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Dog Bites 

Hawaiian Shirts, Expensive Condos, and the Hoochie People

Wednesday, Feb 14 2001
Bidding While Rome Burns

Remember when your high school, desperate to raise morale on days on which the poorly ranked football team had a game, would declare Hawaiian Shirt Day?

It worked really well, didn't it? So well that the Chronicle has been having Hawaiian Shirt Days of its own lately, which, according to one source, started in the paper's business office and spread thence to editorial. Despite the nonstop hilarity that's resulted, some staffers wish Dog Bites to convey to Chron management that they would respond better to the stimulus of Free Food Day.

We think they should bear in mind that things could be worse -- much, much worse. Rumors are swirling at the Fangxaminer, and they're swirling around Editor David Burgin. The troubled publication has been, um, extra troubled since Burgin's arrival; newsroom sources confirm that his "tyrannical" behavior -- red-faced tantrums, abusive tirades, threats of dismissal -- has staffers quailing at their desks. Last week reporters Jamie Casini and Bud Hazelkorn, um, disappeared, and other workers were further demoralized when Operations Manager Chiron Alston, who had been widely respected at all levels of the paper, quit, though he's since returned to consult.

Anyway, at least it's always nice to see the Fangs in a position to give their special pals a plug, and now that our favorite city publishing dynasty has been heavily subsidized in order to do so, its daily paper can even give those plugs in color! We especially liked Friday's front-page Fangxaminer photo of hero of the people Joe O'Donoghue giving the clenched fist salute to -- well, it was hard to know, exactly, since the photo caption read, "Joe O'Donoghue, president of the Residential Builders Association of San Francisco, rallies a crowd of oppo-."

Moments before the photo was taken, according to Johnny Brannon's accompanying story, O'Donoghue had civilly remarked to District 1 Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, "Up yours." Dog Bites, of course, sympathizes with local developers, who are still making the painful adjustment to a less-than-balmy local development climate, but thinks they should look on the bright side. Unlike many caught unaware by the economic downturn, at least they have a convenient target for all their rage and blame: the Board of Supervisors.

Dog Bites, meanwhile, is house shopping. Why not dream big? Over the weekend we had a look at several new condominiums, which according to the ever-so-tasteful, line-drawing-accented spec sheet weren't actually condominiums, but residences -- superior European-inspired residences, which in practical terms means there are way more light switches per room than would seem to be strictly necessary, or even sensible.

Anyway, just because the real estate agents standing snootily around the display suites -- yakking on their cell phones while making it nonverbally clear they wished we would get our Puma-clad feet off the broadloom -- think they can get a million five for a 1,600-square-foot ground-floor two-bedroom now doesn't mean we won't be in the running in a few months when we put in our own bid for, say, $142,600 -- or maybe $142,633, if we can get the DPT to throw out our latest ticket. Considering we could clearly hear the yammer of a radio in the next suite right through the wall of the one we have our eye on, we think that seems pretty fair.

"We've had a lot of interest," one of the agents assured us silkily as we were leaving, despite the fact that we had, demonstrably, been the only visitor in the building for an entire weekend half-hour. Obviously, it wouldn't have been polite for Dog Bites to observe that we live in the neighborhood, spend a significant amount of time staring blankly out the window, and haven't exactly noticed a land rush.

Chilly Downdrafts

We're not sure why there's this constant controversy over the identity of the city's best bartender, when it's so clearly Max at Absinthe. Over a tumblerful of Strega in Hayes Valley Saturday night Dog Bites finally got some of the chill out of our bones; we're trying not to use our electricity-sucking space heater too much, and the result is we haven't been so cold indoors for so long since we lived in London.

The weekend's turbulent skies didn't discourage the Hoochie People, however; they are a hardy breed who insist on showing some skin in any weather, probably because in their heads they are actually backup dancers on the heated sound stage of a Britney Spears video, or cast members of Temptation Island. Dog Bites was sitting in a cafe (OK, it was Starbucks) with a friend when a sudden icy shower struck; the two of us were briefly hypnotized by a woman outside who appeared to have something strange going on with her sandal-clad feet; we stared a moment before we realized they were blue with cold.

Meanwhile, a reader has pointed out Dog Bites' insensitivity to people who feel they are not dressed unless we can see their navels and their cleavage. "Hoochieism is not a disease, but a state of living which hoochies cannot help," writes North Beach's Dr. Habitrail. "Hoochies are healthy people just like you and me; it's just that they don't fit society's fickle definition of taste. Because of this unfair bias, many hoochies are marked for life, unable to take advantage of opportunities that people like you and me take for granted. Please think about these things, and reflect on the difficulties the members of our hoochie community face, the next time you write an article."

Actually, looking at the Olive & Bette's catalog that just arrived in our office mailbox this morning, we believe we can definitely say the hoochie look is continuing strong this spring; therefore, Dr. Habitrail, we cannot consider hoochies to be true members of a disadvantaged class, particularly as so many of them can afford metallic leather garments and fakies. Nice try, though.

Speaking of lines of credit -- transitions like these are why Dog Bites has won the hearts of San Franciscans -- we really do wonder what the increasing numbers of laid-off dot-commers are living on. Reader Im Leviathan, whose company went through serious layoffs in November, thinks those with the least work-force experience are also least likely to take the economic downturn seriously. "The dotcom I work for was in the red with [the younger workers] on the payroll. Now it is in the black," he writes. "I have since gone to a party thrown by one of these kids, and at the party I discovered that only three (out of thirty) had a job. Of those three, one was in his late thirties, one was 30, and one was in his early forties. Not one of the other kids had even started looking."

Youth at risk! If that's not a dummy light on Bush's dashboard, we don't know what is.

Valentine's Day Message Corner

We are sorry the column must devolve into silliness now, but it just wouldn't be Feb. 14 at our office without a marriage proposal. Reader Kevin Ellis writes:

Dear Dog Bites,
I love you, I love you, I love you.
Please consider marrying me, as I am super nice.
Love always,
ps My hobbies include bourbon and Excedrin

Well, Kevin, despite the fact that it sounds as though we have a lot in common, Dog Bites will, regretfully, have to turn you down. But thanks for asking, and if we ever do get those T-shirts printed up, we'll be sure to send you one.

About The Author

Laurel Wellman


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