Truth in Advertising …
Reader Dylan Salisbury writes: “I'm confused about Godzilla. Is his jaw as long as the 21 Hayes bus or the 38 Geary?”
Well, Dylan, that's a darned good question. Dog Bites was wondering about the God-zilla ad campaign, as well. And in fact, your inquiry spurred our crack investigative reporting team to look into the monster-size controversy.
The $50 million advertising attack unleashed on the world by the good folks at Sony has made all kinds of comparisons involving their new Godzilla's body parts. For instance, we've been told the following:
* He's longer than a New York City block near Times Square, where there is a billboard proclaiming as much.
* He's taller than the Statue of Liberty.
* He's longer than the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Cannes, France.
In fact, the latest Godzilla remains true to the dimensions of his/her/its predecessors: 20 stories tall and 400 feet long. But that still leaves the jaw/claw/foot question ….
The ads — including those claiming that Godzilla's jaw is as big as the host vehicle — rotate among 540 buses throughout the Bay Area. And, as the astute Dylan pointed out, the buses are not all the same size. According to our friends at Muni, San Francisco has both a 40-foot Flyer and a 60-foot Flyer, depending on the age of the model. Then there are the varying vehicles of transit providers throughout the East Bay and Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties. Of course, none of this even begins to address the articulated bus complication raised by the 38 Geary.
And if we're to believe that Godzilla's eye is in fact as big as a billboard, it could be either a whopping 14 feet by 48 feet, or, if it's the smaller model billboard, a comparatively modest 12 feet by 25 feet.
In researching this important issue, however, Dog Bites has discovered something more entertaining than all of the official and expensive hype: the creativity of people with a little Internet know-how and a lot too much time on their hands. Let's just say that parody Web sites looking at other Godzilla body parts — more personal aspects of the big guy — are both rampant and hilarious.
… And Accuracy in Reporting
New York Times reporter Frank Bruni must have left his fact-checking ability and his skepticism in the overhead bin when he came to Oakland to write a May 16 story on Jerry Brown's mayoral bid. May we point out:
* Mr. Brown renounced his Democratic party registration in March of this year, not March 1996.
* The deal returning the Raiders to Oakland amounts to $197 million plus interest, not merely “tens of millions of dollars.”
Mr. Bruni also let Mr. Brown trumpet his national political connections by saying that he's “raised money for Al Gore.” Pardon us, but would that be the same Mr. Gore who's part of a Democratic fund-raising machine that Mr. Brown routinely decries anytime there's a reporter within 100 yards?
— P. D.
Smile, You're on Candid Protest
Protesters are everywhere in Berkeley, and many seem to lack the chromosome for rational thought. Maybe that's why the media generally passed on covering May 16's “Reclaim the Streets” demonstration. The intent of the protest: to send a down-with-cars-and-capitalism message to the World Economic Summit in Birmingham, England.
The event was supposed to take the form of a combined Critical Mass and march, followed by music, dancing, and “spontaneous acts of art, love and rebellion” at the intersection of Haste and Telegraph. But it turned into a 450-person riot, “the biggest in eight years,” said one friendly Berkeley officer. Vintage TV consoles were smashed and burned; foam cushions were tossed onto the flames, producing a toxic pall against the sky's evening glow; cheap pot was smoked; malt liquor was drunk; bottles were heaved at the 40-plus cops in riot gear. Bloodthirsty vegetarians repeatedly egged the police to break out their batons: “Bullets are cheaper than cops!” shouted the mob. “You are oppressing us!”
What struck us most is that Berkeley protesters apparently love to videotape and photograph each other. In fact, one fellow had enough batteries and tape in his Sony to capture all four hours and 10 minutes. Others opted for 35mm memories, making sure to get plenty of photos of their buddies taunting the police.
A march organizer, who identified him-self only as P.B., said he was embarrassed that the event had wandered off-message, but that it was still a successful display of “direct action.”
— P. D.
Dog Bites has just learned that Bebe Stores Inc., the Brisbane clothing company whose trashy models sneer from bus-stop placards around the city, has opened its first international location. It's in Mexico City.
“We know that there's a portion of the population that is of an income level that could be interested in Bebe,” explained Karen Ioli, Bebe vice president of international licensing and exports.
Confused, we wondered why a company whose claim to fame is putting miniskirts on Heather Locklear would choose to make an impoverished and polluted Third World capital the site of its first international outlet.
So we called Guadalupe Loaeza, Mexico City gadfly and author of the book Las Ninas Bien, a tome much cited in Mexico by those attempting to explain the behaviors of the ostentatiously wealthy women of Mexico City. These women tend to cluster in the city's exclusive Polanco district, noted Loaeza — where, it happens, Bebe put its new store.
“They keep themselves in a bubble, out of contact with reality,” Loaeza explained. “They want to ignore what's happening in this country, and keep on believing in the old class structure.”
So we sent a reporter from Dog Bites' Mexico City bureau to the new Bebe store, where we chatted up customer Susana Marta, a 50-year-old with red-dyed, bobbed hair, a tight black shirt, and bright red lips.
Bebe clothes are “very modern, very light. It's sporty but nice,” she explained. Marta Gil, also 50, concurred: “It's a very fresh concept, very young.”
Though these women struck us as a little old to be pursuing the kinderwhore look depicted in Bebe's advertising, we couldn't learn anything official about the fortunes of the new location: Bebe Stores Inc. is going public and currently observing a “quiet period” mandated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
— Matt Smith