Welcome to the 19th year of this weekly column that's updated fifty-two times a year, on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, depending on how well the booze holds out. If you've got any news, clues or rumors to share from around the Bay, or the world, feel free to send them to Editor@Island-Life.net or use the envelope in the masthead. For previous issues, including 2016, visit the Archives.
JANUARY 8, 2016
THE TREES THEY DO GROW HIGH
This week's photo comes from a correspondent in far distant Austin, Texas, and is an image that evokes our own Oaktown oak. Thanks to Chris Benjamin, who for family reasons is a frequent visitor here to the Bay Area.
LIKE THE WEATHER
A fierce dockwalloper has set in this Friday and continues now with gusts of up to 50 MPH and lashings of rain. Many streets and underpasses are flooded and Marin is suffering through the consequences of many unpruned trees, which have been falling in every district. San Anselmo, which remembers well the massive flood that wrecked downtown in the 80's, had emergency crews out with rescue boats on the ready, keeping in mind that last week's storm brought the creek up to 15.5 feet, a hair below 16 foot flood stage.
Power outages rolled through Larkspur, San Anselmo, and Woodacre, which endured an outage of some 10 hours due to downed power lines. some parts of Woodacre remain without power 24 hours later. A casual ramble along any street in Marin reveals trees badly needing pruning away from powerlines on every block. Kindness to trees means protecting them from man-made structures, and it does look like somebody has been seriously lacking in this department.
CMP says Humbolt Ave from Scenic Ave to Foothill Rd, as well as all of Foothill closed due to tree and power lines down. PG&E on scene.
Woodside Court closed due to pole and lines down in street. No ETA to open.
Sir Francis Drake Blvd at Broadmoor Ave traffic lights are out. Warning tape on the southside indicated fallen tree branches and danger areas.
In Larkspur: 100 block Nellen Ave at Lucky Drive closed due to flooding.
A roving reporter said a tree crew was out on The Alameda off Butterfield sawing up a tree that fell on power lines in San Anselmo.
Forecasters say that this weather pattern will persist through the week, swelling creeks and downing old trees, impacting powerlines everywhere for a while. Howard Schecter reported that snow was expected at elevation (Saturday) followed by rain and then snow again. This is not especially good for our drought prognosis, as we want solid avalanches of snow with freezing temps continuing for weeks on end, while Howard is seeing freezing and melting patterns variable by elevation.
Sorry to say this is not enough to end the drought, as we are as of this point only 1% above normal in a catch-up year that is to make up for the preceding dry six years.
LOVE IS LIKE A THUNDERSTORM
So anyway. The new year has begun and President Frumpy the Clown has already caused furor with his security detail, his snide comments to foreign presidents, and even his appointment of inauguration officials. We do not care that he loves Russians; just do not press the Red Button, Donald. This is not a casino and there is no collection for the House at the end. Besides, most of your casinos were economic failures. You are not planning to run the Economy like one of your Casinos, are you Donald? Donald? Donald? Donald!
What is one to Do with a President for whom nobody voted. He got the Presidency by some kind of trick that seems to involve games and not the majority of the People, but go figure. We will never claim to understand politics.
In other news, some Americans continued to pursued false news stories about Clinton that claimed Clinton was running a sex ring out of a pizza parlor. Pizza orders in New Jersey and Nebraska have skyrocketed since the false news story was released.
Steve Bannon was discovered naked in a hot tub with several pre-teen girls and a pig from Fauquire County, VA recently during a drug raid, but news media remains too ashamed after their recent poor performance to research anything meaningful. Bannon was let off by Washington DC police with a warning not to be seen bathing naked with underage pigs ever again within the District.
Bannon's press secretary released a statement that said Bannon has never had anything to do with pigs, certainly not ones under the age of consent and besides the man is half Jewish, so pork is out of the question to begin with and it's all a Liberal conspiracy.
In the offices of the Official Island Poodleshoot there remained some fallout from last Thanksgiving when a terrier was blasted instead of a poodle by shotgun and apparently laid upon the barbee in entire contravention of the Official Rules.
"You say people actually ATE someone's PET!" shouted Sam Frederick, who was an official scorekeeper.
"Well, we only ate a little bit. He was kinda tough," Carlos said.
"You are sick and perverted," Sam said. "You gotta be punished for that offense!"
"He wasn't so bad with a lot of A1 sauce and horseradish," one of Carlos' star witnesses said. Which comment did not help the cause for Carlos in the slightest.
"I guess this means no sex tonight," Carlos said, which might not have been the most politic thing to say as he and Sam had been cohabiting for a while.
"Take a cold shower," Sam said. "And pay $1000 to the clerk. And I think its time somebody did the dishes, took out the trash and cleaned up the yard."
Down at the Old Same Place Bar, things were moving along after the end of the dreadful election season. People were talking about 'Bama, the Crimson Tide, actually getting into a Championship with some hope of success, which meant that the Blood Moon had arrived, the 4 Horsemen had galloped across the Great Plains, a last Trump had resounded, and the the Chicago Cubs had approached the World Serious with serious intent. If Alabama won the championship, that meant the End of Days had Come.
So then it is okay to remove Obamacare, as we all are gonna die anyway.
While icebergs the size of American States calved off of the Antarctic to threaten Soho property values, the rest of the world readied itself for yet another large nation-state to harness itself in service of fascist ideals and KKK Chief Dragons roistered in hot tubs everywhere in America that ignorance is profound. And another Cabinet appointee was discovered buggering a sheep upon the Mall before the Reflecting Pool, which meant anyone possessing a twitter account who had seen this sordid event, was taken to the Crystal City plaza and summarily executed by the Secret Service.
But we digress. In the Old Same Place, the Man from Minot held forth at great length and this is what he said: "Outside it is lashings of rain and wind and tree branches falling, but inside the brown snug each enjoys peace for a time and his cruiskeen luin which eases the mind, soothes the soul, and calms the red devils in the bed when the terrier of snarliness has seized one's privates with the vicious snout of contumely. O, the terrier of snarliness is bad indeed! But the Water of Life restores and eases the man.
"I have been around the world and seen the cities of man. I have builded houses and seen them fall upon my colleagues to my consternation and woe. I have been married five times and put six wives into the ground to my uttermost grief. I have seen kingdoms rise and fall and empires flourish and fail, but I tell you this. A pint of plain is your only man and a shot of usce que bah eases the pain of existence. Be well my friends."
And they all were paused in their thoughts, each deep into meditation upon this Sermon, for it was Sunday and outside the storm raged and who knew when their hour might come in days like this. The Crimson Tide had reached the Finals.
At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
JANUARY 1, 2017
WE'LL MET AGAIN, DON'T KNOW WHERE DON'T KNOW WHEN
We kick off the new year with an image from FB friend Kristine Jeanne and a WWII lyric from Vera Lynn.
2016 took a lot of people from us, presented us with unbelievable horrors involving savage brutality around the world, and ended with a wretched, cynical despair in the political arena that may see the end of the 400 year experiment in American Democracy.
Well enough of that. Things have not gone well for so long let us take the flip side of the Chinese orthograph for "Catastrophe", which just happens to be the same figure representing "Opportunity."
Ramble On, Just Breath, its a Restless Farewell and hope you had the Time of Your Life. It all amounts, really, to a Farewell to the Old Me, as Dar Williams would say. Welcome 2017.
WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS
Due to threats against staff-members at Island-Life the base of operations has moved to a different part of the Bay Area. After numerous potentially lethal "accidents" the IPD advised members to move, with a No Country for Old Men response similar to that of the Sheriff in the movie of that name, a man who simply gave up in the face of what the world possesses in the form of Evil.
We continue to maintain connections on the Island which was our home for over 20 years, and in the East Bay, where we lived for a good ten years before that, so we will always harbor affection for the people and places of the East Bay -- especially the people, who just might be the warmest, most down-to-earth folks on this planet. Except for the criminals of course.
Going forward, we will be devoting more time to the North Bay, including the small towns of Fairfax, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Ross, Lagunitas, Novato, and Point Reyes as well as Sonoma. Rest assured we will NOT be covering the hot-tub, sushi-bar, monied crowd but the people born and raised in these areas, who we have found to be down-to-earth, honest and decent folks as direct and plain and decent as any North Dakota farmer.
Interested? Stay tuned to this part of America.
OH, THE DASHBOARD WAS MELTED BUT WE STILL HAVE THE RADIO
So anyway, it came around to the final days of the year 2016. A dockwalloper had come and gone, sluicing out all the old detritus and knocking down a few old oaks whose time had come.
Indeed, this is the age in which the time had come for many things, and casualties would include ancient oaks and freedom. For most people life will not change as they watch the cattle cars pull away from the station, loaded with their human cargo destined for the showers and the stone soap.
Meanwhile a fellow named Jones decided to stroll along the underwater transbay tunnel and, after a diligent search was apprehended and hauled off on New Year's Eve. Not without causing some traffic problems. The tunnel is 3.5 miles long under the Bay, so if the man was seeking to evade fare expense he would have looked at quite a long walk in the dark had he succeeded. He is now looking at substantial jail time in addition to the fine attendant to interfering with a railroad.
A driver seeking to evade capture by CHP managed to flip his vehicle upside down into a Bushville homeless camp at the 27th Street offramp, crushing a couple homeless folks and rattling a couple of his female passengers before capture on NYE. This effort did not result in the man's escape as the CHP are smarter than that and the man now sits in lockdown.
On the Island, while all this tumult took place all around it, parents shuffled their kids off to bed and some households turned on the TV to watch the ball drop in Times Square.
Times Square, if you have not been there, had turned Japanese long ago with immense neon led billboards, weird videos blasted from ten story video screens, and close-packed buildings, and during events like NYE a packed throng of humanity well salted with pick pockets and roustabouts armed with brass knuckles and knives.
It has been the habit of many years for the parsonage at the Temple Emanuel and the rectory at the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint to exchange visits on alternate years on New Years Eve. This began during Father Guimon's tenure at the Catholic Basilica and the stay of Pastor Inquist. Pastors and priests come and go, but traditions and personal attachments abide. It all came about when the Priest needed decent voices for the Xmas pageant and the Pastor of the Lutheran church, eager to establish good will with his neighbor on the block, developed a hankering for the Priest's well stocked liquor cabinet.
It had been the habit of Father Guimon, a habit taken up and repeated by his successor, Father Danyluk, to take a sharp right coming out of the Rectory to begin the daily constitutional walk about the large block, always moving clockwise regardless of weather. The Lutheran Pastor Inquist had maintained a similar habit, traveling by foot according to his nature, anti-clockwise, so you see it was inevitable that the gentlemen would meet at least once a day.
It was during the last series of serious dockwallopers in the last serious rainy season -- which ought to tell you how many years ago it was -- that the two took shelter at the busstop on Santa Clara. The Priest bemoaned the lack of vocal talent among the Catholics, and the Lutheran bemoaned the lack of community fellowship among the Lutherans and the difficulty of obtaining fresh fish on an island of all places and the two bemoaned each in turn the dreadful times and the loss of poor souls to greed, hardness of heart and evil mischievousness.
Well one thing led to another and the two became friends and everyone remarked how much improved the annual pageant was that year.
This year the Lutheran and the Priest met in the Rectory to sit before the fireplace well stoked by Sister Serendipity to enjoy brandy snifters of cognac after a good meal featuring fresh sea bass caught by the Priest while discussing matters of the spirit and matters of fishing, both salt and freshwater.
"I rather like this new pope you have," Pastor Inquist said.
"O now really!" said Father Danyluk. "What can you know about that?"
"Well he's been in the news of course. After such a dreadful year of dreadful campaigning, he gave that new President elect fellow a good message about acting Christian."
"Ah well! That's nice of you. Not going to send him a message by nailing a note to his door are you?"
"Been done. Wouldn't think of it. But somebody needs to speak to him about the red shoes. They are quite over the top, you have to admit."
And so as the old, dreadful year died away, with most folks on the
Island staying home instead of whooping it up, the two holy men grew
silent, pensive and heads nodded. About twenty minutes past midnight
Sister Serendipity came around -- as she had learned to do year after
year -- and draped coverlets over each of the friends, dimmed the lights
and banked the fire, leaving the two clerics snoring in their dreams
into the new year. With midnight a came a brief fifteen minute ruckus
of crackers and shouts, which soon died away to silence. A peace settled
upon the Island, from the empty parks and the rows of gingerbread houses
to the quietly lapping waves along the shoreline. Venus burned brightly
up above the crescent moon and peacefulness reigned over all and no
sirens announced bad trouble and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.
The train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
DECEMBER 25, 2016
ALL THINGS STRANGE AND WONDERFUL
WHAT'S THE BUZZ
If you were wondering about the hubbub around 825 Taylor in the West End direction, let it be known that the 150 year old oak tree that used to grace the campus of Maya Lin Elementary was uprooted during the recent storm and now is no more. This Oak was the remainder of what had been an entire forest that spread its branches over the Island during pre-Spanish colonial days.
Hazmat hubbub in Berkeley around 7th Street on December 22nd was due to an Ammonia gas release from Bayer labs. Issue was quickly contained.
Murder, she said. You knew we could not slip by a year with things as they are and no murders on the Island. Our rate stands at about 1.33% per year, which means those left a quarter dead or more have months to go. Or we are losing a lot of midgets. Okay, all jokes aside, Donna Marie Qualls, 55, was ordered by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman to return to court on Jan. 5 to have a date scheduled for her trial after being charged with murder.
Qualls is accused of killing 73-year-old Emmanuel Emmett Christy at
her apartment in the 700 block of Buena Vista Avenue in Alameda shortly
before 10:20 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2015. Alameda police Detective Alex Keden
testified that Qualls called 911 after the shooting and told a dispatcher,
"I shot him. He's been hurting
Keden said when he went to Qualls' apartment a short time later, he found Christy lying on his right side on his bed with a gunshot wound to his left ear area. Christy was pronounced dead at the scene.
As in a lot of family disputes there is a lot of he said, she said, but this time it is all she said. Mostly, our Islanders travel over the bridges to get offed, but we cannot fault a fellow for dying in his bed, so to speak. As traffic worsens, we expect this routine will change the percentages significantly as murderers and victims find it more and more difficulte to get around and unable to afford the high rents.
California no longer has the official stamp of wierdness. Ms. J. Moos of CNN will have to look elsewhere for her coverage of the outre and the bizarre as this week comes a cropper with lunacy across the board in the Heartland.
A brief survey shows a woman in Clairsville, Ohio, really wanted some nachos. So much so, she put an ad on backpage.com offering sex for $60 and some cheesy chips. She demanded them four times during one ill-fated meetup with an undercover officer who promptly put her under arrest.
A New Jersey Police officer was under investigation for walloping a man dressed in a bunny suit who had arrived at the station to answer for an outstanding warrant. The bunny's brother caught the incident on video (of course), including the cop's delivery of at least two hearty slaps to the head. But he was so cuuuuuuute . . .
The Pasco County Sheriffs Office (Florida) is looking for some help identifying an accused robber whose unique taste in disguises even has deputies scratching their heads trying to figure out if its a man or a woman.
According to the agency, the robbery in question took place at the Holiday Gas Station, 1937 U.S. 19, around 8:30 p.m. Dec. 14. A person dressed in a military-style pilot jump suit walked into the store and told the clerk to put up her hands. The robber, who also happened to have a beard drawn on with marker, then demanded cash, an email from the sheriffs office said. The robber did not display a weapon or even imply there was one, the sheriffs office noted.
While its often recommended people stop and smell the flowers, taking time out to pet cats can lead to arrest.
At least that was the case for a Boca Raton man last week who, in the middle of fleeing police, stopped by a home, asked for water and the proceeded to lay down and play with the homeowners cats.
All that happened after the man is accused of taking $2,000 out of a friends wallet following a night of partying, according to UPI. The man then crashed a Lexus into multiple vehicles, including a cop car and a fire hydrant, before he bailed into a residential area.
At that point, both the Boca Raton and Delray Beach police departments were on his tail.
The man walked up to Candace Noonans back sliding-glass door and let himself in, saying he was a landscaper working next door. He asked her for a glass of water and she obliged, First Coast News reported.
When she returned with the water, the man was lying down on the floor,
playing with her cats.
It was odd, very odd, First Coast News quoted Noonan as saying.
When Noonans husband tried to question the man, he fled outside and tried to get away from police by diving into the Intracoastal Waterway.
The crew onboard a police boat landed the catch that resulted in an Aug. 28 trip to the Palm Beach County Jail.
Daniel Pinedo-Velapatino, 21, now faces a long list of charges, including burglary of an occupied dwelling, three counts of drug possession, three counts of assault, hit and run, and grand theft auto, among others.
The woman with the cats declined to press charges.
Alamedas beloved Tap Dancing Christmas Trees were a part of the 90th annual Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday in New York City. The locally based dance troupe has joined the parade in years past and has always been well recieved.
This past week we had only six persons put on 3-day hold at Villa Fairmont, probably because all the crazy people stayed out of the rain. We saw one cat bite injury, one DOA of natural causes, a couple peeping Toms, one child cruelty issue, and quite a lot of petty thefts and burgluries, which tends to happen at this time of year. No assaults or strong arms this time around, thank heaven or His Noodliness.
That is just some of the news from around the country as we lumber, toddle and stumble to the end of a wildly inane and hair-pulling 2016.
IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER
So anyway, the Solstice passed in the penumbra of the last Supermoon of the most dolorous year of 2016, which saw DAESS stomping all over the people of the Middle East while committing heinous atrocities, the drift around the world toward right wing extremism and in this country a resurgence of the most vile, fascist tendencies this country has ever harbored, the deaths of some 25 or more brilliant lights of earth in music and the arts, the entire Arctic circle melting into the ocean and worse besides.
Nevertheless, there remain bright spots and of course the cosmos and the universe continue to revolve. Trump and his minions may have seized power, but the sun abides.
The Solstice passed with little complaint. Terry's Wiccan coven met out at Crab Cove to celebrate the turning of the year and for this time, Eunice the Moose remained in her paddock.
Old Gaia sits there on the rickety porch of the world. Now is the time when Gaia tilts her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes towards a gaze at her son, Phoebus Apollo riding in his bright chariot as she sits and rocks ever so slowly in the ticking wicker chair, the folds of the quilted Universe draped across her lap, the rocking becoming the dance of Shiva, the creaking rails marking the ever ceaseless count of time's advance, ticking each second, each century, from the first moment of creation until that rocking chair stops at the moment of that last, terrible, motionless silence.
Some people confused by Astrological hoodoo believe in this day and age the season warms as the earth spins closer to the sun -- nothing could be further from that deception, unless it be the foolish nonsense of Mercury Retrograde, the classic illusion, for nothing moves with surer purpose than the planets.
As Gaia turns her face toward the light, her ravined face gradually warms with measured steps, deep shadow covering the valleys of her eyes, all the world warming up under rains that will welcome the Spring and life's renewal, and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment while Phoebus Apollo gallops in his low-rider at an angle to her repose, harder to see, longer by degrees in his daily journey, a sort of side-show to beat all side shows.
After the longest night of the year, the shortest day, the hours advance and second by second the light returns to the world. In the half-light of the Underworld Persephone looks up from her shattered pomegranate and waits for her time to return to her mother while above the world endures a cold season of frost upon the land.
The Annual Xmas pageant at The Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint went well, as the continued good relations between the Catholic parish and the Lutheran Parsonage continue such that talent is allowed to traverse minor boundaries and petty differences -- according to Reverend Nyquist, we all are worshipping at the same altar; it is just some people toy with more distractions than others while doing so.
Father Danyluk is of the mind that a few Lutherans in the choir always
improve things, and a few stringers of sea bass from a successful fishing
expedition is not so bad a tithe to pay so as to achieve harmony that
is both spiritual and musical.
This did not matter so much and Mrs. Cribbage became quite wobbly on her high heels until she fell into the coi pond.
Because of the long school break, Ms. Morales actually caught up with her work for the semester and she and Mr. Sanchez had cookies and tea with brandy and they fell asleep together in the easy chair, Ms. Morales in his lap all curled up while the lights of the holiday tree blinked off and on.
Over at Marlene and Andre's, Martini and the crew had gone out to find a holiday tree more than a week ago and the best they could find was a sort of haphazard, lopsided, sickly and largely barren sort of thing that had been discarded from the lot located at the Presbyterian church. They had pulled their red flexible flyer wagon around to the Unitarian lot, but those trees all were potted plants like ficus and azalea, which did not sit well with the crew for its outlandishness.
So they came around to the lot and looked with longing at the tall trees that cost a fortune of many dollars. Each emptied out their pockets and all together the crew came up with something like twelve dollars and fifteen cents and there were no trees for sale which cost anywhere near that. So with tears in their eyes they turned away from the brightly lit tree lot filled with noble firs and douglas pines and the busy man running back and forth with the saw and the plastic tape and they turned to go when Jose noticed the scraggly fellow left by the dumpster, waiting to be cut up and tossed in.
Javier stood up the tree which had lost much of its foliage and they generally agreed that something could be done with it, allowing a great deal of padding and so this tree they loaded into the flexible flyer transport to be brought back to the Household.
There the tree was placed into the washbasin tree stand and bolstered with cinder blocks and soon draped with all sorts of orniments found around the house and in the garbage and by the end of the evening the Household enjoyed a proper holiday tree, good for all occasions and all faiths.
For it is not the tree that counts, but the love that went into its decoration that matters the most.
That magical night, the opossum who had dwelled for a time in the bole of a previous tree emerged from the fireplace to snarfle around the house.
From far across the water the train wail ululated in waves from the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
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