Back in the early 1970s when I was a U.S. Postal Police officer, a couple of us were chatting at the bar of a restaurant when another patron overheard us talking about investigations. He took us aside and recruited us as part-time “undercover shoppers.” So, for the next 15 years or so, I moonlighted as a spy at restaurants, bars, gift shops and even Oakwood Garden Apartments across California. Even though I don’t drink (and didn’t then), I still had to spend an hour in the bar watching the cocktail servers and bartenders. We did a lot of Mexican restaurants, so I filled up on an awful lot of tortilla chips — hence, my current condition of being “gravitationally challenged.”
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It was at a convention of investigative reporters in Chicago in 1985. The Saturday night mixer was a great opportunity to do the bulk of the research on a story about bizarre restrooms at restaurants across the United States. Of course, my fellow journalists thought I was crazy. But Tables Magazine paid well for this story.
Spend 24 hours at the lobby bar in the hotel in war zone — a bar where the political figures and the war corresponds and TV news crews stop for a drink, some friendly conversations and maybe some important intelligence. Click on the link below to read the story.
The People vs. Larry Flynt sparks memories for this investigative journalist.
By Don Ray
ONLY 24 HOURS earlier I’d been sitting at home, looking forward to a couple days of relaxation and catch-up on paperwork between story assignments. But somehow I was now in the back of a black stretch limousine – second in a procession of six winding through Washington, D.C., heading for the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
I was sitting between, of all people, Dr. Timothy “Tune in, turn on, drop out” Leary and devout atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, famous for winning the battle nearly 30 years earlier to remove prayer from public schools. Read the rest of this entry »