Down with the Benches!

Dear Castro Courier:

I read your article dated May 12th, about the controversy over the homeless at the benches above Harvey Milk Plaza. At first, I was quite offended by the negative feedback of some folks. Let me explain:

I have been a dedicated gay street activist here in the Castro (and San Francisco at large) since at least 1983. And lately, there has been a most excellent crowd, for the most part, hanging out at the benches these last few months. For that reason, I was fervent about keeping the benches up. Some of those bench dwellers have since become best friends to me. But this crowd has, for the most part, recently dispersed to Los Angeles, Seattle, and other locales. What remains is somewhat less than savory (to put things mildly).

Three evenings ago, I came across one person shooting up speed right there out in the open. His name is Manuel, and speaks with a German accent. I appealed to him, to please be discreet, and take his shooting up elsewhere, that the benches may remain for the sake of the good folks who also hang there, and do not pose any problem to residents of this district. In fact, they were a genuine asset, playing their excellent music, some of which was original and very LGBT themed. Something which would be a boon to gay tourism.

Sad to say, he ignored my plea, and even spouted psychobabble to defend his pathetic position. Then this evening, a pre-op transgender male named Rachel suddenly threatened me by accusing me of calling him a “bum” (which I did not: I was talking about some homeless, homophobic hobo out by the beach, to another person with whom I am friends.) Then, Rachel kicked some trash and spit in my direction. He/she then glared and snarled at me…so I departed in order to avoid any violent conflict.

I have always been good to Rachel (and Manuel), and certainly don’t deserve such crude disregard, let alone violent threats to my person. I have therefore come to the sound conclusion that these benches should indeed be removed. Otherwise, increased violence will ensue, and cause this area of the Castro to become a hot spot of danger.


Peace: a righteous man. (Quite the good looker, too!)

I should also add, June 30th there was a violent attack upon one decent soul named Peace, who is nothing but an excellent person who does much to protect and assist his homeless brothers (and sisters). The attacker was someone called James, who struts around like a buffoon, with a big mouth and intimidating posture. He is over six feet, dark tan (though looks caucasion), with brown hair and eyes…and always is seen with a very adorable pit bull that is tan and white. He kicked Peace hard in the knees, and stalked and threatened him with extreme violence, for over three hours.

BTW, I should add here that some of our gay brothers who are not homeless, wander late at night, over to the Holy Redeemer Church on Diamond Street, in order to procure sex with the homeless youth who sleep by that church. Peace is the only street denizen I know of, who protects these youth by chasing the predators away. Peace is such a good man, I have only kind words to say about him.

In good conscience, I can no longer support the maintenance of these benches for the sake of what worthy folks hang out there…many of whom have since moved on (bless you, Pow and Nathan, in your adventures at your new destiny of Southern California). I also wish the best for what other homeless friends I’ve made at the Plaza…who I know will manage quite well with or without the benches.

This warning and disappointment comes from a very liberal pro-gay activist, who’s lived in The City since 1973. By all means, I urgently encourage the removal of these benches, for the sake of keeping this neighborhood relatively safe. And for my own safety, I will no longer stroll or hang out in the Castro, due to the animosity directed against me by meth heads and other unsavory sorts.

If the police or the community care to hear my feedback in person, I will gladly show up at whatever meeting they arrange, to tell them the pros and cons of the homeless here in the Castro, as well as some of the low-down opportunists who happen to have a roof over their sorry heads.

Sincerely,

Zeke Krahlin

P.S.: Please read my initial naive appeal, before I put two-and-two together.


2nd from left: Rachel, pre-op transexual “tweaker” who threatened me. Third from left: Rom (w/guitar), a closet case who gets belligerent when drunk, and picks on the decent homeless such as Peace and Vicki. Fourth from left: Danny, who did not stand up for me when Rachel spewed threats. He is my only witness. Click on image for a larger view.

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4 Responses to Down with the Benches!

  1. ZekeBlog says:

    From: Sweet Sue
    Subject: Re: Down with the Benches!
    Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2012 05:47

    (( That’s a shame this is going on Zeke. I’m sure that many appreciate your advocacy. I know you are doing all that you can to support those in need. }}

    There is bad on both sides (the housed /and/ the homeless). I’ve done all the good works God has wanted me to. Now, it’s time for me to let it all go, and see what comes out of it.

    What is needed is a sort of street patrol…or “guardians” for Harvey Milk and Jane Warner Plazas (both small areas almost next to each other). The guardians should be a mix of responsible, strong, and compassionate housed and homeless.

    And this is what I pray /will/ come out of it. FYI: something rather disgusting is /also/ going on…mostly at JW Plaza:

    Guys are walking around bare-ass naked, declaring their supposed “right” to do so. I only go there when the weather is cold, ’cause then they don’t show up. Their behavior does /not/ help further gay rights…it only thwarts it. JW Plaza went up less than two years ago, to honor the death of a lesbian police officer. What a friggin’ shame!

    You’d think tourists with children would be appalled…and I guess most are, and rightfully so. But I see such tourists every day, with kids in tow, shaking hands and taking photos of these naked idiots.

    So now I must avoid my own neighborhood, in order to remain safe. I’m sure /some/ (of the nasty homeless) who read my letter to the Castro Courier, would like to skin me alive. I’ve been driven out of my own turf before, in previous cycles, for taking a stand.

    This is the evil that is San Francisco. There is a cult that has been sabotaging my good works for years. They are not beyond violence or murder…some in the police dep’t (not all) are part of it. Which cult I’ve written about in various blog entries, and my books “Friendly Ghost Dectective Agency” and “The Larkin Chronicles“.

    Anywayz, I’m sure I’ll be fine. Lick my wounds and hang out elsewhere. The good homeless will just have to get on without me.

    Your friend,

    Zeke

    PS: I only hope that in their own prejudice against the downtrodden, the editors at Castro Courier do /not/ eliminate my comment about some /housed/ gays taking sexual advantage of our homeless youth trying to get a decent night’s sleep.

  2. johnofphilly says:

    Well. When I lived on the block, the canary palms in the middle of Market charmed me. Their fresh new bark looked like pineapple. Now they’re sooty dark gray thanks to carbon monoxide. I see yuccas by the benches. I hope they grow well.

    As to the benches – why did the City put them there? An amenity for the frivolous gay tourists who are foolishly spending in excess of a hundred a night at Beck’s Motor Lodge or more. I’m sure the City Chamber of Commerce couldn’t care less about expendable local renters. It certainly wasn’t to reach out to the disenfranchised. And if some fool gets busted for shooting up on the bench, S.F.P.D. will encourage that the benches remain as bait for easy collars.

    Here in Philly, they took away the picnic tables from the touristy part of our beautiful riverside Fairmount Park, near Boathouse Row. Good. You know why? Because poor black families would use them, and this intimidated the gays from the local universities from biking, walking, skating and jogging up and down the asphalt paved path. There are several other areas, some of them near the riverside on the other side of the river, where Annie’s nannies ‘n grannies can cook they chicken ‘n ribs.

    A few sparsely placed benches are placed facing the riverside sunset. Now with 80 degree moonlit midnights it’s nice to have a white, collegiate, NON-family park area.

    http://animatedparadise.tripod.com/kellyupandown.html

    Subjectively, I empathize with eliminating the benches. Objectively, the City couldn’t care less if Eureka Valley with its Castro Merchant strip should turn 90% Hong Kong Chinese. You may see the day when the guys in the picture are told to go somewhere else, and little funny people are doing tai chi.

    • ZekeBlog says:

      {{ the canary palms in the middle of Market charmed me. }}

      Oh the palm trees. Totally alien to Northern Cal. Don’t get me started.

      {{ As to the benches – why did the City put them there? }}

      I actually think they are a welcome feature, so pedestrians can rest, friends can meet, and you can otherwise hang out; maybe even make a new friend…or at the least, get laid by a hottie. But the druggies and other arseholes hog it up and ruin it for everyone else.

      {{ It certainly wasn’t to reach out to the disenfranchised. }}

      That would be a first, if it were.

      {{ And if some fool gets busted for shooting up on the bench, S.F.P.D. will encourage that the benches remain as bait for easy collars. }}

      Good point. I’d be more than happy to facilitate such busts.

      {{ http://animatedparadise.tripod.com/kellyupandown.html }}

      Nice animation! I see you’ve switched to Tripod. Is your Zero-Catch site still up?

      {{ You may see the day when the guys in the picture are told to go somewhere else, and little funny people are doing tai chi. }}

      I could use the exercise. Thanks for your insight on this matter. You always have a most unique slant on things, John.

  3. ZekeBlog says:

    Subject: Re: Down with the Benches!
    From: Carl H.
    Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2012 16:47

    This makes me really sad. I’ve been watching this dynamic since we moved to that corner on the Ides of March, 2010, and it seems like as soon as a good crowd of peaceful, artistic queer homeless folks begin congregating, it’s not too long until the violent, aggressive people come. It’s almost as if someone is doing this on purpose. In Egypt, when folks started to try taking their homes and neighborhoods and public spaces back from the imperial oil police, the government released people from insane asylums onto the streets to engender confusion, distrust, and violence. I wish that we did not have to worry about things like this, there are enough hard problems without assholes trolling and making things more difficult for those who try to help. It makes me want to die.

    —————

    On 7/17/12, Carl H. wrote:
    {{ This makes me really sad. }}

    No kidding!

    {{ I’ve been watching this dynamic since we moved to that corner on the Ides of March, 2010, and it seems like as soon as a good crowd of peaceful, artistic queer homeless folks begin congregating, it’s not too long until the violent, aggressive people come. }}

    A.k.a. “heterosexual” and, sad to say, the worst of our own gay underbelly.

    {{ It’s almost as if someone is doing this on purpose. }}

    Right on the mark, Carl. It is a cult I call “The Disciples of the Zodiac Killer”. Which group I’ve described in detail, in my book, “Friendly Ghost Detective Agency“. It is also likely the “nudists” (ahem) are part of this self-destructive cabal that gets its rocks off by intentionally making gay folks look like perverts.

    But I take the stance of the Buddha, who said: “We have no enemies, only teachers”. Thus, the opportunity is provided for yours truly (or anyone else who cares to participate) to be the hero in rectifying a horrid situation.

    {{ I wish that we did not have to worry about things like this, there are enough hard problems without assholes trolling and making things more difficult for those who try to help. It makes me want to die. }}

    An uphill struggle, that’s for sure. Thanks /so/ much for your insight…most astute.

    -Zeke

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