IS LOVE WORK?

Valentine’s Day is upon us, when a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of merchandise. Couples are gleefully gifting each other with baubles and bullion this boom year, and De Beers is De Runk with profits.

Yet according to the self-help books and the love gurus, there is a malaise in many relationships today, and it’s hard to disagree with them when the average romance has the half life—and the budget—of a Kevin Costner movie.

The cure, according to the “Men Are From Mars, Women Buy My Books” crowd, is hard work. If you want a relationship to last, you better be prepared to work at it—till death do you part. read more

SOUNDTRACK MADNESS

When Sigmund Freud launched modern psychology by naming the hidden recesses of the human mind, the unconscious, superego, id, and the rest, he forgot a part—perhaps the most mysterious part of all—The Soundtrack.

If the exhaustive survey I conducted is true (I asked my wife) then most of us have a song running around in our heads most of the time. This ever-changing score, programmed for us by our brains, provides the musical accompaniment to our lives.

We don’t chose the selection playing on our soundtrack, but it affects us profoundly. read more

CAUGHT OFF BASE PREDICTS THE FUTURE

It is New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 1999, and San Francisco is lousy with amateurs who party once a millenium. I am staying at home tonight, avoiding the mayhem.

Just because I’m not neck-deep in the pandemonium outside, do not for a moment think I’m unmoved by the turning of time’s odometer. Quite the contrary, I have every TV, radio and computer in my house tuned to a different city’s countdown. Millenium central runs right through my living room.

Yet as I await the big 2000, I can’t shake the feeling that the guest of honor is AWOL. Where is The Future? Outside of the silly Y2K hysteria one barely hears a word about it. read more

WEBLAND: THE 8TH CONTINENT

I don’t think anyone believes the internet is a fad anymore. The web has outgrown its own hype and hoopla; it is here to stay, whatever it is.

Yet the hysteria continues. If you believe the claims of the webvangelists, the internet is the most important improvement in the human condition since the invention of the thumb.

Perhaps they’re right, but the truth is nobody knows where the internet revolution is going to lead, not Bill Gates, not the talking heads on CNBC, not the goateed boys or the black-togged girls who spend 18 hours a day creating it. read more

JORDAN, REILLY AND BROWN THROW SLUMBER PARTY FOR SF VOTERS

Has there ever been an election that generated less excitement than the three-legged sack race we are suffering through now in San Francisco? Has anything inspired more yawns since they outlawed Quaaludes?

This stupefying campaign is putting us all to sleep—and I don’t mean Simmon’s Beautyrest sleep—I mean taking Rover to the pound sleep.

The first thing that a responsible journalist must say at times like these is don’t panic. True, there are danger signs all around us, a kind of mass narcolepsy is gripping our city, but the election is only a couple of weeks away. Soon enough the trio of Has Been, Never Was, and Not Him Again will be culled down to a more manageable pair, and then … OH MY GOD! RUNOFF! read more

THE WAR ON DRUGS:AN AMERICAN ADDICTION

Last month’s pro-forma stink about whether Mr. Bush did or didn’t snort something he shouldn’t have quickly descended into an equally useless debate about media coverage.

The real story here isn’t whether the George-who-would-be-king should pay for what he may have done thirty years ago. The real story is what we are doing right now to kids who repeat the mistakes we made, and mostly got away with, when we were young and stupid.

The kid who gets caught doing a little coke today isn’t going to have to worry about how it will affect his run for the presidency in 2020, because he won’t have that opportunity. He’s a convicted felon; he won’t even be allowed to vote. read more

APOLLO: T PLUS THIRTY YEARS AND WAITING

The Moon Shot is back. You can’t fire up the TV anymore without landing on a gray-haired ex moon-walker pushing his new book.

In a way, we’re making an even bigger deal out of the moon landing now than we did at the time. Back in 1969 there was too much noise in the culture to see the moon landing in its proper perspective.

The war in Vietnam, the protests at home, the smoldering cities, the generation gap, the assassinations of King and Kennedy—it wasn’t a time for celebrations. read more

AMERICA: AN APPRECIATION

Columnists carp. That’s what we do. But constant criticism and satire can get old, and this is a month for appreciation. Some folks get all nostalgic and mushy on Thanksgiving, but to me Thanksgiving is a four day turkey nod, right before the weather turns to crap and all the plants die.

If you want to see this American being thankful, catch me in early summer. Especially July 4th. As much fault as I can find with this country—and don’t get me started—it’s just a lover’s quarrel.

I don’t mean to sing Jingo Bells here, but the bottom line is, I’m glad I live in America. read more

A BOWLER’S LAMENT

Pundits have recently made the point that decline of bowling leagues is a symptom of the general decay of civic life in America.

They may be right, but there are other signs of social pathology to be found in the bowling alleys that are sadder yet. One of them bit me just the other day.

I went bowling, for the first time in forever, at a cozy little 12 lane alley in the Presidio. The place was almost deserted that mid-week afternoon, just a mom with 4 or 5 kids screaming it up on lane one, and me, on lane nine. read more

ARE YOU A TRUE SAN FRANCISCAN?

I was rummaging through some old boxes in the garage the other day, trying to get rid of stuff I couldn’t bear to part with when I moved into this house 7 years ago, but which hasn’t seen the light of day since, when it hit me. I’ve lived in San Francisco for 12 years now, longer than in any other place.

So I guess that makes me a San Franciscan, right?

Well, that depends upon whom you ask. As far as some folks are concerned, if your great-grandparents didn’t help put out the fires back in aught-six, you’re a tourist. read more