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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Dec 23 1998
Celebrity Skin
Dining last week at MoMo's -- and what a phrase that is with which to begin our column! -- our favorite little slice of L.A. right here in SOMA, Dog Bites glanced up from our beet salad only to be transfixed by the sight of some really great lipstick. Unfortunately, it was on the lips of a woman at another table, and we just didn't feel comfortable walking up to her and asking her what brand it was. So we shot surreptitious glances her way, wondering: M*A*C? Chanel? Stila? until nudged in the ribs by a tablemate. "That's Don Johnson," she said.

"Right there."
Oh. Johnson, whose Nash Bridges has just been named the third-worst show on television by Entertainment Weekly, was sitting next to the woman with the great lipstick. Dog Bites, who has always thought Johnson's skin looks weird on TV, was perturbed to realize that it looks even weirder in person: shiny and crepey at the same time. Quelle horreure.

But it doesn't seem to bother anyone else. Though EW snipes ("All [Johnson] is doing is coasting and grinning along with pal Cheech Marin through a series of sub-Matlock crime plots"), it seems Nash Bridges is the ratings winner in its time slot.

Another tablemate returned to report that a business-suited man in the bathroom was hogging the pay phone. "I'm at MoMo's! Don Johnson's here!" the man was repeating, in tones of keening excitement familiar to owners of small high-strung dogs. "I'm going to stay here until he comes into the bathroom, and then I'm going to get his autograph!"

Sadly, the Johnson entourage rose and departed before Don could make use of the facilities.

"Should someone go tell the guy in the bathroom?" we wondered.
The consensus: No.

Save the SUVs!
Last week's column made lots of people mad, including Steven Appleton, who complains that -- among other things -- Dog Bites gave Nestor Makhno a "bully pulpit."

"While Mr. Makhno may be a clean-cut gentleman (your words), his pseudo-intellectual proclamations reveal, more importantly, that he is first and foremost a bigot. ... I suppose his rantings would be less acceptable if they targeted 'niggers,' 'Jews' or some other hated group of people. ... So what if I'm a white man who works downtown, does that automatically make me an oppressor of people and exempt me from the civil rights this country is based on?"

One N. Qwis -- a somewhat defensive SUV owner -- is kinder, writing, "Thank you, Dog Bites, for your provocative column. It is a pleasant change to read actual journalism in this city." But he or she also notes, "I am not quite the soft-underbellied yuppie scum that I might appear to be, and I am prepared to fight for what I have earned. If hit, I will hit back, hard."

Yikes! And these people are getting organized, too: Someone faxed us the Sport Utility Vehicle Proliferation Fellowship Manifesto. We reproduce some, uh, highlights of this document below:

* We order all parking lots in San Francisco have the spaces widened so that our SUV, a double baby stroller, a black lab and a fanny pack NEVER come into contact with any person other than fellow SUV people.

* All San Francisco businesses shall be converted to drive-throughs, so that we will not have to LEAVE our climate-controlled chambers, thus eliminating the possibility of having to engage in interaction with people outside the realm of our socio-economic sphere.

* We command that people shall not give us dirty looks UNTIL our car alarms have gone off for the fifth time instead of the usual two times.

A Course That Teaches You to Sit Around the House All Day in Your Bathrobe?
OK, it was really hard to think of a way to end that last item. But we're looking forward to making a huge breakthrough in our reporting and writing skills, and we're going to do it the good old-fashioned, up-by-the-bootstraps, Horatio Alger way: night school.

Hanging around those free-standing paper boxes the mayor hates so much, we were thrilled to discover that the Learning Annex is offering a course that will finally allow Dog Bites to become the column that, deep down in our underachieving hearts, we know it could be. It's "How to Succeed as a Writer" with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll.

Reading further (Muni was late) we learned, "Popular San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll's legion of loyal readers turn to the back page each day to be amused, informed or outraged by his razor-sharp observations."

The course synopsis also promises Jon will "tell you how he gets his ideas," a point in the lecture at which we in particular plan to take lots of notes.

Of course, we're trying not to get our expectations up too high. But that's kind of hard when you read a sentence like, "Whether you're an experienced writer or an aspiring one, Jon's unique, humorous take on life and his own dedication to the craft of writing will inspire you to write as you never have before!"

The course isn't till Feb. 11, and quite honestly it's going to be tough to wait that long. But we've already gotten the OK to expense the $39 it costs.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!

Uh Oh! Ken's Off His Meds Again!
It seems our John Would's Ken Garcia summaries haven't gone unnoticed. Every month we receive a complimentary copy of San Francisco magazine here at the office -- which is lucky, because we wouldn't otherwise have much information on "premier communities for active adults."

Anyway, the January issue touts "The New Power List," on which is included Ken Garcia himself; his vast influence is even credited with "nixing" (the perfect city magazine word, isn't it?) the $500 million Laguna Honda Hospital bond. Well, uh, not exactly. "There are a lot of fights to fight," notes Garcia, with manly understatement.

The slathering blurb does, however, manage to admit, "His occasional yawner columns are easy targets for the alternative weeklies." Weeklies? Plural? Hmph! Let's give credit where credit is due: to the beleaguered John Would.

"The Garcia cycle has been engulfed in chaos," Would writes this week. "However, given the many strange events of the past week -- the unseasonably warm weather, followed by unseasonably cool weather, not to mention the impeachment of our President, the resignation of House Speaker Livingston, the bombs falling on Iraq, the snow falling on San Francisco, and, most bizarre of all, the 49ers losing a football game to a man named Zolak -- it is clear that the very fabric of the universe is coming apart, and that Ken, ever the sensitive one, has fallen out of sync and is suffering tremendously."

Nevertheless, Garcia pulled himself together and wrote three columns this past week:

"Tuesday, Dec. 15: Dear Planning Commission: Just as I predicted, you bastards voted against me. Oh, but you'll get yours. I can feel it. Does it seem a bit warmer than it should be today? That's the breath of hell on your necks.

"Thursday, Dec. 17: Oh no, Muni chief Emilio Cruz has jumped ship. Good old E-man. Why didn't he take me with him?

"Saturday, Dec. 19: Impeach the Republicans. Drop Clinton on Iraq. The voices! The voices! Will someone please make them stop?"

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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