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Dog Bites 

Just a Freight Train Coming Your Way; On the Waterfront

Wednesday, Mar 22 2000
Just a Freight Train Coming Your Way
KSAN's March 13 format change to "classic rock that really rocks" is, in our opinion, refreshing -- something that, as a sulky, burgundy-haired 19-year-old, Dog Bites would never have imagined saying about Def Leppard, but these are strange days.

There you are, stuck in traffic, picking through your presets because you just can't listen to Fiona Amos or Lit 182 even one more time, when you hear the opening bars of "Hell's Bells" and your heart gives a little leap and you think, Hey, I can listen to this in my car, where nobody else will ever find out about my moments of unregenerate musical trashiness, especially since I have all those Cuban CDs at home, and you happily turn the radio way up. And if you happen to be crawling up Third Street with your window rolled down and you pass a little knot of dot-conformists standing on the sidewalk in their platform shoes and leather pants, hee-heeing smugly about who knows what -- probably some guy they know who's such a loser he only has a Palm III -- and they hear what's on your stereo, they will pause and look at you and then each other, and their tiny, BeneFit "Waif"-painted lips will curl, and you can give them a big smile.

We particularly like the way the station, now renamed "The Bone," was giving away "family packs" of Kiss tickets for the show at the Oakland Arena; just picturing the outing -- little tykes in their junior mullets and oversized Stone Cold Steve Austin T-shirts, accompanied by Mom in tank top and lots of gold chains (weirdly enough, the precursor version of the look Vogue is pushing this season) and mustachioed Dad in a polo shirt worn untucked over his relaxed-fit Levi's -- gives us hope there are at least pockets of resistance to mizuma culture, even here in the Bay Area.

Oh well. Actually, the high point of much of our recent radio listening has been the Metallica single "No Leaf Clover," which is on Live 105, like, eight times a day, because the thing about Metallica is that the band has conviction, and it is our opinion, this week at least, that ironic posing doesn't really work in rock music.

Of course, even better than conviction, "No Leaf Clover" has an oboe solo. The single was recorded last year at a Berkeley concert the band played with the San Francisco Symphony, so after only a dozen or so phone calls Dog Bites was actually talking to the soloist. He's Evgeny Izotov, associate principal oboist of the symphony and, at 26, its youngest member; what we wanted to know was whether, back when he chose the oboe as his instrument, he'd ever expected to have a single in heavy rotation. "Well, right after we recorded it, some guy was there from a newspaper, and he asked me if it was the high point of my career," said Izotov. "I told him, 'Well, it's not the high point of my career, but it's the high point of my heavy metal career.'"

Izotov, it emerged, had liked Metallica even before he performed with the band. "I'm from Russia," he said. "When I was 12 it was hard to get records in Moscow. Somebody gave me a mix tape, and it was just a terrible quality tape, just awful, but one of the bands on the tape was Metallica. So it was one of my first tastes of rock music." And, he noted, the concert was "very cool -- there was Lars sitting right in front of me. [The band members] have this evil look sometimes when they're onstage, but they're very warm, very friendly, very professional."

The charming Mr. Izotov -- who made what the Chronicle's Joshua Kosman called a "knockout debut" as a soloist with the symphony just this weekend, playing the Mozart Oboe Concerto "as though the ink were still wet on the pages" -- has no patience with musical snobbery.

"It's like the television show Frasier -- there's this guy who spends $400 on champagne and caviar and Cecilia Bartolli tickets," he said. "It's this circle of people that doesn't exist, and that's bullshit. What we do is not different than what Metallica does. We're musicians, we're expressing ourselves. It's rock 'n' roll, it's heavy metal, it's classical."

In fact, we got the definite impression Izotov feels most kinds of music could be improved with a little oboe in the mix. "I like to think about it in terms of food," he explained. "The violin section is like vanilla ice cream -- it tastes really good, it's wonderful, but it's not really sexy. But if you put a garnish on it, one thing that makes it taste really great -- that's the oboe solo in the orchestral repertoire."

On the Waterfront
Standing in line at the supermarket with our Rice Dream, Smart Water, and Omega 3-enriched toaster waffles, Dog Bites noticed the latest issue of Sunset sporting the cover line "Discover the New San Francisco." God! There's a new San Francisco? Again?

Well, we figured we could expense the magazine -- plus, you know, we can always use another recipe for hollandaise sauce -- so we bought it and rushed right home. And it turned out that the new San Francisco is now virtually right outside our office door, or, as writer Jeff Phillips put it, "You can almost feel the city's center of gravity shifting south from Union Square and the financial district."

Of course, here in vibrant SOMA, where on almost every block neatly laser-printed paper signs taped to the doors of renovated office spaces announce the world headquarters of, say,, Dog Bites is used to feeling behind the times -- we mean, how can Vamp lipstick be retro already? But the main focus of Sunset's story was a paean to the waterfront redevelopment exemplified by Pacific Bell Park, which Phillips describes as he strolls toward Fisherman's Wharf. "It's a short walk from the harbor north to the trendy Town's End Restaurant, which serves up the best breakfast along the waterfront," he writes. "After a heaping plate of potatoes and scrambled eggs with salmon, I continue north up the promenade, admiring viewscapes between the piers."

Boy, does that sound great. In fact, it sounds like exactly the kind of weekend morning Dog Bites always thinks we'll have, except that in the event we're always doing laundry or cleaning the bathroom or something instead. Still, we hope Sunset's readers make the drive up here from Atherton or wherever soon, because, well, in a couple more years there won't be many "viewscapes" to admire: Piers 30 and 32 are going to become a new cruise ship terminal/hotel/shopping center/office/time-share apartment complex, while the new Rincon Park, which Dog Bites had thought was supposed to be, um, a park, will now include two large restaurants and a 60-foot-high sculpture. "At one of these meetings I attended, a representative of the Port Commission said it would be more accurate to call [the park] 'landscaping for the restaurants,'" says the SOMA Residents' Association's Jim Meko.

Meanwhile, Dave Osgoode, a member of the Rincon Center Tenant's Association, is increasingly pessimistic. "We're losing the only two open spaces south of the Ferry Building," he says. "The city is clearly making it easy for [developers] to do whatever they want to do."

Hmph. Well, Dog Bites is, of course, completely shocked by the suggestion that Willie Brown would give away the entire waterfront -- especially since the citizens themselves voted to keep it accessible -- just to attract a few more businesses to town, as though he were some sort of small-town Chamber of Commerce president. Still, just to be on the safe side, we may take Sunset up on its predictable boosterism, and go for a walk today.

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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