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Absence of Alice Corey Mason has been easy to spot among the suit-and-tie lunchtime crowd striding around the Embarcadero. Wearing a large summer shade hat and sporting long, braided hair, two weeks ago he tugged a little red wagon around 1 Embarcadero Center, burning incense and playing tapes from his world music radio show. The scents and sounds were directed at, even if they didn't actually reach, the 32nd-floor offices of KLLC-FM (97.3), generally known as "Alice." Sporadically for the last six months, Mason's tugged that wagon to bring attention to a dispute that has stretched out over nearly two years. In January 1997, Mason -- a 41-year-old San Francisco-based teacher and DJ who hosts a three-hour world music show on El Cerrito High School station KECG-FM (88.1) -- heard that Alice was interested in putting together its own world music show. He offered his services to the station. Mason talked with General Manager Steve DiNardo and Program Director Lewis Kaplan. For four months Mason faxed and mailed suggestions, sent his KECG tapes, and suggested playlists, both on paper and in person. Mason claims he was told that he would be given the show; but in July of that year Alice opted to use in-house DJ Webster for a Sunday night world music showcase. That August, a miffed Mason sent Alice a $3,200 invoice for what he calls consulting work done for the station. The bill remains unpaid. In an August 1997 letter to Mason, Kaplan told him that "no final decisions were ever made concerning your participation with the [world music] program. ... I've spoken with many people about the show and its direction." DiNardo emphatically told Riff Raff that while Alice indeed had discussions with Mason, the station "never signed any agreement, nor did we ever have a verbal agreement." This April, Mason went looking for a lawyer; he retained M.J. Bogotin through California Lawyers for the Arts. With Bogotin, Mason put forth a quantum meruit claim, essentially arguing that because he, with Alice's knowledge, walked like a consultant, talked like a consultant, and looked like a consultant, he deserved to be paid like one. Alice's lawyers have ignored him, and declined to comment to Riff Raff about the dispute. Which leaves Mason with two options: take the matter to small-claims court, or continue to protest Alice and hope that public embarrassment might do the trick. Mason is currently pursuing the latter course via Radio Flyer, though he persists in billing the station: His sixth and latest invoice, dated July 21, 1998, ups his fee to $4,400 to include collection efforts, with a note in bold letters that 18 hours of "demonstration" are being provided free of charge. "The reason I'm still walking, in the context of non-response by [Alice]," says Mason, "is that I have not received anything that feels remotely compensatory, in the way of a verbal or written apology, and/or compensation. I'm walking to reintegrate ethics, to support ethical behavior; right conduct, moral conduct." Would a simple apology be enough? "We'll see what kind of apology is offered. It's very possible." (Mark Athitakis)

Bauhaus Fashion Report! The stage is ready, the music cacophonous, the lights black like obsidian beetles. This summer, fashion takes a dark turn! The slow and steady procession of pegged pants, flowing capes, and crushed velvet shirts screams this season's fashion mandate: Black is back! With the reunited -- the resurrected -- Bauhaus on the stage, the models along the aisles of the Warfield rise from the dead with a ghostly pallor. Men, observe the haughty fellow with a 10-inch mohawk, cutting through the crowd like a shark through the dark sea. Dressed in black trousers, a cobalt shirt, and a snug, three-button jacket, he's a ghoul on a mission! Yes it's controversial, but fur is fashionable again. See the saucy young man accentuate five adventurous hair spikes with the hide of what can only be a skinned muskrat, the furry beast's snout at the center of his forehead, the rest of the pelt draped over his skull. Tres incorrect -- but chic! Also, the splash of glam! Here's an androgynous boychick coyly sashaying up ramp No. 2 in a black cut-away shorts jumper. Eat your heart out, Stephen Sprouse. This glamour puss highlights rosy cheeks with a bit of white and a pinch of glitter around those big eyes. He wouldn't, couldn't stop. Ripped fishnet stockings and treacherously towering platform shoes finish with finesse. This season, women command even more outrageous frippery. Jingle, jingle, jingle. That's the sound of wedding bells! Our first lady wears white. From neck to precious ankles a virginal, pristinely white wedding dress is deliciously accented with a quiver of long-stemmed white lilies. Another mistress of the evening, strutting the promenade with all the fiery passion of a young Siouxsie Sioux, looks dashing in black-and-white-striped knee-highs and a calf-length black velvet robe with a golden hood accent. A plus: She sassies up with not one but two of the season's hottest makeup tips. Rat that hair, girls! And instead of penciling in the eyeliner, think bold! Cleopatra never goes out of style. And Cleo's not the only historical presence tonight. Our last catwalk prowler dresses for the Dark Ages. Straight from the Ren Faire, she braids tiny roses into her golden tresses, wears a muslin-inspired flowy dress, and finishes with a breathtaking concession to the '90s, an if-you've-got-the-dungeon-I've-got-the-gear laced vinyl corset. Tres dangerous. The summer of our discontent, indeed! (R.A. & J.S.)

Poetry and Pros For most of us, it's hard to imagine an open-mike poetry reading series lasting more than 10 weeks, much less 10 years, but this month "Poetry Above Paradise" celebrates a full decade of weekly readings. Folks as diverse as actor Sean Penn, journalist Patricia Smith, Spearhead's Michael Franti, and sci-fi pioneer Fritz Leiber have sharpened their skills, if not their wits, on the intimate upstairs stage. Founding MC Jennifer Joseph, publisher and editor of the award-winning Manic D Press, helped launch the careers of local talents Beth Lisick and Justin Chin from this spot and the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour found it an important enough setting for a documentary on the S.F. poetry scene awhile back. On Sunday, Aug. 30, at 8 p.m., beat icon Diane DiPrima reads from her recently released Loba, followed by a fast-paced open reading by anybody with the will to spill at the Paradise Lounge. (S.T.)

Oops This week, a correction and a clarification. First, Riff Raff failed to give credit to writers Markus Naegel and Michael Layne Heath in our item about German magazine Superstar. Sorry, guys. Also, Storyville, which we called a "sleepy jazz club" recently, wrote in to clarify: "The All New Storyville features the best of the new school funk, acid and Latin jazz groups and a tasty selection of the freshest Dee Jays." (J.S.)

Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), Heather Wisner (H.W.), and Bill Wyman (


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