To Our Readers


Sunday, June 17, 2001

Dragons, pythons
and other reptiles
make the news

Honolulu was abuzz this week about a python that found its way onto a toilet seat in Pacific Palisades.

It was just a two-footer, but from now on we'll all be a little more observant with our morning routines, won't we? Finding an ant enjoying the plumbing is one thing -- but a python?

Another reptile was also in the news. Phil Bronstein, the San Francisco Chronicle editor better known as Sharon Stone's spouse, had an encounter with a 7-foot-long Komodo Dragon. Commentator Judy Muller described it Friday in a forked-tongue-in-cheek radio piece entitled "Dragon Bites Editor."

En route to my office I listened to Muller and noticed a gecko on the hood of my car. He'd crawled to the spot where the hood ornament would be if I drove a Jaguar or Mercedes instead of a Honda.

The wind lifted his little head as he hung on tight with his suction-cup toes. He looked pretty cool out there.

According to Muller, Stone arranged a private tour of the Los Angeles Zoo for Bronstein, the former San Francisco Examiner editor who jumped to the Chron when Hearst sold the Ex last year. The tour highlight was the 55-pound lizard.

Inviting Bronstein into the dragon's enclosure, its keeper suggested he take off his white tennis shoes and socks. The lizard's diet includes white mice.

As Bronstein posed for a photo standing next to the dragon in his bare, white feet, it struck -- glomming onto his left foot, crushing the big toe and tearing two tendons. Reconstructive surgery left the editor in a cast half way to his knee.

Being married to a glamorous, sexy movie star doesn't inspire pity. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown said he wished Bronstein had been advised to enter the cage naked.

The Examiner, glorying in the misfortune of its former boss, headlined the story "Dragon Attacks Editor, Mistakes His Foot for a Rat."

As I pondered these events, the score appeared to be Reptiles 2, Humans 0 and my gecko friend out on the hood was still posing like Leonardo DiCaprio on the bow of the Titanic.

I glanced away to check my rearview mirror. When I looked back, he was gone.

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 529-4748, fax to 529-4750, send
e-mail to or write to
500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.

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