Dog Bites

IKEA, Party of Five, heavenly coffee, and bumpin' Bernal Heights bus shelters

Light Reading
Why do we even bother trying to print news in this space? All half our readers actually care about is how they can qualify to get a free Poäng armchair when the new IKEA opens in Emeryville. Well, brace yourselves -- it won't be easy. "We had people sleeping in the parking lot when the Chicago store opened in November," IKEA Emeryville manager Mike O'Rourke told us. Besides free chairs, opening celebrations on April 12 will include speeches by various IKEA dignitaries, though O'Rourke noted the company's CEO, Anders Dahlvig, won't be there due to a scheduling conflict: IKEA Moscow is opening the same day.

Those of us who become very nearly overwrought at the prospect of a $49.95 knockoff Noguchi floor lamp are excited already. But of course, there are always a few skeptics in the crowd -- like Darryl, who e-mails, "Any truth to the rumor going around Usenet that IKEA is Swedish for 'sucker'? I thought if anybody would know, it'd be you."

No, there is no truth to that rumor, but the one about the genetically engineered "chickens" at KFC? That's true.

Fifty-six shopping days to IKEA! Meanwhile, there's always Party of Five. A fan of the San Francisco-set series on the Weekly's staff excitedly pointed out that the paper had been mentioned on two of the two most recent episodes. (His exact words, we think, were, "They did it again! They did it again!") Unfortunately, Dog Bites, whose television viewing schedule favors half-hour comedies that can be absorbed from the perspective of a cross-trainer -- RESUME WORKOUT IN OPPOSITE DIRECTION -- with the sound off, has never really kept up with the show, apart from the plot points we can glean from those little trailers between commercials on the Fox 2 news: "Is Bailey's drinking problem out of control? This week, on an all-new Party of Five."

Nevertheless, we're always eager to do some investigative work, so we called Party of Five's production offices in Culver City, which is somewhere in or around Los Angeles, though it's probably best not to inquire too closely, and ended up questioning a writer about the show's use of our paper as a reference point. "We do it a lot, actually," Allan Heinberg told us. "I've written it in myself at least eight times. All the writers here are about the same ages as the characters, and that's what we would read, so we assume the Salingers [the drama's fictional family] would read it too. It's basically our characters' lifeline to cultural San Francisco."

Well! After this glowing endorsement and a few more awkward pleasantries, Dog Bites felt guiltily compelled to confess that, um, the reason we didn't have any more real questions to ask was that we don't actually watch Party of Five ourselves. "Don't feel bad," said Heinberg. "This is the last season for us anyway. Our ratings suggest nobody's watching."

The Word of God! Plus, the Muffins of God! The Espresso of God! And of Course, the Greeting Cards of God!
When Dog Bites heard the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco had used the Ellis Act -- and Ellis Act specialist lawyer Andrew Zacks -- to evict an elderly couple living in a house on one of its properties, we were pretty horrified ["Can't Find My Way Home," Feb. 9]. But then Archdiocesan spokesperson Maurice Healey kind of smoothed everything over, telling us the church needed the building to house Jesuits attached to the parish. Sure, it still seemed as though the eviction might have been a bit tough on the old folks, but after all, the Society of Jesus, which runs the church for the Archdiocese, needs to house its priests, too.

But according to confidential church documents that somehow ended up on our desk, the church has been hoping to use the house not as a Jesuit residence, but as a "Young Adult Spiritual Life Center," complete with a coffeehouse equipped with "an espresso machine for different coffees, an assortment of teas and soft drinks, muffins, pastries, cookies, etc." and a bookstore carrying, among other things, "tapes and CDs of the best of inspirational music, Gregorian chant, music for meditation, etc., Christian greeting cards for all occasions, religious articles, prayer books, devotional gifts, etc."

An Oct. 8 memo from parish pastor Russell Roide even appears to instruct St. Agnes staff to, well, lie (and it's been awhile since Dog Bites went to Sunday School, but wasn't there some sort of a commandment about that?) about the project if asked. "[U]se the words Jesuit residence, library and not coffee house, bookstore, etc." the directive says. "Keep it nebulous in case anyone calls or asks during the process. I will let you know when we get the permit and how it is progressing. It won't be long! An architect will be hired soon to draw simple plans and then proceed for the renovation. The permit for the renovation will be received this next week."

As a matter of fact, the only permit on file with the city -- though who knows what a, um, higher authority may have told the church it can do -- says workers can remove plaster ceilings and install sheetrock inside the two-story, four-bedroom house. This renovation work has thus far necessitated covering the outside of the house with scaffolding -- but then, Dog Bites isn't an expert on building inspections or anything and has no idea whether city officials have been by to check on the project at 1611 Oak St.

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