It's the Thought That Counts?
If it were a movie and Clint Eastwood directed it, the business would be called Unforgotten. But it's not a movie, it's the Lifetime Reminder Service, and it arrived here this summer in order to help the synapse-impaired remember that it's time to send Mom a birthday card or change the oil in the Beemer, among other things.
So who's signing up for the service, which for a one-time fee of $39 will dog you with up to 365 reminders per year for the rest of your life? "Everyone from students to senior citizens," says distributor Bruce Rosenblatt, who's posting advertisements all over town. "We send a postcard one week in advance of anything that people want to remember," he says. Most clients, Rosenblatt notes, have about 15 items on their list: "They remember their wife's birthday, but they might not remember Uncle Harry's.
"You can also have gift baskets sent to whoever, which is where our profits come in," Rosenblatt says. For varying costs, the Arizona-based company will send teen gift baskets, boss baskets, and brother baskets, for example. This elevates impersonality to a nuclear degree, he concedes. But why look a gift source in the mouth?
Over the past week of candidate interviews and public debates, mayoral wannabe Willie Brown has repeatedly regaled audiences with sad stories about Tenderloin parks with gleaming swings and beautiful slides and jungle gyms -- parks, says Brown, that have been padlocked for years, owing to an administration that doesn't bother to take care of its young people.
"I will be a mayor who will not have that new park that's down in the Tenderloin, at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon, padlocked," Brown declared at the James Lick Middle School candidates debate, referring to Sergeant John Macaulay Park at Larkin and O'Farrell streets.
One problem: Macaulay Park has no swings or slides or jungle gyms. It's nothing but wood benches, bushes, and pigeon droppings.
Another problem: A recent drive by Boeddeker Park at Ellis and Eddy streets, the second playground to which Brown refers, shows that a few children do indeed play there, at least at 4 p.m. on a weekday, though in truth the place is mostly populated by stragglers with bottles (and neighborhood activists have complained for years that it's unsafe and aflow with drug dealers). But just for the record, Willie -- it's open on Sunday.
Sometimes a Fogbound Notion
Misconceptions about the 3.5-square-mile patch of land's end known as the Presidio can be as dense as the fog that frequently settles over the former U.S. Army base. At mayoral campaign forums last week, Mayor Frank Jordan and Supervisor Angela Alioto questioned the wisdom of turning the management of the Presidio over to a public-funded trust, as proposed in a bill pushed by Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Both Jordan and Alioto characterized the Presidio as "pristine," using such words as "treasure" and "open space" in their arguments for city control. While the monetary value of Presidio real estate indeed qualifies it as a treasure (dollar estimates range to the billions), the Presidio is neither particularly open (only the golf course is unfettered by fences -- within its fenced boundaries) nor pristine (only 1 percent of the park's total acreage has not been altered by the planting of nonnative species or outright conversion). Furthermore, according to a spokesman for the California Environmental Protection Agency, the toxic legacy of the Army has yet to be fully revealed (lead-contaminated soil, for example). As the CEPA spokesman noted, the notion of the Presidio as a "natural gem" may require many years -- and many millions of dollars -- to achieve.