Tidbits and Tales From the P-I Memorial

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Some of the news that's unfit to print, from last night's P-I memorial party at the Ballard Elks...(Mainly to deter TV cameras and - serious! - keep things off the record, a sign at the door said "No working press," which made a lot of the press, many of them fresh out of work, laugh weakly)..."The FBI once investigated me on the suspicion I was the Unibomber," said former copy editor Tom Robbins, now a bit of an author. "They spied on me, and then sent two female agents to interview me. They knew my weakness"...Sports columnist Art Thiel plans to launch a sports web site with ex-columnist/editor Steve Rudman; Thiel also has a book coming out and is writing two columns a week for the eP-I (where he works as a freelance, thus he was able to quit the P-I and collect his severance pay when the print edition folded this month). "It looks like the site will be linked to the P-I's, like [cartoonist Dave] Horsey's site," said Thiel...He, like Horsey, wore a tux to the gathering of several hundred former print P-I staffers - dating back 50 years - and a number of current eP-I staffers...A party organizer, onetime police reporter George Foster, was fondly remembered for the day he covered the funeral of a Seattle cop, then had a few drinks and ended up on the plane that was taking the officer's remains back to his hometown (Foster's call from Georgia the next morning began: "Where am I?")...

One after another, recently departed P-I writers and photographers said they were working on books and web sites, save those that still toil away on the P-I's electronic pages...."Everybody seems to have a blog," said pop-rock writer - and blogger - Gene Stout. "It doesn't cost a lot to get going, but the question everyone has is how long can I sustain this and will it ever make money?"...In addition to the downsized staffers we wrote about earlier, web newcomers include former editorial page editor Mark Trahant; his comix-like site, Post-Tattler News, bills him as a Clark Kent, "More powerful than puny discourse, Able to leap tall rhetoric in a single bound"...

Photog Dan DeLong is shooting for the AP, and ex-P-Ier Amy Rolph has caught on at the Herald in Everett...eP-I columnist Joel Connelly says he's also working on a web site that will focus in part on Alaska and British Columbia politics...Among attendees were former P-I staffers Evelyn Iritani - who, after a long career at the LA Times, now works for a LA public relations agency specializing in crisis management (No. 1 advice to clients: Shutthefugup!) - and her husband, Roger Ainsley, still a Times editor (which leaves him and sports columnist Bill Plaschke as the last ex-P-Iers on the LAT staff)...Investigative reporter Eric Nalder will be heading up a Hearst I-team that will write for the chain's remaining papers as well as for its TV stations and magazines, Esquire included...

Nearing midnight, a group of long-ago P-I photographers including Dave Potts and Cary Tolman gathered at a corner table in the crowded hall, sifting through a box of photos from the 60s; that was back when "art" was cropped and airbrushed by staff artists, who painted balls off dogs and udders off cows because the P-I was a family paper...Potts recalled how former artist Ray Collins used to roll his eyes when he was asked to touch up a photo of the Aurora Bridge - putting in a white dotted line to show where a jumper leaped off...Collins did so many of those dotted lines that he suggested the P-I install toilet roll dispensers along the bridge railings so jumpers could grab the end of a roll before leaping, creating their own dotted lines...and so on, and so forth, into the wee, final, hours...

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