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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Jul 22 1998
Summarize This!
Dog Bites is always looking for ways to help our readers. Well, kind of. But we never thought we'd get a request like this one, faxed anonymously -- and, we notice, untraceably -- to our offices from one of those quickie-print shops.

Thanks for reading Jon Carroll so I don't have to, but frankly, even summaries of his columns make me yawn. Now, if you guys really want to perform a public service for all us City Hall minion types, who would gratefully shower you in return with tips, leaks, and wry observations from the trenches, you would watch City Desk, Viewpoint, SF Politics and -- I know this is asking a lot -- The Kaufman Report so WE DON'T HAVE TO!

You sit through hours of junior Washington Week in Re-view, Bruce Pettit lobbing softball after softball, Arthur Bruzzone pandering to the city's 17 remaining Republicans and ... Babs.

My God! Have you seen that thing? Is there a soul strong enough to endure an entire show? I personally bailed out on the Mark Leno interview right around, "Oh, so you were going to be a rabbi instead of a sign company owner? And then what happened?"

Have mercy! Help us! Please!
Now, Dog Bites wanted to help. Really we did. But when we sat down to watch what we took for one of these televised panel discussions, we got confused. Why did Barbara Kaufman seem to be hawking a revolutionary alpha hydroxy-based skin care system? Where could she have found all those other women with the same eerie ability to smile fixedly and speak at the same time? And why did there seem to be comparatively little discussion of the pressing taxi medallion issue?

After a quarter of an hour of this, and a moment of righteous taxpayer outrage at being asked for a credit-card number, Dog Bites realized that we were in fact watching an infomercial for a facial rejuvenation kit. Unfortunately, This Week in Northern California was already over.

Oh well.

Typing Tips
We have other concerns about City Hall too. Just today we received a copy of a letter Willie Brown sent to Nancy Pelosi, which read in part: "Rep. Frank Riggs has proposed an amendment to the VA-HUD Appropriation bill which would have a devastating effect on my city and it's people."

Now, recent reports in the dailies have suggested that Mayor Brown has perhaps chosen some of his staffers less for their office skills than for their abilities to, say, host Web sites featuring themselves in sultry poses. But we hadn't given any particular credence to these rumors -- until now.

It's? It's? It's? Dog Bites is reduced to growling and frothing at the mouth. The word is "its"!

For the benefit of Mayor Brown's staff and other readers, we would like to suggest that if you are ever in doubt as to which of "its" and "it's" you are looking for, you can always try substituting "it is" in the sentence to see if it makes sense.

And here's another tip: If you make a mistake typing a letter, it's generally considered more professional to retype it than to scribble in the missing word above the sentence in which it's supposed to appear (see below).

Muni Math
As mail continues to trickle in about Dog Bites' proposed Muni complaint department, we note that the formerly ever-so-un-Muni E line has turned into Muni-as-usual. Sure, the cars are still clean and the train positively zips along the tracks. But though it takes no more than seven minutes for the silver bullet to make it from Fourth and King to the Embarcadero station, four days out of five we find ourselves waiting 15 minutes for a train at either end of the line.

Now, given that there are two (and sometimes three) trains on the line, all of which travel an average 28 miles an hour along the approximately one mile of track ... there were many solid reasons behind Dog Bites' decision to major in English.

So all we can say for sure is that there must be a missing variable in the distance, time, and speed formula with which we struggled so tearfully in Grade 8 -- namely M, the Muni variable.

We Are Gracious
The California Newspaper Publishers' Association awards have come and gone, leaving the Weekly with a first place in the sports story category and a second for business reporting. The Guardian, meanwhile, took a first in the editorial comment division, a second in public interest reporting, and second in investigative/enterprise reporting. Dog Bites is also proud to report that the Weekly's sister paper, New Times Los Angeles, took a first in the feature story competition and a first in investigative reporting.

And Dog Bites would like to suggest a new category for the contest: the single sentence. Our first nominee comes from Manny Fernandez's story in Monday's Chronicle, which was headlined "San Jose Police Check Report of Birthing in Car Left at Shop":

"About 10 a.m. yesterday, a person with a high-powered telescope observed a woman giving birth inside a four-door tan 1966 Chevrolet Nova parked in an isolated area of Hellyer Avenue just east of Highway 101, police said."

Not a wasted word, is there? But what has us really intrigued is the "person with a high-powered telescope." Residents of the area may wish to invest in heavy drapes.

Catalog of Horrors
Inexplicably, Dog Bites' home mail this week included a copy of the A&F Quarterly -- which, for the layperson, is the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog dressed up with a whole lot of cheesy copy apparently aimed at the young man heading off to college hoping to get laid.

The loathsome 220-page paean to conformity includes a guide to such mixed drinks as the Brain Hemorrhage and the Dirty Girl Scout Cookie, tips on dorm-room decor, and an ABC of college life that begins "A: Abercrombie Wardrobe. B: Buff Bod. C: Condoms in ample supply."

Of course, our favorite sections are tips on how to be cool in San Francisco, which rely heavily on the adjectives "hot" and "swank," and the word "score" used as a verb. "Get thee to Haight-Ashbury," the Quarterly advises, "it's a bit out of control."

The highlight is an unreadably bad Jack Kerouac knockoff featuring two overprivileged boys named Cade and Nate (who aspires to be a consultant and be surrounded by "hotties") driving out to California from ... Brigham Young University. "I've been trying to grow a goatee/soul patch thing in time for our arrival in San Francisco. Still pretty sparse -- peach fuzzy," writes Nate, whose real-life road-trip diary this apparently is.

The two visit "downtown San Fran" and find "beatniks" in Vesuvio. The highlight of their walk on the wild side: sneaking onto the Pebble Beach Golf Links at dusk and playing a hole. Who says kids today don't have fire in their bellies?

As told to Laurel Wellman

Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail

About The Author

Laurel Wellman


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