Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden of KPOO

Yesterday I was invited down to KPOO 85.9 FM radio to talk with Robert Bowden of the Fleetwood Report show. This was one bad dude. His Dad was king of heroin dealing in the Bay Area and he emulated his Dad and from the age of 12 spent the next 17 years of his life in and out of prison for pimping, drug dealing, you get the picture. This could have been a lot worse, but this is a guy who has turned his life around and now writes books about it and runs organizations to get ex cons back on their feet.

When I got there I sat in with him while he was doing a few voiceovers for his show which runs from 12pm-9pm Monday through Friday. I first saw him and he reached out and shook my hand and smiled at me and I kind of took the smile as one of those, I’m going to eat you alive type of things, but I realized after we sat down and talked that I totally got it wrong.

He’s actually a pretty good guy who’s written five books in addition to doing his radio show and is also reaching out to people though cable TV in many cities around the nation. He’s been at KPOO for about five years and has been out of jail since 1997. He runs a group call the to help ex cons to keep from going back to jail. He told me that when you get released from jail you’re given $200 which will last you about 72 hours and then you’re back to doing what you did which ends up putting you back in jail again.

This is a guy who’s had a hard life and the fact that he could turn himself around and help other people who’ve gone through what he’s gone through and turn them into better people is a good thing in my book. I recorded my interview so what you hear it very raw, like he is and he didn’t hold back at all. I was glad that he did that because I’ve watched a bunch of the scared straight shows and this little chat did more to make me to want to keep myself straight than any TV show.

My main fascination was asking what it’s like to be on the inside. Again, he didn’t hold back. The food is awful, the guards are predators on the prisoners and their main goal is to break you down and destroy you. I could understand that if they were breaking down the bad side of you that caused you to be there, but it seemed more like they were breaking you down to destroy your self respect. Fleetwood managed to use spirituality to keep himself together. I don’t normally like to go in that direction, but Fleetwood was really speaking from his heart and he’s someone that isn’t a criminal anymore.

If you listen to the recording, please remember that while Fleetwood is talking from the heart, he will say something’s that will shock you, but he’s a good guy and he taught me a lot while I talked to him.

Morrissey Elected As Egypt’s LGBT President

I have been sick for the last week with a cold, but I don’t turn into the typical whiney bitch that most guys do with a cold, I turn into more of a zombie. Add to this that I have to get up at 6:20am to get my daughter out the door to school only makes it worse. So I hear things wrong. There’s a lot going on in San Francisco that I want to write about, but I’ve been having a bit of trouble keeping my thoughts straight. So what have I learned this past week after being in a fog without the help of any drugs?

1. Morrissey was elected as Egypt’s President: Well, I never liked his hair style or music, but I suppose they could have done a lot worse. I never knew the Brit was an Islamic extremist. You wouldn’t know from looking at him.

2. San Francisco had a really Gay White Pride parade. I guess I’ll spend a little more time on this because that was an actual twitter post I saw this weekend. It seemed funny until I actually saw footage of the parade. Even the non-White people in the parade looked White. Wille Brown was the most ethnic of all in a raisin in a glass of milk kind of way driving by in an old yellow cadillac convertible. The most diversity I saw was in a shot from a group holding up #OCCUPYPRIDE signs which i couldn’t figure out. The whole occupy [insert large corporation here] has become kind of meaningless when bringing down the man means bring down the man on man relationships. Yet there were tons of gay people there cheering them on. I guess they wanted to be occupied if you know what I mean and I think you do.

The trannies and drag queens did such a good job because I actually thought they were women. I had to look up Carmen Carrera after watching her drive by to realize that she actually was a man. I was trying to figure out how a nice straight looking couple with a daughter driving by fit in with Gay Pride and had to use google to find out they weren’t a straight couple. Science has definitely taken a step forward for the cross dressers and transgendered community. Similarly the Dykes on Bikes that start the parade looked butcher than many Hell’s Angels I’ve seen.

Sarah Silverman was also on hand because she can’t do a stand up routine without making a butt joke, so that must have been her tie in with gay pride. I have many friends that are gay, but I’ve never attended one of the parades. I don’t do well in overly crowded places and I probably wouldn’t do well in places that were overly crowded with fabulous people. Besides that I wouldn’t want to be spreading my cold around. I do want to go one day and take my daughter and wife just to see how many of our friends we’ll see. The problem I’m seeing from the footage is that the rainbow flag got dropped in bleach somewhere down the line.

Gay pride has become rather homogenized like milk, which is white. I was attacked for my article on why people hate the Marina by someone who said it’s too white. Well, it’s not too white, but it’s very Americanized. Too white is what I was seeing at the Gay Pride Parade. When Mayor Lee walks with the Golden State Warriors and all you see are bunch of tall white guys walking with a short Asian mayor something’s not right. A basketball team and there isn’t a single brother to be seen? Oh wait there’s the police driving by and waving and hey, there’s a person of color waving…from the back of the police car.

The you had the tag alongs and I’m not speaking about the Filipino language [inside joke], but the groups that really didn’t have anything to do with Gay Pride, like  the ACLU and Immigrants rights. Sure I bet there are some who are gay, but the whole parade is about celebrating being gay. Not about unions [which the last time they had a parade I believe the police were envolved and it wasn’t pretty] or letting immigrants into San Francisco [which is a standard practice depending on where you walk in the city]. Sarah Silverman was quoted as saying she supports pride day because it’s about being bad for a day. Uhm, OK, now it’s just pride day and not about gay pride? Hell Muni did it better by having all the busses displaying EQUALITY FOR ALL over the weekend.

I’m totally in favor of legalized gay marriage because with disposable income San Francisco’s Wedding planners would make tons of money. I honestly don’t care what type of person you’re attracted to. It’s not what’s between your legs, but what’s in your head. My head still isn’t right after being sick for a week, but at least I survived my zombie apocalypse without eating anyones face off. So I apologize if this story sounds like I was rambling, because I am.

And to finish off, Morrissey is gayer than the Gay Pride parade.

Whitecaps: Barbabos

Yes, this isn’t about San Francisco, but remember it’s my wild weekend where I get to talk about anything and today I wanted to talk about Whitecaps in Barbados. I have a couple of close friends who have purchased a three bedroom house there that when they aren’t visiting they rent it out. They needed a website to best display the house so who do they come to…me of course.

I have never visited Barbados, but from the looks of the pictures, I definitely will one day and I will be staying at Whitecaps. I was given a tour via skype of the house [yes, the house has wi-fi] and it is pretty spectacular. I could hear the waves crashing on the beach because you’re literally about 50′ from the beach. Barbados is definitely geared for tourists which if you look at the photos in the gallery you can see that there are many shows that go on for free at the local plaza that’s within walking distance.

The food is very inexpensive there and fresh the fish and Barbados goats are all over the place so chances are good that it was alive a few hours before you purchase it. When you bring it back to the house you simply hand it over to Waple who is your personal chef that will cook all your meals. You also have a personal concierge who will help you arrange your site seeing trips around the island. In the evening you don’t have to work as there are two security guards that will make sure the house is secure. You also have your own maid service so you don’t even need to worry about making your bed every day.

Just to give you the full blown what you get for your money, allow me to cut and paste from their website:

  • Three bedrooms for a total of six guests
  • Three private bathrooms: two with tubs, one with a walk-in shower
  • Wet bar
  • Flat-screen TV with Bose sound system
  • WiFi internet access
  • Your own personal chef
  • Your own maid service
  • Located on Mullins Beach
  • Lovely shaded garden area for entertaining

Whitecaps is right on the beach halfway between Mullins Bay and Gibbs Bay — a mere stone’s throw from the highly regarded Mullins Restaurant and Cocktail Bar on Mullins Beach.

There is a 24-hour convenience store within a five minute walk to the north and a fabulous little gift shop, the Shell Gallery, a fifteen-minute walk to the south.

Further north lies Speightstown, a picturesque old town with a historical museum, an art gallery, a small supermarket, shops, a four-star restaurant (Mango by the Sea), banks with ATMs and a fish market, as well as farm stands offering the freshest tropical fruits and vegetables. It is about five minutes away by bus or taxi. To the south is Holetown, a larger community with high-end boutique shopping, a large supermarket, cafes and gift shops, banks with ATMs and a number of four-star restaurants. It’s ten minutes by bus or taxi.

While there are regular buses to and from Bridgetown, and taxis can be reserved for dinner dates, most guests will rent a car to have full run of the island, including the night life of St. Lawrence Gap and the many historic and scenic points elsewhere.

Note that for what us Americans consider a time to take a vacation is considered the off season and is $345/night. If you get another couple or two to make trip with you it becomes downright affordable. It’s pretty much always in the 80’s dropping to the upper 70’s at night so you won’t have to bring a heavy coat. I suggest lots of tank tops and shorts and maybe an eye patch if you want the total Pirates of the Caribbean vibe.

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Laurel Village

I had a chance today to walk around Laurel Village. It’s been awhile since I’ve been over there, so I wanted to see what’s changed. Well, not much, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

My wife calls it the Baby Mecca which I can see from all the strollers, er, strolling by. Now I had a lot of replies about the Marina being too white and I pointed out that it wasn’t too white, but too homogenized. You don’t here any accents there. Yoga pants and tight jeans are the style and there aren’t any fat or old people there. Well Laurel Village is a lot like that as well.

You will find older people that are a little over weight and the moms on stroller patrol tend to be older moms, but for the most part it’s very homogenized and the people there have lots of money, but also like the Marina all the non-white mom’s which strollers have white babies, oh wait, those are probably the nannies.

You’d have to just to shop here. There’s an A. G. Ferrari’s, Bryan’s Market [organic asparagus $8.99/lb and I won’t even go into the meat prices there], Cal-Mart, a little cheaper than Bryan’s, but still up there [$6.99/lb for non-organic asparagus]. As for places to eat there’s Rigolo, which is a little above my In-N-Out burger price range, but I’d like to try it some day even though the words artisan and  artisanal are all over the menu. I saw quite a few people sitting out in front around 9:30am eating salads I guess for breakfast [salad for breakfast? I’ll never understand the French especially when they give their restaurant an Italian name].

There’s Asqew Grill which I’ve talked about before that’s in my current once every three month splurge price range, but is pretty inexpensive compared to most restaurants. The food is good there’s hardly any wait during the day and the food comes quick.

For the cheap eats people you’ve got Starbucks and Peet’s for coffee and a snack and Noah’s Bagels for the cheap nosh [Now if I could only get them to bring back their grilled cheese sandwich]. You can also grab a sandwich to go at A. G. Ferrari, but you’ll be paying a little more than at Noah’s.

Oh and did I mention everyone’s like, really nice there. I went into the old Hallmark 5 & 10 store which I suppose now means $5 & $10 and not 5¢ & 10¢. Everyone who worked there was asking if they can help me find anything. It’s the one thing that hasn’t changed too much when I was a kid. It’s kind of a hardware, card, toy and kitchen store. If you get a chance you should definitely check out this neighborhood if you’ve got amount of money in your bank account.

Time To Change A Few Things

I’m not as active as I used to be because I spend most of my day at my computer either looking for a job or doing freelance work for others. This is caused a little problem. I’ve passed 200 lbs. I’m just shy of six feet so it’s kind of hard to tell when I’m standing, but when I sit down I definitely have a big belly now.

Most of this is probably due to a lack of exercise and the fact that my morning breakfast consisted of two pieces of toast drowned in butter. That has changed as of today. I’m back to cold cereal and fat free milk. I’ve also started walking more in an effort to help burn off some calories.

Obesity is something that’s on a lot of peoples minds [except in the Marina were everyone is thin and beautiful all the time]. I started to wonder one day why my Dad got skinny as he got older yet everyone else around him was getting fat. Then I did the math. The normal intake for an active person is between 2000-2500 calories a day depending on who you ask. Say you eat a bag of those 100 calories snack whatever past that and don’t burn it off and you do that every day. In a month you’ll have gained a pound, which leads to twelve pounds in a year and if you keep it up five years from now you will have  gain 60 pounds. Keep it up for ten years and you have an extra 120 pounds.

It’s that easy to get fat. My Dad was active well into his seventies, drank lots of beer and smoked like a chimney. Heart disease finally did him in at 83, but it happened pretty quick. My Mom on the other hand got less active after I was born and was probably over 350lbs when she died at 80. Also from heart disease, but because she was so overweight. The funeral home actually told me that I better put my hand underneath the bag they gave me that had the box that contained her ashes. It was so heavy that I had to weigh it when I got home. Her ashes weighed in at 10 lbs. My Dad and Grandmother were hardly a pound.

I don’t want to be like that. I like having mobility and the best way to keep that up with with a little bit of exercise. I don’t need to jog. I can just walk and mow my lawn and pull weeds like my Dad did. When I used to do that I was down to 178 lbs. So today I’m making a change because I want to see my daughter grow up and not be a faint memory to her.

On Behalf Of John The Waving Guy

Readers, I would like to thank you on behalf of John the Waving Guy. Many of you have made his life happier. Some of you are actually stopping and talking to him and Winston Churchill his dog. This is a great thing to me. You’ve shared my article almost 300 times so far. That makes it the most shared article I’ve written and I can’t think of a better man to have written about.

I even received a comment today that one of the people who waves to him stopped to talk to him and he proudly showed her the article that he had printed out. His sister even wrote to me and told me that before the stroke he was in a Softball league for seniors and was pretty good. I rarely feel like I’m able to do a lot of good, but I think this time I did do something good. I look for him all the time now when I drive past. I saw him working in his front yard yesterday, which for someone who has had a major stroke can be difficult. He just keeps on going and I’m glad some of you have helped make his life a little happier. Now maybe the Chronicle or Examiner will pick this up as a human interest story.

I think it would be a wise move.

Downtown is where you work, not shop.

I may be in a small group of people, but I’ve only gone downtown to work, not shop unless by shopping you mean for lunch or occasionally dinner. It’s a heavily compacted place, the parking is terrible so if I need something like say an HDTV, I’m going to Costco or Stonestown or Serramonte where the parking is free and it’s easier to get your purchase to your car.

There is lots of fun stuff to do on Market street, but it’s all on foot. Street parking is a disaster and there are few parking garages which are all expensive, so the current idea of putting a mid-market shopping area has me scratching my head. There is rum0r that J.C. Penny will be an anchor store. If I go there and purchase a bed, how exactly am I going to get it to my car? Will they have people who will move it to the parking garage for me?

I like the suburbaness of the Sunset and Richmond districts. It’s where most of us live and the thought of living downtown is out of the question for me. I have two friends that live downtown. One lives in the equivalent size of a jail cell and the other couple with a plush 2 bedroom condo in SOMA is just a little bigger than my garage. Getting stuff you purchase in and out of a place in this area is ridiculous and usually involves a traffic ticket for double parking.

Taking purchases home on the metro or bus is ridiculous unless it’s shoes or clothing because unless it fits in your lap it becomes a disaster. When my wife and I worked downtown we  would only leave work to eat and we usually brought our lunches to avoid the high prices at the local restaurants. We have a restaurant out here in the avenues that has another location downtown the difference? The food costs twice as much downtown because the rents are higher. We don’t even go to the Costco in San Francisco because the traffic is such a pain.

I like downtown, but I’d prefer to work there and grab lunch once in awhile than shop. I enjoy my trips to the Ferry Building when I can get down there, but most of the items there fit in a small grocery bag so I’ll hop on the Metro and get off at Embarcadero. We love taking a trip down to the main library, but only on Sundays when the parking is free if you can find it. These are the kind of shops we need downtown not a new Target at the Metreon which means you have to cross to street to get to the parking garage. I doubt the shopping carts would make it that far. Let’s take the Metreon as an example. It’s failed miserably except for the eating areas and the movie theaters, none of which you have to take home with you. Most of the original stores have left and now Target [albeit a smaller one called CityTarget] is moving in. I’ll have to assume they understand that they’ll only be selling small things that you can carry in your hand or a small shopping bag.

Nearby is the Westfield Mall, mostly clothing, services and food. Mostly stuff that will fit in a shopping bag. So I hope CityPlace keeps this in mind when it’s built. When I was talking to my wife she said she liked the stores downtown, but she only browsed and never bought anything unless it fit in her purse. So this is something I hope happens. Mid market does need a clean up, a big clean up, but there also has to be an incentive for people to go there.

Why I Dislike Republicans

A good friend of mine Tim McGranahan posted a link to Facebook that really got me livid. Author Robert Draper has written a book that talks of how Republican members of the House of Representatives met on the day of President Obama inauguration to plot how hold back any progress President Obama was trying to make to his Presidency look bad. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell has even been quoted as saying, The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

I had always though this. I had a very good job that paid me very well that I got through the JobNow! program created by President Obama to help unemployed parents get back to work. It was due to end September 30th, 2009 unless it was continued. The GOP set its foot down and refused to help it continue to keep people employed. I along with over 250,000 other Americans were put out of work and sent to the unemployment office [I actually dislike Libertarians more because they want to get rid of the EDD as well as Social Security].

It took me almost nine months before I could find another job. A country is supposed to take care of its people and so are its representatives. If they aren’t doing it then we aren’t a country. We are a group of puppets with people we’ve supposedly elected pulling our strings, remember while the word democracy is thrown around a lot we are not a democratic country, but a federal republic. This means that when you vote for President your representatives [electors] generally vote the way you do, but do not have to by law. There have been cases in the past where the vote of the people has not equaled the vote of the electoral college. Some of you might remember Bush v. Gore where Bush got the electoral votes, but Gore received the popular vote.

It makes me feel sometimes like We the people that starts the Constitution didn’t refer to you or I, but to the politicians. When many of the most vocal Republicans I see on T.V. are known for enormous wealth and little tax debt, I find it hard to believe that some of my friends are poor yet Republican. What the GOP that is running our nation is trying to do is more of a trickle up than down. They get richer and we get poorer. The middle class barely exists anymore and that’s a problem. My parents were Republican until Nixon’s watergate debacle, but the GOP was a lot different back then than it is today. Hell, even during Regan’s days it was different than it is today. It’s been said that Regan couldn’t earn a GOP nomination today. See the video below:

Sigmund Stern Grove

Since my daughter’s off from school now we have to find things to entertain her so we took her for a trip to Sigmund Stern Grove the other day. It’s really come a long way from when I was a kid and it’s a definitely good place to take a walk.

It was purchased by Rosalie Meyer Stern after the original owner George Greene who Trocadero Inn that’s still there, but closed it in 1916 with the oncoming of prohibition he was afraid that that bootleggers would make their way to his hidden hideaway. Rosalie donated the area she named after her late husband to the City of San Francisco in 1931. She was the President of the city’s Playground Commission which would now be SF Parks and Recreation.

When I was a kid it was the place to go on the weekends to drink beer. During the day on the weekends they might have a concert or two. Not the type they have today, but mostly local rock bands nothing as big as they get today. It was always a place for music and in 2005 got a major overhaul by Lawrence Halprin giving it a new stage better natural seating with a sort of bleachers being made out of grass and rock.

The east end where the Trocadero Inn is [I don’t know what it’s called today, but I’m sure it’s had a few renovations and is available for rental for events I still believe] is a heavily wooded area with picnic spots and grills. If you’re lucky and are having a big party you’ll want to get the double bricked in grills up in the northeast end. There’s a pond in the midst of the trees that used to have koi in it, but I didn’t see any this time. It was a great place to have a picnic when I was a kid and we always loved running around the trees.

In the middle is the concert area that’s pretty massive.The stage now has a hangar of lights and there’s lots of lights around the seating area as well for night time concerts. I didn’t get close enough, but there did look like there was a concession stand for those who forgot to bring some food during the concerts. Be careful when you walk around the place because since there’s grass there’s gopher holes. Not as many as in other places and I’ll have to find out what they do to keep it that way.

On the west end you’ll find dogs. Lots of dogs. It’s become an open dog run area and it’s huge so you’ll see lots of big dogs that need the exercise out there. At the far west end is Laguna Puerca [literally pig lake]. It’s one of the few natural lakes in San Francisco and you can tell by all the pond scum and duckweed floating around. I would not suggest you go for a swim there on a warm day. the water is pretty nasty. There’s also a building where they hold the Pine Lake summer camp. Oh, by the way they changed the name from Pig Lake to Pine Lake. Image is everything needless to say.

Up and around the north end there are lots of trails for hikers so there really is something for everyone here. There’s not a whole lot of parking here, but there is an east and west lot that the only connection is a service road that’s not available to the public. I prefer to enter through the west entrance off of Crestlake Avenue as it’s much wider than the road in from 19th Avenue. My daughter enjoyed the trip especially being around all the dogs. The owners will warn you if their dogs aren’t good around kids, but we didn’t find that to be the case. Enjoy the pictures.

That Waving Guy

If you’ve ever driven by 33rd and Vicente on the weekends [sometimes during the week] you’ll see a guy sitting in a wheelchair with a little white dog in his lap. He waves to every car that drives by hoping they’ll wave back. We always do and he always smiles at us. I happened to catch him yesterday and decided to stop and talk to him.

He’s an interesting guy. His name is John and his dog is named Winston Churchill. He told me he’s been sitting out and waving for the past five years when he and his wife Pat were in Mexico and he [like I] suffered a stroke. He can’t do much, so sitting and waving at people is pretty good entertainment for him. His seemed to be a lot worse than mine though as he pointed to his right side when he told me and used his left hand to shake mine. He had a bit of trouble speaking which I remember having as well, but as I said, mine was minor.

I didn’t get to ask him too many questions because he was telling me all about his and Pat’s trip to Mexico and how it was always warm and beautiful and he kept going on about the posole that it was the best in the world. Which I’m sure isn’t hard to deny considering posole in Scotland would probably be awful.

So I finally got to meet him and John is a nice guy. He doesn’t stay out there very long, but I did learn that I’m a good guy which he told me after Winston started trying to climb on me. John’s a happy guy all things considered and Winston knows people. I told him that I was going to write about him and I always hold my promises. Here’s to you John!