Island Life

Vol. 21 - No. 37Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday December 1, 2019

{Formerly Island-Life}

Current Edition - Year 2019


Welcome to the 21st 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 2018, visit the Archives.


The Editor
Denby -
Reporter
Bea -
Artwork
Chad -
Coding
Tammy -
Fotos
Hildegard -
Europe News


DECEMBER 1, 2019

OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT

We had a couple nature shots for this week and felt that the image of a spotted owl was better than the ones of deer slain by what appeared to have been mountain lions. As for the title, remember Donovan?

 

THE 21ST ANNUAL POODLESHOOT AND BBQ

(corrected 12/02/19)

So anyway. What with all the fires and power outages in NorCal, the Annual Poodleshoot report has been delayed. But this being the 21st Poodleshoot on the Island, there is no rushing to press on this.

It is hard to imagine that 20 years ago a daft group of lads decided to hold a humble Poodleshoot in defiance of misdirected sentiment, obnoxious aesthetics, and hideous twisting of values where an asinine species we will never truly understand gets more attention, devotion, and preference than members of our own species. It can be argued that in this present day in the 21st century we still have problems understanding each other, let alone another species.

20 years of Poodleshoots and still people lavish more attention and affection upon a miserable scrap of fur and teeth than suffering fellow human beings. Well, that is why the Poodleshoot came to be.

All that aside, the 20th Annual Poodleshoot proceeded as follows.

The annual Island Tradition took place again, beginning with the usual, traditional ceremonies.

As per Tradition, on the day of the 20th Annual Poodleshoot, rosy-fingered Dawn arose from the horizon's dark bed and pushed back the shutters of night to allow Phoebus to mount his golden chariot and so, preceding the day, she trailed her gauzy banners across the firmament, traveling across the yard from the battered old half-moon privy hard by the weeds to the house back porch, leaving behind a sort of dew after her passage. Gently, she flushed, and gently she tugged upon the coverlet, and gently she kissed the eyelids of the sleeping Padraic, but he stirred not. Gently she nudged the man, who only mumbled and snorted as he remained held fast in the soft, woolly folds of Morpheus. Playfully, she noodged him once again, but he remained walking in that shadow kingdom of the somnolent God.

Her fingers becoming rays of sunlight, turned the dial so as to allow the sweet strains of muse Calliope to thrum the air as guided by the goddess Rosalie Howarth of KFOG, but Padriac snored and stirred not.

Then Dawn reared back with her rosy fists upraised and brought them down heavily to smite Padraic a mighty thwack, and that got him up all right, for Dawn O'Reilly was not a woman to be trifled with at any time of the day. And so Padraic bestirred himself to make ready for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ.

So it was that Padraic rolled out the barrels of the Water of Life and set up the Pit for this year's festivities under bright, chill skies, which had cleared briefly from the storm clouds for the day, once again down by the disputed Crab Cove.

The ceremonies began with the traditional playing of the Paraguay National Anthem, as arranged by Terry Gilliam, and performed by the Island Hoophole Orchestra accompanied by the Brickbat Targets chorale ensemble. This piece has been favorably compared to John Phillip Sousa's Liberty Bell March, with which work the modalty is inextricably entwined..

This was followed by the devilish meisterwerk composed by Marie Kane entitled, "Die Sieg der Satanische Landentwickler", an adaptable work which allows insertion of alta-contemporary chorales at the whim of the Conductor at the pleasure of any municipal governing body.

The ensemble group which has made something of a name for itself by inventing entirely new parts for voice, consisted of Mayor Izzy as soprano alla triste in the Misericordia segment and Councilperson Daysog as mezzo soprano mournful did a fair version of Iago's treacherous soliloquy, with former Councilperson Frank in his basso triste "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" performance in the esoteric work La Chambre à l'arrière Enfumee Boogie by Brooks and Dunne.

Vice Mayor Malia Vella adoped the key of obsequious for her duet with Roger Dent of Jamestown Properties in "It's a Shopping Mall by Any Other Name."

John Knox White and Tony Daysog performed a lovely duet as well as a lovely pas de deux in pinstriped pinafores with nunchucks. The two sang "Our Town" and "I got you Babe with astonishing verve.

Many reviewers have called this piece amazingly impossible to accomplish, and quite a pastiche. The East Bay Express found "this game of smoky backrooms is too much to believe." Karen D'Souza of the Contra Costa Times has called it "devilishly complicated" and "hard to believe it goes on. And on. And on still more," while Jim Harrington has called this performance, "the most dreadful rubbish since the last time I wrote a mixed review. I never fully approve of anything but this gave badness a new name."

The Chronicle, always more reserved due to the heavy influence of conservative ACT in the City, has commented, "It should be interesting to see how well this thing floats in the future amid this stormy time for companies. We almost were convinced Trish Spencer was really a City Mayor, a role she continues to adopt despite the necessary qualifications required -- none of which she seems to have ever possessed. Was her portion supposed to be farce or tragedy? We were confused the entire time and are quite glad about the results of the recent Midterms as she has made the entire City Production look ludicrous."

Of course, their theatre/music review got mixed up for that issue with the economic report and the mid-term elections special, so the meaning of that is up to interpretation.

The East Bay Express got the dates wrong on its Calendar section, so they had no review.

The Examiner, as usual, ignored Reality and talked about the batboy who had been abducted by space aliens.

In any case, after spirits had been revived with a sloshing round from the kegs, the Hoophole Orchestra launched the proceedings with spirited instrumentals. The elaborate instrumental section performed Sousa marches and works by Debussy in true Island tradition, and featured vocals as well as strings, horns, thorns, woodwinds, and bloodhounds.

Performing on the Pushy Manager Organ were Carol Taylor and Rachel Linzer of St. Charles. Michael Rumsby of St. Charles marched in circles playing the bagpipe-tuba in the key of F## while the horn section played in the key of B13.

Brian King and Toshie of Park Avenue performed upon the Mendacious Dieben and Sneaky Pete while Little Nichtnutz executed the Shoplifter with Stolen Keys until the Tac Squad entered with fanfare and removed them for questioning.

Neal T. of St. Charles noodled on the Meyer Lansky Kazoo and stamped his tiny feet for percussion while The Henchmen crooned Barbershop Quartet style behind bars. Neal followed up with a slam-bang sale on dime bags of Crystal and Horse. When caught, Old Neal commenced to sing in several keys at once, which concluded with a parade of zoot suits conducting the perp-walk down the aisle. Quite a challenge and great drama.

Mill Valley, which has been courting the Island on a number of issues, sent a former Mayor who performed "The Little Chick goes Cheep, Cheep, Cheep," to a mixed reception of bystanders, who saw this rendition as a sop against MV's notorious wealthy exclusivity.

Antimacassars and doilies were supplied, as usual, by James Hargis, who also performed the Effexor Waltz.

Once this essay at musical endeavor was done to everyone's great relief, the Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor 34 1/2, gathered in a circle for their Invocation, led by Doyle McGowan of San Francisco, and chanted in the language of E Clampus Vitus.

The men, wearing their ceremonial robes and colorful fezzes, moved in a circle with their pinkies interlocked, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise, before intoning, "Heep heep Hepzibah!" before all jumping into the air simultaneously. They then sang their parlor charter song, "Die Launische Forelle," After they had done this, they moved again in a circle as before, concluding by bowing deeply, dropping their drawers and thence emitting a sort of 21 gun salute.

After the ritual pouring of Wild Turkey libations, the Official bugles were blown by Pat Kitson of Mountain View and Tally of Marin, upon which the hunters moved out into the field. Soon the air was filled with the gleeful holiday sounds of AK-47s, the cracks of freshly oiled Winchester rifles, the occasional crump of percussion grenades, cries of "Poodle there!", and the homey whoosh-bang of old-fashioned home-made bazookas and modern RPG's. In short it was a jolly, fine beginning for a Poodleshoot with overcast weather that soon turned quite overcast.

This year the official delegation from DC featured Rudy Guliani, spearheading a phalanx of lawyers that shot randomly at everything in sight as Rudy waddled across the greens with his Poodle Blunderbuss Cannon, destroying household pets and crockery and the Truth with great abandon.

All of the scandals in the past year in the Crystal City of DC produced quite a number of Poodleshoot candidates, however those that did not go to jail turned out to have a great deal of moral turpitude and so none of them were available for the Poodleshoot.

Sarah Palin wanted to come back for another go-around, as she so much loved killing things from the safety of aerial position where neither weather nor fierce animal retribution could be encountered, but organizers found a rule against multiple Sarah Palin Parasailin' in consecutive years and so she declined in a snit of Twitter.

Mrs. Frippary, of Mill Valley, came down Southshore Blvd on a visit with her adored Snickers on a leash with a collar of bright LED lights that captured Eugene's scope and so he drew bead, squeezed carefully, and let loose a round that blew Snickers to heaven with a sort of somersault in the air.

Shoot officials and also Poodle-Favor complainants responded quickly.

"Score of 8.9 for the somersault," said one official. "I would give it a 9, but he used an unimaginative 30 ought 6."

Eugene proudly held up his dripping kill for photographs.

"This man just shot my sweetums!" Mrs. Frippary complained. "That ought to be illegal! Just look at my oochee coochee poopee now!"

"Madam," said Official Banks. "You have been known by report to ignore Snickers attacking other dogs, biting children and adults and chasing the postman."

"No," said Mrs. Frippary. "He is a good doggie."

"Madam, you have been known to give preference to your dog over human beings at every turn. You gave him treats from the table when people are dining, encouraging a begging behavior. When people pass by him he snaps at their feet. You have demanded others feed your dog scraps from their own meals, and you have ignored his violent antisocial tendencies, ergo you have failed to socialize your dog."

"I do not understand what you mean by 'socialize your dog.' He is a good doggie!"

"That is exactly the problem. You still do not understand the importance of socializing your dog in a crowded metropolis like the Bay Area where service animals and the like need to be trained so as to interact with adults and children safely and without pretense."

"I live in a small-town environment surrounded by trees and wildlife. Why should I tame my dog?"

"If you kept your dog in an isolated kennel 24x7 away from humans that would be fine. I also see complaints from your spouse that your dog attacked his genitals because you insist on having the dog sleep upon the bed with you each night and the dog intervenes during sexual congress."

"That is a misrepresentation. Snickers just wants to join in on the fun. Wait a second . . . how did you know that?"

"Madam, you are promoting then disgusting bestiality?"

"Well, um, that's .. . that is entirely out of line of what I meant . . .".

"Madam, you are either revolting or totally ignorant. Which comes down to how we treat this poodle problem. The kill is judged valid and points are granted to Eugene Gallipagus for a vaid contribution to the Barbee and to Society at large. Madam you are free to take part and enjoy the last of Snickers, with E&J BBQ sauce. Everett and Jones is a Bay Area Tradition, enlivening BBQ meats for all occasions."

"I think not!" Mrs. Frippary said.

Surprisingly, the rest of the Poodleshoot went off swimmingly. There were a few contretemps when Mitch McConnell tried to shunt the 'Shoot towards a GOP pro-gun caucus and the TwitterHead in Chief sending fullisades of short missifs declairing illegal witch hunts and all sorts of nonsense until Padriac simply shut the stream off with irritation, giving all a sense of relief.

The Marin Dogwalkers Association had brought in truckloads of poodles on flatbeds and the hunters had a field day popping these effete morsels one after another. Plans were in the works to move the 'Shoot to either the San Geronimo Valley or Fairfax environs due to the plethora of misguided sentiments found harboring the savage canine in great numbers.

The shift was being administered in large part by the West Marin Expats Association which had found that the folk who had ousted born and raised possessed little in the way of decent manners or common sense and that something had to be done about it. West Marin Expats had been all forced to leave their hometowns due to the rising prices and gentrification of the one-time blue-collar area and they were wroth with desire for vengeance and a return to good, old-fashioned family values.

As a result the weekend featured a lively Poodleshoot event which, for once, was not marred by mischance or disaster, allowing the Poodleshoot.org to recoup losses incurred due to lawsuit and funeral expenses in past years.

And so there was a great route of Piddler contingents involving great loss to them and great addition to the Barbee which smoked with the seared flesh of poodle for fully a day and never was there seen such a triumphant poodleshoot as this one in the year 2019 even as the heavens opened up and poured down a tremendous deluge to end the Fire Season of 2019 with joy. So ended the 21st Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ and perhaps the last to take place on the Island.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

NOVEMBER 10, 2019

IN FLANDERS FIELDS

And in rice paddies and obscure hilltops with numbers for names and on rocky mountain sides and in desert locales and dusty villages. Monday is Veteran's Day. Remember 77th Cav and the 101st Airborne.


DEATH SAYS NOTHING BACK BUT I TOLD YOU SO

So anyway. Mercury once again was in retrograde. In the early morning, before Dawn afflicts the sky with shards of painful light. Pedro courses along toward the fishing grounds in his boat El Borracho Perdido. In recent days he has found his old radio friend Pastor Rotschue appearing here and there with increasing frequency after a period of hiatus caused by MeToo hysteria, which consequences might have been amplified by a rising desire to retire while still alive and kicking in the world.

The fog bank has arrived again, announcing the change of seasons. Summer is now entirely gone and the dense morning pogonip has arrived. Through this white world of white-out Pedro pilots his ship. In this time, between preparations, he has time to reflect on mortality and life. Recently he has attended memorials for old friends and for family. His abuelita, Lizabet, passed away after a long time of hanging on in that in-between state of life and vegitation, and they set up an ofreta during los Dias de los Muertos, with pictures of her dogs and her favorite foods.

Death is not something that ever waits for you to finish what you are doing. It takes you by the hand and you must go there and then, whether you are a soldier in battle or a salaryman working a desk in an office or a grandfather doting on his grandchildren.

Life is a vale of tears full of sorrow and suffering. There is wan comfort in knowing it does not go on forever. Yet there is no guarantee on what comes after, not reincarnation and not heaven or hell. We only know this life ends at some point. And because of this, Pedro thinks, there is nothing you or I can do about it. Death will come and that is that and there is no fighting against it.

The boat chummed along through the fog with Pedro navigating by instrumentation. He turned the dial in search of his favorite program, knowing it was gone, but perhaps there would be reruns, however he found only static instead of that sonorous, avuncular voice that had accompied his sea voyages for over 30 years. There is, however, for radio at least a sort of afterlife and so he hummed and scatted a little song as he put on a CD labeled "12 Monologs".

"I hear that old piano
down on the Avenue
I smell the snow, look around for you.
O that sweet sweet someone comin'
through the door
It's Saturday. The band is playin'
Honey, who could ask for more.
Woh, woh, woh wohhhhh ...".

In the East, the trees have all revolved into colors of burnt orange, reds, vivid yellows and browns. Word has it from the Elders of the Miwok and the Lakota that a cold wind shalll come down from the North, bringing an early Winter, for it must be that Demeter is especially displeased this year to make her annual grief for the loss of Persephone happen so soon and so violently. In truth Old Gaia has not been treated well and the recent devestating fires are evidence of that along with the polluted air and waters.

Denby has been sitting on the bench outside the Household since his return, staring into space. Not even Snuffles with his gallon of 99 cent wine can bring him out of his funk after the last visit to the Underworld on the last day of Dias de los Muertos. This time the trip was especially bad.

Javier came out after a day of philandering and people mentioned there was something going on with Denby so he went out and sat down on the bench as the evening cool grew and the moon swelled for it was soon to be pregnant and full.

"So my friend I bring some good mezcal with me from Mexico City and I want to share with you because I hear you have had a loss in your family. Here is a glass and the bottle I put down here."

"That is kind of you Javier."

"In my life I have seen much passing. I am older than you and believe me it does not get any easier as each passing year there are more and more empty places at the table of celebration."

"The curse of survival and getting older is that many of our dearest friends and relations do not."

"That is true. That is true. But the answer to that is not to stop living any more, for that is surrender to the Adversary. I have always felt that every sexual release is a small blow against the Empire of Death. That is why I live my life the way I do."

"You are an Odd Fellow," Denby said. "I guess that is one of the reasons I like you."

"Have another shot of mezcal, for you have many more valuable sufferings and enjoyments to experience on this earth."

"Slainte," said Denby.

"À t'santé," Javier said.

"That is French," Denby said.

"Of course I speak French as any cultured gentleman should. Besides the ladies love it and you know I dearly love the ladies."

"I know you love women - as many at one time as you can. But their status as 'ladies' I would have to question, Javier," Denby said.

Javier guffawed. "Touché! I am glad grief has not cost you your wits!"

"You would have liked my friend Chad. He had a trenchant wit."

"You know in Mexico we have Los Dias de los Muertos in which we play games, make sugar skulls and dress up in costume with many skeletons as a theme. This is not to mock the departed or make light of our suffering grief, for we are indeed sad whenever we lose someone. The skulls and all the decor is just to remind us that this life is but a show for a time and that afterwards there will be reunification and resurrection to eternal life. It is a wan hope, but some hope is better than cynical despair."

"I did not take you for being religious."

"I am not. These things of eternal afterlife began with the Azteca and the Tolmec. They are far older than Christianity and they remain embedded in the souls of our people. It is the reason modern Nahuatl people face the four directions and chant 'Ta Hui" in a language that has been forgotten these five thousand years. Cortez and Columbus and the missionaries all came one after another to erase the past, but they could not entirely succeed. I cannot say for sure, as I am unlearned, but all around the globe I suspect the old ways persist despite the sternest of Church Fathers. And look now -- the moon has arisen through the fog."

Indeed the swelling moon now hung over the ridgeline that bordered the San Geronimo Valley.

Pahrump came out to join the two on the porch.

"What says Pahrump tonight?" Denby said.

Pahrump remained standing and pointed a few houses down where a blur of white motion appeared. It was Missy Moonbeam, entirely naked and dancing her lunar dance in her not so well screened backyard. "Despite everything, joy abides," he said.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

NOVEMBER 3, 2019

HEY! I NEED SERVICE! NOW!

H

MOTHERLESS CHILD - THE 21st CROSSING

(revised 11/16/19)

So anyway, the time came for Denby to make the annual crossover, which had remained as a Tradition even though the offices and the Household had been transplanted by force during the Night of Shattered Fires. Tradition has its own powerful force as some of you may know. And the Night of Shattered Fires, begins with its present day immanence to overwhelm the memory of a terrible night of broken crystal for we have continuing struggles in the here and now that demand attention.

The sun descended and shadows grew long across the little avenues of Silvan Acres. Because of the creek passing through, and then the long absent train line and now the road, this place had been a traveling place for many hundreds, if not thousands of years.

The Editor said, "Go now," and so Denby took his walking cane and went out to the uplift where the earth was embanked higher than in other places along the road.

To his great surprise a train came trundling along the way beside the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, even though Denby could not recall such tracks ever having been there.

The machine heaved to a stop with steam and groaning and Denby climbed aboard and took his seat in a cabin with no other passengers in the car. The train proceeded down Sir Francis Drake, stopping at Yolanda Landing and various points not known to Denby and then proceeded south and east through a dense fog that made identifying landmarks difficult. For a long time everything outside the windows was entirely black and Denby assumed they were somehow crossing one of the bridges.

"Endstation! Endstation!"

At one point the train stopped and the conductor, a gaunt man wearing a robe, came down the aisle announcing in a foreign accent "Endstation! Endstation!"

Denby disembarked to find he was on the Shoreline Road on the Island. He walked along the path there that bordered the brightly lit condos and the seawall until he came to the Iron Gate. He undid the latch and was greeted by any owl. "Who? Who are you? Who?!"

An iron bell began to clang and then he saw the vast expanse of bonfires lit upon the beach. Those bonfires lit by the souls waiting passage to redemption or eternal fire.

A distant dog or set of dogs set up a jarring sound of barking.

He used his cane to push open the gate and so step through a veil of mist to the Other Side where a long reach of strand with bonfires extended to north and south, broken only at this height by the extension of a stone landing.

As in years past, as he approached the Portal, the Voice bellowed to him from some echoing deep cavern.

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!"

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!" and the words flamed inside the skull as if poured in molten steel. Just as it had for the past 19 years.

For pete's sake. As per Tradition, dammit, Denby muttered.

A large owl, about two feet tall, perched on a piling scolded him with large owl eyes.

"Hoo! Hoo! Hoooooo!"

Okay, okay. Poor choice of words.

"Hooooo!"

On the other side the ground sloped down as usual to the water for about thirty yards, but he could not see the far lights of Babylon's port facilities or the Coliseum. A dense, lightless fog hung a few yards offshore, making it appear that the water extended out beyond to Infinity. The sky above was filled with black cloud and boiling with red flashes of lightening and fire although not a drop of rain had fallen.

All up and down the strand he could now see that countless bonfires had been lit, as is customary among our people in this part of the world to do during the colder winter months along the Strand, and towards one of these he stumbled among drift and seawrack.

Sitting around that fire, he recognized many faces. And many more all up and down that beach.

"ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta"

Strange words in another language reverberated inside the skull: "si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta" echoing and echoing down long hallways of echos into eternity

A small child, barefoot and wearing a nightdress ran past and disappeared as quickly as she had come.

A blonde woman figure appeared before him, glimmering with an internal light and gauzy fabric blown by an invisible wind. This apparition greeted him.

"Denby!" said the woman. "Here you are again!"

"Hello Penny," Denby said. "Back again."

"A year has passed up there in your world, I guess. Here another year is all the same for waiting. There are several here who are new and they would like to speak with you."

Several little girls, all between the ages of six and nine ran barefoot across the sands between them and vanished into the misty beyond.

A man with bright blue eyes and wild reddish hair came running up and ran circles around the two of them several times before stopping and doing severa bouncing jumping-jacks.

"Denby! Look at me! Ha ha ha! I can run and jump again!"

"Hi Chad," Denby said. "Good to see you are in top form!"

"And look at this what I found!" Chad bent down to pick up a shiny guitar from the grass tufts. "It's my old Martin D-28! God, I was so heartbroken when I put my foot through the soundboard and broke the neck when I was drunk as all hell. I never could bring myself to replace it I loved it so much so I got that $50 nylon string. But here it is, just like new! And I can sing again!"

Chad began strumming away and singing in a powerful voice.

"Hello there my old friend
Not so long ago it was till the end
We played outside in the pourin' rain
On our way up the road we started over again
You're livin' out dreams of you on top
My mind is achin' oh lord it won't stop
That's how it happened livin' life by the drop.

Whaddya think about that!?"

"Glad to see your health has improved in the afterlife," Denby said as Chad began jumping up and down with the guitar.

Chad stopped jumping and said, "You ever schtupp my wife?"

"No, Chad. It never occured to me."

Chad got teary eyed. "Y'know, you are a real gentleman. With that COPD and emphasema I wasn't much effing use. You know it occurred to Tammy . . .".

"I know, I know. But I am not built that way. I had other concerns."

"The effing world needs more guys with effing integrity like you. Remember that effing hardware store we worked at under the effing freeway in Babylon?"

"That was 35 years ago and I still remember. You tried to teach me the banjo on the steps. I have that instrument now -- Tammy gave it to me."

Chad burped and out popped an obolu from his mouth. "Effing mother of the mushroom king what a place this is! Found my old guitar from 1962 and burping gold now! Eff man!"

"That is your passage fee," Denby said. "I guess you will be seeing some old friends and family soon. Tell Shannon I think of her from time to time."

"Hey, come on old buddy, you can tell her yourself," Chad said moving down to the stone pier. "C'mon man! Come and bonk my sister! Its all okay now!"

"In a little while I will be right behind my friend. In just a little while."

"Ok. I gotta have a few words with that guy I used to play with, Mr. Kantner."

And as he descended the slope, Chad sang and played his guitar.

Mama take this badge from me
I can't use it anymore
It's getting dark too dark to see
Feels like I'm knockin' on heaven's door
Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door
Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door
Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door
Knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door, eh yeah

"Come on down," Penny said. "Here are a couple more old friends of yours."

The two of them went down to one of the bonfires not far from the old stone jetty wharf that appeared every year extending out into the shallow waters offshore.

There two men sat conversing and laughing with great animation. One fellow had a flowing beard and the other had a head of curly hair above a craggy face.

"Hey guys!" Denby said.

"Denby, here you are," said the man with curly hair and the craggy face. "We were always Los Tres Amigos until you arrived and then with Paul we were Los Cuatro Amigos until Jim checked himself out. Then we were Tres Amigos again. "

"I hear Paul nearly bought it recently due to cancer," said Jim

"Hey lets set up a poker game right here", said the man with curly hair. "Matchsticks and nickles. One hundred dollar pot."

"I do not think there is time for that, " Penny said.

"Ahh!" said the curly-haired man. "I have always liked you. I do not know why, but I do."

"Doyle," said Denby. "You have always been cantankerous. Craggy-faced Doyle."

"Craggy-faced? What the heck in Sam Hill does that mean"

"You are photogenic, Doyle. Always have been."

"Hey!" Doyle hopped up and adopted a fighter's stance. Feinting slightly with his lead.

Denby stood sideways and put up his hands, just like they used to do in the old days, he and Doyle.

"Ahhhh," Doyle said. "You'd probably kill me. Ha ha ha ha!

"Denby, there is someone here you need to meet," said Penny.

"I know," said Denby roughly. "I know already."

In a circle of light that emanated from some unknown source, a woman with chestnut brown hair danced in a circle with the ephemeral children who ran out of the darkness to cavort and then disappear again.

"Ring the Rosy. Parker has a Posey!"

Denby approached and stood a while, watching this dance and then spoke. "Hello mom."

The dancing woman stopped and all the children bolted off into the darkness.

"Hello Sonny boy. You were my First Born."

"I know about the other who did not live. That is another story. So now how are you?"

The woman stuck out her tongue and made a fillip sign with her hands.

"She is so insousciant," said Penny. Everyone here loves her.

"Life does not go on forever. And that is a good thing I have found out. Now I am at peace, but I worry about your father. He is entirely too serious. He wants to control everything."

The two of them stepped aside to another fire circle to discuss important things in the brief hour that remained.

"You wanna play poker?" Doyle said to Pennie.

"I do not think that is allowed down here."

"O common. Matchsticks and pennies." Doyle said. "After all we have all of eternity to hold or fold.

"Doyle you are some kind of rascal wanting to set up a poker game with the Angels in a place like this," Jim said.

"Well, hell, I just want to pass the time like we did before. No harm in that. Maybe teach a few angels some angles. You me and Paul were always Los Tres Amigos. Remember that? Then Denby came along and we were Los Quatros Amigos. Then you checked yourself out and we were Los Tres Amigos again. We could be Los Quatros Amigos again. Except Paul of course is up there still . . . ".

A loud bell began to clang and the souls along the beach started to wander down to the jetty that struck out into the dark Bay. A glimmering in the distance announced the approaching Ferryman.

Doyle responded with astonishment when a gold coin popped out of his mouth.

"What the heck is this?"

"That is the obolu that grants you passage," Penny said. "You are very lucky to depart now. "

A glimmer appeared from far off across the water and many of the souls on that beach began to gather at the old stone jetty that had appeared.

"C'mon Jim!" Doyle said as he moved down the slope.

Jim just shook his head. "Sorry amigo. Gotta stay here a while."

"Well what the . . . C'mon man. This is the trip of a lifetime. Last roadtrip of all!" And Doyle grabbed Jim to drag him down by the hand to the jetty where the skiff docked and the souls began to board, offering their passage obolu.

"C'mon Jim, c'mon! Let's go!"

But the infernal Ferryman turned his visage towards Jim as he stood still upon the sand and his body began to smoke under that withering gaze which consisted of eyes that were wheels of fire and Jim fell back, shielding his own eyes from that terrible punishment.

Up furthur on the beach the woman who had been talking with Denby said it was time to go. An obolu popped from her mouth.

"I have suffered enough. Time for an end to it all. Bye-bye Sonny! You were my First Born."

And with that the woman descended silently down to the jetty, where the Ferryman waited for her, followed by dozens of young girls, all the not born and the never-will, cavorting and dancing and bearing flowers in baskets they strew along the path.

The Ferryman, in an unaccustomed guesture, assisted her aboard with unusual gentleness. And the woman who had been Denby's mother turned to face the shore and she put her thumb to her nose and wiggled her fingers and laughed and laughed as the skiff pushed off to the Other Side.

Meanwhile Jim struggled up the bank to the firepit where Denby and Penny stood.

"Well he is gone and here I am," Jim said. "Waiting for Paul. Last of the Tres Amigos."

"Self-murder takes a long to forgive, " Penny said. "You might be here longer than even me."

Jim sat down heavily on a log beside the firepit. "Well this sucks. How is Paul?"

"He almost joined you with the cancer, but much to his consternation he has been dragged back through the black tunnel of therapy into the living for a while yet." Denby said. "But he is made a very angry and unhappy man having been put through all of that with operations, chemo and radiation that cooked his innards and that is not considering the politics right now."

"Paul is the son of a Baptist minister. Anger would be his birthright if nothing else. For nothing else is what we Californios have earned over time," Jim said ruefully.

"You're father assisted Mullholland as an engineer right up until the San Franciscito dam brake. You should have seen it coming."

A little girl ran up to Denby and spoke. " Hey Papi! I am Sapphire! Remember me! You named me last time! I am not born yet, but maybe I will be some day!"

Denby got down on his hunkers to face Sapphire. "Hi Sapphire! I hope you have been good all this time I have been away."

Sapphire nodded vigorously. "I have not been born yet. I cannot tell a lie! Maybe after I am born!"

"Well I am 62 so we will see about that."

The iron bell began to clang, calling the faithfull to their knees to speak the softly spoken magic spells. And close the gate between the worlds at the time the veils between the worlds are thinnest.

"Time to go, Denby. This one has been quite the family reunion."

"Yes."

Reluctantly Denby turned to go up the slope.

"Denby." Penny said simply and he paused as a wind kicked up with gusts.

She reached out her hands to cup his face. Cold, so cold. He felt a wetness on his lips, on his face. Perhaps the slap of saltwater from the Bay carried by the wind.

"Good-bye. Until next time."

He ascended the slope as the sound of the bell and three dogs became more insistent until he stumbled through the gate which slammed shut behind him. There, an open door to a train compartment waited for him and he climbed in to plotz into a seat in an otherwise empty railcar with salty, wet cheeks. On the return journey, he reflected Penny had become in the afterlife what she had been before. In life she had been a nurse during the height of the AIDS plague whose job it had been to handle the affairs of patients who had been sent home from Hospice as they lapsed and eventually died and allowed her to handle the paperwork of such things, there always the angel to usher souls to the door and through it to the next form of existence, if any, beyond.

The train passed through shadowy regions of smoke and the skeletal forms of houses and the smoke of spooks until it passed Yolanda Landing and eventually to the San Geronimo Station, where Denby disembarked. From there he went dutifully to the Island-Life offices although he felt exhausted unto death.

The Editor awaited him as in years past.

"So this is the 21st time you have crossed over," said the Editor. "How was it this time?"

Denby fell into a plush chair Martini had snagged from a For Free roadside pile. He gave the Editor the one thousand yard stare.

"I can tell you are wanting a drink. And by just the look of you, so am I." The Editor reached into the desk and pulled out a bottle of Glenfiddich and set two glasses on the desk before pouring more than two fingers into each glass.

"Any idea how the elections will go this time and what will become of the Country? You did ask, did you?"

"This time there was no time," Denby said hoarsely.

"That is par for the course" said the Editor. "Anything else?"

"There is nothing else to say," Denby said, his thoughts now far away. The thousand yard stare.

"I suspected not. It is all according to Tradition. At least we have that. Cheers."

"Cheers. Slainte." Denby said.

They sat there until the first glimmering of light appeared above the eastern hills. And so ended the last night of Los Dias de Los Muertos, the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest..

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

OCTOBER 20, 2019

MONSTER MASH

This image taken in San Anselmo and shows a Spirit looking somewhat concerned at a delivery from Amazon. I would be concerned. Wouldn't you?

NIGHT MOVES

So anyway. The winds and the evening temps announce the change in Seasons. They are holding the annual costume Ball in the Lagunitas schoolhouse, and plans for the Marin Poodleshoot and BBQ are in full swing.

Instead of the Old Same Place Bar, meetings are being held in the Fairfax Same Old Place Bar there off of Center Street next to The Scoop ice cream parlor.

There we have native Cynthia slinging the drinks and pouring the tap, with owners Colum and Aisling supporting the nightly pour.

There at the rail, Snarky Beans holds forth on his personal Conspiracy Theory.

Snarky Beans has this idea that there is a conspiracy to hide alien artifacts at Area 49. He was contacted by Island-Life to explain what evidence did he have for the existence of aliens, largely because we all would really like to know all about aliens among us, which supposedly would explain so much like the Economy, Global Climate Change, Mysterious Lights in the Sky, and donald trump.

"First of all, why Area 49? And where is this location?"

"Ha! You are so gullible. Clearly there is an Area 51, which we all know about, because it was always intended as a distraction. If there is Area 51 then there also is Area 50, Area 49, Area 48, Area 32 and on up to the primodorial Area Number 1, just as there was always Prisoner Number 6, Number 5, Number 4 and so on back in the Sixties television series.

I have discovered the probable location of secret Area 49 which is so secret nobody knows about it save for certain agencies embedded within the Deep State. There we have certain proof of Alien contact.

Okay, so where is this Area 49?

It is Top Secret and I cannot tell you directly, but I suspect it is located in Sunol.

Why Sunol?

Because people are very close-mouth around there. They have a biker bar at the crossroads and the folks in there are pretty cagey. At first I thought it was Alameda Island, largely because of the Navy Base there, but that location has always been far too stridently self-involved to be very important. I would place that location as Area 89.

So what kind of evidence could be at Area 49 that is so important?

Alien toes.

Pardon?

It seems that during an hasty escape from Sunol a door came down suddenly severing the toes of one particular, unfortunate Alien. The toes have been recovered by our Airspace Research Division.

Why were the Aliens in Sunol in the first place? Sunol is not exactly a significant location by itself.

Aliens always appear in areas where they will not cause serious remark among intelligent people. The location appears chosen because they could conduct talks with the Secret Agents of the Deep State without disturbance. The toes are kept in cryogenic storage at the secret facility in Sunol I feel bad for the feller who lost his toes. Maybe they have a way to regenerate them. I hope so.

I would hope that we have some kind of friendly response should that Alien come back to recover his property.

You just have to trust the Government to do what is right.

That is what really worries me about all of this.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

OCTOBER 13, 2019

NEW DRESS

This one comes from Facebooker friend Rocky Wingwalker who is a bit of a daredevil in real life. Yes she does walk on the wings of airplanes outside of a perfectly good and comfortable cockpit as an occupation, but Rocky is one unusal woman and we applaud her for all that. Besides, in this fetching number she is sure to show off all her curves....

NIGHT MOVES

So anyway. The days grow short. The early morning drive to work begins in darkness until the reddish aurora glows behind the silhouette of the coastal range beyond the bridge undulating over the narrows like a great beast. Pumpkins appear overnight on doorsteps. Tiny monsters breed in the shadows of doorways to erupt suddenly into the streets. The pogonip has appeared upon the hills in the early morning, creeping over the ridges in Tolkein images of apocalypse.

We have shifted from unusual heat to a pattern of cool nights and variable days of sunshine where some parts of the Bay Area still enjoy 80 degrees. Not even Donald Trump can affect this annual pattern and we have reports of a snow storm about to hit the Sierras.

It is two weeks to the Dias de los Muertos and once again the Editor held the annual Drawing of Straws to see who will cross over to the Other side on that fateful night when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

Rachel got onto the bus to the ferry that took her to the landing where she took another bus out from there through San Rafael with its increasing urban problems, through San Anselmo with its increasing European cars, through Fairfax with its steady insistance upon zero growth and increasing party, and thence over the White's Hill and down into the San Geronimo Valley with its traditions and crochits that have not changed much over the past 100 years. Thence Rachel a-lites at the busstop in Silvan Acres, a place that has forgotten Time.

She made her way to the new Island-life offices where the meeting had been arranged for the Annual Drawing of Straws.

That Rachel is appointed as the Straw-bearer is a matter of Tradition. That the Drawing of Straws occurs in mid-October had been a matter of Tradition these past 20 years. That the end result is always the same, is also a matter of Tradition, but nevertheless, Rachel must make this long journey, leaving behind dear Henry the cat to be cared for by apartment hallmate Carol so as to preserve Tradition.

In the new Island-life offices that were created in the space of a former barn by the labor of Pahrump, Denby, Mancini, and others, the surviving staff gather for the annual ritual.

Rachel walked up the wood steps and into the offices where the Staff was all gathered.

As in the 20 past years, Rachel walked around with the hat filled with straws and each member of the staff drew so as to determine who shall be the one to cross over to The Other Side, their charge being to inquire about the possible future.

This year was especially important, given the market volatility, the violent, ill-nature of the current Occupant of the Oval Office, and the upcoming Presidential elections.

As Rachel walked down the aisles, each staffer drew a straw with great hesitation, sweat beading out on the brow, nervously clutching the straw until it was revealed to be longer yet than any other to that person's great relief. Even Festus was made to draw -- nothing is uglier than an anxious, sweating hamster -- but it had to be done for the sake of Tradition.

Finally it came around to the reluctant Denby, who, as Tradition dictated each year, drew the shortest straw.

"Why must it be me each year," Denby lamented.

"Because you are Chosen," Marlene said. "It's just it is not always to advantage to be Chosen. Okay everybody, tea and coffee and cakes on the verandah!"

"Why don't you go for once?" Denby said to the Editor.

The Editor removed the cigar from his mouth and considered it a moment. "Because I have been to Hell already. It was called Khe Sanh."

And so they all filed out, clapping Denby on the back congratulating him on his good fortune while muttering under breath as they exited the door, "Thank god it is not me, poor sod!"

Finally Denby was left alone with the Editor.

"So how is this going to work? The Island is miles away." Denby said.

The Editor snipped the end and kindled a new cigar. "A conveyance has been prepared that will take you to the Portal, same as last year."

"The infernal train," Denby said.

"Call it what you want. Come out back for the Recitation."

The Editor arose and beckoned Denby to follow him out the back while there was laughter and candlelight happening out front on the verandah.

The two of them stepped into the glade there and figures appeared out of the darkness. Denby thought at first they were coyotes or deer, but they were in fact the Wiccan coven of San Geronimo Valley, led by Constance Washburn and Missy Moonbeam.

"I do not know what is going to happen next," said the Editor. "I wish I did."

The coven circled the two men and began to chant and sing as they threw their arms upwards into the star-studded sky confounded by the glare of a full moon.

Of Oedipus the Chorus doth say
You saw him swept away.
So, being mortal, look on that last day!
And count no man blessed and free of strife
until he's crossed the bounds of earthly life!
Safe in the grave!
And free of pain at last!
Ahhhhhhh!"

The coven, having completed their incantation, filed out of the glade.

"Marin is really wierd," Denby said.

"I know," said the Editor. "But if it did not exist, someone would have to invent it somewhere else. A place where magical possiblity and all the opposites of everything I have seen in Da Nang province are engendered. It is a place that convinced me, after many decades, that people are more than just meat. That is part of one reason you must go to the Other Side each year."

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

OCTOBER 6, 2019

SCARY MONSTERS, SUPER CREEPS

 

This week's image comes from Patrick Higgins, author and former Island resident who now lives in Fairfax. Let the Season begin!

WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS

The previous week a series of rainstorms soaked the area, giving the illusion that fire season was done with us. The end of summer heatwave that always happens in the end of September and we had triple digit temps again.

There is no Island-life Sabbatical this year due to recovery from injuries incurred in 2017.

So anyway. Raif Sanjani had a problem at work. He was trying to get the latest Nextgen interface pushed out but the Developers would not stop developing the interface which meant that it would always be behind as Raif's team tried valiantly to push out the updates.

All of this was lost on the people who actually had to do the work in the office. They had the common complaint that the icon did not work. That is all they understood and all they really needed to understand. They needed to bill for medical services and this darned icon on the desktop stubbornly refused to work. They expected top notch service at a moment's notice. When Raif told the Department Head how long it would take to get the interface completed, the DH said brusquely "That will not do. We need it by next week."

Around midnight Raif put his head in his hands. Things could not go on this way with unreasonable expectations. They could have had the project done within a week if they had outsourced but no, they did not want to spend the money.

Raif had a sudden inspiration. He wrote a small batch file that did only one thing: it called a visual basic program to display the message "DATA UPLOADED SUCCESSFULLY." This he attached to the desktop icon for the interface and he then pushed it out to all the desktops. He then wrote a snippet to take all the interface data that had been keyboarded and send it to a SQL server that did nothing. The data would of course be garbaged, but it would be months before anyone discovered that and in the meantime Raif could work on the interface at his leisure.

Or better yet, get another job.

On the Island people handled the heat wave in various ways, but the real news was all about the new whistleblower who had replaced Joshua, Wally's son, as the focus of irrational Right Wing ire.

An as yet unknown snitch had revealed that Mayor Blight of Newark had sought to have the Mayor of Hackensack launch an investigation on the son of former VP Ignatious Bidet on trumped up corruption charges.

It was all terribly convoluted and the part about corruption and Mr. Bidet very exciting to people who read the National Enquirer and take it seriously.

The part about using a foreign power to exercise influence really seemed the pits for both sides, especially the whistleblower who joined Wally up there in the Greek Orthodox temple seeking sanctuary.

Nobody seems to understand how this process works. People vote scumbags into office and decent, honorable people inform upon them and instead of the scumbags running like roaches escaping the light, the decent people have to run and find sanctuary. Which seems odd to us. But Joshua is glad of the company.

The heat wave has come and gone and the buckeyes are all gone sere. Mornings and evenings the pogonip drifts in over the hills.

Yes, that special season has come upon us when the air turns brisk with scents of apples and chimney smoke and thoughts turn to traditions and season rituals. Dick and Jane go gaily scampering through the fallen leaves with ruddy cheeks and panting breath hand in hand, leaping over babbling brook and fog-damp fallen tree, each dreaming of popping a few rounds into a Fifi, blasting the stuffing out of a silver-haired poo with a brand new, polished thirty ought-six.

God! It is such a magical time! It is glorious America in Fall!

Yep, that much anticipated Island event is nigh upon us once again, the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot and BBQ.

We will be posting the official rules presently in the sidebar. For now, last year's rules are up there to give you an idea of what this dreadful celebration is all about. What is the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot you may ask. This year marks the 21st year that the 'Shoot has taken place and perhaps the last time it will be held on the Island before it moves to Marin where the infernal species abounds in great numbers. It is, in short a Tradition, and we are big on Tradition.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

SEPTEMBER 8, 2019

STOP MAKING SENSE

And Friday the 13th will be the Harvest Moon.


GONNA LET THE 2-19 EASE MY WORRIED MIND

So anyway. The fogs have returned to the Bay Area and the Inhabitor of the Oval Office remains as foggy-brained as always. On the Island Bobby Blunt still wants to build a wall to keep out people from Oaktown even though it is people from Oaktown who run most of the small businesses and restaurants here.

Bobby says Oaktown never sends its best and those people cause a lot of crime, but an awful lot of Hells Angels dudes settled on the Island with their rap sheets -- it is just they retired and sold their bikes to drive pickup trucks now. Then there is the home-grown Angry Elf gang which keeps things in order by occasionally setting a car on fire in front of a troublesome business.

This recently had some unfortunate consequences when the Cackler ignited a car he thought had been abandoned, but in fact Frida Kahlua was sleeping in the back seat after having too much to drink at La Penca Azul. Their margaritas are really good, so if you come on the Island be sure to check them out.

So anyway again, Frida woke up to the smell of her clothes and her flesh burning and started screaming and then had to be taken to Emergency at Highland (because the Island hospital still has no trauma unit) and because the IPD was annoyed with this loud screaming on Park Street. "We can't have that sort of thing here," said Officer O'Madhauen. "It is not a traffic infraction, but it definitely violates a number of ordinances against noise after hours."

The Angry Elf gang was apologetic, in their own way, because the intended entity to be harassed was supposed to have been La Penca Azul, so obviously a mistake had been made and the persons responsible would be disciplined. The Angry Elf sent flowers and a box of chocolate cherries which Frida threw into the garbage because she was on the Keto Diet.

The Keto Diet does not include alcohol, but does allow occasional departures. Morphine, which is given to burn victims, is not at all on the Keto diet nor is it mentioned by any of its gurus. Frida was consequently really pissed.

If you do not know about the Keto Diet or the Paleo Diet or any number of diets that have demonized Carbs, the scuttlebutt around here is that carbs convert to sugar and sugar is burned instead of fat and so you gain weight and get inflammations. The Keto diet says that if you avoid all simple carbs in the form of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, alcohol, starchy veggies, and also avoid foods loaded with simple sugars like most fruits, juices, and eat food loaded with fat you will lose weight as the body starts to use ketones made from fat instead of sugars to keep the whole machine running.

Of course we have here, besides the "organic" frenzy, the war against gluten. By extension we find any number of food items lacking some critical ingredient that used to be considered part of the basic process, like rennet-less cheese. We do not know what rennet is, but we have found cheese without rennet is disgustingly awful.

Gluten is bad for people diagnosed with ciliac's disease -- it produces a violent anti-immune system reaction that can be fatal. For the vast majority, the presence or lack of gluten has no effect on the person. It is fine to label something as having no gluten to protect people with the ciliac's disease, just as products need to state no nuts or soy were involved to protect those people allergic to soy and nuts.

But to demonize gluten with no scientific basis is just stupid-making. Gluten is bad for people with ciliac disease, but it is not bad for anyone else.

As for avoiding carbs? Just stop buying potato chips and you will be fine.

The Editor finished his dinner of green salad with avocado and home-made dressing and put it all in the sink. A dutiful and water-conscious Californian, he washed his dishes no more frequently than once a week, using a catchtub for boiling water. Well did he remember the value of fresh water in hauling by the bucket from the well each morning on his uncle's farm in the Valley.

The night advanced with winds of change stirring the sere buckeye branches hung with dried leaves. Our version of Fall. The Editor looked up at the heavens now clear of fog and cloud and wondered about the lonliness of god, who felt compelled to make his own Company, because the angels were either rebellious or obnoxiously servile.

Mankind is the product of eons of lonliness. God wanted love at the disgression of the giver. He did not want love that was automatic and robotic. He wanted love that was freely given out of the hearts of man of their own free will. And of course the necessary condition is that the love is free to be discarded.

This is the way god taught himself pain. But pain is all we know as part of humankind. Suffering comes to us all without conditions, without control, without allowance, and is imposed. There is the difference. God may be eternal, but his pain is limited by his experience. Humankind's suffering has no boundaries and is eternal. Save we have one consolation, wan though it may be: this thing does not go on forever for us. There is an end to it. And no resurrection, no reincarnation is any sort of guarantee.

The Editor came to a rose bush and sniffed. Brevis a natura nobis vita data est; at memoria bene redditæ vitæ est sempiterna. The life given to us by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal. According to Cicero.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

SEPTEMBER 1, 2019

WHEN THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER PRICKS MY FINGER

The last heat wave cause pink ladies to erupt everywhere. They are still colorizing the byways but fading now as the evening temps move with easing breezes to the cooler side.

The buckeyes are all sere and the creeks all run low with dotted gravel banks. Soon a cold wind shall descend from the north.

I WILL WALK ALONE ALONG THAT BLACK MUDDY RIVER

So anyway. The Flat Earth Society held its annual meeting in the Silvan Acres meeting hall owned by the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor 666. The building is a farmhouse type of structure built in the late 1800's up on the south ridge near the labyrinth and the goat farm. The labyrinth is not much to look at -- it is some thirty feet in diameter and consists of mounds of earth some eight inches high that guide the wanderer to a center where people have placed trinkets and glittery tchotchkes in a pile.

The goat farm features goats of various breeds and is rumored to house some kind of religious cult up there on the ridge.

The boys in the Household had maintained their relationship with the Native Sons and so had secured occasional employment setting up meetings and cleaning up afterwards, while making sure the Official Tortoise remained happy and well fed in his terrarium.

The Flat Earth Society maintains that Galileo was wrong and the earth is flat and that Round Earth doctrine is little more than an elaborate hoax. Each year members meet in California to talk about their problems and the difficulty of putting forth their curriculum in the public schools. There was a flash of hope during the period Creationism was taken somewhat seriously, but since that mythology has been tossed in the intellectual trashbin, forward progress has been difficult.

There has been a resurgence of hope among the faithful since the Carrot-topped One occupied the Oval Office in that truth and reality seem to have been set aside during the current Administration, but people are still waiting on the positive outcomes.

Any number of organizations that had previously to Carrot-top been derided and pooh-poohed are now re-establishing presence in recognition that lunacy is no negative in the current age. The KKK are holding BBQ cookouts. The Sons of the Confederacy are holding rallies. The Nazi party has seen a resurgence in New Jersey with voter canvasses. On any given day of the week some nutcase extremist appears spouting inflammatory, racist nonsense in Sproul Plaza.

And just this week another gunman. Yet another gunman. Appeared in Odessa Texas to slaughter innocent people just trying to get through the day in what has become a monthly occurance.

Pahrump and Martini sat on the edge of concrete loading dock at the end of the hot day, letting the cool breeze dry their sweat. They were up on one of the ridges that formed the San Geronimo Valley, which extended in forested folds down below them.

"We've come a long way since joining the Household of Marlene and Andre," Martini said.

"How so?" Pahrump asked.

"When the Household began the Island was a little place with small town concerns. You could do all your shopping on a bicycle and parents hung pinatas from oak trees in the front yard on birthdays for the kids to swat at blindfolded. Nobody from other parts of the Bay Area wanted to live there because of the Navy Base and because it was not cool like North Beach. Then the Navy left and the Land Greed began and people like Fahrad drove up the rents and subdivided the old houses into condos and ritzy apartments, packing more and more people into the place until it became an Island City of 100,000 people with all the crime and problems cities have. The Angry Elf mafia was the last straw to turn the place into something that was just like every other soul-less place with too many people with too much money.

"You are right about all that," Pahrump said.

"Now here we are in a place with too many people with too much money, but there still are people who argue about the charter schools and who defiantly resist development with no bones about being called "anti-growth." Heck, here anti-growth is a badge of honor. And it is sparsely settled; there could not be more than 3,000 people in the entire San Geronimo Valley, including Silvan Acres, Lagunitas, San Geronimo, and that neighborhood below Spirit Rock. They have Crab Feeds at the WIC and fundraisers at the Community Center and little clubs and library events where everyone knows each other and their families. The Mayor of Silvan Acres holds council meetings in his livingroom, but since the place is not incorporated, there is little that is actionable in their largely symbolic decisions. His term is decided by unofficial elections where everyone scribbles a name on a slip of paper and stuffs it into a cardboard box left unattended at the Post Office. One time people forgot the end of term and so the Mayor served an additional unofficial year as Mayor until they held an election again.

There are a scad of bicycle riders that throng the place on weekends, but those people look and dress like aliens from outer space who have beneficent rights of passage. Other than momentary annoyance on the road, they are harmless."

"This is probably how politics should be, but is not in most of America due to monetary influence," Pahrump said. "The First Peoples always get the short end of the stick, so I suppose it does not matter. No one on the 'Rez has ever dreamed about having a house with a white picket fence, I assure you. Olumpali was unusual in keeping his hacienda and lands and I have always wondered about that and about Chief Marin who gave his name to this curious county of Alta California."

"Marin is certainly an odd place," Denby said. He had just come out after cleaning the bathrooms to hear the end of this conversation. "What I see is a community of families trying to raise children as best they can in a confusing world, a large number of wealthy imports who seem to change houses at a whim, a large number of wealthy families who stick to their estates which are one of many houses, there are a fair number of people who seem to be able to afford usorious rents and want to live in a place with few advantages, and then there are people like us struggling to keep body and soul together who do not have the resources to pickup and go somewhere else. This place is all we know and we grudgingly calll it home."

"Marin," said Martini (who had been born and raised in San Francisco), "What are we to do about this problem? This mysterious local."

"Marin shall remain what it is. It is up to us as gypsies, the immigrants, the unwanted, to make ourselves a home after being uprooted. You never will be able to ask leniency from a Nazi. That is not going to happen. It is just interesting that we have moved from a place that falsely claimed to be smalltown USA to a place that has the reputation of large town but is in reality small town mentality in a myriad ways."

And with that the sun set behind the ridgelines of the San Geronimo Valley to allow Orion to climb up amid the smear of the Milky Way, something still visible in the San Geronimo Valley.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

AUGUST 28, 2019

SUMMERTIME, WHEN THE LIVIN' IS EASY

This image is presented by Jessica, who is a resident of Bernal Heights in Babylon and proudly features baby Dylan enjoying the essence of summer, more than a trace of which remains hanging around.

HEIJIRA

So anyway. The signs are up all over San Anselmo, Fairfax and Silvan Acres: Look up! Drive slow! And indeed anyone but a fool knows school has started again. Summer, if it happened for you, is winding down. The roses are throwing out their last punches and squashes are swelling on the vine. The lake beans are producing faster than anyone can pick them, and everywhere on every corner and every spare yard of land the pink ladies have erupted to parade down the avenues tossing their brilliant hats. Despite the recent heat waves, one of which saw just about everywhere see triple digit temperatures, there are subtle signs things are heading for a change. As the Elders say among the Miwok and the Ohlone, a cold wind is due to come down from the North. We do not have the Eastern turning of leaves around here, but we do have the Pogonip.

We have the Fog. And when the fog rolls in that announces changes in temperature far out at sea. Lately Pahrump has been driving into the East Bay on his scooter, encountering the fog laying gentle on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, that crumbling and inadequate edifice built in its day to be a sort of ad hoc fill-in for a bridge whose main duties would be carried out elsewhere. It was designed primarily for the purpose of carrying an aqueduct to supply Marin and maybe a few busses. Nobody thought about where that elsewhere would be for main traffic. So there it still stands after all these years, rising up only to slump midway and then rise up again only to slump down to the toll plaza where the road departs through embattled Richmond with some awkward curves that seem to have been built as afterthoughts without proper design because the bridge builders and the highway builders did not come to a discussion about their intentions until the thing was nearly finished. As the thing crumbles pieces of the bridge periodically fall from the upper deck to the lower, sometimes with fatal consequences.

The Household has survived and recovered from Javier's birthday, which tends to be a doloroso day and evening. Indeed for weeks afterward people can be seen nursing bloody bandages and applying salves to burns and that is usual for Javier's birthday, which now the entire Household dreads each year. Everyone had to work through July 4th so that holiday never happened. If this is the Trump economy, then expect more of the same to keep Obama's wave rolling forward with depleting energy. This summer basically sucked eggs.

Marlene and Andre have been stockpiling canned goods in the shed in expectation that the Trump economy shall become a wildly blooming poisonous flower as has happened each time a GOP administration has wrapped its groady hands around the neck of American commerce. This has happened with predictable finality because the GOP is not good for business, but good for the particular businesses that happen to be its friends and all others, which includes most of America, to be inimical enemies who must be crushed. Every time the GOP wrecks the economy, the Democrats come in to rescue the country from disaster and pull back the deficit. It is ironic that the Democratic party is now the best exemplar of fiscal responsibility, but that is just the way it goes. When the other guy gets terrible, your awfulness looks bright and shining.

Evening approached, bringing relief from the heat, and the eternal yellow school busses that resumed their rounds a week ago discharge their urchins with backpacks into the neighborhoods, while the bearded crossing guard glares at the cars to make them stop. They better stop, or else.

Members of the Household sit on the rickety porch and pass around the bottle of jug wine while Marsha and Tipitina reminisce about catching fireflies in Jersey and New Orleans. "We used to catch them and put them in mason jars with some grass to eat but after a day they would not glow any more," Tipitina said.

"We did the same thing," Marsha said.

"Ever think about going back," Pahrump said.

"New Orleans is all destroyed," Tipitina said. "I been here now for so long and everybody I knew is scattered from Angeline to Texas."

"Go back to Red Bank where I got beat up and tossed around like a rag doll? No way." Tipitina said. "How about you?"

"Back to the 'Rez? I don't think so. That was never our homeland anyway."

And they were all silent for a long while until the shooting stars began to appear beneath Perseus.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

AUGUST 18, 2019

CALLING THE MOON

This shot was taken midweek from the Mission Bay area of San Francisco.


THE BOBO TOY

Peter was talking about Zelig, the figure in the Woody Allen movie as well as the Jewish folklore. A zelig supposedly adopts any number of personality traits culled from stronger figures in his neighborhood so as to gain acceptance. This is true of highly insecure figures who might also take a gift-wrapped projection handed to him by people looking to colorize a convenient object with their own fears and fantasies.

Peter was talking to the group and Bobo sat there among them with Donald and David and Sabina and all the rest.

They called him Bobo because his real name was such a conglomerate of vowels and consonants it looked like a doctor's eyechart and nobody knew how to pronounce it.

Bobo was the new boy in town and immediately he was alternatively painted as a tough punk, an angel, a wife-beating misogynist, an heroic kind Samaritan and any number of things via the gossip mill right away within 12 hours of arriving and setting up shop as an electronics salesman. Generally speaking, this sort of thing lasts for a while and then goes away in favor of the rumor-mill glomming onto the next fresh meat that arrives, and fresh meat is always arriving. And San Francisco has a nasty Rumor Mill like no other city has ever seen.

But something was different about Bobo. Although big in electronics he never owned a television, never went to the gossip-mill centers, and generally was a social naïf who accepted all that happened to him as either bad luck or the product of generally good people being by nature generally kind. So in Bobo's case this process of projection continued for some 42 years as the members of the rumor-mill aged out and young folks took their places, inheriting the legend of a man that was supposedly chameleon-like while Bobo continued dealing in electronics, moving into personal computers and smartphones when those things became popular and going to the same deli each week for the same pound of pastrami and pound of Swiss.

It was the colorless nature of his nature that let people project any sort of idea upon the scrim of his soul.

Bobo managed to insert himself into a karass of friendly souls who had known each other since the sixties. Into this community of oddballs and geniuses he entered as a member and so learned to love each of them and they himself and nobody projected an image of devil or angel upon him, but accepted him as he was as he stood there in his socks and shoes without pretense. This membership went a long way to keeping him sane.

One day someone on the street came up and hit him in the chest to his astonishment, and so Bobo grabbed the guy before he could run away to ask the man just what the devil was going on. Largely due to these sorts of erratic events, Bobo had taken to self-defense classes, and at 6 feet 1 inch and 210 pounds, he could be a force with which to reckon and the Street had given him lots and lots of practice.

"I do this in support of the Women!" shouted the man.

"Woman?" Bobo asked, thinking it must be somebody particular he must have offended in some way. "What woman?"

"All Women!" said the man. "You terrible violent misogynist you!"

"Who the hell said this about me?"

"I heard it through the Grapevine," said the man earnestly. "Let go of my lapels! I am a defender of Womenhood!"

"Get the fuck out of here you idiot!" Bobo shouted, and because he really was not violent, he let the man go.

Another time he was in an office after making some sales deals and, seeing a woman having difficulty shelving the heavy copyroom paper he stepped in to help her load the entire pallet often did things like that.

When they were finished, the woman said, "Shi shi ni! Shi shi ni! You good man! You not so bad! Not true what they say!"

Apparently the Rumor Mill had transcended some its racial barriers and he was now a topic within the Asian community, which is a dubious recognition of the hopeful dissolving of our racial separations that so plague this country.

Another time he sat at the rail in the Starry Plough waiting for the band to start, when a guy started berating him, calling him a sissy and clod and vastly incompetent and generally making an ass of himself while proving he was inexperienced in the art of true insult. True insults that are really good dig in with reversed barbs that cause pain for quite a long time after being delivered. These were mere brickbats. Bobo had encountered both in his time and so he knew the difference between a deft swordsman and an amateur. Bobo responded to the lunatic at first with some humor, parrying the more interesting ones (simpering eunuch, lost in space peripatetic dimwit) and laughing at the usual unimaginative ones (gutless coward, scumbag).

Finally Bobo interrupted one tirade to ask just what the hell was up with this guy, and the guy promptly invited him out to the street to settle matters.

Bobo refused to take that gambit, saying all could be resolved by calmly stating what was the matter. Then take to the street if so necessary.

This confused the man, who said, "Someone said you like to fight."

"If I liked to fight we would be fighting by now as you have been acting like an asshole for the past 15 minutes. Isn't that right?"

Another man sitting at the bar, listening to everything, concurred. "That is correct."

"Now who the heck has said this about me?"

"Well. I am going to have to talk to this person." Said the insulting man. And with that he left the bar.

It was a former girlfriend who commented that although some people called him a zelig figure, he never really changed. He had been declared a non-person. This phenomenon is not without precedent. You take someone, remove their humanity, and they become your convenient devil to defeat easily enough; it has been done before. How much better to batter a relatively defenseless person, like the new boy in town or someone a little different than to come to grips with the real Devil, as the real Devil is monstrous, strong, possessed of savage weapons and a notorious reputation for not fighting fair.

Bobo continued to go to the same gym every other day, the same deli every week, and the same job every day. He took music lessons and learned to play the banjo. He maintained a small circle of friends, but due to the rumor mill never really got close to anyone, save perhaps his friend of 40 years Peter, who was one of the few college professors he admired still living. Most of his childhood friends who had survived coming out of Vietnam had passed away. He continued working in the bad parts of town where the posters and the garish windows suggest there are women who want nothing more than you and it is all about fulfilling your deepest, darkest desires.

So years pass. The problems associated with the passage of years, are manifold. Although our enemies grow older, so do our friends. Although enemies die off, so do our dearest friends. Although strength wanes, Evil remains an undefeatable giant. The Bay Area and San Francisco changed too over the decades. Peter moved with his wife to Fairfax in Marin. David moved to San Rafael.

Bobo moved to Woodacre down the road to be among the skunks and the deer and to get away from the gossip-mill. The City had changed, but some things never change.

A girl came up to Bobo in an office and pointing a finger, exclaimed "You are the reason everything is ruined in the Bay Area!"

Bobo sighed. "No I am not!"

One after another friends of decades-long association succumbed to cancer, to suicide, to other causes. In this time, his friend Peter went though some difficult times. Besides enduring the deaths of close friends known for half a century, Peter contracted a serious illness -- cancer. And this cancer was of a type with little hope for survival. Long months of surgeries and radiation and chemo did serve to beat the thing back, but at terrible cost to the man's physique. Then, engaging in property improvement projects that involved a lot of digging with machinery and laying of stone, he got dinged by the City for building without permits -- a newbie in the neighborhood had informed on him to the Planning Department.

One must understand that surviving Cancer is understood as a pass good for one more go around. And one would think joy would ensue, but the truth is the process is practically medieval in its savagery in cutting out pieces of functioning anatomy, leaving behind something that will struggle somewhat from day to day. Nobody gives you a golden medal or a trophy for beating the odds. There is no big party with confetti descending from the sky. You just get handed a chart with some numbers. Yes there is life, but life under reduced circumstances. Just ask the ghost of Skip James to tell you all about it.

Then came the announcement of Donald's stroke and subsequent coma. Peter had known Donald since 1973 and they had become dear friends, dearer as the years passed, with Donald hosting affairs at his house in Sebastopol and Peter holding gatherings for friends with his wife Sabina at his house in San Francisco.

Donald hung on by way of artificial respirators and the usual life-support systems as the once wonderful electronic system that had been his brain sparkled and fizzled with dozens of minor strokes until two weeks later, his daughter made the wrenching decision to not leave the once virile, powerfully built man in this condition. Before the plug got pulled, Peter came up to visit Queen of the Valley Hospital. He bent down to speak into the ear of his old friend, but no one knew if Donald could hear him and his daughter sat too far away with her hands clasped.

After Donald was cremated and most of his ashes distributed, his daughter scheduled a Memorial in San Francisco in an old building converted from a 1930's shipping office along the water to a restaurant and special events venue. It was an appropriate location to honor an old time San Franciscan.

Peter and Bobo talked about getting to the Memorial, which supposedly featured difficult parking, a couple weeks before the event. Bobo had only known Donald since 1982, about 38 years, but had grown fond of the man through their sporadic encounters at special events. Peter knew Bobo now worked in the East Bay and the Memorial was to be held midweek on a Wednesday evening. Bobo said he could leave work early and get over the Bay Bridge in time.

Peter said if Bobo was leaving early, he should come over the Richmond San Rafael Bridge and he would pick him up halfway and they would go together with Sabina to save on parking.
Bobo agreed to that.

The two weeks passed and with the problems from the City inspectors, the costs for construction ramping into the thousands, the everyday evidence that the Bay Area was changing adding to his natural tendency toward the anger one would expect from the son of a Baptist minister, Peter forgot the conversation had occurred and Sabina began talking about riding with David who had grown up as a child clambering about the knees of their friend Donald. Peter thought it would be a good idea to hook up with David, who tended to be extremely busy these past few years having grown up to be a man with significant responsibilities. Sabina never knew the conversation with Bobo had taken place and so the idea of riding with David became an idee fixe. During this long car ride, they would go over memories extending the length of David's lifetime and so heal themselves from this grief of loss. That was the best way for things to go.

As the days passed, Peter's anger grew more intense. Foppish clods driving around Marin in their rented European cars, pushing their ugly values and bad decisions on everyone. More traffic and more people of an undesirable type everywhere. His health problems now included an hernia about which he had to be careful. And the grief for the loss of his friend, the latest in hard losses yet again, yet again!

The stages of grief also include anger, as we well know.

The afternoon of the Memorial Peter and Sabina were tossing things into the car in a hectic rush. A number of texts and dropped phonecalls emitted from Bobo, which Peter professed not to understand.

Finally, Bobo showed up in Fairfax in frustration at his phone equipment having failed and Peter shouted, "You are supposed to be at work!"

"I got off early," Bobo said. "So I drove direct." Indeed he had made unusually good time getting over the bridge, so he had bypassed Larkspur.

It seemed something was off to Bobo, so he asked what should he do. He felt prepared to head into the City on his own if that was what was wanted, but Peter was too angry to say anything intelligible. Sabina then said, "Well since you are here, climb on in."

And with that they drove to the City and Donald's emotional Memorial where his daughter read a speech and cried and members of his weekly poker game spoke about remembering him, and one of his ex-wives said "It is really great to see all of you our dear friends even though the cause for it is really sucky." His brother stepped up and everyone commented how much his voice sounded like Donald's. People who had known him a year raised their hands. People who had known him five years raised their hands. Ten years. Twenty years. Thirty years and Bobo's hand was still raised. Then it went on to forty and fifty and sixty years. Donald had been 83 at the time of his stroke and before that still as strong as a bull from doing construction all his life.

Then it came time to leave and it was learned that David did not need a ride back to Marin as he had his own car in a lot in SF. No one had ever communicated with him about the plans to have a nostalgic drive back from the City, so instead of taking the ferry as he usually did, he had driven in and just like any perfectly capable adult had parked his car and walked to the venue.

Peter, now was furiously embedded in his grief anger and anger towards all things, and he directed this anger at Bobo. Bobo forgot his jacket at the venue and Peter drove the car jerkily to a stop at the door and drove furiously, starting and stopping abruptly through the City streets that had changed so much during his lifetime that he had to follow David part of the way even though he had been born there at St. Mary's.

At one point Peter indicated the bike rental racks placed by Limewire and Bobo commented that Limewire was shifting from bikes to scooters, with the back of his mind registering that this was old news. He failed to see the warning signs.

"Yes those scooters. The kinds of people who rent them. One of them buzzed right by me and hit me just like this!" And Peter tried to smash his fist against Bobo's side, but because one hand was on the steering wheel his fist raked across Bobo's chest. "God damned outsider!"

"Vot de furk!" exclaimed Bobo, who decided getting home from this event was better than making an issue of minor discomfort.

Not much happened further along the way and the violence in the dark was not witnessed by Sabina in the back seat.

The nasty ring of that phrase "God damned outsider" remained with Bobo as he entered his livingroom and turned on the TV to find that yet another public place had been attacked in a mass shooting event, one of those things becoming ever more frequent these days. The shooter had been found with scads of anti-immigration literature in his van and loads of material from the campaign offices of the current inhabitant of the Oval Office. Then there was all the talk about immigration and the case of the fellow who had picked up a trash bag on a San Francisco wharf to have the loaded gun inside fire off and kill someone standing there, producing an incensed reaction among the Far Right. And the synogogue on Alameda Island with all its windows smashed in a new Krystalnacht.

Bobo's girlfriend came out from the bedroom with bed-towseled hair and asked how the Memorial had gone. The County was doing some controlled burn in the area and the air stung.

"When will this stuff ever end?" Bobo said, referring to the news report.

And the awful answer hung like fetid cigarette smoke in the acrid air.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

AUGUST 11, 2019

BLINDED BY SCIENCE

This is a shot of part of a Silicon Valley Datacenter on the third floor. It represents, in the world of datacenters, the suburbia middle class area of cages reserved for various companies that rent space to lodge their server equipment.

There is a lower class of cages that hold only one rack and no amenities. You open the cage door and stand outside the rack to do your work. These here in Suburbia involve entering the enclosure itself and feature a few bells and whistles like mounting for electrical supplies and so forth.

The Upper Class cages feature doors and space that allow engineers to place tables and chairs and mobile PC platforms so as to work all day and all night inside the cage.

It is this sort of place that hosts your internet, your credit card information, your banking information, your medical records and most of the details of your life with various entities.

To enter this place you need to be fingerprinted, issued a badge that allows limited access to the building and to the floor and the room on that floor. Access to all areas is controlled by fingerprint plus badge, even the elevator.

Here there is no Summer, no Winter, no Spring, no Fall. There are no windows and only the loud roar of over 20,000 router fans going at once, making it impossible to hold a human conversation.

DANCING CIRCLES ROUND THE SUN

Drove up to Rancho Nicasio for a return of Rodney Crowell to the Sunday BBQ on the Lawn series of concerts. This time around the band featured Stuart Smith, who is a guitarist with the Eagles, Eamon McLoughlin, who is the house fiddle and mandolinist for the Grand Ole Opry, Charlie Sexton on bass.

We had hoped for a reprise of last year's acoustic presentation, but after a few sound glitches the band kicked into high gear for a kick-ass concert that once again took the roof off of the open air space.

Rancho Nicasio is a venue owned by a pair of jazz musicians who understand the importance of quality music. Through the summer the Sunday BBQ on the lawn outside the main building has drawn top notch acts who perform to crowds of less than 500 people

Last Sunday was no exception and added to the renown of 69 year-old Crowell who can still belt a blues number at top volume and rock the House better than many 20-somethings.

ANOTHER ROUND OF BLUES

So anyway. All the guys nabbed during Javier's birthday celebration finished doing their time or community service to indicate they had be rehabilitated into this diseased Society that includes White Supremicists, Neo-Nazi sympathizers, and loads upon loads of gun nuts who think Donald Trump is the cat's pajamas.

Scads of psychoanalysts are baffled by the current conditions, for how on earth can any decent analyst "gently guide the analysand back within the boundaries of normal society" when the new normal is so deviant, so perverse?

As the sun drifted behind the ridgeline of San Geronimo Valley, Melisandre wandered among the roadside growth, pausing to nibbled the grasses there.

"Look mommy! I see a unicorn!" Little Aisling exclaimed.

"That's nice dear," said Mrs. O'Connell, who was unloading groceries from the Subaru.

"Mommy, it is a real unicorn!" said Aisling.

"I am sure my dear," said Mrs. O'Connell, who had a million things to do today.

Little girls can see and do magic, as most perceptive dads and moms know perfectly well. No one knows at what stage on the road towards womanhood that is so fraught with disappointment this ability seems to vanish. We only know that the magic of adult women is very different, something is lost along the way and that no man can say why this is so.

But another thing is clear: in late summer of the year 2019 a llittle girl named Aisling saw a flesh and blood unicorn, which looked at her with blue eyes and pawed the earth while the girl's mother unloaded groceries and noticed nothing unusual.

Marin is itself a strange and sometimes magical, sometimes irritating place and that is just the way it is and you just have to accept it.

The angry Sun has withdrawn for a time to allow us to consider our environmental sins under a pensive sky of scattered cloud..

The Editor stepped out after the angry sun had finished punishing the day to enjoy the cool of the evening.

Doyle's memorial was next week in the City. And all were adjusting still to the passing of Strange de Jim. And most recently of Doyle and of Chad, the former Island-Life coder.

As each holiday season passes there are more and more empty seats at the table.

Into the cool of the evening, into the garden, stepped the Editor. He inhaled the scents of leaves, poppies, ripening fruit on the summer vines. So many had died and yet another memorial due next week. So many times he had been left on the mountainside to be eventually spirited away by helicopter and deposited in some bare patch amid the sea of green on all sides.

But nothing can kill the Creator who makes all things including those things that make him suffer. Know this then: our god does suffer and that is why you have no real choice but to love him. You have the choice to spurn God who is Love, but what would that make you? Immortality is no vaccine against suffering. And there is no guarantee for anything, not even reincarnation. We have small comfort in knowing this thing does not go on forever -- there is an end to it.

But for the Editor, there is no end. Suffering is eternal until the end of all things. Maybe then there will be some comfort for God.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JULY 21, 2019

INTO THE MYSTIC


SUMMERTIME

So anyway. We actually have uneven weather to report these past few weeks. It has been unbearably hot, and while the rest of the country has suffered evil, killing heat, we have enjoyed bursts of breezy, coolish temperatures. Now after a respite heat is once again spearing the land with sharp, sizzling blades

We did have a few earthquakes to disrupt the comfort zone and a few fires broke out, but that was all in the course of life in California.

The Staff entirely missed all the July 4th celebrations, having to work through the day and the following weekend. Frumpy the Clown who presently occupies the Oval Office has sought to perpetuate the rescued Obama economy by pushing through mounds of deregulation on labor practices. Obama's team did such a good job of yanking American economic strength from the brink of the Bush\Cheney precipice that the juggernaut of relieved businesses still continues despite Frumpy's best efforts to do everything wrong.

And America's economy is resilient, awefully big and hard to damage even by such an incompetant nitwit as Frumpy.

After everyone got out of jail subsequent to Javier's birthday, which ended as it usually does in an atavistic orgy of bloodshed and violence, the surviving Household members collected in the backyard of the old converted barn that was beginning to shape up nicely as a domicile for a collection of freaks and misfits, due largely to the diligence of Pahrump, Jose, Xavier and Piedro along with Marsha who turned out to be pretty handy with power tools. Martini's ingenuity helped a great deal as tools were sorely wanting at first until items began to turn up that "fell off the truck." The first hammers were bricks and rocks. saws were found lengths of wire and rough cut steel. martini took a Yamaha starter motor and welded on a handle that had been the footpeg. He then wired in a converter for power and an attachment to take a sawblade. Voila! He had made a circular saw.

Marin is lousy with stuff being put to the curb as FREE for disposal. Nobody wants to pay the fees to take this stuff to the dump. This is how Festus and pals began to rebuild their Habitot home -- out of discarded irrigation tubing and free aquarium tanks.

Lumber, also was easy to come by. On any day of the week the sounds of hammers and saws filled the air of Marin to chase away the songbirds on the weekends. All of Marin becomes a vast construction project as Marin had once been up to the 1980's the bedroom community for blue collar workers and before that it had been a summertime resort area where the houses had all been plopped on the dirt with no foundations as they were meant to be only temporary summer cottages. No house in Marin, other than the farmhouses had ever been intended for permanent residence, consequently there was a lot of improvement needed in virtually every structure.

This news may disturb the narrative of Marin being a reserve for vastly wealthy people who have all these amenities at their disposal, but the truth is because Marin has developed from what it was, all the roads are in bad shape, everything is broken everywhere, and the vast majority of the population has no money. Save for those few living in mansions that cost well over 40 milllion dollars a pop and a slowly growing middle class that have owned houses there since and before 1972.

So anyway again. The Household was starting to get traction in developing a foothold in the unincorporated wildlands of Silvan Acres.

The landlord, Mr. Midge, was pleased as all getout by this activity. Here a miserable, run-down piece of junk property that really needed a permit for demolishion was being improved at no cost to himself to the extent that at some future point in time he could kick them all out and rent the place for scads more cash to Millenials, but Mr. Midge was a hippie of the old school and he would not do that, quite unlike Mr. Howitzer.

He even took the step of going to the county to apply for permits for some of the work, which resulted in some pretty interesting conversations.

"You are making a habitat for hamsters if I understand correctly? Inside a structure originally designed for a barn for livestock."

"Yes that is correct," said Mr. Midge, submitting plans that included vast changes in electrical, structural, and interior subdivision as subtitles and amendments, which he was assured no one would ever read as the purpose of the structure was to continue to be a livestock barn. Of course it was not suitable for habitation, but by the time anyone got around to that detail, the original County employees would have retired. Such was the plan of Mr. Midge who knew local government better than anybody.

Now how are you to prevent the rodents from getting out into the general fauna population?

Moats and gates and 24 hour surveillance

Moats and gates and 24 hour surveillance cameras and electronic fences of all kinds. That is why we need to install a new 200 amp subpanel in addition to what is there.

The plans were approved by County employees who were amused by the whole idea of submitting plans for what they imagined to be a large Habitot structure in a barn.

Code, of course, might be a problem later on, but Mr. Midge was satisfied and rolled a Fattie to celebrate.

The piercing sun set behind the ridge and the Editor took up his stogie and so strolled in the cool of the evening into the Garden so as to ponder Life's Persistent Questions. God takes many forms over the course of the years in Island Life. Some people imagine God to be a White, blue-eyed, white-bearded fellow sitting on a throne. Some others see God as Alanis Morrisette. At times god is a great hand upholding all of us. Others, like Jason Arrabiata see god as a Flying Spaghetti Monster. With meatballs.

Come to Island-Life and that is what you will get: among many things a questioning as to the existence and nature of god. Overhead Asteroid 2019 OK narrowly wizzed by and did not destroy any early cities, although it apparently could have.

The Editor considered this and the failings of all the charges under his oversight in his position as a sort of District Marketing Manager for God. The people were stiff-necked sorts of people and had all sorts of failings, including that of belief. The Editor could not be concerned with that as he had to make sure the stitching that linked the lives and possibilities remained intact. His charges were so obviously stupid and failures at everything in life and so abused. Consider Occasional Quentin, or Snuffles. If you were an heavenly angel what could you possibly do to rectify the wretched destruction in each man's pathetic life, ruined by violence and drugs and drug dealers? Not much other than provide for a safe haven such as the Household so that each damaged life could somehow find a place that would allow some kind of fullfillment, an approach towards happiness if not meaning.

Across the night sky falling stars streaked across the now ominous Milky Way, so fraught with City-killing asteroids to add to all that we now have to fear.

But for now the night was quiet and no sirens rent the air with announcement of disaster. The San Geronimo Valley remained quiet. No one got shot and no one got stabbed.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

JULY 7, 2019

POPPIES! POPPIES!


ANOTHER TURNING POINT A FORK STUCK IN THE ROAD

So anyway a whole lotta graduations happened last month and now the kids are turned loose to wreak such havoc as summer kids have been known to do down through the ages. The school busses are all parked for the summer and DPW crews are everywhere tearing up the roadbeds before the next rains interrupt whatever subterranean subterfuges they have in mind. Mindful of last year's disastrous fire season, PiGgiE crews are out trimming the once sancrosanct tree limbs while stern warnings about 100 foot cutbacks are propelling legions of contractors to slice, dice and trim the unruly vegetation at every domaine.

Mr. Lithgow once again stood at the ready for this year's graduation ceremonies at Island High's field of dreams, with buckets of sand, the water hose, several fire extinguishers, and a plunger at the ready.

As in years past he and Sister Profundity from the Church and Pastor Hitone from the Baptist Community kept wary eyes on the incoming grads, soon to be outgoing citizens. Every year it had been the tradition ever since the Founder arrived from Minnesota in 1849, for the departing class to let loose one last Senior prank upon the school.

So there they were, all the kids who had gone through the four years required by the State and so mandated so that at the very least this motley crew from all around the world and all walks of life would have this much in common and perhaps learn something of how to behave in society.

Which is a lot more than most idiots in this area do for their dogs, which remain unsocialized to death.

The weather took a turn for the cool side after a scortching heat wave and now seems to be drifting back to hot temps beyond the fog-shielded coastlines.

Some people enjoyed a four day weekend holiday for the Fourth. Samson did not. Neither did Denby who signed on as a Helper for the extra bucks. Samson works as a Network Engineer for a non-profit health organization in the East Bay, although he lives in Fairfax. The Administration decided that since the Fourth is a Holiday, generally, then would be a good time for a major push to transfer most file servers and switches and things with blinking lights that are important from Sixth Street in Berkeley to a Colocation Center in San Jose, some 50 miles south as most of the clinics would be closed.

They were moving all this stuff to a high security enclosure because on 9/11 a bunch of maniacs highjacking airplanes reminded everybody that it was a very good idea to have copies of all your stuff far, far, far away from any place that might suffer injury due to a plane crash or any sort of moron pushing a vacuum cleaner near the Company Assets.

Because they had to wait until the clinics closed on Saturday night, they spent the morning dealing with messages and the usual network snafus to noon when they all converged on the Admin building to start prepping the move. This involved locating the stray devices staying in the building and needing to be re-addressed as the entire server network would be fork-lifted that night to Santa Clara. Alvin Pirohamidoallahislamardik had planned everything out and all the plans were contained between his ears so everyone had to just go along for the ride for it was his habit to put nothing of his plans in writing. That way, if anything went wrong, he could never be blamed.

As it turned out, the ride involved a planned staying awake from Saturday 5:00 am to Sunday, 6:30pm when Alvin fell down in his hotel room and slept the sleep of a thousand Brahmins.

First, the team brought down the network equipment, then unracked the equipment amounting to some 1,000 pounds and a 50U rack. If you do not know what a 50U rack is, just understand it is really, really big. Then the equipment was loaded into a truck and then transported 50 miles south from Berzerkeley to Santa Clara where CORESITE maintains an immaculate, pristine, sterile, and garishly lit facility of the most severe security and utmost seriousness where nobody ever has thought to put up a Jimmy Hendriks or Patti Smith poster despite acres of whitewashed walls.

Denby had to be photographed, fingerprinted and issued a badge so that he could ride the elevator to the proper floor. Even the Breakroom with vending machines required a badge swipe.

He asked why this was all necessary as he did not want past infractions with the law to come into play and was told that if he wanted to use the lavatory, he needed a badge to get access and so that was that.

So this is America in the here and now. They get you by the bladder, not by the balls which they find unnecessary and will remove eventually anyway. Then and only then will they own your hearts and minds. The bladder, well that is something you absolutely have to have function so as to be a productive servant. How else are you going to pitch in to the kitty for the coffee and pastries? Think about it.

Denby worked with Smarmish Dickenson, the Network Engineer, in the old Admin building to frantically chase down errant routes and devices with the old network still binding them to the LAN, including a massive Konica Minolta buried somewhere in the building behind locked doors where they had no access. Then, around 2:00am Denby was driven back to the San Geronimo Valley where he fell into bed after having a ham sandwich.

Before Alvin fell down at 6:30 am, he called Denby at 6:00am to ask that he fix 41 routers at all the sites remotely. Then and only then did Alvin fall down.

Alvin had his first meal in 42 hours sometime around noon on Sunday when Denby returned from Berzerkeley, dog-tired, to the Valley to sleep a few hours and then get ready for Monday, when all hell would break loose as all of Richmond lost their phones. The errant Konica printer turned out to be owned by the HR department. Another printer turned out to be owned by a doctor. Everyone was upset and the entire week went like that for Smarmish.

The boys sat out on the deck on Friday after a miserable week was not enjoyed by all and skunk weed roaches were passed around along with the 99 cent bottle of gallon wine. It was ruled that tech was not worth the wreck and citronella candles drove off the West Nile Mosquitos as the sun set behind the ridge and the coyotes started their howling. So that was the July 4th weekend for the Household, which turned out to be not so celebratory.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JUNE 09, 2019

EXCELLENT BIRDS

Last time we sported a picture of Oaktown cranes. Here are cranes of another type. Storks actually. By artist Carol Taylor who lives in the Gold Coast area.

GOUDY KIMBLE

So anyway. The unruly weather has led to a season of hot spells and the unavoidable annual commemoration of Javier's birthday.

Javier, who stems from Mexico City, always has wanted a Big City celebration, but since relocation to Silvan Acres his style has been crimped in so many ways. He has always lived life in a grand urban style which the Bay Area had previously provided all access, but Marin is not quite Bay Area. Marin, although cheek by jowl with 8 mllion residents of neighboring counties, inhabits a mind zone that features a very provincial concept of itself. A series of isolated rural towns that have no knowledge or experience with the Pacific Rim from which so many residents derive their income.

Jose decided to have Javier's birthday located at the San Geronimo Community Center, which is about the most conservative and laid-back sort of place to hold any event one could imagine, but about as urban as a place surrounded by elk and trees can get. Jose figured that surely a group of recidivist hippies would provide a safe environment for Javier's 61st birthday.

Javier, although turning 61, had not abandoned a single one of his bad habits of drinking, smoking, womanizing, gambling, womanizing some more, running fast and loose and womanizing to the third degree, and these habits have generally led to discomfiture, disarray, dismay and injury on the part of his close companions.

He felt it was his duty as a native son of Mexico City to preserve the image and honor of the hot-blooded Latino and so he was constantly getting into scrapes and difficult situations, while Jose and Jesus act as good, well-behaved boys who were well instructed by their honest abueltas.

Andre's band, The Monkey Spankers, performed on stage, alternating with a local band called Tiny Television and it was pretty much an all day affair with dancing and music and food made by the Household women and drink concocted by Denby and Pahrump and Occasional Quentin, who dumped an additional fifth of vodka into the punch that was well laced with absinthe that had fallen of the trunk on the Island. Several kegs of Fat Tire ale appeared although no one knew who had paid for them.

Martini rigged up disco lights and some pyrotechnics for when Javier was to blow out the candles on an amazing cherry chocolate cake topped by a miniature toreador. There was to be a candle for each decade of Javier's life plus one, which is very symbolic and everything.

The day was merry with feasting and jovial jumping up and down and Javier's presents were quite the thing. From Marlene Javier got a silver dagger that was quite the letter-opener. From Denby he got a hand-carved buddha about a foot high. Beatrice gave him a serpentine chain with a pewter skull on it -- Beatrice was soft that way. From Sarah he got a miniature Hitachi Wand and from Suan he got a box of flavored condoms.

"Are they edible?" Javier asked, as he was most intrigued by the latter item.

"O I do not think you want her to bite down while you are wearing them," Suan said.

As the sun set behind the ridgeline and the cake was brought out on a rolling server, Melisandre strode in carrying an assegai. She was followed by Carmen and Miranda. Carmen, leaning on what looked like a cane, was dressed in a blue dress and Miranda was dressed in a red outfit so tight you could read the label on what little underwear she had on underneath. She was a size 6 and she carried a pistol, size 38.

Javier was known to attract girlfriends who all bore reputations for excitement. When repeatedly asked by trauma unit teams just why Javier always chose such extraordinarily dangerous women, Javier would reply that he found them interesting.

"Why were we not invited last year?" shouted Melisandre.

James, the Center superintendent and event planner stepped out with his right hand up. "Keep it chill; we practice peace and mindfulness here!"

"That's good," said Miranda. "Mind your business and practice your piece." Then she shot him in the leg.

James, a large man, went down in a heap in front of the three women which hampered Melisandre's charge at Javier with the short spear.

The lights abruptly cut out and everything degenerated into a an atavistic melee of screaming and thuds and gunshots by the light of the seven birthday cake candles.

Jose started yelling, "Stop beating me! I am Jose not Javier!"

"I don't care; you are his friend and I will beat ALL of you!" Carmen said.

One of the gunshots punctured a beer keg and stuff started foaming across the floor among the writhing bodies. Pahrump and Denby were trying to wrestle the pistol out of Miranda's grip and the thing kept discharging at random as she tried to kill them. Finally the gun clicked empty and she let go of it to take out something that glimmered in the half-light; it was a short-bladed knife.

"Where the heck did you keep that!" exclaimed Pahrump.

"Hah! You'll never see where!" crowed Miranda as she drove it into Denby's thigh.

"Yaaaahhhhh!" said Denby, somewhat dramatically and at high volume

Occasional Quentin, percieving by sound and moisture what had happened to the beer keg tried to save the glass bowl of punch, which must have contained some ten gallons of liquid. Naturally he slipped in the darkness causing Quentin and the bowl to crash to the floor, adding a muddled idiot and shards of broken glass to the mix.

Everyone stayed low as Carmen swung her cudgel wildly in the darkness and Melisandre chased at shadowy forms to stab them with her assegai until Carmen accidently clipped her on the ear and she went down in a heap with the others on the floor until Carmen was the only one standing in the middle of some kind of scene from a movie by Quentin Tarantino.

The sound of distant sirens approached, drew nigh, and stopped outside as flashing red and blue lights came through the windows.

That is when Martini's timed pyrotechnics went off.

"Come out with your hands up!" barked a voice.

Those who were still ambulatory ran out the back, as had Javier long ago. Denby leaning against Pahrump, who was wheezing, hobbled to the door.

"What's up with you?"

"I think she broke one of my ribs," Pahrump said. He then fell down face first outside the door, causing Denby to fall over and lay there on his side.

"I did not tell you to lie down! Yet." The voice barked. "Get up! Now! Then lie down when I tell you!"

"We can't," Denby said, as he thought reasonably. "We are hurt."

So the sheriff tased both of them and bundled them into the car to be taken to the hoosegow.

It was at the County hoosegow that they had to remove the knife still embedded in Denby's leg as no one was allowed to bring those kinds of things into the jail under any conditions.

Denby commented that he was bleeding and the Sheriff gave him a bandaid before locking him up, commenting, "You smell like a distillery."

While lying on his cot in his cell Denby promised himself that next year he was going a road trip at this time of year.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

MAY 19, 2019

THE CRANE WIFE

So okay all the songs that feature Cranes point at the bird. Not even the Boss has written a song that features this mechanical thing that so importantly occupies everyone's horizion, no matter where they live.

These guys are part of the Oaktown port, one of the busiest in the world, and they hover over the Estuary where massive ships come in from all over the world to unload boxcars of junk you and me are gonna buy. Those cranes inspired a local boy named Lucas to create a fantasy transport\fighting machine for one of his Star Wars movies.

SEA CHANGE

So anyway, the weather turned unruly for this time of year. When normally we have dry temps in the 70's, we had storms come marching in with very cool weather to swell the streams and send cars sliding on the freeway because Californians just cannot handle any kind of precipitation on the road, North or South.

Fire, earthquake, mass murder, general foolishness, that we can handle better than anyone from New Jersey or Chicago, but rain on the road, that is such a rare commodity nobody here has learned to deal with it properly.

Sometimes they get snow in the mountains and that too we can handle. We do not run around with our hair on fire and close all the schools because of a few inches of snow like they do in Baltimore. We just handle it and if the snow gets like fifteen feet deep we just close the passes over the Sierra Crest and that is that. No big deal.

The Editor charged Pahrump and Jose with a singular task. They were to deliver a cow to Mr. Gruffman's barn and there was a lot of mysterious shuffling of cards about this particular transaction.

For one thing, the two of them went out to a field on the edge of Dickson Ranch and none of the Dickson Ranch would admit any knowledge of this transaction for the Dickson ranch is a ranch that features horses, and save for a couple that are unduly overweight none of them can be called cows. For another the cow was tethered in a field with a rope and nothing more formal other than a notice attached to a post in that field that this cow was "D feed source". And there were many signatures and writs involved that looked highly financial and official in all regards making this deal a fully bona fide sanction to sell a cow for some kind of purpose not yet divined but the papers were all in order and in this modern age it is most important to have your papers in order.

Generally speaking as mentioned previously the Dickson Ranch was devoted to horses so this introduction of a cow was an odd bargain.

So the guys took the rope halter and commenced to leading the cow out of the ranch and onto the road outside and the guys started talking about what to name this particular cow because all the paperwork just referred to her by numbers. The guys are going down the road with the cow in tow and various names were suggested, some obvious like Bessie and some not so obvious like Coliform and Sweetie Methane Pump and Midden Heap. Eventually they agreed upon the name Trillium for the flower that erupts so energetically in the area.

They arrived at Mr. Gruffman's yard and Mr. Gruffman said it was okay if they left at that point but they did not want to leave for curiosity and it was curiosity that revised their lives going forward forever.

"Moooooor!" exclaimed the doomed Trillium.

Mr. Gruffman threw open the barn doors and then emerged Hubert the dragon and then occured the end of Trillium rather violently and Jose was sick in the bushes amid the savage, atavistic crunching of bone and blood and viscera.

"I told you," Mr. Gruffman said before locking Hubert back into the barn.

"For Pete's sake what are you doing with a live dragon in a barn?" exclaimed Pahrump.

"O I do not think you would want Hubert flying about unfettered," Mr. Gruffman said.

"That thing can fly!?"

"Of course. He is a genuine dragon."

"What else have you around here?" Pahrump asked carefully.

"O the usual sort of stuff left behind by the hippies. Unicorns, faeries, a number of witches, elfs and elves -- that sort of thing."

"I should like to meet an elf," Denby said.

"No you wouldn't," Mr. Gruffman said. "The elfs of Marin are all bad tempered because of the wretched parking."

On the march back to the Household it was agreed between Pahrump and Jose they would never name a cow ever again for they had just witnessed something which no amount of cheap jug wine could be made unseen again.

It was up to Denby to report to the Editor while the others got seriously drunk that the cow had been delivered as charged.

"Good," said the Editor. "There will be another due in a month if we cannot capture a wild deer."

"Good lord, this is aweful!"

"The good Lord has nothing to do with it," said the Editor. "This is the Trump Era and the dragons must be fed."

"This sounds like a terrible political metaphor."

"Political metaphors are like farting in a crowded room. Social realities must be acknowledged while the place still stinks to high heaven during which everyone denies everything. Now get back to work making the media look like it is still useful."

The Editor turned to his desk as the others completed their tasks in the converted barn which had become the new Island-Life offices after the terrible Night of Shattered Fires which had pushed the persecuted people outward from their home of many decades to wander the earth. A story that has been told before and should sound familiar and which is perhaps another metaphor.

From some barn somewhere a person started practicing the drums. From another location another person started noodling upon an electric guitar. All the night was filled with sound.

As Spring returned to stir dull roots with rain, stimulating life to erupt from the dead land, metaphors flocked on furry wings through the gathering night to bang onto window screens. This land which has been so beaten down by adversity, by fire and flood, shall live again while in the darkness drummers were sending messages to distant listeners, musicians were communicating via secret code to one another. All around the area was fraught with messages being sent from unknown senders to unknown recipients.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

MAY 12, 2019

GATHER YE ROSEBUDS WHILE YE MAY

This week, contrary to the spirit of Spring and the renewal of Life have a memento mori. This is the hand of Jessica holding the ashes of her father, Doyle McGowan, shortly before they are distributed over the Grand Canyon.

Doyle shall be sorely missed as he was a spark of life, one who seized adventure and life at every opportunity and provided reams of material for novels, stories and music by his adventures throughout his lifelong journey. At the end one has an handful of ashes, so one one might as well gallop madly across the fields with your hair flying, might as well dive down into the blue-green depths in pursuit of that shimmering prey, keep the neighbors up all night with loud lovemaking that makes the bricks shed dandruff by the vibrations.

Think about what people are going to say about you when someone holds your ashes in their hands after all is said and done. Doyle built a real estate empire out of nothing after getting out of prison for a manufactured offence that is no longer illegal. He fathered a beautiful child and he continued to adhere to the core values of the 60's. Now what have you been doing with your life all this time?

WILL YOU PLEASE REMEMBER ME

So anyway. The days have presented milder temps, softened light. Early mornings are packed with pogonip, the Ohlone word for fog. The afternoons have been bright with sunshine. The nights have been cool with the howling of coyotes approaching near dawn.

The girls still living on the Island and their exiled friends living in Silvan Acres reunited with their moms at Momma's Royal Cafe in Oaktown for the annual celebration of motherhood.

It has been 17 months since that terrible February of 2018 and the night of Shattered Fires when all that had been the Island had changed forever due to the evil actions of the Taikeff "Angry Elf" gang. Many things had happened not unlike the adventurous Game of Thrones now obsessing so many people with fantasy.

Marsha was there. So were Tipitina, Suan, and Sarah, all of whom had relocated to Silvan Acres. With them was their new friend Barbara who had always lived in the San Geronimo Valley. Rachel showed up, along with Malice Green, Latrena Brown, and Ms. Larch who was thinking of relocating to Marin, and all of them were there with their mothers save for Rachel, whose mother had passed away in 2008.

It was quite the Hen party there at the Royal Cafe with everyone talking at once and everyone getting caught up with the news.

Sarah's mother wanted to know if there were any Stores in Silvan Acres. You know so that a girl could get herself set up appropriately, but no, the San Geronimo Valley has no big box stores and it did not look like it would get them any time too soon. It had skunks and deer and coyote and raccoons but no Macy's.

This seemed a dreadful impediment to obtaining and keeping a man, as Sarah's mother saw it, but the others chimed in that there was always "going down the hill" to San Rafael where they had civilized things like salons and suppliers of fine linen and lace.

At the end of the day, all the mothers were satisfied that their children were on the right track and that the San Geronimo Valley, albeit somewhat barbarous and remote, did have potential for sophistication and marital possibilities on account of there being so many millionaires in residence in the neighborhood.

"Tell me again about the Town of Ross," Tipitinia's mother asked. "I hear the servants pay people to wax their Caddilacs!"

In the Valley, the Editor had a conversation with the neighbor, Mr. Gruffman, who was in need of a cow.

The Editor did not have a cow in his back pocket at the moment, but Mr. Gruffman felt that now was the time to clue the newcomers into a few of the differences that affected Marin County as seperate from the rest of the world.

"Come around back and meet Melisandre," said Mr. Gruffman, who turned and stumped along a ratty path bordered by wild poppies and thistle along a wall that led to a small open space.

The Editor followed the man and discovered there in that small open space a white horse, some eight hands high, with blue eyes and a knurled horn extending from its forehead about 28 inches in length.

"That is a unicorn!" said the Editor.

"I admire your perspicuity and directness of observation," said Mr. Gruffman. "That is indeed a unicorn which is found, to the best of my knowledge, nowhere but Marin County and parts of Minnesotta I have not yet explored."

"I thought you must employ a Virgin to capture a unicorn," the Editor said.

"Silly man! This is not a captured animal, but one that is free to roam at will. It comes here freely because I am an old man with no pretensions to contest, I have been through Hell and High Water, I have lost more than anyone will ever own, I have no more claim to ownership or dominance of anything, and so Melisandre is safe here with me."

"I see."

"You probably do not, but here we have an example of one thing that makes Marin County different from other places. And I am in urgent need of a cow so I must introduce you to Hubert."

"Hubert?"

"Yes, yes. Hubert. Everyone is talking about Tolkein and Game of Thrones and all this fantasy that is a distraction from the dreadful realities of mass shootings and all that comprises the execrable Donald Trump, the most detestable vermin to inhabit the White House since Richard Nixon. No one pays attention to the San Geronimo Valley because we are off the grid, so to speak. I can see that you are having troubles with Island-Life because your people are real. They have been abused, discarded, treated barbarously -- just like everyone else. Who wants to read about themselves when that is what they suffer all day long. Come along and meet Hubert and my problem."

The two of them walked around the field with Melisandre and came to a barn where Mr. Gruffman threw open the bolts and drew back a long plank to let the big doors open to reveal what was inside.

"Arrrouggheghhh!"

"Good god in heaven!" said the Editor. "You have a dragon in this barn!"

"I doubt the god in heaven had anything to do with the creation of Hubert," Mr. Gruffman said. "But here he is. All thirty feet and 1.5 tons of him. Once again I admire your ownership of statements of the obvious."

"Schnarrrrf!"

"Does he breath fire?"

"Of course not! That is a silly superstition and entirely impossible as energy consumption would be off the charts. This is a physical animal living in the real world of Marin County and it must have a cow."

"What happens if it does not have a cow?"

"Hubert starts eating people. Can you find me a cow rather soon?"

"I will see what I can do," The Editor said.

"Thank you," said Mr. Gruffman. "Welcome to Marin. We are different from other people." He then shut the barn door and the Editor returned to the offices, attended with the following offer from Mr. Gruffman.

"I see you have a readership problem. Everyone wants to see movies with flying wizards and dragons and pseudo-medieval gamesmanship with dragons and sex and ultra-violence and exotic magic. We have all that already in Marin. So I offer a unicorn and a dragon. Handle the sex and violence yourself. You just manage to get me a cow once a month and we have a deal. Capiche?"

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

APRIL 21, 2019

POPPIES! POPPIES!

Spring has arrived in California and the State flower is in bloom everywhere. This image is from the fence at the San Geronimo Church.

EID MA CLACKSHAW

So anyway, the vigorous breezes of March usher in the outrageous blooms of April. Already we have seen the fog banks announce a change in seasons and the Most Dangerous Season is upon us (see last week below).

As if cued by some hidden occult sign of the Masons, burly men with pickups and lithe women wearing sun visors and old lumberjack shirts appear in their driveways unload bags of fertilizer, soil, chemicals of dubious origin, all to return to tilling the soil in an annual ritual as predictable as the migration of monarch butterflies and the swallows at Capistrano.

Mr. Spline, the CIA operative who has been keeping tabs on the Greek Orthodox chapel next to the Mormon Temple on the hill, has become worried. As a person who considers it a patriotic duty to keep an eye on where that traitorous whistleblower Joshua is supposedly holed up and who leaves that place only to engage in highly secret stuff that would compel him to kill you if you knew about it, has pursued Security as a lifelong profession.

As an expert in security he is concerned about this Wall that the Carrot-topped One has been promoting. As every security expert knows, relying on a single hardened perimeter is a disaster waiting to . . . well, become a disaster. Nobody in their right mind in Security every relies on something so basic as a wall. You need multiple physical shells, a strong and diffused surveillance system over soft target areas, martial law extending 20 to 50 miles from the border, standing shoot on sight orders, a corps of trusted plainclothes IDS police on 24 x 7 alert, and continuous and vigorous roundup of suspicious persons for processing in suitable cleansing centers away from media scrutiny.

That would be a reasonable start, Mr. Spline thinks.

But Mr. Spline does not see any movement in that direction, only a desire and he sighs. The problem with politicians is that they seldom go far enough. Mr. Spline envisions an America that is totally controlled and terrorism impossible because the Right People control everything.

Barbara is a 6th level Tunt in the Maccab Corporation, working on the 11th floor of 101 California. She has recently been promoted and so she is feeling pretty good as she rides home on the Caltrans bus to her home in Silvan Acres. As with any corporate promotion there are risks and there are benefits. The main benefit, besides more money is a good helping of responsibility and greater visibility to VIPs. The downside is the possibility that her head might explode. That happened to her predecessor, who had slacked a bit on reporting and been caught making un-positive comments. So right there beside the water cooler his head exploded and Facilities had come and clean it up.

Once you sign on with Maccab as an Exempt they own you and everybody knew that.

There was some speculation as to whether that proprietorship extended to family members. Jason Tilde had shirked going to the Family Picnic and then the Family Founder's Day Banquet and it was right there in line at the cafeteria that his head exploded. The line crew had to replace the entire lasagna tray and the soups on account of the mess.

Barbara got off the bus and walked up the way to her in-law apartment where she greeted her cat John Galt with relief. Wifi coverage was terrible in the valley and she somehow felt that the tracking microchip implanted in her skull worked less or not at all.

In the offices of Island-Life the Editor scanned the week's news and shook his head. How on earth could he write about anything when the world was so crazy and people took crazy ideas with utter seriousness. He stood on the deck out back under the half-moon with his hands clasped behind his back, his cigar clamped in his jaws.

Deer moved carefully through the foliage. The natural world continued, indifferent to the follies of Man.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

APRIL 14, 2019

TANGLED UP IN BLUE

This week we have a shot of the outside of the San Geronimo Pre-School.

NEW TIMES! NEW TIMES! NEW, NEW NEW TIMES!

It seems very likely that Measure A will pass, given the County ROV numbers as of Friday.

The Alameda Country Registrar of Voters posted updated results from the April 9 special election on Thursday, April 11.

It shows "yes" votes for Measure A still has a sizable lead, but the gap did shrink slightly. Currently 10,732 voted their approval of Measure A's passage as of Friday, April 12. There are currently 9,614 "no" votes. "Yes" votes account for 52.75 percent of the votes that have been tallied. "No" votes have just 47.25 percent of the vote. In the previous update on April 10, "yes" votes had 53.36 percent of the 14,241 votes tallied.

Measure B's continues to look like a long shot after the recent update. Currently, 56.12 percent of voters (11,304) chose to vote against the measure's passage. Just 43.88 percent (8,838) chose to vote "yes" on Measure B. In the previous update 43.61 percent voted for Measure B.

Less than half of the 48,793 registered Alameda voters had been tallied. The passage of Measure A will allow Alameda Point Collaborative to move forward with its plans to develop the Alameda Wellness Center, a facility for medically fragile Alameda County seniors who lack housing.

Now this measure brought to light an host of issues blocking effective tackling of the homeless problems in all the ABAG regions. The virulence of people opposed to Measure A displayed a harsh NIMBYism that is prevalent everywhere. Everyone wants a solution to homelessness, but nobody wants to take on the responsiblity for action because getting the homeless into places to live means these homeless will then be living among us in stable environments.

It is headbanging why people think keeping people living in sidwalk tents, being eyesores, defecating in the streets, raving madly with insanity in public, and fostering the drug trade is better than putting those same people in housing units in or near the same location but defecating in toilets and being overseen by supervisors skilled in stopping prostitution and drugs and handling mental illness. But that is the way people are.

People do not always choose the sane path -- just look at Donald Trump.

Another look at the benefits to the land use that the APC intends reveals that no traffic stats will be seriously impacted. Homeless mentally ill seniors do not drive cars, so such a residency. So the Island will get a facility that will bring jobs, do seriously good work, partially resolve the homeless problem and still not contribute to traffic congestion.

We note that the residence on Lincoln near the Tibetan temple has caused no problems in the area, and we are surprised nobody has looked at where such plans have already been implemented on the Island to see the effects.

In Marin we hear complaints about potential "low income housing" coming in and to tell the truth, people who oppose such projects do not have a leg to stand on. Marin has poor people, it has mentally ill, and it has homeless people and pretending they do not exist is numbskull ludicrous and savagely cruel as well as obnoxiously indifferent to surrounding counties who really dislike Marin foisting its problems onto them.

Berkeley and Oakland have large homeless encampments and these are due largely to neighboring municipalities practicing that NIMBYism.

WOKE UP DREAMING I WAS GONNA DIE

So anyway. The torrential monsoons have given way to drier weather with skies mottled with dabs of cloud and cool air that occasionally becomes warm when the sun hits for a time. The nights hover around 47 degrees and the morning fogs dissipate quickly.

We are seeing golden poppies bursting out during this early Spring. Everyone talks about the cherry blossoms in DC, that wierd city east of Chicago, but we have an entire cherry blossom orchard in Mariner Square Village blooming madly each year over acres of parkinglot. It is not something special we go to a special place to gawk at; it is part of our daily lives. How parched must be the lives of Washingtonians who do not have this every day of the year while we enjoy live music from multiple venues all over our metropolitan area, birds of paradise blooming in the most remote corners, scads of golden poppies, tulips and gladiolas and yard after yard of extraordinary roses that have yet to erupt amid the abutilon and bluebells.

Spring is the most dangerous season.

Yes, Spring is the most dangerous season. Maybe it is different in other places, but here, wise men remain indoors and order pizza for dinner, hunker down by the TV to watch endless reruns of Monster Truck Destruction and Terminator I, II, III and IV. It's safer cuddled there in the dark lit only by the blackout curtain blocked TV set glow.

Bees dive-bombing the clover, hummingbirds bayoneting the jasmine that keeps throwing out punches this way and that while sending wafts of chemical weapons of mass disruption. Army ants on the march in great phalanxes and squirrels conducting reconnaissance forays add to the mayhem, while raccoons begin nightly raids. The daisy bush bursts with yellow ack-ack blooms while the poppies erupt with tiny explosions across the fields. Squadrons of swallows swooping and diving, ducks performing sorties, Canadian geese streaking overhead in formation and then, worst of all, there are the girls in their summer dresses.

Meanwhile, somewhere overhead, flying in stealth mode -- that naked, blindfolded, fat boy keeps firing off at random his erring arrows of wanton mishap, those IEDs (Improvised Erotic Designs), wreaking chaos in a wide swath more terrifying that Sherman's March to the Sea. Squadrons of women and girls swelling with fatal charms stroll on patrol, their smooth lithe legs flashing beneath their uniforms: thin summer dresses, haltertops, daisy-dukes, and god knows what else underneath that armor. If anything. It's all agitprop left to the imagination.

Save us all from Spring's violent terrors.

Observe Johnnie, happy and carefree as a lark, striding with ruddy cheeks and full confidence. But after him comes Jane, armed with those sharpshooter eyes, that flippy short skirt, and strappy high heels. Now Johnnie is down! His face wan and his appetite poor, his breath coming out in ragged gasps as Jane cradles his head among the wildly blooming, victorious daisies. Right in the heart, poor lad. A goner for sure.

Yes, Spring is the most dangerous Season.

A while ago Denby went back East for a wedding and went down to ask the Front Desk where was a good place to hear music and was rewarded with the comment, "Is the room radio not working? Are you talking about going to a disco?"

"No," Denby corrected. "I mean live music. Live bands with live people in them. Not canned music."

"I dunno. I suppose you have to drive to Georgetown where they have a university and maybe there they have clubs and things like that."

"There is no music in this county at all? You have to drive to another city?"

"Sir I am afraid I cannot help you. Next . . . !"

Poor, impoverished people. They have cherry blossoms once a year and no idea about music to enrich their lives.

Yet it is Spring and Mr. Twicket has engaged an army of laborers to clean up the grounds and prepare the roses. He has some annoying problems with electrical lighting in the house which the electrictian has told him needs to be addressed, but the cost seems exhorbitant for that kind of thing which does not beautify the landscape.

John Gaack saw Milton leave his car in the parkinglot of the Costco to go shopping. Gaack snarled and tried the door of Milton's car, finding it unlocked and reached into to shove the air condition temp controls all lthe way to hot. He then closed the door and went in with his two ugly daughters to get some things for the house and keep an eye on Milton, whom he detested for no other reason than Milton came from Alameda and did not Play the Game, the game in which the Gaack family and similar families were entitled to all that floated into their comfortable mouths.

Jason Arrabiata stepped up to deliver another sermon in Silvan Acres at his new CFSM chapel, a charming one-room shed surrounded by willow trees.

These families are the Grumpies of San Anselmo, but every town has Grumpies just like the Gaacks. Whenever something goes wrong or modern life interposes some new harsh reality, it is always the people from somewhere else at fault.

"Ramen!" said the congregation.

Let us pity the Grumpies, so self-entited and never destined for true happiness, Jason preached. They came here long ago to kill the Natives and steal their land and although they have gained the title rights to Paradise, they shall not enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven.

"Ramen!"

Let us now join in the Lord's Prayer and then eat heartily and drink lustily.

"Ramen!"

Our pasta, who art in a colander, draining be your noodles.
Thy noodle come, Thy sauce be yum,
on top some grated Parmesan.
Give us this day our garlic bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trample on our lawns.
And lead us not into vegetarianism, but deliver us some pizza,
for thine is the meatball, the noodle, and the sauce,
forever and ever. RAmen.

"Ramen!"

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

APRIL 7, 2019

BOYS OF SUMMER

Few images are more iconic than scenes like this played out across America in Spring. Here we have the Little Leaguers, not a one above three feet in height, gathering for the annual ritual at Warner Field in Woodacre.


WE PRINT ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

Preliminary election results from the Special Election in Alameda show Measure A passing and Measure B failing by slim margins. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, there were 7599 "Yes" votes for Measure A, garnering 53.36 percent of the vote. "No" votes were 6642, or 46.64 percent.

For Measure B, the tally was 7956 "No", or 56.39 percent of the vote. "Yes" votes were 6152 or 43.61 percent.

The contentious election has pitted present and former elected officials against one another, and sparked a social media battle between supporters for each side.

Voters are deciding the fate of vacant former federal offices on a 3.65-acre parcel on McKay Avenue across from Crab Cove. Measure A calls for a $40 million project to convert the property, which is near Robert Crown Memorial State Beach, into 90 units of senior permanent supportive housing, a 50-bed respite center for homeless adults and a daytime resource center for seniors.

Measure B would declare the land to be open space.

The election has been typical of many efforts to handle the many-headed hydra of homelessness, aging population, and the rental crisis, which has all the NIMBYS pitted against activists and lawmakers trying to hack through a gordian knot of problems. The Island is one place where you hear people decrying efforts to create affordable housing because affordable housing will bring in people that the NIMBYS find icky.

Meanwhile Oaktown admins are getting really peeved at all the surrounding municipalities shoving homeless populations and other problems onto their doorstep by NIMBYS and officials only too willing to kick the can down the road to stay elected. Meanwhile Alameda has stuck to absurd resolutions like what happened along the Bayside shore which has been made ridiculous, impossible to navigate, dangerous for pedestrians and car traffic and a general fiasco with concrete barriers and confusing green paint that are more reminiscent of the old East\West Berlin divide than a passageway. The whole thing from Washington Park to the breakwater has been turned into a congested, urbanized, Manhattanized wreck. Correct that: Manhattan is better organized for high volume traffic. The current arrangement is just citified stupid. You want to rub our noses in the fact that we are a densely packed city? Ok fine.

APRIL IS THE CRUELEST MONTH

So anyway. March really sucked around here. Several Island-Lifers died. The Chief reporter contracted pneumonia and nearly went over the pearly gates himself. Work has been insane with impossible people demanding impossible things. Issues have been slow to get out because of these and other problems.

So anyway again. The rains have stopped and the days have been overcast but largely dry with winds whipping through the trees and tossing cars here and there on the freeway. People have been out and about under the sometimes sun-streaming lanes while the creeks of Silvan Acres continue to burble with water wealth.

Traffic on San Pablo was halted in the early morning as a covey of wild turkey's strutted across the road from greenery in the Albany district.

People have been stopping by the Herrick campus of Alta Bates to photograph the magnificent cherry blossom tree there on the corner of Milvia and Dwight.

News has it that Trump has not passed any new legislation since in office, that most of his early supporters are in jail or facing indictment, that most of his grand plans to shove obnoxious orders on the Nation have been shunted aside, and that even the GOP is beginning to see the light about this ne'er do well. And we hear they have cherry blossoms turning in DC as well.

Among the hillocks of snow, there are dips and divots at the bottom of which bright color is beginning to show. Whorls of yellow and red and green shoots. You look into these pits and you can see activity involving color. Young men are starting to stare at the rear ends of young women as they pass in their yoga pants. Yes, something is going on down there.

Yes there are signs that things are about to change. As bad as he is, Trump cannot go on forever, and there will be an end to his particular brand of lunacy.

Back at the Homestead John C. Smelling was marching around his property wearing a bright red Maggot hat, making sure no one parked on his side of the road and also the opposite side, which his family had claimed some time ago. Curious odors come from that side of the road, a sort of rotten smell, and the Smellings are extremely defensive about protecting what they see as parking rights. John was spraying Roundup on all the weeds sprouting on the edges of his large parking platform while his son, Charles, worked off his personal demons by firing up the chainsaw and destroying things made of wood. Chrissie Felling, his mother, came out with her hair all disarranged and James could see she was in a state again.

"I just want everyone to know the National Observatory is at it again. They are sending microwaves into people's brains." Her blouse was buttoned up wrong and her left foot sported a sock with stripes while the other displayed black polka dots.

"All right ma," Charles said. A flurry of wood chips sailed in all directions.

"I am talking with my attorney, just so you know. Everyone is against me, but I have important friends. I know everything that is going on."

"All right ma."

Chrissie spotted a lizard and went over to stamp it dead, shouting, "I know you are spying on me! All of you creatures, talking with your lizard tongues!"

Down the hill Missy Moonbeam returned from her job as a barista in San Rafael as the sun set behind the valley ridgeline. She took off all of her clothes, lit some sandalwood incense before sitting in meditation. At the end of her meditation she put on a Kate Wolf CD and went into the yard to dance as the moon rose above the trees.

Jason Arrabiatta, CFSM was walking by with Denby who commented on how crazy Marin was.

"Denby there are two kinds of crazy," Jason said.

"You are going to deliver another preacher sermon, aren't you?" Denby said.

"Yes I am. Because I am a preacher and it is good for your soul. Now listen up. There are two kinds of crazy in this world. There is the harmless, gentle kind like the guy who believes he is Jesus Christ, Elon Musk, and this Missy dancing over there. They do not hurt anybody and often they have jobs useful to society. Then there are the sociopaths, psychopaths and true dangerous nut cases that hurt people, like Hannibal Lecter, Richard Speck, most Nazis, the Angry Elf kingpin, and Donald Trump. Be sure to keep them seperate for I am quite concerned and worried as well as afraid of so-called normal people who pretend rationality. Those people are just as dangerous as John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy. They will rationalize everything to death, including you and me. Just look at Standard Oil and Exxon."

"Most profound words." Denby said. "Ramen."

"People say I am crazy because I profess a belief in the Flying Spahetti Monster, but my God never inspired a Crusade, never burned witches at the stake, never held an Inquisition, and never allowed rationalization of cruelty in His name. Besides my heaven features a volcano that spouts beer."

"Spring! It is Spring!" Missy said and did a grande jete across the yard.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

MARCH 30, 2019

TIPTOE THROUGH THE TULIPS

Here they are, with crocuses the harbingers of Spring.


WINTER IS THE CURTAIN, BUT SPRING TAKES THE BOW

So anyway. The Editor sat with a box on the floor and his bottle of Glenfiddich on the table with a glass and a pitcher of ice. The box contained the culled photographs, proofs, negatives and slides from Chad's lifetime of photography. The Editor had driven the ancient Volvo down to the Island to sort through the last effects of his website designer who had suffered a massive heart attack three weeks ago, while his widow moved through the scene that the Editor had seen many times before. The Editor was an old soldier and death was a familiar acquaintance.

The Widow moved aimlessly among the scattered detritus of a man's life, each movement generating a different sort of new pain. The ornate urn of ashes there next to the wooden Buddha. Useless wires, bookshelves, lamps, end-tables, objets de arts, books, paintings, and loads upon loads of photographs done by a man who had practiced art photography for years with his own b/w darkroom. There were thousands upon thousands of images taken from 1962 onwards.

Here a photo of a painting, but without attribution. There, a picture of a wharf in Boston or Philadelphia. Trees and foliage from anywhere - the man had travelled across the country and to Scotland and Tahiti where apparantly he had done scuba diving. There were pictures of that, too.

All the slides and negatives were unmarked and without dates save for a series of negatives and proofs of art nudes marked Roberta, 1982.

Where was Roberta now and what did she look like now when those images had captured her in the bloom of twenty-something youth more than thirty years ago? What was the meaning of her standing on a table in a cluttered room, naked and holding a wind chime?

Outside the windows of the new Island-Life newsroom that had yet to dry from wood preservative and rehab, the air had turned soft with the suggestion of Spring. The Japanese plum trees were blooming as were the cherry blossoms. Tulips and irises had announced that life would return to this earth so savaged by indifferent drones seeking money.

You can thrust Nature out with a pitchfork, but it always come roaring back.

Pictures of people of people, old and young, babies and elderly. Pictures of people at street faires and happenings, concerts and festivals. All of whom by now had led entire lifetimes of their own. In some rare cases he had composed indices, which were as densely useless as hierogrphics composed in long forgotten languages. Ken and Esther/ kitchen (harsh sun) 1982. Bill Bodie. smiling dog / coffee house/ - 1982. Gene Oldfield w/ renegade robots 1981. hippotomous / . girrafe. cassovaries/ Sacto City zoo 1982.

It was an entire life, but the key which had provided reference meaning had left the stage and was not going to return. The Editor found it impossible to infuse any of this with a sense of order or meaning. Each image now belonged to the world of public knowledge, without reference as if presented to an alzheimer's patient without an attached memory. That memory was now gone.

The Editor took the box out to the dumpster and dropped it in, inhaling the combined scent of refuse and of new lilacs. He then went back inside to have a drink and deal with his grief. There would be other ways to preserve memory.

But for now, the lilacs were in bloom again.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

MARCH 20, 2019

AND HER NAME IS G.L.O.R.I.A

This image says it all. And you should look up the lyrics of Gloria by Patti Smith to find the reference to the parking meter.

WE PRINT ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

You know the news already. Most of you have formed your opinions in molds of lead. Trump is either a crass, disgusting, egotistical, total shit lacking decency, truth, empathy and American values, or he is your Strongman really sticking it to the obnoxious "elitist" tree-huggers and Liberals, dousing the welfare-moms with gasoline, exalting the White Right to true justice that they deserve and showing the World that the USA is not to be pushed around.

We heard Lyndon Larouche has died. Good riddance. He and his group were asshats in drag.

The McKay Avenue property continues to be a bone of contention to some people who did not get the memo. Seems some people are endorsing Measure B in the next election out of some wierd orientation we cannot figure. The land was federal and the land will go to federal purposes that appear quite sane for the area. As in all cases, we ask that people follow the money to find out just why some entities are endorsing Measure B against sane usage that excludes private monatization in favor of high rent commodities.

TOO MANY MYTHS

So anyway. The rain let up for a bit, with grumbling skies yielding to splashes of sunshine. The Japanese plums are blossoming all over the place and the parkinglot of Mariner Square is redolent with cherry blossoms.

The night fell on St. Patrick's Day as the Supermoon arose in glory, occasionally obscured by cloudwrack. In the Old Same Place Bar Padraic and Dawn whipped up the Gaelic Coffees, which are so-called by Padraic because, according to his opinion, no "daycent lad of the auld sod" would ever concoct such a travesty upon the usce-que-bah, the Water of Life. It is known that the beverage consisting of whiskey, coffee, brown sugar, whipped cream (horrors!) and other ingredients was designed first in America and Padraic is fine with that story.

As usual, Suzie was made to wear a green miniskirt and a cap and the entire joint roistered with great enthusiasm as the jukebox cranked out Van Morrison, Luka Bloom, U2, the Pogues, Damien Rice, and the like.

All was going great and there was no fear of the Angry Elf gang showing up for all the grief they suffered in past years trying to threaten and abuse the gentle people, but it came late and a rock was thrown against the window, breaking the glass, followed by the evil ound of The Cackler as they sped off in the small time Napoleon's red Miata. This caused some dismay as Suzie and Dawn bent to work to sweep up the shattered glass and offer words of consolation and a drink on the House to Latreena Brown who got some of it in her hair.

It was then the door opened and the wind appeared. The candles blew then disappeared. The curtains flew then He appeared, saying "Don't be afraid."
It was He, the Wee Man returned again.

Then he observed the broken glass and said with a stern voice, "What's all this then?"

Padraic shook in his boots and Dawn and Suzie clutched the hems of their skirts.

"Its only a few vandals, omadhauens throwing stones," Padraic said, lapsing into his Western accent. "We are daycent folk and we're wantin' na' throuble."

"I believe you," said the Wee Man. "Carry on." He waved to Dawn and Suzie with their broom and scoop. He then strode up to the bar and climbed up upon the stool and ordered a Guinness and a shot and a Fat Tire while waiting for the Guinness to stack.

This is the proper way to order a Guinness for a Guinness is good for you and it takes time for a Guinness to properly stack in the glass when done right and proper.

When the Wee Man had his glass at last he made his pronouncements, swiping his sleeve across his frothy mustache.

What did he look like? For a start he wore a twill newsboy cap on a head of bright red hair. Red, too was his full beard and cobalt blue his eyes. He wore a green checked waistcoat which sported a gold chain that went into the side pocket and green checked pants. And on his feet a set of green suede brogans with tassels and toe tips that curled up and about in a merry way. He stood all of three feet in height.

The Wee Man downed his shot of Jamison's with satisfaction and produced a small derringer pistol which he discharged into the ceiling without so much as looking before putting the weapon away into his waistcoat. A bit of faery dust rained down and everyone remained quiet.

As to what the Wee Man really was, besides himself all day, which most of us can claim at nearly the same rate, the matter was open to speculation and never-ending discussion. Some say he came from the Spanish Armada that sank off the coast and others say he was of the legendary Firbolg that harried the ancient Romans loose from the Emerald Isle thousands of years before. Some say despite his stature he was related to the mythic giant Finn ni Cuchulain, Finn McCool, whose body extended the length of Howth, and that his apparent manifest physical size was merely a kind of trick, and some say that he was of the tribe of the Bann Sé that howl about the chimneys at night and cause the tree branches to toss about and wave by way of their long hair as they fly among the trees and so therefore a sort of faery, but with some disreputable attributions, including cigar smoking and farting.

"I have been to the Post Office," said the Wee Man.

"Not the Post Office of 1916," said Padraic.

"Nao," said the Wee Man. Well, yes I was there in 1916 and I did what I could, saving the lads from the cannons, without being able to save them from English hangman's nooses afterwards, but I mean the Post Office down the way where I recently spied a brace of omadhauens in a red Miata."

"The Angry Elf gang!" Everyone exclaimed.

"If you know about these nasty people, why do you not do anything about them?" The Wee Man said reasonably.

"We are afraid of them," people said. "And the police do nothing."

"Good people you need to learn that someone has power over you only if you give it to them. If you refuse to empower evil people, the reverse is true. And I will now show you just as I showed the Pakhistanis who once feared the powerful General Muschariff."

The Wee Man picked up the rock on the floor and threw it out of the open doorway, saying, "Come here!"

A wobbling Brian Kring wandered through the door, holding the rock and rubbing his noggin which now sported a lump, exclaiming, "G--d d---m! I was just at the Fireside Lounge!"

"Lie down!" commanded the Wee Man.

"Wahh!" And Kring was compelled to lie face down on the floor.

"And now Nasty Narita," commanded the Wee Man. He again threw the rock out the door and crooked his finger and a dazed Asian woman came through the door, holding the rock. "Lie down!" commanded the Wee Man. The woman fell heavily to the floor, scattering dozens of keys.

"My keys!" Narita shrieked. "My precious keys!"

"Yes the keys you used to sneak into poor people's apartments and rob them," said the Wee Man. "Now your power is all gone, spread across the floor."

"Now you, evil spirit of rumor, spreading lies about people and injuring reputations and spreading fear through threats," the Wee Man said. "Extortion, theft, threats, rock throwing, and destruction of reputation. Come here now, I command you!" With that, the Wee Man hurled the rock through the open door again.

Next the Cackler reeled through the door and was made to lay down on the beer-soaked tiles.

"I wish I could bring the Angry Elf here now, but he is so evil that it would be destructive," said the Wee Man. "But I assure you all that I will make him sorry."

The Wee Man then began to walk across the backs of the gang who lay there on the floor, causing much anguish.

"You who have caused so much pain to others, complaining now about my light step that serves to fix your posture," said the Wee Man, " Have only yourselves to blame. You hurt people and laughed at their pain, and so how do you feel now? Are you not sorry for your misdeeds?"

"Ow! Oww! Ow!" said Kring and the Cackler while Narita groped in vain for her keys, weeping.

The Wee Man stood with one foot on Kring and one on the Cackler with his fists balled up on his hips, looking down. O he was fierce! "I command you three to leave and never come back to bother these people again with your homegrown terrorism." He then got off of them and caused them to get up and wander out the door as the rock bounced mysteriously from one head to the other, propelling them out just as it started to rain again. Thunk, thunk, thunk, went the rock no matter how much they tried to avoid it.

"Well," said the Wee Man. "I see my work here is done for the nonce. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of the just suffereth violence, and the violent shall bear it away upon themselves."

With that the Wee Man climbed up upon a stool, clapped his hands once and there was a brilliant flash of light, followed by the room being thrust into darkness. Padraic ran to the back to flip the breakers by flashlight and the warm barlight returned. All the candles had magically relit and many gasped to peer past their waistbands.

"O for Pete's sake," said Dawn. "The Wee Man has once again transformed me knickers!"

Suzie turned very red and pressed down her skirt.

"The man's a soddin' pervert!" Padraic said. "But I am grateful he fixed the window." Indeed it was true. The broken glass had been replaced.

Knowing what happened each St. Patrick's day, Padraic had prepared for the eventuality and so he went to the restroom armed witih a new package of boxer shorts from Macy's, returning to drop a nearly transparent, green thong upon the bar. Pimenta Strife sidled up to the Man from Minot and said, "Wanna see what I am wearing?"

When everyone had calmed down. Suzie returned to her place behind the bar with her Anthropology book. It was a dark night on an Island that knows how to keep its secrets, but in the Old Same Place Bar there sat one bartender pondering Life's Persistent Questions. . . .

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

MARCH 10, 2019

DINER

This iconic image was snapped by Carol in the Gold Coast area off of Webster and is one of those last vestiges of Old Tyme Alameda when the streets were lined with shops that sported big neon signs like this one.

NEW TIMES! NEW TIMES! NEW, NEW, NEW TIMES!

Ok the Island is set to vote on Measure A to apportion the McKay Avenue parcel that was used and disused by the Feds via GSA to either make the place a Senior wellness center cum support services for homeless or not. Pretty much everybody with serious influence is in favor and the anti group consists of a disparate group of unfunded individuals whose argument the development would cost taxpayers is entirely erroneous.

Given that this project replaces the previous one that would have jacked the traffic situation six ways to Sunday down there, we would have to say this is a no-brainer yes.

Look, in this era of land-greed somebody is going to build something down there and there is no way of avoiding that save hand the place over to the Parks as was attempted initially. We think what would have been the best outcome. Well, that is not going to fly, so people get real with what is.

The Black Brothers will hold forth at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, Sunday, St. Patrick's Day. Brothers Michael and Shay Black play an exciting mix of Dublin street songs, music hall songs, and historical ballads, as well as songs from the Irish, English, and Scottish traditions. Singing in close harmony, telling funny stories, and even dancing occasionally, Michael and Shay draw people in with their energy, wit, and superb musicianship

It is Late Winter season, so there is a lot of chancy newnames appearing at the Fox and the Paramount in Oaktown. If you missed Black Ladysmith Mambazo at the Freight and Yoshi's, well, too bad. They are gone now. And Judy Collins is sold out, but you can still get Elvin Bishop at the end of the month and he is always worth the price of admission.


LET IT RAIN, LET IT POUR

So anyway. This past week the rain came down with a vengeance. It poured down in monsoon strength, giving us record-breaking numbers. The rain pounded Santa Cruz and it drenched Santa Rose with levels more appropriate for places like Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana. Hillsides slid down taken houses with them. Roads were obliterated. Creeks normally inches deep swelled to 8, 12, 15 feet. Chunks of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge dropped down to wreck cars, closing the entire bridge for hours.

Then it all subsided to intermittent showers, steady winds. The engineers put a steel plate into the bridge. The workers shored up the hillsides and shoved the dirt and rocks to the side to open up the roads.

Power went out of course all over the place. The Household of Marlene and Andre made do with a fire in the stone fireplace providing heat and rations of bread soup for everyone by the light of scattered candles, electric lanterns, flashlights.

On the Island, Mr. Howitzter had Dodd distribute octopus cocktail canapes by candlelight in his mansion during his annual midwinter soiree while the band sawed through a number of acoustic waltzes. At the Old Same Place Bar, Suzie and Dawn served up traditional cocktails and highballs by the light of electric hurricane lanterns. Everyone got by until the lights came back on and everyone stared at one another with astonishment in the bright new light as if they had never seen before.

The sudden light caught Pimenta Strife with her hand down inside some guy's pants.

In the Island-Life offices the Editor continued to scribble by the light of a desklamp that never went out while outside the San Geronimo Creek gurgled and plashed. The word had arrived that the Sierra snowpack was 120% above normal, and so there would be skiiing well into April this year, and another year of drought pushed away. For now.

And so the Editor continued to work, the remaining white hairs on his head flying about in an aureole.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

March 3, 2019

Issue cancelled due to illness

 

FEBRUARY 24, 2019

WHEN THE MUSIC' S OVER

This week's image is of our Chad's banjo. In the guitar case there was a frailing pick and two playing cards. No idea what significance the cards, silent relics of an untold story.

NEWS

News is Gung Hay Fat Choi for the Chinese New Year and the year of the Pig, which seems appropriate in these Trumpian\Weinstein times. Every year Mei Mei goes to the annual Chinatown Parade to see Gum Lung, the dragon, which seemed so enormous when she was so small, but with each passing year, as things changed with Mei Mei, the dragon seemed to get smaller.

Now she had children of her own and they pointed up in fear, "O the dragon is so big! So big!"

Baby Blunt is having his Emergency reviewed and somebody somewhere won an Oscar award.

FOR A DANCER

So anyway, Baby Blunt is still on a rampage about getting his wall between his property and that belonging to Brown People. Largely because he was denied during the last election of a majority supporting his enterprise and also being sued by a number of Me**Too** folks and under investigation of collaborating with the Enemies of the Island in the form of Russian Collusionists, Baby Blunt has in his own mind a State of Emergency, which generally is the last resort of tin-pot dictators who wear mirror sunglasses and epaulets.

We see how much this sort of image helped Musharrif and Idi Amin and Ghaddafi. And the Berlin Wall is a good example of how effective these things are in reality. But nevertheless, Baby Blunt wants his wall to protect his garden vegetables and in his mind he has an emergency because nobody takes him seriously and that is a problem.

Denby got let out of jail after the latest Valentine's day Massacree Disaster and headed wearily home after a long discussion with the desk sergeant who felt that Denby should stop engaging in illegal activity and doubtful circumstances every year.

Denby protested that it was not he, but the circumstances at fault all the time.

Then how is it you wound up in the women's restroom of the movie theatre without your pants that time?

That was children's bubblegum, Denby tried to explain.

Last I heard bubblegum has neither intoxicating nor aphrodesiac qualities. If it does turn out to possess such powers, please let me know and I will purchase a case. But I suspect you were under the influence by other means, so do not blame Double Bubble.

And so it went. It is impossible to prove innocence, as many a one falsely charged can attest, while guilt is easy to suppose.

Please do not come into my jail during Valentine's time or any other time for that matter, as I find you a troublesome sort and a blot upon the honor of my District. Go away and come no more, said the Sergeant.

So it was, Denby got on the bus and returned to Silvan Acres even as the rains began again to flail the sweet earth and the trees. As the bus pulled up to the willow-hung bus-stop Jose and Javier were there to greet him and give him the news about Doyle who had suffered a stroke up north at the River and was now in Napa, comotose.

The three walked in the rain without umbrellas, using only their fedoras and long coats for protection while the tree branches whipped angrily in the rough wind above them and the cold, cold pellets gathered like ravens, fell down like bombs.

In the Island-Life offices, now a converted barn in Silvan Acres because of the criminal elements that had forced everyone out, the Editor remained in the cavernous space pounded by the weather, all alone and doing his work at the desk lit by a single pool of light. It was mostly dark in that space, save for the occasional desklamp left on, the occasional computer screensaver flickering in the dark pool of shadows. All around hung the muttering curtains of night, while beyond this pale, beyond the circle of dark, somewhere out there gleamed the spirit of a like mind.

At one time he had imagined he had found such a spirit in the flesh, but now that light was extinguished forever. Departed, leaving behind some website code, a banjo and a guitar once held by a founding member of the Jefferson Airplane to add distinction to its humble trash guiltar origins.

Now we hear talk of yet another of the Karass leaving this life.

And what the hell is all this talk about bubblegum and Denby's pants? Ribald comedy interrupts our grief.

Maybe that is the way is should be. Our grief and our trouble is just hysterically funny to other people who take comfort in our pain.

That is just the way it is. That is just the way it has always been and playground bullies have always been there and succeeded in the end.

We have only ourselves and our sense of humanity as sword and shield against those dark forces that burn crosses.

Gum Lung grows and shrinks with our age, always pursuing that glowing, fiery ball down through all the corridors of Time. Perhaps the Dragon, too, pursues Company in all the thousands of years of chasing that evasive sphere. What would happen if the Dragon would catch that sphere and become one with it?

In the cold space of the Island-life offices, the Editor sat in the pool of light shed by the single desklamp, his white hair flying about his head in a corolla, searching and doing all for Company.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

FEBRUARY 17, 2019

SHOCK THE MONKEY

The recent storms have caused havoc on many streets. Here is a shot of where powerlines were brought low in Woodacre.

This Global Climate Change has consequences, as some of us understand.

PINK MOON

So anyway. This Valentine's day proved to be no different than all the others for members of Marlene and Andre's household.

But before we get into that romantic stuff, all the latest flap in Silly Hall was about Baby Blunt's hissy fit over not getting his wall approved. For those of you just catching up, Baby Blunt owns a big construction company and was set to block City Hall's entrance with a couple of his five ton loader rigs.

These rigs are all bigger than anything you have seen on the Teevee program Highway Through Hell. Blunt was going to set down a series of concrete freeway dividers in addition so as to totally block government, but Silly Council came through -- for once -- and all voted to keep the government open, especially as the entrance is shared with the Police Department and we couldn't have no Baby Blunt, no matter how rich and famous and all those things, blocking the Police and Officer O'Madhauen was right on it, for obstructing the passage of official police cars was all kinds of mean, nasty, lawbreaking kinds of things and if Blunt dared become a perpetrator of such heinous anti-traffic statutes, he was gonna make darn sure this alleged perpetrator of all kinds of mean, nasty kinds of things would be hauled off into a tiny, dark room in the newly re-aquired jail where Blunt would be interrogated, irrigated, dissipated, irradiated, syncopated, and further remediated by a number of Boys in Blue who like to play with Babys like Mr. Blunt.

Yes, they have ways of making bad boys behave. And we call that all Supreme Justice.

So Baby Blunt acted as mature as he always does. He pitched a fit, rolling on the ground, screaming, crying and shaking his rattle at the sky in the most severe of anguish that he wanted his wall so bad the original reason for the Wall had gotten lost in all the tantrums and screaming and accusations.

So Baby Blunt, most mature and adult-like, swiped the treasure-chest savings that were supposed to go to the Crossing Guard Program, claiming, that because he was President of Protection and Discourse, as well as General of Bums, he had the legal right to do so on account of it being a Declared State of Emergency.

And the State of Emergency was that for the first time in History a lot of people united and said NO to Baby Blunt for once.

This, of course, stimulated a legal furor of Olympic proportions, which Baby Blunt enjoys, for he has always done well by chaos and disorder, even though the majority of people do not.

So now we have armies of attornies arrayed in lines of battle over Baby Blunt's declaration of Emergency. Which makes us wonder, just when did this Emergency begin? For it was not referenced at the start of the man's Presidency. It only seems to have become important after the Midterm elections.

Ponder that timing, will you.

As for what is happening along McKay Avenue, we can say that good intentions will not prevail, for the entire progress as been one of irrational greed and pumping more people down that narrow strait than the physical environment can support. Every plan has been like that and the current one is no exception. The region is infected with landgreed fever and that spit is not unaffected. Yes, we can see what you are doing and we can see it still from afar.

Meanwhile, in the San Geronimo Valley, the cold front set in to make the nights stiff with frost. The House residents huddled close in the decrepit buildings there as the rains and hail pounded the acres. Power went out and creeks flooded over the roads. The winds flung huge branches down.

In such an isolated place and in such weather, Denby felt confident and assured that this year would pass with no contretemps upon the dreaded V-day that so many others adore.

That night he went out with the gang to the Saloon where a band played old school blues and everyone had a few beers and all was groovy because the place was filled with Blues and good music and the band was good and everyone was having a good time and Denby danced mostly with Marsha from New Jersey, save for a few rounds with a willow-haired gal from Lagunitas, whose name turned out to be, unsurpisingly, Willow. There was no Trouble anywhere to be seen at all. Then everyone went back home after last call and everything was fine until a rude light shone in Denby's eyes before dawn.

Turned out he was under arrest for consorting with somebody under the Me-too-movement and there was nothing to be done about it. Until it all got cleared up.

In the San Rafael jail, Denby looked up at the moonlight of the new Snow Moon streaming through and asked just why this sort of thing always happened to him and god answered, because Denby, I really love you.

Thanks alot, Denby said.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

 

FEBRUARY 10, 2019

DEER ON THE PARKWAY

When you are at loss for a headline foto, there are always images of deer creeping around the place.


HE WAS A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE

This is one of the more difficult issues to write. Life is a vale of tears, full of suffering with only the the scant consolation that it does not go on forever. There is a guaranteed end to all of this, and that is all the guarantee we get. Not even Reincarnation is a guaranteed delivery.

When the body fails while the soul and mind are still in drive, we call that Tragedy, as in the case of Stephen Hawking during his lifetime. When the body fails entirely, halting the mind and allowing the soul to leave the body, we call that Finality, which is Death. After that, there is no going forward; we have only memories.

As of a few hours ago, Chad Chadwick, our in-house web developer and friend of many decades passed away due to a massive heart attack.

The legacy left by his work on Island-Life shall remain preserved for years to come; his personal touch remains on every page and is stamped in many lines of code and we are going to make sure his legacy remains preserved for years to come on the Internet.

We first worked together in a dark place underneath the freeway overpasses in San Francisco in the late 1980's. On the steps of that hardware supplier to contractors Chad attempted to teach us how to play the banjo.

Chad had always been a sharp and astute observer of events from the 1960's onward. He played music in livingroom sessions with founders of the Jefferson Airplane and soon became disillusioned with the music industry's lack of soul. He often had sharp words for Paul Kantner, with whom we attempted briefly a late rapprochement that collapsed due to the distances created between Fame and Normality. Chad felt that Kantner had unfairly stolen his girlfriend at the time.

A multi-instrumentalist, Chad could play banjo, guitar, harmonica and sing quite capably before his lung disease. While I would tune a guitar with a modern electronic tuner, he would call out the pitch on the dot with each adjustment. "Too sharp! Okay . . . a hair flat. . . Bingo! Aye natural!"

Chad was no stranger to this disjunct between Fame and the ocean of average-ness. His grandfather, Charles Nordhoff, wrote the book called Mutiny on the Bounty, that became made into a rather famous movie.

Nordhoff had three daughters and two sons with a half-Danish Titian wife named Christianne Tua Tearae Schmidt, sometimes referred to by the Titian word for "woman", Vahine. After the 2nd son died shortly after childbirth, Nordhoff divorced Vahine and either married or took as a mistress with whom he had three sons.

Marguerite moved eventually to the US, married John Chadwick, and had six children, with one child dying before birth.

Chad lived through the damaged generation that was the 60's and emerged with an acerbic, biting view of life, politics, culture, and American Life that was vividly presented with his savage commentary on the way things are -- the horrific and inevitable consequences of horrific, inhumane policies expressed domestically and abroad the consequences of which we see clearly played out in the present day, including a range of obscenities ranging from what happened to Victor Jara to Trump's porno bimbos.

We met in the late 1980's when both of us worked as slavey's for a contractor hardware-supply company called MacMurray Pacific underneath the freeway overpass at 7th street in San Francisco. There across the street from the 7th Street City Jail where the hookers kept in cells overnight were let out onto the street in the early morning, dressed in red negligee's and high heels, Chad attempted to teach us the banjo.

He had many stories of growing up in Sacramento and moving to San Francisco during the Hippie Era. Although not a Hippie exactly, for he always believed in working for a living, he embodied many of the best ideals of the Sixties Counterculture movements. He quickly realized the world was not going to change save by incremental bits as represented by individuals doing their small bit parts on behalf of peace, kindness and sanity. Other than tobacco and booze, he refrained from hard drugs after seeing what that stuff could do to people. Demonstrations were fine things, but the real work was done by each person acting morally responsible with and to other people around them. Not surprisingly Kurt Vonnegut was a favorite author.

For several years we lost touch until in the late 1990's we arranged for a visit at his lodgings and were shocked to see this once hale and hearty man hooked up to oxygen tanks.

After his diagnosis of COPD and attendant emphysema, Chad retreated from the world, attached to it by the narrow lifeline of the Internet, while still attempting to get out with the help of friends to public arenas.

Chad fought with the heart of a warrior of peace against the effects of his disease. He told us he had dreams of running, running uphill for miles and miles.

He suffered much as his COPD progressed, until he could not leave the house without an oxygen tank. Inside the house, he had to remain hooked to a machine that delivered air to his lungs 24 hours a day. Nevertheless, he remained feisty and pugnacious, challenging ignorant Internet trolls on message boards, posting acid comments on Facebook, and remaining continuously on tap with local as well as national news by way of all the outlets the Internet can provide.

Although he could be severe on self-maintained ignorance and outright boorishness, Chad also preserved the 60's ethic of love for all those who do not bully others. He was possessed of a kind heart that put him in the Aristocracy of the Heart, a level way above most of us who have to play catch-up with someone so magnanimous, so emotionally generous. He found beauty in the most obscure of places in people who had a hard time finding the beauty in themselves.

Well he is out of it now. We lost a great heart and a great soul filled with wisdom. His suffering is now over and now the pain is left to the survivors. Sisters Shannon and Tina both passed away last year, leaving Shelly of who we can find not a trace. As far as we know , Chad is the last of the direct line engendered by the author of the Mutiny on the Bounty save for grandchildren.

Chad is survived by his loving wife, Tammy Chadwick, who lives in Alameda.

As said in the beginning, Life is a vale of tears, full of sorrow and suffering. There is no escape from suffering, not even for Donald Trump; it may be that your time has not yet arrived, or you are particularly obtuse and unobservant -- these things do happen and probably so for Der Donald. Generally those people who have no feelings at all are called Sociopaths.

Again, there is some comfort, a scant comfort at that, there is an end to all of this. The suffering does not go on forever. And now Chad no longer suffers. He is gone and we remain with fond memories of having known him and the legacy left by his work on the Island-life web code shall persist for years.

LET IT RAIN LET IT POUR

So anyway, the rain fell and nourished the sweet earth these past few days. All the hillsides trickled with incidental rivulets that had been dry cuts for years until now and down south people reported snow upon the Santa Cruz mountains.

A kind of concrete rain fell upon the sad Richmond-San Rafael Bridge that was built so long ago as an afterthought with sparse funding and enforced deadlines by tight-assed managers demanding last-minute results from overworked underlings who had always been pushed to the limit even before the project had been initiated. The result is a limp, failure-prone structure that crumbles over time and the result stands before our eyes as an example of bad management.

On the day that the bridge was closed last week, Pahrump turned his scooter around and headed back through the stalled traffic, postponing a provisions run for the Household. Stores and suppliers so bad in Marin that Pahrump was compelled to head over to the East Bay to fetch basic necessities for the House on his scooter, meant that vital necessities would have to be delayed until he could cross again.

Meanwhile I.N.Eptitood contractors spent two days putting in flower plants around the sign in Fairfax for the Rhino gas station, although everyone in their right mind avoided the station for any sort of service other than gas, for the place had a bad reputation for extremely bad service on anything resembling a gas powered internal combustible engine.

Skateboards and bicycles they could fix well enough. Lawnmowers, perhaps. Cars, not so much. With cars they had big problems understanding things like carburetion, exhaust, ignition and spark. Otherwise they were fine, those boys.

The night fell from scattered clouds to another night of frost. The Editor sat at his desk as the Nation prepared for yet another snitty Government shutdown, initiated by the Baby in Chief who wanted his Wall and would have no truck about it.

Unfortunately, there was a great deal about which to write and so little time. He had thought on taking this small-town gig he would be compressed to find things about which to write and found that in the reality there were too few hours in the day to cover it all.

Now, night had fallen and all around the glassed cubicle the muttering voices, the gazing eyes.. Beyond all that, somewhere out in the darkness a like mind. Recently he had lost one of his own and so now was even more alone without Chadwick, his coder.

But somehow Nohow On. Out there must exist a like mind and all was toward unified contemplation. Union with another Creator. Perhaps the One. The Editor persisted in his meditation. Stripping all intervention between himself and Him. Doing all for Company.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

 

FEBRUARY 3, 2019

BABYLON

 

Here is an image of Babylon shot from the verdant hills of Marin. Such a metropolis and so far away.


WE PRINT ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

Heard the LII something Pooper Soul was to take place. None of us own TeeVees and so much of the Ballyhoo was overblown, as it usually is regardless.
Heard that NE with tom brady vs. LA rams was the ticket.

In more important news, we note that Tracy K. Smith is the current Poet Laureate Consultant to the US. She is currently serving as the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States, an office she assumed in 2017. She was nominated for an unprecedented 2nd term in 2018. She has published four collections of poetry, winning the Pulitzer Prize for her 2011 volume Life on Mars.

In his review of the collection, Joel Brouwer also quoted at length from this poem, writing that "for Smith the abyss seems as much a space of possibility as of oblivion:"

Perhaps the great error is believing we’re alone,
That the others have come and gone — a momentary blip —
When all along, space might be choc-full of traffic,
Bursting at the seams with energy we neither feel
Nor see, flush against us, living, dying, deciding,
...

Dan Chiasson writes of another aspect of the collection: "The issues of power and paternalism suggest the deep ways in which this is a book about race. Smith’s deadpan title is itself racially freighted: we can’t think about one set of fifties images, of Martians and sci-fi comics, without conjuring another, of black kids in the segregated South. Those two image files are situated uncannily close to each other in the cultural cortex, but it took this book to connect them."

We look forward eagerly to who shall assume the laurel wreath for 2019.

Now what if we held a Super Bowl of Poetry? Would not that be something to celebrate and truly Make America Great Also? Well, if America really wants to be Great Also with the likes of China, which cannot conduct any sort of industrial enterprise without stealing, as it seems, or the Russian Empire, which does not seem to be able to make anything great without also stealing and blocking the advance of foreigners in a sort of native Californian style,

Dweeb report on weather - Pineapple express coming in lead by a cold front that is the mother of all cold fronts.

LAND OF THE BOTTOM LINE

So anyway. The Pooper Soul LIII happened. Somebody won, the unpopular guy at the prom, we guess by all the noise.

Oh well. Somebody had to win for somebody to lose or vice versa. Thats the way it goes.

A few dockwallopers set in this past week to drench the Island and environs, causing all activities to hustle indoors. The Old Same Place Bar has been a-bustle with Padraic and Dawn serving up those famous Gaelic Coffees, infused with Jameson's and other mysterious ingredients, while the busstop midway around the circle has seen Reverend Inquist and Pastor Danyluk and Rebbi Mendelnusse collecting for confabs on the failings of the faithful and the difficulties of the clergy in times like these, fraught with lunatic Creationists and Anti-Scientists selling false pardons to Global Warming Parties as was done in the old Medieval days of ignorance and deceit called The Dark Ages.

Mr. "Baby" Blunt was made to unblock the City Hall government by more mature adults, but he is still threatening to do the same again if he does not get his "beautiful wall", installed and paid for by his neighbors, whom he detests.

A number of people have been talking about this wall and commenting that building a wall around an Island seems really foolish and stupid and a waste of tax dollars better spent on running the government that after the blockade now everybody realizes is terribly necessary.

This realization has caused the Radical Right some concern, for their main issue was that less government is better and now people have realized they need more govenment, not less after doing without much of it for 36 days.

It all sucked while Baby Blunt had his tantrum and so now people know that goverment workers actually do something for the money.

To oversimplify, if you want a toilet when you go to the seashore, you need to pay for it. You want someone to rush in and defend the coastline with something like the Coast Guard when the Chinese invade, you gotta pay for it. Nobody gonna risk their lives for your sorry ass for free.

Meanwhile, a cold front is coming in to superchill the Bay Area that is not used to frozen temperatures.

Nevermind that the Midwest just got itself unstuck from minus 40 degrees.

Clearly, the climate has gone wacko and we hope you Bushian denialists, and other climate-denialists are enjoying the weather now caused by carbon emissions, all repleate with floods, fires, and freezes, because there will be political repercussions come Spring. Yes, you Assholes.Yes, you, who will be remembered.

The recent storms swept the San Geronimo Valley undisturbed. All the trees that were to fall, did fall in the last storm, and the heavy branches still held above the powerlines. Toto had a tumor removed from one of his anal glands and so he ran about in the rain with a swollen, red butt, pooping at will and pissing as usual upon the usual suspects, save for he wore for the nonce a plastic cone that prevented him disturbing his stitches. This resulted in some bonking upon the walls where he was used to sniff, but otherwise he was fine.

In the Offices of Island Life, now become Silvan Acres, the Editor arranged his papers. Stories about Toto were placed here in this corner, and stories about San Geronimo Presbyterian were placed in this other corner and stories about the rain and floods and the creeks were placed here . . .

The Editor realized that because of the expectation of weather and its unruliness, all was left in a state of stasis. Not much could happen until all this weather was done with, for anything could happen at any time due to rain and flood. And after a season, anything could happen due to fire and drought.

What can one do in such times save persist and go on.

“I don’t know: perhaps it’s a dream, all a dream. (That would surprise me.) I’ll wake, in the silence, and never sleep again. (It will be I?) Or dream (dream again), dream of a silence, a dream silence, full of murmurs (I don’t know, that’s all words), never wake (all words, there’s nothing else).

You must go on, that’s all I know.

They’re going to stop, I know that well: I can feel it. They’re going to abandon me. It will be the silence, for a moment (a good few moments). Or it will be mine? The lasting one, that didn’t last, that still lasts? It will be I?

You must go on.

I can’t go on.

You must go on.

I’ll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any - until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it’s done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story. (That would surprise me, if it opens.)

It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am? I don’t know, I’ll never know: in the silence you don’t know.

"You must go on.

I can’t go on.

I’ll go on.”

The Editor sits at his table in the Offices after all the staff have gone home and the cold rain beats now upon the saggy roof and tired windowpanes.

His desk is lit by the pool of a single desklamp and the dim light of the monitor in front of him. A notepad sits to the left and a mouse sits below that on the keyboard platform that extends from the old cherrywood desk that once was a schooldesk in Iowa in the late 1800's.

Tonight he does all for Company. As usual. Nohow on, ill seen, ill said. A voice comes to one in the dark . . . Imagine.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

FEBRUARY 17, 2019

SHOCK THE MONKEY

The recent storms have caused havoc on many streets. Here is a shot of where powerlines were brought low in Woodacre.

This Global Climate Change has consequences, as some of us understand.

PINK MOON

So anyway. This Valentine's day proved to be no different than all the others for members of Marlene and Andre's household.

But before we get into that romantic stuff, all the latest flap in Silly Hall was about Baby Blunt's hissy fit over not getting his wall approved. For those of you just catching up, Baby Blunt owns a big construction company and was set to block City Hall's entrance with a couple of his five ton loader rigs.

These rigs are all bigger than anything you have seen on the Teevee program Highway Through Hell. Blunt was going to set down a series of concrete freeway dividers in addition so as to totally block government, but Silly Council came through -- for once -- and all voted to keep the government open, especially as the entrance is shared with the Police Department and we couldn't have no Baby Blunt, no matter how rich and famous and all those things, blocking the Police and Officer O'Madhauen was right on it, for obstructing the passage of official police cars was all kinds of mean, nasty, lawbreaking kinds of things and if Blunt dared become a perpetrator of such heinous anti-traffic statutes, he was gonna make darn sure this alleged perpetrator of all kinds of mean, nasty kinds of things would be hauled off into a tiny, dark room in the newly re-aquired jail where Blunt would be interrogated, irrigated, dissipated, irradiated, syncopated, and further remediated by a number of Boys in Blue who like to play with Babys like Mr. Blunt.

Yes, they have ways of making bad boys behave. And we call that all Supreme Justice.

So Baby Blunt acted as mature as he always does. He pitched a fit, rolling on the ground, screaming, crying and shaking his rattle at the sky in the most severe of anguish that he wanted his wall so bad the original reason for the Wall had gotten lost in all the tantrums and screaming and accusations.

So Baby Blunt, most mature and adult-like, swiped the treasure-chest savings that were supposed to go to the Crossing Guard Program, claiming, that because he was President of Protection and Discourse, as well as General of Bums, he had the legal right to do so on account of it being a Declared State of Emergency.

And the State of Emergency was that for the first time in History a lot of people united and said NO to Baby Blunt for once.

This, of course, stimulated a legal furor of Olympic proportions, which Baby Blunt enjoys, for he has always done well by chaos and disorder, even though the majority of people do not.

So now we have armies of attornies arrayed in lines of battle over Baby Blunt's declaration of Emergency. Which makes us wonder, just when did this Emergency begin? For it was not referenced at the start of the man's Presidency. It only seems to have become important after the Midterm elections.

Ponder that timing, will you.

As for what is happening along McKay Avenue, we can say that good intentions will not prevail, for the entire progress as been one of irrational greed and pumping more people down that narrow strait than the physical environment can support. Every plan has been like that and the current one is no exception. The region is infected with landgreed fever and that spit is not unaffected. Yes, we can see what you are doing and we can see it still from afar.

Meanwhile, in the San Geronimo Valley, the cold front set in to make the nights stiff with frost. The House residents huddled close in the decrepit buildings there as the rains and hail pounded the acres. Power went out and creeks flooded over the roads. The winds flung huge branches down.

In such an isolated place and in such weather, Denby felt confident and assured that this year would pass with no contretemps upon the dreaded V-day that so many others adore.

That night he went out with the gang to the Saloon where a band played old school blues and everyone had a few beers and all was groovy because the place was filled with Blues and good music and the band was good and everyone was having a good time and Denby danced mostly with Marsha from New Jersey, save for a few rounds with a willow-haired gal from Lagunitas. Then everyone went back home after last call and everything was fine until a rude light shone in Denby's eyes before dawn.

Turned out he was under arrest for consorting with somebody under the Me-Too-movement and there was nothing to be done about it. Until it all got cleared up.

In the San Rafael jail, Denby looked up at the moonlight of the new Snow Moon streaming through and asked just why this sort of thing always happened to him and god answered, because Denby, I really love you.

Thanks alot, Denby said.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JANUARY 27, 2019

EASY RIDER

Marin can be pretty strange at times, and sometimes in a good way. It has a lot of strange things in it, and one strange thing is the bicycle museum in Fairfax where this 8-foot high item sits in the parking lot. Every weekend this area teems with packs of bicyclists taking advantage of scenic country roads and challenging hills.


LIKE THE WEATHER

Got the latest report from Howard The Dweeb, who runs a ham meteorological service from Mammoth. Seems the Sierra snowpack is 120% above normal, so the drought is done for now. He sees some storms rolling in in early February, so do not put away your impermeables quite yet. Howard also forecast some bitter cold weather for the East and Central regions. Warn your children not to put their tongues on the iron waterpump handle.

BABYLON

So anyway, "Baby" Bobby Blunt did not get his wall and was persuaded to unblock the City government parkinglot when Ms. Morales came up to him and said she needed to get into City Hall to file papers on behalf of her Teacher's Foundation for kids with special needs. Many of these kids and their caregivers were suffering because of the lack of services.

Baby Blunt, of course, summarily dismissed Ms. Morales and her tender charges, saying, "Some people may feel a little pain, but the security of this City is Paramount and in the best interest of all Islanders. We need to be strong together like wooden dowels bound around the handle of an ax to make it stronger. Suck it up buttercup. I alone can solve every problem known to man and child and dog. That is why I appreciate your wholehearted support. Not supporting me is being a Loser. Loser!"

"My children are not losers, sir. They struggle hard and with support they succeed."

"You have an accent. Are you American?"

"I was born on Mandanao in the Philippines," said Ms. Morales honestly. "But today I am as American as anyone and all of my charges were born in the US and they deserve the same protections as any citizen." Ms. Morales stood there, small with her handbag and dowdy black shoes, but yet defiant.

At this point Officer O'Madhauen made an unaccustomed intervention outside his purview of traffic enforcement, for he had listened to all that had transpired.

"Mr. Blunt I urge you to move this 3 ton grader immediately and unblock Government, or I will have it towed and dumped into the Bay, much as that distresses the Environmentalist Clan. I will then have you arrested and taken to Santa Rita where I will inform certain swarthy, biker types that you are a fellow that likes to diddle children. Get this thing out of here within an hour or else."

"You cannot do that. I am exempt, because I am the President of the Lion's Club! And President of many other things besides!"

"Mr. President, I would be honored to haul your cherry-red ass to Santa Rita, for frankly, I do not give a shit and you were elected by a minority besides. The majority will cheer as you encounter your special welcome in the Santa Rita showers. Move the grader. Now!"

The grader got moved and government on the Island was unblocked even as Baby Blunt shouted, "I can do this again if I do not get my beautiful wall!"

Meanwhile experts are looking at Blunt's plan to wall off not just his property, but the entire Island from Oaktown. Most are saying this enterprise is impossible and foolish, but Blunts, as his followers are called, insist this is the Final Solution. Others have said the racial overtones here, plus the term "Final Solution", feel uncomfortable.

Of course, Blunts and Blunt followers see no connections here and say that a little pain on the part of Little People of inconsequence is a small price to pay for Security and Missy Whitesyrup feeling safe in her bed.

Outside of the political arena, where most Americans live, like it or not, folks gathered at the end of a long working day at the Old Same Place Bar to unwind with a bump and a shot. And in a few cases, a bit more than that.

Of course there was some discussion about the Superbowl and how the Saints were robbed, robbed in full sight of everybody save the judges, but the Superbowl shall proceed, checkered and marred with objectionable detritus.

We shall see what transpires SBS, realizing that the Saints should have been there. All else is sheer masquerade. Like the rest of American politics, the Superbowl has become derelict of value. Let us rather look at women's volleyball and World Cup Soccer. The Raiders have abandoned their home city for a foreign place. For this Superbowl is a land leased out; we die pronouncing it.

Meanwhile the last week has been sunny and chill with dappled clouds over both the Island and the San Geronimo Valley. After the MLK holiday and any number of commemorations that still do not much to fix the situation going on in this country for about 400 years since Slavery, everybody went back to work, pursuing their personal lives of quiet desperation, misery, failed marriages, and sometimes momentary joy while traveling the same labyrinth channels they have pursued day after day, year after year, following that one learned path from entrance to the Place of Cheese.

The Editor, back at work after his hiatus as a tree, leaned back in his chair lit by the single desklamp and reflected that he was just like a lab rat following the same path as everyone else, only he was always looking now for the triangle lines of escape, the portholes that defied the assertion that Time is a prison.

The new Island-Life offices were more rustic than the rooms on the densely populated Island. The interior walls consisted of roughhewn boards and redwood beams. The wood floor was unpolished fir and redwood plank. Images of the time when the railway went along SFD Boulevard hung on the walls.

The Editor had lately been perusing through chronicles of the Valley and was pleased to find a rich trove of material. Time began, after the Miwok, who had occupied and taken care of the Valley for some 10,000 years had been decimated, with the Mexican Occupation. "Rafael Cacho, a military officer and friend of General Mariano Vallejo, was the first person to hold title to the San Geronimo Valley. On February 12, 1844, he was granted the 8,800-acre Rancho Cañada de San Geronimo (The Valley of Saint Jerome) by the Mexican government, in acknowledgment of his loyal service as a Mexican citizen."

And what of the railroad and of the plans to develop the place with a superhighway and interchanges and what became of the Master Plan of 1961? The place was rife with delicious History. Things had happened here. Things that reflected what America had been doing.

Renewed with vigor the Editor bent to the task of uncovering the history of Silvan Acres and the San Geronimo Valley.

Out beyond the shroud of darkness the eyes of various creatures gleamed, but inside he was alone, a man working diligently by the light of the desklamp. Outside there may be a like intelligence, somewhere remote and abstracted, some entity longing for contact, while for now he operated in a vacuum of soul. Somewhere out there beyond the dark curtains of night there was a like soul.

But for now, all he did, he did for Company.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JANUARY 20, 2019

DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

This week's image is of a dumpster sitting in the lot of the County Fire Department in Woodacre and is a poignant memento mori with xmas trees. Woodacre FD is the main call center for Marin and also is the place where a lot of the heavy equipment for the County is housed.

The song "Day after Christmas" by Matthew West begins as follows:

Here comes the letdown Christmas is over
Here comes the meltdown, there goes the cheer
But before we have a breakdown, let us remember
The light of the world is still here


CH. CH. CH. CHANGES

As you will notice the masthead has changed. This is to reflect the shift enforced by our response to illegal activity practiced by the Taikeff Gang in Alameda, which activity was not moderated, controlled, or otherwise deflected by the inadequate police force of the Island.

We are now Sylvan Acres although the primary url will remain Island-life.net and there will always be a place for Island adventures, as we retain a love for many of our characters who remain there, despite the horrible Rent Crisis.

THAT DEVIL MUSIC

So anyway, Bobby Blunt, aka to associates as "Baby Bobby", has gotten into a terrible wax with his neighbors over building a wall between his property. Baby Bobby wants a wall because the skateboarders keep cutting across the far corner to get to the Griddle out in the West End and his house has been broken into several times.

The presence White Supremacy and Dixie flags in his windows may have had something to do with the latter.

The hitch is that BB wants his neighbors to pay for the wall, a reinforced concrete construction some 20 feet high and topped with rollers and barbed wire like was employed for the Berlin Wall that was so successful back in the day.

When the City refused permits for such construction (a neighbor called Building and Planning, who sent inspector Chuck Schaefer) Bobby acted as mature as he usually does when frustrated. He threw a tantrum and began rolling on the ground and then parked his 3 ton grader across the entrance to the City Hall parkinglot, thus obstructing City Government and trapping Councilperson Nancy Pelotron's car inside the lot.

The Police Department did what they usually do, they booted the offending vehicle when they found there was no tow truck available that could move the thing and Officer Popinjay went to speak with the man.

"Now Bobby, please stop blocking the Government," said the officer.

"I WANT MY WALL AND I AM PREPARED TO BLOCK GOVERNMENT FOR MONTHS. FOR YEARS EVEN! AND FURTHERMORE I AM GOING TO HOLD MY BREATH UNTIL I TURN BLUE!"

"Hold your breath, I do not care, but people are suffering. Mrs. Grimoire cannot get to the restroom. We can't get equipment to tow this thing for a week; all the big haulers are up in Butte County right now."

"I AM THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN SOLVE ALL THE PROBLEMS. I WANT MY BIG BEAUTIFUL WALL AND I WANT IT NOW. THOSE MEXICANS CAN PAY FOR IT, TOO!"

"I was born in this country, as was my father," Mr. Oliveira said. "And my grandfather came from Venezuela, not Mexico."

"SAME DIFFERENCE!", shouted Baby Bobby.

"Ahhh, tu ese loco y sucio!" said Mr. Oliveira.

And so it went, degenerating into an atavistic melee of recriminations and epithets until Officer Popinjay stomped away in disgust.

On the weekend before Martin Luther King's birthday, Pahrump and Little Adam planned to take a walk up White's Hill, but the heavens opened up and they took the bus to Fairfax where the Scoop had opened up after the holidays. The Scoop had been serving home-made ice cream since the 1960's under the paper mache cow and it was the best ice cream in the entire Bay Area. There were only a few customers on that cold, rainy day, so Pahrump and Adam sat inside and ate their lavendar mint ice cream while watching people hurry by in the period downpours.

"You remember that Brother, Mr. King?" Adam asked Pahrump.

"'deed I do," Pahrump said. "Those were mighty days."

"What was he like?"

Pahrump thought for a bit, licking his spoon.

"Well, he was a hero who did not want to be a hero. He was a man of god, but not a man of doctrine. He led millions, but avoided pride. And I am afraid we shall not see his like again."

"He do much for your people?"

"Who? People on the Rez? Pyramid Lake?"

"All the Indians."

"My friend, anybody who speaks out against injustice and in the name of love speaks for all men, all peoples. Red, Black, White and Yellow. Nobody is free until the last slave walks in the sun."

And so the two sat there, the Native American and the young Black man, watching as all the White people rushed by outside the windows.

On the Island there was a Block Party held on Grand Street and everybody came except for Mr. Howitzer who ordered Dodd to close drapes as Mrs. Stinson stepped to the middle of the road where the yellow lines were and shook the hand of Luther, owner of the Pampered Pup, for it was symbolic in that each remembered back in the day when a Black was not allowed to cross Grand Street to the East End. If anyone did so, if only to go to the Paramount for a movie, the police would collect them and bring them back to the West End. And so it had been for years until the days of the Civil Rights Movement and Rev. Martin Luther King.

The surviving members of the band The Monkey Spankers kicked up and Luther danced in the street with Jacqueline until another rain squall hit and the children scattered around them like multicolored petals from a flower bouquet to the tents. Yes there is much work still to be done, but much work had been done already and at the cost of much blood. Much by a man who had been afraid of death, but not afraid of becoming a martyr.

...

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 


JANUARY 6, 2019

LET IT RAIN, LET IT POUR, LET IT RAIN A WHOLE LOT MORE

The rains have returned to the Golden State, as some people have noticed. Howard reported two feet of powder at Mammoth from the more recent storm and more on the way.

This shot is of the bridgeway to the Ross Valley Fire Department in San Anselmo. During the summer months this creek runs about six inches deep at the most and there is over 12-15 feet of clearance from the bottom to the top of the banks there.

WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

Well it has been twenty years since we began this minor enterprise. Over twenty years of Island Life issues written each week, 52 issues a year, each issue containing concert reviews, perusals of the newspapers of the world, multimedia wretchedness, reportage on fires, rental crisis, halloween decorations, local politics, disastrous web design featuring hideously bad floating radios, and Poodleshoot satires.

Probably if any of us had figured out how to do this thing properly, we would have retired long ago, but, no, we are still figuring things out. Each issue, retained, is a micro-slice of What is Going On around here, and so when we look back, we see we have a bit of Bay Area history preserved. As well as some national items. The search for Weapons of Mass Doo Doo, in the form of Poodle excrement in Newark, seems pointed and relevant in terms of the collection of political lies which have cost all of us so much in real life.

Our motto comes from the plaque that still adorns the Berlin synagogue that was located in former East Berlin: "Never Forget."

As we march with sadly sure and inevitable steps towards another totalitarianism of peculularly American flavor, hearing talk of imposed State of Emergency actions that we have seen enacted in so many totalitarian states in the past, it remains up to some of us to preserve some memory of when things were fresh and green and full of hope and Democracy was not a foolish word stretched this way and that by those who insist the nation is a Republic and NOTHING ELSE.

We should have retired our tired old bones long ago, but now in this dangerous age it seems to us to be all that more important to carry on the momentum of dissent, of real freedom concepts, of true non-slavish patriotism and a love of Country not bound to ideology like staves around the handle of an ax.

The Editor attended a holiday party where editors of the National Lampoon and Harvard Magazine were there talking about their collaboration called American Bystander, an illustrated magazine devoid of advertising. It is a challenging work and worthy of checking out. When we see such things in production, we have some hope for the generations to come that will inherit the products of our misguided dementias, such as that clown with the comb-over now infesting the White House with his twittering.

There may be hope for the American experiment yet.

NOTHING CHANGES ON NEW YEARS DAY

So anyway, Pastor Nyquist dropped in on Father Danyluk as part of what has become an interdenominational tradition for NYE. Several years ago the two had struck up aquaintance during their respective sermon walks, for the Father had been in the habit of strolling the block clockwise, starting from the door of the rectory, and in so doing cogitate the themes to be discussed on the next Sermon. The Pastor of the Lutheran church had taken, as was his nature, to walking from his door kitty corner the Catholic rectory, anticlockwise and so the two were bound to meet at least once a week for at least a few moments.

It was in that year of torrential rains in which the umbrellas of both men of the cloth had failed and they had taken refuge together underneath the bustop overhang that the two had developed their deep friendship.

The two gentlemen of the Cloth sat and sipped brandy culled from the extensive Catholic cellars while discussing, politely, issues of transubstantiation, divinity, saints and sainthood, whether the clippings gathered by the barber of Christ should be sanctified, if found, and other things all groovy and important to men of spiritual occupation.

Ms. Morales and Mr. Sanchez shared a quiet bottle of champagne in their 2nd floor flat on Santa Clara as the pop bottles went fizz and exploded. Sgt Rumsbum marched around the premises at the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles to make sure no one went up on the roof and as soon as he retired a number of residents promptly went up there at midnight to look at all the fireworks going off down the estuary to San Leandro.

The Old Same Place Bar was rocking with canned music from the jukebox, on account of Denby having left town along with most of the members of the Monkey Spankers band. Suzie wore a miniskirt with spangles and a cute sort of hat and blew streamers at the stroke of midnight with good grace while the new TV over the bar displayed the ball falling in Times Square.

Percy was there with Madeleine, who wore a hat, shoes and a faux mink stole in deference to the chilly season, but she removed the stole seductively to the tune of "You can Keep your Hat on," as the bar was rather warm and Pimenta Strife took the opportunity to grab several male crotches, eventually seizing upon one belonging to one of the Depuglia brothers, so as to infuse the New Year with sufficient spritz should that the champagne provided fail to enliven with bubbles alone.

Lionel dropped in on Jaqueline at her salon and invited her out to the Embers for dinner and some music there, and so the two star-crossed lovers managed to enjoy one another's company after Maeve energetically facilitated the arrangements before heading out to the Old Same Place Bar, where she had a long tete a tete with the Man from Minot.

Up in the north counties, where many of our old friends had taken refuge after the Night of Shattered Fires, the New Year passed quietly and with little noise. Exhuberent noise is frowned upon in Marin, as is wanton parking at will. Marin is like that.

Members of the Household gathered at Constance's place in Lagunitas where candles were lit in a ceremony celebrating the long advance of the days from the longest night through the Solstice to the return of the light. Recent deaths were recalled and recent births celebrated for when one door closes another opens and that is the way of the world. Survivors of recent cancer diagnosis and fire destruction also were celebrated, for we have also the persistence of memory and continuing life.

Occasional Quentin played with the dogs and Marlene played with the children and Andre brought his guitar and there was music and life in that place in the north woods and Denby talked about walking in darkness due to the Angry Elf gang and this new entering into the land of light and hope as new births were announced. And folks had returned to the land of their origins to pursue new families, new origins. And so there was additional hope and joy.

And so it was up in the North Counties of the Bay Area.

Down on the Island in the rectory of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint, Sister Perspecacious came into the room where the fire was become embers and laid blankets upon the snoozing forms of Pastor Nyquist and Father Danyluk, as in years past and so turned out the light as the old year fled into the shadows as the New Year ticked steadily towards the long distant dawn and the two old friends, supposed ideological enemies, snoring within a few feet of one another.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds through Fairfax and over White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

 

DECEMBER 30, 2018

WANDER THIS WORLD

Final image for 2018 comes from Carol Balding Taylor who is an artist living in the Gold Coast area of the Island. She has been doing a photographic series called "Walking Crab Cove" and this is one of her stills.

WHATS GOING ON

Government is half shut down due to a petulant baby manchild, which is par for the course during the Trump Error. People have been collecting Area Closed signs as keepsakes and historical mememtos, thinking this sort of thing should become a rarity. As long as the GOP remains demented, we shall see this happen again, this we assure you. Like Climate change, no shift in politics or demographics will cause this to change on its own.

Around the Bay, most businesses practicing common sense have shut down during the holiday period with Xmas on a Tuesday followed by New Year's Day on a Tuesday, but some of us must soldier in to work on the Monday and the Wednesday following. Only good thing about that is the traffic is become reasonable for a brief space, and the bosses, for the most part, are off in Tenerife, checking their email on the beach.

If you do not have your NYE gig by now, have fun at home watching the ball drop.

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

So anyway. As this demented year sprils to a close the Editor, newly restored to his position in the relocated offices of Island-Life is wrapping things up. In this time friends flit from house to house to visit old friends and re-establish connections made solid over the years by way of marriages and births and graduations and bar mitzvahs and deaths and all sorts of dealings besides. It is a time of reconnection around here.

It has been twenty years since Island-Life launched its tiny bark on the ferocious seas of the Internet. Along the way we have encountered sea changes in historical perspective. In 1998 the most memorable events concerned the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton due to his affair with Monica Lewinsky, and violent turmoil in the fragments of former Yugoslavia between Croats and Slavs.

Along the way we have seen two Presidents appointed to the job by a minority of people and seen both behave badly. We have seen the Island become increasingly uninhabitable due to the rental crisis. We have seen the Golden State beset by terrible disasters of fire. We have seen Administrations come and go, each dissatisfying the People equally in measure. And we have seen along with shameful lapses of courage by public officials, great efforts by couragous private Californians in defense of their lives and the lives of others. We have seen and reported on great change over the course of 20 years since 1998.

Since then we have reported local events and world events along a parodic vein and because of that there are some who would say what we do is all silly nonsense.

Ask Mr. Kashoggi if what he did was silly nonsense.

2019 will mark a significant number of watershed dates for world and American commemorations. It seems only yesterday that 1969 and 1949 passed as years of significance. We hope to be there with you as you remember D-Day and the last Summer of Love in the coming months.

In the crowded Household of Marlene and Andre, snores and wheezes drifted through the chill air as the main room was lit by the fading Cold Moon that was full on the 22nd.

Snarfling and snuffling, a creature appeared in the fireplace from the chimney flue to examine the dark forms huddled in sleeping bags around the place. This, clearly, was not a place to set up shop, so the creature ascended up the flue and came out on top of the house from the vent to scamper along the rooftree and find another avenue to pursue so as to establish a marsupial family.

The fogs crept through the vales of the San Geronimo Valley and residents retreated to their homes and hearths and lights were dimmed. Night crept in on silent paws and circled around the houses to lay down heavy with darkness over the windows. No sirens rent the night and no one was shot and no one was stabbed. It was a quiet night in the San Geronimo Valley. And the following day would be the last day of the terrible year that was 2018.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

 

 

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