It was one of those moments when you realize that San Francisco is not what it is hyped up to be.
Late yesterday afternoon, as I came through the doors of San Francisco City Hall heading for a meeting with some folks, I noticed immediately that something was different. There were people in fancy dress standing all around the check-in point where you have to toss your metallic objects (like my “tax the rich” button) into a basket and then walk through a detector to make sure you’re weapons-free.
I joked to the security person behind the desk, “Looks like a party for the 1%.” He didn’t react. Guess he didn’t want to offend either myself or the elite in their furs and tuxes that cost more than my monthly take-home pay.
I headed for the grand mansion-like stairs that lead up to the second floor where my meeting was. I much prefer the stairs to one the building’s tiny elevator (I admit it, I’m claustrophobic). A make-shift gauze-like curtain had been put up so that I couldn’t even see the stairs. Parting the curtains, I felt like Dorothy after exiting her twister-displaced house.
There before me was a carpeted area with tables and decorations fit for, well, the 1%. I didn’t bother asking any of the fancy dressed waiters what was going on, I trudged on through the fancy set up to the stairs, determined to get to my meeting on time.
At the top of the steps, I glimpsed the horror. Cue dramatic music. There before my disbelieving eyes was a 22-foot tall replica of Michelangelo’s David. Not only was it made of what looked like fiberglass or something tacky like that, but David’s genitals were covered with a fig leaf.
I kid you not. One of the world’s most recognizable masterpieces was wearing a fig leaf. In San Francisco, of all places. I don't have a cellphone so I couldn't get a shot of it, but check out the pic accompanying the SF Chronicle piece the next day. Click on the photo and you can see that there's something amiss in David's crotch.
To make the scene even more Twilight Zone-ish, the statue was standing just a few feet from the bust of Harvey Milk, the famous gay rights activist who inhabited the hallow halls of City Hall in the late 70s as the city’s first out gay elected official.
I thought, “He’s turning over in his grave.”
I later found out that the dinner was for the San Francisco Ballet and the premiere of a work called “Bella Notte.” (“Beautiful night” in Italian.)
There was nothing beautiful about the statue or the fact that poor David was robbed of his family jewels so that some uptight contributor to the ballet wouldn’t be offended. Why would anyone who is a supporter of the arts be upset by a dick on a statue? Monks used to break dicks off of classical statues in the Middle Ages. Now, the prudes simply cover them over with fig leaves.
Obviously, these same patrons of the ballet aren't offended by those lovely bulges in the tights of male ballet dancers. Or their lovely round butts.
I guess I expect a lot better of San Francisco.