By Dave Donnelly

Tuesday, December 14, 1999

abound in S.F.

TRIPS to San Francisco are always filled with surprises, even if you're gone less than a week. For instance, I learned just a couple of days after arriving there that former Mauna Lani Bay Hotel G.M. Don Dickhens, currently a senior v.p. with Pan Pacific Hotels, is suddenly looking for a job. His position has been eliminated after 19 years with the company. Mug shotIf any Hawaii-based properties are looking for a good hands-on exec, Dickhens might consider a move back to the islands ... It's difficult to go anywhere in the Bay Area without running into isle residents, current or former, especially at the airport. There was Russell Pang of Communications Pacific on arrival, and insurance guy Pat Kudlich with attorney Bob Frame and satellite communications exec Cliff Laughton boarding the same flight on my departure ...

FORMER isle liquor distributor Lou Sterlin recognized me walking down a street in North Beach, and before taking our seats at the Berkeley Repertory Theater's excellent production of young Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's dark comedy, "The Beauty Queen of Lenane," a woman approached me who turned out to be Susan Driscoll. I failed to recognize her, though she was a longtime isle resident who was producer for Don Robbs when he hosted an A.M. talk show on KITV back in the early 1970s. She now lives in Berkeley ...

Great expectations

MY old S.F. pal Michael McCourt, who tends bar at the White Hall Tavern (formerly Seal's Cove) at Pier 33, leaves today for New York. There he'll join brothers Alphie, Malachy and Frank McCourt for the premiere of Alan Parker's film adaptation of Frank's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Angela's Ashes." They'll doubtless return to the cemetery in Queen's where the ashes of Angela, their mother, are interred. And unless I miss my guess, you'll see a lot of them on "Entertainment Tonight" and similar celebrity shows. USA Today lists the film among the five most likely to be nominated for an Oscar, with a similar prediction for the star, actress Emily Watson ...

WE attended one other theater offering in San Francisco last week, and if anyone had told me that two hours of people doing the tango would be spellbinding, I'd have considered them daft. But "Forever Tango 2000" is sexy, athletic, sometimes funny and captivating ...

THE day we checked into the Argent Hotel, just south of Market, "Nash Bridges" was filming there and although we didn't catch a glimpse of Don Johnson or the others, certain public areas became private for a brief time. Managing director of the Argent is Don Timbie, who opened the Waikoloa Hotel in Kohala and supervised the refurbishment of the Moana when he was with Sheraton ...

Location, location, location

WHAT was once out of the way, the location of the Argent (formerly the Meridian) is now superb. SFMOMA, the museum, sprung up a block away and we saw the Degas to Picasso exhibit there. The new Metreon complex by Sony with 16 theaters and various other attractions is also a block away, as is Nordstrom and the other stores in that shopping complex. The curving escalators and grand piano player seduced me into buying a new outfit. The salesman, Jason, says Bob Longhi of Maui is a regular customer. Oh yes, Union Square with its "name" shops, is just two blocks away. The restaurants remain superb. Bring money! ...

Dave Donnelly has been writing on happenings
in Hawaii for the Star-Bulletin since 1968.
His columns run Monday through Friday.

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