Island Life

Vol. 16 - No. 46Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday October 26, 2014


Current Edition - Year 2014


Welcome to the 16th 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 2012, visit the Archives.


 

The Editor

Denby -Reporter

Sharon -Events

Chad -Coding

Tammy -Fotos

Hilde -Europe


OCTOBER 26, 2014

DON'T LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON ME

This week's photo comes from Gary Branchaud, and is of the estuary at sunset as surfboarders come paddling back two WETA boats at dock.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Finally got around to updating the Stories section which features 12 years of Island-Life characters getting into scrapes, rescuing abandoned children, falling in and out of love, Annual Poodleshoots, The Wee Man turning things topsy turvy while magically changing people's underwear into either bees or spun gold, escaping moose, Denby visiting The Other Side, and folks generally kicking up their heels. "Live" links are in bold with a clipart graphic. We are about halfway, but will be updating each day.

Most Islanders know that Silly Hall has decided to allow a community based discussion about the horrendous rental situation on the Island, which is getting a splash-over from the criminal rents going sky-high all around the Bay. Of course by punting on forming a Council-based task-force to look at the situation here, persons up for reelection avoid any possible blow-back from deep-pocket interests who could easily influence an election for any one or all candidates.

People don't like Unions and they don't like rent control, but sometimes the only way to check the bastards is by enforcing good behavior via statute and collective bargaining. Of course there is one sure fire way to shunt something like rent control aside. The landlords need to put the kibosh on nastiness like the Ellis Act and halt the destructive hikes in rents for both commercial and private housing while all the while sniveling the same excuse, Location, location, location.

Location indeed. We were living here 20-30 years before you newbies arrived here from Texas with your big land plans. So what if a dot commer makes more than you with your properties. You want some impoverished, struggling group of people, six to a room, living from paycheck to paycheck to barely make ends meet living in your apartments?

On the good news front, we hear that the memorial bench in Jackson Park is slated for restoration. Tucker's Ice Cream raised funds via sale of a special flavor of ice cream towards restoration. Parks and Rec. has already cleaned up the debris and repainted the structure built in 1920 for Isabelle Clark as memorial to her late husband George Clark. People wanting to help preserve an Island legacy can send checks to PO Box 1677, Alameda, CA 94501. Payee is Alameda Architectural Preservation Society, and the subject line should specify "Save the Bench". You can also go to www.savethebench.org.

It's getting to the Season of Giving, so while you are in that mode of collecting tax deductions, you can also donate funds to help victims of the arson spree that destroyed businesses and rendered several people homeless. Make checks payable to Alameda Relief Fund, and send to First Community Bank, 2531 Blanding Avenue, Alameda, Ca 94501. Or you can drop a check in person at the branch located within the Nob Hill Store at the Bridgeside Center.

PSA - Elections

We are reminded that the Vote by Mail envelope costs 70 cents for our district. Thanks Bill Withrow for posting that letter to the Editor of the Sun.

Also note, that if you have not completed your VBM ballot, you can drop it off at any polling station -- not just your own precinct. Make sure to sign the back of the envelope or it will not be counted. If you have someone deliver it for you, make sure to sign the top of the back and write the name of the authorized deliverer. The envelope goes into the locked grey ballot box, so make sure this happens before leaving the polling station.

This may be a midterm for most of the country, but do note that for us, we choose the State Governor as well as most of the State Executive offices this time around, and locally we have the mayoral race plus councilmembers, plus our State Assembly rep AND 11th District Congressional Rep -- who in this case happens to be Barbara Lee.

There's no 3rd party distractions here, so in all cases it is a choice between Democrat or Republican. Not so much in Oaktown, where we have high hopes for Kaplan to replace the woman who violently ended the Occupy protest in front of the horrified eyes of the nation.

Among the Props, we have our own Measure I, which is a bond measure for fixing up the schools, that includes a nice provision forbidding funds raised to go to administrator salaries.

Look to October 12th on the reasoning behind our seemingly quirky choices.

PROP 1: Water Bond Attempts to ease the State's water woes by raising $7.5 billion dollars -- We suggest you vote NO because no provision to repair the existing infrastructure, including the badly aging levees. Rewrite it guys, and send it back to vote again.

PROP 2: State budget stabilization account - basically creates a "rainy day" account over time. YES, definitely.

PROP 45: Healthcare Insurance rate changes to be approved by the Insurance Commissioner. NO

PROP 46: Drug testing of doctors combined with increase in negligence fines. Cap rise in malpractice payouts. NO. Should be two separate issues.

PROP 47:This Initiative revises the sentence from felony to misdemeanor for minor drug and property offenses. Provisional YES, unless someone can come up with something better. Would be better if things like gun theft were not in there.

PROP 48: Approves tribal gaming compacts with the North Forth Rancheria of Mono tribes and the Wiyot Tribe. YES, definitely.

MONSTER MASH

We have some pictures of decor from around the Island, where some of us take All Hallow's Eve seriously. Here are a few of the less elaborate ones, indicating sometimes simpler is best.

Spiders are popular this year...

In case you ever wondered whatever happened to Bozo the Clown...

The big spider is back on Grand Street. He has been a regular each Halloween for over a decade.

Such a lovely couple to welcome visitors . . .

Pumpkinhead?

Ewwwwww, gross!

What's with the soccer ball?

IF IT WERE NOT FOR BAD LUCK

So anyway, once again the time came around for the Annual Drawing of Straws. Each year the Editor calls the entire pressroom together for the chance drawing that will determine who must make the dreadful crossing to the Other Side on the last night of El Dias de Los Muertos. There the staffer is charged to consult with the Departed so as to glean news or portent of what is to come in the following year.

This information, is of course, a valuable bit of data for any self-respecting Editor.

The procedure does not vary much from year to year, save in those years some people feel,for some unexplained reason, they do not want to go face to face in conversation with dead people. Then the Editor has to go and ferret these cowards out from wherever they have secreted themselves so as to get the ball rolling, make the show go on, preserve Tradition, and get the job firmly done.

Rachel, the Administrative Assistant cum sandwiches and beer fetcher, carrys around the battered fedora hat with the straws to each staffer wherever they may be. Even Festus, the messenger, is required perforce to take his chances.

"Boss, I am a hamster! How can I talk to people!"

"You talkin' to me?" The Editor said.

"Ahhhh! I should never have let on I can do the human speech; it's always bad for the animal. Look what happened to Mister Ed -- farmed out to a circus dog and pony show at the end of his days. Our lives are nothing but abuse. . .".

"Shut up and sit down and take your straw."

"That's what they said to Mr. Ed."

The one year two people went was the year when the main loser in this bad contest had a broken leg and so Jose had to push Denby's wheelchair literally through the gates of Hell.

How was it, people asked Jose.

"It really, really sucked!" Jose answered. And no more about it would he ever say to anyone. The following year he hit in the toilet stall until somebody came to drag him out, kicking and screaming and crying like a baby.

This year, what with the protracted lack of "Recovery" from the dismal Great Recession, which many claimed had not ceased at all, but only slackened once a President with some intelligence got sent to the White House, people sat around the Pressroom with cups of coffee and ibuprofen and here and there the distinctive blue dots of Valium, resigned to the terrible news, staring with lackluster eyes devoid of hope.

As it so happened the drawing occurred on the night when the big dockwalloper hit the Island, the remnants of a typhoon which had given Japan some trouble a week ago, and so as events unfolded, torrents of rain came down in a howling wind outside and every once in a while the lights flickered as if about to go out entirely. They didn't but it sure added to the atmosphere of doom and gloom that pervaded the place.

As the hat passed around, Rachel stepping with the gracile movements of a dance instructor between the desks, each drew and breathed a sigh of relief as they compared their straw with that of a neighbor, which was the best way to defuse the tension that built until the final straw.

They need not have worried, save for the slim possibility that chance would upset Tradition, for according to Tradition, each and every year, the same man always loses. That man is always Denby, who accepts his fate with sad resignation. After all the straws are drawn and it is clear who must take on the quest, people clap the man on his back, wishing him well with high hysterically relieved voices and the high pitched, forced laughter of people who have been released from a monstrous fate. They all wish him well with sympathies, but mutter under their breath, "My god am I glad it's not me!"

Festus scampers back to his immense Habitot home, a home constructed of hundreds of feet, perhaps thousands, of clear plastic Habitot tubing that snakes around the rooms, up the stairs, loops over itself and joins pathways to pathways with crossconnects and hutch stations, all purchased over the past decade by various staffers who have been adding to this structure every week with more pieces of that famous pet store item to the point that in the Pressroom, it is the people who live and work in an enclosure while all around them Festus and his companions roam with far more freedom in their own home. Some people might claim that the Island-Life offices are not your usual pressrooms.

Jose pops up with a question. "My straw is shorter than all the others, but still not so short as Denby's. What can this mean?"

"O! Glad you reminded me! That means you must be the one to start the Island-Life Contraption for this year's Flyover."

Jose's response was violent and immediate. "Aaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeaaaaahhhhhh!" Then he fell down weeping.

"Now Jose, at least it is not as bad as going to Hell," Denby said.

"Perdido gabachos! Last time I broke both legs my left arm and lost nearly my life!" Jose said.

"Now, now Jose. It's been over four years, almost five, since the last flyover and we are about due for another, given all the things which have changed here. And you have had plenty of time to recover and learn how to walk normally again," said the Editor.

After that, Denby went over to the Old Same Place Bar to take the edge off of things. Somehow the word had gotten out -- in a small town, bad news travels faster than the Special Delivery Postman -- and so they all edged away from him there at the bar, giving him the hairy eyeball and whispering among themselves with awe and fear and perhaps a little respect -- but not too much of that, as respect is hard earned around here. Even the hookers held back and became almost demure in his presence. Almost.

Suzie, who simply could not resist this one time, mixed up a cocktail for him that is called the Corpse Reviver, but she did not tell him the name, only that it was something to help lift the spirits when you feel deadened. By life, of course. By Life.

For those of you who simply must know, we spare the Google search by saying the plain Corpse Reviver cocktail is a cognac-based cocktail, with two parts cognac, one part Calvados or equivalent apple brandy, and one part sweet vermouth. It is a family of cocktails with many variations. At the Old Same Place Bar the habit was to make it neat in a cocktail glass with equal parts gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, Kina Lillet, and a dash or two of absinthe from the local distillery. Suzie paused a moment before dumping a goodly half jigger of absinthe into the mixer.

So when Denby left the bar he was in fine fettle, feeling much better about the world and all his misfortunes. Officer O'Madhauen noticed this, for it was his habit to park kitty-corner from the bar on the small sidestreet, angling both for speeders and for DUI. He set his Crown Vic in gear in hopes that he would observe the man get into a car and attempt to drive, but Denby never had owned a car in his life, well briefly he owned a VW microbus he shared with Sandra, the Hippie, but she left him for a member of the Hells Angels and took the minibus with her only to have the transaxle break at the Tehachapi Divide on a sweltering day in August because she always wanted to paint her nails and snort cocaine rather than allow basic vehicle maintenance get in the way of having fun.

In any case Denby kept on walking unsteadily past several parked cars and clearly had no intention of allowing himself to be pulled over for DUI, so Officer O'Madhauen worked on the pedestrian error possibility of a ticket and so parked his own vehicle to watch for a jaywalking incident, but when it came time to cross, Denby stumbled on up to the crosswalk at Sherman Street, where O'Madhauen hoped for a crossing against the light violation. Denby stood there gazing upward and when the light changed, went ahead and ambled legally across, staring up into the sky.

At the next intersection, near the Forbidden Island bar, Denby paused and remained staring up at the sky. So Officer O'Madhauen set himself quickly into gear and drove up to park his black and white and leaning out the window, hoping for at least an intoxicated in public offense, asked if Denby had been drinking.

"Not a drop," Denby said. "I am a total teetotaler."

This dumbfounded the straightforward O'Madhauen. "I just saw you walk out of a bar. Don't deny it."

"Yes, I was delivering a message. I am a part time delivery boy. That is what I do." Denby paused. "I notice your shirt is not buttoned up all the way. In fact it looks buttoned up a bit askew. Have you taken anything, like painkillers or tranks?"

"I . . . nevermind. It's you walking around staring up at nothing we are concerned about. . . ".

"I was looking to see if there would be any more Super Moon like they have been talking about in the news. There is nothing wrong with that."

"Just do as I say and you won't get hurt," said the Officer.

"So you are going to kill me for jaywalking?"

"So you admit you were jaywalking. Ha!"

"Did you observe me jaywalking? I think I walked with the light. You know you really should fix your shirt buttons. They will not help your case."

"Nevermind all that, get out of your car . . . O for pete's sake skip that, put your hands on the hood and spread 'em!" Officer O'Madhauen said, opening his door and getting out of the cruiser while withdrawing his nightstick as curious onlookers peeped at this show from behind curtains.

"Um, whose hood? You'rs?" Denby began to realize he was in a dangerous situation in America. Do as I say and you will not be hurt, means, this encounter may very well mean that I will die for any imaginary infraction.

A call came in from dispatch that an armed robbery was in progress at the Chuckee Cheese on Webster with a 2921, firearm weapon present.

Officer O'Madhauen responded with "Suspected DUI in custody. Returning to Station."

The radio commanded him to let the DUI go and respond ASAP on code to Webster and provide backup. Meanwhile the led on the dashcam recording his interaction with Denby glowed bright red.

Officer O'Madhauen cursed in language that is typically not used at community pancake breakfasts with the Citizens and let Denby go with the warning, "I am gonna have my eye on you!", before racing off with all sirens blazing in answer to the the more serious call.

"Don't forget to fix your shirt!" Denby shouted.

Then came the eerie ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds under the gaze of the haunted moon to parts unknown.

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

 

OCTOBER 19, 2014

SPIDER WEB

This week's headline photo comes courtesy of Island-Lifer Tammy, who works during the day for one of the local Realtor companies (just so you all know we are not down on ALL Realtors and property management folks -- just the jerkoffs)

Any case she took this shot beside the door of a property as it was being shown.

Both Joan Osborne and Gwen Stefani have songs entitled Spider Web, BTW.

SAN FRANCISCO BAY BLUES

Before we get around to talking locally, lets pay homage to a true Bay Area Icon that is no more. By now most of you know the Bay Guardian abruptly ceased publication this Tuesday. In some far corners you could still find Vol. 49, No.3, October 15-21, which is the Best of the Bay issue, 40th iteration of that topic.

The 48-year-old newspaper had been on life support since founders and spouses Bruce Brugmann and Jean Dibble sold it to the San Francisco Media Co. in 2012. Like at just about every other print outlet around the country, revenue had fallen.

Many pundits had much to say about why and how the progressive media leader had closed its doors, but the truth can be summed up in the phrase, "The times they are a'changing."

For nearly half a century the free weekly paper led the fight for progressive ideals as well as free speech -- through its support of Project Censored -- but as technology allowed a drive toward instant news and any sort of writing available also for free via mobile devices, readership declined via attrition of the highly partisan Baby Boomers. The younger kids tend not to pickup a newspapers or magazines -- another media form heading for Tombstone Hill.

The sale of the paper to a corporate entity also hurt the paper's image.

For all that decline, there was little warning for the abrupt shutdown. According to SF Gate, "The end came in a hurry. Even before the public announcement was made, the newspaper’s website and Facebook page were shut down.

“We were told at 10 a.m. (Tuesday) that this issue would be our last. They shut down everything — our sites, our social media, our passkeys, right away,” said Steven T. Jones, the paper’s editor. “We’ve all been laid off, effective immediately. ... I need an escort to go to the bathroom and get back to the office to pack up my stuff.”

The decision was made by San Francisco Media Co., the parent company that bought it in 2012 from its founder, Bruce Brugmann. “It is the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my 20-year newspaper career,” the San Francisco Media Co.’s publisher, Glenn Zuehls, said in a statement.

Will Oremus, Technology Editor for Slate, a magazine with close affiliation to the former archrival SF Weekly, hinted in the changing nature of San Francisco itself as a main cause.

"Over the decades, though, the Guardian as an institution had come to stand for something more than just convenient concert listings, seamy classified ads, and snarky coverage of the local political scene. It was an embodiment of a certain vision of the city—a vision of San Francisco as a haven for artists, immigrants, eccentrics, hobos, bohos, gays and lesbians, and any extant members of that perennially endangered species, the local working-class family.

Today, as the city’s booming technology industry drives housing prices beyond the means of even the upper-middle class, that vision has begun to take on a sepia tone."

Oremus did conclude his article on a somewhat optimistic, if also somewhat wistful note.

"The saddest thing about the Guardian’s downfall is that the paper has faded from relevance at a time in San Francisco’s history when the high-flying tech sector is threatening to engulf everything about it that the Guardian and its loyal readers held dear. There is a backlash transpiring in the streets, on blogs, and in magazines. For once, the Guardian is not leading the charge."

According to Wickipedia, "The Bay Guardian was known for reporting, celebrating, and promoting left-wing and progressive issues within San Francisco and around the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole. This usually included muckraking, legislation to control and limit gentrification, and endorsement of political candidates and other laws and policies that fall within its political views. It also printed movie and music reviews, an annual nude beaches issue, and an annual sex issue."

NEW TIMES! NEW TIMES! NEW NEW NEW TIMES!

Closer to home, please note that AMP is seeking comment during a Town Hall Meeting whose date has changed from October 21 to November 6 at the Free Library in the Regina Stafford Room.

Also note that radio station "The Bone" 107.7 will hold a Monster's Ball aboard the Hornet October 25th. Tix are $30 for General Admission. Call 521-8448, ext. 282 or visit www.hornetevents.com

Here's a tip for those of you who dislike those roving scavengers entering your property to rifle the recycle bin: crushed cans, broken glass and crushed plastic bottles are just as useful to the professional waste management people, but the folks pushing stolen shopping carts will be turned away if they bring material in crushed condition.

ELECTIONS are coming up and we are filtering information so its not such a deluge. We covered Candidates and State Props last week. Here is what the League of Women Voters has to say about City Proposition I:

Measure I (the AUSD bond measure)
League of Women Voters of Alameda Votes to Support Measure I, AUSD Bond Measure to Upgrade Public School Facilities

(September 25, 2014, Alameda, CA) The League of Women Voters® of Alameda (LWVA) voted to support Measure I, the $179.5 million Alameda Local School Improvement Bond Measure, at its September 18, 2014, board meeting. The $179.5 million Alameda Unified School District bond issue is on the November 4 ballot.

Measure I will fund the specific new school facilities and upgrades throughout the Alameda Unified School District included in the district's Facilities Master Plan and Implementation Plan B. Measure I needs a 55% majority to pass, and includes requirements for citizen oversight and annual audits. (Bond funds cannot be used to pay for previous bonds or administrative salaries.)

For more information, read the press release or contact:

Kate Quick, LWVA Co-president
(510-523-3612; katequick@comcast.net)
Karen Butter, LWVA Action Co-chair
(510-846-0457; karenbutter@comcast.net)

You do know that tickets for Billy Idol at the Fox on February 15 went on sale Friday, don't you? Well you might not know that tickets for Richard Shindell at the Freight and Salvage Sunday November 16th went on sale. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Shindell lives in South America these days, and tends to make only rare trips to the West Coast, generally preferring his New Jersey birthplace for stateside concerts.

He does not play fancy, ornate guitar, but backs some of the best lyrics in the business with basic major chords. He never has been as flamboyant or controversial as Bob Dylan, but his work definitely ranks up there beside the Masters and CGP's in terms of complexity and social commitment. His bitter song about the breakup from hell, "Are You Happy Now" is probably the best Halloween-based tune out there.

TROUBLE IN MIND

So anyway, we enter the season when weird, unexplained stuff starts to happen. People who live in New York or Chicago or San Francisco see tiered people doing unexplainable things all the time, so they get jaded. In a small town like the Island, strange behavior stands out. Even reasonable behavior stands out to some people who have rigorous opinions.

Squirrels continue to go mad in the mornings

Meanwhile the Natural world continues about its business. The Canadian Geese have arrived, en route to Rio, leaving a squadron to remain here, for here is far enough. Hummingbirds take the last sips of what they can find from trumpet vine flowers and the bird-of-paradise fans out for one last brilliant orange and red hurrah before everything goes gloomy and gray. Squirrels continue to go mad in the mornings, like officeworkers who have taken in too much strong coffee -- chattering and digging frantic holes where nothing special resides. The raccoons trundle along the leaning pine up into the branches and the opossum scurries for things to store up, even though it is likely to be a dry winter here and all along Santa Clara the oaks turn burnt sienna, more out of duty and tradition than in response to any real change in temperature.

In the night, all around us in our sleep, "sorcery is burrowing its invisible tunnels in every direction, from thousands of senders to thousands of unsuspecting recipients. Spells are being cast, poison is running its course; souls are being dispossessed of parasitic pseudo consciousness that lurk in the unguarded recesses of the mind."

Most folks spent their days assembling extraordinary house and lawn displays for upcoming Halloween or madly stitching those costumes for the annual Fright Ball benefit held by the Native Sons of the Golden West which was held in their "parlor", the old hall down by the Marina.

a dead and rotting Ronald Reagan

Besides the usual feral female cats, a schooner's worth of pirates and assorted space aliens, the hall overflowed with a Mr. Hanky (that was Chris Lindberg, who held a devotion to the South Park television show), the Almeida family dressed as a bag of marshmallows, the Island-life Editor come as a dead and rotting Ronald Reagan, several members of Congress dripping with blood and looking a bit vampirish, four President Assads, a baker's dozen of hastily done DAESH fighter-thugs carrying scimitars, a plethora of medical workers in ebola hazmat suits, which made for drinking the punch through the respirator masks a dicey proposition, and at least one premature, but hopeful, Xmas present.

Tommy, dressed as a hamster and Toby, dressed as an elderberry bush got into an argument that started over the upcoming Midterm Elections. Toby had been pro-Teaparty and Tommy had been virulently for wholesale health care reform. Toby, a converted Log Cabin Republican since he had met Tommy, slammed down a pan of flan, which did not help the settling of that delicacy in the slightest.

"How can you possibly hold such a silly opinion! You are as silly as a ninny!" Toby said, which was quite hurtful. This segued into a heated discussion about Toby's relatives, who did not approve of Tommy, nor their "lifestyle."

"That's where you get your finicky, finicky, finicky sort of attitude about toothpaste! You are just like Uncle Albert!"

"Oh you think you are so . . . so neat! Well you!"

Lynette, dressed as a chimney sweep sat there nursing an unaccustomed Manhattan on the comfy chair while a hamster in the kitchen shouted at a weeping berry bush. She had gotten into a snit with Susan over Proposition 47(Sentence Reduction for minor drug offenses: Lynette for, Susan against because her brother had died of an heroin overdose).

He had gotten into a tiff with Mr. Hanky, the Xmas Poo

In an evening which had begun acrimoniously, and which showed signs of descending into atavistic savagery, Claude, visiting from New Mexico, managed to intake quite a bit of punch which somehow got him into the mood to breakdance, but all he could do was spin around on his back on the floor. He had gotten into a tiff with Mr. Hanky, the Xmas Poo a little earlier over a fight bet made well over forty years ago at The Embers in the City, and certain unpleasant memories had stirred up. Inside the large tootsie roll costume was Steve.

Clebia did not need to wear a costume

The two had been married to the same woman, although at different times, and now the woman was with neither man. When an otherwise distinguished professor of physics in his seventies dressed as a cockroach begins spinning around on his back in the livingroom, weeping all the while it makes for an ugly sight and Shanti, wearing an appropriate Arkin Pest Control outfit which looked rather fetching, began shouting at him while the Xmas Poo began knocking back these potent Brazilian cocktails made by Clebia, who actually comes from Brazil. Clebia did not need to wear a costume -- she wore what came naturally to any artistically-inclined woman from Brazil in a scheme of long flowing orange so that she resembled a tasty pumpkin. She, owning a B&B in the City, had opinions about the business tax that no one agreed with, but because she was well-bred and of fine character, she held aloof from the arguments.

The lovely Susanne, dressed like a figure from a Leonard Cohen song, observed the contention and found Occasional Quentin to engage in deep conversation, largely because he seemed like an harmless idiot -- which, in fact, he is -- and so they actually had a meaningful discussion about animal nature which touched upon ptarmigans, deer and hummingbirds. It was a kind of an oasis of sanity in that place rife with politics.

The health care debate drew in Doyle, dressed as a talus mountainside, Leonard, dressed as a dead distinguished author, Suan dressed in her stripper's outfit from the Crazy Horse, and Molly, who had come as a jungle cat. Although four people discussed the issues, they somehow came up with five different opinions, and this resulted in a fair amount of shouting and arm waving.

Rachel, from the Offices and dressed as a player for the Giant's began whacking Denby with her plastic baseball bat.

"Hey!" Denby said. "I'm apolitical!"

"I know, but this is fun!" She kept hitting him over the head until Karen ran up and tackled her and the three of them went down in a heap that toppled Carol coming in from the kitchen.

"Hey! The canapés!"

The canapés went flying all over which much pleased Bonkers, Godzilla and Fruitbat who ran about gobbling up the olives with all their tails wagging, save for Fruitbat, who is a cat that sometimes possesses decorum exceeding those of his captive humans.

Helen, dressed as a Sans Culottes revolutionary tripped over Fruitbat's leash and crashed into everybody just as they were getting up.

So of course they all went down again in a pile.

A thud reverberated as Nancy, dressed as Scottish castle lost her footing on the olives and cream cheese. "Ow!" She said. "This all comes from liberals and their lack of discipline!"

"For some reason this reminds me of Beckett," Denby said.

"Idiot!" Rachel said with energy. "Shut up!"

Marlene appeared among them, dressed as a zombie and pleaded, "Please, for goodness sake and goodness sake and goodness sake, stop your infernal bickering and enjoy yourselves! Maureen has gone to all this trouble to make this food for us and Greg and Stacy, the newlyweds."

Andre, her bedmate, also costumed as a zombie, tugged on his lip piercings.

There was a brief pause before someone asked Marlene about the change to the vote requirement to pass the annual budget and she unwisely deferred a response. This resulted in a fresh round of arguing and bickering and breaking of glass.

This of course got our pair of punks in a dither, and so two zombies started shouting "eff you!" at each other with ratcheting enthusiasm, but since they always said that to each other, few paid any attention in the general disarray.

Things really began to decay with long-term hatreds and grudges coming up. "I should have left you in the ditch," Graham, dressed as a 17th Century British Aristocrat with a walking cane, shouted down at Claude, who paused in his spinning.

"What? You mean in 1969? And left little David in the back!" Claude said, quite hurt.

Little David, now forty-something man with a family of his own, stood there in his sailor suit and began singing the lyrics to a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and adding little gracenote lyrics of his own. Oom-papa oom-papa. . .

Graham's wife, dressed as Marie Antoinette, reminded him that it was he, Graham, who had supplied the Purple Windowpane to Claude that day.

Quentin, trying to be nice, managed to resurrect an half dozen painful memories and insult Graham six times until the poor man started to weep until he joined the Poo in tossing down several stiff ones in succession. Laurie, dressed as a bodybuilder, offered to break Quentin's arms. "He's an idiot," blubbered Graham. This made Quentin start to cry and Susanne threw her arms up in exasperation.

"Oom-papa, Oom-papa", went David, trying to get his dad to collect himself.

O the air was heavy with History and Politics and family dynamics.

The door was open and a girl, about eight or nine walked in. She was barefoot and wearing what looked like an old-fashioned nightgown with a Peter Pan collar and her dark eyes were very large. The time had just passed midnight.

The girl walked up to Lynette through the crowd and stood in front of the woman. This is what she said.

"Please tell them to stop. I can't rest. Please. It hurts."

An odd chill filled the room

Well, of course. Late hour. Neighbors and all. It was a wonder no one had called the cops. Poor child, trying to sleep. Seeing this situation, Susan walked over to stand there and block any more cockroach gyrations and Claude came abruptly to a halt with his eyes staring wildly up at the ceiling. Susan told Shanti to be quiet while Lynette went into the kitchen to intervene between the hamster and the elderberry bush. An odd chill filled the room as a sense of shame filled all of them. Keeping this girl awake with their arguing about nothing, about silliness.

The little girl looked somehow familiar, with her dark hair tumbling down in sleepy curls, as if she evoked something seen on a poster or the side of milk carton. She stood there, holding the most serious expression on her face, then turned and walked out of the door, down the steps and over the breakwater down to the beach with the full moon lighting everything up quite clearly.

"Good god! She's going in!" Someone shouted.

With the terrible events of the Memorial Day Raymond Zack drowning still on everyone's minds those who could ran down to the beach. Officer O'Madhauen had stripped to his skivvies and gotten up to his knees in the water before he halted, brought up short by the sight.

There, the little girl kept on going out over the mudflats exposed by the low tide, then over the top of the gentle swells, and glimmering faintly as if lit within by a candle, continued to walk on the surface of the water out into the middle of the Bay and there vanished as all of them stood there, watching.

"Effing A!" said Andre. Everyone else was as quiet as the grave.

At the Sanchez's, the former Ms. Morales and Mr. Sanchez were gathering up everything after a night of door-knocks and trick-or-treats, for their house was known as a "safe house" as Ms. Morales was still a schoolteacher at Longfellow. The procession of goblins, ghosts, witches, pirates, hoboes and Cindarellas had dwindled down to the occasional teen who would show up with a bag and hardly any costume, gone too old to seriously take costume seriously and not gotten old enough to appreciate it for the fantasy. Mr. Sanchez handled those cases with a stern talking-to and the teens left chastened to go forward with the necessary rituals of teenage activity in America.

Mr. Sanchez had bought the house from the executors of the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Strife, the same parents who had produced Pimenta Strife, who even now was recovering from the effects of too much nitrous inhaled at the Exotic Erotic Ball in the City.

It should be hardly no surprise how Pimenta turned out, for her parents spent much of their waking hours justifying their family name. Sarah Strife had been a Blue Dog Democrat and her husband, Sam Strife had been a rock-rib Republican who made Eisenhower look liberal. Where she was fiercely jealous, he was fiercely possessive. There's was not a marriage made in Heaven or Hell so much as the Plain of Discord.

he came back from Korea with a fire in his loins

If he was hot, wanting the windows open, she wanted them closed on account of her thyroid. If she wanted ornate French furniture, he wanted Amish simplicity. If she was Lutheran, he was Catholic. She was analog; he was digital. Both rebelled against their upbringing to arrive in opposite directions and cross-purposes. No one could ever figure out how the two had ever gotten together in the first place. Truth was, he came back from Korea with a fire in his loins and a mindset about that for which people and women were intended and he definitely made a distinction between the two.

She, for her part, had delved into the Beats, had absorbed the latest thought by the Feminists and had come to the conclusion that the way to resolve the Male Problem was to seize the bull by its horns, so to speak. Extremely metaphorically.

So, some three months pregnant, she had married him -- as there were few practical options in the 1950's on the Island, which always remained a decade or more behind the rest of the country -- and so they found themselves with the one factor in common of guilt, for Guilt is the one thing that Catholics and Lutherans and Jews all share. Possibly Moslems as well, which would be indicative of how we all are, really, in relation to one another.

So they had this child, a squalling brat who did not improve from that position, who became a Troubled Teen, then Juvie Hall Bad Company, then a perfect nymphomaniac punk living in the City until the City got too limiting by way of its high rents and narrowing attitudes and she returned, an ugly duckling with tattoos to the Island. For the Island provides a kind of refuge for lost birds. Canadian geese that never made it to Rio because they didn't have that much strength. Ducks from Audabon refuge at Lake Merritt gotten a little confused. Hummingbirds, which never need explanation. Seagulls escaping offshore storms.

Then there was the affair Mr. Strife had with Sarah, the dance teacher from the Metronome. When that came out, there was no end to the argument and accusation.

Mr. Strife died one day while out in his garage tinkering with a Morris Minor -- he really had been quite a retentive personality and trying to maintain a Morris Minor was quite within his character. He came out to bark at someone parking across the markings on the asphalt there (taking two parking spaces, he called it) and fell down, quite dead from an heart attack.

Mrs. Strife died about a week later, just after all the flowers and the greetings and the well-wishes had been cleared from the piano in the foyer. The piano had never been employed for music, but had been purchased because Mrs. Strife had felt some kind of musical instrument should be in the house and that a piano was the most sedentary, conservative and established of musical furniture. And besides, it really pissed off Mr. Strife, who would have preferred something practical like a coping saw.

Now, every time there is a full moon, or a high tide, or unusual weather, Mr. Sanchez and the former Ms. Morales can hear these footsteps up above, angry murmurs in the hallway, doors slamming, and this eternal bickering, this sniping and carping and accusation which likely will pursue the former couple down through eternity for that appears to be their fate.

While outside, unplugging the inflatable spider, Ms. Morales looks up and can see the shadow figures of two people shouting at one another and these figures are standing in her own bedroom with the lamplight on, their shadows gesticulating on the curtains.

"Strife people, go away. In the name of god, please go to sleep. This is no longer your place now. Please let us be and go to where you need to go. Leave us in peace."

Suddenly, just like that, the lights went out and all was quiet. But she knew this simple exorcism would not be enough and they would be back again.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds under the gaze of the haunted moon to parts unknown.

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

 

OCTOBER 12, 2014

MY BLAKEAN YEAR

This week the headline photo comes from the gal who staffs the Social Events Desk, Sharon, and is of one of the Power boxes which has been used as a canvas by artists commissioned by the Island power utility (AMP).

We're not sure what it means, but we like it.

Here is another one, located behind the BofA parking lot off Santa Clara

THIS ISLAND LIFE

In one of the weirder front page items in the Sun this week, we noted that the family of the man shot and killed by an off-duty sheriff while attempting an armed robbery at the Bonfare Market on High Street is suing for wrongful death. On July 18, 2013 Leroy Brown and Marc Traylor entered the market, wearing masks and with guns drawn, The off-duty officer, reading a magazine at the time shot both men, killing Brown and wounding Traylor who fled. Traylor was apprehended after going to the hospital for treatment of his wounds.

Now we know that the cops have been overeager to resort to deadly force in some places, but this lawsuit would take the cake for laughability had not somebody died acting violently stupid.

Halloween is coming up, so book your gigs now. Extra Action Marching Band will be at the New Parish on San Pablo to help get through that night with a bit of horns and a lot of horniness.

Remember the Gin Blossoms? They are still around and will be doing Yoshi's East on Thursday.

Ray Lamontagne is coming to the Fox on Tuesday to explain how he was saved by a "Kind Woman".

We heard Four Year Bender is going to be coming to a venue around here. We strongly suggest checking them out, as these guys put on a party so fun that when you wake up you will have no idea in whose house you left your pants.

Okay, the midterm elections are up for grabs. Looking at the candidates and how polarized we all are, making recommendations seems pretty fruitless. Both Richmond and the Island will be looking to select Mayors. The races for Assembly and for Congress pretty much come down to either Democrat or Republican without a lot of contention. People would be foolish not to vote Barbara Lee back in for the 13th District, which is pretty much all we have to say about it save that Ms. Lee appears to be capable, attentive, and feisty enough for the job along with possessing boatloads of integrity.

Rob Bonta is using his Council position here as a lilypad for Assembly, which feels a bit like relentless careerism, but then you don't want a milquetoast in Sacramento being mauled by those savages. It seems pretty clear from past campaigns that the Party has its eye on him and he is being groomed for something. If that is what you want, then okay. He could not be any worse than that fellow who styled his manner a la Tony Soprano and who left office during the last elections. You know who we are talking about.

The EBX is all about Oaktown, but they ran a special piece on our Island, focussing on the development issues that will chart the course of the Island for the next half century. The EBX is correct in the assumption that pro or anti development sentiment "likely will determine the outcome of the election." (East Bay Express, October 8-14, 2014, page 14, It's all about the Point, by Steven Tavares)

Starting right off, we have our incumbent, Marie Gilmore strongly backing the development of the Point, while her opponent, Trish Spencer "adamantly opposes the proposed large development" which will feature more than 1,400 new homes.

Stewart Chen and Jim Oddie both support the Mayor's position, whereas former Councilmember, Frank Matarrese has revised his position and is now against the current proposal.

Just about all the candidates are waffling on the rent control thing, probably realizing the anger about the obscene rent situation is not yet enough to counteract the dollars held by more affluent property owners.

In propositions, we note that the city measure that dealt with the McKay Avenue fiasco does not appear, probably because of the Council's short-circuit of that process by levering a lawsuit against the GSA.

PROP 1: Water Bond - this was recently added while Prop 43 was removed. This one attempts to resolve the Golden State's water woes by raising $7.5 billion dollars -- we can hear the Tea Partiers gnashing there teeth over the sound of that one! But seriously, $2.7 billion of the money looks to be earmarked for "water storage", which means humongeous dams. Well, this sounds pretty much like an expensive kick the can down the road. We need more complex solutions to a number of problems that are all causing the water issues exacerbated by the current drought. We suggest you vote NO.

PROP 2: State budget stabilization account - basically creates a "rainy day" account over time. There is some claim that this will reduce reserves funding for schools. Various versions of this one have cropped up in past elections, but most of them were written by strident Tea Bagger types, and included all sorts of cumbersome limits under the guise of "fiscal responsibility." This one feel more like common sense. Bay Guardian says YES and so do we.

PROP 45: Healthcare Insurance rate changes to be approved by the Insurance Commissioner. This one is odd, as rates must now be approved by a newly created independent commission which has not had time yet to demonstrate any inadequacy. The Insurance Commissioner is an elected executive office position in California. The current position is held by Democrat Dave Jones. Nevertheless we see that the parties in favor include Consumer Watchdog and the California Nurses Association. This one bears looking into deeper but we give it a tentative YES, largely because it also requires public disclosure and hearings on rate changes.

PROP 46: Drug testing of doctors combined with increase in negligence fines. This is another one of those things that has a seemingly good idea combined with a questionable one, albeit probably not that bad for the average person as it stands. Nobody should seriously be against drug testing for physicians -- we thought that was already common practice. Raising the cap on medical malpractice from 250,000 to $1.1 million probably IS driven by lawyer greed -- all doctors must now carry liability insurance in excess of one million, so the payout is not likely to be slow if set by a judge, and it is unlikely that doctors will leave due to higher premiums as they pay it already. What might happen is a stiffer opposition on the part of organizational entities to shooting for a bargained arrangement or just writing the check to avoid the costs of litigation. We would have to say NO on this one. The two items need to be broken apart and voted on separately. The Bay Guardian says stop hating on doctors, for pete's sake. Has this really ever been a problem?

PROP 47:This Initiative revises the sentence from felony to misdemeanor for minor drug and property offenses. Does not apply to individuals with priors or to registered sex offenders. Given that Governor Brown, who is likely to be reelected, stated a while ago that a goal was to reduced the prison population, we think this is one relatively safe way to cut down the numbers given that nothing will be perfect. The Initiative is stated by the State Controller to have a likely savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The State Police Chiefs Assoc. does not like the liberation of 10,000 felons with understandable concern, however you just cannot put everybody in prison you distrust. We say YES.

PROP 48: This one approves tribal gaming compacts with the North Forth Rancheria of Mono tribes and the Wiyot Tribe. Con arguments worry that a plethora of casinos will appear right in your backyard next to your church. Seems paranoid. We say vote YES. This mostly affects Madura County and environs anyway, where there is plenty of room to plop another casino without problems and will create thousands of jobs in that area of California which really could use the work.


SEASON OF THE WITCH

So anyway, the weather is getting finally into the schizo realm of what used to be called "Indian Summer", but which latterly features 80 degrees alternating with cool overcast nights and mornings. Meanwhile we had one of the last Supermoons visit us Wednesday around 4 AM. This full moon was accompanied by an eclipse, caused by the shadow of the earth somewhat blocking the light of the sun and causing a blood-red appearance.

Few persons are awake at that hour. Mothers with newborns. IT personnel tending the quietly humming machines. Fishermen. Some construction workers and factory employees. And devotees of Wicca, who always get up or stay up for such momentous events, as only they seem to appreciate the large quality of what goes on.

Pedro was motoring out to the lanes when the moon quietly shifted to red and he stilled the engines and paused to gaze up at the apparition the moon had become. Ferryboat, learning the ropes and adapting to the sea as a new seadog sat there, awaiting instruction on the placid swell. The sea all around the boat dimmed and took on a strange magenta cast during the eclipse. Strange birds from Africa took refuge in the rigging. Sailfish leapt from the water and glided for yards before diving down again.

The radio preacher said that Pastor Liz had taken up lodging down by the lake, which meant she had given up her bizarre foray into the Byzantine and had returned home to her people. Home to the place where she had always belonged.

And it was odd hearing this homey declaration while something so strange and beautiful was happening in the world.

Officer O'Madhauen, parked down by the old brick DelMonte cannery building, soon to be rehabbed into fancy apartments for people who make more money than you and I, observed with his Styrofoam coffee in hand the moon rise and change color with his mouth open the entire time, agape and wondering, especially as no traffic headed down that road at all. For in fact, all the scofflaws and red-light runners had drifted their engines to the side at that hour to watch the Supermoon go through its changes.

The moon is a powerful influence upon our lives and the Moon Goddess has always, down through the ages, always been someone with which you do not want to trifle. Toni Savage gathered with her coven down by Crab Cove at the usual meeting spot and there many spells were cast and much disputation was put to test, until, ultimately, at the appointed hour there they stood, all in a circle with their candles and their robes while the moon rose majestically, owning all of this frippery and pretense and the members of the coven stood in awe, each bathed in a blood-red hue. For this we worship and do what we do.

When the moon began to change, Fey almost ruined the mood by running to get her camera, while Susan tried to take pictures with her iPhone.

O, for pete's sake, said Toni, when the flash went off. Put that thing away. It's koyanniskaatsi!

Davidka, head sorceress, got everyone into a circle and had them Om the moon, Om being the universal sound of harmony.

Down by Lincoln Park the Man from Minot was taking a walk back from the Old Same Place Bar when he encountered Pimenta Strife dressed in a robe and they paused together to observe the lunar changes. At one point Pimenta dropped her robe, revealing that she was naked underneath. The Man from Minot had to say afterwards that what resulted was one of the best nights of his life.

Senor Erizo was observing the moon, as was his wont, when his den mate emerged to also watch the events unfold.

"Alors! La lune est rouge et tres belle ce soir! she said.

"Sí, ella es hermosa," said the Don.

As was their habit, Don Guadalupe Erizo spoke in his native Spanish and Madame Herisson spoke in French. As the wise man knows, these creatures understand all the languages of the world, but seldom speak to humans for fear of being misunderstood. And of course the wise man also knows that men and women always seem to speak entirely different languages at one another.

"Elle doit être grande pour être un philosophe et contempler la beauté du monde." (It must be grand to be a philosopher and contemplate the beauty of the world.) she said.

"Miro la luna y las estrellas", he said. (I look at the moon and the stars).

"C'est merveilleux tout de même. Tu regarderas, la nuit, les étoiles.." (It is wonderful all the same. To observe the night, the stars)

"No es nada especial. Todas las personas tienen las estrellas", the Don said simply. (It is nothing special. Everyone has the stars.)

"Les gens ont des étoiles qui ne sont pas les mêmes." she said. (All people have the stars, but it's not the same for everyone.)Then she continued, "Pour les uns, qui voyagent, les étoiles sont des guides. Pour d’autres elles ne sont rien que de petites lumières. Pour d’autres qui sont savants elles sont des problèmes. Pour la businessman elles étaient de l’or. Mais toutes ces étoiles-là elles se taisent. Toi, tu ont des étoiles comme personne n’en...".

"Ah, Ah , mon cher , mon bien-aimé," said the Don, quite out of character. "Je crois que tu est le Philosophe ici." (I believe you are the philosopher here.)

"Ah!" (O!) and she blushed as much as any self-possessed hedghog can. Then she snuggled up to the Don, who permitted this rare affection, because this blood moon was a rare event indeed.

Marlene awoke as the moon's radiance limned her window, Andre slumbering deep beside her. She stroked his forehead, knowing the pain he had gone through with his abusive father and his drug-addled mother. Marlene suffered from insomnia -- indeed from what she had suffered herself, she sometimes feared to slide back into the repetitious world of nightmares -- and so she watched the lunar changes begin. As the moon hung full and swollen at the main stage of the eclipse, she whispered, "Will we ever be happy again?" And then the moon glided quietly through the hours back again to its bright, shining face. Then, the girl lay back down and slept without dreams, or dreams of walking through meadows thronging with hummingbirds.

Over at Mr. Howitzer's, the landowner threw a moon party, but everyone got so drunk on the gin rickeys tossed up by Dodd that they all fell fast asleep, including Mr. Howitzer, who snored loudly in his reclining easy chair, leaving Dodd to pick up trash and clean the place of upchuck before driving home to see the moon turn blood red through his car windows down by the Strand. He pulled over and watched the whole thing, standing and leaning against his battered 1977 Volvo, feeling the Bay breeze waft over the shallows and tousel the hair he had left to him. He got back into his car, saying to the moon, "Well done. Quite right," and then drove home to the missus and his warm bed.

Musicians -- and artists in general -- keep different hours than the rest of humanity, so that is why Denby puttered around, up and about, doing the odd chore while dressed in his underwear and wearing his newsboy cap so as to govern his unruly head of hair. He was cleaning the tub when a splash got on him which made him take off the undershorts.

The bathroom faced southeast and so when the moon began to change, a strange color filled the window. Denby turned off the light to see it was much brighter outside, so he stepped out of the bathroom and out onto the third floor landing to observe the moon going through something interesting. He heard a click behind him and discovered that the door had closed and locked behind him and so there he was on the third floor above the street. Figuring he might be able to scoot along at this hour the second floor and then up the stairs undetected to his apartment, which he was sure he had left unlocked, he descended to find the second floor fire-escape also closed and locked. It was never closed and locked, especially during the recent heat wave. Someone always propped it open with a brick, but there the brick lay, somnolent and innocent on the landing right in front of the locked door.

O yes, there had been burgluries in the neighborhood recently. Hot prowls resulting in terrible things being done to elderly people. So someone had closed and locked the door and there Denby stood, stark naked save for flip-flops and a hat.

He heard a sound coming down the alley -- It was Linda Wooten, an RN coming off shift from Highland Hospital, returning home.

"Uh, ma'am excuse me, but uh . . .".

The girl started in fear and looked up.

"Um do you have like a bobby pin? I am locked out."

The girl looked down and then looked back up again at Denby, who was holding the footmat in front of him. It was a small footmat.

"Well, um, I have a lab coat and some paperclips," said Linda. "I think the lab coat would be a good idea."

She balled up the coat and threw it up as high as she could. It opened and fluttered down to the first landing, so Denby descended with many apologies, carrying the footmat. He retrieved the coat and the paperclips with many thanks.

"No problem," said Linda. "By the way, nice hat."

Denby thanked her again.

"You can keep the coat." Linda said. And she walked on down the alley, her heels clacking upon the stones.

Denby found someone had placed a key under the first floor landing footmat, which got him in and he hung the lab coat by the door, wondering how on earth in what manner would he ever be able to return it.

And so the night passed quietly into morning, drifting on a sea of peace and wonder and no one got shot and no one got stabbed.

Then came the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds under the gaze of the Supermoon to parts unknown.

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

 

OCTOBER 5, 2014

YEAR OF THE CAT

October has arrived and with it the onset of our favorite holiday. Here an early installation of some seasonal decor found on a side street near Park.

Well, maybe he looks more impressive at night. . . .

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Lots of events took place all around the Bay this weekend as we wilted collectively under a late year heat wave. Temps along the coast spiked into the 90's while inland saw triple digit lunatic weather.

Oaktoberfest took place in the Dimond District of Oaktown on Saturday. There was food, live music, and of course, barrels of craft brewery suds. Music kicked off, of course, with the tuba-infused oompah Bavarian stuff but Pete Escovedo's Latin Ensemble reminded everyone why the Deutschen have this sensucht nach 'm Suden -- the yearning for southern passion.

Another beer event took place down in San Leandro where the music ranged from punk to afro-world beats.

Over in Babylon, at the newly named Hellman meadows, the HSBF took place with the usual suspects. Steve Earle appeared with his son on stage, making it a true family event. Local boys Chris Isaak and Peter Rowan showed up. Didn't read the program in detail, so we missed Chris Smither, who generally puts on a thoroughly engaging performance.

Once again, the seemingly ageless Emmylou Harris wound things up on the Banjo Stage, although a couple acts came on close to dark around 6pm, apparently to ease the congestion cause by half a million people leaving the park at once.

Adding to the jollies we had First Fridays, which the City and the Art Galleries are trying to tone down from the raucous circus it became. PHOTO, however, remained stalwart in hosting its Open Portfolio Night, showcasing Mitsu Yoshikawa, Yelena Zhavoronkova and Christine Federici on Friday. SLATE has shifted its events to the middle of the month (3rd Thursdays).

On the Island we have Autobody, renamed from its renaming to Popups back to the original name, introducing new work by Jamie Banes and Silive Lukacova.

The controversial, and feisty, Lorde kicked off the weekend here at the Fox on Friday night. Coming to the Fox October 14th the New Orleans gent Ray Lamontagne (Kind Woman) should bring some stylish bluesy stuff worth checking out.

Yoshi's on the warmer side of the Bay will host Roy Rogers with the DRK October 12, which is not a bad way to spend a Sunday evening. Sadly, no Norton Buffalo, who passed away last year due to cancer. Leon Russell follows up on the 21st at the same venue.

Not too early to line up your NYE gig. Flaming Lips, always a bit over the top, are celebrating not one, but two nights of NYE at the Warfield.

In the absence of Jerry, the space at Bill Graham Civic will be given over to one of those canned music rave things. Maybe they may have some live stuff. The night is billed thematically as Sea of Dreams.

Also copping to the ecstasy crowd that is into light shows with "beats" will be the Oracle Arena.

There will be a full lunar eclipse on Wednesday night, visible to stateside folks as a "Blood Moon". Since this is the year of Supermoons, the effect should be dramatic. Cloudless days and nights are forecast for this week.

WAITING ON A TRAIN

So anyway, now comes the season when frightful things stalk the public byways. Things like hideous ghouls, zombies, bloodsucking vampires, Frankensteins and golems. That's right, its Election Time again!

The midterm pamphlets have been sent out by ROV and here in California we will be choosing the Governor, either Jerry Brown to continue or GOP Neel Kashikari, an individual whom nobody knows or has ever seen, in fact.

Along with Governor, the usual raft of suspect officers need to be either approved or replaced. While Barbara Lee is up for reelection against Republican Dakin Sundeen, also a non-career politician like Kashikari, we see that our Islander Rob Bonta is aiming for 18th District State Assembly in a clear career move up from the Hospital LAFCO board, to City Councilperson and now this. He is up against David Erlich, a professional electrician.

We will talk about these candidates as well as the Propositions, which include a State Constitution amendment, a bit later.

Mainly we want to talk about the Bay Area's favorite Holiday, the several week period of hard parties, fantasy role play, dressing up in costumes, jumping up and down, bounding exuberance, raw sex, and sheer fun called in some places Halloween. There is so much fun going on around here, there is something even for children to enjoy.

And of course the annual search for the most sincere pumpkin patch in the world.

Eugene has been polishing up his special gleaming weapon, the Bowser Boffer, for some of you know what very special holiday event follows in the next month on this Island.

Ah, Tradition.

In the meantime the occasional pistol crack and submachinegun rattle signify only the occasional traffic altercation on the freeway or family dispute in Oaktown being resolved in the usual way of Northern California in this post Grunge, post punk, post Hippie era -- we kill one another.

This kind of thing certainly is at odds with the image of what Babylon would like to present to the world: a region of happy, smiley people practicing yoga and swimming to work each day, like in a Kliban cartoon. But, you know, the marketing people over there on California Street happen to be the best in the world and so no one suspects that within the bright beating shining heart of Babylon resides a cold, rotten core of selfish Republicanism eager to inflict the Ellis Act at every opportunity.

As a result of this, scads of artists are fleeing Babylon to come here to the Island, where arrogant privilege remains verbal in the confident face of certain obscene rent increases that will definitively drive out the riffraff born here.

Nevertheless something remains of NorCal which is peculiar, offbeat, strange and worthy of preservation. Good people still live here -- isolated and beset for certain, but they do exist.

In any case, Larry Larch, who is director of the nonprofit Pushy People Anonymous won some sort of award from his old highschool in his hometown of La Mirada and so he paid a visit out there to give a talk, supposedly as the main speaker at the 30th reunion dinner. He did not have a good way of getting there, as the BART does not go down so far and nowadays the bus system had gotten physically dangerous. His own car, a 1977 Volvo remained in the shop. So he hooked up with Pahrump who owned a scooter and had an extra helmet.

When asked if he had any protective clothing for riding a scooter, he had to admit that all he had were suits from the Mens Wearhouse and flip-flops for footgear, so Pahrump dug around to come up with a pair of leather pants that glowed lavender and Martini supplied a set of Doc Martins for the ride.

Now it may surprise some people to discover that California is no different, really, from most of the United States. There are a few unusual cities that capture all of the press, all of the attention, and indeed, it is the business of those particular cities to do just that to make money.

But California was settled by unruly people of no special intellectual development more interested in escaping the 9-5 office job than anything else. Bands of Okies followed the dissatisfied Mormons and 49'ers from heartland farms to make these small towns that populate the California landscape. In truth, most of California, in terms of land mass, is no different than any rural scape in Illinois, Iowa, or Minnesota. The farmers of Modesto would be in perfect agreement with the farmers of Lincoln Nebraska. Within the scope of the Bay Area metropolis, home to some nine million people, and the scope of the LA basin, home to 35 million, there lives a different sort of culture. Outside these two areas, you find small towns such as you would find anywhere.

From such a town came Larry Larch.

When Larry and Pahrump arrived in La Mirada off of Route 5, with a few jaunts on arterials to left and right, they stopped at a cafe to take stock of things and check the maps, because in the intervening years since Larry had left, all the landmarks had changed, and the man there wanted to know if they were rock stars on account of their clothing and clear presentment as to not being from anywhere near there.

Pahrump, a Native American, was used to this sort of thing, but Larry had to go an invent a fictional rock band called the "DC MonkeySpankers", and this seemed to satisfy the man who promised to look for their gigs in the local paper.

When they got to the Welder's Union Hall, where the dinner was being held, Larry had to pay $30 to get Pahrump in there, despite supposedly being the guest of honor. They sat down at a table and Larry looked around at all the people who had survived the past 30 years and thought about what he would say about becoming the successful entrepreneur of Pushy People Anonymous, realizing that his high school experiences had provided much of the impetus to found an organization that tries to ameliorate or kibosh pushiness -- but not in a good way. There was Frank Fetta, a still chubby, boyish fellow who desired to become a Mafia kingpin, and had started off by threatening people and treating his sidekick, Nils, like dirt. He had pulled a gun out of a hall locker, telling Larry he better not ask the girl named Vicki to the Homecoming Dance.

Over there was Sandra Bollox, a brassy redhead who had acquired quite the romantic reputation, but who had laughed in his face before turning on her heel after he had helped clean up her Chihuahua's mess at another school dance.

Larry, understandably, pretty much stopped going to high school dances after his sophomore year and skipped on the Prom.

There was Bob Pettit, still a used car salesman after all these years, who had sold Larry his first car for $1000 -- a substantially inactive Pinto which Bob had furnished by spray painting the engine black, draining the oil so as to hide the leaks and turned the odometer back with a hand drill. Fortunately the head blew fairly early as the brakes were worn to the base metal, which had, in turn, gouged the rotors and drums.

Pahrump was over by the punch bowl when Sandra came up to him and said, "Are you a real Indian? How, Chief!" And she put the palm of her hand up to her mouth and went, "Wooo wooo wooo!" imitating a 50's era Oater Native American. Pahrump walked away.

One after another Larry ticked off the reasons which had driven him to establish his business hundreds of miles from this place. He turned to Pahrump and said, "Let's get out of here."

The two of them walked out and down the road to the Dew Drop In bar and each of them had a Fat Tire and a bump.

"They made me what I am today," Larry said. "They are all bullies and I hate them." A large portion of Larry's business involved providing, in addition to group therapy, highly trained service dogs that would respond to pushy behavior and obnoxiousness by biting the owners, who had been enrolled by family and close associates.

Then they got on Pahrump's scooter and drove through the little town where Larry had grown up. They drove past the new Library center and they drove past the park where Larry had first kissed a girl named Heidi and they drove to the old high school where Larry stood at the chain link fence looking for a while at the buildings, not saying anything. Then they got on Pahrump's scooter and drove the long way home.

Back on the Island, Rev. Howler, of the Adelphian Iglesia del Luz de los Cajóns de Estacionamiento del Mundo, was in fine dramatic form on the subject of parking place seizures and how in the Kingdom of Heaven that was immanent there would be room for the cars of the Elect, who would all drive massive SUV's while those ignominious damned would be sentenced to driving unairconditioned two-door Toyotas endlessly in circles around a city office building, searching for an open spot.

In the Old Same Place Bar Tipitina was complaining about her boss to Suzie, who listened patiently behind the bar to how she was being abused at the firm of Jack Sparrow and Partners. Seems her boss, Tim Pircey, had arbitrarily shifted her working hours to suit his own comfort level, had demanded that Tipitina fly regularly to San Diego -- on her own credit card -- and had demanded all flights be economy class. Accounting had changed the expense report from a simple spreadsheet to a cumbersome two page macro-enabled document that took hours to complete. In addition, the filing room where Tipitina spent most of her time was a stifling, hot, unairconditioned space that took the full force of the sun through a skylight that had no view. The temperature in there rose well into the nineties.

The Man from Minot overheard all this and said, each age has its own label to match the characteristics of the characters that define the times. We saw the Sixties as a time of people coming together so it was called the "We Generation." What followed was the more self-involved period we call the "Me Generation". Then came the Reaganites and the Neo-cons with the "I Got Mine Generation." Of course we blipped through the Clinton time to a time when lack of intelligence, exalted ignorance, touted incompetence, and imbecility governed the land: The Age of the Moron. Nowadays we have a new spirit determined largely by disappointment, violence, obnoxiousness, over-the-top violations of personal space, pushiness, and rude behavior where Larry Larch's PPA is in high demand. Voila! Welcome to The Age of the A-hole. That is the time in which we now live.

They all sat there for a moment considering these truths.

The reverie was broken by the ululation of the throughpassing train from far across the water as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, its chainlink fence interstices until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

SEPTEMBER 28, 2014

DOWN IN THE OCEAN WHERE NOBODY GOES

This week we have an image of the cuttlefish graffiti that for a while deluged the surfaces of Babylon across the water. This image was taken on the entrance to the Fruitvale Bridge, but over in Babylon this image appeared on curbstones, firehydrants, and just about every flat surface imaginable, all without the main artist ever being captured on film. Then, quite suddenly, all images over there began to vanish without being replaced.

Could it be our cuttlefish expert got ousted by the evil Ellis Act depredations going on across the water and had to come here?

We shall see. No one knows, but the Shadow knows.

THIS ISLANDLIFE

The Angry Elf gang got busy Sunday morning, sending out a couple of thugs to make a number of people's lives really miserable in burning them out of house and home and business. Two members of the Taikeff gang set over 8 fires within a seven block radius, with most of the early fires starting around 1:30 am set in a classic distraction pattern in trash barrels to put off the fire department before the thugs torched a car in an alley behind Angela's Restaurant and Brite Cleaners, causing a conflagration that destroyed five businesses as well as the upstairs apartment from where two inhabitants narrowly escaped with their lives.

Another couple on the 1100 block of Regent Street fled their home when one of the trash barrel fires leapt to the house structure, resulting in a total of four people left homeless.

At 2:22 a.m., on the 2200 block of San Antonio Avenue, a two-story Victorian home that was converted into a duplex was torched.

Francisco Rodriguez was working while his four kids, the oldest age 13, were sleeping in the rear unit of the duplex. Everyone got out safely, but the home was a total loss.

The owners of Angela's had put their entire life savings into renovating the new restaurant and had not gotten around to purchasing insurance and so the Zafari family is totally wiped out financially by the disaster perpetrated by this extortion gang.

Ten minutes later, firefighters put out a burning car in the garage of a home on the 1000 block of Willow Street, and, at 3:29 a.m., crews squelched a fire in a garbage can next to an apartment on the 2200 block of Encinal Avenue, Colburn said.

For most of Sunday Park Street was blocked off between Santa Clara and Buena Vista, with only pedestrian and bicycle traffic allowed through the crime zone.


Surveillance video of a neighboring business on Park caught images of the stooges employed for the arson and so the prime suspects were apprehended within a few hours.

These fires come on the heels of several fires AFD fought last weekend, making all of us wonder just what the heck is going on.

Speaking of what's going on, anyone notice the armies of Asian ragpickers combing through the trashbins lately. Also notice that many of them now use stolen shopping carts to truck their pilferage? Also notice that these folks are blithely crossing property lines, entering gates, climbing over walls strolling down drives to backyards to harvest their recycleables? Which of course is stealing from the waste management folks but all of you can afford to pay more for pickup anyway, so its all good. Or is it?

Seems what was borderline has become acceptable, and even more than acceptable. Now these characters have regular routes they pursue each day and each week. And of course none of you minds paying a bit more at the grocery for the theft of several hundred $200 shopping carts. After all, most of you dine on lobster and tri tip and filet mignon every night, so your grocery bill is nothing.

What seems to be a victimless crime is far from victimless. You, my friends, are being preyed upon and this is no joke due to the scope of it, for each ragpicker out there is costing some business somewhere in this area several thousand dollars in lost revenue and replacement costs. Not to mention some thug casing your joint is happy to observe the lack of activity at certain times of day. Ever been robbed?

Start thinking.

THEY SET US ON FIRE / BURNING, JUST LIKE MOONBEAMS IN OUR EYES

So anyway, looks like WETA has secured permission to "harass" the harbor seals that sunbathe and frolic near Berry Point where the USS Hornet now docks. Seems WETA wants to build a ferry terminal out there to handle the scads of newcomers planned to arrive because of Development Greed.

WETA hired the Depuglia brothers who went out there to yell and throw rocks. The Depuglia's are not especially bright individuals who feign abilities to "do" sheet metal and repurpose old cars that should have been sent to the salvage graveyard, but harassment is a skill that supposedly does not require much in the way of cognitive ability. The yelling and rock-throwing didn't do much other than make the bull seals miffed until they chased off the Depuglias. Next the brothers resorted to blasting Metallica CD's from 100 watt amps. Through field glasses they could see some commotion, but no departures. By this time, the show had acquired quite a shoreline of spectators and Marlene looking out commented that it looked like the seals were dancing.

This resulting in yet more yelling and rock throwing from the Depuglias who now took this seal eviction as a kind of insult to their collective masculinity, so they started yelling stuff that had one of the neighbors call the police and Officer Popinjay cited both of them for lewd behavior. Which had the effect of polarizing the onlookers who started taking sides, with most of the Household of Marlene and Andre being pro-seal and most of Mr. Howitzer's friends rooting for the eviction.

So the harassers returned and shifted to burping Barry Manilow and Abba, a combination which has been known to produce acrimony and dissatisfaction around the world. Tapes of Brittany Spears singing with her real voice, sans Autotune seemed to do the trick. That and the Abba caused the seals to howl in anguish before dropping into the water.

The effect, of course, has been dismal, with neighbors complaining as loudly as the mama harbor seals.

It is known that one of the objectives of DAESH, the radical pseudo-Islamic fundamentalist sect that now has Washington's collective panties in a twist, is to eradicate all trace of ABBA from the music lexicon of the world.

Go for it guys.

In any case, the geese have now belatedly doing the honking and gathering thing. All the birds seem to have suddenly gotten the idea now is a good time to pack the bags, in fact. We have had a few nights that were very nearly cool, prompting a few oak trees to make up their minds that summer had finally ended with a few leaves here and there going brown.

Since the season for killing animals in sport now shifts from fish to crab and large mammals Wootie Kanootie, the famous Canadian moose tamer, has taken to issuing stern injunctions to the sometime wayward Eunice in Quebecois. You may think it an extraordinary sight to see a big man in a large fur hat cursing in Canadian French to a moose or elk or any wapiti and you would be right.

The word "moose" first entered English by 1606, and is borrowed from Algonquian languages (compare the Narragansett moos and Eastern Abenaki mos; according to early sources, these were likely derived from moosu, meaning "he strips off", and possibly involved forms from multiple languages mutually reinforcing one another. The Proto-Algonquian form was *mo·swa, which probably means "big guy with big ugly nose". Go figure.

The term "moose" is a name of North American origin, and the scientific name "Alces alces" comes from its Latin name, which like most Latin names makes no sense at all.

The animal was known in Europe as the "elk." The moose went extinct in Britain during the Bronze age, long before the European's discovery of America. The youngest bones were found in Scotland and are roughly 3900 years old. The matter is further confused by the fact that in America an elk is not a moose, but a different sort of animal entirely.

This has lead to a great deal of material for comedy, however the moose has little sense of humor, and in revenge they regularly murder Canadians by the hundreds each year.

In any case Eunice was a moose with a wayward sort of mind, given to wandering beyond the paddock, and as any sane man knows, it is useless enterprise to try to corral a headstrong female for the man will gain little profit or luck by this effort and very likely may end up the worse for wear all the same.

So anyway, getting back to the seasonal changes, the old maypole swings wide from Spring into a rope tied to a tree limb overhanging the river of Summer that plunges and eddies down to the cooler niches and dark pools that lap the bank beneath the rise up the yellowing sward to the old porch-swing going back and forth and all the leaves falling, bringing the scents of apple deadfall, warming cider, the tang of wood-smoking chimney somewhere in the neighborhood. Yellow school buses appear more prominent now that colors are invading the world.

The yellow busses, the changing leaves, and even the light looks more golden in the late afternoons as clouds scud across the azure sky as the evening approaches each day more quickly, like the end of Life itself.

The kids playing in the field at the park and mothers calling all the memories to come home for supper, get in before it goes all dark and the lights in windows coming on and the streetlights one after another crackling on with a snap -- what remains on the empty streets after everyone has gone.

Rosh Hashanah came and went last Wednesday and Thursday. There is no special news to relate except that a record number of women gave birth during those two days, which makes one wonder. Fortunately the apples from Washington are crisp this year and there is still plenty of honey to be had, despite the reputed attrition of the bee population.

At Marlene and Andre's, no ram's horn was to be found, so Martini found an old French horn in a garage sale and Sarah blew into the ear of Quentin to make the shofar part of yontif. Or the yontif part of the shofar. Whatever.

This is not precisely correct, said Rolph, who as a native born German seemed to lack authority on Hebrew matters, however it must be said some reeducation efforts since the War have resulted in astounding successes, so one can never know for sure. Which makes all of these issues pure California, for nowhere else would anyone care to have them.

"You need to blow each morning for the entire month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah. The sound of the shofar is intended to awaken the listeners from their "slumbers" and alert them to the coming judgment," said Rolf in an anguished voice. "This is preparation for Yom Kippur."

Well, they ignored him of course. As the people always do prophets.

Nevertheless, ten days are counting, the teshuvah, until Yom Kippur when things turn around. The names of the good people have been written down. The names of indifferent have these ten days to think about things. The names of the wicked have also been written down, and they have ten days before the book is closed on their subject of crimes.

Marlene, who probably of all the people described in these annals has the fewest of sins of which to ask forgiveness, went out with little Adam and a pocketful of breadcrumbs to the pond at the edge of the baseball diamond at Washington Park and there she cast out her petty crimes, such as they were, upon the water for the ducks to gabble up. Taschlich. And the ducks paddled and gabbled this way and that, and so sin was devoured from the world.

For a time. Until the Turning.

And so the evening passed into night on the Island after many disasters, many fires, many disappointments. But a calm reigned for a time as all the thugs rested and all the troubled people lay down to sleep. For a night, no sirens rent the calm, no one got stabbed and no one got shot.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

 

SEPTEMBER 21, 2014

TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE

This week's image is of a visitor to the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles where Carol had doubted the reports from previous tenants of a habitual prowler. Below one can see the ears of someone named Coco inside the apartment, staring with rapt attention.

THIS ISLAND-LIFE

Front page of the Sun presents the Mayoral Candidates for the upcoming election. There is a bit of frenzy going on this time, which is a bit unusual for your "midterm" events, so its nice to get some balance -- at least for now. The Democrats have responded to the over the top, financed attack ads against Obama with equally as shrill rhetoric.

People. Let us take a breath.

Island candidates responded to questions, responses to which can be found at www.thealamedan.org.

It looks like Marie Gilmore (incumbent) is going head-to-head with Trish Spencer, the controversial school district Board member. With Mayor Marie, we know what we get -- more of the same. With Spencer we probably should put aside tales of contentiousness and look at what kind of change she would make, not only as far as the schools goes, but with regard to development and the obscene rent increases going on.

Not everyone is on the rent gouging bandwagon, but there are millions of dollars at stake in these new developments and we have hearsay that one landlord, who has been purchasing Edwardian homes to convert to high-priced $3,000 one bedroom apartments, has been called to help design the Point project along with a dubious developer entity out of Florida, a developer with a nasty reputation for shady tactics.

It is unfortunate that Silly Hall passed the buck recently on the issue of even discussing rent control, for that means the issues will shunt to a "committee" to be essentially tabled until the situation has gotten so bad that somebody presents first one, then another emergency ballot measure, each of which will be less than satisfactory and certainly cause all the problems that some people dread whenever the subject comes up.

By passing the buck here, Silly Hall has virtually ensured that down the road some form of legislative rent control will come into being, and in a way that is certainly going to irk just about everybody.

Looking at the Letters to the Editor we see a few that clearly seem to be puff pieces written by industry insiders promoting their boss's point of view in that all this activity should not be questioned and we all should just roll over and accept the changes, good or ill.

Well, it seems pretty clear that, given the staggering amount of money involved with these developments that will house 2,000 and 3,000 people a piece, change is inevitable, if only that the amount of money insures Mafia involvement and Mafia enforcement. We really cannot explain some of the wacky backroom deals that have taken place here any other way other than Tony Soprano getting involved. Hey, I gotta deal you cannot refuse. An' I maka sure you NOT refuse. Or else. . . .

The change that will happen includes more people -- hella more people -- living in the confined space of the Island, which is already quite densely populated.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Got notice that John Mellencamp will perform at the Greek in July, 2015 and presale tix popped up on the Internet for a short while 9/15-9/18, so if you did not get yours expect to battle the crowds. Mellencamp, a roots rocker, has been returning to the dirty fingernails basis for his songs, delving into deep blues and doing benefits for wounded warriors at VA hospitals in low-keyed under marketed events. It is no secret the blue collar smalltown boy is popular around dear dirty Oaktown as well as Detroit, so expect a gritty show in July.

Folsom Street Fair was this weekend. So was the Eat Real Fest. Still, not too early to secure NYE tix for local boys Primus at the Fox.

Naomi Klein presents, This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate on September 29, Monday, 7:30 pm at
the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley. This event Co-Sponsored by: KPFA Radio 94.1 FM, Earth Island Journal & Movement Generation.

This series has some interesting items coming up in October, including lectures by musicians Bruce Cockburn and Herbie Hancock, so stay tuned.

DIRTY OLD TOWN

So anyway, like many small towns with self-assurance ranking up there with the modesty of a Miley Cyrus with her famous butt, our own town has been much concerned about this semi-Islamic fundamentalist group, Daesh. Daesh paramilitary types have been running around the Middle East like the bad little doggies they are, pooping on everything and generally acting like scarved versions of Lewis Carrol's Red Queen, chanting pretty much the same inanities ("Off with his head! Off with his head!").

Concerns have grown in Silly Hall that after Syria, the Island may be next. It stands to reason as we have the best halal markets in the East Bay and we would be a natural lilypad to launch from in attacks on the rest of the West. After all, the famous Doolittle raiders took off from here. Well, at least their aircraft carriers did.

Mr. Terse, LT. USMC, Ret., has gotten up a confab with Mr. Spline, (Black Ops, NSA, TSA, CIA, BPOE), Cmdr. Stiffstik, and Simon Snark, even going so far as to lift -- for the moment -- surveillance of Wally's whistleblower son, Joshua up at the Greek Temple so as to get to grips on how to deal with the threat of Daesh in the Heartland where it is well known, as reported by reputable entities such as Soldier of Fortune Magazine, the National Enquirer, and Glen Beck, that sleeper cells were breeding terrorists and Bolsheviks in places like Sioux City, Lincoln, Carbondale, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Birmingham, Alabama, all in collusion with the Executive Branch of our own federal government.

They were joined by the militant arm of Parlor 33 1/3 of the Native Sons of the Golden West. Meanwhile, Joshua took the opportunity to go get a pizza down in the flats.

"I heard that this Obama refused a slice of bundt cake at one of his propaganda whistle stops," said Snark. "What kind of good-old boy American refuses a slice of white cake I tell you? It means something."

"He's a secret Muslim," said Stiffstik. "And a public Socialist to boot. His middle name is Hussein."

"We real Americans gotta band together," Mr. Spline said. "I move that we form a counterrevolutionary force -- I gotta lotta friends up in northern Idaho who know how to survive living on mealbugs and bark and stuff. We can call ourselves the Defenders Of America."

"D.O.A. I kinda like the sound of that," said Cmdr. Stiffstik.

"I am not so sure I wanna survive eating mealybugs," said Mr. Snark.

"Hey, we are all in this together," Mr. Spline said. "You want your daughter to walk around all wrapped in one of those burkha things when its hot as blazes outside? That's what those DAESH types do when they take over some place." That'll keep her out of trouble. Your wife, too."

"Heck," Cmdr. Stiffstik said. "I just lock her up in her room come Friday night. Aint no pimple-faced brat gonna get in her knickers, no way. I am a Navy guy and I know what guys her age are all about."

"You lock up your WIFE . . ."!? Mr. Spline said.

"No, Malvina, my daughter. Pay attention." Said the Commander.

"How about those emergency bars you get in your disaster survival kit? I aint gonna stuff no mealybugs in my mouth," Mr. Snark said.

"You get hungry enough you will put anything in your mouth, believe me. I suppose you would rather become a Communist if it came to choices."

"I don't know about that . . .".

Äll right everybody, say you got rounded up by these here Daesh guys with the turbans and you get a choice -- either renounce your Creator and become an Islamicist of their particular school or eat mealybugs and wash it down with camel snot."

All of them were silent for quite a while imagining that situation and what they would do. For some, this question brought back childhood memories and tears came to the eyes of these grown men. Well, middle-aged men at least.

The meeting went on for quite a while like that until they concluded with a pledge of allegiance to the flag and sang God Bless America and they all swore on Bibles they would stand together to defend the Land of the Free and each other but most certainly not the Government, whom all of them distrusted.

After most of them left, Pahrump and Jose went around cleaning up, putting away the folding chairs and taking down the religious icons hung up for the meeting: framed portraits of St. Ronald Reagan, Glenn Beck, Milton Friedman, Teddy Roosevelt, and Sarah Palin posing in a bikini while holding an AK-47.

"Doesn't look like anyone touched the sponge cake," Jose commented. "Should I keep it?"

""Throw it out," Pahrump said. "That stuff aint real food."

Jose tossed the thing into the trash barrel with some leftover cookies before hauling it out to the fenced container area. It was took heavy to lift and tip into the dumpster so he left it there and locked up the place.

That night the raccoons came to climb over the fence and raid the dumpster. They found the trash barrel and tipped it over to feast on the watermelon and the cookies, batting away the spongecake after one of them sunk his teeth into it before gagging and running over to the pool by the standpipe to vigorously wash his hands and clean the taste of it out of his mouth.

This was observed by the Captain via the periscope belonging to the AIS Chadoor, the Iranian spy submarine hiding in the estuary. The spy sub was supposed to keep tabs on military activity at the port, but this proved to be so boring and uneventful, the captain and crew often trained the scope upon the more entertaining island.

"If we have to rely on these infidels to help us fight the crazy Daesh, then we all are in a lot of trouble," commented the Captain.

"I do not think the Daesh will die laughing," said the First Mate. ""But Allah works in mysterious ways."

They were all quiet for a time, pondering these wise words.

"I don't think we are that much different from them, my Captain," said the First Mate. "We all want to live, to thrive, to raise a family with children. It is just a few people have a problem with control. "

"I agree," the Captain said and clapped up the handles of the periscope to make it descend. "Dive!"

And with that the Iranian spy submarine passed silently out of the estuary into the Bay and from there under the Golden Gate to the inaccurately named Pacific Ocean, running silent, running deep, leaving behind only the barest hint of a ripple.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

 

 

SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

NO BULLETS MAN, NO BULLETS

This week's shot comes from a collection Alonzo made along his regular bike path to work in Oaktown. These casings are from a shoot-out that seems to take place regularly on Coolidge Avenue near School Street.


In this case, police responded to calls from the Dimond District of shots fired after a car shot up a house on Coolidge across the street from Fred Finch Children's Home and Brett Harte school. Police were fired upon and gave chase down Coolidge under the freeway where the suspects were apprehended with machine pistols loaded with 50 round clips, among other things.

Fortunately, no one was hurt in this incident.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Moderating sunny weather has led to great turnouts for the public fairs, such as Grant's Soul Forge out on the Point and the Webster Faire this past weekend. Going forward we see the formidable Robert Cray show at Yoshis going on PreSale now.
Tickets are $69 for the Wed, Dec 10 at Yoshi's Oakland. Cray is famous for having BB King hand over his prized Lucille in concert to indicate a passing of the guard for the Blues from the Old Master to the New.

The Fox continues its roll of excellent shows with the Thievery Corporation on October 2. David Byrne is involved with this group.

The venerable Greek hosts Erykah Badu with Childish Gambino October 17th, while the same venue has Lorde showing up to claim Friday, October 3rd.

On the prosaic realm, Pyramid Alehouse in Berzerkeley will have a form of Oktoberfest with "Staches and Steins" 09/25 starting 5:30 to closing. The Dimond District will hold its own "Oaktoberfest", surprisingly, in the month of October on the 4th. Check out Oaktoberfest.org for a listing of live music, food and events taking place 11 am to 6pm.

Treasure Island hosts its music festival 10/18/14 featuring Outkast and Massive Attack. See Treasureislandfestival.com for details.

Since the East Bay is where its at right now, while Babylon is showing up, embarrassingly so, on lists compiling the "Cities consisting mostly of assholes," you may want to check out The New Parish (579 18th Street at San Pablo), Leo's at 5447 T'graph where Zigaboo Modeliste takes over 10/4, and the Rock Steady (at 1745 San Pablo).

In an effort to regain space after First Fridays in Oaktown became co-opted by heavy partiers, supplanting the art connoisseurs and artists for whom the original event was intended, local gallery owners have concocted "Third Thursdays" as a way of allowing critics and art shoppers to rub elbows.

SLATE just announced its contributions via PR last week and they are "slating" Thursday, September 18th for
3 SPECIAL EVENTS ON 25th STREET

• Oakland Here and Now: A Live Painting Event | sponsored by SLATE
• Artists Reception for SLATE's Paint & Pool Exhibit | featuring new work by Andrzej Michael Karwacki, Victor Cohen Stuart, and Lola
• Third Thursday ArtWalk on 25th Street | Galleries & creative spaces open late.

This event brings together four Oakland street artists who will produce artworks, live and outside, on large aluminum panels. Viewers will experience the creation of a painting from start to finish, as well as interact with the artists during and after their process. Artists listed on the agenda are: Nite Owl • Cameron Thompson • Desi Mundo • Peskador.

The precise address is 473 25th Street in Oakland, where several galleries inhabit an historic steel-sided building.

JOE, WHERE DID YOU GET THAT GUN

Reports of a weapon on campus at Island High on Friday proved to be unfounded after the school went into lockdown. District spokesperson Susan Davis says the campus at Island High School is “all clear.” The district will be communicating with parents about the incident shortly, Davis said.

On the political front, ACT is ramping up its activities with its quarterly meeting. Here is the Press Release:

"ACT is having a forum. This will be our quarterly meeting.

Wednesday, September 17th, at 7:00 PM
at the Alameda Hospital, conference room A on the second floor

We will have candidates and incumbents for both the city and school board positions who will address local issues and answer citizens’ questions. Bring your friends, and we’ll see you there."

ACT stands for, in this case, Alameda Citizens Task Force.

You may have heard that AMP is having local artists "do up" the street corner power boxes. Looks like some of the newspaper kiosk vendors have done the same and a good example is the EB Express kiosk on Santa Clara and Oak with its surrealistic images of a chicken-headed human form.

AINT IT JUST LIKE THE NIGHT TO PLAY TRICKS WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO BE QUIET

So anyway, this past week maniacs cut the head off of another innocent person, apparently under the misguided idea that murdering someone innocent will somehow persuade the Western powers to keep away from ongoing wretchedness this group is causing and get the Saudis, the Kuwaiti's, Yemen, Egypt, Turkey, Oman, and whomever else to join in its head-banging lunatic ideas of a State governed by misinterpretation of the Koran, apparently by people who have never read it.

Mustapha Kemal, the cleric at the local Island Mosque shouted angrily with a copy of the holy book in his hands. "The Prophet never was commanded by Gabriel to recite that you must kill your neighbor dentist for fixing the teeth in a man's mouth!"

Aboard the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor there has been much soul searching with the Captain concluding with an aphorism. "This conquer the world is old-time stuff coming from the days of war against the Mongol hordes, and now which has nothing to do with the Prophet or defending the Faith. It is said that the man who takes just one step towards god shall enjoy the fact that god will take two steps towards him. In other words, it should come easily, and not at the point of a sword."

Now that both Labor Day and Memorial Day are past, the Bay Area is moving inexorably toward that special Holiday which brings out the monsters, the nightmares, the spooks, outsized spiders, ghouls and devilish smoke machines. That is, of course Election Day.

But before Election Day we have the far more enjoyable festival of fantasies and costumes called Halloween, which is celebrated here with more zest than anywhere else in the world for this part of the world has long held a patent on making fantasies real. Or at least, you know, actionable. The boys dress as girls and the girls dress as boys and dweebs dress like their favorite Star Wars character. Well, that happens all year anyway, but still, it is a good excuse for a Bay Area party. There is even something in it for children as well.

Marlene and Andre are planning their shindig at the Household with found materials and Martini is fashioning a skeleton out of rebar and LED's ripped from discarded circuit boards, while Mr. Howitzer is cobbling shopping lists for Dodd so as to trick up the Mansion a bit. This being an Election year it will also serve as a fundraiser for the Conservative candidates, one of whom wants to help Chevron put oil rigs in the Bay.

Up in the hills at the Greek temple Mr. Terse is still keeping tabs on Joshua, who has been holed up in the sanctuary ever since they came after him for blowing the whistle on the Administration's secret wiretapping of regional Mayoral restrooms. Joshua pokes his head out once in a while to tease the humorless Mr. Terse.

"Scotland free yet?"

"Scotland shall never go free of Great Britain!" shouted Mr. Terse. It was all he could do to avoid unloading his service pistol at the ornate door of the church which had snapped shut. "Damned liberals," grumbled Mr. Terse.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Babar -- the Conservative Candidate -- sat with Papoon -- the Somewhat Liberal Candidate. The Pee Tardy Candidate, Mr. Retentiff, and the Green Candidate, Ms. Olive Flambeaux couldn't stand to be in the same room with each other so they remained absent.

Babar asked how Papoon stood on the McKay Avenue issue and Papoon expressed surprise that Babar would want to know.

"Of course I want to know. Whatever is your position, I must be logically in opposition."

Well, that is American politics in a nutshell.

McKay Avenue is one of those things that began with backroom deals that seemed assured before someone squawked about taking land designated for expansion of the Cove parkland and giving it to a Developer.

Taking the land designated by ballot is one thing, but giving it to a Developer many found to be odious.

The GSA, former owner of the land, felt because it is the Federal Government, it can do whatever it wants and so got into a hissy fit with Eminent Domains and the Regional Parks and Rec people got into a legal snit and amid loud arguing and drive-by nastiness got asked to sit together and discuss the matter like adults, which of course did not work out and soon everything descended into an atavistic brawl with motorcycle chains and knives and rending of teeth and smashing of chairs over people's heads.

It was worse than the warfare Oakland endured during the eviction of the Occupy protesters from the Plaza in front of City Hall.

Asking some people to act like adults in this area is like asking the KKK to please show a little sensitivity and tolerance.

Father Danyluk, priest of the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint, paused by the moonlit Cove with the disputed strip of land extending its dark arm out into the Bay. He had been paying a visit to Mrs. Dudgeon to provide the widow with whatever consolation a man of the cloth had to offer. Mr. Dudgeon had always been a dour, gruff man with a lineage going back to the Bear Flagger days. One had the impression that he had set his opinions about age 13 and had seen little reason to alter them since.

A branch of the Dudgeons had split off from the clan when Isiah Dudgeon decided to join a cult known as the Golden Dawn. His progeny never seemed to flourish financially, becoming variously Sikhs, Transcendentalists, Unitarians, and ultimately Buddhists. It was Lance Dudgeon who changed his name to Druge and helped found the Tassajara monastery, while Bruce Dudgeon got into Speakeasies, bootlegging, and rum running during that famous time.. This branch of the family, by being so disreputable, were call the Low Dudgeons and it was a bad thing to associate with any of them.

Ralph, of course, belonged to the other type of Dudgeon with money, the High Dudgeons.

His house had been one of the houses snagged up by Eminent Domain during the big 580 push through the heart of Oaktown and he had never lost his sense of injustice and outrage about the events, although he was not a man without means. His family still owned a tract of land in Mariposa, and in fact his great grandfather had been among the people who unloaded the land belonging to Charles C. Fremont back then when he himself had fallen on hard times before becoming Senator.

In any case the seizure of the house put in him a savage distrust and hatred of the government to such an extent that his wife, Irene, took the opinion that his heart condition had been caused by this one event in his life.

It may be other factors contributed. "Damn hippies! Thought we got rid of you back in the sixties!" he shouted at the Occupy tents in Frank Ogawa Plaza. And his face got red and a little foam appeared at the corners of his mouth because of the medication he was on. Not many of the people in the tents had been alive during the sixties -- most of them had been born a good twenty years after the high water mark of the times referenced by Hunter Thompson had been reached and ebbed away with all the detritus. If asked to describe what a Hippy was, they would have been hard pressed to mention even their parents, who also had been born well after the high water mark. "Uncle John, the CPA? He's old but no, he never was no hippy. Maybe, but I don't think so. Hippies have hair all over the place and Uncle John is as bald as a cue ball . . .".

We are likely to continue to have misunderstandings for quite a while longer about a period of time that particularly affected California, but in any case it was at the family farm in Mariposa that Ralph Dudgeon died. The postman came by and saw the mail had not been taken out of the box for a couple days, even though he knew Ralph had been dropping in recently. So he drove up the trail there and coming to the house found Ralph standing there with his hands on the rain barrel.

The postman, Merv Levinsky, called out to Ralph but the man did not move. Merv sat there with the engine idling for a while and still Ralph did not move and the wind kicked the door open.

Ralph had come out there to move the barrel, or maybe look in, but nobody will ever know for he died, probably in an instant, standing with his head down and holding onto the barrel, leaning a bit on the side.

Well the funeral was a modest affair over at the Basilica with not so many people -- Ralph had been 82 years old and had seen quite a lot of his contemporaries pass on before him -- but the ham and cheese sandwiches were supplied by Raleys and the bread was from Semifreddis, so they were pretty good and by the end of everything all the plates were clean.

The children all sent their respects from Connecticut and other places where they had drifted like box elder seeds scattered about the world.

Mrs. Dudgeon offered Father Danyluk some port, but he abstained. "Don't mind if I have another myself, she said cheerily. "It's not so bad. I think I will have the curtains redone."

She did not seem to be sad or grieving at all. Quite the contrary, she appeared as chipper as a chipmunk in June. "O, I forgot to water the hydrangea! Don't be downhearted Father. It's all for the best. He is in a better place, I am sure."

So after this business, Father Danyluk stood beside the lagoon where he had fished for many a year, the waning moon rising high, still with some strength left after its Supermoon status had faded. It had been the summer of Supermoons. And the old priest wondered what had he done with all the light . . . .

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

 

SEPTEMBER 7, 2014

YEAR OF THE CAT

This week's image comes from Facebook friend and Island-lifer artist Carol Taylor, and is of one of her friends acting a bit sneaky. She calls it "clamcat".

THIS ISLAND LIFE

You may have noticed we have not been covering events recently quite as much in the past.

We are going into a sort of retreat from the world for the time being to get a handle on some of the adversarial entities out there who for some reason want to quash Island-Life. Could it be that we have something called the "midterm elections" coming up? Well, there is that kind of thing we hit a few times before this one. Plus the usual suspects in the Angry Elf gang and people who have their own bugbears and Guy Fawkes fantasies, along with the usual list of private demons stacked on to some medical issues.

So the editorial office will not be on the streets or out and about for a while, and as a result we will rely on you folks to be our eyes and ears for events.

Here is an open invitation: you want to be published with something for your clip file? Send us a line.

So anyway, looks like the Speakeasy Lounge got off to a rocky start with its owner being arrested for acting stupid. Well, the charges may be otherwise, but acting stupid pretty much tots up the list. Seems the man assaulted a police officer, who of course called in support and who naturally piled on the guy who continued to resist arrest, which we think would be a natural result from the first action.

Since he was White the man was not shot down in cold blood as seen in so many other recent high profile cases. Or maybe the IPD realized they were dealing with someone more stupid than dangerous.

The Speakeasy lounge appears to enforce a wacky dress code, at which American Oak has sniped, so may be this one needs to settle down a bit. Or maybe retrain the IPD.

On Police matters, the Urban Shield people seem miffed that Oaktown mayor Quan has disinvited the group back again for practice maneuvers and playing with big toys. Demonstrators came out in force to protest the annual police ho-down in the face of several over-the-top police deadly responses against innocent people involving a steadily mounting militarization of police response to practically all things civilian, including use of armored tanks, machine guns, and grenade launchers.

Police have said that the heavy armor is necessary to deal sometimes with heavily armored Mafia types, however the use of this equipment has seldom been employed against such entities in the US. Mexico perhaps, against drug cartels, but not here. So all this heavy armor weaponry available for use tends to be deployed against flower-power activists and at the start, peaceful demonstrators.

Recognizant of the dreadful events that took place to oust the Occupy people this past year, as well as the recent spate of deadly force outrages, Quan has put thumbs down on any more heavy-handed police activity in a city that has suffered much from premature deadly force application. So now the police people are stomping around in a snit, complaining they have to find a new place to play with their toys and conduct maneuvers.

Well, okay, go somewhere else. You have proven you don't fix the problems here, but only add to them. Good-bye and good riddance.

We are still boiling over the Santa Fe footage of cops shooting a homeless man in the back as he moves sluggishly up hill away from them with no threat whatsoever. There was no excuse for that murder. As there has not been for any number of additional outrages. And it seems clear that the police do not get the message that there is accelerated use of deadly force and that over militarization is not appropriate for a viable democracy. There should never be any sort of "do as I say or you will not be hurt" kind of law enforcement or any sort of order enforcement at any sort of degree.

Otherwise your democracy is a farce and Kim Jong might as well run the show.

First Friday happened - could not do it - we are engaged in war.

Looking at the Fox we see Coheed and Cambria bringing in their version of 70's rock with a layer of starship to the Fox. Jethro Tull returns in a blast from the past as Ian Anderson performs from his new album "Homo Erraticus". Expect some flute for that one. Thievery Corporation performs 10/2. Look to 9/26 for international sensation Paolo Nutini who trends to include some fabulous stars on his gig.

In-house fave Beck will be doing the Masonic 09/19 for "Opening Night". We hear the space has been renovated and such. Old Crow Medicine Show are followed by Modest Mouse and the Pixies (09/30), which seems to indicate this venue has secured a decent booking agent during the recent upheaval.

Looking at bookings, seems the Fox remains on a roll and the Masonic is about to catch up, while the Fillmore and Warfield and Yoshi's West and Slim's appear to be slacking. The East Bay is where it is happening.

ALL THE LEAVES WERE FALLING

So anyway, the warmer than usual weather, indicative of a dry El Nino approaching (not good for California deep into a drought) has caused all sorts of strange things to wind up in local fishermen's nets and lines. In the East, someone caught two rare albino lobsters. Someone else caught a creature so weird the biology wonks are scratching their heads, saying, well, it could be a mantis shrimp. If its a shrimp, at four feet in length, your basic catfish and wading children better watch out because there may be more of them out there.

Now we hear, on top of everything, a man from Fullerton just caught a wahoo off the coast of Los Angeles. A 50 pound wahoo at that. Nothing so exciting has ever happened in Fullerton before.

Eugene came motoring in from his foray out to the Farralones where he caught the strangest looking fish anyone had ever seen. Little Imbecilla Cupcake stared at the thing dangling from the yardarm and said it best after taking her forefinger out of her nose, "That sure is the ugliest fish I ever seen."

Everyone asked Eugene if he knew what it was and if he was planning on eating it.

"I don't know and I don't think so," Eugene said.

It took the commercial fisherman, Pedro, to identify the monster.

"That's a rare South American Bupkis," he said. "They usually hang out off the coast of Peru."

So they all stood there looking at the bupkis and Imbecilla put her finger back in her nose meditatively.

The nights are getting chilly -- not dreadfully so, but noticeably cooler than early in the summer -- and so the sleeping areas of Marlene and Andre's household are filling up again. Snuffles has returned from whatever odious location he spends his summers to the bad castle of the hole in the deck where Jose and Javier nearly burned the place down on Javier's fiftieth birthday.

Javier's birthdays trend to the violent and often involve some hours in the city jail, so the younger Jose has started looking for ways to make himself scarce when early June rolls around. It is not that the man from Mexico City is particularly violent himself; he is just a man who has a flair for the spectacular. He is a man who enjoys exciting and excitable women, which is always a recipe for vigorous drama. Jose, who hails from Sonora, is a good boy raised well and well taught by his abuelita to be courteous, honest and hardworking.

He is always about being a good example and he tells little Adam to please not open his switchblade in the house and definitely not to bring it to school. Little Adam looks up to him for Jose is helping him to learn Spanish.

Adam goes down to the riprap border where Pahrump is fishing for dinner. He already has some perch and two sea bass, so this dinner will be a welcome refresher from the Food Bank dry goods. Adam watches the man fish and asks him questions and the man answers. He tells Adam about how the Ohlone used to catch salmon by standing with legs straddling a narrow fishway made of wicker and they would just drive a trident down to spear a week's worth of lox for their bagels. Or whatever. That was when the fish were so plentiful the water boiled and the steelhead run caused tsunamis up the Eel River and the Humboldt.

One can see there are many different kinds of people living in this household of Marlene and Andre.

In the Old Same Place Bar, everyone wanted to know Padraic's opinion on the upcoming vote of the Scots for or against independence from the United Kingdom.

Padraic hemmed and hawed, then told them all about how King Fergus Mór mac Erc had once united the Gaels in the kingdom of Dalriada, creating a vibrant, creative civilization bound by the sea of Moyle. The Lordship of the Isles came to an end under MacDonald's tartan, then came the Saxons and all was left in the ashes up to 1912 was fierce longing. World War II ended even those wan hopes as Parnell went down in flames during the Kitty O'Shea affair, the brave poets of the Post Office Insurrection of 1916 slaughtered by the English cannons and the hangman. Scotland, which had supplied its unknowing bairns to the Ulster Plantations, sent its Orange sons of the Boyne off to the Somme, never to return. Then came the brutal Black and Tans and savage 1921.

"Well, are you for or against," asked the Man from Minot.

"There's danger and there's hope." Padraic said. "The North could go up in flames, or we could have a new Dalraida."

"Is that stuff in the jar any good," Eugene said.

For answer, Suzie popped the top of the jar and speared an object lurking in its viscous depths to land it neatly on the plate held by Dawn who plopped the dish down with a fork, a knife, a napkin, and a chunk of bread. Pickled eel.

"I asked if it was any good," Eugene said.

"Don't know. Nobody has had it for four or five years."

Eugene cut a piece off and speared it with his fork and raised the morsel to his lips. "How long has it been in that jar?"

"Four or five years." Dawn said.

"It's better than lutefisk," Padraic said.

Eugene set the morsel back down on his plate and thought better of eating it.

Meanwhile, Ms. Almeida unpacked the boxes which had just arrived from Europe to begin making the Portuguese specialty called Bacalhau. She took out the contents from one box and tossed it into the sink to rehydrate and loosen the salt off. A tremendous fetid odor rose up and the dog ran from the room. She opened up the window and turned on the fan and a raccoon walking by with an intent to raid the hen house passed out. The wooden boxes bore the legend "Hergestellt en Norwege: Lutefisk."

Portugese fishermen, in their zeal to supply the nation with the main staple for Bacalcau, which is to the Portuguese what spaghetti is to Italy, the baguette to France, mushy peas to the English, kraut to the Germans, had long ago exhausted the Mediterranean of its supply of cod. Fortunately, a supplier stepped in with not only tons of schools of living cod, but tonnes of boxes of salted cod already available and seemingly unwanted save by a handful of towns located in Midwestern America.

Once upon a time, the Norwegians consumed quantities of lutefisk, but the modern generation, learning of subtler, more varegated dishes, like Matjes Herring and T-bone steak turned their noses up at the stuff. They did not want lutefisk -- they wanted iPhones and hamburgers. So millions of pounds of cod that had been dehydrated in the wind before being buried in pits with gallons of lye as a preservative and then hung out to dry again remained stacked in boxes. Some of those boxes several years old, for lutefisk does not decay.

So it was that Norway rescued Portugal, which went through an unruly time of civic unrest, going even to the extremes of ousting its benevolent dictator Salazar and allowing its last territorial possession, the Azores, to go free for lack of salt cod before glomming onto the Nordic Solution.

Pedro Almeida, out on the pre-dawn high seas, headed for the fishing grounds listened to the radio for his favorite program, but the show had been canceled as the host, Pastor Rotschue, was slated for surgery. Pedro had been listening to that show for nearly his entire life -- recently the televangelist had celebrated 40 years on the air with a special that had featured dancing in the streets outside of broadcast station.

The Pastor was an unusual sort of televangelist who believed that since life was so short relative to Eternity, we might as well enjoy ourselves and have a good time as all the Creator had provided had to have some kind of divine goodness in it, even wine and booze and making whoopee.

Pedro wondered about a man of the cloth carrying such opinions, but he had millions of followers and the guests on his show were always lively good people. And he always dispensed advice and wisdom with such warm good humor over the years Pedro had come to think through the impersonal radio of the man as a kind of friend in the funny way people tend to imagine the voice on the radio happens to be addressing them personally. Well he was a man Pedro wouldn't mind having as a good friend were the fellow ever to notice him listening in reality.

Now the Pastor was headed to the operating room for a bit of heart repair. In Pedro's opinion there was nothing at all wrong with the man's heart, but what did he, a poor fisherman know.

The old ship's prow beat upon the waves and the new ship's dog, Ferryboat, gazed outward through the port glass at whatever may be out beyond the reach of the cabin lights, the swelling moon drifting overhead through Blakean clouds of charcoal and chiascuro gods deliberating the fates of men.

Best of luck old friend, he said.

As the Editor was putting out the lights in the Island-Life Offices he noted a copy of "The People of Helmsoe" on a copywriter's desk and recollected an anecdote about Strindberg in which a former classmate had remarked about the demented genius that "Er var een rigtig ekelhafte fisk."

This, by the way memosyne chains things together, brought up an old Ole and Lena joke. Ole was laying upstairs dying and the doctors said he had not much more time to go at 94. Things looked bad indeed. Lena busied herself downstairs preparing for the wake and all the people that would be dropping by to pay respects, because in such a time a woman has to occupy herself. Well Ole felt a burst of energy late at night with the moon hanging high, perhaps the last shot of adrenaline he would have in this life and he began to feel hungry. So he climbed out of his bed and crawled on hands and knees down the stairs, slowly and painfully, to the kitchen where he found trays of ham and cheese sandwiches. And he stood up with great effort and unwrapped the saran wrap and was about to take a bite of a sandwich when Lena came storming in and slapped him.

"Hey, you stop that! Those are for the funeral!"

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 31, 2014

I GOT OKRA ENOUGH TO CHOKE YOU / BEANS OF EVERY KIND . . .

Do you know how difficult it is to find a popular song that features beans and which is not a stupid CW thing? Anyway, this week's headline photo represents summer's last burst of wholesome goodness on the vine, a bit of remaining warmth and life clinging to the Old Fence.


THIS ISLAND LIFE

Friends and folks are filtering back from the Blackrock desert where the usual organized mayhem of Burning Man took place.

Here is a shot from Facebook Friend Chris O'Halloran from The Burn.

Sure has come a long way from those bonfires out at Baker's Beach when the wildest thing that happened was leaping over the burning timbers.

Taking over the heavy mantles of responsibility, along with any mixed metaphors that dangle their participles, from the inimitably named Mary Rudge, Julia Park Tracey will assume the office of Island Poet Laureate September 6th during a City Council Meeting. You may know of her as a founding editor of the Sun, but this poet has a handful of novels as well as numerous publications to her credit. She also maintains a blog at http://modernmuse.blogspot.com/.

Ms. Rudge held the position officially for four years, then continued unofficially as the Island's literary guide until she passed away earlier this year.

Out in the still wild hinterlands of the Island, Grant Marcuse held his 2nd Annual Pilgrim Soul Forge Fall Fair. 12 artists gathered about Grant's forge where he practices the blacksmith arts pretty much as they developed hundreds of years ago during the Middle Ages. Live music was supplied by the Doggone Blues Band and eats supplied by Beulah’s Bean Truck.

It was Life on the Island, and if you were not there at some point, you were not alive on the Island.

THERE'S AN EVENING HAZE OVER TOWN, STARLIGHT BESIDE THE CREEK

So anyway, the sultry days emerge from high cloud with humid suggestions, but the nights are easing into cool reminders that the virgins should make much of time. The Dweeb Report says that we are looking at a period of dry, stable temperatures with little forthcoming in precipitation for a while. The Pacific Rim satellite photos show virtually no activity out there.

A heated flap occurred down at Silly Hall when the Faux News commentator called the City Manager out for wearing a beige suit during a recent press conference, declaring that this apparel demonstrated clear and inappropriate partisanship in a serious time of travail. Our City Manager responded by calling the commentator a "numbskull" and demanding that the person respond by declaring the color of his underwear. The CM then granted Vogue an exclusive interview to talk about what upcoming Presidential candidates should wear while on the hustings.

The Conservative responded, as was expected, by stating that he always wore red, white and blue or nothing at all in true martial spirit.

Representatives from Cosmo and Esquire each weighed in on the CM's apparel with particular attention to his tie, concluding by the crosshatch pattern that tensions would start to ease in the Middle East as both Israel and Hamas declared victory over the latest brough-hahah, while his socks pointed to rising frictions with the City of Newark.

The fashion police indicated that raised shoulder pads are definitely out this season, which sent Dianne Feinstein on a mad rush to Nordstrom's and Macy's so as to replace her political trousseau.

Father Danyluk dropped in to the Monsef family to offer condolences for the passing of Hadi, former Councilperson for the City. So did Pastor Nyquist and also Reverend Jason Arrabiata of the CFSM and Mustapha Omer Kemal as well. Hadi had come from Iran originally, so it was anybody's guess what he was spiritually, although his reputation stood unique and distinctive in his well-known kindness and greatness of heart. Hadi had been one of those extremely rare oxymoron examples of an honest politician of the like we have not seen around here for quite a while, an old school sort of Islander man dedicated to public service as well as a good representative of all the great and good things immigrants bring to this country.

The Monsef family patiently put up with the visits from well-wishers and allowed a secular memorial service to be held at the Elks.

Down at the Old Same Place bar, all the talk is about the passing of Hadi Monsef and how the old guard is passing away and of how things are changing. A former vice-mayor who had known Hadi well, been a good friend in fact, comes into the bar for a bump and a Fat Tire. "I owe everything to Hadi," he said. "He was a gentleman . . .".

September is a time of changes, of some parts of the world dying around us, or seeming to as things go into a long cold sleep. But just as sleep is a kind of temporary death, according to Pastor Nyquist, the reverse is also true. As September advances, the leaves drop in a slow revolve and the box elder lets go its little propellers to patter down through the branches. The gardens yield up their last tomatoes and the light slants a certain way in the late afternoons, indicating the gradually shortening days. Color schemes shift from greens and bright reds to burnt siennas, browns, oranges.

Its always difficult to know just what to say to someone who has lost someone close, whether a family member or a good friend or a classmate. There is always this uncomfortable sense of how words can never be enough to replace that grief. There is a sense however of memento mori in all of us. It is something we share, this sense of loss. For live long enough, survive enough of the crap that life dishes out, everyone loses someone close and, ultimately, the day comes when the room is empty and you are not there as well. If anything, the words indicate that sharing, not only of loss, but of what is kept in the form of memories.

A strain of Middle Eastern music drifts on the air along with the tang of someone's fireplace as the sun sets a little earlier than it did yesterday. The clatter of someone working in their kitchen spills out of an open window, and the scent of the homegrown tomato becomes your madeline, provoking a memory of being with your friend long ago, walking along the path made just after the big shoreline Fill that made the lagoon, walking with that dog named . . . . What was his name? And that memory chains to an earlier memory still of dashing along to leap into the piles of leaves that took so long to rake.

As you grew older you forgot things, and suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, was hurt so badly you thought you would die, but you did not then and you are alive now and still the song of the fruit and vegetable peddler calling out his wares from the truck on the street comes back to you long after there was no more peddler and everything now is bought in grocery "lifestyle stores" and the marsh where you once caught a six foot blacksnake became a parkinglot, the woods there a village and the old ways are become just memories.

The shouts and cries of kids after school running down to the Strand in the present bring back that Labor Day weekend with the sun bathing everything and the water reflecting bright rays from the chop and the kite so high up and here it comes, bounding across the sand as you call out, "Randy! Randy!" to leap into your arms all tailwag and licking and woof. His name was Randy.

In the Old Same Place Bar it is getting close to closing time and Suzie issues Last Call. Pimenta Strife stops trying to hit on Wootee Kanootee, seeing this one was useless, and the Man from Minot breaks off his conversation with Larry Larch about service dogs. Denby segues from "One Kind Favor" to a short version of "Keys to the Highway." There is never enough time to get done everything we want to do.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the spotlight gantries of the Port of Oaktown along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

NO LOVE TODAY

I don't know much when I knew less
And I was heartbroke for the first time
Drowning in my tears
I went looking for a lifeline
Trying to find some comfort
Just a simple tender touch
Searching for some little cure
That would mot cost too much

And I can hear that produce wagon on the street
I can hear that farmer singing
'Cause I cried myself to sleep

CHORUS:
"I got bananas, and watermelon
and peaches by the pound
sweet corn, mirleton, more better than in town
I've got okra, enough to choke you
Beans of every kind
If hungry is what's eating you
I'll sell you piece of mind"
But this ain't what you came to hear me say
And I hate to disappoint you
I got no love today

I got no love today
I got no love today
No love today

I could not love to save myself
from lonesome desperation
Everything I thought was love
was worthless imitation
My concept of commitment
was to take all you could give
I thought the cheapest thrills
I loved were teaching me to live
But nothing seemed to last or see me through
Nothing but that little song
that I still sing for you

CHORUS

I got no love today
I got no love today
No love today

No love today
none tomorrow
not now, not forever
You can't see what comes for free
I think you're much too clever
For your own good
I will tell you what's right before your eyes
Intelligence is no defense against what this implies
In the end no one will sell you what you need
You can't buy it off the shelf
You got to grow it from the seed

CHORUS

I got no love today
I got no love today
No love today

words and music by Chris Smither

 

AUGUST 24, 2014

IT WAS EARLY IN THE SPRING ONE SUNNY DAY

This week's headline is of an hibiscus which suddenly bloomed again after going dormant a while.

IF THE HOUSE IS A ROCKIN'

Big news, of course, is the 6.0 shaker we all experienced from Napa on down through the Bay Area Sunday morning around 3:20 AM. People in Napa said the quake felt "violent" and unlike anything experienced before, although here in the Bay Area most folks said it felt like 25-30 seconds of long rolling.

More than 60 aftershocks struck in the hours following the quake, according to the USGS, ranging from 0.6 to 3.6 magnitude.

Sunday's earthquake struck four miles northwest of American Canyon, six miles southwest of Napa and nine miles southeast of Sonoma, according to the USGS.

The quake was the strongest to hit the Bay Area since 1989, when a 6.9-magnitude one struck during the World Series. The Loma Prieta earthquake caused 63 deaths, 3,757 injuries and an estimated $6 billion in property damage, according to the USGS. In that quake the downtown of Santa Cruz was nearly entirely flattened.

The Northridge quake in 1994 at 4:30 a.m. measured Magnitude 6.7. Sixty people were killed, more than 7,000 injured, 20,000 homeless and more than 40,000 buildings damaged in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Severe damage occurred in the San Fernando Valley. Estimates of damage from that quake were between 13 and 20 billion U.S. dollars

Downtown Napa's streets were a chaotic mess of tumbled brick walls, timbers and masonry. On first report we learned least two watermains ruptured spilling millions of gallons of precious water during a drought and at least six major fires erupted from broken gaslines. In total after review, we learned from Napa City officials there were approximately 50 gas line breaks and 30 water main breaks reported following the earthquake, causing some areas to have low or no water service.

The wineries certainly have been hard hit, but even though Napa has the reputation of being a mecca for the well-heeled, it has a large population of low-income and poverty-level residents who will be particularly hard hit by this disaster. Scattered power outages occurred throughout Sonoma County as well as Napa.

Just over the Carquinez Bridge Vallejo took a beating. The city of Vallejo is assessing the damage and cleaning up after Sunday morning's 6.0 earthquake. Early estimates put the damages in Vallejo at more than $5 million, but that number is expected to rise. Reports came in that Highway 37 was buckled, hampering access to wine country for the extended upcoming weekend.

As for the Bay Area, we came off fairly lightly this time. The CHP is also reporting there is no visible damage to Bay Area bridges that have been checked following the earthquake. Bridges remain open as they are being checked in more detail. The Posey Tube remains open.

In a strong local quake, the new "smart meters" are supposed to auto shutoff gas to the building, however it may take some time for gas already in the lines to dissipate. If you hear hissing or smell a powerful odor you should call PGE on the 800 #.

THIS ISLAND LIFE - THE PERNICIOUS PERSISTENCE OF PUSILLANIMOUS THREE-DOTULISM

On the electoral front, the Sierra Club has endorsed Frank Matarresse, while the firefighters union has not, preferring arch-rival Stewart Chen and candidate Jim Oddie. Since the Democratic Club is also playing favorites, picking Chen over Matarrese, we wonder if this election is going to turn into a high schoolish taking of sides in favor of popularity . . .

Speaking of HS level behavior, the School Board race is on with the mercurial and contentious Trish Spencer opting to shoot for Mayoral office, really snubbing the Board and all her former friends, like the Alameda Education Association; see their response and Spencer's rational in the Island Sun, August 21, 2014, Vol 13, No. 47, Opinion page, page 6 . . .

On the upside, New Live @ the Library Concerts scheduled to start 9/20 at the Main with tickets (this is NOT free) for the 3 concert series starting at $90 for the three at Books Inc, the library, and brownpapertickets.com...

GONNA RIDE THIS MEAN OLE HIGHWAY 'TIL THE DAY I DIE

So anyway, the weather has been moody, with high fog remaining until late morning and fog rolling in early in the afternoon with breezes that knock the crabapples from the tree branches, leaving the mid part of the day to sear with temperatures that sizzle under bright cloudless skies. The tomatoes are all coming out from Mrs. Almeida's garden now, a little late due to the cooler than usual summer. People used to say about this weather when it gets sort of calm and eerie: "Looks like earthquake weather".

Sure enough we had a big shaker stir things up to remind all the people who came here to escape tornadoes and snow that there are worse things that can happen.

Dawn and Padraic were lying in bed at three AM when the rocking and rolling started rattling the crystal in the cabinet and the two of them lay there with their eyes wide open for a while, listening for sirens and falling plaster. None of that happened as the real trouble lay further north but Dawn said after a moment, "Did we just have sex?"

Padraic paused for a long while before replying, "Yes. But I am not sure I want to do that new position again." Then he rolled over and went to sleep.

Dawn lay there a while longer thinking about things before getting up to make herself some chamomile tea to calm down.

Officer O'Madhauen got himself into a bit of hot water Tuesday when he pulled over Mrs. Bridgeport on the corner of Buena Vista and Sherman. Officer O'Madhauen got out with his gun drawn and ordered everyone to come out with her hands raised. Officer Popinjay came at the car from the street side, crouched down with his gun drawn as well. Out stepped Mrs. Bridgeport with her hands raised. Officer Popinjay holstered his weapon and put her hands behind her and cuffed her at the car. When she saw Officer O'Madhauen, exclaimed, "Tommy, what the hell you doin'? You put those guns down right now -- you are scaring the kids. And you tell this punk to let go of me. I know his mother!"

Paul Bridgeport, a skinny nine year old came out of the car with his hands raised also. "Please don't shoot mommy! I promise I'll be better at algebra in school!"

Officer O'Madhauen made Popinjay release Mrs. Bridgeport. Alicia, all of seven years of age, wailed in the car. "Please don't kill us! We didn't do nothing wrong!"

Officer O'Madhauen tried to smooth things over in what clearly had been a misunderstanding. A call had come in about a car being driven at high speed running stop signs and stop lights and four men waving pistols.

"What kinda car?" Mrs. Bridgeport said. "Lemmee see that report . . .".

"Ma'am, it was verbal." Officer Popinjay said. "Green 2012 Infinity with licenseplate "EAT-ME! All four Black males about 24 years of age."

"Green Infinity!" Mrs. Bridgeport shouted incredulously. "This be a 1992 White Volvo Stationwagon and no kid in the back older than nine! What the hell wrong with your head, boy? Fool!"

"Well the call said they goin' down this way to the Tube." Popinjay said, somewhat shamefully.

The two officers tried to calm things down. Popinjay went to one side of the car and O'Madhauen went to the other side. "Now, now," Popinjay said. "Everything is going to be all right. You are not going to be arrested."

"Okay now," O'Madhauen began calmly, but then lost his patience. "Stop crying!" he barked at Alicia. Which of course sounded like an order, so it did not work.

A Nissan Sentra pulled up in the cutout to the Wind River factory. A man and a woman got out and they started taking pictures. The man took out a notebook. "Hi, I am from the Oakland Tribune. Mind if I ask a few questions . . . ?"

Later on, down at the Station, Officers Popinjay and O'Madhauen got called into the office of Chief Battalia.

"What the hell is wrong with you Officer?" Battalia asked O'Madhauen.

"We got a call about a car running stop signs with guns. Running stop signs of all things . . . "!

"I know all that. Why did you stop this particular car in the way you did?"

"Well," said Officer Popinjay, "They also allegedly ran a red light. . . ".

"The second call said the car went down Buena Vista and turned on Sherman," O'Madhauen said.

"A green Infinity carrying four Black American males all aged 24. Car bearing a distinctive license plate." Chief Battalia said and then paused. "Let me ask both of you something. What if the car had been carrying people closer to the description of the alleged perpetrators. Someone like Lionel from the Pampered Pup or Arthur, whom whom both of you have known for years, just like Mrs. Bridgeport. What if their kids had been in the backseat? Lionel has a teenage son who goes to school with my son Alvin at West End. He is about fifteen but big as a bull -- looks could be twenty-four. What would you have done?"

"Well of course we would have followed proper procedure for allegedly dangerous suspects," O'Madhauen said.

"And if they or their kids had given you any lip?" asked the Chief. "Would you employ pain compliance techniques from training or lethal force?"

"So long as they do as I say, they would not be hurt," Officer O'Madhauen said.

"Let me get this straight," said the Chief. "So long as the people in your custody do exactly as you say, and do not complain about their detention, you will not hurt or kill them."

"Yes sir."

The Chief sat for a long minute, mulling this information over.

"Officers, I consider both of you to be colossal idiots and I have no idea how you passed the academy to become police officers. Let me correct that -- you became police officers because the requirements are set quite low. Please leave my office and do not talk to the press about any of this. Go now and please, please, please try to do as little damage as possible to the citizens you are sworn to protect."

A while later the Chief came before the microphones and the cameras and said what he had to say according to a script written long before he ever entered the Academy himself.

"Ladies and gentlemen, after thorough review of the events that transpired I can find no fault in the actions of the Officers who appear to have followed proper procedure. Fortunately no one was injured in this incident. That is all I have to say. Good day to you."

The day collapsed with exhaustion into the night after three shifts of minimum wage trying to pay the bills and keep afloat. Everything sighed towards sleep and before the start of another impossible day.

In the Old Same Place Bar all the talk was about the recent shaker up in Napa and memories of the '94 quake in LA as well as where you were during the 5:05 Loma Prieta one that knocked out a piece of the Bay Bridge and brought down the Cypress at what normally would have been the height of the rush hour. Arthur had been in his van coming back from making a delivery in the City when the world started rocking under his wheels on the lower deck. There was a transport van from UC Med Center right behind him. He thought to himself, self, better get offa the freeway right away, and so he took the first exit, which dropped him in West Oakland. He heard a noise and looked back over his shoulder to see the freeway he had just been on was gone. A mile of upper deck had pancaked down onto the lower, bringing down sections of that in about two seconds.

He got out of the van he was shaking so bad although the earth had stopped moving. The van from UC was still up there.

Everybody was silent for a while before each started in with his and her stories. Pieh Pah, so called because he sat on the corner on a crate and played the Asian Pieh Pah, told about quakes in China which caused massive mudslides that engulfed entire towns. "I walk back from field. Ground started shaking real bad and then I hid for a while. Then I go along road and come to roadblock. Behind roadblock no more village. My village all gone."

So there they were, Black, White, Asian, First Peoples, all kinds all together in that bar, all connected, all feeling the pain of shock, of loss.

The TV news shifted finally to the other disaster in the making, the violence going on in and around Gaza.

The Man from Minot shook his head. "Why must we be killing each other? Why cannot we learn to get along?"

"Say it again, brother," Lionel said.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights along First Street, letting its cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 17, 2014

PAY ATTENTION TO THE THE OPEN SKY

You never know what will be coming down. This week's image is from Tammy, our in-house photog just chillin' with a traditional sunset image. But we never get tired of these.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

The summer recess is on at Silly Hall, so at least those folks cannot do any more damage for a while. This does not mean that local concerns of note take a holiday. We see on the front page of the Sun, (Vol 13, No. 46, August 14, 2014) that the private tech buses which have caused so much acrimony in other parts of the Bay Area provoked a report what looks like an op-ed piece by Michele Ellson talking about how the buses are causing havoc on High Street, a major artery that leads to a bridge off the island.

Its good the buses take dozens of cars off the street, but these drivers are not, apparently, operating with attention to the established intermodal bus locations and typically block the street when they do their pickups.

Life could be worse, people, but this is just another flag thrown on the field which signifies that too much congestion exists now to handle the present population. Don't even think about adding more people until you can resolve this issue.

In other news, we see a KALW report reprinted in the Sun. We have been supporters of KALW, an independent station since 1939 and an NPR affiliate for a while. (Their Wednesday night Blues Hour stands in for KFOG's late night Dan Ackroyd on Sunday evening.) The KALW report concerns the anticipated sealevel rise and how the Island, barely 3 feet in elevation, will handle this. Alameda Point is expected to be under four feet of water by 2100, however there is plenty of opportunity for flooding prior to that hard date.

This is important to note. 2100 is not a fixed date at which we can arrive with all of our careful plans made real and solid with nothing left to do. Prior to that, we are sure to have lots and lots of flooding, just as we had a few years ago when the entire road to the ferry landing was left four feet underwater. Climate change does not heed schedules and workplans. People, you need to act NOW! about this stuff.

The idea of adding wetlands as a buffer is a nice start, but it does not seem like anyone is acting on the plans. A seawall, along the lines of what New Orleans has on the western edge of the Mississippi facing Metarie, looks to be the most promising of plans that actually will be acted upon.

We see Grant Marcoux will be holding his fourth iteration of the Pilgrim Faire out at his blacksmith digs August 30, with live music and booths and various artists contributing their wares. Location is 101 West Tower Avenue out on the Point. Entry is free to the event, but be prepared to contribute something, if only a purchase of a handcrafted artwork. Marcoux has defined himself as a blacksmith, which is the middle ages equivalent to our 21st century network engineer. He is a Renaissance Faire ideal of a man who totally inhabits the world of DIY with primitive raw materials. A visit to his shop is worth the time to encounter a world where things made had to be made one at a time and by order.

TURN YOUR LAMP DOWN LOW

So anyway, High Summer remains in fifth gear, pedal to the metal and screeching around the corners at high speed. Wary parents and kids with families are starting to gather it all up, collect the backpacks and get in on theme tablet sales with pens and supplies kits to get ready for that awful day, first day at school.

Imbecilla Cupkake has been taking advantage of this time by posting herself outside Lucky's and CVS outlets with signs that beg for donations to the "Hapless Schoolchildren Fund". She has been taking the proceeds and using them to pay for her glue-sniffing porn video parties for kids at St. Abernathy parochial.

The kids love these events because they get more useful sex-ed information there than in a month of Sundays at St. Abernathy. They learn about things that their parents would never explain, not even if you asked. "Wow! So that's what happens when she does that!"

Ms. Morales has been enjoying the final days of summer, shopping for classroom supplies and fixing up the lesson plans while enjoying margaritas made by Mr. Sanchez in the backyard. After getting married she and he decided she would keep her name as she had established a presence working for the District now for over 24 years. In addition all the kids knew her by her family name. Her friends at the Filipino Cultural Center thought her to be quite modern.

As she sits at her desk, Mr. Sanchez comes up behind her and gently brushes the nape of her neck before passing on into the darkness of the house, his rustling movements cloaked by the sound of window fans and she closes her eyes and inhales the remaining traces of his manly scent.

The City Council also is celebrating summer by taking its traditional Recess. Rumors have it that while one Councilperson is relaxing by going to Sacto to try out various leather chairs in various offices at the Assembly (while the tenants are themselves on Recess), Mayor Marie and Vice Mayor Ezzy have enrolled in a crash course for Krav Maga so as to prepare for the upcoming electoral season and get fit for the general duties expected of the chief brickbat targets for the City. Krav Maga is, of course, the notoriously savage martial art defense system devised by the Israeli police department of Tel Aviv.

Denby has been handling this summer with its troubled weather and dangerous women by studiously avoiding public places, canceling going out, and generally avoiding the darts of that nasty little cherub floating about on stubby wings. One day Eros, who goes by many names came up to Denby who eyed the naked little boy with wariness.

"Human, how is it you can avoid me?"

"I can see you coming from a mile away, ya Cupid you." Denby said.

"How is this possible? I am invisible to the eyes of all mortals!"

"I am a musician," Denby said. "Only musicians can see and understand the approach of Love. We are Love's handmaidens."

"Tis fine to serve Love, but, O, must you be monkish maidens as well?" Eros said, notching his bow as a bevy of Dangerous Women walked by in their tantalizing summer dresses. "You know that gal in the Fireside Lounge was mine . . .".

"Monks or maidens, its all the same. We are devoted to the Muse," Denby said and took out his demigod swatter and so smacked the cherub good, putting his armaments into disarray, scattering his quiver contents.

"Ahk!" said Eros.

"Stupid Cupid," Denby said. "The things I do for Art . . .". And so Denby departed that place and went on his way, a free man. Free of Love, but not of memories of that woman who had hurt him so long ago, memories buried deep in rigid scars.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Pimenta Strife stalked the aisles and the brass rail looking for prey. Someone was going to get lucky to night. She had in mind that somebody would wake up delirious from ecstatic desire. Or the effects anyway. She was not a woman made for Romance novels. She was a woman made for the most extreme nightmares of Penthouse. She zeroed in on a man telling jokes to friends because his jeans looked a little too tight. This one will do. She was aiming for 1001 conquests in a year and this one looked easy.

"Hey guy! I want a seat and is your lap free tonight?" she began. Pimenta was anything but indirect. In a little while they went out together, the man's face flushed and excited.

At the end of a long, delightful day that began with high fog and passed into brilliant sunshine glancing off of the dancing waves, Toby and Tommy, who love each other very much and have so for many years, brought their sloop The Lavender Surprise gracefully up to the slip with a good deal of poise, dropping sail and cutting to motor within 20 yards for a most satisfying end to a perfect day on the Bay, proof that Love does not betray and derange everyone, but treats some lovers with tender care. Some are lucky, as this couple. Some are not. That is just the way things go, Eros reflects to himself, hovering over this modest success after the debacle with Denby.

In the offices of Island-Life, the Editor sits in the pool of light made by his desklamp. All of the staff have left for the evening, departing each to each to each's families and homes and situations. All employees with their own lives lived outside of Work, lives that had not the slightest concern for the Office and any importance here. In fact work for most people in America involved a daily plug to acquire resources to live life in the real Reality that was separate from the Job and this not-for-profit was no exception.

At the end of the day he could do nothing for them. One could be happy and satisfied with work that does something positive in the world, that tries a little bit, instead of just hawking tchotchkes and wares and vaporous "services". That satisfaction is not the same as raising a family and building a home, however. Nothing matches that.

And yet, it could be said the Editor loved his employees, all working for minimal wages. He loved them along the lines as described by Martin Luther King who talked about Eros, Caritas, and love in its various degrees. Although he took no wife, the Editor loved his people. He loved Tammy, the photographer, for her brilliant eye. He loved Sharon for her ill-timed social events. He loved Chad for his irascible nature and his coding. He even loved Denby for all his out-of-tune, off-key multimedia projects.

Out in the yard, the opossum ran along the fence, scampered across the open space from this bush to that.

In the Rectory, Sister Beatrice came in to find Father Danyluk snoring in his chair before the stone cold fireplace with the Keillor Reader in his lap. As the evenings are drifting toward cooler, she goes to fetch a wool blanket that she lays down around the sleeping priest. Tucking him in, as it were, for the night, Sister Beatrice pauses and then kisses the man lightly on the forehead before leaving the room and turning out the light, bearing her secrets away beneath her black robes.

There came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 10, 2014

YOU CAN DRIVE OUT NATURE WITH A PITCHFORK / IT ALWAYS COMES ROARING BACK

This week's photo comes from Island Lifer, Tammy, and is of her window where a workman lopped off a tree branch this winter, leaving all bare and cold. Seems things came back nicely.


THIS ISLAND-LIFE

Well now, well now, well now. Pushing aside the milder news about the chief School Supe Kirsten Vital splitting to be replaced pro tem by Sean McPhetridge, Ed.D., a man who has has some serious frictions with Trish Spencer, as Lauren Do says "over practically everything," we learn that Islanders are starting to savor the airborne mud that accompanies election time a bit early.

V-Day is not until November for Council seats and a surefire interesting raft of measures meant to try our patience and cost us money, but some clever soul sought fit to hire an outside poll taker firm to query people in a manner that is clearly meant to exalt incumbent Councilperson Stewart Chen while at the same time diss former Councilperson Frank Matarrese.

Like most mud slung on the hustings, this poll was larded with inaccuracies about Frank, who commented to the Sun "Sounds like a smear campaign." (Alameda Sun, Vol. 13, No. 45, August 7, 2014, Phone 'Political Poll' Raises Eyebrows, by Michele Ellson). The article effectively researches and debunks all the supposed points claimed by the poll that disparage Frank Matarrese.

Like our old friend Bernie Schwartz, who founded the Chicago branch of the AARP, used to say, "The higher you climb in public, the harder the brickbats they throw at you."

O dear.

Also in that same issue of the Sun we see that a plan for developing Seaplane Lagoon has been approved by the Silly Council, and we have no quarrel with that or most of the details. It all preserves what wants to be preserved, avoids ostentatiousness, and (given that development for $$ is going to happen anyway any how) looks to make things better looking than they are. Of course the approval happened curiously during a period when public comment was effectively excluded due to the summer vacation situation. And right after the approval the entire Silly Council went on Summer Recess. Our mainbeef resides in that developer Skidmore Owens and Merrill wants to name the new development Waterfront Town Center.

O for pete's sake.

So these wonks with the hair and perambulatory Saturday ties did not get their precious Town Centre (sic) mall to replace Southshore Mall, but must carry this bugbear everywhere they go until they get their ridiculous name pasted just anywhere just to say, "So there!" at some swanky developer's symposium in Las Vegas.

We have recently been spending time in high level meetings with lead construction foremen and an architect. We can say we find the architect sexy in a sort of feral raptor sort of way (looks beautiful, but she can tear your hand off and eat it), but developers are a lifeform that despite the best efforts to empathize and understand, always manages to display some odious attribute that makes one want to open the windows and turn on the fans to clear out the miasma in the air.

Next in line may be property management folks, but even this group contains well-meaning, angelic souls from time to time.

What is up with the "Town Center" appellation that gives these folks a jones? The kindest thing one can imagine, is that some poor dweeb in the heart of the organization has a frustrated ambition for Broadway production with all the glamour and glitz and exaltation. Hey its Big! It's Rrrrreeeeely reeeeeeelllly Big! It's bigger than Big! It's humongous! On an island barely two miles long and half a mile wide, we get a "town center" that is tucked into a corner. But it's a Town Center! And it is Big!

People who fail in Property Development, either because they are not evil enough or through incapacity, find themselves working the used car dealership circuit entirely for the erotic pleasure of the klieg light.

You may think that our persnickety POV exceeds Andy Rooney, but the Letters to the Editor put us to shame. The recent letters lambasting Walgreens for the new store anchoring Park near the bridge have a quality of irksomeness to which we must aspire.
Of course we have a number of "Drug Store" Chain Outlets sprinkled here and there for people who live here and know where they are. Take heart: with all the new development coming in, driving to any of these places will become impossible, so at least now we have a DSCO located within walking distance no matter where you live.

Besides, at least it is not another In-N-Out-Burger. . . .

Looking at the remaining summer events, now that you have rocked your standing in a crowd far from the stage kind of jones at Outside Lands, we have Treasure Island, with its own version of standing in a crowd far from the stage festival. Better things include Blues on the River up in Guernville and our house fave, Jack White, coming to own the Bill Graham Civic on Friday and Saturday 8/22-23. Saturday is Sold Out, people.

Same day, the King, as in B.B. King takes over the Warfield. If it is Blues you want and you cannot get over to Babylon, or maybe as a nightcap cocktail after BB King, you may enjoy venerable bluesmaster Charlie Musselwhite at Yoshi's on the warmer side of the Bay August 28th. It was during one of John Lee Hooker's final live public performances that we heard someone say, after the Hooker had left the stage and Musselwhite had torn into "Rough Dried Woman", "Thank god for Charlie Musselwhite!" S'truth.

LIKE THE WEATHER

The Dweeb Report indicated that after a spate of warming, we head into a dry cooling pattern. For the Sierra that means an end to the monsoons up there until something comes up from the Sea of Cortez which is likely.

We are likely to see more muggy stuff with high fog until 11 followed by hot days getting into the 90's inland. Expect a short and sharp Indian Summer in September followed by Rain-a-geddon into October and following as the predictable patterns of El Nino play themselves out.

SUMMERTIME, WHEN THE LIVIN' IS EASY

So anyway, even as a NASA spacecraft engaged in good old-fashioned comet-jacking another Supermoon swung into view Sunday evening after a day of high fog and strange breezes. Pedro Almeida is back on the fishing lanes after his boat got some needed repairs. Along with him goes his new cabinmate, Ferryboat, who seems to be taking to the sea like a pup born to sail.

Mindful that the moon has powerful effects upon the moods of animals as inclined to be wayward as moose and elk, Wootie Canootie had taken the extra effort to not only corral his charges there at the base of the Park Street Bridge, but also to fix a collar and chain to Eunice, which he drove into the ground with a foot-long stake propelled by a good nine pound hammer so as to put an end to her wandering about town. Up to now people have not complained much about her escapes, but Wootie knows well that several hundred Canadians die each year from moose attacks, and he is not wanting to take any chances in a place where people find Opossums exotic wildlife.

As he drove the stake into the paddock, Eunice gave him an accusatory female moose look that said clearly "How could you?" but Wootie couldn't be concerned about that. He couldn't risk the notoriety of a loose moose in town getting away from the famous Canadian moose tamer. People start talking about you behind your back in this town, start saying, "That Wootie can't keep his gal in the paddock," and pretty soon bye bye reputation.

Reputation in a small town is worth more to some people than their souls. Just ask old Willy Shakes, who said "Reputation, reputation, reputation! Oh, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial."

Other Island residents prepared for the second summer Supermoon each according to his or her fashion. Toni Savage got the coven together to hold their Wiccan rituals in celebration of the Goddess and fertility and the Pill (every Goddess aspect has both its Yin and its Yang) and general good energy stuff. Besides, a supermoon was a good reason to have a party. So Bettina and Babs from A Touch of Wonder Massage brought chips and salsa and Maria brought libations, including jugs of vodka and gin and Toni brought the candles.

At first there was some discussion about bringing chips to gathering like this, as chips were not considered exactly in harmony with nature and well-being and then of course there was the vodka. Bettina said the chips were made of quinoa and Maria said she had acai berry juice to mix with the vodka, so it turned out to be all good.

Down the Strand, a half mile from Crab Cove where the coven had gathered, a group from Marlene and Andre's Household had collected around a gallon jug of Old Man Burgundy and they were whooping and jumping up and down and, in comparison to the Wiccan group, being totally Koyaanisqatsi with their wretched life histories and their dreadful addictions and sinful flaws of lust and gluttony and general nervous foolishness in reaction to the oppressive wretchedness of their respective lives.

Occasional Quentin, so called because he occasionally slept in the House and when he did, occasionally did so underneath the coffee table, was particularly addicted to inanity to such an extent it was difficult for him to hold a conversation with a normal human being. He did, however, get along with dogs.

Ha ha, said Martini, the one who was fully employed as a sawboy out at the Veriflo factory. You are drunk, Felipe.

I am not, said Felipe.

You are too.

I most certainly am not.

You are soused to the gills, said Martini.

I am not, protested Felipe. I am pleasantly happy. As Ionesco says, I am only truly happy when intoxicated.

Ionesco was a drunkard. So was Socrates and all the rest of them, said Pahrump.

I am quite sober, said Felipe. In fact I never felt better in my life.

Prove it, said Martini. If you are sober try and walk along the top of that wall.

Felipe told them all to engage in a number of activities with kinfolk regarded as immoral in the states of Nebraska and Georgia, and that he would prove something to these gentlemen. Naturally, the inevitable happened and Felipe fell off of the low wall into the bushes just trying to climb up on top. When he finally managed to arrive on his hands and knees he remained there a long time as nightwalkers eyed him curiously from the pavement that ran along side of Shoreline Drive.

Slowly, he raised up one leg, then arduously, swaying, he slowly unbent himself to stand on the narrow wall as something similar to a man.

Everyone held their breath as he turned his head to face the moon sailing quietly beyond the shore above the Bay and he stood their, transmogrified into a statue, at one with the stone wall on which he stood and as the bright reflected light covered him with a kissing glow and his body seemed to glow as if suddenly blessed by some supernatural being, turning the bad sinner into a saint. Even the dogs, Bonkers, Wickiwup and Johnny Cash stood transfixed, amazed at the vision.

"La luna! La hermosa luna!" the man cried out before he fell over backwards into the weeds.

Yes, they were all good examples of Life out of balance, with scarcely one and a half terms of employment among the indolent lot, scruffy, ill-bred, ill-tempered, traumatized, PTSD plus dual diagnosis of all kinds of cognitive and emotional disorders, distempered, deranged, caustic, contagious, and inclined toward adjectival abuse to excess. But in the moment, happy enough howling at the new Supermoon and as fine examples of Island Life people as one would ever meet with not a single Realtor or property developer among them. Each one of them proved by simply existing there is a conservation of innocence.

Out by the College greensward, Senior Don Guadeloupe Erizo sat, as was his wont during times of full moon, to contemplate the mysteries of the universe while Dame Herrisson prepared the crepes inside their snug burrow beneath the hedges.

The dame poked her head from the hole. "Qu'est-ce que toi envisag maintenant?"

Which is question that does come up for all of us from time to time, and so worthy of consideration.

"I am regarding Mare Tranquilitis," answered the Don in Spanish, which of course as you know includes the meaning of "regard" on many levels.

"Ah! Bon!" said the Dame, who popped back into the burrow.

All of these animals understand all languages of the earth, but they do not speak them to us very often for concern of misapprehension.

Raucous cars driven by hooting students from Fremont High drove past Mr. Howitzer's mansion on Grand Street with posteriors pointed sans culottes at the mansion windows during his summer soiree.

"Bare-assed riff-raff," snapped Mr. Howitzer as he rapped his cane upon the tiles. "Dodd! Draw the curtains!"

In the Island-Life Offices, the Editor regarded the pool of light at his desk making its own mini-moon while all around the muttering darkness, the supermoon outside the window his sole company. All the news desks had shut down and all the staff gone home for the night, leaving only he, the man behind the curtain, the old man getting older and left with only memories and a few scars, themselves a form of physical memory of things which had happened long ago and far away in the land of green butterflies.

Indeed, surrounded by darkness and muttering silences, the Editor did it all for Company. Despite all odds, surrounded by the darkness, within his pool of light and the supermoon above, somewhere out there persists the Perfect Reader who is Company.

Overhead, the Supermoon, second of this summer of supermoons, sailed on with tranquil bliss while far down below, Eunice the moose grabbed hold of her chain and yanked up the spike embedded into the earth, which flipped up to ride high above her collar extending point high into the air. Carrying her chain with the spike dropping nuggets of earth, she hopped over the corral fence and so began to wander the down, providing visions of some fabulous horse-like beast with a spike emerging from its head.

In this fashion, Eunice descended towards the aurora of candlelight that was the Wicca celebration at Crab Cove. And as she stepped into the circle of dancers, seeking only female moose companionship, there came from far off across the water the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the former Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown.

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

 

AUGUST 3, 2014

HOME IS WHERE I WANNA BE

This image comes from our peripatetic artist James who has been snapping images of Babylon during his rambles. This one is of a fire hydrant on California Street.

Yowza California!

CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN

Its been a while since we visited the Oaktown Art & Soul. Not since it was a free event have we strolled past Frank Ogawa Plaza for fear that this event would have fallen victim as have many promising Oaktown events to gang-banging nonsense and violence.

Happy to say, the wonderfully salt and pepper crowd kept a smooth groove and most of the emotion was in hooking up with old friends and sudden pleasurable encounters with old colleagues. Live some place long enough this does happen.

While the distinctively Afro-American flavor ruled most of the proceedings this is one venue where a White person can get away with wearing a Proud to be Black button and get away with it.

The Hip hop poppers did their breaks and the poetry slammers slammed their words and there was a BBQ throwdown in which all comers won out in some fashion.

We did a beeline for our house favorite and longtime bluesman Tommy Castro.

He does not wear a black T-shirt stretched over his muscular frame anymore and his once sporty black hair cut close to the head now flies about in gray wisps but the man who ran the "hardest working band in the Bay Area" for years still cranks out high voltage funk/blues to do James Brown proud.

 

EVERYTHING I DO IS BAD FOR ME

So anyway, Summer suddenly happened with a day of 80 plus temps along the coast and triple digits out past Concord. The Almeida family enjoyed the unexpected wealth of Pedro taking a few days off fishing to recover from the injuries he sustained when the net hauled in a Great White that nearly killed him and did some damage to the boat.

Nick Tongzhi, the Asian man who rented the slip one over from Pedro's commercial boat paid him a cool $1,500 in cash for the fins, which Pedro knew was a blackmarket transaction, but what the heck. It would help pay for some of the damage the thing had caused thrashing around like some fishy stationwagon, for it easily had been bigger than that. Pedro could have bartered higher, but after what had happened he just wanted to get the thing off his shattered deck. Other people paid him for chunks of shark steak, so the destroyed stanchion was nearly paid for just with this fish.

"Where your dog?" asked Nick.

"Gone to the Mountain," said Pedro, their communal reference in banter to that place from which no man or dog returns.

"Ah. That is bad. He was good dog," Nick said. "I look in his eyes and see Satori. I burn incense for him."

Of course no payment can replace a devoted friend. Tugboat's body went down near the Farralones and he would never caper upon the wharf ever again in this life.

Gawpers came to stare at the famous boat which had taken a fifteen footer Great White and at the splinters and pellet holes from the shotgun and all the blood until Spiro helped Pedro hose everything down as Pedro's leg was in a cast and Spiro laid a plastic tarp to shield things until repairs could start.

Over at Boatworks, the evaluator looked things over and asked, "How the heck this happen?"

"Great White," Pedro said.

"Yeah? Heavy losses."

"Yeah. Lost a cabinmate."

"Say no more. We'll fix you up."

So the time came around, because Tugboat had been more than just a work animal around the house, that the inevitable had to be endured.

All of the Almeida clan, including the irascible Teen and the Baby with the Bottom, went over to the Island Shelter. There were plenty of breeds and hounds and pups of distinction. The teen seemed enamored of the young Weimariner. The Baby with the Bottom favored the daschund puppy. Mrs. Almeida preferred the pitbull pup, for she had defense of the chicken coop in mind.

In the far corner Pedro found a cage with a pup that had bandaged paws. When he reached in, the animal snapped at him at first, then regarded him balefully with angry eyes from the corner where it crouched on top of a towel.

"O that one," the shelter staffer said. "He was found in a crack house after a police raid. Looks like he was pretty much abused and he will need a lot of TLC. His mother died soon after she arrived because of the abuse. His name is Fairy Boat. At least that is what the linestaff named him."

Pedro sat down and looked at Fairy Boat and said, "Well how is it going to be?"

In a little while, with all the Almeidas engaged in vigorous disputation and the Baby with the Bottom having made his fame twice to the point that the kids were wanting to put him in the cage with the excitable daschunds, Pedro came walking down the path with a puppy in his arms, a puppy with bandaged legs. "Everybody, meet Ferryboat."

That night the young opossum crept along the fence and under the woodpile to the garden where he was fond of nibbling the potato plant shoots. As the waning moon arose in a crescent he looked with longing at the tomatoes, well guarded by nylon mesh. From there he ambled in young discovery up to the big house with its old woodframe windows, many open due to the recent heat wave. At the back sill, he peered in and was confronted by a woolly face who regarded him with some distrust mingled with some curiosity while all within snored asleep, enmeshed in watery dreams.

Dog meet opossum. Opossum meet dog. "Woof" went Ferryboat, and the nameless opossum snarfled, dropped down to the ground and ambled along the ivy-clad fence to such opossum destinations as make sense to opossums engaged in any activity that is not playing dead.

Having successfully defended his new territory, the young Ferryboat descended to his basket and curled up there in a satisfied sleep.

In the still of the cooling summer night, the homeboys rumbled in their sleek machines with chromed mags, purple highlights, frames lowered to less than an inch above the pavement, and hair slicked back, looking for places and people to impress now that the sideshows all were done. Barefoot girls sat on the hoods of the quietly ticking engines, sipping Red Tail from the bottle as a soft sizzle of brief rain glistened the ends of their hair just so much it was July merging into August with all the hills so far away gone golden with that imported European grass and the nightbirds calling: Summer. It is Summer.

It is the Summer of incredible things. The tomatoes in the Valley have yet to burgeon into something amazing. Once teammates were considered poisonous. It is the Summer, right now, in this moment, when the Brazilian crowd all stood to applaud the victors with honor and grace as their own hometown team went down in terrific flames before the eyes of the entire world. It is the summer when the Oaktown A's smashed one home for this underdog city. It is the summer when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame evicted Alan Freed. It is the summer when Love came to Town. It is the Summer you will always remember. It is the summer of California's terrific and horrible drought when the entire cherry crop failed; did you know that? It is the summer of magnificence and wonder. It is the summer of four Supermoons, when anything is possible. It is the summer when the street scene is fraught with anger and recriminations and pictures of cops doing terrible things to people. It is the summer of incredible courage and cops performing courageously, but . . . just not in your town. It is the summer when Kid Viper, Golden Gloves champ, gunned his Chevy and laid down a patch half a block long downtown, nevermind the sideshow ban. It is the Summer of the Ebola virus outbreak and zombie apocalypse. It is the summer when the girl put out the bedroom light and in the loft, so soft, silence and surrender, followed by explosive knowing. It is the summer when we came to the comet instead of the otherway around. It is the Summer when you, incredibly, did something. And so, what then, did you do this summer . . . ? What is it that you will always remember? You will never ever have another chance at this very same summer of chances. Time is a spherical prison and there is no escape. Do now what you may not be allowed to do later. Bite that tomato. Drink down the juice. Right now. Do it while you can.

Marlene stepped out into the ironmongery garden with the struggling vines attempting to make something of themselves. They had been watering with recycled bath water but the lack of sun this year had hit the crops fairly hard. The tomato plants had scarcely achieved bush status knee-high when they began producing. Alone, a solitary cherry hung on a sere branch. Marlene took hold of it and it came loose easily. In the quiet of the evening the young opossum scampered along the fence and toward the area that was all protected by mesh, possibly in hope that the succulent greens there would somehow be rendered naked for consumption.

Instead the creature continued on to the next yard where oranges remained on the untended trees.

Marlene bit into the tomato and experienced all the flavors and wonder of pure nature without maturation gasses and trucking and insecticide and years of over breeding. In short, the flavor of pure tomato. No wonder things like ebola and crop rust happen upon us.

From far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of memory's shadows on the edge of town past the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown..

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

 

JULY 27, 2014

WINTER'S JUST THE CURTAIN / SPRING WILL TAKE THE BOW

This week's photo comes from Native Californio and artist friend, Catherine Harris.

ALL AROUND THE WORLD

It was the 30th anniversary of the annual Art and Wine Faire on Park Street. The annual event has proved to be so durable and popular that the commemorative glasses in which wine and beer are served at the event now fetch top dollar as memorabilia due to the date years printed on the glass.

One could not have asked for better cloud-free blue skies weather on a weekend that saw many events hosted around the Bay.

Treasure Island held its Flea Market in the middle of the Bay and many thousands flocked there on their way to our own little island.

Launched with a mission to support local artists and entrepreneurs, the Treasure Island Flea debuted Memorial Day 2011 by the Ansanelli family. Three years later the monthly event (every last full weekend) has become a Bay Area hallmark and is Northern California’s largest monthly gathering of artists, collectors, designers, crafters and food trucks. In addition the event showcases local musicians, entertainers and hosts a full bar with local wines, beers, and spirits. The event has been coined “the Festival of the Bay” and attracts an average attendance of 15,000.

Ansanelli Productions is a family run event company led by husband, wife and oldest son trio: Charles Sr., Angie, and Charlie Jr. Ansanelli. The family also runs more conventional flea markets in Oakland.

The food there is a cut above the average taco truck special you find at things like the event held at the O.Co lot. Also there was live music and we always endorse live music.

Also taking place this weekend was the Oakland Pedalfest, a celebration of all things bicycle. Instead of the usual boring array of vendors hawking tchotchkes (there was some of that as well, but happily subdued and focussed on the subject theme) the fest featured active demos, live music powered electrically "green" by folks on bicycles, stunt shows highlighting daredevils on wheels, and the ever-popular wooden velodrome with its banked Track of Death plus a lot more. Stompy Jones dished out a nice platter of big band jump 'n jive swing suitable for anyone wearing a zoot suit. Or even, y'know, cargo shorts. Everything went down on Saturday.

In other news we see again a front page article about the usurious rental situation that is fast becoming a nasty bit of business around here and which has virtually destroyed the lives of people living on the edge in SF, causing artists and musicians and people born and raised there to flee the place to come either here to the East Bay or to leave the Bay Area entirely. Which is bad, because the people who take their place are obnoxious, arrogant, selfish, pricks having too much money to be handled safely.

In the article "Rising Rents Pinch Tenants" (Michele Ellson, Alameda Sun, Vol 13, No. 43, July 24, 2014), the writer states a survey conducted by Renewed Hope indicates that Islanders are feeling pinched by rents that have skyrocketed way above the Realtor-set imaginary boundary of 25-30% of gross income. Generally, property management understands that when rents exceed 30% of the lessee's income, trouble is sure to follow.

We had a look at RenewedHope, which appears to be a local group distinct from a larger group that handles substance abuse survivors. The Url is http://www.renewedhopehousing.org/ and although some links appear dead, there are plenty of links to public documents that may prove useful to people researching the whole housing thing involving the "housing element" inclusions which have proved to be so contentious, especially with regards to the McKay Avenue project.

It's been observed by many economic wonks that gross income has not increased for most Americans over the past 15-20 years, leaving just about every middle income family unit in dire straits as out-of-state property management jacks rents with the expectation that high-income earners will bring in hefty profits at a steady rate increasing exponentially over time.

Some groups in this area blame Hi-tek companies like Google and HP and Avaya (Microsoft is located in Seattle) for bringing in an influx of yuppies who have no roots here and who don't care about what they do to the markets, but the truth is that how these people are paid does not matter as the process would pursue the natural effects of widespread greed regardless of whether Hi-Tek or BioMed was involved. There sure are a lot of sub-MD medicos running around making pots of money, but nobody points a finger at them because Hi-Tek has the media pizzaz to draw attention to itself.

Google Glass at $300 bucks a pop? Well, there you go. Thrust your wealth in people's faces why don't you. That kind of behavior used to be called "crass".

So we are back to high rents and the reasons they are jacking up. In reality, when the housing bubble burst and millions of people lost their homes, what we saw was a continuing of the avarice unabated as people who used to scalp on the housing market turned to gouging on the rental market. This led to a pressure to drive up prices, forcing owners who did NOT want to increase rents to do so for fear of retaliation from colleagues in the business.

Then again. Real estate and property combined make a weird business that operates by different "understandings" from all other businesses. For the longest time the assumption was that property value never, never, never goes down. This fueled a delusion that in real estate the rule was that you had to make a profit every week, every month, every year, continuously year in and year out.

Well, every business would like that to be reality, but the truth is expecting this and demanding it to be god-sworn truth is crazy, for no business in the world expects to do that realistically, not even Bank of America.

In reality, every business -- and this includes property ownership -- must anticipate taking a loss sometime, somehow, someway. Typically businesses hedge against lean times with insurance, with multiple ownership, with distributing ownership among partners, with thoughtful improvements, with setting aside reserve funds for emergencies, with all kinds of methods. But nobody can really DEMAND profit, and exorbitant, over the top, exponentially increasing profit from month to month. That is just not being on the same planet as everyone else selling stuff.

Where does this leave us? A large number of local property owners sticking their heads in the sand while out-of-town owners gouge for every last silver dime, secretly delighting at first that someone seems to be resolving all of their problems about "problem tenants" and complainers, and then deciding to jump on the bandwagon of greed with announcement "I am going to get mine since he got his."

The lone holdouts (we have talked to you and we have heard what you have to say) get pressured by their associations, who claim "Hey, you are holding things back for the rest of us with your 'below market rents'. Be a mensch and do the same as we are doing. Okay?"

Right now forces against the gouging are gathering in significant numbers. Some property management folks think a rent control ordinance is the worst of what can happen, but to tell the truth, looking at just how many people are very, very angry about the way things have gone, there are quite a lot of events just as thorny which can happen in the meantime leading up to that.

Eventually it will come to pass nothing benefits anybody. Small lot owners of things like Duplexes and Fourplexes would be hard hit by rent control, not to mention the In-Law owners just trying to hand onto their home with tooth and nail. Landlords would hold units open for months, or even years, for fear of getting a "bad tenant" who is difficult to evict.
The way things are going, it may take two or even three elections before it passes, but the end result looks to be inevitable, should greed continue to be the main agent in the marketplace. After all, without rent control, sky's the limit, right? After all, the present situation is untenable and cannot continue.

AINT NO CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES

So anyway, Reverend Shouter of the Adelphian Iglesia del Luz de los Cajóns de Estacionamiento del Mundo held a shindig with catered food and hired musicians, and like most of the Reverend's shindigs, this one started out on Monday around 7 am and lasted all day to 10pm where everyone took a break before returning the following day, repeating this into Sunday. This overlapped the popular Park Street Fair, so the Reverend resolved any potential issues for his congregation arriving from Fremont by means of blocking off sections of the street for parking. Come the days of the Fair, no one could find parking for blocks in all directions -- The Faire started at 10 am and the Reverend's people had snapped up every available space from 7am onwards.

their religion spoke against parking garages.

Organizers at the Faire were left scratching their heads as people drove around aimlessly cursing until people got shunted to the public parking garage across from the police station. Which structure the Adelphians were supposed to use, but their religion spoke against parking garages. Indeed their religion is unusual in its disdain for things like common courtesy.

Reverend Shouter observed the chaos from his belfry and saw that all was good and so he descended and spoke a great sermon unto the multitude gathered there before they broke up to eat from the buffet and enjoy tea dancing while the Reverend Shouter tallied the take from the mandatory donations contributed at the door.

"Praise the Lord, we cleared well over $1,000 after expenses!" The reverend told Brother Sucios.

"Indeed a mighty cash till is our god," said the Brother.

"Indeed a mighty cash till is our god," said the Brother. "And all tax-free."

"Bountiful is the lord of creation," said the Reverend, who was mighty pleased to have found the Way after many dark years of laboring as an auto mechanic.

With the rollback of clouds, the Bay Area entered into a heat spell that announced the occurrence of Summertime.

California trout are known worldwide for their cunning and moody disposition.

For Eugene, this meant a segue from poodle-hunting to the more gentlemanly sport of trout fishing. California trout are known worldwide for their cunning and moody disposition. It is not unusual to find an angler crawling on his belly with his rod and creel dragging behind as he sets himself up to cast a meticulously tied fly in just such a manner that the artificial bait loops over the water surface as if alive.

Everything about trout fishing in the Sierra is as meticulous as it is ritualistic. The only fish who commands more respect and awe may possibly be the Steelhead, for which an entirely separate license must be procured.

Even the handmaking of the lures, the tying of flies, involves carefully defined, precise procedures that are handed down from father to son, mentor to mentee, guru to acolyte.

Eugene begins with diligent research into the nature, hue, and appearance of the individual bugs eaten by trout according to their moods at specific times of the year. Then there are the insect stages of life from nit to pupae, to larvae to full-grown bug. Eugene gathers natural materials as often as possible, raiding owl nests, harvesting marsh plants, combing even his own hair. While the CD player spins the music of Paco Lucia through the air, the material is carefully and artfully arranged on a bodice of cork around the number 12, number 16, number 21 hook. He keeps a few number 8's in the form of wonderfully lifelike locusts, tiger beetles, caddis flies, but for the prized Golden Trout he reserves hooks flatlanders would disdain as puny.

The hook must not be too big, or the wary trout will turn aside with a look of disdain hautiness.

Once the legs and antennae, have been attached one by one with painstaking precision, Eugene studies his meticulous work via a loupe in his kitchen, making careful notes and comparing his artwork to images in a thick tome titled An Entomological Guide to the Sexipodal Fauna Endemic to the High Sierra: A Field Reference for Scientists and Anglers.

Then, setting aside his jeweler's loupe and putting on his Vasque size 11's he drops the artwork on the kitchen floor and stomps on it in a great fury of emotion three times. Then and only then, is the masterpiece considered finished, for no art is worth anything without passion. Just like flamenco.

Into the mountains Eugene then goes each year to the same lake, hiking along the trail miles from any road, following the stream up along the old lava flows, past narrow chasms and gorges and waterfalls, until he arrives at the pristine Lake Martha on the edge of Wotan's Parking Lot and just at the base of Mount Goddard. An arm of Goddard extends south on the far shore, reflecting the multihue granite cliffs in the mirror surface. Beyond that wall tumbles the wild and remote Ionian Basin.

Cutthroats are not found in the Sierra save by accident of poor directions and bad maps

From Lake Martha the trout variation called the golden trout is thought to first have diverged. Rainbows and brookies are very fine and well worth hiding behind a boulder to hook if you can. Browns are imports and they put up a good fight. Cutthroats are not found in the Sierra save by accident of poor directions and bad maps. Walleye may be unique and a particular treat upon the palate in some regions of the country, but the golden trout, however, is prized for its extraordinary beauty and high intelligence.

You can talk to a walleye and he just might listen, but the golden trout speaks to a man's soul.

And each year, Eugene comes to this same lake in search of the one golden trout he met long ago on the trip when he accidentally fetched along a canteen filled with Padraic's mysterious home brew which has been known to cause magical visions.

all who saw him remarked there was something odd about him

On that trip as Eugene dozed beside the austere lake the California King Golden emerged its massive head and spoke to him, commanding him to observe the spiritually pure ways of the trout fisherman. And the man arose, and Lo! it was as if his being filled with light, golden light, from the radiant fish who then vanished. And he came down from the glacial plateau that is Wotan's Parkinglot and reentered the roiling crowded world of man and spoke as if transubstantiated to a being from a higher plane of existence and indeed all who saw him remarked there was something odd about him.

Father Richard Danyluk, who also knew a thing or two about transubstantiation, took a more prosaic approach in his quest for average, plain old perch and rockfish. About the most exotic take from the Cove would be a lost halibut or leopard shark.

The light ebbed and flowed as the recent hot skies yielded to the front coming up from the Sea of Cortez, crossing the Sonoran desert, passing over the little knots of parched wannabe immigrants carrying their plastic water jugs, guided by ruthless coyotes and dodging the Border Patrol, sprinkling a bit of moisture over the Judas trees before causing wisps to gather again above the Island to create mini dry thunderstorms, heat lightning with all the fans in all the apartments cranked up to push the air heavy with premonition sluggishly from room to room.

Father Danyluk reeled in one last cast and called it a day with the shadows getting longer and went off to supper prepared by Sister Incontinence, which turned out to be frozen salmon from Alaska, since the local runs have petered out due to climate change and the exuberance of the Army Corps of Engineers who sought to outdo all government agencies once upon a time in building dams from Point Reyes up to Yreka, eliminating (more or less) the danger of flooding along 900 miles of coastline, but effectively destroying the world's largest steelhead fishing industry. In the Sierra, the moody trout warily eyed the surface and listened for footsteps. No one knows really what the trout can see, and that is the truth.

Out through the Golden Gate Pedro motored his boat, El Borracho Perdido, a more real and honest fisherman than any described to this point. Getting grizzled and hoary in his age, with the kids all gravitating to more sensible and modern occupations, like software development for fruity devices and plushy wares for mini things that required a pleasant electrical socket. He had left the house without his customary shave, having too many things to do, kids pulling right and left. The teenager glowering in the corner with his iPad. Something amiss in that kid.

Well, he did not complain about that. The children were supposed to surpass their fathers and in this task most of them looked to be well on the way, including both the irascible teen and the baby Tucker with the famous bottom. In fact, some say the task of the son is to destroy the father entirely, acting out some ancient Greek formula, but this is really an artifice to create drama. Sons and fathers in the American West have enough problems without Oedipus stepping in there with his Jungs getting all Freudened.

He had only himself as he was, a simple man devoted to fishing for a living. For him it had been an occupation into which you stepped because the next step logically and by all reason was to fish because that is what you knew and that was all you were allowed to know at the time and there were no other reasonable options. He got a boat on the cheap from Spiro, and he knew how to fish from his father and his uncle and he had the equipment handed down to him, so he fished and that is how he managed to pay the bills.

So that is how Pedro, getting grizzled along the hairline along with Tugboat his trusty Labrador with the graying muzzle found themselves motoring out to the fishing grounds, nowadays defined by radar and maps at the usual hour of the wee hours of the morning for most of us landlubbers.

St. Elmo's fire danced along the rigging

Lightening played on the horizon and the front up from the Sea of Cortez brought its own electrical excitement. St. Elmo's fire danced along the rigging and gave even Tugboat an halo as if that experienced dog possessed a sudden spirituality to make Reverend Shouter envious.

"Woof?"

And now, with the waves chopping gently on this night of waning Supermoon, the radar glowing dimly to show the schools, his beard rough, he remembered all the troubled times, all the vicissitudes that everybody experiences getting through Life and wondered what comes next, what in particular remained in store for him.

"You just may die in a moment if you do not figure out something quick . . .".

Into the early hours his net brought up something heavy and out from the bag a massive Great White started thrashing about on the deck. It was a good fifteen feet long and its great tail smashed the starboard light stanchion as it flailed caught in the ropes. Pedro stepped in with the Mossberg riot gun to put it down. The thing rolled with its eyes glaring with fury and knocked Pedro aside, sending the shotgun over to the wheelhouse. The deck yawed, Pedro's foot caught on the net, and he pitched backwards. The thing bowed and flipped and in coming down the massive head fell on him knocking out his wind and Pedro found himself pinned down staring at the massive jaws, the teeth of the beast and suddenly all values had shifted, as they had in the past under similar conditions with the simple statement, "You just may die in a moment if you do not figure out something quick or Lady Luck passes by".

Tugboat leapt upon the fish and seized it by what passes for a neck, tearing a great rent and letting loose a flood of red shark blood. The shark thrashed and tossed Tugboat aside, but this gave Pedro enough space to get out from under the animal and retrieve the gun.

splintering the gunnels and sending metal fittings scattering

The shark grabbed his right leg as he checked the gun and Tugboat leapt again to assault the creature about the eyes. Pedro fired twice into the primeval brain of the creature at close range but it refused to let him go so he shoved the barrel into its mouth along his thigh and fired again, which at least loosened the jaws enough the man could break free by prying the jaws with the gun, shooting again through the roof of its mouth. He stood and fired again at the base and after a long minute, splintering the gunnels and sending metal fittings scattering across the deck as the thing's tail thrashed about, the light finally left its eyes.

Pedro fell back against the wheelhouse with his leg bleeding while Tugboat staggered to the fore end of the boat dancing on the chop and there lay down among the ropes.

After a bit, Pedro got himself into the wheelhouse and bandaged up his torn leg because he knew he had to do that or pass out. Then he put on a fresh pair of trousers and oilskins. He went outside to find the body of Tugboat there, washed by the overspray.

Near the Farralones, as the seas quieted momentarily to a gentle swell, the ocean appeased for the moment with its small sacrefice, he let go the body of his old friend, ten years now keeping company, letting the sea take what it always wants, what it always demands in payment for a lifetime of giving up itself, making all accounts even on the ledger, harsh though it may be.

When Pedro returned early, seeing him limping up the walk along without the familiar black shadow beside him and his face all haggard, Ms. Almeida knew something had happened.

Later that day the kids wanted to know "Where's Tugboat?", but the truth was that grey-muzzled Tugboat would romp no more on the green earth. Of coral his bones were made and pearls, his eyes.

From far off across the water came the mournful ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of memory's shadows on the edge of town past the memento mori of the old Ohlone shellmounds to parts unknown..

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

 

JULY 20, 2014

INTO THE MYSTIC

This week's foto comes from fellow Islander and FB friend, John Curley, who possesses a talented eye for images. Kinda says it all about the Island Life here.

LIFE AINT EASY

Things are heating up early this summer for a hot political season leading up to November's midterm elections, normally a sleeper time of little interest.

The opening of the season kicked off with an expected somnolent response from candidates seeking office, where here the brick-bat target called the Mayor's Office now opens up but with few seriously inclined to unseat Mayor Marie for the title of Chief Abuse Recipient in Silly Hall. Mayor Marie is running for reelection with not much to oppose her. Stewart Chen is running for re-election as Councilperson.

Former CP Frank Matarrese is pitching his hat in the ring along with a former aid to Rob Bonta. Lena Tam terms out, so even if Chen is no-contest, hope remains for Frank, whom we have always liked for his commonsense approach to things.

Among other positions we have seats on the contentious Health Care District Board, still viable despite the absorption of the Hospital into the County system due to interagency agreements. Among these we have the seats of Tracy Jensen, Robert Deutsch and Lynn Bratchett which determine how the indelible parcel tax will be spent.

In other news, most of the public news remains irrelevant. What we do see as relevant is the recent movement over there in Babylon to address the out-of-control rent situation that is destroying the communities over there and which is slowly, inexorably wrecking life here in the East Bay. Finally, finally, finally, some people are looking up to realize that average apartment rentals starting at $2,300 for a Studio is obscene, destructive and bad for the community in general.

It remains to be seen what comes of this minor revolt, which resembles an "anti-gouging" revolt that took place in New Orleans several years ago before the Katrina disaster derailed everything.

Just sayin', there is a precedent to what is going on.

Statewide we recently had a significant Court decision handed down regarding the Death Penalty. A federal court judge in Orange County today declared California's death penalty system unconstitutional, calling its administration so "dysfunctional" that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

In a 29-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, overturned the death sentence of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to death in Los Angeles in 1995 for the killing three years earlier of his girlfriend's mother.

"Nearly two decades later, Mr. Jones remains on California's death row, awaiting his execution, but with complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether, it will ever come," Carney wrote. "Mr. Jones is not alone. Since 1978, when the current death penalty system was adopted by California voters, over 900 people have been sentenced to death for their crimes.

"Of them, only 13 have been executed," he wrote. "For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California's death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution. Indeed, for most, systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death.

"As for the random few for whom execution does become a reality, they will have languished for so long on death row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary."

Some of the blame is owed to the state's underfunded death penalty system, Carney wrote. Some inmates wait three to five years on average just for an attorney to be appointed to handle their appeal, he noted.

A state bipartisan commission "found the state's underfunding of its death penalty system to be a key source of the problem. For example, the commission noted that despite the high volume of applicants willing to represent death row inmates from the security of an agency setting, the Office of the State Public Defender's budget has been cut and its staff reduced," Carney wrote.

Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, who is running for state Senate, called on lawmakers and the governor to spend more to improve the legal process for death penalty cases.

"While I strongly disagree with the decision and hope it is overturned on appeal, I urge the Legislature and the governor to immediately work to save and improve the death penalty law to protect it from future judicial edicts," Nguyen said. "Other states have figured this out, so can California."

Since 1978, 94 of the more than 900 inmates sentenced to death have died behind bars before execution could be carried out, Carney wrote. Thirty-nine inmates won appeals and were not re-sentenced to death. There are 748 inmates on Death Row awaiting execution or rulings on appeals.

"As the size of California's death row grows larger and larger, so too do the delays associated with it," Carney wrote. "Of the 748 inmates currently on California's death row, more than 40 percent, including Mr. Jones, have been there longer than 19 years. Nearly all of them are litigating the merits of their death sentence, either before the California Supreme Court or the federal courts."

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, told City News Service that Carney's ruling was a "big deal." The next step legally depends on how the state responds, Chemerinsky said.

"I assume if the governor and attorney general disagree with the ruling then they will appeal to the 9th Circuit," Chemerinsky said.

After that, the U.S. Supreme Court may take up the case, Chemerinsky said.

"I think it's a very courageous ruling based on the facts and the reality," said Chemerinsky, who argued two death penalty cases before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal when he was a professor at Duke University.

"It's a very important and well-reasoned decision," Chemerinsky said. "I think Judge Carney is right that the way the death penalty is administered in California is so arbitrary and capricious as to be unconstitutional."

Los Angeles County's former district attorney, Gil Garcetti, agreed, saying the ruling "proves that the death penalty is broken beyond repair."

"It is exorbitantly costly, unfair and serves no legitimate purpose whatsoever. The only solution is to replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole," Garcetti said.

John Van de Kamp, former state attorney general and chairman of the bipartisan commission cited in Carney's ruling, said recommendations were made to speed up the legal process.

"We provided recommendations to improve the system, including providing funds to hire more attorneys and judges to move cases through the appeals process more quickly," Van de Kamp said. "To date, none of our recommendations have been implemented.

"The facts are overwhelming and clear: California's death penalty system is dysfunctional," he added. "The lack of any meaningful progress to implement the Commission's recommendations over the past six years adds fuel to Judge Carney's decision today."

Just saying for the record we are evenly split here on the Death Penalty issue in the Offices, with some in favor for crimes against children, and some entirely against.


BE CAREFUL WITH A FOOL

Here are a few upcoming events that may not gleam bright on the radar, but which look to be interesting nonetheless.

The Peralta Hacienda in Oaktown, located off Coolidge Avenue in the Thirties, is a rare jewel of a place just chock full of historical value and staffed by quite delightfully talented people who run all sorts of entertaining fundraising events and freebies to call attention to the last vestige of Spanish colonialism in Alta California.

They will be holding various events through the summer, all of which are worth devoting a few hours of leisure towards.

August 9 & 10 at the Hacienda!
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK-A Midsummer's Night Dream.

Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park invites you to the event of the summer. This is the 2nd year that the Vallejo Shakespeare Group brings us Shakespeare! The seating will be picnic style so bring your blankets. However, we shall have umbrellas, Easy Ups tents and chairs that will be placed on the perimeter of the stage for those who wish standard seating and shading.

Refreshments will be available.

PERALTA HACIENDA - Active Duty service members and their families enter FREE!

We shall continue with our Blue Star museum participation Wednesdays thru Sundays 2:30-5:30p: Peralta Hacienda Historical Park join other museums throughout America in welcoming our active duty service members and their families free. We offer an opportunity for the service member to tell their stories under the story horse for small groups of 15. For groups up to 36 we can schedule the service member stories to be shared in the Center for History and Community!

PERALTA HACIENDA - CommUNITY Choice
August 5, 2014 6 pm-8 pm
National Night Out
CommUNITY Choice Connections!

This year the Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park continues with our partnering with the Oakland Police Department. We shall have a full event of free food/ and foods from around the globe. Community Meeting-7-7:30p: Cameras and ...(CORE area). Hear the . A.C.E. Camp updates. Music. Soccer. Social Service Info. Money Management. Face painting by Jennifer shall be free the first hour. Bring your Flag as we plan for United NEIGHtions (Slanting towards neighbors) Day for October 2014.

Sign up to Volunteer once a month for park clean up or in any of our many other endeavors. See your Councilman, Noel Gallo; Neighborhood Services Coordinator, Ana Martinez and meet your Problem Solving Officer! We are a Blue Star Museum. Become a Time Traveler: Become a member here and you may get in free at another museum in America. Some "Oakland Tales" books for the older children available from author, Summer Brenner. School supplies.Sign up for "Seniors @ Oakland Museum" with Mrs. Monroe.

Get information on completing StoryCorps recording of you and a dear friend or Family member. Child Safe(Nino Seguro) Kits! Scavenger Hunt the whole Six acres. Shakespeare in the Park flyers! Rent our Center for History and Community. Prizes, prizes, prizes!


MEAN TOWN BLUES

So anyway, the Island Limpets faced off against their archrivals, the Babylon Stompers this week at Willie Stargell Field, and there was some hope among the faithful that the game would not be quite so dismal as historically recorded, due to being held this year on hometown turf.

The Limpets have not won a game against the Babylon team since the memorable game that took place in August of 1916 when the great Cable Car strike decimated the opposing team, when Babylon members went off to combat the workers on the line in the City, taking away all the team-members who knew a thing or two about handling a bat or similar weapon. The score for that game had ended up 9 to zip in favor of the home team and the Limpets had not won a single game since then.

In any case, old guard Islanders filed into their seats and made ready with overpriced hot dogs and bad lukewarm beer sold from the concession and their purple Limpets Roar fundraiser mugs and sat with every expectation that perhaps, this year, things would be different as they watched their team trot out onto the field with their patched uniforms, their hand-me-down gloves passed on from father to son or via donations from devoted fans, their well-worn caps and their scarred bat bags filled with American hickory and it was almost 1916 again with the sun golden on the drought-sere stubble that lined the backstop area and the undulating hills beyond you could see from the very top of the sea-green stands.

As a stadium it did not match anything like Pac Bell Park over in Babylon, but here in this arena great deeds had been done by Olympians the world shall not see again. It was hear that the great Babe Ruth had come to smack a homer so far above the fence and out of the park that nobody ever found the ball save for Mrs. Agendath who discovered this ripped up hardball among her mustard greens several months and several miles away.

Indeed, in baseball, of all the sports, there is no Time.

There is no time out, no pause from the referee in baseball. The game lasts nine innings and as long as it takes nine innings, so lasts the game.

Right from the beginning, when Flannery pitched a low inside that the Babylon leftie Barthes knocked out of the park that they were in trouble. First, Arnold, then Pater, then Ruskin landed singles, leaving it to Hulme to send it all home for a score of 3 to zip.

With Hulme on third, Babbit snagged a double as Shelly bobbled and Eliot dribbled.

With two up, Edmund Wilson loaded the bases when shortstop "Papa Hem" managed to capture the pop fly from Ken Burke. Billy Faulkner collided with John Crowe Ransome on a line drive from Northrop Frye, leaving third baseman Vidal to tag out Mailer in a rare athletic pivot and deft move before finally ending the rout at 7-0 in a hardball to second baseman Alcott.

The players boiled out of the dugouts with Coach Wimsatt Beardsley shouting, "That was intentional!" and Coach Wilde shouting, "That's fallacious and a lie!"

Thus ended the first inning and all the experienced veterans from the Limpets side proceeded to get very drunk on whiskey flasks, knowing how things would proceed from there on out.

From the very beginning the Crushers had danced onto the field with their very own hired DJ, all sporting spiffy new uniforms, brand new well oiled gloves and equipment provided gratis by loyal sponsors. Victory was theirs by right and birth and they had only arrived to claim their documents pro forma.

Their ballboy was named Roland Barthes and his family came from good people with pots of money invested in solid offshore investments. And everything they did glittered with grand success.

It was late into the Ninth, with the score something so abysmal that recording the stats caused faint hearted individuals to swoon and fade away, when the Limpits and the visitors awoke from dreamy somnolence to discover all bases loaded, Cather on first, London on second, and Crane on third with Stein up to bat.

The Crushers so wanted to make this evening a total shutout. Everyone knew the game was rigged and their victory assured and delivered by all the usual parties, but securing a shutout, well that would certainly prove something of their superiority. Of course they would win -- they had paid handsomely for that. Everybody knew it and because everybody knew it, victory was yet a bittersweet thing. But the shutout, that was another story. That became a matter of pride, and pride for folks like the Crushers and their people, that was an all-encompassing thing. It had to prove they had won not because they had paid for the game from the get go but because they were by nature, superior, better, deserving of all they got.

In the late afternoon, with the sun setting behind the hills, with the score abysmal and the count two for two, the pitcher, Poulet, accidentally tossed a lofting and dropping lob into the strikezone with Miles Ni'Gopaleen substituting for Clemons at the last moment. Before the pitch, Miles approached the batting area, took a swig from a flask in his hip pocket, and swung his Louisville slugger a few times.

Poulet kicked the dirt, pretended indifference, then snapped around as Crane scampered back from the midline to Second.

Poulet glared under his cap and Crane did a little dance beside the sack.

During this opera, Miles looked up into the stands where his fiancee, the girl of his dreams sat way up there in the throng with her pillbox hat and widows weeds, the sweet Anais Nin.

Time to focus and Miles stepped into the square in the bottom of the ninth and the count two for two, one single out standing between the Limpits and the dreadful shame of a shutout.

Poulet took his time, wound up and flubbed the pitch, intended to be a hard inside fastball. Instead the thing came from his hands with all the lethargic impulse of a felt foosball.

The ball lofted in and the bat swung and the crack of bat echoed down through over one hundred years of disappointments as the little round thing rebounded high, high, high into the sky of the summer of Supermoons as the crowd stood and roared, all craning their necks to watch this sphere arising, becoming in the history and legacy of baseball and the Island another moon unto itself, for the outfield's eyes diminishing into a pinprick in the high heavens, vanishing into story and myth and yet becoming permanent as the ball arced higher and higher into the blue heavens going black as hours passed, traveling through time and space and becoming one with Voyager, also pursuing outward a trajectory of timelessness, a journey with no ending in search of something beyond the planetary system we call home.

For what would one send an emissary, any sort of object outbound on a steadily ascending trajectory, but some indication, some sign in return that somewhere in the vast cosmos, in the vastness of timelessness, in the game without Time, some other who exists who may respond with quiet emanations, like a distant planet or a girl in a pillbox hat, "I am here. I feel the same". Every batter's effort condenses the same effort as every launch into the thing called space.

In search of something called "Love".

The rest is history.

From far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, and the moon-lit sandlots of age-old sandlot games, headed off out of memory's shadows on the edge of town past the field of dreams to parts unknown under the immense Supermoon.

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

JULY 13, 2014

CALLING THE MOON

This week's image comes from Islander, talented photographer, and FB friend, John Curley, to display one of our four "supermoons" we are due this year.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Big news, besides winners of the annual Mayor's July 4th Parade (Rhythmix Cultural Works for Best Float, and the County Sheriff for Best Equestrians and the Greer family for best mounted group) is the Silly Council's about face on the Crab Cove/McKay Avenue/Neptune Pointe (sic) zoning.

Before we forget, we are pleased to see Mark Betz is still plugging away as the Little Tramp after 30 some years of riding with his knees akimbo the entire 4 mile July 4th parade route. Take care of those knees, man.

Anyway, the Council's decision is half-smart in the face of public outrage over the sneaky way that the spit of land adjoining Crab Cove nearly got silently delivered to a developer Tim Lewis Communitied (TLC) who already has interest in other parcels on the Island.

There are no good outcomes in terms of potential lawsuits due to the messy way things went down. No matter what anyone does, the City faces litigation.

EBRPD was about to sue the City due to the frustration of its anticipation of getting the parcel to meet the requirements stipulated by voter approval to expand the local park via a measure passed in 2008.

In addition, upset voters banded together to get a measure on the ballot for November that would force the Council to rezone the property back to Open Space. The measure looked to have a very good chance of succeeding.

When federal GSA decided to unload the property, used by them as a warehouse area, Council members inexplicably rezoned the land for residential use, allowing TLC to buy the piece in a hasty auction in which EBRPD was hampered from bidding by state law.

By proactively rezoning the parcel, the Council effectively renders both the lawsuit and the ballot measure moot.

Unfortunately, the Council also added a companion measure to the rezoning ordinance that adds a provision which allows the City to suspend any ordinance that results in a lawsuit within 120 days of the Ordinance becoming effective, which essentially opens the door wide open to a lawsuit from TLC that will essentially cost them nothing.

Needless to say, the voter group Friends of Crown Beach protests the companion measure, stating this item violates State law Elections Code section 9217.

It would be nice if TLC simply punts on this one, remaining satisfied with the other projects it has going on here, but fat chance of that happening. They could always convert the land to a park and then gift it with tax-incentives to the non-profit agency.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

So anyway, the weather has been schizo around here, starting out with high fog and gloomy prospects leading to brilliant stabbing sunshine amping up temps into the 80's by afternoon for a few short hours before the famous wall of fog rolls in again. This is the weather that once caused Mark Twain to wail and gnash his teeth.

Samuel Mark Twain Clemons
Said, "The weather is as sour as lemons
in wretched Northern California -
Don't ever come in summer, babe, I warn ya.

According to the Island Sun, July 10th was Island Clerihew Day. If you do not know what a Clerihew is, see above for example.

The second Supermoon of the summer appeared this weekend, accompanied by the expected dose of lunacy to go along with it. All of the regional crisis centers filled up with lines of folks acting wonkers as people all over the Bay Area took their clothes off to go strolling through the shopping mall, stood out in plazas claiming to be famous people like Jesus Christ, Cardinal Richelieu, Napoleon Bonaparte and Alexander Haig, not to mention the usual mayhem people come to accept as normal in just about every carpeted office in Babylon and Oaktown.

Tipitina was working on the 39th floor of 101 California when she and the new gal were called in to clear the tables after a meeting between the partners and the brokerage McLaughlin, Pivot and Vogel. The new gal, whose name was Sandra, stood there with her fists on her hips looking at the lines of tables covered in coffee cups, plates of half-eaten food, urns, vases, warming pans, wine decanters and breadsticks shoved into pots of cheese.

Far down below, Jaguars, Porsches and Lamborgini's departed from the private parking garage underneath the building, heading out across Market Street to SOMA and the freeway onramps.

"o god," Tipitina said. "And I gotta get a summons to court by four-thirty today."

Sandra said nothing but dragged one of the big trash barrels over to the edge of one of the cafeteria tables then walked briskly to the far end away from the barrel neatly flipping up the linen tablecloth as she did so. She then flipped up the cloth on the far side, tilted the table higher and higher and the mass of utensils, plates, glassware, decanters and warming pans slid into the barrel.

"Well 'cmon then. Lets do the others," Sandra said.

In ten minutes all the tables stood there spotless. Sandra strode past Tipitina brushing her hands. "Ok now, back to work! I aint taking out the trash. let someone else do that."

Around four-twenty Tipitina stood in the copy room listening to Myra go on about the toner needing replacement or the drum dirty on the big Konica. "You know how to change this toner out," Myra said.

Tipitina shrugged, stapling documents. In a hurry.

"You the last one using the machine," Myra said. "Ï think it is your turn."

Myra was always trying to get people to do things for her. She wanted to become a manager. Someday some other place, maybe, but not here in this office.

"I am busy right now, Myra". Tipitina sighed.

"Well la-dee-dah! Some people just too lazy and selfish thinking of themselves all the time. Don't call on Tipitina when the Big one hits. I guess they don't have no earthquakes back where you come from."

"We have hurricanes," Tipitina said.

"Well y'all can just go back where you came from . . .".

The bike messenger arrived in the door with his gortex shoulder bag and scuffed outfit. It was Nick, one of the better messengers from Express Messenger.

"Call for pickup, Ex-Mess," Nick said.

"Here ya go," Tipitina said, handing him a packet.

"ökay. sign here,"said Nick.

"You listen to me, I am talking to you," Myra said.

Tipitina rolled her eyes and Nick grinned.

"Yáll be careful on the street," Tipitina said.

"Älways," said Nick and he was out the door.

"Them biker types are all driftways scum. Come here from the East coast and wanting to live the hippie lifestyle without workin'.

"Ï think his family is from Moraga," Tipitina said.

"Moraga! Now that is real High Life Town and Country nowadays! He don't look high life to me."

"His family got forced out by the developers when it went upscale."

"That's what I thought. They probably all come from Okies. He'll never amount to nothing."

"Ï think he is studying pre-med at State."

"How come you know so much about this guy? You aint sweet on him, are you?"

"Ï eat lunch down by the Wall where they take their breaks. I talk to all of the messengers. They are nice people."

"Nice people! You call that Doing Lunch Downtown? I feel sorry for you; maybe you oughtta go back to where you came from, like I said."

Tipitina sighed. It was another full moon and difficult people acted more crazy than usual.

Out on the street, Nick hopped on his bike and took off past the woman wearing the Viking hat and a fur coat in the 80 degree heat. The Viking woman paused to let her eyes adjust long enough to observe a man wearing rags and bearing a tall wooden staff enter the Higher Grounds Cafe where a poetry reading was in progess.

"Although I see him still, the freckled faced man ascend the dun grey hill in his grey Connemara clothes . . .".

The ragged man paused in the aisle between the tables that faced the stage and rapped his stick sharply on the tiles, shouting, "Words, words, words! All they is, is just words!"

The reading poet stopped with his mouth open staring at the apparition who glared back, daring anyone to refute him.

Evening fell upon the land, or lay down like a quiet drunkard to recline over the hills draped in shadows, pensively watching as the Supermoon arose with stately grace among the wrack of fog and cloud.

Out on the edge of the Island College greensward Don Luis Guadalupe Erizo sat with his own pensive gaze staring as was his wont, at the full moon.

Out from the burrow trundled his long-time companion Dame Elouise Herrisson, who paused to look at the Don looking at the moon.

After a while, she, a master of the obvious, said, "Mssr. Philosophe, tu cherch' encore une fois à la lune.

"Si." Senor Erizo responded.

She remained wisely silent with her own thoughts, but sat a little closed to him, feeling the warmth.

And so the couple sat among the hedges as the supermoon passed overhead on a peaceful night with no sirens or screaming. Indeed it was a quiet night on the Island and no one got stabbed or shot.

From far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from the glowing gantries of the Port of Oaktown with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the flickering waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, its ghost-haunted, weedy railbed, between the interstices of the spectral chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown under the immense Supermoon.

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

JULY 6, 2014

DREAM OPERATOR

This one comes from the Kitson family in Sunnyvale and we include it here by way of its remarkably well composed elements and strong evocative quality. Let it be known, btw, that the girl is now a sophmore at Hawaii University at Hileah.


WHATS THE BUZZ

We are back from the Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical,this time with no loss of life or limb. Give us a few days and we will have the trip report up with photos in the Camping section.

Island-Life Stories has been updated to wrap up 2013, including the account of the ever-popular Thanksgiving Poodleshoot.

Summer season is upon us, with lots of exiting stuff happening at the 21 Galleries and Vessel in Oaktown, including SLATE. We see David Grey coming to the downtown Fox with tix sold out fast as we told you would happen. Rumors are there will be a second show to meet demand.

Got the A's against the Giants over at Overstock.com Park. Nosebleed tix go for a neat $99 bucks for the Battle of the Bay this time.

We were out of town for the Annual Mayor's July 4th Parade, so we don't have reports on that one, but we did see the vaqueros arrive with their splendid horses. First parade we have missed in 20 years.

SITTIN' ON TOP OF THE WORLD

So anyway, July opened up here with days of high fog blotting the blue sky until midafternoon, when the sun's battalions fought through with spears of sunshine for a brief reprieve until the late afternoon's prevailing winds shifted allowing the dense formations of fog to march inland once again.

Babylon remained cool on the 4th, but the Island warmed up during the 9k race, which, because the course was limited by our boundaries, involved two circuits, looping around the South Shore Center, cutting down Shoreline to Crab Cove, wending in squiggles through Washington Park, knocking out past the former low rent apartments vacated during the time an out-of-town developer from Texas tried to convert them surreptitiously into luxury condos without telling the Council.

Something about the high walls, the security system and especially the Olympic swimming pools (two of them) tipped off even our usually somnolent leaders, who reacted to public outrage by collectively putting their foot down. Since our Council seldom engages in ostentation they voted to have Councilperson Frank to do it for them. Put his foot down, that is. In a big meeting with the developers around the old Oak Meeting Table in room 109. Or was it 209? In any case Frank sat there and said, "I am afraid I am going to have to put my foot down."

"You are going to put your foot down are y'all?" said the Texas developers. "Our lovely Caterpillar trucks remain waiting."

"Yes indeed, I am putting my foot down firmly and decisively and . . . and collectively. We shall not be shilly-shallied."

"O you shall not be shilly-shallied shall y'all? Are you sure? The svelte engines of our lovely Caterpillar trucks stand at idle."

"Indeed surer than . . . well since ever I was sure about things. This was supposed to be a rehab job for the people we want to stay living in the West End. This was supposed to be a facelift job for low income so we can satisfy the State we are pleasant and nice about things. Your lovely trucks may be employed to transport lovely waste to the dump."

"Well I say."

"Well you say, "you say", I see."

"Yes indeedee, I say and you know it."

"I see you say, "you say", I see and I see you say, "you know it", but nevertheless I must simply put my foot down."

"Indeedee this will cost you dear, and you know it, I say. Our lovely Caterpillar trucks stand anxiously waiting."

"O come off your Texas high horse! This is not a Villanelle. Get back to the plans and play right and we'll get you slots, prime slots at the Golf Course. But I still must put my foot down."

"Well that is not good enough. Not unless you let us plow down the greens and let us build 10 story high-rises with condos fit for kings all tiled in Carrera and gilt bathrooms with titanium bidets for each. We also would like to build a cell tower on the corner where that girl Jesse now operates nothing more than a lemonade stand for part of the year on a valuable patch of grass. Our Catepillar trucks idle with amorous pneumatics at the ready."

"We do not do bidets here. That is a French word they use over across the water in Babylon. They may aspire to Minneapolis, but we remain solidly St. Paul over here. No bidets. And the lemonade stand stays. I have put my foot down."

Our lovely Caterpillar trucks stand with tremulous exhaust . . .

"For pete's sake we have evicted the former tenants most successfully without any more trouble than a briefcase of empty promises to give first choice on coming back (hahahahahaha!) and no lawsuits! Our lovely Caterpillar trucks stand with tremulous exhaust and demure anticipation."

"No more adjectives. And no more condos."

"In that case, frankly my dear, we do not give a damn and be damned to you and your urchins. Good bye and good day!"

So the upshot of that meeting was the developer group abruptly abandoned the entire project after evicting 1002 individuals and so left town with the place still a wreck and uninhabitable. Drug dealers, finding no more business there, moved on over to the Washington Apartment complex where they committed murder and larceny and sins of the flesh as in the old neighborhood.

Frank, for all his pains, lost his bid for reelection the following year.

chipped beef, an excellent dish, perfectly serviceable to solidly mortar any fireplace

In any case, the 9k runners scooted up past the weedy former airfield to do a circuit there a couple times so that Eugene could count them and keep them honest, before they ran over to the Estuary Main street past the Ferry Landing and down the newer parkway named after the ballplayer Willie Stargell, zigzagging among the old Navy housing and over the hump of dirt and broken concrete next to the new Target and then through the chainlink gate and over the Posey Tube entrance, pausing to pay the troll standing there with a cardboad sign, to course behind Mariner Square and the inexplicably surviving Pasta Pelican, which has been serving atrocious noodle dishes since 1965. Harrington, the infamous critic for the Contra Costa Times, once said, "I found the chipped beef an excellent dish, perfectly serviceable to solidly mortar any fireplace or retaining wall with odors evocative of skunk cabbage and quik-dry concrete . . .".

From there the runners coursed across the Buena Vista flats and the Jean Sweeny Open Space Preserve where the old Beltline used to run. They blitzed past the Old Cannery. From there they took a jaunt around the Wind River parking lot, largely to find a way to add meters to a course running out of space to add up to 9k, and thence along the old rail tracks all the way from Paru to Park and the base of the 23rd street bridge in view of the tiki bar that had been torched by the Angry Elf gang.

Then it was a sortee into the tony East End past the decrepit GOP headquarters and so swinging through the neighborhoods to round about the Disputed Bicycle Bridge, seen of many an historic confrontation, back to Shoreline and so to repeat the entire thing one more time before the runners collapsed on Park outside Juanita's restaurant and Jacqueline's hair salon.

The winner this year was Hieronymous "Toto" Tanganyika, from Uganda in 195 minutes, 34 seconds.

Now, people may wonder why it takes a world class runner capable of completing the Boston marathon in less than 2 hours won a 9k race with such a time as 195 minutes and nevermind the change on a course that varies no more than three inches in elevation along its entire length, and which, in fact, broke all course records. The previous record had been 4 hours, 32 minutes, 16 seconds.

The hardest part of the course involved playing charades with a chosen jury for two questions (movies: Maltese Falcon and Medical:shingles), and then performing the comedy routine "Slowly I turn, step by step" for the Shoreline Resthome for Alzheimer's Patients well enough to make at least 75% of the audience laugh.

The audience, being what it was, could be employed repeatedly without compromising the race, but it did help getting ahead early on this one.

a difference between imaginatively capturing dollars as opposed to . . .capturing the imagination

Mr. Tanganyika did so well on this one, that ACT offered the man a job for the upcoming season to become part of its troupe performing Ibsen, Shaw and bits of Classical French drama, but Toto wisely refused, saying, "There is a difference between imaginatively capturing dollars as opposed to economically capturing the imagination."

At the end of the day, the winner strode across the finish line, breaking that reddish yarn "tape" with a great smile.

Afterward the parade began on Park Street with the Elder Sons of Many Foreign Wars, marching proudly in their battle fatigues, followed by the long array of politicians, each ensconced in a vintage open car and waving at the hoi polloi who had scant choice among them to choose for the office, the way it plays out in reality. After these obligatory things, including the horse-drawn carriage bearing the Mayor piloted by Fred with his white beard looking for all the world like a figure from some other holiday.

"Look daddy! There's Santa Claus driving Mayor Marie in his sleigh!"

There follows rank after rank of church groups, Scouts on bicycles, Eagles and BPOE, Falun Gong with their great big Lotus float and reverent hands, marching bands from all the schools, especially Encinal with its proud high stepping baton twirlers, testifying for the West End (GO JETS!)

Along come the various businesses, including Mark's Life and Casualty (wrecked car with slogan "You never expect the Unexpected", the Lost Weekend Lounge (Richard Burton look-alike swilling a martini with an Elizabeth Taylor,

Reverend Bauer's group comes by with an armada of girls dressed in short leather miniskirts and high leather boots and the slogan, "In California, it feels GOOD to be Lutheran!"

They have some competition from the Universalist Second Baptist Church which features Sister Rosetta belting out a sincere "Statesboro Blues" that makes the windchimes in the Encinal Hardware start to ring.

Then come the vaqueros with their high-stepping ponies and the vintage World War stuff on trailers and finally, as per tradition, the Little Tramp motoring along on a minibike with his knees akimbo.

Later people retreat to the Wind River lot and the estuary behind Target as night sinks down on the Nation's birthday. She has been abused and battered by foreign powers and by powerful politicians and scandal and all sorts of mean nasty sorts of things, this Columbia, but people still want to come here, risking life and everything across the Sonora desert and the treacherous pirate infested seas of the Malay ocean amid the idea that, dammit, the government has no right to tell me what I can do.

Which in itself is a kind of original idea, not popular in a lot of other places and still under experiment.

Then the rocket's red glare and the boom and the Ahhhh! and the whizzing bam bam and the Ohhhhh! while all the old Nammies take to the Old Same Place Bar to get away from these awful reminders of things too real: tracers arcing over the Delta and the phosphorus and the 188's all going off at once, deafening the ears.

In the dark alleys and doorways and sheltered places the teenagers met with one another to carry out their own secret, erotic rebellions. Fists and . . . other appendages raised against the tyranny of Ms. Dudgeon with her sour rules.

And after all was done, all the sparklers done sparking, and all the whizbangs exploded, a peppery scent of gunpowder and cordite drifted on the air as the certain fog descended to blanket all. Leaving Park Street with its teenagers courting, the street in the keeping of the one who was sweeping up the dreams of July the Fourth, 2014.

Then, from far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, quavering among its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown.

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

 

JUNE 15, 2013

NOTHING BUT FLOWERS

Photo is of an hibiscus bloom in a backyard garden box. This plant remains well shaded and seems to do well elevated in nonnative sandy soil that has been heavily remediated with Home Depot mulch.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

There will be no Island-life issue next week due to the resumption of the annual Island-Life mountain sabbatical. Since staffers nearly died the last time we did such a thing, this year the big expedition has been split into two manageable parts.

It does appear that a vindictive neighbor has stolen precious equipment, such as the all-important H2O filtration system, along with a titanium cookset so we have had to go shopping for the crew. If anyone meets a certain A.N., formerly of Alameda,in Frisco, do kick the bi-otch in the leg and demand she return what she took.

We have brought more of the Island-Life stories up to date, now including the months of October and November, 2013, which of course includes the two episodes that most people actually return specifically to read -- to wit, the annual Island Poodleshoot, and the annual Night Crossing over to the anteroom for Heaven and Hell, done traditionally by Denby and hosted by the gatekeeper, Penny. Enjoy.

THIS ISLAND-LIFE

In preparation for the annual Sabbatical we have been reclusive as hermits for the past few weeks. That does not mean things have not been happening. Like the Primary Elections.

As far as the elections went, around here most folks treated it like a sleeper. All the big measures and office changes are slated for this coming November and no major changes were expected in any of the local contests as far as party contenders.

What came clear was that Rob Bonta has the DCC sewn up and is on track for even higher office, so look to see him fighting the GOP for his present office and then aiming his gunsights even higher afterward, for the boy has ambition and it does appear he is being groomed for parts yet to play.

On the Island, Tam terms out as councilperson so look to see an array of contenders for her spot, including the person of Frank Matarrese, whom we always have liked for his practical, realistic, non-influenced approach.

Also he has shifted from pro-development to a more measured line in adding housing units here, and we like that.

As mentioned in a recent Sun Commentary, we wish we had a Mayor who says much and does little, coupled with a City Manager that says little and does much. There is still a chance for that, but we do not like the some 3,500 housing units now on the boards (not including McKay Avenue and a few other locations under discussion adding another couple thousand units).

Another open slot is the Health Care District board slot vacated by Jordan Battani, who resigned under protest. This slot has less import than before the merger with the County system, but still has some sway in administering the funds collected by the indestructible property tax that was supposed to rescue the financially ailing Hospital.

This upcoming election will feature some interesting bond measures, including another $180 million school bond to fund renovations as well as a measure that seeks to close the loophole that allowed the McKay Avenue property get put up for auction. Best pay attention.

We had a sand castle competition, and for the first year in a decade failed to attend. Shame on us, as we heard the Hobbiton display was magnificent. Also, we missed out on East Bay Open Studios, which also is a shame, along with the June First Fridays, which always showcases some exciting work. We know Vessel, Photo and 25 Studios put on a fantastic set of openings.

Hopefully, we shall return from the annual Sabbatical renewed and entirely intact and ready to launch into the world of progressive art once again.

Although developers and politicos appear to have the upper hand at present in deciding the fate of the Island, now with a census-counted population of over 70,000 inhabitants that is soon and suddenly to increase, some energy and momentum exists to counteract foolishness and traffic congestion.

From Friends of Crown Beach we have this PR:

"To continue our fundraising efforts and celebrate our successes, Friends of Crown Beach will be hosting a home-cooked Italian feast with antipasto, lasagna, chicken, salad, veggies, garlic bread and beverages.

Dinner will be hosted by our star signature gatherer, Maria Dominguez, in the lovely garden setting of her historical Victorian home.

Following dinner there will be a showing of Rebels With a Cause, a film about a battle over land led by a group of ordinary citizens, that stopped development and preserved open space, resulting in the establishment of Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

We have two dates from which you may choose:

Saturday June 21st - 6pm dinner and 8pm the film

Sunday June 22nd - 6pm dinner and 8pm the film

~~ Cost - $35.00 per person; Reservations are required ~~

To reserve your spot, please email Gretchen Lipow at gretchenlipow@comcast.net with your name, the number of guests and your preferred date. We will acknowledge receipt and send you the address of this event.

With your confirmation, payment can be made online via credit card or PayPal, at http://friendsofcrownbeach.com/donations/ -- or via cash or check at the door.

For further information, please contact Joyce at 510/521-8003.

To learn more about our campaign’s status, visit: http://friendsofcrownbeach.com/

HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE

So anyway, this weekend the Island suffered Father's Day and many of those who admitted to being Fathers suffered as well.

Those who had fathers that were both living and not reprehensible did the usual father's day activities. Mr. Howitzer, although not to his knowledge a father, and lacking a living exemplar holding that status, nevertheless held a garden party on Sunday, inviting people from his sphere of influence.

The Blathers arrived with the senior Blathers from both sides of the family. The Cribbages brought Mr. Cribbage, Grand Pere, and of course there was the very elderly Mr. Dudgeon, fetched from the Retired Mariners Home.

Dodd had the Depuglia brothers build a temporary ramp out of plywood so Mr. Dudgeon's wheelchair could be brought up on the deck.

Mr. Trumpet, Amelia Blather's dad, thought all of Mr. Howitzer's estate to be very fine, but he wanted to know where were all the dancing girls. "What kind of party among men is it without floozies? You gotta have booze and floozies if you want a decent party. Who is that man there?" He waved his cane at Dodd, who was setting out the tapas trays. Mr. Howitzer said that was his manservant, Dodd.

"Dodd, you look careworn. Perk up and get me a gin and tonic in a highboy. Go easy on the tonic my boy. I have a right to live high on the backs of the hoi polloi now that I am retired. After all it was me that gave all those weasels their jobs at the Trumpet Works back in the day. Then they go about setting up these gosh darned unions, the ingrates. Fetch me a tall one, boy!"

"These kids today . . .", began Mr. Dudgeon. "They don't know what work even means." He rapped his cane firmly upon the boards of the deck.

"Now, now," said his nurse, Ms. Primm.

Dodd sighed and dutifully went to fetch the drink orders.

Over at the Household, times being hard and the wallets thin everybody who had dads had to look to themselves to occupy the day. Suan, who could afford it due to her job at the Crazy Horse Saloon, took her dad out to brunch at Kincaids with a nice view of the marina. Tipitina and her father went and got drunk at the Lucky 13 on Park Street.

Father's Day, being something of a lesser entity than Mother's Day, allowed Andre to get off easy with an hour of ball catch with little Adam before heading out to the Exploratorium together for a fun few hours observing lasers and the ever popular dissection of a cow's eye.

Out on the Cove, Father Danyluk gave not much thought to the day as he tossed his line again and again, other than to idly consider the topic for the next sermon, but as the line went taut and the rod bent, thought better of the idea as one more suited to consideration than actuality for himself. The Heavenly Father and all that bosh. Praise god, he might have to invite his friend Pastor Nyquist for dinner if his luck with stripers continued today , , , ,

In the Old Same Place Bar all the men who had endured badly cooked breakfasts and tawdry gifts of ties, stickpins, and cologne that would never be used and hardware knickknacks of more curiosity than use collected at the brass rail to ease their pains. Fatherhood, after all, is not one of those estates that earns a lot of respect by Nature or anyone else for that matter. So you had a hand, so to speak, in making something. It's not like you carried this thing around for nine months and then went through a wracking several hours of partuition. Most of the time, you were standing around, pretty much as you stood around for the next 18 years, pacing back and forth and writing check after check for expenses. The viagra and cialis are for those who just have not figured out that Nature has done with them. Their part is finished, so now go sit down.

As night fades through the fog draped alleyways and dripping box elders of the Island, the Editor wraps up the half-way point of the year's issues, updating the last year's stories and doing a bit of nip and tuck here and there, as any doting parent would do for their child.

Island-life has become a large, unruly child now approaching 16 years of age, which every parent should know is a time of trouble and exhileration.

Box elder bugs and moths bang against the window glass as he looks out into the yard on this cool summer night. "I have brought into the world such a thing now strange to me, thankless, angry, and foreign, and yet my legacy to remain of all I have done on earth. Is this not what it means to be a father in this time?

Then, from far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, quavering among its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown.

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

 

JUNE 8, 2014

AND THE WALLS CAME DOWN

  This week trumpet flowers, which emerge all over the island. Like NorCal Spring -- beautiful, effulgent, dangerous.

ISLAND NEWS

The latest flap has nothing to do with what Silly Hall is doing or not doing about anything important. Lincoln Street remains torn up in front of the IPD parking lot, cell phone service remains execrable, the old Carnegie building remains untenanted and rents keep on rising even as slavering gangs of Developers swarm the island like Gengis Khan looking for any open space to despoil and into which pack yet more junk and bodies that will add to traffic and parking problems.

What we have is an uproar among the Catholics due to an edict handed down by the private school board which demands that all teachers, cleric and laity alike, sign a "Morality Clause" amendment to the employment contract, promising to be good little boys and girls in school and out. Seems the Bishop is concerned that things like Social Media and the rear seats of automobiles lead to wanton Un-Catholic behavior: nude selfies, abortions, secular humanism, and wet t-shirt contests, o my.

In other news ACtransit is starting a program July 1 that will feature Day Passes that provide a rider unlimited travel on any regular line for $5. Also in a rare move in these skin-flinty times, the 31 day pass will have a price reduction.

There are a few other niceties offered by the sometime beleagered transit authority, so check out www actransit.org and look at the Clipper Card changes.

We did do the first Island report on the upcoming 880 overpass changes planned by Caltrans, which will affect traffic taking the 23rd Avenue and 29th Avenue overpasses coming and going, but it seems only now that construction is immanent are people sitting up to take notice. Jim Strehlow made some interesting points in his recent Sun Commentary (Traffic Congestion Built into Design).

The sum total of all the projects that have moved past design phase already amounts to a net increase in Island population of some 18% in the next two years, which is not inconsiderable, especially considering things still on the drawing board will add an additional 2% - 5% worth of bodies and vehicular traffic. There is no study of any kind looking at the resulting traffic congestion with anything approaching optimism.

Looking at the dollars involved it is clear that the financial pressures for development are extraordinarily ferocious. We talked with a private property owner of estuary fronting real estate and learned that the man had plans for ten and twenty story highrises near the Kaiser Center, but that "regretfully" he would not see those projects realized in his lifetime.

One has to wonder at the nature of someone who sets something in motion which will surely wreck the community, but with dubious pleasure post mortem. That is the kind of person involved in these projects.

ALL WE NEED TO KNOW

So anyway birthdays are inexplicably a big thing around here in NorCal. for most people these things are somewhat pleasurable to annoying, but for Javier each year things blow up, get shot, burned, get beat up and/or savagely abused and humiliated. Typically the thing to which these events happen turns out to be Javier's friend Jose.

The day and time to party came around with Javier looking for Jose while carrying a bottle of Reposado Patron, but Jose was no where to be found. In fact Jose had hidden himself in the Unitarian Chapel where Reverend Lisa Freethought held services. Jose had never heard of a Unitarian church, but this being the Bay Area anything was possible and as Unitarians have nothing against comfort, this was one of the few churches with air conditioning on a day that was hot as blazes.

He imagined he had it pretty good holed up there in the dimly lit place with a gallon bottle of jug wine for company, figuring when the time came he would just stretch out in one of the pews. He heard a noise of the door opening and people coming in, so he diverted himself to the lavatory and parked himself in one of the stalls.

A few people came in to use the urinals and the extra stall.

By the increasing noise and then the obvious organ music it became clear that a June wedding had begun and so he was trapped in the toilet. Jose made himself as comfortable as possible with his jug, tucked up his feet on the jon with the seat down and so whiled away the hours. After a brief interval the motion sensor cut the lights, leaving him in the dark.

Meanwhile, in the little chapel things had begun as most traditional weddings do: with a knock down drag out feud between the Fiersteins and the Patakis. It was bad enough that Sophie was getting hitched to a goyische nebbishe like that Spiro. But their entire family consisted of metal workers and blacksmiths and shipping clerks and traveling minstrels. A bunch of gypsies with no culture that lot. Oy! My little girl, my little girl, said Sophie's bubbe.

Of course Harvey did not give consent, said Mrs. Fierstein. The whole thing is crazy; the boy has no prospects, none at all. Not even a situation! Not a single doctor among them and we come from good people and the boy and girl threatening to run off to Las Vegas. Such a scandal is that! Doesn't even know how to make yontif proper. These kinds of mixed marriages never work. It will all end in tears, I promise you.

This probably should not have been said in front of Mrs. Bunion, Spiro's great aunt.

So with all the acrimony getting decided on where to be wed became a Great Issue. Standing in the courthouse with the Commissioner was out of the question. So it was decided they would have two weddings. No. Make that three weddings. Because as it turned out in Alameda you still had to go to the Courthouse as it turned out the only man on the Island who had filed the papers to be an official agent of the County for Marriage for the month of June happened to be Jason Arrabiata, he of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Oy gevalt! That would not do at all.

Now it may seem curious to non-islanders that clergy like Reverend Bauer and Rebbi Mendelnusse would put off such important paperwork, but the truth is that in the County, a laic must put in forms and fees to be a representative for each and every wedding seperately, as the forms officially deputized the clergyman only for any one twenty-four hour period, with some exceptions allowing for 72 hours on a Holiday. As a consequence, most parsimonious clergy filed all the paperwork for June in late August so as to save on fee costs, back dating every wedding on the papers and saving on the tithes.

As it was, on a certain day in September one would find Rebbi Mendelnusse, Mustapha Omer Kemal, Pastor Nyquist, Pastor Bland, Rev. Howler (La Luz de Mundo de Occupado Parking Space), Pastor Bland (Presbyterian), Pastor Nance Haughtboy (Methodist), Father Rich Danyluk (Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint), Reverend Rectumrod (1st Baptist Church of the Insurrection) all in the offices of the County filing papers and paying fees and exchanging items from packed lunches while waiting for the clerk to call each one back to the window, for that is the way the County does things -- make people stand in line, file stuff, then wait more time to be called for verdicts and decisions and stamps of approval.

"You want a knish," offered the Rebbi.

"I got some aebelskivver," said Pastor Rasmussen, from the Oofta Bettya Kirke that catered to the Swedish racing team which had remained behind on the Island after the last America's Cup Race. They had lost badly and lost a sailor or two in the process, but heck, the Island is a darned good place to park a boat and mourn your fallen colleagues.

California is like that -- people come here for one reason and when the reason fades those people wind up staying on a bit longer until they look up and suddenly years have passed and a church packed with their children and grand children has grown up about their ears and they have become part of history without trying.

So anyway, to get back to the story. The Fiersteins held a proper ceremony with a tent and smashing the champagne flute -- one of the set used for regular guests -- and there was all kinds of kletzmer, which irritated the sensibilities of the Patakis who had decided to attend. There is, surprisingly, no Orthodox church on the island, the Greeks having focussed their scant numbers and resources to the chapel up the hill, the same chapel where Wally's son had taken refuge after blowing the whistle on the clandestine Mayor's wiretapping program.

With FBI, NSA, TSA and the FTB all swarming the place, they had to look elsewhere for a wedding, deciding on the politically and religiously neutral Unitarian Church

So there was Jose dozing in the dark in the men's lavatory when a bridesmaid fell into his lap with a squeak.

The lights burst on and there was this woman with dark hair and tattoos of flowering lianas up her bare arms, wearing a bridesmaids dress saying, "O, sorry! I thought this stall was empty!"

Jose asked the girl what she was doing in the mensroom, so of course she told him in whispers, the situation becoming compromising as people, men mostly, came and went and did their business at the urinals.

The main ceremony done, the bridesmaid, whose name was Eliza, had fled the bouquet-tossing scene, due largely to the weariness from the incessant "when are you going to get married" litany from the aunts. The uncles. The nieces. The godmothers. The god-awful everybody on her nerves. No she did not like Kostos. No she did not have a crush on Peter. No, she had plans for Saturday, please, please stop! She was an artist she was doing great work, she had no time for dating, her life was filled enough without romantic drama and endless scenes -- like the last time -- and she had decided to become a Quirkyalone to put an end to it all.

So she fled the highly operatic bouquet toss. Did he understand the frustration she felt?

Frustration was one emotion with which Jose could identify.

Sorry about the interruption, but it was dark, and no legs visible under the stall and she had never been in a men's room and thought maybe you had to put a quarter in there to open the door, so there she was.

From this angle her face reminded Jose a bit of Audrey Hepburn, but he put that image out of his mind. His own life was insufficiently organized to deal with women of any kind.

Well so there they were and now to get out of the place -- she could come back to the Household and be sheltered for a short while -- but she had promised to secure the silver salver holding the reception crumpets and wedding fantods. Could he help with that?

So Jose found himself sneaking into the reception in the annex, pretending to be a banquet waiter and making off with the salver under his shirt while Eliza mingled minimally and then waited outside.

Several Grand Aunts saw them leave together and nodded sagely before doing high fives.

"I certainly hope this one is a good Jewish boy," Olga said.

"He stole the silver plate," said Ruth.

"That, my dear girl," said Olga, "Means only we have a lever to use."

"I was born in twenty-five and you were born in twenty-eight. You have no reason to speak to me that way," said Ruth.

When Jose and Eliza got to the Household, Javier's birthday party had moved from the sagging porch across the road to the beach and they were all whooping and hollaring and Suan had several of her co-workers from the Crazy Horse there doing pole dances with the aid of janitor brooms and closet dowels. Underwear and rags fluttered on the drying line hooked to the ironmongery garden out back.

Jose was a bit shamefaced about the look of things, being a good boy from Sinaloa who had been raised well by a decent abuelita, but Eliza looked at the sagging porch and the hole from which Snuffles poked up his shaggy head and the general chaos on the beach and then took off her shoes, saying, "I LIKE this!"

So they went down to the party on the beach where Javier was doing the hat dance with Fannie Fast (not her real name) and who should show up but Carmelita, Javier's last, most recent infatuation.

Javier took an eyeful of Eliza and Jose together and only wanted to make someone new feel welcome, especially considering the retentiveness of Jose. "So Jose! You have someone new! Who is this now?"

Jose, a good boy from Sinaloa, was shy, reclusive, and not so tremendous with women, often given to despair and inaction, whereas Javier had decided to inhabit the body and spirit of the hot-blooded Latin with a ferocious vengeance. This meant, unfortunately, that his choice in women often overpowered his limited abilities such that the trauma unit at Highland had come to list Javier as a Code entirely unto itself.

Code Red means get the defib. Code Blue, means fetch the ventilator. Code Javier - o dear, better get the saline and serum type AB+ on the double! Load the cart with gauze and wadding!

It is impressive when one individual caused an entire protocol to be generated in a major metropolitan Trauma Center, but Javier was like that.

Carmelita took one look at the beautiful Eliza between the two men and grabbed up one of the long janitor brooms and unscrewing the brush ran at Javier, who, like his nature and luck managed to dodge the thrust by throwing himself to the ground. Carmelita wheeled about and lashed a bayonet she kept strapped to her thigh (Javier's women all were like this) and charged at Jose, ramming his chest with full force enough to send him off his feet. The horrified Eliza, seeing her friend laid low and possibly murdered threw herself upon the Carmelita with the fury of Athena, the warrior goddess, arms and fists windmilling crazier than Don Quixote.

Jose, groaning in pain, removed the dented silver salver that had saved his life from under his torn shirt and tossed it aside.

That is when Officer O'Madhauen showed up with the Island riot squad behind, all lights and sirens going.

"Ladies! And I use that term loosely, cease your violence immediately, and do not attempt to violate the traffic ordinances of this city!" Office O'Madhauen said with a stentorian voice.

In answer, Carmelita swung her lance at Javier, clipping him on the skull and sending a good part of his scalp and blood spattering on the driftwood. Thus occupied, this left her open for Eliza to thwack her solidly in the jaw with a powerful right cross, knocking Carmelita down for the count amid the patter of tear gas canisters.

"Eff, I love a good party," Eliza said as the riot squad descended the slope through clouds of toxic gas with batons and plastic come-a-longs with which they bound up those guests who had not boosted out of that bad scene at first notice.

All this was observed from the periscope of the El Chadoor, the Iranian spy submarine that had been sent to keep tabs on the Port activities and Island Life in particular.

"You know," the Captain said, as he flipped up the periscope handles and ordered the sub to depart. "I will never understand this birthday thing in America, its operatic expectancy, its mulifarious disappointments."

"Much better to seek the abnegation of desire. Therein lies true happiness," said Abdul, the First Mate.

"That is nearly Buddhist in thought," said the Captain, amazed. "It is very near apostasy!"

"Perhaps, but it is true that it is Buddhist in origin," said Abdul. "But even the Prophet would approve. After all, it was Suiliman that first came down the road before the Prophet."

The Captain pondered these things as the spy sub left the estuary, passed out into the Bay, and thence under the Golden Gate to run silent, run deep to the open ocean.

Then, from far off across the water came the ululation of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, quavering among its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown.

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

 

JUNE 1, 2014

CALLING THE MOON

This week's headline photo comes from Tammy and is of the last full moon we had a few weeks ago.


THIS ISLAND LIFE

Took a toddle to neighboring San Leandro to snag the 105th annual Cherry Festival, which embodied much of what has gone right and much of what has gone wrong in NorCal over the past 100 years or so.

Like most of the open air summer festival events this one featured music, overpriced food booths, a bit of historiana, some good music and some terribly derivative music and a carefully cultivated sense of small town feel in the middle of an urban metropolis of some 8 million people.

That may sound cynical, but look at what there is by comparison: the pallid and spiritless Newark which hosts nothing, does nothing, and remains stolidly devoted to linoleum tile shops and maintenance of all that is bland.

Also, they came up with this nifty little item in the form of "Get Fit" Stations. Each was manned by a personal trainer of sorts.

By contrast to other municipalities we learned that San Leandro hosts the only East Bay creek that runs open air without cover from its origins to the sea. Now that is a great thing of which to be proud.

The first festival was held in 1909 to celebrate the then prodigious cherry production crop which fueled the town of some 4,000 inhabitants. Over the course of time, as is true for much of NorCal, including the fruit orchards that gave Fruitvale its name and the more recent orange groves that lined the freeway of 101 from South City down to San Jose, the greed of land rush put all those magnificent orchards to the sword such that barely an handful of cherry trees survive within municipal city limits.

Well, it is what it is, and the yen for a good party remains among Northern Californios, hence the cherry festival continues even though the local farming industry exists no more.

The land that became San Leandro started life as Ohlone territory. After the Spanish conquest, Don Luis Peralta was granted via desueno all the coastal land from Rancho San Pablo down to the lands owned by Mission San Jose, which then ended, more or less, along the present Fremont boundary.

When the Don passed away, his lands were subdivided among his four surviving sons, with Ignacio taking the southern part that included San Leandro. There he built an adobe in the 1800's, which collapsed during the Hayward earthquake of 1868. Ygnacio had a daughter, named Ludovina, for whom he built a house, most of which still stands, in 1901.

The house, continuously lived in by members of the Peralta family until 1929, saw various improvements, including the brilliant tiles imported from Spain which tell the story of Don Quixote and which still decorate the exterior walls.

The house served as a rest home and a hospital until 1971 when John and Barbara Brooks purchased the property so as to donate it to the City.

Many of the Letters to the Editor concerned themselves with the various power ploys and machinations going on right now in the face of an obvious land rush here that is coupled with wretched greed that cares not a fig for the quality of life that will suffer once a number of these projects are completed. There also continues a cause celebre among some to bring recycling bins to Park Street - an idea that may be good in theory but expensive in practice. This will involve some social control in getting people to stuff the green bins with the right green and the blue with the right glass and plastic.

Pleas to help save the historic bench in Jackson Park continue. You can log on to MoveOn.org and search for Save the Bench for information. June 12th is the deadline for when the R&P people decided the fate of the damaged landmark.

The dispute over climate change continues, notwithstanding our learning in San Leandro that the entire California cherry crop has failed this year because of it. That's right, this year's output is less than 24% of what it should be, which means that a multi-million dollar agri-business industry has tanked due to weather. Well, you can always blend together some junk science and GMO's to make a sweet sauce for your ice cream. Sprinkle a handful of Bushisms as topping.

STARLIGHT BY THE EDGE OF THE CREEK

So anyway, Jose stepped out onto the porch of the Household and greeted the dun gray skies of morning. The fog banks have begun rolling in to keep a high profile, which happens at the turn of every season. Fog in late May meant searing scorchers later in summer. But for now, all was cool and quiet.

the graduates unloaded all the college detritus

Change in seasons meant graduations and changes in the lives of many people Graduations meant the season had also arrived for lucrative dumpster diving. Each year the outgoing class at UCB made their goodbyes to the Bay Area and tearfully departed for to return to those far distant lands from which they had come years ago, to Trinidad, Tobago, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, China, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Illinois, Arizona, and the Land of 10,000 Lakes, exotic Wisconsin. Before returning to their far off hometowns, the graduates unloaded all the college detritus that would be too arduous or expensive to tote back to brownstones in New York, over the covered bridges of Pennsylvania, and around the Horn to Oman.

UCB dumpsters held the best booty

Hence it was that post-graduation UCB dumpsters held the best booty: down comforters, scads of futons, pillows, stereo systems, TV sets, microwaves, small refrigerators, jeans, jackets, sweaters, blouses, boots and shoes, boot trees, Monopoly boards, umbrellas, bell jars, fantods, stone frogs, cups, dishes, silverware, dishwashers, loofahs, Frisbees, Tesla coils, baskets of every description, original art and kitsch, bicycle parts, bicycles, gym sets including free weights and benches, and much more besides, all worthless to the relatively soon-to-be post-student loan investment banker biologist CPA types but of immense value to those people will little or nothing to start inhabiting the Gray Markets of the world.

Sather Gate, home of Free Speech and, in a way, the Free Market

That is why when Pahrump came around with his scooter, Jose climbed aboard with the House Flexible Flyer wagon strapped to his back like a tortoise shell and off to regions beyond the Sather Gate, home of Free Speech and, in a way, the Free Market. Martini followed after them on a bicycle he had assembled from found parts. It had a pink girl's frame, tasseled handlebar grips, a seat that had once been a barstool, brakes of indifferent utility, and a larger front wheel than the rear supporting ape-hanger handlebars.

All of the local universities with residences for students go through this reflexive period just before and following the nervous last rites of bureaucracy involving robes and tassels, ex-matriculation forms, and final meetings with friends, who became suddenly overnight colleagues in a profession. Those of the higher order need go through the paper, processing and payment for copies of those perfect bound tomes, one for the library and one for parents, and another for someone Special, and five to keep on the shelf as if those months of researching the persistent generational genomic markers seen through erotic behaviors of the Drosophila , the watery manifestations of Anna Livia Plurabelle as seen through archetypal imagos of ancient feminine power, and the significance of the Treaty of Westphalia, 1648, in helping to codify post Magna Carta English law could now be put aside, done with forever and never to be troubled at two in the morning by a possible trick question in the third hour of one's pitiful oral defense in front of stern Dr. Zimmerman, he the one they call "The Hammer of God".

What is left after all the drama and tedium and the long march up the aisle to the beat of execrable music is a sort of aimless shuffling in suddenly bare rooms, once packed with life and adventures and now looking so . . . blandly institutional. A dust bunny sits forlorn by the baseboard. You look out the window and see the view you have seen through the changes and wait for some Big Moment to arrive, like a golden stream from the heavens accompanied by a chorus of angels, all looking like Emma Thompson and singing in A minor. But nothing like this happens. You see two tramps loading a Flexible Flyer Wagon with stuff pulled from the dumpster. Someone calls, it is time to go, and as you leave, you close the door behind you.

Joshua has taken the refuge of the hunted whistleblower

Up in the hills, across from the Greek Orthodox church, Mr. Terse observed a monarch butterfly flippy-floppy loop and dip to land on a convenient twig a few yards from the window of his car and he idly speculates about popping the fellow with his holstered 9mm Luger pistol, but decides to preserve relative anonymity in this neighborhood while continuing his watch on the doors of the chapel where Wally's son, Joshua has taken the refuge of the hunted whistleblower, chased by the ATF, the TSA, the FBI, the NSA and the California FTB for outing the Mayor's clandestine eavesdropping programs which had been gathering information from various agencies by way of bugged toilet stalls.

It was a dirty program, one that stank to high heaven after Joshua got the papers published by Wiki-Leaks. Naturally, the Pee Tardy Party folks were incensed and called for blood. So Joshua had to take a quick boat in the dead of night, traversing secret covered waterways traveling upstream along the path of the long unseen Sausal Creek until he got to the Chapel and there claimed sanctuary. The authorities found him there easily enough for he gave a press conference in the apse, declaring, "Shall we not live free and crap in privacy? Shall we not pinkle without fear of prying? Is nothing sacred in this land any more? Ladies and gentlemen! Four score and hella more years ago our forefathers and foremothers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the principle that all men shall poop in peace!"

The speech stirred many to call Joshua an hero. Mr. Terse had the opinion Joshua was a traitor and he would have liked nothing better than to put a 9mm bullet square between the boy's eyes. After due process of course. In fact, Mr. Terse had retired from the Services ten years ago -- he took on the current assignment of helping keep watch over the church entirely out of a sense of patriotic duty and a sense of camaraderie with his sometime friend Mr. Spline, who indeed still was employed some nebulous shadowy Agency so secret no one knew its acronym. "It's a division of DIS. I can't tell you any more than that," snapped Mr. Spline.

OK fine.

He heard a noise upslope and slunk down in his seat to take a look over his shoulder without being obvious. A man with a large nose and wild black hair flowing underneath a bicycle helmet came down the hill on a scooter towing a red Flexible Flyer Wagon piled high with what looked like industrial trash. On top of the pile sat an Hispanic male about twenty-two years of age and wearing what looked like a colander for a hat. Behind them a pudgy Italianate man drove a pink girl's bicycle with a TV set and a statue of the Venus de Milo perched between the high handlebars.

Mr. Terse's cell phone rang with its usual tone -- The Battle Hymn of the Republic. "This is Terse. Hello?"

It was Mr. Spline calling to ask about the status.

"I think I just saw Don Quixote and Sancho Panza drive by on a scooter," Mr. Terse said.

There was the sound of rustling papers over the line. "I don't find those names in the code sheet," said Mr. Spline . . . .

The Man from Minot was standing morosely outside the Old Same Place Bar talking to Eugene about how the Bay Area had lost a lot of its charm recently. Everything had gotten so expensive it was getting harder to live. Everywhere you looked, people in a bad mood all the time, running their little games.

A new crescent moon hung over everything with the dim outline of its dark face promising more to come later.

It aint like it used to be, Eugene said. That's for sure. He was born and raised in Antioch.

The rents have gotten obscene, said the Man from Minot.

And then there's the property taxes, one after another, Padraic chimed in. Whatever happened to Prop 13?

And the homeless -- gosh darned everywhere nowadays. Eugene said. Ever since that Reagan emptied the mental hospitals onto the street. It's not like it used to be.

I don't know how it used to be, said the Man from Minot, but it sure has gotten worse. Its like all the whimsy has fled the place for cheaper rent. I dunno, I just dunno.

There was a little beep beep and they heard someone calling out "Howdy Padre!"

Then they saw Father Danyluk walking down the street and something after him which soon passed. "Howdy boys!"

The group of men stared as Pahrump drove by slowly on his scooter, towing the red wagon with Jose sitting on top holding down the load.

Behind them pedaled the puffing Martini with his porcelain replica of the Venus.

You was sayin' somethin' about the whimsy, Padraic said.

The men returned to the bar after Denby started playing again and the old men talked of old times and the way it used to be. It was a quiet night after that with gentle fog rolling in to the sounds of breeze and nightbirds calling and a peace pervaded the Island. No sirens ripped the night, no one got stabbed and no one got shot.

There's an evenin' haze settlin' over town
Starlight by the edge of the creek
The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down
Money's gettin' shallow and weak

Well, the place I love best is a sweet memory
It's a new path that we trod
They say low wages are a reality
If we want to compete abroad

When Martini and the others got back to the Household with their haul, some expressed disappointment at the things brought in.

"What the hay! How you going to unload that Venus statue?" Tipitina asked Martini.

"I am not going to sell her. I am going to keep here right here. This house needs a little love brought in here."

Marlene laughed and had to agree.

Then, from far off across the water came the ululating howl of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading dock, quavering among its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences until the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off out of shadows on the edge of town to parts unknown.

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

MAY 25, 2014

INTO THE MYSTIC

This week's headline photo comes from facebook friend, Cheryl Cole, who is a bit of a sailor girl and expert knot tier.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Remember we reported on a sparsely-attending meeting a few weeks ago in which CalTrans presented plans to revamp the 23rd Avenue and 29th Avenue overpasses? The Sun finally got around to presenting a front page item on the subject. This work will last over five years and will significantly impact access to and from the Island during the period of construction.

Got a lot of fun stuff coming up, especially during the demarcation line for Summer on the Weekend of June 6th. ProArts will host the East Bay Open Studios for the 40th time, which ought to be enjoyable for all, as so many good artisans have fled the exhorbitant rents in Babylon to come here.

We will be having the annual sand castle competition at the Cove again that weekend.

Bassist wunderkind Victor Wooten will take over Yoshi's June 5th, which is a Tuesday, but the man is well worth a post-holiday midweek concert. Local boy and self-taught musician Victor has won a Grammy five times, which outta tell you something.

10,000 Maniacs are coming to Yoshi's Oakland June 20th. Mary Ramsey now does vocals for that group. Nathalie Merchant left in 1993.

That darling of the Lilith Festival, Dar Williams, will be performing at the GAMH in Babylon June 4th.

We hear that Live 105's BFD is coming up at the Concord Pavilion. Given the current flavor of Alternative has allowed tight ensemble singing combined with an accent on melody over the thrash/crash/bash core post-punk stuff, we would suggest snagging tickets while the listening is good. There are some really good bands out there now and the members already know how to play their instruments.

Also at the Pavilion, Lionel Richie. Here is the PR: Lionel Richie in Concert, With Special Guest CeeLo Green Concord Pavilion (Concord, CA), June 1, show start 7:30pm. Pop folks will recognized CeeLo as half of the Gnarles Barkley duo. And of course, after getting his start in Motown as part of the Commodores, singer-songwriter Lionel Richie became one of the most successful male solo artists of the 1980s, with hits like "Truly," the Caribbean-flavored "All Night Long," "Endless Love" with Diana Ross, "Hello" and "Say You, Say Me," which also won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Richie's concerts tend to become giant sing-alongs, so brush up on your lyrics.

June 14 and 15 brings back the very popular Pirate Festival at the Vallejo Waterfront Park. Alas and Arrrrg, admittance is now a sawbuck for adults, but buccaneers under 12 allowed free. Again, due to a bad incident, no scurvy dogs allowed. Or even non-scurvy dogs. The event, which earned Vallejo an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, is still well worth attending, with ship to shore cannon battles, participatory fencing demonstrations, elaborate costumes, turkey legs and grog. Always lots of grog.

Also, from talented musician and friend Laura Boytz, we have the following interesting curiosities:

Saturday, May 31: Ramana Vieira and Ensemble perform Fado and Fado-inspired music at San Leandro Cherry Festival from 3:30-4:15 p.m. on the Cherry Blossom Stage, downtown San Leandro. Another free community festival -- come get your Fado on for free.

[ed. note: Fado is a Portugese folk style which traditionally involves a bluesy feeling.]

Friday, May 30 in San Mateo and Saturday, May 31 in Redwood City, 7:30 p.m. both nights: The New Millennium Chamber Orchestra performs a summer concert featuring Vivaldi's "Summer," dance suites by Beethoven, Britten, Ravel, and Respighi, and a new work by local composer Trevor Lloyd. http://nmchamberorchestra.org/

TOMORROW IS A LONG TIME

So anyway, there got to be almost a fist fight in the Household when Sara wanted the house radio to stay tuned to KPOO while the impatient Suan wanted to get away from that old school stuff in favor of KALW because the last of Smiley and West was going to be on at that time and West was going to be signing off. You can have your poo poo after that, and so she switched the dial.

Nevertheless, Martini wanted to hear the other NPR station that had all the money, (sniffed Suan), which got Javier and Adam involved. Adam wanted to listen to Live 105, if anyone cared, and Javier wanted Easy Listening.

When the dial landed amid argumentation on KCBS everyone learned that another shooter had gone nuts, this time in Santa Barbara, of all places, and the announcer mournfully listed the names of the dead and wounded, so everyone pause for a brief moment before starting up the argument again.

"What's wrong with Fleetwood Mac," said Javier.

This after Denby had gotten mostly done with Rosalie Howarth and the Acoustic Sunrise, so he was miffed at not hearing the end of that Irish guy singing "Love is a Monsoon".

He stomped out in great disgust with everybody shouting at one another and a lowrider cruising down the strip blasting Ice T and Snoop Dogg and Hoody Boyz be Panderin Poodlez, into everybody's homes and garages. And this was distressin' the Citizens.

Another sunny day on the Island had begun.

James went bopping down to the busstop to catch the O Express into the City to take more pictures of The Cuttlefish tag. James had more pictures of the Cuttlefish tag than anyone and he hoped to turn his collection into an exhibit and his earphones channeled Radio Berkeley playing a reprise of a Joe Frick piece until the midspan under a lightly cloud-striated sky that eventually yielded to the most immense ocean of light turquoise for the day and radio silence to James.

Down on the surface of the Bay, Toby and Tommy's Lavendar Surprise scudded before the light winds, the ship to shore crackling with event. Some kayaker had gotten drunk and lost in the sloughs.

"Oooo!" said Tommy and Toby together. "Sloshed in the sloughs!"

That is when Tommy put on the Abba tape, "Dancing Queen", and started doing the shimmy on the quarterdeck making all the people drinking mojitos down below decks come on up, so let us depart quickly and mercifully from that scene.

Pahrump, Jose, and Xavier found the dial tuned to the news station at the Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West where they had gone to clean up after the Spring Fling and they listened to the latest hand-wringing over Putin's ambitions, the search for the lost airliner in the Indian Ocean, and the latest terrible news about the shooting in Santa Barbara, all of these things being of terrible interest and problematic, but nevertheless entirely explainable. For that, lets go to you, Dan, for an in depth report . . .

The Iglesia de los Loco Diablo de Occupado Parking Spaces held a grand shindig with devotees blocking off large segments of the city curbs for blocks all around their Church of Dementia. The Grand Poobah arrived in a limosine paid for by his flock's donations and Telemundo appeared with microphones to do running interviews as he waved fat, ring encrusted fingers at the bothersome radio papparazzi.

In the City, called to work on the holiday by a boss whom everyone called "dedicated", Marsha turns up the radio to full volume -- nobody else was in the office anyway -- as she works to cobble the report together for Monday, so that it can be torn apart and reassembled in time for Tuesday. It was Live 105, the Alternative Station of course. "Hey people this is the DJ with No Name and I got two tickets with backstage passes to BFD! Yeah! I am stoked! Just be caller number ten and tell me which member of Bush has a wooden leg. By now everybody knows what happened in Santa Barbara Friday and I know, IT SUCKS! Our thoughts go out to the families down there. Ok, here's Bush with 'Everything Zen' . . . ! Call now and be number 10 . . . !"

The day subsided towards evening and Ms. Almeida listened to KMBX, since there was no station broadcasting in Portuguese, the old transistor appliance with its aluminum antenna stuck out to the side at an angle perched on the windowsill above the sink as she did the dishes. The waning moon looks on as she sings along with the folk song melody.

No se como decirte
No se como explicarte
Que aqui no hay remedio
De lo que siento yo
De lo que siento yo

In the half-light of the Old Same Place Bar someone drops quarters into the jukebox and the first song is an old Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Saturday Night Special". All the regulars remain hunched over and no one dances. This night is one devoted to Serious Drinking and personal reminiscences, old companions come and gone.

Eugene watched a box elder bug come from out of nowhere to circle high, then descend above the bar to pause briefly before succumbing to fumes, thence to drop into his beer glass and die. Eugene blinked and looked down at the creature in his glass for a good while before getting a napkin to fish it out.

"Memento mori," Eugene said before taking a sip. Dawn stared at him, mouth wide open.

Out by the old Cannery in the cutout, Officer O'Madhauen sits sipping coffee, listening to the PB radio, hearing other sounds after a long, busy policeman's day. It was a day that included driving to some citizen's home with Ray from OPD to request someone to come down and make "an identification." The place had been rancid with the smells of beans cooking and the sounds of someone practicing mariachi guitar. Those kinds of days were four Pepcid days.

Los besos que me diste mi amor
Son los que me estan matando
Ya las lagrimas me estan secando
Con mi pistola y mi corazon
Y aqui siempre paso la vida con
La pistola y el corazon

The moon, well past the last quarter, waned with adventure towards the New opaque moon before starting all over. The splendid striations of vermilion and azure violently contending with the burnished brass and gold of a troubled sunset had long since collapsed into the exhausted horizon.

Near Fruitvale Station a woman wearing a shawl pauses before a memorial where a framed photograph of a boy about eight or nine leans up against the concrete surrounded by flowers. The woman bends to lay down a wreath and stands up again to remain motionless. Silently, she weaps.

La luna me dice una cosa
Las estrellas me dicen otra
Y la luz del dia me canta
Esta triste cancion
Esta triste cancion

A citizen blew through a red light, clear as blazes, but for once Officer O'Madhauen sat there staring into the pit of that place only First Responders know, remembering that scene when the abuelta rent her scarf with a cry as the two men with belts heavy with gear stood there with bad news, the little plastic radio plainting a tinny cry.

No se como amarte
No se como abrasarte
Porque no se me deja
Dolor que tengo yo
El dolor que tengo yo

But now, the dim leds of the console and the various dashboard instruments barely lit the world enough for discernment. They were designed to be so. The radio crackled with basic communication.
The Officer sipped his coffee.

Out on the chop beyond the Golden Gate Pedro piloted his boat with his trusty labrador beside, both listening to their favorite program, after shifting over from the one dedicated to music to the one that carried his favorite televangelist.

"And now, once again, the Radio is your Friend . . . ! scritch . . . scree . . . sqwawk . . . schnick!"

"Iiiiiiiii hear that old piano, down the avenue! I smell the magnolia. I look around for you . . .".

In the dimly lit cabin, Pedro motors out to the fishing lanes, the season for crab all done and now time for other catch, another season, a man at work, riding his machine just as any farmer would do on the open plains, driving his harvester in the wee hours of dawn across the undulating fields, both with radios tuned to the latest whatever. Barn or fishouse, factory or threshing room, the radio abides as quiet constant companion, broadcasting news or rock and roll like the old field callers to the ones who once picked cotton or grapes, sending the call and response that brought you to the long awaited turn-row, where you got to set down your sack for a brief moment. Like any friend, it provides an estimate of the weather and you trust that as much as you would trust the limits of your friend with all his or her gossip.

Lately the news has been all about what happened in Santa Barbara. Another boy gone off with a gun to shoot people he knew. What had the world come to?

Esta noche tan oscura con sus
Sombras tan tranquilos
Y el viento me sige cantando
Este humilde cancion
Este humilde cancion

Yet despite all the world's confusion that quiet voice of reason speaking in the darkness, filling the swells with sound and sense. And the beautiful woman on his show singing the impossibility of time in the old Dylan song, the one that teases with "if only" over and over again. The radio tearing at the heart. The way only friends are allowed to do.

If today was not a crooked highway
If tonight was not a crooked trail
If tomorrow wasn't such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all

The Editor moved stolidly through the offices on this Memorial Day weekend, all the staffers glad to be taking a break. He moved to silence a radio that still played on the desk of one of the reporters. Someone had left their monitor on displaying the news from CNN.

ROOMMATES AND A 'REALLY GREAT KID' AMONG VICTIMS

Damn fools wasting electricity. He turned off the monitor and the desklamp and went out to the back after everything was shut up and sat heavily in the lawn chair on the deck, songs of the day running through his head.

Raindogs howl for the century
A million dollars at stake
As you search for your demi-god
And you fake we're the Saint
There's no sex in your violence
There's no sex in your violence
Try to see it once my way
Everything Zen
Everything Zen
I don't think so

He groaned and rubbed his eyes. He took another hit from his scotch and soda and dozed off there. He found himself moving through waist-high grass and a sloshy underfoot with his squad, once again flashing back to that day. There was an open space and woods beyond that. When they got to the edge, Sam moved forward on point and they were midway through that clearing when the incoming brought him down. Everybody got down and Rafael got on the radio while the guys out on the left and right let loose with their 50 cals. Sam was hit but still alive and the Editor could hear him calling out something. Nobody could tell from where it was coming and that is when Johnny stood up and charged forward against all common sense. The Editor woke abruptly to the banging of someone tossing rubbish into the dumpster in front of La Iglesia de La Luz del Mundo de Malduror with the opossum scurrying along the night fence and all the bugs from the box elder flocking.

He went back to his cubicle and poured another stiff one over rocks. Time to go fishing in the next few weeks. Definitely time to go and think about thinks. And remember everything.

Los besos que me diste mi amor
Son los que me estan matando
Ya las lagrimas me estan secando
Con mi pistola y mi corazon
Y aqui siempre paso la vida con
La pistola y el corazon

From far off across the water came the ululating howl of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, quavering through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

(songs reference are "La pistola y el Corazon" by Los Lobos, "Everything Zen" by Bush, "Tomorrow is a Long Time", by Bob Dylan.)

I don’t know how to tell you,
don’t know how to explain
that there is no remedy
for what I feel inside,
for what I feel inside

The moon tells me one thing,
the stars tell me another,
and the light of day sings me
this sad, sad song,
this sad, sad song

The kisses you gave me, my love,
are the ones that will kill me,
and the tears I’ve cried are drying
with my pistol and my heart,
and my life here goes by
with the pistol and the heart

I don’t know how to love you,
don’t know how to embrace you,
because this pain I feel,
this pain I feel
won’t leave me alone

The night is so dark
with its quiet shadows,
and the wind keeps singing
this humble song,
this humble song

The kisses you gave me, my love,
are the ones that will kill me,
and the tears I’ve cried are drying
with my pistol and my heart,
and my life here goes by
with the pistol and the heart

MAY 18, 2014

ROLL DEM BONES

This week the headline photo is of several islanders passing the time on a late Saturday afternoon, engaged in camaraderie and a bit of illicit gambling in a neighbor's driveway.


As we experience the first trickles of the Developer's deluge caused by several multi-thousand dweller-units going up suddenly at once, the former Mayberry RFD experience of this town has begun to change. Click on the still to see the Youtube video of this scene and what the homeowner did about men shooting craps in his front yard.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Last week was Bike to Work Day, and cyclists all over enjoyed Energizer Stations staffed by lovely people enthused by all things bikes. We came across the Fruitvale station where a charming lady handed our man a bag of goodies -- everything good in it including the bag itself, which serves as a practical replacement for disposable plastic.

The first of many development projects just opened up, albeit this one more benign than most. Capon Villa, a19 household project designed to house developmentally disabled adults is located on Santa Clara a stone's throw from Silly Hall.

The letters to the Editor have been substantially about global warming deniers conflicting with climate change proponents, with the deniers generally getting the worst of it in terms of offering rationally argued points of view. Since when did the weather get so emotional? O yeah, back during the junk science days of the Bush Error.

At the Fox in Oaktown we note things heating up again for the summer season:

Coheed and Cambria coming 9/7/14 Cage the Elephan 5/20. Devo appears, minus one founding member, 6/28

Yoshi's Oakland hosts Mark Hummel's Blues Survivors, 5/21. Self-taught bassist wunderkind Victor Wooten pops in 6/8/14.

The Kate Wolf Music festival happens 6/27-29 with of course some amazing people. Like Joan Baez, Los Lobos, Indigo Girls, Jackie Greene among others.


HERE COMES THE SUN

So anyway, a big wind has been causing week-long trofs of weather in a rollercoaster of fluctuations from triple digit heat waves to the sort of chilly stuff about which Mark Twain had complained. It is pretty disconcerting and with the unearthly breezes blowing warm Maeve stood out in front of Jacqueline's salon taking a break in the area reserved for those die-hard smokers, joined by Frederika.

"It's earthquake weather, sure enough," said Maeve.

"Ya sure," said Frederika, who hailed originally from Bismark, N.D.

The Island has one of the strictest anti-smoking ordinances around, so that there are few places one can light up anymore, save for your car and a bare handful of posted areas, well fenced off and close in proximity to the dog pooping fields at the park. The Ordinance is as strict as any Catholic list of prohibitions, and just like the religious dogma, is liberally ignored or attended, depending the convenience, the mood, or the hour with the only major difference in that no smoker has ever been allowed to get off scot free with a string of Hail Mary's.

Now that the weather has improved without at least the threat of death by lightening or pneumonia, the smokers no longer huddle under found roof shelters and plastic tarps or underneath picnic tables in designated areas.

This is the time of fruitions, of long-banked embers bursting forth, of leafy buds and graduations. All the seniors, knowing the end of their incarceration is nigh, slump with insouciance these final days, foot dragging to the brink of Life and change. On Park Street, our three block downtown, all the moppet dogs trundle on leashes past the sausage dogs and the baby pit bulls, guiding their owners with free abandon, pausing for quick, sociable butt sniffing.

Woof! Sniff! Hello sniff! Sniff, sniff! Huff! Pant, pant. Butt sniff! whatsthat? Sniff, again. Wuff!

Yes, Spring has come to the Bay Area. All the tables at Pauls Produce heaped with mounds of oranges, grapes, melons, cassavas, mangoes, squash as green as rainforest, and in the bright sunlight shining fiercely tangerine the glowing fiery habanero.

Tommy and Toby have washed off the decks and trimmed the sails of the Lavender Surprise to take her out for weekend jaunts on the Bay with friends who otherwise would not be able to enjoy such excursions. Not everything is harsh and deplorable on the Island and not everyone who has money misuses their resources to afflict their fellow man. Tacking around Angel Island on a 20 degree list before a hard wind they pass the ponderous bulk of Mr. Howitzer's yacht, the Milton Friedman.

It being a fine day and the season well underway just after a full moon with its tides and also a time to reflect upon subtleties of the Albigensian Heresy, Father Danyluk took to the estuary with his creel and his pole. He thought of all the secular entertainments, fishing remained among the best, for this activity remained close to the work of sustenance for body and soul. It was not lost on him that the Big Man had looked with favor upon men who made their living from the sea, and had been a bit of a sailor himself. As a result he took a great deal of delight in the saltwater tackle, the bright spoonlures and bloodworms. Because these things of the world had been blessed by being used in an holy occupation, they helped feed the body and he, Father Danyluk, inhaled the salt air with zest thinking good, pure thoughts on account of it, they were good and so not all of matter was evil and the body was not evil and so there you Manicheans.

I say, Father Danyluk said to himself as he threw out the first cast, this is going to make a jolly good sermon. . . .

Pastor Nyquist preferred the simplicity of the dry fly and the casting pole, the quiet plash of creeks meandering under overhangs of bough and bank. He was one who loved the dark mysteries of eddies and cutouts where the brookie and the fat browns like to congregate. Indeed while out breathing the good fresh air, he needed no church, no pulpit, no accouterments that became distractions, occupations in themselves. The architraves made by oak and willow were cathedral enough for him and he was satisfied in the moment to preach to the finches who heeded him and his words as well as any congregation he ever drove to tears with tendentiousness.

He looked up and closed his eyes beneath the caress of warm sun on his face, his eyelids glowing, with not even words now between him and some other divine presence.

Something tugged his line and he came back to the world . . ..

Down Snoffish Valley Road the teens leaned against their cars drinking Fat Tire and Anchor Steam. The girls sat on the hoods still warm from drag racing that long straightway. All poised in these eroding weeks on the edge of Life itself, when after graduation the world will open up suddenly like a skiff popping out of the mouth of a river to the vast fecund delta burgeoning with wildlife and color and the rush of the ocean of possibilities. Sharon is going to Mills while Matt is going to Stanford. Jake is going to work for his dad and maybe take over the business someday and Jason is taking the summer to travel to Asia. Sally, his vanishing girlfriend begins to look even now translucent as this Spring day fades, for she has got accepted at the Sorbonne and so off to Europe she will go, and they may never see one another ever again.

The bittersweet Shadenfreude of beginnings and endings and youth and Spring with its promises and disappointments.

As the day pulls back, ebbs with rivulets of color and light to the spectacular horizon of golds and blues and the fog bank rolling over the hills of distant Babylon City with its rusty Golden Gate, the regulars collect in the eddy of the Old Same Place Bar to listen to Denby playing songs by Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Blake.

I got them hesitating stockings,
Got them hesitating shoes
Now I got me a hesitating woman
Making me sing them hesitating blues
Tell me how long do I have to wait
Do I get it now honey?
How long must I hesitate?

Suzie serves up the highballs, the shots, the mixers, while Dawn handles the tap and Padraic mumbles about the kitchen, slings the ice, hauls and hooks up the canisters. It is a good night and he does not have to grab some unruly drunk by the scruff of the neck to toss him out. Everything burbles along with a quiet hum of chatter and clatter of dishware. No sirens tear up the night on this Spring evening.

In the Offices, the Editor swings his cigar from one side of his mouth to the other and takes a hit, causing the end to glow cherry-red in the dim light of the remaining desklamps. All the staff gone home, leaving himself alone with the machines purring. Spring was the most Dangerous Season, but this time it looked like bad romance would pass him by, thank god. He poured himself a couple fingers of scotch and walked out to the back to look at the moon, just beginning to wane after a full Wednesday night. In the dark small creatures scuttled through the grass near the woodpile. From the street beyond, the occasional car shushed down the way. Not a single siren wavered across the sleeping rooftops. It was a quiet night on the Island and nobody got shot or stabbed.

Then, from far off across the water came the ululating howl of the throughpassing train as it trundled from where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, letting its blues cry keen across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, quavering through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaning between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

May 11, 2014


POPPIES, GOLDEN POPPIES, GLEAMING IN THE SUN

The golden poppy became the state flower in 1903 by decree of legislature. Los Altos teacher Leila France wrote the words to the song and melody in 1917.

There was a time when the poppy song was taught to every grammar school child in the state. Even today, when you are with a group of Californians of a certain age and start singing that little ditty, the others will join in the chorus.

"Poppies, golden poppies, gleaming in the sun,

Closing up at evening, when the day is done.

Pride of California, flower of our state.

Growing from the mountains to the Golden Gate . . .".


THIS ISLAND LIFE

This weekend Park Street held its annual Spring Faire with music stages and the usual perps vending kitsch and house siding with a sprinkle of clowns and decent art among the lot.

What is an American faire without the corndog?

Serious clown ....

Boy in the bubble . . .

At the end of the day, the bottom line is what counts. No joking about that . . .

You may know the June Primary Elections are coming up, leading to November elections for major offices in the State. That is the one which will host a number of Propositions, among them the Crab cove ballot measure just recently gathered enough signatures for November's ballot. The Measure seeks to establish the City's position that the McKay Avenue property should be dedicated to East Bay Regional Parks instead of housing for the wealthy.

We will have a look at the two measures to be voted on in June a bit later.

The Hospital is set for the May 22 takeover by the County system that includes Highland as well as John George. Another local hospital which shared some of our economic woes has already been absorbed into the system and that was San Leandro. Unfortunately the $298 parcel tax that was supposed to rescue the hospital, remains in place. The hospital faced multimillion dollar earthquake retrofitting costs on top of a well of red ink that just kept getting deeper with each year despite heroic efforts to stay afloat.

As part of a quirky East Bay tradition, Piedmont High School bird callers appeared on Late Night with David Letterman for the 18th time. Seniors Jasmine Nadim, Sami Barney and Katie Cummins, the first-place winners, performed the mating call of Egretta thula, the snowy egret. Seniors Gabe Bolo, Eli Nash and James Clifford, the second-place finishers, performed Podiceps grisegena, the red-necked grebe. And the third-place finishers, juniors Elliot Gordon and Walter Le Duy, did Nymphicus ghollandicus, the cockatiel.

These students were the winners of the 48th Piedmont High School Bird Calling Contest. Top winner takes home the Leonard J. Waxdeck Trophy named in honor of the popular Biology teacher who started the contest.

The bird calling contest began in 1963 as a class project in Waxdeck's biology class after one of his students asked him, "Wax, can we do something to liven things up here?"

The first competition, held in Waxdeck's classroom at lunchtime, drew only a handful of spectators. But its popularity mushroomed, and it had to be moved to the school's Alan J. Harvey Theater, where it quickly became wildly popular to people outside the school community..

In 1976, Johnny Carson began hosting the bird callers on his show for the next 16 years.

Carson retired in 1992, and Waxdeck died from a heart attack two years later. It looked like the bird calling contest had run its course.

The students were turned down by Jay Leno, Carson's successor, but Letterman, who adored Carson, was glad to have them on his show, and so the tradition continued. It is not known if the more consciously urbane Steven Colbert will re-invite the bird-callers back.

The Letters to the Editor featured a particularly shrill blast from someone who decries the fact that scientists are being listened to nowadays -- perhaps with a wistful longing for the time of George Bush's Junk Science and We Make Our Own Reality theorists.

The man argues that since the major climate zones of the world have not essentially changed from being what they are, there is therefore no evidence for climate change.

In a more preposterous statement, the man asserts that there has been no discernible change in California climate. Um, now what is the Salton Sea and where did it come from? And how about deAnza's expedition having to use spear butts to pound holes in thick ice for the horses to drink water -- in Monterey. In March.

 

MOTHERLESS CHILD

So anyway. It came around to Mother's Day and all the gals who had mothers with whom they were still on speaking terms took their mothers out to Mama's Royal Cafe for Brunch. The guys split up, with Denby getting a ride on Pahrump's scooter to visit his mom at Napa State Hospital where she had been living for the past 18 years since trying to brain a highway patrolman with a genuine Remington sculpture. Mancini visited the Chapel of the Chimes in Oaktown, and Jose Skyped his mother in Sonora using a library computer.

As usual, Mr. Howitzer took a bunch of flowers and a pellet gun to visit Colma. The flowers he laid on his mother's grave. The gun he used to shoot at crows.

Andre and his band did a daytime Mother's Day special show at Roosters, taking with him Occasional Quentin as drummer. Quentin's family all had died in that terrible ferry accident described elsewhere in these pages.

As a result the place was suddenly empty on the weekend, with Adam knocking about with no one to play mumblety-peg or shoot craps for gummi worms and jujubees. Adam plotzed on the couch with huff. Javier, whose mother, abuelta, cousins and anyone of near blood had disowned him long ago due to his scandalous behaviors, asked Adam what was the matter.

Adam said he was bored. He was a boy who left much meaningful content hanging in the air like a fine mist that soon disperses.

Everyone out dealing with their mothers, Amigo.

Yeah well. So what.

And you? What about your mother?

She be in Pelican Bay for cuttin' up somebody during a drug deal, Adam said.

Now how do you know all this a boy your age? I thought you was abandoned.

Marlene found out when she and Andre got the custody from CPS. That skanky 304:they aint never gonna let her out. That's fine by me.

You shouldn't say that, amigo. Even my own mother -- its not her fault I went so bad. After all, she raised you.

She didn't raise nothing but blisters from doing the crack. Marlene raise me.

Well I guess she is your mother then, amigo. For now.

I guess you right about that.

Well what are you gonna do about it?

Do about it? What can I do? I got no bones, man. No way to bake the cake.

Javier paused in thought. It is a trouble, I admit. What is she doing now?

I dunno.

Well go and see, amigo! Say happy mother's day man! She feed you, she clothe you, she got you away from your mean stepdad who didn't want you anyway. Even got you going to school man, so you won't be no illiterati, know what I mean?

You joanin' me? You clownin' on me, pal?

No, friend, I am not joaning you. Go on over there and say something to Marlene. Show some appreciation.

S'okay then. Adam stood up and slapped his pants as if to shake loose the dust.

So what you going to say, amigo?

I dunno. I figure something.

Adam found Marlene in the room using a heavy needle and thread to repair clothing. Her jet black hair fell down around her shoulders to blend with her black t-shirt, tattoos of oleander, trumpet vines snaking up her bare arms. Perched on her nose a pair of reading glasses.

Adam stood a while in the doorway until Marlene said without looking up, "Everything all right Adam?"

"Hi mom," Adam said.

In a little while, Javier watched as the two of them, the girl with the ruined womb who would never have children of her own and the boy who never had a childhood walked out together in great seriousness to the Strand where the dragon kites soared and danced above the tourmaline waves, under a hot sun caressed by soothing breezes.

We are taking a walk, Adam said seriously.

In the empty house, Javier rolled a blunt and contemplated the face inside a silver locket he kept in his waistcoat. Even after all these years and all the recriminations and rejections he still carried that face. The woman whose job it had been to spit him out into the world only to call him a puta-chasing degenerate, a worthless perdador.

Piedro showed up with a bottle of jug wine and the two of them went down to the Cove to drink from paper cups and watch the Citizens in their well-kept cargo shorts and their Teva sandals conduct their BBQ's while all their clean-cut children ran about in a sugar-fueled madness, their mothers placid or incensed as the case might be, sat at picnic tables as the light began to fade on the day.

By this time, Marlene and Adam would have returned from their little Mother's Day walk.

Javier raised his cup and offered a toast. "To all the Mothers, all the mothers of all different kinds, good and bad. Somebody has to keep the human race going."

To all the Mothers, including Mother Earth, said Piedro.

A wet salty breeze kissed them both, los dos perdadors.

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

MAY 4, 2014

IN THE PINES

This week's photo is of the same tree depicted last week, but will just a few weeks of time difference. Sort of reminds one of a few passages in a famous Russian novel.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Things have been pretty quiet around here, what with suddenly moderate dry weather propelling folks and families out to the open spaces. Oaktown has had its own reasons for settling the simmer.

Several gun battles took place last week, along with an attempted suicide bridge jumper, who had intended to leap from the 23rd Street overpass before being physically restrained. In unrelated events, gang members fired on a house on Coolidge Avenue Wednesday. The house is across the street from the Fred Finch Youth Center and diagonally across from the Bret Harte School, but the shooting took place at 10 pm, well after school hours, so no children were endangered.

Police responding to a shots fired call found themselves targets as the gang fired on police while fleeing down Coolidge. At School Street the SUV was stopped by police action and four alleged assailants in an SUV were apprehended. Several guns were seized along with a 50 shot clip.

Fortunately, given the amount of firepower employed, no one was hurt this time.

Possibly as a result of these and other gun-involved events, Cinco de Mayo celebrations were subdued in the East Bay.

Just because you are a nonprofit school does not make you warm and fuzzy, as we learned from the NEA charter school, whose governing Board fired the top administrator and the COO over the vocal protests from students, parents and faculty. Maafi Gueye was put on administrative leave April 17, but widespread protests against that action seem to have pushed the Board to outright dismissal of her and Chief Financial Officer Lina Miura April 24th.

Officials with the NEA learning center are not commenting on the terminations, citing employee confidentially.

People know by now that the DOJ is seeking to seize Mckay Avenue via Eminent Domain on behalf of the GSA which sought to unload property served by the avenue on auction. The street property is owned by East Bay Parks and Rec. which had expected to obtain the old federal storage area so as to bolster the Crab Cove facility nearby, and to obey the wishes of the citizens who voted to expand the shoreline park area.

Just about everyone is vocally against both the seizure and the results of the auction in which Tim Lewis Properties offered the highest bid. By "just about everybody" we do not exaggerate, as the numerous large coalitions against this smoky back room deal can tot up over half a million souls.

We understand the GSA wants the right to dispose of property in a way that serves its own interests in these economically challenged, Tea Party infused, times, but not at the expense of wrecking small communities like ours.

May 8th, Thursday, is Bike to Work Day, so Cage drivers be on the lookout for heavier than usual bicycle traffic. And you bikers, please act as courteous ambassadors to pedestrians and Cagers alike. We know Babylon across the water is developing an attitude problem that does not help us who travel by bike regularly, sharing the road with equanimity and peace. In other words, don't be a$$hole$ even to recognized jerks.


STONES IN MY PASSWAY

So anyway, all the congregation at Emmanuel Lutheran are a buzz with gossip and rumors that Pastor Nyquist might be leaving the Island where he had been preaching for a number of long years. People are saying that he might be heading up to a new opportunity in Minnesota where it was said by people in the know that the pastor there had departed on a mission to bring the simplicity of Luther to the Italians in Rome.

People should have known that the entire story held more hot air than the Graf Zeppelin. Bringing Californian-style Lutheranism to a place like Minnesota is like bringing sushi to a vegetarian potluck. People might appreciate the color, but they simply would not take it in. Pastor Nyquist was known for having bolstered the ranks of the converted by creating the Lutheran Cheerleaders, a collection of attractive women got up in thigh-high leather boots and short skirts. Their entry in the annual Mayor's July 4th Parade never failed to attract attention. Which probably was exactly the point.

Some said Pastor Nyquist was just envious of the attention Pastor Bauer got when he paid his sick calls on a gleaming Harley Davidson.

Some speculate the curious occurrence of two Pastors for one island City came about out of concern by the Synod that besides 20 or 30 other churches serving a town of our stature, we are possessed by a Catholic Bishopric Cathedral as well as a church with attached middle school.

This rumor all came about after Pastor Nyquist gave a talk at UCB Extension titled, "The Intense Religious Spirituality of Samuel Beckett." Nyquist claimed that every work of Beckett's was a failed meditation in which he sought to strip away all the frippery between himself and god. What this had to do with Minnesota is anyone's guess. Maybe people thought Pastor Nyquist had begun overreaching himself. Putting on airs.

Father Danyluk had his Knights of Carumba, a sort of Mariachi order of Catholics, who generally enjoyed lots of costume bedecked with brocade and geegaws and more rules and regulations about what not to do on any given day of the week than you could shake a stick at.

As for reading material, Danyluk was a Joycean, which figures.

On a small island gossip reigns as Supreme Commander and Pastor Nyquist eventually was forced to issue a lengthy sermon on the lilies of the field, they that sow not nor go disco dancing. That and "neighbor take the log out of thine own eye".

Furthermore if there was a correspondence between himself and the Roman Mission, that was a matter for the Synod and you people mind your own peas and carrots.

Well it was a long speech and one filled with many allusions and words that shamed a few people who had been talking and so people were really glad when, as a prelude for the organ breaking in, Caroline got the Lutheran Cheerleaders to stand up and chant, "Way to go, Luther Bro'!" and "Ein fester Berg ist uns're Gott! We love our Lord an aweful lot!"

As for the Knights of Carumba, that order came about, as did most of Catholicism, during the Middle Ages when a small island in the Mediterranean had been threatened by the naval armies of Anabaptism led by Don Miguel de Loco. The island was besieged and the people had no bread to eat. The desperation grew such that the people were forced to kill and cook their housecats. King Felipe saw the people losing heart and so he commanded members of his personal guard to pick up instruments so as to distract the people. This they did and while performing a spy brought news of this to Don Miguel aboard his warship who was so intrigued he stole onto the island so as to hear for himself this new kind of blues music.

The story goes he was so beguiled that he remained for three days before lifting the blockade and sailing away. Others say that he sat enchanted for so long the navy of Torquemada arrived to destroy the besiegers and capture Don Miguel.

Eventually the Spanish branch of pre-Lutheranism was stamped out by putting people into iron cages and heating them up until the person inside died horribly. The cages and contents then were hung from the town cathedral belfry as a warning and so that is why you seldom hear about Spanish Lutherans.

In any case in honor of the great service his men had done, King Felipe had the order of the Knights of Carumba created and so for hundreds of years they have performed their secret and public rituals. Nowadays, this order sustains itself in many parts of the world by means of selling pardons, the last Catholic entity to still continue this practice. Father Danyluk dislikes this method of fundraising, which stirs up bad feelings about old times, and so he has put Sister Incontinence in charge of helping them out with bake sales and concerts.

On a breezy evening of cloud scudded skies Father Danyluk stepped out into the courtyard and sniffed the air. The seasons had changed. The trees were budding, the insect life swarmed, the blood stirred. Soon it would be time for trout fishing. By god it was time to haul out the old rig and check the flies. The black ant. The caddis. The nymph. The woolybugger. Time to fish was at hand!

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

April 27, 2014

TIE A YELLOW RIBBON

This week's image comes from Carol, a resident at the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles. It is a last reminder of old Winter as we segue into another Season. It is also a reminder that Alameda is a Spanish word for a tree-lined promenade.


LIKE THE WEATHER

Latest report from the weather Dweebers is that La Nina is now done with this latest storm, which moved from here along the coast to pound the Mammoth Lakes area with tremendous ferocity, dumping 3.00 inches of rain in less than 24 hours.

We will have a short, sharp, hot summer followed by the consequences of the El Nino from hell. Starting in the Fall we may be seeing storm after storm of pelting rain around here and down the coast. Some of you may remember what happened in the 80's when the heavens cut loose and sent much of Los Angeles sliding down in mud and debris. It is a bit early to say, but it is very likely to be kind of like that again, so we enjoin all of you to stock up NOW on sand bags, clean gutters, PVC pipe and waterproofing.

The Dweeb report forecast the last Pineapple Express and the one before that with 100% accuracy several months in advance, so we have faith he is right about things this time. This is his latest on the anticipated El Nino:

"EL Nino:

I want to make a comment about the Hype of the Big Kelvin Wave that has moved across the tropical pacific near the Equator and has successfully brought warmer then normal SSTs to a large region of the ENSO basin. This is just one of hopefully more Kelvin Waves through out the Summer and Fall. . . .

As far as predicting a big winter for the west coast due to El Nino, I am not “at this time” buying into that scenario.

Why?

Because for one, It is too early. Two, We are still in a long term cycle of the negative phase of the PDO . . . . Yes you could make the Argument that the PDO has been positive for the past three month. But only weakly positive. It would not take much for the sign to change back to negative this year.

So what could happen next Fall? We may end up with the Modoki El Nino. A sort of hybrid where by SSTA’s are warmer than normal over the central pacific but colder than normal over the tropical eastern pacific. IE Sort of like an El Nino and a La Nina combined all in one. I am not saying that this will happen, but it is too soon to say that it won’t."
- See more at: mammothweather.com

By a "Mokoki El Nino", Howard Schecter (The Dweeb) means that it is possible that a very cold, relatively dry El Nino could occur.

Oh, and we are likely to see a bit more rain around the end of May.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

A return to the Pernicious Peripatetic Perambulations of Pusillanimous Three-dotulism . . .

The Future of the local Coast Guard is leaving us, but for a better Future for America. The German word for Future is Zukunft, and it's Vice Admiral Paul Zukunft who is departing neighboring Coast Guard Island, where he has served as Commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area since April 2012.

President Obama has presented Zukunft to the Senate for confirmation as the 25th Commandant over the entire Coast Guard.

His replacement, Vice Admiral Charles Ray, was officially handed the station vacated by Zukunft on Tuesday.

As the new Pacific commander, Ray's responsibilities will cover more than 74 million square miles of ocean that stretches from the Western United States to Asia and from the Arctic to Antarctica. It involves 13,000 Coast Guard personnel.

The Island Citizen's Task Force will meet this Wednesday, 4/30/14 at 7 p.m. in Conference Room A at the Hospital on Clinton. Topic is "Responsible School Board Governance" . . .

On that subject, plans for comprehensive plans (you have to know this is all about government right?) for the AUSD got knocked around Monday and Wednesday among a few dozen parents, school staff, and other interested parties. At the heart of a series of three meetings is the desire to arrive at a Facilities Master Plan that encompasses all schools in the District. Besides the basic nitty gritty involving fixing the Kofman auditorium and the Encinal gym, two explosive topics arose: where to put the District Administrative offices once its controversial lease expires, and whether to consolidate the two high schools into a single mega-school of 3,000 kids.

Um, yeah. You heard that right. Such a school consolidation would probably cost the District upwards of $180 million dollars. Can you say "another Parcel Tax"? I knew you could.

Best get over to Donald Lum on 4/30 for another discussion about these subjects. The consolidated school is unlikely to fly far, but you may want to make sure sufficient rationality is at least involved in some of the plans.

The PUC approved our AMP request for a 5-year rate increase, to start digging into Islander's wallets July 1. Increase will come to about $2.25 per household . . .

An interesting observation made at the recent volunteer project to refurbish the Least Tern Nest area at the Point with protective material for the young chicks. "The nesting site was chosen by the terns, not the Navy or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service . . .".

RIPPLE

So anyway, Larry Larch had a big problem with the cell phone he got from MegaTel, and he was having a devil of a time dealing with tech support over the phone.

Hello, this is Jake. How can I help you today?

It's about the phone that got delivered today. . . .

(Impatiently) Of course it's about your phone. You are calling MegaTel where Phones are Us. What is the problem with your phone?

I can't use it. . . .

(Interrupting) Are you calling from your phone now?

Of course not. I cannot use the phone you sent . . .

Then how on earth are you talking to me now?

This phone belongs to my, uh, colleague Ms. Light.

All right then. You are using a competitor's product to call me. Is your own phone inoperable?

I am not sure. . . .

Mr. Larch, I see by the code you entered that you are Larry Larch. Is this correct?

Yes.

Is the phone turned on?

I think so.

You just think the phone is turned on. Is the battery installed and fully charged?

I am not sure.

Are you calling from a construction zone?

Am I what? No, I am at home. If it is about signal interference this is not . . .

I say that because I am hearing a lot of crashing noises coming over the line. And it sounds like you are moving around. Can you see the main screen of your device?

Um that is hard to do right now . . . .

Orient the phone so that the glass faces you. Mr. Larch hold it upright and find the on/off switch. Do it now.

I cannot do it now.

Is the phone in the house where you are now? You say it was delivered.

It was delivered. That is the problem.

That is not a problem -- that is a MegaTel success. Is the phone in your possession?

Not exactly. . . .

Well if the phone was lost or stolen why did you not say so at the beginning?

No, the phone is in the house. It is right here. But I am not able to see the main screen right now . . .

Are you blind?

Beg pardon?

Are you disabled? Can you physically hold the phone? If not, we can activate voice command mode remotely for you.

I am not disabled! I can hold the phone because I am holding Ms. Light's phone right now! I just cannot get the phone!

Mr. Larch please tell me why you cannot get the phone and why this is a problem I need to resolve.

Please don't interrupt me again.

(Sigh) Are you calling from California? Nevermind. What is the problem? Be specific.

There is a bear attached.

Did you say you have a bear attached to your phone?

Specifically a Panda bear.

How did this happen, Mr. Larch?

The UPS showed up with a forklift and unloaded this box. Inside the box was the phone and the bear. They are chained together.

It's clear to me you called the wrong department, Mr. Larch.

What!? You are tech support are you not?

Mr. Larch, I am tech support, but tech support cannot resolve all the world's problems. I fix broken and malfunctioning equipment and weird configuration stuff. I cannot fix animals or mend broken marriages. The department you want is Sales.

Sales? Why sales?

Did you buy a bear Mr. Larch?

No I bought a phone . . . .

Then you must arrange for an RMA and ship it back.

(Distressed) How on earth am I going to get a 500 pound bear back into a box and return it? Can't you help me?

Look I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I know nothing about wildlife. I will transfer you to Sales. Thank you for choosing MegaTel, where Phones are Us. One moment . . .

(Ring, ring. If you are calling to purchase a new phone or add one to your existing line, press 1. If you are calling about billing or want to pay your bill, press 2. If you are calling about changes to your account, press 3. For all other inquiries, press 4 or wait on the line and an agent will be with you shortly. Due to high call volumes you may experience extended hold times. To hear these instructions in Spanish, press 5. To hear these instructions in Tagalog, press 6. To hear these instructions in Arabic, Swahili, or Canadian French, press 7. All other languages, press 9.)

(Northeast Indian accent) This is Soraya. How may I help you today?

I have a problem with my MegaTel phone. I have to have it returned with everything that is attached.

I am so sorry to hear that you are unhappy with your phone and I will be happy to assist you in any way you wish. With whom do I have the pleasure of speaking today?

I am Larry Larch.

Very good. And do you have your account number?

Here is the telephone number . . . . (reads the number)

I am so sorry I did not hear that last number. Are you calling from a construction site?

Ah no. From home. It is rather chaotic right now. The refrigerator is tipped over.

That does sound unpleasant. Was that a 9 or a 5 you said as the last number?

Five.

OK I see you have purchased the Gumlung Link Line model 500S. What precisely displeases you about this phone, Mr. Larch? Is it the color?

No the color is fine. There is a bear attached.

Come again? Could you repeat that?

The phone arrived chained to a Panda bear.

I see. You do not want the bear.

He is now getting into the cabinets, by the sound of it. Heck, I think he found the five cases of Twinkies. I do not think he will leave a single one of them for me. No I do not want the bear. I never want to see another Panda ever again.

You sound sad about your Twinkies. This is an American food item?

Yes.

They must be delicious. I think I would like to enjoy one myself.

They are not delicious. They taste wretched.

Mr. Larch, why on earth do you possess five cases of Twinkies if you detest them?

Listen honey . . .

My name is Soraya.

Soraya. Sweetie. The company that used to make them closed the factory. I bought them to resell on eBay. But listen, Soraya, I am more concerned that I have a bear in the house. Can you like use your computer to get this bear out of here?

I see by your contract you are not supposed to get the Panda. That one comes with the Ling Ling Plan, not the Link Line. The Ling Ling plan is designed for public organizations like the San Diego Zoo. That explains everything! Someone made a mistake!

Well I am glad that is all cleared up. Geez, and it had to be me.

Just be glad you didn't get the Leaping Leo Plan. I am so sorry. It looks like someone made a typo. This is not good.

More than a typo, ma'am. My place is a mess and . . . oh no! No, no, no, no! (Sounds of anguish)

What is it Mr. Larch! What has happened!

Soraya no living creature ever should eat five cases of Twinkies in one sitting, not even a Panda.

I am given to understand that they prefer fresh bamboo.

Yeah, well, he is still a bear. And five cases of twinkies along with the pot roast, all the potatoes, the bread and the oatmeal gotta go in one of two directions, up or down.

I am afraid to ask. Which way did it go?

Mother's ottoman. It's ruined! What have you people done to me?!

I am so very sorry Mr. Larch, but you must return that bear quickly or you are going to be charged a lot of money.

Can't you come get it yourself?

I cannot, Mr. Larch.

Why not? Why cannot you come to get your bear out of my house?

I cannot come to you Mr. Larch, although I feel your pain. There is nothing more I would wish than to be there in America to stand beside you and maybe hold your hand, for I sense you are distraught.

O please, Soraya! Help me!

I cannot come to you Mr. Larch because you are calling me in the Republic of Basura Maru which is about five thousand miles away from your location in California. We are not far from the Philippines. Besides, I am only a woman who stands about five three weighing no more than 90 pounds. I simply do not have the skillset to move 500 pound bears. Although I really would love to visit the United States and enjoy one of your Twinkies.

I was kinda hoping you could get someone from your company to do it. After all it was your mistake.

I am just working the call desk for Sales, Mr. Larch. I had nothing to do with this serious error . . . .

No, no, no, I don't mean you personally, Soraya. I meant your company, MegaTel. I really apologize. I am sorry. I am just upset about the bear.

Apology accepted. You sound like a nice man, Larry. What do you do for a living?

Well, I own a business . . .

A business owner! And what kind of business is that you own?

We provide service animals to people with, uh, certain kinds of problems. And therapy.

You sound like an intelligent man. Do you do this alone?

Ah, no the therapist is Ms. Light. And there are the dog trainers. . . .

This Ms. Light is your wife?

Ah, no. I do not think she is so interested in men per se.

Are you married?

Uh, no . . .

You should think about it. You own a business. I see your age here from the credit check . . . . You know I am not married either and people tell me that I am not so bad looking even after I cut my hair short because that shipping clerk Amir kept doing things to my locks. He is probably the one who sent you the bear. You know I am about your age. Younger of course.

Amir? Soraya? Where did you say you are located?

Ah! You are perceptive. We obtained independence from India in 1984. We were annexed by India when they got their own independence from Great Britain.

But that was many years before 1984. I did not know India had any colonies. Oh heck there goes the lamp . . .

Neither did India. It all came out when Hammi Rajaput, our tax collector and Minister of Revenue got sent to prison. He had been taking all the money that was supposed to go to New Delhi and squirreling it away in a private Swiss bank account. India was embarrassed it owned a colony of any kind, so they granted us independence without a fight.

There can't be that much revenue there.

There is fishing -- mostly codfish. We ship a lot of salt cod to Minnesota for some reason. And tourism. You should come visit sometime. I is very very very quiet. I could arrange for you a place to stay . . . .

Uh, thanks for the offer, but I need to deal with this bear. I am very upset about this.

May I suggest Ambien?

Actually I take Trazadone . . . .

No, not for you, Larry. Give it to the bear. Stuff a twinkie with half a bottle. When he's asleep, shove him out the door. We do need to get the phone back though.

I don't have to pay for the bear?

Larry, my darling, for you I will arrange the paperwork so that this thing will look like it never happened. Only because you sound like a nice man and I so much want to make this MegaTel customer happy. You will not have to worry about a thing. As for the bear, if the Ambien does not work, dear Larry, call the police. Just do not mention MegaTel.

Soraya, thank you so much!

My pleasure. And my extension when you wish to speak to me next is 395.

Well I don't know how to express my gratitude.

O I can think of a few things. We'll be in touch.

O really?

After all, I have your number and I know where you live. Bye bye and thank you for choosing MegaTel to be your partner for life . . . .

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

APRIL 20, 2014

CHERRY CHERRY!

The "cherry" referenced here is the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown where this gal performed some acrobatics. A full shot of the sign appears below.

James Hargis is a talented artist living now in San Francisco where he has been trolling about with a camera taking quick shots of things quirky in the City. He has what is believed the largest photo collection of the "Mar Squid", which now appears just about everywhere on every corner in Babylon across the water. He has not exhibited his work for a while, so if you want to view the various incarnations of this odd graffito, which appears to be the work of one single person, then you must Facebook friend him.


THIS ISLAND LIFE

Got a couple distressing items about long-term business residents packing up shop and leaving. Most people who care about wine know that Rosenblum Cellars moved its wine production facillity to Beaulieu Vineyards in Napa Valley in 2010, after the sale by the Rosenblum family to mega-corporation Diageo in 2008.

Founded in Oakland in 1978, Rosenblum moved into its Alameda facility in 1987. While the winery produces a diverse portfolio of wines, it was considered a leading producer of Zinfandel and Rhône varietals in California. Over the years it cultivated a devoted group of customers, who traditionally flocked to its quarterly parties at the winery. "The open houses were truly nuts," said former Rosenblum winemaker Jeff Cohn.

London-based Diageo, which owns liquor brands such as Smirnoff, José Cuervo and Tanqueray, has struggled in the global economic downturn but recently reported that third-quarter 2009 sales rose 12 percent. The company has been slashing overhead at Rosenblum for some time, eliminating single-vineyard-designated wines from its once formidable list.

Now we hear from Bizjournal that Rosenblum Cellars is relocating its Alameda tasting room and visitors center to Jack London Square in Oakland, due possibly to the decline in attendance to the special tasting events on the Island.

The new location is three miles from its current tasting room in Alameda, and is much more easily accessible by public transit and freeway, officials said.

The new tasting center is slated to open in July, after an existing lease in Alameda expires in June.

The founder and former owner, Kent Rosenblum didn't think much of the move at the time, saying, "this is what happens when you let bean counters run a company." His daughter, Shauna Rosenblum, remains active in winemaking and has a hand in the Island-based Rockwall winery.

Also distressing is the scuttlebutt that the family which operates the Party Warehouse on Park Street is planning on retiring soon, which will involve shuttering the store filled with luau decorations, matching paper plates and tablecloths, helium and regular balloons and specialized cake pans as well as seasonal festivity items.


OD YAVO SHALOM ALEINU

So anyway, first off, lets just say strange things happen in Spring. Furthermore Easter is, of course, when the Magic Bunny of Fertility got schlockered in a bar and wound up feeling crucified for days afterward with a terrible hangover. It was only when the Enchanted Chicken of Galilee dropped by with nice warm Mexican hot chocolate that the Magic Bunny revived himself. One thing led to another in that place which was dark as a tomb where somebody had forgotten to lock the door and pretty soon that chicken was laying eggs everywhere, which goes to show you, if you want to be a good Samaritan, better take precautions, like a basket of condoms.

There were some Apostles and some Hindus and somehow Mary of Magdalen got tangled up in this to create what would become the French Meringovian dynasty, but that is all very confusing for the Pharoah smote the First borns, which may be an allusion to abstract jazz. Pharoah Sanders is a nice man and we really do not think he would actually hit anybody. It may have something to do with walls of sound rising like the tidal waves of Galilee or the Suez or whatever.

the wine helps forget your troubles

There was a plague of toads and then of locusts and then it rained for 40 days and 40 nights while all the Second Borns got together for a really nice lamb dinner after escaping slavery. Which is why they all eat library paste and drink wine. The library paste is supposed to remind you of bricks and the wine helps forget your troubles and take away the taste of bitter herbs, which is not a bad idea, really. God knows why you would want to stick something bitter in your mouth and chew on it, but people do it anyway.

Over at Marlene and Andre's, everyone settled in for a feast. Marlene and Andre celebrated Pesach at the Household on Otis in the usual haphazard manner. A table got laid out, actually it was the coffee table in the main room, with the usual condiments of horseradish and walnut mush and salad from the dollar store. Marlene had saved up her pennies and gotten a donation from Suan to get a lamb shank from the Encinal Market, so they had the meat and the bone at once. All the parsley was doing well, so they had the dipping greens from the ironmongery garden out back. Occasional Quentin, as the obvious childish one, got to ask all the questions, even though Adam really was younger in age.

A visitor named Baba kept insisting on her needs. "I need to have clean and kosher napkins. So give me yours," Baba said to Quentin.

Given that the household was normally chaotic, so went the Seder once again this year as per Tradition. Island-life Tradition.

Instead of asking the proper questions from the Haggadah, Quentin came up with his own. "Why did G-d let Hitler kill all the Jews?" Quentin asked, and naturally it was all at the wrong moment. Martini came in then and drank up the glass of wine left out for the Prophet on the edge of the table, which caused Andre much grief and severely put out Marlene who put her head in her hands.

"I need to sit where it is warm on account of my condition," Baba said. "Since you have the comfy chair, i am doing to take the divan and the settee for my feet."

"Is anybody going to eat that egg?" Tipitina said. She had given up on her own Catholic upbringing to attend this dinner and all of it was confusing to her.

"Where's the damn cracker I saw around here earlier?" said Marsha. "I wanna get into that sweet stuff there with the walnuts and raisins."

"That's the afikomen," said Marlene. "You gotta go find it now. It's hidden. What are you doing with the effing prophet's wine you dimshit!" This last part was screamed at the hapless Martini.

"Because there is no god and he hated the Jews," shouted Andre at Quentin. "Now read the questions we gave you on the list!"

"How can I find any damn thing in this effing s***hole of a place! It's an effing s***storm here!" Marsha said. She was a woman with a tongue on her, so to speak.

"Gimmee some more of that wine," Snuffles said, for the bum had also been invited in as the token foreigner, or maybe the prophet, although there was a lot of doubt about that last part.

The new kid, Adam, also was there. "Yo dude. Don't bogart that bottle man!"

Why is this night different from any other

"Why are we doing all this crap," Quentin asked. "Why is this night different from any other." Adam was younger in physical age but all agreed that Quentin was much more childlike, so to him were given the questions.

"I need water," Baba said. "You have the napkins already over there. So the water jug should be over here by me."

"There you go," said Andre approvingly. "You finally got it right. We basically doing this to commemorate our delivery from slavery."

"I dunno about that. We be free? I think we be pretty effed up." Adam said.

"Dude," said Arthur, who had returned from far off Minnesotta and his failed attempt to hook up with a gospel singer there. "You don't know nothing about slavery. Lemmee tell you about my man Malcolm X . . .".

"Adam, I am watching you on the alcohol, buddy! You gotta go to school Monday!" Andre said. "I mean it!"

"Yuck! This stuff is bitter!" Adam had a mouthful of green silage from the odd plate in the center with its four divisions and he spat the mess into a napkin.

"Dat odder stuff is schweet," Snuffles said, and he ploughed a matzo into the haroset then shoveled the pile into his toothless mouth with only a moderate amount of flying crumbs, dripping wine sauce and spittle trajectories.

Adam got shut off from the wine and after that things went a bit smoother. And Marsha told her story of escaping across the wide country from the servitude of Jersey, her beating by her husband there and her shame and her battle with the booze, and Javier talked about crossing the vast Sonora Desert and then the Border at the Rio Grande and working in the fields with los Migras and sleeping under the trucks to get away from the sun, and so it was learned that each of us had been slaves in some form, either in Egypt or some other place and had crossed the vast ocean on dry feet and soaked straw and clay bricks with the hot salt of tears and sweat. All knew exile and wandering and the pain thereof.

this year in fear and shame, next year in virtue and justice

The matzo bread was found by Adam after a great deal of clambering under Andre's shirt and so the proscribed was allowed now and with each glass of wine the far off hills began to skip like rams and old stories were told and so, although it was not a perfect Tradition, it was a Tradition of that household, this year in fear and shame, next year in virtue and justice, with the next year always getting postponed until the next and this sort of delay had been going on since the time of Moses when they refused him a Visa to Palestine.

"Hey I led the people through the desert for 40 years and kicked serious ass over that golden calf idol thing, I deserve entry to the Promised Land."

"Sorry dude. Go back to the desert and do not pass Go, do not collect 200 shekels. You should'na busted up those tablets I gave you. Talk about a law breaker! Your papers are not in order."

"Oy, I knew it; G-d is a German. Vey iss mir!" Wailing, sackcloth, ashes. The whole bit.

"When I invent Germany, then you really will be sorry. You stiff-necked people I parted the Red Sea for you and got you out of that Egypt where the cockroaches are as big as housecats. I have no idea why I chose you."

"I am not so sure it is to advantage to always be Chosen. 40 years in the desert without even a decent map."

"Okay so I relent a little bit. I give you a peak on what the place looks like. The place your family gets to settle -- maybe with some quibbles with the neighbors -- every neighborhood has got to have neighbors. So there! See that . . . !"

"Oy, mein Gott, mein Gott! Is beautiful!"

"Hey what did I say about taking my name in vain? There you go again, Moses. You always get yourself into trouble."

"All right you said that, but you never wrote it down . . . ".

"Yes I did!"

"Like where?"

"On those effing tablets you broke in a rage, you imbecile! Moses, Moses, Moses! In you I have entrusted the patriarchy for five thousand years worth of generations and this is the way you act."

"I don't get to go in for just, like a little bit?"

"No."

"Not even a short vacation?"

"No."

"Maybe some fruit from a tree there . . . ".

"Don't go there Moses. I am still sore about the last time fruit was involved."

"How about like one of those house-swap deals like they do . . ."

"NO!" Voice of thunder. Mountains cracking. Skies clouding over.

Jesus Contreras, in order to avoid that terrible dream in which he became the actual original Jesus, who suffered all kinds of mean, nasty, cruel things like scourging and thorns and piercings and crucifragem and heaps of insults on top of that even, and Jesus, our Jesus (pronounced hay-zoos), went through all that in his dream last year, so he made the effort to stay up all night. So Jesus went to hang with his buds at Silvio's place and they all sat around watching Incredibly Strange Wrestling and drinking beer. Naturally, this sort of thing petered out for most of his homies in the early hours of the morning, precisely the most dangerous time for dreams.

In terror, Jesus snapped abruptly awake amid all his snoozing mates and made a beeline in the dim light of the DVR screen to the bathroom where he ran into Maggie, the Irish girl who had fled her hometown of Wicklow so as to escape getting sent to the Magdalene Launderies on account of getting pregnant out of wedlock. The boy absconded and the child died. In any case Maggie stood there in her nightshirt, woozy from Trazadone, and Jesus stood there, unsteady from beer and lack of sleep and anxiety.

"Whats your problem," Maggie said.

"I can't sleep," said Jesus. "And I gotta piss."

"Don't let me stop you," Maggie said. She was an Irish girl with red hair and could be short.

Jesus stumbled to the loo and managed to get most of the stream into the pot, splashing a bit, and all was fine until he reached for a paper towel with his pants still down and fell over into the tub, taking a towel rack and a shampoo shelf with him in his wooziness. In a tangle there he freed himself from his pants and the towel rack and that is when Maggie came in wondering what the hell as the entire house was then asleep save for those two.

"What the hell are you doing?" Maggie said.

"I am taking a piss if you mind," Jesus said.

"It looks like you are trying to bathe with the laundry." Maggie said. "Are you all right?"

"I fell," Jesus said. "So is the nature of man."

"Let me help you, you sodding fool," Maggie said.

So that is when Maggie disentangled Jesus, but without finding his pants and when they went back to find where Jesus was to sleep, Jorge had already taken the cot in a drunken stupor, so Maggie offered her bed and so that is how Jesus got through the final hours of the terrible Easter time -- by sleeping with Maggie in her bed without his pants and when both of them awoke the following morning there was a resurrection of a kind that was handled in the usual way as is the nature of man.

The Editor strolled the aisles of the Island-Life newsroom, shutting off this and that desklamp with a feeling a great change was coming. Soon there would be another parting of the Red Sea, another passage across the desert. The moon was waning, but still glowed with three-quarter force from that red eclipse of last week.

Something may have arisen, but there remains more to save

We may have evaded disaster but yet more is to come. Something may have arisen, but there remains more to save. Spring erupts as it always has with tremendous force, scattering seed pods hither and yon. And the girl on the ferry with the dancer's tights and short skirt still haunts the dreams of Denby as he trolls for another gig to take him out of this place, this broken place of dying dreams that always smells of cheap wine and cigarettes.

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

APRIL 13, 2014

SOUTHERN CROSS

This week's photo comes from Tammy and is of a floating wharf at one of the marinas. This is just to remind you folks that we do indeed live on an island.

NEW TIMES NEW TIMES NEW NEW NEW TIMES!

This week we dropped in to a sparsely attended meeting in which CALTRANS representatives presented the plans that involved the next stage of the Nimitz overhaul. It is now our turn for the massive project, which this time will handle the 29th and 23rd Street access ramps with associated overpasses and pedestrian as well as bicycle thoroughfares, which directly affects Islanders seeking something so mundane as commuting to work.

The project still needs to go to bid for a contractor to actually do the work, but the way things look the process has already developed a juggernaut momentum in all its phases.

The construction begins this summer on CALTRANS Project 717.0, perhaps as soon as June, but that is overly optimistic. Time frame features major work going on from August of this year to 2018. That's right, the main access to the Island will be under construction for five years or more, so you better get used to it.

Phase I begins with a soundwall on 880 between 29th and 23rd Avenues, northbound direction.

The representatives there solumnly assured us that no access services will be hindered -- which is frankly preposterous -- so we have to consider that going forward will involve more of the same. If you recall the onset at High Street with its infamous piledriver, some of the same stuff will be happening here again.

You can go to AlamedaCTC.org to learn more about funding for this fellow.

There is a facebook page called i880corridor but no one has updated that page since last year. The actual website, www.i880corridor.com appears to have been hacked -- the page displays only what appears to be Chinese.

The city website has only its general EIR about the Point development, which references the 2009 proposal document you find at Caltrans. Go look at the EIR at http://alamedaca.gov/sites/default/files/department-files/2013-09-03/4c_traffic.pdf

The City of Oakland has a document that outlines zoning and proposals all along the estuary, referencing this project as well as the Tidelands protection emphasis, which ought to put a serious kink in those people who want to build 25 story highrises on the water. Have a look at OAKLAND ESTUARY ZONING PDF and pay attention to the way the different sections are divvied up for land use.

There is a website devoted to this project alone and it is published nowhere, nohow and to nobody but right here, so write it down people! Go to http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/projects/88023rd29thovercrossing.

Otherwise, your GoTo Goddess on this project shall be Roquel Johnson, Branch Chief, at 286-6445. She'll be happy to answer the easy questions and give you all the documentation in alternative formats you need.

Last year the Sun wrote a piece on this proposed work. According to the January 27, 2012 article, Local Traffic Changes on Tap, by Eric Sagata,

"Currently, two freeway overpasses at 23rd Avenue provide drivers with four lanes in addition to a direct onramp onto northbound I-880. The proposed project would replace these overpasses with a single three-lane bridge equipped with a traffic signal that would allow drivers access to a new northbound I-880 onramp. At 29th Avenue, the MTC proposes that the current two-lane overpass be demolished and replaced with a four-lane bridge.

The plans would divert traffic onto 29th Avenue and off 23rd Avenue. Additionally, the new northbound I-880 exit at 29th Avenue would eliminate the need for drivers to make a U-turn at the 23rd Avenue off ramp signal in order to reach the Park Street Bridge."

Perhaps because of the midweek timing for the meeting, or perhaps due to general Island "Developer Burnout" with regard to the many projects that seem to be part of a general "land rush" few attended the meeting this week and of those, most public comments complained about graffiti problems more than construction inconvenience, or the fact that even the project proposal notes, "the impact on eastbound Alameda traffic knowingly will increase a backlog along Park Street and feeder streets in Alameda by 10 to 20 percent." Additionally, by eliminating one of two bridges, "Instead of a free flowing entrance onto the I-880 for nonrush hour traffic, vehicles will have to wait at a new traffic signal on the Park Street bridge. Traffic models show that the redesign can back up traffic all the way into Alameda.

So why in Sam Hill is Caltrans doing things this way? A gander at the proposed finished project shows extensive greenscaping around 23rd, which no longer will be an accessway to the Island by design of the project. Now the extensive estuary development plans by independent parties start to make sense, for with all traffic bottled up on the Island, that entire area becomes much more desireable for upscale property development.

A major landholder of parcels on the estuary did show up at the meeting in the form of Jim Connolly, who has his own plans for a 25 story highrise or two, albeit he did say privately "I'll never see that one realized in my lifetime."

Mr. Connolly pooh-poohed the nervous concerns about graffitti as much ado about nothing, suggesting local artists get hired to muralize the walls, which has proven effective in other areas. Only one visitor presented a question, besides us, concerning traffic impact during construction.

The official answer is that there will be backups, but no access services will be inhibited. That and a sack of salt grains will take you far in this world.

NOCTURNE

So anyway, why on earth would anyone convert from Lutheranism to Catholicism? That is like changing your suit from formal tux with a nice boutonniere to a gaudy harlequin's outfit that seems fun at first, but which features a barbed wire chastity belt and explosive dingle-balls.

So anyway again. People always think it is going to be somehow better over there on the other side of the fence. The high population of California has this sentiment for which to thank.

The high fogs have rolled in, which is for the Bay Area the sure signal that things are about to change. The box elders have sprouted out, and now the clouds of midges that will become the swarms under your deck are circling about. Fat squirrels lumber along the fence. Cherry blossoms are erupting in all the strip mall parking lots and bunches of golden poppies now glow at every corner. The Calla lilies, the Calla lilies are in blewm again.

Denby had to get over to The City to handle some business at the Federal Building there and he elected, because it was a light day of Spring air to take the Blue and Gold Ferry from the old Landing where the new floating wharf sits guarded by chainlink fences and an automatic gate at the pierhead, which was not there some ten years ago. The old landing pier juts out dangerously with fallen timbers and rotting piles to the left. Naturally kids love to scamper all over the thing despite the most strict warnings about something bad sure to happen as punishment. As it was a windy, chill day, despite the sun, he put on his dustcoat and his travelling hat from Ireland.

The ferry, a trifoil, scudded over the waves to Babylon where Denby debarked and entered the vast swirl of humanity that is now the Golden Gate, a teeming metropolis that still bursts with extraordinary energy, despite all the degredations. It was late as he boarded with a throng of the initial rush hours crowd the return ferry , which turned out to be the older, sturdy three tier ship called the Encinal. He made his way to the aft cabin area and found a place to stand while ernest dot-commers and Google employees and traders from the PSE remained riveted to their laptop screens. It being a Friday, some people were sipping glasses of wine from the bar, chatting among themselves. As was the custom on this ferry, a band of musicians had collected to play jazz, each performer remained on the boat through a roundtrip as another bandmate got off work to join them. On this trip, after the group had done something Coltrane, the keyboardist performed a Chopin Nocturne with the sun setting behind the hump of San Bruno and the lights coming up all down the peninsula as they steamed toward the estuary mouth lighting up to left and right now with the arc lamps of the port and the old Navy Base.

A woman stood there, dressed in black tights and a short skirt, Her black hair was cut short the way artists do so as to avoid the fuss and she looked to Denby to be starkly beautiful there leaning against the rail, and when she turned her head her eyes caught Denby staring at her and she stared back, then looked away. There are rules about staring in public.

He moved his eyes and studied the tattoos that covered her right arm.

He imagined that she was listening to the music and hearing the same things he heard, because even though he was a trained musician, it was clear she was a trained dancer of some kind. Yet again, most long term relationships and marriages are packed with such imaginings.

Does she hear what I am hearing? In that is all the heartbreak of men and women throughout time.

"I like your hat," she said.

He nodded. "A gentleman never goes out without his hat. Someday I hope to become a gentleman."

Something made him go to the bar and buy a couple roses there, but the commotion of the landing arrival enveloped him in a sea of faces.

At that moment the horn sounded and the rush for the exits began and she was lost in the swirl of humanity seeking the warmth of home and sanctuary. And he was left there, a man in a dustcoat, waiting upon the landing, a seed feeling the ache of Spring's longing to become something.

In the Offices of the Island-Life Newsroom, the Editor relit his cigar. His advice to Denby would be this: Do not fall in Love for it will stick to your face.

Outside the Blakean clouds scudded past the face of the waxing moon, the moon who surveys all at all hours with an impassive watch.

A bunch of roses floated down the estuary where someone had flung them in frustration or despair. The Iranian spy submarine, El Chadoor, lowered its all-seeing periscope after the men had breathed the scent of lemon verbena, and recalled each to his own, the distant and longed-for gardens of Qom, not seen or felt for many years during this strange, long, perhaps forgotten mission.

Many years ago the men had been sent out on this spy submarine to keep an eye on the activities of one of the world's busiest shipping ports, but as time had passed, the sensation that their mission had been administratively lost, shuffled into the wrong folder, misfiled and miscategorized so that all they did counted for nothing any more save the chunk of the bureaucrat's official stamp upon papers authorizing resupplies that were provided only because nobody ever had thought to issue an official order to terminate the mission which had long since lost focus.

Nevertheless Commander Abram remained steadfast in his duty and adherance to original orders and he would pursue his mission until High Command or God should command otherwise. The periscope descended and his men and his sub with all of its terrible longings for home and the the rites of Spring ran silent, ran deep, beneath the great arch of the Golden Gate out to the ocean.

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

APRIL 6, 2014

RIDERS ON THE STORM

This week's foto comes from Cindy Manit, who is a businesswoman, yoga guru, entrepreneur based in Babylon across the water. She calls this one "After the Rain."

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Here are some PSA announcements from BART about some goings on with the transit agency. You probably already know the Hegenberger approach to the airport is under construction so expect some delays that way on getting to your flight.

AC Transit Board To Hold Its Meeting In The Community
Directors Take Policy Discussions To El Cerrito Riders/Public

In an effort to increase public input and make its meeting more accessible, the AC Transit Board of Directors will convene its regularly scheduled meeting next week in El Cerrito.
On Wednesday, April 9, 2014, the directors will meet in the El Cerrito City Council Chambers instead of its usual meeting place at the AC Transit headquarters in downtown Oakland. The meeting will start at 5:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers, located at 10890 San Pablo Avenue.
The change of venue will give bus riders and the general public in west Contra Costa County an opportunity to more easily attend and participate in a board meeting.

Among other things, the board is expected to consider:
" Planning for implementation of fare changes effective July 1, 2014
" Regional planning process for the next generation of the Clipper fare-payment system
" Procurement of ten small transit vehicles
" Assessment of route performance by service category
" Proposed revisions to policies related to Title VI (Civil Rights Act) compliance
" Solar power installations at District facilities

The full meeting agenda and materials will be posted on Friday, April 4 (click on "Board Meetings" from the (homepage).

Also from ACTransit, there is news regarding the upcoming line 51 changes, which were discussed here in public meetings. Here is the scoop from Cynthia Vincent.

A Go-Ahead for AC Transit Bus Improvement Plan
Berkeley City Council approves "Line 51A&B Corridor Delay Reduction/Sustainability Project"

AC Transit has won approval from the Berkeley City Council to proceed with a construction project to improve traffic flow along one of the East Bay's busiest and most congested transit corridors.

The Council approval means AC Transit can now complete construction of "Line 51A&B Corridor Delay Reduction/Sustainability Project" which includes nearly $3 million in traffic and street improvements from the Berkeley Marina to the Rockridge BART station, via University, Shattuck and College avenues.

The improvements include bus stop relocations, traffic signal coordination, priority and upgrades, queue jumps, bus bulbs and more.

The project's primary objective is to increase the speed and reliability of the service. But it will also improve the pedestrian experience and the streetscape with bus bulbs that add public space and shorten street crossings for pedestrians. It does all this without impacting other users of the street, whether in cars, on bikes or on foot.

As two of the most heavily used bus routes in the East Bay, Lines 51A and 51B combined carry 19,000 passengers a day to Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda. At times, service along the entire 15-mile stretch has been unreliable due to bus bunching, late vehicle arrivals and overcrowded buses.

AC Transit has received a $10.5 million grant to design and implement infrastructure modifications along the route that would increase reliability and on-time performance, decrease travel time, and improve safety for AC Transit riders and pedestrians.

Construction of the project is due to begin in June, pending final approvals from the cities of Oakland and Alameda. For more information about the proposed improvements, go online at http://www.actransit.org/line51.

One of the main impacts here will be fewer stops for the line along its main route (editorial).

We are gearing up the Calendar again for the Spring and Summer seasons, so look to that for events. Please pay attention to two major changes in annual East Bay Events. Note that the Vallejo Pirate Festival now charges admission for their two day extravaganza. Still cheaper and more entertaining than a Brittany Spears concert -- and probably more wholesome in an ironic way.

Also note that the annual Juneteenth Celebration has shifted to the 21st in Vallejo, probably to avoid crossover traffic from the Pirate festival, which has a very different orientation as well as level of seriousness.

LIKE THE WEATHER

Got the seasonal rainfall report from Mike Rettie who has been keeping track of rainfall since 1998. The recent dockwallopers might persuade people to be cavalier about the rain, but looking at the historical record we see the miserable performance of 2013, which totted up no more than 5.21 inches of rain for the entire year (as compared to a 15 year average of 18.x inches) we see we are still well under what we need. The seasonal total, including the miserly January that added a scant .04 inches, we have 8.41 inches, which sometimes has been a single monthly addition in past years. We now move into the dry season which typically adds less than 1 inch of rain from May to the end of September. To meet the 15 year average we would have to get 8 inches of rain from October through December. That is highly unlikely to happen. In the unusual year of 2002 we had 10.58 inches of rain in December, which caused widespread destruction and havoc.

IF IT WERE NOT FOR BAD LUCK (I'D HAVE NO LUCK AT ALL)

So anyway, a dockwalloper set in, perhaps the last one of the year until Fall, leaving the entire place drenched in cold water and putting off that Endless Summer everybody talks about. All the residents at Marlene and Andre's Household have been fussing and fighting in the cramped quarters of bunkbeds and people sleeping on floors and Occasional Quentin sleeping under the coffee table and for everybody it has been a long, hard winter, a time of privation and denial and annoyance.

Larry took a walk out on the mudflats during the lowtide to dig for geoduck with his dog Incontinence. The mudflats are a good place to go walk a dog, especially one with a name like that. Larry did not bring a scooper or a plastic bag and his dog, a basic schnauzer, ran happily about chasing sand crabs and plashing through the tidepools.

The island hard-pack mudflats extend a good two hundred yards out into the Bay when its low tide. Beyond the shelf there the water drops abruptly. They are caused by currents slowed coming around the point and by a sense of general indolence in this part of the world where so much settles due to inertia and lack of impulse.

Larry was out there a good while, filling his bucket with the evasive long-necked clams as the light began to fade and after a good hour of chasing one difficult fellow with his shovel he looked up to find himself on a sandbar as the tide came in. Incontinence was nowhere to be found.

"Hey!" He called out. "Hey! You Pisser, where you got off to?"

He looked about for his dog and switched on his pocket torch, but the animal had vanished. He went out a bit further and saw the incoming water and then went back to see that a strip of water now separated himself from the rest of the mudflats. There was nothing for it but to get wet -- he was all soiled from the digging anyway, and so he marched into the water with his bucket and his shovel. Of course he sunk right down in the softened sand and spilled his bucket and lost his shovel and fell right over besides. Now geoduck, lacking arms, legs and any other appendages, tend not to move fast, but each clam represented a few hours of work digging and so Larry was much put out as he scrambled to recover what he could in the fading light, snagging those long-necked critters who flailed away with no desire to be eaten by Larry or anybody else for that matter.

By the time he had recovered his damn shovel and his bucket of clams, the water was coming in fast and he still stood a good 150 yards from shore, separate by decreasing islands of packed sand and broad bands of dark salt water.

He scrambled out of there and moved along a sand bar to the next passage of water, through which he bulled his way onto another sandbar that seemed to arc out away from shore, but get close to another one which stood a better chance of getting back in. He could angle in along this one, but the pool there shone black with reflections of the shorelights and this way did not look so good as the first.

So he ambled out the far way and when he got there, this way did not look promising at all, for the incoming water made a foam by its rush there and the shore lights shone bright on the water with no sign of depth and so he decided to head back the first way. Naturally by the time he had zigzagged back the way he had come and found the narrowest spot, the strait had widened. He stood looking at this problem and at the half dozen problems that lay beyond it and as he stood there the water came up and filled his shoes.

He sloshed through this with the water coming up to his waist, his bucket and shovel held high and climbed up onto another sandbar. He went out far to the left where it got dark and he could not see the end of the bar or where the crossing would be, then returned to the right, where he again stood for a moment regarding the crossing with his shovel and his bucket and the thought occurred to him, perhaps he should just drop the bucket and the shovel right now for the situation was getting quite serious. He was still 80 yards from shore and the water was making the little sandbars disappear all around him.

It accord to him that he might die there as the tide came in, just like those people in Maylasian Flight 370, and just like them with no more say in the matter. It's all like that. One day you are out digging for clams and the next you are nowhere to be found and there are people sitting in some church basement sipping really bad coffee with execrable bunt cake to have with it and they are talking about you. "Well who do you think got the dog?" O that dog? I suppose they took it to the pound. Well what about his truck? I think the family sold that. No they gave that to the Immanuel Church for Reverend Bauer. Is he the Minister who rides a motorcycle? I think a truck is more appropriate if you ask my opinion. Well I don't know. He was a queer sort of fellow, if you want my opinion. He was not queer -- wasn't he together with that Linda Light? You know -- the one with the hair? O don't know anything about that -- I think they were just business partners, if you know what I mean. What happened to the curtains I want to know. Who brought in the sandwiches, I would like to know. Was that Looney's BBQ?

They did not talk about his mountain climbing or the time he had survived that plane crash in the jungles of Ecuador. They did not talk about his years of dedicated work at the the firm of Crimson Assurance, LTD. They did not talk about any of that.

And that is the way it is when you die. People don't care about you or your feelings or all the things you did. As if they ever. They care about what you own and whether they stand to get any of it and all about the ham and cheese sandwiches in the next room.

This so distressed Larry that he gave a mighty cry and thrust forward across the sandbars with his shovel held before him like a lance barging through the incoming water until he got to the beach and there found Incontinence waiting patiently with a look that said, "Ok, now we go home and I get something to eat and I will sleep at the foot of the bed as usual.

The terrible thing about near death is that nothing really changes. Nobody really gives a flat flying damn and life goes on as usual, indifferently as if you were not there ever to begin with. The tide comes in, the sandbars vanish as usual, the lights reflect upon the water. The dog barks.

On the way back, instead of a case of beer, Larry bought a bottle of Old Bushmills and, the first thing he did on entering his apartment was pour himself a glass, much to the distress of his dog, who whined in front of his supper dish.

The glass of liquid in his hand looked golden by the light of the kitchen lamp and the aroma of smoky peat bogs wafted from there -- or his salt-sodden clothes. There is good reason they call it the "Water of Life", for the sure fire that descends reminds us that Life is no cakewalk and desire comes with a burning that destroys all that came before. One is alive for now in this moment -- there is not another moment to waste.

He made a mental note to talk about this with Padraic at the first opportunity.

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old Cannery with its its leaf-scattered loading docks, its ghosts and its weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

 

MARCH 30, 2014

SAKURA SAKURA

Nothing says it quite like the annual effusion of those randy cherry blossom trees, which bloom all over the island. This pair is part of a dozen or so that enliven the Mariner Square parkinglot.

The song, Sakura Sakura is not an ancient folksong but a relatively modern one dating from the Edo period. It was as adopted as a piece for beginning koto students in the Tokyo Academy of Music Collection of Japanese Koto Music issued in 1888 (in English) by the Department of Education. The song has been popular since the Meiji period, and the lyrics in their present form were attached then. It is often sung in international settings as a song representative of Japan.

Cherry Blossoms, Cherry Blossoms
(English Translation)

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Blanketing the countryside,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the morning sun.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Flowers in full bloom.

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Across the Spring sky,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the air.
Come now, come,
Let’s look, at last!

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Right off we have a PSA for you regarding impending CALTRANS work that almost certainly will effect YOUR work, or at least getting there on time. As we wrote a while ago CALTRANS plans to demolish the 23rd Street overpass and turn that two lane into a single lane passway. They also will be working on the 29th Street overpass.

So some of you sit there and ponder what this means for your commute for months upon months, as access to the Fruitvale, 880 on and off ramps, and the Nimitz structure itself will be altered.

What it means will be discussed Tuesday, April 8 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Free Library on 155o Oak Street. Estimated costs for this project start at approximately $75 million dollars.

For more info and alternative format documentation contact CALTRANS District 4 Public Affairs at 286-6445.

About the meeting contact RocQuel Johnson at 286-4948.

For the Official proposal in PDF see the website at Proposed Overpass Project

Please note that the hyperlink listed in the public handout from CALTRANS is not valid.

Now that your Monday has been thoroughly ruined, let it be known that the last Amber alert centered here at Madison Street turned out to be a false alarm after the girl confessed she made up her story. Brian Rourock, also an islander, was released from jail with no charges pressing after a few days of harrowing anxiety under threat of kidnapping and child molestation charges in Santa Rita.

If you come across Brian, stand the poor fellow a beer, at the very least.

A brief gander across the water indicates the Warfield will be hosting Ms. Lauryn HIll -- we do hope you pay suitable respect to the lady on May 12. And another lady about whom you may have heard, Emmylou Harris, will show up with Daniel Lanois on April 5. Something is happening there May 6 with a buncha bands, headlined by David Byrne.

Here on the Island, the High Street Cafe has finally decided to commit itself to being a venue - sort of. They now have an online calendar which looks a bit sparse at the moment, but has the hopeful number of the booking agent, Lynda Kretlow at 510-995-8049. Hey, you could be the next Lwellyn Davis.

First Fridays looks like it will be well into April, but the savvy gallery owners will be having their openings and receptions on Thursday before and Saturday after, far from the madding crowd.

ANY STARS IN MY CROWN?

So anyway we had a grand dockwalloper set in this past week, leaving everything gloriously sodden and sending those DPW trucks everywhere to pump things out. Another one is slated to arrive Monday, preserving the old adage, in like a roaring lion and out like a Liberal -- or something like that.

We have never done well with success -- Liberals and Democrats (not at all the same thing) -- are way used to being kicked around on the schoolyard by arrogant bullies, so when it comes around to actually running things, we tend to screw up badly by picking low-grade trailer park types like Monica Lewinsky with whom to have affairs, distribute selfies of personal private parts on the web and kowtow on important legislation to the point that it perfectly satisfies all our enemies, like the medical insurance industry, in the name of bipartisanship.

The Other Side fails in more spectacular fashion by adhering to wildly improbable financial dogma that just does not work in real life, hiring vastly incompetent fools to do important work just because of family loyalties, and spending tax money like sailors on shoreleave while accusing the Democrats of doing just that.

It is now nigh on to April, and two significant events have the boys in the Old Same Place Bar up in arms. April 16th is a sort of National Day of Nastiness, and then we have the Primaries of June. Consequently Papoon and Babar have been spending a fair amount of time in the Local, gauging the temperature, feeling out the hoi polloi, sounding the vox popli.

With this weather, people chose places like the Old Same Place Bar to have their gatherings while the cold rain patters the tiles and the outdoor tabletops. Each week the parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West down by the marina holds the Thursday Mixed Coterie, which features both men and women volunteers getting together to talk about how to raise money for the Cleft Palat Foundation. This tends to segue most evenings into far ranging discussions well fueled by the Old Man Box Wine. Friday nights, the parlor hosts the weekly poker game with Doyle, the Navaho Wiz, David, and Wally, with Paul or Ruth's boyfriend Marty and Kitson, and then the boys get into harder stuff. They have tried various stakes, with Doyle, a landlord, suggesting entire building units, and Wiz, a cowboy actor, proposing women.

"I lay you down a Valerie and those two girls we met in Cabo," Wiz said. "I still got their numbers and they are up for anything."

This latter suggestion got a vigorous thumbs-down from Ruth, much to Marty's chagrin.

Eventually it came down to matches and, on one memorable occasion, cans of beer.

At Marlene and Andre's Household, things are feeling a bit compressed. With the recent rains, everyone has been huddling inside the cottage, which at first was fine for all the warmth in the confined space. As the weeks have dragged on, dank smoldering hose and coats and sweaters trying desperately to dry out in the submarine closets have yielded to a constant state of peckishness among the inhabitants.

Sunday brought a respite of gorgeous cold sunshine streaming down, and all the citizens there spread out into the ironmongery garden and the porch to soak up the rays the way Californian's are reputed to do. Life is hard and savage and cruel and unfair. But for now, the sun shone down to restore vitamin D and sooth the souls of the Household. Out back the scraggly orange tree which had fought the depredations of squirrels and rats and basic urban living hung with several oranges the way those trees will do. The lemon tree fared not so well in this time, for three massive warty fruits hung from its branches, looking a bit brownish and inclined to kiwi's in color.

Oranges are significant in California history for it was the growers who sent out circulars to the East during the Dust Bowl to attract farmers to the Central Valley, promising "scads of oranges hanging from the boughs, free to pick for one and all".

Like many California promises, this one turned out to be thoroughly savage in its retraction. There were oranges to pick enough, all right, so long as you signed up to be a picker for ten cents on the quarter ton as payment. For them oranges you had to work, you damned Okie, and be damned as an Okie for all of that.

And just like their instructors down Dixie way, sack cost you extra for use. Yes, oranges have a long and complex history here in the Golden State. Nothing here is so simple as reach up and grab one from the tree. Everything comes with a consequence, a cost, another extraction.

Pahrump reached up and pulled down a navel orb about to drop, peeled it and bit into the succulent, bursting fruit. Mankind may be packed with lies and deceptions and all kinds of nonsense but Nature does not play games. The odor of orange and sweetness of juice filled Pahrump's senses, for in that orange was all the knowledge and joy of life. At the end of the day, all the struggle erodes before what is really important.

In the effulgence of orange-ness, Pahrump had an epiphany.

Pahrump got Jose and a sack and together they brought down several dozen oranges from the tree. Pahrump strapped the bag on the back of his scooter and drove out to the Friday night poker game at the Native Son's Parlor, intending to tell them they had it all wrong. Intending to tell them joy is in the moment, not in the fiction of history. My people, he would say, burned the hills each year so as to bring the acorns and restore life. We have seen our world totally destroyed before our eyes. Yet still the oranges persist, giving life. Something will always evade your savagery. Spring will still return to the Dead Lands.

As it turned out, Pahrump failed to signal on turning left off of Grand Street which caused Officer O'Madhauen to pull him over and then cite him for contempt and traffiking produce without a license and being suspicion of DUI. So Pahrump got sent to the jail and his scooter with the oranges got sent to impound.

In the Offices of the Island-Life news agency, the Editor began to close down the operation close to midnight. He went along the aisles turning off the errant desklamp after the housekeeper had left and all the news desks had gone silent. Now was come the witching hour when all was silent and still. Lately the issues had been rather perfunctory, glossing over the news rather than digging into the meat of it, and the Editor had to think that Denby's preoccupations with his day job had something to do with it. Everyone's dayjob was a means to an end, a way to pay for getting the real job done.

If you think about it, this is the truth for everybody. Nobody is really the definition of what they do anymore.

Out on the deck, the clouds scudded across the waning moon high above the box elder branches and the budding apple tree, which no one on his staff had determined convincingly was either a crab apple or a demented fuji-apple exponent.

He breathed the night air and felt the rising winds and felt also the small tremors that have been occuring every few hours lately, the incipient reminder that not even the earth upon which we build and walk can be relied upon to remain stable.

A great change was coming and he hoped that all were ready for what came, be it life of Spring or destruction. Time would tell. Drifting on the heavy air, came the scent of cherry blossoms.

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

Sakura Sakura

Sakura sakura
Noyama mo sato mo
Miwatasu kagiri
Kasumi ka kumo ka
Asahi ni niou
Sakura sakura
Hana zakari

Sakura sakura
Yayoi no sora wa
Miwatasu kagiri
Kasumi ka kumo ka
Nioi zo izuru
Izaya izaya
Mini yu kan

MARCH 23, 2014

HEADLINE PHOTO: LIKE A BIRD ON A WIRE

This week's headline photo comes from Tammy who has a regular pair of visitors drop by. One of them has been named "Pepe", and we think this is the fellow.


THIS ISLAND LIFE

Finally got around to poking into the Silly Hall meeting agendas of late and the streaming video of the longish meetings that surely are the punishment for those seeking their fortune via public office. These meetings carry their own fascination in being a micro-slice of small town business and municipal government worth attending at least once in your life if you ever plan to spend a few decades in a place to wonder just why strange things like the Park Street deforestation and the high school "Berlin Wall" ever got proposed by supposedly sane individuals.

Most of these kinds of quasi-public meetings consist of fairly small potatoes stuff that is mandated by set rules, such as approval of the cut-and-dried finance micro-budgets in which the money has already been spent, the sales tax report, or the Babe Ruth playground maintenance contract, along with street paving and resurfacing (anyone driven Lincoln down near the intersection with Benton lately?) and similar tedia.

Of late we have been having more adjournments for "closed sessions" due to the legal foo-fraw going on with land swaps, contested development, and general public dissatisfaction. On Tuesday, the Council adjourned for four discussions, one of them regarding Alameda Municipal Power and its labor pool with regard to a negotiated MOU.

There was an interesting item lumping "construction on Park Street" with the High Street Bridge, which latter part we knew was slated for some time as all of the bridges have been worked over one after another to account for new Caltrans specs for earthquake resiliency. As for "construction on Park Street," well you thought that was all done after the Walgreens gets finished.

Generally there is reserved one item that squats there like a grinning Jabba the Hut. This time around it was the collection of land swaps that include the Encinal Terminals Area and which are allegedly meant to benefit the AUSD and satisfy State low income housing requirements by way of granting land to the Island Housing Authority.

Some people have been complaining about this focus upon low income housing, but the reality is that the City has long been notorious among the ABAG Five County system of governments for possessing such wretched or non-existent public services that some agencies feel "dumped on". This has resulted in a State rebuke and a threat to fine the City unless it does something about low income housing here, especially as lucrative development projects ramp up.

Everyone note that across the water a developer has plans to revamp the estuary front along the entire length of the Island, putting in some 3,000 dwelling units as part of fulfilling former mayor Jerry Brown's "Bring in the 10,000" initiative, a plan to revitalized downtown by importing people who drive European cars and wear silk pyjamas.

This development is most assuredly seen as an opportunity to match the effort on the near shore here, hence the language we have been hearing about "the Gateway to Alameda". Which of course at present looks more like an entrance to a cement mixing plant or a prison than the portals to Oz.

Clearly there is a land rush going on here, so Island residents who plan to stay would be advised to pay sharp attention to all the little deals going on.

And above all, trust nobody. That is a given.

Now for the really important stuff.

Our home boys, Zydeco Flames are performing over at Asheknaz this Tuesday. Do yourself a favor and report to work Wednesday bleary-eyed, inefficiently sloppy, and happily danced out, still alive from the night before.

Speaking of local boys, we note that Adam and his Counting Crows appears at the Greek, fronted by none other than Toad the Wet Sprocket (Walk on the Water). Tix for the August 15th show are now on sale. Personally we think the noble Greek is a more intimate venue than that Pavilion out there in Concord or in Mountain View.

You could do a lot worse than wipe out all traces of the week on Friday and Saturday night at the Fox with Widespread Panic.

Be also aware that Stringcheese Incident owns three days at the end of April.

In Oaktown Sacto boy Jackie Greene performed this past Friday, but you do have Fitz and the Tantrums showing up April 3rd.

Do we need to remind you the not-so-aristocratic Lorde is holding both Wednesday and Thursday at the Fox? Of course not.

Over in Babylon, we ought to let you know about a special benefit titled Acoustic-4-a-Cure. This one is to raise money for the pediatric cancer program at the UCSF Benioff Childrens Hospital and the lineup is pretty awesome as well as highly unusual for an acoustic gig. Artists appearing are: (Billing order is alphabetical by last name)
Sammy Hagar
James Hetfield (Metallica)
Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day)
Scott Mathews
Pat Monahan (Train)
Joe Satriani
Nancy Wilson (Heart)

As Scoop used to say, "If you don't like the music, go out and make some of your own."

BLACK-EYED DOG IS CALLING MY NAME

So anyway, Spring has indeed arrived. And around here let it be known, Spring is the Most Dangerous Season.

Yes, Spring is the most dangerous season. Maybe it is different in other places, but here, wise men remain indoors and order pizza for dinner, hunker down by the TV to watch endless reruns of Monster Truck Destruction and Terminator I, II, III and IV. It's safer cuddled there in the dark lit only by the blackout curtain blocked TV set glow.

Bees dive-bombing the clover, hummingbirds bayoneting the jasmine that keeps throwing out punches this way and that while sending wafts of chemical weapons of mass disruption. Army ants on the march in great phalanxes and squirrels conducting reconnaissance forays add to the mayhem, while raccoons begin nightly raids. The daisy bush bursts with yellow ack-ack blooms while the poppies erupt with tiny explosions across the fields. Squadrons of swallows swooping and diving, duck sorties, and Canadian geese streak overhead and then, worst of all, there are the girls in their summer dresses.

Meanwhile, somewhere overhead, flying in stealth mode -- that naked, blindfolded, fat boy keeps firing off at random his erring arrows of wanton mishap, those IEDs (Improvised Erotic Designs), wreaking chaos in a wide swath more terrifying that Sherman's March to the Sea. Squadrons of women and girls swelling with fatal charms stroll on patrol, their smooth lithe legs flashing beneath their uniforms: thin summer dresses, haltertops, daisy-dukes, and god knows what else underneath that armor. If anything. It's all agitprop left to the imagination.

Observe Johnnie, happy and carefree as a lark, striding with ruddy cheeks and full confidence. But after him comes Jane, armed with those sharpshooter eyes, that flippy short skirt, and strappy high heels. Now Johnnie is down! His face wan and his appetite poor, his breath coming out in ragged gasps as Jane cradles his head among the wildly blooming, victorious daisies. Right in the heart, poor lad. A goner for sure.

Yes, Spring is the most dangerous Season.

When the fog rolls back and feminine panzer divisions cruise the Uptown district in search of some likely target holding his pinsel in his hand at the galleries, when the leggy Joanne strides forth into the night on six-inch stilleto heels and Danielle puts on that short black dress and a European accent spoken with a sultry je ne sais quoi wafting pheromones among the randy artisans, that is when Don Giovanni and Lola Lola stalk the Salons for luscious prey.

That is also when The Editor, avoiding the leggy Joanne, stocks up on Redbox flicks (Netflix now passe), and a fridge filled with Michelina's frozen dinners so as to avoid the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, especially those arrows sent by that obstreperous hoodlum, Cupid. For the artsbeat he sends his representative, the hapless Jose who safely has no more a clue about eros than Faber's Euphonia, and Javier, who knows a good deal more about eros than someone in his position ought to and nothing at all about Art save for ogling the odalesque.

Spring is also a time when Mother Nature grabs your attention and, be you the most rigid, retentive personality on earth, try you and vie you, you shall not be able, for at least one day, to hold attention as the mind skips the light fantastic to places that, for all we know, are far better, more productive, more useful than that blasted spreadsheet demanded by the CIO by noon.

Which demand shall not be met and shall not be disciplined for that same day the CIO is herself skipping through the sun-dappled buttercups in the bee-loud glade of her own mind

People who do not apprehend this truth are assholes and so can be disregarded.

Over at Mariner Square Village, Nick and Drake, the mini-mall's live-in mascots, appeared together along the border hedges.

Eugene walked out into the backyard garden where the large tree hung down its seeded branches to meditate upon life and love lost. It had been a number of weeks since he had broken up with Sabine, the Buddhist nun, and he still felt a bit peckish. People saw him around town and the ladies at Jacquelines Salon commented that the fellow did not seem to have his usual springy step. Moping about the place for sure. Must be some kind of trouble said Jackie. Ja sure, said Maeve.

Pity the fellow who falls out of love just when everyone else is falling in. But then Eugene has always had a problem with timing.

Eugene gazed up at the waning moon beneath the tree with his head brushing the tips of the branches, searching for a romantic moment and soon found himself cursing and swatting, surrounded by a swirl of boxelder bugs.

In the early dawn Pedro's boat bumped and sloshed through the chop, feeling the differences in the air. Soon the crab and the other shellfish would be done and then comes the time of mackerel and tuna. All things have a season, even the featureless sea.

The Xians were all going through their annual rite of stoic preparation for that gay release called Mardi Gras, but the Wiccans were meeting in the park and having delightful parties to commemorate the harmonic convergence.

On a clear night this week everyone stepped out of Marlene and Andre's Household to sniff the air, along with Bonkers and Wickiwup. Although a sort of chill pervaded the days, cooled the nights, the golden poppies had erupted in all the flower boxes and the blank tree bones budded with green salutations. A great change was coming on and everyone could sense it.

Out on the green diamond of the baseball park below Washington Park the Island Whipporwills collected to shake of the winter's cobwebs, unkink old bones and practice with renewed hope that they would improve on last year's regrettable season against the Oaktown Bears. This rivalry had been going on for as long as one can remember. Longer even than the bitter rivalry between the West End Jets and the East Side Destroyers, an eternal rivalry over a game among games that knows no time.

Other games feature clocks, stopwatches, flags down on the field, and set limits, but in baseball, every game played evokes thousands upon thousands of games going back a hundred years or more. There are not nine or 18 players on the field, but millions, because behind every shortstop stands the ghosts of every shortstop who ever kicked dirt and spat a wad into the grass. And every game between East and West is a reverberation of every other game ever played back to when Willie Stargell rounded the bases in 1926 to leap over Vladimir Humbert at Third in great leap they still talk about with "the Fitz" on Second and Ernest Papa on First, loading the bases so that Clemons could smack that ball sailing into the blue over Dreiser's head, clear over the cane brake -- which was much higher back then -- clear over the pond to win that famous game so long ago.

O that rivalry had been intense for many, many years, and had reached such intensity that an East Ender was forbidden to date, much less marry ( gawd no!) a West Ender. East Enders got good grades, did not steal, and always went to good colleges, while the West Enders were undoubtably ill-bred, possessed of dirt under their fingernails and were inclined, so it was said, to enjoy things like roller derby and pro wrestling. But out on the green sward that bordered the high cane brake patch which formed the Island equivalent of the Big Green Wall, the logical and physical boundary beyond which all hits were declared homeruns, the sun sparkled on the huffing fellows and their prospects. A promising fellow named Mateo had joined them and he had a rangy, casual look about him which gave the fellows some heart. Perhaps this time they would beat the Oaktown Bears for the first time.

So the Man from Minot posted himself in far left field, Pimenta Strife in center, Mateo far right with Lionel on First, David Phipps covering second base, and Arthur on Third. Wally pitched to Lynette and as it so happened Susan up at bat as each took turns.

It may surprise some people that Pimenta took any sort of interest in the game of baseball, but there are always some who enjoy gaming in general and of course there were many who said that Pimenta enjoyed any game that involved balls and would go hot after a maple tree so long as it had wood.

Wally lobbed a gentle one in to Susan, which turned out to be a mistake, for Susan, as a chief mechanic at Berkeley's woman-owned garage, The Tender Cam, was such a one to not take lightly. The crack of her bat echoed across the Crab Cove and the ball lobbed high into the sun to the right with such force and altitude, Susan had jogged half past second before the orb began to descend. Mateo stood right underneath it and it would have been a fair catch had not the tremendous AAAAHHHHH-OOOOGAHHHH! of Percy Worthington-Boughsplatt's immaculate two toned 1929 Mandelville-Brot coupe had not blasted the peace of the park and had not Percy lowered his top down to enable Madeline, longstanding member of Berkeley's Explicit Players, to air her assets in a sort of Spring Celebration of the vernals. With a nod towards the servicepersonnel serving their country she wore a fetching sailor's cap and a little patriotic red, white and blue choker.

As people cheered Susan's great hit, Madeline stood up in the car and Percy tooted his horn again. AAAAHHHHH-OOOOGAHHHH!

It was pretty obvious Madeline was not wearing one of Marvin's merkins. No member of the Explicit Players would be caught dead in such a thing, for that would be cheating. They can be found on the 'Ave during the summer, pounding drums and singing lustily and astonishing the freshmen students and locals with their vigorous sans culottes philosophy.

Mateo, redblooded ball-player that he was, had to pause and look. That is when the ball struck him upon the noggin with great force, sending him down into the outfield. Coming in fast from the left, David collided with Pimenta in something that seemed could have been avoided, especially as the Man from Minot somehow seemed to get entangled in this pileup that landed upon the fallen Mateo, and how that happened is anyone's guess. Occasional Quentin, watching from the sidelines, thought this was part of the game and so he rush over and jumped on with great joy, turning the day's practice into something like a good rugger or a Samuel Beckett play.

"I've got 'em!" Pimenta shouted.

"That's not the ball!" shouted the Man from Minot.

"O for pete's sake," David said.

That night, the Editor removed his Michelina's Chicken Alfredo gingerly from the oven, but managed to sear the edge of his thumb on the second tray (it always takes two of those things to make a meal) despite all his care. He went out to the garden to break off a stalk of aloe plant to rub on his burn and noticed that a ball from the Los Semillas pre-school had come over the fence and lay there next to a fallen avocado from the tree that now was fruiting. A squirrel or a rat had gotten at the avocado but the ball he tossed back over the fence, where the kids could find it next day, and play their stickball game once again in the street, despite the parental admonitions to be careful of the cars.

Yes, Spring is the most dangerous Season. And in baseball, there is no Time.

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

March 16, 2014

BRIDGE OF SIGHS

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This week's image comes from James Hargis, who is an artist living in Babylon who likes to frequent the warmer side of the Bay from time to time.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Remember we reported on the severe damage done to "Isabelle's Bench" in Jackson Park, wondering when the Parks & Rec people would get around to fixing the vintage 1920 memorial? Looks like a number of people in power want the bench entirely removed, including Police Chief Noonan, who says the structure allows criminals to hide from police.

Say that again? The bench hides would-be criminals but the massive bandstand in the park does not? O wait -- The chief would like to raze that one too.

The Recreation Commission met this past week to discuss options for the still massive concrete structure that for 94 years has born the inscription "To All My Dumb Friends". Isabelle Clark's husband had been a great lover of animals and the bench had featured a watering trough for dogs and horses. It would be a shame if yet another quirky aspect of the Island gets removed, turning the place more each day into just another version of Newark.

Did you think the Point development, the old Boatworks area development that's getting a couple hundred homes, the disputed McKay Avenue development with another 200 homes, the development slated for the triangle at the Tube entrance off Constitution Way, the new low income development just finished on Santa Clara between Oak and Walnut, the Park Street Walgreens, the Target/In-n-out Burger complex, the Tidelands property swap (it is actually called "Fortman Marina"), and just about anything associated with Ron Cowan was a bit much, up pops another development, but this time with familiar Tim Lewis, planning to shovel in 414 homes plus shops on the site of the old Del Monte warehouse. The location is somewhat inaccurately described as "corner of Buena Vista and Sherman", however that is the Wind River Campus. The site extends from Sherman easterly along Buena Vista and does abut the Wind River parkinglot where Sherman becomes Atlantic Avenue.

Given that property, which served as a small arms munitions depot during WWII, could not remain idle for long, it sounds like Sacto-based Tim Lewis has some good ideas for preserving the 1000 foot long brick building with its long railroad platform and its distinctive windows.

In more development news, you probably know that Safeway has been purchased and will meld with Albertsons into an even bigger mega corporation, but it does sound like there may be an unforeseen upside. We never really liked the conversion of old Safeway from a place that sold groceries into a hoity toity joint that sold "lifestyles". Prices went through the roof over there at the flagship concept store, which is located here in Alameda at Southshore Shopping Mall.

The workers who stocked the shelves and managed the place were all a collection of personalities, each with unique character. For years there was a manager who possessed an idiosyncratic nasal form of vocal delivery. We called him "Mr. Whipple" and we knew he was in the store by his distinctive voice coming over the PA: "Mr. Richards! Mr. Richards! I do believe your break is up. We would dearly love to have you up front in the cashier line! Do grace us with your presence soon! Mr. Richards!"

Staff probably wanted to murder the man nine times a week, but to us he was a store fixture.

After the conversion to a Lifestyle Store and the higher prices we stopped going there, save for the odd necessity. Each time we saw Mr. Whipple he looked a little more diminished, sadder and careworn, his voice no longer ringing out over the registers. He no longer resembled that prim advertising shill that loved to squeeze a certain kind of paper towel. His once ruddy face gone blotchy with gray troubles. Clearly, he suffered now from ill health.

True, you could go to that Safeway and buy fancy wine and that mysterious bottle of mysterious ingredients called "garam masala". How lucky we are, for there was no need to scrounge up any loose garams running around so as to make our own. That Safeway has fifteen different kinds of energy drinks, nine varieties of cinnamon, eight kinds of tofu, five kinds of edam cheese, and enough weird stuff to cobble together tapas from any country on the map. But we do not shop there any more, save when given a $20 gift card, which was good for a pound of coffee, a brick of plain cheddar and one loaf of bread and perhaps a glimpse of the eroding Mr. Whipple. The place is furiously expensive with no reason to be that way, especially when Trader Joes next door handles most exotica foods quite well and at reasonable prices.

Now we hear that the parent corporation is talking about "downsizing" the Safeway mark, which in the age of zero salary raises, dollar stores galore, and general hard times for the average American may mean that the money spent on glitzy presentation will be redirected toward doing what Safeway used to do: provide groceries.

DARLIN' DUBH DEILISH

So anyway, although Eugene suffered a terrible fright, Mr. Howitzer did not die when his face met the grill of Eugene's truck. He did go to the hospital where he spent some time in a room shared with Mr. Cribbage, who had dislocated a disk while trying to clean the gutters in the middle of a howling rainstorm.

Both of them had the pleasure of looking out the windows of the seismically unsound ICU to see the weather finally turn Californian Gold with sunshine. Their dayshift nurses were named Betty and Gardenia and they were as chipper as chipmunks.

"Hi, I am Nurse Betty," the one said. "And I am going to give you a shot. Although I am your nurse this shift, I really am an aspiring Kansas waitress in disguise. My name is actually Renée Zellweger and my pal here is named Tia Texada. O, guess you don't think that is funny."

"Roll over buddy," Gardenia said to Mr. Howitzer. "You aint gettin' a cath' this time."

"Owwww!" said Mr. Howitzer.

"It may sting a bit, but trust me, you don't want no pipe stuck up your dingus."

"Do you think we'll meet Morgan Freeman in Kansas?", Nurse Betty said, taking care of the metal pans under the bed and checking the IV drips.

"How come you can't put some of that stuff in that shot in that bag," Mr. Howitzer complained.

"O that man is a doll. I'd do him in a New York minute if he weren't so old." Nurse Gardenia said.

"How about Chris Rock?"

"Well personally I think these liberal actors are all . . .", Mr. Cribbage began.

"You hush now. Chris Rock?! He aint nothing like Morgan Freeman. All you Filipinas think we all look alike. Now Jaime Foxx, he's a hottie."

The two of them walked out together. "I like a man with a sense of humor," Nurse Betty said. "I miss the old nurse's cap they used to give at graduation. I think I'd look cute in one of those."

"You gonna wear green tomorra for St. Patrick's Day?"

"Sure thing. I am gonna wear green inside and out. And you?"

"You won't see me wearing no orange, that's for sure."

"Funny, you don't look Irish," Mr. Cribbage said.

"Honey, I am Black Irish," Nurse Gardenia said. "If it weren't for me, them Irish would have no soul at all. I'll be back for your enema at five, so don't go away now."

It was a week of many celebrations as the Island slowly dried out from the monsoons. It being Purim, and Marvin being of the persuasion, offered a 50% discount to anyone name Esther who should come into his merkin shop (Marvin's Merkins - Put a merkin in your firkin!). He put a sign out on Webster so everyone could see his promotion, but Mr. Mianfen, the owner of the Tchotchkes R Us complained about it. The sign read, "Two for One in the Bush - All Esthers Welcome!" Bettina and Brunhilde at the Touch of Wonder Massage thought it was funny.

Along the Strand at Marlene and Andre's Household Marlene put out a basket of hamentaschen which provided great sport for Jose and Javier as they tossed them back and forth to tease both Bonkers and Wickiwup, the dogs. The sport had to shift to the out of doors when the floor lamp became a sudden casualty. Later they had a little costume party and Martini put on Suan's stripper outfit which amused some people and not others.

"Man you gotta lose some weight if you gonna dress up like that," Pahrump said.

Some people have this idea that all the high holy days are terribly serious with lots of wailing an gnashing of teeth and putting on the sackcloth and ashes. Purim is not like that. With some special Deity selecting all your people for Special Treatment and Final Solutions every few years, it helps to cultivate a good sense of humor. So they all sat down that night to a fine faux lamb dinner that consisted of a shank of TVP broiled in special sauce by Marlene.

Over at the Old Same Place Bar, things were gearing up for St. Paddy's Day, a peculiar event that is celebrated substantially outside of Ireland by the Diaspora and even more so by people who have not a particle of the Old Sod anywhere in their bodies. Still, America is what it is, and every Cinco de Mayo, flocks of gabachos stumble over their gleanings of high school Spanish, nosh on fake comida with asada, frijoles, y tortillas, and swill cervezas like they were all raised by una abuelta out of Sonora. So you cannot fault people for wanting to feel a little special for a day.

Padraic and Suzie were slinging the Gaelic Coffees (so called by Padraic who felt no decent man of Erse would ever come up with a concoction that would adulterate the Water of Life in the slightest)

Things were going great guns when the door opened a figure strode across the floor to the bar as all conversation collapse into a quivering heap of whispers. The Man from Minot quickly got off of his stool and stood to the side with his drink in hand to allow the newcomer to climb up on the stool.

"A Guiness." Said the man. "And Power. Arthur Power while I am waiting. Make it a double."

Indeed, the Wee Man had returned. All three foot two inches of him. What did he look like? For a start he wore a twill newsboy cap on a head of bright red hair. Red, too was his full beard and cobalt blue his eyes. He wore a green checked waistcoat which sported a gold chain that went into the side pocket and green checked pants. Some say he came from the Spanish Armada that sank off the coast and others say he was of the legendary Firbolg that harried the ancient Romans loose from the Emerald Isle thousands of years before. Some say despite his stature he was related to the mythic giant Finn ni Cuchulain, Finn McCool, whose body extended the length of Howth and that his apparent manifest physical size was merely a kind of trick.

Padraic inquired of this man the reasons for his visit, Padraic being a doughty man of spirit, and some say more of that than sense for all his genial good nature.

The Wee Man downed his uisce-que-bah and set down his cruiskeen luin and smacked his lips and spake as follows unto those who would listen, and indeed, all that sat there in that snug sat rapt as if enchanted.

"I tell you I have been all around the world, seen many lands and danced with the fierce cannibals among the cane, I search the planet far and wide, crossed deserts and fields, seen the cities of man, but nothing suits 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 Wee Man, 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 several hundred years laid many a beauty to rest with a mighty tear and a world of pain, but nothing does it 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."

And all there sat dumbfounded and awed by this tremendous gift of knowledge and it seemed there grew a sort of greenish, golden light about the place and over the heads of each flickered a little green flame. The Wee Man commanded that each go out and tell the world all about it.

And with that, he drained his glass in a good long swallow, and then stood up upon the barstool and clapped his hands three times. There was a bright flash and a bit of smoke and when everyone could see again, the Wee Man had vanished. But on the heads of each person there perched a little cap of green and Nurse Betty, who indeed had entered the bar after work to sit at one of the tables made a loud exclamation.

"Why it's a nurse's cap! An old style nurse's cap! Finally I won my cap!", Betty said. "O dear! I think he's done something to my knickers . . . "!

"He's as randy as an Italian gigolo in a cute gondola, that one," Padraic said.

And wouldn't you know it but from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

MARCH 9, 2014

FINE AS A BEE'S WING

Had to ponder a good pond to come up with a lyric that features bees, but then the inimitable Richard Thompson rescued the day.

This week's Springy headline photo comes from FB friend Gregory Tyesi, who has besides an excellent macro lens also a good eye for composition.

LOVE IS LIKE A THUNDERSTORM

We look to be free of that Pineapple Express sequence of storms for now. Forecast is for clear and sunny. The rain is certainly welcome, but snowpack remains down in the Sierra. Most weather gnomes predict moderate snow storms continuing through March at elevation, but not enough to forestall drought conditions in the Valley.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

Now that the McKay Avenue parcel discussion has entered mediation, the development topics feature a couple land swaps that include AUSD and the City, and the proposed Shoreline Bikeway. Both issues are producing their own forms of contention.

Actually people are not waiting for mediation over McKay to produce miracles of intelligence, given the history of the parties involved. In addition to the existing Initiative on June's ballot, which seeks the voters to direct the property to be employed as parkland, some citizens have started a petition drive to add another initiative to have the property rezoned to designated open space.

Stepping into the fray -- yes, another country heard from, now that the Chronicle, a national news media outlet, and the State Attorney General Kamela Harris have chipped in on this -- we have the Sierra Club coming out in support of the proposed ballot measure.

The Planning Board meeting scheduled for Monday at 7pm is likely to be a contentious one.

Another project features addition of a dedicated bikeway along Shoreline, extending from Broadway to Westline, which would of course eliminate at least one auto traffic lane and parking in an area already tight for space.

Right now there is a walkway that is shared by bicyclists and pedestrians and the occasional DPW maintenance truck, the driver of which who enjoys forcing cyclists into the sand packed with glass-shards.

Its probably not the DPW worker who fueled this biker drive, but the observation from some residents that the four-lane stretch is used by out-of-towners trying to bypass slow traffic up on the parallel Nimitz.

Naturally area residents are not enthused about seeing 617 parking spaces shrink to 431. Bicyclists want fewer cars to be on the road in the first place. City planners point to a 1974 plan that had already described a project like this.

On the upside, next time somebody goes nuts down there in an SUV, the hapless pedestrian will get more flight space to escape.

As for the AUSD land swap, what can we say we have not already said? O dear. The Sun reports that Tim Lewis Properties is involved with getting a parcel that is partly underwater. It is not "useless" for all that, as a Marina sits there now and of course, narrow water stretches like that are not too difficult to fill. Some folks are concerned not enough discussion about actual land value has been made public.

Anyone else notice that the former classy Angela's there on the corner of Central and Oak is up for new ownership? Angela's had tried to parlay a move from Mariner Square Village to the central spot into a trendy hotspot for the hoity-toity hip crowd that swills neon buzzers from oversized martini glasses. That hipness costs bucks, and with the Recession there aint so much of it around here. Looks like the joint will front a catering operation affiliated with the nearby movie theater.

HERE COMES THE SUN

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

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

As Gaia turns her face toward the light, her ravined face gradually warms with measured steps, quickening life from the once barren soil, stirring dull roots with Spring rain, and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment while Phoebus Apollo charges across the firmament like any boy enthralled with hot rods all bedecked with gleaming chrome. O Phoebus, you scamp!

How this plays out on the Island: the increase of daylight causes the soil and pavements to steam upward, making the air heavy with moisture. Tiny creatures emerge, much as the ancients believed, from insensate matter. Spiders collect in great numbers, ants boil from the floor mouldings, birds erupt from bony trees and the smaller mammals pad about like middle-aged men in morning bathrobes, hunting for cups of coffee or nuts.

Because of the recent overcast weather all the trees are still stark, scratching black limbs against the pearl gray sky.

It being that time of year before Realtors engage in the feeding frenzy of Spring in an area where modest cottages now go easily for three-quarter of a million dollars, Mr. Howitzer made his annual trip out to Colma to visit there the grave of his dear, departed, goddamned mother.

Mr. Howitzer's approach to sentiment of any kind was to kick the wretched animal to the door if feelings did not depart after suitable hints of being unwelcome. This had done him well in business, but had not offered much in the way of family community, and now, after 150 years, the present occupier of the Howitzer mansion, last of a long line of Howitzers who first stormed over the Sierra ramparts in 1849 to rob the Californios and slaughter the Native Americans and in so doing establish a dynasty, now occupied the family hall as Solus Rex, or so they say in chess, save for his manservant, the regretfully loyal Dodd, who departed the place in haste each evening he was allowed, so as to enjoy the warm comforts and sanity of his home and Mrs. Dodd.

There at Colma, Mr. Howitzer cleared the weeds around the mausoleum with its curious inscription, "Here Lieth Abigail Howitzer, 1902-1986, Thank God!" and threw stones at the crows that seemed to delight in gathering in large murders about that particular spot.

It happened to be on March 5th, which is for the Roman Catholics an Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a time of fasting, breast beating and gnashing of teeth before it all cuts loose in a big party called Carnival where everyone has sex with one another.

Mr. Howitzer was hurling stones with such vigor, after actually knocking down a very large raven to his great satisfaction, that one rock glanced off of a pillar that was part of the Eunice Mimblefoot Memorial to Wayward Endeavor. The ricochet came back and knocked Mr. Howitzer flat on his back. There he was when Father Richard Danyluk came along with some gravediggers after officiating the funeral of Senor Gustavo Orellano.

The gravediggers, named Sal and Nick, were uncertain as to whether Mr. Howitzer was dead or not, as this being a massive graveyard the size of a small city, dead seemed very likely although the disposition of the body was not regular. Usually they dropped the stiffs off in some sort of container.

Colma, although quiet and somewhat restful under the flight path of SFO, did not present itself as ideal place to take a nap.

They wondered if he had fallen off the wagon on the way to the embalmers, but Nick had the opinion the man looked fairly well pickled already. In the end, they decided to let him lay there and let nature or Administrative procedure take its course.

Father Danyluk decided to administer last rites, and to cover all options, also did the Ash Wednesday thing, figuring that it couldn't hurt as cremation had become all the rage now that land was so dear.

The three of them then went on their way and had beer at the local pub before the priest drove back to the Island, figuring that if the man were dead, someone would arrive to collect him and pay someone to put him properly in the ground.

Mr. Howitzer eventually roused himself and drove back across the Dunbarton to the East Bay where he encountered curious looks and a significant amount of respect and fear that he had longed for these many years, as wherever he went he presented a forehead clearly marked with an ashen cross. Those who knew anything of the staid man, expressed astonishment.

At the corner of Park and Encinal, the Wee Man emerged from the shadows to take out a conductor's baton, which he used to direct an invisible orchestra in a stately contredance.

As the notorious landlord walked along Park Street, Lionel, dropping a dollar into the box of the old Chinese Pie-Pah player, looked up startled to see the mark of the cross, allowing the dollar to waft away down the pavement where it attracted the eye of Imbecilla Cupcake, who ran after it, knocking against the deliveryman carting cases of cola to Javarama. The deliveryman cursed as several cans rattled loose to spill onto the pavement and roll across the street.

Mike Goughassian, shouldering a length of lumber, came out of El Tomato and dodged a rolling can with his lumber swinging a wide arc that nearly brained Lynette walking along with Susan and their bicycles.

"Hey!" shouted Lynette angrily, which of course made Mike swing back the other way, neatly clipping Mr. Larch as he walked two of his service dog charges from his business Pushy People Anonymous. The dogs tore loose and ran diagonally across the street. This caused Pahrump riding his scooter to slam on his brakes and skid to a stop. The commotion distracted Eugene Gallipagus driving his Range Rover, causing him to drop the Styrofoam cup of coffee into his lap, which meant that he did not see the figure of Mr. Howitzer bending down to fetch the wayward dollar that had nearly escaped little Imbecilla, who cursed Mr. Howitzer with such vile sailor's language that he paused there, two fingers on the dollar bill, looking up only to see the grill of Eugene's Range Rover just before it struck his face.

"Tadaaaahhhh!", the Wee Man said, triumphantly.

Father Richard Danyluk came along then with Archbishop Mitty from the Basilica of St. Pandy beside, and they joined a small crowd looking down at the figure of Mr. Howitzer. Father Danyluk recognized him immediately as the man from Colma.

"Dear god," said Father Danyluk. "I keep seeing dead people!"

"I saw that movie too," said the Archbishop. "I did not think it was very good."

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

MARCH 2, 2014

EXCELLENT BIRDS

Photo is by Carol of the People's Republic of St. Charles.


THIS ISLAND LIFE

The Sun reported that all parties engaged in the squabble over the McKay Avenue property, which bears the temporary sobriquet of Neptune Pointe (sic) have agreed to go into a series of mediation meetings to resolve the fate of the 3,899 acre property.

Since there is a ballot proposition dealing with the issue in favor of turning the property over to East Bay Regional Park District, it is not known how binding any decisions will be coming out of this, pending the election results.

As the Sun indicates, with coverage by New American Media, our little Island once again aquires a national spotlight of attention. In the article Federal Land Auction Raises Debate Over ‘Public Benefit’, by Jonah Most, posted: Feb 24, 2014, the article commented, "The controversy has created a bizarre legal situation where the federal government is threatening to condemn state property in order to prevent land from going to the East Bay Regional Park District and instead to sell it to a private developer, in order to maximize profit from the sale."

NAM reported further down the page, "At the heart of the controversy is the question of how federal property should be sold, whether for profit maximization or the more murky aim of ‘public good.’

Known as the government’s ‘business side’, the General Services Administration (GSA) leans towards business principles rather than public policy.

The GSA is the wing of the federal government in charge of maximizing efficiency. The GSA was established in 1949 with the mission of reducing the inefficiency that often bogs down large, growing bureaucracies, such as that of the post-war United States. The GSA negotiates contracts with private venders, manages federal real estate and vehicle fleets and sells excess government holdings.

In several online auction websites, the GSA has for sale helicopters, a former naval base and even a lighthouse. One GSA auction website has a category heading for NASA shuttles. It was through this system that the Neptune Pointe property was listed in June of 2011 for a starting bid of one million dollars."

Others have a different view of the shenanigans which featured a suspect backroom rezoning of the parcel. “I think it’s greed,” said Karin Lucas, a former member of the Alameda City Council, explaining why the GSA declined the Park District’s lower offer.

To muddy the waters further, the article lists yet another country heard from in this battle -- homeless and low income activists who see the place as ideal to stash low income folks away from the sights and sounds of regular citizenry. Go figure.

In one of the better fotos of the area, one can see just why Tim Lewis's developer outfit drools at the prospect of securing the property for decidedly non-low income folks.

The Sun reported on the AUSD and the City consideration of a land swap deal to benefit rehabilitation of the deteriorating school swimming pools. The agreement has been made final and announced by the School District. Here are the details.

The agreement, which includes both sales and exchanges of land, will be implemented in three steps:

Step 1

The City grants $750,000 to AUSD to pay for renovations to the Encinal Swim Center.
AUSD rescinds the deed to the six-acre Tidelands parcel, which results in the City holding the title.

Step 2

The City conveys a 20-acre parcel of Alameda Point property to the Housing Authority.
AUSD releases the City from an obligation to convey a 12-acre parcel at Alameda Point that was part of an earlier agreement.

Step 3

The Housing Authority obtains title to the former Island High School site in exchange for fair market value of approximately $1.2 million, of which $1.15 million is to be used for the Encinal Swim Center renovation; the remainder goes to defraying legal and consultant fees related to the transaction.

AUSD releases restrictions on the $4.6 million Housing Asset Fund so that the Housing Authority can access it to build affordable housing throughout the City.

The Housing Authority gives AUSD the 20-acre Alameda Point parcel that it received from the City, which AUSD could use for school purposes. The City retains responsibility for general maintenance of the parcel for a maximum of 10 years.

Lauren Do has some commentary on these provision in her Blogging Bayport.

PSA

As you know we have a Primary Election coming up June 3, 2014. The ROV is seeking qualified and mature individuals to serve as Precinct Poll workers. These positions are paid stipends -- not much, but better than just free pizza. The paid portion for attending the mandatory class is about $5. But its something of a Democracy and the way these things work is via elections. Worth doing at least once just to see the machinery involved in this whole hustings thing.

The Registrar of Voters requires ALL Poll Workers to attend a MANDATORY Poll Worker Training Class in order to be eligible to serve on Election Day. Any worker, who attends training class and then cancels on or before Election Day, will NOT be compensated for attending the training class. If you have questions, please email us at rov.pollworker@acgov.org or call our office at (510) 272-6971.

WON'T YOU RIDE, WON'T YOU RIDE WITH ME

So anyway the Island got hit with a series of serious dockwallopers last week, snarling traffic, clogging the drains and soaking just about everybody's panties.

The eaves got clogged up with leaves in a suspicious manner which had Mr. Cribbage out on a ladder trying to fish out soggy plant matter and god knows what else had died up there even though Mrs. Cribbage had ordered him to clean the gutters last summer. How on earth did those gutters get so bad so quickly? I don't know, must be the wind blew stuff in, according to Mr. Cribbage.

In fact on that day, Mrs. Cribbage had gone off to her regular tinting at Jaqueline's Salon, leaving Mr. Cribbage to his devices, and his devices turned out to be less gutter cleaning than practicing putting skills on the backyard green with Mr. Blather and a quart pitcher of sours that featured most of a fifth of Bombay gin. After two or three of those no way either man wanted to get up on the ladder which stood there, somehow necessary and important to signify the job already done. To keep the missus away a bit longer, he had Mr. Blather call his wife, also at the salon to have her hair done. Mr. Blather had Mrs. Blather drop by Pagano's for some work gloves and on the way drop in on Mrs. Dudgeon to find out what kind of tea that was served at her brunch.

That was Earl Grey said Mrs. Blather.

No, that was currant. Or maybe white grape with pomegranate. I am not sure. Might have been Assam . . . .

Ninny, it was Earl Grey.

Well she's on the way to Paganos. Don't forget the gloves. I am helping out the Cribbages with their gutter.

When he got off the cell phone he settled back in the lawn chair. He knew she would deliberately forget the gloves for she hated doing anything for him. But he knew for certain that she would complain to Mrs. Cribbage all about it and the two of them would drop in on Mrs. Dudgeon and have themselves a hen party complaining about each one of the husbands for hours.

"Pour me another one of those, old bean", said Mr. Blather.

Mr. Cribbage fetched two litter-filled garbage bags from his neighbor's yard, where someone had been raking up leaves and hedge trimmings, and placed them next to his own cans.

Now here was Cribbage up there in wind and rain digging out what turned out to be a family of drowned rats with a weed rake. The Island is a typical island with marinas neighboring one of the largest container ports in the world and where you have ships, you will have rats, hence the Island had an abundance of them doing the ratty things rats do -- having kareoke parties featuring sea chanties, scamper-dancing, and living the high life in the fruit trees.

Cribbage could, of course, driven to the day laborer spot in front of Los Marronitas Panaderia and collected one or two guys at the cost of $30/hour as Mrs. Cribbage suggested, but he was damned if he would support illegal immigration in any form or fashion.

Mrs. Cribbage opined that she did not think they were illegals, or they would not be standing in the same place out in the open every day like that, but Mr. Cribbage stood firm on his principles, which stated that proper work featured use of starched shirt and tie.

"Ugh!", said Mr. Cribbage as he tossed down another clump of decay. Wilbur Mills, his dog, sniffed with moderate inquistiveness. joined by Forbes from across the way.

"Get away from that!" Cribbage shouted. Then he thought about how his wife let the mongrel lick her face. "Nice doggie! Scrumptious!"

Down went another fetid clump. Then another. This released something and a great wash of water mixed with the offal of the entire world rushed over his arms as the dogs were joined by Polk, Jackson, Monroe, and Gingrich all getting up a fine canine party of sniffing and nosing each other's butts and the offal on the ground and back again, alternating with bouts of soggy humping between the ladder legs, pretty much as dogs with names like these are known to do.

The ladder tipped of course, (You knew that was going to happen) and Cribbage flailed about at the top of the second story. As the ladder seat smacked into the window of the girl's bedroom right before the nose of Pete Wilson, the cat, Cribbage grabbed the gutter for dear life. The gutter sort of sagged, groaned and peeled away from the roof, sending shingles sailing into the air, detaching at first slowly, giving time to think about matters, then accelerating with a brisk pace as bolts popped out from the frame, sending the bulk of Mr. Cribbage, buccaneer-style on a swing and still clasping his weed rake like a four-pronged Captain Hook with some momentum to the ground where he cartwheeled into the back drive area and sort of lay there groaning with a pain in his ankle and his back and the sluice of the now waterfalling gutter laving his sodden body liberally with mucky detritus.

The Lowell kid from across the street came over with his cell phone and wearing a bright yellow slicker and yellow rainboots. He was talking to somebody on the phone as he arrived.

"Well, I didn't see him fall exactly, just when his body slung around the end of the house . . . what's that ? . . . insurance . . . ?"

The kid looked down at Cribbage through rain speckled, thick eyeglasses. "It's a good thing Mr. Obama made sure we are all covered by medical now, isn't it Mr. Cribbage. Yeah, I am sure he's covered . . . what's that? O think he can afford that. Mr. Cribbage, the man says the ambulance is gonna cost you three thousand dollars. He wants to know if you are okay with that."

"Three thousand dollars! It's only two blocks to the hospital here!"

The kid shrugged. "That's the way it is. The Fire Department bought the city countract."

That is when Mr. Cribbage began moaning in pain.

"I think you better send the truck. He don't look so good." The kid clapped up his cellphone. "Thank heaven for social services, aint that right Mr. Cribbage?"

Mr. Cribbage groaned in response.

"I am so glad we live in a Democracy," said the Lowell kid.

"It's a Republic!" Mr. Cribbage shouted.

Mrs. Sanchez stopped in to Mi Pueblo to pickup some groceries for dinner. She chatted with Lupe there about the weather and what this meant for their gardens and their backyard livestock projects. Like Mrs. Sanchez, Lupe maintained a raised and well-defended chickencoop, clean and snug and dry with straw for the hens.
.
Lupe asked about Mr. Sanchez and Mrs. Sanchez, who used to be Ms. Morales, said his boss, Ms. Percy always wanted more work out of him even though he was doing everything he could right now. Lupe nodded. That is the way with some bosses, they want everything and always more. And more is never enough.

If only we had enough to live on and move to the Valley, maybe have a farm or something, Mrs. Sanchez said.

Well what makes you say that? said Lupe. Of course all of us would like to be gentlefolk farmers.

Ah! Things could have been different. He has a desueno.

You are kidding, your husband has a desueno.

Yes.

A desueno is both everything and nothing in Alta California. A desueno was a land grant issued by the King of Spain long ago, even before Mexico was Mexico. Then Mexico also issued these grants, which consisted as documents as no more than drawings upon cowhide. Each desueno granted the owner many thousands of acres of land. But of course, this system was all cast aside after the gringos took over. Landowners spent an average of 17 years per lawsuit defending their titles after 1836. Many died before the resolution of the case.

Nowadays, these documents are mere curiosities, indicating that one's family had lived in California for many generations. They say only that one is a true Californio. We all know how little this accounts for anything today. Nevertheless, some people, like Lupe, understand what it means. Mr. Sanchez's family was here long before the American Revolution.

In the Old Same Place Bar there is some discussion about who won the Oscars and who won the Olympics in the benighted place that used to be best known at Stalin's birthplace. A few people talked about how the Iranian Naval fleet is approaching the edge of International Waters and now the Russians are within 200 miles of Miami, with only a few people recalling an incident that took place during the time of JFK.

Ultimately the talk revolved to more important subjects such as the newly revived salmon run and the prospects for steelhead fishing on the delta. Soon it will be time for trout. Governments rise and fall, but trout shall abide, not unlike the walleye in other parts of the world.

Crisis and disaster, but in the swift stream, after all of the horrific killing is done in the name of whatever national moloch is now popular, the fins of the still bodies of trout move beneath the surface. Trout shall abide.

From far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stand glowing with their sentry lights, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, keened through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, moaned between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive click-clacked past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

FEBRUARY 23, 2014

WALKING ON THE MOON

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This week's photo comes from Staffer Tammy on a visit to the new Target out in the midst of the wastelands of the Point. Apparently, the visit struck our reporters as a bizarre experience in American excess. Well, big box stores are not for everyone, but it is telling that the place sits amid a cratered lunar landscape that promises much in the way of what will come rather than what is.

TROUBLE IN RIVERCITY

Anyone else note that the grand old chestnut of the Great White Way, The Music Man, is coming to town at Altadena?

Anyway looks like a heck of bother going on in the halls at Silly Hall and the Unified School District both. What with some imp nearly blowing up the science lab with a loose gas fitting at Encinal followed by the grand daddy of all bad Coverup memos in which staff were ordered "no one is to speak to any reporters". Sprechen ist streng Verboten, ja!

Sensing the Island is a hotbed for controversy, a sub showed up in class at Lincoln Middle School, proudly talked about his marijuana dispensary card and ordered fourth grade students take out their smartphones to browse to www.shitnobricks.com. Seems the fellow has no plans to continue a career in pedagogy. He certainly now has no job future with AUSD.

Stewart Chen is getting some flack about an old issue that predated his election to the Hospital Board and then to City Hall. Seems he got snared in an insurance fraud scam that resulted in a guilty plea following his arrest in 1993.

The charges were dismissed as part of a plea bargain and the conviction dropped from public record after two years, however someone pursued an LA Times article on the case.

About 10 other people were snared by an investigation into a ring that staged "auto accidents" so as to generate phony insurance claims. Chen's role at the time was to allow people to enroll for bogus "treatment" at his chiropractor's office.

Since the activity took place well before Chen's election to office, and his medical license remains intact, there are no overt conflicts under the City Charter or municipal code. Chen is up for reelection in the fall.

On the more joyful side of news, we note with delight that the Bay Area Radio Museum is moving from Berzerkely to the Island. Reason for the move: landlord there at Ashby Avenue, Pham Radio Communications, wants more money.

The Bay Area Radio Historical Society, which runs the museum, has purchased the property at 2152 Central Avenue and we are quite excited to have such an ideal tenant come here. Besides, long time Lifers know that we have a Jones for Old Radio.

The project remains a bit short of the final asking price of $1.1 million for the 7,410 square foot location, but the nonprofit society is hoping for radio buffs to pitch in. A bevy of volunteers is already available to help with the move and the renovation of the former school.

Got the notice from ROV about the primaries on June 3rd. The infamous "midterm" elections are coming up in January, but there will be a prelim roadshow for the various parties to select their candidates before that. Rest assured we will have interesting props to discuss before that, with the biggie being the measure to lock the McKay Avenue in for use by the parks as was originally intended, despite governmental squabbles and GSA hissy fits.

Let the people decide. After all, it is the People's land after all.

Last weekend was dreadful for all of us having to work straight through, missing all the highlights of P-Day and V-Day, so we have no event reportage this time around.

LIKE THE WEATHER

Ok then. Rain coming with a vengeance, starting Tuesday evening through the next soggy weekend. However and furthermore we have great news.

First, Howard Schecter says there is indeed a couple storms looking to drop snow on the Sierra, with the first laying down about a foot of measly powder in the north and the second laying down a more substantial load further south, providing dry Arizona with its first snow of the year. He does say that reports of 9 feet coming are pure horse pucky (our words). These storms are likely to be "dry".

Optimistically we hear that deep in the Pacific, where these things start to happen, an eddy is forming that will likely culminate in something next Xmastide. Yep, it is that big and will take that long, and because of when it culminates these things are called "El Nino". The upcoming El Nino is likely to birth the mother of all storms, if we are lucky, so somebody better start digging reservoir holes right now.

WE'LL NEVER BE ROYALS

So anyway, Commissioner Dudgeon let Denby out of jail after the weekend had passed when the woman he had tried to save declined to press charges, so Denby was turned out on the street with a firm admonition from the harried jurist with a firm admonition never to be seen inciting riot, causing public mayhem, or tossing Molotov cocktails into wedding parties, be there present a swimming pool or not.

Denby thought, given the outcome, he should not mention that it appeared the Commissioner had grabbed the file to someone else's case and he have never incited a riot or tossed back so much as a molotov cocktail in his life for he was a devoted teetotaler and a pacific Buddhist as well.

Then it occurred to him somebody was walking around, setting wedding dresses and ministers on fire without even a swimming pool in which to put them out, but Jose and Javier grabbed him away from that bad place while the Commissioner fumbled to open his child proof bottle of prescription Protonix, finally getting the thing open with a few deft gavel wacks, sending pills skittering here and there and with the Bailiff chasing after them with an envelope.

"What the hell are you still doing there, gawping like some "innocent offender!" The Commissioner shouted. "Get out of my courtroom and never come back, neither as witness, nor jury, and certainly not as some kind of guilty as hell bastard whining for a fair shake! Go!"

Leave the papers," Pahrump said. "Let us eke go!"

Safely outside, Javier, who was a well-read man, mentioned that he had not considered Pahrump a Joycean.

For answer, Pahrump stepped up upon the round pedestal that was designed to hold the memorial bust of former Senator Archibald Sniggins, a memorial that had lapsed in effort due to lack of funding, even as a collection of citizens coming to dispute their traffic citations with futile writs of despair approached the glass doors to the lobby. "I hereby intone the following, Introibo ad altare Lex."

Denby offered mild applause. "Pahrump, you are neither stately nor plump, as was the original Buck Mulligan, but here, here! Here, here! Now let's go get drunk."

This show was all due to Denby trying to intervene between a fist-slinging brute and his target of a girlfriend at the end of the Native Sons of the Golden West Valentine's Ball fundraiser. As is usually the case, the woman had taken to punching Denby for getting involved in a private matter without so much as a by-your-leave and then the boyfriend had done the same until Jose had clocked him with a solid whack on the noggin with a broom.

That is not the thing about which you want hear; you want to hear about the weather. Sudden sunshine has been breaking through to warm the place during the day after mornings of high, dense fog. Evenings remain chill and the raccoons have been keeping quiet. The squirrels have ceased their mad scampering and the night presents only the solitary peeps of the Norway rats going about their business in the fruit trees.

Pre-Spring is an odd time everywhere. You look out and it is still light at the end of the day, the air feels somewhat warmer-ish than the bone-chilling sap of a few weeks ago, but still the ground is soggy, the sky is oystershell gray, and people walk head down, preoccupied with internal things rather than the bland slate-colored world around them. All the music is a reiteration of what was hot a few months ago. Right now the relationship that is doomed is slowly collecting evidence and reasons for the final blowup.

Eugene broke up with his brief fling, the Buddhist nun. The whole monastery was going to do a field trip up to Berkeley to see the Dali Lama, or at least the place they are building for him to stay when he comes to visit so as to help out with labor of construction, but the bus broke down.

So the Rinpoche said, "We are determined and we are hearty. Let us meet this challenge as with the difficulties of any chore. We will walk."

So about fifteen monks and nuns strapped on tennis shoes and, each carrying a stick and a bundle with their red robes, all began marching up San Pablo Avenue after crossing under the estuary through the tube and dodging through Chinatown among a throng of Opas carrying bags and wearing conical hats.

This proved a bit much for Eugene, who parted ways just after the group crossed West Grand. Sabine looked at him with big round eyes and said, "There is the Five Fold Way to Enlightenment, but each must find his own path. I hope you will find at least contentment, for I am afraid you have a long way to go before becoming enlightened. Good-bye!" And with that the nun kissed Eugene on the cheek before turning to march on up the avenue.

Eugene, brokenhearted, entered a sandwich shop and ordered a foot-long roastbeef sandwich. With all the trimmings. It had been quite a while since he had eaten meat during his vegetarian experiment for love of Sabine, but after eating most of the sandwich, he felt better. Soon, it would be time for trout fishing.

It was dark by the time Eugene had returned to the Island, convinced he had finally discovered his true nature. By that time, the little group had no doubt reached Berkeley and been welcomed there to stay in unheated rooms laid with tatami mats. The man lay down alone, without Sabine there, of course, but in a nice warm futon with a down comforter and he fell asleep to dream of lotus blossoms drifting on the black surface of a deep, impenetrable current while a fat golden man sat on the shore and laughed and laughed.

Xavier, who among all the Household had fared the best getting through this past "holiday weekend" by dint of sticking to his core principles of hard work, diligence, discipline and sturdy Mexican character, rested easily in a hammock after a long day working for El Gabacho Senor Howitzer digging a trench. Tipitina woke him to come inside for some of Marlene's bread soup.

Bread soup is a staple of folks at the Household. We printed a recipe once but perhaps need to post that in the sidebar for reference. Should the reader's circumstances ever descend so low as to need bread soup for sustenance.

The Great Recession sowed its bad seeds in 2001, producing economic Fleurs de Mal in profusion by 2005, and becoming a thicket of troubles by 2006. 2009 began the long slow process of amelioration of this thing, but it takes a long time to turn around an economy as big as the United States. Hence, we are likely to need bread soup recipes for quite a while yet.

In the wee hours, cupid safely tucked away by his mother in a feather bed, hoopla and store shelves now given over to either foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, bunny rabbits, and fertility symbols or improbable plastic shamrocks, bearded dwarves, and green tchotchkes, the Editor emerged from his den, frowsled and bearing an armload of empty Michelina's frozen dinner trays. He dumped the entire lot into the trashbin and paused in the garden to look up at the declining moon's crescent.

In the estuary, the Iranian spy submarine, El Chadoor observed all of these things, or at least its commander did via the spyglass periscope.

"To think some of them go to such trouble to avoid love," First Mate Mohammed said. "What a people!"

"Indeed," the captain said. "It should be only necessary to enlist in the submarine service to forever forswear amorous companionship."

Fortunately, all the men laughed who heard that. This crew had been a long time at sea and the submarine service has more than a little in common with the monastic life.

The captain slapped up the handles of the periscope and the sub ran out the estuary to the starlit Bay where it dived beneath the Golden Gate to run silent, run deep out to the freedom of the Pacific Ocean.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their sentry lights, quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 

FEBRUARY 16, 2014

WINTER IS THE CURTAIN

According to Richard Shindell "Winter is the curtain, but Spring takes the bow." It may be cold and rainy out now but the questing individual will notice slow surprises developing here and there. This week's photo comes from Carol of the People's Republic of St. Charles.

Right now a vast frigid chill draped with snow and rime and sheets of ice covers much of the United States. Look beneath the snow and ignore that dour Easterner Puxatawny Phil. There is something happening underneath it all.


HEARD IT ON THE GRAPEVINE

Picked up a copy of the once mighty bastion of prize-winning columnists which battled its rival the SF Comical for nearly one hundred years and found to our surprise the paper which had fallen from classy to cheesy within weeks after aquisition a few years ago had much improved. The SF Exasperator turned from tabloid to newsy -- no more did the front page carry lurid stories of the bat-faced boy and bloated ex-movie stars.

We were shocked, simply shocked.

Can the once grande dame of newsprint rise again from trailor park birdcage liner to hold her head high among the media? Will reporters and columnists once again dare show themselves at Harringtons? Well, we will just see.

February 19, Wednesday, 7:30 pm

ISABEL ALLENDE, Ripper, A Novel
With SF Poet Laureate Alejandro Murgia
First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St, Oakland
Tickets and more info: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/560643

Finally we have an interesting link to a blog run by a talented 19 year old comix artist who has a refreshingly jaundiced view of the V-day thing. http://thisishangingrockcomics.tumblr.com/.

GAMH has its best shows sold out already. David Crosby sails in 2/20 -2/21, clean and sober.
Noise pop Bob Mould is sold out 2/27

But Tommy Castro is coming 3/22 and Zucchero 4/1. We know Tommy for his crunching, firey stage shows, but Zucchero is an odd dark horse here although he is wildly famous through-out Europe. The man has performed with just about everybody, from Placido Domingo to U2 and is likely to present a memorable evening.

Here in Oaktown's renovated Fox, where the booking agent seems to be inspired, we see Amos Lee with Langhorne Slim coming Wednesday, followed by the Pixies on Friday to a show already sold out.

You can, however, catch the jazzy alternative band Umphrey's McGee on March 8th and the not so jazzy Flogging Molly March 14 to get your wearing o' the green started.

Sacto's blues wunderkind Jackie Green comes in on March 21st, supported by the Mother Hips.

The Fox continues on a roll with the suddenly popular pop diva, Lorde for two dates, March 26 and 27th. Better buy tickets now, people.

Then Widespread Panic rocks a two night spread 28th and 29th.

That oughta do ya until April when the String Cheese Incident cover three nights with their special brand of indie alternative sound.

PSA

BART invites the public to a series of outreach events to learn more about the extension to Oakland International Airport and provide comments on key service changes including:
• Replacement of the current AirBART system
• Fares
• Shorter wait times
• Shorter travel times
The dates and locations of these events are listed below. In addition, if you are unable to attend one of our outreach events, you may still provide feedback by completing an online comment form, which will be available by February 24, 2014, at www.bart.gov/oac.

OUTREACH EVENT DATES AND LOCATIONS
MONDAY, MARCH 3, 2014: 7 AM – 11 AM; Locations: BART Coliseum Station Concourse and Oakland International Airport AirBART Pick up/Drop off Area
TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 2014: 4 PM – 8 PM; Locations: BART Coliseum Station Concourse and Oakland International Airport AirBART Pick up/Drop off Area
THURSDAY, MARCH 6, 2014: 7 AM to 11 AM; Locations: BART Coliseum Station Concourse and Oakland International Airport AirBART Pick up/Drop off Area
FRIDAY, MARCH 7, 2014: 4 PM TO 8 PM; Locations: BART Coliseum Station Concourse and Oakland International Airport AirBART Pick up/Drop off Area

AC Transit Buses Fitted With New/Better Fare Boxes : Lighted Displays/Audio Responses/Faster Boardings

As part of its ongoing campaign to give passengers A Better Ride, AC Transit has refitted all of its buses with a state-of-the art fare collection system that makes boardings quicker, less confusing and much easier to tally.

AC Transit is the first bus company in the nation to outfit its entire fleet—569 buses-- with the “talking” high-tech Fast Fare boxes that interact with passengers using full-color, lighted displays and automatic audio responses.

The Fast Fare boxes replace the agency’s more bulky, 14-year-old machines that are now obsolete, prone to malfunction and often require costly and difficult repairs. With smaller frames, the new fare boxes leave more room to maneuver, particularly for wheelchairs. They also have:

• A low failure rate for improved reliability
• Bill and coin validation for more accurate accounting
• Faster processing of bills and coins for improved boarding speed
• Dispenser for Day Passes, effective on July 1st
• Improved, lighted passenger interface with full color display
• Audio response that assists passengers in paying fares
• Modular component replacement minimizing repair time and maximizing bus availability
• Modern design including advanced features for mobile ticketing and smart cards, if needed for future fare payment options.

Although the machines will accept all valid U.S. coins and currency--except for 50-cent pieces— the new fare slots are slightly different, so riders are encouraged to take a good look before inserting their bills, coins, and transfers.

Also, riders should know that the new fare boxes do not accept transfers from BART or other transit agencies. Such transfers should be handed to the bus operator. However, Clipper Card users will still tag their cards on a separate reader at the front of the bus.

CAN'T WAIT TO GET OFF WORK TO SEE MY BABY

So anyway Eugene went on a zen date with his newfound object of desire. Jose, seeking to avoid the same sort of problems that occured last year due to Javier's enthusiastic amorousness, hid himself in the porch hole with Snuffles the bum, getting the old fellow to keep quiet about it by means of the bribe of two gallon jugs of Gallows burgundy.

Javier stomped all over, looking this way and that for a companion to help him get into scrapes. Xavier, a hard working, clean cut boy from Mexico City refused to have any part of it.

The Editor, knowing full well that the leggy Joanna would be on the prowl, had secured himself in his offices behind double doors with a supply of Michelina's frozen dinners and a case of Glenfiddich malt scotch and Netflix supplied entertainment well in advance, and his redoubt was doubly redoubtable by way of the terrific dockwalloper that set in to confine sentient beings to indoors.

Pahrump, Martini, Xavier, and Denby had managed to secure gigs performing as step'n fetchits for the Native Sons of the Golden West Valentine's Ball, which after an evening of hauling ice, pouring beer, rousting drunks would culminate, after everyone had long gone home and the band had been gypped and underpaid, in a romantic round of carrying out the trash and sweeping up the leavings of those who had either left disappointed or in a state of soon to be. Once Jose felt it was safe to come out, he joined them.

It was harsh but the pay was better than a kick in the face or getting into some kind of state of erotic dismay worse than chipped beef on toast for letdown, all aroma and no savor. The band was a Beatles cover band and they were not very good.

One would think the rain would have helped keep Denby out of trouble this year. That and the gig shoving a mop at the Native Son's. For most of the night, it worked. He, like the others, ran about at the bidding of Marston Umbrage, a genuine five generation scion of the Californio's who had no problem ordering lesser species than himself all over the place. About Marston, he would be proud to say of himself -- and he often said it -- Marston was the one who got things done.

All night it was Denby do this. Denby don't do that. Denby go get the bucket for Mr. Creosote. By the end of the night the guy was wishing he was in heaven sittin' down. While he was shoving the mop over by the Hall's belljar encased Heritage Fantod where someone's internal constitution had rejected the bar Hurricane he noticed a gal with straight black hair sitting glumly at a table by herself. She had her purse up there on the table and she had on her hat and she looked to be waiting for someone. By then the place had emptied out and the crew was moving back and forth taking off the covers and folding up the tables and chairs.

Waiting on your ride, Denby asked. We will be closing up soon. He was tired, sweaty, aching and the Hurricane had been made with sticky sweet stuff.

The woman sighed, said most of her life was spent waiting. Tired and bored, ever the genteman, Denby placed one of the decoration roses on the girl's table and continued mopping up. The guys kept on stripping the tables and clapping up the chairs and carting them away. Eventually a big blonde guy appeared at the woman's table, staggering a bit from too much drink and the woman stood up. I'll drive, she said.

Who gave you the rose? The guy asked with a surly voice.

That guy, said the girl, indicating Denby. Let's go.

Next thing Denby knew he was dodging all around the heritage bric-a-brac trying to escape the enormous hamfists of an enraged Nordic giant. A wild roundhouse clipped his right ear and went into the glass-mounted official charter hung on the wall, sending shards everywhere. The belljar encased Fantod, a genuine Remington original of the Founder of E Clampus Vitus mounting a brown bear with his hat flung high, toppled, wobbled and, disastrously, tipped to fall sideways and roll to the table's edge. The giant kicked at Denby and so, jostling the table, sent the club's heritage over the edge to smash on the floor, and there the bronze statue broke into pieces.

Denby stood in horror at the shards of the club's heritage, and in so standing transfixed would have been slain on the spot had not Jose come up behind the roaring giant to smash a cafeteria chair down on the man's blonde poll. And so the jealous man dropped to the floor

Now see what you did, said the girl. How am I going to get this lunkhead into the car?

The crew was only too happy to band together so as to carry the giant, now trolling the cyclopean labyrinth cave of dreams out of the place and into the girl's backseat just as Officer's Popinjay and O'Madhauen arrived.

What's all this then? Officer Popinjay inquired.

Has there been a traffic accident or other vehicle infraction, Officer O'Madhauen asked hopefully. When learning it was a matter of a bar fight, he put away his ticket book with great disappointment.

Who is all involved with this? Officer Popinjay asked.

The girl pointed at Denby.

As the gendarmes carted Denby away in "come-a-longs", he protested that he was innocent of anything.

We'll be the judge of that, Officer Popinjay said. Or the Commissioner. Right after the holiday is over and court starts up again. Come along now!

It was a full moon, the advent of the Year of the Horse. As it was a full moon, Don Guadalupe Erizo sat out upon the sward and regarded the moon's glory, thinking whatever thoughts an echinoderm could conger on such a time while Dame Herisson remained inside, cooking up the evening crepes.

The recent storms had cleared the sky, but the evening high thin fog had thrown a pale transclucent veil over the goddess of the night, glowing high up there, enrapt.

"Ah, Mssr. Professeur! Les creps sont prêts, said Dame Herisson from the burrow. The crepes are ready.

For the life of me, I will never understand why you insist upon the French.

Parce que c'est le langage de l'amour. Because it is the language of Love.

A la, said the Don. No entiendo por qué me eligió. I don't understand why you ever chose me.

Of course it must be noted here that most little creatures of the earth understand all the natural languages, however it is seldom that any one of them encounter a human being whom they feel is intelligent enough to understand them, so the myth that they converse only in grunts and peeps persists. The dolphins, a quite intelligent species, have had great joy playing with humanity for generations, trying to get people to speak in the long unrecorded branch dialect of Urdu-inflected Rhaetor-Romanisch.

Parce que, tu êtes tellement intellectuelle, que vous ne pensez pas à choisi vous-même, Dame Herisson said. "Because you are so wrapped in your head you would never think to chose yourself. So someone had to do it for you.

O! Qué suerte la mía. Lucky me.

Que voyez-tu là-bas? What are you looking at up there? Viens, mon cher.

If you cast your troubles up into the sky they can be the stars in your eyes, my dear.

Toi chanceux, chanceux moi. Lucky you, lucky me.

Ahhhh . . .

Meanwhilte the Native Son's wrecking crew boys have gone to Denny's off the Nimitz to get eggs and sausage with their dime pay and hash browns, o those gorgeous hash browns draped with grease and tabasco and catsup, but Xavier stays behind to finish up -- hashbrowns, hashbrowns, he'd prefer tortillas and beans. And of adventures he had had quite enough that night. The sound of his broom echoes on the hard wooden floor of Parlor 33 1/3 of the Native Sons of the Golden West.

All the Island drifts on the surface of the late night Bay, mutters and snores, laps of wave and clink of mast. Every sheet a luffing sail after storm has passed and tossed beds on the calm seas of sleep. The moon gently strews a serape of diamonds across the lot of unsold and cash promised SUVs before withdrawing into a descending nimbus behind the new higher buildings and the metal framework of the new soon-to be Walgreens rising on Park Street, now tossing a cage of shadows in front of the light reflected by the departing goddess. Leaving the town in the keeping of the one who is sweeping up the ghosts of Valentine's night.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their sentry lights, quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to romantic parts unknown.

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


A cab combs the snake,
Tryin' to rake in that last night's fare,
And a solitary sailor
Who spends the facts of his life like small change on strangers...

Paws his inside P-coat pocket for a welcome twenty-five cents,
And the last bent butt from a package of Kents,
As he dreams of a waitress with Maxwell House eyes
And marmalade thighs with scrambled yellow hair.

Her rhinestone-studded moniker says, "Irene"
As she wipes the wisps of dishwater blonde from her eyes
And the Texaco beacon burns on,
The steel-belted attendant with a 'Ring and Valve Special'...
Cryin' "Fill'er up and check that oil"
"You know it could be a distributor and it could be a coil."

The early mornin' final edition's on the stands,
And that town cryer's cryin' there with nickels in his hands.
Pigs in a blanket sixty-nine cents,
Eggs - roll 'em over and a package of Kents,
Adam and Eve on a log, you can sink 'em damn straight,
Hash browns, hash browns, you know I can't relate.

And the early dawn cracks out a carpet of diamond
Across a cash crop car lot filled with twilight Coupe Devilles,
Leaving the town in a-keeping
Of the one who is sweeping
Up the ghost of Saturday night...

Songwriter: Tom Waits

 

FEBRUARY 9, 2014

NO LOVE TODAY

If Chris Smither ever comes to your town for a gig, get him to tell the little vignette about how the farmer in the song "No Love Today" comes from a figure from his childhood growing up in New Orleans.

This week we have as an image a capture from facebook friend Erika's homepage. It does echo a common sentiment held around here by the Quirkyalones and just about anyone not looking forward to February 14th.

Note that the song, as sung by Chris Smither is sung in the past tense. We expect he has plenty of love in his life today.

THIS ISLAND LIFE

We hear the Island Gerbil soon will cease being a free weekly in favor of inclusion with any of the CC Times/SJ Mercury paid subscriptions.

Well, the Sun is a warmer paper.

After the message conveyed by the allowed death of Raymond Zack got through to the right parties and money started flowing obediently to Emergency Response, the police boat got refitted and relaunched for the water. Now recently the Fire Department has taken delivery of the Deanna Jo, a slick 32 footer that can pump 2,000 gallons a minute and find still-warm bodies underneath piers with its heat-sensing apparatus.

Truth is, the island has needed something like this for a while, as the only other city with a boat of this kind is San Francisco.

Hi-Tech has been in the news recently, what with the IPD getting Automated License Plate Recognition readers. The purpose of the technology is to help IPD locate stolen vehicles and vehicles connected with crimes.

The devices, which can record thousands of images per hour, collect the license plate and context by imaging, log GPS coordinates and date and time of image capture. Citizens have expressed concerns about privacy, limits on usage, and potential abuse of collected data.

On the Op-Ed page we have County Supervisor Keith Carson urging expansion of East Bay broadband infrastructure. What he clearly wants to do is pull some of that Sunnyvale/West Palo Alto wealth in this direction in a way that will generate new business and job growth. People can go to www.ebbroadband.org for more information.

Google started a trial private ferry service from the Harbor Bay Terminal to cross the Bay to Redwood City Monday. The Internet giant, which now exceeds Microsoft and the largest auto manufacturer in income, has run a trial service from San Francisco to Redwood City since January 6th. Like other tech giants, it has run a bus service in Silicon Valley for a while. The bus service, which has been using MUNI and BART stops has drawn the ire of locals who are getting fed up with being pushed out of their neighborhoods by the skyrocket rise in costs of living.

In the Letters to the Editor we have an unusually well-informed, well-reasoned set of briefs this week. The first concerns the passing of Poet Laureate Mary Rudge, whom we all agree was a dear soul. And we are glad that our island was proud to host a poet laureate, for that indicates a good sense of values.

One letter writer was responding to someone having a beef against a planned VA clinic, which we thought was a no-brainer shoo-in. Heck, a medical facility that unobtrusively takes care of vets is certainly a better tenant here than another McBurgerChuckeeCheeseIn-and-out-Walgreens. Were any of the people protesting this living here when the Navy Base was up and running? We suspect not.

A bright 5th Grader writes about incautious drivers ignoring the crosswalk and the flashing pedestrian lights at Will and Santa Clara, which we understand is barely a block from the high school as well as the Los Semillas preschool. As there were children in the crosswalk as the time of the violation noticed by the young man, and we have personally witnessed rude drivers violating the right of way of pedestrians in crosswalks, we feel another stoplight is not enough -- those folks will just run the red anyway.

There is already a traffic control device there -- the crosswalk with flashing lights. Violation of pedestrian right of way in the crosswalk is a violation of CVC 21950 which states

21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.

(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

Notice there is no "got there first" provision. Nor is there a "left lane, right lane" provision. Legally a pedestrian "owns" the crosswalk zone once they step off the curb. In practical terms, and with reference to paragraph (b) if the street is four or more lanes wide, that is, if the street is so broad that passing through the crosswalk does not seriously endanger anyone because of distance, then most reasonable commissioners will give the benefit of the doubt to the driver.

Then again, you hit a child with a car in the State of California, your life is over, regardless of statute.

As a PSA we refer to the person writing about mysterious recurring charges on their ACI bill, charges that were supposed to be 1 time per year. This boondoggle flag was prompted by a distribution of a circular by Stop-Waste (which is a valid group pursuing the government mandated Benchmark program.) We have seen a couple other circulars floating about which are most definitely NOT bona fide entities. They are scams, so be on the lookout for anybody seeing personal information about your utility bill, or indeed any kind of personal home information.

Finally, it seems that the McKay Avenue furor continues with Eugenie Thompson's well presented Commentary in which she reveals that the GSA failed to follow proper procedures when it set the property on public auction by accepting a conditional bid based on a zoning status change which was not in the woodwork at the time.

In addition, the State Parks owns the single street that provides access to the property, which makes any sort of planned development impossible. Which makes sense that the EBPRD expected without hesitation the property would fall to them, especially in light of Measure WW's clear directive to EBPRD to expand the interpretive center and "acquire surplus federal property". In response the GSA has threatened to seize the street via eminent domain so that it can be developed to suit housing usage and allow easements for utilities necessary for housing.

In checking the 2009 EIR, cited by the city for its 2012 Housing Element and which itself is being used to push the development project forward on behalf of purchaser Tim Lewis Communities.

The State's Attorney General has stepped in to indicate the GSA failed to follow federal guidelines which require in the Code of Federal Regulations that the GSA is required to first offer surplus property to other public agencies before turning to public auction.

Finally we learn that the city staff failed to follow State Department of Housing requirements for a site suitability and availability analysis for proposed housing sites.

That is a lot of FAIL in this fiasco, and if we were Tim Lewis Communities, we would recommend backing off, as a plethora of lawsuits seem about to crash into this party.

BETTER OFF WITHOUT A WIFE

So anyway a mini "Pineapple Express" roared through the Bay Area this past week. Such weather systems consist of rapid narrow trofs that barrel through with a series of rainstorms. The condition develops from a ripple of highs and low pressure spots that congregate near Hawaii.

This is the misery of Winter, such as it is for California. Of course other places -- even places in California -- suffer somewhat more severe weather and concomitant attitudes inflexible as ice.

Of course when people come here for the weather, just one wildfire, just one earthquake and back they go, scurrying to Idaho and Virginia and their beloved tornadoes.

Cold and ice are bad enough, but losing everything you own, your sense of gravity, and your sanity along with it, well that is more than a lot of people want to endure on a regular basis.

With this weather there is one good thing -- all the snow bunnies are heading up to Tahoe and the Sierra to get in some downhill and spend a few dollars at overpriced chalets and faux mountain eateries, cavorting there with the sprung step of youth.

Now is the time of dank, wet advancement, the steady slog when the ease of Summer feels like an unreal impossibility. The Oakland hills remain shrouded in mist and every room feels like a box sapping the heat from your body. Because the assumption is that it never gets cold here, none of the houses possess wall insulation or double-pane windows.

People look to use the oven as often as possible, looking for ways to employ that out-of-date cream of mushroom soup and the weird can of cheddar cheese soup, which nobody seems to have ever heated up within memory save folded safely within some kind of baked tuna casserole.

Unless you hailed from Wisconsin who on earth would ever eat such a thing straight up? Even Juanita is trying to see if she can finally get the Minnesota Hot Dish down right, save with her special infusion of jalapenos in a spicy nacho can mixed with french cut green beans and Louisiana hot sauce.

People still find boxes of the first attempt she made as an offering to the visiting Norwegian Bachelor farmers in search of their wayward minister. Those fellows, used to food that got no spicier than Matjes Herring left little boxes of her gifts stowed all over town, and even today, years later, folks would come across a magically preserved box of that hot dish in the most unlikely places.

So anyway, the weekend brought on a set of dockwallopers and wharf sizzlers to gently nudge thoughts away from drought. Drought is a function of snowfall in the Sierra and has no relation upon the local rainstorms, which barely wet the arid trough of the reservoirs with their meager additions. A few inches here and there, even one or two torrential monsoons, cannot possibly compensate for entire acre-feet of water level loss.

Word has it Mount Tam got 20 inches of rain in that last deluge, which ought to ease that part of the world some.

A terrible thing had happened to Eugene Gallipagus, one of the worse fates imaginable to a man like him. But before we get into that, we have to tell about what happened the night the big storm began.

Because of the impending drought, Eugene got it into his head to set up rain barrels all around the property. Since a rain barrel cannot catch more than its mouth, Eugene made himself a dinner of a peanut butter sandwich washed down with berry-flavored Sports-Ade and so scurried about setting up plastic-covered plywood sheeting held down with cotton rope and two by fours to funnel all the water from the roof of the building and the garage. Since the setup would likely overflow any one container he had, he setup quite an ingenious system of pulleys and ball-bearing hinges dependent upon sandbag counterweights hanging from ropes. As one barrel filled, its weight would push down a board that lifted up a counterweight which caused an old sailboard pole to shove a notch that activated a spring and a wheel, thus getting the entire open funnel to shift its "spout" over the mouth of an empty barrel. He built this setup hurriedly as there was scant warning of the oncoming Pineapple Express, so the first drops were already falling when he finished off his work in the yard in the dark although he worked like mad in a great effort to get something troubling off of his mind.

The system seemed to work pretty well, at least as far as he could see by flashlight so he went to bed, waking up to the sound of terrific crashing out back. He came out in the sleeting rain to see that his entire forty-foot funnel had upended itself, flinging matchstick two by fours over the fence into Mrs. Almeida's chicken coop where a noisy sort of disarray prevailed among the hens who shrieked a hullabaloo at the raccoons which had gathered to pilfer the eggs. Mrs. Almeida came out and added quite a bit of choice Portuguese as well.

What had happened. Roof rats, stirred out of their dens by the rains flooding formerly dry holes, had found the scent of peanut butter on the ropes holding the counterweights and so had chewed the lines down until they snapped under the weight of sodden wood and rainwater, flinging the half-full rain barrels, one after another up into the air, propelled by the leaf springs from a 1942 Ford pickup truck and sending Eugene's hasty construction cartwheeling across the yard to Poultry Armageddon.

Of course one could talk about what happened next, however the sad truth was that Eugene had fallen in love. Now for many this is not such problem but for Eugene, the captain of doofiness if there ever was one, the event seriously violated his character. Yet again, anything is possible in this great wide world and the actor who portrayed Gomer Pyle, a character with whom Eugene shared many traits, also possessed a great operatic voice.

Its just that nobody remembers Gomer Pyle for opera.

And who should have Eugene's amorous eyes lighted upon immediately after having been skewered by that puckish puto? A nun from the Tibetan monastery Garam Masala, named Sabine. The first thing Eugene said to her was, "What the heck happened to your hair?"

Sabine told him she was with the Buddhist monastery and Eugene blurted out that he wanted to live with her forever. Subtlety never had infected Eugene's discourse.

Sabine rocked back on her heels. "Well, you would have to renounce the world's illusions and practice Zen mindfulness every day."

Of course Eugene was all agog to know what that entailed.

"Well the path to enlightenment is through wisdom and we acquire wisdom through the abnegation of desire."

That path felt contrary to purpose and so this left Eugene much distressed. Nevertheless, he started hanging out around the Tibetan temple with guys in purple robes and he collected some literature and got a book called "The Five Fold Way". He began taking cold showers and he poured out all the last of his Fat Tire ale, which drove a stake through his heart as he did so.

Different churches handle the modern version of the old Roman holiday of Lupercalia in ways that suited their temperaments.

Buddhists drape their statue of His Paunchy Holiness with roses. The Baptists either engage in hella joyful shouting or even more severe diatribes against sin and hellfire and damnation, depending on what sort of Baptist minister held sway. The Lutherans held a Mac 'n Cheese banquet with pink lemonade and happy couples walked the labyrinth in the dark with giggles, holding hands, while Pastor Nyquist sermonized on the differences between Eros, Caritas and that other one no one can remember the name of. They also did a fair amount of singing.

The Catholics of course had their priests dressed up in fancy gay robes with pink pumps -- rather stylish, actually -- and members of Opus Dei tried to hold a condom burning which did not end well, as Father Danyluk had to come out into the parking lot with a fire extinguisher to put out the smoking blaze and berate all of them for acting like fools in spreading the stink of burnt rubber all over the neighborhood.

The Presbyterians behaved with rectitude and held history panels on the famous 1950's gangland massacre in Chicago.

Members of the Church of Truffle Delight put on white robes and drank red wine and ate powdered chocolates.

Jason Arrabiata, CFSM, held a spaghetti dinner. This one seemed to attract a fair number of Methodists as well.

Reverend Freethought hosted a party for all the Unitarians and everyone who came had great fun. Four of them, Reverend Lisa Freethought, Denby Montana, Miles Ni Gopaleen, and Marsha from the Household ended up playing scrabble until late. The Reverend won the final game with a word coined by Mencken, "ecdysiast".

They were all amazed and wondered how the Reverend knew of such a word, but she would not say anything about it. They caught Miles smiling to himself with secret knowledge and he had to say that the word reminded him of great lady, someone whom he had never met, but of whose admirable qualities there was some renown.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Suzie and Dawn and Padraic got busy cleaning up the place, for the weekend at the old watering hole would be profitable.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their sentry lights, quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to romantic parts unknown.

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

 

FEBRUARY 2, 2014

UNCHAIN MY HEART

This week's headline image is not really a photograph, but a painting taken of a photograph and done by Islander Carol, present resident of the People's Republic of St. Charles, a building fraught with all sorts of talents. These are anchor chains on one of the marina jetties.

WHATS THE BUZZ

A number of folks had a look at the planned OES building, a long awaited item on the part of people who talk into their lapels and carry badges and lethal hardware by trade. Most cities in the ABAG region, sometimes called the "5 Counties" in reference to the counties that cluster around San Francisco, are very aware that this area is Ground Zero for earthquakes, fire, flooding, and now terrorist attack. Alameda County has two facilities to handle potential disasters in its 2.5 million inhabited spread, with the one out at Santa Rita bunkered three stories underground. People who are serious take this stuff very seriously. So the folks whose job it is to be paranoid had planned a 3,640 square foot emergency operations center at the foot of Grand Street with construction slated to begin this Spring after funding came through.

But neighbors and Planning Board folks are protesting the the "giant walled fortress in the middle of a historic residential neighborhood" (John Knox White). Frank Mataresse, former councilperson also has expressed serious concerns.

At present our OES sits in the basement of the Island Police Department and the planned project is tied somehow to the upgrade of Firestation #3, a 90-year old building with seismic issues preventing full utilization.

Various ideas have been floated about where the funding is coming from, as somebody is acting like the funds are fait accompli. Probably because none other than Don Perata has been sent to Sacto to get the money. By hook or by crook, we expect.

Last chance to have a say on the Point's development with regard to the disputed EIR will happen during Tuesday's City Council meeting at the Hall. The Meeting begins at 7pm and the Council is expected to approve the EIR with no dissent.

She was a modest gal from Los Angeles, born in 1928, but raised for her early years in Oklahoma and Texas. She raised seven children as a single parent and founded the Island chapter of the California Federation of Chaparral Poets, fostering awareness of poetics in the schools and reigned for many years as the Poet Laureat of the Island. Mary Roberta Rudge passed away at age 85 last Sunday.

This time tends to be a pre-season period with a few glittering gems in there for those diligent enough to pry. Basically the kids are back in school and everything is about buckling down to schoolwork and general work for band members doing the usual 9-5 to pay for strings and gas for the touring van.

You did know that Bare Naked Ladies bandmates still hold day jobs don't you?

Okay it all breaks loose in the Spring. Even the venerable PHC is taking a "winter break". Look to see Willie Nelson with family at the Greek and a few familiar names appearing at the Fox in April. By then all the disappointments suffered on the 14th of February will have lost their sting.

LIKE THE WEATHER

The recent dockwalloper had us looking forward here to what may be coming in, as we all know that severe drought conditions are in effect, despite this light pattering. Seems a series of narrow trofs are rippling in with some moisture every other front, which ought to make for some schizo temp behavior as some days shine sunny and others dip into the chills. Not enough promised to ease the drought seriously, though.

So we do what all serious forecasters do when doubt reigns -- we go to the Mountain. And there on the far side of the mountain sits Howard Schecter, dispenser of the Dweeb Report, which has proved to be uncanny in accuracy for some twenty years or more.

Schecter focuses on what happens in the high Sierra elevations, as he works out of Mammoth, but what goes for the Sierra goes for the Golden State as all the water we drink, bathe in, swim in, wash in, irrigate comes from Sierra snowmelt.

His forecast is unusually reserved, as in "I just don't know." Which is not often a pronouncement from the good doctor.

According to his latest report,

"We could easily see another 6 to 10 inches more (of snow) by morning over the crest as there is another feature that will come through late tonight bringing another 3 to 6 inches or so by Friday AM. That Vort max will be coming through in colder air so it will be drier with higher snow to water ratios. That should produce more snow from the system with less water. Storm totals over the upper elevations will be between 15 and 24 inches by Friday AM. This has been revised upward about 6 inches from yesterdays discussion.

Mammoth remains on the cyclonic side of the upper jet that will be well to the south of Mammoth over the weekend. The following system that will affect Southern Ca will come though about Sunday night or Monday. The track is a little uncertain with the 12z ECMWF taking it a bit more east. Should that verify…Mammoth would benefit as we become under the influence of the deformation zone. The NE quad slips by late Sunday night or Monday AM. I will update in the morning to see if this is a new trend.

Otherwise, next week still looks pretty dry over all, but there are some interesting possibilities that weekend that I will be discussing next week…..

New 12Z Thursday ECMWF as pretty good storm breaking underneath blocking pattern over Bering Sea. the EC is very wet with this storm bringing in over 2+ inches of QPF late in the weekend while the GFS is clueless at the moment…".
- See more at: http://mammothweather.com/#sthash.wglbwnpc.dpuf

The GFS is "clueless at the moment." Not exactly heartening. Also Howard is talking inches here, when we should be talking 15-20 feet of accumulation by now.


ONLY A PHASE, THESE DARK CAFE DAYS

So anyway, a dockwalloper set in after a warm spell to drench things pretty thoroughly for several hours on Sunday. Heavy Blakean clouds had hung in the chiaroscuro skies all week threatening some kind of godlike tumult, but everything held off until Sunday and no muscular hand reached down to toss members of City Council into the Abyss.

The end of January brought about the first day of the next lunar cycle, and we are not talking monthlies here. Well, a bit, as January 30th was the dark New Moon. All across Asia, billions of Asians go on the march in a vast "chunyun" of waves of humanity washing back and forth across the continent in all kinds of vehicles, from planes, to trains, autos, motorcycles, rickshaws, ferries, paddleboats, ox carts, perambulators, bicycles, floating river barrels, busses, flivvers, animatronic mice, uranium-stoked flip-flops, jet skis, travois, horses of course, mules, donkeys even, all scampering hither and thither to celebrate the new year and the vast majority wearing red knickers to ward off the lion-monster named "Nian".

Nian has sensitive ears, so it is wise to blast obnoxious noise like firecrackers and the Abba songlist through loudspeakers. The red knickers help to escape Nian and maybe help with other things as well, especially if they are lacy.

Jennifer Bao came busting into the Old Same Place Bar with a coterie of women from the Island Asian Promulgation Enterprise (I-APE). Babylon had its famous festival with immense parade and the enormous Gum Lung, Oaktown has its own festival. All the hamlets and towns in the 5 County Bay Area held official celebrations. Now, seeing as City Hall finally had broken the yellow barrier tape in getting a true-blue son of FOB parents into a Council seat Jennifer and her group were lobbying hard for the Lunar New Year to be celebrated here on the Island with its own festival.

So what if there had been a minor flap over raising the PRC flag at City Hall on National Day. The Tibetans had raised such a stink over it the entire ceremony had been ruined. So Beijing was a little bit Communist and somewhat anti-capitalist to a moderate degree. Hey, we are all Asians here and time to celebrate our cultures. With a couple billion people swilling around over there you can't expect everybody to be the same as you. If its Yellow its mellow and that should be good enough. Those darned Tibetans. Just because they got invaded and stuff. They gotta dig the Buddha-man and just chill without messing up the party. Padraic wussup with all the green here? We got the Year of the Horse coming on!

Padraic shrugged. It's an Irish bar and St. Paddy's is coming up . . . .

That's not for another month, said Jennifer. C'mon Padraic, loosen up and do the Gagnam Style! Hey, we got lucky red envelopes and flags and pictures of horses -- this week everybody can be Asian a little bit. Just don't put no stereotypes on me -- I sure aint no Lotus Blossom, that's for sure! She shouted across the Bar at someone taping up a horse's head in the window - HEY! STRAIGHTEN THAT HORSE'S ASS! HE LOOKS LIKE HE IS POOPING IN THE DOS EQUIS! Jennifer buttonholed Suzie. Hey you sweetie, we get you in a silk dress with a slit up to IT and you no need to rent a boyfriend this year . . . .

I think NOT, Dawn stated emphatically.

Over at the Household of Marlene and Andre, the swing shift sleepers snoozed in their blankets and sleeping bags, wrapped deep in the Stygian warmth of dreams, dreams of better times to come, of full bellies and gentle gestures replacing the hard flint of human intercourse today. Jose dreamed of flying with the gorgeous multicolored feathers of Quetzalcoatl, sailing effortless over valleys and rivers, away from all these hard people and the stones of their minds and their wooden hearts.

Javier dreamed, of course, of being caressed by fabulous nearly naked women, none of whom ever wanted to kill him or set him on fire.

In the bedroom, little Adam slept after doing his dutiful homework and cleaning the dishes, sleeping the sleep of the almost, but not quite innocent. His lips open, slack, without a hint of his roguery.

In the bed, Marlene sat up going through her papers at the end of the long day, the thick black reading glasses slipping down to the point of her upturned nose as she kept accounts. The girl with the ruined womb, quietly keeping body and soul together in that quiet house of sleepers. Andre sat on the edge of the bed, quietly finishing up the details of an outlaw love song on his Washburn dreadnought with a bit of soft Travis-picking. The boy beaten and abused by a long short life of unfair and callous, initiated by another stepfather who probably could just as well have enjoyed a beer in the same tavern as the one who destroyed Marlene.

In the heart of Africa, in the depths of the Congo jungle, there is a City of Hope where the women walk from house to house, singing. There they heal the lacunae, the perforations that would obliterate love. The Household of Marlene and Andre is just such a place. As the silver sliver above eased slowly to its next incarnation as the First Quarter Moon, the girlchild woman touched the boychild man's neck and he put away the guitar to fold her in his thin arms, two bruised and battered hearts beating together.

Overhead, silent and invisible, a putto torn from some medieval painting let his bow go slack, let the arrow droop, and the cherub hovered in wonder for a moment. No need to strike here. And so off the little thing flew on tiny wings, bobbing above the rooftops, seeking some hapless mortal to thrust into love's piercing torment with his cruel arrows of chance.

As the mischievous fellow bobbed along who should he see walking a little unsteady from all the beer, but Eugene Gallipagus. The arrow notched let fly and hit its mark. ZING! POCK! Down went the sturdy man, hard to the pavement.

Now who should the hapless poodlehunter Eugene see upon opening his eyes? Maybe next week we will tell you all about it.

For that is when the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their sentry lights, quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to romantic parts unknown.

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

JANUARY 25, 2013

WHEN YOU SEE THE SOUTHERN CROSS

This week continues the nautical theme that we have been pursuing of late and is submitted by Curley on board his sometime boat home.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

The Island-Life annual Holiday CD is out and shipping across the nation and around the globe. For those of you out of the distribution loop we will post the concluding PHC-esque monologue in the side bar and maybe one of the songs. The usual Staff got involved to a lesser degree on this one, but we assure you that the production values and musical standards remain wretchedly abysmal to the highest degree. A critic in Lemon Grove has said about the work, "That is just awful!"

WHAT'S GOING ON

The newly revived Autobody on Park has beaucoups events going on, including a live performance by

In a strange twist Autobody lets us know about a tribute to Beatles George Harrison, presented by The International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The event is titled A Tribute to George Harrison: His Life, Music and Spiritual Path and will be held Saturday, February 22nd, 2014, 4 - 8pm

Tickets are $20.00
includes a vegetarian feast (Prasadam), served at 7:00pm

LOCATION: Hare Krishna Temple, Berkeley
2334 Stuart Street, (between Telegraph Ave & Ellsworth St)

FOR INFO
https://www.facebook.com/feb22.2014
510-540-9215

Tickets are available in advance through Brown Paper Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/561472
This event is open to all ages.

According to the promo material, "The event promises to be an exciting mix of live music, an introduction to Krishna Consciousness and a rousing celebration of the life and work of George Harrison.
Although George Harrison is known most often for his pivotal role in the Beatles he was perhaps one of the most spiritual of popular musicians of our times. His spiritual quest began in his mid 20s, when he realized for the first time that "Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot..." This search led him to delve deep into the mystical world of Eastern religions, especially Hinduism, Indian philosophy, culture, and music. Harrison had a great affinity towards India. In the summer of 1969, the Beatles produced the single "Hare Krishna Mantra", performed by Harrison and the devotees of the Radha-Krishna Temple, London that topped the 10 best-selling record charts throughout UK, Europe, and Asia. The same year, he and fellow Beatle John Lennon met Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the global Hare Krishna Movement, at Tittenhurst Park, England."

We have on word from the good people at KQED, an NPR affiliate station which hosts the weekly Prairie Home Companion. KQED will host Member Days at the Exploratorium, Friday, January 31 & Saturday, February 1, 10am to 5pm.
The Exploratorium is located at San Francisco's Pier 15, on the Embarcadero at Green Street.

Admission is free to KQED members who present a current KQED MemberCard and valid ID at the ticketing desk, for up to two tickets total. Tickets based on availability.

For more information, please visit kqed.org/memberday
*Special Exploratorium membership offer for KQED members now through February 2! Call 415.528.0321 to learn more.

Now are you not glad you supported NPR that last pledge drive? Also for members are links to listen to content, bypassing the pledge pitch.

This past week Robben Ford crossed the Bridge of Sighs at Yoshi's East in Oaktown, while the beautiful Sean Colvin caused men (and a few women as well) to sigh at Yoshi's West in Babylon.

For February we pick out the following hot acts in Oaktown:
Feb 11: Charles Neville with Gent Treadly
Feb 12: David Lindley
Feb 16: Roy Rogers & The DRK with Special Guest Carlos Reyes

Charles Neville needs no intro, while people in-the-know about music know David Lindley's session work very well, as he has sided with Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Linda Ronstadt, Curtis Mayfield, James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Terry Reid, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart. He has also collaborated with fellow guitarists Ry Cooder and Henry Kaiser. Artist Ben Harper has credited Lindley's distinctive slide guitar style as a major influence on his own playing and in 2006 Lindley sat in on Harper's album Both Sides of the Gun.

The native Californian (born March 21, 1944, San Marino) has mastered such a wide variety of instruments that Acoustic Guitar magazine referred to Lindley, not as a multi-instrumentalist, but instead as a "maxi-instrumentalist" in a cover story about his career to date in 2005. The majority of the instruments that Lindley plays are string instruments. They include (but are not limited to) the acoustic and electric guitar, upright and electric bass guitar, banjo, lap steel guitar, mandolin, hardingfele, bouzouki, cittern, baglama, gumbus, charango, cümbüs, oud, weissenborn, fiddle, and zither.

He is known for use of "cheap" instruments sold at Sears department stores and intended for amateurs.

Roy Rogers, named after a oater movie star of the 1950's, is known for incendiary slide work on electric guitar. His shows tend to be quite exciting and packed with flamboyant, Mississippi Delta-infused flavor, although he is also a native Californio (1950, Redding).

SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD

So anyway, most of the world is embedded deep within the reveries of snow and ice-time, and even here in California we have had some pretty nippy mornings. Yet the season advances and still no rain and no word of snow at elevation in the Sierra, so people have started collecting bricks for the toilet, checking out drought-proof ground cover, repairing leaky faucets and getting ready for another hard time with water.

Still, the fog has returned, a bit early, but the early harbinger of things about to change. The squirrels are running like mad on the fences and the woodrats have come out in droves.

After the Hollardays had crept safely away and little Adam went back to school, the House Wrecking crew dragged the decrepit tree from its washtub out the door and down to the beach, there to make a merry bonfire in the sand. As Pahrump and Jose and Occasional Quentin scrounged around for tinder, the careful marsupial who had been living inside the trunk crept from his hole, peered about, and not liking the incendiary future fast approaching, scampered down and out across the sands into the underbrush area between the beach and the low wall that bordered the bicycle path.

Eugene Gallipagus, walking with his date, found in the Craigslist Personals (Soulful gal with youthful spirit loves cuddling, candlelight, nature, long walks on the beach. Seeking Life Partner who does not ask too much . . .".) came across the bonfire just as the Fire Department arrived to extinguish the blaze. As the men came down with their axes and their hose, the leaping shadows thrown by the firelight mingled with the dark fleeing bodies of the Household seeking an escape.

Eugene had perhaps put too much weight on the "loves nature" part, for his stories of hunting Fifi with his Widowmaker 30 aught six seemed to put a damper on the evening which started off well enough at the Sushi House with the big picture windows facing the Bay and the distant glitter of Babylon across the water.

"So you like to carve up once living things with a knife," Sandra said flatly.

"Yep," Eugene said. "Genuine Gil Hibben bowie. Nine inches a' cold steel."

He probably should not have gone into the business of gutting and cleaning the kill at dinner.

By the time arrived for the long walk on the beach it seemed pretty clear even to Eugene, who it must be admitted was not the sharpest tool in the woodshed, that this one was going to go nowhere fast and he was cheerfully resigned to make the best of it. There is a world of men like Eugene, decent enough, hard working, not especially talented or bright, and gifted with sufficient obtuseness to shield them from lifetimes of otherwise miserable loneliness. These brothers of a kind meet on occasion to sling back beers, crowd inside a hunter's shack for poker and stories, greet distantly across the frozen lake from fishhouses. As long as the AFL and the NFL persist, these fellows will never lack for conversation.

Sandra, constructed of more delicate material, was feeling the bony finger of Time's second hand poking her between the ribs at forty-five and after tonight, she felt sure another dreadful V-Day would growl with tumultuous stormclouds seeded with scads of "putee" cherubs as it passed over her with her head kept down, ears plugged into her iPod Nano playing that Eleanor Rigby song over and over and over again.

As the two stood to watch the firemen do their thing, he to admire the equipment and professionalism, she to watch the sparks and mourn the embers, one of the firemen there noticed her and called out her name.

"O hello Sandy. What are you doing here?"

"O walking. How is Susan?"

"O we are not together. She was too much a Taurus, if you know what I mean."

"You two were really an item at Encinal High," Sandra said. "Sue and Brad."

"Yeah, well some people grow up." Pause. "And some do not. You down here by yourself?"

"Well, uh . . ".

"Yes," Eugene said suddenly. "We just met on the beach and saw the fire. Bye now! Gotta go dust the taxidermy."
With that Eugene turned and walked off into the night, for even among dull tools, there are those who sometimes can still cut to the heart of the matter with some understanding.

"You still living at St. Charles?" Brad asked.

"No I outgrew that place. I am over on Park Avenue now," Sandra replied.

"Hey give you a ride back!"

"On the truck! Isn't that like, against the rules?"

"Ah never mind about that, The guys will love it. You can ring the bell!"

As the woman climbed up into the firetruck, the escaped opossum observed all from his new sanctuary of driftwood and high above, floating amid Michelangelo clouds, a grinning putto renotched his bow with an arrow and sailed off on tiny wings to locate another victim.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to romantic parts unknown.

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

 

JANUARY 19, 2014

FALLING

As we reported a few weeks ago, a palm tree fell on the monument created several decades ago to honor all domestic animals, wrecking the slogan which has tickled generations of Islanders, "To All My Dumb Friends".

City workers have cleared away the tree debris and removed dangerous loose stone, leaving this sad remnant.

We kinda hope somebody finds it in their heart to fund a way to restore the bench to its former idiosyncratic glory.

LIKE THE WEATHER

As most of you know the Governor announced a Drought State of Emergency. Rainfall, while notably low this year is not all of the story. We have from Mike Rettie and his long-running precipitation records the following stats from initial collection in 1998: 2013 got 5.10 inches of rain vs average of 18.69 inches with a max of 26.44 in 2010.

A look at the Sierra snowpack, which by virtual of gradual melt produces our rivers that source our reservoirs and supply the nation's largest breadbasket for foodstuffs indicates that collected snowpack does not rise above 15% of normal in many measured areas.

The LA Times reported "The signs aren’t good when the chief of California’s snow survey has to walk over bare ground to take a snowpack measurement in the Sierra Nevada, as Frank Gehrke did Friday near Echo Summit.

Manual and electronic readings up and down the range placed the statewide snowpack at 20% of normal for this date, adding to worries that 2014 could be a bad drought year.

The meager snowpack was not a surprise. Last year was California’s driest in 119 years of records, according to the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno." (Meager Sierra snowpack is way below average, Bettina Boxall,
January 3, 2014)

The Governor's declaration on Friday was not unexpected. From the Sacto Bee (Capitol Alert: Pass a bond measure for water, California lawmakers urge at rally, Jeremy B. White, January 16, 2014), we got the following on Thursday: " Lawmakers representing drought-stricken districts joined with hundreds of their constituents at the state Capitol on Thursday to press for a new water bond measure and the declaration of a drought emergency.

"I see farmers, I see farmworkers; I see people from urban communities and from rural communities, all here today to send one message: that we need water," said Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno."

While Chicken-Little cries of disaster are not new to California, where the climate has seen steady progression towards aridity since at least Spanish Colonial times, this time around the Golden State is joined by 10 others facing similar circumstances. Quite often housing development projects and water diversion projects hinge on how much any one particular appellant can sway an agency on its particular need for water. Coupled with that are the historically violent land battles over water diversion and political maneuverings over water rights in the Golden State. So it never is so simple as saying the rainfall isn't enough.

AP presented this report (Drought prompts disaster declarations in 11 states, Michelle Rindels, Associated Press, Updated 7:49 pm, Thursday, January 16, 2014) , "Federal officials have designated portions of 11 drought-ridden western and central states as primary natural disaster areas, highlighting the financial strain the lack of rain is likely to bring to farmers in those regions.

The announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday included counties in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma and California."

Finally, in a report by USA Today (California governor declares drought emergency, John Myers, KXTV-TV, Sacramento, Calif. 7:08 p.m. EST January 17, 2014) we have the bleaker picture presented which includes both northern and southern California water districts. The SoCal report on snowpack turns out to be relatively optimistic in the LA report, which featured water basins that -- naturally - served mostly SoCal.

"The situation in most of California and northern Nevada is extremely dry, according to the most recent report Thursday from the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks drought nationwide. Almost 99% of California is considered abnormally dry or worse; almost two-thirds of the state is in extreme drought.

2013 became the driest year on record in California; San Francisco had the least rain since record keeping there began during the gold rush of 1849.

For the past few weeks, Golden State lawmakers and California residents have been urging Brown to make the drought official, a situation made clear with bleak news from the first Sierra snowpack measurement of the season Jan. 10.

The northern Sierra has a snowpack that's only 8% of normal for this date, according to the latest measurements released Thursday from the California Department of Water Resources. The central Sierra is at 16% of normal; the southern Sierra at 22%. Last year at this time, snowpack was normal or exceeded it."

We checked the numbers at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu and indeed found drought conditions throughout the West

A quick check on geosat images of the Sierra produced some queasy images of a narrow band of white where normally a broad swath between 50 and 80 miles wide proceeded for some four hundred miles along the Sierra crest.

So this one is no Chicken Little. Remember, "if its yellow, its mellow, if its brown, flush it down." Nevertheless 75% of the State's water is consumed by agribusiness.

UNKIND DIVINE: BAR CHORDS AT THE FIRESIDE

Toddled over to the Fireside here on the Island for some nightlife and to catch a journeyman band that is attracting a loyal following. Always a prelude to breakout in some form or other.

This is the twelfth time the Bar Chords have performed at the Fireside with their special blend of retro 60's - 80's rock. We were pleasantly surprised to find the bass, guitar, drum singer format band to be far more accomplished musically than most of the garage bands out there. Despite some initial technical sound glitches, all musicians entered on the beat cohesively and remained spot on the dime throughout the set. In sound they resemble early Potrero Hill Ribltad Vorden Bar San Francisco Sound. Early Warlocks and Jefferson Airplane come to mind. In fact one of their covers is a very capable "White Rabbit", with alto soprano Bree Desmond putting in vocals reminiscent of a husky Bonnie Bramlett or an unsullied Janice Joplin.

Most of the work performed consisted of originals.

Personnel consist of Jared Selvin, Mike Cooper, Bree Desmond, sister Kara Desmond, and Dominic Rivelli, with Dominic and Jared trading places alternatively on lead and bass, both employing solid-body Fender-style guitars with plectrum and Kantneresque hybrid strumming and picking. All members currently hold 9-5 forty hour a week jobs, but Bree has stated their commitment to doing well "in the business".

In scoping the crowd it was clear the high voltage energy produced by the band gradually infected the people and it was clear the people enjoyed themselves immensely. We joined a group of rocker cuties (attended by dad) on their first night escape from raising a seven year-old. Seven-Year old was on a sleep-over and the cuties were rocking and rollicking like all get out. And getting really, really drunk. We expect that at least one of them had some trouble locating her knickers the following morning.

O to be young and adorable and rocking out. Drunk on Life and Rock 'n Roll. Which is redundant, we know.

As it has been said about 4 Year Bender, another local band with promise, you know it was a good party when you cannot remember in whose house you left your pants.

Experience says that the 9-5 will need to give a little and maybe a lot if that commitment is to hold, and of course their sound will need to evolve as current tastes in retro sound change. Or maybe not, as long as Boomers remain willing to get out and rock the old keister in the niche market and there remain those legions of Gen X and Y for whom the little Middle Eastern raga in mid solo sounds quite original. If they decide never to leave the security of the 9-5, at least their fans and the band are guaranteed to have a rollicking good time while it lasts. Just remember to keep a spare pair of underpants in your car. It's only Rock 'n Roll, but we like it.

ONE, IN THE NAME OF LOVE

He would have been 85 as of January 15th had not some "ten cent white boy" murdered the "million dollar Black man" on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, in Memphis, Tennessee, a place where Martin Luther King, jr. had often stayed during his nationwide trips seeking social equality. The hotel still stands, a very unpretentious place in an unpretentious section of Memphis a couple blocks east of the river.

Rev. King was a man not so easily summarized, by detractors and glorifiers alike, however in all probability he was one of the greatest men, if not THE greatest man, produced by this United States of America.

He did not want to die and was not obviously courageous in the way movie stars portray physical courage, but he knew that someone would eventually kill him if he pursued his chosen path as a servant of his god. He often foretold his own death in speeches and in private conversation. In public reference to a bomb threat which had delayed his plane flight to Memphis, he said, "And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will."

He was unfailingly modest, unpretentious, unadorned, yet he spearheaded the most radical social changes this country has ever seen -- and left it far better off and well on an inexorable path set by him toward bettering itself by righting numerous wrongs and making real the statement in the Constitution "All men are created equal," and thereby turn the Nation away from a condition in which for millions of citizens life was no better, no more free, no more promising than the harshest Stalinist regime that had ever existed. A Nation where prior to MLK the phrase "Land of the Free" was a hideous joke.

He was the subject of intense scrutiny by government intelligence operatives seeking any sort of negative details and compromising situations quite in illegal advance of any accusation of wrongdoing. While the FBI did compile some minor peccadilloes that could be said true of any man of the world, the truth is surprising in that they found so little, for as a whole the man was far more incorruptible than the vast majority of gurus, false religious leaders, mystical pundits, and outright charlatans out there.

While the truth of conspiracy, government or any other sort of organized complicity in his death probably will never be known, this Monday we recognize not the death but the living legacy of a truly great American in a time which has seen both its own changes as well as its own disappointments and senseless violence.

We have now a Black President of this Nation, who certainly solidly clinched the title by overwhelming reelection by a populace that is vastly changed from 1968. What would King say to our current President today on the subject of, say, intensive and illegal violations of privacy, so specifically forbidden by the Constitutional stipulation and originating statements in the Declaration of Independence stating explicitly "that the people shall be free from unreasonable search and seizures"? For King himself was subject to just such illegal wiretapping and searches.

And once again, just as in Vietnam, we find ourselves drawn into foreign involvements that corrupt the endeavor and lead to heinous crimes and sordid excuses for detentions without trial, summary executions by robotic planes, and reprehensible acts of torture.

While there are no more "Colored" waterfountains or whites only entries and seating on a bus no longer has a race line, there remain vast oceans of poverty that persist as legacy of 400 years of slavery. Violent death remains a more vivid likelihood for a Black man than a White in just about every major city in America.

Clearly some dreamers still need to wake to reality and action in the 21st Century America.

THE DOTTED LINE

So anyway, now the Hollar Days are over, that vigorous time of bustling and everybody shouting at one another, shouting whether in the store or seeing an old acquaintance across the street you have not seen for years, shouting for the sheer exuberance of it whether its necessary or not.

"Hey Steve! Long time no see!

"How are the kids? You get over that bronchitis?"

"What?"

"Bronchitis! Cough! Pneumonia!"

"O bronchitis! That's what I thought you said. O that was a while back! Better now!"

Of course any two people with sense would cross the street to catch up, but the Californios are all in a hurry nowadays and the street is no place for reunions.

"You gotta drop by some time!"

"What?"

"Come visit! Bring Martha!"

"Martha? She's fine! Fine . . "!

As for the families, they are all rebuilding themselves into islands of stability after the havoc of temporary proximity in which cousins learned to hate each other all over again in new ways derived by everyone being another year older. Helen is still in a snit about Uncle Jack getting so drunk at dinner and plunging both hands into the steaming mashed potatoes.

Those of us who managed to get through the Season living that Waitresses song with the world's smallest turkey in the oven and no happy ending now are girding up for the Battle of V-Day in February. Kind friends set up parties and blind dates with just a touch of sadism so that Karen/Denby will have some hopeful to cover them up with roses by the dreaded 14th.

"But I don't wanna go out tonight! Whyyyyyyyy?" Karen wails.

"Because," say Chad and Tammy, "We want you to have what we have."

Karen folds her arms and glares from under sharp black bangs. "Wuzzat?"

"We just want you to be happy," Tammy says. "Don't you want to be happy?"

"Overrated," Karen says. "I'll settle for cheerfulness. It's good enough."

A similar conversation happened concerning Denby, with the difference that Bree, Susan and Kara simply did not include him in any decision making for they know that men do not understand the complex mathematics of l'amor.

"Men can have only one thought in their head at any one time," Susan said. "They are incapable of comprehending binomials."

So they set up something at the Old Same Place Bar, knowing that L. and S. were cute as the dickens and pour on a little music, a little booze, why not something happen?

On that night Denby was watching the lead guitarist to figure out the hybrid picking style on his solid body Fender, three humbuckers, to an 80 watt Marshall Stax and pedals on the floor (that is an Fmaj shape he is doing there up to the 12th) while L. and S., cute as the dickens, were bopping along merrily getting drunk. Somehow someway they all wound up taking pictures of each other with their iPhones and L. wound up sitting in Denby's lap and when she got up to go to the Ladies he noted, purely objectively, what a nice bumper there. One of the group returned from the bar with an armload of tequila shots.

Then he got up to go unload his share of beer and he saw out the window Frankie Krick, one of the toughs from The Angry Elf Gang. Frankie had held him down a while ago and had rearranged a couple ribs out of pure venomous spite.

All the members of the Angry Elf Gang were like that. They wanted to put the fear into you so that you lived with it for the rest of your life, so they could use it again.

Denby ducked into the mensroom as the set break arrived and in the stall took out his phone to see himself there with the two beautiful women and him looking like he was, a 56 year old Nevermuch, looking a bit paunchy and unsure of where to put his hands, and his heart sank.

He was old enough to be their father. He turned of the phone, thinking that this all would not end well. It never ended well. As he came out of there he saw to his right the figure of S. crouched hugging her knees on the flagstones in front of the faux fireplace. He had suffered a crush on S. a while back in the most childish way, but had done nothing about it until she went away. He shouldered his way to the front and out the front door and the streetfront where he chatted with one of the musicians briefly, spouting inanities and realizing he was all wrong that night, all off kilter, making crazy connections. Abruptly he said good night and crossed the street to turn left, and as he passed a lighted storefront window he heard a woman cursing softly under her breath while looking at the pink and red marketing display for the next unofficial "holiday."

"I HATE V-day!" she said.

"Me too," Denby said.

The woman turned to stare at him from under sharp black bangs.

"Its BS," Denby said. "Try the Michelinas Schema."

An eyebrow rose underneath the bangs. "Michelinas?"

"Stock up on Michelinas frozen. A buck per entree. And Netflix. No going out, even to the grocery, until the 15th. And practice cheerfulness. Easier to explain."

"Sounds like a plan," the girl said thoughtfully. "That way nobody gets hurt."

"Quirkyalone?"

"Yep. How could you tell?"

Denby motioned at the storefront window with its candy hearts and cupids. "Me too."

"I gotta go. But thanks, bro."

"No prob. Shake?" he held out his hand.

"Shake," she said and did. "See ya."

And the two people parted and went their separate ways. As Denby walked he whistled a bluegrass tune, The Dotted Line, by Sara Watkins.

I've got a story
The dotted line
We both got sins
That's nothing special
Aint that fine, aint that fine

You've got a story
The dotted line
We both got sins
That's nothing special
Aint that fine, aint that fine

We both lived long enough
to know a friend's worth taking care of
We both been pushed down in the mud
And know that it feels better standing up

Meanwhile, from behind the bar Suzie the bartender observed all that happened and the puzzled group with the tequila shots wondering where the galoot with the hat had gotten off to. He had just vanished like a ghost. O well. He was kinda stodgy anyway.

Suzie handled the rush and the band returned to play. Towards the end she found time to return to her anthropology book to read about the Bonobo. "The Bonobo are a cheery group and remain unfailingly upbeat in the midst of adversity, recovering quickly from disappointment to habitual cheerfulness, even when entirely alone in the big forest. . . ".

Its a dark night on the Island that knows how to keep its secrets, but behind the bar of the Old Same Place sits one bartender still pondering Life's Persistent Questions. Suzie Maldonado.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown in the upcoming year ahead.

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

 

JANUARY 12, 2014

SAIL AWAY COME SAIL AWAY

This meditative shot is of Babylon's skyline seen from Sausalito and was taken by Tammy.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

Now that the new year has lifted anchor and is heading now for the Shoals of Wretched Circumstance and the the rocks of Corrupted Endeavor, we see already some corporations behaving like bad citizens of the Commonweal. Got word from an insider that Staples is cutting hours of part-time employees so as to skip around new laws for mandatory employer-provided healthcare.

Pretty obvious that Staples is looking to put a bullet in the back of the Healthcare Reform Act, sometimes called "Obamacare" . It is also obvious that Staples has already been hiring people at part-time hours for ages now so as to skirt just that. Which, come to think of it, is precisely what "Obamacare" is supposed to cure - a legion of working poor who remained uninsured.

Instead of behaving properly, management at Staples -- not exactly a 25 employee mom-and-pop operation -- has ordered that part- time hours be cut from existing staff and the slack taken up by hiring even more part timers.

Informant has been hired at 30-35 hours per week, and all of us know what that means -- she got paid for 35 hours but really put in 42, with about 7 per "off the clock".

U-Line, CDW, Office Depot and Office Max remain there to serve your office supply needs....

BART sends us mixed news. Most of you know by now that the various labor contracts have been voted and approved and there will be no strike.

Yay!

The AC Transit Board of Directors unanimously approved a new labor agreement with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, endorsing a three-year deal that gives the agency’s 1,625 bus operators and mechanics a 9.5 percent wage increase.

The agreement comes after nine months of “intense but cordial” negotiations between the union and AC Transit management that included a stunning and ominous threat of a work stoppage that never happened.

“I think the process was a very good one,” said AC Transit Board President Greg Harper, noting that the agency still has a “huge problem” in trying to maintain an “unsustainable” employee pension plan. Still, he said, “this is a good contract and I think we have accomplished a great deal. Both sides worked hard to make this happen.”

Under terms of the agreement, the 9.5 percent salary increase will be phased in over the life of the three-year contract. In addition, for the first time, ATU employees will also make contributions toward their health care costs with a flat monthly contribution of $120.00 per employee during the life of the contract.

Last month, ATU members also approved the labor agreement by a vote of 567 to 465, heading off a strike that was twice averted—once by reaching a tentative labor agreement and then a second time by a cooling off period imposed by Governor Jerry Brown.

A walkout by operators would have halted AC Transit bus service for 197,000 daily riders who depend on buses for transportation throughout the East Bay and to the Peninsula and San Francisco.

Ah, but we have this from Mission Control: "There will be a $0.50 daily parking fee increase at many stations in the month of January, 2014. All revenue generated from these new fees will be placed into a special account only to be used for programs for improved station access, including shuttle and feeder service to stations, and much needed station rehabilitation, and modernization."

Closer to home we note the pace of 5150 Psychiatric Detentions remains hovering around seven per week with last week clocking in an astounding five detentions in one day.

One dog bite and one indecent exposure added to Mayberry's crimeblotter, plus a rash of auto burgleries. No, people, stashing your laptop under the seat will not work.

Finally the always entertaining Letters to the Editor indicate concerns about just how 40,000 gallons of fuel is going to get to the planned WETA ferry terminal -- as in over city streets in front of your house?

Another person begs us to not "forget the seals" as in the harbor seals that congregate now in the area planned for that facility.

Another curmudgeon rails against those scofflaw bicyclists, bemoaning the fact that he cannot pilot his SUV over sidewalks and run stop signs with impugnity as they seem to do.

It is good that Democracy runs at such a slow pace -- otherwise we would be making mistakes at twice the speed.

WHAT'S GOING ON

The burgeoning art scene in the East Bay continues to boil with activity. Photo lets us know that Enrique de la Uz opens his socially conscious exhibit CUBA ZAFRA January 16 with a Preview Reception: Thursday, January 16, 6:00 - 8:00 followed by the major shindig Reception: Saturday, February 1, 2:00 - 4:00, featuring a talk by Curator Charles Anselmo at 3:00

Enrique de la Uz started working as a photojournalist with other young photographers and writers in the 1960s. They portrayed the man in the street, specific to the way that they perceived his life. A photograph was never a document, but at the very least a personal statement, an opinion.

The work of de la Uz is devoted to the expression of fundamental ideas through others, through the social landscape. He engages the present, past, and future of every one of us through the medium of photography.

Photo is at 473 25th Street in Oaktown.

Autobody on Park Street continues to push the boundaries with all kinds of interesting stuff. This time around we have a performance piece "Playing My Hand" , a solo show, by Rachel LePell, 30-year veteran of theater, nationally awarded playwright, Bay Area freelance director and writer, Chabot College Theater Arts lead faculty, being performed this month. Premiered at The Marsh in San Francisco in July 2013, this production of "Playing My Hand" is the third evolution of this new play, still in development.

Call 510.865.2608 for info and tickets on the shows slated for January 24,25 and 26, 2014.

Autobody also has a gallery located in Hayward and those people also are doing amazing stuff. Their press release states,
2014 will mark the 25th year of the Annual Children's Book Illustrators Exhibit held at the Sun Gallery, Hayward.

  • WHERE: The Sun Gallery, Hayward Area Forum for the Arts, 1015 E Street, Hayward, CA 94549
  • WHEN: February 7th 0 April 7th, 2014, Reception for the Artists and Book Signing: March 16th, 1:00pm - 4:00pm
  • WHAT: 'Zine making workshop for kids of all ages
  • CONTACT: For more information and images please call: Jacqueline Cooper, Artistic Director 510.865.2608
    jacqueline@autobodyfineart.com, www.sungallery.org


Gabriele Bungardt has announced a triple slam of exhibitions of her work, including Spritzers featuring 11 paintings from the 'American Working Man' series. January 4 to February 20, Spritzers Cafe and Gallery, 734 Central Ave., Alameda. Open Monday through Friday 6AM to 5PM; Saturday and Sunday 6AM to 6PM.

She also will be exhibiting at Expressions Gallery in Berkeley January 25 to April 18 with a Reception: Saturday, January 25, 6PM to 8PM. More information at expressionsgallery.org.

Also ProArts Gallery in Oaktown has accepted two paintings from her "City Live" series. Reception: First Friday, February 7, 6PM to 8PM. More information at proartsgallery.org

Vessel, always the venue for fascinating exhibits in an extraordinary setting on 25th in Oaktown announces "Pareidolia: New Works" by Donald Fortescue.

  • OPENS January 16, 6:30-8PM, Artist Reception.
  • EXHIBITS January 16 - February 22, 2014.
  • ARTIST TALK February 8, 2-3:30PM. Oakland Art Murmur Celebration on February 7, 6-9PM - Open to the Public.
  • WHERE: Vessel Gallery, 471 25th Street, Oakland, CA 94612,
  • CONTACT: 510 893 8800.

"Pareidolia” is the psychological phenomenon whereby a vague or random stimulus (often an image or sound) is perceived as significant or having recognizable form - classical examples being seeing the “man” in the moon, the Shroud of Turin, and the “face” in the Cydonia region of Mars.

The ever tasteful and sensually evocative SLATE lets us know Elise Morris: Paintings; Helen Dannelly: Sculpture ends January 25.

Upcoming there in the 25th Street barn we see Michelle Knox: Perceptions - an immersive glass sculpture installation
January 30–March 8. Opening Reception : Friday Feb 7th, 5–6pm, followed by Oakland Art Murmur 6–9pm

Don't see much happening in the way of concert news, save that Willie Nelson will be at the Greek with the Drive by Truckers, unfortunately without Jason Isbell, but still a show worth capturing from beginning to end. That one is slated for early Spring. Willie has impressed us with a recent repetoire that has forayed beyond the narrow limits of defined Country, but we bet the old outlaw still wears his guns on the outside of his pants for all the world to see.

NOTHING CHANGES ON NEW YEARS DAY

So anyway, Wally's son Joshua is still holed up in the sanctuary of the Greek Orthodox church up on the hill. Mr. Spline, the CIA undercover operative assigned to keep tabs on the man who blew the whistle on the illegal wiretapping of mayor's office phones in the Bay Area and the controversial practice of "bagel boarding", which featured forcefeeding terrier suspects with schmier laced with smoked oysters and ham (oy gevalt!), uncovered the plan to spirit Joshua away to a safe haven country via the secret network of underground Mormon tunnels and so thwarted our hero's escape by stationing a platoon of Marines at the Exits of Moroni.

Now that the Hollardays are done for a while, with no more religiousity to impinge on anyone having a good time until the Vernal Equinox, all the pastors and ministers have been having a good time socializing with one another. Even Pastor Nance Haughtboy of the First Methodist Church has been dropping in for these informal gatherings in the playroom of the Old Same Place Bar where they play boardgames, snooker, and out back, mumbly peg (so as to test the solidity of faith). The Hari Krishnas came and sang and Reverend Jesse Washington of the Second Baptist Church played the piano, which he had learned during his days as an unrepenetant sinner in houses of ill-repute, but now that he was saved, it was all good.

Newly joined to them was Reverend Michael Hursey of the Church of Truffles, who clad entirely in white robes with Sister Tremors brought in a box of messy powdered chocolates.

ArchBishop Mitty brought in some Everett and Jones BBQ and Reverend Leroi Howler brought in buckets of fried chicken, which caused all of them to praise god for the bounty. Naturally, Reverend Rev. Jason Arrabiata, CFSM, brought buckets of spaghetti and meat sauce and there was all sorts of praying and eating and praise and a fine ecclesiastical time was had by all.

The only group which did not show up were La Luz del Mundo de Occupado Parking Space, for those self-appointed aspostles did not mix well with others and were fond of holding not one, not two, but three services lasting each about three hours per day, seven days a week, and so the apostles of LLDMDOPS were sore fatigued from preaching day in and day ou,t and from their competition with the Non Compos Mentis chapter of the National Association of the Directionally Challenged and Traffic Enfeebled.

Indeed Floyd was back in town for the Biannual Meeting Series, which typically spread itself out over the course of two weeks as it was extremely difficult to get all attendees in any one spot at any one particularly arranged time.

Once again the theme for the whitepaper presetation was the arcane art of the Stealth Turn, a maneuver that seeks to employ the turn signals in ever more creative ways.

Many claim that NorCal drivers are the worst in the world. That is not true, for that distinction has been held for nearly half a century by the Italians who live in and around the vicinity of Milano, where the fine art of driving backwards on the wrong side of the road has been passed on from father to son, mother to daughter, for several generations.

Nevertheless, we do practice.

There might be some collusion there between Floyd's group and at least one of the religious groups for wherever the Directionally challenged go in an automobile, there is always heard a great deal of calling of, "O my god! Save us!"

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown in the upcoming year ahead.

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

January 5, 2014

EXCELLENT BIRDS

This time of year the Eastern ramparts of the Sierra stand dark and forbidding with cold granite slabs pounded by cold ice rain or snow. The approaches are iffy in reliability due to the ferocious blizzards that can seal off passes for days at a time. Hence the area tends to become infrequently visited save for the ski resorts, Tahoe where the crowds clog the resorts and the chi chi chalets. Further down, where the mountains get serious around the Pinnacles and Crowley Lake, the land remains desolate, pristine, beautifully untenanted.

Which is just fine for Islanders Mike and Agnes, both of whom possess serious woodcraft skills. Mike was a card-carrying pulaski wielder on the slopes of fire back in the day and Agnes was a Park Ranger. Hence their holiday pics tend to be like this one taken by Agnes.

WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS

Now that 2013 is finally finished for good, we hope that you liked what was coming to you this past Xmas. We are off to a new start with that year's 51 issues split into two sites and tucked away in the Archives. If you want to relive that special moment or recall the news go the the back issues section.

We will be tidying up the Stories section to clear space on the server and generally sprucing up the layout.

Never fear - the obnoxious "floating radio" will not return.

The annual Island Life Holiday CD is back. It's ready and in the can, with the proviso that we get the Island Hebephrenic Chorus together long enough and on their meds to perform Deck the Halls. Otherwise we will have to make do with the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum group Effexor.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ

The venues were packed with unknown fresh talent this Hollarday Season, with extraordinarily little in the way of starpower driving the concerts. We suspect sticker-shock was responsible for much of the stay-home behavior. The NSSN event cost easily over $200 for two people when you factor in the exhorbitant parking fee, surcharges, snacks and drinks, etc.

General word had it that people with incomes to allow it fled the Bay Area in droves for places lacking electrical sockets and LED advertising boards. Mexico, Arizona, even France, according to one reporter. All to escape the "buy now and save" barrage that swelled to a crescendo even as retailers across the country reported sale figures so dismal, they were all comparing the Black Friday results to the wretched year of 2008 the middle of the Great Recession.

Much of the content in the weeklies and in the EBX touch on the state of retail outlets. One article ("Bars, restaurants squeezing out retail", Angela Woodall) bemoaned the loss of long-time retail stores in Oakland, which is seeing a 5% vacancy rate for commercial space in the desireable Tgraph and Broadway corridor between 16th and 27th.

On the upside a front page item hopefully states that the City's sales tax revenue went up last quarter by 5%. So we must be doing something right even though there are prominent vacancies in all locations which reported higher sales tax figures.

Ironically, financial planners are forcasting a swell of escapees from San Francisco's incredibly high rents which are hammering businesses and slowing the process of recovery from the Recession.

Also very good news comes from the 187 report in Oaktown: "Oakland sees big drop in homicides."

The toll of the slain has dropped to 91 in 2013 from 131 recorded in 2012. Of this number 88 were classified as murder, with 3 deaths attributed to "justifiable homicide", generally involving police use of deadly force.

All regional cities in the ABAG area that encompasses five counties reported drops in homicide reports.. San Francisco's tally fell from 69 to 48 for 2013.

Various factors for this improvement are listed, with obvious emphasis placed where agencies want increased funding for projects. A clear standout was the dismantling of two violent gangs due to the results of long term investigations. Another seems to be a main function of the bad economy. There just is not the same amount of money to be earned easily by dealing drugs and robbing people who have no cash, so many criminals have moved to softer targets such as identity theft. This comes from self reports of street criminals convicted of shooting or murder.

Ironically, hard times have put a damper on the kinds of activity that led to violence.

Remember a couple issues back when we warned property owners to take care of seemingly insignificant electrical issues because of fire hazard? Front page Sun article mentions two substantial fires, with the second fire's cause clearly stated as "electrical in origin".

Once again, get rid of that old two-wire and knob construction. It was fine back in the day when it did not matter when poles reversed polarity, but not today. Some of the houses on this island have subpanels that predate the implementation of TV sets as a popular form of entertainment. Let alone microwaves, computers and printers, Ipods, multiple chargers for phones, tablets, cameras, toys, internet devices, grounded COAX, etc.

Talk about a new ferry facility down near the Hornet has reached the level of projected start dates of this summer for dredging and demolition of some existing structures. The facility will service the WETA ferry boats and will also include an extension of the scenic Bay Trail.

The Navy League, one of the last holdover reminders of the big Navy presence here, will be holding its 4th annual crab feed on Saturday, 1/11/14. The event is a fundraiser to support the sea services of Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, and the Sea Cadets. Call 749-9175 for info.

COLD RAIN AND SNOW

So anyway, the new year rolled past with only a minor smidgen of hooliganism. The pavement in front of the house down the block was littered with streamers, spent Black Cats, fizzled fizzlers, and sparklers which had lost their luster, indicating somebody stayed up late, but so many people had left town the homeboys could hardly muster a decent barrage of AK-47 from the top balconies in Oaktown. In fact it sounded more like a salute to someone who had passed on than a joyous celebration.

This year is slow ramping up newswise, largely because of two factors: most of the country beyond the Great Divide is freezing its collective buns off with minus zero temperatures and truckloads of snow hammering just about every service, every business, every facility in every state. Secondly, as pundits have indicated sagaciously, nobody has any money. Well, not exactly true, in that anyone who can afford to look at the Stock Market has beaucoups cash. But there are not a lot of those.

Even los migras are packing up to leave, seeing that the American Dream of work hard to improve your standing and yourself is dead.

Yes friends, once again it is Mourning in America.

As for the Island, change always comes slowly. Now is the time of post-event, of afterglow from the Hollardays. No more furious running around to find last-minute gifts, no more frantic driving, no more standing in lines with hundreds of other people snagging those remaining things for the kitchen to serve drop-ins, visitors from out-of-town, Company. The holiday occured midweek but for many, instead of taking the entire thing off, it was just a brief hiatus as the budget does not allow taking time off. There were too many chores to accomplish.

Pedro Almeida is already out on his boat taking crab during the height of the season. Marsha and Tipitina rode the ferry in to the City where no one can afford to live anymore to report to their McJobs. Suan worked through the Hollarday, as supposedly convivial times that feature the mask of assumed happiness become major draws for places like the Crazy Horse Saloon, with its private booths and pole dancers.

Veriflo enjoys the benefits of a strong union, so the factory remained shuttered, save for exempt employees and a few earning overtime, leaving Martini and Pahrump at loose ends.

Little Adam stayed home, as the schools had shut down, so the group of them went out to the Strand to pitch pebbles and walk out on the mudflats under the roiling grey sky of the New Year.

Temperatures were not frigid enough to make people want to move back to New Jersey or Bear Lake, but they remained at the chill level that sapped the heat out of everything, given enough time.

Out there with the seagulls calling their signals to each other and the tide way out, leaving bare the broad shelf of packed sand, they looked across the gelid aqua-green Bay to the City that once promised so much and now has become so average by way of greed.

Javier, Jose, Martini, Sarah and Pahrump stood there with their hands deep in their coat pockets watching Adam run on the beach with the dogs Bonkers and Wickiwup and Johnny Cash. Arthur, of the Soul Brothers Upholstery Shop, had joined them.

Martini was in an emo state of being since an aunt of his, the last of his father's house in Antioch, had died in mid December. He knew her and he had not known her as family, the way it always develops in America. There had been promises of a "great wish" and the promises withdrawn. There had been threats and supplications and complexity. Real and imagined slights. The usual family affair sort of business. Now, all disputation had ended, leaving just the ashes.

"Things have been bad for so long," Martini said. "Ever since the Ronny Raygun. And getting worse."

"Don't see much difference in my direction," Pahrump said. "White men still own Reno."

"Yo." Arthur said, in support of the sentiment.

"My question," Martini said. "Is what next."

The sun was going down beyond the distant undulations of Babylon and lights in the ticky-tacky boxes on the hillsides began building the ropes of luminescent pearls as the pale horizon flushed with bright grenadine and blue anisette striped with creme du menthe colors, indicating the Sun was hellbent on a sweet bender after work.
Good to think that even Mssr. Soleil can kick back with his feet up and enjoy some time off, perhaps starting with a bit of Galliano.

Over at the Church of La Luz de Mundo de Occupado Parking Space where the Minister held forth at length on how to dominate parking spaces for blocks by means of stealth, guile and forcefulness, the congregation was going through ecstatic fits of chanting in tongues, writhing on the floor and doing the busline hokey pokey.

"If they ask you what are we doing here with our three services from five in the morning until ten o'clock at night seven days a week (including holidays) tell them you are 'making something'. Yes!"

"Say it brother!"

"Because we are building the New Jerusalem on earth and in Heaven. Each day we are adding bricks and mortar of Faith for the brand new buildings to house the Faithful unto the Lawrd! We are building a Metropolis of the Saints!"

"O sweet Jaysus! O hallalujia! Hallallujia!"

"And everybody knows a Metropolis needs parking spaces. So go out and seize them brothers and sisters! Other churches meet just for a miserly one hour on one day for the week. We enjoy 20 hours a day seven days a week and we need that parking more than the unwashed heathen who live around here. We come from far distant Antioch and Hercules and Pittsburg and Dublin and we are on a mission to wrest the parking spaces of this world from the debbil! For as all of us know, an idle space is debbil space! So build brothers and sisters! Build! Build! Build! our Heavenly Metropolis!"

"O hallalujia! Praise Gawd!"

Denby, listening to this from outside the hall shook his head. Those damned Developers have gotten into everything such that not even your spirituality was safe from their mantra. And so he walked on from that busy place of light and noise, thinking, "Religion sure has gotten wierd these days".

As he passed the Unitarian Church, he saw Reverend Irene Freethought taking down the holiday lights, which of course featured pan religion symbols, including but not exclusive to the lotus blossom, star of David, menorah, crescent of Islam, hari krishna verses, Sheela na Gig, Krampus, glowing crosses with diagonal stripes, horizontal stripes, no stripes, hooks to recall sun worship, and scads of others.

She was in a precarious position on the footstool, which had legs that sank into the soft sod, nearly causing an ecclesiastical contretemps. Denby stepped forward to assist with thanks, as he stood several inches taller than the Reverend.

Together, the apostate and the preacher labored to remove the seasonal hangings draped along the gutters and the announcement board. Denby did this because that is the way he is and the way things used to be, people stepped in spontaneously to help out each other, knowing life here on earth is fraught with difficulty and danger, and good deeds rewarded themselves. Back in the day of Alta California.

When it was just about done, Reverend Freethought invited Denby in for tea or brandy.

"Don't mind if I do," Denby said.

It was late in the evening by the time Denby left after talking about music and politics and island racoons for several hours. Denby had not thought a minister could have so much knowledge about the world and be so interesting and . . . the interesting way the kitchen light touched her face set with blue eyes and framed by its head of short, practical hair. He thought he might drop in for a visit again some time. A good way to start the year.

Heading out through the Golden Gate on his crab boat, El Borracho Perdido, Pedro switched on his radio to listen to his favorite variety show hosted by the televangelist Pastor Rotschue. This week the Lutheran minister was broadcasting from Nourse Theatre in San Francisco and he had a lovely woman on who sang folk and bluegrass. Well, it was radio, and the woman sounded like she was lovely. Some day he would have to scrape together the dinero and take Mrs. Almeida over there to see the man in person.

The air smelled fresh, the seas were relatively calm and the woman's voice lilted out of the bright cabin over the dark chop with an old song by the Everly Brothers.

Each time we meet love
I find complete love
Without your sweet love what would life be

So never leave me lonely
Tell me you love me only
And that you'll always let it be me

A good way to start the year.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown in the upcoming year ahead.

 

DECEMBER 29, 2013

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL

For the final images of 2013 we leave you folks with this somewhat wistful fellow standing all by himself on a postage-stamp lawn here on the island, wishing everyone a happier and better new year.

NEW TIMES! NEW TIMES! NEW NEW NEW TIMES!

Its been a slow news week with the kids out of school, all the public employees attending holiday functions instead of screwing us up some more. and loads upon loads of retrospectives. The Planning Board did sit down to talk about plans for the 22 acre Jean Sweeny Open Space Park. Most worrisome comment made was by PB President David Burton who said, "This is a gigantic parcel of land and there is a wide variety of things that could happen here."

Well you know you all could just leave it alone. But no. Something will just have to be constructed.

In other news fellow blogger Lauren Do made some ascerbic comments about Tony Dasog heavily using Twitter during a Council Meeting in Silly Hall. Ms. Do found it kind of wierd that a councilperson would do that during a meeting, indicating that probably paying attention would be a better use of the paid public employee's time. Interestingly Daysog responded in a manner that clearly missed every salient point made by blogger Do in classic politico fashion by recognizing an issue and then addressing a number of points which had nothing to do with it, inexplicably citing the Sunshine Ordinance before dismissing it as irrelevant.

It is clear why comedy clubs do not fare well in this down - as Mr. Daysog indicated, attendance to any council meeting is free and available to all.

In the police blotter we note a whopping 10 persons 5150'ed, or "detained for psychiatric observation", which usually means being sent to John George for 72 hour hold. Five of those were reported on Friday alone.

As expected we see a plethora of burglaries and grand theft and the usual raft of public drunks. Two cases of dog and cat bites apiece. Could be worse.

Nice pics of the defunct Neptune Beach in its heyday on pages 2 and 3 of the Sun, BTW.

New Year's means that this will be another broken week for some people getting a day off Wednesday only to return to Scrooge and Marley for the painful days after.

New Year's also means a return to the Avoid the 21 cash incentive program -- excuse me, we mean the concentrated law enforcement initiative -- to snag drunk drivers. On the Island virtually every restaurant and venue is doing something, including the gala at the Hornet. Josh Kornbluth will be gracing Rhythmix this year in stiff competition to Silly Hall.

Our readership as shrunk so we cannot afford to lose any of you; so do not drink and drive. We want to hear from you in the New Yeark.

SEE YOU IN THE CELTIC NEW YEAR

So anyway we come now to the final days of the year 2013, which has seen such political acrimony and hardball style that the Commonweal got injured in all the fracas. The Body Politic had taken significant beatings before this, and the Constitution stands now in need of a few stitches and some transfusion to replace all the blood loss. The Nation shall survive, but rehab shall likely be a slow and painful process. Fortunately now is the case that no one can be denied health care because of a previous condition.

With the schools closed Ms. Morales (now Mrs. Sanchez) has been spending her time the way most schoolteachers do on their days off - writing up new lesson plans, mending torn textbook covers, purchasing supplies the District fails to provide, and catching up with former pupils of hers at Longfellow and Encinal.

She has seen a number of generations come and go, from Edison (Go Otters!) to Longfellow and the Home of the Jets high school ("When you're a Jet, You're a Jet all the way") so there is a fair amount of catching up to do. The troubled Karen has managed to stay in college after finding a group of goth kids just like her, and so one potential human arc remained on her trajectory up and out of the small town corrosion that nearly destroyed her.

Some others -- not so lucky. As a teacher you can never take full credit for the failures or the successes - you do your best to be there for them. Her friend Sharon, the Crisis Nurse Practitioner at the Creek Psychiatric Crisis Center sometimes would burst into tears on the phone, saying, "I lost him! I lost him" about some casualty of the 8.5 million metropolis that embraced, sometimes roughly, the tiny little Island city. But then she worked over in Oaktown, where life is a waiting game for many.

Because the Island has no real mental health services she saw many neighbors on the brink drop in there.

"I hate this place!" Sharon says angrily. "Why did they not case manage him when I asked? I should move away tomorrow!"

"Well, you would like St. Paul," said Ms. Morales, who had visited only one other place in the United States other than the Bay Area since coming to this country from the Phillipines.

"O heck no. Too cold in the winter! I would rather go south. San Luis Obispo maybe."

"We would miss you," Ms. Morales said. She knew that Sharon would never move. The sick little island, as she called it, needed her too much.

On the streets of the island, Officer O'Madhauen prowled in his cruiser, looking for the stray crosswalk scofflaw, the speeder, the stoplight shuffler. There had been a rash of burglaries on the Island, but sooner or latter, they'll run a red light and then! He'll have 'em!

In the Almeida household, Pedro is enjoying a couple days off from hauling crab, puttering about the house, repairing the chicken coop, resealing the toilets, and fixing the wretched wiring by running number 10 ground wire down and out to the rod, trying to undo years of lousy two-wire knob and tube that reversed polarity about as often as regulars to one of those fancy dives where the men dress as women.

In other matters he got underfoot and in the way of Mrs. Almeida who was heartily glad the Hollardays were coming soon to an end before she could get pregnant again.

At Marlene and Andre's household on Shoreline, all sixteen souls who called that place home due to the obscene rental situation had been living cheek by jowel during the cold snap when normally the pressure would have eased by folks sleeping on the beach or at the Shelter. As the night extended itself langorously with a purring stretch, the ragged and battered Xmas tree glimmered in its washtub. Deep into the night, as snores and sleeping rustles filled the cottage, a small marsupial snout emerged from the hole in its trunk, followed by a bulbous form that lumbered quietly across the bodies wrapped in sleeping bags, over the coffee table that housed Occasional Quentin and prowled along the floorboards looking for an escape from the madness without success. The opossum sat and wept quietly when no egress was to be found, before it grabbed a macaroon someone had hung from the tree and there sat on its haunches to eat it as a sliver of moon watched through the window.

The animal then crawled back into the washtub and into its hole and curled up there to sleep with the others of that dysfunctional family household.

In the Old Same Place, Padriac and Dawn and Suzie handled the Hollarday business efficiently and with success while Denby plunked on his guitar in the corner. Suzie observed the rituals, the lines, the dances and the happy unifications that departed the bar entangled arm in arm with equanimity before opening late into the evening her anthropology text. "The Bonobo forgo the tedious courtship rituals found in other tribal groups, preferring to simply state the preference or offer, which is usually accepted with alacrity as they enjoy mating at any time of day and any season for procreation or simply for the sheer joy . . .".

As for Suzie, the jewel yet undiscovered, the Hollardays consisted of visits with friends and a single, small, roasted turkey. Per Island Life tradition.

An expletive broke into her thoughts as the door opened to let out a happy couple. The expletive came from a blonde with crooked lipstick at the bar, who said, "Lost him! Nearly had that guy and then that Valerie! Such a bitch! Gimmee a gimlet."

"Life's tough, girlfriend," Suzie said as she liberally overpoured and delivered the drink.

"Thanks pal."

Down by the Estuary near the Park Street bridge abutment Wootie's tame moose herd snuffled and shifted in the darkness. Eunice the moose, for once remained quiet, but deep within her she dreamed of the perfect escape, running through forests in the far north, far distant from these trammels and imagining the cries of dismay from Wootie Kanootie: "Lost her! I've Lost her!".

Eugene Gallipagus tosses in his own dreams in his bed. Of the time the Great Golden Trout appeared to him at Lake Martha. And his great dispair as the line parted with a snap. The big one that got away. Lost him.

Father Danyluk paced in his chambers before going over for the traditional annual nightcap he enjoyed with Pastor Nyquist who seems genuinely happy as Sister Profundity lets the Lutheran into the rectory annex where the fireplace is already burning bright.

It has been the habit of the two friends to have this forbidden meeting each year. As Pastor Nyquist put it, "You and I we have made our seperate peace."

Indeed the Lutheran pastor enjoyed the high quality of spirits kept by the Catholic priest in the larder and the Catholic priest had long enjoyed the superior singing skills of the Lutheran congregation as loaners during the Xmas pageant and Easter.

"You look troubled," the Lutheran said.

"Ah. The Mendoza family would not hear of any help and now Jorge has gone off to San Quentin on assault with a deadly weapon. On top of the robbery charge."

"I heard about that one," Nyquist said.

"Afraid I've lost him," said the priest.

"Can't save everyone," the Lutheran said, inviting a distracting evening of debate.

And as per usual, the social evening ended the same way each year. Both men asleep in their armchairs before the fire.

The Editor bid everyone a good night and a happy new year as the place closed up for the final issue of the year. The Editor stood before the window watching the granddaddy racoon run back and forth in the yard, cigar firmly in place, hands clasped behind his back like Admiral Horatio.

He never knew exactly how to wrap things up. Everything, including Life, seemed always so tentative, subject to last minute revisions. A lot of issues last year had turned out wretchedly bad. But cannot dwell on that. The past year had been packed with many, many disappointments. Old friends had died and others had gotten married. Many things had not gone well. An old friend had come to him complaining about all the evil in the world, all the assholes. She, an otherwise pacific person, said she wanted to line them all up against a wall when the spirit moved her. See them fall.

And for some reason he thought about the replicant in Bladerunner who tried to prolong his life, such as it was, by driving a nail through his palm so as to prevent the hand from closing into a fist.

What kind of poetry is that, to imagine that death is the hand closing into a fist?

And yet as the replicant died and the fist closed, a dove escaped from his other hand. So that is the way it is -- one hand closes into a fist and becomes death; the other opens and becomes human, allows life to continue. That's always the way it is -- can't take credit for the wins or bemoan the losses. Life is tough, girlfriend. Life is being there at all.

In a little while, bottlerockets, fizzlers, M80's and all sorts of ruckus would terrify all the neighborhood dogs in bringing in the New Year. Might as well get ready for whatever comes next.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

 


 

 

 

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