Some of you may have wondered where flamboyant, wealthy, and wacky former Mayor Willie Brown has been doing since he left the Mayor’s office. Well aside from being a lawyer for folks, and making the big retainers and fees, he’s also decided to take on a new career, writing science fiction. For those of you who are afficiandos of the genre, you really should take a look, as his work rivals some of the major folks in the business.
Now, mind you, Mayor Brown is not writing manga comics, or cyberpunk, or space opera. Instead he’s writing stories in the realm of alternate history, and his new book, co-written by sci-fi fan and former Examiner writer P.J. Corkery, is really interesting. It’s an alternative history of San Francisco in the 1990s, one in which MUNI was made into a perfect system, primarily under his personal direction. It’s an amazing work, well written, and ranks up there with alternative histories by Philip K. Dick or Harry Turtledove.
In this alternate history, the years of budget shenanigans and the transfer of boom times wealth to his friends never happened. MUNI was well run and never cut training, maintenance or raised fares and cut service. The book serves as a “what might have been” type of read, and given the author’s knowledge of San Francisco, makes for a fun read since his use of locations is almost as good as Armistead Maupin’s in those Tales of the City books. (BTW, the N- Judah makes an appearance in Maupin’s latest book, but I digress.)
For anyone wondering how the boom years of the late 90s could have turned out had those in charge been a little more concerned with using taxes for the benefit of the taxpayers, not their well connected friends with money, read Mayor Brown’s book. Maybe they’ll get J.J. Abrams to do a movie, or get Ron Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame to do a miniseries on Sci-Fi channel! And they can film it here!
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San Francisco News & Politics
In fairness to Brown; A lot of what he says here is true, and his anecdotes about the kind of BS that needs to be cleaned out of the Muni organization to make it work is spot on.
But the fact remains, that the railway continued its overall decline under his tenure.
And key decisions, such as investing in 3rd St instead of Geary, were just wrong, and clearly show politics trumping real transportation needs.
Though this is pretty much the way the City works, nothing specific to Brown.
One small thing to his credit–I hear from operators that he does actually still *ride* the Muni from time to time.
did you read the book, or even the excerpt from the chronicle magazine on sunday? i thought his admission that he was way too naive to think he could accomplish anything in 100 days was spot on. more importantly, i thought his other big confession about opposing the matrix program to round up the homeless and force them into detox was even more enlightening.
bring on muniserable. herb caen was so right!
I’ve no doubt that Willie Brown believes every word written in his book is true and correct. I’d expect the same of any memoir written by/for an executive, because they tend to exist in a data-driven bubble populated by yes-men and supported by workers who have everything to lose if they don’t tell Da Boss that the sun is shining and the world is perfect. It’s hard for the electorate to be heard over a chorus so loud.
There was a photo on the front page of the Chronicle (in ’97 or ’98) of Brown sitting in a Metro car that was crawling down Market St at rush hour after his famous “I can fix Muni in 100 days” statement that was priceless. The look on his face was one of total frustration as the car he was on inched it’s way along. I think this was before the Embarcadero turnback had been built.