Dog Bites

Dance away the energy blues, then worship at Sunsetís gardening headquarters

Pants, X-Small and X-Large

You have to take your triumphs where you find them, so Dog Bites, who had been eyeing the envelope containing the PG&E bill with approximately the same enthusiasm as we might had its contents actually been ticking, was thrilled, when we finally worked up the courage to open it, to discover our bill for the previous 30 days was $24.57 -- less than the January bill for $33.18!

Now that Gov. Davis has called for all Californians to reduce energy use by 10 percent, we'd like to share our tips on how we've achieved our own, let's see, 26 percent reduction. (We're pretty sure we did the math properly -- we can never remember which number to divide into which number -- but our point remains the same.)

OK, our apartment has frequently been chillier than we might like. On the other hand we've been having a great time, because we've discovered that when you're trying to stay warm, the best thing to do is go out. A lot. Listen, it's not a coincidence that Reykjavik is a great club town.

Sure, there are downsides. After a certain point anyone will come to the realization that there are only so many annoying remixes of "Cada Vez" and "One More Time" he or she can tolerate. And OK, the Hoochie Nation's stronghold is in the clubs of this city; almost nightly we are reminded of one of our most fondly held beliefs, which is that ultra-low-cut pants don't look good on anybody -- even, as the Grammy Awards demonstrated, celebrities with personal trainers. "What are those weird pants? They look like child pants," one of Dog Bites' male acquaintances is frequently heard to complain. Still, we have a vision here, and it's a vision of a city that doesn't sit at home channel-hopping between Survivor and Friends, so bear with us.

Enjoying the duties of our new position as self-appointed energy conservation activist -- "Can't talk. Have to go save electricity." -- we headed out Saturday to "Bottom Heavy" at the Top, which in Dog Bites' opinion has the best tiny dance floor in the city, especially since its perfectly minimalist disco ball always seems to inspire a significant amount of macking amongst crowd members. Still, if we're honest, we have to admit we haven't fully caught on to that weird little drum 'n' bass two-step yet. We felt better when our escort assured us this isn't really an indication of a complete lack of coordination. "You just need bigger pants," he explained, pointing to the goateed guy dancing next to us, whose trousers were flapping around his legs at about 180 bpm. "You have to have the pants to do the dance."

Big pants or no, by 2 a.m., when the entire sweaty crowd tumbled out into the Lower Haight to hail cabs, we had achieved our goal of becoming much warmer. So we say: Get out there and shake it, San Francisco! It'll help us all get through the power emergency, and it's not even hard.

Architecture and Morality

After our item about union organizing at the Fangtanic, Dog Bites was favored with a Wednesday morning phone call from political consultant Jack Davis, who wanted to clarify that while he had indeed visited the Fang Warfield Building -- also henceforth known as the Fang Warfield buildingTKuppercase?, to the several people who actually read to the end of last week's column -- and while he had met with Ted Fang, he had not been in a meeting with him. "What you said is wrong, wrong, wrong," said Davis. "Whoever told you that is full of shit."

Davis went on to explain that he met Fang at Fang's office in the newspaper and was given a tour of the new office space and "walked through floor by floor. I have a real interest in that building and in the Fang family." Fang, he added, also showed him some murals in the basement of the structure.

Cultural Requirements

After the usual, um, somewhat negatively oriented media stories, it is a great relief to Dog Bites to be able to report on a publication for which we feel unreserved -- well, love. This publication is the Sunset Western Garden Book, whose brand-new, vastly expanded eighth edition is now appearing in bookstores. In many circles this is a cultural event on a par with the publication of a new edition of the Joy of Cooking, though we feel we must note that gardeners are generally a less contentious lot than those huffy food people.

Given the chance to interview Kathy Brenzel, the elegant, soft-spoken editor of the Garden Book, and Sunsetmagazine's garden editor since 1981, Dog Bites nearly collapsed with happiness. Frankly, it would have been impossible for us to ask Brenzel any hard-hitting questions, even had hard-hitting questions been called for; what we secretly wanted to ask was, "Can we be you?"

That seemed creepy, so we settled for inquiring what it was like to have overseen the creation of the new Garden Book, which contains over 2,000 new plant descriptions, several new chapters, and a botanical Latin pronunciation guide. "People rely on it so heavily," said Brenzel. "They refer to it as the "bible of western gardening.' That carries with it a huge responsibility."

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