A Musical Homage to the Chronicle Crime Reporter: The Ballad of Henry K. Lee
June 30, 2011, 10:29 am • Posted by Jon Brooks
I don't think you have to do exactly what I do every morning to fully appreciate the video below, but it would probably help.
See, it's my 6:30 a.m. pleasure each day to sift through a hundred or so articles from Bay Area media, culling the most important news for inclusion in our Morning Splash feature. Among the municipal affairs of state -- the budgets, court decisions, and political goings-on -- inevitably, included in the pool of potentially newsworthy items, is the crime reporting of the Chronicle's Henry K. Lee.
- Man found shot to death in downtown Santa Rosa - Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer (Jun 30)
- Fairfield, CA, market owner killed in robbery - Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer (Jun 29)
- Mom, daughter guilty of murdering Dublin woman, 91 - Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer (Jun 28)
During those groggy 6:30 a.m. sessions, it's been my indulgence to picture Mr. Lee as a Weegee-like figure, working late into the night to chronicle the region's noiresque underbelly. Haunted, perhaps, by the things he's seen, the places he's been, the dark corners of minds touched by just enough madness to murder. Yet driven by duty, professionalism -- hey, it's a job -- he carries on, carries on, cigarettes and flask at the ready for the rare moments it all becomes just a little too much...
And then I'm moving on to read about the Twitter tax break or the redevelopment fight...
Silly, I know. But someone else has also engaged in projections about the man-of-a-thousand-crime-scenes, the Berkeley-based rock duo The Manna Tease. Pretty awesome song, I think:
Lyrics and more about the song here.
And he linked to The Manna Tease facebook page and to this blog! most excellent. Thank you Mr Brooks. The "real" Henry K. Lee posted it on his facebook page and added "Thanks to KQED's Jon Brooks for this post -- and his comparison to me as a 'Weegee-like' figure! (I had to look that up on Wikipedia!)."
There were also some positive reactions from other Bay Area journalists on Twitter:
@JulieStrack: Which former @dailycal writer has contributed more to popular music -- Jann Wenner or @henryklee ?http://t.co/UCQti7T@matthai: @MannaTease We loved it. Your song was just hilarious. Those of us who work with @henryklee have been singing the lyrics to him.@katieworth: Amazing ballad about Chron reporter @henryklee: http://t.co/5vUmbUG. Hey @hankschulman, how come you don't have one?@SovernNation: @Josh_Richman @HenryKLee I want one about Melrose! A guy on the street sang me a song he wrote about me once called "The Lonely Newsman"@Josh_Richman: My career will not be complete until someone writes a song about me, as this man has done for @HenryKLeehttp://t.co/HZM35QH via @youtube
Most of those twitterers were reporters who work for the SF Chronicle, SF Examiner, Daily Cal, and others. The biggest fans of that song seem to be journalists who actually know the man himself. I wonder if I can cull some promotional quotes from those. All I've got so far is "croons... for seemingly no reason at all." -SF Weekly.