He chortled nastily. "It's French. There's supposed to be agreement between singular and plural nouns and adjectives."
Why can't people like this ever bug someone big and important, someone like, oh, say, Dennis Richmond, who remarked during the Muscular Dystrophy telethon, "We'll take every $25 bill you've got!" Why?
Weeping quietly and completely unglued, we spent the next 45 minutes on a fruitless search through back issues, trying to find an instance of "arriviste" in our column. Finally, we had to go outside and walk around for a while, taking deep breaths.
Obviously, we need to relax. So we're considering giving this space over to someone else, someone nicer, someone with a better grasp of French grammar, and hopefully someone with a snappier name for the column. So we were pleasantly surprised to receive a fax from the Columnists's Collaborative -- Today's Feature Source.
It looks as though the strongest candidate to replace Dog Bites is one David Ross, whose column The Curmudgeon "applies a blowtorch to popular culture, politics, and life in general. There are no sacred cows when good sense is assailed at every turn." Whew!
Readers may also want to consider Roamin' Holiday, which "tantalizes active and armchair travelers with global tales from the offbeat to the glamorous," or perhaps LC's Take, "a sometimes wry and always insightful view of life's contretemps, using humor to reinforce opinion."
Mission Yuppie Identification Project! Radio Ear Tags Next!
Whenever there's a terrorist bombing, reporters at the leading media outlets sit tight, waiting for someone to call and claim responsibility. So when Mission Yuppie Eradication Project spokesperson Nestor Makhno phoned Dog Bites -- us! He really called us! -- to say he was behind those posters urging Mission-dwellers to attack expensive cars, well, we felt we'd finally made the big time.
"I moved here to get away from the kind of people who drive sport utility vehicles and read Wired magazine," Makhno explained, when we asked if he were actually prepared to smash cars. "I'm dead serious about this."
Wouldn't it be better to call for a boycott of upscale Mission restaurants, or something? After all, a bunch of broken glass all over the street never solved anything, as our mother used to say. Or something like that.
"The automobile is a key commodity of modern bourgeois society," Makhno argued. "When future historians look back on our era, they're not going to focus on Herman Melville or blues music. They're going to focus on the private automobile."
How about an anti-yuppie bylaw, then? Like, you could empower a committee to screen for Wall Street Journal subscriptions, merlot consumption, Robert Clergerie shoes, and Palm Pilots before allowing anyone to move into the neighborhood. And if you want to create even more jobs, maybe think about adding a special branch to investigate current residents too. Hey, phrase the ballot proposition the right way and the city might even fund it.
"Any form of electoral politics is total bullshit," answered Makhno sternly. "The only thing that works is taking direct action."
Down by Law
Stanford Law School students were excited to see they'd have a chance to study with Deborah Rhode this semester. The legal ethics expert -- and president of the American Association of Law Schools -- was scheduled to teach a course titled "Gender Law and Public Policy," something she covered extensively in her well-reviewed 1997 book Speaking of Sex: The Denial of Gender Inequality, which asserts, among other things, that sexual harassment in the workplace is even more common than we currently acknowledge.
But Monday morning, disappointed students learned the course's start-date had been postponed.
Rhode has been called away to Washington on "emergency work with the House Judiciary Committee" -- i.e., bunkering down to formulate a response to the Starr report.
Jon Carroll a I'talien!
We need hardly say that Dog Bites was in raptures over the news that fur is back.
In fact, let us say that again: FUR IS BACK! Sure, there were a bunch of protesters chained to the Neiman Marcus doors a weekend or so ago, but you just know that if Naomi Campbell is wearing fur again, it won't be long before everyone is.
For further insight, we turned to publicist Ellie Marato, of Italian fashion house Margon, who had called Dog Bites to promote an upcoming trunk show (and if you don't know what a trunk show is, you're clearly not the kind of person we even want to know). She explained that luxury -- which may this season take the form of wrapping fox pelts "around your head" -- is back in style.
"I just like to be honest and tell people fur is very in right now," she said.
Honesty in fashion? Intrigued, we visited the Margon Web site, where we found not only the design house's mission statement (the clothes are aimed at the customer "who wants to recover the flavor of a past in which women were truly women") but also a moment of suspicion over Jon Carroll's possible free-lance activities. (After all, the beloved daily columnist once edited local fashion magazine Raggs.)
According to Margon, important winter 1998-99 trends include crystal beading, lots of "audacious" dresses, and "oranges, greens, fuchsias, and still: the natural tones of Nordic beaches."
And still: an unmistakable Carrollism! The man is everywhere! No wonder we can't relax.
As told to Laurel Wellman
Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail email@example.com.