The Oracle of San Francisco

No, not that jerk-led software behemoth down the Peninsula the real Oracle, with the surefire, bet-the-house prophecies you deserve

Behold the Oracle of San Francisco, who can count the grains of sand, measure the ways of the sea, and call the over/under of any Niners game within a field goal. I'm here because I've grown tired of all the sham prognostication I see in our nation's newspapers at the end of every December: those 600 words dashed off by a columnist or a feature writer, telling you what to expect in the coming year. I understand full well that half the staff is on vacation and that something has to fill the space next to the Macy's ads. But, frankly, true prophecy isn't written in 12 minutes on the back of a cocktail napkin.

So I'm here to divine your future, San Francisco. Based on the events of 2003, I will tell you what to reallyexpect in 2004. Call your brokers. Call your sports books. I give you the truth. You may have heard of my colleague, the Oracle of Delphi. She was nothing. She, we now know, was just a silly old biddy getting stoned off natural gas. All those riddles? Just her way of asking for Cheetos. Ihave vision. Ihave foresight. Ihave an active LexisNexis account. Heed my prophecy, San Francisco, and know thyself.

Jan. 6, 2003:In his second inaugural speech, Gov. Gray Davis vows to create 500,000 jobs.

Aug. 4, 2004: Turning off the TV after his third soap of the day, Davis mutters, "Why couldn't I just say 500,001?"

Jan. 31, 2003:On the steps of City Hall, Mayor Willie Brown gets into a heated argument with Supervisor Aaron Peskin, telling him just before stomping off to his waiting limousine: "You don't know me, motherfucker. You don't know what a killer I am!"

Feb. 9, 2004:Now we know. An FBI affidavit, released today, outlines the failed plot against Peskin: A no-bid contract was awarded to a Mineola, Texas-based company, but the plan was delayed for months in committee and later rejected by the Board of Supervisors in a 7-4 vote.

Nov. 24, 2003:Former mayoral candidate Angela Alioto announces her endorsement of Gavin Newsom in the runoff, apparently exchanging her support for a tentative position in the Newsom administration, possibly vice mayor. Alioto says she will advise the mayor on her pet issues -- homelessness and questionable City Hall contracting practices.

Jan. 12, 2004:Vice Mayor Alioto launches the Clean Government Commission, charged with weeding out waste, cronyism, and horse-trading in city affairs. In first vote, CGC fires Alioto.

Dec. 6, 2003: Working in broad daylight, a thief grabs a Playboy "Vargas girl" pinup from its easel in a Larkspur art gallery. The one-of-its-kind watercolor nude is worth $75,000, according to the gallery owner.

Jan. 9, 2004:The painting is found, to the owner's surprise, under his 14-year-old son's mattress, along with three tube socks and an April 1977 Oui.

June 13, 2003: The New York Post reports that the increasingly eccentric Dave Eggers plans to drop his last name for his next book. On the cover, the byline will simply read, "By Dave." (Eggers later denies this.)

Dec. 10, 2004: Eggers publishes his fourth book, written entirely in the blood of a newborn child, and gives a reading at Booksmith in which he smears himself with oleo and sacrifices 12 virgins.

Sept. 13, 2003: Police Chief Earl Sanders retires. Earlier, while taking flak for his handling of the Fajitagate investigation, he had compared himself to Jesus Christ: "[I] do recall in my readings that he was criticized."

Dec. 20, 2004: After a careful rereading of the Gospels, Sanders is disappointed to learn that Jesus did not spend his retirement playing canasta and watching Matlock reruns.

March 20, 2003:As bombs fall on Iraq, thousands of anti-war protesters pour into the streets of downtown San Francisco, chanting slogans and thrusting signs.

July 25, 2004: A young activist, writing on posterboard, says to another, "What the fuck rhymes with 'Syria'?"

Jan. 27, 2003:Local wonder-boy Po Bronson appears on Oprah to tout his book What Should I Do With My Life?, a sort of career guide for which he "crossed the landscape of America to find people who have struggled to unearth their true calling -- people of all ages, from all classes, of every profession, who have found fulfillment; those who fought with the seduction of money, intensity, and novelty, but overcame their allure; those who broke away from the chorus to learn the sound of their own voice."

April 28, 2004:America finally answers his question: "Don't write."

Feb. 21, 2003:The San Francisco Examinerlays off 40 employees, including most of its editorial staff.

May 28, 2004:The Peninsula Press Club names the Examinerthe Bay Area's most improved newspaper.

July 3, 2003: After five years of marriage, Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein and actress Sharon Stone file for divorce.

Feb. 14, 2004: The loopy, faded-glory, one-time-award-winning, seen-better-days ditz thinks twice about divorce and begs for a reconciliation. Stone says no.

Sept. 15, 2003:Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom is reported to be looking for an apartment in New York, triggering speculation that San Francisco's power couple will split up.

April 7, 2004:The Newsoms divorce. As stipulated in the prenuptial agreement, the two divvy up most of their major assets. She gets the home in Pacific Heights; he gets half of her face.

Dec. 4, 2003: Giants slugger Barry Bonds reportedly tells a federal grand jury that he has never used or received steroids.

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