Tad Friend tells all (or some)

Tad Friend, from SFGateThe writer of The New Yorker's occasional "Letter from California" talks to the San Francisco Chronicle about his recent piece on Gavin Newsom, being the spouse of New York Times food writer Amanda Hesser and fulfilling his role as point man for the magazine's West Coast presence while living in Brooklyn Heights.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., who grew up in the East and attended Harvard, Friend has never lived in California. He planned to attend Stanford Law School (his impression: "books plus volleyball,") but a postcollegiate job writing for the American Lawyer magazine persuaded him to become a writer instead. One of his first pieces was a lengthy profile of then-California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird, which took him three months to write and provided him with an early introduction to California politics, as well as in-depth journalism. After a stint at the now-defunct Spy magazine, he wrote for Vogue, Esquire, New York and Outside before joining the New Yorker staff in 1998...

His Letter From California is a mix of entertainment industry reporting and more general-interest pieces from around the state. New Yorker editor David Remnick says he began the Letter in 2002 because he is "endlessly interested" in the state and sees its problems as "radically different" from those of Manhattan and the rest of the country....

"I wanted a terrific reporter and descriptive writer who could be there a lot, and that's Tad," Remnick says, clearly accustomed to defending his decision to give the column to an out-of-towner. He points out that the magazine does have staff writers who live in California full time, like Connie Bruck, who writes lengthy movie industry stories.

Before they were married, Hesser referred to her then-boyfriend as Mr. Latte in her NYT Magazine columns, and later in a cookbook called Cooking for Mr. Latte. CBS looked at a pilot for a sitcom based on the couple, but it wasn't picked up.

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