||Only in San Francisco can a man named Strange who wears a pillow case
over his head to public events become a popular figure on the social register.
Strange de Jim was first quoted in Herb Caen's column on September 17, 1972 when
he wrote Caen, "Since I didn't believe in reincarnation in any of my other
lives, why should I have to believe in it in this one?" From that day
he was quoted more than 300 times by Caen, though it was 15 years before
Caen knew the identity of the man whose wit he shared in the pages of
the Chronicle. When Caen died in 1997, Strange removed his pillow case
at a memorial service for the columnist and announced he'd changed his
name to Just Plain Strange. After Caen's death it was also learned that
Strange is a graduate of Columbia University, West Virginia native and
Castro district resident in his late 50s who lives with his partner, Martin.
Until recently Strange wrote a weekly Internet column under his new name,
but has also returned to his disguise and to his original nom de plume.
With most folks still in the dark as to the man behind the sham, Strange
continues to contribute bon mots to local scribes. He is also the author
of two books, Visioning and The Strange Experience. A couple of typical
Strangisms on fine dining from the Caen days: "I won't eat snails -
I prefer fast food," and "This mushroom soup tastes like shiitake."
From Heart of the City 08/05/03: "After wearing a pillow case in public for decades, Herb Caen's favorite
corespondent, Strange de Jim, was introduced in the lobby of the Marines
Memorial on Sutter Street sans sac. It seems de Jim, one of the city's
sharpest wits, is openly strange."