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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Jan 14 1998
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From the Please Shut Up Department
For some time Dog Bites has wondered whether the tactful thing to do wasn't simply to ignore the squabble between the Bay Guardian and the Institute for Alternative Journalism. But as both parties continue to cc us their latest salvos, our resolve has weakened.

The tiff began when Guardian Publisher Bruce Brugmann took a shot at IAJ in the paper's Oct. 8 issue, accusing IAJ of not distributing a Guardian story about the Presidio on its national wire service for alternative journalism because some of its corporate funding sources don't agree with the Guardian's stance on Presidio development.

IAJ responded with a couple of letters to the paper, both of which were edited by the Guardian so sections unflattering to Brugmann didn't make it into print -- for example, this from the IAJ board: "The public should know that we believe that this article was motivated by the personal pique of publisher Bruce Brugmann, rather than legitimate journalistic inquiry."

The censored section continues, "Mr. Brugmann spent more than 8 productive years as a valued member of IAJ's board. He and our Board parted company last year in a dispute about the appropriate behavior of board members." [Note from Dog Bites: We won't ask.] "Since then, Bruce has targeted IAJ and [IAJ Executive Director] Don Hazen for attack on a number of issues, culminating in the three page story in the Guardian."

Meanwhile, back at the Guardian -- where a disgruntled former staff member reports that Brugmann regularly gets a bee in his bonnet and storms around the office demanding of bewildered staffers, "Where's the bottleneck? Where's the bottleneck?" -- Editor Tim Redmond decided to e-mail everyone who might be faintly interested, and even those who aren't, explaining his position:

"If you're wondering why I edited out parts of [the] letters before publishing them, the Bay Guardian has a policy of avoiding ad hominem personal attacks [sic] in our letters section," he wrote. "We try to stick to the issues."

Next: Willie's Modern Maturity Interview
Dallas-based Outlook magazine ("Business solutions for expanding or relocating companies") has named San Francisco its No. 1 "Choice City." And to show it means it, the magazine (which has always struck Dog Bites as ideally suited to being left behind in airplane seat-back pockets) has put our Willie Brown on its cover, tipping what is identified as his $400 Borsalina hat.

Just because the publication's other feature articles include "Executive Tee Time" and a special insert on McAllen, Texas, don't assume this one's fluff. "In a wide-ranging interview conducted in his office, Willie Brown went on record about his accomplishments as Mayor, as a political leader, and what he finds so enchanting about San Francisco," promises the editor's letter.

Don't worry -- despite this stunningly unprecedented frankness, Willie won't be scaring employers away with, say, tax-and-spend rhetoric. Explaining his views on welfare reform, he told a clearly impressed Kenneth Joyce, Outlook's managing editor: "I've never had the view that I should give people money. I resent that."

Polenta, We Hardly Knew Ye
Paging through the latest issue of The Futurist, we were first thrilled to find a short item about Art Siemering, food futurist, and then crushed to note that San Francisco didn't make Siemering's list of great food trend-spotting towns.

Siemering, who's based in the hotbed of culinary innovation that is Kansas, was eager to correct the slight on the phone. "My personal opinion is that some of the things coming out of San Francisco are more interesting than what's going on in New York right now," he said apologetically.

Still, the biggest trend now can't be said to have roots here. "We're going to see a lot more Middle Eastern cuisine," predicted Siemering. "Lebanese, Turkish, Armenian, parts of the former Soviet Union like Georgia that we currently lump together under the name 'Middle Eastern,' will emerge as distinctive national cuisines.

"And in the same way we have Tuscan restaurants now, we'll have, for instance, regional Turkish restaurants," he told us. "No one could conceive of that now, but in a few years we'll take it for granted."

Go West, Young Dope Fiend
Dog Bites is appalled to report that a national survey of college freshmen has found that potheads are lazy and apathetic. The study, conducted annually by UCLA for the past 30 years, revealed that record numbers of the over 250,000 students surveyed had missed classes or appointments because they'd overslept. Only about a quarter bother following politics, while a mere 17 percent are interested in "influencing the political structure." But a whopping 35 percent support legalizing marijuana -- more than double the rate of support found only nine years ago.

Coincidence? We think not. But despite what the researchers termed "a pattern of growing indifference" among the students, we're sure many members of this generation will, like others before them, awaken from their torpor, make the parentally funded European pilgrimage, and afterward try living in San Francisco.

Or maybe Berkeley. Dog Bites was tickled to receive, from a distinctly East Bay group calling itself "Share the Work," a press release about its ballot initiative to win a 35-hour work week for all those employed in Berkeley. The memo notes: "Signatures will be collected over a 5-month period, starting around February 1." That's if the petitioners don't oversleep, of course.

-- Laurel Wellman

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Laurel Wellman

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