Blast from the Past: Mother Jones Magazine

Whenever I hear Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be” on the radio, I think of Eric Gupton who, circa 1993-94, used to sing that song to me in the Mother Jones mail room. I was the assistant to the publisher of the magazine then and Eric was office manager by day, and by night, as San Francisco Chronicle theater critic Steven Winn says in the linked tribute above, he was a “flamboyant warrior” founding member of the audacious Pomo Afro Homos theater troupe.

That era has been on my mind this week because after a few months of lurking, I recently left a comment on David Weir’s blog. I stumbled on David’s blog as both he and I listed “investigative reporting” as an interest on our blogger profiles. Only 28 blogs link to this interest vs. 13,400 when you click the interest “chocolate.” I don’t remember having many conversations with David at the magazine (he was an editor), but I do recall that he treated me with kindness and respect, which was rare and distinctly endearing in those days. Reading his San Francisco blog has felt like visiting home.

Then last night the publisher of Mother Jones, who remarkably is still the publisher of the magazine, sent me a friend request on Facebook. I was surprised as I’ve only seen him once since quitting 13 years ago. I’ve thought of him with compassion in recent years, though, as I’ve dealt with various arrogant, ambitious, judgmental, impatient-for-glory assistants.

While I did have some legitimate gripes about working at Mother Jones…like that it was an insular largely Ivy league club (I once overheard the editor in chief tell an earnest intern that the most important thing to achieve success in journalism is who you go to school with), like that I was the only mother working there, like that free speech was championed everywhere except in the office…in retrospect, I must have been a bit of a terror as an assistant. I now have a great deal more sympathy for my former boss and look forward to reading his Facebook status reports.

Let the healing begin.

2 Responses to Blast from the Past: Mother Jones Magazine

  1. David Weir says:

    Nice piece, Gina. Keep it up. Yes, I left the magazine feeling much the way you did, I suspect.

  2. laura lyn says:

    hola, m. hyams.

    i feel a strong need to confess to you that today, i’ve given myself a stay-cation *within* the workplace as i recently was talking to a friend about the film “clockwatchers” and how i cannot survive working in offices since i can *hear* my spirit and soul leave my body when confined by felt partitions – only to have her remind me that i no longer indulge in personal calls or websurfing. has life really come to this? so today…i’ve reclaimed and re-embraced “anti-productivity”. which is to say, i’ve now spent about 2 hours on your blog/site/links.

    i’ve laughed out loud reading the transcript of the cheese shack girls (The Cape Cod!) and covet your mexico floors, and got a bit weepy reading this particular post waxing nostalgic re: my own san fran life.

    while i’d like to think that i never felt i’d rather be someone other than myself (although i’m almost certain as i’m typing this that i’m lying to both of us) i certainly have blog-envy. i wish your blog was my blog! i don’t even know how to blog…anyhoo, i think you (or at very least your writing) embody(ies) the best feelings of sf – the warm breeze and grounded freedom of spirit, the incredible uniqueness of style everyone there seems to have plus all other poetic contradictions of that city that come to my mind. thank you, thank you!

    nothing like a “co-worker” to encourage a rare but roaring game of on-the-job hooky!

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