Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Saints Day


The barricades are coming down.

The partiers are going home.

Halloween 2007 is over.

A man with a "Are you on the highway to hell" banner walks by.

Whew! Things are back to normal!

Our job was to encourage people to stay "home for Halloween" and they did just that. Now -- let's keep the energy pro-active and use the "home for Halloween" message to unite our community around a common goal: a safe "home for Halloween" in an appropriate venue.

Today is my birthday...I got exactly what I wanted: a peaceful home for Halloween in my home...the Castro.

more anon.

So Far, Really Good

10:42pm -- The live shot at the top of the hour on KTVU Channel 2 said it all: empty streets, moving traffic, peaceful, respectful, fun-loving crowd NOT blocking the thoroughfares.

So far, so good - so far, really good, actually: better than we had hoped for. In the words of our supervisor, Bevan Dufty: "I'm feeling pretty humble right now."

Right on Bevan -- and humble is how all of us who have been working on the "No Halloween in the Castro / Home for Halloween" campaign feel right now -- humbled by the work of our public safety professionals, our incredibly competent (and patient) police officers; humbled by the dozens of Castro business owners, bar-keeps and neighbors who have helped in this effort.

Police Commission President Theresa Sparks stopped by to offer words of praise, thanks and encouragement. Thanks Theresa -- that meant a lot.

Mayoral "uber aide" Martha Cohen deserves special thanks and "kudos." Her relentless efficiency and organizational acumen (and historic knowledge of this event) have been vital. Quite simply, without Martha, we'd all be looking at quite a different outcome. My professional hat is off to Martha.

Also, thanks to the entire "Tuesday 10am Group" (you know who you area) which met for the last month at the 17th & Valencia SFPD station. Without a doubt, Capt. Goldberg and his team. Asst. Chief Shinn and his colleagues all are un-sung heroes. Well -- I'll sing their praises!

Also, my personal thanks to my incredible "team" at DP&A: Eric Politzer (patient, smart and connected), Michael Micael (energetic, tireless and patient), Alfredo Casuso (talented, creative and wise), Roger Rose (saavy, persistent and knowing) and Joe Brown (brilliant, witty and encouraging). And - a special thanks to our new intern, Diane: what on-the-job training! Thanks for everything! Also -- my great appreciation to the incredible team at "Your Daily Staple" -- their professionalism and network in getting our flyers / posters into the hands of people around the Bay was truly art in motion. Well done Elb, Lisa and everyone!

And, last, but certainly not least: words can't be found to express my gratitude to our media sponsors, KRON 4 (Thank you Pat Patton, Javier Valencia and Kevin Adler) and Clear Channel (Thank you Bob Agnew and Mark van Gelder). Also, a salute to Dave and the team at "Guide-By-Cell" for putting our PSAs on their great cellphone network. Thanks to Carrie at Big Star Printing for the great Castro Theatre banner; thanks to Copy Central for the BART / MUNI banners; and thanks to Repro Graphics for the gazillion posters, flyers and heralds that helped us spread the word!

Also -- a special "hats off" to Jeff Hamilton at MUNI (and everyone there) and Linda Vasquez at BART (ditto for her entire team) -- the definition of quick problem solving (Note to Linda: I think a gold star is in order for dealing with an earthquake, a station incident AND Halloween all within 24 hours. :-) ).

So -- with a couple of hours to go, I'm feeling...cautiously optimistic. Keep everything crossed.

The night isn't over yet, far, really good.

more anon.

Last Call -- REALLY

9:30pm -- the Castro's four "big bars" just announced last call: Badlands, The Bar on Castro, Jet and Lime.

"Excuse me," the bouncer at Badlands said as a party-goer tried to exit with his drink. "You need to leave that here."

Thank you Castro Bar & Business Owners! Our neighborhood heroes and heroines! From the marvelous "Mix" (an early and enthusiastic supporter of this effort) to the "Midnight Sun", "Cafe Flore", "The Lookout", "Edge" and the historic "Twin Peaks" all deserve a round of applause for their selfless efforts tonight.

Outside on the streets, a passing fancy of fancy dress, dressed-down decadence, and deliciously-tacky finery.

Who would have thunk it: the streets and sidewalks are open, and the crowd (so far) respectful.

I live in hope.

more anon.

Last Call for Alcohol

8:15pm...the first of Castro's bars are CLOSED; the rest at 10pm.

It's a pretty dry night.

A would-be bar-goer shakes the front door of the "Twin Peaks." Locked. He looks confused, and goes in search of other liquid refreshment.

The streets are still open, although the cars and buses seem outnumbered by news vans. Our team of "No Halloween in the Castro" flyer-hander-outers (what is the word for that any way?) at Civic Center BART / MUNI report a MUCH smaller crowd than in years past.

At 7pm, a small group of protestors had a service over the coffin of "Castro Halloween" at the intersection of Market & Castro. It was very theatrical, and very evocative of the creative protests for which my beloved Castro has become famous. The TV cameras got footage; people clapped and then everyone moved on.

It got me thinking....this isn't the "death" of the Castro Halloween -- it's simply the Castro getting real and TAKING BACK its Halloween. The Castro Halloween party was always meant to be just that: a neighborhood and community celebration.

Our would be bar-goer shakes the door again, as if somehow, this time it will be open.

"Wow," he seems to say with his shaking head. "They really DO want us to stay home for Halloween this year."

You bet -- and next year, let's find a place for those who want a big party to celebrate so that those of us who do live in, and vote in, the Castro can keep our "home" safe for Halloween and every 'ween inbetween.

more anon.

Lights Out!

A pirate just walked in and cozied up to a construction worker. Outside, cameras compete with witches and a good old fashioned drag queen or two for space. Just below my perch, the "Chronicle's" Wyatt Buchanan chats with Matthew Bajko of the "Bay Area Reporter" -- good journalists both, and both committed to not only getting the story right, but doing it in a way which honors both sides of the plan to keep Castro safe.

One minute to go 'til the rainbow "neon arrows" above the "Twin Peaks Bar" go dark...

Oh -- the entire "cast" of "The Wizard of Oz" just walked in -- FAbulous! Tonight, we're all "citizens for Halloween" and hoping for a peaceful end to the night and then....a FULL YEAR of lanning for next October 31st when -- hopefully -- the Castro Halloween of yesterday can return to its community celebration roots and the other 100,000 un-invited guests can find somewhere ELSE to call "home for Halloween."

The traffic is moving; one of the "F Market's" classic trolleys just pulled out on its appointed rounds. So far...all is well.

....6pm: it's official. Lights out!

more anon.

5 Minutes 'til 5 - Castro time

The sun is shining. People are walking the streets (costumed and non). The regular crowd at the "Twin Peaks" is enjoying a mid-week drink. In a couple of hours, this bar will join 30 other bars, restaurants and businesses in the Castroclosing their doors in solidarity. They'll be going "home for Halloween" and - hopefully - sending a message to others to "stay home for Halloween" as well. At 8pm, the BART station at 16th & Mission will close to discourage the crowds that usually use that egress point to head to the Castro. At 8:30m, the MUNI subway will close from Van Ness to West Portal. Above ground buses will continue to roll. And -- with all fingers crossed -- the traffic will continue to flow (on the streets and sidewalks both).

Walking the Castro this afternoon, everyone seemed resigned to the sad truth: Halloween in the Castro ain't what it used to be. (heavy sigh). Here's hoping the efforts of everyone involved tonight, whatever their political ilk, will work in common to keep our little piece of paradise safe.

More anon.

Bravo BART!

Halloween is here! Today's post starts with some news from our friends at BART. I pass it along as a public service:

Dear Passenger:

BART and MUNI are working together to provide free MUNI bus rides between the 16th St./Mission and 24th St./Mission stations following the 8 p.m. closure of the 16th St./Mission Station on Halloween, October 31, 2007. BART will also provide free paratransit rides for disabled and mobility impaired passengers between the two stations.

All you need to do is to show your BART ticket to a MUNI bus driver to take advantage of the free rides between 16th St./Mission and 24th St./Mission stations.

PLEASE NOTE: The rides will be free just on MUNI’s #14 Mission bus and #49 Mission/Van Ness bus after 8 p.m. until approximately midnight and only between the two BART stations. Learn more by visiting

Additionally, if you are disabled or mobility impaired, you can take a free paratransit shuttle that will be operating between the two stations after 8 p.m. until the last normally scheduled train would leave 16th St./Mission Station. You simply need to wait by the surface level elevators at each of the two stations where either signs or shuttle staff will direct you to the free paratransit shuttle.

BART is closing the 16th St./Mission Station at the request of San Francisco city and law enforcement officials involved with the "Home for Halloween" organization. Those officials are trying to limit Halloween activities in the Castro neighborhood this year after last year’s celebration spiraled out of control. There were nine shootings during the 2006 Castro Halloween celebration. This year, Home for Halloween city and law enforcement officials are hoping to protect the public by canceling activities that draw huge crowds and asking area merchants to close their businesses early. That’s why they’ve asked BART to shut down the 16th St./Mission Station - the closest BART station to the Castro neighborhood.

There are 150 other non-Castro related Halloween events in and around San Francisco. Visit for more information on those activities.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this closure may cause you. We kindly ask for your patience and understanding as we try to help to keep Halloween night in your neighborhood fun and most importantly, safe!

more anon!