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The Editor, The Toe, And The Dragon

by Alexander Cockburn

But what about the effect of Bronstein's foot on the Komodo?
Normally even-tempered, a 10-foot Komodo dragon in the L.A. Zoo caused bouts of schadenfreude (German, meaning malicious glee in the discomfiture of others) in every newsroom in California over the weekend by savagely attacking Phil Bronstein's big toe. This same Bronstein is the husband of Sharon Stone. He also edits the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle. Back in 1993, when Bronstein was editing the San Francisco Examiner (then owned by the Hearsts before they switched papers), Bronstein cost the Hearsts $600,000 in damages for breaking the ankle of a political consultant called Clint Reilly. The two got into a tussle in the office of Will Hearst, and Bronstein, a macho type, had the better of the engagement. Reilly sued and got his $600,000.

Possibly the Komodo dragon, a species of Indonesian lizard, was aware of this episode when Bronstein entered its cage with a zoo keeper, and it was intent on evening up the score. Or maybe it was angry because Sharon Stone stayed outside the cage. It seems Stone was treating her husband to the intimate session with the dragon as an early Father's Day gift.

Bronstein wasn't wearing any shoes because the zoo keeper said that the Komodo dragon is fed white rats, and the keeper feared it might mistake Bronstein's white sneakers for its normal snack. Confronted with Bronstein's bare and possibly unfragrant feet, the Komodo sank its razor sharp, serrated teeth into the editor's big toe. Bronstein managed to pry its jaws open, salvage his foot and make good his escape. The Komodo made a serious mess of Bronstein's foot, and there are fears that the dragon's dirty teeth may have infected Bronstein; but what about the effect of Bronstein's foot on the Komodo?

Beyond this, there is the issue of what the L.A. Zoo was doing, allowing a bigwig couple like Stone and Bronstein to have a private session du cote de chez Komodo. "We have a number of celebrities who want to go behind the scenes, and he had a fondness for these dragons, according to his wife," zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca told Reuters in the wake of the Komodo's pododic escapade. But why should the rare species have these "special visits" inflicted on them? It may well be that after repeated visitations by Hollywood stars, foreign dignitaries and the like, the Komodo, confronted by Bronstein's naked feet, decided to take a stand.

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Albion Monitor June 16, 2001 (

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