But our interlocutors, some of whom seemed to have taken the rather alarmist view that San Francisco was on the verge of becoming a sort of socialist city-state, would not be deterred, and after another glass of a very pleasant cabernet sauvignon we were drawn into the discussion, though we insisted we couldn't predict the election's outcome. After all, there are so many factors to be considered -- for instance, that voter turnout is usually lower in runoffs. And everyone knows Ammiano doesn't have much money. On the other hand, labor support for Brown is soft, and no one can say where Jordan and Reilly supporters will turn, if anywhere. And of course, it's impossible to say whether the first election's write-in voters will prove more willing to return to the polls than others. Why, it would take a psychic to ... hey, wait.
Because, of course, we just so happen to know a psychic. And she would just happen to be Nancy Shavick, a top Tarot reader consulted by a number of newspapers -- the Boston Globe and the L.A. Times among them -- as well as celebrities, including Bill Murray, Bob Weir, and Rosanna Arquette.
The Mill Valley-based Shavick is the author of several well-regarded books on the Tarot, including the brand-new Nancy Shavick's Tarot Universe, a guide to interpreting the cards' meanings in various contexts. "The Tarot cards are a textbook for raising your consciousness by discovering the will of divine guidance, urging you to evolve and make positive choices in your journey toward individual freedom," she writes. Well! No need to tell that to Dog Bites; we keep a drawing of the Temperance card on our office wall as a trenchant reminder of several personal qualities to which, we feel, we ought at least to aspire.
We called her up. (You can too: 415-389-0552; she said we should put her number in this column.) Before she began, Shavick cautioned us that results in sports and politics are among the hardest things to predict, then told us she'd examine the question in a series of Grand Cross spreads -- which, for the benefit of the non-Tarot-conversant, are patterns of laying out the cards that purport to show past and other influences on matters under discussion, as well as outcomes.
There was immediate drama. "Whoa!" exclaimed Shavick, after dealing the first spread. "I think it's Ammiano. Three of Cups -- that's the Juice Joint. That's where it's all happening right now."
Shavick noted that Ammiano won't need a war chest to win ("10 of Discs as the obstacle"), and that much of his support comes from those who currently feel themselves shut out of the city's dot com prosperity ("Five of Discs as the outer influence"). "Willie Brown will be seen as the arrogant carpetbagger he is," she announced, startling any of Dog Bites' readers who had, perhaps, a mental picture of a Tarot card reader as, well, rather vague and otherworldly. Then Shavick turned to the card representing the outcome: "Ace of Wands. Looks like a new administration."
To check her results, Shavick dealt a further spread to focus on Brown's prospects. "Justice as the present," she observed. "Karma, baby. And his obstacle is the Wheel." She chortled. "He's out." Not only that, but, Shavick says, poor Willie may find himself with fewer friends when his offices are no longer in City Hall. "His outer influences are the Moon," she said. "People that have kissed his butt, but didn't really buy into his politics, will move on."
Come on -- isn't there a chance Brown could win? After all, the latest polls show him 10 points ahead of Ammiano. "In his own mind, maybe," said Shavick, tartly. "Seven of Cups. He's in a fantasy world."
Hmm. It looks like it could be time for Dog Bites to subtly distance ourselves from that loser.
And, uh, how about Ammiano?
"He's really freaked out right now," said Shavick, examining the cards. "He doesn't think he's going to make it. He's a very sensitive person, and he actually is very bothered by these personal attacks. But the good news is he really doesn't need to do any stumping. He doesn't have to be running around. He doesn't have to go to people. They'll come to him."
The best news of all, though, was Ammiano's outcome card -- eerily enough, the same one Shavick had turned up in her initial layout: "Ace of Wands. He is the fresh start."
Now, there is a reason the various Medicis kept well-paid fortunetellers on their personal staffs: If you know what's going to happen, you can position yourself to take advantage of it. So, realizing that Dog Bites has a golden opportunity to ingratiate ourselves with Ammiano right now (and Tom: Congratulations! You look great! By the way, where's the inaugural party?), we asked Shavick for any advice we might pass Tom's way. "Stay with it," she answered, almost as soon as she had laid out the next spread. Ammiano, she added, needs to realize that "people love him. He's going to revitalize the city. He's going to tap into how much we all love the place. He has more ideas than people even know about ... I see him working with Jerry Brown, too."
This time around, the Tarot was particularly clear: With the Emperor as his outcome card, Ammiano will be a notably successful mayor. "He's the man. He's the manly man to meet the occasion," said Shavick. "He's meant to be, and I pity people who try to interfere with him."
Of course, while Ammiano is enjoying his triumph, revitalizing San Francisco, and so on, some of us might wonder what's to become of Brown, packing his stuff into cardboard boxes over on Van Ness. "When he loses the election, he'll say, 'I was ripped off. They really wanted me.' He won't get that he was rejected," Shavick said. "His initial impulse will be to leave town and run away. But he'll stick around for a while, at least. In the near future, he's going to be a partier on the party circuit."
And on the off chance that it might pay to stay in Brown's good books, what advice might Dog Bites pass the soon-to-be-former mayor's way? "He needs to take this opportunity to review his life to this point and see what harm he's done and what good he's done, and figure out how he can do more good in the future," said Shavick. "If he's honest and does that, he can come back."
And if not? "I hope he saved his money, because he's not getting any more," said Shavick. We protested: Surely, Brown will return to his lucrative private law practice? "He may go back into the law -- he's got Justice as his hope and dream -- but he's not going to be a legal powerhouse to the rich anymore," answered Shavick. "He'd have to settle for being an ordinary lawyer. His challenge is, can he come down to Earth?"
Of course, Brown has other options. For one, he can always make a life for himself in the tiny whirl of San Francisco high society. "I could definitely see him ending up as a walker," said Shavick, thoughtfully.
Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.