cabal which actually runs San Francisco, badly. There's no way they become one of the insiders without being co-opted."

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi (above right) was campaigning personally for reelection on Sunday, while his opponent Vicky Hennessy was represented by a pair of odd looking sign carriers. Mirkarimi used to be a part of the City Family when he was on the Board of Supervisors, but he crossed the cabal by running for Sheriff against an approved candidate and narrowly winning. His subsequent vilification for domestic violence by the DA, SFPD, San Francisco Chronicle, Mayor Ed Lee, the SF Ethics Commission, every city-sponsored domestic violence nonprofit in the Bay Area, and various Supervisors was strangely over-the-top and revealed more about how San Francisco is governed than was probably intended.

Up the street, the gay-focused Bay Area Reporter weekly newspaper, which has always had a capitalist, politically conservative slant, was offering a raffle for tickets to the San Francisco Opera House appearance of the ultimate current public distraction.


Greg said...

Ross was never a good choice for sheriff. he is a petty little man, who isn't smart enough to run a 2 car parade. He never takes responsibility for his blunders, and shows no sign of remorse for the many problems under his watch.

I hate Ed Lee and the developer/tech bosses who run things, but that doesn't mean Ross is a saint.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Greg: Nobody said he was a saint, but the public vilification was completely insane. Also, his opponent Vicki Hennessy has already cost the city's taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuits while she was mismanaging the Office of Emergency Services, and I've certainly not heard a word of remorse about that from anyone. The most disturbing quote I've seen was from former Sheriff Mike Hennessey who tried to fire a couple of dozen "bad apple" employees during his multi-decade tenure, including the thugs who were recently discovered to have set up inmate fights at the jail. Not one of those firings was upheld since the public safety unions in this city behave like a protection racket.

Hattie said...

The ultimate current public distraction. That's about it.

janinsanfran said...

Interesting. I was too sick to go near the Castro Street Fair -- but glad it has downsized.

Yesterday I photographed a core Castro precinct for 596 Precincts and was struck by hold OLD the street population seemed. We ain't young anymore.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Jan: Hope you get over that transatlantic crud soon. And that's an interesting observation about how the Castro is mostly populated by the Olds these days. Not so much in my Civic Center neighborhood or your Mission District area.