Rediscovered: My First Time in the Times


I was chatting with a photo editor for the New York Times, narrowing down a date to meet the photog and shoot around a hundred pics for the Dan Saltzstein noir-in-San Francisco article that ran the other day — a hundred or more shots, and one gets selected.

I was telling her, It’s not like this is the first time I’ve been mentioned in the Times. The clippings are buried in my files, but I recall one major article from somewhere around twenty years ago, and at least a few times got a nod in the annual Travel round-up they do about visiting San Francisco.

The very first article in 1981, though, that was a landmark moment. You’ve never been mentioned in the Times, and now you have — journal-of-record stuff. I appreciate every return to those pages, but you can’t beat the thrill of that initial coverage by John Justice.

A year ago or so I was surfing around the web and found that the Times had put that first write-up online in kind of a retro archive, and figured I could link to it someday — another appearance in the newspaper now making a good excuse.

Now, I know I’m going to regret doing this link, at least a little bit — because inevitably someone is going to think the info from 1981 is the current scoop. No, that was 33 years ago, people. The phone number is long dead, the phone itself abandoned somewhere down the years, with the number living on as a voicemail nodule somewhere in the vaults of PacBell until it too got dropped. The addy in 537 Jones Street (the Continental Mail Service — Continental, get it?) was ditched, too, years back. The rates, the schedule — anything mentioned is all history now.

Some words got left out of the original print version — the “soaked research into low-life dives” should be “booze-soaked research” (I believe Dan Saltzstein also has reference to that activity in the most recent Times bit — some things never change).

And the version archived online merely lists Illustrations: drawing. The 1981 appearance featured a nice illo by Bob Gale, shown at the top of this post. I guess my files are better than those of the Times on some things, at least on the history of the Dashiell Hammett Tour.


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