But then, it's not every day that you open an SF Weekly newsrack to find a copy of The Bay Aryan.
It seems the local branch of the American Front -- which gives a Castro Valley address but maintains a voice-mail number in the 415 area code -- is back in business. Sort of. The Bay Aryan issue that's circulating now, in which pseudonymous or initials-only contributors look at art and culture in Nazi Germany, the lessons young Aryans can learn from Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, and ways to improve one's marksmanship, was actually printed in fall 1996.
When Dog Bites called the phone number stamped on the cover of the publication, we were treated to a high-speed, nearly unintelligible monotone monologue that began, "Citizen! Are you sick of a society whose only gods are money and self-indulgence?"
Uh, wait ... is that a trick question?
The recorded rant went on for several more minutes, though the few words we could distinguish over the course of a number of calls were "swarms," "internationalists," and "job prospects."
Finally, the conclusion: "Well, citizen, the American Front has good news for you. Forged in the fires of revolutionary struggle, the American Front returns to San Francisco." The group has apparently come back to "issue a clarion call to Aryan youth to join the fight for economic justice for the white working class."
Somehow, we don't think this is the material whose distribution the city envisioned controlling by banning free-standing newspaper boxes.
Existential Angst; or, Who Is the Mysterious Dog Bites Girl?
Sometimes someone asks you a question that throws all your most basic assumptions into doubt. That someone would be Josh Norem, who probably didn't know he was about to precipitate an epic identity crisis when he wrote:
Hello there Miss (or is it Ms.?) Dog Bites. Pop quiz, hot shot. Why is your column always written in the tone that "Dog Bites" is not just you, but several people? I mean, if you have some sort of complex, that's cool. Or, maybe you're one of those people who refers to yourself in the third person. For instance, instead of saying "I hate you," you would say, "Dog Bites thinks you suck" or whatever. I mean, why can't you just say "I" more, rather than "Dog Bites?" Are you under contract, or is it part of the whole "who is the mysterious Dog Bites girl" thing? Just curious. I read your column every once in awhile and the whole mysteriousness of it has always struck me as odd. Must be pretty sweet though, to have your own column in a major weekly. And I enjoyed your Chronicle summary last week, since it saved me a lot of time and kept me informed at the same time about all the major issues that affect my life (yeah right!).
We might have dismissed Josh's complaints if not for a follow-up fax from M.J. Faber, who last week referred to us as a "fella" while requesting the aforementioned Chronicle summary. "At one point in your response to my letter you refer to yourself as 'we.' This tells me you are either a staff, related to the royal family, or poly-sexual, or you are a she and I made a dumb assumption (nothing new). At any rate... you guys are fun!"
M.J.: You're doing it again.
Anyway, after several sleepless and indeed soul-searching nights, during which I gave this correspondence a great deal of thought, wrestled with the realization that I am, increasingly, merely acting as amanuensis to an ever more demanding genius, and talked both of your comments over thoroughly with my imaginary friends, I decided I am not going to say "I" more. Get over it.
Last week we confessed to our crush on Examiner Editor Phil Bronstein, and particularly to our fixation on his (apparently) manicured hands. He wrote us back to explain that he was born with them. "I just have very precise teeth," he claims.
Dog Bites regrets the error.
Our second Spot the Chronicle Book Titles contest has a winner.
But first, let us acknowledge everyone who entered, especially Bryan Hackett, who writes, "Dog Bites rocks!" and goes on to claim that the reason it took him so long to get his entry in was that he was "trying to figure out how to attach lipstick to email." Well, it's a nice thought, Bryan, but you didn't win: From Mother Goose to Dr. Seuss: Children's Book Covers 1880-1960; All Aboard! Images From the Golden Age of Rail Travel; In the Groove: Vintage Record Graphics 1940-1960; and Fat Tire: A Celebration of the Mountain Bike are not imaginary. They are real.
In fact, the entire list of titles we printed is drawn from the actual Chronicle Books publisher's catalog.
Now, looking back, we should have realized that a line of books designed to be sold in chichi gift stores next to galvanized buckets full of those soap bars that contain miniature rubber ducks would, sooner rather than later, become completely parody-proof.
"Hah! You are oh so clever," writes Steve Gere, who invites us to send a new SUV to his address in Bernal Heights. And Julie Coburn also recognized the titles. But both were beaten by Ann Marie Davis of Oakland, who got her entry in first thing Wednesday morning, noting, "I bet they're all real books, sadly."
Anyway, better luck next time. And there will be a next time, because Dog Bites has been promised some help from an inside source -- whose identity we will protect for now -- who writes:
"Humbly, a few of us editors here at Chronicle think that we are probably best qualified to contribute the forged titles. We'll be submitting a more complete list soon, but be assured that Dog Bites readers will be thrown off by Fuzzy Treasures: Lint Topiary From Pre-Bolshevik Russia, and more titles to come."
As told to Laurel Wellman
Tip Dog Bites -- especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 536-8139; fax 777-1839; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.