Saturday, March 14, 2009

Even though you are who you are

Last night we went for dinner, gelato and a walk in North Beach. We had a good time -- a sublimely garlic-centered meal, some shopping in the poetry section at City Lights (where I found, among other things, a new biography of Taha Mohammed Ali, a complete surprise). Chocolate-orange gelato. Then we were just walking, taking pictures of engaging signs, and turned up a side street onto a block of Chinese shops and restaurants. The storefronts were battered and beautiful, so we kept going for a while, and then turned back downhill to return to Columbus Ave. In front of a Chinese restaurant, a family group had gathered while a frail elderly couple were being slowly helped into a waiting car. Just then a car came screeching down the street way too fast, slammed on its brakes, and sounded its horn for a very long time as it came to a stop behind the idling car. More honking. Everyone was looking at the woman who was agressively leaning on her horn as if they were wondering how anyone could behave like that. And that's when I did something I probably need to stop doing: criticizing the uncitizenly actions of strangers.

I yelled something like "Behave yourself!" The people standing in front of the restaurant said, "You tell her!" The woman behind the wheel glared at me, flipped me off, glared some more, then called me a "fucking faggot." We kept walking, and in a while the idling car moved, and the woman still behind her wheel drove past, calling more names; I thought she had to be high to be that cranked up. As we moved on down the hill she was still carrying on. She pulled around the corner to the left on Columbus, and just as we were turning the corner ourselves she re-appeared -- unbelievably, on foot this time. She'd parked her her car and come back to have it out with us. She was tall, very forceful, and walked right up to me, maybe a foot away from me. Paul told her that she'd just committed a hate crime, and she proceeded to a little more verbal abuse, at which point I gave her some back.

Now comes the incredible part of the story. The woman runs across Columbus; she's double-parked in front of a restaurant called the Caffe Macaroni, but instead of getting into the car she runs into the restaurant. We are walking away when we hear her yell "There they are!" We turn and she's come out of the restaurant with about four big guys, who start to come in our direction.

My impulse is to get off the street, so we dash into a cafe on the corner, a tiny little place. There are no customers; two waiters are sitting around smoking, since they've got nothing to do. We tell them we're being followed by some people who called us faggots. They're shocked and tell us we can hide in there, and usher us into a little area behind the dining room. They run to the door to look out, but suddenly they're exclaiming -- hurrying to hide the cigarettes, because it's their boss who's coming. We seem to have chosen to hide in a restaurant owned by the same guy who thinks this insane woman's honor needs protecting.

And suddenly, as if a trapdoor has opened in the evening and we've landed in a scene from The Sopranos, two guys enter the restaurant, two more are posted just outside the door, and I've got an angry middle-aged guy in a black shirt with flowers on it standing in front of me and he's not happy. I cannot narrate our conversation here, as it's all a jumble in my head. He's threatening (not necessarily in his words but his stance and tone), he's telling me to get out, but I'm not about to walk out onto that sidewalk with these weird entourage bodyguard types standing there, I'm saying I'm going to call the police. Then the strangest thing: he takes my arms and he says, "Even though you are who you are, you gotta think twice before you talk to somebody."

I have no idea what this means. Does "who you are" mean gay man, middle-class man, entitled person? No idea. The guy's telling me to get out of his restaurant, and somehow I make it clear that I will not leave with those men at the door, and they move over, and out we go, with a barrage of insults behind us -- "The Castro's on the east side of town, get out of the neighborhood, twinkletoes, get lost faggot" and so on. We're hurrying away with our hearts racing and half sure that those guys are going to be right behind us, a feeling that goes on for blocks.

Later, my legs feel liquid, my heart isn't ready to slow down. Thinking about how strange it is for a woman alone to come after two six-foot guys. Thinking how she wanted this to happen, somehow -- singling us out for her rage instead of the people in the car ahead of her, coming back to provoke us, then running into the restaurant to fetch the men. So that she could feel her power over them, or us? So that she could vent her rage at men who for whom her sexual mojo doesn't work? Something about the nature and complexity of violence -- which this very nearly turned out to be -- makes it feel impossible for me to really understand the scene. Not much context for all this but what I can create.

Resolutions: when I see people behaving badly, I will keep my mouth shut unless it is a matter of life or death. And I will never go back to North Beach, never.


Robb C. Sewell said...

Mark, I am so appalled after reading what you and Paul had to endure. That is just completely revolting. I'm glad you and Paul have blogged about it so that people can know that homophobia and intolerance are still part of our everyday lives. And I am glad that you guys are both safe after that experience.

C. Dale said...

I am always shocking people by telling them about homophobia in SF. But it exists and, at times, is worse than elsewhere. North Beach and the Marina District are notoriously homophobic, the last bastions of heterocentric SF. I am so sorry to hear this happened to you both.

Mark Doty said...

Thanks guys, and I know what you mean, C. Dale. I saw more homophobic behavior and general nastiness around sexuality during my years in Provincetown than I'd ever seen anywhere. I think in places where sexual difference is pushed into the foreground, people get nervous -- and so of course SF would be a kind of crux for anxiety. Sigh.

Peter Kent said...

This seemed so surreal as I read your account of the experience, Mark. Chilling, appalling . . . something that I kept thinking just should never have happened. I am so glad that you both escaped physical harm, but I am so sad to think that a beautiful evening could be transformed by such hatred and vitriol. I wish you and Paul peace and recovery.

Anonymous said...

So awful, especially the nightmare part where you try to take refuge and it becomes like a trap. So sorry you and Paul had to go through this.

Bev Jackson said...

A horror, Mark. I'm glad you saved every detail. This belongs in one of your books--but I'm so disgusted that people are still walking around in hate. I wonder if "even though you are who you are" (like a world renowned poet?) was the problem for their tiny brains. It does bring that illusion we have of progress into perspective, doesn't it? The woman sounds deranged at best. But the men? Really strange stuff.

RJ Clarken said...

I'm glad you posted this, but I'm terribly saddened by it, too. My son and daughter will turn nine later this week. I can only hope that the world becomes a kinder and more peaceful one as they grow up into it. And that you and Paul - and the rest of us never have to witness this sort of ugliness ever again.

realpoetikblog said...

Aghast, but not surprised. I lived not far from there, 'tender nob' in '95. Not so great.

Sorry to hear about this, and that your natural impulse to do right has been curtailed. I also get myself into trouble at times, speaking up. Am fortunate to have come up in 1970s Harlem, though, so people rarely challenge. (white girl, just for clarity)

I suggest a formal complaint. People need to know that this is not a business to patronize. Sorry for the staff, but this is just not done.

Am very glad that you and Paul got away safe. SF- you'd think it's all ok. But it's not. Hope you manage to regroup, get past, and enjoy the rest of your trip.

Rus Bowden said...

Hi Mark,

This is a horrible situation. I am sure you have considered and reconsidered the different aspects of the psychology involved, especially your own feelings. In this sense, all I can think to say is how terrible that you had to go through this, and you told it in such a way as we can all go through it with you, as much as empathetically possible.

But as I thought overnight, there is an aspect that hearkens back to street honor, from when I was a teen. I was called out to fight by one of a gang of about seven guys. When I said I would fight the big mouth, they all came around the fence and jumped me. They had a hard time and could not get me down.

Then suddenly, I was able to pull my head up, and I am face to face with a terrific fighter, a boxer from the West End Gym, not one of the original seven. I looked at him, saying, "You want to fight me?" But I was confused, because I never disliked the guy, we simply shared the neighborhood and mutual friends, even though we never hung out together. I knew my confusion wasn't going to help me in a fight with him, but right then he didn't move at me. He said no, that he didn't like the odds. I thanked him, and turned around, and my good friend, a karate kid, was right there. He had seen what happened from his bedroom window, and he and the boxer cleaned house, making the seven cowards run like fools.

The aspect that I wanted to communicate is what on the streets is called odds, as you may know, with the assumption that the odds are against someone. This is dishonorable, even for the vast majority of teens on the street, at least back in the day, and I have enough faith in kids that regardless what we hear about drive-bys and whatnot, that this remains true. Used in a sentence, "We don't like odds." And it is definitely dishonorable for grown-ups.

You didn't get to have a Steven Seagal come by and help you. But I always like action scenes in movies, where street justice gets to prevail somehow. If you like these too, maybe some catharsis can come, here is Steven Seagal, walking back into that pub, say, in the famous "Anyone seen Richie?" scene in Out for Justice":

Steven Seagal in Out For Justice, Bar Scene!


Nancy Devine said...

i don't have the right words to respond to this. all i can say is that i do so appreciate that you've written about this and i'm very happy you and paul are safe.

Kimberlee said...

I am horrified that you had to go through such a terrifying experience.

I think you raised an interesting point about the woman taking it out on people that didn't even cause her original crazy anger... but it scares me that this is going to start happening more and more. It seems as if the country has gotten a little out of whack as far as civility, and with the level of anxiety over finances, employment, and other hot button issues, people are far angrier and seem to have much shorter fuses lately.

I'm so glad you both are (for the most part) okay. Thank you for sharing such a difficult story.

emma said...

Intolerance 2009
our america, awful, I cried.
Dear Sirs:

Safe and unharmed,
we wrap you in cotton in our hearts.

James Allen Hall said...

Two wishes:

1. That you and Paul can enjoy the rest of your time without incident in N. California.

2. That one of our people gives that vile woman such an unflattering haircut, it'll take at least a year to grow out.

Allison Landa said...

Mark, I can't tell you how sorry I am to read of your and Paul's experience in the Bay Area, where I live, where I sometimes naively believe these things don't happen. Your story shocked and saddened me, and as others have said, I'm glad you two are safe.

Collin Kelley said...

Christ! Did you call the police on these ignorant bastards? I would have. Actually, I would probably had my ass beaten because I would have gotten all up in their faces. This is a sickening story to hear, but I'm glad you and Paul are all right.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I live in Berkeley. Years ago I got mugged -- twice in one month! I took to carrying around a can of pepper spray (given me by my sister who works in law enforcement in Seattle). On one trip I forgot I was carrying it so had to surrender it to airport security. I haven't replaced it. But I do remember getting hassled once on the street in downtown Berkeley while I had the pepper spray; I took it out of my pocket and just held it in my hand. The guy hassling me made a couple more noises but eyed the pepper spray and backed off.

There are scary people in the world. I kept expecting in your story to read that you had called the police. You don't have a cell phone to call 911? (I don't.) The cafe in which you took refuge didn't have a phone? No chance to use it before the bad owner got there?

It sounds like you were confused & frightened & things happened real fast. What happened when I got mugged? As soon as I could I ran as fast as I could, and, fortunately, nobody followed me. As soon as I had access to a phone, I called the police. Even if all you're doing is telling them your story it's a story that helps them do their job.

Nevermind. I'm riled up and pissed at the bad people of San Francisco! (Good people of San Francisco, remember, looooove you!)

Robert said...

Jesus, that's unbelievable, yet I know what's so awful about it is that it is all too believable. As a Bay Area native (and someone who worked ages ago at a restaurant and coffeehouse in North Beach), it's infuriating and sad that there's still so far to go.

Dustin Brookshire said...

Mark-- I'm sorry that this happened to you and Paul. Sending good vibes and hugs your way. I have no doubt you will take this painful event and turn it into a beautiful, gripping poem.

shoppista said...

Jesus, Mark, I'm so sorry that happened to you. It must have been terrifying. I'm glad you and Paul are all right.

C. H. said...

This kind of stuff makes me ill. I'm just happy you guys are okay! I will say this, I doubt the woman (or the men)in question have as much love surrounding their lives as you two do. That's gotta count for something in this f'ed world, I suppose.

Jondabomb said...

My boyfriend lives in North Beach and consequently we spend a lot of time there. We hold hands, kiss and do all the same shit that two smitten heteros do.
I hope you reconsider not ever coming back. Its important that we infiltrate every friggen corner and make our presence known.
Also, what is the name of the restaurant so we wont go there?

Jeff said...

Err... Wait a minute... Nothing happened, right?

I mean, you told someone off, she was nasty back to you, then she went around the corner, parked, and walked to her friend's restaurant, right?

She pointed you out to her friends, but from what you wrote there's no reason to believe they were pursuing you, is there?

Sorry you got called nasty things, and you have the right to travel anywhere you wish, but as the Australians say, "harden the fuck up."

Mark Doty said...

Hey Jeff, maybe I wasn't clear in my description; it wasn't easy to write that narration. I was backed into a corner by two large guys, one of whom was grabbing me, standing maybe eight inches from me, assaulting me verbally and generally signaling that he was about to beat me up. All he has to do was to throw a punch to my stomach or to my jaw. Behind those guys there were two more. I'm not a fighter, and I don't want to be one,
and even if I were I was standing face to face with four guys who clearly had a lot of practice. So, you know, "harden up"? I don't think so.

boscoboscobosco said...

Let's all go to North Beach and parade around. Let's hang some rainbow flags outside their restaurant. Let's not be intimidated.

robwilliams said...

"harden the fuck up" ??
They felt threatened, their safety was compromised--I don't know about you but a group of men 'guarding' a door doesn't sound like a party, they had legitimate fear for their safety, they were bullied, they WERE threatened.

Jeff, how 'bout you grow the fuck up and show some compassion and solidarity.

Mark and Paul, I'm relieved that you're safe-- can't let anything happen to you two! Take care.

Unknown said...

I'm very sorry this happened as well. Wish I could say I'm surprised, but I'm not at all. San Francisco is still the single place in the world where, when I was walking out the door of a high-rise somewhere in the Financial District one day 7 or 8 years ago, I crossed paths with somebody who was apparently having a bad day and decided to snarl the word "faggot" at me. That has never happened to me anywhere else, and there are many places I've been and expected that and far worse to happen.

I can picture myself and my partner walking through North Beach having an evening very similar to the one you and your partner were having, including the visit to City Lights and the post-meal walk along Columbus, and I can, unfortunately, also picture a similar episode occurring, and consider that it was only chance and circumstance that it never did occur. The ugly public behavior, the spontaneous organized brutality and threat of violence, and the tense, overheated atmosphere are all endemic to San Francisco these days in general, not just North Beach (and yes, that includes the Castro), for a multitude of reasons that there are not enough words to describe. It is one of the reasons I moved away from the Bay Area three months ago, never to return -- the general climate there is toxic, and getting worse every day.

I'm not naive enough to believe that it can't happen anywhere else, but I think you're right, Mr. Doty, that there's something about the environment of places like SF, where so much is in the foreground, constantly -- not just sexuality -- that makes the air almost vibrate with imminent violence, despite the great inherent beauty and charm of the place.

Willo said...

Can you tell us the name of the restaurant. I want to be sure to avoid it and recommend the same to my friends and visitors.

And I think North Beach is due for another Guerrilla Queer bar.

Kate Black said...

Hi Mark!

I'm so sorry those bullies took after you and your partner. I'm glad you escaped physically unscathed.

I do hope that you'll reconsider two things:
- Never going back to that neighborhood.
- Never interceding in another street incident.

You have as much right to be in North Beach as anyone else. By all means, go in groups of friends if you feel you have to do that for safety reasons, but those thugs don't deserve exclusivity over that neighborhood or any other.

Sometimes life calls for us to get involved. (Kitty Genovese and all.) It's scary sometimes. I've definitely had some uncomfortable results from getting involved, but sometimes it's just your duty as a human being. If you see wrong, you try to fix it. The results can be far worse when we turn our backs on things.

Unknown said...

I agree with the person who said to reconsider being involved and reconsider visiting the neighborhood. IMHO that woman was probably an out-of-towner anyway. But you can't let people like that win.

dv said...

Mark, it's not likely that you ran from Caffe Macaroni to Michelangelo Cafe since they are several blocks from each other. Please be clear about the restaurant that treated you poorly so that we can be sure not to boycott the wrong restaurant.

Thank you,

David VIdaurre

blu said...

oh my god! have you done anything? called the police? filed a suit against them? i am so sorry you went through that!

Mark Doty said...

Just to be clear: Cafe Michelangelo has no involvement in this story at all. That picture was posted simply because we were walking in the neighborhood earlier, as I wrote in the post, and enjoying photographing the wonderful signs. I have removed the photo from the post so there will be no confusion. The guys who threatened us emerged from Caffe Macaroni, near the corner of Columbus and Jackson, and crossed Jackson diagonally to a small corner cafe also owned by the same owner.

Unknown said...

Mark, I am so sorry to hear that being a human being got you such a hassle. Makes me want to apologize for all us straight people when some boob acts like that.

Don't stop being who you are, don't stop acting like a New Yorker ("Hey, YOU shut the f*ck up with that horn") and don't get discouraged to walk wherever you want. Just carry mace and a tazer.

Good luck to you and don't let the bastards get you down.

Unknown said...

Cafe Macaroni.....


dv said...

Thanks for clearing that up Mark. I've been to Caffe Macaroni before, and the food isn't that great either!

Joe Ruvel said...

wow - what a story - that is nuts - i live in north beach - away from there but still and have never heard of anything like that. Unfortunately this can happen anywhere. Keep safe!

Joe Ruvel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Secret of Zir'An said...

This little crew of homophobes needs a lesson in crowd-sourced shaming.

Looks like folks are already voicing their opinions on YELP. Could use about 100 more 1-star opinions I think.

BlackguardSF said...

What did you expect? You picked a fight. You're lucky you were able to run away.

kitchen bitch said...

Just blown away by the situation. With very little effort you could do some damage to the amount of business that restaurant gets in the future. A little web site called YELP has a big following!

Unknown said...

Wait, I thought they came out of Cafe Macaroni and you went into another restaurant, which the gentleman owned. Am I right or is Cafe Macaroni the restaurant where this all happened?

goodpotatoes said...

I think there are a lot of people who would be interested in voicing their outrage over what happened to you. Did this happen at Caffe Macaroni? I'd like to be certain, to boycott the right place.

Sal said...

Caffe Macaroni and Caffe Macaroni Sciue Sciue are owned by the same guy. Caffe Macaroni is on Columbus, south of Jackson. Caffe Macaroni Sciue Sciue is across Columbus and north of Jackson.


Unknown said...

Well, I've already commented -- and am appalled. But I couldn't resist commenting again because the Word Verification is -- no kidding -- "horifyin"!

Nicola said...

I'm shocked by what you describe. I hope you never experience anything like that again.

Robin said...

So frightening, as are some of the comments here that dismiss this blatant hate crime. Like others, I'm dismayed to see such ignorance, and also saddened that someone (or a crowd of someones) didn't come to your defense. With sfist ( and yelpers on the case, let's hope there are consequences to their actions. As orchestrated as they were, I'm sure it wasn't the first time they'd done this, but hopefully it will be the last. What they put you through was inexcusable.

Steven Fama said...

What a friggin' ugly thing.

Am I correct you're not a City (Bay Area) resident?

Sadly, North Beach after dark in particular and doubly particularly on weekends, has had over the last many months LOTS of ugly incidents, somewhat widely reported.

I get to City Lights in the daylight, or sometimes still at night if there's somebody reading there I really, really, really want to hear, of if I drive by and get a parking space right there on Columbus (that's almost a minor miracle). Though I have been threatened by punks right in front of the store too....

Anonymous said...

I am wondering how the woman assembled 4 bodyguard-type men to help her. I'm tempted to believe, either she's connected to criminal activity on the street or connected to one of the strip clubs nearby. Hope you do make a report and there will be some repercussions from this scary incident.

Jay Smash said...

I was linked here by a Yelp post.

"Thinking how she wanted this to happen, somehow -- singling us out for her rage instead of the people in the car ahead of her, coming back to provoke us, then running into the restaurant to fetch the men. So that she could feel her power over them, or us? So that she could vent her rage at men who for whom her sexual mojo doesn't work? "

You are waaaaaay overanalyzing this issue. What this woman did was wrong, but you _clearly_ provoked it.

How can I say that you "provoked" an antisocial bigot into having you chased by four large men, when all you did was say "Behave yourself"? Well, you have to understand that you can't just speak to anyone on the street in any way you choose.

Like I tell my Dad when he tries to police strangers' driving behavior on the road: YOU DONT KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE. The person you're honking at could be a felon convicted for violent assault. The guy you're yelling at to be courteous could be a gang member. The woman you're admonishing could be a sociopath.

If you aren't ready for a physical confrontation, stay out of stranger's business. It's a sad, sad truth about our world. I wish we lived in a society with more communal values, the west African "it takes a village" proverb comes to mind, but that's just not the case. If you are the scared type it is essential that you just mind your own business, unless you see a genuine crime occurring. And even then it may be better to just call the police and avoid intervening unless absolute necessary.

Don't get me wrong- I am not shy about shaming people in public when they engage in truly outrageous behavior, but that's mainly because I am ready to face the consequences, physical or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I live in North Beach, and I'm very sorry to hear that this happened to you. (Even if I didn't live in North Beach, I'd be sorry.)

From your description, I know exactly who this woman is. And she has anger issues. So I don't see this incident (as other commenters have suggested) as evidence of rampant homophobia in the area, or of people getting angry as the economy declines. I see at as evidence that this particular woman is a total hothead.

And I would disagree with Prescott, who wrote, "Don't stop being who you are, don't stop acting like a New Yorker ("Hey, YOU shut the f*ck up with that horn")." If I'd been there, when I heard the aggressive honking, I would have made eye contact with the driver, SMILED, and said mildly, "They just need a second to help an old couple into the car." I find that the person usually apologizes ... or glares but at least stops the honking ... but in any case won't turn the anger on me.

Again, I'm sorry this happened.

chrispy said...


I am horrified that this happened to you. My sister used to live not far from North Beach, and I've spent a fair amount of time there. San Francisco is an odd town, beautiful and seductive: it often looks safer than it really is. East Coast liberals like me sometimes have a Tales of the City romanticism about the place, which makes stories like the one you just told seem all the more bitter.

Here's hoping that the Unexpected Karmic Reward that I believe often follows such a nasty experience hastens its way toward you and Paul.


Rus Bowden said...

To all commenters,

We cannot blame the victims here. Mark and Paul should not be entertaining the thought that some of us get to tell someone to behave themselves but they don't, that they did something wrong. if this is true for them and not for any others of us, then something is wrong.

We cannot say that you, Mark, Paul, me, or anyone, just cannot go out of doors and tell someone to behave themselves. This is what we do in society, we let each other know the effect we have on each other as we go about our days. Otherwise we have no society. No . . . in a society, especially a free society, we interact with each other and tell each other what we think. Often, that will make the person who is being an idiot think twice next time, and maybe be a little cooler about their road anxiety.

Maybe we can analyze, we can use transactional analysis and say that Mark was speaking to the woman in a parent-child transaction versus the healthier adult-adult, "Pardon me, Ma'am, but your behavior is upsetting to others around you, and cannot be healthy for you either. Won't you please consider being more calm?"

The other analysis is that the woman's first reaction was to say "fucking faggot." She is not going to accept criticism from a gay man. What else could Mark and Paul think, other than they were about to get a gay bashing?

I'm not gay. I've never been gay bashed. Nor am I black--never been beaten for that. So the question is, what are the chances that this all goes down, with the four goons (none of us besides a Seagal character would take on by ourselves), if there is no gay bashing.


Jesse Hattabaugh said...

I'm straight and I can't even begin to fathom how awful these people's behavior was. Thank you for letting us know the establishments involved. I'm loving the Yelp lynching they are receiving right now, and I'm contacting the people who have given them good reviews in the past to encourage them to drop their stars. Now if only we had some information on the woman and the men involved. I would encourage you to file a police report, especially if there were threats involved. If nothing else this will help surface some more names. The woman clearly must have been a local with ties to the owner. It's not so easy to find a crew of thugs to harass some gays in this town, at least I would have hoped not.

As for the "If you aren't ready for a physical confrontation, stay out of stranger's business." That's BS. I live in a society with a criminal justice system, and threats and violence are criminal activities. Physical confrontations are *NOT* to be expected as consequences of expressing yourself anymore than rape should be expected if you wear revealing clothes. These people deserve social penalties, whether they come from the police or the rest of us. Beer for my horses!

amasake said...

Unacceptable. I'm totally blown away by such ignorant and callous behavior but even more so since they were from that very cafe I've enjoyed in the past. If the establishment is indeed discriminatory and supportive of such intolerance, they'll never see me or my referrals again. I'm sorry to hear you had to experience this, in this day and age. And in SF!

Unknown said...

Sorry you guy's went through that shit !Thought frisco town was gettin better at this crap.there is no room in my life for this kind of abuse.

Unknown said...

Please get both sides of a story BEFORE you make judgement-You are reading a story written by a writer. The man he is slandering is a family man who happens to employe many gay people including the chef that has been with him for 11 years-The main detail Mark left out is the fact he called the girl a "FUCKING CUNT" the girl was the owners daughter-and I don't care who you are or what you do if anyone called my daughter that I would find it very hard to control myself! Please re-read the story and look at the holes before you pass judgement. Here are a few of the hard to believe statements. 1)Why didn't she double park in the first place? 2) Where is this Chinese restaurant?3)This girl is only 5'5" tall.4)If your on the other side of the street that's 4 lanes of traffic on a Sat.5)4 Big guys? try to find 4 Italians close to 6 feet tall, when your both 6' 6)If your so upset why do you focus on 2 employees smoking in a empty restaurant.7) Why would they have two guys standing outside the door? Nice STORY the way it begins so happy and carefree---if this was true I would hope you would call the police if not for yourself but for the WHY didn't YOU??????

Paul Lisicky said...

Tesha! It's you! I know that voice. You were the woman on the street!

I've been thinking a lot about violence all week: how hatred begets hatred and so on and so on. It occurs to me that we only walked into part of a longer, more chaotic narrative that probably kept on going. I don't know what it was that got you that upset that night, but in retrospect I know that something awful must have happened beforehand that we'll never know the story about. Context is what we all need, which is more or less impossible in the quick, quick forum of the web, which leads us to disregard complexity. We all want a simple story, don't we? Anyway, I hope you're feeling better. Here's to happier nights in North Beach--and all of us taking better care of one another.

P.S. And you know that it happened on Jackson, two blocks west of Columbus!

Unknown said...

Ok.. Please let me clear up this ridiculous mess about being homophobic. First, I would like to apologize to anyone who was offended by this mess.

Let me start by saying anyone who knows Macaroni knows that they have ALWAYS been open to all people in San Francisco. I dont like looking at it as the "gay community", b/c that implies there is a "straight community" or "white or black community" and that is not what SF is all about. We treat everyone the same!

That being said, I was one of the 4 Big guys in the story.. (there was 3 and I'm 5'6 155lbs, the other is 55yrs old 5'8 170lbs, one is actually big). I can't believe how this story was told by the gentlemen who wrote it. Yes, the young girl did honk her horn at people taking a long time for a parking spot.. ONCE. prob could have avoided that, but what the gentlemen failed to mention, when he wrote"I yelled something like "Behave yourself!" " he forgot to mention that he added the word CUNT, at the end.

The girl, not knowing that the men where homosexual, replied f-u-faggot.. again, shouldn't have said that!
The point is quickly becoming, you shouldn't open your mouth if you don't have anything good to say... Anyway,
The girl pulled up to the restaurant where me and her very newly engaged fiancee were having dinner out front, when she told him what happened.. moments later, the two men appeared on the other side of the street, and the girl started yelling thats them right there... AGAIN, the man yelled from across the street, CUNT...

Now, I don't care who you are, what part of the city you are in, or World for that matter, if you call a young girl a CUNT, in front of her 230lb. Fiancee of 1 month and her hot headed father from Naples Italy, your prob. going to wish you hadn't. It had nothing to do with sex/race/sexuality at all, if anyone else does the same thing, I promise the same results will happen...every time.

It is also bad luck if your scared b/c you realized that these guys are with her so you hide in a restaurant, that just happens to be owned by the man who's daughter you just called a CUNT in front of him.

Now, the only reason we even crossed the street is b/c we saw them go in the other restaurant and the owner wasn't going to let the guys who called his daughter a CUNT, eat at his restaurant.

I was standing right next to him when he, VERY POLITELY (anyone who knows him can attest to his genuine kindness and generosity) told the men to leave, when they said that "this is a hate crime" this is when he told them, "Even though you are who you are, you gotta think twice before you talk to a young girl like that." (The theme of this man's article). Please understand that he is from Naples, Italy and his English is spotty at best. He was not putting them down in any way, he was simply trying to tell them that their sexuality had nothing to do with this, and that it doesn't matter who they are.. they can't talk to his daughter like that.

Now, at this point there was a small crowd watching and as the men walked away, someone (who had nothing to do with the argument, and happened to be standing there on the sidewalk at the time) yelled at the men, "the castro is on the other side of town".. Twinkletoes, and get lost faggot we're never said, both added to the writers story for dramatic effect... among other things.
IMMEDIATELY after, I told this man personally to go F himself and to shut the F up... and that it had nothing to do with that.

The point is, you should really watch when using vulgar language b/c you really don't know who is around the corner. BOTH, the men and the girl were out of line and they've both seen consequences, but I think it is OUTRAGEOUS that so many people have responded on here who have no idea what happened.

Anyone who knows the restaurant and owners know that they have been open with wide arms to ALL people for a very long time.

I hope this cleared the incident up, and I SINCERELY apologize for anyone who was offended. Yet, on the other hand if anyone calls a girl a cunt in front of me or calls a homosexual a faggot for that matter, I will act in a similar way... it is not right.

and please for now on... if you are going to slander someone, get the facts first b/c you don't know what kind of people you are supporting or are slandering.

Let's all please watch out mouths..

Unknown said...

What say ye to Anthony, Mark?

Paul Lisicky said...

Dear Tesha,

Just to add a few things regarding context:

It helps to know that you're the owner's daughter, that you must care about the restaurant and about giving visitors to the neighborhood a good experience. It even helps to hear you call Mark by name, because it suggests that you see him as an individual and not just a stereotype.

To be blunt, for that little window of time, we could only see you as someone who bullies senior citizens. What other context could we have? The old man trying to slide into the back of the car was struggling; he was having a very hard time of it; he had a cane. More context: my 87-year old mother broke her hip last month. I'm not claiming special sensitivity, just that one day someone you care about is going to be old, struggling into the backseat of a car like that. If you're ever in that situation yourself, I hope that some bystander will stand up on your behalf. That's all.

I'm not surprised to hear that your father has a gay chef and gay employees. But you did cry "faggot" over and over--it began the exchange and it ended the exchange, regardless of what Anthony claims--and I'm positive it would have wounded your associates to hear you screaming it like that. You could have called us any other curse in the book and it wouldn't have hurt like that word. (Actually I've never heard Mark use the c--- word, ever, in my presence, but a word like "faggot" might provoke that. And, sadly, we were told, among other things, that the Castro was on the other side of the town.)

By the way, I do remember calling you a Republican, and for that I'm sorry. It all happened so fast.

Anyway, just to send you--and anyone hurt by this, drawn into this--good wishes and a painless, stress-free weekend.

Take care,

Unknown said...

Thank you for the kinds words Paul. I too wish you and Mark the best and hope we have all learned a lesson here in restraint and humility. Cheers..

Kind Regards,

asadnight said...

This night has been blow so far out of proportion. . .but for the words that were used my deepest appologies. Some times situations arise that people say things they do not mean nor believe. For this i am sorry for hurting or evoking such feeling upon you. Lesson learned that we must always watch our words, for words are the worst weapon in the world. As they damaged you, you have evolved a damage that will go deeper and further than you may imagine. A protector, a man that would do anything for his daughter; is the man that asked you to leave. Out of line we were both at fault, and as for me; my apology. But remember we can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path. (Coelho)

Paul Lisicky said...

Take care, gentlemen. "Restraint and humility"--no better words spoken. And, yes, many lessons learned. Too bad we didn't get to meet under better circumstances. Best wishes on your daughter's engagement.

Kindness to you, too,

Kevin Killian said...

Hi Mark and Paul, awfully sorry to hear about this nightmarish thing. It is the ultimate nightmare to run to one place hoping for sanctuary and to find that it is the *exact same restaurant* just across the street, super creepy like one of those Guillermo del Toro allegories of totalitarianism. Come back again to SF, I'll take you to a nice place and make you forget the trauma! xxx Kevin K.

John Gallaher said...

I'm continually shocked at the confidence of hatred. I can understand hatred in the abstract, but the singlemindedness of purpose, the drivenness of it, is what I always keep coming back to it. To think there are people out there ready, at a moment's notice, to pounce, to have their hatred constantly at hand, is more than disconcerting.

Mark Doty said...

I think it's time for this conversation to come to a close. Many voices and points of view have been aired here, and it seems like at this point further discussion is likely to reiterate where we've already been.
I join Paul, a couple of posts back, in wishing peace to all.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.