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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Oct 28 1998
Dan Lungren in Universal Soldier!
If Matt Fong's $50,000 donation to the Coalition for Traditional Values was bad news for his Senate campaign, just think how gubernatorial hopeful Dan Lungren must be feeling.

Dog Bites was impressed by Lungren's weekend appearance at a western-themed Republican rally in Oak Grove with Gov. Pete Wilson -- not because Lungren spoke especially well but because he spoke while wearing a white Stetson hat. Oddly enough, this headgear improved his otherwise unfortunately weasellike appearance immeasurably. We think Lungren should consider making the hat a permanent addition to his wardrobe, a sort of signature accessory.

Because he obviously has some sort of recognition problem. Otherwise, how can we explain the fact that last Sunday's Chronex ran a pre-election analysis that, in the headline and throughout the story, referred to Dan Lungren as Dolph Lungren?

After self-described "devoted" Dog Bites reader Robert Berend pointed out this bizarre slip, we checked our recycling pile and found the article in question: "Forget the Dolph and Gray Show, Check Out the Little Guys," by Chronicle Sacramento Bureau reporter Greg Lucas. In fact, Lucas even describes Lungren as an "aptly named" "bold crimefighter."

Um, Greg: Swedish kickboxer-turned-action-movie-star Dolph Lundgren is not running for governor, although his candidacy would have made for some interesting press conferences, and we can see how things could get so hot and dull in Sacramento that a reporter might succumb to wishful thinking, and all that.

As the Twig Is Bent
Around here, we've always held the view that nature is an escape from the hell of culture. So Dog Bites is taking the news of the criminal trees of 24th Street hard.

It turns out the 160 or so mature Ficus benjamina that line the street as it runs through the Mission have been accused of "aiding crime," mostly by blocking streetlights with their thick foliage, and also by buckling sidewalk paving with their roots. (How the latter contributes to criminal activity hasn't been explained -- are the trees tripping pedestrians and then mugging them while they're trying to struggle back to their feet?)

Anyway, some neighbors want the city to cut down all the trees and replace them with more tractable saplings, which would be raised with strict values and not allowed to become too leafy.

"It's beyond bizarre," says Supervisor Leslie Katz, who's nevertheless happy to report that a compromise has been reached and that only about 20 trees -- presumably the most hardened -- will be cut down.

Burrito Wars II
It had been awhile since we heard from Redwood City civic booster Paul Mendelowitz, but last week's mention of the Los Gallos Taqueria was enough to bring him out of his self-imposed retirement and leave us a voice mail. "We have sushi restaurants, Chinese restaurants, we have a Turkish place," said Mr. Mendelowitz. "Go by some of Redwood City's many other restaurants."

Meanwhile, ABurritos! authors Derek Wilson and David Thomsen seem to be doing a little backpedaling from their original, hard-line, pro-Los Gallos position. Following some particularly transparent sucking up to Dog Bites ("You secured your burrito credentials, in our minds, by noticing [Los Gallos'] incredible salsa") the two go on to plead exhaustion: "After sampling as many as seven burritos per day at times, we might have lost track of a few superlatives when it came time to write."

Anyway, the authors say, "Praise for Los Gallos wasn't necessarily intended to overshadow the Mission's best."

Hmph. We say a snub is a snub.

Books Lite
It's not every book that can compete for retail shelf space with cakes of handmade soap, floating candles, and miniature plug-in fountains. So Dog Bites -- struggling against the onset of stroller road rage on the sidewalks of Berkeley's Fourth Street -- was kind of impressed to realize that, right here in San Francisco, Chronicle Books is producing titles that do just that.

Stacked next to the galvanized wire cachepots -- just past the bins of amaryllis bulbs, the Burt's Bees hand cream, the rustic birdhouses, and the henna-patterned paper lamps -- titles like A Perfect Glass of Wine and Piggybanks are as tempting to the dedicated consumer as the generally useless accouterments they document.

In fact, Dog Bites was so overwhelmed by the sheer variety of useless volumes on offer that we will send the first reader to correctly choose the actual Chronicle Books titles from the following list a copy of Big Sur to Big Basin: California's Dramatic Central Coast (Chronicle Books), which is just sitting around here anyway. Good luck, and e-mail answers to

En Route: Label Art From the Golden Age of Air Travel
Get Your Kicks: Vintage Motel Signs of the Southwest
Classic Barware
Cigar Box Labels
The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic
TV Dinners and Tray Tables: Con-venience Food of the 1950s
The Art of the Bath
Adam and Eve on a Raft: Diner Menu Illustrations of the 1940s
Paper Umbrellas: Classic Tropical Drinks
The Terry Towel Robe: A Celebration
Hi-Fi's and Hi-Balls: The Golden Age of the American Bachelor

Outsourcing the Disgruntlement
We are pleased to announce the first official Dog Bites contractor, John Would. John, like several of our correspondents, has suggestions for us on a regular basis. Recently he wrote, "Just read today's column, and I must regretfully say I am somewhat disgruntled by your lack of disgruntlement. What gives?"

Of course, this is the kind of thing that makes us want to say, "Hey, if writing a column every week is so easy, why don't you do it?"

So we're going to let John help out. Specifically, John has been wanting us to make fun of Chron columnist Ken Garcia -- "That stiff-necked asswipe really chaps my hide!" -- and, when we didn't adopt his suggestion immediately, jumped in there himself with summaries of recent Garcia columns:

"Thursday: I am God! I am moral. There's a judge with the same last name as me, and he's great!

"Yesterday: The homeless shouldn't get free shopping carts, and Safeway shouldn't get tax breaks for giving them carts. It just isn't right."

As a Dog Bites contractor, John is entitled to be disgruntled, especially about stuff he reads in the Chron, and to send us e-mails detailing his disgruntlement, which we may or may not publish. However, he does not get to use the SF Weekly bathrooms, which are for staff only.

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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