Sunday, September 11, 2005

Herb Caen’s column from Monday, May 8, 1995, titled “Man Playing Typewriter.”

Herb Caen’s column from Monday, May 8, 1995, titled “Man Playing Typewriter.” THANK YOU for asking. Yes, the 40-yr-old Loyal Royal is still marching well, as the French would say. However, the nut whose hands wander idly o'er the keys, occasionally striking a wrong note, could use a tuneup, especially after drinking pepper vodka by mistake. This is another growing menace that strikes at the very roots of our fading civilization: flavored, scented and colored vodka. Why fuss around with perfection? Scented vodka, frevvensakes, negates the reason for its very existence. The blessed elixir was getting nowhere until Smirnoff (I think) came up with the great slogan: ``It Leaves You Breathless!'' Right. Unlike whiskies and gins, bossy couldn't smell vod on your exhalations. He just wondered why you kept bumping into things . . . Thursday night, in my endless quest to stay abreast of women's fashions, I went to a salute to local designers sponsored by Absolut vodka and a guy handed me what appeared to be a gentleman's drink. As I found out too late, it was full of pepper. That ended the evening for me, absolutely. May I say, between fits of hacking, that the only foreign objects that should be introduced into the clear, cool liquid are a lemon twist or an orange slice, period. Peppered vodka is an abomination or my name isn't Herbert Cayenne.

WELL, there are a lot of subjects columnists should no longer write about, and drinking is one of them. In truth, I'm like Dean Martin, who only pretended to drink a lot. Besides, it's a boring subject. Another b.s.: traffic. Running red lights is no longer news. It is now taken for granted. I've seen jerks run the light right in front of police cars and get away with it. Maybe somewhere in this great city of ours, a cop is sirening down a red-light runner at this very moment but I sort of doubt it . . . After many searching conversations with cabbies and bus drivers, I find that what bugs them most is the same thing that gives me caenniption fits: pedestrians walking against the ``Don't Walk'' or flashing red hand. Traffic backs up for half a block while some idiot saunters across a downtown intersection -- illegally. Walking against the light is a $55 infraction and with thousands doing it daily at every downtown intersection, the city could collect enough in a week to balance the budget. However, the police are too busy doing whatever it is they do, and there aren't enough of them. Police departments are always broke and undermanned, or so they say.

NATTERING ON: While Mayor Jordan Was happily biking around town Thurs., the PG&E was slapping a public notice on the front door of his Pac. Heights residence for nonpayment of a ``several hundred dollar'' gas bill. Wendy, who wears the pants in the family, also pays the checks so we know who's to blame. I'd say the PG&E . . . Here's a sticker looking for a bumper: ``The PG&E Is a Turnoff'' . . . Oh, by the way, Happy Tax Freedom Day! Up until today, every cent you earned in 1995 went to Uncle Sam but for the rest of the year, you're working for yourself, and do you know anybody nicer to work for? Still, we are losing ground. Last year, points out Jack Early Bird, the cutoff date was May 5 . . . Getting back to the mayor, didja see those newsphotos of Jordan riding a bike while wearing a tiny helmet? Reminded a lot of people of the photo that swung an election: George Dukakis in a tank.

MEANWHILE: Abiquiu, the Southwestern- style restaurant in Kimpton's Monticello Inn Hotel on Ellis, folds May 15. Moral: a name nobody can spell or pronounce is generally a bad idea . . . Free freebie! The cast and 10-piece swing band of ``The Big Broadcast'' show, now killing 'em at the theater in the Presidio, will do a noon-1 p.m. show at Justin Herman Plaza on Wednesday . . . If you've been holding your breath till Gail De Martini marries Melvin Belli, I think you can exhale now . . . Good ol' Mel, by the way, forgot to pay receptionist Grace Delgado so she clobbered him in small claims court for $3,700 and danged if he hasn't forgotten to pay that, too . . . Over the sand dabs at Jack's, Big Joe Alioto disclosed that he and his sometimes-feuding sons will close ranks to be Angela's finance chairmen in her run for mayor. When one of these chaps drops around and says ``Hey, haven't you forgotten something, friend?'', don't even think twice. Small bills, please.

FUN ON the infobahn (from the Sheriff's Log in the San Luis Obispo Telegram): ``A man in the 3200 block of Johnson Ave. reported that his life was threatened by another man via modem. The man was advised not to re-boot'' . . . Peter James Brooks, longtime San Franciscan, just got transferred to Dallas, and when the local movers discovered his destination, one of 'em asked, ``Hey, who'dja piss off?'' I consider that a Very San Francisco question. Peter is surviving down there, he tells me, by dreaming about Bay-to- Breakers, which he'll be in, as usual. This time he and his friends plan to dress like salmon, start at Ocean Beach and run against the current . . . Add vanishing landmarks: the built-in-1914 Iroquois Hotel in the 800 block of O'Farrell, often a home for merchant seamen, cabbies, gamblers and other city drifters. Albert Artoux, the departing owner, calls it ``an island of tranquility in a sea of despair,'' but its 87 rooms are being converted to low-cost housing. ``No more daily lunches at Swan Oyster Depot,'' laments Albert.

BOTTOM LINES: Tony Lima of the 'postrophe posse nailed Nat'l League umpire Ed Montague. First day back on the job after the strike, Ed walked into Candlestick carrying a big sign reading ``Thanks Fan's For Your Support.'' Yerrrrrout!

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