Thursday, August 2, 2007

Farewell from Ed Epstein

Dear Friends and colleagues:

You have probably already heard that after 23 fun and challenging years at the Chronicle I am taking a buyout, and as of Friday, Aug. 3 I will be riding off into a steamy Washington sunset.

Thanks to the terms of the buyout, I’m leaving with a nice piece of change. I leave with no hard feelings, since there aren’t too many people anymore who can do what they love for 23 straight years with the same employer. Besides, it is better to look forward, then it is to carp about a past that can’t be changed anyway.

So I am zeroing in on a new job, here in Washington, in journalism. If that doesn’t work out, I will broaden the search to public relations, public affairs and beyond, maybe even the federal government. And if Washington doesn’t pan out I’ll return to the Golden West in search of a paycheck in San Francisco, so watch out.

But I do want to look back to tell you how happy I have been to befriend so many wonderful people at the paper, the Newspaper Guild and on the various beats I covered over the years — City Hall, California and San Francisco politics, Congress the UC Board of Regents, foreign affairs, and on and on. My co-workers were by and large wonderful folks, and I made several friends for life at Fifth and Mission.

To list some would be to slight others.

But a few stand out: Steve Rubenstein is the funniest writer on any American newspaper, if they’ll let him do his shtick, and he is also one day older then me, ha, ha.

The late Harre W. Demoro refused to recognize that the world had gone beyond April 20, 1958, the day his beloved Key System trains stopped running on the Bay Bridge. This peculiar fantasy only seemed to ground him deeper in reality, oddly enough. His sidekick, Carl Nolte, has become an increasingly dedicated mumbler with the passing years.

I always keep a picture of myself with the two of them on the Vallejo Ferry on my desk, to remind me to show up for work and do something.

And the late Susan Yoachum provided me with some of the most harrowing trips I have ever spent as a white-knuckled car passenger by talking on two cell phones at one time, while also reading the newspaper. And she was driving, and this was back in 1994!

At City Hall, there was a snappy dressed mayor who with his stock tips during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s helped make me a millionaire. Before that, I was a multi-millionaire. Drum roll!

Then there is Harvey Rose, the Board of Supervisors’ number cruncher and a devotee of Henny Youngman as a raconteur of the world’s worst jokes. Recent sample: What is the national bird of Iraq? DUCK!

It wasn’t funny the first 50 times he told me.

The past six years in Washington have whooshed by. It has been a new challenge — I’ve learned something new every day, surrounded by excellent Chronicle comrades in our bureau, other colleagues around town, sharp congressional staffers and members and so many others.

Another challenge like that is what I’m looking for now as life chugs along.

See you all on the road ahead.

After Aug 3, reach me at:

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