Gift of the Magus

It's nice to think the right presents could make this a merry holiday season. Nice, but not particularly wise.

"It's nothing but political posturing," said Tony Hall. "For me that's too politically correct and cute. We're saying, "Hey, rest of the world, we're more politically correct than the rest of the country: We're a saan-ctuu-aaar-eee.'"

Hall's position sounded reasonable. But had the good supervisor ever tried pot?

Hall: "If that were the issue, I'd state it."

SF Weekly: "But can't you just say whether you've ever tried pot?"

Hall: "That's my answer."

SFW: "But the question was whether you've ever smoked marijuana."

Hall: "My answer was, and I'm sure you respect that it was, that I don't want to use San Francisco as any sort of sanctuary."

SFW: "I know. But have you ever tried pot?"

Hall: "When the issue comes up whether supervisors smoked marijuana, I'll comment on it."

As much as I wanted SF Weekly readers to deck the halls with doobies, it seemed the 2001 Matt Smith Guide to Holiday Giving would have to Just Say No. There's no fun, after all, in giving Christmas gifts your loved ones won't admit using.

Knowing it is a fount of information, I turned to Craig's List, an online community, for better gift ideas and found what seemed like the thoughtfullest gift ever: the opportunity for that special someone to become a starlet.

"European Adult Film Production is looking for uninhibited, preferably amateur/beginner females of all ages," the advertisement said. "Casting compensation paid, production pays $1,500 per day for actual shoot. Please email for casting and production details."

I requested more information. Someone named Franz obliged.

"The photographer will take stills of you in various solo poses and stage some of the scenarios of the actual film series," Franz said in an e-mail. "You will have to show your ability to perform sexual actions in front of the camera. You will be compensated for the casting with a flat fee of $100 to cover your expenses."

It seemed clear that Franz was also anticipating the Merriest Yuletide Ever. I phoned him wondering if he really, truly expected laid-off dot-com workers to have sex at his place while he took pictures of them, then leave him the negatives -- all for $100.

Franz: "That depends on the ladies themselves. Whatever they want to do. I'm not telling them to do anything."

SF Weekly: "So that means they have to have sex?"

Franz: "That would help, yeah."

SFW: "With whom?"

Franz: "The company is supposed to send an actor to be in the auditions. He's supposed to act in the movie. He hasn't arrived yet."

SFW: "But you've set up "auditions' for this week. Who's going to be having the sex?"

Franz: "Well, yes. I'm going to have one tomorrow. I'll be taking photographs."

SFW: "So will you be having sex?"

Franz: "If this guy's not going to arrive on time, and they still want pictures of ladies, yes, I will do that."

If nothing else, a loved one could become the subject of a delightful holiday jingle titled "I Saw Mommy Having Sex With a Strange German Man for $100, Then Leaving Him With Photos Potentially Worth Thousands of Dollars to Internet Sex Sites."(2)

I asked my friends about their own Christmas shopping plans. Like everybody else's friends in San Francisco, they're broke.

"How about pieces of sod stolen from Yerba Buena Gardens?" one offered helpfully.

There are lots of abandoned building sites around; what about rain-soaked lumber? another kindly suggested. Some convenience stores will sell discounted senior/disabled Muni passes without checking ID, another warmly proffered.

I started worrying whether it was going to be such a great Christmas after all.

The economy is falling apart, and our president says we should cheer up by shopping. He, meanwhile, deficit-spends our country toward oblivion. America lives a nerve-wracking moment of insecurity, and our Justice Department responds by terrorizing the countryside with arbitrary mass arrests. San Francisco suffers mass unemployment, and our politicians fiddle with dope sanctuary symbolism.

That Franz may find takers for his sleazy enterprise is perhaps the most telling indicator of our yuletide malaise. Following the economic collapse of the former Eastern bloc, the porn industry there exploded thanks to a surfeit of desperate women. Cuba's post-Soviet collapse flooded Havana's streets with prostitutes. And in 2001 San Francisco, Franz may get laid.

It's enough to make one skip jauntily across the Golden Gate Bridge.3

1 The Direct Marketing Association has sent 450 of these boxes to reporters, something it's been doing since 1987. At the current weight per package, that's 52 tons of catalogs, or the weight of an M-48A3 Main Battle Tank. http://

(2) Karaoke-fan readers can find a MIDI version of this song's music at

(3) For readers truly concerned that this will be the most horrifying Christmas since Richard Nixon and Vietnam, some earnest gift ideas:

You could send a donation in a loved one's name to the 2002 congressional campaign of Martha Fuller Clark, a graduate of Oakland's Mills College who currently serves as the assistant Democratic leader in the New Hampshire Legislature. She is one of a handful of candidates who could determine whether the House of Representatives remains in Republican hands.

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