Seize the Day
By next week San Francisco will have exhausted its democratic privilege and curled up to sun itself on the warm rock of post-election satisfaction. Our voting mission will be accomplished -- justice sustained, crisis averted, a municipality saved. At the parties, stomachs will be patted, pockets lined, and drinks refilled. And regardless of who slides into the mayor's swivel chair, much work lies ahead: taxes, potholes, parking meters, housing, the homeless, police corruption, neighborhood crime -- and perhaps the most innocuous task the mayor must perform every single day: proclaiming an official fill-in-the-blank day.
Last Tuesday the 24th, for instance, was "Fortune Magazine Day" here in the city, a saccharine-soaked reciprocal backslap to Fortune's inexplicable naming of San Francisco as the nation's "best city for business." At an obligatory press conference that one may safely file under "Place Lips to Buttocks and Suck Until Full," Mayor Frank Jordan grandly presented the official fill-in-the-blank-day award to representatives from Fortune, who flew in from New York to fulfill their role in the cheap drama. The mayor naturally took full credit for the award-winning economic climate, despite much of the area's big business being generated outside the city in areas like Silicon Valley.
But you don't have to be a bloated financial institution like Fortune to get your own day in the sun here. You don't need to whip up some dubious "best city for business" award that sends the population into a stupor of disbelief. According to the mayor's office, all you have to do is ask.
Specifically, drop a letter to our fearful leader, outlining your plan for an official San Francisco fill-in-the-blank day: "Ampallang Day," "Kick a Christian Fundamentalist in the Shin Day," "4-H Crack Pipe Judging Day," etc. Cook up a few reasons why your idea is obvious, list the contributions your idea has brought to San Francisco -- how many dollars ampallang penis piercings have injected into the city's economy, for instance -- and if a day is open, it could be yours. Tailor your request to the mayor, whose decision is final.
"If you're going to ask for one, you should write 30 days in advance," says a minion of the Mayor's Office.
And cross your fingers. With over 10,000 organizations in the city falling over each other for the treasured fill-in-the-blank-day proclamation, you might have to wait in line, and may not get the exact day you request. With 365 slots to fill, and such ceremonial parchment flying out of the office every 24 hours, does the mayor ever come up with his own ideas for days?
"Very seldom," says the underling. "I don't know of any."
Then the letter-writing system must actually work! The little person still has a voice in this cruel, heartless town, a chance to have his own day.
"It was bestowed by the mayor," says Fortune magazine's Kathy Schneidawind of their award, the unmistakable corporate pride in her voice creeping over the phone from an imposing New York office tower. "It's an honorary thing. Whenever we do that 'Cities for Business' press conference -- the number one city -- the mayor usually proclaims it 'Fortune Magazine Day.' " So much for the grass-roots letter campaign.
(Last year, for instance, it was New York City who got anointed Fortune's "best city for business." Mayor Giuliani had already tossed out the fill-in-the-blank day to some other deserving soul, so Fortune received the key to the city instead, in a ceremony equally as insincere.)
Mayor Jordan's all-important "Fortune Magazine Day" citation was then added to the magazine's prize booty -- awards, certificates, keys to cities -- collected from seven years of placing their sacred sword of finance upon the trembling shoulders of metropolitan representatives, eager to attract business dollars back to their towns. One can imagine an entire room in the Fortune building stuffed with such heartfelt civic awards, the hallway cluttered with dusty trinkets of appreciation from grateful, doe-eyed mayors.
"Yeah, we recycle them," laughs Schneidawind from her Fortune public relations office. "We send them out to the next number one city and say, 'Here, just go over it, take off the name.' "
"Why are you interested in this part of the story?" she asks. "What paper are you with?"
Fortune obviously has the clout to ensure themselves a special day, but is there any way to ensure that you, a plain old tax-paying citizen, could get your own official San Francisco day and bypass all the yahoos -- without making up some kiss-ass "best city for business" award?
"I can't answer that question," says the mayor's lackey.
"How about if I could slip you 20 bucks or something?" I offer.
"Oh, yeah, right!" laughs the minion. "Sir, you're gonna have to write to the mayor."
And depending on the election, you might want to write "Please Forward" on the envelope.
Address all correspondence to: Slap Shots, c/o SF Weekly, 425 Brannan, San Francisco, CA 94107; phone: (415) 536-8152; e-mail: Slapshawts@aol.com.
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