The Coleman Chronicles 

SF T-shirt sightings, CNN tomfoolery, East Bay map reading, and Contra Costa high-mindedness.

Right up until election day on October 7, the Express pledges to bring you the latest buzz about everyone's favorite gubernatorial candidate, Gary Coleman. Don't forget: Vote early, vote often!

Don't count him out
Spotted at the San Francisco Cat Club's "1984 night" event: no fewer than four hipster hair-rockers sporting "Gary for Governor" T-shirts. That's proof positive that Coleman's message is reaching the alienated masses. Club by club, kitschy happening by kitschy happening, Gary will claw his way into the governor's mansion if he has to climb a mountain of '80s retro corpses to do it! -- Chris Thompson

Lap-dancing Lilliputian
On August 12, CNN Crossfire co-hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson asked "serious" candidate Arianna Huffington if she would be willing to debate her rivals for the governor's office. Guess whose name came up! The transcript follows below:

Begala: Hey, that's a deal, Arianna. Crossfire will host the debate. We'll give the top candidates, and we'll let CNN help us decide who. But you're certainly one of them. If we host a debate, will you appear on it and debate your opponents on the record?

Huffington: Absolutely. Anywhere, any time, baby.

Carlson: Well then, Arianna, don't you think in order to have a debate Gary Coleman will have to be there? I want to hear you say that Gary Coleman is not a credible candidate and why.

Huffington: I want Gary Coleman on my lap during the debate. Okay?

Begala: Well, don't we all. -- Chris Thompson

Just who are we, anyway?
We admit it. We're a wee bit drunk on ourselves these days, what with all the media attention. So we can't help but notice when our esteemed colleagues in the info-slinging trade muff the name. Here now, the cause for our current identity crisis. First, a warning: A strong stomach for self-indulgence is required.

Rita Cosby from FOXNews called us "The San Francisco East Bay Express," to which candidate Coleman added, "Well, the East Bay Express in San Francisco has a readership of 80,000 people." Later, Gary told CNN International, "I'm doing this because there are about 80,000 of my fans in San Francisco at a little paper called the East Bay Express."

Newsday called us "The East Bay Express, a San Francisco-area alternative newspaper," which is a little like saying, "Newsday, a New Jersey-area daily newspaper."

Time magazine called us "an Alameda newspaper." CNN.com called us "an Oakland-area newspaper." MSNBC cast the net a little bit wider with "the Northern California alternative newspaper, East Bay Express." The Baltimore Sun described us as "the East Bay Express, an alternative weekly newspaper in the East Bay area of Northern California." FOXNews managed to go both specific and broad: "The East Bay Express, an alternative weekly newspaper serving Berkeley, Oakland, and the San Francisco Bay Area." Our ad salespeople couldn't have said it better.

Closer to home, that big daily newspaper in the West Bay and even our own Contra Costa Times have yet to mention this paper in any story involving Candidate Coleman. In fact, we detected the air of a bitch-slap when we read in one recent Chronicle editorial, "California politics has turned into a theater of the absurd, an open stage for players who would never get their fifteen minutes of serious attention in a regular election. From smut peddler Larry Flynt to Diff'rent Strokes star Gary Coleman -- to local newspaper columnists seizing obvious shtick." But maybe we're just overly sensitive these days.

At least the Oakland Tribune got it right. No jokes, please. "The East Bay Express, an Emeryville-based alternative newsweekly." Home field advantage, perhaps? -- Justin Berton

Losers weepers
Then again, perhaps the slights were intentional. Eric Kurhi, the editor of the Contra Costa Times, was so dismayed by the rising cynicism in California politics that he just had to say so in an essay last week. Contrasting the earnest young activists of Berkeley's Long Haul Infoshop, an anarchist library and organizing space, he bemoaned the decrepit amorality and apathy of adults everywhere. And he singled out one unnamed paper as an exemplar of such turpitude. "The alternative press thinks it's a riot to front Gary Coleman's $3,500 qualifying fee and have a field day with both the recall and a childlike former actor in a spread that was more tear-jerking than a cutting-edge article in The Onion, but for all the wrong reasons."

Wait a minute -- did we just make Eric Kurhi cry? As a sign of our deep remorse, we promise to send him a nice box of scented Kleenex. Don't worry about the cost -- we'll write it off as a campaign expense. -- Chris Thompson

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