ISLAND LIFE 1999
This is the archive area, containing Island Life issues published prior to December 31, 1999. No graphics appeared during these initial columns, so this page should load quickly. A computer crash coupled with a site change caused the loss of the entire year's worth of entries for 1998 and the first half of 1999.
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JUNE 26, 1999
I live on an island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, located somewhere between the Serenity Tradewinds and the Vortex of Befuddlement with an oddball collection of misfits, artists, inveterate gossips, busybodies, blue-haired ladies, stiff-necked gents, wannabe Napoleons, and some nice people too.
Periodically the ferries bring us news and provisions and take some of us to work in the Big City. We have a Mayor who also functions as the town Barber and our police chief likes to fly model airplanes in his spare time.
A local artisan, going by the name of Buford Innomminable, recently completed a fine example of lawn art with his nine-foot painting of waterfalls set before a bucket with a bunch of spray-painted bed-springs sticking out in honor of the Season We All Love and titled accordingly.
The most recent public works project, completed with great fanfare, was a large cement mixing bowl and griddle set on the island's far northern edge where the island youth could go and engage in all sorts of ramping and crashing and getting stoned and fistfights and jumping up and down to loud music and all sorts of real cool nifty things out there on the far northern edge of the island there with the wind going through about 40 knots without bothering the slightest blue-hair about the noise and the peeing in public. And everybody had a great time going out there building the place -- the kids did most of the work after all -- and the mayor gave everybody a free haircut and cut the ribbons and they all went home to have a nice sleep there in the south part of the island. Of course we have no buses to go out there so the kids who aren't allowed to drive cant get there without riding their skateboards which they are not allowed to do seeing as skateboarding is illegal everywhere on the island except at the Mixing Bowl Park, but hey, you can't have everything.
So now the kids are real bummed because they can't get to the park they just lobbied city hall for and built with their own hands.
This weekend we got the "X-games" going on in Babylon City down by the wharf 32-- that's eXtreme sports, people, not a Stripper extravaganza. And of course we got our own Pride Parades going on. There's sure to be lots of gambols and banners and outfits to die for and all sorts of interesting thingees waving in the breeze plus the ever popular Dykes on Bikes. Come on down and get some sun cause its America and who doesn't like a parade?
And that's the way it is here on the Island. See you next week.
NEXT WEEK(July 4, 1999)
JULY 4, 1999
This weekend we are all looking forward to the annual Mayor's Parade down Main Street. Given that Main runs about two-hundred fifty yards before petering out in concrete shoreline they may have to double back a couple times and head out to the bird sanctuary to make it worth the while. Given the budget we'll make do for fireworks the way we always do by climbing up on the roof to watch the displays from Ohland and Babylon City and whoever else might be tossing exploding stuff up in the air for the fun of it. The persnickety tight-cravats of Evilletown once again put out a Great Proclamation on parchment and three full-size highway signs with five-inch reflective lettering explaining how fireworks and sparklers and things that go bang and other fun stuff shall be strictly verboten within the silly limits. So those poor people will have to go up on their rooftops too on account of the Great Proclamation. But if they want they can always hop in a boat and come on over here and we'll have a great time drinking tequila and beer and having parades and waving flags and all that independence kind of fun stuff except there will be no poodle-toss this year as it seems all the critters made themselves scarce.
In other news, the local teen gang has made its mark in the world by tagging the hardware store and spray-painting Clemson Dribble's new car, thus initiating a crime-wave of some significant proportions. Mr. Bagnose, hardware store owner and upright citizen, has initiated a Personal Security Program as a result. Out of some concern for the parking-lot -- it being feared the vandals would do something unspeakable to the white lines painted on the asphalt -- Mr. Bagnose has taken to sealing off the space at night with a used cattle-gate. Of course any damn fool could climb right over the thing any time, but it's the thought that counts. It's expected the painted rascals shall soon be apprehended as the island is small and they tagged the buildings using their real names.
Thanks to Sharon, the Island's roving reporter and Punk Rocker Mom, who has indicated the presence of a Dadist Public Commentator among our citizens. Seems that a feller living on Lincoln has taken the initiative in Graffiti Art by posting helpful and mysterious signs on the side of his house. We have seen on various days the following Important Messages posted on poster paper in block letters one foot high for all the world to see:
RUTH 2:14, ISAIAH 1:34
and so forth. We feel this Joycean inscrutability is to be scrutinized and lauded, for the gentleman just might turn out to be a genius if he is not of dubious intellectual stability.
That's the way it is on the Island this July 4 weekend.
JULY 10, 1999
Melinda, of Alameda High, reports Mrs. Belinda Bagglady has taken to shopping for groceries on her chopped '57 Harley, fully equipped with sidecar. Belinda, who celebrates her 80th this month wishes no cake or stupid sing-a-longs for the celebration, but she would appreciate additions to her impressive collection of leathers. Another Island Original.
Mr. Julio Babbage-de-Castile, called "BC" by friends, has taken to mooring his boats on St. Charles, to the chagrin of his neighbors, who insist, as we live on an Island, the boats go in the water rather than on the street, taking up parking. BC, concerned about the well-known barnacle effect perhaps, enjoys taking his family for outings about the island on the weekends, towed by his trusty '79 Fairlane coupe. The boats are for sale at 4500 a piece and occupy only two parking spaces each. Plenty of room in the back for groceries and the dog and the outboard makes a great lawnmower in a pinch. Somebody PLEASE buy them soon.
This Friday ferry commuters will once again be treated to music and jollification on the rush-hour catamaran by the Rush Hour Band. If John can stay sober long enough to tune his mouth-banjo there'll be all sorts of melodies and riffs and jumping up and down from five to eight. It usually takes that long for all the members to get together after work on the poop of the Ohlone Spirit, plug in the mikes and amps and get good and toasted in the salt-sea spray wake kicked up. They got electric guitar, voice mike, four drum kit, bass, horns and if you got your mouth harp or viola, bring it on down and kick out the jams. The concert goes back and forth across the bay until the last run finishes at the Jack London Ferry Dock. Further jollification is anticipated in the bar after that.
That's the way it is on the Island. See you next week.
JULY 18, 1999
It's been an exciting week with all sorts of celebrating, jumping up and down and mad frivolity to do the Mad Hatter's shindig to shame. First off: welcome back to Lynn who has returned to the Island after her sojourns in such far-away countries as Oklahoma and Seattle and nearly getting married with all that kind of stuff, but now she's back and we got her properly drunk right off to make her feel right at home safe and sound and refuged from all those mad bombers and murderous eateries common to the middle of the country.
Secondly, congrats to Sharon for a merry 42nd birthday. Which we celebrated by getting her properly drunk right off to make her feel right at home safe and sound and all that good stuff. And the quote of the day comes from an old zen saying to the effect: "When Death comes to get me, I can only pray he finds me here still Alive."
Thirdly, welcome back to Arturo Myles Long, he of Mu Tau Pankrease, which is a sport that involves a mixture of mud wrestling, boxing, jiu jitsu, needle-point and feather dusting and god knows what else. It was felt that making Art drunk would be a generally unwise thing to do so we sent him a paperweight.
Last seen on the Mysterious Sign House on the corner:
THE INTERNET IS THE NEW DISPENSATION.
Which might mean something or it might not.
Commiserations to the Coast Guard which lost a member to drowning on a neighboring island.
Congrats to Nestor Makhno, primary member and president of the Mission Yuppie Eradication project, for having formal charges of conspiracy to treason, terrorist activities and general impudence dismissed by the SFPD. It turned out that dear Nestor was the sole member of his group, hence invalidating the conspiracy thing entirely. The SFPD kept his poster art however. The leaders of the Anti-SUV Proliferation Brigade remain at large in Babylon City, however, causing fear and trembling among the latte shops.
Noted by members of one of our Youth Gangs, the infamous Southshore Mishaps, one Msr. Suave with feather bedecked hat and velvet trousers continues to stroll Park Street in all of his inimitable manner as due a former "procurer" (although he himself uses a somewhat coarser term) and previous inhabitant of Villa Fairmont -- a noted Oakland medical institution. With a gesture of infinite disdain, he rocks back on the heels of his black boots, tilts his hat and elegantly flings a drop of sweat to hell before seizing upon any passerby, man, woman, child or dog, to assail them with the worst moral laxity. Seen frequently about the Java Beans establishment, solitaire and without the bevy of disreputable companions one associates with Crime Moguls, one can safely assume that here is one Small Napoleon who has retired. It is not known where the Public Enemy resides, but it is clear that upon looking into his eyes, one sees clearly that, here, no one is home.
Although we suffer from many of the problems of the Big Cities, including crime, youth gangs, difficult parking and incontinent dogs, the local Thin Blue Line has sworn to defend the island against any incursions by drug lords, gamblers and loose women. This they do by issuing as many moving violations as possible within any 24 hour period, for it is assumed that the criminal element cannot help but begin by starting small.
"Speeders!" spits Sgt. O'Mahdhaun. "That's how it begins. Then it's on to smoking that there wacky tabbacky."
The fact that you go over thirty-five on this tiny place, you soon wind up in the Bay in minutes helps a lot too. And of course, the ten o'clock curfew for teens.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a good week.
JULY 24, 1999
The big news this week which has been rocking the marina sloops and setting all the mast clinkers a-tinkle is the revelation of corruption and embezzlement in the high areas of public trust: i.e., the Little League Slush Fund Scandal. Appears the long-time President and Treasurer of this noble branch of local government has been dipping into the bake-sale honey pot, causing all sorts of uproar, screaming from high places, running back and forth, nervous jumping up and down and legal commotions in the courtrooms. How the mighty have fallen -- ripping off the little leaguers. It's enough to cast aspersions upon mom's apple pie and the Old Glory, which we are not allowed to freely burn and desecrate even in fun anymore.
We're a little late getting in the column this week on account of these here self-evident page revisions and, secondarily, checking out the USS Hornet which is doing a flyby in these waters. The Hornet, for those of you lax in history and other fun stuff is the aircraft carrier that went about picking up splashed astronauts after they come back from visiting other planets. It also did a fair amount of duty helping to bomb the c--p out of the Enemy during WWII, accounting for some 1900+ premature and fragmented landings by Enemy aircraft, called "splashes" to you uninitiated. This Hornet is version 2.3, the original having been mercilessly sunk early in WWII in about 16,000 feet of water, making it damn difficult to drive anywhere useful to launch planes and stuff. But this one is a real fine ship with all kinds of flight decks and catapults and computer stuff to make any gadget freak go wild and now itís a museum with rocks from the moon, which look like basic rocks from anywhere but itís the thought that counts. And there's all sorts of memorabilia on the floating museum besides, including the shot of the first three astronauts coming back and getting plopped right into isolation quarantine. And they was real happy to come back from that place where you cant get a decent beer, let alone a drink of water, only who should be the first dude to call them on the telephone but that checkered character, Richard Nixon. Poor old Buz Aldrin.
Meanwhile, back here on the Island, we got every one of them developers panties in a wad cause they want to start building a bunch of really USEFUL things on the Island like half-million dollar homes over there on the abandoned Navy base and a bunch of us got a letter together to complain. Now thatís what California needs is more expensive houses. Yeah right. Now most of us here on the Island eke out a living running concrete and plywood in our pickup trucks Over There, with maybe some fantod wonkery and a little tourist fleecing, but we donít have a whole lot of millionaires here and thatís the way we like it and we got our own version of the Anti-Yuppie Proliferation Movement here.
Now if one of them millionaires fixes the bell tower in City Hall, well, we might make an exception.
But give the west end to the high and mighty? Hell, the Housing Authority projects are out there -- those yuppies are gonna bring down the quality of life.
That's the way it is, here on the Island. Have a good week.
And bon voyage John-john and Carolyn. We'll miss you.
JULY 31, 1999
Richard Neal, a long-term Island resident set sail on the One-Way Final Voyage last week, leaving behind a legacy of Tall Tales and an assortment of healthy potted plants some fifteen years in the growing. Richard was a devoted dirt bike racer for decades, but now his armored boots stand empty in the corner. Farewell Richard.
The Island Old Folks Wine and Art Sale runs up and down Main Street Saturday and Sunday, when there will be plenty of vittles and booze to go around between the two music stages. The Boys in Blue will be there to fetch sodden revelers from the conseqences of long walks off the short pier and jolly women and men will range about in tartan shifts and sporrans armed with all sorts of medieval kinds of dirks and daggars and blades and mean nasty ugly weapons like bagpipes to keep the peace. Itís the one place you got guys who aint the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence walking around in skirts so come on down.
Saturday the Island welcomes the most Distinguished Visitor We Have Ever Had (within memory) when Buzz Aldrin comes by to look at the moon and do some celebrating and commemorating and spinning tall yarns about traveling to Really Far Off Places. At least the places Aldrin went, he didnít have to worry about unruly Natives with a cannibal flavor in their culinary specialties.
Sunday about 1k of guys and gals in shortpants are gonna run around about as fast as they can go until they poop out or win the 10k island run and there's sure to be all kinds of celebrating and jumping up and down and mebbee we can get some female soccer players to whoop it up by taking their shirts off like they do in real exotic places like the World Cup.
Speaking of taking yer shirts off: across the Bay in Babylon city, Fnord literary magazine celebrated its third annual Jello-Wrassle Fundraiser with a tub of about 100 gallons of cherry-flavored gelatin. It's unclear -- as everything visible, including camera lenses, were obscured by reddish jell-o stuff -- who "won" the title bout: either managing editor Kristina Zinnen (as Geletina the Wrestling Ballerina) or Senior Editor Suzanne Taylor (Annette Funajello). The only images that survive seem to feature the entire staff plus a bakers dozen of contributors in addition to readers wallowing in a sea of sugary goo. It seems everything fell apart during the game of Crisco Twister. Who said literature can't be fun?
Here on the Island, the sun sets on another glorious day as Nathan Potts, zigzagging his faltering way back from Jack London's First and Last Chance Saloon, rams his motorboat once again into the marina jetty while bellowing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina".
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
AUGUST 7, 1999
The latest inscrutable sign posted by the Mysterious House on the Corner reads
"LA HAYIM WATER".
The jury is out on just what this means, but everyone knows, if you go, don't drink the water.
Visitors to the state-run beach have been entertained by a 40-foot grey whale which has been collecting a bigger draw than the New York musical about pseudo artists called "Rent". The whale doesn't do much, being deader than Sunday Morning in the Purple Floozie Saloon, but there not being much to do on the Island for entertainment besides drink and spray-paint the vegetables, it don't take much. And you can still drink while watching the birds take off and land on the old gal.
We have no movie theatres on the island, there being damn little space to put a parking lot; the one drive-in was torn down in disgust when the owners found nobody wanted to pay to watch Woody Allen from their sailboats and the salt water kept shorting out the sound system speakers. Memories of fooling around in the back seat of the motorboat will be denied this generation of youngsters. In Luau of that, the O Kahlani Outrigger Club holds its pre-race Pineapple Pigroast Celebration, where there's all sorts of slack-key guitar wailing and hula-hula and drinking strange potions that got alcohol and fruit juice mixed up in them among the spectators. And there's sure to be a blessing of the boats in honor of the great god Hawanapeealot, cause all of them outriggers is sacred ships. So you don't go playing leap-frog over them or the god is gonna be pissed.
Across the Little Water to Berzerkeley, and over the Big Water in Babylon, there is more cause to celebrate the re-opening of the KPFA radio station, where the owners pulled a real fast one on everybody by taking the locks off the doors and ordering everybody back to work. Which is not what anyone expected, so now the radio station is back the way it was before the lock-out -- which the Pacifica Foundation initiated and which the Pacifica Foundation should feel really embarrassed about. So the good staff is back at work broadcasting all kinds of real different stuff you don't usually hear on the radio or see on TV, while being about as interesting as it can be.
Up in Babylon itself, Hearst has bought the Comical Newspaper, and is getting set to sell the Exasperator -- which is the only other newspaper in town. Since no one has been able to tell the difference between the two papers for about a quarter century, no one can tell what difference the buyout makes, except this is just one big piece of the City which has not been seized by either Texas or Japanese millionaires and that makes it notable.
Coming back home to the Island: the monthly meeting of the Ladies with Big Hats will host a lecture this Sunday in the Old Church by reformed and rehabilitated tagger, Jason Schmier. The subject of the talk will be "How to Tell You have a Tagging Compulsion and What to Do About it". Tea and cucumber sandwiches will be served.
AUGUST 16, 1999
The latest flap on the Island concerns the use of the concrete griddle known as the skate park, where the best minds of our generation are doing their level best to screw up the best minds of the next by instituting all sorts of prohibitions in the form of four eight by ten two color reflective glossy head-high-posted signs forbidding the riding of bicycles of any kind within the park limits. Now the skaters themselves donít mind the bikers, but it seems that once you get a parcel of land called a "park", there collect a certain kind of person that just cannot sit still until a sign with "rules and regulations" gets put up.
You know the kind.
So now the skaters, who have been forbidden to skate anywhere on the island gotta put up with the grown-ups all over again. Even though the skaters built the park in the first place. Sometimes you just can't win.
The column is coming out late today on account of the Island's only power substation blowing up in the morning, causing all kinds of ruckus and fire sirens and hella smoke. But nobody had power for a good while so the estuary filled up with boats all heading out to enjoy the first fog-free day in a while. Even Mayor Ralph put up his shingle at the barber shop and went out to get some sun.
Over in Babylon, word is that Nestor Mahkno has gotten a letter from someone calling hisself "Nestor Mahkno North". This NMN sends regards and words of support for the Yuppie Eradication Project from the well-matriculated hills of Marin County (see the July 18th column). He advises to "strike them where they live," by holding touch football games on the Marina Green and busing in habitues of the 16th Street BART station to the posh Chestnut Street eateries. It seems quite clear from this letter that Kevin Keating, who should be called, we guess, Nestor Mahkno Central, according to columnist Laurel Wellman, is head of a far-flung conspiracy the extent of which he had not previously imagined. Certainly Marin County is the last place the Enemies of the People will look for a cell of a vast Anarcho-Socialist-Leninist organization. All we can say is: Bravo, Kevin! Your comrades in Nestor Mahkno East salute you with red flags and banners a-flying! By the dead of night we will celebrate by plunging a capitalist SUV into the lagoon to the sound of pennywhistles and kazoos.
Those of us less sanguinary types will have to make do driving our beat-up old Geo's with one gone cylinder, dreaming of having maybe an extra SUV or two, disguised perhaps as a less ostentatious Toyota hatchback. As many a workboss has said, "Hell, cover the sucker with sheetrock -- they'll never notice the difference."
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
AUGUST 22, 1999
Two signs appeared this week on the side of the mysterious house on the corner -- signs of portent and exhortation. Early Friday the announcement
was followed later in the week by
Couldn't agree more with the later one; we need more civil behavior of all kinds and less of the uncivil kind.
Word has it "Dog Bites" Columnist Laurel Wellman has gone on vacation, so it appears that we will have to read Jon Carroll as a public service so you don't have to. Unfortunately we could bring ourselves to read through only one piece, wherein Jon discovers it is difficult to really dislike nudists, but once upon a time it was believed volleyball made all things socially acceptable. Nudists playing volleyball was one generation's introduction to anatomy, although Jon does not mention in what part of the country. Or what generation.
On to more refreshing matters. It appears that some scamp has been running madly about Babylon slashing tires right and left to the tune of some 300 vehicals in a night. The only clues left involved some LA gang symbols which the enterprising feller got wrong. A few days latter the same feller came over in a boat to the Island and did the service to some 30 cars here. Now 350 slashed tires is quite a number and our own Official Bay Area Insurrectionist, Nestor Mahkno North, Central and East had nothing to do with it. Who said Gen X was lacking in ambition?
Yes we had an earthquake jolt on or around the 5 point something scale. Nope, nuthin fell down. Didn't want to upstage Turkey.
Meanwhile, the fog has lifted and we got our Bay Area summer for real with temps in the triple digits. Mayor Ralph has been sunbathing down on the strand.
In the world of footlights and stage magic where life is larger than real, everyone note that "Ed's Redeeming Qualities" plays "for maybe the last reunion" at the Bottom of the Hill. The trio consisting of Dan Leone, Carrie Bradley and Jonah Winter has sung about lawn darts, fortune tellers and swiss chard for many a year, accompanied by the sounds of bongos, ukeleles and home-made bass guitars. While great bands breakup, people like Jewel continue on and on and on and on and on . . . .
Jonathan Richman, the tongue-in-cheek background musician shot by accident at the end of There's Something About Mary played a quick one at Slims on Thursday. It's not known where the hair gel went.
The latest word is that the new Everett and Jones Bar-B-Que is the new hot happening place just over the water and down the street from the Ferry Landing. Folks have been hustling over to scarf down those incendiary ribs while tastey bands place some delicious , finger-lickin blues. Now what else goes with ribs and potatoe salad?
Here on the Island, the Neighborhood Association for Approved Shrubbery meets this coming Tuesday in the Old Brown Shoe Hall. Those wishing to terrace are exhorted to attend so as to avoid "unfortunate removal circumstances," as put by President Amelia Hildegard Vopo.
That's how it is on the Island. Have a good week.
AUGUST 28, 1999
The monthly meeting of the Traffic Enfeebled and Directionally Challenged Rehab Group met on the veranda of Pataphysical Society this week. Main topic this month was "What to do about turn signals and the left turn lane." There will be repeat of the seminar at the Old North Church for those who got lost trying to find the location.
Lots of happenings this week around the Bay Area. Gillian Welch has a sold out show at the Freight and Salvage up in Berzerkeley this coming Tuesday. Gillian is damn fine, so if you all get a chance to hear the lady strum her stuff, come on down. She'll be playing with the ever-shy David Rawlings. Up on Gilman Street, the Geekfest went over, well, pretty much as the Geekfest always does. The highlight in Strangetown was, however, the Berkeley Blues Festival, with Faye Carole headlining at six on Saturday. Faye has been around a while, but time has polished the pipes on that piece of brass. She can scat that jazz or belt out a field hollar as well as the best of them.
Over in Family City, Oakland, the Chinatown festival has streets blocked off in all directions so there's all sorts of double-parking, driving the wrong way and crowded sidewalks -- nothing unusual there in Chinatown -- but plenty of dragons and music and half-nekkid guys pounding the hell out of Taiko drums went on for two days. Poodle toss was cancelled by the OPD.
Word was the Underground Railroad hip-hop fund raiser raised the roof over at Local 2850 Union Hall. The all-woman event collected cash to fight the Youth Crime Bill.
Here on the Island, there was a bit of fandango hilarity when the fog lifted briefly, but that was about it for the festivities. Kenton, famous man about town and engineer, held a bar-B-que at his newly refurbished digs. A candidate for the Poodle Toss at the Jewish New Year Celebration may have been spotted there, but pedigrees still need to be verified.
A youth gang spray-painted a business down on Lafayette recently, but as the fellows parked responsibly and drove off well within the speed-limit, the felons got clean away. "They do any speeding around here, we'll be sure to get 'em," says Officer O'Madhaun.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
SEPTEMBER 5, 1999
Last week's meeting of the Directionally Challenged has been rescheduled, due to the difficulties encountered by members trying to locate the meeting location. The topic shall remain focussed on how to use the left turn lane effectively. If members could please wear their reflectorized vests, this will help the parking attendants identify those with special needs.
The mysterious house on the corner has removed the sign placed earlier in the week, placing beneath the usual spot a flower bed spelling out the word BOAT in peonys and forget-me-nots. Now that's imagination.
Over in Oakland this weekend they are having three day blues festival, where there's sure to be all sorts of funkngrueven and jumping up and down and good food and great people. Word is, however, the poodle-toss has been cancelled. So come on down and get funky with your bad selves.
On the stage, where art is bigger than life in the minds of thespians, the latest buzz has it that the Wally Shawn series going on at the Julia Morgan Theatre in Berzerkley upstages the best Babylon City has to offer. Which isn't much lately. Can it be that Babylon is taking a back seat to its Poor Sister City Oakland in culture and happening stuff? Could the Black and White Ball be far behind? Stay tuned for developments.
The annual Polk Street Blues festival is going on in Babylon, allowing for some face-saving. But the word has it the Wally Shawn Theatre Festival presented by Last Planet at the exquisite Julia Morgan Theatre in Berzerkely is the place to be. Shawn is most known for playing bit parts in various movies, and his delightful performance as the dinner companion in My Dinner with Andre, but he is well known among the intelligentsia as an accomplished playwright as well.
In yet another loss, the Expressmess gives a fond wave of adieu to Gina Arnold, one of the few music critics who can string sentences into a cohesive paragraph. Gina heads off for Columbia University to get some kind of education and a change of venue.
No one wanted to buy the Ess Eff Exasperator, so Hearst is looking to close down the #2 paper in town, leaving the Comical the sole arbiter of taste and news in Babylon City, which is shrinking daily in prestige and power. Now, there is a staff who shall be attending the Blues festival with feeling.
In the news, cyberbabe Lara Croft has joined the war against drugs as a poster gal with all of her famous 45 caliber guns blazing. Now if we can only find some way to save her from her aunti's nefarious Corgi. Apparently, part of the computergame's subplot involves the TombRaider returning home from blasting beasts within Egyptian pyramids to enjoy English tea and bisquits. Only to be bitten by her Aunti's rabid little dog. The Lara Croft fanclub is searching for answers.
Closer to home, the Island Dog-owners Association has lobbied successfully for a restoration of the Olde Dogge Walk downtown. Scrapers and bags in hand, ladies!
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great short week!
SEPTEMBER 12, 1999
Now is the time of year when the little moppit-heads stream into institutional buildings everywhere to practice shrieking, jumping up and down and general terrorism - yep, itís the first day of school. The Island has the distinction of hosting two of the state's "underperforming" schools. As is typical for California, these schools win an award of several thousand dollars and a stern injunction to devise better strategies to actualize the improved performance of teaching methods.
Over in Babylon City, the winners of the National Poetry Slam will hold a Victory Celebration at the Transmission Theatre this Friday. The Bay Area teams swept the top three slots in Chicago last month. It should be no surprise that our homegrown poets are more raucous, loud, and in-yer-face than those Eastern pansies. Gone are the days of violet-sniffing delicate souls in poetry. To make it in the biz ya gotta wield jackhammer spondees and iambs with the power of lead-filled saps. Kudos. I think.
Last week's Art and Blues festival in Oakland ended with smashing performances by members of the Blues Caravan of All Stars. After Ms. Pennywell and the superb Sweet Liz rocked the crowd with thunderstorm versions of Proud Mary and Down Home Blues, Willie G. stepped up on his 75th birthday and commenced to blow the youngsters away, to the point of getting the hip crowd to pogo during one energetic number. That man has more energy at 75 than most folks have at twenty.
Everybody is warming up for the big blues event, the 27th annual SF Blues Festival at Fort Mason, to take place Sept. 18 and 19. Jimmy Vaughan kicks off, followed by the likes of Long John Hunter, Pinetop Perkins, and some outstanding harp players from the Muddy Waters Band. Sunday sees the John Lee Hooker roadshow blasting off a great day, followed by Dr. John, Duke Robillard, Mark Hummel and others. John Lee's roundup last time featured some extraordinary work by his daughter and long time vet Charlie Musslewhite, who succeeded that night in pulling people about to walk out the door in the Fillmore back into the room and leaving the first three rows of folks standing with mouths open all down the line by the second song. Unfortunately the poodle-toss is cancelled, but check out www.sfblues.com for details.
Over in the Berzerkely T'graph area, lunatics are still out to enforce the 1800's era law against hair wrapping, going so far as to set up a sting operation to nab a perpetrator of this art traditionally passed on from mother to daughter for some two thousand years. Oh those dastardly hair-wrappers in Berkeley. To wrap hair without a cosmetician's license in Berkeley is a crime and at least three officers have worked full time to bring these felons to justice. Some unkind individuals have suggested that the State is really after the two-thousand dollar cosmetician's license fee. The inquiring ones will note that hair wrapping is not taught in any of the State's cosmetology schools. Catch 22 anyone?
The murder rate in Berzerkely remains at an all-time high, however.
In Oakland, where if anybody tried to arrest a hair-wrapper they would have to flee for their lives, the Lake boasted a beautiful garland of pink lights as part of the Stonewall 30 celebration.
On the Island, hair-wrapping continues underground in parlors and kitchens everywhere. According to Officer O'Madhaun, "As long as they obey the speed limit and park in legal spots, there is nothing we can do." Hair wrappers, have at it; the Island welcomes you. It is not known if Mayor Ralph knows of or is skilled in the art of wrapping hair.
NOTICE: Persons still looking for the seminar for the Directionally Challenged and Traffic Enfeebled please go to the Main Library foyer for postings on the next meeting, as you have missed the September meeting by now. Please park in front and not on the lawn.
Also please note: That thing that sticks out from the steering column is called a "turn signal". Check your State Drivers Manual for rules of use.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
SEPTEMBER 19, 1999
Signs have appeared on the mysterious house on Chestnut again. This time, brown shipping paper has replaced the usual white media. The sign reads simply: BAR - AK, and a silver-toned lightening bolt extends some four feet diagonally above that. A simple message, but no less inscrutable than the others.
This weekend, the Blues Festival takes hold of Babylon city in its usual location at Fort Mason. There is sure to be all sorts of bopping and grooving and riffing going on, so come on down and grab some good bar-b-que. The poodle-toss has been cancelled this year.
We have enjoyed several attempted burglaries and mail theft on the Island, but as none of the perpetrators violated speed ordinances, there were no arrests made. Discussion continues on the violently controversial downtown dogpark. The East Bay Parks division has volunteered ten thousand smackeroos to contain the little puppy poopers, but discussions continue, as they must, about the fine details. The proposal to hang a de Kooning above the walk was nixed when it was discoverer, by accident, that post-modern images drive the chihuahuas bat-shit crazy. One can only imagine.
A couple local boys tried to rob a gal in true Island fashion with guns and the whole bit, but being true Islanders they picked somebody who didn't understand English, so the woman misunderstood all of their commands and simply started screaming at the top of her lungs. The wannabe felons ran off. Work for McDonalds, boys; it's easier and safer.
The monthly meeting of the Blue-Haired Ladies takes place in the Old Victorian on Sunday evening. There will be a special presentation by the chapter of Emily Dickenson Emulators followed by tea and cakes across the street in the She Devil Saloon.
Hurricane Floyd missed the California coast but the season for high winds is not yet over as candidates for Babylon Mayor wind up their mud-slinging campaigns. At the latest debate, which turned out to be quite an entertainingly raucous event, one major candidate was forcibly removed by the police for wielding a megaphone out of order and presenting a louder and more vociferous manner than Willy Brown. There was in addition a fair amount of cat-calling and heckling with several persons going so far as to toss the most offensive epithet imaginable in Babylon at one of the candidates: "Landlord!" It got pretty mean in other words.
The appearance of Halloween paraphernalia on the Island indicates that the Bay Area is gearing up already for its major annual holiday. Forget Rosh Hashana and Xmas: here we party in style at the end of October. Bring your handcuffs and your sexy feather boas, 'cause its gonna be celebration time.
SEPTEMBER 26, 1999
All those persons having a mind to attend the Seminar for the Traffic Enfeebled and Directionally Challenged please note that the next session begins Oct. 1 -- still in the same location. Those who got lost trying to find the first seminar will be collected one hour prior to seminar start from the Mariner Square Inn -- where some of you are still staying -- by Officer O"Madhaun, who will also bring a steering column with turn signal attachment as part of show-and-tell.
We're kinda late with this weeks column due to a flu bug, so we missed the Kronos Quartet doing Steve Reich noise on Friday in Babylon City. Rumor has it the Dressed-in-Black-Crowd was there with Warhol haircuts and plenty of attitude. Sunday saw Alice (the radio station) host Jewel and a bunch of real musicians in Golden Gate Park. While Jewel is and was regrettable, Cake probably saved the day. And with record-breaking temps in the nineties all weekend, it must have been a bash.
The nasty rumor that a sensitive guy named Owen got hosted at a stag party featuring the insta-classic motion picture titled "Pig" (not a childrens story) before going to the Mitchell Bros. Theatre, followed by a procedure in which he was regrettabley and excrutiatingly married, may be true but it was not about us. We remain in the blessed state of free and happy and have no intentions of changing that.
Alanis Morrisette and Tori Amos rocked the Concord Pavilion last Sunday. Persons in the Know say it was an event to die for, largely due to Ms. Amos and her wild at heart harpsichord.
The exodus of talent from the Bay Area continues as Jenny Sheinman picked up sticks and moved to the Big Apple, making her the fifth major jazz talent to book out East in 12 months. Hey, New Yoik, leggo my music!
We haven't had any major earthquakes, but we are having to endure the Mayoral contest over in Babylon, where His Sartorial Highness, King Willy is duking it out with The Political Consultant Guy. There's mud slinging. There's shouting. There's hyperbole. There's promises nobody believes. Its politics as usual. The latest ads throw accusations at the Political Consultant for being a political consultant and firing Dianne Feinstein after surgery. The other ads accuse Hizzoner of acting like a king and having a big mouth. Like the lullabye song goes, "It's hard to do a gig with a straight face in this town." Stay tuned for more entertainment.
On the Island, where all the beautiful people leave and go shopping elsewhere and the thieves are dumber than most, we have had a rash of attempted car stealings. Now, in Oakland a car thief takes thirty seconds to rip off a Toyota. Here on the Island, OUR thieves break into an auto repair shop and try to hot wire a camaro with the carburators removed, then give up after four hours.
In another case, one feller broke into the Presbyterian Church to cook a meal, but left his bottle of Colt 45 behind on top of the fridge. You almost kinda hope he ate well at least.
Some people say its good we all live on an Island. I am beginning to wonder what they mean by that.
That's how it is on the Island; have a great week.
OCTOBER 1, 1999
It's a grand weekend for getting out and jumping up and down with the fall weather settling in with our old foggy friends. After the record-breaking high temperatures here, we have cool and mild forcast for the annual Bridge to Bridge run, where there's 10,000 entrants signed up to walk, crawl and jog from the concrete to the sand. There's sure to be a number of human caterpillers chained together among galloping nuns, cowboys, soup cans and the inevitable jogging human jukebox among a smattering of nudists and fairies and free music for all at the endstation. So come on down. Just don't expect to cross the starting line any time soon with 10,000 people ahead of you when the gun goes off.
In Oakland, there's a benefit for the Berkeley Public Library at Mr. E's, owned by Pete Escovido. If you have to ask who's Escovido, fergeddit. The library, though, has been going through enough earthquake retrofits to fit out a mission to Mars for the past six months.
Also to do with Berkeley is the Annual Berkeley Poetry Festival on both weekend days, including a hosted reading by local favorite Louis Cuneo.
Laurie Anderson comes out of hiding to perform at Zellerbach Hall end of October with her usual assortment of invented musical instruments and impish humor. So sit up in that straight-backed chair and get ready for some High-Brow noise. This time around Laurie is doing an adaptation of Melville's Moby Dick.
Closer to home on the Island, the increasingly notorious Skate Park now has the users and originators up in arms with calls for more rules and regulations, and maybe even some fencing to go with it. The latest flap has some curmudgeons sqwawking about wearing safety equipment and the call is for docking the little tykes with $54 ticket infractions for failure to wear helmets.
That's just like some people on this Island to solve problems with yet another form of traffic ticket.
Inquiring minds want to know what the slap will be for an eight-year-old boy's failure to appear.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
OCTOBER 10, 1999
Welcome and salutations to our international visitors from Sweden and far-distant New Jersey this weekend. The Island hosted the distinguished international animal rights advocate Helena Striwing on her flyby from the First Conference on Behavioral Profiling to her keynote address in Costa Rica. Bon Voyage and many felicitations. Also visiting was Freehold, New Jersey's noted forensics expert Alice Lloyd.
The Island is distressed to learn that the Dog Bites columnist for the SF Bleakly is distressed about the high cost of living in the Bay Area, which is causing long term residents to pack up and leave their rent controlled apartments, leaving the landlords no choice but to jack the rents up even higher. Those in the know are longing for a decent, good old-fashioned earthquake. Rumbles from the Anti-SUV proliferation Project grow ominous. As pleasing the imagined image of thousands of yuppies fleeing for more stable high-ground may be, it must be remembered that earthquakes dump on poor and rich alike. Still, a modest disaster whipping some landlord's latte into a froth has some appeal for those who already happen to be living one.
Record temps in the 80's have stressed the Island's power system leading to power outages lately. More than the usual. We remain adaptable and read by lanterns.
Commiserations to the Raiders and the Giants. There's time left in the season boys.
Adios to the Navy. Fleet week ended 10-10-99 with the roar of the Blue Angels disappearing over the horizon. As of this point, no sailors have checked in pregnant after shore leave.
Diaspora Productions is performing Dermot Bolger's "Lament for Arthur Cleary" at the Phoenix II in Babylon City. Dermot, a fine poet and editor, has won a plethor of awards with the play, which concerns an Irish lad's attempt to return home after years of wandering abroad and the experience of the "internal exile."
On the Island the local players have converted the Big Old Hall into a 30's style speakeasy with gambling and gamboling and all sorts of fol-de-rol with thompson machine guns for a production of "30th Street Club".
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
OCTOBER 17, 1999
Reports came in of a massive 7.0 earthquake that rocked the Mohave desert this week, shoving trailor homes near Joshua Tree off their foundations. People in Palm Springs were heard to comment that this sort of thing is not usual for the neighborhood. And they all have swimming pools.
The big power outage that left 10k Island residents in the dark last Monday was blamed by the Bureau on a hungry rat that chewed through insulation to a main switch. Jokes about fried rat are not welcome these days over at the offices.
KFOG, those delightful minions of variety rock, are hosting a Contraptions Race at 6 Flags in Vallejo. All sorts of velociped, winged, armored and bicycle-tired human-motion machines are set to compete over a course that speeds across the parking lot, up a steep hill, nicknamed Hell Hill, across -- or through -- a lake and around a track. If you want to see adults look ridiculous, come on out.
In Babylon, the season is getting set in high gear for a slam-bang round of performances. Lucinda Williams rocks the Warfield on the 19th, followed by John Popper without Blues Traveller on the 24th at the famous Fillmore West. The SF Jazz Festival goes on all week with culminations by luminaries at the same Fillmore. Everyone is waiting for the biggie November 22nd when B.B.King wails through the Paramount with Charlie Musselwhite. Over in Berzerkely, the same day will have a rare appearance by Japanese shakuhachi flutists at St. Johns Presbyterian for the more zen inclined.
No one knows the exact date -- as per tradition -- but rumor has it the once a decade Five County Disaster Drill will again take place in the same old place -- not to be confused with the old same place. It's expected John will reprise the famous "Barbeque Man" song.
Laurel Wellman, Dog Bites Columnist and Woman About Town, continues to stir a modest tornado in the teapot with her comments on the "I'm More San Franciscan Than You" game. When they take away your city and your neighborhood, all you have left is social ostracism, so the Natives can be forgiven, a little, for their minor snobberies. The "I've been here longer than you" set of expatriates definitely get on the nerves however. Acting rude and telling people to just go away seems about as effective an answer to real estate problems as planting termites in your neighbor's backyard; not useful in the short term and self-damaging in the long. A yearning for a good-sized earthquake to clear things up a bit needs to be kept in mind by anyone who has already lived through it. There's a few acquaintances in their golden years to whom such an event would be more than terrifying. Not everybody living in the Bay Area is a crass SUV-driving yuppie. And those yuppies can afford to replace what they might lose.
In short, there's not much we can do about the rents or the real estate or tasteless neuveau riche anyway. Which is not going to stop me from daydreams about a couple F-14's coming in low over the Marin hills, scooping over the water around Alcatraz, there to let fly a couple well-primed rockets aimed for the Pier 39 support pilings before sailing up and away into gloriously blue weather skies.
That's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
OCTOBER 24, 1999
The 17th came and went with only brief mentions in the papers. Out in West Oakland, there is a broad strip, impossibly broad, between the seldom driven lanes of the Martin Luther King Avenue. On October 17, 1989 at five pm on a lazy Indian summer day that also happened to be the first day of the World Series at Candlestick Park, you could have stood on that same spot and looked up to see a double-decker freeway at the beginning of rushhour.
Five minutes later, more than a million tons of concrete smacked down from the upper deck for more than a mile and a half onto the lower deck. In the Marina district, plumes of black smoke lofted from the rubble of what five minutes before had been stately homes. At five o five, a span of the Bay Bridge between Treasure Island and Oakland dropped out completely. Along highway 101, support pilings fired six feet up through the roadbed like strange growths in the freeway. Fifty people died on the lower deck of the Cypress connector there in West Oakland where now only that eerie strip of grass remains between warehouses. If it had not been for the World Series, one of the world's most congested freeway arteries would have been jammed with thousands of automobiles and transit busses. Five Oh Five: the Loma Prieta earthquake. And the Big One is still to come.
Those of you who noticed parking lots filled with cars filled with barking dogs last week may rest assured we are not being invaded. The Island K-9 corps hosted a police dog training seminar for the region's smarter deputies. Able to snag escapees, drug smugglers, buried hostages and such like, the most noble of creation's animals has yet to acquire the ability to grab speeders and hence, does not earn the approval of Officer O'Madhaun. Oh well, what's a dog-tired dog to do but sing the Police Dog Blues.
The Bay Area's most important Holiday approaches next weekend with all sorts of parties and cavorting and jollification going on. If you are not in the Bay Area for Halloween, you have not lived at all brother.
But still, there are issues about the right to live here. Fortunately, the Mission Quality of Life Coalition (or some such thing) has originated a formal application for those imperious enough to apply for residency. Now its clear if you were not born here, then you must jump through hoops to earn the right to be kicked in the rear and pay exhorbitant rent. If you refuse to jump through hoops then you will be kicked in the rear, forced to give up all your savings and THEN be forced to leave for some place ignominious like Padusky or Washington D.C. Chicago just might be far enough away, but the jury is out. At least now we have the Dog Bites column to straighten us out after these many years of confusion as to who really belongs here; "here" being the confines of social-political San Francisco. No one really cares about who deserves to live in Oakland or the Island, since there is no There here, and if you live in Berkeley you are either a student or nuttier than a fruitcake with lots of money to boot. You gotta be nuts to live in a town that charges half a mil for a one bedroom cottage. Perhaps the Island also needs a qualification sheet to authorize residents. There are an aweful lot of yuppies running around here with SUVs and such.
The upcoming Tube retrofit just might be the ticket to drive out those cell-phone road hogs. The retrofit, designed to shield the tunnel travelers from a 7.5 shaker is supposed to waltz on for two years, leaving only the water and a bridge as chief supplier to Chevy's and the Island Barbeque. And in the event of a really Big One, it might be weeks before those nervous nellies get their cigars and fine brandies restocked. Me, I'm learning how to swim and row really well.
Down on Park Street the big ruckus is over banning cigarette and check cashing joints. Seems the locals want Park Street to be a big shopping mecca. But since the Island has a virtual 8 pm curfew for teens and refuses to support nightlife in any way and insists on store closures at every opportunity, the likelyhood is not large. You want shoppers and money flowing in? Stop shutting things down at seven pm. Enough said.
Meanwhile, Neal Young's Bridge School Benefit is coming up next week with a caravan of stars that beats the band. The Who, Eddie Vedder, Sheryl Crow, and many others will be chipping in for three days. A few tickets are available via Radio Station promotions only, as these things tend to sell out faster than small venue Rolling Stones tix.
On the Island, we beat the dog and go to sleep early. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
OCTOBER 31, 1999
This weekend began with non-stop mardi-gras-style makin' whoopee from Petaluma down to San Jose. There was not a city block without strange bird costumes, horrible vampires, gristly ghouls, and gruesome Y2K Bugs cavorting down Main Street. The party began on Thursday with James Cotton at the Bisquit and Blues venue down at the wharf, followed by Diamanda Galas howling and shrieking over three octaves at Zellerback Hall in Berzerkeley. Neil Young's annual bridge school benefit added to the general festivities with the usual list of virtually everybody who is famous in music right now. Chris Isaak performed a benefit for the Clean Oceans, which was simulcast by KFOG and the local TV stations. Day of the Dead and Samhain continued from Saturday through Sunday morning with two giant all-night raves in downtown Babylon. Laurie Anderson fulfilled expectations with her marvelous techno adaptation of Melvilles Moby Dick. All of which added up to a powerhouse music week.
The balmy weather assisted the festivities and contributed to the more than usually persistent coterie of Directionally Challenged and Traffic Enfeebled upon the roads. Up in Berzerkely, one feller left the road entirely, plowing through the front window of the Palms Cafť. A little merlot got spilled, but nobody was hurt.
The fur still flies over at the EssEff Bleakly, where Dog Bites columnist Laurel Wellman continues to print responses to the publication of the Right to Live Here Application, including a note from a former Idahoan who so hates what californians have done to his state that he has moved here to rent two apartments with the sadistic pleasure of denying living space to at least two californians.
Now, people, it must not be denied that all who are living here are, in fact, living here, and that anyone who lives here with the intention of finding a commune of hippies is crazy as bats and ought to be locked up, but that still leaves the rest of us. It has been suggested that California, or at least Northern California, secede from the Union, setup frontier checkpoints and deny admission to anyone who does not possess at least a million dollars or a verifiable source of income. Well, we already HAVE frontier checkpoints and the only thing it has done is make the people from Oregon madder than hell, because denying the importation of oranges simply is insufficient. We could always line up all the landlords and shoot them, but then who would fix the plumbing? It's a tough problem, with more and more humans born every day and civilization refusing to collapse as promised. We'll have to have another beer or two and ruminate the problem.
Meanwhile the mayoral contest continues with mud flinging aplenty over in Babylon, while closer to home, the Island has done what every great bureaucratic society has done when faced with a problem: yes, we have formed a Task Force with subsidiary Economic Committees and Resource Development Plans. The problem is this: we got a main street with no shoppers cause everybody goes over to Oakland to buy stuff. Of course, there is no parking, all the shops close on the weekends and at night promptly at five and if you turn left on the main drag you get slapped with a $250 ticket, but Hey, they wonder how come people donít shop here. Dudes, we live on an Island. Sometimes the only way to get here is by motorboat. But that shouldn't stop those folks from putting aside their money from Macy's, Sax Fifth, Bloomies and whatever over in Babylon to come and spend a few pennies here. After all, our Safeway and WalMart is just as good as theirs. And itís a nice boat ride.
Mayor Ralph has the right idea. He may be mayor today, but you donít see the man closing up that barber shop. No sir.
Thatís the way it is on the island. Have a great week.
NOVEMBER 12, 1999
The Halloween weekend so exhausted everybody that not a thing happened for at least a week. Laurie Anderson ran off with her Moby Dick fishtale and even members of the Grateful Dead jammed together incarnated as the Ratdog band. Mayor Ralph ran around wearing a huge porcine head and smelling suspiciously of Old Crow, with Councilwoman Judy flapping not far behind. He did, however, grant a pardon to the Central Basin Flasher, which goes to show you the old guy aint half bad. The Old Procurer Guy didnít dress up at all, but stood on the corner of Park and Encinal shouting the worst sort of imprecations against all the devil-worshippers and witches, until a group of Island High youth drove up in a lowered SUV and chased him down Central with baseball bats.
About the ball games, the less said, the better. Maybe next year for the PooperBowl.
The Fight Club is playing at the movies and turned out to be a pleasant, if that is the right word, surprise. Four breasts -- two of them belonging to Meatloaf, kung fu, nunchaku against a chair fu, gratuitous fisticuff violence, one headshot, one dead body, dreamlike ardvaarking, gratuitous destruction of Sting's facial arrangement. Best line of the movie goes to Brad Pitt for saying, "I blew up your apartment to help you see the truth."
Over in Oakland, while turning the corner at Seventh and Broadway on Friday Night, we heard the loud chanting of about thirty torch-bearing persons on the plaza beside the Hall of Justice. Now, the plaza is not really a happening place even in the daytime, and at nine o'clock the only people out in that neighborhood were junkies, whores and commuters. Just as we turned down towards the Ferry landing at Jack London the entire crowd of torchbearers lifted up their lights and swallowed them.
It was another "What the F---!" moment in the Bay Area.
Over on the Island, we still are missing the Bell Tower to city hall and the Island High folks are having "Columbine Drills" in which the students are supposed to duck and cover beneath their desks. Sounds awful familiar. Each generation has its terrors, but each generation acts the same in response to real threats -- stupidly and ineffectively.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
NOVEMBER 20, 1999
"Well it all started about 30 years ago on Thanksgiving. About 30 years ago on Thanksgiving it began. This song is about Alice and her Restaurant and the name of the song is called 'Alice's RestaurantÖ". For the full text of this classic, check out www.Arlo.com where you will find all sorts of real neat stuff and even a memorial to Officer Obie, who incited the whole thing by arresting a group of hippies for littering.
The Hollardays advance upon us with unstoppable momentum, a huge freight-train of advertising laden with tinsel, gaudy knick-knacks, fantods, fat bearded men in red suits, reindeers, prancing height-challenged people of the elvish persuasion, crowded stores, shrieking kids, dangerous freeways, and turkeys. Here on the Island we prepare in our indigenous manner with the Annual Thanksgiving Day Poodleshoot and Barbeque. Rules and such can be found in other weird places on this website. Even Mayor Ralph promises to come and maybe donate a portion of the kill to the Midway House for the homeless. On behalf of which he was last seen accepting a four-figure check from A Concerned Business. Old Ralph aint half bad and we apologize for reporting his condition on the festive All Hallows Day last month.
On the festive end, George Coates has come up with a real zinger this time. The usually highbrow producer of such multimedia works as "Actual Sho" and "Rare Area", which featured extensive computer hologram projections, operatic scores and exquisite voice arrangements, is putting on the long lost work by Valerie Solanas called "Up Your Ass." The Exasperator and the Comical newspapers both have refused to run adds for the decidedly off-color work that was mislaid by Andy Warhol at one point, so infuriating the author that she bought a gun and ran to his loft and shot him -- not fatally, it must be added. A film about the event has been made, but this is the first recorded production of the musical play that started it all. Solanas later wrote a letter to Warhol, asking about his health and stating that she was glad she didn't kill him, and furthermore looked forward to some collaboration in the future. It was all just business, apparently.
The Noble Thin Blue Line scored another Big Sting last week when the Island Authorities arrested the key perpetrators of a Fraud ring that had been stealing people's mail and then using their personal information to buy stuff through the mails. Officer O'Madhaun cinched the case in his inimitable manner -- through a traffic stop. It seems the bag man caught the attention of the Law by driving his bicycle without a light. So there you have it. The Island is once again safe from those reckless speeders and traffic scofflaws. A couple cars were stolen and a few more broken into last week, but as the thieves drove off at the speed-limit and failed to turn left on Park Street between the hours of three and six, no one could be apprehended.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week and drive safely.
DECEMBER 5, 1999
The Annual Thanksgiving Day Poodleshoot and Barbeque was a resounding success with over fifteen of those puppies bagged during an eventful booze-saturated day. Although the Grand Prize went to Dan Richard for a fierce fifteen pounder that put up a mean fight to the finish on the roof of the Royal Ballroom, Honorable Mentions and Awards of Valor go to Minnie Loupe-Garrou and Jed Clampitt, who successfully defended themselves and took their prey when cornered and out of shells for their 12-gauge in a boathouse, they took up pitchforks in a battle to the finish. Tom of Sonoma again won Style awards for using a percussion-loaded crocquete mallet while riding on his trusty stallion, "Beans".
Upcoming concerts include the KFOG concerts for kids, featuring Ben Harper with the gravel-voiced Susan Tedeschi on Thursday. Friday brings the Live 105 Not So Silent Night concert at the Bill Graham Memorial. Rumor has it Bush, Foo Fighters, and Filter are gonna blast out the doors that night.
Here we are into the Hannukha nights with stuff happening everywhere all over the Bay Area, but Sunday will feature lighting of the Bill Graham Memorial Menorah in Union Square. This marks the twenty-fifth year of the lighting of this particular menorah.
All over the Island lights are glowing as we steamroll with grim inevitability to that most inflated of holidays. Even our crusty Big Mike has -- uncharacteristically -- hung lights over his balcony in the shape of a twenty-foot high sailboat.
And of course the season would not be complete without the World Association of Traffic Deranged and Directionally Challenged meeting in various places about town. Officer O'Madhaun, flush with the success of having cracked a ring of car thieves after several of them committed the fatal blunder of speeding and other moving violations, has announced a War on Turn Signal Failure. Better watch out, better think twice: he's gonna know who's naughty and who's nice.
For the rest of us in this perilous time of last second lane changes, left turns from the right lane, misdirected headlights, road rage and road confusion, and wanton SUV proliferation, we gotta stay alive just a few more weeks until the end of the most bloody millenium that there ever was comes to an end.
This year's Meeting of the Association takes place in Chinatown, so you all should be forewarned that there will me a lot of double-parking, overcrowded sidewalks, pedestrian obstruction, weird smells of cooked unmentionables, fish on the street and careless driving. Just to let you know. Chinatown is gonna be like that a little while.
Here on the Island the lights string out like bracelets in a jewelry store and everyone is bundled up behind steam windows. That's the way it is here on the Island. Have a great week.
DECEMBER 12, 1999
The week crashed and banged to a close with concerts galore all over the place. Leni Stern came on stage with her white hair and her granny dress and commenced to blow the doors of the place at Yoshi's Thursday night, out riffing cockrockers twenty years younger. Bette Midler howled down the walls of the Oakland New Arena Monday with her top notch band and her backups the Drunken Strumpets -- or something like that. Dave Matthews blew into town to take over Yoshi's with a jazz quartet and rumor has it people bought dinner next door just to get a chance to hear the man through the walls of the sold out SRO show. Saturday night saw the annual AIDs benefit Not so Silent Night at the Bill Graham Memorial Hall, and even though headliners Foo Fighters failed to show, the bands Filter, 311, Blink 182 and Bush tore down the house with high-gain. Although offered money back due to the Foo Fighters cancellation few took advantage; the 10,000 plus seat hall was packed to the rafters from the huge open mosh pit area to the top tiers. High point was Bush's lead singer performing a really nice rendition of Glycerine solo on electric guitar under a single spotlight.
In other places about the Bay, tradition rumbled out its hoary wares as the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence put on their annual Naughty Santa benefit while the Santicon Santas roamed about Babylon City, getting drunk, pissing in public and handing out lumps of coal to innocent boys and girls. A mellower Santicon this year, no one got arrested or had their nose broken. It was found, however, a phone booth can hold eight and a half Santas. Next stop for the Santarchy parade will be Seattle.
On the Island we have more than our share of lights going up all over the place, bringing Hanukkah to a glorious close with bursts of color in the form of draped icycles, galloping reindeer and tannenbaums all over the place. We even have a 100 foot North Woods pine set up in the down town circle, giving shelter and succor to all the carolers and kiddies and Tom, the town drunk, who sleeps there almost every night.
As the sun sets over the Pacific and the noise of the day gives way to the sounds of the Island at night -- Olaf beating his dog again, Southpark Episodes wafting from the kid's room, Officer O'Madhaun chasing down another speeding scoflaw -- we pause to reflect upon life's mysteries, and have another beer.
Just over the wire we have the sad, sad news of a very great loss in Madeline Kahn, genius comedienne and star of many broadway musicals as well as the infamous Mel Brooks films. She appeared most recently opposite Steve Martin in "Mixed Nuts", a screwball seasonal comedy set in Venice beach at Christmas time. She was a trouper, a fine actress, a warm human being and a delightful person to watch perform.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
DECEMBER 19, 1999
The moon is waxing full as we soldier on towards the longest night of the year, when the slow revolve of the earth comes full circle and old spirits flit through the woods twined in vines. Afterward, everything gets brighter with the passing days. On the Island, our local Druids circle is making ready to greet the Season with incantations and a lot of dancing around in circles. Over in Babylon, where its rumored the wrong man won the mayoral race, all the covens are gathering on the hoarfrost. The usual place on the bluff above the cliff house will host the age old rituals. Meanwhile, Macy's is doing brisk business selling the same old stuff and the Salvation Army is still rattling bells, since apparently no one was Saved last year.
Congrats to the conception of Ms. Mona and Mr. Tim Mould of Wellesley Mass: critter is due to pop out in Spring of the New Century.
Quick reviews of Holiday Entertainment: Toy Story 2 is thumbs up, together with Ang Lee's "Ride with the Devil" and Roth's "War Zone", also the adaptation of Irving's "Cider House Rules," and the angelic "Dogma".
New Year's in the Bay Area is expected to be more of the same stuff, with the possible exception of the Marin County bash in San Rafael, expected to draw some 10,000 persons. Chilie Peppers are playing with 311 in Babylon City, while John Lee Hooker, still rocking at age 85, brings his road show to the Maritime Hall with Robben Ford among 5 other bands. The Mermen will fill the Beach Chalet at the edge of the North American continent. The Pretenders will headline the "SFNYE Superior Bash" at the Bill Graham Civic and that's just a sampling. Of course here on the Island we will celebrate in traditional fashion by discharging firearms, bottle rockets, whooping and hollaring and kicking up a general ruckus in our pickup trucks.
We just finished the holiday lights competition in which imagination and wretched excess ruled uppermost. Among the honorable mentions were the usual reindeer prancing across the rooftop with elves and sleigh, plus Mdm. Loupe-Garou's depiction of Adam and Eve's expulsion from Paradise which employed such inventive applications of neon tubing. Sadly, Stanley Putterman's "Moment of Conception" was blacked out during the judging period while Stanley tinkered with modifications enforced by the local Pruriency Brigade. Also notable was Malmoe's "Elves Triumphant over the Fallen Claus."
That's the way it is on the Island this holiday season Have a great shopping week.
DECEMBER 27, 1999
All down the street strands of icicle lights sway in the offshore breeze. From over the water comes the sound of the nine o'clock freight passing through the Embarcadero junction over in Oakland. Officer O'Madhaun sits parked outside the Pampered Pup hotdog shop, nursing his Styrofoam cup of Java and all the thieves who usually come over from East 14th are sitting holed up in Fruitvale Taquarias and bars. Now is the time between times, after the furious unwrapping of Xmas and before the hilarious cork popping and noisemakers of New Year's. The biggest news: the Raiders went down without a prayer on Sunday and Mayor Ralph has approved the new Dog Park. Someone is spreading the rumor that Dog Bites' Laurel Wellman and the infamous Nestor Makhno are an item -- the two were seen together down at the Underground Shooting Range wearing matching Maoist bandannas and trying out the latest anti-capitalist hardware from Uzi. But this is a rumor only. Ms. Wellman was also seen about town shopping at Nordstrom's and appearing at mayoral candidates' private shindigs up on Russian Hill as well.
This is the time for mulling things over, and even Kevin Keating is probably kicking back from his busy schedule as chief of the Mission Anti-Yuppie Proliferation Brigade to gaze at the lights and reflect upon the vicissitudes of history. The Island has seen its portion of Californication and tremored with the great shakes of events. Of course the rise of the PC culture, with its internet dot-com digital everything is the obvious Big Thing of the Year, and the new prosperity is something to consider. We almost had an International Rave Event here, but the neighbors protested the potential noise and got the thing shut down three days before the curtain went up, much to the chagrin of the backers who lost some 15 million dollars, but hey, a good night's sleep is hard to come by these days. In spite of the Navy leaving the base, we can afford it in these luxurious times.
With the Berlin Wall down 10 years now, the English out of Northern Ireland, Pinochet put on trial at last, no Southeast Asian war, South Africa free of Aparthate, it seems the sins and follies of the preceding generations have been just about rectified. They are moving into the new Westend development in droves and yet another is planned for the Buena Vista Flats area and everyone is jingling their pockets, it seems. But before we start singing a David Byrne song ("Let the days go by/ there is water underground / into the blue again / after the money's gone . . .") lets all get personal and think about where next we want to go before getting there. And to what extent we really have any control over it.
But during this in-between time, it's enough to evaluate the present circumstances. We live on a little Island in a region that has given up its claim to cultural and artistic prominence. And if the Warriors do not work some miracles to cover for the Raiders, the Niners, the Giants and the A's, a few more claims will go by the board as well. Perhaps surviving fires, earthquakes, droughts, street violence and plain old hard penniless bad-times saps too much vitality. How can anyone be a struggling painter or musician in a place where two bedroom houses cost half a million dollars? Truth is, nobody who got here, got here easy. Those of us who have been here long know full well that things are not going to stay flush forever.
And if you really have to fly in the next few days, you better not sit next to any Algerians.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great year.
NEXT WEEK( January 2000)
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