Dog Bites

Parting Is Such Sweet ... Hey, I Said Sell at $45

As you, the Weekly's readership, are no doubt aware, columnist George Cothran is leaving us to go to work for the City Attorney's Office as an investigator. We wish him the best; he will be greatly missed around here.

But hey! Enough about other people! What you may not know is that this may also be Dog Bites' last column. Yes, the rumors are true: We've been suspended indefinitely for buying stock at the friends and family rate just prior to that company's highly successful IPO last week.

Now, as high-profile alternative weekly columnists, we travel in some pretty rarefied circles. We hear stuff, we get tips. Oh, sure — we know that everyone thinks it must be just so great for us, being consummate insiders and all, and admittedly the constant invitations to lavish parties at Marc Andreessen's place, software launch galas with laser light shows and great sashimi, and exclusive vodka tastings are quite a perk — but at the end of the day, it's the strike price on our options that matters, and we've got to buy our own Alberta Ferretti. And all we made on the deal was $6,800, which, as everyone knows, is chump change in Silicon Valley.

Of course, we haven't actually been fired, but we have been reassigned to the San Mateo County Family Court Bureau, which is twice as bad. And meanwhile, Chris Nolan at the Mercury makes $9,500 on her deal, gets suspended, and becomes the cause célèbre of half the new media industry reporters in the city, who secretly hope that someday, someone they meet through work will take pity on them and offer them the chance to make some quick cash too! Sure, everyone's sympathetic to Chris — running around and saying how this is probably the best thing that's ever happened to her career, and on and on. But what about us? We would like to state here, for the record, while we still have the chance, that we're open to all stock tips, highly paid consulting gigs, gourmet gift baskets, and press junkets. Just e-mail — operators are standing by.

Taking Care of Business
What with our various legal and career troubles (see above), we haven't had much time to look after the day-to-day running of the Dog Bites offices. So we felt somewhat guilty on receiving this plaintive note from reader El Monte:


I haven't received my miscellaneous Chronicle book yet as a prize for winning the Dog Bites ad contest. [See another example of El Monte's winning campaign with this column.] I know you're busy — this week's meditation/rant on the city in 1999 really captured this time and place well — but if you could send the prize my way I will have “closure” on the fact that I won something.

Oddly enough, we haven't received many Chronicle books around here lately. We suspect that someone in the publisher's promotions department has taken exception to our mockery of the imprint's fluff-heavy catalog, and cut us off out of sheer spite. But luckily the flow of useless titles from other publishers has continued unabated, so, El Monte, we're sending you a copy of Judith Turner's The Hidden World of Birthdays instead. Turner is a psychic — actually, make that a world-renowned psychic — and, says the back jacket, her book will “give you the keys to unlock the power of your personality.”

Now, you may be skeptical, but Turner's insights are positively uncanny. Here's what she says about Dog Bites: “You may have to overcome your share of obstacles. You pass through much mental suffering quietly and with few complaints. Your intuitive nature allows you a great deal of time to listen to yourself. … Your aims in life are high and you certainly possess the capabilities to achieve them. … You could be a psychologist, lawyer, owner of a restaurant, or laborer.”

Turner goes on to recommend that we wear emeralds for luck — which of course sounds just fine to us — dress in brown for “confidence and a sharp look,” and listen to the composer Gluck.

Well! With guidance like that, El Monte, you can't lose! So we hope you don't mind too much that The Hidden World of Birthdays is in fact published by Fireside. After all, there's only so much New Age dreck one imprint can funnel to the reading public. Enjoy!

Mars Needs Women
Things in Silicon Valley are, in fact, pretty dire. So dire that American Singles, a San Rafael-based dating service, is trying to lure women to its annual National Singles Convention by promising them that, if they come to the Palo Alto event, the company will guarantee that every woman will meet “at least one good man — according to her definition of a good man” or get her money back.

Rich Gosse, the chairman of American Singles, says, “Contrary to popular belief, there is no shortage of single men in America. The opposite is true. When you subtract the 46 percent of single women in the U.S. who never date, according to a national Roper Poll, there is actually a shortage of single women to date in America.”

Reached by phone, Gosse told Dog Bites that the usual problem at singles' events is that there are too many women. “So the women end up feeling ripped off,” he admitted. “That's why we came up with the idea of having the convention in Silicon Valley, where there are a lot more single guys than women.”

The money-back guarantee seems like a tough one, though. How are you going to prove that a woman didn't meet a man? “We take people at their word,” said Gosse, sounding faintly offended. “If a woman can come up to me, look me in the eye, and tell me that with all the men at the event she didn't meet even one good man, we'll give her her money back. Of course, that doesn't apply to her airfare, hotel, and so on.”

Yes, American Singles (“It's actually American Singles dot com,” Gosse pointed out. “We have a Web site”) actually believes women are going to fly in from all over the country to try to meet guys who work in Silicon Valley.

Dog Bites is really, truly appalled. How will women unschooled in the manners — or lack thereof — of high-tech men ever survive in the murky waters of the Silicon Valley dating scene? Well, girlfriends, allow us to offer you some pointers:

    Do not date a man who demonstrates his various hand-held electronic devices during dinner.

    Do not date a man who goes on and on about his forthcoming liquidity event. Conversely, do not date a man who complains endlessly that his options are under water.

    Do not agree to go to a nice restaurant with a venture capitalist, unless you want other patrons to stare in fascinated horror at what will probably resemble feeding time in the California condor enclosure of the San Francisco Zoo.

    Do not date a man whose idea of an evening of hilarity is using his laser pointer to startle pedestrians on the sidewalk outside his Lower Potrero loft.

    Do not date a man who offers you more than two currently valid business cards, especially if one of them describes him as a Web consultant.

You've Got Mail, Again
Good old Bruce Brugmann. Just when all our contact with the man seemed to have dwindled to our daily sightings of his iconic disembodied head urging us to Liberate Muni — uh, no thanks; we think the buses come off the trolley wires often enough as it is — he sends us another of his complex mailings. This time we'll break it down by percentage of pages devoted to each topic:

    Salutation (“LW, Much more to come, B3”) — 3.57 percent of mailing, or 1 page

    Memo dealing with long-running feud with Don Hazen of IMI/IAJ — 3.57 percent of mailing, or 1 page

    Memo dealing with brand-new feud with Examiner editors — 3.57 percent of mailing, or 1 page

    Three memos dealing with newsrack ordinance — 50 percent of mailing, or 14 pages

    Fliers, memos, summary of proposed legislation on Prop. G, the Sunshine initiative — 25 percent of mailing, or 7 pages

    Random photocopy of editor's note about funding of environmental groups — 3.57 percent of mailing, or 1 page

    Press release about Guardian's Aug. 25 issue — 3.57 percent of mailing, or 1 page

    Photocopy of Brugmann's disembodied head urging us to Take Back San Francisco — 3.57 percent of mailing, or 1 page

    Photocopy of editorial on Chron-Ex merger — 3.57 percent of mailing, or 1 page

So the next time you see The Head floating above you on a billboard, you'll have a pretty good idea — give or take a few percentage points — what it's glowering about.

Have a good week, everyone!

Tip Dog Bites — especially if you're disgruntled. Phone 415-536-8139; fax 415-777-1839; e-mail

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