Chronicle Shopnotes – farewells and such

Chronicle journalists, already adept at writing alternatives to the alternative facts, are still challenged on occasion by alternative spellings. Photo by Curiouser & Curiouser 2017

It was Joe Garofoli who, while the applause for the departing C.W. Nevius was still resounding in the office and before Chuck had even reached the elevator, called out, “OK, who’s got his desk?”…The results are in from the annual Season of Sharing wine sale!  Demian Bulwa got 58 bottles, Peter Fimrite got 47 bottles, Kurtis Alexander got 43 bottles, J.K. Dineen got 38 bottles and Kimmy Veklerov got 20 bottles.  Someone in the building was said to have purchased more than 100 bottles but no one knows exactly who and, as the great Herb Caen said about news tips, “check ’em and lose ’em”  The number of folks wandering the wine tables with their cellphones, clicking photos of the labels to find the “retail” value of various bottles through wine apps, was astonishing.  The staff seems to have forgotten the first rule about wine: You got your reds and you got your whites…

It was just the other day (in geologic time) that cub reporter Dave Perlman was working in the newsroom on the morning  Pearl Harbor was attacked.  The city editor assigned Dave to climb into the Chronicle clocktower and watch for enemy airplanes.  That evening, Dave was at his post when, with great excitement, he spotted a bright light and filed his report.  It turned out to be Venus.  Not long after (in geologic time), Dave was reassigned to cover science.  While we’re on the Perlman beat,we can report that it was right before the staff heartily serenaded Dave during his 98th birthday party in the newsroom that he recounted how his eye doctor had just told him to come back for another checkup in two years.  “If you’re alive,” Dave said he replied.  The strawberry cake was not the sweetest part of the festivities. No, Pluto may no longer be a planet but Dr. Dave is surely the North Star….

If you were wondering what happened to Angus the wonder dog, he got 86ed from the Chronicle after taking a playful leap at a building tenant not long ago.  Owner Dave Wiegand, who knows how to spot a problem in print and in pawprint, felt obliged to enroll Angus in a high-end “military school for dogs” in Pacifica.  The two-week program cost Dave two grand but Angus passed and will likely get to return to the office.  Dave was not allowed, under the rules, to call and find out how Angus was doing during military school.  “We’ll call you,” he was told.  Woof…The great Chronicle reporter Bernard (“Tape”) Taper, who also worked at the New Yorker and as a UC Berkeley journalism prof (and whose students included  Curiouser and Curiouser), has died at 98.  Dave Perlman recalled working with Tape in the 1950s and said he was a “great writer” from the manual typewriter days when a reporter didn’t have to apply default packaging.  He sure was…After 24 years, Deb Saunders got a farewell cake sendoff (thank you, Guild) and a Kevin Fagan song and a Leah Garchik set of goodby limericks (“A Chronicle life is a journey/That possibly ends on a gurney/But not for dear Deb/Our own right-wing reb/A Saunders as famous as Bernie”) and nary a dry eye, especially from the goodby girl… Report from the Mail Room:  Our own Joe Jacques says a young new employee with an actual letter to mail asked if he had “one of those sticker thingies.”  Joe replied, “You mean a postage stamp?”  It’s a new world out there…

Welcome to a whole bunch of new Chronicle hires and dues-paying Guild members (it’s not so bad)  who have never before (lucky for them) been exposed to Shopnotes:   sports designer Nick Lozito, medical writer Catherine Ho, business writer Trisha Thadani, business writer Dominic Fracassa, designer Daymond Gascon, columnist David Talbot and food writer Justin Phillips.   And fond farewells to the great Vicki Colliver, Jessica Floum and  Amanda Gold…Another great Christmas potluck buffet, organized by the amazing Dave (“Mr. Brownie of the Week”) de la Fuente and featuring the company’s contribution of enough terrific ham and turkey to feel the Roman legions.  San Francisco street trumpeter Michael Bess was invited upstairs to blast out a few carols and jazz standards and share in the bounty…We think we’ve got the new 401k plan figured out!  You can’t look up how the new funds are doing or exactly how much they cost in fees, because they’re brand new and designed just for us!   We’re saving a lot on fees but they can’t tell us how much!   What’s not to like?…  Don’t forget to try the new M&M flavors — coffee nut and dark mint — in the Guild’s newsroom candy dispenser.  Remember it’s the only entirely free union-sponsored pachinko-style candy machine in the history of U.S. journalism…Assistant metro editor Terry Robertson, to reporter Mike Cabanatuan:  “When will that story be done?”   Mike: “Well, if I blow off your edits, 10 minutes.”  Terry:  “If you blow off my edits, it shouldn’t take 10 minutes”…Once again, the leftover holiday candy was outstanding.  High end chocolate boxes on every table in the office.  We love Christmas and we love Mssrs. Ghirardelli, Lindt and Scharffenberger…

There’ll always be a news desk!  Overheard one rainy winter evening, a spirited discussion among Kurt Aguilar, Shay Quillan and Reid Sams as to whether newly hospitalized Charlie Manson was a serial killer or a mass murderer and whether the word “serial” or “mass” represented more bodies. Now for even more Manson news!    Which Chronicle reporter was elected president of her high school class in 1983 possibly because her opponent ran an ill-advised campaign based on Manson’s famous “Helter Skelter” slogan? …We’re all on the same team around here.  Yes, that was art critic Charles Desmarais skillfully covering a Muni bus accident….Fun Fact: The Chronicle, which formerly had no managing editor, now has two…Overheard in the newsroom!  Editor to reporter:  “Come on!  You’re spending more time looking at the fixes than I spent fixing it!”…Talk about a speedup!  The company announced that it would conduct a “five-year sprinkler inspection that will last three or four days”…

Dept. of Dubious Achievement Awards:  Yes, there are different ways for us Hearst employees to go home after work!  Somehow, a receipt for two New York car service rides for Jay Fielden, the new editor of Esquire magazine, got misdirected to a Chronicle reporter’s expense account.  Don’t ask how it happened, we have no idea.  But the receipt shows that Fielden’s two rides home, from New York City to his house in Connecticut, cost the company $317 and $248…The big January storm-ageddon hit close to home!  Steven Boyle has what may be a world-record-shattering ant invasion – he’s posted pictures on Facebook. Kat Duncan’s ceiling collapsed. And heavy rain leaking through the roof caused a ceiling tile to crumble and send debris all over Mike Gray’s office…It’s been two months and the mysterious “spare part” that is keeping the second lobby elevator out of service is still on back order!  Oh well, it’s 53 steps from the lobby up to the third floor (we counted) and each one is good for you…In honor of Valentine’s Day, we gladly pass along the following from Nanette Asimov’s famed uncle Isaac, a noted limerick writer in addition to a noted writer of everything else:  “A well known reporter, Clark Kent/Had a simpering, mild-mannered bent/But he grabbed Lois Lane/And then made it quite plain/What his cognomen, Superman, meant”   We had to look up cognomen, too…

 — Curiouser and Curiouser

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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.

3 thoughts on “Chronicle Shopnotes – farewells and such

  1. Thanks, Steve, for adding me to the shopnotes list. I have been enjoying Jon and Tracy Carroll’s blog. Only found out about it through you! Greetings from rainy (and warm) Wellsville, PA.
    Rosalie Pakenham

  2. Steve, thanks for keeping this tradition going — in your enjoyable, inimitable style. I miss my occasionally halcyon days at the Chronicle.

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