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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Jun 30 1999
An Item and a Half, Plus a Cat
Well, it isn't Sophocles, but it'll have to do.
-- Xena, Warrior Princess

It's been one of those odd mail weeks. Correspondent M.J. Faber confesses, "I seem to be drawn most especially to those columns involving any mention of Jon Carroll. You know he thinks you're cute."

Cute? We'd like to muster up some serious disgruntlement. Really, we would. But ever since being carded -- carded! -- this past week, we have been in what is, no doubt, a completely unwarranted good mood.

Which is probably just as well. Regurgitating bile week in and week out to feed the demanding nestlings of our reading public just can't be good for our immortal soul.

In fact, not only is the venom that goes into writing this column damaging our psyche, it's also, apparently, responsible for this whole gender-confusion thing -- which we may finally be sorting out, thanks to Alan Watters of Sacramento, who sent us this sweet note: "Regarding your gender, I must confess that I, too, mistakenly visualize the author of Dog Bites as a man, or, more precisely, hear your voice as male. I think it is the vigorous, aggressive connotations of 'dog bites' that makes me feel thus. I am surprised to find myself guilty of being such a sexist oinker, for some time back I had noted that the 'Dog Bites' column is penned by Laurel Wellman" -- and here's the good part -- "a lovely, liltingly feminine name. Apparently, sexist stereotypes yet lurk in the mind of this fortyish, queer, post-feminist male reader."

Now, before we continue on our lilting way (the adjective, weirdly, makes us feel like the Morton Salt girl), we note that we inherited the name of the column, and that our efforts to change it have failed utterly. Couldn't we be, say, a cuter animal? One that wouldn't inspire constant reader Carl Morfeld to fax us, "If you're ever a mother, can I have one of the puppies?"

No, we've been told on the name change. Repeatedly. So it's fortunate that another career opportunity has presented itself: In the kind of bold and unprecedented move for which Muni management is noted, the city's transit agency has announced that, as part of its all-out effort to address a service problem, it's going to hire more drivers.

Finally, we have our chance to be part of the solution. Or -- wait. If you work for Muni, doesn't that make you part of the problem? Oh, hell. We've done enough soul-searching for one week: Drivers start at $14 an hour!

And as we all know, one of the most attractive benefits offered by the troubled agency is its ultra-lenient personal-day policy, which should make it possible for us to continue working at SF Weekly while pulling down the occasional shift on the 4 Sutter, whose schedule, luckily, is already so erratic that we doubt anyone would miss the odd bus.

And chances are no one would miss us around here, either, except maybe Kevin "Nestor Makhno" Keating, who would have to content himself with talking to our voice mail. We could come in, pick up our messages, and be back behind the wheel of the bus before the putative transit-riders had done anything more than shuffle their feet resignedly, like would-be beet-buyers in the former Soviet Union

Anyway, the proletariat are resourceful: As Mayor Brown assured the television cameras before the Pride Parade and the X Games closed half the streets in the city grid this weekend, "People find ways to get around." Sure! We've found motorcades work really well!

The best part of this writing/driving arrangement would be the way it would finally provide this column with a focus. In fact, a strong argument might then be made in favor of giving it a new name. And most importantly, we'd finally, finally be able to realize our long-cherished goal of mounting a serious challenge to the Night Cabbie's supremacy.

The Last-Ever Terilyn Joe Item
Yet more e-mail has rolled in over the burning Terilyn Joe issue; Dog Bites only hopes the doubtless harmless newscaster is unaware of the maelstrom of controversy of which she is the center. One reader went so far as to send a detailed expose of something he terms the "Cockroach New World Order," which was explained to him by his bartender:

Deep beneath the streets of our fair city lives a breed of insect on the verge of a complete global takeover. They communicate via low-frequency signals which can only be heard while playing Black Sabbath at amazingly high volumes. Being the skeptic that I am, I immediately asked what this had to do with Ms. Joe. As he poured precious brown liquid into my glass he told me that once, many years ago, while walking on Van Ness at California, he nearly stepped on a cockroach which was literally the size of a small Great Dane. Now, he'd lived in NYC and was used to larger-than-life insects, he explained, but what made this one different was its absolutely perfect hairdo. Of course we all know, as God-fearing citizens, that cockroaches don't have hair, I screamed at him over the blaring Ozzy vocals flooding out of the jukebox. In that instant I heard something odd, a low-pitched sound which at first sounded like nothing more than gibberish, but soon it became clear that gibberish it was not.

It was the voice of Terilyn Joe. She wasn't talking about the awful Bay Bridge traffic or the latest Willie Brown fiasco -- she was barking out orders. Orders which I presume were meant for these gigantic cockroaches living just below the soles of our feet. I looked up at the bartender and I knew he had heard it as well.

Chilling as this little story may be, we think it's awfully reminiscent of the movie Mimic -- although, as Dog Bites was distracted by a really great bracelet Mira Sorvino was wearing ("detail-oriented," SF Weekly management generously terms this character trait), we may have missed some crucial plot points. Still, we were nevertheless terrified when we later had to walk to Walgreens alone, and wish the above correspondent all possible success in his screenwriting career.

Now, can we please just let Terilyn enjoy her hair in peace?

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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