Willie Brown, former California state Assembly speaker (longest serving), former mayor of San Francisco and general bon vivant, used to have lunch on Fridays in the City at a restaurant called Le Central, with several friends, including Herb Caen, legendary Chronicle columnist.
It looks like Willie picked up a few literary pointers over the cassoulet. -- wmh
San Francisco Chronicle
Berkeley betrays its free speech legacy
The battle over free speech in Berkeley has flipped the two sides in the old generation gap.
When the Free Speech Movement got rolling at UC Berkeley in the 1960s, the whole point was winning the right to speak out about civil rights, sex, the Vietnam War or anything else on your mind.
It was youth versus “the man.”
Now it’s youth demanding the shutdown, and the man expressing outrage at the death of free speech.
And the cops being sent in to protect it.
How’s that for a reversal?
And what are these kids upset about? Ann Coulter? Milo Yiannopoulos? David Horowitz? All second-string cable commentators at best.
The descendants of those who fought for free speech now say there shouldn’t be speech unless it fits their own political agenda. If it doesn’t, then it’s not free speech, it’s hate speech — and it must be stopped, even if it means violence and damage.
How the hell do you get away with that?
The Free Speech Movement was born in Berkeley, and now, it seems, it’s being buried in Berkeley.
New York state’s first African American Assembly speaker, Carl Heastie, was in town the other evening. Keep an eye on him. Heastie is a rising star, similar to Barack Obama when he was in the Illinois General Assembly almost 15 years ago.
In the private room at the Big 4, Heastie was feted by the likes of John Burris, Jack Davis, Victor Makras, Port Commissioner Kimberly Brandon and a host of others.
Clearly we’re looking for the next generation of Democratic leadership in this nation, and the 49-year-old Heastie is definitely in the mix.
There is reason for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to be optimistic about the midterm elections next year, particularly in the wake of Democrat Jon Ossoff’s 48 percent showing in last week’s special election primary in a Republican-heavy House district in Georgia.
How to approach 2018? Rather than just push ideology, Democrats should think seriously about finding candidates who fit the culture of a particular district, even if it means going for a conservative Blue Dog.
I know Blue Dogs may not vote at all times with the Democratic mainstream. But they’re a darned sight better than Republicans.
Get enough of them, and you have a Democratic majority, which means a Democratic speaker. And that’s the power position we here in the Bay Area really need.
I was up and out the door at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday for the annual Lotta’s Fountain earthquake ceremony. I was dying for a cup of coffee, and there was no place open.
Then, as I rounded the corner on Market Street, I came face to face with William May, the doorman from the Fairmont Hotel. He was wearing a big smile and holding two cups in his hands.
“One for you and one for me,” he said.
Pure magic. With that, we were off to the fountain for the annual 5:12 a.m. ceremony.
The 1906 survivors are all gone now. But believe it or not, in some ways this year’s gathering was better than ever.
There were plenty of folks dressed up in costumes from the turn of the century. We had red-shirted firefighters in helmets and suspenders. We had guys in high-buttoned Keystone Kop uniforms and women decked out in great flourishing dresses. It was like an earthquake re-enactment party.
I have a feeling the celebration could become bigger than ever as a historical costume party. And in San Francisco, we do love to costume up.
Movie time: “The Fate of the Furious.” I hear this latest demolition derby starring Dwayne Johnson cost something like $200 million to make. If that’s the case, at least $198 million was for the cars they tore up during the filming.
The plot is convoluted to the point of comedy, but who cares? The film is all about action.
See it now, and see it loud.
The neighborhood merchants held their annual dinner at the Olympic Club the other night, and the gibes were flying.
One merchant came up to me and said, “Why are you always complaining about traffic being so bad? Don’t you know it’s good for us?”
“The harder it is for people to go anywhere, the closer to home they shop. And we’re the shops close to your home.”
And if you think Mayor Ed Lee has no sense of humor, you’re wrong.
As the main course was being served, our good mayor leaned over to me and said: “You know, they just announced the 2017 airline culinary awards.”
“United Airlines ... for its Chinese takeout.”