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Socializing With the MayorZen and the Art of Shopping

Wednesday, Aug 8 2001
As the clubs editor at SF Weekly, as well as the owner of a nightlife-based Web site, I'm in a position to learn a lot about the city's social life. Sometimes a little too much.

Scene 1: The recent Webby Awards. I attended the event with a very attractive date who was back in town after moving away three months ago. As we mingled in the VIP lounge, Mayor Willie Brown entered the room and immediately beelined over to talk to my date. I was surprised to find out that not only did he know her name and that she had moved away, but that they knew each other well enough to carry on a five-minute conversation. As Da Mayor walked away, I looked at my date in shock. "Oh, please," she said. "He's fucked everyone I know."

Scene 2: Four days later, at a friend's cocktail party. One guest brought a beautiful date who happens to work in a key position in the Mayor's Office. Oddly, she already knew three of the other single female guests in the room on a first-name basis -- women who had no other apparent common bond besides age and beauty.

Scene 3: Last week, the opening party for the Clift Hotel. As I walked in sometime after midnight and edged up to the bar, I met two ... well, let's say "social climbers." The kind with T-shirts that expose one shoulder and hug the breasts tightly. I asked the women what their association was with the Clift Hotel and was told that they were attending the opening with the mayor. In an effort not to choke on my drink, I stepped away from the bar and found myself face to face with a woman who claimed to be the editor of a major women's fashion magazine.

She looked at me and said, "You look like a journalist." The woman appeared to have had a little too much fun at the party, to the point of having a cigarette dangling backward between her lips. Before I could say, "May I light that for you?," the mayor suddenly appeared with a young woman and grabbed my arm.

Had I really made it onto the "elite list" of San Francisco society? Would my name appear in the Nob Hill Gazette as a personal friend of the mayor? Not exactly. Our conversation went something like this:

"Is your friend in town?"

"No, Mr. Mayor, she's not, but she sends her love."

"Yeah, I'm sure." He turned to the young lady by his side. "So, where do you live, sweetie?"

"I live two blocks up Geary. I can walk."

"No, I will give you a ride," Brown said. "Trust me."

With that, they darted into the mayor's black Lincoln, turned on the red and blue lights, and drove off into the night. -- Jason Dorn

San Francisco activists love to rail against the encroachment of giant national chain stores -- the Rite Aids and Home Depots -- upon San Francisco's neighborhoods. They believe, apparently, that such crass commercialism will be a corrupting influence on the city and its people.

Some might be inclined to view that attitude -- that we will all somehow be spoiled by rampant capitalism -- as typical San Francisco excess. Had those skeptics been shopping at the Costco on Brannan Street a few days ago, however, they might have had second thoughts.

Costco, of course, epitomizes the trend toward impersonal, big-box megastores, with its factory-second clothing, gallon tubs of mustard, and pork chops by the gross. Recently, half a dozen saffron-robed Buddhist monks were spotted wheeling a cart oh-so-deliberately around the huge supermarket warehouse. All was serene, until the monks lined up at the checkout counter, their cart stuffed to the rim with baked goods, canned goods, boxes of meat, and plates of fish.

Suddenly, a frown creased the brow of the head monk, as she stared first at her credit card and then glanced fretfully at the huge cache of goods in the cart. In Japanese, she said something to her colleagues, in a tone of reproach. A bitter argument ensued among the group. One monk even stamped his foot. Just when fisticuffs seemed imminent, a scowling priest grabbed a cardboard pallet of two dozen delicious-looking croissants and stalked away to return it to the shelves, leaving behind in the cart, among other items, a 100-piece wrench-and-socket set.

About The Authors

Peter Byrne


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