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A Very Good Year 

We look back on the big news stories of 2006 and ask the tough question: Are you an apologist for the year that was?

Wednesday, Jan 3 2007
Another year has come and gone, and as San Francisco bids adieu to 2006, we take stock of the stories that shaped our lives during the past 12 months. As usual, the Bay Area found itself in plenty of national headlines; from the continuing debate over gay marriage to the never-ending BALCO steroids scandal, news outlets nationwide focused their pens and lenses on us. There was plenty of bad news — the rising homicide rate in Oakland, scandals in the San Francisco Police Department — and some good, too: City officials say the number of homeless dropped markedly during that time period. So what are your impressions? Are you an apologist for 2006 in San Francisco? Take our quiz and find out!

1) During the midterm elections in November, the phrase "San Francisco values" became central to the Republican Party's argument that America would take a hard left turn if Democrats swept to victory; once they did, S.F.'s own Nancy Pelosi became the first female speaker of the House of Representatives. Do you think 2006 was a good year for the Bay Area in the national political spotlight?

A) Hey, as long as Newsom didn't help the Republicans win a presidential election, it's a good year.

B) I don't see how Nancy Pelosi being in the spotlight could possibly be bad. Unless, of course, it's a really bright spotlight and the camera is zoomed in.

C) Guess it depends on whom you wanted to win: Schwarzenegger or the tree.

2) As of Dec. 17, Oakland had seen 146 homicides this year, making 2006 one of the deadliest years the city has seen (the record is 175, set in 1992). According to 2005 FBI data on homicides and violent crime, Oakland ranks only behind Compton on the list of California's most dangerous cities. Despite more than 15 anti-crime initiatives imposed by outgoing Mayor Jerry Brown during his tenure, the murder rate threatens to define the recent history of the city. What do you think should be done to curb the violence?

A) We need curfews, more police patrols, and greater cooperation between the citizens and law enforcement. You know, like the plan that's working so well in Baghdad.

B) Stop electing mayors on arts-funding platforms.

C) Move all the professional sports teams to the suburbs! (Bonus point for adding: "It's your problem now, Fremont.")

3) San Francisco saw its own share of violent crime in 2006, perhaps most notably at the legendary Halloween party in the Castro District, which ended when a gunman shot nine people on Market Street between 15th and 16th streets. During the ensuing melee and stampede, another person was injured, raising doubts about whether the celebration will ever return at all, much less to its peaceful, fun-loving roots. What do you think the future holds for the Castro Halloween party?

A) I think it's going to be at my place next year, and it's gonna be, like, 12 people.

B) Can you stop the Earth from revolving? Can you count how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin? Then you can't stop trannies from behaving foolishly in public on Halloween.

C) Alas, I fear the celebration will just shift to another part of town. Prepare yourself, Hayes Valley!

4) Mayor Gavin Newsom was, as usual, making headlines because of his personal life in 2006. This year saw him date a 20-year-old model/restaurant hostess/Republican, who was photographed at a gala with Newsom holding a glass of wine, although his spokesman said, "If she was drinking, the mayor didn't notice." What unexpected romantic controversy do you think is next for S.F.'s most eligible bachelor?

A) Come back, Kimberly! Come back!!!

B) Wait, the underage Republican and the Scientologist actress were two different girls? That's quite a Rolodex.

C) Well, he could date a guy. Oh, wait, you said "unexpected" romantic controversy.

5) Newsom lost a game of political hardball with the San Francisco 49ers, who stunned city officials by announcing they were backing out of a deal to rebuild a stadium at Candlestick Point, and instead were dead-set on a move down the Peninsula to Santa Clara. Not only did the move threaten to rob another Bay Area metropolis of a pro sports team — the A's also announced they were leaving Oakland for Fremont — but it effectively killed the city's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, which depended on a stadium partnership with the 49ers. Do you think it was a good year for sports in the Bay Area?

A) What's that? I'm sorry, I was just looking at the map to figure out how far the A's could build a suburban stadium from a BART stop and still technically be in the United States.

B) Yeah, except that the San Jose Sharks didn't play because of the NHL lockout. (Bonus point for adding: "Oh, the lockout was last year? In that case, how'd they do?")

C) Hell yeah! The Giants re-signed Barry Bonds for $16 million a year! Wait ... he's still on steroids, right?

6) It was also a big year for the Bay Area in entertainment. Several local hip-hop acts, including E-40 and DJ Shadow, attained national acclaim, and the Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness was the latest in a raft of recent films to be set and shot in San Francisco. Do you think the Bay Area is reclaiming its place as a cultural capital?

A) Reclaiming? Apparently, you've forgotten about a little band called Third Eye Blind.

B) Yeah, but somebody should tell Will Smith there's no BART entrance at Duboce Park. That, and he probably has dog shit on his shoes.

C) Do the number of car commercials shot here count as culture? Let me rephrase that: Does Los Angeles count car commercials as culture?

7) And finally, what do you think 2007 holds for San Francisco?

A) An earthquake. I don't care what Cal Tech says about all these small ones being "perfectly normal."

B) Another amazing Coppola wine, I'm sure.

C) I think 2007 will be the year that the rest of the country wakes up and realizes that, sure, we may be a bunch of atheistic, Earth- and peace-loving druggies whose political and moral values seem questionable, but remember: We're also gay parents.

How to score:

Score zero points for every "A" answer, one point for every "B," and two points for every "C."

0-6 points: Good riddance, 2006. Here's hoping we never have to hear Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" again.

7-10 points: It was a year of ups and downs. Must be all those escalators at the new mall.

11-14 points: Congratulations! You're a true apologist for 2006. Now go date our mayor!

About The Author

Matt Palmquist


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