Inside, along with a kind note ("Thanks for the write-up! We'll do whatever it takes to make you happy. The hyperactive publicist for Stormy Leather") we found a tissue-wrapped tube of that cedar-scented French incense from Fillamento.
Well! Seldom has shameless hinting paid off quite so well. Dog Bites, who is from a tame background, has never ventured into Stormy Leather, but may have to do so now just to say thank you and maybe look around a little, although not at garments with more than one buckle.
The second package bore the return address "Nestor Makhno, Somewhere in the Mission," and contained a gift-wrapped book by one P. Arshinov, titled History of the Makhnovist Movement 1918-1921, as well as (surprise!) an anti-car postcard, which we're going to put up on our bulletin board.
And later, Nestor himself called -- from a pay phone, as usual -- to recommend the volume as an exciting read. "It's the political equivalent of a pirate movie," he said.
More importantly, did he have a good Christmas? "Well, I'm not big on commodity fetishism," he answered. "It's not really my holiday."
Since this is still more or less the holiday season of goodwill toward all, we will bear patiently the teasing of our officemates, in particular Mr. George Cothran, who claims to be convinced that our elopement with Mr. Makhno to found a utopian community is imminent. Especially since Mr. Makhno is, or was, blissfully unaware of our materialistic fixations on Miele HEPA filter vacuum cleaners, whether shoes with clunky heels are still in for spring, and the British edition of Homes and Gardens.
Hail, Flock of Malcontents!
Meanwhile, the Sport Utility Vehicle Proliferation Fellowship appears to be getting ready to play some hardball. In yet another faxed communique, the SUV-PF notes, "We are concerned that the portion of our manifesto that was printed will give the flock of malcontents that peruse your paper --" and here Dog Bites pauses to say, Hmph! Those are our readers you're talking about! "-- the impression that we are some sort of militant group.
"As far as I remember this is a capitalist regime that we are all living in. As such we feel it is a mistake to target our kind simply because we have amassed a more sizable wealth of material possessions. Like it or not, this culture judges others based on the things we have instead of the people we are. So when the dust settles, it will be people with possessions calling the shots and the people with ideals being rightfully trampled."
Uh, sure. But while all this rightful trampling is going on, Dog Bites feels compelled to ask one question: Are you people for real? We were kind of under the impression that this was all a practical joke, but you're starting to scare us.
"The change we dictate is simply to separate the haves from the have-nots. Why should we be any more forced to coexist with people who don't like us than they should be forced to coexist with us? Since we can buy the better cars, houses, and goods, we will always have first say as to what we get. If the hip areas we decide to live in happen to be the Mission, Noe Valley or any other place, then the others can either get along with us or get out."
Of course, none of this sounds at all militant to us. But the SUV-PF does have one thing going for it: It makes the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project look tolerant by comparison.
Hail, Anti-Social Losers!
We were simply delighted to pick up this month's Nob Hill Gazette and find Editor/Publisher Lois Lehrman inviting us to "find your name on our tantalizing Tote Board," the Gazette's annual accounting of who had his or her photo in its pages the most times.
We did not find our name on the list.
Now, Leah Garchik made it into the Gazette three times. Three. Art Hoppe was in twice. Art Hoppe.
So we talked to the Gazette's Nancy Whelan-Stevens, who compiled this year's list, to find out how we could improve our chances of making next year's list. "Hmm," she stalled. "Go to every big event that's going on out there? Send your picture in?"
Wait a minute: You mean people send their own pictures in to the paper?
"Well, it's a combination of that and that we send a photographer out to all the big galas," she answered.
So in that case, how do we get invited to the kinds of places at which we'd be likely to be photographed? "Make donations. Big, big donations. Then everyone will love you," said Whelan-Stevens.
Umm, say you don't have much money. Is there another way?
Whelan-Stevens considered. "Well, most of the events are ticketed. The tickets are around $100 or so per person on average."
Cough, cough. Then again, if you're going to drop that kind of money just to see and be seen, there must be a way to increase your chances of actually being photographed. "Does looking fabulous help?"
"Oh, definitely," answered Whelan-Stevens.
So would there be any particular designers, for example, that we could wear for extra points?
"Uh, I don't think so."
Could it be our hair?
For further tips, we plan to give careful study to our collection of back issues of the Gazette. There must be some trick to it: Supersocialite Ann Moller Caen easily carried away the coveted crown of Miss Nob Hill Gazette, being pictured a total of 16 times -- 10 times more than Mayor Willie Brown. Meanwhile, Sharon Stone appeared 11 times in the paper of social record, though her possibly equally glamorous husband, Phil Bronstein, was in a mere three times.
"People like to look at Sharon Stone," explained Whelan-Stevens.
Gimme Gimme Gimme
Anyway, getting back to Stormy Leather (and why not?), whose kind gift, along with the Gazette's rejection, inspired us to other thoughts -- mostly greedy thoughts -- about stuff we could ask for in this column and maybe get. Of course, it's more than just greed that drives us to do this. It's also concern for our readership. Look at it this way: If our basic needs (and really, nice lipstick is pretty much a basic need, isn't it?) are taken care of, we don't have to worry about them. And if we don't have to worry about them, we can devote more time to, say, investigative reporting, or civic affairs -- you know, big-picture stuff.
So welcome to the 1999 Dog Bites Pledge Drive. Please give generously, and remember -- it's all made possible by the support of readers like you.
The Donors' Circle
Up to $20, or one Chanel lipstick, or one week's supply of Odwalla Superfood.
$21-50, or one month's worth of gas for the car, or five fancy packages of French incense.
$51-100, or one emergency trip to the vet, or that cute peach-colored twin set we saw in the J. Crew catalog, or a ticket to some sort of high-powered gala.
Home Again, Home Again
With the new year, of course, comes a time for reflection, a time at which Dog Bites, glumly watching the annual news highlights and wondering if we'll ever, ever be able to change our job title to "millionaire balloonist," feels just a little cranky.
Of course, our irritability could be merely the aftereffect of a number of exceedingly dark and wet winter days spent over Christmas in a country beloved columnist Jon Carroll so memorably described as "sort of like Laplandia."
Only completely different. Because in Laplandia, we bet, you won't hear a DJ named Stacy announce, "Whoa -- big night tonight! There's 12 games on in the NHL!" before treating radio listeners to Heart's "Crazy on You."
Nor, we imagine, is curling televised in that country. But we could be wrong.
So it was good to get back to San Francisco, even though we realize that since we are originally from elsewhere, we're not completely welcome here. Which leads us to ask: Will the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project consider issuing refugee visas to disaffected Laplanders?
No, He Wouldn't
Due to a labor dispute, long-term contract worker John Would will not be appearing in this week's column. His disgruntlement came to the boiling point, it seems, when he made an unannounced visit to our offices last week and somehow got past reception. He demanded a number of spiral-bound reporter's notebooks, and, when Dog Bites staff would only give him two, left in a huff.
Not so coincidentally, Ken Garcia is taking some time off. So in fact, Mr. Would's walkout has played neatly into the hands of the Weekly's wily management, which would otherwise have had to find another placement for our once-popular columnist-within-a-column.
So far, the only downside is that Would's insistence on hanging around outside the building, carrying a sign reading "Locked Out by Dog Bites" and occasionally warming his hands over an oil-can fire, has been somewhat bad for company morale.
But on the plus side, the inches this column normally devotes to Would's Garcia summaries now can be devoted to ... something else. In this case, reader Jesse Berney -- apparently on staff at the Red Herring, where we wonder if things might be a little slow -- has written to request that we make fun of Jon Carroll one more time. "I think you should look at today's column, wherein he sings the praises of infomercials," writes Jesse. "Infomercials! If that isn't fuel sufficient to drive an entire column, I don't know what is."
Well, OK. Just for you, Jesse, and just this once.
We Read Jon Carroll, So You Won't Have To
Monday, Jan. 4: Infomercials are easy to follow.
As told to Laurel Wellman
Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail email@example.com.