[Hpn] STREET SHEET E-Zine -- July 2001 -- Part 3
Tue, 03 Jul 2001 15:20:49 -0700
Swinging Through the Concrete Jungle
BAM-BAM-BAM. ³Wake up! Everybodyıs gotta get out!² No, no fire... but you
still gotta move your ass. Itıs my asshole roommate, The Mayor of Capp
Street, pounding on the door that separates my room from his in the hallway.
He thinks heıs the Eviction Drill Sergeant. This is definitely not how you
want to get started, just like when the Old Man, the Mayorıs dad and the
landlord of The Seedy Mission Flat where Iıve stayed for almost a decade,
goes into the bathroom and cranks up that circa-1940s radiator-heater that
goes ³whirrrrrr... uh... WHIRRRRRRR-UH.²
Not very pleasant, especially for anyone sporting a mild hangover. Itıs like
in ³My Cousin Vinnie,² where that Whistle That Can Be Heard All Over Town
goes off, and Joe Pesci springs up, his eyes bugginı out, like, ³what the
fuck was that?!² I dunno, but you if say you want ³grit,² I got it for ya
See, this is the deal: ever since the Old Man put the Mayor of Capp Street
on as part owner of the building, itıs fouled the whole thing up. They got a
rent strike goinı on upstairs with The Three Amigos; actually, itıs more
like The Two Amigos, cuz one of em The One That Works is tired of
their act of not paying utilities and bringinı in all sorts of riff-raff. If
thatıs the case, the Old Manıs got no room to talk. I mean... the hookers.
No wonder I got shit missing. Iıll get to this latest go-round one some
other time. But right now, Iıd say we got bigger fish to fry, except for if
you look in the ³icebox,² we ainıt even got the bones - not with all the
leeches we got, and the Old Man handing freebies out the window to guys like
No-Good Joe and Even-Worse Gary. I sure donıt want any part of those steaks,
whenever he gets em, from the Two-Bit Cala Meat Department Booster Club,
led by Carry em Away Callaway. No, right now, Iım dealinı with The Mayor of
Capp Street, whoıs fast on his way to becoming the cityıs Tyrant of the
Year. I know, competitionıs tough, but I say my guy is a lock and the key.
What I gotta do is take a quick shower, I guess hafta skip the ham-n-eggs
breakfast cuz, ha-ha, there ainıt none just get my hustle on and out the
Get ready sports fans, cuz itı almost time to start swinginı through the
Concrete Jungle. Get those bus passes and BART cards handy. Iım tellinı ya,
we ainıt gonna have any spare time for you play that game with the
Antiquated BART Ticket Machine. No matter how many different dollar bills
you try, he spits each and every one back almost like heıs sticking his
tongue out (right back atcha) and makes you late for your big appointment
or the Aıs game when they got a classic Hudson-Rocket match-up.
Even now, after Iım outta the shower, the Mayor is still ravinı, as he likes
to put it, and I donıt mean some dance party with tons oı ecstacy. This guy
is totally flipped already anyway, and Iıd be willinı to bet that in his
tiny little mind, he wants to boot everybody out so he can sell the place.
Then heıll fuck off all the money at The All-Night Card Room, even leavinı
his old man, the Old Man, out on the sidewalk to rot next to the garbage,
which, by the way, they still never learned how to take out. Or screw the
cap back on the toothpaste. Or flush the toilet, which for a while was The
Best Damn Rockinı Chair Ride you ever had. The Old Man wasnıt half-bad, and
actually, I feel sorry for him cuz heıs not all there. Come Rent Day, there
he is, with his hand out. But then when it comes to fixinı anything, well,
thatıs when his hearinı goes bad, every time, and he ³donıt know what your
talkinı about.² Gotta givvum a break though, the guyıs pushinı 90.
Anyway, I got this Lunatic Son yelling through his door in The Infamous
Hallway, plus the bathroom door. Me, I donıt like to yell, although with an
empty stomach and no first cuppa coffee, hey, thereıs a good chance oı that
happening. No, Iım gonna stand here, and get nutty right back; test out my
vocal chords a little by singinı some Walt Disney:
³Zippety-do-dah, zippety-ay. My oh my what a wonderful day. Nothinı but
sunshine, happy all day. Zippety-do-dah, zippety-ay...²
Now, The Mayorıs getting more pissed because his plan to make everyone
miserable like himself isnıt workinı out. At least, not this very minute.
But really, short term and long term, probably best if we just get away from
him, I mean altogether.
So what say we head down the street and on over to Kingıs Bakery on Mission,
home to one of the last 50-cent cups a coffee in town? For less than a buck,
you get a fair-shake slice oı pound cake and a medium coffee, which no
matter day or night is always just above PIPING HOT, and one notch short of
a boil. Itıs like, ³Hello, good morning. AHHHH, yesss, NOWWW weıre awake,²
no matter what kinda night itıs been.
Iım the corner here, waiting to catch the Muni-48 up to Potrero Hill, then
connect with the 19 thatıll take me out by the Main Post Office. After I
take care of business, I can take that 19-Polk back into town, jump off by
the Irish Bar to pick up a couple a ³good luck drink chips,² gotta have
those, and pay my tab. Then, maybe make a pit stop at the Coalition on
Homelessness, just to touch bases. Maybe someday Iıll have to throw myself
at the mercy of their Expert Legal Team to keep from having to throw myself
on the mercy of the court.
³Honest, yer honor. I work and pay rent, but they never gave me a receipt.²
That was one of the conditions of me living there that a) I put up with
all their bullshit; and b) pay my rent, but donıt get legal documentation.
Makes it less sticky for them. Whenever I insisted, theyıd say, ³Well then
you gotta move, then,² so Iıd drop it. I mean what else could I do... MOVE?
Yeah, right, where you gonna go? Thereıs NO VACANCY signs all over The City,
except for Dot-Com Gone Wrong and Wireless West. Got no place in The City. I
mean, can you really afford a $1,600-a-month apartment? Didnıt think so. I
know I canıt. And the SROıs, whew boy! Talk about taking a gamble, I mean
with the fires, the violence, the rats n the roaches, and bathrooms that...
uh... why donıt we just leave bathrooms out of it. Letıs just say that they
make mine look good, even with the caterwaulinı radiator-heater, the
upside-down light switch (par for the house), and the toothpaste snowstorm
all over the mirror which I have no idea what THATıS all about.
Nobody likes any oı that, but given the Lesser of Two Evils, having to move
is the lesser one. But sometimes, you gotta move you got no choice,
especially when Mr. Greed says, ³Iım stayinı here now... take a hike.²
When youıre a renter in this town, itıs like roulette sooner or later itıs
your number that comes up. Some get chased back to whence they came on the
very first spin, others, like me, with alla our good luck charms, last 10
years, maybe 20, but not anymore. Even if youıre lucky enough to have a job
that pays the so-called Living Wage, pretty soon it wonıt be. Or one that
pays you for full-time work for full-time hours, eventually, the Landlords
are gonna win. Sorry, thatıs just how it is. Sorry to have to lay that
Sobering Fact on you so early in the morninı, but this ride ainıt gonna be
all like a 26-Valencia that catches all the lights out to State. Buddy, this
whole Housing in San Francisco deal is rigged, Iım tellinı ya. You might
live out your dream for awhile, but please, donıt ever think for a minute
that you belong here, and that youıre gonna make it stick as a career. At
least, thatıs how some people think about it. Itıs all about all the money
your money for them, and no soup for you.
Back to the bus stop at 24th and Mission, I havenıt even made a dent in this
Kingıs coffee. Look to the West and see the beautiful rise up 24th Street
through Noe Valley leading up to Twin Peaks, but oh, wait a minute, now Iım
hip to that the Muni-48 just one block away sittinı on a red on Valencia.
Just enough time a few more sips, but like I said, this stuff is screaminı
hot, and I only get halfway down before my Muni pulls up. I let the others
get on first, but thereıs no way around it gonna hafta commit my first
minor sin of the day, or if youıd rather, a
³You gotta have a top for that,² says Lady Driver with the Cool-Ass Hairdo
like Erykah Badu.
Hate to waste anything, especially food and drink. Forget about those poor
kids in Africa for a minute will ya, WE GOT PLENTY Oı PEOPLE STARVINı RIGHT
But I gotta do it cuz I got places to go and people to see. Even if I
didnıt, well, Iıd still be on this Muni. You think youıd catch me laying
there back at The Seedy Mission Flat getting nothing but double-doses of
harrassment every hour on the hour?
Throw my half-filled styro-foamer into the garbage can, and Lady Driver who
you can already tell is one of the Nice Ones, says, ³Whereıs you get you
coffee?² Halfway down the street.
³Well, you coulda gone across the street (to the Chinese Food / Donuts Shop)
to get a cover, Iıda waited.²
Naw, thatıs all right. We donıt wanna hold these folks up. My bad. No big. I
knew it was an E-6 right after I did it (threw the top away).
Not too many people on this particular 48, No. 8208, which is kind of a
surprise, cuzı sometimes, Iıve had to debate as to whether I wanna deal with
that whole pack-em-in-like-a-sardineı and field-day-for-the-pickpocketsı
routine; just passed up the ride to S.F. General to pick my occasional meds.
Which reminds me, anybody need any Vicodin? Got a few leftovers. Gave it up
the day I saw that ³DATELINE³ special talking about how addictive it was,
and how it had become of the ³drug of choice² in Hollywood. ³What? Youıre
kiddinı? Never woulda guessed that one.²
Besides you notice how the cost of prescription medicine in general just
keeps going up and up and up. Next time you go the pick-up window, try this:
³No, no. These are DOWNERS, The price is suppose go LOWER.² On second
thought, maybe not. Hear they got Padded Room and The Straight-Jackets
playing this club. Which is sorta how I feel with this rental market: you
really canıt move, even if you try.
We get down all the way to the enda 24th, make a left onto Potrero. I dunno
why, but Iım in the front seat, and Iım lookinı at Lady Driver, and that
Erykah Badu song just pops into my head. ³Watchoo gonna do when they come
for you..? hhh-hhh... work ainıt honest but it pays the bills...² A quick
right and we go by General; head up the hill a few blocks, over the overpass
that crosses 101. When we get to Rhode Island Street I ring the bell.
³Cool, this is me. Can I ask you a question?² I say to Lady Driver.
³You like Erykah Badu?² She smiles a big one right at me.
³Yeah...I do. Why?²
³Cuz sheıs gonna be you in my movie?²
We was all set for wunna those, oh-shit not-another-nut-on-the-Muniı
reactions, like ³Generalıs back a couple blocks. I think you missed your
stop.² But no, this oneıs a gamer and a charmer.
³You got a movie?² she says.
³Well, no...not yet. Gotta finish the book first, which is no prob cuz I
already got an Editor, an Agent, a String of Photographers and Two
Thereıs a little pause, and I sling my bag over my shoulder and step off the
bus. Sheıs still got the doors open, and sheıs lookinı straight out at me.
³Whatchoo know about Erykah Badu?²
³I know I like her. I like her a lot.² With that, Lady Driver gives me
another smile, which, for me, makes my whole day. You get one of those
smiles from No. 4192 on the 48, man Iım tellinı ya, it changes your whole
outlook, even when your only a half-hour removed from the desperation and
deplorable conditions that is The Seedy Mission Flat.
Welcome to Postcard City
Where everything is picturized
But donıt look for any substance
If you donıt like it sail across the Bay
We have mountains, rolling hills and bridges
Postcard City welcomes out-of-towners
A land of tourists kicking out residents
Postcard City is temporary
Hard to keep up the appearance
A utopia stifling the other side of the story
Controlling with an iron fist
You can do anything
As long as it doesnıt go against our rules
No S R Oıs
No section eight vouchers
No mats in shelters
Playing musical chairs with no music
No more lodging in public
No sleeping in cars
No sitting at UN Plaza
No affirmative Action
No diversity leads to our ultimate goal, a utopia
No more artists
No more socialists
More and more capitalists
No more free speech
No more Government cheese
No P G& E
Postcard City donıt care
About healthcare or welfare
Cause we got our share
No more liberals
No more homosexuals
Follow the cat in the big hat
He is over sixty
Still making babies
Politics is dirty
In Postcard City
You wash my back i wash yours
A 20 cent stamp
And you can send this beautiful scenery
Across the country
The Grass is always greener
But what you see
Is man-made not Mother Nature
Look beyond the window dressing
Unwrap the gift
Reality is more than a kodak moment
Leroy F. Moore Jr.
Workforce Investment Board Can Dramatically
Change Employment In San Francisco
The Workforce Investment Board has the opportunity to change the way
homeless and low-income people are employed in San Francisco, but
bureaucracy, big business and the Mayor could prevent it. Established one
year ago, the Workforce Investment Board (or WIB) was created to pen
policies and procedures to spend Welfare to Work (WtW) and Workforce
Investment Act (WIA) funds. These two funds were created by the Clinton
Administration to replace welfare as we know it by providing block grants to
The idea was that if we put people to work, we wouldnıt need to supply
direct cash assistance. These two funds, along with a Youth Opportunity
Grant creating employment and training opportunities for young people, will
provide about 18 million dollars per year to San Francisco. However, the
guidelines for the use of this money are very broad and will be decided by
the fifty-member WIB, which was appointed by Major Willie Brown, and he has
to approve all spending.
Itıs great that San Francisco gets to decide how to use this money locally,
but the bureaucracy created to dispense it is causing fear in the social
services community. The fear being if the WIB doesnıt spend the money quick
enough and get the projected results, the response will be that San
Francisco doesnıt need the money and the funding will be eliminated.
There are several ways in which the Workforce Investment Board is already
spending this money in its goal to, ³provide a competitive workforce to
local business². The plan is to create a ³Universal Access² system. This
system is based on a group of centers within the city called One Stop Career
Centers. The One Stop Career Centers will cater to the local community by
providing central places for employment information including directories
of available jobs and skills needed for the current job market. The
centers also provide current information about services, education, and
training. Employers will also have access to databases of individuals ready
for employment. Connected via internet to these centers are Access Points
located at community-based organizations throughout the city. The two One
Stop Career Centers currently operating in San Francisco are the Career
Link, opened in November 97 at 3120 Mission St. in the Mission district,
and Career Center, opened in 1998 at 1800 Oakdale Avenue in Bayview Hunters
Point. There is no data as yet to document the success of the One Stop
The Workforce Investment Boardıs five-year plan states ³Our first priority
is to create meaningful job and training opportunities for low income San
Francisco residents with multiple barriers to employment.² The plan is to
establish a network of social service organizations where clients will be
referred through the One Stop Centers. What happens is all funding from
either WIA or WtW will go to educational institutions or social service
agencies to assist with the costs of job training. In actuality, the
institution or agency must submit very specific information about the
populations it serves and its success rate. If this information is
sufficient, then the agency is placed on an eligibility or vendor list, and
at that point the agency receives funding per student or client through an
Individual Training Account (ITA). Itıs not yet clear how those funds will
be dispersed to clients or students.
So how could the Workforce Investment Board help or hinder the situation for
homeless, low income, disabled, elderly, formerly incarcerated, and veterans
in San Francisco?
Two scenarios come to mind one is ideal, the other frightening. The scary
one is 51% of the members of the WIB are from for-profit corporations like
Chevron, Bank of America, Schwab, and United Airlines, all of which could
use their leverage on the board and with Mayor Willie Brown to funnel money
to train people for current projects like SFO Airport or Mission Bay. This
is all fine and good as long as it is clear that these corporations pay a
living wage, that there is housing in San Francisco, and that needs for
child care, transportation, and benefits are met. The other scenario is that
this very young board does extensive research into the current barriers to
employment, which will show the incredible need for affordable housing,
child care, and counseling. Those of us who have worked with homeless people
know how difficult it is just to get an ID or Driverıs License from the DMV.
The WIB says it will prioritize people with multiple barriers to employment,
but it needs to be educated on how these populations are served (or not),
and how much work goes into preparing an individual for employment. The
educational institutions and social service agencies need more funding for
staff, training materials, and infrastructure improvements. Too many
agencies currently spend too much time worrying about whether or not they
will exist next year. Hopefully the WIB will streamline this system and put
the money where the people most in need will receive it, and not use it
retraining corporate employees to go work for yet another corporation.
The entire Workforce Investment Board meets quarterly, but the subcommittees
meet regularly. All meetings are open to the public and provide time for
public comment. Please call the Private Industry Council the organization
that administers the WIB to find out when and where the meetings are being
held. Their telephone number is (415) 923-4003.
Joel Oppenheimer, Job Developer
St. Josephıs Village Family Center
St. Josephıs Village is a homeless shelter for families in SOMA. Joel is a
member of the Homeless Employment Collaborative, an organization working to
find and improve employment opportunities for homeless people in San
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Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy
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