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Brother, Can You Spare a Heart? 

"The Summer of Love is dead. You dig? Got any change?"

Wednesday, Aug 25 2004
If you've walked San Francisco lately, you've noticed the array of 5-foot-tall heart statues lurking on major thoroughfares and in open spaces. In a public art installation called "Hearts in San Francisco," 130 of these hand-decorated heart-shaped sculptures have been rolled out around town. The project is truly good-hearted, too; in November, the statues will be auctioned off and the proceeds donated to San Francisco General Hospital.

We like the hearts, and raising money for hospitals is A-OK with us, but we've got a beef, and it's a big one: There is no heart statue on the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets, ground zero for the Summer of Love. Alas, there is no heart statue in the Haight at all (unless you count the Panhandle, and everybody knows the Panhandle is just a glorified median strip).

We called Ellen Newman, co-chairperson of the Hearts in San Francisco Steering Committee, and asked her to explain this glaring oversight. Newman claims the city wouldn't allow a heart statue in the Haight because "the streets are too narrow and people might bump into them."

Now, Dog Bites dodges obstructions on Haight Street every day, from grimy vagrants to sidewalk-hogging packs of tourists to snarling homeless dogs. Going a bit out of the way for attractive and area-appropriate artwork would be a love-in by comparison.

As is to be expected, Haight-Ashbury locals have their own unique takes on the situation. In front of Aardvark, a vintage clothing store at Haight and Ashbury, a man wearing a black sweat suit streaked with dirt attempts to explain why the Haight is heart-less.

"There's a majority and minority in San Francisco. Haight Street is a minority, you dig?" he says. "Timothy Leary's dead. Jerry's dead. The Summer of Love is dead. You dig?

"Got any change?"

Inside Aardvark, on the other hand, sales clerk Erik is all for a Haight-Ashbury heart: "It would be nice, to evoke the feeling of the Summer of Love." His co-worker, Nina, agrees. "They should put something pretty here," she says, gesturing outside, "so we don't have to look at all that crap all of the time."

We dig. (Matt Stewart)

Color Them Scary

Wandering down the Valencia corridor and up into Noe Valley without experiencing a single myocardial infarction this weekend, we were genuinely impressed by widespread evidence of a creative tsunami. Everywhere we looked, it seemed, we saw books, sculptures, drawings, posters, bumper stickers, and graffiti springing from a single cultural locus: Republicans!

Yes, it might be difficult to accept, but the GOP and its most iconic representatives -- from Dubya the Blank and Cheney the Child-Frightener to singing whack-job John Ashcroft and Dr. Strangelove himself, Paul Wolfowitz -- are clearly the inspiration for the most energetic artistic movement to hit San Francisco since Grace Slick last dropped acid. Any day now, in fact, we expect to run across Zap-style comics with horny members of the Grand Old Party having a grand old time with one another, and maybe even a few Iraqis. Or maybe they're already around, and Dog Bites just isn't up on our illustrated porn.

Or maybe Dog Bites just hasn't read Color Me Arnold, a new offering from Manic D Press that, in publicist-speak, "combines the fun of coloring books designed to entertain children (connect-the-dots, mazes, etc.) with inane quotes and lifelike line drawings of actor and governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. Readers can connect the dots to find Arnold groping a nearby female, draw a picture of themselves between Arnold and George W. Bush, color in Arnold as 'Conan the Barbarian,' drive a Hummer through a maze from Hollywood to Sacramento, and more."

Yes, by all means, more. We can't wait for more.

But wait we must, and as we do, we remind you that Dog Bites was first onto the Republican coloring-book idea, offering San Francisco and America the chance to decorate laughable portraits of party titans -- including Reagan, Bush fils, and the Arnold -- that GOP activists were, for some unfathomable reason, passing out at the Orange County Fair. And you responded. And we honor you, Diane Somebody-or-other from San Francisco and Heather McQuade of Suncook, N.H., because you have done what we never would have attempted.

About The Author

John Mecklin


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