Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stuck in the Middle

A sample of the Northern California SEIU drama gracias a Greenhouse.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lakeport, CA

The great haul from SF to Lakeport

Today I schlepped up to Lakeport in Lake County to attend a packed County Board of Supervisors about downsizing at Sutter Lakeside, a community hospital. I attended the meeting with some members of an organization called Heathcare Justice Sonoma County. I have become involved with the group through my work as the union rep for the residents at Sutter Santa Rosa. A coalition of unions, community activists, and faith based groups formed last year when Sutter Santa Rosa announced that it would be closing down, thereby breaking its agreement the county. The goal of the coalition is to protect access to healthcare in the county and to also preserve and protect labor rights of local workers in health services.

Just as Sutter is shutting down its facilities in Santa Rosa- as well as St Luke's Hospital across the street from my house and several other locations throughout the sate - the corporation is reducing inpatient capacity in Lakeport. These efforts are a part of the current trend across the Sutter system to pull out of underserved - and therefore less profitable - communities while expanding services in weatlhier areas. With a reduction in beds in Lake County, neighboring counties, including Sonoma, are going to pick up the slack. The goal of HCJSC at this meeting was to encourage an independent study of the impact of this downsizing on Lake County and the surrounding area.

The meeting started with an hour and a half presentation from the CEO of Sutter Lakeside. She described all the reasons why this change is necessary while highlighting how accountable the corporation is to the county. Later in the afternoon the floor opened for comments and questions from the public. Many expressed their faith in Sutter, several were quite dubious, and everyone had plenty of questions for the CEO. At the last minute towards the end of the hearing, one of the leaders of HCJSC pulled me aside and asked me to speak on behalf of the residents. I wasn't prepared in the least but he and I wrote something quickly. I stood nervously at the rostrum and, in my squeakiest of voices, urged the Board and the Sutter representatives to investigate the consequences of Sutter's decision. It was all over in a minute and I hope I won't have to relive the moment anytime soon. Unfortunately, the Board of Supervisors meetings are very popular with the large retiree community in Lake so if anyone out there has a grandparent living in an RV in Northern California they might catch me! By the end of the meeting the Board and Sutter were able to commit to an independent study once the changes take effect. A post facto review is not exactly what we wanted but given the reality that the B o S has no direct power over Sutter (the relationship is different in Sonoma), this is likely the best they could do.

There is so much more to elaborate on but with eyes half open I must hit the hay!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rainy Weekend

It was raining when I flew into Oakland on Friday and it held through Sunday morning. Phillip and I ate a late dinner then went to his friend Megan's house in SOMA before going to an 'underground' party full of Burners until late. I have a lot of observations about this not-so-discrete SF subculture, but its perhaps best saved for a later post. On Saturday morning I picked up Heather and her friend and we went for brunch on Haight. We also found a body stocking for Heather to give to her friend as a birthday gift; we bought more tights. We had drinks at the MOMA with her father and friend and went to zee screening! nearby. There were several shorts that were quite good but my Oscar still goes to Chords.

I made Heather model her really great tights

Phillip and I went to Bart's birthday dinner and then I went to the l'Afrikan party at Katie and Gaby's house. Katie brought me a big piece of fabric from Gabon in the best pattern ever. I am so happy to have it.

This afternoon Phillip and I went to see a movie at the Sundance Kabuki in Japantown and then ate lunch there. The movie was really depressing and I was put off for the rest of the afternoon. By nightfall Heather came over for a sleepover and we stuffed ourselves with a Mint Mountain sundae from Mitchell's.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Great news! Tomorrow night my bosom buddy, Ratty (nee H**th*r Tr*b*), will be flying into San Francisco. I will be on the road until Friday evening but the notion that my fine friend will be in this very state gives me great joy. Heather is in town to attend the screening of her film Chords at the San Francisco International Children's Film Festival. I will be her proud escort.

Photo credit: Allison Brockhouse and Nikki Dunham-Hoshida, respectively

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

NLRB Rules in Favor of Saigon Deliverymen, Blogger Surprised

NYTimes: For nearly a year, devotees of Vietnamese food have encountered deliverymen picketing in front of two of Manhattan’s most highly rated Asian restaurants: the Saigon Grills on the Upper West Side and in Greenwich Village. The picket lines could soon come down, because a judge with the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that the owner of the restaurants illegally fired 28 deliverymen last March and should reinstate them. Read more -

I am happy to see that the Board ruled in favor of the deliverymen though it would be irresponsible if it ruled otherwise given the evidence. I am also surprised.

The NLRB under the later Bush has been particularly biased against pro-union workers. For example, last year the Board ruled that if employers voluntarily recognize a union when a majority of the employees sign authorization cards (as opposed to voting for the union through an NLRB election), the employer must notify the employees that they have 45 days to petition for a decertification of the union. While it takes 50 percent of workers in a unit to vote in a union, it only takes 30 percent of those employees to decertify the union. The ruling takes much of the power out of running card check elections. Many unions prefer card check over traditional Board elections because workers can sign authorization cards any place or time. Workers voting through Board elections are much more susceptible to employer intimidation.
This recent case is just one example of the dozens of precedents against workers that the Board has set over the past several years.

A side note: I am currently in the Central Valley helping workers organize using card check authorization. Fortunately the county here, which happens to be the employer of record for this group of workers, follows a resolution allowing its employees to form unions via card check authorization. Thanks voters!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Burlesqueteers @ The Uptown Club's Hubba Hubba Review 4/30

Last night was my second show with the Burlesqueteers Hubba Hubba Review at the Uptown Club in downtown Oakland. Erin, Pete, Phillip and Dan came out to support. I danced in the final group number, Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder. It was lots of fun even though none of us had the number down perfectly. I think that by the time we came on the audience was drunk enough not to notice too much. After the show the five of us went for swanky cocktails at Bourbon and Branch. I had a great time chatting and gossiping with Erin until the bar closed.


the MC; Miss Holly Highbeams

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Monday, February 18, 2008

Boners, Drugs and Violence: DRM Comes West

Dan missed his flight on Friday afternoon but made it to us eventually on Friday night. We went for Can-Cun burritos and for beers at a couple of neighborhood dives.

Pete, Dan and I went for brunch at Bugaloos and saw a girl on the street that left an impression on us. We headed for Dolores Park. Dan and I went to Buy-Rite for wine and oranges. As if tall stalks of corn parted and send forth a mid-western dream, the girl from the street earlier in the day was sitting on our picnic blanket with Phillip and Pete, who were both incapacitated by then. It turns out that she had mistakingly approached Phillip thinking he was someone she knew. She ended up sticking around. Sara, we learned, comes from Iowa and was formerly a part of the moped gang, the Creatures of the Loin. She told us she met David Lynch last week went he came to her visa office seeking an emergency travel vouchers to attend the Maharishi's funeral in India. We hung out at Dolores until it got too chilly and then trekked back home. Dan had to leave at six to accompany an old friend to the Burning Man Regional Summit. Phillip, Pete, Sara and I hung out in the living room listing to Sara's ipod collection of British and French bubblegum pop. By then things were getting pretty crazy. I will never look at orchids the same again. We didn't leave the house until 11:15, when we went to a gallery show at Blue Six. We intended to see an a cappella group of thirty bearded men singing Leonard Cohen, but we missed that act and saw another entertaining performance. When that ended we headed over to Kathy's housewarming party. The DJ was really good and I got punked really hard by this Italian dude. We stayed up really late.

Busy Dolores; wine-o

Dolores; Sara, Dan

Souvenier shot with a Dolores palm; the trippiest Mona Lisa

Sunday morning the four of us ate brunch at the Pork Cafe and Phillip, Dan and I went to see the Gilbert & George exhibit at the de Young Museum. I really like that museum and would like to return without Dan yacking in my ear the whole time. We drove to the ocean to check out the Pacific. We all took naps and the men and I went to dinner at Dosa. Pete and Dan went out binge drinking.

de Young

SF budget crisis in action; vista

We woke up this morning and went to brunch at the Atlas. We drove up to Napa Valley for a wine tasting at the Chandon vineyard (no Snoop). We ate from the secret menu at In-and-Out. The weather was beautiful even crossing the Golden Gate from Marin to SF. We drove down Lombard Street.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentines Day: A Re-cap

Phillip thoughtfully planned a secret Valentine's Day scavenger hunt extravaganza. Around 5:15 he dropped me off at a townhouse on 22nd and Guerrero with the first mystery clue in an envelope. Surprise!! A massage! It was great, and totally unexpected. I highly recommend the masseur, Adam. After an hour of zen the car was waiting for me downstairs and I received my next envelope with this invitation inside for the San Francisco Pillow Fight. I remember seeing pictures of the massive lucha de almohadas when I was in Buenos Aires but this was something else! We showed up about 45 minutes into the event at the Embarcadero and the fight was still raging. It looked like a Great Chicken Massacre - feathers were flying! people were hooting! total anarchy! Here are some good professional photos. We also took some video footage:

After checking out the fight we went to a wine bar near the TransAmerica building and exchanged some gifts. I gave Phillip two vintage cowboy shirts from a shop in Santa Rosa that I had been squirreling away for weeks. He gave me a jackalope (!!) and a print out of a new logo design for this here website. We are going to put it up this weekend so look out. The jackalope is coming in the mail but I will put up a picture of its majesty in our dining room as soon as it arrives. Drool. After some wine and olives we walked to North Beach for a 5-course Italian feast. My goal was to eat until one of the buttons popped off my dress. I almost made it but I was wearing my sturdy AY Not Dead dress and they just wouldn't budge. We went home and watched the start of Vertigo.

It was a really fantastic night. An ideal Valentine's Day in every way. Whadaaaguy!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day in Four Takes

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On the Eve of Saint Valentine

Tonight Phillip and I went for a pre-holiday snack at an oyster bar in the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. The weather has been really nice this week so it made for a lovely stroll. I love coming down here because it is a whole different world from the Mission. The oyster bar faces the ocean and we had a feast of oysters and mussel stew. Delicious. We went to Mitchell's for dessert.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Las Vegas: Part Two

Karla dropped me off at the Tropicana around six-thirty. It was my first time seeing this gem of the strip. The Tropicana is among the old guard of hotels on Las Vegas Boulevard. That is to say that it hasn't been renovated much since it was built back before the mega luxury hotels sprung up around it. Regardless, our room in the Paradise Tower was charming in its own way, with a few of the neighboring Hooters Hotel and a mirrored headboard and ceiling combination. Phillip and his cousin Alex met me in the room after hitting up the liquor store. We gathered with Daniela, Pete, Erin, and David in the lobby and went for a swanky feast at the DB Brasserie in the Wynn Hotel. Apparently no hotel is too luxurious for a little Vegas-style entertainment. A different light and puppetronic show - in the spirit of Madonna's 1994 Bedtime Stores - peppered our meal every thirty minutes (does anyone have a photo of that?). After dinner we went back to the suite and hung out. Phillip and I went to bed later on and some of the group went out with Alex to check out the nightlife.

The roller coaster at New York New York; the only Elvis I spied

Major construction to build the 2009 City Center - I like the contrasts

The next morning Phillip and I woke up early and walked around the strip. It is really something else. Hedonism at its best, it is a Disneyland for adults. We walked through some hotels then I went back to the hotel to order room service and take a nap. Phillip and I rejoined the group early evening in the suite for some party time. Out of everyone I started tripping as soon as we left the hotel room for a grand walk around the city. You can imagine what it is like to hallucinate in such a visually stimulating city. Zoiks! We saw the lions at MGM and the dancing fountains at the Bellagio. People in roller skates were giving out "free hugs"? Next thing I knew I was strapped into the roller coaster at the New York New York and flying around the city. New York New York is definitely the most bizarre hotel. I found myself standing under a fake streetlight in front of a fake Katz's Deli on a fake Bleeker Street. We schelped around some more hotels and saw the freaky 3D Dinosaur movie. We went back to the hotel for some drinks etc and got delicious pizza. Some enjoyed the hot tub and sauna. After everyone went to bed David and Pete stayed up until five in the morning playing black jack. Pete broke even and David won $25.25 in total.

Freaky free huggers; Daniela and colors!

Seeing blurry: Have Mercy indeed

Molding at the Tropicana; David and Erin

View of the strip from the party suite; we stole these great glasses

On Sunday Phillip and I played some slot machines. I lost twenty-five cents. The group went for brunch at the (non-union) Venetian, which is certainly the corniest fancy hotel. Afterwards Phillip, Alex and I went to the aquarium at Mandalay Bay and went to dinner with Phillip's aunt and uncle on his madre's side. By sundown it was off to the airport. I snored the whole ride home.

Lady unluck; 25 cents in the hole


Venetian; primos at the aquarium

Tropicana lobby vs Mandalay Bay lobby, wah wahh

Sin City; my spirit motel

Off the Strip

Las Vegas was an interesting cultural experience. For all its glitz there isn't much glamor. People come from all over the world to get drunk, gamble, dance, and pet strippers. All of the businesses on the strip are owned by large corporations. I enjoyed myself but I can't imagine returning as a real grown-up without the vices of this trip.