Herb Caen was a prominent writer for the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. His daily column, always entertaining and widely read, frequently complained of pigeons -- particularly those messy ones in Union Square, the heart of San Francisco's prime shopping district.

One time, when he'd just returned from a European trip, I asked how he could have written such raves about Venice. Surely, he walked through the Piazza of Saint Mark, the world capital of pigeons.

His subsequent columns never again criticized San Francisco's pigeons nor did he speak to me.