Island Life Archive

June - December 2011

Vol. 13 Weekly News, Reviews, Music and Satire Sunday 2011

dasboot.gifWelcome to the second half of year 2011, the thirteenth year of continuously produced weekly editions of Island-Life.. The year's content is split into two parts to allow easier page loading for slower browsers. Each year tends to approach the equivalent of 380 typewritten pages.

To go to the present time, click on this hyperlink: NOW!




DECEMBER 25, 2011


Here is an image of the season. It's the traffic circle at Palmeria Court, which tends to show a lot of spirit from year to year during the Holidays. While our photographer was down there on Christmas night, a bagpiper by the name of Everett (of the clan MacGregor), and all of ten years old, came marching down the way followed by all the clan behind. The luminaria bags lining the circle also lined both sides of the street. They contained real tea candles.


Seems appropriate to wind up the year will one of our news surveys of what folks are talking about around the world right about now.


Well this year has been the year of the Arab Spring, so it behooves us to check in on Al Jazeera and have a look-see.

Big headline there is all about a rash of church bombings in Nigeria.

"At least 25 people have been killed by an explosion outside a church near the Nigerian capital during Christmas celebrations, according to a relief worker.

Witnesses also reported a string of other attacks, including a bomb and gun attack in the central town of Jos, two explosions in the northeastern town of Damaturu and one in the town of Gadaka, also in the northeast.

Boko Haram, an extremist group that advocates the enforcement of strict Islamic law in Nigeria, claimed responsibility for Sunday's church bombings.

Other headline stories went as follows:

Sudan army kills Darfur rebel leader
Sudan's army kills Justice and Equality Movement leader Khalil Ibrahim along with 30 of his troops in North Kordofan.

Suicide attack strikes Afghanistan funeral

This one got picked up by several countries.

Syrian activists denounce 'siege' of Homs.
The opposition Syrian National Council has appealed for the Arab League to immediately send observers to the besieged city of Homs and other areas where the Syrian government has used military force to stamp out dissent.

"Since early this morning, the [Homs] neighbourhood of Baba Amr has been under a tight siege and the threat of military invasion by an estimated 4,000 soldiers," the SNC said in a statement.

"This is in addition to the nonstop bombing of Homs that has been going on for days," the council, the main umbrella group of opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, said.

The central city of Homs has been a focal point of the Assad government's crackdown on nine months of anti-government demonstrations, as well as the site of fierce clashes between the army and former soldiers

Thousands rally for Pakistan's Imran Khan
Turnout in Karachi further cements cricket legend's status as a rising force in politics. Pakistan and Egypt both have recently seen large demonstrations by the people who demand the military relinquish power.

Egypt's military rulers are studying a proposal from their own advisers to bring forward parliamentary elections by two weeks after demands from protesters and politicians to speed up transition to civilian rule, an advisory council member said on Sunday.

Many Egyptians believe the army is no longer fit to manage security on the ground and carry out difficult reforms at a time of political and economic crisis.

Yoshihiko Noda, the Japanese prime minister, has reached Beijing for a bilateral meeting, but regional security - after the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il - is expected to be high on agenda.

"I would also like to make sure that Japan and China will work closely so that the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula will not be negatively impacted," the Japanese prime minister said on Sunday.

Noda will hold talks with China's President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during the visit, his first since coming to power in September.

Ties between the two regional powers have been dogged by economic and territorial disputes, but Kim's death has shifted the agenda to global worries about nuclear-armed North Korea, where Kim's young son Kim Jong-Un appears to be taking the reins of the state.

As for AJ's take on the US, there was, besides sports (they care about b-ball in Bahrain? Yep: "The signing of Paul from New Orleans Hornets could be a game-changer for the Clippers"] their report on what next for the Occupy movement here.

As presidential candidates and journalists descend upon Iowa once again for the US' first set of caucuses, another group of individuals are hoping to grab attention.

Occupy Iowa Caucus, a splinter group of Occupy Des Moines, has been busy organizing activities that they hope will have a greater impact on the rest of the 2012 presidential campaign season.

Similar to the broader Occupy Wall Street movement that began in September 2011, organizers of Occupy Iowa Caucus have been "occupying" streets, parks and financial districts to have their voices heard. This time, however, protesters are targeting presidential candidates at the beginning of their election and reelection campaigns.

Protesters have already begun staging sit-ins at party headquarters in Des Moines. On Monday, eight protesters were arrested at the Democratic Party headquarters after occupying President Barack Obama's reelection headquarters on Saturday. According to local newspapers, protesters said they refused to leave until Obama vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows US citizens to be detained without cause, and began prioritizing communities over corporations.

More sit-ins are planned at the end of the month to target Republican candidates.

"It doesn't matter if you're liberal or conservative... we are coming after you", chuckled Jessica Reznicek, one of the organizers who also heads Occupy Des Moines, explaining that all candidates, regardless of political affiliation, need to be held accountable.

There was also a continuing series on the military's rough handling of Wikileaks provider Bradley Manning.

Because it is Holy Week for many, where better to knipse your images than the place where it all began -- for Xians anyway.

Here is a shot of Manger Square in Bethlehem.

Near the wall that seperates Xian from Palastinian enclaves.

This is Jerusalem.

The Syrians have suffered much, but joy never stays down for long.


Anonymous hackt US-Sicherheitsinstitut Stratfor

Germany, also, reported on the continuing Manning Affair, albeit via the hacker group that calls itself Anonymous. Seems the whimsical hackers, who have appeared on video wearing masks imitating the one used by the actor in V for Vendetta, which itself was supposed to mimic the features of historical figure Guy Fawkes. About 400 years ago the man attempted to blow up Parliament with dynamite, failed and was executed for his incendiary efforts. The movie concerned a charismatic anti-hero who is fighting against a (somewhat) futuristic oppressive fascist regime.

In any case the hackers busted into the credit-card database for an American firm called Stratfor, supposed with the demand that Manning be allowed to enjoy a free meal at a chic-chic restaurant. Manning has been in harsh detention as his case moves toward a Military War Court. Or not as the case may be, for as we know, citizens can now be detained indefinitely without trial. And some people are upset about that.

Hunderte Amerikaner landen wegen Verwechslung im Knast

Ein Justizskandal erschüttert Kalifornien. Laut "Los Angeles Times" sperren Polizisten fast täglich Menschen ein, nur weil deren Namen ähnlich klingen wie die von Tatverdächtigen. Einige der unschuldigen Opfer schmorten gar mehrere Wochen hinter Gitter, ehe die Verwechslung aufgeklärt wurde.

We are not sure if all California is really "shaken" by the courts scandal mentioned here, but Der Spiegel reports that the LA Times carried a piece on how police are locking up hundreds of innocent people because their names "sound similar" to those on arrest warrants, sometimes for weeks at a time.

Banken rüsten sich für den Euro-Notfall

Finanzminister Schäuble verspricht, die Euro-Krise sei 2012 vorbei - doch manche Banken sehen das offenbar anders. Laut "Wall Street Journal" bereiten sie sich auf den Ernstfall vor: die Wiedereinführung nationaler Währungen in Europa.

Sounds a lot like our own wonks claiming the Great Recession is over -- when in fact, it is not -- when Minister of Finance Shauble declares the Euro-crisis is a thing of the past. Yes, tell us another one. A lot of banks, according to the report that quotes the Wall Street Journal, are dubious as well.

Wertpapiere: Luxemburgs Notenbank beichtet Panne

Just when you thought the small countries had all checked in with financial troubles here is another potential bankrupcy contender: Luxemburg's Notenbank.

Todesurteil in Iran: Hängen statt steinigen

Der Fall sorgte weltweit für Empörung. Vor Jahren verurteilte Iran die angebliche Ehebrecherin Sakine Mohammadi Aschtiani, sie sollte gesteinigt werden. Nun wird der Richterspruch offenbar umgewandelt: Der Frau droht der Tod durch den Strang.

Sakine Mohammadi Aschtiani made a mistake by enjoying adultery in Iran, which of course runs things by the inhuman Sharia law. Good thing those mullahs listen to world opinion and know mercy, for instead of being stoned to death -- surely a beastly and medieval action -- she now gets to enjoy death by hanging instead.

Nigeria: Mehrere Anschläge auf Kirchen - viele Tote

In Nigeria haben sich mehrere schwere Explosionen ereignet, die Anschläge richteten sich offenbar gegen Kirchen. Mindestens 40 Menschen kamen ums Leben. Eine radikalislamische Sekte hat sich zu den Taten bekannt. Viele Gläubige flüchteten aus den Weihnachtsmessen.

This one is all about the multiple Xmas bombings in Nigeria that have claimed a minimum of 40 dead.

* Kim Jong Ils Tod: Nordkorea wirft dem Süden mangelnde Trauer vor

The death of the dictator in North Korea causes a fair amount of anguish to the South, albeit not because anybody seriously misses the jerkoff. Every country we looked at is concerned about how the transfer of power will go to the twenty-something heir apparent to the dictatorship. South Korea has some reasons to be concerned.

* Ägypten: Militärs lassen Blogger frei

Ongoing reports on Egypt's post-Arab Spring response generally focus on what the military is going to do next. This report describes the release of bloggers who had been arrested for the usual bogus crimes. There is a lot of public complaint about the heavy-handedness of the military in Egypt, and mass demonstrations have been occuring to urge the military to release its grip on power and stop its more egregious abuses. One report focussed on the targetting of female protesters. Here a photo from Der Spiegel shows outrage at systematic rape.

* Afghanistan: Schwerer Terroranschlag nach Trauerfeier

More terrorist activity in Afganistan. This one is about the one that claimed lives at a funeral.


So anyway, this is the last Island-Life entry for the year 2011, which started out badly, got fairly miserable and wretched towards the middle, veered wildly into the horrific as the months advanced and ended up with a number of people dying but with a number of positive developments as well.

The Solstice passed this week for those pagans among us and each celebrated the annual shifting of the light according to his and her wont. Toni of the KQED transmitter engineer's booth got together with a few of her sisters to sing in the new year and put aside all the old regrets, much as good Wiccans are wont to do down by Crab Cove. This time they put out a lookout for Eunice, but Wootie Kanootie's sometime wayward moose remained this time penned up with the herd underneath the Park Street Bridge in the corral there where it was safe and warm as the weather had gotten brisk latterly and all the forecasters predicting rain.

Eugene Gallipagus got himself stinking drunk in the Old Same Place Bar as part of his own personal celebration such that Padraic had to call a cab to haul the reeling man home past the DUI checkpoints. Although he had failed to bag his limit this year at the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ, he was full of a story about he had a beautiful Russian Silverhair 15 pounder in his sights just before all hell broke loose and they all had been surrounded during a torrential downpour which had soaked everyone's powder. Indeed that was one which had gotten away from the man to his great regret.

children . . . are known to be much larger than what entered in the first place.

As most folks know Hanukkah rolled around this year coterminously with the goyishe holiday about the startling Virgin who had to have lost all that upon giving birth, for children -- even tiny godlike things -- are known to be much larger than what entered in the first place. In any case Eugene celebrated the Festival of Light by getting good and plastered once again with Myron, even though it was already the third or fourth night and he is not in the slightest bit Jewish and Myron is normally a good boy.

Ross . . . is sort of a clothier's version of the Monty Python cheese shop skit

So after the Jews in town started their 8 crazy nights, all the shiksas in town got together with their own bubbes and their sighing spouses to jollify for their own celebration even as all the retailers rubbed their hands and extended their hours to further torture their hapless employees with boisterous holiday glee. Even Ross, which here is sort of a clothier's version of the Monty Python cheese shop skit stocked its shelves in an unaccustomed manner for the duration. You could actually enter the men's department and find not just one, but two sizes of socks for a change, which many found to be a miracle.

Naturally, this sort of thing needed some celebratory juicing, so Eugene got good and soused with Frank Spats, the admin assistant for the buyer for Ross. That was on Friday. Getting to work on Saturday was a lead trailer for the certain hell that awaited that good Catholic boy and he failed to make the Midnight Mass.

Well, the Main Day, as most folks know and a few refuse to admit, happened on a Sunday, which found Eugene getting good and wrecked with The Man from Minot and a case of Fat Tire and then on to the Old Same Place Bar, where Achmed sat waiting patiently in his turban and his cab for the boy to be boosted out of there in what seemed to be fast becoming a tradition.

"Man, I had that puppy right in my sights," Eugene said. "He was big enough to win the prize. I coulda been a contender."

"Yeah, yeah," Achmed said. "You know what I think?"

"What you think?"

"I think you should celebrate Ramadan. It would be far, far healthier for you."

"I think you should celebrate Ramadan. It would be far, far healthier for you."

"No kiddin? You drink a lot for Ramadan?"

"O no meme sahib. We do not allow alcohol at any time! That is against the Koran!"

"Yeah well, they grow a lot of poppies over there where you grew up." Eugene said.

"The Prophet said nothing about poppies or opium." Achmed said.

Tradition. Everyone has their own and in this time of Holidays there are many. Mr. Howitzer stood in the foyer on Saturday evening while his employee, Robert Ratchet tried to explain that the report could not be done because the server had crashed.

"It's 5 o'clock, sir. On Saturday night."

"It is not night, sir. I look out there and I see trees and houses perfectly well," Mr. Howitzer said. "It is not night but afternoon, or evening at the worst perhaps. It is not night!" Mr. Howitzer rapped his walking stick upon the tiles.

"Woof!" said Eisenhower, his dog, expecting something to happen.

"Sir, it is difficult to obtain assistance right now. . . ".

"Difficult? I am difficult! I reserve that cheerful attribute for myself. Offer sufficient fee and things can be made to happen. Money changes everything. I wish to have my report in hand by morning and I will have it!"

"Sir, it is Christmas Eve. Sir."

This is the problem with America today. People do not wish to work.

"What of that!? This is the problem with America today. People do not wish to work. That is simple. Some people do not wish to work. Mark you, if every one of those on the unemployment rolls would simply start working the entire problem would be solved! Now see you!"

Mr. Howitzer rapped his stick again upon the tiles.

"Sir there is nothing I can do. The Server is down and . . . ".

"O for the sake of god be out of my sight. For you offend my eyes. I'll get someone capable to do the work. Until then, you can consider yourself let go. Begone!"

"Sir, I am only saying . . .".

"Dodd! Remove this man! Like you handled the pig. That pig you know. Ah!"

Mr. Howitzer turned and ascended the marble staircase to his studio.

Mr. Ratchet stood there aghast and trembling until Dodd approached. Dodd had dealt with Mr. Howitzer for quite a while and he knew his master's issues.

"I have just been fired, Dodd! On Christmas Eve on the day I am supposed to be off anyway!"

"It's all right," Dodd said. "I know the man. Just go home and enjoy your family. I will handle it."

"Thank you Dodd! God bless you! Thank you!"

The pig to whom Mr. Howitzer referred was Hermano

Dodd sighed and heavily ascended the stairs. The pig to whom Mr. Howitzer referred was Hermano, who had been intended as the main course one memorable evening until the entire luau had imploded during an invasion of local raccoons, resulting in Hermano being sent back to the farm, there to while away his days in happy pig slop porcine happiness.

Mr. Howitzer had already locked himself in for the night into his studio with a bottle of South African port, and nothing more was to be done. The server would have to wait as well as the report and Mr. Ratchet's ultimate fate.

Dodd descended the staircase, which had been the model for a Fred Astaire scene with Ginger Rogers way back in the day and left the manse to attend to his own personal Holiday demands.

Alone in his studio, Mr. Howitzer fell asleep in his plush leather chair as the illegal fire crackled in the fireplace, this being a Bay Area Spare the Air day.

Mr. Howitzer awoke in his chair to the sound of someone coming into the room.

Sometime shortly before midnight, Mr. Howitzer suddenly awoke in his chair to the sound of someone coming into the room.

He looked at the clock on the mantel - 11:55pm. The door was locked but someone had just come in! In a panic he stood to go to the desk, but the man stood there between him and the drawer which held his loaded revolver.

"Who are you? What are you doing here!" shouted Mr. Howitzer.

The man lifted an old-fashioned kerosene lantern and as he did so, Mr. Howitzer heard a rattling of heavy chains.

"Good god, Jacob Burbage! It's you!" Mr. Howitzer exclaimed.

"No need to shout Harry," the figure said. "I may be dead but I can hear you well enough. Indeed, everyone in Hell can hear you nearly every day."

Shackles bound his arms to his ankles

The figure standing their wore a business suit which had seen better days quite a while ago. It was torn at the shoulders and the elbows and his tie was wrinkled and stained as well. He was covered in dust from his tangled hair to his scuffed brown shoes, even his lined, careworn face, lean with deep eyesockets from which unhealthy yellow eyes looked at Mr. Howitzer by the light of the lamp. Shackles bound his arms to his ankles, however the chains were long enough to allow him relative freedom of movement. The chain that linked his ankles together was so long that he carried the loop behind his back and over his left shoulder.

"How is this possible? I went to your funeral. I saw you there in the casket wearing your Elk's club ring! In the name of god what . . .!"

"Oooooooooooooh!" Jacob Burbage wailed and the hairs on the back of Howitzer's neck stood up. "Oooooooooh do not speak that name! He cannot help you now, Howitzer! You must help yourself!"

"Ah, yes, quite right. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps is what I say. . .".

"Idiot!" Burbage thundered.

"Shhhhh! You'll wake the children . . .".

"Eh . . .". This brought the specter up short. "You HAVE no children!"

"I mean the neighbors. The property values are already bad enough around here . . . ".

"Oh shut up! You were always a fool in business as well as everything else. . .".

"Well I never liked you either . . .".

"In the name of Moloch be quiet! You have just one chance to save your miserable, parched soul this night or you too will be condemned for eternity to walk the earth in chains and visit numbskulls like you!"

"What's your plan, Burbage? I don't have all night you know."

"Oooooooooooooh . . ."!

"O for Pete's sake . . .".

I can see your end and it will be lugubrious and pathetic!

"Oooooooooh! Your time is shorter than you think! I can see your end and it will be lugubrious and pathetic! Pathetic!"

"Really!? What's the way, if I may ask?"

"It shall be . . . lentil soup!"

"Lentil soup? I don't even like lentil soup . . .".

"Oooooooooooooo! Mark my words! You shall be visited this night by one Spirit of Christmas. And you had better pay attention!"

"Well that's the usual way the story . . . wait a minute! You said one Spirit? Just one?"


"Why just one? Are there not usually three or four? I think I deserve more than just one!"

"Oooooooooooooo . . .! Cutbacks!"


"The salvation program has been cutback, just like all the others. Mostly because of pinchpennies like YOU! To tell you the truth, the Board decided you just are not worth the extra expense."

"Now really . . ."!

"This is what you get when you cut back government to nothing, Howitzer. Everything, and every body, goes to hell."

"Please don't tell me the Hereafter is run by a bunch of liberals. That really would be Hell . . .". Mr. Howitzer began to complain.

"Only you can save your soul now, Harry Howitzer. Oooooooooooooo!"

There was a flash and Jacob Burbage, his old business partner was gone, leaving behind a faint odor of sulfur.

"I wonder how he did that echo effect with his voice"

"I wonder how he did that echo effect with his voice". Mr. Howitzer said to himself. He went to his desk, made sure the pistol was there, then left the study to go to his bedroom. He hesitated a moment and then returned to the study to fetch the bottle of port. Down the hall he had another mental revision and returned for the pistol. So with pistol and bottle he returned to his bedroom. He set down the pistol, snapped back two slugs of port in quick succession, then snapped back two more.

He started to feel more courageous and, pointing his head up at the ceiling, said loudly, "I just want you to know I don't care about the god damned curtains!" Then he wondered who he might really be talking to, so he downed a couple more shots of port and, looking down between his feet said, "I don't care about the curtains! That was Scrooge! He turned out to be a damned liberal in the end anyway!"

"Who the devil are you talking to, if I may ask, with all due respect," a voice said.

Howitzer grabbed the pistol. "I'll fix you!"

"I doubt that." The voice came from a figure near the window.

Mr. Howitzer gasped. His pistol had turned into a brightly colored macaw in his hand. Which reached around and bit the meat of his thumb.

Mr. Howitzer shrieked and the bird flew over to the figure who stepped forward into the light. The bird landed on his shoulder. He wore black horn-rim glasses, a funereal-looking black suit, had a lean look to his face, and seemed to be barely thirty years of age.

"So you are the Spirit of Christmas Future, I take it," Mr. Howitzer said. He sucked his injured thumb.

I do deal in futures . . .

"Well, no. I do deal in futures, but not yours. I am not the spirit of anything in particular."

"You are an angel?"


"You are a devil?"


"What are you?"

"I am an accountant."

"An accountant. They sent me an accountant. And this is about my soul."

"That's right."

"I do not understand. Who or what are you?"

your soul is seriously in arrears

"I work for the Temporal Salvation Agency. The Spirits are all out handling more valuable merchandise right now. People with souls worth saving. Wounded soldiers. A couple Stateswomen who really need it. Children of course are always more valuable than old geezers like you. As for you, your soul is seriously in arrears. You have not paid anything into your account for years and years."

"I cannot believe I got sent an accountant. . .".

"Fair" is a word you types often use

"They thought you would understand. A man like you. Someone who believes you cannot spend beyond your means. Someone who insists on a balanced budget, no matter what the real cost happens to be at the end of the day. We only want to be fair. "Fair" is a word you types often use when you really mean hard and mean-spirited, but we really do mean fair."

"Fair. . .".

"Believe me, Mr. Howitzer, I cannot tell a lie. That is simply not possible."

"What do you want me to do?"

"You . . . its really what you want to do for yourself, you see."

"Give me a few suggestions".

"You could start by fixing up the place on Otis so that it is more habitable, patch up that burn hole in the porch . . .".

"There is a hole in the porch? How did it get there? Who is responsible . . .".

Fortunately no one died.

"Don't ask. It was Javier's fiftieth birthday and things did not go well. Fortunately no one died. In addition to fixing up the place (as well as being happy for your tenants no one died during that incident) you could lower the obscene rents there and in a few more places . . .".


"You could also pay the bail to get Andre, your chief leaseholder there, out of jail."

"That miserable punk is in jail? He probably deserves it."

"He does not. As for most of those who have a run-in with Officer Popinjay. You could have some sympathy for a boy who is spending a cold night on Christmas in a jail cell with no blanket."

"What did he do to get in there?"

"O Howitzer, it does not matter. He cussed out Officer Popinjay."

"Well, he deserves it. For one, he is disreputable, for another he has tattoos and that looks back on the neighborhood, and for another, malefactors must be punished."

"I guess you are not going to lower the obscene rents . . .".

"Not on my soul . . .". Mr. Howitzer said, before he quite realized what he was saying.

"You probably do not think so much of the Occupy Movement either."

"They . . . they interfere with business. They all need to get a job! Simple as that."

"Yes, well I can see how people protesting high unemployment and their own unemployed status would be best off changing that condition," the accountant said dryly. "That logic certainly fits together nicely. And as for Andre in jail?"

"Why should I pay the debts of a man who needs to pay his own way out of his situation? He's a malefactor and he needs to pay for it. Learn his lesson the hard way. It will stick."

"All malefactors should be punished?"

"Of course."

"I agree. I am an accountant after all. Good evening, Mr. Howitzer."

"That's it? That's all? No more visits? No jolly man in a red suit?"

"No, that's it. That's all we could afford."

"No creepy Mr. Death and visits to the graveyard or Tiny Tim or peeping in on weeping parents?"

The accountant laughed. "No, there will be no Mr. Death. Not like that for you. This is all we could afford."


"That's right. Cutbacks." The bird croaked the word as well.

Mr. Howitzer awoke in his own bed holding a banana in a bandaged hand. The following week passed pretty much as usual until New Year's Eve.

A blind man stood in the middle of the intersection of Park Street and Santa Clara.

A blind man stood in the middle of the intersection of Park Street and Santa Clara. He held an orchestra baton in one hand and what looked like a long horn in the other. Because he was blind, no one could see him and the cars passed through the intersection as the light changed, narrowly whispering past his hips as he stood there. Because it was New Years Eve, the sidewalks and street were thronged with traffic.

From someone's window somewhere the sound of a slow oompah with timpani drifted on the air.

Susan and Lynette came down the way on their bicycles, stopped in the alley that goes to the post office on Park Avenue, and chained up their bikes. Lynette unstrapped a tureen of lentil soup from the back of her bike and the two went up the way, laughing and chatting to one another. They paused at the light across from the Slut Hut Coffeeshop and several people joined them while waiting for the light to change, including a fashionably dressed woman leading a Pomeranian on a leash. The Pom sat obediently.

The blind man gestured with his baton. Still, no one noticed him.

The light changed and the blind man waved his baton to usher the pedestrians into the crosswalk, where, he gestured again as Eugene Gallipagus, nursing a hangover from the week's festivities, holidays, and all whatnot, sipped a hot cup of coffee with bleary eyes in his pickup truck heading down Park Street.

Mr. Howitzer stepped out of a property he had been inspecting over on Park Avenue, a place where tenants had been complaining about a strong electrical smell for no apparent reason for a while, and rounded the corner of the Firestation there to head up Park Street from the opposition direction as the blind man beckoned him with the baton.

(the) fixture blew up with a most spectacular flash.

Behind him, in the building he had just left, a tenant plugged an electrical cord into another, smaller electrical cord and then plugged that into a 2000 watt space heater of late 1970's vintage. When it went, it went all along the suddenly superheated electrical cords to the outlet, which Mr. Howitzer's nonunion electrician had fitted with a bogus three pole fixture without hooking up the ground. That fixture blew up with a most spectacular flash. Everyone in the place ran out and smoke billowed from a half-open window.

A laughing couple came down from Yumi Ya, which is on the second floor there. They carried a warm doggie box of unagi, Kobe beef bento, and lobster roll.

The Man from Minot, finishing up a foundation stabilization job came towards them carrying a couple 6 foot 3 by 4 boards over his shoulder.

A knot of friends stood in the doorway of Juanitas, talking and laughing.

Mr. Howitzer's macaw, which had escaped a few years ago from its cage, flew in front of Eugene's windshield, startling him into dropping the coffee in his lap just as he approached the light. Eugene screamed, loud enough for the Man from Minot to hear. The Man from Minot half turned to look at Eugene who slammed on his brakes short of the crosswalk.

The couple quickly ducked beneath the boards which had nearly hit them in the face, but lost the bento box which broke open and scattered across the pavement.

The blind man waved his baton. The oompah music played on the air, almost as if he had direction.

the fatal tureen loaded with lentil soup went flying into the air

The Pomeranian, seeing Kobe gold scattered there, broke loose from his leash and dashed for the vittles, tangling up Lynette's legs as she stepped forward. She spun, the blind man twirled, the tureen, the fatal tureen loaded with lentil soup, went flying into the air; up up it went, almost as if levitated by magic. But then gravity held sway and the thing came crashing down to shatter into a thousand pieces of lentil and soup and ceramic -- ten feet in front of Mr. Howitzer.

It was this sight, right in front of Juanitas, which caused Jose and Javier coming out of the place after paying for their goat barbacoa to pause with the door open.

The blind man raised the trumpet to his lips and blew.

A gust of wind whipped through Juanita's to snatch up Javier's ten dollar bill and carry it out the door between the people gathered there right past Jose's nose and down the sidewalk.

Jose, eye's lighting up, ran after the sawbuck.

Mr. Howitzer, having seen the tureen break apart had paused to cross over the street to the other side - hah! lentil soup indeed!

So, after successfully avoiding the fatal lentil soup, he now saw Jose and the ten spot and, as fire sirens started up somewhere, the spirit of capitalist competition got into him. It could be no other way with Mr. Howitzer. The strongest and the fittest get the prize. With Jose racing after the money from one side Mr. Howitzer ran from the other, figuring he would use his walking stick if necessary when he got there.

The blind man puffed lightly on his horn and the ten spot danced coquettishly into the street, performing a little jete and a pirouette right in front of the two men. Mr. Howitzer thrust his stick at Jose, saving his life in fact, as he, the champion of property and capital, the somewhat successful business man and chief owner of the property management firm of Howitzer and Burbage, stepped right out there into the street to seize what was his due.

Right in front of the oncoming firetruck.

As the blind man took his bow to invisible applause, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the fateful grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way blindly past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, as it headed off on its own holiday journey to parts unknown and to meet its own destiny.

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

DECEMBER 18, 2011


This week the headline foto comes from irrepressible Tammy of Alameda Street where a certain visitor is wont to drop by for tuck and a sip.

Some property management people don't like trees growing up against the buildings, but we are happy that the folks who maintain this building are more enlightened than most.


A number of items on the table have continued to pester Silly Hall and vex the citizens into this week. For all our faults, we are not a folk that possesses the attention-span of mosquitos which seems so endemic of other parts of the country. Pitbulls is more like us, for there is no serious issue that will not be seized by the patient jaws of the populace here to be worried to death or resolved one way or another.


As noted in the Sun, the annual rash of Holiday burgluries is taking place, pretty much on schedule, but with a focus on the East End. The helpful crimemapping services show that the area east of Park Street bounded by Broadway, Central, High and the Estuary has been hit by 19 burgluries from 11/1 to 12/6. The APD has been unhelpful, according to report by Spotcrime, with the local police forces wishing to minimize the effects of accurate crime stats on public pressure to do something for target neighborhoods -- the Island is not alone in this reporting resistance, as typically most municipal agencies dislike "sunshine" laws and open reporting which can have effects upon department budgets as well as bring down the "heat" from outraged citizenry.

Did you know it is state law mandated by the Supreme Court that all police agencies must reveal the names, ranks, salaries of each and every employee within the local department? But just try to get that info and see how many punitive traffic tickets you get.

While it would seem an informed citizenry in a democratic society would benefit from open reporting, and local agencies do well with the citizen collaboration they so often claim is important and necessary, the truth boils down to politics pure and simple.

Rather than take an adversarial approach, we advocate strong cooperation between citizens and the local police to the benefit of both parties. Right now the Island enjoys an unusually well staffed police force, so it is well for us to take advantage and call APD whenever anything suspicious is observed. Let the courts work on this open reporting issue. It would, given the parlous economic times, be helpful for the Department to come clean and list -- as is required by law - names, ranks, and salaries of all personnel, so that the citizens can determine what are the real financial needs at present. Hey, we all are suffering through cutbacks right now. Time for the APD to present its case honestly. Its not like no one has died because of budget issues, now, is it? Remember Memorial Day?


The current America's Cup is taking place in San Diego, however next year will see the prestigious yacht race happening here in the Bay, an event that is sure by its nature to draw tons of well-heeled folks from all over the world. The gold-mine here is likely to profit the area some 1.4 billion dollars. That is billion, my friends, not million. Even though the race segment is centered in Babylon across the way, a city known for its profligacy and loose morals (yea!), we have drawn up a committee to look into drawing a sliver of that economic pie to the Island. The race is actually a series of seperate events, each located in a different part of the world, with Italy hosting the "reeeelly big shew" in September of 2013, however, each event is notable and essential for participants earning the coveted Louis Vuitton Cup.

While its a little comical for our tiny Island to compete for dollars with Babylon, the City that Used to Know How and Italy, still, we do have a long beach with warmer water than off SF's Ocean Beach, and we have nicer people by far. This is, after all, the Warmer Side of the Bay. Just remember that catch phrase, folks.


O that someone in Silly Hall had been more in-tune with Treebeard when he said those immortal lines in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. The flap continues about the laying waste to the thing that gave the island its name "Alameda" on Park Street and the public's response to the statement "it will be just like Webster", which looks barren and aweful these days.

Some call for a merchant boycott, which of course makes little sense, and others call for installation of "mature trees", which is likely improbable given the need for complex root systems, and others call for blood, which is the more likely scenario. Silly Hall is responding with a study into "tree policy", which means they are going to do what they wanted to do all along, largely because the worst damage has already been done.

You live in a town with a name that translates into "tree-lined avenue" and then cut down the trees, you oughta expect some serious flack. Was Rob Ratto in outer space when he machinated this deal?


Well, we said it. Will Mick Jagger and Keith Richards now step up to the plate? Maybe Lady Gaga? "O baby you gotta drop your ball into my hole / yeah yeah yeah! / I was born this way!"

Well, maybe not. In any case, the 12/13 Silly Hall meeting about the land swap got shoved over to next year, for understandable reasons and the group Alameda Citzen's Task Force has been right on top of it all -- god bless them, each and every one. The next meeting is 3/6/12, but the ACT is not waiting around for dubious results. They have re-instituted a voter's initiative to plug a loophole in the the 1992 Measure C Charter Amendment that forbade the gifting of public parkland to private developers.

You know, sometimes we Islanders can be sharp, for back then we knew that the Avaricious Few had designs on this place. 83% of the voters approved the measure, which unfortunately left a sliver of an out for Cowan and Co. to take advantage. We need to plug that hole and halt this maniacal build, build, build on every square inch of the place or we will be Manhattanized and ruined. Support the new initiative and support the intent of the original law and support ACT.

In further news on this issue, the 346 member homeowner's association of Bay Farm Island recently voted unanimously to oppose the odious landswap. These are folks with a lot of money and they are not to be ignored by any means, so if the swap goes forward, you can be assured, "there will be blood." That sure would make a great movie title now wouldn't it?


Well don't you follow the lead of old St. Nick in that song. Crackdown on drunk drivers began Friday with random checkpoints continuing through January 1 in the annual exercise known as "Avoid the 21", named for the 21 police agencies that rigorously enforce the DUI laws across 39 counties. Last year the effort brought in 748 DUI arrests to bolster local city coffers and really mess up people's lives for several years following.

Its no joke. Do not drink and drive this year, especially if you plan on attending the Oakland Raiders game against the Detroit Lions. Officer O'Madhauen is watching you.


You may have noticed that the last troops left the benighted country of Iraq, leaving that people to deal with its own problems, which is probably what should have been from the beginning. It was a wretched, misbegotten war initiated by a proud, idiotic, and foolish Administration on false pretenses which lasted nine years and cost thousands of American lives, not to mention hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis who never lifted a finger against a single American until the invasion. Well, its over. Eff it all and eff the a--holes who started this horrible, horrible thing. Now its over and the Iraqis have their own country back, for better or for worse.


So anyway the weather has been cold -- for SoCal folks -- with frost in the mornings, chill fog and gelid, slow light during the short days. This week, Wiccans will celebrate the Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year. Old Gaia, sitting there on the porch of the World wrapped in a Chief Joseph blanket while sitting in her ancient rocking chair will turn her ravined face of mountains and deserts to the furthest shadow from the sun as she dozes during her eternal set.

Only after the 21st will she ever so slowly turn her face back to enjoy the warmth of her sun, Apollo, as he courses in his flaming chariot across the heavens.

The annual Horror Day period is a long stretch of misery

This Tuesday, the Festival of Lights coincides fortuitously with that goyishe holiday known as Xmas, which is always a nice thing when it happens. The annual Horror Day period is a long stretch of misery only broken by violent and troubled sections of destructive savagery, chiefly involving family and shattered expectations with nobody getting what they really wanted and all one's free time steamed away in sweaty dinner preparations for relations who really hate you and your politics, while the kids continually misbehave and wind up equally disappointed with broken toys that only served to bolster China's lock on our lives and livelihoods. Then there is the execrable weather and the miserable obligatory travel with all the unpleasantness in this post 9/11 world that entails.

T'was ever thus.

Who the hell ever thought that Xmas was some kind of pleasant effing reverie of times past -- which never existed -- and some kind of relaxing bowl of delight? That person was an idiot or a Jimmy Stewart in a Hollywood fantasy.

No, we get a brief, all too brief, break from working for the Boss to wind up exhausted and ennervated, spreadeagled upon the carpet among the tatters of paper wrappings, ribbons and flammable pine needles that will endure an hour's worth of vacuuming to remove after a frenzy of family interactions and mall rampages involving pepper-spray and lunatic shoving idiots. Then there is the subsequent several months of working to pay off the credit card damages.

O god, why go through this?

In Marlene and Andre's household, the group all rests quietly after the meal that was prepared courtesy of the Food Bank largesse. No one could make the Tuesday turkey giveaway before Thanksgiving where some 600 folks stood in line for several hours, so that day turned out to be rather thin as far as provisions went. People had to satisfy themselves with lentil soup except for those who went over to St. Anthony's or Christchurch for the mass feeding there with all of its religiousity penalties.

Fortunately, a few extra birds were left over, which allowed the humble household to enjoy a fine turkey feast after all. Because of the cold, all the folks who slept on the beach and other outdoor places had packed into the one bedroom cottage that was home to fifteen souls seeking respite from the obscene rents charged by avaricious landlords on the Island.

Mancini had rigged blinking LED lights around the window and the stolen douglas fir sitting in its washtub basin also was drapped with the household's colorful version of decorations, which consisted of foil-wrapped condoms, hand-made Natividad papel, paper-clip glass ocean-drift, and found objects of all kinds for this was an humble poor household of Californians of all kinds who did not find the motherlode, never inherited vast wealth of oilfields, never found the Big Bonanza, which really covers most folks in the Golden State when you think about it.

Absent that evening was Andre who at that moment cooled his heels in the City jail.

As it turned out, Andre had been stopped on Park Street for "walking suspicious," meaning Officer Popinjay imagined in his zeal of missing participation in the "Avoid the 21" that he could still participate on the street by means of vigorous enforcement.

Officer Popinjay, it should be mentioned, was of such a condition that he could never sit upon his hands and just relax, but needs be jumping up and leaping into the fray, whether such a fray existed or not. Gifted with a virtual day off the man lept into action issuing citations and arrests right and left.

Which may explain why the man had not risen in rank over the course of twenty-five years of service. Perhaps arresting the Mayor for jaywalking started his career on a bad leg.

In any case, Andre ran afoul of Officer Popinjay and responded pretty much according to his American democratic nature by saying "eff you" at every opportunity to authority. Which did not work out to Andre's benefit in this case.

"So I see you are walking like this. . . ".

"Eff you!"

"O I do not like the manner of your talk young man!"

"Eff you!"

"Now I will give you one more chance to . . .".

"Eff you! And if you don't like it, eff you some more!"

Power is power. . . that is the way of the world.

The end result found Andre in the tank under dubious charges, however, Power is power and he remained in the tank for the duration; that is the way of the world. Around the world, whether dictatorship or Banana Republic, communist or republic, police remain the same all over. You know the drill. This thing democracy is a fine idea, and would be nice if ever somebody decided to institute such a thing. Now, apparently, is not the time. Some of you know this to be true.

Well, the end result is that Marlene worried herself sick while Andre remained in the tank, which apparentl is now in post 9/11 America a place they can keep you forever now that niceties like habeaus corpus and such have been done away with for the moment so Marlene had good reason to be worried while Andre continued to spout things like "Eff all effed-up Ameri-caca, land of the unfree and effed up!" while in jail.

The FBI and TSA had been called in. They wanted to know about any Islamic influences. Things did not look good for Xmas and Marlene was worried.

America had become a wierd place in this century

Now it had come down to the darkest nights of the year, while the earth was still spinning towards its nadir of shadow. All the household residents sat and lay about there with their plates, feeling fully sated after a good meal, but Marlene paced anxiously back and forth, unable to settle down. America had become a wierd place in this century and her beloved was in trouble. The phone call had not helped.

"You bastard, what were you thinking or do you ever think at all!" Marlene screamed.

"Eff you," Andre said, predictably.

"So now you curse at me." Marlene said. "After all I have done for you."

She heard his weeping at the end of the line but chose to ignore it. Stupid ass.

Well it turned out, even with the jail conditions, to be an average holiday argument. That is the way things go in this time of year. It's a Tradition.

"Um," offered Mancini. "When is the last time you gave Andre a blow-job? Huh?"

Some suggestions are less than helpful.

Some suggestions are less than helpful. Especially when they point to embarrassing truths.

As the night advanced along its track set forth long ago on the round of the galactic Milky Way the various denizens of the Household turned in to their sleeping bags and the broad wheel of stars rotated to another position, a cloud of sparkles or a dark blanket with holes punched in it.

Marlene found herself sitting on the couch facing the stolen Xmas tree with its wild lights and tinfoil tinsel with Adam falling asleep in her lap.

"Don't" worry Marlene," little Adam said. "Andre be back soon enough. I been lost on the outside plenty time."

Out of the mouths of babes. Indeed, some say it was a babe born in this time who saved the world. So some say. Its not known if all who say do believe.

In any case the Festival of Light is at hand, and in the flicker of a lamp there is some small hope. Is not that what the decorated Xmas tree is all about? Or is it all just garish glitter and show, empty of meaning while some gunner waits on a mountain-top in Pakistan, encased by barbed wire and sandbags.

While the Madonna and Child sat in the house of the lost and the lonely, the tree blinked and glittered and did all what it was asked to do.

The only thing lacking was mercy.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the patient grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, with its bright headlamp shining bright as star piercing the darkness of our times as it headed off on its own holiday journey to parts unknown.

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


DECEMBER 11, 2011


This week's headline photo comes from Island-Lifer Tammy who sets forth on the Bay from time to time and is a moody shot of the western span of the Bay Bridge as it departs Treasure Island.


The staff had the flu, so nobody did nothing and nobody went anywhere. This weekend KFOG held its annual Concerts for Kids with Death Cab for Cutie holding forth at the Masonic to a sold-out audience. Live 105 returned to the Oracle Arena for its own Not So Silent Night Concert which also apparently sold out.


So anyway folks came out this week to puzzle around the trunks of their cars to locate long unused ice scrapers this week as commuters found unaccustomed frost packing the window glass of their cars in the early AM.

Here and there houses put out their strings of holiday lights and lawn installations. The inflateable Santas and the robotic reindeer, except that in some neighborhoods homeowners felt the need to attach burgler alarms to their lawn orniments, as theft has become too common now-a-days.

Sister Beatrice has been running around like mad with her black skirts flying all over the grounds of the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint trying to get the annual Xmas pageant and the banquet together, and Father Danyluk has been of minimal help, minimal help. At least that is how Sister Beatrice sees it, however Father Danyluk saw that the chorus was wanting of good tenor voices, so he dropped on in with a bottle of good madeira to his friend, Pastor Nyquist at the Lutheran Immanuel church to borrow the loan of a few good voices for the night, and so rounded out things quite nicely without Sister Beatrice being in any way the slightest bit the wiser.

". . . praise god but she is daffy as a Disney cartoon. . ."

"Honestly, Father, everything is all this way and that! What on earth shall I do about Sister Agnes and the caterer on Saturday and all the decorations in the hands of that Sister Cicatrice who is a nimbus brain -- praise god but she is daffy as a Disney cartoon -- and then there is the butter . . .".

"Sister Beatrice," Father Danyluk said. "Just chill, for god's sake. It will all get done somehow. It always does."

"O! And the rolls are in the oven!" Sister Beatrice jumped right up and ran out the door.

"O for Pete's sake," Father Danyluk said.

Some people just cannot leave be and must needs be making a fuss at every moment until every production becomes an opera of vast proportions when just letting it all go becomes the best thing.

Frantic scurries of the mice flitted in shadows

It was the night of the Full Harvest Moon, and the Staff had just finished putting the Annual Island Life Holiday CD project to bed. This year, the 13th Issue was a Deluxe 2 CD set with 90 minutes of stuff. While the Editor reviewed the liner notes galley sheets Denby went out into the garden as the chill dew began beading on the wall of jasmine out along the Old Fence. Frantic scurries of the mice flitted in shadows beneath the overhangs and his breath billowed in clouds on the frosty air. He remembered how years ago, while on a solo tour, he had been heading north out of Helena when his Mustang had stumbled, coughed and died up on the hill above the town and he had stepped out into the lightless chill above the distant lights of the town below, the immense wheel of stars revolving above, each pinprick sharp as a pinnacle of ice.

This place as good a place to die as any. Tonight was a good night.

Car dead. No cell phone. Miles from anyplace but someplace viewable from up there on the ridge road on a Sunday evening while the temperature dropped lower and lower. If he started walking right away,he might make the edge of town about sunrise, but he doubted that he would make it that far in this weather. The radio has said it would drop to minus thirty that night. His breath puffed out in the frigid air and hung in miniature clouds. It did not seem likely that anyone would be heading north from Helena, Montana at this time of night on a Sunday evening. He took out his harmonica and started a slow investigation of the lower registers until he stopped shivering from the cold. This place as good a place to die as any. Tonight was a good night. As good as any other.

To his amazement a pair of headlights travelling up the hill pause and came to a stop on the shoulder just behind his Mustang.

"Beautiful spot to practice," said the driver, who turned out to be a country-western singer on the road to his own next gig. The man pushed back a large Stetson on his head. "But don't have time to jam right now. You need a lift?"

Salvation comes in unlikely forms, often unexpected, often undeserved.

The Editor, sitting in his chair in his cubicle remembered stumbling into camp, drenched in sweat and with soggy boots, his rifle useless from when he had thrown it down into the muck while wandering lost in the jungle away from his unit in a panic. He got away from the next man over when some enemy fire came in -- just a few bursts with everyone scattering this way and that, followed by endless hours of sloshing through a green, wet arbor with the taste of metal in his mouth, expecting to trip a wire or step on something any moment, green moss, green plants, green water, green butterflies hovering before his eyes.

He sat down on a log, thinking about life and swatting bugs, thinking this was a really stupid way to die, feeling more lost and more alone than he ever had.

Then, he heard the sound of Ray singing that stupid song entirely out of tune the way he always did, "I'm gonna take you higher". Goddammit Ray. Quite suddenly tromping in on dry land with the tents and the camo mesh hanging and someone saying, "Hey, where you been?" Saved. For now.

Xavier, Pahrump, Javier and Jose went out to hunt for the holiday tree in their usual semi-illegal manner. They hunted around the former Navy Base without success, but in coming back they spied a likely victim in a lot along the estuary next to a truck that seemed unwatched for the moment. In short order the crew tumbled back to the house with their captured tree in the bed of the flexible flyer red wagon and soon had the scraggly thing propped in the old washtub with a cinderblock base. Andre and Marlene drapped the fellow with torn aluminum foil, scrap plastic and Martini's home-made lights fashioned from cannibalized computer parts.

Each member of the household contributed orniments from his or her own private supplies. Suan hung bright foil-wrapped condoms from the Crazy Horse Saloon. Xavier and Jose hung papel picado, and Tipitina hung stars made from office paperclips.

Although some idiots had claimed the Great Recession had ended a year ago, or so, times remained harsh for all of them with little acknowledgement anything had changed for the better. They all felt grateful enough to have each other for the moment.

Because of the weather, all of them were sleeping in the cottage now, which was just as well for nobody could afford heat and all the extra bodies kept the place warm enough.

As folks turned in to their sleeping bags for the night, Andre and Marlene sat together with their arms around one another looking at the tree glittering by the light of the full moon as it streamed through the livingroom window, with little Adam snoring between them.

"That tree was a piece of luck," Andre said.

Marlene hugged Andre tight. "We're lucky. Things could be worse."

Andre looked out at the moon. "Who knows what will happen. Things are pretty bad right now."

"The Democrats sure dropped the ball," Martini said.

In response Marlene snuggled. "Eff it. Just let go. Let go of all of it."

Little Adam mumbled. "I'm glad you guys saved me." Then the boy turned over and went back to sleep.

"At the end of the day, we've got only ourselves," Adam said.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the California grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its own DIY journey to parts unknown.

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

DECEMBER 4, 2011


This week's headline pic is of the Pagano's Hardware storefront window, which dutifully announces the season with plenty of imagination and a dab of whimsy.

If you had a charming "elf" like this one, wearing a leather miniskirt to help you out, you might be jolly and going "Ho, ho, ho!" as well.


Most of the week leading into the festive weekend consisted of largely joyful activities on and around the Island.

Jean Sweeney's passing

The one exception was the confirmation in the Sun about Jean Sweeney's passing in the form of a front page obit written by surviving family members. A memorial service will be held at 2pm on December 11, Sunday, at the Elks Lodge.

Illness kept us from attending any of the outdoor and indoor events held this weekend, including the lighting of the offical tree in front of City Hall and the annual Parade of Lighted Yachts.

Savemart issued a press release

Savemart issued a press release that 20 of its Lucky's stores, including ours at Mariner Square Village, suffered tampering to the debit/credit card readers in the self-checkout lanes. This sort of thing has happened before, as thieves attempt to capture the pins and account numbers directly from the tampered devices. Police recommend checking accounts carefully for a while to make sure unauthorized deductions have not happened.

La Penca Azul downtown was held up at gunpoint

There hasn't been a great hullaballoo about it, however La Penca Azul downtown was held up at gunpoint Thursday night. Witnesses told us that nobody knew what was happening. The gunman entered quietly, wearing a long winter coat, went to the bar and issued his demands quietly before darting out the door with the cash from the till. After the man left, all the employees kicked up a ruckus and locked the doors until the police arrived. No one was injured during the robbery.

Christmas Tree Lane

Christmas Tree Lane, which is Thompson Avenue for most of the year, kicked off its annual tradition this weekend, with a lighting event that features a Santa visit, installation of the Official North Pole Postbox, and lighting displays which have become more elaborate over the years since the days of the Great Depression.

The neighborly affair has always been generated and continued by local volunteers who supply candy canes for the kids on Santa night, and who generously store the bigger decorations in their garages the rest of the year.

The lighting displays have only gone dark for one period since 1938 -- blackouts during World War II.

Santacon 2011 - December 10

There are traditions and then, well, there are Traditions. And not everyone celebrates the Holidays the same way. If you are looking for something unusual, look no further than this year's anarchistic Santacon 2011, which will inflict itself upon otherwise law-abiding and decent citizens of San Francisco on December 10.

From the centralized website they have this to say: "Unless explicitly stated you must assume that every SantaCon event is for adults - where guys & girls of legal age dress up like Santa and go cavorting around town for no better reason than that it's huge fun.

That having been said, some SantaCons are family friendly, some cater to children, some raise money for good causes and some will even let you bring your dog (dressed as Santa of course)!"

Yes, well, and the waitresses at Hooters are all wholesome moms as well.

"The first SantaCon took place in San Francisco in 1994 and was sponsored by The San Francisco Cacophony Society.

The original inspiration came from an earlier SF adventure club called The Suicide Club who's founder came up with the idea after reading an article about a Danish political who mobbed a Copenhagen Department store just before Christmas. However, the first American and all subsequent SantaCons around the world are non-political, purely surreal Santa prank events."

The Santacon is now conflated with an older, um, event, once called Santarchy which was, and is, an opportunity to perpetrate delightful mayhem and chaos while dressed as . . . you guessed it . . . Santa.

Go to for the scoop on all things Good and Bad Santa.


So anyway, the pogonip settled in for a serious spell early in the week, snarling traffic and creating hazardous conditions on the roads as people insisted on plowing through the stuff blindly at full speed. The Ohlone say the pogonip, their word for fog, was brought here so that the Europeans who had stolen the land would get lost and wander away.

Santa Ana's kicked up a ruckus

The one thing that can clear the place of fog is wind, and this week California got quite a lot of it as Santa Ana's kicked up a ruckus from LA to the Bay Area and out to the Sierra crest where gale-force winds topping 120 MPH were recorded.

Other than a few branches and high wind advisories for the bridges, we came out fine in the Bay Area. They are still cleaning up the mess in SoCal, however, and the high winds lasting a few days really unsettled nerves.

Among the hallmarks of the Season, besides the fog, we have the annual flu outbreak. Denby was no exception, and so he had to pass up the weekend gig at the Old Same Place Bar for sitting in his cell swaddled in blankets and sipping mint tea while going through box after box of tissues. For comfort he plugged in his mp3 player to listen to the live version of "Telegraph Road" over and over again.

Far out at sea, Pedro on board his boat El Borracho Perdido kept his eyes on the instruments. Right from the dock, visibility had dropped to about five yards, and so, fog or not fog, fishermen must fish, all sailing out the Golden Gate entirely by instruments, sending out hails to each other so they would know where everybody was.

Discussions with the industry buyers had collapsed,

Discussions with the industry buyers had collapsed, leaving the price of crab uncomfortably low for the fishermen. The motor needed an overhaul. The winch was rattling loose in the stanchion. Stuff needed fixing, not to mention all the expenses at home. Because of the downturn hitting the invested annuity, he would have to put off retirement for a while. Hard times.

Pedro's worried mind had him turn the dial on the FM radio to catch his favorite weekly program which had been a comfort to him for over thirty-five years of fishing. The televangelist possessed a comfortable voice, a voice that felt like reassuring old shoes as the wind whipped furiously through the guy-lines and gear on deck, and his variety show always featured talented young folks, singing and playing music. This week there were two women on that lifted his spirits right up, each in a different way.

Listening to the wind while in bed, hearing the old house creak and groan, Mrs. Sanchez (nee Ms. Morales) fingered her rosary beads anxiously until Mr. Sanchez put his arms around her while the tree branches thrashed around outside. And so she was then comforted in these hard times.

no crazy drivers were out to commit vehicular homicide

Out on the street, folks hurried from wherever they had been to return to those places from which they had come, and in so doing, sighed as they dropped their bags before unwinding the scarf and taking off the hat, comforted in finally getting home at last where no crazy drivers were out to commit vehicular homicide.

In this time, the lights under the doors at the parsonage, at the manor, and at the rectory remained lit well into the night as lost souls looked to find something with a little help in the only way they knew.

In the Old Same Place Bar regulars bellied up to the rail and filled all the tables. When times get rough, some folks look for comfort and consolation in the old, reliable bottle of Fat Tire Ale. Who is to say this way is any worse or better than visiting Fr. Danyluk.

As Jacqueline finished closing up the Salon, Mrs. Cribbage barged in demanding a treatment and would not be dissuaded on account of the Salon being closed.

Sign says open," Mrs. Cribbage said. "And here you are and all the lights on. I swear that's the problem with this country. People just do not want to work . . .".

The Cribbages were on very good terms with Mr. Howitzer and were putting money into the projects that would ensue after the Land Swap deal had been forced through. Force it through they would, too.

The Cribbages had influence in this town.

you will never do business here again. I mean it.

"I could close this shop in a heartbeat," Mrs. Cribbage once told a storefront owner on Park Street to his face in front of customers. "And you will never do business here again. I mean it."

So Jackie wearily set up everything to give Mrs. Cribbage what she wanted. What she wanted was some atmosphere while her hair was being done, so she plugged in her iPod nano and listened to Keith Jarrett. Jackie turned off the lights in the far part of the shop and flicked off the neon Open sign to prevent anyone else from coming in.

"Perfect," Mrs. Cribbage said. She took a scented candle she had purchased an hour ago from her bag and set it on the armrest of the chair next to her and settle back to enjoy unwinding after a long day of kvetching with the girls and shopping off-island.

As the whole procedure wound down, Jackie felt herself getting more and more tired and distracted, thinking about expenses -- the landlord had raised the rent on her space there -- the loss of customers due to the hard times, and the eternal problem of Lionel. She had a billowing can of hairspray in her hand when the door to the shop flew open to introduce Maeve, who said in a gust of wind that tore through the place, knocking magazines from the rack, "Hey, you still here!?"

"Noooooooo!" Jackie shouted.

Too late.

Mrs. Cribbage ... jumped up screaming and ran out the door

The wind blew the hairspray into the candleflame which got larger and larger and larger until suddenly all the stuff in the air sort of popped at once in a flash. Mrs. Cribbage's head of hair ignited into a torch, and for a moment they all sort of froze like that while the woman's hair burned before the two stylists each grabbed fire extinguishers. Mrs. Cribbage, instead of obediently remaining quietly in the chair to burn, jumped up screaming and ran out the door into the wind, which only caused her problem to become more intense.

Someone called the Fire Department and the 911 tape was evocative as well as entertaining as the caller and the Dispatcher kept interrupting each other.

"Hello? Hello? Someone's on fire here!"

"Hello? Hello? Someone's on fire here!"

"You say you are on fire? Where are you?"

"Can't you tell? GPS or something? There is fire . . ."!

"You're calling from a cell phone. I can't get a fix on you. What address?"

"I'm on the Island . . ."!

"Well can't you just jump in the water if its an island. . . "!

"No, no. They won't save me here, its . . .".

"Oh you must be on Alameda Island; we know they have a response problem. Okay then, we'll send a boat. . ."!

"Noooooo! Not a boat! It's not me! That's . . .".

"If its not you, why are you calling?"

"Someone is on fire!"

"Okay now, let me get this straight. What kind of fire . . .".

"O for Pete's sake . . .".

"His name is Pete or that's your name. I am just trying to be clear . . . Why are you groaning, are you in pain . . ."?

Maeve and Jackie caught up to Mrs. Cribbage who sort of fell into the piles of cardboard being stacked by the old recyler man who had arrangements with business owners to collect all the broken down boxes for recycling. The boxes were stacked among the trash bins there and while double jets of fire retardant got fired on Mrs. Cribbage, the cardboard which had started to burn, and the recycling man with his truck, several metal bins got knocked over.

Kicked by the wind, the bins made a terrific clatter as they rolled down the street just as the fire department arrived to survey the wreckage of what had been one of the Island's foremost Society Matrons.

"Ma'am, was that a Prada you were wearing when this happened?" One of the female firepeople said.

A photographer eating a late night burrito at Juanita's stepped out and snapped a few pics of the bedraggled Mrs. Cribbage, then went back inside to finish his burrito and a margarita before sending the images off to his employer, the Contra Costa Times.

Meanwhile, in the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic was getting heartily sick of telling people to keep the front door closed for the wind blew in all kinds of trash. Sure enough Eugene left the door open as he sauntered on in.

a demonic rattle approached nearer and nearer.

In a moment, as they all looked, a demonic rattle approached from some distance away, getting louder as the thing, whatever it might be -- monster, evil robot, train wreck, furious disaster -- approached the little bar. They all held breath and no one moved to close the door as the ominous thing drew nearer and nearer.

Suzie moved to get behind the bar as the noise approached, getting louder. Padraic picked up the 8-guage shotgun he kept behind the bar. Eugene picked up a chair and they all faced the still open door.

"Saints preserve us from the terrible Se"! Dawn said. The crashing metallic noise became terribly loud.

In through the door rolled a bright, shiny trashcan lid which sort of spun in a circle before wobbling to a clanking halt, where it sort of just lay there, looking obvious..

"This must mean something." Dawn said.

"Not necessarily. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," The Man from Minot said.

"See what you have done!" Padraic said to Eugene, who, as usual, had not the foggiest clue.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the windswept grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 27, 2011


This week's headline addition comes courtesy of Bruce Wolfe by way of Maggie Frost. Bruce is Chief Information Officer & Social Worker at Alcohol Justice, a San Rafael-based nonprofit alcohol industry watchdog.

Kinda fits the season and kinda makes you feel thankful to live in a country where citizens are free to voice their opinions -- within limits as determined by guys carrying nightsticks, guns, tasers, teargas bombs, and pepper spray.

After all someone did say this week that pepper spray is just a "food product". Like Cheez Wiz.


Here's a run-down of upcoming events this Holiday Season:

December 1st is the Zorro by night benefit for the Peralta Hacienda over in Oaktown. The Hacienda is the last building remaining from a colonial ranchero that once extended from San Pablo Bay to the Mission San Jose holdings. The grounds, located on 34th Avenue north of Foothill and between Coolidge and 35th, now function as a living museum where a number of projects take flight to help students and Californians of all ages learn about their early history.

Budget cutbacks happening here as elsewhere threaten to close one of Oaktown's true historical jewels, so the smart docents there are holding a benefit entitled Zorro by Night: Fiesta, Flamenco, Fire, to include music, dancing and lots of excitement.

We have met some of the ladies who work there and we can say honestly and with pure objectivity that they are all perfectly delightful and muy caliente. The guitarist brought in to perform is world renowned and something of a "hottie" himself, according to our female informants. Flamenco, as aficionados know, is an artform that is steeped in passion, so the evening ought to be quite an experience. What the heck, you can be late for work just once this time of year. Check out the sidebar calendar for more details.

Jack London Square is having festivities including a tree lighting on Friday evening, however the big draw along the water will be the fantastic Lighted Yacht Parade, taking place Saturday from about 7pm onward. You can either pick a spot at one of the waterside restaurants to observe from the warmth of a building, or stand along the marina on the Oaktown side. Many Islanders head over to the Wind River parking lot to scope out the boats there. Definitely worth the time to do at least once.

The annual tree lighting ceremony at the historic Island City Hall takes place December 5th, according to the website, but I would double-check that day. The event kicks off before dark at 4:45pm with entertainment from the Community Band, The Mistletones, and -- yes, they are real -- The Dancing Christmas Trees.

The DCTs are a real holdover from the days when Doris Day and Buck Rogers were young, although the ladies who perform now are considerably younger. They have made courtesy visits to the White House and are definitely work checking out in a time warp sort of way.

KFOG's Concert for Kids with Death Cab for Cutie and The Airborne Toxic Event occupies the Masonic Auditorium in Babylon on Friday, December 9, but it is sold out. Bring a new, unwrapped toy if you want to drop something in the barrel that will be handled by the US Marines in one of their more pacific endeavors. The usual ticket give away for the 10th caller yada yada will be going on via KFOG.

Same night is Live 105's Not So Silent Night, which tends to feature a long evening of alternative bands. Live 105 seems to be dropping the obnoxiously over indulgence with cockrock heavy thrash-core stuff, so look for more variety this year. They are back up here at the Oracle Arena, as the Shark Tank in San Jose has proven to be a huge sound disappointment each time they tried it there.

Lineup features Gavin Rossdale’s recently-reformed Bush, Florence And The Machine (backing her new “Ceremonials” stunner), British neo-folkies Mumford & Sons, and a revitalized Jane’s Addiction. This one also typically sells out, and with this lineup no reason to see it will not.


Fallout continues along the usual channels and from the same epic silliness of recent months with one very sad addition.

Got a note this weekend apparently from the group that Jean Sweeney has passed away. We are still trying to confirm this information, which if it turns out to be true, means that we have lost a great champion for the people of Alameda, as Ms. Sweeney was the one who found a clause in the contract between the City and the railroad which operated the old Beltline such that the City was entitled to recover the land for use as preserved open space after the line had been discontinued.

The 40 acre property begins at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Constitution Way.

This was just one of many civic projects benefiting the Island which Ms. Sweeney pushed forward. She got the Veterans Memorial Building on Central onto the National Register and jump-started badly needed renovation and repairs to the structure. She worked with waterfront property owners to extend the Bay Trail. She helped write the development guidelines for the Northern Waterfront which has been amended to the General Plan. She has been a member of the Restoration Advisory Board to oversee the toxic cleanup at both the Fleet Industrial Supply Center and the former Naval Air Station since 2002.

Her public work has been commended by the County Board of Supervisors, by Sandre Swanson, our local rep to the California State Assembly, by our State Assembly Senator, Loni Hancock, and by Pete Stark, our 13th District Representative to the U.S. Congress.

She was a retired Public School and Montessori School Teacher. She graduated from the University of Idaho with a B. A. in elementary education. She is is survived by her loving husband, Jim Sweeney, two daughters and six grandchildren. The couple has lived in Alameda since 1972.

We know that Ms. Sweeney has been hospitalized for serious illness, which prevented her from attending the City Council Meeting November 4th, during which the activist was recognized with a Council resolution declaring November 1st, 2011, “Jean Sweeney Day,” and a proclamation declaring that any open space created from the Alameda Belt Line Property be named the “Jean Sweeney Open Space Preserve.”

The entire room stood to applaud her efforts.

We sincerely wish the communiqué is neither a joke in poor taste or a true declaration, however we fear the worst. Our IT guy noted that the e-mail was directed by the same DNS servers that host the domain and the originating IP address is within the scope owned by them.



And so, as we all are gathered this Holiday, gently nodding after the L-tryptophan before the fireplace, come gather 'round all ye dear ones here where it is warm. Listen now. . .

O noble muse Calliope

O noble muse Calliope, grant us epic vision! O Euterpe, muse of song, grant us the liquid voice to say all with elegance. O sly, grinning Thalia grant us aid, and whimsical Eris, that Goddess who has caused so much to happen in times past and modern, and who at times appears to be the one Goddess to rule us all in these times, let inspiration flow in token rhyme, suggesting rhythm that will not forsake the listener, till this tale is told and done. Let us call forth from the fireglow sense and color to flesh these strange shadows that from the flames will grow, 'til things unseen will seem familiar.

While the storyteller speaks, a door within the fire creaks;
Suddenly flies open, and a girl is standing there.
Eyes alight, with glowing hair, all that fancy paints as fair . . .

At first there were three collars for the elven dogs under the sky. Seven then for the pomeranians in their halls alone, nine for dogs doomed to die. One for the Dark Poo on his dark throne on the Island where the Shadows lie. One leash to rule them all, one leash to find them, one leash to bring them all and in the darkness bind them on the Island where the Shadows lie."

As per Tradition, on the day of the 13th Annual Poodleshoot, rosy-fingered Dawn arose and pushed back the shutters of night to allow Phoebus to mount his golden chariot and so, preceding the day, she trailed her gauzy banners of cloud and mist, leaving behind a sort of dew upon place after her passage. Gently, she flushed, and gently she kissed the eyelids of the sleeping Padraic, but he stirred not. Gently she nudged the man, who only mumbled and snorted as he remained held fast in the soft, wooly folds of Morpheus. Playfully, she noodged him once again, but he remained walking in that shadow kingdom of the most somnolent God.

Dawn O'Reilly was not a woman to be trifled with

Then she gave him a mighty whack, and that got him up all right, for Dawn O'Reilly was not a woman to be trifled with at any time of the day. And so Padraic bestirred himself to make ready for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ.

So it was that Padraic rolled out the barrels of the Water of Life and set up the Pit for this year's festivities under cloudy, chill skies.

"No boat, no training."

The affair began with the traditional playing of the Paraguay National Anthem, as arranged by Terry Gilliam, and performed by the Island Hoophole Orchestra, which this year included an extended Choral Section which perversely employed instruments as well as voice, and which consisted of Adam Gillit on Bass Thumper, Mayor Marie and Councilperson Tam on Augmented Shriekers, and the Public Works Department with Briggs & Stratton-powered Woodchippers. Firechief Mike D'Orazi stood upon a Park Street Stump and rhythmically poured a cup of water over his head while uttering apologies and the phrase "No boat, no training."

Mr. Ratto, the Park Street Mayor, supplied the water.

The elaborate instrumental section performed Sousa marches and works by Debussy in true Island tradition, and featured vocals as well as strings, horns, thorns, woodwinds, and bloodhounds.

Performing on the Retroviral Trumpet were Carol Taylor and Pat Aston of St. Charles. Also from St. Charles, the new Cacophony Quartet of Stacy and Greg Dehoedt together with Fruitbat and Godzilla injected liveliness on the Lars Ulrich Inkspritzer. Fruitbat, a form of feline, leapt upon the keys of the organ console while Godzilla, a form of canine from the breed known only generically and dimly as "halfling", tugged upon the bellows with his teeth.

Ken Number Two did a scratch 'n rap with a Gilt Verpflixtenbassguitar Monstrance and Pope Dongle.

Rachel and Henry did a duet on the Three A.M. Howling Anomaly Thumper that sounded positively Middle Eastern in style.

Sgt. Michael Ramsey employed the Amplified Vacuum-weedwhacker and Mace to great effect, especially during the Crowd Dispersal Movement.

Karen Rega and Owen Brown joined the Kring family on Kettledrum Automats outfitted with Impermeables at which Oscar Kring proved to be vigorously adept.

For the 1812 Overture, Jeff Silva operated a brace of 12 pounders and pennywhistle, all well coordinated by means of a Cabela's Saltwater Spincaster.

Denby attempted to direct with little effect or control until thrown bodily from the stage by Helen Gilliland, who had everyone change the setlist to include The Internationale, The Pipefitter's Union song, and Joe Hill.

"Simply appalling. Dreadful. . . ."

Many of the media in attendence commented "the performance was highly unusual, while the critic for KCBS succinctly reported -- pretty much as he always does for anything other than Ibsen and Shaw, Mahler and Elgar -- "Simply appalling. Dreadful. I was born for theatre; this made me long for death."

Once this essay at musical endeavor was done, the Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor 34 1/2, gathered in a circle for their Invocation,led by David Phipps of San Rafael, and chanted in the language of E Clampus Vitus. The men, wearing their ceremonial robes and colorful fezzes, moved in a circle with their pinkies interlocked, first clockwise, then anti-clockwise, before intoning, "Heep heep Hepzibah!" and all jumping into the air simultaneously. They then sang their parlor charter song, "Die Launische Forelle," After they had done this, they moved again in a circle as before, concluding by bowing deeply, dropping their drawers and thence emitting a sort of 21 gun salute.

it was a jolly, fine beginning for a Poodleshoot.

After the ritual pouring of Wild Turkey libations, the Official bugles were blown by Susan Laing of Central Avenue and Tally of Marin, after which the hunters moved out into the field. Soon the air was filled with the gleeful holiday sounds of AK-47s, the cracks of freshly oiled Winchester rifles, the occasional crump of percussion grenades, cries of "Poodle there!", and the homey whoosh-bang of old-fashioned bazookas and modern RPG's. In short it was a jolly, fine beginning for a Poodleshoot.

As the 'Shoot progressed through the day, a little contratemps down by Washington Park developed into something considerably more serious.

Hunters chanced upon the Occupy Island encampment

There hunters chanced upon the Occupy Island encampment, which, like true Islanders, maintains such a polite regard for good behavior as well as a desire to avoid fuss, moved its encampment from City Hall to Lincoln Park for about a week, when concern about damage to the lawn caused them to uproot and move to Krusi park, and then, out of regard for the students at Otis Middle School, from there to Jackson Park.

After several weeks of successive moves, all done so as to least offend anyone, they wound up at Washington, where someone commented that while the group understood the tenets of non-violence pretty well, they seemed to not get the idea of civil disobedience at all.

We are Islanders -- perish the thought of disobedience!

Nevertheless there were a few of them getting tired of all the moving about and the lost media coverage opportunities, so things were getting fractious over there. A schism developed -- as it always does in all great Movements -- between the Movers and the Stayers.

In any case hunters from the poodleshoot stumbled upon the camp while in hot pursuit of a set of leashed silverhairs heading with their dogwalker for the relative safety of the high bunchgrass. A man wearing a brightly colored woven beanie unfolded his tall gangly body from one of the tents there to confront Eugene Gallipagus who was firing his AK-47 as he ran. His name was Lincoln.

"Dude! Wussup with the bullets man?" said Lincoln.

"Dude! Wussup with the bullets man?" said Lincoln.

The poodles had escaped into the thatch, so Eugene stopped.

"Poodle huntin'," Eugene said before lighting up his cigar.

"Yo man, don't go firing that thing off around the tents. We have kids here. And kitty cats."

"Kitty cats." Eugene said blankly.

"Right. They are our mascots and friends. Right Mr. Wuggles?"

A small head poked out from under the tent. "Mao."

"Kitty cats." Eugene said again.

"Mao!" Mr. Wuggles said.

"What a cute kitty!" said the Man from Minot who shouldered his RPG to scratch the ears of Mr. Wuggles.

"O for Pete's sake," Eugene said, and fired a few rounds into the air.

"Dude," Lincoln said. "I wonder if you are getting enough catsup in your diet." The Man from Minot laughed. "You want some lentil soup? Its cold out here. Come on into the tent where its warm."

Such was the humble yet honest generosity of the Occupiers in that field of dispute.

"Let's get out of here," Eugene said.

As the hunters fanned out in the area below the park which abutted the Robert Crown Memorial Beach and the dog park there, which looked suspiciously empty on this holiday a squall moved in from offshore drenching everything and getting all their powder damp. They decided to head back as a group to re-supply their weapons at the Pit. Lionel already had a pair of Russian Blues in his bag and Arthur had a full-sized Cock-a-Poo weighing 12 pounds in his so they were all of generally good mood. As they skirted the Occupy encampment they became embroiled with that camp's issues.

Things are generally in a wreck

Now, the Occupy Movement is not the only Movement going on in the Country today, and the Bay Area is not exempt from all of these sects and movements and general upset jumping up and down. Things are generally in a wreck and have been for quite a long time, and quite a lot of people are upset all over the place about Progress, lack of progress, the National Debt, the unemployment, the Recession (which has not ended, mind you), cutting down trees, failures to save, bailouts for the unworthy, offshoring, the Chinese in general, the Japanese earthquake, drill baby drill, high oil prices, and the constitution of the US Constitution, to list just a few issues.

Now the Tea Party has long wanted to establish a foothold here in California, but has been frustrated in their aims, largely because our own version of the Republican Party has been already pretty ridiculous and unable to speak for itself. This is not true in many other states; this is largely a Golden State problem.

The Tea Party is really just a more extreme version of the GOP, but even within that Movement you have schisms. Our own version here features a splinter group that feels natural urges must be curbed by means of rigorous self-discipline in a kind of bladder-oriented pull-up-by-the-bootstraps philosophy.

they call themselves the Pee Tardy Party

These folks believe that if one adheres to a strict regimen of going to the toilet 2x per day, at the most, then moral discipline will ensue. It really is just a logical extension of Just Say No and they call themselves the Pee Tardy Party and they make just about as much sense as the larger group, but long for the same ideals of Strong Military, Seperation of the Races, Corporate Personhood, and infallibility of the Pope.

Furthermore, this group sees the Occupiers as a riff-raff collection of Hippies trying to restore the hated ideals of the sixties of peace, love, non-violence, and tolerance. Besides, they were stealing the thunder from the Project for the New American Century.

And lo! An host of the Pee Tardy gathered there upon the sward below and in the gathering gloom of setting sun, their helms glittered with malice as they lowered their spears aimed at the Occupy Encampment. Seeing this, Lincoln gathered his people to form a shield-wall against the onslaught.

Also seeing this, Eugene and the hunters took pity and moved to assist their former hosts who had offered them lentil soup and shelter.

They swarmed across the sward like beetles

And from the thatch there emitted a number of poodle-walkers with their terrible yapping charges bounding like the Wargs of Old, all armed with terrible impermeables and intentions to cause grievous harm. Secretly they had gathered their forces, plotting war and violence during this Holiday. They swarmed across the sward like beetles and looked to destroy the hunters who took refuge behind the shieldwall which held against that dual, devilish, demonic deluge of alliteration, although Mr. Wuggles got squashed into furry kitty jelly amid the melee, and sore distressed was Lincoln at this loss.

When the onslaught failed, for the charge led up against the slope where the basketball courts and the camp stood on higher ground, the enemy fell back for a moment while they sent an emissary, Mr. Xerxes Ungoliant.

Mr. Ungoliant strode into the camp with his high helm of black feathers and dog paws taken from hapless losers to his own pet, Fifi-Rog, and O! He was hideous in his proud breast-plate that was made of Registry Silver Plate spoons and forks. Gaudy he was as well and he stood there haughty before Lincoln and Eugene, who had become of necessity allies in this war.

Mr. Ungoliant demanded unconditional surrender, a donation to the dog park as well as the Association, signature to membership in the GOP, allowance to vote by proxy for all of them by the Pee Tardy, and the proffering in mason jars of one-half of their manhood. All of which Mr. Ungoliant considered to be eminently reasonable.

We are . . . Islanders!"

Herewith Lincoln, he the erstwhile man of peace and gentleness, drew himself up and said loudly, "Here is my answer to you. We are . . . Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiislaaaaaaaaaaaanders!"

With that the man gave a great shout and kicked the emissary so hard that the man flew backwards into a hole dug for a privy where he lay groaning and in anguish. So ended the emissary.

The united Pee Tardy and dogwalkers launched another attack, this time by means of missle weapons in the form of sling-shots and boulders and WMDD's (Weapons of Mass Doo-Doo). Again the attack was beaten off as the last bit of light crept from the world

It was sore and desperate in the camp that night as the countless watchfires of the enemy ringed the forces of the Allies while a dreaful howling continued throughout the night, along with periodic sneaky forays.

Who was there among that besieged group? To the Occupiers had come the Sweeneys of the East End. Eugene and the Man from Minot. Gilberto, Filiberto, Alicia, Ana, Santiago, Yolanda, Yvonne, and little Santiago of the Almeida family were there. Jose, Javier and Xavier were thhre because of all the free food. Mr. Terse, formerly of the USMC, was there because of his love of violence and warcraft. The irritating fellow who always begs for spare change at Mariner Square Village was there among the tents with his wife. Lionel of the Pampered Pup was there with his friend Arthur.

Among the regulars, Latreena Brown bickered with Malice Green, Sympatho Mimetslovic, Serbian "mindreader" and fortuneteller" was there trying to make a buck forecasting hunting success by tossing the tarot and now caught behind the lines. Angus McMayhem was there with his angry beard and his kilts askew. Pimenta Strife was there looking to get laid again - she was trying to hit 1,000 by the end of the year and still had over a hundred to go. The Amazing Anatolia Enigma, also trying to make a buck with sleight of hand magic tricks sat huddled in his sodden magic cape by the fire.

All waited word on how the calls for help would be heeded. Eugene had climbed one of the tall palms there to use his cell phone as a beacon. From that height he was gratified to see the signal fires erupt in a line all along the Grizzley Peak and out to distant Mount Tam and over the water to Mount Davidson. They would come, but when?

"Look to the West by the Third Hour," Scott Lyons said, who also went by the name "Jade Myst".

"What the eff does that mean?" Eugene said, swinging in a tree three stories above the ground.

"A girl needs something to wear," Scott said. "And foundation takes time, dear."

"O for Pete's sake." Eugene said. "We are going to get killed."

"O for Pete's sake." Eugene said. "We are going to get killed."

"I emceed Funoccios for years," Scott said. "I saw them die all the time up there on stage. Just relax."


"You need more catsup in your diet," Scott said. "Ta ta!"

In truth it was a rough night. And it took hella longer than three hours for people to show up.

As the sun arose through the murk that seemed to be some foul pestilence conjured by the Dark Lord in his tower behind Mordor's keep. But down the Eighth Street the reinforcements began to arrive.

From far off Marin, from the Land of San Anselmo and distant Fairfax, the Bailiffs and the Whittemores had come, along with Bright-Eyes Beatrice with her sturdy spear-arm and Leonard, the scholar of fisticuffs. From the White Tower across the water, Steve Vender had brought his cohort, Martha. From the flatlands of Pleasanton and the hillside fastness of Castro Valley, the riders of Lindberg came marching. From the South, the Kitsons, they called disparagingly "strawheads" by the dark enemy came marching two by two.

Marty from distant Alaska arrived in a great boat of a Winnebago with his loyal wife yclept Ruth, and they had white malamutes among them.

From Babylon Scott Jade Myst brought a contingent of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, all armed with jeweled crucifixes and official Sin Pardons and rosary "morning stars". Formidible indeed was their foundation.

All these and more had come upon the summons and there was joy that was tempered, for although friends had come, they remained apart for the matter of the seige enemy had ringed them all around and made the situation dire for lack of water and potty.

As the sun struggled to make its way through to the camp, Lincoln rose up and lifted his soup ladle high and cried out, for he was fey, and yet young, and committed to his cause, and for such as these death is a matter of after the fact.

Whatever that means.

In any case, this is the speech young Lincoln, stalwart Lincoln, noble Lincoln made.

"Fellow Occupiers and friends! The hour is come for us to choose whether to live as slaves and be slaughtered or starve miserably and miss out on Thanksgiving leftovers or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them! Onward and glory for the Island for we shall never submit to the Overlord resting comfortably on his Persian carpets, lolling with his lollygag puppies! And furthermore . . . go Raiders!"

With that the shieldwall advanced upon the enemy who were all amazed

With that the shieldwall advanced upon the enemy who were all amazed at this effrontery. Seeing the camp go on the offensive, the reinforcements gather themselves hastily and the two forces came onto the flanks of the forward line and Lincoln smote the first orc-like fellow upon the pate with his ladle so furiously the man's eyes went a-goggle and he fell backwards quite stunned.

And lo! The Allies swept forward and the enemy fell back like leaves of grass before a mighty wind and the hearts of the allied host rejoiced as their foes turned and fled and the now combined forces rolled up the line, munching up the line of the erstwhile besiegers not unlike Officer O'Madhauen reducing a donut to crumbs.

As they returned back up the slope one dogwalker held his ground there and rallied his forces so that then it decayed into hand-to-hand combat, vicious eye-poking, curses, low insults, and spitting in the face, yea, the fight descended into tooth and nail, atavistic savagery, a miserable foretelling of next year's election cycle.



"You rotten Social Democrat!"

"Fascist pig!"

"Oooooh! Weak kneed liberal Acornite!"

"Fox idiot heeder!"

From their secret underwater location, the captain and crew of the Iranian spy submarine, the Chadoor, all watched in amazement through the periscope.

"Captain, what is this we see?"

"Military maneuvers, Ensign. And the ungodly acrimony of the infidel."

Things looked sore, but an winged host descended from above as Tally brought his parrot friends from Twin Peaks to swoop down from above, fluttering and pecking and pooping upon the heads of the enemy while Fruitbat and Godzilla sowed confusion from below by scampering between the legs of the Dark Forces so they were utterly confused and dismayed.

Resistance vanished like cigarette paper peed upon by a bumblebee.

At the end of the day, a great victory was celebrated back at the pit and all who where there stood amazed at the tales of valor and a great feast was had by all the allies, for the Occupiers were invited with their lentil soup, and with the turkey stuffing and soup and veggies there was plenty for all as well as the good mead and Uiscquebah, the Water of Life, supplied by Padraic and Dawn.

Only Eugene was sore distressed for -- once again - he had failed to bag his limit.

"Feck all," said Padraic. "Have some catsup on your turkey burger, man."

Thus ended the thirteenth Annual Island Life Poodleshoot and BBQ.


So anyway, the weather turned finally gloomy enough to cheer up Easterners and get folks from SoCal into a state about the horrible terrible cold -- it must be all of 60 degrees with occasional sun. Didn't rain much since last week's dockwalloper.

This Thanksgiving pretty much everyone scattered locally to make yontif in their own way with brothers and sisters and extended family. Those who perforce had to "do Thanksgiving" with nuclear sets involving parental units scheduled more enjoyable sessions later in the evening away from the hysteria and the gravy boats of guilt.

Its California -- you can get away with that here.

By now all everyone should have made something of their "leftovers" and if you had no takeway, well turkey is still on sale until Wednesday and the dollar store has stuffing. If your Thanksgiving was more like the holiday dinner portrayed in Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, at least now its over; you'll live.

Or maybe you are like little Adam, who experienced a real Thanksgiving with no threats or violence for the first time in his life this year at Marlene and Andre's household.

Adam was the unwanted kid thrown from the car by his former step-dad, and who narrowly avoided a life on the streets when the household voted to take him in this year.

Its an effed-up life, often brutal and harsh, but sometimes good things do happen.

On Thursday, Adam stood in that small kitchen used by fifteen people while Marlene pulled out the bird, savoring everything. Not just the smell of roast turkey which had been seasoned with herbs culled from the ironmongery garden out back, including dill, thyme and rosemary, not just the potatoes and veggies -- everything, including the bird from the Food Bank pickup last Tuesday.

Marlene said, "Quick! Grab that potholder for me would you? Thanks! So glad you are here, Adam!"

It was the savoring of the moment that here, finally, was enough food, and here, finally was a place somebody wanted him.

He had never had something like that before, not from the man who threw him out of the car, and not from his IDU and crack-addled mother, and not from the string of ho's and pimps and pushers and dreck that had floated through his tenuous life before this.

He went out into the livingroom/crashpad where Occasional Quentin showed him how to make little puppets out of beer pull-tabs and thread and the two of them played little dramas with their tin people.

"They are tin people", Quentin said. "Just like real people they don't have any feelings when you start with them. You gotta make them feel something."

"How do I do that," Adam said.

"Well," Quentin said, trying hard to think. It was usually pretty hard for Quentin to think at all. "You gotta tell a story. If they pay you, then they are committed and its easier. But its hard to get people to pay you to tell a story. Almost everybody wants it for free. That's the way people are. They start with no feelings."

"Sounds deep," Adam said.

After a while, Marlene announced dinner was ready and the gang all gathered. There obviously was no place to put a table or anything formal like that so they all grabbed whatever plate they usually used and loaded up.

"Plenty for everybody this time", Marlene said. "Sharon made a casserole from canned spinach and chilis and . . . heck I dunno what else is in there, and we got a big bird this time. So, enjoy everybody!"

So they all began to dig in until Adam piped up with his usual comment.

"Y'all know the day and the drill. Just take a second to think about what you might be grateful for and stuff. Just take a second. Then dig in. Okay?"

Adam thought for a long moment as the elfin Marlene crossed the room to fix one more thing in the kitchen. He had a lot for which to be thankful. He couldn't possibly know how close he had come to a terrible fate, that in the best circumstances would have involved CPS and a group home and in the worst, wretched death in a doorway, but he could sense it, as young as he was. Finally he decided he was thankful for having simple Occasional Quentin as a friend he could trust,for he had told Quentin things he would tell no one else. Largely because he was sure Quentin's ruined mind would never retain the information.

And so you, dear reader, now that the main day is gone, for what are you truely thankful?

In the Island-Life Offices the Editor was listening to the CD player at the end of the day. The Issue had run thin this time because of the Holiday and the fact that this year there had been no vacation break because of the bad economy. So the staffing had been tight, leaving dozens of local and international reports sitting on desks the Editor could clearly see from his cubicle.

He sighed. The Eurozone crisis will be dead and gone by the time folks get around to reporting on it around here. And the results of the lawsuits over the Zack episode and the trees slated for destruction out at the disputed golf course and there is that report that found asbestos under the lawn out there.

He should be grateful just to have a job in these times. Lord, everyone has suffered so much these days, it's a wonder.

Somewhere a door opened and he heard footsteps. The voice of Denby spoke behind him as he stood at the window looking out at the shadow of the Old Man, the redwood which had stood there since before the birth of Christ.

"What's that you are listening to," Denby asked.

"That? O, that is Patti Smith."

"Could have fooled me. Sounds like an old Broadway showtune."

"It is. It's a song her mother liked. My mother as well. From the musical Annie I think."

The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!
Just thinkin' about
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!

"Time was, long ago when I was young, I thought such songs had no truth in them," the Editor said. "They made me impatient. They were old-fashioned, trite, overly sentimental. Then something happened when I got older and after Wynona died . . . now . . . I listen to Piaf and ... I dunno. I think you have to be hurt a little bit to understand."

"It still is over sentimental," Denby said. "Wilco and the Foo Fighters can express the same thing without that."

"Well I stick to what I know," the Editor said. "And I won't apologize for it. Wasn't that you practicing Reverend Gary Davis the other day? What was that song?"

"Light of the World maybe. I know a couple of his things."

"Didn't think you were a Xian," the Editor said. "Why that one?"

"I am not a Xian at all," Denby said. "I just like the tune. And I don't think you need to be a Xian to be a Light of Earth."

When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And grin,
And say,

"Maybe so," the Editor said. "We definitely need the Lights of Earth right about now. More than ever."

The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
I love ya
You're always
A day

"We all have suffered so much. If an old sappy song gets you through, then let it be," the Editor said. "Now let's get to work on this year's Holiday CD, shall we?"

The two men bent their heads over the worktable to look at the layout.

The long howl of the throughpassing train broke the silence as it ululated across the grateful grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its thoughtful journey to parts unknown.

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




NOVEMBER 20, 2011


Well, we don't normally get snow around here, so let it rain. We don't normally get snow, but Berkeley is hardly in the category of "normal."

This week's pic got sent to us by the charmingly appelled Lisa Bullwinkel, who runs an East Bay events company. Tim Volz took the picture. This photo is meant to promote the Snow Day in Berkeley on December 4th in the "Gourmet Ghetto" at where Andronico's parking lot used to be.

You did know Andronico's went out of business, another casualty of the Great Recession, didn't you?


After the recent high-profile deaths which occurred in an Occupy camp on the East Coast and outside of the one in Oaktown, local authorities began evictions of the tenacious protesters in several cities, Oakland included.

A man was shot to death on a street near the encapment at Frank Ogawa Plaza in an incident unrelated to the activity there, but Mayor Quan seized this news as an opportunity to clear the plaza.

"We had to bring the camp to an end before more people were hurt," Quan said, issuing a plea to protesters throughout the region: "We’re asking everyone to respect my city’s decision to close the encampment, even if we support the movement."

Public safety was the main reason the camp was closed, she said. But the drain on Oakland’s dwindling resources could not be ignored.

The morning raid cost the city $500,000

The morning raid cost the city $500,000 in outside police help. Occupy Oakland’s total cost to taxpayers to date is more than $2.4 million, according to a city estimate released late in the day.

And the drain on the shrinking police force has brought additional costs. An evening protest by about 500 demonstrators Oct. 29 stretched the department so thin that nearly 200 911 calls backed up over two hours. The local Chamber of Commerce claimed that downtown businesses have suffered: Customers are staying away and vandals have defaced property.

Many businesses thrived despite this news

Many businesses thrived despite this news, as the increased activity downtown has resulted in more foot-traffic to the registers at many bars, convenience stores and markets, although it must be said the more hoity-toity establishments catering to the well-heeled probably saw declines.

The remaining organizers of the protest stated their committment to continue some form of encampment, and by Saturday evening arrangements had been made to take over a disused parkinglot for the former Sears on Telegraph. Helicopters hovered once again low to the ground as several hundred protesters moved from the re-established encampment at Frank Ogawa to collect at the new location.

Things went badly for the image of local police -- once again -- when in Davis, campus cops went wildly overboard in pepper spraying protesters sitting quietly and hunched over without moving.

The video of the officer, clad in full riot gear with helmet and gasmask, spraying peaceful students was posted on youtube and quickly went viral as it provoked near universal outrage at the thuggish tactics, which were approved by some police crowd-control specialists.

Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department's use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a "compliance tool" that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters.

Maybe, however video shows nearly all of the students incapacitated and unable to walk, so they had to be lifted anyway.

... municipal police are handling situations that should be handled better by ... the Army

Discussions of how the roles of local police have shifted in the past few decades from community service and basic enforcement to more military -- and militant -- tasks and postures remain out there for more examination. It does seem municipal police are handling situations that should be handled better by the National Guard or the Army, especially where the excuses of "inferior firepower" and inadequate equipment are tossed around.

The Occupy movement has grown far too large as it references the entire country, and we have reports that Washington DC will be the next logical target. Early Sunday we got word that organizers have already instituted an Occupy March to DC from New England.

As for Oaktown, the situation has moved from what had become a kind of stasis to something evolving, and heavy-handed tactics of suppression are largely to blame. It remains to be seen what happens in that parking lot now.


In addition to the aforementioned Snow Day in Berkeley, the Hollar Day Season is ramping up with things to do. We will have our own event in the form of the annual tree lighting ceremony at the historic City Hall December 5th. The event kicks off before dark at 4:45pm with entertainment from the Community Band, The Mistletones, and -- yes, they are real -- The Dancing Christmas Trees.

The DCTs are a real holdover from the days when Doris Day and Buck Rogers were young, although the ladies who perform now are considerably younger. They have made courtesy visits to the White House and are definitely work checking out in a time warp sort of way.

Happening December 1st is a benefit for the Peralta Hacienda over in Oaktown. The Hacienda is the last building remaining from a colonial ranchero that once extended from San Pablo Bay to the Mission San Jose holdings. The grounds, located on 34th Avenue north of Foothill and between Coolidge and 35th, now function as a living museum where a number of projects take flight to help students and Californians of all ages learn about their early history.

Budget cutbacks happening here as elsewhere threaten to close one of Oaktown's true historical jewels, so the smart docents there are holding a benefit entitled Zorro by Night: Fiesta, Flamenco, Fire, to include music,dancing and lots of excitement.

We have met some of the ladies who work there and we can say honestly and with pure objectivity that they are all perfectly delightful and muy caliente. The guitarist brought in to perform is world renowed and something of a "hottie" himself, according to our female informants. Flamenco, as aficiondos know, is an artform that is steeped in passion, so the evening ought to be quite an experience. What the heck, you can be late for work just once this time of year. Check out the sidebar calendar for more details.

KFOG's Concert for Kids with Death Cab for Cutie and The Airborne Toxic Event occupies the Masonic Auditorium in Babylon on Friday, December 9. Bring a new, unwrapped toy if you want to drop something in the barrel that will be handled by the US Marines in one of their more pacific endeavors.

And of course, you are all invited to attend the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ on Thanksgiving Day. Rules are up in the sidebar.


Dear, dear, just when you thought Silly Hall had done enough damage for the year, there they go and do another one even as we wind up -- once again -- in the national news in an unfavorable light.

our brilliant Council has outlawed smoking in all public areas

In the first instance, our brilliant Council has outlawed smoking in all public areas, including in front of an ATM, the bus stop, the interior of every public building not already covered by state laws, and the balcony of a rental complex, as well as conceivably within the complex in private areas.

While no one sane can reasonably argue that smoking is pleasant for people nearby and perfectly safe for everyone's health, the new statues are so draconian as to invite lawsuits and disputes along with unpleasant power issues among citizens. Just look at the scad of "parking Nazis" out there to see what happens when people decide to add themselves to the enforcement arm of the City.

the Point shows up in a report ... as one of the five poorest neighborhoods in the Bay Area

In the news we note that the Point shows up in a report from the Brookings Institute as one of the five poorest neighborhoods in the Bay Area, with the main criterion of having a greater than 40% of the population living below federal poverty line.

After the Navy left the Point, many of the buildings were into community housing programs. Some feel that the relatively calm nature of the neighborhood coupled with the reports findings highlight the success of well-run low-income housing programs here, so the news is not necessarily bad. Indeed there is none of the appallingly high violent crime seen in the other neighborhoods listed, which include Hunter's Point, downtown berkeley, West Oakland and Uptown Oakland.

Nevertheless, the report is a sharp reminder to people who live isolated from the realities close at hand that there is good reason virtually every major city in the country sports a tent encampment all too reminiscent of the "Hoovervilles" of the Thirties.

on the slightly upside, Silly Hall is showing signs of nascent sentience

Also on the slightly upside, Silly Hall is showing signs of nascent sentience in recognizing that "it appears most of the citizens oppose the land swap". Next on the agenda is how to appease the voracious appetite of the Cowan Harbor Bay Realty without cutting off our own nuts. The Council feels that Cowan is "owed" an alternative development site under a murky 1989 development agreement, which as far as we can tell, largely gave him the Harbor Bay Isle project without getting much for the City in return.

Flack continues about the clear-cutting down on Park Street -- people are still hopping mad, and every walk down there to get business done just jabs the needle in the wound one more time to people upset about the removal of the beautiful old trees that used to shade the sidewalks. More than 400 people signed a petition that was delivered to that last Council meeting. The petition demanded more accountability from the Public Works Department and stipulated that new trees be "at least 20% mature" instead of slow growth saplings.

People are still writing letters to the editor about the Memorial Day drowning fiasco

People are still writing letters to the editor about the Memorial Day drowning fiasco, and discussions with residents of other Bay Area counties indicate that the Zack episode is something we Islanders will be living with for years to come. In other words, just filing a report from an "independent investigator" ain't gonna work to shove it all under the rug.

In case you missed it, the episode featured a man named Raymond Zack walking into the water off Crown Beach on Memorial Day and standing there in water up to his chest and then his neck for over an hour as close to two hundred people collected on shore, including firemen, police and Coast Guard, all watching as he slowly succumbed to hypothermia. Eventually a private citizen broke free from police seeking to stop her and went into the water to retrieve his body.


So anyway the seagulls all came in to circle over the Lucky's parkinglot just ahead of snarling skies. Sure enough a wharf sizzler turned into a serious dockwalloper that started Friday evening.

All indications are that the wet stuff will return for a soggy Thanksgiving, so you best prepare for that.

This year might not be the best one to try that deep-fried turkey idea your visting cousin from Georgia suggested.

She didn't know you are supposed to move the kettle full of oil away from flame

Hoot Buttkins' first wife died that way. She didn't know you are supposed to move the kettle full of hot oil away from flame before you dunk the bird. When that hot oil splatter hit the grill, the bird, Mrs. Buttkins and the nearby jacaranda trellis went up in flames. By the time the fire department arrived there wasn't much left of Mrs. Rosie Buttkins or the trellis, but the upside was that Mr. Buttkins saved both on the cost of a funeral as well as cremation.

The downside is that little cardboard box Mr. Buttkins got from the coroner's office included not only the ashes of Mrs. Buttkins, but also the jacaranda and an unknown poultry cadaver from Albertsons grocery.

Mr. Buttkins got remarried within a year -- he was a Native Californian in the mold of those who feel that since marriage was such a fine and enjoyable party you cannot get married enough in this life for all the champagne and silver plate gifts.

The Kardashians might be just such a family.

Hoot has been married about seven or eight times now, and his current wife has already labeled everything in the china closet she wants to take with when she goes. For all he knows his ex-wife keeps a wattled tom as a pet in Paradise, yolked forever into eternity.

This chute is called "the Holidays"

The Bay Area has entered that long narrow chute which funnels for the next few weeks all the livestock of humanity, feelings and financial resources down to the pen where there shall be a great slaughter, scads of red ink splashing from severed arteries and a hideous whooping of cowboys. This chute is called "the Holidays" by the cynical and the perverse.

Some of the uniformed claim it has to do with the birth of this guy named Jesus, who was variously a prophet, a deity, or a charletan. In all reality, he was probably born in March, which is when the Roman census cited by the bible really took place, but the Church found it convienient to shift things to the celebration of Sol Invictus, so we are stuck with the dates and it sort of works for now as it is, so you nay sayers, just shut up.

He was, by all accounts, a decent Jewish boy with Socialist tendencies who went largely unnoticed for all his skills and talents, save for his long suffering mother, who seems to have gotten a really bad deal in the process.

In any case, we need to get past this Thanksgiving thing, which in these times means being passed over by those brigands who attend the Bohemian Grove affair each year. If ever any of those guys takes notice of you, be assured you will be served your own crap on toast and be made to eat it, for they are a savage lot those 1 percenters. When the blood lust gets in their eyes their atavistic savagery knows no bounds and heaven help the poor fools who wind up on the rack of their obscene desires. They wind up like Gollum on the bench in deepest, darkest Mordor.

"Where did you leave the Ring?"

"He stole it -- the Precious! That nasty Hobbit! I don't know where it is!"

"You lie . . ."!


So this Thanksgiving, give a little thanks for being small, insignificant and unnoticed.

Over at Marlene and Andre's the troops were marshalling their resources during these hard times to gather things for the feast. Although the community there is marginalized, hapless, forlorn and wayward, they still felt that they ought to make an effort for the sake of Tradition to hold a feast of sorts.

Besides, Marlene was the reigning Goddess there and She Who Must Be Obeyed had spoken. There will be a Thanksgiving.

So the old refrigerator Mr. Howitzer had found in a landfill and had reconditioned for the house began to fill up with treasures not normally found during the year. Onions that fell off a truck. Potatoes from the ironmongery garden out back. Scads of vegetables past due date which had been thrown out. Gleanings from the highly stressed Island Food Bank. Tuesday Javier and Xavier would stand in line with some six hundred others to collect their charity turkey and hope that when their number came up, there would still be some fixings left.

Cashews! Expensive cashews!

Piedro found a place where some careless Citizen had busted open a package of cashews which lay strewn on the ground. He spent a good half hour collecting the nuts before taking them into to rinse clean and dry on a rack. Cashews! Expensive cashews! There they were, all ready for the Feast.

You who live lives where happiness is still largely determined by levels of comfort, please remember and think about these folks standing in line on Tuesday, on a day when cold rain is forecast, after you have fetched your own fixings and bird from the warm and dry sanctuary of the Safeway with its bright lights and its cheerful elves and bought your things all wrapped nicely in cellophane.

Sunday evening, Marlene came out onto the porch with Andre. Snuffles slept in the hole where the porch couch used to be so Marlene sat in Andre's lap as they looked out over the Bay looking steely under the cloud-wracked sky during a break in the storm.

What must it be like to live in the middle of the country and look out and see only miles of empty prairie and the vast, big sky, Marlene said. You would be lost forever.

You can look only so long into Eternity and then it becomes you.

I suppose its like any other place, Andre said. You can look only so long into Eternity and then it becomes you.

The two of them looked out onto the gentle swells of the Bay which, like the sands of Ozymandias, extended far away into nothingness.

But then a gentle rain began to fall, pattering upon the exposed deck and the path from the road and the road itself down there running along the beach.

It was cold and annoying and it was beautiful.

It was an old rain, a rain which had visited before, a rain that fell as reminder that things return and return again. It was an offering to the seeds of life. It was the resurgence of the Seasons. It was cold and annoying and it was beautiful. It was everything that rain can be, smelling of loam, and of sea, and of sand, and of freshness clean, and of green things. It was every rain that had ever fallen since the beginning of Time.

I love you, Marlene said to Andre. And she squeezed him on his lap.

Fancy that, Andre said. I should get up and get . . .

No, she said. No. Stay here for a bit. Everything can change . . . .

And she pressed her dark haired head against his chest, the damaged girl who could not bear children from her shattered womb and the damaged boy. But they held each other and were thankful for that tenuous moment.

Officer O'Madhauen sat in his Crown Vic sipping his coffee, grateful for rain and slow traffic and no need to chase down another red light violator. Tonight, coffee and the rain was enough.

Something for which to be thankful.

The Editor stood right at that moment looking out the windows of the darkened Island-Life offices at the rain pattering down on the rooftops. If ever I could give anyone something to get them through a terrible pain, I would give them this thing, this Box of Rain and this moment. For right now, I realize I have made my own way in the world and everything I have done, every last little thing is all my own and this rain is somehow soothing to my mind for all the troubles that be. Something for which to be thankful.

Love is like a thunderstorm.

Denby, sitting in his rented room, stared at a page of sheet music, the Tacoma resting across his lap like a lover. How can I render the sound of rain? What will work best after sliding from II to IX? Love is like a thunderstorm.

The chronics sighed. Even the hypomaniacs cackled with relative calm down the hall. Something about the rain calmed their usual hysterias.

Denby thanked the rain and peace itself simply for being. Sometimes that is just enough.

The long howl of the throughpassing train broke the silence as it ululated across the rain-drenched grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its age-old journey to parts unknown.

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

NOVEMBER 13, 2011


This week's photo comes from Chad and is of the Lucky 13 bartender, Mary Rose, at the Lucky 13's 13th anniversary of its opening.

We understand there are a few people feeling a bit blue right now, and one friend in particular who lives a bit northeast of here, so we thought we would send this image of joy to help the spirits lift a bit.


Okay, so this headline is a bit esoteric. The headline is what Stephen thinks to himself when he overhears a woman singing as she does housework in James Joyce's Portrait of an Artist. It is Latin for "A woman is singing".

This year the annual benefit for the Women's Building changed its regular date from the day after Thanksgiving.

Here a young artist prepares hopefully for a profitable weekend.

You can find everything from the practical to the practically whimsical.

The art doll booth always features extraordinary treasures.

One of the great pleasures with participating in setting up and taking down the annual benefit for the Women's Building is experiencing the warm comraderie of the artists and the burgeoning friendships and professional associations that develop.

Staffers have helped setup booths for the annual benefit each year for the past twenty-five years. A couple years ago, Jose was inspired to record a little performance thing in support of the Women's Building. Its available on YouTube and you can find it here:


A man was shot and killed Thursday outside the Oakland encampment that anti-Wall Street protesters have occupied for the last month, but an organizer for Occupy Oakland said the attack was unrelated to the ongoing protest of U.S. financial institutions. After at least two shots were fired and the man collapsed, screams rang out across the crowded plaza outside Oakland City Hall where the Occupy Oakland encampment is located.

According to witnesses the altercation was observed by protesters who moved to intercept the three to four individuals, however the unarmed interveners were unable to stop the shooting, although they did chase the attackers away from the scene.

The indident propelled Mayor Quan and representatives from the police to plead for the disbanding of the Occupy Oakland camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza. The general supposition is that another forceful eviction will be attempted.

Mayor Jean Quan, who has been criticized by residents on both sides for issuing mixed signals about the local government's willingness to tolerate the camp, issued a statement Thursday calling for the camp to shut down.

"Tonight's incident underscores the reason why the encampment must end. The risks are too great," Quan said. "We need to return (police) resources to addressing violence throughout the city. It's time for the encampment to end. Camping is a tactic, not a solution."

For their part, protest leaders said the shooting involved outsiders and was only connected to their ongoing protest of U.S. financial institutions to the extent that poverty breeds violence.

"This one heinous immoral crime should not overshadow all of the good deeds, positive energy and the overall goals that the movement is attempting to establish," Khalid Shakur, 43, who has a tent in the encampment, said.

As of four AM helicopters and sirens indicated that the eviction was in fact in progress this Sunday.


Tree cutting fallout continues in the media with any number of folks attacking the boneheaded clear-cutting of Park Street. By last count, the folks irritated with the process outnumber those in favor of the "Streetscrape Project" 10 to zip.

Activities from ACT and others continue to work to prevent the Cowan landswap, while Silly Hall scrambles to patch up damage control by means of land reappraisals and procedural delays.

The market value of the Mif Albright course at the Chuck Corica Golf Complex -- and which has been proposed for a "land swap" with a local developer -- could be up to $15.3 million, according to a real estate appraiser brought in by the city.

Another appraiser, however, estimated $6.5 million for the land, while a third placed a market value of $13 million on the 12-acre site, which developer Ron Cowan has proposed swapping for nine acres that he owns at Harbor Bay Business Park.

Cowan hopes to build up to 130 homes on the site of the 9-hole course. In exchange, sports fields would be built on North Loop Road at the business park.

The appraisals are included among background information published on the city's website in the run-up to Dec. 13, when the City Council will study the proposal. Go to for more details.

Cowan says the city must give him an alternative site for the homes since the units fall under an April 1989 development agreement that cleared the way for his Harbor Bay Isle project.

Critics of the proposed exchange say the city is not legally obligated to provide a site for the homes and that the developer should offer more cash. But supporters say the proposal could help revitalize the golf complex on Bay Farm Island.

Adam Gillit having words with the Fire Department over his attempt to shift fire services to the County. The IFD is claiming political knavery, while Gillit is claiming political impropriety and why not shift it all to the County, as that will simplify any number of union, political and responsibility issues.

A local activist group has petitioned the State attorney general, Kamela Harris, to look into improper contributions from parties of interest to the mayor and council members. Among these parties of interest were the Fire Department Union, which gave $10,000 to Mayor Gilmore and former mayor Beverly Johnson. Some would say a vote is only as good as the dollar it is printed on. But that would be bad grammar . . .

The Raymond Zack episode continues to have fallout as the family has instituted a lawsuit against the City. While sueing the City seems to have become a popular sport lately, we do hope this process prevents that shameful episode from being shoved under the carpet in the manner that was so desired by folks who hired an "independent investigator" to write a report with Circular File Cabinet written all over it.


The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has announced that it will close the Posey Tube in early November for maintenance.

The Posey Tube (from Alameda to Oakland) will be closed as follows:
• Monday, Nov. 7, from 10:01 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning.
• Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 10:01 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning.
• Wednesday, Nov. 9, from 10:01 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. the following morning.

The Webster Tube was closed the nights of Nov. 1-3 for similar maintenance.


So anyway, a real dockwalloper set in Friday to last through the evening, mucking up the place and making all the SoCal people go crazy with what they imagine to be "terrible NorCal cold temperatures."

It must have gotten to all of 46 degrees. That's PLUS 46 degrees.

The temperature didn't bother Pedro Almeida or any of the commercial fishermen -- they are used to worse. He headed out to sea on a rare day off at the start of crab season with a flotilla of the entire NorCal commercial fleet to attend the distribution at sea of ashes belonging to one of their number who had passed away.

Georgio had been quite a fellow, a union organizer, a supporter of lost causes, a sometimes loyal husband, a father of at least three children for whose paternity he would admit, a genial friend and a pillar of the fisherman's community.

But it is not about Georgio we come to speak.

they passed over the AIS Chadoor, ... on its ... spy mission on behalf of ... of Iran.

As the flotilla headed out to the fishing grounds, they passed over the AIS Chadoor, running silent, running deep on its perennial spy mission on behalf of the Revolutionary Republic of Iran. Such is the nature of great Nation States that they must needs put aside reasonable decorum and gawp at one another like gossiping teens scribbling in their private diaries.

Some could claim, for example, the US intelligence community has remained stuck in adolescence these past forty-five years.

In reality, most of spycraft, including that of James Bond, seldom arises above observances loaded with "code words" such as, "I saw Suzie in Walgreens buying a red lace garter! O I wonder what this must mean and I wonder if "Netanyu" knows about the "nuclear power plant"! Is someone being unfaithful?"

As usual, the sub hovered in the narrow estuary, which, although dangerous for possible discovery, had proved to be over the years a rich location for the gathering of information about the Infidel close to home.

The Chief Mate, Omar, spent a long time observing through the periscope.

What do you see, Omar? queried the Chadoor's captain.

"I see preparations for the Infidel's annual festival of this time." Omar said.

Indeed. Indeed. The usual sort of preparation for sinful and gluttonous behavior. Call it thanks or whatever. Disgusting. A celebration of life. Life with unclothed women. Meaning without the veil, of course.

"I see the assembly of turkeys, naturally, but I also see a great assembly of arms."


I see a stockpiling of large caliber rifles, explosives, hollowpoints and explosive tips

"Yes, I see a stockpiling of large caliber rifles, explosives, hollowpoints and explosive tips banned by UN treaty. I see flamethrowers and armored vehicles congregating. I see machine pistols and a great number of sabers! They have collected RPGs and mortars and 50 cal machineguns. O dear! I see great preparations as if for war! We should alert Teheran immediately!"

Omar, the Captain said. You are new to this deployment. What you observe is peculiar to this Island and this Island alone. It is a custom of long duration.

"By the beard of the Prophet, I see preparations for violent war!"

No, Omar, you observe the preparations for a common Poodleshoot.

"Dear Captain, please tell me. What is a a Poodleshoot?"

"Dear Captain, please tell me. What is a a Poodleshoot?"

That, my dear Omar, will take some telling.

Indeed, the time of year had come round at last.

It has come to that special time of year when the bracing wind comes sweeping down out of the North, stirring the spirits and bringing blood to the cheeks. This is the time when leaves swirl about the ankles of Jane and Brad as they scamper through the woods in matching camo fatigues, their cheeks ruddy with the snapping, crisp Fall air, and exertion, and that powerful Desire that fills young girls and young boys at this time of year around here.


Ah, the pleasures of the autumn hunt!

The little filly longs to wrap her fingers around the firm, smooth, hard stock and blow Fifi to smithereens with her brand new 32-20 Mossberg loaded with hollow-points. The boy wants to plunge his fire-tempered blade deep into the juicy vitals of a tender, moist well-coifed Wirehair Breed. Ah, the pleasures of the autumn hunt! The delights of poodle blasting! The baying of hounds in the crisp Autumn air. The scent of seared animal flesh. The joy of sanguine violence. Put aside all thoughts of wimpy Palin snagging those frilly moose from the comfortable safety of a plush helicopter. Boots on the ground and dog meat is what we are after each Poodleshoot in America, with its savage, atavistic descent into the bloodlust fury of killing in honor of those original American brigands and thieves, the Puritan Poodleshooters.

The new rules are up and the 13th Annual Poodleshoot promises to be quite an adventure full of surprises.

The Chadoor pulled down its periscope and ran silently, ran deep, out through the Golden Gate undetected, while TSA continued to scan underwear, make people take their shoes off, and discard suspect shampoo bottles by the gallon.

When the flotilla got back to port everyone headed over to the parlor of the Native Sons of Golden West at the marina. The morning had gotten on and there were speeches to be made. Occasional Quentin had been a favorite of Georgio, who had tried to see that the hapless boy got fed and housed most of the time. Georgio was great with that selfless concern for others.

So Quentin got up there to the mike and someone asked him what he was thinking about now that his benefactor had gone.

Quentin, always honest, always empty of guile, answered truthfully.

"I think that Clebia made a pile of ham and cheese sandwiches in the next room and its 12:30 already and I am hungry. Georgio is gone and won't be back and I am still hungry. Let's go eat."

So that is precisely what they all did. The dead are dead; lets go eat.

One thing we should mention: the sandwiches had Clebia's special creme cheese filling with the seasonings in there, along with Marleen's cheddar, and they were delicious.

That night, the Editor put an Edith Piaf record on the old-fashioned turntable in his office after most of the staff had gone home.

Eff you. I don't copy other people's desires

Not everyone likes Piaf. The Little Sparrow is not for everybody. Eff you. I don't copy other people's desires. I regret nothing!

These days, everyone is living an opera. Be thankful yours still has "legs" as they say in the business.

The Editor turned down the lights and walked down the street to the Old Same Place Bar, where things were all a bustle with life and all the contretemps that ensue as folks pursue their own versions of life, liberty and happiness.

Overhead, the Harvest Moon glowed through the cloud wrack, lending a romantic atmosphere to the November skies above the Island. Things get hectic and with all the rushing around it is easy to forget the calm revolve of the seasons, the turning of the leaves, dew and frost in the morning, and the powerful presence of the moon looming large over it all.

The days get shorter and the shadows develop that deep penumbra of veils. Mornings are filled with a gelid light and the afternoons creep on with a familiar darkening all too soon as the sensor-driven lamps flick on one by one all down the street.

Over the Oaktown downtown area across the Estuary again the constellation of artificial stars, helicopters of the New World Order hovering like obscene fireflies in the murky air.

Yes, we live in Interesting Times, the worst curse of our forefathers.

The Old Same Place Bar, packed to the gills with jollity and vibrant activity of life with all the annoyances and pleasures of unruly America called to the Editor in times of trouble. Here, he saw clearly that the people never ever would get organized and they would be all the better for that. The 1%ers would have their lucites and their granite edifaces and their private clubs, but it all amounted to not much more than a hill of beans and a PTA membership at the end of the day.

Little Godzilla sat there at the end of the bar and yapped as he entered to take his seat.

"Yes my friend, we shall all end up all the same, dog and dog-owner alike, all in the dark as in Djuna Barnes when the lights go out, barking into extinction. Why not go bounding across the field after any old tennis ball of affection or desire. You are smarter than the best of them, my pal. Anything you build higher than a firehydrant is destined to become Ozymandias."

Godzilla yapped happily and snuffled the Editor's shoes.

"I am happy enough with my life as it is," commented the Editor as he lit a cigar.

"You are not supposed to smoke in here!" Dawn admonished.

The Editor exhaled a great and pungent cloud.

"That's right. But I am anyway."

And no one there moved to intervene.

The long howl of the throughpassing train broke the silence as it ululated across the autumn leaves blowing among the contemplative grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its rebellious way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its age-old journey to meet its revolutionary destiny.

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


NOVEMBER 12, 2011

The 2011 Poodleshoot Rulebook is now up!


NOVEMBER 6, 2011


This week we wind up El Dias de los Muertos with a fitting image of the abandoned 16th Street train station, a must visit place for all of you train aficionados.

There is quite a bit of history here, so we wrote a little piece, which you can read down below.


The decrepit building that sits along the frontage road to the new Cypress Bypass in a big field of weed-choked concrete is one of the three original train stations that served Oakland, California at the start of the 20th century. It may not look like much now, but the complex, originally built in 1869 as a wooden structure with a worker who manually operated the road barrier as trains approached -- but only during daylight hours -- was once the jewel of the West, especially after the present building, designed by architect Jarvis Hunt who was a preeminent train station architect at that time, opened in 1912. This photo was taken circa 1901, because the hanging oil lamp indicates a date prior to urban electrification of Oakland.

From 1869 to 1989, the 16th Street Station was a major railroad station of the Southern Pacific railroad in Oakland as well as local commuter services such as the East Bay Electric Lines via elevated platforms. It was a companion (or "city station") for the Oakland Terminal, which was located two miles away on the Oakland Pier. The Terminal, also known as the "Mole", was demolished in 1960, leaving the 16th Street Station as the major Oakland rail hub.

{The Mole itself was quite a wonder, as the extension went far out into the Bay, nearly to Goat Island, which is now Treasure Island.]

The infamous 5:05 earthquake (Loma Prieta) forced closure of the station due to severe structural damage.

Its railroad function has since been replaced by the major Amtrak station in nearby Emeryville.

The station is located at 16th and Wood Streets, adjacent to and visible from the Interstate 880 connector ramps of the MacArthur Maze. The station buildings remain mostly intact, including the switchman's tower and ironwork elevated platforms which, before the revamping of the Bay Bridge, were utilized by electric commuter trains of the Southern Pacific. Up until the 1960's, one level of the bridge was reserved for rail traffic from Oakland and one level for trains returning from San Francisco. For a while automobiles traveled parallel to the lower level tracks on a narrow roadbed.

Here is a shot of what it looks like from the frontage road.

The station was purchased in 2005 by BUILD, an affiliate of BRIDGE Housing, and is being restored as part of a local redevelopment project. The structures will never be used as a railroad station again. An immense industrial live/work housing complex sits adjacent to the south of the lot, blocking any possibility of rail connection.

The station was used in a scene of the film Funny Lady.


Tom Keith, 1946 - 2011. NPR Actor and Soundman.

Friday we got a message from Garisson Keillor about the death of a beloved actor and sound technician and important part of the weekly NPR radio show Prairie Home Companion.

All of us here extend sincere condolences to the surviving staff of the PHC and to its inventor, Mr. Keillor, as well as to Mr. Keith's family, which include his wife of 11 years, Ri Wei Liu-Keith, two sisters, and two brothers.

The note from GK stated cause of death was sudden cardiac arrest on October 30, which was confirmed by his twin sister, Terry Green.

Tom Keith started working in radio as a technician with no training as an actor after graduating on the GI bill from the University of Minnesota subsequent from leaving service in the US Marine Corps. In the early 1970s, he was a sound engineer on Minnesota Public Radio’s “Morning Show,” which Garrison Keillor hosted. When bad weather, typical for Minnesota in winter, delayed Keillor’s arrival at the studio, Mr. Keith filled the airtime with music.

The two men bonded over the crack-of-dawn recording sessions and Keillor invited Mr. Keith to join the show as an on-air personality. He became the voice of the poultry-raising Poole brothers, Ed Jim and Jim Ed (one specialized in roosters, the other in attack chickens).

Mr. Keith followed Keillor to “A Prairie Home Companion,” first as an engineer and then, beginning in 1976, as a sound-effects man. He also took over from Keillor as a co-host of the “Morning Show,” a position he held for about 25 years before stepping down in 2008.

Over the course of time, he collected the sound props that cluttered his table, making all of his tools himself. For the sound of horse hooves, he used two coconut shells and a tray of gravel. For splintering wood, he crushed egg cartons close to a mike.

He always claimed that he could not do an elephant, while his colleague Fred Newman (who does the sounds for the traveling version of PHC) claimed, a bit tongue in cheek, that Mr. Keith couldn't do a belch, not because of inability, but because it was a sound with which the man did not want to be associated.

His boss, Mr. Keillor had this to say: "Tom was one of radio's great clowns. He was serious about silliness and worked hard to get a moo exactly right and the cluck too and the woof. His whinny was amazing noble, vulnerable, articulate. He did bagpipes, helicopters, mortars, common drunks, caribou (and elands and elk and wapiti), garbage trucks backing up, handsaws and hammers, and a beautiful vocalization of a man falling from a great height into piranha-infested waters."

In truth most listeners and attendees to the live broadcasts would agree Mr. Keith had developed into a superb comedian in his own right gifted with a sharp sense of timing, and was able to elicit laughs in a time when many comics rely on vulgarity. Not that the man was not excellent in presenting a flock of geese sucked into an atomic toilet on command.

He had a great gift for silliness as well, which he organized in a disciplined, workmanlike manner that fit hand-in-glove with the PHC's non-nonsense approach to stagecraft. The hallmark of a really great artist is to create magic and make it seem effortless.

Tom Keith was pretty much an integral part of the heart and soul of the Prairie Home Companion for 35 years, so it is no exaggeration to say that he will be sorely missed.


Last meeting of the Old-time Radio Convention occurred October 21 and signed off end of Saturday after 36 years of remembering Jack Benny, Benny Goodman, Goodman Ace, Fibber McGee, Bob and Ray, and hundreds of other legends of the old days of radio at a hotel across the road from Newark Airport.

Reason for the transmitter going silent on this one? Progress. Even the famous Man in the Red Shoes has commented there are fewer and fewer of those who remember the Fireside Chats and the adventures of the old Radio Plays.

Jay Hickerson, who has been running this show since the beginning of time said, "Lack of OTR (old-time radio) guests. And the committee is getting older."

The gathering, humble as it is, used to be able to call on a constellation of stars from the early days of radio.

Now it's down to former child stars in their 80s and 90s. Arthur Anderson, 88, who acted as a teenager with Orson Welles, is an honored guest. Grandsons of 1930s song and dance star Eddie Cantor and Brace Beemer, the voice of the Lone Ranger for most of its run on radio, are on the program.

Collecting old-time radio shows and trivia has never been a young person's game. But most of the convention-goers are too young to have firsthand recollections of the shows they're buying, recreating and discussing on panels.

This year the honored guest is Simon Jones who doesn't exactly qualify as a Golden Age of Radio star. He played Arthur Dent in the BBC's hugely popular radio and TV adaptations of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, starting in 1978. But he's been here before and is delighted to be asked.

Jones said although the use of old-style radio drama has essentially died out in the United States, the form remains alive in Britain. Next year, the radio version goes on a live tour.

"Obviously, this art form hasn't quite died," he said.

Indeed, the immense popularity of things like NPR's Prairie Home Companion, a great hit with folks more familiar with Nintendo than the Lone Ranger, indicates there are plenty of younger folks who will enjoy radio drama and variety shows. It's just a matter of time before someone comes up with another Firesign Theatre, full of zany antics and three-minute Hamlets.

"I hear that old piano from down the Avenue
I smell the rain falling,
I look around for you
Oh, my sweet, sweet, sweet old someone
coming through the door
It's Saturday
the band is playing
Honey, could we ask for more ".

tune by Spencer Williams, words by Garisson Keillor



The City Council issued a proclamation honoring longtime resident Jean Sweeney with a good citizenship award and a directive establishing that space derived from the former Beltline property be named the Jean Sweeney Open Space Preserve.

Ms. Sweeney has been connected with many public service activities on the Island, however she is most known for finding a stipulation in the City contract with Union Pacific that eventually allowed the City to recover the land essentially given to the parent company of the Beltline at minimal cost based on 1912 valuation. The Beltline long ceased operations and the tracks were removed a few years ago. Sweeney's efforts preserved the open space from development as industrial zoned parcels.

A radical anti-smoking ordinance now being considered by the City Council would ban smoking in all public areas as well as in all rental units throughout the Island. The idea of government interfering in private as well as public space does not sit well with a large number of people here.

Fallout over the recent destruction of trees along Park Street continues with the majority expressing outrage over the loss of what once made Park Street distinctive. Then again, a great many still are in umbrage over the land swap deals. City staff have created information websites for the two issues.

For those concerned about the Cowan/Mif golfcourse land deals, there is

For those concerned with the trees, there is

Even though this Friday, 11-11-11 is officially Veteran's Day, normally featuring closure of city hall offices, we note that the City Clerk's office will remain open to perform one single function due to mass interest: marriage.

Seems the lovebirds out there are all clamoring to get hitched on the day of ones.

There are so many, in fact, that Lara Weisiger's office is asking people thinking about it now to call immediately at 747-4805 to get an appointment slot.

O its really killin'
They're so willin'
To be making whoopee, whoopee, whoopee . . .



As promised, the Occupy Oakland movement on Wednesday spilled from its home base in front of city hall, halting street traffic and blocking access to banks and businesses that defied its calls for a general strike. The mood was for the most part festive, full of homegrown pride for a hard-luck city enjoying a rare moment in the global spotlight. Concerts and prayer sessions, free barbecue and ice cream were among the offerings to a motley mix of protesters. Cannabis smoke was widespread. And of course, there were a lot of speeches: in the main amphitheater, on top of trucks, in the middle of the street. The "Day of Mass Action" culminated with a shutdown of the port, where as many as 7,000 to10,000 people gathered peacefully to stop trucks in their tracks — before things took a violent turn overnight for the second week in a row, with police using teargas after midnight, when a group of anarchists attempted to hijack the final hours of the protest.

Union members, students and teachers were out in force. More than 300 took the day off, while some arrived at the marches after school. Dozens of small businesses, and some national chains like Rite Aid and Foot Locker, were closed. Others stayed open and lent support by distributing food and water to marchers — though this was no free pass from harassment from a group allegedly sympathetic to the general strike but which appears to engage in vandalism. A Whole Foods that distributed water bottles to passersby was set upon by black-clad masked men, forcing it to close. There were several other instances perhaps connected to the suspected splinter group, including smashed windows at Wells Fargo and Bank of America branches.

Such incidents were the exception during the daylight hours. At another downtown Wells Fargo branch, about 20 good-humored protesters sat in front of the entranceway, blanketed by yellow police tape, chanting, "Shut it down, shut it down!" A dumpster blocked the ATM. No one attempted to get past the group, which refused to leave until the door was chained.

The marches rolled on late in the afternoon, from the city center to the country's fourth busiest port. On foot, in wheelchairs and on bicycles (and the odd unicycle), protesters converged under the watch of circling helicopters. Police officers were invisible.

Downtown, the good vibe soured. As midnight approached, a group of rabble-rousers moved into a vacant building two blocks from the occupied plaza, lighting street fires, scrawling graffiti and smashing windows as they barricaded the block. Riot police deployed to the scene again used teargas and stun grenades to clear the streets in the early hours of Thursday. Some protesters tried to de-escalate the situation but to no avail as the masked gang, estimated to number fewer than 100, faced off against police with rocks and bottles. Some 60 arrests were made by the time the melee was subdued at around 3 a.m.

A local man and business-owner, Kayvan Sabeghi, was critically injured around 1:30am while attempting to leave the area after things became violent. According to a report by the UK Guardian, Sabeghi confronted a police line barring his exit and when he inquired as what to do was set upon by police armed with riot batons who beat him, rupturing his spleen and breaking several ribs. He was then detained for 18 hours and denied medical treatment.

Sabeghi is co-owner of the Elevation 66 brewpub in El Cerrito, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now at Highland Hospital in intensive care, scheduled for surgery.

The incident is now under investigation by the Oakland Police Department.



So anyway, the Indian Summer which had just about overstayed its welcome finally ended this week with the gulls coming inland ahead of sodden rain cloud pillows on Thursday and dropping temps.

But you don't want to hear about the weather, now do you?

the Tradition that always ends with the same dismal, dolorous, tragic result . . .

You are wanting to hear all about the 14-year old Tradition that played itself out in the Island-Life Offices, the Tradition that always ends with the same dismal, dolorous, tragic result followed by the harrowing, hair-raising and substantially purple prose of what happens next, naturally. Of course you do.

Well, all right. We will tell you.

When we last left you all the staff were gathered in the Offices upstairs. Even Chad came up from the HTML Dungeon to participate in the annual Drawing of Straws from a cup held aloft by a Maiden who Knows No Shame.

The Editor was going to get Tammy to do the honors as the Maid, but a technical problem intervened.

"I've got kids and grandkids living in SoCal! I sure as heck ain't no maid!"

"Are you kidding?" Tammy said. "I've got kids and grandkids living in SoCal! I sure as heck aint no maid!"

Same problem happened with Sharon, who bluntly said "Eff you!"

Everyone agreed that although the first part was dubious, she definitely had no shame, so they got Rachel to hold the cup. "Whatever," Rachel said.

Finally, they all got around to it and dragged Jose out from the bathroom stalls where he had been hiding.

Every year, the Editor assembles the staff in the Island-Life offices at night after the sun has gone down to draw straws by candlelight, all according to tradition. Every year, first the one, then the other approaches the cup and, trembling, removes their little stick. Every year, Denby approaches the cup, draws a straw, and every year, according to strict tradition, Denby draws the shortest straw.

He has tried drawing first. He has tried drawing last. He has tried drawing in the middle and he has tried to avoid the ritual altogether, but tradition is very powerful when the spirits are at work.

And so it was he put on his coat and he put on his hat and so walked out the door, this year the same as the last, with people gathered in fearful little knots, whispering among themselves as he went. "Sure glad it's not me."

As in all Traditions, there is a sense of repetition, of revenance, each time the ritual is repeated.

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!"

From the offices he walked along the path that borders the Strand and came to a stone wall. He could not remember a stone wall being there, about two and a half feet high and extending for infinity in both directions, but this one seemed to have been there for eons, with scraggly weeds crowding up against lichened stones. There was no gate or path through but something called us from the dim otherside and so, hesitating a moment to leave the relatively well-lit path, he slogged through the sand before the wall and stepped over into a dark mist and a voice seemed to echo in the darkness, "Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!" and the words flamed inside the skull as if poured in molten steel.

Well that's a funk.

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

"Hoo! Hoo!"

On the other side the ground sloped down as usual to the water for about thirty yards, but he could not see the far lights of Babylon's port facilities or the Coliseum. In fact, the water had the appearance of extending out beyond to Infinity. But all up and down the strand bonfires had been lit, as is customary among our people in this part of the world, and towards one of these he stumbled among drift and seawrack.

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

At the bonfire's edge a bright voice greeted us, "Denby! Back again so soon? Is it your time at last?"

her hand went right through his arm, leaving a clammy, cold sensation

A sort of pale glimmer drifted over the dark sands, a woman dressed in white with frizzy platinum blonde hair. She reached out with her left arm. But her hand went right through his arm, leaving a clammy, cold sensation.

"Oh!" She said. "You are not one of us quite yet! Well, come on and visit for a while. There are some new people here."

The girl flit back to the firelight around which a number of forms sat or stood.

"Penny, its you," He said. ". . . miss you. . . ".

"Lighten up and don't be so dead!" came the response.

"Oh Denby, you were always so . . . lugubrious. Lighten up and don't be so dead!" came the response. And her laughter was a sparkle of diamonds in that dark night.

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

Strange words in another language reverberated inside the skull: "si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta . . ." echoing and echoing down long hallways of mirrors into eternity. None of this seemed to make any sense at all. It never did each time, even though this same thing happened time and again, like an old fashioned stuck record.

Records. LPs. Wax and vinyl. Does anyone remember those things?

"Hey Penny, is there somebody around here with a big voice who keeps shouting things in Italian . . . ?"

"What are you talking about? Don't be silly."

"Well . . . nevermind."

"Ah, there is the ferry! Looks like Him is coming to take somebody over there."

"Who is 'Him'?" Denby asked.

"O I do not think it is a good idea for you to look on Him just yet."

"Is it god or . . .".

The Ferryman is terrible! . . . Do not look into his eyes!"

"No! The Ferryman is terrible! Don't get close! Do not look into his eyes!"

But a rush of souls were heading to the breakwater which had been transformed into a long platform of evenly-spaced stones extending out into the black water. Denby moved in the same direction, pulled by something he could not explain. Penny and several others also went there, but Penny and a number of others stopped well away from the landing as the low skiff pulled up to the dock, oared by a man standing at the stern.

Among the passengers apparently allowed onto the landing by something Denby could not clearly see in that half-light were a tall, broad-shouldered man dripping with sea-water, a slim bespectacled man with close-cropped hair carrying a computer tablet under one arm, a squat, jowly man, and a bald man with a pair of women's shoes hanging about his neck by their shoelaces.

"Y'know what really bugs me about people standing in lines?" The squat man said irritably. "They always stand right up against one another so close like cars at the Jersey Turnpike tolls. If I wanted to know what kind of underwear you were wearing I would ask, so please!"

"I can make the sound of an elephant! Listen to this!"

"I can finally do it!" the man with shoes about his neck said. "I can make the sound of an elephant! Listen to this!"

Sure enough the man blared out the sound of an elephant trumpeting in the forest. "And here is the sound of an elephant belching on the high seas in a storm!"

He made that sound, or sounds, as well. "I am so happy!"

Everyone but the Ferryman looked at him.

"You're dying, brother!" the squat man said.

"You're dying, Tom!" the squat man said. "Dying in front of your last audience."

"Dying?" the soundman named Tom said. "I am dead already! Want to hear the sound of gas escaping a corpse . . .?"

"O please!" said the squat man. "Its our turn. Lets not be like Republicans and go already."

The line shuffled forward as the souls handed over their coin and got into the skiff.

"You know, Andy," the mouthsound man said. "I think you are in heaven just being grumpy. Been that way all your life. You really should do something about those eyebrows when you get there."

"Shut up, Tom. I refuse to shave them."

The man holding the computer tablet paused at the edge of the dock, looking not at the skiff but far out across the water.

"Wow!" he said. "Oh wow!"

"Wow!" he said. "Oh wow!"

After he got in, Denby could see that the shapeless mass holding off the other people wanting passage appeared to be a group of three mastiffs standing in dark shadows, amorphous, barely discernible. Since something about them caused a fearful shiver he looked directly at the Ferryman, who slowly turned his gaze toward the shore.

Denby fell to the sands, crying and whimpering and clutching his head. "O . . . !

Denby fell to the sands, crying and whimpering and clutching his head. "O . . .! O . . .! O, god . . .! The fire . . .! O . . .!"

Penny stood there a while above him until the flames inside his skull died down.

"Silly boy! I told you not to look!"

"I . . . wanted to . . . to . . .".

"Yes, yes," the girl said impatiently. "I too want to cross. Each day, each minute. You have no idea . . .".

The intense longing in her voice pierced him. A diaphanous girl jumped over him as he lay there and ran down the beach. He managed to stand up, lights dancing in his eyeballs. The skiff had by then left the dock and was now a glimmer heading out to sea.

"Come along! You are lucky this trip Him is taking the trip to the Good Place. It would have been really bad for you if Him was going the other way." Penny said. "He might have taken you with him!" A peal of girlish laughter erupted from her.

"Somehow I don't think that is funny."

"Don't be so lugubrious!"

"Why does Raymond Zack get to cross while you stay here?"

"Who is Raymond Zack?"

"Who is Raymond Zack?"

"Um . . . he was . . . a kind of suicide. I thought . . .".

"I don't make the rules here, Denby. "

A little girl tried to run past them both but Penny grabbed her up and swung her around before setting her down and letting her dash off into the weeds up the slope. They had arrived at one of the bonfires.

"What's with the coin in his mouth? Why does he get to go and all of you stay?"

"Raymond's time has come. Perhaps because he just learned what he needed to learn. Perhaps he has suffered enough already. As for the coin, just be glad we are not living in ancient Egypt. Crossing the river used to be really rough back then!"

"You better believe it," a familiar voice said.

A sixty-ish man with straight, dirty blond hair and a beard sat in a chair wearing a brightly colored short-sleeve shirt, khaki pants and sandals. A ring on his left hand flashed in the firelight as he removed a cigar from his mouth. "You find a job yet?"

As Denby sat down two little girls in gingham dresses ran past.

"So you are not headed for the ferry landing either." Denby said.

"Oh. I expect it will be quite a while for me. If at all. Might even be sent back for another go around."

"Another go around?"

you might have to go back and live everything all over again

"Well yes. If you . . . if things end abruptly like they did with me, well, you might have to go back and live everything all over again."

"As punishment."

He shook his head and relit his cigar. "No. To relearn everything and get it right."

"Well you certainly are looking well. Right now. Jim."

Jim grinned. "If you had never seen pictures of me when I was younger your mind's eye would have shown me as you saw me last. White hair, false teeth, and . . . everything eroding . . .". A spasm of pain, or memory of pain flickered across Jim's face and then he was himself again. "You know Denby, you never want to live with regrets, but then you never want to end up in a place where everything is leaving you."

A girl with dark chestnut hair flowing behind her ran up, put her hands on her hips and said, "Boo!" before running off.

"Boo to you too! Ha ha!" Jim said. "I kind of like those girls."

"What are they?" Denby asked.

"Oh, some of them are mine." Jim puffed on his cigar. "Some yours. That girl, Penny can explain it better than I can."

"You know Sue is still pissed at you."

Jim meditatively flicked his front teeth with his thumbnail. "What I put that poor girl through."

In the next few hours, what felt like days in which the sun never rose and the bonfires burned without anyone tossing on fuel, Denby talked with many people he had known.

Two figures came jogging down the beach, a man with a large 'fro in a black tracksuit and a woman with close-cropped blond hair dressed in white.

"Nice to see you, Denby!" the woman said.

"Eric. Julie. Glad you two hooked up," Denby said.

"Well we never knew each other before the Change, but we have you in common. Something to talk about."

"Please don't talk about me when I am gone," Denby said.

Julie laughed.

"I am surprised you both are still here."

"Well, here a thousand years are like a day," Eric said. "I guess I still got things to work out. Still trying to work Fanon into the scheme of things. Tell me -- is the Revolution happening back there?"

They call it 'Occupy Wallstreet', but . . . they are trying to televise it.

Denby did not know exactly what to say. "Well a kind of Revolution is happening. They call it 'Occupy Wallstreet', but you know how it goes. They are trying to televise it."

"Figures!" Eric snorted. "Damned ofay, KKK, . . . only way to get rid of the Master-Slave situation is shoot the Master down! Then instead of Master and Slave, both impossible, you got one Free Man!"

"O Eric." Julie said, interrupting. "Is there no room for Love in your Revolution . . ."?

"Love? I still be workin' that one out, tryin' to figure that one in." He paused. "Denby, how is my sister? Have you seen her and . . . ma?"

"Eric . . . I have not been back there for 35 years. I am sorry, I don't know."

"Thirty-five . . .".

"Julie," Denby said. "And you? What happened? Why are you still here?"

"I ran and ran and could not stop." Julie said. "In the end, it was just my window ledge."

his heart was riven by those thousand shards

A vision of shattering glass and a falling body manifested itself to Denby, and his heart was riven by those thousand shards and the shattering sense of failure.

"Well, don't be so melodramatic," Julie said, as if she could see precisely what transpired inside his head. "It wasn't quite like that. You said 'If ever you want me, call and I will be there.' In the end, it wasn't enough. You did what you could do. I had . . . problems. I am still working them out."

A voice from the other side of the bonfire called to Denby and the two, Black and White jogged off into the darkness down the Strand.

A man sat there in lotus position, floating about six inches above the ground.

"Denby, have you not yet found the thing inside you that will be the source of inspiration?"

"Hello Michael."

"Listen to your origins, my friend. Use them."

"And why are you still here, if you have attained Nirvana."

Nirvana?! No damn way!

A bellow of laughter erupted from Michael. "Nirvana?! No damn way! I was always chasing after the next best ass at the baths! I couldn't let go of the world until it was too late. And I know now roughly how much there is to learn."

Michael burped and a gold coin fell out of his mouth.

"O! Time to go soon!"

"You always were a great teacher, Michael. You were always dead on."

"I guess I was a better guide than example. Sorry about that." Michael examined the coin with wonder.

"Hope you are there when I cross over."

"If I am here." Michael said.

"That's what you said when we last met . . . on the Other Side."

"Yes, On the Other Side. You had a good idea for that story. Work on it some more."

"Well, there isn't any more Berlin Wall you know. The Soviet Union is gone since you, um changed."

Michael pondered, then said, "Well, that's nice. Still, work some more on the story. There is always an Other Side."

strolling into the firelight came a figure dressed in jungle fatigues

Then, strolling into the firelight came a figure dressed in jungle fatigues, followed by what looked like a legion of others, all dressed in black and wearing the silk sunhats favored by the Hmong and northern tribes of Vietnam.

"Hello Johnny."

"Hi, Denby."

They looked at one another a long while, before Denby spoke.

"Seems you finally have learned not to follow but to lead."

Johnny gave a sigh of despair."As you say, I always followed everyone until I enlisted and they put me in a command position, a position I should not have had."

"Because you were underage."

"No, because I had not learned to lead. I imagine they got pissed when they found out afterwards, but no. I really still need to learn how not to follow, to not do what everyone expects, to not always pursue."

"And these behind you?"

My chore is to . . . listen to them. From now until the Harrowing

"All those I killed or had killed or relatives. My chore is to learn from them and listen to them. From now until the Harrowing."

"That's harsh."

"I am lucky, my friend, for I at least know the day and the hour. Not many do. How is my brother?"

"I don't know," Denby said. "I saw him on a trip back . . . to the Old Town, some twenty years ago. He had just got let out of prison. He seemed to be . . . better. Haven't been back there otherwise for 35 years."

"Yeah, well, he was always a real pistol. Unlike me. He would never have stood up in the firefight. How, um . . . is 'Nam today? How is the war?"

The war is long over now, Johnny. They won and Vietnam is one country now

"The war is long over now, Johnny. They won and its one country now. We are friends with the government. We have similar problems elsewhere once again."

"Well, I didn't expect that! But I am happy for the Viet people; they suffered so much. Especially around Ap Ba where I . . . changed."

The figure in Army fatigues walked down the beach followed by his army of silent followers.

"Hello, Denby," a woman's voice said.

"Hello, Jean," Denby said. "You are new here."

Jean laughed. "Not sure how to take that!"

"So where is Olga?" Denby asked. "Are not the sisters reunited at last and the circle unbroken and all of that?"

"Denby," Jean said with the kindliest voice. "Olga was a real bitch. She has taken the Ferry already."

"So much for reconciliation in the afterlife."

Jean laughed. "The English side of the family was never close in life, and so it shall be for evermore. We're not like the Continental side you know -- they always had a fiery nature."

"That Olga tried to send me to Vietnam when I was just sixteen!"

She certainly put up a catfight before getting on the barque

"That may be something of why she got on the Ferry headed south instead of the Other Place. She certainly put up a catfight before getting on the barque. You should have seen her! Best show I have seen in years. Not very English, I must say, but then she was from the side with, well, you know, hot tempers. I think its going to get a lot hotter for the old now now! I came from the dowdy side where you weren't allowed to put on airs. Except for that Great Aunt who owned the Mews in London. Ever hook up with her when you were there?

"The opportunity to brush elbows with Royals somehow never came up."

"Pity. She acted opposite Mina Loy, you know. Well, got to go now. I have an appointment to do my hair."

"Uh, okay. See you whenever."

"Ta ta!"

A belt of laughter erupted from a divan where a woman reclined, stroking a cat. A rather large raptor perched on the couch near her head. Several gentlemen in tuxedos stood in waiting upon her.

I really could do for a lynx right now

"Well, Denby, you are really something! I really could do for a lynx right now."

"Yes madam!" One of the men said. "Right away!" And he ran off down the beach.

"Hello Lynn. Looks like you haven't changed."

"Denby, have you figured out what you want to be when you grow up yet?"

"Um I am more than a tad past fifty now, Lynn."

Lynn erupted in laughter. "What difference does that make? Some men remain babies their entire lives!"

A large furry head with tufted ears poked its head out from under the divan. "Why there you are! Just look at you! Now go over and give our friend Denby a kiss."

To Denby's alarm, a full-sized wildcat emerged impossibly from under the low divan and padded up to him. Right there in front of him it stood up on its haunches and placed its paws on Denby's shoulders to the right and to the left of his head.

"Uhh . . .", Denby said, shaking.

With a long, wet, sloppy kiss, the lynx ran its tongue from Denby's chin to his forehead.

"Hey! Mind the eyeglasses!" he said.

Jim laughed. "You two make a great pair!"

The big cat dropped down and padded back to Lynn's divan where it curled up at her feet.

"How did you manage to finagle this one, Lynn?"

"O, one of them I raised didn't live when they released them into the wild. So I get to keep him now. You know I worked for the New Mexico Fish and Game. Kept the orphans in the house until they were big enough to set free."

A hummingbird darted in front of Lynn's face, extended a tongue to her lips, then darted off.

"Animals all have souls too, you know."

"Animals all have souls too, you know." She said. "This is something for you to take back with you to the Other Side."

"As a sculptor I knew everything made has spirit." Jim said. "Learned that from the Ohlone growing up there."

"Too bad you gave up on making art," Denby said with a strong dose of bitterness.

"The Artist is not paid for his labor, but his vision," Jim said.

"Saw eight hawks on the river at Doyle's one morning, all in one tree. Was one of them you?"

"O, I never go back. But I do have a few messengers. How is Doyle? Still alive and kicking, since I don't see him here."

"Cranky as always. His daughter has really bloomed, though. Graduated from Colgate now."

"I am glad to hear that about Jessie," Lynn said.

Two girls in pinafores ran past the bonfire, giggling.

"I wish I had all eternity to talk to you about these things . . .".

"You could have been prolific,"Jim mused. "I wish I had all eternity to talk to you about these things," he added.

Somewhere an iron bell tolled. "Anyway . . . oh heck, there is so much to say and now either an eternity or no time at all."

Penny was standing there. "Time to go now, Denby."

"I have a lot of questions to ask." Denby said.

"I am sure you do," said Jim. "But you know, I have a lot of questions too. The truth is, not everything is answered. . . ".

A girl ran up and would have leapt over his legs but Jim reached out and grabbed her by the waist to pull her down on his lap where she put her hands to either side of her face before blurting, "Boo!" and laughing. "Boo!" said Jim, laughing also.

Little girls wearing nightdresses running barefoot

Brief flashes in the darkness. Little girls wearing nightdresses running barefoot between the bonfires on the beach, playing tag with bright eyes. Wind brought sea spray across the tidal mud flats. A girl ran right up to Denby and stared up at him with big dark eyes a long moment before whirling about to run off with her long hair flowing behind in the air like a flag.

"Who are these", he asked.

They are the not yet and never was . . .

"These are the Daughters of the Dust. They are the not yet and never was," said Penny, with a trace of rueful wistfulness not characteristic of her. "All the could-have-beens. Of Jim and his past. Of us two, and of others with you."

It took a moment to register, and then he remembered that she had said exactly the same thing the last time. And then she said to come with her now. Time was finished and soon the change of the hours would come.

Penny took him back to the wall, which he would not have found otherwise, as sight seemed to have become blurred by some saltwater carried on the air.

"Oh, you'll be back before long," Penny said. "Try to enjoy your stay where you are at for now. Fling yourself into Life while you still have it; at this point I don't regret a thing except waiting far too long to take up skydiving." She paused at the wall and looked with big eyes, a half-smile on her face. "And practice your singing. You really need lots of practice." A wet something touched his cheek..

"Didn't you say something like that last time . . ." Denby started, but she was already gone. Ephemeral and unattainable as she had been in life.

And after he climbed over that low wall, everything back there receded into a mist and there was only the stretch of water out to Babylon and the lights of Bayview and Hunters Point and the ring of the Coliseum. One by one the distant bonfires winked out until there was only the long and lonely empty length of beach with the lights of the apartment houses behind him.

He walked back to the Offices where only the Editor sat there behind his desk, his eyeglasses perched on his nose and his remaining hair flying about in an aureole about his head.

"You look positively awful!"

"Good god, Denby!" exclaimed the Editor. "You look positively awful!"

Denby shrugged, head down.

"Find out who is going to get the Presidential Election or when this damned Recession will come to an end?

"Somehow, those things did not come up."

The Editor sighed. "Rather bad this time, wasn't it?"

we all are going to need more than a stiff drink to get through

Denby said nothing. The Editor reached back behind him and brought out a bottle of Glenfiddich with two glasses. "Probably doesn't matter. When the Recession ends and who gets elected. Would anyone really do anything different if they knew? Doubt it. The way things are going, we all are going to need more than a stiff drink to get through and a stiff one is all we got. Ice?"

As they sat there with their glasses filled with ice and Glenfiddich and as the watches of the night turned over to reluctantly start the next day, right on schedule, as the locomotive wended its way through the Jack London Waterfront the long wail of the train whistle ululated across the moonlight diamond-sparkled waves of the estuary, across the spectral waves of the Bay, across the humped hills of Babylon and through the high singing wires of the barren and traffic-less Bay Bridge, over the turreted antennae of San Bruno Mountain and the quiet plots of Colma where the dew formed out of the fog, falling softly through the universe upon all, upon all of the living and the dead.

That is the way it is on the Island. Have a lively week. Live today as if someday the sun will rise without you there to see it.

Tonight I'm prayin',
Tonight I'm sayin',
Oh lord please take the
Train that takes me,
To Tishomingo,
'Way down old Dixie way,:
Where southern folks are
Always gay,
That's why you hear me say.
I'm goin' to Tishomingo.



OCTOBER 30, 2011


This week's photo comes from SFgate via Chad and is of the massive Left Coast Lifter putting the final deck piece of the new Eastern span of the Bay Bridge into place this weekend.

Say, maybe they can use the old bridge to house the homeless and hold Occupy protests . . . just kidding, just kidding.


Well, most of you have some idea about what happened this past week in Oaktown. Indeed, by now the entire world knows about it -- with video in vivid Technicolor.

We are not going to twist facts, re-report the news, or blather like a talking head with stupid opinions. Well, maybe a bit of the latter part later. We herewith present firsthand accounts from people who were there when the police marched in at 4:30 am under the pulse of over 10 helicopters with searchlights and teargas.

"What the news is telling you about the Occupy Oakland raid is not the whole truth. I was there for every single minute of it. At 5 am approx. 3-400 police surrounded the plaza in full riot gear and gave everyone 5 min. to exit. I moved to just outside the barrier they established because I am not in a position where I can get arrested right now. Myself and approx. 15-20 other protesters (one legal observer from the national lawyers guild) were facing approx. 30 police in riot gear and witnessing the "eviction."

It was brutal. Over 300 police in full riot gear fired tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bombs. They arrested over 90 people. Then, the 90 pound hippy chick right next to me was thrown to the pavement by a baton and she did NOTHING (we were outside of the plaza, mind you). I spoke loud and clear and reminded him that he attacked an unarmed WOMAN! Then they started pushing us back with barricades and when we didn't move as fast as they wished, they began grabbing people and trying to drag them over the fences. There was a struggle and then they came from behind the barricades swinging clubs and arresting everyone they could get their hands on... Slamming their faces into the concrete... many of them women. I barely got away. And when I asked them why were these people arrested, they said, 'I don't know... my superior ordered me, so I did.' They shut down the entire downtown with police barricades. Buses and the 12th Street Bart Station were shut down. They DESTROYED EVERYTHING in the camp... this was no eviction.


When those of us left regrouped and started a march in the streets to shut down Broadway, another formation came and more arrests were made. I could go on. It was insane. I've never seen anything like this in my life. You might wanna think about calling someone and saying something."

"I feel sick watching this. I was at the Occupy Oakland camp Sunday afternoon. It was a peaceful, relaxed vibe. Contrary to what has been said by the mayor, it was not unsanitary -- the wooden walkways set up between the tents were free of litter, and there were no bad smells (admittedly, a hint of marijuana odor in some places, but no urine or other unsanitary smells). I saw some marginalized,... mentally different people there, but nothing resembling violence in any interactions I witnessed -- people were lending out books, arranging workshops, resolving double-booking conflicts cooperatively. I can't believe the level of force used against people who were camping out because a) they don't have a home or b) they're trying to utilize their free speech rights. I know the police are also members of the 99% -- and when they're not in a heavily armed mob like this, I bet a lot of them realize it. Wow."

"I was working there across from the (plaza) and went down to talk to the campers there and was impressed by their organization and their care to keep the place clean. At Snow Park (another Occupy site not far from the Plaza) they even got a mower to cut the lawn. Not even the City does that!"

"I left there but I could feel the tension of something about to happen. The police felt really menacing that day. You just knew something was going to happen."

Here's the other side:

"The overnight camping had to end because of health and safety concerns," Oakland police said in a statement.

"There were a series of safety conditions, including numerous reports of fighting, assault and threatening/intimidating behavior" at the camp, police said in a statement. Medical responders could not get to the scene to provide medical care on at least two occasions, and fire and police also could not get through.

"Sanitation conditions worsened with frequent instances of public urination and defecation, as well as improper food storage," the police statement said. "The existing rodent problem in the park was exacerbated, and authorities were unable to control it because of the campers' presence. Graffiti, litter and vandalism also posed problems, police said.

Now here is our piece:

Video from several sources clearly showed a series of hyper-aggressive actions by police who marched in formation fully armed with all riot equipment, including face shields, riot shields, extended riot batons, and tear-gas equipment. There were orders to clear the area and a list of some violations which did not sound intelligible due to the loud ambient noise, which included low flying helicopters. It appeared that tear gas had already been deployed by firing exploding canisters from handheld launchers. The canisters would explode with the loud bang and a bright flash of flame, which is why some people thought the police were using flash-bang grenades.

Video clearly shows police lobbing exploding canisters into the midst of the people trying to aid injured Scott Olsen, the man whose skull was fractured after being shot in the head with a police projectile.

At no time were protesters taped throwing anything at police. All protesters were asleep in tents at 4:30am at the start of the action.

One video showed a cop wearing a gas mask screaming at a reporter from the Oakland Tribune holding a bag and a notebook. She kept yelling back "I am Press! I am Press!" until the man finally got that the conservatively dressed woman was not one of the protesters.

There is quite a lot of video from press helicopters showing what looks like a war zone below.

We think this police action is a heinous blot on the reputation of Oakland and of California in general. It serves only to provide more political fodder to despots in other parts of the world who point at American hypocrisy regarding democratic principles and has put peaceful resolution to the entire Occupy Wall Street Movement into a precarious situation nationwide, and locally, has put local leaders into a serious bind as the protesters have returned to the encampments now, virtually assured of remaining there for some time to come.

Furthermore, it was really, really stupid.

Helicopters and police activity continued in the area until well past 11:30pm that day. Succeeding protest marches led to more disturbances throughout the week. One of our people went out to Snow Park where the scene was relatively peaceful by Friday. Mayor Quan and the City Council have issued a public apology and the encampments have resumed.


It has come to El Dias de los Muertos. This period lasts about a week during which many families build ofrendas in the home to commemorate those who have died. It is believed that the dead come back to visit during this time. The last two days are reserved for visits to the cemetery, with the first day allotted to adults who have passed on, and the last day for the children. The rituals are particular to Mexico and Central America and stem back many thousands of years before the coming of the Europeans.

In pre-Columbian times, life was seen as dream, and only by dying did people truly awaken. Death was not feared because it was inevitable.

The visits in the past to the cemeteries often lasted all night while the families cleaned and decorated the gravesites.

Every year Oaktown closes several blocks in the Fruitvale district. Island-Life, with its own in-house ofrenda/ofreta for lost ones, sent a couple staffers over to check out this year's Dia de Los Muertos Festival.

Family dinners recollected.

Skulls are not feared, but seen as a sign of resurrection.

Evidence of the Occupy Wall Street movement chalked on the pavement. The text reads "Why 1% get 99% of the pie?" The comment in blue says, "It is not just."

This one is entirely made of sand.

The traditional paper banners are called "papel picado."

This ofrenda is for someone who died very young.

Ofrenda sometimes include photographs of the deceased.

A girlscout troop remembers a beloved leader.

The Aztec dancers can look spectacular.

The elders salute each corner of the compass with a prayer.

The drum is surprisingly loud.

Sugar skulls.

Plenty of vendors hawking all kinds of services and goods, but this one seems to catch the right spirit of things.


So anyway the weather was spectacular nice this week, although nights have been cooling down. Quite a contrast from snowmageddon happening right now in the East. Have to feel for the Occupy Wall Street folks who had their generators and propane confiscated shortly before the snow fell by the NYFD.

Yes, we do not get snow like that ever, but then again, they do not get earthquakes.

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

four Bin Ladens, a baker's dozen of ... Ghaddafis, and at least one premature Xmas present

Besides the usual feral female cats, a schooner's worth of pirates and assorted space aliens, the hall overflowed with a Mr. Hanky (that was Chris Lindberg, who held a devotion to the South Park television show), the Almeida family dressed as a bag of marshmallows, the Island-life Editor come as a dead and rotting Ronald Reagan, several members of Congress dripping with blood and looking a bit vampirish, four Bin Ladens, a baker's dozen of hastily done Ghaddafis, and at least one premature, but hopeful, Xmas present. Tommy, dressed as a hamster and Toby, dressed as an elderberry bush got into an argument that started over the upcoming presidential elections. Toby had been pro-Teaparty and Tommy had been virulently for wholesale health care reform. Toby, a converted Log Cabin Republican since he had met Tommy, slammed down a pan of flan, which did not help the settling of that delicacy in the slightest.

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

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

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

a hamster in the kitchen shouted at a weeping berry bush

Lynette, dressed as a chimney sweep sat there nursing an unaccustomed Manhattan on the comfy chair while a hamster in the kitchen shouted at a weeping berry bush. She had gotten into a snit with Susan over Proposition 19 (Marijuana legalization: Lynette for, Susan against because her brother had died of an heroin overdose).

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

The two had been married to the same woman, although at different times

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Hey! The canapés!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things really began to decay with long-term hatreds and grudges coming up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It should be hardly no surprise how Pimenta turned out

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

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

the way to resolve the Male Problem was to seize the bull by its horns

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

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

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

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

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

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

every time there is a full moon . . . Mr. Sanchez and . . . Ms. Morales can hear these footsteps . . .

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

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

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

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

The Editor left the party at the hall early to retreat to the relative calm of the Offices. That was the night after the eviction down at Frank Ogawa Plaza and a constellation of helicopters hovered over there across the estuary as the protest activity continued, and a sense of tension remained in the air, kept alive and aloft by the sound of the distant choppers. You couldn't block out the sound or forget about what was going on because you would look up at the sky, quite natural as always and there they were, ominous and oppressive.

The issue was mostly put to bed but one item of essential business remained. Staffers filtered in one by one for this last thing they had to do. What did they have to do when the issue had been largely put to bed?

The Island-Life Tradition, going on now for fourteen years.

The Island-Life Tradition, going on now for fourteen years.

"Rachel, hold the cup," commanded the Editor.

One by one the staffers reached in to remove a single straw. Then they all compared. All of the same length, but still straws in the cup.

"Again!" commanded the Editor. "Where's Denby?"

"I'm here," Denby said weakly from a dark corner.

"Bananas and booze, you look like something Fruitbat dragged in from the garden. Get over here and draw."

"Can I, like take a by this year . . ."?

"No! Draw!"

"Um, why?"

"Tradition! Draw!"

. . . in the end, Tradition won out.

And one by one they all drew straws, and in the end, Tradition won out. It usually does.

"Eff!" Denby said coarsely, and Rachel laughed.

Well, what is this Tradition and who drew the shortest straw and what does this all mean? You all will just have to find out next week. After the last day of El Dias de Los Muertos. And the Awful Task given to the Dreamer assigned. Yep. Next week.

O, but the night grows cold and the blood curdles and strange things flit beneath the crescent moon between the branches of the leafless trees.

As Denby held his fateful straw, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the autumn leaves blowing among the fateful grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its inexorable way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its age-old journey to meet its unknown destiny.

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

OCTOBER 23, 2011


You might not remember that Nirvana was the only band to feature the marigold flower in a rock song. Well, the song is not about flowers, but anyway . . . what better image for El Dias de Los Muertos, which begin today, continuing through November 2.

These are growing in that narrow strip along Lincoln where an enterprising houseowner has created a fabulous seasonal garden. Right now the strip features the orange and black theme.


The dapper Terence of Berkeley Rep let us know about a talk given by social activist/artist Eve Ensler this week to promote here latest project. One of our people managed to make it up there Friday afternoon to hear the Rep's artistic director Tony Taccione interview Ms. Ensler on stage, where she discussed her Emotional Creature stage project, which, although beta versions have played in Johannesburg and Paris, will celebrate the world premiere of a new show about the secret lives of girls at the Berkeley Rep in June, 2012.

The stage production is a theatrical realization of the book I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around The World, a collection of original monologues about and for girls that aims to inspire girls to take active control over their minds, bodies, hearts and curiosities. The book was released February 2010 by Random House and made The New York Times Best Seller list.

Eve Ensler is an American playwright, performer, feminist, activist, and cancer survivor best known for her play The Vagina Monologues, a work which won a 1996 Obie award for Best New Play. It has been translated into 45 languages and performed in 130 countries around the world.

Among her numerous awards and honorary doctorates, Ensler has been awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship Award in Playwriting, 1999, the Berrilla-Kerr Award for Playwriting, 2000, Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, 2001, Amnesty International Media Spotlight Award for Leadership, 2002.

Ms. Ensler has also been honored for her effort to end violence against women and girls by such organizations as Planned Parenthood (2004, 2006), The Women’s Prison Association (2004), Sahkti (2004), and several LGBT centers (2004,2006).

Her organization, V-Day, has raised over $80 million dollars around the world to support the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation, and sex slavery.

Her latest humanitarian project, The City of Joy, opened this year. The City of Joy is a new community for women survivors of gender violence in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). City of Joy will provide up to 180 Congolese women a year with an opportunity to benefit from group therapy; self-defense training; comprehensive sexuality education (covering HIV/AIDS, family planning); economic empowerment; storytelling; dance; theater; ecology and horticulture. Created from their vision, Congolese women will run, operate and direct City of Joy themselves.

The ongoing violence in the DRC has been staggering, as well as ghastly, resulting in 6 million deaths due to internecine violence and the brutal rape of hundreds of thousands of woman in organized military repression sweeps. Many of the women have been so violently and repeatedly raped that their internal organs needed to be surgically repaired.

We did some fact-checking and it all is astounding true, including the City of Joy (not to be confused with the multi-country religious-oriented NGO called City of Hope).

A look at a news report (Todd Heisler/The New York Times) presents the following language:

"The gleaming new compound of brick homes, big classrooms, courtyards and verandahs will be a campus where small groups of Congolese women, most of them rape victims, will be groomed to become leaders in their communities so they can eventually rise up and, Ms. Ensler hopes, change the sclerotic politics of this country. They will take courses in self-defense, computers and human rights; learn trades and farming; try to exorcise their traumas with therapy sessions and dance; and then return to their home villages to empower others.

The center, built partly by the hands of the women themselves, cost around $1 million. Unicef contributed a substantial amount, and the rest was raised from foundations and private donors by Ms. Ensler’s advocacy group, V-Day. Google is donating a computer center."

Her new theatre project, Emotional Creature, staged by Obie Award-winning director Jo Bonney, is made up of original monologues, irresistible songs, and music about and for girls. Placing their stories squarely center stage, it gives full expression to their secret voices and innermost thoughts, highlighting the diversity and commonality of the issues they face. Emotional Creature is a call, a reckoning, an education, an act of empowerment for girls, and an illumination for parents and for us all.

WHERE: Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison Street @ Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94704

WHEN: June 15 -July 15, 2012
• Tuesdays, and Fridays @ 8:00 PM
• Wednesdays @ 7:00 PM (except opening on June 20 @ 8:00 PM)
• Thursdays @ 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
• Saturdays @ 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
• Sundays @ 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM

• No matinees on 6/16, 6/17, 6/21 or 6/28
• No performances on 7/4 or 7/13

Tickets go on sale to subscribers on 10/26 and to the public on 11/6.

HOW MUCH: $14.50 - $73 (subject to change)

Discounts: * Half-price tickets available for anyone under 30 years of age
* $10 discount for students and seniors one hour before curtain
* Groups of 15 or more, contact (510) 647-2918 or

We found Ms. Ensler to be lively, engaging, intelligent and surprisingly warm and non-confrontational during her interview. If anything, she is one who puts the feminine back into Feminist, understanding effective action is better than cathartic stridency. She knows that if you want to shunt the entire world away from abject horror you are not going to get anywhere by shouting at the problem. Mostly. She certainly believes that getting angry is critically important, but channeling that anger constructively works better than self-defeating shrillness. After all, no one can wield a pneumatic drill to build a building while screaming.


We were fortunate to sit next to a quietly remarkable person in the form of Dr. Donna Guenther while listening to Eve Ensler at the Rep. Turns out Dr. Guenther is something of an activist herself, finding the idea of retirement from her position as Chief of Immunology and Allergy at Oakland Children's Hospital involves sailing around the world (twice), visiting Tibet, learning a few Asian languages and throwing herself at the vast problem of AIDS in India while photographing dozens of AIDS projects in an effort to document and publicize the problem of HIV/AIDS in India, where the ravaging disease is claiming a staggering number of victims due to the high population density of the country and social stigmas that inhibit prevention as well as treatment modalities.

You can see some photos and learn a little more about the current status of AIDS work at her website, which serves as a mini-clearinghouse for information.

Dr. Guenther is one reason we claim here that the East Bay is the warmer side of the Bay.
Well, we had to work in the local angle somehow . . .


Well the Island is not exactly Ohio, but fans of Chrissie Hynde certainly recalled the bitter words of that song when they stumbled on what happened on Park Street this week.

All down the street, where the proud trees that make this Island city unique had once shaded the sidewalks gleamed stumps, sad eyesores and reminders of what once was. Calls started pouring into the newsdesk here. Whussup with this new idiocy of Silly Hall? Why was there no warning, no public discussion?

Well, to begin with, we did have a warning (sort of) back on September 30th in the form of a City Press Release from Public Works, which stated:

"The City proceeding with the next phase of the Park Street Streetscape project. The project limit is Park Street, from Lincoln Avenue to Webb Avenue, and from Central Avenue to San Jose Avenue. The work will consist of the installation of street trees, street lights, accessible curb ramps, bike racks, bus shelters, and parking meter pay stations, as well as the reconstruction of portions of curbs, gutters, and sidewalks."

The release goes on to talk about how the project is funded and the inconvenience of periodic access, however there is NO mention of the arboreal destruction witnessed. And which is not finished, mind you.

Park Street Business Association head Rob Ratto says the trees are coming down to allow space for new, better lighting, and also because the existing trees are not in good health.

"A lot of those trees are damaged or gnarled and probably needed to be replaced many years ago," Ratto said. "And, in the case of the Starbucks tree, it is way out of proportion with the street."

The general assumption seems to be that the trees will be replaced with ones similar to what was put in along Webster.

Which means the place will look clean, spare and Spartan. And most of us really liked that tree in front of Starbucks. Now its like sipping coffee in the Mohave after a grassfire.


A 4.0 magnitude earthquake shook the East Bay Thursday afternoon with a short sharp rocker.

The quake hit at 2:41 p.m. It was centered in Berkeley, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In addition to being felt on the Island, the quake rocked Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Union City, San Leandro, Lafayette and the San Ramon Valley, among other places.

Berkeley police said they have not received any reports of damage or injuries but have gotten some calls about car and building alarms that were activated by the quake.

Keith Knudsen, deputy director of the USGS Earthquake Science Center in Menlo Park, said today's temblor was a standard Hayward Fault Line quake.

Another quake rocked the Bay Area Thursday at 8:16 p.m., five hours after this one, and having a preliminary magnitude of 3.9.


Phil Ochs would find today's issues pretty darn familiar. Folks watching KTVU national news were startled to hear and see the announcer say prior to a report on the burgeoning Occupy Wallstreet protests, "And now we go to the front of City Hall in Alameda where our reporter is now interviewing protesters . . .".


Alamedans gathered in front of City Hall Tuesday evening to protest what they see as growing economic inequities in the United States.

After a few comments from the crowd, the marchers made their way down Santa Clara Avenue to the Bank of America on Park Street.

Protesters talked about pulling their money out of big banks and putting it in credit unions.

"We're here to say no to corporate greed," said organizer Katherine Culberg. "And the excessive influence big business has on our government's policies."

In the Bay Area, cities from San Leandro to Walnut Creek — as well, of course, as Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco have been the site of protests.

Most of the comments centered on the unfair taxation which has overly favored the extremely wealthy for the past thirty years, and a desire to be part of a movement that is sweeping the nation.

Tuesday's protest was a micro-version of what is going on in hundreds, if not thousands of cities and towns across the country and around the world since the beginnings of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City in early September. And like the good Islanders we are, we did our protest politely without breaking anything and we picked up all the litter.


In hopeful celebration of improved employment status, Islandlifers toddled on over to the Oaktown Coliseum to catch office faves The Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl kicked off a nonstop kickass 23 song set by saying, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Foo Fighters rock 'n' roll show. We need to begin by saying: It's going to be a long (expletive) night. We hope none of you has to work tomorrow, cause we don't do no 2 hour fifteen minute shows. We have been together 17 years and we know a lot of songs. We are going to play all night!"

Well, Dave Grohl and crew didn't play all night, but they did crank out a good 2.5 hours at a blistering pace, starting with "Bridge Burning" and "Rope," the first two songs on this year's "Wasting Light" album, and then amped it up further for "The Pretender," from 2007's "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace."

There were only a few breaks, during which Grohl joked with the crowd. Before launching into "Fingernails are Pretty," a song that stems from the days Nirvana performed at venues as small as Slim's, he commented, "This goes out to all the old fans who remember. One of these days I am going to chase down your sorry forty-something asses!"

For the encore Grohl returned to the stage after a short, noisy break to play an extended, six-song encore. Armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar, he serenaded the audience with solo performances of “Long Road to Ruin” and “Best of You” before the rest of the band joined him for a ripping version of the 2002 hit, “Times Like These.” Grohl then called alt-rock legend Bob Mould on-stage to perform on the Foo Fighters' "Dear Rosemary" and Tom Petty's "Breakdown."

Bob Mould's Husker Du is often credited with creating the fuzzy guitar attack that became adopted by the post-punk Grunge movement that featured Nirvana.

As Jim Harrington of the Contra Costa Times said, "The latter number, which featured Grohl and Mould trading licks in the style of Petty and sideman Mike Campbell, ranked as one of the most memorable concert moments of the year."

This is from a critic who seldom has much good to say about anybody. He pretty much is convinced all the songs by the Foos are pretty much the same song repackaged umpteen times. But repackaged very, very well.

At least one other critic did note that Grohl pretty much carried the entire evening with his flailing guitar, rockstar antics running up and down the stage extension into the pit, and screaming bloody murder, while the rest of the band looked pretty tired from the getgo. In the phoning home accusation we would have to except drummer Taylor Hawkins, who still performs like a mad dervish with that tense, toothy grimace he has displayed for the past 17 years.

The current version of the live Foos -- we note they have gone through several subtle musical slants while still preserving the spirit and energy of the early days possesses a strong heavy metal flavor. That night we definitely heard shades of Husker Du as well as Black Sabbath and Metallica, especially in the familiar "chunka chunka chunka" guitar bridges. The songs are more differentiated on the albums, and we think that the rockstar arena context results in Grohl choosing to slash and bash with a take-no-prisoners frenetic energy through things that the fans already know well enough to sing along with. In fact they pretty much filled the chorus for "There Goes My Hero". You definitely cannot fault the man for not knowing what he is doing -- and enjoying every delicious and triumphant second of it. He definitely silenced all the crabby faux punkrockers who dissed him for the Berkeley acoustic concerts a while back.

One thing he does do that can become mentionable if you go to several Foo Fighter concerts in succession, is that every song builds to the same sort of dramatic crescendo in performance, while the studio work is more thoughtful.

For the ecstatic, roaring fans that packed the sold out Coliseum, it was all good.

Addendum: a Lifer mentioned that Dave remained in town to do a brief acoustic set Sunday at the Bridge School Benefit, where apparently the kids who Peggy gets to sit at the back of the stage went wild for him.



So anyway this week on the Island the sun pushed back the impending season even as the shadows grew longer and the days shorter. When it gets like that, we say "this feels like earthquake weather," as if temperature and clouds have an influence upon tectonic plates. Maybe they do, and nobody has figured it out yet.

All the news has been about how its just about to turn around and there are "encouraging signs". Well we have had encouraging signs for six, seven years now. No one is really happy save for certain kinds of savage Conservatives who really, really like the fact that people are suffering. Heck, its making the illegals pack up and go back home, for its better to starve in a place where everybody speaks the same language than here where people are unused to wormy apples in golden Paradise.

We've been to Paradise, California. Don't go there.

We've been to Paradise, California. Don't go there -- it sucks; the name is ironic. It's dusty and hot and poor as dirt.

And as long as things are really bad, that works for Conservatives who want to get elected on vague promises that cutting taxes for filthy rich people with grow jobs like magic. Gimmic plans built on slogans like 9-9-9 or 6-6-6. During troubled times people gravitate to men who wave their arms around, sing badly, and sound "strong" and "firm" and have either Grecian Formula 16 on their temples or no hair at all. Like Mussolini. There was a fellow who got elected on the promise of getting things done, by George.

And didn't the End of the World happen again on the 21st? Howard Camping sounded far too doubtful the last time around. "Oy, maybe today, maybe tomorrow. All I know is the End is coming for sure on or around or pretty near the 21st. . .".

Howard Camping is famous for having famously predicted the End of the World. Obviously, if you are reading this, that did not happen. Not in May, when he last predicted the EOW and not on the 21st of October.

Just don't try to get yourself drowned or they'll likely turn the event into a committee meeting.

He also notably lives here on the Island, which is just another home for crackpots and strident types, apparently. Just don't try to get yourself drowned or they'll likely turn the event into a committee meeting.

People come to California because its not Minnesota. That means you can try to be yourself, whatever that might be, and the roll of the dice say there are fewer people trying to kill yourself for doing that here.

It still happens. Some poor biker just got run over on 580 in a road rage incident by, of all things, a bus driver for a handicapped senior citizens nonprofit. Not only did he get run over, but the bus driver dragged his body for about a mile, and the bike for another mile before pulling over with the vague premonition he had just done something wrong.

That's right, you do not treat American-made Harley's that way mister! So you just better learn to respect American industry!

And that biker probably thought he was just living the Life and being himself.

Decent living ducks refuse to participate in that embarrassing enterprise . . .

Meanwhile life goes on. Everybody already here lives here because there is no other place to go, other than down the coast to LA. The Man from Minot is definitely not going back there, for Minot is a carbuncle appended to a vast desert of culture that is mediated only by the relatively close proximity of Canada where the closest city is none other than Winnipeg, notable for possessing the coldest winter weather in North America and where the annual major event is the rubber duck race in the river. Decent living ducks refuse to participate in that embarrassing enterprise, so the town fathers release several hundred thousand plastic ducks in the river and people bet on which one will first pass under the bridge.

Some family of Island-Life staff live in Winnipeg, but their origins were Germany, which is just as dismal all the time, apparently. Winnipeg remains quite a wierd place and if you do not believe us, rent "My Winnipeg" some time.

And sometimes its really a good idea to leave a place you have outgrown, while sometimes its a really good idea to remain where you have roots. Nobody had call the shots for you, even though everyone will have a personal opinion.

One thing is certain, if you leave, don't ever go back. We know that is often, not always, but often a really bad idea.

Sharon came to California the old fashioned way, the hard way . . .

Sharon came to California the old fashioned way, the hard way, the way you are supposed to come here. She drove across the country from the East, encountered troubles and bad weather and avaricious cowboys along the way, crashed her car and got laid up in the hospital, and finally arrived to settle in for several decades working as a crisis nurse for some pretty bad-ass emergency rooms, but along the way pretty much settled in to the pulse and flow of California as it manifests itself in the Bay Area.

Sharon, after a nasty divorce -- caused by some particularly horrific domestic brutality that cost her a few teeth -- left the Island to return to Fairfax County in Virginia. She thought, well, isn't this what I am supposed to do, even though it feels wrong? So she landed in that airport with the name of a really ugly, horrible politician and took a cab in from there to the old neighborhood. The place where she remembered scampering amid mossy willows beside an enormous swamp bordered by farmland had become a town of 30,000 people. It had been the so-called "Chiles' Tract" because Old Man Chiles had promised that as long as he lived, the farms and farmers there on the largest undeveloped land tract that lay within urban metropolitan borders could remain to pursue their livelihood and family businesses going back to before 1776.

Well, the Old Man died and the heirs had no such emotional connections, so the tract had been acrimoniously split up in a thousand lawsuits among them and sold to pay the lawyers.

. . . strange men always came up to her when she traveled . . .

So she hunted down a Starbucks -- there was no Peets to be found -- and sat their with a chai she found she had to explain how to make to the barista and a man came up to her -- strange men always came up to her when she traveled -- and this man wanted to know if she was a rock star.


Well, the leather pants, said the man. We don't wear leather pants around here. Definitely not bright red.

So Sharon made up a story how she was part of a band called the "Monkey Spankers" and in town for just one night and left feeling less like a returnee than Brother from Another Planet.

Those tattoos mean anything, the man called after her. She did not want to talk to him anymore.

That night she roomed in a hotel on the 25th floor because she really did not know anyone anymore in her hometown. No one she could stay with or anyone who would take her. Most of her old friends had either died of AIDS or been gunned down in the underreported violence that is the real Washington DC outside of the boundaries travelled by Congress and diplomats.

There was Jack, who maybe might remember her. And that aunt dying in a nursing home. Not many others.

the high school ...had morphed into a colossus of 2,500 students

In the morning she went down and read the paper. She should have read the Post, but she found the Chronicle, which, as bad as the paper had become, felt homey and comfortable to her. She couldn't remember the names of the places here. Most of them had changed anyway. They had a Metro like the BART now, and they did not have that then when she had been small. So the centers of everthing had changed to around the Metro stops. All the bus lines were foreign. She went to the edge of the high school in Alexandria which had morphed into a colossus of 2,500 students. The place was huge and the old track where she had run laps had been repaved with some kind of new red rubber stuff instead of the black macadam she remembered. So she left there without going in.

It was at a small restaurant there in Alexandria, some kind of faux Mexican place with garish lighting that she found her purse missing. Someone had snatched it while she had been looking through the newspaper stacks for want ads.

Fortunately, as a seasoned traveller, she had lost only a few cosmetics, a load of cash of course, some cards, her cell phone.

So she went back to the hotel and started making calls to cancel the cards. She still had a card in the hotel so she went down to the desk and asked where was a good place to hear music around here.

"What's wrong with the radio in your room?" the desk clerk said. "Is it broken?"

Sharon was puzzled and set back. Her brother had been a musician. What was wrong with this man and what was wrong with this hotel?

"I mean, where can I hear live music?"

I don't know of any place in Northern Virginia to hear music.

The deskclerk was stumped. He had no idea. "I don't know of any place in Northern Virginia to hear music. They have Wolf Trap for events, I know. I can look that one up for you."

There is no, like bar, or cafe where people just come and play? You are a deskclerk for a hotel at the edge of a major metropolitan city and you do not know where I can go to hear live music here?

"O heck, for that you gotta drive into DC. I am sure of that."

How far is that?

"About nine, ten miles or so. But with the traffic it might take a few hours to get there."

Thank you.

She went up and cried. Not the first time on this trip.

There was a family reunion of cousins and second cousins on which she pinned her last hopes. When she got there, she saw the bundt cake on the table, dripping with white icing, the ambrosia, the jello, and knew right away, this was not the place for her.

"Hi, I'm Jake from the Worchester Woodles," said a florid man wearing a tie and plaid sportcoat. It was Saturday. "What's with the tattoos?"

Jake got into a fight with his wife and then very drunk as the day progressed.

"Hey, I remember you!" said a guy with a beard. "You broke your ankle and everybody laughed at you. I remember that!"

O yeah, I kinda forgot.

"Man you got treated like a queen when they figured it out. You remember that part"

No, not really. I remember people throwing rocks at me.

"No kiddin'. Kids are kids all right. So how's livin' in the fruit and nut bowl of the world out west?"

"Why Sharon!" A large woman with flaming, artificially reddened hair came up to her. "My how you . . .".

She quickly realized it was very wrong to be arch with Olga

Yes, how you have grown, Sharon said. She quickly realized it was very wrong to be arch with Olga, her great aunt.

She remembered Olga trying to get her to enlist in the Marines fight in Vietnam. "Women can add so much to the war effort in all they can do! Why they can fight and die as well as the best of men!" Olga had despised hippies.

Things were noticeably cool between her and Olga the rest of the afternoon. These people had not accepted who she was then, and most definitely would not accept her now. They wanted something comfortable and familiar, and there is nothing wrong with that, but she had never been comfortable or familiar.

"You look like some kinda rock star dressed like that," Uncle Ned said. "Don't nobody in the family have talent for music."

There was Micheal, my brother.

"He did that stuff they call punk rock; that ain't music. Don't nobody know how to write goddamn songs no more."

To each their own.

"You just don't put on airs around here, missy. Just 'cause you been places like effing California."

Ned, You are drunk.

"So what if I am. That California is full a pinkos and faggots, that's what it is. And lemmee tell you another thing . . .".

But the best was yet to come.

The plane banked over Burlingame along the familiar flight path, her eyes greedily taking it all in. When it touched down at SFO, all the passengers applauded a perfect three point landing. But the best was yet to come.

When Sharon stepped out onto the concourse after leaving the baggage area, she encountered a squad of orange toga-wearing figures with shaved heads. They were pounding little drums and chanting, "Hari Krishna! Hari! Hari! Hari! Krishna!"

Sharon dropped her bags and ran up to the first monk she found and grabbed the startled man in an embrace.

"God bless you, I love you! I love all of you!"

Sharon had returned home.

Reverend Bauer of the Lutheran church roared by on his Harley

In the Old Same Place Bar Father Danyluk stepped in to check up on Padraic and work on his next sermon. Some folks might be surprised that a Catholic priest would choose a bar in which to write his sermon, but Fr. Danyluk would simply indicate that Jesus typically hung out not with the supposedly pure, but the harlots and the hounds, the sinners and the ones who he felt needed him most. Reverend Bauer of the Lutheran church roared by on his Harley after visiting the deathly ill. That is California. We do have some advantages, disputacious though they may be.

The old priest sat there at his table with his Shirley Temple and cogitated. A friend of his was feeling the ephemeral nature of life and was beginning to have some doubts, and the priest felt that if ever a soul was to be saved, this was the time, for the man was having doubts about faith.

He thought he should pick this or that thing from the Bible, and he thought he should extemporize on comfortable, reassuring subjects until he angrily scrunched up the paper and threw it to the floor. This is a man, mind you, who has been stationed in Africa and seen the worst that man and nature can do to a human being many times over. Danyluk had no patience for cant and rhetoric, while most of his colleagues, well, seemed off in lala land, drifting on clouds of their own words.

California is not reassuring; it is a land of tumult

California is not reassuring; it is a land of tumult, undergoing constant change. Point Reyes used to be a suburb of Los Angeles. It is very important to understand this, to appreciate the land fully.

In the end, it was recollecting the pathetic figure of Howard Camping, who in that moment most assuredly was suffering ungodly pangs of doubt, since the failure of his own prophecies.

"Brothers and sisters, it was said unto you, "you shall know not the day nor the hour . . ". Indeed, what madness to say with any certainty that you and only you will know the day and hour. None shall know. How great a blessing that is, how optimistic! Most people forget that Jesus was an optimist; he saw the good in the most wretched of the earth. And it began with Moses. It really all began there. He said, "I am not going to see the Promised Land, but you will! Oy, veh iss mir! But enjoy! Enjoy!"

It worked better than that ridiculous Just Say No business.

Right then Sister Sandra of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence came steaming into the bar. Sister Sandra, Bob Riever by day, swished up to the bar and ordered a mojito. The Sisters had been performing, um, appearing, at a festival in Contra Costa, there to spread HIV awareness and sell Indulgences and Sin Pardons. The Indulgences paid for new habits and dry cleaning. The HIV awareness paid for saving lives. It worked better than that ridiculous Just Say No business.

The Sister got her drink and plotzed next to Father Danyluk who looked up with irritation from his sermon.

"Well really daddy-o, it wouldn't be right if we ignored one another," Sister Sandra said.

"You know," Father Danyluk said, "You are a little over the top."

"Yes, that is true, sadly true," Sister Sandra said. "But the truth is, so are you. That is why they come to me. They would never come to me if your church was completely kind and honest. They would not come to me if they did not need to believe in themselves."

And so the two of them sat together, the sinner and the saint, and who was to say which was which in that moment? For this is California, a place like no other.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the autumn leaves blowing among the doubtful grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its questing journey to parts unknown.

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

OCTOBER 16, 2011


This week we have not one, but two, yes two (2) headline photos, both dealing with what's going now in virtually every major city in the world. First we have our own Island take submitted by Island-Lifer Carol.

Well, we really are too Midwestern"nice" here and would never think about causing a serious ruckus that might involve loud noise and possible traffic troubles, not to mention litter.

In a more serious vein, we are reposting a photo taken by Ryan Bethem and forwarded by Colgate alum Cindy Manit of the crowd this weekend near the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco. FOX Screws has reported (excuse us, we meant FOX Entertainment Network) that the Occupy Wallstreet movement is conducted and attended by only a small handful of radical troublemakers.

At last real report, several thousands are collecting in virtually every major city in the world to protest the vastly increased economic inequities which in this country have been fostered and aggravated by the Bushies and Reaganites.


This photo remembers a dreadful anniversary for the death of Matthew Shepard, who was savagely beaten, tortured, and then tied to a barbed wire fence near Laramie, Wyoming with no coat or hat in October of 1998, where temperatures typically drop well below zero. The cyclist who discovered the man still alive but in a coma 18 hours later did not recognize the figure as human because of the victim's battered and lacerated condition.

During the subsequent murder trial, witnesses stated that Shepard was targeted because of his sexual orientation.

The crime so shocked the nation that all of the state and national legislatures pushed forth hate crimes legislation. It was not until 2009, however, that the national Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.



Most folks know that the City Council has postponed debate and vote on the Kemper Sports/Harbor Bay Assoc. land swap package of deals until December 13.

Well a couple more organizations have arisen to fight this thing, following the lead of ACT. We have a note from Citizens Against the Land Swap and a few more from other orgs that have arisen spontaneously over these issues.

People need to know that there will be a discussion this month on 24th (Monday) to discuss the Environmental Impact reports.

We include the text sent to us in its entirety below:

"IMPORTANT: Planning Board meeting
Monday October 24th, 7:00pm

PURPOSE: Planning Board seeking public input on the
Draft Environmental Impact Report( EIR)
RE: the proposed Golf Course Land Swap

WHERE: City Hall Chambers, Santa Clara/Oak St.

It is very important for all homeowners to attend this EIR public scoping meeting. It is an opportunity for you to make sure your concerns or opposition to the plan are included in any future EIR report and for the city to hear how seriously you take this issue.
The draft EIR addresses 3 components of the swap:

1) Construction of 130 homes, up to 3 stories tall, on 12 acres of the Mif Albright 9 hole short course, at the juncture of Island Drive Maitland and Golf Course Way, resulting in increased traffic for all of Bay Farm and Fernside area.

Soon to arrive are an additional 400 workers at JanSport at Harbor Bay Landing further increasing the number of cars and auto pollution.

2) Environmental results of reconfiguration of the 100 acre south golf course, located on a former garbage dump to fit in a new 9-hole short course consequences include removal of hundreds of trees, including MIf memorialized trees.

3) Construction of playing fields on 12 acres of land on North Loop road in the Harbor Bay Business Park. Although touted as a potential multipurpose sports field by Cowan (HBIA), Alameda Sports Community leaders say that the North Loop business property may be sufficient for soccer and football but it's is too narrow (200 ft) for baseball. Its use only limited to softball for children. Sports community leaders would largely prefer the City master planned Alameda Point Sports Complex which would provide many multipurpose fields, plenty of parking and be a benefit to the Alameda economy. City dollars should be flowing to build this complex not to an inadequate out of the way 12 acre sand lot in a business park.
Please consider how these 3 components of the report will affect you and your family, your neighborhood, and neighbors on the main island.

However, additionally you may raise any issues regarding this swap or environmental concerns that you wish to emphasize.

Below are some suggested ideas:
Schools - 130 homes means an increase in the student population. Are children supposed to cross Island Drive to attend elementary school? Is Lincoln Middle School able to accommodate additional students?
Harbor Bay and Bay Farm is special largely because of its urban forest appeal; trees, ponds and lagoons with hundreds of migratory birds, raptors, song birds and other wildlife including the California pond turtle, burrowing owl and snowy egrets. Many birds and small animals will be impacted by this development as well. The results of bulldozing the Mif Albright Course alone will destroy at least 150 trees and disturb wildlife and habitat.
Here are the City Council E addresses: Contact and share your concerns and opposition to this swap plan. They need to hear from you.

Thank you,
Citizens Against the Golf Swap

Please put Tuesday October 24th on your calendar. Come, listen, ask questions and express your opinion. Please forward this announcement. This is extremely important for the future of Bay Farm/Harbor Bay Isle and all of Alameda. "


After a recent public discussion at City Hall over the Gijalva report on the Memorial Day drowning fiasco that claimed the life of Raymond Zack tempers remain high with some locals saying the report failed to charge anyone with sufficient responsibility -- read culpability -- for the death. These folks now are working to have the County take over local firefighting duties.

We do have some firsthand reports from that discussion, and learned that passions ran so high in the third floor chambers that the normal 3 minute talking limit was removed so that people could speak their peace. Also, we learned that at least one other civilian entered the water and attempted a rescue, but was restrained by police at the scene. The civilian was described by our informant only as "an elderly female, possibly in her eighties."


Remember when Target contemplated moving into the Southshore Mall? Well, just like Ross, the chain has not given up here, seeing dollars in a place where some of the stores here are losing traffic due to high price structures and obnoxious antiunion stances.

Target may drop a retail outlet at the Landing near the Tube where Mitchell Avenue meets Mariner Square Loop. The retailer would be a good fit here in terms of style and price structure and an excellent replacement for the outlet that used to be just across the water off of Eighth Street.

Some fool thought that fleeing in a car to the Island would be a good way to escape in a stolen car while pursued by County Sheriffs from San Leandro late Thursday night. The suspect left the vehicle and ran into a house between Stanford and Clement Streets. That is pretty specific, so its pretty likely the guy will be in cuffs before long, and the police indicated they "have a suspect in mind."

Maybe it was the weather, but the weekend saw quite a number of vehicle altercations around the Post Office at Southshore. Saturday, a motorist struck and injured a bicyclist, another car knocked down the stop sign at the Post Office exit, and a BMW was up on the curb, half straddling the pedestrian thoroughfare there along Otis about half a block away. The BMW looked like something angry had gone over it with a nine-pound hammer.

People, people, people, please drive like you just might kill someone's child or mother. You do not want to live with that on you.


The Raider Nation got some condolence this weekend for the loss of its 82 year old owner. Al Davis passed away last Saturday and all the media has been full of Davis stories. The contentious, irascible Brooklyn-born owner seized direct coaching control of his team from the day in 1963 he assumed the coach/general manager role. He changed the team colors to the current Silver/Black scheme and promulgated a hard-hitting, pugnacious and aggressive style of football that earned quite a number of detractors and enemies, although it did lead to five visits to the Superbowl

He was the first NFL owner to hire a Black man as head coach (Art Shell), the first Latino coach (Tom Flores) and was the first to hire a female chief executive officer (Amy Trask). Many of the Raider fans had become disenchanted with his coaching style, and urged him to sell the team even as Davis fired another salvo of lawsuits against the NFL and contemplated moving the entire franchise to Los Angeles.

At his memorial, the contentious man was not so much missed as recognized.

An Islander Good Deed of the Day: When a school bus pulled up in Jack London Square and a man got out, looking a little lost and asking for directions, he and the bus were fortunate to run into a pair of Islanders who informed the man he had been dropped off in the wrong city. The bus driver was about to depart when the Islanders flagged him down, only to learn the driver also did not know in what city he had arrived. Maps were consulted and the bus was sent with good directions on its way.

Congratulations to Cathy and Roger Moppin, who celebrated their 35th Anniversary in Oaktown this weekend. Cathy Moppin is the daughter of John Henry, one of the fabled Million Dollar Backfield players for the 49'ers. John Henry passed away this year, one of the last Hall of Famers to have started football when "protection" consisted of a leather helmet and a very hard forearm.

The Moppins held the public portion of their celebration in Kincaids, where Island-Life was fortunate to participate with two staffers who discussed the crime situation in Oaktown with native Oaktowners.


Angel reported that she owns a home in the thirties and works a graveyard shift off International Boulevard and that, yes, it is much worse now with nightly gunshots. Responsible teens and parents now hold locked parties in which the keys are taken on arrival and no one is allowed to venture out until morning because of the violence related to drug dealing that essentially has seized control of the Fruitvale district. Everyone now has a story about someone who was shot.

She said that because the police use the work parkinglot as a staging area, she is safe -- so long as she remains inside the building for the entire shift from 11 to 7am. She dare not leave the building until then.

When the discussion referred to a child who had been shot and killed by a stray bullet, the response was "Oh, which one of them you talking about?" because the numbers are staggeringly large. A man was shot and killed laying on his couch while watching a football game when the bullet intended for someone else smacked through the walls of his house, his entertainment center and finally killed him.

One mother there described how her daughter phoned the police, and then her, while a man stood next to her bragging about how he had just killed another man an hour ago. The victim turned out to be the young girl's cousin.



So anyway, a last ditch blast of a heat wave sizzled the Bay Area, and the Island in particular this week. The Island, of course is our hometown set here in California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Really. It is! Right on the edge there.

Most of the Island's accomplishments and notables tend to the modest and the long-ago. We used to have a fabulous seaside family water park, but it was not as big or storied as Playland by the Beach and its long gone now.

The Doolittle raiders started from the former Navy base here, but the Base is closed, and the raiders just left on carriers quietly because they didn't want to call attention to themselves.

Dancing was outlawed here, briefly, as it was felt it might lead to salacious acts.

Dancing was outlawed here, briefly, as it was felt it might lead to salacious acts. But that didn't last long because the people at the Senior Center complained.

Someone recently tried to set up a comedy club on High Street, but too many people didn't see the humor or the point, so that fell through.

You might a native speaking this way: "So a duck walked into a bar, that's not so funny. What you say there's a punchline? Well I am not so sure about that and I do not care about why some poultry crossed the road either. Don't have time for such foolishness. Those people probably all came to California from someplace else expecting hippy flowerpower. I tell them to just go away. It aint funny. . .".

Out on the base, with all that open space where the airfield used to be, the least tern has found a home. You can lay an egg or two out there in all that concrete and grass and nobody will come along to step on it. The least tern is somewhat endangered as a species, or so they say, and it just fits us by nature that instead of the Greater Tern, or the California Condor, or the Glad Auk of Aukland we get the least tern to settle among us. Him and scads of Canadian geese who have decided that Rio is too far a piece to get to each year. Most of the geese do head on south, party a good deal, then turn around and head back to Canada or Minnesota or Vancouver where the food has gotten better because of all the ex-pats from Hong Kong who have settled there.

You can choose lutefisk or you can choose egg rolls; we know already what we have chosen, so we leave it to you.

Now we are a good deal different from Minnesota and Vancouver and Edmonton. We have better weather and everyone agrees about that. We have been to Winnipeg, where a lot of those geese come from and we are not going back. No one should live in a place where your pee freezes before it hits the ground. We don't have Minnesota Ice, which we just learned about, and we don't have Canadians with all of their hockey puck issues and crazy people trying to befriend grizzly bears.

That might be Alaska, but if that place is full of people like Sarah Palin, who goes around shooting wolves from helicopters, the Canadians can have it. They'll fix it up proper. Woman you just shot that wild animal? Well you just go back now and eat it, and you better clean your plate girl. You eat all of it.

You know what wolfmeat is? It's dog. Boshintang. Dog soup.

You know what wolfmeat is? It's dog. Boshintang. Dog soup. That's what Koreans eat and they are hardly American. So you just eat your dogmeat, all of it and you clean your plate or no TV for you, girl! Now then!

Yes, the Canadians could fix Palin proper even before she can quit and disappear.

Here's the difference between all we are talking about. You know the start of this story already. A man goes into an ice cream parlor on a hot day, gets a double dip ice cream cone and turning, the ball of ice cream falls to the floor of the shop before the man can even taste it.

In New York, the counterman insults the fellow, calls him stupid, clumsy, a fool and related to Neanderthals, then hands him a replacement ice cream cone.

In San Francisco, the counterman apologizes, rues the man's ill luck, says it's a terrible shame, life is hard and then you die, hands the man a replacement ice-cream cone -- and then charges him $4.

In Minnesota, the counterwoman says it's a terrible shame, the makers of bad cones are all to blame, life is a bitch and then you die, what bad luck, how terrible the things that happen and how ugly fate and destiny, there's this phrase in the Bible that comes to mind, then hands the man a pail and a mop and orders him to clean it up quickly, please, just think of the children . . .

As the season segues ponderously into Autumn, folks around the Island respond each in their own way to the changes. Or flip-flops, as the case might be. The Almeida family has inspected all of the lunch boxes, obtained the most current ones where necessary, and stocked up on lunch meats from Costco.

Each morning Ms. Almeida sets up the assembly line for the kids on the counter there hours after Pedro has left on the boat. A piece of fruit according to the season, the slices of whole wheat, dab of mustard, meat, cheese, lettuce, top. Next. Then each out the door to bus or walk. For some a few words. No fighting today. Mind the history. Seven times nine is what? Tuck in your shirt! Then it's on to the chickens out back. No raccoon visits for a while and the hens busy themselves with chicken business.

Eugene has brought down the long box from the top shelf and popped open the military surplus ammo cans. He opens the long box -- you know the long box, yes that one -- and takes out the old poodlegun. Yes, that time is coming up. After Halloween.

There is a special shiver that goes through him as he lays the weapon across his lap

There is a special shiver that goes through him as he lays the weapon across his lap, gleaming with a dull gleam of oils and care from many years of hunts along the Strand. This year will be the 13th Poodleshoot and it promises to be really grand in the old style.

At Marlene and Andre's the ironmongery garden is now falling into tatters as the beans have all been harvested, the carrots pulled and taters dug. The Great Recession still bites hard and shows no sign of letting up on the little people of California. Xavier and Marsha have gone off to join the Occupy Wallstreet people with little to offer other than their bodies for all the want and lack of money. Little Adam is back in school and Marlene goes to pick him up each day by foot to make sure the wily kid of the streets does not beat some foolish middle-class scion senseless. He is a lot harder than the kids all around him now, and he is only half aware of that. He is still a tenuous player on a chessboard which has no clear winner but a lot of certain losers at this point. So Marlene walks back with Adam each day and they kick the leaves falling from the Oaks on Central Avenue, as if Oaks had a reason other than tradition to turn their leaves.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Dawn and Suzie have been hanging up cardboard skeletons, ghosts, bats and cobwebs hung with furry spiders from Big Lots. Each table has a skull or a pumpkin with an LED candle inside. It's the annual Bay Area Holiday coming up, and everyone in there was talking about what to be for the Native Son's Annual Fright Ball. Jose and Javier were discussing how to transport their ofreta for the Fruitvale District Dia de los Muertos, which is the largest such display in the world outside of Mexico. Javier thought he could get Jeff the Scoutmaster to loan the bed of his truck. They would need a truck, for the ofreta was pretty elaborate and was in memory of Jose's abuelta, while Javier had his uncle from Sonora in mind. They had made some 400 artificial marigolds out of orange crepe to line the ofreta, which should give you some idea of its scope.

Most of Congressional seats of a certain stripe might be occupied by vampires.

Yes, in the last days of October, going into November, strange occurrences are to be expected. The dead -- and the undead -- walk again. What are the undead? Well, they are ones who have no life to their credit. They have surrendered their souls, but something has not passed on spiritually to whatever exists for all who have left the eternal cycle and recycle of life, and so although they possess physical bodies, they do not enjoy their physical presence here among us. Their senses are dulled, they have no feelings and no appetites other than a craving for brains and blood, they add nothing to the world but devour its fecundity and its joy. You might call them zombies, ghouls, vampires, but the end result is the same. They are bodies without soul. Richard Cheney might be one, and perhaps Ashcroft, but that is sheer speculation. Most of Congressional seats of a certain stripe might be occupied by vampires. It must be admitted it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between a zombie and a person who has feelings.

The only way to tell is by looking into their eyes to see if some spark still lives there, and since this takes time, it can be difficult to do if they are trying to rip your skull off and eat your brains. Here now, stop that! Stop! O for Pete's sake! I am talking to you!

The undead are a kind of problem . . .

The undead are a kind of problem, but then there are the honestly dead who move among us all the time, and who choose this time to appear. It can be pretty disturbing to see limned in the limbs of a young girl your own aunt Betty. And then the girl says exactly as Aunt Betty used to, "Would you like a slice of rhubarb pie?"


Mister, do you have a problem?

Night falls. Clumsy night. It does that at the end of every day. Or perhaps night falls like a dancer, gracefully, planned, into the arms of the fog and the waves lapping against the dark shore. Perhaps night is a lovely woman, dressed in a filmy black peignoir, dancing and spinning en point, leaping, then swooning into the blackness for her lover, the moon, while the stars flicker like millions of candles in the canopy above.

The Editor trudges about the offices after all the staff have gone. Something from the music desk about a group called "Tennis Pro". Here's a late communiqué from Dave Elias in memory of Paul Pena.

Miracles Take Time
by David Elias, in memory of Paul Pena

On and on now
Don't be late
Silver weights on silver plates
Autumn lingers
Can't escape
Miracles take time

Sing me now
Your hands must rest
Your body leans against the fences
Of its own strength
Time has tested
Miracles take time

Tell me now
Remind me soon
How silk roads wind under the moon
Carry a windless silver tune
Miracles take time

Lightly now
And none to bear
Words to hear and songs to share
Silent tears your heart has bared
Miracles take time


Yes, in this time, the Dead walk among us again in some form.

The Editor would like to ease some of David's pain. The dead do not really return; only the memory does. That's why we make the ofretas. So as to celebrate the days we knew them and the brief time we enjoyed together.

He goes over to the player and puts in a CD. Soon the sounds of a folk singer from his early days begins playing over the speakers in the otherwise silent office with its banks of desks and LED lights glowing from all the devices.

I'll sing you this October song
There's no song before it
The words and tune are none of my own
For my joys and sorrows bore it
Beside the sea the brambly briars
ln the still of evening
Birds fly out behind the sun
And with them I'll be leaving

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground
They know the art of dying
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts
In scarlet shadows lying
When hunger calls my footsteps home
The morning follows after
I swim the seas within my mind
And the pine trees laugh green laughter

(Words and music by Bert Jansch)

His friend Drain, a punk rocker with enough hardware embedded in him to really annoy the TSA folks got married in the Grass Valley graveyard there. That's the ticket: carpe diem and all that. He went to the black glass of the window. Outside the ragged silhouette of the Old Man, a coastal Sequoia which had been growing there several hundred years before the White Man came, leaned to the side wearily but held up the moon nevertheless in its branches.

A flying vee of Canadian geese passed overhead, honking in the darkness. Suddenly, a powerful urge to learn Spanish and take up skydiving overtook him. Or at least do it once. Because it was such a long time to be gone.

He returned to the white pool of light cast by his desklamp and sat down, his remaining white hairs flying about his head in an aureole, and bent to work. Then he looked up.

A narwhal would be difficult to manage.

What to be this Halloween? Not a walrus again. A narwhal would be difficult to manage. Perhaps an hippo. He'd come up with something.

Such a long, long time to be gone. And such a short time to be here.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the autumn leaves blowing among the haunted grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its ghostly journey to parts unknown.

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

OCTOBER 9, 2011


This week's headline photo comes from an emergency response team member who snapped this photo at the site of a startling discovery.

This woman was discovered beneath a pile of rubble left when her house collapsed on her. There was enough give in the loose stuff and enough cracks to allow first responders to determine that the woman had not survived. Her body, just within hand-reach, was cold and stiff, she was unresponsive and there were no vital signs, so the team decided to leave the house so as to attend to the primary mission of rescuing survivors.

The team leader cannot explain what made him return to the house and search beneath the woman's body with his arm extending through unstable piles of collapsed debris. He discovered a child who remained alive beneath the huddled corpse. Apparently the woman had crouched protectively over her baby as the house fell on top of her. The excited man called back his team, who you can see here finishing the rescue of the sleeping 3-month old infant. The responding physician discovered a cell phone tucked into the folds of the baby blanket which bore a single text message. ”If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.”

There is no "sacrifice" here, as the woman clearly knew that she was dying -- for how long, no one will know -- so she used her remaining time to leave her child a message that no doubt will persist life long.


10-10-11 might not seem like a significant date to you -- not unless you are a California political junky . . . or an empowered woman with a sense of suffrage history. But Phil Ochs would have remembered.

California voters adopted the current initiative, recall and referendum process 100 years ago this week amid an era of ingrained corruption, and the ballot arguments employed to sway them are not so different from the types of election-year claims that have become a hallmark of the Golden State today.

By the time of the statewide election on Oct. 10, 1911, voter discontent had reached a crescendo, with Californians feeling frustrated and disenfranchised.

Stories of political corruption and bribery trials of corporate executives and labor leaders were fixtures of the newspapers. The Southern Pacific Railroad controlled nearly every lever of power in California, including many of the state's largest newspapers that were beholden to its advertising revenue. Lawmakers rode the rails for free and dined on the company's dime.

Hiram Johnson, an upstart lawyer who had tried to elicit change from outside the halls of power, seized the moment. In his 1910 campaign for governor, he promised to end the tyranny of robber baron railroad officials and return power to the masses.

"Nearly every governmental problem involving the health, the happiness or the prosperity of the state has arisen because some private interest has intervened or has sought for its own gain to exploit either the resources or the politics of the state," Johnson decried in his first inaugural address in 1911. "The first duty that is mine to perform is to eliminate every private interest from the government, and to make the public service of the state solely responsible to the people."

The new governor and a slate of lawmakers in what came to be known as the Progressive Era put direct democracy on the ballot that year. On Oct. 10, voters approved the most expansive initiative and recall powers in the nation during a special statewide election that featured 23 ballot measures, including one that gave women the right to vote, nine years before that right was enshrined in the Constitution.

Although the initiative concept began here, California came to it only after several other states had adopted similar measures. The wild corruption in the Golden State led locally to the biggest to date corruption scandal and series of trials handled by a federal prosecutor in American history.

To date. That's right, bigger than Watergate and Teapot Dome. By 1908 the entire San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mayor Schmidt, most of his staff, and dozens of major businessmen, including Gustav Umbsen, the man who built the Sunset District, all were indicted on federal charges of corruption, racketeering, bribery, extortion, plus a handful of morals charges. In the course of the trials no less than the City police chief was made to "disappear" from a packetboat in transit from San Francisco to Sausalito. His body was found floating in the Bay weeks later.

Most of the Board turned State's Evidence, along with Umbsen, so that the main prize, City Attorney "Boss" Ruef could be gaffed into San Quentin for a fairly light sentence of eight years. Mayor Schmidt also was sentenced to San Quentin, despite some moderate popularity because of his position during the 1906 Earthquake/Fire.

These trials were unusual in that so much of public malfeasance went on.

The 1911 special election ballot carried 23 propositions, including questions about judicial powers, public utilities and railroad regulatory authority. Many of those topics would go before voters again and again in the coming decades.

The voters proved themselves wise students, at least on the first ballot. After studying the large broadsheet newspapers that printed the legal text of the 23 measures in tiny, eye-straining type, Californians approved all but one — a measure that would have allowed the Southern Pacific to continue giving travel tickets to elected officials.

Almost immediately, direct democracy became a means of going around uninterested or unwilling lawmakers. Women had been lobbying the California Legislature for voting rights since 1879; the people granted them in their first referendum.

Despite the reforms' overwhelming popularity with voters, many newspapers opposed them. In an editorial, the New York Times criticized the newly born political process in language that has been evoked by countless folk singers, just like Phil Ochs, from that time to now.

"The new method is proposed as a check on the machines. But the strength of the machines lies in the inattention and indifference of the voters," The Times warned in a piece headlined "Anti-Democracy in California."

"When the machine managers get familiar with the working of the new method, they will work it for their own ends far more readily than they would the present method."

That warning seems to have come to pass in recent decades, as a process that was intended to curb the influence of special interests has evolved into a tool for corporations and wealthy individuals to enact changes they desire, even as the cost of collecting the necessary quota of initiative signatures has climbed beyond the abilities of all but the most monied.

Not so much to worry, given a look at the stats, for of the 1,657 initiatives titled and summarized for circulation from 1911 to 2010, just 348 — or 21 percent — made the ballot. Of those, voters approved 116, or one-third.

Since the first ones in 1911, 47 referendums to repeal a law have been on the ballot, with 19 passing.

The initiative process has allowed California voters to make far-reaching decisions about state spending. That includes limiting the amount property taxes can increase through Proposition 13 and guaranteeing that schools will receive a large part of the state budget through Proposition 98, and the current redistricting process, which arose out of several initiatives from several elections, is a flavor of that same spirit from 1911.

Like it or hate it, flawed though it may be in today's times, the initiative process is how the Golden State conducts political business, and in all likelihood, the recent push for a new state Constitutional Convention will involve that same process should reforms succeed.


Thursday's commute turned into something a little more hellish than usual during rush hour as police closed down the busy I580 freeway between High Street and 35th Avenue for three hours while they searched with dogs and helicopters for a suspect who shot a woman in the leg during a botched robbery attempt in the Ace Hardware parking lot in the 4000 block of MacArthur Boulevard.

The man fled in a car, but crashed off of the freeway onramp. He then fled into bushes that line the roadway, causing the manhunt and resulting area-wide snarl in traffic.

The victim was released from Highland the next day, and the man was apprehended by Oakland police based on information given by robbery witnesses.

Its a sign of the condition of our public schools that we are producing ever more stupid criminals. Botch a basic purse-snatch, shoot somebody, get witnessed by dozens in broad daylight, crash your getaway car, and really mess up innocent people's hair for hours before your inevitable arrest. Doh!


The City Council will hold a hearing to review the newly released report done by Ruben Grijalva on the Memorial Day snafu in Emergency Response that resulted in the death of the principal involved. The hearing will be Tuesday, October 11 in City Hall.

The incident achieved national press after over 200 people collected on the shore to watch as Raymond Zack slowly succumbed to hypothermia before drowning in five and a half feet of water. A private citizen finally dove in to bring him back to shore after his body started floating, when it became clear professionals would not respond.

Which raises the interesting question and potential future situation, as citizens cease relying on emergency services which apparently act solely on profit motives in life-or-death situations.


Hopped on over the estuary to check out how the burgeoning Oaktown art scene is faring. The district is called "Uptown" in Oaktown's renaissance of various renamed micro-neighborhoods which are planting roots while cultivating old ones in the midst of the Great Recession (which began seriously hammering California in 2005 well before the rest of the country began slip-sliding away.)


Don't say the Great Recession ended two years ago -- not unless you want to seriously enrage quite a number of folks camped out right now on Wall Street as well as a number of other major cities. They don't want to hear about fatcats making jolly profits, improved market activity, and any number of other nonsense metrics which have nothing to do with real people. These people are talking about saving the house, getting a job, putting food on the table for the kids.


First off, we checked out Slate's gallery reception for Reinterpreting Reality: Photography by Elizabeth Williams.

Elizabeth Williams takes pictures of pictures, capturing the layers of visual communication that fill urban environments around the world. Taken with a point-and-shoot camera on the streets of Berkeley, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Izmir, and Barcelona, these images fall into a tradition of street photography, which can capture a fleeting right-place-at-the-right-time moment.

Her work has a playful pop aesthetic, but at the heart of it is a serious investigation into the space between reality and representation, and photography’s unique status as a tool that represents what is ‘real’ (even if what is real is a representation). Unfolding layers of irony and changing perception in the viewer characterize her work, which uses juxtaposition, comparison, and contrast to involve the viewer in a game of reading signs and symbols, which may ultimately remain ambiguous, but in the meantime delight with the pure pleasure of engaged looking.

The shot below is of a painting on a wall, not of a landscape. On the aluminum plate you can distinctly read the works "Future Ad."

Williams gave a little talk about her work, which always helps to understand what is going on. She stated surrealist Rene Magritte's paintings and Humberto Eco's Travels in Hyper-reality as influences in her work. The photos are not manipulated or distorted by any gross technical means. Each shot is an accurate representation of what was seen at the time, framed by the limits of the lens.

From Eugene Atget to Steiglitz, Dorothea Lange, Georgia O’Keeffe, Galen Rowell and countless others, the art of straightforward presentation has achieved significant attention, for in the selection of composed and found subjects there is an inherently artistic modification of perception, along with a suggestion of deeper meaning(s) because the artist has found this or that particular subject worthy of focussed attention, a layered narrative begging for excavation.

She is not the first in seeking to present images by means of consciously selected low-tech means. A number of artists, including photographers have emerged in recent years seeking to deliberately abolish commercial slickness of presentation. A few shutterbugs have even constructed lenseless pinhole cameras out of cardboard. By means of employing simple-point-and-shoot cameras and avoiding complex darkroom pyrotechnics, Williams aims to emphasize the "democratization" of photography.

They were still setting up the reception at Manna, so we headed next door from 25 Gallery to Vessel, where The Cycle, a new sculpture and kinetic installation by Cyrus Tilton is taking place on two floors, completely filling the gallery and even overflowing with pieces into other galleries.

On entering the gallery foyer one is greeted by two eleven-foot long grasshoppers ringed by what appear to be geological core samples that include massive egg clusters.

Ascending the stairs the visitor encounters a massive swarm of golden grasshoppers moving in flight beneath a black cloud. More insects are perched on the ceiling, the walls, furniture, the windows, everywhere.

It is easily the most cohesive, coherent, awe-inspiring and fearful installation we have seen in a while.

Here, too, the artist spoke a bit about what his intentions were, while the docent showed slides of the assembly process that involved over 400 individual "insects". The fact that everything, every single piece, including the 11 foot monsters downstairs, were hand built without plans, schematics, or design drawings makes the work that much more stupendous.

Cyrus had as inspiration the mythic, Biblical flavor of the "plague of locusts" for his original idea. He also said that the process of making things like this is a process conflated with working out anxieties and fears, in particular anxieties about global population growth.

The Alaskan-born artist has said he sees the locust as a metaphor for fears of human population growth growing out of balance with a sustainable environment, ultimately becoming a self-sabotaging mass of consumers whose end will only be seen once the last blade of grass is gone or a massive natural disaster resets the cycle.

He consciously selected natural materials to construct the surfaces of the larger insects, choosing muslin, beeswax, and natural resin for the carapaces and wings.

The artist works as a shop manager for Scientific Arts Studio in the East Bay, where he normally oversees the construction of photo-realistic figures for museums and commercial displays.

This intelligent artist is extremely talented, both in vision, and in his enormous scaliest, which ranges from metalwork, textiles, sewing, fabrication, clay molding and casting, as well as a great number of performance-related skills. He also clearly has a gift for getting people to work together, as he recruited a number of helpers from family and friends to build parts of the installation. It was the communal aspect of this process which gradually shunted his cynical worldview about his anxieties to a more optimistic bent.

If this one can't find a home in Alaska, we are certainly glad to have him here among us.

From Vessel we toddled back over to 25 Galleries and Manna where the gallery is showing new work by artists Wayne Armstrong and Mark Lightfoot.

Manna's orientation is to feature experienced artists with significant years of successful shows behind them.

Wayne Armstrong has been a successful practicing artist for many years and has long-standing associations with California art consultants, designers and galleries. His newest works use the human figure and water as a recurring theme. The artworks reflect Mr. Armstrong’s years vacationing in California and on the East Coast and his interest in water’s ability to both reflect and distort objects nearby.

Mark Lightfoot's work is about his lifelong passion for and connection to nature. To convey the sense of mystery he finds hidden there, he uses in his paintings the colors, shapes, textures, and shadows of nature as elements

Although seemingly chaotic, nature has it’s own structure. It is the wonder and beauty he wants the viewer to experience. On display were a series of monoprints, which involve layering paint onto a plastic or metal surface which then is pressed onto the holding display substrate, in this case paper. The results can be muddy and indistinct when done by someone without experience. What results with Lightfoot is the sense of vigorous motion, the sea's churning over rocks, powerful emotive skies, waving fields of wildflowers beneath god-inhabited mountains, cascading waterfalls. He is currently on exhibit at several venues around the Bay Area.

Next door to Manna, at Photo gallery, Karen Glaser's exhibit, Dark Sharks/Light Rays -- Underwater Black and White Photography presented black and white work of subjects which possess intrinsic interest. As people more intimately experienced have mentioned, its hard to ignore a fifteen foot hammerhead shark coming over to look at you.

The Dark Sharks are rendered in a way that is kindred to cave paintings. Our feeling towards these primeval animals comes from deep within our most primitive selves. The seas are often roiled and filled with current when the sharks are around but water has boundless variations and it is in a constant state of transformation. When the wild ocean calms, the flow between these intertwined series occurs organically, often on the same dive. The Light Rays are a counterpoint to the Dark Sharks. Where the Dark Sharks ask the viewer to bear witness to the power and visceral essence of the ocean, the Light Rays printed like graceful etchings represent its peaceful, meditative qualities.

These photographs provide a unique view—shot from a vantage point unfamiliar to most — of the realm where natural history gives way to the ineffable. They are hard to classify but their subject is relevant and matters. The allure and mystery of these creatures and the complicated puzzle of their continued existence inspires her work and continues to summon us all to look deeper.

Its interesting to note that Ms. Glaser got her start in underwater photos by taking pictures of kids kicking their legs in a swimming pool. All the shots of the wildlife were taken truly in the wild, outside of the aquarium.


So anyway it was another week on the Island, our hometown set here in California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. It's not a town in the Midwest, although there are a few who have expressed the desire to make it so; it's set here in California, which is a very different place from other places.

For good or for ill, it is different, and always has been. That's for sure.

A wharf-sizzler turned into a real dockwalloper this week but yielded to great weather on the weekend. Everyone huddled inside while the last dahlias glowed defiantly, the way Californians will do, amid the wind and lashings. Saturday bloomed gorgeous with sun and all sorts of outdoor stuff to do.

. . . reminders Fall has entered the room . . .

Nevertheless, reminders Fall has entered the room and quietly, but firmly shut the door on summer appeared everywhere. The Oaks on Mozart Street have been dropping their leaves dutifully in large piles, and the remaining Canadian geese have been making those extraordinary V formations to rival the Blue Angels. The air is cooler, despite the sun and the light gets this peculiar look that happens only in California and only in California at this time of year. Its hard to explain, and maybe those in SoCal do not experience this for all the smog, but its true. The shadows take on a dated look around here and the trees look older and that house over there looks like an art object now with its peeling paint and raggedy grass lawn. Inside, the sun spills over the kitchen table, where rosemary cuttings in a glass fragrant the air, with a softer look as if to suggest that time is shorter, and this patch will not last. Better move the rosemary and take advantage of changes coming.

The changes are subtle here.

The changes are subtle here. They don't grab you by the lapels and shout, "Hey look! Fall has arrived! Come gawk at the extravaganza! Buy something rust colored!"

No, for that you need to travel to Pasadena,where such behavior is tolerated. Its quieter here. Except for the occasional screaming and gunfire and strong-arm robbery. Except for that.

Still, when changes happen, it tends to unsettle folks. They get antsy, start to make plans, and even worse, act on them, sometimes out of sheer nervousness.

Wally managed to capture . . . an International Harvester Tractor on eBay

Wally managed to capture the find of the century in the form of an International Harvester Tractor on eBay. No one thought to bid on this thing, which was put out mistakenly for no minimum bid, so Wally was soon proud possessor of a bright green farm tractor, complete with rotary plow, backhoe, and a few more attachments for less than one hundred dollars.

Wally had some pity on the guy, who had imagined he would get about $40,000 for the machine, when it came to shipping, for the poor feller had not devoted a thought to that item as well. So Wally drove out with his truck and hauled back a full-sized iHarvester (with backhoe) on his boat trailer. This took a bit of creative engineering with 2x4s and good rope, but eventually he got the thing back and parked it in front of the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor.

Why had the man sold a $40,000 tractor (complete with backhoe) for a C note? The sad man had shrugged his shoulders. "Great Recession. Mortgage done gone tanked. Lost ever thing."

The story about hauling a tractor on a boat trailer some 1000 miles to California is one best left for future and younger generations to tell, but you can bet your bippy there will be plenty more stories about losing everything to the Great Recession going here on out. We got plenty of those right now.

In any case Wally did not know much about tractors and the previous owner had scrubbed off all the markings for the shift to replace them with smiley faces.

Perhaps a clue as to how the man had lost his property.

the machine jerked into motion and lumbered toward the marina

Any case, Wally fired up the sucker and grabbed what he thought was the shift knob -- it turned out to be the linkage to the backhoe, which fell over onto the grass -- and not much seemed to happen, beyond some clunking sound. Puzzled he started pushing buttons and pulling levers at random there until suddenly the machine jerked into motion and lumbered toward the marina, while Wally tried to undo what he had just done. Didn't this happen to Johnny Cash in that movie . . . ?

His wife, Arlene shouted at him from the sidelines. What she had to say and the way she felt she had to say it did not help.

Well, the long and short of it was that Wally drove through the chainlink fence right off of the embankment to land square on Dalene Wickerbag's 20 foot skiff with a crash and something of a metal shriek. The gunwales buckled a bit, and there was a bit of smoke, but the assembly remained afloat with the back wheels in the water to either side as Wally desperately pulled strange lever after strange lever until something dropped down and he started moving forward, slowly, but steadily out of the marina, while his wife and a collection of observers shouted at him.

Wally left the marina mounted on a tractor that was aboard a skiff

Wally left the marina mounted on a tractor that was aboard a skiff and propelled by the back wheels and an immense screw, intended during normal use, for turning the earth in a small field; for fear of sinking should he stop, he ceased all efforts of control and so fell apart emotionally and psychically as he entered the Bay on something very strange and mysterious.

A little uncertain what would happen should he shut off the engine, he "steered" his chimerical machine to the left, paralleling the Strand by leaning slightly to the side. Families with their kids dropped their sand shovels and stared. Several sail-boarders moved quickly out of the way.

Javier called out from shore. "Wally! What the heck are you doing?"

Wally shrugged, raised his hands. It was a fine day for a boat ride. The seagulls dipped and called and rose again over the water. The breeze was cool and gentle. A few light, puffy clouds hung merrily in the blue sky. And Wally sailed in paralyzed abject terror. To ease his mind he began singing songs to himself.

O beautiful for spacious skies
for amber waves of grain . . .

Wally's musical library was limited at best. So was his vocal ability.

Above the fruity plains!
America! America!
May something something beeeeeeee!

...suddenly all the police started running this way and that ...

Several policecars appeared along the shore. Along with a firetruck. And his wife Arlene with them. They all looked pretty excited. Beyond the offshore mudshelf that extended some 200 yards out appeared the USS Boutwell, hooting its horns which were followed by a loud klaxon call designed to be heard at great distances in stormy weather. It was the cutter from Coast Guard Island. His wife was pointing and shouting something and suddenly all the police started running this way and that and the firemen boiled out of the firetrucks and a sailboarder came up to him as he made his steady, slow but sure way directly toward the riprap breakwater that stuck way out perpendicular to the shore.

"Dude! You okay?" The guy one the sailboard had a thick mustache in a face framed by the hood of a black wetsuit. He looked a little like a harbor seal from a cartoon and this made Wally laugh hysterically. The man looked quite concerned.

"I have seen them in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
I have seen them standing at the picketlines in the evening dews and damps;
I can read their righteous wishes by the dim and flaring lamps:
For the Union makes us strong!"

Several small boats began to converge on Wally as he approached the riprap. A man with a bullhorn shouted at him and the sailboarder got out of the way.

"Sir! Whatever has happened is not worth taking your life!"

More police cars arrived. O dear god, what a mess.

More policecars arrived. O dear god, what a mess.

Several officers and firemen stripped down before jumping into the water. There was a policewoman among them and she was not bad looking.

He heard his wife calling. She was on the dingy with the bullhorn.

"Wally, I am sorrrrrrrrreeeeeee! Come back to shore!"

"I can't!" Wally said, intending to explain, but he had no bullhorn himself.

Something on the tractor chose that moment to explode . . .

As the contraption neared the rocks of the breakwater, someone in a motorboat threw a lasso that settled neatly around his torso and he felt himself dragged from the seat of the tractor just as the prow of Dalene's skiff smacked into the riprap. The whole thing ground a little bit up the breakwater with a terrific shredding sound of metal before the tractor sort of slid backwards, canting to the side and went into the water amid quite an impressive amount of steam and smoke. Something on the tractor chose that moment to explode and a small fireball arose.

Meanwhile, the flailing Wally had been reached by the police and the fire, which was fortunate in that with the rope around him, he found his arms pinned to his sides and so could not swim.

"Help, I'm drowning!"

"Sir," one of the policemen said. "Just stand up. It is only five feet deep here."

The motorboat with the riata came up to them. It was Jose and Javier aboard the Golden Poppy, the official parlor boat belonging to David Phipps of the Sons of the Golden West.

"Where did you learn how to toss a lasso like that," David said.

"Mis antepasados eran los vaqueros originales," Javier said.

The original cowboys looked more like Cheech and Chong and Denzel Washington.

"Its true, Jose said. "The original cowboys looked more like Cheech and Chong and Denzel Washington than Clint Eastwood."

Javier tossed the end of the rope to the Coast Guard dingy and they used that to haul the gasping, sputtering, flailing Wally over the gunwales.

Arlene stamped her foot. "Damn fool! Look at you!"

You know, some people in other parts of the country would say this would be a good time for a slice of rhubarb pie, but we'll not get into that right now. We must try harder.

The episode did provide quite a mouthful to discuss at Jacqueline's Salon, at Firehouse #8, and at the Precinct where the men and women in blue all slapped each other on the back for getting it right this time. After last Memorial Day they were all good goddamned if they were going to have to fish out another floater. Saved another one!

That night the gossip continued at the Old Same Place Bar, where the Editor was celebrating a new job offer.

"What'll you be doing?" Padraic asked as he set down a shot and a glass of Fat Tire.

"Sweeping up at the John Sparrow Orphanage," said the Editor.

"O that's mighty harsh!"

And nobody pays a thin dime for things like his news media outlet

The Editor shrugged. "A job's a job these days." And nobody pays a thin dime for things like his news media outlet.

"What other great projects you have going on over there?"

As it turned out, one of the staff writers had been inspired by a book written by Pastor Rotshue. What was needed around here was more a sense of individual place. What was called for here was a great history of the Island which rendered as it is -- completely unique and different and yet like all of California at the same time.

Padraic was dubious. "Aint that kinda contradictin' itself now?"

We have all gotten soft. We're no longer Number One in anything.

Well we all heard the President the other day. And a couple other voices as well. We have all gotten soft. We're no longer Number One in anything. We have to try harder. It will be a grand history going back to just how the bedrock of the Island was made, up through the time of the Ohlone and the Spanish colonial and to the present day.

"O my! Right back to the messa . . . the mezzo . . . the zoey . . . the infernal Mesopotamian area! Aint that as cute as pyramid Egyptian in a barn full of clay tablets!"

"Uhhh . . . sort of like that."

The talk along the bar turned to upcoming Holidays, meaning the long road of orange and black that culminates with Halloween and El Dias de los Muertos.

Eugene asked Suzie what she was planning to be and was she going to the Native Sons Halloween Ball.

"Leave off the girl," Dawn commanded. "She's too good for the likes of you, you old baggy poodlehunter!" Suzie laughed.

"I can see where I am not wanted," Eugene said.

"That's mostly everywhere. Go get a date more your own age!" Padraic said. "Besides she'll be working here that weekend."

"O and you will be dressed as something like Shrek, no doubt," Eugene retorted.

Padraic stood puzzled. "What's wrong with that? Sounds like a good idea! Wasn't the fellow as green as the old sod itself? I am all for the green. Its the orange I cannot stand. By god I could smash the lot of them . . .".

"Hush now, dear," Dawn said. "We have Lutherans among us.

"Hush now, dear," Dawn said. "We have Lutherans among us. And they are good, daycent people."

"Ahhhh! I'm going back to check on the mash." And with that the big man, whose stock stemmed from the "light Irish" stomped through the portal in back to the rear. The light Irish are said to be descended from Vikings.

"What are you going as," Denby asked Eugene to make the peace.

"A ninja! And you?"

"I'm going as an hamster," Jose said to nobody listening.

"I'm going as an hamster," Jose said to nobody listening.

"Well, you know this old bachelor rarely has a date for anything. While other people go out dancing, people like us have to work. I imagine a medieval minstrel if anything."

"That's a fine idea and appropriate," Dawn said. "Wouldya do us a tune now?"

Denby was agreeable. The open E tuning had cracked the old Montoya's finish near the nut, which now languished at the Thin Man's shop, but he had the Tacoma, which is a quiet sort of parlor instrument. So he did one by Dylan.

"Have to say, Joe Ely does this better, but you can't compare your hills to mountains," he said.

If today was not an endless highway,
If tonight was not a crooked trail,
If tomorrow wasn't such a long time,
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all . . .

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the autumn leaves blowing among the crooked byways of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its endless rail journey to parts unknown.

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

OCTOBER 2, 2011


This week we have a pic from Augustin in Mexico City who sends this image of hope after a rainstorm there.


There's been some news this week as the Bay Area launches the nearly month-long series of celebrations that culminate in the orgiastic rituals of Halloween. O yes, the kids have some fun as well. We took a trip to the newly opened "Spirit Store" to check out the latest in frightware. The little seasonal shop that used to open on Lincoln has been replaced by studios for martial arts and yoga.

This fellow with glowing eyes crawls across the floor and screams.

This Regan has a head-turning trick, just like in the movie with Linda Blair.

This hairy fellow measures four feet across.

One of the better animated figures, this one rises up from behind a gravestone and speaks to you. The jaw actually moves as he talks.

There was a fine assortment of smoke machines and life-sized lawn installations, beaucoups skulls and skeletons and creepy spiders of all sizes along with rats (natch) and the usual panoply of severed limbs and bloody eyeballs, hats and even costumes for all ages. Jack Sparrow and Angry Birds seemed to be recurrent themes along with the topical costume that harped on the rough image Charlie Sheen has cultivated for himself. Hope the guy collects some residuals on becoming the fright-thing theme for the year.

Some moderately good news on the real estate development front, which features its own collection of ghouls and bloodsuckers. The Navy has agreed to hand-over the Point gratis so long as LBL decides to place its campus there. Which most of us hope will happen.

the Council has postponed voting on the unpopular "land swap"

In addition, the Council has postponed voting on the unpopular "land swap" as it has become abundantly clear just about nobody likes the look, smell, feel or anything else about the highly unsavory deal, even though Ron Cowan's outfit has upped the ante to about $7 million dollars with fewer strings attached than in the first proposal, albeit the number of houses seems to have magically increased from 113 to 130. We also learned a curious factoid recently.

The Mif golfcourse is one of the few in the country which was built entirely by citizens independent of any taxes or City financial contribution. Yep. The place is owned by the people of the City and the City never paid one thin dime to build so much as a bench out there. A meeting was held Thursday by the Island ACT group to discuss options for dealing with this land swap.

The Council will vote on the matter October 18. It is also probably safe to say that anyone who votes in favor of this project in all likelihood will terminate their political careers here, for not one of them will be able to hold so much as the office of dogcatcher afterwards should this thing fly. There is some really, really angry muttering going on out there.

the tragic Memorial Day drowning incident that took the life of Raymond Zack

Finally, the big news is that the report on the tragic Memorial Day drowning incident that took the life of Raymond Zack is now available online. You can download the PDF here, or check out Alameda Patch and the website, where they have copies.

We have a copy and are currently looking it over. On the face of it, the report is dryly factual. The death was a consequence of several factors summed up in the analysis that the Island had no real capability for water-land rescue, either in facilities, equipment or training, which meant that the City relied on "external support services." Added to that were serious problems with communications between all of the entities involved, each of which insisted on using internal "jargon" for communication to external agencies. That just means the Police talked policetalk to fire department members, who responded with fire department-specific language and then passed on the same story in words to the Coast Guard, the Park Service, the County Sheriff, and other entities.

Apparently, according to the report, these people do not normally talk to one another, which seems rather odd. Didn't three airplanes crashing into buildings about a decade ago cause something to change here a while back?

Obviously, the report bears further scrutiny.


A screaming came across the sky. Jet airplanes scrambled from the bases to intercept some kind of deviant flight path and what turned out to be an errant hang glider from Fort Mason. Everyone was looking to find alternative borrowings to give themselves some kind of comfort, but there were few to offer in this time of Orange and Yellow alerts.

It was the time this week to celebrate the birth of the World on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. All over the place families gathered to begin observance of the time of Turning, each in his and her own way.

During the day, Marlene and Andre went out to Harbor Bay Isle with little Adam after school, pockets filled with bread crumbs. There at the breakwater they cast the contents of their pockets out onto the water where the crumbs floated briefly before sinking under a blizzard of seagulls.

"We are throwing all the bad things we do into the depths of the sea. . .".

"We are throwing all the bad things we do into the depths of the sea," Marlene explained to Adam.

That night, the little household of 15 people gathered make yontif seder and to light memorial candles for all those who could no longer be there. They dipped apples and day-old twistbread in honey for the first day of Autumn had come and the time of turning was at hand. The New Year had begun and from that moment forward, all things would be "firsts".

to the Editor was given a special Dream

As has been reported previously, to the Editor was given a special Dream. This Dream did not belong to him, but belonged to someone else, so in this dream, the Editor entered as a sort of visitor. What was this dream and for whom was this dream intended?

Well, all right. We will tell you now.

The Editor found himself standing on what appeared to be an immense treeless and grassless plain of some oddly resilient dark soil. A diffuse light filled the place from some hidden sun, so that he could see for many miles in all directions there were no rocks nor features of any kind save what appeared to be mountains to the south and a gradual rise split by some kind of ravine to the west.

A dark figure appeared to be walking away from him to the northwest, and towards this figure he hurried, stirring up a light chaff with his feet as he moved. He wasn't sure he liked this place.

He descended into a ravine and followed its rutted curved path for a very long time. A long ways ahead he saw the small dark spot moving, but much closer. He called out, and hurried toward it. After what felt like hours or days, he found himself coming behind Rebbe Mendelnuss, the tzadik from Temple Beth Emmanuel.

When he had come very close the other seemed to hear him finally, and stopped to look at him.

"What on earth are you doing in my dreams?" said the Rabbi.

"What on earth are you doing in my dreams?" said the Rabbi, who appeared to be quite astonished.

For indeed, this dream was one the Rebbe often had. The Editor had left his own dreams behind for a while to enter into that of someone else. It was all very puzzling.

"I don't know that I really want to be here," said the Editor.

The ground seemed to quake at that moment, which caused the Rabbi much concern.

"O do not say anything like that! Don't even suggest it or you may be totally lost! Say anything else!"

the Editor's little fat frame jumped up and down and his white hair went flying

The Rabbi appeared to be so upset that the Editor's little fat frame jumped up and down and his white hair went flying. "I am happy! Happy, happy, happy to be here, O in the name of god I am happy to be here! I am overjoyed and tickled!"

The quaking stopped.

"Whew!" The Rabbi took off his fedora and wiped his brow with a bright red kerchief. "You goyim are really something sometimes!"

"Where the heh . . .", began the Editor.

"Ah, ah, ah! Be careful what you say!" admonished the Rabbi. "Remember you are in my dream, not yours."

"Okaaayyyyy. Where am I?"

"I will show you," answered the religious man. "But first we must find Reverend Rectumrod before its too late. Come on!"

With that the man turned with a great swirl of his long coat and took off up the ravine with the Editor puffing and huffing along behind.

"What is Rectumrod doing here?"

I have beseeched He who knows all things to tell me just why the Reverend Rectumrod exists anywhere at all

Mendelnusse paused, breathing heavily. "O, I have beseeched He who knows all things to tell me just why the Reverend Rectumrod exists anywhere at all and not gotten a comprehensible answer." Then he took off again.

The two of them arrived at a crest where the ravine went uphill and then fell away between two immense hills. The Rabbi dropped down at the crest ahead of the Editor and crept forward. As the older man labored up he saw the ravine fell away into an immense black emptiness, as did the hills, which rounded out and downward into a deep shadow that faded to pitch black.

There the Editor lay on his side, catching his breath.

"What's this about Reverend Rectumrod?"

"Well, my understanding of Baptists -- not being an expert you understand -- is that they consist of two sorts. There is the lovely woman who sings gospel (I think its called gospel) on the NPR radio. She gives me the impression of people who are kind and caring and, well, hopeful. The Reverend, well, he is the other sort."

Further conversation was abruptly terminated by what happened next.

A high pitch shrieking grew louder and louder, which soon developed into the sound of someone screaming full-on deep lung screams. Falling incredibly fast, a man in a business suit flew past them beyond the ravine.


His tumbling form faded into the murk below as his screaming dwindled, followed by silence.

His tumbling form faded into the murk below as his screaming dwindled, followed by silence. The Editor was aghast.

"What was that!"

The Rabbi shook his head. "That is what happens when you do not wish to be here. That is what happens when you do not believe."

As the Editor watched and listened, a succession of figures flew past. An accountant, two truckdrivers, a butcher, several insurance adjusters, a man wearing gilt robes carrying a crozier and wearing a miter cap but no pants, a great number of politicians, several policemen, a great many bank executives, financial analysts, flocks of stock brokers and real estate developers -- quite a few of those -- along with the occasional astonished flying nun waving a pandybat.

Something occurred to the Editor to ask the Rabbi as they stood up and marched up the lower of the two hills. "Why do you want to save Reverend Rectumrod?"

"I suppose if he wants saving he needs to save himself. Heavens if you want forgiveness or saving, don't come to ME for that! I am definitely the wrong man; go ask the Catholics. No, I am wanting to keep him from dragging anyone else down with him!"

"I would have thought he, of all people, needs no saving anyway," said the Editor.

They arrived at the broad summit of the hill.

"The problem with the Reverend, and people like him, is they have no hope and so become full of 'chayt', which leads people away."

"Did you just say what I thought you said," the Editor exclaimed.

"The man has no hope and so cannot believe," said Mendelnusse.

"No I mean the other thing being full of."

Chayt is from archery, meaning the one has 'missed the mark'.

"That sentence is remarkably ungrammatical for an editor, but let me correct myself. Chayt is from archery, meaning the one has 'missed the mark'. It also is our word for sin. The word 'sin' seems to make you goyim nervous in discussion."

Another screamer fell past. FFFFFWOOOOMP!

"What's going to happen to these folks falling by?"

"Oh they'll keep falling. Forever I would guess. Go in a circle and pass the same spot or just fall. I really do not know. Look out from here." The Rabbi gestured back toward the plains, which the Editor could now see were hatched with lines, furrows, ravines, low mounded hills. Far, far, far away he could see across the immense space of a bowl an huge mountain of a hill which had some sort of isthmus that curved outward into space, beyond which a few stars twinkled. To what he considered the "north" he saw four more finger-peninsulas, each beginning with a great hill and proceeding outward into the dimness with one immense hill after another, bounded at the bases by crosshatched ravines, and each separated by a vast darkness. Each peninsula appeared to curve slightly upward.

Something made him avert his eyes from facing the "south," which seemed to drop sharply downward and away.

"Are we alone here?" asked the Editor.


"How many others?"

"All who have been born from the beginning of Time until now who wish to be here," answered the tzadik.

"And those who do not will fall forever."

"That is correct."

"So those who are damned, will . . . fall forever. And . . . lose all language."

"So those who are damned, will damn themselves and so fall forever. And in addition, they lose all language."

"Well I had not thought about that last part. Perhaps that is why we always welcome the stranger to the table; you never know how the prophet will arrive or in what form." The tzadik grasped the Editor's hand and thanked him profusely for teaching him something important.

At that moment the Editor awoke at his desk, head on his arms, wearing his usual white shirt and trousers, pool of light from the desklamp and cup of cold coffee beside the keyboard.

Rachel walked by and dropped a sheaf of papers on his desk with her usual imperious demeanor, saying, "You look like sh-t!"

"Please do not say that!" exclaimed the Editor, remembering the Rabbi's definitions.

"But you do. That's a fact."

"I thought you ran off with a cowboy."

"I thought you ran off with a cowboy."

"I came back."

"For what on earth?" the Editor said, careful to avoid ending his sentences with a preposition.

"Somebody has to hold a job around here." And with that the woman stalked away on her high heels.

The Editor got up and went to his cabinet to put something on the stereo. He briefly hovered over some old recordings of a radio program called "Bob and Ray", perused some poetry reading stuff from Amnesty International called "Censored Readings", skipped through some instrumentals called "Night Crossings," and decided on Schubert, Opus 17, No.4.

The Schubert appealed to his quiet, reflective mood.

Wie schön bist du,
freundliche Stille,
himmlische Ruh!
Sehet, wie die klaren Sterne wandeln
in des Himmels Auen,
und auf uns herniederschauen
aus der blauen Ferne.

Meanwhile, approaching the early hours of morning, several dramas were playing out in several households around the Island.

In the Almeida master bedroom Pedro was still lieing in bed next to his wife of many years. The cock had yet to crow and the alarm yet to go off before he went down to the docks with his trusty lab, Tugboat tailwagging along side. What Pedro would bring on the boat for lunch had become a serious issue as the time was short and the boat was to leave.

The tuna hotdish will do fine, Pedro said.

O, that is so plain, said Mrs. Almeida. I could get up right now and make some bacalhau.

Don't get up, Pedro said. Not right now. Stay here.

I have the salt cod from Norway, she said. I could whip it up in 90 minutes.

Stay here in bed with me, Pedro said. The cassarole will do fine. It's getting chill now the weather has turned.

Yes, the turning, the woman said. Now is the time.

So turn over, Pedro said. I have some intentions.

So turn over, Pedro said. I have some intentions.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we have ten children as it is, said the woman.

Well, the Trinity and everybody else will scarcely notice one more, said Pedro. It's an hour before the boat and I and you are awake and I do not want you messing with salt cod right now. I have some intentions . . . .

Drawing a discreet curtain over that scene we arrive at the fractured household of the Espadrille family. Mr. Espadrille had departed some five weeks ago with a woman from the office some fifteen years younger, leaving the family in what may be called a "situation."

Marie Espadrille had been looking . . . at a rather dismal "holiday season" this year

Mrs. Marie Espadrille had been looking for some weeks at a rather dismal "holiday season" this year, even more dismal than that to which many of use are not looking forward. Especially this year. Which is fairly more dismal than the last and which is likely to cause all sorts of mercantile folks to scream bloody murder and jump off of high bridges before the end of it.

She knew she could only get away with the story, "well daddy is away on a trip and, well, is not likely to be home for a while." only so long until she came up with "Daddy had an unfortunate accident and will not be home soon or, indeed, forever. And, hopefully, I will lead you all someday to his final resting place."

As for the retailers, she had only invective and bile for them who would have pasted tight-fighting shortie shorts on that tramp of a whore of a . . . . nevermind. They could all go to bloody hell right now as far as she was concerned, as she poured herself another margarita. The past couple of weeks had been hell. She felt as if she had been falling, falling, falling, and screaming the entire time without hope of anyone to catch her.

The doorbell rang and she went to answer it like a total doofus and there he stood, wearing a trenchcoat, of all things, looking bedraggled and totally like "sh-t" and lost and appropriately contrite.

"Well here you are," she said.

"Things did not work out," he said.

"Well, things did not work out for you," she said, before proceeding to lay into him with a vigor that suprised herself, for in ten, what was it? fifteen years of marriage, she had found herself subsuming beneath a sand of agreement and passiveness and now all that had been stripped away to free her to really say what was on her mind and say it she certainly did.

She laid into him, she did. She spared nothing.

She laid into him, she did. She spared nothing. Not the endless laundry loads, nor the bills she had paid from coins in her pocket, not the children's care to everything else. By god she was going to let him have both barrels all saved up for fifteen years. Fifteen years! And she did not.

"How is Melinda?" he asked after the terrible storm. He still stood outside with his single, sorry-looking pathetic suitcase.

"Melinda? How dare you ask, you, you bastard!" And off she went, again on a savage attack on all he had done, and not done, and what an utter, utter failure he was and how pathetic a creature, a miserable a--hole. Pathetic. Miserable. A--hole. You!

There was quite a lot more to report in the time it took for him to move from the doorway into the livingroom, and, finally, the bedroom. It is there all great arguments are resolved in some place that is beyond words.

All across the Island, the Turning began and couples turned to one another for warmth as the summer's heat evaporated among falling leaves. The world was getting colder, that is a fact. Body heat was one good way to stay warm for a while as things decayed.

a whispered voice ... says, "Try harder."

In such a time, as all things get colder, people grasp onto those familiar things that make them feel warmer. Sometimes it is a person, sometimes a thought, sometimes a familiar phrase spoken by someone about whom you care. Sometimes it is only a phrase heard in a song, or on the TV or the radio that evokes something from the past, and reminds you, well, you are not the first to get this idea. Sometimes it is a whispered voice that says, "Try harder."

Well, we have nothing else right now except that: Try harder.

In the Old Same Place Bar Denby set up his rig to play "The Water Song" after last week's problems with uptuning. After that, he played an original song he had written for Raymond Zack, who also went by water. And then, because someone requested it, that easy one by Leonard Cohen about the woman who lived beside a river.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the autumn leaves blowing among the harvest grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its age-old journey to parts unknown.

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

Song for Raymond Zack

someone is calling, everything's falling
disappointment fills the room
you thought you might try again
maybe things will fly again
float above that knee-deep gloom
so you sail out on a little hope
like a old swing it rocked back and forth
except this time it kept on going down

rent keeps on risin, all the jobs are hidin'
its so hard to stay afloat these days
can't get no lovin, everyone's pushin' and shovin
its rising now above your waist
not much is going well, the climate's gone to hell
the wars are getting better, so they say

so you took a little walk, sick of all the talk
down to the sea like the ancient Greeks
when the field had been entirely lost
it just keeps on gettin' higher
and you keep on goin' further
you've given up thinkin about the cost

something's got to break -- we're in now up to our necks
no one can help us now: the Country is in a wreck
all decision is paralyzed, authority just stands and sighs
the clock . . . strikes . . . noon . . .
it's getting deeper it's getting colder
the end is now very soon . . .

the deep blue sea is not a place for humanity
but maybe that's what's become of you and me (It's callin' me now)
the deep blue sea is a cold cold place for humanity
but maybe that's what's become of you and me
(Segue to R.G.Davis, Death Don't Have no Mercy)


SEPTEMBER 25, 2011


This shot by Chad of a troubled sky pretty much sums up the weather this past week, which has been yucky sprinkled with occasional sunshine leading up to more moodiness by evening and widely scattered bouts of depression with humidity.


2010 Census data reveals lower Bay Area incomes, rising poverty in this area. Small glimmer of hope in note down below.

Despite the Bay Area's relative wealth, incomes keep dropping and poverty is spreading even in the most affluent counties, according to newly released 2010 statistics from a U.S. Census Bureau survey.

The number of Bay Area residents living in poverty reached 11 percent of the population last year, a rate higher than any measurement in the past three decades.

Median household income kept relatively steady in Silicon Valley and San Francisco during the 18-month recession and its aftermath, but it fell sharply in the East Bay.

As was the case elsewhere in the region, the South Bay's poverty level grew. About 186,000 people -- or 10.5 percent of the population in the heart of Silicon Valley -- found themselves living below the poverty line, compared to 9.1 percent in 2009 and 7.4 percent in 2008.

In Alameda County, the number of poor was more than 200,000, and the poverty rate the region's highest -- 13.5 percent, up from 10.7 percent a year earlier.

In other news, the housing market returned some dismal figures. March through August are typically the peak buying months. But this time, Americans bought fewer new homes in that stretch than in any other six-month period since record-keeping began a half-century ago.

And sales of previously occupied homes didn't fare much better. They barely matched 2009's total for the peak buying months. And that was the worst since 1997.

Combined, total sales this spring and summer were the weakest on records dating to 1963. The figures underscore how badly the housing market is faring and suggest that a recovery is years away.

Not even shrunken home prices and the lowest mortgage rates in six decades are convincing would-be buyers.

Despite the enviable rates and prices, the fact that people are taking home less and even fewer people are taking home anything at all is stinting the markets.

"The job engine has really sputtered out, and without jobs, Americans really can't purchase homes," said Celia Chen, a housing economist at Moody's Analytics.

Plunging stock prices and renewed recession fears have led many economists to push back expectations for a housing recovery.

Chen expects prices to bottom at the start of 2012. And she doesn't expect sales and prices to make a healthy recovery until 2015 at the earliest. In hard-hit areas such as California and Florida, it could take decades for prices to return to normal, she said.

Pierre Ellis, an analyst at Decision Economics, said that until wages increase and hiring picks up, sales will languish.

Roughly 168,000 new homes were sold from March through August, the Commerce Department said Monday. That's fewer than the 180,000 for the same period last year — and last year's sales were boosted by a temporary buyer's tax credit. Over the same period in 2009, roughly 208,000 new homes were sold.

In a healthy six-month buying season, about 400,000 new homes would sell.

Among re-sales, about 2.8 million homes sold from March through August this year. That's roughly as many as in the same periods in 2009 and 2010. In a healthy market, about 3.3 million would be sold in that six-month stretch.

Michael McGrew, who runs McGrew Real Estate in Lawrence, Kan., said many families won't buy until the economy strengthens.

Nationally, prices are still falling. Prices for previously occupied homes have sunk more than 5 percent over the past year to a median of $168,300. New-home prices have fallen even further, by 7.7 percent, to $209,100.

That suggests builders and Realtors are slashing prices to compete with low-priced foreclosures and short sales. Short sales occur when lenders allow homes to be sold for less than what's owed on the mortgage.

Combined, foreclosures and short sales are selling at an average 20 percent discount. And they're lowering neighboring home values.


police officers mistakenly raided the home of former KTVU reporter Priya Clemons

The Sun reported that police officers mistakenly raided the home of former KTVU reporter Priya Clemons and her husband in the Bayport district when police attempted to arrest known marijuana growers who had sold the home in June to the presently residing family.

The family was held at gunpoint until officers realized none of the names on the arrest warrants matched the people actually living at the residence.

The actual subjects of the raid, Sang Ung and his family, had refused to provide address information when posting bail after his arrest for illegal drug activity in August, so the police apparently went on old public information.

Not exactly sharp CSI work there fellas.

Fortunately, there were no traffic infractions observed during the botched raid, so all of the Clemons family were eventually released unharmed without citations.

SunCal may have been booted off the Point, however the Navy continues to operate toxic waste cleanup actions there and negotiations continue between the Navy and the City with regard to transfer ownership of the property. There remain about 60 commercial and 66 residential leases handled by the City at the Point; these leases do bring in some cash to the City coffers. The public can attend meetings of the Reuse and Redevelopment Authority on the first Monday of each month at 7PM at the City Council Chambers. Thanks to the Sun's Sam Felsing for following up on this issue.

The ARRA is hoping that Lawrence Berkeley Labs (LBL) choose the Island for its second campus

The ARRA is hoping that Lawrence Berkeley Labs (LBL) choose the Island for its second campus, as such use would circumvent the nastiness that comes with packing more housing units into the area while providing a wide number of economic benefits. The Lab, however, has raised the issue of prospective sea-level changes anticipated due to global climate change. Scientists project levels in the Bay to rise 18 inches, a serious problem for the Point which has more than six miles of coastline.

It must also be mentioned that the other sites being considered by LBL also have significant waterfront exposure. The Emeryville site is half marshland right now.

People have been at work on this issue and other waterfront exposures along the Bay to remediate the effects of sealevel changes, so there are still things which can be done to prod LBL in our direction.

own homegrown online radio show (Alameda Community Radio)

We reported on the startup of our own homegrown online radio show (Alameda Community Radio) a while back and the Sun reminds us that the project continues. Make sure you have working speakers before checking in to to hear the programming. The FCC app for a low-wattage FM license remains in the works.

A little tidbit in the far corner of the Sun offered some hopeful news in that a handful of Islanders getting jobs noodged the official unemployment rate here from 7.5 to 7.4%. Overall, the County saw its numbers drop from 10.9% to 10.8%, with 80,100 officially unemployed out of the labor force of 749,000.

The real numbers are close to double these figures, due to people dropping off of the official rolls as benefits become exhausted during the Great Recession. Of five staff members of, one is partially employed, one is fully disabled, and only one is fully employed.


No sooner did the Measure A lawsuit get resolved -- more or less -- in vindicating the graduated tax intended to support the schools, when another flap is making sleep at night difficult for the Mayor.

This one is all about the proposed "Land Swap"

This one is all about the proposed "Land Swap" in which a developer wants to trade 12 acres of, well, useless land on North Loop Road, for a large chunk of the operational Mif golfcourse.

The developer in question is variously referred to as "Ron Cowan's real estate firm", the Harbor Bay Improvement Association (HBIA), and other titles relating to HBIA.

Kempersports is a management firm interested in renovating the golf course as well as holding long-term management service rights over the course. Right now the City collects revenue generated by the courses, and Kemper is seeking to secure all of that revenue for itself on a 20 year lease.

By offering a quantity of cash -- with strings attached -- HBIA has gotten Kemper online with the proposal, as significant money for development would come from this HBIA pot.

As public opposition against the project has grown, HBIA has increased its initial offer of $5 million dollars to $7.2 million and has associated this money with different encumbrances.

The Sun conducted a poll of some 100 Islanders, finding that over 85% of those polled sternly oppose the landswap, with only two individuals offering unequivocal support in favor of the trade.

We now have a new entity entering the fray as of this weekend

We now have a new entity entering the fray as of this weekend, at least, and that entity is Alameda Citizens Taskforce. (ACT) . The Offices got an e-mail over the transom with a map of the area HBIA wants, along with commentary and a pretty decisive message that this group finds the entire deal very, very bad.

Here is the map, reduced somewhat in size:

And the text of the message ran as follows:






Ron Cowan wants the City to swap his unusable, unsellable 12 acres in the Harbor Bay Business Park for 12 acres of the City’s beautiful prime land on Island Drive, the Mif Albright Golf Course. Currently, the plan calls for 130 homes. Cowan provides only $7.2 million – simply not enough to build soccer fields and improve the golf courses.

City Council votes on this Bad Deal
Tuesday, October 4th

Telephone numbers and e-mail contacts for the Mayor and all City Council members were provided. (We are not providing that information until the contact info listed in the e-mail is verified.)

The e-mail continued in large font text:

"Urgent: e-mail, write or phone the City Council NOW. Act now! Get more facts! Attend the Community Meeting on the Land Swap, Thursday, September 29 at 7:00 PM. Where: Casitas Clubhouse, 1101 Verdemar


Calls to the number provided were answered by a recording restating the meeting dates and times for the City Council on October 4, and a "Citizen's Meeting" this Thursday at the Casitas clubhouse.

It should be noted that this group (ACT) existed prior to the HBIA proposal, and appeared at the time we first learned about them (July 4, 2011) to be largely focussed on daylighting City Council activity by way of seeing that state and federal "sunshine" laws were followed.

One thing the group did do on their website was outline history showing that this landswap deal has antecedents going back to 2008 when the Council inexplicably closed part of the course amid discussions with an unnamed "real estate developer".

And we thought 14 years ago when we began Island-Life we would have nothing interesting to report from week to week. Hah!


It's been an overcast and moody weather week on the Island, our hometown set here in California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

A short sharp jolt midweek reminded all of us how ephemeral life really is around here when Napa took a quick 3.2 rocker to the shoulders this week. You may dislike your floods and your hurricanes and your blizzards and your bad weather, but let me tell you, one earthquake will revise your mind about moving here.

The Canadian geese, whom we just learned had flown from upstate Minnesota, are all gone now. Those geese have been honking and pooping all over the golf course greens all summer in droves, driving the groundskeepers and duffers batty to the extent that golf on the Island had become a sport that involved besides a good set of irons, a sturdy shotgun and a hunting dog.

Mr. Howitzer was out there with the Cribbages and a herd of them cause him to slice badly into the rough.

"Dodd!" shouted Mr. Howitzer. "I shall want a weapon for I see revenge!"

"Right you are," spoke the ever patient and ever calm Dodd. "Shall it be the Winchester or Mr. Mossberg?"

Bring me the Mossberg!"

"I am wanting firepower to get out of that rough. Bring me the Mossberg!"

"The 8 gauge it shall be, sir!"

"Three and a half inch shells, Dodd!"

"Coming up, sir!"

Down the fairway, just setting up around the 10th hole approach, the VA group that had been exploring the site for the new columbarium was taking its ease. The Navy part of the group had taken the day off for sailing, but these were from the Department of the Army.

When the 8 gauge went off with a terrific roar the geese went flying, all apparently to safety, although a tree branch dropped dramatically near the downwind party, sending the vets diving into the sand trap, save for those who had been officers from the get go. All of them just looked up. Save for their caddy, Pvt. Hiram Ames, who picked up a white cardboard takeout box from the edge of the tee-off pad.

"Hey! Somebody leave their hotdish lunch over here?" Ames hailed from St. Paul.

"Ames!" someone who had lived through the Tet offensive shouted. "Get the f@#k down!"

By the time Mr. Howitzer and the Cribbages had arrived at the 10th hole, the vets were ready for them. As Mr. Howitzer bent to place his tee several golf balls zinged over him, pelting Dodd and the Cribbages in their cart. Cries of pain and anguish were heard down the fairway. Mr. Howitzer stood up and was promptly beaned in a fusillade of golf balls that was followed by a squad of ex-Navy Seals and their wives, all armed with 9-irons.

"Dodd! Protect us!" Mr. Howitzer shouted.

"Dodd! Protect us!" Mr. Howitzer shouted. But his manservant and much oppressed lackey had gone temporarily to that blissful Island place somewhere in the South Pacific where there were no bosses and no step-n-fetchits. Dodd had been knocked out entirely by a well-aimed missile from Marty, a fellow who had been severely wounded in Vietnam, and Marty was not a man to take getting shot at without reprisal.

Marty's wife, Ruth, took a mighty swing and brought down the roof of the Cribbage golf cart.

Well, that day did not go so well but someone posted a recipe on the Island website for smoked goose and suddenly, almost overnight, all of the geese took off in great chevrons.

People who are newbies and people who are not very observant fail to note how we do experience seasons here in NorCal. The Seasons have a subtler quality to them. For one, all the hummingbirds vanish. People who know about these things all around the Island gather up those plastic red-tinted feeders and wash out all the old sugar water, for the hummingbird is a most remarkable traveler. Not much heftier than a dozen bees, he lifts off and heads down the coast, bypassing Baja, zipping over Guatemala's serapes, dancing pass Managua's baskets, flitting before the mirrored sunglasses of medalled generals, and skirting Venezuela, courses the long length of Chile to arrive in Rio de Janeiro, where bright colored plumage thrives at all times of the year, but especially during Winter.

Such is the hummingbird, sturdy world traveler, worthy of Odysseus fame by dint of his intrepid long distance adventures. Among the ancient Greeks there were no constellations, however the Native Americans clustered hummingbirds in Black Hawk's ears.

The Autumnal Equinox happened this Friday, for those who notice subtle things. A few people have noticed already. The dahlias are all failing with leaf mold and the flowers are going brown. But it was such a moment of glory when they all were bursting along the old fence! My god it was Fourth of July for a while all in flowers down there! A riot of oranges and yellows exploding one after another. Now look at it. Such a sorry sight. Hard to remember why one would bother to look at the tangle there linked by pole bean vines now themselves fading away.

The Almeida family is shifting into the new Seasons. Coldwater fish will be coming back into play. Pedro is a fisherman and so charts his course by the seasons as well, the many thousand year old revolve of the Milky Way and the ever shifting schools of catch, tracked by the weird green blips of the sonar device and the Agencies, all performing their eternal dance. The kids are back in school and the themes are shifting to black and orange for the onset of the coming month. Even the Dollar Store bins have loaded up with early pumpkins. God knows what a person is to do with a pumpkin from September 25th to October 31st. Go all bad it will.

Going out to the Grounds, Pedro got into a conversation on the Ship to Ship with Colum, who piloted the Siobhan heading out north from Princeton-By-the-Sea. There were not so many boats setting out any more from there, because of the Recession and the growth of the tourist industry at the old landing where a dozen ships used to fetch in all kinds of catch to supply the restaurants up in Babylon. But Colum was one of the last who kept his ship moored there, and often as not would sell a baby tuna to tourists off the dock at half the cost rather than let it all go to waste.

The ears of the Black Hawk were clustered with the constellations of hummingbirds.

Fishing is an early start sort of game, and in this time the sun had long to rise and the ears of the Black Hawk were clustered with the constellations of hummingbirds. The dew dripped from the yardarm and the stays. Black was the color of the heavens and all of the sea. White was the spangle of stars.

"Did you hear all that about the 13 year old girl singing her poor heart out like that on the program?" Colum asked. He knew exactly what program it was. It was the Pastor Rotschue.

"Yeah, she sounded pretty sharp all right." Pedro said.

"I suppose that is the future, then." Colum said.

"Well," Pedro said, thinking of his own children, "She is something of it."

Tugboat, Pedro's seadog, woofed.

"How's that Shelly of yours?" Colum asked.

"She's up in Portland. Going to college now."

"I remember when she was just a minnow of a lass," Colum said. "How time has passed."

"We're all a little older," Pedro said.

"Aye, that's for sure. But you know, this getting old business . . .".

"What's that?"

"This getting old business sure beats the alternative. So far as anyone knows."

"I have to agree with you, old pal."

There was a bit of commotion over the radio briefly, and Pedro asked Colum what was the matter.

"O, 'tis nothing. Picked up some flotsam here. Looks like leftover hotdish in a Chinese takeout box.

There was a pause.

"Life is bound in a cosmic lattice of coincidence," Colum said.

"Life is bound in a cosmic lattice of coincidence," Colum said. "Someone says hotdish across the room and wouldn't ya know but a box appears floating by on the ocean of connectedness."

There was another pause.

"You do much drugs in the sixties, Colum?" Pedro asked.

Back on the Island, Denby was tuning his guitar to Open E.

"You are gonna break that string," Eugene Gallipagus said to Denby, as if he knew.

"Hope not. Can't play 'Crystal City' without it."

"That's that song where everybody dies," Eugene said.

"Everybody dies," said Sharon. "All my friends died of HIV. I don't know how I managed to live this long."

"Most of my friends died of murder," Denby said.

"Most of my friends died of murder," Denby said. "I lived so long because I moved away."

The string broke.

"Damn it!" Denby said.

"Watch the language!" warned Dawn. "This aint no speakeasy."

"Why don't you do that one about the feller wantin' to keep on going along with his gal. It's kinda soft like. It goes 'I wanna go along with you hoo . . .".

"That's called 'Genesis'", Denby said. "All right. Let me get this G string back on here."

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the wildflowers quietly nodding among the pasture grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its age-old journey to parts unknown.

The time has come for us to pause
And think of living as it was
Into the future we must cross, must cross
I'd like to go with you
And I'd like to go with you

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


September 18, 2011


This week's photo comes from Jose's garden where the dahlias are exploding with a late summer finale of floral fireworks.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, for the time is soon a'dyin'.


Headed on over to Oaktown to take part in the first Art Murmur Saturday Stroll in an area that is rapidly getting national, and soon international buzz. In the narrow isosceles triangle bounded by T'graph and Broadway, between 18th and 26th streets an extraordinary art phenomenon is happening which is astoundingly without prescendent by the sheer volume of effort taking place in conjunction with other districts in Oakland, a town which has been particularly hard hit by the Great Recession.

Oaklanders are a sturdy bunch, even for Californians, and so as the automobile dealers have abandoned the area along with the scads of body shops and mechanics who fed off of them, art gallery owners have moved in, turning quonset huts, brick warehouses, and blank walls into amazing showcases for the best of local talent.

The charming Lonnie Lee, curator of Vessel gallery volunteered docent leadership for an illuminating visit into the area.

The 30 year resident of Oakland is married to a born and raised Oaklander, so she had plenty of information regarding recent local history and insights into how the former mayor, Jerry Brown, successfully turned a blighted downtown into a must-visit destination. The group met at Mama Buzz cafe, which was one of the first T'graph tenants to move into the area after the Boom went Bust and try to inject a new sense of aesthetics to the neighborhood while still preserving a bit of the gritty feel.

First stop was the Johansson Projects on the corner where a temporary storage space for artwork turned into a full-blown gallery.

Through the use of photography and video with varying degrees of analog and digital effects, Brice Bischoff, Tabitha Soren, and Ellen Black manipulate environments, creating uncanny exaggerations and projections of possible existence. Here Ellen Black presents a single channel video looping a scene at the Sutro Baths titled "Former Recreation Area".

Tabitha Soren normally does what appear to be standard photographs of ocean waves which possess a wierdly disconcerting energy. All of the images are montaged and printed upside-down, giving an uneasy sense of unruly and disordered power.

Bruce Bischoff takes long exposure photos inside southern California caves, manipulating cloth carefully to create the sense of eerie, ephemeral presences.

Next up was Chandra Cerrito Contemporary now running an exhibit called "Lightspace". The archetecture of these spaces is often as interesting as what is contained inside.

Kana Tanaka’s mesmerizing suspended glass installations explore light and visual perception. Dozens of threads or extremely fine strands of extruded glass cascade down from the ceiling to create a diaphanous cloud in which glass droplets appear suspended, sometimes coalescing into a plane or singular form. Each piece is hand-blown glass held by thread. The center figure only reveals itself in 3 dimensions by walking around the installation.

We couldn't take decent photos of the other works in Lightspace because the medium employed is light itself, however the works by Amy Ho, with her Beckettian rooms that possess austere vanishing points, and Cathy Cunningham-Little's light boxes that present oddly reminiscent abstractions that pull the viewer into infinitely expanding spaces.

Krowswork is a gallery unlike any other in the United States -- and that is saying something in a packed world that features everything from the bland to the outrageous. Currently, the show is "This Means War Is Personal: Jason Hanasik and David Gregory Wallace - September 2-October 15.

Here the space is primarily directed toward photography, however as seen below, David Wallace's "Chair" is a static installation that looks at facades and the search for possible "truth".

Jason Hanasik presents two videos that try to show the range of military male experience, while simultaneously showing the holes in our assumptions about this experience. Sharrod (Turn/Twirl) features Sharrod, a young man from his hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia, whom Jason has photographed and videoed for many years as he goes through Navy Junior ROTC training. In this video Sharrod, dressed in his Navy uniform, recreates a long salute while slowly turning in that position -- a sustained, joyless dance that is at odds with the visage of a boy so young and seemingly innocent. This video is complimented by "In the Green Zone: November 2007", a film loop that employs raw footage supplied by a friend serving in the Marines in Iraq, in which two fellow camouflaged soldiers dance and dip in a playful, loving way on the balcony of their protected barracks. Just two guys goofing off.

Left unstated, the question remains hanging, disturbing by its portent: "Are these two men still alive?"

Studio Quercus is a non-profit artist-run exhibition space which possesses a full 501(3)c status.

An artists-run organization, Studio Quercus provides a conducive and congenial space and exceptional support for visual and performing artists to show their work. It is a place that cultivates creative exploration and an exchange of ideas, allowing for the unexpected to happen.

In 2008 Susan Casentini and Kyle Milligan began a search for a suitable and safe space for their art studios. They landed in the heart of the burgeoning Oakland art scene where they found the wonderful red brick building at 385 26th Street. With the space to realize full-scale individual and group art exhibitions, installations, and performance events, Susan and Kyle gathered a group of
like-minded creative individuals who were inspired to ‘put on a show’ for the community.

Some individuals mentioned that this piece, considered a self-portrait, is "just like" the creator Susan Danis. More of her work can be found at

This work, about five feet high was created by carefully applying scotch tape to subjects and lifting the ink to be applied, piece by piece to make this phantasmagorical urban landscape of vitality and color. The docent said the artist was "quite a normal, energetic young man." Each figure, including the lines, consists of several thousand impressions made with tape.

Vessel may not look like much from the outside, but let it be known that this building is the oldest steel-wall structure in Oakland and one of the oldest in the United States. It once was a stable for Oakland fire department horses before being turned into an automobile workshop.

Pamela Merory Dernham does narrative presentations in wire.

Walter James Mansfield's works consist of carefully poured paints that are built up to create literally 3-dimensional realities. Each seemingly random daub has been meticulously constructed to make a relief image upon the stacked background.

Given the remarkable depth and breadth of art displayed in these spaces, with neophytes sharing wallspace with people who have been working thirty years and more all over the globe, it is very likely that works selling for about $2,000 will go for well over ten or twenty times that amount in a few years. Regardless, it is definitely one district of which Oakland can justifiably be proud.


See the calendar sidebar for more details on these events.


UCB Cal performances is hosting a Full Day of Free Performances during their Fall Free for All. Sun, Sept 25, 2011
11 am-6 pm at the following venues: Zellerbach Hall, Pauley Ballroom, Lower Sproul Plaza, Wheeler Auditorium, Hertz Hall, the Eucalyptus Grove, Sather Gate and Faculty Glade. No Tickets Needed

Start your season with Cal Performances (UCB) second Fall Free for All — a full day of free music, dance, and theater for the whole community. Building on the success of our first Fall Free for All, where thousands attended performances in Berkeley's concert halls and theaters, this year's Fall Free for All will feature, among others, American Bach Soloists, AXIS Dance, Wayne Wallace Quintet, Los Cenzontles Mexican Dance and Music, CK Ladzekpo and the African Music and Dance Ensemble, SF Opera Adler Fellows, UC Berkeley Departments of Music, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, and Student Musical Activities. Plus an instrument petting zoo, demonstrations, CD signings with the artists, and plenty of good things to eat. Bring your friends, family, and other arts lovers in your life when they open their doors for a transformative day of live performance that is truly free for all! (No tickets required.)

More information and (510) 510.642.9988


Berkeley Repertory Theatre announced a bold new initiative designed to raise the bar on its already successful record of artistic innovation. The Tony Award-winning nonprofit is launching The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work. An extraordinary laboratory for collaboration, this new program seeks to enhance and expand the process by which Berkeley Rep makes theatre. Think of it as an incubator for theatrical start-ups or a top-notch R&D facility for artists. The Ground Floor will promote cross-pollination among artists and champion the spirit of innovation inherent to Berkeley and the Bay Area. Get in on The Ground Floor!

Artists who would like to participate in The Ground Floor's first summer residency lab in July 2012 should submit applications by November 1, 2011. For more information, visit

- HSBF 09/30 - 10/02

The line up for this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival has been out and finalized for a while. New this year is a vastly expanded Friday portion, which we hopes takes some of the attendance heat off of the other days which have been seeing truely astounding increases as each year the free festival that is fully paid for by Warren Hellman has been held since the days when it was just a small academic presentation at City College.

Children's Program with MC Hammer & P.M.W.

FRIDAY SEP 30 (11am - 7pm)
John Prine, David Bromberg Quartet, Blame Sally, Charlie Musselwhite, Chris Isaak, Thurston Moore, Mekons, Bill Kirchen, The Del McCoury Band & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Robert Plant & the Band of Joy, Jolie Holland, Southern Culture on the Skids, Zigaboo Modeliste

SATURDAY OCT 1 (11am - 7pm)
Kris Kristofferson & Merle Haggard, Earl Scruggs, Robert Earl Keen, Alison Brown Quartet, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Guy Clark & Verlon Thompson, Irma Thomas, Patty Griffin, The Wronglers with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Robyn Hitchcock, The Flatlanders featuring Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock, Steve Earle & the Dukes (and Duchesses) featuring Allison Moorer, Seamus Kennedy, A.A. Bondy , Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder

SUNDAY OCT 2 (11am - 7pm)
Emmylou Harris, DeVotchKa, Dr. John & the Lower 911, The Jayhawks, Dark Star Orchestra, Bob Mould, Kevin Welch, Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain & Edgar Meyer, The Devil Makes Three, Joe Purdy, Hot Buttered Rum, Justin Townes Earle, Buddy Miller, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Jessica Lea Mayfield, Gomez, Moonalice, The Civil Wars, Ollabelle, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, The Mother Hips



The new news is pretty much a continuation of the old news this week. The troubled Island Hospital, which was already seeing serious red due to mandated -- and postponed -- earthquake retrofitting, as well as a big hit from Kaiser's pull-out from services recently got dinged by the State Department of Public Health for "errors that could have caused serious injury or death."

We were not alone in this recent series of regular tri-annual reviews which snared 12 other regional hospitals. On the upside, our issues were comparatively minor, involving pharmacy distribution of fentanyl patches. The patches are applied to the skin so as to deliver controlled doses of pain medication. The opoid drug can cause severe side-effect reactions and apparently the pharmacist did not follow protocols for determining dosage.

Other hospitals lapsed in monitoring cardiac cases for as long as 40 minutes while in ICU. Whoops! Now how long was that patient in cardiac arrest? Sorry doc, we don't know; the probes were not connected.

These first-time infractions cost each hospital $50,000 in fines.


The latest flap in Silly Hall has the Gang of Three chucking brickbats at Doug DeHaan, who may be wondering just what is in public service for him for all the bother. He mentioned in regular meetings that the porous secrecy envelope around hiring for big positions, such as City Attorney, looked to be problematic and asked for a plug to these prospective candidate leaks.

Well, just when we are getting around to more sunshine in the Council is not the best time to ride that particular horse, however the suggestion that some "leaks" may have been politically motivated really launched a few members onto their warhorses. Tam, in particular, just emerged from a bruising battle over her alleged release of privileged Council information to interested parties, so she is understandably sensative over the issue, so now everyone is yelling at one another.

Please, people, there are children here watching. Do try to keep civil.


One sign of a vigorous Democracy is the amount of public disputation that crops up in the Letters to the Editor. We are gratified that the land deal proposed by Ron Cowan's Developer firm, seeking to trade 12 acres on Harbor Bay Isle for parts of the golfcourse is getting some healthy attention. On close examination the deal is not a simple swap of comparable parcels, nor is the "gift" of $5 earmarked million dollars necessary a great prize, for most of the money would be used just to make the deal happen by way of infrastructure improvements, including the cost of building a new set of holes for the golfers.

There also appears to be a possibly related issue in the recent income valuation for the existing golf complex, which seems to have left out nearly 3/4 of a million dollars in green fees income that benefits the City.

Who did that valuation? Dale Lillard, a prospective golf "management" representative seeking to take over control of the Chuck Corica complex.

Added to that bit of info, Dennis Evanovsky of the Alameda Sun (vol 10, #49, 9/8/2001, Waters Muddied at CC Golf Course) reported that Cowan's Doric Development Company "donated" $10,000 to Mayor Marie and to Councilperson Beverly Johnson and local sports booster Chris Seiwald dropped another donation to the Mayor in the same amount.

Who on the Council is raising an eyebrow over this? You guessed it -- the by now rather unpopular (among some Councilmembers) Doug DeHaan.

While Doug is dismayed by the amounts we have reports of snickers and guffaws from folks in Chicago, where loud remarks like "$10k? That's picayune chump change!" have been echoing painfully back over the wire.

Well, there is a Great Recession going on, after all. Even the grease on the palms has gotten thinner these days.


Two items sit up and take notice this week, one good news, one item just wretched.

The Sun reported that a handicapped two-year old's special walker was stolen from the front yard August 28, in all likelihood by numbskulls who had no idea what it was they were taking.

Cambria Hurst was born with a genetic defect that prevents being able to stand without assistance or perform normal ambulation. In July the two-year old got a special walker which enabled her to interact with other children in her 2700 block of Washington Street neighborhood. It also enabled her to embark on a program of physical therapy. Well, its the same old short, ugly story. The walker got left on the front lawn by accident, and by morning, it was gone.

The good news is that a local fabricator, on looking at the specs, decided that although he could not make such a walker himself, he would pay for the replacement so the girl can walk again.

Still, this story would have a much happier ending if whoever took this thing returned the property to to Mr. and Mrs. Hurst. Anyone having information can contact the IPD, and Sam Felsing at editor@alamedasun.con.

In a positive development on another case, Officer O'Madhauen reported that one of the scumbags who robbed a woman and her son in the Hospital Parking Lot last month has probably been arrested.

Jibri Marshall, 23 of Oakland, was allegedly one of three who held up the El Cerrito residents at gunpoint after a visit to someone in the South Shore Convalescent Hospital on July 20.

All three suspects were apprehended by San Leandro police subsequent to a botched robbery that led to a high speed automobile chase into Hayward.


Folks traveling the Infamous Nimitz, once gifted with the appropriate local byway number of Highway 13, may have noticed that Caltrans has been breaking bad on the stretch from the Island all the way down to San Jose.

The 92 interchange on the East side has been smoothed out to remove the wide cloverleaf in favor of more direct feeder lanes entering and leaving the expressway across the swampland there outside Sun Microsystems.

Earthquake retrofitting closer in to Oaktown is proceeding on track, on time, and on budget. Hey! Some good news!

People heading south and leaving 880 to enter Oaktown around the High Street area need to know that this complex is under revision and can be confusing, so its best to slow down and look carefully to find the right path out of there among the concrete tank-stoppers.

Finally, there are resurfacing projects continuing all along the badly truck-battered freeway, so look for notification signs and possible hazardous road surface conditions. This officially will take place from the Old Bayshore crossover to the 280 interchange, but may include the outside lanes of other areas. The work will feature both north and southbound lanes and over 20 exits and onramps. This work began June 27 and typically takes place 9pm to 6am each night.


It's been a warm week on the Island, our hometown set here in California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The last days of summer hold on, they hold on like relatives who don't want to leave at the end of a long evening, they hold on like the hydrangeas and trumpet flowers, not wanting to go into that long winter's sleep.

We don't want to let go of that pool of light in the afternoon

Or maybe its just us, people gotten a little too fond of this life, which really was meant to be only a kind of test, a sort of PSAT for either immortality or whatever else may be there. We don't want to let go of that pool of light in the afternoon by the kitchen table or the shirt sleeves and pleasant walk down the block to the corner store, greeting fruit and vegetable man along the way, checking out the produce there.

Peaches! Peaches and avocados! Are peaches still in season?

They're from Mexico. Apples coming next week.

Okay, apples coming next week. Got that.

The sun is warm in the afternoon, and everyone is out in sandals and shorts. The girls in their summer dresses. Jessie and Jodet skipping down the block after returning from this year's Burning Man, dusty and sunburnt. Time for a BBQ. And all the world revolves around the sundial sitting their on the picnic table out back.

Yet in the gray mornings, the honk of the Canadian geese finally figuring out what they came here for. Flocks of crows gathering quorums to decide something.

'Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,' gets the time of year all wrong

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, gets the time of year all wrong. Every farmer knows that the time for gathering is when the leaves have all gone sere, the yield is plump and fullest. When the evenings get crisp is when everything gets hauled in. then is the time most immediate, when the harvest must be done quick in the little time left. That's the time when the barrow fills with fat tubers, succulent squash, crisp apples, all the explosive fecundity of the earth, things to make your mouth water.

Other places have leaves turning, falling in colors of red and gold, burning just like embers. In California, the changes happen with subtlety, all inside. People start to get a little crazier.

Jacqueline stepped out of the salon with her friend, Rachel, who was the dance teacher at the Metrodome, and with Maeve. Jackie had just finished a great job on Rachel with cutting her hair and pressing and tints to the degree she felt quite proud of her work and with Rachel being a person who dealt with the public and all.

And who should come along just then, but was it not the man himself, Luther.

Luther stopped and looked at the women from across the street and from this distance it was hard to tell at what, or at whom he was looking.

O, he was a rogue that man!

Maeve, of course, knew exactly at whom he was looking for at whom had the poor man only eyes for these past ten years but Jackie. O, he was a rogue that man!

Well Jackie looked at Luther and Luther looked askance, and Rachel looked at herself in the mirror glass window, and Maeve looked at all of them and would you know but Jackie's eyes took on a tinge of green, so to say.

a curious figure appeared riding a horse down ... Park Street

At this moment a curious figure appeared riding a horse down the righthand side of Park Street. He wore a ten-gallon hat, a sort of beat-up suit and bright red tennis shoes. He paused to lean down and ask Luther something and then headed over to the women.

The man nodded and touched the tip of his Stetson with his glove. "Evenin' ladies." he said, with a curious accent.

Rachel and Jackie stood their with their mouths open.

"Do any of you happen to know which way is St. Paul?" asked the man.

"Well," said Maeve. "If its Minnesota you are wantin', you need to turn that animal right around and head northeast, for you are pointed south as of this very moment."

"Much obliged," said the man. "Yashur Yonit!"

"Much obliged," said the man. "Yashur Yonit!"

"Beg pardon?" Maeve and Rachel both said.

"Name of mah horse. Yashur Yonit. Means 'go for it'." He got his horse turned around there and paused to look down at Rachel. "You know of some other way off of this here Island; that bridge down their is hard on this critter's hooves."

"I can show you," Rachel said. "But its complicated."

"Wellll. Hop on board ma'am, if you don't mind spendin' time with an old cowboy."

For answer, Rachel hopped up on fireplug in her birkenstocks and slung herself over the back of the horse behind the cowboy. She passed her arms around the man's trunk and grabbed her wrists.

With that the cowboy and Rachel rode off down the road

"You hold on real good now, ma'am." With that the cowboy and Rachel rode off down the road and disappeared from sight with all of them looking on until a fly buzzed into Luther's open mouth and he started coughing.

"Well I shall be as wacky as a wild, white badger tearin' at my bodice," said Maeve, "But who shall it be but an honest-to-goodness Viking Cowboy."

Luther came over to the two remaining women. "Wonder when Rachel will come back."

"O, something tells me it shall not be for some time," Maeve said.

"Winter is coming on," Jackie said with a curiously strangled voice. "You can't travel much up north after the snow."

"I'll be gob smacked," Maeve said. "And you from Minneapolis just standin' there not sayin' a word the whole time! What on earth has got into you?"

"Are you all right," Luther said. "You look like you are about to fall down!"

"I am falling," Jackie said.

"I am falling," Jackie said. "Yashur Yonit!" She blurted and threw herself bodily at Luther to grab the man in a deep kiss on the lips that caused Maeve to shade her eyes and blush.

"Lord save us! But if the leaves don't fall then its the people! Well-a-day, this lass must be down the boreen to get the pot on the stove now. See you tomorrow, Jackie!" With that merry Maeve skipped on down the road, leaving the couple there still clasped in embrace, the surprised Luther now responding in kind to Jackie in a way that was probably not suitable for children to observe.

Yes, things do change in the Fall, or Autumn as some would have it. In a world full of inconstancy, disruption, decay, mad hatter tea parties, wretchedly worsening economy, nervous jumping up and down, social malaise, extensive disagreement over bad developments, and all sorts of upset, some changes do occur for the better.

In these hard times, many suffer.

That night in the Old Same Place Bar, Denby sat up in the Snug and finished out the evening with an old Robert Hunter tune. A bird-like woman with bright yellow hair in a tangle sat at the forward table drinking a stoli martini. Her name was Sharon; she had seemed in a bad way when she had come in, and so Denby sang to her directly. In these hard times, many suffered.

It's just a box of rain
I don't know who put it there
Believe it if you need it
or leave it if you dare
But it's just a box of rain
or a ribbon for your hair
Such a long long time to be gone
and such a short time to be there

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the Western wildflowers blooming among the pasture grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its tireless journey to parts unknown.

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


SEPTEMBER 11, 2011


This week's photo comes from the archives, and is of a place quite far from our little Island. It is an unusual foto, largely because it is physically impossible to reproduce again, due to security restrictions. The picture was taken at 11:00 pm with a Mamiya-Sekor using Agfa 400 ASA film push processed to 1600. That is the Washington Monument reflected in the Mall pool with the Capitol Building behind it as seen from the Lincoln Memorial.

Even then, in 1976, the area was extremely dangerous to hang around at night and a security guard did arrive to investigate. The photographer chatted with the guard and was soon sent on his way after a discussion about crime awareness. How things have changed.


Toddled on over to Oaktown where it seems artists are doing their level best to keep things interesting there, despite Your Muslim Bakery's thuggishness, the steadily worsening economy, and general wretchedness overall. In fact, history has shown that it is the artists who, by moving into neighborhoods, hoist those places out of dismal conditions by dint of focussed hard work. Right now, Oakland is experiencing quite a Renaissance of art and music as folks boost out of Babylon across the water to escape the high rents. Scads of galleries have opened in the toney Temescal District and many more have started up in the Fruitvale district where some blocks have taken to creating micro-district names for themselves.

The talented Danielle Fox has moved her SLATE gallery from Temescal, where intransigent landlords are jacking rents (heard that one before!) to a collective space where over 25 homegrown galleries pack into the short block of 25th Street between Broadway and T'graph. The new district between 22nd and 26th used to be a blighted area of vacant warehouses, barely functioning machine shops, and industrial spaces that rotated tenants on a regular basis inside quonset huts set cheek-by-jowl with brick facades. For now, its the place to be if you want to be hip in Oaktown.

You can see everything from the dangerously cute . . .

. . . to the monstrous.

With a little ribald humor added!

This fellow looks a lot like Mr. Blather . . . while this mother and child seems to have Shindell's "You Stay Here" as a musical motiv for the times.

The Art Walk takes place in Oakland every Saturday from 1 PM to 4.


Webster Street held its 10th annual Jam this weekend. The music was definitely positioned for the older crowd, with some usual cover bands handling Micheal Jackson and, oddly, ZZ Top, which probably looked funky and "young" to organizers. Loretta Lynch handled "country power ballads" on Sunday, which was the sole Big Name on the bill.

The booths handled the usual suspects for food and tchotchkes. We had a gander at the meat-packed Wescafe sandwich ordered by two Island-Lifers and were suitably impressed.

The event used to be called the Peanut Butter and Jam Festival up until Skippy Peanut Butter was bought by a Chinese company, which did not see fit to support the festival that commemorated the invention of Skippy and its manufacture here.

We had balloon distribution (Alameda Power)

We had clowns blowing balloons

We had emigre entrepreneurs selling specialties, one of the great benefits to living in a culturally diverse area.

And we had music that suits the Island temperament, or at least the temperament of a certain kind of Islandler. Here is Daniel Popsicle, looking cool as, well, as a dish of ice cream. If you can get them to dance, like this couple, you must be doing something right. Way to go Dan!

Patti St. John is the Director of the Bike Alameda group which offers free valet parking at every Island event as well as classes and activities. It was Patti who got the City to install those green bicycle racks at several locations. There is still some money left for more of them, so if you have suggestions, drop a line at And you do know there is now a free shuttle to get you and your ride over to Oaktown if you don't like pedalling through the Posey Tube, right?

One of the nice things about the informal fair is the impromtue appearance of unscheduled musicians. This is Darryl Berk performing on an f-hole archtop in front of the Thin Man. Darryl offers lessons in guitar, Uke, and bass and can be found at

Kudos to staff who make this happen, even during Hard Times.


Honorary Island-Lifer, Jessica, just returned dusty, tired and happy with her friends from the Blackrock Desert where a sort of hedonistic celebration happens every year. Did she take pics? She sure did.


The weather has been moody and querelous on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The days have been heavy with high fog in the morning, leading to bright sunny afternoons along the coast and then chilly breezes and overcast as the afternoon wanes. Some folks have given up their tomatoes as offerings while others gifted with sunshine have reaped a bounty.

Even entering the date 9/11/11 brings about a certain chill

Today is the curious anniversary of a long-anticipated attack by some and a violent surpise by many. Even entering the date 9/11/11 brings about a certain chill. The chill is caused more by the violent and destructive response to the attack than by the events of the day, which most people who had travelled extensively expected would happen.

It must be remembered that 9/11 was the third direct attempt to destroy at least one of the World Trade Center towers. It was not something that came out of nowhere, save for those few who labored under the preposterous delusion that Americans are loved everywhere stick our fingers.

Most Islanders congregated together for small dinner parties and BBQ's, largely to give one another some reassurance to one another about the average and every-day. Islanders tend to take refuge in the quotidian.

That may be true of most of small-town America.

Chad hummed away in his dungeon crypt . . .

In the Island-Life Offices the Editor worked in his cubicle with the little desklamp spilling its pool of light over the papers there while Denby picked Richard Shindell's "You Stay Here" in the corner. Javier, come out of hiding once it was determined his latest ex-girlfriend did not possess another firearm, sat over at the International News Desk with Jose picking in their own fashion over takeout enchiladas from Juanita's. Chad hummed away in his dungeon crypt where he concocted yet more fiendish javascripts while listening to Ravel's Bolero over and over again. Outside the windows, darkness settled over the little town they had come to know so well over the past 14 years. All of the residents asleep or preparing for bed by this time of night, having put the kids to bed with their new homework assignments done on time -- the school year was yet early and their iPod's all turned off.

Micheal, now working the nightwatch at City College drove off in his monster truck and all was silent. Mr. Howitzer stirred in his sleep, dreaming of past real estate deals and fantastic housing development projects, while Eisenhower, his weimariner dog twitched in his own dream of chasing and slaughtering rabbits.

the greatest prize of all -- Grand Baboo of the Elks Club . . .

Mr. Blather slept next to his wife a few doors down and dreamed of achieving the greatest prize of all -- Grand Baboo of the Elks, a position for which he had long striven. He would have to speak to Lenny, who ran the Webster Street barbershop about it again. First he had to make sure that man from Hoboken didn't get to be a member. Let in any foreign riff-raff and no telling what disasters would happen. The entire Golden State already become a magnet for fruits and nuts since the sixties. O, but he missed the 1950's when Those People dared not cross Grand Street!

Over at Marlene and Andre's, the household snuffled and stirred in their blankets. Pahrump, Rolf, Suan, Tipitina, Xavier, Marlene, Andre, Adam and the others. Snuffles, as usual, slept in the porch hold caused by a regrettable accident on Javier's fiftieth birthday. From the fireplace, where Mancini kept his sleeping bag, a low rumble of a snore echoed up the chimney where a family of raccoons had been living for years. The baby raccoon poked his head out below and, seeing nothing edible, went back up inside.

Down the street, Padraic wearily closed up the Old Same Place Bar and trudged on home as Dawn had taken the truck already and his footsteps echoed in the streetlamp street.

Yes, the Island was home to many kinds of people -- not all of them nice at that. But as bad as some could be, not a one -- well very few -- deserved to have a building collapse upong them or die suddenly in a fireball.

A few needed a lesson two in humanity . . .

The Editor went to the window where the pogonip had come in overhead to hide the moon, leaving all in silvery shadow. He loved all of these people, with all of their idiosyncrasies, their faults and their virtues -- even to Mr. Blather and his xenophobic barber --and did not want anything seriously bad to happen to any of them. A few needed a lesson two in humanity, but none of them deserved a violent death. But what could he, a miserable Author do with his feeble pen in the days when many glorified the sword. Lines from a poem by Louis MacNeice came to him.

Nightmare leaves fatigue:
We envy men of action
Who sleep and wake, murder and intrigue
Without being doubtful, without being haunted.
And I envy the intransigence of my own
Countrymen who shoot to kill and never
See the victim’s face become their own
Or find his motive sabotage their motives.

For what purpose all this? He was not a religious man, but in this dark hour, the Editor bowed his head and prayed. Dear Goddess, show me a sign.

He got no answer, but right then the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the peaceful wildflowers blooming among the grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its eternal journey to parts unknown.

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




This week's Island photo comes courtesy of Tammy, who lives with her partner appropriately enough on Alameda Street.


We apologize for the late update, but like the proverbial dialatory child, some dog ate our homework, requiring rewriting the entire issue. New servers in the Offices were responsible for the total loss.

In other Island-Life news we regretfully inform readers that there will be no Mountain Sabbatical this year due to the strapped budget caused by the ongoing Great Recession. It takes many months of planning and substantial resources to field these expeditions over 13,000 foot cols safely and we could not justify the expense and the risk this time around. Trip reports indicated that a number of people have gotten into trouble experiencing severe conditions in the backcountry with near fatal consequences.

As at least 15 people learned the hard way this summer, the wilderness may look benign, but it most certainly is not Disneyland.


We got some small bits here, in lieu of full reports due to the previously mentioned dog data lunch.

District performance in the scolastic API test scores

Pundits are now pouring over the figures we released a few weeks ago regarding District performance in the scolastic API test scores. Turns out we may have the handsome men and strong women but our children can hardly be called generally above average.

Five schools -- Amelia Earhart, Bay Farm, Edison, Franklin, and Lincoln -- scored above 900 on the 1,000 point standardized tests, and the district as a whole rose to an overall average of 842 from last year's 833 -- due largely to the high performance of the five stars mentioned.

Wood, Encinal, Ruby Bridges, Paden, and Washington did so poorly that they face federal mandates for improvement. Washington, Paden and Ruby Bridges are Title I schools, meaning they serve a primarily low income population.

To compare numbers, the County at large saw 152 schools fall below guidelines set by the No Child Left Behind statutes. All probably will be required to institute federal intervention programs. Even the usually high-performing Fremont Unified District saw three of its schools appear on the federal "watch list".

Given that 12 other districts in NorCal also are experiencing trouble, administrators here remain sanguine, indicating there are a number of positives in the results and that the passage of Measure A is already showing good results.

The two latest flaps concern the District, on the one hand, and Ron Cowan's rather sweaty offer of a land swap on the other.

A pointed editorial in the Island Gerbil referenced Fresno County School Super Larry Powell who relinquished $288,000 worth of annual salary for a downgrade to just $31,000 per annum so that programs he considers important will be retained by the savings to the County. Quite obviously, and entirely unmentioned, the recent jack in salary to pay for our own Superintendent was the rhinoceros in the room. Never fear, for the neighboring Letters to the Editor included at least two irate citizen responses to Kirsten Vital's compensation boost. This payraise comes on the heels of a very disputacious Measure A campaign that was supposed to raise money to rescue the schools by means of property taxes.

Looking at the fallout here regarding the Cowan proposal, we cannot be other than amused. Amused and outraged at the same time, which is a dicey set of circumstances.

Ron Cowan offered the City 12.25 acres on Harbor Bay for 12.25 acres of the Mif Albright golfcourse

Briefly, Ron Cowan's developer firm offered the City 12.25 acres on Harbor Bay for 12.25 acres of the existing Mif Albright golfcourse with something like $5 million dollars to sweeten the pot.

Why does the man want to trade land for land? Because the existing Harbor Bay residents quite honestly and rightly forbade him to plant so much as a shovel there as they feel congested enough as it is. He can build what he likes so long as what he builds is something reasonable and useful like a park or a promenade; just no houses to block the views.

Now if you know Developers, you know that their kind just pees in their pants over the view of golf courses. Golf courses are gold bricks to developers. Nothing says upscale living and pricey housing units like a good green. And when its all done and lined up, you can always brick over the green and fill in the traps for yet more pricey units, and with the bonus that the land has already been cleared and remediated from toxic waste. No nasty tree roots to get in the way of your luxurious sewer lines. The evo impact report is a cakewalk. Golf courses are gravy to developers.

The deal, which Mayor Beverly pretty much admitted stunk royally . . .

The deal, which Mayor Beverly pretty much admitted stunk royally and was worth doing only for the cash has a few problems. The $5 million looks on the face of it to be pretty attractive, however that $5 mil will not go into a general fund for the City to use as it wishes. That money will be used to reconfigure the existing courses, build a new course and construct a sports facility. At the end of the day, there will be barely $1 million left to improve the other 27 holes at the complex -- assuming every project contemplated went under budget.

When was the last time anyone ever saw a construction project go under budget?

To give the Silly Council credit they are already backing off this thing from an initial "I guess we gotta do this for the money" to a more "hold on now, let's have another look at this thing."

People are talking an aweful lot about transparency in local government these days, with more than a few comparisons being made to the corrupt city of Bell which recently saw a near 90% ejection of its rotten cast of public official characters, from its Mayor and Council to its reprehensible Chief of Police there.

the re-named Webster Street Jam, formerly the Peanut Butter and Jam Festival

As for the upside, this weekend will see the 10th iteration of the re-named Webster Street Jam, formerly the Peanut Butter and Jam Festival. The event got renamed when Skippy, which founded itself here on Webster got purchased by a dour Chinese outfit which did not see value in supporting the celebration of Skippy's creation of emulsified peanut butter.

Nevermind. We don't need the Chinese and they can nosh their peanuts in solitary upon the misty mountains of Shan for all we care. We intend to have a party on Webster with music and all the usual suspects there providing food and face painting and kid's diversions and a fine time is guaranteed for all.


It's been a changeable week on the Island fraught with morning fog and afternoon heat on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

With this late rally of summer, the pole beans have revived, the tomatos have renewed hope and the morning glories are just now starting to earn their name. Nevertheless, this late heatwave does not fool the Canadian geese who have started to form squadrons. Seagulls have begun circling over the parking lots at Safeway, indicating that a great change is coming on and you had better be prepared for that my friend, yes you had better get ready. For starters, you might as well plough those hopeful tomato vines into the soil and start over with decent tubers.

This past weekend was Labor Day, and it seemed the entire world, save for native NorCal Californians, packed into Babylon for god knows what. We don't know, for we went up to visit old friends in the north counties. Everyone we know born and raised in Babylon By the Bay has long since left due to the obscene rents.

just what are we defending against? Just what are we fighting FOR?

This upcoming weekend brings up a ten year anniversary for a national loss of innocence, and the onset of our national grapple with the decision to remain a Democracy or not. It has been touch and go for the past decade, and the end result is still in question. So long as a single strand of razor wire runs across a barrier in the Capitol, so long as a single armed soldier patrols the streets in this country you must as yourselves the two questions: just what are we defending against? Just what are we fighting FOR?

In the flickering shadows of Marlene and Andre's Household where the assembled congregation lay back on cushions after their meal of bread soup the long tooth of hunger pierced sharp. The Food Bank had seen its client base swell from under 80 families to well over 500 and winter was coming on. The Great Recession had long since ceased being a joke and we had long since passed the option of just talking about it will make it all go away. No amount of talk will now sell a car, get companies to hire, and get people to buy any damn thing from the brightly lit boutiques and department stores. You could drop taxes to absolute zero and even that would not make a god damned bit of difference. That sort of language was done for now. We are really in for it now, and everybody in this household knew it.

Martini had his hours at Veriflo cut back to below full-time, which meant no more benefits. Same thing had happened to Tipitina with her office job in the City. Denby had been told that checks for the work he had done for the County languished in the Auditor's office, pending "expense justification."

Isn't a bill enough reason to pay it?

"I fixed your wiring closet because it was broke," Pahrump said over the phone to Annie Wong. "You was the ones that called me up. Isn't a bill enough reason to pay it?"

"That's not the way we work it here," Annie said. "We need a reason to explain the bill."

"O!" Pahrump said. "I guess my reasons aint good enough." Pahrump was mostly Pomo and Modoc mix, and this sort of treatment was old hat to him. Working was no guarantee of pay.

Even Suan was feeling the pinch as fewer men wearing dark sunglasses and clad in trenchcoats were coming into the Crazy Horse.

Everyone was at a loss. No one knew how to fix the economy and get things jump started again. O, there were some who had the idea of cutting government to nothing, as if that would cause by magic private companies to boil over with jobs. Then there were others who thought that if we built hella bridges to nowhere and repaved everything that would do the trick, and still others said that if we allowed drilling for oil in everyone's backyard that oil would end all the mischief with dollars and sense -- also by magic, and rather instantaneously at that.

In truth everyone in that cottage understood full well that no matter what happened, no matter who got elected, no matter what sort of program or tax thingie-boodle was adopted, all of them there were fully fucked beyond belief, for that generally had been their experience born out by the facts.

none of the idiots in charge . . . know(s) a single good god-damned thing

They knew that it mattered not the slightest for none of the idiots in charge or likely to be in charge knows a single good god-damned thing about what it was to live in America for they all lived in some wildly misty fantasyland which has as much to do with everyday life in America as Avatar's Pandora had to do with Passaic, New Jersey.

In the corner, Adam sat over the desk Martini and Pahrump had got for him from IslandFreecyle, which was a sort of greymarket exchange that had risen up to meet the challenges of the times by folks finding ways to barter things back and forth as households fell apart and others struggled to survive. Californians are an ingenious folk and will aways find ways to handle adversity in creative ways for we are well used to handling disasters of all kinds.

School had begun and Adam had launched into his studies with a will already getting ahead of the reading and the math under the pool of the desklamp. The little desk partially straddled Martini's sleeping space, but he, like all the others there, regarded Adam with a proprietary and solicitous air.

Tipitina hovered behind Adam's chair as the child who had been thrown from a speeding automobile as so much discarded trash a few months ago drooped his head over the geometry book, weary beyond belief. It was so hard being good. It was hard not cutting the snotty kid in the schoolyard even though he knew he could waste the little bastard. It would be so easy. But Marlene would not like that. And Andre would . . . look at him so . . . give him . . . a real talking to. Not the fear of lashing -- he had felt that enough and knew it well -- but the fear of letting people down. It wasn't fair! None of it was fair! It just wore him out. . . . The Firemonk woman at Tassajara was noble and wise and courageous; she had met the tall fire and won the challenge. He could never be like that. Would he ever be good enough . . .?

Marsha joined Tipitina. Soon, Marlene stood there also. Three figures standing over the Future. One spins the thread, one determines its length, one cuts it short.

In the offices of the Island-Life newsroom, the Editor sits with the slippery galleys transversing his boney old knees. Everything had to be redone after the Fiasco with the servers. What a mess. The radio played a lonesome lovelost song.

"I fell in to a burning ring of fire
Down down down, and the flames burning higher.
It burns burns burns, that ring of fire
That ring of fire."

If he worked in radio, he would not have these problems.

If he worked in radio he would not have these problems. In radio, everything is possible. You can always count on calling on Pat Donohue to fill in the blank spaces. On the Internet, everything is ephemeral and impossible. Nothing goes right and nobody but nobody listens to you with any sort of seriousness. What do you do? O, I am a blogger. A blogger? I have a nine-year old nephew who has a blog; is that what you do?

Frankly madam, I look for prepubescent bloggers so as to strangle them with my piano tuner. Does that make you feel better? Hmm?

He sure wished a certain somebody with red shoes would keep on doing indefinitely. But who was he to make demands. Only a silly man with thinning white hair sitting there at his worktable beside the pool of light thrown by a desklamp, while all around the dense darkness. Blogger or radio, we throw out these lines into the vast ocean hoping that someone out there takes a bite, gives a little tug that says somehow, "Hey! I am here! I heard you!"

Out on his boat way beyond the Golden Gate, Pedro pauses after setting all the lines and getting everything ready to listen to his favorite radio program which happened to be that of a televangelist named Pastor Rotschue, who had some vague claim to being a Lutheran or a Witness or something.

You might think that seasonal changes like summer into Fall go unrecorded on the sea, but old time mariners know that the ocean gets a different look about it when Fall comes around, it looks a little darker, the wave caps look a little foamier, the sky especially looks a little more frangible with its fractured clouds and earlier deadlines.

"You have to have lived to read and understand the Gospel . . ."

"You have to have lived to read and understand the Gospel," went his favorite radio preacher.

That much in a world of uncertainty was very true. You have to have lived to understand the gospel or anything at all, for that matter. To look at all the proclaimed Xians out there, the gospel was not the half of what they need to know. It was a great pity that the ones given to lead us do not seem to have any inkling what it is to be alive, truely alive.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the humble wildflowers blooming among the grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its eternal journey to parts unknown.

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


AUGUST 28, 2011


This week bids adieu to August with this shot submitted by Tammy of Alameda Avenue.

Tammy is quite the accomplished amateur photographer with a professional eye, so we hope to see more of her work as time goes on.


By now the Bostons all have a lot more to talk about than their little 5.8 earth roller of last week, as an irate Irene wind whips a little humility into those Easterners from Vermont to Florida. As of last report they were just starting to clear up the mess in Central Park, where ancient oak trees got uprooted and tossed around like fiddlestix, and their are still hunting the grim hunt south of the Macon Dixon for drowned bodies.

So, any of you idiot deniers still think global climate change is a myth?

Didn't think so.

Eclipsed by the East Coast hullabaloo, where it always seems the loudest noise emanates, was a our pair of modest shakers with aftershocks.

A small earthquake rattled the Bay Area Wednesday, less than 12 hours after another temblor struck late Tuesday.

Both quakes were of magnitude 3.6 and were centered several miles northeast of San Leandro along the Hayward Fault.

The 9:57 a.m. shaker followed an 11:36 p.m. quake Tuesday that was widely felt throughout the Bay Area, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Tuesday night's quake was followed by a 2.3 magnitude aftershock at 11:41 p.m.

We felt these as a brief moment of approaching rumble, followed by sharp shakes lasting less than a couple seconds which did little damage, but did get all the windchimes going.

The "felt" intensity of a quake is often unrelated to the scientific measure because of the varying nature of the structures inside which the people are experiencing the quake. The majority of structures in the Bay Area have been specifically reinforced to handle quakes, while this is seldom a concern in the East.

It is highly likely that effects of the Tuesday quake will continue to be discovered in the Eastern metro areas for many more months, if not years, to come.


The Island's Fruitvale Bridge, a pretty decent macadam-topped deck with drawbridge, will undergo seismically retrofitting from October 31 of this year to an estimated completion date of March, 2012.

During renovation the bridge will be on a "12-9" schedule — alternately closed 12 days, then operational for the next nine days. In a tweak to that schedule, it will be open from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1.

The $550,000 to upgrade the three bridges came from the federal government and Proposition 1B.

True to the nature of hard times and hard choices during the Great Recession, none of the bridges is being fully retrofitted to maximum spec of "lifeline", meaning bridges would be guaranteed to be passable even after a severe 8.0 quake. That would have cost well over $40 million. Instead all bridges will be brought up to "no collapse" standards, meaning they are unlikely to fall down, but might not be immediately useful. In the case of the Fruitvale bridge, pavement can crack up. The steel deck bridges are not immune to passage issues as well, as that grid can warp, toss up, or separate at joins. The Fruitvale bridge, as it is newer construction, is a better candidate for "lifeline" retrofit, however the money to do that just is not there.


Toddled up to the 'Ave in Berzerkeley on Sunday to catch local band faves, Whiskerman, whom we have been hearing some buzz about for a while. Whiskerman is the five-piece brainchild of singer songwriter Graham Patzner and his brother Lewis Patzner who supplies cello and trombone. Singer and keyboardist Madeline Streicek, bassist Will Lawrence and drummer Nicholas Cobbett fill out the rather idiosyncratic sound that is an equal measure of mix between jazz, folk, art-rock, blues, psychedelia and gut-bucket whiskeytown.

Streicek, who also fills administrative duties and booking for the band was not present, however the energetic and surprisingly well-balanced dynamics for this young band quickly hauled folks in from all over the 'Ave where Annapurna was co-hosting with the City of Berkeley the "Last Sunday Fest."

Patzner has a gifted high tenor voice which ranged easily from growls, barks, yips, and full-bore howls to smooth ballads while beating with a savage plectrum on a thin-body f-hole electric and doing things with a violin that would shock the Old Masters. His brother's staccato trumpet attacks also must cause his old highschool band teacher to shake his head, but that's okay in our book. Were we impressed? You might say so.

Graham's lyrics vary from simple ballads and love songs to some stuff that sounds a cross of "60 seconds to Mars" with Steeleye Span or some of those sci-fi bands out there, who rely heavily on evocation rather than meaning to hold the listener.

A gander at his fingering suggests Patzner uses standard, or half-step down, tuning however he still managed to snap his B string in mid-thrash, continuing on full blast like an old trouper to bring the whole band to a rousing crescendo.

From the frenetic nature of his playing, he probably helps keep D'Addario in business. We certainly hope he continues to do so for years to come.

Whiskerman recently completed their debut record with producer Greg Ashley (Gris Gris). A pre-order is available directly from the band via Bandcamp in the leadup to the official release in Fall 2011.

A dream bill would see Whiskerman sharing the marquee with Four Year Bender and Devil Makes Three. Can you say "aural orgasm?" We knew you could.


Some Island-Lifers have pointed the way to events taking place here on the Island. To our surprise, Wednesdays is Big Band night at Roosters, which is normally a dirt-under-the-fingernails hard rock beer-and-a-bump sort of place. Apparently some real former luminaries who have retired here will sit in for sessions midweek.

We also hear that Temple Beth Emmanuel in Harbor Bay holds a dance/swing night on the Last Wednesday of the month in its community center. You want Halal? They got halal and Count Basie too.


Adding to the increasingly long list of casualties of the Great Recession, the Acapulco Restaurant closed its doors after the Quintero family sold the place, ending a 58 year run on the Island. The Quinteros raised their seven children in the rooms above the restaurant, and each family member served at least a while in some capacity there. The new owner promises to keep the name and preserve the tradition of serving Mexican food, however, the atmosphere will clearly be different.


It's been a quiet week on the Island, our hometown set here in California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The mornings have been cool with high fog, while the afternoons have been sunny, cloudless and hot, which generally unnerves people from SoCal, who generally hold the conviction that any place which does not feature sparklingly bright mornings and heavy, sultry afternoons, must be somehow godless.

Those people have never been to Minnesota, and if they have, they do not remember a thing. Tanning lotion is known to to cause memory lapse; you just talk to people from Florida or SoCal. If you think its just sunshine, compare them to people from New Mexico and Nevada, who would look at you as if you had spiders crawling on your face if you were to suggest laying out under the hot desert sun with little on save for some oil and a scrap of Brazilian cloth. "For the sake of god, man, don't you know that hot sun will bake your brains into fritters!?"

The one's up North who do lie out in the sun tend to have a lot more natural insulation than Californians, so they have a defense. Then again, there are no blackflies in California, so there is nothing to hustle you away from the lake within fifteen minutes.

Monday is the day all the kids get sent back to school, and all the pharmacies all over the Island are getting ready to take advantage of this lag time to count inventory and reorder, as there will be no major rush on valium and Adivan for quite a while now that the causes of migraines have been foisted off onto people paid to handle those little problems. Yes, now is the time to replace the crockpot where Johnny had tried to cook up some froglegs -- obtained from the Mif golfcourse watertraps one night -- and time to fix the bougainvillea, which briefly served as an ineffective treefort in its lack of supporting structure when that all came crashing down in a tangle of trellis and children's limbs and fear of lawsuits, and you've still got to locate Mr. Fluffy, the hamster that went missing two weeks ago. And did not Agnes arrive the night of the slumber party with a pet mouse from Petco? She had been so distraught when the little fellow had gotten away and now the issue is that the mouse probably survived to become a problem somewhere and Mr. Fluffy probably did not, to become another sort of problem developing behind something heavy somewhere in the house.


It's been a quiet week on the Island, our hometown set here in California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The mornings have been cool with high fog, while the afternoons have been sunny, cloudless and hot, which generally unnerves people from SoCal, who generally hold the conviction that any place which does not feature sparklingly bright mornings and heavy, sultry afternoons, must be somehow godless.

Tanning lotion is known to to cause memory lapse

Those people have never been to Minnesota, and if they have, they do not remember a thing. Tanning lotion is known to to cause memory lapse; you just talk to people from Florida or SoCal. If you think its just sunshine, compare them to people from New Mexico and Nevada, who would look at you as if you had spiders crawling on your face if you were to suggest laying out under the hot desert sun with little on save for some oil and a scrap of Brazilian cloth. "For the sake of god, man, don't you know that hot sun will bake your brains into fritters!?"

The one's up North who do lie out in the sun tend to have a lot more natural insulation than Californians, so they have a defense. Then again, there are no blackflies in California, so there is nothing to hustle you away from the lake within fifteen minutes.

that all came crashing down in a tangle of trellis and children's limbs

Monday is the day all the kids get sent back to school, and all the pharmacies all over the Island are getting ready to take advantage of this lag time to count inventory and reorder, as there will be no major rush on valium and Adivan for quite a while now that the causes of migraines have been foisted off onto people paid to handle those little problems. Yes, now is the time to replace the crockpot where Johnny had tried to cook up some froglegs -- obtained from the Mif golfcourse watertraps one night -- and time to fix the bougainvillea, which briefly served as an ineffective treefort in its lack of supporting structure when that all came crashing down in a tangle of trellis and children's limbs and fear of lawsuits, and you've still got to locate Mr. Fluffy, the hamster that went missing two weeks ago. And did not Agnes arrive the night of the slumber party with a pet mouse from Petco? She had been so distraught when the little fellow had gotten away and now the issue is that the mouse probably survived to become a problem somewhere and Mr. Fluffy probably did not, to become another sort of problem developing behind something heavy somewhere in the house.

Over at Marlene and Andre's Household, little Adam has returned from his sojourn with the Buddhist monks, where he got a good dose of badly needed discipline and three square meals a day. He's all excited about starting school at Edison (Home of the Fighting Otters!) and it took both Marlene and Tipitina to tuck him into bed. They fixed up a cot in Marlene and Andre's bedroom where it turned out there was slightly more room to swing a cat after the chest of drawers got moved out into the hallway between the rent-a-bunks there. The rents on the Island, having become so obscenely beyond the reach of normal people, let alone the gaggle of losers, bums, misfits, rebels and scalawags that comprised the Household, they had bonded together as a community to house some fifteen or more people in the one bedroom cottage owned by Mr. Howitzer.

the house was a pretty good representation of general misery in America

Latterly, parts of the gypsy caravan had been parking in front of the house -- and sometimes in back of it, by Marlene's permission, so it could be said the house was a pretty good representation of general misery in America in the second decade of the Millennium. The gypsies had been rousted from their camp along the estuary on the Oaktown side when some developers had thought it a good idea to beautify that part of the estuary by building a nice and clean promenade so that people on the Island side, where they really wanted to develop, would have all of this niceness and cleaness to look at, instead of dirty humanity.

The problem of course, was that the promenade ran with the estuary on one side and a massive concrete processing plant on the other, with all the dusty drabness usual of industry, so the view would still have something with which to contend. But fools, dreamers, lovers, and greedy goddamned bastards can seldom be persuaded from pursuing their desires, so the gypsies had to go. They were used to it and there had been a lot of that sort of thing lately in the Golden State.

So some of the gypsies wound up on the Island in little places tucked away off of the main streets and Marlene learned how to make henna patterns and jewelry from pot-metal from a nut-brown girl who for all Marlene knew was either 22 or 64 years in age -- impossible to tell. In return, Marlene taught the woman how to make bread soup, always an important skill during a Great Recession when provisions were hard to come by.

Orion began his somersault across the heavens

So with the orphaned child Adam asleep in his bed, Snuffles the Bum asleep in the burned hole in the porch, the wavelets lapping down at the distant Strand, all the lights winking across the hump of Mt. San Bruno across the water, the few employed and partially-employed snoozing in their bunks, Orion began his somersault across the heavens, his belt, sword or whatever flapping in the celestial breeze, while Marlene and Andre sat in the couch on the good part of the porch and Andre picked his guitar softly.

The time has come for us to pause
And think of living as it was
into the future we must cross
must cross

It's the end of August and the end of summer 2011. In a month, the date 9/11/11 will come and go with nothing special about it, for nothing suggests any end to the general endemic suffering will come to pass. Only this: a black-haired beautiful girl sits on a porch gazing at the stars burning above the ocean while her man plays the guitar beside her, and a child sleeps in a strange house defended by misfits and miscreants, safe at last. And in the caravan mobile home out back a woman puts out the light, grateful for at least one act of kindness for this temporary mooring. Like Orion's Belt, these tokens can mean many things.

Well, babe be mine one more time
Run your hand down my spine
If you say we've got to go
Take some time for just one more

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the moonlit wildflowers blooming among the starlit grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its eternal, ever-questing journey to parts unknown.

That night The Editor tossed and turned as he entered into a dream -- which turned out to his great surprise to be that belonging to someone else entirely. These sorts of things happen around the time of a Harvest Moon. He found himself in the middle of a dream that was supposed to be solely for Rebbe Mendelnusse of the Temple Shalom Emmanuel. But we will have to tell you all about that next week, for the horses of the night are making haste.

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

AUGUST 21, 2011


This week's photo comes from Javier's garden where finally one single stalk emerged this year from the cluster of buried Pink Lady nuts. Yes, its been an unseasonably cool summer here, but small glories persist.

It was interesting perusing the stax here to find a headlining song lyrics referencing the color pink. Most of the good ones are unprintable, as the one from the eponymous chanteuse Pink, or like Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac" about rather raunchy subjects.

What on earth is about that color any way?


The weather reports have been about as mercurial as the stock market lately, but all indications are for significantly warmer temps here along the coast this week, moving at least close to the eighties, if not the nineties, albeit with that coastal pogonip persisting to noon most days. We just might get that annual bodyslam of a heat wave that normally announces the last gasp of Summer, but don't hold your breath for that.

Dweeb report, the same report that correctly forecast the Pineapple Express, is saying snow is still down to 10,000 feet, and backcountry reports all are about late season mosquitos and vastly swelled creeks that have resulted in dicey "wet crossings." For all high country travel, "river shoes", crampons, and trekking poles are indicated.

Those doing Echo Col this year will definitely need that ice ax. Conditions are closer to what they were some twenty-five years ago at the end of the big drought. Howard reports a low pressure system over the Sierra is resulting in high temps and the beginning of dry summer at Elevation, finally, so expect stream flows to get pretty rough and treacherous until the start of the snow season again.

Ranger station in Evo Valley has diverted folks from the usual wet crossing below there as the usual crossing spot got too dangerous.


Its been a while since we did a survey of what's being reported and how around the world. Largely because it has been pretty obvious what people have been talking about.

First we take a look at Der Vaterland, where events have been shaking up the Burgers.

Der Spiegel, Germany's approximate "Time" equivalent, has big feature stories on what is happening in Libya. As of this moment, the rebels have entered and taken central Tripoli, so that is likely to be big news everywhere.

The second big headline was all about China: "China beklagt Arroganz des Westens" or China complains about Western Arrogance. Obviously, Biden went to China to help repair some diplomatic damage caused by our recent debt ceiling circus in D.C., however China appears to be getting miffed at both the USA as well as Europe which has the same debt problem.

Angela Merkel seeks to allay German anxieties about Recession. The roller coaster financial markets have the Burgers there in a tizzy, and Merkel is just doing the job she was hired to do, same as Obama.

Some page three items followed up on the anniversary of the construction of the infamous "Berlin Wall", which is no surprise. Then there are features on the gunfire directed at UK police during the recent riots there, with the online Spiegel showing videos of armed men firing upon police in Birmingham. Finally we have "Abschied von Privatkunden" a story about HP abandoning the individual consumer in its complete dissolution of its PC business, which includes computers, tablets, cell phones, and all associated factories.

The more staid Frankfurter Allgemein carried many of the same photos from Libya and the same commentary about the takeover of Tripoli. A few more details about Merkel's response to the Eurozone financial crisis emerged there in a story which stated that Merkel specifically excluded issuing Eurobonds as a means to resolve financial problems.

Entire main features were dedicated to "The Next Step of the (financial) Crisis", some quirky issues regarding Germany's Eurozone membership and the projected bailout of Greece, and "Ken Block - Der Californicator". Ken Block is a race car driver.

The Crisis feature ran a telling image of the American dollar, which says it all.

The issue is a new doubt-filled trust in America's financial handling of its obligations. The general tone is extremely pessimistic for the future of the financial relationship between the USA and the Eurozone, with four potential outcomes of the current crisis outlined. Here, the Debtor is assumed to be the collective assembly of debtor nations, including USA and the Eurozone.

1. Through reduction of expenses and (unexplained) economic growth, trust is slowly rebuilt.
2. Increasing taxes and improved revenue streams will reduce Debt.
3. The debt is renegotiated when the issue is provoked by the creditors, establishing a new payment scheme.
4. The debtor states surrender currency stability to pursue policies that ratchet inflation, but eliminate debt value.

There is a sort of sardonic comment that "social and political instability" will be consequences to any one of these scenarios.

Yes, well.

In the next section, the report presents the wan hope that the economic strength of the debtor nations can be achieved by means of "structural reforms." The various countries of Italy, Ireland, Great Britain and the US are handled briefly and with not much hope for different reasons. In the US as in GB, the problem is that manufacturing needs substantial investment to expand infrastructure, however there is no money to do that any more.

In every country, goes the commentary, deep cuts in social programs, such as education and medicine, have resulted in a pull-back of investment, which has led to stagnation of wages (in the USA) and a decline in living standards.

The 2nd scenario is abruptly dismissed, with the "no new taxes mantra" invoked as a serious problem here, even though compared to all the other countries, America's tax levels are "relatively low."

The general summation of the article is that the "Social State" is in deep trouble, and the problem remains even in the face of ever more draconian cuts in every country, in the simple question "who is going to pay?" Unstated is the main issue that payment is less about the social programs being cut in desperation internally than about the payments on debts owed to the creditor nations. Yes, cutting taxes and social programs will never resolve THAT issue.

The article about Finnland and Greece is less important about fine print clauses in a contract about Euro reponsibilities than it is about the fact that Greece has become a big Problem to the Eurozone. There is less concern about Ireland, due largely to cultural biases, which are quite frankly and overtly racial and racist. Also, Ireland is not experiencing the same hot social unrest as Greece during this time.

As we turn to France and Le Monde, we encounter the same main headlines about the same subject: "Les rebelles s'emparent de Tripoli" The Rebels have Taken Tripoli!" At least they used their own photographers.

Affaire DSK : vers l'abandon des poursuites:

As one would expect, the next big headline was all about the prosecution abandoning all charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, thus resulting in the man allowed to depart the USA for France immediately after the motion was granted. Well, wouldn't you hightail it?

L'uranium enrichi au laser, nouvelle peur nucléaire:
The announcement by General Electric it had devised a new method for enriching uranium seems to have caused some schizophrenic responses post-Japan disaster. France notably indicated its continued devotion to developing nuclear power, while Germany decided to put the kibosh on its entire set of programs and close all reactors. That Iran's programs are cited at the end of the article indicates why France is becoming rather concerned.

Like everyone else France has its own deficit problem, and one article refers to Martine Aubry, a "Premiere Secretaire du PS" calling on Sarkozy to do something active about the deficit instead of quoting "slogans". Ouch!

Los rebeldes llegan al centro de Trípoli:
When we come to El Pais, what do we encounter? Another headline about folks celebrating the rebel takeover of central Tripoli.

Most of the news that follows is very regional to Spain, although there is a nice piece on the Chilean author Roberto Bolano, who died last year.

The ETA continue to cause trouble (la banda terrorista) and the Pope says a number of things that are important to Catholics on a visit to Madrid, however there is a story about the violent tensions in Nicaragua leading up to critical elections there, featuring a photo of a campesino holding up traffic in Siuna with a pistol, and Merkel calling for a "equal thoroughfare" for all members of the Euro community. A commemoration for those murdered in Oslo and Utoya is described with remarks from king Harold V. Then there is the more immediate news about Isreal's response to the rocket attacks by Hamas

Even our brothers in Mexico could not restrain enthusiasm about the rebel entry into Tripoli.
El Mundo reported that folks celebrated in Bengazi with fireworks and dancing. Then the headlines turn to events around the world.

Zimbabue: el fin del falso rey
In Zimbabwe, the end to the false king. Apparently one of Africa's last dictators, Mugabe, has withdrawn from public view and may be in doubt of continuing as Ultimate King subsequent to the death of General Solomon Mujuru after a farm "accident", the man who had essentially established Mugabe as despot over the former colony. Not a bad thing for that long-suffering country.

Sunday proves decisive for Strauss-Kahn. Well, we got that from France. The perp walks and the woman gets no relief for the affair.

More reportage on the memorial for the Oslo victims and the Isreal-Hamas broughhaha. Then there was the detention of seven persons engaged in a street brawl in Barcelona. Or was that here between Raiders and 49er fans?

On to the Arab world to wind things up. Surprise! "Gaddafi's defences collapse in a dramatic turning of the tides in the six-month-old civil war"

Well, it is kind of important.

Then there is a piece that is more front and center than in El Mundo or El Pais about Syria's Assad expressing defiance to the West about "foreign intervention."

A civil war continues to rage in Somalia, with fighting taking place in Mogadishu, and China features large in two articles, the first of which discusses China's $3.2 trillion problem in holding so much of its currency reserves in US dollars. There is the usual discussion about S&P's downgrade and what it means for China, with various US default scenarios presented. The concensus is that China needs to diversify its financial holdings away from US dollars, but first the "renminbi" must be allowed to appreciate against the dollar. At present it is held artificially low by PRC policy.

From our attorney connection in Mexico City we have loads of commentary on local government politics, most of which seems to be leading up to the presidential elections there.

So that's it, that's the news around the world, with a few omissions this time. We read the news in five languages so you don't have to.


While various Bay Area events fired off all over, the Outside Lands in Babylon collapsing in on itself when the hoi polloi, rejecting high ticket prices -- or any ticket prices at all -- simply tore down the perimeter fence to charge in as a mob to see performers for free. Over in Oaktown, those who still have some money forked over a new $15 charge for the formerly free event there, catching Tower of Power on Sunday. Locals demonstrated civic pride at the Battle of the Bay pre-season game between the 49ers and the Raiders by getting into a brawl and shooting two fans with pistols.

People. Its just a game. C'mon!

We Islanders tend to take things a little more sedate and reasonable, so we held the first Pilgrim Soul Forge Craft Fair out at the Point where we proved not only that we know how to make things, but we also know how to conduct an event in style and have a good time, while also proving that we are more civilized that those folks over in Babylon.

Grupo Zunzun, a jazz trio, provided some energetic sounds while Grant Marcoux offered blacksmithing demonstrations.

Hue Yang displayed ceramics, Sue Laing showed the softer side of the Island with her hand-made felt works, susan Tuttle delighted with jewelry, Brigitt Evans showed her handcrafted soaps and skin care products, Karri Jose hung her hand-sewn bags and Susan Marek laid out her glassware. Also present was the delectible Twin Bees operation selling locally produced honey and the Island home gardeners association. You could even sign up to learn how to build your own kayak.

Volunteers like Mark Peters, who also possesses a fine baritone voice that has been employed on the Island at musical events helped out with grunt work on behalf of the Faire.

The talented and successful artist Susan Laing graciously lent her expertise.

The Faire is the brainchild of Grant Marcoux, who is helpfully repairing a tin snips for a visitor in this photo.


So anyway, it's been a coolish and overcast week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The high fog has held on well past noon most days, resulting in chilly mornings and sunny afternoons for those returning from the few jobs that remain out there in the land of 12% unemployment. At least we are not in Amador, Eldorado or Butte counties where the going rate is a full 40% of jobless.

Last morning, Jose awoke to the sound of Canadian geese flocking in chevrons overhead, signifying even if the Back to School Sales did not, that this summer of 2011 is already passing into that other world. Up in the Great White North, things must be happening at a pace to make this happen, for the Island is supposed to be just a pit stop along the way for fowl from St. Paul and similar regions.

It does seem that the kids are going back to school a bit earlier than usual, almost like everybody is afraid some kind of labor strike will hit the Unified School District, putting the start of classed back in a way that really aggravates parents who dearly love their kids -- really they do -- but just cannot stand to have them hanging about the house a minute longer or everything will fly asunder in a rage of tossed pie tins and ruined strudel and Aunt Maude will start to tear her hair out by the roots again and isn't that yet another problem. . . .

The Editor has been trying to get in touch with the Mayor of that town up in northern Minnesotta by Bear Lake, however it seems that the fellow has gone on some kind of hippy "Summer of Love" tour thing and may even be swinging by locally, which is just the crabapple pits for getting a word in edgewise with the man and the Editor has gotten concerned the fellow is going dotty or something with imagining that he can retire, which is certainly not allowed in any book the Editor has read and he has read quite a few.

He put together a missive and tucked that into a roll and tucked that into a pouch and hung that about the neck of a passenger pigeon -- a few are kept around the Offices for special purposes on a grant from the NEA -- and he sent that off posthaste and the message read, "Let's have no more talk about retiring for that sort of thing is simply not done. You are far too important and necessary in this time of adversity and so we shall not have it and the Show Must Go On. So we will expect you back in the Fall full of fine mettle and walleye. No more shilly shally nonsense."

He thought briefly about adding something concerning that last singer songwriter who had been on the radio, whom he thought he would like to meet more intimately someday, but decided against that. He, after all did possess some principles and using a famous person to act as a sort of go-between went against his better nature. He did begin to reconsider when he remembered a certain winsome Irish lass, but the messenger had by then departed, so he went over to the stereo and put on a music CD. Which happened to be a Tom Waits. That gal had twisted his knickers completely around; she certainly had been quite a number . . . .

O god! It's that time of year again!

"All my friends are married
every Tom and Dick and Harry
you must be strong
to go it alone . . ."

Spring has been well documented as a problematic period that induces all sorts of erotic misadventures, however that time which can only be called "pre-Fall" or Indian Summer in the cruder districts sneaks up on folks with all sorts of pornographic whisperings in the hot, hot breeze which creates an urgent sense that one had better hurry up and get something done for all shall fade enow. Soon the boney hand of Old Man Winter will grasp the world with fingers of frost.

Why so many Taurians and Rams and Geminis? Count back the days -- it's the dog days of summer, laddies. When Ma and Pa got urgent amid the swirling leaves, feeling a great change was a-coming.

Latterly Chad, infected with enthusiasm and his own happiness in having found his Soul Mate, had been going around trying to hook up every Tom, Dick and Harry with every Susan, Carol and Alice upon whom he had glommed, largely via the Internet and chatting up strangers in bars. He'd come bounding in with his glasses askew and his hair twisted in knots to slap some guy on the back, declaiming, "My man are you not married? By god you should be! I have just the person you outta meet . . . "

" Here's to the bachelors
and the bowery bums
and those who feel that they're the ones
who are better off without a wife"

As Jacqueline closed up the shop for the evening she found the usual weekly bouquet of flowers leaning up against the door. And the Note of course. She sighed and picked up the bouquet of what turned out to be an assortment of roses, pink ladies, pink mini carnations and white daisy pompons swimming in a galaxy of, naturally, forget-me-nots.

"O that man!" she said. But she smiled as she went to her car. Maeve, also noticed the bouquet, and she commented in that accent which had not left her now for some thirty years. "Well would you look at that, he's certainly persistent and still a proper gentleman for all that!"

"It's Luther again," Jacqueline said.

"Ah, and 'e's a little devil for sure!" Maeve said.

"O now!"

"Never been no Valentino
had a girl who lived in Reno
left me for a trumpet player
didn't get me down
he was wanted for assault
though he said it weren't his fault
well the coppers rode him right
out of town"

In their cottage off Santa Clara, Mr. Sanchez and his wife of about a year now, the former Ms. Morales, were settling in for the night. The little house, once such a spare bastion of bachelorhood, now had acquired the trappings of domesticity over the past year. A St. Brigid's cross over the passageway, lace whatnots on the tables. Bowls of things he thought entirely useless, put there for looks only and of course, requiring dusting. O and the pictures and the vases, don't forget those.

I like to sleep until the crack of noon
midnight howlin' at the moon
goin' out when I want to, comin' home when I please
I don't have to ask permission
if I want to go out fishing
and I never have to ask for the keys

He remembered the first time they had fought with each other. O what a time that had been! Storms and weeping and throwing things. Who would have known such a tiny woman had so much wrapped up inside her! The beginning of marriage is much like the beginning of any violent conflict possessing a chance to last a lifetime; there's a sort of negotiation over territory and the rules of battle.

And there she was, sitting as usual in front of the mirror with the outrageously garish frame which no doubt would kill somebody when it fell during the next earthquake. There she was, combing her hair the way she did in her gown, even though it was bedtime and it made more sense to comb it in the morning, now didn't it. Women were such creatures.

Mr. Sanchez stood behind her. For what and for whom was she combing her hair . . . . He bent down and without thinking breathed in deep, taking in the scent of her hair. She paused with the brush, and he inhaled deeply again without straightening up. Her soft, dark hair . . . . She put her hand on his which had somehow found its way to her shoulder. She leaned against his arm.

But now it's gettin' late
And the moon is climbin' high
I want to celebrate
See it shinin' in your eye.
And I'm still in love with you
On this Harvest Moon

Who would have known such a woman had so much wrapped up inside her!

In the Old Same Place, Denby sat up in the snug with his guitar and the place lively with chatter and the clatter of glasses. Grant sat with his wife at a table with his burly blacksmith's arms folded across his chest. Mark and Jaime sat there with him. When Chad came loping in Denby shooed him away from the Snug and Grant gave him a look that sent the old hippy straight to the brass rail and a Fat Tire ale. Suzie, knowing the way Chad was, served him quickly and escaped.

He looked around the bar and noticed two women sitting at a table, one a blonde with spiky hair and the other a brunette with streaks of vermilion. He ambled over taking off the cap to his camera lens along the way.

"Good evening ladies! I am taking pictures for the City to showcase our Island Nightlife here. Mind if I take your picture . . .?"

Pretty soon the old rogue was sitting with the two women and collecting information. He faced the blonde woman. "Y'know, there is someone I'd like you to meet . . .".

I like to sleep until the crack of noon
midnight howlin' at the moon
goin' out when I want to, comin' home when I please
I don't have to ask permission
if I want to go out fishing
and I never have to ask for the keys

selfish about my privacy
as long as I can be with me
we get along so well I can't believe
I love to chew the fat with folks
and listen to all your dirty jokes
I'm so thankful for these friends
I do receive

Wouldn't you know but that's when the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the moonlit wildflowers blooming among the harvest grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its romantic journey to parts unknown.

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



AUGUST 14, 2011


This week's headline photo says a lot about our flower-arbor streets where some trees and shrubs have grown in place for well over 100 years. Right now at the height of summer, every small street, and even the main drag along Lincoln, dazzles with brilliant effusions of color. This Bougainvillea is on Encinal not far from the Island-Life offices, and was captured by Island-Lifer Carol Taylor.

We thought we would have to hunt for ages to find a lyric well-known enough to use for this week's masthead. Kudos to you if you recognized the beautiful song written by Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers which appears on the 1977 album he did with his own band, Great Southern.

As a little-known factoid, Don Johnson co-wrote the song before he switched from rock music to television acting. This is confirmed in the liner notes to the AB boxed set.

Bougainvillea, sing your song
For my lover, for my love
I need
Sweet Bougainvillea
Let her wear your flowers in her hair
You will always be
Always be our love song
She was so afraid
To give her heart away
Now before she even knows
I hold her close to me
Sweet Bougainvillea
Let her know, she's free . . .


Lots of short bits this week, followed by some national stuff that relates to us in particular.


Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) met recently with newly hired City Manager John Russo to discuss their takeover of the Animal Shelter in November, which is now managed by the City via the Police Department. Although the FAAS group is talking with the Humane Society, it will operate as an independent entity. Public funding has already ceased for the Shelter, which is resulting in some disputes between FAAS and the City, which is pulling from the donations fund ($327,000) to keep the place running until the handover. FAAS wants tax dollars to fund the place, fearing that starting from a 0 balance in November will be counterproductive. The Alameda Sun reported that Russo seems "quite interested" in allowing the City to continue paying operating costs until November.


If you blinked you may have missed today's event in which Island Poet Laureate Mary Rudge announced the 9 Island Muses, which (or whom) we guess will supplant Euterpe and her sisters, at least locally. There was also a Jim Morrison look-alike contest, meant to honor our most controversial poet. Morrison attended high school here for 18 months while his father was stationed at the Navy Air Station. The event took place at the Southshore Mall, where folks are hosting music and poetry events on the weekends through the summer.


In an unintentionally amusing incident, Mayor Marie kicked of a committee meeting this week for the entity meant to somehow take advantage of Babylon's capture of the America's Cup race for 2013. The first meeting struggled to find a way to capitalize on the event, to ultimately come up with a shoulder-shrugging lack of final plans, other than a general idea that it would be really jolly if we could convince visitors to spend their days her on the Island among our rustic charms instead of slurping canned chowder from those tacky sourdough bowls at Fisherman's Wharf.

So hey, we don't have an Aliotos, a Greens, or a Union Square, but we do have the Pasta Pelican and Ross. Maybe its time some genius found those figureheads stored in a garage and put up a Doggie Diner. That'll show 'em!


No, he's not related to George Takei, the famous helmsman of the Enterprise, but he does helm the Crown Memorial Beach, including the Bird Sanctuary, Crab Cove marine reserve and the Visitor Center. He's Kevin Takei, an East Bay Park District ranger recently appointed to the job of operating the largest public beach on the Bay. Welcome to the Island, Kevin!


Got a new blogger in town, but this one with a difference. Alameda Community Radio (ACR) announced its intention to create our own radio station, going on air -- if all goes well -- September 7. You don't have to wait until then to sample some of what promises to be a very interesting effort; in fact you can provide input yourself how this will fly by tacking your sails to There is a form for format idea submissions and MUSICIANS! START YOUR ENGINES! an email for 30 second jingle submissions. We know we have more than a few ideas.


Despite the draconian attention (or perhaps because of it -- see story below "Mad as Hell . . .") accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists have ramped up recently, as reported by the Alameda Journal. According to the newspaper, 21 pedestrians were struck by moving vehicles, resulting in at least one death over the past six months beginning the year. In the same period 37 collisions between cyclists and automobiles took place, including the tragic death of 13 year old Brandon Sorensen.

These numbers must be factored into an astounding 344 traffic accidents during the six month period; 89 persons were injured in those events.

Police indicated they will step up traffic enforcement against pedestrian right-of-way violations in the next few weeks and will setup a DUI checkpoint between August 19 and September 5.


Much of the dark has to do with circumventing Brown Act "sunshine laws", both here and in other places. We note significant perturbation about MTC's recent deal to shift operations to Babylon -- we reported on that and the economic consequences to Oaktown a couple weeks ago, but it appears the deal is far, far dirtier than just yanking dollars from a city that badly needs them right now.

A columnist for the Contra Costa Times, Daniel Borenstein, responded with clear outrage this week in his piece titled "MTC deal needs much more vetting in public". As Borenstein wrote angrily, "In a shameful display of empire building, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission plans to use up to $180 million of bridge tolls for a deal involving legally questionable downtown San Francisco real estate speculation.

The commissioners raised most Bay Area tolls from $3 to $5 in just three years to complete the new Bay Bridge and retrofit work on other area spans. Now they want to use tolls to buy a building that would house MTC and three other regional agencies under one roof so they can better cooperate."

Oooo. Can you say nasty, slimy, filthy, smoke-filled backroom? We knew you could. We also know all of you out there really enjoy forking over half a sawbuck to cross the bridge every day. Especially right now.

ABAG, state senators, and of course Oaktown, have all cried foul over the proceedings, and the probity of using public funds for real estate speculation.

This is NOT a good time to engage in real estate speculation, and especially not a good time to employ public funds for the purpose.

As Berenstein noted, "Even if MTC, ABAG, Bay Area Air Quality Management District and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission move in together, the 497,000-square-foot building is grossly oversized. It has nearly triple the space that the four agencies combined currently occupy."

Oh yeah? And all that space will be used for an employee cafeteria? You gotta be kidding. MTC plans to buffer its funding by leasing out 2/3rds of the building. God, or maybe his Opposition, knows what will be done with the excess income.

The deal is not finalized fortunately, for these reasons and the factoid that the purchase price is 75% HIGHER than originally stated. Um, is there not something happening to property values right now?

Can you say "greasy palms"? We knew you could.


It all came down to an insightful and intelligent City Manager for the little town of Roseville. This past year the city there cut the number of moving citations issued by 84 percent.

Drivers received 1,317 traffic tickets in the first six months of 2011, compared with 8,236 during the same time last year, after city manager Ray Kerridge, a former engineer, said he wanted police to focus on long-term solutions and not feel pressured to write tickets. Nor did he want drivers to feel ambushed by speed traps.

Officers are now assigned dangerous areas and asked to be creative, consulting with community leaders and traffic engineers if need be.

The municipal Police Chief, Daniel Hahn, realized that issuing scads of tickets did not resolve traffic problems permanently or make people drive any more carefully. He realized that "trouble intersections" and other problem areas were not the fault of drivers, but often of the physical layout of the road. The solution varied from expanding medians to altering the function of stoplights.

"Well, the whole time you're doing that -- that you're not writing tickets -- you're solving the problem. You're permanently solving the problem," Hahn says.

The results so far? The number of traffic accidents in Roseville, population 115,000, is down 7 percent in the first six months of this year already.

Citations are needed, and "tickets are never going to go away," Hahn says. But citations often offer temporary relief only. "I don't think you can say, this is my solution to everything. You have to allow people to use their intelligence and be innovative."

The problem, say critics, is that tickets offer some attractive perks that can lead to overuse: namely, quick revenue for cash-strapped municipalities; and a simplistic way for police heads to supposedly measure an officer's work.

Indeed this pressure to pursue revenue over protecting public safety often irks the very officers asked to pursue this policy.

Ticket "quotas" are supposedly against the law as policy, however, the reality is that many departments ignore this and actively punish officers for not meeting quotas.

Most officers genuinely wish to apply personal judgment according to individual cases, some of which may not require a citation to defend public safety.

"Not all violations are created equal, and not all violators are created equal," says Jeffrey Silva, a former patrol officer who now serves as a detective lieutenant and a lawyer in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

"An experienced driver in good weather conditions, in a car with good tires with no one on the road, going 20 mph over the speed limit, is not the same as a 17-year-old with no experience, with bald tires in the rain, with school in session," he says. "And there are a million gradations between those two scenarios."

Even after a traffic stop is made, sometimes an officer's message is better received with a warning and an explanation, rather than a $200 fine.

"You may get more value out of that," says Silva. "The driver thinks, wow, he really cares about my safety, he didn't give me a ticket. Every citizen contact is an opportunity for the officer to advance or erode community relations."

As Chief Hahn emphasized: The ultimate goal is public safety.


well, the recent carnival in Washington over the mythical Debt Ceiling (only one other country in the world has such an encumbrance, and that happens to be Denmark), clobbered any idea of a turnaround happening this year or the next in the Housing market or in the economy in general.

By now, all of you have had it up the wazoo about interest rates tanking and what the S&P downgrade means. Essentially, it means that by drawing lines in the sand, by hemming and hawing, by refusing to discuss compromise, the debt issue has been made worse, far worse, because the interest rate paid on the debt now adds to it at a worse rate than before.

We don't care about stock brokers and Wall Street. What does this mean for us here?

The housing glut will persist past 2013, even though fewer homes were constructed here and just about everywhere than in any other period since 1939, which is a banner year about which many are talking for various reasons right now.

The official vacancy rate for rentals on the Island looks to be passing 9%, with a real number of about 11% and climbing. The official rate stood at about 8.59% a few months ago, however many properties were being held "in reserve" while owners conducted "maintenance" construction. They cannot continue to do this for many more months, as cash-strapped governments will start to chase after them for lost revenue. Remember, every rental is also a business that generates tax revenue.

Local property owners have been sheltered for a while by increasing income through various means, by the actions of various clever -- and sometime unscrupulous -- realtors, and by association activity fixing certain rates, as well as general valuation although we are seeing genuine declines in value, which bodes ill for City coffers, as sales taxes will take a hit as well as assessment-based taxes. We are better off than some municipalities, but things do not look very bright for the next two to three years out. Some owners have worked out deals for cell phone towers on their properties, while others have jacked rents to the absolute maximum, working with associations to ensure everybody does the same.

Unfortunately, jacking rents results in high density, as people experiencing the effect of economic downturn seek to ease the strain on already strained resources. There are no more yuppies and there will be no more for the foreseeable future. If they think favorite sons are going to return to the roost with buckets of cash, they are living a pipedream. Remember this was a low-rent Navy town. It's the kids of that time who will return, if at all, and they sure as hell do not have buckets of cash. There's plenty of folks looking to cash in somehow on disaster, and as always the vast majority will wind up disappointed as always every time. As for homeowners, we can see the effects in the "For Sale" signs appearing now multiple times per block.

There is a curious and deceptive positive in recent news, according to the reports from CNNmoney.

"At least one fear was not realized amid Monday's meltdown: the concern that mortgage rates would immediately shoot higher in response to Standard & Poor's downgrade of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entities that are the 800-pound gorillas of the mortgage market.

In fact, the initial response to Fannie and Freddie getting cut to AA+ from AAA was precisely the opposite. Mortgage rates were poised to continue declining."

Well yes. They will decline for there are fewer folks in line to purchase or take advantage of rates, no matter how good.

The general summary report is that homes are more "affordable" than ever before -- if you got the money. Problem is that most folks do not have the money, which leads to weird disconnects between housing report boosters for the industry and jobs reports which act at cross-purposes. So what makes a home "affordable"? Does it cost $500 per month to buy? That's affordable in our book. Affordable is based on what people can pay, not what you want to charge off of some vague "basis".

On the upside, we can say this is no longer a time of economic uncertainty. We know what is going to happen. The Great Recession never ended and the reality of that fact will impress itself upon all of you soon enough. Some sooner than later. The only realistic retail economic activity going on is propelled by people who already own a real cheetah-skin rug and a genuine fox fur stole and did not have to count pennies to buy it. They do their part as patriots; they buy stuff made in America. But there is only 1% of them relating to the number of us, and that is not enough.

You would have no concern about "Obamacare" or whatever if you were making ends meet. You could afford to give away a hundred or a thousand dollars a month. But you are not. Trickle-down just does not work. It never did.

You already know what is going to happen. There is no uncertainty. Neither Bachmann, nor that other colorless fellow from the GOP, nor Obama can do the slightest thing about it. Its been preparing for the last 35 years to collapse. Get used to living with less. Learn to love your children; might as well start now. Start growing pole beans in the backyard. Recycle used oil. Both motor and cooking. Be kind to strangers -- there is likely to be a lot of them out of luck going forward.

You can say this: at least Obama finally has installed a good-looking, well-behaved family in the White House, and that counts for something.

You can blame any number of people and groups from the GOP to the Democrats, from Obama to the Tea Party, but even if you are right, it doesn't matter. What is going to happen will happen and you might as well chill out and learn to live with the consequences of decades of unrestrained greedy looting of the national treasury and general bad behavior.

Just before leaving the Island, just before entering the Tube, there is an exit marked "Last Exit for Alameda." That stoplight leads to the left to a massive six-lane overpass and throughway proceeds for a solid mile out to the Point via Willie Stargell, the relic of stupendous greed and goldbrick SUNCAL dreams that most definitely will never come to pass, not within our lifetime. Willie Stargell was a great athlete, a baseball player who walked among titans in a previous age. He would look that that foolish overpass and shake his head, saying to himself, "My god, what were you thinking?"


So anyway, it's been getting gradually warmer and sunnier on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Lately it's started to look again like summer had taken a mind to act properly, however the Canadian geese have already started getting restive.

the Farmer's Almanac folks report ... colder that usual temps for most of the USA this winter

As if this was too cold a place to hang around for winter. Maybe we better pay attention, for with all of this global climate change, this winter could bring about anything. Prelim reports from the Farmer's Almanac folks report a mild response to El Nina, with colder that usual temps for most of the USA this winter. NorCal looks to have about an average prediction for this winter. Still early to say.

It's been such an unsettled and unruly cold summer until this weekend. Rachel, the dance teacher for the Metrodome, came out to sun beneath the sudden glow in the early part of the day while the laundry churned in the automat and she glowed under the warm rays, her normally active body, usually leaping about in twirls, suddenly still as an amphibian. The bean vines grew and the hydrangea expanded and everything green thrust upward under this beneficence. The garden had decided to enjoy a flash mob without benefit of Twitter or Facebook, a quiet riot without helicopters.

A couple Canadian geese flew overhead, honking loudly a memento mori. It's a little early for them to start getting restive.

In this unsettled time, folks congregate among those they know. Those with family they trust, cluster there. Others flock to their churches and associations. For those who have nothing like that, there remains the Old Same Place Bar on this weekend of the Full Moon, a time that is always fraught with mystery and unexplained appearances.

Its the weekend of the Full August Moon . . .

Its the weekend of the Full August Moon and strange occurrences abound.

The times were hard and getting harder and more stressful day by day. These days the talk among the tables often turned to angry muttering. Fights broke out in the street. People had their cars broken into. All stuff that used to happen when the Navy still occupied the Base out on the Point. So Padraic got some music into the Old Same Place Bar in the form of Denby who occasionally showed up with the rest of his band, The Monkey Spankers. Most of the time Denby sat there alone, however, as payment consisted of five dollars plus tips and one free beer per player.

Its a gig. Times were hard and any gig was better than nothing at all. Some weekends the Monkey Spankers went over to the Frog and the Fiddle on Webster, but Peter, the guy who used to own McGraths, knew something about music, and the place tended to attract capable musicians, so they didn't play there that often.

"Play something soothing," Dawn asked.

So Denby played the tune he wrote about Zack Raymond's drowning. It was mostly in A minor.

When he had finished that one, Eugene asked Denby to play something more upbeat, a happier song.

"Sorry homie," Denby said. "I don't know no happy songs."

"Sorry homie," Denby said. "I don't know no happy songs."

Margerie Schtupp put a five in Denby's jar and ordered a Fat Tire from Suzie at the rail. Margerie, a big horsey gal with hair tied back in a ponytail and an outrageous pink feather boa around her shoulders started up a conversation with the Man from Minot. Margerie was outgoing and could start up a conversation with an oak tree.

Turned out she did not live on the Island, although she used to over by Paganos near the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum. She liked to take her work breaks on the Island because the old fashioned charm pleased her and it was relaxing to hang out among the bougainvillea-shaded streets where kids still played stickball during the day and where nearly every block sported a neighborhood mobile basketball hoop.

O and what was it she did?

"Honey, I do, um, bodywork. Sorta. On San Pablo."

The Man from Minot changed the subject. Where was she from?

Born in Santa Rita and destined to go back.

"Born in Santa Rita. Back when it was a Navy hospital. My dad was a sailor officer." She laughed abruptly. "Guess that says it all. My dad a sailor who left town and never come back. Born in Santa Rita and destined to go back. Time after time."

The Man from Minot remained impassive.

"You don't mind talking to someone like me, now do you honey?"

The Man from Minot shrugged. "All kinds a people in the world. Don't matter to me what you do. People is people all over." He paused. "Just so you know I got no money."

You ever been to Minneapolis?

"Oh don't you bother about that. This is where I take my break. I like the old time feel of this place. You want to keep it that way. The other day I come along in daytime and a party of kids was out in front having a birthday party. Little girl about so high was blindfolded and whacking one of them piñatas. She looked to be Mexican. Real cute. All of them. I almost had a kid once . . . . You ever been to Minneapolis?"

He had to admit he had not.

"Me neither. My sister moved there. She says its nice there too. I still get letters from her, real letters. I got no computer you know. She must be the last person in the world who still writes longhand. Someday I gonna go there and visit. Not in winter though. Gotta be summertime. If I ever get any money saved up. Hard to do that these days, though. With the rent so high and . . . expenses. All the expenses. I got no insurance so I had to pay all out of pocket for my teeth when they got broke."

And so the evening passed in light conversation.

Towards closing Margerie asked the Man from Minot for a ride back to Oaktown. He demurred. Said the car needed . . . a new throbbleswitch.

"Uh huh. Okay." Margerie said. "Just wanted a ride is all. Really is all. Hey! Anybody heading over to Oaktown?"

Dawn looked at Padraic. "Use the truck," he said. "Take Suzie with you."

Suzie's left eyebrow rose at that but as they went out, Eugene held the door open for the ladies.

Don't nobody hold no doors open for you in Oaktown.

"Thank you kindly, sir. You are a gentleman." Margerie said. "See what I mean. Real old fashioned. Don't nobody hold no doors open for you in Oaktown."

Dawn drove the truck with Suzie in the middle and Margerie sitting on the outside.

"Much appreciate this, Dawn," Margerie said. "I woulda had to walk a long way through the tunnel to get back. Sometimes I take a taxi, but that costs you know and lately income has been pretty low. Kindness is a strange brooch in this all-hating world."

She had become a regular at the Old Same Place quite a while ago, so she was not exactly an unknown quantity. Dawn felt sorry for her.

There must have been nearly fifty women, and men dressed as women . . . calculating . . .

When they turned the corner in Oaktown onto the foot of San Pablo Suzie could see the full moon shining her light all the way down the arrow-straight road where figures stood in doorways, two-stepped in front of chainlink fenced lots, or leaned up against streetlights. There must have been nearly fifty women, and men dressed as women, all wearing short skirts, high heels or platforms, all staring with sharp eyes, calculating every car and truck that passed, making small motions with their arms to attract attention.

A woman with hair piled way up high, skinny as string and wearing a red faux leather skirt took two steps forward, looked up and down the Ave', looked at her watch, took two steps back, looked at her watch, stood a moment, then repeated the exact same motions as if she were a glockenspiel figurine.

A car slowed and stopped about two blocks down and they could see a cluster of figures gathering at the driver's side window.

Margerie got out of the truck, inhaled deep and bravely tossed one end of her feather boa over her shoulder.

"Thanks guys! You take care and stay out of trouble," she said. "Especially you," she said to Suzie. She then stepped out into the moonlit night and vanished before their eyes.

Dawn's mouth was set in a firm line as the two women returned to the Island.

"Times are real hard," Suzie said.

"And getting worse," Dawn said.

They both breathed sighs of relief as they turned off Constitution Way to head down Lincoln.

Dawn dropped Suzie off in front of her apartment and waited until the girl was safely inside. The pretty girl waved before entering and shutting the door.

Dawn then drove back to the place she rented with Padraic and paused to look down the quiet residential street with its old buckeye trees and wooden fences draped with bright orange trumpet flowers, all illuminated by the full moon. The dew had settled on the broad leaves, which wept in the stillness with quiet drops to the earth. Their neighbor, Greg, had his mobile basketball hoop pulled up in his driveway. Big wheels and other toys lay scattered on the lawn.

"I almost had a kid once . . . . You ever been to Minneapolis?"

"I almost had a kid once . . . . You ever been to Minneapolis?" The voice of regret and lifetime disappointment echoed inside Dawn's head.

Right then, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the innocent wildflowers blooming among the unwanted weeds of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the sad, shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its old journey to parts unknown.

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

AUGUST 7, 2011


This week's summer headline pic comes from Jose's garden where a rare lace hydrangea is standing some eight feet high out back.

Had a lot of choices for the headline title, including Stevie Nicks (Leather and Lace) and the famously misheard lyrics in Pearl Jam's "Black"; hint: the word is neither "legs" nor "lace". But it doesn't effing matter, 'cause the song stands on its own regardless based on what follows.

Any hoot, the Big Bopper represents for Summer.

Chantilly Lace and a pretty face
And a ponytail hangin' down,
A wiggle in her walk and a giggle in her talk,
They're gonna make the world go 'round . . .

(by Carol Taylor)

Because of the wretched Great Recession, we have essentially shut down our Event Reviews Desk, however that does not mean life has stopped on stage for people of means. We are fortunate to print here a review of the touring version of a Broadway Musical now playing over in Babylon at the Orpheum. Contributor is Carol Taylor.

"Billy Elliot – The Musical originated in Australia, traveled to England, moved on to Broadway and recently landed
in San Francisco’s Orpheum Theater – with its North Eastern British dialect intact. In other words: I did not
understand one word of the first fifteen minutes of conversation or lyrics. Sir Elton John may have given us his best work since “Rocket Man” but I could not tell you one way or the other.

In time I did not care so much what the actors were saying in speech and song because I was so taken by the
performances of the ballet chorus and of course Billy Elliot (covered by five young actors). The dance school Billy
stumbles into is run by Mrs. Wilkinson (Faith Prince) and attended by a gaggle of girls ranging from a very “tiny dancer” up to awkward young teenagers. For almost three hours they dance, mime and at times interact with the male chorus of coal miners with a professionalism that would impress the most jaded of the theater crowd.

There are memorable musical numbers in the first act including Grandma and Mr. Braithwaite the piano player
among others. But the first stand up and shout moment comes when we are introduced to Billy’s young friend
Michael who has discovered the exciting world of women’s clothing. It is big and loud and infectious. The audience
voiced its appreciation loud and clear.

Billy -- how exciting to see such a skinny young kid lift this long, often serious play up until the audience felt as though it too were floating above the stage. For Shakespeare the play may well be the thing but sitting in this
audience the dedication of the young actors to perform their very best created a wonderful moment in the theater.

The play uses a heavy hand when dealing with the life changing facts of the 1984-85 union of mineworkers strike.
Jobs, energy, governmental indifference and the devastation affected on people’s lives – The Musical.
As the audience stood to leave the entire cast came on stage for a big dancing, singing Broadway send off - all
wearing tutus. I left with a smile on my face and a soft place in my heart for Billy Elliot – The Musical."

Thanks Carol!

And as usual, we provide full credits for all actors, including ensemble, as well as creative team. This review will be available at the end of the year in PDF format for these aspiring youngsters to use for their clipbooks.

Support life on the stage -- it's the only life there is.

Billy Elliot -Kylend Hetherington, Lex Ishimoto, Daniel Russell, J.P. Viernes, Ethan Fuller

Mrs. Wilkinson - Faith Prince
Dad - Rich Hebert
Grandma - Patti Perkins
Tony - Jeff Kready
Michael 1 - Jacob Zelonky
Michael 2 - Griffin Birney
Billy's Older Self - Maximilien Baud
George - Joel Blum
Mum - Beverly Ward
Mr. Braithwaite - Patrick Wetzel
Debbie - Rachel Mracna

ENSEMBLE - Billy Elliot Ensemble

CRAIG BENNETT (Big Davey/Ensemble)
MICHAEL BIREN (Swing/Fight Captain)
SAMANTHA BLAIRE CUTLER (Ballet Girl/Swing/Debbie U/S)
JASON DEPINTO (Swing/Dance Captain). .
JENNIFER EVANS (Leslie/Ensemble)
J. AUSTIN EYER (Ensemble/Tony U/S)
ANDREW FITCH (Mr. Wilkinson/Ensemble)
KURT FROMAN (Resident Choreographer/Older Billy U/S)
MARY GIATTINO (Resident Choreographer/Swing)
CASSIDY HAGEL (Ballet Girl/Allison Summers)
REGAN MASON HALEY (Tracey Atkinson)
DAVID HIBBARD (Ensemble/George U/S)
AARON KABURICK (Ensemble/Mr. Braithwaite U/S)
FREDDIE KIMMEL (Pit Supervisor/Ensemble)
KATIE MICHA (Ballet Girl/Tina Harmer)
DOROTHY STANLEY (Ensemble/Grandma U/S)
GENAI VEAL (Ballet Girl/Julie Hope)
OLIVIA WANG (Ballet Girl/Angela Robson)
BRANCH WOODMAN (Scab/Posh Dad/Ensemble)
KATRINA YAUKEY: (Clipboard Woman/Ensemble)


Elton John - Music
Lee Hall - Book and Lyrics
Stephen Daldry - Director
Peter Darling - Choreographer
Julian Webber - Associate Director
Ian MacNeil - Set Designer
Nicky Gillibrand - Costume Designer
Rick Fisher - Lighting Designer
Paul Arditti - Sound Designer
Martin Koch - Musical Supervision and Orchestration
David Chase - Music Director
Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner - Producers
Jon Finn - Producer
Sally Greene - Producer
David Furnish - Executive Producer
Angela Morrison - Executive Producer
Nina Lannan Associates - General Management


With City Hall open only four days a week (Great Recession again), and many folks out of town turning visits to Grandma into vacations on the cheap, the general news is, well, pretty small town.


Some folks are still sniping back and forth about the July 4th Hot Pink Feathers. Well, sex is always fun and interesting, even outrage about any suggestiveness. Seems a few folks are really getting their jones by going into detail about "wriggling butts", which makes one wonder if this prurient focus by bluehairs on some rather harmless fun is really some kind erotic titillation in itself. If you think about it the Taliban -- and the America version of it -- are really just a slice off the old B&D kinkster scene. O, there's a naughty girl! Lets beat her with a stick! Naughty, naughty, naughty!


A 60-year-old woman and her son were robbed in the parking lot of Alameda Hospital at gunpoint on Saturday evening during the Art and Wine festival taking place on Park Street.

The woman and her son, 31, who live in El Cerrito, were not hurt during the robbery, which occurred about 6:10 p.m. in the lot of the hospital at 2070 Clinton Ave.

The woman and her son were walking to their vehicle after dropping off her husband at the nearby South Shore Convalescent Hospital on Willow Street when the robbers approached them. The two males fled in what the victims described as a black vehicle that had been parked on the south side of the hospital lot.

However, since no traffic ordinances were violated, the perps got clean away with the woman's purse and jewelry

Anyone with information is asked to call Alameda police at 510-337-8340


The City has given the nod to a 182 housing unit project at the Boatworks -- an industrial parcel at Oak Street and Clement Avenue. The owner and developer, Francis Collins, had tried unsuccessfully for years to get his project approved, however concerns about density issues and public access in the previous plans always resulted in thumbs-down from the Council. The Recession's economic bite has made a revitalization effort more attractive.

Along with housing on the 9.5 acre property, the current plan calls for a two-acre waterfront park that city officials hope will eventually connect with other open space along the estuary. The housing would be across from the Little House Cafe, the popular coffee and lunch spot.

The council's unanimous decision on July 19 to approve a tentative map and density bonus clears the way for city officials to begin reviewing designs and other aspects of the project. The decision follows the Planning Board also unanimously approving the map and density bonus.

The new plan provides Mr. Collins with $4.4 million through tax increment funds, reduced permit fees and other savings. The deal calls for Collins to pay for environmental cleanup and to accept far fewer than the 281 housing units he initially wanted to build and to pay for park maintenance there.

The parcel currently contains vacant warehouses and a couple small industrial businesses dedicated to ship repair.


Well, maybe Billy Elliot needs to come to City Hall, for there will be no raising there unless it's via the marble staircase, as the elevator is out for the time being. No estimate on when it will get repaired.


You may have been approached by someone seeking your signature for a ballot initiative recently or in the past. Islanders need to be alerted that yet more chicanery is going on via the signature collection process. Lately signature gatherers have been trying to "double up" their income by collecting signatures for more than one issue -- but without informing the signer that they have just authorized additional initiatives which the canvasser has not disclosed.

The referendum process in the Golden State has some problems -- most notably by the allowed means of collecting John Hancocks, which by its present structure virtually assures fraud. Anyone remember the SunCal initiative mess?

A law is in the works to revise the allowed payment schedules for signature gatherers. At present, a worker is paid per signature, not for hours worked. This results in thousands of signatures being deemed invalid every election by the Registry of Voters in every district. The new law would change that to discourage deception and fraudulent padding of the lists.


The local Boy Scout troop provided new hand-built wooden benches as well as a bicycle rack for the Food Bank trailer on Tilden Way. Thanks guys!


It's been icky humid around here, with moderately cool temps that felt warmer than they really were without the pleasure of sunshine on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. This past week the high fog kept a damper on things, with only brief sunshine popping in for a couple hours shortly before sunset started.

This kind of weather, coupled with the heavy precipitation of the past winter has resulted in a visitation in great numbers of that steadfast -- an ineradicable -- companion to man known as Rattus Rattus. Oaktown reports a plague of these guys scampering all over the eaves of people's houses, while on the Island armies of the critters are now venturing from the marinas into places once dominated by the raccoons.

People complained about the raccoons, so the County got rid of them. The recession cut back the Shelter funding, so all the stray cats have been eliminated with no more catch, fix, and release. Because of the high rents, many properties once occupied, now stand empty of housepets and humans. Now we got rats by the bucketload.

The normally pacific Jose was seen chasing one with an upraised shovel the other day. The adaptable pest had been chomping on Jose's garden produce, right on the vine.

"You're not going to get that feller with that shovel," Pahrump said from the back steps.

"Tu pinche rata!" Jose screamed, ignoring him. "¡Venga aquí de modo que yo pueda matarle!" He started beating his shovel all around the ironmongery that served during the summer as a bean plant trellis. This had little effect other than sending a couple of bees to bumble off around the jasmine. The rat had long since disappeared.

"Can't have these things around here, man." Andre said. "If Mr. Howitzer finds out, we could run into some real problems."

Indeed. Because of the usurious rental situation in the East Bay the Household had banded together with something like fifteen people living, more or less, in a one bedroom cottage. It had gotten so bad on the Island, only people coming from even worse places, like San Francisco, could afford to live there anymore.

It was the common conceit that if Mr. Howitzer ever learned how many people were living there at his property on Otis, he would either evict the lot of them -- or raise the rent even higher.

"Well I guess we oughta do something," Pahrump said. "Marlene, fix me a PB&J." While Marlene went into the house, he took a bleach bottle which they had used a long time for water and cut the bottom off. Then he found a carburetor sitting in the weeds there and removed the butterfly valve which he fixed inside a cardboard toiletpaper tube, which he wrapped liberally with plastic wrapping tape. This he fastened at the mouth of the spout half of the bottle with duct tape. Next he fixed this funnel-like object on the top of a kitty-litter bucket with the tube pointing down inside the bucket, making sure to seal all around the edges with duct tape.

When Marlene came out with the sandwich, he ate most of it, shoving the rest past the butterfly valve stuck in the bottle spout into the bucket. He walked this appliance over to the bean trellis and set it down there. He then licked his fingers.

"Leave off that shovel. Lets go get some wine." Pahrump said to Jose.

Mr. Howitzer's initial response to the rat problem at his manse on Grand Street was to order Dodd to put out rat poison. Dodd shook his head dubiously, for he feared for the safety of the wild and domesticated animals in the neighborhood. The Englishman had been paying a great deal of attention to the bird feeders by the back pond, for he loved to watch the hummingbirds come hovering. He had been secretly pleased that Hermano, the pig, had not be slaughtered for the luau event that fateful day of the raccoon invasion, but had been sent back to the farm hale and hearty as, well, as a healthy pig should be.

But he was a manservant to the indomitable Mr. Howitzer, so he got several packages of poison from Pagano's Hardware and set them out as instructed.

"Over there by the pond," Mr. Howitzer ordered. "Perhaps we'll nail a few of those god damned raccoons as well."

Dodd sighed. He knew that this poison caused the rats to hemorrhage inside until gradually and by degrees very dead. Not a good way to go.

Dodd mentioned the idea of getting a cat, the odor of which would keep the pests away, but Mr. Howitzer, who considered felines to be somehow symbols of Liberalism, reacted with outrage at the idea.

"D'ya hear that, Eisenhower?!" Mr. Howitzer shouted. "A sturdy man wants a sturdy dog, not a blasted kitten!"

Eisenhower, a Weimariner, woofed agreement.

"We'll have no more of that nonsense, Dodd. Set up now for the garden party this evening."

Dodd obediently set up the tables, the outdoor heaters, and the tray table. As he was setting out the salad bowl with the balsamic dressing, he realized that the sterno heaters wanted replenishment.

"O drat! It's four and Sunday! Pagano's will close soon!" And so leaving a few things uncovered he dashed off in his Citroen to Southshore Mall.

At least the rats won't get at it all now, he thought to himself.

When he got back, Mr. Howitzer was in a terrible state, a mixture of grief and fury. Eisenhower was rolling around in agony on the grass, frothing at the mouth and looking all done in for good.

The poor man went over to hold the animal's head in his lap while the dog whimpered.

"What on earth!" Dodd exclaimed.

"He was running around like a banshee just now. He must have gotten himself into the rat poison. Get rid of it! Get rid of all of it!"

When Dodd went to the back to fetch the dog dish for water, he found the dish bone dry. He also found the salad bowl and the balsamic dressing all upset on the terrace. The entire bottle had overturned to pour out onto the flags. Lettuce, egg, peppers -- and bacon bits -- lay strewn all over. The rat poison looked untouched.

He knew balsamic vinaigrette was not very good for dogs, but it was hella better than the rat poison, which he gathered up with gloves and with disgust cast all of it into the can for safe disposal. He then went back to the front where his master still cradled the head of the dog.

"It's blasted Sunday and because of the Recession Dr. Dallas and the clinic are closed until Monday!" Mr. Howitzer exclaimed.

"Well," Dodd offered. "There was none . . . very little of the poison gone. Perhaps he's only got a mild dose of . . . whatever. Here is some water for the fellow." Dodd set down the water dish and Eisenhower slurped it all up in seconds. A strong vinegar odor came off of him. Perhaps Dodd should really tell the man the dog had only swallowed a bit of strong salad dressing, but the bastard looked positively human for once, so Dodd told himself to just let be.

"That must be the odor of death," Mr. Howitzer said.

"His body is fending it off." Dodd said. "It's chemistry."


At Marlene and Andre's Household, Martini heard about the trap Pahrump had set out by the ironmongery. He wanted to know how and if it worked. If so, he thought he could make a better one out at the factory where he was a sawboy. When they went out to check it, the bucket produced a commotion from the live creatures within. Pahrump carried the bucket with its thrashing contents down to the Strand with another bucket and Adam, who wanted to see what happened up close. They all watched from a distance. Adam, the boy, stood there while Pahrump used the other bucket to pour seawater into the other one through the funnel. Then Pahrump sat there a while cross-legged while smoking a jay and talking to Adam. After a while, the two of them returned with the buckets, both of them empty.

That night after the meal of bread soup, Marlene asked Adam what had happened down at the beach.

Adam was thoughtful. "He called them 'little brothers'," Adam said. "He said something in some Indian language when he poured in the water." Adam paused, thinking, remembering. "He said everything on earth has a right to live and taking life was always bad . . . but sometimes you had to protect your people from something worse. And we should make a little memorial for those we kill and it should last forever or as long as memory."

Marlene enfolded the boy in her arms.

But the Household still had a problem. "The rats will be back," Pahrump said. "There is no end to their kind."

Martini came back from the factory with a trap made of steel which could be baited through a top door with a hinge and then dropped entire into the ocean to kill its contents and be reused, unlike the one with the cardboard tube.

Still, there was the problem of the Memorial to the Fallen. Adam tried building a little place down there in the sand with driftwood and seashells, but kids came along and kicked it all apart one day.

"It doesn't have to be right there," said Pahrump. Just a place you can visit. In the woods or wherever."

So one day they went out along the riprap wall and found there a place where the jumble of stones had made a hollow. There Adam put some rocks and some iron from the ironmongery. With the seawind ruffling their hair, Pahrump showed him something out of his own past.

"Little brother I know you come from troubles just like a lot of kids who come out from the Rez. Pyramid Lake. This is something I have to carry all my days. I cannot throw it away like some done."

In Pahrump's palm lay a Medal of Honor.

In Adam's time at the house, Pahrump had been an affable sort of bumbling man with a quick wit and a seemingly ineffectual manner about the ways of the world. Someone who had just never got on, never succeeded for lack of brains or effort. Just another dumb ol' Indian with a fondness for drink and pot. Here was proof there was something more to him.

"In a few days I drive up to my own place I made in the Sierra where I remember the warriors I knew in Vietnam." Pahrump said. "Them on both sides. Some called worth nothing more than those rats there. None of them deserving what happened to them. You must treasure life for its all you got. They can take it all away any time, like they did my friend from from Pineridge. You already know that."

"Can I go with you?" Adam said.

"No. It's way above treeline and snowline. You need to be working on other things right now. This is something I gotta do."

It was true. The next day, Pahrump got on his scooter and drove off and was gone for a while. But not before he and Adam and Marlene and Suan went down to the troubled Animal Shelter that was about to close because of the Recession troubles. There they picked out a calico foundling they named Albert Camus, before checking too closely. Who turned out to be an unspayed female, which they all discovered pretty much the hard way, the way people often do. Albert soon gave birth to a full litter inside the abandoned stereo console. She/He had been preggers even before adoption.

Pretty soon, the cats resolved the entire rat thing on their own and there was no more need for Martini's steel trap, which joined the pile of ironmongery out back.

Pahrump returned from his little trip, looking pretty much as he always did, taciturn and . . . what's the word they always use . . . inscrutable.

In the Offices of Island-Life the Editor settled his stogie in the corner of his mouth while looking out the back window, his white hair flying about his head in an aureole beneath the dim light . With all of the recent moisture the Old Man standing out back looked healthier than he had for years, for a scraggly, beat-up, knocked-about, much abused, coastal Sequoia standing in the back yard of a small town. They had lopped his top, so he would never grow above his present 100 feet, and this would result in high bifurcation that would eventually cause the end of him when the whole thing got top heavy, but for now all the limbs looked hale and full of green growth. He was looking better now than in years.

Getting old is a matter of survival, the Editor thought to himself. Nobody does it just for pleasure, that's for sure.

It was getting time to put the Issue to bed for the week, but the Editor delayed. He always wanted to leave these final moments for something pithy, something that summed it all up.

Usually, he failed, but the pleasure was in the trying. Otherwise why do any sort of art at all?

He idly picked up a piece about the gypsy caravan which had been cleared out from along the estuary on the Oaktown side and decided not to print it, for he thought it terrible bad luck to remove the Roma, whom he regarded with some affection. What is a town without gypsies but a place devoid of romance, without imagination. He did imagine this would bode bad luck for Oaktown, a place which definitely did not need bad luck right about now.

A honking outside indicated the passage of those Canadian geese who, among the many millions of their fellows, declined to visit Rio or return to Alberta, preferring instead to summer here on the Island, where it was warm enough and too far to travel and why bother haul all that way back and forth when one could gabble on the nice greens of the Mif Albright golf course and poop nice little piles to fertilize that manicured lawn. Around here, these Canadian geese were many-storied birds and we could go on hours about them.

The groundskeepers had hired collie shepherds to run out there and chase them off, for a pooped green caused them much grief, however the birds soon learned to act just like dogs and run about with them making bark-like sounds and generally acting happy just like happy dogs part of the pack. So our Canadian Geese started acting doglike, running in packs and playing with the puppies, and maybe many thousands of years from now, paleontologists will wonder at the artifacts. Buried bones and so forth. Refusing to be considered "pests", these geese had started to evolve into canines. What a thought!

What is the difference between a pest and a goose, answer me that.

While looking down in the garden the Editor noticed small gray forms running along the base of the Old Fence. One of them reached up to snag a low-hanging bean before scampering beneath the hydrangea's shelter. Naked tails slithering.

We've got rats, the Editor thought. They have replaced the raccoons. Perhaps I should tell the landlord.

He mused for a moment. Has not the landlord done enough damage already by getting rid of the raccoons? What further troubles will ensue. The Editor elected for silence. They got rid of the Roma. Then they got rid of the raccoons Now we have rats. What next?

You can put out Nature with a pitchfork, but it always comes roaring back. With hot pink feathers.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the hot pink erotic wildflowers blooming among the feathery weeds of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its old journey to parts unknown.

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


JULY 31, 2011


This week's headline photo comes from Javier's garden. Here we have the humble onion flower of summer, wreathed by tendrils of pea plant and pole beans.


Island-Life mourns the apparent passing of Brian Wong, who worked for the County HR department and who remains missing along with six others a month after the sinking of their excursion boat off the coast of Mexico.

The 115-foot catamaran, the Erik, capsized around 2:30 a.m. July 3 with a total of 44 passengers and crew aboard after it was hit by two giant waves, according to Capt. Benjamin Pineda Gomez of the Mexican Navy. One U.S. tourist died in the accident.The identity of the dead man has yet to be released. Other passengers and crew were rescued by Navy ships and nearby vessels.

Brian made the trip with his three brothers, Glen, Craig and Gary, all from the Bay Area. Gary Wong was celebrating his first day of retirement on the trip with his brothers. He said his brothers, including Craig and Glen, took the trip twice before.

The search was expanded to a wider area and continued with helicopters and aircraft, however after a month it would be highly unlikely that anyone could have survived in the water. Divers also prepared to search the wreckage, which is in water more than 200 feet (65 meters) deep, but officials have not confirmed when.

Survivors reported staying afloat with the aid of empty food coolers.

In addition to his brothers, Brian is survived by a wife, who also works for the County of Alameda. The County has issued no official statement about Brian Wong.


Keb' Mo' might be regretting his purchase, made during the height of the housing bubble, but he hasn't checked in yet with a song about it.

Assessed values of residential and commercial properties in Alameda County continue to fall, according to newly released figures from the county assessor's office.

Although many of the 492,000 taxable residential and commercial properties evaluated by the assessor's office saw their values rise or at least stay the same, 22 percent had reduced assessments, bringing the county's total taxable dollar value to $192.0 billion from $192.1 billion.

The assessed value of a property determines how much property tax the county will receive to fund safety net services for residents. The dip marks only the third year in at least five decades that the county assessment roll has fallen. The average annual growth in past years was 8 percent.

Not even the growth in Berkeley, Piedmont and Dublin -- the highest in the county -- contributed sufficiently to raise the overall averages.

Surprisingly, the city of Oakland saw a 1.67 percent rise, doing better than the City of Alameda, while Emeryville was particularly hard hit by one-time write-downs for things like the Watergate Towers office complex.

Emeryville came in 6.62 percent below last year, a decrease of about $277.6 million. The drop seemed like a reversal of fortunes for the city studded with big-box stores such as Home Depot, Ikea and Barnes & Noble. Emeryville had escaped declines in previous years while some of its neighbors scrambled to compensate.

The sale of the NUMMI plant to Tesla Motors came with a hefty 40% decline in value for that parcel.

For you bean counters, here are a selection of the numbers.

City 2010-11 Dec-11 % chg
Alameda: $9,325,893,920 $9,452,764,771 1.36%
Berkeley: $13,503,553,510 $13,898,473,845 2.92%
Dublin: $8,305,389,045 $8,482,846,995 2.14%
Emeryville: $4,190,790,315 $3,913,230,353 -6.62%
Fremont: $34,644,104,304 $34,122,490,940 -1.51%
Hayward: $15,052,324,745 $15,144,404,001 0.61%
Livermore: $13,242,040,030 $13,299,228,698 0.43%
Newark: $5,537,466,631 $5,572,210,275 0.63%
Oakland: $41,234,044,680 $41,920,715,595 1.67%
Piedmont: $3,027,278,586 $3,094,488,819 2.22%
Pleasanton: $17,326,290,380 $17,121,532,736 -1.18%
San Leandro: $9,654,888,215 $9,641,979,107 -0.13%
*Unincorporated: $14,127,904,708 $14,239,266,288 0.79%
*Ashland, Castro Valley, Cherryland, Fairview, Hillcrest Knolls, San Lorenzo
Source: Alameda County Office of Assessor



Local adult 31-Day pass and the senior / disabled RTC Monthly Pass remain the same price

On Monday, August 1, fare changes go into effect for AC Transit bus passengers. Most, but not all, prices will increase in the new fare structure approved by the AC Transit Board of Directors in May.

"This fare increase will provide predictable and needed revenues for AC Transit. Fare increases are never good news, but the reality is that we need the additional resources to help AC Transit weather these tough economic times," said Mary King, Interim General Manager. "This fare increase rounds out the package of changes needed to balance the budget. This important transit agency is now in a position to be sustainable over the next decade."

The basic adult fare goes up by 10 cents to $2.10, and the fare for youth, seniors, and persons with disabilities increases by 5 cents to $1.05. Fares for trips from the East Bay to San Francisco and the Peninsula increase to $4.20 for adults and $2.10 for youth, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

The local adult 31-Day pass and senior/disabled monthly pass will hold at their current rates, $80 and $20, respectively. The transbay 31-Day pass goes up from $132.50 to $151.20. Youth will see a $5 increase in their 31-Day pass, raising it to $20 and making it the first change in nine years. More details and background on the fare changes are available at


Park Street hosted the 27th annual Art and Wine Faire this weekend and we sent our man to check out the Faire this time. In addition to the two stages set at opposing ends of the four-block long, one block-wide section which had been closed off some of the establishments along Park brought in their own musicians. We briefly checked out the Churchward bar which had a quartet of youngsters performing "Newgrass".

At the Buena Vista stage we checked out a surprisingly tight blues band, Tia Carroll and Hard Work. Carroll was awarded "Female R&B Vocalist of the Year" from the West Coast Blues Hall Of Fame in March of this year.

Tia Carroll was born and raised in Richmond, California. She has opened shows for Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Patti LaBelle and Tower of Power. In addition Tia's voice can be heard in the background of a few Bay Area recording artists, including Sugar Pie DeSanto, E.C. Scott and Jimmy McCracklin. She occasionally tours with blues icon Jimmy McCracklin.

It was a real pleasure to watch this gang perform. Ms. Carroll possesses a powerful set of pipes as well as a healthy sense of blues humor. She conveyed a real sense of enjoying herself immensely while up on stage. Watching the crowd reaction, this crackling band had an effect on a wide range of ages, from this young kid here blowing blues bubbles...

To this gentleman doing a little old soft shoe to Stormy Monday.

And of course, no hot band is complete without at least one inspired "air guitarist".

They did a pretty hot, crowd-pleasing version of the Allman Brothers' "There's a Man Down There", inspiring yet more dancing in the streets.

The guitarist did both rhythm and lead on his beautiful f-hole archtop, continuing to rip off impressive riffs after busting a string near the end of the set.

You just try to put in several hours of making sure people have a good time while wearing shoes like these. You just try!

The Faire is not just for wine and art connoisseurs, but is a notably kid-friendly event. And out in droves the kids came, from rugrats and carpet-crawlers to toddlers, tots and little imps.

This gal smiled after a bit of charm. Some girls get weary sometimes.

Kids and dogs. Sometimes both can be little monsters . . .

O but dad can make things bounce up again . . .

Besides fun and games, there is the wine, from Rosenblum cellars, and food from the kiosks, mojitos from the new Cuban restaurant, and sidewalk oysters from Canada.

The Faire also features a few socially active groups, such as the Citizen's Task Force, which is looking to shine a little light into the backroom dealings going on around here. Could it be that our small town has some issues regarding concealed deals, greasy palms and shadowy relationships? Possible corruption here?! Nahhhhhhhh! But then again couldn't hurt looking. . .

Saturday got sunny after the noontime, and there was lots of sipping and eating and dancing and at the end of the day, a fine time was had by all.


Went out to Berzerkely to snag part of the kite festival on a windy and overcast Sunday. The event proved to be so popular that there was no way to drive in there, so long lines stood at the North Berkeley BART and at the parking lot in front of Spengers for the free shuttle.

We decided to watch things from across the spit of water until the Island-Life Event Coordinator got too chilled.

Sounded like there was a live band of some kind and vendor tents, but we headed over to Brennans, which is still in the same location serving up hofbrau from hot trays off 4th street, although new buildings conceal the place from view. Look for the grocery distributor; it's across the street on the Bay side down the narrow alley. They still make their signature "Irish" coffees with Arthur Power and the groaning sandwich board is laden with meat and meat and more meat. Don't try to find a vegetable unless its lettuce garnish.


Took a pause midweek as a reward for helping folks move off the Island to more reasonably priced digs in Oaktown, something which has been happening frequently lately as people flee the artificially heated rental market here. In fact, it seems the only folks moving in are coming from places where the rents are even more obscene, like Babylon across the water.

In any case, to stick to less fractious subjects, we checked out the newly opened Frog and Fiddle, which is Peter of McGrath's fame new project after music got the kibosh over at the grungy pub on Lincoln. The property owner raised the rent on the popular spot which saw internationally known musicians performing in a miniscule venue that felt crowded with more than 25 souls, all for a door charge of something like $5. When an upstairs tenant paying rent on an apartment complained about noise coming from the bar below (did this person not have eyes to see and hears to hear when they moved in?) McGraths as we knew it had to close up shop.

Fortunately for the Island, Peter is not an Englishman easily dissuaded from pursuing his dreams of hosting a warm place for bluegrass musicians. His newest is the Frog and Fiddle and we were pleased to see that this place has a kitchen -- which the cantankerous Silly Hall had refused him at McGrath's -- as well as a full bar and, most importantly, live music. Food is bar food. Beer is beer. Guinness is good for you. Live Music is the stuff of Life. That's all you need to know. Thank Peter for persistence against adversity -- he's the chap in the ball cap.


While numbskulls debate the idiots and the willfully cruel over fine points of ideology in that Imperial City of marble and sumps, of museums and putrescence on the Far Coast in some manner that sure will affect all of us, and most assuredly in some obnoxious manner, we sit here expecting some further catastrophe, either in the form of a particularly damaging earthquake or some other cultural misery.

The air is heavy with portent and nobody expects Santa Claus to come smiling with gifts for everybody. We all know that most certainly is NOT going to happen, nor anything like it. Even the Chinese are reporting the discovery of strange green gloop appearing in their water. Nobody knows what it is. We didn't put it there, the CIA is confused and still trying to figure out Pakistan, neither Mao nor Marx ever discussed environmental issues, and they didn't pay for it so its all a puzzle of troubles. They've got gloop in the water and we have a bolus in our financial pipeline. Go figure.

The bolus is this: its commonly known and extensively reported that the vast majority of wealth in the country is held by only a few people. Nobody else has any money and the economy thrives on people spending. But there are millions out of work, those that do work are getting less in real dollars, and companies are shrinking their output. So that leaves either the few people with money or the government to spend money to get things rolling again. There is a nasty element that does not want the government to spend money at all; you may have heard about them. These people do not want the government to do anything, in fact. Other than conduct wars, we guess. And pontificate about responsibility.

That leaves the people with pots of money who are sitting on this bolus of cash that is going nowhere. It just sits. They have it, they keep it, they bathe in pools of it for all we know, but we do know they do not spend it. Not a thin dime. This bolus is choking the economic life of the country while they sit there on their yachts sipping mojitos and getting stoned on free hash from the medical dispensaries and taking trips to Italy to view the frescos. Lucky effing frescos. This bolus is several trillion dollars mind you. And it just sits and does nothing. Collects interest at the rate of -- what is it now? -- .5%. Well .5% of several trillion dollars is still quite a lot and more than enough to live on. I could live on that. So could you. So could many more people. And all the fuss about medicare and social security could go away with just the interest on that money on which a handful of folks are sitting.

But, just on principle mind you, a political section of our country refuses to even consider restoring -- not raising, but restoring mind you -- taxes on these folks squatting on pots of money. Much like the proverbial Whore of Babylon. But you don't read the Bible, now do you, Mr. Jones.

Can you say "Un-American"? I knew you could.

Summertime is a great time for postponements. It used to be the time for vacations. That is a concept foreign to a lot of the younger folks around here. People used to go on things called vacations. That meant that time provided for the purpose got taken from work so that the entire family could pack into the family car with all sorts of unnecessary junk like razors and depilatories and facial cremes and toilet kits and inflatable crap to spend several intolerable and stress-filled days in some beach-front cabana or forest cabin under rather rudely compressed circumstances and so return home sunburned and otherwise damaged so as to contribute somehow to American industry the better for all the travail.


It's been cool and overcast well to midday on the Island, our hometown set here in California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The humidity has been unpleasant, leading to restiveness until the high fog burns off and the late afternoon sun raises the temps, but too late to cut the oppressive heaviness. It's like the coast is not going to enjoy a real summer, not unless people can get away inland where the usual nineties are being reported from Bishop and such. The peas are all sad things, and the pole beans are scraggly along the remaining parts of the Old Fence.

In the heavy air the Old Man stands out back like a minaret and you are transported back to Istanbul in that pension along the Bosphorus in your half-sleep dream-like state. Fragments of half-imagined conversations with semi-famous people you are not supposed to know personally bubble to the surface of your half-baked mind.

This is the curious time when one lies almost awake and it occurs to you that in the night, in your sleep, "sorcery is burrowing in every direction, from thousands of senders to thousands of unsuspecting recipients".

What makes up the Zeitgeist?

You could be having this dialogue with someone somewhat famous much like the call-response of the Blues and none of the others know about this connection. What makes up the Zeitgeist and did that fellow on the radio really refer to something you said? Or is it all madness travelling along the wires laid down by Carl Jung quite a while ago below the substrate of consciousness. What if the radio guy knew you were chatting up this folk-blues singer and would they have something to say to one another, cutting you out entirely in their own repartee.

The Editor put on that CD which has become a favorite lately.

"Where does the daylight go when I am asleep at night
To the other side of the world; they're all in the light"

He imagined Pastor Rotschue having a talk with this singer and having much to discuss. Both of them sounded terribly wise. Smarter than himself, that's for sure.

So much trouble in the world now-a-days. His half-sister had recently lost her mother and Sweet Marie had started grieving as well for yet another loss. Then there was Joanne, always right there with troubles. He wanted to gather all of the women up in bear-like arms and comfort them, but he was just a weak and ineffectual man with barely a credit to his name. These conversations on those invisible wires were better left to the imagination.

The air was thick with language

In the doorway of the Old Same Place Bar, Suzie looked out on the long and empty avenue, feeling the invisible telegrams flying across the world, from artists standing at wetly daubed easles to talk show hosts to musicians in every port and scads upon scads of writers typing furiously through the night. The air was thick with language and it was difficult to punch a line in when the entire channel was clogged with voices. From up above, the humidity made the wires hum and crackle from pole to pole all down the street. The Great Recession looked to be becoming something else, and that Something Else did not resemble Recovery at all. All the birds up on the wires checking out that telegraph code.

What was coming down the pike next? Everyone wanted to know. As for Suzie, she had her job to do. Many were those who could not claim the same during this time. She shivered from the chilly night. So she went back inside and served up Gaelic coffees and shots until Last Call. Padraic called them that because, as he claimed, no Irishman worth his salt would ever sully decent whiskey with anything like coffee and brown sugar.

a vast ocean with fish-like packets moving back and forth

Inside the low hum of conversations gave the radio playing a constant carrier signal. Network engineers at a table talking about bandwidth and The Cloud. The internet "Cloud" is a network of servers, hard disks, NAS devices, all linked together in a meshed hatchwork of frame relays which had gotten so complex nobody really could keep it all in their head. It had become a vast ocean with fish-like packets moving back and forth. Somehow the entire world had sailed into some kind of Thomas Pynchon novel.

A girl with a shingle-bob, sitting with her friends, kept glancing over at a guy wearing a paint-stained lumberjack shirt. Fiber optic communications. When she got up to order another Gaelic Coffee at the bar, the guy got up as well. They started talking about Gifford coming into the Senate to cast her vote on the debt ceiling.

Handshake and channel negotiation. Timing of frames and agreement of protocols.

What a moment that had been. The girl put her hand on the guy's sleeve. He lightly touched her hand. The interfacing getting warmer. Everything now totally . . . digital.

Old communication. Summertime. Boy and girl, speaking the old language. Going totally digital.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the signalling wildflowers blooming among the murmuring grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its old journey to parts unknown.

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



JULY 24, 2011


Its only a scant few miles from a metropolitan area of over 8 million people, but Petaluma remains home to the Golden State's largest egg and poultry production farms as well as delightfully bucolic splendors. There's more than a few locals secretly pleased that Silicon Valley 2.0 failed to take root here, much to the chagrin of a few developers.

This week's headline photo comes courtesy of Maureen who transplanted there, like many homegrown folks, from the City to escape the hectic pell-mell pace of urban life. Her daughter took this pic while rambling "out back" behind the house.

Maureen is still the consultant who makes the Teatro Zinzani experience in the City look like a casual affair done up with ease just for you and off the cuff. She also operates her own business, caters high level social events for celebrities, and works for The Cremery as a sort of cheese goddess.

So what have you been doing lately in YOUR spare time?


Seems this section has become popular of late. Okay now, we see coastal temps dropping as the "bubble" moves eastward, followed by a return to the sunny eighties before the weekend opens.

The East should see some respite from punishing high temps, while the Midwest should see the flood waters receding and temps dropping to seasonal averages.

Around here the coast has been seeing fogbanks lasting until nearly noon from the water to the coastal range. That pattern should temper itself a bit, with less morning fog and more sun in the afternoons.


Our sympathies and condolences go out to our friends and all those who have suffered loss during the recent tragic events in Norway.

This is to let you know the annual Art & Wine Faire will take place on the weekend of July 30-31. The event, characterized by tchotchkes and overpriced booth fees has been a long-running tradition here for more than thirty years.

The delightful Danielle Fox lets us know about revisions to the monthly Oaktown Art Murmur, which now features a Saturday component to allow you more timid folks an opportunity to stroll in broad daylight among the cultural renaissance taking place in Oakland with some guidance for those who have trouble distinguishing between Joseph Beuys and a maritime guidance device.

Our newly elected Vice Mayor Rob Bonta announced his bid for an Assembly seat, which would terminate his Council seat by a good two years. Bonta is generally regarded as part of the current Gang of Three that took control of City Hall during the last election. His departure is sure to result in some changes.

The Great Recession continues. We looked at the job figures and they were not comforting. One Thousand New Unemployed East Bay Residents in June, came up as a factoid. There are some encouraging signs that the private sector may be starting to loosen up a bit in anticipation of a better 2012. No signs that housing starts or sales have improved, however, as most indicators reveal a fairly dismal spring around here, a time when in the past sales have somersaulted upwards. Most listings indicate "Price Reduced".

The unemployment rates in Alameda and Contra Costa counties edged up slightly last month. Still, California added nearly 30,000 jobs in June, more than the country as a whole, according to data release Friday.

The unemployment rate in the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward metropolitan area was 10.9 percent in June, up slightly from 10.2 in May, according to figures from the state Employment Development Department.

Compared to a year ago, there were nearly 5,000 fewer jobs available in the East Bay last month.

The number of unemployed Alameda County residents increased by 5,500 from May to June to reach a total of 80,900 out-of-work individuals as of last month, according to the data.

Overall, California added nearly 30,000 jobs last month, beating the national job growth figure. On balance, the U.S. added just 18,000 jobs in June.

The national unemployment rate stands at a stagnant 9.2 percent.

As the recession drags on, employers are finding ways to increase productivity with fewer employees, said Scott Peterson, deputy director of the public-private East Bay Economic Development Alliance.

“When you increase productivity, that’s a good thing, but only in the measure of getting more done and spending less money,” Peterson said.

Most of the jobs created in the East Bay last month were in the professional and business services sector (2,900 jobs) and the leisure and hospitality sector (2,600 jobs), according to the state data.

The beleaguered construction industry added 1,800 jobs last month. Most of the jobs gained were specialty trade contractors (1,200 jobs) — double the average number gained in this sub-industry between May and June over the last 21 years, according to Cindy Sugrue from the EDD’s labor market information division in Concord.

Sugrue said this could be thanks to significant highway construction taking place in the East Bay.

Cuts to public school budgets over the past year have led to thousands of local jobs lost in that sector.

Local and state public schools lost a total of 3,400 jobs over the past year, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the jobs shed from state government payrolls since June 2010, according to the data.

At the same time, private educational and health services gained 3,500 jobs over the past year.

The City of Alameda increased its numbers from May's 2,700 unemployed to 2,900 in June; an increase of .5% to 7.5%. The County average is 10.9%. (Source: California Employment Development Department,

We are also noting that many folks locally are abandoning the overheated rental market for other districts, with the largest influx coming from the wildly overpriced Babylon market.

The Island is in contention with Richmond now for home to the Lawrence Livermore Labs. A BBQ and information meeting was held this past week, to which over 600 persons came. UCB already owns land in Richmond, which is a serious issue to contend against, however the Island has far less crime in neighboring districts, is very accessible, and has a large number of amenities for prospective employees there. Both Richmond and the Island have indicated strong popular support for the lab relocation. An entity like LBL would be an ideal use of the Point land, instead of housing projects that would burden the infrastructure and cost the City potentially millions of dollars.


It's been a mixture of sun and fog here on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The days have started out grey and cool, which has followed each day with regular sunshine. Poppies and other flowers bloom on schedule whereas beans and peas have pursued their own curious bent. Most of us have given up on getting any tomatoes this year.

All the latest flap in the Letters to the Editor has been either about the Memorial Day fiasco where the combined forces of the police, the fire department and the Coast Guard watched as a middle-aged man killed himself. Slowly over the course of an hour.

Feathers, okay. Dancing, no.

Proving that Smalltown is as Smalltown does, the other letters concerned the Hot Pink Feathers entry in this year's Mayor's Parade. The lady participants wore hot pink bathing suits over flesh-colored bodystockings and tennis shoes. O, and they also wore pink feathers. The theme of their entry was "Recovering Self Esteem". The entry tittilated some and outraged a few. It seems the combination of pink feathers and dancing in the street was just too much. Feathers, okay. Dancing, no.

A couple people complained about the loudness of the fireworks on July 4th. "Why can't they put silencers on their whizzers?" some proposed. "Our poodle, Marie Antoinette, experienced a total stomach eversion due to fear of the Roman candles. It was dreadful," Mr. and Mrs. Blather said.

Well, we'll leave the prospect of putting silencers on your "whizzer" to the imagination leaving to wonder the idea that some people would discover with significant surprise some kids set off illegal Black Cats and M-80's on July 4th. Doesn't that date commemorate some kind of rebellion?

Mr. Poddleton and Ms. Portopott both refuse to let the Pink Feathers issue die down. Mr. Poddleton claimed his kids will never recover from the sight of Hot Pink Feathers, as he claims the feathers caused such an abrupt introduction to something he had been planning to discuss with his children at a later, more appropriate time. Which we guess would be around age thirty and about forty-five minutes prior to marriage. He has started collecting signatures for a petition banning dancing and all public references to sexual activity, dating, makeup, the female body, most body parts, feathers of any non-human color, lingerie, and Dodge backseats on the Island.

"Lets put sex in the smoky backrooms and dim light where it belongs!" Mr. Poddleton said. So far the only people who have signed his petition are the remaining members of Howard Camping's church and the Hon. Rev. Rectumrod of the First Baptist Church of Our Lord of Stern Demeanor.

"There shall be no booty bumping here, if I get my way..."

Ms. Portopott has never married and also has never had any children, however, she has got the United Island Bluehair Lady's Auxiliary marshalled behind her as well as the Camille Paglia Reading Circle. She also wants to re-introduce the now defunct Island statute that banned public dancing. She is less concerned about feathers than the female rear-end, which must not be allowed to shake at will. "If the Lord wanted that thing to shake, He would have supplied batteries. There shall be no booty bumping here, if I get my way about it!"

Some unkind comments were made in the parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West where Ms. Portopott's derriere was compared unfavorably to that of certain mud-bathing behomeths native to the Nile River.

Since the Hot Pinks, as they are now called, wore more than what just about every pre-teen can ogle at every beach in America, the comments indicating this only sparked the two malcontents to get with visting Saudi, Mustapha Kemal, to create and market a new beach outfit for American women and for all religious fundamentalists.

They call it, "The Burqini"

They call it, "The Burqini", and its a sort of loose garment modelled on the Middle Eastern burqa, which covers the modest gal from head to toe.

A gaggle of them were seen with a burqini chasing after little Imbecilla Cupcake with the intention of rendering the child modest, despite her nature. Down the Strand they went with Imbecilla pausing to hurl her icecream cone at them with a sailor's curse before taking off again around the Cove with Ms. Portopoll leading the squadron of Bluehairs who were determined to cover up the girl's provocative midriff and fanny while windsurfers scudded across the shallows, pausing to stare back towards shore where a young girl appeared to be running away from a flock of very large crows all flapping and screeching like mad..

"Dat woman has too much concern for the fundament!"

"Fundamentalist?" snorted Old Schmidt in the Old Same Place Bar. "Dat vooman has too much concern for za fundament! I sink she has there za brains!"

The night revolved into the between time of magic and stars. That time which follows the close of day and all the rituals of preparing for slumber, and before the steady march of the toy soldier minutes that lead valorously into the possible futures held in ransome by the next day. Its that time when Dr. Fist cried out, "Slowly! Make haste slowly ye horses of the night!" wishing to harness Time by magic, so as to allow this period of life to extend itself.

"Lente, lente! Festina lente noctis equii!"

Indeed, it does seem as if the stars halt momentarily, the moon pauses, and the Editor stands at the window looking out. Je me souviens.

How we walked down to the lake and encountered the garden gate. Everything was erupting violently into roses, gladiolas, poppies and hydrangeas. Sweet magnolia slaughtered the senses with bouquet. We climbed over and beside the grinning lake under the full moon you put my hand there and suddenly, it was summertime for real.

Would that we could halt time, but like Faustus, we learn that time is a spherical prison against whose walls we pound our tiny fists. In vain we shake our rattles at the blue sky.

The only capture allowed us are the fleeting snatches of music, the chalky diorama tableaux we compose with the paltry arts we may possess for a time. The Editor remembered walking along the top of an ancient wall of Pergemon to look out upon the vast sea of olive groves and laurel that now occupied the former site of that ancient city, fragments of which topped out here and there in the form of ruined walls, eyeless windows, broken stoa and fallen marble columns wreathed by ivy. Where once a mighty city had thrived, now stones scattered for more than one thousand years.

And now, far below the window, two teenagers with blankets headed off to the park to canoodle, pretty much as he and A---- had done so long ago. As teens have done since time immemorial, under the falling stars.

she put a feather in her hair . . .

There, beneath the full moon and beside the chuckling waters of the estuary she put a feather in her hair. The way the Ohlone girls do. She asked him with her eyes to ask again. Then he asked her, yes, and she put her arms around him, yes. And drew him down there so he could feel all perfume, yes. And all the time his heart going like mad, and .... Yes, she said. Yes I will. Yes, yes, yes ....

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the pink, dancing wildflowers blooming among the wanton grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its provocative journey to unknown erogenous zones.

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

JULY 17, 2011


This week's remarkable photo comes from fellow Islander Tammy and is of a frequent visitor to the tree outside her livingroom window.

It was hard to pick the headline for this one, as it seems just about everybody has a song that features these creatures from BB King to Wilco and Leon Russell. Wilco's lyrics are sheer genius, but the music to the song is disappointing. We think John Mayer's live performance best captures a poignant sense of . . . Well, you'll just have to watch.


Actually, it should be the stunning Abby Wambach, who, together with her teammates Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Heather O'Reilly, Hope Solo, Lauren Cheney, Megan Rapinoe, Rachel Buehler, Ali Krieger and Alex Morgan pounded, kicked, sprinted, lunged and head-banged their way to within an hair of winning the first World Cup for the USA in over twelve years. It was no easy waltz to the final game of the series in Germany as the team defeated Euro-powerhouse Italy in a grueling two-game playoff just to get to the World Cup series. Then after two promising wins, a defeat by Sweden set them back to face mighty Brazil minus one player. In that game, it took 122 minutes of everyone expecting this would be the end for the Americans on July 10th when Abby Wambach performed a spectacular flying header to tie the game and then go on to win via penalty kicks.

Suddenly Hollywood was tuning in, the Obamas were sending well-wishes to the team via Twitter, and folks who think normal football involves helmets and shoulderpads started paying attention.

It all came down to facing another team with an even bigger chip on its shoulders: Japan, which has lost all 25 previous matches against the US. Coach Norio Sasaki reportedly displayed photographs of the devastation in Japan following the March earthquake and subsequent tsunami to inspire his players. It seems to have worked, for while the Japanese performed fairly capably, the Americans squandered a number of chances for goals, the total of which would have added up to a score looking more like NFL than soccer. Japan's tie-maker goal was pretty much a gift by way of a bad pass from Buehler to Krieger in front of the goal. Miyama took advantage and popped the ball in from just five yards away.

And just like with Brazil, it all came down to penalty kicks and that 50-50 chance by each shot.

Its disappointing, but there is no shame in losing to a deserving opponent. After all the recent anguish and loss of life for Japan, they certainly deserve this one.



Closer to home, LA averted the dredded "carmaggeddon" when the world's busiest freeway closed for weekend construction. Most folks, including Hollywood's celebrities, just stayed home after news that the 405 would be shut down from Friday to Sunday got spread by virtually every known means of media communication. William Shatner, the actor who played Capt. Kirk for the TV series Star Trek, tweeted that he planned to stay home and have a pizza rather than drive anywhere.

A 10-mile segment of the freeway was closed Friday night to allow crews to demolish a section of bridge to make way for a car pool lane. Workers completed the demolition faster than expected, Mayor Villaraigosa said Sunday morning.

Barriers that had detoured northbound and southbound traffic away from the 405 since late Friday were removed at noon Sunday, with the opening of interchanges and ramps to follow.

Things went so smoothly that the Mayor joked that forcing everyone to take a break from the rat race turned out to be a good idea worth repeating. In a televised press conference, the mayor said he was pleased with reports of "people going to their neighborhood restaurants, going to a coffee shops, talking with neighbors, having family dinners or barbecues that they might not otherwise have done . . .".

He better like the idea, for LA will do the same thing again in about one year.

The $1.2 billion construction project calls for replacing a portion of a bridge at Mulholland Drive, a mountain summit road that is featured in many Hollywood films, authorities said. A year from now, crews will have to shut down the 405 again to replace a final portion of the Mulholland Drive bridge, officials said.

The project also calls for adding a car-pool lane in each direction, creating "the largest HOV system in the world" at 48.6 miles in length between the San Fernando Valley and Orange County, said Mike Miles, the California Department of Transportation's director for Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The two-year project will replace two more bridges, also to accommodate the widening of the 405, and will improve about two dozen on-off ramps and add 18 miles of sound-deadening walls for nearby residents, Miles said.

The 405 is usually one of the busiest freeways in the country, carrying about 500,000 cars a day through the Sepulveda Pass, a critical artery connecting Californians along the coast as it passes through some of the most wealthy and exclusive neighborhoods in the nation.


The weather has been overcast along the coast with high fog for most of the week, leading to cooler than normal temps even as the middle of the country fries like hoecakes on a griddle. We don't know what hoecakes are, but we can bet they are pretty hot. Parts of the Central Valley hit in the high eighties, while Bishop is reporting a normal 92 daytime. High for Livermore was reportedly all of 76 today. The forecast here is for cloudy, overcast and moderately warming trends to sunny days by the weekend with temps hitting the seasonal averages. Inland should reach into the 90's.

Dams are up on the Russian River, although the usual temporary bridge across the Russian River near Guernville was not up last we checked. Temps there have been warm enough for swimming in the 80's. Truckee reports a low of 42 at night with Yosemite a bit warmer at 53 degrees, with daytime highs about 70 or more, so keep that in mind if you are planning vacations up there.


If you woke early Saturday morning thinking you had dreamed about an express train, it may have been due to a steady rolling shaker registering 3.4 on the richter scale. The tremor rattled an area two miles southeast of Berkeley and three miles northeast of Emeryville at 3:51 a.m., but some Alameda residents reported hearing and feeling it here. There can be anywhere from three to five minor quakes per day most folks never feel. Scientists estimate that the Hayward fault has a 30% chance of a magnatude 8 quake within 12 years, but there are several other faults which also have their own probability assignments, with the one that famously damaged San Francisco in 1906 having a much higher probability.


People are still pretty steamed about the Zack Debacle, that is the flap about the multiple failures that occured during the suicide drowning of Raymond Zack this past Memorial Day. The affair hit national press with USA Today, National Public Radio, NY Times, and most other media running stories on the bizarre events which took place -- and significantly did not take place -- on that day. A quick review pulled up over 700,000 articles worldwide on the subject. Holy sh-t batman, they are talking about this even in the Philippines!

Mayor Marie ordered a commission to investigate the event, and newly hired City Manager John Russo hired an individual specialist to conduct an investigation into what looks to be turning into the Island's own version of Raymond-gate.

Letters to the editor are consistently outraged that instead of a multi-disciplinary commission we are getting a one-man outfit to look into this, due largely to the state of the City's finances. The general concern is that the investigator,
former state fire marshal Ruben Grijalva will produce a report with non-binding recommendations that will be filed in some desk drawer with no real consequences or changes to policy or staff.

Our concern here is that the City has no jurisdiction over the Coast Guard, which is a Federal Entity, and which also shares some responsibility for what happened that day, so a City-hired investigator can have little impact, if any, on USCG policy or disciplinary action. We do know a USCG commander was on the scene and supposedly took control of the CP at some point according to the "911 tapes".


In other news, Mayor Marie ruefully commented on the Council's recent decision to move forward with the landswap of the 9-hole MIF Albright golfcourse for land on Harbor Bay Island, saying that "I think the only reason we are considering this is because there's a potential to get money the City does not have."

Well that's refreshing. At least our Mayor is honest.

But this does generate images of our pure Mayor Marie pressing forearm to her eyes as the Dastardly Snidely Whiplash assaults her Virtue.

The terms of the deal feature Ron Cowan's realty offering a 12.25 acre parcel where additional development has been quashed by previous Council decisions, plus $5 million. In trade, Cowan will get the right to constuct 112 homes plus an office building. In the middle are a scad of entities who hope to capture some of that cash, including the beleagured KemperSports Management, which has aquired some local notoriety by means of their own curious shifting of project plans regarding golf courses here. KemperSports wants to operate and manage the Chuck Corica course and build another 9 hole course on yet another parcel of land.

Doug DeHaan cast the sole vote against the deal, saying "I think we are prostituting a good complex that could be something and should do something." He is right. Both complexes have been moneymakers for the City to the tune of millions per year. so much so, that the City had to look for external managers to meet industry organization rules.

As the Island Journal noted (07/15/11, Pg 1, 8. by Michele Ellson) the City cannot sell the land without voter approval, however a land swap gets around the prohibition.

Never mind that $5 million is chump change for the parcel on Harbor Bay which is home to many multi-million dollar mansions as well as the Raider's headquarters, especially given that the land offered is worth less than the land wanted by Cowan. Nevermind that all the entities involved, from KemperSports to the odious Cowan Harbor Bay Isle Associates have as much integrity and honor as Afgan opium dealers.

You would think that most developers, a kind of vermin that never seems to disappear -- would be hiding under the rocks from which they emerged with the other villainous invertebrates after having causing national financial disaster and widespread economic ruin by way of land speculation.

The people -- remember the people? -- in the form of citizens and (gasp!) real golfers who use the facilities hate both entities and everything about these deals. They have expressed their opinions and desires clearly and the Journal article cursorily lists them.


Islanders know that the Animal Shelter here was on the point of shutdown due to the budgetary crisis, the same crisis which is provoking the land swap mentioned above. The shelter is located on Fortmann Way, which is itself located hard by the estuary at the end of Grand Street near the infamous boat landing which has claimed a number of lives. The Corporate Yard and Public Works are located there as well as the power utility offices. Public Works is pulling all of its presence there as part of its share of the 15% budget cutback to the Point at West Mall Square, leaving behind, of course, empty offices.

As an item of possible interest (Lauren Do, are you listening?) we note that interested parties are interested in the land there, and that construction across the way is proceeding apace. Almost as if. . .

Now, this shelter occupies some land. Some land some people want. (Twirl of dastardly moustache. Ha ha, I've got you now, Nell!). Could the Shelter closing be part of yet another "land swap"? (Cries of dogs, cats in trouble. Little Nell, "Save me! Save me!"

In a comic book scenario, somebody presses somebody's palm, the Animal Shelter gets closed, leaving all of this perfectly idle space available while so much trouble happens, the orphans go hungry, the homeless push shopping carts, and City Hall shifts to a four-day workweek. Up pops kind Mr. Whiplash who offers a couple dollars and a barrel of apples to the orphans in exchange for that former Shelter site, which he plans to make into a seven story hotel/casino with tasteful neon signs and $200,000 condo lofts.

"But these apples have worms in them!" cries Little Nell.

"Ha ha! I've got you now, Little Nell! You and your little dog, too!"


Its been an overcast week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Stepping outside to the Strand with the wind coming in over the water flat as rolling prairie out to the ramparts of Babylon like distant cold mountains, you had to wonder if this place was turning into Minnesota or something. All the folks from SoCal huddled up in parkas, complaining this is not the way summer is supposed to be how can you swim in the Ocean or even put on a bathing suit.

Then somebody jogs by pushing a high-tech three wheel perambulator, several men clad in wetsuits go scudding by on boards tugged by colorful parasails and several teens flop down in the sand with iPods or iPads or iPoodles -- whatever -- and then you know its California because absolutely nobody on the beach is wider than they are tall -- their centers of gravity are definitely not built for negotiating slick icy sidewalks in winter.

We had a budget confrontation here and we resolved all that -- for the time being. Wisconsin, and now Minnesota, seems to be hell bent on destroying the Republican Party within its borders -- not a bad thing, really, but usually its the Democrats who want that to happen, not the Republicans themselves. The same thing seems to be happening on a national scale. Its strange to watch a powerful entity gifted with far more money than it deserves snatch total defeat from the jaws of victory. We thought only Democrats did that with regularity.

But lately the GOP has embraced complete imbecility with embarrassing emotion. Conservatives are supposed to be stodgy, dull, principled . . . conservatives. Instead we are all watching a bunch of slavering, screaming reactionaries blindly enacting all the vices and extremism of the first seven circles of Dante's Inferno, blindly blundering around in some windy sulphuric darkness, changing erratically to any sort of path that seems to avoid the sound of the Devil's chomping, only to wind up even lower than before, lacking any sense or reason, everything decaying into a savage atavistic fury of a donnybrook among themselves.

In a two-party system you need to have some kind of debate

In a two-party system you need to have some kind of debate, some kind of discussion, not this pre-adolescent pimply refusal to step over a line drawn in the sand.

As Siorse and Oisin's calistoga wagon crossed the final stretch of the Mohave to enter the realm of the San Joaquin, Siorse said, "Oisin, I do believe we done left Minnesota and entered here the garden of Eden."

"Do you mean by that the orange groves and the pistachios and all the free love and all the greenery that's in it, Siorse?"

"No. I am meanin' it be summer and there are no horseflies nor blackflies to speak of. That's what I mean."


Indeed we have no horseflies here, and the mosquitos are small enough that you can bring them down without need of a baseball bat or an eight-gauge shotgun, unlike Winnipeg and Washington DC and some other places we could name. So as bad as it gets, despite earthquakes and deprivation, despite divorce and avaricious developers, despite fire and floods and high rents, want and red devils in the head, in California we have no horseflies in summer.

California is also a land strangely deficient in memory

California is also a land strangely deficient in memory. Memories in this country reside in the bodies of nondescript men wearing grey dusty clothes who pass flitting among us like angels or dreams, and in the usual manufactured tales that are the shiny products of industrial men. Some people mistake this amnesia for a youthful drive. A reaction to having left all comfort and reminder of the past in those who have crossed invisible and tangible borders. Yet the memory it does have comes imported from people who bring their old ways, their old customs with them from whatever bomber-blasted, mine-strewn place they have come. The crush of cardemom seeds, the tang of lemon pepper, a way of speaking "thou" and "thee", reduced in translation. Left behind was the olive tree courtyard and the shattered mosaics of the front gate.

Discussion about that remains better left to the next Steinbeck with the intellectual and emotional resources best suited to handle the subject. As a poet acquaintance used to say, "there's a million stories in the naked West -- and you can go crazy listening to them all."

At the windows of the Island-Life Offices the Editor clasped his hands behind his back, a modern Captain Bligh gazing out upon the wine-dark sea. The fresh smell of clean, cool salt air blew in through the screens. Sounds from the stereo wafted through the dark offices. It was the Springsteen version from Devils and Dust.

Hey we shall overcome, we shall overcome
We shall overcome someday
Darlin' here in my heart, yeah I do believe
We shall overcome someday

Well we'll walk hand in hand, we'll walk hand in hand
We'll walk hand in hand someday
Darlin' here in my heart, yeah I do believe
We'll walk hand in hand someday

Well we shall live in peace, we shall live in peace
We shall live in peace someday
Darlin' here in my heart, yeah I do believe
We shall live in peace someday

The times are dark, but now is summer and history moves onward without waiting and this time is now, not what has gone before. The Editor walks out into the garden where everything is burgeoning. The pea vines hang with pods and the pole beans are draped with the incipient curlicues of harvest. Gladiola spikes are beginning to bust open. Even the potatoes are getting lively.

He remembered long ago climbing over an Oaktown fence into a forbidden garden hard by the library and hedged with official signs with a girl and there amid the Do Nots they kissed. That was before he somehow metamorphosed into a stooped old man with white hair flying about his head in an aureole.

Wish you were here, my old friend; we would trade old stories. The agenbite of Alleinsein. To paraphrase a feller.

"There's a flick of the whip left in me yet, bucko."

A scent of star jasmine wafted through the window and he thought, "There's a flick of the whip left in me yet, bucko."

Down the street Suzie tended bar at the Old Same Place. She was young, and even though some people might comment that she had already lived a life with incidents worth remembering -- including getting arrested in Italy under a counterterrorism charge with her terrorist Tango-dancing lover at the time, she was yet to be one living fully in the past. The time was now and summer was at hand.

Time to start living again!

During a break she looked out at the long stretch down to McGrath's where no one went anymore since they had stopped hosting music there and Peter had moved to Grass Valley. It's summer. A couple girls from Washington High sat on the hood of an old Dodge Dart with their shoes off, drinking beer in the soft summer air. A lowrider cruised past with its radio going BOOMPA BOOMPA! It's not a time for remembering, but a time for really doing something. The next time Jessie held an affair up on the Russian River she really ought to go. Swim, kayak, get a tan, do whatever. Last time, she had been hesitant. Now she was ready. Time to start living again!

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the summer wildflowers blooming among the reminiscing grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its mnemonic journey to parts unknown.

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

JULY 10, 2011


Been some discussion around the Island-Life office-cooler about that irascible emotion some of us feel all too deeply from time to time. Launches a thousand ships, starts and ends wars, gets young kids like Romeo and Juliet into deep shit and so forth. This week the image comes from Chad's storehouse, and the image seems to say it all.

Fenced off and constrained, something still blooms passionately, wildly, exhuberantly in the yard, despite prurient, prying eyes and all the blue-hair house rules. OK, enough with the adjectives for now . . .



Ambled on over the coastal range to the venerable forested slopes of Orinda to catch what Cal Shakes has been up to all these years after their venue renovation. Found the company there young and vigorous and full of wide-eyed can-do enthusiasm.

This time around we snagged an original by in-house resident Amanda Dehnert who has glommed onto the current taste for progressive musicals in which the standard piano pounding, Tin Pan Alley lyrics, and ensemble classical crescendos of yesteryear have given way to more contemporary sounds and rhythms.

Dehnert has borrowed liberally from a Shakespeare comedy titled "Two Gentlemen of Verona" to craft her own unique work, complete with gender re-assignment and modern concerns.

"Two Gentlemen of Verona" is an ugly duckling in the canon of Shakespearean plays. Only the first draft of the first folio survives and the resulting script is seldom performed for some very obvious reasons. The play bears many technical problems and the general concensus is that this work of juvenalia may well be the first play the Bard had writ, and many doubt that we have the final performance script in hand at all. The verse is far more debased than any of Shakespeare's succeeding plays and the plot wanders all over the place with dreadful lack of precision, featuring as a main character -- fortunately omitted in this production -- of a pet dog, which in all likelihood was enacted in London's Theatre in the Round by a human actor in costume.


Nevertheless the play possesses a few of those Universals that English Majors love and adaptors adore, which are very much a part of Shakespeare's central themes.

The themes here are love, always a big one, and friendship, a major issue in Shakespeare, who had to do battle with contemporary conviction that Friendship trumps small capital love, for love is ephemeral (according to Elizabethans) while Friendship lasts for life.

Hence the gender re-assignment, which at first glance seems puzzling. Why turn Silvia into Silvio? Save by doing this, Friendship and Love become blurred in the discussion. As MLK said in one of his sermons, there are many kinds of love.

As in the original, a quirk of circumstance results in all ending happily and equally paired, for in the discourdant world of that time, to end with order affirmed was seen as the highest positive. Hence we have Fortinbras securing the crime scene in Hamlet and Macbeth's head on a stake and Richard II ending up in a prison, but ultimately valorous in death.

We could write an essay on this subject Dehnert has already explored by using the characters of "Two Gentlemen" to act out her own pastoral fantasie in which spirits inhabiting trees communicate with humans and old men turn into chaulk in close-up rooms. As Dehnert freely admits in the program notes, in "real life" things don't end up this way. And here we abut against the age-old conundrum of theatre's purpose which often presents life ideally, not as it is, but as it should be.

Is this the sugar-coated medicine to take down, complete with actors performing live on musical instruments, or the exhortation to strive towards an ideal where love conquers all, even though we know it really does not?

All that intellectual stuff by-the-by, we could not help but notice how so NorCal this production felt in terms of its young company and its implied value-set. These kids looked and sounded like the kids we have seen grow up from young pups to be what they are -- accomplished masters of their crafts, wildly gifted and still imbued with a certain cantankerous response to the Old Ones -- their parents and their parent's influences.

In reality, this company consists of the offspring of those who were the children of the Sixties Flower Children, a sobering thought if you are of a certain age. They are full of vigor and life and their own opinions as to how to get things done and many of those opinions are a step up from what had preceded. The production also indicates that we are well past the momentary blip of history called "the Sixties" and well into a return to the more lasting battles which preceded that time and which continue in the form of family dynamics and the persistence of reactionary ideas which must be battled from one generation to the next. The one father retreats into a locked room, gradually turning to chaulk. The other runs an overtly fascist regime called here a "duchy" where everything is under his strict control, everyone fears him, and where love is rejected as foolish, something to be deliberately avoided. Mother has become wooden. In one case, both parents have died but remain with a strange and fecund legacy in the form of seeds, which the surviving child plants -- inside the house.

The Verona Project is not a perfect work -- its origins are checkered and its realization is fraught with deliberate fantasy and contrivance that relies heavily upon theatrical "magic" and the conclusion is wildly concocted of unliklihoods, however its worth attending for the effort it makes to toss the possible victory of things unseen against the cold concrete of what some people call by convenience "reality." Perhaps the best hope is seen in the girl who plants the seeds left by her parents, not in an outside garden, but within the house left by them, completely altering the expected outcome, the traditional trajectory. A dynasty will not be established, but something more wild and beautiful. That is the real beauty and hope of California; the children can become something other than the Past.

As always, we include here full credits from the Presskit, and will provide later a PDF for actors and staff to use for their portfolios.

Cast & Creative Team - The Verona Project

Pro's mom, Sylvio's mom
Thuria, Val's mom
The Duke
Arwen Anderson
Dan Clegg
Marisa Duchowny
Philip Mills
Harold Pierce
Nate Trinrud
Elena Wright
Adam Yazbeck
Guitar, Winds
Guitars, Keys
Guitars, Drums
Drums, Percussion
Accordion, Piano

Daniel Ostling - Set Designer
Melissa Torchia - Costume Designer
David Lee Cuthbert - Lighting Designer
Joshua Horvath - Music Producer/Sound Designer
Joy Meads - Dramaturg
Megan Trinrud - Additional Lyrics
Domenique Lozano - Vocal/Text Coach
Dave Maier - Fight Director
Megan Q. Sada - Stage Manager
Laxmi Kumaran - Assistant Stage Manager
C. Ryanne Laratonda - Assistant Director
Krista Smith - Assistant Lighting Designer
Christina Hogan - Production Assistant



Got a lot of little items this week. In a classic demo of our extraordinary IPD capabilities, a woman recovered her own stolen property in the form of a bike trailer, while at the same time locating a pile of other property stolen from other victims. Without the help of the IPD. In fact, when the woman located her property and informed IPD of several other pricy items, IPD ignored this little factoid.

Mary Grace Basco realized her bike trailer -- but not her bike -- was missing from her condominium courtyard on June 24. She then started hunting for the trailer at flea markets and recycling centers. She also posted a pic online at the Island Parents Network. A woman (Jennifer Solomon) who had lost her own bicycle via theft noticed the trailer on Blanding while crossing the Park Street bridge and called both Basco and the police.

Basco identified the trailer and pressed charges against a woman who had been sitting near it in a parking lot on Blanding Avenue. Police identified the woman as Dianna Ware, 25, a transient. Ware was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property.

Basco and Solomon soon realized that bags of miscellaneous items found with the trailer had been left behind. "We found lots of stuff, including some controlled substances -- prescriptions," said Solomon, so she called the police. The police returned and took a bag of medicine.

The kicker is that on returning to the site, Basco notice piles of apparently stolen property, including cell phones, remained uncollected. In outrage, she grabbed a few items and brought them to the next City Council Meeting.

Officer O'Madhauen's response has been typical: ""Our policy regarding the handling of property, recovered or stolen, was apparently not followed. However no traffic ordinances were violated during this case."


Common sense has prevailed -- a newsworthy item in itself -- when the new buyers of our Mall restored the old name of Southshore to Southshore Center, dumping the rather hoity toity and completely nonsensical name of "Towne Centre". Could an anti-gouging rent ordinance be far behind, we wonder?


As most folks know by now, former State Fire Marshal and former director of CALFIRE, Ruben Grijalva, has been hired to conduct an investigation into the drowning death of Raymond Zack. The response has been mixed, with some folks relieved that at least somebody is doing something to look into this, while some other folks are hitting the Editors Desk with letters protesting the hiring of a single person with what they call questionable qualifications over the use of a citizen's committee. The case for Grijalva is that he comes cheap and relatively non-political, while a committee would almost certainly bog down in shouting, poltics and nervous jumping up and down. The case against him is that it will be far too easy to brush this thing under the rug with little accountability to anyone after his report gets filed in those very offices which need to be held accountable.

The IPD is very good, it has been determined by an independent agency, in citing speeders and scoflaws not parking between the lines painted on the street. Well that's good to know.

While we are on the subject of the Police Blotter, we have noticed an uptick in larcenies, burgluries and grand thefts during the warm weather when people have apparently been leaving doors and windows open, inviting bad opportunity. Also there has been a disturbing uptick in finding dead bodies, listed cryptically as "DOA, no foul play suspected," at the rate of one a week for the past couple months. Lock your doors, get a dog and mind your meds, people.


It's been cooling down a bit after the recent heat wave here, but still keeping sunny and warm in the afternoons along the coast, while the inland has been toasty in the high eighties. The upcoming week will see a gradual cooling trend with late fog.

Some folks, generally those some folks from SoCal, are grumbling the place is starting to look like Minnesota with all the cold weather. Of course they don't know anything about Minnesota. Mendacino is about as far north any self-respecting Southern Californian will venture, and they only come that far on promise there will be a roaring fireplace available when the temperature drops to the unholy temperature of 62 degrees. No they know nothing of Minnesota at all. San Franciscans now gallop around in all weather wearing sandals and shorts regardless to prove they still have the hardy pioneer spirit, sitting there sipping their lattes at an outside cafe table in dense fog or a howling gale with sensible folks looking at them as they scurry by wearing sou-easters and boots. Just try that during one Winnipeg winter and you will know something about serious cold.

the only American who left California because he didn't like the weather.

Mark Twain came here one summer, and is locally famous for having said the coldest winter he ever endured was a summer in San Francisco. He was a notable crank who was made even more notable for being the only American who left California because he didn't like the weather.

Just think about that for a while.

But its summer and school is out and all the little monsters have gone off to scout camp, little Adam along with them. Adam, if you remember, was the sudden orphan tossed from a moving car and adopted by Marlene and Andre's Household.

He was well on the way to showing them how to make a small bomb

There in cub scout camp the kids learn the useful skills in life, such as how to tie half hitches, how to build a fire with one single match, and how to short sheet the bed of somebody in the next tent. Adam, who came from a rather rough background, proves to be a versatile resource there and before long he has taught some survival skills of his own, including but not exclusive to making a defense weapon out of a toothbrush and how to disable an attacker who is six times bigger than you. He was well on the way to showing how to make a small bomb out of a 9 volt battery and some flammable incidentals before he got redirected by Scoutmaster Jeff.

Don't teach them that, Adam.

O, but they might need it, Mister Jeff.

Adam, go to the kayak class.

What they gonna do when they gets hard time, dude!?

What they gonna do when they gets hard time, dude!?

I am kinda hoping for a little higher destiny for these Scouts, Adam.

What they gonna do if'n they get sent to Calpatria or Pelican Bay? They be like fresh meat not knowing nothing!

Adam, none of these kids are going to jail. Not for a while anyrate. That's the idea of Scouting; turn them into people with some hope in life. Go take out the kayak.

Awwwww, mannnnnn . . . .

On Sunday, Father Danyluk went for his customary clockwise stroll on a broader circuit now that he was getting his land legs from this weekly walk. For Sale signs posted in front of neat cottages now interspersed with bank auctions and forclosures -- signs of the continuing Great Recession which continues unabated regardless of how much money already wealthy stockbrokers are making at the Borse. Yes, even here. Yes, now even on the Island, the boney hand of the lean solicitor is finally being felt. The old former mortuary where the fellow had run a tiny nine seat cinema vacant now for two years after the former landlord had raised the rent to force out the cinema in hopes of better prospects. Instead of higher rent, the landlord had gotten nothing at all, and so had lost the building to the bank. Turns out no one wanted to rent a former mortuary no matter how nice the stained glass windows.

Father Danyluk nodded to Pastor Nyquist, who was walking as was his nature, anticlockwise over the same beat. The men were good friends for all that.

A glorious day, praise the lord, etc.

Down the way, Toni the Witch stepped out of the First Island Coven of Wicca to remark to her companion there, Praise the spirit in all things, its a wonderful summer's day.

Next door, in the Sacred Grotto of the Sanctified Elvis, Minister Robert Backbeat put on an LP in celebration, while Reverend Freethought swept the porch of the First Unitarian Church of the Sacred Petition. The earth continued her revolve as roses burst into bloom all over the Island, pea and bean vines drooped with late abundance, and the mother opossum appeared on the old fence, laden with the fruits of her own labors, some 10 or 12 little marsupials.

In the Old Same Place Bar, folks bellied up to the rail for their own celebrations of the spirits, each in his and her own way.

Suzie stepped out during her break to see Jodet and Ozzie heading over to Littlejohn Park. There the teenage couple lay out their blanket to hold hands and look up at the stars. Because of the budget crunch, all the park lights had been shut off after ten-thirty. They looked up at Ursas Major and Minor and Orion with his questionable belt/sword/whatever. Music drifted from the open window of one of the houses that borders the park; Janice Joplin singing a slow, bluesy tune about summer.

Look! said Jodet. A shooting star!

Look! said Jodet. A shooting star!

A summer evening, two teens on a blanket, warmth of the body next to you, the Pollock splattering of stars, the earth's revolve. Its been said by at least one wiser man, there is no better place than this, there is no better time than now, this very moment.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the summer wildflowers blooming among the starlit grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its seasonal journey to parts unknown.

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



JULY 5, 2011 (Special 7/4 Edition)


And summer is time for late deadlines as well. The Editorial staff spent the 4th up near Guernville this year, entirely out of range of internet and cell phone access. But if any reader was trying to read Island-Life on this gorgeous weekend they had better have been sipping umbrella cocktails under a cabana with wifi to the Internet, or we will have to send somebody out there for a little re-education about Life's Purpose, aided by a liter of tequila and a box of condoms.

This week's photo comes from Chad's visit to the Strand on July 4th after checking out the annual Mayor's Parade. Seems the 90 degree temps snuck up on more than a few people seeking relief in the Pacific Ocean.

Friendster Carolyn reported hail the size of softballs pelting Chi-town just a couple days before, while some places in the East reported snowfall on Independence Day. Friendster Patrick reported skiing at Tahoe on the 3rd.


It's all over now, baby blue, but this splendid four-day weekend celebrated the Nation's 235th birthday with NPR readings of that old Declaration, an Ira Glass discussion on what it all meant and what it means now, tons of BBQ, lots of frolic, and -- coupe de grace -- gazillions of fireworks, all of which drew oohs and aahs and some of which turned out to be entirely legal and sanctioned.

The Island held forth in its usual traditional style with the thirty-something-nd Mayor's Parade while humble Benicia across the straits held its -- hold your breath -- two hundred and first iteration of its own July 4th parade. Benicia, in fact, held July 4th parades among American expats even before California was part of the US, even before Benicia was named "Benicia" during a spat over which municipality would earn the moniker "San Francisco", which was named Yerba Buena at the time.

Enough history. July 4th is about BBQ, gallons of beer, fireworks and parades. And no one loves a parade more than Islanders here, who have at various times held the longest, bestest, biggest small-town parade in the world. This year the affair kicked of at 10:00 am with folks still ambling from the start line on Park Street long after the beginners had passed the grandstand review dias at the end on Webster. The streetsweepers followed up then end of the beast sometime around 1:00pm.

Island-Lifer Chad, along with a few Facebook friends provide here some pix of the affair. The event has a Facebook page with tons more pictures as well as a short composite video here:

Parade + kids

O Chad, don't tell me you were trying to get just the car. . .

Louis Freeman, 15 years in the Parade.

The Union Jack on the grill is a nice touch . . .

For some reason Hot Pink Feathers was wildly popular with (male) photographers . . .

Sheriff's mounted squad.



Its been a hot week on the Island set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. After such a late start to summer with all the cold and fog, suddenly California got slammed with triple digit temps. Forecasters say we are due for a spate of cooler than average weather -- but that will happen in a week from now and right now we are all sweltering in our stucco houses and all the fans going like mad in every room.

Because of the heat a few of the guys got in mind to leave town. So Pahrump and Denby got together to go up to Doyle's place on the Russian River. They called Doyle and told him they needed to come up there to check the place out and make sure everything was okay after the amazing New Year's Party and they might have to work a little bit to get things right again.

Well Doyle had been a landholder for many years in California and he had done well for himself by dint of some pretty hard work and -- more importantly -- getting other people to work for him, largely for free. He was also gifted with that wonderful attribute called "selective hearing".

He seemed to have missed the part at first about the party and "making sure things were all right".

"Work?!" Doyle said. "Come on up!"

"Work?!" Doyle said. "Come on up!"

So they started discussing arrangements -- his daughter Jessie was having some college friends up that weekend -- when the first part of what the guys said finally hit him.

"What do you mean make sure everything is all right? What about New Years Eve? Its now July."

"O Doyle, we think there is something we better tell you when we get up there. Does everything that's electrical still work up there?"

"What the hell are you jokers talking . . .".

"See you in a little bit, Doyle. Bye now!"

"Hey . . .!"


Well some readers may recall that last New Year's eve the boys "borrowed" Doyle's place for a little party. While Doyle was traveling. They imagined that everything was okay by now, even with Wootie's moose herd getting a little rambunctions -- it had been a hell of a party -- but it was hot as blazes now and they wanted to get up there to the river, so they got Pahrump's scooter ready to go.

Jose had just been released from the ICU. . .

That's when Denby thought of bringing Jose along. Jose had just been released from the ICU after Javier's disastrous birthday party had exploded, more or less, when his girlfriend had tried to kill him there on the beach. Tiki torches, bags of black powder and firearms do not mix well with gallon jugs of wine, and Jose had got the worst of it after the girl had potted Javier in the leg.

Fortunately, it had only been a .38, or he would have been a lot worse off.

Bystanders noted the pillar of flame . . . positively Biblical.

Jose had been trying to shield the miniature pirate cannon they had been firing at seagulls at the time when Camille came storming up the beach, firing at will, bullets smacking into everything, including the flaming tiki torches, spattering Jose with jellied gasoline right there beside the black powder meant for the half-pounder. The gun jammed and things sorta went up in flames at that point. Bystanders noted the pillar of flame that was Jose looked positively Biblical.

But now he was out and the problem was how to deliver two guys and himself with Pahrump's scooter. So, in true DIY fashion Denby borrowed a shopping cart from Lucky's and they lashed it to the side of the scooter and so with Pahrump driving, Denby perched on behind, and Jose nestled in the cart with provisions and Denby's guitar in its case they set out for the Russian River -- some seventy miles away around 10am. Things were dicey getting over the bridges as that meant they had to use the freeway, but heck Pahrump figured that since they all wore helmets the CHP wouldn't necessary bother them much. Somewhere around Sebastopol -- about four hours later by back roads they swapped off the wheels for items borrowed from some guy's wheelbarrow and finally managed to get there to Doyle's after a rocky but largely uneventful trip made more interesting by a gallon jug of wine. Took them an hour to get from Sebastopol to Guernville, a distance of some twenty miles.

So they pulled up there at Doyle's around four-thirty and they all jumped into the river with great relief.

The next day the kids decided that everybody should swim out to the Rock, which is a big lump of granite sitting out away from the bank upstream from the dam, and everybody did so except for Denby, who was terrified of water and rocks, so he paddled on out there in an inflateable canoe Doyle had found in an apartment one year after evicting a tenant who had tried to turn the place into an opium farm. Doyle had found the guy had carted in about 1500 pounds of topsoil to lay down in the livingroom and den there after tearing out the false ceiling to install halogen grow lights for poppies. It was not the electric bills that betrayed the would-be drug magnate, but all the water runoff from the irrigation seeping through the tarps to the apartment below. He never found why the canoe had been there, fully inflated in the bedroom, but after the guy had been carted off to the 7th Street jail, Doyle had reserved this piece of property for himself as partial remuneration for damages to the upscale Nob Hill apartment.

In any case the point of swimming to the Rock was to jump off it, the Rock being heated by the sun and the water been by nature cooler than rock, with most folks enjoying the free fall and kids being kids, this they did.

All except for Jose who perched up there as the shadows got longer and longer his newly healed skin getting blotchy by the hour up there.

"Jump, Jose", said Denby from below.

Jump, Jose, said Denby from below.

No, said Jose.

A cute gal wearing a bikini spoke to Jose standing there. Jose shook his head and sat down.

Goddammit, Jose! Jump!


Why not?

I'm scared of heights.

So they tried various things -- one of the gals was a marketing exec and another was a Personal Esteem Trainer from New York City and more importantly they wore bikinis and were of the age and shape to look good doing so, but nada. Jose would not jump.

The only way off that shockingly dizzy, quite high precipice of sharp, sheer stone is to jump! Denby said. You try to climb down you will fall, knock your pumpkin head and drown. So jump!

Jose inched to the edge, peered over and -- for a man of Mexican decent -- turned relatively pale. No way!

One of the gals, and then one of the guys, offered Jose a service about which we will not speak here, for this is a sort of family publication more or less, but Jose appeared to consider things, inched to the ledge peered over, then abruptly sat down and shook his head again.

One of the women got on Jose's left and Pahrump got on Jose's right. Okay, all three of us will jump together. I'll go off to the right and you go to the left so we don't bump each other, okay. Jose nodded. Okay now, ONE...! TWO...! THREE...! JUMP!

Off they went. Two of them, leaving Jose still standing there hugging himself.

Where the eff is your Latin machismo! Denby shouted.

"I'm scared of heights". Jose said.

I'm scared of heights. Jose said.

Its getting chilly out here and look at the shadows, Denby said.

In truth, the afternoon had revolved with the earth turning from Mssr. Soleil. The great coastal redwoods clad with ivy loomed deep now in the gloomy Tolkein forest all along the river. The blackberry-draped riverbanks softening with the fading light. The hawks which had been circling overhead all started heading home to roost. Swallows darted, kissed, darted off again.

Okay everybody on the Rock. All jump. One after another. Everybody off! Denby called out from the canoe.

So the men and women, boys and girls, one by one started flying off of the Rock into the deep green of the Russian River with tremendous splashes.

Hey, you are all just going to leave me here? Jose said.

Pretty soon, it was just Jose all alone up there.

All your friends are waiting for you down here, Denby said.

Jose closed his eyes. And then . . .

Jose closed his eyes. And then, to a wild cheer from everyone, he jumped.

Denby paddled up to him. Now don't you feel better having done that? Hey where are you going?

Gonna do it again, Jose called back over his shoulder as he swam back to the Rock.

O for pete's sake. . . .

That night, it was Guernville's turn to host fireworks. It was tradition that each little town along the river held its own display one after another during the annual holiday period. So they all loaded into Doyle's van and drove out to the pedestrian bridge, climbing over the gate to get right up to the rail there and watch the tradition explode in showers of gold, red, white and blue barely seventy-five yards away, the way it used to be for all of us, without a legion of 100,000 between you and what what happening a couple miles away.

Small town fireworks are the best this way.

Small town fireworks are the best this way. The only smells of cooking coming from food brought by the family, the ambient light reduced to flashlights and one single distant farmhouse, the local fire department conducting ceremonies, the booms reverberating between the riverbanks right up close, immediate. Maybe the display was not so fancy or glorious as what they put on in Babylon by the Bay, which strives mightily to be The City that Knows How, nor did it feature the technical virtuosity of Berzerkely which also has its reputation to maintain. But the pinwheels and exploding stars and simple UFO effects waterfalling in glowing sparks backdropped by the Sequoia were all the better by reason of being right there, almost in your lap.

All the girls started singing old July 4th songs. Those and Lady Gaga and Beyoncé

All the girls started singing old July 4th songs. Those and Lady Gaga and Beyoncé of course. Fragments of conversations overheard among the some 60 to 75 or so people on the bridge families and friends. Yeah, cousin Jimmy came up . . . Some vets there as well, not to be forgotten: Then the firefight started . . . And the old songs: O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain . . .

When it was over they all climbed over the locked gate to get back to the road. Some girl threw a roundhouse punch at some guy and shouted rather unladylike epithets at him. Another wagged her finger in the face of a fellow who may have been a boyfriend. "I gotta TRAIN you!"

Just summer Guernville romances. Like good health, like summer, like a particularly flamboyant burst of fireworks, like all the things you miss and will ever miss from this point going forward despite the aggravation, already fading, destined to ebb into memories lapping on the edge of some other distant river with dark shores, the shadows getting longer around some other Rock. However in all the tents on Doyle's lawn there was reportedly much rumpus going on.

The following day, they loaded up Pahrump's scooter and set out in the early morning back to the Island, leaving one small town to head back to another before about 37 million other Californians got the same idea.

"Hey," said Doyle. "What was all that about New Year's Eve?"

"You see any sign of, like, moose around here?" Pahrump asked.

"You see any sign of, like, moose around here?" Pahrump asked.

"No, can't say I have. Don't think we have moose around here. Maybe some river otters, but no moose."

"Good." Denby said. "Let's go!"

After some eight hours, several longish pitstops to guzzle cheap wine along with Wiz's Magic Punch made from Hawaiian sodas and about 1.75l of vodka, plus two sets of "borrowed" wheels later their rig with its makeshift sidecar trundled through the Webster Tube and back up to Marlene and Andre's Household where about fifteen people inhabited a one bedroom cottage (because of the extremely usurious rents being charged).

"So how did it go," Tipitina asked.

"Just another smalltown July 4th," Pahrump said. "Nothing better."

"Just another smalltown July 4th," Pahrump said. "Nothing better."

"And most importantly, Jose jumped." Denby said.


"He proved himself to be a man of cojones and courage, for he returns having slain his enemy."


That night there was much intake of depleted fluids and distribution of aloe from the plant growing out back, for the sun had taken its toll. However there was a lively chatter there around the bowls of the evening bread soup cooked up by Marlene, all about the fireworks and the water and what each had seen, for they were poor, but they were Company and so accounted rich in fellowship. Even on those days when they couldn't effing stand one another. And Jose had returned among them after having endured many trials. For this they were glad. For there shall never be an end to trials, and it was well to stand in Company, more or less united.

"We had better hang together, for otherwise we surely all will hang separately."

As one fellow said rather famously some 235 years ago, "We had better hang together, for otherwise we surely all will hang separately."

History does not record it, but as that firebrand Pat Henry finished his speech in the House of Burgesses, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated across the amber waves of grain and the passionate wildflowers blooming freely beneath the purple mountain's majesty as the locomotive wended its way past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its revolutionary journey to parts unknown -- about 235 years later.

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



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