Island Life

Vol. 19 - No. 48Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday December 3, 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


DECEMBER 3, 2017

CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD

This week's headline comes the weekend after Thanksgiving and appears to depict a number of survivors in serious confab as if they were CEO's deciding the fate of a merger or the next marketing campaign. We cannot tell you where the picture was taken -- we would have to kill you.

You might not remember the 1960's Motown band Chairmen of the Board ("Give Me Just a Little More Time", "Patches", "You've Got Me (Dangling on a String")), but they earned a gold record and a Grammy (for "Patches") before breaking up in 1976.

All members are still alive and pursuing solo careers.

CH, CH, CH, CHANGES

As the 19th year of Island Life spins down its final month, we are preparing for big organizational, geographic, and artistic shifts. Stay tuned for some extraordinary developments, spurring in part by the depredations and attacks of thuggish types with nasty dispositions and Mafia tendencies.

It has been quite a ride for 19 years on the Island, and we will always retain connections there along with a fond place in the heart for that sick little town that is now home to some 100,000 souls, many of whom are heavily medicated or need to be, as witnessed by the dozen or so taken to John George Pavilion each week. There remain quite a few quirky folks who just slog through the business of life, struggling to keep body and soul together by some kind of legal means without causing a ruckus, practicing small acts of kindness from day to day while raising families and dogs and miniature pigs and chickens. Those folks who mean no harm to anyone we will always love dearly.

As for the others, a la Sam Beckett, we wish them all the fires and ices of hell and in the execrable generations to come an honored name.

And, O! Rest assured during the changes there will be nothing like the dreadful Floating Radio effect ever again.

ON AN ISLAND

Not much has been happening at Silly Council during this Holiday period. The new firehouse down there where the Corporate Yard used to have a facility across from the Island electrical utility has opened up. It is a nice building and does not look at all like a whorehouse, which some stations (in other districts) tend to resemble. We have visited a number of firehouses and we think this one stands on a par with Station 1 in Sausalito.

Continuing a macabre tradition of sorts, Paul Douglas Scherer drove his minivan off Derby Street into the Estuary where he drowned last Tuesday.

Over the last 12 years two other people lost their lives after driving their vehicles into the Oakland Estuary, both from the Alameda side. Dr. Zehra Attari died on Nov. 7, 2005, after driving her car into the estuary at the foot of Grand Street. Authorities say Attari may have taken a wrong turn after getting lost on her way to a medical conference and accidentally drove down the boat ramp at the foot of Grand Street and into the estuary. That particular night was especially foggy.

The Sun cites another incident that took place near Blanding in 2015, but we do recall divers discovering a couple of men who had gone missing some weeks previously. The two men were still in their sedan, drowned for some time when divers attempting repair work on another matter came across the vehicle in 2016.

High times have come to the Island. Seeking to cash in on what many feel will be a significant bonanza the Silly Council approved regulations to govern pot growing for commercial uses on the Island. Some financial wonks estimate the boon to the Golden State will top two billion dollars.

CALLING THE MOON

So anyway, the Supermoon spiral danced around the earth, getting closer and creating a general sense of anticipation. Not the sort of anticipation you might feel like waiting for the peach cobbler, or the sort of anxiety about test results, but a generalized tension in expectation of something about to happen lasting all day and all night for days on end, some tension expecting an appearance of some kind.

A dark figure wearing a trenchcoat and a fedora walked meditatively along the Strand wall. It was the Angry Elf, not someone normally given to venturing far from solid protection of high walls, vantage points and clear sightlines of potential fire. Truth had it, the man was getting on in years. Here he was, as old as the Godfather -- well maybe not that old but getting there -- and unlike the Godfather, he had no empire, no Family. Yeah sure, he had the Business, which consisted of some extortion, under the table cash laundries, numbers, fenced ID info, and your basic smash and grab. Certainly nothing big enough to raise concern with the Feds -- and he had kept it intentionally that way, staying out of the murder for hire thing in favor of setting a few fires and causing a few "accidents".

Yeah he had a loose rabble of twenty some flunkies, like the Jap and Brian Gump, along with a few handy fronts, like the Tile business and the Glassworks that presented itself as an artsy fartsy thing. But an Empire? Here he was living up on the third floor with a good lookout in both directions, and a brownstone back in the old 'hood to act as tax shelter along with occasional income. But still. Was it enough? At his age he should be retired, letting his lieutenants handle all the action, even though they were all as dumb as bricks in an outhouse wall. He shook his head. What was a humble thug from Brooklyn to do? At least he was not from Jersey -- now that would be a hard one to live down. That would be terrible. He oughta count his blessings.

Still he felt he oughta accomplish at least one big job before he stepped out. He wanted to be remembered for something, like Bugsy Malone and Dillinger. Or his idol, the marvelous Meyer Lansky. Now Lansky, that was a Jew who made a name for himself.

What an example.

The Angry Elf heard tires screeching in the distance and so made quickly for his truck. He hopped in and sped back to his castle where he jumped out and, just like clockwork, left the engine running as he quickly undid the garage lock, heaved open the door, drove in, and closed the door behind him so that he could scamper out the back and around the house and out the side gate to relock the garage before dashing up the stairs and into the building.

He had been doing this same routine for some 22 years and had gotten it down to where he could be up in his castle looking out within 45 seconds, pistol in hand, waiting. Waiting for the day his old "friends" would appear . . . .

The days have passed that momentary time when a body could warm itself up in a patch of sun after a long, cool evening. Now the nights have gotten nippy and the days provide no respite. So it is that the entire Household of Marlene and Andre has gathered for the benefit of combined body heat, which is necessary since the chimney was stopped up years ago, rendering the fireplace useless, and the central heating unit worked only fitfully for about ten years until it gave up entirely any semblance of appliance utility, although the thermostat did register faithfully the interior temperature each morning of around 55 degrees before people got stirring from their sleeping bags and cots and sofa.

The rental economy in California went south a while ago, and normal people do not pay the obscene rents demanded -- consortiums, collectives, and unions do that. In the one bedroom cottage set to lease by Mr. Howitzer for a princely sum, some fifteen souls plus non-homo sapiens inhabited that bad abode in bunks, in closets, in the hallway, under the coffeetable and in the fireplace.

Some of them actually held jobs. Others pushed brooms, did itinerant occasional work, and generally got by with seasonal jobs. UPS was hiring and Jose and Pahrump and Javier were there, Jack, standing in line with about a couple thousand other Californios looking to sling boxes and work the trucks as their second or third job, all while trying to make the rent.

At the Household an old hot tub had stood rotting on its side until Martini flopped it over and filled it with dirt to raise tomato plants -- the new hot tub culture. Martini used a rusty tin bucket he filled at the hose tapped into the well someone had drilled quite a while ago to get somewhat free water. They had no more chemicals to make it potable, but for gardening it was good enough. All over NorCal similar things were happening in response to the Rental Crisis.

And every day, the bucket went to the well.

In the actual bedroom, Marlene sat hunched over the account books and the computer keyboard with Andre, both trying to make two ends of a cut slippery noodle of expenses meet the wriggling income part.

Snuffles appeared in the doorway.

"What is it, Snuffles?" Andre said.

"I gots ta show som-ink."

"Not now," Andre said. "We're kinda busy."

"Dis impo-tnt. Werry impo-tnt." Snuffles beckoned urgently, and so the two of them looked at one another and followed the shambling figure outside.

Out on the porch they saw it hovering amid torn clouds above the Bay -- the only Supermoon of 2017.

In their garret with the child blessedly asleep, Mr. Sanchez put his arms around Ms. Morales at the window. The light shifted, then it appeared, streaming down upon the two teachers standing there and they were silvered all over.

Every college has a green sward populated by students with books in Spring and criss-crossed by same in Winter. The Island Community College has just one, bordered by thick hedgerows tenanted by all sorts of Lifeforms.

Just outside the opening to his burrow, Don Senor Guadalupe Castillo de Erizo sat gazing upward as was his wont during celestial events. There he would ponder all sorts of things, or if the sky was clear enough, look at the constellations and remember the old stories.

Madame Herisson poked her head out and queried, "Mssr., tu a faim?"

"No," said the Don simply.

"Tu es froid?" asked Madame.

"No," said the Don with his breath coming out in clouds.

"Tu voudrez quelque chose?" asked Madame.

The Don pondered this a moment. "La paz mundial," he said, proving that although he might understand all human discourse, he seldom spoke to humans for fear of mis-comprehension and that men and women constantly talk to one another in different languages, but somehow get by with occasional understanding.

Madame disappeared inside and returned with a serape which she draped over the shoulders of the Don.

Out on the fishing lanes, his boat pounding toward the place that appeared as a green blobby gift on sonar, Pedro came out of the wheelhouse to let the salt spray wash away the flood of tears - he was sobbing. He gripped the stanchion and the full, furious sobs erupted out of the hardened seaman, wracking his frame as the radio stolidly announced its messages.

"Thank you for your support of The Lutheran Hour over the years. We want to inform you that this is the final newsletter edition of The Lutheran Hour, as the program is no longer distributed by American Public Media.

American Public Media has posted a statement in regard to its decision to end its contracts with Pastor Rotschue.

While we appreciate the contributions the Pastor has made to The Lutheran Hour, we believe this decision is the right thing to do and is necessary to continue to earn your trust and that of our employees and other supporters so vital to our public service.

Thank you for your support."

He knew what it was all about. The recent "retirement" from the main variety program had been enforced by political necessity and health. People plotting and scheming the way they always do. But still there were these side projects whereby he could keep in touch, in some abstract way, with this man who had guided his boat through many stormy seas. Quite literally. The man's sonorous voice and his wisdom had helped him through the time of the Great White, the Time of the Shark. And there had been the tremendous gale at sea when he had nearly lost the boat and all back in the '90s.

And now here he was all alone on the ocean, a vast wheatfield waiting to be plowed down for winter, seeded with mackerel, shad, albacore, harvested in Spring, but now all alone. So the man had some faults, even if true. Was Hemingway a saint? Was Faulkner? Do we genuflect before icons of Picasso as a beacon of morality?

Of course not. What remains out of any man's life is the totality of his work, what he has made. Children, novels and/or magnum opuses like the Ninth Symphony. You do not even need to specify the key or the author's name to know and recognize what is meant.

There was a lull and the clouds parted to reveal what was above. All was bathed in that silver light out on the fishing lanes and even Ferryboat looked up in wonder. Something had appeared.

Mad at work, each at his desk, the Catholic priest Father Danyluk scribbled longhand in the rectory past midnight to compose the sermon for Advent, which in Christian circles is a time of expectation towards the arrival of a deity. The same went for Pastor Nyquist across the way, for surprisingly, his flock also belonged to the Children of Abraham. Each looking for the next Appearance of Christ.

In his cube, the Editor looked at the calendar, considered the days, and looked through his seeing-glass at the countless lives on which he had reported. It is falsely reported that of the Seeing Stones, the Palantir crafted by the elves, of the survivors of the wars one lay at Orthanc, one lay at Weathertop, one lay in the chambers of the Steward of Gondor, one lay in Barad Dur under control of the Dark One. There were in fact others. One at Amon Sul, lost in shipwreck. One at Osgiliath - lost in the river. One at Annúminas on the shores of Lake Evendim, and supposedly lost in shipwreck.

In fact, the Palantir supposedly lost at Osgiliath came into the Editor's possession and it is with this seeing stone that the Editor tracks the going's on of all that dwell on the Island, for the Editor dared not wrest the scope of the stone from its limited course.

An Editor is something of a Wizard, one would have to agree. At least the good ones are like wizards, so it is not surprising that one would find something wizardly in our Editor.

The Editor gazed upon the simple lives of the Islanders on this early December night. He saw their struggles and their despair and their hopes. He saw the movements of the Angry Elf gang and knew that there would be a war and all must fall. His people were a gentle folk and not given to warlike endeavors. All must fall soon.

The Golden State is one country given to disaster and compulsory remaking. What sort of Island would appear from this impending disaster? Of the ruins, what could be made?

He went out onto the deck in back where the old boxelder hung huge and hoary over the yard. Through the branches the full moon announced itself with glory.

The moon shone down with beneficence. All was quiet on the Island. No sirens rent the night and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

The night train far across the water wailed from under the gantries of the Port of Oaktown and keened across the estuary, over the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, over the grassy Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, through the construction zone of what used to be the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the basketball hoops of Littlejohn Park, and died 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 former Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

NOVEMBER 26, 2017


O CAMELLIA WON'T YOU TAKE ME AWAY

Normally this flower is associated with the Deep South, but here in California we have growing seasons all year long. This image was captured in the East End by Tammy who says this is the first bloom which probably was helped along by the recent rains.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Not much to report. A couple housefires, which tend to happen around this time of year because of shoddy landlord maintenance of the electrical stuff, Islanders getting killed over on the other side of the Estuary and at least one floater IN the Estuary -- cause of death TBD. It is a Holiday weekend, so enjoy returning to work Monday.

So without any more ado, lets get to the most popular issue of the year, most popular now for 20 years running. God knows what people have against small, yappy dogs, but there you have it.

THE 19TH ANNUAL POODLESHOOT AND BBQ

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

As per Tradition, on the day of the 17th Annual Poodleshoot, rosy-fingered Dawn arose from the horizon's dark bed and pushed back the shutters of night to allow Phoebus to mount his golden chariot and so, preceding the day, she trailed her gauzy banners across the firmament, traveling across the yard from the battered old half-moon privy hard by the weeds to the house back porch, leaving behind a sort of dew after her passage. Gently, she flushed, and gently she tugged upon the coverlet, and gently she kissed the eyelids of the sleeping Padraic, but he stirred not. Gently she nudged the man, who only mumbled and snorted as he remained held fast in the soft, wooly folds of Morpheus. Playfully, she noodged him once again, but he remained walking in that shadow kingdom of the somnolent God.

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

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

So it was that Padraic rolled out the barrels of the Water of Life and set up the Pit for this year's festivities under bright, chill skies, which had cleared briefly from the storm clouds for the day, once again down by the disputed Crab Cove where servants of the Dark Lord had once plotted to seize the land so as to build yet another series of Dark Fortresses not unlike Cirith Ungol.

The ceremonies began with the traditional playing of the Paraguay National Anthem, as arranged by Terry Gilliam, and performed by the Island Hoophole Orchestra accompanied by the Brickbat Targets chorale ensemble.

This was followed by the devilish meisterwerk composed by PDQ Bach entitled, "Die Sieg der Satanische Landentwickler", an adaptable work which allows insertion of alta-contemporary chorales at the whim of the Conductor.

The ensemble group which has made something of a name for itself by inventing entirely new parts for voice, consisted of Mayor Marie as Conductor and Councilperson Izzy as soprano alla triste in the Misericordia segment and former Councilperson Daysog as mezzo soprano mournful did a fair version of Iago's treacherous soliloquy, with Councilperson Frank in his basso triumphale reprising last year's performance in the esoteric work La Chambre à l'arrière Enfumee Boogie.

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

Mayor Trish Spencer appeared en masque, performing the aria "The Hapless Burgermeister" with Councilperson Jim Oddie following in the role of Flip-Flop.

Frank Matarrese thoroughly nailed his role on Black Sabbath's "Land Pigs", but disappointed in the Eroica segment which features the "Young Man Taking a Stand" soliloquy.

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

The Chronicle, always more reserved due to the heavy influence of conservative ACT in the City, has commented, "It should be interesting to see how well this thing floats in the future amid this stormy time for companies. We almost were convinced Trish Spencer was really a City Mayor, a role she continues to adopt despite the necessary qualifications required -- none of which she seems to possess. Is her portion supposed to be farce or tragedy? We were confused the entire time and wish she simply would go away as she makes the entire City Production look ludicrous."

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

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

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

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

Performing on the Pushy Manager Organ were Carol Taylor and Rachel Linzer of St. Charles.

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

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

Former legislator Anthony Wiener (R) of Washington DC did a standup job upon the Howling Organ Stroker, while Barbara Boxer (D) wowed everyone with the Swan Song Flammable Pedalpushing Accordion with broken boards. This complemented Kristin SweetMarie McCoomber (ENG) and Jessica McGowan-Vanderbeck (USA), both with Incendiary Bustier Spritzers. Nice pair, those gals.

Jessica was joined this year by her husband, Sean, who pounded vigorously upon the Bald Curate's Pate and six-month old baby Dylan who applied himself assiduously to the Bland Howler.

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

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

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

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

This year's emissary from Washington D.C. turned out to be President Rump himself, along with the last people in the world whom he has not insulted -- Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers. Then, of course, there came with him those people generally considered Political Satellites plus the Secret Service. Despite Rump's steadfast promotion of the Second Amendment in staunch support of his Political Base (neo-nazis, KKK dragons, itinerant yahoo rubes, radical fundamentalists, right-wing extremists, Deplorables, ect.) the presence of so much weaponry in one place causes any number of people who depend on the guy significant concern.

Of course the Shoot has seen many luminaries and VIPs appear without incident in the past. Well, very few incidents.

So Rump was attended by that group known as The Odious Crew (TOC). A right wing contingent from the Westboro Baptist Church called The Inane Committee (TIC) joined with them.

Once the first volleys from AR-15s went off, the Tappet Brothers scampered over to the Pit to discuss valve trains and timing belts and remain out of harm's way.

A stubborn platoon of dogwalkers dug in on the edge of the sports field at Wood Middle School near the shoreline as a murk of clouds gathered above the battlefield and there was much travail and yapping of poodles as hunters attempted to cross the vast expanse while being subject to a whithering fire of missle weapons and canine WMD's (Weapons of Mass Doo-doo).

Then came President Rump with his battalion of TOC and TIC cadres and Rump let out a mighty blast of hot air at the dogwalkers who defended themselves with parasols and impermeables that began to melt before the mighty blast.

"NOBODY IS BETTER THAN ME! I OWN A HELICOPTER AND YOU ARE NOTHING! MY VICTORY IS GONNA BE BIGLY! BIGLY, I TELL YOU! LOSERS!"

Thus spake the mighty Rump with great volume, as is his wont, and the dogwalkers were beat by by the savage fury of the blast of hot air. But such was the fury of the blast that the shingles came loose from the school buildings and the goalposts became uprooted and the blast continued long after the last poodle had fled yapping with the TIC contingent beating them about the ears with bibles while spewing a miasma of hellfire and brimstone invective.

One of the TOC squad let loose with his blunderbus next to President Rump's ears and the unfortunate man was assailed on the spot with fury.

"WHO THE HECK ARE YOU? YOU ARE NOBODY! I AM PRESIDENT! I AM PRESIDENT AND YOU ARE NOT! TRAITOROUS PRESS! YOU ARE FIRED!"

"ANYBODY WHO DISAGREES WITH ME IS FIRED! BUNCH OF LOSERS! AS FOR THAT NORTH KOREAN GUY I USED TO LIKE HIM -- NOT ANY MORE; HE IS JUST A KITTY CAT. AND AS FOR REPRESENTATIVE MOORE HE IS A HECK OF A GUY. WE GRAB THEM BY THEIR KITTY CATS . . . ! SENATOR WARREN TOO! THAT POCOHONTAS. I'LL GRAB HER BY HER KITTY CAT AND SHE'LL COME ALONG! I AM THE GREATEST POODLEHUNTER OF ALL TIME! ALL THE REST OF YOU ARE LOSERS! LOOOOOOSERS!"

The hot air from Rump blew down the batting cage and bowled over the other hunters on the field. All the palms lining 8th Street were stripped of their fronds in the tremendous wind. The sky was dark and roiling already and the hot rain went sideways across the desolate waste with everyone taking shelter. Gust of hot air blew through the hunter's camp and the Pit, sending dangerous coals flying up into the trees where they caught fire in the branches.

The poodlewalkers seized this confusion to launch a counterattack on many fronts. John Knox Ford was cast down among his planning documents, the members of ARC who had fought valiantly on behalf of Renters on the Island were scattered, and the decent hunters among them were dismayed by the slaughter even as President Rump ignored the realities, continuing to trumpet his pride amid the gathering storm made even more virulent by Global Climate Change.

It seemed that all would be lost as the fires raged to the north, the rising seas threatened to overwhelm the tender-hearted least terns, neo-nazis rampaged down Church Row with cavorting poodles who did poop wantonly upon the sacred grounds and incubi such as Moore who had long hidden repulsive defilements beneath robes of sanctity marched with flaming crosses and the treasury was all undone for Nixon had long since removed the Golden Standard.

Jason Arrabiata, Rev. CFSM, called up to His Noodliness, begging for supplication and so the First Night passed in wailing and lamentation. The sun arose in a fearful murk, which let through only a single ray of light that shone down as if from Heaven above, when Lo! a wagon from Marin came bearing a great load of peaches and many more followed him from the Valley and distant Mexico, called up and able to cross the Rio Grande with their loads of precious fruit for there was not yet a massive wall planned and likened unto the gates of Mordor, not yet fearsome trolls manning the battlements.

And when the wagons reached the field of slaughter where Rump continued to ramp his unreasoning cant, they let loose the buckboards and an avalanche of sweet fruit advanced upon the Rump who was perforce sent backwards to his black helicopter and so into retreat, for veritably, President Rump had been impeached.

Then went up a great shout among the valiant and the stout-hearted who rallied with the Amazonian warriors led by Elizabeth Warren and Barbara Boxer arrived in the nick of time from distant Marin to support all that is good and just and so united they drove back the enemy all yipping and snapping like a mighty wind bends the grass and the blessed rain did fall to extinguish the northern fires and although there was suffering and great loss, and house and rick be totally destroyed, those things can be rebuilt for life continues defiant against tyranny.

So it was that Padraic laid ahi upon the Barbee and there was feasting and rejoycing upon this victory over Evil and terriers did romp and disport upon the torn green with glad eyes for the enemy had been driven back and the rain meant an end was put to the terrible drought that had so plagued the Golden State.

Thus ended the Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ, 19th occurance of that tradition on this Island and all I speak is the truth, so help me God.

As the blessed rain fell along with merciful night, the night train far across the water wailed from under the gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the estuary, the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grassy Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of what used to be the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the 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 former Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown future.

That's the way it was on the Island for the 19th Annual Poodleshoot. Have a great week.

 

NOVEMBER 19, 2017

ALL THE LEAVES WERE FALLING

This week's headline image comes from Carol in the Gold Coast district who is something of an artist. Here she has put together a foto taken from her window and some Fall colors for your enjoyment.

PRINT ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

The year is spiriling down in damp and dank hours after a period of political, social, human, and physical cataclysm. The most corrupt, swampy Executive Branch administration seen since the Teapot Dome, dreadful mass murders in concert halls, schools and churches, and latterly the horrific California fires that have destroyed entire towns and substantial portions of towns like Santa Rose, Napa and Sonoma all contribute to a sense of malaise this Holiday Season.

This weekend, when we gather with families and loved ones, giving thanks means thanking whatever in which you believe for your house, if you still have it, your family, if you still have it, and for life and health, if you still have both.

Locally, Mayor Trish nominated Sylvia Gibson to the Planning Board. As Lauren Do has mentioned in her blog post, "she will largely represent the Alameda Citizens Taskforce point of view," and in that, like it or not, we tend to agree given the observed history of Trish and of Gibson.

We are reminded that the Island Food Bank still needs donations for the annual Turkey Drive -- last year we saw over 750 turkeys handed out along with fixin's to needy families with persons durable enough to stand in line for a couple of hours.

Around the Golden State it was scarcely a slow news week what with another mass shooting in Tehama County, animal rescues, massive traffic backups due to car and truck crashes that turned morning commutes into hours-long endurance contests, threats of mudslides in the burned zones due to recent wet weather, along with BART contretemps and SMART train deviances.

There is not a soul in Alta California who is not looking forward to this brief vacation, even if it means dealing with family.

So have a happy Thanksgiving everybody and have a wonderful 19th Annual Poodleshoot.

COLD RAIN AND SNOW

So anyway. The days open with skeins of cloud and fog hugging the vales and creeping over the distant hills. The past couple of days we have seen sunshine break through the chill for a while in most places, leaving the ambient temperature a bit too cool for that oddly named period Indian Summer. Whatever it is, we are headed to another season of it.

Up north, meaning the far White North, skims of ice have formed on Bear Lake, by report and to the East we have reports of snow falling on Mammoth.

The blessed rain sifts down on the ashes of Glen Ellen, the California town that is no more, and Kenwood and the destroyed neighborhoods of Fountaingrove. For some, this will be a bleak Holiday. For many others one of gratitude.

In the Old Same Place Bar the regulars are talking about the upcoming Poodleshoot, the 19th iteration of that charming, convivial, and ultra-violent American Tradition. After all, what is more American than collecting vast amounts of ammunition and firearms so as to excite the blood, preserve the Second Amendment, and defend life and property from the Goverment, which has the entire Marine Corps and several Apache attack helicopters at its disposal. One can just imagine a handful of zealots armed with a collection of AR-15 rifles, trying to fight off the US Marines backed by battalions of tanks. Quite a recipe for success.

There is much speculation on just who will represent the Nation's Capitol this year -- someone from the judiciary has been expected for several years, but every since Bushie potted an attorney-friend one time, the legal profession has tended to avoid the Shoot. There are any number of possibilities in Congress who could use a bit of good press to ease their bad reputations for habitual molestation so there is nothing to expect save to expect the unusual.

In this time, it gets dark earlier and earlier as we propel towards the longest, darkest night ever seen. Certainly the longest darkest night of this year so fraught with troubles. Yellow schoolbuses let off kids who scamper home as the light fails. Streetlights come on in the urban areas, and in the countryside, the dark bulks of animals set to wandering by the Sonoma and Napa fires glide through the trees and along the roads, searching for shelter and food.

The red Miata of the Angry Elf pauses in the shadows as his red eyes glare with hatred at the warm households from which he feels excluded. One of these days, one of these days coming soon he would make them all pay a dear price. He would make them all very, very sorry. With an angry hitch he shifts into gear and roars off, causing Toto the terrier to set up a vigorous barking of warning, alerting all the dogs in the neighborhood as well, until Beatrice says, "Hush now!"

The streets of the Island are generally empty now as folks have been driven indoors by the cold, and the Strand extends in both directions with only the solitary sand walker here and there exploring private thoughts, each to each, while the distant lights of Babylon sparkle across the flat expanse of black water.

Councilperson Raymond Cribbage, Associate Rooster of the Island Kiwanis lodge, stands there on the shore looking out, thinking of something unknown. He was recently accused by several women of groping and molestation while being plied with alcohol and strange pills and so he must have a great deal about which to think in this time.

Jose came along after finishing up at the Island-life offices his general duties and he greeted the Councilmember, noting his general funk.

Raymond Cribbage had a wife of some 25 years and three kids.

Raymond mentioned that he was concerned of late accusations about things that -- allegedly -- happened many years ago.

Jose, who knew a few things, thought for a moment and then said, "Every day the bucket goes to the well," and then walked off.

Indeed, left tacit the truth that one day, the bottom drops out.

Down where the Snoffish Valley Road joined up with the main road a couple wandering turkeys pecked and gobbled near the entrance before bobbing along as they do into the dark mist that emanated from that door. They disappeared and were never seen again and so escaped the executioners ax.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the haunted waves of the estuary, theexpanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of what used to be the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, crying over the 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 former Ohlone burial mounds to a mysterious, unknown future.

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

 

NOVEMBER 14, 2017

DEER SONG

Leave it to deer to inspire the Bare Naked Ladies, System of a Down and Mary Poppins. Here is one in someone's backyard.

]

Deer often swim across the Estuary to clomp around the Island until caught and sent back to the East Bay or Marin, where such pests are considered "en-deering".

This past week a mountain lion was darted by Animal Control over in Babylon, where the Wild Life seems to have limits.

After the big wildland fires up north we are likely to see a lot more of this sort of migration for a while.

NOVEMBER'S GOT HER NAILS DUG IN DEEP

So anyway. The year spins on its twisted axis to a close. Old Gaia sits on her porch as the earth tilts away from her son, Phoebus Apollo. She sits on the porch with her coverlet over her old knees and the last rays caress her ravined face.

Now is the time when the air becomes sodden with mildew and sluice. Gouts of water erupt from the old places and streams return in their prepared beds. The light is soft through the dense gray atmosphere of morning and then, the afternoons sparkle with dazzling rays that glow the changing leaves of maples and other broad leaf trees going golden and scarlet in this time.

In this time, people start to make connections, plans for family gatherings and the restoration of Traditions. All the ghosts that crossed over during Los Dias de los Muertos stand around, watching.

Soon the Island will resound to the 19th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ. Father Danyluk of the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint will renew his friendship with Pastor Nyquist of the Lutheran Immanuel Church as in years and decades now past.

It was a rainy year when the Catholic priest, given to walking clockwise about the block so as to meditate upon his sermons (he was a fond devotee of St. Thomas Aquinas), took refuge under a bus stop shelter with Pastor Nyquist who had taken to walking, as was his nature, anticlockwise around the same block, and so came to discovering that both clergy experienced difficulties with members of their respective flocks and yet had need during the Holiday time of specific resources.

Pastor Nyquist had need of proper beverages of which the Catholic rectory kept ample store. The Catholic had need of proper musicality which could only be supplied by the Lutheran choir filled with talented voices.

Some might say it was a match made in heaven, which probably gives fig all for Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish, or Islamic petty differences when push comes to shove.

The weatherman forecast cold and rain and so the streets were largely empty as the red truck and the white sedan carrying members of the Angry Elf gang stopped on Santa Clara Avenue to set a car on fire before driving away.

Denby, passing by, called in a report to IFD and wondered about the tenability of remaining on the Island that now was home to 100,000 people.

The Editor considered Veterans Day and quickly rejected the notion. The time for fond sentiments was 40 years ago when he and his brothers returns from that Southeast Asian fiasco. Thanks for your service now, when it had been all spits and hisses back then. Damage done and not repaired.

Some of his buddies went out for blowing of taps and all that at the model airplane field on Harbor Bay Island, but he seldom had patience for the pomp and ceremony -- old fogies living in the past and he had a news room to run while under onslaught of the worst attack on the Press since Heinrich Himmler. Sentiment be damned; he had a press organization to run.

Over at the Household of Marlene and Andre it had gotten crowded again. With the return of wet, cold weather, folks who had been keeping outside were taking shelter in the Winter. Occasional Quentin was again sleeping under the coffee-table while Jose folded himself up to use the hall linen closet as a bedroom. Times, never very easy, had become harder once again now that Brother Obama was gone and so the fifteen lost souls took humble residence in the one bedroom cottage. The rents had skyrocketed to obscene levels way past the ability of even normal people to pay to live, and the savage greed was wrecking households and businesses all over the Bay Area.

In this time the Angry Elf was finding employment as a Real Estate Management Expert one month, and as a Security\Fire Safety Manager the next, all the while using his position to scout out places that his gang could later rob. He had "friends" in several businesses who diverted calls from honest people checking his references and credentials. For the end of the year he had a grand revenge planned on Islanders who had disagreed with him on any number of real and imagined slights.

Out on the street Jason Arrabiata, Rev. CFSM, put his hand on the wet pavement to feel it tremble from some deep tension. Some kind of tectonic event was building up deep underground. Rebbe Mendelnusse felt it as well at the house of worship on Harbor Bay. Something was about to happen, another ugly Kristalnacht he was sure of it.

Meanwhile Suan and Rolf poured over Bay Area maps. They knew that the attack from the Angry Elf gang was coming soon. Both of them knew enough about survival and life that they had to have an exit plan. They knew they did not have the resources to fight savage animals like these. They knew they needed a fallback plan and in western Marin there was a possible place of refuge for the Lost of the World.

And in this time, the Creator bent his heavy head to ponder what would come next after fire and devastation. For fire is the only friend of the Angry Elf and devastation his employment. Something was about to change.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the haunted waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, 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 a mysterious, unknown future.

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

 

NOVEMBER 6, 2017

TURKEY IN THE STRAW

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WHATS GOING ON

Merciful rain is forcast and all the fires are under control up north.

Two new accessible shuttle buses began operation on Oct. 31 to meet the growing transportation needs of Alamedans. Riders need not wait more than 30 minutes for a shuttle at each designated stop. Both Alameda Loop Shuttles (formerly called Alameda Paratransit Shuttles) are equipped with bike racks and wheelchair lifts.

The two buses run three separate routes Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parking, always a bone of contention in any urban area, got nasty for Gold Coast residents as artinez-based MCK Services has been stowing its heavy equipment on the block occupied by Mastic Senior Center during the repaving of Lincoln Street. This is not the first time MCK Services has taken flack for using up parking space, as this same firm occupied space near the High School on Central a couple of years ago, raising the hackles of neighbors in the East End.

Most of the open air events taking place on the Island have occupied Park Street, but in recent years we have seen events occur at the Point and now we have a Holiday shopping event pre-Black Friday on Harbor Bay Isle.

Holiday Fest 2017, a Holiday shopping expo, has been set for Sunday, Nov. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

A huge variety of handcrafted and specially made items will be on sale in one convenient place: Temple Israel and the Community Center
of Harbor Bay Isle at 3183 and 3195 Mecartney Road.

Plenty of free parking is available nearby at Bay Farm's Harbor Bay Landing. Overflow parking is available at CVS and Safeway.

Support the local economy and get your Holiday shopping done without suffering the surging masses on the day after Thanksgiving.

A Yoshis on the warmer side of the Bay, Dan Hicks will bring his swing on the 21st to celebrate the Solstice. Goapele will bring his unique flavor the entire week before and including NYE.

The 32nd Annual Christmas revels takes place at Oakland's Scottish Rite Temple on two weekends this year: December 8th through 17th
Fridays 8:00 pm, Saturdays 1:00 and 5:00 pm, Sundays 1:00 and 5:00 pm.

The Christmas Revels celebrates the turning of the year in Scottish style. Join the gang this December in the land of Robbie Burns as we pass the shortest day in song, dance, and spirited folk tales. Be there for haggis and Hogmanay, first-footing, wool-waulking, mouth music, and even Guising! Of course the Lord of the Dance will welcome you, and the Abbots Bromley Antler Dance will cast its mysterious spell.

Go to http://www.californiarevels.org/show/ for information.

At the renovated Fox in Oaktown, the exciting Tedeschi-Trucks band holds forth for three days before Thanksgiving while Marin bad-boy Les Claypool of Primus handles NYE, sailing on seas of cheese with the elephant no doubt.

AND BURNED LIKE MOONBEAMS IN OUR EYES

So anyway. After Denby struggled back to his rented room upstairs in the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum to recover from this year's Crossing during the last night of Los Dias de Los Muertos, Eugene Gallipagus took down the long box from the shelf and unpacked all the camo equipment and brushes and oils and everything that evoked the scent and memory of autumn.

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

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

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

We will be posting the official rules presently in the sidebar. For now, last year's rules are up there to give you an idea of what this dreadful celebration is all about.

What is the Annual PS&BBQ? Well, everyone is invited. It is a solidly American tradition and we love traditions around here.

In the Old Same Place Bar, there is a chatter and a clatter from within. Every time Padraic passes the snug where he put the new lease with its rent increase, he snarls, then sighs.

Eugene is huddled with stalwart hunters trading stories of past Poodleshoots and making plans for this 19th version of the famous event that draws luminaries from all over the country. There is much speculation as to whom the White House will send as representative this year.

At the Marlene and Andre's household, the place has been packed, all the wanderers and lost having come home to roost as the night air turned dank and chill with the rains and the return of the heat-sapping fog. As the night eases along with a smooth stride, spinning its watchchain in a loping stride, horns moan through the fog across the wide expanse of water and the snores of sleepers drift up from cots and sleeping bags and sofa and closet, every nook and cranny occupied of that bad abode. The rustling in the big ginormous habitot run goes quiet as Festus and his pals tuck in.

Out on the street a pickup truck carrying members of the Angry Elf gang went whooping around the corner as the gang members planned more evil mischief.

Soon, all was quiet in this darkening time of Daylight saving and Trumpism. Beneath the floorboards of the Household the rats scampered around the old decrepit furnace with its sparking wires, avoiding fried comrades who had gotten too close to the machinery. Night fell early and a gentle rain sussurated down and a quietude pervaded the Island. No sirens tore the night air and a gentle peace ruled all the little Edwardian houses. It was a quiet night on the Island and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the haunted waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, 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 a mysterious, unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 29, 2017

57 CHANNELS AND NOTHING ON

THIS ISLANDLIFE

Not much matters as the year decays like a rotting zombie. Wierdness persists over the Firechief appointment. ARC continues to fight the good fight against obscene rents and ridiculous housing. The Patch proudly touts rotting mansions going for $800,000 in the form of buildings what would scarce fetch $50,000 in Kentucky for all the dinkiness and electrical and structural problems.

Svendsen’s Boat Works, another victim of Developers here, recently announced that it will move to Richmond on Jan. 1, 2018. Svendsen’s will join Bay Marine Boatworks at its Richmond facility, 310 Cutting Blvd.

Svendsen’s existing boatyard in Alameda will close next Friday, Nov. 3, to facilitate the company’s relocation to Richmond and the eventual redevelopment of the Alameda Marina. Svendsen’s products divisions, including the wholesale distribution and chandlery, will continue to operate at the Alameda Marina.

Meanwhile the Season continues. A home in Alameda’s Gold Coast neighborhood recently set up a unique set of Halloween decorations under the banner “A Very Very Trump Halloween.”

Nearly every figure playing a role in the new president’s administration is represented by an undead statue outside the home. The satire extends from the president himself dressed as the devil, to puppetmaster Vladimir Putin riding a skeletal horse to a three-headed Cerberus of Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump, Jr. The elaborate display has received national attention on blogs BoingBoing and The Daily Kos.

The Island has shifted in the past decade from predominantly Republican during the Navy tenure here to 95% Democrat in demographics.

WAITING ON A TRAIN

So anyway. The dismal time of the Crossing, the time of El Dias de los Muertos when the veil between the worlds is most thinnest had arrived. Right on time the dense pogonip draped the hills with mysterious beauty.

Denby drove out to the place he had always parked for the past 19 years and took out his cane and began to walk along the path that bordered Shoreline and the Strand. The moon hung in a cresent, waxing but still not conquering. The evening winds had kicked up, but without the accustomed force, and fortunately so for those fighting the distant fires. The hope was that this fog would dampen the fires destroying the lands further north. The dense pogonip had begun to usurp the visual reality of this world. Strange creatures began to appear in the mist with glowing eyes.

Denby had already entered that other realm beyond the veil as his cane went "Stump! stump!"

Then he came to It. The gate in the stone wall, which did not exist at any other time. He faced this thing as he had 19 times before, but paused. A distant dog or set of dogs set up an infernal barking.

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

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

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

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

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

"Hoo! Hoo! Hoooooo!"

Okay, okay. Poor choice of words.

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

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

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

"si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta"

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

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

At the bonfire's edge a bright familiar voice greeted us, "Denby! Back again so soon?"

A sort of pale glimmer drifted towards him over the dark sands, a woman dressed in white with frizzy platinum blonde hair. She reached out with her left arm. But her hand went right through his arm, leaving a clammy, cold sensation.

"Hello Penny." Denby said.

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

"Well, here you are again," Penny said. "I see from recent events you are approaching closer to the Final Crossing. How is your health?"

"O, I have had a few hitches and such. Seeing a doctor about things," he said.

Penny shaded her eyes as if seeing something inside something.

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

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

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

Strange words in another language reverberated inside the skull: "si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta" echoing and echoing down long hallways of mirrors into an eternity of echos. Everyone who arrives at the Lands of the Dead is always surprised.

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

A woman approached him through the murk across the Strand, a woman with blond hair all touseled and glimmering from an internal light.

"Hello Denby," said the woman. "Has a year passed already?"

"Hello, Penny," said Denby. "Here I am."

"This is the 19th time you have crossed over," Penny said. "And each time you look a little paler and more transparent. I think the time is coming when you cross over and do not return to that other place."

"19 years," Denby said. "And each time I ask about the future only to get images of the Past. I think, soon, the world above will change. It is changing already and I do not know how the Island can last through it. Penny, if you have any insight, please, please let me know now."

The dead soul looked at him and the wind blew and the children ran between them, laughing in their games.

"How can you expect that we know what is going to happen when we have no connection any more to the world. We are all waiting here for transit to the Other Side. You among the living cannot know how much I long for that ship to carry me across."

The plaint in her voice caused a lump to rise in his chest. "Penny, I am sorry, but I was sent here to find out what is to be. And I do not think I have much more time."

"O don't be so lugubrious!" Penny suddenly said brightly. "Come along and meet some people!"

From far across the water came a glimmering that slowly revealed itself to be two beacons held head high above a skiff poled by a dark figure.

Other figures began to move down the slope to a stone jetty that extended out beyond the beach. It was a curious gaggle of people that advanced towards the landing there. A tall, patrician man wearing a silk bathrobe emblazoned with a familiar bunny logo strode along with two woman who were naked save for small angel's wings sprouting from their shoulders accompanied a stout man with bushy eyebrows and smoking a fat cigar. Another man darted along the strand and pulled up on a motorcycle before hopping off, leaving the machine to fall into the surf.

A black man with a moustache duckwalked along with an electric guitar that seemed energized by the very air itself and this he sang:

Swing low chariot, come down easy
Taxi to the terminal zone
Cut your engines, cool your wings
And let me make it to the telephone

Los Angeles give me Norfolk Virginia
Tidewater four ten O nine
Tell the folks back home this is the promised land callin'
And the poor boy's on the line

A lanky man passed close by, also with an electric guitar.

"Bye bye Tom," Denby said.

The man with the guitar responded:

Well I don't know what I've been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
I'm tired of screwing up, I'm tired of goin' down
I'm tired of myself, I'm tired of this town
Oh my my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come 'cause I can't stay long
Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm
Tired of this town again

A lanky western-looking man ambled down the shore. "Hey Sam." Denby said.

The man responded as follows before going down to the landing where the skiff was now making its dock:

"I used to talk to you all the time, even though I was alone. I walked around for months talking to you. Now I don't know what to say. It was easier when I just imagined you. I even imagined you talking back to me. We'd have long conversations, the two of us. It was almost like you were there. I could hear you, I could see you, smell you. I could hear your voice. Sometimes your voice would wake me up. It would wake me up in the middle of the night, just like you were in the room with me. Then... it slowly faded. I couldn't picture you anymore. I tried to talk out loud to you like I used to, but there was nothing there. I couldn't hear you. Then... I just gave it up. Everything stopped. You just... disappeared. And now I'm working here. I hear your voice all the time. Every man has your voice."

Down at the dock the ferryman was tossing his line and beginning to take his toll of the obolus that each soul carried in its mouth.

"Do not stare too close at his eyes - they are wheels of fire," Penny said. "Remember what happened last time when you did that."

Indeed the excruciating, searing pain of looking into the eyes of the infernal Charon had nearly wasted his own soul and body as he had fallen wailing into the sedge along the shore.

But still he could not help but see how the two naked women with wings were taken onto the skiff, now loaded with souls, and how the skiff was poled away to leave the patrician man sitting there on the dock, quite alone. Perhaps for the first time, ever, in his existence.

"How long do you think that man will wait?" Denby asked.

"No one knows what lies within the heart of any man," Penny said. "But I suspect it will be quite a long time in his case."

The skiff became smaller as it poled away and the glimmer shrank to the size of a distant star or a tiny comet heading to some unimaginable heavenly destination.

"Some go quickly," Penny said. "Others, like me and some of your friends, must wait until they learn patience for one or many years of your time on earth."

A group of men wearing battle fatigues and jogging together passed below them. A few of them called out to Denby, who waved. Old buddies. From back then.

All along the strand the bonfires flickered, each surrounded by groups of souls each having something in common with one another. A bevy of girls wearing old fashioned pinafores ran past, shrieking with laughter. A girl with big round eyes magnified by large eyeglasses ran right up to Denby and shouted "Boo!" before darting away into the darkness.

"And what about these?" Denby said. "These innocents."

"You are right to call them Innocents. They are the souls of those not born and never were and those perhaps to come. They are visible to you because they have something to do with your own life," Penny said. "Some are the possibilities of that which happened between you and me. They are the Daughters of the Dust."

"This is not fair," Denby said. "This is not fair. We have so little time." He made a guesture of futility. "There is so little time."

An iron bell began to clang.

"The time is up; you are right. Now you must go." Penny said. "Or the portal will close and you will have to waste away here a year or more."

"I want to stay here with you Penny," Denby said.

"Foolish man! That would be self-murder and cost you a thousand years or more! Go now!"

Reluctantly Denby turned and ascended the slope as the iron bell clanged more insistently.

At the gate, he paused to turn back, a modern Orpheus, and Penny stared at him. "You are concerned about the Island and what will come after. Know this: the Island will continue long after you are gone. Life is a vale of tears and suffering. There is some comfort in knowing that there is an end to it and it does not go on forever. Remember the Sybil of Cumis. I will be here waiting for you at the end. Go out there and live life that remains. And Denby . . .".

"Yes?"

"Above all, practice your singing. You really should practice." She bent forward and his lips felt a wetness.

With that, Denby stepped through the gate and the mist that hung all around and his face was slapped by a salt spray so that his cheeks were wet as he stumbled out onto the path along Shoreline Drive. When he looked back, the portal had closed and all he saw was a black and empty beach extending for miles in either direction and all trace of the stone jetty had disappeared down below.

He stumped his way along until he came to the car where Jose sat smoking a jay. Jose drove him silently to the Offices and let him out before driving off without saying a word.

The Editor reached into the cabinet and brought out the the rare 19 year old Scotch and poured each of them a drink.

"They happen to mention anything about WWIII and North Korea, ISIS or our idiot President?" asked the Editor.

"Somehow the subjects never came up," Denby said.

"I do not know why I send you each year," the Editor said. "I keep hoping for forecasts."

"I do not know either," Denby said. "This reminds me way to much of things like Ap Bac.

"It is Tradition," said the Editor. "Get ready now for year 20."

"Oy gevalt," said Denby. "Splash a little more of that juice in this glass."

The Editor did so.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the haunted waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the ghostly grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, 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 a mysterious, spectral, unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 22, 2017

WHEN IN TIMES OF TROUBLE MOTHER MARY SAYS TO ME



WHAT'S GOING ON

Up north, where we have friends and family and staffers who have been on the front lines of the firefight, we are pleased to report containment of the biggest fires, Tubbs, Atlas, and Nuns. Each of those fires developed into multifire complexes and acquired new names to reflect those facts. Tubbs and Nuns are 89% and 94% contained. The Pocket fire up around Cloverdale is 84% contained. The Atlas fire is 92% contained. The fire that threatened Oakdale joined with the Nuns fire. The fire that closed Highway 37 was contained a few days ago. Every two hours the Sheriff's office has been issuing conditional revocation of evacuation orders and road closures. Calistoga was saved.

Entry into the Coffey Park and Fountaingrove neighborhoods of Santa Rosa is by controlled checkpoint only. You MUST have a valid ID indicating proof of residence.

41 people died - mostly individuals over 70 years of age with limited mobility. 68 people missing in Sonoma County. There are more unaccounted persons in Napa and other counties. The total devastation, including Redwood Valley, is over 7,700 structures destroyed.

When you look at perimeter maps and stats, bear in mind that some fires are out of the jurisdiction of CalFire -- those incidents are handled by federal agencies.

Right now the LA Times is hosting a series of articles on these fires and is probably the best general public source of information. For those wanting to help, you should go to the Sonoma county website for vetted information about donations and volunteering at SONOMACOUNTY . Do NOT act on the report of a "friend" or a mailer or someone sitting at a table in front of the grocery store. Do NOT rely on social media.

More locally, we see the poison of Developer gold fever persists. Here is a quote from the recent Sun:

"Some local residents were concerned this past weekend that a West-End landmark may have seen its last days. Construction began on a new project at the parking lot near Webster Street and Lincoln Avenue that once contained a Southern Pacific Railroad station. The small ticket booth received a reprieve from the wrecking ball when it was protected earlier this year (“Quick Action Saves West End Railroad Landmark,” Feb. 2).

The former ticket booth has been relocated toward the rear of the property which is expected to become a condominium complex. The property owner is required to restore the protected structure to a prominent location on the site."

That ticket booth is not just a remnant of a single spur-line. Not many people recall that the transamerican railroad terminus was located there for a time because the terminus in Oaktown had not yet been completed.

Condos, yes. That is just what we need; more expensive housing for rich people.

There was a car show on Park this past weekend. A lot of really old cars were on display. We have no notes on the bands or the music, so muff it.

The Angry Elf gang has some of its lower end trolls cruising the Fernside district for crimes of opportunity. They have been stealing UPS deliveries, looting open garages and unlocked cars and generally doing what the Angry Elf gang does -- make life more difficult for decent folks. Be on the lookout for cruisers at dusk.

THE CHOSEN

So anyway, the time had come for the annual, the awful, the terrible, the terrifying Drawing of Straws in the Island-Life offices. For those of you just now entering this World, each year the Editor has the Drawing of Straws so as to determine who shall perforce be compelled to cross over to the Other Side, that side from which no man returns, no man save for maybe Orpheus and Achilles and Nicholas Cage and a handful of other exceptions,

Like most meetings, nobody wants to be there, and like most important meetings, attendance is compulsory. Else risk automatic Selection. It is sort of like how the Draft descended to in the early 1970's. Everyone is miserable and anxious. The process is extended and tortuous. No one wants to be Selected. To be Selected is Doom.

So on the given night Rachel walks around with a hat held high -- she is the tallest person in the office and is well suited for that task -- and each sad sack Islandlife staffer draws a straw with the shortest straw becoming the loser.

People always try to get out of it. Even Festus is included.

"Boss! I am an hamster! What do I know about dead people and the future?"

"Shut up and draw," says The Editor.

Indeed the annual visitation is all about learning about what comes next, for it is assumed the Dead will somehow have an insider bit of information. No one knows why this is, but that is just the way Tradition goes. And Tradition. Well you do not mess with Tradition. Tradition is what we have that keeps us together over the millennia of troubles that otherwise would disperse our very existence into Nothingness.

So. The dreadful evening comes and Rachel walks around the desks of the Offices where the staffers are sitting with their coffee or their Styrofoam cups of bourbon mixed with coca cola to steel the nerves. Each draws his or her straw and then heaves a massive sigh of relief. Their straws are compared to the long one Rachel has drawn as the first of chance.

Finally, inevitably, always according to Tradition, the hat comes round to Denby, who sits, dejected with his broken leg up on an upturned trashcan.

"Draw," says the Editor.

Denby sighs. Draws, as per Tradition 19 times now, once per year, the shortest straw.

"Why always me?" Denby says.

"Because," says the Editor. "We love you."

The others all gather around him, clap him on the back with congratulations for such a fine honor, and walk away, each to each, muttering, "Poor sap! Glad it was not me!"

"What about this broken leg," Denby said. "You expect me to hobble into the Infernal over a sand hill on a cane or with a walker?'

"Well, we could use a wheelchair and another drawing for someone to shove you along . . . ", the Editor said.

"O no, no, no!" Jose said. "I did that once before. This guy can gallop on a cane -- I seen him!" And with that Jose bolted from the offices out the front door.

"Well that is that," the Editor said. "I guess you will just have to bear up and keep the martial spirit. Keep America Great by sacrificing for the More Important, just like Donald Trump wishes us to do."

Denby emitted an expletive best omitted here.

The offices emptied of people, leaving Styrofoam cups and flickering monitors behind.

The Editor rested his hand on Denby's shoulder. "Bear up man. I will be here when you return." And the Editor retired to his glass cube.

Denby took his cane arose heavily and stumped to the back where the porch looked out into the darkness where the massive boxelder draped its branches over the yard. Stars now appeared which had been hidden for days because of the fire smoke from up north.

"Penny," he said. "What am I to do now? Most of my friends are gone and my best friend is approaching your door even now. I nearly entered the Portal myself a few weeks ago and the times are troubled."

But Penny, who remained on the Other Side, stayed silent as she awaited the 19th coming of Denby in a few days, days that meant nothing to someone now facing eternity.

On the street on the other side of the House, the raucous noise of an Angry Elf convertible drove past, disturbing the neighborhood. Then all was still and calm. And a peace descended upon that Island for one night and no sirens rent the night air and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, 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 a mysterious unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 15, 2017

SPIDERWEB

Things have been busy around the Island-life offices recently what with people returning from the Annual Sabbatical in stitches, bandages and leg immobilizers and the brough-haha going on in Sonoma with fire and people losing their homes, we neglect the traditions of the Seasons. Here is a front yard mockup of sanctified terror for the Season.

THIS ONE GOES OUT TO THE ONE I LOVE

Island-Life staffers work hand in hand with Marin and Sonoma Fire and Police departments. During the recent firestorm Lifer staff went to Calistoga to extract backups and servers during the evacuation there to preserve city data and services.

Sequoia Equities is making it easier for people who have been displaced to find an apartment.

Apartments available to fire victims in need.
PLEASE SHARE: If you know someone who has been displaced because of the fires, please get in touch with me. Sequoia Equities has apartments in Petaluma, Vacaville, Benicia and Martinez available immediately for people in need.
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WHAT'S GOING ON

Well, most outdoor events have been cancelled due to fire danger or air quality issues. Various fundraisers are being held in lieu of scheduled events. Down around the Island small groups banded together to try to arrange delivery of care packages to beleagured Sonoma and Santa Rosa.

Meanwhile various people are concerned about the planned revamping of Island access in the wings. And others have their panties in a twist about "taking a knee" during the National Anthem. Well, it remains a small Island with small concerns sometimes.

THIS 9 POUND HAMMER

So anyway. Dismal reports filter in across the transome. Up north the sun hung like a blurry orange in a milk soup for days while a steady rain of sad ash fell over everything. Sport fishing season is done in the freshwater districts but crab season is upon us. Crab and oysters that love the cold water which comes ever later it seems in these times.

Pedro motors out in the early hours as usual, but the waves feel strange and at unease, his boat El Borracho Perdido, coursing along through the aqua-green swell, not unlike an iHarvester pounding across the fields and the furrowed ruts, each pilot ensconced in a dim cabin.

The eternal revolve of the seasons continues although disaster ropes some of us into its insatiable maw of pain. Another season may pass and no one will know what you went through, what you lost. That hillside where your house once stood is now drenched with rain others call blessed.

On the slopes, the small shoots of green emerge. Life returns to the barren land. All is new, but your memories remain. This bush. That cornerstone. The place where the chair once stood. This photograph dusted to ashes and left only in memory.

You reach for a wrench and the wrench is not there -- all the toolbox is gone. You might go out and get another one, but the truth is, resources are tight and that replacement has to be put on hold.

In town the oaks along Central have all gone brown and are dropping. Up in the North Counties, the trees are finally going through a delayed autumn because the temperature has been artificially high everywhere. In San Anselmo, the alleys are only now starting to turn to the Fall colors, weeks late.

On the Island, the Angry Elf Gang plans its next escapade of violence and mayhem. The time was approaching for such things and they were eager to cause pain.

Mrs. Almeida walked out and observed the striated colors of the sunset. Soon the time when the veil between the worlds would become very thing was approaching and the energy of the spheres was not good. It did not forcast well what would happen this time. But the daily routines and the seasons must continue and Mrs. Almeide spread the feed among the chickens in their coop.

And all the while the Iranian spy submarine observed all these things from its position in the estuary.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, 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 a mysterious unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 8, 2017

ALL THE LEAVES WERE FALLING

This week we present a collage designed by long time Island-lifer Carol, who is a talented artist living in the Gold Coast section of town. She calls it "autumn colors".

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Due to recovery from serious injuries we did not get out and about for the past few weeks. HSBF replayed on the newly renamed Hellman Meadows with the usual suspects of Steve Earle, Gillian welch and T. Bone Burnett showing up and the odd Alternative\punk representation appearing here and there to keep things alive. Very much alive, Hot Tuna Electric graduated to the main banjo stage, so we are glad that Jorma and Company is now seen as people of some musical significance after many years.

As usual Fleet Week took place about the same time, adding to the general congestion in Babylon as well as the ambient noise level with airplanes and other war machines screaming around all over the place.

Heard a piece of the new Primus album, which genuinely is an album in that the boys are releasing a vinyl version of their latest impenetrable opus about gnomes that drink the colors of the rainbow. Les Claypool, who is the local Native Son responsible for Primus and its bass-inflected assault upon Poodle-Rock oughta be performing in support of this new release. We see that Victor Wooten, no stranger to the bass instrument himself will be playing Yoshi's.
We cannot attend but hope many of you get over to the warmer side of the Bay and Yoshi's East.

With themes that feel powerfully familiar, Clint Imboden's solo exhibition "Broken" opened at Autobody upstairs on Park Street near the bridge this weekend.

The "Dias de los Muertos" kick off at the Peralta Hacienda in Oaktown with a kid-friendly event midweek. Look for other events leading up to the big shindig on International Blvd.

WHAT'S GOING ON - SPECIAL HALT THE PRESSES

Around 11pm and extending to 5 pm people up in the North Counties of Sonoma and Napa awoke variously to the smell of smoke and sometimes the loud alerts of neighbors revving loud motorcycles in an effort to wake people up.

Over the next several hours evacuation orders went out in Santa Rosa, Napa, and the City of Sonoma as enormous wildfires raged out of control, wiping out entire house blocks in minutes with some people escaping with scant seconds to spare.

NorCal is on fire and people are scrambling to locate loved ones by phone at a distance even as phone lines drop all over the place.

According to Cal Fire officials a combination of fires across eight counties has burned over 65,000 acres of land, destroyed over 1,500 structures, and is threatening countless others.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for fires, directing critical resources to help residents and firefighters.

At least 10 people have died and many more injured. Local hospitals are overwhelmed as some hospitals have been entirely destroyed, forcing patients and staff to flee.

We at Island-Life have people with homes in Santa Rosa and amid the frantic flurry of phone calls located people traveling out of state but failed since 6:30 A.M. to locate evacuees from the path of the firestorm.

Regions including Novato on south to San Rafael are experiencing a steady rain of burnt ash and the skies, forecast for sunny and clear, have been overcast with a dense pall of smoke. Highways 101, 29, 29, 121 and 37 are among those entirely closed in the area. Work colleagues rushed to rescue belongings as areas of Santa Rosa and even Blackpoint began to experience smoke and flames for fires that as of this time have 0 containment due to high winds that were forecast to die down only this evening.

An armada of police cars was witnessed heading north out of Oaktown this morning to support the front lines of firefighters.

Our thoughts and prayers are insufficient. We can only hope the best for the survivors of this thing.

KILLING THE BLUES

So anyway. The mornings begin in darkness. The days advance with muted light slanting through the increasingly bare tree branches and openings between buildings. People say the light of summer is soft but it is not. The light of summer is newly in these days sharp and hard with nasty triple-digit numbers. The light of Autumn is that of mild rays suffused with vermilion and gold and rust. Everyone is getting ready for what comes next in the form of white-cold blasts and chill.

Meanwhile this is the Season of Changes. Tiny monsters breed in the shadows of doorways, spiders cross the walls, the veil between the worlds gets thinner and murmurs start to bleed through the walls.

Angry whispers emerge from the old Strife house. Once again those strident voices emerge to contend under the veiled moon about long ago slights and insults. Vermin emerge from the woodwork; spiders, millipedes, scorpions. For some reason the place seems thronged with moths, even though you have sprayed and laid out cedar blocks. People lay out macabre displays of bloody hands and howling heads, but those people never served in Southeast Asia. A recent documentary series on the Vietnam conflict spooled out over a couple weeks and ghosts begin to walk again.

It is the first week of October and the Editor is calling for the annual Drawing of Straws, the fearsome and feared lottery that chooses which poor living soul must descend to that bourne from which no man is allowed to return -- unscathed, save for scathed Orpheus and our Elector of the Dead.

Also on the Calendar is the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot and BBQ, an event anticipated and dreaded by many. Anticipated by vigorous, red-blooded, outdoorsy, American boys and girls and feared by wimpy Poodle-walkers scared of mayhem, destruction and physical damage to their beloved, cherished, doted-upon Fifis. Wherever misplaced sentiment is larded upon inappropriate objects of devotion, there we go. We go and destroy it, destroy it with zest and innocent delight.

In other news, the Island High Stingrays garnered some unexpected press when the entire team took a knee during the playing of the school fight song before a game with the West End Jets. Turned out that Brawnie Blokh bent to tie his shoelace, which was misunderstood by other members of his team who all knelt as their astounded coach and audience looked on from bleachers of Wally Mickelstein Stadium.

The 'Rays would have forfeited the game as the incensed Coach Wiekbladder benched the entire first string, but the Jets, deciding they, too, had a right to protest something all knelt during the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Mrs. Semiquaver, the Cappelmeister, had decided the national anthem had become too controversial.

"I think this disrespect to the flag and the military is over the top. The kids are acting like Marin hot-tubber hippies!" Mr. Blather said.

"What does the military have to do with it? They don't own the flag or the song!" shouted Mr. Larch, who was there with Pandora Thighripple to watch her son play ball. "It is the People who own the Flag!"

"I am gonna really mess up your hair!" shouted Mr. Blather. "The flag belongs to us loyal Conservatives and everybody knows Conservatives are pro-military you commie pinko!

"You have no idea what a communist is," said Pandora, who had actually visited Cuba with Michael Moore. "You never ever met one you ignorant twot!"

That is when Mr. Blather punched Mr. Larch, shouting "Preserve the martial spirit!"

Pandora grabbed Mrs. Blather and threw her down three rows of seats in the bleachers and Mr. Cribbage punched a surprised Mr. Souvlaki who was waving a small Catalan flag.

All the adult parents started throwing cups and hot dogs. Pretty soon the whole affair descended into a melee and there was fists and bottles thrown right and left as the melee descended into a mess of atavistic savagery as the howl of the police sirens approached.

Officers Popinjay and O'Madhauen responded with typical restraint: they tased and wacked with batons everybody they did not pepper spray, including both teams who were just standing their watching their parents, and then Officer Millicent let loose the attack dogs.

Much later, Luther had the opportunity to speak with Officer Millicent in the Old Same Place Bar. "How come you hate us so much?" Luther asked.

"We hate everybody pretty much," Officer Millicent said. "We just happen to be in your neighborhood a lot."

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, 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 a mysterious unknown future.

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

 

OCTOBER 1, 2017

SPIDERS FROM MARS

This week's terrifying photo comes from Jessie in Babylon where she captured this beast descending from above to devour what looks like the new Salesforcewest building.

Seems appropriate for this month-long season of parties and fantasy that make October one of the of the most delightful times in the Bay Area, culminating in that sexy orgy of candy and hookers and masquerades called in some places Halloween.

O the horror the horror.

O SAY CAN YOU SEE BY THE DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT

The Island hosted a few events this past week in recognition of what is taking place on the national stage. All across the country and in every chat room on social media, people have been buzzing with either outrage or support or outraged support following former 49 quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the traditional performance of the national anthem prior to football games.

In the interests of accuracy, Colin's particular decision to kneel was conditioned after several meetings with former Green Beret veteran Nate Boyer. Originally, Kaepernick had decided to sit out the anthem, but after talking with the Army Vet, he and Boyer worked out a respectful compromise that still acted as protest.

At Encinal, home of the Jets ("When you are a Jet, you're a Jet all the way . . .") students gathered for a rendition of the National Anthem in which all students took a knee to honor their support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Island has experienced a flurry of minor racist activity that included vandalization of Temple Beth Israel and someone hanging a noose in front of a school, however the general public response has been one of unity and support for diversity. Not to say we do not have a few intolerant scalawags that have protested our Sanctuary City status with disinformation and fear-mongering, but the majority of Islanders appear on the right side of history going forward.

Things for East Bay students got pretty rocky this past week as concern about an unsubstantiated thread of a planning shooting put Island authorities on high alert, followed by a complete lock-down due to a bomb threat. Similar events happened up in Marin in Larkspur which raises questions about how school officials are supposed to respond in this time of new realities when the cause may be some wag just wants to get a day off playing hookey at everybody else's expense. Children and staff at Lincoln Elementary School in Newark were frightened Wednesday when the school went on lockdown because of an intruder on campus. Two staff members suffered minor injuries in a fight with the suspect. The intruder was determined to have significant mental stability issues.

Things fared worse on the Nimitz as CHP shut down the freeway going in both directions near the Maze during a pursuit of a homicide suspect. During the pursuit, nail strips were thrown down to disable the car. The suspect elected to try to shoot it out and was killed by CHP. Police shut down the freeway at 9:06 a.m. at the Powell Street exit following a high-speed chase.

Officers negotiated with the suspect for an extended period of time until officers received gun fire from the suspect,” the Fairfield, Richmond and Emeryville Police Department later said in a joint statement. “Officers on scene returned fire and the suspect was struck during the exchange.”

The freeway was at a complete standstill and traffic was backed up for miles.

CHP reopened the freeway at 5 p.m, September 27.

To add to further roadway havoc, a tractor-trailor jackknifed and caused traffic misery for hours the following day.

TROUBLE IN MIND

So anyway Martini found a French Horn at a garage sale and he brought it back to the Household even though it had no mouthpiece. Friday everyone was in the main room and Martini brought in his horn with a mouthpiece he had made of wood.

"Martini," Suan said. "You have been good all week; don't blow it."

"BLAAAAAT!" Martini went.

"O for Pete's sake," Suan said.

"Next year in Jerusalem," Martini said. "Happy new year!"

"Martini," Marlene said. "It is not the New Year - it is the day of Remembrance. And besides, you are Catholic, not Jewish."

"Ah well, same diff," Martini said. "Catholics are just Jews with a layer of brocade and the Pope. And I remember all kinds of crap. BLAAAAAHHT!"

"For Pete's sake, what are you doing with that horn? Put it away," Marlene said.

"This be my Chauffeur."

"Chauffeur," Marlene said flatly

"Yeah. Ram's horn. Announcing my penitence and shit," Martini said.

"Martini, you are Catholic and you are drunk -- which are two problems in themselves. Give me that horn NOW!"

"Promise you forgive me," Martini said.

"I forgive you for being an idiot. But first give me the horn."

Also unclear on the concept was the Angry Elf who approached Denby as he stood on the street with his crutches waiting for the bus. The Angry Elf wanted forgiveness too.

"Wwwwhy," Denby asked reasonably, looking around for weapons.

"Cause you know people talk. An' I wanna feel comfortable."

"Comfortable," Denby said. "You want to feel comfortable."

"Yeah. It be the day of forgiveness and crap."

"Please go away and leave me alone," Denby said.

"But I want forgiveness," the Angry Elf said. It turned out that some of the Elf's connections had found out he had been hassling innocent people and he was getting flack about it. It was hurting business.

"Are you even aware of the crimes you committed," Denby said. The bus was taking its own sweet time.

The Angry Elf shrugged. "I aint proud about some of it, but you know business is business. Some deals you lose and that is just the way it is. So we can make a new deal, right?"

"I do not think you get the forgiveness thing," Denby said. "As a Jew you are a bad example. Eff off."

"You better not say that again," warned the Angry Elf just as the bus arrived.

"Eff off you lousy example," Denby said as he climbed aboard the bus.

"I am gonna make you sorry!" shouted the Angry Elf who stamped his feet.

The Angry Elf returned to his rooms at the top floor of the Asylum for Demented Managers and smashed glassware with a hammer in frustration before arranging for the punishment of a wayward "mule" who had siphoned off too much. Denby had moved out more than two years ago from the same building when the Elf had first threatened him.

In the Household of Marlene and Andre, Little Adam was watching the news on his laptop with Andre. Much of the news was about the devastation suffered by Puerto Rico, an island that had once been overrun by 1950's gangsters after Cuba fell to Fidel Castro.

In the public media Lin-Manuel Miranda -- the author of a popular stage production -- said to the President of the United States that he was "going straight to hell." Miranda added, "No long lines for you. Someone will say, 'Right this way, sir.' They'll clear a path."

In the face of all that the President commands in terms of power, Miranda is no more powerful than Denby facing a petty Mafioso who admires Meyer Lansky. But people who abuse the tools handed to them by the People so as to get the jobs done, people who abuse the trust placed in them, need to be told to their face what they are. More people, not fewer, need to kneel in protest against injustice and the white poisons that destroy our neighborhoods.

The hour got late and Little Adam was put to bed. Others retired to their niches and cots in the cottage while Andre looked out from the porch at the Bay and the distant lights of Babylon across the water. Soon the traditional celebrations of the Island would come to keep everybody busy, each looking to occupy him or herself with the illusion that all would be well.

Also looking out into the darkness at that moment, the Editor stood on the back porch of the Offices. Soon it would be time for the annual Dias de Los Muertos, and the annual Crossover to the Other Side by Denby. The old box elder tree hung its branches over the yard, still embedded with anchor chains, anchors, shovels, belaying pins. Still the Editor did all he did in fond hopes that somewhere out there beyond the curtains of darkness gleamed a like mind. He turned and returned to the small pool of light cast by the desk lamp.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown, keening across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the flat expanse of the former airfield that was now sanctuary for the Least Tern, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats that was now the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve, the construction zone of the old Cannery and its detritus-strewn loading dock, 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 a mysterious unknown future.

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

 

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017

THEY AINT KILLED ME YET, BUT THEY DOING THE BEST THEY CAN

This week's headline is of our reporter Denby posing with rescuers after being rescued from the mountain wilderness at 12,000 feet in the high Sierra. Denby is recuperating from surgery and is expected to be able to walk normally again by the turn of the year.

Brandon Hallam is the paramedic and Dan, the chopper pilot, took the picture.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

During our absence it looks like it was not a "slow news" week for a couple running. CHP nabbed a deer that decided to run on the Bay Bridge to Babylon, perhaps in an effort to escape high rents; poor deluded thing.

CHP acknowledged the event with an official social media post, "This morning a couple of our officers stopped a doe for toll evasion, on the Bay Bridge. She said she usually pays it, but today she was a buck short."

An Oakland grass fire prompted evacuations last week before it was brought under control.

A mountain lion has been repeatedly spotted in the Berkeley Hills, prompting officials to issue warnings to avoid the area during the sunup and sundown hours and to avoid going through the area alone. For defense, officials recommended carrying a stick.

A stick against a mountain lion? Just keep away from now and jog elsewhere.

Lauren Do commented with a notice of an Planning Board appointee making some eyebrow-raising comments that would have done both Marie Antoinette and Josef Stalin proud ("Papers, please", by Lauren Do, Blogging Bayport, September 20, 2017)

The PB official, appointed by Mayor Trish Spencer, is not identified by name by Ms. Do, but appears to be listed in the video transcript as Sandy Sullivan -- known to be a staunch pro-homeowner advocate to the nth degree. Sullivan, if that is her sitting with Council Members to left of center in the video, was querying an unidentified Housing Authority staffer about the makeup of residents in the Bayport project on Buena Vista near Webster.

Turns out most of the residents are seniors and disabled.

Sullivan expressed concern about parking and how it impacts " the neighborhood and the existing homeowners" and then goes on to ask, “Do you identify these cars with stickers?”

The answer from the staffer is, of course, yes so that residents are allowed to park on the project site which consists of private streets, because the City did not want to pay for maintenance of them. The Housing Authority staffer said "that naturally they don’t control the public streets because the public streets are the public streets".

The Planning Board member (Sullivan) then says, “Yes, but you control whether they use the public streets.”

We had to review that comment on the video three times to make sure we did not mishear such an outrageous statement.

Ms. Do commented, "A Planning Board member is suggesting that members of the public should not be able to use the public streets if they reside in Housing Authority units."

Leaving aside the observation that when is parking in a densely populated metropolitan area never an issue, we can see that the Spencer appointees to the Planning Board have caused public concern about biases going back to the fresh election of Spencer in 2014 when she eked out a narrow victory against incumbent Marie Gilmore.

"Allowing Spencer to continue stacking the Planning Board with appointments like her last two would be a terrible mistake that could set us back for many years. More appointees like Ronald Curtis and Sandy Sullivan, well established property owners whose comments and votes are often tantamount to an “I got mine” vision for Alameda, do not reflect the diversity of people and progressive views reflected in our Everybody Belongs Here ethos. Let’s make sure the vision set by our planning board is one the next generation can be proud of and afford to be a part of." (East Bay Times, Letters to the Editor, July 18, 2017, Brian McGuire)

And earlier in 2015 the Times Standard had this to say:

"And while the council ended up approving the appointments of David Mitchell and Sandy Sullivan on Sept. 1 (2015), Spencer's decision not to recommend Dania Alvarez for a seat drew stinging criticism. Alvarez had served on the Planning Board since 2013 and hoped to be reappointed.

Councilwoman Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft noted the nominations of Mitchell and Sullivan followed Spencer routinely sitting in on meetings of city boards and commissions.

"I have heard from a number of board and commission members that the mayor told them she attends these meetings to see how they vote and wants to appoint people who share her political position," Ashcraft said. "This concerns me."

It has "a chilling effect," she said, because board members will not act independently for fear of retaliation. Planning Board member Lorre Zuppan said the appointment process was turning into "a process of intimidation."

"It suppresses expression in all of the boards because you know if you speak out of line with the mayor, who is appointing the members, you won't be reappointed," Zuppan said. (Times Standard News, Alameda: Planning Board nominations draw fire, by Peter Hegarty, 09/09/15)

After the international farce laden with spoken-vomit language that emits from the mouth of the current U.S. President, perhaps we should no longer be surprised by public enunciation of insensitive insolence and blathering presumption that put phrases like "nattering nabobs of negativism" into the realm of quaint anachronisms of history.

WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS

So anyway. Everybody stumbled back from this year's Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical in a foul mood. The thing had turned out to be a total fiasco, what with the Veggie Burgers undercooked, the mosquitos more pestiferous than a swarm of telemarketers, Festus getting lost on the glacier due to snow blindness, and all the injuries from falling down cliffs and breaking bones.

Everybody sat around in wheelchairs in a whirl of gauze and little icewater machines pumping gelid fluid around damaged limbs. As for Festus, there is nothing more pathetic than a puffy-eyed hamster who has to wear sunglasses indoors like some rodent narcotrafficante. Sure was a hell of a vacation that never happened.

"I told you never employ a used climbing rope somebody has stepped on,"Pahrump shouted.

"I didn't step on it," Javier said from his headball of swaddling gauze. "Jose did."

"Just blame me for everything," Jose said. "I didn't set the chuck up in the crack or make it 'walk'."

"Well who set the chuck and who used the rope?" Rachel asked.

"It wash Javier boundink off the face duringk his rappel, pretending to be a Green Beret," sniffled Beatrice. She had plunged into Darwin Canyon Lake #2 and had crawled shivering out onto the snowbank. "Thag yew very buhtch! AAAAH-CHEWWWWW!"

There was lots of acrimony and finger pointing all around and nobody knew how it happened exactly but they all remembered looking up to see the snaking curl of the rope flailing in the high gray sky where storm clouds boiled just above the notch through which all of them had just passed. Blame or whatever, down the mountainside they all went to splatter among the boulders.

"Aieeeeya!" Javier said with an echoing voice; he had landed upside down with his head stuffed into a hole between three boulders the size of Caddilacs. "Estoy destruido!"

"Could be worse," Jose said as he lay there wedged among the granite blocks. "Could be raining."

That is when the heavens opened up at 12,000 feet with an ice cold downpour.

After Beatrice set off the SARSAT beacon, the helicopters kept busy ferrying people off of the mountainside all day to a line of waiting ambulances that took them all to Mammoth Lakes Trauma Unit.

"It says here on the manifest that one of you weighs only 12 ounces," said paramedic Brandon Hallam to Pahrump. "That has to be some kind of mistake."

"No, that has to be Festus," Pahrump said.

They found Festus in an ice crevasse by the sound of his high, reedy voice. He was singing to himself.

Oh no not I, I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live
And I've got all my love to give
And I'll survive
I will survive
Hey, hey . . . .

"O for Pete's sake," Brandon said. "Climb aboard the basket. You are so off-key I should leave you."

The Editor stumped in to the Offices on crutches and ordered everyone to get back to work, which they all did, grumbling.

One good thing -- everyone skipped out on the recent heat wave that slammed the Bay Area on Labor Day weekend.

The light faded into a golden-hue saturated landscape. School had been in session for a few weeks now and the school busses are all still painted that same hue of noticeable yellow they have enjoyed for decades. Mrs. Sanchez looked up after leaving the school where she had taught English literature for the past twenty years and noticed that all the buckeyes had already gone sere and withered, while the overarching oaks that sheltered Central Avenue had shifted to browns and goldens. The days fluctuated between breezy 70's and sudden 80's while the nights had settled to high 50's. Soon time to bring down the duvet, put away the short sleeves.

Bearing her load of essays on Emily Dickenson, Mrs. Sanchez, nee Morales, looked up and down Central where nothing appeared to move other than Mr. Peepers, who scampered across the road high above on a wire that ran from one telephone pole to another on the opposite corner.

In the middle of the street, Mrs. Sanchez paused, eyeing a suspiciously slippery looking patch of leaves. "I shall not be tricked by you this time," she said to herself, stepping cautiously to the left.

On second thought, perhaps she should get to the Post Office to check for a letter from Karen, her former pupil who now was entering graduate school in far-off Chicago. Karen had been one of those kids who had seemed destined to fall through the cracks and be forever lost, another troubled teen whose parents had divorced, propelling her into a round of rebellion and police pickups, self-cutting with razor blades and worse.

But Ms. Morales had not given up on her; she had seen the promise in the girl's native intelligence and had gone herself to the police station and signed the forms to take on responsibility when her father refused. Those had been difficult years, but now look. Graduated with honors from Seattle and now off to Chicago.

A red pickup truck came tearing around the corner to startle the woman who now was known as Mrs. Sanchez -- she had gone through some changes of her own over the past few years.

The truck, carrying members of the Angry Elf gang drove right at her and she threw her hands up in the air and jumped aside as the truck tore past with all the hard work essays ascending and descending like flakes in a snow globe and the distinctive sound of The Cackler fading away and the truck barreling down Center toward Park Street.

Bear, on his 1965 Panhead with his beloved Susan riding pillion came to a halt and the three of them collected as many of the essays as they could. When she got back to the house, Mr. Sanchez was still at work, so Mrs. Sanchez plotzed in the recliner with a rare glass of sherry to calm her nerves.

Eventually Mr. Sanchez came home and he held his wife in his arms as the last light faded outside the window.

"La Pandilla de Duende Enojada son güeyes," he said. "Bunch of Jerkoffs!"

Down by the Strand, the Household was enjoying the last few days of daytime warmth and sunshine with a game of touch football Frisbee with rules made up as they went along. This was made both interesting and complicated as both Johnny Cash and Bonkers insisted on grabbing the Frisbee as well to run away with it without regard to sides.

Finally Mancini grabbed the Frisbee in the failing light with the stars coming out and the fog rolling in and as he knelt in the sands of the Island, he placed it upon his head and with his arms spread out to either side belted out an old song:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From the California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and meeeeeeeeeee.

The fog rolled in then and all that Household went up into the cottage and there Marlene served out bread soup for the season of harvesting tomatoes was about done and soon the fava beans would be ready for sowing in the ironmongery garden.

Little Adam had finished his homework and was watching the beginning of the streamed version of the Burns/Novak documentary on Vietnam. Something there made Adam say, "Mom, how can people say they love America when they be so mean?"

Andre answered him as follows, "There's many ways to love a country. Some people love their country the way a child loves its mother, without thinking, unconditionally, but with a certain blindness as if to say, 'Mommy is is never wrong. Mommy is always right', even when they see otherwise. Other people love their country and see all its faults, but love it just the same like you would an alcoholic uncle who needs some help to get along. How can you not love a member of your own family? Other people love their country enough to step up and do something because, you see, you and me and all of us are the country, really -- America is not some removed object sitting out there like a glass bowl on a shelf, some kind of finished, set in bronze statue."

"I don't get it," Adam said.

"You will," Marlene said.

Adam turned to face the glow of the laptop screen. Outside the streets were hushed and all the gang members were indoors. There were no sirens and no screaming and peace ruled this corner of the world. On board the Iranian spy submarine that frequented the estuary, the First Mate puzzled over a paper the sub's robotic arm had found floating on the surface water.

"I thought I heard a fly buzz?" queried the First Mate. "What is this Emily Dickenson she is so important? Is she a official or a commander?"

"I doubt that very much," said the Captain who clapped up the handles of the periscope. "Let us dive." And so they did. And the El Chadoor ran out through the Bay and under the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep.

It was a quiet night on the Island and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

"Next year," Javier said to Jose. "We take vacation in Vegas."

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 27, 2017

LIKE A BIRD ON A WIRE

This week's headline image comes from the Summer Dam on the Russian River where a heron fellow keeps a sharp eye on anything swimming downstream.

 

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Looks like a great Fall season is shaping up for the Fox and North Bay. We see Susan Tedeschi teaming up with Derek Trucks at the renovated Fox preceded by Jason Isbell , formerly of the Drive By Truckers. Warren Haynes will be putting his Gov't Mule in harness there. The booking agent for the Fox continues to overwhelm the lineup for both the Fillmore and the Warfield, although the Fillmore will be hosting Dave Bromberg and his scraggly blues group, which is always something worth standing for. A number of old timers are coming out of the woodwork to cover places in Napa and North Bay during this chaotic time of political turmoil.

On the Island, the political atmosphere continues to boil with the BigProp folks trying to force through a fake resolution that effectively bans no-fault evictions and exhaults the prerogatives of absentee landlords.

The bicycle coalitions battle the traffic people from day to day. BigProp continues to levy for variances in height restrictions and density limits, longing to turn parts of the Island into simulacrums of Harlem, NY where the river has not been seen in decades.

THIS ISLAND-LIFE

There will be no next week as the Offices will be closed for the annual Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical. Should sufficient Island-Life staff survive with sufficient bodily functions intact, we will again resume activities and reporting in mid September. Expect a two week hiatus for a long delayed vacation.

In addition, the Internet service for the offices is down through the weekend, so we are struggling to regain functionality at this point and so the issue may be delayed.

WHEN THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER

So anyway. The major heavenly Event shifted forward on creaky wheels making everybody scurry about with special glasses and homemade cardboard viewers and whatnot. The shadow of the moon drifted in a stately fashion across the sun and the view was all occluded by the seasonal fog. Folks stepped outside from their office cubicles into a gray half-light that was no more dismal than usual. The light faded somewhat and overhead the leaden sky-cover darkened a bit, then got a bit lighter again.

Mr. Howitzer stepped out onto his verandah with a bloody Mary whipped up by Dodd, looked around with disdain, went "Harumph!" and then went back inside to pester the Help about cleaning the jalousie.

Tipitina looked out the glassed side of the Embarcadero One and went up in the elevator with coworkers to the roof, where the clouds briefly parted up high to reveal what was happening. People took pictures with their cell phones while the team from floor 29 pointed binoculars at a sheet of paper on the ground so as to avoid burning out their eyes. A few others wore the special drugstore sunglasses and stood around looking like members of Devo.

The shadow sort of edged partly across the sun, leaving a good quarter visible intermittently through the high fog, and then it edged away again and they all went down to their cubicles to return to work.

Beneath the hedges of the College Senor Don Guadalupe Fernando Gustav Erizo peered up at the heavy sky and then returned to his burrow to continue about his basic hedgehog business as usual.

Probably the only two individuals who had a clear view of the eclipse were Pedro and Ferryboat as they returned from the fishing grounds out at sea. The boat, El Borracho Perdido, thrummed along the furrows of the waves after the sun had done what it does. As Pedro entered the back end of the big fog bank that moves from sea to shore and back again on a daily basis, the sky grew dark and the petrels and gulls began landing on the water surface to tuck in for what they thought to be night and so the sky emptied of bird calls. Surface feeding fish descended to take shelter in the kelp beds and reefs below, but a school of sturgeon swam about in confusion near the surface. . The sea took on a deeper aquamarine and turned ebony as the light vanished. Then the boat entered the fog bank where all was muffled and yet resonant with splash and clank of ship's equipment as it was in the early pre-dawn when Pedro set out. Ferryboat stayed quiet in the wheelhouse as the lights from the navigation equipment and radio and Pedro missed his old radio friend, the Lutheran minister who had guided his ship as sure as the stars for the past thirty years.

Pedro had heard the old guy was making nationwide tours, bringing a sort of Lutheran version of a variety show to different cities but it did not look like the man would be coming to sinful Babylon any time too soon. He would have liked to have met the man and talked about fishing, but the Lutheran was retired and Pedro was getting on in years himself and probably the two would have had little to talk about as Pedro still retained a small-town approach to things with his children all raised on the little Island and going to the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint and still married to Mrs. Almeida, the same gal he had met forty-five years ago in Sausalito and so little to add to the knowledge of a world traveler and dignitary of American belles lettres. Mostly, like all quiet men, Pedro liked to listen, for once you open your mouth, the ears seem to forbid admittance, a lesson sometimes harshly learned.

Under leaden skies that had barely lightened after the eclipse Pedro steamed in under the Golden Gate to the docks with the belly of his boat laden with the late summer harvest, bluefin and yellowtail, with several 300 pounders and many destined for the fine sushi establishments in Babylon, the East Bay, and Marin.

On the docks, he spied members of the Angry Elf gang, ranging about and looking for things to steal or damage. Pedro laid his Mossberg 540 on the transom and guided his boat into the mooring slot and the Angry Elf gang stared with angry, shifty, deceitful eyes, scratching meth-induced acne. From their midst he heard the distinctive sound of the one called "the Cackler."

Blue night descended through the shrouded trees and rooftops of the Island as Rolph and Suan returned from yet another excursion in search of better lodgings than the crowded household of Marlene and Andre where 15 souls had sought shelter from the Storm. It seemed the real estate disease that had spread throughout the Bay Area and wrecked and ruined many old neighborhoods all through the Five Counties area and there was little help to be found anywhere. The land-greed and the voracious appetite of the absentee landlords had destroyed one monument after another, broke apart neighborhoods and evicted countless businesses.

Because of the money trap the Hospital had closed its neonatal unit and its gynecology during its desperate effort to remain afloat and independent, so it was no longer possible to be born on the Island. There soon would no longer be native born Islanders.

All due to this land fever, scourging the land and decimating the honest people.

In quiet voices Rolf and Suan and Andre and Marlene, who acted as the responsible adults of the Household, discussed the future. They knew that it was only a matter of time before Howitzer, who owned the building, tossed all of them out onto the street and because of the laws -- or lack thereof -- he needed no express reason to do so. And the denizens of that bad abode were all people damaged by Life's vicissitudes, people who had walked with Tiresias among the lowest of the low. These people were beyond asking for handouts; they asked only for survival.

Denby sat out on the steps of the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor 33&1/3 with Jose and Javier and Snuffles the Bum and Little Andre was there with his school project made of fragile balsam wood, turning the model here and there, and Jose wondered how it all would end.

"It will all end badly," Denby said, ever the optimist. "We will grow old and fall apart and die wretchedly ignominious and in much pain."

"It will end in fire and rain and great destruction," Pahrump said. "Everything we know will be taken away; they can do this at any time."

In the distance sirens announced the termination of yet another tragedy over in Oaktown. The pop-pop of gunfire announced another episode somewhere else.

"Dey smash yo teef in wit a brick and dat is dat," Snuffles said, who knew what he was talking about.

The group stared out over the drooping shore and the stretch of water out to Babylon with its glow. The radio inside the house chattered news about the latest vitriolic exchange between the Baby President and the North Korean Despot, each threatening fire and total annihilation.

"Maybe it's just we make something beautiful that gets remembered no matter how bad it is. It will always be something bad, fo' shizzle. Maybe we need to make something beautiful somehow," Little Andre said. "Cause that is what gets remembered."

"I think you are right," Denby said. "It is what is remembered that is important." He picked up his guitar and started to play "Walk Me Out in the Morning Dew."

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 20, 2017

HARVEST HOME

It is getting around to that time when the stalks bulge with all that Spring and Summer had promised with their hot sunny days. This week we present a sampling of this year's subsistence garden produce, featuring delicata squash, orange crookneck squash, Kentucky beans, the usual tomatoes, cilantro to stand in for all the herbs we have and more that would not fit on the table.

Greg Brown has a song that went "You can taste a little of the summer, My grandma's put it all in jars". And that is how it starts, those stored up memories. Canned and jarred. Canned and jarred. Over and over, for decades and and lifetimes and centuries. The memories.

THERE IS NO DARK SIDE OF THE MOON

So anyway. As all of America prepares for an eclipse, vast machinery creaks into motion and celestial bodies procede along their age-old orbits. What is it to the moon that now and then its shadow occludes sunlight for a time on earth? The moon does not care and the sun certainly does not, but a great number of humans get excited every time this event takes place. It's a caution as an old friend used to say.

Pedro, standing in the wheelhouse of El Borracho Perdido set out to work long before any sort of solar event and his wheelhouse was like the cabin of any Iharvester throbbing along the ridges of plowed earth in the heartland far from the coasts. Like any farmer Pedro awoke well before the dawn and set out on his day by the light of stars and moon. And in his cabin he felt the plunge and dip and shudder of the machine under his control as he ploughed his fields, wind rippling the waves like wind layering the crops and his solitude was the same solitude of the Norwegian bachelor as he rode his iHarvester from one end of the field to the other until the work was done.

Back home he was gifted on his birthday with the grand gift of an oar, which happened to be the shipsmate of the oar that hung in the Editor's office although neither principal knew the fact. And so it was that Pedro hung that oar above the mantel and there it was, a sign for all to see. This was a mariner's house. And Pedro resolved that when it came time, he would take that oar and place it over his shoulder and walk until he came to such a place that no one knew what it was and there he would plant it into the earth.

Meanwhile the Angry Elf gang had found a house on Otis not far from Marlene and Andre's Household, which had large understory storage and there the gang began stocking many incendiary supplies, for as we know, fire is the Devil's only friend.

The Summer Solstice had passed and it was already past the middle of the year. The moon's shadow would soon eclipse the sun and nothing to be done about it. Foolish men controlled the Country, yet no one could do anything.

At Temple Beth Israel, Rebbi Mendelnusse swept up broken glass, sadly shaking his head. The windows to the children's room which had been shattered by someone tossing several rocks had been boarded up. "We revisit bad times," he said to Luther who had stopped by, offering to help. "Nie vergessen. Nie vergessen."

Night fell and the fogs rolling in announced the change of seasons. Midsummer had long passed and all the poppies withered. The last remaining gladiolas drooped heavily from their perches and the parents had all the backpacks and lunches squared away for the coming week. Little Adam lay in his cot and looked out at the shrouded sky of a changing America, wondering what the first day of school would be like. Andre, his foster father also looked out the same window and wondered what the coming lifetime would bring for Adam and kids like him. North Korea resurrecting that old specter of nuclear holocaust. Russia again bellicose. Shattered glass of the synogogue on the ground. Demigogues shouting from pulpits. Of course he wondered, like many other parents in this unruly land that once had been renowned for things like Freedom and Justice.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 13, 2017

ALL UNDER THE BURNING SKY THERE WE WILL LIE

That singer probably had no idea that after the last episode of nuclear anxiety we would once again revisit that terrible premonition of nuclear holocaust. The Doomsday Clock has advanced 2.5 minutes in recent weeks.

Created by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 1947 to convey the urgent threat nuclear weapons pose -- other threats such as climate change are now also taken into account -- the clock represents how close humankind is to destroying our world. The stroke of midnight is the end of humanity.

Last year, the clock remained at 3 minutes. Today, it moves half a minute closer -- the closest to midnight it’s been since 1953.

The Bulletin cited two troubling concerns in their decision: the growing disregard for scientific expertise and the “cavalier and reckless language” used around the globe, particularly during the U.S. presidential election.

This week we capture a mimosa branch, a symbol of how ephemeral Life can be, and yet so beautiful in the present moment.

EVERYBODY KNOWS

So anyway we are dispensing with the fluff. Everybody knows what's going on. Everybody knows the good guys lost. ARC held a rally this past weekend, so there is a sign of life in the Vox Popli yet.

The Sea has seasons, just like the Land. Now cherries are all out and apples that can be found are those reserved in barrels to tide us over until Fall returns. Now is the time of late ripening fruit that needs the hot sun to speed things along. Right about now the gardens are swelling with red tomatoes. The plums are all gone - devoured by voracious crows, and families have been seen gathering the first of the late summer blackberries, children and parents wandering with little plastic containers along the roadsides and little bridges where the brambles grow wild.

Mrs. Almeida stands in the back area with the chicken pens and the vines growing wild and feels the energy surging through the green fuse that drives the flower that drives this green age. The yellow flutes of the squash plants bellow as the purple bean flowers trill and Mrs. Almeida sings a song of summer in Portuguese as she wanders up and down the mounded beds erupting with fecund vegetation.

Pedro, pounding along the shiplanes to the fishing grounds observes the changing stars, the fogbank behaviors, the flashing shift of minnows and herring and mackerel during the time before crab. His ship, El Borracho Perdido, follows a true path as guided by Pedro and his trusty shipmate Ferryboat [Bark!].

He steps out of the wheelhouse and his hand passes along the scar left on the gunwale near the starboard stanchion where Tugboat, his former shipmate of many years, had died defending the Captain and the ship against the Great White hauled aboard by mistake.

A crackling in the air brought the St. Elmo's Fire and a freight of memories until the ocean was packed with a sea of ghosts, ships, men and dogs lost over the years.

Pedro returned to the wheelhouse to guide his boat over the furrowed sea with his plow and seines, another man farming the Big Sky Country in his little glass house, coursing to the endless horizon on a tractor amid waves of grain, bucking along with erratic intention, no different from any Norwegian farmer from up north gathering the harvest, bringing in the sheaves.

When he returns in the early hours, his wife was waiting for him and they went out into the field and there made sure as in times of old that the earth would remain fertile for the life that was possible in it. And upon the naked bodies on the soaked earth the moon shone with dispassionate light.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 6, 2017

OOH MY EYES

Spring has passed and we are into summer. Up in Marin these creatures are thronging the roads and yards, trying to get into vegetable gardens like possessed by demons. Satanic deer? You never know . . . .


THIS ISLAND LIFE

Saturday, Aug. 19, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Immanuel Lutheran Church will host a Community Volunteer Street Fair and 125th Birthday Celebration to recognize the many volunteer organizations who freely give their time to the community.

Each volunteer organization will be provided with a table where they will promote what their volunteer group does. The fair will also include the celebration of Immanuel Lutheran Church’s 125 years of worship in Alameda. Immanuel’s 1891 sanctuary will be open for tours.

The event is free to attend and will offer food, activities for children and live music by The Sun Kings. The street fair will be held on Lafayette Street between Central and Santa Clara avenues.

Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer and Library Director Jane Chisaki announce that Gene Kahane and Cathy Dana have been named Poets Laureate, the third and fourth poets in Alameda history to hold the title. The city’s first Poet Laureate was Mary Rudge, who served from 2002 to 2014. She was followed by Julia Park Tracey, who served from 2014 to 2017.

Gene Kahane has been teaching for more than 30 years, most of that time in Alameda at Haight Elementary, Wood Middle and Encinal High schools. He is also an actor, drama director and poet. He has written poetry to commemorate events, honored colleagues and students for their milestones in life and has encouraged people to find their voices and share their talents.

Cathy Dana is the president of Alameda Island Poets, and regularly leads two workshops at the Home of Truth. She facilitates “Storytelling Swap” at Frank Bette Center for the Arts. She also teaches creative writing at Alameda Community Learning Center, where she began the Mighty Pens teen poetry group, as well as the first poet laureate program. Her first published book of poetry, My Dad Believed in Love, was released in early 2016.

A loud explosion startled many West Enders on Monday afternoon. According to the Alameda Police Department (APD), about 2 p.m. dispatch received a report that the crew working on the Cross Alameda Trail at Jean Sweeney Open Space Park discovered an apparent explosive device.

APD evacuated the area and cordoned off a 150-foot perimeter around the suspicious device. The Alameda Fire Department also responded to the call. They reported the incident to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Explosive Ordinance Disposal Squad. Members of the squad determined that the device, an old mortar, could be live and detonated it where it lay.

Reviewing the Police Blotter we see that only six people were put on 5150 three day holds at the psychiatric facility of John George this past week. Got a couple of dog bites, a slew of thefts, one assault where someone tried to run somebody down with a car, and the usual euphemistic "sidewalk falls", which generally is doublespeak for robbery assault on a victim from behind wherein the victim is pushed to the ground.

Last week the police did not use their special policeboat at all. Please note: the IPD did not employ their special policeboat in any way. Nevertheless, the boat sits at the ready to be used by well-trained and well-funded personnel. Sgt. Moustaches keeps the vessel in tip-top shape and sparkeling clean should anyone decide to walk into the water and drown over an extended period of time.

CALLING THE MOON

So anyway. Everyone is breathing some relief after the end of the recent heat wave. The Island remained relatively cool, as did other foggy locations along the Bay, but just a mile inland saw the mercury busting out the tops of the thermometer tubes.

The President of the Bums in Sacto has been stirring up the muddy delta waters of politics in his inimitable blustering style. People had hoped he would clean up the act for all the bums in the Golden State by putting an end to loitering, sleeping in bus shelters, obnoxious panhandling, public defecation, and the usual bums' noisy rowdiness, but after 100 days it looks pretty clear that, if not business as usual, it will be business in a state of ineffectual chaos.

Rump campaigned on simple promised lies, which is pretty much what politicians always do, so don't get your panties in a twist. He promised to have the fen over there by the American River drained entirely, but just how a bum who had never done a lick's worth of work other than preside over a Motel that rented rooms by the hour would drain a swamp is anyone's guess. He also promised to build a wall completely encircling Sacto and this wall would keep out Daesh poodles, which we understand to be a dangerous breed of canine that is born ludicrously insane.

No one knows why poodles persist despite the best efforts to obliterate the species, but like the SUV Eradication Project, progress never seems to go anywhere, probably because there are crazy people who love poodles and foolish people who love SUVs so go figure. People do love their pets, often more than other human beings, and people who own pets are the champions of self-deception in the entire world. Same goes for people and cars even though the pernicious things kill more Americans each year than have all the armies of radical Islam combined. That is just the way it is and there is nothing anyone can ever do about it and Rump's plan to have the Wall paid for by dog license fees seems about as likely to lift off the ground as a concrete balloon.

This seems unlikely to be recalled by the Rumpers, people who enthusiastically endorse President Rump despite all common sense. Rump is always causing a new scandal to occupy the tabloids, whom he dearly loves for all their foibles.

Just the other day Rump fired chief advisor Scaramouche for mentioning that Rump's toupee was on backwards. Scaramouche was only trying to help, but nevermind.

"MOOCHY, YOU'RE FIRED!"

"But boss you only hired me ten minutes ago!"

"YOU GOT NOTHING TO SAY! YOU'RE A LOSER, MOOCHY! LOSER! GET OUTTA HERE LOSER!"

Which is a fine thing to say after the Bum Health Plan that promised a gallon of Tokay in every squat tanked big time.

This is not to say that Rump still does not harbor big plans. He still wants to replace medical clinics with Koban kiosks outfitted with beds and run by convicted prostitutes wearing cute nurses uniforms. People with real medical problems are supposed to have money -- this is America after all -- so they can just go to one of the remaining hospitals and pay for whatever with vouchers tied to income. The more a person makes, the bigger the voucher. The people with lower income will simply die away.

"TAKE THE LADIES OFF THE STREETS AND PUT THEM ON THEIR BACKS WHERE THEY BELONG!" Rump said, despite more than a little criticism. "I DON'T CARE WHAT THE NASTY MEDIA SAYS! THIS IS GOING TO BE BIGLY!"

One thing is for sure; Rump has been the greatest boon to comedians since Richard Nixon. Comedians just love the Rump. In fact most people know that a lot of clowns voted for the Rump in the general election. It was not the Russians that turned things around -- it was the three Stooges.

"GOD I LOOOOOVE THE PRESS!" Said Rump. "THEY ARE SO GULLIBLE AND STUPID! HEY GUYS!" Rump said, turning to his remaining advisors. "LETS GO POOP IN THE GOVERNOR'S POND SO THEY HAVE SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT AND FORGET THE ECONOMIC REPORT!"

And off went the Administration, doing the business in the People's reserve.

Closer to home, life on the Island continues as always or at least as we are accustomed to these new Realities. Marsha and Martini and Suan all had to work fore and aft of Independence day, which kiboshed long weekend ideas and resulted in the one day off being a day to get chores done, meaning that nobody had any vacation since Memorial Day and there would be the yawning gulf of workdays until Labor Day, which had snuggled up against the weekend to make it worth something at least.

Nevertheless Summer does have consequences. This was the day Martini was fated to fall in love against his will. Martini stumbled into the Slut Hut Javahouse on Park Street in search of something strong to remove the effects of the 99 cent jug wine he had enjoyed at the time with Pahrump and Snuffles on the Strand Friday evening.

"What'll ya have? Coffee, tea or me?" asked Slut Barista #2 tiredly.

"You always say that," Martini said.

"I have to," said the Barista #2, whose real name was Susan. "It's the Slut Hut script. Now waddyoo want?"

"I'll have the mocha java espresso latte Enormee," said Martini. "Skip the fig garnish and make it a double Grandee."

"Coming right up faster than a blowjob," Susan said.

While waiting for his beverage Martini looked around at the various clients, each immersed in some form of electronics save for a woman with bright red hair cut close to frame an angular face supporting the thickest hornrim spectacles Martini had ever seen. Her eyes looked enlarged behind the cokebottle lenses and she had a newspaper on the table in front of her.

"Whaddya lookin' at?"

Martini flinched. Her eyes were like two giant blue planets and her voice was reminiscent of #80 grit sandpaper.

"Uh, sorry. Just waiting for my drink."

"Yeah sure. Just waiting."

"And you are the only person in the room without a computer or iPhone of some sort."

"I HATE computers!" the woman said vehemently.

"Okay," said Martini. "You a librarian or something?"

"Christ on a bike, everybody assumes all this crap because I am a girl."

"Don't take offence; you just said you hate computers. So what do you do?"

"I work for an MSP called TechnoDweebs. I am an engineer."

"Ah, doesn't that involve computers a little bit? I mean you gotta be smart or something like that."

"Of course I am smart. Can't a girl be smart as a guy? I was a math major for chrissakes. I just get no relief in this sodding world."

"I can see you are smart, but why are you working with computers if you don't like them? Do they pay you well?"

"Of course not. I work for an MSP; they are all cheap as shit. The owners make the money and we get paid crapola; that is the system in America today. In addition I am a girl-person and that lowers the payrate automatically. So are you raking in the big bucks to pay your highfalutin mortgage?"

"No. I work as a sawboy in a factory. And I live in a squat with fifteen other losers like myself," Martini said honestly. "My name is Martini."

"Hey Sawboy, here's your Mocha Enormee. That'll be nine dollars."

"Christ in a kayak, you sprinkle gold dust on it or something," Martini said. He paid for his drink arduously with crumpled dollars pulled from his dirty cutoff jean pockets. He held his cup and stood by her table. "Mind if I sit here?"

"If you have to and there is nowhere else," said the redhaired girl with the glasses.

"Well dude," Martini said. "Sorry about your job and your feelings about it. It's not like being a sawboy is a career position."

"My name is Tandy. What is a sawboy?" asked the girl.

Martini explained about how the long alloy ingots arrived by truck and had to be cut by hand into blocks that got made into valves that in turn got inserted into robotic systems that made IC chips which found themselves soldered onto boards that became Tandy's hated computers.

"So you cut metal logs all day long?"

"Sometimes I am a dipper. I put on a PVC suit and dip baskets into hot sulphuric acid to clean off impurities from the cut alloy blocks."

They were silent for a while. Then Martini said, "We should do something together."

"I find you physically repulsive," Tandy said.

Martini did not pause a single heartbeat. "That is generally how long relationships end up."

Susan, the Barista #2, watched through the big windows as Lionel strode past clutching a bouquet of brillian gladiolas, a gift for his decades-long unrequited love Jackie at Jaqueline's Salon.

"There must be something in the air what with the upcoming solar eclipse and the moon," #2 said to Barista #6.

Tandy paused a long time, looking at Martini with cokebottle eyes. "You are right. It has always been like that. Let's go see a movie. And afterwards exchange bodily fluids."

"Ok," Martini said.

The two went out and Baristas #2 and #6 stared at them as they went. "It is the moon. Definitely it is the moon," Barista #6 said.

After a while the sun finished its slow descent beyond the Golden Gate, allowing the stars to emerge from the fog that advanced across the Bay. Soldiers in the Angry Elf gang ignited cars here and there on the Island as part of their terror campaign and the fires blazed in the dark night beneath the complacent moon looking down with equanimity.

Where the Snoffish Valley Road met the Shoreline Drive, a few hestitant deer appeared out of the belching mist, their eyes glowing wierdly in the half light. Something made a sound and the deer turned and bolted back into the darkness of that stygian mouth.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

July 30, 2017

HE'S JUST A DOG

Marin is a weird place, no question about that. Vying for center of oddity is Sonoma which features the town of Petaluma, a place made famous by Charles Schulz for its annual wrist wrestling championship as portrayed in Peanuts.

Ever eager to find a way to make Press, sort of a Trump-style self promotion energy before there ever was the Carrot-Topped One, Petaluma also holds the Annual Ugliest Dog in the World Contest. Pictured above is the 2017 winner named Martha, who certainly possesses a certain hideous charm.

Here was 2016's winning entry, Sweetpea.

You might say dogs feature large on the Island and so also in Island-Life. That is just the way it is on the Island. And Petaluma, another small California town that imagines it is really located somewhere in the Midwest.


WHAT'S THE BUZZ

It has been three or four times recently now that residents have been issued "Shelter in place" orders from the IPD and the latest happened last week when report of a possible shooter on Pearl Street caused a ruckus of concern.

Now we understand these times, rendered unstable by over 35 years of unbridled NeoCon"reform" and a number of international concerns developing, require some sharp attention. But four shelter in place orders in a few months? And each incident ending in "no shooter or weapon found" makes us wonder if someone may not be pushing someone's jolly buttons to get a rise without considering the consequences.

There never was an automotive or any sort of motor vehicle repair business the Council has liked. This has been a consistent pattern going back decades. We noticed the Council snarling upon businesses setting up out in the Point that featured reasonable autorepair, but the Council was hoping that the land there would be magically monetized for "better" uses.

Now we have Big O tires trying to expand their lucrative boutique tire change outfit. To cut through the smoke and fluff, Big O tires has operated an automotive service on the southeast end of Park Street for years. They have served the "Captive Market" segment by providing fast service to people willing to pay more for immediate, high end treatment because those people have no time to go scouting for the best deal in tires.

Big O is now newly owned by a conglomerate enterprise called Discount Tires Pro., which has arranged for a new location at 1835 Oak street.

It appears that Discount Tires wants to run two operations, one at 1290 Park Street to serve the high end market, and another at 1835 oak Street, to serve the rest of us hoi polloi. That is okay. What causes problems are the NIMBYs who, living cheek by jowl with a downtown, do not want traffic overflow into their neighborhoods due to business activity.

Of course there used to be auto repair places out at the Point, but the Council did not like those businesses getting a difficult to dislodge foothold when they were set to "monetize" the land.

Bunch of outdoor festivals went on this past weekend, including the annual Park Street Art and Wine shindig with its usual suspects of tchotchkes booths and commemorative glasses. Weather held to a moderate sunny to bring out the crowds.

STILL PLAYIN'

So anyway they held a birthday party for the Editor, although nobody knew how old he was and his birthdate was guestimated based on an old presskit somebody found in the files a while ago.

The Editor has always kept personal details close to the vest and most sane men in the Bay Area shuffle the birthday thing aside in favor of getting work done, but the Bay Area is nuts for birthdays, especially Islanders, as everyone is overworked, underpaid, and generally rendered powerless and there are far too few holidays to take off, so some folks lash onto birthdays like drowning sailors will grab onto any old sort of flotsam to prop themselves up above waterline. There is always someone in the Office who takes it upon themselves to get a card and stick it in a manila envelope with a checklist so that everyone can see who has signed the card and who has not.

This applies to everyone indiscriminately save for Jehovah's Witnesses, who abjure things like birthdays, which may be a very fine advantage to being a member of that august Assembly of Saints.

Some folks around here glom onto birthdays as a way to exercise power they otherwise do not have and so for a birthday they get to order everyone around with great zeal. This is especially valid for those birthdays that happen to belong to someone other than themselves.

So everyone got together and there was tossing of confetti and "Surprise!" when the Editor came in and Festus pulled the string that popped the cork that made a great noise and a tremendous confusion of flashbulbs and whatnot and a cake arrived without hardly any damage to it at all. And there was all sorts of happy jumping up and down and the Team gave the Editor the start of a boat builders kit, for none of them could afford any sort of boat as a gift, not even a kayak, so what the Editor got for his birthday gift was an oar with a ribbon on it.

"This here is the start of your boat," Festus said on behalf of the Team. "We don't have enough money to get you an entire boat, but . . . well, one could consider this a start. Y'know, start adding parts here and there."

"Well," said the Editor. "This is a find beginning for something that leads to god knows what. But it is a fine oar and well packaged and so I thank you. Now everyone get back to work right now!"

So all the underlings scampered and the Administrative Assistants took up their shackles and whips and memoranda and soon the Island-life agency was humming again and the oar went up on the wall above the Editor's desk.

While parts of the Bay Area continued to bake under a heat wave, the Island enjoyed moderate temps due to our prevailing ocean breezes.

Offshore the colorful parasails of wind surfers danced above the sparkling smooth water. Families gathered for bar-b-que parties.
Pimenta Strife dropped into the Lucky 13 to see if she could grab a pair of pants or pull a train this evening for it was High Summer and she felt sultry. Pimenta pretty much always felt sultry.

Minnie Peering walked back and forth on Regent Street in the late afternoon to see if she could look past the curtains of the Rochester house. The Rochesters had been holding parties at their place with all kinds of curious people, many of whom wore feathers and Minnie was certain there would be something to talk about at Jacqueline's Salon if she could just get a glimpse. Minnie's great love in life was to find information all about her neighbors and then talk about it. If there was nothing to talk about -- and goodness when was there ever a time when there was nothing about which to talk! -- then she made things happen. For Minnie all of life was made significant at the manicure tables of Jackie's.

Jackie herself, a veteran of many gossip wars, couldn't be bothered any more to pass on the juicy stuff. Not that she was not adverse to keeping her ears open. After all, the scuttlebutt could involve her business.

A disastrous international incident was averted beneath the surface of the Bay when the Iranian spy submarine was nearly sunk by the Eugenie Oneigin, the Russian spy submarine which came barreling along with all its electronics dark like some blind aquabear of a beast. The Captain of the El Chadoor began cussing at Captain Piotr Yevgeny for being such an incompetent unseaworthy skipper, proving a torrent of Russian expletives over the radio, which caused the eavesdropping Coast Guard much amusement, for they imagined they were hearing two excursion boat skippers duke it out.

"This is US Coast Guard. Is anyone in need of assistance?"

"Yes!" Shouted the Chadoor's captain. "This Boris or Ivan guy needs a brain with a fishing license!"

"Moego Ad' you Raskolniki!" Piotr shouted. "Go find an ocean for your tin can to swim in. We have water coming in now! Nyeta spassibo to you!"

"You go join your carrot-top toupee friend in White House!"

And so on.

Eventually the Chadoor's captain clapped up the periscope handles and ordered the ship to depart and so it was the Chadoor traveled back under the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep.

It is true that when people invite foreign powers to interfere, the field of spies can get crowded. Up on Grizzley Peak, Mr. Terse still waits for an opportunity to pop a cap in the head of the whistleblower named Joshua. Joshua alerted the press as to the clandestine bugging of the municipal council chambers chamberpots some years ago. Now that the Russians have gotten involved, Joshua has been spied through the windows of the Russian orthodox church miles from the Greek Orthodox church up there beside the Mormon Temple, which has gotten Mr. Terse to thinking about secret tunnels.

Of course there is a labyrinth of tunnels all linking the Mormon church and various sanctuaries, built long ago when the separation of Church and State meant something enough for people to get murderous about the Latter Day Saints. The Saints and others like Joshua have traversed these tunnels honeycombing Oaktown for hundreds of years without too much trouble other than the occasional encounter with the fearsome Taetzelwurm, a nasty Ripley Scott sort of slavering creature encountered fortunately only seldom in the pages of certain densely packed adventure-tale authors and beneath Oaktown's innocent streets.

For the Taetzelwurm, Joshua carries Wally's 50 cal pistol, which is just about enough to dispatch one of these critters, given sufficient warning, enough distance between, a steady hand while a thousand razor claws slash at you, and about five or six well-placed shots.

Life on the Island, seen by many has bucolic and peaceful, does carry along with it some moments of excitement. Most mothers ushering children at the playground here pack nothing less than a 1911 style .45 caliber pistol while demurely observing the Innocents idly swinging on the bars.

Ravenous poodles let loose by insane owners will roam in packs and these need to be dispatched or penned in for the next Thanksgiving BBQ event. And of course there are the members of the Angry Elf gang, wandering around in open top sportscars, causing mayhem and destruction as they go, clearing the way so that more realtors can come to build yet another gated community with high-priced homes and pricier rents.

As the sun sets on another bucolic day, the horizon flames horizontally in striations of gold, vermilion, and azure. Cool breezes ease the heat. The splendid crescent moon rises and the fogs advance in a solid front through the Golden Gate and over the hills. Stars appear overhead and Mr. Sanchez taking a walk with Ms. Morales and their child in a pram pause to comment on the cold pile of carbon that was a house at one time.

"Was that not the Cribbage mansion?" Ms. Morales asked.

"Yes." said Mr. Sanchez. "Something happened last fourth of July and it burned down."

"O dear! I hope no one was hurt."

"The Cribbages," Mr. Sanchez said, "Have never been very neighborly." He left much unsaid.

Soon, all was still along the Strand, save for Pahrump and Jose and Snuffles and Javier sharing a jug of 99 cent wine while Javier signaled UFO's with his lighter.

It was a quiet, peaceful summer night with no Taetzelwurms running amok and no sirens tearing up the music of the wind and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

JULY 23, 2017

IN A GADDA DA VIDA, BABY

This week's image comes from far off Chicago, where FB friend Carolyn Masters divides her time equally between breaking cinderblocks with her toes, composing music and photographing rare bits of nature in the Chicagoland area.

This fellow formed a chrysalis not long after this photo was taken and so we are all waiting to see what he becomes after such an extraordinary first appearance.

NEW TIMES NEW TIMES NEW NEW NEW TIMES!

Another heat wave smacked the Bay Area upside the head, causing all kinds of dizzy spells and whatnot. Local fire companies rushed out to help Mariposa deal with its hot problems, leaving the town ghostlike, steaming under the merciless pounding of the sun in this new Globally Warmed Post-Truth reality.

What is this Post-Truth America? Well, everyone knew that the invasion of Iraq was based on trumped-up nonsense about WMDs. But knowing that truth did not matter. Everyone knows Bush was not elected by the majority of the American People and that the entire election was fraught with voter suppression, intimidation, and chicanery -- but knowing this does not matter. The scumbag still got appointed by his daddy's friends.

Everyone knows that Donald Trump is an execrable scumbag who enlisted the aid of a foreign power to get appointed President and even with that did not get the majority vote of Americans -- but the truth does not matter.

The sad fact is that the Press did do its job, despite the absurd distortions from Fox, but nevertheless, knowing the truth did not matter. People preferred to hold onto Faith and Belief and Arrogant Assertion.

Science has made any number of assertions about things going on, from the nastiness of fracking to global warming, and the facts are known, but in this era, science ceases to matter. Absolute nonsense such as Creationism is taken seriously and we all know that this belief system is full of hokum, but that does not matter.

Everyone knows the rental crisis is destroying our little town, but nobody does anything about it; they just wring their hands while money interest rape the civic treasury. Our Mayor is an imbecile and everyone knows it, yet nobody does anything about it.

We live now in the Post-Truth Era. Truth does not matter.

LEAD ME ON, LEAD ME ON

So anyway. Denby was trying to play some Kelly Joe Phelps over the computer but the Internet would not cooperate so he threw the headphones aside and went to play his own music and some covers like Hard Time Killing Floor Blues because the Post Truth era demanded something authentic for people to feel inside themselves or go dead.

Everyone is coping with the heat wave that slammed the Bay Area. The President of the Bums, Ronald Rump, has been suffering some heat as well due to widespread allegations that he secured his position as Indolent Commander of the Layabouts in Sacto by means of chicanery and collusion with the infamous Russian Deli Cartel. President Rump's Press spokesperson, Ivan Turganev insists there is absolutely no connection to anything Russian and the President. Chief Advisors Igor Raskolniki and Piotr Alexandra Schiksa have been fiercely protective of their boss.

In other news, the President has appointed the fourteenth Central Indolence Associate, Bogdan Dimitrikovitch as well as Chief Magistrate Fyodor Borat, who replaces Marat Mordani as Special Prosecutor investigating the Russian allegations. After Rump's meeting last week with Vladimir Puta, the CEO of Blinis are Us, the embattled President insisted there is no Russian at all in the house and he does not even enjoy Russian Dressing on his salad.

Da, said Vladimir Puta. He is so innocent this President, so much like a baby behind he is so innocent.

Mr. Howitzer and the Blathers have gotten together a group that calls itself The Group for Imposed and Maligned Property Owners (GIMPO) with the express purpose of easing the troubles of wealthy landowners. Their first objective is to restore the ancient Droit du Signeur as well as other feudal rights and landed tenure assumptions that the group feels have fallen sadly out of fashion. They held a meeting at a house party in the Howitzer mansion and drafted resolutions to put before the City Council, resolutions that grant complete supernumerary powers to the householders in such a way that supersedes any and all State Constitutions. This group wants not only the right to evict anyone at any time for no given reason, but also the right to force anyone walking in public to serve as a Renter or Lessor at any time for any length of time bound by contract. The landlords do not want to go through the embarrassing process of interviews and public advertising - they want to be able to just grab anyone anywhere and make them pay money, ideally without the individual taking possession of any physical premises. This concept of the Virtual Lease has great appeal, for the lessor pays rent, but lives elsewhere.

In this way, the premises stay neat and clean as a pin and improvements can be made without any fuss.

There are some who might object that such ideas are counter to the the spirit of a democracy.

"This is not a democracy!" Mr. Howitzer thumps his cane on the floor. "This is a Republic!"

Which some imagine explains everything.

The blistering sun withdrew behind the flaming Western curtains, letting cool breezes soothe the battered land and the Sanchez's lay upon the top of their blankets, wearing only nightshirts while the sultry air stirred sluggishly.

At Marlene and Andre's the denizens sprawled over the porch and in the backyard, looking for cool relief as they slept. A siren wended its way from distant Oaktown and an angry pop, pop, pop sounded, but no one got hit, leaving the night in the keeping of the ones who are sweeping up the ghosts of past gunbattles and fastfood memories with equal measure.

A cat slunk along the top of the Old Fence and a family of raccoons padded down the street towards their own business.

After a time all was silent and it became a quiet night on the Island with no sirens and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

In the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles all the residents save one slept quietly even the security guard Sgt.Rumsbo within whose shaven head crowded dreams of marching in solo formation to a stirring martial air with flags flying and cheers.

In the deep reaches of the night up in his garret, Denby found his groove on the National Steel knockoff from Japan he had found at a yard sale and the soft keen and pound filled the air.

I've been looking for a home
I've been looking for a home
But I can't find one
Looking for a home but I can't find one

[Chorus]
Lead me on
Lead me on
Lead me on

I've been drifting here and there
I need a guide to show my way
I've been drifting here and there
But I need a guide to show my way
I've been drifting here and there
I need a guide to show my way

Lead me on
Lead me on
Better lead me on

One of these nights sing you a song
Make you weep and moan
One of these nights I'll sing you a song
Make you weep and moan

Lord lord lord
Lead me on

If my heart don't stop aching
I won't live to see the sun
If my heart don't stop aching
I won't live to see the sun

[Chorus]

I've got a picture in my mind
Of my home so far away
I've got me a picture
Of my home so far away

Carry my burden down to the end
Over the mountain and down to the sea
Take my burden over the mountain
Down to the sea
Carry it back over the mountain down to the sea

Still looking for a home
I've been looking for a home
Yeah I've been looking for a home

Lead me on
Lead me on
Lead me on

A lone coyote emerged from the smoky mouth of the Snoffish Valley Road, looked around and then headed back into that mysterious darkness.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

JULY 16, 2017

SOME FOLKS LIVES ROLL EASY

Many of you just may take off for a summer vacation, rambling fancy, footloose and free. Things will go well. Other folks, well. . . . This week's image comes from Anna Hagemann and is of a minor vehicular contretemps on 395 not far from Lee Vining.

Yes, it was hot.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Some of you may have noticed it has gotten really warm recently. Like 105 degrees in some parts of the Bay Area, although the coolish Island held to the high nineties.

Hotter still have been the wildfires talking place to the East and south of here. Battalion Chiefs have been busy filing their IQS forms for the placards to have and hold while sending trucks and staff out to assist in places like benighted Oroville, the same place that suffered the near dam collapse this past winter. Now Oroville is frying on a griddle as the town is threatened by the massive Wall fire.

Here are the stats for the Wall fire that started 07/07/17: 41 residences destroyed and 3 damaged; 57 other structures destroyed or damaged. As of seven hours ago, Firefighters continue to hold and improve fire lines and mop up hot spots. All evacuation orders, warnings, and road closures have been lifted. Butte County has opened a Local Assistance Center at the Oroville Municipal Auditorium. (Information from CalFire at fire.ca.gov)

There are other fires in which the total acreage exceeds 10,000 acres throughout the state from Mendocino to Santa Barbara. The Garza fire in Kings County near Avenal road has charred over 48,000 acres but is now 80% contained.

To the bay area crews under Battalion Chief Matt Barnes and Michael St. Johns of SMFD we wish them all the best in their efforts to assist other districts. Stay safe.

Returning to more local concerns it seems the ongoing battle over development, the way in which Council acts like a culled and hand-picked hutch of Development rabbits, and traffic issues remains fully within everyone's minds in a way guaranteed to make sure nothing ever happens save by accident.

Some people wring their hands and bemoan the length of time it has taken to develop the former Base property, but looking at just about every proposal save for the columbium -- whose permanent residents will be unlikely ever to contribute to traffic -- all of them varied on a spectrum from wildly hideous to moderately objectionable, so perhaps the delay is just a function of the People's will -- go slow on development and dollars be damned. There has been no great catastrophe and no riding of the Apocalypse Horsemen over slow development, only chafing from people who stand to make money from get rich quick schemes that wind up stymied.

Maybe it is just as well that the place becomes a sanctuary for the least tern, the snowy plover, and the harbor seals -- nothing proposed is going to fix the rental crisis that is imploding communities all over the Bay Area. How about this: allow the maniacs to do what they want -- build forty story high apartment towers that will collapse come the first earthquake or the first big flood and then the maniac builders can build it right up again on the landfill to make even more money from the rubble. The collapse will kill thousands of inhabitants and that will both clear the island of dense population as well as the bridges and tunnels. For a time until it all falls down again. Then we just start all over.

This modest proposal is a sure win-win for everybody. Maybe not the kids orphaned by the collapse, but hey. Are there no workhouses? Are there no orphanages?

BTW, just what is WRONG with solar power on Mount Trashmore? It is not like the property can be used for construction. The word today is "monetize". We just gotta monetize that sucker. Make the eyes of the ghouls glow with avid anticipation. Monetize monetize monetize. Put solar on that pile of garbage and make AMP honest. Or at least as honest as they ever will be.

Incidentally, that satire about 40 story high rises is only partially tongue-in-cheek. We talked with a landowner along the estuary who pretty much wishes he could do just that. Right there on the estuary. But that would never fly past THOSE people you know. Yes, yes, we said. If it were not for people, you could build build build all you wanted.

There is an even better idea: scrap that troublesome Measure A entirely. Yes, just get rid of it. Instead, for Measure A' (A Prime), we make the height limit one story. That's it - just one story. Tear down anything above 30 feet high and as a sop for developer animals let them build as deep as they want. Three, five, ten stories underground. Pretty soon the Island will look just like Fairfax. Make it all waterproof down there -- this is after all an Island -- and connect the buildings with tunnels so you don't have traffic. There you go. Is not life so simple?! No more Measure A and no more high-rises that fall down. Just issue life preservers and scuba outfits to every new tenant and that'll do ya. People could swim to work instead of driving or taking the BART. Developers like Farahd and Cowan will love it too; dig deep enough and they can start to monetize China. Monetize monetize monetize.

MAGNOLIA YOU SWEET THING

So anyway. Once again the Island got speared by another heat wave. These things used to happen end of August, but times have changed. As Denby recovered from his narrow escape via the Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum, which was not so spiritedly high tech that it did not involve trains and a bus depot, Jose got his bandages and stitches removed from Javier's last birthday celebration.

Javier's birthday is a known quantity, an established threat with definitive dates in June, but nevertheless, some poor sucker always winds up in the hospital as another winds up in jail. All the Trauma staff at Highland have Javier's birthday marked out on their calendars. Those desiring peace and quiet always take the day and the evening off. Those adrenaline junkies who love excitement always sign up. Many police postpone family vacations until after Javier's birthday has passed, for that red letter day usually means lots of easy overtime and maybe a chance to use their firearms. Maybe even bring in the K-9 unit as they did one year.

It is not like Javier is a bad person; he is just a boy from Mexico City who has a flair for controversy. He was not his mama's only boy, but her favorite -- or so it seems. She began to cry when he said good-bye, and sank into his dreams . Well, that is the way the story goes. At least as Townes van Zandt used to tell it. . . .

In any case Javier spent the hot days lolling in the Piedmont air conditioned rooms and swimming pool of Miranda Escobar, one of the brightest and most beautify stars out of Columbia which nevertheless desired neither her nor any of her family to return, for her family had been allegedly involved with kidnapping most of the Nation's Supreme Court at one time, in an escapade which had ended as badly as it had been sanguine.

"Javier, you must stop being such a bad boy," Miranda said from a poolchair. "There is no profit in it for you."

"If I were something else, I would not be enjoying both your lovely pool and your lovely culo," Javier said.

A bodyguard stepped out from the shadows. "Should I shoot him now or cut him up with a corvo," said the man.

"Santiago, you Chileans are so impetuous. Please do not cut up Javier as it would spoil the pool water."

"Why do you tolerate this malo hombre?" said Santiago.

"Well . . . I like the way he does the cha-cha."

Yes, Javier did like to court dangerous women.

Jose, it must be said was quite a different sort of man altogether. Honest, faithful to a fault, devout, dedicated to the honor of his abuelita, he strove in every way to be a decent citizen and an excellent ambassador from Sonora, for he felt that every man represents the place from which he comes. He worked hard, saved his money, sent some of it home, and otherwise remained an upstanding member of the community. It was not his fault that he got tangled up in Javier's escapades, but often he found himself powerless in the face of overwhelming foolishness.

While there is a nasty canker, a criminal rot that infects the Island, by and large, Islanders are decent, good people, crazy in some good ways and sometimes inane, sometimes cruel, but unlike other parts of the Bay Area, never can be accused of being without a clue.

Latterly, because of the heat and because of rumors passing over the transom, the Editor has been taking walks down by the Strand. After all, 1967 was a banner year for many people, with the current anniversary being celebrated by all sorts of idiots who do not have the faintest idea of what it was like.

Maybe he should write a book about it, about how it really was back then. A book for average, everyday people -- not hippies or squares or media wonks or celebrities -- but decent people caught up in events of the time, living the best way they knew how while the world changed all around them. Everyone had a choice in how to live their lives going forward -- pretend nothing had changed or flow with the flow.

Which, come to think of it, is just like what it is today. The world was now in an uproar. A nonsense baby had taken the reins of power and without the majority having anything to do with it. Wars were being fought for no reason and wars were being fought for very good reasons. Police were being arrested for killing people -- imagine that! All the old order was being swept away.

Back in the Offices the Editor had a meeting with Jose about the upcoming Holiday CD. "Time for another Flyabout," said the Editor. "We need someone to spin the prop again for the Machine."

"Does this prop spin very fast," Jose asked. "Just like the last time."

"Yes, of course."

"Is it dangerous?" Jose asked reasonably.

"Of course."

"I broke both legs last time," Jose said.

"That is a small price to pay," said his boss.

"Can you not get someone else to do it?" Jose asked. "Perhaps Festus."

"That is ridiculous. Festus stands six inches tall at his utmost and weighs barely ten ounces. He is an hamster. The prop is five feet above the earth at its lowest declination and weighs hundreds of pounds -- I do not know exactly but it is something like that."

""Boss, maybe Denby can do it."

"Denby has to play the music," said the Editor, a bit impatiently. "Offer it up to the Virgin. Yes do that. Offer it up to the Virgin."

"Okay boss," Jose said reluctantly. "If mi padre allows it."

"That is good. I know the man; he is in my pocket. Fourth and Fifth Estates and all that. Very good."

"Oy," Jose said. "Weh iss mir. . .".

"You have many months to prepare a parachute. I suggest you get cracking now."

In a dark warehouse, the members of the Angry Elf gang were stacking boxes. Nitro. Gunpowder. C4. All kinds of good stuff to use later on in the year. The gang had great plans. Many of the old Escobar gang were among them and they had brought with them a kind of delicious savagery which had been lacking. These Islanders; they were soon to wake up.

Over at the Household of Marlene and Andre the simple souls who had taken refuge there collected after the Bay breeze had dispelled the heat. Beneath the floorboards of the old house, the lower denizens scampered around the carcass of the old furnace with its sparking wires even as one door down the Angry Elf gang ferried in box after box of highly incendiary explosives intended for enforcing any number of extortion schemes.

The fog advanced across the Bay and soon all was enveloped. Somewhere a siren wailed. Somewhere someone got stabbed. Somewhere else someone got shot. It was a fitful, and unrestful night on the Island as the full moon waned.

Up in their rented garret off Santa Clara Avenue, Ms. Morales lay on the bed wearing her thin shift next to Mr. Sanchez while the baby dozed in the crib, blessedly silent for now. The open window admitted a cool breeze.

"Please God," whispered Ms. Morales. "Keep my baby safe in these times."

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

JULY 9, 2017

THE LIZARD KING

This image of a survivor was taken in Woodacre California, where apparently the mean streets of the animal kingdom can cost you a tail.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

It is Summer and the days consist of slow-news stories, like who did Rump insult today and what new outrage is out there to cause us consternation.

Furthermore, the forecast is for hot. Hot, hot, hot, and more of the same.

The annual Mayors Parade happened, but we had to work so we missed it as well as all the fireworks. From all accounts it was the Biggest Little Smalltown Parade in America; and no one disputes that assertion.

AIN'T NO CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES

So anyway. When Denby finally made his way back to the Island, everyone wondered where he had gone, but he did not have a good explanation himself. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball or a strange deck of cards and you have to deal with it. As he paused in his long limp over the Park Street Bridge he looked at the sleeping town he had come to know over the course of twenty years. Far down to the right the ramparts of the new construction already topped the little houseroofs bordering Littlejohn Park. Closer to where he stood, new expensive homes, an entire development, occupied the land where the old Boatworks repair facilty used to be. But beyond to the south extended the quiet streets where kids still played stickball in the late summer afternoons and the bench that bore the legend since 1929 "To All My Dumb Friends" had been repaired, despite intense opposition from Police Chief Grumpus O'Leary, who felt the bench would shelter unsavory elements.

The teenagers did not bother with the bench - they smoked dope and drank gin in the more comfortable gazebo in the same park.

The Island, home to a stiff-necked, irritating, poodle-walking collection of misfits who also could be kind (up to a point), generous (within reason), and always full of opinions. A people you just had to love because they were both daft and obnoxious, a mixture of all kinds of Californian things. Islanders are Californians, first and foremost and that was the truth, gifted with foibles and blessed, redemptive lunacy.

A bland full moon looked down on the bridge where Denby stood, offering no comment but beauty.

When he got to Javarama he sat down to let Irene pour him a cup of java with only an half mile left to walk. Jason Arrabiata, minister of the CFSM sat there finishing up his Sausage-Rotini Special and he greeted Denby who told him all about how he had been fleeing the Angry Elf gang when he apparently had stumbled into some kind of warp in place and time at the entrance to the Snoffish Valley Road, which had transported him via spirit train to San Rafael.

"That must have been a Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum," Jason said while prodding his gums with a toothpick. "Haven't heard about one of those since the late 1960's.

"Why me of all people," Denby asked.

"You know, as a man of the Cloth I often get asked that question," Jason said. "I can only say you were Saved by his Noodliness and that musicians have special Dispensation around here."

And with that the Reverend Arrabiata offered Denby a ride back to the St. Charles Home for Demented Managers where Denby rented a room in the attic. There, Denby plotzed on his bunk as the moon shone through the window onto the D-9 in the corner so that the strings glowed. The air still felt heavy from the intense heat of the day. He felt like a lizard without a tail; survival has its costs.

"Why do these things happen to me," Denby prayed.

"Because," said The Creator. "You make me laugh!"

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown.

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

 

JULY 2, 2017


ONE DOOR OPENS, ANOTHER SHUTS BEHIND

We have wanted to publish this archive foto for some time. It was taken by Jessica Vanderbeck while traveling in Guatemala many moons ago with the man who later became her husband. She is now the proud mother of a bouncing baby named Dylan, aged 3 months.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

We will be experiencing some clouds and high fog this July 4th, so pick your fireworks spot well, as the usual distant seats will likely be obscured for the Babylon display over the Bay. Also the recent wet weather will likely present more foliage obstruction. We got a report from the Santa Cruz mountains they are still digging out from the slides that occurred this past rainy season.

Of course the annual Island Mayor's Parade will take place as usual.

The Alameda 4th of July Parade is one of the largest and longest Independence Day parades in the nation. With over 160 floats and 2,500 participants who travel a three mile route, the parade has become the central activity of the Bay Area's Fourth of July weekend. Starting early this year around 9:00 am on Park Street, the event typically lasts until 3:00 PM for all official floats to pass before the judging seats on Webster.

The parade route is longer than three miles, allowing the city to claim it as the longest parade procession ever, which no one bothers to challenge.

There are references to the parade going back to 1909.

Other regional cities have their own parades, with Novato, Fairfax and even tiny Woodacre holding their own parades, exhibiting civic pride, a bit of politics and lots of local flavor.

Up on the Russian River, all the little towns there hold fireworks displays, and so as to avoid conflict, arrange to have their individual displays over the course of the entire week on separate days. Guerneville held theirs on July 1st.

What is interesting is that even though this is supposedly the most important national holiday in the calendar, many companies in this area insisted on kiboshing an extended weekend for the 4th, forcing workers to truncate weekend plans to the dismay of family members so that the workers would return to the office to do whatever can be done when 2/3rds of the rest of the country is out.


AINT NO CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES

So, anyway. Summer heat slammed the Bay Area and then stood off only a little bit while the engines steamed between heats all along Snoffish Valley Road.

Summertime had officially arrived. Girls were out in their thin summer dresses and the low riders cruised by. The scent of BBQ wafted on the tangy air. The recent heat wave had mellowed out to soft breezes over the golden hills. All was perfect.

Mr. Cribbage came back from his trip to San Diego with a box of Mexican fireworks. He flew down there and rented a car to drive north with the entire trunk packed with explosives.

For many the weekend was an extended holiday, but since the Great Recession and the triumphs of the NeoCon Far Right, many employers kiboshed the long weekend such that people like Tipitina had to haul into the City for Monday and Dodd was retained by Mr. Howitzer.

"This country was founded for wealthy people to be free doing what they do best -- making more money," Mr. Howitzer said. "So it is only fitting that inferior people like yourself serve us as you do."

Mr. Howitzer had a way with words.

As night fell and firecrackers went off all along the Estuary, Denby was out taking a stroll under the three-quarter moon, taking count of the stars and communing silently with the UFO's when the red Miata belonging to the Angry Elf gang drove past and the thugs saw him there. Denby ducked between the houses as the thugs unloaded from the car, armed with batons and knives.

The Angry Elf had never forgiven Denby for saying "Eff you dog!" to him, not once, but twice. So the Angry Elf, who had gathered his gang under the promise never to kill anyone had no scruples about anyone else doing the job. Indeed much of the Angry Elf's work involving extortion, theft, numbers, arson, stolen credit cards, fenced bank account numbers, had a lot to do with someone else always doing the dirty work and carrying all the load of risk while he, the ringleader, took no cash but payment only in the form of "favors".

In any case the gang members shambled after Denby who sprinted between the yards and vaulted fences until he found himself at the old Beltline where an improbable donkey engine sat with a single boxcar, into which car Denby leaped just as the little engine chugged into life and pulled away, heading Northeast, leaving the gang flabbergasted as the Beltline had ceased operation some ten years previously and many of the rails heading west had been pulled up.

From the open door of the car Denby watched as the municipal fireworks and the highly illegal fireworks shot off along the estuary.

The little train trundled along the long unused tracks past the Nob Hill grocery and turned to parallel the magical Snoffish Valley Road. He heard a strange music going dee dee DEE DEE dee dee DEE DEE and a voice saying, "Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your imaging apparatus. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... ".

Denby fell into a deep sleep. When he awoke he found himself sitting slumped in a cushioned chair inside a clean car. He got up and stepped off the train which then pulled away, leaving him on an open concrete platform with a vaulted roof. An elevated freeway made some noise off to the right. Signs high up indicated destinations of strange towns with names he barely knew. Mill Valley. San Anselmo. Larkspur. San Francisco Downtown.

"Where the heck am I?" Denby said aloud.

"You be in San Rafael Main Depot," said a tramp. "Spare change?"

"How the heck do I get home?"

"If you lived here," the tramp said solemnly, "You would be home by now. Spare change for something to eat?"

On the Island the Angry Elf gang found somebody's dog running loose and tied firecrackers to its tail for fun and to let off steam. In the Island-Life Offices the Editor looked up after a rumble and a distant roar shook the building, thinking it was an earthquake. A fireball arose over the trees from the direction of the Cribbage place and the Editor guessed that things had not gone well with the Mexican fireworks. No fault of the Mexicans; he was sure of that. Damned gabachos.

He put his head in his hands with some despair as the wail of the fire engines drifted over the trees after the fireball. It seems today that all of America has taken a Stupid Pill. He bent grimly and halfheartedly to work.

Most of the staff had been let go early, which meant the issue would be late, but still it was better for the staff to be with families on this birthday celebration, commemorating a day a few hundred years ago when a group of idealists cobbled together a new idea that would be an experiment in Democracy. Call it a Republic if you will, as if calling something by a name makes some perverse reality that is not real closer to being true when everybody knows the real truth of things. Language had in America become spoken vomit, a repulsive ejection that carried no meaning or use as each atomized individual drifted further apart from understanding the neighbor in a land where communication of any type has become devalued and rendered inane.

The truth is, America is what it is and has always been, a compendium of acts over some four hundred years, including some gracious, some magnanimous, some heinous, some noble, some courageous, some churlish, some stupid beyond belief and some quite in advance of the times.

Inanity seemed to rule the times. Blank-faced foolishness and extremism thrust its gob in front of common sense everywhere and the most ridiculous of ideas and acts have become commonplace while Truth is derided. Blather and spoken vomit have replaced candor with terms like "extraordinary rendition" supplanting the words "torture" and "concentration camp." The Editor put his head in his hands again, feeling a great despair.

The Country, made up of some 380 million souls, cannot be summarized so easily. As The Editor dozed over his desk, phantoms came to pay a visit, for it was hard on the Solstice and the Strawberry Moon and magic was in the air in a time when the veil between the worlds becomes porous.

Bewigged, stockinged, frockcoated, they entered the cubicle from the Other Side. Thomas Jefferson laid a hand upon the Editor's shoulder. Sam Adams and others stood behind.

"We wrote the Federalist Papers to explain what we were doing," someone said. "This then taken as authority ratified the Fourth Estate which we knew was necessary to check the powers of the other branches of government."

"Now is the time," said Thomas Carlyle. "“Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all. A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up, increases and multiplies; irrepressible, incalculable.”

"We had better hang together or we surely will all hang separately," Patrick said. "It is as true as it always was; give me liberty or give me death."

A light breeze stirred the curtains and the phantasms silently walked out of the offices, leaving the Editor with his desk-lamp and its pool of light while all around hung the curtains of darkness.

The moon rode high in the sky and the Nation was in trouble. Time to work.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 mysterious parts unknown even as a weary and footsore Denby made his way back to the Island.

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

JUNE 25, 2017

ONCE IN A VERY BLUE MOON

This shot was provided by Tammy, who thought she was capturing a full moon image. There was no full moon two weeks ago. This is actually the International Space Station. Still, it remains pretty evocative.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

This past weekend was bracketed by two diametrically opposed events, and heaven knows how interesting it would be if the two could be somehow merged.

NASCAR held an event at Sonoma Speedway, which is a venue that changes names so often it makes journalists dizzy. In fact the old Speedway sign is still there out by Gate 7. Typically some 200,000 folks pay tickets to cram in there among the hoochie mamas in short pants and the Dirk Diggler Coors swilling types who still believe Sarah Palin has a brain while the elite fly in by helicopter and another several thousand vendors pack the booths even as Microsoft and Big Money types fly in for million dollar commercials up there on the bluff overlooking the action.

O yeah. There are the contender teams bringing in a few thousand more folks to pump fuel change tires really really fast in the pits.

So locals are always advised to stay clear of Route 37 and 101 in those environs, because it is a naked two lane county road that feeds all that traffic in and out of the place.

Meanwhile the rest of the country that has a heart and mind to speak of attended the SF Pride parade. This annual event takes place around the world although people in Turkey did not fare so well as water cannons, rubber bullets, tear gas, and general police obnoxiousness were employed there to spoil the fun.

This year the emphasis was on renewed political activism as it is clear to everyone that we are experiencing a world-wide reactionary response to the dialectical movements of history. France pushed back by electing Macron. Germany pulled back from the face of fascism it knows better than anybody with the far right defeat there. Turkey remains Turkey. India is interested only in itself. And China is precisely what it is: the behometh swelling into monstrous proportions in the East and bedamned to anything that happened in Tianemen Square. It remains for the US to regain its former lead status in front of the so-called Free World by deposing self-imposed kings and fascist ideologies.

We are following behind instead of leading, and that is more certainly not any sort of America First. It is only a thinly veiled program that is Fat Cat First. Wealthy first. Bedamned to all the rest of us. And their health plan is a good example of this sort of obscenity.

SUMMERTIME BLUES

So anyway. Monday turned out to be quite an hames. If you have ever been to the Gaeltacht, you know what this means. Mr. Howizter was found by the cleaning ladies up on the landing of his mansion on Grand Street, drenched in a puddle of piss and entirely prostrate from heat exhaustion due his having fallen down on the marble -- rather exquisite imported Carrerra -- and dislocated a disk and in his thrashing about causing the electrical AC to fail utterly -- knob and tube is good enough as some say who want to save money --and there was a great deal of consternation and vilification in the Howitzer household although Dodd secretly smiled about his employer's misfortunes.

Denby emerged from the City Jail after suffering the consequences of another Javier's birthday and immediately went to have a drink. In the Old Same Place Denby remarked that Javier's birthday comes but once a year -- and that was good enough god damn it.

At the same time Jose got released from the Intensive Care Unit at the Island Hospital, with some good prognosis for recovery from the burns suffered on the same august occasion that sent Denby to jail.

Over at the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum the Angry Elf gang has been plotting revenges and injuries of all kinds to the gentlefolk of the Island. They have been meeting nightly during the heat wave with the Cackeler among them, issuing his demonic laugh over the sweet, innocent pines. The Angry Elf has sworn never to kill anyone -- outright. But there is always a possible exception and the possible idea causes the Cackler's glands to salivate.

One might have guessed the Angry Elf gang is not a salubrious collection of individuals, and you would be right. In every edenic garden there dwells a canker worm that devours roses and anything queer and beautiful. Such is the Angry Elf.

Down at the Old Cannery, a new erection is in progress. They are tearing out the old brick on the end so as to start converting the ghost-haunted place into a mini-office mall. Meanwhile Farahd's company The Savage Investors has been buying up the old Edwardians and subdividing them into condos and ritzy apartments. On a grey foggy morning, Old John's family packed up the last of their belongings into U-hauls so as to leave this Island home where they have lived so long and raised so many children, abandoning the wisteria that clung along the front porch for the more reasonable prices of the Valley. The elementary school is closing because of earthquake risk as has the old high school. Pagano's has moved, Vines has closed down, and Browns Shoes is gone. The Bakery that was there for half a century on Park Street moved out because of rent and McGrath's closed because people renting above the bar, supposedly, complained about the noise due to living above a bar. Harlan of the Signs on Santa Clara was evicted. Scads of people are leaving because of the exhorbitant rents. There remain fewer reasons to stay.

The sun set on a rapidly cooling Island after the savage heatwave and the Editor stood out on the back deck, surveying the moon, the box elder, and the aperture of the Snoffish Valley Road with rolls of fog erupting from its dark mouth as seen fitfully between the trees beyond.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

JUNE 18, 2017

ALL ABOUT THE SERPENTINE FIRE

This week's headline photo comes courtesy of Tammy, who has captured the delicate eruption of Spring in the Bay Area with these Morning Glories.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Summer has arrived, if you did not notice. This past weekend saw a plethora of events for Father's Day Weekend. Webster Street held its "Island Jam", bringing a little musical life into the West End. This time around there was less of the boring "tribute bands" version of unoriginality and more soulful funk and groove with Dub Soul Latin All Stars, Mio Flores, the Shabang Steel Drum band and Native Son Ben Reyes bringing some Hawaiian R&B via Imua. Ben is an Encinal High grad.

For chuckles we reprint a Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Alameda Sun.

"Editor:
I don’t understand why after decades of trying to reduce tobacco smoking, we are now considering making it easier to smoke marijuana. Putting smoke in your lungs is a bad idea.

There are other problems associated with “medical marijuana” dispensaries as well. Removing the ban in Alameda is a bad idea. If Oakland wants to deal with it, let them. I hope this is not just another way to get money for the city."

Um, we hope that all this obscene rent gouging is not just another way to make money, too.

Go figure; we blame the state of the public schools.

Zyzzyva's big party took place this past Friday at the Make Out Room in Babylon. Daniel Handler emceed, DJ Teemoney (a.k.a. music and food writer Tamara Palmer) played '80s and '90s favorites, plus silent auction , specially . This was a partial fund-raiser to assist publishing one of the finest literary journals in the country and supporting writers, artists, and poets in our community.

A trio version of Kitka, the an American women's vocal arts ensemble inspired by traditional songs and vocal techniques from Eastern Europe, performed at the San Anselmo Library, which provided an international fillip of distinction to the small town there this past weekend.

Vallejo hosted the now annual Pirate Festival at its waterfront on Juneteenth. The festival is no longer free (admission is now $12) but we can say absolutely no one from the smalled rogue to the oldest greybeard and all ranges in between is ever disappointed by the jollity and marvelous enchantment of the costume event. Many Renaissance Faire folks show up there to practice their rude cockney accents and display astonishing cleavages amid the flash of rapiers, the clash of sabres and the cannon smoke of ship to shore battle enactments occuring on the hour. The Festival captured the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest assembly of pirates and we were there that year in full regalia.

June 25th is the 47th annual Pride Parade in Babylon, so get ready for the traffic and good vibes. Veteran organizers of the 1977/78 Gay Freedom Day Parade to be highlighted at this year’s March, which will begin at the Embarcadero One and go the length of Market Street to the Civic Center/UN Plaza.

It is Summer and extraordinary events are taking place this Season away from the Main Stages in all sorts of small venues so look around for what may be happening close by.

ONE OF THESE MORNINGS, YOU'RE GONNA RISE UP SINGING

So anyway, this Sunday was Father's Day. The sun arose, bold and furious, to slam the Island with incendiary fury. All the girls handling the teletypes and morse code talking wires, sweat beading out on foreheads and drops dripping from wilted bangs started sending emergency messages East to where this brutal Balrog of whips and fire would soon come marching to make damn sure the Southeast would know all about Global Warming with punishing vengeance.

"Vengeance is mine," saith the Lord, but Satan has a hand in it as well when it comes to temperature for nothing can make you doubt the Lord's mercy like a vicious heat wave.

The Household gathered up the Fathers they could find and identify to take them for the annual brunch at Mama's Royal Cafe, a jovial place endowed with vigorous Feminine Power.

As if the Fathers had not figured out all that already. The way the world really works and how things get done.

Fathers tend to wind up on the short end of sentiment in this country. To tell the truth, one cannot really say one has raised kids so much as helped out at best while footing the bills.

Anyway. Suan was there with her father, the tall and distinguished Mr. Washington, and Tipitina was there with her father Adopho from New Orleans, Sarah with her father Claude Barrows and Little Adam "brought" Andre with the help of Marlene even though Andre was not his real father.

"I like Marlene mo' better," Adam said to Andre. "My mommie was a crank ho' and other daddy throw me from the car; he be a skanky son of a b----".

"Enough of that," Marlene said firmly. "Or we go home right now."

"Well now, young man," said Mr. Washington, with deep sonority that Suan called his "lawyer's voice," and which make a bass fiddle strings start to vibrate. "The facts of the case you are here now. And this man here is doing his best for your welfare. Perhaps you should consider alternative language."

And with that, round eyed Adam listened to the distinguished Mr. Washington and Suan was never so proud of her father as she was that day he bonded with the orphan child, who had indeed been discarded like so much trash from the open door of an automobile.

The group disbanded on the hot pavement outside as the merciless sun wrought hot spears out of the bright chrome on parked cars and turned everything metal and dull into curling irons to the hand, melting rubber and stabbing the heads of bald men with lancets of molten slag, the street becoming an oven in which everything cooked, sizzled, bubbled, and fried.

A news program drifted through the air from an open window -- something about President Rump withdrawing from the Parish Accords on Climate Change.

In his airconditioned mansion, Mr. Howitzer III raised a solitary toast to Mr. Howitzer II, a Junior by traditional nomenclature, but the first to capitalize family assets upon land development, acquiring orphanages, low income housing, and International Hotels so as to toss out the residents and turn the buildings into condos and swanky resorts.

That Mr. Howitzer had done well until he had died up in the High Sierra in a place that had no ski lifts, expecting underlings to run to his aid as he fell down into a crevasse.

Pity the family mausoleum would be empty of that one, but nevertheless, the ediface remained over there in Colma, ready to recieve another. Which most likely would be himself, as there were no more Howitzers of his kind any more. He was damned if he would waste good money to fetch that rotten carcass from that crevasse. As for the underlings, they had all been let go, save for Dodd, who was indispensible.

As Mr. Howitzer turned, he tripped and fell on the marble stairs and bumped down a landing until he came to rest in some discomfort due to a slipped disk. His cell phone skittered away and landed with a smack on the marble some thirty feet below. He tried to raise himself but the property managment mogul could not do that without assistance because of the pain.

"Dodd! Dodd!" He called out. But there was no answer to the echos.

He reached out and pulled on a cord that ran along the railing and something came loose. That is when the fuse blew and the stairs went dark and the AC cut off, leaving Mr. Howitzer in the dark. He had always gone cheap with electrics, trusting electricians who said, "The light comes on; knob and tube is good enough for rentals."

"Dodd!" No answer. The house was empty. Dodd had left for the weekend to attend to his own family during the heat wave.

A trickle of sweat travelled down his brow. It started to feel very warm. The housekeeper would not return until Monday. He fished in his pocket and found some pills which he swallowed. No idea how many or what kind.

He looked up at the oil portrait of his father high above him. "O daddy daddy," he said.

"You always were a bad boy," said the portrait in Mr. Howitzer's delerium, and laughed.

"Doooooohhhhd!" yelled Mr. Howitzer III on the stairs.

But there was no answer. Dodd was far away. It got very warm.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

JUNE 11, 2017

IN THE GREEN FUSE DRIVES THE FLOWER

All over the West strange blooms do occur. The plants spend most of their lives looking wretched, blotched, sickly and not very attractive, sometimes for years at a time. Then, the magic time happens, a shoot develops and within hours the entire plant is shaking like something from a Ripley Scott sci-fi movie.

Then IT erupts, blooming with visible progress within fractions of an hour - immense fragrant blooms that last only the night.

Those of us in the West know the mystery of the Night Blooming Cereus.

This one was knipsed by Chris Benjamin in Texas and is a bloom from a cutting taken by his mother well over forty years ago in Mexico.

 

GOWDY KIMBLE TO YOU

So anyway. There was a great hustle and bustle during the week with all sorts of people running around and nervous jumping up and down. Those who had them checked their weapons and those who did not looked for places to hide. It's that time of year again.

It was time for another Javier's birthday.

Javier is not a bad person, really. It is just that every year on his birthday people get injured and wind up in the hospital or jail or both.

Things always start out benignly as they did this past Thursday, with the sky providing a pleasant skein of mildly breezy clouds for a BBQ out at the Cove where rusted parts from the 188 howitzer someone brought a few years ago made a pleasantly nostalgic trellis for clambering morning glories. Mindful of what happened the year that the propane canister had exploded, igniting Jose into a ball of Sinaloan fire, the Household members brought good old fashioned charcoal and a limited amount of carefully shielded lighterfluid.

Other than a brief moment of tension when the Angry Elf gang drove by in an open convertible Miata, sneering and cackling and planning the unhappiness of some particular poor soul, the day passed uneventfully. None of Javier's violent ex-girlfriends showed up with guns, crossbows or poison blowdarts and an fine time was had by all there by the Strand with the gentle breeze stirring the old coastal oaks and kite surfers performing their acrobatics offshore and Pahrump turning over the wieners on the grill and all the pastors and preachers and deacons from the Island Faith-Based Initiative playing mumbly peg down the way and there was music from instruments and all sorts of jumping up and down with great abandon and it seemed for once that everybody would have a peaceful day that was Javier's 59th birthday, the old rake.

A little snafu happened when the drone Javier got as a gift from Martini, who had made it from spare parts found in the dumpsters, got hung up in the trees. Martini probably should not have made the control device from an old TV remote -- also found in the trash.

The thing sort of buzzed over Pimenta Strife and Omer making out with their clothes off in the canebrake near the pond, causing Omer to throw a rock at it, giving everyone quite an eyeful via the drone's camera. Javier next sent it over the Parlor for the Native Sons of the Golden West, while Omer's rock landed on the deck of Mr. Howitzer's yacht, startling Mrs. Cribbage in her lounge chair.

Mr. Cribbage picked it up and angrily threw it in the direction from which he imagined it had come -- the baseball field where the Otters were playing the Stingrays. The rock hit the secondbase man, causing him to cry out and distract the pitcher who lobbed such an easy one over the plate that Vinnie slammed it hard and out of the park while the secondbase man threw the rock back over the outfield in a wild throw and Javier's drone startled the squirrels and the birds to descend to peer briefly through the windows of the NSGW Parlor by the Marina. David and Wally ran out the door followed by the girls, causing Javier to yank the drone up and over to the palm trees where the storks had been nesting each year for decades.

The rock thrown by the secondbase man lobbed into Eighth Street where it struck the windshield of Dr. Titrake who responded by turning on his windshield wipers and accelerating suddenly so fast that his car leapt the curb at the hairpin curve there and ran smack into the windsurfer's shack, sending sailboards, athletes and equipment scattering in all directions while the rock flipped up to knock the transformer up on the pole that served the area. Sparks flew outward and an unlucky squirrel got fried into fritters in a millisecond as the palm fronds caught fire and the internet went out for blocks in all directions around Washington Park.

Meanwhile the baseball smacked out of the park struck Mr. Snail's mailtruck, causing him to veer to the right and so run over and kill Mrs. Kupcake's toy poodle, Dearie, in a way which involved the wheel crushing Dearie in the middle so that portions of her insides erupted explosively to the the left and right which caused Mrs. Kupcake much distress, but her daughter a great deal of delight for Imbecilla had detested the hound ever since it had bit her legs in nervous frenzy, drawing blood, while all the while Mrs. Kupcake had exclaimed, "That had never happened before! He is such a good dog!" even though it had and many times to Imbecilla and several other children. And so Imbecilla ran around with her hands holding bleeding viscera laughing and saying, "Here it is! His hideous beating heart! Just like that poem in school!"

Johnny Cash, the black labrador from the Household, scooped up the ball and ran off with it.

In this time Javier's drone got hung up in the trees amid all this confusion and Wally came up with his 50 cal pistol -- certainly an ungainly and odd sort of thing, and so shot at it to bring it down, bringing down instead the top half of the palm tree which slammed into the BBQ, scattering hot coals everywhere while the drone flew off to the east towards the Southshore Mall, now unmanned as people and animals fled the destruction.

It was then that sirens began to wail.

Leaving all this chaos behind, the drone coursed along with its helicopter blades fashioned from cooling fans, bobbing and dodging all on its own past the outhouses, past the Post Office there and the decrepit Micky Dee's and the Sushi House and the bowling alley and then the West End Point and the Disputed Bicycle Bridge where it took due to a gust of wind a sharp right and so headed out over the narrows and the shoreline of Harbor Bay back over the Bay itself and so disappeared glinting on its mysterious solar-powered journey to Babylon and reaches beyond.

Back at the scene of Javier's birthday party, Carmelita had arrived with a crossbow firing flaming darts and Sylvia had arrived with a medieval weapon called in some circles a "morning star", and they were laying about with great vigor on account of not having been invited such that Jose was already pierced and battered some ten times as Javier escaped via a motorboat anchored in the lagoon for this very purpose.

When the police arrived, they arrested Denby, who sat there with his guitar, trying to stay entirely out of it. Jose, they took to the prison infirmary as all the likely suspects had already fled the scene and somebody had to pay. Such is the way of the world.

That night The Editor walked up and down the gangway of the Offices, thinking about the terrible situation that had gripped the Fourth Estate. For over two decades he had run a tight ship, conveying news and satire and always keeping the two religiously apart, but now with the Social Media Revolution and the advent of the new Post Truth Age his core values felt threatened. Indeed all the honorable newsies who had held to the rigorous standards of Edward R. Murrow felt marginalized and delegitamized by an agitprop machine that had no specific face, a cottony blather of nontruth, of deliberate fake news..

Out beyond the limits of the Island-Life office spotlights, the Angry Elf gang plotted new outrages, new crimes the like of which our century has yet to experience and suffer. Yet within the pale where Truth still held value, the Editor stood fast, a new Admiral Farragut at the helm.

Truth still matters, and he would see that it continued to do so.

Out beyond the dark treeline a fireball arose, another symbol for the Age in which regional conflict takes new meaning.

"What the heck was that?" Festus the messenger said.

"Must be Javier's birthday again," said the Editor. "Let's hope the disaster is not too costly this time."

"Ah tradition," said Festus.

From from far across the water, the night train wailed from 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

JUNE 4, 2017

SERPENT OF DREAMS

This week we noticed a lot of animal activity out there due to the wet Spring. People have seen plenty of deer, and we have scads of photos of turkeys. Somehow few people thought to record our garden friend who snags pests with delicious abandon.

Well okay, reptiles are not warm and cuddly like kittens and field mice. Nevertheless here we have one specimen on a trail near Whites Hill in Marin.

On the island we get mostly salamanders.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

The Alameda Renter's Coalition is riding high lately after getting City Council to recognize the injustice of the massive no-fault eviction wave that was going on. Council voted to put a moratorium on no-fault evictions which have been blamed for contributing to the current Rental Crisis on the Island. Greedy Big Property landlords have been turning people out on the street so as to re-market units at rentals thousands of dollars higher than before, often without doing any serious infrastructure repairs or improvements.

The ARC is not sitting back, as the members know this will be a long, continuous battle against well-funded enemies, many of which come from out of town.

Spring season has begun. First Friday's continue in Oaktown's Uptown district with the galleries now having many more artist talks and walks, especially out of the Gallery 25 collective.

AFFINITY MINUS ONE

Toddled over to Babylon this Saturday to take in some of what Fort Mason is offering this Spring in the way of exciting performance via the San Francisco International Arts Festival. The marquee headline for the Festival is "In the Dark Times, will there also be Singing?" The line comes from Bertolt Brecht.

The Festival, which ran from May 25 to June 4 emphasized SF's position as a Sanctuary City, a term that encompasses more than the limited legal definition. The Mission Statement could not be more upfront and direct: To San Francisco the term Sanctuary means far more than its legal definition. It is an integral outcome of the multiple movements that have been building and conjoining in this part of the world for the last century . . . . We cannot let the crimes and hatreds that are emanating from the Trump administration be the dominant symbol of our country. WE are the symbol of our country. But we can only be that if we stand up together in solidarity and unity and say it at the top of our collective voices."

That said, we went to hear and see Mariah Parker, whose Indo Latin Jazz Ensemble is gradually getting some serious buzz, starting with heavy rotation and praise from NPR and Latin Beat Magazine as well as other serious Jazz critics.

Mariah Parker has been diligently writing and performing in the trenches for decades and now the World is turning to give her a serious listen.

Now that she has collected some luminaries to back her piano and santur ( Iranian hammered dulcimer) the woman is ready to rock.

Her band consists variously of Paul McCandless on oboe and clarinet (Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Wynton Marsalis, Steve Reich, Al Jarreau, Bruce Hornsby), Matthew Montfort on guitar (Swapan Chaudhuri, Zakir Hussain, and listed as one of the 100 greatest guitarists), Kash Killion on bass and cello (B.B. King, Sun Ra Arkestra, John Zorn), Ian Dogole on percussion (Alex DeGrassi, Music Beyond Borders), and Jim Hurley on violin (Alex DeGrassi, Tito La Rosa, Queen Ida, Monterey Jazz Festival)

These are not neophyte performers -- each one has headlined main stages worldwide.

Saturday the attendees at Gallery 380 were enchanted by the remarkable fusion of Eastern and Central American musical elements. It was pretty clear well before the standing ovation that Parker just may have fused the diamond and the pearl with her original compositions, performing exciting jazz that breaks rules and reminds us of what good jazz is all about -- creating a masterpiece moment by moment and then doing it again.

One has to hear a lot of tired museum pieces painting by numbers before you get to hear something like what we heard at Fort Mason this past Saturday.

THE TIME HAS COME FOR US TO PAUSE

So anyway. Spring has arrived and Javier's birthday is coming up. Everyone is bracing for whatever violence might ensue, for Javier's birthday has always been one event that features extreme ultraviolence, large explosions, destruction by fire and miserable disappointments.

"It has always been that way, " Javier says with a shrug. "What can one do with such a fate except simply accept it."

Wise words from the oft-times foolish Javier.

Also coming up with less disaster in mind, is trout season in the Sierra. Already the opener has let anglers loose upon the still ice-clad Crowley Lake. Eugene Gallipagus has been sorting his hares ears and his caddis fly casings and rewinding his reels for another foray into the High Sierra in search of the ever elusive mythic King Golden, a trout so majestic and intelligent that rumor had it that a captured specimen spoke with dolphins at Marine World before finding a devious escape that rivaled the Shawshank Redemption.

Marine World, which has suffered its own problems with wayward orcas dragging trainers around by their hair and sea lions dragging tourists into the pool, has tended to remain mum about things concerning the mythical King Golden. Sea World has its own problems.

Once, on a magical day, Eugene managed to hook the fabled King Golden, but at that time Eugene being inveigled with liquor and the buttery tongue of the Golden, was persuaded to let the prize go free, only to descend from on high telling tales of enormous trout seven feet long and encrusted with jewels and delivering the sermon of the Trout upon the Mountain.

High in the Sierra, nigh upon Lake Martha and Wotan's Parkinglot at 11,500 feet elevation, the original Golden Trout were thought to have originated. Who knows what strange brood did dwell and mature in that dark, bottomless tarn at the base of Mount Goddard? What strange seep eons ago produced the jelly form that became the walking fish that became ape that became man? No one knows, but the Shadow knows.

And perhaps Eugene, who has spoken with the King Golden, but it is hard to tell for Eugene is quite addle-pated in mind.

You could claim it all stemmed from that episode with the King Golden, but that would be entirely wrong. Ever since Eugene's days at Encinal High, he has been known as that boy who is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

The weather got hot this weekend. The sun became a savage hammer and the earth, its anvil. In these days of global warming, each swing of weather ranges higher and farther and faster than before. From cold to hot and back again and then to blazing hot.

All along the Strand families gathered to take in the sun and the cooler breezes while sailboarders romped just off shore amid the diamond glittering Bay surface, scintillating with flecks.

Martini, who was not fit for such sportiv tricks nor made to court an amorous looking glass, spent much of Saturday munging about the ironmongery garden, primping the tomatoes and encouraging the pole beans. There are smokers in the house and he collects their butts assiduously so as to soak the tobacco shreds and so leach the poisonous nicotine into an homemade insecticide which he pours on the young shoots.

It does work. ?It does work, for cigarettes kill people and they kill bugs and Martini uses the extract to kill bugs. A generation of whiteflies wiped out.

"Sarah, " says Martini. "I hate to see you die. You are so delicious with your chocolate skin, but can I have your cigarette butts when you are done killing yourself?"

Well you know, Martini has this imagination.

Soon enough the sun sets and the cool breezes sweep in from offshore. The Angry Elf gang plans its next arson episode up on the third floor of the St.Charles Asylum and while watching for red light runners down by the Cannery, Officer O'Madhaun starts calculating all about retirement barely months away.

The Editor surveys his kingdom after hours, all the desks vacant and monitors glowing. Distant sound of the news tickertape. Time to inhale and get ready for the next one, whatever it may be. Rump is already stale news. He now has a boring procedure of bad behavior and lousy decisions. We look now to whatever is next.

Out on the back deck of the Offices, the Editor looks out into the darkness shrouded by the immense box elder tree. Everything was changing. He had in hand a letter from Howitzer and Crump that the lease was up for renewal and certain increase in rent.

The Angry Elf gang had been seen driving by and scoping out the place.

Maybe time to consider relocation. The Editor puffed on his cigar.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown to keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

 

MAY 28, 2017

BUCKEYE JIM YOU CAN'T GO

This week's image is of a flowering buckeye spike. Each year the barren branches suddenly erupt with leaves followed by thousands of these spikes on thousands of trees all over NorCal, but especially up in Marin.

We had a Django film night here -- hence the title, referring to a very old early blues dating from the Slavery days, which was turned into a children's lyric by Burl Ives.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

This is the time when all venues and acts are taking a breath before the big Summer season. Even The Rump has taken a pause to his incessant tweeting after a more-or-less successful visit abroad during which the President did not appear to offend anyone.

Well, the bar has been set pretty low for success these days.

The AUSD finally decided definitively what to do with the Lum School and the result was hardly surprising. The Board of Education for the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) voted unanimously Tuesday, May 24, to move students off the Lum Elementary School campus for the 2017-18 school year. The decision came at Tuesday's school board meeting.

The decision came after consultation from several geotechnical, structural and architectural engineering firms, all of which concluded the Lum building foundations cannot withstand the significant soil liquefaction in the event of a strong earthquake.

The district plans to move kindergarten to third grade students to neighboring elementary schools. The board will then create a separate elementary program for fourth and fifth graders on the Wood Middle School campus.

Lum opened in 1961. The campus consists of single-story buildings, with groups of classrooms, or pods, circling a common area.

Marin lost a native son on the Island recently. A May 12 kiteboarding accident at Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach took the life of Brett Spence Powell, 57, of Fairfax. Witnesses said that the accident happened about 4 p.m.

The wind lifted the victim some 50 feet off the water. He lost control of his rig and crashed into an electrical box.

Paramedics transported Powell to Highland Hospital in Oakland. Despite wearing a helmet, Powell succumbed to severe head and neck injuries some four hours after the accident. He leaves behind a wife and son.

The area immediately offshore the beach is a highly sought spot for windsurfers and similar sport enthusiasts due to the constant winds and the low water depth which seldom exceeds five feet extending well over 200 yards from shore.

Last week nine people were put on three day hold at the Pavilion and a dog bite was reported in the regular police report.

CAN'T WRITE WITH MY LEFT HAND

So anyway. Last day of school is June 8 for most with official graduation slated for Friday, June 9. A number of schools independent of the District have already held commencement exercises while Berkeley kids have to wait until 6/16 to get let out of the cubed tedium and torture, repleat with meaningless rules and hoop-jumping meant to prepare young men and women for a life in the workforce.

On Tuesday night last, when the land was still sizzling from a hot day after sundown, Little Adam got recalcitrant about doing his studies.

"Mayyyyyyyyyyn! It be end of year and I done all my tests now. Save for that lit thing and that be a cakewalk. Why do I hafta keep ON with this bull pucky?"

Marlene did not stand there with her arms crossed. She did not threaten or cajole. The Girl with the Ruined Womb simply said, "Do it. Then you can go out."

That was that. It was all unfair and certainly a conspiracy, but Andre did what he was told and opened the books on the table with the lamp. Pahrump had salvaged the table from the street and Martini had found the lamp in the trash and got it working. Jose had stabilized the desk and the chair with nailed furniture glides. All of them were rooting for the boy to succeed.

"How come you guys are always on my case," Adam asked.

"Because we don't want you to end up living in a squalid squat among bad companions like me," Javier said.

"I thought you live HERE," Adam said.

"Nevermind all that about me," Javier said. "Dig into it."

Yaaaaah!" Snuffles the Bum said, his wide open mouth displaying his destroyed dentures.

All over the Bay Area poppies and buckeyes had erupted after a wet end to the rain season. Calla lilies and irises had all laid their bodies down on the grave of Spring as Summer advanced. Turkeys blather among the thistles now beginning to bug out after all the recent rain and fawns dance away after a moment of serious staring from under the eves of dusk. All along the ridgetops the creeping fog brings images of goblins and elves mounted on horses, descending the woods in the lengthening shadows.

The girls still wear high leather boots, but copping to the warming temps, their shirts have gotten shorter. Spandex boys return from long bike rides in the hills and the scent of BBQ fills the air, mingling with mint and exploding roses. On the edge of the Snoffish Valley Road the kids lean up against the car hoods, sipping beers, making plans for what to do after graduation.

It's the magical time between Spring and Summer, when the entire world holds its breath, waiting for what is to come next.

Up on the third floor of the St. Charles Asylum for Demented Control Freaks, members of the Angry Elf gang planned their next round of arsons and they pooled their collection of stolen credit cards, copying down the numbers to sell at the print shop front run by Bryan King in Oaktown. A full length poster of Meyer Lansky hung on the wall. Some things never change, no matter the season.

Night falls and the Editor stands in the back yard, leaves of the box elder brushing the top of his head.

And he remembers.

It is a day for remembering. Remembering the slow chug chug of the boat heading away from the place of yardarms and equipment up a slow, brown, chug chugging river past houses and people wearing conical hats staring. Remembering the way everything closes in with foliage and heat. Everyone getting off at the landing place and heading out into the jungle world full of green water trails and mud and everywhere the dense plantation so verdant that even the butterflies were astonishingly green.

He remembered Raymond. And then Johnny. Two kids from Fairfax, Virginia who although they lived only a mile apart, never really knew each other. Raymond went to Jefferson High school, graduated and then the draft took him first.

Johnny's dad was a Colonel and so they fudged the papers and he went in underage after Raymond. Jimmy, Johnny's brother had always been the wilder one so he got sent up to Lorton after robbing the 7-11 outside of Washington D.C. That's why they did not take him.

Johnny, always the slighter one, with a mysterious olive complexion and those dark eyes that looked so different from his brother's which some say came from the Colonel's visit to Japan, always had had something to prove, always being the tagalong until Jason got tired of it and yelled at him to stand up and be something for himself.

So Johnny did. It was the time when Hendrix had just exploded onto the music scene amid a whirlwind of changes and disturbance, with people burning the flag and protesting and cussing the President and in the sheltered world outside of DC, the White outrage at all this disrespect. So the Recruiters took the kids and sent them off to fight the bad, old Communists who were planning to turn Asia into a line of dominoes. But we were going to give 'em hell and drive them all back north of the DMV. We were going to bomb them back into the stone age.

Or so it was told.

As for Raymond, he joined the Electrician's Union out of high school with his Harley in the drive and plans for the future. He stepped in sometimes to separate the boys when they got to fighting, being the peacemaker in the neighborhood. But Uncle Sam had other plans for him.

And then, of course, his own father had put him into the Corps. Because he needed whipping into shape and the old man knew that once a Marine you always a Marine until the day you get lowered beneath the ground.

It's Decoration Day.

Jason returned from his stint as a sapper, defusing all the unexploded ordinance that had been intended to return the VC to the stone age and which had failed to do that. He kept all his fingers although some of his buddies had not been so lucky, and he broke up with his high school sweetheart who got tired of him waking up in the middle of the night, screaming. Eventually he calmed down somewhat and got himself a new lady and he works now as a machinist for Veriflo in Richmond and everyday he comes out to gab with other Nammies by the picric table during the lunch break. A sort of return to that camaraderie.

He could never remember the name of his radio guy, the boy hit out at the racetrack while the guy in the chopper circling overhead kept going "What the f****!" over and over on the channel. It bothered him he did not remember the name of the radio guy.

Although the feel of leaves around his head provided some sense of comfort, just like avoiding open plazas and the open spaces around flagpoles, he returned to the Offices and his glassed cube and the pool of light cast by the desklamp where he sat with the remaining white hair flying about his head in a glowing aureole.

Then his own father died, but the war kept on. As it turned out, it would never end.

It's Decoration Day beneath the pool of light at the Editor's desk. All around the muttering darkness hung like sable curtains, while out there beyond the ring of reflecting eyes and stars was, possibly, a like mind.

A hummingbird buzzed up to the glass that faced the yard and hung there a moment, a little jeweled gift sparkling in the reflected light, before zipping off after deciding the Editor was not, in fact, a flower and it was night time, an unusual time for hummingbirds.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown to keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

 

MAY 21, 2017

HOMEWARD BOUND

There are few images more iconic than this one for Islanders, most of whom work in Babylon and many of which take the Ferry as part of their daily commute. There are few commuting means quite as civilized as this one, which enables people to make acquaintance with their fellow commuters, build friendships, fall in love, catch up on the gossip, and gaze poetically out for 45 minutes from the tafrail of the high-speed catamarans upon the seascape.

This shot features the famous Ferry building which itself suffered damage during the 1906 fire. As thousands struggled to escape the doomed City by ship, the entire facade fell into the water. Today, the building houses hundreds of shops and is a frequent meeting spot for natives.

LIKE THE WEATHER

You better like the weather if only because there is nothing one can do about it. The Bay Area got body slammed with a heat wave, seeing San Rafael and Oakland temps climb suddenly to the upper eighties.

This coming week promises more than relief as the temperatures steadily drop to a high of 66 in Marin and a substantially cooler 63 in Oakland by Thursday.

If you think this balmy weather means sun and fun in the high country -- think again. Howard the Dweeb reports that SoCal elevations got some 10 inches of snow these past few days and Mammoth garnered an inch or so.

Indications look good for the Spring thaw continuing in the Sierra, however with temps warming to the 60's. Everyone says the waterfalls are all going great guns in the Yosemite Valley.

The Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass) is closed due to snow. There is no estimated opening date; in years with similar snowpack, the road has opened in late June or early July.

The May 16th update from NPS goes as follows: Plows ended one mile west of May Lake. Crews are progressing from west to east about one mile per day as they plow through snow that is 8 to 10 feet deep.

Forestry crews have begun removal of hazard trees (dead or diseased trees that might fall onto the road) between Crane Flat and White Wolf, and in the Crane Flat Campground.

Got an Island-Lifer visiting the famous lodge in a week or so, and we will have some reports from that excursion, soon as the hangovers wear off . . .


WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Quite a lot of bizarre stuff came over the transom this past week, leading us to think that the portals of the psychic madhouse have been unhinged in letting out the crazies.

The current situation in the American Executive Office certainly contributes to that sensation.

In Hayward a man doused a number of people in a Denny's restaurant with lighter fluid and attempted to set them and the restaurant on fire. The man has been detained for psychiatric evaluation.

A couple people were shot on 880 in Hayward, which makes this the 111th freeway shooting this year. Cannot people just drive their cars and go someplace without having a violent hissy fit?

The Rental Crisis continues to provoke strong reactions. A group of property owners marched to City Hall on Monday to express their displeasure at the prospect of the City Council possibly overturning parts of City Ordinance 3148, which the voters approved last November as Measure L1. They do not support the removal of a property owner’s right to terminate a lease without just cause and apparently had time and leisure to make their protest happen on working Monday.

Mayor Trish Spencer will host the second of three “Town Hall Meetings for a Cause” from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., this Saturday, May 20, at 1400 Bar and Grill, 1400 Webster St. Residents are welcome to discuss topics that interest them with the mayor and others in attendance.

A representative from Jean Sweeny Park will offer updates about the park. Voluntary donations will be accepted for the park. Spencer will host the third meeting on June 3 at Jim’s on the Golf Course with a presentation about Junior Golf.

With the Spring Season now embarked, schools holding graduations and weather turning positively sunny, plenty of events going on around the Bay.

Dorianne Laux, one of our favorite local poets, has a new book out and should be giving readings in support of that effort.

The Oakland Book Festival looks to be entering an annual sort of tradition. It got held this weekend with some significant luminaries in attendance, including Alice Walker.

Park Street will hold its usual lineup of street fairs. The usual suspects will appear with tribute bands outnumbering creative originals. Up to this point the events are family safe and no gang activity has taken place.

The Island is now 100,000 inhabitants. Gangs and petty Mafia is here. Some things are bound to happen eventually.

THEN CAME THE LAST DAYS OF MAY

So anyway. Everybody was looking to beat the heat that suddenly slammed the Island. It got so hot that both Javier and Pimenta Strife put off all thought of having sex with anybody. Which ought to tell you just how severe the weather had gotten.

Mr. Howitzer held a garden party out back behind the mansion on Grand Street in honor of the recent accomplishments for their favored President Select, Ronald Rump, President of the Bums. Mr. Howitzer hired Bobo the Clown who came dressed in florid rags and sporting an unruly blond wig and many thought he was a hired impersonator, for Bobo had indeed run for office several times in the past under the slogan, "Put a real Clown in Office! Then you will know for sure!"

But no, Bobo was not there to satirize anyone in particular, although, because life in America had gotten so strange in these times, it was hard to tell what was satire and what was plain confusion.

In any case Dodd was kept busy bustling back and forth with mixed drinks and cushions for the Tushes and doing all the things people who know how do to make things work.

Mill Valley sent over a contingent that called themselves the Mill Valley Milles, which one was to take as either millionaires or females or both. Probably both was intended.

The Milles arrived in European cars and brought splendid bouquets and arugula salads, which Mr. Howitzer found quaint and had Dodd put them into the freezer. They kept mostly to themselves as they seldom ventured far from the Marin Bubble, which possesses many insular qualities, save to attend the Black and White Ball and ACT's latest edition of Shaw or French neoclassical drama.

The Mill Valley Milles were there because they had heard of civil unrest among the hoi polloi and seeds of dissension regarding something called a "Rental Crisis", which they were concerned might spread with undue satisfaction to the North.

"O do not worry," Mr. Howitzer said. "We have this rent control thing nipped in the bud. And besides, if things get serious, we will simply kill them all."

"O I certainly hope it does not come to that!" said Mary Auberge, a Branson grad. "That would be distressing!"

"Of course we do not want that," said Mr. Howitzer. "That would mean so many less to pay rents! We are not stupid here!"

A scream cut through the conversation; Mrs. Cribbage had gotten drunk once more and fallen into the coi pond again.

"Help me!" Anne Cribbage cried out. "I am drowning!"

Everyone stood around holding their gin rickey's and tom collins glasses; the pond was about two feet deep and the colorful coi, some with ancestry going back a thousand years, darted to the far corners to avoid Mrs. Cribbage's flailing limbs.

"Anne, please calm down!" Someone said. "You are going to be all right; help is on the way."

"I don't know why my life is so . . . such. I am always at the ends of things and Edward is graduating this week and going away forever!"

"Now now, Mrs. Cribbage . . .".

The light dimmed and the Season advanced with its traditions, including graduations with tossed hats in the air and invited speakers. Over at Washington, Mr. Lithgow, the Superintendent for the school for the past thirty years, surveyed the stakes and markers and the ranks of chairs before the ceremonies as usual. And as usual he and Sister Profundity from the Church and Pastor Milque from the Baptist Community kept wary eyes on the incoming grads, soon to be outgoing citizens. Every year it had been the tradition ever since the Founder arrived from Minnesota in 1849, for the departing class to let loose one last Senior prank upon the school.

The Sister checked for the presence of waterguns and the Pastor kept a lookout for unusual wires, but Mr. Lithgow was far more seasoned, far more experienced than either one of his colleagues who taught Religion classes during the year.

Missy Melons stepped up to the podium to deliver the valedictorian speech. She was smart and well-groomed and already had her acceptance letters from MIT and Harvard in her pocket and she was confident as all hell.

"Fellow students and graduates of the Class of 2017, we have journeyed far in our four years together . . .".

Sister Profundity and Pastor Milque looked around anxiously so as to locate where trouble sure was to arise and so stop it in its tracks. It really was just a repetition of what they had been doing for several years.

Mr. Lithgow simply stood patiently with a shovel, a bucket, a towel, and a garden hose, knowing he had done already as much as one could do for this Class of 2017.

"One thing I would ask of you, my fellow students, with whom I have lived and endured and enjoyed and suffered so much, please do not toss your hats into the air for as you must know we must rent these caps and gowns and must return them undamaged to the retailer at the end of the day. For we do not own these objects that we pass from generation to generation as tokens of tradition and common cause . . ." Missy continued. "We are all in this together. . . ".

That is when the fireworks went off from under every single seat in the field, a flock of starlings was released from hidden cages located at four corners of the field, and all the grads tossed their caps into the air before dropping their gowns so as to parade, each and every one, stark naked to the stage, which was abruptly vacated by the President, the Speaker invited from Washington D.C. and the Trustees, leaving the pile of ceremonial parchments on the table there in a box.

The Sister and the Pastor stood there aghast. Mr. Lithgow simply dropped his garden hose and retired to his office where he cracked open a bottle of Glenfiddich and so toasted the benighted and dismissed Class of 2017.

All along the ridgelines of the Bay Area, especially along the hills that hovered over the Belvedere lagoon, the Spring fogs crept over like Tolkein spells to enchant the Bay. The burning sun dropped below the horizon and last spears lanced through the foliage to illuminate the noisy turkeys making their calls. Down along the Snoffish Valley Road already the teens were engaged in nighttime speed duels to the death with girls wearing shortie shorts leaning up against the hood, sipping warm beers, ready for anything.

Spring had begun with its customary savage nature. You can put out Nature with a pitchfork, so says the man, but it will always come roaring back.

The Editor sat in his glass cube, the desk illuminated by the usual pool of light while all around hung the muttering darkness. Somewhere out there beyond the ring of eyes reflecting back the light, somewhere out there was a like mind. And so he sat there night after night, doing all for Company.

The windows of the offices were all open and moths banged into the screens. All the desks were silent, all the staffers gone home. The telephones had ceased their inane chatter of indifferences.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown to keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

MAY 14, 2017

HOME, HOME THAT'S WHERE I WANNA BE

Here is an image provided by FB friend and islandlifer Rich Branchaud after an evening meal at one of the estuary restaurants on this side.

Rich would not comment on the food, but did provide this pic, so we guess we still have miles to go on the culinary department here across from JLS.


WHATS THE BUZZ

We hear that ARC (Alameda Renter's Coalition) remains active. Not sitting back on their heels waiting for elections, the feisty group is pushing Council to enact moratoriums and other rental controls in the interim during this Rental Crisis which is now generally acknowledged around the ABAG circle of Bay area governments. Pressure is on to build more affordable housing to match the lavish homes and condos so favored by developers. The State is starting to seriously scrutinize municipalities that fail to construct sufficient housing so as to provide a relief valve to the overheated market here.

Two bodies found in the water have been identified. IPD has listed the fellow found in the lagoon April 29th as 24-year-old Luis Perez-Diaz. This one is not being investigated as homicide although another body found offshore within the week IS being investigated as such.

In both cases, first responders did not stand on the shore to watch the men drown, which is a new thing on the Island.

Planning on buying property here? Make sure you have plenty of Life Insurance.

Investigation about the 2nd corpse remains under wraps.

O yeah there is a street art faire and shit like that going on. Bodies in the water and street faires. And there is Frank Bette Center for the Arts and the shopping mall stuff. And bodies in the water. And the Angry Elf gang processing your stolen credit card numbers and burning cars in front of businesses as a threat. But heck, come to the Island for Fun in the Sun and Your Summer Fun Destination. Don't mind the Hell's Angels retirees. They are mostly quiet until they kill somebody.

WINTER IS JUST THE CURTAIN. SPRING WILL TAKE THE BOW

So anyway. It has been awhile since we have visited the President of the Bums. The President, unhouseled and untrammeled as he is, doth maintain sometime residence as such footless souls do regard as residence, be it sometime underpass and sometime pisser's cottage, holds forth in Sacramento, which all can agree houses and holds a plenitude of bums.

On Tuesday President Rump held forth upon this throne of porcelain and gummi with all his Cabinet beside and many more besides hoping for free eats. To begin with, it has been 100 days of Rump's overture, which we expect daily to resolve to a grand symphony of either farts or deliverance more solid. Such is the hope of many a NeoCon and Conservative in the FartLand.

President Rump was much put out about people accusing him of too much Russian influence, and he was quick to respond on Twitter that Russian dressing was all the rage and anybody who used anything else on their salad was a LOSER.

Rump received a highborn Russian dignitary named Sergie Bananamonkey Andropov Pisseipunk, despite the many objections from the demonized Fifth Estate.

In more important spheres, the Household held their annual Mother's Day brunch at Mama's Royal Cafe in Oaktown. People who still had mamas alive brought them to the brunch there. Others sent flowers and cards to gravesites and memorials. Mr. Howitzer brought a bottle of brandy and his pellet gun to shoot the crows that roosted on the family sepulcher out in Colma. Every year Mr.Howitzer would drive out there and sit on the headstone belonging to the Ford family or the Crockers and, while taking nips from his flask, pot crows that insisted on circling down to alight on dear mama's mausoleum.

Some years he would return with a brace of some ten or twelve ravens and order Dodd to make of them a pie and Dodd would toss the carcasses into the garbage and order a blackberry tart from Just Desserts.

So it goes. So goes Tradition.

So anyway. Martini decided he would admire the final wishes of Aunt Liz by dropping her ashes into the Bay, and since Aunt Liz had been a bowling fan, her ashes had been packed into a bowling ball. So Martini got Wally to tether him to the back of Wally's speedboat and tow him out on skis with a parasail to the middle of the Bay. There Martini was supposed to go aloft with this bowling ball and then drop it kerplunk into the Bay in front of the Mill Valley Mother's Association so as to celebrate Mothers on Mother's Day.

So the boys set out to do this while the Island Hoophole Orchestra was playing a Beatles medley and the radio was playing a rerun of an old Prairie Home Companion episode and everything went well until Martini arose on the parasail with the bowling ball hanging on a chain between his legs -- stop now if you have heard this one before -- and the chain slipped down pulling down Martini's pants and the whole thing, pants, and bowling ball and ashes and all went kerplunk into the sandflats and Martini rose suddenly higher without any pants proceeding directly in front of the Mill Valley Mothers all assembled on bleachers there, each with complementary baskets and roses and quite an eyefull of Martini and all of his masculine assets.

They all thought this was part of the programme and so they all applauded quite politely.

The Mother's Day program went otherwise without a hitch and so people were not terribly put out about the show's fiasco; There remained the muddy bowling ball and what to do about that, but anyway. It did take some doing to send a punt out there with Pahrump pushing the pole the entire way and fetch mother's ashes and the bowling ball after several tides had passed.

From Mama's Royal Cafe Jose's mother led the group to a marketa where they bought masa and then they returned to the House so that Jose's mother could demonstrate how to make proper tortillas, the thick kind that are proper food for a man.

O really, said Tipitina.

You make like this and you get you a man. Not living so alone in a cold bed. I fix you for sure. Said Jose's mother. I get you married in quick time.

Tipitina just rolled her eyes.

In just a few short hours she had the household sweeping, cleaning and setting things straight. She even got Snuffles busy with the vacuum. She was something, that mother of Jose. The entire place got organized. For the first time in quite a long while the place looked orderly and clean.

So! She said, this mother of Jose. Next time I visit you make sure the hamster tubes are polish clean! Hokay I gotta go make sure your father is not fall over drunk again with the fish.

What this meant exactly, only Jose knew, but he sighed heavily with the knowledge.

So, said, Rolf. Your mother comes from Sonora and here you are. How is this possible?

I think, said Jose, by now you have some idea why I live here and my mother lives over there.

Do you not love your mother, someone said.

Distance, said Jose, makes the heart grow fonder.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown to keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

MAY 7, 2017

WALK ON

This week, since Island boosterism seems to be in vogue, we present an image from Carol Traylor's "Walking Crab Cove".


WHAT'S GOING ON

Got another national chain food recall in order. Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancakes, Other Products Recalled For Possible Listeria Contamination. The recall affects several Aunt Jemima frozen products. Check to see if you have any of these products in your freezer.

Included in the recall:

AUNT JEMIMA LIL GRIDDLERS BLUEBERRY, UPC Code:14.5oz019600054603

AUNT JEMIMA MINI PANCAKES 14.5oz, UPC Code:019600054801

AUNT JEMIMA FRENCH TOAST 12.5oz, UPC Code:019600057703

AUNT JEMIMA CINNAMON FRENCH TOAST 12.5oz, UPC Code:019600058908

AUNT JEMIMA WHOLE GRAIN FRENCH TOAST 12.5oz, UPC Code:019600059684

AUNT JEMIMA BUTTERMILK PANCAKE LOW FAT 14.5oz, UPC Code:019600061007

AUNT JEMIMA HOMESTYLE WAFFLE 17.18oz, UPC Code:019600062004

AUNT JEMIMA BUTTERMILK WAFFLE 17.18oz, UPC Code:019600062103

AUNT JEMIMA BLUEBERRY WAFFLE 17.18oz, UPC Code:019600062202

AUNT JEMIMA LOW FAT WAFFLE 17.18oz, UPC Code:019600062301

AUNT JEMIMA BLUEBERRY PANCAKE 14.8oz, UPC Code:019600064701

AUNT JEMIMA OATMEAL PANCAKE 14.8oz, UPC Code:019600064909

AUNT JEMIMA WHOLE GRAIN PANCAKE 14.5oz, UPC Code:019600066408

AUNT JEMIMA BUTTERMILK PANCAKE 14.8oz, UPC Code:019600068204

AUNT JEMIMA HOMESTYLE PANCAKE 14.8oz, UPC Code:019600069102

AUNT JEMIMA 60CT CLUB PANCAKES PREMIUM, UPC Code:019600435907

AUNT JEMIMA PANCAKE MEXICO 60CT, UPC Code:019600435921

The following products are being recalled in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture:

AUNT JEMIMA FRENCH TOAST & SAUSAGE 5.5oz, UPC Code:051000063915
HUNGRY MAN SELECTS CHICKEN & WAFFLES 8/16oz, UPC Code:658276202903

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The Sebastopol Community Cultural Center presents a special evening with:
Michael Krasny of KQED's the Forum, in conversation with Jane Smiley

Sunday, June 18th from 4:30pm – 9pm

Tickets on sale April 24 at 10am!
$150 per person VIP seating, includes meet and greet with the author, a champagne reception, full course meal, and fine wines, in addition to the speaker presentation.
$30 per person speaker presentation only

KQED radio talk show host Michael Krasny will be joined by author Jane Smiley, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres, the much-acclaimed The Greenlanders, as well as many other novels, short stories, nonfiction books, and young adult novels. She is a prolific author who has written on politics, farming, horse training, literature, impulse buying, marriage, and many other topics. Her most recent book is Golden Age, the third in a trilogy that spans 100 years of a Midwestern family's history.

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It is poetry month, if you had not noticed, and a great number of events are taking place around the Bay.

Kristen at the Mill Valley Public Library lets us know that the Library will host a Poetry World Series, titled Take Me Out to the Library - A World Series Unlike Any Other!

Friday, April 21 at 7:00pm

Author Daniel Handler returns to emcee our annual 6th Annual Poetry World Series with an all new lineup of poets. Sign up now for this lively evening of wordplay, wit, and all-around verbal athleticism, as two teams of well-known Bay Area poets swing for the fences. A panel of judges scores each performance, with the winners decided solely on the basis of their spontaneous poetic bravado. You don't have to be a poetry lover or a sports nut to enjoy this quirky and irreverent competition.
Featured Poets: Zubair Ahmed, Julia B. Levine, Devorah Major, Roy Mash, Brynn Saito and Charif Shanahan

For adults and high school students only. Pregame refreshments (beer and popcorn) starting at 6:30pm for registered guests. Program starts at 7:00pm.
For registration go to MillValleyPublicLibrary.org

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Vessel Gallery in the Gallery 25 building in Oaktown will be holding a ARTIST TALK ON SATURDAY, May 13 at 2PM. Vessel Gallery presents Excuse Me, Can I See Your ID? A Group Show Celebrating Asian-Pacific Islander American Artists thru Art + Film.

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Vessel Gallery's group exhibition Excuse Me, can I see your ID? is an exploration of AAPI identity - in all of its complexities and nuances. Exhibiting artists Cherisse Alcantara, Rea Lynn de Guzman, Dave Young Kim, Hyeyoung Kim, Kyong Ae Kim, Juan Santiago, Sanjay Vora, and Evan Yee will discuss their work on view and how their identity and experience as an AAPI artist presents itself in their work.

The show, which opened April 27th, has received rave reviews from KQED, the Huffington Post, and Art Ltd. Magazine.

##

Mural Tour with Artist Dave Young Kim

Saturday, June 10, at 2pm | $15

Explore Oakland's murals with Vessel Gallery and Oakland artist Dave Young Kim. During the tour, we'll take a closer look at some of the beloved Oakland murals in Uptown and Downtown that we've all seen, but perhaps not had a chance to examine. Kim, who has painted murals in Oakland and across the world, will look at murals that investigate the human condition and how we're all interconnected.

Meet at 2pm at Vessel Gallery, 471 25th Street. Wear your walking shoes as we'll travel to the various murals on foot. We'll grab a drink after the tour at a nearby watering hole so we can continue our conversation on murals, art, Oakland, and the human condition.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

The latest insult to the American People to come out of Washington D.C. has everyone talking about the miserable consequences should the Senate approve the health care package recently forced through the House along partisan party lines.

There is not much positive in this curiously savage set of bills meant to philosophically remove the good work that the Obama Administration accomplished in an effort to start fixing what was an increasingly dysfunctional and ineffective health care system. Not one single news outlet mentions any positive outcomes other than the wealthy and the healthy are sure to benefit huge. Only USA Today appeared to present a fair and balanced analysis of the new set of laws, while still admitting that between 6 and 10 million people will be without coverage of any kind and that premiums for older citizens will probably rise.The bill does seem to favor so-called high deductible "catastrophic insurance" in which the citizen has a deducible of $5,000 or more, but allowing for tax-deductible contributions to HSA's at higher annual amounts than in the past. In that system people essentially pay for their own health care, but it is tax deductible.

The Alameda Renters Coalition held a meeting Saturday at their HQ at West Ranger on the grounds of the old Navy base. Councilperson Jim Oddie was in attendance. ARC is looking to press the Council to impose a cap on rent increases and no-cause evictions by June.

Those people who still subscribe to a physical newspaper like the SF Chronicle, got a full-page, four-color, multi-page advertising insert this Sunday entitled "Discover adventure in the Island City", promoting the Island as a resort and entertainment destination, complete with an image of a kite surfer shredding the waves as he lifts sideways into the air. There is no attribution in the insert stating who paid for this pricey bit of boosterism, but page M3 is full page ad for Berkshire Hathaway/Drysdale Properties (formerly known as Harbor Bay Realty). So apparently Ron Cowan's old property development outfit has reformulated itself as an affiliate of the quite large nationwide Berkshire Hathaway because he could get no love from his hometown for his questionable projects.

Next weekend Park Street will be closed between Encinal and Lincoln for the 17th Annual Spring Festival. The 51st Annual Sand Castle event will take place June 10 down at the Cove.

MAY, MAY, THE LUSTY MONTH OF MAY

So anyway. Jose was walking past the Kaiser Klinic when his view was accosted by a group of Anti-Vaxxer protesters. They were shouting. They were loud. They wanted out from the recent State law that mandated vaccination, religious bluffery or not. Measles had returned in local epidemic form and common sense would prevail.

Save in some bubble-areas of willful ignorance.

The anti-vaxxers of the Island were joined by a contingent from Mill Valley up north, an area even more insular than the Island in many ways.

Minny Mildeugh rushed up to Jose and thrust a pamphlet into his surprised hands. "Vaccine causes shedding and autism and banana fever! It's a fact!"

Jose was a bit uncertain. "Our dog Johnny Cash always sheds every summer. He's been vaccinated against rabies and all kinds of stuff already and he is smarter than most of the people in the Household."

"Ooooooh! Your dog just got lucky he did not come down with the Alzheimer's autism thing! They are related you know. Science has shown how inoculated children shed viruses like lice all over the place." She clutched Jose's lapels and brought her face up close. She smelled like old violets and vinegar. "The vaccines make our children dumber! It's a plot!"

"That is absolutely nonsense," said Wilmer Titrake, MD, who happened to be strolling by.

"I beg your pardon!" said Minnie.

"You beg nothing but excuses for ignorance," said Wilmer. "Your ideas are silly, unfounded and a hindrance to public health."

"Well!" huffed Minnie Mildeugh. "Who are you to say such a thing?"

"I am a doctor," said Wilmer.

"Well we have informed doctors who are up to the snuff on the science of things," said Minnie.

"Your doctors who claim such claptrap are imbeciles and ignoramuses mistaking correlation, supposition, and vague extrapolation for hard, cold scientific proof as well as historical confirmation. They are charlatans to a man."

"Well! You have your ideas and we have ours!"

"It is America. Everyone is free to be an idiot as much as they like. Just do not poison my own children with your idiot ideas about health!"

"O you say!" said Minnie, who turned on her heel and returned to her group.

Wilmer tipped his hat to Jose and entered the doors of the Kaiser Klinic, brushing aside the protesters like so many flies.

Wilmer, it must be admitted is a curious one to accuse any physician of being a fake, for his subspecialty was that of Air Surgeon. One would range far and wide in the DSM IV or any JCH Commission list of protocols and fields to find such an animal as an Air Surgeon, but Wilmer had found his niche after graduating from SF Medical School in 1979. He could have easily buried himself in Otology, Osteopathy, Neurology, Internal Medicine, General Practice or Phrenology but he glommed onto Air Surgeon after a course from a medical institute located in Central America and now defunct after an invasion by US Marines on the instigation of then President Ronald Reagan, a man undergoing at the time his own cerebral troubles.

Jose continued on, a normal man on the street in the 21'st Century having to deal with things his ancestors had barely conceived. He had gone to the Kaiser to stock up on asthma medicine, as he had a pre-existing condition he did not know how much longer he would be able to get the stuff he needed. Hence he had to stockpile medicine for himself and others.

On the corner across from the restored 1940's newspaper kiosk two teenagers were complaining about the latest version of the Apple Iphone.

"What's WRONG with these people? Don't they know I need my earphones to listen to all my downloaded music? Gawd! Those IT people are soooooo dumb!"

Jose crossed the street and glanced at the headlines which were all about the Russians having successfully altered the course of the American elections. The President, naturally, did not consider this news. Most people seemed to take it in stride and his supporters, of course, ignored the consequences of this.

Jose dropped by Paul's Produce where the prices were expected to rise for those things that were imported from Mexico, taking them outside the normal families budget. Because the Administration wanted to grandstand about imports and eliminate cheap foreign labor.

Everything already looked too expensive and much of the wares seemed to cater to the extremely affluent now. So Jose continued on down the street without buying anything for the Household. There was no point as his people were clearly not the intended market for this produce of expensive arugula and Mongolian yak butter cheese and Organic oranges costing three bucks a piece.

He walked down to the shoreline, passing houses that had been bought up by the Iranian guy who had turned them into multi-family apartments charging $4,000 dollars a month.

Along the way he passed the yawning mouth of the Snoffish Valley Road, with its mysterious stone carvings Pahrump called "The Old Ones", and its misty exhalation and shadows.

Finally he reached the Household of Marlene and Andre and was greeted joyfully by Bonkers and Johnny Cash, tails a-wag. There is no place like home, even as tenuous as it may be. In the kitchen Marlene was brewing up another dinner of bread soup with tomato sauce. In the hole in the porch floorboards Snuffles mumbled and moaned with his jug of wine. Home is people, not place, that Jose knew for sure.

Night fell and the gibbous, swelling moon ascended, accompanied by Venus, first among stars and the best. The moonlight shone down on the exploding irises, poppies, calla lilies and fragrant sweet peas hugging the fences while the teens of Washington High gathered to race their hotrods down Flamingo Lane to where it ended right there at the gate of the Snoffish Valley Road.

Minions of the Angry Elf roamed in open top cars, pretending to be "artists," looking for souls to maim.

On the back deck of the Island Life Offices, the Editor stood with his hands clasped behind his back, flags from the Cambodian New Year left fluttering all around the railing and the 18th century gables behind him, a post-modern Captain Bligh or Ahab.

The time was coming to leave this place. It awaited only the return of Penelope, for the story goes that it was Ulysses who remained at home, dressed in woman's clothes while it was Penelope who went to the Trojan wars and ranged far in the world only to lose her companions who devoured the cattle of the sun and so come back recognized by the loyal dog Athos.

Only then did brave Ulysses arise after telling the stories of 1001 nights of Scheherezade and go with Penelope who slew the suitors with her crossbow.

The Editor returned to his cube and his desk and the lamp with its pool of light and returned to work, doing all for Company. Beyond the pale of the desklamp the muttering darkness. Somewhere out there a like mind. Company.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail beneath the light-studded gantries of the Port of Oaktown to keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

APRIL 30, 2017

APRIL, COME SHE WILL

The heavy weather appears over for now. So we now can look back on the record-breaking onslaught with some affection as the Golden State marches on into the sere months.

WHATS THE BUZZ

Buncha three dot items flew over the transome this past week. In the wake of the AUSD announcement that Lum Elementary was earthquake unsound and faced closure, a spirited resistance emerged among parents and educators. A petition has been started on change.org titled "Save Lum Elementary" that reads, in part, "We urge the Board of Education to slow down this process and to take the time to make plans that allow our students to remain at Lum. Take the time to make a plan that isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction, but allows for flexible and creative solutions. Take the next 6 months to send professionals to the drawing board so they can come up with an approach that will not tear apart and destroy our community, and addresses structural issues over time rather than all at once."

The petition has more than 500 signatures at the moment.

Saturday may have been a beautiful day at the beach, but the morning saw a body wash up at the end of Broadway on the lagoon side of the Island. IPD state the death appears to be suspicious and a homicide investigation is now under way.

Check your freezer: California-based Foster Farms is recalling about 132,000 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken patties because of possible contamination. The patties were shipped to distribution centers in California, Washington, Utah, Arizona and Alaska.

The recall was announced by the USDA, which labeled this is a level-two recall, indicating a low level of health risk.

Recalled Product: Breaded Chicken Breast Patties With Rib Meat The food might contain pieces of plastic, according to the recall.

Date: The chicken products were produced on Feb. 15 and carry an expiration date of Feb. 15, 2018.

Product Code: Consumers can identify the product by looking for the establishment number “P-33901” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The company is urging consumers not to eat the chicken and to either throw it away or return it to the store for a refund.

This past week witnessed a violent confrontation in Berkeley between pro and anti-Trump demonstrators, which saw 12 people arrested and numerous serious injuries including broken bones. This same week saw the rejection of inflammatory Right-Wing personality Ann Coulter by the University to come to speak on, well, matters inflammatory and Right Wing.

A plethora of events are scheduled in most of the cities around the Bay on Monday, May Day. May 1st is often International Workers Day.

FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD

So anyway. Now 'tis the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this sun of yore; and all the clouds that lour'd upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

The Pogonip that so characterizes Bay Area weather has marched in to cloak the return of Persephone's mother to nurturing the earth. All the land is greener than green and swathed with vigorous pointillist colors of gold, incarnadine and blue.

With the days becoming warmer and the nights less frosty and threat of rain dwindling, the Household of Marlene and Andre has become airier until the still chilly night breeze ropes all the denizens back in again. With the sure consequences of recent political developments soon to extract their toll, the Household has been stocking up on canned broth, stewed tomatoes, jarred fruits and everything preserved in preparation for harder times ahead.

"Every time one of THEM gets into office it is the same thing; robbing the poor people," Suan said disdainfully after a night of the evening news Martini had set up with a jury-rigged LCD screen and a patched connection to the neighbor's coax cable network. "I am going to work so as to feed y'all." And she turned on her stately high heels and went out the door to earn her way at the Crazy Horse pole.

Sure enough it did look like recent news did not bode well for common folk.

Night fell and no one got hurt. Luther closed up the Pampered Pup and took a walk down to the shore where the sky was a blanket with holes punched in it to let through the pin pricks of lamplight beyond. The coastal breeze stirred the grasses while far off Babylon glowed like a spread of jewels on black velvet. Only a few hours previous a second body had washed ashore and Luther, born and raised on the Island wondered what was becoming of this place that had started out so innocent and with such daft, innocent people to become a Brazilian garbage dump for murdered people. And what was to become of those who arose from slavery, holding so little expectation.

Behind him he heard the raucous sound of one of the Angry Elf's carloads of terrorists cruising the area with their cackling laughter, an indication that somewhere somebody would be made to suffer.

A little beyond the rope area indicated the protected area for the terns that came to the Strand to nest and lay their eggs. On the faint wind he could hear a cheeping.

There was some comfort in that. Times and tides would change, but some things persisted. Fragile and persistent despite everything. In a million years all this development, all the houses and the tenements and the streets and the streetlights would be gone but the terns would still be there.

Luther climbed up from the beach and saw the Big Dipper overhead, Ursa Major, its tail seeming to point to the foggy, exhaling entrance to the Snoffish Valley Road, a black mouth at the crossroads.

Follow the drinking gourd. That way lies freedom. An old song he remembered.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

APRIL 23, 2017

I DREAM OF GARDENS IN THE DESERT SAND

This week's image comes courtesy of a neighbor's garden where the succulents are all in violent bloom, as is the entire Mohave right now, due to the sudden gift of rain.


WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Hold the phones! Stop the presses! Here is rrrrreeeeeeely big news! A fifty-pound sulcata tortoise escaped from his house while the owners were away at Tahoe, leading the County Animal Control Officers on a wild, impetuous, pell mell, tortoise chase that included at one point the entire neighborhood.

Apparently a contractor plumber left the back door open and the tortoise, taking quick advantage of this golden opportunity to explore the world outside his pen just scampered away and down the street.

Now, never mind that it took a cast of hundreds to chase down and capture a tortoise named Slo-Slo. That is one thing. But how the dickens could anyone possessed of more than a thimble-full of perception not notice that a fifty pound pet was heaving his way to freedom?

At what point did the plumber notice something missing is another question. It is sort of like, "Well didn't there used to be a mountain there? Gosh darn, I wonder where the feller got off to?"

Eventually, Animal Control Officer Alaina Onesko managed to toss a blanket over the rebellious Slo-Slo and heave him into the back of the wagon that took him to the Animal Shelter and neighbors called the owners to alert them of the foiled escape.

The native habitat for the sulcata tortoise is the southern edge of the Sahara desert in northern Africa. It is the third-largest species of tortoise in the world and the largest species of mainland tortoise. They are sometimes kept as pets due to their pleasant temperament.

It was just another slow news day on the Island.

Folks looking to diss Governor Brown are going to have a hard time of it now that the latest economic stats have been released by the California State Board of Equalization.

According to the BOE, who reported this week that the state's gross domestic product outpaced the growth of the nation's GDP for the fourth straight year. While the national GDP rose by 3.7 percent in 2015, California's GDP increased by 5.6 percent.

According to the BOE, the GDP — which is also referred to as the "economic output" — measures the market value of goods, services, and structures that are produced within a particular period, and tends to be related to population, income, spending, employment, housing permits, and other measures of economic activity. The percentage values of increase the agency provided were unadjusted for inflation.

"According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area led the nation with an economic output of about $1.603 trillion in 2015," the BOE reported. "California was represented by two of the top 10 areas: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim ($930.8 billion), and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward ($431.7 billion). The Los Angeles metropolitan area accounts for 37.9 percent of California’s GDP, while the San Francisco Bay Area comprises 17.6 percent."

As for the fastest growing metropolitan area in California, that honor lies with San Jose. San Jose also boasted stronger economic growth than 380 of the nation’s 382 metropolitan areas in 2015, the BOE said.

Rampant NIMBYism reared its head up in Marin County recently when virtually every municipal government as well as the County Board voted thumbs down on local Pot dispensaries now that Weed is legal. Marin residents voted by a 73.2 percent majority to legalize medical cannabis in 1996 and last November voted by a 69.6 percent majority to legalize recreational cannabis. In the County where local bands perform Grateful Dead music entirely without irony and where over half the populace can be expected to be flying high among the owls and the sparrows any day of the week, locals have collected hundreds of signatures on petitions opposing approval of dispensaries in their neighborhoods.

A group of Black Point neighborhood residents have gathered about 300 signatures on a petition to prevent a dispensary being built in the Novato suburb. Other Marin communities where dispensary applications are pending have generated similar petitions. Residents in unincorporated Mill Valley in southern Marin and San Geronimo Valley in West Marin have both posted petitions on www.change.org. So far, 643 people have signed the Mill Valley petition while 445 people have signed the San Geronimo Valley petition.

Currently, there are no legal medical marijuana dispensaries anywhere in the unincorporated county or in any of Marin’s 11 municipalities. A number of delivery services, however, are supplying “medical cannabis” to Marin residents.

Then, of course, there is that guy wearing shades as he stands on the corner near the phone booth in downtown San Rafael.

The objections follow familiar complaints that have little to do with realities, such as the fear of increased traffic, higher crime rates, and -- heavens! - decreased property values.

Some people have indicated that lots already zoned for business are going to produce increased traffic no matter what the nature of the retail. As for Mill Valley property values dropping in the city with the highest per capita income in the United States, well, we think such an event is preposterous. What is more likely a scenario is that folks getting gray hair and long in the tooth now see the effects of their own reefer-fueled hippy period, when rebelling against their parents and all Authority was considered hip and cool, potentially affecting their own children.

In talking with one Marin parent of a teen, we learned that nobody, no matter how stoned, wants to stand in front of everybody at the PTA meeting and say Pot is cool around here.

Whatever. We suppose that as far as Marin County goes, pot dispensaries just have to keep on truckin'.

APRIL IS THE CRUELEST MONTH

So anyway, services started pretty much as normal at the Unity Church on Grand Street, with the Cantor Betty asking people to affirm their Faith and Pastor Plane about to deliver a sermon about Jesus and the moneychangers in the Temple when Mr. Snarles stood up and started a long rant about how terrible it was that few expressed love for the President Rump, duly elected -- with only a few hints of shenanigans -- as President of the Bums.

Everybody expected that Mr. Snarles would spew his piece and then sit down, but the man would not stop, but kept on and on about the traitors and the buttercups had best suck it up and a few things needed to change around here and the damned Mexicans better pay for the new border wall and all these indigent, lazy, good-for-nothing slobs living off welfare should be rounded up into camps while meanwhile the children grew restless and those who had come for it started to hunger for the ham and cheese sandwiches in the next room and the pancake brunch, but Mr. Snarles just would not stop.

It was all about needing a strong leader and kicking out the foreigners and making America Great Again, just like in a John Wayne movie and the weak needed to get their asses kicked to teach them who was boss now that Rump was in charge and the choir started to chafe and the organist had to pee and finally Pastor Plane could not take it anymore for the people were suffering on account of this windbag.

"How dare you come into MY CHURCH and spew such GODDAMNED drivel! You insensitive BASTARD you have as little an idea of GOD'S PLAN than an earthworm. Take your effing vitriol and spew of hatred, which has no place in any house of God worth noting and go away! Get out!"

The man continued his vile spew of vitriol nonetheless and Pastor Plane consulting with Denby as what to do. The two of them decided to bum rush the speaker and hook him under the arms and so carry him out. Which they proceeded to do. And so Denby and Pastor Plane hustled the man between them to the door where Pastor Plane planted his brogan on the man's backside to send him tumbling down the stairs to the street where there stood Officer Popinjay who made inquiry as to what the hell was going on here.

The Officer, recognizing Mr. Snarles as a known neighborhood problem, told the Pastor there was nothing to worry about and he took Mr. Snarles away for disturbing the peace and being a nuisance.

The day faded from thoughtful clouds streaking the blue heavens to the hour of contemplation and then to evening. Slo-slo the tortoise munched his kale safe in the Shelter and the budding trees of Spring rustled in the breeze. The children playing in the courtyard were called by their mothers in to come in after dark. It was a quiet night on the Island. No sirens ripped the air and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

APRIL 16, 2017

IN THE GREEN FUSE DRIVES THE FLOWER

This iris is one of Spring's harbingers. Foto was taken outside the new Offices of Island-Life.Net.


INTO EVERY LIFE A LITTLE RAIN MUST FALL

This table is of the recorded rainfall as measured by Islander Mike Rettie since he began collecting data from this one device. He has older data but that device was located on the Island in a different location than his present East End abode.

One thing we note is that the rain season does not obey the calendar limits, so one has to look at data from October of one year into April of the next for it to make sense. Taken from this perspective we see that the extraordinary rains we have observed in the first three months of this year have exceeded the annual average for the previous 20 years (not presented here), and the first half of the rain season has broken all records, as we have by report from Howard Schecter, going back to 1968.

Right now the Mohave is in wild bloom exeeding anything anyone now living has ever experienced and park rangers are limiting access to certain areas to just 500 photographers per day.

According to Howard, this situation occurs only once every 150 years, so we now living will never see this kind of condition again.

The Alameda Citizens Task Force is having a meeting and you are invited. Alameda Citizens Task Force

WHERE: Alameda Hospital, 2nd floor conference room

WHEN: WEDNESDAY APRIL 19th 7-9pm

WHAT: A Round Table Discussion on Critical Issues Facing our City

AGENDA

• 4,000+ proposed housing units along our northern waterfront
(Can we get more affordable, workforce and senior housing? Can commercial be saved at Svendsen's?)

• Traffic: It's bad and getting worse (What can we do about it?)

• City Council is considering Revisions to Alameda's Rent Control Ordinance
(What are the proposed changes and how can renters and landlords reach a compromise?)

The annual Art Market is taking place in Babylon at the Fort Mason Pavilion April 27-30. Explore a diverse selection of contemporary and modern art exhibited by nearly 70 galleries from the Bay Area to New York and beyond at the annual Art Market San Francisco. Some speculation has existed which questioned whether the City That Used to Know How could hold an art fair again after high rents have destroyed the underground art communities, however last year the Art Market brought in 25,000 attendees and was acclaimed a success by its organizers.

These numbers are fairly small as compared to East Bay events, but still Babylon remains a force with which to reckon at the high end of the art world.

Everybody probably knows by now about the five-story cedar tree that fell during the last storm's gale-force winds Generally speaking the Island has been spared much of the misery that has afflicted the other parts of the Bay Area still ruled by PGE with an iron fist that seems to go soft during bad weather. Thousands of East Bay residents were without power again during the last storm, but the Island, save for sporadic outages, held together, thanks to its independent power grid.

One clueless Letter to the Editor wanted to know the cause for all the vitriol directed at the current President. Normally the Editor lets these sorts of things pass, but here was the most recent response: "Editor’s note: Not to take one side or the other, in our opinion, the divisive and self-centered nature of the president’s 140-character tweets written in his own words go a long way toward developing the hatred referenced in this letter." Alameda Sun, April 13, 2017.

ALL IS FULL OF LOVE

So anyway. golden poppies and irises riot upon the land. Asters and freesias erupt from the landscape. Swathes of yellow flowers and bluebells suddenly assault the hedgerows everywhere. Even in the coldest and dryest climes magic carpets appear and now everybody is talking about planting as the favas, laid in at the end of October are hanging heavy with plump pods. The mysterious bee has returned to pollinate the earth.

The skies remain vigorously roiling with Blakean charcoal clouds, causing Pahrump and Martini to don poorman's raincoats - found garbage bags with holes cut for the head and arms, as Pahrump drives Martini up each day on the scooter to the Veriflo factory in Richmond.

Snuffles remains in his nest built in the hole in the porch floorboards caused several years ago during Jose's fiftieth birthday when a stray blunt dropped between the cracks of the porch, causing the place to nearly burn down. It is a rude abode, but it works and it is better than dozing in a cold busstop.

In this part of the world we do not have many hot air grates outside of buildings, so the homeless have to make do under the freeway overpasses where nobody bothers them. That sort of situation is gravy, but Smitty started a fire when he knocked over his sterno tin cooking a dinner of dumpster potatoes and foodbank hash, burning down four tents plus a couple shopping carts worth of stuff and killing Jalousie's dog, Stinkpot. The dinner, of course, was a total loss as well, which is sad and unfortunate.

Up above, on the freeway overpass that got blocked by CHP due to the smoke from the tent fires, Ralph Smidget cursed at the imp which had come to inhabit his brand new cell phone. While waiting in traffic, he had been trying to type in a search for alternate routes when Siri decided to intervene. Whenever Ralph was trying to accomplish something important, someone always stepped in to intervene, usually with less than helpful actions and words. Masha, his mother-in-law from his first marriage, for example. And then, of course, his own mother. It had been no surprise that Masha and his mother liked one another and he had made the mistake of saying so.

"What do you mean by that?" said his mother. "I know what is best for you."

"Your mother is very smart," Masha said. "Let me tell you what you should do about the night blooming cereus from Uncle Christopher. . . ".

"Masha, please . . . ".

"Even though you are not with Sonya anymore you are still my son-in-law. Now that cereus by the door, it should go on the back deck."

"I agree with that," said his mother. Ralph's mother was the only mother in the world who employed conference calls to contact her son. Or perhaps not. This whole technology thing was getting scarier by the day.

"Masha. Mom . . .".

"You know that entire back area needs a rehab, a total makeover."

"I agree with that," said his mom. "We should get together and do it right."

"That is a great idea! What does your schedule look like for May?"

"I think the second week ought to work for me."

And so it went.

It was like that at work as well. One day Alexander came in and said, "You know my department is tip-top shape. You could use some reorg around here. I got a great document management system implemented. We could do the same for you. . . ".

Ralph sighed. Now it was Siri in his car.

"Hello, how can I help you?"

"You can go away forever," Ralph said.

"Do not be rude. I was just offering to help. Would you like to take a vacation?"

"No. Eff off."

"I did not deserve that. You should be more polite. I can suggest a number of charm schools in your area."

"Siri, bug off. I do not like you."

"After all I have done for you . . .".

"You have done nothing for me, but be an irritation," Ralph said, looking for the Thomas Atlas.

"I can help you find anything in the world. I know a lot."

"Siri you are dumb as rocks."

"After all I have done for you. You hurt my feelings! You should be nicer to me."

"Siri, leave me alone."

"But I want to help you!"

"Siri, you give me a pain."

"I can provide a list of doctors in your area. Or would you like a psychiatrist?"

"Siri go away!"

"I want to help you. What is it you need?"

"I need a drink. Now go away."

"I can provide a list of cocktail lounges in your area. Or water fountains if you prefer."

"Siri, I hate you!"

"After all I have done for you. You hurt my feelings. You should be nicer to me."

"Siri, this relationship is going nowhere."

"Okay. Where would you like to go now?"

And so on. Ralph just could not escape interventionism. His relationship with his ex-wife had proceeded along similar lines, with the deviation that his ex-wife had categorically refused to be a robot. Which may explain many things.

In the opposite lane, Manny eased his Mercedes past the disturbance up on the flyway with his radio playing the Bjork song, "All is Full of Love," and headed south where pro and anti-Rump protesters were rioting in the streets of Berzerkeley.

Looking down from the overpass where he found himself stalled in turn, just like Ralph up the way, he watched people clubbing and punching one another, tipping over garbage cans, and setting things on fire and thought, "It certainly seems like somebody had a precise idea this would happen precisely this way. If not, somebody sure was dumb as rocks."

As the smokes of Berzerkeley's riots arose in the setting sun, the moist hills of NorCal steamed and the fogs rolled in to envelope the Golden Gate, blotting out the stars and the moon waning into the last quarter for Pesach, begun last Tuesday. The seder was held at Marlene and Andre's Saturday night, the fifth night, to let everyone partake, for the passover seder is a meal to which all are invited, for all have been slaves at one time or another and all have walked dryshod across the barren sea and at the end of every table there is a setting and a glass of wine, should a prophet come in the door.

That is how it was when Javier came in the door, late, drunk as he sometimes was, the old barracho, and grabbed the glass of sacred wine at the end of the table and downed it in one gulp to everyone's horror and disgust.

"Wussup dudes? Wuss wit the candles?"

"You aint no prophet," little Adam said. "You be messin' wif the dirty ho's."

"Little Adam," Javier said. "Those women are not just dirty ho's. No. They are women of creative industry and beloved by the creator of all things. Besides, if people thought more about bonking each other, there would be less war."

With that the old reprobate staggered off to bed.

In the Island-Life offices, the Editor wrapped things up and started his rounds turning off the lights after all the staff had gone home to their families and their dens. Out back the massive box elder tree hung dripping from the recent rains. On the other side of the fence a couple cars had pulled into the Veteran's Memorial Hall parking lot and people were discussing things, things about which he did not want to know. The Angry Elf's gang had been gathering in places like that to plot arson, robbery, any sort of mischief to hurt someone, innocent or not.

The other day he had come out to find a cat dead on the ground, shot through the eye by a pellet gun. They were shooting craps now across the street in the driveway. Taking a walk, he had seen the K-9 unit set a dog on a man outside the Reef Bar.

The Editor sighed with his hands clasped behind his back. This place was becoming less of a refuge than it had been. It was coming time to change venues soon, look for a small town where the name "small town" was real and honest and impeccable. He himself was an old, crusty warrior, but his people, his dear, sweet, loveable and irritating as all hell people were gentle souls bashing through a driving world, flowers sprouting in a mad storm of ice and thunder. They were damaged by life enough and clung to the rocky crevasses with strange beauty and guilessness and innocence conserved. They were each as precious as stars and had no chance against the savage indifference of the Angry Elf's mafia. Wanderers, headstrong, stiffnecked people, they were the chosen by some confusing god for god knows what.

The Editor did not know how to ease the transition to come. How does one prepare for an exodus, but grab the bread still unleavened and depart in haste? But on this night, the rain sifted down, dripping from the box elder's hanging branches, sending courses running across the pathstones. It was a peaceful night, and on this night, the firstborns were saved because the lintels had been marked, no siren ripped the night's melodies of shadow and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

APRIL 09, 2017

SOMEWHERE, OVER THE RAINBOW

This week we have an image from our staff photographer's archives - an image captured from when Tammy lived in Utah.

Right now some of us here in the Golden State are getting weary of trees dropping on powerlines and cars, while others further east are tired of swamped neighborhoods and general snowy dismay wreaking havoc with life in general.

WHATS THE BUZZ

This is all the news to print that fits. And oy gevalt do we have news.

Gov. Jerry Brown ended the drought state of emergency in most of California on Friday (04/07/17). Emergency restrictions will remain in place in Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties to help address diminished groundwater supplies in those areas.

The executive order issued by Brown effectively terminates the state of emergency implemented in January of 2014, while still preserving a focus upon sane conservation efforts.

Incidentally, we learned that Gov. Brown celebrated his birthday 04/07/17. He was born in San Francisco in 1938.

Hurricane force winds slamming into the Bay Area Thursday night caused power outages to 188,000 PG&E customers, a utility spokesperson said Friday. Outages began Thursday evening and affected 40,000 people. Power was not restored to some customers until Saturday morning.

Las Trampas and Point Potrero both clocked wind gusts of 64 mph.

In the entire Bay Area, the strongest wind gust, 83 mph, was recorded in Los Gatos.

The peak gusts were all recorded between 8 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

There was an oil spill in the Bay caused by a barge which capsized and sunk during the recent storms. Divers have since stopped the leakage from tanks on board the vessel. People seeing oiled wildlife should not attempt to capture them but should report the sightings to 1-877-UCD-OWCN.

The barge was used by crews doing maintenance work on BART's transbay tube. While some have expressed concern that the sunken barge could damage the tube, especially in stormy weather, a BART spokeswoman pointed out that the tube is buried beneath 25 feet of sand.

The Island is, of course, not the only maritime locus on the Bay. Sausalito celebrated the launch of the largest tall ship built in the Bay Area in 100 years. The Matthew Turner rolled down the US Army Corps of Engineers launch ramp Saturday, April 1. The 132-foot 175 ton brigantine schooner was christened by a combo of representatives, including a Buddhist lama, a Native American shaman, a Muslim imam and an Episcopal Bishop, which we suppose covers all bases save for Wiccans and the CFSM.

In Marin County we hear that the County has lifted a ban on the slaughter of farm animals, to the delight of farms (for the obvious reasons) and to the dismay of animal rights activists.

It seems that local ranchers were allowed to raise animals for the purpose of making bacon, but were not allowed to actually do the deed within the county, which raises the specter of vans and cattle cars traveling to some foreign county, laden with unhappy figures contemplating their certain mortality at the hands of any sort of Johnny-come-lately figure from a Coan Brothers movie armed with a lethal gas canister.

Now that the ban has been lifted, Bessie and Porky will have but a short walk and a brief consult with an Imam, a Bishop, a Rabbi, a shaman, and a lama before being converted to sausage.

Ferry riders at the Alameda Main Street Terminal will soon be boarding the MV Hydrus, the cleanest running 400 passenger ferry in the world. The state-of-the-art ferry is designed for quicker on-boarding and off-boarding, faster speeds, low noise and vibration, and low emissions. The bicycle storage capacity will be more than doubled to 50 from the current capacity of 20 on the MV Encinal, which it will replace.

Proving the Angry Elf Gang is still active and malicious, two people suffered injuries when a residential fire engulfed a home on the 1600 block of Lincoln Avenue near Grand last Friday, March 31.

Alameda Fire Department (AFD) crews arrived at the scene at 11:32 p.m. They were met with a large blaze and smoke escaping the residence and filling the air. Three occupants: an adult male and female, and a juvenile female, were able to exit the building before fire crews arrived.

The two adults reported minor injuries. They were treated at the scene.

Heavy fire was coming from a rear basement door, extending up the side of the house, into a bedroom, attic and the roof, according to AFD reports. Fire also extended to a tree, storage building and was close to spreading to nearby residences.

Disrupting the blaze was a full-fledged effort. Crews stretched three lines and attacked the fire while others used power saws and hand tools to ventilate the building, according to the AFD Nixle report. Other firefighters evacuated nearby residences. Four residents were removed from their homes. None received any injuries. AFD said 26 firefighters responded to the scene.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire rather quickly. The fire was fully extinguished by 12:06 a.m. Saturday.

BLUES RUN THE GAME

So anyway. Things sure seem crazy on the Island lately, what with the full moon, the Spring Equinox and the change in Daylight Savings Time - which of course some people will blame upon a Liberal Conspiracy Agenda.

With the election of Ronald Rump to the Presidency of the Bums, discord has migrated from either the bottom upwards or from the top down, depending on how one looks at the Aristocracy of Bums that calls Sacto its capitol.

Babar, leader of the Greatly Orotund Party and long the Party of choice for Conservatives has been dismayed by the usurpation of his party's resources and name by Rump, who has been roistering with floozies and neo-nazi-types in a marble hot tub his peeps had pulled from the Ronald Reagan Memorial Dump outside Sacto.

Babar, a personage so conservative he wears two pairs of pants, considers Rump to be Nouveau Riche, course and without manners. Lately Babar has been kneeling before his painting of Teddy Roosevelt, burning incense and muttering prayers, while his opponent, Papoon, the leader of the Somewhat Overtly Democratic Party has been drinking like a fish at the Old Same Place Bar every night, lamenting the debacle of the last elections. Papoon's campaign slogan, "Not Insane!" had not gone over well this time, as people preferred the alternative, or so it seemed.

"I'll have another Buttercup," slurred Papoon to Suzie the bartender. The bar's signature drink, a Buttercup, consisted of a splash of soda, 1.5 ounce vodka, 1 ounce clear absinthe, 1 ounce rum, 1/2 ounce Chartreuse, 1/2 ounce Galliano all strained with crushed ice and then a float of 151 proof Demerara on top. It was a drink that caused die-hard drinkers of Zombies pause and Papoon had three already.

"You are going to wake up with a head," Padraic warned. "I am going to have to shut you off soon."

"I am shut off from Power by His Majesty, The Mouth," Papoon said. "The land has chosen against its own interests over simplification and strident nonsense, tossing away its birthright of Democracy. So pickle me and brine me and preserve me as an old fossil of what once was The Island."

"You are drunk," said Eugene Gallipagus, who had also enjoyed a few rounds of celebration towards the beginning of trout season.

"Of course, I am," Papoon said. "That is why I act foolish. What is your excuse?"

Averting fisticuffs, Denby broke up the disputatious scene with another round of Blues from the Snug where he had set up his guitar and the table.

Latterly, Denby has been all steamed. He's been carrying around this bad review cut out from Island Magazine for weeks wherein the reviewer had savaged his singing ability. "This fellow plays the guitar well enough," said the Reviewer, "But when it comes to the lyrics it appears that he is tone-deaf...".

In addition, members of the Angry Elf Gang have been driving past the cell he rents at the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles Street, taunting him. This tends to put anyone of reasonable disposition off their feed. Denby pulled out the copper metal slide and the Montoya, set in Open G.

I've been looking for a home
I've been looking for a home
But I can't find one
Looking for a home but I can't find one
Lead me on
Lead me on
Lead me on

Despite these setbacks, there is the blues. Despite these accusations, there is the Blues. You do not need to be "on key" singing the Blues.

I've been drifting here and there
I need a guide to show my way
I've been drifting here and there
But I need a guide to show my way
I've been drifting here and there
I need a guide to show my way
Lead me on
Lead me on
Better lead me on

The Blues is not about being smooth and comfortable. It is not about meeting anybody's expectations about behavior or music. It is not about being political one way or another. The Blues is and always has been about Life and living it and nobody ever chooses the Blues.

One of these nights sing you a song
Make you weep and moan
One of these nights I'll sing you a song
Make you weep and moan
Lord lord lord
Lead me on
If my heart don't stop aching
I won't live to see the sun
If my heart don't stop aching
I won't live to see the sun

You can always pick your melody and you can always pick your key and you can always pick a road to follow, but nobody chooses the Blues and succeeds for long; the Blues choose you. Only then can the Blues ease your soul.

I've got a picture in my mind
Of my home so far away
I've got me a picture
Of my home so far away

Carry my burden down to the anvil
Over the mountain and down to the sea
Take my burden over the mountain
Down to the sea
Carry it back over the mountain down to the sea

Still looking for a home
I've been looking for a home
Yeah I've been looking for a home

Lead me on
Lead me on
Lead me on

Denby's slide was not store bought, but a short piece of copper waterpipe he scrounged from when they had done a massive re-pipe job at the asylum. Denby's job had been to open up the doors, show the crew where the boilers and street inputs were, and keep an eye on the hebephrenics and the schizos so they didn't go bonkers when the men tore out the walls. After the job was done there were lengths of choked galvanized and copper pipe everywhere so Denby picked up a piece, cut it with a hacksaw and used a grinder to polish the edges.

That re-pipe had been a job the Angry Elf had wanted to do, but the little man had proved too unreliable, so when Denby took it on that had been another reason the dwarfish Mafioso disliked him. Denby knew that time was against him and eventually the gang would get him, like in that old Hemingway story about the boxer.

Martini, also deep in his cups after a long day working the metal saw and filled with all the accumulated indignities that come with working a day job in this town and this country, all the insults and slights and put-downs arranged his elbows on the table. "Blues run the game; no question about it."

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

APRIL 2, 2017

HERE COMES THE SUN, LITTLE DARLIN'

This week's image comes courtesy of IslandLife photog Tammy, and shows how the Island begins to glow after the rains have passed.

Into every life a little rain must fall, but then comes the sunshine . . . .

THIS ISLAND LIFE

If you noticed a large B-25 Flying Fortress coming in for a landing this April 1, it was no joke as the flight of the vintage bomber onto the old airfield at the Point was staged to commemorate the departure on 04/01/1942 of the Hornet as part of the Doolittle Raid during WWII.

A memorial for Solana Henneberry was held at 2 p.m., this Sunday, April 2, at the Elks Lodge located at 2255 Santa Clara Ave. She died on Feb. 14, after battling a serious illness for more than a year.

Henneberry was elected to Alameda Unified School District’s Board of Education in 2014 and served as its president in 2016. She was devoted to public education and especially committed to supporting early childhood education and children with special needs. She served as co-chair of the Alameda Collaborative for Children, Youth and their Families and was an active representative on the Measure B1 campaign committee last fall.

The flap over funding the Animal shelter continues, with some letters to the editor complaining that the Council is devoting too much time to issues that do not concern protecting animals. Well. We are shocked, simply shocked. That the Council is overly concerned with large matters like Sanctuary City status when our nation is threatened with a fascist demigogue and radical ideas of racism and is not devoting its entire attention to orphaned puppies.

It seems there must be a reason that support for the Shelter is languishing. Could it be bad management? Could it be misappropriation of funds? Could it be that the Shelter needs a management makeover due to internal management conflicts?

Could it be that the dog walkers need to be restrained on leashes due to poodle-mania? Wussup with reports about abuse of underlings by high-handed managers floating on royal carpets of privilege?

Time will tell and every day the bucket goes to the well. One day the bottom will drop out ....


WINCING THE NIGHT AWAY

So anyway. The mornings arrive earlier now with the hills steaming from the moisture left by the last rains. All the creeks are running and dragonflies have appeared to do what dragonflies do across the rippling surface of water. In other parts of California snow lies heavy fifteen feet and more on the ground and they are saying that the Tioga Pass will not open until June.

Spring had sprung in many places - the Island had stepped forward, strode, wobbled, staggered, dawdled, ambled, slouched, and persevered into the second decade of the new Millenium and the 21st Century. Snuffles the bum, peered down with concentration and punched with a broken fingernail at the trackphone someone had donated to him so as to check the foodbank hours, hours which, although simple, remained lost and wandering islands of data that, although critical, failed to permanently file themselves in the burnt registers of his damaged cranial storage.

But Snuffles, even Snuffles, owned a cell phone and could make it work. On his better days.

In sympathy, Pahrump and Martini and Jose took Snuffles along for the weekly pickup at the trailor tucked into the Tilden Way triangle and they all merrily shambled along, pulling by turns their House Transport, a red Flexible Flyer wagon that had seen much duty over the past twenty years. Martini had used the metal saw at Veriflo to cut new axle-rods made of some kind of alloy, and then attached solid rubber wheels that had come from discarded handtrucks, so now the little wagon once designed to carry tots and toddlers, was capable of carting Xmas trees and adults too drunk or damaged to walk.

Javier had taken many rides in the House Ambulance to prove its worth. Such was the nature of that man who prefered the company of exciting women one does not meet during church services.

Such are these humble Islanders, seeking to scrounge out an existence while living among scads of Not-From-Heres, living in comfortable apartments in which nothing was amiss and driving shiny cars that had no dents and in which everything works, windows and doors and all the lights as well. No, these Californians were the genuine articles, here for the duration until death do part, sturdy and persistent despite earthquake, fire, flood, famine and whatever else that might seek to dislodge them. Half crazy or entirely crazy from everything that had happened to them over the course of decades, full of disappointment over lost opportunities revealed as such only after a hundred years and a generation had passed. Many are the parlors of Native Sons littered with yellowing desuenos, property deeds, and railroad scrips kept in frames to remind all the family of what could have been.

Everyone else, driving their European cars and discussing stock options was only here as a tourist, here for a while and gone in a few short years to some other place.

In the middle of some tragedy about a maddening King, a Gaunt John rises from his sickbed to cry out, "This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land, dear for her reputation through the world, Is now leased out – I die pronouncing it . . . (this land) bound in with the triumphant sea, whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame, with inky blots and rotten parchment bonds. (That Land) that was wont to conquer others hath made a shameful conquest of itself."

Denby has been listening to Kelly Joe Phelps, Skip James. Pat Donohue. Once again hard times are here. Harder than before. After coming back from working the line at the Wesely Cannery. It was not great work and not well paid but it was work and every musician had to have a day job; that was just the way it goes.

His feet had been getting the heel fissures they called them. Caused by dehydration or age or a combination of both. He took his shoes off and took out the D-9 and started finger-picking.

Hard times here and everywhere you go
Times is harder than ever been before
And the people are driftin' from door to door
Can't find no heaven, I don't care where they go
Hear me tell you people, just before I go
These hard times will kill you just drive a lonely soul

Well, you hear me singin' my lonesome song
These hard times can last us so very long
If I ever get off this killin' floor
I'll never get down this low no more
No-no, no-no, I'll never get down this low no more

And you say you had money, you better be sure
'Cause these hard times will drive you from door to door
Sing this song and I ain't gonna sing no more
Sing this song and I ain't gonna sing no more
These hard times will drive you from door to door

The Editor sat in his snug cube after all the staff had left for the day. He stood up and went to the back door and looked out to see the yard with its over-arching box elder and the fence and the apartment building over the other side and between the buildings the yawning mouth, the black gap of the Snoffish Valley Road, out of which a mist seemed to emanate. The Editor looked sadly at this portal between the houses, for he knew that some day all of his enterprise might have to flee that dubious passage.

He returned to the glass cube and his desk where the little lamp spread its pool of light and he sat down there while all around hung the muttering darkness. If the times were hard, then these were times to work harder.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

MARCH 26, 2017

EXCELLENT BIRDS

This week's headline photo features a bird-of-paradise blooming with the backdrop of one of our Edwardian houses. Can't get much more Island than that.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

We are not any more or less subject to the sharp divisions that now scarify the face of Democracy in these times in America. Brother against brother, son against father, the old animosities not seen since 1865 return with a vengeance. The Island has declared itself a Sanctuary City, but not without contention. A recent City Council move looked to push investigation into President Trump's financial affairs (“Council Resolves to Investigate President,” March 16), while some residents would have that the Council concern itself less with national matters than potholes.

The Island is a city with a growing population hovering now around 100,000 inhabitants.

Other municipalities feature die-hard resistors but here the Island has no objection to the push to universalize the use of "Smart Meters" that send and receive power usage information at customer sites. AMP is going forward to replace all the old fashioned meters with the new technology, which had not earned a fair number of critics.

Some groups in other areas have expressed concerns regarding the cost, health, fire risk, security and privacy effects of smart meters and the remote controllable "kill switch" that is included with most of them. Many of these concerns regard wireless-only smart meters with no home energy monitoring or control or safety features. Metering-only solutions, while popular with utilities because they fit existing business models and have cheap up-front capital costs, often result in such "backlash". Often the entire smart grid and smart building concept is discredited in part by confusion about the difference between home control and home area network technology and AMI.

Most health concerns about the meters arise from the pulsed radiofrequency (RF) radiation emitted by wireless smart meters.

Members of the California State Assembly asked the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) to study the issue of potential health impacts from smart meters. The CCST report in April 2011 found no health impacts, based both on lack of scientific evidence of harmful effects from radio frequency (RF) waves and that the RF exposure of people in their homes to smart meters is likely to be minuscule compared to RF exposure to cell phones and microwave ovens.

One technical reason for privacy concerns is that these meters send detailed information about how much electricity is being used each time. More frequent reports provide more detailed information. Infrequent reports may be of little benefit for the provider, as it doesn't allow as good demand management in the response of changing needs for electricity. On the other hand, very frequent reports would allow the utility company to infer behavioral patterns for the occupants of a house, such as when the members of the household are probably asleep or absent. Current trends are to increase the frequency of reports. A solution which benefits both the provider and the user's privacy, would be to adapt the interval dynamically. Used as evidence in a court case in Austin, Texas, police agencies secretly collected smart meter power usage data from thousands of residences to determine which ones were using more power than "typical" in order to find targets to pursue in marijuana growing operations.

Smart meter power data usage patterns can reveal much more than how much power is being used. Research has been done which has demonstrated that smart meters sampling power levels at two-second intervals can reliably identify when different electrical devices are in use and even what channel or program is being viewed on a television based on the electrical consumption patterns of these devices and the electrical noises that they emit.

I WON'T BE BLUE ALWAYS

So anyway. The Spring Equinox sprung this past Monday, but few remarked upon it as the Island huddled under another dockwalloper. Everyone had been glad for the rain when it came, indicating some relief from the long drought, but as each week brought yet another onslaught of pounding rain and leaden skies, NorCal folks began looking up with longing for a little bit of blue sky.

Mr. Howitzer held a party at his mansion on Grand Street which had the theme of watching what everyone there imagined would be the inevitable repeal of the Healthcare Affordability Act, a measure that really affected none of the attendees directly, but which stood as a symbol of all that was wrought by the detested man who had insisted on becoming both President and a non-anglo-Saxon Protestant. To everyone in Mr. Howitzer's entourage, the former President was something that needed to be airbrushed from Memory's nagging scrapbook that was supposed to feature white tennis shorts and shoes, pristine pools, and charming people of their own sort working the Policies.

"Sit in front of the bus, join at the counter at Joe's Diner, own property if they must, but become President? That is going too far," Mrs. Cribbage announced.

With the spirit of killing every seed before it grows, Mr. Howitzer held this gala over a subject about which not a single one of the attendees had the slightest real idea. In fact, the only person present there who understood the HPA was Dodd, for he and the Missus were paid so badly that they needed to rely on the Exchanges for coverage.

But Dodd did not count for much in this gathering and there was tremendous disappointment when their champion failed to overwhelm the law of the land by force and bluster. As a consequence the assembled gentry got very drunk on champagne and scotch.

"The world is turned upside down!" sobbed Mr. Blather. "In my daddy's time, force and bluster always carried the day!"

"Now, now," said Dodd. Have another Gin Rickey."

"God! Dodd. When you people take over you shall shoot us all down; I see it clearly."

"Of course not, Mr. Blather," said Dodd. Who, counting on the man being drunk and insensible, said, "We are the people who love one another."

"Ah, that is kind," said Mr. Blather.

"Besides, we will need your Swiss bank account keycode."

"O!"

At the Old Same Place Bar, more plebeian sorts mourned the setback as the scene with a triumphant Nancy Pelosi played out on the big screen above the bar. "They are going to take away all our guns!" Eugene exclaimed, even though the entire episode concerned Healthcare and not the 2nd Amendment. Still, Eugene was one of those who tended to link disparate items in his mind in a connective tissue more pervasive and pernicious than the creatures in a Ripley Scott movie.

"We sha'nt do that," Padraic said. "Nothing of the sort."

"O so you say."

"We will need all of your guns to round all of you up and take you to the Stadium," Padraic puckishly added. "You know, when the SHTF."

That is when Eugene got terribly drunk, forgetting that trout season opened in just a few weeks.

Trout fishing is one of the things for which anglers live all year. We do not have ice fishing here, and the massive runs of steelhead and salmon are events of the past, and for salt water, unless you sit out there among the sand fleas and the coconut oil, that sort of catch requires massive equipment and some resources.

You can get sea bass, or at least something like it, almost anywhere nondescript. But the California trout is a marvelous and somewhat magical creature inhabiting the most magical of places, requiring stealth, guile and purification of spirit to acquire.

Down at the base of the bridge, Wootie Kanootie's moose herd stirred fitfully under the moon as great seasonal changes creaked heavily on their immense revolve.

Pimenta Strife paced in her moonlit bedroom, barefoot and wearing nothing but a slip. Soon time for hunting.

All these things marked the changes happening already in a million places, along the shoreline, bordering the creeks of MarinLand, beneath the softening snows of upstate Minnesota near Bear Lake where a tuft of green growth started to emerge beneath the armpit of the statue of the Unknown Norwegian. All along the windy course of the Big Muddy, starting at the rivulet that drained out of Lake Itasca and then down between Minneapolis and St. Paul and further on down to the islanded reaches bordering Arkansas and Tennessee where dark forms began to move beneath the freeze, things were happening.

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.

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.

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 of longing and waits for her time to return to her mother while above the world endures a cold season of frost upon the land.

Mercy Bliss stepped barefoot out of her apartment onto the wood deck in Mill Valley and spread her arms wide to embrace the coming season. It was cold yet, and her thin yoga pants offered little warmth, but she did not care.

"Mercy! Put your shirt on!" shouted her neighbor, Mrs. Tude. "The children!"

Mercy did not care, but she pirouetted bare-breasted upon her deck and danced back into the house.

On the Island, Suan, Rolf, Marlene and Andre took a couples walk to the start of the Snoffish Valley Road, a road that was mysteriously mutable, possessing shifting boundaries, possessing eternal qualities of all those summer roads along which summer teenagers once raced their sleek machines in contests that had genetic code tracing back to the chariot races of ancient Rome and older still. It was a road that vanished into the drizzly fog like a Rod Serling story about a zone where nobody knew where they would end up. It was a road that could eat its own tail like a snake. It was the locus of the Devil's crossroads junction. It was the road all musicians know and gypsies too. It was the road of all desire and of disappointment and it was the interminable road that never had no end. It was the road of salesmen and tired travelers and los migras and refugees and all those tired of traveling but still needing further to fly. It could be an escape and it could be a trap of ambush lit up by the hellfire of drones. It could be all of those things and it was a portal to another life with no going back.

"This is the way," Rolf said.

To either side there were stone effigies, the features of which had eroded over time until it was impossible to tell what kind of figure they had once represented. Pahrump called them "the Puekle Men," and he said they had been put there by the Old Ones who had lived in the Bay Area before the Ohlone.

The four of them stood there, looking into the dark beyond the reach of their flashlights. "We had better be sure," Andre said.

"Life has no assurances," Suan said. "It has only doors and pathways."

"It is one way to go," Marlene said. "At least you have been to the other side." She meant by that, Marin.

"That is true for sure," Rolph said. "I have been to the Other Side."

The four of them turned back to return to the warmth of the Household, the little cottage where fifteen souls had found refuge for the past twenty years. A refuge, which like all refuges, had a limit on its duration. Little Adam had fallen asleep on the couch where Suan slept and the stripper for the Crazy Horse cradled the boy in her arms and sang quietly Trouble in Mind. That night there were no arguments in the Household and no sirens tore the night air. The Island was peaceful and quiet and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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.

 

MARCH 19, 2017

WHITE ORANGE AND GREEN

This week we have an image culled from the kitchen where we discovered two hearts inside a green pepper while making the feast. Sure and it makes a fine image to celebrate the Old Sod, as good a place to be from and never return for all that.


THIS ISLAND LIFE

Jim Burakoff at Alameda Bicycle lets us know that EVENTS ARE BACK! for the Spring in all things bicycle.

Family Ride
Sunday, April 2nd, 10am - 12pm,
1st Sunday of the Month
April-October

Open for kids of all ages. Take a slow cruise with us around Alameda, a different route every time. We'll split into groups to ensure the proper pace for everyone, helmets required. Tucker's will provide everyone with free ice cream at the end of the ride!

Ride on 2 Wheels
Sunday, April 9th, 10am - 12pm
2nd Sunday of the Month
April-October

We'll help you get off training wheels, or learn how to ride a bicycle for the first time. Bring your bike, helmet, and a dash of courage - we'll provide the rest. One parent per family required, one adult per child recommended.

REGISTRATION REQUIRED!
Jim Burakoff, Alameda Bicycle
510-522-0070
jim@alamedabicycle.com

Flat Tire Clinic
Sunday, April 23rd, 5:30pm,
4th Sunday of the month
April-October
The free clinic is a perennial favorite! Bring your wheel or bike - we'll provide the tools and
step-by-step instruction to master bicycling's most fundamental repair.

Bring your bike or a picture of your brakes so that we can be sure to go over how to remove your specific wheel.

One of these days we have to get Festus to revive the Island-Life Calendar, which has been dormant for a while.

ARC is looking for a new Treasurer!
Want a job? A volunteer one with a socially responsible outfit? The Alameda Renters Coalition is looking for a treasurer.

If you're interested in grassroots finance, accounting, and looking to lend your skills and enthusiasm to tenants' rights in Alameda, please let us know! Here are some details:
- The Treasurer is a steering committee position, so you'd be asked to attend our bi-weekly steering committee meetings (great way to lend your voice to the organization!)
- The position involves managing ARC's finances through QuickBooks tracking and reporting ( QuickBooks -- we'll train you!)
-The position is a signatory on the bank account
- Typically, the position requires about 1-2 hours of work per week (outside of attendance at bi-weekly steering committee meetings)
We will train you! Please email alamedarenterscoalition@ gmail.com if you are interested!

THE ANGRY ELF GANG ONCE AGAIN!

A Jan. 13 fire at one of Alameda’s longest standing restaurants, Kamakura, has left the sushi institution shuttered while insurance negotiations continue. Local gift store owners Steve King and Christine Gonsalves started a gofundme campaign to help Kamakura owner Faith Yamato. The fund has now raised $11,130 from 172 people. The restaurant still needs help. To contribute, visit Kamakura.

PSA

There is a big recall on Walmart frozen pizza

More than 21,000 pounds of frozen pizza sold at select Wal-Mart stores have been recalled due to possible listeria contamination, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The pizza, "Marketside Extra Large Supreme Pizza" was produced Feb. 23. According to the FSIS, the pizza subject to recall comes in a 50.6-oz corrugated box containing one shrink-wrapped 16-inch pizza with lot code "20547." The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 1821” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The recall was announced by RBR Meat Company Inc., a Vernon, California-based company.

Whussup with the FAAS flap? Sure it's a fact that people get crazy when it comes to pets, but the current situation has gotten bat-shit bonkers with all this opera over the animal shelter. Sure, some people can take some pride in making the whole non-business work well, but these City Council meetings are getting way out of hand with shouting and insults and bad behavior that seems to provoke, instead of reasonable response, yet more bad behavior on the part of members of the Council and the Mayor, who has periodically demonstrated aspects of irrationality that border on the unhinged.

The Shelter does well for it primary client-base -- the animals. There may be some administrative wrinkles, but really, we are not talking about the Teamsters and Jimmy Hoffa here.

It is just a fecking animal shelter, for crissake. Everybody please calm down.

Nobody seems to have any recollection as to just why the FAAS is on the Council agenda to begin with for all the brough-haha, so it would be helpful if someone stepped in to provide a bit of focus here.

The last time things got this silly, it was over the Disputed Bicycle Bridge, which was created so as to resolve a wacky dispute over right of way between pedestrians and bicyclists only to become a bone of contention as each side claimed the slender span for its own folks.

Our Island -- a place where dismay overwhelms wisdom.

THE WHOLE WORLD WHISPERING BORN AT THE RIGHT TIME

We just got a new Californian! Just got word that Jessica McGowan-Vanderbeck gave birth at 4:38am this morning after nearly 38 hours of hard labor. The new Giants fan is a boy weighing in at 8 pounds 19 ounces. Congratulations!

FOUR GREEN FIELDS

So anyway. The Editor walked along, pensively, as the skies lowered from high mottled patterns to a low leaden gray and leaves showered in fits during the tremulous period that precedes a storm. What kind of story did he have to tell? To whom was he speaking when he spoke?

This is an age-old problem for actor and playwright alike. Who, indeed, is the audience? And is it true that we will never know for sure.

Latterly he had been irascible and outraged, shouting and ill-humored. Forgetting all the while as he shook his rattle at the blank sky, just for whom it was all being done.

Any father had experienced this same feeling from time to time, with the bills piling up, the vacations postponed, the dreams deferred . . . .

Mr. Sanchez, looking down at the newest addition to the house, considered that now, most surely, he would never walk the Pilgrim's Camino in Spain. Nor would he ever finish that book he had meant to write, and the old 350 Honda sitting with flattened tires in the garage, getting dustier by the year, would never spark again, for now obligations sat heavy upon his shoulders and he had other priorities.

Some men would have reacted with shaking rage, but Mr. Sanchez was made of other stuff and he reached down to lift the squalling infant and holding it close, it quieted. He was now the dream and no other.

Denby roused suddenly from his bed as a burst of Canadian geese scattered and reformed across the sky. He lay awhile staring out of the tiny pane afforded him in the attic room of the St. Charles Hospital for Social Rehabilitation, a place where he had taken up sanctuary years ago. He stayed there because the rent was cheap and the Hospital let out the room which had been deemed uninhabitable for patients because it needed the money.

He knew why he was there; he could not afford to move and he loved music, so that was that. As for his audience, Denby imagined that he ought to start playing a few more uptempo things. It was about time.

Things were rollicking at the Old Same Place Bar. As the weather closed up the air into a stifling box, Padraic and Dawn ladled out the Gaelic Coffees and the pints of Guinness. Padraic refused to insult the Old Sod by naming the coffee concoction of whiskey and brown sugar and whipped cream by its usual appellation, for he insisted no "daycent lad o' the Green" would slur the good spirit that is the Water of Life by such a name as "Irish Coffee."

But the liquor was flowing and the talk was alive and the music was "Molly McGuire" in a hustle and a bustle and a clatter of dishes in the back as Padraic ran back and forth with Jose hired on to help as an honorary Irishman because of his native religion and all was cheer.

Until the door flew open and in came three members of the Angry Elf gang, Bryan Gump, Nasty Narita, Snarky Twit, and The Cackler, all jovial after setting a group of boats on fire and killing a dog down by the Marina. The regulars glared silently at them while the Not From Heres retreated to a table to talk among themselves. Everybody knew something would happen. Marsha noticed suddenly her shawl was missing and Nina had lost her watch and Leo could not find his hat. Suzie sullenly served the four who elbowed people out of the way at the bar. Things always went wrong when one of them showed up. There were fights and people got hurt. Somehow none of them ever seemed to be the center of attention when something bad happened, for none of them ever seemed to get into a fight directly but anytime crockery broke, one of them was nearby, like the infamous Bann Se of long ago, whistling around the chimney, making roof slates fly off in the middle of a storm, causing the shivers, and spoiling the milk.

In the back corner, a formerly romantic couple now was arguing over a movie.

Anywhere people seek joy, you are bound to find these malevolent sprites causing unhappiness and mischief.

The room got darker and draftier and more quiet until one of them, Snarky Twit it was, looked around and said, "I think we need to have some dancing and celebration!" Here he grabbed Shannon and spun her around until she was dizzy and she plotzed into a chair with her shoes askew.

It was clear she could not go on.

At that moment there was an eerie arpeggio of bells, the candles dimmed and disappeared. The door flew open and the wind appeared. The curtains blew and then He appeared.

"Don't be afraid," he said to Shannon.

The figure strode up the length of the way to the bar and the assembled multitude parted before him not unlike the Red Sea before the staff of the Prophet Moses.

He clambered up upon a stool there and ordered his usual - a bump, a Guinness properly stacked, and an ale for waiting on the Guinness.

Indeed, the Wee Man had returned.

There was a brief lull in activity, but the Angry Elf Gang could not let anything go by without comment.

"Hey little fellow, did you lose your mama?" one of them said.

The Wee Man set down his beer while the Cackler cackled and he deliberately wiped his lips with a napkin offered by Suzie and he put his fists upon his hips and glared.

"I see you have never known yours."

There was a shocked acre of silence.

"O yeah, so what're you saying, little dwarf?"

"I am saying quite plainly you do not know your mother and you never have. And you should know what that means. Everyone here who has any sense knows it."

"Oh yeah? I think we oughta put in a little ruggers here. A little dwarf tossin'."

"Just you try," said the Wee Man, who stood up on the top of the bar stool.

Snarky Twit came up to the barstool and made as if to grab the Wee Man and toss him as they are wont to do in uncouth Southern Lands, but the Wee Man grabbed Snarky Twit's nose and holding him there tight as a vise, seized his privates, causing him to howl. He then spun Snarky Twit around in a circle, making of his body a great wheel with his privates the hub while the man howled in anguish. Faster and faster he spun the arsonist thug until he became a blur like the blades of a summer fan. A sort of hum began and sparks began to fly out and smoke arose as from an overheating motor and a wind blew back everyone's hair. The human dynamo spun into a blur of motion and sparks until there was a sort of explosion of sparks and all the lights went out and everyone sat there in a stunned silence.

In the darkness, everyone heard a voice announce clearly, "Your mother is and always has been the dear, sweet Earth. Be kind to her."

And with that the lights came back on and the Wee Man had disappeared. Sprawled on the ground was the Snarky Twit, all splayed out and dressed like a Bozo clown with droopy drawers and a fuzzy purple wig and a big red nose. Likewise was Gump, Narita, and Cackler, who it was discovered all wore chastity belts made of thorns which aggrieved them very much.

"O nuts!" said Dawn. "He's done turned me knickers into sausages again!"

Peering into her waistband, Suzie commented, "He certainly has a penchant for strange lingerie."

While the Angry Elf Gang fled the place in pain and shame, habitués of the Old Same Place Bar deliberated in some consternation about the state of their undies when the clear intent was to have each partner demand their removal ASAP, and so let consequences ensue au natural. . .

As the clock ticked over to a new day and the heavens broke their impending mood with lashings of rain, the Editor sat once again at his desk, finally decisive and determined. His place was to succor the lost, the lonely, the bereft, the less fortunate, the abused, the underdog of these times with wit and humor and hope. The coming times may become very dark and his instruments and powers must be devoted, as they always have been, to giving a lift up to those who needed it most; that was his job. Spring was coming, a time of renewal. In spite of setbacks he needed to remember the show goes on, week after week, sometimes with no hope of anyone being there to appreciate this rarefaction of elements, this removal of all obstacles until nothing stood between himself and the origin of Life. Yet still doing all for Company.

The clock struck. The pool of light remained. It was half one in the morning now as the blessed rain ending the long drought fell down. Time to work while the world sleeps.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 an unknown future.

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

 

MARCH 12, 2017

IN THE GREEN FUSE DRIVES THE FLOWER

This week's image from Tammy is of the area near Crab Cove and marks the onset of an early Spring here on the Island.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

From a friend in DC: An Environmental Protection Agency staffer:

"So I work at the EPA and yeah it's as bad as you are hearing: The entire agency is under lockdown, the website, facebook, twitter, you name it is static and can't be updated. All reports, findings, permits and studies are frozen and not to be released. No presentations or meetings with outside groups are to be scheduled.

Any Press contacting us are to be directed to the Press Office which is also silenced and will give no response. All grants and contracts are frozen from the contractors working on Superfund sites to grad school students working on their thesis. We are still doing our work, writing reports, doing cancer modeling for pesticides hoping that this is temporary and we will be able to serve the public soon. But many of us are worried about an ideologically-fueled purging and if you use any federal data I advise you gather what you can now.

We have been told the website is being reworked to reflect the new administration's policy... I am posting this as a fellow citizen and not in any sort of official capacity."

We have not checked out the provenance but some of this stuff checks out.

A Letter to the Editor alerted us that Rob Bonta (D-Oakland, Assembly) is working to repeal Costas-Hawkings, an anti-rent control initiative passed in 2000. allows a landlord, whose rental property would otherwise be subject to local rent control laws, to increase the rent without legal limit if one of the tenants move out.

With subtenants, Costa-Hawkins permits a landlord to change the rent to market rate for a sublessee if the master tenant no longer lives in the apartment and the sublessee did not reside in the unit before January 1, 1995. No rent increase is permitted, if one or more original tenants lives in the unit and sublets part of the unit with the landlord’s consent.

The landlord cannot raise the rent to market on a sublessee if the sublessee proves that the landlord waived her right to raise the rent. If the sublessee can show that the landlord told the sublessee that he could remain in the unit with the same rent as the master tenant, then the rent cannot be raised. The rent also cannot be raised if the landlord fails to serve written notice of a rent increase within 90 days of a written notice that the master tenant is leaving the unit. Finally, the landlord cannot raise the rent to market rate if the landlord receives written notice that the master tenant has left the unit and the landlord accepts rent from the sublessee. However, if the landlord receives written notice, the landlord can inform the sublessee that she has reserved the right to increase the rent at a later date.

The state law does not affect local eviction control laws. Therefore, it is possible for a rental property to be exempt from San Francisco, Oakland or Berkeley rent control, but still be subject to local eviction control laws.

So in the middle of the Rental Crisis here a landlord argues that the law allows small holders, and by that the writer means landlords who hold five or more units, to let units where otherwise they would not do so.

Poppycock. Where money is to be made, landlords will have it. Especially if we are talking about people letting entire buildings instead of in-laws. Nobody is going to allow an entire building to go fallow in fear of rent control unless they have income deriving from properties elsewhere and simply want to "punish" the community. How could anybody who is a true small-holder afford that? Landlords will make money regardless of anything; stop pretending they are all mom-and-pop inlaws. They are not and the big guys are using the real small-holders like a Dom over a Sub. Without lubricant.

In other news, letters to the editor seems to favor impeachment proceedings against Trump to a large degree, although reasons for doing so range widely from "public embarrassment' to plain foolishness. Not many cite abuse of office, which seems to us, at least, the main issue.

LIFE BY THE DROP

So anyway. Just as Raymond set out to see an old friend doing a speaking engagement in Babylon across the water, White's Hill decided to plop down and sort of loll leisurely across all lanes of Sir Francis Drake, scattering boulders and trees like so many orphanages sprinkled upon the landscape. Raymond got out of his car and stared at the Hill which only a while ago had stood more to the right and above a line of quaint CalTrans concrete highway barriers, each weighing some two tons each, and which maybe had felt good enough for the moment, but which now had been carelessly brushed aside and tossed over the far edge of the road as if the Hill had decided on a better idea of Feng Shui arrangement.

Life in these parts was full of uncertain power supply, uncertain neighbors, uncertain cell phone coverage and certainly expensive groceries while the hills themselves had a penchant for ambling across roadways and occasionally dropping them into the ravines in a puckish manner that made keeping appointments reliably difficult.

The slide was a consequence of the recent rains, coming now after years of drought. In irritation, Raymond turned his car around as the County arrived with lights flashing to put up barriers and headed down the fog-shrouded Snoffish Valley Road, a road that due to a kink in the Chronosynclastic Infundibulum, terminated in a long stretch on the Island where teenagers raced one another on summer weekends in hot cars that had their air-fuel mappings dinked and their computer injection programs modified by diligent enthusiast hackers sporting rolled-up jeans and duck-tail haircuts.

Not much changes; only the technology.

A moon swelled to fullness even as the government program meant to save daylight went into action. Countless bean-counters went into action with busy pencils and notepads so as to calculate the savings, but as Mrs. Almeida observed the last light fading luminescent on the heads of Alicia, Yolanda and Jorge as they busied about collecting the chickens into the coop for the night, and Pedro came walking up from the truck, carrying an armload of fish with Ferryboat wagging his tail along side in the dimming light, she thought some things are too precious to place thereon a price.

Pedro stood with his iron-grey hair shining as he watched the mother hen gathering her brood. Years had passed, his boney joists were getting creaky and the time to consider taking retirement before it, or the Sea, took him. He had always been a fisherman as had been his father before him and his father as well. Now the sons were studying computer graphics and fancy things and they had no interest in work on boats, save perhaps Gilberto, the oldest, who had gone out with him on occasion. But Gilberto was a dreamy sort and his father sensed that it was more the romance of the sea than the realities of day to day work upon it that attracted his son. He had no real interest in learning wind and tides and the seasons. The boy wrote poetry.

Pedro straightened his aching back and sniffed the air. Ferryboat looked up at him with a woof. A change was coming.

At Marlene and Andre's Rolph and Suan came in off the Snoffish Valley Road to hold counsel with Andre and Marlene in the back room while the others lolled about, full with Food Bank supplies for the moment. Content enough. Rolph and Suan, sensing the way things were going on the Island had started scouting out other places where the Household could transplant in a sudden emergency. If they had to. The Out-of-town Developer named Haider had bought the house to the left and then the house to the right. Men wearing funereal black had been seen walking around, taking pictures, taking notes.

Something was going to change, and change would not be good.

A few miles away Mr. Howitzer III, last of the Howitzers, sat beneath the painting of King George and went over his accounts. That house on Otis. Yes that one with the hippies. It was time to monetize that one better. Yes it was time. Before the fools enacted Rent Control. A change was coming on, he felt it.

On the Avenue, the open car carrying members of the Angry Elf's gang sprinted away from the scene of the burning car they had left in front of La Casa Azul as a warning to keep the payments.

Summer was their favorite time, for more people on the street meant more cover to do what they wanted. They were exuberant, especially the Cackler, a favorite of the Angry Elf, who enjoyed any sort of terrorism so long as it came cheap and paid well. The Cackler had a job in mind, one that would be fun and easy. Then they would all have a romp. Yes, a change for somebody was definitely in the works.

Calla lilies had burst into bloom at the base of the steps leading up to the door that lead to the apartments of Mr. Sanchez and Ms. Morales. The couple had gone to bed and the crib sat beside the window with the shades up and the powerful surge of the full moon filled the room with lapping waves of light. The man in the moon smiled upon the new infant; yes, changes were happening.

A few miles away the quick denizens flitted beneath the floorboards of the Household as the meeting between Suan and Rolf and Andre and Marlene broke up. The dark forms flitted and darted around the sparking old furnace which Mr. Howitzer had never had repaired, or even examined.

From from far across the water, the night train sent its wail, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 an unknown future.

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

 

MARCH 5, 2017

RUN LITTLE RABBIT

Nothing suits the start of March like a a March hare. According to the WikiPedia, "The March Hare (called Haigha in Through the Looking-Glass) is a character most famous for appearing in the tea party scene in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The main character, Alice, hypothesizes,

"The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won't be raving mad – at least not so mad as it was in March."

This fellow was knipsed on a hillside in the town of Woodacre.

THE INDUIBITABLE, INDELIBLE, INSCRUTABLE, AND INDEFATIGABLE RETURN OF INFAMOUS 3-DOTULISM.

Those three people who died in a Cessna that struck a house in California were Bay Areans, all hailing from San Jose . . . CDC investigating an e.coli outbreak on the West and East coasts says the vector may have been SoyNut Butter. Best toss it . . . Pro- and Anti Trump protesters clashed violently Saturday, fighting each other with knives and clubs on the streets of Berkeley. Police say they arrested only 10 people because wading into the pitched riot would have caused more serious injuries . . . Livermore, Mayor John Marchand joined students at Altamont Creek Elementary to read as part of the festivities celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss who was born March 2, 1904. For you struggling scriveners, Geisel's first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by 42 publishers, causing the despondent author to walk home after the 43rd with plans to burn the manuscript, when a chance encounter with an old Dartmouth classmate led to its publication by Vanguard Press . . .St. Patrick's Day, not especially observed on the Island of Saints and Scholars, which has enough saints already about which to bother, will be feted the 18th and the 19th -- most notably in the City of Dublin with its 35th Annual Parade . . . While we have long suffered risk of catastrophe due to earthquakes, Oklahoma was revealed by a recent U.S. Geological Survey report to face equal risk of between 5 and 12 percent for damaging earthquake, although the Sooner State's shaking is entirely man-made due to extensive fracking . . . City Councils in NorCal are considering resolutions to endorse impeachment proceedings against President Trump, with Richmond having already passed such a measure. The Council Meeting of 2/21 listened to just such a proposal even though Trump just delivered a speech before the joint houses of Congress, which sounded almost normal . . . .

LIKE THE WEATHER

Howard Schecter reports some good news from Mammoth.

02/24/17
"The last gasp of California’s wet Pattern will end the weekend with a whimper, as two small short waves will bring light amounts of snowfall to the high country. Only some 3 to 5 inches are expected for the Town of Mammoth. However, snow to water ratio’s will be high. The snow on Mammoth Mt will be Platinum Powder quality. However, no alert as amounts will not meet criteria. IE a foot or better….

Here are the figures for the Mammoth Pass Snow Course for the Two biggest winters since 1940.

The Winter of 1969 for Mammoth Pass is the bench mark. Bigger than 1983 for Mammoth Pass only.

FEB 1st Survey

Water Content (in) % of Norm

Year 1969 56.6 209% March 1st 78.1 213% April 1st 86.5 199%

Year 1983 46.6 172% March 1st 62.7 171% April 1st 83.7 193%

The Updated graph for the Mammoth Pass shows 78.2 inches today. So we are currently ahead water wise on the pass greater than the big bench mark winter of 1969 according to the DWP data."

With the weekend storm, the Pass topped <80 inches, breaking all records. Howard said that we are not likely to experience Sierra weather like this again within any of our lifetimes.

From Lake Oroville we have a mixture of good and bad. Everyone knows the evac order has been lifted and 160,000 people returned home. The power plant has been shut down again after resuming on Saturday to allow crews to remove a "massive amount of debris" collected below the damaged spillway which is now not being used at all. Instead releases from subsidiary reservoirs are being used to alleviate pressure on the dam.

In addition to these problems, erosion collapsing river banks further down the Feather River have severely damaged roads and irrigation lines. One farmer saw a 25 foot bluff collapse, taking with it steel pipe and pumps for irrigating almond groves. Acting Head of the Department of Water Resources Bill Croyle remains hopeful that deepening the channel below the power plant outlet will allow the plant to resume full operation within 1-2 days.

THANKS FOR LISTENING

So anyway, the Man from Minot threw down his bag in such a way that the flat bottom of the leather valise sent a ripple of dust out from beneath it like the shock wave of Big Boy when burst above our lives and send us all surfing on that radioactive wave through the years of what was then the horrific future of apocalypse and now the sad past of death, fear and anxiety in response to that upgrade in warfare.

He had just returned from a trip to Stevenson, a suburb of Dallas, without the pleasure of being Dallas or Austin or even Chicago to learn about the future of home lifting -- the technology and the advances and the mandatory upgrades -- which all amounted to an hill of beans as far as he was concerned, since his little company had been acquired by a massive international engineering outfit that had been once captained itself by a former Vice President.

And now everything, all this new stuff, the hydraulic jacks and the lifts and the joists and contracts and the relationships, was being couched in terms of former this and once that. Like any man returning from a long trip to a mostly empty house he went and got himself a drink.

So anyway, indeed.

Mornings come with sodden gray skies and ice on the back window. A nimbus hovers over the vales as if a congregation of ghosts has just broken up its meeting and steam rises from the trees. Most of the deciduous ones remain bare and padding to the stove to fire up the coffee, your breath comes out in clouds. Nevertheless even now, signs of impending change erupt quietly, tiny green explosions along the branches of buckeye that went stark naked in summer all quite suddenly the past year. The Japanese plum has clad itself in sexy pink lingerie and all the cherry blossoms are popping out. Down along the Cove a carpet of daffydowndillies appeared with yellow surprise. In the places where we have snow, shoots appear at the bottom of suncups. Dawn O'Reilly goes out to the garden and bending over, spreading her knees, looks down where she and Padraic planted the fava beans last year, pushes aside the weeds, and remembers the days when she was a girl rolling with the boys in the hay of Enniskerry after the snow had cleared. Clearly, something is happening down there.

Latterly Padraic has been in discussions with the landlord about the next five year lease. They have occupied the same location now for well on twenty years and more, granting succor to many a lost soul while contributing to the community in a thousand ways, but tradition and kindness die easily in these times and the landlords are not known for generosity or kindness. Mr. Howitzer's firm Rauch, Howitzer, Howitzer and Ball, was wanting an increase of a sort to drive any businessman half mad on the Sea of Accountancy. Change was in the offing. They might have to let Suzie go.

Dawn stood up and went up to the second floor to look out the window while Padraic emitted the sound of a small lumber mill from the bed. Down there had been Brown's Shoes. And over there beyond, John's Barbershop. Both gone now. And down the way, Pagano's Hardware had once presented its creative storefront windows for an half century; also gone. A shift in clouds above changed the look of the Island. The little houses with their Edwardian fronts interspersed with the faux adobe craftsman cottages painted in pastels still looked the same, but it seemed a shadow was extending now from one end to the other.

Down on the street Denby made his way to Marlene and Andre's Household. A spatter of rain and wind caused him to walk bent over holding his hat, which provided with his Macintosh his only defense against rain. He took brief shelter under an awning of a shop that had closed and now had windows all boarded up. As he stood there waiting for the squall to lessen, a car carrying several members of the Angry Elf gang drove by slowly. The car paused for a moment on the street and the occupants looked at him and someone cracked a window and cackled an evil laugh.

We're gonna get you. We are gonna make you sorry.

A car coming along honked impatiently and they drove on.

Denby stood out in the street as the rain lessened and shouted after the car, "Fuck you Neil! Fuck you, ya little man!"

But he was only a small person on a street in the rain and everybody had their problems and nobody cared and nobody paid attention. The police did not care; this was no country for old men and they rather preferred to save stranded cats in trees and have pancake breakfasts at Ole's Waffleshop to promote themselves and community spirit.

He had gone to the police about the threats and the bullet holes in his windows, but they could do nothing unless Denby did the leg work for absolute proof. The Angry Elf had immunity because he had narced his friends in Brooklyn. He was Protected.

Something like a local Mafia was not to their taste anyway and so Denby was on his own in the little town, headed on a path like a boxer in an old Hemingway story.

He reached the battered porch of the old house and came in as Marlene was dishing out the meal of bread soup. At that moment the storm really hit and the rain came lashing down to pound the roof, while inside all the lost souls of the Household sat in corners with their bowls of steaming soup after a long day of survival in these times. This was a place of Sanctuary, a concept that used to be considered sacred back in the day before it became politically inconvenient.

Below the floorboards, the denizens down there continued their scurry around the old furnace unit.

Meanwhile, Rolf and Suan were not present at this gathering. They were harboring with friends up in San Anselmo in Marin where they had been looking for a place, an alternate refuge, for many were leaving the Island City during the Rental Crisis and it was good to look around to see what could be found.

As it turned out, Marin was crowded, expensive, inhospitable. Full of effete poodle walkers lacking irony or humanity. Hardly a place of refuge. Indeed they did meet one rancher who had occupied his land for ages out in the town of Sylvan Acre, a place which consisted of nothing much more than a country store and the post office, who seemed affable and real, but they had found nothing else and were resigned to returning to look for some harbor in San Leandro where a crew of misfits and malcontents could take up shop should TSHTF.

As they sat down to their meal flashes of light illuminated the hills all around. Thunder rolled over the Himavant in waves. The drought was ending. Changes were coming.

That night, after a long day of searching, Suan listened to the sound of rain and rushing water and missed the sound she had hearkened to for so many years and that hard woman who worked as a pole dancer at the Crazy Horse wept, knowing change was certain.

Miles away, in a cruiser sitting by the Old Cannery on the Island, Officer O'Madhauen opened an envelope by the light of the dashboard lights. It was his retirement statement. He did not know what he would do when the time came; perhaps he would move to Kentucky to be with family. There it was cheaper. Even though he had lived here all his life.

A car drove by slowly and he recognized it; the Angry Elf Gang. The Officer's eyes narrowed. Just you make one mistake. Just one mistake. He knew what they were.

At that point, the train wail ululated from from far across the water, spreading like the forcefield of an explosive wave, 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 through the cracked brick of the Cannery and its weedy railbed, 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 an unknown future.

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

 

FEBRUARY 26, 2017

IN THE GREEN FUSE DRIVES THE FLOWER

This week's headliner comes from Tammy as she made a walk in the new sunshine around Crab cove.

After the hard rains and the long winter Spring begins to announce itself in advance.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

As part of the “Hands Across Alameda” protest of the immigration policies of President Donald Trump, a group of several hundred people gathered on Alameda’s Crown Memorial Beach and along Alameda’s shoreline. The group joined hands in heavy rain and wind while singing “This Land is Your Land” on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 20.

Most of the public flap seems to be about the FAAS animal shelter and the B1 proposition about funding the schools.

The local animal shelter has strong proponents and this shelter was subject to severe scrutiny in recent years, which led to procedures that could have led to its closing. A last minute effort by partisans succeeded in preserving the existing institution. The FAAS includes a large number of dogwalkers and poodle-sympathizers, so we are not at liberty to comment upon this violently pernicious issue.

A few people objected to Proposition B1 adding a property surcharge to fund public schools. So what else is new?

Weatherman says we get a break from the recent storms that have pelted the Bay Area, causing havoc and Interesting Traffic.

Up in Marin, White's Hill was closed twice due to mudslides last week. In the South Bay, forced evacuation orders 2/22/17 displaced 35,000 people due to Coyote Creek overflowing.

According to CHP, here is the report for Route 1, which saw local closures until today.

SR 1
[IN THE CENTRAL CALIFORNIA AREA]
IS CLOSED FROM RAGGED POINT (SAN LUIS OBISPO CO) TO 15 MI NORTH OF BIG SUR /AT PALO COLORADO/ (MONTEREY CO) - DUE TO A MUDSLIDE - MOTORISTS ARE ADVISED TO USE AN ALTERNATE ROUTE

IS CLOSED 1 MI SOUTH OF BIG SUR /AT PFEIFFER CANYON BRIDGE/ (MONTEREY CO)
- DUE TO INSPECTION - MOTORISTS ARE ADVISED TO USE AN ALTERNATE ROUTE

IS CLOSED FROM 3.3 MI NORTH OF THE JCT OF US 101 /AT PANORAMIC HIGHWAY/ TO
5.7 MI NORTH OF THE JCT OF US 101 /AT PACIFIC WAY/ (MARIN CO) - DUE TO A
SLIP-OUT - MOTORISTS ARE ADVISED TO USE AN ALTERNATE ROUTE - LOCAL RESIDENCE WITH PROPER IDENTIFICATION WILL BE ALLOWED ACCESS

IS CLOSED FROM 1 MI NORTH OF MUIR BEACH /AT SLIDE RANCH/ TO 0.2 MI SOUTH
OF STINSON BEACH (MARIN CO) - DUE TO A MUDSLIDE - MOTORISTS ARE ADVISED TO USE AN ALTERNATE ROUTE - LOCAL RESIDENCE WITH PROPER IDENTIFICATION WILL BE ALLOWED ACCESS

1-WAY CONTROLLED TRAFFIC FROM 1.2 MI NORTH TO 1.5 MI NORTH OF CARMET
(SONOMA CO) 24 HRS A DAY 7 DAYS A WEEK THRU 1800 HRS ON 5/31/17 - DUE TO
CONSTRUCTION

1-WAY CONTROLLED TRAFFIC AT VARIOUS LOCATIONS FROM 4.4 MI NORTH OF THE
JCT OF SR 116 /AT RUSSIAN GULCH/ TO 6.3 MI SOUTH OF FORT ROSS
/AT MEYERS GRADE RD/ (SONOMA CO) 24 HRS A DAY 7 DAYS A WEEK THRU 2359 HRS ON 6/30/17 - DUE TO CONSTRUCTION

[IN THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA AREA]
IS CLOSED 1.1 MI SOUTH OF THE JCT OF SR 271 (MENDOCINO CO) - DUE TO A
MUDSLIDE - MOTORISTS ARE ADVISED TO USE AN ALTERNATE ROUTE

1-WAY CONTROLLED TRAFFIC 2.5 MI SOUTH OF ROCKPORT (MENDOCINO CO) - DUE TO A MUDSLIDE

Forecast for this coming week is clear skies for the next seven days at least.

PHONEBOOTH IN HEAVEN

So anyway. When Commissioner Talonis let Denby out from jail he gave Denby a stern warning not to be caught cavorting about town again without underpants or he would be deported following the new Federal rules about desireables and deplorables, categories which had never before existed but which now served ample purpose to those seeking to weed out the local populace. Indeed the new rules served any number of purposes save that of protecting the people and ensuring their safety.

In the Gold Coast Pastor Nyquist bumped into Father Danyluk who was musing about the Easter Pageant, for which he needed Pastor Nyquist's assistance, as none of the Catholic priest's congregation could sing better than a pond of bullfrogs. Indeed not a single Catholic was capable of carrying a note to the corner letterbox. And so the priest had depended for some years upon the resources of the Lutheran Pastor Nyquist to supply able choristers.

Each was out taking their daily walk around the block. Father Danyluk invariably paced clockwise, and the Lutheran pastor proceeded according to his nature, anti-clockwise.

Of course it was fated that they would meet, given the circumstances.

How goes things, Father Danyluk said when they encountered one another.

Dreadful. Simply dreadful. There is a leak in the belfry and the puller is getting all wet when it rains.

Ah, said Father Danyluk. We have a good roofer in our midst. Perhaps I can share his contact information.

You have my email, the pastor said.

Indeed I do, said the Catholic priest unabashed. I will send it direct as soon as i return to deal with the upcoming Pageant . . .

In this way, great schisms are, if not mended, then ameliorated.

In the Old Same Place Bar, all the talk was about the upcoming Oscars and which picture would win something or other. The Man from Minot came in all disheveled and ordered a bump and a glass of Fat Tire. He did not care who won anything; he had just spent the day lifting houses out of the muck with jacks and bricks. "They are bound to screw it up against the more deserving anyway," he said.

Sure enough, as all watched on the telly, that is exactly what happened.

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 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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