By our calendar, it's the beginning of October -- and still no announcement of a new publisher for the Hearst-owned Chronicle. One source claimed Arizona Republic Publisher John Oppedahl was still very much in the running; quite frankly, we're bored with this rumor and wish someone would start a new one.
Anyway, Chronicle President Steve Falk, who'd recently posted a notice on the Chron newsroom bulletin board assuring staff that a new publisher would be named soon, said he'd heard no such thing. But then, Falk's been pretty busy -- he was the chief organizer of the very successful Chron and Examiner combined staff picnic in Walnut Creek this weekend. "We're calling it the one big happy family picnic," he told Dog Bites, who admitted to having chickened out on trying to crash the event. As it turns out, we missed "thousands of people, swimming, horseback riding ...." Man, we really are losers.
So here's the big question: Would Falk like the publisher's job himself? "Well, I'm here and I'm ready. No relocation costs," he shot back.
The delay in naming the publisher is, as ever, the wait for former federal Judge Charles Renfrew's report on allegations that Ex Editor and Publisher Tim White "horse-traded" editorial support for Mayor Brown's re-election in return for Brown's withdrawing his opposition to the sale of the Ex to the Fang family; received wisdom has been that a publisher can't be named until Renfrew has finished his investigation. But it's been months now -- and isn't the November merger of the papers' staffs getting awfully close? "Well, all I can say is I have the same calendar you do," said Falk.
What He Did on His Vacation
Yes, we did hear about Kevin "Nestor Makhno" Keating's air rage incident while he was on a flight from France Wednesday -- though according to the man himself it was no big deal. "I had a little too much to drink and I was a little verbally obnoxious," said the erstwhile leader of the erstwhile Mission Yuppie Eradication Project.
Could have happened to anybody! Or, um, not. Even Dog Bites -- recently outed as a total lightweight -- can drink a few glasses of wine, Keating's in-flight intake, without becoming belligerent. And Keating, as at least one of our old expense reports will bear out, never seemed to have much trouble holding his liquor before.
The petit incident occurred aboard an Air France flight from Paris to San Francisco. Keating was returning from a relaxing sojourn in London, Paris, Italy, and Greece, whither he had fled in June in an effort to escape American cultural hegemony. He wouldn't say if he'd been drinking before boarding the flight home -- "I've got a court date coming up and I can't really go into the particulars" -- but insisted no actual rage was involved: "I was not mad at anybody." Besides, the disgruntled activist added: "I want to emphasize that I'm only facing one misdemeanor charge."
According to the airline, a drunken Keating was violent with a flight attendant; he denied this, and disputed other newspaper reports. "One place where the Chronicle got it wrong was they said I posted bail," he claimed. "I didn't have to post bail -- I was ORed [released on his own recognizance] out of there. I was basically told by the FBI that if I write a letter apologizing to Air France that would be that. Does that sound like a big deal?"
What many correspondents want to know is how Keating could have been flying first class from Paris to San Francisco, as the Chron reported. "It makes you wonder if he's also got a Mercedes M-Class parked in short-term parking for weeks at a time while he takes his globe-trotting jaunts," writes San Rafael's Will Toft, while Dan Karasic speculates, "Could it be that Keating was enraged that after gentrifying the Mission with the likes of Beauty Bar, the yuppies were trying to make the Air France first-class cabin their playground?"
In fact, Keating said he had actually been flying coach before being, um, forcibly upgraded. "It's a tough way to get kicked up to first class," he noted. And he wasn't being offered treats from the dessert cart, either; following his sequestration behind the curtain, Keating was "restrained" for the duration of the flight. So was he, like, hog-tied, or what? "I think I've talked to you enough," was all he would say. "Now I wish I hadn't come back."
A Cubicle of Her Own
Astute readers and shut-ins will notice that, as of next issue, Dog Bites' (infinitely nicer) alter ego, Laurel Wellman, will no longer be managing editor of SF Weekly. Dog Bites, the column, has become a full-time proposition -- or at least, we've succeeded in convincing management that it has.
This personnel change has been in the works since December of last year; as one might imagine it has been well nigh impossible to replace us. Luckily, because we live in San Francisco, where almost anything can happen -- including our getting our own column in the first place -- the paper has been able to hire a stellar team: Managing Editor Matt Smith (as opposed to columnist Matt Smith; around the office we keep them straight by referring to MS2000, or the Other White Matt) and new Associate Editor Karen Silver.
Dog Bites, on the other hand, will no longer have to spend six days a week in the office; much as we genuinely love the place, we believe this to be a positive development. Celebrations began Friday evening at the Final Final -- special thanks to the Giants for winning, because it was more festive that way -- and concluded, at least for the time being, over chocolate cake at Jianna Sunday. All in all, we think things are off to a good start.
So, as we clean out the office -- unpinning our prized letters from Carl Nolte, Herb Gold, and Joan Jett-Black from the bulletin board, dusting off our special Rice-A-Roni box, cringing at certain of our old columns, and -- hey! There's a receipt! We can claim that!
Um, where were we? Oh. A number of people have asked whether Dog Bites will change; the answer is yes. We believe our new schedule will allow us to really develop an expertise on the intricacies of city government; to puzzle out what, exactly, Supervisor Michael Yaki, booster of the Bloomingdale's-on-Market project, meant when he said of the former Emporium, "This building was going nowhere fast."
Issues of civic economics will also feature. For instance, much as Dog Bites adores the whole retail experience, we're sort of skeptical about assertions that the Bloomingdale's development will generate $14 million in new sales tax revenue for San Francisco every year. Someone needs to ask: How many Prescriptives counters can one city support? At what point does DKNY become a zero-sum proposition? That someone, we believe, can be us.
Meanwhile, we have to finish packing and pull ourselves together. Dog Bites isn't usually sentimental, but we do know there's one thing we're really, really going to miss: our door.