Sunday, September 28, 2008

P.J., We Hardly Knew Ya

In which we say g'bye to a beloved character

From 2001 to 2006, the affable, Boston-born Irishman, P.J. Corkery, wrote a lively three-dot column for the San Francisco Examiner. In a way, Corkery had taken over where Herb Caen left off, to the point of even emulating the great man's turns of phrase. It wasn't in a bad way, but rather as an homage.

Corkery died last week of something called non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which sounds pretty awful.

I was never introduced to Corkery, but I did often see him making his man-about-town rounds. He was always smiling and dapper, sometimes jauntily swinging a cane. I read his column often.

Recently, Corkery helped write The Honorable Willie Brown's excellent memoir, "Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times."

Although Corkery was a relatively new part of the San Francisco scene -- only coming here in 1988 for health reasons but immediately falling in love with the place -- he nevertheless represents a bit of the old city, the one we loved before the legions of Silicon Carpet-baggers invaded and took over. There are few left who can carry on the torch. Bruce Bellingham is one. Jon Carrol (who just won a major award) may be another -- when he's not writing about kittens, anyway. (Besides, he lives in Oakland, where a gentleman never goes.) And poor Leah Garchik, bless her heart, tries but one always gets the feeling that she operates almost exclusively through email, and isn't really on The Inside, the way it always felt with chaps like Caen or McCabe.

Well, at least we've still got our Willie.


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