Dog Bites

The Art of $$$
Michael Smith, president of San Francisco's Indian Film Institute, wondered aloud June 26 whether he'd just heard a veiled threat or simply — as Smith's wife put it — something “really tacky.” Smith says he was talking with his wife, Lucinda Spencer, along with a group of other artists attending an Arts Democratic Club reception for CAO Bill Lee, when Kary Schulman, director of Grants for the Arts — the city agency that decides which arts groups get funded — walked by. “Just remember where you get your money from, Michael,” Smith says Schulman told him in passing. Just 15 minutes before, Smith had stood up during a Bill Lee question-taking period and asked the new CAO why the city routinely ignores Native American artists, giving groups like his $8,500 while some others reap 100 times more. “I can't believe Kary said that to me,” Smith says. “Aren't we allowed to criticize the government anymore?”

Thanks to the Unabomber scare, S.F. State has installed high-tech bomb-detection devices in its mail room to scan all incoming packages and large envelopes, says Lt. Stephen K. McLain, who heads the campus police's Special Services Division. The devices were activated following the fatal mail-bombing of advertising executive Thomas Mosser of New Jersey in December, a killing attributed to the Unabomber. Lt. McLain cites several reasons for heightened security at the school: The Unabomber is believed to work out of the Bay Area and has made academicians the targets of his previous bombings. Also, the Unabomber displayed a specific interest in the school, affixing to the Mosser mail bomb the return address of the campus under the name of a fictitious S.F. State professor. All safely scanned packages are stamped “inspected” in red ink. And how about the unsafe ones? “We have not found any, fortunately,” says Lt. McLain.

Walter Shorenstein R.I.P.
It's a rare thing that a man writes his own obituary before he dies, and rarer still that a major daily newspaper deigns to print it — as did the San Francisco Chronicle last Sunday for real estate magnate Walter Shorenstein.

Cloaking the obit as the “Sunday Interview” (“The Man With the Keys to the City,” July 9), Chronicle political editor Susan Yoachum acknowledges in her introduction that Shorenstein “has declined to give lengthy interviews in recent years, explaining that he sometimes gets 'in trouble' for making a controversial remark.”

No worries here that Walter might say something provocative in the Chronicle interview — or even something interesting — as Yoachum serves him one softball question and pseudo-question after another. “You really love San Francisco.” “You spoke in terms of wanting to do as much for the place you live as possible. You have been able to do more for San Francisco than many other people.” “Why are you so generous with your time, your money, and your influence when it comes to Democrats and to San Francisco?” “What are you proudest of?”

Instead of asking him what he gets in return for all his influence-peddling, or inquiring about the real story behind the sexual-harassment charge brought against him, or demanding to know if he has sought psychiatric help for the fit of self-aggrandizement that caused him to write the check for the almost universally ignored UN50 pageant, Yoachum jumps into Shorenstein's lap and with her last question writes an obituary of a sort for herself as a serious journalist: “We've covered a lot of ground,” she lies. “Is there anything that you'd like to add?”

Walter allows that he wishes he'd bought the White House for Hubert Humphrey in '68.

By Amy Linn and Jack Shafer


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