Arts and Entertainment
By Amanda Nowinski
THERE ARE HOOKER -humping, crack-smoking politicians who are tough on crime, and there are silky smooth, Willie Brown ass kissers who are Tough on Bums.
Sup. Gavin Newsom, who reigns over the eternally perky Marina and Pac Heights districts, has recently taken it upon himself to eradicate the shaggy, subhuman life forms that spot our once-glistening streets. Newsom knows firsthand that it's tough to be king of bulimic-congested Union Street, and he announced last Monday that he was tired of having his daily routines ruined by the bums, who obviously subject this mayoral hopeful to exhausting dramas as he whisks past them each day on Van Ness Avenue, where they can be found simply standing. Not only would he like to make it illegal to panhandle on the Van Ness islands and in other public spaces, he would also like to mandate bum finger stamping, so that we can keep track of how much methadone and tin-flavored soup they are consuming and how many cardboard boxes and shopping carts they have converted into greedy little lofts.
Newsom, I feel your pain, but finger stamping is so yesterday. Although it conveniently equates the homeless with criminals, it's not as efficient as the method employed by the SPCA, which plants microchips in the necks of all animals up for adoption. That way owners can track down Muffy if she makes a run for it and ends up in a whorehouse in Brisbane. Don't we want the same for our bums? Clearly, les misérables aren't that different from the little furry ones. They shit wherever they can, they adore canned food, they love to pass out in the sun, and they screw one another and play with their genitals in public. Not to mention that both kinds of critters beg a lot.
Newsom insists that the unfortunates aren't just an aesthetic disgrace, and bless his heart, he wants to provide them with more shelter and services. But while laws concerning finger stamping and sending folks to jail for panhandling would be easy to implement, waiting for the city to expand drug treatment and homeless social services will take years. If we look at the city's impossibly slow response to the recent arts-space crisis, we can only assume that it will drain thousands of dollars in redundant "studies" before providing another annoying bum with a bed.
Newsom complains that the homeless threaten our quality of life and wants to institute a 24-hour hotline so that concerned citizens can report undesirables loitering on the street. If only that hotline had been in place last month when I was checking out a friends' band at a restaurant in the Marina Triangle. As I walked up Fillmore toward a liquor store to buy a pack of smokes, I was accosted by two drunk men wearing glossy black leather coats that contained obtrusive shoulder pads evidently the armor that Marina frat boys wear when they aim to slay the bitches. The two husky men blocked my path as I scurried up the block, demanding that I light their smokes. Exhausted, I acquiesced, but when one slurred at me to remove my shirt and show them my tits, I muttered, "Fuck off," and quickly walked on. Shoulder Pads Number One yelled, "Stupid slut," while Shoulder Pads Number Two coughed himself silly on the street. Dear Newsom, where's that hotline when you need it most?
Although it's touching to know that Newsom cares so deeply about the homeless, I urge him to look inward, toward the quality-of-life dilemmas plaguing his own neighborhood. After all, I'm deathly sick of those Sunday-morning coffee sippers who squat aimlessly on Marina District sidewalks, obstructing everyone's path. Under Newsom's plans, wouldn't that be illegal?
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