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Dog Bites 

Wednesday, Oct 28 1998
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Dan Lungren in Universal Soldier!
If Matt Fong's $50,000 donation to the Coalition for Traditional Values was bad news for his Senate campaign, just think how gubernatorial hopeful Dan Lungren must be feeling.

Dog Bites was impressed by Lungren's weekend appearance at a western-themed Republican rally in Oak Grove with Gov. Pete Wilson -- not because Lungren spoke especially well but because he spoke while wearing a white Stetson hat. Oddly enough, this headgear improved his otherwise unfortunately weasellike appearance immeasurably. We think Lungren should consider making the hat a permanent addition to his wardrobe, a sort of signature accessory.

Because he obviously has some sort of recognition problem. Otherwise, how can we explain the fact that last Sunday's Chronex ran a pre-election analysis that, in the headline and throughout the story, referred to Dan Lungren as Dolph Lungren?

After self-described "devoted" Dog Bites reader Robert Berend pointed out this bizarre slip, we checked our recycling pile and found the article in question: "Forget the Dolph and Gray Show, Check Out the Little Guys," by Chronicle Sacramento Bureau reporter Greg Lucas. In fact, Lucas even describes Lungren as an "aptly named" "bold crimefighter."

Um, Greg: Swedish kickboxer-turned-action-movie-star Dolph Lundgren is not running for governor, although his candidacy would have made for some interesting press conferences, and we can see how things could get so hot and dull in Sacramento that a reporter might succumb to wishful thinking, and all that.

As the Twig Is Bent
Around here, we've always held the view that nature is an escape from the hell of culture. So Dog Bites is taking the news of the criminal trees of 24th Street hard.

It turns out the 160 or so mature Ficus benjamina that line the street as it runs through the Mission have been accused of "aiding crime," mostly by blocking streetlights with their thick foliage, and also by buckling sidewalk paving with their roots. (How the latter contributes to criminal activity hasn't been explained -- are the trees tripping pedestrians and then mugging them while they're trying to struggle back to their feet?)

Anyway, some neighbors want the city to cut down all the trees and replace them with more tractable saplings, which would be raised with strict values and not allowed to become too leafy.

"It's beyond bizarre," says Supervisor Leslie Katz, who's nevertheless happy to report that a compromise has been reached and that only about 20 trees -- presumably the most hardened -- will be cut down.

Burrito Wars II
It had been awhile since we heard from Redwood City civic booster Paul Mendelowitz, but last week's mention of the Los Gallos Taqueria was enough to bring him out of his self-imposed retirement and leave us a voice mail. "We have sushi restaurants, Chinese restaurants, we have a Turkish place," said Mr. Mendelowitz. "Go by some of Redwood City's many other restaurants."

Meanwhile, ABurritos! authors Derek Wilson and David Thomsen seem to be doing a little backpedaling from their original, hard-line, pro-Los Gallos position. Following some particularly transparent sucking up to Dog Bites ("You secured your burrito credentials, in our minds, by noticing [Los Gallos'] incredible salsa") the two go on to plead exhaustion: "After sampling as many as seven burritos per day at times, we might have lost track of a few superlatives when it came time to write."

Anyway, the authors say, "Praise for Los Gallos wasn't necessarily intended to overshadow the Mission's best."

Hmph. We say a snub is a snub.

Books Lite
It's not every book that can compete for retail shelf space with cakes of handmade soap, floating candles, and miniature plug-in fountains. So Dog Bites -- struggling against the onset of stroller road rage on the sidewalks of Berkeley's Fourth Street -- was kind of impressed to realize that, right here in San Francisco, Chronicle Books is producing titles that do just that.

Stacked next to the galvanized wire cachepots -- just past the bins of amaryllis bulbs, the Burt's Bees hand cream, the rustic birdhouses, and the henna-patterned paper lamps -- titles like A Perfect Glass of Wine and Piggybanks are as tempting to the dedicated consumer as the generally useless accouterments they document.

In fact, Dog Bites was so overwhelmed by the sheer variety of useless volumes on offer that we will send the first reader to correctly choose the actual Chronicle Books titles from the following list a copy of Big Sur to Big Basin: California's Dramatic Central Coast (Chronicle Books), which is just sitting around here anyway. Good luck, and e-mail answers to dogbites@sfweekly.com.

En Route: Label Art From the Golden Age of Air Travel
Get Your Kicks: Vintage Motel Signs of the Southwest
Classic Barware
Cigar Box Labels
The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic
Cilantro
TV Dinners and Tray Tables: Con-venience Food of the 1950s
The Art of the Bath
Adam and Eve on a Raft: Diner Menu Illustrations of the 1940s
Paper Umbrellas: Classic Tropical Drinks
Coffeemakers
The Terry Towel Robe: A Celebration
Hi-Fi's and Hi-Balls: The Golden Age of the American Bachelor

Outsourcing the Disgruntlement
We are pleased to announce the first official Dog Bites contractor, John Would. John, like several of our correspondents, has suggestions for us on a regular basis. Recently he wrote, "Just read today's column, and I must regretfully say I am somewhat disgruntled by your lack of disgruntlement. What gives?"

Of course, this is the kind of thing that makes us want to say, "Hey, if writing a column every week is so easy, why don't you do it?"

So we're going to let John help out. Specifically, John has been wanting us to make fun of Chron columnist Ken Garcia -- "That stiff-necked asswipe really chaps my hide!" -- and, when we didn't adopt his suggestion immediately, jumped in there himself with summaries of recent Garcia columns:

"Thursday: I am God! I am moral. There's a judge with the same last name as me, and he's great!

"Yesterday: The homeless shouldn't get free shopping carts, and Safeway shouldn't get tax breaks for giving them carts. It just isn't right."

As a Dog Bites contractor, John is entitled to be disgruntled, especially about stuff he reads in the Chron, and to send us e-mails detailing his disgruntlement, which we may or may not publish. However, he does not get to use the SF Weekly bathrooms, which are for staff only.

As told to Laurel Wellman

Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail dogbites@sfweekly.com.

About The Author

Laurel Wellman

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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.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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