Love Machines 

Looking for love on bird-day; Soul Beat's clock finally runs out as Comcast pulls the plug; and Cali lawmakers get a quiet raise.

Last week, of course, was Thanksgiving week, in which people leave town, news slows down, and deadlines are cut short. It's also one of those holiday weeks during which singles are most plagued by loneliness. With all of the above in mind, Bottom Feeder decided to try a little experiment in lookin' for love.

We posted two virtually identical Craigslist personal ads. The first was in the Women Seeking Men category. "Girls just wanna have fun: SWF, 28, petite, slim, very pretty veterinary tech seeks SWM 25-35 for good times! I want someone nice to do the city with at night. I like white Zinfindel [sic], movies, and making Italian dinners for the right guy. No games!"

The only differences, besides gender, in our Men Seeking Women ad was that the guy was "5' 11", fit, and handsome" and liked "red wine," since any guy who admits he likes white zin would be immediately suspect.

Muttering heartfelt apologies to the experimental guinea pigs we were about to sucker, we posted the ads minutes apart and then sat back and waited for the data to arrive.

Experiment duration: 2 hours

Total responses: 23

Responses to the woman: 23

Responses to the man: 0

Possible Conclusions:

  • Only men read Craigslist personals.
  • All women split early for T-day.
  • Girls don't actually wanna have fun.
  • Dude's a friggin' loser.
  • If she can't spell "zinfandel," she'll probably put out.
Seriously though, what are we to conclude? Well, for one, any halfway attractive women around here should have no problem. There's a veritable host of handsome -- if indeed these are your real photos -- and not terribly picky men looking for love on Craigslist.

As for you fellas, you're facing stiff competition. You'll need to make a first impression that puts you ahead of the pack -- it'll have to be better than asking "Can I get a pic?" before you even say hi. But Bottom Feeder wants to give a special shout-out to the guy who suggested a date that very night, saying, "I'm free after 8 ... as I have puppy class tonight."

Puppy class! Fuckin' brilliant!

So, what to do about the reticent ladies? Maybe they want conversation. Would a longer ad coax these shy maidens into typing and clicking? Oh, and we never mentioned employment. That's just gotta be a consideration.

We decided to try this one under Men Seeking Women. "Seeking a soulmate: SWM, 28, employed, slim, attractive, 5'11", with great sense of humor, looking for someone to share with me the things that make life special. Intimate conversations, candlelit dinners, good wine, philosophy, books, music, poetry, long walks, long weekends, sleeping in on Sunday, laughing, snuggling, and horsing around. I'm not rich money-wise, but I consider myself to be so when it comes to what counts most."

Okay, we're gonna level with you guys. Things are grimmer than we thought. Our man got only one response. Bless your heart, GW, for saying we sound like an awesome guy, 'cuz we're really not. We're bad -- very, very, very bad -- and sort of regret having taken advantage of your innocence.

But damn. One response. Guess we shoulda posted a photo of Jude Law and claimed we were rich. -- Michael Mechanic and Will Harper

Oakland Loses Its Soul

Chuck Johnson wasn't feeling too thankful last week. One day before America put its turkeys in the oven, the proprietor of Oakland cable channel Soul Beat TV (KSBT) got a call from Comcast letting him know his goose was cooked. After 25 years of dishing up local, low-budget religious shows, news programs, and music videos, the Bay Area's only black-owned station is officially off the air.

Comcast says Soul Beat is long delinquent in paying its "leased-access" fees. Andrew Johnson, a Comcast spokesman and no relation to Chuck, put the tab at "somewhere in the $350,000 to $360,000 range." Add to that the nearly $400,000 Chuck owes the IRS in back payroll taxes, and this may not be the merriest Christmas for the self-proclaimed "great promoter" and his five paid employees. "They're claiming we owe them money, but we don't. They're claiming we don't have enough viewers," Chuck Johnson told us on the day KSBT went dark. "How can you have a bill for $180,000 to $200,000 accumulating? ... They just kept us on as a local-access program."

Therein lies the dispute. Johnson claims his station had "local-access" status (read: free); Comcast insists Soul Beat has a "leased-access" status (read: $25,000 to $40,000 per month) and that it already owed $180,000 when Comcast took over the account from AT&T Cable. The station's Web site, SoulBeatTV.com, acknowledges its leased-access status under AT&T -- although it looks as if it hasn't been updated in years.

Regardless, collecting may prove difficult for Comcast. Chuck Johnson, who filed for bankruptcy protection last year, denies he owes the cable giant a dime. "You don't cut a person off and then try to collect from them," he said. "If I didn't pay, why didn't they cut me off before? ... It's a matter of silencing a black station. ... They just don't want us in control."

Comcast's Johnson says this is indeed all about color -- green. "We're not responsible for content," he says. "Soul Beat has been a leased-access channel up until we pulled them off the air today. ... We'll certainly make every effort we can to collect." Until it finds a replacement, Comcast plans to show its own mix of programming on Soul Beat's former digs. The provider has had plenty of interested suitors, apparently, but none yet willing to make a commitment. -- Malcolm Gay

Carpe Per Diem

In October, in the midst of this bazillion-dollar budget crisis, state senators and assembly members quietly had their daily tax-free expense allowances -- known as per diems -- boosted from $125 to $140. These payments were originally meant to compensate lawmakers back when our representatives were part-time and had side careers to sustain them, but per diems have since evolved into a staple of Sacramento greed.

According to Rules Committee sources in both houses, eligible members -- any pol whose home district is more than fifty miles from the capital -- typically collect the cash every day during the legislative session, a total of 210 days on average. That means the trough-feeders raked in $26,250 last year on top of their $99,000 salaries and generous benefits. The hike means that each state politician will get a nice $3,150 bonus this coming session.

So why haven't you heard about what amounts to a legislative pay raise? Maybe it's because per diems are under the auspices of the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. Who dat? This obscure and unlikely state panel is best known for its role in giving money to victims of violent crimes.

Apparently in this case the board made an exception and instead rewarded the perpetrators. -- Will Harper

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