Back in the late 80s, when I was a copy boy at the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, I worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. While we had computers, there were also a whole room full of printers churning out copy from the wires.
My shift back then ended around midnight, or whenever the first copies of the morning paper rolled off the presses and into the mailroom. Needless to say, LA was a big city, I was young and constantly looking for ways to get out early and head to Corky’s Bar across 11th Street.
Chuck Hubbs, the night city editor, always had other plans for me.
“Check the wires,” he’d say in a deep, intimidating voice. ‘See how many bodies are piling up.”
I’d run back to the wire room, rifle through reams of paper looking for stories from a UPI service called Metro Wire, and stuff from City News Service or the AP, which at the time was just across Hill Street.
Invariably, there’d be a killing somewhere, some more brutal than others. Chuck or I would type it up and it would make an inside roundup a lot like the “Region Briefs” we run in the newspaper now. Invariably I ended up at Corky’s well after midnight. Fortunately Betty, the owner kept the place open til 3 or 4 some mornings, probably to soak her Karaoke clients for a few extra bucks. We always ran tabs.
Twenty years later, the bodies are still piling up. I wonder how old Chuck would react to this story
from Dave Z in Tuesday’s LAT:
The Los Angeles City Council dropped plans Tuesday for a symbolic moratorium on killing, deciding instead to use the upcoming anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination to promote peace.
Council members had been asked by a handful of activists to declare a 40-hour ban on murder and other violence, a concept one critic quickly derided as “silliness.”
After a 45-minute debate, the council reworked its resolution, saying the city’s opposition to homicides should last more than a single weekend.
“A moratorium on violence and killing is something we should support 365 days a year and every minute we live,” said Councilman Richard Alarcon, who represents part of the San Fernando Valley.
I’m guessing on Friday night Chuck would send me into the wire room, ask about the body count and he’d proceed to file the roundup. We’d repeat the routine Saturday and Sunday and on Monday morning some enterprising reporter would do a story about the number of violent deaths during the city’s moratorium on murder.