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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Jan 17 1996
The San Francisco Beer Party
It was no Boston Tea Party, but Americans for Gay Rights won a passel of press coverage for spilling beer in a Jan. 4 demonstration against the German government. International media clicked away as three protesters drained five bottles of St. Pauli Girl and Beck's into gutters outside the Goethe-Institut, a cultural organization co-sponsored by the German government. Organizers hope the action will launch a monthlong beer boycott to express disapproval of a Munich prosecutor who bullied CompuServe into blocking access to 200 Internet bulletin boards, some of which were gay-oriented or AIDS support newsgroups.

But why was a cultural organization with limited connections to German politics targeted? Goethe Director Ulrich Saker says, "There was the possibility of going to the German Consulate on Jackson, but they said that we had the more attractive location, and they knew us from the Net."

Michael Merrigan, one of the protesters at the thinly attended rally, confirms, "There's a lot more visibility on Grant and Bush than the 'tighty' neighborhood of Pacific Heights."

The media savvy paid off in soundbites, with at least three video crews and a dozen print photographers filming the dribble, boosting the demonstrator-to-reporter ratio to levels that may have eclipsed that of the O.J. Simpson trial coverage.

Waning Cats and Dogs
There was Janie, on Castro Street, lying on her side and howling -- not a low, mournful moan, not a songlike sound, but demanding, irate, a chirp with a bullet behind it. Saying: Look at me. Now.

Not so, Tiger. Tiger was silent. Tiger was silent and watching the world from behind the glistening bars of his cage, his head on his paws like he'd seen it all, heard it all before. No sense getting upset or amused or enthused. No point in any of it at all.

Think of it this way -- no matter what kind of time you had over the holidays, at least nobody took you down to the pound, stuck you in a cage, and waved goodbye.

But the holiday season is a busy time for the S.F. Department of Animal Care and Control, and this year was no exception. Some 150 cats and dogs found themselves suddenly behind bars during December, turned in by owners who didn't want to deal with them anymore, according to a shelter representative.

"Lots of people surrender their animals over the holidays," she says. "They're housecleaning."

Now, post-holiday, many of these animals are available for adoption, the shelter worker says. The city's animal shelter is open every day from noon to 5:30 p.m., and is at 1200 15th St., at Harrison. And you thought the dog days were in August.

More Netly News
HotWired is launching an on-line politics channel called The Netizen to take advantage of "the year of the Net," says newly appointed editor David Weir.

"We're trying to find ways to shake up journalism, to do something beyond the traditional horse race," says Weir, who has distinguished himself in print at Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, and California.

Providing daily feeds to The Netizen will be regular Wired contributors Brock Meeks and John Heilemann (late of the Economist), with other hires to be announced later. Weir promises RealAudio transmissions, live chat forums, and polling done especially for the site, but emphasizes that it's still a work in progress.

No grand opening is planned for The Netizen, but the site should go into beta any day now.

By Jeff Stark, Ellen McGarrahan, Jack Shafer


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