Herb Caen Memorial at Grace Cathedral
Photo ©1996 Robert Altman

So Long Herb

Herb Caen died today.

Here's one of my own and personal favorite Herb Caen stories.

About ten years ago I was hired to photograph the Carole Shorenstein - Jeff Hays engagement party. Though the dress code was casual that night I was asked to dress formally and I thought a new piece of neckwear might be in order.

Now I'm a bit of a clothes horse but I do keep a handle on it and am pretty good about buying within my means. But the one guy I always checked in with regarding what was de rigor was Herb Caen. His notions of the proper habiliments for the man about town was my bible. So on this sunny afternoon I decided to do something different. I splurged, big time. I blew $65 bucks, maybe $30 more than I had ever done before on a stupefying piece of masculine neckwear that caught my fancy. I kept thinking that Herb would completely understand and maybe approve of my behavior if he only knew, which he wouldn't because he certainly wasn't my best buddy.

Well, I let some air into my wallet, picked up my princely treasure and proceeded to bounce down Stockton Street when who, of all the people in this galaxy do I see coming the other way away but the man himself, Herb Caen. Whoa!

Well, I must have looked like a grinning fool or maybe Herb thought I was on controlled substances because there I was beaming at him ear to ear, arms outstretched like some Pollyannic cherub. I immediately shared my tale and its providential irony of bunking into him.

He loved it. Who wouldn't? He snatched the tie, modeled it and asked "How does it look on me?"

"Like a million bucks Herb. Like a million bucks!"

Here's a very relaxed photo of Herb later that evening. He's sitting with Carole's Dad, superstar realtor Walter Shorenstein.

And here's my tribute to Herb on June 14.

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