Island Life

Vol. 20 - No. 15Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday April 15, 2017


Current Edition - Year 2018


Welcome to the 20th year of this weekly column that's updated fifty-two times a year, on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, depending on how well the booze holds out. If you've got any news, clues or rumors to share from around the Bay, or the world, feel free to send them to Editor@Island-Life.net or use the envelope in the masthead. For previous issues, including 2017, visit the Archives.


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


APRIL 15, 2018


NOTHING BUT FLOWERS

In some parts of the country they call these things Blue Flags, for they arrive as if advancing the army of Spring.


WHAT'S GOING ON

The ACT group that has been fighting for Renter's rights has decided tilting at windmills at the present rate will result in precisely the same result it provided for Don Quixote. April 25 the group is going to present the formation of a PAC to combat Big Land interests on the Island, which would be a first, both for the Island and Nationally. If they succeed, the land managers will finally confront an entity as large as themselves in terms of power, influence and money.

Here is the press release info:

ACT
Alameda Citizens Task Force
Vigilance, Truth, Civility

TIRED OF WAITING IN TRAFFIC

WANT MORE OPEN SPACE AND COASTAL ACCESS

WORRIED ABOUT ISLAND EMERGENCIES—fire, earthquake, tsunami, gas main breaks, loss of water and/or electricity—AND ISLAND EGRESS

OPPOSED TO UNBRIDLED 14, 9, AND 7 STORY MARKET-RATE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT THAT:

• Doesn’t provide enough affordable housing, especially for low and very low income people;
• Isn’t affordable to most people currently living in Alameda or the East Bay;
• Utilizes the space that would/could be available for future affordable housing, making such future housing impossible to build;
• Eliminates space that is currently utilized by long-term, locally-owned, successful, and well-paying commercial enterprises, forcing them to move off the island or go out of business;
• Doesn’t provide enough parking spaces for the units built, thereby further congesting streets, neighborhoods, and traffic

ANGRY ABOUT CITY COUNCIL’S ABUSE OF POWER AND CRONYISM

ALAMEDA CITIZENS TASK FORCE (ACT) IS TIRED OF ALL THESE THINGS,

WHICH IS WHY WE SEEK TO FORM A POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (PAC)

We hereby invite all like-minded people and organizations to join us for a discussion and planning session. We seek to form a PAC that is separate from ACT and broad enough to include all people who support candidates in the November City Council and Mayoral elections who support our goals and refuse to accept donations from either public employee unions or developers.

ACT is a city-wide and neighborhood task force. As such, we watch, analyze, comment, and act. We have a proven, successful, political track record, supporting arts funding, opposing the building of a hotel at Bay Farm Island, demanding traffic mitigation studies, resisting Sun-Cal’s plan to build 5,000 houses at Alameda Point, leading the fight to make Crab Cove public park land, and stopping the City from trading the Mif Albright Golf Course to Ron Cowan, a private developer. We stand for community involvement and fiscal responsibility. We believe in honest, effective, representative, and transparent government. Come and join the discussion.

Where: Alameda Hospital, 2nd floor Conference Room

When: Wednesday, April 25, from 7:00 – 9:00, p.m.

It should be interesting to see what comes of this effort. If a PAC is formed successfully, the most evil powers that have been destroying the Island's way of life will be forced to come to the bargaining table on any number of issues.

Even if it does not succeed here, the effort and experience generated will surely result in a successful PAC formation elsewhere in the Bay Area, resulting in a final and decisive resolution to the problematic "rent control" initiatives that have failed to accomplish what was intended.

Sonoma County Sheriffs have been busy, what with a plane crash and various shenanigans in Santa Rosa.

The Sonoma County Coroner's Office has made a positive identification of Carleton Henry Morrison, 75-years-old of Fallbrook, CA, as the victim of the Petaluma plane crash on Friday night, April 6th. He was believed to be piloting his plane from Petaluma to San Diego County during bad weather when it crashed in a field in the 3600 block of Manor Ln.

The cause of the collision is still being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

On 4/8/2018 at 12:30 AM, officers responded to a local hospital for a man that had been stabbed several times. Officers contacted a 33-year-old male victim who was transported to the hospital by family members. The incident occurred around midnight, in the 1000 block of Sunset Av, Santa Rosa. The victim was admitted to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The case is still being investigation and officers are seeking anyone who may have witnessed the stabbing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Santa Rosa Police Department at 707-528-5222.

In Novato the City PD can pat themselves on the back for halting a rash of auto burglaries.

Recently there has been an increase in reports of auto burglaries and thefts from vehicles near Hamilton Marketplace. As a result, Novato special Units conducted a series of surveillance operations near the Hamilton Marketplace and Courtyard Marriott over the past several weeks. As a result, PD arrested 35 year old Karrell Morgan of Vallejo for Auto Burglary, Destruction of Evidence and Evading the Police. Here’s how it all went down.

Last night around 1:00 AM, officers observed a dark sedan with paper plates enter the parking lot of the Courtyard Marriott. The vehicle was driven by Karrell Morgan. Morgan exited his vehicle and began peering into the windows of vehicles with a flashlight. Morgan then smashed the window of one of the vehicles parked in the lot and removed a laptop computer and briefcase from inside. He then returned to his vehicle and began to leave the area. A traffic stop was made on the vehicle near McDonald’s on Nave Drive. Morgan did not stop and entered the freeway, driving N/B on Highway 101 at a high rate of speed. Morgan threw the victim’s property out of the vehicle and onto the freeway in an attempt to discard evidence of the burglary. A vehicle description was provided to responding patrol officers. An officer near Hwy 37 and Black Point caught up with the vehicle and stopped it. The driver was placed under arrest for the listed charges and booked at the Marin County Jail.

Reviewing Nixle reports we see a pattern of high speed pursuit incidents occurring every week since the wine country fires. You can run but you cannot hide.

ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

Now that we know Der Trump plans on leaving the US for Russia once he has savaged the country sufficiently by firing all capable personnel, hiring total incompetent nincompoops, disrupted all relations with foreign allies, completely destroyed the basis of international trade, wrecked the local manufacturing and agribusiness economies for the Nation, all that he has done now makes sense. He never had any intention of "making America great again." That was all a sop for people he considers idiots. When he boards that Aeroflot jet with the briefcase of codes he will leave America so crippled with bad policy, a tanking economy, an enfeebled military, virtually every position of prominence held by dolts that Russia and China will easily assume world dominance as he laughs and laughs in his hot tub dacha, surrounded by vapid beauties.

MOTHERLESS CHILDREN

So anyway. Jose and Festus were hanging out waiting for Pahrump at the San Rafael bus station coffee shop when Officers Patpong and Harsh arrived to arrest them. They were waiting for Pahrump to get a ride back to Silvan Acres. They would have taken the bus but they had no money. So they waited in the coffee shop there off to the side and of course, since they had no money, they did not buy a coffee or a roll. Because they did not buy a coffee or a roll on account of having no money and having no money is a sort of a misdemeanor in this part of the world the manager called the cops and the two were arrested for hanging out in a coffee shop and not buying anything, which is something that apparently can happen in other parts of the country as well.

So Pahrump arrived just as they were being carted off, arresting having taken a while on account of the difficulty with the pat down for Festus. Officer Patpong had never arrested a rodent before, least never one that talked English, and he was much put out on how to pat down the little feller. Officer Harsh asked him what was wrong and Officer Patpong said he wasn't going to pat down no marsupial and had to be corrected as hamsters are not marsupials and just do his duty, but Patpong was damned if he would be accused of bestiality and crimes against nature feeling up a hamster, marsupial or not.

Of what on earth could you possibly be accused demanded his colleague and the Officer said he didn't know the terminology exactly and maybe it was felching, but no that was not it. Felching was something else entirely from molesting hamsters. Officer Harsh said he thought it was gerbilling about which Officer Patpong was thinking and even so both of them were extra careful doing the write up in their books, not wanting any grammar problems to spoil the case even as Festus sternly insisted he was no gerbil and he had nothing to hide.

Then there was the issue of how to put Festus in the car, let alone what should happen should they need to put cuffs on him and that is when Festus said, heck I'll just put him in my pocketbag which you just upended here all over the sidewalk and he bent down to scoop up his friend which apparently was a little too quick for the cops for when he straightened up he was staring down the barrels of two pistols (1911 style semiautomatics, .45 caliber) held in the sweaty hands of two suddenly amped officers, which just goes to show you what the problem in America happens to be.

You got a fairly calm and normal situation of two burly, well-armed officers making an arrest of a skinny rope of brown pathos named Jose and his hamster friend, both of whom no more dangerous than gnats, when suddenly everything changes. As it does from time to time in this country. The taste of fear is metallic and in everybody's mouth and everything is happening too fast. A slight move and someone dies. For a broken taillight traffic stop, or jaywalking, or standing in your grandma's backyard holding a cell phone.

In this case Festus squeaked, "Man, I got no nuts!" and that broke the tension and the two boys were properly arrested and taken over to the jail where they cooled their heels and got let out after an hour when the manager declined to press charges. He had thought they were from the Canal District, a place of which neither Festus nor Jose had ever heard, but when he heard they were headed for Silvan Acres then he imagined they might be all right.

On the Island, a dockwalloper set in, driving everybody indoors. For those who had a place large enough, they went there. For others seeking company and solace, they sought those snubby little nooks where people gather in times like this to talk about the weather, politics and other people's family problems.

The rental crisis has come to such a pass that many are talking about "getting out" in the same way people used to talk about escaping New York. Even the Cribbages, people not exactly without means, have not rebuilt their burnt out mansion, but repaired to their former summer abode in Belvedere which is now their main residence. The Blathers are talking about joining them because of the insolence of the "bicycle people" and what seems like their accumulated political power. Belvedere seemed to hold the right sort of attitude they liked.

All of this talk about relocation has made Mr. Howitzer look northward to the northern counties where his family has scant holdings. Perhaps the time had come to invest in Marin and after the fires, Sonoma begins to look attractive to people like Mr. Howitzer who like the concept of fewer dwellings and increased demand. Mr. Howitzer's eyes begin to glow at the prospect.

Then again other folks are feeling the pinch of the Rental Crisis. If you remember, on the Night of Fire Wootie Kanootie's moose herd broke loose with Eunice leading the way into the cooling water of the Bay. Many hours and many days passed before the herd emerged dripping from the far shores of Tiburon where Wootie was able to round them up again and drive them westward to a place where nobody might notice a sizable herd of Canadian moose. Wootie himself found an abode in a place near Silvan Acres called Two Bird.

In The Old Same Place Bar people were talking about need to "get out" and the most recent scandals involving the President nobody likes.

Tommy and Toby, Lynette and Susan had all been served with outrageous rent increases designed to encourage leaving town. Businesses too were affected. Borg's Touch of Wonder massage parlor got hit with a hefty rent increase. So did Marvin of Marvin's Merkins (Put a merkin in your firkin!). Both of them began looking to relocate. The rental crisis produced a drifting cloud of darkness that was choking the life out of the little island, a miasma of hopelessness that crept into corners everywhere. People tried to adapt -- members of the Angry Elf gang got jobs working for property management companies and Realtors, who were the sort of people that appreciated a certain level of savagery in their dealings.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic and Dawn wondered how long they could hold out. They, too, had been slammed with a134% rent increase. The letter sat there on the bar through the night as the regulars came and went. Inside the bar it was warm and convivial as the remnants of the latest storm lashed the street and the windows with cold rain.

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

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

 

APRIL 8, 2018

ANIMAL FARM

Image taken at the edge of someone's driveway. Always nice to dive into a good book.

APRIL, COME SHE WILL

So anyway, we have enjoyed a couple late season dockwallopers bringing 3 inches of rain in a matter of hours in some places, but reports from the Dweebers and High Sierra say that these storms did not make much of a dent in the meager snowpack up there which stands at 50% of normal. What normal is, or was, may change as we get used to these new normal conditions caused by global climate change.

There's a lot of fake news running around in this Post Truth Era. We will have none of that. Sean Hannity was found roistering in a hot tub with several underage girls from a Washington DC high school. People did not pay much attention to Ann Coulter getting stark naked with Steve Bannon and a terrified pig in a hotel room. People did not pay attention because Ann Coulter is hideous when naked, but because Donald Trump finally showed his true colors after replacing every capable person in Washington with ineffectual bozos, savaging international trade, wrecking the relationship with both NATO and the UN, destroying every positive relationship the US has ever had with each one of its allies, and castrating the Intelligence community with mass firings, the Trump boarded a Russian SUV with the code briefcase to abandon the US for Russia where a lavish dacha had been prepared for his lavish retirement by his friend Vladimir Putin. La Puta, as he called, welcomed Trump with open arms and Trump was heard to say, "Americans are so stupid. They are all losers and their really big loss in the coming war is gonna be the greatest thing. Russians know how to treat good people and I am absolutely the best, if I say so myself."

Shoulda seen it coming, folks. We tell only the Truth around here. Never ever told a lie.

The bus arrived at Silvan Acres, stopped and a single figure stepped down, carrying only a small, brown, leather valise. He was not tall, but not short and his hair was thinning up top and his visage looked familiar to Pahrump who observed him from the Arbor Bench which had been placed by well-meaning individuals at a spot that they had anticipated would be the bus stop, but which, due to government bureaucracy and the vagaries of bureaucratic decisions wound up off the map as a nice place to sit but no place to wait for a bus that would never arrive.

Such is the nature of Silvan Acres, where often the goal is attempted but seldom achieved. There is a statue in what would pass for a downtown, had Silvan Acres ever developed such a thing. It is the Statue of The Unknown Miner, who stands in bronze with his shovel lifted and a look on his face some say is that of bewilderment instead of discovery. No matter. A family of swallows have established abode beneath his broadbrimmed hat and the glade is always mowed, although no one seems to know whose responsibility it happens to be. No gold was ever found in these parts, which is just as well, for gold has seldom brought prosperity or good luck to any community in which it has been discovered.

When residents want goods and services they "go down the hill", which means ascending over Whites Hill on the Sir Francis Drake Freeway and then dropping down into Fairfax, which itself is not that populous or sophisticated. Fairfax features an excellent ice cream shop, a couple fairly good and overpriced restaurants, a decent bicycle repair place, a hole-in-the-wall gym made in the old style that is above reproach, a thoroughly incompetent automobile garage with gas pumps, and a couple thousand inhabitants entirely dissatisfied with the state of Progress. There is also an overpriced market that is patroned by yuppies on the go and people lacking ambition to drive further to the somewhat more reasonable Safeway the next town over.

In any case, Pahrump approached the man, who seemed to recognize him.

"Where is my brother," said the man.

Pahrump inhaled. Then he exhaled a long breath. He turned to look at a tree standing in the middle of the glade bounded by a rustic log fence. "Your brother has experienced a change. You are now the Editor."

"I do not understand," said the new Editor. "There is much to explain."

"Welcome to Silvan Acres," Pahrump said.

"I got this letter," the Editor said. "Very little made any sense."

"Welcome to Marin," Pahrump said. "You will learn not much makes sense here."

A man pedaling a recumbent bicycle and wearing a furry Dr. Seuss top hat passed them. Several people going to some kind of party arrived to board the waiting bus. Each of them wore full length body costumes covered in neon pink, green, red and blue fur. Only their faces were exposed.

"Right," said the Editor.

The two of them went to the new Island-Life offices, which were as yet unfurnished. It was just a bare room with an area in the back accessed by a short set of stairs.

For the rest of the day Pahrump and Martini collected abandoned shelves, chairs, desks that had been put out beside the road with "Free" signs taped to them. They used a rusty Flexible Flyer children's wagon and Pahrump's scooter to fetch the things which became the furnishings for the new Offices.

"One good thing about Marin," Martini said. "The trash is high quality."

Back on the Island, Padraic was compelled to refurbish the jukebox since Denby no longer provided music. He tried at first to get various acoustic replacements, but most were more well-intentioned than accomplished. In the Old Same Place Bar, things hummed along quietly. An amorous couple occupied the Snug where Denby used to sit, looking like they were getting set to produce a blue movie. Where Old Schmidt had occupied a stool for years, various patrons came and went. Eugene Gallipagus occupied his end of the bar with a Fat Tire ale as usual. Outside it was chill and damp -- the Most Dangerous Season had not yet begun although there were signs. Freesias had erupted all over the place, filling the air with heady scent.

During the lulls, Suzie sat behind the bar, reading her Anthropology book and the chapter on the cheerful and friendly Bonobo and their mating rituals while the Man from Minot chatted up Latreena Brown.

It was a quiet night on the Island. No sirens rent the air and nobody got shot and nobody got stabbed.

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

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

 

APRIL 1, 2018

SPRING

This week's image comes courtesy of Carol Taylor, an artist living in the Gold Coast district of the Island. She says about this image, "Some days need flowers more than others."


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

What has gotten into the kids lately.

A sixth-grade student was arrested Thursday after allegedly threatening two San Rafael schools, authorities said.

Staff at James B. Davidson Middle School at 280 Woodland Ave. notified resource officer Michael Mathis Thursday that a student made threatening statements on a school bus Wednesday afternoon regarding a shooting at two schools, San Rafael police Sgt. Lisa Holton said.

"Several witnesses reported the incident to their parents, who then notified school officials," Holton said.

Mathis and school administrators investigated the threat, interviewed the 12-year-old boy and contacted his parents.

We have to wonder about the "safe and legal" component referenced in this news item. There are just too many provoking details about this story to let it pass without mention. If only the victim's name was "Rambo."

A Napa man who died while drag racing Wednesday night at Sonoma Raceway was publicly identified by the Sonoma County Sheriff-Coroner's Office Thursday morning as 75-year-old James Kenneth Rambo. Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Crum said deputies responded to the scene to investigate Rambo's death, which occurred at about 6 p.m. at the raceway located at 29355 Arnold Drive in Sonoma.

"Rambo had been drag racing his 1976 customized Ford Pinto in an organized contest," Crum said. "At the conclusion of the drag race, after he crossed the finish line, it appears he braked but his vehicle pulled to the left and he hit a k-rail at over 100 mph."

An ambulance crew responded and made life-saving efforts but Rambo died from his injuries, Crum said.

When the fatal incident occurred, Rambo was participating in Wednesday Night Drags, also known as Sonoma Drags & Drifts. The program gives people including teenagers and working professionals a place to race their vehicles in a safe, legal and controlled environment rather than on city streets.

And a Pinto? A PINTO?! WTF!

The funding for local support of the anti-terrorism initiative called Urban Shield was kiboshed in Alameda County, but the Supes did an about face recently.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 at the end of a contentious hearing today to fund the sheriff's office's controversial "Urban Shield" first-responder training exercise this year but not in future years in its current format.

The vast majority of the more than 100 public speakers at the four-hour hearing on the training exercise the sheriff's office has hosted every September since 2007 alleged that it is racist and xenophobic and has a negative impact on communities of color and immigrants.

The motion that was approved by four of the board's five members calls for the exercise format in 2019 and future years to focus more on training for natural disasters and less on terrorism and on weapons vendors. Supervisor Keith Carson, who authored the motion, said, "The term 'urban shield' is volatile."

Carson said 2018 "is the last year for Urban Shield going forward" and "Urban Shield as we know it ends after this year."

Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who wanted the exercise to continue in its current format as long as Sheriff Gregory Ahern agreed to several reforms, was the lone board member to vote against Carson's motion.

The board's vote means that the county will accept $5.5 million in Urban Shield Area Security Initiative funds so the sheriff can host the training exercise again this September at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

Those funds originate from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The reason that many community leaders are against this program had to do with the increasingly militarization of the police and the separation of the police from the Communities it serves.

After the public comment portion of the meeting concluded, Supervisor Nate Miley said, "Some people's opinions were a bit inflammatory." Ahern said afterward that the meeting was "very emotional".

Supervisor Wilma Chan said the relationship between the community and law enforcement goes up and down over time and "the problem is a lot of stuff has happened" in recent years to make the community wary of law enforcement and shows of force.

Mill Valley Library sends us notices of events from time to time, so we will begin adding these items to the Calendar. This week will feature aeronautical adventures.

Join MVL for a night of hair-raising aeronautical adventure as Betty Goerke shares the story of America's first transcontinental air race from her new book: A Broken Propeller.

In Oct 1919, fifty-nine pilots flying in open cockpits and with no parachutes, competed in a long distance round trip air race that began simultaneously in San Francisco and Long Island. What began as an ill-advised scheme to promote the future of flight turned into an endless fight for survival amidst crashes, emergency landings, extreme weather, and faulty machinery. Goerke brings a special knowledge to this story as her father, 1st Lt. Ralph (Baz) Bagby, was one of only eight pilots who actually completed the race.

Registration recommended.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the San Anselmo Public Library invites you to its 15th annual community poetry reading, Night of the Poets, on Thursday April 26 at 7pm. Poetry is meant to be read aloud and we invite community members of all ages to join in the fun by sharing a poem or listening to others recite.
The evening will include readings by celebrated local poets Prartho Sereno and Janet Jennings. Registration begins on Monday, April 2. If you would like to share a poem (in 2 minutes or less) at Night of the Poets, sign up at the reference desk or email sleyland@townofsananselmo.org.

YOU CAN DRIVE NATURE OUT WITH A PITCHFORK, BUT . . .

So anyway. The settlement of Silvan Acres is an unicorporated state of mind that resides west of Fairfax and off the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, that now functions as a sort of rural freeway in the area. Because the speedlimit wicks up to 55 right there at the entrance to the place, most people entirely ignore the presence of this hamlet .

If you were to irritate drivers behind you and slow down to take the entrance there between the trees, you would travel a good half mile of road hemmed in by overarching oaks and redwoods before arriving at the hub of Silvan Acres, a country store with overpriced Quesadillas and bottles of cheep wine and the usual deli offerings. Nobody residing in Silvan Acres ever goes there. It is frequented by the bicyclists that swarm this area of the country.

Up the road the County maintains its Western County call center for fire response in a forest clearing. At this facility, several water rescue craft are kept for lake rescues. A water treatment plant resides on San Geronimo Road and there is a bland electrical substation. Other than that, there are no official buildings. There is no City Hall and no general meeting place. There is the Silvan Acres Improvement Club, which features a swimming pool, a fairly useless weightroom, a meeting hall, and a very useful parking lot that is more important than all of the above. Next to the SIC extends Warner Field, the storied Field of Dreams.

There is not much in Silvan Acres other than people and dogs. There are poodles from time to time, but they do not last long for the coyotes ranging freely dispatch useless animals with quick efficiency.

Jose stepped out from the rattletrap porch to see a faun grazing upon the foliage. At that time, Martini had not yet completed the Fortress Wall with the help of Pahrump, Denby, Tipitina, Sarah and Suan. So the faun stood there, doe-eyed as they are wont to do as Martini walked up to it surrounded by the Disney fog of his imagination. Perhaps he wanted to pet the wild creature. No one knows, for a very large, muscular female deer appeared with rage in its eyes and a clear look of "keep away from MY baby!"

Bonkers and Wickiwup ran out to join the fun and, fortunately for Martini but not so much for Bonkers, the doe launched a savage kick that lifted the thirty-pound dog into the air and tossed him some ten feet.

Mr. Gruffman, their neighbor came hauling around the corner, shouting and carrying a baseball bat.

"Keep away from them damn things!" Mr. Gruffman shouted. "They are wild and mean and they be dangerous as all hell!"

Martini backed off as the mom-deer came at him with flying hooves. A nasty kick caught Wickiwup in the head so that he staggered back and wandered in a circle with his mouth foaming in a daze.

The faun, meanwhile had scampered off to safety, but mom-deer felt a need to provide rearguard coverage, apparently, and as Martini tripped to fall on his ass, she prepared to destroy her enemy utterly. She launched a kick that would have shattered Martini's skull, but Mr. Gruffman intercepted her with the baseball bat, delivering a full shoulder swing which cracked on the deer's head with a solid report that echoed through the woods.

The deer sort of staggered back and wobbled as Mr. Gruffman grabbed Martini to haul him up the porch steps and into the house, closing the door just as the deer recovered and launched a fusillade of kicks on the solid core oak portal. One razor-sharp hoof snicked cleanly right through one and a half inches of solid oak panel. Martini and Mr. Guffman panted on the other side until the doe, satisfied with the damage it had wrought, went off to see about its precious baby.

"Them things kill a thousand Canadians a year," Mr. Guffman said. "This aint no Disneyland. Them deer travel in packs around here and carry switchblades, I am certain."

Such was Martini's introduction to living in the countryside.

On the Island, gorgeous weather brought out the wind surfers and the sailboarders, scudding just offshore like exotic birds or flamboyant insects. Newly empowered bicyclists roamed in droves, wearing their tight pants and neon-colored tops, animals donning plumage to initiate the Spring Season about to arrive. Freesias bloomed in profusion. Tulips had already erupted. The buckeyes had sprouted green shoots and everywhere acacia drooped yellow treasures, ephemeral and beautiful.

Even though a deplorable man-baby sullies the White House, even though those people attempt to drive out Nature with a pitchfork, it always comes roaring back.

Out on the sea-lanes, Pedro's boat coursed its way to the fishing grounds through the changing air. Yes, the Sea has Seasons, just like on land. Some of this is enforced by regulation. You take crab and shellfish during the cold water months. After that you shift to mackerel and then to albacore. But even without regulations, Pedro as an old salt can sniff the air and sense in a thousand undetermined ways that go back thousands of years the subtle changes that announce seasonal change. Maybe the algae blooms start to occur. Maybe certain fish have migratory patterns and start to appear or disappear around this time. Maybe it is the dolphins appearing and maybe the migration of the Leviathan, the Great humpback whales. All Pedro knew is that from year to year the seasons manifested themselves as natural and subtle changes.

The radio crackled and at times produced some sounds, but the program he loved that was produced by the Lutheran Pastor Rotschue had gone off the air. The man had been driven off by some sort of "Me Too" scandal and the network had decided to cut him loose rather than risk any sort of lengthy battle that would surely cost ratings and advertising.

So now Pedro was left alone out on the sea lanes where the radio had been his only companion, save perhaps for his Second Mate, who once had been Tugboat and now was Ferryboat with a woof.

Tugboat had been a greathearted dog for many years and he had fought the Great White that had started to destroy the ship with ferocity and so died as greathearted dogs will do, throwing all towards defense of the Pack and the Master.

Now, getting older and pretty certain now none of the kids were going to follow the path of the sea, Pedro shifted his creaking bones as the Seasons revolved. Maybe it was that sense of being invisibly accompanied on each voyage. He was composing the story of himself as a fisherman by doing it from day to day. A story that some absent Creator might read some day. Now, alone on the sea, he was doing all for Company and he hoped that his fisherman's story would help the one who was troubled.

In a sense, Pedro realized, he had become a fisher of men and that perhaps he should devise his own radio program, so as to aid lost souls out there in the darkness.

The time was coming when he would no longer be able to man the winch that hauled up tons of albacore. He would have to find a way to keep his hand in the game. But he could become a lighthouse man.

And the game was set long ago at the foot of a cross as men threw dice for a hanged man's last belongings. Three days later something arose from the tomb.

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

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

 

MARCH 25, 2018

SOMEWHERE, OVER THE RAINBOW

This past Saturday saw nationwide protests about the gun violence against children. As 340,000 people converged on the Mall in Washington DC, a few hundred gathered in Santa Rosa. At the close of the protest march this stunning omen appeared above the church where the marchers had left their signs.

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

As noted above, protest marches occured nationwide in all major cities with hundreds of thousands of people gathering in Washington, Portland, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and other places.

We must be avaunt on the Island, for our students did their thing Wednesday, March 14th, when hundreds of Island students marched through the rain Wednesday, March 14, as part of a national movement calling for gun reform and improved safety measures in schools. Students marched down Central Avenue to a rally at Lower Washington Park.

On related news, a common thread was noticed on the Island and up in Marin where schools when into lockdown modes due to reports of threats of violence and/or police activity.

Smash and grab crimes have skyrocketed across the water in Babylon which is now seeing 13 car break-ins a day. That is 13x365 if you want to do the math to get the annual total.

Now that sort of crime is happening here on the Island and in Marin with increasing frequency. In Marin, thieves do not go to mall parking lots monitored with cameras. They smash the windows of cars parked in home driveways and run off.

Check out the blog post at www.stevehockensmith.com/2018/03/monkey-shines.html about the missing monkey stolen from a car parked at the Target parking lot March 2. No thieves do not have a heart; they are jerks.

Latest news has the Sierra snowpack now at 50% of normal, which is not especially good, but a lot better than it was before the last few storms. We and the Dweeb Report expect the next storms to drop very "wet" snow and mixed rain and sleet at elevation, which when accompanied by warm temps does not lead to any serious accumulation.

Ski lifts are operating, but expect the snow to get slushy pretty soon and pretty fast. High avalanche danger in the high elevations, so stay away from cornices. You know what to do if you are up there.

WOKE UP DREAMING / I WAS GONNA DIE

So anyway. Some people may wonder that since the Island-Life Offices burned down on the Night of Fire, two issues remain outstanding. Firstly, how is it the enterprise continues to put out its content. Because it is clear you are reading this sentence right now and the masthead indicates an unbroken continuum.
Secondly, what on earth became of Chad, the coder?

To deal with the more insignificant issue first, let us say that the morning after the Night of Fire, Chad pushed open the trapdoor that lead down to the HTML Hell dungeon and was amazed to see the entire place destroyed.

All the desks were gone. The lamps and computers had been rendered into piles of molten plastic and slag. The wind blew across the cindered landscape and a pile of charred timbers stood where the jalousie had bulwarcked the Editorial Offices.

Where the Editor's cube had once stood, there remained only piles of shattered glass in this new Kristalnacht.

Chad wandered down the aisles that had been destroyed by the wrath of the Angry Elf and, as was his nature, wandered off to his bungalow on Bungalow Court where he took up his computer and surfed the web.

Tammy, his patient and loving consort of many years entered to find him alive, to her mixed pleasure as he had missed two dinners already, and said, "Chad, you stink."

"I love you, dear," said Chad, who was always politic.

"I mean you stink of smoke and ash and burning. Take off your clothes now!"

When one's mate demands that one disrobe immediately, one does not question, for anything eruptive may follow.

Let us depart this delicate familial scene and consider how Island-Life continues although its main offices have been destroyed.

In truth, like all responsible businesses, Island-Life had paid lots of money to a high-priced consultant for an IDR Plan.

What is an IDR plan, you ask?

A good IDR plan produces the results that AMEX experienced when its nerve center in the World Trade Center was destroyed by maniacs on 9/11.

Did you miss a payment or fail to pay a bill because of that? No you did not. That is the result of a good IDR plan. Do not ask us what the letters stand for -- no one now remembers. The fact is, it works due to the magic of IT.

The Island-Life IDR was unconventional. It involved a network of hamsters and hedghogs carrying flashdrives that held backup data. It was the distributed backup schema of course. When the Household of Marlene and Andre established foothold, they had Festus, the messenger hamster. Mainly, they needed to rebuild the large Habitot that had once occupied some 600 square feet. This would take some doing. Fortunately in Marin there is no dearth of tubing due to the local mania for irrigation. Why construct elaborate irrigation systems in the only place in California that does not suffer from want of water is anyone's guess. It is not like people are maintaining Subsistence Gardens in large numbers for most of the foliage is entirely for show with no edible qualities whatsoever. Go figure.

On a grey, foggy day in Silvan Acres a grizzled man stepped off of the bus and looked around. He was the Editor's unacknowledged son who had answered the IDR summons, which he did not understand, but it promised in the text a free drink.

The Editor's unacknowledged son was a complete alcoholic for various reasons, but the IDR plan had all of this built-in.

The Editor's son set up shop in a Silvan Acres shed which he filled with filched and borrowed equipment. Martini was very instrumental, as the man ported over his skills as a scavenger from the East Bay with great effect. As soon as he had his internet up, Chad sent a message saying he would be happy to continue at his usual fee, but physically coming to Silvan Acres presented a problem. He would have to remain a Road Warrior Remote Worker. Something about carting his oxygen tanks and his COPD.

Rachel sent a message, saying that she was also available for remote work, but she would be damned if she ever got on a ship without a decent telephone ever again.

These past few days have seen drenching downpours and as the son of the Editor puttered about the new offices of Silvan Acres, putting things into place, setting the paper cutter properly in the Xerox room, although few people ever use a Xerox anymore, aligning the hole punch machine and the MFP thingie with its supplies as the MFP thingie is an insatiable beast, things started to fall into place.

What was the Island is becoming Silvan Acres. And in the late hours, the mists swelled in the vale and drifted through the trees and the coyotes appeared, howling and yipping just outside the door as if to welcome the enterprise to this wildness that was part of Old California, the part of California that remained a Republic despite hundreds of years of isolation.

As he stood there, a sphinx moth banged against the screen of the window. His father used to wander the sandy paths with a net and although he was gone, transformed into some other shape which is all we know of death, tonight was a good night for mothing.

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

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

 

MARCH 18, 2018

BUS STOP

Bus Stop was the first hit single by the Hollies in 1966. The song was written by UK songwriter and future 10cc member Graham Gouldman. In a 1976 interview Gouldman said the idea for the song had come while he was riding home from work on a bus. The opening lines were written by his father, playwright Hyme Gouldman who often assisted his son with word choice in song writing. It is a sweetly innocent song that is quite different in tone and origins than what came later in the 1960's

This week's image, which clearly shows the effects of the recent rains, comes courtesy of Cathy who lives in Woodacre.

Bus stop, wet day
She's there, I say
Please share my umbrella

Bus stops, bus goes
She stays, love grows
Under my umbrella

All that summer we enjoyed it
Wind and rain and shine
That umbrella we employed it
By August she was mine

Every morning I would see her
Waiting at the stop
Sometimes she'd shop
And she would show me what she'd bought

Other people stared
As if we were both quite insane
Someday my name and hers
Are going to be the same

That's the way the whole thing started
Silly but it's true
Thinking of our sweet romance
Beginning in a Queue

Came the sun
The ice was melting
No more sheltering now
Nice to think that that umbrella
Led me to avow

Every morning I would see her
Waiting at the stop
Sometimes she'd shop
And she would show me what she'd bought

Other people stared
As if we were both quite insane
Someday my name and hers
Are going to be the same

Came the sun
The ice was melting
No more sheltering now
Nice to think that that umbrella
Led me to a vow


LIL CAUGHT THE WESTBOUND

We will not harp on it, but the late Lil Arnerich could have taught the current crop of rowdy rascals inhabiting Silly Council and the Mayor's office a thing or two about reasoned discourse, level-headedness, and responsibility as public servants. Okay on with the news . . . .

Our irrepressible Council put the City Manager on hold for -- what? -- complaining about undue pressure from Council members with regards to the hiring process of current of the new Alameda Fire Department (AFD) Fire Chief. Turns out an independent investigative report from investigator Michael Jenkins from the California law firm Jenkins & Hogin, revealed just that. Undue influence was exercised. Talk about killing the messenger ....

13 people were put on 5150 three day hold for psychiatric evaluation last week. O our sweet, sick, little Island!

DOWN THE HILL

Up north, to where we are shifting our focus, we note that David Donery, Town Manager for San Anselmo, reported in the recent Council News report that April has been designated "Fair Housing Month". Yeah. We will see what comes of that sentiment among the well-matriculated and well-endowed hills of Marin.

This one really caught our eye: "- Approved Resolution Conditionally Accepting the Offer of Street Dedication for a Segment of The Alameda (from east of Arroyo Avenue to east of Berkeley Avenue) and Approve the ‘The Alameda Improvements Project’ and Authorize Staff to Advertise for Bids."

Turns out The Alameda is a street that sort of meanders behind the Ross Valley Fire Station until it suddenly turns into a fractured roadway of ruts and ruined pavement just past a sign that reads "Not maintained by Town". Why not maintained by Town is anybody's guess. Maybe the people who live there do not pay property taxes, although we suspect that is not true.

We would guess the "dedication" concerns that part east of the sign. Stay tuned for more Marin County weirdness and jarring disconnects.

Residents of Marin from Larkspur to Woodacre were treated to several showers of hail these past two weeks. Temps have been dipping to near freezing at night and hovering in the low forties while the fogs have been steaming.

A number of towns have banded together to unify police services under the Central Marin Police Department. The CMPD, a fairly new organization to this area which used to feature a number of fractured independent municipal forces, has the following helpful advice.

How do I get a copy of a police or traffic accident report?
Please call the Records Section at 415-927-5150 to confirm the report is available. Reports are usually ready for pick up in about 7-10 business days. Report cost: $10.00, Log Entry cost: $3.00. Certain offense reports may not be released if the case is active or under investigation. No juvenile information will be released.

I will be out of town for a week. Will the police watch my home?
Yes. This is what we call a "Vacation Watch." Please call, 415-927-5150 to request a Vacation Watch. Please have trip dates and emergency contact numbers available when you call. We may ask additional questions about the vacancy of your home.

When does the police department do public fingerprinting?
We do not do public fingerprinting. You may contact the Marin County Sheriff's Office at 415-479-2311.

How can I check on the status of my criminal investigation?
Contact the specific investigative unit at 415-927-5150 or the Marin County District Attorney's Office at 415-499-6450.

How do I find out if someone has been arrested?
Please call CMPA Dispatch at 415-927-5150.

How do I get my car out of impound?
First, you will need to provide us with the vehicle license plate number or the vehicle identification number. If you are the owner, you must have a valid California Driver license. If the vehicle is currently registered, you need to call the Traffic Unit at 415-927-5150 for a Tow Hearing. You will be responsible for towing and storage fees to the tow company. You may also be responsible for administrative fees to CMPA. There are vehicle codes and municipal codes that allow CMPA to charge up to $314.00. If your vehicle was impounded for driving without a license and has been previously towed for the same violation, it may be held up to 30 days. You will have to contact the Traffic Unit at 415-927-5150. You will have to contact the Records Section to obtain a release at 415-927-5150.

How do I get a police employee to speak to my group?
You can call the Watch Commander at 415-927-5150

Let It Rain, Let it Pour, Let it Rain a whole lot more

Last report from the State watershed folks revealed that before the recent storms we had an average snowpack of 39% percent of normal, indicating that drought conditions will continue. We expect this recent storm and the one coming Tuesday may push the average to a shade below 50% - still not enough to kill the drought.

Further south we note the Mill Valley Public Library hosts events, of which we will dutifully notify you.

SEAN BUI

So anyway, Mr. Howitzer got over his dismay at losing the lucrative property on Otis that had housed Marlene and Andre's Household for so many years. He was not concerned that most of the former inhabitants had disappeared -- that just meant he had fewer issues with retaining the security deposit as well as last month's rent. No, Mr. Howitzer had in mind a plan to build up a nine story condo complex where the cottage once stood. He felt that getting around the City height restrictions with a variance should be a piece of cake with the present Council composed as it was, of ne'er do wells.

He still remained peeved about the loss of his yacht, the Indomitable, which had vanished one dark and stormy night. If he had known the truth, that the corrupt DePuglia brothers had not built their dry dock scaffold high enough above the tide mark to compensate for a neep tide plus a storm swell along with their usual cutting of corners he would have been even more furious.

The day after the storms other boats properly dry-docked all around the place had survived quite well. The Harbormaster had only one pithy thing to say about it: "Cheap-ass SOB! Serves him right!"

This Saturday being St. Patrick's Day, a day more celebrated outside of the Old Sod than within, and often for good reasons, the Old Same Place Bar made ready for a gangbuster weekend.

All the gang was there, save for some conspicuous absences. The talk around the bar was about what had happened to any number of people who had disappeared on the Night of Fire. Denby had not been seen for three weeks now. Nor had the Editor.

Midweek a violent dockwalloper had set in with hail and wind and all sorts of mischief. Hard ice pellets had pounded the docks for hours and the Bann Se had wailed about the chimney as they are wont to do when someone is about to die, for the Se come from Tir nan Og, the fairyland where time and all appearances are sent in a whirlwind. Late at night Dawn heard the Bann Se and she prodded the slumbering Padraic.

"Some-what is about to happen!" said Dawn.

"If you keep poking me, some-what will happen for sure," Padraic said.

"I don't mean that," Dawn said. "But somat is aboot ta happen."

"Sure enough," Padraic said out of his somnolence."Go back to sleep."

Along came time for the annual celebration of the Irish and the wearing of the Green by wannabees and the usual fol de rol about coffee mixed with the Water of Life, which they never do back on the Old Sod. All the tables out in the round had candles to light the night.

And all the usual crowd was in the Old Same Place Bar with a cheerful clatter and chatter within, when Suzie realized after serving Eugene on his usual stool she never would see Denby or the Editor again and she never would pass her exams to get out of there and was stuck there in that bar working the night shift until dawn for ages to come and it was clear she could not go on as before and she started to cry.

Then the door was open and the wind appeared. The candles blew and then disappeared. The curtains flew and then he appeared... Saying don't be afraid. . .

The Wee Man had returned after long absence.

He strode up to the bar and climbed up upon the stool and ordered a Guinness and a shot and a Fat Tire while waiting for the Guinness to stack.

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

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

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

Dear friends it seems there are fewer here around the bar than in years past. We cannot account for that for time must have its math which consists largely of subtractions. I have this to say.

When things go wrong and will not come right
Though you do the best you can
When life looks black as the hour of night
A pint of plain is your only man

When money's tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran
When all you have is a heap of debt
A pint of plain is your only man

When health is bad and your heart feels strange
And your face is pale and wan
When doctors say you need a change
A pint of plain is your only man

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan
When hunger grows as your meals are rare
A pint of plain is your only man

In time of trouble and lousey strife
You have still got a darling plan
You still can turn to a brighter life
A pint of plain is your only man

"Naow!" exclaimed the Wee Man. "Where be my friends, the daft musician and the darlint rodent named Festus and the Editor and all those I have loved over the years where are they now? I do not see them here!"

It came to Padraic to explain that they were gone to the far north and would not come here again for fear of the Angry Elf gang and fire and the shards of broken glass left after the Night of Fire.

"I see you have not taken care of your own full well," said the Wee Man. "It was said, 'Wnen I was hungry, you gave me food. When I was naked you gave me clothing. When I was in need, you provided', yet this scripture you have not followed so I ask of you when the time came to stand up and be counted what did you do?"

When the Wee Man struck the table lightning bolts flew out across the room.

"Good heavens and bananas!" said Larry Larch, he of the almost nonprofit Pushy People Anonymous organization (PPA). "Who or what are you?"

"What am I?" said the Wee Man, reflecting. "Well I have been myself all day."

"Well I most humbly apologize sir," Larry said.

"Apology accepted," said the Wee Man. "What then are you, pray tell?"

"Me?" said Larry Larch. "I am the proprietor of the East Bay chapter of the PPA. We take on known cases of pushy people hopelessly addicted to obnoxiousness and attempt to cure them."

"O!" said the Wee Man. "And just how do you do that?"

"Group therapy and a service animal."

"A service animal indeed!?"

"Yes. A service animal. Usually a dog. Sometimes a badger."

"And what does the service animal do for the afflicted? Teach them warmth and compassion?"

"O goodness no! That is impossible. We seek to retrain behavior that will gently guide the obnoxious soul back within the boundaries of conventional, polite society. The service animal watches for bad behavior and if perceived -- things like browbeating, over-assertion of parking places, asserting ridiculous opinions about minorities, talking loudly in restaurants -- the animal bites them."

"Well," said the Wee Man. "As I see you pursue an honorable trade and are besides a bit daft, I shall not kill you."

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

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

A faery fart is something about which to contemplate at a later time.
.
The door opened and two of the Angry Elf gang slunk into the bar. It was the Cackler and Bryan Gump. Gump traded in stolen bank account numbers from his fake print shop in Oaktown while the Cackler engaged mostly in minor acts of terrorism -- usually blowing up cars and setting them on fire in front of certain recalcitrant businesses.
He was fond of kicking housecats across the room like footballs wherever he went. Both he and Gump were quite odious.

"What have we here?" said the Cackler.

"A weed not quite grown," said Bryan.

The gang members had become quite emboldened since the Night of Fire, for they had gotten away yet again with so much evil and many of their enemies had left town.

"Well, lets encourage the weed to grow!" said the Cackler, who took up a water pitcher and made as if to pour it on the head of the Wee Man. As was his nature, he lacked the courage to actually perform the act, but threatened to do so.

To his astonishment the pitcher rose up despite his strength and poured the contents upon his head, then magically refilled to dump on the head of Bryan Gump before refilling again somehow to repeat the action on the Cackler to the astonishment of everybody. A small terrier dog that was with Larry Larch went over and bit both men upon the ankles.

Meanwhile the Wee Man calmly sipped his Guinness for Guinness is good for you.

The two drenched gang members left the bar, pursued by the inexhaustible pitcher.

Having finished his Guinness the Wee Man stood up upon the bar, saying, ""Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the hell, whither thou hasten."

"That was Ecclesiastes," said Suzie aloud. "Verse 9:10."

"Young lady, this year I predict you shall finally find a man worth your time," and the Wee Man pointed at her.

"O nuts!" Suzie said. "All the men that is are not worth a load of rock salt."

"We shall see!" said the Wee Man. "You have been unlucky in love, and we could talk about it at length, but I must now return to Tir nan Og." And with that the Wee Man clapped his hands and there was a flash and the lights went out. When the lights came back on with Padraic throwing the breaker switch the Wee Man had disappeared.

"O heavens!" Dawn said looking past her waistband. "The Wee Man has done it yet again!"

Padraic strode off to the restroom with a red face and Suzie sat down on her stool abruptly crossing her legs and placed her anthropology book on her lap.

The Man from Minot whispered in the ear of a fetching gal sitting at the tables and the two of them went out giggling. "Cant wait to get them off ya," someone heard the gal say.

Larry's terrier ran around in circles -- it was wearing a charming set of mini-boxers.

When Padraic came back he said, "The man's a sodding pervert!"

"Are ya meaning to go around the rest of the night commando, so to speak, Padraic?" said Dawn coyly.

"Humph!" was all Padraic said.

Once again, the Wee Man had transformed everyone's knickers into unmentionables the nature of which matched each person's secret disposition. Or fantasy.

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

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

MARCH 12, 2018

WINTER IS THE CURTAIN, BUT SPRING TAKES THE BOW

So you have had it with somber skies and rain and snow in some places and cold, dank days. Signs are appearing everywhere that something is about to change, as this image of a Japanese plum tree attests.

Take heart my friends. Winter will not last forever, nor will Trump and his ilk. You can drive Nature out with a pitchfork, as a friend used to say, but it always comes roaring back.

HOME, HOME IS WHERE I WANNA BE

So anyway. The fogs returned to the Bay, which is the one thing, weather-wise, that has not changed, for when the fogs return, that means the seasons are about to change.

All along the narrow lanes of old town, the gardens are starting to produce tender shoots.
Up along the winding roads of Marin, the buckeyes, barren for so long, now start to erupt new green florets. Up through the ashes that extend for miles along highway 29, small green buds appear.

Up in the snow country, the first arrows announcing tulips have pierced the crusty cover.

Small events are taking place down there beneath the snow. Something definitely is going on down there.

Ms. Ameida's chickens have started to venture from their warm, dry roost in this time, running the risk of enticing the racoons and other predatory creatures.

The students of Ms. Morales have started preparing green shamrocks for the Irish Day in expectation that Easter is not far behind.

Much on the Island has not changed at all, despite recent events. The Island will always be an island, with its own idiosyncracies and peculiar attachments no matter how hard the developers and landlords seek to destroy it. Eventually the Island will become just like Manhattan, a sort of insular idea of itself that contains many contradictions, but nevertheless retains character.

Overhead, the wheel of stars has brought the figure of Orion around to the full view of anyone who looks up.

Out on the sea-lanes, Pedro piloted his boat, El Borracho Perdido, with his first mate Ferryboat in the cabin giving woof to the wave.

He missed the old radio program once hosted by Pastor Rotschue, for the newer fellow felt although very ernest and young, not quite the same sort of avuncular voice that had helped guide Pedro on the sea-lanes for some thirty years.

Yet change is something to be expected. Old friends die and old traditions morph into other practices. You cannot fossilize, for there you die and sit there like a prune in a dish and who wants that in their bed!

The other night he thought he had seen a yacht on radar, perhaps in distress and drifting north without power, but no hail or flare was responded, so he had let it go. Maybe a smuggler or something into which he should not pry. Had he known that he had witnessed the final hours of the Indomitable he would have certainly done something. But as it stood, it was two ships in the night, passing with no notice of one another and these days so much of what used to be was now something strange.

The prow of the boat pounded the waves until it soon was time to drop the nets and begin the work that would last well past dawn. Some things never change, despite global climate and peculiar politics.

On the Island, the Old Same Place felt oddly empty as Padraic and Dawn prepared for the busy St. Paddy's day thing. Cardboard shamrocks went up and rainbows with pots of gold and glitter and, in anticipation of a return of the Wee Man, Dawn wisely set aside a store of comfy knickers, for that Wee Man was known for his naughty tricks over the years.

Indeed some things would not change after the Night of Fire.

Yet, as the sun faded behind the hills, Pahrump puttered on his scooter up the long alameda that led into Silvan Acres to arrive at the decrepit house that now sheltered the old Household of Marlene and Andre. With Pahrump was Martini, who had been much distressed to find his former home reduced to ashes and all his electronic projects utterly destroyed.

"This place looks like crap," Martini said.

Marlene came out on the porch wiping her hands with a dishrag.

"Hi Martini," Marlene said. "Welcome to your new home."

Right then the sound of the old ghost train, which only some innocents could hear, echoed across the hills and vales of Marin as it trundled its way along the path of the old railbed, passing through Yolanda Station and San Geronimo before cutting up through Silvan Acres over the ridge to vanish in the mists of time.

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

 

MARCH 4, 2018

WAITING ON A TRAIN

This image comes from a former train station depot that sat along the line that extended along what is now Sir Francis Drake Blvd out from San Rafael to the coast. Nothing of the old railbed remains save for a few of these relics scattered along the way.

As Island-Lifers will know we have a special fondness for old trains and train-lore. So here is the San Geronomo Depot. At the moment it is preserved as a museum and is closed for most of the year.


WHAT'S GOING ON

Island-life is shifting focus at the moment from Babylon, which has less and less of value to report these days, to East Bay and North Bay events. We continue to get PR's from the Alameda Rent Control people who have not stopped the good fight against greed and the destructive effects of the Rental Crisis. So stay tuned as we re-organize the offices.

HOME, HOME IS WHERE I WANNA BE

So anyway. In a glade on the edge of the tiny hamlet that turned out to be called Silvan Acres, various members of Marlene and Andre's Household made their goodbyes. Not far was an infrequently visited bus stop, which the girls Aisling and Jasmine told them would take one or all of them to San Rafael.

To their great astonishment, when the bus arrived, out stepped Marlene, Andre, Rolf, Suan and Snuffles, who told the shipwreck survivors that there was no going back as the old house had been entirely destroyed by fire when the old furnace had exploded. Destroyed, too, was the pink eviction notice sent by the greedy Mr. Howitzer, which had propelled Rolf and Suan to go looking for a new place over the past few weeks.

Mr. Howitzer had thought to capitalize upon the Air BnB craze and turn the place into a sort of high-priced hotel, but of course that plan would have to wait for some sort of reconstruction.

"Howsh go BOOM!" said Snuffles. "All gone! Eben my wine!" He looke disconsolate about that last fact.

The crew told Rolf and Suan all about how they had gotten on board Mr. Howitzer's dry-docked yacht with The Editor and how the boat had broken away from its moorings because Mr. Howitzer had gone cheap with N.Eptitude Construction and the hopelessly incompetant Depuglia Brothers and how the ship had drifted until it foundered and it was a miracle they had all survived.

Rolf and Suan had found a sort of ramshackle place in the woods rented by a squat man named Walter Nachhall. It leaked, it creaked, and it was infested with mice and scorpions lived in the attic, but it was something.

Rachel, who still had her apartment on the third floor of the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum, decided to return on the bus with Pahrump, who wanted to fetch his scooter. So they all hugged each other and said goodbye and Rachel climbed aboard and the little bus took off down the road to disappear down a long avenue of trees, perhaps never to see The Editor or her friends again.

"Speaking of whom", asked Marlene. "Where is the Editor?"

The castaways all looked at a tree growing in the middle of the glade.

"Tell you later," Javier said. "Let's go look at the house."

They all trooped up there over the warped boards of the porch and Rolph shoved the creaky door open with his shoulder.
A startled pigeon flew through the exposed rafters, allowing a fair amount of dusk to descend. Some kind of animal skittered in the fireplace chimney.

"It does need some fixup," Suan said. "But it's all we could afford."

Meanwhile, far away and across the Bay, Mr. Howitzer snarled to Dodd as he chauffeured the magnate from the ashes of his former rental property on Otis to the Marina, "I'll be damned if they get one penny from the security deposit! If there are any survivors that is!"

When they got to the marina where Mr. Howitzer went to check on the status of the yacht repainting, Mr. Howitzer was further incensed to discover instead of a freshly painted yacht a forest of broken timbers that had been the drydock frame.

"Where the hell is my boat?" shouted Mr. Howitzer.

Back at the former Household Martini and Tipitina stared in disbelief at the place where they had lived for years. The ironmongery garden still stood there and there stood Pahrump's scooter, a bit worse for wear with scorch marks on its frame, but the house was gone save for a pile of charred rubble.

"Where IS everybody?" Martini said.

As evening drew on and the air became chill, a solitary figure, somewhat bedraggled but yet walking with the statuesque stride of a dancer, descended the OX bus on Santa Clara to make her way down the street and up the steps of the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum, and then climb the weary three flights of stairs to the top floor and down the hall where someone had been waiting impatiently for dinner many hours.

The sound of heavy cat feet landing on the floor thumped through the apartment and there came the sound next of a hungry mewing.

"Hello Henry," said Rachel. "Back home again!"

"Meowrlrr!"

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

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

 

FEBRUARY 25, 2018

I WISH I HAD MY SCHAUKELPFERD BACK

If you head east out along the Tiburon peninsula you will find that the roadway makes an exaggerated bend around a large meadow and what appears to be a park before cutting up over the rise and down to Tiburon itself and the tony neighborhoods of Belvedere, NorCal's response to BonAir Heights and exclusive Beverly Hills. Most travelers bypass this cirque to get to their destinations, but centered in this park is a 3/4 sized bronze statue of a horse, who apparently, by nearby plaques, is named Blackie. So this entire meadow, causing the main thoroughfare to swing widely out of its way, is Blackie's Meadow.

Okay then. A Marin curiosity fixed upon the landscape as if it were some memorial without supporting history. Go figure. Kids like it so it cannot be all that bad.

 

WHAT'S GOING ON

Heard some quiet powerhouses are slipping into the Bay Area in March. Chris Smither, the go-to man for fingerpicking Appalachian style acoustic country blues -- now that Cephas and Wiggins are gone -- will be performing around the Bay at various venues, but most notably the new Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. The New Orleans born Native Son seems to be finally hitting his stride in his sixties after winning a battle against some personal demons.

In a very rare West Coast appearance, Richard Shindell will revivify his collaboration with Lucy Kaplansky and Dar Williams on Sunday, April 15. Richard left the US during the Bush Error to live as an expat in Rio de Janeiro and when he travels, tends to hug the Eastern Seaboard. He is a seeker, like Leonard Cohen was, attending a Catholic seminary before departing to attend a Zen Buddhist monastery. His lyrics are poetic, insightful, and packed with social conscience.

You may have noticed the sound of firecrackers and smelled the smoke. No, its not another shoot-out among the gangstas and the gangbangers. It is Chinese New Year! The Lunar New Year celebration began 02/16 and more or less ended on the 24th with parades everywhere, with notably the one in San Francisco featuring Gum Lung, the 268 foot-long Golden Dragon chasing the evasive ball. This is the Year of the Dog.

The Dog occupies the eleventh position in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac . You are a “Dog Chinese zodiac animal” if you are born in one of these years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018.

People born in the Year of the Dog are usually independent, sincere, loyal and decisive according to Chinese zodiac analysis. They are not afraid of difficulties in daily life. These shining characteristics make them have harmonious relationships with people around them.

Strengths
Valiant, loyal, responsible, clever, courageous, lively
Weaknesses
Sensitive, conservative, stubborn, emotional, critical

The element associated with this year is Earth. A survey of Horoscopes indicates a few things in common for Dog people -- uncertainty, stress, and change. 2018 will be a year in which Dog people need to find the balance between work and health more than any other time. Lovelife might take a beating, unless a Dog can find a good Rabbit, who also is forecast for an iffy year of troubles. Good fortune is not guaranteed and the year may end up with much frustration, especially regarding health while wealth might increase, with a big emphasize on maybe\might. This is a year to be mindful of changes, especially in lifestyle. Perhaps a good year to stop smoking and get exercise.

There is one notable person born under the dog sign we simply must mention, if only because of a first for this man.

According to Ivana Trump, the current United States president is not a dog lover. Donald Trump is the 4th American president born under the Dog Year (born on June 14, 1946), but is the first American president to hold presidency in the Year of the Dog and the only President to own no dog.

Other famous dogs include Elvis Presley, Dame Judi Dench, Sophia Loren, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Steven Spielberg, both Prince William and Kate Middleton, Justin Bieber, Madonna and Mother Teresa.

You dog you.


ANOTHER ROUND OF BLUES

So anyway, to recap what has happened over the past few weeks, should you, Dear Reader, just be returning to these pages now, inhabitants of Marlene and Andre's Household had to flee for their lives when the old furnace beneath the house, aging and decaying for years, wiring gnawed by rats, suddenly exploded on the night that the Angry Elf gang accidentally blew up their warehouse when a gang member lit a cigarette inside the building packed with incendiary material intended for arson attacks. The ensuing conflagration spread to several other buildings, including the Offices of Island-Life, forcing the Editor to flee with his laptop and a few items tossed into a haversack and slung over the oar given him as a present on his birthday a few years ago. With him went Rachel, the AA, and Festus, the hamster. They took refuge in Mr. Howitzer's dry docked yacht, not knowing that it had been the incompetent Depuglia brothers who had built the support trestle. The explosions of propane tanks along the shore shook the structure so much the boat slid back, powerless, into the water and drifted out into the Bay where they encountered Jose and Javier, and Pahrump in a dingy which had lost its power by way of running out of gas.

Denby, seeking to escape murderous members of the Angry Elf gang, first hit in the reeds by the shore, then poled out on a raft, intending to keep to the area that remained three feet deep for about one hundred yards, but he could not control the raft and so he, too drifted into the Bay until, caught by the same currents that had snagged the other two craft he came upon Mr. Howitzer's yacht adrift and sculled over to climb on board with the others.

We last left Mr. Howitzer's Indomitable drifting in a storm directly for the reefs at Sir Francis Drake Estuary when the keel of the doomed ship breaks upon the rocks and the cabin windows shatter.

###

The Editor trudged with his haversack and oar. He felt, in retrospect, that had he known what was to come, he would have done many things differently, but still wound up in the same place, the same time, the same situation. He was a man who had traveled far after the fall of Saigon. He had seen the cities of man and learned their ways and had many adventures. He had suffered much, due to the sadistic intransigence of the Angry Elf, and he had tried to save his companions, but he could not. They had devoured the cattle of the son of a Californian King who owned the Hyperion Ranch. Now they were kept in thrall under his harsh domain and prevented from going home.

Now begins this new story of a man who was never at a loss and the story of his people who became wanderers far from their Island home.

The morning after the Indomitable foundered on the reef, they were amazed to find each other alive, sodden and bedraggled on the shore of Drake's Estuary where once a thriving oyster farm had existed, but now was no more, so no sign of human life was there, but themselves as they pulled out of the sand, the Editor heaving up like Manannán, rising with rivulets of seagreen water pouring down.

Many were the ships that had foundered there on those reefs during the Spanish Colonial days. Drake, a more practiced and astute seaman than most, had escaped such a fate by deliberately careening his ship on the sand during known high tide. Others who followed, like Cermeno and Vizcaino had not been so practiced.

The main thing was that they survived. The next thing was how to proceed in an apparent un-peopled wilderness to continue to survive. Although none of them were thinking philosophically about this, but their condition was a classic California problem: you have encountered disaster and lost everything. What next?

This experience, among all others, unites Californians with something in common.

The mouth of Drake Estuary sits far out to the west, emitting tidal flow from various sloughs that congregate into a narrow inlet bounded by high rocky cliffs and a sort of gentle admittance on the east end where the oyster beds used to drape long strings of seed oysters into the brackish water.

The land is owned by the US Government as part of the National Park system, but a family had retained a 100 year lease to operate private industry there and the lease had recently expired, so now there remained only the country road paved with oyster shells and abandoned wood-frame buildings slated for either demolition or preservation as a museum, for the ways of the USNPS were mysterious and deep ever since the days of the Water Wars.

The Water Wars: that is another story told at another time.

So any way, it was up that dusty shellmound road the émigrés trudged, led by the Editor.

Eventually, after many adventures, they arrived at Point Reyes Station where they all boarded the bus. All seemed to bode well for returning home until a woman with a shi tzu began to yap about the Editor's oar threatening her wiffle wuffle dingus schweetie.

Dogs have always held a special place in Island-Life, but the crew found themselves in foreign parts where the attitudes of self-deception towards some dogs overwhelm the dictates of common decency and common sense.

The entire crew was put off in what seemed the middle of a forested nowhere, surrounded by tall trees and lush overgrowth and were told they were "fairly near Lagunitas", which meant nothing to any of them as the bus with its entitled rider with her shi tzu continued onward undisturbed.

"Go back to where you came from you hippies!" shouted the woman through the window.

The Editor, normally well dressed in button-down shirt, vest, slacks and docksiders, felt aggrieved by the state of their bedraggled, shipwrecked dress, but nothing was to be done. The troupe soldiered on

Along they marched until they came to a field on the right and, footsore and hungry and tired, they fanned out in that glade and two girls came upon them. One, with the biggest brown eyes you had ever seen looked at the Editor with his burden and said, "What is that?"

The Editor set down his rucksack. "Hello Missy. What is your name?"

As it turned out her name was Jasmine and her sister's name was Aisling.

"So what is that thing you carrying?" repeated Jasmine.

"So you really do not know what this is?" asked the Editor.

"We never seen nothing like that in Silvan Acres," Jasmine said.

"Then this must be the place," the Editor said. And with that he lifted the ship's oar high and brought it down to drive deep into the earth.

The trees trembled and the ground shook and the oar swelled with a cracking and sprouted branches and leaves and took root there and the branches enveloped the Editor as he stood until his body could not be seen anymore and where there had been a man and an oar suddenly stood there a tree.

They all stood there in shock.

"For Pete's sake," Javier said. "Now what do we do?"

Far from the sea, in a land where some people did not know the purpose of an oar, the sound of the ghost train that had once travelled the length of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard echoed in a wavery note as the train cut up the hill through unincorporated Silvan Acres, riding over the crest of the fog shrouded hills as it headed to a mysterious unknown destination in the dense forests of the north, leaving behind only the sound of nightbirds, farmyard dogs, and coyotes

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

 

FEBRUARY 18, 2018

THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT

 

This week we have an image done by Carol Balding Taylor who is an artist living in the Gold Coast area of the Island. Carol has been rendering images for quite a while and we are always pleased to present her work.

PSA I

From time to time we come across information important to us in NorCal which we share in the form of PSA's. From reader Thomas Hodge we have some important information which is going into the Sidebar.

As all of us know the past year has seen catastrophic fires succeeded by horrific slides as rains loosened fire denuded soil. Up along Sir Francis Drake we observed White's Hill come down with tons of earth onto the roadway and Highway 1 was blocked for months by the same sort of events north and south.

We are grateful to Mr. Hodge for supplying links to sites that describe what to do and how to do it regarding mudslide danger.

Mudslide Safety for the Home: How to Assess Your Risk and Take Preventative Action

Red Cross: Landslide Safety Checklist

Landslide & Mudslide Safety

Weather Wiz Kids: Landslides

PSA II

On a similar vein, a casual foray in the hardware store brought to our attention a commonly observed safety device called Emergency Hammer. The Emergency Hammer concept is obtained in two forms: a sort of dual spike hammer with a small razor built into the handle, which is meant to be mounted somewhere in the cab of the car\truck within easy reach, and a keychain device with a spring-loaded spike combined with a large razor edge that is protected by a plastic guard until ready for use.

Living on an Island, we get stories every year about cars driving off of bridges or docks only to be found weeks later with the occupants still inside, so this is not a minor matter for us. Just about everybody here pays attention to the problem of what to do if the car becomes submerged. Then again, you do not have to live on an Island. Marin County has been subject to flooding which has cost lives of people driving in automobiles through flooded zones.

To skip past about 100 Youtube videos we can say that if you own a late model car newer than 2016 you can toss both devices away in the garbage -- they will not work.

In fact, as of 2013, the NHSTA has mandated a change in auto manufacturer windshield glass from tempered glass to laminated glass. Tempered glass is designed to shatter into tiny pieces that do not injure the car occupants or First Responders with dangerous shards.

Laminated glass is designed to resist all shattering to prevent a body from exiting the vehicle upon impact.

Furthermore, extensive testing has shown that most versions of the Emergency Hammer require extensive practice with yards of seat-belt material before the user can find the precise angle at which the razor will slice the belt and often no one can ever find this angle no matter how much they try.

So you are submerged in the Estuary with the water rising above your neck and now must PRACTICE how to escape?!

The other thing is that there is a common myth that if you wait until the water level in the car is the same as outside the car, you can then open the door.

Sorry to say, this also does not work; do not ask how we know this -- we just know and accept it. The reason you cannot open the door when the water outside appears to be the same level as in the car is that water continues to enter the car through the trunk while the care nose dives long after the driver's compartment is filled, causing an imbalance of pressure. The only way out is via the window.

If you have not opened the window before the computer beneath your feet under the floorboards is shorted out, you will certainly die.

There are several devices on the market that primarily appeal to the Survivalist types as those things consist of large fixed-blade knives with hooks that are most certainly never going to be found in your average family sedan, and which may cause problems with the Law if discovered in your vehicle during a traffic stop even though they do work on the older glass type.

So, if you own an older model car, then the Rescue-Me device is your best bet, as the spring-loaded carbide-tip will shatter tempered glass easily and the larger surface area of the razor provides better chances for slicing through seat-belt material which must meet DOT standards for toughness unlike paracord or any other binding material.

Hopefully this information is useful to you. You can see what type of glass was used in your vehicle if made between 2013 and 2017 by looking into the corner where the DOT specs are listed. It will say Laminated if the glass is of that type.


ON AN ISLAND

So anyway. The Old Same Place was bustling and there was a clatter and a chatter from within. The fires had been put out and the First Responders had found no bodies and yet Certain Individuals were unaccounted for. The body-sniffing dogs were brought in from the Sheriff's Office and a company started sifting thorough the ashes of Marlene & Andre's Place for bone fragments as Marlene and Suan and Rolf stood there holding hands. This is the kind of reality to which we in NorCal have become accustomed. Late in the news was the information that Mr. Howitzer's yacht was no longer in dry dock and was also missing.

The Coast Guard was called. Nobody knows who called the Coast Guard as land-sea rescues have always been a problem on the Island due to jurisdictional language confusions, according to the report on the last disaster in which human lives were lost.

Seems folks in the PD do not know how to talk to the folks in the FD and neither one knows how to talk to the CG and all three have a confusion on how to talk to anybody with their wits about them in just about any agency you can name.

So people die. It's a problem and nobody seems to have an answer but the PD did get more money to play with for their Rescue Boat. Which has yet to be employed. And they seem to be happy with the situation as it stands.

The FD is much put out about this favoritism, as they see it, in which the PD got something out of someone's death and they did not. The CG is much put out on being called to rescue someone standing in three feet of water, which certainly obviated use of their impressive Cutter with a draft of some 20 feet at the keel.

"Please do not call us again for such stupid things," said the CG commander and both the island PD and FD shifted their feet with embarrassment before going back to business as usual.

Perhaps someone should convene a Commission, but nobody is accepting responsibility for doing so even years after the event.

In any case, certain individuals are missing and there is much discussion about this in the Old Same Place Bar.

As the Angry Elf gang drove past the entrance, Suzie bolted out the door to throw a bottle at their red truck, screaming, " You ASSHOLES! YOU ARE THE CAUSE OF ALL OF THIS EVIL! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!" Which she continued to yell until Padraic and Dawn brought her back inside, the lovely woman in tears for the loss of her dear friends.

Meanwhile, far to the North, Denby cooled his heels through another V-Day, glad for his circumstances for there was no way that he could now get in worse trouble than any time before. He sat with Rachel in the Galley after both of them had scoured for scraps of anything edible without finding much more than a tin of water crackers, which they shared.

"Well," said Rachel. "You could stand to lose some weight anyway."

"Happy V-day," Denby said. "I love you."

"You do not," Rachel said indignantly. "You love someone else and I know it."

Denby sighed. "That is true. But I love everybody more or less in some way if not shunted aside."

The entire ship groaned with agonized sounds of tortured metal and breaking timbers above.

"Are you Jewish?" Rachel said after a while.

"That is the first time anyone has asked me that question while I was still wearing my pants, Denby said.

"O! Really!"

Upstairs, or above ships, or whatever you call it, Festus was talking to the Editor.

"Frankly I find this situation to be extreme," Festus said as the ship shuddered after striking something beneath.

"You are always free to quit at any time," said The Editor, his employer.

"That right there is the epitome of California's labor market and perhaps that of the Nation. The ship is about to founder and the only thing you have is the obscenely named Right to Work Law. This is just a perfect example."

"You are free to leave at any time." The Editor said, while all around the angry sea tossed and churned with whitecap waves among the jagged rocks.

The entire ship shuddered again, followed by the sound of splintering and tortured metal.

"I suspect it is already too late," Festus said.

"You know I have always loved all of you," said the Editor.

"Still," said Festus on the pitching deck, hanging on to a halyard. "That is all too late if it ever meant anything at all."

Right then the cabin window burst and in rushed the cold, salt sea.

The sound of foghorns and the train clarion rippled in waves across the Bay and died over the smoldering embers of the humble Edwardian cottage that had been the Household of Marlene and Andre as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the gloom to an unknown destination.

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

 

FEBRUARY 11, 2018

ON AN ISLAND

This week, to mark the start of Island-Life's transition we present a shot of a bird sanctuary located on an island set in an archipelago of ponds near the Bay up in one of the North Counties not far from the areas affected by the recent Sonoma fires. We will always carry an affection for the Island, our former Hometown, from which we were driven like refugees by the actions of gangsters. There will always be an Island in the heart.

WHERE DOES THE LOVE OF GOD GO WHEN THE WAVES TURN THE MINUTES TO HOURS

So anyway. The morning arrived with a semi-bright luminescence as the boot drifted on swells. The sky appeared gray but light and on all horizons around the bright lit boat not a smidgen of land could be seen. Apparently they had drifted beneath the Golden Gate and were now far a-sea. with only the Farralones rocks to be expected next. The iPhones and other devices they had with them had all failed due to lack of charge and the ship remained without lights, electricity, or power of any kind. There was a radio, but it did not work.

What I would give for a decent, working telephone, said Rachel. I miss my ivory handset rotary with gold appointments. She wailed.

In the distance those on board discerned a voluble complaint and familiar voices. The voices belonged to Javier and the others on the powerless skiff that had swept out at the same time as the Indomitable.

The Editor shouted out to them and Javier responded they had no idea where they were and what to do about it.

The Editor responded that had been the case for Javier all his life and so nothing had changed.

A number of calls across the water were made and contact was established with the lost party, which employed its oars none to soon as the little dingy had started to take on water several hours previously. The dingy survivors threw a rope and were soon attached to the hapless Indomitable and all fatigued, hungry, and sodden residents of the dingy soon climbed aboard the Indomitable only to encounter yet more fatigued, hungry and chilled individuals. As for the dingy, they attached cables from the powerless winch but were unable to lift it so that it could drain.

Meanwhile on the Island, the fires had been put out and Mr.Howizter was wroth for the loss of an income source and the lack of tenants upon whom to blame his misfortune. As far as he knew, all had perished and this was bad because that meant there was no one to sue for damages.

Officer O'Madhauen had a great deal to do with routing traffic around the various fire zones so as to prevent looting, snooping, and improper lane changes and speed infractions around the destruction.

Nothing was worse and more damaging to the social fabric than moving violations during a time of disaster, so Officer O'Madauen applied himself with a will.

The Almeida family, awakening to a morning of smoke and ashes in the air, seeing the chickens all distressed and even the noxious raccoons in retreat, noting the increasing rents that offered nothing as reward, made plans to relocate to a berth that might genuinely call itself a small town, instead of a fake metropolis with walls lined with Mafioso and greedy property management firms. They had old family connections up north in the old Portuguese fishing village that abutted the Land of the Shark.

Chiton Souvlaki, Wilmer Titrake, MD (air surgeon), Borg Busby Rubbitsum - the proprietor of A Touch of Wonder, and Marvin of Marvin's Merkins, all had gotten exorbitant rent increases from Mr. Howitzer's firm and were looking to relocate to more inviting environments.

Wootie Kanootie's herd continued to thrash across the Bay until they reached the temporary harbor of Angel Island, and there took momentary refuge, startling the deer that already lived there.

It seemed everyone was on the move and all the chatter in the Old Same Place Bar was about where to go and what to do next. Denby had not played in the snug for days, and seemed to have disappeared somewhere god only knows and so Padraic reconnected the old jukebox, hoping some locally retired jazz player would drop in and offer services on the cheap without expecting much other than a single free beer and a plate of food as pay. The right to practice his art should be enough, said the always frugal Padraic.

Meanwhile the Indomitable continued to drift out beyond the Golden Gate. Currents had fortunately brought her back towards the coast away from the sharp, jaggy Farralones and the lost crew began to hear the crash of breakers again after six days at sea. They did not know it, but they were approaching the mouth of Drake's Estuary with its imposing cliffs that some said resembled the slate colored escarpments of Dover.

And which were just as dangerous, for the bottom of the estuary was littered with the fragments of lost Spanish colonial ships.

The sun arose in a red ball and as the day progressed, the wind began to thrum the guywires of Mr. Howitzer's wayward yacht. As the day proceeded to an early night, winds whipped the decks and sent a salt spray everywhere on board, sending everyone into the cabins. The seas became unruly and began to pound the craft around like a kitten batting a ball of twine. Things flew off of the shelves and tables. What was not bolted down skidded across the floor, including Festus, who cried out with indignation until Rachel took him up and wrapped him in a towel.

The crashing of the surf became louder although they could not see through the pitch dark of the cloud-shrouded heavens.

Steadily, the Indomitable marched like a true Conservative towards the uncertain doom that awaited all aboard.

The sound of foghorns and the train clarion rippled in waves across the Bay and died over the smoldering embers of the humble Edwardian cottage that had been the Household of Marlene and Andre as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the gloom to an unknown destination.

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

 

February 4, 2018

JUST ONCE . . . IN A VERY BLUE MOON

The new year was ushered in by a gorgeous full moon, which has evolved into a super blue moon for the month of February. Here is a shot taken by Island-Lifer Tammy over the PBC in the East End.

SANTIAMO KAPERFAHRT

So anyway. All around the grey pall sealed them into their private world aboard the powerless dingy, riding upon the swells and drifting through a dense fog. The morning came and they scarcely knew it for they could not see the sun piercing the heavy cover overhead and all around them. Pahrump, Jose, Javier, and Martini sat with Denby in the dingy that had belonged to Mr. Howitzer. They had a pair of oars, but knew not what to do with them as there was no inkling of where and in what direction lay the safe harbor of land. For all they knew they had been pulled out by the tide under the Golden Gate and were miles now at sea with only the Farallones present to dash their craft into pieces on its sharp crags.

The day's somber glow continued as the minutes passed into hours. They heard the sound of fog horns, but could not tell from which direction was the source and what the nature, if lighthouse or moving ship equipped with radar. If one of them could know in which direction to swim, he could set out in the chill waters, hoping to reach land and call for support before hypothermia sank all their hopes.

Meanwhile the massive yacht named The Indomitable, also an erstwhile Howitzer possession, twirled in this same murk with the Editor, Rachel and Festus aboard for crew. Mr. Howitzer, always the classic cheapskate landlord he was, had refused to pay for a full hauling of the vessel to dry dock as was customary -- he had paid to have the ship beached and lifted on shoreline trestles down the way from the main repair facility so as to avoid paying storage fees. Because of this, the ship had broken loose during high tide when the extra weight had clambered aboard, along with substantial repair material Mr. Howitzer had obtained cheap from China in container loads, intending to sell off much of it to recoup his expenses.

So now this massive ship was twirling in the middle of the San Francisco Bay with some of our beloved Island-Life personalities aboard. They had climbed onto the ship as the most likely refuge as the Offices of the Island LIfe newsroom burned due to malicious activities and some basic stupidities performed by the Angry Elf Gang. The Angry Elf gang had amassed a fair quantity of incendiary devices in the cellar, in the former living room and in the former bedrooms of a Painted Lady Edwardian that stood a couple housefronts down from the Offices. When the Household of Marlene and Andre exploded due to the faulty wiring of the furnace that had been the domain of, again Mr. Howitzer, the embers had fallen upon the Angry Elf firetrap, packed cheek by jowl with arsonist delights. Molotov cocktails, pipebombs, car incendiaries, plastique, IEDs, C4 military explosive, and all sorts of things the gang utilized during their day to day and nightly operations along with countless racks of pills and powders derived substantially from the poppy flower as well as crystal methamphetamine cooking in brass kettles.

It was a Devil's warehouse and when it went up it went up in quite a spectacular fashion.

So it was The Indomitable drifted from shore with our friends aboard, watching as the fog closed in and turned the distant infernos, of which there were several, into dim glowing blobs in the mist.

At first, there was a well stocked bar with scotch of decent quality, and a freezer with some remnants of a party. A cheese plate and sandwiches gone a bit stale and Evian water. A package of crackers was a glorious find. Finding a way to activate lights and electricity turned out to be more of a problem and so the group sat there largely in the dark, and the Editor retired to a sort of stateroom, while Rachel found another cabin with a bed and coverlets and there she slept until the sun rose with the same effect it had upon the other castaways. Piedro found a cot somewhere in the galley. They had no idea where they were and no idea where they were going and no idea what to do when they got there, if ever they did safely.

They had no electricity and so nothing in the captain's wheelhouse worked. There was no radio, only the dense fog and the maddening fog horns that did none of them any good.

Thus passed the first day for all those adrift on the Bay. Little did they know others had taken to the water on rafts and rowboats so as to escape the firey devestation and the final triumph of the Angry Elf gang that went from house to house to plunder the belongings of the escapees. This has always been the way. The Vichy government, collaborators, and looters: all the same, extracting gold from the teeth of the dead.

The Editor stood on the deck of the helpless Indomitable and listened to the water until the sun obviously had vanished. Everyone had retired to those places aboard ship seemed to be most safe. The Island was finished, as far as he was concerned. There was no going back now. The Editor had seen the cities of man and encountered the savage nature of War. He had tried to save his companions, but he could not, for they must have eaten the carrion of the Sun and so inflamed an old enemy. In any case he had wandered far after the Vietnam War and the sack of Saigon and had learned the ways of Humanity and all the cities of kings. He had thought he would bring this lesson to the Island, now riven by the land curse, but the Island would not have it for they were a stiff-necked people, infected with greed. Now the birds were passing overhead -- he could hear them through the dense fog cover. It was the time now for going, and he must now follow the birds.

Yet still, Neptune hated him for his insouciance and bore an infantile grudge, causing the helpless ship to spin in an eddy there in the Bay, to cause grief and longing among its survivors who slept as best they could by the dim, guttering light of failing AA batteries and Apple appliances.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the Bay and died over the smoldering embers of the once stately Edwardian cottage that had been the Household of Marlene and Andre as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the gloom to an unknown destination.

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

 

JANUARY 28, 2018

THIS ISLAND LIFE


FIRE IS THE DEVIL'S ONLY FRIEND

So anyway. The entire Strand famed up in ruins. The beachhouse that housed the sailboarder's club was a pile of embers. The meeting hall for the Parlor 33 1/3 of the Native Sons of the Golden West was laid into ashes and the Angry Elf's gang ran hither and thither stealing and looting from the burning buildings, entirely at liberty to do so since the call had gone out to collect all able-bodied citizens to assist with the common disaster. And of course, the Angry Elf gang took this golden opportunity to torch businesses that were wonting in payments, aided with flagons of kerosene. They laughed as they destroyed lives.

The Native Sons parlor collapsed in flames. Next was the Old Same Place Bar with its leather snug as Dawn and Padraic ran out with such things as they could save. The beloved bar with its stained glass windows and its plush stools and the long redwood bartop that had withstood centuries of drams and pints burned before the eyes of the helpless Padraic.

The old man box elder erupted into a tornado of flames, igniting the Island-Life offices and creating a firestorm whirlwind. Rats fled hither and yon. All was being destroyed by fire.

Don Erizo and Dame Herrisson fled from the flaming shrubbery near the College and were smashed flat by automobiles on the road, as was to be expected.

But that is not what happened.

Such destruction is characteristic of an hack, a ne'er do well. An aesthetic simpleton who does not care about his readership.

What happened was far more elegant.

The Angry Elf gang did in fact ignite a fire, but this was not the cause of the mass migration that took place

Remember that some citizens of the Household of Marlene and Andre had been mucking about the Howitzer yacht with its dingy that normally was kept hung in the ship's hoist crane, but during dry dock was set down into the marina, which allowed the boys all sorts of hijinks and capers, using up gas as they piloted the small craft all around the Bay when done with chipping and sanding and painting the larger vessel's hull.

One day Pahrump, Jose, Javier, and Martini and Denby were down in the dingy, making plans for a foray out to Angel Island.

Down below the floorboards of the Household the rats scurried around the old, decrepit furnace that had been let to decay during the Howitzer's possession of the property. On this evening, one brother rat ran across the wires near the igniter and caused an arc that killed him instantly and also started a small fire among the bodies of all his bretheran who had died a similar way for years, and who had dessicated over time into flammable tinder.

Meanwhile the boys set out on their skiff towards Angel Island and were dismayed when the engine cut out, leaving them to drift in the middle of the Bay. No one had thought to fill the gas tanks during their various shenanigans over the the past month. The day faded into night as they drifted, nibbling on crackers and swilling cheap jug wine until the sun sank behind the Golden Gate in flaming rooster tails. The night filled with stars and the moon was swelling to the first full moon of the year, a moon that was destined to be both a Blue Moon and a Blood Moon, which is a rare occurance indeed.

Up in the bedroom Marlene and Andre together examined the letter from Howitzer and Marley LLC, which stated the rent was to rise another impossible fifteen hundred dollars starting next month. This was disaster for the small community packed into the one bedroom cottage. There was no way they could pay that.
"Where the heck is everybody, " Andre said even as both he and Marlene smelled smoke and burning. He and Marlene ran out with little Adam and Snuffles and watched as the house seemed to come alive, begin to breath, expanding with an inhale, then contracting with the sound of cracking boards. The house swelled out again, then, abruptly exploded. The three ran to the Marina along with Sarah and Tipitina and Piedro. There they climbed into Mr. Howitzer's yacht which abruptly detached itself and slid backwards into the water. Festus came scampering along and lept with a super-hamster leap onto the decks, crying out, "Don't leave me guys!"

Even as the Editor looked at his own rent increase, which was as obscene as all those experienced all around the island, the Angry Elf, who was named Neal, set fire to an Audi outside a recalcitrant business on Park Street. The Audi burned with calculated intensity meant to intimidate and cause fear, but suddenly popped with an explosion that sent embers into the row houses there near the narrow alleys named after tree varieties. Houses along Willow caught fire, followed by Elm and then Walnut, where the old majestic box elder ignited.

The Editor sat at his desk, the Offices strangely empty. Where had everyone gone? He felt the old war wounds, relived the firefight. He closed his eyes and leaned back as if to sleep a while, despite this pain in his chest. He was a new recruit standing on a train station about to go somewhere. This could also be a possible ending. The eyes close and the heart simply stops and then one is done with this life. They would find him slumped over his desk the followihng morning, his lips blue and eyes wide open. But then a loud pop awoke him from this reverie. Outside the windows, an orange glow and embers flying. His people were in trouble and he had to save them.

The Editor grabbed a bag and stuffed it with backup hard drives and paraphernalia and slung that over the ship's oar that had been given him by the staff as a birthday present. He ran outside and down to the water with Rachel and Festus. There they found a rowboat and set out from the Marina as the flames rose higher behind them.

Wootie Kanootie's moose herd, frightened by the commotion and the sirens broke loose from their pen and ran about as the sirens wailed and the sparks flew up into the heavens. The herd found themselves hemmed in by the fire engines and the fire itself so they plunged into the Bay en masse and set out to cross it to some sort of unknown safety.

All of this took place as the moon swelled. The various small boats floated without direction and the moose herd, led by the always wayward Eunice, swam for dear life as the fog rolled in over the Bay, heading for some imaginary refuge in the mist as the powerful tides carried them toward the Golden Gate and the shipping lanes.

Pedro awoke in the early hours to see the horizon to the West aglow and the sound of sirens. He roused the entire Almeida family and told them to get ready to evacuate the place. Racoons, who had been circling the chicken pens scampered away in terror.

Mr. Sanchez went to the window to see flashing lights and ambulances and firetrucks rushing past down below on Santa Clara and went to away Ms. Morales.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and died between the smoldering embers of the once stately Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the murk to an unknown destination.

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

JANUARY 21, 2018

YOU KNOW YOU ARE A SHOOTING STAR


IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

So anyway. We do not have Garrison Keillor to kick around anymore and all branches of government are marshalled, supposedly, lockstep into common agreement. Nevertheless we have a government shutdown because of ... what? Republicans, who are in clear majority, blaming Democrats, who never could accomplish anything unless a Black man or woman initiated the enterprise.

"The time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things. Of ships and sealing wax and whether pigs have wings."

That is the way the master of the absurd, Lewis Carroll, introduced the idea of a beginning or the end in medias res. Here we stand with such a similar situation. How can we just turn little Adam, he of the Household of Marlene and Andre, who already has suffered so much, out onto the street? Anyone who would suggest such a thing would have to be quite cold hearted. And then there is the newborn baby to Ms. Morales and Mr. Sanchez. Observe the little tyke there in his cradlebed on the second floor of that apartment in a subdivided Victorian on Central Avenue. He is helpless. How could you abandon this innocent child, you cads you!

Yet, such callous sentiment seems to be the rule for our times. We used to care about the children, their nourishment and their education, but we guess this is just all relics of times gone by and the triumph of hard, cold, money-oriented Trumpism.

Well. We are shocked. Simply shocked.

Here is this Island child, born of course at Summit because due to mishandling of public funds, gross mismanagment of resources and foolishness beyond belief no children are allowed to be born in the Island hospital anymore, unless it is in the taxi going across the water.

Some of you may recall how only a short time ago the neonatal unit and the geropsych units were close because old people and babies don't make money for the hospital.

Well. We cannot allow this to settle.

It is rude. It is ungainly. It is terrifically bad for our reputation as an Island with human and humane concerns. So we would have to wonder how a hack writer would bring an end to 19 years of work. Well, an untalented hack, and savage golem straight out of Brooklyn's ugly tin pan alley would end the opus of Island Life as follows:

On a bleak and windy night striated with dry winds, the Cackler and the Gump went to the secret store of fireworks and flammables that was used to torch the "suggestion cars" in front of troublesome businesses. It was the business of the Angry Elf gang to pursuade individuals and businesses to contribute to the Common Kitty, a percentage of which wound up by devious means in the pockets of the Angry Elf gang.

While this contingent visited the incendiary storage, another group of thugs paid a visit to Denby at his lodgings at the top of the lunatic asylum of St Charles.

They brought with them knives, baseball bats, and a fruitcake left over from last year.

Denby opened the door to encounter this ugly crew and said, "Here you are at last. I have been expecting you."

Other members of the gang gathered outside the Old Same Place Bar where the Angry Elf had experienced much rebuttal to his violent and intolerant ways.

Those gang members began with an hail of stones against the windows of the bar, which were followed by bottles of gasoline stuffed with flaming rags.

This was the night, decreed by the Angry Elf, to be the Night of Flaming Shattered Glass.

Patrons in the bar scattered here and there as the stones blew open the windows in a storm of destruction. Then followed the molotov cocktails, devised with sardonic glee by the Angry Elf, who said "I' serve the bartender a cocktail he will not forget!"

In vain Padraic and Dawn and Suzie ran here and there with spritzers and extinguishers as the demonic hail flew into the bar, driving them out to watch helplessly as their life's work was consumed by the flames. The old oaken snug went up in a fury and the broad redwood bartop glowed as a cinder and bottles exploded with the fury of the evil fire. The stools toppled as their steel supports melted, and the propane tanks supplying the kitchen erupted into geysers of fire.

Over at the place where the gang warehoused its materials, the gang stood around and laughed about how they were disconcerting certain individuals with their break-ins and rifling of personal documents. The thug named Squeaker tossed his partially expended cigarette carelessly out at the door opening, but the butt rebounded and returned inside to vanish in the pile of trash and cast off parts from wagons and machinery. No one paid any mind to this event as they talked about revenge and punishing certain people until a smell of burn and smoke began to swell in the area and the crew began to look for its source. By the time they found it, the fire had ignited the walls of the house itself and was rapidly consuming fuel towards the boxes of incendiaries.

Meanwhile the tiki torches for Mr. Howitzer's Hawaiian theme party had started to burn low after all the patrons had passed out from the double strength zombies served up by Dodd, who left the premises to care for his child sick with influenza even as the somnolent guests snored and the tiki torches guttered and sparked until one of them ignited the poolside palm.

After that, it was all drama at the Howitzer residence.

The entire neighborhood awoke to smoke and flames. The Howitzer mansion was burning. Skyrockets and explosions erupted down by the Strand where the former warehouse for the Angry Elf gang exploded and the gang members scattered like rats rather than fight the furious fire even as it took hold on the entire row of houses along Otis, including the Household of Marlene and Andre. Meanwhile the Old Same Place Bar collapsed into glowing embers as the houses all around also took on fire in a savage eruption of demonic fury.

The Island was ablaze with the disaster that Californio's know only too well and all that was good and holy was being destroyed.

The Editor came out from his den to see the world aflame and all being destroyed. He grabbed what he could of the Island-Life records and went down to the Strand with the Island-Life Offices aflame and the old box elder sending up glowing embers into the sky with the Angry Elf gang whooping and hollaring, down to the Bayshore as the ancient Greeks did to the sea, for it is written, "After the defeat at Thermopylea the Greeks descended to the sea in ships."

The roof of the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor 33 and 1/3 began to alight from the rain of hot embers from other places on the Island. All along the Strand the row houses exploded and the Disputed Bicycle Bridge groaned, bent, swayed and collapsed into the Estuary.

Fire in California is a terrifying force. When a Firestorm swells in all its monstrous fury, nothing can stop it and its destruction is both capricious and total as well as horrifying. There are few natural events in this country which can compare with its totality and its enormity. We have seen what happens and it is true and real and terrifying in its absolute and implacable ferocity.

The firestorm swept over the Household of Marlene and Andre and the old stove beneath the house exploded with violence, killing Snuffles and the opossum family and the racoons and Piedro as he slept an exhausted sleep from working all day and causing falling timbers to trap Martini after his long day at the valve factory in Richmond and breaking the legs of Wickiwup the sheepdog who cried in agony. The scanty possessions of the Household were destroyed, including Suan's favorite chemise and Tipitina's sand dollar collection, assembled from the days when they really had serious sand dollars to be found along the Strand and many more personal photographs and things besides.

For days the firey contagion swept the little town, charring Lincoln Park with its once elegant gazebo, Washington Park with its baseball diamond and clapper stork palms, each going up like Roman candles, the newly created Jean Sweeney Open Space Preserve and all its carefully preserved vegetation, sending the humble hedgehog families scurrying amid the black ashes. The facade of the old brick cannery collapsed into ruins. The home of the ducks at Mariner Square Village became nothing but cinders and who knows what became of the ducks themselves. Wootie Kanootie's herd of moose scattered in terror and plunged into the estuary to escape as their stockade burned to the ground. Mastic Senior Center's big entrance sculpture toppled in firey sparks to the ground and all the churches along church row submitted to fire, the devil's only friend.

The rectory of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint dropped its roof upon Father Danyluk, trapping him beneath the Sacristy as Pastor Nyquist attempted to save his friend with a garden hose even as the buildings of Immanuel Lutheran slumped in embers behind him.

In a second floor apartment, charged for rent far too dear, the baby belonging to Ms. Morales wailed as the smoke swelled denser and closer to their humble abode and Ms. Morales stood there determined to fight to the end as Mr. Sanchez valiantly swung his pulaski with the firemen outside, doomed, yet indomitable, their shadows huge against the huge fire that was destroying all they loved.

The bridge from Park Street dropped into the water, followed by the Fruitvale bridge tumbling in flaming gouts that spurted here and there. The monument to "All my Dumb friends" split apart in the heat. Houses all along the lagoon tumbled into the water. The Cribbages and the Blathers piled into helicopters and fast speed boats to escape the destruction, leaving everyone else to their respective fates.

All of this is what would have happened were a hack in charge and a pseudo-artiste like the Angry Elf in charge. The Angry Elf is a fake artist, pretending with glass what others committ with flesh and blood. The Angry Elf is an artist only of pain and discordance. So this is not what happened.

For what really happened, you will have to come back next week and read all about it.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and died between the smoldering embers of the once stately Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds through the smoky murk to an unknown destination.

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

JANUARY 14, 2018

CALLING THE MOON

KEYS TO THE HIGHWAY

The time comes for every artist who has constructed an opus that creates its own virtual reality over an extended period of time and effort to find a way to resolve the entire project or find a way to make it self perpetuating.

Different artists have done or not done things to wind up the whole affair. Every Trilogy has a resolving chapter. Every Symphonic sequence has a resolve. Literary opi have presented variegated resolutions. Some, like Berk Breathed, have written simple exits for its characters. One character becomes a eunuch living in Tibet. Another goes to jail. A final frame is presented with a vacant office and scattered papers blowing in the wind.

Done with that, says the creator. Or not, as in the seemingly endless recursion of Star Wars.

In the Odyssey, Homer presents a possible future for our wandering hero who has wandered through so many stories.

William Faulkner kept his unpronounceable Mississippi county alive so that he could milk its content until he died and so that fictional reality remains with us.

No one knows what Garrisson Keillor had in mind for disposition of his Lake Woebegon. He pulled out from major involvement with the radio show, but external events caused him to pull back even further. Ironically, these events resembled stories he himself had created, almost as if he had written his own disgrace. Keillor will remain a solid rock in American letters as a storytelling genius long past the memories of all who now recall him fondly, and Lake Wobegon will persist in the imagination in a sort of stasis, which is, come to think of it, entirely appropriate for the Town that Time forgot.

JRR Tolkein wrote quite an extensive epilogue in footnote form, detailing the fates of all the adventurers and how and when they died and how some passed on to the West to the Undying Lands. His books have been translated into many languages and are as widely read as the Bible.

As for those nasty orcs left running around in bands, the less said the better.

Berk Breathed decided to suddenly empty his Bloom County and send various characters off to bizarre fates. Frankly we feel what happened to Binky was entirely too severe, even as we understand Breathed wanted to make this finish absolute with no possibility of return.

In movie-dom, we have Avatar slyly suggesting a continuation of the story. The Godfather lived on through three murderous films until finally laid to rest as in the original book. And so on.

So now we come to our dear, dear Island. Circumstances have caused us to consider a serious artistic shift, while we are loth to let it all go. There are stories in these folk yet, my friends. They came to life, sometimes against our best wishes, and insist on living on.

Just as it is difficult to imagine the room without us sitting there, we must face the future. One day will come when neither you nor I am here to occupy the chair in the room filled with people. All our inventions will have to stand on their own merit. Yet there remains in any artist, no matter how trivial, the desire that things continue in the world without them. This is the simple desire to have children, but in the form of art, which is normally by nature static.

So it is. We will present two possible endings for the Island. One ending shall be the imagined consequence of a hack who seeks only flamboyant novelty, violence for the sake of entertainment for jaded viewers, cheap tugs on the heartstrings with canned emotions. The sort of easy writing you find in the aisles of the grocery store while waiting for the cashier to bring down the total cost of what you bought without thinking.

And then there will be the other ending, the transcendent one. As in the Life of Pi, where the insurance agents are given an option to pick which sequence of events really did occur, we will provide just such a choice and the choice will determine who you are.

So it is with God. You can believe one thing or another. God is supposedly the ultimate artist. Maybe all that was made is not free of valid criticism, but then, this is all we have. This is the only Reality we have, and I am not so sure there is even a Reality.

IF I WERE TO CALL YOU, WOULD YOU ANSWER

So anyway, the boys got work fixing up Mr. Howitzer's yacht that sat in dry dock at the marina. While scraping and painting the hull and fixing hardware issues that had occurred during the crab pot debacle last year, Javier and Jose and Pahrump would take the dingy out for spins on the water. The dingy, which had been a Boston whaler type of craft in its heyday, moved like an SUV through butter, which meant it had the maneuverability of a tank but without so much power from its single Evinrude motor.

The boys managed to beach the heavy thing twice, forcing Jose to sleep in the sodden hull until high tide floated it free again, yet nevertheless the jolly crew continued to cavort with the boat with gallons of dollar wine aboard to fuel their mad energy.

The New Year had come and gone and the air was latterly heavy with sodden quality, missing the sharp, incisiveness of Winter proper. Each day the sun arose through high cloud, which in normal years indicated that the change of seasons was already underway. Perhaps it was. But much had become uncertain after the fires and the mudslides, claimed by Governor Moonbeam to be the new normal.

Climate change had arrived and not a single George Bush had a thing to say about it.

The Angry Elf gang continued to assemble explosive material in that house off of Santa Clara Avenue and most businesses continued about their business so long as they could still afford the usurious rents.

MLK day was a moderate Holiday, with all government buildings closed and most businesses pretending.

Little Adam asked Marlene about Martin Luther King Jr., for MLK looked a lot like him and he wanted to know. A program about Django Reinhart played on the miniature TV while Marlene cleaned up the kitchen.

Marlene, with her black hair swirling about in a nest, said MLK had been a great man even though he had not wanted to be one, which is to say he was even greater because of it. His dream was to set people free from fear of one another, had been murdered for his pains, and his legacy had nevertheless improved the lot of millions in a society, in a nation, that was not much better than Stalinist Russia to a large portion of the population, and Adam had much to thank for all that.

And yet there was a lot more work to do, as evidenced by the disgraceful utterances spewing from the White House, so Adam had some work cut out for him.

Adam mused on this for a while.

"I wish everybody loved each other like we do in the Household," Adam said. "But I know for a fact that aint gonna happen."

At that moment the red Toyota loaded with members of the Angry Elf gang drove past outside, whooping and cackling their evil laughs. They were headed off to burn someone's car in the street.

"We are like the Roma," Marlene said. "We endure and provide example by the way we live."

"Fur shizzle," Adam said.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

JANUARY 7, 2017

HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN

This week's image comes from Tammy in recognition of the rains that have returned.

-WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

Hard to imagine 20 years ago when Island-Life began that we would still be at it with weekly updates two decades later. What began as an HTML project morphed into an e-zine reporting news and providing event reviews as well as multimedia entertainment, some of which can be accessed via the sidebar and also from our youtube channel.

At various times we have made some unfortunate design modifications, such as the infamously detested "floating radio", but generally we have not tampered much with the look and feel for about twelve years or so. Still Time does what it does and all things are fated to mutation, like it or not. The parents get grey, enfeebled, and find it difficult to get around anymore. The children that scampered after the yellow school bus get jobs, lives of their own, families of their own.

At the holiday dinner, there are empty seats now where people we used to know laughed and told stories. New faces appear with stories of their own. The new year came and went and all up and down the block the xmas trees, some still clinging to ribbons of tinsel, wait beside the blue and green pickup-bins.

Come to think of it, we did not hear anything about our Island tap-dancing Xmas trees which have been visiting the White House each year for a while. Perhaps the present incumbent does not appreciate such frivolity.

So it goes with Island-Life. Time wounds all heals, and the stool at the bar where Old Schmidt used to sit is now vacant and will not be occupied by the old guy ever again. Changes are coming and Chad has been down in the subterranean lab bustling about with modifications to the masthead.

Have no fear; there will not be another version of the floating radio and most of the characters will soldier on. Ms. Morales will continue to teach the poetry of Emily Dickenson, Percy will continue to pilot his magnificent two-toned brown and beige 1929 Mandeville coupe with Madeline by his side, Marvin's Merkins (put a merkin in your firkin!) will not declare bancruptcy, Wootie Kanootie will tend his moose herd forever more, Suan will continue to work the pole at the Crazy Horse, and Denby will most likely never ever get lucky on Valentine's Day, while Mr. Howitzer will continue to raise the rents on everybody.

The sound of the train horn far across the water keened across the estuary and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

DECEMBER 31, 2017

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

 

This pic of owls was taken by CB Taylor in the Gold Coast some time ago. It has sat in the hopper a while and now we think it is time to present it to Island-Lifers. It is titled, "Owl be seeing you."



It sorta fits in with the "auld lang syne" theme of the final issue for 2017.

OUR TOWN

It has come round to the end of quite a dismal year of losses and dismay, with a braggart sexual cad sitting in the Oval Office, a long string of set-backs to intelligent advances in environmental, social, and international arenas, plus a number of natural disasters rendered more severe than otherwise by the supposedly fictional Climate Change.

Around home the Rental Crisis rages through the communities, a savage contagion that has been destroying businesses, family life, everyday life for the average working stiff, wrecking traditions, interpersonal relations and the very idea of basic decency.

This past year we saw 34 of our very own die in a horrible fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse, a symptom of this disease caused by greed running unchecked.

To really put the screws to quite an awful year, the horrific fires that destroyed Santa Rosa, Kenwood and other towns in Sonoma were followed by the history-making fires that wiped out Ojai and much of Ventura County to the south.

Yet Time is a spherical prison. There is no way to go back and as Johnny Winter sang, "Life aint easy." We wish for an end to suffering, but there is none. We wish that petty mafias, like that run by the Angry Elf ceased to exist and all the bad guys go to jail, but they do not go to jail and they all die in their ugly, unrepentant beds of old age and in the meantime police continue to shoot innocent people to death.

The only respite appears to be the grave.

That Life continues is more the problem with which we need to deal. Consider that Donald Trump, even though he cannot be wished away, is remains reigned in by the checks and balances of a yet vigorous Democracy. Rail against the Press all he will, the 1st Amendment still stands. Curse the judiciary, and still the process of law remains independent of his strident impulses. Declaim against what he calls Obamacare and still the process of replacing health care reform is dependent upon the same interpartisan agencies of Congress that first made it law. Call foreign heads of state any number of insults and still the Joint Chiefs of Staff are not going to launch a unilateral attack upon anybody, no matter how chafed and dissed this manbaby happens to feel.

The truth is, even though Donald Trump can cause quite a lot of damage to the fabric and culture and laws of the Country, he cannot do just anything he likes as there remain checks and balances devised by the Founding Fathers long ago with a mind that just such a numbskull as Donald Trump would one day achieve power. They foresaw it and they prepared for it.

So as the New Year overwhelms the old one's sorrows, buckle up after your binge and get ready for the long haul. Nothing is over until the Fat Lady sings.

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

So anyway. Everybody pulled back this year for quiet celebrations and commemorations for those who could not be here. Around the Almeida table there were empty seats, more than in years past, seats that once were occupied by uncles and aunts and friends.

At the Old Same Place Bar Suzie cried when Dawn lit a candle for Old Schmidt who had suffered a heartattack last year.

In the Howitzer mansion there was no grand fete even though Dodd and fellow servants had managed to re-erect the fallen Xmas tree which had collapsed with Mrs. Cribbage and Mrs. Blather in a cataclysmic smashing of centuries-old Russian glass ornaments and Hummel figurines during the Xmas gala.

The dinner had not gone well, with Javier adding tequila to the flan and Jose adding Kahlua and brandy to the rice pudding,which caused it to become a sort of a soupy, lumpy mousse that was also inflammable -- as they suddenly discovered when it passed near the candles.

The master chef had ordered the two of them to leave immediately, shouting with quite a red face.

After the disaster of the 15 foot Xmas tree falling upon his guests, including a couple foreign dignitaries, Mr. Howitzer resolved to pass the New Year quietly in his den with a bottle of Makers Mark, which he finished entirely by two a.m.

Mr. Howitzer did not drink responsibly that night, but at least he did not drive. Not driving on New Year's Eve may have been the only honorable thing Mr. Howitzer ever has done by way of omission. In all other spheres of endeavor, he was a property magnate and a thoroughgoing scumbucket of the first water.

On his atelier desk there were a couple letters, one of them addressed to Andre and Marlene, that same Andre and Marlene of the Household. Because of his binge with the Maker's Mark, those letters would be delivered late in the year of 2018 and so their evil effects would also be delayed by way of the legal necessity of time intervals and such.

And so as the seconds ticked away to the New Year, Mr. Howitzer railed against the portrait of Mr. Howitzer the First, clad in ermine and robes and wearing a crown.

"If you had to get a King's grant of land, why o why did you not request something in the region of Tahiti, Hawaii or the coast of France, for the sake of god!" Mr. Howitzer shouted, with his fist shaking at the portrait. "Why this infernal, uncivilized, benighted Island!"

Dodd sighed and gently closed the door. It would be a long night and he doubted he would be able to return and see The Missus before dawn.

Over in the rectory of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint Father Danyluk was enjoying the company of his good friend Pastor Nyquist of the Lutheran Immanual Church during their annual nondenominational celebration of the New Year which had become a Tradition ever since the two had encountered one another during their respective meditative walks.

It had been the habit of the Priest to exit the rectory and walk clockwise about the block that included his church and the apposite Lutheran structure during his contemplation for the next sermon. It has also been the habit of the Pastor to take a similar walk around the same block for the same purpose, with the Pastor taking, as was his nature, the anticlockwise direction.

So of course they would encounter one another at least once, if not twice, depending upon the cogitation, and so it was that one day a tremendous downpour -- this was back in the days when California experienced downpours of rain -- the two of them took shelter at the bus stop on Santa Clara and so got to talking about the Flock and the Saved and the Not Saved and all sorts of groovy kinds of religious things and they became the best of friends, for as it is said, the Children of Abraham are all cut from the same cloth.

The two of them worked out any number of arrangements to take care of affairs on an Island crowded to the gunwales with churches, but one tradition they maintained was that visit to the rectory on New Year's Eve, there to discuss over glasses of brandy the matters of import that concern men of the cloth. The reliability, and, more important, the likeability, of the Pope. What about all the geegaw and foofaraw that was cluttering the ceremonies and Xmas? What about Sinead O'Connor? And was U2 truly nondenominational? This was a big topic.

It pretty much ended as it did each year, as it has for the past twenty years of Island Life. Sister Caritas would come in to find the two men snoring in their chairs before the great fireplace, which she would dampen before covering each man with a blanket and dowsing the lights and candles.

And so, best of luck and a better new year to all of you out there.

The sound of the train horn far across the water keened across the estuary and died between the Edwardian house-rows as the locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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