Northside SF  

Bellingham by the Bay
By Bruce Bellingham

The dust has not yet settled from the Nov. 11 dust-up in Huntington Park where a group of unleashed dogs reportedly attacked the spaniel that belongs to Mrs. Marion Cope – who’s an owner of the Huntington Hotel and the Brocklebank Apartments – leaving her seriously injured in the melee. In addition to suffering a 10-inch gash in her leg, authorities say one of the dogs also bit her. Mrs. Cope did not take the incident lying down while lying in her hospital bed. She got on the phone to the Nob Hill Association, to the police, and to anyone else she thought should know about dangerous, unleashed dogs in the park. Mrs. Cope has had to undergo several skin grafts.
“The enforcement of the leash laws in the City have been lackadaisical,” says Sgt. William Herdon. “But that’s all over. When it’s no longer safe for people or their children or their dogs to move through the park, then something has to be done. In this case, we know who the culprits are, and we’re summoning them to a hearing in the near future.” A hearing on the unleashed doggie donnybrook at Huntington Park will be held at City Hall, Jan. 28, Room 408, 2 p.m.  …
Speaking of the Huntington Hotel, lunch service has resumed at the Big 4 on Thursdays and Fridays. The Washington Square Bar & Grill is closed on Tuesdays for lunch only. It reopens at 5 p.m. “We’re prepared for tough going through this economic gloom,” says Square owner Liam Tiernan. “We didn’t expect it to be easy, and it isn’t easy for anyone right now, but we’re in for the long haul.”      
Michael McCourt
is back at his station behind the bar at The Square after a terrible fall left his knee all smashed up a couple of months ago. Is he pleased to be back at work? Mike says, “It reminds me of that encounter a young Ted Kennedy had when he was campaigning down at the docks, and an old codger said to him, ‘Kennedy, I heard you never really worked a day in your life. Is that true?’

‘Yes, I guess it’s true,’ Teddy confessed sheepishly.
‘Well, you didn’t miss a f*****g thing!’”
“That’s the way I feel about it,” Mr. McCourt adds. “I’m sure I was delivered to the wrong house when I was an infant. It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.” Yes, it can only be some sort of grotesque accident, as George Orwell might describe it. … Mike’s brother, Malachy McCourt, the New York actor, writer, raconteur, says he doesn’t care what sort of things Tiger Woods gets into in his private life – but if he crosses the picket line of the Screen Actor’s Guild one more time, then Tiger could be in some real trouble for a change. …
The famous sea lions, now missing from Pier 39, sure get a lot of attention. Like the Tiger Woods story, it’s a great diversion from the real unsettling things that are happening. The sea lions, a boon for tourism, a bane for commercial fisherman, vanished the day after Thanksgiving. You didn’t expect them to help with the dishes, did you? … The holidays make Norm Goldblatt sentimental. He recalls how he met his wife: “I was  thinking about how my wife found me at Ikea. Took me home. Yeah, Ikea. Had some parts missing, some screws loose, took 35 years to completely assemble me, and function as she expected, but all in all, I was a bargain. …” I’m sure Norm still is. … Can you turn the thermostat up to Fahrenheit 451, please? Joyce Cole was appalled to read about elderly pensioners in England buying used books to burn for heat because coal has gotten too expensive. Yes, true story. “Finally,” Joyce concludes, looking for a silver lining, “a good use for Sarah Palin’s book.” …
I met Joyce many years ago at the old San Francisco Press Club, when it was on Post Street. One of the treasures there was a Benjamin Bufano marble life-sized sculpture of Tombstone the black cat, the club’s mascot. The real Tombstone was killed in a fire at an earlier incarnation of the Press Club back in the late 19th century.  Now that the Press Club is long gone from Post Street, some of the artifacts, including Bufano’s Tombstone, reside at the University Club, 800 Powell Street, under the watchful eye of Charlene Nee. I once explained to Paul Krassner, the outrageous satirist, and editor of The Realist, about the quaint tradition at the old Press Club where, if you put your hand on the Tombstone sculpture at lunch or dinner, what you said would be considered “off the record.” Krassner was genuinely puzzled. He asked, “Why on earth would anyone ever want to be off the record?” That’s a thought. …
Michael Hoffman
, the director of The Last Station,” a great new film about the tempestuous marriage of Leo Tolstoy and Sophia, was in town the other day. I was reminded me of that ad lib from Oscar Levant on radio all those years ago:
“Did you know that Rachmaninoff had a nervous breakdown in Russia when he was 19 years old? That I can understand. But they brought in Tolstoy to cheer him up. That I do not understand.” Hoffman thought it was funny, too. …

Bruce Bellingham is the author of Bellingham by the Bay, and writes for the Marina Times. He’s waiting for Tolstoy to come cheer him up. E-mail him at

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