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[whitespace] First, De Fence

A brief overview of how the bigwigs keep riffraff like you and me out

By Kelly Luker

Photographs by George Sakkestad

HERE'S ONE OF LIFE'S RULES for Big Enchiladas: If you've got it, flaunt it--except where the little people can gawk. Build that McMansion up a winding road, behind a thatch of sycamores and over yonder past a few foothills. And don't forget the gate.

Ornate gates? Grated gates? Bill Gates copycat gates? It's time to deconstruct the wrought iron that separates us from Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Scott McNealy and John Chambers.


Isn't It Iron, Ick?

One of Larry Ellison's discarded trophy wives lives around the corner from Jobs. Although it is not the Lawrence himself, perhaps we can glean a little about Barbara--and her ex--from this formidable iron that stands sentinel between her and me. It is an imposing gate, one that seems to say, You bastard, You couldn't keep it in your pants, could you? But you will pay. Oh yes. You will pay. To the tune of millions and millions so I can be Woodside's premiere social butterfly and you, you can just go find another, another fetus to screw around with, because you are too emotionally retarded to form a meaningful relationship with a grown woman. But then again, perhaps I read too much into this particular gate.


Shabby Chic

Jobs has enough money to maintain an auxiliary residence in Woodside, where neighbors feel compelled to name their properties 'Chateau du Bois' or 'Pond House.' Enough money for 15 bathrooms. One would think he could dig up the cash to replace that funky, lichen-covered gate that hangs lopsidedly like a bad tooth. Oh, wait a minute--maybe Jobs is an aficionado of the hot designer trend known as 'shabby chic.' Maybe, like me, he spends his weekends rescuing dented suitcases from the trash, then throws a delightful gingham cover over them to create a splendid end table. For pennies!


Sarah Winchester Complex

Well, it doesn't take Freud to figure our next one out. The Internet is powered by doohickeys made by Cisco Systems. The wizard behind Cisco is John Chambers. John Chambers' front gate is 'under construction.' The Internet is always 'under construction,' a polite way of saying it's a big, slow hairball of trouble. 'Nuff said.


Safe Swinger

Scott McNealy. Sun Microsystems. Boring gate. At least Jobs' chunk of fence has character, but McNealy's entrance piece is more appropriate for an IBM suit, not the fiery-tempered CEO this valley has come to love and hate. It's just a regular old key-in-the-code kind of rolling fence, offering no warning hint of the high-powered jalapeño lurking inside.


Heaven's Gate

Once again, the Silicon boys and I have much in common. I, too, live tucked away behind a gate. Admittedly, it is plywood, not wrought iron. I know what it is like to live in the kind of neighborhood where folks take to naming their land. The tumbledown shack known as Slug Manor (a.k.a. Petit Escargot) is just over the next holler. The magnates have their outdoor sculptures and we have ours--a discarded refrigerator and a pickup truck perched on blocks. Sometimes, the closeness I feel to my dotcom brothers is downright scary.

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From the July 27-August 2, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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