Island Life

Vol. 20 - No. 47Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday November 25, 2018

Current Edition - Year 2018


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


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


NOVEMBER 25, 2018

WHAT ABOUT BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S?

San Geronimo recently held its 68th Holly Faire, which features as a high point the auction of donated items. Among the items available for bidding was this Tiffany Lamp.

Missed out? Come next year to the 69th annual Holly Faire in San Geronimo Valley.


NEWS

News is that the rains, the blessed rains have come and put an end to this year's fire season. Now, what remains is the hardscrabble struggle for survival for those who outlived the Camp Fire in Butte County, where at least 88 people died and over 13,000 homes were destroyed. But we are Californians. We endure through disasters over and over again.

THE 20TH ANNUAL POODLESHOOT AND BBQ

So anyway. What with all the rain and power outages at the ramshackle place that now houses the Island-Life offices, the Annual Poodleshoot report has been delayed. But this being the 20th Poodleshoot on the Island, there is no rushing to press on this.

It is hard to imagine that 20 years ago a daft group of lads decided to hold a humble Poodleshoot in defiance of misdirected sentiment, obnoxious aesthetics, and hideous twisting of values where an asinine species we will never truly understand gets more attention, devotion, and preference than members of our own species. It can be argued that in this present day in the 21st century we still have problems understanding each other, let alone another species.

All that aside, the 20th Annual Poodleshoot proceeded as follows.

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

As per Tradition, on the day of the 20th Annual Poodleshoot, rosy-fingered Dawn arose from the horizon's dark bed and pushed back the shutters of night to allow Phoebus to mount his golden chariot and so, preceding the day, she trailed her gauzy banners across the firmament, traveling across the yard from the battered old half-moon privy hard by the weeds to the house back porch, leaving behind a sort of dew after her passage. Gently, she flushed, and gently she tugged upon the coverlet, and gently she kissed the eyelids of the sleeping Padraic, but he stirred not. Gently she nudged the man, who only mumbled and snorted as he remained held fast in the soft, woolly folds of Morpheus. Playfully, she noodged him once again, but he remained walking in that shadow kingdom of the somnolent God.

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

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

So it was that Padraic rolled out the barrels of the Water of Life and set up the Pit for this year's festivities under bright, chill skies, which had cleared briefly from the storm clouds for the day, once again down by the disputed Crab Cove.

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

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

The ensemble group which has made something of a name for itself by inventing entirely new parts for voice, consisted of outgoing Mayor Marie as Conductor and Mayor-Elect Izzy as soprano alla triste in the Misericordia segment and newly re-elected Councilperson Daysog as mezzo soprano mournful did a fair version of Iago's treacherous soliloquy, with outgoing Councilperson Frank in his basso triste "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" performance in the esoteric work La Chambre à l'arrière Enfumee Boogie by Brooks and Dunne.

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

Outgoing Mayor Trish Spencer appeared en masque, performing "Go your own way" by Fleetwood Mac and then "Good Riddance", by Green Day. Incoming Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft performed "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Jefferson Starship followed by “We Are The Champions” by Queen.

Frank Matarrese, who did not win re-election, thoroughly nailed his role on Black Sabbath's "Land Pigs", but disappointed in the Eroica segment which features the "Young Man Taking a Stand" soliloquy.

John Knox White and Tony Daysog performed a lovely duet as well as a lovely pas de deux in pinstriped pinafores with nunchucks. The two sang "Our Town" and "I got you Babe with astonishing verve.

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

The Chronicle, always more reserved due to the heavy influence of conservative ACT in the City, has commented, "It should be interesting to see how well this thing floats in the future amid this stormy time for companies. We almost were convinced Trish Spencer was really a City Mayor, a role she continues to adopt despite the necessary qualifications required -- none of which she seems to have ever possessed. Was her portion supposed to be farce or tragedy? We were confused the entire time and are quite glad about the results of the recent Midterms as she has made the entire City Production look ludicrous."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every year the hoi polloi and the Participants eagerly anticipate the Mystery Guest Delegation. This year's emissary from Washington D.C. was sent as a representative for the Executive Branch of the United States Government, which unfortunately found many of its members either fired, indicted by Federal grand juries, or under investigation, so the American Executive Branch of Government was pleased to send a key staff member in the form of Vladimir LaPuta, who has played a key part in determining policy -- as well as election outcomes -- on behalf of the current Administration.

Mr. LaPuta was interviewed by Denby of the Island-Life News as the Russian President removed his shirt for the hunt.

"Mr. LaPuta, how is your relationship with the President of the US these days?"

"Most excellent, sir. He is our greatest admirer and we love admirers. And he makes of the twitter like a little bird all time. Most charming."

"You do not use the Twitter?"

"I am not birdlike. I am bearlike. You like my pecs, eh? Strong! Like bear!"

"Impresssive. So you have any advice for our President and his troubles with so many investigations? Do you have such problems in your country?"

"We have simple Russian remedy for such things."

"That is?"

"Ricin."

"Ricin?"

"Da! Ricin. Then, no more problem. As if to say, 'Problem stoh!". Heh, heh. Zatknis. Make spassibo, da?"

"Well, President LaPuta it has been an honor."

"“??????????” Of course it is. I am LaPuta the Great Bear! All Russia love me. Ha ha!"

With that, the President took off riding a stallion, bare-chested as is his wont during athletic contests, followed by a number of underlings carrying Kalishnakovs, extra arrows for his crossbow and steaming samovars filled with refreshments.

The break in weather after the recent torrential rains ended even as the Poodleshoot was in full swing and everyone broke out their raingear. It was during this atmospheric contretemps a brace of poodles broke through the cordon around the Island. The poodles, or piddles as the sometimes are called down in SoCal, were attended by a number of gang members belonging to the notorious Dilletantte Poesy group reinforced by the M31 Oestenos who are known to be characterized by offensive artworks that include but are not restricted to sad eyed clowns, kitty cats, and poor imitations of Fragonard.

This group seized several boats at the Marina and made off, heading north, but were quickly pursued by a posse that featured the Editor standing in the prow of a whaler with one foot up on the gunwale, wearing a three corner hat and a cloak whipped by the winds to reveal a scarlet lining and the brass fixtures of his Marine Corps saber as the staff valiantly oared between the scattered bergs of ice while Jose kept the proud flag of Old Glory erect amidships. In the misty distance the other boats kept the pace.

While Emanuel Leutze of the Gold Coast played the Battle Hymn of the Republic upon the fife, the hearts of the red-blooded American poodlehunters were stirred despise the cold, lashing rain and winds, rounding about Angel Island, once, twice, three times in pursuit of the dastardly enemy, when lo! The piddles made a break for Sausalito and the Lands of the Shark where they careened upon the beaches there and were pursued to the interior.

When our crew landed in Marin they found all was deathly still. Birds had fled the trees. No animals stirred abroad. They noticed encouraging signs everywhere, which suggested that this region was inimical to poodles.

And so they made an encampment in the Valley of the Smiths, so called because there a forge had once stood, fueled by the timbers from the lumber mill of once humble Mill Valley back in the day when normal, blue-collar, just folks lived in Marin. The camp was cold and hungry by way of the rain and the humble provisions: marmite sandwiches and remaindered MRE's from the Vietnam era someone had stockpiled in their garage in a harebrained scheme to corner the market back when it was thought an invasion by either North Korea or the USSR was immanent.

During the night the sounds of provocative yapping drifted through the barbed wire and obnoxious calls, as in "Die you Yankee kitty cats!" and "Eff you Yankee doggies!" Tracer fire went out to unknown targets in the distance. Death was sudden, instantaneous through the long Night of the Poodle.

In the morning they discovered why the enemy had fled to Marin. Up on the ridges burned the watchfires of countless battalions of poodle owners. The hunter brigade had been surrounded by a legion of the enemy which had lured them into a country infested with poodle mania in all its worst manifestations: bad art, worse music, corrupted language, misdirected sentiment in place of genuine human warmth, devotion to love objects that returned only illusiory reactions born of instinct embedded in a foreign species. Abandonment of one's native species for the sake of self deception. All those things against which the Poodleshoot had fought for years. Marin was morphed from a place where decent people used to live, a place of hard working men and women who did things with their hands to a corrupted abode of lotus eaters and effete aromatherapy.

And now our people were surrounded. The situation appeared desperate. How to withdraw with honor. The situation felt all too familiar. At that moment they were all waist deep in the big muddy and waiting for some damn fool to say, "Press on!"

A delegation arrived from the opposing camp to deliver a message, their insolent flag of lace and cutsy puffins. Their envoy made it clear that the hunter party was to depart or be furiously pooped upon to total desolation.

Cmdr. Stifstik, who it should surprise no one who has followed these pages had long enjoyed the Poodleshoot for the sheer pleasure of murderous energy, spoke first among the assembly.

What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?
That Glory never shall their wrath or might
Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
With suppliant knee, and deify their power,
Who from the terrour of this Arm so late
Doubted their Empire, that were low indeed,
That were an ignominy and shame beneath
This downfall; since by Fate the strength of Gods
And this Empyreal substance cannot fail,
Since through experience of this great event
In Arms not worse, in foresight much advanced
We may with more successful hope resolve
To wage by force or guile eternal War
Irreconcileable, to our grand Foe,
Who now triumphs, and in th' excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Marin.

Thus spoke Cmdr. Stifstik, USN ret.

"That is a fine sentiment for yourself," said the Editor. "But I say, We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

There was a chorus of agreement on this point.

"Gentlemen and Ladies," said the Editor. "We are now more divided than we have ever been since the birth of this Nation. Right now a President of a foreign power ramps upon our shores enjoying the fruits of our liberties and our union workers while we stir here in our own country in danger of extermination, trapped far from home. Our own President has proven himself to be an odious man, an incompetant purveyor of ineffective business agenda, and an insulting nitwit who has alienated friends around the world.

This is not right.

We shall break out of this encirclement by device or force of arms and shall return to wage war upon the infidel poodle lovers of this area with unremitting energy that places the value of human beings over any other species. Now hearken unto me for our plans . . .".

And so it was that a great work that was a hollow figure of a terrier was placed at dawn on the edge of the encampment which astonished all that saw it for its great height and dimensions.

And the poodlepeople were not dismayed and not convinced when a captured spy stated that this was to be an offering to the gods and made so large that no hall in Mill Valley or Larkspur could contain it. Indeed, it may be noted that all of the halls of these miniscule towns are quite diminuitive in stature.

"We have seen this sort of deception before, as practiced during the Trojan Wars where the device contained a secret army ready to leap out and destroy our metropolis," Stated the Poodle commander, Herumphus. And so his command was to destroy the effigy by fire with all available resources.

And so it was that as the Piddlers made great efforts to destroy the effigy of a dog, the hunters slipped away under cover of darkness back to the Island, where the survivors were welcomed, even though their caches were empty and Padraic bade that another ahi be thrown upon the Barbee, vowing to return to Marin and there execute terrific vengeance.

Thus ended the 20th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

NOVEMBER 18, 2018


HE'S JUST A DOG

With all the doom, gloom and disaster and general mood of cynical despair lately, we thought we should lighten up a bit, at least at the beginning. It is a well known axiom that it is easier to pass from comedy to tragedy rather than back the other way. This image is of a new installation at SFO. It is not intended to be an art exhibit, but a convenience for those folks traveling with their canine partners.

Headline is from an Elvin Bishop song.

He is such a good dog. Such a good dog he is.


NOVEMBER'S GOT HER NAILS DUG IN DEEP

It has been 40 years nearly to the day. But it started in 1955 when a young Methodist preacher founded a new church loosely based on Pentecostal, 7th Day Baptist, and socialist principles in Indianapolis. The church was initially named the Community Unity Church. This new church stressed egalitarianism and racial unity.

The church grew rapidly, purchased a building in Indianapolis, and established a soup kitchen that fed thousands of people. But in 1961 the Reverend claimed to have had a vision foretelling of nuclear holocaust to happen in 1967. Consequently the preacher scouted out possible safe havens in Brazil, Cuba and parts of the United States.

In July of 1965 the preacher led 140 members to Redwood Valley in Northern California. There the preacher rejected traditional Christianity as escapist fantasy and the Bible, although containing some good ideas, was substantially a justification for false beliefs and racist oppression by White men . The church began to acquire members of some influence, including Timothy Stoen, deputy district attorney.

The preacher found collecting members in the rural area of Ukiah to be too difficult, and so the decision was made to transfer headquarters to an urban setting. Consequently centers were set up in Los Angeles and San Francisco in 1970, with permanent houses established in 1972 and 1971.

The church, which had been renamed Wings of Deliverance", and later renamed again to the "Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church", became referenced by its founder, Jim Jones, as The People's Temple.

In San Francisco, membership ballooned as the church collected supporters in the form of Herb Caen, Angela Davis, Willie Brown, and Mayor Moscone, whom the church helped to get elected by turning out the vote via extensive canvassing. The People's Temple were also instrumental in getting Harvey Milk elected on his fourth stab at public office, but Milk who appreciated the help, but who nevertheless never lost his instinctive distrust of the organization.

Membership of the racially integrated church, a rarity in early days of the 70's, swelled to between 3,000 -5,000 members in San Francisco alone with additional satellite centers in Ukiah, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Sacramento along with a college tuition program in Santa Rosa. By the end of the 70's the Peoples Temple owned and ran at least nine residential care homes for the elderly, six homes for foster children, and a state-licensed 40-acre ranch for developmentally disabled persons.

Despite these good works and the promotion of racial integration in all walks of life, begun well in advance of the Civil Rights Act, rumors of strange, authoritarian behavior began to seep out. Newspapers that printed critical articles were bullied, picketed and threatened with lawsuits until article series were dropped. People who defected, fled in fear for their lives, and indeed a group called The Gang of Eight loaded up cars with munitions and fled to Montana by way of backroads to avoid search parties sent by the Temple. They were justified in that the Temple sent members to spy out the freeways leading up to Canada.

San Francisco mayor George Moscone, Art Agnos, and Harvey Milk continued to support Jones, who was made Head of the Housing Authority by Moscone. Willie Brown visited the Temple many times and spoke publicly in support of Jones, even after investigations and suspicions of cult activity. Jones used his position at the Housing Authority to lead the fight against the eviction of tenants from San Francisco's I-Hotel. The Temple further forged an alliance with San Francisco Sun Reporter publisher Carlton Goodlett and received frequent favorable mentions in that paper.

Despite the good press, investigative articles continued, which mentioned the intense scrutiny of each new member, the harsh discipline that included compulsory boxing matches between unequal participants, and behavior mod techniques modeled on brainwashing methods practiced in North Korea. Then, in 1976 the wife of Timothy Stoen, launched a custody battle to recover her son. Like many of the members, the boy's actual father, Timothy Stoen, had been compelled to sign an affidavit in 1972, stating that the son was fathered by Jim Jones. Timothy Stoen got sent by Jones to Guyana out of concern regarding the lawsuit and there served on the Temple's behalf in Georgetown, Guyana, helping to purchase property for a settlement there.

It was this affidavit, among other incidents, that persuaded Grace Stoen to flee with another dissatisfied member from the San Francisco HQ to Tahoe. It was not until late 1978 that former ardent supporter Timothy Stoen, joined the custody battle initiated by his wife Grace over his newly born son land become persona non grata at Jonestown.

About the same time, an informal group calling itself Concerned Relatives had started to apply serious pressure to law enforcement, media and politicians to investigate the Temple for cult activities, including kidnapping, violence and brain washing. Stoen used his legal expertise to aid several lawsuits against the Temple, and from that moment on members of the Temple were encouraged to air public fantasies about killing the former deputy DA..

After a 1977 article by Marshall Kilduff in New West Magazine, Jones penned a note that said, "We leave tonight. Notify Georgetown."

Jones had already established a community in Guyana about 200 miles from Georgetown, as mentioned above and which had been partly administered by Tim Stoen, who had quit his job as deputy DA. This new community of some 50 members was called Jonestown.

After pressing for legal action in the United States, in November 1977, an order was issued in a San Francisco court granting custody of John to his mother, Grace. The court order meant that Jones could not return to the United States without facing contempt proceedings for failing to turn over the child; it also meant John Stoen could never leave Jonestown.

Eventually, after defection from the Church and its subsequent move south, Tim Stoen returned to Guyana to try to use local jurisprudence to retrieve his son but was unsuccessful when the local judge was threatened with death. On his last visit to the Jonestown hamlet Stoen was surrounded by members and also threatened with death if he did not stop the custody battle. Stoen returned to San Francisco and redoubled his efforts to recover his son, pressuring various members of Congress to conduct an investigation.

On November 17, 1978 Congressman Leo Ryan landed with a delegation charged into alleged cult practices after several former members critical of the Temple had been murdered or disappeared. Among the members of that delegation were the Stoens. Because of their prior friction due to the custody battle both Tim and Grace Stoen were forbidden to return to fetch their son, so they remained in Georgetown, where Tim Stoen met and talked with the actual son of Jim Jones at his hotel. For most of the that day and the next nothing seemed amiss to the delegation on site at Jonestown until someone passed a note to Ryan's assistant, Jackie Spier, that read, "Please get me out of here!"

The decision was made to leave right away and suddenly about 40 people there also wanted to leave. Ryan called for a 2nd plane to take on the additional passengers and was subsequently attacked by a man with a knife who only managed to injure himself. The delegation sped off in jeeps, but at the airstrip they were met by a truck loaded with armed men who opened fire, disabling one plane. Rep. Ryan went down as did Jackie Spier, who had been shot multiple times in the leg, her arm and her back. NBC cameraman Bob Brown filming the action was killed and his camera continued to record events as it fell and rolled on the ground. Survivors boarded the remaining plane which took off under fire from the truck below. A Temple gunman was among those on board and there ensued a battle inside the plane for control, but the lone gunman was overpowered and no one else was killed.

On the evening of November 18, 1978 in Jonestown, Jones ordered his congregation to drink cyanide-laced Flavor Aid. In all, at Jonestown, a nearby airstrip and Georgetown, 918 people died, including over 270 children, resulting in the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the incidents of September 11, 2001. Jim Jones was found by the Guyanian army with a bullet through his head, the pistol nearby. Six year old John Stoen was found poisoned by cyanide in a cabin. Congressman Leo Ryan was among those killed at the airstrip, shot by the assassins.

Jackie Spier survived and went on in politics to serve a district that includes some of the areas once served by Ryan.

Timothy Stoen returned to the Ukiah region where he continues to practice law.

Over the next year a few other leading members of the Temple who had been away on business, killed themselves. Michael Prokes, who had been ordered to deliver a suitcase containing Temple funds to be transferred to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, held a press conference in Modesto California. There, with press members present in the next room, he put the muzzle of a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger.

Various other tragic murder\suicides continued up to 1983. The San Francisco building at 1859 Geary which had housed the headquarters was essentially destroyed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

One of Jones's natural sons, who had been absent at a basketball game in Georgetown, traveled to Guyana 20 years later and was filmed by an ABC documentary crew, sobbing as they arrived at the Jonestown site where all the buildings had been torn down long ago and the jungle had started to melt again into the landscape. "I wanted to find some trace of what had been here; instead there is nothing," said Stephan Jones.

PSA - MUDSLIDES AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM

We are all praying for rain to put an end to this year's disastrous fire season, but rain brings problems for denuded hillsides and dry soil that will initially resist uniform absorption. The sidebar lists some mudslide resources we compiled with help from Disasterweb.com

Here are some additions that will go up in the sidebar.

Landslide and Mudflow safety tips -
This provides a great overview of mudslide safety (you have to scroll down a bit to see the article).

Flood-Proof Landscaping: Protect Your Home and Property -
I think this article has great info for people who need to divert water away from their property - especially critical for those living in an area prone to mudslides.

Landslide Safety Checklist -
This isn’t quite as comprehensive as the resource listed above, but it’s worth sharing. t’s formatted in a way it could be printed and hung up on the refrigerator for quick access and reference. It is the Redcross.

Infographic: Disaster preparedness essentials -
This is a great visual for exactly what to keep on hand in the event of a mudslide or any other disaster - Angie’s List says these supplies should be put together to sustain you for at least 72 hours.

After the Mudslide, Protecting Public Health
Although this seems to be written for first responders, I think this information on landslide-related health risks is critical for everyone to know. Who knew there were so many health hazards tied to these disasters?

The Ultimate SoCal Disaster Safety Guide
This has a great section on landslides, among others on flooding, wildfires, and earthquakes. It was obviously written with Southern California residents in mind, but it’s great information for people at risk of any of these disasters no matter where they live.


TROUBLE IN MIND

So anyway. Everyone is gearing up for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ, largely because this year promises to be an extra special blowout it being the 20th occurrence of this event. All the merchants and homes near the usual trouble spots are busy boarding up windows, preparing anti-flak barriers, and netting to forestall hand grenades. People with expensive yachts are planning anchor-outs in the Bay and there has been a run on bulletproof vests from Amazon and Big 5. They do not make Kevlar in pink, so Mavis Conundrum is much put out. Poor Mavis.

Because of the terrible air quality, said to be at present worse than any city in China, people have been walking around with white N95 particulate masks. Each day the sun arises in an orange ball peering through a dense haze. At night the waxing moon has been blood orange as well. Animals pop out of nowhere, looking around in confusion, knowing something terrible is going on and not knowing where to run. Foxes and skunks scurry along the road. Deer congregate in confusion due to the smoke that hides the far side of valleys and vales. Butte County is burning up about 150 miles north but the plume of smoke and ash from 250 square miles of 17,000 destroyed buildings and 79 dead has settle in the static convection layer that is the Bay Area.

Mr. Howitzer sent Dodd out to find N95 masks but none were to be found. The minute a shipment arrives at ACE hardware, the delivery is gone, snatched up by frantic moms, dogwalkers and just about anyone needing to spend time out of doors. In a burst of inspiration, Dodd went to the military surplus store and picked up a few gas masks, the kind with the removable cylinder filters.

Mr. Howitzer put his on and promptly made telephone calls, which presented difficulties as the man was more than usually unintelligible.

Down at the Old Same Place Bar the talk was about the smoke and the anticipated rain for Thanksgiving. Then also the talk involved speculation on who would represent Washington DC this year.

Everyone hoped that the Executive Branch at the top would be too busy conducting damage control from the latest round of imbecilities and insults to former friends. Even Sean Hannity would be preferable.

"But Sean Hannity is a newscaster, not part of the Government," someone said.

"O yes he is," Padraic replied.

Up north, Pahrump lay in his cot, listening as he counted fire engines going by. One. Two. Three. Four. It sounded like they stopped about a quarter mile away. Although it was three a.m., he got up and got dressed and with Martini on the back, he drove his scooter down the main road to where a sheriff had set up a road block. Turned out it was a housefire and it was all under control, so they went back to the Household and each had a glass of wine.

"Before this Fall I never would have done that," Martini said. "Never have gotten out of bed at 3 to see where the fire was."

"Life is going to be different for all Northern Californians from now on," Pahrump said. "In the short term, pray for rain."

"Yes, pray for rain."

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the spectral fog-shrouded Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the haunted niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the haunted mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

NOVEMBER 11, 2018


ALL UNDER A BURNING SKY

This week we have a sunset over Berkeley captured by Valerie Bach, a talented musician who captains the Latin jazz group Girltalk. This image, on a day forcast for clear skies, reflects the smoky atmosphere that is occluding Bay area skies. See discussion below.


WAR PIGS

As of this time, Sunday evening, the Camp fire is 25% contained with low winds in the valley but guts up higher. The city of Paradise has essentially been destroyed, along with a couple of other hamlets and is now chewing up east Chico. The University has been evacuated. 110,000 acres have been consumed and 7,000 structures destroyed. 31 people have died, which includes 2 persons in SoCal. 220 people remain unaccounted for.

This is the worst fire in California's recorded history.

Down south, 250,000 people have been dislocated by evactuation orders. Burned acreage is about 85,000. Both north and south areas feature urban borderlands and are not included in forest management, despite what the Trump in Chief claims.

Locally, all cars and vegetation is covered with ash. The air stinks of smoke and regular warnings about hazardous air conditions emit from the Sheriff's department. Every county in California is under Red Flag fire alert warning.

Which brings us to Mr. Bush, who was never our President, and who said global warning was a sop. No, Mr. Bush, natural causes that denied rainfall to Butte County for 210 days were not the product of Liberalism. They were a product of denial. Of absence of responsibility.

In the early hours of November 11, 1918, two hours past midnight, a railway car pulled up in the forest of Compiègne in France. This car contained the delegation headed by Matthias Erzberger from the German government. A few minutes later another car pulled up on the parallel line; this car contained dignitaries from the Allied powers, Marshal of France Ferdinand Foch, the Allied supreme commander and First Sea Lord Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss, the British representative. The Armistice was agreed upon at 5:00 a.m. on 11 November, to come into effect at 11:00 a.m. Paris time (noon German time), for which reason the occasion is sometimes referred to as "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month". Signatures were made between 5:12 a.m. and 5:20 a.m., Paris time.

With this pact ended the most horrific, costly and foolish war ever conducted since the beginning of historical record.

September 9th marked another anniversary. It was the 60th remembrance of The Night of Broken Glass. Kristalnacht was a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and civilians. The German authorities looked on without intervening. The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues were smashed.

Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers. The rioters destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses were either destroyed or damaged. Many Jews were beaten, several hundred to death. The British historian Martin Gilbert wrote that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening, and the accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world. The event marked a shift from economic, political and social Nazi persecution of Jews to physical and with the shipping of 30,000 people to concentration camps the start of the Final Solution Shoah, or Holocaust.

Kristallnacht sparked international outrage. It discredited pro-Nazi movements in Europe and North America, leading to an eventual decline in their support. Many newspapers condemned Kristallnacht, with some of them comparing it to the murderous pogroms incited by Imperial Russia during the 1880s. The United States recalled its ambassador (but it did not break off diplomatic relations) while other governments severed diplomatic relations with Germany in protest. The British government approved the Kindertransport program for refugee children. As such, Kristallnacht also marked a turning point in relations between Nazi Germany and the rest of the world. The brutality of the pogrom, and the Nazi government's deliberate policy of encouraging the violence once it had begun, laid bare the repressive nature and widespread anti-Semitism entrenched in Germany. World opinion thus turned sharply against the Nazi regime, with some politicians calling for war.

Surprisingly, most of the German people also reacted with disgust to the events of 11/09/38.

The reaction of non-Jewish Germans to Kristallnacht was varied. Many spectators gathered on the scenes, most of them in silence. The local fire departments confined themselves to prevent the flames from spreading to neighboring buildings. In Berlin, police Lieutenant Otto Bellgardt barred SA troopers from setting the New Synagogue on fire, earning his superior officer a verbal reprimand from the commissioner.

The British historian Martin Gilbert believes that "many non-Jews resented the round-up", his opinion being supported by German witness Dr. Arthur Flehinger who recalls seeing "people crying while watching from behind their curtains".[50] Rolf Dessauers recalls how a neighbor came forward and restored a portrait of Paul Ehrlich that had been "slashed to ribbons" by the Sturmabteilung. "He wanted it to be known that not all Germans supported Kristallnacht."The extent of the damage done on Kristallnacht was so great that many Germans are said to have expressed their disapproval of it, and to have described it as senseless.

In an article released for publication on the evening of 11 November, Goebbels ascribed the events of Kristallnacht to the "healthy instincts" of the German people. He went on to explain: "The German people are anti-Semitic. It has no desire to have its rights restricted or to be provoked in the future by parasites of the Jewish race." Less than 24 hours after the Kristallnacht Adolf Hitler made a one-hour long speech in front of a group of journalists where he managed to completely ignore the recent events on everyone's mind. According to Eugene Davidson the reason for this was that Hitler wished to avoid being directly connected to an event that he was aware that many of those present condemned, regardless of Goebbels's unconvincing explanation that Kristallnacht was caused by popular wrath. Goebbels met the foreign press in the afternoon of 11 November and said that the burning of synagogues and damage to Jewish owned property had been "spontaneous manifestations of indignation against the murder of Herr Vom Rath by the young Jew Grynsban [sic]"

Goebbels insisted the media report the story that it was all a popular reaction to the assassination of a German diplomat named Vom Rath by a man named Herschel Grynszpan whose Jewish family had just been cruelly deported. Ironically Vom Rath had been an anti-Nazi official under Gestapo investigation for alleged "political unreliability." He had been having an affair with Grynszpan for some time and it is thought the relationship had gone sour.

In 1938, just after Kristallnacht, the psychologist Michael Müller-Claudius interviewed 41 randomly selected Nazi Party members on their attitudes towards racial persecution. Of the interviewed party-members 63% expressed extreme indignation against it, while only 5% expressed approval of racial persecution, the rest being noncommittal. A study conducted in 1933 had then shown that 33% of Nazi Party members held no racial prejudice while 13% supported persecution. Sarah Ann Gordon sees two possible reasons for this difference. First, by 1938 large numbers of Germans had joined the Nazi Party for pragmatic reasons rather than ideology thus diluting the percentage of rabid antisemites; second, the Kristallnacht could have caused party members to reject Antisemitism that had been acceptable to them in abstract terms but which they could not support when they saw it concretely enacted.During the Kristallnacht, several Gauleiter and deputy Gauleiters had refused orders to enact the Kristallnacht, and many leaders of the SA and of the Hitler Youth also openly refused party orders, while expressing disgust. Some Nazis helped Jews during the Kristallnacht

As it was aware that the German public did not support the Kristallnacht, the propaganda ministry directed the German press to portray opponents of racial persecution as disloyal. The press was also under orders to downplay the Kristallnacht, describing general events at the local level only, with the prohibition against depictions of individual events. In 1939 this was extended to a prohibition on reporting any anti-Jewish measures.

The vast majority of the German public disapproved of the Kristallnacht as for example evidenced by the torrent of reports attesting to this by diplomats in Germany.[

While November 1938 predated the overt articulation of "the Final Solution", it foreshadowed the genocide to come. Around the time of Kristallnacht, the SS newspaper Das Schwarze Korps called for a "destruction by swords and flames." At a conference on the day after the pogrom, Hermann Göring said: "The Jewish problem will reach its solution if, in anytime soon, we will be drawn into war beyond our border—then it is obvious that we will have to manage a final account with the Jews.

Notwithstanding the fact most of Germans disapproved of the events, by 1938 it had become too late to protest. Germany had become a totalitarian state where dissent was violently suppressed. Members of the Catholic and Protestant clergy who did protest and otherwise assist individual Jews were sentenced to death or sent to Dachau, itself an effective death sentence.

The photo below was taken in 1981 of a synogogue located in then East Berlin. The plaque states the house of worship was burned on Kristalnacht and further damaged during the allied bombing of Berlin during WWII. Let the facade of this House of God stand for all time as a warning and a remembrance. The line in all caps says NEVER FORGET.

 

ALL THE LEAVES WERE FALLING

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

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

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

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

We will be posting the official rules presently in the sidebar. For now, last year's rules are up there to give you an idea of what this dreadful celebration is all about. What is the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot you may ask. This year marks the 20th year that the 'Shoot has taken place and perhaps the last time it will be held on the Island before it moves to Marin where the infernal species abounds in great numbers. It is, in short a Tradition, and we are big on Tradition.

ALL THE LEAVES WERE FALLING

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

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

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

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

We will be posting the official rules presently in the sidebar. For now, last year's rules are up there to give you an idea of what this dreadful celebration is all about. What is the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot you may ask. This year marks the 20th year that the 'Shoot has taken place and perhaps the last time it will be held on the Island before it moves to Marin where the infernal species abounds in great numbers. It is, in short a Tradition, and we are big on Tradition.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic and Dawn started serving up Gaelic Coffees as the weather turned nippy. Nippy for California that is, which is 40's to 30's -- above zero. Padraic calls the Arthur Power whiskey and brandy laced drink with whipped cream a Gaelic coffee because, as he says, no decent Irishman would adulturate the Water of Life in such a manner.

And so they were, all gathered post-midterm elections, with Papoon buying rounds for everybody old enough to vote, while Babar sat in a funk with his Old Fashioned, no muddle.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the specrtral fog-shrouded Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the haunted niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the haunted mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

NOVEMBER 4, 2018


MONSTER MASH


WE ARE ALL WAITING ON A TRAIN

So anyway, the time came for Denby to make the annual crossover, which had remained as a Tradition even though the offices and the Household had been transplanted by force during the Night of Shattered Fires. Tradition has its own powerful force as some of you may know.

The sun descended and shadows grew long across the little avenues of Silvan Acres. Because of the creek passing through, and then the long absent train line and now the road, this place had been a traveling place for many hundreds, if not thousands of years.

The Editor said, "Go now," and so Denby took his walking cane and went out to the uplift where the earth was embanked higher than in other places along the road.

To his great surprise a train came trundling along the way beside the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, even though Denby could not recall such tracks ever having been there.

The machine heaved to a stop with steam and groaning and Denby climbed aboard and took his seat in a cabin with no other passengers in the car. The train proceeded down Sir Francis Drake, stopping at Yolanda Landing and various points not known to Denby and then proceeded south and east through a dense fog that made identifying landmarks difficult. For a long time everything outside the windows was entirely black and Denby assumed they were somehow crossing one of the bridges.

At one point the train stopped and the conductor, a gaunt man wearing a robe, came down the aisle announcing in a foreign accent "Endstation! Endstation!"

Denby disembarked to find he was on the Shoreline Road on the Island. He walked along the path there that bordered the brightly lit condos and the seawall until he came to the Iron Gate. He undid the latch and was greeted by any owl. "Who? Who are you? Who?!"

An iron bell began to clang and then he saw the vast expanse of bonfires lit upon the beach. Those bonfires lit by the souls waiting passage to redemption or eternal fire.

A distant dog or set of dogs set up an infernal barking.

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

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

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!"

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

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

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

"Hoo! Hoo! Hoooooo!"

Okay, okay. Poor choice of words.

"Hooooo!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

A blonde woman figure appeared before him, glimmering with an internal light and gauzy fabric blown by an invisible wind. This apparition greeted him.

"Denby!" said the woman. "Here you are again!"

"Hello Penny," Denby said. "Back again."

"A year has passed up there in your world, I guess. Here another year is all the same for waiting."

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

The two of them went down to one of the bonfires not far from the old stone jetty wharf that appeared every year extending out into the shallow waters offshore, and which magically disappeared by dawn the next day, having served its purpose.

There were several people with faces Denby recognized, the most recognizeable was a man dressed in a dapper, white suit and white tie with black polka dots. On his head he word a white fedora decorated with a black band sporting white dots.

"You look like a successful man," Denby said.

":You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity." said the man.

Another man looked vaguely familiar to Denby, like he had seen him in person before. "What's your claim to fame? I think we have met before."

"Baker beach, long ago. You jumped over the bonfire. When I was in my late 30s, I lit a figure on fire on Baker Beach in San Francisco. It was me, a friend, and maybe eight people, tops. There wasn't any premeditation to it at all. It was really just a product of San Franciscan bohemian milieu."

"Larry," Denby said. "Ever lose faith in people after everything went to Black Rock and got so big?"

"I've learned never to expect people to be better than they are, but to always have faith that they can be more. Black Rock is a place where people can heal, " Larry said.

"Sorry I never made it out to that part of the desert," Denby said.

A woman with her hair done up dreads spoke next.

:Where there is a woman there is magic. ...
one thing I don’t need
is any more apologies
i got sorry greetin me at my front door
you can keep yrs
i don’t know what to do wit em
they don’t open doors
or bring the sun back
they don’t make me happy
or get a mornin paper
didn’t nobody stop usin my tears to wash cars
cuz a sorry"

Two little barefoot girls ran into the circle around the bonfire, then ran off laughing and screeching the way little girls sometimes do.

"The Ferryman is coming," Penny said.

From far away a gleam pierced the murky fog and grew as the skiff approached the wharf.

Souls appeared in large numbers walking toward the jetty.

A young man wearing glasses and sitting at the fire started with surprise and out popped a gold coin into his hand and he exclaimed with an English accent, "I say! Life would be tragic if it weren't funny!"

"Everything is about to change for you, Stephen." Penny said. "Even for one as intelligent as you."

"People who boast about their IQ are losers. Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change." Stephen said.

"If you are who I think you are," Denby said, "Got any advice for those of us left behind?"

"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious," Stephen said as he stood up to go.

"Any idea of the chance there might be intelligent aliens out there?"

"I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet." And with that, Stephan ambled down to the wharf as the Ferryman approached.

A large woman came down the Strand surrounded by a bevy of Black Angels trailing great black wings and she belted out this song as she approached.


R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me
RESPECT, take care, TCB, oh
(Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
A little respect
(sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
Whoa, babe
(Just a little bit) A little respect
(Just a little bit) I get tired
(Just a little bit) Keep on tryin'
(Just a little bit) You're runnin' out of fools
(Just a little bit) And I ain't lyin'

"Hey 'rethra! You haven't changed a bit!" Denby shouted.

"Music changes, and I'm gonna change right along with it. Be your own artist, and always be confident in what you're doing. If you're not going to be confident, you might as well not be doing it."

And with that the Queen of Soul mounted the stone steps to the wharf with her band of Angels trailing wings of glory.

A heavyset man, going bald, strolled past. "Afraid of death? Angry about anything," Denby asked.

"People are unjust to anger - it can be enlivening and a lot of fun," said the man. "As for dying, I will not have it said about me, 'he couldn't do it. He could not fucking die. How could he leave? How could he go? Everything he hated was here'."

A young woman with close-cropped hair walked by and she was singing,

"All my life Is changing
every day
In every possible way
In all my dreams
It's never quite as it seems
Never quite as it seems."

Next came an august-looking man with piercing eyes and shock-white hair and Denby remembered that he had been sent to glean hints for the Editor of how the elections would go.

"John! John! We are so divided! Any ideas about what is coming up for the Nation?"

And this is truly what John did say. ""Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again." With that he took his obolus coin and ascended to the wharf.

Two men remained sitting beside the fire as Denby turned away from looking at the dock where the Ferryman with eyes of wheels of fire took oboli fare and ushered the souls on board.

"And now you two," Denby said. He face the one man with close-cropped wavy hair and tattoos on his arms. Concerned about travelling over the river? Any regrets."

"As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life -- and travel -- leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks -- on your body or on your heart -- are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt. . . . It's been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

"What is it about food that captivated you," Denby asked.

"Food is everything we are. It's an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It's inseparable from those from the get-go. . . . Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me. The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself.

"The Ferry is leaving now," Penny said. "You can face the water again."

Indeed the heat on his back from those terrible eyes began to recede and a gentle night breeze brought cooling relief.

Denby turned to face the other man, a stern-looking fellow with white hair. "And you sir, are not going on this trip I see. I would have thought that surely, of all people, you were an immediate passenger."

"Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent. . . .As I approached my 95th birthday, I was burdened to write a book that addressed the epidemic of 'easy believism.' There is a mindset today that if people believe in God and do good works, they are going to Heaven."

"Denby," Penny said. "These men, like me, have done things they regret." She looked at the man who at one time had been a joyful celebrant of food and social communion. "And self-murder takes a long time to forgive, for the man must first forgive himself and that is hard."

The foodie man stood up with a sigh and turned to walk down to the water's edge and stare out into the fog where already the glimmer of the departing skiff had become a faint orange glow.

A bevy of five girls ran past, playing touch tag with each other. One stopped and let another tag her, saying, "You're it!"

"It's okay, Anthony," said the little girl, looking up and taking his hand in both of hers. "We all still love you."

"Nothing," said the other man, who clearly had been some kind of preacher, "Can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love."

"Looks like nothing is guaranteed, not even a lifetime of piety," Denby said.

Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent. . . Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion - it is a daily process . . . ", the preacher said. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and he responds to repentance. "

"O Billy, don't be so lugubrious," Penny said.

Three girls wearing pinafores came running out of the darkness and danced around the figure of Penny in a circle, holding their hands.

"The girls are always here," Denby said. "They are here each year for twenty years, but they never grow up."

"Yes, some of them will never be born or grown up. They are all the possible, the never were, and the yet to be born," Penny said. "Alice, come here!" And she grabbed her and swung her around in a circle by her arms as Alice squealed with delight.

Another one with light-colored hair and blue-green eyes ran up to Denby and made to hug him around his thighs, but her arms sank through his body. "O Papi! Are you a ghost?" she said.

"Do you have a name," Denby said, dropping down to hunker at eye level.

"Not yet," she said. "Or maybe never." She looked sad.

So Denby said, "I name you . . . Sapphire. Do you like that?"

"I dunno. Sapphire; why that?"

"Because my dear, you are very precious. And because of your eyes."

"O! I am Sapphire!" And with that she ran off into the darkness, calling out to her friends. "Hey! I am Sapphire! I am almost possible!"

"Isn't that the cutest thing!" Penny said. "Too bad we never made a . . . ".

"Lets not go there," Denby said. "You almost married Steve, remember?"

"No, he almost married me; that is different. How is Steve these days?"

"Happily married to a woman named Martha. She is robust and resilient."

"O that is good. I am happy for him -- he was always getting into trouble," Penny said. "Throwing beerkegs through the window when he had locked himself out of his house."

Alice and Sapphire came running up and stood there, looking at the two of them. Sapphire cupped her hand and whispered into the ear of Alice while still looking at Penny and Denby.

"O!" said Alice with wide brown eyes.

"They are so adorable!" Penny said. "And they keep me good company. I sure wish we had . . . ".

Then it came, interrupting what she had to say, rolling as thunder across the Strand, making the two girls run away and others of the Faithful drop to their knees. The tolling of the Iron Bell.

"Time for you to go," Penny said. "Do not say you wish you could stay -- you know that is not possible just yet. Go now."

Reluctantly Denby turned to go up the slope.

"Denby." Penny said simply and he paused as a wind kicked up with gusts.

She reached out her hands to cup his face. Cold, so cold. He felt a wetness on his lips, on his face. Perhaps the slap of saltwater from the Bay carried by the wind.

"Good-bye. Until next time."

He ascended the slope as the sound of the bell and three dogs became more insistent until he stumbled through the gate which slammed shut behind him. There, an open door to a train compartment waited for him and he climbed in to plotz into a seat in an otherwise empty railcar with salty, wet cheeks. On the return journey, he reflected Penny had become in the afterlife what she had been before. In life she had been a nurse during the height of the AIDS plague whose job it had been to handle the affairs of patients who had been sent home from Hospice as they lapsed and eventually died and allowed her to handle the paperwork of such things, there always the angel to usher souls to the door and through it to the next form of existence, if any, beyond.

The train passed through shadowy regions of smoke and the skeletal forms of houses and the smoke of spooks until it passed Yolanda Landing and eventually to the San Geronimo Station, where Denby disembarked. From there he went dutifully to the Island-Life offices although he felt exhausted unto death.

The Editor awaited him as in years past.

"So this is the 20th time you have crossed over," said the Editor. "How was it this time?"

Denby fell into a plush chair Martini had snagged from a For Free roadside pile. He gave the Editor the one thousand yard stare.

"I can tell you are wanting a drink. And by just the look of you, so am I." The Editor reached into the desk and pulled out a bottle of Glenfiddich and set two glasses on the desk before pouring more than two fingers into each glass.

"Any idea how the elections will go this time and what will become of the Country? You did ask, did you?"

"I did ask," Denby said hoarsely."We have common values we need to remember."

"That is more than usual," said the Editor. "Anything else?"

"There is nothing else to say," Denby said, his thoughts now far away. The thousand yard stare.

"I suspected not. It is all according to Tradition. At least we have that. Cheers."

"Cheers. Slainte." Denby said.

They sat there until the first glimmering of light appeared above the eastern hills. And so ended the last night of Los Dias de Los Muertos, the time when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the specrtral fog-shrouded Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the haunted niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the haunted mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

OCTOBER 28, 2018

LADY IN RED

This week we have a shot taken by CB Taylor on one of her walkabouts on the Island. Pretty impressive shot from someone's front yard.

PRINTING ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

It is all about the elections. That and the Corrosive In Chief's latest raft of insults to public and private persons, violent and provocational rhetoric, and blatant self-exhalting lies. But we still have elections, contaminated and infused with chikanery though they are, the last vestige of something we used to call Democracy.

There are a raft of new measures and proposals all over the place trying to get a handle on the wildly out of control property costs and rental crisis. The State prop does not really enforce any rent control, but offers to loosen up things for the local governments to decide by local vote what to do and how to do it. This is Prop 10, and we think it is a good idea as the Golden State is way too large and variegated in demographics to legislate matters solely from Sacto.

Piedmont has little to do with Albany, which has its own issues separate from Kensington or Watts in LA.

On the Island Big Property wants to keep things as they are with Measure K, claiming that things are just fine and nothing needs to change. Dumping Measure K actually still will not do much other than make it easier to get other measures on the ballot, admittedly new measures from Property Owners as well as measures seeking to protect renters from avarice, nevertheless, we think the situation clearly needs to be freed up to allow at least a possibility of change.

Freight and Salvage has some nice shows coming up, starting with Richard Shindell 11/1. He will drive up to the Hopmonk Tavern in Novato before heading further north to Redding.

Strunz and Farah will perform their unique and exciting fusion of South American and Iranian music 11/6, which is a Tuesday. Total Guitar has this understated comment to say about the acoustic duo: “The planet’s most staggering guitar duo finally gives us a live taste of their uplifting Latin-flavored acoustic fusion and the jawdropping technique which has stunned California audiences for almost 20 years. But speed aside, high-energy acoustic music doesn’t get any more moving than this.” (five out of five star rating).

December will bring Holly Near, Mary Gauthier, Peter Rowan, founders of Peter, Paul and Mary Peter Yarrow with Noel Paul Stookey, and Kurt Elling.

Looking to fill NYE with something worthwhile? Hot Tuna will hand you an acoustic\electric combo to welcome 2019.


COUNT NO MAN LUCKY

So anyway, she arranged for Carol to tend to Henry, stepped down the three flights of stairs of the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum and turned left to walk the block to the bus stop where she caught the line that took her to the ferry landing. There she boarded the Blue and Gold to Oaktown, where it did a turn about and headed out the estuary to Babylon and the Ferry Building. There she marched around to the other platform to take the big boat north to Larkspur, where she disembarked after a vigorous couple hours of sea travel and stood there as Pahrump arrived with his scooter to take her the long road through several towns along Sir Francis Drake and then through San Anselmo and Fairfax and over White's Hill and down to Silvan Acres in the San Geronimo Valley.

But as she did this something happened that was very serious.

As Denby turned the corner towards his new home on his daily walk, who should step from behind a tree but none other than the Editor himself, smoking a cigar as of old. It had to be an apparition, for now was come to the time of Los Dias de los Muertos, when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

"Come along Denby," said the Editor with his usual gruff voice. "We must get to the annual Drawing of Straws which is tonight."

"But you are gone! I saw it myself! I thought all that was done and no more going back!"

"Denby," the Editor said. "You need to reread the end of Oedipus Rex. Especially the chorus part. Come along now."

As they walked to the new Island-Life Offices, the bus arrived from San Rafael and out stepped Rachel.

"Hello Boss," Rachel said.

The three of them entered the new offices and there, as in 19 years passed, Rachel walked around with the hat filled with straws and each member of the staff drew so as to determine who shall be the one to cross over to The Other Side.

This year was especially important, given the market volatility, the violent, ill-nature of the current President, and the upcoming Mid-term elections.

As Rachel walked down the aisles, each staffer drew a straw with great hesitation, sweat beading out on the brow, nervously clutching the straw until it was revealed to be longer yet than any other to that person's great relief. Even Festus was made to draw -- nothing is uglier than an anxious, sweating hamster -- but it had to be done for the sake of Tradition.

"Hey, where's your brother?" Jose said, looking for clues as to how things will proceed from now on.

"He is on holiday," said the Editor. "Draw!"

"Awww, man . . .".

"Draw!"

"I had to go down there one time before the time Denby had a broken leg . . .", Jose complained.

"Draw, dammit!"

"Whew! Long one! Dios mio . . .".

"What was it like, Jose," someone asked.

"It really sucked man," Jose said.

Finally it came around to the reluctant Denby, who, as Tradition dictated each year, drew the shortest straw.

"Why must it be me each year," Denby lamented.

"Because you are Chosen," Marlene said. "It's just it is not always to advantage to be Chosen. Okay everybody, tea and coffee and cakes on the verandah!"

And so they all filed out, clapping Denby on the back congratulating him on his good fortune while muttering under breath as they exited the door, "Thank god it is not me, poor sod!"

Finally Denby was left alone with the Editor.

"So how is this going to work? The Island is miles away." Denby said.

The Editor snipped and kindled a new cigar. "A conveyance has been prepared that will take you to the Portal."

"Are you back to stay now? I thought all was done and all our trials, including yours, were done with. What is going to happen?"

The Editor arose and beckoned Denby to follow him out the back while there was laughter and candlelight happening out front on the verandah.

The two of them stepped into the glade there and figures appeared out of the darkness. Denby thought at first they were coyotes or deer, but they were in fact the Wiccan coven of San Geronimo Valley, led by Constance Washburn and Missy Moonbeam.

"I do not know what is going to happen next," said the Editor. "I wish I did."

The coven circled the two men and began to chant and sing as they threw their arms upwards into the star-studded sky confounded by the glare of a full moon.

"You saw him swept away. So, being mortal, look on that last day! And count no man blessed in his life until he's crossed life's bounds! Safe in the grave! And free of pain at last! Ahhhhhhh!"

"Y'know boss, what is it about ex-Marines that makes them so humorless," Denby said.

"We are not humorless," the Editor said. "You take yourself too seriously."

With that, he went back inside, followed by Denby.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

OCTOBER 21, 2018

PAPERBACK WRITER

These installations are scattered around north and western Marin. They are free lending libraries, each decorated in some fanciful way and posted on the edge of private property. You can find a map of their locations and learn more about the semi-organized system by going to LITTLEFREELIBRARY.ORG. This one was seen in the town of San Anselmo.

WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN

So last week we went over some endorsements by the League of Women Voters, the independent Evolve.org, the Marin Indi Journal, East Bay Express and a few others for the November midterm elections.

Today we are just going to have a brief look at a couple hot-button issues in Alameda and Marin Counties and a couple State Propositions.

To summarize, this midterm election we are seeing a raft of bond measures and local property tax levies meant to handle budget shortfalls caused largely by the inflexible Howard Jarvis folks, who have promoted slashing of tax revenue without providing for replacement sources of revenue.

Short of repealing Prop 13 there is not much alternative to voting for these bond measures intended to keep the schools functioning.

Statewide we see the big fights over a Real Estate supported end-run around Prop 13 (PROP 5), a repeal of the gas tax (PROP 6), and a wildly deceptive, well-funded campaign against the repeal of Costa-Hawkins (PROP 10).

Prop 5 presents itself as a bone to give to persons over 55 who want to sell their property and then buy another, ostensibly as a "replacement" residence. There are all kinds of things wrong with the writing of this Proposition that allows the pre-prop 13 property valuation to be transferred to the new property, from the savaging of state revenues by some 1 billion dollars to the clear intent of Big Property to take bad advantage of this for business gain. There is no limit to the number of "transfers" for one, thus allowing a Realty to transfer low valuation three, four or a dozen times. Can you smell the books cooking back there? This proposition is a really bad idea concocted by greedy schemers who have no intention of benefitting the smallholder. And $1 billion dollars gone from the State coffers. That is a LOT of revenue to go missing.

Proposition 6 is another idea from the radical Jarvis people. Yes things are expensive, but cutting another source of revenue to the State is a really bad idea right now and analysts estimate this would cost us all $4.7 billion dollars needed for transportation infrastructure. Just about everybody sane is against this Proposition.

Proposition 10 takes some deep reading and quite a lot of fortitude to cut through the dense smoke screen of deception spewed by Big Property. For one, it does not pass any rent control at all anywhere. So the complaints that it would "hurt" smallholders and inlaw unit owners is entirely bogus. All the Proposition does is enable the cities to decide for themselves what they want to do. That is all it does. If your small town does not want rent control, you can just vote it down, because now you are allowed to do that. Or if you do want rent control in some form, then you all can then draft your own language taylored to your own district as you see fit -- if the Proposition passes.

Costa-Hawkins was passed by way of fierce lobbying by real estate interests seeking to preserve their own lucrative schemes by putting rent control in the lap of the State Assembly and taking it away from the local districts.

Was there not a recent movement to decentralize central government control over people? Well, only if it convenient, it seems. Vote yes for Proposition 10 and return control of rents to the locals.

On the Island we see just one issue that concerns us, overriding all other issues. Other than bouncing the City Council and Mayor.

Measure K is another Real Estate boondoggle cooked up by Big Money. We read the argument in favor of the thing and were struck by the astounding claim, not supported by any facts whatsoever, that "things are working just fine." Proposition K seeks to blunt any further rent control reform and lock into place a badly broken system that is getting worse day by day, featuring scads of no-cause evictions and price gouging.

Of course when we looked down to see the author, we saw it was written by Marie Kane, surely one of the worst landlords in the City, who has secured herself a position on the Tenant-Owner Arbitration Board. Talk about the fox in charge of the henhouse. It was people like her who tried to control the City Hall public meetings a while ago to the point of provoking a riot, leaving pools of blood on the formerly pristine marble floors out side the Council Chambers.

All tenants advocacy groups are against Measure K. Vote no.

We will have additional commentary up until the midterms and afterwards.

NIGHT SHIFT

So anyway, the oaks along Boulevard through Fairfax have turned yellow at last and dew dapples the car tops and the fence posts under the grey dawn. In the late afternoons the shadows stretch long across the road and the nights are cool, now requiring sweaters and jackets. A bicyclist coming up the Railroad Avenue where the trains used to run long ago comes across a four point stag at dusk, standing there, looking at him. The cyclist prudently dismounts his mountain bike and waits as the stag considers options and the time of year, as also does the cyclist.

After a moment the stag, calmly turns about twenty feet away and ascends the stone steps between the pillars to the yard up above. Another Situation averted.

Back at the Household the gang has been busy trying to get the place ready for Winter, for although it may be California, Winter surely will come. In wonder Snuffles and Little Adam cavorted among the fallen oak leaves while Pahrump and Mancini and Andre climbed up and down the roof with makeshift scrubbers on long broom handles to clean out the chimney flue, which apparently had not been done in about half a century. Rolf, Suan, and Marsha went about scrounging potential firewood from the Utility treecutters who had been clearing the branches along the powerlines, prompted by the recent fires up north.

A neighbor named Ed owned a full-sized plumber's snake on a reel which they dropped down the chimney flue, which helped a lot.

One of the rooms in the ramshackle place that had more twists and turns and additions than the Winchester Mystery House for sure had a pellet stove that had been converted from coal, which Mancini managed to get working, and this became Marlene and Andre's bedroom.

Where to find pellets was another issue. They started feeding Festus and his brothers Look and Feel lots of paper and urging them to poop. "We need about five hundred pounds of pellets guys," said Mancini. "Get to it."

Hamster doo as hamster will, but five hundred pounds of pellets, enough to heat a ramshackle house, is a pretty tall order for even heartily pooping rodents.

That's when the guys found a pile of anthracite at the top of Railroad Avenue -- it must have been abandoned way back when the trains stopped running up the hill toward Point Reyes. As piles of anthracite goes it was not a humongous pile -- something like a half ton or so -- but for the time being it fit the needs of the Household and pretty soon much of that half ton of anthracite managed to find its way back to the side yard of the Household by means of shovels and rakes and the immortal flexible flyer wagon and other implements of destruction until the Household was pretty much set up with heat for this Winter and maybe a few more besides.

Shadows danced among the bare branches of the buckeyes hanging heavy with their poisonous fruit. Skeletons hung from gates and cobwebs had appeared on formerly well-tended hedges. Ghouls and goblins gibbered inane nonsense in a rising cacophony and bloodsuckers stalked the shadowlands.

It was mid-term elections time again.

Night fell suddenly and coyotes howled in the near distance up the hill. It was a quiet night in the Valley 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 Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

OCTOBER 14, 2018

EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE

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

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

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


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

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

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

First up, Statewide offices and Propositions.

FROM EVOLVE - (NONPROFIT NONPARTISAN GROUP)

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

ADDITIONAL

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

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

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

PROPOSITIONS [discussion follows list]

PROP 1: BONDS FOR HOUSING ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
YES

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROP 8: OUTPATIENT KIDNEY DIALYSIS FEES REGULATION
NO

PROP 9: removed from ballot by Supreme Court order

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

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

PROP 12: STANDARDS FOR CONFINING FARM ANIMALS
YES

STATE PROPOSITIONS DISCUSSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROP 6: Gas tax repeal – NO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only it’s really not that way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROP 12: Less Farm Animal Confinement - YES

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

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

Evolve and EBT say YES.

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

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

So what gives?

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

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

OAKLAND
City Major - Libby Schaaf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARIN COUNTY RACES

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

District Attorney - Lori Frugoli

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

CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY
District 10: Marc Levine

US REPRESENTATIVE
District 2: Jared Huffman

REGIONAL MEASURES

FF – East Bay parks tax extension – Yes

Alameda County

E – Peralta parcel tax – Yes

F – Alameda sales tax – No

K -- City of Alameda Rent Control - No

G – Peralta construction bonds – No

H – Hayward school bond – Yes

L – Albany sales tax – No

P – Berkeley tax on property sales – No

T – Hayward tax on property sales – No

X – Oakland tax on property sales – No

EE – Union City tax on property sales – No

Contra Costa County

E – Orinda $50 million school bond – Yes

H – Richmond tax on property sales – No

I – Orinda $55 million school bond – No

J – Mt. Diablo school bond – Yes

P – Pittsburg school bond – Yes

V – El Cerrito tax on property sales – No

W – Antioch sales tax – No

X – Martinez sales tax – Yes

Santa Clara County

A – Countywide sales tax extension – Yes

C – Los Altos open space – No

S – San Jose contracting – Yes

T – San Jose infrastructure bond – Yes

U – San Jose council salaries – Yes

V – San Jose housing bond – Yes

ON THIS HARVEST MOON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Marin's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

OCTOBER 7,2018

MY BODY'S A ZOMBIE FOR YOU

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

DRUNK ON THE MOON

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

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

Is this true? Are the birds really drunk?

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

Other experts say it has more to do with migration

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

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

But what about the poor drunk birds in Gilbert?

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

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

LIKE A HURRICANE, THERE'S CALM IN YOUR EYES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

SEPTEMBER 30, 2018

Lord of the Harvest

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

The Giant Zucchini!

ON THIS HARVEST MOON

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

In truth, the mist came down and wetted everything.

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

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

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

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

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

"Hooop-ha! Yaaa!" They shouted.

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

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

And we know Who enjoys Fire as his only friend.

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

SURFIN' BIRD

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

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


I HEARD THE NEWS TODAY, O BOY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

A quoi penses-tu? asked Dame Herrisson.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 16, 2018

LOVE IS JUST A WHISPER AWAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NIGHT MOVES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stolen freedoms, said Denby. Like what stolen freedoms?

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

Uh, sure, Denby said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then the Age of the Moron produced the Great Recession.

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

Age of the Loudmouth.

 

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong that carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 9, 2018

AFTER THE BOYS OF SUMMER HAVE GONE

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

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

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WORKING MAN'S BLUES #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong that carried forth on the winds over White's Hill and Fairfax, ululating through Silvan Acres and the cubbied niches of Lagunitas, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridgetops through the mist to an unknown destination.

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


 

SEPTEMBER 2, 2018

UNDER THE SOUTHERN CROSS

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


THE DIMMING OF THE DAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On a school night, all was peaceful on the Island. No sirens split the air and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

AUGUST 26, 2018

MIMOSA

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

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

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


WHAT'S THE BUZZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That surely will help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O THESE MIST COVERED MOUNTAINS ARE HOME TO ME NOW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

AUGUST 20, 2018

QUEEN OF SOUL

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

PSA

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

The Posey Tube, exiting Alameda, will be closed:

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

The Webster Tube, entering Alameda, will be closed:

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

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

REVIEW OF MARIAH PARKER AT THE THROCKMORTON THEATRE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIS THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER

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

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

The times are parlous.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

AUGUST 12, 2018

THIS ONE GOES OUT TO THE ONE I LOVE

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

SUMMERTIME, WHEN THE LIVING IS EASY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

AUGUST 5, 2018

ALL UNDER THE BURNING SKY

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NIGHTS, WHEN IT IS WARM

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

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

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

You must wait; that is your fate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is something. And not everyone enjoys this discovery.

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

JULY 29, 2018

MAGNOLIA YOU SWEET THING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Need to do something about that.

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

This ignorance of events should not be.

TOO LONG IN THE WASTELAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

JULY 22, 2018

STILL PLAYIN'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 1997 Peter Case BUG Music (BMI)


NEW TIMES NEW TIMES, NEW, NEW, NEW TIMES

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

Okay then. We shall soon address this.


MAGNOLIA YOU SWEET THING

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

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

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

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

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

"And the crew?" asked Mr. Howitzer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We would like a coffee filter cone."

"What is that?" asked the girl innocently.

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

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

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

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

"Well what is all that stuff behind you?"

"Beg pardon?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

JULY 16, 2018

THE FIREWORKS ARE HAILING OVER LITTLE EDEN TONIGHT

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

WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

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

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

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

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

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


I NEVER WANTED TO BE GROWN UP

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property that is now a park, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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

 

 

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