If San Francisco can be represented by one person, that person is Herb Caen. And this week he is being celebrated: It’s Herb Caen week in San Francisco.
I wasn’t raised in San Francisco, but I know of Herb. And even if I didn’t know of “Herb Caen”, directly, I know of the type of man he was — the ultimate newspaper man. A symbol of days both more glamorous and grittier, weightier and frothier, and somehow more elegant than anything we can hope to achieve today.
In a reprint of one of Caen’s articles, What is San Francisco he wrote:
IT’S THE dramatically sudden appearance of more men in uniform than you’ve ever seen on the streets — symbols of a giant awakening to conflict, perhaps to blot out the peace and loveliness of All This . . . It’s the raucous, stark revival meeting at Third and Mission — where a man yells hysterically that he’s been “Saved!” while all about him drift broken men who’ll never be Saved, and the sightless windows of the surrounding buildings throw his words back at him scoffingly.
Herb Caen — 1940
There will never be another Herb Caen in print. There will never be a Herb Caen in the glossy pages of a magazine. And there will never be a Herb Caen in makeup in front of the camera reading from a teleprompter. However, if you read what he writes, if you read how he writes, then you know that someday, somehow, there will be another Herb Caen…
… and he’ll be here, among us. Another weblogger.
Take a moment and read about Herb:
Making the Rounds in Baghdad-by-the-Bay
Herb Caen Days
Herb Caen: We’ll Never Go There Anymore
Herb and the Samoans — we know this one — a simple gaff leading to dangerous misunderstanding
FBI hated Beloved San Francisco Columnist
Herb Caen: Once more with Feeling