Mister SF Hank Donat with Strange de Jim in August, 2003.
|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
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."
Copyright 2001 Hank Donat