I see that a San Francisco cab driver has lost his appeal to change his medallion number from the 666 he was assigned.
Byrne, a 30-year veteran driver, was assigned No. 666 only last August, after another applicant refused to accept the number. Since then, sources said, Byrne has been involved in at least one accident -- even after taking the precaution of having the cab blessed at Mission Dolores.
A few years ago it is said, the cab held by medallion holder 666 "burned to a crisp on Good Friday ... and the only thing remaining after the fire were the numbers 666, visible in the rubble."
"The number 666 has been associated with evil and with Satan for hundreds of years. The number first appears in the Revelation of St. John the Divine. Revelation describes Armageddon and offers the number 666 as a method of recognizing the followers of 'the beast,' or evil.''
"Do you believe in the Mark of the Beast yourself he was asked?''. "No. But there is a lot of negative energy around that cab".
On the meeting agenda is a four-paragraph resolution explaining the problem and requesting that Medallion 666 be retired and that Medallion 1307 be issued as a replacement -- even though that number begins with the spooky digits "13."
Thomas George-Williams, chairman of the United Taxicab Workers union, said No. 666 has "quite a history" and that cabbies love to tell ghost stories about it between fares, but that the commission ought not to get involved in superstitions.
He said taxi drivers already must remember there is no 13th Avenue in San Francisco. The name of the thoroughfare between 12th and 14th avenues was long ago dubbed Funston Avenue, to keep Armageddon at bay.
"I think this is going to make the city look a little silly for taking it up,'' George-Williams said. "Where does it stop? I don't think the city needs to spend time getting involved in something like this.''
The debate was the best show to play City Hall in some time. It featured commissioners bickering good-naturedly with one another, the head of the cab drivers union arguing before the board with red horns on his head and several other cabbies pleading for common sense, a quality not always found in the stone building at Civic Center.
Commission President Paul Gillespie said he favored granting the request, "and hopefully we can do this quickly so we never have to deal with this again.''
But with the underworld, the Book of Revelation and the Mark of the Beast at stake, quickness was not to be. Six cabbies had something to say during public comment.
"How dare you take Lucifer's number away,'' said Thomas George-Williams, president of the cab drivers union, who was sporting the red horns. "This is a serious issue.''
A cabbie named Tom warned the commission that it was "opening a can of worms" and would soon be deluged with requests to retire other numbers. A cabbie named Barry pointed out that 666 was the address of SS Peter and Paul's Church on Filbert Street, an outfit not thought to be in Satan's pocket. A cabbie named Grasshopper said it was a "bad idea to get into mysticism and voodoo.''
"Where does it end?'' said Vice President Patricia Breslin. "I lived at an address of 666 and I did not go over to the dark side.''
Commissioner Malcolm Heinecke said he might approve the request if the commission decided to charge a "significant fee.'' Commissioner Ton Oneto pointed out that the number had been around for at least 30 years and San Francisco has somehow survived.
And then the clerk called for a formal vote, and the commission voted 5-1 to grant sympathy to the devil and keep No. 666 on the books. Only Gillespie -- who said he had once driven cab No. 666 himself and was versed with its implications -- voted to kick the number out.