Fast breaks and flip-flops

Thanks Ruthie: Bites doesn’t make a habit of sending drinks to beautiful women in bars but made an exception recently when the original Monarch, Ruthie Bolton, showed up for an after-church brunch at the Hukilau Island Grill. Shyly sending her a drink from “a grateful fan,” Bites was speechless when the ever-gracious Ruthie stopped by the table to offer her thanks. Not only that, but she also spent a few minutes explaining the mechanics of the Monarchs’ defense and making clear the necessity of a “killer instinct” in these waning days of the regular season. “Before we hit the playoffs,” she said, “those other teams have got to know they can’t play with us.” Like most of Arco Arena—and Ruthie herself—Bites shed a tear when her number was retired at halftime of the Seattle game last Saturday. We’ll miss her on the court, but Ruthie’s always been at her best in transition.

What a shame: When nurses, firefighters and Service Employees International Union members gathered on sidewalks a block from the Capitol, outside the venerable Sutter Club, on Thursday evening, they meant to protest Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and campaign donors who plunked down $25,000-$100,000 to attend a soiree and have their pictures taken with the celebrity politician.

There were the usual protest chants—“Hey hey, ho ho. Schwarzenegger’s gotta go!” They cheered at drive-by honkers. But while the protesters hoped to embarrass the big-money donors attending the California Recovery Team event, they neglected to consider other functions being held at the club the same evening; the sign-wavers also menaced and shouted “Shame!” at several philanthropists and community and religious leaders who were meeting at the club to discuss ways to better connect children with after-school programs.

Bites says shame on those fat-cat donors for not wearing name tags or top hats or something to make them easier to spot and yell at!T’anks Mr. Lockyer: After spending weeks defending an art exhibit located in the cafeteria of his downtown offices, Attorney General Bill Lockyer yanked the gallery’s most (in)famous resident only days before the display was to end.

You’ll recall the painting by attorney Stephen Pearcy depicting the American flag, shaped as the continental United States, being flushed down a toilet. The words “T’anks to Mr. Bush” run along the left side.

The painting received national attention and numerous protests from Republican groups and is part of an exhibit sponsored by the California Lawyers for the Arts, which ends August 31. A few weeks ago, Lockyer issued a statement saying he was “not in the censorship business” and explaining that the painting wouldn’t be removed from the exhibit.

But three paintings quietly were removed from the cafeteria last Friday and relocated to the top floor—inside Lockyer’s office. Pearcy’s piece now hangs near Lockyer’s desk, inside the attorney general’s personal suite.

Did the attorney general swipe it from the main exhibit just because he loved it so and wanted to keep it close?

Because that makes about as much sense as the explanation offered by his spokesman, Nathan Barankin, who said the move was out of “concern” for current events taking place in the Middle East. Barankin said all three paintings were “strongly linked to a Middle East theme.” That raises the obvious question: So what? It’s not censorship if you object to the theme?

And besides, other gallery pieces that remained in the cafeteria clearly commented on U.S.-Middle East policy. There’s a depiction of an Abu Ghraib detainee looming over the U.S. Capitol, and a hanging mobile made of cages symbolizing Palestinian refugee camps. Barankin couldn’t say why those pieces remained as of Monday.

Barankin also said the public was welcome to view Pearcy’s painting in its new location. But the building’s security guards remained adamant that guests must register (showing a valid form of identification) before they could enter the building’s inner offices for a “public” viewing.

Barankin said the move was a private decision, not one forced on Lockyer.

“There is no one yelling or screaming in front of our building anymore,” he said.

So, you see, it’s not censorship when you wait until after the protesters go away.