The Frisco Beat

Upbeat news, views and tall tales around San Francisco Bay


San Francisco Beat – Chasing the News

Dusk to Dawn Deadlines


My journalism journey began on a tattered bar stool in a Tenderloin District dive.

“What will you have?” asked Les, an affable Filipino bartender who was browsing the Daily Racing Form.

Golden Gate Bridge glows
Golden Gate Bridge Soars

“Uh, Bloody Mary, please,” I muttered, bellying up to a crowded bar of mostly dawn-to-dusk boozers after being shanghaied by a curmudgeon on my first day as a cub reporter for United Press International.

Les sized me up and returned seconds later with a shot and a beer. Without a blink, I chugged the shot and washed it down with the brew. A couple patrons guffawed and one clapped meekly. “Good,” I ventured in a raspy, but lighthearted tone. “Hit me again!

“Let’s play for it,” chirped Donald Thackrey, a grizzled federal court reporter who had earlier burst into the newsroom, introduced himself and said abruptly: “Come on, I’m showing you around.” He meant, a round of drinks.

Haight-Ashbury sign
Ashbury and Haight sign

Richard ‘Dick’ Harnett, the day Desk Editor who taught an advanced news writing class I attended at San Francisco State as Vietnam anti-war protests flared on campus, had astutely hired me as a summer temp.

Now, he warily nodded OK for my rookie initiation by Thackrey, a cantankerous but highly-respected UPI  veteran who quickly scurried me out the door.

Filbert Street in North Beach
Looking down Filbert Street

Don, who eerily resembled his two prize bulldogs, took me straight to the Polk Street Tavern and downed a waiting bourbon on the rocks before I’d even ordered. Les, the bartender, slickly poured a double shot to take its place.

“Come on, we’ll shake for it,” snarled Don, gesturing for the leather dice cups. Five tipsy patrons reached for their dice cups on cue and the drinking games began.

After passing the tenderloin initiation and a ‘sink or swim’ training period of editing/rewriting rapid-fire news stories, I was assigned the night shift rewrite slot, where desk editor Bob Lurati rang a little bell at 5 p.m. sharp and announced, “Cocktail Hour.” He then mixed a stiff martini with a twist — on the rocks — before expertly tackling the major stories to be updated for the next news cycle.

It was a 24-hour “deadline a minute” newsroom with reporters and editors banging out breaking stories about City Hall scandals, Black Panther politics, airline hijackings, anti-war marches, the spreading AIDs epidemic, and Pacific League Triple A baseball games.

Human Be-in at Golden Gate Park
Human Be-In Poster

I relaxed and settled in for a wild, weird, and wondrous journalism journey in the surrealistic realm that gave front row access to jumping frog contests in Calavaras County, Silicone Queen Carol Doda’s topless night club show in North Beach, Grateful Dead. Jefferson Airplane and Santana light-show concerts at Winterland, elite wine tastings in Napa Valley, save the redwoods “tree hugger” clashes in Mendocino and the annual squid festival feast at Monterey Bay.

Next stop: North Beach – pool, pizza, and paparazzi in colorful Babylon by the Bay as the daily lists of American boys killed in Vietnam clicked away ominously on the office teletypes while storm clouds shrouded besieged college campuses where students boycotted classes and burned draft cards to protest the war.

—John “Boomer” Leighty

Also see: boomerbeat_HUMOR – It’s good for what nails you!


Social Poem – NEW ORK, NEW ORK!

“Log off, don’t let your brain explode …”



(to a Sinatra beat)peace-music-symbol:sm

They’re tweeting the news
It’s binging your way
Tune in with social apps
 Click peeps all day

Don’t pause to check mail
Don’t go out and play
Don’t waste your cybertime
 Cruising E-bay!

Just tweak, scan and optimize
Streaming bytes of truth and lies
See filtered views on world woe
                                  By blogging sites that come and go

If when your eyes are tired and red
Emoticons dance in your head
Browse down and slowly ease away
From online chatter night and day

Take time to stretch and touch the sky
Go walk the dog or bake a pie
Log off, don’t let your brain explode
From online content overload!

By John “Boomer” Leighty
… on the Boomer-beat Cloud

Planet Warming May Trigger More Diabetes Cases, says study

Study found a link between increases in temperature and more cases of the blood sugar disease Source: A Warming Planet Might Mean More Diabetes: MedlinePlus Health News

Study found a link between increases in temperature and more cases of the blood sugar disease

Source: A Warming Planet Might Mean More Diabetes: MedlinePlus Health News

Acupuncture eases numbness for people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

There’s new hope for people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, a feeling of numbness, tingling or pain in the hand because of a squeezed nerve at the wrist. It comes in the form of a non-invasive and drug-free method of pain relief: acupuncture, according to a new study published in the journal Brain. Acupuncture,…

via The Weird Way Acupuncture Helps Carpal Tunnel Syndrome — TIME

The fiction you’re not able to read right now builds worlds; poetry breathes.

“fiction you’re not able to read right now builds worlds”

I’ve been hearing & reading a recurring sentiment since the election: I can’t read fiction right now. That I hear it most commonly from those I consider “serious readers” (those who don’t read fiction strictly for entertainment or diversion), is cause for concern — as I understand both the importance they place on reading and the mournful loss they’re experiencing […]

via The fiction you’re not able to read right now builds worlds; poetry breathes.