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Chronicle Shopnotes

May 2016

Send gossip, titillating trivia and scandal to: srubenstein@sfchronicle.com

We know we all signed that electronic document swearing that we read the new employee handbook (and some of us actually did read it), but we are still scratching our heads about the part that said employees may not drink alcohol while on company trips and the other part that said employees may drink alcohol “in a responsible manner” at business meetings.  That clears that up.   The handbook also requires employees using laptops to “fasten (them) to a heavy fixed object using a security cable” at all times. (You bet.)   And avoid “excessive chatting during working time”  Hmmm.  What else is Shopnotes but excessive chatting?  Better stop reading right now…

News matters most -- according to JK Dineen , Mike Cabanatuan, Carl Nolte, Leah Garchik and Steve Rubenstein -- when you get a free T-shirt.

News matters most — according to JK Dineen , Mike Cabanatuan, Carl Nolte, Leah Garchik and Steve Rubenstein — when you get a free T-shirt.

We’re Not No. 1 (or No. 2) Dept.:  For some reason, the Secret Service decided that the northeast men’s room on the third floor was a security risk during Bernie Sanders’ visit with the editorial board and declared it off limits for 2 1/2 hours.  Thanks, earphone guys!  (And SFGate folks were not allowed to leave their office while Bernie was in the building.) The meeting was streamed, so at least there was that variety of streaming going on. “We were told it was closed so Bernie could use it without the riffraff,” said Leba Hertz, who isn’t afraid to ask tough questions.   When he wasn’t peeing — alone and in safety —  Sanders answered other important questions — he told Joe Garofoli that he was happy to admit he was a Democratic socialist who’d had a “romantic honeymoon in the Soviet Union” with 10 other people, he told Owen Thomas that he wasn’t sure if Wells Fargo was one of the banks that needed breaking up, he told John Diaz that he “can’t promise the San Francisco Chronicle will be the host” of his possible upcoming debate with Hillary and he told Deb Saunders that he did “not have enough information, nor do you” to know if Hillary’s e-mails were hacked.  Bernie brought his wife along, to help him weather other questions from the likes of Caille Millner, Spencer Whitney, Andy Ross, Marshall Kilduff and John Wildermuth (who was wearing a necktie.)  When Audrey Cooper said the reason UC wasn’t tuition free is that California ran out of money, Sanders replied, “I’m not so sure.”   (Some people you don’t disagree with, Senator.)  But when Audrey noticed Sanders was writing her name on his page of notes, she helpfully said, “It’s A-U-D-R-E-Y.” Throughout the meeting, sources tell Shopnotes, the Secret Service stood by with a “gas hood” ready to be plopped over Sanders’ head in the event of a gas attack on the Chronicle.  No similar gas hoods were available for the editorial board, who are the folks who need such protection when interviewing candidates…

Handily competing in the local handyman business are former copy editor Margo Freistadt and former Guild Executive Officer Doug Cuthbertson, who refer clients to each other because there is too much broken-down stuff in the Bay Area for only one handyman.  (FYI, Margo calls herself a “handy human.”)  And which copy editor hired Margo to re-tile her bathroom with an elaborate colored mosaic pattern that is winning raves from her various bathroom guests?…

Metro editor Trapper Byrne beat 11,005 other runners in the qualification-only Boston Marathon, the world’s most prestigious foot race, with a time of 4:15:20.  He finished 1,166th in his age group and we’re not saying which age group that is, because we like working here…

Dept. of Ho and Hum:  We’re excited to announce that Greenhouse Onboarding, whatever that means, is the thing that replaced Parklet, whatever that means.  As they say in the movies, it’s the future, Mr. Gittes…

Crime in the Big City:  The amazing Joe and Fi intercepted a fake $100 bill from a street guy.  It had the watermark, it had the security strip, it had the nice detail on Franklin’s hairline but, noticed the ever-alert Fi, it had no color-shifting ink.  After Fi called him on it, the bad guy hastily departed and our favorite baristas kept the bill behind the counter as a curiosity.  Check it out with your next double macchiato.  This follows three fake 20s that Joe and Fi have spotted in the past year. (The new Harriet Tubman 20s can’t arrive soon enough, says Joe.) Meanwhile, all  those business stories about Yahoo being in a tight spot must be true because Yahoo has cancelled its Jo & Fi sponsorship  (and the second cash register, for ringing up Yahoo employees’  “free” food and drink, is now gone).  As a result, Joe and Fi say,  they’re facing a 25% cut in business.  So Shopnotes suggests if you’re thinking about where to get a sandwich at lunch, there’s a handy place right here in the building.  Remember to bring your color-shifting ink…

Kale Williams can no longer say he’s never been in Shopnotes.  Unfortunately, it’s because he’s heading off to the Oregonian, a newspaper that has the advantage of being located, along with Kale’s girlfriend, Rececca, in Portland.  Rebecca is an acupuncturist, and the hole she poked in the Chronicle’s breaking news coverage will be hard to patch.  Going with him to Portland is a football signed by Kale’s bereft colleagues.  At his farewell newsroom gathering were two dozen mini brownies, each with a letter on it, arranged to spell “Kale is our favorite veggie,” which he is and will forever be…Welcome to new deputy managing editor Ron Kitagawa, formerly of BANG and the Murky News, who had been semi-retired for two years and working as a helper in his wife’s dental office when he decided it was time to get back into action.  Ron, a basketball player since his high school days, had to cut one of the two weekly pickup games from his schedule in order to take the job.  Shopnotes Fun Fact:  Ron’s wife once drilled and filled one of Demian Bulwa’s molars…

Former reporter Steve (“Lady, you can talk to me or you can talk to the FBI”) Magagnini, currently of the Sacramento Bee, is teaching journalism these days at UC Davis, where students have awarded him an A- on the Rate My Professor website.  “Chronic name dropper, but he does have a bachelor’s degree,” wrote one student.  Said another, “Preaches too much about ‘cosmic truth.’  He wouldn’t know the cosmic truth if it bit him in the ass.” Make those kids clean the erasers after class, Mag…

The big news from the California Senate debate at the University of the Pacific in Stockton was the plate of dandelion-infused pasta that UOP food professor Ken Abala whipped up and presented to Joe Garofoli in the press room as he was crafting his usual dandelion-infused prose.  The bribe included a glass of white wine but the debate was sufficiently sobering that Joe had no trouble writing non-slurred copy and driving fellow keyboard pounder Deb Saunders back to SF afterwards.  John Diaz was in command in the role of lead debate questioner, adroitly and humorously dealing  with over-the-time-limit candidates and their non-answers.  At a key moment, the mighty Carlos Gonzalez deftly ducked under the TV camera boom with inches to spare, or the whole telecast might have gone south.  Earlier, Audrey Cooper conducted a terrific roundtable meeting with UOP journalism students at which she recounted her technique for interviewing gas station customers during her Stockton days, and she encouraged the young folks to become reporters only if they liked the work and absolutely had to do it — because, she said, the hours and the pay were not so hot (she used another word but the Guild runs a family website).   With minutes to go before the debate started, a staffer approached Jeff Johnson, seated near the stage, and he OK’d the admittance of a Chronicle reporter (a.k.a. Curiouser and Curiouser)  who had been left off the media list and had been kept waiting at the auditorium door.   It was a Chronicle-sponsored debate, after all.  Thanks, chief.  Actually, we are forgetting the biggest news of all — the results of a Chronicle survey (conducted by C & C)  of 10 randomly selected passersby outside the auditorium.  Not one of them could name a single candidate on the debate stage.  The closest anyone came was a security guard who identified one candidate as “Emmylou Harris”…

Former features maven Anastasia Hendrix is the new features editor at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  “I’ll be fulfilling my dream of meeting Robin Leach and sipping cocktails served in vessels as big as my head,” she says. And she’ll be commuting on weekends to her SF home because what happens in Vegas apparently doesn’t stay in Vegas.  Look out, Sheldon Adelson…Having lunch with Anastasia in a SOMA bistro the other day was fellow former features maven Meredith White, in between trips to her hometown of New York, where she even managed to score tickets for “Hamilton”  (Shopnotes Fun Fact: Meredith is the niece of late U.S. Supreme Court justice Byron  White)…Not going to “Hamilton” on his recent trip to New York was Bill “Hutch” Hutchinson.  He did, however, attend a Springsteen concert, take in two other Broadway shows and eat a pastrami sandwich at Katz’s deli that was taller than several midtown buildings…Which veteran reporter’s official evaluation said he was an “asset to the brand?”…

Leah Garchik’s son, Jacob, posted a short video of his pet dog licking a stray kitten in his Brooklyn backyard.  Someone suggested Leah pass it along to SFGate, and she did.  Thirty thousand hits in one day.  It’s the future, Mr. Gittes…Former managing editor Jerry Roberts was in town for another trip through the tunnel of love, a.k.a. the MRI machine at UCSF, where the news was good.  Jerry has ditched the cane that had made him look reasonably distinguished and he’s back to his normal shuffling around.  He handily put away a half-pound kielbasa (alter slathering it with about a pint of mustard) at AT&T Park, which he had no small role in getting built…

While we’re on the medical front, the newest “doctor of humane letters” is our own Carl Nolte, who was presented the honorary degree following his commencement address at USF.  “Do the small things,” Carl’s speech said.  “All big decisions are based on small decisions.”  He joins former Gov. Pat Brown and the Dalai Lama among fellow honorary humane letter doctors…Former metro-desk assistant Sharon Searles, now an art teacher in Novato, has branched out into hand-painted harmonica cases.  Her private watercolor classes are messy and a lot of fun…

Tale of three copy-editing Daves:  Dave Curtis, rearranged, is “Tad Cursive,” David de la Fuente is “Endive Fatal, Dude!” and David Dayton is “Daddy at Vino”….

No, we don’t want to know what John Diaz meant either when he said “Feel the Byrne.

Yet Another Shopnotes Fun Fact:  New business writer Jessica Floum was an elementary school classmate of former copy editor Laura Merlo’s son, Alan…Welcome to new investigative Cynthia Dizikes, formerly of the Chicago Tribune, a city that needs even more investigating than this one.   The first thing Shopnotes is going to investigate is how to pronounce her name.  She sits under the giant “C” in “Chronicle.” Welcome also  to John Strohmeier in ad sales, who works out of San Carlos, which also has a large “C” in it…

There’ll Always Be a Copy Desk Dept:  Yes, it’s true, it was copy editor Linda Houser who noticed when a freelance writer attributed “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life” to Jane Austen.  It’s actually by Prince.  And thank goodness for the copy editors who changed “civil wart” to “civil war,” who realized that Ronald Reagan’s wife had never played Mr. Spock’s mom on “Star Trek” and who weren’t too sheepish to catch “war criminal on the lamb” (baaa).   Meanwhile, the usually fearless Andy Behr reports that the Chronicle Style Council no longer meets because “the threat of violence was too great.”  According to David Steinberg, the item that sent folks over the edge was “–sucker” (“avoid unless such language is essential to the story…use of explicit language, including dashed-out profanities, must be approved be a senior editor (department head or above)”   Well, f— that…

Michael Gray, pleading for the return of his misplaced Chronicle ID badge, pointed out that it “will have a photo that looks sort of like me”…Former reporter Bill Carlsen is on the bookstore lecture circuit these days, plugging his new book “Jungle of Stone” about the discovery of the Mayan civilization.  Maya book Aztec around to Tikal our fancy (even if you say it out loud, it’s not funny)…Another terrific Thirsty Thursday, featuring non-virgin margaritas, chicken tacos, churros and, on the overhead TVs, circulation graphs going uphill, of all things.  Jeff Johnson said he explained the Chronicle’s secret to the amazed folks at NY headquarters: “Great people and a great product.”  You got that right, chief, and them margaritas (consumed by one and all in a “responsible manner” per the employee handbook) were a great product, too.

— 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.

1 Comment

  1. May 18, 2016 at 4:45 pm — Reply

    Man. It almost sounds fun to work there. Are these the Good Old Days?

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