Island Life 2001
1st year of the Invented Millennium.
(For the post-9/11 article go HERE)
RETURN TO THE PRESENT
DECEMBER 31, 2000
All the Y2K madness comes to an end tonight. This past year saw the collapse of the "Dot-Com Spring" economy, a string of incredibly poor movies rolling out of Hollywood, the Stock Market churning up the waves with sharks feeding on the bearish remains of the NASDAQ, more planes dropping out of the sky than should be allowed in a decade, the dismal finish to a spectacular history-making battle for the Presidency -- which battle was to have been the yawner of the Century -- the virtual destruction of the Arts Community in Babylon through the eviction of every major dance troupe and over 5000 musicians from rehearsal spaces, ever more dispiriting news from the Middle East and other stuff so disappointing that most responsible media are skipping the annual retrospective entirely. The SF Bleakly put its final issue out covering the topic of biker babes, as if to say, nuthin' worth reporting; go party.
On the upside, even the most critical analysts have had to admit that Mayor Jerry Brown has done the unthinkable -- he has actually kept every campaign promise he made, and has actually improved the streets, the crime stats, the local economy and seems to show no sign of dropping the ball whatsoever on behalf of Oaktown.
On the Island, the height limit has been cut from 60 to 40 feet and the industrial zone pushed back from Park Street a block or so. Mayor Ralph has returned to his post from his brief fling with County Power and has been seen down by the beach in his penny loafers and chinos sitting on a park bench and talking to the ground squirrels. He'll be all right after a good drunk on the weekend.
So, as the lights flicker from the emergency generators and the ball drops silently in Times Square, consider the ground Squirrel, who cares not a whit for millennia changes or space travel or dot-coms or pregnant chads. Maybe we all should just go on down to the beach and join the Mayor tonight. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great Year.
JANUARY 6, 2001
The seasons' folly is over, all the trees are lined up on the curb to be carted to the recycling plant and the last shreds of Y2K have been swept up. Its the post-holiday blahs and even our delightful colleague and secret amore d'lettres, the author of "Dog Bites" had absolutely nothing to report.
Too many brandy alexanders we understand.
Any rate, the music scene is entirely in the hands of bands that have almost made it for a while, with the notable exception of Coal Play, coming to the Fillmore February 12th. Coal Play has been wrecking Europe for the past few months and is sure to tear the house down as guests of Live 105. Also not to be missed will be Mark Hummel's Blues Harmonica fest, featuring himself and the extraordinarily talented Charlie Musselwhite as well as the unforgettable James Cotton at Yoshi's on the 12th and 13th. Any one of these guys has been known to rescue headliners from nights of oblivion with scorching performances hot enough to turn the coldest tire-iron soul from Minnesotta into a blazing brick house.
On stage, the news is about as distressing as the crop of wannabe contenders for the Oscars with the boards dominated by scripts that provoke the comment "I can't believe they are dragging that one out of the closet again!".
With sad regards to Broadway, we bid adieu to one of the finest, Mr. Jason Robards passed away one day after Xmas. He earned his Oscar in the film All the President's Men, playing Washington DC newspaper editor Ben Bradlee. His best work was done playing roles scripted by Eugene O'Neill.
In looking over stats for Island Life, we note that over 500 new and unique visitors have popped into this page over the past year, not including previous attendees. Stats are being collected by Hitbox.com. This is the second year of continuous weekly publication, and so this space plans to move to a more formal arrangement later this year with registered domain name and all the trimmings.
Now that the Holidays are over, the traffic is returning to its previously intolerable level. In a rough check of the census stats, we find that six and a half million souls live in the 9-county Bay Area, with the highest rate of growth at 35% registered for Solano County, and the lowest in San Francisco (1% over ten years). This does not include undocumented aliens and homeless. No wonder 880 is a parking lot from nine to eleven and then again four to six. Chart below shows projections for the year 2020. (figures from ABAG)
Also worth noting is the below-average snowfall in the Sierra as we move gracefully into what is called "economic downturn". Those yokels who have never lived through a California drought will beg for something so quick and relatively painless as an earthquake before long.
Meanwhle the ground squirrels have tunneled under the earth for the winter even as the ozone thins, the ice caps melt and the weather shifts in what is the coldest winter on record in the country. The Annual meeting of the Directionally Confused and Traffic Enfeebled has convened at the Olde Towne Square and the nights are filled with the sounds of crunching metal and shattered glass as yet another one tries to squeeze through the yellow gone pinkish. With Officer O'Madhaun in full pursuit.
Speaking of which, the Thin Blue Line recently roped in 25 drug dealers who, coincidentally were also violating parole stipulations, carrying fair amounts of firearms, and generally terrorizing the West End of the Island. Its a small island, and 25 felons of that caliber, all working at once and more-or-less independently, makes for a pretty raucous Friday evening. At least this is one story that ends well. For the time being.
That's the way it is on the Island, this first weekend in 2001. Have a great week.
JANUARY 14, 2001
THE CENSUS - GO FIGURE
The careful statisticians among you noted with the raised eyebrow that true mathematicians practice so well that last week's census data is a bit ahead of the projected 2002 release date for the official figures.
Truth is, that late release date is for the big Kahuna, the whole census package and with 50 some dimensions cross-matrixed with one another for (est.) 320 million people it is no wonder those little D.C. bean counters need some time. If you want to know how many lesbian moms with two or more kids own a sofa and vote Republican you will just have to wait. The results for basic population growth DO happen to be available with the caveat that some single digit percentages still need to be totted up, making the population density data an official estimation.
It should also be remembered that the US Census Bureau is not the only player in the bean counter department; if you think big business is going to calmly wait 10+ years each cycle for population data to plop down from that ever so trustworthy entity called the Federal Government you belong to the category of man that has been known to tender serious offers for buying the Brooklyn Bridge. There are scads of data samples from the Nielson people to the rigorously executed annual Arbitron Report that virtually every radio, TV, Cable and newspaper depends upon for advertising survival. Here in the Bay Area we have something called ABAG which is a consortium of regional government entities that does very well on its own counting beans and if you want to glance at their reports, just hop on over to www.abag.ca.gov and see for yourself.
Hey, I don't make this kind of stuff up. The politics of numbers and disinformation provides heady stuff and a wealth of business for some people who love to generalize while shuffling specific numbers under the carpet. I am sick of squabbling with generalists who deny specifics -- for now -- so you just type "census" into your little search engine and go roaming yourself among the facts. There I have even spelled the search word for you.
Since you have a mind to criticize, please admit you read this column dude, and stop trying to bypass the hitcounters please. My sponsors would appreciate it.
MARTIN LUTHER KING HOLIDAY
You should all know, unless you live someplace untouched by civilization and the modernizing advances of the last 100 years, that Monday is a Federal Holiday commemorating the life and work of Martin Luther King, a great man, a saint, a charismatic speaker, and a leader appointed by destiny.
I can remember the man's voice coming over the local radio outside of Washington D.C. and the tremendous feeling of positive change that surrounded him and gave my friends hope that four hundred years of bad history had begun to turn around and touch individuals on a very personal level. Of over 1,800 students in my senior high school, the only one for four years, the only single solitary one of all these broad-minded middle-class students to invite me into his home and meet his family was Eric Mosby, an ardent proponent of Malcolm X and a scholarship grantee to Howard University.
Years have passed, but my brief colleageal friendship with Eric, with all of its external and internal limitations, has persisted in coloring the nature of my connections with other people of all types -- I feel for the better. And I feel that King made much possible with such grace and humanity that none of us is really unaffected. We should remember that during the ferment of the 50's through the 60's, there were few paths to take other than Franz Fanon with his choice of bullets over persuasion or the point of view the other color was the Devil Incarnate and nothing could ever be done.
What King did in the face of the most implacable, deepseated, violent antipathy is absolutely amazing and for all that, even though I am not a religious man, I say, "Hallelujah!"
After the second quarter you could hear a pin drop from Oaktown's hills to the Island. There is no joy in Oaktown tonight, for the admittedly mediocre Ravens go to the Superbowl where the formidable NY Giants will stomp their bones into mulligan stew. Our chief quarterback took a hard tackle to his throwing arm and then a 320 pound linebacker leapt on top of him, effectively ending the game right there. The replacement QB handed away 3 interceptions. Final score was 16-3. The Raiders, who only last year had problems filling the hometown stadium for any games at all, built a pretty solid team that remains young, but plays hard and keeps eyes on the rule book on and off the gridiron. If this team stays together, next year will be a definite Superbowl
That's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
JANUARY 21, 2001
Sometime about the Neolithic Age, shortly after the Holocene had begun, Oog, a diligent stonemason and thorough-going former-nomad-gone-cultivator looked out from what is now the site of a fireman's monument filled with primitivistic wall-paintings across the estuary and noted, far off, the movement of approaching Aag with his Mandan family through what would become the domain of Joaquin. Oog, being a passionate sort, leapt up and cursed the gods, the the sky, the rocks and the infernal Family of Man. He went to his altar of wickiwup and mud, poured dust and ashes upon his head amid loud lamentations of the most profound anguish and prayed an earnest prayer to the God of Zoning for some relief.
"God! " spoke Oog. "Seven hills and seven men dwelling upon them; it is too crowded even yet! Do something!"
The god of olden times, having fewer voices to attend to back then, heard the prayer of Oog, and so caused a triple plague of the most devastating kind to be visited upon the Area. First there was a terrible earthquake in which the ground rent open, the buildings fell down and nobody could get a decent latte anywhere. Then came a terrible fire that consumed the hills, the grass, the condos and the donkeys with great travail and wailing and gnashing of teeth, so then there was nothing left to eat for it had been all burnt up. As if this were not enough, a torrent of rain followed for 30 days and nights, causing hills to slide down, trees to topple and TV reception to fail utterly while the drinking water became poisoned with detritus.
For the Fourth Plague, everybody around got into a really, really bad mood.
Finally, when it was over, Oog looked out of the remains of his hillside hovel to see total desolation, ox-carts all smashed together, ashes in the pantry and burnt plumbing on the landscape, the economy a shambles and a veritable desert where there once had been, more or less, paradise. In short, it was all a terrible mess. But surely the interlopers would have left this awful place by now for all the trouble. Who would want to stay in a place with earthquakes, fire, floods and jaundiced neighbors? finally, Oog could have the whole place to himself. But Oog was astonished to see that Aag remained, knocking about the ruins, picking up stray rags to cloth himself and building a wickiwup not far from his own. Furthermore, this structure now blocked part of Oog's view of the estuary.
In a towering rage, Oog ran up to Aag meaning to strike his neighbor upon the pate for being a dolt and not leaving, but despair overwhelmed his soul and he sat down instead in front of Aag and wailed, "Why, oh why art thou still here in spite of the four terrible plagues that sure will return again and again!"
For answer, Aag, set down a load of pilfered lumber and sighed heavily. "East Coast Mother-in-Law".
Thus began. long ago, the Bay Area's great Season of Discontent whereby it shall be found that all problems: disease, hunger, poverty, gallstones, migraines, terrible parking and earthquakes shall be resolved by the simple expedient of having everyone move away.
Except us of course.
Okay, Babylon's census runs about 780,000 by generous estimate, with a total of about 746,000 more like it, according to ABAG. That's still demands a hella lot of parking spaces for a place that's about 35 square miles in volume. Still, kudos to the man who went and altered the Highway 101 Welcome to Babylon" sign to read "Population 819,000". It may not really be that many, but it sure feels like it. Especially with the Fourth Plague still going on.
Leaving this always-fruitful topic for the moment, we note that Phil Lesh and friends will do the same thing to us that they did New Years Eve, but this time at Maritime Hall. "Dark Star" ran for 25 minutes last time; you have been warned.
On the Island a major fire at Harbor Island Apartments displaced 30 families last Monday. Harbor Island was the place raided recently by SWAT and ATF teams to try to stop the crystal dealing. Seems somebody remained at large and wanted to even a score. The Red Cross is looking for donations to provide emergency housing. Talk to Jim Franz at 814-4209.
Proving that Island criminals do not have the patent on unique intelligence, an Oaktown man, hearing police pounding next door, hurriedly gathered up bags of heroine and tossed them out the window, right onto the feet of officers waiting in back -- of the other apartment. Both neighbors were taken into custody. His neighbor was wanted for parole violations. It is not known if they even know each other.
The big news for us has been the power outages. With a foot and a half of snow dumped in the Northwest recently, there is no sign of letup or of serious resolution to the problem. PGE is threatening bancruptcy, in a most timely fashion it seems, so Republican Governor Wilson will probably authorize graduated fee hikes to please Big Power. Magically, day after fee hikes are allowed, the crisis will pass. The utilities will "discover" previously untapped power sources and will "bring online" a generator that was out the whole time for repairs. Basically, population growth is being used as an emotional lever by callous, slaveringly greedy, subhuman corporate creatures to get what they want at the expense of all of us. Not to put too fine a point on it.
The Island has its own power sources and power grid, but since the local grid is tied to the state, power blackouts are happening here as well. There is no getting away from PigGiE.
Not only that, the Raiders are not going to the Superbowl. Damn.
So it is with all of our plagues and power crisis and whatnot, in the darkest night when the blackout looms and the cold of the global warming ozone-thinning sky seeps in, that we look about and remember that no place else on earth offers nearly as good a selection of gourmet burritos.
And Aag's grunted second reply to Oog can not, and should not, be forgotten:
"Fog is good."
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
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JANUARY 28, 2001
Okay boys and girls, this power thing is going on long enough that hysterical finger-pointing has become so dangerous we have found it necessary to put on goggles before taking our evening constitutional for fear of getting poked in the eye.
The current power crisis in California is due to makin' funny with the numbers and payments and is not due to some sudden lack of electrons. Really people; did all of you sleep through physics 101 in high school? Now I don't wanna hear no snickers in the back about Mcateer or Balboa High, puh-leeze!
WE READ LONG-WINDED, TEDIOUS STUDIES ON ENERGY USAGE SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO.
Okay, first off lets not get too heavy into math here, as i know you will be nod, nod, nodding off in two shakes of a sine wave. Lets just answer some basic questions and restate some facts for the masses. First off, neither the Internet nor the increase in computer usage at the server or the pc level has increase power consumption in the slightest. In fact, power consumption increases (in California) have, by every reputable government and private study known, actually decreased.
Yep. Where they went up -- marginally -- in Silicon Valley, they went down by as large a number elsewhere. Next question: Don't those huge "server farms" pull a lotta juice from the grid and doesn't anybody keep track of this sort of thing?
Answer is No and Yes. First, there are a whole scad of agencies, groups, self-interested parties and basic certified lunatics in the thousands who have been tracking exactly this subject. Formost -- among the reputable agencies --- is Lawrence Livermore Lab. Point your browser to Lawrence Berkeley Labs - LBL right now if you don't believe me. Come on back if you dont want to have to wade through tons of studies done by bean counters with nothing much to do other than count watts.
Now, those of you who dislike numbers should skip this paragraph. The average server, same as your average PC, has an internal power supply rated at 330 watts. But this unit never would, or could, run at maximum output all the time. Truth is, your typical modern PC uses, maybe 5-10 watts and cranks up to about 50-75 watts at max use; that's about the level of a decently bright lightbulb. Keep in mind that the guts of the PC, as in any server, involves voltage levels far below the static you accumulate by walking across a deep pile carpet. With the advent of "green pc's", the usage of some machines has been measured as low as 200mw. That's pretty damn low; even your pocket flashlight uses more than that. Those honking big video monitors, however, yank watts in the hundreds. But server farms dont use 21" monitors. Instead, they have up to ten machines all hooked through a switch to a single 15" monitor that is usually turned off. Yes, somebody thought about power usage already -- they had to, because all those machines with guaranteed 99.9999% uptime are hooked to a room-sized UPS with very established power ratings and licensing that must be certified and approved by the local municipality. Hey, before a single arc-lamp, burning thousands of watts an hour, switches to ON in your local football stadium, the stadium builders had to go through the same process. Remember when rock concerts used to shut down the entire sector from the Meadowlands Arena?
Electricity is the one thing that is known and quantifiable about the Internet, so of course bean counters have been measuring up the wazoo ever since the beginning. And hey, in what other industry do they have "green machines"? I certainly never saw an "energy efficient" ball-end Makuna drill press in any factory I ever worked in.
Frankly, something here smacks of lazy, uninformed, just-plain-bad journalism here. I even caught one report in a local paper accusing decorative lighting of causing the power shortage. Hey, no amount of 0.5 amp xmas lights, grabbing a maximum of 15 watts a string, is going to short out a state the size of California. How much does something use anyway? Turn the damn appliance around and the UL sticker tells you on the back. If the number is amps, just do amps X volts and you have the usage. Unless you live in Europe your volts has gotta be the same as mine: 120. You'll find that microwave of yours burns the watts equal to the usage of about twenty servers in that big bad ole server farm.
Wanna know who consumes a hella amount of watts? Take a trip down past Long Beach at, say, two a.m. and stare at the bright suns burning offshore. Hint: wear beta-blockers.
So, boys and girls, that was your informal Power Usage Update for the week. Now go away and don't bother me until you have finished your homework.
In other news, the lady who was tossed 40 feet by a speeding SUV driver down on Encinal and Lafayette is recuperating well at Island hospital, even as the Ladies Against Stupid Sucky Idiotic Egomaniacs (LASSIE) has really gotten its dander up about speeders and red-light running fools. Officer O'Madhauen is on the case.
They caught the perps who burned 14 families out of home at the West End apartments. Turned out it was a 12-year old and a 14-year old. Reason: they were bored.
The post-season post-inaugural blues have quieted the music scene -- some. But Friday had two great shows in the form of the shouting, stomping, thoroughly inspirational Sweet Honey in the Rock doing the Zellerbach in Berzerkeley on Friday, with the Vagabond Lovers sharing the Starry Plough with Chuck Prophet. The rich coloratura of Patty Spiglanin's voice has only improved over the last decade and Prophet's extraordinary talents, more appreciated in Europe than here, continue to knock 'em dead in the mosh pit.
On the Island, the sun sets with swashes of pastel to the romantic sound of car-stereo thieves smashing windows. Talking to an old-timer here, we learned that the channel between here and Oaktown used to be a fordable swamp and people used to walk through to get to work on the other side. That was in the days before electrical shortages. Now, deep-sea freighters pass over the same spot to berth below what is still, by last count, the world's largest container crane.
That's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
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FEBRUARY 4, 2001
CAT FIGHT !
Wow, somebody around here really has power issues. Two heavy-hitters working opposite ends of the news-desk at a local rag mixed it up together on the street in Babylon last week. Seems the newer hack said something to which the elder journalist took umbrage, leading to a heated exchange of highly-charged, intellectual epithets of disdain. Somehow the scene degenerated to hair-pulling and shoving between the former Associate Editor and the upstart greenhorn . The well-appointed crowd on Babylon's posh Union Street were treated to the charming spectacle of our City's finest wordsmiths slinging such gems as, "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!". Finally, the award-winning half of this display busted one of her heels after pushing the younger gal off of the sidewalk into the street amid a great fanfare of horns and stopped traffic. At this point, the woman took up her damaged shoe and waving her sole in the air, crowed "I am the Winner!" before stomping off to Harringtons.
It was, as one writer would have put it, pure atavism and better than watching fat men on horseback.
POWER? POWER? WHO'S GOT THE POWER?
As the SF Bleakly pointed out, in a pretty astute analysis by Matt Smith, socializing the utilities to resolve the electricity problems appears quite ludicrous at this point. And certainly nothing the very rightist Mr. Davis will ever consider as an option. Never mind the utilities were built by us in the first place; Big Important People own the keys and they will not let go without blood and money. The more solvent municipalities will proceed with what they already had back in the planning room -- setting up their own municipal power/infotech corporations. Babylon has been debating that issue with particular attention to Hetch Hetchy's power dam for at least ten years. Now there is no more debate.
Here on the Island, Mayor Ralph is glowing over the casual decision made years ago to incorporate its own grid and the happy residents are getting mailers now, pointing out that the rates have not risen for anyone in over five years. Down in City Hall, the incumbents are positively giddy with all the triumphalism.
Darn. Left the computer on all day again.
SOMETHING OTHER THAN POWER ISSUES
The Significant Other and I took the opportunity to check out McCoy Tyner at Yoshis, here for an annual two week stint at the exclusive club where two days is considered pushing it. Tyner, one of the bastions of modern jazz, enthralled the crowd inside and just outside the area where musicians clustered around the telemonitors to hang on every note. Accompanied by bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Al Forster, Tyner assaulted, soothed and redeemed his instrument with extraordinary passion.
The streets down by Jack London flashed with the heat on Saturday, the first warm night of the year. With two to three squad cars per block, the scene bore an uncanny resemblence to something from Day of the Locusts. As one homeboy remarked, "Man, there's hella Ghosts on the street tonight!" No kidding. With Mayor Brown pushing for a solid shopping block from third to tenth, there was no room for horseplay under the bridge downtown. Even though Little Charlie and the Nightcats, playing Bluesville, may have come from the stripclub/gambling den circuit in the old days, the heat was there to make sure the old days remained just memories and the Blues on Saturday night were gonna stay solidly middle class.
You want genuine blues, check out Jimmies or Eli's.
Down home on the Island, news is that a 400 pound child molester was arrested for traffic in kiddie porn and certain hands-on activities. Mom, a professional "masseuse" does not appear to have been any great prize herself, for she would bring the kids during "sessions" and allow them to perform.
One feels the Island will be much lighter when the Big Guy leaves.
Times like these, one goes down to the shore to stare at the lights of Babylon across the water to wonder just what the world is coming to. Remembering red-tails over Sunol at a certain time of life and a band of foxes scampering over the San Bruno Ridge where now housing developments sprawl. Bad journalism, lying politicians, thieving public trust executives, stolen elections. Well, it's just I, IV, V, the same old thing. Or as the song goes, "It's the old same thing, mama. It's the old same thing."
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week staying out of the Stock Market.
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FEBRUARY 11, 2001
If you are staying indoors this weekend, its no surprise, as the snow is general all over America, to paraphrase a famous short story. Snow came down to the 1500 foot level here in California and this morning the Island got itself lashed by a good old hail storm.
The power people here are talking about complete separation from the State power grid with the construction of two power plants on the grounds of the abandoned Naval depot. With two 49 megawatt plants the Island could not only tell Piggie to go take a hike, but the behemoth that is now crushing the state would have to pay the Island for excess power. Which is a pleasant thought.
RETURN OF THE RETURN OF MY SUCKY VALENTINE
For those of you without a main squeeze this Feb. 14th, largely because your former Main Squeeze crushed your heart like a tin can before giving you a solid boot to the door, the seventh annual gathering for the Love Stinks crowd will occur in Babylon on Tuesday at the old Victorian on 16th Street in the Mission. Readings from noted writers will feature lousy lays, two-timing tramps, and hearts dragged through the gutter stories. Proceeds benefit the SF Sex Information hotline.
For those who could use a bit of the old T&A -- that's Tease and Assume -- the Cantankerous Lollies shall be trucking out their size 8 to 14 costumes for a little burlesque show 'n tell. Full nudity is disallowed by the naughty Lolls, but where else can you take in a contortionist, can-can and belly dancing in the nudge-nudge wink-wink and thoroughly tongue in cheek style? Shows at the Odeon, also in the Mission district.
The Fencesitters Ball took place on Friday for those of you who up the chances of a date 50% by including everybody and everything on the desert menu. Best thing about this affair is that couples are by no means considered complete and everybody goes home with somebody or three.
MORE ON THAT LOVEABLE PAIR
When we last left Oog and Aag, the Pleistocene gents who settled in the Bay Area, the Bay was pretty much a deep canyon. Then came the Holocene and things changed quite a bit. The ocean rose about 330 feet, or so, and the Bay filled with water so that you couldn't get to Marin without a boat anymore. Some other stuff happened too, but mostly a bunch of families, the descendents of Oog and Aag and a few more wanderers from Mongolia who happened to find themselves where the weather was reasonable and the fishing not so bad after the land bridge from Siberia sorta slunk away.
It is true the neighborhoods went to hell, but geological epochs are known to be irresistible.
Long about the time some Portuguese lunatic sailing under the dubious flag of Spain, set out in the wrong direction to find India, a major volcanic eruption, in what is now Idaho, shook the earth, split the heavens, sent fire into the sky and swept molten rock in great lakes across three or four states-to-be and generally ruined the real estate market for the duration. Since every living thing was buried under solid rock for a thousand miles in all directions, the survivors picked up what they had and headed south across the mountains and deserts. Some of them even moved to California, bringing stories of the earth shaking and the sky burning.
Humbaba, a descendent of Aag, went to the Shaman to find out what all this could mean, for it seemed that some really bad juju was in the works.
The Shaman, a venerable old man, had been suffering from devils in his intestines for some weeks, but dutifully he spun the Magic Stick, chanted to the east, the west, the north and the south, sprinkled some ash mixed with the blood of a condor, the teeth of a bear, the claws of a wolf and the lungs of a snake. Then he sat down. Humbaba waited.
The Shaman spoke, "Shit!", then he keeled over and died of a busted appendix.
Humbaba took this to be a very bad sign indeed. He then withdrew all of his holdings in equity stocks and moved with his family down south for he could not travel any further west.
Sumuc, a descendent of Oog, lived over by what is now Cow Hollow. where he ran a nice little concession running a tulle-boat ferry from the peninsula to the islands in the bay, Marin and over to Oaktown. He kept his people fed and happy and everybody got along real well with no hassles living there by the water, eating holistic foods, fishing and smoking a little boo now and then to keep the edge off. They were pretty much the first California Surfer Dudes and they practiced ecology by not eating too much, killing too much or messing up the land with poisons.
Well, one day a buncha dudes from down south showed up in a boat and settled in on the worthless wind-swept sand dunes on the peninsula. It wasn't the first time jokers like these had shown up, but this was the first time any of them had bothered to settle down. The Norsemen had come and the English had come and the Russians had come and they all laid claim to the whole damn country -- they were all a bunch of idiots -- but more of these Spanish types came and these ones stayed.and that was just fine by Sumuc and his tribe for the land was worthless and there was plenty around for everybody to eat anyway. So Sumuc got together with these Spanish and they all had a party, which was Sumuc's way of doing things, inviting the neighbors in too, and then Sumuc went about his business.
The newcomers had a hard time of it settling in, so Sumac's tribe agreed to share a little sustenance in exchange for some earring baubles
One day he had a confab with a Spanish dude named Junipero Serra who had this big old nasty cut on his leg. Sumuc would have done something for this guy, who was clearly obsessional, but the old Friar waved him off angrily saying, "That's my own special wound and don't you touch it you heathen! No pain is no gain."
"I can dig it," said Sumuc, who rather doubted the man's sanity. He knew that everytime the white man came around a few of them went bat-shit crazy. "What do you call yourselves?"
"We are reasonable gents," said Serra, who then made a proposition to Sumuc and his whole tribe.
"I tell you what. I got a special deal for you, seeing you are not a bad heathen -- ignorant, dirty, ugly and misguided, but not without some hope. You come over here by us and become slaves in our stockade. We get to beat you any time we want, you must work from early morning to sundown, the soldiers can have your women anytime, and you gotta get up and pray at the crack of dawn when the bell rings and sex amongst you will be, of course, verboten. In exchange we will feed you three squares a day and give you a shirt. Which you gotta learn to keep clean. Howzabout it?"
"Since you put it that way, no thanks," said Sumuc who went away after promising that he would repeat this crazy proposition to members of his tribe.
Serra went away to think things over, for it astonished him that such a reasonable proposal to embrace civilization -- on his terms -- should be cast aside. He revised his marketing plan and went down to Santa Clara, where he had another mission, and made a slightly different pitch to the chief there named Xatophec. "We are Reasonable Gents," said Serra. "Come on and live in my house where its nice and warm, we party with the Pope every night, and we have three squares a day -- you won't want to leave."
Xatophec, who would never tell lie in his life, had he known that such an animal existed, agreed to this purely temporary arrangement as winter was coming on, figuring that in the spring, they would just walk away and gather acorns as his tribe always had done.
The rest, as they say, is history.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
On, or about, the Island, in the present day, major employer Good Guys has moved its corporate HQ to Harbor Bay from the City of the Stars. Ophelia Schmaltz, President of the Dogwalkers Association is unimpressed.
Hey, we couldn't get an interview with Hizzoner, Mayor Ralph, so Ophelia has to do, okay? Ophelia reminds us that the dogwalk has returned to Washington Square and those little yappers are down there every day, asserting their rights and engaged about their doggy business. Whatever.
Bonds are up and stocks are down and few remember the last time a Bushy was President and what that was like. Pink Slip parties are all the rage now, and you can find those clean-cut, had one job out of college types hanging out at Starbucks, idling away until it "just feels right" to go get another 80K per year job.
Yes, and my name is Napoleon Bonaparte and I have a bridge to sell you.
California, in all its rich diversity, develops, during depressed times, all of the charm and tranquility of a guardian pit bull training session . Some are just about to learn just what that is like.
All I know is, the ground squirrels down by the shore are busy collecting nuts, even though spring is sure to come, for with brains the size of a peanut, even they are smarter than some of the types around here.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a productive week.
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FEBRUARY 18, 2001
We spoke a little soon about the snow, for as everyone here knows, the snow dropped to 500 foot levels, frosting every major hill in the Bay Area and shutting down Route 17 entirely. Schools issued the first "snow day" in a quarter century as a foot and a half of powder dumped on Santa Cruz within eight hours. Schoolkids from Berkeley were tobogganing down Grizzley Peak Boulevard during the most extraordinary weather as CHP ordered everybody off the roads.
TURN SIGNAL? WHAT'S THAT?
In an even rarer demonstration of good sense, most would-be drivers did exactly that.
Now, its back to the Non Compos Mentis chapter of the Directionally Confused and Traffic Enfeebled drumming up more members for its quite large organization. To become a member you must drive down the road a Winnebago, occupying at least two lanes simultaneously for at least two miles. Initiates then must pass some simple dexterity tests in which they shoot for the left-hand off ramp from a stall on the right-hand shoulder, turn right across three lanes from the left-hand turn lane against the light, buzz through a stop-light on red at the count of three, exceed the speedlimit by a minumum of 25 miles per hour for 25 miles on city streets (highways do not count), use the exit ramp as an acceleration lane and decelerate exiting an 880 onramp to 20 miles per hour. The hopeful candidate then must drive 45 miles per hour in the middle of 580 and glide across lanes without signalling at least six times in 20 minutes. Survivors of these preliminaries then must do timed backup trials on residential streets at not less than 30 miles per hour without killing anyone's dog. Those who run out of gas on any major Bay Area freeway during rush hour earn bonus points.
After reciting the Declaration of Independence from any turn-signal or traffic control devices, the joyful plebe then becomes a full-fledged member of the Non Compos Mentis chapter with all rights and perogatives to maim and kill at will on the highways and byways of the State of California.
After a period of mayhem, the new members become eligible to apply to purchase an SUV.
On the Island, the College kicks off a free concert series with a visit from Senegal dancer/drummer Khatab Cissokho, followed by portions of the infamous Babylon doing chamber music by safe composers such as Beethoven and Schubert. Still, we are getting up in the world, now aren't we!
Rumor mill has it as true that Mr. E himself, Pete Escovedo, shall be moving down to sunnier climes to be near his daughter, so the future of Spotlight on the Square remains in doubt. 'Twas ever thus for that trouble spot in place, which has, on this run at the very least, avoided murder as the means of its demise. There are those hoping for a continuance of Friday nite salsa with his Master's hand ruling from afar.
Les Claypool sails in on seas of cheese to the Warfield with his Frog Brigade on March 3. The Insane Clown Posse does whatever they do at Maritime Hall on Wednesday. Overhearing one of their works, a mestiza eight-year old was heard to remark, "I don't understand them and I don't like them!" Out of the mouths of babes.
Jeff Beck, the erratic guitar genius who shifts directions like a leaf on a windy lake, is experiencing something of a revival and will perform at the Warfield on the 20-21st.
At the Fillmo', we had Eve 6 on Friday -- no word on how it went yet -- to be followed by a solo performance by Richard Thompson, darling of the acoustic set, on March 15. His "1952 Black Vincent Lightning" in C tuning is still required learning by anybody who pretends to finger the fretboard. The following weekend will bring Suzanne Vega with her butch hairstyle and her dry observational lyrics to the stage. Since becoming happily married and giving child, her output has slowed in recent years, but deepened in experience.
Jazz seems to be infecting the former land grant of Peralta these days with Yoshis putting in a string of solid performers through the month and August. Then there is the lineup at Bluesville - headed by Big Bill Morgenfield -- in Oaktown and Elis with its ever-ready blues and BBQ meant to ease the soul. So many notes, so little time!
Which in this pre-recession time is very much needed. On our way to work we noticed a line-up of red heart-shaped signs stating
I LOVE YOU KATHRYN !
heading towards the chunnel. Yeah right. We got home from our own soul-sucking job at nine pm and left a message on our Significant Other's message machine to cover things. Love is for those who have money and can afford the View.
When we heard Dog Bites columnist Laura Wellman of the SF Bleakly was seen scouting condos we wished we too could be among the hoi polloi with thousands to spend and scads of stock options. But we got into computers at the low end before there ever was a dot-com and we fix broken machines on our hands and knees every day while high-society columnists rub elbows with the High and Mighty and sip exotic cocktails in wildly extravagant bars. We shall just nurse our poor grievances with our greasy wrenches among the chaff at dark bars on the edge of town whose motto goes "Warm beer, cold women, go away." Sniff.
HOW CAN THEY EVER GO AWAY?
As mentioned previously, the descendents of Oog and Aag were living by the Bay, with Aag having moved south to sleepy Los Angeles. Eventually, the descendent of Aag's known as Marky hooked up with a guy named Estanislao and busted out of the mission there to great acclaim and there was lots of stampeding and yelling and general carrying on with jubilation. Marky went on to form his own band, seeing as the cholo rock n roll lifestyle suited him more than the settled approach and he and his merry pranksters roamed about the Sierra foothills, doing a gig now and then at one of the big rancherias and nabbing the occasional stray bessie for hamburger.
Tilacse, a descendent of Sumuc, rebuilt the old ferry enterprise after the place got trashed by a bunch of red-neck Yakuts from the Valley. Even back then the valley-types caused trouble every time they came to town. The padres put a damper on things for a while, locking up everybody in barracks and flailing people right and left for no good reason. But somebody figured out that the missions were killing more people with disease and slave-work than were being converted so they put a stop to all that.
With the Missions gone, things mellowed out for everybody and Tilacse lived a good life running his ferry from the Yerba Buena trading post over to Rancho de San Antonio and chillin' with the homeboys and a bottle of aguagardiente in the off times. Of course there were those who just couldn't leave well enough alone with their talk of progress and stuff, but tomorrow is always another day and let us all wait to see what tomorrow brings, my friend.
On the Island, present day, Pagano's has shifted its famous window display from the Mad Hatter's teaparty with Alice to a tools display on hay bales, complete with full menagerie of chickens, dogs, and rabbits whooping it up for a spring party. There is even a group of mice performing a rondele on the sideboard while a monkey hangs from the ceiling. The only critter not enjoying himself is a bulldog cooped under a glass belljar.
That's the way it is on the Island, where even hardware has its lighthearted side. Have a great week.
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FEBRUARY 25, 2001
A bit late, but still here...
Not yet a hundred days and the Bushy/Baggot/Green crowd in the White House has already tried at least a dozen concepts redolent of those times of yore when the Black Plague roamed the earth and physicians were called "leeches". Launching immediately into a truely objectionable unification of Church and State, Bushy has followed up with scads of cutbacks on virtually every worthwhile program set in motion by precessessors, while herds of well-heeled "think-tankers" scurry about refashioning history to make it look good. This from the administration that came in on dubious credibility and doubtful majority, whose very legitimacy is in question.
Well, we all remember what happened the last time a Bush was in office -- even the Republicans shudder at the aweful memories of soup kitchens and long unemployment lines.
After 100 days, what has been accomplished? Cutting aid to African countries and a spurious urge to Americans to endorse Dubya's idiosyncratic X-tianity.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELINDA !
The Significant Other and I took the freshly legal teen to Babylon for some Adult Entertainment at Asia SF, a charming SOMA eatery and . . . and well, what else is hard to say. At least in mixed company. Down they came along the bartop runway, dishing and swishing and lip-synching like nobody's business to the sounds of Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald and Brittany and rave applause. It was a flaming Tranny Karaoke!. We got the Tina Turner look-a-like for our waitron and drank strangely blue curacao margaritas called "tarantulas". The aging teen got a cell phone for her Day and immediately made a phone call to her best bud. At least three other birthdays were celebrated that night, but our cake was so exquisite, the party-gal just had to share a slice with Tina. A huge time was enjoyed by all and so there you have it.
RETURNING TO THAT HALYCON PLACE IN THE BAY
On the Island, where all the women wear dresses and all the men, pants, much as they used to in days of yore, the IPD is handling the first murder in 15 years. All they can say down at the West End is, "Well, its about time!"
Seems a jilted feller took exception to his ex doing quite well without his drug-peddling carcass hanging around, so he took a pistol and shot her in the head, before driving off into the night. Prince Charming here had a long record of leading the Vallejo Hells Angels as chapter president, doing time in the slammer for selling crystal meth and assorted infractions for acting like a brutal, violent bully. His ex only wanted to be a school teacher.
WELL, MAYBE NOT SO HALYCON
Perusing the weekly rags up in Snore-homa and Palo Wallow in Silly Cone Valley, we note a seeming focus upon the "It cant happen here, but it did" kind of murders. In Palo Alto, where the stiff chin of the intransigent obdurate rich -- more on that phrase later -- pushes through the air with self-inflated rectitude like an ice-breaker cutting through the fog, they're still puzzling over the axing of a music teacher -- not exactly your most provocative profession -- and the shooting of a garage mechanic.
The local free daily down there included a neat little essay on California's power usage as compared to the rest of the Union, finding that the golden state ranks 47th in per capita use, but is second in overall use due to the large population. The truth is, we have always been energy efficient, with intense focus upon conservation, matching Western Europe for economy of use. Texas, on the other hand, with its huge swamp coolers, ranks miserable 4th.
The energy crisis continues -- with our stupid Governor pushing off all decisions until the weather improves, hoping that massive declines in use as the weather warms will ease his pain.
THEN, THERE WAS THIS WACKY GUY NAMED JESUS
Meanwhile, up in Snowhoma county, an organization going by the innocent name of Westar is meeting for a week at the Red Lion Inn and why should you care about a business convention out in the stix? Well my friend, the Westar happens to be the North American King of thinktanks for Western Christianity. It contains virtually every significant biblical scholar in America and their agendas provide the guiding light, as it were, to millions of demigogues. And sometimes the fire and brimstone too, for these people pretty much consider Old Tyme Religion to be in serious trouble from people like Pat Robertson. Among other things.
Seems attendance is down and its getting harder to find wannabe saints these days. In addition, a few of these industrious scholars came up with the astonishing revelation that fewer than 10% of the gospels involve the character known as Jesus in any way that can be authenticated, or even repeated by other sources. In short, much of the Christian Bible is pure fiction.
This is causing some debate among the pulpits with all sorts of maledictats being tossed about like hand grenades with great zest.
THOSE OBDURATE RICH
To give them their due, you will notice that no wealthy person gifted with taste ever drives an SUV. Those tanks are designed for middle-class wannabes.
Down in Palo Wallow, while waiting for my sandwich at a downtown deli, one particularly obstinate fellow tugged, then pulled, then yanked my daily out from under my things on the counter, while I was so astonished, all I could say was, "Hey!" as he tugged (my hands were on the paper) then "Hey! Hey! Hey!" The fellow then sat down to read next to a pile of fresh, unenfolded papers to virtually everyone elses astonishment.
"Hope you enjoy your paper, duuuude!" I said and grabbed one from the stack next to him, at which point the tenuous light of incipient intelligence began to ray across the man's face at the suggestion that other human beings existed other than himself in the world. But the awareness is too much for some people -- which is why one part of Palo Alto insulates itself so assiduously from its poorer sister city east of the freeway -- and the dull appearance of stupifaction returned to the face of the boor.
THE WARMER SIDE OF THE BAY
Returning to the simple joys of hootchie mamas and low riders with some relief from places where sophistication has a name, but is unpracticed, we plunked ourselves down to a warm bowl of donburi with our SIgnificant Other at the only sushi place on the island. We might not be well-travelled. We might never have fallen drunk into the Thames or spent a summer in Majorca and we don't have wildly extravagant eateries where men dressed as women parade down a chrome-topped bar, but we do have soul food, the best people in the world and a view of the hills sometimes when you stand on the hood of your beatup car.
If there's one thing that I need
That makes me feel complete
So I go to Christie Road
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a genteel week.
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MARCH 4, 2001
To hell with the going to hell dot-coms; Sunny Beans just went out of business! That's right; another victim of Starbucks has cashed in the chips in these days of corporate foldings and packings and pink slip parties. Sunny Beans, founded by someone just looking to get a decent cuppa joe gave in to pressure as two Starbucks have invaded the Island.
Meanwhile, the energy crunch shows no signs of ending as vicious weather is forecast amid the drizzles and downpours here, further extending our hapless governor's pain. Now the power pundits are saying that it has gone on so long that even the warmth of spring shall bring no ease, for the mess is truely gargantuan in its colossal failure to implement a purely Republican -- and quite simple-minded -- plan to deregulate the utilities. Might as well try to deregulate the appetite of a bull mastiff. When the swamp coolers of 110 plus Palm Springs kick in the power drain shall surely continue. Try telling the residents of Barstow amid 130 degree weather to "ease up on the thermostat a tad". Not to mention the sweltering millions in the LA basin, some 100 by 55 miles in volume of solid humanity.
We would like to remind everyone that we have a Texan idiot about to implement nationwide the same sort of disaster that happened here on a myriad of programs.
Meanwhile, on the Island, we have our own problems with wanton SUV drivers careering through crosswalks inhabited by elderly citizens and children and Officer O'Madhauen is about to slam the gavel to the bench on anyone who dares to drive recklessly. After one driver knocked a local grandlady 30 feet down the street, the locals got up in arms and now the Force is about to come down swift and hard. There will be surveillance and patrol cars and guard dogs and electronic devices of every description, not to mention "decoys" and undercover pedestrians posted at crosswalks everywhere.
And whoever busted into the public library and stole the janitor's walkman radio had better start running for Mexico for Officer O'Madhauen is now pretty damn mad.
For those of you seeking relief in these crime-laden times, the prestigious Alvin Ailey dance group is rolling into town at Zellerbach until the 11th. If you can't afford the tickets, former members of Idiot Flesh are known to be hanging out in the usual venues, doing wierd stuff with noise that will gratify your soul. We fondly recall in the days of the old Stork Club, when it resided on 12th Street, the band members coming in on roller skates while performing on kazoos, dressed in gorilla outfits and outlandish pinafore outfits that gradually dissolved as the music set progressed.
On the Island, where monkeys are relegated to the dubious theory of evolution -- and even that is taken with a grain of salt -- The Societe des Amis de Alfred Jarry, a division of the famous College du Patephysik de Paris, will be meeting in the Old Towne Hall next Friday after the Absinthe Hour at Chevy's. The noted speaker, Dr. Faustroll, will deliver a lecture open to the public on Locomotion of Propeller-Driven Sieves upon the Atlantic as it Relates to Bay Area Traffic Planning. Attendance is encouraged for all ages.
That's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
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MARCH 11, 2001
APOCALYPSE -- AND HOW!
Long-awaited Spring opened up blue skies with moderate temps over the energy-starved Californias this weekend. You could almost hear the "Whew!" from the embattled Governor as he flings the sweat from his brow over this brief respite. We'll have a couple months before 100 degree-plus weather slams the southern half and millions of coolers flick the "on" switch.
At home, we've been minding the conservation with our green sticker flourescent bulbs and darkened computer screens. As we huddle with the heat off by our guttering candle, scanning through the Comical and the increasingly tabloid-like Exasperator for news of the latest big layoff, its hard not to take an apocalyptic view of things. With Cisco's pinkslip party of some 8,000 persons and the trashcanning of a new facility, the numbers of newly unemployed -- just in Silicone Valley -- easily top 50,000 souls this year.
And all of those folks made easily 60-80 thousand dollars a year. They now face the prospect of paying last year's tax bill while on the dole. Bushy's response has been to offer a tax cut to resolve things. Let's see: Bush in office, Voodoo Economics, deep recession. Sounds awefully familiar. Sounds just aweful.
SEND ME A NOTE; DON'T SPEND 'EM ON THE BLUES, BOY
It's in times like these the tough go dancing. And if they are like me and can't maneuver those tricky wheels on the dance-floor, we go listening and watching. For those of you who liked the Eagles, Don Henley plays this week, and if you didn't, stay away from the Paramount on the 18th. Our old friend Ann Crowden's school of accomplished young musicians perform at the Jewish Music Festival at Berzerkeley's Julia Morgan Theatre with guests Joel Ben Izzy and Ella Weissberger. Ella is a survivor of the "model" Konzentrationslager at Theriesenstadt. The piece to be performed is "Brundibar", composed and regularly performed at Theriesenstadt under the Nazis. The show is Sold Out under SRO. Members of the Berkeley Symphonic will accompany under the direction of Benjamin Simon. Other events of this Festival continue at the Berkelely Richmond Jewish Community Center on Walnut.
Country Joe McDonald performed Friday and Saturday at the Live Oak, also in Berkeley, promoting his new CD, which is available from the internet only. Go to www.countryjoe.com.
Pharoah Sanders, onetime associate of John Coltrane, blows out the stops at Yoshis on Monday night, while Richard Thompson does the Fillmore in a solo show.
THE CONTINUING SAGA OF THE REDOUBTABLE PAIR
You may recall the descendents of Oog, continued to live by the Bay, running the old ferry concern between Babylon and Rancho San Antonio, while Aag's people headed for the hills, came down and became the first cowboys some fifty years before Texas started peddling its bull. Since the term cowboy didn't exist and Aag's people didn't know or want to know hardly any English, they called themselves vaqueros and that suited them just fine for a while. Since being a cowboy was dirty, dangerous low-paid work, most white peoples stayed away from the profession, so instead of John Wayne, you should imagine someone like Crispin Glover, Denzel Washington, or Cheech Marin playing the part.
Tiburcio inherited the ferry business and was making a fine living as the various trading posts developed into towns and changed nationalities like hats until one day he was met on the wharf by a feller named Horace who told him in no uncertain terms that he was heretofore and hereafter not to set foot on the dock himself or any passengers as the newly formed Public Gain Endeavor (PG&E) corporation setup by himself now ran the place under the auspices of the new village of Oaktown. When Tiburcio objected and brought his ferry to a place a little north of the dock, Horace slapped a half-dozen suits of the legal kind upon him and whupped him upside the head with ex post facto arguments of the most authoritative kind.
In court it devolved and evolved that the whole ferry thing had been "deregulated" from unlawful monopoly and so Oaktown had signed exclusive rights for ferry stuff to Horace, who, it turned out, now owned all the waterfront and had become chief councilperson to boot. So now Horace's ferries went back and forth across the deregulated Bay to the exclusion of anyone else.
In exchange for all this pleasant stuff Horace got, he used his lawyering skills to basically deregulate the owners of Rancho San Antonio of all their land, which Horace sold in generous lots to squatters. Then it turned out Horace had no right to do that, so he made the original owners pay him a few thousand bucks to get the land back, but the squatters stayed put.
In the meantime, Horace's PG and E set precedents that later entities would follow by building a bridge between Oaktown and the hamlet of Brooklyn, then eliminating all access to Brooklyn except over the bridge, then set a toll on passage over it. He then stuffed the ballot box with fake votes from the forceably absorbed Brooklyn and became Mayor of the combined city, which he then made build even better docking facilities on the waterfront and then turn over to PG&E to run the ferries. He was happy to see so many people going over the water on his ferries to SF, for he obtained land over there as well.
When Tiburcio tried to once again re-institute the ferry business, he claimed he had been born into the ferry business on the land and had every right to make passage. Horace stopped him at the new docks, stating he was from Harvard and Tiburcio's birthright made no difference, cause the people had voted the deregulation and the contracts and there was nothing he could do about it and this was the land of Golden Opportunity Manifest Destiny and Free Enterprise. Get offa my land, repeated Horace.
So Tiburcio got off of the land and gave up the ferry business and needing some form of income went up to the hills to try his hand at gold mining.
He was met by fellers coming down, who were heading back to Sonora down south as a new regulation rule had been passed tossing out all the foreigners and they informed Tiburcio that especially included any mestiza born in country.
So Tiburcio, needing a way to make ends meet and seeing the way of capitalism at last, changed his name to Joaquin and took up the old and honorable profession of land agent, sometimes called Highwayman. He lived a long time, made lots of money and many friends. Meanwhile Horace got tired of making so much money and returned to New York City where he died at age 92 in his bed of natural causes.
It has been said about Horace that he was the sort of man who, were he to be stranded on a Pacific Island, would sell maps to the fellow castaways and if the natives should kill and eat him, no one would have minded a bit. Let that stand as his epitaph.
The old man of Rancho San Antonio sold what is now the Island to a couple of guys who were among the few to successfully frustrate Horace, who tried to seize this land as well. These fellows were stern and upright puritans who built a lot of churches. Squatters took their land anyway. Any coincidence between events of then and events of today has been remarked upon; but nobody can do a damn thing about it anyway.
That's the way it is on the Island. Turn out the lights when you leave.
MARCH 18, 2001
We have to apologize for the low level of about-town items lately, as our vehical's alternator has rested in various pieces about the garage, and this has put a serious crimp in our style. But now everything is put back together and the mistakes of the previous "professional" mechanic have been rectified and even the weather has improved.
THE ONION FIELD REVISITED
The SF Bay Curmudgeon ran a doubtful piece on the shooting death of a tramp in the Beltline area, and did a fine number on missing much of the facts in the case in an effort to pin another one on the Thin Blue Line. Babylon cops in hooker basements and LA cops on a Ramparts rampage and even Oaktown with the Riders, sure, but IPD practicing Dirty Harry? Most of the time those guys chase nothing more harmless than a treed kitten. In any case, turns out the tramp, billed as a non-violent type, had been sent to Villa Fairmont on three-day 5150 holds several times and had already been stopped while threatening people with a butcher knife more than once. While this does not excuse the slipshod investigation of a cop who has already dropped two others under questionable circumstances, we think shoddy investigation should not be duplicated by even shoddier journalism. Shame, shame.
If the City besides the Bay needs to pick on a small town PD, they could always look up how the Island lost its only jail because the wardens couldnt learn to behave and keep it in their pants. Now there's a story . . .
DOG IS MY COPILOT
You know your life has lost meaning when your favorite weekly columnist fails to deliver on time. The SF Bleakly showed up in newsracks conspicuously missing Dog Bites this week. Even though Laurel Wellman might be a fiction along the lines of Max Headroom, we find that missing her winsome voice puts a crimp in the week, it does. The columnist, who has received numerous marriage proposals -- certainly to be a shocker if it comes out the voice has no body to back it up -- has developed quite a large cult following. Don't worry guys; she's probably hanging out with Thomas Pynchon up in the north woods somewhere.
WHAT ELSE COULD GO WRONG?
The stocks are diving deeper than Jaques Costeau, the energy crunch shows no signs of letting up and the Texas Idiot continues to make pronouncements that are as effective as, well, as Ronnie Raygun's memory. The tab for the energy bailout -- up to this point for what has already been spent -- stands at somewhere near 4 billion dollars.
THE OLD SOD
St. Paddy's day - fergeddit they don't do it in Ireland and they don't eat corned beef. I've got a diploma from Oilscoil na Eiranne to back up my statements.
ADIEU TO THAT WACKY PAIR
We last left the Ferry system in charge of the dastardly mastermind of Public Greedy Enterprise twirling his moustaches as he lorded over the helpless Bay. Aag had become a vaquero, and Oog had become an outlaw. Enough of that for now, for History, as we all know, is a pack of truth shuffled so many times it comes out as lies. Besides, way back in PolyHigh days, we paid no attention, but flung spitballs during class. Ah the nostalgia. Never the less, here is a true story. I swear I am not making any of this up for I never have told a lie in my life.
Even as Oog rambled about the mountains with his band of merry men to the chagrin of the Wells Fargo stages, there resided in the neighborhood of Brooklyn one Jackass by the improbable name of Tallulah Bankhead, who went by Tally for short. Now Tally was owned by one Festus Jacinto McFergus, who hailed from the the wilds of Virginia, but whose father had obtained a desueno from the old government for some land on what was thought at the time to be an Island, before learning Spanish and becoming a solid citizen. Festus managed to lose the land when it turned out the place was fully landlocked and full of gold that he could not hold onto so he settled down by Brooklyn to run a livery stable and wagon repair shop.
Now Tally worked hard -- for a jackass -- for her oats and had few faults common to the species except for one and that one proved to be the undoing of both her and her owner. For Tally had been owned by the Franciscan Friars before coming into the hands of Festus and the Friars had treated Tally with their customary liberal use of the lash at every whim and fault. Furthermore, the particular stable where Tally had been housed -- the Franciscans in those days could not abide any living thing to roam free without sticking it behind bars or a wall -- had caused to be painted on each stall the image of that holy and revered saint amongst them, Father Junipero Bippy-Huragh. One day, old Tally took it into her head, in the way jackasses sometimes do, that she could not abide this insult to her feed and so kicked the painting in her stall to pieces. Then, taken out through the corral, she ran over to the statue of Bippy-Huragh standing in the middle of a fountain and kicked that one clean over the pool.
The response from the flagellant friars was as predictable as it was ineffective. Even as Tally went through the entire east side of the church, kicking out any stained glass that bore an image of a tonsured man wearing a robe she was pronounced an heretical Medodist and full of Lutheranism and would have met her end right there except for the cook, who had taken a shine to her and pled for mercy. Now, anyone who knows friars knows that for all the self-denial and self-whipping in closets, the friars cannot abide anything to come in the way of a good feed, so the cook held particular sway, Nevertheless, something had to be done and done quickly. Before the place could be rendered a shambles by one jackass -- the official dissolution of the missions had already passed and things were bad enough -- Tally was put on the block up north (where no one would know of her peculiarities) and so Festus came into ownership of one peculiar jackass of whose history he knew nothing.
Now the days past in honest labor as troupes of idiots ran up to the mines to hunt for gold and then trouped back broke and hopeless past just as many rushing back up again. Eventually people realized that gold does not "grow" in water, that it is a mineral and that just as much labor must be spent digging it out of the earth-- and usually more -- as working in a comfortable office, and so everybody who was not making a killing selling shovels and placer pans went away to mine for silver in Nevada in places where the nearest drink of water for hundreds of miles might be in the form of a lizard crawling across a rock -- if you were so inclined to eat one alive -- but not before the miners really screwed up the land and killed each other with appalling frequency.
So that was the end of the Gold Rush.
But notwithstanding Yellow Fever, highway robbery, backbreaking work, rabid double-crossing, outlandish avarice, unrestricted gambling, wholesale destruction of the watershed, poor diets of beans and salt beef, racism of the worst kind, murder, land grabbing, and whoring of every description, when it was all over, there remained a few -- there are ALWAYS a few -- who began to wax nostalgic about the "good old days" and they wrote about the tough yet sentimental 49'er and all the the pleasant whatnot in the rustic days of yore -- even though those days of yore were barely a decade past.
Anyway, this was not to be a history lesson but a story about a particular jackass named Tally and times in which she lived. Let the story continue.
Along came the annexation of Brooklyn to Oaktown and what should follow from the founding of great city but parties and galas. The founder of the famous Black and White Ball was not, as commonly believed any 20th century matriarch, but one Beatrice Jacinto Lapunta. BJ, as she was affectionately called, set the first BW ball not in rough and rowdy Frisco, but in pleasant Oaktown, America's Family City. You can still see this sign commemorating Oaktown from the subway, ensconced amid picturesque body shops and acres of Pick-yer-Part yards.
Any rate, BJ had it in mind one year to hold a festive ball propelled with a nostalgic history theme. Just as today there would be several stages decorated according to theme, between which the gaily decorated participants would throng back and forth. She invited representatives from all of the major powers of Europe, Asia and Africa.
Now I just know you can see this coming already, so we'll spare the suspense.
Festus, now a venerable 70, decided to haul his wagon into town pulled by the, by now very antiquated Tally and assisted by a couple more capable steeds. So it was that the night of the Centennial Black and White ball, Festus pulled up within sight of the particular stage that honored "Preconquest California", and disembarking from the cab was absolutely astonished to see Tally break loose from her traces and go galloping off god knows where. Much put out by this strain of events, but determined to make the best of it any how, Festus left his man in charge of the wagon and went off to enjoy himself among the celebrants, Dame McFergus upon his arm.
Not an hour had passed when his man came running to fetch Fergus to come rescue his prime jackass and furthermore save the city from certain disaster.
Now, it should be imagined that Tally was no ordinary jackass but one of gifted intelligence, and exceptionally astute perception, albeit somewhat stubborn. When the near 40 year-old animal perceived her arch-nemisis Bippy-Huragh -- in the form of a statue standing at the gate to the arena -- she must have realized that with so many people about she could not possibly stand a chance. So, the jackass kicked free, ran back home, fetch a number of other jackasses and ran back. Together the herd of them invaded the courtyard and began kicking the holy hell out of every image of the old conquistador friar that they could find as well as any image of any man wearing a robe, for 70 years puts a certain patina upon things such that no poor jackass could remember just how the man really looked. In addition, any man or woman so foolish as to try to intervene got sent sailing half a block for his or her pains, including the Potentate of India and the Ambassador of Ethiopia.
Now it so happened that BJ had commissioned in her fancy numerous life-sized alabaster images of the saint to be placed all over the plaza and it was these that the jackasses commenced to demolish with great thunderous kicks of the hind hooves, which must have sounded like a battalion of bazookas had anyone at that time ever heard such an appliance. From there, a few of them got loose and ran over to the Oaktown cathedral -- which had not yet burnt down as it was to do in 1906 -- and began wrecking the place thoroughly.
Into this melee strode Festus, who, of course, could do absolutely nothing, but who could and did recognize the brand on his own jackass.
To bring the matter to a close, the matter which became known as "The Jackasses Who Destroyed the Priceless Statues", lived longer in infamy than did Tally, who ended up as several moderately priced bars of soap. Festus was charged with unlawful assembly and parading without a permit, among other things, but was released with the stern injunction to keep his fool jackasses in line or hell to pay. BJ became the First Matriarch of California, and there are many who say even today that a particular Jackass was to blame.
At the end of the day, let it be said that if any jackass out there makes of himself an international nuisance, committing numerous improprieties and insults to decent people, then it just might be that he shall be turned into several bars of moderately priced soap. If not in the present, then certainly in the hereafter.
MARCH 30, 2001
Something about working 14 hour shifts through the weekend puts a crimp in one's deadlines.
The latest news is of PiGGiE getting what it wanted all along -- massive rate hikes to cover the "unrecoverable" costs of decommissioning the cracked and broken atom power plants. So what else is new?
Bushy is cloaking himself in ermine mantles of religiousity even while a very devout group somewhat east of here is blasting holy hell out of priceless two thousand-year old statues of Buddha.
Local news is the filming of parts of Matrix II here in Oaktown and on the Island. Crews were treated to a block-long feed on Wednesday before shooting in the Posey Tube, built in 1928. If you think Mayor Moon wasn't beaming about this delightful publicity for the city that vied with Washington, D.C. as Murder Capitol of the World you are swimming in a lake of delusion. Oaktown has gone from bad ass body shop site to Yuppieville during hizzoner's reign. The other Brown on the other side of the Bay hasn't been so lucky, as one-bedroom apartments are now advertising for something like $4,000 and up, plunging Babylon by the Bay into a white-flight crisis as anybody who has abiltity and sense bolts out of there for reasonable pastures.
Locally, the news is that about 70% of the renters are planning on leaving town -- for where is pretty unclear as the rental malaise appears to be endemic all over. Fortunately, the streets will be safer for casual walkers for Officer O'Madhaun has implemented a "pedestrian decoy" program to catch those notorious felons.
That's the way it is on this overworked Island. Have a great week.
APRIL 1, 2001
THERE IS NO SPOON; YOU ARE THE SPOON
Big wind in town is the crew filming the sequel to the Matrix, which brings back teen idol Keanu Reeves to reprise his starring role as the feller who chose the blue pill and became saviour to the humans in a world run entirely by machines. The star cast for the Sci Fi thriller, also featuring Lawrence Fishburne, held a Buddhist ceremony in front of City Hall followed by a block-long BBQ feed out of the Social Services building down on 400 Broadway close in proximity to the Island tube, where traffic was halted for a day to shoot chase scenes complete with simulated crashes and gunfire. Hey, old stuff for Oakland, okay?
If you have not seen the original, check it out, for the 1999 sleeper featured a host of CGI effects and unexpected acting surprises. The edge-of-the-seat plot has producers planning Matrix III even before Matrix II is out of the can. The cast and crew will work here for 12 weeks before heading off to Australia to wrap up the world tour that began in London.
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
The Significant Other checked out the Mad Scientist's Sale over at the Crucible foundry works in Oaktown. The Sale of exotic and antiquated equipment serves to fund the industrial arts oriented Crucible works, where people come to learn casting, welding and other artistic forms of mayhem among like-minded souls. Where else can you get a tube-driven optical Occilloscope for under a c-note?
BANGING ON THOSE BONGOS LIKE A CHIMPANZEE
We've been a little abstracted from the music scene, what with recalcitrant alternators, attacks by killer bees and through-the-weekend-shift work, but its noticed that Pete Escovedo has closed his venue on the Island and is giving farewell concerts before moving down to EllAy to be with family. This space is not the only one to notice that folks are increasingly drifting over from Babylon to checkout what's happening here on this side of the Bay and its all to the good. From the 5th Amendment to Larry Blakes, the East Bay is happening and coming, finally, into its own.
Babylon still has the venerable Warfield, however, where Bela Fleck brings banjo sound to the ultimate on April 7, and Joe Jackson rocks out on the 10th. Shane McGowan of The Pogues fame sloshes into the Fillmore 4/13 and we must all wait patiently until 4/29 for Iggy Pop.
If you kept awake, you knew Branford Marsalis performed today at Davies Hall Faure's Pavane and Milhaud's La Creation du Monde, plus others.
With the Starry Plough and Gilman Street continuing to host the usual suspects, your musical life should be delightfully complete and fully satisfying, not unlike an oatcake from Higher Grounds.
ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT MY LIFE IS VERY PLAIN
On Saturday, the Ace Hardware folks on the Island were startled by a swarm of not less than 30,000 bees, by estimation of a local beekeeper. The bees took roost, or nest or whatever, just adjacent to the main customer parking lot, leading to a fair amount of curses and threats for wrongful injury suit from customers. This caused, as you may imagine, a fair amount of disruption in the daily routine until the recalcitrant bees were captured and vacuumed up by the whitesuited beekeeper.
The beekeeper, a New Jersey native named Vernon, enjoined people not to swat upon any circumstances. "That'll just make the whole swarm really mad and believe me, you don't want that on your hide."
The sidebar to this story involves the original bee owner -- if someone can be called that -- who came by looking for his errant bees with a desire to have them back. "They just took off without permission", the man said. But by then the bees had been disposed of, sort of speak.
Somehow we had to get our window-less vehical through this comedy and get to work each day.
That's how it is on the Island three days into Spring. Don't forget to set your clocks ahead.
APRIL 9, 2001
By now it is common knowledge that the third largest bankruptcy ever seen by this country is now busily ensuring that this State and this Union now go through yet another deep Depression and that the political career of Gov. Gray Davis is now over and finished. Hours after handing huge bonuses all around the management offices, PGE, or PiggE, filed chapter 11. The situation is so aweful that even the Democrats have forgotten to rub their hands together with glee at what will result certainly in the ouster of two decades of GOP dominance in the Governor's seat of this 35 million-strong State. The utility, which served 17 million people had investments extending around the globe, and its own stocks were considered at one time to be solid blue-chip values by S&P. The shock waves from this one are going to pound shores far distant from here for some time.
CENSUS - WHOSE GOT THE NUMBERS?
Sole trend-bucker of the area, the Island lost 4,200 persons since the Base closure, notwithstanding the rabid development building that has been wrecking our mornings with jackhammers. Somewhere near 72,000 souls puts the Island square in the Bay Area minor leagues. As a correction to previous columns, we learn that Babylon has grown by 7% -- resulting in somewhat less than 1% growth per annum over 10 years. By contrast, Solano County has swelled by 35% and Silicon Valley by 35-50%. Of course, the events of the last three months may invalidate all these figures entirely.
THE RICH ARE NOT LIKE YOU AND ME
Speaking of Silly Cone Valley, we chanced upon the PA Daily News, where your "modest one bedroom cottage" runs for about $750,000 and learned that several priceless Rodin statues were reclaimed from a "garage sale". For about 200 thou a piece, it seems. Some garage. In other news, a gentleman, loosely termed as such, was arrested for planting an "electronic tracking device" under a former girlfriend's car, also in Palo Wallow. The man also is suspected of sending a bomb to her present boyfriend which nearly tore off the man's arm.. Sounds like this is one relationship with hella baggage.
DODGERS LEAVE NEW YORK: DECIDE BIG APPLE TOO CROWDED
Well, something on the same scale anyway. Pete Escovedo, East Bay Resident and Native, has given his farewell concert here before departing for Ell Ay. Pete has been an institution here for decades, but the problems with music support that have afflicted virtually every band, from evicted rehearsal space to closed venues have convinced the world-famous congolero to take his business elsewhere. Also departing this month is the vibrant Ramona the Pest, taking at least two more quality musicians away. Okay you greedy landlords, NOW are you happy? Meanwhile, we note that the collapse of the dot-com economy has left the big former Downtown Rehearsal building shuttered and empty after thousands of paying musicians were forced to vacate. There it stands as a monument to folly and greed, still.
KEEP IT STUPID, SIMPLE
You might have missed the annual St. Stupid's Day parade on April 1st. Maybe you didn't. This march of the world's largest religion, easily beating Islam and Christianity by miles, takes place in Babylon each year, and is the only event at which the SF Tac Squad has been known to smile. Provided you can prove you are an idiot, membership is automatic, and hence free.
WHY IS THIS NIGHT DIFFERENT?
Let the Stranger enter, for in his robes, perhaps the Prophet walks. All of us have baked salt bread in a hurry, moistened the adobe with blood and sweat, walked over the ocean with dry feet. Each of us has been a slave to people and things we could not have imagined. Tonight the child asks questions and looks for the missing piece of the gift and we lean on cushions as if in our little squats we become Kings and Queens over everything. We eat mutton and haruset, remembering the pyramids. Once we were delivered from chains; perhaps if we remember these things we will be delivered again from the hard times to come. This year in fear and doubt; next year in Hope and Truth..
That's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
APRIL 15, 2001
As the State's power troubles -- soon to be national ones -- continue to spin out yet more troubles to an administration gone entirely into helpless shock, the Island has quietly arranged for two 3 megawatt mobile power plants to be delivered on lease with option to buy. Plans are in the works to removed the Island entirely from the state power grid by a variety of means. There may be a temporary boom at the stock market, but the power problem is not going away any time soon.
We've been busy lately with the shifting of operations to a new and more expansive server, so haven't had much time for getting about, however we were pleased to see that the madhouse on Lincoln continues to display its dadaistic slogans. The latest being:
We suppose this to be a reference to the captured US spy plane still in the hands of the Chinese, but looking for rationality in these cryptic messages painted on the side of a fence facing the Island's busiest street takes the joy out of things.
The Significant Other and I took in renowned jazz vocalist Flora Purim with Airto and others at Yoshis. The pair brought down the house after opening with a scorching latin-inflected version of Brubeck's "Take Five". Far from the cool school detachment of academic jazz, this pair had the house rocking on their feet to the back of the room with their special brand of latin scat and jazz samba, returning jazz to its roots as a dance vehical. The remarkable percussionist Airto performed an astonishing narrative piece with only a tamborine, whistle and pre-linguistic vocals. The ensemble did two works written by guitarist Sandro Albert -- armed with a Gibson semi-hollow body. Gary Meek performed well on sax and clarinet. Bill Cantos provided keyboards and vocals, while Gary Brown did very well with six-string electric bass. Jimmy Brandy filled in for a couple numbers on drums. A good time was had by all, and the quality of the musicianship gave the reason that more and more visitors are coming over from the other side of the Bay to hear quality sound.
That's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
APRIL 21, 2001
WHAT CAN YOU DO? WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The music world morns the passing of Joey Ramone, age 49 and one month shy of his birthday. Joey fronted the seminal band the Ramones which established the 2 minute furious energy of the punk rock movement in the mid-seventies and blazed the way for hundreds of spin-off styles characterized by short, to the point, take-no-prisoners rock as America slid into the awful depression times of the Reagan-Bush years and England sank beneath impoverished Thatcherism. Eventually punk passed through the hands of bands like the Sex Pistols , who took punk esthetics to the ends of self-destructive extremes while the more vital elements developed into what became the Pacific Northwest "grunge". Attempts to perpetuate punk in pure form rose to heights through bands like Social Distortion, but the pure idealism of punk often led to self-parody and the Ramones found it difficult to keep together for gigs in a world where any suburban teen could go down to the shopping mall to get a "crazy do" in spikes and fluorescent orange while getting another piercing in the name of fashion.
Nevertheless, the raw energy of the early days is what the Ramones are remembered for, as well as their frequently successful effort to yank music from the sloth of mechanical disco and boring, self-involved arena rock. Joey's musical legacy continues to this day in the form of the many "alternative" bands and their use of the hard-driving downstroke rhythms as well as the demolition of the stultifying "guitar-god" solo that so many inadequate musicians felt a need to pursue. The current popularity of Green Day attests to the value of gold found by the Ramone in a mountain of "white trash". In terms of the punk aesthetic, the irreverent socially-aware realism that pulled self-respect out of an amorphous oppression against an entire class of people still continues. RIP Joey.
EXCEPT BEAT ON THE BRAT WITH A BASEBALL BAT. OH YEAH! OH YEAH!
By now even East Coasters are hearing about the Bay Area's music troubles. This Saturday saw the farewell appearance of the increasingly successful Ramona the Pest before they head off to the more affordable climes of Arizona. In the last four months, that leaves Chis Isaak evicted from his rehearsal space, Pete Escovedo moving to LA, Ramona moving to Arizona and several thousand unsigned bands pulling up stakes as well. Its getting so that even those in Babylon are coming to the East Bay to hear music. The in-crowd is much a-buzz over the California Bammie awards being shifted out of Babylon to Oaktown this year. They say that His Most High Holiness, Willie Brown, has taken to stalking the corridors of the Mayoral palace late at night, humming little songs to himself and wringing his hands. Didn't know "Out Out damn spot" could be set to music, but as the much cherished Big Businesses drop Babylon locations in droves even as ever more, shock!, liberals overwhelm the Board of Supervisors to dismantle the Brown apparatus Hizzoner has begun to feel the real weight of that fedora that rounds the mortal temples of the King. In one contentious BOS meeting, one of the young upstarts had the effrontery to turn to Brown and call his proposition a "sack of shit."
This, Mr. Willie Brown, Mayor of Babylon, did not take well. Neither with grace nor with pleasure. And so he stormed out.
Over in Oaktown, where the BOS meetings may be contentious, but where even Hagarty keeps a civilized tongue and there is no profanity, Oaktown can boast the worlds tallest container crane, the worlds third largest container port, the host site of the Bammie awards, screen location of the Matrix II together with London and Sydney, home to Zoetrope studios owned by August Coppola, a rapidly declining crime-rate, and where the people still know how to talk politely to one another.
Clutching the tattered remains of shredded culture, society matrons with moth-eaten hats pull their shedding faux furs about themselves this week at the SF International Film Festival, which has done the most obvious and most flamboyant symbol of its irrelevance by honoring The Man with No Name, Clint Eastwood, for lifetime achievement. Now, sure, the guy did some capable adventure and western flicks, more notable for Serge Leone's direction and cinematography than shades of fine acting by any standard, and the guy got to be Mayor -- but being elected is not part of movie business, although acting plays a large part -- but lifetime achievement? He has been a director, sure. At least two films he made were good ones: the Charlie Parker biopic starring the very talented Denzel Washington titled Bird, and Straight No Chaser, a Thelonius Monk vehicle. But two fairly decent pics do not a career make. It's like giving Arnold Schwartzenegger a Pulitzer for the Terminator series.
Yeah, you can like the guy, personally. You may or may not adhere to his NRA positions and far rightist ideologies, but still. Is all this enough? Hollywood has always directed a curiously blind eye towards the genuineness of the human soul. Witness the recent public honoring of Kazan, one of Hollywood's most objectionable human beings -- and that is saying a mouthful about a pool loaded with piranhas and pond scum -- but Kazan at least did something, besides act like history's cheapest asshole during the McCarthy witch hunts.
The Bay Curmudgeon seems to be the only paper that has called attention to this disparity in the Eastwood honorarium, making a perhaps unkind comparison to the great John Ford whom Eastwood in no way resembles in stature, style or quality. The other person honored this evening, should anyone wish to attend for the price of a $500 ticket, is Stockard Channing. Enough said.
BRUCIE WAS A PUNK ROCKER
Speaking of the BC, looks like the SF Bleakly and the Curmudgeon have started a little journalistic tiff between themselves, as the Bleakly accuses editor and publisher Bruce Brugman of concealing contributions to MUD, a local non-profit that has been seeking to seize city power from PGE and put it in control of City-owned government. Bruce, in riposte, has published quarter-page ads detailing the amounts contributed and reiterating his unequivocal stance on public power. Stand back folks and place your bets.
GABBA GABBA HEY!
We are somewhat gruntled, semi-gruntled if you may say so, that the Bleakly has resurrected Dog Bites in the form of a sidebar by various contributors, absent the brilliant voice of Laurel Wellman who abruptly disappeared from the masthead several weeks ago. She, with her eternal search for the just the right nail polish to go with the couch from Nordstroms gave the City a much needed boost in the humor muscles, even though this Laurel Wellman probably was a fictional concoction. C'mon guys, we all miss her. It's not like being in bed with your beloved; you know, you can still fake it or something. Or can't you just find Laurel wherever she is hiding and give her a charge card for Macy's?
On the Island, where things like Film Festivals and Ikea take a backseat to critical issues like the downtown Dogwalk, City Hall is in an uproar by the abrupt closing of Lyons Restaurant by the Beach. Appears that the attempt to market the place as a "luxury restaurant" met with dour looks everywhere, and positioning the big booth windows to face the parking lot away from the beach 100 feet away proved to be an unwise architectural decision. Some people never learn.
Any rate, there will be no column next week as me and the Significant Other will be downing Hurricanes in the Big Easy while exploring the Circle of Fifths and how to square it. That's how it is on the Island. Have a great couple of weeks.
MAY 6, 2001
And a happy Cinco de Mayo to you all. Me and the Significant Other just got back from the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which even now is finishing up its final day at the fairgrounds. Record numbers packed the Crescent City for this musical extravaganza that pulls well over 1000 musicians from all over the world to perform on 12 stages plus the hundreds of venues after hours. Several airlines booked well over 5,000 seats beyond the scheduled flights to push the hotel vacancy rate to under 1%. The rooms to be had needed to have been booked 9 months in advance and some restaurants had reservation cards going back for three years. It appears, the Big Easy has something going on and people know about it in numbers. First weekend pulled well over 210,000 jazz fans to the fairgrounds to hear BB King, Richard Thompson, Buckwheat Zydeco and a host of other stars.
The Significant Other and I attended the first day of the Fest among record-breaking crowds to enjoy the cornicopia of music. There was so much of world-class playing that we found ourselves wandering back and forth across the fairgrounds from stage to stage all day, pausing for a bowl of cajun-style gulf prawns. We did stop long enough to enjoy most of renowned folk-singer Richard Thompson who delighted the capacity-filled field with brisk, tight solo playing and whimsical humor. Who else can sing a song about King Tut's son and hold the interest of 70,000 jazz afficiondos?
The Festival was practically owned that day by BB King, for whom fans packed the Acura stage area so tight that hours before his brief set, the location experienced people-gridlock. No one could enter or leave.
Outside the Fairgrounds, the 1000+ musicians and fans had plenty to do, and it was not necessary to stand in the notorious Louisiana sun to hear most of the Greats. We took a stroll through the Storyville District and sat through three extraordinary sets in the venue that shares the name with the former redlight section of town.
There we took in the astonishing energy of Marcia Ball, whom I mistook from the promo materials for a lounge-act diddle-bop chanteuse before she took the stage. Ball walked up on stage wearing a homespun dress and foundation makeup and then proceeded to tear the house down with galloping barrelhouse rocking piano backed by a very hot band. After ripping through a signature piece called "Keep My Fingernails on When I Play", she stops the set and told everybody to go next door to hear Hentry Butler, "If you wanna hear a real master of the keyboards."
With no place to sit in the SRO packed room, we sidled and elbowed our way through the crowd to the Storyville's second room to catch Hentry Butler launch into one of the most amazing demonstrations of piano every heard, with echos of Bo Diddley, Keith Jarrett, Elton John, Chopin, Dr. John, Fats Waller, Mozart, Franz Lizt, Little Richard and god knows what else played in sequence and sometimes simultaneously. If Jazz has anything to do with taking what has gone before and dweezling the melody with swing, then this cat definitely fits the bill as he, apparently effortlessly, combined classical, pop, contemporary jazz and good old fashioned rock 'n roll. Joe Bob says, "Check him out."
Escaping the maelstrom that is Bourbon Street, where five bands in one block failed to join with the engines of the Texas Hells Angels to bring down the noise of several thousand thoroughly drunk revelers, we headed down to Decatur, where the noise settled into a dull roar. Inside the Palm Court Cafe we were lucky to hear, after plates of savory gumbo the "house" band led by Clive Wilson, who began with traditional dixieland material, worked through Preservation style jazz, tossed in a few swing numbers, passed through the blues, and, continuing the history lesson got joined by international trombone luminary Steve Turre for a set. Fellows passing through with various instruments had to step aside as one famous light after another took a seat for a few songs, finally ending with the incomparable Michael Weiss on Piano for an extended Monk-inflected version of Ellington's classic "Caravan". The patroness of the house practically got on her knees to thank some of the stars that showed up that evening. Wouldn't you?
New Orleans is a large southern city, mostly below sea-level, and virtually islanded by branched of the Mississippi delta. I tried jogging in that sealevel 99% humidity funk exactly once, and found that the hotel treadmill had more controlled an atmosphere. As for the food, in the common creole cuisine very little French influence is to be found -- virtually no white sauces of any kind found anywhere except at the very exclusive Hotel Sonestra Sunday Brunch, where you can gain 20 pounds just by looking at the food. As for the famous Red Fish Grill, this party says emphatically, "Skip it!". Wildly overpriced, moderately flavored and highly pretentious equivalent to mediocre Chinese on Telegraph Avenue; no way world class. For a redfish surrogate tossed in a broiler too long and dished with tastless sides of rice and greens any teenager could steam up you pay an even fifty bucks my friend.
We were more fortunate with Le Bistro, a miniscule attachment to the Hotel De La Ville, where Patrick van Hoorebeek oversees chefs that go on to staff the country's most prestigious five-star establishments. There, everything, from the excellent service by Donna Meyer, to the exquisite spinach salat dressed with European-style vinagrette and chunks of blue cheese complemented by first-rate wines from an intelligently created wine list adds up with the delecately-prepared entrees to a true 4-star experience.
We enjoyed the meal so much at this eatery recalled by my companion for over 10 years, that we returned for lunch the following day and were rewarded with bottles of the limited-issue Langiappe beer, issued by the proprietor on the house.
Let us say that if you go to New Orleans, do not plan on sticking to the diet, for the place -- even in the most touristy parts -- supports hearty, belly satisfying food. It tends, unless it is the aforementioned Bistro or Hotel Sonestra, to be a kind of toss the newsprint on the table and get your elbows up kind of place. Also, although we noticed a fair number of kids in strollers, this is primarily a place for adults and adult entertainment and there is not a whole lot of provision for kids under eighteen on Bourbon street. As for Mardi Gras, you would have to be thoroughly insane to bring kids into that madness of intoxication and public nudity. Be real about it.
Also, I was pleased to travel with an informed companion who told me that New Orleans hosts one of the largest mental hospitals in the South and this became quite evident on Sunday, as the wilder crowds thinned out. The Crescent City has been around a while and like all older, large cities it has its problems with crime and homelessness and the folks sleeping in doorways and eating garbage can not be denied. Word is: keep the kids under very close supervision if you bring 'em.
Also, keep in mind that the native population is strongly roman catholic with strongly-rooted beliefs in conventional morality and "good behavior". Yes, they like to have a good time, but Bourbon Street is not New Orleans is not Louisiana. Outside of the Quarter, you best behave yourselves.
Musicians: of course you will go. The question is not if, but when. When you do, keep in mind some of the rules are different there. If you get invited to sit in, you will note the postage-stamp sized stages and the annoying flash of pocket cameras, which are not discouraged in the slightest. The idea is that everyone is a bit uncomfortable and the camera strobes are part of the whole thing. Live with it; you gotta know your chops by heart. There was not a single sheet stand evident in several hundred places we passed through. As for sound boards, you live also with what you get. Almost everything is acoustic passing through air to stationary mikes.
As a last note on the food, you will note that not a single dish, saltwater or fresh, features Mississippi catch. Ironically, alligator (something I had developed a taste for in Texas) is as rare as original cheetah fur. This appears to be a function of the inevitable pollution of the river after it has passed many thousands of miles from its origins at Lake Itasca down to the delta. Mudbugs they got -- for these are grown in special ponds isolated for the purpose -- but the famed Mississippi cat is also rarely found on the menu, and when it is, you will invariably find it breaded and fried. All seafood comes from the gulf and with mudbugs, prawns, oysters and scallops you will have plenty to do to work off those calories. As for kosher, fegeddit. With its ham-laced muffalettas and shellfish, trayf is what you get everywhere. Not to say there is not a large population of good people in the Garden District, but they have special ways of dealing with the diet.
And lastly, there is a note for our friends under the flag of Lamba. A powerful contingent of gays flourishes in New Orleans and several bars bordering Treme cater to the gay population. Just keep in mind you are in the Deep South, dude, and if it is not Mardi Gras, the same rules apply. Be safe.
Dr. John admires the crowd at the Fairgrounds on Saturday. Also performing were the Wallflowers and Max Roach.
MAY 13, 2001
Today is Mother's Day and we would be severely remiss in not paying tribute to our most favorite Mother. So here we go with a picture and some words:
Not to completely lose sight of today's meaning, here is a quote from Frank, founder of the Mother's of Invention in 1966.
(FRANK on KIDS: "Well, my children certainly have decided not to grow up like me. They don't smoke. They don't eat hamburgers or bacon. They find their own way. I just want to keep them out of trouble and make sure that they can get to adulthood with some sort of marketable skill and a chance for a happy life on their own terms. I don't want them to be like me or like Gail. They should be like them. And they should be as well equipped to be themselves as possible. As parents we have to do everything to give them the equipment to be themselves, so that when they go out into the world they can maintain their identity and still survive.")
This is, of course, the man who named his son Dweezil, and his daughter, MoonUnit.
In a 1971 Life interview with the Zappa family, Frank's mother had this to say about her 189 I.Q. son with several Platinum records to his credit:
"The thing that makes me mad about Frank," she says, "is that his hair is curlier than mine and blacker."
On other fronts, we welcome the annual return of Spring to the Bay Area with overcoats, mittens and earmuffs as the record heat dropped from the 90's down to the usual 55 and cloudy. The Significant Other and I had to forgo KFOG's annual Kaboom! down by the Babylon wharf due to various infections and injuries, but the affair apparently went off well with a slimmed-down John Popper leading Blues Traveler with his frenetic mouth harp up to dark and the fireworks. Also playing earlier in the day were the Bay Area's Mother Hips.
On Tuesday, local Clown-About-Town Wavy Gravy will hold his 65th birthday bash up in Berzerkeley. Now this birthday shall not be your ordinary birthday as this celebration will be a fundraiser for the Berkeley-based medical organization, Seva. And Mr. Gravy is not your ordinary clown, either, for his friends coming to help put on the dog include Bob Weir, Hot Tuna, Dr. John, Maria Muldaur, Mickey Hart, Paul Kantner and Box Set. Talk about a kid's party!
Wavy Gravy has long been a popular star in his hometown and, given his profession is that of clown, he has done pretty well for himself. His camp for kids in the Marin highlands has provided summer escapes for regular and exceptional kids for well on several generations and no open-air affair in Berzerkeley is complete without the sight of this delightful figure taking his pet fish and his invisible dog for a walk.
Continuing the chain of delights at the Berkeley Community Theatre, Mark Knopfler rolls into town Thursday on a "solo" junket in support of the critically acclaimed CD, "Sailing to Philadelphia". All shows for this phenomenally talented musician sold out long ago.
Here on the Island, the kids that are not cleaning up the kitchen mess after the "mom's breakfast in bed" routine were all out lofting kites along the shoreline. For a day, no sirens wailed and no fights broke out and even the traffic behaved. The groundsquirrels scampered and two ducks wandered across the Safeway parking lot from the wildlife refuge. It was peaceful -- for once -- and all the mothers got about as much rest as could be expected.
That's the way it is on the Island, this Mother's Day. Have a great week.
MAY 20, 2001
SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH
We were deeply saddened to learn that Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe, and several other novels, collapsed at his favorite gym in Pomona and died early this week. The six-foot four athelete shot to stardom with his delightfully irreverent book that featured a supercomputer that worked on the meaning of life for two millennia before coming up with the answer "42". The book became fashioned into a popular computer game and contributed significantly to the zeitgeist of the age. A movie based on the book is in the pipeline. He was born in 1952 and here is one quote from a very quotable book:
"There are of course many problems connected with life, of which some
of the most popular are `Why are people
born?' `Why do they die?' `Why do they spend so much of the intervening time wearing digital watches?'"
Okay so its four days early, but KFOG celebrated the birth on May 24, 1941 in Minnesota of Robert Zimmerman, son of Russian-Jewish immigrants with three solid hours of music by this song-writing author of over 40 albums, internationally famous musician, and two- time Nobel Prize for Literature nominee without scratching the surface of a long and very illustrious career, the highlights of which still to this day provoke fights in bars. Happy Birthday Bob Dylan.
If its music you want, then better snap up the remaining tix to hear Old Slowhand play the Oakland Coluseum in August. Hey, the place only holds a hunnert thou. Word is, the place is close to SRO even now.
If you can't wait for August, and just have to punk out to the max, then snag tix for Live105's annual BFD fest at the Shoreline. Headliners will be Blink 182.
I GUESS HE HATED TO FLY
Charles Johnson, President for three decades of the Flat Earth Society, died recently at the age of 71, according to a recent issue of Discover magazine. Johnson was noted for having remarked that all science was pseudo-religious claptrap. Following is a quote from their website, which also refutes the existence of Idaho and North Dakota and states that all pictures of the earth taken from space are fakes.
Flat Earth Society is a nonpartisan, non-profit and nondenominational membership
organisation dedicated to improving the understanding of the nature of reality
through pataphysical inquiry, empirical investigation and the exchange of ideas.
While the Society is not a "crackpot" group, it is opposed to the fashionable, politically correct Spherical Earth theory, which is expounded every day by so-called "scientists", the media and political leaders. The Society asserts that the Earth is flat and has five sides, that all places in the Universe named Springfield are merely links in higher-dimensional space to one place, and that all assertions are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense, and true false and meaningless in some sense.
It should be noted that pataphysics, the study of phenomena based on exceptions rather than commonalities, was founded by Alfred Jarry's Dr. Faustroll, who set forth to cross the Atlantic ocean upon a boat made of a sieve, accompanied by a baboon who understood five languages, but spoke only two words in French at any occasion: "HA HA."
And that's the way it is on this Island. Have a great week.
JUNE 3, 2001
TWO FOR ONE SPECIAL
Server problems during the shift of this Site prevented the Memorial Day issue from going out. But now you get two for one this week.
Time was, we used to be more fun -- at least from the point of view of the media. Last week we had the annual Bay to Breakers run and nobody but nobody ran naked or as a quarter-mile-long centipede and the post-party whoopla at the beach went unrecognized. Instead, the Exasperator calmly reported the "winner" as if this were just another ordinary race.
Ben Harper played at the greek, and according to the unofficial reports, was well recieved. Not that tired old Gina Arnold could be convinced to fdrop her geritol and come out and actually listen to music.
In Santa Cruz an all-star line-up headed by slide wunderkind Roy Rogers blew out the stops to little notice anywhere. Then we had Carnival, a seasonally misplaced holiday that used to bring out the best and the beast in us. Any comment from Channel 5 or the Comical? Nada. By all accounts, people came, stood around and milled about like cows in the field. And now I find myself looking for my cane so as to wave it in the air while declaiming how "things" have gone down-hill and "in my day, things were different".
Just when I am about to mount my high horse, Curmudgeon, I pass by the wierd house on the corner and there see the latest sign of the times:
Suddenly, my soul is eased by the reminder that wierdness still has its place in the universe and all is not lost. At the very least, we don't live in Idaho, where it seems a family of fifteen kids armed with guns, 27 wild dogs and a schizoid mom living in a house without electricity or fresh water supply are taken as entirely normal until the FBI comes in.
It was reported the family was, although poor, "well-regarded in town", until the father died.
David Byrne performed a set of rare acoustic shows at the Fillmore recently, but apparently no local critics managed to score tickets to the sold-out performances. Byrne, more noted for his role as the geeky front man for the Talking Heads is known to be an incendiary performer unplugged. Now to where did that darn Gina Arnold run off?
Our favorite blues local, Chuck Prophet played the Starry Plough on Saturday. Extremely popular in Europe, Prophet has yet to make the big time here, but his shows never fail to please. You gotta love a guy who strolls through the crowd up to the mike and calmly sneers, "I HATE talk!", before launching into some of the tastiest blues-rock around.
Speaking of blues, Robert Cray shares the stage with Joe Louis Walker at the Fillmore on June 8th.
California has the Energy blues, but we weathered skyrocket high record-breaking temps in the triple digits last week as Bushy brought his GOP road show to Sacramento in an apparent "kick the man while he's down" ploy. Failing to get soft and snuggly with the embattled Governor Davis, Bush snubbed all reasonable plans to resolve or ameliorate the energy crisis, provoking Davis to threaten lawsuit to force Bush and minions to pony up. With the recent Vermont defection from the GOP, this energy thing shows every sign of turning the next three years into a prolonged lame duck residency. And that's a good thing.
The County has plans to build the country's largest Juvenile Hall and some folks are none too pleased. We took a stroll out by Juvie East, which sits on top of a hill just above the ever most charming Psychiatric Pavilion in sunny San Leandro. Sunny San Leandro hit temps of 110 and there is no air conditioning in the building, the DA's offices are the size of utility closets and the whole rickety structure sits on a major earthquake fault. Still, the County's move to add 600 beds for wayward youth is a bit much for people concerned about "Youth Criminalization". Recent laws aimed at curbing gang activity appear to marginalize the under-20 crowd and scads of protests are taking place.
ISLAND PEDESTRIANS UNITE!
On the somewhat more sedate Island, Pedestrian groups are getting raucous about the demented driving that has been going on. Speed limit throughout the Island is posted at 25 MPH, but some people just refuse to listen, prompting the IPD and Officer O'Madhauen to setup a "decoy" program to snag those errant scoflaws. Let the message be clear: If you come to the Island, don't drive wacky.
NO PROOF OF PURCHASE REQUIRED
Proving that our criminals are a really special breed, one wannabe shoplifter got snagged when he came back to the store he had robbed only hours previously. He tried to return stolen merchandise for cash on the store return policy, but his image had been caught on video camera swiping the stuff.
STILL MORE ON ENERGY
Fans of atomic power should keep in mind that the State Department is still trying to find a home for 170,000 tons of radioactive waste left over from previous plant snafus like Three Mile Island and the Governor of Nevada has steadfastly refused to allow the chosen site, some 90 miles north-east of Las Vegas, to be used as a dump. We would just like to know where this stuff is being stored in the interim.
So as the sun sets on the Island the Nasdaq declines with it and the energy all runs out through the ozone hole, the ground squirrels continue to scamper amoung the Memorial Day picnics down at the beach. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
JUNE 10, 2001
Me and the Significant Other went in search of sushi one late night, only to find the recommended spot on Grand was closed for renovations until mid-month, so we trucked on down to the Sushi Zone in Oaktown. Turns out the place has been reviewed on Channel Five and is the Toast of the Airwaves. We ordered the Special Crab, which traveled specially from Australia, and the Special Lobster Sashimi, which probably was not the wisest choice for someone who needed to ask the waiter what "sashimi" was all about. This led to an intesting lession in multiculti dynamics, for most people who visit sushi places know "sashimi" means "raw, uncooked" and need pursue the matter no further. Our Significant Other, however, needed sashimi to be explained, and the odd truth was that in none of the explaination was the significant adjective of "uncooked" applied. Channel Five may like it, but the SO did not, and promptly dunked the proferred lobster, served on a three-foot-long bed of ice and daikorn, into the accompanying soup. This appeared to distress the head waiter exceedingly.
Nevertheless, the crab, which swam all the way from Australia, was a delight in garlic and ginger -- and th lobster soup lasted a good three days. Highly recommended.
The energy crisis thing continues. Prices go down for the time being, but we all expect them to rise. What else in California?
THERE'S A MOVIE ABOUT AMNESIA, BUT I FORGET THE TITLE
Tale told of Ronnie Raygun being chaffeured by Bushy past long lines at the Unemployment office, soup kitchens, tent cities of the homeless, remarking, "At last! America is just like I remembered when I was a boy!"
THERE IS NO SPOON: YOU ARE THE SPOON
For the reality challenged, the Tube closes from Friday night at 9 pm to noon the following day to accomodate the filming of the Matrix sequels. Lawrence Fishburne and Co. will be blasting one another in virtual gun battles and chase scenes through the evening. No, its not a return to old times in Oakland, but a sci fi pic in which the remaining band of human beings attempt to retake the earth from machines. Rumor has it this one is as infused with the spirit of zen as the first.
WALK ME OUT IN THE MORNING DEW MY HONEY
The world, and more specifically, Oklahoma, waits while the worst mass murder in American history moves down the corridor to the last room in which he'll ever sleep to wake up again. All appeals have been exhausted or dropped and all parties wait patiently for the end of Timothy McVeigh at the prison in Terra Haute, Indiana. It is 10:30 pm PST, making that about 1:30am, giving the man about five more hours to live.
McVeigh, with the aid of Terry Nichols (now serving life without parole) and Michael Fortier (12 year sentence on weapons charges) blew up a government building in Oklahoma City with a homemade bomb made of fertilizer and diesel oil, killing 168 people and injuring 500 others. 18 children in a child car center were among those killed on April 19, 1994. After an exhaustive search for survivors, the building remnents were razed to the ground in May. Three bodies could not be recovered.
WALK ME OUT IN THE MORNING DEW TODAY
To the Liberal, if such an animal exists anymore, McVeigh appears as the most cogent argument for the re-institution of the death penalty in the US and the toughest nut to crack. To everyone else, it appears an open and shut case. The man was clearly an asshole from the beginning, an avid NRA, gun-totin' redneck with an irrational hatred of "government" and no real good reason to kill anybody except that he had the means and the ability; the idiot did not even have a terrorist agenda or any well-thought plan for capitalizing on the effects of the bombing and had not the flimsiest of causes to back his actions. For even the Palistinians have a reason for doing things, but McVeigh had none. Nichols and Fortier you can dismiss as stupid rednecks with atrociously aweful follow-the-leader mindsets, but Nichols, who dismissed the death of the 18 children as "collateral damage" can be seen as nothing less than a cold-blooded son-of-a-bitch.
I CAN'T WALK YOU OUT IN THE MORNING DEW MY HONEY
And with that we would just like to wrap things up, make all the mess nice and tidy and with a heartfelt "Justice is done!" then go about business as usual. Except some things indicate that all is not well. For if Justice is done, then what about 168 people and their families and the families of the children and the curious fact that McVeigh gave up all appeals, that even if unsuccessful, would have added years to his miserable life.
For the fact remains that the crime is so enormous, so engulfing, so vicious, that no single act, no single execution can ever recover the damage or heal the wounds. You could rip McVeigh to pieces with wild horses -- and this has been done -- or you could burn him to death slowly by pressing hot iron to his skin -- and this has been done also -- but nothing you could do will ever bring catharsis or prevent in the slightest the same kind of thing from happening again and again and again, just as those other punishments failed to stop Lutheranism or whatever forces the State imagined as demonic to continue to wreak havoc. For remember, McVeigh is being executed not for murder or inhumanity, but as the first Capitol Crime convict in fifty years. Even the language of the survivors echos this oddly political fact, as they repeat over and over, "for god and flag" as if this mantra will remove the more personal pain or McVeigh has finally, in terrible triumph, reached beyond us all and transformed an act of stupidity into one of genuine political action.
I CANNOT WALK YOU OUT IN THE MORNING DEW TO DAY
You could spend hours, days, weeks and years debating with words these things that can be easily summarized: the man murdered a bunch of people and now he has to die for it. In Fall of a Sparrow, the main character reproves himself for cutting a poor figure during his testimony against the terrorists who killed his daughter, among a number of others, during the bombing of a train station. He found that, five years after the fact, he had no words to express his feelings. But the truth is, in a world where none of us gets what we deserve -- even though advertising promises the opposite -- and things just blow apart at random without our control, and each of us finds our resolution and our solace individually. The truth is that there is no communal sharing of suffering that really works to resolve the pain. And that is why public executions are merely performances conducted by the State to reassure itself inspite of all logic that Reason and Order prevail.
During his 1968 concert at San Quentin, Johnny Cash related a little story about how he was arrested and put in jail overnight for picking flowers at the wrong time. And this after performing a benefit at a nearby prison. Well, its obvious the man was done no permanent harm by it, but it does indicate that things happen and your insurance does not cover it and that's just the way life happens to be.
As for prevention and "sending a message", well I hear that in Japan a feller went wild and stabbed eight schoolchildrend to death. This is subsequent to the gassing of thousands in the Tokyo metro. Now, where in the world do you find a society more governed and polite than Japan I ask you?
It is now Midnight and the man has five more hours to live. When I worked with martial artists in the Scared Straight system, as we casually referred to it, the question often came up, "What can you do to this guy that Society hasn't done already?" Man, you could beat the guy over the head with a brick and it would not make a lick of difference.
And there's an awful lot of them out there. Who can say when things go wrong for somebody? When did McVeigh and Nicols pass from rambunctious teens blowing up gopher holes on the Oklahoma prarie into something more lethal? Perhaps the only thing i ask is that in gods creation is there no chance anywhere and at any time for someone as fuckedup and stupid as Timothy McVeigh to turn the course some other direction? And whose responsibility is it? Or do we just give up and kill the sorryass bastard. Only asking. Because McVeigh's evil is his certainty, and it seems what keeps us human is our doubts. Just don't get all smug with "Justice" and "Reconciliation", 'cause you know it don't matter a good god damn.
Walk me out in the morning dew my honey,
Walk me out in the morning dew today.
I can't walk you out in the morning dew my honey,
I can't walk you out in the morning dew today.
I thought I heard a baby cry this morning,
I thought I heard a baby cry this today.
You didn't hear no baby cry this morning,
You didn't hear no baby cry today.
Where have all the people gone my honey,
Where have all the people gone today.
There's no need for you to be worrying about all those people,
You never saw those people anyway.
Walk me out in the morning dew my honey,
Walk me out in the morning dew today.
I'll walk you out in the morning dew my honey,
I guess it doesn't really matter anyway,
I guess it doesn't matter anyway,
I guess it doesn't matter anyway,
Guess it doesn't matter anyway.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week, during this time of "recession". At least, as great as it can be.
Phil Lesh and friends take over the Greek theatre 6/29 - 7/1. People who hate tie-dye and electric skulls probably should stay away from Berkeley during this time.
Ani Di Franco plays at the Greek 7/6, where the Significant Other and I will bring some teens to hear some Righteous Babe music.
Continuing the summer extravaganza, on 7/8 Socal Distortion survivors will perform at Maritime Hall.
At the Warfield 7/21 we will have Sugar Ray followed by Lucinda Williams on 7/26-27.
WHEN LILACS LAST IN THE DOORWAY BLOOMED
Or something like that. Anyrate, some mysterious weather patterns have produced astounding explosions of lilacs, jacaranda, bougainvillea, California buckeyes and other vibrantly floral trees all over the East Bay and all at the same time, making it dangerous to take a walk down the street for all the colors dazzling the eyes. The Island hosts several lilacs that are a couple centuries old so these guys put out hella bloom.
Maybe its the consolation prize for all the energy being gone.
Any rate, that's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
JUNE 17, 2001
ANOTHER TURNING POINT A FORK STUCK IN THE ROAD
Its the month of June and all over America the same scene repeats itself as it has each year for some 400 years, not to mention the same goings on over the Big Water for another three or four hundred. It begins with some months of frantic, last-minute scrambles, overnight labors by guttering candles, tremendous emotional scenes and nerve-wracking buildups while standing in lines, sitting busy over desks racking the mind for the elusive answers, accompanied always by snafus and lost documents by the Higher-Ups until the poor Candidates would sometimes shoot themselves or climb trees to spend the rest of their days gibbering with Sweeney among the birds rather than face another panel of inquisitors and yet more caffeinated melodrams leading, of course, to tentative confirmations, yet another round of documents, telegrams and stamps of approval, leading to yet more preparations and scheduling snafus, just to reach this day of still more furious delays beginning with a stirring blast of trumpets and the commencement of always that execrable, horrible music written by a man known only for having written military sousa marches and the awful Pomp and Circumstance.
I am speaking, of course, of Graduation Day.
Me and the Significant Other had the opportunity of seeing the Teen, much against all odds, actually manage to graduate from Island Poly-High School, home of the Hornets, with 400 other members of the Class of 2001. They had done their homework and done their exams and done the Prom and Friday they all were ready. There our Teen sat up high on the top row of the bleachers on Thompson Field, backed by 10,000 blue and gold and white helium balloons straining for freedom while the speeches went on.
Jason Hom, speaking with some authority from a perfect 1600 SAT and scholarship to Stanford, spoke as Valedictorian in favor of achieving happiness in life over measurable or tangible gains. As he spoke, it became obvious that even this minor milestone in life's journey had not come without costs for these kids who had all genuinely struggled in this post-apocalypse pre-millenium to make the grade. Jason said, "I want you to keep in mind the image of an exfoliating rose. . . it does not matter who is watching or what is expected of you; the important thing is to be at peace with yourself. . . At the end of the day you face ... yourself in the mirror... There can be no achievement without pain, no rainbow without rain before it. Otherwise it is all meaningless...".
It was a California Commencement, and even though there was no Latin or Greek gibberish amongst the proceedings and no wizened dean marched out bearing the Royal mace on a velvet pillow, for all that this Class of 2001 showed tremendous spirit, cheering louder and louder at each name called at the Presentation of Diplomas until the bleachers shook. The last name was called, Principal Margie Sherratt said simply, "Now shift your tassels from left to right." and with a last cheer the caps went into the air. Then, without recessional under the fading daylight, the Class of 2001 rushed down pell mell into the crowd of family members and friends in a glorious melee of balloons, bouquets, and camera flash and it was over.
But while the crowd milled and old friends hugged and mortar-boards got signed, someone cut loose the balloons, which, instead of dispersing like gas, rose up in a single, spiriling strand. I thought about this Island Class, with its rambunctious sense of humor and free-spirited independent way of thinking that seemed all but lost for a time after the 70's. The balloons coiled and twisted like DNA unraveling its secrets, or a moebius strip.
In my own time, the yearbook was printed with a black cover and featured the motto "God damn the circus." The first few pages were devoted to those who had died during the previous four years, many by their own hand. That was a time overshadowed by the potential for nuclear holocaust and a terrible war as well as the unraveling of a Government amid the most fetid atmosphere of corruption this country has ever seen, not to mention the wildly overdue turmoil over civil rights that revealed each day yet more unpeakable horrors. That was then. Time has passed and now even the Panthers, and the sappers and LRP Rangers have made their peace with the advancement of Time, forming families and raising children in a different time.
And on Friday, the balloons rose up over a different generation, a generation of Zhiangs, and Woodles, and Wongs, and Chens, and Bruckhauers and Abduls, and Peraltas, and Rattos, and Smiths, each walking, prancing, dancing, striding and cavorting down there to get that well-earned handshake, the best class ever to come out of Island Poly-High ready to hack into this millenium's gordian knots, whether it be the last sequencing code of the human genome or the challenging foundation of a new family empire of Californios.
There followed a sense of wonder that, wherever the members of this Class wind up on their 2001 Odyssey they will certain see and experience extraordinary things and there is something hopeful about their energy not seen for a very long time.
Look at them now, the Class of 2001; they will never be this young again.
another turning point a fork stuck in the road
time grabs you by the wrist directs you where to go.
so make the best of this test and dont ask why
its not a question but a lesson learned in time
its something unpredictable but in the end is right
i hope you had the time of your life
so take the photographs and still frames in your mind
hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
for what its worth it was worth all the while
its something unpredictable but in the end is right
i hope you had the time of your life
That's how it was on this Graduation Weekend. Have a great Life.
JUNE 24, 2001
John Lee Hooker, last of the blues giants who came out of the Mississippi delta rural blues tradition passed away in his sleep on June 21 in his Oakland home. Born in 1917 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Mr. Hooker learned guitar from his step father before moving to Memphis at the age of 15. It was not until his move to Detroit in search of post-war assembly-line work that the King of the Boogie cut his first record and immediately hit the top of the charts with "Boogie Chillun" in 1948. Because of his wiley attempts to skirt restrictive record label contracts by recording under a plethora of pseudonyms, it will never be possible to assemble a complete discography of this highly prolific musician. He had recorded well over 100 songs under his own name just for the Vee-Jay label by the end of the 60's with three decades of music still to follow.
Continuously championed by fellow musicians, with whom he also worked on numerous projects, he did not really become a household name until 1989 with the release of "The Healer", which sold multi-million copies and featured collaborations with Van Morrison, Bonnie Raitt and many others. He even worked with Jim Morrison, who produced a version of his "Crawling King Snake". Following this release, accolade after accolade followed in succession until, in 1997, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame, had a star place on Hollywood's Walk of Fame and opened his club The Boom Boom Room in San Francisco.
When the Significant Other and I saw him on stage at the Fillmore last year, periodic arthritis had jammed up his playing hands to a basic strum pattern, but in a recent interview, John Lee Hooker commented, at age 85, "People say to me, 'John Lee, why you want to get up on stage like that?'. an' I tell 'em, I don't wanna stay at home in the dark; I wanna get out and have some fun, just like you. Listen to some down home blues . . .".
Although he is "officially" classified as a post-war bluesman, and much of his best work employed his electric semi-hollow bodied guitar, the spare simplicity of his lines and phrasing, coupled with the signature pounding of his foot in time to the rhythm locates his style well within the deep south country blues tradtition, as well as his earthy, uncomplicated lyrics.
His beautiful daughter, Zakiya Hooker will carry on the family committment to music.
STRAIGHT BUT NOT NARROW
Over in Babylon they are bringing Pride Week to a close with parades and parties and lots of fol-de-rol. All you trannys and leather daddies and dykes on bikes get to have fun in the sun and show the Power.
Poignantly, theatre these days appears to be sliding into the dreaded Snore Zone, with the best to be had in the form of Broadway roadshows on holdover because there is simply nothing better. Yes "Stomp" is still around making noise, although "Riverdance" seems to have moved on. Two Shakespeare adaptations show nothing promising. The sole exception appears in the form of "The Laramie Project, a piece rooted in the extraordinarily grotesque murder that took place a couple years ago in the comfy bedroom community of Laramie, Wyoming. It was one of those events that everyone says happened in Hitler's Nazi Germany, but never could happen here, but happened nevertheless. A young gay man was abducted from a bar, beaten almost to death, then tied coatless to a barbwire fence in the middle of a Wyoming winter to eventually die of exposure. The play deals with interviews between actors and townspeople still struggling to come to grips with self-realizations.
LIVE NUDE BANDS!
Well, you missed it. That was at the Fillmore on Friday and was a benefit for the Bay Guardian fund. Did members of the Gun and Doll Show really take off their clothes? Apparently so.
The Fillmore hosts 6/29 Michelle Shocked, who probably still is glad she forsook rock and roll.
That's the way it was. Have a great week.
JULY 1, 2001
Me and the Significant Other took a jaunt out to P'town to get the Ramblemobile-Makeoutwagon fixed by somebody reliable -- in California you must drive 50 miles to find someone reliable -- and while this magician of the greaseparts did his thing we sauntered over to the famous Shadowcliffs Waterslides.
Never heard of 'em? Hell if you grew up anyplace hot and of a decent size you had waterslides, which consist of these long, winding plastic tubes sluicing water over bumps and drops and which you are supposed to navigate with a thin sheet of foam and a lot of courage. Going down there are no brakes and you must remember to breath only when head is clear above water. The end, whether the slides be in Nevada, California or Waukeegan, is inevitably a shoot over ten feet of water into a pool with a sizeable splash.
In Las Vegas, town of regular 115 degree temps, the slides feature fifty-foot swirling dump bowls, 40-foot vertical drops and fancy roller-coaster-style water-rocket sleds, but Shadowcliffs has been around for ages ever since the locals would drive out to the quarries and leap into abandoned diggings filled with rain water. The place is now a county park and rangers sit at the apex of each "ride" to keep an eye on things, but there is no denying the rush when firing down a chute at high speed
Carrol O'Connor died last week at the ripe age of 73. O'Connor, famous for his portrayal of the irascible Archie Bunker, also provided a bulwark within the Screen Actors Guild for social conscience and labor relations for many years.
Also sorely missed will be Jack Lemmon, two-time Oscar winner, Emmy winner, holder of five Golden Globes, and the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award. It shouldn't surprise that he garnered two Oscars for he was nominated seven times. He is most noted for his role with Walter Matthau as Felix Unger in the Odd Couple and was legendary in Hollywood and New York for his ability to totally inhabit the roles he played. Offscreen, however, his relationship with Matthau remained friendly, despite the scripted antagonism of the two characters each played, and he was often found at Walter's hospital bedside after elder man's various surgeries. Lemmon is survived by a son and a daughter from his two marriages.
OH SANDY, THE AURORA IS RISING BEHIND US
If there is any day of importance more important than the rest in the Bay Area it would be someone's birthday, and July 4th we celebrate the Birth of a Nation. And each year promises to outdo the rest as down in Jack London Square they gear up with music and concessions and, of course, the all important fireworks that remain the consistent factor linking the years. This year the 4th lands in the middle of the week and smack in the middle of a Bushy recession, so take the whole damn week off anyway. Nobody is buying geegaws during the Recession anyway, so why not? Since the Island looks right across the water at Oaktown, we'll all be settin in our barcaloungers with cold ones in hand down by the rip-rap pier to enjoy the festivities bursting above the bay. Best thing about being on an Island, we get to enjoy Fleamont's show down south, then observe rockets going off from Babylon way north, and then really dig into Oaktown's display right in the backyard. Hey, dont fergit the tequila if you come over.
THERE AINT NO CURE FOR THE SUMMERTIME BLUES
Its 3.5 more years of GOP intransigence so everybody has time to wait, except for hospital patients, who get a needed break with the recent passage of the patients' rights law, much against the GOP grain, where it would be preferred that insurance companies continue to make big bucks while doctors, nurses, and patients suffer sub-standard care.
SUMMERTIME, WHEN THE LIVING IS EASY
Well, we've done the Solstice and the Teen has graduated and now all the kids are out making mischief even as the digitalis explodes upwards and the lavendar mimosas start shaming the lilacs all over. Its the time of waterslides and Bastille Day and Phil Lesh piling into the Greek Theatre with a buncha unregenerate Deadheads. For the first time in a decade "For Rent" signs are appearing, just as they used to, all over the East Bay. There is talk of open space even over in Babylon, which endured the questionable pleasures of a .8% vacancy rate until the dot-com bust. And there has not been a power blackout in weeks. Sure, gas is now 2 bucks a gallon and there are still far too many people crammed into one place and the infernal Nimitz freeway remains the highway to hell littered with twisted wreckage and shattered glass, but if the power grid holds, and the GOP stays away and the tequila keeps flowing, we just might make it through.
That's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
One of these mornings
Youre gonna rise, rise up singing,
Youre gonna spread your wings,
Child, and take, take to the sky,
Lord, the sky.
But until that morning
Honey, n-n-nothings going to harm you
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,
no, no, no, no, no
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,
no, no, no, no, no
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,
Dont you cry,
JULY 8, 2001
The Significant Other and I escorted three post-grads to see Ani Difranco at the Greek Theatre on Friday. We had forgotten how voluble excited teens can be and it was hard keeping up with stream-of-consciousness discourse. And there was good reason to be excited, for the intimate outdoor Greek was jam-packed from the pit up through the concrete steps and swelling over the grassy lip above even before the opening act took the stage. Once the lights came up the place was SRO, with every single bench seat taken as well as every square inch of the grassy uplands taken to see this "lil' folksinger" who stands no more than 4'11" in her socks. Difranco, once the darling of the coffeehouse venue, playing solo with a single acoustic guitar, now has assembled a formidible talented band with drummer Daren Hahn, bassist Jason Mercer, trumpeter Shane Endsley, sax/flute/clarinet player Hans Teuber and Julie Wolf on keyboards and come out with a very tasty double CD set called "Revelling/Reckoning" that features some of the best funk-inflected jazz around. And she still plays her old Alvarez Yari acoustic (seen in the photo above) as well as a tambouritza, a four-string tenor guitar. She has worked with saxophonist Maceo Parker, trumpeter Jon Hassel, pedal steel guitarist Lloyd Maines and, lately, He Who Would Now Be Named Prince. The critics are eating it up and the fans, as the Greek proved on Friday night, are screaming for joy.
Jazz covers a lot of territory, and the term doesn't begin to convey the high energy level of the crunching funk rhythms blasted out as she bent over backwards at times while pulling amazing tone from her amplified acoustics. The lady is amazingly talented, writing all of her own material, fronting and orchestrating the band, and founding an entire record label company, Righteous Babe Records, with which to promote the music of herself and others, such as opener Sekou Sundiata. And all the while her posture never drops below a firmly positive "hey, we're havin' a great party" attitude.
In a recent interview with Guitar World, something of her firm committment came out when she mentioned that she gets her characteristically crisp attack on the strings by supergluing plastic fingerpicks to her playing hand, and then binding the result with packing tape.
WHO REMEMBERS THE BERKELEY BARB?
The East Bay Excess recently revamped their format to resemble more like everybody else and the change is mostly innocuous, except for the event listings which now, just like the SF Curmudgeon and the SF Bleakly, really suck to the point of uselessness. Hey, you wanted feedback. There it is.
This weekend we discover that Saturday we missed Roomful of Blues over at Bimbos 365 and we are missing Social Distortion at the Maritime Music Hall tonight. Oh well: Story of My Life.
But its not too late to catch the following acts at the venerable Fillmore. 7/21 the ever evolving Shawn Colvin takes the stage after collaborating with James Taylor on her latest CD. On 7/25 the most popular musician in Africa, Youssou N'Dour will surely raise the roof. N'dour is remembered for the extraordinary uplifting vocal during Peter Gabriel's "Your Eyes" that brought down the house during the 13 minute version performed at the Amnesty International concert in Oakland.
Still not dead and still with no new CD out, Warren Zevon strolls in on the 26th. We are, nevertheless hopeful as the guy could at one time write intelligent rock lyrics -- something not many people do. Also not dead yet, but at least putting out new music is our own high school heart-throb and America's Punk Sweetheart, Patti Smith. She still refuses to photograph with makeup or shave her armpits for the camera and its been years since she stuck a spike in her veins, so give the uncompromising lady a hand.
Over at the Warfield newbies Sugar Ray show up on the 21st with special guests. On 7/30 America's Geek Sweetheart, David Byrne performs solo in what has become a highly demanded show. For the alternative set, Everclear comes in on the first day of August to sparkle and not fade away. America's Canadian Sweethearts, the Cowboy Junkies, drop down on the fourth to perform their vastly slowed down versions of everything.
More on the upside, also speedier, come local East Bay punkers made good Green Day to the Bill Graham Civic on the fifth.
On the 23rd of July in San Jose, hoochie mamas and biker bad boys will enjoy both Pantera and Slayer, complete with dry ice, big hair, pleny of minor chords and more stuff to remind you what the parody "This is Spinal Tap" was all about. We recommend earplugs and anti-satan devices. At least with the new CD formats, it is impossible to play the music backwards to offend Jerry Falwell. A great time is sure to be had by all. Except Jerry and Pat Robertson.
Rumors of Eric Clapton and Crosby, Stills and Nash showing up in August are true. You probably can't get tickets so give up. Old Slowhand continues strong with his latest blueswork, continuing to reinvent himself without forgetting what he does best. Official word is that Patchouli oil will be banned at the CSN concert. But not weed.
225 YEARS OLD AND STILL SMOKIN'
We had the 23rd annual Mayor's Parade, led by Mayor Ralph in a lemon-yellow electric car and followed by what surely was the revenge of Norman Rockwell in all of America's wholesome glory. There was trucks and streamers and marching bands and lots of screaming and jumping up and down and thoroughly unhealthy food for all in the best tradition and everybody had a good time.
The fireworks from Jack London put out a fair amount of smoke to shield much of the show from the Island, which was a shame, but everybody got schlockered anyhow, except for the House Manager who yelled at us all to get down offa the roof. Mabel swore she kept seeing exploding stars until four am, but that musta been the tequila. Mabel is the one who got abducted by aliens in a UFO last year, and she hasn't been the same since.
We'll be talking more about Mabel and strange lights in the sky later. For now, this post-july 4th the sun sets slowly over . . . oh fergeddit. Consider the immortal words of Van Halen: "oh baby oh baby oh baby yeah yeah yeah obaby . . .".
Now that's poetry. Of a kind. And that's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
JULY 15, 2001
GOP SWELLS RANKS BY 3 MILLION
A number of interesting items have appeared on the table to shunt this week's leisurely summer course aside. Now we had meant to return to the matter of Mabel's UFO abduction and how the descendents of Tallulah Bankhead, AKA Tally the Mule, came into play on the 4th of July, however more pressing matters have arisen. Now, you know we promised to leave the progeny of Oog and Aag, Pleistocene progenitors of Bay Area residents, entirely in peace, after the Episode of the Statues (March 18), however, Tally, being a mule, remained exempt from such hysterical historicity. And there is no one who can deny that jackasses have had a significant input into the development of the USA west of the Sierra Madre.
So there you have it. Now it seems that Bushy, Baggot and Green have glommed onto this wonderful idea of legalizing 3 mil worth of immigrants and thereby making legitimate what has been defacto fact for some time. This is all well and good if you live in Boston and happen to be a liberal, but Californians live in California, and Texans live in Texas and there is hella noise building down south and I dont mean Alabama. Of course what Bushy wants is three million votes to counterbalance what everybody discovered the last census release: California now gets another set of votes over the Solid South and now things are not as shoo-in as they used to be. And come 2004, you know California is going to be pretty damn angry about how things worked out over the Election That Was Stolen.
Now Texas will always be Texas: full of Ford Mustangs and gun-totin Conservatives up the Wazoo -- Bushy can always count on the Great State of Texas -- but California has now 35 million people, 10% of the national population, and nobody sane pays attention to a few thousand rootless wanderers from New Jersey. Everybody is a god damn immigrant from Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam, and fuckin Timbucktoo. They trashed Raygun for Governor. Knowing what the Great Forgetter was like they trashed Raygun for President twice. They voted solidly against Bush One and they rejected Bush Two and now, after the census, the GOP has a real problem they cannot ignore anymore.
DON'T WATCH THE MARATHON MAN BEFORE DOING THIS
The past couple weeks we have enjoyed the singular and indescribable pleasure of root canal work, so we missed Social D out at Maritime Hall, as well as a number of other events. If you should so desire to have your roots pulled, it is suggested that you bring a sony walkman and a nice relaxing tape, such as Offspring's debut.
AND ANOTHER STAR GOES OUT
Somehow we missed remarking on Chet Atkins having passed away July 5 -- probably because that was the day we got drilled. Atkins, who essentially created the "Nashville Sound" in 1957 when RCA put him in charge of a brand new studio, rescued country music from the grave in a time when newfangled rock and roll was beginning to overwhelm all other forms of music. Over his fifty year musical career he worked with Merle Travis, Les Paul, Doc Watson, Mark Knopfler, Earl Klugh, George Benson, and discovered Dolly Parton, Charlie Pride and Jerry Reed. In spite of his tremendous influence and accomplishments -- at 49 he was the youngest person to be inducted into the County Music Hall of Fame -- he remained shy and reserved, referring to his fame as "just an accident." In a 1980 interview he said, "Nobody will remember me 15 years from now." The man who started his career by trading an old pistol for a guitar: Chet Atkins, cgp.
DOG BITES MAN
Proving that some things never change, the Island Gerbil reported as lead crime story the case of a golden retriever snacking on a park employee's leg under the guise of play. In another case, a local teen failed to steal a car. What are we graduating now, a buncha dummies? C'mon, it was an Accura -- everybody knows those are easy . . . .
MAN BITES DOG
In another case of bad timing and the inequities of the criminal justice system, the gentleman who performed a valuable community service by annihilating an infamous poodle -- by flinging the dog into traffic -- was sentenced to three years of hard time. Now what he shoulda done was get the lady's address offa the DMV licence and exterminated the pup afterwards under cover of night, but now it's too late.
CANTANKEROUS LOLLIES AND RAUCOUS PIANO
Croll's Bar and Grill, closed ever since the proprietor and the landlord got into a snit some months ago is slated to reopen with live music and outdoor seating once again in the same building that has been serving the public since 1879. The neighbors are all in a hissy fit over the potential noise coming from all those pianos and acoustic guitars, not to mention laughter and demoralized morals in question, however the Bar was there first and live music is always a good thing. There's sure to be all sorts of drinking and jumping up and down and general carrying on to delight the mind and the soul so come on down. And if you get yourself banged up partying, Fester, The Paramedic, just might take you for a spin in the Island's brand new ambulance, which is bigger and brighter than all the rest. Its got super-cool shocks, mag wheels and two comfy beds. "Hell, makes a great Makeout Wagon," says Fester.
Well, time for more Kentucky courage to nurse this tooth of mine, so gotta go. That's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
JULY 22, 2001
Last issue before we head off into the Annual Mountain Sabbatical. This year we'll be doing a round-robin of Echo col, Mt. Goddard, and Mt. Lamarck, basically tromping around in about as remote an area as you can get and still be in the lower 48. not for a single minute coming down below 11,000 feet. If you wanna have a gander at where we'll be at, cross on over to the camping section and pix from previous years. Offers of screensavers gladly accepted.
THEY'RE NOT IN DENIAL - THEY JUST FEEL THE CAR IS A TEMPORARY THING
A number of SoCal natives have been cursing the extended paving of the infamous Nimitz, going on now for a good three months and destined to last until October. In El Ay, where they do freeways right, they can build an entire superstructure in three weeks, whereas up here it takes them six months to lay down tar on one already built. The problem is exacerbated by surfacing work on the approaches to three of the four major bridges crossing the Bay. The typical scenario involves ripping up the existing pavement, leaving tire-shredding gouges and dangerous berms for some miles -- then walking away and leaving the surface like that for a good six weeks. Driving over this stuff on a motorcycle or european auto is akin to being lifted up high and shaken by a huge pit bull.
The construction boss recently commented in an interview, "This highway feels real different than all the others we have worked on; everyone seems to be in a vicious mood. They're always screaming epithets at us and flipping the bird."
Somebody just needs to explain that in NoCal
we just don't do freeways. There are people who still believe
that if we make life here so atrocious everybody else will just go away.
Back to Pakistan, Vietnam, Calcutta and AIDS-infested Uganda, one assumes, but
some thinkin' is darn hard to puzzle out. And if you don't build
freeways or improve access at all, why then, all the cars will just go the way
of the grizzly bear. Hey man, you seen the E'ville Ikea parking lot on
BET THEY USED THE DIAMOND LANE TO GET HERE
Oh yes, and the UFO abduction of Mabel. Now therein lies a tale. Often told by an idiot. For it was on July 4th, in the year 2000, that the clouds descended and took up with them Mabel Butcher of Minturn Street. Now when the clouds descend, some call it fog, but in this case it happened to be aliens, so why quibble. Why these squeakin' little green fellers with big eyes would want to abduct someone the likes of Mabel Butcher, god only knows. But they chose to lift her up between the begonias and the wysteria and carry her to the firmament where many indignities were visited upon her person in the name of intergalatic commerce.
Now you just have to wonder about the supposed superior intelligence of folks that keep grabbing the likes of dirt farmers from Idaho, New Jersey trailor-park ladies and, of course, dear Mabel, who came all the way from Reston, Virginia twenty-five years ago to work in the Island History Museum and then be abducted by aliens.
Once she got used to being poked and prodded, she got along just fine with the cute little devils and even taught them how to BBQ a hog in style. In gratitude they gave her a cure for the Ebola -- which she misplaced but its the thought that counts -- so there you have the exchange of culture for which the Bay Area is so famous. Then they brought her on back and there was hella partying with polaroids and beer and all sorts of great fun, and Artie went through a special initiation ceremony so that he got to be an honorary Alien too.
And the best thing about it was that not a one hailed from New Jersey and not a single one planned on settling down here as the place is already too crowded and noisy and thats the way we like it. Welcome to California; now go home. The FBI sure were peeved about it though. Never saw such a bunch of killjoys.
THE MANLY ART
San Shou is a combination of boxing, karate kicks and greco-roman wrestling and is not for the faint of heart, to say the least. We were fortunate to make the acquaintance of the current state heavyweight champion, Adam Caldwell, who will defend his title this saturday in San Jose against Rey Garcia under the all-watchful eyes of CNN and the entire martial arts community. Frank Shamrock will be in attendance as a world luminary and international stars will present exhibition fights. fights are 7:00 - 10:00 pm at west valley college. directions and ticket pricing through www.cungle.com
Only days before this flashbulb popping, newscam whirring event, adam had this to say, "the guy i am going to fight i have trained with, so there are no surprises there. but i am really worried about the news conference . . . those media types really bug me and i am afraid i might lose it . . . . The idea of a 200 pound fighter "losing it" at a press conference kinda sets us back -- we think we will stay home until fight time.
HIPPY BIRTHDAY TO Y'ALL
It has occured to us that an unnatural number of people are celebrating the jour de naissance this month and last month, including our very own Significant Other (Bastille Day), Melinda (now 18), Paul of San Anselmo (Today), and an host of others. What on earth was going on during those winter months?
We had the pleasure of enjoying the company of the Bay Area's intellectual elite up in the Marin Woods where there was all sorts of heady conversation, intoxicating company, nervous jumping up and down, alcohol swilling, music, more alcohol, much reminiscences, cavorting among the shrubbery, and three dabs of peanut butter with more alcohol yet.
On top of peanut butter and pepper jokes, together with personal anecdotes that do not reflect well upon the morals of Robert Lowell and Edward Albee, we had the pleasure of meeting our long lost sister, Bea, whom we never knew had existed -- at least in that form -- and had never guessed had ever been lost. Mr. Gardener, who indicated this relationship, is a Famous Person of Unimpeachable Character and therefore we cannot doubt his word as Gentleman and Distinguished Scribe of many books, some of which are probably Still in Print.
I think a letter to the Old Folks is badly needed ASAP, however.
THIS ISLAND LIFE SEPERATES RIGHT FROM WRONG
Back among the insane lilacs, lavendar mimosas and radical palms of the Island, we were overjoyed and astonished to discover another treasure in the form of local sculptor, artist and all around Man of the World Jim Kitson living down the street with his wife of 20 years Sue Laing, where they have planted the ashplant oar after many months of trials and tribulations that only text well saturated with hues of purple can convey. Ah, Bulwer-Lytton, our Muse . . . .
At any rate they live here and make all kinds of beautiful, crazy stuff, are fond of cactus succulents, and own a genuine working hummingbird feeder perched delightfully in proximity to the cat box. Furthermore, the man has posted on his front yard a sculpture he says is influenced heavily by the Toltec/Aztec/Mexican thing although it looks like straight New England Maritime style to me, but waddoo I know. I just know what I like.
TIME TIME TIME
Now when last we left Tally, she had destroyed
the priceless statues of Fr. Junipero Bippy-Huragh, that notable Jesuit who
founded the undocumented Mission de los Doloras Pulgas and many others. The
descendents of Aag, failing in the ferry business, had become land agents in
the Sierra and the descendents of Oogg had become Southern Californian vaqueros,
otherwise known as cowboys.
We then pass into the 20th Century, notable for murder and mayhem unprecidented in the history of mankind, but also marked by the development of saran wrap and frozen convenience food.
Unfortunately, it now approaches the witching hour and deadlines must be met. We were going to tell about how the descendents of the mule named Tallullah Bankhead, Tally for short, busted up a Hindi temple around the turn of the century and placed on the backside thereon of each the Mark of the Hoof, but there is scarce time enough to prepare to go. How it comes that a supposed mule should have descendents sufficient to found a dynasty is yet another story as well. As a great man once said, "There are a million stories in the naked West -- and you can go crazy listening to them all."
That's how it is on the Island. As the sun sets slowly among golden . . . . oh, forget it. Have a great week. See you in two.
AUGUST 12, 2001
Its great to be back enjoying the Bay Area's version of civilization and the discovery that not all that much has changed during our Mountain Sabbatical: the Kursk is still sunk, the rents are still astronomical and teh East Bay Express format still sucks.
It was only due to our being 400 miles away and climbing over 12,900 feet mountain passes that we missed our old sweetheart Patti Smith perform in Babylon. Upcoming for the new semester welcoming we have the smooth George Benson at the Paramount on Friday the tenth. At the Fillmore, Peter Tork revives the 60's pseudo-band the Monkees on the 18th. On the 28th, whine rockers Ween take over, while the Warfield seems to have a lock on the big acts, starting with Billy Idol on the 30th -- certainly to be a good day for a "white wedding". Slowing things down a bit on the acoustic side, Taj Mahal brings his old school blues to the stage on September 7th. For those of you who are really depressed, or not depressed enough, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will surely darken your window on the 21st.
The special spotlight is reserved for yet another short gal, the British-born Polly Jean Harvey, who will stomp, mangle and destroy your mind and soul with earthshaking bass-work on the 18th, preceded by none other than Moris Tepper, long-time studio sideman for the likes of Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits and many others. PJ Harvey has worked her way up the hard way from secondary gigs at Slims on Tuesday nights to mainstage headliner at the Warfield and this lady can rock like no other. Tepper has been known to throw in such instruments as a tuba, an old squeezebox and a washboard to fill out his extremely sophisticated jazz-rock-whatever. He is well known among the afficiondos as a real musician's musician. Joe Bob says check it out.
We arrived too late to take part in the Island Wine and Art festival, but we have it on good report that Mayor Ralph opened the day-long fest on Park Street by giving a speech and making several individual toasts to the Kiwanis, the Elks, the Masons, the Royal Order of Odd Fellows, the film cast and crew of the Matrix, and Councilperson Judy, who finally took the bottle from Hizzoner's hands and helped him descend unsteadily from the stage.
It was apparently a week of mayoral hijinks, which we are heartily sorry for having missed. Over in Babylon, Mayor Brown was seen carousing with several pneumatic blondes in his limo. Nobody was surprised. These things only upset indignant GOP fossils of the highest rectitude back East. Out West, we don't give a damn what the mayor does with or without his pants as long as he balances the budget and keeps the streets clean.
Speaking of streets, they are still paving 880 and the encouragement to take mass transit took a stiff shove backwards when a power outage stopped BART for 6 hours, snarling traffic and commuters lives for the rest of the day on Friday. Can you image what would happen if the tube stopped running in Manhattan for six hours? Hell, they'd go down and drag John Gotti out of intensive car to perform a "fix". And by a fix, we mean something anatomical, not mechanical. Still, there are some advantages to living in a quiet little backwater like the Bay Area, where the entire subway system shuts down for a day per usual. We got unreliable and dangerous mass transit driven by horn-honking lunatics, minimal freeways that are cracked and potholed, major bridges that are certified as earthquake-damaged and unsafe, exhorbitant housing costs for broken walls, bad plumbing, and cramped spaces, annoying and often unsanitary neighbors, scads of beggars wandering the streets, and periodic power outages. But in spite of all that, we have a spiritual quality of life. Yeah.
Sorry, I was actually talking about Utter Pradesh India, or some other place in the 3rd World.
Now, where am I? Oh yeah, here on the Island, where Circe casts her charms. And where the Fed insists we have no recession. Yet. Lest anyone complain. Bad for business.
Anyrate, the sun has set, vacation is over, and that gal Tracy Chapman is singing "The Thrill is Gone" while BB King backs her up. Kinda says it all right now.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a bluesy week. And enjoy that Pink Slip party - might as well.
AUGUST 27, 2001
"I want to thank you for coming to the White House to give
an opportunity to urge you to work with these five senators and
three congressmen, to work hard to get this trade promotion
authority moving. The power that be, well most of the power
that be, sits right here."Washington, D.C., June 18, 2001
It was with extraordinary delight we discovered that a book has been written and a website devoted entirely to "Bushisms", that is, the malapropisms and unintentional levity conveyed by Our Commander in Chief. Let it be known that after one year this is no lightweight paperback but a 340 page opus of the most inane and outrageously stupid expressions ever blatted forth by something on two legs, and that includes Washoe the Chimp.
"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should.
Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible
disease."Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001
In these hard times, with so many out of work and harder times to come, it is wonderful that we have such a wit to divert us from our economic miseries.
"I haven't had a chance to talk, but I'm confident we'll
get a bill that I can live with if we don't."Referring to the
McCain-Kennedy patients' bill of rights, Brussels, Belgium, June 13, 2001
On the Island, we have had our troubles with numerous criminal escapades that, unfortunately, did not involve traffic infractions, and therefore went unpunished. Two kids got into the Harbor Bay gymnasium and got off scot free with a solid workout before being chased off by the Thin Blue Line. We note that the class of the thief has gotten quite high, as a check forger at the Otis Drive Wells Fargo escaped in a Mercedes SUV. Also unclear on the concept was the person who left their keys in an SUV only to find it stolen. Apparently the same thief used the same keys to steal the same vehical later in the week after it had been recovered. Continuing the SUV theme, someone once again ran off with an armload of cigarettes, also escaping in an SUV, which seems to have become the instrument of choice among the low-lifes around town.
We always knew there was something low-class about those machines.
"Our nation must come together to unite."Tampa,
Fla., June 4, 2001
Continuing this columns' desire to ease the Depression of Ought-One with entertainment, we provide the service lacking in the East Bay Excess, whose Format Still Sucks.
Santa Cruz has become a hotbed for the blues lately, continuing with the Fat Fry on Labor Day weekend and headlining Dicky Betts (the other half of what made "Whipping Post" famous) and Susan Tedeschi, the teen blues phenom, as well as Son Seals -- and thats just on the first day. Jimmy Vaughan and Joe Louis Walker will polish off the sweat the following day.
Maritime Hall, always a venue to watch for those descending the stairs of fame, hosts the Black Crows on the 4th, followed by Joe Walsh -- who is not dead by any means - on the 8th. Burning Spear will light up the place on the 14th and we managed to get an inside that the Thinking Fellers Local 252 will do two nights in a row from the 30th to the 31st. TFU has always been a local favorite, especially since the band turned down a major label contract so as to keep what they do "a sort of free-time relaxation thing". Uh, guys, do you know how many bands would commit murder to snag a contract from Atlantic? Well, they may not be exactly savvy businesswise, but the unusual band cooks.
In an odd sidebar item we note that Laurie Anderson will do a show at Bimbos 365 on the 6th. Laurie has been known to sell out shows that were taped and broadcast live as well from the Legion of Honor, so this low-key event is yet another oddity.
At the Warfield, the booking agent is stompin all over the competition, starting with the now-popular Cake from the 5th-6th and Live 105 is doing another "We saw them first!" number. Government Mule is doing the 20th, and we note -- in another sidebar-type item that Les Claypool is performing with. Now, Warren Haynes with Claypool should be interesting, to say the least. Sailing on blue-collar seas of cheese? In the Dead vein, Ratdog does the Greek on the last day of August, which should introduce a legion of newbies at the college to something Mom and Dad Would Not Approve. Or maybe they would. Admit it: you inhaled. Suzanne Vega returns in strength with her intellectual lyrics on the 6th of October.
At the Fillmore, you gotta wonder what went wrong. Dwight Yokum cancelled and nobody but nobody performs but Gillian Welch for a month. Unless you count some cowchip kicking western stuff. Hey, what happened to the agent over there?
In the East Bay nobody knows what the heck is going on because the East Bay Excess Format Still Sucks.
On the Island we starve for entertainment. The Mariner Square Spotlight continues - with the current obnoxious trend in DJ crap instead of live music, and there remains Patricks where the dregs show up to flail on heavy metal guitars on "Harley Night". It's becoming not unlike Cours D'Alene, Idaho. Still, for entertainment, we always can count on our President.
"First, we would not accept a treaty that would not have
ratified, nor a treaty that I thought made sense for thecountry."On the Kyoto accord in an interview with the
Washington Post, April 24, 2001
"I know the human being and fish can coexist
peacefully."Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000
"I will have a foreign-handed foreign policy."Redwood,
Calif., Sept. 27, 2000
Anyway that's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
AUGUST 19, 2001
Another round of "Pink slip parties" and the bushy
is off taking vacation in the wilds, playing with logs and stuff while in the
west nearly a hundred wildfires are burning from Ashland, Oregon to Las Vegas
Nevada. Something about Nero comes to mind.
Still, its comforting to know that the hapless feller is out of harms way and can't do any more evil where he is at.
so here we are, skidding down a long decline like some infantile magnate on a sled named "rosebud" and the evil word "recession" still escapes the lips of the Fed. just like it did the last time, remember? Oh, all the "indicators" indicated we were just fine and dandy, while millions went looking for work that was not there and the soup kitchen lines got longer. The Great Confabulator himself couldn't understand a thing and said that, to his mind, America had never been better. Then he made the mistake of asking the all important question, "Are you not better off than before?", and the millions responded resoundingly, "NO! Everything sucks!" Then he and his party got dumped for 16 years of prosperity with the Dems.
Down in Palo Wallow, all the news includes the operant adjectives, "dismal", "stagnant", and, well, just have a look at a sample of last week:
The "quote of the week" just might have something on what Oaklands needs to pull out of these doldrums, for if more "butt-nekkid ladies" can't do it, nothing will. Over in babylon, we are hearing stories of houses for rent again, like in the old days, and crowds are crowding over there to "find their space" again. Albeit a bit late for the musicians who got rousted only months before by rampant greed. Even so, the rents are still this side of ridiculous, making Oaktown the place to be for the next ten years for any artist wannabe.
Here on the Island, where reality never stopped the place from proceeding with business as usual, the ink is almost dry -- if not yet applied -- to the lease for a new Trader Joes in the old blighted Buy Rite spot that two major grocery chains have successfully kept empty for two years. Soon, you won't have to cross water to fetch your kangaroo meat and stuffed snails, things everybody needs from time to time.
On the upside, Babylon enjoyed "Nadine's Wild Weekend" over the past four nights in which 135 bands showcased at twenty clubs around the City. Nadine Condon puts on these little affairs from time to time, you see.
Also welcomed in this time of travail, besides the no-brainer joyous re-release of Monty Python's Holy Grail, is Kevin Smith's new and last issue of his infamous "New Jersey series" called this time, "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back". Smith made something of a name for himself by making his first feature, the critically acclaimed "Clerks" by maxing out his credit card while working in a Jersy City convenience store. The major studios walked out -- at first -- on distribution, but then the film scored awards at the prestigious Sundance and Cannes festivals. Now Smith, who basically discovered Ben Affleck and the script for Good Will Hunting, has carte blanche with his studio in Hollywood, but refuses to move out of his crumbling Jersey brownstone apartment building. Characters from each movie crop up in each one of his seven movies, most notably the stars of this outing, who include the low-IQ stoner named Jay and the eternally voiceless Silent Bob, played by Smith himself.
Smith followed the atrocious Mallrats with something of a runaway hysterical cult success in the form of Dogma, which has earned Smith personal letters of condemnation from the rather irate Vatican Council in Rome. The movie included graphic discussions on the gender of angels as well as the Big One Upstairs and a scenery-chewing funny performance by George Carlin as the Archbishop of Newark trying to "update" the image of Jesus Christ through a modern marketing campaign, but c'mon guys -- lighten up a little.
In other news, the East Bay Excess format still sucks and we have stopped trying to decipher the rag, even for the horoscopes. Mayor Ralph is evaluating alternatives to the traffic congestion on and off the island -- it is an island, after all -- and among them is a proposal to build a high-capacity aerial tram to MacArthur Bart capable of handling the people traffic of a three-lane superhighway. The cost is about a tenth of a bridge or tunnel and so serious thought is being applied and serious application for funds are being made. Should such a project go through, it is certain that at least five other cities in California will follow suit on similar transport projects. The projected vendor, Doppelmeyer Inc. has already built 8,000 of these trams around the globe.
So that's how it is as we dip and sway into the future on the Island. Have a great week.
"Mr. Vice President, in all due respect, it isI'm
not sure 80
percent of the people get the death tax. I know this: 100
percent will get it if I'm the president."
SEPTEMBER 2, 2001
Hope everyone's BBQ comes out perfectly browned with that perfect glaze and a hint of hickory this weekend where we all celebrate labor by not working. Which is just as well, since, according to a recent Euro-study, Americans work the longest hours and the most days of anyone, including the Japanese -- who alone among all of us have a specific word for "death by overwork".
The Significant Other and I enjoyed our day with a BBQ up in the North Country at -- what could be more appropriate -- a Pink Slip party. For such a grim occasion, there was much feasting on fine mestiza vittles, plus kids running amok, a bit of volleyball, a bit of swimmingpool, and old Blue, the Australian shepard, climbing up after the ball no matter where pitched and always bringing the damn thing back (stupid dog). The Recession is still in full force, although it doesn't have a name yet, but the Californios are a scrappy lot and not likely to just lay down and take a beating for three years.
On the upside, Jesse Helms, surely one of the most hate-filled individuals left in Washington D.C., has announced imminent retirement and that is a good thing. Few here will miss this homophobic relic of intolerance and bigotry, for this was the man who snubbed California's Senator Achtenberg with the unapologetic "that damn lesbian", which was only one small divot in a career that included a long list of cannonades against anything reasonable and in support of anything vicious, cruel, restrictive or oppressive. It got so even the moguls of the GOP began to turn away from what became a sure embarrassment to the conservatives.
Also on an up note, we find the newbie weekly Urban View, has come up with a reasonable and useable calendar format to replace the atrociously designed East Bay Excess, which took away a clearly legible format so as to force cash-strapped club owners to pay for column-inch ads or wind up in the 7 point type dustbin. Urban View also has more articles that are appropriately concise and to the point than the wildly verbose blathering that now slathers page after page after unedited page of the EBE. Hey folks, people don't pickup a newspaper to read 20-page opuses of non-fiction. Enough of that.
We missed the Thinking Fellers Local 252 over at Maritime Hall, which is a shame as the drummer has moved -- there goes another musician -- to Boston, effectively capping the careers of these Bay Area pleasures, unless Matador records can somehow pay the grocery bills as well as the plane tickets. Gillian Welch has a new CD out, which we hope pushes forward from the promise shown in her debut "roots" CD. She performs on the 5th at the venerable Fillmore, a place known for pulling out the best of whatever shows. Cake follows up at the Warfield with a two night engagement. Now hitting the "border" market between alternative Live 105 and the more poppy KFOG, Cake appears to be just about to unveil the magic diamond/pearl combo that makes it big. And its about time that somebody reintroduced a dual horn section into pop music.
Also happening this weekend, although not strictly a Bay Area event, is the annual Burning Man festival, in which 20,000 people gather in the Blackrock desert to take their clothes off and bounce on trampolines without benefit of showers, amenities, or t-shirt vendors, but with -- it is suspected -- the salubratory benefit of mind-altering substances regarded with jaundiced eye by the Department of Justice. Its supposed to be an atavistic orgy of humankind sans the trappings of civilization.
Here on the Island we have our own Burning Can festival, borrowing from age-old traditions brought west by emigrants from Brooklyn and the Bronx. Similar to the Burning Man festival, these events take place when the jilted and friends gather to burn not only the effigy of the formerly adored, but all found possessions belonging to such as well, including furniture and car -- if possible. When all else fails, there is always Bobo the tramp, who does a little dance around the campfire, swinging his bottle of Maddog 20-20 and howling at the stars something from the repetoire of Brittany or Bob Dylan or Green Day -- take your pick. And he'll be more than happy to take all his clothes off if even half prompted, but we suggest to people that nobody take the chance, for washing is not something Bobo does very often. At least Bobo doesn't cost 125 smackers for the priviledge of watching. And you just cannot get any more elemental, atavistic and pagan than Bobo when he's on a bender.
The Significant Other and I took in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, last of the New Jersey series it seems for director Kevin Smith. The movie definitely has a feeling of swan-song, "I am sick of this; lets just get on with other projects." in its use of cameo appearances -- including even a brief reprise of Alanis Morrisette as God -- but the real point of the movie comes up during the longest -- and only serious -- speech made by Silent Bob, who breaks his character "tag" to blast at the opportunists who profitably scam the work of artists who often die without ever realizing something for their work. The focus is upon the graphic novel industry, sure, but the message applies across the board for just about every genre one can think of. Otherwise full of fart and sex jokes set on a plane with the Farrelly brothers, as well as some cheap shots at gays that the disclaimer at the end of the movie barely atones for, the movie could have used a really good editor. If you enjoy Jay and Silent Bob, this is apparently the last time Smith will trot them out for our pleasure, as he has mentioned the urge to move on to more sophisticated directorial challenges, so check 'em out. And its not nearly as bad a movie as the rest of the summer fluff out there.
Anyway, here we are in the post-millennial, pre-apocalypse, Recession era, time of bushisms, Indian Summer period and as Bobo seques now into Bob Seeger -- that's how it is on the Island -- we wish you all to have a great week.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2001
Lately the papers have finally copped to the reality that the People have been facing ever since October of last year: we got a recession, a full-blown, stocks plunging, unemployment rising, no-sale retail kinda recession that no Great Confabulator can shunt aside with wisecracks and golly-gee joshing.
Once again, its Morning in America, and what a post-high come-down it is.
". . . and how could Jesus have avoided his terrible fate?
Well, Seperation of Church and State . . .".
So it is we seek small solaces where we find them. The Island Council meetings recently took a half step toward joining the rest of us in this century by supplanting the religious invocation with a moment of silence. Prior to last week the Island remained the only local government agency in California to begin each session with a call to the X-ian deity. It became clear that, when two rabbis, a Catholic priest, a Methodist, two Lutherans, a Bhuddist, one Islamic man of god and a smattering of aetheists and witches attended the debate on the issue, there could be no avoiding change on the issue this time. As one of the pastors commented, "If they don't have god in them before they walk in the door, heaven help us, for any last minute calls for guidance will surely be of little use.
THE CRIME BLOTTO
Further proof that our criminals are suffering from the poor scholastic aptitude comes in the form of a woman who showed up at the Island police station to reclaim a purse she left at Southshore Shopping Mall. Turns out the lady had a warrant out for attempting to cash forged checks -- at this same mall -- and that the purse contents consisted of a dozen stolen credit cards. She was booked immediately downstairs. In this case, Elvis did not leave the building.
Bringing to mind Solent Green images of bodies hanging in space, the IPD reports that the latest spike in crime is due to a startling rise in "identity theft." Seems the crooks snag a name, a couple numbers and go on buying sprees pretending to be somebody else. In one sort of famous case, a man pretended to be none other than Don Henley, lead singer for the now defunct Eagles rock band, for well over ten years, obtaining free motel rooms, lavish champagne dinners, custom musical instruments worth thousands of dollars, and airline tickets. Not to mention perks in the form of adoring female, errr. . . , attentions. The man looked nothing like Henley, but since nobody really knew how the singer looked for this admittedly mediocre and only briefly famous 70's rock band, the guy got away for quite a long time and was only caught when cornered, while intoxicated, into trying to play one of his hits on a guitar. In fact, the man succeeded so long that his criminal career overlapped a solo comeback by Henley himself and, when the imposter could not figure out the difference between a G and a B chord, a bystander remarked that it was odd that Henley could be scheduled to play Madison Square Garden -- some 3000 miles away -- that same evening. As Brittany says, "Oops!".
EAST BAY EXPRESS FORMAT STILL SUCKS !
Just thought we would mention that. Filling in the vacuum most capably is the upstart Urban View, with a daily and a club calendar plus a genre calendar that beats the tar out of the EBE in less than three pages. In addition, the UV articles are more readable. Enough said.
Bridge School benefit tickets go on sale in one week for the annual hosting by Neil Young, again at the Shoreline. Better be quick as old Neil has a lot of friends in the business -- and they all come to play in what has become Northern California's premier music event, easily upstaging opening night at the Opera. The Bridge School has been teaching developmentally disabled kids for well over 30 years.
THEY SHOOT HORSES, DONT THEY?
The Babylon Bored Supervisors repealed the infamous dance hall permit requirement imposed a while ago on existing businesses. You are therefore free to shake your booty anywhere without need for permit. Its a sign of the times that Babylon would have even considered requiring a permit for, of all things, dancing in public. You gotta wonder if that guy who used to waltz down Market dressed in cardboard ever paid his fees.
ALSO FLINGING THE LIGHT FANDANGO
Crolls Bar & Grill, housed in the old hotel building that has been in continuous service since 1887, has obtained the necessary permits and once again will provide live music, food and good times to Islanders. You can dance if you want to.
TALLY THE MULE REDOUX
It shall be recalled that Tally, the infamous destroyer of statues, was sentenced to the soap factory after the disruption of the first Black and White Ball. Everyone thought they were well rid of the troublesome beast after a couple no-mule zones were imposed on the downtown precincts, however, unknown to her owner and the Authorities, some of Tally's stem cells had been secured by one Alphonsius Nostradamus Bickle, a notorious alchemical Hermeticist and member of the mystical Rosicrucians. Now this alchemy stuff, unknown to many historians, enjoyed a modest revival during the post-49er period, when Californians and wannabe Californians discovered that obtaining a few ounces of gold was dangerous, back-breaking work that more often than not cost more in time and supplies than the product value.
So it was that Alphonsius, and many like him, undertook the underhanded business of selling the Sure-Fire Method for Converting Mesquite into Gold. He would typically lay out a table with a little kiln, stick a few bricks of wood into the front end and, after a dramatic speech that was full of classical allusions, taro references, a bit of Egyptian, and calls to deities of dubious repute before pulling out a tray of hot, shiny goldstuff from the back of the smoking kiln. He'd invariably sell a few "kits" for a fair sum -- then skip town.
In his hidden laboratory in the hills of Oakland, Alphonse never gave up the notion of converting stuff into gold for real, so he had all sorts of vials and potions and retorts cooking on various burners all over the place. His housecleaner took charge of this mess one day by shoving anything vaguely organic into the fridge and anything not carbon-based into the workshop hamper, causing all sorts of ruckus from the master afterward. Some of these stem cells from the defunct Tally fell into something viscous below the lettuce bin and, well, a little while later the science project in the fridge became a full-grown mule, much to the disappointed astonishment of Alphonse, who had hoped to be the first to discover penicillin instead of a peculiar mule. Successive retries never produced anything more than mules and eventually the old alchemist threw the whole batch into Strawberry Creek. This is the real reason UCB has sealed up the last remaining vestige of natural water flow - those science guys up on the hill know what's really in that water. This also explains the confused and irrational response to stem cell research, for if the product insists on turning out as a recalcitrant mule that cannot abide the sight of Friar Tuck, then perhaps the whole thing should be reconsidered.
Nevertheless, the demon was unleashed from Pandoras box, among other aweful similes, and the progeny of Tally were set loose upon the world to knock down statues and chase hari krishnas around the airports.
It may be noted that it was in the post-49er period that the descendents of Oog and Aag found themselves earning a fair living by selling shovels to them 'nine'ers heading off to the diggins', until the entire collection of rag-tag prospectors tumbled head over heels to Nevada when silver got re-discovered.
This puts us in our Historical Review of the State somewhere into the 1880's, skipping minor events like the Civil War and Yosemite and all that, but we'll come back to that later for it is important to record how Chief Tenaya got stoned on wacky tabbacky with the Geological Surveyors of 1860 and what came of it and how the last California grizzly bear tried to set himself up as an S Corporation far in advance of his time. But more on that later.
And as the chill fogs descend this Indian Summer upon the Island we note that the Sign Painter on Lincoln is back with new signs and a freshly painted fence. Now the signs hang from the laurel tree in front, and the old master has returned to a color base, although still preserving his butcher paper media. Let it be known that the latest is
So be it. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2001
I took a walk down by the shore to ease the head and look across the water at the lights of Babylon last evening. There, the chain of pearls that is the bridge between Oaktown and the City hung as a necklace before the remains of the day flaring behind the Marin headlands under an eerie and empty sky.
When I came down to the water almost 20 years ago, fifty dollars in my pocket, beat-up guitar on the back of a crash-bashed old Honda motorcycle, reddened bandages fraying loose and mind practically unhinged from crossing the deserts the hard way, I came to touch the edge of something bigger than California or the West.
Watching the fog unroll over the headlands then Mt. Davidson and Mt. Bruno until a black shroud draped itself over everything from Foster City to the invisible Golden Gate, leaving strings of lights hovering like so many outposts, I felt answers to unspoken questions blow away in the sea-salt wind.
In the soft foggy air I knew only that my brother, working in the Pentagon these past four months had flown home to Boston and was now with his wife and child and that those in Jersey I knew and loved were safe at home trying to explain the inexplicable pictures appearing on television to those about to inherit this world we have mismanaged so well. But still, there were questions blowing on the wind.
So, like any good Californian I went in search of a guru. And found him underneath the bridge, where he lives with Lord Buddha, his dog. The guru, who goes by the name of whatever you choose, but who goes this evening by Baba Whoodap, sat as was his custom, before a fire of cardboard and driftwood beneath the Harborbay pedestrian arch.
"Baba," I told him, "I am sick in spirit and troubled in mind. Wacked out lunatics have killed thousands of my people by fire, as well as themselves, annihilated entire neighborhoods and sent 30,000 of my people homeless after destroying city blocks with a few minutes of violence, and then the masterminds have simply disappeared into the night and I do not know what to do."
The Island Baba sighed and was silent for a very long time. Finally, after stirring the embers and adding another log of drift to the fire, he spoke.
"My son, I do not have the words to answer you from my heart. I can only quote what has been said by far wiser minds than mine. And this is something you must listen to very closely, for this is the wisdom of the ages, not mine:
"Focus on fire rising through your form from the toes up until the body burns to ashes but not you."
At those words, the Baba rose up and disappeared from whence he came and nothing was left under the bridge but the wind and a few ashes. I was left only with this pile of ashes and the rain beginning to fall, which only served to hasten me to shelter, instead of giving me the solace for which I had looked.
Now, looking through the rain-streaked windows of the old car i rented to come here -- for no purchase of anything in this life can be considered other than rent -- I think about my brother's neighbor, as yet unnamed, just beginning to exfoliate into other lives with children and baseball and PTA meetings, and who now rests somewhere between the remains of the 110th and the 90th floor of the former World Trade Center of New York. And others, also unnamed as of this point.
Mahayama - life in this world is a vale of tears and there is no turning from the fact of it. Still, the old Baba spoke the truth for no matter what the religion or point of view or actual circumstances, the torment of the outside should not be allowed to touch the essence of what IS. What is, might be something abstract like "America", or it might be something more immediate, such as the soul of the man who chose to jump from the 90th floor of the WTC rather than burn to death.
There remains something inconquerable, something indestructible no matter what any such terrorist or lunatic might do or say that remains after all the fires have cooled. Anyone who has been raped, knows this for a fact. Something remains that the violator cannot touch and it is this thing that remains the essence of who we are. My brother's neighbor had a husband and a child who lives on to remember the essence of that which was She. Of course we would prefer that she be here among us during our seasonal gatherings, and of course we long for that sense and touch now gone. But the fact that we remain, and continue to be who we are is enough to shunt the worst aside, for the worst is for all of us to be dispersed upon the wind and become utterly nothing -- that we are most certainly not.
I drove aimlessly that night about the Island and looked at the bright windows of so many family homes, shining hopefully across the water. And it seemed to me that the essence of who we are remains entirely untouched. That not even a nuclear holocaust could change the essence of these people. Of course life will be more difficult and maybe obtaining a crust of bread will become a little harder, but then, room for that kind of change has always existed here and in 1929 the world did not come to an end; it only became a little harder for a little while. And that is VERY important to remember.
On the Island, the same idiots tried to steal the same cars again in the same city blocks as usual and some damn fool tried to shoplift the same store in South Park -- so what else is new? Not much changes. Except that life in the general USofA will have a turn for a difference as the nation turns to war. Huge thirty-foot flags hang from the overpasses bridging Routes 80 and 280. Outside on the landing, someone had placed a stained glass eagle beside the wrought iron railing. The 15 inch bird had apparently been dropped by accident during one of our earthquakes, knocking a few chips off the wingtips, but otherwise looked to be in good shape.
I remember Tuesday afternoon discussing cell-phone coverage with a fellow outside the County buildings, even as the Counsel discussed the wording for the official State of Emergency upstairs, and this fellow remarked, "Well, we'll just have to wait until things return to normal."
Well my friend, that is something to think about.
" . . . Oh we come on the ship they called the Mayflower
Oh we come on the ship that sailed the moon
we come in the Ages' most uncertain hours
and we sing an American tune.
Oh but it's all right. It's all right.
You can't be forever Blessed
Tomorrow's another workin' day
All I'm tryin', is to get somewheres."
SEPTEMBER 23, 2001
LIFE IN WARTIME
Monday morning, we all woke up and found to our dismay that, no, it was not all a bad dream. Still, the majority went about their lives in a business as usual manner. Even the crazy guy on the corner of Lincoln and Chestnut returned with new signs. Seems the man was told not to soil the property fence with any more signage -- so instead, our mad Island genius has taken to hanging signs on the tree in front of the fence, making them even more obvious than before. Our latest:
Now, there can be few things that have so little to do with what is uppermost on anyone's mind than what appears on this man's signage. Nevertheless, no one can deny that his postings create a set of remarkable images. Now, as always, we consider the man to be either a genius or a madman or both. But he is most definitely an Islander of the first water.
Events began to take place again. We heard noise about the Babylon Blues festival, but due to vehicle difficulties -- like sudden stall on South Shore -- we couldn't make it. In addition, the NIMDA worm had us busy pulling the County back into the realm of functionality. Those of you still sitting in front of a boob tube instead of the computer need to learn that a massive attack on the nation's computer systems began a week ago with the appearance of the NIMDA - reverse spelled as "Admin" -- worm which causes huge congestion in email servers and routers. All of which resulted in widespread internet slowdown and delayed or cancelled email services across the country. The County responded, like most agencies, by first pulling the plug on all services, and then hitting the workstations one by one after disinfecting the servers.
EAST BAY EXPRESS FORMAT STILL SUCKS
After a week of 15 hour days, most of us are pretty well beat-up, so the music-scene will have to wait. In any case, since the East Bay lost its only real reliable weekly when the EB Express sent its format into unreadable etherspace, nobody has been able to get to any events anyway and the highways have been as empty as high noon at Dodge before the Showdown. Maybe the Bridge School benefit happened or is sold out or something -- who knows? Maybe the Blues Festival was a great success -- who knows. The rag responded to September 11th with a puff piece on the "Best of the Bay". Yeah, like anybody really gives a flying f---k about that right now. What is amazing is that, since the collapse of the Exasperator, which no longer bothers to offer itself as an embarrassment complete with typos and broken paragraphs in kiosks anymore, is that no regional news organ has shown any capability to take the initiative and fill the void left by the once prize-winner daily. Instead, everybody seems to have gotten worse. Laurel Wellman has left the SF Bleakly , effectively neutering the Dog Bites column, and the East Bay Excess has seriously compromised its integrity by purchasing a corporate East Coast-based format that causes revulsion in virtually every former reader and which promotes a new level of illegibility.
Its also clear that they stripped the calendar so as to force club owners to pay for pricey column-inch adverts, which really stings the vast majority of the low-budget venues. Crassness, once the exclusive province of Babylon, comes to the humble East Bay.
With relief we welcome back Nancy and Kira from that wierd place called Washington, D.C., built on a swamp and filled with all sorts of swamp creatures, who, no matter how horrible and slimey they may be, do not deserve to have airplanes crashed into them. Also welcome is news of our neighbor from number six, who is a stewardess on United and who has spent an extended vacation in Mexico. And the return of Doug with his wife from Mexico after the border closure was also welcomed.
OH WELL A TOUCH OF GREY
Indian Summer never happened around here and already the chill fogs are rolling in over the headlands and bridges. While puny man struggles and shouts his acts upon the stage, nature's seasons shift inexorably and inevitably, same as usual. The Longs and the Walgreens fill up with scary monster-masks and even scarier sugar confections to be handed out at the end of October while the swooping clouds of Canadian geese lift off from the sanctuaries at Lake Merritt, heading for Rio like all sensible folk. Each year a battalion of swallows circles the Kaiser building at dusk, before heading off to Roost Number Two; our own Capistrano downtown.
On the Island, the irritable neighbors battle the leaf piles, cursing the trees, but if you come within 10 yards of one with a chainsaw, you better have a clear line of escape from the fury, for we well know the cost of clear-cutting around here and we love our shaded alleys, the aisles where generations after generation skated, skipped and biked from stickball game to catch-across-the-street.
This is the normalcy of the real world that remains untorn, that persists through disasters -- and we have had a few -- wars and recession. And when this old body settles down to that last rocking chair by the riverside, all these things will continue for long afterwards as the essence of ourselves.
And that is the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
"It's a lesson to me:
The deltas in the East in the Freeze.
The ABCs we all must face
Try to learn a little grace."
SEPTEMBER 29, 2001
Me and the Significant Other rambled up to Berzerkeley for the Annual How Berkeley Can you Be Festival. We missed the parade, but managed to take in the Turkish belly-dancers and a couple bands as well as the Art Car exhibit, wherein much strange and wondrous was to be found. We found fellow Islander Robert Van De Walle with his "Drive with Grace" concept car. RVDW found himself going nuts doing the commute to Babylon over the Bridge and through the Maze, until one day he just decided to start driving courteously and cooperatively. Pretty much as it says you should do in the DMV handbook.
Instead of easing the commute, the man found his life threatened numerous times such that it became clear that people just didn't get it. In response, the graphic designer painted a huge zipper on both sides of the car with graphic admonitions to Move Over! and Get out of My Way! in an effort to tweak people's driving consciousness while encouraging cooperation instead of competition.
Parked next to Rob's rather sedate vehicle was the "Cathedramobile", a huge sculpted Chevy with a VW welded to the top and converted with stained glass, epoxy, resin and lots of black matt paint into a two-tier cathedral with flying buttresses, gargoyles, spires, strange animals and skulls floating up from the layered surface. Also mentionable were the "rat car", the eyeball car and the shimmering car entirely layered with broken CDs like scales of a prehistoric fish.
As Bishop Berkeley trudged past, carrying a sign denying the existence of material reality and munching a taco, we met the caravan's only entry into the Guinness Book of World Records in the form of the only man every to ride a musical instrument from coast to coast. There was Ray Nelson beside his "Guitarcycle", an old Yamaha XS Special converted into a playable electric guitar.
Ray, a former professional musician, now retired, spends most his time promoting the Guitars Not Guns charity which hands out musical instruments and lessons to kids who need a turn-around in life. Now there ain't nothing better than a young kid and a new guitar. Innerested parties check out http://www.guitarsnotguns.org/.
It was hottern blue blazes Sunday, so we didn't check out the Folsom Street Faire with its leather daddies and macho bonhomie, nor did we plow through traffic for the annual Bridge to Bridge run, which we heard ended in a party with Mother Hips out by the beach. We did hear someone pause by the East Bay Excess table and remark
The EBE format really sucks!
But we don't really want to hammer the point overmuch that the East Bay no longer has a decent weekly rag, now do we?
Relying on Bay Curmudgeon we note that Suzanne Vega precedes Tesla at the Warfield the 6th and the 11th respectively. If that kind of schizoid pairing doesn't flip your wig, then Tammy Faye and John Waters appear together November 8.
What?! The queen of religion, big hair and lacquer nails up there with the director of Pink Flamingos, Pecker and Hairspray? How will the present owner of Judy Garlands' ruby slippers play this one out, inquiring minds wanna know. Baltimore's Native Son, Waters, is sure to ride the far fringes of questionable taste. Someone is sure to be exorcised or excommunicated for sure. Do I sense a catfight?
For even more schizoid pairings, we got thrash-rockers LIT doing the Fillmore on the 4th, followed the following night by the sophisticated jazz quartet led by Charlie Hunter.
Sliding into Mariner Hall with far less fanfare than he deserves is Chris Whitely on the 7th. Paul Dresher's ensemble will play difficult music at the ODC theatre 4th through the 6th. And by now the U2 tickets for the Oakland Coluseum on November 15th have sold every one of those 50,000 seats before noon. This show caps a 15 city tour that has packed the house leaving latecomers crying in their beer for lack of even a century scalp outside the venues. The old Dublin boy, Bono, sure has done well for himself.
Back on the Island everyone has been out to the shore soaking the rays, for our Indian Summer finally hit with a vengeance. All the computer worms and viruses appear to have settled down as our local hackers kick back with brewskis and it appears that our main man Barry Bonds just might break the record this season. You better believe that when he does there'll be parties all up and down International Blvd. and the Fifth Amendment will rock out the news.
All might not be as well with the world as one could wish, but since there is little I can do about it for the moment, think I'll just mosey on down to Everett and Jones to fetch me a plate of ribs on this fine Indian Summer day.
Thats the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
OCTOBER 7, 2001
History is an Angel from Paradise. History is a pile of debris. And the Angel keeps trying to go back and fix things, but there is a storm blowing from Paradise that keeps blowing the Angel backwards into the Future. Walter Benjamin
Under the somber skies of Sunday morn, who should come a calling for a visit but none other than the Island's Man About Town and Chief Motorist of the Island Motor Club, Percy Mandeville-Boughzplatt, perched upon the expensive leather upholstery of his open-top cream and chrome 1937 Bugatti Ace. For Sunday is the day of the Island Car and Italian Motorcycle Show and Percy required a second to assist.
Not having ever attended a car show, save perhaps for the portion at the How Berkeley Can You Be Festival, I hopped right in expecting us to putter right on over to the Green, but I had little understanding of Percy's European sensibilities and I soon discovered that Percy needed a second hand present so that someone could keep the helm steady while he unscrewed his pocket flask and took a little nip. Or two.
First item on the agenda, before popping into the festivities at noon: stock up on provisions and take in a few East Bay events along the way. Due to a number of credit difficulties, too complicated for Percy to detail while touring through the tunnel, built as the first of its kind in 1927, this involved obtaining provisions off of the Island and off of the Island we went at the luxurious speed of 112 miles per hour. The radio went silent when passed under the estuary, allowing us to appreciate the smooth operation of the Italian motor. When we erupted from the tunnel on the Oaktown side a troupe of carriers just leaving the Kim Mee Fortune Cookie Factory had to throw all parcels in the air and scramble for dear life as Percy took the turn on two wheels, LIVE 105 blasting something soothing by Rob Zombie from the radio, which found its voice once again.
Persuaded by various threats, imprecations and the presence of CHP on the freeway, Percy throttled down to something reasonable, which is for Northern California something between 75 and 80 miles per hour. And so it was we motored up to Berzerkeley in time for the 10th Annual Nude and Breast Parade, which we knew about from perusing the Urban Stew.
This marvelous rag is distributed free and contains that noteworthy section called by various weeklies "Calendar" or "Billboard". Many free weeklies contain this section as a public service, except, of course, for the EB Express. Unfortunately, we must inform you that
THE EAST BAY EXPRESS FORMAT STILL SUCKS !
Now, as for the Nude parade, a joyous time was had by all, except a few prepubescent high schoolers who were looking for, shall we say, spicier entertainments than the dignity of 40 and 50-year old flesh is built to provide. Well, admission was open to all, guys. Nevertheless, Percy, dressed in plus-fours, white waistcoat, brown and tan oxfords and a linen driving cap, saluted the nudes and his gracious toast to the "Naked and the Proud of Berkeley" was accepted with applause by all of People's Park. In fact, one UCB undergrad, named Jolene, was so taken by Percy's toast that she hopped over the sidewall of the Bug and plopped into the back seat as we took off. Jolene, it turned out, was a language arts major and so she and Percy hit it off right there, singing all of the cabaret songs of the French Resistance. Down at the Black and White on San Pablo, we stocked up on some basic necessities as french bread -- of course -- cheese, six bottles of Sundial Chardonnay, four bottles of Remy Martin cognac, a case of Tanqueray and another of Jack Daniels, two token bottles each of Johnny Walker and Jamesons Irish, a case of seltzer and two lemons.
Let it be known that Percy vigorously spurned all offers of harder stuff, being the legal gentleman that he is. Jolene, however, got all the "ladies" down there up in arms about the competition and so with zoot-suited men wearing slouch hats sporting huge ostrich feathers pursuing us with pearl-handled revolvers we beat a hasty retreat back to the safety of the Island. But not after Jolene had scored a feather boa off of one of the downtown "ladies". After all, it would not do to come into the Island totally naked.
A side jaunt to visit the memorial to the infamous "Massacre of the Jackasses", commemorating the 1852 mining disaster caused by the cloned descendents of Tallulah Bankhead, the mule, could not be left out for the spot lay only thirteen or so miles out of our way.
You may recall that the genetic structure of the recalcitrant mule -- responsible for the destruction of the priceless statues -- had been inadvertently cloned by a alchemical con artist during the Gold Rush. The details of that story and the 1952 mining disaster must remain for another issue. For now we stick to the present.
Here, before the skeletal structure, with Jolene's boa flapping like Old Glory in the wind, Percy gave his brief honorarium: "Once a jackass is always a jackass, no matter who was responsible. And Tally was definitely one hell of a stupid jackass. Stetenorium Est."
Back to the Island we drove, boa flapping out behind like a great flag, radio playing and songs of the French Resistance filling the air. There remained only the Sunday Promenade at the beach, where the fogs of fair Babylon shroud the distant hills across the water and the dogs wait impatiently for bureaucracy to clear the way for the construction of the downtown dogwalk. Down the Central Avenue we puttered at the Island's strictly enforced 25 MPH rate, observing the change in the air and the birds circling in flocks and all the oaks now, even though the temps remain warm, remembering the changes by going all golden before dropping their coverings. And its as if all the trees just know at this time, its the time of the Nude and Breast Parade.
Down by the water, into the third, or fourth, bottle of Remy, while Jolene startled the poodle walkers -- who seem to become scarce about this time the closer to Thanksgiving we get -- we heard the news.
Bombs on Kabul. War -- real War -- has started.
Suddenly it becomes very hard to laugh. To make joy in this world. Jolene chills in the suddenly cool ocean breeze and there has been no sun all day. Percy gives her his coat. What will her parents back in Iowa think about their daughter running all over the county with no clothes on. Everything changes. We know that this war is unlike all the others, going back to WWII. Then, we relapsed into the age-old race-buried Berserker of the Vikings and bombed entire cities to dust, leaving not one stone upon stone amid terrible firestorms. Given the implacable nature of what we face, the Berserker must come out again, and that is a terrible thing. For us. For the world.
The only way we can defeat such an enemy that carries a memory for over a thousand years is to come to such a point that afterward we look back and say, "My god, I did not think I would ever do that! I am sorry for what I did even though it was necessary." I have been to the Middle East and I tell you this is true. But no one important will ever read this.
You could imagine how this story would normally end, with everyone thrashed out in some Hunter Thompson orgy of excess, a frenzy of atavistic desires and smashed up glass. But these times are not normal. Percy dropped me off at my place underneath a hardware store and then drove Jolene back to Berkeley, presumably, without ever visiting the Island Car and Motorcycle show.
It would have been nice to have taken a Sunday drive with Percy about the Island where I live and maybe startled a few citizens intent on Barry Bonds finally breaking the Record. Even so, the Giants are locked out from the Playoffs and so its harder to care about these things. You could hear the shouts across the Island when he hit that 71st, even as the longest game ever played went into the wee hours. We are happy for Barry, but we know, and he knows, that what follows is not at all very certain.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
OCTOBER 15, 2001
Down on the corner, the annual display for the Bay Area's most significant holiday has usurped the picture windows of Paganos Ace Hardware. In the main window we have a flock of crows hopping and fluttering about a full sized skeleton lying face-down in a field of straw, observed by a couple of four-foot high witches and hunchbacks as well as a snarling panther. Hand-sized tarantulas skitter about the pedestals holding flickering "flames" and bell jars of skulls. In the entranceway window, a life-sized hunch-back waiter proffers a silver platter bearing a rat while bubbling cauldrons, glass beakers of strange flesh, and spiders add a touch of grotesque to an assemblage of severed limbs and a horde of rodents.
Paganos is not your ordinary hardware store.
The Exotic Erotic Ball is displaying its adverts for the famous debauch in Babylon on the 20th, and everyone is gearing up for the only holiday that does not involve obligatory spending, mass consumption and that most horrible of horrors - visiting the relatives.
Leave it to Halloween in a place where playing a role is often a full-time job to bring back a sense of "normalcy". Well, like the bumpersticker says, "Normal people make me nervous."
Meanwhile the A's are fighting the good fight, despite broken bones off of fouled pitches and there's hope in mudville yet for the embattled East Bay to make a showing at the World Serious. It's away from home for the deciding games and any bet on the field is fair. From the wild and carefree days its come down to the down and dirty battle in the dugouts and the wiley arms of pitchers standing alone under the hot lights of world scrutiny. In the Fifth Inning they're gonna be glued to the big screen with bottles of bud clutched in hand when the battle of the "most interesting division games in years" takes over. Down in Oaktown they know what it means to be fighting for the slot to even try, because this is the town that built itself on steelwork and shipping and the strikes of 1916 as well as the Port Warwick explosion and the Great Fire of 1923 when the hopes and dreams of Mayor Davies burned to the ground without a trace left behind.
Well Oakland stands proud and Oakland stands tall and goddamnit it aint over until the fat lady sings. Let the Yankees know they have a power to contend with.
That, after all, is the strength and the energy of the America that drives the piston of its collective heart. We have lived through some difficult times and we remain undivided. Perhaps in the worst case scenario we come to live by the guttering light of candles behind blackout curtains and wear burlap to cover ourselves, just as our grandparents did once before, but in such a case, we remain ourselves knowing that this passage of history is temporary and that all shall pass to a new and better age.
Facing a babbling enemy of no reasonable mind, a shrieking, howling evil that spits like a mad dog without sanity, that cannot, even in its greatest triumph of destroying 5,000 lives and two great capitalist symbols present any coherent backup to its "statement" and say, "Yes, I did this and this is the reason why," we have the down to earth presentation of ourselves.
"I am here", we say. "I am a fact that contradicts you,"
It does not matter if we never find this character called Bin Laden. It long since ceased to matter that the Taliban, that doomed race of hyper-religious idiots refuse to hand him over and that they are about to dissolve in the swirling dust of history. There will always be another Bin Laden, a Hitler, a Napoleon, a freak to enchant the foolish and cause immense harm to people not his own. There will always be a Taliban, a Fascisti, a KKK that purchases favor for money and vice versa. That has always been the way.
What matters is that we remain as a people and that is the very thing that defeats the aims of the terrorists.
It became very clear early on that the aims of the terriers contradict all common sense and reality. What if the wildest dreams of these people came true? Still, all the death and destruction would not be enough. There remains all of China, some 2 billion people, as well as the teeming millions of India and all those countries the terriers seem to have forgotten. And so it is that the extremists become dogs, less than human by their own decree, shouting and barking in their beards like dogs yapping against the sun.
Anyrate on the Island, we have the sign up on the Mysterious House On Lincoln:
Which followed a sequence we failed to record.
Inspite of its potentially morbid overtones, we kinda like the old lunatic's message. Its as if normal lunacy continues apace.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
OCTOBER 21, 2001
The greatest holiday of Northern California swung into action this weekend as the Exotic Erotic Ball kicked off the two-week extravaganza of merrymaking and mischief across the Bay. With strippers and nudists and sexologists galore all romping for eight hours, the Exotic Erotic Ball has become the world's premier event for the decadent. For the next couple of weeks until the end of October, celebrations of all kinds connect the dots as for-real witches burn incense on landsend for Wicca and gaelic pagan worshippers party for Samhain in Marin. Then, of course, we have the X-ians with their traditional costumes and apple-bobbing on the last day of October for All Hallows Eve, known to some as Halloween.
Here on the Island, the annual flocks of Canadian geese settle in, well, flocks, on the lawns of Ritter Park, pausing for a bite on the long trip to Tierra del Fuego. Why do they stop here? Who knows. Maybe because nobody bugs them here on the layover.
We haven't heard from our Man About Town, Percy Boughzplatt, but apparently the Car and Motorcycle show went off rather well. No nude women with feather boas were noticed by the Island Journal. We suspect, however, that we have not heard the last from dear Percy.
As for hearing about local events, we have had to turn to ever more diverse circles since the collapse of the East Bay Excess. From this topical rag, we learn that Livermore lab techs are looking for element 118, which apparently has the consistency of a very old cheese-log, and that the big event this weekend was the opening of a new dog pound. We also learn, in the music review section, that Gina Arnold has a baby and is a real person too. And she does not write for the East Bay Excess anymore. Anyway.
Oh, I am so thrilled. Such a font of useful information! And the ads are soooo tasteful. And there are so many of them! It's like a total Ikea experience!
Wasn't there something called the SF Music Awards going on as well? Um, and we also note that WWW III seems to be in progress. Not that a weekly magazine would have something, anything at all, to say about it.
Well, to put it bluntly, and without hammering the point overmuch,
THE EAST BAY EXPRESS FORMAT STILL SUCKS !
There is also, if you recall, a little problem with energy supplies here in the Golden State. Well, that problem still exists and this November several Northern California districts are getting set to fix the problem with overt public seizure of energy assets and creation of municipal energy districts. All of which might seem in the shadow of WWW III a bit grandiose, but all of which affects each one of us pretty intimately. Here on the Island, our Council has purchased two 400 KW portable stations for providing electrical power and is moving toward use of non-petroleum based fuels as well as disconnection from the state power grid.
Hey, somebody better pay attention, because we are not the only ones doing this. And this may have the long term economic effect far greater than the collapse of the two World Trade Towers.
On the prosaic, and secular side, the City Council officially ratified the earlier decision to abolish X-ian prayer at the Council meetings, making this Council the last Californian district to call on a Deity for support in decision making. From now on, we are all on our own. Maybe not such a bad thing.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
OCTOBER 28, 2001
This years Halloween frenzy continued over the weekend with the following events as a brief selection of shindigs that took -place across the five-counties area:
Nymphomaniacs ball - Saturday evening in Babylon, of course. No one not in costume -- or sans all -- admitted. One wonders how some managed to carry the door fee...
Power Exchange ball -- This one was for those who like it rough and who dress up in costume on the weekends anyway. Word is the midnight slave auction was a big hit.
Fence sitters Ball -- This was the catch-all for those who cannot decide. Decide what? you may ask. Well, door fee went by triads instead of couples.
Bluegrass festival - Golden Gate park in Babylon.
Nothing more erotic than a fiddle and a banjo together. Allison Krauss
headlined this one.
Hip-hop halloween -- Hey, even yo breakin' an' poppin' bad-selves can get down on this day with some really fly costumes like fo' sho'. Gimme the four-one-one.
Wymyns spiral dance for Hallowmas -- Up in Marin, where there are more witches per capita than Salem, MA, they had a mid-week do for the non-linear set. What could be better than being a witch all year, I ask you that?
ADIEU OLD FRIEND
We count yet another casualty in the rent wars, which continue in the midst of recession. The venerable Maritime Hall announced it is closing its doors due to the skyrocketing rents. MH demonstrated considerable success in attracting huge names for well attended shows, and relatively disciplined crowds, for some six years. The owners were making money -- but just not enough to pay the exhorbitant rents now being hammered out there. Also in trouble is the famous Project Artaud, which just may be the last bastion of fringe performance down in the warehouse district. The immense warehouse building contains six performance and practice stages plus a plethora of workshops and gallerys housed in the warren-like space and they are conducting fund-raisers with circus-acts to stay alive. What is the world coming to?
THE DEAD AT A.C.T. GEARY THEATRE
"It was always a great affair, the Misses Morkan's annual dance. Everybody who knew them came to it . . ."
Me and the Significant Other scrambled over to Babylon to catch the ACT production (in conjunction with the Huntington Theatre Company from Boston) that won a Tony last year. Now the title The Dead, might not fill the uniformed with, well, enthusiasm, but for this old Joycean, who just can never get over having to quake in his boots for three hours before a distinguished panel while discussing the man in the portrait above, I just had to go.
And let me tell you it was worth it, for all the mapcap tearing about town trying to hook up, the careering across the Bay Bridge at eighty miles per hour, the breathless sprint up from the Union Square garage and across the four lanes of Geary Boulevard before gallopping up Geary to the Theatre. Only 10 minutes late. But the doorpeople there are the greatest in the world and after the first song, we were seated.
Song? James Joyce? "The Dead?" How could they make a bloody musical out of a short story that is not exactly uplifting material? Well, they did and Jimmy, a prizewinning tenor in his day, would have been pleased. Loaded with pieces from contemporary George Moore and filled with exactly the kind of Irish joi de vivre et musique that characterized all of his works, from his first book, Chamber Music, through "Love's Old Sweet Song" running through Ulysses, to the music-saturated Finnegans Wake.
From the original short story, but with the full text of what D'arcy was singing added:
"He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were a symbol of something. He asked himself what is a woman standing on the stairs in the shadow, listening to distant music, a symbol of. . . The song seemed to be in the old Irish tonality . . .
If you'll be the Lass of Aughrim
As I am taking you mean to be
Tell me the first token
That passed between you and me.
O don't you remember
That night on yon lean hill
When we both met together
Which I am sorry now to tell.
O the rain falls on my yellow locks
and the dew it wets my skin;
My babe lies cold within my arms . . ."
As fiercely sentimental and great-hearted as the Irish people themselves, the ACT adaptation took a few liberties with the text and meaning, reordering Gretta's remembrance of her long-dead lover to the beginning of the evening when she sees one of Julia's students who reminds her by looks of Micheal Fury. This has her sing Moore's "Golden Wand" in remembrance of the song Micheal used to sing. The suggestion of a failed, or discarded, pregnancy followed by a family removal from the town to the east is supplanted by the poignancy of the remembrance carried throughout a very long evening of painful evocations and her husband's increasing estrangement from her mood. D'Arcy, played by Gannon McHale, sings, instead, quite a lovely aria in Italian to Julia. The subject of his modest offering remains "traure" (sadness).
The spoiled affair for Lily, the housemaid, and what it means for a young woman in 1904 hyper-religious Ireland to go unmarried, is left to odd imprompt guestures by the actress, backgrounding the action of the principals. Even more subsumed is the reality of the three spinsters, serenaded by "the boys" as "the three graces," but this is not a bad choice to make for the sake of drama. One really nice touch features Aunt Julia confronting the ghost of her youth on her deathbed and singing a poignant duet.
The production shines by far when it celebrates the vigourous joy of life, as in when the entire cast respondes to the downstairs neighbor rapping for quiet by performing a shouting, stomping number titled "Wake the Dead!" and in its very topical evocation of miscarried patriotism. Instead of the catlike teasing suggested in Joyce's story, ACT's Brandy Zarle as Molly Ivors shouts and stamps, "West Briton! Why don't you know your own country!" Gabriel Conroy describes the dinner laid out like a military mobilization, and, of course, there are the Joycean references to Parnell, who stood as Ireland's last real chance at intact Homerule until brought down in a sex scandal that, the circumstances of which, by todays standards, seem rather trivial. Parnell was hounded from office and public life and continually vilified until he died, according to coroners report, of a broken heart.
In 1914, Dubliners, containing "the Dead", came out just as World War One began. It was immediately banned in Ireland and America and placed on the Catholic Forbidden List of Banned books. The galleys and the first run plates were destroyed by book burners and the printer was arraigned on charges of printing "pornography". In 1916, the Irish Rebellion was put down when the British brought in cannons and machine guns and virtually destroyed downtown Dublin. Sixteen of the survivors holed up in the General Post Office were tried for treason, shortly convicted and all hanged to a man -- including the wounded -- shocking even supporters of the English occupation. By 1921, the island erupted into a bloody civil war, the result of which produced the two Irelands we see today. And feelings still run high.
In the grimy old neighborhood haunt called Freight and Salvage, I remember listening to an IRA representative speak beneath the flags of Ireland's 42 counties that hang all about the room. I will remember to this day the man's firm conviction as he said, "We don't want peace. We want justice!"
That was over fifteen years ago and today there is still no more justice than there is peace. In Ireland or anywhere else for that matter. The ACT production is not, however, about defeatist notions that we are all locked into the eternal round-about of Patrick Morkan's horse, for this is drama and drama is the "goat dance" celebrating life after all. It is for this reason that the final tableax at ACT features Gretta sitting up and taking Gabriel's hand, instead of turning to face the darkness and perpetual evocation of the past. It is possible to be patriotic without violence. It is not necessary to become a one-eyed "Citizen" waiving your shillelagh and howling for murder in the pub to love one's country, as the context of the play attests. The entire work is a celebration of a place and its vital timeless qualities without bloodshed. And more for that than any trivial nostalgia and theatrical sentimental did the cast deserve two curtain calls and the standing ovation.
"The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. . . . His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead."
NOVEMBER 11, 2001
For those of you nusmatic types, today's date is written 11.11.01. Knew you would be impressed.
Furthermore this is the month we look forward to the Great Holiday Season and that most auspicious holiday known hereabouts as the Annual Thanksgiving Poodleshoot and BBQ. If you are new to the Island, then hop on over to last year's Statement of Rules for this day of days. You just have not really lived on the Island until you have taken in hand a Winchester .30-06 and blown little old Fluffy sky-high on the run.
Makes you darn proud to be an American in this great land of ours.
NOT SO SILENT NIGHT
This year's LIVE105 benefit for the AIDS Foundation disturbs the neighbors and generally tears the roof off December 7th at the San Jose Arena. Please note that the newspaper ads mislocate the venue to the Henry J. Kaiser Aud in Oakland. Something of a family tradition among us now, me and the Significant Other will be chaperoned by a passel of teens. Linkin Park, System of a Down, AFI and P.O.D are among those promising to damage the eardrums and toss moshers into a tizzy.
The more sedate amongst ya might prefer the KFOG Concert for Kids, headlined by Stevie Nicks and John Mayer on December 9th. Rumor is that the first concert in the series, which kicked off with Melissa Etheridge really rocked.
I DON'T PRACTICE SANTARIA
This time the top end of goat was found on Harbor Bay Parkway, complete with horns, making this one number Nine in the Dead Goat series this year. The Island Sun has been reporting the police blotter -- far more effectively than the Island Gerbil we might add -- and we note further instances of "identity theft" as well as armed robbery and burglary to the tune of three a day. Unfortunately, none of the robbers broke any traffic laws, which means the Island PD could and can do nothing. Just try turning left off of Park Street at the wrong time, however, and Officer O'Madhauen will be on you like a shot with his moustaches furiously twitching and his sidearms unbuttoned.
Speaking of traffic, the first Council meeting to take place without a religious invocation recently passed a resolution for a comprehensive Transit Plan, to include traffic control, bolstered mass transit and light rail solutions. This appears to be the positive nod in the direction of constructing the first aerial tram on the West Coast. The gondolas are to depart from the West End Ferry Terminal and pass over the water to the Oakland Macarthur BART station. Hey, the Island is finally movin' Uptown!
AND YOU SAY THIS PLACE IS NON-PROFIT?
Some of the long term Island residents are hopping mad over the recent defection of the Island Medical Group to the notorious Kaiser system. This takes 90% of the Island Hospital doctors over to a system that is gaining increasingly bad Karma in a serious way. Kaiser has been merging long-standing hospitals right and left all over Northern California and the results have not been pretty, with massive cutbacks in services, layoffs and generally poorer treatment facilities and procedures. They are putting a clinic on the Island just in a time when the local Island Hospital is going through some serious cash problems. The hospital has closed its natal unit -- basically under the excuse that makin' babies was not profitable. Administrators also closed down the gero-psych unit when Medicare changed rules on payments, also under the excuse of profitability. Now the directors are screaming after all the recent insurance changes and the hospital is threatening to close since it became noticed that it was operating in the red since 1999 -- like every other public hospital.
But Island H. never claimed to be "public"; they only claimed to be "non-profit", although one wonders just what all was happening over there with the money for the thirty some years prior to 1999. This "non-profit" has been refusing service absolutely to poor and indigent folk, shipping them over to Highland or simply refusing treatment outright.
In addition, the Hospital has also racked up a less than impressive record for workplace injuries and has been investigated by Cal-OSHA for the high numbers of Workers Comp claims that have been filed. When our undercover Island-life investigator checked out some of the facts, we found that at least one HR department staffer actively misleads workers regarding their rights so as to shunt aside even more injury claims, that this person has attempted to create, schedule, and make mandatory dubious courses of treatment -- including physical therapy -- based on medical diagnoses performed by herself for which the woman is wildly underqualified. We found physicians reminding the lady that she is not a doctor, not trained in therapeutic techniques, and that her actions extend beyond the pale of legality. And that subsequent workers lawsuits have cost the hospital quite a lot of money.
Now, we think that having a hospital on the Island is a fine thing and a non-profit hospital is a very fine thing, but we don't think it is so very fine that this hospital claims to be something that it is not and that not all residents are allowed services. Unconditionally. We also think that the Island has already lost one facility -- called formerly the City Jail -- because the people that ran the place did not know how to behave and that perhaps the same thing should happen to the hospital, seeing as not everybody can use it anyway. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
We note the Island Sun, a johnny-come-lately to the freebie newsrag scene, is printing a vastly superior police blotter than the Island Gerbil, the reportage of which makes the Island look like a comic version of quaint little town in Iowa. Good job guys. Also to be noted is the Urban View, which now is using local artists to do the covers each week. Now that is what I call supporting your community.
Over in Babylon, the big news, of course, is the disputed passage of a proposition to depose PiGgiE and establish a municipal energy district that will finally control the hydroelectrics of the Hetch Hetchie dam. PGE didn't help its case any when they revealed, days before the election, that profits had increased a whopping 289%. This goes quite against the poormouth claims from the utility. Claims which supposedly caused the widespread power blackouts only a little while ago.
MORE ON TERRIERISM
The Island Police, somewhat embarrassed by last weeks episode when a pack of Terriers succeeded in taking over City Hall on a Sunday, released an updated photo of the most evil Terrier of them all, Osima Bin Laddie.
Longtime readers of this column will not be surprised to note that His Furriness is a member of the outcast Saudi Silverpoodle breed. Citizens are cautioned that this character is highly dangerous -- more so than the infamous Python Rabbit with "teeth this long". In addition, Bin Laddie is a noted master of disguise. Individuals encountering the likes of this one may discover that beneath a false beard and burnoose a terrible creature lurks with the heart of darkness.
The somewhat red-faced Officer O'Madhauen and his troops have been called on the carpet -- much soiled after last Sunday's events -- for allowing such a nefarious personage to take over city hall with a bunch of Terriers, the bulkiest of which weighed no more than 12 pounds wet.
In O'Madhauen's defense, the man could no more have predicted the takeover of City Hall by a pack of wild dogs than he could have foreseen a Weimariner learning how to drive a truck. But some claim that, in view of three to four robberies occurring each day on the Island -- increasingly involving the use of firearms -- the man's rather obsessive-compulsive attention to traffic infractions was, if not madly irrational, at least seriously misplaced.
The Officer's response to these charges was to mention that he would extend his rubric to most positive enforcement of the Island leash laws.
"If any Terrier comes around here without a proper leash on him or driving a vehicle without a license, then by the nose of the Pope we'll have him put straight away for sure!" says O'Madhauen. "And whoever is sendin' doggie poop around in the mails had better cut out the pranks or by cracky I'll put out his lights meself!"
Well there were more words spoken at the Press briefing, but eventually they all headed over to Malloys to enjoy a round stood by the gentleman Officer and no more criticism of how the governement was handling things was heard through the night.
That's how it is on the Island. Have a grand week and if you are a Vet, well, thank you.
NOVEMBER 4, 2001
The Post Halloween period eases in the Bay Area into a gentle between-the-seasons time of pre-Holiday hysteria, soon to be fraught with rabid purchasing at the frenetic behest of desperate salesmen and impoverished salesgirls longing for fame in Macy's socks department -- or at least a goddamned film break when then they'll really show 'em.
But for now the iron pickets along Central on the Island remain draped with spiderwebs and shrunken heads, and various lawns stay converted to whimsical fairylands of cemetaries and witches caldrons and the costume shoppe on Lincoln flashes its strobe over the $1,800 hunchback that somehow nobody bought this year. Up in Rockridge that nine-foot spider still hangs, reflective on past times in his acre-long web from housefront to housefront and there are quite a few young goblins still working into the stash of cavity-creating babe ruths and sourballs.
Down on the shore they found another headless goat, bringing the year's total to 8 goats found, plus a bevy of four chickens and a passel of candles. So far, no luckless goatherd has raised his or her hand to protest the loss from the herds and no Santaria devotees have ratted on their brethren for animal cruelty.
In other news, the Island sends its best to Washington D.C. in the form of 20 tap dancing Christmas Trees.
We kid you not.
Apparently, a small thicket of 8 trees has grown over the years into a forest of, well, kitsch, and we now have over 20 women dressed in full hoop skirts as fully decorated Christmas trees. And they tap dance. One wonders what Dubya, preoccupies with World War III and an economy that is tanking worse than the Titanic -- much as it did under his father -- is going to make of this spectacle. We do not have any word of what music will be employed by these redoubtable ladies, but we assume it will not include "You Done Stomped upon My Heart."
While the Gov'ner has been dealing with protecting the Golden State's bridges from attack, the Island had its own meeting with anthrax-fright when a local postman, discovering he was covered in a mysterious white powder after a run, freaked out and brought in the FBI and State Health Inspectors. The entire mail truck, with all contents, was taken by the FBI for examination. At least now, you have a good excuse for that late payment. Hey, checks in the mail, dude . . .
WE INTERRUPT THIS REGULAR COLUMN FOR AN URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT:
CITY HALL HAS BEEN HIJACKED BY A GROUP OF TERRIERS !
At two PM a group of Terriers seized control of the building on Central Avenue with the avowed intent of crashing this building into Jack London Square. As the building is firmly planted in its earthquake-proof foundations, the prospect of a copycat "WTC episode" seems remote, however the Chief of Police, Bunny Matthews is taking the threat seriously and has alerted the National Guard, who solemnly assure that they will destroy the building -- with all of it contents -- if it should sail or take to the air.
At present, there is a stalemate situation, with the Terriers holding both floors of the 19th century building. Officer O'Madhauen's troops have the place completely surrounded.
In a communique issued at five pm, the Terrier's issued the following demands:
The planned downtown renovation is to include an ariel dogwalk and all firehydrants are to be surrounded by a bed of sand.
All cats are to be removed from the Island and people are not to think about them anymore.
Harbor Bay Island is to be converted into an exclusive Terrier preserve with its own government and UN representation.
All fire engine and police sirens are to be modified so as to emit at a lower register.
These demands are a prelude to ending the entities known as the United States, Canada, France, Holland, China, and Tobago as well as the rest of the Western Hemisphere, plus much of the East, which the Terriers have other plans for and would everyone just please give in to that.
In response, Mayor Ralph had this to say: "These demands are really stupid."
The Terriers have plastered images of their insurrectionist leader over the windows of City Hall to foil sharp-shooters. Police have long known this leader to be an evil and most bad dog indeed and even his own family has disowned him, terming him "the devil incarnate," and one who refused to be housebroken or use the litter box. He is called Obediah bin Lassie and here is the image used by his cohorts:
More news at 7.
NEWS FLASH: MAJOR BREAK IN CITY HALL TAKEOVER
We have just learned that digitized images of the infamous Tallulah Bankhead Jackass have been found in cars used by suspected Terriers. "At last the picture tube of Terrier-ism all becomes clear!" exclaimed Officer O'Madhauen. It will be remembered by long-time readers of this column that Tally was the jackass responsible for the destruction of the priceless statues and her cloned descendents for the infamous mining disaster of 1852. "Now the face of evil has an image that we all can see!" councilperson DeWitt remarked. The mayor has instituted a program to rout out all jackasses on the Island and turn them over to the proper authorities.
Any persons coming into contact with this jackass must remember this is a most infamous jackass and highly dangerous.
Ms. Diddle of the Highschool Library Association was brained by a food dish during the takeover and is not expected to recover full use of her faculties. "These Terriers aint human!" said noted Islander Joe Bailey. "They aint nothin' but dogs!" True enough in this case.
NEWS FLASH: CITY HALL RETAKEN FROM TERRIERS!
Chief Bunny Matthews, deciding enough foolishness had gone on during his watch, and, noting the rapid approach of dinnertime, had the fire department storm the City Hall steps with firehoses which quickly put the besieged Terriers in hot water. The Thin Blue Line followed quickly after to restore order to the city building. It was all over rather quickly, much to the disappointment of the KPIX film crew hoping for a good feed of the occupied building for the News At Nine. The perps have been apprehended, and, except for the prime instigator, Obediah bin Lassie who remains at large, they have been securely kenneled and await proper discipline.
Once again, justice prevails and freedom has been secured. As for Lassie and Tally, Officer O'Madhauen has this to say: " Oh me buckos, just let 'em break a single traffic ordinance and we'll be on 'em like a shot for sure!"
And that's all for this week on this Island where there is never a dull moment at the pizza parlor. We pause last with Marsha Jenkins Drudge, whose job it is to keep City Hall and other government buildings clean and sanitary.
"Y'all make such a mess wif yo politiks and killin' each otha an' fo' sho' I'm allus the one to clean up afta y'all. Sakes, if y'got no sense then 'least clean up afta yo'selves! Lookit this dog poop all ova'!"
Well, that's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week -- and don't sniff your mail.
NOVEMBER 18, 2001
The blowsy barmaid came out to watch the two omadhauns stringing icicle lights from the eves of McRath's pub down the way today and there's a creeping display of evergreen festooned with flashing lights encroaching on October's hobgoblins and witches and boney arms at Pagano's. Its the In-between Season, where we celebrate nothing, but drive badly -- to the delight of Officer O'Madhaun -- and prepare for that long indrawn breath known as the Holiday Season.
Upcoming, in this interim period, is a much slimmer Blues Traveler at the Warfield on the 12st. The David Grisman Quartet brings the relatively peaceful sound of "string music" on the 8th of December after Slayer has destroyed a few eardrums and used up all the dry ice within miles on the 7th. Spike and Mikes Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation continues somewhere sometime in Babylon. If you have to ask, don't bother. Spike and Mike are the ones who "discovered" South Park. For what its worth.
Those of you who wanted tickets to Live105's Not So Silent Night are SOL, my friends, for the show is SOLD OUT and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth in the land of Gilead or Lost Tickets. But me and the teens got ours so chill. dudes. We'll tell you all about it.
Over in Babylon, the anti-PGE initiative went down in such a sea of scandal and bad vote counting that the issue is sure to rear its head again. Losing by a meagre 12 votes, the initiative would have booted PGE from the City and established a publicly owned power utility that would have taken over the energy generated by the dams at Hetch Hetchy -- as stipulated and required by city charter. PGE did not help its cause by announcing a 300% profit increase during the period when rolling blackouts were enforced. The opposition is even now gathering considerable force and Those In the Know say it is only a matter of time before PGE gets the final boot from the City That Knows How.
BETTER LIFE THROUGH MASCARA
Perhaps not fully realizing the significance of her current popularity, Tammy Faye speachified next to Baltimore's favorite son, John Waters, and managed to bring the house down. Albeit, not exactly by intention.
The once icon of Christian Heal-Thyself TV, Tammy Faye has become, in short, an icon of the most outrageous Trannyshack transvestites and flaming gays since the days of Caberet. The weird thing is that Tammy appears not to notice and that many of her National Enquirer-reading followers have not a clue as to the real source of her notoriety. John Waters seems to be clearly aware of what this trailor-park madam represents, and so he typically gives his spiel and lquickly eaves the stage to Ms. Tammy to present eyeliner tips and kitschy guidance. Now Waters is a man known for having filmed a 200 pound transvestite on top a toilet howling "More eggs! More Eggs!", but even this display seems to extend beyond the boundaries of good taste. At the conclusion of her performance Tammy called on all those present to pull the American flags from under their seat and wave them in commemoration of the horrible attack on "September 9th". Tammy took up the mike and sang "America the Beautiful."
About Tammy Faye, John Waters remarked, "She's a militant Christian fag hag drama queen . . . She's got the eyelashes; I've got the moustache. We're eyeliner headliners."
OFFICER O'MADHAUN STYMIED
In other local news, Officer O'Madhaun failed to make an arrest of a wanton red-light scoflaw when the good man of the law ran afoul of a pile of doggie doo whilst in hot pursuit in his brogans. The malefactors got clean away, leaving the Thin Blue Line scraping their shoes with any stick that came to hand. "Cursed terriorists about!", O'Madhaun was heard to say. Among many other curious expressions in the demotic gaelic not often heard in these parts.
OH SO NOW YOU SAY
The "news" that the country was entering another recession met with hella "yeah so what?" response. For the clueless, the country has been in recession since October of last year and at last count close to half a million jobless began to push that "recession" into something somewhat deeper. Even now, the Great Confabulator pisses and craps in the diapers provided by a Service while his mind descends past layers of constructed memory and his wasting disease eats away what little of soul and mind the asshole ever had. Out of dark dreams he wakes with his arms waving, yelling for Haig and Greenspan to save him from the legions of commie pinko california worms that crawl over his skin like little pink, furry bears.
He hated California and the people that rejected him three times -- at least. He tried to destroy the State that allowed him a governorship in error. Now, his body and mind rot at the expense of the Nation down in SoCal and only faint images of the Golden State trouble him with visions of reality. And the Nation must deal with the aweful legacy of his implacable anger and hatred and intolerance in the form of his protege George Bush and his progeny in turn, Bush the junior.
We have before us the incredible task of rebulding, virtually from scratch, a new nation that arises phoenixlike from the ashes of September 11th. It would be a terrible loss of opportunity to let this slide into business as usual. In the conflagration of falling glass and dust and concrete, there was no white or black or yellow or brown for all were destroyed equally -- more so than any constitution could guarantee. And out of the rubble, the city that arises must build itself anew in the shape and color of its inhabitants.
THE LIGHT AND CAREFREE
Only a few days to get in your hunting tags for the much vaunted Island Poodleshoot and BBQ. Typically, the affair has such a local informality, especially after several bottle of Wild Turkey, that reservation chits are soon disregarded, but still, you wouldn't want to miss out on the fun and Special Awards Ceremoney now would you? Sure you wouldn't. All submissions must include a valid photo ID, proof of liability and life insurance and proof of legal gun ownership.
Now we had a few Mac-daddies over from Oaktown who got by the latter requirement, but y'all better start keeping some eye on the legalities here. Shootin' poodles is considered serious business by some folks. And some even want to put a stop to it. So keep yerselves restricted to 10 round clips at least, ya hear?!
THEY WERE A CHEERY LOT. CHEERY AND VIOLENT.
Here on the Island we are a peaceful lot. Only occasionally given to the rude outburst. On an Island, you just can't start slinging your guns and blowing up stuff at random because there is no place to run to when things get out of hand.
We had a fellow who imagined that a huge hedgehog was after him and causing him to do all sorts of nasty things to little girls, but they found there was no hedgehog and so they put him straight away in the loony bin up on the hill at Villa Fairmont.
That's what they should have done to Bin Lassie right away, but somebody took him seriously and then somebody else took him seriously and that was the end of everything. Maybe that's the big problem with all the things here. People start taking the most ridiculous things for serious when life gets impossible and then there you are, following around a guy with a big cherry nose and oversize shoes and painted face for a leader when anybody else can see the guy is a goddamn Bozo.
Anyrate, here we are a year into the new millenium and things don't look so good already. Have a decent week at least. That's the way it is on the Island.
NOVEMBER 25, 2001
A REPORT ON THE ANNUAL ISLAND POODLESHOOT AND BBQ
WHAT ON EARTH WENT ON IN THE HOUSE OF ODYSSEUS
Well, the annals of the Island shall remember this Thanksgiving for many a year following for the weather and political events and poodles all conspired to make this a most memorable Holiday. It must have been the extraordinary weather, for nothing else can explain what happened.
Come around me laddies, for I would sing of arms and the people of the Island -- those people who are never at a loss. Fate made us fugitives from urban blight -- we were the first to travel far from the coasts of Babylon after the sack of Bush. Who here remembers the terrible times of '83? Across the lands and waters we was battered beneath the violence of High Ones; for savage Reagan's unforgetting anger; and many sufferings were ours in war. We struggled hard to save ourselves and bring our companions safely home, but many perished by their own madness. Raise up your glass me lads and revisit once again the cities of man and learn their different ways in peace.
I call now on the God of the Waters of Life, Uscque-ba', who resides in the cruiskeen luin to grant me words to fill this tale. Grant me the silver tongue of Vatus Seamus Heaney, the golden wit of Nuala Ni'Domhnaill. Listen, Muse, while I sing this song. Listen, Muse; I sing not loud nor long. Or Whatever.
THE FIRST DAY
Dawn extended her rosy fingers to stir Padriac, for Padraic needed to be about and making ready for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ. Gently she brushed the shadows of Morpheus from the eyelids of sleeping Padraic and deftly stirred his morning stirabout. When Padraic failed to stir except to turn about beneath the bedcovers, Dawn gave him a mighty wack for Dawn is not one to be trifled with and that got him up all right.
It was important that Padraic be prompt for Padraic was this year's Offical Beverage Supply and Control Officer and Padraic had obtained a substantial supply of hard stuff from the Old Country just for the purpose. And let it be known poodle-huntin is thirsty work.
We'll skip the usual enumeration of the assembly so as to get right to it.
Down at the Landing there was much libation and spilling of Padriac's whiskey. To give nuance to the Event, the Island Hoophole Boys Symphonic Orchestra turned out in force with trumpets, kettledrums, fifes, fiddles, didgeradoo and bagpipes and a merrier noise you never heard when they all bent to play "A Nation Once Again." The Rules were read, oracles were consulted, the keg was tapped, and at eight o'clock the starting gun went off. Immediately the hunters dispersed only regroup at Jacks for breakfast, for no one can bear a poodlehunt on an empty stomach. Colum had brought a flask of the good stuff which went liberally into everyone's coffee.
At the more reasonable and leisurely hour of half-past ten the hunters dispersed again.
Across the Island came the merry sounds of the hunt in the form of cries of "Poodle there!" and "Clear shot!" and "Look out ya daft sod, by jaysus!" Bruce of Oakland took a pair of Miniature Greys with a single shot from his crossbow darts, tipped with C4.
By afternoon it became clear by various signs that a herd of poodles had gathered, or been driven, to the West End, but by that time the supply cask began to run low and in many thoughts turned to dinnertime. There was little to suggest that things would run amiss until close to sunset a phenomenal explosion dropped the bicycle bridge main span right into the pond. A number of terriers were seen scampering from the scene.
A halt to the days festivities was called. So ended the first day.
THE SECOND DAY: THE BATTLE OF RITTER PARK
The Second Day began woozily with beer and a brandy chaser for the cold. Things really began to fly apart when Officer O'Madhaun attempted to issue a ticket to a motorized pram crossing against the light on Otis Drive and was assaulted by a pair of guard terriers who appeared out of nowhere. The Good Officer had need to resort to his chemical defences and liberal application of his baton and was glad enough to escape with his life when the terriers were joined by a pack of mixed breed poodle terrierists.
Meanwhile, Eugene Gallipagus found himself treed in a palm when he lost his firearm in the lagoon while taking a little nip anon from his hip flask. Unarmed and pursued by poodles, real or imagined, the man shinned up one of those goofy palms down by 8th street and no amount of persuading could bring him down. Not until that flask was empty.
At the same time, the Calumny brothers with Eustice and Fay enountered a pack of Silverhairs dug in at Ritter Park and, armed with quart bottles fortified from the Official Keg and Winchester rifles, began exchanging fullisades for quite some time. You may think that the Fairer Sex would retreat at this bloody assault, but Eustice and Fay gave as good as they got, vigorously pumping out round after round until the smell of cordite perfumed the air. It was not until the following day that a concerned passerby indicated that the "return fire" was, in fact, richochets off of the tin roof and eves of the school. Much harm was done before this realization, however, and the For Sale vehicals parked along the road lost all their glass as a consequence.
At the time, however, everyone had in mind the terrible outrage when City Hall was hijacked and then the additional insult of blowing up the bicycle bridge to Harbor Bay Island. Of course emotions ran high and the general feeling was that moderation in pursuit of poodles is no virtue.
It must have been this sort of sentiment that moved Artie Javier to remove the top of his Ford SUV and mount a hyperventilated liquid acetylene welding torch to the lip and then, well supplied with fifty-gallon drums of petrol and Padriac's home brew, he took to the beach and set it, the outhouse, the boardwalk and himself on fire. For some two miles. Saints preserve us from the screams. Not to mention those of Artie, who dove into the ocean to quench himself and found that salt water does not a balm make to open sores.
Fortunately for those dwelling along the peaceful strand, the sky opened up with a vengeance and buckets began to lash down through a howling wind. The Hoophole Band and Orchestra scattered down by the cove looking for shelter.
Five hunters boozing it up in the Eighth street park with the horn section of aforementioned Orchestra, not far from a certain palm tree, took refuge under the children's playset in the sand while fronds whipped by and branches crashed to the ground all about them. "Thank heaven for Cabela's," one feller said, tugging down his extra-special Poofter-Reproof Stetson. Just then the sky made a frightful crack and Eugene slipped to earth, breaking his leg in three places.
Thus ended the Second Day.
THE THIRD DAY: THE BATTLE IN THE BOG
Saturday began in a wet welter of lashing rain, falling trees and soggy spirits, which the various parties attempted to keep alive by liberally tapping the seemingly inexhaustible keg of Padriac. A rude night was spent in the field by many however.
An emergency meeting of the City Council was had, without religious invocation, and laws were passed restricting movements about the Island and calling for bicycle and pram permits with photo ID. A Detention of the Hounds act was passed amid some acrimonious debate and was vigorously protested by the Chins, the Kais and the Jindo-Chiens on account of previous unforgotten abuses. Supernumery powers were granted to the Traffic Division of the IPD, that included detention without warrant or charge, enforced finger and paw printing, unrestricted surveillance of pounds, kennels, garages and runs, spontaneous search and seizure -- especially motor vehicals and bicycles. Furthermore, assets of known, suspected or probable bicycle shops that may possibly have had something to do with blowing up bridges and harboring terriers became part of the Traffic Division's duties.
Now a few individuals began to question the extent of what they claimed was a bad over-reaction in the wrong direction as the means to handling the case of a pack of bad doggies, but these were quickly hushed up and put away and nobody heard from them again. What's good enough for Chili is good enough for us. And that is the American Way.
Out upon the Field of Honor, under pelting rain, the hunters let fly with everything against anything that moved, for it became impossible to see anything clearly with all the weather and the thick smoke drifting over from where Artie had set it afire mingling with the gun smoke and the occasional flash-bang of a surplus grenade.
The ground at Eighth Street Park down below the baseball diamond began to turn soft with all of the rain. Down by the Crab Cove picnic structures, a gang of poodles managed to take dripping shelter together with an unknown number of wirehairs and scotties. Well it was pissing rain like all the angels had gone to a frat party at Chico and poodles have to hang out somewhere. As for the scotties it was clear that they did not care what company they kept in this wet and so they became fair game. Seeing this, Jim Kitson took up his blunderbus and ran out towards them in a foolhardy charge and promptly fell flat on his face in the mud before the poodle assembly. And of course they bit him. Running, sliding and slipping to his aid, but finding her flintlock useless in the humidity, Susan Laing swung her rifle stock about her head and clubbed a Munchkin Toy about the ears. There began a melee when the other hunters came up and this action will be henceforth forever known as "The Battle of the Bog". The hunters were driven back by missle weapons past the little slide where they gathered in a bunch surrounded by the snarling, yapping pack.
Only an early nightfall brought merciful end to the slaughter. Thus ended the Third Day.
THE FOURTH DAY: THE MEDDLING GODS
The Fourth Day began in a rollcall of injuries and disaster. Colum fell asleep underneath the Official Beverage Container and woke up in such a state with whatever was in that stuff permeating his brain until he rose in a frenzy and seized his grandfather's military saber. Seeing poodles and terrierists everywhere he ran out to the beach in his skivvies to prevent the landing craft from coming in with more of whatever might try and invade California. Now Column had long been a member of the Native Plants and Species Association, and so it must be remembered that just about 90 percent of the planet had been long pigeonholed in the man's skull for years as some form of potential enemy. It was largely for this reason that nobody hindered him from going down to the beach and flailing away with that rather nasty saber at the waves, all the while shouting "Up the Republic!"
So there you have the start of the dismal Fourth Day: Colum is out beating the ocean waves in his underwear with a saber, Officer O'Madhauen appeared a sorry sight with his uniform in tatters, his baton a twiddle, his oxters stained, his galluses tangled and his boxers in a twist, yet dangerously armed with new and silly ordinances. Eugene lay with a broken leg and Jim Kitson laid low by a nasty flesh wound. Both Calumny brothers down with self-inflicted gunshot injuries and the beach blackened and smoldering. Holly Golightly rode her bicycle off the end of the bicycle span into the pond and darkness covered her eyes.
Up on the hillock the little band of hunters, out of ammunition, remained surrounded and in desperate straits.
Such was the dispute on the Island that even the Gods took sides. Angus ną Og gave favor to the hunters on the hilltop, but the Sč of Ballyougue had it for poor Colum over a long ago slight so they drove him mad. The God of Bureaucracy, Loki, delighted in the whimsical decisions of the Council, for cumbersome and idiotic law always delights Loki, such is the nature of this God. The Imp of the Perverse, Poe, gave favor to the poodles, for wherever the reason and sense of man is overturned, there goes the Imp. Now this way, now that went the war upon the bog and the field of Ritter. And things looked very hard, very hard indeed for the mortals thereon.
And when all seemed at its darkest, there came a shout for after the defeat at Thermopylae they went down to the sea in ships. Into Crab Cove sailed two jolly frigates, skippered by Carol Watkins and Marlon Price.
A gangplank thunked ashore and striding across it came the troops. First the Shepards, marching in military precision, then the Dobermans, they of perky ears, then marched the brutal pit bulls of Oakland, noted well for ferocity. These took up ranks along the sedge.
Then came the Irish Wolfhounds, the Whippets, the Greyhounds -- fleet of foot -- and a phalanx of smart setters led by Marcus and Vail, tails a-wag. All these noble born breeds and worthy of the name.
Then followed Bassets, Hounds of all types, Borzoi stepping proudly, Spaniels, Braques with black berets, Mastiffs, Chows, Dalmatians with fire equipment, Dingos, Collies, Huskies, Chins from Japan, Retrievers of all kinds - especially labradors, Boston Bulldogs, the life-saving Saint Bernard, The sly Samoyed with two eyes askance, Laikas, Deerhounds, Weimariners, Malamutes, even the Corgis sent a squad from their war upon webmistress Lara Croft, and many others not forgetting the noble Xoloitzcuintle trotting along behind.
A great shout went up at Africa's noble offering: the Basenji's came bounding in with nervous grace and assurance of victory over even the lion, most fearsome of beasts. Victory will surely be ours, for even Africa has sent its legions. All praise the Basenjis, extraordinary fighters!
When all had disembarked, the front lines went bounding and leaping up the hill to rescue the beleagered there. Angus na Og raised up his spear to give final victory to the humans. This time.
The insurrectionists were quickly put down and the whole army marched down to Ritter Park to take care of the action there.
Dalmatians rescued Colum from the waves easily enough, for who on earth can find fault with a dalmation, pride of the firehouse? And Column was carried back upon a shield of palm fronds and loving tongues licked his face. Such was the disposition of Mad Colum.
Thus ended the Fourth Day.
THE FIFTH DAY: PEACE
Clouds boiled over the Fifth Day, but the rains held off. The dead and dying and dead drunk were carried from the fields of carnage. Long before noon, the keg of Padraic was put aside and bottles of decent Jamesons were brought forth to cleanse the wounds of the injured and the sick. And there were very many sick. The official bugel of the Hunt was blown at noon and the Fourth Annual Thanksgiving Poodleshoot and BBQ was officially over. And we all sat down and had another Thanksgiving Dinner that couldn't be beat.
And so me lads, that's the way it was on the Island, this Thanksgiving. We've cleaned up most of the mess, but now we've got a rather peeved Officer O'Madhauen, and Osama Bin Lassie is still on the loose, and there's a whole lotta really bad legislation and police powers we gotta deal with now -- all on account of a few bad dogs mind you.
By the way, how are things on your Island?
DECEMBER 2, 2001
"ANOTHER SEASON, ANOTHER REASON, FOR MAKIN' WHOOPEE"
As the Nation, oozing slowly but inexorably through the pages of History through the twilight of its Empire.even now reactively defends the Way Of Life that lost all real meaning long ago by bombing a stone-age society further into, well, the stone age, we make ready for another Season of something.
Some may say that's rather strong language and damned unpatriotic. But the truth be told, in a place where the vast majority of high school students can name three Stooges, but not three of the Constitutional Powers of Balance, or three of the original Founding Fathers or even two of the Bill of Rights, where the national Independence Day is a celebrated excuse to party but damn few remember what the name Fort McHenry refers to, or why this Fort, until September 11th of this year, was the last location where a foreign power inflicted significant damage on these shore, or that the laws of this country used to be bound by something called the Constitution and that George W. Bush, his father, and his imbecilic predecessor have treated this once sacred document like a shit-rag with which to wipe clear the public record of their detestable gang-rape of civil liberties.
But 'tis the Season to be Jolly, and Chevrolet has exhorted us to buy, buy, buy patriotically those substandard products that bottom out virtually every test of quality and reliability. Perhaps, at first, I felt a little guilty cancelling my flight to Boston recently, being all unpatriotic and giving in to terriers and all. Here was the National Economy savaged by brutal thugs.. "Live life as usual," they exhorted us. "Buy plane tickets and Broadway Shows and spend your dough!" As if that is what America is all about.
But if America is about driving an SUV, buying a house, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants, then get me to Canada, please.
If a real WWWIII should begin, Muffin forbid, and I mean a war on the scale of what happened in 1939-1945 -- with millions of troops deployed and a formidible enemy that most certainly is not running its economy by ox-cart and mule-driven water-mills, all of that crap would disappear pretty fast.
If you could image what would remain, then that thing is America. In this view, the World Trade Towers, although impressive, and not the world's tallest structures by any means, become less of a loss as opposed to the contents. Personally, I feel more for the 90 buspersons and waitrons who worked the morning shift at the Top of the Town than I do for a single stick of brokers furniture in the floors below. The essence of what we are remains embedded in that forgotten rag treated so vilely by the obnoxious Bush and his nauseating adherents and that document begins, "WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA . . .".
When it gets this bad, the best thing to do is tell jokes.
OFFICER O'MADHAUEN ALMOST BAGS HIS DOG
The good Officer was making his rounds about the Church the other day -- never know when some hooligan might make off with a chalice or stained glass window -- when a suspicious terrier scampered bewteen the legs of the Man in Blue, who immediately gave chase with his baton upraised. The two ran across Grand and up Alameda and between a pair of Julia Morgans and it seemed that the culprit would have been caught with the aid of a fellow officer on the other side -- but, since no traffic violations were involved, the pair of course lost their quarry. The Officer slipped on a wet spot and went down in the bouganvillea leaving the fellow officer to blow his whistle in great indignation.
Incidentally, we note by the Island Sun there were last week 8 burlaries, 1 robbery, 13 reports of vandalism, 4 reports of battery (in which no arrests were made), 12 cars stolen, 23 reports of grand theft, 19 reports of petty theft, and 2 muggings. They did manage to stop someone driving through a yellow light on Grand and Central, however. Nice job guys.
AT LEAST THERE IS MUSIC
Dave Grisman plays the venerable Warfield next weekend. Some of you may recollect Dave as a good friend of the late Jerry Garcia and one of the few people who knew that Jerry actually hated rock 'n roll.
WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS
There is only one way the Beatles will get together now, and the prospect has some Boomers gettin' nervous. George Harrison, age 58, lost his battle with cancer Thursday, causing New Yorkers to mourn once again for something lost down in the Strawberry Fields section of Central Park. Harrison, known as "the Quiet Beatle", distinguished himself post-Beatles with an impressive list of accomplishments, starting with the effective introduction of Eastern music into contemporary western pop culture, the presentation of Eastern mysticism to an as yet isolated America, the creation of the international concert Fundraiser in the form of the Concerts for Bangladesh, the establishment of a successful film production house that ushered in a couple of the Monty Python hits, and still managing to pen several lasting pieces of music that have been universally praised from people like Frank Sinatra -- who called George's "Something" "one of the best love songs ever written." -- to the modern Oasis. It should be remembered that George considered Oasis and U2, as well as much of contemporary rock and pop to be "rubbish" and he had no hesitation in making public statements to that effect. Known to everyone as a profoundly spiritual man, his last words were apparently an exhortation for all of us to love one another. In a year of sad losses, this one weighs quite heavily.
HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN, FALLING ON MY HEAD LIKE A MELODY
The past week have witness ferocious storms lashing the Island like nothing seen since 1983. As a result, all the evidence of this years Poodleshoot and BBQ have washed away to sea. Eugene is recuperating nicely after being treated at Highland -- of course the Island Hospital wouldn't take him for fear of the scabies and bad insurance. Artie is back at work with a few skin grafts once again giving his all for the troops by acting in porn films. Artie could not be reached for comment.
Down at the Ace Hardware, the big display window now features an HO scale railway doing a loop-de-loop through a small snow-dusted town that is complete with ice-rink, fire station, two main streets, five blocks of houses and storefronts and a jolly community tramping throught the drifts. Well, perhaps the Season is not all that bad.
That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.
DECEMBER 9, 2001
After the Battle of the Bog, can anything ever be the same? The Mad Artist of Lincoln has put up another series of signs bracketed by baby car seats nailed to the fence and proclaiming
CREAM OF WHEAT
Just when you thought irony had died in America, glorious lunacy saves the day.
DREIDEL DREIDEL DREIDEL
Someone once said to me, "Life is like a top: you spin around a lot and then at the end -- you fall over." Well hey, you want wisdom, go talk to the rebbe Josef Langer. For the tenth time he lights the Bill Graham Menorah in Babylon. This time, however, the ceremony takes place at Justin Herman Plaza instead of Union Square. In attendance will be Carlos Santana, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Hizzoner Mayor Willie Brown and others. Fun and games continue among the ever increasing lights until next Sunday.
A simultaneous lighting occured at the ruins of the WTC in New York, Paris, London, Moscow and Jerusalem at the Western Wall. Here is the scene from New York. Rabbi Israel Drizin shields the flame while Rabbi Shmaya Katz listens to Officer Morris Faitelewicz.
NOT SO SILENT NIGHT
There's nothing like a stadium of 16,000 screaming teens to get your blood going on a cold night. LIVE105 hosted this year's benefit for the SF AIDS Foundation at the Compaq Center in San Jose. Tickets sold out within hours for this 7 band extravaganza, forcing the promoters to reconfigure the stage so as to pack even more into the huge ice-hockey home of the San Jose Sharks. In order of appearance the bands were AFI, Alien Ant Farm, Puddle of Mud, Sum 41, POD, System of a Down, and the hugely popular Linkin Park.
The atrocious acoustics of the venue, plus the non-stop screaming, virtually wrecked Alien Ant Farm and POD, turning the vocals for both bands into an indistinguishable morass of echoes. Puddle of Mud wisely pared the music down to bare rhythms, but they too had significant problems fighting the limits of the venue. Their name notwithstanding, this band demonstrated the best musicianship of the evening with tightly orchestrated instrumental harmonies and clearly defined musical phrasing. Sum 41, however, stole the show with superbly crafted songs with just the right amount of poppy hook without losing the basic spirit of raw punk. They also had the majority of well known songs, which the audience demonstrated by singalongs. Quite impressive when 16,000 people manage to synch.
POD, a sort of dredlocked version of punk cum rap, lost all definition in the huge hall, and eventually gave up musicianship entirely in favor of gyrating showmanship and stage dives in a grand "Oh well, why fight it?" attitude. The fans loved them for all that and for maintaining a frenzied level of infectious energy. System of a Down found itself slotted unenviably in the next to last position before headliners Linkin Park and their heady Zappa-esque quick tempo and volumne changes just could not overcome a nearly exhausted crowd in this anti-musical venue. They never let up the pace, however, and continued to thrust out their unique form of sound with sharply punctuated drum attacks and split-second timing. Linkin Park, of course, was Linkin Park. Name brand status notwithstanding, they too had some troubles with the bad sound reverbs in the arena that was designed exclusively for ice hockey -- and not much else. The bands were all top-rated performers, and all of them did the best they could with the situation, but next time, we'd advise against revisiting the Shark Tank for anything other than what the hall was built for.
The high point was in discovering the boys from Quebec, Canada, Sum 41, who just might be next years up and coming Offspring.
ON THE INTERNET NO ONE KNOWS YOU'RE A DOG
Osima Bin Lassie, the infamous terrier, continues to elude the best efforts of Officer O'Madhauen, who is now employing the most sophisticated levels of technology in pursuit of his quarry. They've rebuild the disputed bicycle bridge, seemingly overnight, but strong feelings continue to cause tensions. Others are calling into question somone's qualifications, for it seems inconceivable that any well-armed police force could allow a pack of puppy dogs to take over so much as a sandbox, let alone City Hall. Others are sayin that since the Island appears to have turned into an Animal Farm, perhaps its time we called in outside assistance in the form of the renowned Pink Panther, since it seems that our local boys appear hard put to defend anything beyond traffic laws.
Still others have quoted the Pink Panther in less than flattering terms:
Chief Inspector: "How can any Idiot become a policeman? Answer me that!"
Pink Panther: "It's very simple. All you have to do is enlist."
Extra guards have been stationed about the Official Downtown Dogwalk, and all fire hydrants have been fitted with electronic surveillance devices. The Office himself has gone undercover, disguising himself as a federal letter box. It shall not be long before some terrier makes a false move and crosses against the light.
That's the way it is on the Island. Drive Safe. And have a great week.
DECEMBER 16, 2001
THE ONCE AND FUTURE THING
The boys down at the bar are all real excited about the upcoming release of the Miramax adapation of Tolkien's epic trilogy. Now that nobody smart does drugs anymore, the ballyhooed film is sure to be the only way to get off watching fire-breathing snakes setting armies of marching, singing shrubbery ablaze while a buncha short people with furry feet scamper around the knees of armored knights while being chased by some bad dude named Gollem, who apparently has a skin condition worse than the next door crystal methyl freak.
BORED OF THE RINGS
George Coates, another one for strange images you don't get to see on your television, is putting on another of his virtual "Sho's", this one to be the last in the venerable old church that is finally falling to the great demon Retrofit. For over 15 years, Coates has been putting on stuff that is pretty amazing in the converted gothic cathedral, employing virtual design sets that exist only in the form of light captured on transluscent scrims, holographic projections that interacted with actors -- sometimes becoming them, and a raft of the most talented avaunt garde musicians in the world. His latest, "The Crazy Wisdom Sho" remains relatively low tech with the exception of incorporating a device whereby the actors respond spontaneously to messages relayed from the internet, which will appear on teleprompters during the performance. If you too want your 15 minutes of fame, you can put a message into the teleprompter box at www.georgecoates.org Go for it.
LORD OF THE HERRINGS
The latest news about the infamous "Green River Serial Killer" is that the man is atypically a family man, not a loner in the least, convivial and entirely a regular sort of joe -- in appearance. Of course he did have a taste for prostitutes, but boys will be boys. Unfortunately, this pillar of the community, supporter of the local church and generous contributor to charity murdered some 40 women in rather atrocious ways over the course of 10 years of mayhem on the sly. It seems that there was absolutely no outward sign -- except for one -- that the man was a sick and evil pervert and this column was the first to spot the tell-tale sign of a degenerate and twisted mind at work for we noted the following sentence in the newspaper report on his everyday, quotidian life:
"He was often seen walking his poodle in the neighborhood. . . ".
Dedicated followers of this space will know immediately the significance of that detested excuse for pet ownership in America signifies no good at all. All others wend their way to this year's account of the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ here. It was a sorry state of affairs this year, and the entire Club stock of polo shirts has been utterly ruined because of it. Its been said before, but let us say it again: Terrierists are loose in America and moderation in pursuit of Terriers is no virtue.
Speakin of which, some fool had the nerve to try and rob McRath's Pub down the way, but fortunately the whiskey was saved and drinks are available to any with the cash and the decency.
Yet another pair of felons are securely in the hands of Officer O'Madhauen, who customarily employed savvy policework, diligence and keen powers of observation to nab the two fellers that robbed the jewelry store on Park at the point of a gun, severely injuring the clerk's self esteem and spraining the ankle of Ms. Loupe-Garou, age 85. The perps fled in a stolen car, rammed the Toyota of Mr. Boilermaker, who, as many who drive 4-wheelers may believe, imagined himself invulnerable to harm and caliber 45 handgun bullets. The perps then rammed a Dodge Caravan -- perhaps in a sudden spirit of community service -- before departing the Island.
Now injuring old ladies and robbing jewelry stores is a bad thing indeed, but nobody but nobody gets away with a traffic infraction on this Island, no sir. Not while O'Madhauen is on the beat. Later that day San Leandro police hauled in the two for illegal parking suspiciously near a 7-11 store. In a stolen vehical. With masks on. And carrying guns. And when the officer meant to question them about these suspicious circumstances, the two ran off without a single civil "How do you do". That last one was a sure tipoff. And so the two are securely arrested and in the lockup in San Leandro. And this is the Island Police Department response:
"Right now, we are following every lead we've got."
Of course we can't put them in the lockup on the Island ever since we had the jail taken away from the IPD for bad behaviour. But that one is another story.
OSIMA BIN LASSIE STILL AT LARGE
It is quite true that when Osima Bin Lassie paid a visit to the kennel of his sister-in-law, the feller knocked on the door and, upon being received, turned his back and continued his conversation over his shoulder.
This is not a joke; it really did happen.
Now, if people had just seen the nutcase for what he was and laughed his ridiculous ideas offa the stage back then, none of the ensuing nuttiness would have had a chance to happen. We do not feel the obligation to give weight and creedence to stupid concepts in the name of fairmindedness. Lunacy is lunacy no matter what the religion or the ethnicity. At this point we feel its only right to take up the pen and demonstrate that this is one very bad doggie indeed and silly behaviour needs to be laughed at or we'll all end up on our hands and knees barking into extinction.
Furthermore, Tally was a very bad jackass to begin with, notwithstanding having been cloned, for the original clone, you will recall, was responsible for the destruction of the priceless statues of Father Junipero Bippy-Huragh (see March 18). Aiding and abetting known Terriers is just another crime on a long list of nonsense. Now the clones of Tally face the wrath of Finn MacCumhail in the wintertime and that is a terrible thing indeed.
Which brings to mind that we last left Oog and Aag, or say rather the descendents of those two Pleistocene gentlemen, somewhere about the 1860's while Chief Tenaya was smoking the pipe of peace with the Geological Survey of 1860 and getting himself into royally hot water in the process. Now the old Chief was a wiley feller who had managed to hole up in this mountain valley where there was plenty of water, plenty of game, precious little grazing land and no damn gold worth the trouble, all of which meant that he and his tribe managed to live an untroubled existence fishing the waters, smoking the spleef and talking to the spirits long after the Piute, the Washoe, the Mandan and the Mexicans had all been kicked around pretty badly.
Now a bunch of suit-and-tie types in Sacto and Washington remembered this gold rush thing and figured there must be more of the stuff just growing somewhere up there in the Sierra and they really had a hankering to get their mits on the stuff. Climbing 12,000 foot mountains, sleeping on the ground and fighting off wild panther doesnt sit well with those comfortable bureaucrats, so they hired a bunch of homeboys to do what they considered the dirty work. The suits put together this Survey, paid for by tax dollar under the name of Serious Scientific Geological Inquiry, but really what they were after was a heap of gold. And just maybe this Tenaya dude would be sitting on a mess of it. So there's Tenaya out their praying to the ancestors and shooting at ducks with bow and arrow.
Along comes this Geological Survey that had been charged with finding more gold under the name of doing a rock study, but it turned out the crew consisted of a bunch of skater-type dudes who didn't do much more than make maps and climb a lot of mountains for the fun of it. They never found any gold because none of the survey members gave a rats ass about the yellow stuff -- that was all machinations of the suited-types in Sacto and Washington. Instead they actually did a real geological survey, trying to find where glaciers come from and where they go when they wander off and that sort of thing. And they got stoned with the Chief of the tribe known as Yo-sem-eetay. Now the Chief told these righteous dudes, and I quoting here verbatim more or less, "Dudes, this place got no gold, but it sure would make a mighty fine park for Indians, now wouldn't it?"
Well, you know how history goes. The homeboys all had a grand time climbing mountains and came back and told this story. Only you know the last part "for Indians" got left off somehow. The fellers in Sacto were mighty pissed there was no gold up there and it wasn't until the invention of electricity and the subsequent invention of the hydroelectric dam that this Yosemite valley took on any significance -- which we will come back to, because by law that Valley, and the Hetch Hetchy in particular, is supposed to provide public power to the City of Babylon. Which a lot of people are talking about right now.
In the meantime this loony old coot name of John Muir went and lived in a tree for a while up there, but that is another story. As for Tenaya, he got popped in one of the first driveby shootings in California by his own people for peeing in the wind and talking to strangers under the influence. There's a lake there by where he died that has his name.
Now I just ran out of time and never got to where the descendents of Oog and Aag saved California from Slavery by confusing everyone in the Legislature and how the clones of Tally made it through the Civil War by aiding the Enemy and contributing to the KKK, for let it be known that wherever hatred, intolerance and bigotry survive, there you are sure to find another jackass.
Quite on a different plane our resident Artist of Chestnut Street has another sign sequence up.
This one can, like all the others, be taken several different ways. Either Heh, the window or possible name of The One. Or it is Cheh, the gate. The original is in black/white. You decide.
That's how it is on the Island. Have a great week.
DECEMBER 23, 2001
FEAR AND LOATHING IN FREMONT
Due to the now obvious state of the Economy, local businesses are putting aside the traditional Corporate Holiday Fest in large numbers, but the Significant Other works in a recession-proof industry: taking care of crazy people. Since lunacy will always be with us, there is no shortage of clients, especially these days. So Friday down we went to Flea-mont for the mental health professionals shindig at the Hilton. Now if you have never been to a function involving a room full of shrinks and nurses, you just haven't lived, for nobody gives it up on the booty-shaking dancefloor like a drunk psychiatrist. The mararena developes whole new nuances of meaning and the body of Carl Jung spun in his grave so fast you could have hooked up his coffin and produced electricity. These are people that deal with excrement flinging, obscenity screaming, pyromaniac hebephrenics all day long and 50 hours a week. In other words, the kind of people that only Brad Pitt, John Waters and David Lynch really hang out with on a regular basis -- and enjoy.
The evening began sedately, with people signing in to the roster -- you need to sign a form to get anything done in medicine -- but then the games began. And after the games the most excrutiatingly horrible music culled from the worst of the 70's disco era. Mixed inexplicably with such CW classics as "Achy Breaky Heart". At one point the Significant Other ran out to the car to fetch the only CD we had with us: Pink's "Misunderstood" and paid the DJs to play it. Not until then did anyone approach the dance floor, remembering those nights beaded with cold sweat and cocaine jitters. The DJs played only one song, then went right back to the excreta of the music industry, but by then the ice had been broken and the staff were well lubricated.
During the "Treasure Hunt" game, our shrink at the table, a delightful man by the name of Gordon, had the brilliant idea of pooling the table's resources and we won the prize quite handily. It turned out to be a wall clock left by a pharmaceutical company that makes the antipsychotic Haldol.
At some point a number of us gathered by the lounge where a live band provided welcome aural relief until the Organizer roped us back into the Office Function for the rest of the games.
We arrived in time for the culmination of the "balloon dance", which seemed to involve some atavistic frenzy of stomping destruction, again to the sounds of Saturday Night Fever. I turned the corner to catch a view of Ramone, a normally quite sedate Filipino CNA, hopping madly like a chimpanzee onto these helpless yellow inflatables. At the end of it, he took his prize -- a package of assorted boot polishes --- over to his seat where he sat with a glazed expression for quite a long time.
A bright spot featured the lovely Raynelle, native Hawaiian, performing a traditional Hula while wearing a special dressed shipped over from the islands by her grandmother. The dance was affecting and an encore was performed much later. We Islanders stick together.
The disco started up again and the Significant Other provoked a long running "soul train" which unfortunately degenerated into that spastic series of movments called the macarena. The Significant Other tried gamely to pursue the party line, but freedom of expression won out over rigid discipline and she waved her arms about with great abandonment before giving up entirely. There is much to be admired in the Significant Other and the inability to do the macarena is one of her most admirable points of honor.
We left before they brought out the hydrotherapy machines to clear the hall, while Gordon schemed with an accomplice who was to distract the DJ the better to swipe the disco light machine. "It would be just smashing in the livingroom, don't you think?" said Gordon.
FEAR AND LOATHING AT THE NORTH POLE
Santy Claus is an arch-criminal: he breaks all kinds of laws. The man travels all over the world without a valid passport, trespasses on private property, enters without knocking, drives a vehical without a licence or insurance, and swipes milk and cookies. Then there is that ominous laugh of his.
By now, the damage has been done. Torn wrappers, broken boxes, shattered tree ornaments and saddened shopkeepers who must wait another 340 days to make a buck. All the little gremlins have scampered off to bend, break and tear whatever looked so shiny and new a few hours ago, and thereboy develop bad habits that will put a third of them behind bars later in life. Shells got a DVD player. Melinda got a stereo and a stern injunction never to move to some horrible place like Vacaville with her too-short boyfriend, the welder with the tattoos. The SO got a sari from India and me, I got a box of paperclips. As well as the leftover turkey.
On the Island, the ropes of lights, luminescent angels, glowing deer and flashing santas (the Island owns its own power grid) will continue to burn the kilowatts for a few days more. Officer O'Madhauen is out busting some poor Turkey of another kind for having indulged in a bit too much Holiday Cheer. Jim and Sue are busy harassing the houseful of kids on the x-mas day and the big succulent up front has burst, quite unexpectedly, into full cactus bloom. Meanwhile some poor bugger of a poodle is holed up somewhere in a drafty mountain cave with not even a fruitcake for breakfast while several thousand semper fi boys are taking a break from looking to kill him.
So its now after the turkey goes cold, the tree lights blink in celebration of the annual Solstice, we lean back for that traditional nap while one of those irritatingly traditional Holiday songs runs through our heads. So, boys and girls, just sing along:
We've all heard of Rudolph and his shiny nose
And we all know Frosty who's made out of snow
But all of those stories seem kind of... gay
`Cause we all know who brightens up our holiday
Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo
Small and brown he comes from you
Sit on the toilet here he comes
Squeeze him 'tween your festive buns
A present from down below
Spreading joy with a "Howdy-Ho!"
Just sing right along. Um, well, perhaps not. Instead, lets just have a word from Officer O'Madhauen.
That's the way it is on the Island this festive Solstice time. Just remember the days are getting longer now. And have a great week.
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