Mulch

Un Junket, S'il Vous Plait?
The Hotel de Crillon is frequented by celebrities, diplomats, and, last week, Mayor Willie Brown, courtesy of his froufrou friends. The Parisian hostelry is, by all accounts, one of the finest in the world.

At three-plus grand a night, it oughta be.
The 18th-century, stone-carved building sits across from the U.S. Embassy and the famed Egyptian obelisk. Travel listings describe the interior as "posh" and "opulent," dripping with references to exquisite paintings, antiques, tapestries, and museum-quality furnishings.

Harp and piano music waft through the lobby, across six kinds of marble lined by mahogany and cherry paneling. The hotel's restaurants serve on fine china and Baccarat crystal, underneath Lalique lamps.

As for the private quarters: "Impeccably decked out in Sonia Rykiel's take on Louis XV style, replete with gilded touches, chintz, silk, and velvet wall coverings and upholstery, chandeliers, and opulent furnishings."

And that's not to mention the marble bathtub, bar, faultless housekeeping, and "honorable management that says, 'Everything can be done on request'." Interestingly enough, although business services are available, the hotel reportedly lacks any formal business center.

Now, keep in mind that this extravagance is not being borne by S.F. taxpayers. Oh no. The Crillon is "comping" the mayor's stay, according to his staff.

Of course, when Parisian Mayor Jean Tiberi comes calling in the sure-to-be-not-so-distant-future, he'll doubtless be given a comparable suite at one of our plus chouette establishments -- which establishment will then doubtless have umpteen chits to call in (say, on an easement or a parking zone) from our newly indebted mayor.

There's no such thing as a free dejeuner.
-- L.D.

Is the Man of the House In?
University of California at San Francisco researchers last week set about surveying more than 5,000 gay and bisexual men of various cultures for the first national study on gay men's health. You read right: the first.

"Many agencies have all kinds of compelling, but anecdotal, data about the numerous health care needs for these populations," says research guru Ron Stall, a UCSF assistant professor of epidemiology and medicine and co-author of the study. "But they have a hard time advocating for them because they don't have hard numbers. Money follows the data. We'll be in a very good position to provide analysis for every organization that tries to serve this population."

Stall is working with Joseph Catania, another UCSF researcher and author of the nation's first study on heterosexual couples. The new research will be collected primarily through random telephone interviews with men who have sex with men. The results are likely to guide new AIDS-prevention efforts. In particular, researchers are targeting African-American and Latino men, who the authors contend have been significantly absent in what little earlier research has been conducted.

-- L.D.

Flying Blind
America West is advertising dirt-cheap airfares between S.F. and Vancouver, Canada -- just $139. The rub: Fares apply only on Nov. 28 and 29 ... over Thanksgiving.

Problem being, Canadian Thanksgiving was last month. So why would expatriate Canadians want to fly home during America's Thanksgiving? And why would San Franciscans want to spend their holiday in a country that's already celebrated it? Naturally, after Thanksgiving (when travelers are more likely to fly), fares rise somewhat. An economy-class ticket: $335. Plus tax.

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