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Mayoral Web 

Wednesday, Oct 11 1995
Decades of liberal centrism have wedged this year's mayoral crop into a narrow political bandwidth in which -- surprise, surprise! -- the strongest rhetoric the challengers to Mayor Frank Jordan can muster is that we need a change.

Willie Brown is coasting on his lead, expending more energy on avoiding gaffes typified by his Treasure Island casino idiocy than on saying something interesting. Angela Alioto, once a big backer of the screwball scheme to municipalize Pacific Gas and Electric, has blitzed to the center, too. Instead of hyping the transformation of PG&E into SFG&E (which would graft the inefficiencies of socialism onto the brutality of oligopoly), Alioto obsesses on reclaiming the PG&E franchise fees. Even Roberta Achtenberg's oratory about reinventing government and her threats to oust the unpopular chief of police have failed to test the boundaries of the current political consensus.

It wasn't that way in campaign '91. Mayor Art Agnos successfully painted Jordan as a knuckle-dragging mossback, offering the voters a real choice in which they rejected the liberal. One measure of the timidity and centrism of this year's campaign is that the challengers have been so soft on Jordan that he hasn't had to move a political inch to join them in the center. (Perhaps Jordan could boost his ratings in the polls by encouraging more vociferous attacks.)

The result of all this moderation has been a campaign for milquetoasts, but that will change on Oct. 16, when the boys and girls of Might magazine and the webslingers behind the World Sports & Events Now site debut the most stimulating and slanderous mayoral forum of the campaign: Electomatic.

Electomatic ( heaves a stinking dead cat into the political temple. It fuses scrupulous research, high innuendo, and pure fabrication into a pugnacious home page about the mayoral campaign, and while it might not be the most accurate chronicle of the fall political season, it certainly is the truest.

Electomatic's wisdom informs the Willie Brown page with this fictive campaign bio:

"Highlights of Brown's legislative acumen include: The 1975 Consenting Adults Act, which made it a law that only consenting adults were permitted to witness pre-teen sex acts; the 1977 Morons' Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination against nuclear physicists based on mental disabilities; and the Tee Time Act of 1980, which prohibited vomiting on the first tee of municipal golf courses."

Putting words into Brown's mouth, Electomatic has him proposing a tax of $2,000 on the family members of people who commit suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge. "It's just not fair that we have the most popular and scenic suicide site in the world, and don't get shit for it," the candidate is "quoted."

Also revealed for the first time are the names that Frank rejected for his homeless program before he settled on Matrix: "Starflux," "Galacticus X," "Cylon Rex," "Nekron 4," "Defcon 5" -- and, my personal favorite, "Get off my street you filthy pigdogs! Please!"

The leading candidates have their own Q&A columns on Electomatic, too. Alioto dispenses love advice. (Q: "I'm dating this guy who is charming, apparently wealthy, and generous, but my friends says he's a no-good con man who's taking me ... for all I'm worth. ... Any thoughts?" Angela: "I, too, had the pants charmed off of me by a guy who turned out to be NG. Between you and me, all you have to do to protect your reputation is deny, deny, DENY.") Frank offers decorating tips. ("Sometimes my wife Wendy and I just love to waste away our days, thinking about color schemes and light combinations.") And in "Ask Roberta!" the robotic former HUD bureaucrat comes off as a ... robotic former HUD bureaucrat. (Q: "What do you think of the results of Mayor Jordan's Matrix program?" Roberta: "Listen, how am I supposed to keep up with all the nitty-gritty about your little Matrix thingy when I've been in Washington, D.C., dealing with major housing issues, like finding homes for the victims of the L.A. earthquake? Sometimes I wonder about the priorities in this city!")

For voters unable to sleep, Electomatic has posted a genuine position paper from each candidate and created links to the candidates' own home pages.

What's in it for Electomatic's producers and programmers? The Mighty ones were paid for constructing jests that stretch the fabric of Times vs. Sullivan; the World Sports & Events folks get an opportunity to showcase their skills at programming and demonstrate the commercial viability of event-oriented Web sites. You get to laugh your ass off in front of your computer.

The most stunning stuff Electomatic has to offer can't be revealed before the launch date. Let's just say that the Might scalawags have engaged in highly unorthodox campaign volunteering and financing.

To prove that they have at least as good a sense of humor as the voters, all the candidates have tentatively agreed to visit the Might/Electomatic party at Club 181 at Eddy and Taylor on Oct. 18 between 8:45 and 10 p.m. Let's hope that the candidates attend and accept a few drinks, if only to medicate the lumps they've taken.

About The Author

Jack Shafer


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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

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