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Writers, jocks rub shoulders in CSN’s Green Room

Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:03 p.m.

Linda puts on my makeup around 4:30 in the afternoon. She dabs color over my blemishes and age spots, and then she sprays my entire face with color. With the makeup I look 10 years younger, like a guy who hangs out at the beach even in winter. With the makeup I’m ready to go.

I never thought I’d be the makeup type. I mean, come on. It’s just that once a week, I’m a guest on CSNBayArea’s show “Chronicle Live,” and if I don’t have makeup under those bright lights I’d look like a cadaver. Maybe you’ve seen me sitting on the set, yakking about sports from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., listening to producer Adam Littlefield talking in my earpiece — “Video coming up.” The set is exactly where I’ll be this afternoon.

But I’m not here to brag about my little TV career or to swap makeup tips. I’m here to talk about the Green Room. It really is green, and the hosts and guests gather there before going on TV, and what happens in the Green Room is as interesting as what happens on air.

First, about Linda whose name is Linda Gyuling. She used to play tennis at SF State and now she’s a makeup artist par excellence. I mean, she can make me look acceptable. The Green Room is her room, her rules, which means no matter how famous you are, you act regular and you’re always polite. In the Green Room you are the best possible you.

Just the other day, Dr. Harry Edwards was in there talking about old age, a subject I can relate to. In the Green Room he is not Dr. Edwards. He is just plain Harry.

During baseball season, I walk into the Green Room and Vida Blue and Bill Laskey are sitting on the couch watching the Giants on TV and keeping score. How would you like to sit in a room with Blue and Laskey and watch them keep score and talk ball?

They were two of my favorites when I covered them, and now they are working stiffs like me. No attitude. No nothing.

Blue, Laskey and I were talking about one baseball player — nameless here — whose pickup line was “I am So-and-So. Do you want to sleep with me?” Vida eyeballed Laskey and said, “I never did that, and I’m Vida Blue.”

We’ll all be sitting there swapping stories, making Linda laugh, and after a while Marty Lurie comes in and watches the game with us. After that, it’s Greg Papa and Jim Kozimor. We’re all watching ball. And Blue might ask Marty or me what we think about a certain play. Vida Blue wants my opinion?

And there will be another columnist in there, maybe Scott Ostler or Ann Killion or Mark Purdy or Tim Kawakami or Monte Poole or Ray Ratto. And Barry Tompkins is always there on a Monday. And we’re all telling stories. And get this. We are equals with the athletes. In the past, we journalists ran after them with pads and pens, and begged for their time. Not here.

The Green Room normalizes relations. No egos allowed.

Garry St. Jean is there a lot. He does analysis on Warriors games. Years ago, we were supposed to go wine tasting in Sonoma County — I would write a feature about it for The Press Democrat. Just before we were scheduled to go, Latrell Sprewell attacked P.J. Carlesimo. St. Jean phoned me. “Do you think we could put off the wine trip for a while?” he asked in an apologetic voice. “It won’t look good for the general manager to be drinking with a writer after the player just choked the coach.”

We have told that story in the Green Room a million times.

Or the one about Randy Moss, Linda’s favorite. It was 2006 and Moss was with the Raiders and they lost on a Monday night in Seattle and Moss walked out of the shower in a towel and announced he wouldn’t talk to the press. I said we didn’t want to talk to him because we were waiting for quarterback Andrew Walter. Moss, indignant now, said, “Who are you?” and I said, “Lowell Cohn.” And then, maybe the Devil got in me, because I said, “Who are you?”

The man flipped. He pointed at his bare chest and shouted, “Moss 18, Moss 18.”

Maybe Randy can visit some day and we’ll get a laugh out of that one.

During football season, Bill Romanowski is always in there talking about vitamins and food supplements. He’s so nice and I’m thinking, “What happened to the wild man he used to be?”

And Joe Nedney and Dennis Brown, former Niners, are in the Green Room because they are football analysts. Brown sits quietly in a corner working on a computer, and when he talks he’s always philosophical, has lectured me on how texting has changed the nature of relationships. And Nedney comes in and shakes everyone’s hand, careful to leave no one out. And I’m thinking, “Who knew we would act like this with each other when they were players?”

Other regulars are Shooty Babitt and Bip Roberts, who once jumped out of the makeup chair and got in his batting stance with an invisible bat and showed me what Aubrey Huff was doing wrong. And Warriors’ GM Bob Myers is there a lot, talking hoops, laughing. One of the guys. And Andy Dolich is there. One day he gave Dave Feldman and me a book called “Yiddish with Dick and Jane.”

And sometimes I just sit quietly and listen to all that talk I’m privileged to hear. Then someone says it’s time, and we get up and walk through two heavy soundproof doors onto the set in the cold cold studio and the show starts.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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