Champagne Tastes

Not to be too Ayn Rand-y about it, but Dog Bites loves all the new luxury high-rises downtown

Ever since General Nutrition Centers pulled its ephedra-based products from stores, we find ourselves listless and dissatisfied. And during this withdrawal stupor, Dog Bites has holed up in our mature Victorian apartment more than usual, asking ourselves, "Isn't there more to life than a first-floor, turn-of-the-century, Outer Mission dungeon to call home?" And there is, of course: luxury high-rise living.

San Francisco's downtown seems near the tipping point of a brilliant transformation: The nightlife scene around Sixth and Mission is burgeoning; the light-rail extension down Third Street promises to greatly enliven Dogpatch; and the two dozen or more residential high-rises that are planned or under construction downtown and on Rincon Hill will bring thousands of twenty- and thirtysomethings into the area.

At the risk of sounding too Ayn Rand-y, we just love all the new upward growth, which is turning our skyline into an even larger forest of steel and glass in which to get lost. Part of our desire to live in San Francisco stems not only from the city's, um, unique politics, but also from wanting to witness an urban metropolis grow up around us. So as much as we love the painted ladies of Alamo Square and their hundreds of quaint duplicates around town, we would gladly chuck them and their leaky windows for a spot of refined, polished living. After all, for Dog Bites extravagance isn't a want; it's a need, a delicious hunger.

And nowhere is the extravagant new high-rise scene better exemplified than at the Paramount, the freshly built luxury tower at Mission and Second streets.

On its street-level windows, we notice several eye roll­inducing advertisements aimed at the carriage trade. One reads, "Ethan was raised in New York. Julia grew up on Nob Hill. Solution? The Paramount." (Dog Bites being Dog Bites, we immediately wonder how such an ad might have to be reworked for, say, a wino hotel in the Tenderloin. Maybe: "Kevin has a love for methamphetamines. Karl is a Polk Street whore. Solution? The Crackhead Arms.")

The Paramount's window plugs continue, with some stabs at hilarity. "Beware: Frequent pool side & rooftop sunbathing may result in unforeseen tan lines & dates," says one. "Alert: Our rooftop skydeck will have you feeling delightfully high." "Attention: The Paramount will arouse feelings of envy in your guests." So, with the promise of sex, intoxication, and resentment from loved ones, we couldn't resist taking a tour of the place to see what all the ado was about.

Before heading over to meet a leasing agent, Dog Bites dons our finest threads in order to distract attention from our less-than-stellar credit rating and massive, not-quite-regular student loan payments. When we arrive, a suited 24-hour concierge and sea green Pan-Asian décor greet us. Impressive. The attentive man at the front desk then directs us to the leasing office to check out just what luxury living might entail.

At the office, we wait awhile for our leasing agent/tour guide, Cynthia, who then surprises us as we're shoveling complimentary Ghirardelli caramel-filled chocolate squares into our messenger bag. Embarrassed and ashamed, we hand her our ID and fill out an application.

Cynthia escorts us to several studio and one-bedroom units, which, we admit, are stunning: Wall-to-wall windows, hardwood floors, eye-popping views -- the folks behind the Paramount definitely understand extravagance. And with rents beginning at $1,925 a month and rising steeply, we think it high time to consider shacking up with our significant other. (Combining incomes says so much more than a mere "I love you.") But we have some concerns, as there are certain things Dog Bites can't live without.

Having a Brigitte Bardot-like affinity for cats, we ask Cynthia if animals are allowed in the building. "Of course -- we love pets here at the Paramount," she says perkily. We feel a surge of relief, and soon picture ourselves sprawled in one of the rooftop bungalows, tall Manhattan in hand.

What really sells us on the idea of shelling out big bucks for rent, however, isn't so much the location, valet parking, or dry-cleaning service. It's the absolutely awesome hand scanner.

Used in lieu of a key to gain entrance to the pool/gym area, the device highlights the day for us. Forget the panoramic views -- you get to use a palm-print scanner, and we think that's pretty goddamn cool. We play with the Star Trek­ish mechanism one time too many before our guide, losing patience, moves us along.

But we also ponder the possible ramifications, in this self-conscious town, of actually moving in. The Paramount seems a little too nice, a tad too new-money. Would indie-rock friends turn their backs on us, on indie-rock principle? Would blue-blooded friends (if we had any) think us too arriviste? Would relatives from the Central Valley visit too often? Perhaps this isn't such a great idea after all.

Near the end of our tour, though, we again warm to the idea of sleeping, showering, and shaving in a downtown high-rise. But something about the Paramount bothers us. Maybe it's the dot-com-era feel of it, the trying too hard to appear opulent. And if we can't picture Paris Hilton or a random Getty passed out in the elevator on a champagne and high-grade flake binge, it's simply not right for Dog Bites. So for now, we'll keep enjoying San Francisco's blossoming skyline while slumped in a lawn chair on our gravelly rooftop, hand wrapped around a familiar glass of two-buck Chuck. -- Brock Keeling

Hello Mutha

A New York friend recently received a letter from her 11-year-old son, an exceptionally bright kid who is away at summer camp for a few weeks. The letter follows, in its entirety:

"Hi, dude.

Bye, dude.

From, dude.'' -- Jack Cheevers

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