Through the looking glass

Looking at the man in the mirror: There’s a lot of annoying stuff going on downtown. Nobody builds apartments anymore; it’s all lofts. And big, ostentatious flat-screen TVs are plastered on the walls of seemingly every new restaurant.

Well, anthropologist Terrelle Terry has a new candidate for the most odious trend in urban design, which she hopes to nip in the bud. She calls it the “Homeland Security bathroom.”

Terry was at the hip new eatery Ma Jong’s the other day, in what she assumed was the women’s restroom, cleaning up after a delicious meal.

She was washing her hands in the washbasin when, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of a man nearby, washing his hands, too. Startled, she looked around the room but didn’t see the man. It took her a moment to realize that she hadn’t wandered into the wrong bathroom. She was in fact staring through the looking glass, and the man was on the other side of the semi-transparent mirror. Beyond him, she could spy a lot of real estate in the men’s room. Not urinals or stalls, but men nonetheless, who could see her too.

Terry’s a scientist by training. She’s made some pretty keen observations about human nature—like women don’t expect to see men in the ladies room.

She talked to the manager, who told her that the two-way mirror was the architect’s idea—a style Terry thinks of as “pervert’s delight.” She wondered if the view violated more than mere mores and called the city code-enforcement people and even the police department. But it turns out this sort of lavatory peepshow is perfectly legal. “There’s no law against marrying your grandmother, either,” Terry retorts. “It may be legal, but it’s certainly not very nice.”

I’m with stupid: At first, Bites was at a loss to explain embattled Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s visit last week to the set of Rocky 6. In the hard-hitting news release, Bites was treated to a sight of the Governator and Sly Stallone shaking hands—easily the manliest handshake in the history of Los Angeles County.

But why is this even newsworthy? Bites figures it’s a simple political coping strategy: When your current aims seem pointless and unappreciated (remember that special election?), you can always feel a little better hanging with someone who’s even more out of touch.

After all, Bites can’t think of a single person who’s been begging for a follow-up to Rocky 5, which was a movie so bad that Bites’ VCR rejected it and, in a fit of pique, permanently reset its clock to noon.

Attack of the multicultural robocallers: Bites wants to put the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) on some sort of “do not call” list ever since the district started these autodialed recorded announcements to parents of Sac City school kids.

Just like with regular annoying sales calls, these scholastic cyborgs always call right at dinnertime. Usually it’s the principal, with a reminder that Bites’ offspring—Bits—needs to get out there and sell some wrapping paper or coupon books or something to earn his keep.

The other night it was none other than SCUSD Superintendent Maggie Mejia.Buenas tardes,” she began, and launched into an update of how wonderful the school year has been going.

Usually, we don’t get the Spanish version, but Bites didn’t think anything of it, since at school Bits is often mistaken for an Andalusian.

But five minutes later, it was the ersatz Mejia again, this time sharing some important news in Russian—which is fine, only, as far as Bites can tell, it was the exact same information as the Spanish version. By the time the robo-superintendent phoned in with a Hmong bulletin, Bites had had enough. From now on, the phone is off the hook at night. If something really important happens—like some kind of cootie outbreak—just send Bits home with a note.