Former San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada's visit to the city last week created the kind of media stir that the powerful Roman Catholic prelate may have preferred to skip.
And he did, mostly.
Avoiding a phalanx of TV cameras, Levada ducked into a side door of the Sansome Street office tower where he was deposed by attorneys for alleged clergy sex abuse victims who have sued the Archdiocese of Portland, where Levada was archbishop from 1986 to 1995. The media herd was in front of the building expecting to get a look at Levada — it was his first trip here since being named by Pope Benedict XVI to a top Vatican post last August. Despite a daylong TV news stakeout, the newly appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith eluded reporters upon leaving the premises (again using a side door) seven hours later.
But he couldn't dodge a determined process server.
“It was really a piece of cake,” says Anthony Piscitelli, who presented Levada with a subpoena to appear for yet another deposition in San Francisco in March — this one on behalf of an attorney for a Marin County woman who has sued the San Francisco Archdiocese alleging she was sexually abused by a priest during Levada's tenure as archbishop here.
(What Levada told the Portland plaintiffs' lawyers isn't known, since attorneys on both sides are prohibited from discussing the proceeding. As SF Weekly reported two weeks ago, Levada was expected to be grilled about a former priest, Father Joseph Baccellieri, whom he removed from active ministry in 1992 and then restored to ministry two years later despite having already approved secret payments to three of the priest's alleged sex abuse victims who had threatened to sue the archdiocese.)
Piscitelli says he placed the subpoena in Levada's possession after the archbishop attempted to turn and walk away. “I stuck it beneath a newspaper he had wedged under his arm and said, 'Sir, you are served,'” he says.
It was nothing like the drama associated with Levada's being handed a subpoena last August before a farewell Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, when two process servers cornered Levada in a wardrobe room. (That subpoena resulted in the trip to San Francisco from Rome last week.) After Levada resisted accepting service from one of them, a second process server, Cookie Gambucci, says she made the archbishop — whom she described as “visibly upset” — an offer he couldn't refuse.
“I told him that unless he took the subpoena, I would signal a colleague in the audience and that, if necessary, we would walk up to the altar during the service and hand it to him before God and everybody,” Gambucci says. “And you know what? We would have, too.” (Ron Russell)
After a quick lunch of lamp-warmed cheese and a small bucket of soda, we found the gang of smokers on the sidewalk outside the Moscone Center enshrouded in the hazy promise of the new year.
This year we are determined to do it: get organized, out of debt, back in touch with old chums. We are going to finally quit boozing, smoking, cheating on wife and taxes. We will summon the strength to quell our reprehensible taste for McMuffins and Peruvian snow. We'll spend more time on the elliptical machine, surrounded by family and friends, reading distinguished but lesser-known literary greats, remembering to dial up dear old Auntie Connie to tell her how much we love and miss her via a perfectly tailored, cost-effective, digitally compatible cellular service. We'll make an online harvest of low-carb, low-cholesterol, low-glycemic, zero-trans-fat dinners that are delicious and lousy with fiber, beta carotene, and gamma-linolenic acid. Then, after putting a nice playlist on the attractive but modest iPod hi-fi adapter console, we'll knock off a couple hours early. We are at the Macworld Expo. Anything's possible.
It was the scene inside that inspired such potential. Conventioneers in a caste system of colored badges — green, yellow, red, brown — scurried to-and-fro down aisles of booths hosted by companies with hopeful names like Imaginova, Communigate, and Musitek with products dedicated to the ultimate Macworld promise — our increasing complexities of digital life can fit into beautiful, stylish, brilliantly simple packages. Next to a display of iPod cases in pink faux alligator and rhinestones, a man played a guitar into a laptop, for an audience of one man in a Grateful Dead tee. It doesn't matter the lifestyle, Apple computers are everyone's lifestyle computers.
The real excitement wasn't in the showroom however. It came from Apple CEO Steve Jobs' Vegas-inspired keynote stage show, in which he unveiled the company's new weapons in the war against the tyranny of Luddism: a beefy iMac containing an Intel chip, a soon-available turbocharged laptop, and — our favorite — iLife '06, a bundle of software that, judging from the demonstration, will make our home pages artful, our home movies poignant, our lives more organized, our children more charming, and our recording contract more attainable. With Apple's iLife, dreams become low-hanging fruit, ripe and ready for the picking.
As we made our way to the bathroom afterward to relieve our arousal from the address, we were halted in the hallway by a firm hand on our chest: A former Division II footballer employed as one of Jobs' personal security guards was making a path for the turtlenecked tycoon through the crowd.
“Steve! Steve, can I shake your hand?” asked a female conventioneer — only a green badge — leaning too close. The bodyguard stepped in to block her.
“I better not,” Jobs said, his voice a bit thin without the acoustically perfect reinforcement. He offered a perfectly apologetic, well-glossed smile instead. “I've had a nasty cold.” (Nate Cavalieri)