Dog Bites

Where Have All the Doc Martens Gone?; Special: IKEA Labor Unrest!; Silicon Valley Gold Digger: "I 'Fess Up."

Where Have All the Doc Martens Gone?
All the excitement over the anti-WTO/ IMF demonstration had Dog Bites somewhat confused. Who were all those attractive, alternative young people storming Market Street? Boy, they had some real style going. Had they been incubating somewhere in the city over the winter, from whence they sprung forth in their bracelets and dreads, bearing banners and smoke bombs?

In fact, it had been such a long time since we'd seen their like on the streets of San Francisco that we checked in with the TV news -- and learned many of the demonstrators had come from Seattle, L.A., and even Alaska to protest. "Yeah, that figures," said a friend as we deconstructed the event later. "Everyone here's wearing the uniform" -- which is to say relaxed-fit khakis, a blue shirt, and a Gore-Tex jacket.

At least the Chronicle Books launch party for Airstream: A History of the Land Yachtat Vitra on Wednesday provided us with a respite from the Palm Pilot crowd, although we can't say we were the most popular girl at the party; a friend introduced us to one of the publisher's publicists, who said "Hi," thought better of it, and nervously asked that we keep his remark off the record. (We think what he actually meant was that he didn't want it acknowledged in print that he'd spoken with us.) Nevertheless, we had some free wine, scarfed down some of those ubiquitous wrap-type hors d'oeuvres (no sign of anyone planning to cut into the Airstream-shaped cake, sadly), mingled with the quasi-artsy crowd as best we could, and toured the two refurbished brushed aluminum trailers parked outside on Pacific. Thanks again for inviting us, Chronicle -- you're sports!

Special: IKEA Labor Unrest!
Saturday night, feeling pretty confident after a few sake cocktails -- we believe our favorites were the Sakesickles, but we'd have to check our notes to be sure -- Dog Bites decided it would be a good idea to head to 26 Mix for dancing. "God, I feel like someone's grandmother," our friend yelled into our ear as we arrived, and indeed, we may have been the only two women in the club not wearing hoodies and Pumas.

Still, we were fine until we encountered the merciless, klieg-light-level brilliance of the bathroom lighting, which by dint of being aimed flatteringly at the sides of patrons' faces revealed the previously unsuspected presence of a fine line by the side of Dog Bites' mouth, thereby subtly changing the character of the evening's drinking from "sociable" to "brooding," with us increasingly consumed by thoughts like, Well, so, that eye doctor guy seemed to think we were kind of cute.

Unfortunately, we had scheduled an early start the next morning, having arranged to meet another friend at the local coffee shop before heading to IKEA. But despite our sacrifice of sleep, restorative sleep, by the time we'd made it to Emeryville the store's parking lot was already full, and we were directed to the Kmart lot, which meant hiking back over the overpass in the bitter wind, our friend complaining and threatening to call the whole thing off the entire time. ("This is stupid.") Still, after only 15 minutes in line outside IKEA, during which time we were tormented by several strolling entertainers and given the chance to enter to win a Volvo, we were inside, riding the escalator up to the heaven beyond, and it was all worth it, because there were the armchairs, right there.

It must be said, though, that visiting a very busy IKEA is not at all the same experience as visiting a normal IKEA. At a normal IKEA, customers file patiently, even respectfully, past the little display vignettes, as though they're at a World's Fair, while those so inclined may pause, slightly out of the way of foot traffic, to contemplate disporting themselves amidst the foam-core sofas, op-art patterned curtains, and galvanized accessories of a particular miniature room. At a busy IKEA, this vital therapeutic process, known as "transference," cannot occur, because one's imaginary home is filled with strangers -- strangers who keep opening the cabinet doors and trying to lift the prints off the walls to see if they have price tags on them.

Scenes of small children pushing themselves around on wheeled TV carts as their harried parents queued up to select upholstery fabrics got us wondering: Just how busy is the Emeryville IKEA? "It's completely crazy," said store manager Mike O'Rourke, whom we found stationed at the front entrance with a walkie-talkie, like a bouncer at a high-end nightclub. "Every day when we open the doors -- and we're opening them 15 minutes early -- there are 600 to 800 people waiting to get in. Without a doubt this is a record for North America, and it's probably going to be a world record."

O'Rourke told us IKEA's management has been thrilled to find that Bay Area shoppers are already familiar with the store's merchandise, and that many are arriving with comprehensive lists of everything they've been dying to buy for years now. "We have a very, very high average ticket," he said. (See art accompanying this column, found by Dog Bites' friend in an IKEA shopping bag. If you recognize this as your list, ha ha -- you're just as obsessive as Dog Bites, which is completely pathetic.)

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