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Friday, January 7, 2011

'Mayor Mustache' In San Francisco?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge Is Ed Lee a whisker away from making history?
  • Is Ed Lee a whisker away from making history?

First Mayor With Facial Hair Since 1944? *

When Mayor Gavin Newsom suggested his successor during the San Francisco Giants World Series parade, he borrowed one of the team's catchphrases: "Fear the beard."

Tightly wound progressives at the time thought this was a veiled Aaron Peskin reference. But the more accurate conspiracy theory would have had Willie Brown and Rose Pak influencing Newsom to be referring to likely mayor-to-be Ed Lee.

Within a few minutes of the elaborately staged political ambush that has put Lee on the precipice of occupying Room 200, the city administrator's facial hair had its own Twitter account.

Whether Lee, as expected, is anointed by the Board of Supervisors today (and then subsequently ratified by the new board, which is sworn in on Saturday) or PUC boss Ed Harrington somehow grabs the brass ring, history will be made. The first Chinese American mayor. The first openly gay mayor. But, let us not forget, either would be the first mayor with facial hair since World War II.*

click to enlarge Adolph Sutro is also likely the last city mayor to be named 'Adolph'
  • Adolph Sutro is also likely the last city mayor to be named 'Adolph'
You'd have to go back to 1944 to find a San Francisco mayor with a little hair on his lip. That'd be Angelo Rossi. He was also a Republican, which wasn't nearly as much of an anathema as having facial hair; successors Roger Lapham, Elmer Robinson, and George Christopher were also GOP mayors -- but clean-shaven.

Prior to Rossi, San Francisco mayors not only sported whiskers but did so with exuberance one now has to attend a beard and mustache competition to enjoy. Our favorites: Isaac Smith Kalloch (1879-81), James Phelan (1897-1902), and Edward Robeson Taylor (1907-11). But the hands-down facial hair champion is Adolph Sutro (1895-97).

We'll never see a mayor with chops like that again -- or an occupant of City Hall Room 200 from the "Populist Party."

*Update, 12:45 p.m.: We are pained to admit that it somehow slipped our mind that the recent occupant of Room 200 for quite some time, a certain Willie Brown, did indeed feature facial hair.

SF Weekly apologizes to Willie Brown and his mustache. 

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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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