In the latest in a series of high-profile departures at the San Francisco Chronicle, longtime resident curmudgeon, SFist punching bag, and ostensible common-sense columnist C.W. Nevius has announced his departure from the paper effective December 2. Former Chron staffer Carla Marinucci* broke the news on Twitter, and Nevius has yet to make any public announcement himself, on Twitter or otherwise. The reason does not appear to be retirement, but just that Nevius says he is "ready for a change." He's been with the paper 36 years.
Nevius has for years taken on a mostly anti-progressive, pro-pragmatism, anti-NIMBY, pro-police, anti-bureaucracy, pro-sit/lie, anti-nudity, anti-fun, "let's stop being left-wing ninnies and get stuff done" sort of attitude that many of his Bay Area fans find refreshing, while angering a host of others because he dares not toe the politically correct, progressive party line that often dominates the local public debate. In the last year or so he's frequently taken on the spate of large homeless encampments, generally taking the side of the mayor and the Department of Public Works that they need to be cleared once and for all. And while in most cities he'd likely be seen as a liberal and mostly reasonable voice (he's written very sensitively several times about being father to two LGBTQ children, for instance, and in support of gay marriage for over a decade), he is considered a staunch conservative by most SF measures a label that he's encouraged with incendiary comments about drinking in Dolores Park, his disdain for sex clubs, and various other things that many of us hold near and dear.
The news of Nevius's quitting has of course already elicited some "ding dong the witch is dead" glee on Twitter including from those who still think he lives in Walnut Creek (he actually moved into SF in 2010).
Nevius's December departure is being billed as voluntary, but it follows on some other departures of longtime voices at the paper, including Marinucci, who may or may not have wanted to leave right away. There was the departure of theater critic Robert Hurwitt earlier this year, who'd been in local theater criticism for 40 years; and the apparent forced retirement last fall of columnist Jon Carroll, who had been at the paper 33 years. And if you're keeping track, there were also recently departures of three reporters who'd been in the newsroom over a decade or more: Amanda Gold, Jaxon Vanderbeken, and Henry Lee.
We await his official departure announcement, and perhaps news of what he's got planned next.
Update: Here it is... and of course he jokes, "I’ll pause so my sometime adversary on issues of homelessness, Jennifer Friedenbach, can begin her happy dance." He says he has no new job lined up, but writes:
The entire experience, start to finish, has been a delight. The Chronicle sent me all over the world to cover eight Olympic Games, 10 Super Bowls and other major sports events. I rode John McCain’s “Straight Talk Express,” interviewed Yoko Ono, and I know several homeless individuals by first name. And they know me.
It’s hard to imagine a cooler job than writing for a big-city newspaper. It’s a ticket behind the scenes, a chance to talk to movers and shakers and, sometimes, an opportunity to be influential.
When people ask why I am leaving, my joke is, “Monday morning.” That’s when I’d walk up to the entrance of 901 Mission at 8:30 a.m., knowing that in four hours I’d have to come up with a column for the next day’s paper. Although I’ve done it for years, I’m not beyond having sweaty palms on those days.
It’s been a long time since I’ve taken one of those life-changing leaps of faith. And frankly, at 66 years old, the opportunities are dwindling. I began to think about making a dramatic change a couple of months ago, and it became more appealing the more I considered it. I don’t have another job waiting, but even if nothing comes up, we’ll be OK.
I’ll miss the people in the newsroom. Newspaper reporters and editors are the best sort of company. They are witty, cynical, well-read, world-weary (in the best possible way) and tellers of stories. There’s a lot of laughing in our newsroom.
#Chronicle After 36 yrs have decided to leave Chronicle. Don't know what's next (suggestions welcome) but bet it won't be 3 columns a week.— C.W. Nevius (@cwnevius) October 12, 2016
*This post has been updated to show that Carla Marinucci is no longer a Chronicle staffer.