I must admit I got a chuckle out of a Red Line caller’s message this week. The gentleman began with the description of picking up his morning San Francisco Chronicle. In his call he used several words that are commonly seen in this fish wrap such as: espied, perused, aforementioned and of course plethora and my gal. He concluded with a quote from my journalistic icon, longtime Chronicle columnist Herb Caen: “if your goal is to become an author or journalist, learn to write as you do in normal conversation.”
I really appreciate the gentleman being a reader and want him to know that I do indeed use some of those very words in conversation. Not all the time of course, but I almost always introduce my gal as “my gal” and, depending on the company or ambiance, will vary my vocabulary from mono to polysyllabic.
Back to that columnist of the City and the Bay, and concerning the aforementioned (there I go again) quote, Caen also said, “A good column is one that sells papers. It doesn’t matter how beautifully it is written and how much you admire the author... if it doesn’t sell any papers, it’s not a good column. It’s a terrible yardstick to use, but in the newspaper business, that’s the whole thing.”
Ever since I was a lad my father subscribed to the Chronicle and by age ten the first thing I did in the morning was turn to page one of the B section, left hand side, to read his sometimes informative, sometimes hilarious and sometimes inspirational words. The entire column was there on the left and was never “jumped” to an inside page...