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Slap Shots 

Wednesday, Jul 2 1997
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Fare Thee Well, Gentle Might
Publishing circles are abuzz over the newest press release from Might magazine, co-edited since its inception by Smarter Feller! comic artist Dave Eggers. In a jokey yet oddly serious missive titled "God to Might Magazine: 'Raise $1.4 Million, or I Will Call You Home,' " staffers of the 4-year-old San Francisco publication report they were approached by God while on a group retreat and given an ultimatum -- either secure investment capital within 33 days, or watch as the Almighty pulls the plug.

Pulling the plug on Might would mean yet another first-rate magazine disappearing from the newsstands, cursed for being humorous and reader-friendly in the fickle world of consumer-oriented publishing, where humor and reader-friendliness most often are the last attributes to gain consideration. In only a few years, Might has achieved some success -- a steady advertising base, 40,000 circulation, two book offshoots, and legions of fans and fawning critics. Among the magazine's smart, memorable contributions have been a recurring fictitious table of contents, a page of one-sentence record reviews, a standing offer to provide journalists with snappy quotes for any article about Generation X, and an unforgettable hoax cover story ("Fare Thee Well, Gentle Friend") on the supposed death of child actor Adam Rich.

But this newest edition will undoubtedly be its last. When an investment deal fell through as the issue was in production, Eggers and the rest of the staff knew the game was over. They began inserting deliberately somber death messages into each department of the magazine not yet sent to the printer. Consequently, there's a note in the Table of Contents referring to Pages 68-76 that says, "Some other stuff, as if it matters now." The subscription offers say, "Discontinued." On a page advertising T-shirts and back issues, there is this message: "You = Might. Why buy a dumb T-shirt or a sticker when you could own the whole goddamn magazine?"

The shutdown was not unexpected. At some point in publishing a magazine, a financial ceiling appears; if expansion seems out of reach, an editor often puts the pedal to the metal and cranks the operation up to top speed until it blows.

"I ran that thing into the ground on purpose," says Eggers. "It can go one of two ways. Are you going to put the formula together? Or are you just going to do whatever the fuck you want to do?"

There is talk of doing one issue a year, or perhaps an on-line version, but new faces will be necessary if Might is to continue in any form. Some staffers have already received job offers. Co-Editor Dave Moodie has been hired as features editor for the newly reconstituted Spin. Senior Editor Zev Borow is also moving to New York. It appears to be the end of an era. Fortunately, Might fans can take solace in the group's final collaboration, a book of essays due next March and titled Shiny Adidas Track Suits and the Death of Camp.

The New Gods
The new issue of XLR8R magazine, published from the Upper Haight and available free in local clubs, contains some of the sharper visuals/insights into the current international rave culture. Among them, the Letterman-esque list called "Ten Really Annoying Things About DJ Superstars":

1) No one tells them they played like crap
2) They have publicists
3) They take credit for other people's records
4) They get paid too much
5) They are bad role models for younger DJs
6) They fly first class
7) They attract trainspotters
8) They believe their own publicity
9) They encourage lame celebrity DJs
10) We say we like them ... even when we don't

Home Sweet Home
Who knows the exact origins of an e-mail currently circulating through San Francisco's cyberchannels, titled "from the vaults outside of seattle"? The message is supposedly a list of comments from Seattle building officials who recently toured the nearly completed home of Bill and Melinda Gates, and who suffered "sensory overload" shortly after the three-hour tour started. The Microsoft magnate's house is being constructed on 600 acres outside Seattle and reportedly will cost more than $50 million. Below are some of the alleged comments:

* No visible electrical outlets anywhere. Gates does not like "clutter."
* 112 steps from the main floor to the main entry (or take the elevator).
* Wood columns from main floor to roof in entry area are over 70 feet tall.

* Theme throughout main floor is "High Tech Lodge." Primary structure is all exposed similar to large logs in a lodge except the logs are PERFECTLY finished.

* All timbers used inside and out are finished the same -- 3 inches have been removed from the exterior of the wood and then sanded to a satin finish.

* All bolts throughout the house are stainless steel and oriented the same direction.

* All woodwork is flawless. Much of the woodwork is of various rare species from all over the world -- imported especially for the Gateses.

* Some of the interior passage doors weigh over 800 lbs, but are balanced for easy use.

* Floor is heated everywhere including the driveway and walks.
* Security system (automated and personnel) is redundant. Hidden cameras everywhere including interior stone walls. Sensors in the floor can track a person to within 6 inches. System is monitored at the Microsoft campus.

* Gates has a personal 4-car garage. House for the maintenance staff has its own 3-car garage. Nanny parks in the 6-car carport across from the main entry. An additional 10 cars can be parked in a subterranean arched concrete building which through an electronic transformation becomes a basketball court.

* Existing cedar tree was determined by Gates to be in the wrong location and moved 6 inches.

* Gates insisted on saving a 140-year-old maple adjacent to the driveway. The tree is monitored electronically 24 hours per day via computer. If it seems dry, it gets just the right amount of water automatically delivered.

* Reinforcing steel in all concrete is four times the code minimum. No. 18 steel wrapped with no. 5 ties was common for simple columns.

* 52 miles of communication cable in the building.
* Shower curtain next to the spa is a 4500 lb. slab of granite.
* Master bathtub can be filled to the right temperature and depth by Gates as he drives home from work.

* Only two guest bedrooms.

Address all correspondence to: Slap Shots, c/o SF Weekly, 185 Berry, Lobby 4, Suite 3800, San Francisco, CA 94107; phone: 536-8152; e-mail: slapshawts@aol.com.

By Jack Boulware

About The Author

Jack Boulware

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Slideshows

  • 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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