Although he resides in Walnut Creek, San Francisco Chronicle news columnist C.W. "Chuck" Nevius is undoubtedly a man about town in the 415. Nevius, a former sports columnist who now writes about city politics, is a frequent fixture in print and on television — and, according to his July 15 column, recognizable even by "a man puffing a crack pipe" while Nevius was "walking through the Tenderloin the other day." Not only did the man recognize Chuck from the sports pages, he was also clear-headed enough to, in Nevius' words, put down his pipe long enough to ask the silver-maned scribe about the Niners' offensive line.
Impressed with Nevius' Tenderloin profile, we wandered through the neighborhood ourselves last week, picture of Chuck (stolen from Flickr) in hand, hoping to find his football-minded friend or at least earn a glimmer of recognition from another crackhead or neighborhood eccentric.
Responses ranged from the nonsensical — "I'm a native African-American, but I'm related to Al Capone. You know it — Al Capone," delivered by a man in a suit near the chess games on Fifth Street — to the somewhat hostile, like the malt-liquor–breathed "Don't play intellectual ping-pong with me, mate!" we heard at U.N. Plaza.
More folks pegged Nevius for a politico than a journo. For example, Jerome at Market and Turk said, "That's some rich guy, stealing from the taxpayers. A politician."
Tammy, smoking a Kool — not crack — in front of a convenience store, figured it might be a Nevius nemesis: "That's Chris Daly, isn't it?" On closer inspection: "Okay, that's not Chris Daly."
A Frank Zappa look-alike, replete with Zappa facial hair and a Zappa voice, on Leavenworth near U.N. Plaza: "No, I don't know who that is. Why, is he missing?"
Paul on Leavenworth at Eddy: "That's a fed, or a cop. Look at the glasses and jacket."
Try as we might, we couldn't get much out of folks who appeared to be in various stages of inebriation — we struggled even to sustain vacant stares.
One woman said that she'd seen the man in the photo before, but "I ain't telling you who he is." Then she questioned why we were asking about him in the first place: "What, he ain't showing up to work?"