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

BASEBALL AT THE MILLENNIUM

Baseball, the game that has had more lives than Shirley MacLaine, is back.

As we in San Francisco get ready to celebrate the last hurrah of the blow-hole by the bay, Candlestick Park (Yes, Candlestick. No parvenu high-tech company paid your humble reporter 500 grand to rewrite his memories), where smoking is illegal but hypothermia is free, the nation turns its attentions to the battered old game that enjoyed such a spectacular renaissance in 1998.

This comeback is popularly attributed to the stellar achievements of Messrs. McGwire and Sosa, Ripken and Wells, not to mention those amazin’ Yanks who marched through the rest of the league like Sherman through Georgia. read more

OLD FOLKS HAVE ALL THE FUN

I was down in Pacifica the other day, looking at the big winter surf, when I spotted an old guy with a metal detector sweeping the beach, swinging that hoop around like an electronic divining rod. He had the headphones stuck in his hairy ears, listening blissfully for the magical music of buried treasure. He never found so much as a pop-top while I was watching, but that didn’t seem to bother him—he just kept on scanning.

I defy you to find me anyone under fifty—hell, make that sixty—who would be caught dead wearing that dorky apparatus in broad daylight in front of God and the world, yet that old guy went along happy and heedless as a naked baby playing in the sand. read more

THE SIXTIES REDUX

Have you noticed the wave of ‘60s nostalgia washing over your TV screen lately? It seems that pivotal decade has gone from being a collective embarrassment to a cause célèbre almost overnight. Yet it’s been a long time coming.

Usually these cultural recyclings take about twenty years. We’ve already had our 70’s rehash: from the Brady Bunch sequels to a geriatric KISS at the Superbowl to a vapid new TV show that does for the decade what Ozzie and Harriet did for the ‘50s. We’ve even started back on the 80’s, Adam Sandler’s semi-amusing “The Wedding Singer” for example. But until now the ‘60s have been notably absent in popular culture. The obvious question is why now? Why, after all these years, are the ‘60s suddenly in such good odor? read more