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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chris Daly May Know a Lot about a Lot -- But He Doesn't Know Jack About SF Weekly

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 7:30 AM

Chris Daly
  • Chris Daly
I want to thank Supervisor Chris Daly. I want to thank the man for forcing me to read through his turgid, 2,500-word polemic about supervisorial candidate Theresa Sparks and how "big money" has supposedly been showered upon this newspaper in return for a cover story. Now we know what it's like to be trapped in an office cubicle with Leon Trotsky on speakerphone. And if it takes this sort of inspiration to lead us to live more virtuous lives to avoid such a fate in the great beyond -- praised be.

Daly is entitled to write whatever he pleases -- and, on Fog City Journal, it seems he can truly write whatever he pleases; the Web site serves as the Kato Kaelin to Daly's O.J. Simpson.

But we are also entitled -- and some would say obligated -- to point out that the central premise of Daly's diatribe, that articles in SF Weekly and San Francisco Magazine are part of "The Big Rollout," that shadowy, high-placed apparatchiks of downtown sidled up to us and said "Hey kiddo, I'm rich and powerful and I've got a pitch for you" -- is bunk. Not only is it bunk, it reveals a lot more about Daly than about Sparks (or us). Along with a large portion of the city's hard left, Daly seems disturbingly eager to engage in paranoid conspiracy theories.

The truth is, here at SF Weekly, writers are hired, shake hands with the editors, and then are tossed into the deep end of San Francisco's pool to go find stories. Like the vast majority of the stories in this paper, this was a writer-generated article. Staff writer Lauren Smiley thought the notion of a twice-married former wealthy executive chucking it all to run to San Francisco, have a sex change, run a sex toy company, head the police commission, and then receive a controversial appointment to lead the Human Rights Commission was an eclectic and interesting story.

Astoundingly, Daly can only see this story on political terms. This, too, reveals a lot.

Theresa Sparks
  • Theresa Sparks
It was after Smiley began reporting the story that she learned of Sparks' desire to run for office; oddly, when Daly recounts the telltale signs Sparks was preparing for her "Big Rollout," he links to articles written by yours truly and Smiley and appearing on this Web site. So, we're not sure where Daly is going with that -- but, again, the notion that this was some top-down display of propaganda masquerading as journalism isn't just foolish but a little offensive.

I've tried to explain this to left-leaning acquaintances -- whip smart people I respect. Somehow they just can't process it. Somehow, the notion that our story and San Francisco Magazine's article appeared on the very same day is just too much for them. Bear with me, but it just ain't that complicated. Smiley's story on Sparks was originally scheduled to run three weeks earlier -- but was flip-flopped with Ashley Harrell's article about sea lions invading San Francisco's docks. We knew San Francisco Magazine was also working on a story, and, lo, they ended up running simultaneously. Really, that's the way it went. Sorry folks. There was no gunman on the grassy knoll.

I'm sure this explanation won't satiate Daly. In writing about Sparks' struggles, he says, SF Weekly and San Francisco Magazine "effectively deal with any issues around Sparks' transgender identity." This is actually an astounding statement; he means to say that Smiley and SF Mag's Nathaniel Johnson were clearly "in" on this fix -- not writing about Sparks' saga because it was compelling but because it strategically neutralized her campaign shortcomings. Claiming an independent author is nothing more than a paid operative for sinister forces is more than a little insulting -- and quite crazy when you think about it for even a moment.

But there's more: "I have never been the subject of a single profile piece that went as in-depth as either of Sparks' two profiles published on the same day! This means the big money is lining up," fumes Daly. No, it doesn't -- plus this is a disingenuous statement to boot. SF Weekly alum Ron Russell published a masterful profile of Daly back in 2007. And if the supervisor wanted it to be more in-depth, perhaps he shouldn't have kept his wife and family from speaking with Russell. 

That being said, there is an incontrovertible point we have to hand to Daly. He notes that Sparks is not the first transgendered person to run for supervisor; Denise D'Anne and Robert Haaland deserve that honor. This is undeniably true. We should have mentioned that and we didn't.

Chris Daly has served the people of District 6 for a long time. He's clearly a smart and talented man, and, as much as he makes it difficult via his bellicose and doctrinaire nature, we respect his abilities. We wish he'd show a little respect for us; implying a journalist is merely a puppet with downtown's hand up his or her ass is simplistic, populist claptrap -- and demeaning.

Chris, as Danny Aykroyd playing Sigmund Freud put it, "sometimes a banana is just a banana."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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