Quite the World, Isn't It?
July 11, 2009
One of my must-stops in San Francisco is the San Francisco Brewing Co., which I first visited back in the late 1980s while in the city doing some advance stories for Pope John Paul II's United States tour. Margaret was able to join me for that trip -- pre-kids -- and it was our introduction to a city that has become one of our favorites.
So last week, after hitting the San Francisco Zoo, we stopped in North Beach for a late lunch at the SF Brewing Co. (which was included in my recent travel piece on the brew coast). Like most brewpubs, the place has an erasable board where it tells customers which of its arsenal of brews are available on any given day.
The new beer for last week: Bacon Beer.
I figured, what the hell and ordered a pint. It wasn't bad. Brewmaster Brandon Crain stopped by our table and we chatted about the beer for a bit. We agreed it was fun but, as Crain called it, a "one pint beer." He brewed it by using crumbled bacon as the dry hops -- a technique Crain played with after tasting a bacon martini at another San Francisco bar. The martini didn't work -- the flavors would be impossible to mesh, I would think. But it got him thinking.
The best part of the beer was the jokes -- "A pint of pig, please." As we were finishing lunch two regulars came in and ordered a couple of pints -- one of them saying it made him want to order a side of ham and eggs.
June 19, 2009
One of the joys of being married to an elementary school teacher is you never get rid of the school-age inspired sense that summer begins sometime in the third week of June. I grew up in the Northeast -- Scarborough, Maine, and Wellsville, New York -- and it became ingrained that the end of school meant warm weather. Even when, in reality, days began staying pretty warm in May and continued into late October.
But it's interesting how the cycles of young life stay with you. As a freelance writer, my time is pretty much my own. For example, I was up at three a.m. today to let the dog out and, unable to fall back to sleep, worked on research for a couple of hours on The Fear Within (reading back through letters from and to one of the defendants, Gil Green) then went back to bed.
And living in Southern California -- well, it always feels like summer around here. So this wonderful sense of summer is a bit Pavlovian, rooted in personal history rather than the reality of the present. Similarly, I don't miss the seasons of the Northeast (though I never minded snow) but after 12 years in SoCal I find I've lost track of time. When you're used to measuring years in quarters, and the tethers of memory are seasons ("No, we did that two winters ago"), well, life takes on a sense of suspended animation.
Which also means it flies by incredibly quickly ... but just for related fun (give it a few seconds to fire up):
A third-generation journalist, I was born in Scarborough, Maine, and grew up there and in Wellsville, New York, about two hours south of Buffalo. My first newspaper job came at age 16, writing a high school sports column for the Wellsville Patriot, a weekly (defunct), then covering local news part-time for the Wellsville Daily Reporter.
After attending Fredonia State, where I was editor of The Leader newspaper and news director for WCVF campus radio, I worked in succession for the Jamestown Post-Journal, Rochester Times-Union (defunct), The Detroit News and the Los Angeles Times, where I covered presidential and other political campaigns, books, local news and features, including several Sunday magazine pieces.
An active freelancer, my work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Sierra Magazine, Los Angeles magazine, Orange Coast magazine, New York Times Book Review (books in brief), Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Teaching Tolerance (Southern Poverty Law Center), Solidarity (United Auto Workers) and elsewhere. I teach or have taught journalism courses at Chapman University and UC Irvine, and speak occasionally at school and college classes about journalism, politics and writing. I've appeared on panels at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and the Literary Orange festival, moderated panels at the Nieman Conference in Narrative Journalism and the North American Labor History Conference, among others, and been featured on C-SPAN's Book TV.
I'm also a co-founder of The Journalism Shop, a group of journalists (most fellow former Los Angeles Times staffers) available for freelance assignments.
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