FIFTY FREAKIN' YEARS Whoo-hoo! Everyone loves a party, so Dick's Drive-In is starting its 50th-anniversary celebrations now. Its actual anniversary isn't until Jan. 28, 2004, but hey, Dick's can get the party going now, if it damn well pleases. It's only the oldest fast-food joint in the state (McDonald's, eat your heart out), after all, and home of the best fries in Seattle. Dick's kicked off the festivities in October with an eBay benefit auction, hawking furniture from its now- remodeled Queen Anne location. (The very bench Bill Gates sat on for his famous "60 Minutes" interview went for $80.) All proceeds went to Dick's "Change for Charity" homeless-assistance program. Earlier this month, we had a sit-down with Dick's founder and president-for-life Dick Spady, 79-year-old social scientist/theoretician/Zone-diet enthusiast/cutest man ever. We had a Dick's chocolate shake. He had a vanilla ice-cream sundae with butterscotch. He wore a Dick's shirt. It was lovely. Look for more coverage of Dick's golden anniversary in these very pages next year. Let our homage begin with a countdown: 428 days until the Big Day. MATTERS OF THE HEART Politicians? Hearts? What? Don't be alarmed. The state leaders starring in those KOMO-TV commercials are talking about a figurative heart—the heart of Washington state: agriculture. It's all part of an advertising campaign—coined From The Heart of Washington—to convince Washingtonians to buy locally produced agricultural products. Gov. Gary Locke and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are joined in the ads by Washington sports figures, such as Mariner John Olerud, local chefs Kathy Casey and Tom Douglas, and real live Washington farmers. Coincidentally, are you aware that Kathy Casey's been abducted by "culinary diva"-snatching aliens? Check out the From the Heart of Washington Web site, www.heartofwashington.com, for a link to Casey's abducted likeness, demonized and sent back to Earth to wreak havoc on our mashed potatoes. VIVA EL SANDWICH! Alas, our friend Bulent Ertur, the good Sandwich Man, is still wearing stripes in the Seattle Immigration and Naturalization Service detention facility. The INS took our favorite Turkish sandwich maker away from his Broadway lunch counter in April, seemingly never to let him go. One wonders just what the INS has against sandwiches. Perhaps the INS had an upsetting past episode involving a sandwich. Perhaps INS actually stands for "I No Like Sandwiches," and there's a giant picture of a sandwich with a red slash through it hanging over the director's desk. Well, this goes out to you, Department of Homeland Security sandwich haters: We want our beloved Bulent back! Thank you. COMINGS AND GOINGS There's a new chef in the house at Ponti Seafood Grill. OK, so he's not exactly new, but sous chef Jake Reagan's been promoted to executive chef departe while actual executive chef Tom Hollywood takes a six-month educational hiatus in France. Should you stop by Ponti in the next hemi-year, give a nod to young Reagan, who'll be dutifully doing his thing in the kitchen. 3014 Third Ave. N., 206-284-3000. QUEEN ANNE/FREMONT BRIDGE. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at email@example.com.