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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Nov 12 1997
In the Pink
The San Francisco Chronicle has never been a respected newspaper or a good newspaper, and probably never will be. These days it seems less compelling than ever, what with Herb Caen gone and even its legendary frivolousness waning.

But once in a while there's a flash of the old fire. Consider the pink section piece a week or two ago on Paul Verhoeven, director of the new movie Starship Troopers. Accompanying a pair of stories on the director and the movie was a strange and alluring sidebar.

The story, start to finish, was about whether Verhoeven had had sex with Sharon Stone. (The director made Stone a star with Total Recall and created a sensation with Stone's leg-uncrossing scene in Basic Instinct.) The pair had a love-hate relationship, Verhoeven told Chron writer Edward Guthmann. He said he thought Stone wanted to have sex with him, but that they decided it might disrupt the pair's working relationship. Verhoeven didn't sound like he'd reached closure on the issue -- he had "a gleam in his eye" about the "juicy, forbidden prospect of an extramarital fling," wrote Guthmann.

A juicy, forbidden tale it was -- one that on the grounds of lurid sensationalism and sheer pointlessness few dailies in America would consider appropriate for publication. But, of course, those other papers aren't competing with the San Francisco Examiner, led by Executive Editor (and recent Sharon Stone boy toy) Phil Bronstein.

-- B.W.

Marquis de Dilbert
A recent luncheon address at the Finance Executives Institute conference at S.F.'s Fairmont Hotel was a packed affair. Hundreds of Brooks Brothers blazers squashed up against hundreds more Armani suits inside; tie-tacked necks craned over close-cropped hair as dozens more executives crammed outside the salon door. They laughed at every joke the luncheon speaker told, nodded at every point he made, remained rapt during his genial anecdotes.

Who was this captivating speaker? The head of a sovereign state? An ingenious corporate raider? A Silicon Valley financial wizard?

Try Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert comic strip and parodic David to the banal Goliath of white-collar office life.

That's right: The very executives responsible for creating the real-world version of Dilbert's hideous corporate-drone existence turn out to be its satirist's greatest fans. But before we assume corporate America is run by a bunch of gleeful sadists, let's consider some alternatives:

Perhaps these men believe the pointlessness of office life is inevitable, and that executives are helplessly drawn to create soul-consuming Dilbert worlds. Or maybe the corporate elite have never come to emotional terms with their positions in life, and, like Sherman McCoy in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, believe they are mere visitors to the fast lane. Or perchance they find in Dilbert's parables the antidote to their own feelings of pointlessness. Or ...

Nah. They're gleeful sadists.
-- Matt Smith

Boulware + Sex = Party!
Suave and multitalented SF Weekly columnist Jack Boulware has written a book. Its title is: Sex, American Style: An Illustrated Romp Through the Golden Age of Heterosexuality. It hits the bookshelves Dec. 1. We could inflict all sorts of double entendres on you (and Mr. Boulware) now, but won't. Instead, we'll note that the book's 256 pages focus on the '60s and '70s and include these concepts: Barbarella, hot tubs, water beds, Linda Lovelace, Charlie's Angels, swingers, nudists, topless dancers, and John Holmes. The book release party, complete with go-go dancers and vintage videos, is from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, November 20, at the Hi-Ball Lounge, 473 Broadway.

-- J.M.

Fazio Supremely Unfazed
Former San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Bill Fazio just won't give up on his lawsuit against the city and his former boss, Arlo Smith. Smith fired Fazio the day the latter announced he would run for district attorney -- and against Smith -- in 1995. Fazio sued Smith and the city, alleging they had violated his First Amendment freedoms by firing him for political reasons. (Smith said he fired Fazio when he offered not to run for DA in exchange for a promotion to chief assistant; Fazio has consistently denied the allegation.)

A federal district judge threw out the lawsuit last year, saying Fazio could be fired for political reasons because he was a "policy maker," not just a rank-and-file employee. And a three-judge panel at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

Now, though, Fazio's attorneys have asked for a hearing before the entire 9th Circuit, and if that request is denied, the former top prosecutor says he is prepared to up the ante.

"If we have to go to the Supreme Court, we will," says Fazio, now a criminal defense lawyer in San Francisco. "You can't do this to public employees. You're going to run against your boss, and you get your ass fired because he's a little dictator?


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