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Of Asterisks and Small Pols 

When the city government tries to play satire police with the press, everyone with a sense of humor -- and a belief in the Constitution -- should be concerned

Wednesday, Oct 27 2004

Page 3 of 4

I will apologize not just for the elements of Siegler's cartoon that reference Latinos, but for each and every derogatory element in the strip. (To avoid repeating the elements that have been deemed racially offensive, I will use strategically placed asterisks.)

As I said, the tiny pols don't have to do a thing. They can just continue pretending to be unable to recognize satire and irony when they read it.

Got it? Great. Here goes.

SF Weekly is now officially ever so sorry and offers abject and ever so sincere apologies to all of the following Mission District denizens:

Cell phone yuppies; mapless tourists; strung out junkies; wigged out crackheads; old school L*****s; young hip L*****s; STD laden ho bags; smooth talking pimps; washed up johns; religious pamphleteers; 99 cent shopkeepers; parole violators; N*****o gangbangers; S****o gangbangers; freelance gangbangers; young v**o l***s; beat l**o c****s; no hablo espanolos; drunken hooligans (I***h); drunken hooligans (Regular); Neanderthal frat boys; tacky thong wearing skanks; sleazy ass drug dealers; lunatic pigeon feeders; Che Guevara revolutionaries; schizophrenic wackjobs; plastic bagged A***n ladies; soccer playing school skippers; Hunter S. Thompson wannabes; SF Weekly cartoonists; bitchy Marina invaders; white dot-com leftovers; geriatric t****e sellers; wandering m*******s; pregnant t******e M******s; and all others.

Again, and to repeat: We're ever so sorry we ever made fun of Mayor Newsom, Tom Ammiano, the Human Rights Commission, and anyone who ever inhabited the Mission District, and we promise to never, ever do anything like that again.

There. One political teapot-tempest peacefully resolved.

Or, as Porky Pig might say, "Th-th-th-th-that's all, folks!"

What Is That Smell?

Unless I feel there is no choice, I lay off writing about the San Francisco Bay Guardian, because when you tell the truth about fraudulent bullshit artists marching in ideological lock step, they become angry and stir up even larger clouds of bovine stink than usual. When that happens, you may have to respond again. Inevitably, some small hint of Guardian-smell attaches to you.

Responding to every puff from the Guardian's fear-driven stink shop would be a Sisyphean task. With Carville, Begala, and Stephanopolous at my side, I wouldn't have time to run a war room against Guardian ravings and still have SF Weekly put out the quality journalism it is known for.

So I've developed a strategy: occasional retaliation, or "OR." When an oozing, stinking berm of Guardianista BS reaches a certain level, I take the OR power-washer of truth to it. If undertaken only occasionally, at the proper time, at no great length, and with a spoonful-of-sugar attitude, such cleansing of the public forum can almost be entertaining.

Now is a proper time.

Of late, you may have noticed (or been unable to avoid) some elements of a smelly BS-offensive emanating from Brugmann-land (or would that be Brugmania?). As usual, in this offensive, the Guardianistas have depicted SF Weekly and its parent company, New Times, as conscienceless violators of all norms of civil society. Think of Col. Gen. Grubozaboyschikov of SMERSH in the old James Bond novels, crossed with John D. Rockefeller, Osama bin Laden, and the grand vizier of the Ku Klux Klan, and you've got an understated notion of the Guardian's take on New Times.

Among other efforts, the Guardian's stink-attack has included numerous, voluminous, widely distributed, and poorly written Brugmann e-mails claiming SF Weekly is pro-Iraq War, even though our lead news columnist, Matt Smith, and I have both opined repeatedly over many, many months against the war and George Bush. Then there was the long-shot labor lawsuit, filed against New Times in Ohio, that Guardian editor Tim Redmond apparently felt had extraordinary meaning to San Franciscans. Also, the Guardian recently implied, SF Weekly had put itself in league with the Satans of downtown business by misbooking what was believed to be a public service ad.

As is usually the case, this SFBG smell-offensive contained huge doses of distortion, some outright falsehood, and very little truth.

But you knew that. You're smart enough to live in San Francisco and to read SF Weekly.

Last week, though, the Guardian put a capper of sorts to this phase of its silly offensive, filing a lawsuit against New Times, alleging that SF Weekly and our sister publication, the East Bay Express (to quote the Guardian itself), "had illegally sold advertising below cost in an effort to put the family-owned Bay Guardian out of business."

The lawsuit essentially restates claims the Guardianistas made in a letter their lawyer sent to us in the winter of 2002. Back then, I wrote a column (, if you want to look it up) that was headlined "It's the Journalism, Bruce." The column noted that, indeed, the Weekly had caught up to and sprinted right past the Guardian, in part because the Weekly was just so much the better publication, in every journalistic way. But the column also suggested that many of the Guardian's wounds were self-inflicted.

I am not intimately involved in the business operations of SF Weekly. After years of enduring it, however, I think I know enough about the smell of Guardian bullshit to be pretty sure the same analysis of that newspaper's problems is applicable now.

So, Bruce, listen up. I don't want to have to say this again:

If you bore readers to tears for decades with the dullest, least believable, and most intellectually insulting old-left claptrap this side of North Korea, intelligent people might stop taking your publication seriously, and your staff might then find it hard to sell ads. And if you pursue idiotic business practices that include extending insane discounts to advertisers and giving away tens of thousands of dollars in political advertising, eventually you might have some problems balancing your checkbook.

For nine years, Bruce Brugmann has tried -- through the flagrant misuse of his newspaper's editorial content, via a wide-ranging guerrilla-marketing campaign, and in many other ways -- to convince San Francisco of the dangerous evil that a New Times-owned SF Weekly represents. Over that time, SF Weekly has sailed ahead, and the Bay Guardian has foundered.

About The Author

John Mecklin


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