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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Nov 4 1998
Hinckle, Hinckle, Little Star (II)
It has been pointed out, by more than one uncharitable correspondent, that Dog Bites is perhaps not this paper's most stellar example of investigative journalism. We think specifically of a note from one Carl Morfeld -- not coincidentally a Jon Carroll fan -- describing us as "a rabid chihuahua, yapping in a manner sadly failing to appear vicious."

Nevertheless, it is still painful to us to realize that we have been scooped. And by Warren Hinckle, too.

We refer to the most recent issue of the irregularly published Argonaut, in which he devotes a two-page spread to the 1944 Blessing of the Fleet -- a news item we completely missed. That would be the story that begins, "The Blessing of the Fleet Festival is a centuries old Italian rite originating in Sicily to call on divine providence to safeguard ships and crews from the perils of the sea."

It's not often you see a lead like that in a newspaper. But then, no one has ever accused the Argonaut of playing it safe. Or its editor/publisher of being self-effacing, either -- we particularly enjoyed the page of fuzzy party photos of Warren himself hobnobbing with all the usual suspects, including Willie Brown, Margo St. James, Terence Hallinan, and various Coppolas and Fangs.

Save Our Condos!
Meanwhile, the real estate Hinckle is fond of referring to as "Willigan's Island" -- that's Yerba Buena Island, to those of us not invited to bend elbows with the city's power brokers -- is under threat again. Willie doesn't like the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's plan for the new $1.5 billion eastern span of the Bay Bridge because its placement north of the existing span would interfere with commercial development of the island.

Claiming his own scheme for a southern route is "straighter, shorter, and less expensive, probably, to build," Brown is set to take his proposal to the Treasure Island Development Authority, all seven of whose members were appointed by ... Willie Brown. Dog Bites only hopes he can talk some sense into them -- we've already started saving up for a down payment on a Yerba Buena condo, figuring that, at least, car vandalism by disgruntled boho residents will probably be at a minimum there. In fact, we're thinking gated community.

And we're not sure whether it's officially part of the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project, or just one of those public art programs, but Dog Bites noticed that the street sign for Clarion Alley -- directly across Valencia from the Mission Police Station -- had been altered to read "Heroin Alley."

Summarized With Extreme Prejudice
Official Dog Bites Contractor John Would, though still disgruntled by our strict staff-only bathroom policy ("Am I supposed to go outside and pee in the bushes?" he wonders) has put aside his beefs with management and written summaries of several recent Ken Garcia columns, which is good, because basically we can't think of anything else to write about.

"Luckily, this has been an excellent week for Ken," writes Would (especially luckily, as this has been a lousy week for Dog Bites), "as he has reverted to the classic Garcia formula: picking the most incredibly obvious moral dilemma out of the previous day's news, then whipping it like a dog, as if he was the only person in the world who might have come to this conclusion. And sometimes, he even throws in a special Garcia bonus: a vague, if not impossible solution to the incredibly obvious moral dilemma he has unearthed. For example, yesterday's column on the endlessly-delayed trial of accused serial killer Charles Ng ends with this little beauty: 'But if anything like the Ng case is inflicted on the state judiciary again, it's California's legal system that should be placed on trial.'

"But enough chit chat, let's get to the Garcia. I even read him on Saturday, so you wouldn't miss out.

"Thursday, Oct. 22: David Coulter sold out BofA and made a lot of money in the process. But here, I'll write something bad about him, and that will make things better.

"Saturday, Oct. 24: That big-ass Coke bottle at the new ballpark isn't going to look very good. But here, I'll write some bad things about the planning commission, and maybe, if God reads my column (as I suspect he does), the commissioners will roast in hell with David Coulter.

"Tuesday, Oct. 27: Ng's trial is taking way too long. Ng is a bad, bad man. Hope the planning commission and David Coulter save him a seat in hell!"

Chronicle of Trivia
Finally, we are pleased to announce the winner of our Chronicle Books title-spotting contest. It's Leah Reich, who writes that "even if someone's already won, I did always sort of want to write in and transparently suck up by letting you know I really like Dog Bites." Leah correctly guessed that En Route: Label Art From the Golden Age of Air Travel; Cigar Box Labels; The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic; The Art of the Bath; Coffeemakers; and Hi-Fi's and Hi-Balls: The Golden Age of the American Bachelor are all actual volumes.

Runners-up Josh Coolidge, Harrison Shaffer, Carl Steadman, Jacqui Van Keuren, and Marty Lewallen get ... nothing, although the witty Mr. Lewallen suggested several additional titles -- Home on the Range: '60s Split Levels; Kitten With a Whip: Photo Pornography From 1940-1960; and Spittoons! -- any one of which, we're sure, would make a winning addition to the publisher's range.

As told to Laurel Wellman

Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail

About The Author

Laurel Wellman


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