Welcome to the
18th year of this weekly column that's updated fifty-two times a year,
on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, depending on how well the booze
holds out. If you've got any news, clues or rumors to share from around
the Bay, or the world, feel free to send them to Editor@Island-Life.net
or use the envelope in the masthead. For previous issues, including
2016, visit the Archives.
JANUARY 17, 2016
IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER
.Somebody clearly had an Holiday feast here up in Woodacre. This appears
to be the remains of a fine goat repast left behind by the coyotes that
run wild in southern Marin. Best not leave your poochie outside overnight
WHAT'S GOING ON
Welcome back. It's been a good six weeks of a layoff - longest in 18
years of continuous publication of Island-Life. Some personal medical
issues have been sorted out -- the old ticker remains ticking with the
help of the good folks at Native American Health Center,
Other issues with other Staffers remain stabilized for now; after all,
everyone must die of something some day after passing through this vale
of tears and suffering we are told is all smoke and mirrors, so when
the Day arrives, it might be called a good day for all of that. Chief
Blackhawk said something like that.
The Offices Music Desk is moving off the Island, which should astonish
everyone, while being no great surprise. True musicians have little
wherewithal and the financial climate here is turning more to the worse
as signs reading, "Fringe folks not Welcome Here," start to
We are informed 2nd hand from a dear acquaintance that not all bad
things need to be told, which is a rather wise way to put things in
perspective and one maxim to which certain folks lined up at the brass
rail of the Old Same Place Bar and sitting under the dryers of Jacquelines
should pay heed.
Indeed in matters of the Heart, affairs appear to be sounder than in
years, in most respects, while divorces and seperations have added drama
to the mix. We leave you all with that.
So we are off to a new year, which happens to be -- shudder -- the
50th anniversary of 1966, meaning we probably are all going to embark
on a painfully wistfull '60's retrospective that is bound to make all
the Punks tear out their purple hairs.
O for pete's sake. . . .
SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH (news)
Local fav band Houston Jones has said "So long and thanks for
all the fish." Chris Kee, the bassist who also wrote most of the
best songs had departed for the comforts of the piney woods a while
ago, and now it looks like Glenn "Houston" Pomianik has split,
taking his unusual upside-down guitar wizardry to some other unknown
clime. Travis remains feisty and irascible and retains the percussionist
Peter Tucker and keyboardist Henry Salvia in a new incarnation
The website has been allowed to lapse, but you can still follow the
survivors on Facebook under the old name.
Have you been following the recent Silly Council motions on the rent
crisis? We have been keeping tabs on things via Lauren Do's excellent
blog in which she reports on the meetings right up to the early morning
She is a great writer, but it must be nice not to have a day job.
So anyway, looks like the supposedly "progressive" council
that got voted in largely on the basis of voter dissatisfaction regarding
development has been watering down rent control ordinances to the point
that a sure initiative showdown is in store. As for those landlords
who believe they are getting that for which they ardently wished --
i.e. zero renter protections -- will wind up facing far more draconian
responses when people get angry. Again.
It is fine to be angry about not making pots of more money hand over
fist and not being allowed to use personal property without restrictions
(can anyone say "gun control" in the same breath? Knew you
could), but when people's lives are at stake, the matter develops an
entirely new depth of feeling.
And by the way: No you cannot do anything you want with your personal
property. You may not march down the public street discharging your
Mossberg 320 into the air nor may you blast somebody's drone out of
the sky with your Colt.45 within city limits. You may revile your tax
bill, but you may not shoot the mailman with your personal AK-47, even
if you both happen to be standing within your property limits and you
own the bullets.
So long as Silly Council continues to backpedal and waffle, the anger
will grow. The saying goes here, "Be careful what you wish for."
Cue in Joy Division's "Day of the Lords."
STANDING ON THE MOON (monol)
So anyway, a couple dockwallopers pounded into the Bay Area to make
everyone glad about a respite from the drought, which led to a few days
that had even native peoples from the Great White North shivering in
their down comforters here as ice rimed the bushes, glazed car windows
and froze water pipes through Xmas night. Most Californians had forgotten
what real cold felt like and what it could do.
Sita responded as efficiently as any eco-landscaper would, by wrapping
the external pipes in old socks, which had a most gratifying effect
for all her efforts, and she clapped her gloved hands together with
efficiency and confidence this did the trick quite well, albeit with
not much real effect should a serious cold snap ever set in that matched
something in Minnesotta, a place she had never visited.
Fortunately for Sita and the amnesiac residents of southern Marin County
and the Island, the set of dockwallopers yielded to a Pineapple Express
of huge proportions, allowing all the local weathercasters to nod sagely
and say, "The El Nino is finally here. This is it."
Howard the Dweeber, up in Mammoth, sat back with his brandy beside
his roaring fire to review his own reports that had predicted this system
some four months previously.
Satisfaction is being right. Wisdom resides in not saying so too loudly.
Due to the weather, all the denizens of Marlene and Andre's Household
have gathered under the common roof once again. Snuffles sleeps in the
deck hole made that fateful celebration of Javier's fiftieth birthday
when the place nearly burned down.Occasional Quentin has again moved
to sleeping under the coffeetable. The bunks in the hallway once again
are fully stocked by residents, so all fifteen denizens are packed into
the one bedroom rented from Mr. Howitzer's realty firm.
This situation has existed ever since the rental situation became obscene.
People have to live somewhere and poor people must make do.
This being the post holiday season, the official House tree was disassembled
to join its fellows in the pelting rain for Boy Scouts and Waste Management
New Year's passed same as last year. Most of the Household members
had to work, but over in the Lutheran Parsonage the two old friends
sat to discuss Reformation and Pardons.With the schools closed Ms. Morales
(now Mrs. Sanchez) has been spending her time the way most schoolteachers
do on their days off - writing up new lesson plans, mending torn textbook
covers, purchasing supplies the District fails to provide, and catching
up with former pupils of hers at Longfellow and Encinal.
She has seen a number of generations come and go, from Edison (Go Otters!)
to Longfellow and the Home of the Jets high school ("When you're
a Jet, You're a Jet all the way") so there is a fair amount of
catching up to do. The troubled Karen has managed to stay in college
after finding a group of goth kids just like her, and so one potential
human arc remained on her trajectory up and out of the small town corrosion
that nearly destroyed her.
Some others -- not so lucky. As a teacher you can never take full credit
for the failures or the successes - you do your best to be there for
them. Her friend Sharon, the Crisis Nurse Practitioner at the Creek
Psychiatric Crisis Center sometimes would burst into tears on the phone,
saying, "I lost him! I lost him" about some casualty of the
8.5 million metropolis that embraced, sometimes roughly, the tiny little
Island city. But then she worked over in Oaktown, where life is a waiting
game for many.
Because the Island has no real mental health services she saw many
neighbors on the brink drop in there.
"I hate this place!" Sharon says angrily. "Why did they
not case manage him when I asked? I should move away tomorrow!"
"Well, you would like St. Paul," said Ms. Morales, who had
visited only one other place in the United States other than the Bay
Area since coming to this country from the Phillipines.
"O heck no. Too cold in the winter! I would rather go south. San
Luis Obispo maybe."
"We would miss you," Ms. Morales said. She knew that Sharon
would never move. The sick little island, as she called it, needed her
On the streets of the island, Officer O'Madhauen prowled in his cruiser,
looking for the stray crosswalk scofflaw, the speeder, the stoplight
shuffler. There had been a rash of burglaries on the Island, but sooner
or latter, they'll run a red light and then! He'll have 'em!
In the Almeida household, Pedro is enjoying a couple days off from
hauling crab, puttering about the house, repairing the chicken coop,
resealing the toilets, and fixing the wretched wiring by running number
10 ground wire down and out to the rod, trying to undo years of lousy
two-wire knob and tube that reversed polarity about as often as regulars
to one of those fancy dives where the men dress as women.
In other matters he got underfoot and in the way of Mrs. Almeida who
was heartily glad the Hollardays were coming soon to an end before she
could get pregnant again.
At Marlene and Andre's household on Shoreline, all sixteen souls who
called that place home due to the obscene rental situation had been
living cheek by jowel during the cold snap when normally the pressure
would have eased by folks sleeping on the beach or at the Shelter. As
the night extended itself langorously with a purring stretch, the ragged
and battered Xmas tree glimmered in its washtub. Deep into the night,
as snores and sleeping rustles filled the cottage, a small marsupial
snout emerged from the hole in its trunk, followed by a bulbous form
that lumbered quietly across the bodies wrapped in sleeping bags, over
the coffee table that housed Occasional Quentin and prowled along the
floorboards looking for an escape from the madness without success.
The opossum sat and wept quietly when no egress was to be found, before
it grabbed a macaroon someone had hung from the tree and there sat on
its haunches to eat it as a sliver of moon watched through the window.
The animal then crawled back into the washtub and into its hole and
curled up there to sleep with the others of that dysfunctional family
In the Old Same Place, Padriac and Dawn and Suzie handled the Hollarday
business efficiently and with success while Denby plunked on his guitar
in the corner. Suzie observed the rituals, the lines, the dances and
the happy unifications that departed the bar entangled arm in arm with
equanimity before opening late into the evening her anthropology text.
"The Bonobo forgo the tedious courtship rituals found in other
tribal groups, preferring to simply state the preference or offer, which
is usually accepted with alacrity as they enjoy mating at any time of
day and any season for procreation or simply for the sheer joy . . .".
As for Suzie, the jewel yet undiscovered, the Hollardays consisted
of visits with friends and a single, small, roasted turkey. Per Island
An expletive broke into her thoughts as the door opened to let out
a happy couple. The expletive came from a blonde with crooked lipstick
at the bar, who said, "Lost him! Nearly had that guy and then that
Valerie! Such a bitch! Gimmee a gimlet."
"Life's tough, girlfriend," Suzie said as she liberally overpoured
and delivered the drink.
Down by the Estuary near the Park Street bridge abutment Wootie's tame
moose herd snuffled and shifted in the darkness. Eunice the moose, for
once remained quiet, but deep within her she dreamed of the perfect
escape, running through forests in the far north, far distant from these
trammels and imagining the cries of dismay from Wootie Kanootie: "Lost
her! I've Lost her!".
Eugene Gallipagus tosses in his own dreams in his bed. Of the time
the Great Golden Trout appeared to him at Lake Martha. And his great
dispair as the line parted with a snap. The big one that got away. Lost
Father Danyluk paced in his chambers before going over for the traditional
annual nightcap he enjoyed with Pastor Nyquist who seems genuinely happy
as Sister Profundity lets the Lutheran into the rectory annex where
the fireplace is already burning bright.
It has been the habit of the two friends to have this forbidden meeting
each year. As Pastor Nyquist put it, "You and I we have made our
Indeed the Lutheran pastor enjoyed the high quality of spirits kept
by the Catholic priest in the larder and the Catholic priest had long
enjoyed the superior singing skills of the Lutheran congregation as
loaners during the Xmas pageant and Easter.
"You look troubled," the Lutheran said.
"Ah. The Mendoza family would not hear of any help and now Jorge
has gone off to San Quentin on assault with a deadly weapon. On top
of the robbery charge."
"I heard about that one," Nyquist said.
"Afraid I've lost him," said the priest.
"Can't save everyone," the Lutheran said, inviting a distracting
evening of debate.
And as per usual, the social evening ended the same way each year.
Both men asleep in their armchairs before the fire.
The Editor bid everyone a good night and a happy new year as the place
closed up for the final issue of the year. The Editor stood before the
window watching the granddaddy racoon run back and forth in the yard,
cigar firmly in place, hands clasped behind his back like Admiral Horatio.
He never knew exactly how to wrap things up. Everything, including
Life, seemed always so tentative, subject to last minute revisions.
A lot of issues last year had turned out wretchedly bad. But cannot
dwell on that. The past year had been packed with many, many disappointments.
Old friends had died and others had gotten married. Many things had
not gone well. An old friend had come to him complaining about all the
evil in the world, all the assholes. She, an otherwise pacific person,
said she wanted to line them all up against a wall when the spirit moved
her. See them fall.
And for some reason he thought about the replicant in Bladerunner who
tried to prolong his life, such as it was, by driving a nail through
his palm so as to prevent the hand from closing into a fist.
What kind of poetry is that, to imagine that death is the hand closing
into a fist?
And yet as the replicant died and the fist closed, a dove escaped from
his other hand. So that is the way it is -- one hand closes into a fist
and becomes death; the other opens and becomes human, allows life to
continue. That's always the way it is -- can't take credit for the wins
or bemoan the losses. Life is tough, girlfriend. Life is being there
In a little while, bottlerockets, fizzlers, M80's and all sorts of
ruckus would terrify all the neighborhood dogs in bringing in the New
Year. Might as well get ready for whatever comes next.
The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across
the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with
their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of
the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista
flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through
the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy
railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as
the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront,
headed off to parts unknown.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
JANUARY 14, 2016
WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS
Hello and welcome back to the new Island-Life. We took six weeks off
to handle family issues but will be returning for 2016 and the 18th
year of continuous publication.
TO REVISIT PREVIOUS ISSUES, GO TO THE ARCHIVES BELOW.