Island Life

Vol. 19 - No. 8Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday February 19, 2017


Current Edition - Year 2017


Welcome to the 19th year of this weekly column that's updated fifty-two times a year, on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, depending on how well the booze holds out. If you've got any news, clues or rumors to share from around the Bay, or the world, feel free to send them to Editor@Island-Life.net or use the envelope in the masthead. For previous issues, including 2016, visit the Archives.


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


FEBRUARY 19, 2017

RAINING IN PARADISE


LIKE THE WEATHER

Got this message from the San Anselmo Town Manager, Debra Stutsman:

"The National Weather Service is predicting steady rainfall, heavy at times, starting Sunday night (2/19) and continuing until Tuesday, with a predicted rainfall of 3 inches during that time period, with a high wind advisory and high surf warning. NWS advises that we can expect rapid rises on the creek and some flooding is possible. Downtown merchants may wish to place flood gates at close of business Saturday or Sunday. Additionally, residents are advised to be prepared for localized flooding and watch for downed trees, downed power lines and mudslides, which should be reported to 911. "

San Anselmo is the first small town west of San Rafael and was the site of a disastrous flood in the 1980's.

From the National Weather Service we have this for Fairfax: "Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. High near 60. Windy, with a south wind 15 to 20 mph increasing to 25 to 30 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 38 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between 2 and 3 inches possible. "

Fairfax is to the west of San Anselmo and, like San Anselmo, has a creek which is prone to flooding.

Corte Madera Creek, which is fed by all the local streams, peaked at 8.25 feet 2/18 at 2:15PM. Right now it is hovering around 6.31 feet. Flood level is 16 feet, which may seem quite a jump, but with the ground now saturated, that level could be reached in a matter of hours.

Precipitation accumulation measured at the Corte Madera Arroyo in Mill Valley stands at 36.48 inches since Oct 1, which is quite a lot for a region accustomed to about 20 inches all year.

As for the troubled Lake Oroville Dam, damage to which caused an evacuation of 188,000 people, things look better than they did.

The California Department of Water Resources says the level of Lake Oroville continues to fall despite the stormy weather, and the amount of water flowing down the spillway continues to be cut.

As of Sunday morning, Lake Oroville was at 81 percent capacity as which is still 114 percent of the historical average for the date. This is a major decrease from last Sunday, when the lake was at 100% capacity, or 148 percent of the historical average for that day.

California Department of Water Resources Chief Bill Croyle said water was draining at about four times the rate that it was flowing in and the repairs should hold at the nation's tallest dam.

As for the Island, thanks to its independent power grid, outages have been few and less widespread than across the Estuary. Residents should be mindful of high tide during the upcoming storm, which is due at 6:20 AM on Monday and again at 8:49 PM. The low area that approaches the Ferry landing is particularly susceptible to flooding when storms hit.

Rain or no, the Hands Across Alameda is slated for Monday.

Residents of Alameda and surrounding cities will meet along the Alameda beach on President's Day to create a human chain to promote inclusiveness. Alamedans are set to continue a tradition of inclusiveness as they cross the partisan divide by crossing hands together. The event was organized through social media and promoted by the city.

“This is not a fundraiser,” said community organizer John-Michael Kyono. “It is simply a gesture of support and unity for all residents in Alameda and beyond.”

There will be four main meet-up locations: Crown Memorial Beach, Grand Avenue at Shoreline, Park Street at Shoreline Drive and on the Bay Trail in front of the Harbor Bay Club.

A similar nonpartisan event took place on the Golden Gate Bridge last month.

In other rain-related news, a few Marin County juvenile residents proved they may have lost their marbles when a couple of kids were caught boogie boarding down the creek during the recent weather. To top that, another set of teens tied a rope to a bridge and attached a surfboard during the height of the recent storm, according to Mill Valley Police. The kids then used the board to "surf" the choppy waves, dodging trees and other floating debris.

You can't blame the public schools for this bit of inanity. Still, according to the MVPD Officer (name withheld), "Heck this is the sort of stuff I used to do when I was a kid."

BLUE VALENTINES

So anyway. A dockwalloper set in to pound the Island with sheets of rain, letting up to provide a day of magical sun-dappled skies, which yielded to Blakean worlds stretching across the horizon from end to end with charcoal gods and violently billowing clouds above the dark human forms scurrying from doorway to doorway in the seaside town.

V-Day passed with few disasters. While the local radio station took calls so as to play the favorite song for this and that couple, the Quirkyalone Society met in the Free Library to discuss politics, freedom from connectedness, independence, and the best lipstick for people not wanting to hook up with anyone. The movie that night was The Lobster, an indie film which featured compulsory mating dances, public humiliation, failed suicide, eye piercing, oral mutilation, devouring by wild dogs, and generally repulsive behavior. Despite a certain nausea engendered by the film, several people left the room coupled up for one night stands, which promised to never to lead to anything serious. Per common agreement.

The Small Dog Walkers Association met for a little party at the walking area in Washington Park. They set up a table and someone brought in pink confections and someone brought in punch that was set in a kettle on sterno burners and the little yappers were turned loose within the fence to bark and butt sniff and vigorously mate with one another. Lyle brought a big flagon of vodka, which he dumped entirely into the punch when Ms. Pitz had her back turned. Pretty soon everyone was feeling quite toasty.

Andre showed up at the door after work with his shirt torn, a bloody scratch across his face, one black eye, bruises up and down his arms, and the neck of a broken guitar in his hands.

"You look like crap." Marlene asked. She had spent the day at the psychiatric institute filing Dr. Patootie's correspondence, typing the WHO letter for the 9th time because of changes in grammar, spot checking the JAMA article for errors, handling a 5150 who had leapt over the counter, pulling dogpiled security off of an adolescent who had started talking about joining the Jihadists, and talking down a man who had wandered over from the methadone clinic with a bread knife. Her hair was a mess and her lipstick was smeared.

"O yeah," Andre said. "Eff you."

"Eff you dickhead!"

"O yeah?"

"Yeah!"

The two of them went into the back room, closed the door and caused the entire household of anyone who did not depart for somewhere peaceful to stop up their ears and hold on when the cottage began to shake with the energy of their lovemaking and their crying out in release.

In the dark, Rolf paused outside the Household to smoke a cigarette and look at the newspaper by the light that fell outside the windows. The President was going to build a wall. The President was going to deport the illegals. All the immigrants of America would have to go.

Rolf was an illegal immigrant, come to this country on the back of a stolen passport he had discarded in the wastebasket at the airport on arrival. He was an illegal twice over if one considered the flight through the border barbed wire between what was then the DDR and the BRD. Years had passed and he had become as American as anyone. Although he was pretty much secure now from deportation, still, the old fears of the soldiers coming to take him away remained in the background of his mind. A part of him would always identify with the faces of los immigrantes.

Suan came out of the household cottage and the two of them walked to the busstop together where they would take the OX to the City where they both worked at the Crazy Horse Saloon, a so-called gentlemen's club.

You all right, Rolf, Suan said. You seem in a funk.

Ah, thinking about the immigrants. We are gypsies with no home.

Try living as a Black in America some time, Suan said. Internal exiles.

Along the way to the stop, Suan put her hand in Rolf's. She could sense his hesitancy and his insecurity in these past few weeks. The stripper and the bartender/bouncer stood there, holding hands while waiting for the bus and people driving by commented to each other in their comfortable cars, "Such a cute couple."

Meanwhile Denby decided to avoid this entire V-Day thing by going to a poetry reading featuring notables Robert Pinsky and Jane Hirshfield. The reading was in Marin, which he figured would be a safe place to hang out away from the Island. Pahrump gave him a ride to the bus station and the bus took him over the bridge to Mill Valley. As he walked a tune came to him and he began composing in his head; this would be a good one. The title would be "Rainy Day in New Orleans." As he walked along a slight drizzle began to fall.

Along the way he was buttonholed by a man from Porlock out in the Central Valley. This fellow wanted help with fixing his computer. It seemed that the wifi kept going out. He could not figure out the problem and thought Denby could help since Denby had helped Susan get over her issues.

Fancy meeting you here, said the Man from Porlock.

Sometimes Denby made money fixing computers -- every real musician has a day job.

While standing outside the hall, as people filed in to this very popular event, the man from Porlock kept on about his problem with the Wifi. The wifi SSID was Horse and it could not be found no matter what.

Have you tried rebooting? Denby really wanted this conversation to happen at another time.

O did that many times. The Horse never appears. The computer you mean. I don't see the Horse. Not the router. Exactly. Do I have to reboot the Horse?

People were thronging into the hall. Among them the redheaded librarian at whom he had been looking when Cupid smacked him a good one in the chest, but still the fellow was babbling about the Wifi and the connections.

I cannot get connected, you see. I have tried the AC mode and the G mode and still the 802 dot eleven will not work. Do you think I need to change frequency channels . . . ?

The red headed librarian entered the hall and disappeared.

By the time the man had left and Denby had got to the doors they were closed. A sign said "Max Capacity. Event Sold Out."

In irritation Denby turned away. Now he could not remember the chordal progression of the tune on which he had been working. Or the title. Something about New Orleans.

Then he remembered there was a side door off of the dumpster lot. Maybe he could get in and listen standing up in the hallway. He walked around to the dark area there and saw the little yard was full of cars and the dumpster and to get to the door he would have to walk around and climb over the railing. As he felt his way down the bank in the dark and the rain he slipped and slid downwards. He became disoriented and looked for a light source to find the library again. He stepped toward the light and realized, only as he plunged forward, that the light was from a stanchion posted at the edge of the creek walkway.

Into the rushing creek he went, managing to hold onto his hat. The little brook that during the summer months amounted to a rivulet no more than nine inches deep had become a six foot torrent ripping along and Denby flailed in the froth, losing his shoes in the process until he managed to grab a tree. As he hauled himself up his belt caught on a broken limb and his buckle broke. He finally managed to pull himself up on the log and lay there gasping without pants or shoes but still with his hat and overcoat as the rain started to really pelt down.

Figuring it was time to cut his losses, Denby headed to the bus stop where children in cars stared and pointed at the homeless man and the police cruised by slowly, giving him the eye. It took hours to return to the East Bay where he took the BART to 12th Street and when he got to Oaktown it was a long slog down Broadway and then through the tunnel to get back on the Island, naked under his overcoat, passing bearded guys pushing shopping carts along the way.

Hey bro! one guy said. Any spare change?

Safe on the Island he was making his way through the Mariner Square parking lot when he saw the red headed librarian get out of a car with an East Coast poet wearing a black turtleneck sweater and sunglasses.

Sunglasses at night in the rain.

Denby stopped and stared with disappointment and the red headed librarian turned and looked and pointed -- Denby's coat had fallen open as he stood there.

The sunglasses called the police. "There's a pervert in the Mariner Square parking lot."

Denby tried to explain but the sunglasses punched him in the face and turned away, taking the red headed librarian by the arm.

At the police station, Sergeant Popinjay was empathic and gave Denby an ice pack for his nose.

"Denby," asked Officer Popinjay, "How is it you wind up here or Oaktown 7th Street every year?"

"God loves me, I guess." Denby said, groaning on the cot.

God nodded, looking down at the wretched mess of Denby. I just have to love you Denby, said god. Nobody else does.

At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

FEBRUARY 12, 2017

IF IT KEEPS ON RAINING

This week we have an image courtesy of Carol from up around Willits and represents some of what NorCal has been going through during the recent violent storms.

There is another road drop-out on the Lucas Valley Road near the Nicasio turnoff. See below for more reports.

ALL NIGHT I SAT ON THE LEVEE AND MOANED

Latest report over the transome has Oroville being issued an evacuation order when overflow behind the Oroville dam started using the emergency spillway when the main spillway was discovered to be severely damaged. Now the emergency spillway itself, with no clearing of the watercourse path, may soon be overwhelmed.

Forcasters indicate that we will enjoy a respite of a few days before another storm hits Wednesday.

The evacuation of residents in Oroville and surrounding communities in the shadow of the nation’s tallest dam was issued around 4:30 p.m., with California Department of Water Resources officials saying floodwaters could arrive within the hour. By 6:30 p.m., the Butte County sheriff said the threat had diminished, although it was prudent to rather be “safe than sorry” given the gravity of the situation.

More than 162,000 people live in areas of Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties affected by the evacuation order.

Some Marysville evacuees were bordering on panic Sunday night. Erin English, of Linda, said she was first told to go to Chico, then because of looming danger, to go the Colusa Casino Resort. She fled with her husband, two children and dogs, and didn’t have time to grab anything from their home.

The emergency spillway had not been used before at the reservoir, which opened in 1968. The structure is a key feature in a series of dams and canals that deliver water to 25 million Californians, including many in San Jose, Livermore, Pleasanton, Fremont, Union City, and Los Angeles.

State officials were hoping to avoid using the emergency spillway, which is basically a dirt hillside, because it would send tons of dirt, rock and silt cascading into the Feather River and then downstream into the Delta, however the emergency spillway was never intended to handle an immense volume of water. If the main spillway fails, then there is a possibility that the emergency spillway will crest, causing a massive failure of the dam and an uncontrolled release of quite a lot of water.

But dam operators decided early Saturday morning they needed to ease the beating on the main spillway, so water was allowed over the emergency route, which basically finds its own path down the hillside to the river below.

Oroville Dam, built into a rocky canyon 70 miles north of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada foothills, is a critical part of California’s drinking water system, providing water for 23 million people and vast stretches of farmland.

At 770 feet tall, the structure that holds back the Feather River is taller than the Washington Monument and as thick as 10 football fields at its base. Lake Oroville, at 10 miles long, is the second largest reservoir in California behind Shasta Lake.

The next storm will arrive Wednesday.

GONNA BE SOME CHANGES MADE

Got a killing during a "hot prowl" on the Island, which is getting grittier as the rental thing continues to destroy communities like ours all around the Bay Area.

The incident occurred at 10:45 a.m. on Buena Vista Avenue. Authorities identified the deceased as 19-year-old Marquez Warren of Vallejo. Alameda Police Department (APD) Lt. Hoshmand Durani said Warren broke a rear glass door to enter the home. He then forced his way into one of the bedrooms. There he was confronted by the owner of the residence, Vedder Li, an off-duty Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy.

Li opened fire and shot Warren several times, according to reports. Warren ran outside the residence where he later collapsed, according to Durani. Li called 911 and remained at the scene while authorities were en route.

Warren was transported to Highland Trauma where he died of his injuries.

APD is describing the incident as an officer-involved shooting and not a murder, however, Durani said their investigation is still pending.

This is the first homicide in Alameda in 2017. There was just one homicide in Alameda in all of 2016. Oakland High senior Antwaun Williams, 19, was murdered outside AMF Southshore Lanes at 300 Park St. on Nov. 19, 2016.

The shooting occurred after the victim got into an argument with the suspect outside the business around 11:10 p.m.

The two exchanged words and the suspect pulled out a handgun and opened fire.

The Island, like many cities, recently voted to make the city a Sanctuary City in response to President Trump's pandering to xenophobic anxieties around the country. A Sanctuary City promises to defend the human rights of immigrants and to withhold support to Federal agencies seeking to exercise possibly unconstitutional supernumerary powers that infringe upon human rights.

The vote is not without controversy here, as here remain individuals who have purchased the xenophobic hatred agenda. A recent letter to the editor complains that the Island is both biting the hand that feeds it and also causing fear to rise in the citizens because possibly some immigrant might do something nasty, which supposedly, according to the logic of the letter writer, could have been avoided by allowing ICE to spot check people and drop kick them out of the country for just about any reason without oversight.

The West Coast and the Island has experienced influxes of millions of immigrants from all over the world for centuries and has not experienced one single terrorist attack, not in 400 years.

But you know, some people are afraid it COULD happen. Any day now.

ROCK SALT AND NAILS

So anyway, a major dockwalloper set in this week to completely disrupt everything. Schools closed, power went out, sirens wailed and there was a lot of to do about road closures. Now that things have dried out for a few days, everyone around here has turned their minds to America's favorite pasttime: Sex.

The markets are packed with floating mylar balloon hearts, which surely is a most symbolic thing if there ever was one. Hearts made of tough material to which nothing will stick. The aisles groan under the weight of high caloric chocolates and pink confections. Everywhere the girls flutter and stir like thrushes and couples walk hand in hand. Everywhere there are couples cycling, walking, boating, dining and the world, although hung over with grey, roiling Blakean skies, exhudes a kind of Tanz auf der Vulkan sort of joy in the nauseating days of our lunatic Presidency.

All of this joy and Denby is miserable. Of course he is. The terrible V-Day approaches with much more advance bally-hoo than ever before, which means joy for some, but usually abject disaster to our only man.

The Editor typically sequesters himself a few days in advance into his office with a case of Makers Mark and a fridge packed with Michelina's frozen dinners so as to avoid being seen by that nasty boy flitting about with his quiver of arrows. Him and the leggy Joanne who always comes calling about this time. When one of his spies warns that Joanne is on the warpath, wearing a short shirt and tall leather boots, he turns out all the lights and sits with a straight shot of whiskey and pretends he is not home until she is gone from the outer door, calling "Yoohoo! Sweetie! I have a rose for you!"

Meanwhile Denby has tried various methods so as to avoid the terrific calamity that love and lust always make for him. When young women approach he averts his eyes.

No way did he want to repeat that catastrophe which happened with Diane. The broken bones and the third degree burns and the terrific property loss. Even worse: the execrable Opera of it all, with its scenes and wild hair and screaming.

Now that he was older, the pressure from those two hummingbirds down there had become less and he was content enough with his music and his books and sitting in the park undisturbed by any save the thrushes and the squirrels with their high bushy tails. Ah love, he was done with that young man's game.

As Denby crossed Crumpet near the traffic circle at the intersection of Throckmorton, Belvedere and Snoffish Valley Road he happened to see a head of flaming red hair enter Mr. Snarky's Coffeeshop. The parking meters there were all the old fashioned coin type, which he found quaint. It was that librarian, Siobhan who always walked with self possession. As a librarian, she fulfilled a role that possessed itself strict boundaries. A gentleman must always address a librarian as "Ma'am", for example.

Springsteen had a song about red-headed women. Denby wondered if Siobhan was a natural redhead with her blue eyes and if all her hair was . . .

Oh now stop it!

Up in the second floor rooms of Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Morales, a roseate glow pervaded the space that now housed the couple and their newborn, soon to be baptized as a native Californian with the name Arvin. Above this room, the naked cherub armed with bow and arrows, invisible, paused to gaze down, but withheld his hand, for here there was love enough.

In the houses of Mr. Howitzer, the real estate magnate, and the Cribbages and the Dowdys, Cupid had visited before without success, for love always whithered without sustinance in such money-rich but emotion-poor environments. He spied Percy Worthington-Boughsplatt polishing his already immaculate two-toned 1939 Mandeville-Brot coupe and let loose and Percy took one look at Madeline and fell head over heads in love with her all over again.

Shelly and Lynette walked hand in hand beside the marina after dinner; they needed no help. They were perfectly fine together.

Amor flew off down the street, pinging here and there to see what targets he could find in the dead of winter as the tulips were just beginning to thrust upward through the snow in some places and the sun descended behind the Golden Gate in a firey burst of volcanic skies lit by glowing magma bearing granite lumps of cloud flowing west.

Down below, a figure walked slouched over, deep in his thoughts, thinking about red-headed women. An innocent soul. So Eros let fly.

Denby jerked in pain and clutched his chest, but the damage was done. In a fit of pique Denby marched off to the Old Same Place Bar, there to grab his guitar and pour himself into a double shot of Blues as the barflies took their places and the singles mingled in their ritual dances, some leaving with another and most leaving alone with only the Water of Life for solace. V-Day would be over, soon enough.

At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

FEBRUARY 5, 2017

WE COME IN THE AGE'S MOST UNCERTAIN HOUR

Sometimes it seems like the entire country has taken a crazy pill and the best of us have lost our way in a howling wilderness. It might be a good idea to ground ourselves in a few simple facts and a few values that we have inherited and have proven to be time-tested as valid. So instead of posting a local image of the beach at sunset or images of schoolkids celebrating the recent Chinese New Year (rooster), we are posting a pic taken by Tammy on a trip to New York a while ago. It is that of a gift handed to us by the French and is supposed to represent something some of us have forgotten.

Certainly the words inscribed on the pedestal appear to have been entirely forgotten by this generation.

Together with that we recall the words of wise Ben Franklin who said, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Contrary to some expectation, and perhaps not always for good reasons, basic life continues despite the Election Disaster. The LI'th (Lilith?!) Pooper Soul took place between the Patriots and the Falcons and somebody won and somebody lost, just as usual.

On the Island, an historic building was saved from destruction by Developers via the quick action of Railway historian Thomas Cornillie, who alerted the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society (AAPS) that developer Kevin Lam’s 7,100-square-foot building planned for Lincoln and Webster was set to demolish that forlorn, little building as well as remove a pesky tree that stood in his way. The city posted notices at the site alerting property owners and residents of the plan approval hearing that would soon take place.

The almost doomed building housed a structure dating from 1912. As Cornillie put it, "Lying dormant under what now looks like a shack, was a Mission Revival station shelter for commuters, probably dating to the 1912 electrification of the railroads by SP when passenger trains ran down Lincoln Avenue, once aptly named Railroad Avenue".

Nevertheless, Developers are a pestiferous sort of vermin that never sleeps and never stops looking for things to wreck and "monetize".

An Oakland-based consulting firm held a presentation for Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) board members to discuss real estate strategies last Tuesday, Jan. 24, at City Hall.

Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. (EPS), an economic and financial consulting firm, held a 50-minute presentation for AUSD board members to recommend how the school district can best "monetize" its real estate properties. Musbach and Kanat explained that AUSD’s most valued asset is the Thompson Field site that also contains an adjacent food services warehouse. Musbach recommended the school district rezone the property to residential and sell it to a developer.

“You would get most value for the site if you (rezone) the site, than to just give it to a developer and have them go through the rezoning process,” said Musbach, managing principal at EPS. EPS believes the site can hold 80 to 100 housing units, according to a memo from City Manager Jill Keimach.

The city bought the property that includes Thompson Field and McKinley Park in 1909. AUSD acquired the four-acre parcel from the city years later. Thompson Field has been the home of the Alameda High football team since 1940.

Previous owner James A. Waymire and his wife, Virginia welcomed high school youth to use their property as an athletic field possibly as early as 1885. The Waymires lost the property after their fortunes turned and Hibernia Bank evicted them one week before Christmas 1907.

The first Big Game between the East Ender Hornets and the West Ender Jets took place on that field in 1955.

Members of the AUSD were reportedly lukewarm to the plan of "monetizing" the property. There is no concrete plan to build a new, "more efficient" sports field as a replacement, for example.

Across the Estuary, the weather has caused some nasty power outages, but things are holding up for now. The monthly Art Murmur continues in the galleries even as the downpours have chased off the partiers uninterested in Deconstructive techniques or emotive evocation of urban sonorities.

HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN

So anyway, we got a few days to dry out a bit before the next set of dockwallopers set in Sunday evening. Outside the Island-Life Offices the rain pelts down and marches across the Island, the Estuary, the Oakland flats and up the hill and over Grizzley Peak Boulevard to lance down and over the Altamont Pass with its spinning windmills, across the Valley and up the slopes of the Sierra where it even now is turning into a refreshing pack of snow that will alleviate the harsh drought of the past few years.

Down at sea level, though, recent transplants and visitors skid and slide all over the place as formerly stable roadways saturate and fill up with ponds several feet deep.

Among the well-matriculated hills of Marin a roaring sound announces the fact that another house has slid off of the mountainside, causing people in the neighborhood to remark.

"Was that the Hendersons or those people from Minnesotta?"

"O no, that was the Smelling place. They put that house up there beside the creek even though everyone told Mr. Smelling not to do that. Not a good idea to build a house beside a creek around here. But he wouldn't listen, no he wouldn't. He owns five houses and he's one of them old timers you know."

"O he is, is he?"

"Yep. Had a dog. Got himself a labrador to be a guard dog and kept it outside all the time. The poor thing barking and whining in all kinds of weather."

"I suppose the dog perished in the slide and the old man got away with that huge, ridiculous truck he has."

"I think I hear him barking now."

"Mr. Smelling?"

"No. The dog. The dog got away."

"O I am glad about that."

"And Mrs. Smelling?"

"I do not care about that crazy bitch. Sorry."

In some places, like Oakland, people hear of disaster and they run up the way with firehoses, buckets, sandbags, and pulaskis so as to find a way to help. In Marin everyone goes to Google to find out how close the issue is to them. Then they have a discussion and resort to meditation and yoga so as to restore their Bliss since nothing can be done anyway. The more well-intentioned form a Committee, as if all of the County were a small town located in the Midwest and the only thing needed is to get a few laggards organized. Then, Reality either hits or simply does its work regardless. The laggards, dragooned into projects they detest, get burned and the Committee goes out for sushi.

On the Island, we form Committees that run up against local Mafia, but without guns. The experience of abutting against harsh Reality is somewhat the same as far as the end result, which is that self-delusion always wins the day. There are no laggards save for people flamed online and the Committee goes for pancakes at Olaf's or Joe's.

From the shadowy recesses of the third floor apartment in the Gold Coast a cry went up, great howling, and this was succeeded by a calmness and a soft effulgence of light around the birthbed helmed by the midwife. Into her exhausted arms was passed the newborn, yclept Ignacio. And so the household of Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Morales was blessed by the gift of new hope, new life.

Despite all the tumult of the Age and the burning, speeding planet and the mass extinction soon to happen, despite global climate change and all disaster, despite tyranny and overthrow of Liberty, the midwife began to sing a song. "Down among the reeds and rushes, a baby boy was found. His eyes as clear as centuries. His silky hair was brown. Never been lonely. Never been lied to. Never had to scuffle in fear. Nothing denied to. Born at the instant the church bells chimed. The whole world whispering: Born at the right time."

The midwife flung open the doors to the waiting people there and they rushed in to stand all around Ms. Morales. Our little town all gathered there. Jose ran do8wn the stairs to the Methodist Church on Santa Clara and got himself let in and he went up to the belfry with the sexton carrying a lamp and after Jose told the Sexton, Dan Clarian, they set the bell ringing despite the hour.

Meanwhile, down on the street, members of the snarky Angry Elf's gang looked up at the lights streaming from the windows above with envy and hatred and they vowed to do what damage they could and they drove off smoking the tires of the Angry Elf's red Miata.

The street remained empty as the church bells pealed and the rain pelted down and the little drama continued up above in the room with the woman and her newborn child. Despite tyranny, life would continue despite all. Suffering would continue. Suffering would abide. But Life would continue.

And beneath the waters of the estuary, the captain of the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor observed all of this activity through his periscope before ordering the boat to dive, to run silent, run deep, out through the Golden Gate to the vast ocean beyond.

Out at the Point, Pahrump observed the brief glimmer of the spyship as it flitted out into the Bay and beyond. At a camp on the tarmac of the old airstrip a gang of roisterers whooped it up. It was more members of the Angry Elf gang, who had started taking advantage of the political climate to bolster his ranks of thugs and cutthroats. Pahrump avoided that bad company and drove his scooter down Main with its vacant warehouses and then over to Otis. He drove past the Household and ran into Jose who told him the news about Ms. Morales and the birth.

"The whole world whispering: Born at the right time." Pahrump said.

At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

JANUARY 29, 2017

WHAT'S UP PUSSYCAT

This week's image comes courtesy of artist Carol who lives in the Goldcoast area of the Island. Calvin, the pussycat, seems confident and proud of his "pussyhat". Just do not grab him without permission. He might bite.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Well, it has been quite a roller coaster these past few weeks. Forget newly elected schoolboard members and even our own devious City Council along with Statewide approvals for legal pot and cellphone while driving restrictions and the usual plethora of bond measures. Everyone is ignoring these minor issues for now.

What matters locally is Rent. It has always mattered and it continues to matter and it continues to be a serious issue and It.Will.Not.Go.Away.

Rent Control is a matter of time and it is coming here and there is no pretending that it is a boogieman that will vanish like bee pee on cigarette paper. The last election virtually ensured that it is a defacto fait accompli and only a matter of time no matter how much Marie Kane kicks up a fuss and Fahrad buys up property to control the real estate situation.

The national stage has upstaged just about everything and people are hopping mad that a minority of Americans decided the future of the majority and this minority is a nasty, objectionable collection of deplorables.

Face it. A minority of Americans are, in fact, deplorable. Clinton said it crudely, but she was right. A great number of Americans are deplorable assholes who believe in flying saucers, who believe in Jesus on a tortilla, who believe that the earth is really only 5,000 years old and the dinosaur fossils and most of science is fake. They believe all sorts of nonsense and perhaps it is time to stop giving people who profess ignorance and inanity an equal stage over common sense and reason.

People are free to be idiots all they want -- just so long as they have no influence over MY children. Of course people in Nebraska and Oklahoma do not want to be dictated to by West Coasters or anybody other than themselves. But the reverse is powerfully true. We the majority of Americans who believe in Science, in reason, in common sense and facts that are facts and not qualified by "alternative" interpretations do not want OUR children led by the nose by a bunch of red-eyed, howling, minority fanatics, wherever they may reside. We don't care if they call themselves Heartland or BoobooLand. It does not matter. We don't want to be pushed around by a minor handfull of extremists who claim all of America for themselves despite the vast disparity of numbers. They are not America.

Time for Liberals to say, Fuck you to the wack-jobs and get America back on track being a Democracy again, a Democracy ruled by the majority vote. We need to admit to ourselves there is no roping people in who are stupid and handle snakes and reject reasoning. Forget them. There is no "education" for people who insist on voting against their own interests, time after time after time. They are stupid. They are dumb -- face it. Call them rubes or rednecks or whatever you want -- names do not matter. They are people who insist on being stupid, given every chance to be otherwise. The heartland is not the Heart of America -- it is an organ that has allowed itself to become diseased and self-infatuated with goofy mythical fake boot-scoot nonsense instead of owning up with courage to face the realities of where the country has succeeded and where it has failed. It refused to allow self-criticism of any kind. They have put aside the strong pioneer spirit of their forefathers in favor of comfortable self-serving and self aggrandizing smug vagueness bound by tattered iconography of cowboys and pickup trucks, iconography provided for them by marketing wonks living in Manhattan and cynically playing the emotions. And they never are going to change or learn intelligence or learn even to admit the presence of The Other. They are ingrained imbeciles and governance needs to account for that.

The Founding Fathers understood a large percentage of the people would act irrationally. That is why our system has so many checks and balances. At present, with all branches of government controlled by a single party and a particular radical exemplar of the executive branch, the system is highly stressed in being out of wack from the original design. Nevertheless, majority rule means exactly what it says. A minority controls the government and that is bad and that needs to change and change roughly if need be. If only to restore order. Right now things are highly disordered. Black lives matter, millions in protest, entire industries being rescued from disaster, a massive war on terror, concentration camps located in foreign countries, mass expulsions planned, an Executive Branch that is wildly out of control, hate groups burning crosses in triumph, you name it. Shakespeare knew it 500 years ago; all of his historical plays are all about how order is restored. It is never without messiness and running roughshod over what somebody imagines are their "rights". In the end, the stage is left littered with bodies and a Fortinbras re-establishing the rule of law.

That is what Democracy means - continuous war against tyranny. War has casualties. That is just the way it goes. So suck it up Buttercup.

ALL GONE IN SEARCH OF AMERICA

So anyway. The days broaden with widening light even as the mornings begin chill with frost on the windshield. Amos comes out to view the cold scene and returns indoors to fetch a bucket of water to dash on the car so as to start the defrost. Scrapers and such start the day after a cup of coffee. Then it is down the hill along the creek, ploughing through the herd of turkeys and deer roaming up from the bottomland while the hills steam with leftover dreams under the striated sky.

The day begins with coffee and striated skies, initiating the villanelle of the week. Repetition is the common course of our daily lives and kids walking to school dodge among the cars and the turkeys while the hills steam with leftover dreams and people dash after a cup of coffee to start the day. Deer wander up from the bottomlands and you head out after a cup of coffee. Each day is spent scraping a little more or a little less. At City Hall you plough through the fog steaming up through all the obstacles and everything in the way of getting things done and the turkeys always there in herds.

At the end of this day, you head up along the streams, dreaming of another lifetime of possiblities and deer roaming up from the bottomland as you ascend along the creek, ploughing through the leftover dreams of the day, scraping through the herds of thoughts and memories.

In the Old Same Place Bar, all conversation had halted. People sat, staring into their beer and their cocktails. The TV screen presented the jowly hairpiece that had become the Leader and everyone felt nauseated. Conversation, usually so lively, lagged in this time. The stool where Old Schmidt had sat remained loudly vacant.

Suzie stared at her anthro textbook. Nothing in the text had prepared her for the present situation. "The bonobo are a joy-filled community which is self governed by mutual affection . . . ".

Mutual affection did not seem to apply at the present time. Everyone hated one another.

Out at the Buena Vista flats near the old Cannery, Officer O'Madhauen kept watch over potential red light runners and speeders. Whatever happened, he would enforce the traffic laws.

They were easy.

In Marlene and Andre's household the tattered and battered of the earth kept counsel among themselves. In this bad abode 15 souls had found refuge and all across America countless cities and towns announced themselves refuge cities and towns. In the depths of the night Marlene held Andre close, naked and together under the duvet. "What is to become of us, in this time," Marlene said. Their legs were intertwined.

"The same as always," Andre said. "We remain true to ourselves. Lenni Lenapi - We are the people who love one another."

The moon rose in a crescent and fog arose steaming in the hills as deer roamed up from the bottomland and the crowd called out for cups of Irish coffee.

At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

 

JANUARY 22, 2017

DAY AFTER TOMORROW

This week's image comes from Mexico where long-time associate Augustin has presented this pic, which is titled "Inauguration Day", an image of dismay felt around the world.

We thought about the headline and put aside Decoration Day, a song about the Civil War dead and those who gave their lives in battle for America. The Tom Waits song, Day after Tomorrow, is also about a soldiers longing, in a letter or phone call, to return home with some doubt as to the wrap-up to the story in the end, and a suggestion the end is not a happy one to an ongoing unhappy situation that is caused by political and social jingoism.

Then again, there is always a day after tomorrow, when expected plans suddenly shift direction. Everyone without exception is going to lose something during the upcoming wars at home and abroad. Are you going to just let the winds knock you around or are you going to take part in the Resistance?

LIKE THE WEATHER

The news has been, when not focussed upon the Pussy-grabber, all about the weather. It does look like we had a pineapple express steaming through here with bouts of monsoon broken by periods of blue skies. This pattern, which features a series of storms, is called a "pineapple express" because it originates in the ocean north of the Hawaiian islands and features a series of violent storms that arrange themselves like train boxcars one after another.

The latest Dweeb report we have from Howard in the Sierra was from Friday and reported blizzard conditions through the weekend, which certainly came true with accumulations above 16 inches at Mammoth, and exceeding several feet in other areas, continuing through Tuesday and resulting in actual closure of ski resorts due to "excess snow."

Creeks in Marin rose up high, but stayed below warning level. Corte Madera creek peaked a foot below the warning zone at 13.5 feet.

Nixle reported no major closures last Friday, and other than the usual bad weather snarlups, just basic misery for commuters.

The "human chain" that extended across the Golden Gate on Friday was intended to be a performance art piece signifying unity and peace, and not a political protest. Permits were obtained months before the election results. No arrests were made.

Despite glowering skies we have positive reports from boots on the ground in Oaktown and Babylon this past weekend. A reported 100,000 people converged in Oaktown to vouch for women's rights and to protest the excesses of the new Administration in Washington D.C. The actions were peaceful and no arrests were made.

In Washington D.C. itself, some half a million showed up (conservative figures), overwhelming original plans to march along the Mall such that planners had to redirect marchers via various streets to the Ellipse in front of the Washington Monument. The assembly was peaceful and no arrests were made.

According to our tally in-house, between 1 and 1.2 million people marched in protest around the world against the new Trump Administration.

Saturday, Trump spent his day in Reston Virginia, apologizing to the Intelligence community for his attacks about the alleged Russian interference with American elections. No concrete proof has ever been presented about any such interference from any agency within the American government.

Nevertheless, Trump did feel, apparently, the need to apologize to the one branch of government over which there are no Constitutional checks and no balances and no oversight against abuse of power. And he apologized in the manner he usually handles things -- instead of admitting he blurted inanity, he blamed the Lying Press for causing all the problems.

CITY OF STARS

So anyway, said Denby, The City of Stars will always be for me that tiny town a bit south of here named Brisbane, which was nearly destroyed by the massive PGE explosion a few years ago. Brisbane is a small town with modest houses and decent people with modest dreams and few streetlights to disturb the peace. Farmers and fishermen live there. It will never be La la land, a vapid Big City place empty of heart.

So anyway, repeated Denby, This song is a song I wrote and it is called "Los Narcos este pinche," and it is about the Angry Elf and his gang of thieves destroying the innocent Country.

At that point Denby launched into his ballad about the bad narcotrafficante and his evil deeds and his ugly, ignorant cohorts and while he was still singing, someone arose and left the Old Same Place Bar to make a telephone call.

"Boss, someone is singing a song about you. It is not so nice. And he does not like the Trump either . . .".

The henchman stood a long time in that place with the rain falling down in one of the last freestanding phone booths in town, listening to what his boss, the Angry Elf, had to say."

That night the machinery for a vast and terrible orchestra of death set itself in motion.

Up the hill, Mr. Spline counted the bullets available to his magazine once again and then trained his nightgoggles upon the door of the Greek Orthodox church where Wally's son had taken refuge after blowing the whistle on the secret municipal eavesdropping programs. His charge from Washington was to keep tabs upon the whistleblower, and neutralize him under safe circumstances, but only upon confirmed order.

Mr. Spline's finger twitched upon the trigger of his modified Glock. The confirmation could always be arranged after the fact.

Down on the Buena Vista Flats, hard by the old brick cannery, Officer O'Madhauen kept watch for speeders and red light runners, the bulwark of Western Civilization in his capacity as Traffic Enforcement Officer.

Marlene finished up the washing in the kitchen after the evening meal of foodbank zucchini and past-date mushrooms and tomato sauce over pasta. The house residents, the lost, the beaten, the dispossessed, the landless, the cast out and the abandoned, the robbed and the bereft, had crept to their corners after eating their humble meal and even Occasional Quentin was there under the coffeetable, all present due to the rains and the cold weather that prevented sleeping in bus stop kiosks and the dangerous homeless shelters.

Andre sat with Little Adam working over elementary trigonometry homework.

Beneath the floorboards another rat of the Brethren stepped too close to the old heater coil and died an electric death amid sparks and little flames that licked away the small hairs of the rat and his brethren gathered and seemed to pray all together amid the incense of his smoking flesh.

In the Parlor 33.3 of the Native Sons of the Golden West Pahrump and Jose listened to the sound of a ship's horn in distress and Jose wondered what it meant.

"What it means," said Pahrump, "Is that we shall endure a long hard time of it as well as this: Something wicked this way comes."

At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

 

JANUARY 15, 2017

THE WINDSHIELD WAS BROKEN BUT I LOVE THE FRESH AIR DON'T YA KNOW

This week's image comes from Marin County where the local creek flooded 13 feet or so and helped cause this accident on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. near Fairfax.

Reminds us all to treat Mother Nature with awe and respect. The consequences of not doing so can be severe.

According to report, the driver did survive this one.

THIS BAY AREA LIFE

All the news is consequent to the two recent dockwalloper storms that smacked into the Bay Area, snarling traffic, bringing down power lines, and flooding streets. As of six A.M., highway 37 remained closed due to flooding. Every day for the past few days the air has been filled with the sound of buzzsaws slicing up the downed trees in every district. Not one single municipality was spared from power outages in the five county ABAG area.

Generally speaking, which is improper grammar, we know, we came out lucky with the loss of only two lives.

Jose Enrique Hernandez, 20, died after his Nissan Altima landed in a creek in Marin County.

Hernandez, a Novato resident, drove his vehicle through a guardrail on the 5000 block of Novato Boulevard, off an embankment and down about 10 feet into the creek, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP). CHP arrived on the scene around 8:40 a.m. Monday, Jan. 9, but said they were unsure what time the incident occurred.

The vehicle flipped on its roof, and the cabin was submerged in about four feet of water, according to reports. CHP investigators believe speed, severe weather conditions and almost bald tires on the Nissan may have contributed to his death.

Hernandez was the only person in the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another man died in Alameda when he apparently lost control of his taxi cab and plunged into the water along Shoreline.

An Alameda Fire Department (AFD) water rescue team joined the Oakland Fire Department (OFD) and a dive team from the San Francisco Fire Department on a mission to save a popular local cab driver's life. The Alameda team actually pulled Jarnail Singh, 57, from his submerged vehicle while he was still alive Sunday morning. The departments also brought his vehicle to shore.

Singh, a San Leandro resident, was still alive, but unresponsive, when AFD's rescue swimmers pulled him out of the water. Emergency personnel transported him to Highland, but he never regained consciousness, according to reports.

OFD arrived at the scene at 8:04 a.m. after receiving a call from a witness who saw a white taxi cab lose control on Doolittle and Langley Street and go into the water. The vehicle was white with the words “RAJ CAB CO.” in red letters. The taxi cab belonged to Singh’s company. Friends of Singh revealed that Raj was his nickname.

Investigators don’t know why he lost control of his vehicle. Theories range from a medical emergency to inclement weather as a reason for Singh’s death.

According to Central Marin PD the official word for Central Marin is as follows: "For the five-day period beginning on Friday, January 6th through Tuesday, January 10th our officers responded to nearly 600 incidents and calls for service. The busiest days were on Sunday with 161 incidents and Tuesday with 139. Naturally, the majority of these were storm related with areas of flooding, trees and power lines down, and power outages affecting traffic signals. The expected heavy storm activity on Saturday evening into Sunday morning just missed us, but it came back much stronger on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s heavy rain and winds, coupled with the King tide, resulted in tidal flooding in low lying areas of Larkspur and Corte Madera. Some roadways were partially or completely closed, including Larkspur Plaza; portions of Lucky Drive and Doherty Drive; Ebbtide Passage and Golden Hinde Passage. In San Anselmo the creek was continually monitored and as the storm progressed we began to prepare for potential flooding.

At 6:45 p.m. the creek hit flood stage and the flood warning horn was activated. San Anselmo Avenue was closed from Center Boulevard to Bolinas Avenue and a mandatory evacuation was issued for the downtown business district. The creek hit its highest point at 13.65 feet and crested its banks at the Nokomis Avenue Bridge. Fortunately, it did not come up over the banks in downtown and the street flooding was caused by overflow from storm drains and manhole covers. A break in the storm and the receding creek level allowed for the evacuation order to be lifted and the street reopened at 8:50 p.m. A total of 65 public safety personnel from CMPA, the Town of San Anselmo, Ross Valley Fire Department, Marin County Sheriff, and Marin County Search and Rescue Team were committed to the storm operations.

After the flood horn sounded and businesses and residents evacuated, over 50 people, both adults and teens, purposely came into the downtown on foot to look at the creek. Please remember that the horn is a signal to move away from the area, not to come in to it. The water is moving fast and the conditions can change very rapidly. This creates a potentially dangerous situation for both the public and emergency services personnel and requires officers and fire fighters to leave other duties in order to move – or even worse, rescue – spectators. The creek can be viewed in live time video from the Ross Valley Fire Department website at www.rossvalleyfire.org. "

While it is nice to know that Marinites are not any smarter than Islanders when it comes to approaching danger, this is a reminder to all of us to take the official warnings seriously regardless of where you live; witness the headline photo of someone who clearly did not. Not even your 4-wheel drive jeep is going to save your ass when Mother Nature rages. The message is clear: Get out of the way!

In other news, we hear two members of the band Tower of Power were hit by an Amtrak train Thursday. Two TOP gigs at Yoshi's were canceled. The bandmembers, drummer David Garibaldi and current bassist Marc van Wageningen are responsive and expected to recover from injuries.

For reference, train tracks run only a few feet away from the Yoshi's entrance which is employed by public and entertainers alike. There are no rails or crossing barriers at that location.

SUPERMAN NEVER MADE ANY MONEY

So anyway. Superman never made any money, saving the world from Solomon and Grundy. Up on the Hill past the end of Snoffish Valley Road, John Smelling of 40 Maple looked out from his perch with his spyglass, making sure that nobody used any of the parking spaces along Maple across the street from his property. To John Smelling, who had lived in his mansion since 1987, when the road was a quiet cul de sac, all this activity around him was an affront as he felt the entire mountain belonged to him by assumed right. He had a huge carport constructed to host about five big pickups, but he seldom used it as he felt the entire road belonged to him. So he put his enormous pickup trucks on the far side of the street. He had tried to buy the house across the street, but the Realtor, seeing him coming, had refused the lowball offer, knowing if the tyrant ever obtained larger purchase on the mountain, her company would never sell another house again in Silvan Acres. Already the man was putting out orange buckets and cones to block people from parking anywhere near his domain and neighbors had come to know of him as "that cantankerous asshole".

This did not bode well for property values in the area. As a consequence local Realtors stopped handling affairs for him, which infuriated Mr. Smelling for he had acquired much property by means of money gotten by selling drugs to school children.

He had gotten accustomed to parking across the road on the property belonging to an aging widow, snarling at her and threatening to damage her cars if she dared park at the top of the stile that led down to her house. Faced with this intimidation, the widow had a fence built, which of course subtracted from the parking the man considered his by divine right. After all, his ancestors had been the first to rob the Native Americans who had lived here so fair was square. In anger he drove his truck up against the fence, breaking a few boards and claiming the spot right at her front gate to be his by order of custom and so there the truck remained from day to day, its bumper an inch over the mark in front of the widow's front gate.

Eventually the widow tired of the man's intimidation tactics and so sold the beautiful craftsman house perched on the mountain with its grape arbor and delightful garden thrumming with hummingbirds to an artist named Sweet Bee. The widow moved to Austin Texas to be with family and kind people for the rest of her final days as life on the Mountain had become unpleasant with her neighbor who crept around the property, tearing out electrical wires because the garden lights annoyed him. Smelling smashed the front gate light on the outside and the ones on the inside of the gate four times and all of the lights leading from the front gate to the front door until the widow gave up. In a place with no streetlights and few houses the front of the place became dark indeed.

When Smelling heard the widow was to move, to his great delight he made offers to buy the house across the way -- then, his control of the entire block for a quarter mile in both directions would be established. Instead the widow refused and she sold the property to Sweet Bee and her dog, Toto, a delightful terrier who charmed everyone who met him.

Smelling raged and bit his lip and swore he would drive out the new owners the same way he had driven out the previous one and one day he would ramp and stamp as the king of the Hill with the key in his pocket.

The vast majority of the people living in Sylvan Acres were decent folk minding their own business, but John Smelling was not one of those.

In the Household of Andre and Marlene, the members had all collected to huddle for warmth. The central heating unit had not worked for years and Martini had put off going down there to see if he could fix it because of the largish rat population. Islands can be romantic and edenic, but all islands -- at least those bounded by water and possessed of marinas -- are homes to rattus rattus which comes off of ships, arrives by swimming, embarks from the pockets of goats -- god only knows save that every Island that ever was provided host for an legion of rats.

This fact does trifle with the efforts of the tourist office and similar entities, but a rat remains a rat, no matter how small and the Island is host to many of them.

Andre took a walk along the Strand with Little Adam as he had the day off from the stamping mill and Adam asked about Martin Luther King. "What makes this guy so special," Adam said.

"Well," Adam said. "He enabled the freedom of many people, heartened the hearts of folks all around the world who longed for their own freedom, and changed the course of the nation's history for the better. Among other things."

"Well why did he have to die," Adam asked.

"Ah, hem . . ." Andre said. One is, of course, speaking to a child and what one can say has its limits. "He did not have to die. That was brought on by jealous souls who cannot abide change or the idea that change may subtract from them in any way. In truth, it is the idea that the truth overwhelms the life lies that have buoyed up the ships of hatred and imagined superiority."

"WTF?"

"Some people cannot get over the idea that everything on which they based their lives is a lie and that love is the solution."

"Those people must be weird," Adam said.

"I tend to agree, even though they are as normal in this country as apple pie."

"This all so complicated," Adam said.

Andre paused a long while, thinking of Russell Banks, of Franz Fanon, of Thomas Jefferson, of Malcolm X, of so many things. "Martin Luther King was great because he changed America substantially for the better. And that is all you need to know."

"O!" said Adam.

The two finished their walk and the moon rose over the ocean in the fog, accompanied by the bright star of Venus. Beneath the floorboards of the Household, the rats scampered back and forth, occasionally passing by the old heater unit with its sparking wires and dead brethren.

At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

 

JANUARY 8, 2016

THE TREES THEY DO GROW HIGH

This week's photo comes from a correspondent in far distant Austin, Texas, and is an image that evokes our own Oaktown oak. Thanks to Chris Benjamin, who for family reasons is a frequent visitor here to the Bay Area.

LIKE THE WEATHER

A fierce dockwalloper has set in this Friday and continues now with gusts of up to 50 MPH and lashings of rain. Many streets and underpasses are flooded and Marin is suffering through the consequences of many unpruned trees, which have been falling in every district. San Anselmo, which remembers well the massive flood that wrecked downtown in the 80's, had emergency crews out with rescue boats on the ready, keeping in mind that last week's storm brought the creek up to 15.5 feet, a hair below 16 foot flood stage.

Power outages rolled through Larkspur, San Anselmo, and Woodacre, which endured an outage of some 10 hours due to downed power lines. some parts of Woodacre remain without power 24 hours later. A casual ramble along any street in Marin reveals trees badly needing pruning away from powerlines on every block. Kindness to trees means protecting them from man-made structures, and it does look like somebody has been seriously lacking in this department.

CMP says Humbolt Ave from Scenic Ave to Foothill Rd, as well as all of Foothill closed due to tree and power lines down. PG&E on scene.

Woodside Court closed due to pole and lines down in street. No ETA to open.

Sir Francis Drake Blvd at Broadmoor Ave traffic lights are out. Warning tape on the southside indicated fallen tree branches and danger areas.

In Larkspur: 100 block Nellen Ave at Lucky Drive closed due to flooding.

A roving reporter said a tree crew was out on The Alameda off Butterfield sawing up a tree that fell on power lines in San Anselmo.

Forecasters say that this weather pattern will persist through the week, swelling creeks and downing old trees, impacting powerlines everywhere for a while. Howard Schecter reported that snow was expected at elevation (Saturday) followed by rain and then snow again. This is not especially good for our drought prognosis, as we want solid avalanches of snow with freezing temps continuing for weeks on end, while Howard is seeing freezing and melting patterns variable by elevation.

Sorry to say this is not enough to end the drought, as we are as of this point only 1% above normal in a catch-up year that is to make up for the preceding dry six years.

LOVE IS LIKE A THUNDERSTORM

So anyway. The new year has begun and President Frumpy the Clown has already caused furor with his security detail, his snide comments to foreign presidents, and even his appointment of inauguration officials. We do not care that he loves Russians; just do not press the Red Button, Donald. This is not a casino and there is no collection for the House at the end. Besides, most of your casinos were economic failures. You are not planning to run the Economy like one of your Casinos, are you Donald? Donald? Donald? Donald!

What is one to Do with a President for whom nobody voted. He got the Presidency by some kind of trick that seems to involve games and not the majority of the People, but go figure. We will never claim to understand politics.

In other news, some Americans continued to pursued false news stories about Clinton that claimed Clinton was running a sex ring out of a pizza parlor. Pizza orders in New Jersey and Nebraska have skyrocketed since the false news story was released.

Steve Bannon was discovered naked in a hot tub with several pre-teen girls and a pig from Fauquire County, VA recently during a drug raid, but news media remains too ashamed after their recent poor performance to research anything meaningful. Bannon was let off by Washington DC police with a warning not to be seen bathing naked with underage pigs ever again within the District.

Bannon's press secretary released a statement that said Bannon has never had anything to do with pigs, certainly not ones under the age of consent and besides the man is half Jewish, so pork is out of the question to begin with and it's all a Liberal conspiracy.

In the offices of the Official Island Poodleshoot there remained some fallout from last Thanksgiving when a terrier was blasted instead of a poodle by shotgun and apparently laid upon the barbee in entire contravention of the Official Rules.

"You say people actually ATE someone's PET!" shouted Sam Frederick, who was an official scorekeeper.

"Well, we only ate a little bit. He was kinda tough," Carlos said.

"You are sick and perverted," Sam said. "You gotta be punished for that offense!"

"He wasn't so bad with a lot of A1 sauce and horseradish," one of Carlos' star witnesses said. Which comment did not help the cause for Carlos in the slightest.

"I guess this means no sex tonight," Carlos said, which might not have been the most politic thing to say as he and Sam had been cohabiting for a while.

"Take a cold shower," Sam said. "And pay $1000 to the clerk. And I think its time somebody did the dishes, took out the trash and cleaned up the yard."

Down at the Old Same Place Bar, things were moving along after the end of the dreadful election season. People were talking about 'Bama, the Crimson Tide, actually getting into a Championship with some hope of success, which meant that the Blood Moon had arrived, the 4 Horsemen had galloped across the Great Plains, a last Trump had resounded, and the the Chicago Cubs had approached the World Serious with serious intent. If Alabama won the championship, that meant the End of Days had Come.

So then it is okay to remove Obamacare, as we all are gonna die anyway.

While icebergs the size of American States calved off of the Antarctic to threaten Soho property values, the rest of the world readied itself for yet another large nation-state to harness itself in service of fascist ideals and KKK Chief Dragons roistered in hot tubs everywhere in America that ignorance is profound. And another Cabinet appointee was discovered buggering a sheep upon the Mall before the Reflecting Pool, which meant anyone possessing a twitter account who had seen this sordid event, was taken to the Crystal City plaza and summarily executed by the Secret Service.

But we digress. In the Old Same Place, the Man from Minot held forth at great length and this is what he said: "Outside it is lashings of rain and wind and tree branches falling, but inside the brown snug each enjoys peace for a time and his cruiskeen luin which eases the mind, soothes the soul, and calms the red devils in the bed when the terrier of snarliness has seized one's privates with the vicious snout of contumely. O, the terrier of snarliness is bad indeed! But the Water of Life restores and eases the man.

"I have been around the world and seen the cities of man. I have builded houses and seen them fall upon my colleagues to my consternation and woe. I have been married five times and put six wives into the ground to my uttermost grief. I have seen kingdoms rise and fall and empires flourish and fail, but I tell you this. A pint of plain is your only man and a shot of usce que bah eases the pain of existence. Be well my friends."

And they all were paused in their thoughts, each deep into meditation upon this Sermon, for it was Sunday and outside the storm raged and who knew when their hour might come in days like this. The Crimson Tide had reached the Finals.

At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

 

JANUARY 1, 2017

WE'LL MET AGAIN, DON'T KNOW WHERE DON'T KNOW WHEN

We kick off the new year with an image from FB friend Kristine Jeanne and a WWII lyric from Vera Lynn.

2016 took a lot of people from us, presented us with unbelievable horrors involving savage brutality around the world, and ended with a wretched, cynical despair in the political arena that may see the end of the 400 year experiment in American Democracy.

Well enough of that. Things have not gone well for so long let us take the flip side of the Chinese orthograph for "Catastrophe", which just happens to be the same figure representing "Opportunity."

Ramble On, Just Breath, its a Restless Farewell and hope you had the Time of Your Life. It all amounts, really, to a Farewell to the Old Me, as Dar Williams would say. Welcome 2017.

WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

Due to threats against staff-members at Island-Life the base of operations has moved to a different part of the Bay Area. After numerous potentially lethal "accidents" the IPD advised members to move, with a No Country for Old Men response similar to that of the Sheriff in the movie of that name, a man who simply gave up in the face of what the world possesses in the form of Evil.

We continue to maintain connections on the Island which was our home for over 20 years, and in the East Bay, where we lived for a good ten years before that, so we will always harbor affection for the people and places of the East Bay -- especially the people, who just might be the warmest, most down-to-earth folks on this planet. Except for the criminals of course.

Going forward, we will be devoting more time to the North Bay, including the small towns of Fairfax, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Ross, Lagunitas, Novato, and Point Reyes as well as Sonoma. Rest assured we will NOT be covering the hot-tub, sushi-bar, monied crowd but the people born and raised in these areas, who we have found to be down-to-earth, honest and decent folks as direct and plain and decent as any North Dakota farmer.

Interested? Stay tuned to this part of America.

OH, THE DASHBOARD WAS MELTED BUT WE STILL HAVE THE RADIO

So anyway, it came around to the final days of the year 2016. A dockwalloper had come and gone, sluicing out all the old detritus and knocking down a few old oaks whose time had come.

Indeed, this is the age in which the time had come for many things, and casualties would include ancient oaks and freedom. For most people life will not change as they watch the cattle cars pull away from the station, loaded with their human cargo destined for the showers and the stone soap.

Meanwhile a fellow named Jones decided to stroll along the underwater transbay tunnel and, after a diligent search was apprehended and hauled off on New Year's Eve. Not without causing some traffic problems. The tunnel is 3.5 miles long under the Bay, so if the man was seeking to evade fare expense he would have looked at quite a long walk in the dark had he succeeded. He is now looking at substantial jail time in addition to the fine attendant to interfering with a railroad.

A driver seeking to evade capture by CHP managed to flip his vehicle upside down into a Bushville homeless camp at the 27th Street offramp, crushing a couple homeless folks and rattling a couple of his female passengers before capture on NYE. This effort did not result in the man's escape as the CHP are smarter than that and the man now sits in lockdown.

On the Island, while all this tumult took place all around it, parents shuffled their kids off to bed and some households turned on the TV to watch the ball drop in Times Square.

Times Square, if you have not been there, had turned Japanese long ago with immense neon led billboards, weird videos blasted from ten story video screens, and close-packed buildings, and during events like NYE a packed throng of humanity well salted with pick pockets and roustabouts armed with brass knuckles and knives.

It has been the habit of many years for the parsonage at the Temple Emanuel and the rectory at the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint to exchange visits on alternate years on New Years Eve. This began during Father Guimon's tenure at the Catholic Basilica and the stay of Pastor Inquist. Pastors and priests come and go, but traditions and personal attachments abide. It all came about when the Priest needed decent voices for the Xmas pageant and the Pastor of the Lutheran church, eager to establish good will with his neighbor on the block, developed a hankering for the Priest's well stocked liquor cabinet.

It had been the habit of Father Guimon, a habit taken up and repeated by his successor, Father Danyluk, to take a sharp right coming out of the Rectory to begin the daily constitutional walk about the large block, always moving clockwise regardless of weather. The Lutheran Pastor Inquist had maintained a similar habit, traveling by foot according to his nature, anti-clockwise, so you see it was inevitable that the gentlemen would meet at least once a day.

It was during the last series of serious dockwallopers in the last serious rainy season -- which ought to tell you how many years ago it was -- that the two took shelter at the busstop on Santa Clara. The Priest bemoaned the lack of vocal talent among the Catholics, and the Lutheran bemoaned the lack of community fellowship among the Lutherans and the difficulty of obtaining fresh fish on an island of all places and the two bemoaned each in turn the dreadful times and the loss of poor souls to greed, hardness of heart and evil mischievousness.

Well one thing led to another and the two became friends and everyone remarked how much improved the annual pageant was that year.

This year the Lutheran and the Priest met in the Rectory to sit before the fireplace well stoked by Sister Serendipity to enjoy brandy snifters of cognac after a good meal featuring fresh sea bass caught by the Priest while discussing matters of the spirit and matters of fishing, both salt and freshwater.

"I rather like this new pope you have," Pastor Inquist said.

"O now really!" said Father Danyluk. "What can you know about that?"

"Well he's been in the news of course. After such a dreadful year of dreadful campaigning, he gave that new President elect fellow a good message about acting Christian."

"Ah well! That's nice of you. Not going to send him a message by nailing a note to his door are you?"

"Been done. Wouldn't think of it. But somebody needs to speak to him about the red shoes. They are quite over the top, you have to admit."

"O!"

And so as the old, dreadful year died away, with most folks on the Island staying home instead of whooping it up, the two holy men grew silent, pensive and heads nodded. About twenty minutes past midnight Sister Serendipity came around -- as she had learned to do year after year -- and draped coverlets over each of the friends, dimmed the lights and banked the fire, leaving the two clerics snoring in their dreams into the new year. With midnight a came a brief fifteen minute ruckus of crackers and shouts, which soon died away to silence. A peace settled upon the Island, from the empty parks and the rows of gingerbread houses to the quietly lapping waves along the shoreline. Venus burned brightly up above the crescent moon and peacefulness reigned over all and no sirens announced bad trouble and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

The train wail ululated from from far across the water, beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, crying over the dripping basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park and dying between the packed gingerbread Edwardian houses as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER 25, 2016

ALL THINGS STRANGE AND WONDERFUL


This week's image comes from distant Marin where a local knipsed this shy fellow peering from behind a tree in front of his house. Perhaps getting ready for Santa's midnight ride.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

If you were wondering about the hubbub around 825 Taylor in the West End direction, let it be known that the 150 year old oak tree that used to grace the campus of Maya Lin Elementary was uprooted during the recent storm and now is no more. This Oak was the remainder of what had been an entire forest that spread its branches over the Island during pre-Spanish colonial days.

Hazmat hubbub in Berkeley around 7th Street on December 22nd was due to an Ammonia gas release from Bayer labs. Issue was quickly contained.

Murder, she said. You knew we could not slip by a year with things as they are and no murders on the Island. Our rate stands at about 1.33% per year, which means those left a quarter dead or more have months to go. Or we are losing a lot of midgets. Okay, all jokes aside, Donna Marie Qualls, 55, was ordered by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman to return to court on Jan. 5 to have a date scheduled for her trial after being charged with murder.

Qualls is accused of killing 73-year-old Emmanuel Emmett Christy at her apartment in the 700 block of Buena Vista Avenue in Alameda shortly before 10:20 a.m. on Dec. 3, 2015. Alameda police Detective Alex Keden testified that Qualls called 911 after the shooting and told a dispatcher, "I shot him. He's been hurting
me and he told me to give him money."

Keden said when he went to Qualls' apartment a short time later, he found Christy lying on his right side on his bed with a gunshot wound to his left ear area. Christy was pronounced dead at the scene.

As in a lot of family disputes there is a lot of he said, she said, but this time it is all she said. Mostly, our Islanders travel over the bridges to get offed, but we cannot fault a fellow for dying in his bed, so to speak. As traffic worsens, we expect this routine will change the percentages significantly as murderers and victims find it more and more difficulte to get around and unable to afford the high rents.

California no longer has the official stamp of wierdness. Ms. J. Moos of CNN will have to look elsewhere for her coverage of the outre and the bizarre as this week comes a cropper with lunacy across the board in the Heartland.

A brief survey shows a woman in Clairsville, Ohio, really wanted some nachos. So much so, she put an ad on backpage.com offering sex for $60 and some cheesy chips. She demanded them four times during one ill-fated meetup — with an undercover officer who promptly put her under arrest.

A New Jersey Police officer was under investigation for walloping a man dressed in a bunny suit who had arrived at the station to answer for an outstanding warrant. The bunny's brother caught the incident on video (of course), including the cop's delivery of at least two hearty slaps to the head. But he was so cuuuuuuute . . .

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (Florida) is looking for some help identifying an accused robber whose unique taste in disguises even has deputies scratching their heads trying to figure out if it’s a man or a woman.

According to the agency, the robbery in question took place at the Holiday Gas Station, 1937 U.S. 19, around 8:30 p.m. Dec. 14. A person dressed in a military-style pilot jump suit walked into the store and told the clerk to put up her hands. The robber, who also happened to have a beard drawn on with marker, then demanded cash, an email from the sheriff’s office said. The robber did not display a weapon or even imply there was one, the sheriff’s office noted.

While it’s often recommended people stop and smell the flowers, taking time out to pet cats can lead to arrest.

At least that was the case for a Boca Raton man last week who, in the middle of fleeing police, stopped by a home, asked for water and the proceeded to lay down and play with the homeowner’s cats.

All that happened after the man is accused of taking $2,000 out of a friend’s wallet following a night of partying, according to UPI. The man then crashed a Lexus into multiple vehicles, including a cop car and a fire hydrant, before he bailed into a residential area.

At that point, both the Boca Raton and Delray Beach police departments were on his tail.

The man walked up to Candace Noonan’s back sliding-glass door and let himself in, saying he was a landscaper working next door. He asked her for a glass of water and she obliged, First Coast News reported.

When she returned with the water, the man was lying down on the floor, playing with her cats.

“It was odd, very odd,” First Coast News quoted Noonan as saying.

When Noonan’s husband tried to question the man, he fled outside and tried to get away from police by diving into the Intracoastal Waterway.

The crew onboard a police boat landed the catch that resulted in an Aug. 28 trip to the Palm Beach County Jail.

Daniel Pinedo-Velapatino, 21, now faces a long list of charges, including burglary of an occupied dwelling, three counts of drug possession, three counts of assault, hit and run, and grand theft auto, among others.

The woman with the cats declined to press charges.

Alameda’s beloved Tap Dancing Christmas Trees were a part of the 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Thursday in New York City. The locally based dance troupe has joined the parade in years past and has always been well recieved.

This past week we had only six persons put on 3-day hold at Villa Fairmont, probably because all the crazy people stayed out of the rain. We saw one cat bite injury, one DOA of natural causes, a couple peeping Toms, one child cruelty issue, and quite a lot of petty thefts and burgluries, which tends to happen at this time of year. No assaults or strong arms this time around, thank heaven or His Noodliness.

That is just some of the news from around the country as we lumber, toddle and stumble to the end of a wildly inane and hair-pulling 2016.

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

So anyway, the Solstice passed in the penumbra of the last Supermoon of the most dolorous year of 2016, which saw DAESS stomping all over the people of the Middle East while committing heinous atrocities, the drift around the world toward right wing extremism and in this country a resurgence of the most vile, fascist tendencies this country has ever harbored, the deaths of some 25 or more brilliant lights of earth in music and the arts, the entire Arctic circle melting into the ocean and worse besides.

Nevertheless, there remain bright spots and of course the cosmos and the universe continue to revolve. Trump and his minions may have seized power, but the sun abides.

The Solstice passed with little complaint. Terry's Wiccan coven met out at Crab Cove to celebrate the turning of the year and for this time, Eunice the Moose remained in her paddock.

Old Gaia sits there on the rickety porch of the world. Now is the time when Gaia tilts her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes towards a gaze at her son, Phoebus Apollo riding in his bright chariot as she sits and rocks ever so slowly in the ticking wicker chair, the folds of the quilted Universe draped across her lap, the rocking becoming the dance of Shiva, the creaking rails marking the ever ceaseless count of time's advance, ticking each second, each century, from the first moment of creation until that rocking chair stops at the moment of that last, terrible, motionless silence.

Some people confused by Astrological hoodoo believe in this day and age the season warms as the earth spins closer to the sun -- nothing could be further from that deception, unless it be the foolish nonsense of Mercury Retrograde, the classic illusion, for nothing moves with surer purpose than the planets.

As Gaia turns her face toward the light, her ravined face gradually warms with measured steps, deep shadow covering the valleys of her eyes, all the world warming up under rains that will welcome the Spring and life's renewal, and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment while Phoebus Apollo gallops in his low-rider at an angle to her repose, harder to see, longer by degrees in his daily journey, a sort of side-show to beat all side shows.

After the longest night of the year, the shortest day, the hours advance and second by second the light returns to the world. In the half-light of the Underworld Persephone looks up from her shattered pomegranate and waits for her time to return to her mother while above the world endures a cold season of frost upon the land.

The Annual Xmas pageant at The Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint went well, as the continued good relations between the Catholic parish and the Lutheran Parsonage continue such that talent is allowed to traverse minor boundaries and petty differences -- according to Reverend Nyquist, we all are worshipping at the same altar; it is just some people toy with more distractions than others while doing so.

Father Danyluk is of the mind that a few Lutherans in the choir always improve things, and a few stringers of sea bass from a successful fishing expedition is not so bad a tithe to pay so as to achieve harmony that is both spiritual and musical.

At Mr. Howitzer's the holiday party on Xmas eve went on into the early hours -- everyone was jovial about the recent elections and Dodd had to refill the punch bowl some four times until he was all out of fresh juice and mixer and wound up pouring in gallons of vodka from CVS and grapefruit juice to make up for it.

This did not matter so much and Mrs. Cribbage became quite wobbly on her high heels until she fell into the coi pond.

Because of the long school break, Ms. Morales actually caught up with her work for the semester and she and Mr. Sanchez had cookies and tea with brandy and they fell asleep together in the easy chair, Ms. Morales in his lap all curled up while the lights of the holiday tree blinked off and on.

Over at Marlene and Andre's, Martini and the crew had gone out to find a holiday tree more than a week ago and the best they could find was a sort of haphazard, lopsided, sickly and largely barren sort of thing that had been discarded from the lot located at the Presbyterian church. They had pulled their red flexible flyer wagon around to the Unitarian lot, but those trees all were potted plants like ficus and azalea, which did not sit well with the crew for its outlandishness.

So they came around to the lot and looked with longing at the tall trees that cost a fortune of many dollars. Each emptied out their pockets and all together the crew came up with something like twelve dollars and fifteen cents and there were no trees for sale which cost anywhere near that. So with tears in their eyes they turned away from the brightly lit tree lot filled with noble firs and douglas pines and the busy man running back and forth with the saw and the plastic tape and they turned to go when Jose noticed the scraggly fellow left by the dumpster, waiting to be cut up and tossed in.

Javier stood up the tree which had lost much of its foliage and they generally agreed that something could be done with it, allowing a great deal of padding and so this tree they loaded into the flexible flyer transport to be brought back to the Household.

There the tree was placed into the washbasin tree stand and bolstered with cinder blocks and soon draped with all sorts of orniments found around the house and in the garbage and by the end of the evening the Household enjoyed a proper holiday tree, good for all occasions and all faiths.

For it is not the tree that counts, but the love that went into its decoration that matters the most.

That magical night, the opossum who had dwelled for a time in the bole of a previous tree emerged from the fireplace to snarfle around the house.

From far across the water the train wail ululated in waves from the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock and its weedy railbed and interstices of its chainlink fence, dropping slowly over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, trundling out of shadows on the edge of town past the Ohlone burial mounds to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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