Chronicle Shopnotes for the holidays
After four decades, C.W. Nevius has departed to, as he says, sit on the sofa and empty the dishwasher. He plans to write a book on the 1989 earthquake (the “hundreds dead in huge quake” one), and also to teach, swim and jog, running up literal sweats instead of figurative ones. “Actually,” C.W. said, “the real reason I retired is because it was the only way I could get into Shopnotes.” We’ll miss you, Chuck. His departure involved a farewell luncheon at (where else?) John’s Grill, where the Maltese Falcon wept, and also a dead-on farewell cartoon card extolling C.W.’s “stringy spewings of ink” from the great ink spewer Don Asmussen. Then, at the last minute, a routine Board of Supervisors proclamation paying tribute to Chuck’s career was vetoed by Supervisor John Avalos, who said our boy was without “the honor (or) the character to be a real journalist.” Yikes! It was the first resolution of its kind that anyone could remember not winning approval. “I’m honored beyond words,” said Chuck. …
Nostalgia fans said it felt just like being back in fourth grade! The exciting office fire drill featured the voice of the future (“Please Walk!”) over the hidden loudspeakers, followed by a big block party on Mission Street. Stand in line on the concrete until the all clear! All that was missing was the school principal (Hi, Mrs. Guillestegui, wherever you are). … Carl Nolte, who has taken four sick days in 55 years, has 546 sick days in the bank. “I feel fine,” he said. “Darn it.” Meanwhile, Carl said he somehow owes the Chronicle 62 hours of vacation this year. “If I quit today, I won’t get a gold watch. I’ll get a bill.”
A great Chronicle alumni lunch at (where else?) John’s Grill featured Jane Kay, Allen Matthews and Mike Taylor along with the usual suspects and the famous “half Jack” (half of a legendary Jack LaLanne salad). No, we don’t know what happens to the other halves. … Shopnotes Tip! Remember that at lunch time you have the option of bringing your sack lunch (or Joe and Fi’s takeout) to the public open spaces on the roof of the new Hampton Inn or on the sixth-floor veranda of the Intercontinental Hotel. Dine al fresco! Great views! Free! … The new high-tech credit-card refrigerator food gizmo may be up and running, to solid reviews, but nothing beats a panini grilled to order by our amazing dynamic duo. … Overheard! Trapper Byrne discussing closed S.F. funeral homes with J.K. Dineen: “One’s an aberration, two’s a coincidence, three’s a trend.”
Raul the Tortoise, longtime companion of Kevin Fagan, is off to his new home at John McMurtry’s house, slowly. “He eats lettuce and cabbage, makes no noise and disagrees with nothing you say,” said Kevin in his online tortoise bio. Raul used to live in Kevin’s living room but, as street musician Kevin well knows, no gig lasts forever. John was faster to reply to Kevin’s “tortoise available” post than Peter Fimrite, whose search for the right tortoise must continue. … An 83-year-old reader sent Leah Garchik a homemade gift and a note of thanks for her nearly half-century at the Chronicle. “As I look back on my life of 83 years,” the letter said, “I suddenly realize there are some special people that God has given me the privilege to know and call my friend.” The gift? A coat hanger with lace trimming. … Not so much leftover Halloween trick-or-treat candy on the free table this year. Just saying …
The sign on the bottle of Absolut vodka placed in the middle of the newsroom on election night declared “Non-Partisan Post-Election Night Aid.” Andy Behr had fished it out of her desk drawer (it had been bequeathed to her by Andrea Abney, to whom it had been bequeathed by Wanda Ravernell). Before long, the contents had vanished. Whether anyone was aided in the process is another matter. Well, the election-night pizza and salad were great and also disappeared quickly, along with common sense. …
Andy Behr and David Steinberg issued their annual list of Christmas cliches that they have ordered banished from the Chronicle, declaring ” ’tis the season” to be “public enemy No. 1 (itself a cliche, but never mind).” Also banned are ” ’twas the night before, well, anything” and “Yes, Virginia.” A worried John Blanchard decided he had better not submit any red-and-green graphics. … Andy, by the way, was arrested in her high school days for protesting the firing of a teacher at a meeting of the school board, so it’s no wonder she understands about being tough. … Lost amidst the post-election upheaval is the fact that Ms. Clinton had company in her attempt to break the glass ceiling. Our own Gloria LaRiva, the Peace and Freedom Party candidate for president, lost too. Gloria, a seasoned veteran of both Chronicle prepress and the campaign trail, collected more than 40,000 votes and did manage to defeat Clinton in the number of times she has lost an election (Gloria also lost for governor in 1994 and 1998). Hard to believe that she got in hot water for walking through the office on election eve passing out informational fliers about ballot propositions. If employees’ kids selling Girl Scout cookies in the office aren’t a distraction, the clear-thinking Gloria pointed out, shouldn’t democracy get a break (or something)? It’s still a free country, at least until the inauguration.
Your dues money at work, continued! Don’t forget the big Guild open house at the breathtakingly remodeled office at 433 Natoma on Friday, Dec. 16, in the late afternoon and early evening. Carl Hall will play his harmonica, which could have a dramatic effect on the festivities. The Guild plans to move and consolidate its operation to the second floor and rent out the old space on top, saving members an entire flight of stairs per visit.
The Cal band, trombones swaying back and forth, made its annual Big Game Week visit to the newsroom, a tradition that goes back seven decades. Even Stanford glum alums Marshall Kilduff and Bob (class of ’68) Egelko were tapping their toes, although Bob did mouth the words to the “Dirty Golden Bear” parody while the band was belting out the Cal fight song. “I had to do it,” said Bob. … Which masthead editor dropped his (or her) print subscription to the Chronicle? “Couldn’t afford it, even at half price,” the editor said. … Always pick up stuff from the free table! The other day, there was a Barrel of Monkeys game and, after a brief tournament, Jill Tucker was named most proficient monkey. Jill, by the way, recently sold her 1,000th item in her Etsy recycled treasures business. Many of them were tiki mugs. … Daisy, Russell Yip’s dog, has been issued her very own building pass. It’s laminated. She has tried to eat it on several occasions. … Shopnotes Fun Fact: Columnist David Talbot’s arrival means there are now no fewer than four staff members who had a kid in the same Ruth Asawa S.F. School of the Arts high school graduating class of 2012.
It sure was exciting to receive in the mail an official-looking document that said it was a “Hearst Employee Program Summary” and had those pay-stub-style side perforations to rip open carefully. Which we did! Carefully! It turned out to be a pitch for car insurance. The good news is that the company probably got such a cut from selling the staff mailing list to an insurance company that it can continue to sponsor the wonderful office ham and turkey Thanksgiving and Christmas night staff dinners, which this year were truly terrific. Spiral-cut ham that seemed to go on forever, in the nature of spirals and junk mail. It’s a win-win.
Curiouser and Curiouser