Leah Garchik is more than just a reporter. Or a community supporter. Or a mere columnist. A fixture at the San Francisco Chronicle for 47 years, she has brightened our mornings by writing a daily column for the last several years about all things San Francisco – from charity functions, to books, to public eavesdropping, to community activism and more. Besides all that, she’s one of the most gracious and considerate people anywhere. She’s retiring June 21 and we will miss her. In advance of that, LCInsights was able to catch up with her and ask her about some of her most memorable reporting. As for the picture, Leah asked us to use this favorite selfie of hers, taken at SFMOMA.
What’s your favorite “Overheard” ever?
“That Samantha can be such an asshole.” It was one young mother to another young mother, both watching Samantha in a playgroup. Of course, I couldn’t write out “asshole.”
Who has been one of your greatest sources for material over the years (of the folks that you can name)?
PR people, of course, and particularly the ones who are happy if their clients’ names are mentioned and not angry if I don’t, for example, list the names of the corporate sponsors of an event.
Do you still hear the ghost of columnist Herb Caen sending you guidance?
My first guidance re Herb was (from my editors), “Don’t step on Caen’s toes.” I guess it’s kind of reverse guidance. I was only able to stay afloat in his wake by his good graces, his unspoken permission. I tried very hard NOT to appear to be attempting to mimic him; no one could be him or wield the power that he had.
Do you ever get tired of attending parties?
I find I feel bombarded when it’s too big and loud … but those are just the kind of parties that require dress-up, and I do love playing dress-up. One of the things I’ll miss most are occasions for which I need to get dressed up.
Do you personally have a favorite charity or nonprofit or arts organization?
Creativity Explored and Delancey Street.
What’s the next chapter for Leah?
I am going to buy a big anti-Trump button to wear all the time, even on my pajamas, I think, and then rescue some kind of dog. And then work on a writing project, a family story. I’m trying to convince myself that this is just a little change of status: instead of newspaper writer, I become writer. (Wow, does THAT sound pompous!)
Do you have a question for Leah? Ask her in the comments box below or email her at [email protected]