Island Life

Vol. 20 - No. 41Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday October 14, 2018

Current Edition - Year 2018


Welcome to the 20th 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 2017, visit the Archives.


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


OCTOBER 14, 2018

EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE

This week's headline photo is a two part, double-take. On a casual stroll through the Island, CB Taylor took this picture of a stately Edwardian house in the Gold Coast area.

A closer inspection of the detail reveals someone standing at the window.

CB Taylor says, "You never know who's watching. . . .".


1,2,3,4 NOW'S THE TIME TO LEGISLATE . . .

It is all about the elections. We did a perusal of the midterm props and candidates in the different districts. Here is what we came up with along with our recommendations.

If you want to take any of this to the polls with you, you should copy and paste to notepad as trying to print right from the website will run you some 300 pages of paper.

First up, Statewide offices and Propositions.

FROM EVOLVE - (NONPROFIT NONPARTISAN GROUP)

Governor: Gavin Newsom
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty T. Yee
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond
CA State Board of Equalization: Malia Cohen

ADDITIONAL

Lt Governor: Ed Hernandez (largely because the obnoxious "Budget Watchdogs" endorse Kounalakis
Treasurer: Fiona Ma
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra (present appointee)
Insurance Commissioner: Steve Poizner
[as the Marin Independent Journal said: " “Poizner makes a persuasive case that he wants to return to the office, and there is no dispute about either his knowledge of the issues or his effectiveness when he was in the post. His tenure oversaw the arrests of more than 3,000 people for insurance fraud and savings of almost $2 billion in lower insurance rates for drivers and homeowners.”

Senator: Kevin De Leon - Frankly at 83 Feinstein should have been grooming a successor instead of seeking to hold onto power for another 6 years. But more than that, her statement that in the present political climate, once the Democrats regain majorities in the House and Senate that it will be easy to work on bipartisan, friendly Congressional efforts is frankly nonsense, an air-headed idea that has not one toe on the realm of reality. Right now the GOP sees Democrats as unreconcilable enemies and not as fellow legislators of an opposing camp of ideas.

But we are realistic enough to see that Feinstein probably will win anyway. Her seniority in the Senate does count for something.

PROPOSITIONS [discussion follows list]

PROP 1: BONDS FOR HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
YES

PROP 2:BONDS FOR HOUSING FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
YES

PROP 3: BONDS FOR WATER SUPPLY
NO - It's a boondoggle

PROP 4: CHILDREN'S HOSPITALS
NO
Funds private non-profits. Bay Guardian says NO. East Bay Times says YES. LWV says NO.

PROP 5 : ALLOWS PERSONS OVER 55 TO TRANSFER LOW PROPERTY TAX BASE TO NEWLY PURCHASED REPLACEMENT PROPERTY
NO, NO, NO. - Will cost the state and local governments progressively over time about $1 billion dollars in revenue per year. Foolish idea.

PROP 6: KIBOSH'S THE GAS TAX
NO, NO, NO. - Will cost right away $5.1 billion dollars in revenue with no way to replace the funding.

PROP 7: DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME
No endorsement. This prop actually does nothing other than make it possible for the State to decide later if it wants to end annual DST shifts. And it would be superseded anyway by Federal mandates.

PROP 8: OUTPATIENT KIDNEY DIALYSIS FEES REGULATION
NO

PROP 9: removed from ballot by Supreme Court order

PROP 10: GIVES LOCAL GOVERNMENTS THE AUTHORITY OVER RENT CONTROL IF THEY CHOOSE
YES, YES, YES - This does NOT enact Rent control anywhere. It simply grants cities the authority to enact rent control with fewer policy restrictions that were imposed by a highly pro-Big Property law called Costa-Hawkins. Does not hurt smallholders in the slightest.

PROP 11: EMERGENCY AMBULANCE EMPLOYEES BREAKS
NO - another deceptive anti-labor Proposition. See discussion

PROP 12: STANDARDS FOR CONFINING FARM ANIMALS
YES

STATE PROPOSITIONS DISCUSSION

PROP 1:(Veteran Housing Bond)-YES
There is only one person issuing only one argument against this Proposition, and his argument is that Bonds are Bad. Well, he probably would dislike another tax as well. Evolve, The League of Women Voters (LWV), the East Bay Times (EBT), the Bay Guardian, the Marin Independent Journal (MIJ) all endorse both Propositions 1 & 2.

PROP 2: (Homeless Prevention Bond)- YES
This does not siphon money from the money allocated by Prop 63, but adds funding to that measure for housing the mentally ill.

PROP 3:Water Bond - NO
Evolve and Budget Watchdogs have no position. LWV says NO.
"It is essential that California manage and develop water resources in ways that benefit the environment, and that the
environmental focus emphasizes both conservation and use-appropriate high water quality standards. However, this
bond is not the way to accomplish those goals. While the League of Women Voters of California supports the use of
long-term debt (bond measures) to finance capital projects, this measure has a number of fatal flaws, including:
- Shifting the cost for water from the end users to California taxpayers;
- Reducing state money available for other critical state programs like education, affordable housing, and
healthcare;
- Failing to provide for adequate project oversight and financial accountability."

East Bay Times also said NO.
"Proposition 3 is a classic “pay-to-play” initiative that California voters should soundly defeat on Nov. 6.

The $8.9 billion water bond package points to some serious water issues that demand the Legislature’s attention. But loading up an initiative with giveaways to special interests and local public agencies is no way for the state to conduct its business.

Voters should reject this end run around the legislative process. The backers of Prop. 3 couldn’t get the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to support the concept of another water measure when they floated the idea earlier this year. State officials knew that they had just gone to voters in June with Proposition 68, a $4.1 billion natural resources bond measure that included $1.5 billion for water projects. Fifty-seven percent of voters OK’d it. Going back to the well so soon was, and still is, asking too much.

Now, who could be against that? For starters, anyone who takes a close look at the measure and recognizes it’s a laundry list of financial handouts without the sort of legislative oversight one would expect for an $8.9 billion bond measure."

PROP 4: Children’s Hospital Bond - NO
Evolve says YES but the LWV says NO.
"While the League of Women Voters of California supports quality healthcare for all Californians, Prop 4 would use
$1.5 billion in public, general obligation bond money to support privately-owned children’s hospitals, along with
five children’s hospitals in the University of California system. State funds should not be used to support private
facilities. "

East Bay Times also said NO for the same reasons. The Howard Jarvis folks said Yes, but only because it does not threaten Prop 13 tax protections.

PROP 5: Property Tax value transfer
Of course Budget Watchdogs says YES for the obvious reasons. Anyone associated with Realtors and Developers also says YES. But the EBT says a definitive NO. So does the LWV. Here's why:

LWV
"Property taxes are the major source of funding for schools and local services. Prop 5 is a costly constitutional amendment that would reduce funds for schools and local services by $1 billion per year. In exchange for that $1 billion a year, Prop 5 would provide special tax benefits to some property owners. It does nothing to help lowincome seniors, or families struggling to find housing. Seniors already have the ability to keep their tax break when they downsize. Prop 5 drains California’s coffers of money that is essential to schools and communities."

EBT
"California voters should reject Proposition 5, a regressive measure that would provide additional property tax breaks to long-term homeowners — especially those with pricier houses — who already pay significantly lower tax bills.

The initiative would significantly expand an existing option for residents age 55 or older to transfer the taxable value of their homes to another when downsizing later in life.

The revenue loss resulting from the tax breaks could eventually cost schools and local governments about $1 billion a year, according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office. "

PROP 6: Gas tax repeal – NO

Only the Budget Watchdogs and Howard Jarvis folks are for this one. EBT says NO. So does the LWV

"California is in critical need of highway and local street repairs and maintenance, and improvements to mass transit
and transportation. Prop 6 would repeal the recently-enacted 2017 package of taxes and fees approved by the State
Legislature to fund transportation projects, amounting to a loss of $4.7 billion in annual funding. The measure would
also add a constitutional amendment requiring any fuel or diesel taxes to be approved by voters, limiting the
legislature’s ability to address California’s serious infrastructure needs. Passage of this repeal measure would have
significant negative impacts and leave our state structures vulnerable, especially during natural disasters.
Vote NO on Prop 6."

PROP 7: Year-round daylight-saving time - No, more or less

O please, are we really voting on something that might never come into play? LWV has no position. EBT is equivocal. Budget Watchdogs have no statement.

PROP 8: Kidney dialysis clinics - NO
EBT issued an equivocal No. CA Medical Association says No. Budget Watchdogs say NO. LWV says this Prop does not involve any of their stated issues so they have no recommendation. NAACP and the President of the American Nurses Association said NO. It appears that the poorly worded Proposition would hurt 83% of the existing dialysis clinics and force many to close due to reduced profit margins. We think it is a well-intentioned statute that winds up getting in the way between the physician and the patient.

PROP 10: Rent Control for the Cities - Repeal Costa-Hawkins.
The Budget Watchdogs say NO, but their argument that the Proposition puts government in control of housing is wrong and misleading.
EBT also says NO, but we go with the LWV who said
"Multiple strategies are needed to address the significant housing shortages and inequities that exist across California.
While this rent control measure offers little systemic progress, and may not result in adding new affordable housing
units, it does allow local communities to respond to the housing crisis in ways that are appropriate for each of them.
We support providing local communities with this control.
Vote YES on Prop 10."

Here is our argument in favor of Prop 10. The proposition, as written, does not enact any rent control. It simply gives the local governments the power to respond to the housing crisis each in their own way as they see fit. It basically puts the power of decision in the hands of the people in each city and takes away nothing. It does make Big Property anxious in that now they just might have a thousand battles to fight all up and down California instead of just lobbying and pressuring a handful of folks in Sacto. We think that is a good thing. It basically decentralizes decision-making, and isn't that was the New Federalism was supposed to be all about?

PROP 11:Ambulance Drivers - NO
EBT says NO. LWV has no statement. Budget Watchdogs say YES.

This one would require emergency response employees to remain continually on duty with no breaks for meals and rest. In much of NorCal, this one is moot, as ambulance services are typically provided by fire department personnel, who already must remain continuously on call and which must have fully trained EMT's on every fire truck. There is no argument against Prop 11 in the Official Voter Information Guide. Evolve has recommended NO.
Sandiegofreepress.org had this to day, citing the SF Chronicle.

"Wow. Sounds like a public safety issue. Of course, I want an ambulance driver to put down the veggie wrap and come running when my ticker gives up the ghost.

Only it’s really not that way.

The San Francisco Chronicle was the only newspaper I’m aware of in the state who saw through this faulty premise:

Californians who only see the ads for Proposition 11 may be likely to vote yes. After all, it sounds not only reasonable, but also a matter of essential public safety: to require ambulance workers to remain on call during their paid work breaks. It also would guarantee mental health benefits for emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and additional training for active shooters, terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

But, as is too often the case in the initiative process, the pitch is decidedly deceptive.

A State Supreme Court ruling in 2016 (Augustus vs. ABM Security Services) that private security guards are subject to state labor rules has California’s big private ambulance operator worried. They’d like voters to give them a blank check to fix their potential problem.

Assembly Bill 263, which passed 56-17 in June 2017 was supported by the union representing 4,000 ambulance workers. It spelled out rules saying employees could be required to monitor pagers, radios, station and alert boxes, intercoms, cell phones, and other communications devices during their breaks — and could be required to answer an emergency call.

Buried in the fine print, however, was a proviso voiding prior legal claims against companies filed by workers. So the bill died in the Senate because American Medical Response, which also happens to be the funder of Prop. 11, figured it’d be cheaper to solve this at the ballot box.

They’ve already put $3,650,000.00 down on getting this problem solved in their favor, so these must be some honkin’ bad legal claims they’re trying to bury. "

PROP 12: Less Farm Animal Confinement - YES

This measure is an upgrade to Proposition 2, passed a decade ago. It sets a standard– instead of a general aspiration–to the amount of room required for egg-laying chickens and other animals being raised for human consumption.

The Humane Society. 29 other Animal Protection Organizations, 109 Family Farms, religious leaders, and a huge number of veterinary clinics and individual vets say YES.

Evolve and EBT say YES.

Hog farmers say NO. Association of California Egg Farmers, and that National Pork Producers Council, all the folks you’d expect to oppose something impacting the businesses say NO. Budget Watchdogs do not care, however, which is unusual for them.

BUT: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Friends of Animals are also opposing Prop 12.

So what gives?

A little prying and we uncover a rats nest of internecine fighting between animal rights activists and radicals, including much bad blood between PETA and the Humane society that is more emotional than productive for both orgs and a sense of deja vu arises in the miasma that accompanies the strident self-righteousness of nonprofit do-gooders.. We are not going into details about accusations and lawsuits about racketeering among the puppy-lovers. We see the Proposition as a minor improvement in progress towards humane treatment of animals and so we leave it at that.

Okay now, this has already been a long issue. We will put forth recommendations for local races and discuss the rationale next week.

OAKLAND
City Major - Libby Schaaf

Schaaf is the only reasonable candidate in the field of 10 otherwise disappointing mayoral hopefuls. The compelling need to solve Oakland’s woes makes Abel Guillén the best pick for City Council in District 2, Charlie Michelson in District 4 and Loren Taylor in District 6.

Schaaf’s has had a tough first term: The budget mess she inherited from her predecessor. The Ghost Ship fire, which killed 36 and exposed huge deficiencies in the fire and police departments. Rapidly rising homelessness. Slightly declining, but still unacceptable, crime rates.

Slowly, Schaaf has chipped away, ending the use of one-time funds to shore up ongoing programs, replacing most of the city’s top managers and returning a sense of progress to Oakland.

While Cat Brooks is commendable in her organizing efforts on behalf of the Black Lives Matter movement we could find no trace of her understanding of big city finances and budgets. Right now, if you want to fix racial inequity you will need to be able to follow the money where it goes, especially for Oakland right now.

CITY OF ALAMEDA
City Major - Marilyn Ashcraft
City Council: Tony Daysog and Robert Matz
Dump incumbents Mayor Trish Spencer and Councilperson Jim Oddie. Spencer has been a disappointing embarrassment and Jim Oddie violated the city charter last year by improperly meddling in the hiring of a new fire chief by pressuring the city manager to select the politically powerful firefighter union’s preferred candidate.

And now he’s seeking at least $63,000 from city taxpayers to cover his legal bills for his $500- and $900-per-hour attorneys to defend him during the investigation.

Spencer has committed too many bloopers to list here, but her obstruction of reasonable plans to pay down the city debt in favor of planning for bankruptcy while seeking to expand Mayoral powers makes her not just incompetent but down right dangerous. We had high hopes for a change when Spencer was first elected. Boy were we wrong, wrong, wrong.

MARIN COUNTY RACES

MEASURE AA - TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY - YES
MEASURE JJ - TAMALPAIS HSD - YES
MEASURE W - TRANSIENT OCCUPANCY (HOTEL TAX) - Provisional YES (But holding our noses)

District Attorney - Lori Frugoli

CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE
District 2: Mike McGuire - incumbant, West Marin

CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY
District 10: Marc Levine

US REPRESENTATIVE
District 2: Jared Huffman

REGIONAL MEASURES

FF – East Bay parks tax extension – Yes

Alameda County

E – Peralta parcel tax – Yes

F – Alameda sales tax – No

K -- City of Alameda Rent Control - No

G – Peralta construction bonds – No

H – Hayward school bond – Yes

L – Albany sales tax – No

P – Berkeley tax on property sales – No

T – Hayward tax on property sales – No

X – Oakland tax on property sales – No

EE – Union City tax on property sales – No

Contra Costa County

E – Orinda $50 million school bond – Yes

H – Richmond tax on property sales – No

I – Orinda $55 million school bond – No

J – Mt. Diablo school bond – Yes

P – Pittsburg school bond – Yes

V – El Cerrito tax on property sales – No

W – Antioch sales tax – No

X – Martinez sales tax – Yes

Santa Clara County

A – Countywide sales tax extension – Yes

C – Los Altos open space – No

S – San Jose contracting – Yes

T – San Jose infrastructure bond – Yes

U – San Jose council salaries – Yes

V – San Jose housing bond – Yes

ON THIS HARVEST MOON

So anyway, even though the weather during the day has been bright blue cloudless with sunshine and all the birds singing, Saul Tinker has been weeping bitter tears. Why is Saul so sad? It is not because of the dreadful recent appointment to the Supreme Court of a foul rapist or the inane natterings of The Carrot-Topped One. No. Saul is, or was, for 40 years an appliance repairman who specialized in rehabilating old Kenmore appliances. In fact, he worked for a quarter century for an American icon of business that is about to go bankrupt.

Some companies state boldly they want employees who love technology. Saul did not just love technology. He was In Love with it.

After moving out to Silvan Acres and his official retirement, Saul kept on working as an appliance guy in the San Geronimo Valley where people distrusted Outsiders coming to fix things. "They overcharge," was the word about Outsider service people. "They don't want to come out so far and so it takes forever for them to make an appointment." "The dog does not like them." But Saul, as an official Valley resident, was trusted. He was okay. Even if he was not really Presbyterian, he was still a Valley Resident.

On the day the news broke, Saul took out his old Sears uniform and laid it out on the bed and stroked its cloth. In the garage the shelves held Craftsman dremels, crosscut and rotary saws, variable speed drills that could drill through anything. Back in the day the word was you could bring in a failed Craftsman drill nearly half a century old and have it replaced by another of equal standard at any time with no arguments from a pathetic Help Desk.

Sears, with its creaky Daddy-knows-best advertising and its inch-thick catalogues filled with everything from conservative lingerie to vacuum cleaners had been the mainstay for white picket fence folks for generations and Saul had worked on Hoovers and Kenmores with devotion, coming to love the conservative styling and the basic vanilla designs to the point he would finish a job and after scrupulously cleaning the exterior and interior finishes with detergent would caress the machines with . . . love. Yes, Saul loved each and every Kenmore appliance and even composed little songs for the ukelele in honor of the refridgerator.

Man you keep so cool
so cool
i love you
i am a cool fool for you

Signs of trouble had been appearing for years, but nobody, least of all Saul, ever imagined the giant Big Box store would go bust. For years now Kenmore appliances had been made in Korea by LG, but still the Sears patina remained on them.

Companies, just like people and the wierd law that gives them equal rights, possess lifespans. No company lives forever. And so, when Martini, who knew something about mechanicals, noticed the sad state of his neighbor, he rallied the Household and they approached Saul with the idea of Waking the Sears.

That is right. Why not hold a memorial service for a beloved Company nigh unto the time of El Dias de los Muertos?

So it was plans were made to construct an ofreta with sugar skulls and cut paper, but also including saw blades and wrenches and drill bits and little bowls of fragrant cutting oils. No one knew what a Company had ever enjoyed in terms of food, but Red Bull, pizza slices of course, and deli sandwiches seemed in order. A field trip was planned during the Oaktown Fruitvale to visit the old Sears building down there on the edge of downtown. It all grew into quite a project and many of the residents of San Geronimo Valley joined in, with many a greybeard cradling a beloved sawsall or a toaster oven and with these artifacts of Americana, they builded themselves a pyramid of Love.

It was during all of this furor, in which the pastor at San Geronimo Presbyterian felt compelled to issue a sermon on moderation in the subject of Caritas, and both Green Gulch and Spirit Rock developed homilies reminding people of the illusory nature of life, that Malia Hexnutt appeared before Saul, wearing a blue dress. Malia had been a mechanic at Berkeley's Grandma's Garage. Malia owned a seductive assortment of Makita tools and she knew how to use them and she had blowtorches no one else had in the Valley because she knew how to weld like nobody else.

These preparations grew so extensive, involving now hundreds of people, that we cannot finish the entire story at this time and so will have to continue in the next issue.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic and Dawn were getting the place ready for the costume season with lots of pumpkins and spiderwebs and of course a miniskirt for Suzie, the bartender, much to Suzie's and Dawn's displeasure.

It is the season also for the Elections and so Babar and Papoon have been appearing nightly to express the vitality of their opposing views. Babar is of the True Conservative Party and Papoon is of the Slightly Liberal Party and the two pretty much disagree on everything save for their mutual dislike of the incumbent President. Babar finds the President lacking disgression, which generally hurts the Party. Papoon finds the President lacking morals, ethics and a Soul, which is bad for the World in general.

The Man from Minot put a quarter in the jukebox and a gentle rock-a-billy waltz shuffled through the air. The Man from Minot grabbed Pimenta Strife and Luther stepped out with Jaqueline and other couples pushed the tables aside to dance as the air outside the windows grew nippy and the headlights of cars revealed the glowing shapes of orange pumpkins on stoops all up and down Lincoln Street.

It is three weeks until the last Precinct Inspector on the edge of the North American Continent calls out after 8 pm the words mandated by the Constitution, "The polls are now closed!" Until the last vote is counted, it's all talk.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded 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 cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

OCTOBER 7,2018

MY BODY'S A ZOMBIE FOR YOU

This week's headline image comes from artist Carol B. Taylor, who lives in the Gold Coast. Tis the Season. October jump-starts the longest "holiday" in the calendar for the Bay Area. The enormous spiders have crawled out to hang from the sides of houses while skeletons and spooky wraiths grasp at people passing by the entrance gates. Everywhere lines of orange pumpkins and lots of spooky decor, leading up to the magic weekend of costumes and fantasy role-playing.

DRUNK ON THE MOON

Checking the news for anything not having to do with our repulsive President or the hideousness of political endeavor these days, we came across a seasonal bit of news from the Great White North where it appears the waxwings, robins and other birds have been making a bit too much merry.

Birds in Gilbert, Minnesota, are flying into windshields, bumping into trees and looking mighty disoriented.
Police there say there's no need to worry -- the birds are just a little drunk. "It appears some birds are getting a little more 'tipsy' than normal," Gilbert Police Chief Ty Techar wrote this week in a Facebook post. Techar believes their confused state is the result of eating berries that have fermented earlier than usual due to an early frost. Due to climate change and postponed migration patterns, the birds are hanging around longer and later than usual.

Is this true? Are the birds really drunk?

Yes, said Anna Pigeon, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin's Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, who notes it's not a rare phenomenon. "It's more typical in late winter, early spring when berries that have been on branches ferment due to the yeast that's on them," Ms. Pidgeon said. (Yes, that's really her name.)

Other experts say it has more to do with migration

But Laura Erickson, author of the "National Geographic Pocket Guide to Birds of North America," said most of what people are seeing in northern Minnesota are not drunk birds at all. She said she's gotten hundreds of calls and emails from people who say they've seen birds running into cars and homes. But none of those birds, Erickson said, has been the fruit-eating kind. Instead, she said, they're yellow-rumped warblers and sparrows migrating through Minnesota. So far this fall the state is seeing an especially heavy flow of birds passing through, flying closer to the ground in search of food, she said.

"There may be some intoxicated birds up in Gilbert, but this (migration) is so widespread right now," said Erickson, who lives in Minnesota. "This is precisely the time of year when we get our peak migration of sparrows and yellow-rumped warblers."

But what about the poor drunk birds in Gilbert?

Techar, the police chief, said not to be alarmed. The birds will just sleep it off.

"There is no need to call law enforcement about these birds," he said.

LIKE A HURRICANE, THERE'S CALM IN YOUR EYES

So anyway, after a bit of refreshing rain that gave the wildland firefighters a small break, NorCal got through some high winds that left the days cloud-free and hot, while the nights dropped to the low 50's. Every day the school-busses swirl like yellow leaves along the roads lined with the early decorations for the month-long preparation for the Bay Area's finest holiday.

Over at the new Marlene and Andre Household the unspoken topic of just what will happen on the dreaded Dias de los Muertos this year hangs like spirit smoke in the rafters above everyone's heads. The Editor's brother has kept mum on the subject, shuffling papers and getting work done much too late for deadlines. Everything runs a lot looser under the new Administration which claims a Navy heritage over the Editor's strict Marine Corps discipline.

The Editor's brother is leaner, yet much softer than his predecessor, with hornrim glasses and less bark to his commands. It seems the man just does not appear as committed to the enterprise as the ex-Marine demonstrated nearly every night. The push to locate a Sister City had to lapse, of course. For one, Silvan Acres is not incorporated as a proper City, and for another, the two chief candidates have lost their sponsorship and status. Somewhere up north a town near Bear Lake, MN, languishes without marketing or a continuing story. Same for that town of daffodils and penguin, home of the Anti-SUV Proliferation Brigade located in the Midwest.

The Editor's brother takes some papers from Denby and mutters a brief "Thanks," not demonstrating any of the former enthusiasm or zest of his predecessor. One can tell his heart is not in it. Perhaps it is because his job title will always be The Editor's Brother, and he will never take full ownership of the Editor's seat. Even after many months, the masthead photos of the Staff have not changed, and the overall design has had only a few small changes. Mice run about across the bare wooden floors of the converted shotgun shack that now serves as the Island-Life Offices.

Insurance paid for a few desks, a handful of chairs, several computers, and the glass wall that separates the Editorial office from the hoi polloi.

Denby takes up his walking stick and goes out for his afternoon physical therapy walk -- his legs are recovering after having suffered broken bones inflicted by members of the Angry Elf gang -- and he thinks how things have changed. As he goes out he checks to make sure bungie cords have secured the top of the trash bin against raccoons and skunks.

Down the way, at the Silvan Acres Improvement Club (SIC), Sheltie Sport leads a class in Tantric Pilates, a new health regimen that combines yoga, aerobic exercise and unashamed self-enjoyment. Denby can see through the open doors the brightly clad women moving back and forth like a small flock of birds.

"Okay ladies!" Sheltie yells. "Work those kegels! Push and push and push . . . "!

A man passes by on a recumbent bicycle that sports a bright orange pennant fluttering from a long wire whip. A recumbent bicycle is an odd contraption in which the pilot leans back in a low seat inches from the ground with the pedal crank sitting in front of him. With the rider's head not more than 30 inches above the pavement, the contraption would not survive an hour on urban city streets.

Here the worst traffic problems are horseback riders and deer. Sure enough, as he approaches Mr. Stalwart's big house a four-point stag stands in the road looking at him about twenty feet away. Denby takes a few steps forward and the stag simply stands, looking.

It is now October and things happen with deer in the Fall. Denby has no numbers on NorCal, but Wootie Kanootie had informed him of the seasonal dangers among Cervidae up North where they kill about a thousand Canadians a year.

So Denby stands and waits and the stag does not kill him but calmly turns to walk up the stone steps between the brick columns to the yard above as if he were just another middle-class homeowner returning from a long day at the office. A couple kids bikes lay in the grass where they got thrown down before supper without any concern for theft around here.

He passes by the Market -- there is only one store in all of Silvan Acres, and it sells the usual overpriced junk food and perhaps a higher level of booze than found in all the ghetto corner stores. There is no place around for miles to get chili oil, black bean sauce, galangal, 5 spice powder, garam masala, glass noodles, lumpia, or ma ploy, but you can always get gallons of almond milk, kefir, sushi wrapped in cellophane, and a loofah.

Mr. Smelling stood out front of his house guarding his parking space with a shotgun. His truck was parked in his enormous driveway that possessed enough acreage to house half a dozen trucks, but long ago Mr. Smelling had decided that the spot across the street from him, the spot adjoining the fence belonging to Elizabeth, belonged to him by squatter's rights and he fiercely defended those rights to properly.

With a pang, Denby missed the East Bay. It was lonely here: Marinites, especially newbies, seldom talked to one another. There was no Alternative Rock or Punk. Nobody here ever had to eat dog food to stay alive. Nobody here had ever been tortured by petty Mafioso's gang or had their legs broken; and even so, nobody here knew what that other world was like and why it was so.

He came to the glade as night fell and he stood before the Editor Tree. "Any chance you coming back?" He said to the tree.

The winds which had provoked a regional Red Flag alert stirred the branches, but otherwise the tree remained silent.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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 cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

SEPTEMBER 30, 2018

Lord of the Harvest

Deep within the shadows of the greenery it lurks, getting larger and larger each day. Then, one day while culling the vegetables it reveals its gigantic nature . . .

The Giant Zucchini!

ON THIS HARVEST MOON

So anyway. Denby was out walking for his physicial therapy, with the skies gone grey and moody and the winds kicking up when a woman was standing there on the corner as a mist came down and talking on her cell phone about the extraordinary smell of moisture, not felt for many months.

In truth, the mist came down and wetted everything.

Then came another storm from down South and the sweet, sweet rain marched north and across the arid valley to the fastnesses of the mountains of California. The rain fell down upon San Jose and nourished the parched hills of Fremont and Hayward. It dappled the streets and Edwardian rooftops of the Island as it drove the dealers and the hookers and the sideshow cars into the dry safety of garages and overhangs in Oaktown, making all the avenues free of blood and danger for a brief time.

Rain fell upon the stolid and lifeless concrete of Babylon and the cold altars where the town once known as Yerba Buena had sacreficed its soul for the Mammon of Land Greed, and then onward over the unruly, mutinous avenues of Berkeley and on up to San Pablo where it marched across the Bay to Sausalito's fake marinas that once were home to Portuguese fishing fleets, Mill Valley's preciousness in imagining it was still a small lumber-town, and on upwards over San Rafael forced to face the 21st Century every day, the long snake of Sir Francis Drake with its necklace of towns that had changed over the years to become home to people entombed in violently self-embalmed retrograde red-necks and pseudo-hippies as well as people who had preserved their human decency amid a defiance that is entirely Californian.

The rain marched north over Nicasio and Rancho Olompali and saturated the region of Schell Vista, where Chief Mike Mulas came out to stand in the open engine bay to observe with his leathered, lined face, drops as they pattered down on the trees across the road. Now, he thought to himself, I can retire. The District is in good hands.

Further north, near Upper Lake, Carl stood up abruptly as he felt the drops come down to wet his shirt. The fireline began to recede as if by magic, although there had been no air support for hours. Then, he knew. "Hey Mike! It is over for the year!"

Mike threw down his pulaski and the two firemen did a mad jig in a circle as the blessed, sweet rain announced the end of fire season and all heartbreak and disaster for another year.

"Hooop-ha! Yaaa!" They shouted.

On the day before the first day of October, the California Fire Season of 2018, which had claimed several thousand homes over several counties, nearly 100 or more lives, endless heartbreak, and millions of dollars in efforts, came to an end.

On the Island, as the rain fell outside, Padraic proposed a toast to the firemen. Outside the walls of the Old Same Place Bar, the streets were wet. But all the thugs were driven indoors and the Angry Elf gang remained aloof and preservative of their clothing, for they were of the sort that considered fire a friend.

And we know Who enjoys Fire as his only friend.

In any case, the streets of the Island extended silent and peaceful. It was a quiet night on the Island and the San Geronimo Valley. For a night no sirens split the calm and no one was shot and no one got stabbed.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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 cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

SURFIN' BIRD

They climb into the trees and wait patiently for the right moment to pounce, wreaking mayhem and mischief in Silvan Acres.

Surfin' Bird was performed by the Minneapolis-based Trashmen in 1962. They performed surf music, although none of the band members had ever seen the ocean until they went on tour in 1965. The song was used as part of the soundtrack to the quirky and revolting cult film Pink Flamingos.


I HEARD THE NEWS TODAY, O BOY

We finally got Festus and the newsroom gang to get off their butts and put stuff into the Calendar, so there it is - a Marin-oriented calendar begun at last.

One of the difficulties in assembling a calendar for Marin is the extreme lack of marketing media for venues. The local weeklies do not have much, there are seldom event reviews, and many of the venues are so small that they typically sell out just being there. Much of what happens depends on word of mouth and the general (false) sense of small-town vibe. In truth, nowadays if you do not purchase tickets for Rancho Nicasio's BBQ on the lawn via the Internet well in advance, you will be confronted by Sold Out notices on arrival. The City of Mill Valley (and it IS a full-fledged city, not a town) has just Sweetwater and the Throckmorton Theatre and that is it for miles in all directions for live music on a weekend.

The established venues are only so large and cannot increase capacity easily for various reasons, so it would be nice if we redirected some foot traffic to places like Hopmonk Tavern and the Saloon in Lagunitas and got something going on here with all the talent we have dripping from the walls. There is no reason that Marin County should be a shallow backwater for live performance.

As for the Island, normally we do not slag other media for obvious errors, but this one from the otherwise sterling Alameda Sun really caught the eye with a painful fishhook on Thursdays issue.

"The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) announced that the Ron Cowan Central Bay Operations and Maintenance Facility at Alameda Point will soon begin operations. WETA broke ground for the project in September 2016 (“Ferry Facility Dedicated,” Sept. 22, 2016). The late Ron Cowan was on hand for dedication of the building that bears his name. "

Come again? The late Ron Cowan was on hand? Hovering over the crowd or stalking in zombie form from the cenotaph where he had been placed?

In any case, the article concerns the facility that displaced the harbor seals from their former anchor-out location, and which caused the environmentalists no end of distress. The harbor seals relocated and seem to be fine after a period of adjustment. As for Ron Cowan, not sure why we would want to memorialize a real estate developer who dearly wanted to destroy his hometown by every means available. Go figure.

"Last Sunday morning (09/09/18), local swimmer Craig Coombs, 57, completed a swim around the Main Island of Alameda in 7 hours and 13 minutes, shaving some 25 minutes off the previous record of 7 hours, 38 minutes and 39.5 seconds set in 1951. Coombs began his swim at 3:15 a.m. and faced some choppy waters around 4 a.m. " Alameda Sun News Feature, 09/13/18, Eric J. Kos.

The swimmer was greeted by a number of friends and fans at the shoreline. The first words he said to the group as he returned to dry land: “That was hard.”

The swim was regulated and monitored by the Marathon Swimming Federation.

57 years of age and breaking a nearly 70 year-old record. So what have you been doing in YOUR spare time lately?

Okay, we have to like the Sun for reporting stuff like that.

In the police blotter we note 12 cases of 5150 to John George Psychiatric Pavilion over the past week, about 21 cases of burglary, larceny, and grand theft, one case of reported arson, a couple battery cases, a couple assaults with deadly weapons, and one dog bite. In general a calm week with not much to report for the Island.

Maybe it is the effect of Trump's tariffs and tax breaks for the wealthy. Well, probably not....

WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS

So anyway. The buckeyes have gone sere and now heavy with toxic fruit. Along the byways of the little curb-less roads blackberry brambles are hanging heavy with red clusters. The winds have returned, along with Red Flag Warning days from the County and the distinctive smell of smoky char fills the dells all along Sir Francis Drake. For many in the now many fire zones, life has changed forever.

Al awoke at 3:30 AM to the sound of sirens, and as he lay there in his bed in northern Santa Rosa; he counted the engines -- one, two, three -- as they passed by and noted the time when the sirens stopped, indicating how close it was. Unable to sleep, with memories of his previous evacuation 1/4 mile from the Fountain Grove district still fresh, he dressed and got into his car and drove up the road toward the Sheriff roadblock where the officer informed him the fire was a localized structure fire entirely under control. Al returned home, knowing his entire life had changed. Clusters of trees were dangerous. Al went to his bed where he eventually fell asleep. But he knew that since the Santa Rosa fires, his life had forever changed. Now, he would get up at three AM and drive to locate the source and extent of any fire. And there would always be now a bag beside the door leading out to the car, now loaded with water jugs, extra clothes, and flashlights.

Life had changed for everybody and it would never be the same.

Disasters and tragedy regardless, the earth continues to revolve the seasons. The autumnal equinox arrived with a large full moon bathing everything in silver light from the cloudless sky and the crepuscular creatures reappeared with their eyes blinking in confusion, thinking that day had happened quite suddenly. Wootie Kanootie's moose herd stirred in its paddock beside the Dickson Ranch. The moose had fled the Island during the Night of Broken Fires caused by the Angry Elf gang and had swum across the Bay to land in tony Tiburon. As the people of Tiburon did not feel a herd of moose added to their property values they enjoined Chief Rene Willish to shoot them all and make them disappear. Chief Willish did not shoot the moose as she felt the Sierra Club would surely have something to say about it, not to mention the SPCA, which is a powerful political force in Marin County. So she looked up Moose Tamer in the Google app and found Wootie's number and called him.

So Wootie came and gladly collected Eunice and all the mooses and they went westward from Belvedere, which did not want the moose either, and from Tiburon and found the Dickson Ranch in Silvan Acres and so Wootie moved to Marin from the Island where Don Luis Guadeloupe Erizo sat observing the moon as was his wont, beside the hedges that bordered the green of the community college.

A quoi penses-tu? asked Dame Herrisson.

La luna. Y alejarse, said the Don Erizo, who was a living example that males and females frequently insist on speaking different languages, but somehow manage to communicate frequently.

Mais pourquoi? Où devrions-nous aller? Nous avons toujours vécu ici! exclaimed Dame Herrisson. Indeed, where shall we go?

Se está poniendo muy peligroso aquí. Iremos con el viento, said the Don.

Indeed just the other day one of the Angry Elf gang had been throwing firecrackers at them, for the gang members despised small, weak things. The Don had been forced to take refuge in an abandoned thermos which the gang had tossed back and forth and kicked like a football until they tired of that game and tossed it into the shrubbery. The Don had crawled out beaten and battered.

And so it was. After the defeat at the Thermos, they went down to the sea in ships. So it was written by the Father of History, Herodotus.

As for the moon, Missy Moonbeam came out of her house in Silvan Acres and, dropping her robe, danced the swirling dance of the equinox, the time when day and night are balanced and of equal weight with one another.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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 cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 16, 2018

LOVE IS JUST A WHISPER AWAY

There is a magical place in Marin on the edge of an open space preserve frequented by hikers and mountain bikers. Not far from a mini hilltop maze, tucked away to the side of the road there is a Whispering Tree.

The story goes that this natural formation is identical to one in Russia, where local lore has it that people with secret wishes, desires, worries, or just anything burdening the poor soul, can whisper into the "ear" of the tree and so come away lightened.

Patti LaBelle did Love is just a Whisper away, but a great many others have done whisper songs, from Ella Fitzgerald to the Goo Goo Dolls.

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

MARIN COUNTY, CA – A wildfire sparked Monday night in Marin County, scorching dozens of acres and prompting evacuations in the area.

The blaze, called the Irving Fire, broke out under Mount Barnabe Lookout in the area of Samuel P. Taylor State Park, according to the Marin County Fire Department. Within a couple hours, the fire burned 40 acres and spread to 115 acres by Tuesday morning. As of Tuesday afternoon, the blaze was 35 percent contained.

It was challenging for firefighters to contain the blaze because of the steep terrain, county spokeswoman Laine Hendricks said. Firefighters have used a combination of bulldozers, hand crews, water tenders and engines in the firefight.

"It's kind of treacherous terrain," Hendricks said.

Hendricks said people were concerned about the fire because the blaze created a lot of smoke, especially in the San Geronimo and Fairfax communities.

Authorities issued an evacuation order for residents on Mountain King Road, Portola Avenue and Alamo Way to Barranca Road. About 150 structures were threatened in the area, but none were damaged. By Tuesday morning, no new evacuation orders were issued, but residents in the upper part of Forest Knolls and Lagunitas were under an evacuation warning.

Residents were evacuated to Lagunitas School at 1 Lagunitas School Road in San Geronimo. The American Red Cross was sent to Lagunitas School to help evacuees.

Classes at Lagunitas School were canceled last Tuesday. The campus remained safe, but many staff and students were evacuated and unable to attend school.

Arroyo Road and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard were closed between Nicasio Valley and Platform Bridge roads. Authorities advised the public to avoid the area. By Tuesday afternoon, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard had reopened between Nicasio Valley and Platform Bridge roads. Arroyo Road remained closed.


DETROIT (AP) - After selling it on and off in the U.S. for nearly seven decades, Volkswagen has decided to squash its iconic Beetle.

The company’s American unit announced Thursday that it would end global production of the third-generation bulbous bug in July of next year after offering two special editions for sale.

The compact Beetle was introduced in Germany in 1938 during the Nazi era and came to the U.S. 11 years later, where it became a symbol of utilitarian transportation often used by hippies. The iconic car sold for about 30 years before US sales stopped in 1979. The last of the original bugs was produced in Puebla, Mexico, in 2003.

On 17 February 1972 Beetle No. 15,007,034 was produced, surpassing total production of the previous record holder, the Ford Model T. By 1973, total production was over 16 million, and by 23 June 1992, over 21 million had been produced.

Volkswagen revived it in the US in 1998 as a more modern “New Beetle,” but it did not sell well as the modern price structure failed to match the very attractive original MSRP of $1,699.

The company revamped it for the 2012 model year in an effort to make it appeal to male buyers, giving it a flatter roof, less bulbous shape, a bigger trunk and a navigation system. US sales rose fivefold to more than 29,000 in the first year, rising to just over 46,000 in 2013 but tailing off after that. Last year VW sold only 15,166, according to Autodata Corp.

Volkswagen has no immediate plans to revive the Beetle again, but the company wouldn’t rule it out.

“I would say ‘never say never,’” VW of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken said in a statement.

The company plans to roll out an electric version of the old Bus in 2022 called the I.D. Buzz.


NIGHT MOVES

So anyway, even though the nights have become nippy -- nippy for California in the low 50's -- the mosquitos remain out in force at dusk. Allie and Dexter went out to Bon Tempe Lake to watch the submarine races under the crescent moon and they were going at it like the kids they are from Drake High School, but every time Second Base got closer there came that insistent whine in their ears and the two of them wound up swatting at no-see-ums and protecting any exposed flesh from vampires. Finally they had to give up as it clearly was no use.

"No blowjob tonight, I guess," Dexter said.

"You are a sick pervert," Allie flounced. "I want to go home right now."

As some people may know, election time is coming up and so Babar and Papoon have been out pressing the flesh, airing their opinions -- of each other -- and generally trying to disassociate themselves from the incumbent President of the Bum, Ronald Rump, who has been busy doing and saying everything wrong, from promising that Newark would pay to build a wall, to insulting just about everybody north and south of the Island that is not enthusiastically in support of his odd ideas about trade, defense, women, and Nazis.

"CANADIANS! HAH! WHAT A BUNCH OF LOSERS! ALL MAPLE LEAF AND NO MOOSE! LOSERS! LOOOOOOOOSSSERS!"

While most people who are sane tend to agree that Nazis are bad people who have done terrible things to the world, Ronald Rump has had difficulty stating the obvious, even for political gain. How difficult can it be to say flatly that Nazis are evil incarnate with no socially redeeming value whatsoever? But Rump just cannot get around to admitting this truism. Maybe he likes their uniforms and their boots. Ever since there was a riot down at City Hall when Siegfried Nichtnutz tried to hold a small rally with members of the Nationalist Popular Front, and was knocked off of his orange crate by people throwing tomatoes when he started excoriating the immigrants and all the inferior races he blamed for the high rents and drugs, Rump has been an apologist for Siegfried's people.

One of the NPF guys shot Arthur in the legs as he was going to work at the Pampered Pup, claiming self-defense. Another NPF rammed his motorized trike into Grandpa Mosley's electric wheelchair.

It all descended into a free-for-all of nose-pulling and beard yanking that quickly became a savage, atavistic, bloody melee when the NPF brought out the clubs and the chains.

The Press, of course was there. Denby asked one of the NPF guys named Rene DeRouche just what it was they wanted. Rene said they just wanted their stolen freedoms.

Stolen freedoms, said Denby. Like what stolen freedoms?

Well, Rene hemmed and stumbled a bit. "Like the toothbrush mustache. We have been demonized. That holocaust was all fake. We should be able to wear any facial hair in any style we want."

Uh, sure, Denby said.

"Bring back the old corner barbershop and get rid of these foo-foo salons run by illegal immigrants taking our hair away. Yeah."

"SOME OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE VERY NICE PEOPLE," Rump commented the day after Viejo Jones, the City Hall janitor, had finished hosing all the blood off of the front steps.

In the Old Same Place Bar Papoon, of the Somewhat Progressive Party, sat with Babar, of the True Conservative Party. Joe Bob Bingle of the Pee Tardy Party would have joined them, but since everyone has gotten so acrimoniously divided, he could not spare any sign of weak reconciliation. It was all No Compromise these days.

The Pee Tardy Party is so conservative, they believe in governing human nature to the extent of enforcing only one visit to the restroom per day. "Just say No Go!" is their slogan.

Babar, a true Conservative who never goes out without wearing two pairs of pants, shook his massive head. "We used to be the voice of moderation, reason and common sense. Now look at the discourse today!" He reached out his trunk to down his drink of choice. "Bartender! Another dry Old Fashioned -- no muddle!"

"Times sure have changed," Papoon agreed. "Our slogan has been for years 'Not Insane!' but far too many people do not want sanity in government. There is no discussion any more. It is quite frustrating."

"It all started with the Clintons," Babar said.

"It all started with Richard Nixon," Papoon said. "The last great Conservative who did no suffer from dementia was Eisenhower."

"I think we can agree on that," Babar said.

In truth the usual election debates traditionally held in the parlor 331/3 of the Native Sons of the Golden West and hosted by the League of Women Voters had been kiboshed by the incumbent President.

"WHY SHOULD ANYBODY LISTEN TO ANYBODY BUT ME? ALL THE OTHERS ARE JUST LOSERS! I AM THE GREATEST AND I WILL MAKE THE ISLAND GREAT AGAIN, I PROMISE YOU! I ALONE CAN DO THE JOB!"

And more of the same. There was always more of the same. For we now have entered a new Age. First there was the Greatest Generation. Then there was the We Generation. Then there came the Me Generation, followed closely by the Greed is Good Generation, whose slogan was "I've got mine!" Then the 80's were followed by the Age of the Moron, replete with junk science and Jackass movies that exalted stupidity, when everyone was told amid violent crisis, "Just go out shopping."

Then the Age of the Moron produced the Great Recession.

Now, with reasoned discourse suppressed, encouragement of bullies and braggarts, we have entered the new Age, the

Age of the Loudmouth.

 

Meanwhile, up on the hill near the Mormon Temple and the Greek Orthodox Church where Wally's son, Whistleblower Joshua has taken refuge, Mr. Spline sits in his black SUV with his modified Glock, keeping an eye on the door of the chapel where he knows Joshua has sought sanctuary, waiting with the patience of a man who knows the time for his kind has come with a vengeance.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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 that carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 9, 2018

AFTER THE BOYS OF SUMMER HAVE GONE

This iconic image of the parked bicycle and the abandoned limo stand kinda says it all about this time when school has all your attention and there is no more roaming up and down the street on your bicycle in front of Maryjane's house and there is no more time to sit out there waiting for customers at your limo stand that dad fixed up and painted for you and your friends.

Now it is all about buckling down and getting prepped for that scholarship to Stanford and becoming a doctor or a lawyer, while the old lemonade stand sits outside with only a tattered velveteen rabbit for company.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Seems a lot of obstruction went on around the Bay recently. With a truck loaded with lumber overturning on an 880 onramp to a high-speed chase by CHP on I-680 extending from the South Bay to Vallejo, a fatal head-on crash in Marin, and a structure fire that prompted shelter-in-place orders, this past week was hell-on-wheels if you needed to get around.

Both fires that were part of the Mendocino Complex that singed part of Shasta are 100% contained but hundreds of fires further north in Canada continue to contribute to the air pollution here. Sporadic multi-acre fires continue to break out here and there in California.

Further indicating that population density and other changes have permanently revised the Island's image from pleasant small town to urban extension of Oakland, three daytime sexual assaults were reported on the Strand in August, adding to the general chaos.

Not all was disaster and dismay. Rosh Hashanah has begun, celebrating yontif in Livermore by the tri-Valley Jews group.

Classic car shows were held in Orinda and tiny Fairfax, where open top Caddy's and '65 Mustangs and at least one Springer Harley were seen and admired at the Parkade.

Sound Summit, a musical benefit for Mount Tam was held in Mill Valley. Grace Potter, rising country star Nikki Lane, energetic funk and soul ensemble Con Brio, and special guest Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead performed. Produced as an annual celebration of and fundraiser for Mount Tamalpais State Park by Roots & Branches Conservancy, the annual one-day festival has raised $175,000 for Mount Tam in just its first three years.Sound Summit is staged at the historic Mountain Theater, a 4000-seat natural stone amphitheater with stunning views of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific. The event tends to sell out and be annually quite the explosion of talent.

Quite a lot is happening, and we are finally getting our feet on the ground after the moves, so expect the Calendar to start updating any day soon.

WORKING MAN'S BLUES #2

So anyway, Norm, who lived up on Madrone, had gotten sick of the deer and other animals raiding the yard and making a mess of the roses and the vegetables planted by Alice so he set to work building a firm wall that would have a base of cemented cinder block. He first tried hauling a load of cinder block from Stone's Quarry in the East Bay, but he owned a pickup truck a lot like many of the men in Marin; these pickups were polished up and seldom did a day's labor, for they never were intended for that purpose. The toy pickup truck he owned never was built to handle real work and the thing sagged so bad under load, he had to unload half of the bricks, leaving them there in the lot to be picked up later. Once he got underway over the Bridge, the rear fenders rubbed the tires until they smoked and besides by the time he got back he realized he would have to go fetch another two more loads and he was tired.

Norm worked in the City as a software developer for a company called Santur Technology, a company that started out making window screens in India, but which moved into textile machinery that employed CAD programs to make textile patterns. The owners had so much success with this, they shifted to selling CAD programs and then Apps for iPhones and further diversified into laser ablation and splutter film manufacturing and then facilities management for the University of California and now, after 15 years of business nobody knew what they did anymore, but they seemed to be making money hand over fist. One thing they did not do was wall-building or heavy construction -- of that, Norm was pretty sure, but he figured it couldn't be all that complicated.

Norm set to work with what he had all by himself for he was going to save money by doing it all himself, but he ordered a drayer to haul the rest of the cinder block over the bridge and up to his place on the hill. He got some string and a plumber's level and laid out the line perfectly straight and graded the location just a flat as could be.

Denby strolled past on his daily walk and waved and Norm waved back.

Norm then drove in some stakes to line up the wall perfect and hold the first layer in position, and built up a section on top of that about four feet high, overlapping each line just right making the wall about ten feet long with qwik cement and then went in to have a lemonade and then go to bed and sleep and not wake up until the next morning when the drayer was supposed to arrive and when the drayer arrived.

There was a sort of a loud thump and the drayer knocked on Norm's door and told him his load had arrived but that his carport sure looked a mess.

This confused Norm, as he did not possess a carport, but parked up on the public road easement, but when he came out he found he now indeed did possess a carport where the roses and the hedge once had stood. The hedge now lay smashed flat under the wall which had fallen over all of a piece, mostly, and there was little left of the roses for Norm had failed to create a rebar foundation for his wall or pour a cement foundation for metal retaining rods.

They stood there, Norm and the drayer, whose name was Jim, and they stared down at the new carport that had been a wall. Norm did not tell Jim that the carport had been a wall, but Jim said doubtfully, "I do not think cinderblock is good material for a carport. It is going to break up. So where do you want to stick this load?"

As Denby continued his daily stroll he passed by a sort of house that looked to predate the gentrification of the County with its primitive log rail fence, unswept property and unpainted clapboard house with none of the foo-foo improvements that have so obsessed people bound to move to the countryside so as to make it better than it was. Moss clad the brick chimney of a property that never experienced direct sunlight and which abutted in the rear the creek with its deep cut of banks overhung with drooping pines and cypress.

A man always was busy outside, muttering to himself as he swept the gravel area and cursed pooping canines and their walkers. Although the man always appeared busy, the place never looked well kept.

Each time Denby passed, the man addressed him a bit more directly. This time the man stood beside a waste bin and started his delivery as follows: "Hey! My name's Tink. I got this belfry. It's got a bat in it. I swatted that feller and he came down at me! You know what I mean! Look what he did to me!"

And the man pulled on the neckline of his maroon sweater to reveal a reddened torso and a gnarly expanse of skin that could have born any sort of mark, but it was hard to tell for the man's skin was not smooth or evenly toned.

"I tell ya, don't go swatting at bats! Just like hornet's nests, don't go swatting at them things! You don't swat at hornets nest and so it is the same! Understand what I am telling you?"

"I can see where you have bats," Denby said, and so he continued his stroll at a brisk pace, thinking, this place is almost like home with its burnouts and characters.

As night fell on the Island Jacqueline was closing up shop as Maeve swept up the last scatterings of hair clippings around the chairs. The yellow rent increase from Caine Property Management sat on the banquette under a curling iron. That rent increase of over 200% meant that the place would, like so many on Park Street, pick up and move somewhere else.

Jackie sat in one of the chairs to rest her tired legs. 20 years running the business and nobody getting any younger. Maeve pulled up a stool as Lionel dropped in, as he sometimes did, for he was smitten by Jackie and had long carried his torch with honor and dignity. Even the Pampered Pup, a hot dog stand which had been their almost as long as the newspaper kiosk built before W.W.II, was threatened by this rental crisis.

Across the street, Juanita's remained open despite there being just two parties in there enjoying burritos, enchiladas and margaritas.

"Let's go to the Old Same Place," Lionel said and Maeve agreed.

There in the snug room where Padraic and Dawn still held forth with Gaelic Coffees served up by the fetching Suzie, who had once again been poured into a miniskirt, the Man from Minot sat at a table with Susan, Lynette, Tommy and Toby, who had all finished a fine day of Holiday sailing on this Labor Day.

Betty and Gardenia had finished their shifts at the hospital -- nurses do not get holidays the same way the rest of us do -- and they shared a table with Betty and Brunhilde from the Touch of Wonder Massage Parlor.

Larry Larch was there with one of his service animals from the PPA, along with Wootee Kanootee, wearing a great big raccoon skin cap. Latreena Brown and Malice Green gossiped maliciously about everybody while Anatolia Enigma performed magic bar tricks. Marvin from Marvin's Merkins (Put a Merkin in your Firkin!) came in and was immediately seized upon by Pimenta Strife, who much was attracted to the intense focus of the merkin. She wanted to know what could be done for men who had generous assets, and Larry replied, "Well, we do supply a variety of socks . . .".

Bear pulled up on his vintage panhead Harley with Susan on the pillion and Officer O'Mahauen drove by to make sure nobody was speeding or jaywalking in that district.

Pretty soon the place was abuzz as in times past, save for a jukebox supplying music instead of Denby up in the Snug. And a cheerful clatter was heard from within despite the rental crisis, for each of them remained alive and each with the breath in them after a long working day or week and what does a workingman want but a pint of plain, for a pint of plain is yer only man.

Members of the Angry Elf gang stood outside and gnawed their own livers with angry disdain, for the gang did not love joy. They dispersed as Percy Worthington-Boughsplatt pulled up, honking, in his immaculate two-toned 1939 Mandeville-Brot coupe. Percy came around and gave Madeline a hand stepping down from the runningboard where she caused a sensation in wearing a delightful bracelet of turquoise and stones. Maddie was not a clotheshorse, for she normally wore nothing but a fetching hat, a choker on chill days, a boa, and a pair of strappy six-inch stiletto high heels. As a longtime member of the Berkeley Explicit Players, Madeline did not take on garnishment lightly.

And they were all in there with much joviality and it came to the Man from Minot to speak about the working man and this is what he said. "I tell you I have been all around the world, seen many lands and danced with the fierce cannibals among the baobab trees in the forest. I have searched the planet far and wide, crossed deserts and fields, seen the cities of man as well as fabulous creatures of the deserts and the Savannah, but nothing amazes a man like a pint of plain."

" I have studied the philosophers and all the great thinkers. Roved the university halls of lore and consulted wise men sitting amid ashes and clinkers, pestered seers and prophets, gurus and sages, to distribute at least a drop of the wisdom of the ages, yet still for all that all of those wise men said there was little to gain, beyond just knowin' all the universe stands in a pint of plain."

Padraic set the Guinness down before the Man from Minot, who paused to take a deep draught and so wet his tonsils to proceed. He licked his lips and gazed up at the ceiling at some particular corner there where inspiration nestled like a spider in its homey web. Then he began again.

"I have wooed and wed, romanced many a lass, been married seven times and more and gone off besides. Over these twenty years laid many a beauty to rest with a mighty tear and a world of pain, but nothing consoles a man through all of his troubles quite like a pint of plain. I have builded edifices like Ozymandias and watched them each fall, started businesses and gained princely treasures only to lose it all, but I tell you my lads and my lassies here, nothing stands up like a good glass of beer. So I am come from afar and from near, offer succor and pleasure to the profitless man, only to tell you this great and noble truth as best I can, a pint of plain is yer only man."

There were cries of "Hurrah!" and "Here! Here!" and yet more calls for beer, which Padraic thought most sweet and to his heart, quite dear.

And although it was raucous and lively within the Old Same Place Bar, all across the Island a gentle peace descended. It was a quiet night on the Island. No sirens rent the night, and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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 that carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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


 

SEPTEMBER 2, 2018

UNDER THE SOUTHERN CROSS

This week's image comes from CB Taylor, an artist who lives in the Gold Coast area. We forget that we live on an island at our peril. Here it looks like the proud ship is one-upping the Fruitvale bridge tower with the Kaiser plant and new construction in the background. This jetty is near the Nob Hill parkinglot.


THE DIMMING OF THE DAY

So anyway. Denby took his morning walk with his cane to the top of the ridge as part of his rehabilitation schedule and looked out over the San Geronimo Valley that encompassed Lagunitas and Silvan Acres. The buckeyes had gone all sere and were bearing their inedible fruit. The European grasses that now clad the hillsides had crisped to a golden hue. All the pole beans were slowing in their yields, with fat strings of drying seed pods remaining on the vines. The tomatoes were still going great guns and the squash plants revealed swelling treasures yet to be harvested. But there were signs that a cold wind would come down from the north very soon.

The Angry Elf gang had eventually caught up with Denby and broken both of his knees, so now he was compelled to take these physical therapy walks. Now, all his ambitions and longings had been reduced to the desire to walk normally again, and this to be accomplished by way of great effort.

Out on the fishing lanes, Pedro Almeida coursed his boat El Borracho Perdido through the gloom. The dawn began later and the sunset earlier as time advanced. Last sunrise was 6:48 and the next approached nearer to seven than before. High summer had passed. The kids were back in school -- much relief for that -- and the last moon had entered the last quarter.

Pedro had a private channel dialed in on his special ship-to-shore device that brought in transmissions from Pastor Rotshue's talks, which no longer featured variety show performances, just the sermons from the Lutheran pastor.

The pastor referred to something that had happened that Pedro associated with the time he had courted his present wife and suddenly realized that had been 40 years ago.

Many things had happened since then, to himself, his boat, and to the Island.

40 years ago, the Island was an undesirable place to live because of the onus of being a military reservation and also part of the despised East Bay. 40 years ago Marin was the suburban enclave of blue-collar plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and handymen with families going back several generations in California.

Since then, he had enjoyed several shipmates, and several shipmate dogs, including Tugboat, who had died in defense of the boat and its master against the Great White that had been mistakenly hauled aboard that disastrous morning before dawn. That was nearly six years ago.

Pedro had always assumed that time would pass and that everyone else would get older and suffer the effects of age, but he had not included himself in this equation. When the net pulled up on the crane and moved to drop its load into the hold he was glad of the motor that now did the job of the mechanical windlass he had used for so long. When was it he last had a human ships-mate instead of a dog to help with things? Wasn't the last one Gilberto who had gone to Stanford and was now married? My god, that was nearly thirty years ago!

Coming into port the other day, he heard the radio chatter about the Internet and Ipods and Iphones and realized that years had passed since he had first set out with his father so long ago on his first fishing haul. Pedro's father had taught him navigation by stars and sextant, but Pedro had not used a sextant for years. Since then, the Maritime Radio station they had relied upon had become a museum. Now it was all computerized electronics and GPS. Yet coming up the walk there was Mrs. Almeida with the chicken coop behind the house, as solid as ever.

Along the edge of Snoffish Valley Road the blackberries were heavy with red fruit, going now purple as the evenings cooled. Offshore, the fogbank hung there, a stolid wall waiting to march in and take over the land while the days remained hot in the San Geronimo Valley and the shade felt cooler as the afternoons progressed with breezes.

The yellow busses had long since hauled their cache of small fry and done with ejecting them on the corners of Fairfax and Lagunitas, where Lagunitas possessed anything so defined as a "corner", there was a bus stop. Fairfax, which has long suffered the reputation of a "party town" where long-term residents regard their reputation somewhat askance, has allowed modernity to provide blinking lights for the crosswalks, so that children and drunks may cross the road with reduced opportunity for injury.

The evening progressed as commuters returned home from the ferry landing and the busports in San Rafael and dust motes danced in the golden shafts of light.

On the Island, the Angry Elf gang readied for another night of mayhem, or perhaps reclined indolently on couches in front of TV sets to witness the ongoing public agony of our international embarrassment of a nation divided by way of a lunatic Executive Office, lacking in morals, decency, tact, diplomacy, or efficacy. The Angry Elf gang is sadistic and cruel and so perhaps they all enjoy what is going on as the Country devours its own internal organs.

Nevertheless, in this time the light goes golden as it fades calmly towards the end of Summer. The Old Same Place Bar is quieter now that so many have left and Padraic and Dawn are thinking of shifting location to a place along Sir Francis Drake as the rents have become unreasonable and unprofitable.

Suzie has been hit with another rent increase and it is clear from the tenor that the next step is an Ellis Act eviction and she does not know what to do as so many have gone through the same process in the East Bay the situation has become insufferable.

In the Old Same Place Bar there is a clatter and a chatter within, and business proceeds as usual -- for the moment. All across the Island a calm descends as news of the fire fighting up north improves.

On a school night, all was peaceful on the Island. No sirens split the air and 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 fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

AUGUST 26, 2018

MIMOSA

The mimosa tree we all thought was dead is still blooming like mad in late summer. Do you know how few English language songs mention the mimosa tree? Damn few as most of the songs out there are written in French or Spanish. George Benson did an instrumental by the name with Earl Klugh, but the piece was recorded first with Jimmy Smith, 1983, "Off the Top." Most of the English language songs reference the cocktail that involves champagne, not the flower. For a song with soulful lyrics you have to go all C&W with "Raining in Port Arthur" by the Gourds, and it goes as follows:

The crawfish stirred the water
The papermill blew in on the southeastern wind
And it was raining in port arthur
I pulled a dead limb from a fallen pine
The sun was dropping on the lower neches valley
I called the dogs from out of the woods with a hollar
And it was raining in port arthur

That night my daddy drove us to maw maw's
He and mama wanted to be alone
I sat up in that mimosa tree with my brother
And it was raining in port arthur
The refinerys hum and glow from the road
And I listen to the dove as she mourns
I'm standing in the rice fields of beaumont
And it was raining in port arthur


WHAT'S THE BUZZ

The past week those hazy skies were not due to cloud and fog -- it was the airborne ash and smoke from the fires up north that blocked the sun.

About the Mendocino complex, the Ranch fire off Highway 20 near Potter Valley that affects Colusa, Glenn, Lake and Mendocino Counties, that one is 67% contained as of 08/26/18 6:23pm, with 402,065 acres burned so far.

The River fire, centered on Old River Rd, affecting Colusa, Lake and Mendocino Counties, that is now 100% contained with 48,920 acres burned.

The Carr Fire, off Highway 299 at Whiskeytown, affecting Shasta and Trinity counties, is 96% contained with 229,651 acres burned.

The Georges fire that closed Whitney Portal is not a Cal Fire incident, but Whitney Portal is now open and evacuations lifted.

The Ferguson fire that started near El Portal in Mariposa County and which closed Yosemite, was contained August 19.

There were a lot of other, smaller fires that added smoke to the area, including a Black Mountain fire that burned 48 acres near Point Reyes, a grassland fire in Mill Valley, a structure fire in San Rafael and other pocket fires in Sonoma and Napa that caused no damage.

As firefighter Jim Galli up at Schell-Vista District said, "It aint over until the rains come, and that is going to be a long, long time away from now."

School has started and the local gendarmerie have provided helpful tips to avoid clobbering the little scamperers with your car as they run from curb to bus. One thing you can do, is not yack on the cell phone while driving.

That surely will help.

As for the Season, we do not see much of interest save for some local stuff. Most of the big acts are doing Europe right now. In October The Subdudes are doing the 26th mid-week at the Freight and Salvage. The indefatigable Tommy Castro will handle that weekend with the Painkillers, serving up some hot blues. Early on Eliza Gilkyson will pair with Nina Gerber on Tuesday at the Freight 10/2 for a decidedly Lilith Faire tinged evening.

For September at the Freight we note John Sebastian appearing 9/6 as a blast from the past. John founded the Lovin' Spoonful and helped lead the 60's into the Rock Revolution.

For blues aficionados, Corey Harris pairs with Guy Davis will educate you some on 9/21.

If you have the cash, Mavis Staples will rock your socks off 9/12 for a special event that will feature tix ranging from $250 - $500, but you get dinner with all that soul.

Looking at Terrapin Station's Calendar, we fell asleep. Apparently the venue does not employ a full time booking agent. The usual Grateful Dead stuff. Closed private parties. Open Mic.

Rancho Nicasio is bowing to the gray hairs with an appearance of Commander Cody and his . . . Modern Day Airmen. Well at least Cody understands the times and music have changed.

Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley looks to have some interesting gigs. The quirky Todd Snider appears 9/15, and Keller Williams, guitar wunderkind, appears 10/27.
There are some interesting curiosities appearing on Sunday evenings, so be sure to check those out.

Then there are the tribute bands appearing everywhere (**yawn**!)

Fenix, which is a newish upscale dress-code sort of place downtown San Rafael has mostly unknowns performing the weekends, although we do note Harvey Mandel is holding Friday 9/21.

Although this venue also has fallen victim to the "tribute band" mania, at least it is one of the few places in Marin where you can enjoy Motown sounds.

Across the bridge is where it is at. The Fox Theatre booking agent continues to destroy the competition. We see Ledisi pairing with Goapele 8/31, then Govt Mule 09/08, followed by Garbage on 10/03. Garbage put the melodic into techno-punk.

On quite a different flavor we have Pat Metheney on 10/25, which is a Thursday, but a show that will be worth showing up late for work.

Devil Makes Three, a surprising success out of Santa Cruz, will infuse you with infectious bluegrass punk on 10/27.

Be ready for two nights of Joan Baez and Van Morrison in November at the Fox, appearing beside the golden Idols.

Do you remember Anita Baker? Winner of some 8 Grammies, 7 platinum records and the jumpstarter for the "quiet storm" radio format? She will be saying goodbye 9/7-9/8 at the Paramount in Oakland, which has become the City that Knows How and Cares.

O THESE MIST COVERED MOUNTAINS ARE HOME TO ME NOW

So anyway. It is Perseid time and the stars are falling. Toto, the terrier mentioned last week, has had his stitches and plastic cone removed and both he and his owner are now happy as peas in a pod. Speaking of peas, the season has long past for the vines that now cling withered to the lattice. The beans appear quite done and the tomatoes are yielding their last fruits in some places that planted early. Now is the time of squashes to take hold. All that spreading of vines and blossoms everywhere imaginable has resulted in swelling bulbs and the appearance of the dreaded Gigantic Zucchini, a manifestation that happens every year, despite the greatest of observation and care.

Zucchini are a bit like what Conservative Republicans used to be - if you ignored them, they swelled up to gargantuan size, consumed far too many resources, and wound up being tasteless in the end. Nowadays there are far worse things than Conservatives or Conservative Republicans, which used to be an oxymoron. Now we have Trumpians, which are neither Conservative nor truly Republican but more like pig turds, oozy and revoltingly disgusting.

These days, the skies are gray with smoke from distant wars against the fires. If you have ever been anywhere near the front lines of a serious semi-wildland fire, you know how much it looks like warfare. There are command posts, personnel going out and coming back from the perimeters, loaded with equipment, sweaty and tired. Gunships going low overhead to bomb the enemy, which in these cases happens to be the advancing line of fire. The foot soldiers armed with pulaskis and hoses engage in sporadic combats to save this or that building. Heavy equipment charges in to carve out firelines, push fuel back into the inferno so it does not spread.

Denby took a walk with Toto and his owner up on the ridge and looked down on the San Geronimo Valley. The horizon has been hazed over, concealing the late August glory of the Perseid meteor showers. He is recovering nicely from when the Angry Elf gang broke his legs, and he walks with a cane now, but gets along just fine albeit a log slower than in the past.

He managed to rescue his guitars from the gang on a midweek foray onto the Island in broad daylight -- something the Angry Elf never would have suspected. He enlisted the help of Mancini and Pahrump and a van loaned by an old hippie named Jason Scatterwitt. Jason had done quite a lot of LSD back in the day when he spent his time being a roadie for bands like the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service. He bought a house in Silvan Acres back when houses cost under a hundred thousand dollars because the area had no sewer system, no postal delivery, and was miles from the City where people made money.

With his mind blown out on account of having done so much acid, Jason was not so useful to employers who took themselves seriously, but he was of good heart and generous impulse and so friends and acquaintances helped him keep his van running, largely because they could count on using the vehicle in a pinch. And who is to say that being smart and sharp and effective and savage is not worse than being kind, generous, slow to hurt, and of good mind.

So anyway that is how Pahrump and Denby secured the resources to dart onto the Island, or trundle, wheeze, bang-bang and cough, in midday when criminals tend to take their naps and so secure Denby's meager possessions, including his guitars, from the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles and so re-arrive after a circumlocution of the Bay past Eve and Adam's cathedral up on Cathedral Hill where the good and decent Reverend Glide administers free meals to the poor to this day, past bend of shore and swerve of curve, wheezing, backfiring, coughing, trundling along over the bridge, through the Rainbow Tunnel named after Robin Williams, down the hill and over Whites Hill back to Silvan Acres and environs.

And when they arrived back home, their new home in the woods, they all unpacked their gear and Denby played a song or two or three and Snuffles appeared with a gallon of 99 cent wine that could not be beat and they all were satisfied at arriving safely and against the bitter enmity of the Angry Elf gang that was an evil not to be trifled with.

O to be the symbol of Evil. Hitler is long gone with his toothbrush mustache and there never, god willing, be another Hitler. But the Angry Elf lives on, soured up in his third floor apartments in the Lunatic Asylum for Demented Managers. Drug dealers, fences, thieves, enforcers, corrupted cops make their regular visits.

But in Silvan Acres Missy Moonbeam steps out into her front yard guarded by eight foot high rose bushes still flourishing in golden, red and aromatic white blossoms on this late summer night as the Perseids streak overhead as the haze dissipates and the wine flows across the way at the New Household and Missy spins in her dance of celebration for the change of seasons and the stars dying above.

The climate is changing, fires are raging, an idiot man-baby is destroying the government of the once proud United States of America, while on the horizon the stars continue to die. But Missy dances her foolish dance and Jason raises his glass of wine to highlight the blood-red moon, made so by the ash dissolved in the very air we breathe. Ashes to ashes, we all fall down. But a closer look reveals the human race. Full of hope is the human face. . . .

Stephen Hawking said we must look to the stars for the eventual salvation of the human race, but the stars are falling and we no longer have that voice of reason with us any longer. What we have is Missy's dance. And the wine and the spirit that made both of those things. This is all we have against the evil of the world. It is not much, but love is what we have. That will have to do until we can reach the unfallen stars imagined by Stephen Hawking. Which might not happen in your lifetime or mine.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

AUGUST 20, 2018

QUEEN OF SOUL

We have no lack of local pictures, but this one from the Hollywood Walk of Fame kinda speaks to how all of us are feeling right now. We lost a national treasure who had suffered a great deal while providing us with invigorating sense of hope through music.

PSA

ALAMEDA, CA — If the Webster and Posey tubes are a regular part of your drive, you need to plan ahead! Caltrans will close the tubes for their biennial tunnel inspections. Here's the schedule —

The Posey Tube, exiting Alameda, will be closed:

Monday, August 20, from 9:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning
Tuesday, August 21, from 9:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning
Wednesday, August 22, from 9:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning

The Webster Tube, entering Alameda, will be closed:

Monday, August 27, from 9:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning
Tuesday, August 28, from 9:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning
Wednesday, August 29, from 9:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning

If you have any concerns about the upcoming schedule, call Caltran's Eroluis Oseguera at (510) 286-3947.

REVIEW OF MARIAH PARKER AT THE THROCKMORTON THEATRE

Went down to the Mill Valley Throckmorton Theatre to catch a sold-out SRO show by Mariah Parker's Indo-Latin Jazz Ensemble. Special guest from India was Anuradha Pal. She began performing at age 10.5 and has since performed on every major continent in the world before millions of people. Her band, Anuradha Pal's Recharge, typically performs in America, Europe, Japan and Asia in front of crowds exceeding 400,000 attendees.

Mariah Parker's band consists of Grammy-winner Paul McCandless on woodwinds, Matthew Montfort on scalloped fretboard guitar, Ian Dogole on percussion, and Kash Killion on stand-up bass.

Killion lives in England while Anuradha Pal lives in Mumbai, India.

Mariah Parker, who lives in San Rafael, is a phenomenally talented composer and multi-instrumentalist who stuck to the piano and santur Saturday evening. Her band typically sells out the larger venue at Yoshi's East. The Berkeley Daily Planet reported on the August 25, 2009 show "The concert goers were so spirited and enthusiastic as the performance progressed throughout the evening, the roar of their response to Mariah Parker’s compositions brought the jazz club to a feverish pitch that rocked the building to its foundation." (BDP, 09-03-2009, by Lynda Carson, Arts & Events: "Mariah Parker's Indo Latin Jazz Ensemble Packs Yoshi's in Oakland.")

Her recorded work has been universally well received from the Midwest Record, to the Jazz Journal (Vol 70, No.4, April 2017), Jazzwise( Issue 217, April 2017, Improvijazzation Nation (Issue 166).

Saturday night it was SRO at Throckmorton in Mill Valley. The usually passive crowd responded enthusiastically to the dense textures woven by Parker's piano and evocative Santur blended in with Montfort's otherworldly guitar as Killian and Dogole provided solid Latin samba and salsa backbeat rhythms.

Anuradha Pal held the crowd in thrall from the moment she began her enchanting solo Monsoon of Mumbai. In fact when it came time for her to take a break offstage the crowd begged for her to stay.

Parker performed some work from her previous two CD releases, including Sangria, Close Passage and Affinity -1. Close Passage, beginning with Dogole's shell-shaker, segueing into Montfort's eerie bends, is a powerfully evocative piece that creates dark, atmospheric tension as it builds out of darkness into images of bright, bustling activity.

At the end of the second set the entire audience arose for a thunderous standing ovation.

Ian Dogole will host a tribute for jazz great Pharoah Sanders 09/22/18. Sanders is still alive and performing at age 77 and will be completing a world tour in 2018. Compositions to be performed will feature the period shortly after Sanders left Coltrane's band. Edward Howell will be performing on sax.

Matthew Montfort has his own band, called Ancient Future and consisting of Grammy award winners. He also is trying to establish a nonprofit called InterMusic SF which is to promote World Music. Go to www.ancient-future.com to learn more about what his band does and to provided a tax-deductible donation if you so desire.

We need in these times more than ever before greater world connectivity through music.

We support live music because live music promotes good health, exalts the greater good, stimulates positive vibrations, enhances quality of life, stimulates the local economy, encourages moral behavior, connects disparate people together, and cures all manner of bad things like chilblains, social disease, dyspepsia, grinding of teeth, hyper-aggressiveness, and urban miseries of all kinds, while cultivating the body politic. Besides, it is good for you too.

As Mariah Parker, Matthew Montfort and Anuradha Pal prove, the modern day composer refuses to die.

TIS THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER

So anyway. Fogs have been seen creeping over the distant hills in the early morning and the nights have become chill. Daytime remains hot in the sun, with the sweat beading down. Up north the big fires are banked to 80%, still burning furiously within the boundaries, but no longer advancing with merciless cruelty. The towns of Upper Lake, Lucerne and Nice are shrouded in dense smoke, but safe for now.

Only a few miles away, fire broke out on Black Mountain, scorching 45 acres before containment. It will not be over until the rains come, if they come at all, and that shall not happen for months. The Russians control the elections, a man-baby controls the government, each day brings another Recession closer and each day the news reports another nutcase gunning down a number of people in a public place in cold-blooded murder.

The times are parlous.

On the Island, the yellow busses have once again started their morning and afternoon rounds. First day of school has begun and tiny monsters dash between cars hither and thither affrighting the drivers with their suddenness. Best to slow down and get off the cell phone.

Ms. Morales has returned to Longfellow to bring the felicities and dignity of Emily Dickinson to another generation of pupils, and along the way perhaps rescue a few souls falling through the administrative and social cracks in our civilization.

Someone once asked Ghandi what he thought about Western Civilization and the great man responded, "I think it would be a very good idea!"

The annual Art and Wine Festival happened, but it was fraught with "tribute bands", which we find tedious and boring, so we stayed away. Please come original and do not ride on the coattails of the famous who once risked so much. Painting by numbers is for children.

In Silvan Acres hummingbirds darted around the mossy mimosa tree. The place is pretty quiet most times, save for the accepted feature that just about every household owns a dog. Among dog owners there are the tidy walkers who carry plastic bags and scoops and employ leashes out of a sense of social responsibility. These people stroll past the posted notices for people to clean up their poop, or better yet, "No pooping here!", which seems draconian out in the pastoral hinterlands.

Then there are those carefree types who let their hound run about in a fit of barking, chasing squirrels, birds, UPS trucks and sometimes deer with insalubrious consequences, and pooping with wanton amorality here and there. To such people the nature of the dog is to be unfettered by rules and the dog is entitled to bite whatever and whomever it pleases at any time for any reason that is sure to be justified afterwards when the owner surely will exclaim, "He's never done THAT before!" and "It is because YOU must have done something to provoke him." There is some consolation that because the dog ranges at will, it surely will find itself among the dewy poison oak and so return home to have much kisses and hugs lavished upon him by the unsuspecting owner who will develop a furious rash.

As for the Smellings of Maple Street, they regularly tie up their dogs on the large concrete parking pad in front of their house and throw hunks of raw steak to him, but never take him for walks for most of the Smellings are rather ungainly and not in the best of health.

There were a couple yippers that were wont to wander at will up and down the byways, but since the coyotes came one night no one has seen them on the streets.

Silvan Acres is not yet Beverly Hills and of that the Smelling clan is heartily thankful.

Such attention is lavished upon the dogs of Silvan Acres the kids of Calcutta and the favalas of Rio de Janeiro and the Projects of Oaktown would be envious if they knew. Nobody in the favalas dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or being in love or anything at all save for surviving another day, for there life is but a waiting game.

A dog is but a dog. Their great attraction is that they have no complexities that often attend human relationships and the illusion that the bond that forms is entirely independent of instinct and millions of years of evolution compels many people to believe in total devotion and the innate "goodness" of the animal.

It is true most dogs have souls that clearly are superior to that of many people whose soul's depth barely exceeds that of a plastic flip-flop.

Toto, a terrier mix that lives on Maple not far from the abhorrent Smellings, has had an eye operation that involved removal of a benign tumor. As a consequence, and because he is an animal, he is compelled to wear a plastic cone night and day to prevent him scratching at his sutures.

On his better days, he looks precisely like the canine that appeared in the Wizard of Oz, and he has garnered the admiration of all the women in Silvan Acres. Save for now he must wear the Cone.

On the morrow, Toto's cone shall be removed and his daily misery shall end and he shall be an happy dog indeed. And then once again Toto shall be free to range at will, pooping and sniffing among the poison oak to his heart's content.

As for the kids of Oaktown across the bridge, their miseries shall continue without abatement. Perhaps if Toto knew anything about them, he would do something valorously, but he does not and so when night falls he comes in and settles down at the feet of his mistress who has her own problems.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

AUGUST 12, 2018

THIS ONE GOES OUT TO THE ONE I LOVE

This week the image comes from Brian Higgins, former Island-Lifer and famous sports columnist and now resident in Marin. It shows Mt. Tam shrouded in smoky haze from the fires up north.

SUMMERTIME, WHEN THE LIVING IS EASY

So anyway. The furry mimosa, gone hairy with its coat of saprophytic moss, is full in bloom. All the glads have erupted at once a few weeks ago and now all of them that have not bent over with the weight stand much subdued with muted wilts that used to be something and now all stand like silent meditating monks remembering past glories. The prevailing winds have returned although the air is still butter-soft and the shadows flow like syrups. It is late summertime and the stores are all filled with Back-to-School displays.

Pedro has managed to tune in to a faint channel that brings in the latest from his favorite Lutheran televanelist Pastor Rotschue, who appears after a #metoo contretemps and ouster from the airwaves found himself a sort of online home for his folksy point of view.

Pedro is glad that the voice that kept him company for many years out on the bounding main remains present in some form, albeit subdued.
Yet a fisherman's lot is one that does not pause any more than the ocean stops for even one emotional second for any one man or group of men. The basement of the ocean is littered with the carcasses of ships that longed in vain for some sort of pause amidst the storm. Life indeed is harsh and its ending inexorable.

When Pedro returns each day from his work, and mounts the rise to the house, the roses of Almeida waft effulgent, driving away all salt scents of the sea.

Life is brutal and short, but then, there are roses raised and managed by your wife. There is that.

And there are the chickens and their eggs cultivated by that same wife, and defended from rats and raccoons, so all things are not matters of decay and evil.

Down the Snoffish Valley road Pahrump, Jose and Mancini carefully tend a 30 gallon bin perched on the edges of the flexible flyer wagon Mancini had rescued from the old Household. The bin is piled high with horse manure they had gotten from the Dickerson Ranch down the way and they were hauling it back as part of the project to make a subsistence garden bigger and better than the one they had on the Island.

As they trundled past Mr. Gruffman's place, the old fellow stood at the gate entrance to his property and swore a blue streak at the sight of our motley crew shoving and pulling a couple hundred pounds of equine excrement.

"Holy s--t!" said Mr. Gruffman.

"Got that right. And it's good s--t too!" said Mancini.

When they trundled past the cottage rented by Missy Moonbeam, she asked them what this was and when they told her, she exclaimed, "Cool beans! That is real Organic!"

Heartened by that encouragement they toiled on, pushing and pulling and steadying the flexible flyer wagon that carried so much horse poop.

Transporting the heavy bin took them a couple hours of hot, sweaty work but when they arrive at the new Household, they dumped it with ceremony next to the area planned for expansion while Andre played the harmonica. Tomatos, squash, beans, peas and green onions are thriving so far. Life is good when you got good s--t. Even better when it was free.

Then the boys settled down with a gallon of 99 cent wine Mancini had found somewhere, for no matter how hoity toity the environs, there is always cheep wine to be found somewhere if you look hard enough.

Ernest, who had both legs broken by the Angry Elf gang before he moved to Marin, takes his evening walk with a cane to breath in the air, listen to the birds and pause at the top of the hill, feeling much of life has passed him by. He'll never become a rock 'n roll star or an airline pilot or an astronaut and the window closed long ago on possible fame on the stage or on screen.

But that is all right. He is resigned as two hummingbirds dart by, pause to investigate and then dart away again. It could be worse. In fact it HAS been worse, much worse than living in confusing Marin. For a while it was quite horrible, in fact. But for now he is done with knee operations and taking opoids for the pain and no one has tried to kill him for at least two years. One has to learn to appreciate the small things.

Three young deer come hopping down the middle of the road and pause to stare at him not twenty feet away and then they go skipping off, not afraid but careful just the same. The shadow of a heron passing overhead crosses the road. Now Ernest is one of three Chinese figurines ascending a lapis lazuli mountain and being written about by a Irish poet. And his eyes, his glittering eyes are ancient and gay.

I have heard that hysterical women say
They are sick of the palette and fiddle-bow,
Of poets that are always gay,
For everybody knows or else should know
That if nothing drastic is done
Aeroplane and Zeppelin will come out,
Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in
Until the town lie beaten flat.

All perform their tragic play,
There struts Hamlet, there is Lear,
That's Ophelia, that Cordelia;
Yet they, should the last scene be there,
The great stage curtain about to drop,
If worthy their prominent part in the play,
Do not break up their lines to weep.
They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay;
Gaiety transfiguring all that dread.
All men have aimed at, found and lost;
Black out; Heaven blazing into the head:
Tragedy wrought to its uttermost.
Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages,
And all the drop scenes drop at once
Upon a hundred thousand stages,
It cannot grow by an inch or an ounce.

On their own feet they came, or on shipboard,
Camel-back, horse-back, ass-back, mule-back,
Old civilisations put to the sword.
Then they and their wisdom went to rack:
No handiwork of Callimachus
Who handled marble as if it were bronze,
Made draperies that seemed to rise
When sea-wind swept the corner, stands;
His long lamp chimney shaped like the stem
Of a slender palm, stood but a day;
All things fall and are built again
And those that build them again are gay.

Two Chinamen, behind them a third,
Are carved in Lapis Lazuli,
Over them flies a long-legged bird
A symbol of longevity;
The third, doubtless a serving-man,
Carries a musical instrument.

Every discolouration of the stone,
Every accidental crack or dent
Seems a water-course or an avalanche,
Or lofty slope where it still snows
Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch
Sweetens the little half-way house
Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
Delight to imagine them seated there;
There, on the mountain and the sky,
On all the tragic scene they stare.
One asks for mournful melodies;
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.

W. B. Yeats, “Lapis Lazuli” from The Poems of W. B. Yeats: A New Edition, edited by Richard J. Finneran. Copyright 1933 by Macmillan Publishing Company, renewed © 1961 by Georgie Yeats. Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

AUGUST 5, 2018

ALL UNDER THE BURNING SKY

Took this image while working up north when a series of pocket fires ignited a pallet factory across the street and set off a 5000 gallon propane tank.

Talked to fireman Jim Galli who was standing right next to the tank when it blew sky-high. "It was exciting," he said. And that was all. Click on the foto for something exciting.


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

As you may have heard, there are a number of really big fires destroying large swathes of territory in California. The Ferguson Fire has shut down Yosemite National Park. This one is once again burning outside the West Portal.

Up north a fire in Mendocino has enveloped the town of Shasta and pushed through rugged terraine to destroy parts of the City of Redding. This fire threatens to join the Carr fire that has burned an area the size of Denver and is as of this moment only 41% contained. Associates at the Northshore Fire Protection District have been evacuated from both homes and fire stations.

We got an urgent call to run backups on the servers in Lucerne and got that done, but it sounds like the station has repopulated.

This year's fire season started earlier than in year's past and looks to be a lot more severe with no end in sight until the rains come, whenever and if they do.

The Island held its 34th Annual Art and Wine Street Faire and the usual suspects attended.

Upcoming we see Lucinda Williams is performing at Stanford 9/21 with a top-notch band. Mariah Parker will be performing Indo-Latin jazz with her band at the Throckmorton in Mill Valley August 18th. There will be a special internationally renowed guest also performing with the band that night. We know who it is, but we cannot tell you.

Looks like there will be a resumption of weekend music in San Geronomo Valley, which is always good to hear.

Sweetwater looks pretty sleepy with tribute\cover bands filling in the bill through August, save for some notable mid-week stuff, including Avery Sunshine importing some badly needed Soul 8/22 for a seated show, followed by Mark Mckay and then Black Uhuru taking up the Friday slot with Jamaican reggae.

For Terrapin Crossroads, beside the predictable Jerry's Kids stuff, look to midweek for things potentially different and lively all month.

Peri's in Fairfax has a roster of dive bar offerings, which sounds odd for Marin, but sometimes people just want to let their hair hang down and go slumming in a safe way. It is not Eli's Mile High, for we doubt anyone will get shot on the dance floor in Fairfax, but you never know.

Fenix in San Rafael has demonstrated uneven booking with some refreshing Afro-beat stuff on the weekends, along with Motown and jazz. Nothing outstading appearing in August.

Rancho Nicasio remains the goto place in Marin for consistently good, top-marquee acts performing. Chuck Prophet was this weekend. Next weekend we have Uncle Willie K and then Asleep at the Wheel 8/19.

There are small venues here and there holding acoustic sets. We will start to keep tabs on what is happening there.

NIGHTS, WHEN IT IS WARM

The buckeyes are going sere, putting all their energies into producing poisonous fruit and the light is soft with the redolence of late summer. The neighbor's nectarine tree now hangs heavy with promise, still small and hard, but getting there. Blackberry bushes along the lanes of Silvan Acres bow down with red and black clusters. The bean vines are producing like mad and the first squashes appear on tables. Yellow crookneck, acorn, zucchini. The tomato plants look ready to make a march on Washington DC so as to pelt those people with vigorous sense.

The days are hot, breezy with Santa Ana winds, The nights are cool and Venus and Mars face off against one another, Venus to the East, Mars to the West. Soon, the Perseids will flash through the sky, natural fireworks.

In Silvan Acres, and indeed throughout Marin County, life passes through a funnel of obstacles and while everything backs up, there is nothing to do but wait. Indeed, much of Life is just like that, if you think about it. There is tremendous effort and activity and then you come to a line that is commanded by one single underpaid, overworked, highly stressed-out, abused and accused and maligned woman with bedraggled dreds doing what she has been told to do for a paycheck that is not really that much behind a sordid counter she has to keep clean herself with a bottle of lysol and a dwindling roll of obnoxiously named Bounty paper towels.

You must wait; that is your fate.

The various members of the Household are still getting used to life moving at a slower pace in a place where not every store has what you need and every store is miles apart and many people speak a completely different language from Standard English and people never act like someone is about to kill them. Well, there are Rednecks and they act violently and over the top the way Rednecks do everywhere from the Valley to Peoria to Germany. Rednecks are the same all over the world by way of their self-limited perceptions and no doubt you will find Rednecks in India and China and Bulgaria who would be comfortable in the Heartland which so often votes against its own best interests because people are too often persuaded by the likes of Bible salesmen that the moral issues presented by the Adversary are the package that is delivered instead of the reality of what is there, plain for all to see.

The Adversary, of course, is not known for speaking the truth.

For one thing, in getting used to the dispersed nature of Marin everyone has obtained bicycles and now everyone cycles like mad everywhere to get basic things done. The Island, being what it is, must have everything it needs on its bounded soil, and being a small Island, everything you need can be found within walking distance or a short bus ride. Every store is jam packed with everything you could want in the universe, but Marin stores have so little foot traffic, each store must specialize.

Martini has welded together a bicycle contraption that uses a metal bar stool for a seat, lawn mower risers for handlebars, sprockets from old car gears, and a chain that was once a serpentine belt for a Toyota Rav4. With a tubular frame made from plumber's pipe, the thing is as heavy as hell, but he managed to find a starter motor for a Yamaha motorcycle to help get him over White's Hill with the help of a few more gears and belts and tinkering.

Everyone else obtained somewhat normal bicycles from connections in the East Bay because prices for things in Marin are ape-shit despite the fact that wages in the County are low as can be.

These nights Denby steps out from his quarters, which do not resemble the Lunatic Asylum where he once paid a tidy sum of rent, and looks at the stars. What is the stars, he wonders, wondering as other have wondered in ages past. The night air is cool and the heat of the day is banished, but not the thoughts of someone who has survived many fights. There on the deck of the relocated Household in Silvan Acres, he realized no one had tried to kill him for at least two years.

This is something. And not everyone enjoys this discovery.

A last hummingbird arrived, chirping, at the feeder hanging from the eaves before the light departed the world, the bird darted off, and all was silent. Soon the Perseids would arrive in their glory. Such a different experience from the brawling East Bay: no one tries to kill you and hummingbirds arrive at dusk. Quite a different experience.

He had survived, but now had time to wonder why. Why was he alive and not so many others? To what purpose was his life now? Women he had known in his past life arose like phantasms in the night, elusive and accusatory. For each of them he held a fond memory and a little regret things had not progressed. Now here he was in the backwater of Silvan Acres just below the landing where the coastal train used to pass and hearing the sound of the ghost train travelling towards the coast or maybe it is the real train echoing across the water as people stand waiting to go on to their destinies on their respective platforms. And one figure steps forward to take his hand. . . .

The night is warm and we are still alive; the world is still there and there is no need to hurry. The trains drive through the night, further than dreams, and now after wandering far, suffering much, learning the cities of man and their foreign ways, he is home. Home at last. Always, he returns home.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

JULY 29, 2018

MAGNOLIA YOU SWEET THING

This week's headline comes from Carol who knipsed this massive magnolia in bloom in mid summer. We have had a long heat wave reminiscent of the Southlands, so this one is appropriate.

NEW TIMES, NEW TIMES, NEW, NEW, NEW TIMES

We wandered on over to Mill Valley, which calls itself a City but which acts like a village with its two venues and its limited provision for eateries. We checked out pretty much all of them this weekend, finding both venues usually booked solid in advance and all eateries packed with 30 minute waiting lines. So, if you go to Mill Valley with your WillCall in pocket get their in advance, like 5:30, if you want a meal and a glass of wine before the show. Parking in that area is limited, so be prepared to call on the Parking Goddess and walk a little ways.

Caught Matthew Montfort at the Throckmorton, performing with his band of Grammy Award winning folks, the band called Ancient Future.

We expected some mellow, innocuous jazz-pop and were pleasantly surprised by the vigor of the exciting world beat music we heard Saturday night.

BILLBOARD calls the group "trendsetters" for contributing to the emerging movement known as world fusion music, a term Ancient Future leader Matthew Montfort coined at the band’s inception for music that blends musical ideas from many different cultures. Formed in 1978, Ancient Future is the world's first and longest running ensemble dedicated exclusively to the mission of the creation of world fusion music.

Their original music is an exhilarating fusion of exciting rhythms and sounds from around the globe that combines contemporary jazz and rock with the irresistible rhythms of African, Balinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and South American percussion, the rich harmonies of Europe, and the beautiful melodies of Asia.

Members of the band have won Grammies on their own independent efforts.

Saturday night we heard some erotic wedding marches from the Middle East, a few ragas from India, and a couple classical Egyptian pieces, all of which was quite exciting to hear, and well played with full emotive power, supplemented by performances by a dancer called Sephora, who did things with scarves and her body that seemed impossible yet compelling. Monfort is trying to assemble a Foundation to push the cause of World Music, and begged the audience for organizational volunteers.

Another thing that struck us this weekend was the crying need for a regional calendar to list events for people looking to go out on the weekends. At present there is nothing, only a pretend bulletin board here and there.

Need to do something about that.

We have started up connections with the Mill Valley Library and the San Anselmo Library, both of which regularly hold events, sometimes significant ones with folks of international fame. Then there are the summer "in-the-park" things. We only happened on the Beatles in the Park by happenstance and at least one of our staff is a major Beatles fan.

This ignorance of events should not be.

TOO LONG IN THE WASTELAND

So anyway. For many years unincorporated Silvan Acres had no monuments, no edifices to speak of, save for the Fire Station which serves as the central dispatch for all of Western Marin, and the Silvan Acres Improvement Center, which features a pool with a sadly buckled bottom and a gym where nothing works, save for the stationary bicycles. There is a hall where sometimes yoga classes are held on an indifferent schedule. A woman named Margot keeps the place running on a part-time basis when she is not breeding corgi showdogs that always seem to win awards even though the entire lot of vigorously barking animals is grossly overweight. There must be something amiss in the judging or the competition is thin, or the standards for corgis in Marin County does not match that of other showdogs, but when Margot walks the grounds with about ten of these obese things waddling behind and dragging their bellies it can make for some entertainment for the neighbors.

Showdogs, lavish mansions, European sportscars and such are now characteristic of Marin, but it was not always so.

At one time, Marin was a blue-collar enclave of stonemasons, plumbers, carpenters, handymen, electricians, mechanics and basic dirt-under-the-fingernails kinds of folks, living along with ranchers, fishermen, and farmers. In the early hours you can still hear the scree of golden hawks and roosters here and there as the light comes up. The raising of chickens, however, has become an affected hobby rather than a livelihood and although the place is rife with dogs, they are all considered companions instead of working animals and the horses are all become equine pets instead of dray workers.

Here and there remain hangers-on from the old days, when working with the hands was a thing of pride. That was not too long ago. These folks got their houses long before the obscene upsurge in housing costs that has driven many born-heres away to other, foreign cities; it all happened within the course of a single lifetime. Much of this history is parallel to what has happened on the Island;everything should sound dreadfully familiar. Night falls after an overheated day. Latterly the area has experienced unusually hot temps on an extended run when in years past you had a few scorchers at the end of August while the summers remained moderate in the 70's.

As the night falls, the sound of howling begins, signifying a nocturnal hunt is on and as the baying gets closer, people pull in their Fifi's and their Mr. Whiskers to the safety of well-lit livingrooms with comfortable TeeVees that do not obviously devour anything.

A group of turkeys has been making a racket every day uphill from the Household where a creek runs down out of the woods, but after the night passed, and the howling approached to within a hundred feet of the place, morning was greeted with a tremendous silence.

They heard that howling in the Household and Andre went around with Little Adam to make sure the place was locked up tight as the creatures ran beneath the windows.

Morning after and the little dog with floppy ears that had been running loose all over the place around the curve on Railroad Avenue now is missing.

It was a full moon last night, and anything can happen on a full moon. Anything can happen in a place that keeps some part of its wildness and all your stock options cannot do a damn thing about it. Missy Moonbeam removed all her clothes and, flinging her long hair, danced the dance of Gaia in her backyard so as to appease the spirit of Coyote, the Trickster.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

JULY 22, 2018

STILL PLAYIN'

Last weekend we went out to catch a festival of films focussing upon New Mexico, which is quite a magical place. Mariah Parker organized part of the festival for a film that covered the life of Mabel Dodge Luhan who not only put Taos on the map as a center for the arts but also was a major force in women's rights after World War I.

Here is an image of Mariah, who is a recognized jazz artist working with Grammy award winners to produce some amazing stuff -- she will cruise by the Mill Valley Throckmorton Theatre August 18th and we encourage you to get tickets now before they are gone.

As for the song by Peter Case, Still Playin', it goes like this

we used to call 'em the dirt capades
buskin' on the corner the masquerade
walkin' 'round playin' guitar in the rain
singin' on the street as they come and go
killin' long hours when the crowds are slow
reachin' for the high notes as the
world runs down the drain
high summer: the streets are thronged at midnight
there's poetry and song:
heaven sent ringin' out under the roar
up in S. F. roamin' the town learnin'
how to play and sing and make a sound
on the harp as fog rolls 'round the door
still playin'
judgin' every note I play
only request I heard all night
was 'can you sing far, far away?'

playin' Cocaine Blues for an hour or
two
payday baby let me lay it on you
now I'm stealin' back to my good old
used to be
don't ever write your name on a jail
house wall
I ain't gonna give you no more cherry
ball
won't you make me down a pallet on your
floor
that'll never happen no more

still playin'
after everyone has gone
stayin' up and layin' down the strawberry
roan
still playin'
that same sweet melody
for a hundred years or more:
'til everyone's gone free

now there's high lonesome gettin' up in
the bar
a broken hearted cowboy with a blue
guitar
and he sings so quiet: did you come here
to cry?
c'mon man its North Beach saturday
night
they're pourin' down the sidewalks
under the lights
and he's singin' of the joint or a love
that dies

and I'm up in this room with a J-45
waitin' on a wire wondrin' how to
survive
with a scrap of yellow paper and a broken
pen
older than I ever thought I'd be
with more responsibility
and I know I'm bound to stay
and pray and pay and play again

still playin'
for the monkeys wearin' crowns
still playin'
hand me down my hand me downs

playin' Cocaine Blues for an hour or
two
payday baby let me lay it on you
now I'm stealin' back to my good old
used to be
don't ever write your name on a jail
house wall
I ain't gonna give you no more cherry
ball
won't you make me down a pallet on your
floor
or that'll never happen no more

still playin'
after everyone has gone
stayin' up and layin' down the strawberry
roan
still playin'
that same sweet melody
for a hundred years or more:
'til everyone's gone free.

© 1997 Peter Case BUG Music (BMI)


NEW TIMES NEW TIMES, NEW, NEW, NEW TIMES

It came to us that there is no Pink Pages or Express Calendar for Marin County. This came about due to miscommunications between artists and would-be attendants. We shall have to rectify that, for we are noting there is not one single centralized calendar for Marin and this is a serious lack.

Okay then. We shall soon address this.


MAGNOLIA YOU SWEET THING

So anyway. It is pretty clear from all the signs that Summer has advanced upon us all n regardless of the bad politics and the inanity of the Carrot-topped One.

Mornings are veiled with fog in the North Counties, and a fog bank persists through the day offshore. The Island experiences high fog to late morning and then a torrid afternoon, but not as serious as the rest of the Bay.

Fires are burning outside Yosemite now, and CalFire reports several efforts going on. In talking with the Schell-Vista staff in Sonoma, they describe this time as the time of War. An attack is reported and they mobilize resources and go to war against destruction. Having been on the front lines, we can say that is certainly similar. Things blow up, sometimes with spectacular results. Helicopters come roaring in. People die: Civilians and firefighters. It really is a war against an implacable enemy that does not care about conventions or limits. Firefighting is facing enormous forces much larger than any individual. You see something thirty feet high approaching you at thirty miles an hour, destroying everything its path and you begin to research your idea of a Deity very quickly.

Mr. Howitzer has gone looking for another boat to replace the missing Indomitable. Coincidentally with its disappearance also vanished the crew he had hired to work on it during dry dock and so he had hired private detectives in addition to leaning on his best connections to pressure the Coast Guard and other agencies to hunt for the missing 80 foot yacht with the possible answer that it had been stolen.

It was a very sad ensign who handed to Mr. Howitzer pieces of the Indomitable's equipage, life jackets, teak planks, and the nameplate from the stern in the Coast Guard yard to which the magnate had been called by the inscrutable message, "We have found some of your missing boat."

"And the crew?" asked Mr. Howitzer.

"I am afraid, sir, they probably did not fare so well by these signs and the violent storms of a few months ago." The Officer paused. "We will probably be needing dental records should anything of them be recovered."

"If they are dead, good riddance," huffed Mr. Howitzer. "Wastrels and ne'er do wells the lot of them." And with that Mr. Howitzer stomped away.

The wastrels and ne'er do wells were at this time sitting on the porch at the new Household in Woodacre where they had fetched up after many travails. Nobody knows how he does it, but Snuffles the Bum had found a supply for .99 cent per gallon wine somewhere in ritzy Marin and they were tucking into this redolent burgundy with zest. Given his talents for survival and knack for living on the cheap, Snuffles could be termed not a ne'er do well so much as an ingenious and hapless savant.

Summertime had arrived, as noted by the succession of heat waves that up north and inland had more bite to them than on the Island, which took some getting used to.

Many things in Marin took a great deal of getting used to. The habit of encouraging foliage to envelope sizzling electrical lines instead of clearing space around them for safety caused the engineer in Martini to revolt on a continuous basis. Naturally such treatment was bound to cause what happened in Sonoma last October, but people continued to bubble along in their Bliss from day to day regardless. Until the next fire.

Then there was the time Pahrump and Denby went in search of a coffee filter cone for the House kitchen not long after they arrived. In the East Bay and just about everywhere those injection molded filter cones made in the tens of millions by the Chinese and found just about everywhere in every CVS, every Walgreens, every grocery, every Dollar Store and every knick knack shop that sold tchotchkes for 99 cents was nowhere in Marin to be found. They come in either red or brown and generally, in other places, are considered more essential to have than a whisk.

They tried CVS. They tried Walgreens. They tried the hardware store. They tried the hoity toity Bed, Broom and Beyunt. They tried Safeway and Albertsnobs and Whole Foods. All to no avail.

Finally, in great despair and with a gleam of hope the two entered a Peets in San Anselmo; surely a place that sold coffee would have, if not the cheepie dollar thing, then one of those gold-plated mesh thingies that always sends a sludge to the bottom of the pot or cup but at least did the job half right.

Can I help you?" asked a blonde dreadlocked thing with about nine metal embeddments in her face.

"We would like a coffee filter cone."

"What is that?" asked the girl innocently.

"It is the plastic cone that holds the paper filter," offered Pahrump.

"I still do not understand what you are looking for," said the girl. "What does it do?"

"Look," said Denby. "You use it to make coffee. You boil the water and pour it into the cone that holds the filter."

"I have no idea what you are talking about" said the barista, who appeared quite honestly confused.

"Well what is all that stuff behind you?"

"Beg pardon?"

"What is in all those brown containers there?" Denby said, getting quite irritated.

The girl brightened up. This was a fact she knew. "That is all coffee!"

"Well what do you think people do with the coffee when they take it home?"

"Well, they grind up the beans," said the girl. "If we do not grind up the beans for them? Would you like to buy some coffee?"

"And after they grind the coffee they put it in the coffee filter and boil the water and it drips through. That is the thing we want!"

"Ohhhhhh!" Said the girl, a tiny light beginning to shine inside her. "I think you have to buy the entire coffee machine for that!"

"O for pete's sake!" Denby and Pahrump said together.

At this point an older employee came to the rescue to inform them that no, Peets did not carry any of those plastic cones -- they were too cheap to keep in stock on the shelves. Also they no longer carried the Goldtropfen plated things in favor of selling coffee machines. She was not sure where you could find the old coffee filter cones anymore. "Try Bed, Broom and Beyunt," she said.

"You want to buy a machine?" offered the helper.

"NO!" said the two Householders and they left with tears in their eyes, heading off into the sunset to find someplace that would provide an old fashioned homey coffee filter cone that once was so omnipresent.

Eventually they went to the library and secured a public computer so as to buy filter cones from Amazonia.com. Everything was fine and dandy and they were going to get their coffee in a proper cone and they were quite happy until they realized there are no postal shipments in unincorporated Silvan Acres -- the post office there does not have a delivery truck -- and also neither one of them owned a credit card.

Pahrump wound up making a trip over to the East Bay on his scooter where he got off at the first exit and, going into the first convenience store he found in West Oakland, bought three cones for .99 cents each and furthermore he went down the street to make the trip worth it and bought two chickens at 99 cents per pound, chickens that had not been free range or organic in the slightest way, but which lived unhappily in squalor and slums until they were led to the cruel slaughter happy to die and be out of this miserable life.

After picking up a few more things he sadly left civilization to return to Marin County where he was welcomed as a hero with a libation of 99 cent wine which all of them drank in the heat of the summer night under the wildly blooming tulip magnolia until the star of Venus burned above the crescent moon that hung cheerily above the benighted backwaters of West Marin and Denby strummed outlaw love songs, still playin'. Until everyone's gone free.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

JULY 16, 2018

THE FIREWORKS ARE HAILING OVER LITTLE EDEN TONIGHT

July 4th happened. Happy Birthday America!. This shot from the parade in Silvan Acres in California.

WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

We are all back from the Annual Island-Life Sabbatical, each intact and alive and without injuries this time. No one tried to kill any one of us and none of us engaged in life-threatening activities.

It was exhausting all the same what with the wretched conditions of flying in America today and the new reality of bad connections with just about every airline.

Many things appear to have happened during our absence, including altercations involving the Trump and Russians and minor spats at Silly Hall on the Island, but we do note that nothing essentially has changed. Fools still run amok in control of things and the general order continues to decay into rebellious inanity.

Lest one think that our Media, as imagined by Rump, has run astray, we did a survey of European media to find that the Europeans are fairly convinced across the board that Rump is a numbskull not representative of our Nation in general. That is two things about which to consider.

Lauren Do has taken to referring this entire Trump fiasco with all its attendant misery as "The National Horror Show" in article after article. We could not have put it any more succinctly.


I NEVER WANTED TO BE GROWN UP

So anyway, a heatwave has settled in after some windy weather and we have triple digits in the Valley and high eighties all along the coast. Up in the Marinlands we have seen ninty plus exacerbating our natural ill humor.

Denby went to a wedding held in the sweltering heat and played the introitus with the violinist named Norm beside the stolid stone walls of a fort until it was over and then went with Norm to get exceedingly drunk as is customary at such affairs. He had some connection with the groom's party, was a close friend of his mother, and nevertheless observed his name misspelled repeatedly on invitations and the reception seating, so he took it all in stride - the main thing was that the bride enjoyed herself and her parents, and so got thoroughly ripped along with a number of others and sat out on the embankment with an ex-marine with whom he traded stories of Saigon back in the day and they all watched the initial July 4th fireworks explode into the air, which did not bother Denby nor the ex-marine as much as it used to, while Norm staggered off to fall into the arms of a fetching bridesmaid who sported blonde and scarlet hair and a flamboyant disposition. The two were lip-locked and rolling in the surf down on the beach long before the night was over.

It was a magical evening of fireworks and rolling in the surf and Denby took his seat among the old men to observe the mating rituals of the young and young at heart.

When he returned to Silvan Acres, he almost took a wrong turn after the flights had been delayed and the trip extended past twelve hours into the morning, and would have found himself among familiar haunts on the Island, but he awoke in time and guided the ancient Toyota past the glaring gantries of the Port to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and thence onward to this new abode in the North Counties.

He dropped off the Groom's mother at her house in the hills and descended to the flats where he knocked back a couple shots of vodka before hitting the sack. He vaguely remembered the garter pulling and had something of a memory of a bouquet tossed, but he had never ever been in the game and had never come close to catching any of that. But now there were the pines, and the yipping of wild animals beyond the fence and the waving of exotic blooms.

The moon dropped below the pines and the coyotes began their hunt. Another working day loomed like a monster on the horizon.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property that is now a park, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

JUNE 24, 2018

EAST OF EDEN

.

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

The Island-Life sabbatical will take place next week so there will be no issue. If sufficient staff survive the exercise, then we will pick up again in July after the American Independence Day.

Of course, given the troubles with the Mafia and general bad luck, anything can happen.

Marin and Sonoma are famous for many things. Petaluma is also famous for being the arm-wrestling capitol for the world, put on the map by none other than Charles Schulz who until the recent fires owned a home there, and also hosting the annual Ugliest Dog in the World contest. Many have tried, but few are chosen.

An English bulldog from Minnesota noted for her low-hanging tongue and spectacular underbite is the world's ugliest dog. Zsa Zsa, a 9-year-old rescue from Anoka, won the 30th annual "World's Ugliest Dog" contest Saturday night in Petaluma, California.

Her owners, Megan and Jesse Brainard, won a massive pink trophy, $1,500, and a donated prize match for Underdog Rescue.

Zsa Zsa defeated 13 other dogs in this year's contest. Each contestant received a gift basket and a custom pet tag for their efforts.

In our heart of hearts, we always felt Minnesota has held something special. Now we know for sure.

Both Marin and Novato sent out Nixle alerts for a Red Flag Warning about the temperatures as we slid into the weekend. For Pride Weekend, temps hovered in the 90's in the City and spiked to 98 across the Bay, while triple digits were felt in the Valley, but even tho humidity remained about 15% the heat was less than anticipated and soon gave way on Sunday to moderate temps and cool breezes. Roving patrols kept tabs on the Oakland Hills and the ever vigilant CalFire monitored Sonoma and Marin grasslands.

Grass fires popped up all over the East Bay, but were contained after each consumed 40 acres a piece in Contra Costa, Livermore, San Ramon, and Sonoma.

If you think it is hot where you live, you just might be right.

A new report says several of the hottest cities in America — reside right here in the Golden State. With parts of California seeing temperatures reach the 90s and 100s this week, it was only appropriate that five of them were listed among the nation's 50 warmest cities, according to the financial news and opinion site 24/7 Wall St.

The report said Sacramento, Stockton, Redding, Fresno and Bakersfield are some of the hottest cities, with Bakersfield being the warmest in California. All cities reported average temps over 73 degrees and highs above 115.

The ranking of "city" was not discussed, for we are aware that towns in the Imperial valley regularly experience above ground temperatures exceeding 130 degrees, not including Death Valley.

 

GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK

No comedy or satire this issue. Just straightforward angry reporting. There will be no Island-Life issue next week. It is once again time for the annual Islandlife sabbatical and some needed medical procedures.

 

OVER 7 BRIDGES MUST YOU GO

So anyway. Once Denby got out of the San Rafael jail where he had been sent on account of taking part in Javier's birthday once again, he rested a while and then travelled by bus and ferry over to the Island to visit his old friend Edwin who had taken ill. Edwin had been one to contend with the Angry Elf some time ago, as Edwin had felt, perhaps foolishly, that the Island should not harbor drug dealers and thugs as a matter of course.

The Angry Elf had tried to enlist Edwin in his gang of thieves so as to take advantage of his computer expertise, but Edwin had recoiled with revulsion when he had learned of the Elf's true objectives.

As a result of Edwin's rejection, the Angry Elf had responded according to his character and absence of humanity. He had sworn that he would "make Edwin sorry," and had stomped off to make his plans.

The Angry Elf is a name that developed out of a movie starring Will Farrell, featuring a cameo performance by Richard Dinklater, an Oscar winner for his performance in The Station Agent.

In that movie with Will Farrell, Richard Dinklater had performed as an abusive children's book author who beats up the sweetly innocent character presented by Farrell.

The man called The Angry Elf, although not a true dwarf, is a man of diminiture stature and nasty disposition who freely confessed to running drugs for the Mob in Brooklyn and informing on a number of former friends whom he considered extremely stupid. He is subject to rages similar to that portrayed by Dinklater in the movie, hence his nickname.

His real name is Neal and he operates a loose affiliation of thugs, shoplifters, racketeers, arsonists, drug runners, and ID theft processors in the East Bay where he wound up after the Mob made it hot for him in Brooklyn.

He still owns a three story brownstone in Brooklyn, purchased with drug money.

When Denby arrived at Edwin's new apartment on the Island he found a place that was scattered with the signs of someone dealing with injury and ill health. An ice machine for bathing wounds was on the counter. Bottles of Percocet and Morphone littered the banquet.

Edwin was laid up with his leg in an immobilizer brace. He had gained by the look of him some 80 pounds.

The Angry Elf gang had made good on the promise to hurt him by breaking into his old apartment every single day for about nine months. They had ransacked his carefully tended file cabinets, run through all his personal dresser drawers, raided the refridgerator, and thoroughly upended every privat space, cabinet, drawer and cabinet they could find.

During this process, Edwin began gaining weight, his blood pressure went to 160/110 on a permanent basis, he began having spells of violent vomiting and extreme agitation, and his physician scratched his head as his CBC test results indicated wild liver abnormalities.

Because of extreme mood swings his 20 year relationship with a woman came to an end. He could not stand to hurt her any more, so he told her he was sleeping with someone else even though he wasn't.

People around him thought he was going crazy, but no.

When the Building Manager did an inspection of the Angry Elf's apartment while looking for the cause of leak that turned out to be coming from the unit next door on the third floor, he noticed large mason jars of powder and pills that turned out to be prednisone.

He had been healthy as a horse until after the Angry Elf swore he would make Edwin sorry.

The Angry Elf had wanted Edwin to be part of his gang on account of Edwin's skillset.

Gonna move into the numbers business, personal numbers like social security and credit cards. Nobody can trace where they go. No goods to be found on you if you get searched. I need a guy who knows computers. Capeche?

Edwin had told Neal in no uncertain terms to go eff himself.

You better not say that again, Neal had said.

Eff off. And eff off some more, Edwin said.

All right I know some nasty, cruel people. I am gonna make you sorry, Neal said, sounding more and more like James Cagney in the movie Public Enemy Number One.

Thats when the mysterious break-ins started occurring, day after day, going on for months. All of his filing cabinets and drawers were repeatedly ransacked. The bank started calling about strange charges in other states and he noticed wierd charges on the credit cards. Edwin started getting sick, vomiting, sweating, unable to sleep and then getting alternatively excessively drowsy, listless. His emotions roller-coastered to extreme highs followed by radical depression. He figured there was something wrong with the food in the fridge so he threw it all out, but still kept milk and some condiments in the trays.

He started eating only stuff out of cans and ramen noodles, and started gaining weight even though he was eating less. Sometimes he did not finish the canned stew and put the leftovers in the fridge, but this did not seem to work and he got sick again. His doc at Kaiser put him through a number of blood tests and found liver function abnormalities as well as kidney problems. His doc wanted to know if he was drinking hard liquor but he wasn't.

All this time he was getting wierd hang-up phone calls night and day so he turned off the ringer and stopped answering the phone, letting the machine take the calls.

That is when the door started opening around the corner as he sat in the reading chair. He would stand up and shout, "who is there!" and the door would slam shut.

Basically, the Angry Evil was systematically terrorizing and poisoning Edwin to death; drugs remained Neal's final recourse to revenge. Terror was his main weapon in all dealings with all people.

Edwin did go to the police, but each time he called and each time he visited, cops on the Angry Elf's payroll intercepted the contacts.

"I thought he hated you because you are German," said Denby.

"I am not German," said Edwin. "Exclusively."

"Everybody thought you were," said Denby.

"Because I spoke Deutsch? Wo schua putong whya," said Edwin. "Je parle aussi Francaise. Does this make me Chinese? Or Canadian? Just because I speak a language? People are stupid and looking for another Guy Falkes effigy to burn all the time. They are just looking for demons on which to offload their own guilt. Just look at the current rage against refugees."

"So what are you?"

"I am hyphenated like the majority of America. My grandmother came out of Germany as a sole survivor Jew."

"You are Jewish?!"

"A genuine German-Jew. One whose family fought against Hitler from the beginning until only my Oma was left alive."

"Neal does not know this. . . ".

"Of course not. He is a sociopath filled with rage against all of humanity and is looking to blame any convenient article in his path for his own failures as a human being. And he has many failures, I can say that. Criminals like Meyer Lansky always feel personally victimized by society at large for some vague affront. And so Lansky and John Wayne Gacy go about taking "revenge" on the rest of us. And all the while people say "what a nice guy he is! He donates to the charity!"."

"What about that Japanese woman to whom Neal gave your apartment keys?"

"She was just a distraction looking for personal info they could sell on the Dark Web. Its his style to get a flunky to do the obvious work so that if ever there was an investigation, she would be the one to take the hit. "

"So are you sorry about saying "eff you" to this scumbag?"."

"Not a bit. So many people came up to me afterwards to say thank you. They said T------f needs to be told 'eff you' more often."

"So why don't they do it? Did you not ask them?"

"Of course. They said they are afraid of T------f."

"I am surprised to hear you mention his name. Usually we just call him the Angry Elf."

"I am a dead man. The poison he has given me will kill me. He has broken the one promise he made to everybody -- he has committed murder. There is nothing else he can do to me. Soon I will be dead and this curse will fall upon his family: may nothing they plant ever flower. May all his family's seeds wither and his line pass into oblivion with only the soiled family name to echo after him."

"You know in this industry of Art we do not mention names. Ever. That is a crime with us. We do not do that."

"I hear so much about law and crime and nothing about the crimes done to me. Fuck T------f's name. He soiled his family's name when he first went into dealing drugs in Brooklyn and he destroyed it by way of murder. Murder is supposed to be the Capital crime, never mind the crimes of which I supposedly was accused by nameless accusers, vague accusations that had no basis. This man has committed murder many times over. I die pronouncing it."

Denby left his friend's apartment in the East End, knowing that he would not come back again to this haunted place. The Island had become dangerous, reptilian. An overpopulated place fraught with danger. It had ceased being a refuge long ago and he looked back at the Golden City from the windows of the ferry, longing for a home that was long lost, not so much different from any refugee fleeing destruction in the land that had once been his home.

Once he descended from the bus in Silvan Acres, he saw fawns bounding off into the murky shadows, jackrabbits and scurrying things that harbored no evil. He was returned to the new place that was now home. The old one had been destroyed by an angry spirit and there is no going home again. Home is a river, always flowing, changing, undergoing mutations. You can look through the windows, but there is no egress or ingress. Home is a place enclosed by the spherical prison of Time.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property that is now a park, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

JUNE 17, 2018

BOOT SCOOT SHUFFLE

This week's image, appropriate for Father's Day, is courtesy of long-time Island Lifer CBTaylor, who is quite a talented artist living in the Gold Coast area on a street with a bunch of lunatics, a small island of sanity in herself. Some of us would like to see her do an exhibit of her work, so show the gal some love if you happen to pass through the Gold Coast in the vicinity of where Vines and the old Pagano's Hardware used to be.

WE PRINT ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

A fellow died offshore here recently. A kite surfer smacked into the shallow water off shore and was pulled out by a fellow surfer who noticed something amiss. A bystander performed CPR until the ambulance arrived, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

The deceased kite surfer has been identified as Andres Caicedo, of Walnut Creek, according to the Alameda County Coroner’s Office. He was 72 years young.

 

A BOY NAMED SUE

So anyway. It was Father's Day, or something like it. Mother's Day is sacrosanct and Kid's Day is everyday as we all know. Or have been told. Fathers get short shrift on most days and do not really have any sort of Tradition that preserves the idea of fatherhood in this country. Probably due to the Patriarchal Hegemony or something like that, which obviates any special day. Go figure.

This year the Island-Life community has been fractured by the triple duplicity of the Night of Shattered Fires, the Angry Elf gang's Nasty triumphalism, and the general divisiveness of the Country.

It was difficult to get the traditional brunch together with people now scattered from the Island, so each family handled the day according to its lights. Little Adam made a breakfast in bed, with some help from Marlene, for Andre, who had become his foster father. Together they went out for a walk in the woods of Silvan Acres, as taking a walk is pretty much all there is to do in Western Marin. There is a movie theatre in Fairfax and about two restaurants in the San Geronimo valley, and that is pretty much all there is to do for entertainment.

After lights had gone down, Andre and Little Adam sat out on the porch and listened to the coyotes come up close across the street, yipping and howling where the wild turkeys had formerly been hanging out.

Bonkers and Wickiwup barked with great enthusiasm, but the fence was kept closed against the depredations of deer and racoon, as far as such defences could suffice.

Deer in Silvan Acres were considered to be pretty much rats with antlers for they could decimate a garden in short time. Wild turkeys tore up the landscaping and so whatever the coyotes found to satisfy themselves was all right for most folks in the area. You could not shoot them, for they were considered Protected, same as the damn turkeys. But everybody wanted to.

Andre and Little Adam had a discussion about these creatures, about which the urban punk Andre knew nothing but promised to learn via Google as soon as possible. The conversation about coyotes between Adam and Andre pretty much followed the template about fathers and sons discussing mysterious things established since time immemorial.

How come they howl like that, dad?

I guess they got something to say and have no other way to say it.

I guess they must be happy or something . . .

I guess so. They are certainly happy howling like that.

Well ... what they be howling about all the time? Did they just kill a turkey?

I don't know, Adam. Coyotes just do that. Maybe out of celebration. I don't know.

I sure would like to know exactly.

You may find just walking up to a group of them and asking is not going to get you very far. Pretty much the same in the city for the same kind of folks. Which reminds me; you cannot be going about with your business about slip knives and dirty fighting here in Marin. These people are not used to that kind of thing.

Awww Andreeeeey. . . .

This place is different from West Oakland. You gotta behave around here. No more flick knives now. And no more talk about ho's and gangbangers and freaks. That has to stop. These people don't know about any of that where we come from.

Ok Andre.

In a sense, we are immigrants, come from some place pretty different. We got to blend in somehow to survive. Do better than just survival is what it is all about.

Ok Andre. Pause. You be the best dad ever.

You know I am not your real dad, Adam. But I care for you just the same.

My real dad was a skank. He threw me from the car.

Sorry about that my friend. But you know you got a home with me and Marlene wherever we go.

Pause

Adam got up and gave Andre a hug. You be the best dad ever! he said.

The sun went down and all the twilight creatures came out to wander the road and the meadow beyond. The moon was a silver sharp crescent and a single bright star burned high above it.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property that is now a park, and die between the Edwardian house-rows as the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

JUNE 9, 2018

YEAR OF THE CAT

This image courtesy of Carol from up north around Willits as she was taking a walk. She mentioned the lion had cubs with her, and was as a result, circumspect.

Glad all parties came out of the encounter unharmed


LOOK WHAT TIME HAS DONE TO US

So anyway, Rolf has been listening to old songs on his iPod shuffle while at work and during the long arduous process of getting there by way of bicycle to bus to SF and back by bus each day. He downloaded entire concerts by Nena, Peter Maffay and Udo Lindenberg in an effort to capture some sense of positivity, for those guys in the sixties and seventies and eighties strove to find a core of happiness and centeredness amid the ruins of what had been a nation harnessed by an evil power governing long enough to cause total destruction to rain down for several generations.

Now, after the terrible Night of Shattered Fires on the Island, Rolf was living with the Household of Marlene and Andre in the north county of Marin, a foreign land with strange peoples and strange language once again a refugee. Rolph had seen his best friend shot down by the Grenzepolizei Vopos and his mother commit suicide off the Speebruecke, and had survived by his own wits as an orphaned child on the streets in the massive city of Berlin for years, so he was no stranger to hard times. Now, living in Marin, he had a chance to breath and look around him and see what was there.

Marin, it must be said, was nothing like Berlin, for Berlin housed more than five times as many people within its fabled "walls".

There is a place along the Nicasio Road where a memorial stands under the shade of an acacia tree and there Rolph was wont to go and climb up from that place where a trail passed on behind a gate to the top of the hill and look out onto what is the San Geronimo Valley and a golf course that is in much dispute, just like the bicycle bridge back home, home on the Island as he thought of it, and he would sit there and ponder things the way people do. Time was passing and he had seen much death and disarray and had nothing to show for it but memories.

He wondered about that Suan and if she was worth the effort, or even if he had any effort left in him after so many years. And so far away Suan was having similar thoughts. What if daddy found out I was taking up with a White? And a German at that. A German! Hell we fought against them and gave our lives because those Germans were worse than the Ofay at home! Hell, girl what are you thinking?!

I haves problems enough without worrying about some boy with blue eyes.

And of course all of us, wonder each day how to manage. Is not Love trouble enough with all the troubles it brings? For Pete's sake, let us consider.

That is right; we will just rationally decide what to do about Love and come to some very reasonable decisions. And it will all be decided. Yes, you just go ahead and do that.

Now that is decided, let's get on to Javier's birthday celebration.

It was early June and Javier was due for a birthday: his sixtieth. No one in Marin knew what to expect. On the Island and the East Bay, hospitals for miles in all directions stocked up on gauze, burn ointment, sutures, and made sure telemetry nurses would be available for overtime.

Meanwhile, the local ERs and hospitals had no warning something was about to happen. Something serious.

Sweet Marin had not a fucking clue what was to happen.

The gang all gathered out in the meadow with the Editor's Tree to celebrate, cautiously, Javier's birthday, for it would be today he turned sixty. It is difficult to imagine how such a rake who spent most of his life acting like a child could turn sixty quite suddenly, for it seemed only yesterday he was gamboling about like a young goat.

The Household gathered at the meadow with the Editor Tree to have a picnic to celebrate Javier's sixtieth. It is difficult to comprehend how the old guy managed to keep on galloping around like a young centaur, but here was one in whom the Latin blood remained hot as the hell to which he undoubtedly would go some day for all his sins. Just the opposite in temperament was Xavier, a good, devout, hard-working boy from Sinaloa. Then there was Jose, a well-meaning fellow who variously saved the day at times with cost to himself and variously got into trouble for no good reason because of Javier.

Occasional Quentin was there, still Occasional because he occasionally slept underneath the coffeetable when not sleeping outside. Snuffles the Bum completed the male side with the dark-haired Melinda, who was now one of Javier's girlfriends, attending as the distaff side of things. Missy Moonbeam, a neighbor who lived in one of the flatboard farmhouse-style places on the flats came over and joined them, dancing around with a swirling tie-dye skirt and long hair in braids. And Constance Washburn, coming from Lagunitas to visit her friend Beatrice got out of her car and showed them all the Solstice Dance of Stonehenge, which she had of late visited, and she got back in her car and drove away.

Martini appeared and set off some carefully tended homemade fireworks.

Jose brought out a jug of soapwater and started blowing bubbles that wafted above and through the trees and among the hummingbirds which began to flock all around with iridescent wings. Even Denby came down to play a set with his guitar before shoving off to visit a sick friend. And they were all there enjoying themselves with gallons of jug wine and grooving to the mixtapes on the boombox and generally having all of themselves a very fine time and it seemed this year nothing bad could happen with the sun shining and the trees waving and the birds doing their birdland songs and life in Marin-land did not seem so bad as usual despite its aggravations of which there are many.

And the neighbors peered from between their curtains and people chose to walk their dogs so as to have an excuse to trot on by for a good gawk at these newcomers and some thought, "It is just some old Hippie thing." They are coming back because of the same reasons they came in the firstplace - pervasive national idiocy, foolish wars with guns, and cheap drugs and encouragement to foolishness, both peaceful and otherwise. And some said, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" and some younger folks groaned and said, "O, no, no, no!", feeling the whole Hippie thing had been overwrought and foisted on succeeding generations far too long, so it became a general symbol of America in these times, this Javier's Birthday, with contention and disagreement and division starting up in the livingrooms and bedrooms of the tiny hamlet of Silvan Acres.

For a long time Marin-Land has been a place where the Hippie concept has persisted in the minds and souls of many individuals who are sheltered from the economic and social realties of the world outside. The same must be said for those dour, sour, grasping individuals who have acquired too much wealth too quickly and easily such that they are able, by way of being sheltered, to infest the County with their mugwump, self-inflated opinions.

The rest of Marin-Land consists of average people just trying to pay the rent or the mortgage and see their kids survive to an age where they can fend for themselves and seek a better life elsewhere. And hopefully return to the old homestead.

Among these are scads of dog walkers -- more dogs per capita than anywhere else -- and of these dogs there are big dogs, middle dogs, small dogs, miniscule dogs, and an unfortunate number of poodles.

In short, Marin-Land is pretty much like small-town America, but with an infection of Millionaires and Billionaires.

So anyway, everybody was having a good time when a black sedan pulled up in the round-about near the willow-draped busstop and out strode a fierce-looking woman with red hair, a red tube top, a short black skirt and high heels, waving a pistol in hands well bedecked with red laquer fingernails.

"O no, it is Roxanne!" Javier said.

The first bullet wanged off of the BBQ, sending sparks into the dry grass, and the next neatly parted Jose's hair as Javier dove down and Raquel continued to shoot wildly, perforating tree limbs, chairs, ice chests, and the windows of cars parked across the street until one bullet smashed the wine jug in the hand of Snuffles, who grabbed up a branch and, this hapless, peaceable, destroyed human being, smashed the hand of Raquel to cause the gun to fly off into the grass where Jose retrieved it only to accidentally shoot himself in the foot.

Fortunately it was a .22 caliber.

"How the hell could you have enraged women in Marin so quickly?" asked Martini.

"Things just happen," Javier said, underneath a table.

Meanwhile a small grass fire had started to smolder, sending black plumes upward.

"Tu la Puta!" shouted Raquel in the face of Melinda, who responded by grabbing the hair of Raquel and kneeing her in the stomach. This resulted in Raquel throwing a number of roundhouse punches to the side of Melinda and the entire affair soon descending into an atavistic orgy of violence. Missy Moonbeam, in protest of this horrid violence, tore off all of her clothes. Mavis Mudge, stopped to exclaim, "All of you are interfering with my Bliss!" She then called the Sheriff, among a number of others, who soon arrived in several cars with flashing lights for this being the greatest crime that had ever happened in Silvan Acres, and everyone was promptly arrested for indecent exposure and reckless endangerment.

The Island-Life Editor came out and saw his entire staff being loaded into paddy wagons and ambulances and realized that once again, due to Javier's birthday, the issue would be delayed.

The sun sank behind the hills as a local cold front moved on to assail other states to the East and cause a different sort of misery. The new Editor faced out into the hillside of his place where wild turkeys moved in the faded light. "Lord, how did I ever wind up in such a charmed and benighted placed?" But God says nothing back; I told you so.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay'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, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property that is now a park, and die between the Edwardian house-rows as the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

JUNE 3, 2018

WATASHIWA SOKONI. WATASHIWA ASOBU. MEWOTOJI.

This mural is is the Gold Coast and is supplied by the artist named Carol. Actually the wall presents Korean, not Japanese, but we suspect the sentiment is similar. There is a big Falun Gong collection of expatriots that live on the Island. As will all Dissenters of Peace, they are most welcome to our community.

DON'T YOU EVER GET ELECTED (YOU SURELY WILL GO STRAIGHT TO HELL)

Tuesday is Primary election day in eight states around the Union, which feels less and less unionized than fractured and divided these days. California has a smattering of Statewide Propositions plus a few regional measures, but we suspect serious proponents are reserving efforts for the big Kahuna in November. Feinstein refuses to retire, so we have her once again in a position difficult to dislodge because her seniority grants the State a lot of perks in Congress. Newsome seems a shoe-in if it were not for the plethora of Democratic idiots who plan on splitting the vote to a dangerous extreme that just might result in two lousy Republicans running against each other because of the wacky ranked-choice voting system here. If that happens, pity the fool that wins in a solidly Blue state. He will be pilloried unmercifully until he creeps home each day to cry in his stale beer.

There is no Arnold to step up to the plate this time. Cox is a fool and frankly we cannot remember the other guy's name. It really is up to Newsome or that guy from LA, which makes more sense as a sort of North\South contest, which has been the hallmark of politics in the Golden State for some 500 years. Certainly before the Americans came and pretended to know about everything.

We are not going to present a cheat sheet or a roster of recommendations this time, as we hope to be better prepared in November. For the Big Kahuna.

Voters head to the polls in California, Montana, Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota on Tuesday.

We will say that organizers to whom we have spoken feel there is a new energy in places that were consider ed hopeless losses with no possiblity of an ice cube in hell of anything progressive happening now showing promise. Continuous murders of children in schoolrooms seems to have had a large effect as well as the grandiose manner of the Commander in Thief.

LOOK AT WHAT TIME HAS DONE TO US

So anyway, all the schools held graduations, ejecting the youth into the damaged environment ruled by their elders. At Island High, Mr. Lithgow stood there during the entire ceremony with a garden hose, a bucket, and gloves, ready for any Senior prank that may announce the memorable qualities of the Class of 2018. He also had the foresight to arrange a switch that would cut electrical power to the entire area. As in years past he and Sister Profundity from the Church and Pastor Milque 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.

Lisa Cornatis was the Valedictorian and the class let her get through the majority of her speech which began something like, "I am Lisa, chosen to be the Valedictorian for the Class of 2018. Valedictorian comes from the Latin Vale, which can be both a greeting and a farewell. It is fitting that today, as we bid farewell to comrades, teachers, the school that housed us, lovers and friends, we also welcome the new life that awaits. Vale to this new life, new jobs and new friends and new careers, I say with lifting hope that soars like a bird above our trouble land . . . ".

It was quite a nice speech, but towards the end, as Lisa said, "So my fellow students, as this commencement ends, curious reversal of meanings, yes?, let us welcome our new lives by saying 'vale civitatus, vale . . .". Suddenly from among the bleachers arose flocks of pigeons, doves, starlings, and balloons. They appeared out of nowhere, as it seemed, coming from underneath hundreds of gowns. Someone opened a cage beneath the bleachers, letting loose a flock of thousands of bats among the audience, which cause a fair amount of consternation. As the Director asked that grads please refrain from tossing their caps into the air, the grads all to a man, woman and animal did exactly that.

The affair dissolved into cacophany quickly after that.

In the Old Same Place Bar there was some consternation and mixed joy. People celebrated at Ireland's Dublin Castle on Saturday, May 26, after it was announced that voters in the country had decided to repeal the Eighth Amendment, which bans abortion unless there is a "real and substantial risk" to the mother's life. Naturally there were divisions of opinion on the subject, for this concerned Ireland and Ireland is never considered without divisions of opinon.

Padraic stomped around in great disgust and Dawn stomped around in great joy for all the liberation that was in it and it fell to Suzie to say, for goodness sake would you please.

Well, that is how it was and so we shall leave that untender scene to further developments.

"The pope now, the pope if he came would be horrified," said Padraic.

"Ah you oughta hold on to them two engines between your legs," Dawn said. "Govern what belongs to ya or cut it away!"

"For goodness sake and goodness sake," Suzie said. "Please hold the peace."

Papoon, the Somewhat Liberal candidate was sitting at the bar with Babar, the Highly Conservative candidate who always wore two pairs of pants. "It is not like the old days, my friend," Babar said sadly.

"No, it is not," agreed Papoon. "We do not have two parties any more, but a plethora of idiots in contention."

The two of them looked over to where Billy Felcher of the Pee Tardy Party was pounding the table for emphasis. "Everyone must pay their own way!" he shouted. "No more entitlements!"

"What do you think of that fellow," Papoon said.

"I find his style jejune," Babar said. "And his general behavior reprehensible."

"As for the immigrant kids," Felcher said. "Bring back waterboarding. Then send them back on their own dime! Put them in a factory workhouse making parts for American cars like Ford, GM and Audi!"

The moon arose and poll workers at ROV slaved into the wee hours.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

MAY 28, 2018

POPPIES! POPPIES!

Now is the season when the Golden State flower erupts everywhere. Here is part of an entire hillside strewn with golden poppies announcing the Summer with fanfare.


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

Latterly the discussion among folks who care how the news media that used to be the goto place for what is going on has turned into a compendium of relentless obsessives insisting on telling us what the news means.

Fox News, of course, has always been a heavily slanted network oriented to pushing a message or messages in support of what used to be called Conservative causes. CNN has shifted from the org that used to provided dispassionate reportage to a place that worries the Trump whatever like a terrier refusing to let go of a favorite bone, letting real and important stories swirl down the drain. Other news is out there besides Trump, and even though this would surprise Trump and even though his spirit might have engendered the shocking deficiencies in Federal government now outstanding, the world is not all about Trump and Russia.

Trump is clearly at war with truth and news media reportage in particular. One way to parry that thrust is to shove aside reporting every single shocking tweet the man sends. Just ignore him and he will vaporize like bee pee on cigarette paper. He is going to be outrageous. He will continue to say loud outrageous things. But these things do not matter. Get to the Russian thing when the thing has something to report and stop obsessing.

Fox has successfully turned CNN into the anti-FOX network which now issues homilies that are just as stuffed pious as the Fox excreta to the point that people now say, "well it looks like they are all a devil's bargain with the truth and we can trust nobody now". Which is precisely the agenda FOX has in mind.

In local news, it is interesting to note that Marin officials were "clearing out" a homeless encampment recently because of reports of attacks along a hiking trail, an encampment which already had been "cleared out" from another location. At the same time we observe dispassionately the "clearing out" once again of another encampment at the Union Point Park. Lauren Do has a blog entry on the subject and the curious hypocrisy involved wherein people who otherwise would consider themselves "liberal" enthusiastically support eviction of hapless individuals.

Now the housing situation has gotten to obscene proportions, with the rents the way they are exceeding all boundaries of humanity, forcing people to live in tent cities, resulting in numerous shoving piles of humanity around without finding any resolution to the problem.

THEN CAME THE LAST DAYS OF MAY

So anyway. The Season advanced with a profusion of poppies everywhere. On every corner, every plot, scads of golden poppies waved their crowns. Up on Bear Lake in Minnesota, the Cadillac parked on the ice had broken through amid many wagers. No one was sure what happened to these cars that year after year had been left out on the frozen lake surface only to plunge into the murky depths when the weather had warmed enough to soften the crust. Some said that it was Karl Krepsbach of Karl's Pretty Good Garage that used a tow truck and cables to haul them out to be disposed of properly, ever mindful of environmental concerns, but then, few people cared and for all we know there exists a pile of decades worth of Cadillacs and coupe de villes that sit there on the lake bottom, ready to proffer some kind of puzzle to archeology students thousands of years hence.

Whatever.

It got windy on the Island this past week, which led to some sultry air as the weekend approached. Reports of chill temps, rain and overcast skies coming from Tahoe kept people home this Memorial Day weekend.

The usual lot gathered out at the toy airplane field near Mt. Trashmore on Bay Farm Island. The WWII vets wore their caps announcing this or that ship which had sailed. The Choisin Few wore their jackets. Nammies wore their rags provided as was the manner of discharge.

Gulf war vets wore clean and neatly pressed camo fatigues.

Each age has its warriors because each age suffers the indignity of politicians starting another conflict that vainly promises to end all wars. Meanwhile our sons and daughters, friends and neighbors march off to die for another cause determined by people who have nothing to lose. Then, in the last days of May, the flags all fly at half mast to celebrate the ones who died and preserve the Past. Taps blew and guys made speeches. In the end, nothing would bring back those who had been found fallen where they lay. Some intact and some not. And no stupid speech of false gratitude from people who never risked anything at all in their lives will recompense those losses.

The Editor's brother did not go to any of these for the male bonding and the camaraderie. He had never felt a part of the Navy, but some kind of lugnut stuck in a vast apparatus that had its own creaky momentum, an apparatus stuffed with stupid orders and rules and nonsensical procedures to follow. He remembered the '67 fire that killed so many as a FUBAR operation. All that live ordinance, massive disorganization, and the pilots flying 150 missions in a matter of hours meant something was bound to happen.

Denby stood out in the yard as night fell, thinking about Johnny and Joe who both signed up underage. Joe got discovered and sent back with a summary discharge with no recognition after seeing combat and surviving. No recognition meant no wall, no pension, no acknowledgment of having served in the Corps.

Johnny was not so lucky. He went out on point at Ap Ba and was gunned down after calling out "VC on the trail!".

Raymond, who lived across the street, existed in a bureaucratic limbo after being killed in Vietnam, until family pressure earned his name placement on the Memorial Wall.

That is the nature of that Vietnam conflict, that families have to argue and pressure and persuade to have their fallen sons memorialized.

Then came the last days of May. The Editor's son remembers. So does Denby. The Editor himself remains absent for comment. Parades and flags and salutes happen everywhere and there is always so much gratitude. When it's peace it is we, we, we, but when the bullets fly, it becomes me, me, me. So quoth the officer who drove Admiral Nimitz around in a limo as the man went slowly mad. And that officer now reclines with bones dissolving because of being made to stand on watch as the Bikini A-bomb exploded.

Next time you pick a war to resolve political issues, send your own family into the morass and sure enough, it will turn out different.

As the nearly full moon rose, Denby stood in the glade with the Editor Tree while all around him swirled the images of memory that were now History. These images, however were those of people he had known. The fog crept over the ridge beyond and he recalled Johnny saying how he wanted to be respected as a super hero. So that is why he volunteered that fateful day to go out on point at Ap Ba. Now after years and years and conflict after conflict there still was war in all of its ugliness and greed. And the mist rose up around Denby's feet as if to embrace him by some power that still possessed empathy.

This is really the thing to think about each Decoration Day: how can we stop the old ones from starting another foolish war so that we can grieve without interruption our losses from the last one that was finished only a short while ago. Until then we must tell our children, "Do not heed the call-up."

It's up to you, not to heed the call up
And you must not act, the way you were brought up
Who knows the reasons, why you have grown up?
Who knows the plans or why they were drawn up?

It's up to you, not to heed the call up
I don't want to die
It's up to you, not to hear the call up
I don't want to kill

For he who will die
Is he who will kill?
Maybe I want to see the wheatfields
Over Kiev and down to the sea

(Chorus 2)

All the young people down the ages
They gladly marched off to die
Proud city father used to watch them
Tears in their eyes

(Chorus 2)

For he who will die
Is he who will kill?

There is a rose, that I want to live for
Although, God knows, I may not have met her
There is a dance and I should be with her
There is a town, unlike any other

It's up to you not to hear the call up
And you must not act, the way you were brought up
Who gives you work, why should you do it?
At fifty five minutes past eleven, there is a rose

It's up to you not to hear the call up (x2)
I don't want to die
There is a rose, that I want to live for
It's up to you not to hear the call up

The Clash

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

MAY 20, 2018

HERE COMES THE SUN, LITTLE DARLIN'

Actually this image is of a sunset along the Strand as captured by our Island-Life photog Tammy. The masts of ships moored in the Marina beyond Crab Cove can be seen clearly outlined in front of the famous fogbank.

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

Some of you may know there is a Primary election coming up. VBM folks already got theirs so if you want yours on June 5, start checking out the voter guides out there. One good one was drawn up by the folks in Lala land Hollywood. Do not laugh. That place hosts now some 32 million folks so there are definitely power brokers in action. Go to https://patch.com/california/hollywood/california-propositions-explained-voter-guide-2018
to get some help on explaining things.

What is our take on the Propositions? Pretty much yes on all of them. Either there is no argument against any one of them or the people opposed are the usual cranks who would obstruct anything simply on principle. Hate to summarize a log of verbiage, but really that is what it all amounts to. All of the Props are good ideas and most of them bipartisan agreements.

As for State and district offices, the way the country is now, it is all decided anyway. Why argue? We do not personally like Feinstein, but look at what is facing her in this day and age. There remains the big cahuna the main election in November, so Gavin can coast up to that contest for Governator.

Hey, remember the last time we elected a Republican Gropenator? Did not go over so well did it. He had to go hat in hand begging to DC which snubbed him royally. Then there was forgettable Pete Wilson before him. Do not forget these things, people of the Golden State.

One driver was arrested and another 21 drivers were cited during a DUI checkpoint in Marin County. The checkpoint, which took place on De Long Avenue and Redwood Boulevard, also nabbed a Petaluma resident wanted on an outstanding warrant, police said.

Police said more than 1,600 vehicles went through the checkpoint.

Drivers caught driving impaired can expect the impact of a DUI arrest to include jail time, fines, fees, DUI classes, other expenses that can exceed $10,000.

In Novato Police responded to reports of gunshots only to discover that the noise was produced by a fellow trying to tune the carburetors in his truck which began to backfire. Clearly these folks have not lived in the East Bay.

NOTICE: we have started getting Nixle alerts so expect to get more reportage in succeeding issues of Island-Life.

LOVE SAYS NOTHING BACK, BUT I TOLD YOU SO

So anyway. Denby got called to the new Island-Life offices in Silvan Acres and the new Editor was wroth.

What is up with all this stuff, Mister! Poodleshoots and crossings to Hell and back, this Percy running about in an expensive antique car with a naked woman, and some character named Euphonia who apparently drowned in the Bay amid most strange circumstances and nobody went to look for her!

Ah, yes Euphonia, I remember her well, poor soul. Everyone treated here just like a machine . . . .

She WAS a machine! Nevermind. That was in 2013. Now we have this thing called Javier's Birthday coming up and I am worried about Liability issues here. It seems people always get severely injured on this event.

That is correct. If I were you I would consider a brief visit to Tenerife, the Canary Islands, or someplace equally as remote. For your health.

Bosh and poppycock! This is all rubbish! I have to rebuild some kind of news organization here and what do I have to work with, but a bunch of nincompoops, incompetents, ne'er do wells and punks!

That about sums it up, I would agree, Denby said amiably.

This is insupportable and I will enforce discipline upon this motley crew!

You know, you are a lot like your brother . . . .

Nonsense! I hate you!. That is what they said back then, but there is one important difference -- my brother was a Marine and I shall be Navy until the day they drag my rotten carcass into some kind of rotten grave. We are different, no matter what my mother ever said. Or anybody else. Where is the scotch kept around here?

Uh, whatever, Denby said. I think I would look in the lower left hand drawer of that desk. . . .

After this experience Denby went out into the Glad to face the Editor Tree. It was a breezy evening with all the branches stirring and the air getting chill. Mists began their descent through the vales and ravines that surrounded the valley that enclosed Silvan Acres.

Pahrump joined him along with Javier and Martini with a jug of cheap wine. They all sat there in the glade as the sun went down behind the ridgetop.

Denby stood up and approached the tree.

Any chance of you coming back? Like sometime in the future maybe?

The wind blew and the branches tossed, but other than the sound of wind there was no audible response. It was hard to tell if the agitation of the tree was caused by the wind or something else and Denby did not know what it meant, if anything.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

MAY 13, 2018

HORSEMAN, PASS BY

Marin is full of roadside curiosities. Here we have a simple memorial arranged beside someone's driveway. No idea who John T. Pell was, but we do know he served 4 years in the Air Force and was originally from Clinton, IA. You could do worse than have a memorial that refreshes the local kids on a hot day.


MOTHER'S LITTLE HELPER

So anyway. The transplanted Household of Marlene and Andre, which had relocated to Marin, got together with residents of the Island who still held on against the filty stream of greed and venality at the old Mama's Royal Cafe in Oaktown.

Suzie with Dawn, along with Amy Holliday, Gilberto Ameida with with his mother, Marvin of Marvin's Merkins (Put a Merkin in your Firkin!) with his mother, Ms.Light who worked with Larry Larch as part of Pushy People Anonymous (PPA) was there with Rolfy the terrier and her mother, and from the transplanted community there appeared Tipitina alone, Sally, Marlene with Andre, and Sarah, who had children but none of whom showed up. Marlene got breakfast in bed, served by Little Adam because she pretty much fills the mother role for the guy these days, but she showed up with Andre and Little Adam.

The gals at Mama's shoved a couple tables together to accomodate them all and they promised to be quick in and out on account of the special day that was Mother's Day all over the place and the line to get in went almost around the block. But brunch at Mama's Royal Cafe is a kind of Oaktown Tradition and been so since 1974.

LIttle Adam was all amazed about the attention being paid to Mothers everywhere.

That's because she is the one that brought you into the world, Mrs. Light said over her elegant pince nez. Her silver hair had a touch of blue tint.

O heck no, LIttle Adam said. My real mom be a skanky ho' doin' meth and X all the time and bein' crunk. Marlene be the best.

Adam, don't talk about your old mom, Andre said.

Awww. She be crackhead threw me in the street. And you be dope more than that wanksta. Glad he gone bye bye Felicia.

Let's change the subject, Marlene said.

And so how is school, said Mrs. Light, with the understanding there were a few issues here.

He is doing very well, Marlene said proudly. He has been tutoring some of the kids in math.

That is a sign of strength and high intelligence, said Mrs. Light.

Yeah, I got Nilo to stop punching the walls of his room, Adam said.

Must be hard on the furnishings, said Mrs. Light.

Nah, his room walls be cinderblock. But he wasn't paying no attention. And he kept beating up the other kids; he was gonna get throwed out. I said, Nilo you like going from school to school all the time? What about the friends you never see again? You gotta stop that. Its no fun always bein' on the outside.

The best education is to be a good example, said Mrs. Light. That is, she said in a creaky voice, the real OC.

What? said Adam, Marlene and Andre simultaneously.

I mean, said Mrs. Light, you gave him the four one one. That is good. Now then, what about the Almeida family? What is going on my dear Gilberto and how are the chickens about whom I have heard so much . . . ?

The chickens were going great guns, but as it turned out during conversation many who had lived all their lives on the Island were finding the changes and the land greed becoming more and more onerous. Then there was the problem of the Angry Elf gang causing intermittent misery. Families who had maintained businesses for three generations were packing up and leaving. The ones who still remained asked about life in the country of Chief Marin and were told it was not so great on account of high prices, higher rents, unreasonable people, ill-stocked stores and few advantages other than Beauty. There, the Northern counties held a clear advantage.

On the Island the Disputed Bicycle Bridge had faded in memory in favor of the Disputed Bicycle Paths, which provided sufficient acrimony and entertainment for all those who observed the shenanigans. The road along the Strand had become so congested with obstacles by way of favoring bicycles and pedestrians with concrete-guarded impediments that many figured it was all part of the master plan to make it impossible to drive at all down there, and so force the fast-moving yuppies to move away and everyone else to take to two wheels.

Well, said Mrs. Light, I shall have to dust off my old Raleigh with the training wheels to get about. Perhaps I can also get a terrier to pull me along with the basket loaded with groceries.

Rolphy, laying under the table, barked at this notion.

Mrs. Almeida thought that an intriguing idea, but perhaps with her children set in harness instead of a terrier.

Finally a good use for children before they can earn their keep, said Mrs. Light.

The brunch was a great success and the gang was happy to be reunited with old friends and catch up on what had been happening since the terrible Night of Broken Fire on the Island.

So anyway the phone rang at Denby's place. He had found lodgings apart from the others underneath the house of a woman who specialized in clearing houses and landscapes of vermin by way of humane, organic means.

Denby? Denby? This is your mother Denby. I am surprised you picked up the phone. You are not well? That is not surprising. I remember how you used to spit out your oatmeal when you were smaller. You used to be a lot smaller, Denby. Now look at you. Have you weighed yourself recently? Have you talked to your doctor about the things I mentioned. Of course you have not. You never payed the slightest attention to my good advice, And I have given you much of it.

I know mom. You gave me a lot.

Well you do not sound very grateful. After all I carried you for nine months and six days and then there was the labor lasting 12 hours. It was almost like you did not want to leave!

Mom you told me that story before.

It is so nice and warm up in there where you were and I held you so safe protected from gangsters and all the trouble you seem to have found since leaving my nice warm, furry . . . .

Mom, okay now. It is a little wierd.

A little wierd? Sonny I am your mother. I wiped your chin chinny chin and I wiped your popo while your father . . .

Okay mom.

Okay mom! Okay is not okay. You were not even going to call me I can just feel it.

Mom it is nearly midnight here.

Okay so it is a bit early the day beforemaybe for you. But not for me. Denby I am not getting any younger you know. I will not be around forever. One day I will be dead and under the ground and the leaves will blow across my unkempt plot there in Colma and I am sure no one will come to visit or call and I will be the loneliest dead mother that ever there was . . .

Mom stop crying, I will come visit you.

O! And when will that be . . .

I meant when you are dead . . .

WHAT?!?! My son refuses to see me until I am dead and gone?! Aaahhhhhhhhh!!!

Okay mom, what is this really about?

Well, since you mentioned it, there was the mysterious shadow on the xray the doctor did recently and then there is Abigail -- remember Abigail? - is having a potluck and she is having the Halvorsens over -- remember the Halvorsens from Minnesotta? and their darling daughter Ruby who got a degree from either Stanford or Midwestern I cannot remember which, but she was always so cute with that haircut . . .

Now that you mention it, Denby said, I think Ruby does not care so much for men.

What do you mean by that Denby?

I mean that Ruby prefers the company of women, mom.

Well okay be that way. Just throw a monkeywrech into the obstruction why don't you. Here I am trying to work up something with the help of Ruby's mom for her and you and there you go as you always do causing some kind of monkeywrench and here I am having worked my fingers to the bone providing for you and wiping your popo and you going out in your halloween costume with no clothes on underneath -- don't you find that embarassing?

Now that you bring it up again, yes. You had my pants in the washer at the time as I recall.

Now don't go changing the subject. It was embarrassing and that is what is important. Anyway I want you to come to the potluck and see your cousins.

And see Ruby, I guess.

Denby, I feel you can change her heart.

Mom, Ruby is what she is. She is not going to change herself because of me.

O yeah, go ahead and destroy all my dreams and visions. You are a hard case, Denby. I wonder how you got so hard. You are killing your mother, your poor mother . . .

Mom, did anyone ever ask Ruby what she thinks?

Who cares? She will come around. Believe me, I know her mother; we talk all the time at Jaqueline's Salon. Ruby can change. In these times a woman has to be adaptable. And all of us have engaged in a bit of ... experimentation. That is entirely all right. See how broadminded I am . . . ?

Mom! Are you saying you have . . .

Now Denby before I met your father I was a lost soul. Nevermind about that. I need you to come to the potluck on the 30th. And attend the wedding for Lucas and Chantra afterwards. Kill two birds. I have you down for the 27th arrival.

Mom . . .

Of course your poor mother, who is about to die of something because of a mysterious shadow on the xray and nobody cares about this poor woman wasting away whom nobody ever calls and no one ever visits because she is a castaway old shrew . . . .

Mom . . .

And me the one who carried you and wiped away your popo and here I am fated to wither on the vine like a . . . a dried up fig nobody wants and nobody calling and all alone I will fall down and reach for that electric locket thing and it will fall from my feeble grasp as my last breath goes and nobody caring they are all out cavorting with harlots or something and me dying alone and Mr. Peepers, the cat, will come all hungry and bugs will feed on me in the hallway the way I heard they do on Discovery Channel . . . Oooooooooooohhhhhhhhaaaaaaaahhhhhhh . . . the cat . . . the bugs . . . !

Okay mom, stop crying.I will come out.

O thank you thank you Denby my mostly only son, save for Sanford, I will be so happy to see you and Ruby together. It is all settled. You make a mother so happy!

Okay mom.

Let us part from this tender scene between a mother and her mostly only son.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

MAY 6, 2018

MAY THE LUSTY MONTH OF MAY

 


OVER 7 BRIDGES MUST YOU GO

So anyway. Birds twittered in the trees and flew here and there. Sunlight dappled the path and occasionally a squirrel's tail flicked in the air near a tree bole. The air, as yet, remained cool in the shade as the land prepared for the on-coming onslaught of dry heat. Denby walked with Marlene and Pahrump and Little Adam through Silvan Acres. Silvan Acres consisted of a scattering of houses off of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, itself a sort of two-lane highway beset with the steely eyes and hands gripping the steering wheel as people who styled themselves individuals careened at high speed from the population centers towards the still virgin coast. There was a small sign indicating the one way into the unincorporated landholding. Turning left off of the highway, one drives a long Alameda to the intersection where the lone market sits to offer exotic wines and notions, along with potato salad and antifreeze. There is spam.

You pass to the left of this bustling center of bicyclists families buying ice to pass the bus stop -- there is only one in Silvan Acres -- and proceed either right to the Post Office or left to the Improvement Center which boasts an outdoor heated pool that features a buckled subsurface and lap swimming enough and a ramshackled weight gym which is missing a few weight categories and where nothing is bolted down.

The statue of the Unknown 49'er Miner stands on a rocky pedestal next to the fire station that is the main call center for all of western Marin.

Other than the houses where people live, this is the entire description of Silvan Acres, where our Household has found itself after many travels.

Much further down the road was the Independent Hospital where Denby found himself after the the Angry Elf gang had poisoned him near unto death. The Angry Elf had been a courier for the Mob in Brooklyn and had long possessed access to the most dreadful chemicals known to man, for he had sold these powders to school children in New York, to hapless junkies on the streets and to well-heeled yuppies looking for easy highs as well as any number of strung-out people inhabiting smoky dens and filthy mattress apartments along the Brooklyn-Bronx Divide.

The Angry Elf had retained the apartment house keys after working nominally as a House Superintendent, so he had full access to everyone's lodgings, including kitchens and refridgerators.

Denby had fled that bad abode, but the consequences of having lived there had followed him and he had taken ill in a grevious manner due to the chemicals introduced to him as he had lived on the Island and all the members of the Household of Marlene and Andre were worried. "I am gonna make you sorry!" said the Angry Elf back then. It was a statement that would stick with the dwarvish thug until the day the little con-man finally eased this sweet earth with his departure.

Pahrump and Marlene had come to fetch Denby from the ER after he had spent a long day and most of the night there getting blood drawn and fluids pumped in to handle his compromised situation.

How you doing, Martini said.

I been left for dead before, but I still fight on. Don't wait up leave the light on. I'll be home soon," Denby said.

They sat beneath the shade of the tree they now called The Editor. A seasonal front had swept in and the branches all stirred with the wind.

Out on the fishing lanes a radio signal indicated that some former friend to Pedro was still active. For the past few months Pedro had been piloting his boat, El Borracho Perdido, with radio silence since his favorite radio host, Pastor Rotschue had fallen victim to the #Metoo movement as accusations of sexual impropriety had driven his former friend from the airwaves. Working the dark hours in his boatcabin with no solace of a like mind for hours on end, bumping along in his cab like any midwestern farmer coursing along in an iHarvester through the furrows of green waves, he had felt bereft of a presence that had accompanied him for some three decades of harvesting the ocean.

Pedro had been thinking about the next big thing. He was getting old and the life of a working fisherman was not an easy one. He had been thinking about going north, taking the family, to the old haunts of his family around Sausalito where surely there might remain something of the old ways. Or maybe just a place to settle his anchor.The night approached and drew its coverlet over the land with soft breezes that stirred the yellow iris blooms announcing Spring had arrived.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

APRIL 30, 2018

APRIL, COME SHE WILL

This week's harbinger of Spring needs no explanation.


WHAT'S GOING ON

The California State-wide primary election is slated for June 5th. We are looking at 5 propositions, two of which are Bond measures, three of which are Constitutional amendments. The general election will be held November 6th.

Up for grabs is the Senate office currently held by Dianne Feinstein. Jerry Brown will not run for governor due to term limits. House candidates for District 2, which includes Central Marin, include Andy Caffrey (D), Jared Huffman (D) and Dale Mensing (R).

There are no Republican candidates for State Senate or Assembly.

District 13 includes the Island and parts of Oaktown.

There is only one candidate for House and that is incumbent Barbara Lee.

State Assembly seat will feature Rob Bonta (D) squaring off against Stephen Slauson (R).

We will be looking at the issues in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned.

Sausalito police officers recovered a vehicle stolen in San Jose and arrested the driver after they were tipped off by the city's license plate recognition cameras Friday, police said.

Around 8:43 p.m., officers got the alert from the cameras that an allegedly stolen vehicle had entered Sausalito from the 4000 block of Bridgeway, according to police. The 1996 Honda Accord was stolen in San Jose on Thursday, police said.

Officers stopped the stolen vehicle in the 100 block of Buchanan Drive. According to police, the driver, a 16-year-old girl from San Jose, was arrested on suspicion of possession of the stolen vehicle and released on a citation to her parents.

A 15-year-old girl who was a passenger in the car turned out to be a missing person out of San Jose, and she was reunited with her parents, police said.

Albany police are asking for the public's help after a man was shot and killed on the Ohlone Greenway on Sunday morning, police said.

According to police, officers reported to a call of a man injured on a bench of the greenway around the 600 block of Masonic Ave. near 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Officers found the victim suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital where he died of his injuries.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Albany police at (510) 525-7300. Those wishing to remain anonymous can call (800) 222-TIPS.

On the Island, the streets are getting meaner. Two Alameda waitresses were robbed by a group of four to six young suspects on Tuesday night just after they finished their shifts at a nearby restaurant, police said.

The two women were walking to their cars in the 700 block of Pacific Avenue at about 10:15 p.m. Tuesday when they were confronted by the suspects, who pulled up in two vehicles, according to police spokesman Lt.
Wayland Gee.

One of the women, who's 59, was struck in the face by a hard object and was knocked to the ground and had her purse stolen, Gee said. The other woman, who's 62, was pushed to the ground and also had her purse stolen, according to Gee.

The woman who was struck in the face suffered minor injuries but didn't need to be treated and the other woman wasn't injured, Gee said.

The robbery comes weeks after a violent attempted robbery in front of the Pho Anh Dao restaurant at 1919 Webster St., about two blocks away, at about 11 p.m. on April 6 that led to the death of 61-year-old Cindy Le several days later. No one has been arrested for that homicide.

In a survey by an independent non-profit of hospitals across the State, both Marin General and Kaiser earned A grades for safety while Highland Hospital, San Leandro Kaiser and our Island Hospital earned D grades. Alta Bates and Summit both earned C's.

Leapfrog has found that 71 hospitals in California received an "A" grade for preventing medical errors, accidents, injuries and infections, which collectively are the third leading cause of death in America. On the flip side, 19 hospitals received a "D" or worse.

The Leapfrog Group released its bi-yearly hospital safety grades on Tuesday, finding that hospitals overall have improved in reducing the number of avoidable deaths. The group assessed roughly 2,500 hospitals. Of those, 30 percent earned an "A," 28 percent earned a "B," 35 percent a "C," 6 percent a "D" and 1 percent an "F."

The assessment system assigns school-style letter grades to general acute-care hospitals. The hope is to determine a patient's risk of further injury or infection if they visit a certain hospital.

Go to this Analysis page to see how your local hospital fared.

WADE IN THE WATER

Caught Harvey Mandel at the Fenix the other night. Mandel was the goto man for when you wanted to lite up a blunt and explore the cosmos back in the day. His unique jazz style on the fretboard heavily laced with right-hand tapping has galvenized a legion of followers and his version of Cristo Redentor with operatic female voices undoubtedly influenced Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1945 and raised in Chicago, Harvey had a brief stint playing bongos before switching to guitar. Mandel became the original guitarist with Charlie Musselwhite, releasing the debut album Stand Back! in 1966. In Chicago he performed with Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Albert King, and Buddy Guy.

Effortless sustain, multi–string bends, a slightly distorted tone always bordering on feedback and herky-jerky stuttering phrases balanced with long, melodic line characterize Mandel's sound.

Harvey Mandel relocated to the Bay Area, performing often at a club called The Matrix, where local favorites like Jerry Garcia and Elvin Bishop would sit in and jam. He then met up with renowned producer Abe ‘Voco’ Kesh, releasing his first solo album for Phillips/Mercury Records titled, Cristo Redentor in 1968, which included his extra-terrestrial version of “Wade in the Water,” still a classic to this day. Then the news arrived that Harvey Mandel had replaced Henry Vestine as lead guitarist of the legendary Californian R & B band Canned Heat. Mike Bloomfield joined for a set at the Fillmore and Harvey took the second set.

Harvey’s third gig with the band Canned Heat was the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Harvey remained with Canned Heat for over a year.

After several tours, he was recruited by British blues man John Mayall to be a member of the Bluesbreakers, recording the adventurous album, titled USA Union. He left in 1972 and teamed up with Sugarcane Harris, forming the band Pure Food and Drug Act, which lasted a year before he went solo. He recorded three albums in which he employed 2-handed fretboard tapping. Mandel was one of the first rock guitarists to utilize this technique.

One of Mandel’s most significant session credits was his participation on Black and Blue, the 1976 LP from The Rolling Stones and he subsequently became a much sought after "heavy" session man.

Mandel, who is 72, has beaten back a rare form of cancer and is gigging now to pay the medical bills. Happy to say he was in fine form the other night, performing with a hip-hop father and son team on keyboards and percussion. Each version he did was extended to the right length, remaining tight and disciplined throughout the two set concert.


WINDY AND WARM

So anyway, things have been chaotic ever since the real President Ronald Rump, Chief Executive of the Bums, has left Sacremento for Russia, as pretty much everyone expected him to do. He took with him his two odious children, his trophy wife from the Balkans, and the briefcase of Special Codes. In his place he left a Dummy Rump, a person hired to look like him and attract assassin's bullets. That the real Rump has long since left town and that a dummy is sitting in his place, pretending to give orders explains a lot. Many people felt that had been the situation all along ever since that disastrous November.

After all, who else but an hired dummy would claim that a wall between California and Nevada will help the Golden State in any way, especially since Nevada will pay for its construction.

When pressed on the issue of immigration, the Dummy has said, "CANADA. WE WILL BUILD A WALL BETWEEN US AND CANADA AND CANADA WILL PAY FOR THAT ONE TOO. THE CANADIANS NEVER SEND THEIR BEST."

And when gently suggested that the idea is a tad preposterous, the Dummy only gets infuriated.

"I AM NOT A RACIST! THOSE KANUKS HAVE BEEN SNEAKING OVER THE BORDER FOR YEARS AND TAKING JOBS. LISTEN, NOBODY LOVES CANADIANS MORE THAN I DO. I REALLY LOVE CANADIAN BACON AND BACON, IF YOU BIASED LIBERAL AGENDA PRESS PEOPLE WILL NOTICE, IS NOT ON THE TARIFF LIST I JUST DEVISED. I ALONE CAN FIX THE PROBLEM!"

Since the dummy inhabiting the Oval Seat of Porcelein is not the real President, we can all relax, get through the midterms that promise to correct some of the worst abuses and advance to the next General Election when Ronald Rump, running his campaign from his Moscow dacha, is sure to lose to just about anybody or anything that runs, whether it be Donald Duck or Mason Reese, both of who are slated for big come-backs.

On more local news, there was a minor contretemps at the new Homestead run by Marlene and Andre when Pahrump innocently parked his scooter on the gravel in front of the house. A man across the street ran out of his house, jumped into his truck parked in the entrance to an immense concrete pad up in front of his own house and screamed out to slam on his brakes and howl down at Pahrump, still on his scooter taking off his gloves.

"That thar spot be mine buddy! You people go away and die and be never born and I hate you with all my middle fingers you hippie types go park in your driveway. WE WAS HERE FOR ALL TIME AND JUST ABOUT FOREVER!"

Pahrump, a native Modoc, stood there confused.

The angry fellow, not getting an immediate response, backed up his truck to block the house front gate behind the scooter and jumped out to run up to his yard and fire up a chainsaw.

A neighbor named Dave ambled up the road at this point, taking his ratdog for a walk. "Hoddy." said neighbor Dave.

"What gives with this jerk?" Pahrump asked.

"O them Smellings. They bought that house in 1987 for about $175,000 and been pests ever since. Old timers, some call them although that is hardly an excuse. Sure got a whale of self-entitlement for sure. I think the old lady got something wrong with her head."

"I never seen anything like this," Pahrump said.

"Welcome to Marin," said Dave. "We got a load of it here. Ya oughta bring yer missus down for tea some time. My old lady makes honey from the bees she has going out back. We are not like the Smellings; we prefer to get along."

"No old lady any more," Pahrump said. "But thanks."

"I advise you to move your scooter. No telling what them Smellings will do to it. They imagine they own the whole mountain here."

Pahrump decided there is virtue in non-contention and moved his scooter with difficulty down into the steep cut that passed for a driveway and right away the chainsaw stopped and the Smelling boy ran over to move his large pickup truck into the spot he considered his own.

That night the Household discussed the Smellings -- Martini found they had misdemeanors for weapons charges on them and punative liens owed off of property they owned elsewhere.

Pedro talked about how he had gone over to be friendly and they had slammed the door in his face, ordering him off the property there.

Tipitina said the old woman had threatened that her car might get hit if she parked anywhere near the property, no matter they were on the opposite side.

"I think these people are to be avoided," Andre said. "Keep away from them. If their house burns, let it burn. We keep a distance and they seem to want a large perimeter for some reason."

After dinner, a group of the Household took a walk in the bright moonlight -- it was a full moon and all the glades were silver and black and deer moved with assuredness through the trees. They paused before a house where Missy Moonbeam twirled and leapt and flung her long hair while her phonograph inside the house played a jazz tune. She appeared to be celebrated the lunar cycle. Or something.

"Dad, that lady gots no clothes on," little Adam said.

"That is right," Andre said. "Pay her no mind; she is a freak just like us."

"Okay," Little Adam said.

A pair of black-tail deer bounded across the road at that point.

"Marin sure is a mixture of things," Pahrump said.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

APRIL 22, 2018

RAIN RAIN RAIN, A WICKED RAIN IS GONNA FALL


]

WHAT'S GOING ON

Oakland PD had some fun with this news item: a native of Oaktown got drunk and decided to sleep it off in the place he imagined to be the safest in town: the OPD parking lot. This did not go over well with the Boys in Blue who arrested the resident for DUI.

The Central Marin Police have announced to the Community: RX Drug Take Back Day is Saturday, April 28th.

It's time for Spring Cleaning and the perfect opportunity to safely dispose of expired or unnecessary RX drugs. Drop them off on Saturday, April 28th between 10a and 2p at either of our stations -- 250 Doherty Drive, Larkspur or 525 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo.

If you miss this date, most main Marin Fire Departments and Police Stations have dropoff bins. Even Mill Valley has one in its lobby.

Earth Day events took place all over the Bay Area this weekend. The fourteenth annual Earth Day Stinson Beach celebration, began at 10 a.m. and included beach cleanup and sculptures made from washed-up debris.

In the South Bay, volunteers worked on cleanup and other Earth Day projects from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., then enjoyed an Earth Day celebration at Alum Rock Park, 15350 Penitencia Creek Road, in San Jose.

The City held an Earth Day celebration on Saturday under clear skies and warming temps at Washington Park, with information booths, coastal cleanup of litter by volunteers, BBQ, and water distribution by the Water Monster.

Dozens of Island students walked out of school at 10 a.m. on the Island on Friday, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, joining thousands of other students around the country. They were protesting gun violence in schools.

There were more than 2,600 walkouts planned across the country – at least one in every state. Starting at 10 a.m., students had 13 seconds of silence to honor the 13 people killed at Columbine High School.

In March, one month after the tragic Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 people dead, students in Marin walked out of class as part of the ENOUGH National School Walkout, a nationwide effort to protest gun violence, push lawmakers to strengthen gun control laws and remember the victims.

A week later, Marin students participated in the Novato March For Our Lives Vigil, which coincided with various rallies and other events held around the San Francisco Bay Area and across the country.

Students at several schools in Marin plan to take part in Friday's walkout, according to the National Student Walkout website.

White Hill Middle School in Fairfax, Mill Valley Middle School and Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, Novato High School in Novato, and San Domenico High School in San Anselmo are among those participating. An estimated 75-100 Novato High students participated in the protest.

The Columbine High School massacre was a school shooting that occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, an unincorporated area of Jefferson County, Colorado, United States south of Denver. In addition to the shootings, the complex and highly planned attack involved a fire bomb to divert firefighters, propane tanks converted to bombs placed in the cafeteria, 99 explosive devices, and car bombs. The perpetrators, senior students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered 12 students and one teacher. They injured 21 additional people, and three more were injured while attempting to escape the school. After exchanging gunfire with responding police officers, the pair subsequently committed suicide.

The episode caused a change in police response tactics and a nationwide panic over bullying, Goth culture and certain types of music, including that of Marilyn Manson, although it was later found that the perpetrators were not fans of Manson. Although gun laws and availability came under scrutiny, no legislation of any consequence was passed anywhere.

HELLHOUND ON MY TRAIL

So anyway. The recent Pineapple Express has done with blowing through, leaving the skies bright blue and the land superheated with warm weather. The past week was blowing cold with a couple late dockwallopers, so people kept indoors when they could, but after the last burst of winter left Grizzley Peak knee deep in so much hail people thought it was snow, forcing the County to bring out deicing machines, the air warmed up, bringing out out the hang gliders and the windsurfers almost as if the temperature caused these things to emerge like bugs from hidden crevasses and people forgot all about how they had to snowplow 17 as they went to the beach and the pool

Earth Day people frolicked and gamboled on the Strand and there was all sorts of sand castle Frisbee tossing dog jumping bar-bee-queing info-table splashing and jumping up and down sorts of things and nobody got lost or punched in the face, which is remarkably nice when you think about it.

Pimenta Strife's house got foreclosed

Pimenta Strife's house got foreclosed on account of the bank being pissy about variable rate mortgages - a sort of scam imposed towards the end of Bubble on the Strife family, and so the Strifes became one of the last casualties of that perverse Semi-Free Market economy that wound up favoring only a handful of savvy speculators in the end as the regulations seemed to be a hindrance only upon normal people. So it was that Pimenta looked to the north counties for a place to live, the Island having become jacked by way of Fahrad and his evil property management cronies. So Pimenta went up to the little burg of San Rafael and saw clearly right away there were plenty of guys walking around with things between their legs and scarcely a thought upstairs with more money than they knew what to do with whom she felt she could utilize well and so she plunked down some cash on a place near the Mission and set out hunting as soon as she had a mattress on the bare wood floors.

The entire Island was in an uproar over Fahrad and his friends and some people banded together to create difficult to navigate "bicycle lanes" painted bright green and with concrete berms guaranteed to subtract driving space from automobiles. It was a good plan and traffic snarled right away soon as the lanes were installed, which made many people decide to leave the Island, which had been the main intention all along.

Fahrad was all right with that plan -- people leaving meant increased overturn of property that would earn higher and higher income for himself with each sale and perhaps provide more space to subdivide and develop more square inches, and if it became impossible to travel about the Island, that was fine; let them earn their money elsewhere and spend it elsewhere also. The local businesses would collapse and he could turn their lots into pricey condos.

Silvan Acres had only its Country Store with $20 wine

Meanwhile, the Household of Marlene and Andre were getting used to living in the country after so many years of urban living. On the Island you walked down the street and you got your groceries, your hardware, your clothing, and your incidentals within 40 minutes of walking the block or riding a bicycle. Silvan Acres had only its Country Store with $20 wine that sold for a dollar in other places. Then, for anything else, it was a hike over White's Hill to get anything like bread and milk at something other than usurious prices.

Even then, on the first trip to the Fairfax Market, Pahrump and Martini stood there incredulous while gawking at the lavish display of parity vegetable display where food was arranged not so much for commerce as for aesthetic presentation. Everything seemed arranged for that vacuous concept called "lifestyle" instead of just living. Martini did not make any friends when he went up to somebody to ask where the normal people bought groceries.

Normal people?

Not everybody drove a European car

You know. Moms piloting station wagons loaded with screaming kids during their few hours off from working their crappy third job. Guys saddled with alimony debt and high rent and shitty jobs. The kind of people that inhabit the middle of the country, the East Bay and just about everywhere. People with rough calluses on their hands and pickup trucks that actually do real work hauling concrete and stumps and lumber for jobs done by the people who own the trucks. Normal people who did work that did shit like move water and earth and electricity and pipes and who fixed things that were broken. Normal people. He knew some of them were around because he could see the signs. Not everybody drove a European car and there were abandoned shopping carts at the bus stops and there was at least one 7-11. In what passed for downtown in San Rafael he saw unkempt guys walking around mumbling in their beards, their clothes clearly not purchased any time too soon from the Sharper Image. He noticed some people walking around with brown shoes, looking down instead of drifting in a stupid miasma of Bliss. And there was a cobbler. A cobbler indicates reality. You gotta have shoes and buying new ones is out of the question so you get the ones you got fixed. Then they discovered the numerous food banks, which provided the food that normal people could not afford. So normal people did exist in Marin. The trouble was how to find them and learn how they survived.

Over the next few weeks Pahrump, Martini, Denby and the rest of the gang came to learn the people of Marin -- all about the people who had been there going back to the 1800's and those who were newbies and what a difference it made in all the changes over time, with the Sixties playing a large part in Marin life as it is as well as the invasion of the Well to Do.

And they were to learn that making assumptions and pre-judgements was always a bad idea.

Yes, normal people still live in Marin, although day by day fewer of them continue to do so for normal people get tired of continuous pretension and foolishness.

"Not County maintained."

Out in Silvan Acres, normal people were hard to find, if only that there was no center to the town. Pahrump motored all over the place which had been created ex nihilo out of the wilderness along the old railroad that once went up over the ridge to Point Reyes some miles distant. All traces of the railroad were gone, save for some ditches and sudden flat places deep in the woods. Hear and there roads suddenly ended with the sign, "Not County maintained." There was no center to the town where people would meet save for the Silvan Acres Improvement Club, a ramshackle assembly of buildings around a buckled pool and a battered gym much the worse for wear and run by Carol Lauterbach who considered the enterprise a part time gig in favor of her primary avocation of raising prize-winning blueblood dogs.

Next to this facility stood a Pop Warner baseball field that provided the local urchins a green field of dreams. Anyone standing over four feet in height could easily have lofted a line drive over the fence into the County fire department dispatch parking lot across the way.

A tumulus of rock stood there on the edge of the parking lot and on top of this tumulus someone had long ago erected a bronze statue that was entitled The Unknown Gold-digger. A family of swallows had established residence underneath the man's bronze hat for several generations.

As it turned out, this was the perfect place for our Household to wind up in Marin, for had they landed anywhere else some busybody would have announced the news and it would soon have gotten impossible to live with all the intervention and influence. People in Silvan Acres moved there because they did not give a rats ass for anything and it was good so.

The sun set and deer moved out onto the slopes that bordered the houses, looking for ways to raid tasty gardens.

That night, the Household gathered around the fireplace, which in this house actually worked, and they enjoyed a fine repast of Marlene's bread soup. As Jose tucked in to his sleeping bag, obtained from the Salvation Army place in San Rafael, he heard the coyotes howling closer and closer until it sounded like they circled the house, inspecting its occupants by smell so as to determine who was worthy to survive and who otherwise.

As he drifted off to sleep, the sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

APRIL 15, 2018


NOTHING BUT FLOWERS

In some parts of the country they call these things Blue Flags, for they arrive as if advancing the army of Spring.


WHAT'S GOING ON

The ACT group that has been fighting for Renter's rights has decided tilting at windmills at the present rate will result in precisely the same result it provided for Don Quixote. April 25 the group is going to present the formation of a PAC to combat Big Land interests on the Island, which would be a first, both for the Island and Nationally. If they succeed, the land managers will finally confront an entity as large as themselves in terms of power, influence and money.

Here is the press release info:

ACT
Alameda Citizens Task Force
Vigilance, Truth, Civility

TIRED OF WAITING IN TRAFFIC

WANT MORE OPEN SPACE AND COASTAL ACCESS

WORRIED ABOUT ISLAND EMERGENCIES—fire, earthquake, tsunami, gas main breaks, loss of water and/or electricity—AND ISLAND EGRESS

OPPOSED TO UNBRIDLED 14, 9, AND 7 STORY MARKET-RATE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT THAT:

• Doesn’t provide enough affordable housing, especially for low and very low income people;
• Isn’t affordable to most people currently living in Alameda or the East Bay;
• Utilizes the space that would/could be available for future affordable housing, making such future housing impossible to build;
• Eliminates space that is currently utilized by long-term, locally-owned, successful, and well-paying commercial enterprises, forcing them to move off the island or go out of business;
• Doesn’t provide enough parking spaces for the units built, thereby further congesting streets, neighborhoods, and traffic

ANGRY ABOUT CITY COUNCIL’S ABUSE OF POWER AND CRONYISM

ALAMEDA CITIZENS TASK FORCE (ACT) IS TIRED OF ALL THESE THINGS,

WHICH IS WHY WE SEEK TO FORM A POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (PAC)

We hereby invite all like-minded people and organizations to join us for a discussion and planning session. We seek to form a PAC that is separate from ACT and broad enough to include all people who support candidates in the November City Council and Mayoral elections who support our goals and refuse to accept donations from either public employee unions or developers.

ACT is a city-wide and neighborhood task force. As such, we watch, analyze, comment, and act. We have a proven, successful, political track record, supporting arts funding, opposing the building of a hotel at Bay Farm Island, demanding traffic mitigation studies, resisting Sun-Cal’s plan to build 5,000 houses at Alameda Point, leading the fight to make Crab Cove public park land, and stopping the City from trading the Mif Albright Golf Course to Ron Cowan, a private developer. We stand for community involvement and fiscal responsibility. We believe in honest, effective, representative, and transparent government. Come and join the discussion.

Where: Alameda Hospital, 2nd floor Conference Room

When: Wednesday, April 25, from 7:00 – 9:00, p.m.

It should be interesting to see what comes of this effort. If a PAC is formed successfully, the most evil powers that have been destroying the Island's way of life will be forced to come to the bargaining table on any number of issues.

Even if it does not succeed here, the effort and experience generated will surely result in a successful PAC formation elsewhere in the Bay Area, resulting in a final and decisive resolution to the problematic "rent control" initiatives that have failed to accomplish what was intended.

Sonoma County Sheriffs have been busy, what with a plane crash and various shenanigans in Santa Rosa.

The Sonoma County Coroner's Office has made a positive identification of Carleton Henry Morrison, 75-years-old of Fallbrook, CA, as the victim of the Petaluma plane crash on Friday night, April 6th. He was believed to be piloting his plane from Petaluma to San Diego County during bad weather when it crashed in a field in the 3600 block of Manor Ln.

The cause of the collision is still being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

On 4/8/2018 at 12:30 AM, officers responded to a local hospital for a man that had been stabbed several times. Officers contacted a 33-year-old male victim who was transported to the hospital by family members. The incident occurred around midnight, in the 1000 block of Sunset Av, Santa Rosa. The victim was admitted to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The case is still being investigation and officers are seeking anyone who may have witnessed the stabbing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Santa Rosa Police Department at 707-528-5222.

In Novato the City PD can pat themselves on the back for halting a rash of auto burglaries.

Recently there has been an increase in reports of auto burglaries and thefts from vehicles near Hamilton Marketplace. As a result, Novato special Units conducted a series of surveillance operations near the Hamilton Marketplace and Courtyard Marriott over the past several weeks. As a result, PD arrested 35 year old Karrell Morgan of Vallejo for Auto Burglary, Destruction of Evidence and Evading the Police. Here’s how it all went down.

Last night around 1:00 AM, officers observed a dark sedan with paper plates enter the parking lot of the Courtyard Marriott. The vehicle was driven by Karrell Morgan. Morgan exited his vehicle and began peering into the windows of vehicles with a flashlight. Morgan then smashed the window of one of the vehicles parked in the lot and removed a laptop computer and briefcase from inside. He then returned to his vehicle and began to leave the area. A traffic stop was made on the vehicle near McDonald’s on Nave Drive. Morgan did not stop and entered the freeway, driving N/B on Highway 101 at a high rate of speed. Morgan threw the victim’s property out of the vehicle and onto the freeway in an attempt to discard evidence of the burglary. A vehicle description was provided to responding patrol officers. An officer near Hwy 37 and Black Point caught up with the vehicle and stopped it. The driver was placed under arrest for the listed charges and booked at the Marin County Jail.

Reviewing Nixle reports we see a pattern of high speed pursuit incidents occurring every week since the wine country fires. You can run but you cannot hide.

ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

Now that we know Der Trump plans on leaving the US for Russia once he has savaged the country sufficiently by firing all capable personnel, hiring total incompetent nincompoops, disrupted all relations with foreign allies, completely destroyed the basis of international trade, wrecked the local manufacturing and agribusiness economies for the Nation, all that he has done now makes sense. He never had any intention of "making America great again." That was all a sop for people he considers idiots. When he boards that Aeroflot jet with the briefcase of codes he will leave America so crippled with bad policy, a tanking economy, an enfeebled military, virtually every position of prominence held by dolts that Russia and China will easily assume world dominance as he laughs and laughs in his hot tub dacha, surrounded by vapid beauties.

MOTHERLESS CHILDREN

So anyway. Jose and Festus were hanging out waiting for Pahrump at the San Rafael bus station coffee shop when Officers Patpong and Harsh arrived to arrest them. They were waiting for Pahrump to get a ride back to Silvan Acres. They would have taken the bus but they had no money. So they waited in the coffee shop there off to the side and of course, since they had no money, they did not buy a coffee or a roll. Because they did not buy a coffee or a roll on account of having no money and having no money is a sort of a misdemeanor in this part of the world the manager called the cops and the two were arrested for hanging out in a coffee shop and not buying anything, which is something that apparently can happen in other parts of the country as well.

So Pahrump arrived just as they were being carted off, arresting having taken a while on account of the difficulty with the pat down for Festus. Officer Patpong had never arrested a rodent before, least never one that talked English, and he was much put out on how to pat down the little feller. Officer Harsh asked him what was wrong and Officer Patpong said he wasn't going to pat down no marsupial and had to be corrected as hamsters are not marsupials and just do his duty, but Patpong was damned if he would be accused of bestiality and crimes against nature feeling up a hamster, marsupial or not.

Of what on earth could you possibly be accused demanded his colleague and the Officer said he didn't know the terminology exactly and maybe it was felching, but no that was not it. Felching was something else entirely from molesting hamsters. Officer Harsh said he thought it was gerbilling about which Officer Patpong was thinking and even so both of them were extra careful doing the write up in their books, not wanting any grammar problems to spoil the case even as Festus sternly insisted he was no gerbil and he had nothing to hide.

Then there was the issue of how to put Festus in the car, let alone what should happen should they need to put cuffs on him and that is when Festus said, heck I'll just put him in my pocketbag which you just upended here all over the sidewalk and he bent down to scoop up his friend which apparently was a little too quick for the cops for when he straightened up he was staring down the barrels of two pistols (1911 style semiautomatics, .45 caliber) held in the sweaty hands of two suddenly amped officers, which just goes to show you what the problem in America happens to be.

You got a fairly calm and normal situation of two burly, well-armed officers making an arrest of a skinny rope of brown pathos named Jose and his hamster friend, both of whom no more dangerous than gnats, when suddenly everything changes. As it does from time to time in this country. The taste of fear is metallic and in everybody's mouth and everything is happening too fast. A slight move and someone dies. For a broken taillight traffic stop, or jaywalking, or standing in your grandma's backyard holding a cell phone.

In this case Festus squeaked, "Man, I got no nuts!" and that broke the tension and the two boys were properly arrested and taken over to the jail where they cooled their heels and got let out after an hour when the manager declined to press charges. He had thought they were from the Canal District, a place of which neither Festus nor Jose had ever heard, but when he heard they were headed for Silvan Acres then he imagined they might be all right.

On the Island, a dockwalloper set in, driving everybody indoors. For those who had a place large enough, they went there. For others seeking company and solace, they sought those snubby little nooks where people gather in times like this to talk about the weather, politics and other people's family problems.

The rental crisis has come to such a pass that many are talking about "getting out" in the same way people used to talk about escaping New York. Even the Cribbages, people not exactly without means, have not rebuilt their burnt out mansion, but repaired to their former summer abode in Belvedere which is now their main residence. The Blathers are talking about joining them because of the insolence of the "bicycle people" and what seems like their accumulated political power. Belvedere seemed to hold the right sort of attitude they liked.

All of this talk about relocation has made Mr. Howitzer look northward to the northern counties where his family has scant holdings. Perhaps the time had come to invest in Marin and after the fires, Sonoma begins to look attractive to people like Mr. Howitzer who like the concept of fewer dwellings and increased demand. Mr. Howitzer's eyes begin to glow at the prospect.

Then again other folks are feeling the pinch of the Rental Crisis. If you remember, on the Night of Fire Wootie Kanootie's moose herd broke loose with Eunice leading the way into the cooling water of the Bay. Many hours and many days passed before the herd emerged dripping from the far shores of Tiburon where Wootie was able to round them up again and drive them westward to a place where nobody might notice a sizable herd of Canadian moose. Wootie himself found an abode in a place near Silvan Acres called Two Bird.

In The Old Same Place Bar people were talking about need to "get out" and the most recent scandals involving the President nobody likes.

Tommy and Toby, Lynette and Susan had all been served with outrageous rent increases designed to encourage leaving town. Businesses too were affected. Borg's Touch of Wonder massage parlor got hit with a hefty rent increase. So did Marvin of Marvin's Merkins (Put a merkin in your firkin!). Both of them began looking to relocate. The rental crisis produced a drifting cloud of darkness that was choking the life out of the little island, a miasma of hopelessness that crept into corners everywhere. People tried to adapt -- members of the Angry Elf gang got jobs working for property management companies and Realtors, who were the sort of people that appreciated a certain level of savagery in their dealings.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic and Dawn wondered how long they could hold out. They, too, had been slammed with a134% rent increase. The letter sat there on the bar through the night as the regulars came and went. Inside the bar it was warm and convivial as the remnants of the latest storm lashed the street and the windows with cold rain.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

APRIL 8, 2018

ANIMAL FARM

Image taken at the edge of someone's driveway. Always nice to dive into a good book.

APRIL, COME SHE WILL

So anyway, we have enjoyed a couple late season dockwallopers bringing 3 inches of rain in a matter of hours in some places, but reports from the Dweebers and High Sierra say that these storms did not make much of a dent in the meager snowpack up there which stands at 50% of normal. What normal is, or was, may change as we get used to these new normal conditions caused by global climate change.

There's a lot of fake news running around in this Post Truth Era. We will have none of that. Sean Hannity was found roistering in a hot tub with several underage girls from a Washington DC high school. People did not pay much attention to Ann Coulter getting stark naked with Steve Bannon and a terrified pig in a hotel room. People did not pay attention because Ann Coulter is hideous when naked, but because Donald Trump finally showed his true colors after replacing every capable person in Washington with ineffectual bozos, savaging international trade, wrecking the relationship with both NATO and the UN, destroying every positive relationship the US has ever had with each one of its allies, and castrating the Intelligence community with mass firings, the Trump boarded a Russian SUV with the code briefcase to abandon the US for Russia where a lavish dacha had been prepared for his lavish retirement by his friend Vladimir Putin. La Puta, as he called, welcomed Trump with open arms and Trump was heard to say, "Americans are so stupid. They are all losers and their really big loss in the coming war is gonna be the greatest thing. Russians know how to treat good people and I am absolutely the best, if I say so myself."

Shoulda seen it coming, folks. We tell only the Truth around here. Never ever told a lie.

The bus arrived at Silvan Acres, stopped and a single figure stepped down, carrying only a small, brown, leather valise. He was not tall, but not short and his hair was thinning up top and his visage looked familiar to Pahrump who observed him from the Arbor Bench which had been placed by well-meaning individuals at a spot that they had anticipated would be the bus stop, but which, due to government bureaucracy and the vagaries of bureaucratic decisions wound up off the map as a nice place to sit but no place to wait for a bus that would never arrive.

Such is the nature of Silvan Acres, where often the goal is attempted but seldom achieved. There is a statue in what would pass for a downtown, had Silvan Acres ever developed such a thing. It is the Statue of The Unknown Miner, who stands in bronze with his shovel lifted and a look on his face some say is that of bewilderment instead of discovery. No matter. A family of swallows have established abode beneath his broadbrimmed hat and the glade is always mowed, although no one seems to know whose responsibility it happens to be. No gold was ever found in these parts, which is just as well, for gold has seldom brought prosperity or good luck to any community in which it has been discovered.

When residents want goods and services they "go down the hill", which means ascending over Whites Hill on the Sir Francis Drake Freeway and then dropping down into Fairfax, which itself is not that populous or sophisticated. Fairfax features an excellent ice cream shop, a couple fairly good and overpriced restaurants, a decent bicycle repair place, a hole-in-the-wall gym made in the old style that is above reproach, a thoroughly incompetent automobile garage with gas pumps, and a couple thousand inhabitants entirely dissatisfied with the state of Progress. There is also an overpriced market that is patroned by yuppies on the go and people lacking ambition to drive further to the somewhat more reasonable Safeway the next town over.

In any case, Pahrump approached the man, who seemed to recognize him.

"Where is my brother," said the man.

Pahrump inhaled. Then he exhaled a long breath. He turned to look at a tree standing in the middle of the glade bounded by a rustic log fence. "Your brother has experienced a change. You are now the Editor."

"I do not understand," said the new Editor. "There is much to explain."

"Welcome to Silvan Acres," Pahrump said.

"I got this letter," the Editor said. "Very little made any sense."

"Welcome to Marin," Pahrump said. "You will learn not much makes sense here."

A man pedaling a recumbent bicycle and wearing a furry Dr. Seuss top hat passed them. Several people going to some kind of party arrived to board the waiting bus. Each of them wore full length body costumes covered in neon pink, green, red and blue fur. Only their faces were exposed.

"Right," said the Editor.

The two of them went to the new Island-Life offices, which were as yet unfurnished. It was just a bare room with an area in the back accessed by a short set of stairs.

For the rest of the day Pahrump and Martini collected abandoned shelves, chairs, desks that had been put out beside the road with "Free" signs taped to them. They used a rusty Flexible Flyer children's wagon and Pahrump's scooter to fetch the things which became the furnishings for the new Offices.

"One good thing about Marin," Martini said. "The trash is high quality."

Back on the Island, Padraic was compelled to refurbish the jukebox since Denby no longer provided music. He tried at first to get various acoustic replacements, but most were more well-intentioned than accomplished. In the Old Same Place Bar, things hummed along quietly. An amorous couple occupied the Snug where Denby used to sit, looking like they were getting set to produce a blue movie. Where Old Schmidt had occupied a stool for years, various patrons came and went. Eugene Gallipagus occupied his end of the bar with a Fat Tire ale as usual. Outside it was chill and damp -- the Most Dangerous Season had not yet begun although there were signs. Freesias had erupted all over the place, filling the air with heady scent.

During the lulls, Suzie sat behind the bar, reading her Anthropology book and the chapter on the cheerful and friendly Bonobo and their mating rituals while the Man from Minot chatted up Latreena Brown.

It was a quiet night on the Island. No sirens rent the air and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

APRIL 1, 2018

SPRING

This week's image comes courtesy of Carol Taylor, an artist living in the Gold Coast district of the Island. She says about this image, "Some days need flowers more than others."


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

What has gotten into the kids lately.

A sixth-grade student was arrested Thursday after allegedly threatening two San Rafael schools, authorities said.

Staff at James B. Davidson Middle School at 280 Woodland Ave. notified resource officer Michael Mathis Thursday that a student made threatening statements on a school bus Wednesday afternoon regarding a shooting at two schools, San Rafael police Sgt. Lisa Holton said.

"Several witnesses reported the incident to their parents, who then notified school officials," Holton said.

Mathis and school administrators investigated the threat, interviewed the 12-year-old boy and contacted his parents.

We have to wonder about the "safe and legal" component referenced in this news item. There are just too many provoking details about this story to let it pass without mention. If only the victim's name was "Rambo."

A Napa man who died while drag racing Wednesday night at Sonoma Raceway was publicly identified by the Sonoma County Sheriff-Coroner's Office Thursday morning as 75-year-old James Kenneth Rambo. Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Crum said deputies responded to the scene to investigate Rambo's death, which occurred at about 6 p.m. at the raceway located at 29355 Arnold Drive in Sonoma.

"Rambo had been drag racing his 1976 customized Ford Pinto in an organized contest," Crum said. "At the conclusion of the drag race, after he crossed the finish line, it appears he braked but his vehicle pulled to the left and he hit a k-rail at over 100 mph."

An ambulance crew responded and made life-saving efforts but Rambo died from his injuries, Crum said.

When the fatal incident occurred, Rambo was participating in Wednesday Night Drags, also known as Sonoma Drags & Drifts. The program gives people including teenagers and working professionals a place to race their vehicles in a safe, legal and controlled environment rather than on city streets.

And a Pinto? A PINTO?! WTF!

The funding for local support of the anti-terrorism initiative called Urban Shield was kiboshed in Alameda County, but the Supes did an about face recently.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 at the end of a contentious hearing today to fund the sheriff's office's controversial "Urban Shield" first-responder training exercise this year but not in future years in its current format.

The vast majority of the more than 100 public speakers at the four-hour hearing on the training exercise the sheriff's office has hosted every September since 2007 alleged that it is racist and xenophobic and has a negative impact on communities of color and immigrants.

The motion that was approved by four of the board's five members calls for the exercise format in 2019 and future years to focus more on training for natural disasters and less on terrorism and on weapons vendors. Supervisor Keith Carson, who authored the motion, said, "The term 'urban shield' is volatile."

Carson said 2018 "is the last year for Urban Shield going forward" and "Urban Shield as we know it ends after this year."

Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who wanted the exercise to continue in its current format as long as Sheriff Gregory Ahern agreed to several reforms, was the lone board member to vote against Carson's motion.

The board's vote means that the county will accept $5.5 million in Urban Shield Area Security Initiative funds so the sheriff can host the training exercise again this September at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

Those funds originate from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The reason that many community leaders are against this program had to do with the increasingly militarization of the police and the separation of the police from the Communities it serves.

After the public comment portion of the meeting concluded, Supervisor Nate Miley said, "Some people's opinions were a bit inflammatory." Ahern said afterward that the meeting was "very emotional".

Supervisor Wilma Chan said the relationship between the community and law enforcement goes up and down over time and "the problem is a lot of stuff has happened" in recent years to make the community wary of law enforcement and shows of force.

Mill Valley Library sends us notices of events from time to time, so we will begin adding these items to the Calendar. This week will feature aeronautical adventures.

Join MVL for a night of hair-raising aeronautical adventure as Betty Goerke shares the story of America's first transcontinental air race from her new book: A Broken Propeller.

In Oct 1919, fifty-nine pilots flying in open cockpits and with no parachutes, competed in a long distance round trip air race that began simultaneously in San Francisco and Long Island. What began as an ill-advised scheme to promote the future of flight turned into an endless fight for survival amidst crashes, emergency landings, extreme weather, and faulty machinery. Goerke brings a special knowledge to this story as her father, 1st Lt. Ralph (Baz) Bagby, was one of only eight pilots who actually completed the race.

Registration recommended.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the San Anselmo Public Library invites you to its 15th annual community poetry reading, Night of the Poets, on Thursday April 26 at 7pm. Poetry is meant to be read aloud and we invite community members of all ages to join in the fun by sharing a poem or listening to others recite.
The evening will include readings by celebrated local poets Prartho Sereno and Janet Jennings. Registration begins on Monday, April 2. If you would like to share a poem (in 2 minutes or less) at Night of the Poets, sign up at the reference desk or email sleyland@townofsananselmo.org.

YOU CAN DRIVE NATURE OUT WITH A PITCHFORK, BUT . . .

So anyway. The settlement of Silvan Acres is an unicorporated state of mind that resides west of Fairfax and off the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, that now functions as a sort of rural freeway in the area. Because the speedlimit wicks up to 55 right there at the entrance to the place, most people entirely ignore the presence of this hamlet .

If you were to irritate drivers behind you and slow down to take the entrance there between the trees, you would travel a good half mile of road hemmed in by overarching oaks and redwoods before arriving at the hub of Silvan Acres, a country store with overpriced Quesadillas and bottles of cheep wine and the usual deli offerings. Nobody residing in Silvan Acres ever goes there. It is frequented by the bicyclists that swarm this area of the country.

Up the road the County maintains its Western County call center for fire response in a forest clearing. At this facility, several water rescue craft are kept for lake rescues. A water treatment plant resides on San Geronimo Road and there is a bland electrical substation. Other than that, there are no official buildings. There is no City Hall and no general meeting place. There is the Silvan Acres Improvement Club, which features a swimming pool, a fairly useless weightroom, a meeting hall, and a very useful parking lot that is more important than all of the above. Next to the SIC extends Warner Field, the storied Field of Dreams.

There is not much in Silvan Acres other than people and dogs. There are poodles from time to time, but they do not last long for the coyotes ranging freely dispatch useless animals with quick efficiency.

Jose stepped out from the rattletrap porch to see a faun grazing upon the foliage. At that time, Martini had not yet completed the Fortress Wall with the help of Pahrump, Denby, Tipitina, Sarah and Suan. So the faun stood there, doe-eyed as they are wont to do as Martini walked up to it surrounded by the Disney fog of his imagination. Perhaps he wanted to pet the wild creature. No one knows, for a very large, muscular female deer appeared with rage in its eyes and a clear look of "keep away from MY baby!"

Bonkers and Wickiwup ran out to join the fun and, fortunately for Martini but not so much for Bonkers, the doe launched a savage kick that lifted the thirty-pound dog into the air and tossed him some ten feet.

Mr. Gruffman, their neighbor came hauling around the corner, shouting and carrying a baseball bat.

"Keep away from them damn things!" Mr. Gruffman shouted. "They are wild and mean and they be dangerous as all hell!"

Martini backed off as the mom-deer came at him with flying hooves. A nasty kick caught Wickiwup in the head so that he staggered back and wandered in a circle with his mouth foaming in a daze.

The faun, meanwhile had scampered off to safety, but mom-deer felt a need to provide rearguard coverage, apparently, and as Martini tripped to fall on his ass, she prepared to destroy her enemy utterly. She launched a kick that would have shattered Martini's skull, but Mr. Gruffman intercepted her with the baseball bat, delivering a full shoulder swing which cracked on the deer's head with a solid report that echoed through the woods.

The deer sort of staggered back and wobbled as Mr. Gruffman grabbed Martini to haul him up the porch steps and into the house, closing the door just as the deer recovered and launched a fusillade of kicks on the solid core oak portal. One razor-sharp hoof snicked cleanly right through one and a half inches of solid oak panel. Martini and Mr. Guffman panted on the other side until the doe, satisfied with the damage it had wrought, went off to see about its precious baby.

"Them things kill a thousand Canadians a year," Mr. Guffman said. "This aint no Disneyland. Them deer travel in packs around here and carry switchblades, I am certain."

Such was Martini's introduction to living in the countryside.

On the Island, gorgeous weather brought out the wind surfers and the sailboarders, scudding just offshore like exotic birds or flamboyant insects. Newly empowered bicyclists roamed in droves, wearing their tight pants and neon-colored tops, animals donning plumage to initiate the Spring Season about to arrive. Freesias bloomed in profusion. Tulips had already erupted. The buckeyes had sprouted green shoots and everywhere acacia drooped yellow treasures, ephemeral and beautiful.

Even though a deplorable man-baby sullies the White House, even though those people attempt to drive out Nature with a pitchfork, it always comes roaring back.

Out on the sea-lanes, Pedro's boat coursed its way to the fishing grounds through the changing air. Yes, the Sea has Seasons, just like on land. Some of this is enforced by regulation. You take crab and shellfish during the cold water months. After that you shift to mackerel and then to albacore. But even without regulations, Pedro as an old salt can sniff the air and sense in a thousand undetermined ways that go back thousands of years the subtle changes that announce seasonal change. Maybe the algae blooms start to occur. Maybe certain fish have migratory patterns and start to appear or disappear around this time. Maybe it is the dolphins appearing and maybe the migration of the Leviathan, the Great humpback whales. All Pedro knew is that from year to year the seasons manifested themselves as natural and subtle changes.

The radio crackled and at times produced some sounds, but the program he loved that was produced by the Lutheran Pastor Rotschue had gone off the air. The man had been driven off by some sort of "Me Too" scandal and the network had decided to cut him loose rather than risk any sort of lengthy battle that would surely cost ratings and advertising.

So now Pedro was left alone out on the sea lanes where the radio had been his only companion, save perhaps for his Second Mate, who once had been Tugboat and now was Ferryboat with a woof.

Tugboat had been a greathearted dog for many years and he had fought the Great White that had started to destroy the ship with ferocity and so died as greathearted dogs will do, throwing all towards defense of the Pack and the Master.

Now, getting older and pretty certain now none of the kids were going to follow the path of the sea, Pedro shifted his creaking bones as the Seasons revolved. Maybe it was that sense of being invisibly accompanied on each voyage. He was composing the story of himself as a fisherman by doing it from day to day. A story that some absent Creator might read some day. Now, alone on the sea, he was doing all for Company and he hoped that his fisherman's story would help the one who was troubled.

In a sense, Pedro realized, he had become a fisher of men and that perhaps he should devise his own radio program, so as to aid lost souls out there in the darkness.

The time was coming when he would no longer be able to man the winch that hauled up tons of albacore. He would have to find a way to keep his hand in the game. But he could become a lighthouse man.

And the game was set long ago at the foot of a cross as men threw dice for a hanged man's last belongings. Three days later something arose from the tomb.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

MARCH 25, 2018

SOMEWHERE, OVER THE RAINBOW

This past Saturday saw nationwide protests about the gun violence against children. As 340,000 people converged on the Mall in Washington DC, a few hundred gathered in Santa Rosa. At the close of the protest march this stunning omen appeared above the church where the marchers had left their signs.

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

As noted above, protest marches occured nationwide in all major cities with hundreds of thousands of people gathering in Washington, Portland, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and other places.

We must be avaunt on the Island, for our students did their thing Wednesday, March 14th, when hundreds of Island students marched through the rain Wednesday, March 14, as part of a national movement calling for gun reform and improved safety measures in schools. Students marched down Central Avenue to a rally at Lower Washington Park.

On related news, a common thread was noticed on the Island and up in Marin where schools when into lockdown modes due to reports of threats of violence and/or police activity.

Smash and grab crimes have skyrocketed across the water in Babylon which is now seeing 13 car break-ins a day. That is 13x365 if you want to do the math to get the annual total.

Now that sort of crime is happening here on the Island and in Marin with increasing frequency. In Marin, thieves do not go to mall parking lots monitored with cameras. They smash the windows of cars parked in home driveways and run off.

Check out the blog post at www.stevehockensmith.com/2018/03/monkey-shines.html about the missing monkey stolen from a car parked at the Target parking lot March 2. No thieves do not have a heart; they are jerks.

Latest news has the Sierra snowpack now at 50% of normal, which is not especially good, but a lot better than it was before the last few storms. We and the Dweeb Report expect the next storms to drop very "wet" snow and mixed rain and sleet at elevation, which when accompanied by warm temps does not lead to any serious accumulation.

Ski lifts are operating, but expect the snow to get slushy pretty soon and pretty fast. High avalanche danger in the high elevations, so stay away from cornices. You know what to do if you are up there.

WOKE UP DREAMING / I WAS GONNA DIE

So anyway. Some people may wonder that since the Island-Life Offices burned down on the Night of Fire, two issues remain outstanding. Firstly, how is it the enterprise continues to put out its content. Because it is clear you are reading this sentence right now and the masthead indicates an unbroken continuum. Secondly, what on earth became of Chad, the coder?

To deal with the more insignificant issue first, let us say that the morning after the Night of Fire, Chad pushed open the trapdoor that lead down to the HTML Hell dungeon and was amazed to see the entire place destroyed.

All the desks were gone. The lamps and computers had been rendered into piles of molten plastic and slag. The wind blew across the cindered landscape and a pile of charred timbers stood where the jalousie had bulwarcked the Editorial Offices.

Where the Editor's cube had once stood, there remained only piles of shattered glass in this new Kristalnacht.

Chad wandered down the aisles that had been destroyed by the wrath of the Angry Elf and, as was his nature, wandered off to his bungalow on Bungalow Court where he took up his computer and surfed the web.

Tammy, his patient and loving consort of many years entered to find him alive, to her mixed pleasure as he had missed two dinners already, and said, "Chad, you stink."

"I love you, dear," said Chad, who was always politic.

"I mean you stink of smoke and ash and burning. Take off your clothes now!"

When one's mate demands that one disrobe immediately, one does not question, for anything eruptive may follow.

Let us depart this delicate familial scene and consider how Island-Life continues although its main offices have been destroyed.

In truth, like all responsible businesses, Island-Life had paid lots of money to a high-priced consultant for an IDR Plan.

What is an IDR plan, you ask?

A good IDR plan produces the results that AMEX experienced when its nerve center in the World Trade Center was destroyed by maniacs on 9/11.

Did you miss a payment or fail to pay a bill because of that? No you did not. That is the result of a good IDR plan. Do not ask us what the letters stand for -- no one now remembers. The fact is, it works due to the magic of IT.

The Island-Life IDR was unconventional. It involved a network of hamsters and hedghogs carrying flashdrives that held backup data. It was the distributed backup schema of course. When the Household of Marlene and Andre established foothold, they had Festus, the messenger hamster. Mainly, they needed to rebuild the large Habitot that had once occupied some 600 square feet. This would take some doing. Fortunately in Marin there is no dearth of tubing due to the local mania for irrigation. Why construct elaborate irrigation systems in the only place in California that does not suffer from want of water is anyone's guess. It is not like people are maintaining Subsistence Gardens in large numbers for most of the foliage is entirely for show with no edible qualities whatsoever. Go figure.

On a grey, foggy day in Silvan Acres a grizzled man stepped off of the bus and looked around. He was the Editor's unacknowledged son who had answered the IDR summons, which he did not understand, but it promised in the text a free drink.

The Editor's unacknowledged son was a complete alcoholic for various reasons, but the IDR plan had all of this built-in.

The Editor's son set up shop in a Silvan Acres shed which he filled with filched and borrowed equipment. Martini was very instrumental, as the man ported over his skills as a scavenger from the East Bay with great effect. As soon as he had his internet up, Chad sent a message saying he would be happy to continue at his usual fee, but physically coming to Silvan Acres presented a problem. He would have to remain a Road Warrior Remote Worker. Something about carting his oxygen tanks and his COPD.

Rachel sent a message, saying that she was also available for remote work, but she would be damned if she ever got on a ship without a decent telephone ever again.

These past few days have seen drenching downpours and as the son of the Editor puttered about the new offices of Silvan Acres, putting things into place, setting the paper cutter properly in the Xerox room, although few people ever use a Xerox anymore, aligning the hole punch machine and the MFP thingie with its supplies as the MFP thingie is an insatiable beast, things started to fall into place.

What was the Island is becoming Silvan Acres. And in the late hours, the mists swelled in the vale and drifted through the trees and the coyotes appeared, howling and yipping just outside the door as if to welcome the enterprise to this wildness that was part of Old California, the part of California that remained a Republic despite hundreds of years of isolation.

As he stood there, a sphinx moth banged against the screen of the window. His father used to wander the sandy paths with a net and although he was gone, transformed into some other shape which is all we know of death, tonight was a good night for mothing.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

MARCH 18, 2018

BUS STOP

Bus Stop was the first hit single by the Hollies in 1966. The song was written by UK songwriter and future 10cc member Graham Gouldman. In a 1976 interview Gouldman said the idea for the song had come while he was riding home from work on a bus. The opening lines were written by his father, playwright Hyme Gouldman who often assisted his son with word choice in song writing. It is a sweetly innocent song that is quite different in tone and origins than what came later in the 1960's

This week's image, which clearly shows the effects of the recent rains, comes courtesy of Cathy who lives in Woodacre.

Bus stop, wet day
She's there, I say
Please share my umbrella

Bus stops, bus goes
She stays, love grows
Under my umbrella

All that summer we enjoyed it
Wind and rain and shine
That umbrella we employed it
By August she was mine

Every morning I would see her
Waiting at the stop
Sometimes she'd shop
And she would show me what she'd bought

Other people stared
As if we were both quite insane
Someday my name and hers
Are going to be the same

That's the way the whole thing started
Silly but it's true
Thinking of our sweet romance
Beginning in a Queue

Came the sun
The ice was melting
No more sheltering now
Nice to think that that umbrella
Led me to avow

Every morning I would see her
Waiting at the stop
Sometimes she'd shop
And she would show me what she'd bought

Other people stared
As if we were both quite insane
Someday my name and hers
Are going to be the same

Came the sun
The ice was melting
No more sheltering now
Nice to think that that umbrella
Led me to a vow


LIL CAUGHT THE WESTBOUND

We will not harp on it, but the late Lil Arnerich could have taught the current crop of rowdy rascals inhabiting Silly Council and the Mayor's office a thing or two about reasoned discourse, level-headedness, and responsibility as public servants. Okay on with the news . . . .

Our irrepressible Council put the City Manager on hold for -- what? -- complaining about undue pressure from Council members with regards to the hiring process of current of the new Alameda Fire Department (AFD) Fire Chief. Turns out an independent investigative report from investigator Michael Jenkins from the California law firm Jenkins & Hogin, revealed just that. Undue influence was exercised. Talk about killing the messenger ....

13 people were put on 5150 three day hold for psychiatric evaluation last week. O our sweet, sick, little Island!

DOWN THE HILL

Up north, to where we are shifting our focus, we note that David Donery, Town Manager for San Anselmo, reported in the recent Council News report that April has been designated "Fair Housing Month". Yeah. We will see what comes of that sentiment among the well-matriculated and well-endowed hills of Marin.

This one really caught our eye: "- Approved Resolution Conditionally Accepting the Offer of Street Dedication for a Segment of The Alameda (from east of Arroyo Avenue to east of Berkeley Avenue) and Approve the ‘The Alameda Improvements Project’ and Authorize Staff to Advertise for Bids."

Turns out The Alameda is a street that sort of meanders behind the Ross Valley Fire Station until it suddenly turns into a fractured roadway of ruts and ruined pavement just past a sign that reads "Not maintained by Town". Why not maintained by Town is anybody's guess. Maybe the people who live there do not pay property taxes, although we suspect that is not true.

We would guess the "dedication" concerns that part east of the sign. Stay tuned for more Marin County weirdness and jarring disconnects.

Residents of Marin from Larkspur to Woodacre were treated to several showers of hail these past two weeks. Temps have been dipping to near freezing at night and hovering in the low forties while the fogs have been steaming.

A number of towns have banded together to unify police services under the Central Marin Police Department. The CMPD, a fairly new organization to this area which used to feature a number of fractured independent municipal forces, has the following helpful advice.

How do I get a copy of a police or traffic accident report?
Please call the Records Section at 415-927-5150 to confirm the report is available. Reports are usually ready for pick up in about 7-10 business days. Report cost: $10.00, Log Entry cost: $3.00. Certain offense reports may not be released if the case is active or under investigation. No juvenile information will be released.

I will be out of town for a week. Will the police watch my home?
Yes. This is what we call a "Vacation Watch." Please call, 415-927-5150 to request a Vacation Watch. Please have trip dates and emergency contact numbers available when you call. We may ask additional questions about the vacancy of your home.

When does the police department do public fingerprinting?
We do not do public fingerprinting. You may contact the Marin County Sheriff's Office at 415-479-2311.

How can I check on the status of my criminal investigation?
Contact the specific investigative unit at 415-927-5150 or the Marin County District Attorney's Office at 415-499-6450.

How do I find out if someone has been arrested?
Please call CMPA Dispatch at 415-927-5150.

How do I get my car out of impound?
First, you will need to provide us with the vehicle license plate number or the vehicle identification number. If you are the owner, you must have a valid California Driver license. If the vehicle is currently registered, you need to call the Traffic Unit at 415-927-5150 for a Tow Hearing. You will be responsible for towing and storage fees to the tow company. You may also be responsible for administrative fees to CMPA. There are vehicle codes and municipal codes that allow CMPA to charge up to $314.00. If your vehicle was impounded for driving without a license and has been previously towed for the same violation, it may be held up to 30 days. You will have to contact the Traffic Unit at 415-927-5150. You will have to contact the Records Section to obtain a release at 415-927-5150.

How do I get a police employee to speak to my group?
You can call the Watch Commander at 415-927-5150

Let It Rain, Let it Pour, Let it Rain a whole lot more

Last report from the State watershed folks revealed that before the recent storms we had an average snowpack of 39% percent of normal, indicating that drought conditions will continue. We expect this recent storm and the one coming Tuesday may push the average to a shade below 50% - still not enough to kill the drought.

Further south we note the Mill Valley Public Library hosts events, of which we will dutifully notify you.

SEAN BUI

So anyway, Mr. Howitzer got over his dismay at losing the lucrative property on Otis that had housed Marlene and Andre's Household for so many years. He was not concerned that most of the former inhabitants had disappeared -- that just meant he had fewer issues with retaining the security deposit as well as last month's rent. No, Mr. Howitzer had in mind a plan to build up a nine story condo complex where the cottage once stood. He felt that getting around the City height restrictions with a variance should be a piece of cake with the present Council composed as it was, of ne'er do wells.

He still remained peeved about the loss of his yacht, the Indomitable, which had vanished one dark and stormy night. If he had known the truth, that the corrupt DePuglia brothers had not built their dry dock scaffold high enough above the tide mark to compensate for a neep tide plus a storm swell along with their usual cutting of corners he would have been even more furious.

The day after the storms other boats properly dry-docked all around the place had survived quite well. The Harbormaster had only one pithy thing to say about it: "Cheap-ass SOB! Serves him right!"

This Saturday being St. Patrick's Day, a day more celebrated outside of the Old Sod than within, and often for good reasons, the Old Same Place Bar made ready for a gangbuster weekend.

All the gang was there, save for some conspicuous absences. The talk around the bar was about what had happened to any number of people who had disappeared on the Night of Fire. Denby had not been seen for three weeks now. Nor had the Editor.

Midweek a violent dockwalloper had set in with hail and wind and all sorts of mischief. Hard ice pellets had pounded the docks for hours and the Bann Se had wailed about the chimney as they are wont to do when someone is about to die, for the Se come from Tir nan Og, the fairyland where time and all appearances are sent in a whirlwind. Late at night Dawn heard the Bann Se and she prodded the slumbering Padraic.

"Some-what is about to happen!" said Dawn.

"If you keep poking me, some-what will happen for sure," Padraic said.

"I don't mean that," Dawn said. "But somat is aboot ta happen."

"Sure enough," Padraic said out of his somnolence."Go back to sleep."

Along came time for the annual celebration of the Irish and the wearing of the Green by wannabees and the usual fol de rol about coffee mixed with the Water of Life, which they never do back on the Old Sod. All the tables out in the round had candles to light the night.

And all the usual crowd was in the Old Same Place Bar with a cheerful clatter and chatter within, when Suzie realized after serving Eugene on his usual stool she never would see Denby or the Editor again and she never would pass her exams to get out of there and was stuck there in that bar working the night shift until dawn for ages to come and it was clear she could not go on as before and she started to cry.

Then the door was open and the wind appeared. The candles blew and then disappeared. The curtains flew and then he appeared... Saying don't be afraid. . .

The Wee Man had returned after long absence.

He 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.

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.

Dear friends it seems there are fewer here around the bar than in years past. We cannot account for that for time must have its math which consists largely of subtractions. I have this to say.

When things go wrong and will not come right
Though you do the best you can
When life looks black as the hour of night
A pint of plain is your only man

When money's tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran
When all you have is a heap of debt
A pint of plain is your only man

When health is bad and your heart feels strange
And your face is pale and wan
When doctors say you need a change
A pint of plain is your only man

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan
When hunger grows as your meals are rare
A pint of plain is your only man

In time of trouble and lousey strife
You have still got a darling plan
You still can turn to a brighter life
A pint of plain is your only man

"Naow!" exclaimed the Wee Man. "Where be my friends, the daft musician and the darlint rodent named Festus and the Editor and all those I have loved over the years where are they now? I do not see them here!"

It came to Padraic to explain that they were gone to the far north and would not come here again for fear of the Angry Elf gang and fire and the shards of broken glass left after the Night of Fire.

"I see you have not taken care of your own full well," said the Wee Man. "It was said, 'Wnen I was hungry, you gave me food. When I was naked you gave me clothing. When I was in need, you provided', yet this scripture you have not followed so I ask of you when the time came to stand up and be counted what did you do?"

When the Wee Man struck the table lightning bolts flew out across the room.

"Good heavens and bananas!" said Larry Larch, he of the almost nonprofit Pushy People Anonymous organization (PPA). "Who or what are you?"

"What am I?" said the Wee Man, reflecting. "Well I have been myself all day."

"Well I most humbly apologize sir," Larry said.

"Apology accepted," said the Wee Man. "What then are you, pray tell?"

"Me?" said Larry Larch. "I am the proprietor of the East Bay chapter of the PPA. We take on known cases of pushy people hopelessly addicted to obnoxiousness and attempt to cure them."

"O!" said the Wee Man. "And just how do you do that?"

"Group therapy and a service animal."

"A service animal indeed!?"

"Yes. A service animal. Usually a dog. Sometimes a badger."

"And what does the service animal do for the afflicted? Teach them warmth and compassion?"

"O goodness no! That is impossible. We seek to retrain behavior that will gently guide the obnoxious soul back within the boundaries of conventional, polite society. The service animal watches for bad behavior and if perceived -- things like browbeating, over-assertion of parking places, asserting ridiculous opinions about minorities, talking loudly in restaurants -- the animal bites them."

"Well," said the Wee Man. "As I see you pursue an honorable trade and are besides a bit daft, I shall not kill you."

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 therefore a sort of faery, but with some disreputable attributions, including cigar smoking and farting.

A faery fart is something about which to contemplate at a later time.
.
The door opened and two of the Angry Elf gang slunk into the bar. It was the Cackler and Bryan Gump. Gump traded in stolen bank account numbers from his fake print shop in Oaktown while the Cackler engaged mostly in minor acts of terrorism -- usually blowing up cars and setting them on fire in front of certain recalcitrant businesses.
He was fond of kicking housecats across the room like footballs wherever he went. Both he and Gump were quite odious.

"What have we here?" said the Cackler.

"A weed not quite grown," said Bryan.

The gang members had become quite emboldened since the Night of Fire, for they had gotten away yet again with so much evil and many of their enemies had left town.

"Well, lets encourage the weed to grow!" said the Cackler, who took up a water pitcher and made as if to pour it on the head of the Wee Man. As was his nature, he lacked the courage to actually perform the act, but threatened to do so.

To his astonishment the pitcher rose up despite his strength and poured the contents upon his head, then magically refilled to dump on the head of Bryan Gump before refilling again somehow to repeat the action on the Cackler to the astonishment of everybody. A small terrier dog that was with Larry Larch went over and bit both men upon the ankles.

Meanwhile the Wee Man calmly sipped his Guinness for Guinness is good for you.

The two drenched gang members left the bar, pursued by the inexhaustible pitcher.

Having finished his Guinness the Wee Man stood up upon the bar, saying, ""Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the hell, whither thou hasten."

"That was Ecclesiastes," said Suzie aloud. "Verse 9:10."

"Young lady, this year I predict you shall finally find a man worth your time," and the Wee Man pointed at her.

"O nuts!" Suzie said. "All the men that is are not worth a load of rock salt."

"We shall see!" said the Wee Man. "You have been unlucky in love, and we could talk about it at length, but I must now return to Tir nan Og." And with that the Wee Man clapped his hands and there was a flash and the lights went out. When the lights came back on with Padraic throwing the breaker switch the Wee Man had disappeared.

"O heavens!" Dawn said looking past her waistband. "The Wee Man has done it yet again!"

Padraic strode off to the restroom with a red face and Suzie sat down on her stool abruptly crossing her legs and placed her anthropology book on her lap.

The Man from Minot whispered in the ear of a fetching gal sitting at the tables and the two of them went out giggling. "Cant wait to get them off ya," someone heard the gal say.

Larry's terrier ran around in circles -- it was wearing a charming set of mini-boxers.

When Padraic came back he said, "The man's a sodding pervert!"

"Are ya meaning to go around the rest of the night commando, so to speak, Padraic?" said Dawn coyly.

"Humph!" was all Padraic said.

Once again, the Wee Man had transformed everyone's knickers into unmentionables the nature of which matched each person's secret disposition. Or fantasy.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

MARCH 12, 2018

WINTER IS THE CURTAIN, BUT SPRING TAKES THE BOW

So you have had it with somber skies and rain and snow in some places and cold, dank days. Signs are appearing everywhere that something is about to change, as this image of a Japanese plum tree attests.

Take heart my friends. Winter will not last forever, nor will Trump and his ilk. You can drive Nature out with a pitchfork, as a friend used to say, but it always comes roaring back.

HOME, HOME IS WHERE I WANNA BE

So anyway. The fogs returned to the Bay, which is the one thing, weather-wise, that has not changed, for when the fogs return, that means the seasons are about to change.

All along the narrow lanes of old town, the gardens are starting to produce tender shoots.
Up along the winding roads of Marin, the buckeyes, barren for so long, now start to erupt new green florets. Up through the ashes that extend for miles along highway 29, small green buds appear.

Up in the snow country, the first arrows announcing tulips have pierced the crusty cover.

Small events are taking place down there beneath the snow. Something definitely is going on down there.

Ms. Ameida's chickens have started to venture from their warm, dry roost in this time, running the risk of enticing the racoons and other predatory creatures.

The students of Ms. Morales have started preparing green shamrocks for the Irish Day in expectation that Easter is not far behind.

Much on the Island has not changed at all, despite recent events. The Island will always be an island, with its own idiosyncracies and peculiar attachments no matter how hard the developers and landlords seek to destroy it. Eventually the Island will become just like Manhattan, a sort of insular idea of itself that contains many contradictions, but nevertheless retains character.

Overhead, the wheel of stars has brought the figure of Orion around to the full view of anyone who looks up.

Out on the sea-lanes, Pedro piloted his boat, El Borracho Perdido, with his first mate Ferryboat in the cabin giving woof to the wave.

He missed the old radio program once hosted by Pastor Rotschue, for the newer fellow felt although very ernest and young, not quite the same sort of avuncular voice that had helped guide Pedro on the sea-lanes for some thirty years.

Yet change is something to be expected. Old friends die and old traditions morph into other practices. You cannot fossilize, for there you die and sit there like a prune in a dish and who wants that in their bed!

The other night he thought he had seen a yacht on radar, perhaps in distress and drifting north without power, but no hail or flare was responded, so he had let it go. Maybe a smuggler or something into which he should not pry. Had he known that he had witnessed the final hours of the Indomitable he would have certainly done something. But as it stood, it was two ships in the night, passing with no notice of one another and these days so much of what used to be was now something strange.

The prow of the boat pounded the waves until it soon was time to drop the nets and begin the work that would last well past dawn. Some things never change, despite global climate and peculiar politics.

On the Island, the Old Same Place felt oddly empty as Padraic and Dawn prepared for the busy St. Paddy's day thing. Cardboard shamrocks went up and rainbows with pots of gold and glitter and, in anticipation of a return of the Wee Man, Dawn wisely set aside a store of comfy knickers, for that Wee Man was known for his naughty tricks over the years.

Indeed some things would not change after the Night of Fire.

Yet, as the sun faded behind the hills, Pahrump puttered on his scooter up the long alameda that led into Silvan Acres to arrive at the decrepit house that now sheltered the old Household of Marlene and Andre. With Pahrump was Martini, who had been much distressed to find his former home reduced to ashes and all his electronic projects utterly destroyed.

"This place looks like crap," Martini said.

Marlene came out on the porch wiping her hands with a dishrag.

"Hi Martini," Marlene said. "Welcome to your new home."

Right then the sound of the old ghost train, which only some innocents could hear, echoed across the hills and vales of Marin as it trundled its way along the path of the old railbed, passing through Yolanda Station and San Geronimo before cutting up through Silvan Acres over the ridge to vanish in the mists of time.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

MARCH 4, 2018

WAITING ON A TRAIN

This image comes from a former train station depot that sat along the line that extended along what is now Sir Francis Drake Blvd out from San Rafael to the coast. Nothing of the old railbed remains save for a few of these relics scattered along the way.

As Island-Lifers will know we have a special fondness for old trains and train-lore. So here is the San Geronomo Depot. At the moment it is preserved as a museum and is closed for most of the year.


WHAT'S GOING ON

Island-life is shifting focus at the moment from Babylon, which has less and less of value to report these days, to East Bay and North Bay events. We continue to get PR's from the Alameda Rent Control people who have not stopped the good fight against greed and the destructive effects of the Rental Crisis. So stay tuned as we re-organize the offices.

HOME, HOME IS WHERE I WANNA BE

So anyway. In a glade on the edge of the tiny hamlet that turned out to be called Silvan Acres, various members of Marlene and Andre's Household made their goodbyes. Not far was an infrequently visited bus stop, which the girls Aisling and Jasmine told them would take one or all of them to San Rafael.

To their great astonishment, when the bus arrived, out stepped Marlene, Andre, Rolf, Suan and Snuffles, who told the shipwreck survivors that there was no going back as the old house had been entirely destroyed by fire when the old furnace had exploded. Destroyed, too, was the pink eviction notice sent by the greedy Mr. Howitzer, which had propelled Rolf and Suan to go looking for a new place over the past few weeks.

Mr. Howitzer had thought to capitalize upon the Air BnB craze and turn the place into a sort of high-priced hotel, but of course that plan would have to wait for some sort of reconstruction.

"Howsh go BOOM!" said Snuffles. "All gone! Eben my wine!" He looke disconsolate about that last fact.

The crew told Rolf and Suan all about how they had gotten on board Mr. Howitzer's dry-docked yacht with The Editor and how the boat had broken away from its moorings because Mr. Howitzer had gone cheap with N.Eptitude Construction and the hopelessly incompetant Depuglia Brothers and how the ship had drifted until it foundered and it was a miracle they had all survived.

Rolf and Suan had found a sort of ramshackle place in the woods rented by a squat man named Walter Nachhall. It leaked, it creaked, and it was infested with mice and scorpions lived in the attic, but it was something.

Rachel, who still had her apartment on the third floor of the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum, decided to return on the bus with Pahrump, who wanted to fetch his scooter. So they all hugged each other and said goodbye and Rachel climbed aboard and the little bus took off down the road to disappear down a long avenue of trees, perhaps never to see The Editor or her friends again.

"Speaking of whom", asked Marlene. "Where is the Editor?"

The castaways all looked at a tree growing in the middle of the glade.

"Tell you later," Javier said. "Let's go look at the house."

They all trooped up there over the warped boards of the porch and Rolph shoved the creaky door open with his shoulder.
A startled pigeon flew through the exposed rafters, allowing a fair amount of dusk to descend. Some kind of animal skittered in the fireplace chimney.

"It does need some fixup," Suan said. "But it's all we could afford."

Meanwhile, far away and across the Bay, Mr. Howitzer snarled to Dodd as he chauffeured the magnate from the ashes of his former rental property on Otis to the Marina, "I'll be damned if they get one penny from the security deposit! If there are any survivors that is!"

When they got to the marina where Mr. Howitzer went to check on the status of the yacht repainting, Mr. Howitzer was further incensed to discover instead of a freshly painted yacht a forest of broken timbers that had been the drydock frame.

"Where the hell is my boat?" shouted Mr. Howitzer.

Back at the former Household Martini and Tipitina stared in disbelief at the place where they had lived for years. The ironmongery garden still stood there and there stood Pahrump's scooter, a bit worse for wear with scorch marks on its frame, but the house was gone save for a pile of charred rubble.

"Where IS everybody?" Martini said.

As evening drew on and the air became chill, a solitary figure, somewhat bedraggled but yet walking with the statuesque stride of a dancer, descended the OX bus on Santa Clara to make her way down the street and up the steps of the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum, and then climb the weary three flights of stairs to the top floor and down the hall where someone had been waiting impatiently for dinner many hours.

The sound of heavy cat feet landing on the floor thumped through the apartment and there came the sound next of a hungry mewing.

"Hello Henry," said Rachel. "Back home again!"

"Meowrlrr!"

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay, as it also traversed the Island to die between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

FEBRUARY 25, 2018

I WISH I HAD MY SCHAUKELPFERD BACK

If you head east out along the Tiburon peninsula you will find that the roadway makes an exaggerated bend around a large meadow and what appears to be a park before cutting up over the rise and down to Tiburon itself and the tony neighborhoods of Belvedere, NorCal's response to BonAir Heights and exclusive Beverly Hills. Most travelers bypass this cirque to get to their destinations, but centered in this park is a 3/4 sized bronze statue of a horse, who apparently, by nearby plaques, is named Blackie. So this entire meadow, causing the main thoroughfare to swing widely out of its way, is Blackie's Meadow.

Okay then. A Marin curiosity fixed upon the landscape as if it were some memorial without supporting history. Go figure. Kids like it so it cannot be all that bad.

 

WHAT'S GOING ON

Heard some quiet powerhouses are slipping into the Bay Area in March. Chris Smither, the go-to man for fingerpicking Appalachian style acoustic country blues -- now that Cephas and Wiggins are gone -- will be performing around the Bay at various venues, but most notably the new Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. The New Orleans born Native Son seems to be finally hitting his stride in his sixties after winning a battle against some personal demons.

In a very rare West Coast appearance, Richard Shindell will revivify his collaboration with Lucy Kaplansky and Dar Williams on Sunday, April 15. Richard left the US during the Bush Error to live as an expat in Rio de Janeiro and when he travels, tends to hug the Eastern Seaboard. He is a seeker, like Leonard Cohen was, attending a Catholic seminary before departing to attend a Zen Buddhist monastery. His lyrics are poetic, insightful, and packed with social conscience.

You may have noticed the sound of firecrackers and smelled the smoke. No, its not another shoot-out among the gangstas and the gangbangers. It is Chinese New Year! The Lunar New Year celebration began 02/16 and more or less ended on the 24th with parades everywhere, with notably the one in San Francisco featuring Gum Lung, the 268 foot-long Golden Dragon chasing the evasive ball. This is the Year of the Dog.

The Dog occupies the eleventh position in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac . You are a “Dog Chinese zodiac animal” if you are born in one of these years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018.

People born in the Year of the Dog are usually independent, sincere, loyal and decisive according to Chinese zodiac analysis. They are not afraid of difficulties in daily life. These shining characteristics make them have harmonious relationships with people around them.

Strengths
Valiant, loyal, responsible, clever, courageous, lively
Weaknesses
Sensitive, conservative, stubborn, emotional, critical

The element associated with this year is Earth. A survey of Horoscopes indicates a few things in common for Dog people -- uncertainty, stress, and change. 2018 will be a year in which Dog people need to find the balance between work and health more than any other time. Lovelife might take a beating, unless a Dog can find a good Rabbit, who also is forecast for an iffy year of troubles. Good fortune is not guaranteed and the year may end up with much frustration, especially regarding health while wealth might increase, with a big emphasize on maybe\might. This is a year to be mindful of changes, especially in lifestyle. Perhaps a good year to stop smoking and get exercise.

There is one notable person born under the dog sign we simply must mention, if only because of a first for this man.

According to Ivana Trump, the current United States president is not a dog lover. Donald Trump is the 4th American president born under the Dog Year (born on June 14, 1946), but is the first American president to hold presidency in the Year of the Dog and the only President to own no dog.

Other famous dogs include Elvis Presley, Dame Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Steven Spielberg, both Prince William and Kate Middleton, Justin Bieber, Madonna and Mother Teresa.

You dog you.


ANOTHER ROUND OF BLUES

So anyway, to recap what has happened over the past few weeks, should you, Dear Reader, just be returning to these pages now, inhabitants of Marlene and Andre's Household had to flee for their lives when the old furnace beneath the house, aging and decaying for years, wiring gnawed by rats, suddenly exploded on the night that the Angry Elf gang accidentally blew up their warehouse when a gang member lit a cigarette inside the building packed with incendiary material intended for arson attacks. The ensuing conflagration spread to several other buildings, including the Offices of Island-Life, forcing the Editor to flee with his laptop and a few items tossed into a haversack and slung over the oar given him as a present on his birthday a few years ago. With him went Rachel, the AA, and Festus, the hamster. They took refuge in Mr. Howitzer's dry docked yacht, not knowing that it had been the incompetent Depuglia brothers who had built the support trestle. The explosions of propane tanks along the shore shook the structure so much the boat slid back, powerless, into the water and drifted out into the Bay where they encountered Jose and Javier, and Pahrump in a dingy which had lost its power by way of running out of gas.

Denby, seeking to escape murderous members of the Angry Elf gang, first hit in the reeds by the shore, then poled out on a raft, intending to keep to the area that remained three feet deep for about one hundred yards, but he could not control the raft and so he, too drifted into the Bay until, caught by the same currents that had snagged the other two craft he came upon Mr. Howitzer's yacht adrift and sculled over to climb on board with the others.

We last left Mr. Howitzer's Indomitable drifting in a storm directly for the reefs at Sir Francis Drake Estuary when the keel of the doomed ship breaks upon the rocks and the cabin windows shatter.

###

The Editor trudged with his haversack and oar. He felt, in retrospect, that had he known what was to come, he would have done many things differently, but still wound up in the same place, the same time, the same situation. He was a man who had traveled far after the fall of Saigon. He had seen the cities of man and learned their ways and had many adventures. He had suffered much, due to the sadistic intransigence of the Angry Elf, and he had tried to save his companions, but he could not. They had devoured the cattle of the son of a Californian King who owned the Hyperion Ranch. Now they were kept in thrall under his harsh domain and prevented from going home.

Now begins this new story of a man who was never at a loss and the story of his people who became wanderers far from their Island home.

The morning after the Indomitable foundered on the reef, they were amazed to find each other alive, sodden and bedraggled on the shore of Drake's Estuary where once a thriving oyster farm had existed, but now was no more, so no sign of human life was there, but themselves as they pulled out of the sand, the Editor heaving up like Manannán, rising with rivulets of seagreen water pouring down.

Many were the ships that had foundered there on those reefs during the Spanish Colonial days. Drake, a more practiced and astute seaman than most, had escaped such a fate by deliberately careening his ship on the sand during known high tide. Others who followed, like Cermeno and Vizcaino had not been so practiced.

The main thing was that they survived. The next thing was how to proceed in an apparent un-peopled wilderness to continue to survive. Although none of them were thinking philosophically about this, but their condition was a classic California problem: you have encountered disaster and lost everything. What next?

This experience, among all others, unites Californians with something in common.

The mouth of Drake Estuary sits far out to the west, emitting tidal flow from various sloughs that congregate into a narrow inlet bounded by high rocky cliffs and a sort of gentle admittance on the east end where the oyster beds used to drape long strings of seed oysters into the brackish water.

The land is owned by the US Government as part of the National Park system, but a family had retained a 100 year lease to operate private industry there and the lease had recently expired, so now there remained only the country road paved with oyster shells and abandoned wood-frame buildings slated for either demolition or preservation as a museum, for the ways of the USNPS were mysterious and deep ever since the days of the Water Wars.

The Water Wars: that is another story told at another time.

So any way, it was up that dusty shellmound road the émigrés trudged, led by the Editor.

Eventually, after many adventures, they arrived at Point Reyes Station where they all boarded the bus. All seemed to bode well for returning home until a woman with a shi tzu began to yap about the Editor's oar threatening her wiffle wuffle dingus schweetie.

Dogs have always held a special place in Island-Life, but the crew found themselves in foreign parts where the attitudes of self-deception towards some dogs overwhelm the dictates of common decency and common sense.

The entire crew was put off in what seemed the middle of a forested nowhere, surrounded by tall trees and lush overgrowth and were told they were "fairly near Lagunitas", which meant nothing to any of them as the bus with its entitled rider with her shi tzu continued onward undisturbed.

"Go back to where you came from you hippies!" shouted the woman through the window.

The Editor, normally well dressed in button-down shirt, vest, slacks and docksiders, felt aggrieved by the state of their bedraggled, shipwrecked dress, but nothing was to be done. The troupe soldiered on

Along they marched until they came to a field on the right and, footsore and hungry and tired, they fanned out in that glade and two girls came upon them. One, with the biggest brown eyes you had ever seen looked at the Editor with his burden and said, "What is that?"

The Editor set down his rucksack. "Hello Missy. What is your name?"

As it turned out her name was Jasmine and her sister's name was Aisling.

"So what is that thing you carrying?" repeated Jasmine.

"So you really do not know what this is?" asked the Editor.

"We never seen nothing like that in Silvan Acres," Jasmine said.

"Then this must be the place," the Editor said. And with that he lifted the ship's oar high and brought it down to drive deep into the earth.

The trees trembled and the ground shook and the oar swelled with a cracking and sprouted branches and leaves and took root there and the branches enveloped the Editor as he stood until his body could not be seen anymore and where there had been a man and an oar suddenly stood there a tree.

They all stood there in shock.

"For Pete's sake," Javier said. "Now what do we do?"

Far from the sea, in a land where some people did not know the purpose of an oar, the sound of the ghost train that had once travelled the length of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard echoed in a wavery note as the train cut up the hill through unincorporated Silvan Acres, riding over the crest of the fog shrouded hills as it headed to a mysterious unknown destination in the dense forests of the north, leaving behind only the sound of nightbirds, farmyard dogs, and coyotes

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

 

FEBRUARY 18, 2018

THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT

 

This week we have an image done by Carol Balding Taylor who is an artist living in the Gold Coast area of the Island. Carol has been rendering images for quite a while and we are always pleased to present her work.

PSA I

From time to time we come across information important to us in NorCal which we share in the form of PSA's. From reader Thomas Hodge we have some important information which is going into the Sidebar.

As all of us know the past year has seen catastrophic fires succeeded by horrific slides as rains loosened fire denuded soil. Up along Sir Francis Drake we observed White's Hill come down with tons of earth onto the roadway and Highway 1 was blocked for months by the same sort of events north and south.

We are grateful to Mr. Hodge for supplying links to sites that describe what to do and how to do it regarding mudslide danger.

Mudslide Safety for the Home: How to Assess Your Risk and Take Preventative Action

Red Cross: Landslide Safety Checklist

Landslide & Mudslide Safety

Weather Wiz Kids: Landslides

PSA II

On a similar vein, a casual foray in the hardware store brought to our attention a commonly observed safety device called Emergency Hammer. The Emergency Hammer concept is obtained in two forms: a sort of dual spike hammer with a small razor built into the handle, which is meant to be mounted somewhere in the cab of the car\truck within easy reach, and a keychain device with a spring-loaded spike combined with a large razor edge that is protected by a plastic guard until ready for use.

Living on an Island, we get stories every year about cars driving off of bridges or docks only to be found weeks later with the occupants still inside, so this is not a minor matter for us. Just about everybody here pays attention to the problem of what to do if the car becomes submerged. Then again, you do not have to live on an Island. Marin County has been subject to flooding which has cost lives of people driving in automobiles through flooded zones.

To skip past about 100 Youtube videos we can say that if you own a late model car newer than 2016 you can toss both devices away in the garbage -- they will not work.

In fact, as of 2013, the NHSTA has mandated a change in auto manufacturer windshield glass from tempered glass to laminated glass. Tempered glass is designed to shatter into tiny pieces that do not injure the car occupants or First Responders with dangerous shards.

Laminated glass is designed to resist all shattering to prevent a body from exiting the vehicle upon impact.

Furthermore, extensive testing has shown that most versions of the Emergency Hammer require extensive practice with yards of seat-belt material before the user can find the precise angle at which the razor will slice the belt and often no one can ever find this angle no matter how much they try.

So you are submerged in the Estuary with the water rising above your neck and now must PRACTICE how to escape?!

The other thing is that there is a common myth that if you wait until the water level in the car is the same as outside the car, you can then open the door.

Sorry to say, this also does not work; do not ask how we know this -- we just know and accept it. The reason you cannot open the door when the water outside appears to be the same level as in the car is that water continues to enter the car through the trunk while the care nose dives long after the driver's compartment is filled, causing an imbalance of pressure. The only way out is via the window.

If you have not opened the window before the computer beneath your feet under the floorboards is shorted out, you will certainly die.

There are several devices on the market that primarily appeal to the Survivalist types as those things consist of large fixed-blade knives with hooks that are most certainly never going to be found in your average family sedan, and which may cause problems with the Law if discovered in your vehicle during a traffic stop even though they do work on the older glass type.

So, if you own an older model car, then the Rescue-Me device is your best bet, as the spring-loaded carbide-tip will shatter tempered glass easily and the larger surface area of the razor provides better chances for slicing through seat-belt material which must meet DOT standards for toughness unlike paracord or any other binding material.

Hopefully this information is useful to you. You can see what type of glass was used in your vehicle if made between 2013 and 2017 by looking into the corner where the DOT specs are listed. It will say Laminated if the glass is of that type.


ON AN ISLAND

So anyway. The Old Same Place was bustling and there was a clatter and a chatter from within. The fires had been put out and the First Responders had found no bodies and yet Certain Individuals were unaccounted for. The body-sniffing dogs were brought in from the Sheriff's Office and a company started sifting thorough the ashes of Marlene & Andre's Place for bone fragments as Marlene and Suan and Rolf stood there holding hands. This is the kind of reality to which we in NorCal have become accustomed. Late in the news was the information that Mr. Howitzer's yacht was no longer in dry dock and was also missing.

The Coast Guard was called. Nobody knows who called the Coast Guard as land-sea rescues have always been a problem on the Island due to jurisdictional language confusions, according to the report on the last disaster in which human lives were lost.

Seems folks in the PD do not know how to talk to the folks in the FD and neither one knows how to talk to the CG and all three have a confusion on how to talk to anybody with their wits about them in just about any agency you can name.

So people die. It's a problem and nobody seems to have an answer but the PD did get more money to play with for their Rescue Boat. Which has yet to be employed. And they seem to be happy with the situation as it stands.

The FD is much put out about this favoritism, as they see it, in which the PD got something out of someone's death and they did not. The CG is much put out on being called to rescue someone standing in three feet of water, which certainly obviated use of their impressive Cutter with a draft of some 20 feet at the keel.

"Please do not call us again for such stupid things," said the CG commander and both the island PD and FD shifted their feet with embarrassment before going back to business as usual.

Perhaps someone should convene a Commission, but nobody is accepting responsibility for doing so even years after the event.

In any case, certain individuals are missing and there is much discussion about this in the Old Same Place Bar.

As the Angry Elf gang drove past the entrance, Suzie bolted out the door to throw a bottle at their red truck, screaming, " You ASSHOLES! YOU ARE THE CAUSE OF ALL OF THIS EVIL! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!" Which she continued to yell until Padraic and Dawn brought her back inside, the lovely woman in tears for the loss of her dear friends.

Meanwhile, far to the North, Denby cooled his heels through another V-Day, glad for his circumstances for there was no way that he could now get in worse trouble than any time before. He sat with Rachel in the Galley after both of them had scoured for scraps of anything edible without finding much more than a tin of water crackers, which they shared.

"Well," said Rachel. "You could stand to lose some weight anyway."

"Happy V-day," Denby said. "I love you."

"You do not," Rachel said indignantly. "You love someone else and I know it."

Denby sighed. "That is true. But I love everybody more or less in some way if not shunted aside."

The entire ship groaned with agonized sounds of tortured metal and breaking timbers above.

"Are you Jewish?" Rachel said after a while.

"That is the first time anyone has asked me that question while I was still wearing my pants, Denby said.

"O! Really!"

Upstairs, or above ships, or whatever you call it, Festus was talking to the Editor.

"Frankly I find this situation to be extreme," Festus said as the ship shuddered after striking something beneath.

"You are always free to quit at any time," said The Editor, his employer.

"That right there is the epitome of California's labor market and perhaps that of the Nation. The ship is about to founder and the only thing you have is the obscenely named Right to Work Law. This is just a perfect example."

"You are free to leave at any time." The Editor said, while all around the angry sea tossed and churned with whitecap waves among the jagged rocks.

The entire ship shuddered again, followed by the sound of splintering and tortured metal.

"I suspect it is already too late," Festus said.

"You know I have always loved all of you," said the Editor.

"Still," said Festus on the pitching deck, hanging on to a halyard. "That is all too late if it ever meant anything at all."

Right then the cabin window burst and in rushed the cold, salt sea.

The sound of foghorns and the train clarion rippled in waves across the Bay and died over the smoldering embers of the humble Edwardian cottage that had been the Household of Marlene and Andre as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the gloom to an unknown destination.

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

 

FEBRUARY 11, 2018

ON AN ISLAND

This week, to mark the start of Island-Life's transition we present a shot of a bird sanctuary located on an island set in an archipelago of ponds near the Bay up in one of the North Counties not far from the areas affected by the recent Sonoma fires. We will always carry an affection for the Island, our former Hometown, from which we were driven like refugees by the actions of gangsters. There will always be an Island in the heart.

WHERE DOES THE LOVE OF GOD GO WHEN THE WAVES TURN THE MINUTES TO HOURS

So anyway. The morning arrived with a semi-bright luminescence as the boot drifted on swells. The sky appeared gray but light and on all horizons around the bright lit boat not a smidgen of land could be seen. Apparently they had drifted beneath the Golden Gate and were now far a-sea. with only the Farralones rocks to be expected next. The iPhones and other devices they had with them had all failed due to lack of charge and the ship remained without lights, electricity, or power of any kind. There was a radio, but it did not work.

What I would give for a decent, working telephone, said Rachel. I miss my ivory handset rotary with gold appointments. She wailed.

In the distance those on board discerned a voluble complaint and familiar voices. The voices belonged to Javier and the others on the powerless skiff that had swept out at the same time as the Indomitable.

The Editor shouted out to them and Javier responded they had no idea where they were and what to do about it.

The Editor responded that had been the case for Javier all his life and so nothing had changed.

A number of calls across the water were made and contact was established with the lost party, which employed its oars none to soon as the little dingy had started to take on water several hours previously. The dingy survivors threw a rope and were soon attached to the hapless Indomitable and all fatigued, hungry, and sodden residents of the dingy soon climbed aboard the Indomitable only to encounter yet more fatigued, hungry and chilled individuals. As for the dingy, they attached cables from the powerless winch but were unable to lift it so that it could drain.

Meanwhile on the Island, the fires had been put out and Mr.Howizter was wroth for the loss of an income source and the lack of tenants upon whom to blame his misfortune. As far as he knew, all had perished and this was bad because that meant there was no one to sue for damages.

Officer O'Madhauen had a great deal to do with routing traffic around the various fire zones so as to prevent looting, snooping, and improper lane changes and speed infractions around the destruction.

Nothing was worse and more damaging to the social fabric than moving violations during a time of disaster, so Officer O'Madauen applied himself with a will.

The Almeida family, awakening to a morning of smoke and ashes in the air, seeing the chickens all distressed and even the noxious raccoons in retreat, noting the increasing rents that offered nothing as reward, made plans to relocate to a berth that might genuinely call itself a small town, instead of a fake metropolis with walls lined with Mafioso and greedy property management firms. They had old family connections up north in the old Portuguese fishing village that abutted the Land of the Shark.

Chiton Souvlaki, Wilmer Titrake, MD (air surgeon), Borg Busby Rubbitsum - the proprietor of A Touch of Wonder, and Marvin of Marvin's Merkins, all had gotten exorbitant rent increases from Mr. Howitzer's firm and were looking to relocate to more inviting environments.

Wootie Kanootie's herd continued to thrash across the Bay until they reached the temporary harbor of Angel Island, and there took momentary refuge, startling the deer that already lived there.

It seemed everyone was on the move and all the chatter in the Old Same Place Bar was about where to go and what to do next. Denby had not played in the snug for days, and seemed to have disappeared somewhere god only knows and so Padraic reconnected the old jukebox, hoping some locally retired jazz player would drop in and offer services on the cheap without expecting much other than a single free beer and a plate of food as pay. The right to practice his art should be enough, said the always frugal Padraic.

Meanwhile the Indomitable continued to drift out beyond the Golden Gate. Currents had fortunately brought her back towards the coast away from the sharp, jaggy Farralones and the lost crew began to hear the crash of breakers again after six days at sea. They did not know it, but they were approaching the mouth of Drake's Estuary with its imposing cliffs that some said resembled the slate colored escarpments of Dover.

And which were just as dangerous, for the bottom of the estuary was littered with the fragments of lost Spanish colonial ships.

The sun arose in a red ball and as the day progressed, the wind began to thrum the guywires of Mr. Howitzer's wayward yacht. As the day proceeded to an early night, winds whipped the decks and sent a salt spray everywhere on board, sending everyone into the cabins. The seas became unruly and began to pound the craft around like a kitten batting a ball of twine. Things flew off of the shelves and tables. What was not bolted down skidded across the floor, including Festus, who cried out with indignation until Rachel took him up and wrapped him in a towel.

The crashing of the surf became louder although they could not see through the pitch dark of the cloud-shrouded heavens.

Steadily, the Indomitable marched like a true Conservative towards the uncertain doom that awaited all aboard.

The sound of foghorns and the train clarion rippled in waves across the Bay and died over the smoldering embers of the humble Edwardian cottage that had been the Household of Marlene and Andre as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the gloom to an unknown destination.

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

 

February 4, 2018

JUST ONCE . . . IN A VERY BLUE MOON

The new year was ushered in by a gorgeous full moon, which has evolved into a super blue moon for the month of February. Here is a shot taken by Island-Lifer Tammy over the PBC in the East End.

SANTIAMO KAPERFAHRT

So anyway. All around the grey pall sealed them into their private world aboard the powerless dingy, riding upon the swells and drifting through a dense fog. The morning came and they scarcely knew it for they could not see the sun piercing the heavy cover overhead and all around them. Pahrump, Jose, Javier, and Martini sat with Denby in the dingy that had belonged to Mr. Howitzer. They had a pair of oars, but knew not what to do with them as there was no inkling of where and in what direction lay the safe harbor of land. For all they knew they had been pulled out by the tide under the Golden Gate and were miles now at sea with only the Farallones present to dash their craft into pieces on its sharp crags.

The day's somber glow continued as the minutes passed into hours. They heard the sound of fog horns, but could not tell from which direction was the source and what the nature, if lighthouse or moving ship equipped with radar. If one of them could know in which direction to swim, he could set out in the chill waters, hoping to reach land and call for support before hypothermia sank all their hopes.

Meanwhile the massive yacht named The Indomitable, also an erstwhile Howitzer possession, twirled in this same murk with the Editor, Rachel and Festus aboard for crew. Mr. Howitzer, always the classic cheapskate landlord he was, had refused to pay for a full hauling of the vessel to dry dock as was customary -- he had paid to have the ship beached and lifted on shoreline trestles down the way from the main repair facility so as to avoid paying storage fees. Because of this, the ship had broken loose during high tide when the extra weight had clambered aboard, along with substantial repair material Mr. Howitzer had obtained cheap from China in container loads, intending to sell off much of it to recoup his expenses.

So now this massive ship was twirling in the middle of the San Francisco Bay with some of our beloved Island-Life personalities aboard. They had climbed onto the ship as the most likely refuge as the Offices of the Island LIfe newsroom burned due to malicious activities and some basic stupidities performed by the Angry Elf Gang. The Angry Elf gang had amassed a fair quantity of incendiary devices in the cellar, in the former living room and in the former bedrooms of a Painted Lady Edwardian that stood a couple housefronts down from the Offices. When the Household of Marlene and Andre exploded due to the faulty wiring of the furnace that had been the domain of, again Mr. Howitzer, the embers had fallen upon the Angry Elf firetrap, packed cheek by jowl with arsonist delights. Molotov cocktails, pipebombs, car incendiaries, plastique, IEDs, C4 military explosive, and all sorts of things the gang utilized during their day to day and nightly operations along with countless racks of pills and powders derived substantially from the poppy flower as well as crystal methamphetamine cooking in brass kettles.

It was a Devil's warehouse and when it went up it went up in quite a spectacular fashion.

So it was The Indomitable drifted from shore with our friends aboard, watching as the fog closed in and turned the distant infernos, of which there were several, into dim glowing blobs in the mist.

At first, there was a well stocked bar with scotch of decent quality, and a freezer with some remnants of a party. A cheese plate and sandwiches gone a bit stale and Evian water. A package of crackers was a glorious find. Finding a way to activate lights and electricity turned out to be more of a problem and so the group sat there largely in the dark, and the Editor retired to a sort of stateroom, while Rachel found another cabin with a bed and coverlets and there she slept until the sun rose with the same effect it had upon the other castaways. Piedro found a cot somewhere in the galley. They had no idea where they were and no idea where they were going and no idea what to do when they got there, if ever they did safely.

They had no electricity and so nothing in the captain's wheelhouse worked. There was no radio, only the dense fog and the maddening fog horns that did none of them any good.

Thus passed the first day for all those adrift on the Bay. Little did they know others had taken to the water on rafts and rowboats so as to escape the firey devestation and the final triumph of the Angry Elf gang that went from house to house to plunder the belongings of the escapees. This has always been the way. The Vichy government, collaborators, and looters: all the same, extracting gold from the teeth of the dead.

The Editor stood on the deck of the helpless Indomitable and listened to the water until the sun obviously had vanished. Everyone had retired to those places aboard ship seemed to be most safe. The Island was finished, as far as he was concerned. There was no going back now. The Editor had seen the cities of man and encountered the savage nature of War. He had tried to save his companions, but he could not, for they must have eaten the carrion of the Sun and so inflamed an old enemy. In any case he had wandered far after the Vietnam War and the sack of Saigon and had learned the ways of Humanity and all the cities of kings. He had thought he would bring this lesson to the Island, now riven by the land curse, but the Island would not have it for they were a stiff-necked people, infected with greed. Now the birds were passing overhead -- he could hear them through the dense fog cover. It was the time now for going, and he must now follow the birds.

Yet still, Neptune hated him for his insouciance and bore an infantile grudge, causing the helpless ship to spin in an eddy there in the Bay, to cause grief and longing among its survivors who slept as best they could by the dim, guttering light of failing AA batteries and Apple appliances.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the Bay and died over the smoldering embers of the once stately Edwardian cottage that had been the Household of Marlene and Andre as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the gloom to an unknown destination.

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

 

JANUARY 28, 2018

THIS ISLAND LIFE


FIRE IS THE DEVIL'S ONLY FRIEND

So anyway. The entire Strand famed up in ruins. The beachhouse that housed the sailboarder's club was a pile of embers. The meeting hall for the Parlor 33 1/3 of the Native Sons of the Golden West was laid into ashes and the Angry Elf's gang ran hither and thither stealing and looting from the burning buildings, entirely at liberty to do so since the call had gone out to collect all able-bodied citizens to assist with the common disaster. And of course, the Angry Elf gang took this golden opportunity to torch businesses that were wonting in payments, aided with flagons of kerosene. They laughed as they destroyed lives.

The Native Sons parlor collapsed in flames. Next was the Old Same Place Bar with its leather snug as Dawn and Padraic ran out with such things as they could save. The beloved bar with its stained glass windows and its plush stools and the long redwood bartop that had withstood centuries of drams and pints burned before the eyes of the helpless Padraic.

The old man box elder erupted into a tornado of flames, igniting the Island-Life offices and creating a firestorm whirlwind. Rats fled hither and yon. All was being destroyed by fire.

Don Erizo and Dame Herrisson fled from the flaming shrubbery near the College and were smashed flat by automobiles on the road, as was to be expected.

But that is not what happened.

Such destruction is characteristic of an hack, a ne'er do well. An aesthetic simpleton who does not care about his readership.

What happened was far more elegant.

The Angry Elf gang did in fact ignite a fire, but this was not the cause of the mass migration that took place

Remember that some citizens of the Household of Marlene and Andre had been mucking about the Howitzer yacht with its dingy that normally was kept hung in the ship's hoist crane, but during dry dock was set down into the marina, which allowed the boys all sorts of hijinks and capers, using up gas as they piloted the small craft all around the Bay when done with chipping and sanding and painting the larger vessel's hull.

One day Pahrump, Jose, Javier, and Martini and Denby were down in the dingy, making plans for a foray out to Angel Island.

Down below the floorboards of the Household the rats scurried around the old, decrepit furnace that had been let to decay during the Howitzer's possession of the property. On this evening, one brother rat ran across the wires near the igniter and caused an arc that killed him instantly and also started a small fire among the bodies of all his bretheran who had died a similar way for years, and who had dessicated over time into flammable tinder.

Meanwhile the boys set out on their skiff towards Angel Island and were dismayed when the engine cut out, leaving them to drift in the middle of the Bay. No one had thought to fill the gas tanks during their various shenanigans over the the past month. The day faded into night as they drifted, nibbling on crackers and swilling cheap jug wine until the sun sank behind the Golden Gate in flaming rooster tails. The night filled with stars and the moon was swelling to the first full moon of the year, a moon that was destined to be both a Blue Moon and a Blood Moon, which is a rare occurance indeed.

Up in the bedroom Marlene and Andre together examined the letter from Howitzer and Marley LLC, which stated the rent was to rise another impossible fifteen hundred dollars starting next month. This was disaster for the small community packed into the one bedroom cottage. There was no way they could pay that.
"Where the heck is everybody, " Andre said even as both he and Marlene smelled smoke and burning. He and Marlene ran out with little Adam and Snuffles and watched as the house seemed to come alive, begin to breath, expanding with an inhale, then contracting with the sound of cracking boards. The house swelled out again, then, abruptly exploded. The three ran to the Marina along with Sarah and Tipitina and Piedro. There they climbed into Mr. Howitzer's yacht which abruptly detached itself and slid backwards into the water. Festus came scampering along and lept with a super-hamster leap onto the decks, crying out, "Don't leave me guys!"

Even as the Editor looked at his own rent increase, which was as obscene as all those experienced all around the island, the Angry Elf, who was named Neal, set fire to an Audi outside a recalcitrant business on Park Street. The Audi burned with calculated intensity meant to intimidate and cause fear, but suddenly popped with an explosion that sent embers into the row houses there near the narrow alleys named after tree varieties. Houses along Willow caught fire, followed by Elm and then Walnut, where the old majestic box elder ignited.

The Editor sat at his desk, the Offices strangely empty. Where had everyone gone? He felt the old war wounds, relived the firefight. He closed his eyes and leaned back as if to sleep a while, despite this pain in his chest. He was a new recruit standing on a train station about to go somewhere. This could also be a possible ending. The eyes close and the heart simply stops and then one is done with this life. They would find him slumped over his desk the followihng morning, his lips blue and eyes wide open. But then a loud pop awoke him from this reverie. Outside the windows, an orange glow and embers flying. His people were in trouble and he had to save them.

The Editor grabbed a bag and stuffed it with backup hard drives and paraphernalia and slung that over the ship's oar that had been given him by the staff as a birthday present. He ran outside and down to the water with Rachel and Festus. There they found a rowboat and set out from the Marina as the flames rose higher behind them.

Wootie Kanootie's moose herd, frightened by the commotion and the sirens broke loose from their pen and ran about as the sirens wailed and the sparks flew up into the heavens. The herd found themselves hemmed in by the fire engines and the fire itself so they plunged into the Bay en masse and set out to cross it to some sort of unknown safety.

All of this took place as the moon swelled. The various small boats floated without direction and the moose herd, led by the always wayward Eunice, swam for dear life as the fog rolled in over the Bay, heading for some imaginary refuge in the mist as the powerful tides carried them toward the Golden Gate and the shipping lanes.

Pedro awoke in the early hours to see the horizon to the West aglow and the sound of sirens. He roused the entire Almeida family and told them to get ready to evacuate the place. Racoons, who had been circling the chicken pens scampered away in terror.

Mr. Sanchez went to the window to see flashing lights and ambulances and firetrucks rushing past down below on Santa Clara and went to away Ms. Morales.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and died between the smoldering embers of the once stately Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the murk to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

JANUARY 21, 2018

YOU KNOW YOU ARE A SHOOTING STAR


IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

So anyway. We do not have Garrison Keillor to kick around anymore and all branches of government are marshalled, supposedly, lockstep into common agreement. Nevertheless we have a government shutdown because of ... what? Republicans, who are in clear majority, blaming Democrats, who never could accomplish anything unless a Black man or woman initiated the enterprise.

"The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things. Of ships and sealing wax and whether pigs have wings."

That is the way the master of the absurd, Lewis Carroll, introduced the idea of a beginning or the end in medias res. Here we stand with such a similar situation. How can we just turn little Adam, he of the Household of Marlene and Andre, who already has suffered so much, out onto the street? Anyone who would suggest such a thing would have to be quite cold hearted. And then there is the newborn baby to Ms. Morales and Mr. Sanchez. Observe the little tyke there in his cradlebed on the second floor of that apartment in a subdivided Victorian on Central Avenue. He is helpless. How could you abandon this innocent child, you cads you!

Yet, such callous sentiment seems to be the rule for our times. We used to care about the children, their nourishment and their education, but we guess this is just all relics of times gone by and the triumph of hard, cold, money-oriented Trumpism.

Well. We are shocked. Simply shocked.

Here is this Island child, born of course at Summit because due to mishandling of public funds, gross mismanagment of resources and foolishness beyond belief no children are allowed to be born in the Island hospital anymore, unless it is in the taxi going across the water.

Some of you may recall how only a short time ago the neonatal unit and the geropsych units were close because old people and babies don't make money for the hospital.

Well. We cannot allow this to settle.

It is rude. It is ungainly. It is terrifically bad for our reputation as an Island with human and humane concerns. So we would have to wonder how a hack writer would bring an end to 19 years of work. Well, an untalented hack, and savage golem straight out of Brooklyn's ugly tin pan alley would end the opus of Island Life as follows:

On a bleak and windy night striated with dry winds, the Cackler and the Gump went to the secret store of fireworks and flammables that was used to torch the "suggestion cars" in front of troublesome businesses. It was the business of the Angry Elf gang to pursuade individuals and businesses to contribute to the Common Kitty, a percentage of which wound up by devious means in the pockets of the Angry Elf gang.

While this contingent visited the incendiary storage, another group of thugs paid a visit to Denby at his lodgings at the top of the lunatic asylum of St Charles.

They brought with them knives, baseball bats, and a fruitcake left over from last year.

Denby opened the door to encounter this ugly crew and said, "Here you are at last. I have been expecting you."

Other members of the gang gathered outside the Old Same Place Bar where the Angry Elf had experienced much rebuttal to his violent and intolerant ways.

Those gang members began with an hail of stones against the windows of the bar, which were followed by bottles of gasoline stuffed with flaming rags.

This was the night, decreed by the Angry Elf, to be the Night of Flaming Shattered Glass.

Patrons in the bar scattered here and there as the stones blew open the windows in a storm of destruction. Then followed the molotov cocktails, devised with sardonic glee by the Angry Elf, who said "I' serve the bartender a cocktail he will not forget!"

In vain Padraic and Dawn and Suzie ran here and there with spritzers and extinguishers as the demonic hail flew into the bar, driving them out to watch helplessly as their life's work was consumed by the flames. The old oaken snug went up in a fury and the broad redwood bartop glowed as a cinder and bottles exploded with the fury of the evil fire. The stools toppled as their steel supports melted, and the propane tanks supplying the kitchen erupted into geysers of fire.

Over at the place where the gang warehoused its materials, the gang stood around and laughed about how they were disconcerting certain individuals with their break-ins and rifling of personal documents. The thug named Squeaker tossed his partially expended cigarette carelessly out at the door opening, but the butt rebounded and returned inside to vanish in the pile of trash and cast off parts from wagons and machinery. No one paid any mind to this event as they talked about revenge and punishing certain people until a smell of burn and smoke began to swell in the area and the crew began to look for its source. By the time they found it, the fire had ignited the walls of the house itself and was rapidly consuming fuel towards the boxes of incendiaries.

Meanwhile the tiki torches for Mr. Howitzer's Hawaiian theme party had started to burn low after all the patrons had passed out from the double strength zombies served up by Dodd, who left the premises to care for his child sick with influenza even as the somnolent guests snored and the tiki torches guttered and sparked until one of them ignited the poolside palm.

After that, it was all drama at the Howitzer residence.

The entire neighborhood awoke to smoke and flames. The Howitzer mansion was burning. Skyrockets and explosions erupted down by the Strand where the former warehouse for the Angry Elf gang exploded and the gang members scattered like rats rather than fight the furious fire even as it took hold on the entire row of houses along Otis, including the Household of Marlene and Andre. Meanwhile the Old Same Place Bar collapsed into glowing embers as the houses all around also took on fire in a savage eruption of demonic fury.

The Island was ablaze with the disaster that Californio's know only too well and all that was good and holy was being destroyed.

The Editor came out from his den to see the world aflame and all being destroyed. He grabbed what he could of the Island-Life records and went down to the Strand with the Island-Life Offices aflame and the old box elder sending up glowing embers into the sky with the Angry Elf gang whooping and hollaring, down to the Bayshore as the ancient Greeks did to the sea, for it is written, "After the defeat at Thermopylea the Greeks descended to the sea in ships."

The roof of the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor 33 and 1/3 began to alight from the rain of hot embers from other places on the Island. All along the Strand the row houses exploded and the Disputed Bicycle Bridge groaned, bent, swayed and collapsed into the Estuary.

Fire in California is a terrifying force. When a Firestorm swells in all its monstrous fury, nothing can stop it and its destruction is both capricious and total as well as horrifying. There are few natural events in this country which can compare with its totality and its enormity. We have seen what happens and it is true and real and terrifying in its absolute and implacable ferocity.

The firestorm swept over the Household of Marlene and Andre and the old stove beneath the house exploded with violence, killing Snuffles and the opossum family and the racoons and Piedro as he slept an exhausted sleep from working all day and causing falling timbers to trap Martini after his long day at the valve factory in Richmond and breaking the legs of Wickiwup the sheepdog who cried in agony. The scanty possessions of the Household were destroyed, including Suan's favorite chemise and Tipitina's sand dollar collection, assembled from the days when they really had serious sand dollars to be found along the Strand and many more personal photographs and things besides.

For days the firey contagion swept the little town, charring Lincoln Park with its once elegant gazebo, Washington Park with its baseball diamond and clapper stork palms, each going up like Roman candles, the newly created Jean Sweeney Open Space Preserve and all its carefully preserved vegetation, sending the humble hedgehog families scurrying amid the black ashes. The facade of the old brick cannery collapsed into ruins. The home of the ducks at Mariner Square Village became nothing but cinders and who knows what became of the ducks themselves. Wootie Kanootie's herd of moose scattered in terror and plunged into the estuary to escape as their stockade burned to the ground. Mastic Senior Center's big entrance sculpture toppled in firey sparks to the ground and all the churches along church row submitted to fire, the devil's only friend.

The rectory of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint dropped its roof upon Father Danyluk, trapping him beneath the Sacristy as Pastor Nyquist attempted to save his friend with a garden hose even as the buildings of Immanuel Lutheran slumped in embers behind him.

In a second floor apartment, charged for rent far too dear, the baby belonging to Ms. Morales wailed as the smoke swelled denser and closer to their humble abode and Ms. Morales stood there determined to fight to the end as Mr. Sanchez valiantly swung his pulaski with the firemen outside, doomed, yet indomitable, their shadows huge against the huge fire that was destroying all they loved.

The bridge from Park Street dropped into the water, followed by the Fruitvale bridge tumbling in flaming gouts that spurted here and there. The monument to "All my Dumb friends" split apart in the heat. Houses all along the lagoon tumbled into the water. The Cribbages and the Blathers piled into helicopters and fast speed boats to escape the destruction, leaving everyone else to their respective fates.

All of this is what would have happened were a hack in charge and a pseudo-artiste like the Angry Elf in charge. The Angry Elf is a fake artist, pretending with glass what others committ with flesh and blood. The Angry Elf is an artist only of pain and discordance. So this is not what happened.

For what really happened, you will have to come back next week and read all about it.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and died between the smoldering embers of the once stately Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the smoky murk to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

JANUARY 14, 2018

CALLING THE MOON

KEYS TO THE HIGHWAY

The time comes for every artist who has constructed an opus that creates its own virtual reality over an extended period of time and effort to find a way to resolve the entire project or find a way to make it self perpetuating.

Different artists have done or not done things to wind up the whole affair. Every Trilogy has a resolving chapter. Every Symphonic sequence has a resolve. Literary opi have presented variegated resolutions. Some, like Berk Breathed, have written simple exits for its characters. One character becomes a eunuch living in Tibet. Another goes to jail. A final frame is presented with a vacant office and scattered papers blowing in the wind.

Done with that, says the creator. Or not, as in the seemingly endless recursion of Star Wars.

In the Odyssey, Homer presents a possible future for our wandering hero who has wandered through so many stories.

William Faulkner kept his unpronounceable Mississippi county alive so that he could milk its content until he died and so that fictional reality remains with us.

No one knows what Garrisson Keillor had in mind for disposition of his Lake Woebegon. He pulled out from major involvement with the radio show, but external events caused him to pull back even further. Ironically, these events resembled stories he himself had created, almost as if he had written his own disgrace. Keillor will remain a solid rock in American letters as a storytelling genius long past the memories of all who now recall him fondly, and Lake Wobegon will persist in the imagination in a sort of stasis, which is, come to think of it, entirely appropriate for the Town that Time forgot.

JRR Tolkein wrote quite an extensive epilogue in footnote form, detailing the fates of all the adventurers and how and when they died and how some passed on to the West to the Undying Lands. His books have been translated into many languages and are as widely read as the Bible.

As for those nasty orcs left running around in bands, the less said the better.

Berk Breathed decided to suddenly empty his Bloom County and send various characters off to bizarre fates. Frankly we feel what happened to Binky was entirely too severe, even as we understand Breathed wanted to make this finish absolute with no possibility of return.

In movie-dom, we have Avatar slyly suggesting a continuation of the story. The Godfather lived on through three murderous films until finally laid to rest as in the original book. And so on.

So now we come to our dear, dear Island. Circumstances have caused us to consider a serious artistic shift, while we are loth to let it all go. There are stories in these folk yet, my friends. They came to life, sometimes against our best wishes, and insist on living on.

Just as it is difficult to imagine the room without us sitting there, we must face the future. One day will come when neither you nor I am here to occupy the chair in the room filled with people. All our inventions will have to stand on their own merit. Yet there remains in any artist, no matter how trivial, the desire that things continue in the world without them. This is the simple desire to have children, but in the form of art, which is normally by nature static.

So it is. We will present two possible endings for the Island. One ending shall be the imagined consequence of a hack who seeks only flamboyant novelty, violence for the sake of entertainment for jaded viewers, cheap tugs on the heartstrings with canned emotions. The sort of easy writing you find in the aisles of the grocery store while waiting for the cashier to bring down the total cost of what you bought without thinking.

And then there will be the other ending, the transcendent one. As in the Life of Pi, where the insurance agents are given an option to pick which sequence of events really did occur, we will provide just such a choice and the choice will determine who you are.

So it is with God. You can believe one thing or another. God is supposedly the ultimate artist. Maybe all that was made is not free of valid criticism, but then, this is all we have. This is the only Reality we have, and I am not so sure there is even a Reality.

IF I WERE TO CALL YOU, WOULD YOU ANSWER

So anyway, the boys got work fixing up Mr. Howitzer's yacht that sat in dry dock at the marina. While scraping and painting the hull and fixing hardware issues that had occurred during the crab pot debacle last year, Javier and Jose and Pahrump would take the dingy out for spins on the water. The dingy, which had been a Boston whaler type of craft in its heyday, moved like an SUV through butter, which meant it had the maneuverability of a tank but without so much power from its single Evinrude motor.

The boys managed to beach the heavy thing twice, forcing Jose to sleep in the sodden hull until high tide floated it free again, yet nevertheless the jolly crew continued to cavort with the boat with gallons of dollar wine aboard to fuel their mad energy.

The New Year had come and gone and the air was latterly heavy with sodden quality, missing the sharp, incisiveness of Winter proper. Each day the sun arose through high cloud, which in normal years indicated that the change of seasons was already underway. Perhaps it was. But much had become uncertain after the fires and the mudslides, claimed by Governor Moonbeam to be the new normal.

Climate change had arrived and not a single George Bush had a thing to say about it.

The Angry Elf gang continued to assemble explosive material in that house off of Santa Clara Avenue and most businesses continued about their business so long as they could still afford the usurious rents.

MLK day was a moderate Holiday, with all government buildings closed and most businesses pretending.

Little Adam asked Marlene about Martin Luther King Jr., for MLK looked a lot like him and he wanted to know. A program about Django Reinhart played on the miniature TV while Marlene cleaned up the kitchen.

Marlene, with her black hair swirling about in a nest, said MLK had been a great man even though he had not wanted to be one, which is to say he was even greater because of it. His dream was to set people free from fear of one another, had been murdered for his pains, and his legacy had nevertheless improved the lot of millions in a society, in a nation, that was not much better than Stalinist Russia to a large portion of the population, and Adam had much to thank for all that.

And yet there was a lot more work to do, as evidenced by the disgraceful utterances spewing from the White House, so Adam had some work cut out for him.

Adam mused on this for a while.

"I wish everybody loved each other like we do in the Household," Adam said. "But I know for a fact that aint gonna happen."

At that moment the red Toyota loaded with members of the Angry Elf gang drove past outside, whooping and cackling their evil laughs. They were headed off to burn someone's car in the street.

"We are like the Roma," Marlene said. "We endure and provide example by the way we live."

"Fur shizzle," Adam said.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

JANUARY 7, 2017

HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN

This week's image comes from Tammy in recognition of the rains that have returned.

-WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

Hard to imagine 20 years ago when Island-Life began that we would still be at it with weekly updates two decades later. What began as an HTML project morphed into an e-zine reporting news and providing event reviews as well as multimedia entertainment, some of which can be accessed via the sidebar and also from our youtube channel.

At various times we have made some unfortunate design modifications, such as the infamously detested "floating radio", but generally we have not tampered much with the look and feel for about twelve years or so. Still Time does what it does and all things are fated to mutation, like it or not. The parents get grey, enfeebled, and find it difficult to get around anymore. The children that scampered after the yellow school bus get jobs, lives of their own, families of their own.

At the holiday dinner, there are empty seats now where people we used to know laughed and told stories. New faces appear with stories of their own. The new year came and went and all up and down the block the xmas trees, some still clinging to ribbons of tinsel, wait beside the blue and green pickup-bins.

Come to think of it, we did not hear anything about our Island tap-dancing Xmas trees which have been visiting the White House each year for a while. Perhaps the present incumbent does not appreciate such frivolity.

So it goes with Island-Life. Time wounds all heals, and the stool at the bar where Old Schmidt used to sit is now vacant and will not be occupied by the old guy ever again. Changes are coming and Chad has been down in the subterranean lab bustling about with modifications to the masthead.

Have no fear; there will not be another version of the floating radio and most of the characters will soldier on. Ms. Morales will continue to teach the poetry of Emily Dickenson, Percy will continue to pilot his magnificent two-toned brown and beige 1929 Mandeville coupe with Madeline by his side, Marvin's Merkins (put a merkin in your firkin!) will not declare bancruptcy, Wootie Kanootie will tend his moose herd forever more, Suan will continue to work the pole at the Crazy Horse, and Denby will most likely never ever get lucky on Valentine's Day, while Mr. Howitzer will continue to raise the rents on everybody.

The sound of the train horn far across the water keened across the estuary and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

DECEMBER 31, 2017

WE'LL MEET AGAIN, DON'T KNOW WHERE, DON'T KNOW WHEN

 

This pic of owls was taken by CB Taylor in the Gold Coast some time ago. It has sat in the hopper a while and now we think it is time to present it to Island-Lifers. It is titled, "Owl be seeing you."



It sorta fits in with the "auld lang syne" theme of the final issue for 2017.

OUR TOWN

It has come round to the end of quite a dismal year of losses and dismay, with a braggart sexual cad sitting in the Oval Office, a long string of set-backs to intelligent advances in environmental, social, and international arenas, plus a number of natural disasters rendered more severe than otherwise by the supposedly fictional Climate Change.

Around home the Rental Crisis rages through the communities, a savage contagion that has been destroying businesses, family life, everyday life for the average working stiff, wrecking traditions, interpersonal relations and the very idea of basic decency.

This past year we saw 34 of our very own die in a horrible fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse, a symptom of this disease caused by greed running unchecked.

To really put the screws to quite an awful year, the horrific fires that destroyed Santa Rosa, Kenwood and other towns in Sonoma were followed by the history-making fires that wiped out Ojai and much of Ventura County to the south.

Yet Time is a spherical prison. There is no way to go back and as Johnny Winter sang, "Life aint easy." We wish for an end to suffering, but there is none. We wish that petty mafias, like that run by the Angry Elf ceased to exist and all the bad guys go to jail, but they do not go to jail and they all die in their ugly, unrepentant beds of old age and in the meantime police continue to shoot innocent people to death.

The only respite appears to be the grave.

That Life continues is more the problem with which we need to deal. Consider that Donald Trump, even though he cannot be wished away, is remains reigned in by the checks and balances of a yet vigorous Democracy. Rail against the Press all he will, the 1st Amendment still stands. Curse the judiciary, and still the process of law remains independent of his strident impulses. Declaim against what he calls Obamacare and still the process of replacing health care reform is dependent upon the same interpartisan agencies of Congress that first made it law. Call foreign heads of state any number of insults and still the Joint Chiefs of Staff are not going to launch a unilateral attack upon anybody, no matter how chafed and dissed this manbaby happens to feel.

The truth is, even though Donald Trump can cause quite a lot of damage to the fabric and culture and laws of the Country, he cannot do just anything he likes as there remain checks and balances devised by the Founding Fathers long ago with a mind that just such a numbskull as Donald Trump would one day achieve power. They foresaw it and they prepared for it.

So as the New Year overwhelms the old one's sorrows, buckle up after your binge and get ready for the long haul. Nothing is over until the Fat Lady sings.

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

So anyway. Everybody pulled back this year for quiet celebrations and commemorations for those who could not be here. Around the Almeida table there were empty seats, more than in years past, seats that once were occupied by uncles and aunts and friends.

At the Old Same Place Bar Suzie cried when Dawn lit a candle for Old Schmidt who had suffered a heartattack last year.

In the Howitzer mansion there was no grand fete even though Dodd and fellow servants had managed to re-erect the fallen Xmas tree which had collapsed with Mrs. Cribbage and Mrs. Blather in a cataclysmic smashing of centuries-old Russian glass ornaments and Hummel figurines during the Xmas gala.

The dinner had not gone well, with Javier adding tequila to the flan and Jose adding Kahlua and brandy to the rice pudding,which caused it to become a sort of a soupy, lumpy mousse that was also inflammable -- as they suddenly discovered when it passed near the candles.

The master chef had ordered the two of them to leave immediately, shouting with quite a red face.

After the disaster of the 15 foot Xmas tree falling upon his guests, including a couple foreign dignitaries, Mr. Howitzer resolved to pass the New Year quietly in his den with a bottle of Makers Mark, which he finished entirely by two a.m.

Mr. Howitzer did not drink responsibly that night, but at least he did not drive. Not driving on New Year's Eve may have been the only honorable thing Mr. Howitzer ever has done by way of omission. In all other spheres of endeavor, he was a property magnate and a thoroughgoing scumbucket of the first water.

On his atelier desk there were a couple letters, one of them addressed to Andre and Marlene, that same Andre and Marlene of the Household. Because of his binge with the Maker's Mark, those letters would be delivered late in the year of 2018 and so their evil effects would also be delayed by way of the legal necessity of time intervals and such.

And so as the seconds ticked away to the New Year, Mr. Howitzer railed against the portrait of Mr. Howitzer the First, clad in ermine and robes and wearing a crown.

"If you had to get a King's grant of land, why o why did you not request something in the region of Tahiti, Hawaii or the coast of France, for the sake of god!" Mr. Howitzer shouted, with his fist shaking at the portrait. "Why this infernal, uncivilized, benighted Island!"

Dodd sighed and gently closed the door. It would be a long night and he doubted he would be able to return and see The Missus before dawn.

Over in the rectory of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint Father Danyluk was enjoying the company of his good friend Pastor Nyquist of the Lutheran Immanual Church during their annual nondenominational celebration of the New Year which had become a Tradition ever since the two had encountered one another during their respective meditative walks.

It had been the habit of the Priest to exit the rectory and walk clockwise about the block that included his church and the apposite Lutheran structure during his contemplation for the next sermon. It has also been the habit of the Pastor to take a similar walk around the same block for the same purpose, with the Pastor taking, as was his nature, the anticlockwise direction.

So of course they would encounter one another at least once, if not twice, depending upon the cogitation, and so it was that one day a tremendous downpour -- this was back in the days when California experienced downpours of rain -- the two of them took shelter at the bus stop on Santa Clara and so got to talking about the Flock and the Saved and the Not Saved and all sorts of groovy kinds of religious things and they became the best of friends, for as it is said, the Children of Abraham are all cut from the same cloth.

The two of them worked out any number of arrangements to take care of affairs on an Island crowded to the gunwales with churches, but one tradition they maintained was that visit to the rectory on New Year's Eve, there to discuss over glasses of brandy the matters of import that concern men of the cloth. The reliability, and, more important, the likeability, of the Pope. What about all the geegaw and foofaraw that was cluttering the ceremonies and Xmas? What about Sinead O'Connor? And was U2 truly nondenominational? This was a big topic.

It pretty much ended as it did each year, as it has for the past twenty years of Island Life. Sister Caritas would come in to find the two men snoring in their chairs before the great fireplace, which she would dampen before covering each man with a blanket and dowsing the lights and candles.

And so, best of luck and a better new year to all of you out there.

The sound of the train horn far across the water keened across the estuary and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mule Sonata on Kindle



Professional Services

OM logo
OM Networking


Local Event Calendar

Calendar
Selected List of local events


Back Pain

Back Pain
Living With Back Pain


Amusements


REVIEWS

Story collection
Island Stories- 2 Decades


Poodleshoot Rules
Annual Poodleshoot Rules 2017

Bang!
Past Poodleshoots


The Sierras
CAMPING IN THE HIGH SIERRA


Audio & Podcasts

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND
NYE 2013

NEWS FROM THE ISLAND
NYE 2010



Blast Off!
FLYOVER PODCAST

Part 1- Take Off

Part 2-The Red Lever


santa (21K)
2008 Holiday Podcast

Part One

Part Two


2006 Shoot
2006 Poodleshoot Audio Clip


City Arts
& Lectures

hippo (4K)
Le Hippo Enragee

smallcar (2K)
The Stealth Turn


Local People

Jim Kitson
Jim Kitson Memorial

high sierra org
Mike's Found Box of Rare Photos @ High Sierra Org

scrawl

modmuse (9K)

BLOGGING BAYPORT
Lauren Do

ALAMEDA PATCH

 

carport (9K)
The Carport Orchestra


If you got here by mistake and really want to go to Hawaii, this link will take you to an appropriate travel agency . This link is neither a paid advert nor an endorsement for any products or services.


Space available for advertising

 


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