The results are in: SF Weekly readers have cast their votes and narrowed the field in the contest to become San Francisco's Most Maddening person or entity. There were four head-to-head match-ups we asked readers to weigh in on.
Here's how the voting went: "Writer" Danielle Steel (64.2 percent) defeated actor Sean Penn (35.8 percent); ex-Giants slugger Barry Bonds (62.3 percent) proved more maddening than Bay Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann (37.7 percent); philanthropist Dede Wilsey (56.6 percent) edged out Dirty Hippie (43.4 percent); and, finally, San Franciscans found their hometown transit system, Muni (62.3 percent), more irritating than their out-of-town Supervisor Ed Jew (37.7 percent).
Now we're down to the final four contestants. Go to www.sfweekly.com to cast your vote. In the meantime, here's some background to help you decide.
Barry Bonds vs. Danielle Steel
Does anybody except Greg Anderson like Barry Bonds? He was a locker-room cancer, hated by his teammates, who have sounded positively gleeful about playing in SF — even though the team appears headed for last place — without Bonds around.
As for Steel, we know she has suffered (marrying a rapist, a junkie, and John Traina, according to Wikipedia). But her writings — or the fact that they are inexplicably on the New York Times best-seller lists — have made many of us suffer. In fact, a recent story in The Independent made it sound as if the U.S. military was using Steel novels to punish bored terrorist suspects at Guantánamo Bay. One former inmate complained to the British paper that his captors offered little to read outside of "mind-numbing" Steel novels.
Bonds in his own words: "I don't know what cheating is. I don't know if steroids are going to help you in baseball. I just don't believe it." — Feb. 2005 press conference
Danielle Steel in her own words: "Where do you go when you go out for milk and come back seven hours later?/Whose cigarettes are you buying when you go out for mine and come back with the wrong brand?" — from her book of poems, Love
Dede Wilsey vs. Muni
For those unfamiliar with Wilsey, she's the generous millionaire philanthropist who helped resurrect the de Young Museum. But she's best known as the evil stepmother of Sean Wilsey, who skewered her in his memoir, Oh the Glory of It All. "If you want a sense of her values, rent the movies Gaslight and Sweet Smell of Success," he wrote. "The scheming lead in Gaslight, who sweet-talks a wealthy heiress into marrying him and then drives her mad with drink and doubletalk, is her."
Then there's the city's chronically underperforming public transit system. Just when you thought there was nothing new to say about Muni, KGO's I-Team recently unveiled a series of surveillance videos (which the station sued the city to get) showing drivers cussing at passengers, using a loudspeaker to threaten someone on the street, and making personal calls on their cellphones while behind the wheel. One driver told a woman in a wheelchair, "I don't know what the heck they let you guys on here for anyhow." Nice.
Dede Wilsey in her own words: "I don't approve of writing books that hurt people, because from my experience they are total fabrications. If you feel that strongly about it to put it on paper, write yourself a letter.''— quoted in the Chronicle, 4/15/07
Muni execs in their own words: "We're very committed to customer service" — chief operating officer Ken McDonald in an interview with KGO, said without irony.