Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bill Graham; Herb Caen; Old KGO Studios; Short SF Lunch Break

Image result for Thursday in San Francisco THE LATE BILL GRAHAM: dynamic, historic, raconteur, provocateur and epic rock and roll impresario --maybe the greatest ever promoter and showman if not in US history, certainly in Bay Area. Oh, and scared the bejesus out of the SF media.

Ask Joel Selvin.

Image result for Herb CaenI remember one night in the early 80's pre-show backstage at the Oakland Paramount. George Benson was the main event. Bill was stalking his usual self, someone in the room didn't look right to Graham. "Hey, who are you, who da fuk are you?" Turns out Bill's instinct was right as some fake newspaper guy got in and fooled one of Graham's vaunted Blue Coats. They threw him out all right but Bill went nuts with his security. Later on after the vibe returned to normal Bill bought dinner for the entire staff. He was good to his people even if he managed to go berserk every now and then.

*Back then there existed a cool scene in the Bay Area. People actually read the Chronicle. Well, they read Herb Caen and the Sporting Green. And Art Hoppe and Charles McCabe too but Caen ruled the Bay. Sure, he had tons of helpers and scoopers like classy Carole Vernier and Strange De Jim but Caen was must-read first thing in the morning. And everyone in town and beyond read him including Willie Brown, John Burton, All the Alioto family, and almost all restaurant and hotel people. Oh, did I leave out Wilkes Bashford.

Caen wrote six days a week and nobody could figure out how he could do it. I could: Thanks mostly to Macys, Herb was one of the highest paid writers in the nation earning somewhere north of $300 grand plus never had to lift his wallet when dining at his many SF places and sipping "vitamin V" martinis.

Image result for K-101 San Francisco
700 Montgomery Street
*THIS AND THAT THURSDAY: Old, old, old KGO Radio and TV studios used to be at 277 Golden Gate Ave in the Tenderloin which was old, smelly and dirty like it is today but even dirtier and scary as hell back then too...
K-101 (where yours truly bugged Charlie Seraphin to hire him and was rewarded with a Sports reporting gig) was located at 700 Montgomery Street right next to Mel Belli's office.

K-101, the building with the awesome spiral staircase and Jim Gabbert's home away from home.



Image result for joel selvin
Paul Schafer and Joel Selvin





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16 comments:

  1. "Nasty" Hankel, Sharky Hankel's BrotherJanuary 19, 2017 at 2:14 PM

    I miss Herb and the Good Ol Days...dot dot dot...

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  2. Rod Blagojevich (D)January 19, 2017 at 2:50 PM

    Back in the days when people would do people a "solid". I miss those days. I tried to do Barrack a solid but ended up in jail :(

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  3. Sadly, that SF is ancient history. Dead, gone and never coming back.

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    Replies
    1. It's history, but as long as there are memories, photos, and people to talk about it, it's never dead and gone.

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    2. What's depressing is that we remember what it was like then, and we can see what it's degenerated to now.

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    3. Sir P you are so right, that is why I love history. My family's history, world history, the history of my country (Denmark) and of my adopted country the US. I love presidential history, and the history of our first ladies as well, one reason I love when John Rothmann is on KGO, some people think he is boring, but to me he is the best host, bar none, in the whole Bay-Sacramento Area.

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  4. Herb Caen never saw the inside of his wallet, he never opened it.

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    Replies
    1. I'm guessing you Herb fans all know Sam Wo is open again on Clay @ Portsmouth Square. And yes, they still offer Tomato-Beef Chow Mein (as we bow and remember, Herb's fave).

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    2. The better dish is the oyster sauce, beef chow fun. ...

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  5. The only time I thought Herb had it wrong was when, I don't know what the issues were, called Kevin Starr, who passed away a few days ago, a "pompous windbag." I remember walking by the old KGO facility. It had very elegant "Circle 7" lamp-lit globes at either end of the main entrance.

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  6. Another thing missing from the SF Chronicle now--The want ads. (Caen's column was the front of that section usually)

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  7. I lost all respect for Joel Selvin when he started chamnpioning the Steve Perry Journey. He used to teach a class at SF State and a friend of mine who went there became a sort of protege of Selvin. Good writer but full of himself. My buddy later went on to be a music reviewer for the SJ Mercury and I got to attend lots of music shows with him on the Mercury's dime. Highlights included Merle Haggard, the Beastie Boys and Metallica. I was bummed when they switched him to be the Mercury's first Internet feature writer.

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  8. Caen, the master at name dropping to stay popular. Hardly any substance to his writing, more a glorified gossip columnist. I enjoyed McCabe, Hoppe and Delaplane more often.

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  9. It's morning again in America !

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  10. "I'm Rich Lieberman…K101 sportssssss!" Remember hearing your signature tag line, back in the day!

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  11. I only vaguely recall the old 277 Golden Gate radio site. Once in 1972 or '73 I was standing in front of the large window that revealed whoever was on-air, which was pretty cool. The broadcaster saw me and waved and carried on with his work. That was before the Sept. '73 incident when a gunman fired three shots at Jim Dunbar, who was doing an interview program. Although the window was bulletproof, I believe it was removed, but I don't know if that was the reason.

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