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Chronicle Shopnotes – tasty pie, weak coffee and strong union

San Francisco Chronicle unit members of the Guild get behind the truism that “Democracy Depends on Journalism.” Photo by Media Workers staff 2017

No wonder all hands showed up at the all-hands meeting, as it was preceded by this official announcement: “We will serve pizza from Patxi’s following the meeting.  You can still have pizza if you don’t come to the meeting but will be limited to one slice of cheese only.”  Also on the free-pizza beat were a couple of dozen pies served up to the newsroom courtesy of Kevin Austin, a retired newsman who raised more than $7K to send free pizzas to U.S. newsrooms.  Thanks, Kevin, and thanks for holding the anchovies…Yes, it’s true, that strange document posted on the front door of 901 Mission Street was a notice of violation from the S.F. Dept. of Building Inspection!  The inspectors found “non-compliant wiring installed on levels 1, 2 and 3” on modular furniture.   We agree, it’s not the only non-compliant thing at Fifth and Mission…The shepherd’s pie just kept going on and on — it was the highlight of the St. Patrick’s Day Eve edition of Thirsty Thursday, and then it was back in the newsroom on Freeloader Friday for lunch.  (The half-gallon of Jameson Irish Whiskey was missing on Friday, but you can’t have everything.)   Thirsty Thursday is turning out to be one of the great institutions in U.S. journalism.  This year it even included a visit from Kevin Fagan’s Irish Newsboys, featuring Josh Zucker, playing the double bass via a cellphone app, and with special guest star Richard Geiger masterfully frailing (look it up) a century-old five-string banjo…We also liked Ice Cream Thursday, an equally noble institution, and All-Hands Tamale Wednesday.  We even paid attention to the all-hands part!.

Our shrinking habitat: The basement, once the domain of employee lounges, lunchrooms, do-gooder blood drives and ping pong tables, is now off limits.  Next thing to go, polar ice caps…Cue Twilight Zone music:   By coincidence, a member of the 1970s Chronicle softball team found himself on a New Zealand-to-SF flight seated a few seats away from a member of an arch rival media softball team.  Also on the New Zealand beat, be sure to ask Carl Nolte to sing you the New Zealand national anthem.  He knows all the words, and he likes to belt them out on deadline…

Two legendary former metro reporters, Rob Haeseler and Bill Wallace, have died.  Rob was a great writer of classic stories (as well as a book about classic cars) and a lifelong collector and chronicler of classic postage stamps.  Bill was a crime novelist, an unequaled rewrite man and an investigative reporter whose targets included wife abusers, bad cops, union busters “and other social parasites,” as Bill would say.  Bill was a Daily Cal alum from the era that brought reporters Bill Carlsen, Tom Gilmore, Don Lattin and Curiouser and Curiouser to the Chronicle…Shopnotes Quiz:  Who was NY Daily News reporter Bill Hutchinson talking about in a 2005 obit when he wrote that the person “savored  his privacy while letting his legendary career speak for itself”? …In case you were wondering what it takes to get picked to be the Chronicle’s newest metro columnist, the qualifications (according to HR) are a “demonstrated knowledge of San Francisco Bay Area politics, culture, demographics and history, a demonstrated ability to generate provocative stories and experience holding institutional powers accountable.”  Hey, that’s what we do at the Guild!  Hold institutional powers accountable!  Where do we sign up?… Answer to Shopnotes Quiz:  Johnny Carson.

Lizzie Johnson, covering the Oroville Dam evacuation on her birthday, checked into her cozy Super Eight motel room in Corning and discovered that,  hanging on the wall above her bed,  was a giant photo of the dam.  “Uh, sweet dreams?” she mused.  Not hardly.  Before turning in, Lizzie also had to fix the disgusting motel room toilet. (She called her dad for plumbing pointers.  Dads are good for something.)  Happy birthday, Lizzie!…It’s Not Your Father’s Chronicle Dept.:  Yes it’s true we now have both a cannabis editor, David Downs, and a cannabis intern, Spencer Silva.  When not reading fantasy literature, Spencer likes to walk his Australian shepherd, Wilbur...Mark Lundgren doesn’t like cake…Shopnotes Quiz:   Which reporter had “Let’s Get Drunk and Screw” played as the recessional at her wedding?…Thank goodness it’s in the contract!  “Reporters shall not be transferred to the position of copy editor for punitive reasons.”  Check it out!  Article 1, section F!  Doesn’t say anything about copy editors being forced to be reporters.  Maybe that’s why a perfectly good Webster’s dictionary has gone unclaimed on the free table for a month.  It seems reporters already have flawless spelling.   Remember, there is actually a Chronicle reporter who is married to a Chronicle copy editor.  And not for punitive reasons, according to at least one of them… Speaking of the contract, be sure to ask Carl Hall or Kat Anderson what you can do to help in upcoming negotiations for our next one….Answer to Shopnotes Quiz:  Jill Tucker

Kathleen Pender reports that Donald Trump-brand coffee pods were actually among the offerings at the office coffee brewer.  “Weak, flavorless, overrated, ineffective,” said Kathleen, and that goes for the coffee pods, too…The only good thing about a border wall would have been to keep Emily Green from leaving us and going to Mexico City, which, alas, she did…From the ever-changing Chronicle stylebook! S.F. General, which for a time was Zuckerberg S.F. General, is back to being S.F. General!   And the Oakland Coliseum, which used to be O.Co Coliseum, Overstock Coliseum, Network Associates Coliseum and McAfee Coliseum, is once again Oakland Coliseum!  And there are no more two-alarm, three-alarm and four-alarm fires, which is too bad because that’s where some copy editors wanted to throw the stylebook…

Welcome to new city room administrative assistant Maxine Marshall, who in her other job, for a literary agency, spends her time looking for promising new novelists.  OK, wannabes, the line forms in front of her desk and no pushing…Welcome also to Brittany Schell, new social media maven and Giants fan, to Guy Wathan, multimedia editor and scuba diver, to Madeline Chang, editorial intern and former Stanford Daily columnist, and to Tacuma Roeback, sports fellow and a master’s degree candidate from Northwestern… The second lobby elevator has now been busted for more than four months.   Maybe this can be included in Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure project!  Could be the only way it will ever get fixed…Spud Hilton went hiking in Korea and Taiwan, and it counted as work…

Goodby, office supply room.  After countless decades of always being out of blue pens, it’s been merged with the downstairs mailroom.  Now you will have to go to the first floor to find out there aren’t any blue pens.  It’s the future, Mr. Gittes…It’s true.  Morale plummets on those days when Daisy, Angus and Ramona and Dr. Dave aren’t in the office…Will Hearst’s singing Frank Sinatra statue has been fixed!  Stop by Will’s desk, push the button and hear Old Blue Eyes belt out the first verse of “That’s Life”…Remember that Curiouser and Curiouser would be delighted to include any and all gossip, innuendo  and alternative facts in future editions of Shopnotes; all you have to do is send them to stevenpaulrubenstein@gmail.com…Another theft from the employee parking lot!  This time, half a bottle of men’s cologne. (no kidding)  Building security is hot on the scent…Shopnotes Fun Fact:  Volunteers at SF Animal Care and Control report that rabbits are much more likely to poop on the NY Times than on the SF Chronicle!  It’s true!  (The NY Times, with its all-double pages, is more often reached for by shelter volunteers when changing the rabbit enclosures, because the Chronicle has too many single pages.)  News you can read only in Shopnotes!…Most useful tip at Jill Tucker and Kevin Fagan’s big staff workshop on how to file notes from disaster scenes: “Be careful of teenagers who give you fake names,” Kevin said.  “Like Seymour Butz.”…That was followed by another exciting earthquake drill, with the entire staff making up terrific fake news dispatches full of pathos and angst, and phoning them in.  Get me rewrite!…We love our free “News Matters” t-shirts and our Guild aloha shirts.  Your Guild dues buy more than a few peanut M&Ms from the dispenser…The Viper actually came!  (That would be the Vindow Viper, who came to vipe the vindows, as any camper knows)  We can now see with even greater clarity the folks peeing against the back wall of the Old Mint across the street.  Progress!

 curiouser and curiouser

Pacific Media Workers Guild

Pacific Media Workers Guild

We are the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America. We represent more than 1,200 journalists and other media workers, interpreters, translators, union staffs and freelancers.

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