Island Life - Year 2005- PART 2

This is the 2nd half of the entries for the year 2005. All of the code mistakes have been fixed. Again.To return to the present time, click on the picture of dory boats above.

To search for other dates and roam about in time, use the Archives.


DECEMBER 26, 2005


And a joyfull Sol Invictus as well as a Happy Hannukah and a Wiccan Winter Solstice to all. Hope all of you got what was coming to you this 25th. We got a deluge of rain up to the 24th, which broadened out into a warm sunny day with everybody all bright out on the streets and the Semi-annual meeting of the Non-Compos Mentis Chapter of the Directionally Confused and Traffic Enfeebled well in progress.

Yes, those doughty drivers of the impossible are back in town errantly wandering across lanes, turning right from the far left turn signal, abruptly taking the right hand exit from the left hand fastlane, taking the exit halfway, only to dart across the divider back to the freeway, making seemingly arbitrary U-turns and generally stimulating the adrenal glands of the populace in the practice of the Stealth Turn Maneuver.

The 25th arrived with yet more downpours and flood watch warnings went out all over the Bay Area. All the more excuse to stay at home and snuggle up beside the tree.


This is the last entry for the year 2005, a most dismal year when we had thought 2004 could not have been worse. Two hurricanes out of a record-breaking season totally destroyed one of America's favorite cities, the Bush imbeciles persisted with bullheadedness in doing everything wrong, resulting in actual damage to the country, where in the past political malfeasance has only caused limited hand-wringing and regrettable circumstances.

Now we face what has been called a "Pinochet situation" in which members of our highest goverment leadership will be unable to travel for fear of subsequent arrest and indictment in any number of world courts for crimes against humanity even as the Administration balks and fights and snorts against the most common sense injunctions against such things as torture.

Still, signs have been posted recently indicating that there may still be forms of intelligent life in the Universe. The courts recently knocked down, using the strongest language, the ridiculous Creationism claptrap a Pennsylvania school board was attempting to foist upon innocent children under the name of "science." Rich Santorum has scampered under the furniture like the vermin he is after announcing he was all for this "intelligent Design" drivel and furthermore they should do away with unnecessary government entities like the National Meteorological Service. You know, the Service that predicts and tracks things like hurricanes.

Tom Delay has his hands busy handling the third or fourth indictment and booking for criminal activity and it does appear he shall not slip this one this time. Der Governator, Arnold, after trying to bully a group of nurses, a group of schoolteachers, and a group of low-level clerks, finally picked the state firefighters, the police, and the AFL-CIO to push around, and got his eyes severely blackened in an absolute donnybrook for this contemptibly arrogant and vicious Austrian. Every single one of his ballot propositions was not only defeated, each one was soundly defeated by well over 25%, and in some cases, over 75%. In fact, Arnold is so on the outs, his hometown Graz, has removed his name from its public edifices, accusing the Republican of selling out to the death penalty advocates in the coldest possible way.

In congress, a number of members found that courage so rarely seen in our seldom-serving public servants. Long time Marine and decorated war veteran Jack Murtha issued a scathing denunciation of the Iraq war and called for immediate withdrawal, and even the military southern states that depend heavily upon the income from the massive bases located within their borders began clamoring for an end to the continuing unreason. South Carolina, mind you, joined with Montana in requesting the boys come home.

Cindy Sheehan, one of ours, a true Californian with the steady determination and steel will that has pulled us through disastrous fires, earthquakes and floods for over 200 years, showed the purely stubborn and cruel Bush as well as the rest of the country and the world what real determination happens to consist of. Standing up in front of the big guys to demand an accounting, with no guns, no riot batons, no beefy rednecks plowing their bulbous overweight SUV's through rows of crosses commemorating the fallen so as to intimidate, that's what true grit is all about. A single woman demanding one man to account for his actions; that is what real intestinal fortitude is all about.

Yes, there are things to be proud of in America today, and sometimes good things come around again. We don't need new ideas or an agenda. We have common sense. And the knowledge that every day the bucket goes to the well. Every day.


Its the second night of that minor miracle when lamp oil burned in the temple for eight days of urban warfare so long ago. If you are making yontif you might recall that the letters of the dreidel form an acrostic for the words Nes Gadol Haya Sham (A great miracle happened there). It probably never happened, but it makes a good story, and that's good enough for most of us. Maybe you are like my neighbor upstairs, the Wiccan, for whom the annual evergreen hearkens back to the age old pre-Xian tree of life. Or maybe you prefer the Sol Invictus, involving drinking, gifts, overeating, acting lazy and generally being good natured for some 1500 years before the Xian era. On December 25th, no less. Then there is Celtic Samhain and everybody's winter solstice, not to forget Kwanzaa. Whatever. The main thing all of these share at best is, well that thing me own dear dirty Damsel says best with lights and stars.

Me, well, I guess I am just a little more obtuse and a lot more verbose. And that's just the way it is on the Island. Have a peaceful week.

DECEMBER 18, 2005


This just came in over the AP wire service:

Saturday, December 17, 2005; Posted: 1:34 p.m. EST (18:34 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jack Anderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning muckraking columnist who struck fear into the hearts of corrupt or secretive politicians, inspiring Nixon operatives to plot his murder, died Saturday. He was 83.

Anderson died at his home in Bethesda, Maryland, of complications from Parkinson's disease, said one of his daughters, Laurie Anderson-Bruch.

Anderson gave up his syndicated Washington Merry-Go-Round column at age 81 in July 2004, after Parkinson's disease left him too ill to continue. He had been hired by the column's founder, Drew Pearson, in 1947.

The column broke a string of big scandals, from Eisenhower assistant Sherman Adams taking a vicuna coat and other gifts from a wealthy industrialist in 1958 to the Reagan administration's secret arms-for-hostages deal with Iran in 1986.


As a continuing service, we have been posting new and innovative sources for holiday gifts for those who really would prefer not to pitch pennies into the coffers of obnoxious businesses that insist on subsidizing Red State attitudes.

Beside your local arts & crafts vendors, whom you damn well know have nothing to do with contributions to Tom deLay's slush funds, there are a plethora of internet as well as brick and mortar businesses around. Get on over to Solano Avenue for their ongoing festival contribution, and then stop on by the T'graph holiday festival, which kicked off this weekend and continues through the next.

Right here on the Island we have a number of cute little shops packed with all kinds of neat, original stuff that begs to be snuggled under the tree for that special someone. From Vignettes, all the way down Park across from the firehouse, to the bookstores, curio shops, Video Maniacs further up there is something for everybody.

And for those still looking online, well here's a selection from

• Get green offers year round. Sign up for Co-op America's email newsletter.
• Search thousands of green businesses in the National Green Pages™ online.
• Find these offers on our website at


He was long a towering intellect in the theatre, and we remember well how his plays were anatomized in workshops to see the master craftsmanship in each beat of dialogue. Pinter has written twenty-nine plays including The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming, and Betrayal, twenty-one screenplays including The Servant, The Go-Between and The French Lieutenant's Woman, and directed twenty-seven theatre productions, including James Joyce's Exiles, David Mamet's Oleanna, seven plays by Simon Gray and many of his own plays including his latest, Celebration, paired with his first, The Room at The Almeida Theatre, London in the spring of 2000.

He has been awarded the Shakespeare Prize (Hamburg), the European Prize for Literature (Vienna), the Pirandello Prize (Palermo), the David Cohen British Literature Prize, the Laurence Olivier Award and the Moliere D'Honneur for lifetime achievement. In 1999 he was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature. He has received honorary degrees from fourteen universities.

Its no surprise that he would eventually earn the highest accolade in the world for his work and we congratulate the master of playwrighting for his recent award from the Swedish Academy. His acceptance speech, delivered via video from London where he is now battling throat cancer is downloadable from here or from his own website at Right click on the photo and select download. We have converted the text into universal ascii text format so that MAC and LINUX users also can enjoy the pithy and typically no-holds-barred words from the greatest playwright to emerge from the last century.


Let it be known that the IPD is out in force with Officer O'Madhauen romping and stomping in search of anyone who has had a tipple too many and dares attempt to put four wheels in motion about here. Formal traffic checkpoints will be set up on Webster and on Park Street, with the Webster Steet checkpoint now in progress in the hours after dark. With the recent crackdown on DUI, the penalties for being even .001 over the limit can START at thirty days in jail, plus three months probation, plus 40 hours of community service, plus another 40 hours of mandatory group alcohol counseling, plus the fine of several hundred dollars. And that is not including what will happen to your insurance rates.

We would advise you to carry a bicycle in your trunk if you dare plan on having even one single eggnog, for Officer O'Madhauen is not to be trifled with. And that bicycle better have a working headlight and taillight or he will still pull you over.


You would think this time of year would mellow out the savagery in the Xians hereabouts, maybe fill this jaundiced fellers with a bit of good cheer and some joy for once, but Reverend Rectumrod has been fulminating most furiously from his pulpit of sulphur and old tires about what some people call "the Holiday Season." The other day, Eugene Gallipagus tipped his hat to the Reverend outside of Pagano's Hardware and wished the cleric a "Happy Holiday". Instead of a jovial, "Same to you!", the Reverend shrieked as if he had just caught himself in his own zipper and slammed the poor boy over the head with a Babtist version of the Bible, which, although being heavily edited, is known to be quite as thick as the King James version by reason of its interpolations and Jerry Falwell commentary.

Seems certain Xians just cannot abide the notion that some people make and buy gifts for one another during this time of year out of a sense of thankfulness, generosity, joy, and general good will instead of decent Xian fear and compulsion. To this end, they abhor the idea of wishing someone "Happy Holiday", for this smacks of Ygassril-derived evergreen trees, pagan solstice observances, and age-old winter Saturnalia observances stemming from the lull between harvest and planting.

To say nothing of Hannukhah. God forbid that anyone miss a single day of Puritan's work for a single night of Hannukhah, a notoriously non-Xian yontif.

Reverend Rectumrod wishes to force everybody to say "Merry Christmas" and if anybody does not kowtow, he'll collect his gang of archbishops and beat them into submission, goddammit. He even has taken to hazing his good friend Wal-Mart, which has reacted by lifting its great shaggy corporate head to regard him and his ilk like a mildly amusing set of dancing fleas, for Wal-Mart has a budget at least twice the size of the Roman Catholic Church and consequently does what it damn well pleases.

The commercialization of Xmas bothers the Reverend not a whit. In fact, Rectumrod endorses consumerism, for it supports the economy, chips into the coffers that help fight the Iraq war against the infidels, and generally mixes the spiritual with the profane in a way that the Reverend is absolutely positive conduces a win-win situation for his Party. After all, these people are all about success in life, wealth and power as being symptoms of evolved higher spirituality. Strength equals sanctity, in the Reverend's book.

We take this to mean that Mr. T and the former governor of Minnesota are to be appointed as deacons any day now.

The Reverend's policy on non-inclusiveness tends to be consistent, if nothing else and can be summarized in a statement from his most recent sermon: "We all gets to cakewalk up to heaven during a great Rapture 'cause we are the Select, dudes. The country has got more of us so we get to call the shots. The rest of you go to Hell."

That about sums it up: "The rest of you go to Hell." Both literally and figuratively.

As for Xmas, well, the "rest of us" will practice generosity, good will, inclusiveness, peace and joy with a sense of humor and see what comes of it.


Due to a rather savage touch of the flu, we have missed out on a wealth of stuff happening locally and lately. Houston Jones returned to McGrath's Pub Saturday while Roy Rogers teamed again up with Norton Buffalo down in the Fox Theater. Eli's Mile High Club threw a major shindig with the original lead guitarist for the John Lee Hooker Blues Revue. Baltimore's Favorite Son, John Waters, held his annual JW XXXmas at the Fillmore with the puckish Jonathan Richman opening. Los Lobos, not just another band from East LA, owned the Fillmore for Friday and Saturday night, and they are still hosing down the embers from that one.

Mike Stern, with Victor Wooten, is sure to dazzle with fretboard virtuosity over at Yoshi's in one of those rare "musician's musician" type of concerts for those in the know at Yoshi's from 12/20 to 12/23. This is one of those insider sorts of things, for the musicians involved are most involved with perfecting craft rather than pushing MTV video spots.

Be informed that Mark Hummel brings his 15th annual Blues Harmonica blowout to Yoshis from 1/13 to 1/15 and this typically sells out for good reason.

As for New Years, Phil Lesh and Friends hold forth at the Bill Graham Civic with John Mayer's Trio to preserve the 30 year plus tradition of a "Dead Eve." Local band Tea Leaf Green is handling duties at the Independent, which is developing quite a nice set of bookings. Cafe du Nord is doing a "hillbilly extravaganza" with Red Meat and others; go figure. For you gender-bender types, 12 Galaxies is having Fairy Butch usher in the new year. You who know and don't care about the dirt under your fingernails will enjoy Four Year Bender and The Mother Truckers at, of course, Benders, at 806 South Van Ness in the City. And for those of you with little imagination, there are always the canned-music turntable venues like Ruby Skye who plan on saturating your being with thick basslines and Whitney Houston/Brittany/Janet cloned-vocals.

Personally, we are looking hard at Lou's on the Wharf. With such a year as we have all suffered, it seems the Blues are the right ticket to kick this old bastard out for the new to enter.


Sorry to say to you snowbound folks somewhat east of here you got one hella dockwalloper coming your way. The temps dropped near freezing here Friday, before yielding to a powerful storm front that deluged the Bay Area with such a rain we have not seen for some twenty years, complete with thunder and lightning, oh yeah. It's flipped from strangely balmy weather to proper winter. When winter comes, even the die-hards shuck their sandals and shorts for shoes and impermeables. Winter in the Bay Area is a soggy affair which begins some time after autumn has pulled in its blanket of fogs and after a moment of leaf-swirling warmth called in other places "Indian Summer". Then ensue steady days of mild rain falling through almost balmy air. One year it did get so cold that snow fell on Mount Tam and all along Grizzley Peak Boulevard, to the dangerous depth of about a quarter of an inch, closing schools and snarling traffic down to Santa Cruz.


Well, it's been a quiet week here on the Island. James Moskito of the Island assisted a team of divers who performed a humanitarian rescue of a 45-ton humpback whale which got entangled in crab trap lines off the Farallons this week. Quite unexpectedly, the animal remained quiet until being cut loose, then lifted each one of the divers out of the water one by one before departing, no doubt with a great deal of gratitude.

A man awoke from a Tuesday afternoon nap to find a man had entered his home through an open window. The burglar chased the home owner inside the house with a club before departing over a back fence.

Holiday Row is all ablaze with lights and the official PO Letterbox which sends its missives to the North Pole direct has been set out on the median strip, but the recent rain has put a kibosh on the usual rubbernecking down there. Still, Santa Clara and Grand Street are all ablaze with decorations. Went over to the recently opened Home Depot which was five miles closer than the place we usually go to fetch a tree but somehow the lot simply did not have the sincerity of the old place. Well, you know, its sort of like Linus and his Sincere Pumpkin Patch on Halloween. They had plenty of trees, of course, but most of them were all pre-wrapped in that plastic mesh and there was no way of getting a proper gander at the fullness of the thing. Besides, there were few people out there knocking about. It was all too easy, with no lines and no nervous comparisions between your fir and their birch or whatever. It just was not the same. And their bolt assortment for mounting the tree was pathetically slim.

So we hopped in the car and drove south to the same place we have gotten a tree for ten years running with all of its shouting kids and mixed families jostling and lines and two bored guys from Fruitvale working for a few bucks to cut the trunk and slip the properly inspected tree into the same plastic mesh encountered at the other place. What no price tag? Heck, here's one on the ground; they are all the same. Go inside there and pay. Okay, so we did that and shoehorned the seven footer into the four-footer trunk with a tag of red tape wound around the tip to satisfy Officer O'Madhauen and then made our way cautiously down Doolittle Drive back over the bridge to the Island.

After 14 hours working at the Clinic with crazies and drug pushers marking the alleys everybody was so wiped we stuck the tree in the storage unit and crashed out for work began earnestly at seven the following morning.

Finally, we got to it a couple days later and hauled the seven-footer up the crickety stairs to set him in the cast-iron stand and work the screws with only one bolt missing to finally achieve some sort of stability. Then there was sorting through strands of lights with burnt bulbs and the blown fuse and the wobbly plug connectors. Okay now, do it this way: go inside and then to the out now, here take the end now. What, go here now? No, no, up up now! Finally all the lights get strung on a daisy chain that would fright the UHL. Now everybody has the flu and rain patters the windows, but the tree stands there with ropes of lights prior to tinsel and ornaments.

So the kids, wherever they might be and wind up, will drift by in their rootlessness and find the same old tree there with the lights and the ornaments done up and maybe feel some continuity in their lives that pull more in details from the movie "The Squid and the Whale" than "Its a Wonderful Life". At least they have this much.

Meanwhile all down the row the bright lights battle the winter storms this weekend with typically Californian optimism which insists that no matter what, gold will be found in them hills one day. Somehow, things will turn out all right and karma will revolve the wheel of circumstance.

That is the way it is on the Island. Have a Happy Holiday.

DECEMBER 12, 2005


This week the entry is truncated due to illness among the staff.


Anybody checked out the new "lifestyle" Safeways? One just opened here, and its clear that the old 1950's image of the grocery store is gone, supplanted by gigantism, soft lighting, gormet ready-to-eat foods, and, of course, higher prices

All this came to the Island which is struggling through a seachange of the season, what with the six-story parking garage to be built downtown, a ten screen cineplex, and massive revamping of the Webster STreet and Park Street corridors. And its a shame, for the charm of the Island has been its art deco facades, neon signs and a general sense of being lost in time.


Went with the girls to our traditional Holiday concert, the annual Live 105 Not So Silent Night, held once again back at the Bill Graham Aud. This year, the concert returned to an eclectic lineup from its spate of solid thrash core punk which had rendered previous years a bit too much of a good thing. POD is fine. Linkin Park is fine. AFI is great. But put them all together with identical-sounding bands in a venue where sonic mud evolves from the hastily built soundsystems and one has, well a bit of tedium and sameness.

This year Live 105 put up on the stage Birdmonster, Autolux, Coheed & Cambria, Hot Hot Heat, Death Cab for Cutie, the White Stripes with the crowds clearly selling out the show primarily for the last two.


We arrived shortly before the very loud and very energetic Coheed & Cambria took the stage.

The band has been labeled, a bit unfairly, with the tag "Emo rock", which tends to wallow quite a bit in self pity and similar vices. C&C however, present a powerful synthesis of prog rock and goth with a bit of wild metal tossed in. Their short set closed out with a remarkable ensemble intrumental reminiscent of -- god forbid -- The Grateful Dead's "Space" but done with edgy discipline and firm melodic structure, something never characteristic of the Dead even at their finest.

It's too bad their lyrics, which have a number of critics raving, got entirely lost in the usual sonic mud of the Civic, but that ten minute closer really blew the doors off of the place..


Hot Hot Heat hail from Victoria, B.C., a town best known for imitating the queen's England in the service of tourism. And in truth, with the guitarist and bassist done in the best of English mod style with pointy shoes and black tuxedos, we all thought they had just hopped across the pond. Their music, however, fuses punk, new wave and British synth pop, with vocalist Steve Bays rocking out on a center-stage synthesizer piano. Bays proved to rise about the sound system with clearly understood vocals backed by lean and tight rhythm section, indicating that real pros know how to handle the problems of a difficult venue. These guys are a fun band who enjoy performing their very danceable music.


Much attention has duly been focused on singer/lyricist Ben Gibbard, who has risen above the rest by attending to the musicianship of his vocals where others simply resort to screaming. In fact, his voice is very reminiscent of early Donovan. He fronts a Seattle-based quarted that is most often described and picking up where Built to Spill left off in the indie-pop realm. They are a little more thoughtful than Built to Spill, their intimidating band name nothwithstanding, and they are very listenable. And that Ben Gibbard has all the women melting under that doe-eyed gaze of his, so these guys are very likely to continue to do well and most likely, after well over a decade of paying dues, will emerge with their latest effort, "Transatlanticism" into the top 40.


The sold out venue was fully packed by the time the odd couple from Detroit of Meg and Jack White took the stage. The White Stripes have all the critics raving and many of the critics snarling in such a way that its difficult to be objective from the get go. The band is nonexistent: its just the two on stage, with Meg White rapping out the beat and not much else on the drums, leaving Jack to perform vocals and guitar. It's a stripped sound for sure, but in reality Jack makes so much noise with a slight echo effect on the vocal and definite fuzz on the amp that they sound like a quartet.

The crowd obviously loved them, although signs of trouble in this outfit preceeded them to the stage.

In style, Jack's playing is much like R.L. Burnside, and it was no surprise to find he has covered more than a couple of the late great bluesman's songs. He does not get flashy, or engage in finger flourishes with which so many capable musicians pack their songs. It's just straight ahead blues rock. That being said in their favor, the extremely offputting aspect about them is their arch, self-conscious pretension. They affect costumes of white and red or red and black and their stage instruments were self-consciously designed with those visuals in mind: black piano, red guitar, red & white drum set, red and white tubular bells, etc. Well, all right, that's a schtick and its all show business.

But apparently they are seriously, deadly earnest. Here's a quote from Rolling STone: "Jack and Meg White are without doubt the strangest, most fascinating couple to surface from the US in the past four years.

Jack's life in particular has become something of a soap opera. There's been brawling (with Jason Von Bondie), a Hollywood romance (Renee Zellweger), car crashes and now his sudden marriage to 25-year-old model Karen Elson on the eve of this latest release. All very odd but completely engrossing stuff."

Then there is the habit of the two in presenting silly misinformation, such as the statement they had been married, followed by a denial and a statement that they were brother and sister. And Jack's hissy fit when he stalked off of the stage after a balloon hit him mid-song. Oh really.

Yeah, well. All of this backstage antic stuff is really boring and hardly shows a candle to the excesses of so many others, and ultimately is a real turn-off. Just put on some jeans and play your damn guitar, Jack.

The best analysis of the duo was done by an obscure blogger at This fellow loved the WS when he first heard them, liked them alot the second time, but the third time, the sheen was off. A band that runs as a schtick gets old and the circumstances that elevated them in the first place have changed. They are no longer the new strange kids in town.

In fact the reviewer was of the opinion that in Jack's refusal to evolve and Meg's refusal to play the drums they are willfully self-destructing. Well, self-destruction is hardly new in rock music as well and so we are left with predictable spectacle about to happen. Sure wish it wouldn't for the same reasons that everybody loved them from the start: they were new and fresh and dared do something different while skipping the formulas.

Here are some of his closing comments:

"They're through because of their stupid, self-defeating rules about rules. Though I doubt they'll suffer -- it's obviously a death-wish. It's not the artificiality of it that irks me, it's the romance.

There's something dishonest about The White Stripes, something high. I've read that Jack White is not ironic. Whatever. But let's not assume that he's without device. Sure, I think he's serious about what he does, and far be it from me to lay claims to his tastes, his influences, or his real true inner being. They turned down a Gap ad -- an act that in today's culture is the mark of spiritual superiority, though it's semantics to me. The Stripes are talked about like they're the Holden Caulfield's of rock because they reject the modern world -- well, parts of it anyway. Their exclusions might carry more weight if they weren't so easy and negative. I'd be more likely to be impressed if instead of the liner notes reading No computers were used during the writing, recording, mixing, or mastering of this record, they read, No phones were used in the booking of any of our shows. Come off it."

And this is all from a guy who says he likes them. Of course we like them: they are still energetic and fun and quirky. Just wish they would come down from the high horse and play the music. After all, at the end of the day, its really all about the music. And its only Rock and Roll.


This coming back from rock concerts at 1 am becomes more a rarety as one gets older. The lesson here is clearly, "rust never sleeps". Got the flu bug in the worst way and the usual panacea of two quarts of whiskey doesn't seem to be working as it should.

Going to take my chicken soup and go. To bed. That's the way it is on the Island. Stay healthy and have a great week.

DECEMBER 4, 2005


Hope all of you are done with turkey soup and sandwiches by now. Don't keep that jellied cranberry sauce in the back of the fridge too long or it will be come the singing and dancing subject of a Garrison Keillor monologue.

Yes, we must confess we too are addicts of the Prarie Home Companion and have fallen in love a little bit with that particular Swedish-American voice that always ties up the end of the Noir detective bit. "Up on the 12th floor of the Acme Building sits Guy Noir, pondering the mysteries of the universe." How can you fall in love with a voice? Well, its hard to explain and you would really have to love Radio in a way people do not seem to do around here anymore. Maybe they still do out there in the Heartland, where the sturdy man has no time for TV on the job, but flicks that dial and goes about his business among the hay bales in the steaming barn for long hours at a stretch and where the Radio is the sole human glue, as it was for years for millions of Americans, binding them all together in some wierd amalgam at the same time long ago.

Somewhere in the packed masonry of states a transmitter was sending out hourly ads for the King Bisquits and the folksy talk of long past wisdom culled from the Farmers Almanac. The DJ would say, "Got a little Skip James for ya. Think you'll like it." And then you would be off and running. All along the fretboard.

As for that voice, well, sometime just ask your Main Squeeze, your Significant Other, your Companion there, to read something. Maybe say, "Honey, my eyes are not so good tonight. Would you read this back to me so I can get it right."

And for god's sakes don't pick something like "Electrostatic Fluctuations within Isotonic and Non-Isotonic Solutions", for that would be a bad idea.

You might listen to the voice and if you listen well enough, well, you will understand.

Now, bear in mind we offer no condolences or insurable liability for what might ensue or any consequences thereafter. It would be well to visit a comfortable pharmacist in advance so as to be prudent.

Now as for the Poodleshoot -- this section is about the Poodleshoot, if you recall -- many thanks to all who participated. No real horses were hurt during the devising of this BBQ. The author of Fat City is safe at home in the woods of Marin and he has done far worse things to himself than blowout the windows of a schoolhouse or attempt to kill a poodle. Professional stuntmen and imbeciles for hire were employed to make the more dangerous scenes. And of course, lawyers make us say, kids, don't try this at home.

The winners of the annual awards as well as the rules will be posted here:\poodleshoot.htm.

Now as an eZine is much like a radio show in that people can tune in regularly or not and you don't get to see the principal characters without some imagining, we now fade out to . . . .


Just saw the Will Farrell vehical "Elf", and was most enchanted. The little angry feller in the boardroom reminded all of us of particular someones. For those of you who have ever spent time in a high corporate boardroom and watched someone behave like a, well, like a petulant angry and mollycoddled dwarf, this is the movie for you. And Will Farrell was eminently believable as a simple minded guy who gets himself put into the wrong place. For those of you who like movie trivia, the rehab convict working in the mail room who gets drunk on the job and makes friends with Farrell is Jeff Bridges, he of the "Great Lebowski".

All the Bay Area lit up this weekend despite the recent calls by radical fundamentalists to murder foreign heads of state and otherwise ruin the true spirit of the season: shopping and practiced magnaminity.

Where some -- like us -- value heartfelt magnaminity, generosity of spirit, warmth of soul, tolerance and freedom, some others around here and there prefer foremost relentless efficiency, agressive competence, rules-ordered behavior and personal satisfaction as well as personal power over others to the aforementioned values. Was it not one of Bush's people who once said "Scrooge was misunderstood. He really did all he could as an employer in Victorian England."

Yes, well, that line was last used in reference to Adolf Hitler. "He liked ballroom dancingk!"

In any case, here we had our official tree-lighting ceremony with season songs and the original tap dancing xmas trees who are too bizarre for words. Remarkable is too mild a word to describe twelve ladies dressed in costumes making them out to be decorated trees complete with little stars on top and all tap dancing at once. They have been reported in this space before, but you can see photos of them in past years for they are a continuing Island tradtion and have performed before Presidents and at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Yes, they have travelled East even beyond Chicago.

The tree-lighting event began at 5:30 with the closure of the ice skating rink in the parking lot of City Hall -- which still has not regained its lost bell tower -- and the launch of music from a stage on a closed portion of Santa Clara Avenue in front of City Hall itself. Some 800 Islanders showed up with many a toddler hoisted on high. The Great Man, Santa himself showed up and the countdown to the lighting was shouted by the enthusiastic throng. In short, a grand time was had by all.

Our roving correspondants, Jim 'n Sue report that the Island "Best of Broadway" went off smashinglyl well with nearly a full house over there at the old Island High Auditorium. Built in the early 1920's, the Romanesque structure can seat some 2,000 people. The elegant Frederica von Stade served as emcee hostess for this benefit evening wherein the full orchestra and conducter donated their time and industry to assist Hurricane Katrina survivors.


Yes, we know, you can't box spirit and put it under a tree. The kids won't buy that for a second.

Continuing the BLUE XMAS report, here's a nice place to click on over to for a wide variety of gifts.

Got a musician in house? A present and future Eric Clapton air guitarist? Can't go wrong with the following:

Kaki King - Wunderkind from the rubble of NYC voted "Best Guitarist in US" by several leading periodicals. She is 17. She has one CD. Get it.

Bruce Cockburn - Speechless - This extraordinary lyricist has put down his Shure mic to compilea delicious selection of instrumentals.

Leo Kottke and Mike Gordon - 99 Steps - The long-time incomparable master of the 12-string has teamed up with the former bassist for the trippy band once called Phish to make a remarkable series of smooth covers with really remarkable re-interpretations.

Neal Young - Anything the Grandfather of Grunge comes up with has to be good. This time he returns to his Harvest days with his latest offering.

KFOG Live from the Archives Vol. 12 -- This annual benefit for the Bay Area food banks consists of live, rare performances by local and international artists. They are all hyping the Train medley of Led Zep tunes, but really the stand out on the CD is a burning hot track from . The CD typically sells out and becomes a collector's item fetching hundreds of dollars on the grey market later. Available from Tower Records.


Rolled in late as a consequence of viewing "Crash" with the gals. Began to think Big Hollywood had lost its ability to make anything of quality anymore, but this movie had us old cynics gasping and crying and gripping the seat cushions with white knuckles it was that good.

Back from the mean streets of LA, the quiet streets of the Island checkerboard the neat little Edwardian houses bordered with wisteria and half-lit apartment buildings while stray cats make their rounds on this suddenly frosty evening. The house down the way has limned its frame and shrubbery with season lights and the Garden Nursery across the street has done the same.

All is quiet here on the Island. Because that's just the way it is. Have a great week.


The Island will have an exclusive Open Studios the weekend of the 3rd-4th, in which artists based here will throw open their studio doors for all to see. Because of the high rents and basic ruthlessness of the rental situation across the water in Babylon, artists have been leaving the City in great numbers to settle here in the East Bay, where the weather and the people are more congenial. The weekend promises to be a delightful experience for those people seeking the new and the unusual, for the Island has become host to quite an array of ceramists, metal workers, glassblowers, and textile artists of all kinds. Do come and enjoy.

We note Sweetwater in Mill Valley is back with lots of excellent stuff going on in that intimate venue. Jules Broussard performed there this weekend.

Get your culture, hot, Californian, and Latin-influenced, from Ozomatli at the Fillmore Dec. 1-3. The Warfield fights back with the stupendously talented guitarist Trey Anastasio 12/2- 12/3. Taj Mahal again takes over Yoshis from 11/29-12/4. And who do we see following the Great Man in the West Coast's premier jazz club, but our own little Natasha Miller 12/12! Goodness girl, you go!

Speaking about girls, there is local jazzband Girl Talk at Anna's Jazz Island in Berzerkeley December 1st, 8-10 pm. Check for details. Club location is 2120 Allston Way. This refreshing little band does a little Brazilian-inflected sound with some some nice Afro-pop vocals and is very work checking out. They are doing a number of benefits during this season and you can learn more about them at

And since people will be looking to NYE starting about now, note the String Cheese Incident will hold forth for two nights at the SF Concourse with at least 12 other bands. Go to for info. As mentioned before The Dead will again take stage at the Kaiser Aud. in a tradition that is now 36 years running. For Yoshis, jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval blows open the doors.


Checked into McGrath's on a slow Saturday night to see Ron Thompson performing solo. Ron Thompson has been around for years and watching him perform is watching a rhythmic hot fusion converting base matter into energy. The man lives and breathes pure music and every performance is electrifying.

Ron has performed with and recorded for legends like Big Mama Thornton, Sonny Rhodes, Luther Tucker, Jimmy McCracklin, Pee Wee Crayton, Carla Thomas, School Boy Cleve, Percy Mayfield, Etta James, B.B. King, and Jimmy Reed. Then there is Fleetwood Mac, Chris Isaak, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, Elvin Bishop, Bill Medley, Huey Lewis, Dr. John, songwriter Bobby Womak, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Robert Cray Band, Z.Z. Top, John Lee Hooker, and many others.

Ron Thompson is a legendary blues guitarist and master keyboardist whose career began in the rough and tumble world of East Bay nightclubs and bars in the early ‘70s. After touring coast-to-coast for seven years with John Lee Hooker as band leader, Hooker was quoted as saying, "Ron Thompson, he's my main man!"

Mr. Thompson plays fingerstyle without pick or thumb-hammers, steadily drumming the bassline in the old Carter-family style while executing the melody and inserting some pretty amazing flourishes and etudes that should be studied by anyone seriously interested in the guitar. He also proved himself a fairly good talent on stride and barrelhouse piano. If your taste runs to Robert Johnson, Skip James, Bukka White, Son House, and the old school of blues before Chicago turned everything into predictable dunta-duntas, Ron Thompson is the man for you.

A main stage headliner for the prestigious SF Blues Festival, Grammy nominee many times over, the man easily fills stadiums with his band The Resistors, but he will play small venues like McGrath's as Peter counts the man as a personal friend. He is about to begin a national and international tour, part of which is to include the "Blues Cruise" that will stop at several countries in the Caribbean and South America. His final US dates are listed below.


In our continuing series we provide alternative sources for original and traditional gifts for this holiday season which act responsibly and in good faith, thereby avoiding the detestable and the Scrooge-like stores who open their coffers to the obnoxious, wreck the environment, and otherwise behave reprehensibly.

Southwest Indian Foundation - (One of the neat things about this group which uses funds to assist native Americans is that, since it is a nonprofit, a portion of the expense is tax-deductible as gift to charity 501(c)3.

A greater gift, SERRV International -

National Green Pages, published by Co-op America. Check these guys out at They are very very comprehensive and very very good at presenting information clearly.

True Majority has a nifty little shop at which benefits this worthy cause.

No need to turn beet red this Xmas season. Be True Blue.


Speaking of holidays, Pagano's Hardware has once again done their storefront up to match the Season. Now, this may not be on the scale of Macy's in Union Square, but then Macy's is a corrupt old gouger helmed by thousands of underpaid and slatternly females who tiredly peddle overpriced baubles under the severe and very watchful eyes of Mr. Smith who occasionally grabs a shrieking salesgirl to violate anally in the stockroom from time to time. While Pagano's remains a happy and carefree place of hardware and garden fertilizer. It's hard to be duplicitous about hardware.

You can take your pick.

In any case, we note the change of seasons by the change in the Pagano's storefront windows on Lincoln Street. It's a twenty-foot long window and it is quite amazing what is done by the little elves overnight. And at first glance, the scene appears to be a normal Norman Rockwell scene of jolly Santa surrounded by little babes frolicking beside the Xmas tree.

A closer look indicates some curious items among the presents.

Something does not seem to be quite right about this scene. Something seems amiss.

Now we have here three lovely babes on a settee with some odd powertools. Is this quite safe? Is that a chainsaw?

Good Heavens! The one child is playing with a butcher knife beside a complete steak-knife set while the other child is cradled by the arms of a set of sharp hedge trimmers!

Just about the only thing that could cap this disaster in the making would be a child playing with matches and starting a fire amid the chaos.


NOVEMBER 27, 2005


The day dawned gloomy with Matrix-like storm skies and proper November weather as the official bugle tooted its toot and the official toast of the Hunt -- served up in the official beverage, Wild Turkey, -- was downed. With a jolly crescendo from the horn section of the Hoophole High School Marching Band and Classical Orchestra, the annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ had begun. Soon, the merry sounds of the hunt drifted across the Island: shouts of "Poodle there!", the sharp crack of freshly oiled Winchester rifles, the occasional sputter of automatic weapons and machine guns and the frequent Whump of percussion grenades. A couple caballero's from San Francisco clattered down Otis Drive, armed with riatas and lances. Peter, from McGrath's, set himself up near the Washington School with a small nine-pound howitzer stuffed with grapeshot, while Leonard Gardner from Marin showed up with genuine black powder blunderbuss.

Not to fear for Leonard's safety, as he also packed a Colt .45 revolver should the thing fail to ignite in a pinch of poodles.

We had a number of celebrities among us, beside Mr. Gardner for the renown of the annual affair has spread far and wide. It may be the accidental torching of the entire Strand the year Artie brought in a flame-thrower pulled from US Army tank and mounted on the back of his truck, or it may be the destruction of several thirty-footers in the Marina when Hans Brinker employed mortar rounds that started the buzz that the Island is THE place to be on Thanksgiving.

The Island tends to be rather peaceful most of the time, but there is something about the atavistic blood lust stirred up by a really exciting poodlehunt that beckons the imagination to romp in full glory.

In any case, we had the honor to have among us the Chief Advisor to the President of the Bums and main architect of the War on Terriers as well as the invasion of Newark, Karl Manley Stovepipe. Mr. Stovepipe showed up in his usual regalia of full camo pants and jacket with camo spats, waistcoat and patterned boots of the most martial kind. His Clint Eastwood eyes glared coldly with the ferocity of a natural born killer from underneath his helmet and he chomped a cheroot with such savagery that one could almost pity the poodle that would encounter this superior species of Republican. It was well known that he had the skull and crossbones tattooed upon his naked pate. About his virile chest he strapped bandoliers of hollow points, dumdums, bear slugs, explosive shells and armor-piercing bullets. By his one side he strapped a two-foot long Arkansas toothpick and on the other he sported a modified 45 caliber automatic pistol which had a circular loading cartridge that held 24 shells. It looked like something from a science fiction movie and in order to shoot it, normal men had to tie their arm to a tree to handle the kickback. Mr. Stovepipe's main weapon of choice that day was a simple hand-held anti-tank bazooka. Clearly he did not care much if his catch was totally destroyed. The man loved war and killing, purely and simply.

Padraic showed up with a barrel of his special home brew, which he rationed out, but Mr. Stovepipe would show his spunk by downing a double portion. And when Padraic was not looking, he tapped yet more of the keg into his hip flask, for as mentioned, he was a Republican and that is their way.

Padraic did not have a chance to say anything of the part that keg had played in the infamous Poodleshoot of 2001 or that this liquor was minimally 150 proof. No he did not.

It was over by Chipman Middle School that things went badly awry. Besides the explosion over by the former W.W.I memorial at Crab Cove; that was another story with unfortunate consequences.

There, across from the schoolyard Officer O'Madhauen pulled the two caballeros over and cited them for exceeding the speedlimit in a school zone and turning left without signaling. The men were riding palominos at the time, but choice of vehicle matters not to this vigilant officer of the traffic law, for this is The Island and on this Island, traffic enforcement exceeds all others in priority. As a consequence, we have the same accident rate as Berkeley, which is notoriously not an island, proud defenders of the Department have said.

The Island Dogwalker's Association -- a rather unruly and provacational bunch in the best of times -- had gathered to watch from the schoolyard, and on such a day, they were all armed with umbrellas and other secret weapons.

"Look Fifi! Look at the horsey!", one of them said.

In any case, while the Officer was inspecting one vehicle for possible code violations, the unfortunate beast relieved himself of internal gaseous pressure. This caused the Officer to jump back. In fact he jumped back so far that his foot caught on the curb there and he fell flat on his back beside the stone sign there. That stone sign with its vegetation that makes such a perfect hiding place for a hunter looking to draw a bead on Fifi. Startled, the hunter there, for it was Mr. Gardner, dropped his match into the pan and accidentally discharged his gun. Which harmlessly broke a school window. But which also startled the horses.

Unfortunately for the horses and also for the caballeros, these were not true caballeros, but a couple of homeboys from Fruitvale and they had gotten their silver-studded outfits with sombreros from a costume supply shop. More importantly, they were a bit unclear on what to do exactly about a spooked horse.

Not to fear, for the riders need only lasso a tree and tie off the horse until it calmed down. Which one rider did quite successfully. The other however discovered he had made a terrible mistake when the bush began screaming as it got dragged along the ground. The man had not lassoed a bush; he had lassoed Mr. Stovepipe, who had been steadily finishing the last of Padriac's home-brew on the other side of the concrete marker among the real trees.

As he was being dragged along the grassy baseball field there, the pistol on his hip started firing, adding to the ruckus and everybody ducked down with dogwalkers throwing aside their leashes and impermeables this way and that so as to take cover for their lives.
About the time the bullets ran out of the gun the horse reached the Dogwalker's banquet table and leapt right over it, dragging Mr. Stovepipe through several angelfood upsidedown cakes as well as a large and formidable tub of that substance found inevitably at Rotarian and Kiwanis Club picnics, the misnamed "ambrosia".

This trivia is not so significant compared to the fact that although possessed of poor taste and questionable morals, the Dogwalkers Association did not consist of overly cruel individuals. An enterprising Mr. Beasley tied a couple leashes together to make his own lasso with which he captured the horse who had run into the baseball backpen area and gotten confused. After much discussion and the employment of mini-scissors, a pocketknife and tweezers, the rope attaching horse and man was cut in the middle while the man part lay semiconscious amid a crowd of yapping, yipping and licking dogs and there were poodles among them.

Some of the hunters came up, having regained their courage after a few more nips of the bottle and the cessation of random bullets, but being so near the school they could not discharge their weapons.

"I think it rather a good idea to call it a day all around," said Mr. Beasley. And he added, "We have your man in our power."

The hunters were rather concerned about the potential ramifications of this affair involving the President's Chief Advisor, so they eagerly agreed to halt the proceedings. Everyone was called back to the BBQ, where Padriac supplied the drink from his cask and the meager grill with seared Ahi, so nobody went home hungry that day. Or sober.

And that was the end of the 2005 Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ.

As for Mr. Stovepipe, he not only survived his wounds, but would brag about them and the incredible battle he had enjoined against superior numbers with his back to the wall, armed only with his Arkansas toothpick. He told everybody who would listen that he gave the enemy a damn fine licking.

We hope you had a pleasant and peaceful Thanksgiving. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

NOVEMBER 20, 2005


While Eugene Shrubb is visiting foreign countries in the time honored tradition of scampering off on "statesman" activities when the going gets hot and unpopular at home, we should not forget Laura, the First Bum Lady, who also has been trying to keep busy by inviting famous artists, poets and prose writers to the Off-White House, but with little success as virtually everyone of importance has refused the invites, not wanting to be associated in any way with these particular bums or their administration, widely seen as fostering a culture of corrupted incompetence. The Poet Laureate for the Nation was heard to remark in his tart refusal, "Madam would you please govern your husband!"

First Bum Lady Laura however is not to be undone by this, for she too has taken to the foreign circuit and has managed to score a coup of sorts in the successful invites to foreign dignitaries -- who, of course, have no other place to stay although it appears from the following photograph the ambassador from one foreign country managed to substitute another for his place in a recent visit.


Snagged reference off the radio this am about a "sad situation" concerning personal favorite and maestro of open tunings Chris Whitley. On investigation found that all of the man's concerts have been canceled for he is bedridden and in the final stages of lung cancer. The chain-smoking guitarist started losing weight some time ago but like most musicians who basically pay their own way as self-employed salesmen, his health insurance was minimal at best and a doctor visit only served to give him his last one-way ticket information. This very talented musician is not expected to survive into the next year.

His brother has responded on to well wishers where you also may send a line.


The latest flap on the Island is all over the metal artwork hanging on the fence at Washington Elementary School where some people have complained that at least one figure was offensive. The life-sized figures referenced are in general featureless metal silhouettes painted in Day-Glo colors meant to represent children engaged in play activities, such as chasing a ball, jumping rope, etc. The three particular figures that caused the ruckus were yellow depictions of a girl with braided hair jumping rope. Principal Knoth had the figures removed when, after they had been up a year, someone complained that the figures seemed to depict Black children as "pickaninnies".

Local artist Jeena Wolfe designed the artworks and she feels that the Principal acted inappropriately, although she is willing to redesign the works.

Meetings have been held on the issue, with the next one to be held at the school at 7pm on the 29th.

This issue is quite serious as this Island has been accused, sometimes justly, of reserving bad racist attitudes.


Well its been a quiet week here on the Island. On last report the City Council modified the outrageous plan to build skyscraper parking garages and an immense cineplex in the downtown so many moviemakers find "charming" for its small town atmosphere. After a modest uproar involving torches, cudgels, vats of bubbling tar and several lengths of stout hemp, the Council agreed to change things a bit and this week they have been mopping their collective brows with damp hankies.

Pedro Snoerrer has been gathering the members of the Island Civic Duty Association for the annual Turkey Day Benefit Dinner while Peter Snarling has been busy all about town organizing for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ, which never fails to astonish everyone as the affair inevitably fizzles and bangs with chaotic distemper each and every year no matter how much Peter runs about making plans. This may have much to do with the vastly more efficient Island Dogwalkers Association.

Mrs. Poshwaddle is planning not much more than conjuring her special recipe for creamed yams topped with marshmallows for the aforementioned CDA dinner. This year the benefit is in support of the lost and found parakeets of Louisiana, left in quite a state, apparently, due to the two hurricanes which devastated the region. The idea was suggested by the former head of FEMA before his abrupt departure, and the Association has a letter from Michael Brown typed on official government stationary which makes this item one of the more cherished items among those kept in the CDA's treasury of historical memorabilia.

The dinner is expected to be a great success and has Pedro all bubbling over with good will. "Just imagine the looks on their faces in New Orleans when we tell them we raised all this money for the birds!", he was heard to exclaim.

Whatever the result, it shall certainly be a fitting legacy for Mr. Brown.

We've had a spate of really warm weather here, quite unseasonable and thoroughly confusing to the ground squirrels who have come out to dig up the yard in a state of squirrely irritation at this break in their naptime. Still the early darkness and shortening days remind us to fetch the old acoustic ax from the dusty corner and once more dive into an erratic version of Lawrence Juber's old chestnut "To New Amsterdam", written during the holidays one year while riding a train to his grandmother's house.

Well, that's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week. Eat well and for god's sake avoid the creamed yams.

NOVEMBER 14, 2005


The recent Special Election held here was seen by many as a bellwether of support for Der Governator Arnold, who called for the election when, as he claimed, he was frustrated in his attempts to reform state government along lines to his liking and as endorsed by the more radical elements of the Republican Party. Well, things did not go well for Arnold at all. Here are the results as posted by the Secretary of State for California.

State Ballot Measures
100.0% ( 17726 of 17726 ) precincts reporting as of Nov 9, 2005 at 7:27 am

Pass (Y/N)
Propositions Yes Votes Pct. No Votes Pct.
73 Minor's Pregnancy 3,130,062 47.4 3,465,629 52.6
74 Teacher Tenure 2,987,010 44.9 3,662,932 55.1
75 Public Union Dues 3,092,495 46.5 3,551,011 53.5
76 Spending/Funding 2,522,327 37.9 4,115,388 62.1
77 Redistricting 2,673,530 40.5 3,920,487 59.5
78 Rx Drug Discounts 2,719,999 41.5 3,821,957 58.5
79 Rx Drug Rebates 2,523,803 38.9 3,950,763 61.1
80 Electric Regulation 2,189,126 34.3 4,182,374 65.7

Even some of the "red" areas of the State rebelled against the costly ($55 million) and largely unnecessary Special Election, which nearly everyone across the political spectrum saw as a grandstanding foolish action foisted on the taxpayers by an out-of-control and inexperienced Governor who had been elected on the basis of moderation. Quite the reverse of moderation, Schwarzenegger has consistently proposed draconian measures that fit entirely within the Neo-Con playbook, and his typically hamfisted slaps at just about any large and powerful group which happened to disagree with him helped him not a jot.

The former bodybuilder B-movie actor has called respectable members of the legislature "girly men", told representatives of various medical unions he was going to "kick their butts", labeled teachers as shiftless and lazy, threatened to yank firefighter and police pensions, and generally behaved boorishly while in office. As if to cap the boy's frustrations, the increasingly embattled President Bush showed up for a fundraiser in the state only days before the election -- and the Governor wisely (for once) refused to meet with this politician who is increasingly a liability to his own party.

"I wish he hadn't picked this time to come here," Arnold reportedly said (United Press).

Prop 73, not presented by Arnold, was drawn up by some radical Fundamentalists from the NeoCon camp and as it presented itself as a proposition that seemed to logically require MD's to inform parents of minors 48 hours before performing abortions got shot down in its bad verbiage and methodology. The Proposition would have been a Constitutional Amendment, for one thing, not just law, and it would have inserted debatable definitions for the tissues involved which almost certainly would have resulted in many savage court battles to come.

Prop 74 introduced questionable probation extentions and an even more questionable provision to pay teachers based on "job performance" without specifying how this performance would be measured. It was poorly thought out and poorly written.

Prop 75 had the odd double wammy of slamming the unions for political donations -- while exempting the bosses from the same limitations. You work for Clorox and can tell the Union where to put your money, but you can't tell Clorox itself not to give to the GOP? It was a pure and brazen attempt to bust the unions who are increasingly lining up against the Arnold.

76 was another of a long line of attempts to channelize the budget such that money's must be strictly allocated with no account transfers of any kind. Almost all of these attempts have been intentionally badly written so as to allow program cuts at the balance book level rather than at the general budget level where there is more discussion. It went down in flames.

77 was a typical GOP attempt to wrest power from places where they typically have had less or none via gerrymandering, pure and simple. The thing is, in this state, redistricting could easily go the other way, for tiny Orange County gets state reps in Sacto and Reps to Washington DC. It could easily be subsumed into San Bernardino, deluting its power, or it could be joined to another GOP district, halving the number of GOP reps from SOCAL. Everybody hated this one.

The two drug reform props fell victims of Drug Company misinformation and bitter infighting among people trying to handle the increasing morass of the American medical system in general. Neither one was especially good, but 79, written and endorsed by the biggest manufacturers was an obvious boondoggle.

Prop 80 was another example of an industry drawing up its own proposed legislation to benefit itself all the while calling it one thing while it really was another. This prop claimed to be restoring "regulation" to a state which has suffered notoriously from the GOP-driven deregulation that produced the ENRON disaster. The proposition was actually about hamstringing and limiting people's abilities to choose small, independent supplies regionally, such as our Island has successfully done to its great benefit.

This whole Special Election cannot be seen as a trend one way or another other than a general recognition that with the Governator, the honeymoon is long over and its politics as usual and people are just sick of it all here.


This is a public courtesy notice. Caltrans and the ADPW will be digging up and resurfacing the parts of Oak that go by City Hall and the Police Station so as to lay in underground lines. This is extensive work and is likely to continue through the new year with accompanying traffic disruption. Barricades have already been put up and some work has begun.


We can't answer that question posed by Gordon Lightfoot about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, but we bet one particular Florida resident can. Here is a story pulled right off of the wire

"A man whose boat capsized in rough seas off the Florida coast treaded water for six hours, watching his friend die, while two boaters refused to pick him up apparently thinking he was an illegal immigrant from Haiti.

Rogers Washington was eventually saved by two other boaters on Thursday who spotted him frantically waving his arms and shouting "I'm an American! I'm an American!"

"It would have been very easy not to have seen him," said David Pensky, 61, who saved Washington. "At first, I wasn't sure if he was a diver trying to make sure I didn't hit him." he told The (Annapolis) Capital, a Maryland newspaper.

Pensky and Richard Holden, 63, noticed the fisherman, orange whistle to his lips, floating with the aid of a cooler lid and a small life vest shoved under his arm.

"They are the best men in the world," Washington said on Friday. "They are God's children."

Washington said he capsized while on a fishing trip with Robert Lewis Moore, 62, also from Florida, after two large waves hit his 22-foot (7-meter) boat. The boat went down quickly, leaving the men clutching life vests.

Moore probably had a heart attack and died when a shark began circling them, Washington said. He tried resuscitating Moore, but it didn't work. He held onto his friend for about 45 minutes.

"I had to let him go so I could try to survive," he said.

Washington floated alone in the choppy seas for about five more hours, the coastline visible in the distance. A hammerhead shark came within 5 feet (1.5 meters) of him. Two boats, a charter and a sailboat, passed within a couple hundred feet (60 meters). No one on those boats offered to help.

"They waved at me. I know they saw me," said Washington, who is black and believes the other boaters thought he was an illegal immigrant from Haiti."


Went with a group of Concerned Citizens to see the sponsored movie on Wal-Mart. Must say, for a documentary on the life of a corporation, the movie was pretty gripping. Obviously, the movie makers had a polemic to make here with a pretty easily seen point, but it seemed pretty obvious that making the points on Wal-Mart's behalf would be pretty difficult. Much of the movie features the CEO speaking on behalf of his company in the form of various speeches, and even when directly addressing specific issues, the guy falls flat on his face. He just cannot figure why people don't love his company to pieces.

About the best one can say about Wal-Mart is that it makes money for its owners, but does nothing else for anybody else, including its employees, many of whom -- from mid-level managment to the sales clerks heap absolute vitriol upon the often blatantly illegal labor practices the big box giant conducts nationwide.

Essentially, Wal-Mart's strategy is to slam into a small community with the aid of $500,000 per store government subsidies, underhire and underpay the staff while demanding unpaid overtime, drive virtually every other local business into bankruptcy through savage price undercutting aided by this aforementioned subsidy and cheap goods made by sweatshops in China, then, when the local governments request the chain to make good on any number of extravagant promises made before the groundbreaking, they close the immense store, lay everyone off, and then build another one just inches on the other side of city limits to exempt the building from property taxes and keeping promises.

The subsidies, in the form of state and local tax waivers, outright no-load financial grants, interest-free loans allowed to default and other measures cost the American people a bit over 1.5 billion dollars a year, not including the costs created by its systematic direction of underpaid employees to State and Federal assistance programs, including food stamps, Medicare and Medicade, WIC, etc.

The company, which imports some 15 billion dollars worth of goods each year from the People's Republic of China essentially uses the government to fund its medical insurance plans.

Some people might say, well all companies do things like this, but few are the companies that do everything, all of it: from fouling the environment, cheating on pay, forcing unpaid labor, demanding extended work hours with no extra pay, illegal surveillance, unfair competition, use of sweatshop labor, deliberate supression of ethical standards in management, systematic sexual abuse of women, sexual harrassment, racial harassment, allowing known dangerous work environments, failing to protect customers on its property, disdain for court consent decrees, unfair and illegal hiring and retention practices, union busting with threats and intimidation, and practically anything you can name besides. These people do everything all the time. The original founding family (founder Ray Walton died in 1998) now has four of its members among the ten richest people in the world.

Well, they just might be among the ten most contemptible people in the world as well.

Recently Target, which is a sort of Wal-Mart wannabe was recently told an emphatic No Thank You, when they tried to horn in here on the Island. You can still see the empty site right across the water over there in Oaktown where they pulled the same sort of Wal-Mart trick of build and abandon.


By now its all over but for the old guy who runs the Zamboni-like thing over the field to pick up the bottles, wrappers, roach clips, and underwear that tend to get tossed during such affairs. Yes, the absolute bona fide biggest rock 'n roll band in the world -- and one of the most long-lived -- has come to town, filling Pac Bell Park to capacity in each one of its slots that cost about $125-450 -- if bought legally. By the time Mick and the boys took the stage, scalpers were offering seats at a cool $3,000 a pop -- and they got it.

Well, Rawk and Roll is not quite what it once was during the age of the doo-wop and duckwalk, and The Rolling Stones are, well, unkillable as it seems. In an age and a business where two hits in a row really makes the artist stand out, KFOG played a solid six and one half hours of RS on Sunday, and every song was recognizably familiar. Sir Mick (age 62) has come a long way since the days of doing Muddy Waters tunes for a couple dollars per head in pubs. We should all be so lucky in our choice of careers.

Returned to the Island in the wee hours, missing entirely Mike Powers' Sunday Night Jam as well as the deadlines, but felt the Wal-Mart thing was worth a shot. picked Sunday to be a day of general screening in theatres and in homes where people across the nation who had bought the DVD ($10) gathered for anti-Wal-Mart parties. All the racoons were snug in their beds. Sat and read a book on island postcards until a complaining Dr. Friederich curled up in our lap and went to sleep. A nearly full moon peered through the blinds from its crowded cloudy position. All fine down there. Very good. Ta ta. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

NOVEMBER 6, 2005


Halloween weekend went with the gals to the Fat Lady in Oaktown by Jack London. Like many Bay area residents the owner takes the annual festival quite seriously as these photos of part of the decor will attest. The Fat Lady closes for only two days each year, both of the consecutive days devoted solely to the erection of the Halloween decor.

From the outside, the establishment appears no more irregular than many of the places at this time.

Entering the foyer, one encounters the following warning.

Further along one encounters the "head waiter".

Perhaps you may settle in the main dining room and look about you. Only to notice at least one corner has something disturbing haunting its nooks.

In such circumstances it is not surprising you may retire directly to the bar and look up. Only to see overhead . . .

And above this fellow a few more. . .

Behind you you have this scene . . .

While above the bar you observe this . . .

O horrible, o horrible, most horrible.


The above phrase is from Michael Franti's new CD and we opened some wide eyes the other day in conversation saying it. Turns out we were talking with members of the band at the time. Who proceeded to spend some wonderful hours practicing downstairs from us. Franti's Spearhead brings its rasta world-beats to the venerable Fillmore from the enviable slot 25th-27th with each night featuring a different warmup band.

Bruce Cockburn has an excellent all-instrumental CD out, an unusual departure for the very outspoken and excellent lyricist, but no sign of when he will drift by locally.

Personal faves, Social Distortion virtually dominate the Fillmore for five days this month, from the 9th to the 15th with a two-day break for My Morning Jacket, now riding high on some tasty acoustic sets performed at KFOG.

Our Household resumes the annual tradition of attending the harder edged former home of Big Rick Steuart, Live 105's Not So Silent Night. This year the multi-band extravaganza returns gratefully to the Civic from the execrable San Jose Arena and includes a wider range of music than the insistently persistently thrash-core heavy metal. The White Stripes and the funnily named Death Cab for Cutie are the two biggest names headlining this year. This partial benefit typically sells out each year and has featured some eye-opening headliners in the past.

One of our favorite moments was when one year Hole's Courtney Love emptied a bag of white powder an audience member had tossed on stage onto the floor. When the bassist tried to lick it up, she kicked him. It was the one moment we have seen her behave with some dignity and sophistication. Well, at least for her.

Also this month, Susan Tedeschi returns with that whiskey-voice of hers that no teenager ever should possess, this time singing a collection of Motown-style songs as well as her inimitable Blues. And you know, we break for the Blues.

Jethro Tull is unforgotten and will skate away on the ice of a new day at the Paramount this 11/11/05. Violating the boring formula of three power chords and drums, Ian Anderson will rock you with guitar-accented flute. No kidding.

The Independent in the City is looking up with a fine booking series and Yoshis has stopped publishing its sold-out lineup until after the New Year, which is probably gone, gone, gone by now.


The crisp air stirs the blood in this time of year and a young man's fancy turns to stirring walks along the hedges, the autumn leaves beginning their slow revolve with a hint of snow upon the air, the acrid scent of fresh rain coursing through the eaves, and taking out his spiffy 32-20, oiling up the stock, polishing the barrel and squinting the sights in fond reverie of blowing Fifi to joyous little bloody pieces. Ah, the camaraderie by firelight, the quick sharp tang of fresh booze on the tongue mingling with the smoky scent of seared dogflesh and the anguished howl of slaughtered puppies.

Yes my friends, another year has passed and it is coming, that special event for which all good boys and girls and devoted readers look forward all year: The Annual Island Thanksgiving Poodleshoot and BBQ. Each year the Island hosts a special event in which all manner of firearms and armaments are displayed in the seasonably honorable tradition of hunting the species known as "Fifi", immaculately barbered and delicately coiffed, so as to purge the island of bad art and worse hair styling.

As to those who might object we would answer quite reasonably, why on earth would any sensible person take their dog for a walk on such a day when it is well known that any and all poodles are fair game for the BBQ grill. Use common sense people.

Rules and highlights from previous years can be found here.


Well it's been a quiet week here on the Island. High fog, mist and falling leaves remind us of the advancing year. Across the street the vine maple stands like a static explosion, a freeze-frame of a great ball of red and yellow fireworks, astonishing in its vividness. Reverend Rectumrod gave everyone hell during his sermon, and everybody felt so bad that the entire congregation went down to the Old Same Place and got good and drunk and the Mariana sisters each went home with men who were not their husbands. As did a number of women who were not even married and a few men as well, so everybody wound up feeling quite jolly at the end of it.

So you see it turned out all right in the end.

Eugene Shrubb is all in a wax about being totally rejected at the South American Bum Summit, where the Argentinians gave him the Bum's Rush while a crowd shouted out some rather rude names to the President Appointed. Things just don't look well for old Shrubb these days, with his invasion of Newark going all to pot, his nomination of his Nursery School Teacher, Harriet Merely, to the position of Chief Justice sunk like a depthcharged U-boot in a bad movie dream sequence, and his Chief of Staff, LIbby Favabeans, tossed in the slammer for vagrancy and objecting to an Officer. Well, there are some who would argue that being the President's Nursemaid is hardly sufficient credentials to be a Court Justice, but those people are picking nits as we are sure the woman is a fine lady. Then there's Thomas "The Icepick" Putoff's arrest -- for the third time -- on charges of being a basic bum in the third degree, as well as violations of the Public Decency Code. Putoff has managed to wriggle out of trouble before, but this time it seems unlikely he can Delay punishment any longer. It does not look so good that the head of the majority party keeps getting arrested.

Then there was the unfortunate response of Michael Ochre, head of the Femur Department, when the dust devil caused a disaster at the Hoophole High Picnic in which there was loss of life, destruction of property, nervous jumping up and down and the catastrophe of mules. Ochre's response was to hand out free drink tickets for the Old Same Place to the kids, which many people felt was really useless as the kids were all underage. Handing out free liquor to kids seems about the speed of this Administration.

It's gotten so bad that the Press has started reporting the news again.

It may be that President Shrubb has just been the unfortunate victim of a string of bad luck -- lasting some six years -- or it may be that he is just an incompetant bum with few moral principles, but we leave that judgement to you.

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

OCTOBER 30, 2005


This weekend has been full of strange apparitions and ghostly manifestations, as well as the Bay Area's typically fun-loving bevy of parties and general costume folderol. House Handyman headed off to the City to check out the Bernal Heights Illicit and Probably Illegal Soapbox Derby. It's after dark and old Neal is not home yet. Padraic was last seen on his old bicycle in search of accoutrements for a Popeye costume.

Tomorrow the still sea conspires with the night to breed a silent wind of tiny monsters, all clambering along the sidewalks and doorways like some infernal, galloping, hopping, hooting, shrieking, slithering, saraband of a nightmare from JP Lovecraft. All while the covens convene up in Marin and at that certain spot over there nigh unto to Cliff House where angels fear to tread and where pentangles are found lined upon the ground come dawns early chilly light without explanation or wheretofore.

Our long-time resident Satanist, Anton LaVey, has passed into that other world, where no doubt he and Satan keep one another glorious company, together with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, in all the best possible spirits, given the circumstances. Nevertheless, he is fondly remembered. I mean Anton, of course.

Recently we have heard words from Anton's widow expressing concern over the state of Evil today. And we can understand that concern, for the GOP consists these days of such a gamut of pikers and incompetants, that one becomes quite anxious about how things are going at all times of the day. O, they try their darndest, but they just cannot seem to do anything right, including the sending of copious souls to Hell, as is the sworn duty of Republicans everywhere.

Apparently, it has come time for these wastrels, who have so often scoffed at the idea of balancing a budget, to pay the Devil his due.

Meanwhile, in a dark garrett, somethere in Washington, a pale and sweating Karl Rove gazes at the stars and impores "Festina lente ye horses of the night . . .", while a confused and distraugt Libby makes ready for the Infernal Carriage that will carry him and his Mephistopheles down, down, down to that Other Place of sulphur and eternal torment.

Barbara has been incensed for weeks about the scent of sulphur about the place and has fired five contractors assigned with eradicating the smell in the White House, from carpet cleaners to drapery steamers, and all of them have failed miserably. The stench in the White House will take a lot more than a spritz of Spot-Off. This one will take a new Hercules to divert a river to sluice out the corruption.

Tomorrow, the kids plan to have their fun.


This section is somewhat truncated, due to recent snafus among the research staff, but we shall not leave you entirely without.

Those of you looking to spend your dollars wisely during this critical time when 90% of the retail merchants in the United States make 80% of their annual income, can still make a difference by attending to where you shop.
Instead of buying what is expected, which the receiver can usually obtain better on their own, why not buy your gifts with some spontaneous creativity. Why not make shopping for gifts FUN for once?

Isn't that the way it is supposed to be?.

Well, hie yourselves to WWW.BUYBLUE.ORG to check out the latest info on who is NOT giving to the war complex this year.

Hey, mention you heard about it here and earn yourselves some karma points.

Also, you may be suprised to note that COSTCO is one of the friendlier big box stores, giving a substantial tithe to worthy Blue Stater causes. Barnes and Noble, as well as Sharper Image and Borders all give substantially to the Democratic Party.


Antoine De St.-Exupery is most known for having written "The Little Prince", long time a favorite among children and adults who have not lost their imagination. He did write, however eight other books of deep philosophical import, as would come from someone who had survived having his plane shot down in the middle of the African Sahara, only to disappear during World War II during a routine mail run. Somewhere over the African desert, a Desert Fox gunner brought down his plane near the end of the war, this time for good, not knowing he was terminating the life of a brilliant philosopher and writer, believing, no doubt, that he was being a good soldier and very obedient in shooting down this obviously Enemy airplane.

"The LIttle Prince" , something of a story for children overlaying a complex allegory regarding the various alternatives man has to face life and eternity, was occasioned by Exupery's first plane crash. In fact, the second section of the book describes the author "having trouble" with his plane in the middle of the Sahara and that the situation was a matter of life and death.

Generations afterward have preserved Exupery's name and his writing as a precious jewel to be kept luminous and alive. There is no one who has read any of his books, besides "The Little Prince", who will disagree with the statement that Exupery was a brilliant, lively and completely human writer of the first degree.

Heard some climbers found a feller up on Mendel hard by where we usually find ourselves in the late summer. Was reminded of Exupery's anonymous passing. Mendel is right up against our traditional route to the Evolution Valley. Turns out four or five planes have crashed thereabouts in the forties during the war and this fellow is almost certainly from an AT-7 that crashed November 18,1942. May have strolled right by the fellow buried deep under ice and snow. In fact, here he is. His name, most likely, was Leo Mustonen.

And here is my own shot of Mt. Mendel, as seen from the canyon below. He was found on the opposite side of the the second high peak you see to the right. On Nov. 18, 1942, according to military accident reports, Mustonen was one of three navigator cadets aboard a Beech AT-7 training plane that left a military airfield near Sacramento, Calif., on a routine training flight that was bound for Corning, Calif. The three other men on the plane were pilot 2nd Lt. William A. Gamber of Fayette, Ohio; Cadet John Mortenson of Moscow, Idaho; and Cadet Ernest Munn of Sacremento, CA.The plane's engine and other components as well as dogtags for Mortensen were found by a climber and a subsequent search party in 1947 at an elevation of 13,700 feet. Mendel is 13,710 feet in elevation.

It's not much of a scramble from the summit where the man died to this spot, as you can see. Perhaps forty minutes clambering down the chute and another ninety minutes getting down over that talus to where this picture was taken, but in 1943, it must have felt like a million miles from everywhere at 13,700 feet. And from the canyon its another full day's hike to get up over the unmarked pass and then down, assuming you knew exactly where you were. Military records indicate the plane was 200 miles offcourse.

I would like to think that the man understood the difference between a large hat and the image of a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant. and was able to draw, in some form or other, a lamb in a box, for whoever might happen to have arrived in his last moments. These things are very important, although Big People seldom understand them. After all, if you have not learned to draw a little sheep upon command upon the hour of your death, we would have to say your life has not been well employed.

Ah well, perhaps you must read the book to fully understand.


All people have the stars, but it is not the same for all people. In recent years, that appears all too obvious. You may put yourself in whatever camp you wish but your actions will reveal soon enough your take upon the stars you own. This week, due to the Special Silly Election, Island Life will have one of its Special Issues.

Other night we went out to take the air and happened upon the local Racoon family, numbering some seven souls, gamboling about the Pagano's parking lot. Stood a while and watched the kids tumble about on the asphalt and snoop the edges for candy wrappers. What great mysteries enfold in the racoon family's ramble!

Eventually they noticed us gawking by the gate and humped off with bear-growls and snurfing amongst themselves.

Stood a while after that admiring the great wheel of Orion through the Milky Way overhead while the sound of the freight trains passing through Jack London came drifting over the water.

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

OCTOBER 23, 2005


Its come around to that delightful season when ghosts and gremlins howl about the chimneys as the dead leaves fall. Tiny monsters breed in the alcoves and everyone around here makes ready for El Dias de Muertes with sugar skulls and altars In Memoriam. It may be that all this focus upon the imaginary ghoulish and fake gory is all a shift to the side to avoid staring at the very real fact of Death's inevitability as well as the quite horrific events taking place around the world that require no movie studio "Freddie" to horrify with special effects.

In any case, the Bay Area takes this opportunity to begin a series of long parties lasting weeks long, including the infamous Exotic Erotic Ball and the associated "Hooker's Ball", both of which feature the stars of erotic entertainment and a cast of thousands letting it all hang out, with many in suggestive costume and others in no costume or clothes all all.

The Island tends to a more sedate enjoyment of this time, however every block has its display, grown increasingly more sophisticated and complex over the years, to present to the passersby. Spiderwebs some twenty feet long hosting immense spiders the size of Shelob in Lord of the Rings suddenly appear to clash with yards of smoke machines and dry ice in kettles boiling before cackling witches and animated skeletons.

Yes, the Island likes to have fun in a serious way.

Including Paganos, which has long presented each holiday season award-winning display windows replacing the staid arrangements of the average hardware store.

No Halloween here is complete without reference to the theme of bondage.

After last year's Lord of the Rings spectacular introduction of Best Spider Ever, its not surprising to find the order of Arachnidae well represented.

After a storefront window some twenty feet long displaying such scenes one is grateful to enter the relative sanity of a good old-fashioned hardware store. You approach a clerk who's eyes begin to glow as he cackles and that's when you notice he is bearing a platter of rats. Norwegian variety, if you must know.

Take a walk down the street to admire the sure sanity of suburban lawns and one is almost certain to be taken aback.

Halloween is less a seasonal event for kids than an entire Season in itself all for adults, complete with holiday spirit, joy and feasting, loads of parties and, of course, costumes. The premier event each year is most certainly Perry Mann's Exotic Erotic Ball, now in its 26th iteration. It is most definitely a keep-the-kids-at-home kind of thing, with this year's Special Host, famous editor and unusual First Amendment proponent, Larry Flynt, who helps turn this lovable smut-fest into a decidedly political event this year. Festivities kick off downtown on the 20th, before shifting to the 2-day "Adult Expo" and culminating in the actual Ball at the Cow Palace, which proves to be the only venue left in town to hold the astoundingly increased numbers of attendees.

Roving reporter, Rachel, reports that the Fat Lady, a jazzy bistro on the edge of Jack London Square, has been doing Halloween to the nines every year for years. On a drive by we noted eight-foot skeletons, immense spiders and similar garish adornments guaranteed to stimulate the palate there. Our reporter mentioned that the main attraction is a life-sized witch who glides above the diners as they, um, dine. Seems we need to return to sample the popcorn shrimp there sometime soon.

Our contact in the Solano Business Association, Ms. Bulwinkl, indicates that the Solano Avenue merchants will be hosting a marvelous weekend on the Avenue up in Albany with respect and irreverence toward the dead with a heavy lean to the Mexican El Dias de los Muertos, which also occurs at this time of year. Expect candlelit altars in memory of the departed, sugar-skulls, intricate paper cuts, dioramas of skeletal mariachis, and much more besides. You cannot call yourself a Bay Area Resident if you have not experienced the Day of the Dead, Mexican style

Ms. Bulwinkl writes:

"Solano Avenue business owners Penny Opal Plant of Gathering Tribes, Memo Robles of Casa Oaxaca, and Mike Silverman from What The Traveler Saw brought their culturally diverse stores together to create the first Berkeley event last year which attracted over 100 people.

On Friday, October 28 at 6:30 p.m. Solano Avenue will again be hosting a night of remembrance and everyone is invited to participate. Gather at the top of Solano Avenue in Berkeley at The Alameda to honor departed loved ones. Bring a photo of those you wish to remember, a candle, flowers, or food to feed their souls. Aztec dancers will lead a candlelit procession on the sidewalk until it reaches Peralta Park at 1561 Solano Avenue where all are welcome to create a community altar or Ofrenda that will be blessed by the dancers. Personal items may be added to the altar in memory of those who have journeyed to the other side. Since the altar will be up only for one evening, bring items you can leave, or retrieve before leaving.

Dias de los Muertos is usually celebrated each year on November 1st and 2nd. On these days it is believed the dead come from the beyond to visit with the living. Special foods are prepared, breads are baked, and flowers of the season are collected. In many villages processions are made to the cemeteries where family graves are cleaned up and a feast is held along with prayers. All the things that the dead liked while living are offered. It is a time for merriment. The first day of the festival is for the spirit of infants and the second is for the spirits of adults.

The acceptance of Catholicism into Mexican culture introduced a fear of death and Hell that were represented, respectively, by the images of a skeleton and the Devil. Later, at the turn of the 20th century when the tradition of "Calaveras" or satirical reviews became popular which made fun of politicians, traditions, and social or artistic notables, death again was seen to be more of an extension of life than an end to it. This was truer to Mexico's Aztec and Mayan roots. It was at this time the famous engraver, Jose Guadalupe Posada popularized the figure of death in the world of art. His image of the woman known as Catrina, who wears a fancy hat with flowers, is one of the most widely recognizable symbols of Dias de Los Muertos."

The fun for the Bay area begins in the middle of the week and rollicks through the weekend.

Nice hat, Catrina. You be lookin' fine.


This year the juicy lineup for the Season highspot will be the complete ensemble of CSNY, playing both days at the Shoreline. Dave Matthews does Sunday while John Mellencamp does Saturday. As if this were not enough, rising comet, sultry chanteuse Norah Jones channels You Know Who with that voice of hers, while Emmylou Harris follows with -- Great Balls of Fire! -- Jerry Lee Lewis and then the younger edgier set feature Good Charlotte and Bright Eyes with just another band from East LA: Los Lobos. There will be additional guests dropping in if you are not hoarse enough from screaming after that lineup.

The annual benefit is conducted by Neal's wife Peggy in support of the Bridge School which is an educational program in support of children with severe speech and physical impairments. Factoid: Neil himself barely survived a childhood bought with polio that
withered one of his legs and left him with occasional gran mal seizures, which is the reason old Neil never did the drugs during the sixties while everybody else was tokin' and snortin'. He also has two children enrolled in the Bridge School, which makes for personal attachment to this cause.

Hey, you could do worse than spend part of your precious weekend grooving to the most talented musicians on the planet while coincidentally helping support a no-holds barred decent cause.

If Poncho ever gets a whiff of this, tell him I gave that old '72 Mustang to a good charity when I was done with it. Sorry guy; I know the old man would have liked messing around with it.


Was down by the Strand the other day and Reverend Rectumrod was up there on his burnished podium made from pieces of a 1956 Caddilac just preaching up a storm all about this Intelligent Design Concept. The Assembly of Bums was gathered about him and there were burning trashcan fires illuminating the holy scene, which made it all quite sanctimonious and quite impressive.

You can just imagine.

Now if you must know this here Intelligent Design Concept says that we live in the Best of All Possible Worlds and everything is light and happy and perfect and every body is just neato and perfect and every animal is all cuddly and perfect, including the California Turkey Buzzard, sort of like a Teletubby Episode, and this proves God not only made the entire world and the universe but that God is a He and He made everything in literally 7 days and not only in 7 days but in 7 days precisely 5,000 years ago -- not any further back please -- and that there was a place called Eden located near what is now modern day Elvira, Illinois.

Now don't go talking to me about "begging the question five times over" for this here is pure science -- according to the likes of Reverend Rectumrod and there are many Important People who agree with him.

Personally, we maintain a respectful skepticism.

In fact, we would like to present the scientific opinion of Bear, who loudly expressed his own theory about the Cosmos before the assembled multitude of the Brown Shoed Square. He maintains that the world is so obviously screwed up with nothing ever going right, from hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, asthma, Ebola virus, the Black Death as well as death in all of its multitudinal forms, flatulent amoebas, the Ford Edsel, Herbert Hoover, John Foster Dulles, the old Shovelhead engine, the organization called FEMA, and human feet that it seems quite clear nobody in their right mind of any cranial capacity could have ever invented this World.

It's too damn f----d up.

Human feet? What on earth?

Human feet! Toes, I mean!, Bear shouted. Just take your shoes off and look at toes; they're ridiculous. You don't' really need them; what are they there for? But just cut one off, and oh ho, see how you feel! They're ugly, butt ugly. Human feet are goddamn ugly and only somebody like Pablo Neruda -- who was a genius -- could ever see anything beautiful in them and he really was being poetically arch at the time. They're ugly as sin. And so is the butt on virtually 90% of the human race and non-human besides. Who could have thought of such a ridiculous appliance? What kind of mind could have invented things like leprosy. How can you explain phenomena like Rick Santorum. Or Pee Wee Herman. Two Pee Wees in a pod, if you ask me. Think of them together! No, this world was not devised by any intelligent mind, maybe by His Marketing Manager or Administrative Assistant during an off day while she was drunk, but intelligent design? I think not. It has to have been devised by Somebody who was really crazy, or very stupid. It's worse than a Rube Goldberg contraption. . . .

Well, there you have the answer to the artificial dichotomy between Creationism and Science. Our thanks to Jim Hightower for this inspiration.

Nope, we never make any of this stuff up ourselves. We are the Media and we have Standards.


On the more intellectual side of things here on the Island, our Intrepid Island Investigator (Private Third I) at Island-Life managed to sneak into a den of iniquity here for a full report on a resurgence of what was once a grand Island tradition which dominated the entire Nation and characterized an entire period of American History. And which vanished entirely for nearly a half-century until recently. Furthermore, our embedded journalist managed to get inside gratis, which is much appreciated on all sides, as the expense account for staff here is rather meager.

Hey, you see any ads in this space?

It was a mild night behind cloud wracked, melodramatic skies as we made our way stealthily through darkened backstreets to behind the gym for Island High on Encinal where all the lights were up and all the parking taken for blocks in all directions. Between the aisles of dark vehicles and shadowy forms we made our way to the side entrance where Guido, our Inside Man, greeted us with a stack of bright orange helmets, bidding us to take these and follow him down a long concrete corridor that felt as if it were miles underground until we came to a place of locked steel cabinets and tiles and dripping water in the distance. We felt as if we were deep inside Moria in the lockerroom of the Dwarves.

The air thrummed with chanting and the acidic smell of sweat and violent acts. A man was saying something over a high school PA system and of course, the words were unintelligible. Guido then says to us, "Hand those helmets to the guy who says, "oh there they are!" and you are in. After that, you are on your own in here, pal." And the little man disappeared like an elf somewhere in the shadows.

We made our way down a dark concrete corridor while a rhythmic pounding and the muffled sounds of chanting seeped through the dank walls.

We came to a set of swinging doors, which we pushed open with one foot and came into a blaze of light from bright overhead fluorescent tubes.

Somebody said, "Oh there they are," and we handed the helmet stack to an immense man weighing easily well over 300 pounds and wearing a bright orange jersey stamped with the legend "ICE BOX".

"I'm going over there," we said.

He was ignoring us already as he trundled across the floor of a well-buffed gymnasium to a group of people also wearing orange jerseys. "Ok, you go over there."

We walked around the edge of a raised oval track topped with padded rails, and ascended the stands through throngs of shouting, stamping people. We had arrived safely into the high school basketball gym which had been temporarily converted into a venue for that bloodthirsty atavistic icon of the vicious 1950's. Below, eight men skated on the race track.

It was Roller Derby night on the Island.

"Denby! Somebody said. "How did you get in here?

There in the upper ranks of the stands were the majority of the House Social Club. Our entire building had taken a field trip to see the event.

Our quaint little Island and the rough sport of Roller Derby may seem like an odd mix, but this island was the primo mecca for decades. All the best players from around the country were trained here and a 200 meter indoor track existed on Central in a building devoted solely to the sport.

The original Roller Derby was created by Leo Seltzer back in the 1930s. Created after the country weathered through the worst of times the Roller Derby was a survival knee-jerk response to the great depression of 1929.

The first-ever Derby "game" was skated on Aug. 13, 1935 in the Chicago Coliseum, with over 20,000 people watching. At that time, rather than a competitive game, the Derby was an endurance race. Male/female teams would switch off skating a race of 57,000 laps, which amounted to 4,000 miles - roughly the distance across the United States.

A large map was displayed with markers showing where the teams would be if they were really skating across the country.

The skate marathon drew the most energetic and athletic youngsters who were just teenagers. The participants found their way to these roller races because they wanted to survive and would do most anything for food and a place to sleep.

The "modern" Roller Derby was born by accident only a few years later, as Seltzer was showing off his game to New York sportswriter Damon Runyan in Miami in 1938.

During a "speed jam" a few of the players tangled up and Runyan suggested to Seltzer that contact should be part of the game. The next night it was.

The event was immensely popular through the forties and fifties, with stadiums topping 100,000 people, but fell into a decline in the later part of the 50's era. Setzer's son took over as the sport migrated west. Our Bay Bombers with their orange jersey's were founded in 1954 and have remained Northern California's favorite team. Saturday Night pitted the Bombers against Chicago's Pioneers in an old rivalry meant to revive the game from its doldrums.

Two things conspired to terminate the game, which had its last "official" race in 1973. The Energy Crisis and Television.

Driving everywhere, Roller Derby soon succumbed to rising gas prices and transportation costs. Television had grabbed hold of the game and quickly turned it from a sport into a boffo absurd spectacle with all the moves and flamboyance -- and fakery -- of Pro Wrestling. The best skaters dropped the sport in disgust and fans also turned to more thoughtful entertainment. Like football.

Oh well. Ya gotta love America.

Saturday night was the latest in a revival that has been going on for couple of years here. As it stands today, the skaters are not nearly as physically fit as they once had to be, when female competitors could easily have competed in any body building pageant and the men were bulky blocks of solid muscle, but there still is a fair amount of conditioning required to skate for 90 minutes in five minute increments while throwing body blocks. Also, some of the flamboyance and sheer theater of the latter days was present as "Ice Box" mixed it up with opposing team members on the track, punches were thrown with wild telegraphing motion and at least one time the visiting coach brained somebody with a cafeteria chair.

Not to worry: with all the punches, armbars, thrown chairs and mayhem, not a spot of blood dotted the bright white track in the end. Quite unlike any Sunday spent over at Fairtex gym, where they keep a bucket and mop ready at all times to mop the canvas.

It was all good fun, if not the most intellectual, and a fine time was had by all.

Oh yeah, we won 62-61 in a heartbreaker down to the last seconds. Bay Bombers rule!


Are you still really bummed that half of the nation appears to have taken a long-lasting Stupid Pill a few years ago? Feel everyone around you, from the guys on the bowling team to the haughty bank manager at your branch to the sniveling brat who proudly wears his "flying W" as he flings your newspaper has ganged up into a sort of Soylent Green Conspiracy of irritating triumphalism over common sense and reasonable behavior? Feel that Big Corporation has always run things and things will never change and you are a dust mote flung on the breeze?

Well my friend, sigh no longer in despondency. We present here as a service to our readers the beginning of a comprehensive, real world, take no prisoners way to fight back. And fight back without having to feel foolish in a parade that will likely as not be ignored by the proud and mighty anyway. Fight back without guns, without bombs, without putting in one extra minute of your day, and without doing without anything that your use or buy.

Huh? You thought revolutions were for irritating pinkos and masked idiots looking to vandalize shop windows amid clouds of tear gas.

Oh man, that is soooo, sixties dude.

The way to hit the bad guys is right where the wallet resides, and so:


Now the first thing to keep in mind here is that you want to make your changes subtly and without pretty much changing what you do anyway, while yanking dollars from the fists of Snidley Whiplash Bush.

It's time to take a weedwacker to that Bush, so lets do it.

The first thing to do is redirect the dollars you spend each day. No, you don't have to start forking over to this and that charity. You probably do that already. There are plenty of financial instruments of the type you have right now you can redirect into what is called "Socially Responsible Investments". Here is a step by step approach

1. CREDIT CARDS: Look at that card you got. What is the name of the bank that gave it to you and how do they spend their money? No, you don't have to give up credit -- that would be really un-American. Instead of shoveling more lucre through the hands of Chase Manhattan and the like, why not contacting any of the following:

USBANK paired with REI:

Juniper (pro national parks):

Working Assets:

Once you got your credit line in line, cut the others and send the cards back and proudly tell the flustered guy on the other line, you decided to choose "Socially Responsible" institutions.

You should have heard the Chase guy begging me not to leave. Its a good feeling.

2. TELEPHONE SERVICE - Do NOT tell me you have no long distance service. Do NOT tell me you do not have a telephone. Still use ATT for long distance? Why not Working Assets instead.

Working Assets Long Distance:


Okay Moneybags, you say, well these things are ALL corrupt and designed to lure with the promise of Unearned Increment and yadda yadda.

Well, you are wrong. Plenty of folks out there put their money where their mouths reside and back it up with firm principles. Industry analysts have shown that Socially Responsible investments that shirk tobacco, firearms and war industries, tend to outperform S&P by a margin of 2-20% in all financial climates, over the long term, and in every state of economic conditions, for these instruments aim for consistency rather than the short shot gamble.

You earn 12% now? How about 32%! Now money talks and as more small investors chip in to these million dollar instruments, the big guys are going to start to

For a range of investments as well as retirement, contact First Affirmative Financial Network at 800-422-7284


One of the onerous things about buying strictly American, or environmentally friendly products or anything that does not hurt somebody somewhere is keeping track of the constantly changing political situations around the world and the US and who the heck has the time for that? Certainly not mom scrambling to keep house, pickup the kids, deliver yet more and locate an easy chair in which to plotz for five minutes, let alone have some fun once in a while. Sometimes you feel lucky just to get a hot plate on the table in front of everybody.

Well that's the way They like it and that is the way They want to keep it and that's the way it will stay if people don't do something different.

In through the window flies your Hero, Co-op America! Ta Da!

Wuzzat? you ask.

Co-Op America takes care of all that keeping track stuff. You don't have to wade through slanted news reports from one side or the other, you don't have to read books and wonder if Wal-mart is worse than K-Mart. Become a member and they will tell you what's up, where stuff comes from, who buys whom, and not only that, they provide goods and services that are refreshingly clean and competitive against the Mr. Snidelys of this world.

Feel that some of these groups are a bit too strident or include this or that niggling thing you just cannot agree with? Want to save the environment but still insist on your Religious crotchets? well, Co-op America will sort that out for you. Honestly don't know why more Republicans don't become members. Well, maybe they are. The point is, the choices are made EASY.



I am a scientist. You can be, too. Its fun and it's not hard, just join the Union of Concerned Scientists and get a copy of their Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices.

There you have it: at least four things you can do or change and it will cost you virtually nothing and nobody will call you wacko. Upcoming: how to shop a Blue Xmas. Stay tuned.


OAR is coming to the Warfield this week on the 27th. Be nice to check the boys out, for this is a band that can rock and still carry a melody while singing some lyrics that actually make sense in these senseless times. It's the Jah, mon. Missed Gov't Mule with Moe this weekend due to the Roller Derby, but he'll be back, that Warren. Lately he's been on quite a roll.

Well, its been a quiet week on the Island. Each morning the pale gray sky hides Mssr. Soleil until noon and you know its getting on to autumn. They are switching from Long Island Ice Teas to hot toddies and Irish Coffees down at the Old Same Place and the fog horns out on the Bay are audible even in the day time. Missed the full moon entirely due to the fog, in fact. Yes, its a change in season. Time to bundle up the light sweaters, shorts and thong birkenstocks, put them all away in storage and bring out the slightly heavier sweaters, longer shorts and open-toe birkenstocks. Well we really don't have a winter around here like they have in other parts of the country. It snowed once a quarter inch one year -- up on Mount Tam and Grizzly Peak Boulevard -- and the entire Bay Area was all agog at the wonder.

Nights get a little chilly, the oaks get a little confused and drop their leaves and the Canadian geese form chevrons -- but do not depart. Our Ground squirrels will store away a few nuts and go to sleep for a month or two, simply out of habit. But we don't get those bracing storms like they do in Minnesota and New York. As a result , automobile undercarriages last forever and people stay in a relatively good mood, both consequences not so bad.

Tonight, over in Oaktown, Ice Box snores the victorious snore of well-earned sleep in his immense bed and all the Bay Bombers rest their bruised and battered bodies. Down by old Beltline, the weeds rustle in the wind whistling through the chain link fence that used to open for the donkey train that ran from the old cannery to the airport, but the gate is padlocked and rusted and it will open no more until the tracks are finally torn up. Not far away Officer O'Madhauen nurses a coffee cup in his Crown Victoria near the Wind River paper plant. Never know if a speeder should dare come through the industrial park on a Sunday evening, scoffing at the Law of the Land.

The little raccoon family is out and about, nuzzling from one back door to another, looking for the errant and open garbage can or a kitty dish left out. The young opossum who has been nosing around for whatever may be had from the garden is nosing about in someone else's garden for we have torn down all the corn stalks by now.

Out back the Old Man still stands, all 120 feet of him, albeit with a pronounced lean, the last coastal sequoia for blocks in all directions.

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

OCTOBER 16, 2005


Well my goodness, for such a quiet week we have such a lot to talk about. First off, the Island-Life T-shirt catalog has been heavily revised with brand new non-political additions and retailers have begun knocking at the gates for stock! Could it be our little hobby shall become a bona facto enterprise? Take a gander at the new catalog and order quickly, for the markup at is already 100% of table cost.

In other news, our little Island spat over the cinema Multiplex has hit the courts and the Press in a big way for we now get reports over the wire hourly now about the flack on our little island. The latest came from generic newsreel Earthlink about a lawsuit to halt the illegal build of the garage attached. All of the Cineplex plan was rushed through without environmental studies or proper public input as required by law.

As for the rest, see below.


With a $53,000 state grant, the city will install six pole-mounted radar speed signs along Lincoln Avenue and Otis Drive by the end of the year.

The feedback signs are intended to raise drivers' awareness of their speed by showing the posted speed limit on those streets — usually 25 mph — and the speed of oncoming vehicles.

Four signs will be installed along Lincoln Avenue between Ninth and Benton streets for eastbound traffic and Stanton and Walnut streets for westbound traffic. The two other signs will be placed along Otis Drive eastbound near Rittler Park and westbound near Rock Isle.

It should be noted that from the behavior of people in the area in recent weeks it appears clear that the semiannual meeting of the Directionally Confused and Traffic Enfeebled appears to be in progress. This meeting typically extends over several months and several locations as the participants never can be brought to one location at one time. This year, Officer O'Madhauen will contribute to this year's theme of "The Stealth Turn Maneuver" by bringing a steering column from a useless Ford Expedition to several locations so as to demonstrate the seemingly optional use of the turn signal lever.

This is the purpose of that thing that sticks out from your steering column and why you should use it.

Educating drivers is part of the city's Public Works Department traffic-calming program, which added speed lumps, yield signs, unreasonably attentive enforcement of minor, vague, and obscure traffic statues, as well as curb extensions to Island streets in the past two years.

Last week someone was arrested for driving erratically and without a headlight -- on a bicycle.

This is the Island. If you drive, be afraid. Be very afraid.


Long time readers know that this space devotes a portion of its income to the Langalist, which is a professional IT newsletter primarily devoted to serving the computer-using public. We, however, understand that most of the world is not so privileged to enjoy regular electricity, let alone a personal computer in the household. Fred Langa, who should surely be sainted before any other nonsensical alternative who has done nothing in reality to benefit mankind, has devoted portions of the income from his newsletter to solidly benefit children in the Third World. Since Fred has an international subscriber base in excess of 500,000 persons, his contribution is not inconsiderable.

Herewith we excerpt an heart-lifting portion of the latest Langalist.

"Two disastrous hurricanes in the US, another in Central America, an earthquake in Pakistan.... Even here in New Hampshire, parts of my state got over a foot (30cm) of rain in just a few hours from the remnants of tropical storm Tammy. Channeled by some wrinkled topography, the waters tore up local towns, roads, and lives. ( )

If you've been reading the Langalist for a while, you know that one of its themes is "giving back." After all, those of us with computers and Internet access are vastly better off than most of the world's population. In this vein, a portion of the Plus! Edition's subscription fees is donated to registered/legitimate charities helping the underprivileged and unfortunate around the world. The contribution does not increase the cost of a Plus! subscription in any way; the donation is taken "off the top" of any profits. (This is described in the pages at )

So, in light of all the disasters occurring, we've made recent contributions to assist the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This week, we made two more: one to help in Central America with the flooding caused by Hurricane Stan; and another to help the victims of the devastating Pakistani earthquake. (On my own, I've also contributed to the local relief efforts here in New Hampshire.)

Collectively, LangaList contributions also are providing ongoing support--- week in, week out--- for 13 kids around the world, and we've also given special, extra donations in the past to help with various other disasters, both natural and man-made. (To see all the donations so far, click to )

Together, through the LangaList Plus!, we can help to "give back" a little to those less fortunate that we. Thanks to all who have subscribed, and made these donations possible!"

(Want to join? By subscribing to the LangaList Plus!, you can help yourself--- and others, too! )

Its nice to know that in this savage and atavistic age of Me First with my SUV, there are people who care enough to make a difference. I hereby present Fred Langa for Sainthood. All other presentations appear severely wanting. Especially in the area of miraculous efficacy.


As you know from the above that we have a lot to do with the daily IT functions of several large companies scattered about the Bay Area. That means we have our finger on the pulse regarding current computer concerns. Recently the disquieting info came over the wire regarding personal and business security . . . .

"Two seemingly disparate events happened this week, but in the end you may find they have more in common than you'd think. To
start with, this week, CNET asked itself in an article on their website if the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity
functions are in danger of becoming another FEMA disaster, meaning reacting sluggishly to a cyber threat.

Well folks, of course! Do we expect this vast bureaucracy run by a former lawyer to protect us from a national cybersecurity threat? Hah! We're on our own. We're each going to have to take responsibility for our own security and in that way help the national cybersecurity.
And this brings me to subject number two: How is Redmond going to help with this?

Not a lot, actually it looks like they are not helping at all. An essential part of national security is a healthy ecosystem of security
software developers. . . ."

As a side item, we note that in a recent report on NPR, a Pakistani official indicated that :'"Katrina Effect" has now entered into common parlance and general usage as a term to refer to "general governmental incapacity and inefficacy in the fact of urgent need."

Oh dear, how the USA now contributes to the world is now seen in terms of bumbling?


This year the annual Bridge School Benefit hits the Shoreline for two nights running with a CSNY lineup heading both days and Dave Matthews chipping in with a galaxy of stars. Report has it that even the year when it poured down rain, attendees had a grand time sledding in mud down the bowl-glade to the sounds of the finest musicians assembled to date.

This tends to argue itself as the premier cultural event in the Bay Area with the world's foremost talents all congregating at the behest of Peggy and Neal Young to perform on behalf of the Bridge School. We would argue that this is the one event held in a "amphitheater" venue to which you could possibly make an exception, for not even the Rolling Stones coming in November will present such variety and collective excitement.

And furthermore, the tickeprice is not nearly the gouging price of well over $100 of a Rolling Stones Concert.

You have nothing to lose but your blues.


Got Mike Powers and the Sunday Night Jam going on. Remember when Gomez played the Oaktown Art and Soul when it was free. Getting all sorts of static over the radio these days, with High Signs and Taro Cards indicating Subterfuge, Deception, and Betrayal in the House of Cards. Makes one hesitate to travel it does.

Well, its been a quiet week on the Island. The heliotrope bent over with the overnight rains that drenched us midweek and the delphiniums have begun erupting with uncommon vigor. Everyone is talking about the late tomatoes while the zucchinis have done their worst this year. Went out with twine and scissors and did our best to mend the jasmine and deal with the delphiniums, but had to rely our our neighbor, Karen of the South, to handle much of the exotic greens. Karen has this long-drawling accent that reminds you of excessively humid weather, dikes, and burgeoning vegetation in some primeval condition. We are sure she has wrassled an alligator or two in her time; such behavior is not unknown among para- and pre-legals.

John, from across the way, has taken on his new position as Machine Operator down at the Davis Street dump. He wears a new uniform and appears all the better for having arisen in the world from Collector to Machine Operator. Well, some people are just lucky in this new market-driven world and their lots improve with effort. You may shift from here to the fiction section so as to read about some of the daily activities now attributed to our John.

Otherwise, everyone appears happy and healthy in this part of the woods, although other parts of the country seem to be worse for the wear. Hear they have downpours in New England and Republicans in the Southeast, both evil eruptions indicative of deeper corruption within the state.

Well, how do you enjoy your global warming now, duuuuude?

Observe that the ground squirrels are getting rather plump and the Canadian geese appear to have departed for some place where the women wear nothing but a bit of laundry line about their loins and naught else.

Well that is about as good a reason to head south as anything else.

Understand our sister City, Lake Woebegone, is powdered deep in drifts of more than six feet or so. And Bloom County has yet to endure the onslaught of snow and leaf blowers, but is just about to do just that.

Here on the Island, we have our fog and our scattered cloud. The other night the rain came slamming in with unexpected force. And the full moon hangs high tonight over the Old Man out back. Yet Stray Jack, our feral House Pet, came as usual to sit underneath the stool on the edge of the garden to await his supper. Here comes the wail of the midnight trains from across the water in Jack London Square. Every night they come rolling through, the harbingers of industry, of travel to unknown destination, of life's mystery, their sound ululating across the miles between here and there.

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

OCTOBER 9, 2005


We've all slid by magic into October after a series of disasters but the Bay Area Music Scene continues strong. Yoshi's keeps the flame of jazz alive with the Scott Amendola Band and the upcoming Rova Saxophone Quartet on the 17th, while the Stork Club continues to present the cutting edge in Weird at its new location at 2330 T'graph -- still in Oakland. Heard Burning Spear is performing hereabouts: no my friend, you are not alone. Let the Message go out.

Devo returns to life at the Oakland Paramount Theatre on the 8th, which appears to be tonight. Well, we are not men, we are Devo.

Note that Tommy Castro is playing out at a new venue called The Bourbon Street Bar and Grill, located on 2765 Clayton Road on the 15th.

Green Day comes to rock the Warfield on the 13th and Santana will enchant the Chronicle Pavilion with Robert Randolph on the 16th.

The Big Venues have their Obviousness in Obvious Music in your face. The Rolling Stones are sold out already at the Coliseum and even if they are not, who cares? The Shoreline is hosting the Dave Mathews Band, one band for whom we could conceivably make an exception on gouging prices and foolish crowds -- but we will not. Also at the Shoreline is the annual Bridge School Benefit run by Peggy Young, and this year featuring CSNY in full regalia and drug-free certification, Dave Matthews, and many other luminaries. When old Neal calls and asks, "Come to my show", few can resist and the annual events have typically featured the best and the brightest in support of the Bridge School, which caters to severely handicapped students, among which a couple of Neal's own kids are alums.

Even in years when rain poured down, fans had a great time out there at the open amphitheater. Attendees reported belly-sliding in mud-soaked glee down the bowl surrounding the stage.

The Paramount has some unadvertised shows that appear to be blockbusters worth checking out.

And it all is leading up to the biggest party in the Americas, for the Bay Area celebrates October 31 like no other country on earth.

What is it about October 31st here that creates such a vast vortex of energy? There is the regression to childhood of course in the Halloween celebration, as well as the joyous mix of autumnal rituals for those who have children to enjoy their own particular delights in candy and costume, and there is the fully adult participation in fantasy of another order with incredibly complex costumes of another order entirely. It is Celtic Samhain, pre-Xian Wicca, the age-old harvest time and the wonderfully sinful Hooker's Ball of Babylon as well as the Abolafia circus of sin called the Exotic Erotic Ball.

Well, maybe in this world of cares, its just a world of honest fun. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.


Went on down with Strange DeJim, who managed to escape the House because the Missus still had not glommed on to his escapades of the previous week, for the citizenry were either too embarrassed to repeat the tales of his iniquity or were too embedded in sins of their own to care, to view the annual Antique Car Show on the Island.

DeJim and I strolled the aisles of Fords and Coupes and DeLoreans arrayed all along Park Street for about one and a half miles while truly atrocious music blared over loudspeakers from soulless DJ kiosks. DeJim fondly recalled his first truck, a 1953 Ford that he punished for some 400,000 miles from the Bay Area to Mexico and back. Back then, the air conditioning consisted of a barrel mounted on the passenger side to catch and shunt air from the front into the cab. And drive-in service included a metal tray with waitress attending.

No Main Street car show hosted in Smalltown USA would be complete without its very own Elvis Impersonator.

This one appeared to be more of the Elvis during his Latter Years Period.

And for those who wanted to revisit there younger years, there was a vehical for every age.

Soon enough we encountered the shining light of the show, which could be none other than Percy Worthington-Boughzplatt with his 1937 two-toned Mandelbrot-Coupe. Percy was resplendent in beige plus-fours suit and wingtips, while his equally clad chrome and beige leather upholstered coupe sported its spotless image with aplomb and shiny spoke wheels. As it was near enough to the close of the show, being somewhat about four, Percy revved up the old engine and piled all of us in for a ride about town.

Percy was armed with a sturdy flagon of brandy and was accompanied, as delightfully as always by Esmerelda from the Barely There Explicit Players of Berkeley as related some years previously. Esmerelda, not her real name, was cavorting quite in the au natural condition when Percy drove by so many years ago, and has long since acquired her degree in Foreign Relations from Berzerkeley and remediated any family difficulties.

She still affects the occasional drive clad in naught but a feather boa but has given heed to the mores of the Island by adopting a simple white shift which she discards once entering the freer environs of Berzerkeley. Today she was dressed in a flouncy flapper-dress, strings of pearls, and a hat big enough to use as a rowboat for a midget.

Percy, himself, was dressed as always in a cream suit with matching motor cap, silk shirt, plus-fours, waistcoat, and watch attached by a gold fob. His two-tone wingtips matched the paint scheme of his car. From his lips protruded an ivory cigarette holder six inches long.

Percy's car, however, is a wonder of pre-intellectual engineering. It has a chrome air-cleaner, a spiffified oil diverter, a specialized four on the floor Hijinks, and a radical Wacky Diometer for a Splittifier. There's an oiled Barnett clutch and a WackyWuckup Synch-thing which made all the teenagers of the time drool copiously. From its wire-rim wheels dappled in chrome supporting Gatsby whitewalls to its full running boards, not to mention a built-in wetbar and a fancy chrome round dingus atop its snarky stick-shifter the car is a wonder of art and a monument to a time before Republicans turned wretched excess into extraordinary bad taste.

More importantly, the upholstery is beige leather and the steering wheel is also clad.

Whenever anybody wants to make a movie based on anything written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Percy gets a call.

We all climbed aboard and Esmerelda asked if she could take her clothes off, and Jim uncharacteristically said, No. We drove for miles in this stately machine, stopping for burgers at Chuck's Cable Car in the Outer Mission, where we are assured Chuck grinds his own chuck daily. We glided past Mel's Drive In and ordered an order of French Fries simply for the effect.


As everybody around here knows, this weekend kicked off the annual Fleet Week. Because of the Iraq fiasco, Fleet week had been much reduced last year and cancelled entirely the previous year while the boys all put themselves in harms way according to the orders of the Nation's Commander and Thief. This year, however the Blue Angels were back in force as the Jeremiah O'Brien sailed under the Golden Gate. Red Bull hosted the US leg of the International Air Races Championship and our resident airplane buff, Mikey, turned into a six-year old once again with his binoculars. Its a curious thing to watch a husky policeman drop about a half century off his age in minutes but he was all agog on the roof before hopping into his pickup truck to head over to the City. Ah, boys and their toys.

Other than the occasional boat collision in the Bay among the civilian Sunday Sailors there were no accidents and a fine time was had by all.


Well, its been a quiet week on the Island. Julee, our House Den-Mother, has moved out and down to the warmer and considerably more inexpensive realm of SoCal, leaving all of us bereft and sobbing in our beers. The tomatoes are still plumping and the beans appear to be fighting back for survival, but its past time to plant the fava beans. Down at the Courthouse, the Anti-Multiplex group has filed suit against the construction of the 10-screen theatre with accompanying parking monstrosity . . . excuse me, garage.

Der Gropenator, Arnold, was here in Oaktown to push for his radical Rightwing initiatives. He was not well recieved and it does appear that most of his ideas will be shot down during the very expensive and unnecessary special Election in November.

The trial of Nicholas Floyd, who crushed the skull of teen Cole Cloren with a Razor scooter two years ago has just begun. Floyd swung the scooter in both hands in an attack on the steps of Washington Elementary School, breaking Cloren's skull in five places. The teenager survived, but must walk with a cane, has trouble speaking and can read only at a first grade level. The scooter had been stolen by Floyd and two other thugs during a mugging earlier in the day. One of Floyd's companions, Robert Hoffman, is serving four years in state prison for helping Floyd escape in his SUV.

Right now the Island is quiet and nobody prowls the streets except for the baby opossum that keeps coming around to raid the garden. Haven't seen the masked bandit family for a while, but they must be out and about right now as well. DeJim's neighbor must be snug in her bed as well, unless she is watching over the four newest additions to the Island snarfing at momma's milk. Seems a feral cat wandered into her house about two weeks ago, found the old cat bed left by the recently departed from this world Angus, and delivered there a litter of fine ones right on the shelf. Astonishingly, momma allows the host to pickup and dandle the babies.

The lady had been suffering through rather acrimonious divorce proceedings and then her longtime pet ups and dies on her, but there is nothing like a passel of newborn kittens to perk anybody right up.

Well, some stories turn out all right in the end after all. And there must be something pure still left in the world as well.

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

OCTOBER 2, 2005


It's an oddly elitist-sounding title, but when SRV performed it live he would say, "This goes out to all those who are feeling pain out there for any reason whatsoever." It is a bluesy piece and remarkably emotional for a piece of music that is without words. That is what is coming over the airwaves tonight.

All over the world, things are swept into catastrophe. Reports and images continue to filter in from the Gulf Coast, yet another series of suicide bombers in the ongoing fiasco that is Iraq, West Nile disease appears on the wane and mass murder in Darfur appears on the rise. Gas prices are headed for certain insanity and the housing bubble will burst at any time soon, most likely before the Baby-Boom Generation ages into SSN-crushing retirement.

Of course, if the economy were any better than it is, and if Supply-side economics really worked, the forthcoming Baby Boomer would have no trouble at all making ends meet.

But the Economy is destined for meltdown and Supply-side Economics is a proven Crock of Poop.

Oh well.


This weekend the Barely Hardly Whatever Bluegrass music festival held forth in Babylon in the Speedway meadows, and perversely, the City held the annual Bridge to Bridge run which made any attempt to enter the City by any conventional means virtually impossible. That means, nobody at all attended either event. No damn way we could get out there but we have reports from our Resident Sybarite Neal, that the affair was a grand Love-In of the type reviled by Neo-Cons and radical neo-constructionists Baptists and therefore we endorse the whole thing wholeheartedly.

Oh yes they held the annual Bridge to Bridge run. Given the circumstances, nobody gave a good god damn, but about 10,000 people showed up for the post-run party at the beach.


The recent indictment of King Slimeball, Tom DeLay, has put many here in a merry mood. Ran a search on Google under "Tom Delay is an asshole" and returned 450,000 responses with not a single pro-Delay entry among them.

As the Missus was out of town, neighbor strange DeJim K. of Santa Clara dropped by to hoist a few in celebration at the Old Same Place around the corner. The bar was filled to capacity with Democrats and even a few Liberals among them. Off in the corner a miserable pair dressed in white shirts, ties and ceramic US flags pinned to their Brooks Brothers lapels sat and moped over glasses of Bud Lite, the only representatives of the Conservative Party to be found for miles.

Jim got started right away by putting out his cigar in the toupee of one of the Conservatives and ordering up a round of tequila, Red Tail and scotch shooters -- to take the edge off.

It wasn't long before Jim was singing a song about the Lady named Sadie while strumming a broken banjo -- which he does not know how to play. Fortunately, no one paid any attention. It was not until Jim got up upon a table and began dancing with the bar peanut dish upon his head for a hat that we began to get concerned. The Missus was due to return from her mother's on Sunday and she certainly would chuck a hella fit if she found out Jim had not been attending the Lutheran services religiously. Susan is quite a closet Lutheran and brooks no fancy dancing in her zone of control.

In any case, the Missus had been gone for about two weeks now and the entire house looked like a bachelor had been living there for years. The drapes were torn and smoke-damaged from the cigars, the floors were all gummy from spilled booze, the cat had been living next door with the nice lady in terror of returning and all the felt scarves had burrs in them from the romp with Crazy Horse strippers down at the Cove.

This much fun hasn't been had since the Great Confabulator died of Alzheimer's and everybody drank champagne.

Instead of cleaning up this mess, Jim was now down at the Old Same Place, whooping it up one last time before Love Comes to Town. In fact, Jim started singing that very same song in about three keys at one and two distinct octaves at the top of his lungs despite our protestations.

"Bug off you whippersnapper! I'll show you young punks how to pardee!"

Designated drivers for the two Conservatives came in the door at that moment and things began to get ugly. In desperation, we called our dear friend Paul in Marin to ask him what to do. Paul and Jim had been hippies together way back before people decided to do away with the 60's era entirely and started hunting hippies for sport, so you can see the two go back a ways.

Paul said the only thing to do was to fetch a reminder of truly terrible times, which might put Jim in such a funk that he could be packed sobbing into a car and taken home. We asked him just what kind of reminder and Paul said, "Get a refrigerator coil brush. No time to explain now. We got our own party going on up here."

Well, we got a coil brush from the barkeep. Now, a refrigerator coil brush is about three feet long and looks like a device meant to frustrate Nature or be employed by a dominatrix in a Babylon dungeon, but otherwise looked fairly harmless. But sure enough, when Jim saw that thing, he just broke down so bad that the tears snuffed out his cigar and he became so amenable we were able to shovel him into the van without too much difficulty.

And that was the end of all the fun while the Missus was away.


A headless sea lion has caused our local authorities some concern since she washed up on shore recently. Otherwise, it has been quiet on the island this week. Nobody can figure out just where this sea lion came from. It appears to be a she and appears to be quite headless. Authorities speculate that she was either decapitated by propellor or taken in fish net and then dispatched as unwanted material by fishermen desiring tuna.

The entire affair smells fishy and requires, perhaps the skills of Guy Noir, Private Eye. Who even now up in the darkened office on the 19th floor of the Flathead Building is pondering the mysteries of existence.

Meanwhile there was a stormy session this week at the Town Hall Council Meeting over the new Cinema Megaplex with its attending garage. A bunch of people -- mostly Main Street business types -- want to Save the Megaplex while a very large contingent -- mostly people who live here -- want to stop the Monster from being built. This thing is provoking contention and neighbor against neighbor with more acrimony than a Baptist fundraiser for Lydie Johnson, the Abu Graib Babe.

It is not true that Hustler has offered the lady a substantial amount of money to pose nude, for even Hustler has moral principles above those of the Neo-Con Republican Party.

Meanwhile we note the visiting Canadian Geese are forming squadrons again while the ground squirrels hereabouts are packing it all away for a long sleep. The morning fog hangs on until noon these days and the last tomatos are falling off the withered vines. It does appear that something is happening. Change is all in the air.

Got some great new designs for the T-shirt table. Gal dropped by with her mother and bought two of them, exclaiming, "I'm going to wear this to school tomorrow!"

The shirt she chose?

We suggested she tuck an extra shirt into her backpack. Just in case. We should know by next week how it all came out at Encinal High.

In any case, dead sea lions, Megaplexes, fog and ground squirrels. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2005


The Island and East Bay in general continued indefatigable hurricane relief efforts to help overcome federal lapses in support. Local kids raised $500 to match the Bank of Alameda for the same amount by running lemonade stands and bake sales. Several local schools jumped on the bandwagon with "backpack collections" which collected six carloads of backpacks stuffed with relief items for displaced persons. The Island High School is still accepting these kinds of donations at 2437 Eagle Ave. until September 29.

Natasha Miller held a fundraiser concert this Sunday evening at Spotlight on the Square, and an impromptu potluck fundraiser was held at McRath's Pub on Saturday with four bands from four PM to midnight.

Also Sunday, the Central Alameda Neighborhood Association held a community fund raiser with Barbara Dane -- one praised by Time Magazine.

This Tuesday, the College of Alameda will sponsor an on-campus event featuring performances from local hip-hop artists, dance troupes, food sales, and speeches from first-line volunteers returning from stints in New Orleans.

A special Alamedans for Katrina Relief will hold an exclusive event benefiting the Red Cross on October 7th at the Grand View Pavilion on 300 Island Drive. This $100 event will be limited to the first 500 checks received and will feature entertainment, cocktails and hors d'oevres.

Also on the front page of local papers are reports detailing the extent of preparedness for the near certain inevitability of the Big One. Pointedly, many of the inquiries needed to address the needs of low-income families. The regional and federal failure to provide reasonable evacuation plans in Louisiana -- or even to take into account the lower income strata entirely -- has led to widespread repercussions in local planning.

Also pointedly is the repetition of the sentiment, "leaders don't want to see a local repeat of what happened in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina . . .".


That was a 3.2 that jolted the Island about 2:00 am Sunday morning, with the epicenter in Piedmont. Did we feel it? Yes we did, for we were still awake after McGrath's, as reported below. It began with a sound like that of a train approaching an old style wooden train station platform with the same sensation of an increasing vibration coming up through the feet, lasting about five to eight seconds. But there was a sudden BANG! which some experienced as the windows slamming closed as if by poltergeist. Then all was still all again, but with Dr. Friederich looking up at us with wide yellow eyes from the foot of the bed. Soon enough he clambered up again and snuggled down with gentle purrs and all was still until morning.


It occurs to us the mysterious behavior of Americans has largely to do with the heavily censored news outlets and limited news flow provided by its handlers. Hence we return to our original task and role as News critique and analysis organ. Herewith we present the weeks headlines from four of the major non-American news outlets.

Le Monde

Opérations en Cisjordanie et à Gaza,
Ariel Sharon menace les terroristes

(Military operations in Gaza and West Bank . . .)
The story reports on Israel conducting antiterrorist activities within the disputed territories. The story suggests that the recent actions by Sharon have the terroists on the run/

Tony Blair dément avoir fixé une date de retrait des troupes britanniques en Irak
Le premier ministre britannique a reconnu dimanche qu'il n'avait pas anticipé la "férocité" de l'insurrection, tout en assurant n'avoir pas fixé de date précise pour un retrait.

(This concerns England and Blair's public decision to keep troops in Irak, and appears a response to increasing pressure for withdrawal. For the first time, opponents of the Irak war are calling for a timetable for withdrawal with fixed dates.)

Les faits Attentats-suicides à Bagdad et à Hilla
The daily attacks against the Occupation are reported here with the latest suicide bombing described in detail.

Les faits Les pacifistes contre la guerre mobilisent à Washington ou à Londres, mais pas à Paris
Here the article describes the anti-war protests in DC and London with a noted lack of attention in France.

Le cyclone Rita a balayé le sud des Etats-Unis sans faire de dégâts majeurs

All of the European organs have reported on the American disaster in the South and none of them are minimalizing any aspect.

Perspective Ouragans et guerre en Irak : George Bush en difficulté
A thought-piece remarks on the difficuties of Bush with respect to Irak and how the failures have caused problems to the Presidency.

Reportage Sous un ciel noir, Houston a été désertée
This is a mood piece on the evacuation of the Hurricane zone.



The Death of German Conservatism
By Charles Hawley

Amid the post-election noise in Germany, one salient fact has been getting little play. German voters don't trust political parties to the right of the center. It's been a long time coming, but its time to write the obituary of German conservatism. . . .
( the byline says it all)

Schröder will die Große Koalition
Forum: Gerhard Schröder hat sich entschieden: Er werde alles dafür tun, dass ein Bündnis zwischen Union und SPD zustande komme, sagte der Kanzler der
This article presents GS as a battle-hardened veteran of the political wars who is fighting for his political life and seems slated to win over the recent victor, Merkel. The main thrust is that GS is a man willing to engage in complex machiavellian unities, while his opponent lacks the experience to overcome recent setbacks. Recently, the Greens closed the door on a possible coalition with the conservative party.

ARD. Alle anderen Koalitionsoptionen scheinen damit vom Tisch. Ob Schröder sich selbst zur Verhandlungsmasse zählt, ist weiter unklar. mehr...
· Merkels Niederlage: Weil sie kein Mädchen ist
- This article is the most interesting, as it suggests that the recent "victory" as reported by the American Conservative Press, was phyrric at best, with barely 30% of the national vote gathered by Merkel. This is so far below the anticipated 50% that many are talking about the termination of Merkel's future, while the American press is calling this a "Conservative victory".

· Bundeskanzler: Schröders Putsch gegen die Wirklichkeit - It should not be forgotten that Shroeder has run into political difficulties recently. This article claims to state that Shroeder is fighting against reality.

· Kanzlerschaft: Schröder ringt um seine Macht
This article seems to suggest that Schroeder is collecting his forces for a massive counterattack against a weakened enemy - or to defend his political career.

Irak-Krieg: Massenproteste gegen Bush und Blair
Hunderttausende Menschen haben in den USA und Großbritannien gegen die Stationierung der alliierten Truppen im Irak demonstriert. Die britische Regierung plant laut einem Zeitungsbericht, ihre Truppen von dort abzuziehen. mehr...
...In San Francisco an der US-Westküste folgten nach Zählung der Organisatoren etwa 250.000 Menschen den Protestaufrufen der Gruppen Act Now to Stop War und End Racism. Die Polizei kam bei ihrer Schätzung auf etwa die Hälfte. Weitere Proteste waren in Seattle und Los Angeles geplant.

This article reports on the mass-protests against Bush and Blair in Washington and London. The numbers reported are well into the hundred thousands.


Dropped in to McGraths Friday night to join a packed house and hear our local faves, Houston Jones who are now touring to promote their newest CD, "Three Crow Town". Well, well, well, seems our boys have gone uptown with a full-fledged touring bus and all the works after capturing Best of the Bands at the massive Strawberry Festival up in the hill country. Accolades are pouring in from all the serious critics and it will not be long before our little group has outgrown the $5 a night gigs on our modest Island.

They've moved from doing innovative covers to performing their own material almost exclusively, but still punch out some ripping "high octane Americana", gospel, roots rock and country, all seasoned with their own distinctive style as cooked up with Glenn "Houston" Pomianek on lead guitar and Travis Jones on rhythm guitar and vocals. Their latest CD features more of the quieter side of this sometimes rambunctious band, but there are still some tasty instrumentals written and largely powerhoused by Pomianek who sounds at times like he is channeling Django Reinhardt, especially on the "Toccata in Swing". Chojo Jacques assisted with production of the CD and his wonderful mandolin and fiddle fill out the sound on the CD. He was also present Friday night along with a keyboardist.

And yes, Travis still sings the true story, "Joanie, the Jehovahs Witness Stripper."

Given the current taste for the developing genre of "Americana Roots" music in the aging and largely Caucasian population that appears to be discovering it has a culture worth examining after all, bands like Houston Jones stand to do very well. Bordering Country music, but without any of Nashville's present and past affectations or narrow attitudes, Houston Jones manages to gather together Irish folk songs, ballads, gypsy music, roots rock, Little Feat, gospel tunes, bawdy chanties, and whatever happens to have been lying around in the dust bins of memory, to inject everything with vigorous flatpicking and howling, sighing, crying, snarling, soothing vocals. And when Chojo pulls out his mandolin, amazing things happen. Friday night, he used a glass slide and a bit of wah from the amp to create some really mesmerizing stuff. It is almost impossible to come up with a vocabulary to describe what these guys do, as it appears nobody else does it quite the same way, from Glenn playing guitars left-handed and strung "upside down" to Chojo using a glass slide on an electric mandolin and ripping out long, wonderful multi-octave solos. It shouldn't be possible, but it is.

All we can say is, go see and hear them for yourselves.


Well, it was quite a weekend throughout the Bay Area, with the SF Blues Festival filling the Fort Mason Meadow with a few thousand people, the Folsom Street Fair tugging in a few tens of thousands more to gawk at the bare-bottom leather "daddies" and boa-bedecked "trannies", and yet another hundred thousand souls protesting the Irak Fiasco after the Love Parade sent several thousand more waltzing down Market Street. People who needed to drive crosstown simply couldn't according to report, and simply parked wherever they wound up to walk back home.

Evening did not bring respite for the Raiders played one stadium while local East Bay boys, Green Day packed another stadium even as the A's tromped their opponents in the only stadium left. Not to be outdone, the Greek Theatre held a Jerry Garcia Commemoration hosted by Warren Haynes and other luminaries. Report has it that Huey Lewis did quite a romp with the piano with Warren on guitar.

Come Monday, everybody is going to be talking about what they did or sleeping in and reporting to work late.

In local news, the pro-cinema multiplex folks are getting nervous about all the animosity against the 350 car parking structure to dominate our miniscule downtown and are hoping to pack the next town hall meeting with supporters. The last few meetings have been shouting matches dominated by an overwhelmingly large anti-cinema expansion crowd. For those of you just tuning in, the Island is -- as its name would suggest -- a real island with tenuous access to the mainland. Despite this fact a group of people got together to restore a 1920's art deco theatre, called The Paramount, which has sat vacant for years on Park Street. But far from restoring it to a single screen venue -- as it once was -- they want to expand the moviehouse into a seven screen building with a 1,300 seat capacity and then tack on a parking garage to hold 350 cars. This garage, if built, will stand six stories and easily be the largest structure on the island, and certainly so on Park street where the tallest building presently is the three story Bank of America.

Some people are a bit upset about these plans.

In the meantime, we have a committee -- Every small town needs a Committee or two or three -- trying to bring the film industry in to take advantage of our quaint, small town, turn of the last century atmosphere.

Here come the midnight trains echoing across the estuary from Jack London Square. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2005


A man robbed the Burger King on Webster around 4:00 PM last Sunday by threatening to shoot the cashier in the face, although no weapon was displayed. An undisclosed amount of cash from the register was handed over. The robber demanded that all the other registers also be opened, but the employee did not have the manager's key to activate the other machines.

As no traffic ordinances were violated during the event, the perpetrator got clean away.


Local scene filming has ended for the movie called "Valley of the Heart's Delight" for which the Island provided several scene backdrops, including the High Street Bridge, which will double as a portion of the old San Mateo Bridge during a critical murder scene. The story, written by co-producer and screenwriter John "Miles" Murphy, is based on the true events that unfolded November 26, 1933. That night a mob, estimated at well over 10,000 persons, stormed the Santa Clara County jail in San Jose so as to extract John Holmes and Thomas Thurmond -- accused of kidnapping and killing Brooke Hart, the scion of a family owning a chain of prosperous department stores in the Valley. The men were taken to nearby St. James Park and hanged from two trees in the last old west-style lynching in the Bay Area.

Royce Brier, a reporter for the Chronicle, wrote up the personal eyewitness account, provoking local and national outrage and specific condemnation from then President FDR.

The film stars Gabriel Mann as a loose correlative for Brier along with Bruce McGill, Pete Postlethwaite, Tom Bower and DIana Scarwid.


In the wake of recent losses its hardly necessary to stack on a few more reasons to grieve. We note that the elder Marsalis, great paterfamilias of the extraordinary Marsalis family of jazz musicians remains missing in New Orleans after the Katrina hurricane. But we also note that R.L. Burnside has passed away at 78 years young, last of the great hill country bluesmen. Born in the Mississippi delta town of Harmontown in 1925, he worked most of his life as a sharecropper and fisherman, and served six months in jail after shooting a man to death Burnside claimed was trying to turn him out of his home. He did not take up music as a profession until age 65, but once did so, he inspired several generations of musicians with his spare style.


There must be something in the air. Oaktown recently passed legislation limiting pet ownership to no more than three dogs per person. Also attached was a rider prohibiting ownership of roosters.


A quick check around the Bay shows that the Island has a limit on six live chickens per person, but says nothing about roosters. The County, on the other hand, specifically prohibits fowl ownership from Oaktown out to Livermore and the once rural communities of Dublin and Sunol, leading, one would think, to many hours of expensive arbitration -- should any fool try to enforce such an ordinance. One can just imagine some fellow coming into Superior Court with papers claiming that what had been taken for a chicken was in fact a rare breed of feathered daschund.

Sacramento, one assumes already possessed of a surplus of birdbrains, specifically forbids roosters of any stripe while saying nothing about chickens while Fremont follows the six chicken rule and no roosters, apparently convinced that with no roosters about the numbers of those bothersome chickens will slowly decline by age and natural attrition. It does appear that a definite gender bias exists.

The legal ramifications of this confusion are staggering. What if a rooster should happen to fall into one's lap? Is the offender to be frog-marched to the county line? Or to Col. Sanders?

There is no word from Richard Winnie's Office of County Counsel on the finer points of law here.


Well with all the misery going on right now its hard to keep one's bearings. We got sideshow people crashing out of control and getting chased by the cops, we got drugs tearing down the youth and we got hurricanes wiping out entire cities with nobody there to rescue the drowning people because there aint no more money to cover expenses and all the good help run off to kill people in foreign wars nobody can figure the reason for. They are crashing airplanes into buildings, the children are killing each other with guns and the polar ice caps are melting while half the country hates the other half with a passion. Seems things just keep getting worse day by day in every conceivable way.

Well enough of that; come on down off of that cross -- we can use the wood.

Look at that man BB King, celebrating his 80th birthday this week and going vigorous, unstoppable and strong with a brand new CD out this month. Heard him tonight on the radio, saying, "Man I am 80 years old and this is the only life I got. I am going to do all I can and everything I can because afterwards there aint nothing. This is it!"

Went out to the Strand for a walk under a nearly full moon beside the Bay with the jeweler's case of lights shining from across the water from Babylon. Was looking maybe for a visit from the ghosts of Oog and Aag, the original progenitures of the Bay Area, but they had other business this evening. There was only the salt spray of air and the sand and the lapping waves with the City far distant. There was only this moment and that moment. That is all. No special insights or revelations, just that moment of quiet along a dark island beach.

Some people would light a cigarette or take drugs to heighten the awareness or something, but there is no need for that. It is what it is.

There's a lot of chaos going on right now in our little community. Some of us are gone to far off places to handle the last rites. Others are going through the tortuous process of terminating relationships. You know: It's that time when we must finally close the book on a particular life that has given us life for quite a long time.

These changes always seem to come about the turn of the year when leaves in some parts of the country begin changing color.

But right now the boundless sands stretch far away and the stars shine down pretty much as they always have.

Well, we should say that if you plan on living to 80 years old, like BB King, or especially if you do not, best thing to do is jump a little and dance a little and make do. Fais doo doo, if you would like a New Orleans phrase here. What else is there to do? Recall John Lee Hooker saying to somebody surprised at finding the octogenarian out in a bar one night, "Heck, I am the same as you. Don't want to sit at home in the dark bein' old. That's no life. Want to get out and be with people, have a beer, and listen to some down home blues."

Enough of that. Back in the snug cubicle now and listening to the SNJ playing an extended jam of "Mystery Train" with Merle Saunders. Getting time for that midnight train to come through the Port. And now this moment is given all to the waiting for that sound to come waililng across the water. Tried to interview a few ground squirrels while we were down there but they were all about storing up nuts and such for the Great Hibernation. Yes, the Island squirrels do hibernate, although we have no snow or extremes of weather such as other places. Perhaps the practice is mere prudence. Sort of setting by a tradition in the event of a new ice age.

The fogs are still steaming over the hills but the corn has all been harvested early this year all over the place. The zucchinis have done about as much damage as they are going to do in the garden, although yellow explosions of flower still appear, and the sweetpeas are all ablaze. Seems a change in weather is in the offing. The afternoons are bright and sunny, but these mornings have certainly been overcast. Its hard to put your finger on it but it does seem like something is about to happen. A wind is getting ready to come down from the north.

All over the country, but especially here and New York, benefits are going on to succor the Gulf Coast and that city beloved to us here in the East Bay, New Orleans. Upcoming we have the SF Blues Festival, and the Garcia Memorial at the Greek to feature dozens of performers, but please take some time and resources to attend any number of benefits taking place in your town. This weekend they just held one orchestrated largely by the Marsalis family at the Lincoln Center, but it will take a lot more than a handful of benefits to rebuild an entire metropolitan area. For that we need action at the level of several billion dollars and for that to happen we need to shunt the present ideology of the government from laissez faire back to something like New Deal. Its obvious the alternative has failed badly.


It's been a quiet week on the Island. The Old Man in back of the House has a more pronounced lean -- fortunately away from the House roof -- and a lot more dead branches jutting from his 150 year-old frame. The hydrangea has sent out another cluster of purple blooms. BB King is roaring through his 80th on the stereo, but about this time we turn down the volume and let the sounds of the night filter through. A baby opossum has been nosing about recently, looking at the corn and the zucchini plants. The local masked bandit family has also been roaming through, looking for half-empty cat dishes.

These visits usually take place well past the witching hour.

Wait a bit and there she comes, blowing across the flatlands of sedge and grass: the sound of the midnight train echoing across the estuary from Jack London Square, a place we have yet to describe.

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

SEPTEMBER 11, 2005


It was a bittersweet welcome home this time after nearly two weeks of total media isolation in the mountain wildernesses of the Sierra, for the world -- which had not deviated substantially from its predictable path of self-injury provided only a hint of what was to pass as we went up and in to the land of snow and arctic tundra. Anxious weather scans showed only a strong tropical storm headed for the Caribbean Saturday evening.

On coming out, we discover New Orleans, Biloxi, and dozens of other towns along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama has been entirely destroyed in the Nation's worst natural disaster in its 400 years.

Chief Justice Rehnquist died in the meantime, giving the Neo-Con Right Wingers another chance to make hay over yet another disaster.

It was enough to make us want to scamper back up into the hills.

Beautiful, lovable, violent, irascible, smelly, flamboyant, chiseling, elegant, decadent, dirt poor, musical, wealthy, and incomparable New Orleans, one of the Five Great Cities of the World, was suddenly just gone.

Not all the gris gris and voodoo in all the bayous could withstand the certain inevitability of a Category 4 hurricane, and so Papa Satan smote the City of Magic and opulent Mardi Gras gowns with unspeakable ferocity as if to smash all its love of vibrancy and color and life to smithereens, for Papa Satan loves not vivacity nor joy and his cloven hooves smash everything artistic and beautiful wherever he dances his whirlwind unharmonic dance.

As we in California well know. But we do not stop to curse the Devil as we know he appears here, there everywhere in a hundred thousand forms: sometimes in the form of raging fire, sometimes cloaked in the subtle gray mantle of the dour bureaucrat insisting on the proper submission to forms, and sometimes in the shape of the false prophet who twists words into devious phrases that have long since lost all original sense -- "Mission Accomplished.", "Operation Enduring Freedom", "We will prevail", "Support the Troops."

Long practiced, unfortunately, with disaster, we make our lives the answer and we refuse to back down from the practice of joy. As well as active support for anyone with their backs against the wall.

In LA, several hundred efforts are underway, including one effort spontaneously started by two guys over a beer, which wound up collecting several tons of medical and food supplies to be shipped to the disaster area.

San Diego is taking some four thousand evacuees from the New Orleans area, while SF has already absorbed about 400 families.

KFOG, the largest local mixed pop/rock radio station at 104.5 on the FM dial, had listeners directed to a Red Cross hyperlink on their website which has gathered some $150,000 to date for relief efforts.

Here on the Island, several relief efforts are underway. Several thousand volunteers have checked in with the Red Cross in Oaktown and several of our own people have already been sent to New Orleans. All of the local churches -- and we do have a lot of churches -- have established collection plates for this Sunday. Local jazz chanteuse and song writer Natasha Miller is donating all proceeds from her latest CD to the Red Cross and is organizing a benefit on the 25th to be held at Spotlight on the Square.

In the House, personal tragedies have called two of us away for the somber Last Rites this week, but we have our House Manager Mike on line as volunteer for the Coast Guard.

Island-Life Staffer, Sharon, is a certified Nurse Practitioner in mental health and has volunteered for psychiatric counseling to displaced survivors.

We have not been back long enough to tap into all that is going on, but we will be sure to keep you posted with our mite of news as it relates to the East Bay and New Orleans.

Oakland was settled substantially by people from Mississippi and Louisiana during the Forties when demand for shipyard labor was extremely high, so there are many ties back to that part of the country here.


The High Street Bridge was closed Friday to Saturday for filming of "The Valley of Heart's Delight", a movie about a botched 1933 kidnapping that took place in San Jose. Shooting also took place on Webster Street at Albert's Restaurant. The Island, with its preserved art deco facades and sense of times past is often selected by Location Scouts for use in commercials and films to bolster the "period feel."


It was a splendid weekend with cloud-free skies, providing good excuses to avail of the last big street faires, including the largest in the Bay Area, The Solano Stroll, which celebrates its 31st year as host to hundreds of musicians scattered along 1.5 miles of Solano Avenue among delightful kiosks and shops that easily go far beyond any other street offering anyplace else. This year more than 250,000 people attended the faire to listen to Cajun, bluegrass, jazz, taiko drumming and a welter of other styles while sampling a smorgasbord of food from around the world, dropping off electronic waste and enjoying the good vibes. A nice addition was the free shuttle service provided to shunt people up and down the Ave. and to and from their cars.


The next couple of months are going to be phenomenal -- even for the Bay Area -- as the steady stream of can't miss acts come steamrollering into town, with the high points surely the already sold out Rolling Stones at Pac Bell Park, and the incomparable Dave Matthews Band at the Shoreline. Everywhere we look, however, every single venue has something hot, hot hot going on. The venerable Fillmore holds forth this season as the King with a series that just does not stop. In order we have

Social Distortion 11/9,10,13-15 --
Susan Tedeschi 11/16 Blues. How did a gal this young get a crunching voice like that?
The Meters 11/18-19 New Orleans at its best with Art Neville heading up the cast.
Micheal Franti 11/25-27 Everybody deserves music, especially world music this good.

Maceo Parker 9/24 Jazz
David Bromberg Quartet 9/25 Jazz
Steve Winwood
9/27-28 Pop with a twist.
Soulive / Ledisi 9/29 Jazz. Ledisi is positively levitational.
Richard Thompson 9/30 incomparable folk guitarist
Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon (Phish) 10/6 Kottke is an astounding guitar instrumentalist
Gillian Welch 10/7-8 Bluegrass/roots singer songwriter. Asst producer for "O Brother Wherefore Art Thou
Bob Montana Band 10/14 Unbelievably talented singer, songwriter, guitarist. blues/folk
Tower of Power 10/15 You want horns? You got em. You want funk? You got it.
Dar Williams
10/16 Folk. Lilith Faire regular.
Iron & Wine / Calexico 10/19 Consummate non-genre instrumentalists paired with Latin rock at its best.
Galactic 10/23 Alternative faves of Mike Powers on the Sunday Night Jam
Blues Traveler 11/4 Exciting harmonica with recent forays into interesting multi-instrumentalism
Liz Phair 11/18 She of "Exile on Guy Street"
Social Distortion 11/9,10,13-15 Absolutely the best of the LA punk bands. Learning how to play music didn't wreck these guys at all, but made them stand tall above the rest.
Susan Tedeschi 11/16 Blues. How did a gal this young get a crunching voice like that?
The Meters 11/18-19 New Orleans at its best with Art Neville heading up the cast.
Micheal Franti 11/25-27 Everybody deserves music, especially World Music this good.

Somebody at the Fillmore realized the roll they are on and got hundreds of multicolor poster-sized inserts
listing the lineup inserted in all of the major weeklies around the Bay. No kidding.

The Greek will host one of its last outdoor concerts with a commemoration of native-born Jerry Garcia on the 24th. Patti Smith and Warren Haynes are among the unlikely participants to this event which should prove to be highly unusual.

This weekend we were too new back in town to glom onto any of the hundreds of 911 commemorations around the bay, mostly of the antiwar peace protest variety, but we do note that a Bring 'Em Home gathering was held at the Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park, with Angela Davis as keynote speaker and featuring Michael Franti with Spearhead.

The Peanut Butter Jam festival was this weekend and we totally missed it.

Yoshis, the Independent, the Warfield, and Freight and Salvage also all are having gangbuster seasons. Hey, if you don't like the music, go out and make some of your own.


Of course it is incumbent upon the traveler upon returning to his hometown to make himself aware of what's been going on in his absence and who should be best to inform said traveller than his dearest friends, real and imaginary. It also seemed especially necessary to give ourselves and any persons in like frame of mind down in the dumps about any sort of thing to cause a frown and a few tears -- such as drowning, destruction, starvation, homelessness, hopelessness, general misery and so on inclusively but not exclusive to this list -- a general bucking up, a bit of cheer, a rousing Here! Here! and thoroughgoing exhortation to drag out a chuckle or two.

So to speak.

So it was that no sooner than we dropped our old knapsack in the foyer than we were off to the Old Same Place around the corner to restore bodily fluids and consult with dear friend Bear, who we discovered, had divested himself of the radio tracking device bound about his ankle these six months since the Valentines Day Massacree. (Curious readers may scroll down to the entries on and about February 14th).

Its been a long six months of good behavior for Bear, and we found him there at the bar with his black curls disarranged in the breeze without knowledge or hint of the comb's regimen as his tresses shadowed deeply veined and sunken eyesockets that never seemed to blink, his t-shirt oil-stained, torn and bloody, his pants equally as filthy with the cuffs a frayed above one scarlet sock upon his left foot and one blue sock upon his right although both his brogans matched in scuffs, tatters and divots, telling the tale of years and hard living in them.

In short, Bear was himself again, right as rain.

"Denby!" shouted Bear, for high volume was the most frequent mode of communication for this gentleman, "Have ya heard the news! Belzoni property values are way up all around the Big House! If I'da bought that tinkers cottage outside the gates time they let me out I'd be a rich man!"

Well we went into would of and should of to various degrees, not forgetting to mention if Bear hadn't swiped the bronze garden gnome from the garden of someone who just happened to be sheriff he would not have had to serve 30 days in Belzoni Prison with time off for Bad Behavior and Tendency to Corrupt the Inmate Populace of that venerable Institution. Heck, they couldn't get rid of him fast enough after he published the Belzoni Institute Democrat within the walls and included therein various articles on making bathtub gin as well as promotion of free suffrage and general lasciviousness. Truth was, the administration was terrified of Bear turning about 2,000 of Mississippi's most hardened criminals into freethinking Democrats along the California style and so they expelled him before his time as an Undesirable within the State's borders, promising that if he ever showed his face across the State line they would string him up with no discussion about it.

Clearly, it was entirely unreasonable that Bear would buy a cottage beside a prison in a state that did not desire him to be there and equally that Bear should ever become rich by any scheme whatsoever unless it be by the grace of a very confused and/or intoxicated god.

But we got to toasting the various cities and towns which had been hard hit by the recent disaster along the Gulf Coast and so we were in very good condition, after a few hours, to pay reportorial visits to the Bay Area's most distinguished representatives and dignitaries. To whit: State Rep. and member of the GOP, Babar, as well as Assemblyman Papoon, he of the Liberal bent, as well as the Barbara's Boxer and Lee, Senator and Representative respectively, to conclude with a visit to the President, Eugene Shrubb.

Naturally, we had to spruce up Bear a bit, so we had him put on a tie we found in the gutter outside of McGrath's Pub.

The officious persons outside the doors of Sen. Boxer's offices promptly rousted us from the lobby with the information that Boxer was not in, but in Washington D.C. and the guard did not appreciate Bear's tie nor his hat, gotten from a newspaperman's dumpster. From there, we found ourselves at Barbara's Lee's favorite haunt, which was haunted by a number of very unhumorous Secret Service Personnel who seemed to know of us and our mission, but who would not allow us to send word to the great lady. In fact, they did not appreciate our extensive line of lady-and-a-mule jokes and so they sent us packing.

We had better luck buttonholing Babar as he was buttoning his pants in the restroom of Heinolds Saloon. As a true Ultraconservative, Babar wore three pairs of pants and so this was no mean undertaking and we were delighted to encounter Hizzoner in such an establishment, for the previous two fiascoes had rendered both of us quite thirsty.

As a failed candidate in the last Presidential Election, Babar warranted no SS protection, so we had him cornered as dual constituents and members of the Free Press. And so we put it to him bluntly.

"Just what the devil is going on, in your Opinion?"

Babar sighed. He began by insisting there is no proof for Global Warming, and that even if there was, GW and all its works must be deviltry, terrorism and inimical to the best economic interests of the USA.

Secondly, we must stay the course and defeat the Terriers. Any admission of fault played into the hands of that infamous Terrier, Osama Bin Lassie. We must therefore put aside our differences by standing as one behind the President -- even if he was an imbecile led by fools, for that was the American Way.

It was lamentable that foreign policy had evolved into a shambles; it all was clearly the fault of the Germans, the Iranians and the North Koreans.

Too bad about Rehnquist, but as he had developed an unfortunate tendency toward moderate reasoning in his decline before death, it was about time for a change and fresh blood. Opportunity knocks.

Furthermore, market-driven forces would do more to revive New Orleans than any government handouts. Up by the bootstraps; American can survive anything.

Noting that Barbar had imbibed four martinis, two cosmos, innumerable Old Fashioneds, we took our leave of the only US Representative who was simultaneously a Potentate of an African country as well as a duly elected member of Congress.

Conflict of interest has never disturbed the GOP and in Babar's case, the tradition of royalty and "public service" were well met.

We next hied on over to Papoon's diggins, which were appropriately rude and unadorned as befits the sole remaining member of the Not Insane Party.

Fortunately Bear thought to pickup a bottle of Old Crow along the way.

As Papoon warmed himself with fingerless gloves and tattered overcoat over a little fire of acorns, we pressed our investigation.
Papoon stood on the liberal side of the stream during the past election, and as a Liberal, certainly got no protection whatsoever from the Administration. In fact, protesters were given detailed maps to his diggings, which resembled not a little bit like the burrows of the infamous Hobbit.

The interview with Papoon proved to be as short as it was bitter.

Global Warming caused the hurricanes that destroyed New Orleans, the war on Terror is a nonsensical distraction and total waste of money as well as media exposure and the President is a total baboon-type creature which normally would be stomped to anonymous jelly in any self-respecting State by honorable men except in Texas where rattlesnakes, coyotes, dingoes, poisonous scorpions, and wild mandrakes are allowed to roam free terrorizing the populace so as to make them tractable and amenable to hypnoautosuggestion by wild-eyed televangelists. Any dissenters are rendered into soylent green.

More Old Crow, my man?

No thanks, got my own.

Any other comments?

Rewarding continuous failure continuously seems, in retrospect, to be a bad idea.

From Papoon, we made our way through lines of barbed wire, burned out Humvees and deranged sterno bums to the HQ where we were sure to find our Commander in Chief, President of the Bums, Eugene Shrubb, whom we found in a bad way.

We mean by that, he was seriously in a bad way.

Ignoring all our questions, much as has been his wont in the past but with less humor and no self awareness, the Leader of the Free World of Bums raved and flung his arms about him histrionically. Seems the invasion of Newark had become the opposite of the light adventure Eugene has first intended.

"They did not welcome our Architecture with open arms to replace their repressive body shops and linoleum tile cum carpeterias. So we had no architects! Anything was better than what they had! We brought freedom and democracy and strip malls!"

There was more of the same, embarrassingly so. We asked about the missing WMDs and the President blew a loud and very emphatic raspberry, sometimes called "the Bronx Cheer". We asked about Osama Bin Laden, and the President feigned to not care a whit. We mentioned the rising cost of dead and wounded in Newark and the President said, "Oh Newark: I am so beyond that. Get over it people. I need to get on with my life." And here he mounted his Presidential bicycle to go for a ride in the country, accompanied by a phalanx of SS men, sure to catch him if he fell.

We never got to ask him about FEMA or Emergency Preparedness in the age of cutbacks, so we shared a bottle of bathtub gin with the local captain of the Secret Service before creeping back through the lines to the Island. This was business as usual in the New World Order made safe by Homeland Security. We dodged a hail of tracers that pocked the pavement all around us, swam across the estuary towing a raft of our belongings in our teeth and submitted to a full body search by customs on reaching shore, where we were fingerprinted, DNA tested and certified as clean of obligations for child support.

Bear had lost his keys somewhere in No Man's Land, and so entered his house in the usual way by tossing an available beer keg that happened to lay upon the lawn through his livingroom window.

Julee, our House Den Mother, kindly had left a key under the Sign of the Conch and so we crept in unannounced to fall into our bed.

All in all it was an average day on the Island and all the reporters and staff of Island-Life rested snug in their beds while overhead the eternal stars wheeled over this lunatic and globally warmed earth. The polar icecaps continue to melt and the glaciers of the world erode with no end in sight, but the people of this little island snuggle down tonight in their beds and all the evacuees from the gulf drift into the same world, unlike this one, where truth, justice, beauty and humor are the norms.

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

AUGUST 21, 2005


We were seriously remiss in forgetting the Oakland Art and Soul Festival, which typically culminates the summer with an extraordinary lineup of world-class music and which has become such a major draw that people even come across the Bay from Babylon to attend.

This year, the three day festival headlines Blues Traveler,
but the other acts promise to be hot hot hot and here is a basic selection of the Names.

Blues Stage (12th Street & Broadway) Saturday

"Louisiana in Oakland" presented by the Bay Area Blues Society
12:00 pm Henry Clemente & Gumbo Band
1:00 pm Zydeco Flames
2:00 pm Motor Dude Zydeco
3:00 pm Tom Rigney & Flambeau
4:00 pm Maria Muldaur & Her Louisana Hot Band

Sunday, September 4

14th Street Main Stage (14th & Clay Street)
World Class Rock presented by KFOG 104.5 FM/97.7 FM
12:00 pm Zachary Ross and Desolation Angels
1:15 pm Carbon Leaf
2:45 pm Aimee Mann
4:15 pm Blues Traveler

Blues Stage (12th Street & Broadway)

"Roots of Oakland Blues" presented by the Bay Area Blues Society
12:00 pm Ron Joseph & Steppin' Stone
1:00 pm Ron Thompson & The Resistors
2:00 pm Caravan of All Stars with Pork Pie Phillips, Billy Dunn, Curtis Lawson and California Blues Man
3:00 pm Sherman Robertson
4:00 pm Sonny Rhodes

Monday, September 5

14th Street Main Stage (14th & Clay Street)
Smooth Jazz presented by KBLX 102.9FM
12:00 pm Martin Luther
1:15 pm Joyce Cooling
2:45 pm George Duke
4:45 pm Roy Ayers

Tickets are just a nominal $5 and well worth the pittance as any one of these acts can command ten times the price just to perform solo.


The Island will host its own little Art in the Parks on the 28th when artisans will set up kiosks on the swards in the various small parks around here. The event tends to include a mix of good and bad, but the Island has lately taken a turn for the largely good, as decent artists flee the outrageous rent prices and obnoxious attitudes of the City for the more congenial environments here in the East Bay.

Officers again responded to trouble on Lagunaria Lane this week to apprehend someone hoarding methamphetamine and paraphernalia. This is yet another incident to take place in the troubled neighborhood on Harbor Bay Island, where a person rammed an officer with a stolen car before earning several shots in the chest from an outraged Officer O'Madhauen. Not only did the perp run down a police officer, but he struck a police cruiser and two other vehicles before slamming into a telephone pole.

This place is not supposed to be a movie set for a Steve Mcqueen film.


The Annual Meeting of the Non Compos Mentis Chapter of the Directionally Confused and Traffic Enfeebled appears to be in progress. Those of you new to this space must know that this chapter meets twice a year for its annual meeting at at least three seperate locations for the members never can be brought together in the same place at the same time with any predictable regularity. Hence the redundancy.

This year, last year's theme of the "Stealth Turn" will be repeated as -- not surprisingly -- many members could not understand the materials or get the message.

As before, Officer O'Madhauen will appear as guest speaker in as many locations as he can manage, supplied with a steering column and turn signal lever so as to demonstrate proper operation -- according to the law. And according to courtesy, should anyone be attentive.

Intricacies of the Stealth Turn with its classic turn left from the far right hand turn lane at a traffic stop will be explored in depth and with all of its clever variations. The NeoCon wing of the American Colorblind Society will offer a talk on the delights of ignoring signals of any kind in favor of personal enterprise and exclusive franchise to turn Right continuously.


Checked in to Rancho Nicasio this weekend to monitor a few old friends and hearken unto Elvin Bishop as he sounds now adays.

Bishop has been a local fixture for some thirty years, but began his career in the mid fifties playing that gol darned rock 'n roll and "race music". He has evolved into quite the consumate stage presence, still enraptured with the music that snagged his soul many years ago and is known to suddenly appear for any old session in Marin for a sit-down improv.

Also to note is that his daughter was brutally murdered by a gang of cult fanatics a couple years back. The perpetrators were only recently convicted.

His salt 'n pepper band started out with quite a tasty swamp thing filled with New Orleans rough and tumble and he kept the feeling of the Crescent City going throughout his continuous set without descending into conventional "cajun" shuffles, prefering the barrelhouse rhythms of Congo Square. He performs with two f-hole Gibson archtops, using a glass slide until that flew off into the grass, but switching without a hitch into fretted chords. His right hand technique is exclusively fingerpick with an assist from wireless transmitter. His style is remarkable in that no matter how energetic the piece, he never loses the melody during comps and so his solos tend to be brief and to the point.

Also of note is the inclusion of a more than capable keyboardist/accordion player as well as a very talented trombonist and vocalist.
Even the drummer demonstrated impressive vocal chops. All of which ads up to a package that surpasses the usual blues band repertoire.

It is quite a pleasure to watch a performer really enjoy his job and the entire entourage was clearly having the time of their lives after completing a multi-city tour in support of a new CD in this return to home turf. A neighbor indicated that Bishop lives not four miles from the venue.

Bishop is an engaging performer who has never lost sight of the old roadhouse, juke joint requirement for bands that can get the people up on their feet and his infectious enthusiams undimmed by personal tragedy was much in evidence Sunday afternoon.


This is the last Island Life issue before the Sabbatical and there will be no more until we return -- alive as supposed -- around September 11th. It's been a quiet week on the Island, with the biggest news involving the demolition of the Video Maniacs shop that lay most unfortunately in the path of the 350 car parking garage.

Got Keith Jarrett tinkling the ivories from the Koeln Concert on the stereo. It's been a more than usually draining year this time around, and we are well overdue for a mountain revival.

The corn is getting pretty high around here and the squashes are squishing out all over with yellow blossoms and swelling fruit. Something tells us that a change in the air is soon to happen. The sound of the throughpassing train in Jack London comes pounding across the water.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great two weeks. See ya when we get back.

AUGUST 14, 2005


The summer is winding up with the final shows. Stern Grove is having one of its last free concerts in the park down in the gathering fog next weekend. Luce is capitalizing on some latest spin off of its hit single "Buy a Dog" by appearing everywhere with everybody all at once. Thursday they do a freebie with Tommy Castro in San Jose at Cesar Chavez Park at 5:30 PM. They then will capture Slims on the 26th and are doing a benefit for the homeless on Saturday at noon in The City.

Yoshis hosts a solo Mark Ribot on the 15th while Larry Coryell, no slouch on jazz guitar, holds forth for two days ending August.

Monday, an enviable combo of John Hiatt with Sean Colvin will occupy the Luther Burbank Center in Sonoma. Should be a tastey evening of mixed acoustic and plugged in rock.

The Greek ends a killer season that highlighted a stellar performance by Widespread Panic with Jack Johnson's Island warmth.

Dave Matthews takes over the Big Venue at SBC Park. Sorry to see the boy get so famous he hits these massive auditoriums now. His "Old Dirt Hill" has been hitting the charts around here.

A revived Dinosaur Jr. rocks the Fillmore on the 18th, while the John Butler Trio, this years Aussie import of note, takes over the venerable stage on the 31st.

Son Volt has a new CD out and first cuts sound quite nice. That group holds the 9/9 slot. The Warfield continues its hard edged booking with Garbage on the 10th.

The usual suspects will be haunting the rougher small venues, such as Starry Plough and Freight and Salvage and Jimmy's Joynt. Since there is no more Sweetwaters in Marin, there remains Rancho Nicasio out in the farmlands. If you can find it you will find something good and rumor has it the last Sunday Picnic shows there will be block rockin' shocks.

And remember, if you don't like the music, go out and make some of your own.


Our roving correspondent - and Executive Directory of the Solano Avenue Association -- Lisa Bullwinkel, reports great success at the Opening Day for Solano Stroll, held this year at the Golden Gate Fields Turf Club. "Great Food! Great people! What a great party!" says Lisa.

A "decorated umbrella and costume" contest was held and the winners are as follows:

Solano Cleaning Center's Harry Pruyn and daughter with a giant white puffy umbrella spewing bubbles from the top & a sweet candy coated umbrella

The Mechanics Bank of Albany represented by Linda sporting a yellow raincoat beneath an umbrella draped with money, notes, and other illegal currency???

Powder Box's own Jan Snidow beneath an umbrella decorated with real hair (could some of it be yours?) hairspray painted different colors and dangling curls.

Um, this should give you some idea of the whimsy involved with these affairs. The Stroll takes place this year September 11, and tends to be, understating the event somewhat, the most astonishing, action-packed per cubic foot street event of the Bay Area, with several thousand bands performing on corners extending for some two miles along Solano Avenue and treating some one quarter of a million visitors over the course of three days with music and food and entertainment's of all kinds. We pity the soul that misses this event during their lifetime.

Come for an hour, and you will be enchanted for a lifetime.


A Dublin police officer shot and killed a knife-wielding man at an upscale home, the latest in a spate of fatal confrontations between police and suspects in the East Bay, authorities said Friday.

The most recent case happened at about 11:40 p.m. Thursday when two Dublin police officers investigating reports of a woman screaming at a home on Innisbrook Way saw Kwang Tae Lee, 61, through a window struggling with someone in an upstairs bedroom, said Sgt. Herb Walters.

"Officers repeatedly instructed the subject to drop the knife," Walters said. But Lee refused to drop it, prompting the officers to fire at him because they feared for their safety, police said.

Although wounded, Lee continued to hold the knife "in a threatening manner" and took several steps toward the officers, Walters said. The officers again fired their weapons. Lee fell to the floor and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Police found a man with serious injuries to his arm and face in the bedroom. The man, whose identity was withheld, was hospitalized. Lee and the injured man may be relatives, Walters said.

The shooting is being investigated by Dublin police and the Alameda County district attorney's office. The Alameda County Sheriff's Department provides police services for Dublin.

Sacramento attorney David P. Mastagni, who represents the Deputy Sheriffs' Association of Alameda County, and union president, Sgt. Tom Madigan, declined comment Friday, citing the investigation.

The incident is the latest fatal confrontation between police and suspects in the East Bay in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, Hayward police shot and killed a man who allegedly tried to ram them with a car. On Monday, a Vallejo man traded gunfire with police before shooting and killing himself at a local motel.

On Aug. 3, an Alameda man died at a hospital, five days after Fremont police shot him with a Taser stun gun. On Aug. 1, a Newark man was shot and killed by a California Highway Patrol officer after acting erratically on a Fremont freeway.

On July 25, a San Leandro police officer was shot and killed by a suspect who feared that the officer would discover that he was carrying two guns and drugs, authorities said. And on the Fourth of July, an Emeryville police officer shot and killed a man after the suspect pinned the officer with a stolen car.

In most cases, the suspects "upped the ante, and the officers were basically forced to use deadly force," Harry Stern, a Pleasant Hill lawyer whose firm represents officers, said Friday. Police shoot to kill as a last resort, knowing full well that their actions "will be examined by a microscope, " Stern said.

Lately it seems everyone is on edge and badly in need of anger management courses.


This E-zine (I guess we have to give it a label of some sort) has been published and updated 52 times a year ever since 1998 without exception. Except for the Sabbatical. And the time we spent in jail on Valentine's Day. Longtime readers of this space know that each year the Sabbatical occurs for two weeks around the end of August. The missing two issues appear as Special Issues later in the year.

This year, the Mountain Sabbatical takes place from August 28 - September 11. It is possible an abbreviated issue will appear on 9/11, but most likely the next full issue will be 9/18, should we return alive. There will be no Island Life published 8/29 or 9/4.

Some of you have expressed concern about lightening and avalanches of stone and ice. In response, we state the following: In event that we be rendered incapacitated and dependent upon mechanical devices for maintenance of basic life support such as breathing, eating, etc., we manifest our express desire that no member of Congress be allowed to subject us to the humiliation of public scrutiny and media coverage and that a .45 caliber firearm be kept ready so as to shoot down Tom Delay and/or any of his party should he or any member of his party attempt to capitalize upon our helplessness.

Let this be engraved upon our Stone after immolation: "God damn the Republican Party and all for which it has come to stand."

That latter statement outta do it.


Well its been a quiet week on the Island, this emerald jewel set within the azure sea. The temperatures in the Valley have been steady into the 90's as usual, but the coastal range has felt the damp fogs get chill earlier in the afternoons and hang on longer in the mornings. All the pole beans are harvested and the corn is looking a bit more respectable lately. The squashes are squishing out their orange flowers and it does look like a change in season is in the offing. Mr. Orsini next door has harvested quite a bounty of Scottish Bonnett peppers that are the envy of the neighborhood.

Year after year Mr. Orsini grows one or two things beyond a level of usual decorum for vegetables. One year he ran a particular Sicilian squash with such vigor that it crept up the side of his tool shed, eloped along the roof and sprang un-squashlike across a chasm to the second toolshed and produced such heavy fruit that handtrucks and a stepladder were required for harvesting. This year he has Scottish bonnets and a coterie of grapes that threaten us with grape bounty not seen since the miracle of the loaves and the fishes. Mr. Orsini is definitively Italian and most certainly Sicilian to boot, but cannot be confused for the Messiah in any manner whatsoever, hence some of us have demonstrated concern for the man's spiritual welfare.

Mrs. Rulpse has approached Mr. Orsini with a Bible and Lutheran intentions to remonstrate to no avail. Mr. Orsini sees no point in applying theology to vegetables and remains recondite.

Meanwhile Karen of Our House has returned with her beau from visiting the blighted parishes of the Red States and a great harvesting of turnips was observed. All of this was to the good and indicative of the changing of the seasons and perhaps a paucity of diet during her travels, for we understand the Red States to be malnourished places plagued with disease, inbreeding, poor schooling, creationism, cretinism, electoral fraud, voter intimidation and other strange ideas.

We have a new Baptist Minister in town, fresh out of Texas and sent to convert all of us to the One True God for there is No God but the One God, and no President but the One. Most of us are either atheists or members of solid congregations already, so we do not know what kind of success the man has experienced. Our resident Republicans -- we have two -- do not attend his church but remain devout Presbyterians. The man wore an American flag motiv tie and we found this disturbing on a Sunday and in California, for such a failure of dress can only be attributed to a lack of understanding regarding culture and place and weather.

And to this date neither one of the principals has responded to our entirely reasonable Mud Wrassle Match of the Century between Osama Bin Lassie and Georgie Dubya Bushy.

We feel that were the primary Terrierist and Primo Evil One Osama were to meet with Georgie, Liar and Cheat Extraordinaire, there would be a great confabulation between the Christeen Shouters and the Mussilhim Screamers such that the residuals and ad spots would be worth millions to both parties no matter who won. Heck, we all know both principals are as about as straight-shooting as a towel in a Babylon bathhouse.

We see absolutely no reason that Dubya not get nekkid, except for one of those sumo loincloths, with Osama in a mud pit except for the possible objection that neither on of them is very pretty to look at.

But then Bushy's party never had much sense of humor unless laffing at people who had less than them. That Babtist mInister sure took a turn when I held up one of our shirts which had one of the Abu Graib prisoners with electrical wires wound around his privates and which said, "NOT MY MORAL VALUES!"

Well, we have some values on this Island. We think that winding battery cables around a guy's dingus is not only against the Geneva Convention -- whatever that is -- and not only illegal, which we seldom pay attention to, but is really really sick. And that's why we don't want nothing to do with them morons. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

AUGUST 7, 2005


This Sunday marks the 60th anniversary of the atom bomb blast on Hiroshima. Up in Berkeley's Aquatic Park people floated illuminari on the lagoon there in memory of the over 140,000 people who died in that attack which helped end WWII but which also introduced the terrible specters of all-out war in which noncombatants become fair targets and the continuing threats of nuclear devastation with the potential of ending all life on the planet within a matter of hours.


A more joyful anniversary this weekend was the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act which transformed American politics with its inclusive provisions ensuring equal participation of all Americans in the electoral process. Some provisions of that Act expire in 2007, and Neo-Con groups are already planning to attack the Act's protective stipulations.

The bay area sent US Rep. Nancy Pelosi to Atlanta for commemoration marches in Atlanta.


Battled horrendous traffic to enter Babylon Saturday night there to meet with old friends not seen for approximately a quarter of a century.

In a crowded and noisy restaurant called the Blue Mermaid at Fisherman's Wharf, we faced one another catching up on times past, who married whom, who had children, who still lived and who had died over wretched salmon and a worse dungeness crab paired with a pile of basically raw cabbage dipped in vinegar.

It was not possible to really talk in that place, so we repaired to the quiet bar of the Sheraton and there the long loop of the years came unhooked from the clasps of daily life in the moment, letting out a Pandora's box of fuzzy memories. Also there was a woman who had last visited SF in the momentous year of 1967.

Those were heady years, filled with energetic and passionate abandon, and for some the times remain as recent as yesterday, with the undiminished ardor allowed by persistent contact with the past and its inhabitants living into the present.

But for some the past is a long Good-bye and life a series of explosive changes leaving little scars and heartaches better left in some locked suitcase in a foreign city. This leaves a curious possibility of return although prospects remain dim and no one wants to open up that old pain.

Names and stories unravel as each remembers his or her personal event and as these come up, the unspoken memories float to the top, to swell the heart and pulse behind the eyes with all that remains unsaid.

Marcella, who fled under the wire and through the minefields from the Iron Curtain, is married now to a Turkish man and lives near Muenster and has a child. Peter's girlfriend got deported and he now lives in San Francisco, working for the Goethe Institute. Wolfgang remains footloose and jobless, living with his physics degree on the magnanimity of his wife. His boy has just graduated from the Gymnasium. Hilde watched the troubled tutor from the German House at the College plunge from the 25th floor to her death.

Gabi, who visited here in 1967 noted the changes, the sudden bigness of the once quaint City. We strolled out along the Pier past the closed ticky tack shops and museums. From the top deck we listened to a saxophone player change the entire place into a swirl of reminiscences and ghosts.

Gabi stood and listened, wrapt in her personal recollections, removed to another place and time. Hilde leaned against the railing there, holding time like a quita rope, one of those strings that the shamans tied knots into so as to trace back the events to the first accounting.

For us, Babylon is a palimpsest City we have watched change over the decades from the intimate and irascible village it once was, through the machine gunfire of the gang warfare of the eighties, into the housing crush and bad tempers of the Reagan-Bush area and the almost unlivable state it is becoming.

Here is a memory we kept to ourselves yesterday:

Taking a walk along the river in Dublin one day long ago, we came across a low medieval building bounded by a dry moat crossed by a drawbridge and guarded by a tall portcullis of thick iron rebar. A sign over a button said, "Please ring bell."

Not wishing to be rude, we obeyed and a fellow came out asking why we had rang the bell.

Because the sign told us too, we replied.

The man, thoroughly Irish, could not resist this opportunity for conversation -- no true Irishman will let a good gab get by without a word -- although he would not raise the portcullis nor let us in. Nevertheless we stood there a long time talking. Turns out this low building, once employed by the English -- who seem to have not a jot of romance in them as a race -- as an armory, was the original Chapelizod, or Iseult's Chapel, where the Queen had been wont to stay and hard beside a little stream where she met one Tristan some time long ago.

You can go down the path there and find the very spot, the man said, but I don't think you will for you are going to continue to talk with me and then it will be too dark.

The man had been all around the world, written several books, tasted much of life and had come to light here in Chapelizod. And we talked of many things, of foreign countries and the ways of men and how it was that the deer still roamed in Deerpark and gangs terrorized the inner cities. And it is true the light began to fade as we stood upon the drawbridge there.

Then he said suddenly, "Ah yes, they are here now. I suggest you not move quickly or you will startle them."

One can only imagine the feelings one has, being in a foreign city, in the fading light of the day, shadows getting deeper and colors fading, talking to a man standing behind a portcullis which he will not raise, hearing those words.

Slowly we turned, step by step, and there they were. Immense stags with great racks of antlers exceeding eighteen points a piece and their consorts, does with their fauns, all come to spend the night down in the dry moat. In a little while we finished our talk and I went on my way.

Life and travels through a dozen countries, handfuls of lovers, blood on the sidewalk, endless rounds of screaming at the walls, sudden splintering and metal howls of automobile crashes as well as far too many funerals with more besides tend to cause the heart to drop down that portcullis and there is only so much you will let through.

But then there are always those sudden wonders, which have been continuing events all along, like those deer coming down into the moat each night for hundreds of years.

Standing up on the second deck of the Pier 39, listening to the saxman weave spells in the air with the dim towers of Grace Cathedral looming distant through the fog a great oaken door finally shut on the past, leaving a few scattered ghosts to ramble in the mists and the present day with all of its present day concerns. Will Hanover win the first game of the Bundesliga? Will the unusual rains this year replenish the snowpack in the Sierra?

There is no real reason to revive old heartaches and sometimes the portcullis stays down for a reason. And so we parted awkwardly in the lobby of the Radisson after midnight under a weight of unspoken memories. We never were very good at good-byes.

Back home with Doktor Friederich, three or four scotch and waters set things right again. And we became a new Orpheus, ascending, and not looking back.

Well I was cleaning the ash from the fire
And putting the body away
I was helping all of my lost friends
To see the light of day
I was feeling the wind thru the window
Sometimes it crashed through the wall
Seems that it comes out of nowhere
There's no warning at all

Sometimes a river, sometimes a river is high
Sometimes a river, sometimes a river is dry.

I was making my way through the movie
Finding it hard to decide
Sometimes it hits without warning
Turns me over inside.
Making a stand in the darkness
Wearing a hole in the floor
Suddenly everything changes:
You're not the same as before

Sometimes a river, sometimes a river is high
Sometimes a river, sometimes a river is dry

You danced in my dream
Wearing a white dress
I watched from the top of the stairs
I awoke and looked to find you
But you were not there.

17 hours of travel
Was never really a surprise.
The world is all heavy with traffic;
We never were good at good byes
No, we never were very good at good byes

Sometimes a river, sometimes a river must die
Sometimes a river, sometimes a river is dry.

Sometimes a river, sometimes a river is high
Sometimes a river, sometimes a river is dry.

String Cheese Incident


Well, its been a quiet week here on the Island. In the House, after Barbara moved out to explore the Big City, Toby decided to convince her fiancée to move in, not being able to bear the thought of leaving her dear friends, so Toby has moved from the first floor. This gave Toni, on the third floor, the idea of moving down to the first floor for she has gotten tired of climbing the stairs to take out the garbage. Sensing opportunity, Neal has decided to handle his own garbage problem by moving from the back apartment into the one once inhabited by the Showalters, staying on the third floor and tossing the garbage out of the window into a well-placed dumpster. Rachel, the House Dance Teacher, decided to move upstairs into Toni's old apartment, all of which has put Sarah O'Finch, the local APT representative -- we have our own power network on the Island -- into a terrible tizzy of confusion as she sorts the billing addresses out in the office. Rumor has it she keeps a bottle of Adivan labeled "St. Charles Address" by the telephone in her cubicle.

Harlan, the Madman of Lincoln Street has put out on the side of his house several signs that appeared to almost make sense, so we have not paid much attention there. We think this is just a phase for upon hearing of Israel's Minister Netayanhu tendering his resignation in protest over the Gaza withdrawal, we are convinced that Harlan will once again come forth with something truly inscrutable.

The Committee to Abolish the Multiplex convened before the City Council to protest the creation of the seven screen cinema within the art deco shell of the old Paramount. Admittedly, putting a multiplex on an Island with limited access and limited parking has some qualities which can only be described as "foolish" and "nonsensical", especially in view of the fact that five attempts to make multiscreen cinemas work here have failed abysmally.

Officer O'Madhauen has not helped by vigorously enforcing traffic laws that were enacted some time around 1865.

In the bright sunshine of Sunday noted a lone windsurfer braving the parasite-ridden shoals of The Strand. The City had to issue warnings that entering the water would lead to rashes due to a fish parasite now inhabiting the waters and so the usual kaleidoscope of colorful parachutes has been absent from the beach in recent weeks. The parasite digs into the skin, causing the rash, but soon dies outside of its salt water element.

The Italian family has finally opened its deli in the spot where the A&M coffeehouse used to be next to Paganos Hardware. The spot failed for the owners considered it far too expensive to keep coffee on hand all day long. Any time someone dropped in for cup of Java, the counter clerk would have to begin right away to brew a new pot, which often took longer than twenty minutes and the result was often more like tea than coffee as the Filipinos never quite got the hang of it. This does not make well for a successful coffeeshop.

But this week the proud Mama stood outside the newly painted deli as visitors thronged in to sample the mortadella, proscuitto, and antipasto offerings. That's my boy; oh yes. Wish them all the best.

Understand that Eugene Shrubb, President of the Bums, continues to occupy Newark with his army, notwithstanding the fact that it has been proven that there are no poodles in Newark, never any Weapons of Mass Doodoo, and absolutely no relation between the Mayor of Newark and the infamous terrierist Osama Bin Lassie.

The Anti-SUV Proliferation Brigade has taken the summer off to go camping and a possible re-org into the Anti-Preposterous Vehicle Coalition, with attention to the Hummers and such now infesting the roadways. Discussions are underway involving cans of spray paint. Stay tuned for developments.

The summer is winding down here on the Island. Planted corn is swelling with yields and yellow tassel. Zucchini are budding out and the tomatoes are starting to develop serious levitation problems. Back to School items are appearing on the shelves and we are being threatened with Autumn sales. But not yet. Not while the fire of August still burns without and within. There is still a touch of green in the stubble-clad hills in the area, bespeaking scorching days ahead.

On the Island, the kids across the street scamper in their long summer vacation time, and the willow blooms green through the concrete along the sidewalk. In the afternoons, the ice cream truck jingles down the way as it has for centuries. Or at least since the mid 40's, which feels the same. That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.


For the regular weekly update, skip down below to the most current date heading.

A website has been generated by members of Congress who demand that Bush address the issues raised by the Downing Street memo and answer them completely and now, not later or in a cursory brush-off.

As a public service we provide this hyperlink to that website where you can read the memos in their entirety and judge for yourself as well as write a memo of your own to designated officials and members of the Press urging them to pursue this matter and not let it drop away as they have with so many other issues that have come up.

JULY 31, 2005


For a music genre that arose from the whore houses and housing projects of New Orleans with a name that came from a sordid sexual act, Jazz has done fairly well for itself, gotten a bit hoity toity as some claim. That upper class association caused a long year's decline in favor of the rock-us plebeian Rock 'n Roll and the lower denominator of Elvis' hips. Nowadays, however, jazz appears in a bit of a revival with a bit more urge to please the crowd creeping into the gigs and we have less of the Eric Dolphy Memorial BBQ atonal celebration suffered by all of us in our stiff, straight-backed chairs of music Appreciation.

A resurgence of smoky voices, with Madeleine Pereu and Joss Stone heading the list, have helped channel the bluesy chanteuse of the past and the aging hippies of yore, now embarrassingly flush, have rediscovered Cuban jazz in the form of the Buena Vista Social Club, etc.

No surprise then that the annual North Beach Jazz Fest has been busting all records for attendance. North Beach held forth in force this weekend and early reports indicate heavy attendance this year for the Latin in the Park sessions on Saturday and the Taste of New Orleans on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Island held its own annual Art and Wine Fest on Park street with music and food and fun for all. We managed to take in Jazz Caliente on the Buena Vista stage and the Shade on the Encinal Stage.

Jazz Caliente has the vibrancy of unknowns trying like fire with original compositions and a bevy of multiinstrumentalists on flute and mouth harp as well as a willingness to jam to the nth bar. We would expect that they will not remain unknown for long.

You will note the keyboards before the harmonica player and the congas in front of the sax player who also does a wicked flute. And that is a six-string bass back there.

Shade has the advantage of hosting as lead sax a member of the internationally renowned Sax Quartet which performs frequently with the SF Symphony. They were polishing off a tasty Thelonious Monk number when we arrived.

All along the blockaded Park Street there were kiosks packed to the awnings with leather walkabout hats, atrocious kitsch, wooden carvings, delightful food including artichokes stuffed with shrimp, jewelry of dubious origin and even pins that doubled as eyeglass holders. There were stilt walkers and balloon ladies and jumping up and down in "bounce houses". In short, a fine time was had by all.

On other fronts all the Big Names are appearing at the Big Venues, and our policy is to avoid attending and reporting on any and all events at the massive ampitheatres that ring the Bay Area. Of course we must pay due notice that the Rolling Stones return again for a series of shows here, with scalped ticket prices surely pushing the four digit range by this date. Last time around we estimated that some 500,000 people paid the full price to see the "guy with the tire tread lips" run up and down the stage.

We have to admit that the fellow has done rather well as a businessman and a performer after being urged to give it all up for a modest income as an accountant.


The Sunday Night Jam with Mike Powers is bluesing through the stereo speakers. The Congress recently passed a ludicrous "energy bill" that gifts wealthy corporations for the pleasure of raping the planet and poisoning our water and our air. Iran recently announced it will pursue its ambitions of nuclear weapons with no apology or diversion of intent. Now that London has been attacked by suicide bombers, twice already, even the IRA has been shocked into pursuit of peace through unilateral disarmament, but the world remains a more tenuous place these days nonetheless.

Harlan down the street has been running through a series of frenetic and highly Biblical references lately on his street signs to the extent that he is no longer being as funny as he used to be. For those of you just tuning in Harlan is our local sign artist who puts up large signs on the side of his house with dubious intent and mysterious meaning. Drivers who pass down Lincoln may be subject at any time of day to verses from the bible, Shakespeare or exhortations to eat more chicken. We interviewed Harlan one day for about two hours and were not any more informed as to the meaning of his signs, which have been posted for at least some seven years now, as we were before talking to the man.

This is quite a notable accomplishment.

The latest sign reads: PORTAL TO BABYLON

Go figure.


It's been a quiet week on the Island here in the San Francisco Bay, which we call home. The morning fogs have dulled the afternoon onslaught of sun along the coast, while the rest of the Golden State has sufferered from some severely Globally warmed weather in the hundreds.

We note that the latest "energy bill" featured, among its more ludicrous endorsements, " a six week extension of daylight savings time. Well, god forbid that any oil driller should suffer for the sake of sanity and sound energy practice.

Even so, the light fades sooner each day and the tetras in the tank start schooling at the feeding time on schedule. The dahlias are going great guns and the corn is offering great promise of ears to come. Managed to harvest a good round of pole beans already and the lettuce has not given up quite yet even as the tomatos are starting to announce themselves.

Mess with the time as you will, the vegetable kingdom will insist upon its own schedule as dictated by age-old calendars.

Neighbor Julee put out a concoction guaranteed by the local garden supply to repel the masked bandits that have been raiding the veggies and the dumpster each night. Next night found the entire family of raccoons noshing upon the corn and the leftover tiramasu. Oh the trials of plant ownership.

It can be tough keeping those weeds in line while cultivating those turnips. The white flies and pinch bugs stand ever ready to invade the most studiously attended garden. In every garden a weed must grow; so it is in the gardens of our lives.

That is about as deep as it gets on the Island. We try not to get too philosophical. For that's just the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.

JULY 23, 2005


News that a Pharmacist decided unilaterally that he would perform his duties selectively and only according to his whimsical likes and dislikes has filtered down around here.

What if everybody decided to carry our their job based on "personal values?"

In the spirit of gonzo journalism we went to interview local busdriver Arnold "Fat Tires" Shipke, he of the noted Route OO of the Beltway Line.

Arnold, it seems, had taken a cue from the infamous pharmacist and had decided to refuse passage to Germans, those of German descent and anyone who even looked German, as well as skinheads, punks, and people with safety pins pierced through their noses.

"Arnold," we said during an interview at the famous Dog and Pony Show Bar & Grill, "We understand your feelings about Germans -- but don't you think this is carrying things a bit too far? I mean, you are a State employee after all."

"It goes against my deepest principles and feelings, said Arnold. "They murdered 8 million of my people, including quite a few of my great aunts not to mention all the gypsies and those schwule. Who am I to forget this terrible legacy. Serve them I will not."

"But Arnold, you are a bus driver. Someone looks a little blond, a little goyish and you refuse them boarding? Its crazy Arnold!"

Arnold launched then into a diatribe about the death trains and then the Russians and then the Palestinians and Hezbollah and all the past and present threats against Isreal and would have continued into the next generation of swine, but we had to interject about Mrs. Hildesheim of Central Avenue.

Mrs. Hildesheim, somewhat 85 or so in age, had been possessed of a husband who had been drafted unwillingly by the Third Reich some years ago into the Wehrmacht only to disappear in the middle of a howling blizzard of snow and Russians in 1947, leaving Mrs. Hildesheim forlorn among the burning rubble of what had once been Charlottenburg. Starving, with most of the family dead or lost, she picked her way after the war's end through the tangle of barbed wire and minefields to the Western Zone and so began her journey to the Americas where she remarried, endured a second widowhood, and earned herself a living as a seamstress only to be refused passage upon the local bus on matter of individual principal.

Mrs. Hildesheim had called the Caltrans Authority, the newspapers, City Hall, State Senator Barbara Boxer, the ACLU, and the NAACP, all of who professed the greatest mystification as to why Arnold the Bus Driver had passed her up not once but eleven times already and how was she to visit Mrs. Bombadil at the far East End or obtain her groceries. It was all too much.

No recourse or support was forthcoming from the NAACP as the case lacked all of the necessary qualifications and the ACLU has enough trouble these days dealing with the savage Bushmen of an increasingly bloodthirsty and atavistic Washington Jungle.

So Mrs. HIldesheim was reduced to perching on the seat of the brand new City Shelter, holding her black handbag in her lap, while Arnold swooshed by with a barely perceptible tap upon the accelerator. She and Arnold had once been great friends and it was thought the hint of glimmer in her blue eyes appeared whenever he passed now.

Meanwhile, Alphonso Mubarak had decided that he, for one, would serve no one on his premises who had been circumcised. Yes, for one to obtain a haircut from Al's Barbershop, you had to drop your drawers. All who failed to measure up were sent -- quite without intentional irony -- down the street to Supercuts.

Then O'Connell Volvo refused to work on any cars which were painted orange for that color went against the moral stand of every righteous Catholic. And then anyone who ate foi gras was refused service by Dr. Bowels, the new gastroenterologist on matter of principal and the general well being of geese.

Oh, let us not go into what happened at the Encinal Butcher shop and the great flack over veal.

Soon, it seemed, the entire Island would descend into chaos, for everybody had a legitimate reason to refuse doing their job for some reason or other. Nobody got any work done.

Everyone got into a terrible wax and nothing got done for a week until some genius whispered to Arnold that Mrs. Hildesheim had a great uncle who had been part of the plot involving Field Marshal Rommel, to blow up Hitler. Well, this changed things tremendously and soon the old pals were seen about town having tea as usual at the Slutt Hutt Cafe on Park Street.

Gradually, things began returning to some semblance of normality -- for the Island -- as this and that person whispered into the ear of this and that Moral Crusader some qualification of acceptance. Foi Gras geese die laughing, for example.


That hot spell smashing Arizona down has done its part here as well. Just as the Bay Area was settling into the usual blankets of fog which had so chilled Mark Twain, ruining his opinion of the place for generations afterward, a heat wave body slammed the region, sending temps into triple digits.

Talked to a couple of biker bro's who came looking for Bear. They had just scooted out of Arizona, capping a vacation two weeks early on the head of killer 125 degree heat in that place.

The sun was so murderous that the local beaches emptied of bathers. Word from Taiwan and coastal Japan is that the latest class 4 typhoon passed with relatively little loss of life and property. And the Category four hurricane spared much of Lousiana this time around. Like your non-existent Global Warming now, Bushy?


Well it's been a quiet week on the Island, except for the midnight racket of the trains passing through Jack London Waterfront. Summertime has arrived and people make plans to cart on down to the beaches or on up to the mountains or finally do something, really do something about that retaining wall and resolve the whole situation once and for all with bags of cement, boards of lumber, pvc pipe, and plenty of sweat and beer.

The toney rich drift off to sabbaticals in places like Tuscany and Alsace while the rest of us make do with fishing expeditions to Bass Lake, etc.

Meanwhile the ground squirrels continue about their personal business on the Strand.

A touch of "tennis elbow" has us truncating most entries this week. Maybe next week things will be better.

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

JULY 17, 2005


Much to everyone's surprise, that old sentimental elephant, the Island Hospital, expects to meet its budget next year, which makes front page news around here.

This, of course, includes the "one time" parcel tax approved by voters in 2002 and which has been repeated each year to bolster funding by some $6 million.

Kaiser, which has its lustful eye upon the Island, and quite possibly the entire facility, has agreed to shunt some 3,700 surgeries to the Hospital annually for the next five years, thereby adding another $6.87 million worth of revenue.

The aging facility has lost $8.74 million in 2004 and some $525,000 in 2005. It contains no trauma center to handle critical emergencies in the event of disaster, and has been steadily cutting programs, such as the natal unit each year for the past five years since reorganization in 2001.

Some Islanders see the old ediface as a sentimental reminder of how things used to be here, and many others are concerned about having local emergency facilities which do not have the extended waiting times experienced at the County Trauma Center. The nearest hospital other than Highland is well over 20 minutes away and if the bridges are not available, several hours.

The total hospital budget is some $53 million.


Craig Ojala has been appointed interim Police Chief in the wake of "Bunny" Matthews' departure after serving some 35 years. Ojala joined the IPD in 1979.


The Oakland City Council voted to shut down the massive City Jail on 7th, which is that big fortress-like structure with slit windows visible from the freeway due to the budget crunch now experienced almost universally in all areas of government. Prisoners will now be booked at the formidible Santa Rita jail out in Pleasanton, which is a site that also hosts the underground Office of Emergency Services, the County Sheriff's Department, two federal prisons and the Armed Forces Firing Range.

The Island retains its own rehabilitated jail, restored after an hiatus caused by scandals that involved sex between guards and prisoners in the mid 90's.


After last minute N'hour negotiations that ending sometime around two a.m. after 26 hours of continuous argumentation, union officials and management avoided a lockout and strike of the regional transit system. As in most of the labor disputes that have erupted in recent years, much of the contention revolved around health care costs and work rules. The strike would certainly have paralyzed the Bay Area.


Our only Shopping Center is going through some ruckus lately, with the radical expansion of Walgreens into the space once occupied by a very useful gas station. Safeway is moving into a new building now under construction, a 24 Hour Nautilus is under construction and lessors are courting Target for a local Big Box store. The result is quite a hassle for people trying to pick up a carton of arugula from Trader Joes or bird feed from Petco amidst the maze of barriers down there.


The Crucible held its fifth annual Fire Arts Festival at its location over in Oaktown on the edge of the Jack London Waterfront. The art center, which is the premier center for industrial arts on the west coast, hosts classes and private studios for glassblowing, sculpture welding, cast metal pours, wood carving, metal fabrication, neon sculpture, blacksmithing, cartoneria, as well as jewelry and enameling.

The Center supports interdisciplinary cooperation and often hosts mixed media and performance events. One of these was this past week's week-long extravaganza starting with a free Desert Art Preview spotlighting artists creating new work for Burning Man 2005 related to the theme "Psyche" on Wednesday evening.

Thursday was a formal black tie affair costing some $75 a ticket and which featured an auction of some of the magnificent bronze and iron creations by the crucible artists. The evening also included live fire performances by Apsara and the music of Rosin Coven as well as a long drop bronze pour from a an overheard crucible located fifteen feet above the Montanas.

Friday began with a minor key version of the performances held Saturday. Saturday, Island-Life staffers volunteered for bar and security duty from three pm to two am for an inside look into the machinery behind such big events. The Crucible held a day-long Open House with workshops in welding, woodworking, glass blowing and other industrial arts.

At six o'clock, however, the big facilty shut its doors and the focus shifted to the area -- a former parking lot about the size of a football field surrounded by chain-link fence and the nearby elevated rails of the BART.

As the sun went down, the canned beats of DJ Vordo yielded at 8:45pm to the eerie wailings of Sinder the Wicker King with ominously rumbling synthesizer playing over the occassional hoot of an exploratory jet of flame from this and that installation on the lot playing against the fading sun's aurora. Well over two thousand people stood in line to enter right at 8pm and many more thousands poured in throughout the evening.

As the last light faded, the neon installations lit up and began revolving as one by one the various fire scupltures began firing up with hisses and bangs across the lot, turning the place into a surreal world where otherworldly rules seemed to apply. Figures dressed in ropes of EL tubing and neon lights strolled through the crowds and a constant press of people congregated in front of the stage which hosted Poi dancers twirling batons, flails and pugel sticks tipped with flames and performing intricate gymnastics requiring absolute precision, for any one mistake would result in disastrous and very painful consequences, but which amazed the eye and delighted the senses.

Because of the press of the crowd it was difficult to get a good look, but we managed to climb up on a crane to watch Los Suenos Del Fuego the Enemy Combatant Dance Theatre -- which heavily employed martial arts techniques -- and the very subtle and sexual Nekyia, which used dancers outfitted with flaming peacock plumes. Sadly, the camera batteries chose this time to crap out.

As with Xeno, the emphasis was upon a female-empowered paganistic and stylized form of ritual dance which attained remarkable heights of spiritual awakening worthy and better than the most shouting Baptist ministry, while remaining infused with powerfully atavistic sexuality.

Out in the yard, Therm crackled and popped from its twenty-foot high abstract flower of iron as the jet turbines shoved fireballs from a high firestack on the east side. On the west side of the yard, the fire tornado once again astonished random passengers on BART, whose trains passed only a few yards fron the top of the forty-foot pillar of flames whipped up by ten industrial fans.

Around ten the crew broke open the mini kiln for an aluminum pour into glowing Montanas surrounded by deepset concrete "footprints" glowing with an alcohol flame.

Behind the stage, on a raised berm, two massive ten-foot high Tesla coils ejected crackling blue lightening beside a pendulum which swung from a forty-foot slender arch of steel. At the end of the pendulum a sort of six-foot oval resembling a UFO launched itself with great jets of flame to swing wildly high into the air on four-way propane prepulsion.

All of this was eclipsed by the bronze "Hand of God", which required the crowd be pushed back some thirty feet beyond its original perimeter as the fingers launched immense jets of flames that expanded into great fifty-foot donuts of flame at least 300 feet into the air. In an interview with the maker, we found that the Hand used pure propane compressed to 900 PSI to propell a mixture of kerosene, alcohol and white gas into the air from each of its extended fingers.

The effect was rather spectacular and the fire safety team was kept busy extinguishing the drop-off all around the area. No way could we get a photo of something that big.

And, of course, no Crucible event would be complete without the primitivistic Deer People with antlers aflame and striding on stilts another five feet in the air like animated cave paintings.

The event was still cranking well past two am with all sorts of fire mayhem going on and a fine time was had by all, although it is true the beer keg ran dry way too soon for our likes.

Got home and barely downed a beer before falling asleep in the comfy chair in fifteen minutes with Dr. Friederich snuggled in on the armrest.


Well, it's been a quiet week on the Island. Quieter that most. The Fifteen Group wants to sell off the newly cleared Harbor Bay Complex, but since no tenants remain there, they may find the sale to be somewhat presumptuous.

Perhaps they can fill the place with Babtist Miinisters, Christeen Shouters and people from Texas who really believe the earth is no more than 5,000 years old.

Apparently there are a lot of them. Which is a curiousity since they do not believe that sex, in the form that we know it, exists. A Texas Babtist came around here sniffing like a pouchy hound dog, wearing an American flag tie and handing out brochures. He did not appear to understand the nature of our T-shirt table but seemed hell-bent -- yes, I think that is precisely the phrase -- upon converting our souls to Jesus, the Evangelical Right Wing and Neo-Conservatism as well as the new-found Texan way of thinking.

According to the editorial page of the Portland Oregonian, forwarded by one of our correspondants, we have the following to add about this Babtist and his political faith.

"Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, I think the Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives."

Well its a Sanctified Island and we can't have too many churches here, for we have an Islamic mosque, several Ecumenicals, perhaps a Catholic cathedral or two, some half dozen Protestant congregations, a passel of Lutherans, one Bhuddist temple, a Masonic lodge, a handful of Episcopalians, a number of Filipino store-fronts, and several First Church of This and That. And that is not mentioning the Chinese, the Vietnamese and the former sailors from the Navy base as well as at least one witch living upstairs and alone among all of these we trust to hold our wallet without pilferage.

Sure, we have Republicans here, just like any community has town drunks, low-lifes, and acknowledged Disreputables who live on the beach and honky tonks. Its true they contribute nothing to society, but we believe here that even Republicans have a right to life, no matter how obnoxious.

There is no word, as of yet, regarding our genius idea of holding the World's Most Impressive Mud Wrassle Match between Georgie and Osama, but we understand that the Terrible Turbaned Terrier is difficult to get a hold of. Maybe Georgie outta chase him down on one of those mountain bikes of which he is so fond.

Meanwhile the gardens have been going great guns out there, with dahlias popping out in little red explosions of color and the corn is getting mighty frisky all over the Island. Crossing over the bridge one sees the familiar fogs creeping over the coastal range hills while the marinas here are all a clinker with activity on the weekends from seasonal sailors getting jaunty on excursions into the Bay. Eulalia Potts of Main Street appeared once again on Park, scurrying past the antique shop with a pleasant nosegay tucked into her hatband and the Island Dogwalkers Association has appeared in force along the strand with their leashes and their little paper bags and trowels. Must be summer once again.

Summer is that time of baseball crack echoing across the fields of Chipman Middle School and ice cream on hot days and loads of time -- if you are young -- and loads of grass seed -- if you are not.

Summer is the time to watch the ripples spread out on the pond from that perfectly cast fly and just let the bobber bob in the current while the sun dashes light across the surface of the water. While along the strand the wind surfers cast up their kites to dance rainbow dances against the deep blue of our ever depleting ozone layer and the ground squirrels pause their daily hustle to watch from the shore.

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

JULY 10, 2005


Local officials are warning would-be bathers and wind-surfers to avoid the Crown Beach area along the Strand after numerous bathers reported experiencing severe swimmer's rashes. The rash is caused by a relatively benign parasite that ordinarily infects birds as part of its regular life cycle. Human skin is hostile to the parasite, which typically dies off within a few days, but now without causing the rash from its attempts to burrow beneath the surface.

A mother of all heat waves is forecast to slam into the bay area this week, so the news is especially irksome as there will be no relief from diving into the shallows along the Strand.

In other news we hear the infamous "7 Group" in Texas which owns the troubled Harbor Bay Complex and which issued mass evictions to some 1000 people last November has decided not to proceed with its plans for renovation after all, and has been negociating for sale of the complex

This is called adding insult to injury and then stomping on the victims with barbaric howls of glee and has been discarded in most of the civilized world with the exception of the Bohemian Club and similarly diseased environs.

If any representative of the Texas-based group should dare show his face around here right now, there are quite a number of locals ready and willing to grab a shotgun with which to greet the fool with number 8 buckshot.


Robben Ford just finished up a three night run at Yoshis this weekend, as did the irrepressibly cute Waifs at the Independent in Babylon. This time around both sisters had newborns in tow and it should be interesting to see if the group can managed to soldier on while balancing family demands with the well-known rigors of international road touring. Those V-twin engines of the acoustic world, the Indigo Girls, held forth at the Fox this weekend and all reports have them rocking the house.

As for upcoming events, Island-Life is pleased to draw your attention to the following:

On 7/14, the idiosyncratic Devotchka performs a the Independent in Babylon. Devotchka is a curious musician's musician group consisting of highly trained musicians performing a wide assortment of jazz, middle eastern tabla, kletzmer, dolmusch music, Balkan folk dances, and just about everything from Portugual to Turkey. They hail from the Heartland of America and a live performance is certain to be Zappa-esqe in quality.

Ray Lamontagne of New Orleans will perform with the talented Rachael Yamagata on 7/15, followed by Ben Harper on 7/16 at the Warfield.

The consummate fretboard stylist, Mark Knopfler takes over the Greek on 7/23 for a droolingly enviable evening of guitar pyrotechnics. Knopfler is one of the hallowed few who was allowed to cut a session with Doc Watson, CGP, during his lifetime.

All of this splendid music should lead up to a wonderful Bastille Day celebration. Alons Enfants!


Well, its been a quiet week on the Island. After the chaos of July 4th with its immense display of illegal fireworks finally petering out sometime around two AM in many quarters, we all stumbled back to work in a daze for the rest of the short week. Right now, the radio plays softly and the trains are tooting through Jack London Waterfront.

The Showalters have left with the Showalter baby, leaving a little hole where that tidy little family had nestled here, and Deborah, who has been dear to us all has been packing boxes in a frenzy of downhill tumbling rabbits towards her move away from us to the City for she is but 23 and yearns for the zest of City Life that is in the young and which always has been.

The Island is a fine place for the very young not yet fledged from the nest and for the old who have already seen Paris and London and Berlin and Istanbul and seen the dervishes whirling in Antalya, but not a good place for those in whom the sap still rises. For the Island is a place caught in a warp of some imaginative time that never changes and never will change. It is a place for art-deco dreamers and neon-sign memories, where the ice cream truck still jangles and jingles the shady blocks all through the summer.

Well I was cleaning the ash from the fire
And putting the body away
I was helping all of my lost friends
To see the light of day

Perhaps you may remember when you were young and your town was far too small to contain your dreams. You just knew that you just had to get out and go to the Big City where your Dreams had a chance of flowering into Something Really Big and there was no way in hell you would stay around this podunk place where nothing ever seemed to happen because there was Uncle Edwin with his halitosis and interminable stories about the War -- and by that we mean not some romantically recent war but some war far distant in the history books and old film reels from which nobody seems to have survived except for your Uncle and a bare handful of liver-spotted cronies. But nevermind that, for there were aunts and counsins interminable who all conspired wickedly to squat upon your dreams and render them innocuous with laughter and ridicule and so you longed for the comfortable anonymity promised by the City where you could really be YOU without impositions.

We will not dwell upon the disappointments that ruined your dreams and made you the aged curmudgeon you are today. Remember instead those days when you strode out the door, captain of your own ship, master of your own destiny and the City spread out luxuriously like a woman dressed entirely in pearls upon a velvet blanket sprinkled with jewels. And our dear Deborah is going forth into the City for she desires the zing that only the City can provide.

Sometimes a river, sometimes a river
is high
Sometimes a river, sometimes a river
is dry

From her side, the going is all upward climbing to the light, but for us left behind, we have only the consolation of the Blues and memories of the times that were when all of us were together. When you are young you want change, any sort of change with all the passion and fire of youth, but something happens as life progresses through its routines. That scary house with the overgrown yard you just knew was haunted by headless ghosts gets torn down and replaced by a bright and shiny A&W restaurant. Laughing Sal, the hideous monster your brother activated with a quarter in the arcade out on Seacliff, only to give you nightmares with her gap-toothed grin, finally gets put away, sold to some millionaire with a garage full of antique automobiles, and the whole arcade with its museum and camera obscura gets torn down to be replaced by tie-dye t-shirt shop, the sort of ticky tacky place where they sell conch shells and cheesy postcards that make jokes about fat people at the beach.

Then there are the people of course. Bob enlists in the Army and goes off to some foreign war somewhere some place you have trouble pronouncing or finding on a map. And when he comes back, somehow things are not the same with him as they once were. Susan and Jaime get scholarships to Notre Dame in far distant Illinois or Iowa or someplace you are positive is well east of Chicago for gosh's sakes. Laddy, the dog that always chased you down the street with the full intention of tearing off your legs should you not pedal your Schwinn Speedracer fast enough gets hit by a car and you drive by the old house a little slower, still expecting that bounding fury of fur to come after you but the old house is silent now.

Making a stand in the darkness
Wearing a hole in the floor
Suddenly everything changes
You're not the same anymore

One day you wake up and while shaving you look in the mirror and tell yourself, hmm, gonna have to cut back on the peach torte and fudge a bit. Maybe get one of those gym memberships and do something, really do something about that spare tire there. And is this the week you have to pick up the Anderson kids, or is it their turn to pick up yours now?

Sometimes a river, sometimes a river
is high
Sometimes a river, sometimes a river
is dry

Yes, nothing stays the same. One day you find you have grey hair and that old stratocaster in the garage, well, maybe you can unload that and the drum set at the next garage sale, for they've been gathering dust for the past six, seven, no, eleven years. Along with your dreams.

So, Deborah, you go to the City and get your zest while you can. Drink deep of life and have adventures you can remember for the rest of your life and our wishes go with you. From Our House in the Middle of the Block.

17 hours of travel
Was never really a surprise.
The world is heavy with traffic;
We were never good at good byes
No, we were never very good at good byes

Sometimes a river, sometimes a river
must die
Sometimes a river, sometimes a river
is dry.

Sometimes a river, sometimes a river
is high
Sometimes a river, sometimes a river
is dry.

The Stringcheese Incident

Well, that's the way it is on the Island. Have a zesty week.

JULY 4, 2005


An old lady celebrated her 220th birthday today across the nation. She's a bit gone in the hips and her reputation is not what it once was. Her once queenly robes are gone a bit tattered from scandal, but she still has all of her teeth and is in fairly good shape for a lady of her age.

As usual, the Island held its annual Mayor's Parade with some 186 entries this year, including the Elks, the Rotarians and the Eagles Hall as one would expect from this Island which believes it is actually a small town located in the Midwest.

But along side the fire department and the obligatory convertible leased for the local Assemblyman, also marched a large contingent of Falun Gong practitioners from China, the Vietnamese Cultural Center, and a substantial entry featuring caballeros fully bedecked in sombreros, embroidered jackets, silver-studded pants and polished boots tucked into stirrups that ran up to fantastically worked leather saddles embossed with silver and bone. These fellows were followed by a large band of twenty musicians, all nattily dressed in powder-blue.

It was a day of extraordinarily delightful weather which facilitated BBQ's all over the island.

Most of the House was gone for the weekend or suffering from various maladies so the annual affair here did not go off as usual, however the scent of lighter fluid and roast tri-tip wafted from one end of the island to the other.

The evening was reserved for the usual fireworks displays, but here, in the East Bay, every tradition is ramped up a notch. Long before Babylon set off its synchronized displays bracketing the Golden Gate and before the first rocket launched from Jack London Square, all along the estuary and down the shore for some 30 miles, the illegals started their own shows, which rivaled the municipal efforts in sheer numbers and brilliance.

Somebody must have snuck in more than a few boxcars of works, for the illegal shows this year were beyond the pale in phenomenal displays, some ascending easily hundreds of feet into the air to explode into giant chrysthanthemums. During one barrage, we were able to count eight people backlit by explosions, each armed with a firing tube standing shoulder to shoulder and all shooting simultaneously, while this performance repeated itself dozens of times for miles all along the estuary.

Every once in a while a police helicopter came down to pan the area with searchlights, which caused only a local hiatus while the chaos continued a quarter-mile further on.

Long after the Grand Finale's in Oaktown and Babylon had finished, the estuary blazed with continuous light displays. It is now approaching midnight and the sounds of explosions have only recently died down to intermittent bangs,

In short, there was much rejoicing and eating and drinking and a fine time was had by all.


Everyone is commenting on how the gardens are burgeoning this year. Up in Yosemite comes the word that scads of ephemeral waterfalls have appeared to water the Valley with unusual abundance. Species long absent from certain areas have suddenly reappeared to the delight of naturalists and birders everywhere. Here in the Bay we have the report that the lowly grunion has returned to the Bay after an absence of some 150 years.

Don't know what a grunion is? Well, you are a newbie to the Golden State my friend. The grunion is a saltwater fish that must spawn on land. Hence, the fish will mass together during certain high tides in the summer to struggle in huge numbers through the surf to lay eggs in the sand before washing out again back to sea. In SoCal, it is a ritual among many to go down to the beach during a full moon to watch the spectacle of mating and spawning. Many people take the opportunity to gather panfuls of the small fish to fry up for dinner.

Along the San Joaquin, a river which stands a decent chance of once again flowing completed and without interruption from its origins in Lake Martha through the Central Valley and down into the Delta and out to the ocean as god first intended, a tiny songbird has returned after it was thought to be extinct from the area. Birders have described this creature as small enough to fit in the hollow of one's fist, but possessed of an extraordinarily powerful voice and beautiful song.

In other news, the Council has approved the plans for the multistory parking garage and cinema multiplex, which a group of citizens has gathered to fight the questionable project to the death. Stay tuned for further developments.


Well its been a quiet week here on the Island. The beans are beginning to argument with the corn as to which should grow higher in the garden and it does seem we are done with precipitation for now. Down by the old Beltline railway bed the weeds are coming back thick as thieves and the warm air seems to bring out the better parts of man and woman. Summer has begun, at least according to our druids and witches about here, and thoughts turn to fishing a particular lake for striped bass or traipsing the mountain meadows. The younger sort might yearn for the Van's Warped Tour and similar idylls, but really the basic thoughts are the same: time to chill out, dude.

There are no trains tonight passing through the silent Jack London waterfront. Jack London is still filled with the sounds of sporadic explosive mayhem past one AM now and the Holiday put a stop to the trains.

Feel a little like Ernie Pyle writing from the Front with all of this warlike noise going on.

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

JUNE 26, 2005


There's great things happening in our section of town. The little Central Cinema has been granted a reprieve from the Planning Commission and so they can continue to show films to local families in their tiny micro-theater.

The owner of the A&M Deli on Lincoln made good on her promise to leave the country subseqent to the lamentable results of the last presidential election. An Italian family is moving an old style deli Into the old space.

A few doors over El Caballo has changed hands and upgraded their menu, hours and overall quality of food. They still make the best burritos in town, but now offer breakfast and a large complement of Mexican entrees served with fresh produce ingredients. Their rustic tortilla-chicken soup is to die for and we heartily recommend the spot, which is now open on Sundays.


There is this lovely song on Tracy Chapman's excellent CD "Telling Stories" in which she laments the rejection of her by the "church people".

There would be cherubs with tiny harps arrows and bows
I'd have a halo and a flowing white robe
I'd be enfolded by a celestial light
If I'd lived right

But I'm feeling hot and bothered under the collar
I feel the sweat breaking out on my brow
I feel the heat and I know it's the passion
The love I can't disavow

Well, "the love that dare not speak its name" spoke it loud and proud in Babylon this weekend at the 35th annual Gay Pride Parade, which was attended by thousands of people, both hetero and gay, who came from all over to witness this annual tradition in commemoration of the Stonewall riots in 1969.

The riots began in response to police harrassment of gay bars and nightclubs. A group of cops entered an establishment with the intention of rousting the patrons for a beating with riot sticks, but that special night the squad was repelled. The violence spread out into the street and beyond the borders of the small upstate town of Stonewall in New York. When police began riding into groups of men with horses they only ignited widespread rioting in which police cars were overturned and set on fire. Police were knocked from their horses and beaten by gays enraged by the long time mistreatment in a series of pitched battles in New York City.

The riots served to unify the disparate gay groups into a cohesive political force and many repressive laws and practices were overturned, although the battle still continues on many fronts and many sections of the country are still physically dangerous to anyone who appears "a little bit different."

As a measure of how things have changed here is Police Chief Heather Fong marching along as a participant.

Gay pride parades now occur all across the country, including -- as reported in the SF Chronicle, Muncie Indiana.

"If you had told me 20 years ago that we would have a local pride event, I would have never believed it," said Mike Sullivan, a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation that supported the event attended by hundreds of people.

In many other cities, reports are coming in that this year the parades featured more men in business suits and t-shirts than the flamboyant feathers and g-strings of yesteryear, indicating a sort of mainstreaming of the gay culture and the general mood is one of dogged determination in a time of numerous setbacks caused by the rise of the Evangelical extremists to political power in the US. In Babylon, Mayor Gavin was greeted enthusiastically by parade participants.


Well, it's been a quiet week here on the Island. The only major flap -- other than the outrage over the six-story parking monstronsity planned for Park Street -- has been the seagulls down at the ferry landing. The City Council keeps talking about vitalizing "downtown" as if we had one. Which should be an astonishment to any long term resident as the Park Street "shopping area" extends for a magnificent five blocks north to south and barely half a block going east to west and that is only if you include the Eagles Hall where they hold zydeco dances on alternate Wednesday evenings.

And here comes Phlegm Kadiddle with his grand plans for a ten screen multiplex, selling the idea to Mayor Beverly who barely has her ears wet as a brand new mayor, the innocent young Island Girl susceptible to the flinty-eyed hucksters willing to rope anyone into selling their honor, their beauty or their spirit for a sou.

Shame on you Kadiddle! Or whoever foisted this concept on the Council, beguiling them with sweet promises of increased revenues in the coming times of increased hardship when people will flock to the cinemas clutching their hoarded nickles as they did during the last Great Depression to ease their misery watching the antics of the Little Tramp and Harold Lloyd.

For gosh sakes, we live on an Island! How on earth are people going to get here, swim?

And just because you have a splendid six-story parking garage does not mean that people will wait in line for ten minutes to enter, nor wait thirty minutes to exit upon payment of twenty hard earned dollars on top of the movie ticket and the traffic ticket and the boutique and the dinner expenses.

Heck no. They will do what YOU do when you go to Jack London to see a movie. You arrive at the location with plenty of time to spare -- for you have heeded the warnings of Sal "Shakey" Stearing who taught you your first drivers lessons: avoid speeding tickets by starting out with plenty of time to spare. So you arrive with plenty of time to spare. And this time, by golly, you do! In time to see the line of cars entering the convieniently placed parking garage and to decide you will not park in that dark old garage where old ladies get mugged and cars get broken into, no you will drive around the neighborhood to park in front of a driveway you hope nobody is going to use after hours. If YOU do it, THEY will do it.

Although why they would leave their own neighborhood with its own 10 screen multiplex to funnel into the island over the single lane Park Street bridge with its occasionally inconveniently raised drawbridge is anybody's guess.

Or why they would avoid the 10 screen multiplex going in right now down on Hegenberger some two freeway exits down -- where there is no planned parking garage at all, where the parking is as free as god intended and as it is at the Bayfair Mall some three exits further on down.

In conclusion, we would like to indicate that the old Paramount sat vacant for years after its failure, as did the cinema in South Shore, which spot is now occupied by a sushi bar, and we moved into our apartment some years ago marveling at the long disused land once employed by the last open air drive-in in the Bay Area.

We humbly offer the novel idea that it does not appear as if a cinema multiplex is likely to survive for long in this area for history indicates that it will not.

Of course one could make Park Street a pedestrian promenade and orchestrate traffic around that sort of chestnut -- which other small towns have done quite successfully -- but nobody seems to have mentioned this opportunity.

Well in other news Eugene Shrubb, President of the Bums, has been sorely tried by the Indigent Congress which has begun to question his investure of Newark. For those late on the scene, Shrubb invaded Newark so as to rid the region of Weapons of Mass Doo-Doo in the form of Poodles and terrierists. It was hinted that the infamous Osama Bin Lassie had contacted Saddam Husky in Newark with nefarious intentions.

As it fell out, no one in Newark owns or has ever owned a poodle (they all own decent American Pit bulls) and Osama Bin Lassie has hated Saddam ever since high school. In fact, Osama sent a letter of thanks to Eugene for ridding the area of a demonic secularist infidel.

These facts are not known to many people and so we dutifully report them as the last bastion of the Free Press, operating under the strict injunctions of HP Morrow. Related to another public media figure.

HP Morrow was a stalwart enforcer of objective yellow journalism and a tried and true yellow-dog.

In any case, people are now talking about these kinds of affairs lasting, oh, some seven to nine years, and with all the IED's, IUD's, and whatnot going off all the time and some thirty attacks a day defeating any notion of "progress" toward any sort of Democracy (the objective has changed again from removing Hussein, to removing WMD's, to killing every Al Qaida in the world and from finding Osama to establishing a preferable government, resulting in such a bewilderment of the Press that they now report nothing at all).

And the idea that Newark would freely, democratically, independently vote and chose of free will to hate our guts is a concept that does not seem to have entered into the minds of our leaders here. Killing over 100 thousand of their people on a false pretext does not endear anyone to anybody.

Eugene's response to all of this and to the Dowdy Street memos, which revealed a drunken debauch between he, Secretary Ashpit, Condi Rice A-Roni and the Prime Minister Tony "Poodle" Snaired, has been to say, "Killing terriers is hard work. Stay the course. Questioning my agenda is Anti-American -- liberal mentality drags down the country. Just trust me."


The midnight trains from the Port are pulling through now, with their eerie howls echoing across the water. You would think that all this noise meant heavy industry was in progress and the transportation of goods was so imperative that they would be still running heavy loads out from the Port on Sunday evening. But we went down there one of those evenings the issue came out late and we saw how car after car was pulling through the dark and deserted Jack London Waterfront empty of loads and passengers. It was a ghost train, filled with ghost merchandise and ghost passengers, like the City of New Orleans, riding on disappearing revenue.

During the week, perhaps, those cars were fully loaded, but that Sunday the train pulled out of the station completely empty, a sham train typical of a world where reality is manufactured, regardless of human cost. Perhaps the conductor, too, was a ghost and the entire thing an illusion of enterprise and the sound coming across the water an echo of another time when newspapermen dug deep to find the heart of the story and we relied on the Press for the news.

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

JUNE 19, 2005 (REVISED)


The Little Cinema that Could, Central Cinema, has gotten a use permit from the Planning Board after months of hassle. The 40 seat family-friendly showhouse located in a troubled building which last saw use as a mortuary aquired a loyal fan-base which showed up en masse to the PB meeting on Monday. The main obstacle appeared to be the one main issue in this area which can unite liberals, communists and radical right-wingers: parking. Which turned out to be a "straw man argument", according to one of the locals who stated that everyone walks to the place.

The downtown multi-story cineplex and 350 car parking garage project, however hit a snag when two dozen opponents. Supposedly the project was already approved in unannounced, and therefore secretive, meetings of the PB, meaning that only design considerations can be discussed. But when the plans for the six-story garage monstrosity -- by far the biggest structure on the Island should it be actually built -- were announced, a public uproar ensued. The cineplex is to be housed in the old Island Theatre, a former Grande Dame Theatre done in the old style of the 1930's which has fallen into disrepair. No one argues against refurbishing the theatre, but there is much disagreement as to scope and size of the project and many feel seven screens is a bit much.

We at Island-life deplore this argumentation between neighbors and so we offer a sort of compromise in re the garage. It can be six stories, but all six must be below ground and out of sight. And all excavations must be removed with equipment no larger than, say a Ford Explorer SUV. Hey, people buy them for the extra storage so why not?

This would have many benefits. It would put those anti-social SUV's to honest work, it would avoid unsightly messes on Park Street during construction, and would go by the whole discussion over a massive structure overshadowing everything for miles. It also would rid us all instantly of 350 artery-choking vehicles in the next big earthquake when it fills with water.

In other news, the proposed Indian Casino just across the water has been officially "killed" to the great relief of local residents here. The Koi Nation, which originally hails from an area in the Sierra foothills near Sacto, chose the site far from its ancestral homelands because the ancestral homelands were stolen long ago and the tribe no longer resides there, or on any given "reservation".


Some of you may wonder how Eugene Shrubb, President Appointed of the Bums, fairs these days. Some of you may doubt his existence or the fact that he and the Army of Bums invaded and occupied Newark two years ago. Some of you don't care and some of you have no idea who Herbert Hoover was, nevermind the current President. Some of you do not know what we are talking about, but would love to be in the know.

All right we will tell you.

Eugene has not done well. Far from finding Weapons of Mass Doo-Doo in the form of rabid terrierists, or any connection with the attempted hijacking of Island City Hall by Poodles in the year 2000, Shrubb's army has spent two years bogged down in an increasingly costly occupation with forces constantly threatened by angry grannies armed with frying pans and the Scampering Poodle Weapon.

Well, a significant Source, code named "BackDoor", has leaked memos from the Office of Homeless Security located at Dowdy Street in the Garment District of Oaktown. These memos concern minutes of meetings held between the Personal Manager (PM) of Dowdy Street and the Finance Manager of Oaktown before and after meetings with President Select Eugene. Here is a quote:

"Poodles in Newark? WMD'S? Shrubb is not only a bum, but an idiot. Nobody in Newark owns a sissified poodle; they all own decent American pit bulls endowed with all the best of Evangelical morals. I hear that a Gideon's bible is kept lovingly in every pitbull pen in Newark. WMDs? Who is the guy kidding? He just wants to raid the liquor stores. . .".

A public uproar has arisen over the Dowdy Street Memos, which go on for some 36 pages. And many are saying that invading Newark is silly and stupid. Let us say that the doo-doo has hit the fan . . . .


As most of you know Sunday was the day to sell electric razors, hedge trimmers, golf acoutrements and stuff embedded in lucite, all to commemorate the dear old duffer who dandled you once upon his knee only to get a thorough wetting and let Mom handle it from there.

From minor escapades like that, you marched down through the years, swinging your arms with great independence -- with the aid of loaned car keys and the occasional check in the mail -- satisfied to outrage the fellow with your radical opinions and thoroughly scurrilous behavior, sometimes in the early days suffering the ignominious paddle, pandybat, leather belt or -- even worse -- TV banishment and curfew, for the crime of staying out late, cutting down Parson Miller's fir tree, wrecking the car, cursing, coming home smelling of alcohol and cigarettes, shoplifting, the marijuana cigarette you thought was harmless until you threw up on the neighbor's good rug, the one they brought back from their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Turkey; you had to mow a lot of lawns for that one. And, of course, forgetting to take out the trash and wash the dishes.

And then there was the time he came out wearing his plaid bathrobe, rapped on the steamed up windows of the family car parked in front of the house on your second Date, saying, "For god's sake come inside and do that on the livingroom couch; you are scandalizing Mom and all the neighbors. We'll make you some popcorn . . .".

And each day during the week he went out, down to the bus stop or to the creaky sedan to take that ride into the City and there toil his days among people who wear ties and wingtips, while shuffing papers and barking orders or having orders barked at him or both until coming home he would settle with an audible sigh of relief into that special easy chair, thinking thoughts you could not ever comprehend. Until you came up to him -- on his better days -- with your armless Barbie or your mastless Old Ironsides, eyes tearing and begging for some assistance with this calamity.

And by George the fellow would come through! Well, maybe not entirely all the time, but you would get a hug and talking too and promise of something better, maybe Harley Barbie on your birthday, twice as rad as the one you lost.

All this the poor fellow put up with, trying his best to improve your swing, your cast, trying to impart into that dunderhead of yours the important things to know, like where the fattest trout hide in the meander, how to deal with boys who are clearly even more foolish than you, and how to reassemble the carburator you so impishly decided to fix yourself.

And if you are a daughter the same thing goes in spades with only one possible addition heard only by the daughters and never by the sons: " For God's sakes you are not going out in public dressed like that. Go back to your room and change!"

And the poor fellow's only crime for putting up with the likes of you for some 18 years was the crime of loving your Mother.

Yes, he gets only one day a year, dear old Dad.

Maybe your Dad was nothing like that. Maybe your Dad was nothing like the TV Dads or the Dads in advertising, lolling with meerschaum pipes and inevitably middle-class and Caucasian, blessed with the good morals that got handed down to you.

The idea of having Bernie Ebbers or Dennis Koslowski for a dad is really scary.

Maybe your Dad was like most dads. Or maybe he was not really there at all. One day he struck your mother across the face and left with his hat and all source of income, leaving a reek of cheap whiskey, leading to long years of angry recrimination. Until one night, one night on Christmas eve the telephone rings, or the postman delivers a tattered envelope with a scrawled address you can barely recognize as your own with a return address of Lompoc or San Quentin or Pelican Bay.

I have known men like that and they were dads too. And every once in a while, a glacier somewhere far off would shed a load of ice in a great cracking.

There you are in the kitchen holding a grimy telephone with the steam pipes right there making noise and the buckled linoleum is under your feet as you listen to Him there on the other line, well what the hell does he want? If he wants money he can just forget it. Not after all this time.

I just wanted to know how ya doin'. How ya doin' is all.

Well we are doing fine, just fine without you. You wanting to hook up with mom again? That's crazy.

Naw. No, no. I'm, ah, in this situation, uh can't say I'm free ya know. Just callin', maybe say hello. Say, how's the old pitchin' arm.

I don't do the baseball no more, dad. Had to go to work for Pagano's. Things have been sorta tight around here.

Oh yeah, I'm used to the hard times. Gonna do a lot of that now. Uh, I got only one phone call. I was gonna say go tell Sammy, uh you remember Sammy. Little guy with a tattoo . . .

Yeah, yeah, I know Sammy. A mermaid doing it with a dolphin, yeah. I know Sammy.

You don't know Sammy real well, I hope.

No, no. He's just some guy we seen around and the boys laugh at him, cause of the way he walks . . .".

He's just an acquaintance I hope. It occurs to me now I thinkin' . . . Hey I have a lot of time to think, you know? Right now I got a lot of time to think. About how I kinda messed up a lot of things, maybe not treated your mom so good. Been a better, uh, provider for you and Sis. And other things that happen. Lissen, forget about Sammy. Dont talk to him. Don't never talk to him or anybody like him. I can hear in your voice you aint like him and . . . and other people. Lissen, please tell me you wont never talk to this Sammy . . .

Yeah, yeah, alright enough already. Pop you sound really . . .

Hey, I gotta go now. Time's up. It aint like the movies, son. Nothing is like the movies; there aint no smooth wrap up. Remember that.

Yeah sure.

Life aint like the movies; there aint no smooth wrap up. Stay away from that Sammy. Promise you'll remember.

Believe me, I'll remember.

Yeah, so will I. A real long time. [click]

So Sunday was the day for Dad. Your life and your Dad could have been a lot different from what it turned out to be. Believe me. Give thanks for whatever Dad you got assigned. It could have been a lot worse on both sides.


Partook of the gracious hospitality of McGrath's Pub on Friday, and there enjoyed Houston Jones, about whom we have previously written. Saturday dawned through the rose and umber fog of post alcoholic intemperance to give way to the most delightful cloud-dappled skies after the recent unseasonable rains. Sunday developed into a true Bay Area summer with ground squirrels cavorting along the strand and us rumbling up in the shaking Rumble Mobile to far-off Marin, where they have trees and cows and other strange things growing among the grumpus all along the well- matriculated hills.

In Marin, in the Marin as it was of Olde, there sits Rancho Nicasio, a little establishment run by world famous jazz artist Angela Strehli. The collection of farmhouse buildings nestles in the rolling countryside, just about 30 minutes from anywhere with a sign and just about as idyllic a location as one can imagine for the world-class music and food supplied by Angela's elves. Every Sunday the house hosts a few bands and BBq on the law out back, with room for maybe 200 people at the max. A few picnic tables are to be had for reservation, but the majority simply camp out on the lawn with blankets and folding chairs.

Sunday, we headed out to join a group of Birthday boys and girls and to see our special friend, Lin, who is very much an Elf of the High Elves of Lothlorien. As well as being a 2-time winner and champion against the Big C.

And who should we see but Houston Jones once again performing their version of High Octane Americana.. This time armed with Chojo Jacques and his magnificent fiddle, which can send chills down the spine.

It's a small stage , no more than 30 feet across under an overhang and flush with the lawn. You can creep right up to the edge and gaze at the band, which might feature Leon Russell, Elvin Bishop or any other international celebrity, for Angela's reach extends far and wide, making the locale quite a jewel among the Marin hills.

We like Houston Jones and their free-wheeling style, but there was no question as to whom the people had come to see that day: The Rowan Brothers reunited after a 23 year recording hiatus. The Rowan family began as a rambunctious unit in 1969 with Loren Rowen's "Free Mexican-American Airforce", and developed a strong underground following for the next thirty years. They performed irreverent folk-style music that was distinctly Western and Californian in particular in sensibility and flavor with extraordinary musicianship. Any time any one of them would perform anywhere in California, the flocks would gather. We have seen a tiny, isolated farmhouse quickly fill up with nearly a hundred people when one of them would perform.

Ensemble, it became quite clear that this is a family devoted to music. Once past the obligatory pieces devoted to perfect technique and sweet harmony, the brothers ripped into some great, old fashioned rocking, tearing up the house, roll. And the obvious enjoyment on their faces indicated how much they loved the music. Which was well appreciated.

The style is Nashville-derivative in the more carefully orchestrated pieces, but it quickly breaks the genre boundaries as the brothers get more excited, evolving into that new amorphous style loosely termed "Americana", with a bit of country, a bit of blues, a bit of rock all melded into one very captivating performance. The vocal harmonies are exquisite and highly emphasized as the photo would indicate from the mike positioning. This is the music that seems to say, "You know George Bush, you have not a god damned clue as to what the heartland is really about." And that is a good feeling. Because if you really knew what America was about, you would be very dangerous.

Rancho Nicasio has a calendar posted on the web. Find it yourself. Enjoy.


It feels a bit odd to wrap up this thing on a Monday, but maybe its good to be breaking out of the old routine. Managed to fix those unruly Germans and handle the Taiwanese in the same day, but we sure is tuckered out crossing the dateline. Sometimes you get caught in this rut of everyday and weekly patterns and there you are, stuck out on the plateau of creativity, really having to come up with something different for a change.

But meanwhile we have our Island differences and issues and all sorts of localized problems. These things seem entirely our own unique problems: no money for schools or libraries or police or fire services and everyone seems broke and hard up all the time. Well, what a series of problems that no one else seems to share.

Well, that's just the way it is on the Island. Its late into a Monday evening with the trains howling through the Port from across the way. Have a great week.

JUNE 12, 2005


The last of the cap 'n gown ceremonies has marched down the aisle to the execrable tunes of Elgar and even Harvard, which deliberately hosts commencement in mid June after everyone else so that the press can all be there, could not find any honorable or worthy speaker in all of politics or public life today so that honorable institution chose Hollywood's John Lithgow -- an old alum by chance -- to speak to the class of 2005.

The last teen in the house, little Shelly bells -- not so little any more -- foregoes this year's commencement with her sights set on UC at Santa Barbara having tested out of the essentially useless process of Senior slump some six months previously.

Hey; why waste time. Skip the ballyhoo, I'm outta here jack, and off she goes.

But for all those who stayed the course, occupying space, tossing spitballs one last time and tossing their cookies at the obligatory first keg party, all those who tossed their caps in the air although urged not to by overly cautious matrons and all those who wandered off of the football field to the strains of the now traditional "Time of Your Life" by Green Day, we wish you all the best of luck. Especially since my own generation has really screwed things up quite badly for all of you and you are really going to need luck to get through.

Now we are all off on the long hot march through summer and once again Green Day appears with an anthem to get us through, "Innocence never lasts; just wake me up when September's over . . .".


Contrary to popular belief neither Janis Joplin nor any member of her band composed "Summertime". It was originally a George Gershwin tune. The lady known as "The Pearl" nevertheless owns that tune in a special way.

And this weekend, the summer began in earnest here in the Bay Area under gorgeously clear skies with events popping off all over the place, Friday evening, things kicked off with Open Studios celebrations in the East Bay and with the rich Black and White Ball in Babylon where the Nabobs of Nob Hill snobbed and supped between lavish layouts bordered by black and white balloons and twisted crepe streamers and providing at least a decent living to a few hard working bands and an army of black and white attired servants.

You can read about the who's who and who's there in the social columns. This is not a social column so go away if that is what you want.

The vast majority of human beings cannot afford such pretense and so the younger sort could be found at the annual BFD, hosted by Live 105 this year at the Shoreline on Saturday and headlining Social Distortion and Sleater-Kinney.

Here on the Island we had our own Heartland Music Festival, kicking off at 11:00 and lasting through 7:00 PM with quite an enviable array of bands.

The festival, organized by the Rosenblum family and Peter of McGraths, was a benefit organized in support of the Music in the Schools Program. Peter has long held a passion for music; even the McGraths Pub is run largely as a function of his desire to provide a venue for qualified musicians to play, for the venue has never earned a profit and is not designed to ever do so. It is entirely a musician's paradise and a local gem.

As for the Festival, these sorts of things where talented people volunteer their time are absolute magnets for people who want to get in up close and watch top-notch bands

Take, for example, Tom Rigney and his Flambeau, which rocked the place with such extraordinary energy we were all amazed that people did not hop in the water and swim over the water from Babylon. That Rigney can really play the fiddle and make it cry or sing.

Another advantage to such affairs is that since so many are offering their time gratis as part of the benefit, the musicians tend to find the space where they really enjoy what they are doing and smiles are the order for the day, as evinced by the broad beam by the barrelhouse piano player Caroline Dahlia.

In our opinion, Rigney conducted an incendiary set worthy of any auditorium of some ten thousand more people with gusto, with style and with verve, characteristically jumping from the stage to sashay through the audience in the middle of a song.

After the Cajun sounds of Louisiana, we then were treated to the Chicago blues with Ron Thompson, complete in porkpie hat and all the trimmings.

Please note that both he and the bassist wear the green entry bracelets for the front gate. That means that not only have they volunteered their time to benefit the schools but they paid front gate admission to enter the grounds instead of entering through the "Employees Only Entrance."

Somewhat jarring against the energy of the preceding bands was the sound of an "old time dance band" which was placed in unfortunate juxtaposition to two high energy urban sound rock bands.

The booking decision caused the energy to flag significantly.

Which is unfortunate for these guys had traveled across the country to perform with earnest intensity their honest version of mountain bluegrass.

Houston Jones finished off the day and as Peter mentioned, many had come entirely to hear this one band, which appears on the rising star circuit.

Their set was plagued by sound problems due to loaned and inadequate equipment. HJ is quite an irrepressible band and it would take an earthquake, fire, flood and total electrical outage to set them halfway back. And in such circumstances, we feel they would still rock the house

HJ is powered by Travis Jones and Glen "Houston " Pomianek performs "high octane Americana", or what is increasingly these days being referred to as "roots music", in that they borrow heavily from the American Pop Songbook as it has developed over the years with a country-western twang to it but still possessed of rebellious ducktail rock 'n roll.

Houston typically parks himself on the periphery, calmly pulling enormously difficult extended phrases from his upside-down stringed guitars in the role of lead like the shy genius nerd at the high school dance reinventing the calculus by himself at a back table.

Travis is the pistol of the group, doing the vocals and rhythm guitar, cracking bawdy jokes and generally keeping these unruly gangsters in line with an infectious zest for life

Rounding out the front line is the multi-instrumentalist Wayne "Chojo" Jacques who, as with all members of the band, has contributed original material to their increasingly impressive repertoire down-on-their-luck drifters, condemned prisoners, long-ago lovers remembered in a found arcade booth photograph and Jehovah Witness strippers.

Everyone at the Festival, especially the performers, had a great time enjoying themselves and a fine time was had by all.

Also happening this weekend was the annual Haight Street Faire in Babylon and a union protest up in Berzerkeley where the usual gang of riot squad armed with baton and tear gas was not needed -- for the Boys in Blue were themselves walking the line this time.

Had a confab with our next door Buddy, Mike, who said, "Man that was the first time I ever been to a demonstration; usually I am on the Other Side!"

At issue was the Governator's recent threat to break all the major public unions in the State by cutting pension benefits and coming down hard on grade school teachers.

Oh such a big, strong Terminator Guy. No "girly man" he, to beat up a group of grade school teachers.


Upcoming events worthy of note include the notorious Margaret Cho 6/17 at Davies Hall. On 7/8 and 7/9 those impish acoustic Waifs appear at The Independent in the City. The Fox Theater down on the Peninsula hosts the rambunctious Indigo Girls, who are the V-twin engines of the acoustic world, and they will be fronted -- funnily enough -- by The Girly Men.

Widespread Panic, which is developing a buzz hereabouts, shows up at the venerable Greek in Berkeley on July 8-10 and local hardworking workmen of the blues, The Tommy Castro Band, plays Slims for what should be a dynamic show on the 18th of June.

From the BGP calendar we note that Coldplay does the Shoreline on the 18th of August. From the Bullwinkle we have a press release stating that there will be fun, games, balloons, waterslides and fireworks over the the Berkeley Marina on July 4th.


The latest flap here on the Island is a hot prowl incident in which a 55-year old woman surprised a burglar armed with a silver pistol who knocked her down in her house, took her purse and her TV and tied her up with cord from the Venetian blinds.

But since no traffic laws were broken during the incident the perpetrator got clean away.

Rumors are true: the 40 year veteran police chief Burnham "Bunny" Matthews is set to retire at age 60. Chief Matthews plans to take a cross-country motorcycle trip before settling down to cultivate geraniums with his family here on the Island. Matthews is widely credited with having cut the murder rate in half, from one every five years to one every ten and having whipped his thin blue line into the most formidable traffic enforcement agency in the world. His successor has not been announced.

Down on the corner the A&M cafe, which ever really served coffee as its proprietor, Mrs. Sanchez never liked the stuff, has closed its doors. Mrs. Sanchez never really recovered from the news of the last presidential election here, and unlike a lot of girly man liberals here who threatened expatriation at the time, made good on her promise to move to the Philippines.

And the taqueria El Caballo now serves hearty breakfast for those of you too bothered to rustle up some cornflakes, and they have gone through a complete makeover in the form of new linoleum floors, so you must know great things are happening at El Caballo.

And that's the news on the Island where all the women are strong, all the men good looking, and all the dogs above average.


Well the midnight trains have been howling and its well into two AM now. Everybody is scratching their heads about the events in Lodi where it seems the FBI has their dander up about a "terrierist cell" in that sleepy Valley town some 20 miles from Sacto.

Lodi is more of the gunrack in the back of the pickup truck kind of community where the people are more likely to vote Red than Blue and get along quite well with just about any farmer in the middle of, say, Iowa, which it much resembles. So it does come as a bit of surprise to find they got terriers running around nipping at the heels of Homeland Security and planning to blow up stuff.

It must be mentioned that nothing definitive has come to light here other than the fact that the boy attended a rather unusual summer camp in Pakastan where the counselors all toted AK-47s. Boys will be boys.

So the jury is still out on that one.

Incidentally we have, as a consequence of the prodigious effort enabled by the somewhat questionablely named Patriot Act, arrested some 200 people and convicted of those about 30 over the past two years; the rest were entirely innocent. The Patriot Act suspends due process, sanctions torture, dispenses with the right to privacy and otherwise tanks rights once guaranteed by the Constitution; FEEL SECURE NOW?

Well the beginning of another week is at hand after a weekend of sun, music and BBQ's here on the Island. The Showalters are gathering boxes for their big Move to a bigger place as the Showalter Baby is getting a bit larger, as babies are wont to do. Rachel, dancehall teacher, is all nervous and enthused about her new schedule of classes at the Metrodome. If you want to learn how to do the foxtrot or the tango at your wedding, well just head on over to the Metrodome.

Open Studios came to a successful close and there was much jubiliation among the tired artists on the Island. Sue and Jim ran about all day Sunday like little Capuchine monkeys until holes started wearing in their shoes and now they are curled up in their nest. Art is good for you.

Harlan is still putting out his crazy signs every few hours on Lincoln, but he had no open studio and the jasmine is starting a second bloom over by the old fence bordering the yard owned by the Old Judge.

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

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