Island Life: July - Dec.


Vol. 14 Weekly News, Reviews, Music and Satire Sunday 2012

dasboot.gifWelcome to the second half of year 2012. The archive 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 30, 2012


This fragment of a pier was photographed by Islander Tammy as she crossed the bay a month or two ago. If a pier is a disappointed bridge how must this fellow feel?

Or perhaps the pier broken loose from its moorings to drift represents the infinite possibilities now available.


This is the last entry for the 14th year of Island-Life which has been presenting East Bay news, reviews and views every week from 1998.

Just to recap for this NYE, should you be among the lucky few that have both NYE and New Years Day off (we do not) there are a variety of ways to give a boot to 2012 and still stay on the Island. The Journal has a front page list of events, including Josh Kornbluth performing Red Diaper Baby at Rhythmix, a special 10:30 benefit showing at the Paramount of the Hobbit which will feature a 11:45pm intermission for the countdown. Der Speisekammer will host a Western swing band named the Saddle Cats. The flight deck will be a chilly place to celebrate but the USS Hornet aircraft carrier will hold an event there.

Crab Cove is going to host a Crabby New Year over there on McKay Avenue. Go to for info on that one.

The lissom Erykah Badu will grace the Fox Theatre in Oaktown for the New Year.

Over in Oaktown Pete Escovedo will be funking up the joint at Yoshis with Maceo Parker doing Yoshi's West in Babylon. Folks not pinned to that specific day may want to check out Mark Hummel's harmonica blues blow-out in the subsequent nights at Yoshi's East. Ron Thompson will be there without the Resistors but with a stellar lineup.

In Babylon, the Dead who still are not, Bobby Weir and Phil Lesh, will do their Further thing according to tradition at the Bill Graham Civic.

For those who want to know, the skies will hold off and the ground will be allowed to dry out through the New Year and the weekend. It will be intermittently cloudy but as with today we ought to have some sunshine enough however the temps will be dropping to the high thirties. East Coast and Midwest will not be so fortunate as we are seeing some heavy snow heading their way, which will make holiday travel oh so much fun for everybody.

Facing the New Year we have a brand new collection of councilpeople under Mayor Marie, a collection that features one old warhorse in the form of Tony Daysog, and a couple newbies in Chen and Ashcraft. As of 1/2/13 we will be finally free of the odious SunCal. Second week we have the official swearing in of our President Re-elect -- let's hope the Supreme Court boys get the oath right this time.

We also have a brand new Assistant City Manager in the form of Liz Warmerdam, a born Islander from the West End where people know how to get things done. She came from a position serving the City of Hercules where she remained a rock and a beacon of integrity surrounded by a sea of municipal corruption. Not surprised she wants to shake the dust from her heels, so we bit the gal a fond "Welcome Home."

You may have noticed the world did not end on 12.12.12 or 12.21.12. That is probably a good thing, however it seems the intransigence of a group of stubborn children in one political party is pushing the US toward a media-shoutfest called the "fiscal cliff."

Latterly the strongarm robberies on Park have taken a break during the rainstorms but it seems at least one resident -- and maybe more -- have taken to transporting their murderous tendencies to Oaktown which surely does not need people from here teaching the embattled Oaktown citizens how to act badly.

It is nice that residents travel across the estuary to get killed there so as to shield the kids and the clean, well-tended pavements from blood spatter (Francisco Rosas, at Russet and Moorpark, Nov. 10) however we really need to put a halt to folks getting their jollies by exporting murderousness to places where people shouldn't be bothered with more troubles (Curtis Williams, shot by Victoria Martinez, 24th Avenue on July 5, Raven Chanel Dixon, 22, November 30, home-invasion robbery in the South Bay city of Monte Sereno Raveesh "Ravi" Kumra, 66, dead and his wife, Harinder Kumra, 63, injured, Daniel Jordan Dewitt, 23, killed 67-year-old Peter Cukor at 2 Park Gate Road, February 18).

On the upside, although the vehicle theft rate here is many times that of California, the enforcement of traffic ordinances remains a high priority, so accidents are not as frequent and even though we have chart topping violent crime rates (as reported by the FBI database, ranking us 27 on the 100 point scale where higher is better) we seem really unable to kill each other effectively. We have had only a couple deaths here, the murder/suicide on Alameda Avenue and the 60-ish fellow found beaten in his Harbor Bay Bed. A few DOA's, as the man found in the Nob Hill Parkinglot, remain out for investigation.


So anyway it's been a quiet week on the Island, but a tumultuous year in our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

Padraic has stocked up on green beer and champagne for the New Year's festivities and as if to get really warmed up the Old Same Place Bar has been pretty well packed in the evenings by regulars. Eugene Gallipagus had been keeping pretty well lubricated since the weather slammed the door on getting past China Camp in the Sierra for a final sortie against late season char and rainbows. Old Schmidt has been occupying his place at the rail with the claim that New Year's eve was one of the few evenings he endured stone cold sober. Its not that Old Schmidt possesses any great discipline -- with all the neophytes out there guzzling any old sort of booze at random and without appreciation he can't abide the amateurs.

Papoon and Babar have been meeting there for preprandials each night since the elections. Both have reason to commiserate with each other. Although Papoon's Somewhat Liberal Party took the Presidency, Babar's party managed to hang on to a sliver of majority in the House by means of carefully pre-arranged gerrymandering. The result has led to a loggerheads which is no good for anybody. It looked certain that in the coming year, heads would roll as a consequence for both of them.

It's the dregs of the year, the final gasping days of a year that ended up the caboose of over a decade of going bad with sour whiskey and sooty sunshine creeping through the tattered slats of a busted windowshade to agonize the already brutal hangover started by that clattering imbecile Ronnie Raygun nearly thirty years before, his legacy a brood of idiot children drooling and slathering over the corpse of a Nation left half-naked in the bushes on some stony hillside without even a Constitution anymore to shield her ruined private parts. Meanwhile all around her body, all across the countryside, comes the snarling and yapping and howling of packs of would-be leaders tearing at one another and whatever hapless Little Nell should wander across their field of terrible misrule.

Meanwhile, the climate continues to seesaw, with the temps dropping all over the Island and monster storms marching on past Chicago like the Hessian army. But no, the end of the world has come and gone. Its only Sarah Barrows helping Jesus learn how to walk again after another piece of cast had been removed from his leg which got the torn achilles tendon during the disastrous expedition to El Abuelta di Diablo in September.

Occasional Quentin offered encouragement as the statuesque singer for the band "In Memory of Sister Tharp" guided the fellow around the coffee table.

The way treatment for a torn achilles works around here, Kaiser puts the entire leg in a cast after the operation and gradually cuts pieces of it off according to some mysterious schedule known only to the kind of Physician Assistants until only a fragment remains.

Then the fellow is turned loose with something that is functionally like an I-beam encased in concrete instead of an operational joint.

Now walk.

Learning how to walk for someone past the age of thirty is a trying and tear-filled experience. But then, goofballs like Boehner and Romney claim medicine is free anywhere in America to anybody. Then again, Romney regularly boards the spaceship of his dreams every night so as to pay social visits to the angels on another planet.

Sarah, a musician trying hard, or maybe not hard enough, saw the trouble and offered to help Jesus learn how to walk. Standing six three in her heels, the woman certainly was sturdy enough to lean on, and was known to pack a .45 caliber pistol to the gigs, should any agent be foolish enough to get leary of sharing the door take.

After the couple had managed to circumnavigate the coffeetable Jesus collapsed on the sofa, which formed Suan's bed in the late hours. Suan was working the pole at the Crazy Horse Saloon that night.

"Mucho gracias," Jesus said, sweat on his brow starting to cool.

"No prob.," Sarah said. "Always thought it would be Jesus that would be helping me around instead of the other way."

"Mysterious ways is the god of chance and love," Quentin said as the burnt synapses in his brain tried and failed to connect once again.

"Uh, sure." Sarah said.

In the cold foyer of the PO at Southshore Mall, a man wearing a London Fog trenchcoat slips an envelope with a box number and a name through the slot. The envelope contains a cashier's check for three thousand dollars. Years ago, the man had been down on his luck, jobless, divorced, ruined and Bowtie Souvlaki had given him a BART ticket, some sound advice never to give up, and a lead to a job over in Babylon. That small act of kindness had resulted in the man doing very well, very well indeed. And in the final hours of the year, the man had tracked down Mr. Souvlaki so as to pay him back.

In space immense asteroids narrowly missed slicing the earth's atmosphere. The sun boiled and flared out long tendrils millions of miles long, but on the opposite side facing the earth planet's revolve. Someone steps from the curb on California Street, remembers a letter they needed to mail and turns back just as the runaway trolley zips by at fifty miles per hour. Halfway across the world a woman straps a bomb to her chest and, stepping into the courtyard before taking a taxi to the shopping mall, trips and blows up herself and a palm tree, but no one else.

Somewhere in the depths of the snow and icy trees, there vibrates the still quiet life of the hummingbird waiting for things to change.

Small gifts go unnoticed every day and on the Island, some people still practice acts of benificence.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the merciful waves of the estuary laving against the riprap shore before wavering over the grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided from the gantries of the Port, past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the mountains to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great New Year's and a better 2013.


DECEMBER 23, 2012


This week we have a shot of the last factory building about to be demolished at the Boatworks site off Clement.

Folks seeking to skirt around the morass of Park street just after entering the Island used to see this eyesore greeting them for over 100 years. The structure was built in 1909. Its demolition, coupled with the changes in City Hall and other development projects signify the end of an era for the Island and the beginning of a seachange in the way things happen here.


As of January 1, be ready to bring your totes to the grocers and other retail outlets as the plastic bag ban goes into effect.

The much discussed smoking laws that prohibit smoking just about everywhere in or near multi-family dwellings take effect January 1. The speculation is that the ordinance will lead to a rash of evictions conducted purely on pretext so as to jack up already obscene rental rates by removing long-term tenants. It is quite possible that this provision will lead to lawsuits overturning the ordinance, as behavior can be prohibited, but housing cannot be denied to a human being as a person cannot be prohibited per se.

Speaking of lawsuits, we finally shook loose that evil SunCal developer, who proved to be just as nasty, despicable and damaging as we had suspected all along. SunCal threatened multimillion dollar law suits when the greasy company started revising its Point development plans under the table and tried to push forward onerous provisions in its master plan, causing the City to drop its relationship upon natural termination of existing planning contracts. The City realized that fighting a decades-long fight against these unscrupulous folks would have resulted in worse costs than simply paying them off to go away. Which is probably what SunCal intended all along. They certainly have a poor track record of actually completing real estate projects of any sort of magnitude.

The upshot is that SunCal gets its $1 plus change million dollar deposit back (laid down to reserve exclusive rights for development) plus another $3.177 million plus change to allow us to forget these scumbags.

You may want to drive clean and sober starting right about now, as our IPD joins the "Avoid the 21" annual program to snag DUI at traffic checkpoints. This program typically runs through the Holiday period past January 4th.

We just about made it through the year but on November 25th, Raquel Gerstel, 15, and Bobbie Sartain, 15, were found murdered in the 2600 block of Minna Street in Oaktown. Both had been shot to death. The Island itself remains a place of relatively low homicide rates, but our inhabitants are not immune to the dreadful gun violence that is infecting the entire country right now.

We do not think arming teachers and principals of schools is a valid resolution to gun violence. Teachers have one job to do, and if trained police make mistakes from time to time, sometimes hitting innocent bystanders in the course of their duties, it is quite preposterous to suppose that anyone with minimal training and minimal practice will be able to effectively handle a maniac situation.

Chief Noonan has met with school officials in San Francisco and is working with school administrators to examine response plans and institute reforms as a consequence of the Sandy Hook tragedy. That is proper and appropriate. Lets all watch the follow-through.


It is pretty obvious there is a groundswell of national and international support regarding the recent mass killings of children at a Connecticut elementary school.

Here is a selection of efforts being done, including a few involving deadlines which have already passed, but we included them here as a marker for ideas to come.

1. When the children of Sandy Hook Elementary go back to school, the National Parent Teacher Association wants them to be greeted by a winter wonderland. You and your child can help welcome the students back to school, which will be in a new building, by making unique snowflakes! The snowflakes are due by January 12. Please send them to:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103 Hamden, CT 06514

Click on this to learn how exactly to make a paper snowflake.

2. You can also share your kind words of condolence by sending the community of Newtown a condolence letter:

Message of Condolence
PO Box 3700
Newtown, CT 06470

3. Some of the victim’s families have also set up specific pages for you to leave condolences online. Click on the names to leave your thoughts for the family of Dawn Hochsprung, Emilie Parker, Noah Pozner, Benjamin Wheeler, Dylan Hockley and Olivia Engel.

4. Messages are also being collected here on Evergram. They will be given to the family at a later date.

5. You can also do something you may have been putting off for a while. Go around your house with your child and find the toys they don't play with anymore. Then donate them to a local charity.

6. You can also make a commitment as a family to volunteer at your school or community center.

7. Send a card here to the forgotten heroes, the first responders.

8. If you need a little inspiration for more creative ways to help your community and do good, check out this conversation happening on Twitter. People are labeling their Twitter updates with the hashtag #26acts -- a kind act for each of the people who died at the school.

9. Find other people in your community who are pledging to walk for 27 minutes on Friday 12/21 at 9:30 a.m.

10. If you have a blog, write about a cookie recipe or craft and include a tribute to the victims. You can find other people's blog post through the Twitter hashtag #BloggersForSandyHook

11. Police: People in CT who need grief counseling can call 203-270-4283 – Please RT so they see the phone number and get the help they need. Go to this Hlntv site to retweet this info:

12. The family of Emilie Parker, 6, is asking people to wear pink on Saturday, Dec. 22, in her honor.

13. From the Girl Scouts of Connecticut Inc. - "Send thoughts and prayers written in the shape of a Girl Scout trefoil, or art that incorporates the trefoil, and we will present them to the Newtown Service Unit during a memorial service in mid-January. Hartford Service Center, c/o Trefoil Project, 340 Washington St., Hartford, CT 06106."

14. Light a candle from Dec. 23 at 12:00 p.m. until Dec. 24 at 12:00 a.m. in CST.


On Tuesday, December 25, 2012 and again on Tuesday, January 1, 2013, AC Transit business offices will be closed and all buses will operate on Sunday schedules in observance of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, respectively.

Scheduling information is available online at or by telephoning 511 and saying “AC Transit.”


So anyway, a series of dockwallopers came thumping into down to sodden the already drenched, rile up the trees and really mess up people's hair right as the Hollarday Season, got into gear. Despite the torrential downpours, people have been still putting out their displays, some of which appear to be designed to incense those xians who blather about the "war on xmas". Its pretty easy to rile those people, but its always a lot of fun. Mr. Snark got up on the roof to put up his twenty-foot long Santa on a chopper while some wag has outfitted a nativity scene on their porch overhang featuring a goose with a red bowtie and a creche full of marble eggs.

The end of the world came and went, much as it usually does, with little fanfare and a few hangovers. Word has it that the Mayan calendar on which all this fuss has been blamed is actually an incomplete artifact. We do not have at least half of the stone carving,including the part that actually states what precisely was to happen on 12-21-12. Living Mayans in Mexico City report back that the thing only said a "very big event would happen", and they planned on continuing to bake their tortillas in the same old way.

Mr. Howitzer had Dodd put out a wreath, some tinsel and a string of lights during the downpour, then is holding a dinner party on Xmas eve, because that is the sort of thing Mr. Howitzer does. Dodd, of course will need to have everything prepared, catered, served, entertained and cleaned up on that day of course. If Mr. Howitzer is in an unaccustomed charitable mood he may allow Dodd half of the following day off so as to visit with his family.

Every year the Sons of the Golden West, Parlor 33 1/3, hold a charity ball so as to raise money to be granted as a surprise to a public individual worthy of the cash. This year Wally and David and Columbia raised some $884.52, after expenses and damages had been deducted, and so Pahrump, not an official member but an employee, was sent off with a check in that amount to drop it in the mailbox of Reverend Freethought at the Unity Church. He carried the envelope wrapped in a ziploc bag on his scooter in the recent downpour and dropped it off. As usual, all distributions were done anonymous. For his service, Pahrump was allowed to scour the remainders of the warming pans after the banquet, which he dutifully carted back to the Household to share with the company there.

Marlene and Andre's household is celebrating in their usual fashion with a minor change. This year, perhaps due to the presence of little Adam -- whom they all were trying to wean from gangsta mentality -- ethical voices voted against stealing a tree, so Pahrump, Jose, Javier and Marsha went out with the little red Flexible Flyer wagon to return with a tree that had been tossed into the recycle bin as a reject.

This tree would win no beauty prizes, for it was not a pine tree at all, but a broken rotating clothes-display rack painted at one time green so as to resemble -- somewhat -- a tree.

Marsha collected some cast-off branches from the tree-lot and she and Martini spent a few hours twist-tying the branches on the arms of the rack to fill it out some and then the gang all got together to drape whatever might be holiday festive. They used fishing line and found paperclips to hang foil condom packets from Suan's workplace, paper stars, bottlecap strands, aluminum foil, and a string of lights Martini made from LEDs scavenged off of circuit boards.

Rolf went around with Tipitina and Jesus Padilla to scavange dead light strands from the trash bins in the neighborhood and they spent a couple days working on them with Martini's help to get a pretty one made out of cannibalized parts.

In the end the thing didn't look half so bad, especially with the lights off sitting on top of the cinderblock base wrapped with an old blanket. A little narrow, perhaps, but festive, really.

Reverend Freethought of the First Unitarian Church got together with Pastor Lindy of the Home of Truth Unity Church to hold a joint banquet over there behind the Home of Truth chapel in the hall where they sometimes held music concerts and seminars on sufi mysticism.

they were joined by the Cantwell family which had lost its home in a fire

Blind Willie, who once had been a blues harpist in the Birdlegg Tite Fit Band was invited along with a number of folks who had experience especially hard times this past year. Occasional Quentin came in leading Snuffles, the bum and they were joined by the Cantwell family which had lost its home in a fire caused by a faulty electrical outlet which Kane Reality had been ignoring for years. The fire was blamed on the family, of course, and they lost their security deposit on account of that, as Marie Kane was known to be quite inflexible.

Reverend Freethought was heading down to Southshore, thinking she would use this sudden, unexpected boon from the Native Sons to boost the banquet with some goodies, when in dropping into the Post Office there to pick up the mail she ran into Maria Gonzalez, so say rather the Reverend noted Marie sobbing to herself at the little blue bankett there people use to sort through their box mail.

The man had been cruel to her

Well she had a letter from her relatives in Mexico and as it turned out Maria's abuelito, Jorge, in Mexico City was dying. The man had been cruel to her and everybody had said so but now the man, facing certain death, had one of those changes of heart and was now calling for forgiveness. This man had stood in the way of her marrying Miguel, who came from blood, and had done everything possible back then to interpose and prevent it from happening, causing in the process family strife and much grief.

"He is too brown! He is too brown" Jorge had thundered. "We are not Mexicans, we are Espana!" And when he said the word "Mexican", he seemed to refer to something disdainful.

There is a great deal more of complexity involved that would take the intervening thirty-five years to explain. These things are not so simple to explain to those who do not know. But one thing was clear. Over the course of the past thirty-five years, the man had gone into the mountains for the mining concerns and worked with the people and nearly died one hundred times and lived many lives there and in the Yucatan jungles, enough to file a book with stories, so it is not unreasonable to believe the man had come gradually to a change of heart during these decades of silence between them.

There were rumors of course. There always were rumors. How an Indio had once saved his life after he had been pinned under rock. And more rumors besides. How he seemed to have . . . well, nevermind.

There stood Reverend Freethought in the Island postoffice in the company of hundreds of years of history.

"Why don't you go home and see what this is about", said the Reverend.

Ah! The money, of course. Marie, like many of us here, worked as a maid and a waitress and also as a cashier clerk for CVS. She and Miguel had to work three jobs each just to pay the astounding rents to survive. How could she take off time to fly to Mexico City even for a day? All she wanted was the chance, if that chance were deserved, to offer the forgiveness of the Blessed Virgin.

Of course all of you already know the story and how this ends, at least this part in El Norte. What happened in Mexico City remains another story to tell at some other time. Let it only be said, that during this special season, one journey of forgiveness was enabled to pursue whatever consequence would accrue. That is after all the entire point of this hullaballo, as the Reverend thought to herself, striding briskly up through puddles left during a pause in the rain.

When Reverend Freethought returned from her trip to Southshore Mall, Pastor Lindy asked her what she had done with the money she had gotten from the unknown benefactor and the Reverend told her she had given it away.

"Ah!" said Pastor Lindy. "Very good! Now how shall we lay out the table settings? I assume we will not be providing knives for the turkey . . .". She was a practical pastor and did not sentimentalize the poor.

It is crabbing season and every hour not hauling is wasted

Pedro Almeida had his boat, El Borracho Perdido, nicely strung with a line of lights up the main instrument mast from the boathouse cabin as he motored out on the last day before the break. It is crabbing season and every hour not hauling in loads of snapping dungeness is wasted . The sea grew calm between the storm fronts. Another would slam into the Bay area on the Christmas Day, but for now the swells rocked with a relatively gentle chop and the moon gleamed now and then between the wrack of clouds.

Again he was of the clan of sailors, again he was of the fishermen whom some say were chosen to be the first followers of the unruly cult of Peace. And again he was embarked on a day's work that just as easy as pie end with a sundown that did not include his living, breathing life.

He had heard of the story of the boy who had spent many days out in the Pacific, alone, with a full grown bengal tiger, having many adventures and suffering much until his rescue after too long a time. Pedro knew the sea and he knew how impossible such a story was, how improbable. There are always two stories, just as there is always another side to look at, to desire, to revile.

Pedro knew we impose our monsters and our angels upon hangars that remain convienient to ourselves, less so to the people who might by happenstance reside under the burden of this mask.

A fisherman is, after all, just another guy, another working stiff going to work. And perhaps not return. Just like any child stepping on a schoolbus to take him to school and perhaps some incredible, impossible destiny, also not to return that day or the next forevermore. Anything is possible.

For now there is this moment, something for which to give thanks. A mother's kiss. A lover's touch. A brief goodbye. Better hang onto that.

The 21st had passed and the entire world had not ended, but continued to rumble onward to whatever appointment with whatever asteroid or massive pollution would end it all for humankinds. One thing is sure, Pedro definitely knew this: from this night going forward, the nights would grow shorter and the days longer.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the star-lit waves of the estuary laving against the riprap shore before wavering over the forgiving grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided from the gantries of the Port, each one glowing like the flame of a candelabra, past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the mountains to parts unknown.

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

DECEMBER 16, 2012


The Hollardays are upon us and like all good NorCals we celebrate the season of Chrismukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa and Sol Invictus all together. Along with Festivus, the "Festival for the Rest of Us".

Here is a nice shot of St. Nick riding an updated sleigh bedecked with stars of David and dreidels.

O and if you have to ask about Krampus or Knecht Rupecht, then you simply must google both names as well as the German tradition of Krampuslauf.

The associated Youtube videos will be sure to cure you of any Seasonal Affective Disorder as well as anomie caused by the barrage of overly commercial ads touting the "perfect gift".


Because of injuries sustained during the annual mountain expedition our staff has had to pass on attending some of the season's highlights, such as the Celebration of Craftswomen at Fort Mason (which provides a venue to benefit the Women's Building in San Francisco. One of our staff has helped set up and take down booths at Fort Mason for over 28 years. This was the first time we could not send anyone to help.

We also missed the Live 105 Not So Silent Night which one of our people attended, reporting back that Jack White tore up the place in a fantastic, energetic performance. Way to go Jack. Jack White has been doing amped up versions of Son House, Junior Kimbrough, and R.L. Burnside for a while. Long time readers know we break for the Blues.

Had to pass even on the ritual lighting of the tree here on the Island, which was well attended despite a ferocious rain storm that kept Santa perched under the Silly Hall veranda cover.

We also missed out on viewing the Annual Parade of Yachts, which typically features some 20-30 vessels of all sizes from kayaks and single mast 15 footers to massive three tier all-weather excursion boats, all sporting inventive holiday light decorations.

Several development projects are finally moving forward here after years of delay. The decrepit Dow Pumping Engine warehouses, dating from 1909, are being demolished at the Boatworks site off of Blanding, and the Alameda Landing project design has been given both public and City Hall approval. Catellus and TriPointe Homes are working together on building 275 homes on 22 acres hard by the Posey Tube. Target will be completing a 23 acre project in that vicinity in late 2013. None of the structures will be over three stories in elevation and 14 low-income units will be added along with 16 "moderate income" rental units. Since the Housing Authority is involved we are hoping to see an end to the ludicrously obscene $1,400 and higher one bedroom atrocities that have cropped up recently around here.

The long-disputed Measure H parcel tax that was challenged by local businesses in court has been struck down, putting the Unified School District in a tight spot, as about $7.5 million dollars in taxes already collected may need to be refunded.

At issue was the contentious provision for variable rates -- a type of provision that has been included in a number of other districts. The court stated in its decision that the special tax violated uniformity rules in taxing some people more than others while at the same time providing total exemption from taxation for selected entities. Because the court was a state appellate court ruling on specific provisions, it is possible that other districts may face litigation against their own taxe structures created specifically to acquire funding for their schools during these hard times.

In another blow to special taxes, Measure B1 and a recount have been dumped. B1 was a County-wide measure meant to support public transportation. The loss means a loss of over $8 billion dollars

Since Stewart Chen has to resign his Health Board post so as to take on his seat in the City Council a vacancy now exists for his old position. This is a hired, not elected position for now, so people of interest may want to go to ALAMEDAHOSPITAL.ORG to obtain the application package, which must be submitted by 5pm January 3.

From the Police Blotter we note the following items worth a follow-up. One, interpersonal violent robberies, muggings, and assaults have dropped during the rains and that is a good thing.

Two, we have a continuing pattern of about six 5150 detentions occuring per week. The report usually employs the language "detained for psychiatric evaluation", but what it means is that police cart someone off to John George for a three-day hold. In a town of this size, six or more per week is a rather high number, especially given the high number of mentally ill who do not get put on hold but who nevertheless act fairly bizarre.

Sausal Creek Crisis center reports seen a high number of cases coming from the Island every single day.

Three is more disturbing -- we note about four or more DOA found per week, dead due to "natural causes". This past week a man was found dead in his van in a manner the police are calling "suspicious." That and the clear case of arson at American Oak has us wondering just what the heck is going on.


We know. We Know. The Natalie Merchant song is about clinical depression, but the lyric still looks great as a story header.

Our little bout with wet weather is not over -- another front is moving in and after a dry and sunny Tuesday, we are in for more wet stuff through the next weekend.

The recent dockwallopers have combined with high tides and lunar phases to severely damage the Strand to the extent that East Bay parks has requested funds from FEMA and the State Boating and Waterways Department to perform a multi-million dollar sand replacement program so as to halt the erosion and prevent damage to the roadway. The last time such a restoration project was done was in 1982.


So anyway, Winter has come to NorCal in the manner it has chosen for quite some time. Old Gaia with the white hair, snoozing on her wood-frame porch in a rocking chair, a coverlet quilt across her knees depicting forests, mountains, rivers and plains, inclines her head away from the loving gaze of her brother Phoebus Appollo as he canters in space with his gleaming chariot. As she turns her face away into shadow, tears trane down to swell the rivers and lakes below, give life to those forests and plains.

Gaia's tears are the sorrow of the world

Gaia's tears are the sorrow of the world. She weeps for all those who still do not understand that when all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been killed, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

So as Gaia's face turns from the sun, the world becomes colder and darker and nights become longer until that Solstice night when the turn away stops and everything starts to move again towards the light.

On the Island, more people are hanging lights than in the most recent years, albeit with more decorum than in times before the Bushie Administration. There is, however, some kind of resurgance of hope recently.

It came into Tipitina's head to hold a caroling expedition

Over at Marlene and Andre's household attitudes regarding the Xmas spirit had always been dire. This was largely because everyone there was poor as dirt and living under dire circumstances to begin with. Nevertheless each year there were always a few people who tried to salvage the season. It came into Tipitina's head to hold a caroling expedition and there arose a general abnegation of desire around this sort of project.

Tipitina had enlisted Marsha and the two women bonded over their common story of household abuse. They soon collected a solid backbone of support from a few others but hit an obstacle in the figure of Rolf, the boy who had escaped old Europa by dint of force and wits and guile.

his increasingly erratic mother had simply left him

It wasn't so much his German-ness that caused the fellow to be so stoor about the holidays so much as his personal history, which had started punching the boy pretty hard right from the beginning. Growing up in the Eastern Zone ruled by Mother Russia, he had watched as his school chum got himself shot by the Vopos during his family's escape over the wire to the West. His father died and then one day while taking a walk near the Spee River, his increasingly erratic mother had simply left him there on the bridge by leaping over the side.

It is true he had saved Suan's life

Then there was the matter of survival in the heart of one of the biggest cities in Europe. This he accomplished by lifting wallets, handbags, just about any old shiny thing that was not nailed down. Somewhere along the way his emotional life took a long vacation to some other, better place. He was not a Scrooge or a heartless man, however. Quite the contrary. It is true he had saved Suan's life in San Francisco when he very capably beat up three hoodlums trying to rob the girl -- and perhaps do worse in addition. Yes, stealing -- which he no longer practiced -- and fighting were two things about which Rolf knew a great deal. He also had developed an attachment to little Adam, whose own life bore a great resemblence to his own childhood.

He found Adam sitting on the vacant couch as household members gathered on the porch with their crudely fashioned songbooks, running over the itinerary.

"Hello Adam. Wussup happening? You have your i-tablet thing."

"I be checking out the news on Internet. Managed to hack into the service next door."

What is famous today on the news?

"You are smart kid for free internet. What is famous today on the news? You not going with others to make singing Christmas?"

"That dumbass WAP security is so easy. I don't feel like getting out there in the rain for just a few quarters. Tipitina things she gonna get people to give money."

"That is hardly possible I think. What is this about police all over?"

"O man you aint heard the news. Some effed-up kid cut loose in an elementary school with his mac-10. Killed about 20 kids and the principal and some teachers."

"That is sad, Adam. Right before the Christmas time. Look, there is woman weeping. So sad!"

"Yeah talk about it. Aint gonna be no Xmas for a whole lotta folks now."

"You should not look at this, Adam. Those poor kids and their parents. Life is already hard enough. Is there nothing better for you on Internet?"

"Heck I am a kid too. Could happen to me. Could happen anywhere anytime."

"I think you right my friend. But I hope nothing happens to you. I would be very sad."

Tipitina says you don't care about nobody

"Why zat? Tipitina says you don't care about nobody. She says all Germans are cold bastards. Maybe its the weather."

"Perhaps so sometimes a lot. Especially Germans. But about weather I don't think so much the case. Still I hope nothing happens to you all same. I will fight anybody who tries to hurt you. I don't want so much to be cold."

"Yeah well how come you aint out there with the others?"

"I think my English speaking not best for singing. I ruin all song for everybody. They will just laugh. Tipitina is nice girl -- I not want to mess up her story."

"Now you say you like Tipitina? Gimmee a break!"

She has good heart. She tell truth all time.

"Ja sure. She has good heart. She tell truth all time. Most people here in house are good people."

"Man if she talk to me the way I hear her talk to you, I'd smack dat bee...".

"Adam, don't talk so. She is person, not a dog. And sometimes hitting and fighting not best way."

"I suppose you like that Suan, too. She be a fox!"

"Ja sure, I like Suan. She is so innocent. And beautiful."

Adam snorted. "Innocent?! Dude let me clue you in about that Black whore. She works as a stripper at the Crazy Horse. She's about as innocent as Jesse James."

"All same, you look in her eyes you see she is innocent. That is why she is beautiful."

"You just wanna get in the sack with her, that's what you want."

"Maybe so, but still. And you are Black and you are innocent and beautiful also. I not want to sack you. That would be silly, my friend!"

"Man you is something else. I guess I hafta like you cause you are wierd. I sure wish my daddy had been like you."

"Uh, thank you. I guess you don't like your father."

"Heck I never even knew the effer! That was my step-dad what threw me from the car that time. They didn't want me around. So out I went. He is prolly dead from doing the crack all the time."

"Adam, you know the Ram Dass?"

"No, whozat?"

there is no going back, only living with now and going forward

"Just someone who helped me. He say there is no going back, only living with now and going forward. And there is only one correct path forward and that is to Herr Gott, my friend."

"Never heard you talk like that Rolf. Where does this come from?"

"One time in Berlin, when I was very small like you, the Sisters took me in for a while. They taught me some school. Even music and how to sing -- just not in English."


"Ja. Nuns. And ze Benedictines. Mönchen."

"You lived with Munchkins."

"Not quite. Or maybe so. Then I ran away -- too many rules for little me!"

The front door popped open and Suan stuck her head inside. "Anybody else coming?"

"Ja, we both coming. Me and my Kumpel, my pardner. Adam, close up i-tablet now."

"Well that is a change. What happened?

"We go sing for all the children, Engelein."

"We go sing for all the children, Engelein."

"Long as I know you I will never figure you out, Rolf."

"Psst! Rolf!" Adam said. "What about your English?"

"You sing for me. I just move my lips. It will work."

And so the German refugee went out with Adam to join the little group of souls, among them the women who did not know Rolf called them "little angels" in his own language. And they went from door to door singing old songs, mostly in English, but Rolf sang this song in his own native language. Although he said he sang for all the children in the world, he knew from experience there was little or nothing he could do to take away any of the trauma suffered by even just one, not by just wishing it away. Perhaps he sang for the dead child inside himself. If so, it would have to suffice.

Ihr Kinderlein, kommet,
O kommet doch all!
Zur Krippe her kommet
In Bethlehems Stall.
Und seht was in dieser
Hochheiligen Nacht
Der Vater im Himmel
Für Freude uns macht.

So nimm unsre Herzen
Zum Opfer denn hin;
Wir geben sie gerne
Mit fröhlichem Sinn;
Und mache sie heilig
Und selig wie deins,
Und mach sie auf ewig
Mit deinem in eins

"That's cool," said Adam. "Can we do Have Nagila next?"

"I think you mean the one about the Dreidels," Rolf said. "I know that one too."

"Funny, you don't look Jewish," Marsha said.

"You voot be surprised," answered Rolf.

Marlene turned off the electric Menorah with a silent prayer

The hours passed, the final night of Hannukah ticked over to the next day, and the company finally made its way back to the house where 15 souls who had once been lost had managed to find each other and in finding each other had found such small salvation that is possible in a world that often can be very harsh and packed with too much tragedy. Marlene turned off the electric Menorah with a silent prayer, for the menorah is a reminder that despite everything, minor miracles are still possible.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the star-lit waves of the estuary laving against the riprap shore before wavering over the merciful grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided from the gantries of the Port, each one glowing like the flame of a candelabra, past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the mountains to parts unknown.

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


DECEMBER 9, 2012


This week's photo comes from Chad who simply looked up to take this photo. Kinda shows the moody uncertainty hanging over all of us right now.


The big flap going on over at Silly Hall is not, surprisingly, the fault of anybody now in Council, which is a rare sigh of relief coming from that quarter. It's all about the Neptune Pointe brough-haha, which a number of reasonable voices are calling an unnecessary melange of nonsense with the park district suing the City when the Feds were responsible for yanking the land there in dispute while at the same time limiting the ability of the same entity to issue a bid on what they had put up for auction.

Just why the City is being sued for something the Feds accomplished so badly with the ineptitude of the Park District in full compliance is still a puzzle, but as Frank Mataresse said in a recent letter to the Sun, this does not bode well for future interactions between the City and the park district. Maybe the pro forma rezoning -- already planned -- is the ticket here, but nevermind the badly handled issue caused by other parties.

Most of us are calling for an Avenger figure to fly down from the sky and fix this thing in time for Curstmas. That will not happen, but what can happen is that representatives from all parties get together at the table and discuss what is best for the City and maybe park those somehow necessary housing units someplace else, leaving Crab Cove with its visitor center intact and untroubled, as it is quite clear what was supposed to happen did not in a spectacular manner.

In other tangled real estate development theatres, we have seen the welcome demolition of the Boatworks warehouses down there by Clement Street, which have long been a waterfront eyesore waiting for some kind of resolution. As it turned out, the demolition turned out to be wildly more expensive than anticipated when a backhoe fell into a concealed subterranean trench, requiring a costly extraction to the tune of $20,000 per hour.

Amid None of the BLOGS have commented upon the recent decision to shift the budget to a two year cycle, a key component in a statewide initiative that was unfortunately voted down due to its apparent complexity. This move makes a good deal of sense and represents a long looked-for move towards sensible long-range planning that is decoupled from momentary political issues. It allows planners to roll over unused departmental funds instead of wastefully splurging dollars so as to recapture same-level funding each year. There are an host of advantages and we are glad that the Council has done something here that will have beneficial effects that are less immediately visible than building a new ediface or revising a height limit.

Could it be our Council is becoming less Silly?


So anyway the recent dockwalloper that soaked the place has moved on, leaving brilliant sunny skies and nippy evenings bobbing along in its wake of flooded basements and shorted-out subsystems.

This Saturday evening the Festival of Lights began to commemorate an age-old battle victory over somebody now long since forgotten and buried beneath the sands of history and menorah appear in windows all over town, their brave little lights winking in sequence. The Chosen abide over those one-time occupiers, so maybe there is a lesson to be learned here about tempering rule with justice and mercy for who now gives praise to Ozymandias.

With that this Bay area enters a time of celebration and spiritual renewal and a kind of broad-sweeping sentiment that reaches across wide divisions and the multiplicity of cultures that is America as it is in the 21st Century. No other time of year gathers in the scatterlings of all times and all celebrations quite like this time which sees Jew and Moslem, Catholic and Lutheran, Pagan and xtian, Celt and Saxon all looking to the darkest night of the year with some hope that somehow, someway, despite our incredible bombastic human collective stupidity things will someway start to get better from this point on forward as it is certain we have done everything we could, in spirit and in deed, to really screw things up beyond all recognition.

Nevertheless, today snow falls on the heights of the Sierra. This means life continues for a little while longer. This is also the time of year when folks think about big changes in their lives, when divorces come final and those Neptune contract things get drawn up. The streets throng with those 12 footer U-haul trucks and test scores for the GRE and SAT arrive in the mail along with those college acceptance letters that will redirect young lives forever.

People think Spring is when the changes happen, but those little darlings didn't pop out like turnovers overnight. Count back nine months from July and look at when the big event that started it all really happened.

With the passing of the storm front, temps have dropped, leaving for what passes for nippy air around here. Simon Snark of the Homeland Security Hi-Tek Secret Force has taken to observing his subjects on the island from the relative warmth of his jet black surveillance vehicle. Snark, not high enough in the GSA scale to warrant anything like an Astin Martin had to make do with a model called the "Mary Martin", which lacked a number of trinkets outfitting the cars employed by the boys sent to keep tabs on Saudis, Chinese, and the always suspicious Russians. It did not have the turbocharger or the fogger, the wheel scythes, the antitank armor, or the twin 50-cals that popped out the back trunk -- the OMB boys had felt such things were not likely to be employed on the staid Island -- but it did have a recessed nubbie that turned into a flashing blue light if ever Snark would need it to prove a point.

He also carried a Glock 9 with a threaded barrel, to which he had added a six-inch ventilated silencer extension. Then there was his Agency badge, a two pound hunk of brass in a leather case that most agents left at home save for special occasions as the thing tore through most coat pockets in no time. But Snark had heard that one had stopped an assassin's bullet, saving an Agent's life, so he always carried his in a special holster.

Snark was one of those Hooverite true-believers and even though it was the third night of Hannukah and he was entitled to time off according to departmental regulations and his stated religion/ethnicity, Snark had settled in to check on the usual suspects in their hotbeds of discontent where radicalism was known to breed. Even within the rather paranoid halls of the Pentagon and that odd little CIA building in Reston Virginia surrounded by plastic shrubbery, Snark was regarded as something of a crank.

Snark knew holidays were a time when people let down their guard and he intended to take full advantage of this knowledge right up to New Years.

So there he was in his Mary Martin when Jose came up to him with a cup of hot chocolate -- the entire household of Marlene and Andre had known Snark had been spying on them for ages, but nobody harbored any ill will. Pahrump, a Native American, had always taken as a given somebody would violate any sort of rights supposedly granted by Powers that Be and everyone else just considered the guy a harmless nutcase.

So, knowing it was a cold night, Marlene had brewed up a bucket of hot chocolate and sent out Jose to give the fellow something to warm himself a bit during the festival of lights. Ever mindful of heathen practices, Jose also brought out a little battery-powered tea candle for the Agent who accepted both warily.

As Agent Snark sipped the cocoa staring morosely at the tea candle on his dash and thinking perhaps he really should be back home helping grate potatoes for latkes, Commander Mohammed observed all of this with some amusement from the Iranian spy submarine AIS Chadoor, which had come around the Point to view things beyond the mud shelf during the Infidel Holiday. Because the mud shelf limiting depth to about five feet extended a good one hundred and fifty yards offshore, Mohammed could see little save for the flickering of thousands of lights from thousands of windows all across the island, each light representing a warm household of souls, each filled with some hope, each having some kind of miracle to celebrate. Each residing just like those darling buds beneath the snow in the high Sierra waiting for some heated May to arrive and ignite everything into an extravagant branching candelabra of a new Season, regular as clockwork and without the need for any Agency oversight.

As the Captain lowered the periscope and the submarine ran silent, ran deep, out across the Bay and through the Golden Gate, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the miraculous waves of the estuary laving against the riprap shore before wavering over the victorious grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided from the gantries of the Port past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the mountains to parts unknown.

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



DECEMBER 2, 2012


This week's headline foto is of the tree in front of City Hall waiting for the official Mayor's lighting ceremony to begin in a few hours. Thanksgiving is done. It is now December. OK, NOW you can decorate the stores and stuff. Please stop getting hysterical in October already.

A couple Islanders are planning to head for the Mexican interior for the Holidays this year where the people have the right idea -- leave the damn lights up all year and don't make a fuss.


Most of you probably know by now that the Monday closure of the High Street bridge was due to police activity around a call regarding a body hanging from the support girders above the water, an apparent suicide.

Police closed the bridge at 12:53 p.m. after a caller reported that a man had committed suicide from the bridge.

The bridge was reopened about 2:15 p.m. Monday, police said.

The man's name, age and city of residence were not released by authorities.

This is the second time this year (at least) that someone has been found hanging from a bridge here. Someone hung themselves from the Park Street bridge earlier this year and in April of 2011, a person was also found hanging from the Fruitvale Bridge.

Generally, details are not released when suspected suicides occur here so as to prevent copycat types of events and to help shield family members from public bother.

(up there is just a sea of possibilities)

A while ago we reported about a developer's interest in Crab Cove. Actually that had to have been well over four or five years ago when we first mentioned that some one wanted to build a massive project over there cheek-by-jowl with the Park after the Feds turned over land to the City.

Well, the original high-rise idea got scrapped but when real estate people get their greedy mitts on an inch stapled to an idea they invariably take a mile and then come at you with nail guns, and now the whole thing looks like it is slamming into badly timed collision course with what almost certainly will become a hotly contested local initiative if not an ugly lawsuit.

Once again.

The facts are these: Property on McKay Avenue adjacent to Crown Memorial State Beach is being termed "Neptune Pointe". You just gotta know what kind of cheese bucket is involved when you tack on a pretentious "e" to what is essentially a couple parking lots with two empty government buildings. It is enough to make you want to seize one of those jerkoffs who come up with names like "Ye Olde Village" and "Town Centre" by the neck and shake them good until their eyeballs rattle.

This appellation happened about the time the Feds turned over the area, zoned as A-P-G which is Administrative Professional with a Government overlay to the City.

Last year Mayor Marie indicated that the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) expressed strong interest and most folks thought EBRPD would take it over pro forma, however when the land went to public auction, an entity called Tim Lewis Communities, which appears to be based in Sacto, won the bid for $1.8 million with EBRPD abstaining.

Now clearly those folks don't want to just assemble Quonset huts for the Park service. They put in a formal, and fairly reasonable request to rezone to medium density housing. They cite as rationale a draft report titled Housing Element 2007-2014 that was created by the City Planning and Building Department in which the parcel is described as Site 4, with housing potential. The actual report diagram shows pretty amorphous boundaries that seem to include land owned by the State, not by the City.

So the oddly named TLC wants to build houses and make money. Nevermind foreclosures upped by 4% in October and the rate of valuation has been uneven at best here. (the four properties in the East End near the Island-Life Offices declined in value by over $30K a piece while others rose slightly.)

The land folks see property moving out there and are speculating that a change is in the winds. What may be happening is a minor bleed out from the burst bubble as folks who had the cash held back from purchasing while property values declined. That small number and the number of people speculatively taking advantage of foreclosure sales may be creating an artificial sense that happy days are here again for real estate.

In any case EBRPD may have dropped the ball during the auction, or maybe somebody in Silly Hall let something slide to the point that people with sharp eyes and ferret fingers saw an opening and took a chance to win BINGO. That is what RE developers do -- they look for opportunities and take them. No surprise there.

That the City, in a time of fiscal crisis, decided to auction the land is also not exactly a surprise. $1.8 million is not chump change.

Now the situation is that a stack of housing in that corner, bounded by park property on two sides, served by a narrow street on one side, and pinched by the ocean on another, would result in yucky congestion down there. Pointe or point, it is a smidgen of isthmus and there is little elbow room. It probably would make an excellent parking lot for the Park Service, but EBRPD didn't handle things well to make it happen.

Apparently somebody over there thought the City would just give them the land gratis.

So now, instead of people getting angry at another developer, we have EBRPD threatening to sue the City on the rezoning, claiming that no proper Environmental Impact Report was done. They could, of course, just pay TLC the money and save everybody more heartache, but you know that will not happen.

We are not getting a lot of their point of view as to just why they felt they were entitled to the land, so there is a missing back story here.

Whatever promises got made to create the expectation the City would hand over prime real estate for nothing have vanished like Italian dreams. The local developer who stood back from their plans is probably grinning in their leather chairs with tall glasses of scotch, saying, "I knew this would happen!"


The mother of all Dockwallopers settled in here with high winds, power outages and flooding. Got reports of power outages over 24 hours from Park Avenue where OM Management had to supply residents with generators, and nasty basement flooding in the old houses in the East End. 1422 Walnut reported standing water in the basement up to six inches before the harried residents kicked in manual pumps.

DPW was out dealing with downed tree limbs all over town and Pagano's ran short of "Wellies", those reasonable rubber boots that became a fashion statement a few years ago. Walmart sold out completely. People looking for those things at a reasonable price can sometimes find them in the paint departments of hardware stores.

We have a respite of a couple days before another storm comes in Tuesday night to get all of us good and soaked before drying out in favor of some chilly temps in the 40's.

Planning on taking advantage of the new powder in the high country? Be advised that SAC has lifted avalanche danger at treeline to a 4, that is High and in the Red Zone.

Here is the full SAC report: "A well advertised and very powerful storm system is impacting the forecast area today. In the last 24 hours, 1 to 2 inches of new snow accumulated above 8,000' followed by rising snow levels and 1 to 2 inches of rain with more on the way. Gale force (hurricane force) southwest winds will continue through today before decreasing significantly tonight into tomorrow. Ridgetop gusts well over 100 mph are expected today with gusts to 140 mph during the peak of the event this morning. Snow levels rose last night to around 9,500' and may climb to as high as 10,000' this morning. Snow level is forecast to fall during the late morning through evening hours, ultimately ending up around 6,000' at the end of the storm. An additional 1 to 3 inches of rainfall is expected in most areas today with up to an additional 6 inches along the Sierra Crest, especially in the northern portion of the forecast area. As snow level falls, new snow amounts of 12 to 24 inches are forecast today above 9,000'. Between 8,000' and 9,000' 6 to 12 inches of new snow are expected. Between 7,000' and 8,000', 3 to 6 inches of new snow are forecast."

Have fun up in Tahoe next weekend, but be safe. The surfaces are unstable.


DPW hosted a bag exchange next to City Hall this Sunday. As most of you know, plastic bags will be phased out from all merchants on the Island and throughout Alameda County.

On Jan. 1, Alameda County will join San Francisco, San Mateo County, San Jose and 49 other California cities and counties in no longer providing single-use plastic bags at checkout for retail and for grocery outlets. Customers will have to pay .10 per bag, practically mandating that everyone begin using reusable bags, much as they have been doing in Europe for years.

For now shoppers can buy reusable bags at most major grocery outlets for about one dollar. There is also nothing to stop people from employing that long unused gym bag as well.

We went on over to City Hall to admire the "ice" skating rink and turn in a bundle of toxic plastic in favor of nicely stylish bag of burlap. Here a courageous lady braves the ice solo. What is that old saw about a fish not needing a bicycle?

Although it is a step in the right direction, plastic bags will be with us for a while as trashbin liners and kitty tray protectors.


It is December and those who do not have a gig for NYE better get booking or spend the hours watching the ball drop on the Boob Toob.

The Freight and Salvage has High Country kicking in the New Year, which is preceded by solid shows including two nights of Vienna Teng tickling the ivories (I wanna be your Harbor), and two nights of Grateful Dawg Dave Grisman and company.

Yoshi's East in Oaktown will host four nights running of the ever popular Pete Escovedo and Sons, who guarantee to keep the salsa muy caliente. Before that NYE spectacular Lavay Smith will lick your skillet on the 13th, and the solstice will feature the Windam Hill gang on the 19th, followed by SF's Hot Club supplying hometown gypsy jazz and swing in the style of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli on the 20th. Local boys R&B Tony! Toni! Tone! will return from a long quietus for three nights after that.

Rufus and Martha Wainwright will bring a touch of Canadian cheer to the Fox on the 19th to ring in the first night of Hanukkah as part of their traditional fundraiser held in memory of their mother Kate McGarrigle. If you have a pulse, you probably like the Wainrights. If that is not enough, Emmylou Harris and Maria Muldaur will be helping out.

All proceeds from the concert will be going to The Kate McGarrigle Foundation to help fight the deadly sarcoma cancer that ended the life of a wonderful musician.

As for NYE at the Fox, the extraordinarily talented Erykah Badu will take you through as part of her tour in support of "return of the ankh", a project that grew out of a visit to a Cuban santaria priest in 1999.

Ads for the Bill Graham Civic feature such trippy, drippy lettering it can only be Phil Lesh and Bob Weir bringing some friendly Dead vibe from the 29th through the New Year as per tradition going back more than four decades.

That outta get you started thinking about what to do. In the meantime, come on down to the Lucky 13 and do things of which your mother would not have approved.


So anyway, the Island got body-slammed by a dockwalloper of great proportions, causing widespread soggy underwear damp socks, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth just after the Annual Poodleshoot had completed its acrimonious wrap-up there down at the Cove.

We are not quite sure what kind of people wails and gnashes its teeth under any sort of circumstances but we advise all of you not to wear sackcloth or ashes for you surely will regret it anon.

Andre brined the bird in a paintbucket lined with a trashbag

Over at Marlene and Andre's the Thanksgiving feast lasted pretty much for a couple days, as most folks had to work during the day, and the handful who had retail jobs of course had to report for duty by ten PM that night so that the bosses could gouge a few more pennies that much earlier at the stores in the hours leading up to Black Friday. Andre brined the bird in a paintbucket lined with a trashbag surrounded by cakes of dry ice, then went off to the Ink 'n Drink tattoo coffee shop where he worked while Marlene got the bird into the oven with foodbank veggies before getting herself to the Southshore Mall. Quentin, Pahrump and Martini kept an eye on sauces and things pot-bubbling as folks drifted in and out and everybody drained one 5 gallon box of wine after another. Pahrump snuck out with Quentin in the midafternoon to get a plate of food at the Christchurch on Lincoln and they came back with fruit and dinner rolls and butter pats stuffed in their pockets.

Sharon worked the Sausal Creek Crisis center and came home to fall into a bed of exhaustion but not before rescuing the bird from the boys, who had gotten thoroughly blotto by then. For a few hours between dusk and when the retail folks had to go to work the entire house gathered for plates of stuffing, roast potatoes (always cheap!) and a few slices of turkey.

Andre brought a plate of diced turkey to Snuffles where he crouched in his hole in the front deck where Javier's 50th birthday had ended in somewhat incendiary fashion a few years ago. Andre apologized they didn't have more than that.

"Thankee. Thankee," Snuffles said as he mumbled the food with his ruined mouth. "Mush oblisht."

For a brief time, all was peace

In that precious quiet time after the meal and before the necessary dissolve of the gathering, Suan laid out with her aching stripper's feet propped on Tipitina's back in the middle of the floor. Tipitina still wore her clerk's blouse but she didn't care for she was beat as well. Fast asleep, Occasional Quentin snored under the coffeetable. For a brief time, all was peace, and just that plenty for which to be thankful, as who knew what miseries the future may bring.

"They say things be starting to get better," Martini said.

"Who say that?" Tipitina said.

"O, you know. People."

"Took a long time for things to get this way," Pahrump said.

"At least its not getting any worse for now," Andre said.

"Amen for that," Sarah said. "I say amen and hallelujah things aint any worse. Thank you Jesus."

"You're welcome," Jesus said from the hallway where he sat with his back to the wall. "I did the gravy." Jose laughed.

Don Guadeloupe . . . named the open area and their abode Igelfeld

The rain held off for this Thanksgiving, and none were as glad of that more than Don Guadeloupe Erizo and his wife out in their hedge hole along the roadbed of the former Beltline there, a comfortable place to be with scattered boards and such, perfectly ideal for creatures such as they. Don Guadeloupe, a bit of a polyglot, named the open area and their abode Igelfeld which is a term in this case only the most distinguished and well-travelled can appreciate.

As it was a full moon, the Don took his air after dinner out on the concrete pad, there to contemplate the wonderful roundness of the moon, her light and her majesty to communicate with her in his own fashion and contemplate issues of philosophy. He had done this for years and years as a solitary bachelor, but now his time was accompanied by Madame Herisson ever since the time the big people had come along to tear out the old rails and ties along what now had become a paved path.

"A'quel pense-toi maintenant?" Madame Herisson said. "La lune?"

"Si, said Senior Erizo. "Pensando en la luna." Like most couples of mixed gender the Erizos spoke entirely different languages, yet still managed to understand one another at least some of the time. In this, they maintained an excellent relationship with one another, for neither gave up listening.

"Elle nous donne un beau cadeau. Sa lumière"

"Hmm. En este caso, gracias Señora Luna."

"Hmm. En este caso, gracias Señora Luna." Which of course is the only proper thing to say in such a moment. And here the Don bowed as only an hedgehog can bow and doffed his hat in appreciation.

At the Almeida family household Mrs. Almeida came in after feeding the chickens and making sure everything was snug against the rain and raccoons before falling into the sofa with the heaviest exhaustion. Preparation of a meal for such a family gathering was no minor matter. Pedro came in and nattered about, picking at stray bits of candied yams and stuffing after the last little one had been put to bed and he observed the form of his wife on the sofa with the television's blather a few feet away.

He turned off the TV and saw she was fast asleep and so he moved about putting things away, stacking dishes in the washer and laying the worst ones in the sink to soak while Tugboat, the black Labrador, lay watching him with his head on his paws, a pooped pup after keeping three generations of young Almeidas entertained all day. The next day there would be no going out on the boat, so one could rest.

he noticed thirty-six cents in change and a guitar thumbpick

He went into the livingroom again and he noticed thirty-six cents in change and a guitar thumbpick on the coffeetable. These he put into his pocket, meaning to give them to Salvador, his nephew, who had come with his guitar and a few songs.

Bending over he noticed by the light coming through the window from the outside the spray of silver that was his wife's hair fanned out across the bolster, and he stood up to go and close the drapes, but paused to look at the full moon, bright and bold in the sky.

Of his line, he would be the last . . .

He turned back to see that it had been the moonlight in his wife's hair causing it to shine so. She was getting older. And so was he. Soon he would not be able to take out the boat alone any more. And the kids, none of them were sailors in the old way. None of them would become fishermen. It was better that way. Of his line, he would be the last of the men who made their living from the sea this way. And soon, his time would be done.

He went over and picked up the nylon string guitar leaning in the corner. Once he had played all the time. Played for people at parties and he had loved that sense of things falling into place when everyone in the band came together in the slot. But there had been no money in it. Jovey had gone north. Glen had gotten a job with IBM in the marketing department. And he had followed in his father's footsteps to become a fisherman. Over the years his original crew had dropped away to other occupations, found other employment, or fell to the Adversary that would eventually take all of them. Now he ran the boat all by himself. But once upon a time he could play.

He also could just as well have been a parkinglot attendant

He put away the guitar and put his hand into his pocket and felt the small change and the pick. Decisions we make. He also could just as well have been a parkinglot attendant or a security guard.

His wife stirred in her sleep and he went to fetch a blanket to cover her. On returning he paused to look at the spray of silver hair around her head. Then he got into the sofa beside her and covered both of them up with the blanket and the moon.

"Gracias." she mumbled. "Gracias."

Right then, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the thoughtful waves of the estuary laving against the riprap shore before wavering over the grateful grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided from the gantries of the Port past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the mountains to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 30, 2012


The missing Participant at Fred Finch has been found and returned to her family. As the Participant is a minor we have removed all identifiable references to the individual from this site out of respect for family privacy. Thank you to all those who expressed concern and to the person who recognized her from the distributed flyer notices.



NOVEMBER 25, 2012


This week's photo comes from last year when a family of wild turkeys caused a big stir around this time simply by walking around. This fellow was seen walking into Washington Square Park. This is just like our Island - even the wildlife observes the traffic laws.

There are peddlers and potters and gingerbread stands
There are peepshows and puff and darts and green caravans
There's fruit from all nations exhibited there
With kale plants from Harbin at Peralta Junction Fair

The convalescing reporters at I-L ventured out on crutches and wheelchairs to snag a piece of the burgeoning Oaktown art happening. Here is a view of the main stage.

Quite a few folks around the world are figuring out that something major is happening in the East Bay's most colorful city. Since this extraordinary Renaissance does not match the template of traditional urban renewal, and generally does not include the sort of ruinous ediface building that tends to demolish neighborhoods instead of improving them, Oaktown's Silly Hall seems to be missing the thrust of this major collection of phenomena that is reducing crime, eradicating drug culture, unifying community and putting serious revitalizing shots in the economic arm during this time of wretched failure of capitalism.

We have reported already on the wild activity that is infusing the Uptown District with energy and dollars and artistic activity, but there has been a developing sector along Mandela Parkway where the old Cypress structure used to be, with tendrils out to the west. After the Crucible, established by Michael Sturtz, planted a foothold for industrial arts off 7th Street, it became clear that the burgeoning energy generated had to form amoeboid spinoffs, which indeed did happen as NIMBY, et al, took over the massive American Steel building to expand the realm of hand-made artwork combining the new "steampunk" sensibility with performance.

Event this massive location proved insufficient to hold the swelling East Bay creativity and so now all along Mandela Parkway from the BART station to Emeryville, dozens of ateliers, studios, workshops and collectives have sprung up to inject life into an area that had been badly damaged by gang turf warfare and drug battles.

One of these is the Peralta Junction group, which already has garnered significant international renown for its massive figures constructed of welded steel rebar and scrap iron.

This group is holding a free outdoor festival of sorts so as to introduce the community to all the things the collective provides. The event is taking place from October through November 30 on the weekends, with Saturdays being the big target day and hours noon to 10pm. Most of the excitement takes place there after seven with live bands and pyrotechnics along with the Life Size Mousetrap, which, according to the press release, is "The worlds largest Mousetrap board game uses the tools of wonder and excitement to plant the seeds of curiosity with a 25 ton Rube Goldberg machine!"

Can't go wrong with that.

Here is a detail of the machine in stasis.

Hand-welded art like this is characteristic of the Crucible.

A little whimsy, a little talent, a little metal . . . .


Check out and for more details. Hey, did we say the event is free?


Come gather round ye bairns and waifs, landsmen and ladies, betrothed and bereft, schooled and unwise, scoundrels and gentlefolk of the Island, of these lands of California that were once upon a time deemed island as well, and all ye of foreign lands who have bruited rumors of this wondrous event.

Here now the tales of our annual revels of which renown has spread far and wide, or so we hear, and learn of mighty feats of arms and of glory and spectacular deeds that have astounded the gods and goddesses of heaven and earth as well as all humankind who has learned of the matters of which I now sing to you.

Good people pray heed - a petition.
Your attention I beg and I crave
And if you are inclined for to listen
An abundance of pastime we'll have.
I have come to relate many stories
Concerning our forefathers' times,
And I trust they will drive out your worries
Of this let us be of one mind.

Many tales of the poor and the gentry
Of labour and love will arise;
There are no finer songs in this country
In Oakland and Stockton likewise.
There's one thing more needing mention:
The dances we'll dance all in fun,
So now that you've heard our intention
We'll play on to the beat of the drum ...
{tabor, fife}

The Poodleshoot is a special occasion that takes place but once a year and is founded in age-old customs that some say were brought north from Mexico by way of Monterey centuries ago, and before that was derived of ancient practices of the Mayans, the Aztecs, and the legendary Firbolg, who, since they were seldom seen in the old Hebrides or the scampering heath of Trim, might just as well have bided their time remaining unseen and unfound in the regions about Tenochtitlan before the time of the Feathered Serpent.

None is alive now to tell that tale, and so perforce we must make do with the small parcel of Tradition that we now have.

As per Tradition, on the day of the 14th 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 across the firmament, leaving behind a sort of dew after her passage. Gently, she flushed, and gently she tugged upon the coverlet, 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.

Firmly she turned the dial so as to allow the sweet strains of muse Calliope to thrum the air as guided by the goddess Rosalie Howarth of KFOG, but Padriac snored and stirred not.

Then she gave him a mighty thwack, 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 once again down by the disputed Crab Cove where servants of the Dark Lord had been plotting to seize the land so as to build yet another series of Dark Fortresses not unlike Cirith Ungol. Yea, the place was in the multifaceted eye of the Developer of the Spider.

But the park as yet remained hale with its pleasant little exhibition center, albeit closed for the Holiday and the company assembled upon the sward undisturbed.

The affair began with the traditional playing of the Paraguay National Anthem, as arranged by Terry Gilliam, and performed by the Island Hoophole Orchestra accompanied by the Brickbat Targets chorale ensemble.

The ensemble group which has made something of a name for itself by inventing entirely new parts for voice, consisted of Mayor Marie and Councilperson Lena as soprano alla pique, Councilperson Rob as basso infernal -- reprising a remarkable role as Don Giovanni -- Councilperson Chen as Loki with his distinctive rubato tenor and Councilperson Beverly as mezzo soprano disdainful, with Councilperson Marilyn in her debut as alto triumphale. The whole company did a truely astounding version of PDQ Bach's Die Wechselnde Buergerhalle Stuehle in F#.

Many reviewers have called this piece amazingly impossible to accomplish. The East Bay Express found "this game of musical chairs is really funny." Karen D'Souza of the Contra Costa Times has called it "devilishly complicated" and "hard to believe," while Jim Harrington has called this performance, "the most appalling rubbish since the last time I wrote a mixed review. I never fully approve of anything but this gave badness a new name."

The Chronicle, always more reserved due to the heavy influence of conservative ACT in the City, has commented, "It should be interesting to see how well this thing floats in the future amid this stormy time for companies. Please, we cannot afford another Phaedra."

Of course, their theatre/music review got mixed up for that issue with the economic report and the elections special, so the meaning of that is up to interpretation.

In any case, after spirits had been revived with a sloshing round from the kegs, the Hoophole Orchestra launched the proceedings with spirited instrumentals. 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 Cacophony Quartet of Stacy and Greg Dehoedt together with Fruitbat and Godzilla injected liveliness on the Lars Ulrich Inkspritzer. Fruitbat leapt upon the keys of the organ console with dexterity while Godzilla tugged upon the bellows with his teeth, his tail flailing in counterpoint.

Tommy and Timmy of Park Avenue performed upon the Hydro-Potatomasher and the African zebra-fellator with defibrillation device.

Lou Cadme did a standup job upon the Howling Organ Increaser, while Carolyn Masters wowed everyone with the Flammable Pedalpushing Accordion. This complemented Kristin SweetMarie Coomber and Jessica McGowan-Vanderbeck, both with Incendiary Bustier Shriekerspritzers. Nice pair, those gals.

Jeannemarie Coulter contributed her skills upon the Tin Blathermouse with great effect and Jodet Paloma Ghougassian sounded affectingly sweet with the Mugwhump Twinkie-smasher upon Persian Carpet.

Jade of San Franciso performed upon the Inflateable Cross with Crossbow Zinger and furthermore offered to provide stage foundation makeup to any aspiring trannies needing professional help and an experienced hand.

Antimacassars and doilies were supplied by James Hargis.

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.

After the ritual pouring of Wild Turkey libations, the Official bugles were blown by Pat Kitson of Mountain View 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.

Like any decent faire in the Bay Area we too have booths loaded up with pricey tchotchkes and glossy take-home brochures. Corporate invitees Hallvarsson & Halvarsson, set up a welcome table, however some felt the company failed to understand the message of the Poodleshoot. Their material read, "Vilkommen till frukostseminarium: Varumirke, CSR och risk i tre frigor, samma sfir...".

Well, of course most of you probably have considered the same issue. We all want to minimize risk with robust communications but not at the expense of opaque acroynms like "CSR". In any case, Varmt vilkommen!

In any case, the 'shoot went swimmingly. This year's Washington Invitees included House Speaker Boehner and, as a balance of interests, former Rep. Wiener, the latter of whom it must be said, was quite the hit with the ladies around here. Along with a few gentlemen as well.

Another contingent of representatives from the White House arrived, but did not go out into the field. We will talk about this contingent later.

Wiener spent most of his time with a group that calls itself The Plaster Casters in the Native Son's Parlor hall, which had been converted into a hunting lodge, while Boehner hooked up with Archbishop Rattenfaenger, who had only agreed to return upon assurances that Dick Buckshot Cheney would not be firing off any lethal weapons in the State of California.

He was mollified upon the assurance that only persons willing to obtain a legal hunting license for the area would be allowed within the perimeter.

Sarah Palin also was not invited back. As someone commented, perhaps a bit unkindly, "That bitch is gettin' old."

This year a great effort was provided to prevent the sort of chaos which had corrupted previous shoots, which, instead of the organized slaughter of nasty creatures (anyone who has been on a boar hunt can understand this) has decayed into catastrophic mayhem.

So this year a small detachment of blue-helmet UN Peacekeepers were brought in. Because of the length of the flight, the liberality of in-flight beverages, and general UN constitutions, most of the Peacekeepers wound up in a cordon surrounding the outhouses on the Strand. Only the Irish members possessed bladders firm enough to venture beyond that quarter. The Irish Republic members had already seen enough to turn anybody's bowels into cast iron.

For the longest while the UN Peacekeepers seemed like overkill. For the first time in years things seemed to be going smoothly. All the problems of previous years, due to harsh economics, bitterness, sense of hopelessness and fear and anxiety, all that felt oddly missing. Hunters moved through the crisp air that always follows a sequence of heavy rains in the winter here, the brown leaves all gathered in the gutters still running with effluvient days afterward as the Island slowly drained itself, the skies all bulbous with clouds during the day after the slate-gray mornings and the boots swishing along through the grass, ducks and geese overhead, the ocean lapping not far away, much as it had in those days when you went out with your dad in the hills up near your uncle's place to hunt mule deer or racoons or whatever. Much as it had been back then, you with your 22L with that special wooden stock you got last xmas and your father there, explaining things, showing you the places where the water bubbled up magically from between the stones, the stones everyone had arrange there as a kind of shrine or something in those woods, smelling, yes! So fresh!

Was this not the time of peace and the way things ought to be? And the end of the day with your father and the visiting Perada family, their father and yours talking about the old days, the days before the Corps of Engineers blocked up all the feeder streams to the American River, halting the massive steelhead runs, the massive steelhead runs which had drawn people from all over for the priviledge of hooking one single steelhead, one single fish after fishing 8-12 hours, one single fish that happened to weigh somewhere near 65 to 70 pounds but which would give you the fight of your life, by god for the next four hours at least.

Those were the days.

You could step out back behind the house in Antioch and shoot yourself dinner. What you hungry? Step out back and bag yourself enough venison with a 32-20 in minutes to last you days. It was the time of peace. Before everything changed.

Yet on this 14th Poodleshoot in the year 2012, it soon became evident that not a poodle could be seen anywhere upon the island far and wide and wondrous was that to behold. In vain Officer O'Mahauen stopped vehicle after vehicle to issue citations for rusty wipers, missing turn signal lenses, driving too slow for traffic, speeding, carrying an unsecured child seat with no child, all to locate possible poodle smugglers.

Flashbangs heard toward the East End revealed only Rep. Boehner popping off with the Archbishop at images of Che Guevera and Cesar Chavez by the bicycle bridge. The two had just been plinking and drinking 12 year old scotch.

"We in the church are much enamored of 12 year olds," said the Archbishop.

Boehner, a rock ribbed Protestant Conservative was not amused. "Look, I am only hanging out with you so as to fit in with the times. You got the Supreme Court but you aint gettin' my little Johnny . . .".

"There you are hiding!" a voice said. It was Joe Bob Bingle of the radical Pee Tardy Party. "Hiding like a rat after selling us down the river!"

"Listen punk! You cost us the election against a very beatable opponent with your shrieking, hysterical nonsense!" Boehner said. "Eff you!"

Supporters from the Pee Tardy showed up to face off against Boehner's militant arm of the New Project for the American Century. It was brownshirts against black armbands and things looked pretty ugly as the two sides called each other vile names and accused each other of having caused the recent electoral debacle.

The Pee Tardy folks started chanting "Mitt's a sh-t! Mitt's a sh-t!" and brought out their secret weapons, a brace of pink-dyed miniature poos.

Boehner turned to his Secret Service detail and said, "Deal with them." Before leaving. Like any true rock-ribbed Conservative elitist, he left dirty work to the lesser folk to handle. As House Speaker he had better things to do than discipline a pack of unruly doggies.

The Pee Tardy Party came at the Rockribbed Conservatives with lowered lances while mounted upon seways as the Conservatives circled their golf carts, driving off the initial attack with missle weapons in the form of golf balls and well-served tennis.

The Pee Tardy folks, lacking discipline save for holding stubbornly to their dictum of no compromise found themselves driven back by the square-set jaws of the Conservatives as they sallied forth in Locust Valley formation.

This way and that the lines wavered until it all descended, as these sorts of things usually do, into a melee of atavistic savagery where all rule and governance is abandoned to the state of anarchy -- which is, after all, the natural result of eliminating all government.

Many were the fallen on both sides that day, and many would learn on the following morning the lamentable limits of their supposedly ironclad health insurance agreements, most of which forbade coverage for injuries sustained as a result of acts of war. Fortunately, due to Obamacare, all of them were eligible without exception to re-up for more reasonable healthcare coverage.

Nevertheless, other than this melee, nary a poodle was to be found on the island.

In dismay the hunters collected back at Crab Cove where Reverend Freethought of the Unitarian Church was in deep discussion with Rebbe Hortense of Beth Israel.

The hunters issued their plaint and asked what to do and lo! the White House contingent did appear and it was the First Lady with her daughter Malia. And the girlchild spoke unto the assembled multitude and said, "Put down your arms and make of your swords plowshares and know that all the world will observe your deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness."

With that, a black helicopter descended so as to whisk away the White House representatives to their own family gathering.

And so, as the UN Peacekeepers approached and surrounded what came to be known as the Bicycle Bridge Melee, the sun set on the 14th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ, where fortunately a large store of ahi had been set aside as well as box after box after box of supplies for Ms. Almeida's Portuguese bacalhau, the only reputable dish in the world that still employs Norwegian salt cod. That is how it came to be that the hunters of the 14th Poodleshoot came to dine upon seared tuna and lutefisk, while the Pee Tardy folks noshed upon cold K-rations while deliberating such unrealities as succession and the planet of origin for Father Christmas.

That is the way it was on the Island this Thanksgiving. Have a great holiday season.



NOVEMBER 18, 2012


This week's photo of the famous Watermelon Rock was sent us courtesy of Carol, who remains a survivor at the notorious St. Charles Lunatic Asylum next to Pagano's Hardware. We found out that Carol did not take the photo, which was knipsed in fact by Analisa Harangozo and then posted on Facebook. It is, however, an image at which we have marvelled for many decades now.

The odd fruit along the shoreline has been amusing and, seemingly irking, Islanders for well over 30 years. As the paint scheme fades, someone -- no one knows who -- comes by to refresh the colors. Not even the Park district, which has maintenance control over the shoreline, knows who takes care of this East Bay, um . . . jewel (?)

We found that the rock was first painted as an orange slice by Sandra Gibson on her 16th birthday on a whim after returning from a driver's test at Hegenberger in Oakland. The rock actually earned an Official Letter of Complaint from an unknown drudge who said the rock spoiled the natural beauty of the shorline area, which also hosts a fair amount of industrial detritus along with quonset huts and repurposed airline hangars in that neighborhood. The rock was painted black, but did not live long in such a state, as unknown persons successively painted the stone originally embedded there as part of anti-erosion riprap into the images of kiwis, lemons, and back to its original orange slice.

For a while, other rocks in the neighborhood were painted as various fruits and, notoriously, a block of swiss cheese.

The watermelon image has remained the most popular, and several generations of kids passing this landmark on the way to and from the airport on the "back way" have known the rock in no other form. Several locals have commented they have observed a family or families doing touch up on the rock, so it seems that the object has become a bit of a local community project which gets passed on down the line from one generation to the next.

We think it is entirely appropriate that the rock greets folks coming in from the airport, as if to say, "Welcome to the Warmer Side of the Bay."


Looks like the periodic weather that characterizes North Bay life in wintertime has set in for ernest. After this weekend's soggy atmosphere we are looking at semi-clear skies until Wednesday, when yet more wet stuff is forecast to move on in. Auburn's got a full two days of rain but just a 10% chance on the Big Day, while the ski resorts are seeing warmer than average temps forecast. Skiers best had bet on waiting a day or so to see if the SoCal temps forecast for 70 to 80 degrees will dampen their schussing.

The general outlook for the Golden State is for rain, and a good deal of it, taking place during the main travel dates for arrival, while things ought to clear up on the day and the weekend after. Don't prolong your stay wherever you go, as we see another storm front coming in to moisten the following Monday.

It is a Holiday weekend for drivers in the Golden State, so you know what that means. Drive as if they are out to get you and are too incompetant on the road to get it done right.


It was with dismay and shock we learned of the nearly Dickensian events taking place at 1624 Foley Avenue on the Island, where an increasingly, and distressingly, familiar story was about to be played out before being shunted into a momentary and humanitarian hiatus.

Jodie Randolph, owner of the property at that location, was about to be evicted from her home after coming into financial distress due to successive boughts against cancer.

In America, Mitt Romney's America, this is the usual game plan: a person with full insurance coverage gets sick, has to pay many thousands of dollars in copays, loses their job because they cannot go to work, has to pay exhorbitant "premiums" called fittingly by the poisonous name COBRA so as to maintain the minimum of health coverage, exhausts their savings and goes into debt to pay for health costs and deductibles, fails to make house payments on houses kept in the family for generations and winds up out on the street, evicted and deathly ill. It's the GOP Health Care Plan -- now just die.

The nasty truth about "good" health insurance is that it is good only as long as your special priviledge circumstances continue. The vast majority of Americans, no matter how wealthy or how well insured, live only one paycheck away from the poorhouse.

We know this personally. We missed four days. Just four days of work. We were promptly put on COBRA and issued a monthly bill for $700. This on top of copays and deductibles.

It is an outrage that in a supposedly civilized country, the wealthiest in the world, our health system rates worse than Zimbabwe, or Cuba, a third world banana republic dictatorship.

A country whose substantial help offer of well over 100 physicians with assistants during the Katrina disaster was refused because, well, Cuba is supposed to be a Communist dicatorship. And the President was You Know Who at the time.

Fortunately a group of folks have gathered to help Jodie Randolph, who after beating back breast cancer in 2008, had been successfully defeating colon cancer amid a flurry of paperwork that ensued when her original house loan lender was aquired by a Morgan Stanley subsidiary in 2010.

Oddly enough it was not a case of missed payments, but of missed court dates assigned during critical chemo treatments that caused the letter to her of notification that she was no longer owner of her home.
We suspect that the real reason for the hard-heartedness here is that the property, when you look on a map, is cheek-by-jowl next to the proposed -- and disputed -- new development near the Tube at Tilden Way. An historic old house was removed from this area recently so as to provide room for development, and the property backs the area where former Good Toyota had planned to extend their business until defeated by zoning requirements. The history indicates these blocks between Tilden and Buena Vista are likely to all become lightning rods for the bolts of extreme greed that collects around land issues.

If you own a home in there, you had better make damn sure you have all your t's crossed and all your i's dotted on every document of note or you can just kiss it all goodbye. This is not just about one house but an entire neighborhood and potentially, a good deal more than that.

The group of neighbors who have gathered to help Ms. Randolph calls itself the Occupy Oakland Foreclosure Group, and consists of people who came out of the original Occupy movement to create localized committees dedicated to protecting people in a realistic manner. This group is far more intelligent, organized, aware, and together than the vaguely distracted Occupy groups in the past and if this effort to handle public image marketing succeeds, may be a measure of things to come in the future. Right now a continuous watch is being kept on the porch of Ms. Randolph's house so as to shame any possible eviction effort, while at the same time a public relations effort is being collected locally and nationally. Individuals wishing to speak their mind can contact

John Sheldon
Morgan Stanley Executive Director, San Francisco
and tell him to stop the eviction of Jodie Randolph at 1624 Foley Avenue, Alameda, CA 94501.


We learned with pleasure that the strike at Raley's/Nob Hill has ended with what appears to be concessions in favor of the workers. Most folks already knew that and know that the revised contract will be voted upon by rank and file in a few days.

According to the official statement by UFCW#5,

"Specific details of the agreement are being held pending a vote of the membership. Pursuant to the return to work agreement picket lines will come down immediately, replacements are out and members can contact their stores about shifts. There will no retaliation against members for exercising their right to strike. "
Incidentally, it is logical in highly charged circumstances for Unions to replace pickets with voluneers from outside the area so as to avoid personal intimidation, retaliation, and emotional flashpoints on the line. This is to answer a letter to the Editor in the Journal where someone commented they did not recognize individuals on the line. Unexperienced people need to understand this kind of dispute can get quite mean, quite vicious, and quite violent.

The pro-management leaflet which circulated (heck, we are always willing to look at the other side) stated that management had always offered health benefits and wages ranged from $9-$24 for full-time clerks. A closer analysis revealed that the leaflet did not reference part-time, did not indicate what percentage of workers were attempting to live in the notoriously expensive Bay Area on $9/hour, and to what extent the workers were responsible for covering their own health coverage and at what level of coverage. We do know informally that in the Bay Area workers are generally offered a 50%+ shopping discount (an anti-pilferage incentive) in-house, and that informal reports indicated a somewhat lesser discount to Raley's employees. Generally speaking, we can say that the official company line said pretty much nothing at all and could be disregarded as uniformative.

The first labor conflict in the 77 year history of Raley's began with a walkout on November 4th, however circumstances point to a management stonewall which had gambled on a Presidential Election outcome far different than what actually transpired. The contract negotiations had wallowed for a good 15 months, It is almost certain that management counted on a solid anti-union administration in Washington, along with what it percieved as pervasive anti-union sentiment subsequent to the recent Minnesotta events, in its effort to destroy the union entirely. Union leadership postponed a strike so as to avoid collaborating with Conservative interests seeking to influence the outcome of the Presidential Election.

As it turned out, Management did not cave so much as recognise the realities of trying to bull through a normally lucrative Holiday season in mid-strike. The solitary incident in which a union leader was arrested under disputed circumstances sounds too much like manufactured story on both sides, so we can put that one aside. We really doubt a union official physically assaulted a management employee who was surrounded by armed guards and we doubt that any union offical would enter a contentious zone under strike conditions unaccompanied and alone expecting nothing would happen is a reasonable story as well.

We only hope the guy out on disability does get his paycheck, as we know personally how bad the situation can be and we hope that everyone can now have a happy and safe Thanksgiving Holiday.


Alice's Restaurant may serve up anything you wish, excepting Alice, but the Food Bank needs donations to serve up some 7,000 people this holiday season. Mr. Leeper and company, serving food out to Islanders since 1976 from the trailer off Constitution Way and the warehouse out on the Point, traditionally provide a turkey and fixings to all deserving residents each year willing to wait in line, and ever since the year 2000 the line has only gotten longer. In past years, generous "angels" have stepped in, but this year the non-profit organization is feeling the pinch of greater demand as a consequence of the Great Recession with its notorious "jobless recovery." We are not sure who exactly is recovering if people are still without work, wages remain stagnant, and people go hungry, but you can contribute dollars to the link at If you want to earn some good Karma points you can volunteer by contacting Samantha at or you can call her at 510-523-5850.

Which reminds us, starting 01/01/13 Alameda County will require all grociers to charge for single use plastic and paper bags, so start hoarding your grocery bags and take your extras over to the Food Bank, as they will sorely need them.


So anyway a dockwalloper set in for a day or so, just long enough to drench things into a glorious misery of sodden sandwiches of leaves and wallpaper, propelling this season into the long dark spirl howling with legions of disappointed banshees as it slushes up into a slough of despond which twists and curves through the sawgrass days past the regrettable Foolable of Lights with all its dredels and gates of Hay and the rough beast slouching off to Bethlehem until the bottlerockets and incendiary reminders of wretched rice paddy fears with tracers and claymores finally burps into the lamentable New Year.

Ahhh, the Hollarday Season is upon us along with all the gifts and drugs that accompany Seasonal Affective Disorder.

O joy.

if folks didn't mind the coat lint picked up from the London Fog method of transport

Over at Marlene and Andre's the Household is struggling to get through another one with as little damage as possible. This year, Marlene has decided to attack the beast with a frontal assault of organization. She has her MS Project and her Powerpoint and Windows xp finally working now that its replacement is two generations passed. Only way to get anything free around here is when the thing becomes old hat.

Which is fine, as the main thing is that she has her MS Project plan with the dates for the decorations and persons assigned to obtain them, either by direct theft or unobstrusive aquisition. There is the Thanksgiving feast, which generally involves a sort of pot luck dependent upon the luck of people who work the banquets at several Bay Area hotels. One year they had scored several stuffed skirt steaks and beef Wellingtons from the Teatro Zinzani, which had been a delicious coupe -- if folks didn't mind the coat lint picked up from the London Fog method of transport. A delightful burgundy sauce created largely with 5 liter box wine had washed most of that clean. In fact, the result had been so tasty Snuffles had borrowed someone's dentures so as to with his ruined mouth nosh with pleasure.

The Household headed by Marlene, Admin Assistant, and Andre, punk rock guitarist, featured a typical assembly of folks gathered together by reason of the usurious rents charged in the Bay Area, which had climbed far in excess of incomes to match the rising expectation pace of greed which had been set a while ago by the land boom, begun in the 1980's but now long since bust in terms of real opportunity.

A great number still felt that health insurance was the same as health coverage

Now the year had lumbered through the pre-teens of the decade and as we all approached Oh-thirteen, everything felt tired and used. After a bitter electoral season common sense had more or less prevailed, although a tremendous amount of idiocy remained to misgovern the land. Untold millions of absolute idiots believed the earth was no more than five thousand years old, although not a single one of them could count beyond 115 and scads of imbeciles insisted on creationist nonsense. A great number still felt that health insurance was the same as health coverage and that their own "plans" were the cats pyjamas instead of the tomfool chicanery it really would turn out to be should any of them get honestly sick or injured.

Suddenly the entire Eastern Seaboard realized this global warming thing is not a joke, not a liberal plot, not a political football, and not something inconsequential for now, as the power went out, the cranes toppled, the flood waters filled the HOlland Tunnel, and everyone realized there is hella more of the same coming down the pike where this one came from.

Guess Al Gore was right all along. Too late now ...

Eventually people would figure out this problem with health "insurance" being different from heath coverage, but of course, as for Nancy Reagan, realization concerning the problem would come too late when it came at all. For what in America in the latter part of the year 2012 was there anything to be thankful? That we didn't act quite as effing stupid as the rest of the world takes us to be?

Perhaps it is that we have put aside disaster for now, painted the right sign on the doorpost so the angel of death as passed over this once, laid in sufficient stores with the help of dear friends to avert a season of want.

Mr. Howitzer would never take advantage of it, for he had died

Down in the basement, the exploring Martini found with Tipitini a treasure trove of stores set there by the first Mr. Howizter as supplies to get by during the Nuclear Winter that would ensue when the USSR launched its missles. It was a Fallout Shelter store that somehow never got completed, since the inhabitants of the little house were not considered worth the cost of preservation at the time. At that time or ever, perhaps. Another, better shelter resided under the house on Grand Street to be sure, however that Mr. Howitzer would never take advantage of it, for he had died chasing a wind-blown ten spot across the street into the path of a bus.

Most of the stuff down there turned out to be inedible, save for can after can of preserved peaches, which the two tenants hauled up out into the kitchen for use by Marlene, who said they would make good pie filling. The MRE's got taken to the tool shed after both Bongo and Johnny Cash sniffed at the chipped beef and refused to touch it..

It was a philosophy that insisted that success meant you were superior

Mr. Howitzer had never trusted the Hippies, or anyone remotely redolent of Hippies, or indeed anything that evoked the idea that California, long an island in the world, had been enjoined to become the world itself, and not by dint of migration or invasion, but by the will of its own native sons, who loathed the patriarchal self-limitations which had required the physical barriers of the deserts, the mountains, and the sea to stay stubbornly and artificially involuted like a mobian strip or a euroboric snake devouring itself. It was a philosophy that insisted that success meant you were superior and somehow different and somehow deserved everything, including the right to press your heel down on someone else. Until the earth shakes, when all bets are off and no amount of success can keep the foundations you labored so long to erect up and solid and unquestioned.

it was forbidden to speak the man's name ever again

The Ohlone knew well the futility of building monuments. They burned everything when a man passed on, his body, his house, his bed, all his belongings as if to say, no amount of lucites, no edifices, no great projects or dreams will persist beyond your lifetime, only the memory of the good you have done others. Even then, according to Tradition, it was forbidden to speak the man's name ever again. Don't you talk about me when I am gone, goes the message.

In the Old Same Place Bar, Denby is getting ready for the season when musicians, entertainers, magicians, charletans of all types make their money. For it is said, he who has no gig on New Years Eve is a poor man indeed in this business and this Life.

The Man from Minot was in there with a girl who came out of the Valley and he could not wait to get this young thing back to his rooms. She wore a loose white blouse and tight blue jeans and boots of Spanish leather. She had been born and raised in Sunol and she wanted to know why Denby chose the Blues to play all the time. "What's up with the Blues? How come all the Boomers love the Blues? Why you choose the Blues?"

Denby, for response laughed and laughed and laughed and this really put out the girl from Sunol.

"Aint nobody choose the Blues, not never. The Blues choose you."

This, the girl from Sunol did not understand.

Yes, my friend, the greatest of gifts is Love

That night Pastor Nyquist of the Immanuel Lutheran Church wrote a note he had in mind to send to Pastor Rotschue, he of the radio ministry to which he Pedro listened while out at sea. "My friend you sounded so doubtful last time we spoke. Stand firm and let me remind you that there are these great virtues, which I think can also be called gifts, called Faith and Hope and Charity, but among these the greatest by far is Love. Yes, my friend, the greatest of gifts is Love and for that gift alone we need be thankful. Yes, for each one of use, believer and unbeliever alike, if we possess but Love, we have so much for which to be thankful."

In the bower of their bedroom, Ms. Morales threw her arm over Mr. Ramirez and the two snuggled and spooned like two hedgehogs under the harvest moon, but Pastor Nyquist did not see this in his reverie.

As he sat there over the writing desk, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the blues-tinted waves of the estuary laving against the riprap shore with its Watermelon Rock and then over the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided from the gantries of the Port past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the mountains to parts unknown.

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

NOVEMBER 11, 2012(Regular Edition)


This delightful image of the Frank Bette Center for the Arts was taken by Chad a while back. We have had a couple quick dockwallopers and more recently a little sizzler on the wharves to sweeten the air.

And over this painterly layout, the bright promise neveragain of the rainbow.


Well by now most of you have recovered from your beverages of choice, supplied with either a sigh of relief or of incomprehension.

Here are a few shots from around the world in reaction to what happened last Tuesday.

The headline for Der Spiegel states flatly, "Obama re-elected as President", but the opinion piece below states tellingly, "Okay now -- Please We Would Like Change"

From France's Le Monde, we have these: "Obama Re-elected American President", "Barack Obama, 'four more years'," "The Explosion of Partisan Joy," and "Who is this guy, Obama?"

Al Jazeera called it before anybody, reporting live they indicated that Obama had won before half of the "swing states" had even checked in.

We don't like to gloat, well, maybe we do a little bit. Even Murdoch's Fox News was forced to admit a reality they no way could spin 180 degrees. Although they dug their heels in and did try with Glenn Beck astoundingly claiming Obama had won by "supressing the vote," a tactic more associated with GOP machinations than anything else.

In the end, the "swing-vote" people did not want to risk a return to Bush Error days, felt frightened by the shrill extremism of the more radical elements of the Republican Party -- which no GOP leader of any stature has yet denounced -- and felt a distrust of the Romney vagueness that appeared, when policies were most defined, to be identical to that of Obama's administration.

Some people did not want any of the Romney war-mongering, as the current Mid-East collection of conflicts has long since exceeded the attention span of a sound bite. Some people really revolted against Romney's promise to destroy Medicare and gut Social Security by shifting responsiblity from an entity which can at least guarantee to meet obligations for the next thirty years to private entities which have proven to fail to meet financial obligations for any term longer than six months.

And to tell the truth, a whole lot of people consisting of what used to be classed as "minorities" now comprise the majority and they all felt excluded from the Romney vision of America.


Okay now onto the really important stuff. No surprises in California regarding representation as Senator Feinstein and Representative Pelosi never really were at risk of an upset. Barbara Lee won handily in our heavily Democratic district while the contest between two Democrats had feisty Pete Stark heading for the door, defeated by challenger Eric Swalwell who at 31 may have more legs on him than the 80 year old Stark. He certainly watches his tongue more than the mercurial and atagonistic Stark so we shall see how he fares in the bare-knuckle arena that is now national politics.


As for Propositions, there were some disappointments and some bigger reliefs.

A relief for some, Prop 30 passed, while 38 got shot down, which means Governor Brown's "nuclear option" of robo-cuts will not take place and the universities can start rolling back fee increases which had threatened to provoke a small insurrection among the Golden State's youth.

In a curious -- and humorous sidelight -- popular comedian Jon Stewart commented on California's elections, and in particular on Prop 30, by pretending to weep, exclaiming, "California, you have decided to raise money and spend within your means! You are growing up! You are becoming just like your dad! I am so proud . . .".

Prop 38 was created and funded by wealthy special interest individuals and about 75% of California saw it for what it was.

The anti-union 32, and the Mercury Insurance initiative Prop 33 both also got seen by the majority as boondoggles for special interests.

Sad to say the Death penalty remains in effect here, losing by about 4.5 percentage points, indicating that people still are swayed by hardliners regarding .

People got swayed by emotional appeals and the rather formidible phalanx of support groups in favor of the extremely poorly written "human trafficking" Prop 35, which is almost certainly going to return to bite each one of us in our collective liberty rears if Mark Leno does not come up with a way to modify this baggage of ill-thought ideas wedded to a decent cause.

It would have been nice if Prop 37 had passed, which asked that food be labeled as to orign appropriately, however we suspect if the issue is really important it will come around again.

Here is cause for fiscal as well as humanitarian rejoycing - Proposition 36 modified the Three Strikes law to allow a more reasonable and calculated prisoner release system in the face of our current budgetary woes. And it also pulls us back from the Dickensian scenario of people being sentenced to life in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Sure if a guy commits a crime, he still does the time, but life for a loaf? Really that revision was long overdue.

Props 39 and 40 were essentially no-brainers and 75% of the electorate realized that. Companies doing business in California must pay taxes here; end of story. We have a powerfully compelling sales market in possessing 38 million inhabitants, so we will remain attractive no matter what the "harsh business climate" folks say.

Prop 40 simply repeated what Californians had demanded three times previously already. Yes, we want redistricting and we want it done our way, not the way of the politicos.


In the County, it looks like folks rebelled against the notion of handing taxpayer money to private interests managing the zoo, downing A1 by a slim margin against the required 2/3rds majority.

Measure A1 — Oakland Zoo: 62.69% yes; 37.31% no (Two-thirds majority)

Measure B1 — Transportation: 65.54% yes; 34.46% no (Two-thirds majority)

We must have been in an anti-tax mood, as Measure B1 also failed to pass, by an even narrower margin.

For the temporary county BOS seat, Richard Valle beat out notorious Bad Girl Mary Hayashi who garnered barely under 24% after being caught shoplifting earlier in the year. Some excuse may be granted for Hayashi, who apparently was suffering from the effects of a brain tumor which caused disorientation in the woman. No such excuse can be granted for Nadia Lockyer, the forcibly vacated Supe who got tangled in a Valley of the Dolls style scandal repleat with sex and drugs and nasty divorce.

In short, the sooner that Valle can make all of this go away and help govern a county of some 2 million souls the better.

The game of switching chairs on the Island has begun. With Rob Bonta doing a fast leap out of his Council seat to State Assembly (over Abe Guillen), former Mayor Beverly moving out of her council seat to a perm job for the State under Brown's administration, we have three vacancies being filled by Marilyn Ezzy Ashcroft (can we say "I told you so" now?) followed by a sort of ghost from the past, dark horse Tony Daysog, who came out of some years of sideline watching to capture a slot and create a council the composition of which looks novel and refreshing, a subject on which Blogging Bayport commented recently. See Article

"... come December, there will not be one white male sitting on the City Council dais, with the exception of John Russo, but he’s not an elected officer.... with the addition of Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Tony Daysog and perhaps Stewart Chen if the vote holds for Rob Bonta, we will have a Council with three Asian Pacific Island Americans, one African American, and one Arab-American."

We have indeed come a long way from the days when Grand Street was the unofficial dividing line between the East Islanders and the West Islanders.

We are not going to sorrow over people whom we think may have been better choices, but call on everyone to pull together and get this Island through some difficult times with can-do spirit.

Same goes for the Unified District School Board, where Trish Spencer, Barbara Kahn, and Niel Tam all overcame a far more bitterly fought campaign for the type of seats they occupy than was warrented. So maybe Spencer is not what we would have liked, however now she has returned to her USD seat, lets hold the fire to her soles and keep her honest. No more kowtowing to nasty Neanderthals denying the facts of evolution and bullying. This is not a matter of labels but of doing what is right for the kids. If we wound up in the national Top 100, there must be something the incumbants were doing right.

Battani and McCormick were re-elected to the Hospital Board, which is just as well, as things have started to improve over there. Short of a Miracle Angel benefactor granting a bequest to the place, we can hardly think of anything that will suddenly lift the organization out of trouble. Slow and steady is the way.

Finally, Measure D passed with an overwhelming majority, forever preserving public parklands from backroom trades and sneaky deals without the public voting on the issue -- another cause for celebration.

That was it. That was the National Election of 2012. You will not have to bear another sign or mailer or robocall until 2014. To the losers we offer condolences and to all the winners we offer impact goggles and plexiglas riot shields, 'cause you are going to need them.


So anyway, the place is drifting into a pattern of rain on Thursdays, with chilly Gustav Dore clouds etched into the skies above the rest of the week. A little sunshine comes in there, but not enough to halt the Socal transplants from their incessant complaining about the terrible weather up here.

It must be all of 55 degrees for heaven's sakes.

Now that the election ballyhoo is all done with for a while, the few civic minded who ran for office have sent out their sign elves to remove the detritus. Those who don't really care left all the signs up and are still sending mailers so we will all know who they are the next time.

Now the rain comes to tear all those campaign promises to shreds and the losers stand with their hands in their pockets letting the inevitable fall down on their heads and run along creases down their necks while waiting for the bus, because it is impossible to hail a cab in this town and the finances for the limos have all evaporated. People like Babar stand around, shuffling their feet in wonder that nobody seems to love them or their ideas about sending America on a different course, one that would have been firmer, disciplined, marching with shiny boots, etc. Babar's thinkers had come up with the idea of having a guard detail in front of City Hall marching back and forth with stiff legs like the soldiers had ramrod spines but no knees, but somebody said this sort of thing resembled an Old Style, so the idea had been quashed.

Babar still does not understand it. With his hat slouched down over his eyes and his dripping raincoat, he headed for the old watering hole.

Down at the Old Same Place Bar, Papoon ponied up for a drink between the two of them.

"Can only do this one time," Papoon said. "We are all going to have to start living within our means and there will be no more free rides."

"How un-American." Babar shuddered.

"Someone is going to have to start chipping in to the pot," Papoon said. "The same pot from which they have been pulling for so many years."

"The successful and the wealthy have made America what it is," Babar said. "By dint of almighty Capital. They have a right to enjoy the fruits of their labors."

"Yes, and the labors of so many others as well, I take it." Papoon said. "That is fine. Now let's have a little payback friend. So as to balance the books on give and take. I take it your Party used to be all about a Balanced Budget."

"We have a different idea about the distribution. Anyone who can play the game is allowed to do so -- I believe that is Democracy."

"I know. That is why you did not get elected." Papoon said. "That and the fact that not everybody is allowed upon the tennis court, because the rules in your game say everyone must first wear white shoes and white shorts."

"Uniforms in business are de rigeur everywhere," Babar said. "There is no one in their right mind of any consequence who would attend a Board Meeting without wearing the right tie."

"Like Steve Jobs? Nevermind. It's a new game now. There is Twitter. There is the Internet. There is telecommuting and there is Bollywood. The Gagnam style is sweeping the world and nobody wants their veggies boiled into mush anymore. Now even LA requires a condom be put on every actor in the business. Times have changed my friend and only those who know how to jump will survive the new game. Venus has entered the court -- everybody knows it -- and now the tennis courts are owned by another power. Love now rules the game once determined by avarice."

While this discussion was going on, Denby was setting up his gear -- a bit hampered by reason of operating out of a wheelchair up in the Snug.

Every bar has a snug. It's the carpeted place where individuals go to abandon the meet-market and the fake community of others, where one goes to apply to serious drink or to one's instrument if one is a musician. This one featured a banquet of dark brown long-pile carpeting in a dark unlit recess. It was Padraic's token nod to the Muse of music for a stage. Since he never paid the bands a sou, he thought at least he would make them comfortable.

Also taking place was a meeting between members of Marlen and Andre's Household who were seeking employment at the Annual Thanksgiving Poodleshoot and BBQ, which had grown over time to feature a cast of thousands and several days of mayhem wanting some kind of assistance.

Times were hard. Sub-minimum wage would do, supplimented by meals. That is how bad things had got.

Finally Denby got himself set up and gave a little speech through the mike, apologizing for the technical delays. "This bein' the eve of Veteran's Day, I thought I would sing a little song for you. It's in G5 with some minors, if anybody like Pat Donohue wants to do it thats fine. I expect its like me -- it won't go far.

When you took up a gun
and shot someone back then
they fell down for fun
then got right back up again
cause you'd catch holy hell
if you didn't answer the dinner bell
you and your brother, answered the bell

during the war whoop games
you were the army's best friend
you were destined for fame
he was always the indian
you wanted to prove them at school
you were nobody's fool
You and your brother -- nobody's fool

life is what happens when you're
busy making other plans

life is what happens when you're
busy making other plans

jenny's rabbit died, jimmy ran with thugs
the economy tanked, they both got married
jimmy robbed the liquor store for pride and for drugs
on a cold gray morning jenny miscarried.
while hippies and libbers protested the war,
your father shouted and slammed shut the door
your virtuous father slammed shut the door

life is what happens when you're
busy making other plans

life is what happens when you're
busy making other plans

so you joined the army, a little underage
your daddy helped with the papers
so you could join the crusades
to save america from all those who had wavered
from going to vietnam and killing the commies
so a battalion of kids said goodbye to their mommies
a battalion of children said goodbye to their mommies

in saigon angry officers caught most of them
but you slipped past somehow
you were determined to show all of 'em
your duty, and courage, and honor ... now
beside the racetrack you stood up in the firefight
and an AK-47 snuffed out your light
an AK-47 snuffed out your light

Life is what happens when you're
busy making other plans

Life is what happens when you're
busy making other plans

(final verse, largo)
Its been now well over four decades
your brother went to jail; we're all a little older
no one remembers the children's crusade
but now i'm hearing the same talk - we must be bolder
its like we're walking the same walk, down the same hall
it's like we're talking the same talk, down the same hall
and your name never even made it onto the Wall
your name never made it onto the Wall

death is what happens when you're
busy making other plans

death is what happens when you're
busy making other plans

Far out beyond the Golden Gate Pedro scanned the sonar, tried to pull in his favorite station, but not much showed up on either. Technical glitches. The ship-to-shore still worked but he would have to make this run without the voice of his favorite radio preacher near. With no sonar, he would be running blind into the night, dropping his lines by coordinates in the old style, by memory of where the best grounds were to be found, guided by the stars and by sheer luck of the fisherman.

At first he felt bereft of the sound of someone he took to be his personal friend, that comforting voice which had transported him through the hours. Then he felt this sense of extraordinary freedom. He, Pedro, could be anything now. He pulled out his old harpoon from its wrapped bandanna in his pocket and the flask from his weatherproof.

For tonight, he would be a blues fisherman, fishing the deep blue.

Blues in a bottle
Blues in a bottle
Gosh darn my bad luck soul
Blues in a bottle, stopper in my hand
Pour the blues out the bottle
pour them into the man

After a while, the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the blues-tinted waves of the estuary laving against the riprap shore and then over the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the soulful mountains to parts unknown.

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



NOVEMBER 11, 2012(Special Edition)



This is a pre-release special issue. Because some of you just could not wait to start preparing for the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot and BBQ. Here are the rules. The main issue, with election analysis, comes out later today (11/11/12).

NOVEMBER 4, 2012


This week's photo comes from a stoop on the island where somebody has created a nod to the video game Angry Birds.

Seems those darned piggies crop up every where with persistence.


It may be a coincidence that Island-Life experienced a brief outage last week and the issues presenting electoral endorsements had just come out, but in any case we are back up and running with more additions.

Readers looking to catch up on past monologue stories will be gratified to know that we are hard at work putting up the 2012 versions to the "13 years of Hijinks". Much in our dyslexic manner, we started in the middle, with months January to March still to finish, along with what happens November to the end of days. These stories, featuring Marlene and Andre and their household of misfits, the usual suspects in the Old Same Place Bar, Mr. Howitzer, the manservant Dodd, Sgt. Rumsbum, all the sailors on Capt. Mohammed's Iranian spy sub, and the humble fisherman, Pedro Almeida with his family, can be found in the sidebar "Island Stories." Each vignette is in eaty to read HTML. Early stories have PDF downloadable links.


By the time many of you read this (looking at reader habits over the past year, most visitors hit the pages here Wednesday and Thursday) it will be all over save for the screaming and the crying as far as the elections goes.

We did not issue a precise endorsement, or perhaps we were unclear, but Island-life strongly urges all those who can vote to get out there and re-elect Obama if only for the sole reason that the country would be severely damaged by any sort of retrenchment back toward Bush Error days. We cannot afford another war, we cannot afford to pull back health care reform, and we cannot afford to return to ruinous economic policies which have propelled the country into the Great Recession and to near disaster beyond.

Romney and his crew made money during America's agony, even as all of our wages remained stagnant for ten years and longer, engaging in sharkish vulture capitalism via Bain Capital. His colleagues and associates feature creatures just like Bernie Madhoff -- a cold-hearted bastard who destroyed the assets of thousands of investors, now cooling his heels in a federal penitentiary.

Since Romney has remained vague about what he plans to do economically, socially and internationally, we can only conclude that with him comes a return to policies generated by conservative thinktanks like the Project for the New American Century, the same outfit that inflicted Paul Wolfowitz upon the US Army.

As for Obama's record we have only to review the most recent actions highlighted by former FEMA director Michael Brown outrageous comments as reported in the New York Times.

"The former FEMA director, who famously resigned from his role in 2005 over his disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, took the opportunity on Wednesday to tell New Yorkers reeling from the hurricane this week that everyone should just “chill.”

“Hurricane Sandy should teach us to be prepared, willing to live without the modern conveniences of elevators, computers and refrigerators,” he wrote in an editorial for Canada’s Globe and Mail. “Hurricane Sandy should teach us all to chill.”

It’s the second time in two days that Brown -- better known as “Brownie,” the nickname given to him by George W. Bush – has told city dwellers to relax in the wake of a storm that devastated the East Coast and New York. In New York City the storm caused nearly 2 million people to lose power, 22 were killed, and 100 homes burned to the ground."

Brown went on to criticize Obama for responding to the emergency in the Northeast "too swiftly."

To read the NYT article go HERE: NYTimes on Brown's comments.

“It’s pretty rich coming from somebody who has an abysmal record on management of emergencies,” Obama campaign press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN.

Remember, electing the President is not just electing the ticket itself, but also frames the establishment of an Administration of many thousands of goverment servants. Recent Republican Administrations have a dismal record of appointing woefully incompetant persons to positions of significant responsibility. We don't want another "Heckuva job Brownie", another bumbling Wolfowitz, another traitorous Libby, another Palin-like opportunistic parrot anywhere near positions of power. Vote Obama.

In the year 2000 only 537 votes in the State of Florida determined the difference between the way things are now and the way things could have been. That was commonly termed "two busloads of voters." Are you on the bus?


For those looking to take a break or discuss the results, Oaktown's Art Murmur will be a great venue to unwind. Although you may have missed the notable First Friday's in Oakland this 11/2, there remains the third Thursday later this month.

We have some feedback from readers on the astonishing numbers attending the rather extraordinary happening now ongoing in the Uptown area, so we though we would reprint some comments rrom the lovely Danielle Fox, curator of SLATE design:

Ever since a new organization, Oakland First Fridays, launched a monthly eight-block street festival on Telegraph Avenue between 19th and 27th streets last August, this already busy night has been drawing up to 20,000 revelers to Oakland¹s Uptown neighborhood. While some head straight for the festival (which includes food trucks, artisanal crafts and live music stages), others come out to visit Uptown¹s nearby art galleries, which remain open, as they have been for the last six years, on every First Friday, from 6¬9pm.

For those hoping to get the most out of the gallery walk on First Friday, Art Murmur Director Danielle Fox has a few tips: ³First, visit the Uptown galleries early in the evening. Most galleries have Friday afternoon hours anyway, so you can preview shows as early as 5:00. By 7:00 you should be heading down to visit the less crowded districts of Midtown, Old Oakland, and Jack London. There are outstanding galleries with cutting-edge art there, including Pro Arts, Res Ipsa, Betti Ono, Swarm, and others.² Finish with some wine tasting at Urban Legend Cellars (which also hangs fresh art in its tasting room each month) and a meal at one of Jack London¹s great restaurants.

For those intent on spending the latter part of the evening in Uptown, Fox recommends using public transit if possible, using Broadway as an access corridor, parking in one of the large lots near Broadway and 23rd , and making dinner reservations in advance.

And for those who don¹t care for crowds or enjoy engaging with art on a deeper level, Fox recommends attending Saturday Stroll instead. ³What few people understand is that you don¹t have to wait for first Friday. There are 25 Art Murmur galleries and mixed-used visual art venues open every Saturday afternoon from 1-5pm.²

Many galleries also hold special events on Saturday afternoons, particularly the Second Saturday of the month. On November 10th for example, there will be receptions at Studio Quercus , Mercury 20, and Vessel galleries; artists talks at Warehouse 416 and Vessel, and special art sales at Vessel and SLATE contemporary.

On the third Saturday of every month, the Art Murmur gallery association sponsors a free gallery district walking tour. The November 17th tour will be led by Svea Lin Sol of Swarm gallery and will focus on art spaces in the Jack London district. Meet at 520 2nd Street 2:00.

For further information:

Staffers took an opportunity to visit a fundraiser for Los Semillitas pre-school on Santa Clara. The organizers thought to combine the Dias de los Muertos with some fun and games for parents and toddlers. The group is a collective seeking to preserve MezoAmerican Hispanic culture and language while providing pre-school services to members. The group moved from a dicier section of Oaktown for the relative safety of the Island and is going through the bureaucratic hoops to make their pre-school entirely compliant with the law.

One of the requirements is to have a sprinkler-system installed in an old wood-shingled building, which costs quite a bit, hence the fundraiser.

The fall festival featured live music, a mini petting-zoo, face painting, home-made cooked food, and a lovely ofreta along with a complete invocation ceremony that included palabras from people contributing to the ofreta in community spirit.

Painting sugar skulls. So as to sweeten this bitterness of loss.

The petting zoo.

Cannot get to Walmart in your village. Make your own corn-husk dolls.

A little facepaint instruction.

The best teachers are willing to take instruction themselves.

The Ofreta in the classroom included many reminders from the collective families.

The ceremony featured an invocation to the four points of the compass, but with a personalized flavor that included an invocation to the children, la futura.

A close familial ceremony such as this one, where everyone knows one another, can be quite emotional, and so to spare the feelings of people involved, we do not include photos or any more discussion about them. This is not some abstract ritual but a time of genuine expression of grief.



Looks like its clear and sunny for most of the week, however folks better batten the hatches as a storm makes its way to the the California Coast by Thursday. Reports came in from Mammoth that the last dumper there dropped 17 inches -- not enough to stick around Bishop with temps in the high thirties, but enough to jump start the ski season as the big machines started belching right away to lay on the powder.

Friend Patrick is likely to be heading up soon with all his snow bunnies in tow. Just take care of the knees, Patrick. That is our rueful advice.

No respite for the Northeast US unfortunately as a regular dockwalloper is about to add some misery to New Yorkers with high winds advisory and plenty of rain by the end of the week to add to the pile there.

From the NOAA, an agency the Romney folks want to ban, we have this report:

Potential impacts from this coastal storm could include:
- Windy conditions (perhaps gusts as high as 50 mph) that could be more problematic due to trees and limbs damaged by Sandy. The greatest threat for high winds will be near the coast.
- While nowhere near as bad as Sandy, the combination of storm surge and wave action could cause minor to perhaps moderate coastal flooding and additional beach erosion along the mid Atlantic and New England coast. Fortunately we are between the full and new moon so normal astronomical tide levels will be lower than usual. The threat for coastal flooding will be primarily during the high tides on Wed and Wed night for the mid-Atlantic. From New York City into New England, the high tides Wed night and Thu have the greatest threat for flooding.


As long-term Island-Lifers know, autumn is a special time on the island. kicking leaves, traipsing through woods with Dick and Jane, smelling the clean fresh air and blowing Fifi away with that brand new 32-20.

Yes its time to prepare for that annual convocation of delight, mayhem, and bloodshed -- the Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ. We will be posting the official rules for this year sometime this week, but of course you are free to peruse last year's ruleset so as to get yourselves into the proper All-American frame of mind for snaring some decent poodlemeat for your Boshintang and your 'que.

Eveyone is invited. Even Republicans who seldom bother with the nicities of purchasing hunting licenses.


So anyway, now was come to the end of October and El Dias de Los Muertos, the Days of the Dead. It is Tradition to hold that in this time those who have departed walk again among us for a short while. At Island-Life it is the Tradition of drawing of straws to see who shall be given the charge to cross over to the Other Side so as to bring back a special message.

Again according to tradition, Denby always loses this contest, so 13 times he has crossed over alone and then returned to speak with the Editor.

This year, because of Denby's broken leg and the way is through deep sand, another drawing was held. As it turned out, Jose drew the short one and so to him was given the charge to push Denby's wheelchair as far as he could and to go no further.

But when they got to the seawall where the crossing usually took place, there was nothing but the usual unbroken line of fence and the wind coming in off of the Bay. They pulled over off the sidewalk to a place near the toilets.

"Something is wrong," Denby said. "I think it is because there are two of us this time."

"Maybe I should go now," Jose said. "I feel very strange, like something is about to happen but it is waiting."

"I'll never get back up the beach. Last time it was very difficult even with two good legs."

"Well amigo," Jose said. "I suppose I could do something here. I came prepared from mi abuelito." Jose reached down into his bag hung on the back of the wheelchair. He brought out an abalone shell, a lighter, and what looked like a bag of pot.

"Jose, this is no time to get stoned!"

"Mi gabacho amigo, this is sage incense." Jose then lit a wad of the incense in the shell. Holding this aloft, he began to recite something in a foreign language that was not Spanish.

can niman aman
nomaca nehuatl

nicmati Ilama

nomatca nehuatl

"What the hell was that?" Denby asked as the lights from the apartment buildings started to grow dim as if a veil was passing between the two of them and what was across the street.

"Okay now amigo, I turn this chair here to face el Norte. El Norte is the el tierras del Muertos, the lands of the dead. I call on them and then we say "tahui". Donde esta?"

"Sure, donde esta whatever."

"Empezaremos con el Norte, ahem, Nuestros antepasados que vinieron antes de nosotros.
Okay, say "tahui" four times. Repita!"

Denby did as he was told and then Jose wheeled the chair a quarter turn.

"La dirección El este, donde el sol se levanta todos los días. Este es el sentido de nuestro nacimiento, de nuestra niñez y juventud, de pasión. It is the direction of youth and passion. Ok. Tahui!"


Ok pasamos, pasamos again," Jose said, grunting as he maneuvered the chair over the ramp slats near the toilets. He picked up the shell with the burning incense where he had left it and recited, "Del Sur -- que es la tierra de la lluvia, de maíz, de jitomatitos, frijolitos, y chilitos. Esa es la tierra fértil donde mi familia antepasados vinieron de. The South is the fertile land of water, of sustinance. Tahui."

"Tahui. I know you like those frijolitos. Tahui."

"Ok pasamos. Last time. El Oeste! Esta es la dirección en que el sol se pone al final del día. El Oeste también representa el fin de nuestro viaje de la vida. I call to the West, the place where the sun descends, which represents the end of all life. Tahui."


Jose then came around the chair to face Denby with the smoking bowl of incense.

"La quinta dirección es usted," he said as the smoke from the incense snaked around his face and body. Something was happening to the lights. The distant lights of Babylon across the water had disappeared. “In Lak’ Ech,in Lak’ Ech, in Lak’ Ech, in Lak’ Ech. Tahui."

"Tahui. Porque 'usted'?" Denby asked, struggling with his Spanish and whatever strange other language Jose was using.

Tú eres mi otro yo," Jose said. “You are my other I".

"Well I'll be your eyes and you be my legs," Denby said, misunderstanding him. "What means 'tahui?"

"Heck if I know," Jose said. "Mi abuelita told me to say it just like that."

"I think I see something over there," Denby said. "Wheel me in that direction."

As they wheeled along the path, Jose said, "Hey, I don't remember there being a stone wall along here."

"Just keep on truckin', amigo," Denby said.

Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!

It was true that now a stone wall about two and a half feet high now extended for infinity in both directions where yesterday there had been only hummocks of sand bound by sawgrass, but this wall seemed to have been there for eons, with scraggly weeds crowding up against lichened stones. They came to an old wooden gate through which something called to them from the dim otherside and so, hesitating a moment to leave the relatively well-lit path, Jose opened the rusty latch and slogged through the sand and wheeled over almost immediately into a dark mist and a voice echoing in the darkness, "Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!" and these words flamed inside the skull as if poured in molten steel.

Now, again, Tradition. The path was as it had been before. And the time before that.

"WTF was that, amigo?" Jose said, quite startled.

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

"Hoo! Hoo!"

"You understand those words, Jose?"

"Is Italian. I think I am afraid I do."

On the other side the ground sloped down as usual to the water for about thirty yards, but they 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.

Jose noticed a stone jetty there and to ease their going he wheeled up onto what turned out to be a long wharf extending out into the dark, lightless Bay. A bonfire burned in the middle of this pier in a ring made of closely worked stones.

A figure with long flowing blond hair stood there to greet them.

"Hello, Penny," Denby said.

"Denby! I see you have brought someone along with you this time? That will not do you know!"

A sort of pale glimmer drifted over the dark stone tiles, 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.

"Amigo! I think I see someone!" Jose said. He was looking not down the pier but off to the right to the sands below where another bonfire was burning. Abruptly, Jose dropped down to the beach and ran over to a figure there, calling, "Abuela! Abuela!"

"Jose! Don't . . ."! Denby called out. But the boy was gone, leaving him there alone. Now he could see there were many thousands of those firelights all scattered along the beach as far as he could see.

si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta . . .

Strange words in another language reverberated inside his 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. He felt sorry for bringing Jose here, but then, it was Jose who had opened the door.

He manhandled the wheelchair up to the bonfire. A bald fellow he recognized sat chatting with the figure he recognized as Lynn, David's mother. Lynn had two large lynx's purring at her feet and a full grown eagle perched on her shoulder. Hello Uncle Edwin.

"Hello Denby. You are looking alive and well." Uncle Edwin said and laughed.

Where's Louise?

"O that woman? She's off getting into trouble with your Aunt Jean. Such a pair of sisters."

The family was never very close.

"It's the Welsh in us," Uncle Edwin said. "By way of Ireland. God I loved Singapore . . .".

I seem to recall you got yourself into trouble there.

Uncle Edwin laughed. "Damn right! Life is not about behaving yourself! How did you break your legs?"

O climbing a mountain. People say I shouldn't have done that.

Take it from me. Go to Singapore.

"Nonsense! Life's about getting into trouble. Imagine all the people who have never laid down on some trackless mountain among boulders and thin air, wondering if they would get out alive. There is something wrong with those people. Who have never ever done anything at risk. Take it from me. Go to Singapore. Sleep in a train station. Raise mountain lions in your livingroom like your friend here Lynn. Climb another mountain. And you want to know something?"


"What if the hokey-pokey is really what its all about?"

Lynn burst into laughter next to him and the eagle took off, soaring with scarcely a flap over the dark sands until the bird disappeared.

"Have you decided yet what you want to be when you grow up," Lynn said. A lynx licked its immense paw before setting down its immense head with a sigh.

Way down at the end of the pier two men sitting in chairs were entertaining a small crowd. One of the men held a banjo, the other a guitar. A woman stood beside them and from far off, he could hear hear her powerful voice singing.

At last
My love has come along
My lonely days are over
And life is like a song

Oh yeah yeah
At last

The skies above are blue
My heart was wrapped up in clover
The night I looked at you

I found a dream, that I could speak to
A dream that I can call my own
I found a thrill to press my cheek to
A thrill that I have never known . . .

Denby turned to Penny.

Who is that down there?

"O that's a pair of musicians and some other people. Doc and Earl. And Etta. They get to cross over almost right away." With that last statement her voice nearly broke with emotion. All my life I lived in a well, an oubliette. I thought I got out, but . . . there was just more . . . of what life had . . .".

Penny . . ., Denby said, the longing in her voice tearing at him.

A figure appeared, a man wearing neck to foot, a full astronaut suit. He paused looking intently outward with the raptor's look of someone who had spent his life flying air machines.

"Bye bye, Neil," Penny said shyly.

The man removed a gold coin from his mouth, looked at it, then put it back in his mouth before nodding curtly and then striding down the dock.

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. Penny let out a peal of girlish laughter, her previous mood entirely erased.

Some people never change, Denby said to no one in particular.

"No one ever changes," a voice said. "Some of us just get older."

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, Jim, you are not ready for the ferry ride yet, 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. You didn't answer my question."

O, I put things together. Not living at the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum anymore. Doing a gig now at an orphanage. What is that about another go around? You mean reincarnation?

"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 . . . like the hills of California, 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."

Those girls, Denby said flatly, knowing from previous visits what they were.

"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."

You know Pat, your nephew, is getting married.

"I shouldn't say this, but I'll be damned. That boy was always a wild weed."

You run into that relative of yours that lived in a trailor? Kicked the drugs and finally got her life together selling hoity toity sausages or something like that for the holidays?

"O, her. She's crossed over already. Suffered enough I suppose, poor gal. Why do you ask?"

Well some people figured out how to patch up their lives, even as bad as it was, Denby said with sharp bitterness. Some people didn't have to effing just give up . . .

Jim examined the end of his cigar. "Some people sound like they are still angry. Some people need to get their own house in order."

There was a tension now between them.

"How is Doyle," Jim said.

Cranky as always. Still great with his heart and parsimonious with his pennies.

don't let money muddy the waters

Jim laughed. "If the man paid your rent wouldn't you start to resent him? When money gets into the relationship, you know things will sour. Take this advice from an old man: don't let money muddy the waters of a relationship."

Well then how does it work between him an his handyman The Wiz. That guy works on his house painting and fixing the roof every visit. They have been friends for years.

"Because both Doyle and Wiz know it does not matter. Wiz and Doyle both know Wiz can tell Doyle to go eff off any day with no regrets."

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."

From far across the water came the glimmer of the approaching ferryman.

Penny was standing there. "Time to go now, Denby."

"I have a lot of questions to ask." Denby said.

The truth is, not everything is answered. . .

"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, said Penny

"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. And your friend Jose."

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. Remember the last time when he had looked into the Ferryman's eyes, despite the warning.

That had been terrible, Denby said, remembering with a shudder. He did not want anything like that experience again. Not in this life.

Penny took him back to the edge of the landing, which he would not have found otherwise, as sight seemed to have become blurred by some saltwater carried on the air.

I don't regret a thing except waiting far too long to take up skydiving.

"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.

Hey, I need Jose. He did not know what would happen if Jose were not with him at the crossing. He had that strip of sand to cross and the wheels of the chair bogged down right away.

"Jose! Jose!" Denby called as the Ferryman approached the dock, all the souls clustering down there at the end, the terrible wheels of fire circling his eyes illuminating the path of the skiff up to the landing. Denby saw the break in the wall up ahead and thought he might be able to crawl toward it, but he did not want to abandon Jose. The clang of the iron bell became insistent. The light behind him, to the West, became brighter. He dared not turn around. "Jose! For the sake of god where are you!"

Then he heard Jose's hoarse voice behind him and the chair began to move. "It's okay amigo, I am here."

Jose seemed to have a lot of trouble getting the thing up the slope of sand to the gate. Denby tried helping by thrusting on the guide rails. The iron bell gave way to a long wailing sound that wavered across the dark sands, chilling the heart. An alarm or a cry of despair. Birds, or some kind of dark shapes, began swirling around them. The gate up ahead started to break up in his vision.

"Amigo, what is happening?"

"The dawn is coming. We have to get through or we will be trapped. Shove man, shove!"

"Trapped? Trapped where?" Jose panted and wheezed.

"It's the waiting room of hell. They will not let us out until the end of Time. Push For the sake of god! Push!"

Jose cursed and called on all the saints and the blessed Virgin and a few unchristian deities

Jose cursed and called on all the saints and the blessed Virgin and a few unchristian deities to boot. Finally the wheels tipped up over onto the pavement along Shoreline. As Jose pitched forward beside the chair, as if shoved by an unseen hand, there was a tremendous clang! and the stone wall disappeared along with the gate.

They were back on the island.

"I cannot believe you have done this trip for the past fifteen years," Jose said, when he had regained his breath. "I think I would quit."

"Jose, believe me, its like the Blues. It is not a matter of choice. Let's go home now."

They were silent a long time on the return, trundling along the length of Shoreline Drive, remaining under the comfortable side with the streetlights and the apartment blocks with their well-tended, well-light entranceways, each wrapt deep in the thoughts concerning what each had seen. As they passed by the cars Denby could see in the passenger side mirrors that Jose had been weeping.

As they wheeled up Grand Street to get clear of the lagoon, Denby asked a question. "Say, how did you know what direction to turn during the invocation with no sun to orient you?"

"Chair is from Kaiser," Jose said. "It has a little compass." He paused. Silly amigo, the ocean is right over there."

"I am going to have to thank your abuelita some day."

"You can meet here," Jose said. "She is same age as you and very pretty some say." Jose paused. "She is not married, you know. I can arrange a meeting next week on Tuesday ...".

"Oy weh iss mir!" Denby said.

"Oy, weh iss mir!" Denby said. "Now my friend wants a match to be making! I do not think this will end well."

Back at the offices, 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. Jose fled to his desk where he kept a bottle of tequila. He poured himself three shots in succession before sitting there with his head in his hands.

"You both look positively awful!"

"Good god, Denby!" exclaimed the Editor. "You both 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. "Jose looks a mess. I'd like to talk with him and find out how far he got."

"Leave the boy alone. He stayed behind on the street," Denby lied. "He just thought he saw somebody he knew. Turned out to be somebody else."

The Editor looked at him with keen eyes. "He stayed behind."

It's just rough out there late at night

"Your employee obeyed his orders to the tee. It's just rough out there late at night. Lots of bad trade. Leave the boy alone."

"So nobody has any idea how this election will turn out?"

Denby said nothing. The Editor reached back behind him and brought out the traditional bottle of Glenfiddich with two glasses. "Probably doesn't matter. When the Recession ends and who gets elected. The way things are going, we all are going to need more than a stiff drink to get through no matter which character gets elected. 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. And do not forget to vote.



OCTOBER 28, 2012


This week the photo is of a well-tended walkway from the street to the front porch of Queen Anne style house on the Island. There are a fair number of stiles gated with an iron torus or trellis, but this one really gives a sense of entering some mysterious other world.

Foto is courtesy of Tommy and Timmy of Park Avenue.


For the last three issues we have been looking at the candidates running for office this electoral season, beginning with national level and working down to local slates.

We presented a voter recommendation list for the Propositions last time, and now we feel we ought to explain a few things about those choices.

First, we look at what is happening Statewide.

For our analysis we used the usual indie factcheckers, and along with Sf bay guardian, Sf Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury,, KCET.ORG, The League of Women Voters.

A gander at the vox populi throughout the Golden State shows that every single county is holding elections with the sole exception of sparsely populated Inyo, either by way of county-wide measures or by involvement by the vast majority of the major cities and townships within them, such as Fullerton, Brea, Newport Beach, Tustin, etc. in Orange County.

Virtually every county has more than one city seeking to raise revenue, with the vast majority looking at retail sales taxes, seconded by property taxes, and followed by bond initiatives.

Twenty-five (25) local sales tax measures are on the November 6, 2012 ballot ballot in cities and towns. Nine (9) county-wide local sales tax measures are on the same ballot.

Ten (10) additional cities already passed sales tax measure this year on June 5th during the Primary election.

As would be expected, identifiably conservative municipalities are seeking term limits for their own councils, reduction in city council pay/benefits, cost cutting measures, and in at least one case (Yuba city and Butte County) a reduction in the number of elected board members.

Several cities, mostly along the coast (Mendocino, San Francisco, Richmond) have measures seeking to define a corporation as "not a person" or to repeal the legal status of "personhood".

Among the more colorful propositions, LA wants to enforce the use of condoms on porn actors - an iniative which has fueled the material of local standup comedians -- and SF wants to initiate a study that will look at busting the Hetch Hetchy dam so as to obliterate the reservoir that currently supplies 95% of the City's water and much of its electrical power.

In the first of what may become a wave of these things, Murrieta in Riverside is seeking to ban "red-light cameras." It will be interesting to see what comes of that one.

Closer to home we have our own Measure D for the Island, which was spawned during the brough-haha over the Council's near trade of half of the treasured golf course here for a strip of worthless sand owned by developer Ron Cowan.

As it stands now, the Council can gratify sweetheart deals on its own power by handing over valuable public lands of any type, including parkland, to just about any monied interest. The measure seeks to block that power by stipulating that only by popular vote can any such exchange of land take place.

Text of Measure D: "
Shall the Charter of the City of Alameda be amended by amending Section 22-12 to eliminate language that allows the City Council to sell or dispose of public parks or any portion thereof if a new public park is designated, which means the sale or disposal of public parks must be approved by the electors?"

In other words, sale or disposal of public parks must be voted upon by the "electors" (voting public).

Former Councilperson Frank Matarrese had this to say about Measure D: "A "yes" vote is important for shielding existing parks from sale or swap and for protection of new parks in Alameda. Alameda has no room for expansion and is among the most densely populated cities in the county. Every square inch of parkland is important to residents and visitors alike. "Yes" on Measure D is recognition of just how important parks are to Alameda and, especially in these hard budget times, effectively removes parkland from being entwined in shortsighted budget balancing.

A "yes" vote is essential to sound planning for today's parks and future parks in town, such as the Alameda belt-line . . . A "yes" vote can also build momentum needed to establish new parks in the city's General Plan documents: Estuary Park at the foot of Oak Street, sports complex, Enterprise Park, vital wetlands and wildlife refuge at Alameda Point."

No one, not even the most radical crazies among us has issued an argument against the measure.

So much for the non-controversial stuff.

One thing is not in dispute across the board for our raft of measures and initiatives this time among all of our media colleagues, left and right.

We sure got a barrel of rotten apples in terms of wretchedly constructed propositions packed with unclear, deceptive, ineffective and litigous language. Not much on the ballot is unalloyed good, although some of the props are unequivocably evil.


Measure A1: Oakland Zoo Parcel Tax - NO
Measure B1: Sales Tax Increase (Transportation) - YES

Measure B1 basically supports road repair on the face of it, with some promises to subsidize special fares for the elderly and for children. If Measure B1 is approved, it will permanently double the transportation sales tax paid in the county from half-a-cent to one full cent. A super-majority of 2/3rds is required for this measure to pass.

We kinda understand that people are tired of "yet one more tax" however in the face of strapped State contributions it is clearly up to us to take care of our own issues. It might be argued that roads are among the few things even conservatives believe government to handle, and with a county as big as ours, no way any private interest could handle the massive job.

Measure A1 (Oakland Zoo Parcel Tax) is the start of somewhat deceptive, badly written legislation which seems to be the hallmark of this season. Heck who could argue against better bear care? Don't you want to keep those darling hyenas laughing -- and on the right side of the fence?

Proponents for A1 say "Measure A1 would help to ensure animals are safe and enclosures are well maintained, to provide animals with food, heating/cooling and clean, fresh watering systems, to repair aging animal shelters, sewage/drainage systems and retain quality veterinarians."

If it were only about that, we would be all for adding a 25-year parcel tax of $12 per parcel per year for single family residences and $72 per parcel per year for nonresidential properties.

But it is not. Looking at the language of the measure we see additional verbiage about "expansion".

When was the last time you went to the Oakland zoo? Not recently we bet, for "just to park and get into the zoo costs a family of four (with kids between 2 and 14 years old) $54, and that doesn’t include the money parents will inevitably spend on rides and snacks. Holding a birthday party there will cost up to $410." (

The zoo is governed by a self-appointed board (itself an issue when it comes to public property management) which has stated clear intentions of building within the pristine Knowland Park next door in other venues prior to this election. The measure states the money raise will fund zoo "projects" which are defined in the measure as including “Financing the construction of new or renovation of existing Oakland Zoo capital facilities.” It also includes “constructing, expanding, remodeling, renovating, furnishing, equipping, or financing of facilities.”

Add to this the text of the opposition statement: "Additional concerns include that the tax "gives taxing authority to a private organization with no publicly elected representatives," that "the Zoo already gets public funds from multiple sources"."

Um, now add to this that a few days ago the zoo Board of Directors was found guilty by an investigative report by the East Bay Express of violations of election laws (East Bay Express -
and that the use of taxpayer dollars to push a glossy mailer promoting the Proposition begs the question regarding proper use of public funds we think we ought to put a hold on this and somebody needs -- badly -- to put the management of the zoo into serious reorg mode.

November 2012 Statewide Ballot Measures

Proposition 30 - YES (and NO on Prop 38)
Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.


Gov. Jerry Brown is leading the charge for Proposition 30, which is a merger of two previously competing initiatives; the "Millionaire's Tax" and Brown's First Tax Increase Proposal.

The story goes like this, skipping the drama that got us here. Governor Brown has created a classical Tiger Door Conundrum. You know the story: behind one door crouches a tiger. Behind another door crouches a dragon. You don't know what is behind door #3 but it is equally bad and you must choose to open one of the doors to escape being devoured by a pack of wolves.

We have a State fiscal deficit. Brown wants the proposed tax to pass. This tax would raise the personal income tax rate on individuals making more than $250,000 per year for the next seven years. Rates would go up by as much as 3 percent for those in the highest income bracket, but individuals making less than $250,000 and couples making less than $500,000 a year would see no increase. Prop 30 would also raise the state sales tax by a quarter cent for the next four years. Both tax increases, then, are temporary.

Sounds okay so far. Then comes what is behind Door #3: The budget approved by the state legislature is tied directly to the fate of Prop 30. If voters reject it, a series of spending reductions known as the "trigger cuts" would go into effect. Schools and community colleges would take a hit of nearly $5.4 billion, and many other departments would see reductions, too.

Okay, lets pick Door #1 and pass the Proposition.

Prop 30 also includes several constitutional amendments that would ensure the state continues to pay for certain public safety programs it handed over to local governments in 2011. The programs include the incarceration of some adult prisoners, supervision of parolees, and substance abuse treatment.

For Pete's sake, can one NOT obfuscate what had been clear to start for once?

No. There is Door #2. The two related tax measures (Prop 30 and Prop 38) would affect each other should both pass. The state constitution already provides that when two measures conflict, the one with the most votes prevails. In addition, sections in each proposition explicitly bar the other from taking effect. Even if you vote for both, only one can win. And, of course, if Prop 38 gets more votes, that would mean Prop 30 loses (even if voters approved it) and the so-called "trigger cuts" would go into effect.

This sort of thing is why so many native Californians go crazy.

Proposition 31- YES
State Budget. State and Local Government.

Prop 31 is an omnibus initiative, being both a constitutional amendment and a statute. Are you confused by that? Well the dense thicket of verbiage for this one is off-putting, so lets break this down into four parts, aided by the legislative analyst.

First, it would give local governments greater say in how they coordinate public services by allowing them to allocate state-issued funds and veto state-originate changes to local funding. You can see right away how popular this part is with local officials.

Second, it would limit the legislature's ability to pass certain bills that would increase spending or decrease revenues by more than $25 million in a fiscal year. Legislators would have to show how that shift would be accounted for either by raising revenues or by reducing expenditures, respectively. This is by far the most complex provision.

Third, it would allow the governor to unilaterally cut spending during fiscal emergencies. The governor would first have to declare the emergency and it would take a 2/3rds majority of the State Assembly to override his cuts. You can see how a certain political segment finds this part hideous.

Fourth, it would modify state budgeting procedures. Budgets would be drawn for two years rather than one, and the legislature would be required to run performance reviews of all state-funded programs every five years.

We wish we saw more intelligently formulated opposition statements, as we doubt this Prop will have any real effect on environmental protections or education while the immense power granted to the governor seems more of a concern. Generally the arguments in favor seem more considered than the anti-group. We just wish that annoying 3rd provision was not in there and the rest was better written.

The Think Long Committee which authored the Proposition is a sub-department of The Nicholas Berggruen Institute itself the brainchild of billionaire Eli Broad and Bergruen. The Institute contains Nobel Laureates from around the world while the Think Long committee consists of notable Californians including, surprisingly, former governor Gray Davis.

This one contains a Big If in that whether it works or not depends on what future public servants will do about it.

Proposition 32 - NO!
Bans Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.

This one shall be short and sweet. It is an anti-union initiative originated by the usual suspects.

the independent Common Cause had this to say: "While some of the bill would be beneficial, we are urging a NO vote. The proposition tips the scales of political speech - silencing one side, and opening unfettered speech for others."

Proposition 33 - NO!
Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver's History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.

Generally opposed across the board across the spectrum by both Republicans and Democrats.

"While purporting to save drivers money, this initiative statute really gives insurance companies virtually unlimited authority to hike rates. It is funded by Mercury Insurance billionaire George Joseph, who has put up $8.2 million for the measure. He funded a similar measure that was defeated in the last election, and this one should be too."

Proposition 34 - YES
Abolishes the Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.

People on our staff worked on the project that sought to amend the state probation appeals process by establishing objective criteria detached from the political process. During this project we read hundreds of parole board hearings, and what we learned about the legal system when it comes to severe offenses was hair raising in its capriciousness.

Yes, people commit heinous crimes. Yes those who do should be punished. Problem is, the punishment is not applied effectively, fairly, honestly, objectively, correctly, or even with any degree of justice. And with the death penalty there is no opportunity to say "sorry" when people make a mistake.

If justice is not what convinces you, try this from the Bay Guardian: "You want to know about the effectiveness of the death penalty in California? Try this: the number one cause of death among condemned inmates on death row is old age.

Then try this: The cost of implementing the death penalty since it was restored in California in 1978 exceeds $4 billion — about $308 million for each of the 13 people the state has killed."

Proposition 35- INFORMED NO. Probably will pass anyway.
Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute.

Contra Costa Times (arguing in favor): "The proposition would expand some of the definitions of human trafficking in California laws and would increase the fines and penalties for engaging in such illegal conduct, and it severely increases those penalties for repeat offenders.

Endorsers of Proposition 35 include:

Senator Barbara Boxer, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, activist Jada Pinkett Smith, Planned Parenthood, NOW, the California Labor Federation, Crime Victims United of California, Peace Officers Research Association of California, the California Fraternal Order of Police, the National Latino Peace Officers Association (State of California), the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, and the California Police Chiefs Association.
The California Democratic Party
The California Republican Party

With chops like that, with a crime as heinous as human trafficking, how can we possibly vote NO?

Well, because we know what human trafficking is: its taking underage girls, or girls of any age, and pressing them into slave labor, often in its more hideous forms, for sexual servitude.

But the statute "redefines" human trafficking into something other than that, and this wretched abuse of language to forcefeed ideology by colorizing issues a certain way by calling a spade a banana revolts us. (anyone hear the word "entitlement" recently?)

The Contra Costa Times says it right out: "The proposition would expand some of the definitions of human trafficking in California ...".

If that were not enough, the statute also plays loosy-goosy with civil liberties in a manner just begging for a lawsuit to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Finally, we know of a legislator (Mark Leno) who is working on legislation better worded than this piece of miffy language penned by a wealthy aristocrat who got irked when the State Senate didn't pass his personal pet project into law right away.

"Human trafficking is an egregious and horrible act. California law, as well as federal law, prohibits it, and the penalties are appropriately harsh.

But Prop. 35 — like so much else on the state ballot, the spawn of one rich person with a cause — wouldn't just crack down on the worst people in the sex industry. It would expand the ability of state and local authorities to harass and arrest consensual sex workers and would lead to more people serving more time in prison for victimless crimes.

Former Facebook executive Chris Kelly, mad that the state Legislature wouldn't pass a trafficking law to his liking and looking for an issue to run for office on, put up the money to place this mess on the ballot. It would rewrite the section in California's Penal Code that defines human trafficking . . .

Prop. 35 is a parade of horribles that could be used to make someone who peed in public turn over his Internet information and to threaten friends and relatives of sex workers. Under this law, the adult child of a sex worker who was living in her house with her financial support could be tagged a trafficker — and could face a long prison term and a lifetime of being tagged as a sex offender."

Los Angeles Times: "If reducing sex trafficking and forced labor were as simple as adopting a ballot measure that promised to deal with those predatory practices, there would be every reason to vote for the popular Proposition 35. But the initiative system doesn't work that way. Voters must ask more than whether they would like to see those cruelties come to an end. They must be satisfied that the particular, far-reaching and inflexible penalties and procedures that would be enacted by this measure would help; that they are the best approach to solving an actual problem; and that actual progress would dwarf any unintended consequences. Proposition 35 fails those tests."

It is unfortunate this emotional colorizing of a very important issue probably will succeed and a fairly devious piece of law will pass because, heck, who loves a pimp, and to be honest, the list of those opposed in the Official Ballot guide fails to impress, but that is the way it goes.

Proposition 36-YES
Revises Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties. Initiative Statute.
Generally supported across the board.

You may recall that the prison system has a fiat to release 20,000 non-violent offenders so as to help the State bail out the budget mess. We think this Prop. helps provide objective criteria for early release, given that the act is fait accompli.

Proposition 37- YES
Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling. Initiative Statute.

"A huge amount of the food on supermarket shelves in California contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs.) A lot of people, particularly in the chemical and agribusiness industry, think that's just fine. They say that GMOs have no negative health impacts and improve the ability of producers to bring low-cost fresh food to customers.

We freely admit: The scientific evidence on GMOs is pretty sparse. There are some studies done on rodents that show organ failure and cancerous tumors related to some GMOs, but there are no human studies at all and the Food and Drug Administration says there's no need to regulate GMOs.

Prop. 37 doesn't seek regulations or limits in any way. It just mandates that GMO food be labeled — the way it is in at least 50 countries worldwide, including all of the European Union, China, Japan and Russia. Hardly a radical proposition, but it's got Big Ag in a furor."

Proposition 38 - Munger initiative - NO (SEE MEASURE 30)
Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute.

"There's so much wrong with Prop. 38, starting with its origin. It's another billionaire plaything, the work of the wealthy Molly Munger, who decided, on her own, that the state should raise income taxes to pay for better schools...
But the question facing the voters isn't whether Munger is a self-serving brat who went her own way on this, or whether there are flaws in the measure. It's whether the state ought to raise taxes to pay for education. With all the duly noted reservations, the answer to that question has to be yes.

"Prop. 38 would further complicate and disrupt locked-in budget formulas. An analysis by the left-leaning California Budget Project concluded that the measure 'may not increase total school spending by as much as some estimate because the Legislature could reduce other state education spending.' One point for voters to consider: Public colleges and universities do not get anything from Prop. 38 - and could bear the brunt of resulting budget cuts."

It is not often we prefer the opinion of the Chronicle over the Guardian, but here we have to say NO, not only because the statute is badly written, but because it has relation to the better Proposition 30 in a negative way.

This is a rare case in which all political parties have concensus.

Proposition 39- YES
Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.

The measure would only affect out-of-state businesses and not California-based companies or California residents.

Currently, out-of-state businesses can reduce their California income taxes by not locating facilities or employees within the state. If passed, Proposition 39 would add possibly $1 billion to the state’s revenue and create approximately 40,000 construction and clean energy jobs, according to the non-partisan California Legislative Analyst's Office.

Okay, lets let the Bay Guardian redeem itself:

"Again, an imperfect law, sponsored by an imperfect billionaire that seeks to solve a problem better addressed in the state Legislature. In this case, though, the Legislature's tried to address it, but the recalcitrant Republicans haven't let it happen.

Prop. 39 would change a loophole in the state's tax code that helps multistate businesses to avoid state taxes. In essence, the current law lets companies choose whether to base their state tax liability on in-state sales or a combination of sales, employment, and property. Companies with a lot of out-of-state employees are able to reap huge tax breaks — if anything the current law encourages outsourcing.

Prop. 39, sponsored and bankrolled by hedge-fund billionaire Thomas Steyer, would mandate that all companies use the single in-state sales factor. The new revenue to California: $1 billion a year. It's more fair, it creates the right incentives to keep jobs and equipment in the state, and it cuts a hole in the deficit."

Arguments against the Proposition are heavily undercut by the presence of similar laws in other states where it has not caused any of the ill effects feared.

Proposition 40-YES
Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum.
Essentially endorsed by everyone across the political spectrum

The Bay Area Reporter -
"This is a sour grapes attempt by unhappy Republicans to throw out the district lines for the state Senate that were drawn by the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and upheld by the California Supreme Court. Since 2008 California voters have voted three times to have legislative and congressional boundaries determined by an independent commission. This will be the fourth election on the matter in four years. Enough is enough. A YES vote affirms the boundaries drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission."

VOTE YES ON PROP 40: One measure that should be an easy vote for all Californians is a YES vote for Proposition 40. Voting Yes on Proposition 40 will support the new electoral maps drawn by the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

So there you have it.

Measure D - YES YES YES


Measure A1: Oakland Zoo Parcel Tax - NO
Measure B1: Sales Tax Increase (Transportation) - YES


Proposition 30 - The Gov. Brown Initiative. YEAH. (sigh)
Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Proposition 31- YES
State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Proposition 32-NO! (anti-union effort)
BANS Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 33-NO!
Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver's History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 34-YES!
Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 35 - NO (redefines the crime of trafficking to something else. Mark Leno is working on a better Prop.)
Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 36 - YES
Revise Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 37 - YES (if a pig has lips, say so)
Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 38 - NO (Munger initiative. tied to prop 30 success/fail)
Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 39 - YES
Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 40 - YES (AGAIN!)
Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum


Our staff is still recuperating from the disastrous Island-Life mountain expedition, but at least one staffer got out to take part in the annual Dias de los Muertos festivities in the Fruitvale.

Because of the Great Recession and the accompanying reverse migration going on around here, which is seeing large numbers of las migras returning home to their parent countries, the festival has downsized.

In any case, the ofretas always have been a deeply personal, family affair in most cases, so there is also an undercurrent present of people wanting to keep their personal grief out of the public eye and away from commercial spectacle.

The ofretas which appear around this time, usually in the privacy of the home, are meant to commemorate the life of someone in the family who has died. In this time we Californios remember the loved one and try to remember as well that this death is only a transitory phase to that other life, whatever it may be, which is everlasting.

It is felt and believed that in this time, the last days of October, the dead walk among us again for a while, paying little visits. Maybe they return for a taste of life as it was, maybe they return so as to make the family whole again for a time, maybe they are only trying to tell us, "do not sorrow", for there is greater life beyond this illusion in which we live today.

Do scenes like this trivialize the personal?

The popular Aztecas....

The female figure with a broad hat, La Catrina, is a traditional character who appears about this time.


A heart of flowers for someone who had been in life a drummer.

People descended from the First Peoples of the Americas are very much in evidence.

The time is never without a sense of humor. And a bit of double entendre satire.



So anyway the rains gave up around here and a second Indian Summer has set in but with strangely slanted light through the trees along with abbreviated days.

Still, nobody is fooled by this deceptive weather. The leaves have fallen from the trees to remind us that all is ephemera.

Everyone is having parties up the wazoo, what with the Giants going up against the Tigers in the fourth game of the World Serious and even people who wouldn't know a bunt from bunting are out there yelling "Go Panda!", as if all this sports stuff brings out some kind of bestial atavistic simplicity.

In a place where people sometimes bring knives and guns with serious intent to the tailgate parties, it sometimes descends to that and, unlike Byzantium, the more savagely meaningless battles occur among the spectators than in the arena.

There is still an old rivalry that plays out sometimes from parkinglot to the coroner's office between Washington Grads (UCB bound) and Lowell High alums (Stanford prep).

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.

After returning from Korea, the man took a job managing a couple apartment buildings, which seems to attract a certain abrasive type on the Island for some reason. Some think it may be that the position allows a certain type of character leeway to boss people around and some people think that it is the owners who are attracted to a certain brusque and brutish personality. More likely the result is a combination of the two.

For her part, she stemmed from Quality which had fallen due to bad speculation on the fish canning industry. She never felt that the society in which she found herself was quite as good as the one to which she was supposed to have become accustomed and so was often seen spiking her punch at parties for the Native Sons of the Golden West and cotillions hosted by the Native Plants Association with a private flask she employed frequently at home for tea as well. All of her family's problems stemmed from the influx of uncouth foreigners and those horrible "beaners."

For his part, his solution to life's difficulties was to blame incompetence, of which much evidence abounded to his satisfaction, and to incompetence he took a metaphorical blackthorn stick with a will and a vengeance to do good to anyone who suffered from it.

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.

she returned, an ugly duckling with tattoos, to the Island

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

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

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

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

Now, every time there is a full moon, or a high tide, or unusual weather at this time of year, 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. Because they would, you know. They are that kind of people, even after death.

The season being what it is, the Editor called all the staff who had survived the mountain trip for the traditional Drawing of Straws.

Denby, sitting in a wheelchair on account of his broken leg demurred, but the Editor insisted on the tradition. And the tradition goes as follows. Every year the Editor has Rachel walk around with a cup full of straws. Whoever draws the shortest straw loses in the sense that he or she must go visit a certian special place from which no mortal man normally returns, or some semblence thereof as in the waitingroom to that Singular Place from which no mortal man ever et cetera et cetera, and that reporter must return with a full report as well as a prognostication of what is to come for the following year.

Each year the Editor holds the drawing according to tradition and according to tradition, each year Denby is the one who gets the shortest straw to his dismay, for going to that Special Place and back is no picnic.

There is more to it than that, but we don't have time to go into all of it now. It is all terribly complicated as such Traditions tend to be.

But this year Denby was bound to a wheelchair on account of his leg and in past years the road to That Special Place, so to speak, had not been paved. Perhaps with good intentions, but most certainly with no decent paving stones. Quite the contrary -- it had all been sand of the deep and slogging kind.

Nevertheless the Tradition must go on as it has for each of the past thirteen years.

So Rachel went around with a smirk, as New Yorker transplants tend to do around here, especially when they are exempt from the drawing by the Rules, and each drew their straw and each sighed, or palmed for a time the result, all of the staff present there, including Februs the messenger, even though everyone knew sending such a rodent weighing less than half a pound to such a place was sheer folly.

So they all drew their straws and they all looked at one another and Denby exclaimed, "O for Pete's sake how do you expect me to get down there?"

So that is when the Editor held the Second Drawing and the second drawing was for he or she who should propel Denby via the wheelchair to the very gates of the Pit.

After the drawing was done, the result was made clear and apparent to all and for the first time in history, two and not one would go to that place from which no mortal man ever returns et cetera et cetera.

And who was that 2nd person so honored?

As the Editor began to speak the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the spectral waves of the estuary laving against the riprap shore and then over the ghostly Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the haunted mountains to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 21, 2012


In the exhuberant spirit of the season, we present the lead bartender for the Lucky 13, Samantha Beran.

Sam is such a fetching creature.


Last week we skimmed some presidential issues. This week we talk about the local candidates, beginning with brief State office discussions, followed by our local Island issues, wrapping up with Proposition analyses and State-wide trends.

For this part we used, which presents relatively objective and fact-based analyses of Propositions., which follows the money. And endorsement statements from the Fire Department, a selected range of local and State news media, and finally excellent presentations by bloggers Lauren Do, John Knox White, as well as partisan websites Save Our City and ACT.


A brief look at money collected in support of selected races in NorCal reveals that the GOP has all but abandoned any serious effort to upset anyone in any of our favorite districts.

Dianne Feinstein (D)* $7,765,841
Elizabeth Emken (R) $189,024


District 12
Nancy Pelosi (D)* $1,904,334
John Dennis (R) $160,611

District 13
Barbara Lee (D)* $873,858
Marilyn M. Singleton (I) $61,547

District 14
Jackie Speier (D)* $895,808
Debbie Bacigalupi (R) $9,467

District 15
Pete Stark (D)* $374,507
Eric Swalwell (D) $412,500

The GOP may claim to despise both Pelosi and Feinstein, but the truth is they are not even half trying anywhere in NorCal.

Our own Island district used to be represented by Pete Stark, a feisty fellow who now heads up a slightly different area due to redistricting. He has always been a strong asset here and as a member of powerful committees in DC, it would be foolish to let him go.

The wonderful Barbara Lee now represents our redrawn district and we continue to support the experienced and capable congresswoman. We have heard her speak in person and find her an engaging as well as charismatic individual.

As for Jackie Speier, she has long proved to be a sturdy defender of the heavily Democratic base in her San Mateo district. Speier received a 67 percent from the California Taxpayers Association on their 2005 legislative score card, the highest score of any Democrat.

A strong woman who survived, just barely, the Jonestown massacre that took the lives of 900 people -- including that of her then boss, Rep. Leo Ryan -- she silenced the House floor during vigorous debate last year over a bill that would have cut all federal funding for Planned Parenthood when she described her own personal abortion experience, shaming bill author Rep. Pence. Two days ago Rep. Speier ripped Rep. Joe Walsh for his uninformed and callous statements against women ("an abortion is never medically necessary...".) (, stating, “He shows absolute ignorance about science and medicine...”.

STATE SENATE - 9th State District

Loni Hancock - essentially running unopposed from the Blanket Primary going forward. She was Mayor of Berkely 1986-1994, and is the incumbent.

Mary Catherine McIlroy garnered .6% of the vote in the primary as a write-in candidate so her name does appear on the ballot. McIlroy is a self-declared Socialist with some interesting ideas and a colorful history, but little practical administrative experience in the public arena.

Capitol Weekly, California's major weekly periodical covering the state legislature, publishes an annual legislative scorecard to pin down the political or ideological leanings of every member of the legislature based on how they voted on an assortment of bills in the most recent legislative session. On the scorecard, "100" is a perfect liberal score and "0" is a perfect conservative score.

On the 2009 legislative scorecard, Hancock ranked as a 100. She was one of eight state senators the publication identified as voting in what they defined as a "liberal" way in every vote they ranked.


Rob Bonta vs. Abe Gillen

District 18 is currently represented by Democrat Mary Hayashi of Hayward.

The district currently consists of 29.33% of Alameda County, including Ashland, 74.57% of Castro Valley, Cherryland, Dublin, 99.97% of Hayward, 7.31% of Oakland, 62.11% of Pleasanton, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and 59.16% of Sunol, and all of the Island.

This is one featuring a contest between two Dems as the June 5th Primary knocked out the sole GOP contender who garnered barely 14% of the vote in the heavily Demo district.

Either candidate would do well to represent us -- both candidates are equally as shameless in their political careerism and both have their expressed opinions (at the least) in the right place. Bonta looks to be following a regular path of stepping stones to power with the official nod of the Party, so he is likely to win.

We tend to agree with the EB Express endorsement, however, in that Abel Guillen, a Peralta Community College District trustee, endorsed by the Sierra Club and the California League of Conservation Voters, along with numerous labor and good-government groups, has the more consistently left-leaning record.

We also have a soft spot here for the underdog, so Gillen it is for our endoresement as well.


Assuming Bonta does get elected to Assembly, he will need to vacate his present Council seat, which leaves three seats open to a pleasantly well-rounded crowd of contenders. No, we have no overt clowns running for office this time, Kenny having taken a break after mistakenly recieving stolen property that had once belonged to Steve Jobs.

Still on some election material, Councilwoman Beverly Johnson chose not to run for re-election after Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to be deputy director of the state's Office of Administrative Law.

The two big issues on the Island -- as identified by the Express -- are the City finances -- projected to be in the red within five years -- and how to handle the remaining Point land after the SunCal developer fiasco.

As the EBE stated succinctly, "The bad taste from the city's recent experience with master developer SunCal still lingers on the island. The episode prompted a substantial amount of disharmony, and resulted in criticism that the current council majority owes its political good fortune to the developer".

The EBE states that the public employee pension system is the main financial issue ( employee retirement plans are at least $285 million "underfunded"). Well, it probably is, however Islanders hew to different lines than those defined by pundits and there is also the Hospital as well as the School District as two more major issues of contention not to mention the other prime waterfront locations besides the Point up for development.

The Alameda firefighter's union, which traditionally has been the most influential special interest on the island and which would be impacted greatly by pension reform, has endorsed Ashcraft, Cambra, and Chen.

That counts for something of course, and apparently overwhelms Tony Daysog's lackluster history as an ex-councilperson. In public arenas he has been largely silent on every issue, as he has pretty much for all of his time since beeing a councilperson, and we think more qualifications are needed than "did it before."

Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, who is also a member of the city's planning commission, has been endorsed by us before. She has been consistently a voice of common sense on development and pensions, and it appears that a great number of other people now think so as well. She has raised a family here and has been continuously active in City issues for years. We freely endorse her again this time.

Two candidates have no public experience -- as of yet -- and no real name recognition or coherent campaign presentation. Those two are Gerald Valbuena Dumuk, ex-firefighter, and Joana D'arc Weber.

According to Blogging Bayport, Joana D'arc Weber "did not submit a Candidate Statement and there isn’t a lot of information out there about her." We do know she is a native of Brazil where she may or may not have done some public service and that her professional background is media/journalism.

Dumuk has some good ideas, and his claim of being an "ex-firefighter" is somewhat self-effacing as he latterly was a chief administrator for CalFire and helped oversee a budget for 16 fire stations and 32 fire apparatuses, but his idea that AB 340 will resolve the pensions issue is, we feel, a bit unrealistic, and his stated plans for the Point are not as comprehensive or well thought-out as the others. He has no endorsements or support, but seems to have his heart in the right place. Not enough to get elected right away around here, so we have to count him out along with Weber.

That leaves Jeff Cambra, a former assistant city attorney, Stewart Chen, a member of the Healthcare District Board of Directors and Jane Sullwold, attorney and Golf Commission President.

Sullwold is the Dark Horse here, lacking the endorsement of the Big Boys, but she has been consistently in the public arena, has expressed intelligent ideas -- most of the time -- and has rolled with the political punches effectively. Golf Commissioner may not sound like much to outsiders, but as the San Jose Mercury noted, "she led the fight to save the Chuck Corica Golf Complex from developers and fought to find a "green" developer."

The golf complex has been the center of a major political tempest which has spawned Measure D on the ballot, so it's not like the lady is a stranger to politics around here.

We look askance at her stated willingness for a "nuclear option" regarding the pensions -- an option we feel is just not in the cards -- but it does indicate she knows the issue is very very serious. Unfortunately that may have smacked of anti-union sentiment to the fire and police departments, and provoked their endorsement of other candidates. That one statement has almost certainly doomed what had promised to be well-fought campaign.

Nevertheless we think she is intelligent enough (that Ivy diploma sequence ought to count for something) to roll with it and break up voting "blocs".

Stewart Chen has been a member of the Healthcare District BOD however "has not taken a leadership role" according to John Knox White ('Stop, Drop, Roll', Board Member at Alameda Point Collaborative, Planning Board Member for City). We generally feel that the BOD should not be seen as a direct path on a political career, and we also have reservations about how the Hospital in general has been administered, save for the part that is directly managed by primary care medical staff.

As for Cambra we tend to agree with JKW that he has a lot more pizazz once you look under the hood. According to White's endorsement statements:

"Jeff Cambra has worked to bridge differences in our community, helping to craft a partnership with our schools and business leaders that was an important part of the passage of Measure A. I have worked with Jeff on issues around development, transportation and government open-ness and transparency. He is smart and dedicated and will ensure that all voices are heard. If he struggles, it will be in ensuring that processes move forward while remaining inclusive." has this to say ""We suggest you vote for ANYONE BUT Ashcraft, Cambra and Chen, as they are backed by the Alameda firefighters union, the same money that brought you Gilmore, Bonta and Tam in the November 2010 election. Jane Sullwold at least mostly has her heart in the right place, and worked against the giveaway of the golf course to developers."

Well, we will not be slavish, but we do pick Sullwold, not that Chen would be as bad as SOCA claims. So Ashcraft, Sullwold, Cambra.


Hoo boy. You would think picking people to run a minor school district would be a minor key issue. Here it is not.

School scores are up in recent reports, including minority groups that have been notoriously effected by the No Child Left Behind thing. Due to the fund-raising measures enacted, the District is financially better off than many nearby districts and landmark equality protections have been enacted.

Still, all is not golden here. The main high school's historic buildings are closed off by a massive construction wall due to earthquake retrofitting needs estimated at $92 million. The administration moved out of there into an expensive leased property when scads of properties owned by the district sit vacant. The funding that exists is not enough and even that was achieved acrimoniously and by way of successfully defeating bitter lawsuits.

Listen to John Knox White break it down regarding the incumbants running for re-election: "Only two of them (incumbents), Niel Tam and Ron Mooney, have supported steps that have resulted in AUSD’s positive achievements. They deserve re-election. One incumbent, Trish Spencer, has voted and fought against all of them."

Well, Spencer had lost our vote during her avid resistence against the curriculum revision, a portion of which included "anti-bullying" instruction. An ultra-conservative group fought the curriculum changes -- supported by outside interests -- and made national news, to our great shame, as it appeared to the world our Island was populated by a rabid collection of wild-eyed nutcases yearning for the good old days of living in caves.

Their chief objection was founded on a sub-section of the anti-bullying curriculum that mentioned children of LGBT families.

Let people who believe against all of science that the world is only 5000 years old teach this nonsense someplace else. Our kids are above average in intelligence and we mean to keep it that way.

John Knox White has this to say against Spencer as well:

"If that’s not enough, she opposed the School Master Plan which resulted in turning around Washington School and lead to the success of Measure A. Spencer opposed Measure E for schools and refused to join the campaign for Measure A (both of which had 2/3 support of the electorate). In fact, Spencer votes “no” on just about everything. She offers no solutions, and has proven herself incapable of championing ideas and building coalitions."

Against Spencer JKW recommends Mike Robles-Wong as an independent voice.

If you think total-privatisation is the way to go, Kurt Peterson endorses charter schools supplanting the existing school structure. We don't think so.

Whatever. Just not Spencer again.


The Hospital District Board runs the financial and large administrative aspects of the hospital.

The candidates include incumbent board President Jordan Battani and incumbent board member J. Michael McCormick, along with former Board of Education trustee Tracy Jensen and nurse and business owner Leland Traiman.

The issues are as follows: A few years ago someone noticed with alarm that the venerable institution was deep into the red and getting deeper.

Per the Hospital website here is the history:

"Alameda Hospital began as Alameda Sanatorium, which was founded in 1894 by registered nurse Kate Creedon. Creedon converted a small house into a six-bed facility with a desperately needed operating room. Before its founding, there was no medical facility of any kind in Alameda. Horse drawn carriages and bicycles brought doctors to patients’ homes and patients to doctors’ offices. Surgeries were often performed on the kitchen table using chloroform as the most common anesthetic.

By 1901 the hospital had expanded to a three-story building and established a nursing school. In 1925 a new building was built on its present site. As progressive then as it is now, this 110-room facility was the first hospital in the West to be completely wired for electricity...".

That 1925 building, now a 135 bed facility, is the gorilla in the room, for it has been condemned as earthquake unsafe. July 2012 estimates for retrofitting go well above $14 million to $15 million dollars (, and that figure is very very conservative.

The hospital is moving forward incrementally with retrofits in dollops of $200k but the clock is ticking on renewal of federal and state licensures.

When the hospital, or say rather the public, found the hospital going bankrupt, administrators went into panic overdrive, beginning with shunting all medical and indigent patients to Oakland, eliminating the Geropsych Unit and eventually closing the jewel of jewels for all who who claim to be both born and raised here, the Ob/Gyn Natal unit.

Then it was learned the ER had no certification for treating stroke victims, although they had in fact been doing that and saving lives for quite a while.

Alarms blaring and monitors screaming over what looked like a financial Code Blue in ER, various stopgap taxes were raised by supporters to halt the hemorraging until the bad policies could be yanked, certification obtained, and the place reorganized for the 21st Century.

People looked at those fragile bridges and the tunnel built about the same time as the hospital and thought about what it will be like when the Big One hits, dropping all ties to the mainland, along with several buildings, with no trauma unit available other than Highland's rooftop helitac pad across the water.

We have ridden in one of those helicopters and we can tell you it is no damn fun at all when you got something broken past belief.

So yes, the existing incumbent board members do deserve a lot of credit for pulling the patient back into Intensive Care. A few good outside the box ideas have been implemented, such as roping in external facilities to the hospital financial family, including we are happy to say, at least one gero-service convalescent center.

That said, we think the place still is not out of ICU financially, and we know of entities that are taking a wolfish look at the state of the hospital with some acquisitive interest. The hospital is worth keeping, although it was badly managed in the past. We are hearing only good things from inside the place with regard to direct primary care, so here, at least, we are doing things very well.

You might have quibbles with this or that Board Member, other than Board President Jordan Battani and Mike McCormick, however we cannot fault those two. If Chen wins election, which he very well might, then a third seat will open up. Regarding candidate Leland Traiman, RN, we can say only that there is a trace of unprofessional snippiness in some of his comments to Lauren Do's "You Asked They Answered."(

He is definitely a prickly activist fellow, however when we looked at Tracy Jensen, we have to toss our hat to her directly. She is head and shoulders above everyone else save incubents -- and maybe even Chen -- in qualifications.

The native Alamedan Jensen worked for the US Department of Health and Human Services in Washington DC, researching and writing health care policies. While in Washington she helped to develop the Clinton health care reform proposal, and worked on “reinventing government” in Vice President Gore’s office.

She came home to Alameda in 2000 and took a job with the City of Oakland as an advocate for seniors. Finally, she worked 8 years as a Trustee for the Alameda Unified School District.

Not a bad public service record at all! We give Jensen the thumbs up.

Finally, this, which we will explain next week. And they do need explaination, as all of the media generally agree not much on the ballot is an unmixed bag, with much of it containing wretchedly written language cobbled by amateurs.

Measure D - YES YES YES


Measure A1: Oakland Zoo Parcel Tax - NO
Measure B1: Sales Tax Increase (Transportation) - YES


Proposition 30 - The Gov. Brown Initiative. YEAH. (sigh)
Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Proposition 31- YES
State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Proposition 32-NO! (anti-union effort)
BANS Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 33-NO! (Sponsored by Mercury Insurance)
Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver's History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 34-YES!
Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 35 - NO (redefines the crime of trafficking to something else. Mark Leno is working on a better Prop.)
Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 36 - YES (note that the order to release some 20,000 inmates predates this by quite a bit of time)
Revise Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 37 - YES (if a pig has lips, say so)
Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 38 - NO (Munger initiative. tied to prop 30 success/fail)
Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 39 - YES
Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 40 - YES (AGAIN!)
Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum



Abe Guillen (D) (over bonta)



CONGRESS (selected districts)
District 12
Nancy Pelosi (D)*

District 13
Barbara Lee (D)*

District 14
Jackie Speier (D)*

District 15
Pete Stark (D)*


Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft
Jeff Cambra
Jane Sullwold or Stewart Chen, tossup


incumbent Niel Tam
incumbent Ron Mooney
Mike Robles-Wong


incumbent board President Jordan Battani
incumbent board member J. Michael McCormick or Tracy Jensen

We'll wrap this all up this week, if we get a chance, and have revisions, should feedback require.


So anyway, congratulations to coveted Silver Water Tower trophy winners, MaMuse (Sarah Nutting and Karisha Longaker), who competed against a formidibly competitive lineup at the Fitzgerald Theatre in Minneapolis, homegirls from Chico done good and us proud.

Man to be so young and beautiful and so talented again. Sweet beautiful dulcet voices of California girls. Women! Sorr,y, we meant California women of course.

Scratch that. None of us here in the Offices ever were beautiful, talented or young.

Because so many of us here are still injured after the dreadful and catastrophic Mountain Expedition that cost the life of Mr. Howitzer v.2.0 and Denby's leg and the Editor's right arm and Jose's face (well, his two front teeth at least) it fell out that Sharon, the normally distant Social Events coordinator who makes her real living working full time as a psychiatric nurse at Sausal Creek Crisis Center had to go out and do all the chores normally reserved for the lesser staff.

Besides the injuries noted, there were the copyboys with the frostbite and the cleaning lady, Esmerelda [who claimed that she was descended from the royal line of King Phillip of Spain and not of Mestiza heritage at all (although Juanita knew better)] had come down with the stomach flu amid all this.

Then, of course, there was the usual attrition rate in non-profits like the Island Life News and some of the staff planning on getting married, including Tammy, that fetching lass from either France or Idaho -- nobody other than her fiance could ever figure that one out, and many suspected he had given up trying, which is an excellent introduction to getting along in married life all must agree.

In any case, the end result is that Sharon wound up toting out the trash, sweeping up the floors, cleaning the shared kitchen area and doing a thousand other thankless tasks, one of which involved getting out back and raking up the leaves around the Community Garden and carting them out in large bags to the curb.

Some may have noted that the seasons are in revolve.

at least one opossum of inordinate dimensions

As a consequence vast quantities of leaf have collected about the bench, the flowerplot, the base of the palms, and the abandoned hot tub which now provides residence on its side to several species of rat, gopher, raccoon, squirrel, and at least one opossum of inordinate dimensions, having grown too fat to squeeze into a hole or climb a tree.

It is rather wild back there.

Unfortunately Sharon, a City girl through and through, has terrible allergies and this racking has produced a wealth of misery for someone who only wanted to chip in a few hours a week and see a play or two at the start of this.

Naturally Waste Management chose this week to skip the street for green bin pickup, which is something the agency does as a sort of whim from time to time, or perhaps as a gentle reminder how important their services are. Engaging WMI is sort of like a marriage around here, and some of you many appreciate this sort of tactic in that regard.

So Sharon was stuck with bags of allergens sitting there collecting dust and god knows what all and was in great despair about what to do when along hobbled Snuffles the Bum and she got an idea and she decided to haul this stuff down to the Bay and dump it there -- it was all certifiably organic anyway -- and so down to the cove she went with Snuffles the Bum, wheezing and hacking, after piling the pile of waste into the back of her Fit hatchback along with shovels and rakes and other implements of destruction and she drove to the cove where she commenced to dump it all there, all the piles of organic waste with the shovels and rakes and implements of destruction with the tide well in up to the high water mark.

And as it turned out, Snuffles had the allergies too, so he was hacking and wheezing all the while as well.

Officer O'Madhauen happened to be down there, right there where the road makes a wicked bend past the windsurfer shack there and he was there looking for speeders and red-light scofflaws a bit further up at the Otis intersection with Shoreline, but she was not speeding and had not run the light so he left her alone.

his recent training in Homeland Security kicked in

Officer Popinjay, however happened to be there also, this island having a luxury, despite the cutbacks, of officers to civilian ratio, and his recent training in Homeland Security kicked in there and he was very much alerted to possible submarine attacks at Crab Cove, which although not precisely a sharp target for Al Qaida, you never know about those whimsical terrorists for they can attack anywhere as surprise and destruction are their chief aims.

The marine display in the Center, with its mock tidepools and preserved crabs and seagrass was known to draw numbers of tourists -- it could be considered a likely target.

So Popinjay sees these two dark figures unloading something there at the waterline and pulls up with the cherrytop going and puts the spot on them.


Sharon, figuring she had been caught illegally dumping waste and a person with a known punk rock past stood up straight in the beam and shouted, "Okay you got me you !@#@!# effers! I am guilty! So what!"

Snuffles, drunk as always, simply moaned "Heyyy! Turn off the light." Before falling down.

Officer Popinjay called in for reinforcements. Squawk!

"Car 34 can you read me call again?" Squawk!

"Got a ... possible foreign invasion in progress." Squawk!

"Got a ... possible foreign invasion in progress." Squawk!

"I am sorry, did not copy. Did you say home invasion? What address?" Squawk!

"Negatory. Uh, that's Al Quaida. We got maybe two, uh terrorists unloading bags of unidentified ... substance. Shoreline and Otis." Squawk!

"I heard bags unloading at shoreline. Should I alert Coast Guard?" Squawk!

"Positive on that. This may be a possible 11-60." Squawk!

"Car 34 can you confirm 11-60? Who is being attacked? I am confused. What started all this?" Squawk!

"This is 11-54 ongoing. Send backup."

"Car 24 is Code 8 but I will send someone as soon as I can." Squawk!

"Code 8? In a time like this? " Squawk!

"Code 8? In a time like this? " Squawk!

"Car 34, when duty calls you should go." Squawk! "When nature calls, you have to." Squawk!

Officer Popinjay left Dispatch trying to puzzle out all of this and exited his Crown Victoria with his nighstick and his flashlight.

"Car 28 are you there? Car 34 sounds like he is 11-96. Calling for backup. Maybe 374B or something else. I can't figure it out. . .". Squawk!

As Popinjay approached Sharon stood there defiantly with her arms crossed. "Get that effing light out of my face you @#$#%-wad!" She said. "You people refused to pick up the @$#!% garbage!"

"That's fine," Popinjay said. "What is wrong with that man?" He shone his light on Snuffles groveling in the sand making little cries.

"Please don't beat me!" Snuffles said. His experience with both sides of the law had been in the past equal in violence.

"He is drunk!" Sharon said. "Because nobody cares about him. What the !@#!@#$! is wrong with you people? You cut our health care and the children dying in Gaza from all the bombing, you chop off the library and the food stamps and you make retirement impossible and then you refuse to pick up the !@#@!# garbage! What is wrong with you ASSHOLES!"

Officer Popinjay was taken aback. The citizens at the annual pancake breakfast had not prepared him for someone like this one filled with outrage.

"Uh, ma'am, what are you doing down here?" he said, trying to regain a sense of Authority.

This only served to throw Sharon into a red hot rage worse than what already propelled her.

I am tossing out the trash you !@$$-#00!

"I am tossing out the trash you !@$$-#00! refuse to pickup despite the fact we pay enormous sums of money to the city. I spend all day every day taking care of all the people you people just throw away like garbage in the Fruitvale District, I take care of the poor, the sick, the wounded, the dying, the mentally blasted and the PTSD from your evil wars, and the insane every effing day -- I WOULD EXPECT YOU !@#!F#-ERS WOULD DO YOUR EFFING JOB! THAT IS ALL I ASK! JUST DO YOUR JOB!"

With that Sharon broke down into a combination of hacking, wheezing and weeping, which is a really ugly sight if you have ever witnessed such a thing.

"Car 34 are you still requesting backup for that 11-54?" Squawk!

"Uh negatory dispatch. Situation uh resolved." Squawk!

"Car 34 we got a barfight at the Lost Weekend Lounge. It's a 245 -- could you respond and, like, deal with it?" Squawk!

So Officer Popinjay let Sharon and Snuffles off with a a ticket for illegal parking at the beach after stated hours and the two of them got a stern lecture not to be seen driving in the park after dark ever again and then responded to the new call with all his lights and sirens going, which -- as Officer Popinjay saw it -- was the really fun part of the job -- to drive fast with the lights and the siren going like Adam 12.

As Sharon collected Snuffles to drop him off at Marlene and Andre's place where he maintained his winter squat beneath the floorboards of the front deck, way out in the Bay a periscope above the waves observed all of this activity. All of this and more had been witnessed by the captain and crew of the Iranian spy submarine the AIS Chadoor.

The lights of a commercial jet passed overhead on its way to deliver its passengers to Oakland International. There, a rotund Mr. Howitzer III stumped down the debarkation tube and through the backside of Security to the baggage area where a patient Dodd collected his new master along with his luggage so as to bring him to the mansion on the Island. Mr. Howitzer v.3.0 had arrived.

"I do not understand how this infidel empire can have so much wealth and so many suffer," the First Mate said to the Captain. "There is much I do not understand."

"The first cost of any aspiration to power is empathy," said the Captain. "The final cost is humanity itself. One can only hope to find a place to live between the two before the last bill arrives."

As Mr. Howitzer v.3.0 stumped up the paved walk past the two stone lions on Grand Street prepatory to laying down the law as it would be under his regime, the periscope descended and the Iranian spy sub ran silent, ran deep out beneath the golden gate.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the waves of the estuary laving against the riprap shore and then over the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the shadow of mountains to parts unknown.

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



OCTOBER 17, 2012

With staff housebound by means of broken bones we have time to devote to the News. Sorry we cannot attend any events right now but the drugs won't allow it; that's the way it is. And since the Mountain break means a break in issues, we would remiss if we did not make good on our promise to provide 52 issues per year.

Herewith is the first of the three-part Special Elections Issue series.


You may have noticed more than usual a plethora of illusory deceptions, smoke-machine effects, blood-curdling shrieks of panic, zombies and vampires beckoning with seductive promises, crowds of people screaming bloody murder, and atrocious suspense-building music -- that's right, major election campaigns are out in full force.

Well, dear readers, here is Island-Life with its own endorsements, which you may feel free to ignore or evaluate as your wont.

We will begin by honestly admitting a left-leaning bias in our endorsement of the Obama-Biden ticket before getting to the stuff that really matters locally.

In our research we employed, which presents relatively objective and fact-based analyses of Propositions. We then looked at, which follows the money.

During the debates we employed the Annenberg Foundation entity and the independent, Pulitzer-prize winning, which is a e-pub of the Tampa Bay Times.

Along the way we glanced through ABC, Salon, and ThedailyBeast, the latter of which had the best analysis of the Moderator, Candy Crowley, who was the first moderator in history to fact-check both candidates real time, confirming Obama's Rose Garden speech when he did state the Bengazi attacks were acts of terrorism, and pushing at Obama regarding the high gas prices ("Is this the new normal?")


It is pretty clear that if the Debates, or indeed any of the campaign stuff, are to be more than mere booster sessions for the already-convinced on either side, they need to speak to the rather large number of Independent/Disaffecteds. Neither candidate helped themselves much with the scads of half-truths fired, although the town-hall style of fielding questions from the floor did allow one fellow to lead the GOP's big elephant into the china shop, and by elephant we do not mean the party symbol but the disastrous legacy of George W. Bush, an administration even the most die-hard conservative admits needed serious repudiation.

Romney has to distance himself from The Shrub, as Molly Ivins used to call him, for the vast majority of independents want absolutely no repeat of the ruinous Bush foreign and domestic policies, let alone "Buckshot" Cheney's cavalier treatment of the Constitution which should in all of its imperious rule-signing balance-of-powers Consitution shredding have had all the libertarians ready to clasp their precious 2ndA scrolls to take up arms against tyranny.

Romney's response was "Those were different times calling for different responses. I am a different person than G.W.Bush so I am calling for different strategies...".

Well, that is not exactly a repudiation, but it is some attempt to distance himself.

Both candidates pretty much stuck to the same lines of attack and same issues that are part of their regular campaigns. We can dismiss the tit-for-tat over the Bengazi attacks, as it really does not matter what you call murder at the end of the day and the response teams have nothing to do with Executive Administration.

Regarding the economy, the statement that things are bad helps and hurts both candidates equally, as Obama definitely inherited quite a mess and turning around a world economy as big as the USA, which got to where it is over the course of 30 years cannot be done quickly no matter how formidible a superman sits in the oval office.

So-called "Obamacare" (actually a term coined by Conservative wonks) remains a matter of discussion, largely because most of the reforms have yet to be implemented. Some things are clear, however. No one will lose their existing health insurance because of it, if only for the stipulation that all citizens must carry health coverage. The other ugly gorilla in the room relates to cost, as independent financial analysts state that removing Obamacare, now that the beast is in motion, would cost the taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.

Fore the same reason the Bush give-away to Big Pharma regarding Medicare prescription meds cannot be ripped out even though the system is dysfunctional -- it will cost too much to change it.

Like it or hate it -- and some folks definitely hate it -- Obamacare is here to stay, and even if Romney tries to rip it all out, Congress will not let him, so his promises stand on sand with the tide coming in fast. The best Romney could do is block additional legislation that would solidify certain provisions and continue the tide of reform towards more changes. Maybe whittle it down until the whole thing becomes impotent, pleasing his industry friends.

No one fools themselves into thinking that the Obamacare movement is finished making reforms. Everyone associated with the initial push for reform knows with a vengeance that they did not get the bulk of what they really wanted in the compromise package that got passed by Congress.

So lets cut to the chase. What real criteria do independents have when making decisions between the two, who sometimes seem like positive/negative reflections of one another?

Lets put aside the hot-button issues of Abortion, terrorism, emigration, current fuel prices, and ephemera like the Bengazi attack - neither candidate has the power to decide those issues unilaterally and the evidence all shows the country is so polarized that these issues will not be resolved within our lifetime, if ever.

In our case, we are learning in journalism that when you want to learn the truth about culpability adhere to the adage "follow the money." The dollar rarely lies, but where it does lie in numbers can reveal a lot.

Looking at the contributions and breakdowns for both campaigns (figures include subsidiaries and associate PACs) this is what has to say about total contributions for both presidential candidates. Obama is left side here and Romney's figures are presented on the right.

Looking at precisely who did give this money reveals all we need to know.

Now you may have different criteria, ranging from warm and fuzzy inclinations to the natural bent held by your party of choice. You may say, looking at these charts, "well that does not say much." When we look at these we say it appears that Romney is financialy supported by some of the most objectionable entities known to sully the waters of American recent history, featuring the most rabidly greedly, vile, detestible organizations primarily infamous for having had a direct hand in causing the present national fiscal crisis at the expense of all the people one can care about.

If corporations really were "people" all of Romney's supporters would be sitting behind bars facing 99 year prison terms.

Furthermore of the contributing industries lumped under "Private" (including direct company donors) we see the top contributors for Obama include Legal, Education, and Health Professionals. For Romney we see listed Securites/Investment, Real Estate, and then Legal.

Here it comes down to where the real value divisions are in the country today. If you happen to be convinced that large wealth, big corporations, and a particular plutocracy of power will guide the country best and do things for you, and you happen to distrust the hoi polloi, the mass of average Americans in their collective ability to get things done well, and you feel that the philosophy of every man for himself results in collective good, then Romney is your man. At least in so far as what he says he is about.

If you distrust the alternative Big Government of corporations (themselves no strangers to wasteful internal bureaucracies), if you feel that the plutocracy is only in the game for themselves and will never do anything for you, if you feel/know the health care system is badly broken and is increasingly failing to provide health care, if you feel that the financial meltdown and the Great Recession were exacerbated, if not directly caused by, unrestricted corporate greed combined with cavalier attitudes toward law, ethics, morality and human suffering, and you feel that each person has a general responsibility as a member of a species to aid and protect others as well as himself for the common good, well then, Obama is your man. In so far as what he says he is about.

Next issue we have a look at State and local candidates as well as State trends in Propositions.


OCTOBER 13, 2012


This week's photo comes courtesy of Tammy, due in the few short hours of a week to become a Chadwick on Park Avenue here on the Island.

Best wishes to the blushing bride and groom to be.


Readers please note that the annual holiday decoration contest web URL has changed. Come Monday, October 29th starting at 7pm through Tuesday, October 30 at 11:59pm you can vote for your favorite Alameda – Haunt Your House! entry by emailing your pick to

The judges will be awarding Most Haunted House, Most Original Entry, Most Halloween Spirit and Most Cans Collected in support of the Alameda Food Bank, but sponsors also will be giving away the People’s Choice Award – but that vote depends on you!

Entries to the 2012 contest and canned food drive will be posted on our website as of noon on October 28. We then encourage all Islanders to take a drive, bike or walk and check out all our frighteningly fabulous entries – then vote for the entry you like best.

If you're a house haunter and you haven’t entered the contest yet, what are you waiting for? It’s a great community event and it supports the Alameda Food Bank. Go to the website and get all the gory details:


It's coming to the High Holy days for gentiles, but that doesn't mean if you are among the Chosen you need to forgo making yontif.

Artisans from 10 Bay Area synagogues are joining together to stage a holiday arts and crafts fair open to the general public Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Temple Sinai in Oakland. The third annual “Community Shuk — Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair" will take place in the temple’s Stern Hall at 28th and Webster streets near downtown Oakland. Plentiful parking is available and admission to the event is free.

On sale will be one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry, paintings, sculptures, fabric arts, apparel, photography, accessories, Judaica gifts, stationery, paper goods, toys, Hanukkah items, greeting cards and ceramics.

Kosher-style food along with fresh coffee and cold beverages will be available for purchase throughout the event, with food provided by The Old World Food Truck and Grand Bakery of Oakland.

Live Klezmer music will be provided by Peter Bonos in the afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m.

Free Hanukkah craft activities will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for youngsters in preschool through second grade. Children can make dreidel magnets, gelt bags, flame candle crowns and candy menorahs to take home with them.

“We are very excited this year to have close to 50 artists from 10 congregations offering a wide array of beautiful goods for sale," says event organizer Susan Levy. "Young families are especially invited to attend and start their holiday shopping in a family-friendly, festive setting.”

Congregations with artists participating in this year’s event include Congregation Shir Ami of Castro Valley, Temple Beth Abraham of Oakland, Beth Israel Judea of San Francisco, Temple Beth Sholom of San Leandro, Kehilla Community Synagogue of Piedmont, Congregation Netivot Shalom of Berkeley, Temple Isaiah of Lafayette, Temple Israel of Alameda and Temple Shomrei Torah of Santa Rosa along with Oakland’s Temple Sinai which is hosting the event.

The fair’s venue is wheelchair accessible.


The Letters have been abuzz over the new city-wide anti-smoking ordinance with folks concerned about health saying one thing and folks concerned about civil liberties saying another about the most radical ban in the Bay Area prohibiting smoking in any public place, inside any public building, next to any public or multi-family building, or even on the stairwells and walkways of publicly accessible private property.

There is big front page news about the 880 revisions that will chop two access points to the island for two years to be replaced with fewer lanes altogether. This news has a lot of folks hopping mad, understandably.

Meanwhile a perusal of the police blotter indicates between 6-8 persons per week being detained "for psychiatric evaluation," which is kindspeak for 3day 5150 hold at John George, a place known more for its Dickensian atmosphere than its salubrious efforts.

Seems we will have to do a piece on places like Sausal Creek Outpatient facility to slow this tide of 5150's getting charged to the County's expense -- and by extension us taxpayers.


Well-a-day and well-a-day but it seems a bit of a good old fashioned journalistic Donnybrook set-to may be about to entertain all of us here. Strange vibrations in the columns indicate the scruffy homegrown Sun is getting miffy with the well-heeled outsider Journal that will make the Big Game between the East End and the West End that happened explosively last week look like a small potatoes melee.

Locals know that the cross-town rivalry between the West Ender Encinal Jets and the East Ender Alameda High goes back generations to the days when Grand Street marked the borderline between the turf wars. Every year the stands sell out to the last rivet of the bleachers for this epic gridiron battle.

Now it seems we have two weeklies here in town and people are wondering if the place is big enough for the both of them.


Speaking of the Big Game, the bigger folks who look to the annual clash of the Red and the Blue in December will be shocked to learn that The Bears of Cal go up against Stanford U in the 115th Big Game this Saturday, October 20th due to league restrictions. So for the first time in 114 years the traditional Big Game will not be played in late November or December.

The first Big Game in 1892 resulted in a 14-10 victory for Stanford, and ever since, the annual game has been the cause of a week’s worth of entertainment at both schools. Big Game Week staple Gaieties, this year entitled “The Last Temptation of Cal,” will be performed in Memorial Auditorium (at Stanford) Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m. and will be accented by many other events throughout the week, while Cal students hold a traditional pep rally and bonfire at the Hearst Greek Theatre on the eve of the game.

It is the tenth longest rivalry in NCAA Division I FBS football. Stanford leads the series record at 57–46–11 (wins–losses–ties). Stanford won the most recent Big Game on November 19, 2011 31–28. Stanford has won three of the last five Big Games, following a five-game winning streak by Cal, which itself followed a seven-game winning streak by Stanford. The location of the Big Game alternates between the two universities every year. In even-numbered years, the game is played at Berkeley, while in odd-numbered years, it is played at Stanford. The 115th Big Game will take place at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

The Big Game is the biggest college football event in the Bay Area and has a rich history. Future U.S. President Herbert Hoover was the Stanford team manager for the first Big Game, held in 1892. The term "Big Game" was first used in 1900, when it was played on Thanksgiving Day in San Francisco. During that game, a large group of spectators observing from the roof of the nearby S.F. and Pacific Glass Works fell into the fiery interior of the building when the roof collapsed, resulting in 13 people dying and 78 people injured.

In 1906, citing concerns about the violence in football, both schools dropped football in favor of rugby, which was played for the Big Games of 1906–14.

California resumed playing football in 1915, but Stanford's rugby teams continued until 1917. From 1915–1917, California's "Big Game" was their game against Washington, while Stanford played Santa Clara as their rugby "Big Game". The 1918 game, in which Cal prevailed 67–0, is not considered an official game because Stanford's team was composed of volunteers from the Student Army Training Corps stationed at Stanford, some of whom were not Stanford students. The game resumed as football in 1919, and has been played as such every year since, except from 1943 to 1945, when Stanford shut down its football program due to World War II.

The conclusion of the 85th Big Game on November 20, 1982 remains one of the most spectacular and controversial plays in college football history. In what is still referred to as "The play", four Cal players lateraled the ball backwards five times on a kickoff return with four seconds left on the clock. Kevin Moen ran for a touchdown, knocking down the final Stanford "defender", a trombone player named Gary Tyrell, who had prematurely run onto the field with the rest of the band to celebrate his own team's supposed victory.

To this date both schools record the game's outcome in their own favor with the legitamacy of "the play" in dispute.

Normally we don't take sides on matters of significance, save in favor of common sense, but here the stand we must take is unquestionable.

Go Bears!


So anyway bright sunshine in the day has some folks scampering about in shortsleeves, which fools neither the Love Monkeys nor the Canadian Geese, all of whom have been flocking as has been their wont since time immemorial. The geese form gaggles and chevrons heading south and the Love Monkeys put on boots with midi-skirts to let us all know now is the time to start some serious cuddling beside some kind of fire someplace.

If you want to know what a Love Monkey is, then you have not lived over in Babylon across the water from here and we will just have to refer you to the Tourist Bureau.

Autumn is the time when things change. Anyone who has anything to do with planting has done all that and is getting about collecting what remains. Folks with fruit trees in their yards around here hold harvest parties so as to get some free labor cleaning up all that rotting detritus. Besides, no matter how good they are, how many Meyer's lemons you gonna eat up anyway. It's great kite flying weather though, with the newly zippy winds coming in off the Strand.

stories circulate how the last owner killed himself

Now that the Spooky time of year has drifted over the lawns with the spectral scent of hearthfires and crisping oak leaves swirling in breezes that seem to emanate from nowhere the kids start noticing things like the old house on Central with its boarded up windows and its weedy yard. Been untenanted and seemingly abandoned for years now, and stories circulate how the last owner killed himself in the basement when the Boom went Bust in 2005. The Great Recession is full of such stories, and of course the other story goes that the house is owned by one of the de Youngs who just has no time or interest in any property worth less than a million or two, however the former ghastly tale carries more zing, especially when walking by late at night and someone needs a dare to go up and peek through the window slats under the full moon laced by the bare tree branches up above.

Now, of course, is the time when revenants walk among us and a strange chill touches the shoulder just so amid a silent musing in the grass.

preserved tchotchkes of the past arise from the dust of memorable eons and old scarves

This musing all gets a jump start when the tubs come out of the garage or the attic so the cold weather gear can get brought out as the summer shorts and bathing suits get put away. Thats when the old yearbooks, the albums, the preserved tchotchkes of the past arise from the dust of memorable eons and old scarves knitted by old aunts who never ever had been young within your memory.

Here in a brass-bound chest you find a wooden box that opens to show a tuxedo man waltzing on a metal rod with a gown girl to some kind of tune you cannot recall because it was old before your time. The box a gift from one of those aged aunts and in there a note which reads, "Those were the best times of my life."

You cannot even remember the name of the aunt who gave it to you or what year that was she went into the Altenheim, but by now you have two kids gone to college and a mortgage of your own to be concerned with along with all the dusty baggage that goes along with the one-way ticket on time's train still chugging forward. Didn't that aunt have a niece or whatever who was much taken with you or vice versa, she in her serious frock and pedal-pushers? What on earth was her name?

that splendidly gorgeous blue and gold and red kite from so high

You briefly consider putting the thing up on the mantel, but the missus would ask about it and you would have nothing to relate her to it and so you put this memory away in the trunk and close it up just as the neighbor's dog barks and you remember she had a dog, a Shepard that came bounding up the drive each time you arrived on your bicycle and the time you went kite flying, her and that girl whose name you cannot remember for the life of you and now you are pulling in that splendidly gorgeous blue and gold and red kite from so high up you thought you would have lost it forever and down it comes along that thing tether with the dog racing after and you pulling it in like mad and the dog about to grab it away and tear that blue and gold memory to pieces until suddenly there it is, reeled in and handed right into your hands by her, that girl, who had went running after it over the wind-tossed time-lost weeds cluttering that distant field . . . Betsy! Her name was Betsy!

Right then the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the waves of the estuary laving against the riprap walls of memosyne and the dreaming Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the mountains to parts unknown.

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



OCTOBER 7, 2012


There has been some discussion recently riffing off of a politician's recent faux pas involving percentages. Should anyone have slept through public school math class let us remind all of you about relative values here.


Even though 2/3rds of our reporting team is out due to injuries, life goes on in our little town.

While the Blue Angels tore up the skies for Fleet Week, the peaceful gathered at Hellman Meadows for another iteration of HSB. Here at home the Webster Street Faire, nee Peanut Butter Jam Fest, held forth for the weekend on a seasonal Fright theme for, let it be known, the month-long season of parties and costume fantasy and outrageousness that culminates in the children- sometimes-allowed virtual holiday called Halloween by some has launched itself with a thousand canapés and glowskulls.

The season is infused in our multi-culti Bay Area by the concurrent observances of Samhain, Autumnal Solstice and the Latin-infused Dias de los Muertos, together with the somewhat Xian All Souls and Hallowed'ween, giving everybody a reason to party.

Let us not forget opportunity for scads of costume balls and outdoor misbehaviors, such as the always impromptu Castro Happening as well as the more organized licentious mayhem of the Exotic Erotic Ball

In our timetravelled town neighbors still hold old-fashioned trick or treat for the kids, who now pursue parental-designed routes to "safe houses" where all the artistry bottled up over the year is allowed to let loose in fabulous creations of smoke machines, eerie noises, immense spiders, and lots of bones scattered about the yard.

Yes, autumn is the time to be here in the Bay Area, where even the most fustian among us lets it all hang out for a freaky good time.

There are any number of psychological rational explanations for this indulgence in role playing, fantasy, and macabre "terror" when the world is packed to the gills these days with very real monsters and very real causes for terror, but it all can be summarized by three words: "It is fun!"


880 Corridor Work to Impact Alameda

The Alameda County Transportation Commission (CTC) and CalTrans approved a project last month that will replace the freeway overcrossings on 23rd and 29th avenues on Northbound I-880.

Plans are to replace the 29th Avenue two-lane bridge with a fourlane bridge. It will also take away a portion of East Ninth Street to accommodate a wider exit ramp that would elevate up to a new traffic signal on the 29th Avenue Bridge.

Construction will impact Alameda traffic during the proposed construction period from mid-2013 to mid-2017. The project is planned to have traffic backups on Park Street and Buena Vista Avenue — on weekday mornings and evenings — and Park Street and Clement Avenue — on weekday evenings, according to the draft environmental impact transportation analysis, which was approved by CalTrans in April 2010.

There will be no "Spirit Store" here on the Island for this Halloween, however the letters to the Editor remain spirited on the most recent flaps in City Hall. Officer O'Madhauen is cropping in the letters more and more regarding our idiosyncratic parking and traffic enforcement here, which more resembles Bulgarian Border Guard behavior than Mayberry RFD, earning this place a rather sour reputation around the Bay. Recently someone got ticketed for parking in the public lot and patronizing Southshore Mall. Problem was the person did business in one place then walked, actually walked, to the next business instead of moving their car a hundred feet or so inside the parking area.

A few others are righteously outraged at the 2am rave show presented by the appropriately named "Insomniacs Inc." But people, this show took place in a neighboring city; there was nothing the PD here could do about it at the time. Rest assured, however, that our Mayor Marie is dealing with the owners of O.Co coliseum and the Oakland Mayor's office along with San Leandro, which also got its fair share of noise that morning.

The Target planned for Alameda Landing appears a shoo-in now, along with the CVS expansion store on the Park Street site of the former Good Chevrolet dealership.

Now, just to keep a few Halloween dollars on the Island if we could just lobby for a Spirit Store as well . . . .


*Sent: *Monday, October 8, 2012 12:37:30 PM

The Navy will host a public meeting to discuss the Proposed Plan for Operable Unit (OU)-2C Installation Restoration (IR) Sites 5, 10, and 12.

Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Location: Alameda Point Main Office Building 1, Room 201,
950 West Mall Square, Alameda, CA 94501

  • Economic development strategy prepared with federal grant Completed by end of 2012.
  • Navy-to-Alameda land transfer (first phase) End of 2012
  • VA facilities first architectural drawings February 2013
  • WETA ferry maintenance facility work begins October 2012
  • Seaplane Lagoon Waterfront Town Center planning begins with MTC grant
  • More Information: City-Hall - Press-Releases


So anyway, everybody has figured out this politics thing actually can be interesting, especially since George Bush proved that it really does matter who gets elected, if only for the legions of imbeciles and wharf rat personalities that can get ushered into power over the rest of us behind the principal figurehead as happened during GWB's benighted administration, which even the most died-in-the-wool Conservative realized needed some serious repudiation long before Year 8 of that extended national catastrophe the fallout from which shall be trickling down on our heads for years to come.

Over at the mansion fronted by stone lions on Grand Street our main man and the deceased Mr. Howitzer's footstool, Dodd, was engaged in a lively session involving a computer and that new fangled technology, Skype.

When Dodd got the news that Mr. Howitzer II had gone to meet, if not his maker in heaven then his master in a far different place, a sort of heady euphoria thrilled him and he had, after proving suitable condolences, gone straight to the cellars to there retrieve a bottle of cognac which had been retrieved from the shattered hold of the Titanic and sold at auction to the first edition of Mr. Howitzer.

He got on the horn and called up the "missus" who headed right on over for delightful little celebration. The facts may be that Dodd was post-Howitzer now out of a job, but seldom has a former employee felt so blessedly released, for Howitzers I and II both had used and abused the poor man for thirty years, with the first keeping the man firmly tied to indenture and the Second by means of the old Company Store stratagem, for it was from the Howitzers that Dodd and the missus had leased their digs.

Howitzer v.2.0 had gone sailing out into the abyss during the ill-fated Mountain Sabbatical

Now Howitzer v.2.0 had gone sailing out into the abyss during the ill-fated Mountain Sabbatical, an endeavor to which he had neither been entitled nor invited, but which had included him of necessity by means of ledger dexterity. Everyone stood in debt to the man by way of the leases to his Corporation so the man would have his way, and his way vectored the course of the Expedition from the bucolic Les Montagnes des Papillions to the ferociously manly Abuelta de Diablo.

With consequences as previously described.

Hence Dodd and the missus roistered and even Eisenhower the dog got to play with the bones laced with South African port from the larder. Never before did that hound reek so aristocratically. All was grand until there came a phone call.

Of course there had to be a phone call. Followed by the incredulous Skype session in the chambers of the former owner of the place.

The Skype session was timed to start right at the start of the business day. In London.

Dodd gasped when the screen came up to display the spitting image of his deceased employer.

"Dodd! I want to to prepare the manse for my arrival!" barked the apparition.

"You! You . . . you're dead!"

"You! You . . . you're dead!"

"No I am not!" snapped the ghost in the machine. Which paused a moment before delightedly thrusting its bushy Howitzer-eyebrows upward, its Howitzer mouth forming first an 'O' before settling into a wicked grin. "I say, folks say I am the spitting image of old Harry! Heh heh . . . ".

"You are . . .", Dodd began.

"I am Harrold Howitzer III. Heard I just inherited a bit of American baggage across the pond. Well then. I am coming to have a look. Stay a while. Make the place ready. O, I say is that a portrait of His Majesty I see behind you?"

"Yes sir. Mr. . . uh, your predecessor had his chambers done up in the style of King George III."

"Perfect! I shall so love this! Make the place ready, O and there is bottle of brandy. Stands on the inventory. Fetched from the Luisitania or somewhat . . .".

"Titanic, sir."

"Titanic, Luisitania. Whatever. All the same to me. Have that one ready for I mean to have guests."

"Where have you been all this time," blurted Dodd.

"O fiddling about. Learning how the Commons should behave. Make the place ready for I fly out direct tomorrow."

"Oh dear . . .".


"Yes sir! Yes sir!"

"Fix your tie. Smarten up and be ready." Click.

"O my o my o my!" the missus burst out. "Whatever shall we do?"


"The cognac! Nothing will ever come close to that!"

"Nothing to be done. Lets get to bed and start cleaning up the place tomorrow morning.

As the couple went down the hall to the guest bedroom where they had been having the time of their lives for the past fortnight they passed by the dog lapped up his vittles from a silver plate which first had seen the merry sun of ye olden times in France before being set before the Sun King himself in his court at Versailles.

Dodd went back to fetch the now drained cognac bottle.

"I say, Eisenhower! Let's go for a little walk outside. . .".

Right then the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the blue water, over the waves of the estuary and the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the mountains' majesty to parts unknown.

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

September 30, 2012


This week's photo is of the National Park Service Search and Rescue team in operation performing a backcountry evac. near Wanda Lake. Pilot's name was Jeremy. EMT was named Tom, who had, it must be noted, a history of walking away from at least one crashed Chinook.

One of the Island-Life staff was critically injured during the Annual Mountain Sabbatical and had to be helicoptered to the CRMC trauma center in Fresno. Story below.


There is some of the same old news and some of the same old news with wrinkles worth noting.

House on Innismore way burned down in a rare total loss fire here. Wrinkle here is a ghostly repetition of the Memorial Day excuse for the loss of a man's life down at the Strand: due to budget constraints we could not save man/house.

The new firechief stated that budget cutbacks meant that over six firefighters were already engaged in ambulance duties, resulting in only one firetruck response.

If you had trouble sleeping Saturday night, blame event producers Insomniac Inc., who presented Beyond Wonderland Bay Area, an event on the Oakland Coliseum grounds that featured three outdoor music areas as well as art installations. Attendees apparently enjoyed a good time, however numerous Island and San Leandro residents complained to OPD about the noise that continued well past two AM.

As for the Park(let) day on Park Street, there were few complaints aginst the low-key fest which featured turning parking spaces into temporary public green spaces. The idea was first concieved in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio, as a way of getting people to rethink how streets are used and to promote discussion and debate about changes to the urban infrastructure's congestion and pollution.

Our Island version was formulated by BikeAlameda board member Donna Eyestone, designed by Planning Board vice president and architect David Burton and Planning Board member (and former Transportation Commission chair) John Knox White.

During the 12 hour event (8 AM to 8PM) crowds thrilled to see the last flight of the space Shuttle Endeavor as it flew directly across City Hall before heading south to its permanent retirement home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.


Starting Oct. 3, 2012, the City will begin work to install asphalt patches along the following segments of streets that have significant pavement deterioration and potholes: Sherman, Santa Clara, and HarborBay Parkway.

The work is estimated to take two weeks, and construction hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. During construction, motorists will experience minor disruption in traffic, temporary loss of parking spaces, temporary restricted street access, as well as an increase in noise and dust levels. It is possible that on-street parking along Clement Avenue will be removed for up to one week during construction hours.

In general, one lane of traffic will remain open at all times in both directions and bus stop access will be maintained throughout the project. However, the construction work will result in short-term lane closures on Sherman Street from Eagle Avenue to Wind River Drive and Santa Clara Avenue from Park Street to Everett Street, and it is expected to result in delays of two to three hours. Motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes.

The contractor is required to post “No Parking “ signs on barricades at least 72 hours in advance of construction work and individual property owners will also be notified of the parking restrictions.


The Annual Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical ended prematurely and nearly tragically. While climbing off-trail above Wanda Lake at 11,400 feet Denby suffered a knee fracture and fell into a talus slope. In extreme pain and unable to walk, he managed to get someone's attention across the lake by waving his hiker's staff, which sports bright red duct tape.

The following individuals went out of their way to stay with him through the night on the talus where temps dropped below 28 degrees.

David Price and Andy Paul of San Diego.
Pierre Provost, MD and Paul Dally, MD of Vancouver Canada
Dominic and Alex of Santa Cruz paused to gather details before hot-footing to the Le Conte ranger station.

Denby was evacuated via helicopter the following morning at 9:30am and went into surgery at Kaiser Oakland two days later.

We want to thank all those who revised trip plans to assist with this medical emergency in the wilderness of King's Canyon National Park.

Denby will be in a leg cast for the next two months, so Island-Life may be running a big thin as we go into the next year.


So anyway the weather looks to be heading for that last season burst of warm temps and sunny skies that is meant to console people from SoCal around here.

Mrs. Almeida harvested the last bumper crop of pole beans off the trellis, and Wally next door has been fussing about the green budding promises of late squash.

All the squirrels have been going at it like mad under the shadows of newly mustered squadrons of Canadian Geese.

Every year those big fellows come wheeling through here to drop off a few garrisons to hold the fortress and bother the greenskeepers of the Mif Albright golf course with their barrages of goosepoop.

leaving behind a few stragglers to deal with Nature's bounty

It has been like that in California down through the ages as one army after another stomped on through here with every intention of victorious returns to the homeland, but always leaving behind a few stragglers to deal with Nature's bounty of earthquakes, raging wildfires, multi-year droughts, ill-tempered neighbors, xenophobia, annoying tourists, onerous taxes, preposterous money-making schemes that wreck the countryside, and the grandiose scenery which was the main reason for staying in the first place.

In the Old Same Place Bar those sons and daughters descended from those same stragglers and illegal immigrants who entered the Mexican department of Alta California without visas or passports long ago sat discussing the usual subjects of scandal, news and politics.

Papoon, of the liberal party, has revived his campaign slogan of "Not Insane" to rally his supporters against the reviled Grossly Orotund Party represented by the conservative Babar, who, as a potentate of a formerly French colony, holds the primary qualifications desired: aristocratic presumptions, a disdain for the hoi polloi, and money. In addition, the very image of his corpus exemplifies the traditional symbol of his party.

Naturally, as in every Presidential election, there are minor lights contending as representatives of this or that faction, each claiming to be the real voice of the People, and if not the vox poplum, then of The Way Things Ought to Be.

Eugenia Stench of the Pee Tardy Party pushes a gargantuan standing Army, no taxes on anyone earning more than $80,000 per year, and a return to Augustan discipline featuring public flogging in the schools and in the workplace, oil drills in everyone's backyard, the re-institution of HUAC in Congress, and the elimination of all entitlements, such as Military death benefits, the National Weather Service and all public toilets.

As the evening advanced toward that inevitable Last Call, the talk turned from politics to social issues and the notable absence of certain regulars there.

And what happened at the disastrous Mountain Sabbatical.

The Editor puffed his cigar, quite against the new civic law against smoking indoors, outdoors, or under a gazebo. His good left hand behind his back, his right arm in a sling, he contemplated the desolate normally neat newsroom, which now featured opened tubes of anticeptic cremes, boxes of gauze, rolls of paper tape and steri-strips, sagging reusable cold packs, pill bottles with names like dilaudid, hydrocodone, hydromorphone 7, percoset, cyclobenzaprine and the ever favorite ibuprofen 600.

With irritation he threw a bundle of gauze soiled with nasty colors of yellow, green and rust into a bin and turned to stare out the window, remembering again that day and its aftermath.

The wind was sharp with gusts bitterly loaded with fine-grained crystal needles of ice

They were all strung out on the line, each connected by way of carabiner, the entire staff traversing the treacherous glacial cirque of the formidible Abuelta de Diablo. The wind was sharp with gusts bitterly loaded with fine-grained crystal needles of ice that stung any exposed skin. Each step a laborious effort through snowpack in air above 12,800 feet. Above them the needle-sharp pinnacles of the ridge. Below them, the steep slope of the cirque which dropped off in a sheer drop at the bergschrund crevice, followed by the 500 foot cliff to the granite-tumbled moraine and an aqua-tinted tarn below.

The Editor led with his cigar glowing through the rime-encrusted halo of his parka, his ice-ax steadily chopping ahead, his breath coming out in miniature cumulus clouds.

Behind him Jose, Javier, Denby, Chad, Tammy, and all the rest of the Staff strung out into the swirling clouds of snow lifted by the wind. At the tail end, Mr. Howitzer II stumped along steadily as the pure Conservative he was, with his blackthorn cane.

The Editor had very nearly reached the talus chute that marked the far side when he heard a shrill cry.

He looked back down the line to see Denby fall over sideways and go scudding down towards the precipice.

Each tethered to the line cried out, each according this or her respective character as one by one each was yanked from solid footing. "Heyyy!" said Tammy. "Eff!" said Sharon. "Ah mi dios!" cried Jose as he abruptly arced through space to face plant into the glacier. "O shit," went Chad before the line jerked his feet from under him.

line went taut to either end, pulling all of them towards the brink of death

Each called out as the line went taut to either end, pulling all of them towards the brink of death and yanking the Editor clear of his feet, his round body going airborne like a volleyball that splashed a spray of snow powder before sliding downward.

"Ah madre de dios!" called out Javier as he went next, flailing without use at the slick glacier ice.

Mr. Howitzer, last in line, called out "There go your entitlements!" before neatly cutting the line with his bowie knife. "Ha ha! The strongest survive always!" He took a step, intending to use the path of the steps taken by the others, but a Sooty Ptarmigan tumbling in the wind by his head so distracted him he flailed at the clumsy bird with his staff. Which caused him to slip loose and go glissading on his back past all the others, soon reaching terminal velocity of 70 mph before sailing out over the edge into the grey nothingness of the bergschrund below.

"Excelsiorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr . . . !"

As they all slid to the same fate, the Editor turned onto his belly and drove down the point of his ice ax, which held, the leather cord rapped around his wrist.

It was Sharon who saved them all, driving down her ice ax to anchor the arrest with the rope wrapped around her waist. There they all hung until first Tammy, then Jose, followed by Javier, plunged their ice axes into the glacier to hold the line fast. There they all panted for a moment, hearts returning to proper pace, the wind whipping the snow crystals over them. The Editor pulled himself up, set his crampons and slowly, laboriously inched over to the talus, his right arm going numb and useless. He could hear Javier chopping steadily behind him but he did not look back until he could wind a loop of the cord around a solid granite point.

One by one each of the staff clambered and fell onto the relative safety of the talus pile until Sharon and chad passed over the ominous Vee made by the two strands that disappeared over the edge of the precipice. Chad threw himself onto a flat slab of granite and looked back.

"Denby! Are you alright!"

"Noooooooo!" came back the distinct response.

"Very well, lets haul him up," said the Editor.

then the Editor would shout, "Try harder! God dammit try harder!"

So they all pitched in until the dark huddle of Denby appeared at the edge, where he was able to grab hold and haul himself with his ice ax, still strapped around his wrist. At moments the heavy living load barely budged on the tether and then the Editor would shout, "Try harder! God dammit try harder!"

With the staff hauling in the bitter wind and Denby using his ax, inch by painful inch, they got him up half way. It appeared he could not use his right leg at all.

During a breather he thought to lose his backpack and after that the hauling got easier.

Almost at the talus, the Editor called down, "What's wrong with your leg?"

"Broken," Denby said before passing out.

As for that miserable night spent up on the slopes of Abuelta de Diablo we shall not speak. Denby's knee was out of joint. The Editor's right arm was dislocated. Jose's face was a mask of blood from when he had landed on the glacier. Everyone would suffere frostbite before it was over.

Inside the wind-battered tent fly which had been erected among the boulders Javier queried the Editor.

"Tell me, please, Senor just why we do this thing every year."

The Editor looked up from his jury-rigged PLB hooked to a cell phone."It's to create character," he said.

"Right now this character would really like some caldo de pollo."

"Were you born in California?"

The following morning the helicopter answered the Editor's linked beacon and, one by one, the staffers were airlifted out of that place to CRMC in Fresno where a self-appointed gateway nurse behind the appointed triage asked each one the most important question, the correct answer to which each one of you must know if you plan on having a medical emergency in Fresno:

"Were you born in California?"

Each one of the staff had been prepped and coached by the Editor while still on the mountain.

"Yes of course."

When several days and several surguries later, all of them had returned to the Island, each began to catch up on news and events which had transpired during their week-long escapade.

Standing in the Offices in relative safety at the start of a late season heat wave, the Editor wondered to himself just how he was going to wind this thing up.

"Thinking about something?" Javier asked.

"I am just wondering what I am to say to Mrs. Howitzer," the Editor responded.

"Well, it seems to me the Senor, um, died pretty much like a true Conservative. Not giving an inch, I mean," Javier said.

"That's the ticket!" responded the Editor.

Meanwhile, as the clock ticked into the new day, Pedro listened sadly to the latest broadcast from his favorite Media Preacher on This Lutheran Hour. True to his modest roots, the Lutheran Hour recently provided only 45 minutes so as not to demand too much time of the faithful.

"My friends we switch to a shorter format so as not to take any more time from you, you who are the salt of the earth, the hard-working folk who get barely 48 hours of rest before mounting that tractor, sliding behind that desk, opening that garage door for another week of labor.

All is Time in the face of the Infinity yawning before each one of us

I cannot take more time from you, for All is Time in the face of the Infinity yawning before each one of us like a precipice beyond which no one shall return. My words -- I have only words in the end -- are only a slim tether and I do not know if any of what I do matters. Are any of you listening at all . . . "?

What good was it to say that in the end words are all we have to hold us by a slim tether to life. For some this tether is to Life Everlasting, but in any case words are all we have. Who here has not stood beside the stricken widow in the aftermath of personal tragedy, searching in front of a vast, overwhelming tsunami of grief for "the right words to say?"

If Pedro could find some way to broadcast from his tiny fishing boat in the Pacific his message, it would be "Do not be like the man who would hide his flashlight under a basket of turtles amid the darkness." Or something like that, even though he was only a fisherman, unskilled in parables and poorer for all that in words.

Or simply, when the massive tonnage of imbecility that presses down upon all of us in these times overwhelms the strength, "Try harder. Just try harder."

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the blue water, over the waves of the estuary and the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey beneath the shadow of mountains to parts unknown.

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


September 08, 2012


Island Life sent staff over to Everett and Jones at Jack London Square for the end of the DNC Convention. Word had it E&J had gotten phonecalls threatening to violently disrupt the venue because this was the night Obama would deliver his speech to the Convention.

Everett & Jones is a family-run, privately held chain of local BBQ joints that began at the intersection of 26th and Fruitvale. That venue, which served takeout only up to two in the morning from behind bullet-proof glass has long since closed, but other sit-down places, including one on the Island, are run by various members of the family which maintains a fierce local pride as well as a strong sense of civic responsibility.

The place at Jack London includeds a large backroom where local blues musicians come to jam on the weekends. This room is often provided to the community for various public gatherings, and includes several large video screens, all of which presented a live feed from the DNC Convention this week.

There was no sight of disruptive troublemakers in or around the place that night. Instead nearly a hundred East Bay folks gathered to hear Brother Obama speak.

He spoke stirringly and he spoke well. Unlike Biden, who seemed fatigued, sometimes slurring words, Obama was clear-eyed and sharp.

As the pundits mentioned, he did not offer promises or dwell on accomplishments beyond the rescue of the American Auto industry. He left it to the supporters to remind people that his Administration ended the war in Iraq, it was under his watch that Bin Laden was ferreted out and killed, and the country was narrowly yanked from financial ruin.

Instead he reminded the faithful -- and anyone who would listen -- that this election is not about issues, which any candidate can twist to his or her liking, making all sorts of promises that clearly are pure products of the campaign trail smoke and mirrors.

This campaign is about values -- and not the distorted "values" that a few marginal groups claim to be entirely their own province -- but the essential core that is now unmistakeably differentiated by each candidate.

Where Romney is about Big business, favoring the wealthy, currying favor with powerful Elites under some recapitulation of the Trickle-Down Theory, Obama is about the People, and he reminded everyone that "this election is not about me. It is about you. This is your election, not mine."

Everything else he said that night, stirring as it might have been, really took a back seat to this one major point. Half hidden there is the reminder of just how bad things were when he took office and that taking a huge backward step to repeat the same dismal policies that produced our present dire circumstances is recipe for disaster.

Well pundits have already analyzed that speech up the wazoo. We would just like to say that in E&J that night a whole lot of people with a whole lot of personal experience pin their hopes on the man, 'cause we all know already what to expect from the other side.

One thing to note about the Convention itself, and a bit about the room that night, to further differentiate the people involved: at the RNC you had the figureheads stand up there delivering speeches to a quiet crowd to the point someone says something meant to inspire and everyone stands and cheers and waves their flags or banners or whatever. Then everyone quiets down and sits there as if in a Methodist pew before another rally point is raised and everyone stands up and cheers.

At the DNC, there was far more of a revival tent atmosphere of participatory involvement that featured a great deal of spontaneous individual shouting out.

"And I tell you another thing . . ."

"Right on brother! Say it again!"

"... all shall be included ...".

"My choice! It's MY choice!"

In fact Obama had to raise his hand at times to calm the folks. Well that is the way Democracy runs. It gets unruly. And it is good so.

The occasion being what it was, a few VIPs came to speak, among them Supervisor Keith Carson, who has long been a bulwark for the community here when he has to deal with Sacramento. He reminded people that this election matters and that no one should assume that the incumbent has an automatic shoo-in, bringing up memories of 1986 when Tom Bradley ran for California governor and lost because supporters assumed he would waltz into the office. He actually tried for office twice, the first time in 1982, losing to Deukmajian on each effort due largely to what some analysts call "racial divide."

We sent people over to E&J because we have been committed to positive community action for 15 years and more. We sent staff to help monitor the elections in 200 -- those staffers put time and money and their lives on the line in Florida. We have had staff perform as Elections officials for ROV.

Get out and vote when the time comes and if you have a spare moment get on over to Frank Ogawa Plaza, fourth floor, and pitch in a few minutes of time for the DNC. After all, it is YOUR election.



It's the last days of summer 2012 and everything is burgeoning despite the coastal pogonip. Nothing says it quite like this spray of sunflowers swaying from a nine-foot stalk in someone's backyard.


Island-Life will not be updated for the next two weeks as the Staff head up for the Mountain Sabbatical expedition to the base -- and perhaps more -- of Mount Goddard. The trip lasts 14 days, includes trackless mountaineering passes over 13,000 feet and features 10 days above 11,000 feet elevation, hunting for the elusive Rock Hummingbird and making snow angels on the glaciers that remain in our Globally Warmed times.

It is not possible to send or recieve communications of any kind during this expedition. We will pick up email and the like on our return. Please do not start WWIII while we are gone, nor any pandemics beyond the usual.

As usual pictures of the trip through what Ansel Adams called the Range of Light will be available in the Camping section.



As we swing into the hustling of the hustings, some new developments on the electorial front. Most folks know that former Mayor Beverly has wisely given up the local rat race of politics for a steady job with the State, where it is possible the dedicated Democrat may finally find some appreciation.

Surrendering the candidacy for another run as Councilmember means that Beverly Johnson is essentially done with local politics here, as very rarely has someone departed and come back at the municipal level with any degree of success. Her Mayoral administration saw some changes in our miniscule "downtown", featuring the renovation of the Paramount theatre and the addition of the parking garage, as well as some minor improvements on Park Street. Towards the end of her stint, Suncal got booted as prime developer at the Point, which was something for which she can neither be blamed nor accoladed, because she supported their plans at first, then reverse her position "once she had actually read them." As councilperson, she took largely a backseat to the flare-ups over transparency and what appears to be largely ineffective Triumvirate of Tam, Bonta and Gilmore, a cabal in which she was often unfairly lumped as a member.

If that cabal was supposed to be dictatorial, they had as much influence as Sasha Cohen's movie character and with as much unintentionally comic results.

The candidates who are still contending for the two open council seats are Planning Board member Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft; Jeff Cambra, the former president of the Alameda League of Women Voters; Stewart Chen, who serves on the board of the Alameda Health Care District; former Alameda City Councilman Tony Daysog; Gerald Valbuena Dumuk; Golf Commission President Jane Sullwold; and Joana Darc Weber.

The open seats are currently held by Johnson and Doug deHann, who is being termed out.

A third council seat also could become open if Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta succeeds in his campaign to represent the 18th district in the state Assembly. If Bonta wins, the third top vote-getter among the candidates would get his seat. His council term will expire in December 2014.

Johnson initially served on the council from 1998 to 2002 and was mayor from 2002 to 2010.


In a curious piece on the first page of the Alameda Sun, it was reported that local realtors dispute the numbers in a resent Dataquick report that seemed to indicate a housing "recovery" of sorts was in progress -- just not one that included the Island where houses had been typically overvalued well above 33% for years prior to the bust of the housing bubble.

Dataquick stated the reasons for the Bay area general improvement had to do with the slowing of foreclosures and a reduction in supply -- perhaps due to the slowdown in new housing construction starts.

The report painted a generally optimistic picture, but stated that our Island median prices have declined another 9.2%.

The local realtors took umbrage at this, claiming a number of anecdotal figures ranging from 1.4 to 2% increases in home price figures.

The really violent slap which indicates that the local folks may be all hat and no cattle occurs in the outrageous statement that it "is starting to go back to the way it was in 2004, 2005."

Well if that is really true, then anyone buying now stands to lose their shirts because their purchase is way overvalued. The realtors are admitting that they are taking some folks for a long pony ride to nowhere.

People, people, people. If you cannot be honest, at least try to be reasonably greedy.


Somewhat disheartening is the news that the "Berlin Wall" referenced in a recent Letter to the Editor is just a minor $211,000 appendage to a whopping $92 million price tag to retrofit and refurbish the old historic school on Central. The wall was constructed ostensibly to protect passersby from falling debris in the event of an earthquake. The 1957 dated structure was deemed unsafe and has been vacated, with the Administration high-tailing to Mariner Square Village amid a flurry of all sorts of accusations regarding misspent funds.

We just wonder why, if the structure is likely to fall down, the fence does not also shield the ornate -- and rather precarious-looking -- front portico with its massive doric columns. Like the windows will fall out during a tremblor, but those pillars are not going to land on someone's baby carriage?

Then again, the old Carnegie Library also remains vacant in need of retrofitting, but apparently does not warrent a fence eight feet high.

Well, that would look unsightly.

Horse puckey.

It's just the bribe was not enough to make it worth scudding a lucrative contract pass scrutiny.

Shenanigans in our little town? Say it isn't so and just follow the money.


Our delightful KPFA is ramping up its autumn reading series and they have some delectibles for all of you. This Wednesday, Gabor Maté, MD will present "BEYOND THE HUNGRY GHOST IN POLITICS: How Self-Awareness Within Supports Progress Without", hosted by Kris Welch at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley. Tix are $16 for that one.

Are you a teacher or do you know one personally? Friday, September 7, 7:30 pm Jonathan Kozol presents "FIRE IN THE ASHES: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America", A Tribute to Jonathan Kozol & All Public School Teachers
Hosted by Anthony Cody, introduced by Alice Waters.

Tuesday, September 18 KPFA showcases a real prize when ROBERT HASS comes to the The Hillside Club in Berkeley. Topic will be "What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World". Hosted by Joyce Jenkins & Richard Silberg, those stalwarts of Poetry Flash. At $12, tickets are a bargain to listen to a world class statesman of the word.

This upcoming weekend sees the autumn onset of the Oakland Art Murmur with scads of events taking place in the Uptown District. October will be a tremendous three day blowout, so keep tuned to this station.


So anyway the sky finally cracked open Sunday with brilliant spears of sunshine that vanquished the dull clouds, sending them scudding to the East where they belong, clearing the deep blue heavens bright as a flag above the summer-warmed earth.

Yet still you could hear them nearby, the sudden honk of the geese calling all comrades to gather. Squadrons of sparrows and finches have been collecting for brief sorties. The squirrels have been going mad with furious noshing and collecting the impossible, digging holes everywhere with a manic frenzy. Everything is getting restless for some kind of change.

This last Friday the clinics reported a Blue Moon with all sorts of manias dropping in for medication.

there were people he wanted to kill and could he have his knife back

Over at Sausal Creek a fellow came in and, after surrendering his big bowie knife when he got wanded, paced back and forth, said people were out to get him and he was going to kill himself. Then he went outside the trailor there and came back in and Nurse Sharon offered to help him. He ranted a bit, went outside, came back in, said there were people he wanted to kill and could he have his knife back and Nurse Sharon told him that all depends and would he take some medication. The man went outside again, paced around and came back and this went on for a good while with the voices talking to him until Nurse Sharon got him calmed down and taking some medication with the OPD dropping by and wanting to haul him off to John George Pavilion. But she managed to work it all out without that happening.

While Nurse Sharon was taking a break, smoking a cigarette and cursing the shrink who had put the man on water pills, a woman showed up at the window taking off all her clothes in the foyer with her husband and kids there amid a manic episode.

"Mommy! Mommy! Don't worry!" one of the kids said.

"Mommy! Mommy! Don't worry!" one of the kids said. He was probably about eight years old. "We'll take care of you."

The announcement came over the PA. "Nurse Sharon, come to the front. We got a situation."

Sharon sighed and stubbed out her cigarette. No more break. Just another day in Paradise under a Blue Moon.

On the hill at John George all the cases under 5150 three day hold howled at the Blue Moon for the loss of everything they every had at one time.

Under the Blue Moon everything cuts loose and the fur starts to fly. Rebecca got off work and tangled with one of the Caltrans workers in the restroom of the Lost Weekend Lounge even before getting plastered. When Marsha came in she was aghast at the state of her co-worker.

"Rebecca," she said sternly. "You are sitting there with torn stockings, legs akimbo, your dress up about your hips, your hair a rampage of disarray and your mascara all smeared and it is clear you are drunk! Go home!"

"No!" Rebecca said emphatically. "I am having fun!"

"No!" Rebecca said emphatically. "I am having fun!"

Things happen at the end of summer under a Blue Moon.

The gardens of the Island are fabulous places this time of year. They say that there are English garden-styles, featuring neatly clipped hedges, and orderly arrangements where the lines are straight and everything is pristine with not a weed out of place. Then there are the Irish-style gardens which tend to be riots of color and luxurious confusion.

Of the two, the Irish style is found to be most prevalent here. California is too exhuberant to lend itself well to orderliness. Attempts to render California and Californians into something orderly always end in tears and tragedy.

The birds of paradise are fading, contrary to all expectation, but the pole beans are burgeoning, the squashes are squishing, the trumpet flowers glow incarnadine, and the lilies are coming back. Strawberries just passed their peak season, and if you have grapes on your trellis you count yourself among the blessed.

JRR Tolkein reserved most affection for the gardener

It is well known that of all the supposedly secondary characters in the Lord of the Rings books, JRR Tolkein reserved most affection for the gardener, also a ringbearer for a brief while. When, after all the ornate gilt jewel encrusted gifts had been distributed, the gardener received from the elf queen the best gift of all in the form of a seed nestled in a bit of earth, and the gardener recognized that this was the most precious gift of all, for neither gold nor diamonds possess the magic ability to grow into life.

We are a little like the hobbits with our gardens. We don't go out much and we don't care much for adventures although a number of us have lived through them in the past.

Eugene Gallipagus has been fixing up his gear for fishing, for if there is one thing that can distract him from hunting poodles, that would be trout.

He was coming back from the Old Same Place bar and finding a need to relieve the pressure from a round of Fat Tire ales went into the park there to find a tree. While thinking about a particular trout stream a tipsy Maeve found him there and she put her arms around him.

"I hear you are some kind of trout fisherman," Maeve said.

"Um, uh . . .". Eugene said, not quite finished with what he had started and not quite able to abruptly stop things in progress. "Dry flies."

"Well lets see about your flies," Maeve said. "For I am all wet . . .".

"Well lets see about your flies," Maeve said. "For I am all wet . . .".

"O! O, dear . . ."! Eugene said.

Later, the two of them looked up at the moon sailing serenely across the skies, listening as the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the blue water, over the manic waves of the estuary and the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and 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 couple of weeks. See you all when we get back.

What about the one who said he loved you
What about the one who said he cared
Don't bother trying to find him
Way up in the icy air

Oh, you played with his heartstrings
And you played without a care
But not up in the High Sierra
You won't play his heart out there

The angels lay their clouds across his sky
They line up for him every night
Some have wings and others sing
The rest do lazy ballets in the air

There he's got a bird to give him warning
And he's got a lookout too
The beauty of the High Sierra
And she's looking out for you

The angels lay their clouds across his sky
They line up for him every night
Some have wings and others sing
The rest do lazy ballets in the air

What about the one who said he loved you
What about the one who said he cared
He's up in the High Sierra
But don't bother looking there

boz scaggs, Sierra

AUGUST 26, 2012


If you hear people howling, you know its not bluesman Howlin' Wolf come back from the grave but self-confessed "chili heads" taking advantage of the brief annual run on chili's from Hatch County New Mexico.

One of the managers at Nob Hill foods has a New Mexico connection for the delicacy which was developed by students at UNM in Albequerque, and so each year a supply of the hard-to-get peppers arrives and is roasted in the parking lot near the Fruitvale bridge. The basic Anaheim chili pepper deviant achieved such popularity by way of careful crossbreeding that the University released the seed stock to farmers in the area. The result is a pepper with a savory flesh and a strong delightful aroma. Each year, people fly from thousands of miles away to snag entire cases of the pepper, which is preserved by roasting off the skin and then freezing, however we Islanders can snag a few right here.

All over New Mexico people who have developed their own pepper in their gardens and those who can managed to capture a case or two of the Hatch chilies hold roasting parties centered around the grills designed to peel loose the thick skin.

If you do not want to snag an entire case to last the year, you can always get a few fresh ones and burn off the skins with a common hand-held blow-torch, but you will have to wait until next year as all 180 cases of the peppers sold out from Nob Hill within 48 hours.


School is back in session -- if you don't have kids, be aware as you go to work and return about the little scamperers with their backpacks and their Hanna Montana boxes.

Please note that some badge holder agency got a pot of money and license to go get 'em, as in go get some some more money so as to help balance the budget. This means the "Drive Sober" campaign has started, and we know what that means here on the Island: even more rigorous enforcement than usual on the streets as our proud IPD does the one thing it can do right within the limits of its capacity.

Mike D'Orazi of the Fire Department is responding with umbrage at the recent report -- without directly mentioning it -- that noted the Island city has 118 paid staff whereas cities of comperable size retain something around 80 paid fire staff. Mike noted recently that the IFD provides ambulance services, which the other cities do not, which must may become the item that snakes back to bite him, as that very service was on the line to be supplied by outside vendors when the FD delayed renewing the contract. Already there is a fog being toss about the numbers as D'Orazi stated the number listed in the report (indirectly referenced by reference to the article in the Sun that reported on the findings) are inaccurate and that he has 97 sworn firefighters, not the liste 118.

The worm turns on this story, which is a developing consequence of the Memorial Day fiasco that cost a man his life while 200 first responders watched on the beach.

No fellas, that one is just not going to go away. A proper accounting still has not been done.

Some sharp-eyed fellow noted that within hours of resolving the USD administration move the massive fence surrounding the old School got put into place, which calls into question the timing of this entire issue as contracts put out to bid should take weeks if not months to resolve and yet more weeks for contractors to assemble resources to do the work. Just when did this entire fencing project get resolved? As they used to say in journalism school, "follow the money" and you will learn the real cause and effect for things.

Noted a real eye-opener come over the transom this week when the report that 12 people were robbed and pistol-whipped in a mass take-over robbery at the Ferry landing plotzed in our laps. In addition, "several shots were fired."

Now this one is definitively not small town man bites dog sort of usual. 12 people pistol whipped and shot at?

What is interesting are the comments at the end of the report which suggest that more than one robbery group was involved (five escape cars were described) and that it is possible they did not know one another.


So a group of people gather after a party at the terminal and it is just so common knowledge that the Island is an "easy mark" that two or more robbery groups converge and somehow work out their differences enough to seperately rob 12 people?!

Dude, something is seriously wrong with this picture which has both dramatic and comic potential for at least three movies involving the actor Jack Black.

When we look at the other crime stories on page one, we begin to see just why criminals from out of town would see this place as a comfortable nest. After all, we do know that the Island is a favorite for Hells Angels members to come and retire once they are mostly done with mayhem in other places.

On page one of the Journal we note that a fellow sentenced and incarcerated to life in prison for murder has confessed to offing a couple of our citizens in 1996. So the man was promptly snagged for killing someone in El Cajon, where apparently the police consider murder something serious and to be remedied right away. It is now 2012 and El Cajon has now resolved our issues from 1996.

Let us seque now to a letter to the editor in the Sun where an outraged citizen notes (with reference to the Memorial Day fiasco involving Raymond zack) that "police officers routinely respond to emergencies but do not have a legal duty to do so." The allusion is to both the inadequate official response to that day's shameful debacle and to the obnoxiously self-serving "independent investigation" conducted by a single hired gun that was clearly meant to be from the getgo a pave-over of ruffled public feathers.

Ok we get it now. The police here have no special compulsion to save anyone and no special reason to resolve things like murders and violent take-over robberies, but they certainly will snag your sorry ass for going through a yellow light pronto.

While it is all fine to write letters to the Editor, be the Sun, the Journal, Patch, or us, it is far, far better to get involved this obscure experiment called Democracy and rag the Silly Council and the Mayor and the Police Chief and the Fire Chief all at once until they do what you say and stop being Silly. Get involved; don't just criticize. Part of the reason the Thin Blue Line devotes an inordinate amount of useless attention on traffic is that some of you out there with nothing better to do get on their case about inconsequentials, forgetting or not realizing that we do live in a metro area of some 8.6 million souls and this means the speed bump you want in front of your house just might be low on the horizon of priorities as opposed, for example, to the house processing and distributing pounds of methamphetamine to your neighbors.

People are getting murdered and robbed after all, and these sorts of things are more than just a social indiscretions and they cause more mayhem than shopping interruptions.


So anyway the weather has turned moody with breezes and tumultuous skies. Howard reports out of Mammoth that a subtropical ridge built over the Golden State, pushing off all of that monsoon weather in the high country north, leaving some precip in the lower regions of the Sierra and a trend toward warming in that glorious time known as "Indian Summer". The Western US will see an end to their killing spate of thunderstorms which have been causing havoc with forest fires for the past couple weeks. Locally we will see temps along the coast climbing into the 90's by midweek, creating some false expectations for those seeking to take advantage of school days to snag some recreation time, as the Sierra are likely to remain unruly for the duration.

Trip reports coming in state that the previous winter resulted in low snowpack conditions resulting in very dry conditions at present and warmer that normal temps at elevation. This does not speak well to the upcoming season which needs to get a better than average dump of snow for agri-business here to survive. A low snow-fall season will put the kibosh on any new housing developments in the valley extending for some 500 miles north to south.

Down in front of the Old Same Place Bar they have been digging a trench to fix the sewer and gas lines

Down in front of the Old Same Place Bar they have been digging a trench to fix the sewer and gas lines and this thing has taken an epic scale of magnitude in that it involves not one but two utilities with a third, AT&T trying to horn in there and get some fiber optic cable laid during this project. As a result the street is gradually being torn up for about two hundred yards with flagmen routing the cars and all sorts of heavy equipment taking up parking when the operation is not actively working and there is the Great Island Trench about six feet deep passing right there in front of some folks six sheets to the wind so it all evens out in the end.

Meanwhile the At&T guy is down there talking with the EBMUD guy and the PG&E guy standing there and the At&T guy says pretty nice hole there, be nice if we could get in and lay that cable and the EBMUD guy says that is fine but we have to fix this sewer line that is going out and to do any other work we need a variance filed so you go and do that.

How long that take to get approved?

About six to eight weeks.

How long this line be open?

About three weeks.

So what happens after three weeks?

We fill her up and lay on the patch. Can't leave a hole there.

So we will have to dig that all out again.

I reckon.

The AT&T guy turned to the PG&E guy, who said, "I am here to ensure gas and safety. Don't bother me about nothing else. I don't care."

The AT&T guy sighed and went away. You didn't ensure Brisbane, a number of people died, and now suddenly you care. Only because when things blow up people get excited.

the people there lived like the elvish folk of old

Years ago people used to call Brisbane the City of Stars. Of course there were those electric stars up on some of the roofs, but the real reason they called it that was because, sitting behind the mountain of San Bruno in a little nestled vale, you could see the broad swath of the milky way with all of its stars in the night sky undiluted by light pollution from the City and the people there lived like the elvish folk of old. Then came the developers with their final savage conquest over the mountain butterfly and all the populations of deer and rabbit and fox that used to live up there around the radio towers. Now, there are trenched gashes in the mountainside of San Bruno, long black sears through the neighborhoods from the gas explosions, and little white crosses heaped with flowers to mark the dead. But at that time, Brisbane was the City of Stars.

School has started around here and all the little urchins are busy about their business of growing up in the usual fashion. It takes a full day to handle new teachers, the odd bully throwback in this suddenly bully-conscious age, and all the newness that the old folks say is just a rerun of yesterday minus the apple on the desk.

Adam managed to get into a scrap on the second day of school

Adam managed to get into a scrap on the second day of school at Longfellow, but this was an honorable one in which he defended Lucius from that nasty Rumsey kid who always pretended to be the Big Cop on the Block with his old crossing-guard badge. In fact, Rumsey just bossed the kids around and got his gang to throw rocks at the more recalcitrant ones.

Adam came back to the House all marked up and touseled after laying into Rumsey who had been set to beat up poor Lucius. Everyone knew Lucius was "simple" and had a hard time understanding things so picking on the boy was generally regarded as bad form.

Rumsey told the boy to stop while he was doing the crossing-guard thing even though no cars were coming, and Lucius obediently halted a few feet off the curb, which incensed the rigid Rumsey to such a pickle he fairly flew at the confused fellow who hopped from one foot to the other in consternation.

Adam saw this happen and one thing led to another until he and Rumsey were rolling in the gutter tearing at each other with all the other kids standing around cheering and Lucius laying flat out where Rumsey had decked him. Nobody liked Rumsey, who didn't have a dad and whose mother tended bar at the Moonlighter.

Adam was a street-smart scrapper from Oaktown but Rumsey was bigger and studied all of this UFC Ultimate Wrestling stuff so they were pretty evenly matched going at it until Father Danyluk and Pastor Nyquist pulled them apart.

When Adam got back to the House Marlene fairly lit into him until he went off to the rip rap breakwater to sulk by himself for a while until the light began to fade over the Bay.

Along came Pahrump who sat down beside him and the two skipped stones for a while.

Adam professed not to know what gets into that Rumsey kid with all the advantages he had. It wasn't like East Oaktown. He didn't have to be the way he was.

"What is it that makes a kid such a bully? Why are they that way?"

Pahrump was of the mind that Rumsey's problem was that he didn't see his advantages and that the kid actually saw what his whole future was going to be, which featured all these kids around him climbing up above him as time passed.

"What is it that makes a kid such a bully? Why are they that way?"

Pahrump sighed.

"Bullies don't know love, but they sense something out there they have no part of. They are afraid of what is going to happen to them and so the only thing they can do is push this fear onto other people."

"Well he's gotta change that's for sure," Adam said.

A lot of bullies never grow up. They just become insurance adjusters,

"Well no, that doesn't really happen in many cases," Pahrump said. "A lot of bullies never grow up. They just become insurance adjusters, professional football linebackers, border guards, realtors, and cops, still operating at the level of eight years old. You will find them in all walks of life, in fact."


His mom died and he grew up and got himself a job as a security guard at I.Magnin

"Darn is right. I know a guy just like this Rumsey feller. Still living in the same room he was raised for forty-five years with his mother. Had no father to speak of. Mom drank like tarpon on holiday. His mom died of a bad liver and he grew up and got himself a job as a security guard at I.Magnin where he gets to wear a gun and boss people around. Since he lived so long in the same place, they made him manager of the apartment complex he lives and so he runs the place like some kinda third world dictatorship, yelling at the tenants and taking all the good space for himself. Saw him just the other day out front screaming with the veins bulging in his neck at some poor lady walking her dog past the front door. No, some bullies just never will change and you really oughtta feel sorry for them. You want to know what kind of person does this waterboarding thing you heard about on the news? Well there is your pool of applicants."

"I can't feel sorry for this Rumsey. He's a jerk."

the man . . . likely will die all alone in that same room he was raised with no one to care for him

"Well now try to see your face in the face of the Other," Pahrump said. "Here is a boy with no dad, an unspeakable mom, and who never, never, never will know what love is about. He has never felt it, never had it, never will get it, just like this security guard feller I am telling you about. Sure enough the man has never married, never had a girl or boy friend to speak of, and likely will die all alone in that same room he was raised with no one to care for him and this Rumsey kid is heading down that same path straight as an arrow to that sterile, cold room, a 21st Century Ebenezer Scrooge. You on the other hand lucked out by coming into the Household where Marlene sees after you. And all the other people there, hard as their lives are would do anything in the world for you, Adam. So think about that advantage for a bit."

"O balls." Adam said.

"I think I said my piece. Now here is the moon.

They looked up at the moon tracking through the cloud-wracked heavens above the Bay as the west flaming in rooster-tails of incarnadine and gold subsided into the cooling aquamarines of sunset before allowing the brilliant necklaces of the City across the water to glow quietly from the ramparts of Coit tower along the hump of Potrero and the distant lookouts of San Bruno Mountain hiding the once fabled City of Stars beyond the ring of the stadium.

"A man walked on that planet up there," Pahrump said. " I remember the day."

"Wow, you were alive back then?" Adam said.

Leave these bullies behind and shoot for the stars

Pahrump laughed. "Yes and I am alive still and may live to be a hundred, although I am not keeping score. Even though you have gotten used to being flung into space, I know I never will make that trip. You might though. Leave these bullies behind and shoot for the stars, Adam. Even if you don't ever get there, falling half-way short is still a fur piece to go."

And so they looked at the calm moon making its stately way across the sky.

"Learned in the Army always shoot higher than you think you can reach," Pahrump said. "The first fellow who walked on that moon could have been an accountant instead of an astronaut. But something in him made him try harder."

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the moonlit water, over the lunar waves of the estuary and the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and 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


AUGUST 19, 2012


This week's photo comes from Oaktown where our roving photog took this classic of the Oakland Water Temple. There are a few of these temples sprinkled around the Bay Area. They are the original outflows from aqueducts which draw from supply streams and lakes in the high Sierra, pumping water for hundreds of miles along a complex system that basically is the thing blue line which keeps California from becoming a vast Gobi desert.

Because the designers so understood the importance of the product, at some of the outflows, instead of simple standpipes, elaborate Greco-Roman temples complete with colonnades, landscaping and reflecting pools celebrate the miracle of hydro-engineering. The most famous of these is the Pulgas Temple located off 280 on the Peninsula at the Crystal Springs Reservoir. It is no longer used as the main outflow, but the Temple remains. To get to that one, you take the feeder road along the reservoir and hunt for the break in the chain link fence made thoughtfully by high school students years ago.

Oaktown being Oaktown, has a more modest structure, maintained by EBMUD as a working facility, in stolid 1950's Constructivist style. In fact it really is more an EBMUD facility than a temple per se. A park is located there with a modest gate that is open to the public. If you ramble, be alerted that you will bramble, so wear long pants and shirts that can absorb a few burrs.



This is in response to some reader comments about The Patch.

If you want happy-happy news that glosses over things and presents the facts in the best possible light, there is always the chain-news conglomerate called The Patch, which is a well-funded collection strand of reporting sites located in several cities. There is an SF-Patch, an Oakland-Patch, a Newark-Patch and, of course, an Island-Patch, all of them seeking to out booster the boosters and the DAR at once.

We don't do that. The news is out and you know it already. We comment on the news and we do not pretend to be objective or even upbeat. If it sucks, we are going to say so. If a restaurant blows grits, we douse them a good one, then let some time pass before giving them another chance. Everybody has a bad night once in a while.

This is why we do not see The Patch as a competitor -- those people just aint in our league. Issue settled.


A fellow has been pretending to walk dogs in the vicinity of Park Street on Santa Clara and other streets, however his behavior has not matched that of anyone seriously exercising those canine poopchutes. He has been seen wandering across the lawns of private property, peering into windows and looking down driveways and no one of sane mind seeing him has remarked "that is a man just walking his dogs".

The man is clearly scoping out property that appears to have no one at home around the times of 5:30 - 7:30pm and we expect he means no good to the owners.

He is a Caucasian male, about thirty years of age, well muscled, taller than average, lean, with close-cropped hair. He was last seen wearing a rust-colored T-shirt, loose black pants, and running shoes. The dogs were a black and tan pit bull and a light colored bulldog.

Neither dogs nor owner violated any traffic ordinances, so the perps got clean away.


You may have noticed the old High School on Santa Clara has been fenced off. This is related to the USD needing to relocate its administrative offices to Mariner Square as the buildings are in need of earthquake retrofitting similar to the vacant Carnegie library next door. The West Wing has been completed and the East Wing is due to be fenced off next week.


The Island once again appeared in the news in a bad light when it turned out the perp who burglarized the home of the deceased cofounder of Apple Computers, Steve Jobs, turned out to be an Island homeboy. Karlem McFarlin busted in to the home under renovation and removed a load of electronics as well as Job's driver's license and thousands of dollars worth of jewelry as well as kitchen appliances.

Proving our criminals are especially gifted with lack of intelligence, the myopic McFarlin proceeded to surf the net using the stolen computers, which promptly earned the numbskull a police raid after techies tracked him down via the scarce IP address necessary for getting on the Web.

McFarlin's former boss at the Santa Ynez-based medical supply firm Representatives commented best by saying, "What an idiot."

Although McFarlin did not know at first whose home he had invaded, he discovered by means of a letter and the wallet owned by Jobs, but nevertheless continued rifling the place of nearly a truckload of loot.

His former boss commented that the man had been let go as it came out "he did not seem particularly motivated."

Um, seems about time to point fingers at the lapses in our public school system, which appears to be producing a substandard level of criminal. Other Districts produce the like of Bernie Madhoff and Martha Stewart. At one time we turned out the likes of Richard Stroud, the famous Birdman of Alcatraz. Now, we produce boneheads who fall asleep in the toilet mid-robbery and who think robbing a world-famous icon is a good idea. In addition, another one of our recent contributions to the Crimestoppers Notebook includes Andrew Toon Wong, who imagined that he could safely get out of debt and pass GO to collect $200 by shooting the two people he owed money.

As the Wolfman said, "It is better to have character than be a character."


Here is something that should be lively and worth attending. It is close to the Annual Island-Life Mountain Sabbatical, so we do not know if we can send anyone.

Alameda Public Affairs Forum
Sat. Sept. 8, 6:30pm

* Host:
Dennis Evanosky & Eric Kos, Publishers of Alameda Sun
* When:
Saturday, September 8 at 6:30 PM
* Where:
Alameda Library, corner of Lincoln Ave. and Oak St.6:30 socializing, 7pm program - bring something to share. Join our town hall meeting and learn more!


So anyway has anyone noticed that this thing in which some deranged nutcase wanders into a public place to open fire with machine-guns on the most unobtrusive innocent individuals -- well maybe the Family Hate Farm was not comprised of innocents -- has become a weekly news item?

Some of us are saying this is just another product of a vast Chinese conspiracy to destroy America by driving all of us indoors and away from places where people congregate, like restaurants. Nevermind none of the targets -- schools, churches, mosques, family planning clinics -- have been restaurants.


it is so American to blame someone else for your troubles

The entire intention is to force people who used to dine out to call in for take out/deliver. Who has had this system sussed for years? It's the Chinese. And it is so American to blame someone else for your troubles. We blamed the Russians for the world's ills for years, so now that the USSR is gone, we are bereft of folks to blame. Anyone remember the ominous slogan, "Is your washroom breeding Bolsheviks? Poor handtowels can lead to worker discontent . . .".

Word has it that the local Catholic church is now providing Sunday Sermon in a Box with the slogans, Skip the Slaughter until the Trump Day! Keep Your NRA Membership! No More Germs! Just Plug and Pray!

Count on the American Churches to capitalize on tragedy. We are still waiting to hear from Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian on the whole deal.

We know some of you may not be Xians, so fortunately for you unwashed heathen, Mrs. Betty Bowers has an explanation of traditional marriage that is totally substantiated by the Bible in all of its Old and New forms!


The weather has been delightful. Cool, sunny, light breeze. All the Lotus Eaters have been down on the Strand chatting on their cell phones to hapless creatures in hellholes like Washington DC, New York and Houston where triple digits have been hammering the infidels for all their stringent inflexible torture of fellow citizens these past few months.

If anyone in Peoria doubts global warming now, they have been socked away in the nut house.

If all New Jersey does not start wearing purple and sunflowers by winter, then the locusts begin

We think it is all the Goddess's punishment for people being mean to one another and being so narrow-minded and rigid for so long. If all New Jersey does not start wearing purple and sunflowers by winter, then the locusts begin, followed by the frogs and the rain. You just see. If I lived in Hackensack, I would bundle all the hellfire ministers in town into a canoe and set them adrift in the St. Lawrence River pronto.

The high fog has been absent this past week, so all of the tomatoes have taken false hope. In the High Sierra, Howard Schecter has been reporting TS Eliot weather, as in "Thunder over the Himavant." Anyone seeking to escape terrorists in the shopping malls and terrorists in the Cambria Valley and terrorists in the airports of Ceylon by taking to the hills with backpack and tent has been enjoying the lovely terror of mountain storms above 10,000 feet, which to those who know is an experience large enough to drive one to risk Al Qaida and the Chinese both in the straights of Qatar.

At least the Chinese have better food than that dreadful Mountain House stew.

In the meantime, there are the upcoming Elections that are the real concerns around here. Over at the Same Place Bar, Papoon and Babar, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, sat together to complain about the problems trying to engage an electorate which has become disenchanted with Silly Hall.

Meanwhile down at the Strand, advance scouts were sniffing about to check out the temperature for their own candidates for the Office of President of the Bums.

Every four years the Bums of California hold caucuses and conventions, and the Island has become a dear favorite for candidates by reason of its proximity to Newark and to free food kitchens. Also, the bums never violate traffic ordinances while here, so they are largely left alone.

a fair preponderance hang out in the State Capitol building

The largest congregation of bums in California has always been Sacramento, where a fair preponderance hang out in the State Capitol building. This year Barack O'Reilly, the incumbent, is running with his mate, Joe Bidet, against Milk Rummy and Paul Raybans.

There were some questions about Rummy's qualifications to be a bum, which were allayed point by point. First off, the man has never held an honest job, he never has served the military in any sort of capacity - a major plus in recent years -- he was born of American parents in the colony of Hyannis Port, he drinks cheap wine by self admission, a silver spoon was found in his bassinet, he does not directly own, operate, or approve of horses, and he wears two pairs of pants, securing his Conservative credentials.

These are puzzling credentials, but the bum system is one of ancient American legacy with Byzantine complexity expressly designed by the Freemasons so that the hoi polloi shall not meddle.

To be a bum honoree, one must be essentially a useless person

To be a bum honoree, one must be essentially a useless person which qualification Rummy and Raybans and most of the Texas legislature fill to a tee.

The two platforms can be summarized, ex officio, as follows. Barack maintains that he has done no harm over four years and has inherited a system from incompetent boobs that have badly mismanaged for over thirty years. Not to point fingers or create divisiveness of course.

Rummy says that what is needed is more booze for all, bums on the flush need a break, and everything right now is kaputt, all of which are largely popular opinions, because all of them are largely true and poor bums always aspire to be bums on the flush. Think about it.

All of the bums in Sacramento appear to be bums on the flush, it must be noted.

The Presidential wannabees have cruised through these parts but have yet to fully engage. Meanwhile our people focus upon the local issues, which returns us to Papoon and Babar.

Both of them glommed onto Jordan Fong who happened into the bar for a break from fundraising for the Asian-American homeless shelter in Oaktown.

Each one of the candidates wanted to know the full extent of the Asian-American vote, but Jordan just wanted a drink to relax.

"You lo-fan gen include everything from Turkey, India,Tibet, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar in your Asians!" Jordan said. That is over 3/4 of the world's population. Give me a break."

The candidates next focused upon Javier at the end of the bar. What about the Hispanic vote?

"Piss off." Javier said

"Piss off." Javier said, before returning to his beer and the attentions of a lovely black-haired lady sitting on a stool in a short red dress.

"This is very difficult," Papoon said. "The voter blocks are fragmented."

"It's not like the old says," Babar said. "It was easy to fix things when people could be simplified into simple categories. Now everyone is a subspecies with rights. Even the Locust Valley folks. It doesn't matter that one owns a tennis court any more."

"It comes down to every fool coming out to vote." Papoon said, fretting.

"My party does try to eliminate all the fools from being able to vote. The old, the indigent, the poor, the felons, the landless, anyone with foreign-sounding names, anyone not properly documented in districts under control, and all the fools. We do regular purges." Babar said, trying to be helpful.

While this discussion was going on in the Old Same Place Bar a periscope extended from the waters of the estuary and observed all that transpired. It watched the discussions, the campaigns, the debates and the chicanery with equal dispassion, for this periscope belonged to the Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor.

No one on that spy sub cared for the American elections

No one on that spy sub cared for the American elections or any of the issues, which all amounted to the same thing for the men who now approached the end of Ramadan with what resources they could muster after being at sea for a record 48 months, being supplied at intervals by a special ship outside the Golden Gate. Everything proceeded according to schedule and everything proceeded per program, however the sense that their mission had been largely forgotten began to dwell upon the Captain. Their position had been kept in place for years largely by a bureaucratic indolence and resistance to change. No one in Teheran had thought to rescind the order put in place on a whim by a bureaucrat who had long since left office.

So this is American Democracy. What really happens here?

Nevertheless this periscope remained a filter for people disconnected with the process. So this is American Democracy. What really happens here? What really goes on to direct the course of a nation that rules all other nations on earth? What is this vaunted democracy thing really all about?

The captain sighed and ordered the periscope lowered. And with that the AIS Chadoor left the estuary, gliding out into the Bay beneath the great gantries of the Port -- and so, running silent, running deep went under the Golden Gate to the open sea.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the politic waves of the estuary and the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and 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

AUGUST 12, 2012


Mike Ness might not have been thinking about flowers when he wrote "Prison Bound", but it does look like these blooms are longing for freedom behind the iron bars of a fence.


For a usually slow summer it seems a tremendous amount of major activity has been going on over at Silly Hall, even despite its reduced hours of public availability.

The ACT people have taken notice, however and they have been sending out messages about agenda with exhortations to come on down and be heard.

Most of the business involves various attempts to skirt or do away with Measure A, the density and height measure passed in the mid seventies.

It is worth it, if only for the education, to attend one City Council meeting, just to see how things really happen in local government around here. The evening can be long and fraught with people voicing strong opinions in the form of convictions, so BYOB and a back support. Nevertheless people fought and died for this semblance of Democracy in action, so be like a Scout and Be Prepared.

The Zack family is suing the City in what looks like a really interesting case. More interesting in the objections than the plaint, which is simple and to the point -- the City failed to save a man's life in a major series of lapses. The City maintains that emergency first responders are not contractually bound to save anyone's life, and the various departments with their specific responsibilities are broken down item by item in the attempt to quash the lawsuit from the getgo.

This may have a contrary result when it turns out no City service has had, and still does not have, obligations to save anyone's life, resulting in the rather bland and obvious discovery that if the City has no life-saving resources, there persists a serious omission in what is generally termed "due diligence."

In other works if neither police nor fire are required to save anyone's life in danger, and there exists no other entity to preserve the body politic, then the City clearly has failed to go get somebody to do that.

The so-called Boatworks Project has bogged down in red tape over cleanup of the area prior to sale of the land. The prospective buyer is not complaining -- it is Silly Hall again putting in its two cents against something the people over there appear to have been hell-bent against from one administration to the next. Which makes us wonder just what the devil is really going on over there. City Hall wants the present owners to demolish the decrepit buildings on site and clean the place up generally prior to sale to developers who plan on building a bunch of dwellings that most of us will never afford with a token "affordable" thrown in. That is "affordable" as measured by the same folks that brought you houses on the island going for the absurd sum of $750,000. Well it is no wonder City Hall is going slow on this project -- somebody forgot to grease the right palms with intention of keeping all the loot for themselves.

Now now now. What did we all learn the first day in Kindergarten? Shaaaaaarrrrring!

On the upside the seawall replacement at the end of Walnut looks to be finally on track. The wall there which now fronts the lagoon used to be the main bulwark facing the Bay, so it has seen some time and age. It probably should be replaced if only to protect kids who might clamber.

This week the Red Hot Chili Peppers are returning to make good on a concert they cancelled a while back. Ticket holders for that one are clutching their tattered, carefully conserved stubs as they wend their way to the Coluseum on Wednesday, a rough mid-week date for most, but not for die-hard Chili-Heads. Going to go? Went by the time you read this? Drop us a line and tell us all about it. Finances prevent us from sending more than one rep to the show. But we dearly love Keidis and Flea with or without their socks.

You know what we mean. Say Oh! Hey Say Oh!!

The County DA is suing our own Walgreens pharmacy for improper waste disposal and mishandling patient records. Seems the folks there have been dumping medications in the regular grey bin instead of sending this stuff properly registered to hazmat. As for patient records, that one is a serious no-no in the age of HIPAA/HITECH regulations, which can earn a facility a fine of some $20,000 per infraction.

We have insider dope that because of the fines mandated by law, both Feds and State have seen green in going after offenders hard and fast as part of efforts to balance the budgets. The feds have found finding offences so lucrative, they have been flying teams of auditors out to put them up in hotels with all expenses paid, knowing no matter how squeaky clean the entity is, they surely will come up with paydirt.

Any medical facility that cannot fork over the half million or so in fees is "encouraged" to arrange a liberal installment plan, including interest of course.

Say, since the Conservatives have been riding shotgun for the past thirty years, cutting and slashing spending like mad every day, every week, every month across the board everywhere for the past three decades, should we have seen some moderate reduction in that rather obvious goal of lower taxes?

Not a penny. Are your taxes any lower? Well you must be making more money then, after all of this Conservative bolstering of the Economy. No?

Well that trickle down just failed to float you up, now didn't it.

There is a rumor of an upcoming Election.


So anyway the weather has been moody around here, however it has been a sight better than the dreadful East Coast, which now not only features ugly landscapes, mugwump hills it calls mountains, and bad tempered people but miserable weather as well. Here the warm days have climbed to near 80 inland and to a magnificent high of 72 along the coast. Those wishing for more heat should look East and be careful for what they wish.

Howard Schecter of the Dweeb Report has indicated Alaskan troughs have been responsible for our comfortable atmosphere in the lowlands while providing lots of thunderstorm activity for wannabe campers in the Sierra. Forcast by the venerable Doctor is a Pacific high that will lead to a brief cessation of mountain storms but some local cooling. After that, September may see yet more thunderstorm activity, so you may want to reconsider revisiting Tuscany for your Labor Day vacation.

Over at Marlene and Andre's household, everyone has been following the Olympics by way of Martini's iThing device. Each night after Martini has returned from the Veriflo valve factory where he works as a sawboy cutting long bands of steel alloy, he sets up his iThing so everyone can watch what happened to the armless archer and the water polo team from Argentina and the women's boxing. As always there were the new sports introduced according to some obscure regulation and vague national pressure. This year featured the Chinese Prancing Ball Toss, which had women looking very athletic tossing balls into the air which performing complicated gymnnastics.

It aint like the old days, when they had just mud wrestling, boxing, and javelins, said Martini.

Next thing you know they are going to bring in Poodle Dressage, Pahrump said.

Now horseback riding I can go for, Suan said. Horses are cool in my book. It may be said that Suan was in many ways a horsey sort of woman.

The ancient Greeks had horses, Martini said. But I draws the line at poodles. Those things aint natural.

All were agreed that poodles were anathema and should be, among many other things, forbidden to the Olympics. And that horses were cool animals, even though a lot of foo-foo people got involved with them.

It is not the fault of the horse, Pahrump said. The ancient charge of the warhorse has always been to conduct the foolish through folly and so return the fop atop to sensibility to the best of its ability.

Tipitina asked who won the Olympics.

It was either the Russians or the Chinese or the US that got the lion's share of medals. The US usually wins because they have the money.

Are people involved in this competition, Tipitina asked. She was a little drunk it must be admitted.

Athletes, one supposes, Pahrump said. But by the time the medal counting starts, they are only useful as numbers.

Can you get Incredibly Strange Wrestling on this thing, little Adam said. The Olympics are boring now and all the people sound like Monty Python characters.

It's past your bedtime, Marlene said. Go brush your teeth.

Awww, I wanna see El Lucha whip the spandex offa El Monstro. . .

Adam, brush your teeth.

Why . . .?

So you can eat the breakfast of champions in the morning.

Awww Marlene. I wanna stay up . . .

Adam. Go.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the head-tossing equine waves of the estuary and the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown

That's the way it is on the Island. Hav a greate week.



AUGUST 5, 2012

This week the headline photo captures the heady joy of mid-summer and requires no explaination. This stalk stands nearly seven feet high and is growing near a gate not far from Silly Hall.



Lots of fun stuff happened this past week. Oaktown threw its joyous celebration of itself under the old Oak at Frank Ogawa Plaza in the form of the annual Art and Soul fest. The hustings are heating up as more candidates threw their hats in the ring in bids for seats on the Silly Council. Got word that Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft has announced she will run again.

The Island-life issues will be shorter and truncated for the summer until past the annual Mountain Sabbatical. Damage to the Island-Life computer system by the Angry Elf gang was very extensive and it will take time to repair the damage, rebuild systems, and re-establish a safe internet presence.

It sorrows us that people are so vindictive and so vengeful, but the facts of the matter and the consequences cannot be helped. We have been doing this for fifteen years and we will continue to do so, come hell and high water, both of which seem assured.

As the Scouts used to say in the old days, "Be prepared."


Americans cannot know what a cultural shock the first few years of World War I had upon the British psyche. This was a world before the existence of the Republic of Ireland. It was primarily an agrarian world in England and in America although the Industrial Revolution had begun a number of years previously, a world that JRR Tolkein idealized as Eden before the Fall.

Then came the guns of August, 1914, and the Orange Sons of Ulster marched off to a war dicated less by kings and and kaisers than by abstract corporations seeking to move chess pieces on a massive world-scale chessboard trying to dominate the newly formed Orient Express route and the lucrative oil fields in what was then unformed Iraq. Go to war because some fop with feathers was assassinated in an open car by a lunatic in the Balkans? No sniffy aristocrat ever was so popular as to warrant 3.2 million men marshalled into action that aweful year, most of whom would die horribly over the next four.

Thus began the War to End All Wars, an action so fraught with murderous foolishness and idiocy the mind boggles even today when the numbers get added up.

From a review of the records, it appears everyone wanted war because everyone expected to win handsomely and at little cost. No one had figured out just what real war meant in the newly minted 20th century. And it too an horrific amount of time for people to get the drift at a cost of hundreds of thousands of lives.

Not many Americans can recall the Battle of the Somme, which took place in the spring of 1916 and dragged on with dreadful consequences into the autumn. The Somme can be said to be the premier example of the absolute cruel idiocy of war conducted by nincompoops and sloganed in a now familiar banner of "shock and awe."

JRR Tolkein was a commander at that notorious battle and in his disdain and clear effort to hold on to sanity for dear life, wrote the first drafts of the Lord of the Rings on the back of the supposed Orders of Battle.

Basically, the battle proceeded as follows: the opposing sides faced one another along a front roughly bordered by the Somme river, each deeply entrenched in fortified lines that featured barbed wire, machine-gun pillboxes, deep trenchworks and loads of men. The order came down to advance in a massive onslaught so as to break the stalemate that had effectively been formed once the tactic of cavalry charges over open ground had been nixed by the power of the modern machinegun.

The British launched a three day barrage of artillery that was so intensive, so violent, so radical that it was thought all defences would be either destroyed or disrupted by means of "shock and awe".

Survivors and those who wrote before the advance indicated they were ordered to walk slowly to the enemy lines and calmly take the trenches from the absent enemy, confidently removing bayonets during the advance.

In reality, 30,000 Englishmen died within an hour when the Germans popped up from their bunkers to mow down the advancing troops with the modern machinegun. By the end of that bloody day, nearly one hundred thousand were dead.

By the time the entire offensive had petered out due to the return of the autumn rains, over one half million English had been slaughtered and an estimated 800,000 Axis troops in an effort that resulted in negligible advances of some 120 yards in most cases.

The entire dreadful, miserable affair had been provoked and conducted as a response to political pressures at home despite the best advice of more informed commanders at the front, all whom knew that such an advance was folly.

The backlash of this terrible cost ripped through England where not a single hamlet, not a single township, not a single village was spared the news from the telegram beginning "We regretfully inform you ...".

At the end of the day, the Great War ended not so much on account of defeat by arms as by the Russian Revolution which sparked waves of riots throughout Germany, causing the fearful aristocrats there to capitulate while drawing in the military to hold the line against the more feared Socialists. America's entry did help urge that decision, but it really was more a reflexive retraction against something feared more than defeat which finally ended the massive foolishness.

This, then, is the background to the Curran Theatre's production of Warhorse, a stage adaptation by Nick Stafford from a novel by Michael Morpurgo. Directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris.

The plot tells the story of World War I from the point of view of a horse that is sold by an unscrupulous farmer to the British Cavalry against the wishes of his son who dotes upon the thoroughbred horse to the extent he trains the animal to pull a plow against his nature so as to help his father win a bad bet. After the horse is sent to France, the under-aged child, named Albert, enlists so as to go to France and recover his prized "Joey", along the way learning a thing or two about life and war, which at that time featured the first use of poison gas and armored tanks.

The English took a dreadful time to realize that cavalry charges in the age of the machine gun and barbed wire were worse than ineffective, however horses continued to be employed at the front for a variety of purposes in the rugged terrain. Of an estimated eight million horses employed by both sides in the war, barely 650,000 returned, only to be sold to Egypt for draft animal use after experiencing such horrific slaughter.

The production features creations made to come alive by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company, which manages to bring structures of fabric and aluminum frame to astonishing life. So much so that the two main horse figures, Joey and Top Form develop highly indivdualized personalities on stage although each is animated by three puppeteers.

The international production earned a standing ovation at the Curran, which is no mean feat for a jaded audience these days. Even though the material is drawn from a children's author, we heard comments that the action was a "bit slow" for the kids, although the antiwar message is well taught. We found the production spellbinding, even including the scenes of peacetime vibrant country life in rural England, and we give cudos to the village goose who appears variously to hiss and express opinion.

Because of the Angry Elf's vandalism, we cannot provide a full list of the company at this time, but promise to do so later in the year so folks can add this review to their clipfile.


So anyway, the weather has been overcast and cool, causing much chagrin to the Socal folks around here but not dismaying anyone who has any connection with the East Coast where Tempageddon seems to be raging without respite.

O yeah. You folks scoffed at Global Warming. More ice in your G&T?

With the Angry Elf having his mafia out looking for blood, the Editor and Denby have gone underground, while over at Marlene and Andre's, life goes on as dysfunctional as always.

This part of the Island, being less fou-fou, would probably pick as sister City something like St. Paul rather than the preposterous Chinese burg off of which some people sought to make money. That is just the way it goes. Politics has never been the preserve of the sane or the sensible. That is why we call it Silly Hall.

Little Adam, freed from school for the summer, has the right attitude. "Learn an instrument! Let the good times roll, dude!"

And why not? Don't let bullies and thugs rule your day. Eat more avocado and enjoy life.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the tough waves of the estuary and the hard-bitten Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown

That's the way it is on the Island. We will be back week.


JULY 29, 2012


This week the image comes from behind the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum. It's the start of glad season around here, although typically the tall spikes reach their fullest glory later in the summer. Later? Is it almost August now?

You might not know that the Cream song was actually a cover of one written by bluesman Skip James. Skip wrote songs that have influenced every major blues artist, including Robert Johnson, who borrowed heavily from James to write "32-20 Blues".


Various things floating across the transome here. The Marsh has a one-man play in progress that's worth attending. The Marsh began in Babylon in the Hotel Utah, then shifted venues to various boho bars before lodging at 1062 Valencia in a dedicated space. Pushing strongly avaunt theatre worked with splendid success and the enterprise has expanded to the warmer side of the Bay in the Gaia building.

Over on our side Don Reed is performing in The Kipling Hotel in an extended run that goes to August 25th. The show is a semi-autobiographical presentation of Reed's experiences while working in a seedy residential hotel. If the man looks familiar on stage, know that he is currently the warm-up act for Jay Leno.

Over at Yoshi's East, the Henry Butler Trio closes what has been an exceptionally outstanding music month there. But you can catch a piece of Don Reed (from the above referenced play) when he comes to perform "East 14th". Look out for the "butter scene".

August opens up with local boy Elvin Bishop, who is not really from Marin, but might as well be as we all really like the co-founder of Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Look for a churning, shouting, angry version of "What the Hell is Going on" from the man who has not lost a bit of fire in 30 plus years. Elvin comes over the San Rafael bridge on the 3rd.

Oaktown shines on the 4th and 5th for the increasingly popular Art & Soul festival, which is not your average tchotchke booth and cover band affair. If you are afraid of coming to Oaktown you really miss something if you fail to attend this peaceful celebration where the city presents its best face for the world to enjoy.


Summer should be a slow month, but politics is in the air and several projects are getting pushed forward that have been sitting on backburners for a while. The end result of all of these things coming to pass will result in a very different Island than the one on which we now live.

We got alerted by the Alameda Citizen's Taskforce (ACT) that a City Council meeting last Tuesday featured a vote on essentially terminating Measure A throughout the Island, allowing for 2,400 units in buildings up to five (5) stories high. These are to be located throughout Alameda, but not including the Point, which has been the focus of so much development scrutiny.

Variances to Measure A have been knocked around for a while, so it is no suprise that a challenge has occured. The excuse here is that the State has mandated the City pay heed to providing more "low and moderate income housing." All of the projects now on the table -- and this is just one of them -- include provision for a pittance of low income units. What "moderate income" means in the eyes of the beholder appears to vary wildly, however. There are some realtors here who consider $1000 for a studio apartment to be reasonable, when it is clear that in a time that has seen incomes unchanged for a decade, such gouging is off the charts already.

The measure to allow the 2,420 homes passed on Tuesday with -- you guessed it -- Doug DeHaan voting as the sole nay.

The Boatworks project will add nearly one thousand more units added to the hundreds proposed for the old Fleet Industrial area, then we add a proposed sky-rise development at Ballena Bay and yet another to pack several hundred "homes" on a 1.25 acre strip near the Fruitvale bridge bordering Tilden Way. 1.25 acres? Several hundred "homes"? It seems for some people raging greed has caused them to take leave of their senses. You put just 11 houses in there and you have the modest floorspace of .012 acres per building. Apparently somebody out there has purchased a number of spare ship containers for conversion to habitation.

A few doilies and a coat of fresh paint, those containers could make some half-way decent living quarters. And they are stackable!

Developers are an odious species, who, seeing any sort of open space, would never think of putting something there so practical as a park or playground. Silly rabbit, parks and playgrounds, bird sanctuaries and open spaces, don't make money.

In other news homeboys Peets Coffee got bought, but not by Starbucks as many feared. The purchase means that the publicly held company now becomes a private affair once again. A German investment firm snapped up the company that was founded in 1966 by Alfred Peet. The company, Johannes A. Benckiser, stated they would keep things as they are with the HQ remaining in Emeryville and the roasting facility on the Island to staying put.

The new Wound Center opened up on Atlantic Avenue this week, which is a nice bit of positive news here.


It came around for the annual Park Street Art & Wine Fair, so we toddled on over to have a look-see. No faire is complete without a couple politicians. Oops, we meant "clowns."

Organizers claimed that 100,000 would pack the alley's and byways but we witnessed far less than half of that, which was all the better as there is no way the four plus blocks of Park could have handled that many. In fact it was a comfortable number. A trio of superheros showed up to boost the Paramount theatre.

As always there was music for all ages.


So anyway the weather along the coast has been surly and brooding in the morning with high fog giving way to brilliant blue skies by afternoon. Those who felt on waking up that life had lost its zest and nothing more was to be done had reason to scamper about like squirrels by two P.M.

In fact the squirrels so love this weather they go on a rampage across the Island to the extent one wonders if there is any governance at all over them as they madly tear up gardens and flowerpots and perniciously lop walnuts at the heads of passersby. There are people who swear to have seen gangs of them dressed in little leather jackets and carrying chains as they go about their mayhem.

Mrs. Almeida got so fed up with the depredations of these desperadoes she got a 150 pound crossbow from Big 5 Sporting Goods to settle these guys once and for all. The thing was so powerful it could split trees with one steel-tipped dart, and surely would have destroyed any squirrel she managed to nail as well as Dirty Harry's 45 caliber pistol.

She may have been inspired by the Japanese archerwomen at the Olympics now showing on TV from London, but those women have been practicing their sport for decades before getting on the world stage. Mrs. Almeida got out there in her apron and managed to destroy a couple flowerpots, the hybrid fruit tree, and several fence posts while putting a hole in the Weber outdoor grill and cursing all the while in Portuguese, startling the chickens, all of whom began to fear for their lives. She probably would have killed somebody or at least Francine's shi tzu which, living next door, and which narrowly escaped obliteration as a dart skipped sparking over the flagstones to land in the coi pond and spear a fellow whose registered pattern probably went back a good 800 years.

It is said that one should not overemphasize the value of temporal things on this earth. But this was of little consolation to Harry, Francine's husband, who chucked a fit over the dead fish.

Mr. Almeida came out and took away the crossbow to send his wife in to heat up some bacalhau, a traditional Portuguese dish that was itself saved from extinction when the fishing industry exhausted the supply by the Norwegian cod fishing industry, which had lost its buyers demand as the younger Vikings gave up the habit of eating dishes made from salt cod.

That is why the only places on earth where you still find people eating lutefisk is Portugal and a few unique midwestern states in America.

In the Island-Life offices life did not present a pretty picture. The Editor sat at his desk confronted by The Angry Elf and his cohort in criminal activity, The Toad.

"What do you want?" The Editor said to the Elf, to the Toad, and to the nasty-looking pistol in the tiny fist of the Elf. Apparently somebody had left the double door latches to the outside open. Vermin had entered.

"We wants dis place," the Elf said in his high pitched voice. "You gotta move outta here or we send you out inna box. Capeche?"

"What on earth for? I just moved here," said the Editor.

As it turned out the Angry Elf and the Toad had plans to build a glass factory in place of the old Julia Morgan house that now held the Island-Life offices. The factory was just a front to house the Elf gang during their scheme to take over the neighborhoods with their syndicate. The Toad had lined up associates with mafias in Isreal and Russia to help provide muscle.

A few judges had been lined up as willing to go with the flow. The police always were to be had for a price, save for a few goody-two shoes. The gang was working on a couple councilmembers in the City who looked loose and promising in any issue that involved money and real estate transactions. They would be needed as a slight zoning variance was required to make it all happen. However it was all in the works and looked very promising.

In short, there was corruption, intrigue, diabolical plans, money to be made and all the usual detritus characteristic of Bay Area shenanigans in the old style.

In their way stood the Editor and a group of Ashkenazim based in the Temple out on Harbor Bay Island who felt that the Chosen had already gotten enough bad Press lately without all this going on.

Why this particular building? It was directly across from City Hall, providing easy access to local power and was owned by Vietnamese landlords who were in financial trouble.

"Besides," said the Angry Elf. "You got a flea named Denby on your payroll and to me he is a big problem in the rear. I want him on a plate."

So there it was. Gun pointed at his chest and his best writer defamed by a thug and a criminal syndicate out to get him. Time for a cigar and a shot of good whiskey.

Today was a good day to die.

As the Editor reached for a cigar from his box of Havanas, expecting this cigar to be his last, an object shattered the window and smacked into the wood filing cabinet where it stood out vibrating from released energy. It was a crossbow bolt.

"How come short people have slow reactions?" said the Editor.

As expected the Elf balled up his fists and raised them in fury with his eyes squinched closed.

The Editor took this opportunity to launch himself -- well, heave his bulk -- across his desk to flatten the Angry Elf. While down there he flung his legs to topple the Toad who fell shrieking, "I need you to do what I saaaaay!", before leaping up to shut off the lights. In a breath he was out the door and down the street.

To calm his nerves he dropped into American Oak where a couple shots of Maker's Mark did the trick. While there he remembered how on the East coast he used to escape bullies by pulling aside a street manhole cover to go down there into the safe darkness, pulling the heavy metal lid back over him until hours had passed and it was safe to emerge and go home.

When he finally returned, the place had been trashed -- an experience that was starting to feel familiar -- and all the computers had been mangled.

But the gang had missed the laptop he had from The Doctor and with that instrument he managed to get everything put back together for the Issue.

Naturally, an excellent online backup strategy and IDR policy helped tremendously.

He would have to talk about The Doctor, one of his close allies in some future editorial, but there was no time to waste. The night began to draw its curtains. The Editor made sure to throw the latches to the double doors. The issue began to take shape the way it always did, despite all the hindrances and the obstacles and the last minute changes.

Terrible things happen. You buy a house in good faith and learn to your dismay you are part of a vast conspiracy to rob Americans with bogus mortage deals. In a flurry of financial meltdown you lose your house and your confidence in a lot of things you had held dear. You watch as the people who savaged this country economically walk free without spending a single minute in jail. You see your retirement income vanish before your eyes. Friends abandon you in your need. Your spouse divorces you. You get held up on the street by a punk with a gun. People like the Angry Elf and the Toad cause beaucoups damage and never seem to get caught.

Stuff happens.

It took a while to get things cleaned up and it was nearly midnight by the next day before the Editor got the issue put to bed.

But then, like an old friend the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the tough waves of the estuary and the hard-bitten Buena Vista flats tense with anticipation beneath the star-crossed night sky as the locomotive glided past the dark and 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.


JULY 22, 2012


This week the headline photo comes from Chad's treasure trove of images.

We feel this shows the verdant feel of summer just before things begin to bake into a sere reality. Everything is burgeoning.


As the Island slides into the middle of summer, we see a lot of folks have either left town or are staying low out of the radar lately. Park Street has been sparse and you could have tossed a bowling ball down the middle of Webster and stood there watching for a strike on Saturday night for all the traffic.

Most of the tellers at the local merchants have commented that things are "Slow but hey, I don't mind".

Shadowcliffs waterslides are out of commission in the Valley for anyone seeking to beat the heat when it arrives. Seems like the place is suffering an invasion of "Chinese slugs" and the Park people don't want them sneaking around to the waterways no matter how industriously they can build railroads. We will have to look into this "invasive species" thing a little deeper to rule out any of that sort of xenophobia they got in Arizona.

On the upside we hear that Target has the go-ahead for a big box store along the estuary. Sounds like the project got the nod because of a sweetheart deal involving 300 "homes" to also be added, which smells a good deal like the usual developer flim-flamming. The Target will border the Bayport Housing project near the College, so that rather ostentatious eight-lane entry-way intended for SunCal will not go wasted. The land is the site of the former Navy Fleet Industrial Center which hosted the FISC fire notably a while ago.

The project also features 400,000 square feet of office space, which also has the flavor of "Build build build every square inch" developer's dreams.

Well, times are hard, so anything that brings something in staves off another California municipal bancruptcy for a while longer, so the whole thing, as usual, is a mixture of good and odiferous and never the twain shall part. At least Target is closer to the right kind of corporation we want to have around here than those which toady to the more extreme right wing of Congress.

Speaking of hard times, we hear that the County has upped the assessed property values all over the place. Not that there is any reasonable cause to do so other than the County needs money, so to get it, they arbitrarily raised the property values across the board.

Developers, and that equally as odious group, realtors, are claiming that the news "marked an encouraging signal that investors are more willing to jump into the housing market." Yes, well, our half percent increase might not be all that given the seasonal fluctuation in sales is over 6 percent. Still, it is interesting that most knowledgeable folks agree any positive signs are due to speculators rather than entry of first time buyers into the market.

Is this really what we want? More house flippers back into the mix?

Meanwhile some signs of life remain persistent. Heard that Peter's bluegrass joint is serving up tasty African cuisine now at the Frog and the Fiddle, so we are heartened that maybe a return to the Blues is in the offing there on Webster. Peter is a scrappy fellow -- we know this personally -- and we are glad the abrupt closure of McGrath's has not caused him to cast off his moorings here.

Also still continuing strong is the music scene at the High Street cafe which refuses to go silent for five nights a week.

Not leaving town for the summer because you, like most of us, have not enjoyed a pay raise for about a decade? There is stuff to do around here besides Off the Grid.

In the Letters section of the papers we see a continuing emotional fall-out over the defeat of Measure C as well as increasing nervousness as the "immanent turnaround" fails to materialize. The news from around California is not good as yet another city filed for bankruptcy, sparking concerns the same thing can happen here.

Yes, well, it can. Every sane businessman knows you cannot run things by way of cutbacks and eternal "austerity". Evidence shows it simply does not work. It has never worked and it will not work now. You have to increase revenue or die and you cannot conduct business, such as repairing bridges, resurfacing roads, paying for fire and police, and operating schools by increasing traffic fines and parking fees.

Every businessman who has earned a dollar knows that if you want to make money, you have to spend it first.

Can someone get Doug de Haan to explain any of this? O that's right. He's in the outhouse again for criticizing Silly Hall's lack of responsibility.

And yet, perhaps we are not so fragile that even such a conseqence would be the end of the world. What is it, after all, that makes us what we are? We are a people that know Disaster intimately. After the war party attack, after the terrible fire, there always remains something persistent. Something which cannot be destroyed. Perhaps that is the thing which is most important.


It has been cool with late coastal pogonip cloaking the sun to the extent many around here wondered if there would ever be any summer at all. Then, suddenly like a white heron spreading his wings, the day burst with unfolding heat on Saturday blistering anyone who dared step outside to cross the parkinglot, leaving these streaks of suntan and sere grasses everywhere, fallen feathers of the Sun God.

The last of the eager and the liberated have walked down the aisle for this this year -- graduations all done, Spring flings all flung, folks all gone to the mountains or Tuscany, each depending on each relative degree of daring, this time before Deep Summer is a pause before the Season begins at the theatres and the outdoor festivals take hold. This is a time when most lives go on Pause while Nature continues to bloom. You know you should get up there and cut back that ivy strangling the tree, but the polesaw is in the garage and you are not sure where the gloves have laid themselves and there is the matter of climbing up to get in the fork of the tree there and right now it is just too darned hot to move.

Sharon says that after fifty any sort of fall is sure to break something and by the looks of that tree there you are sure to slip and fall and there she would be, standing over you looking down while wearing that straw hat and saying, did I not tell you about this what were you thinking do you imagine you are some teenager to go climbing trees you are just impossible call that mature action do you.

Once upon a time you had climbed the madrones of Marin, their warm smooth brown boughs holding you and your sister up like the missing mother of your childhood. You had looked down and noticed that your sister, by way of her facial physiognomy looked extraordinarily beautiful from this angle and you made a point to annotate this factoid so that, when in the far distant future, your sister met her husband to be, he would be sure to apprehend her from just such an angle.

The exhileration of climbing trees, with or without a companion, is seldom entered into the literature. Often such an event is illicit, as when your friend Reuben climbed a mango tree to steal fruit on the island of St. Johns only to have the owner come out and fall asleep against the trunk, sticking him in the crown for hours. Sometimes it is quiet and observant. sometimes it is a triumphant prelude to ascending Everest or becoming a doctor of medicine. Never is it to be disregarded as a formative activity.

it was the primodorial precambrian individual you saw in your sister

Scientists say that we are all descended from apes. And that apes became human when they descended from trees. So in a sense we are going back to our roots, so to speak, in tree climbing and it was the primodorial precambrian individual you saw in your sister among the madrones.

Had you mentioned that observation at the time, she would have thrown pine-cones at you, so it is just as well. Not saying anything meant you had full opportunity later in lift to smack her really good and unsuspecting with a soft late summer tomato in another incident not so enobling.

This is to say, all couples planning matrimony or any sort of long-term affair, really should climb trees together, so as to experience life at its fullest. There will always be plenty of time as the years pass to find perfect opportunities to lob tomatoes. Trust us. We know.

Time passes and you find yourself in your garden, wondering if you have climbed all the trees you should have climbed, learned Spanish, and told all the people close to you, including your sister, how you really felt.

Not everyone can afford to climb Everest. Even assuming that you have $40,000 to blow on an expedition, there is the matter of physical preparation -- which some forego -- and the matter of mental preparation -- which many forego -- and the time spent learning about mountains -- which regrettably far too many forego if not most.

The slopes of Everest are littered with the bodies of the wannabe casual explorer - Asian accountants, urban planners, bankers, real estate developers, archetects, computer engineers -- all people whose first calling was anything but climbing mountains and who found that the Mountain is a place of vast indifference that cares not a whit what you do, if you live or die. But trees are everywhere and always a challenge. That is why you do not cut down trees indescriminantly. You destroy opportunities to recapture the past.

The Editor trundled his stodgy form home from the Old Same Place Bar as the evening fogs returned to sooth the fevered Bay Area. In his cubicle, he worked on the various problems caused by the office move and by the intransigience of nasty people who would make war upon all that is sincere and heartfelt. The Angry Elf gang was out there and they had a new accomplice in their nefarious deeds, one called the Toad, a squat woman who was all force and ugly machinations.

They cannot kill us all.

The hours had ticked over past the change of the day. Machines hummed all around him while the empty desks of the newsroom which had seen so much change in recent months stretched silent and vacant. The Nazis rampaged across Europe but we still have newspapers and some form of news media. They cannot kill us all. He went around and switched off lights here and there until he was back to the beginning: a solitary man sitting at a desk with a single lamp making a pool of light while all around there was the darkness. He was still here and still, there remained this hope that out there beyond the pool of light remained someone of like mind.

He went down the long dark aisle to peer out the back window and see the ravaged sour-apple tree and beyond, the tortured vine-strangled tree that had been there for well over 150 years.

In its trunk a boat anchor with chain remained embedded along with belay pins, a spade, a wind chime, and a headless buddha statue, relics of well over a half-century of indifference. Thick ropes of ivy wound up from the base all the way to the very top. From its branches high above a trumpet flower vine dropped petals from twenty feet above the ground. Every time the wind blew, bright red and orange flowers fell to the leaf-strewn path below.

The only thing missing was a slim black-haired woman ...named Elvira

To either side of the sunken flags old maritime detritus lay half covered with weeds. A ship's smokestack stood there filled with overgrown compost next to a glass harbor buoy and rusting farming implements and a wooden bench sat there littered with sourapple leaves. Above all this the yellowing leaves of the tree drooped with ivy as if auditioning the entire yard for a movie setting. The only thing missing was a slim black-haired woman with pale face and blood-red lips strolling down the path in a black sheath gown.

"Dahlink, so glad you haff come here to retire. My name is Elvira. . . ".

Somewhere far off someone blew one of those sports-arena booster horns. Da tah dahhhhhh! And a souped-up car roared down the street with all the noisy exhuberance of youth.

So much for atmospheric decay.

Every summer is like the game of baseball -- there is no Time

That's right, get out while you can and shake the windows when you pass. Do not go gently into that good night. All the graduates loose on the town in celebration as another endless summer begins. Every summer is like the game of baseball -- there is no Time. They both are over when they are over; there is no stopwatch, no finish line. Or say rather that every moment in the summer is an eternal recycling of all the summers that have ever been and all the summers that ever will be and so we walk among the ghosts of every boy who ever threaded a worm on a hook before casting it out over the lake, and the translucent revenant of every girl who sat barefoot on the hood of a car waiting for the world to catch up with her.

The Editor turned away from the view of the gothic yard and returned to his desk, the pool of light, the theme tablet, the pens. Each of us has our place to climb, and climb we must into the place of sunlight and glory. Anything else just becomes sitting on the bench with Elvira while the sourapple leaves fell down. For him, the path wound past Terrapin Station to climb upward with steps he had to create himself, each stone step containing an entire story in itself and all of them making the mountain become real underfoot as you ascended.

Somewhere a door creaked open. The Editor looked up.

"You know," the Editor said as he relit his cigar. "Somebody once said nothing clarifies a man's thinking quite like looking down the barrel of a gun."

Don't make no sudden moves fatboy...

"Don't make no sudden moves fatboy. Unless you wanna be the next schmier on a whole wheat at Boogie Woogie Bagels."

It was the Angry Elf with his sidekick, The Toad.

"Bagel rye is about as extreme as I go, pal. I never will get this modern taste in anything goes for a bagel," The Editor said.

Right then the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, over the noire waves of the estuary and the action-packed Buena Vista flats tense with anticipation beneath the crossed intriguing stars as the locomotive glided past the dark and 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.


JULY 15, 2012


This week's headline photo comes from the treasure trove provided by Chad. It is detail of a door on the Island.


Inside scoop has it the lead bartender for the Lucky 13, Samantha Beran, got bounced from the Uptown this weekend. The lovely and very feisty Ms. Beran was 86'ed for punching an "asshat" for repeatedly shoving her and ignoring the warning. According to Beran, "i hit him once, and not hard- just well, right in the jaw, and his drunk ass fell over. I was ready to leave anyway . . .".

The Island: where all the women are beautiful and win barfights against asshat guys. Hoo yah!

In what should be an object lesson on booze and driving to those immortal teens everywhere, a 15 year-old wrapped his parents' 2005 Malibu around a tree on Island Drive around 1:30am. First responders had to use the "jaws of life" to extract the unconscious driver and five other teens. Fortunately none of the kids was killed although two teens remain in hospital recovering from critical injuries sustained in the crash.

The City is finally going to repair the sea wall at the end of Walnut about which residents have been complaining for years. The wall was originally a frontline to the Bay before the fill-in that created the lagoon took place.

The latest flap, besides people complaining about folks shooting off fireworks on the 4th of July, is an ongoing public venting over a security officers employed by a local developer preventing shutterbugs from taking pictures at the Point, claiming that the property was "private."

The recent letter noted that even some private property locations, such as shopping malls, are considered by law to be "public spaces" where photography cannot be restricted, and that no one can prohibit taking pictures from a public sidewalk of anything save a secure military installation.

There is some interesting back and forth talk about shifting fire services to the County so as to save money, but not a lot of hard figures to support the move. This one probably does not have the support to really make headway against the Old Guard here.

Better note that Lincoln hard by its crossing at Park with the Library and the PD Station is marked, scored and ready to be be dug up in a way that will make what happened last Friday at Southshore Mall with road construction a minor hiatus.

The work on Otis will continued during the week, as the scoured roadbed still needs to be paved. The trenching work on Lincoln, coupled with repainting of the parking spaces at the library, will snarl traffic heading over the Park Street bridge so be ready for that.


Looks like Yoshi's East has a lock on excellent gigs this month. Got John Mayall taking the 17th on Tuesday, followed by the minor jazz genius of Victor Wooten 19th to the 20th.

We don't want to call the prodigy a major genius because we like the feller to keep trying hard.

Massively talented and pleasantly affable Charlie Musselwhite shows up for a show in which the harp master headlines for once. If you are good boys and girls, the Mississippi native will haul out his guitar for some tasty self-penned blues.

Leo Kottke, the astonishing virtuoso who has invented an entire style for himself on 6 and 12 strings taks the 22nd to the 23rd.

Finally, New Orleans sends the amazing Henry Butler to tickle your ivories. We were down in New Orleans at the Shingletown venue when a top-marquee performer told the entire audience "I know you all came here to see me, but I have to tell you that there is a living legend in the next room who is really far better than I am. You can stay if you want, but I know where I would go if I were in the audience tonight."

We went next door and, frankly, we were blown away by an original master of the barrelhouse piano.

You may have missed String Cheese Incident at the Greek -- shame on you -- but you can still snag the ethereal world beats of Dead Can Dance August 12. The quirky Belgian Gotje occupies the nusmatically curious 09/09/12.

Oaktown shines for the Art and Soul Fest August 4 and 5 under the big tree at Frank Ogawa Plaza. All ears are on for Vetiver who while appear with a number of other shining lights that weekend.


Zora Neal Hurston was one of the bright lights of the Harlem Renaissance that took place in the early twentieth century before World War Two. An accomplished socio-linguist and trained anthropologist who studied as the sole Black student at Barnard College, she published four novels and 50 short stories, plays and essays. Her acute ear for spoken dialect, her unblinking examination of sexual power in all its manifestations, and her unrepenetent opposition to New Deal programs led her, however, to politically motivated obscurity for years until Alice Walker embraced her novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God", substantially employing the narrative in dialect form for her opus The Color Purple while borrowing many of Hurston's beloved themes.

Although she possessed a formidible intellect, had graduated from an Ivy League college, had worked two years as a graduate student in Columbia University, had secured a Guggenheim grant, her work fell out of fashion as Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison sought to elevate the discourse about African American issues by globalizing the issues in overtly political terms.

Critics found her work with its straightforward dialect to be demeaning and pandering to White stereotypes in a time when much White racist parody involved skewed versions of "Negro dialect".

The novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God" is packed with idiomatic speech, but it also is packed with scads of very uncomfortable situations that have a very real resonance in the way a properly delivered blues song will do.

Her characters are not majestic kings and queens but average human beings with the all too human foibles that form the meat and potatoes of all the same stuff about which James Joyce wrote.

Think Wright and Ellison in the clouds and Hurston with Jimmy Joyce embedded in the quotidian.

So after a sort of rehabilitation by Alice Walker and some belated recognition by others, such as Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, Hurston is experiencing a comeback after dying in a welfare home.

Indeed any perceptive person should have seen by now that the Bay Area is witnessing a kind of Renaissance of its own in terms of Black Identity as witnessed by several stages, including Berkeley Black Reperatory, ACT, Berkeley Rep and now Cal Shakespeare. These are mainstage, established companies finding that folks are eager to explore with zest their identities and experience cultural examination that looks above the lowbrow and escapes the rut of victimization.

photo by Kevin Berne

Although Hurston did write a short story titled "Spunk", it does not appear among the three adaptations prepared by George C. Wolfe. There is quite a lot of material packed into the three pieces, all acted and related with Hurston's sure anthropological fidelity to demotic speech. Indeed one piece is titled "Story in Harlem Slang".

Each story is played out by the ensemble with verve and delightful energy to the background music performed by solist Anthony Michael Peterson, a.k.a Tru.

Anthony Michael Peterson a.k.a. Tru as Guitar Man in Cal Shakes’ SPUNK, directed by Patricia McGregor; photo by

Peterson performs on lapsteel, full dreadnought, uke, 21 fret cutaway and what sounded like a 12 string guitar, pretty much keeping up various rhythms and melodies for a solid 90 minutes without ever leaving the stage. The man is a quite impressive musical talent. We heard him seque from smooth jazz style to gut bucket blues that briefly included the famous riff from "Mannish Boy" before getting back to 1920's swing. Periodically he arose from his corner to provide accompaniment to the ensemble for the vocal musical numbers.

The performance is challenging and a treat, including audience participation for some of the musical interludes, and occasional audience direct participation in the action -- be forewarned if you sit in the front row. You just might wind up on stage dancing with one of the actors.

Aldo Billingslea as Sweet Back, Omoze Idehenre as Girl, and Tyee Tilghman as Jelly in Cal Shakes’ SPUNK, directed by Patricia McGregor; photo by Kevin Berne.

We found the entire experience delightful, with vivid costumes designed by Callie Floor, and an interesting sparse stage set by Michael Locher. Because of the nature of the performance source material we think special mention should go to Lynne Soffer who provided services as Dialect/Text Coach.

Now this combination of gut bucket blues and old tyme dialect raises of course issues about what this all means to the present generation trying to get by in a world ruled by iPhones, GPS, and Beyonce. Indeed this is already the post Micheal Jackson era and we got a Brother in the White House. So why do we need to hear all that howlin' about Crawling King Snake and got the Boll's disease blues when the Great Migration from the Deep South was so long ago?

In other words, why bring up all that old pain from the Jim Crow days when there is plenty to deal with right now? Alice Walker certainly could explain this better, or her prickly soul mate of intellect, and fellow Oaklandish, Ishmael Reed (please don't hit me, Dr. Reed!). If you want to go forward you need to have a firm grasp of where you have been.

As the "Guilded Six Bits" shows, you need to look close at what seems to find real value. You might not agree, ultimately, with going back to the rural roots of Americana for sustinance, but it is important to know exactly what one is rebelling against. Just at the Blues was never all about the wail -- it also was about call and response, about telling about life as it is, and sometimes about celebration -- dialect-base storytelling is about the thrednody of feeling and persistence. For behind the corn and grits and fatback, all the stylized "slide me some skin Slim" and "Ahm gonna git me some o' dat" there was from the beginning heart and soul. And the spunk to drive on forward out of adversity.

After all the main point is that there really is no going back. You all are safe from that.

However when you talk about heart and soul, music and feeling. And language. You are talking good theatre. And another coupe for Cal Shakes in Orinda.


Patricia McGregor - Director
Michael Locher - Set Designer
Callie Floor - Costume Designer
York Kennedy - Lighting Designer
Will McCandless - Sound Designer
Paloma McGregor - Choreographer
Lynne Soffer* - Dialect/Text Coach
Bryan Dyer - Vocal Coach
Dave Maier - Fight Consultant
Laxmi Kumaran* - Stage Manager
Corrie Bennett* - Assistant Stage Manager
Rebecca Frank - Assistant Director
Krista Smith - Assistant Lighting Designer
Cordelia Miller - Production Assistant


Aldo Billingslea* - Sweet Back, Joe
L. Peter Callender* - Sykes, Slang Talk Man
Margo Hall* - Delia
Omoze Idehenre* - Missie May
Anthony Peterson, A.K.A. Tru - Guitar Man
Tyee Tilghman* - Jelly, Slemmons
Dawn L. Troupe* - Blues Speak Woman

*Denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association.


So anyway the weather has been chill in the mornings with high fog and warm to hot depending on where you happen to be by afternoon.

Summer has begun in the Bay Area. The same summer that drove Mark Twain grumbling back to Missouri, which we are not so sure has that much better weather on reflection.

Nevertheless here we are with all our gardens, most of them struggling to battle the persistant fogs that some say are the curse levied upon White people by the native Miwok for being such egregious and greedy scumbags a while back.

It's hard to fault the Miwok, but those of us who are relative newcomers here had nothing to do with all that and we dearly would like to grow strawberries in what seems otherwise to be ideally sandy soil.

You see people try all the time. They put the starters out in raised beds and wait for the runners. Maybe one year there is a lot of sun for a while and the plants perk up, but the inevitable happens and another year passes with little to show for it and the gardener who seems to handle zucchini with no problem - plenty of those big as pumpkins -- says, well it takes a couple years for the plants to really get going. A couple more years goes by and Susan and Lynnette drop by with a big basket of juicy strawberries as a gift.

Where did you get those?

Farmer's market. They are from the Valley. Where they have sun. You know.

So Jaqueline pops a fat juicy strawberry in her mouth - part of one actually because they are so big -- and dreams of the abundant gardens that used to ring Bear's Lake up north.

These would be great with rhubarb.

Rhubarb. Don't even try to grow that around here. The results would be a tragicomedy. Don't get me started.

Nevertheless, summertime has arrived, just more hesitantly along the coast than in other places. Since this is supposed to be some kind of Paradise, we don't have the Fruit of Temptation here. Lots of mangos, papayas, kiwis and tons of pineapple, but no temptation as everyone just gives in right away.

You see two people indulging in ice cream and in two shakes of a lamb's tail they are in the sack with each other or any number of additions. Temptation -- why waste time equivocating in the land of Just Do It?

Of course we do keep a few Baptists around, largely for comic relief. After all a spiritual life of profiteroles with champagne gets tedious after a while.

Indeed everyone of moral fiber knows the real secret to a just, well-governed life well buckled in with solid morality is the particular meditation governed by law and nature practiced by the chosen few. Let the carnal hedonist leap upon his or her mound of strawberries.

The righteous man goes trout fishing.

Yes, in Spring the healthy young man's sap rises and the vigorous think of bonking Jane in the fields. But the moral man takes hold of his pole of another kind and sets forth before the dawn to pursue the elusive brookie, the moody cutthroat, and that glorious prize of the high Sierra, the spectacular Golden.

In this time Eugene puts aside his poodle-hunting gear and brings out the holy creel, the rod, the spinner, the line, and the sacred lures, each hand-tied.

In summer, Father Danyluk can be found down at Crab Cove casting his line. Jesus was a fisherman. Or rather hung with fishermen -- he really should have been a woodworker, but that trade doesn't fit the Bible very well. All that vigorous chopping and whittling is too cheerful for the image wanted of Our Saviour. So we call him a fisher of men. So I go fishing and it all fits.

The Bishop of St. Joe's of Pathos Basilica called him overly literal. "You have been hanging around those Lutheran friends of yours too long." He always threatened to send Danyluk to some godforsaken place in the jungles of Brazil where the natives snorted green hallucinogenic powders and ate missionaries on a regular basis, but Danyluk would bring around a stringer of herring or bream for the Bishop's dinner and so that decision would be put off. Then Danyluk would go off to Pastor Nyquist to enjoy a bit of sherry. And some delicious baked salmon.

In the Old Same Place Bar, also a place of spirit, the discussion turns to fishing while the Man from Minot, who cares not for trout fishing in America watches the news on the tube.

"What's a boson?" he asks David Phipps. "They're all over the news."

"Bos'un? That's like a captain's first mate on a merchant," Padraic says.

All the others were telling Big Fish stories.

"His head was at least five feet wide," Eugene said. "Finally I was face to face with the Great California King Golden Trout himself . . .".

"That was the trip you took along Padraic's special brew in your flask," Dawn said.

"My perceptions were heightened," Eugene said. "By being at the influx to Lake Martha, the Mother of all Golden Trout and the source of the noble San Joaquin."

"You were heightened all right," Dawn laughed. "By Padraic's home brew!"

Suzie sighed. What are you going to do. Some dance the night away, some go fishing. Some take from the cornicopia fish or strawberries, each to each as they wish. Some never reach at all and the cornicopia just passes on by on a big platter like a brass ring on a merry-go-round.

Some lives roll easy. Others just never roll at all.

A couple at a table left alone to themselves by the people who had brought each of them seperately there. Have another? Closing time! Last call, Suzie said.

But no. Do you want to go? Do you? Yes. Yes, lets! Lets what? Let's go! And they do. Together into the night of foghorns and streetlights.

Suzie collects the used glasses, cleans up the napkins and the spills. Goes to her anthropology textbook.

The Man from Minot speaks to her. "Suzie you are a very nice girl. Still young. Still beautiful in your own way. Here is something I cannot use myself." He leaves something on the counter and goes out into that night of mist and foghorns.

On the counter rested a very large, bright red strawberry, half coated with chocolate.

As Suzie hovered over this artifact, the door opened and a young man entered carrying a musician's case of some kind over his shoulder.

"Am I too late?" He said with a slight accent. His face was dark and he had dark hair and dark eyes.

"No," Suzie said. "What'll you have?"

The young man looked at her and seemed transfixed. "You . . .".

From far across the water, the long howl of the the throughpassing train ululated across the lusty waves of the estuary and the wind-caressed of the Buena Vista flats beneath the amorous stars as the locomotive glided past the dark and 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.


JULY 8, 2012


There just don't seem to be a lot of songs about lacewings, so just put on your latest Chris Smither and kick back for this one, submitted by Chad, which is one of those things that shows you don't need to travel beyond your front gate to experience great wonders.


It was a short broken week for some as summer weather paid a brief visit to the Bay Area for the National Holiday. For others, as for Island-Life staff, digital emergencies meant getting head down and staying in harness for double overtime.

As Lou Reed says, "Some people like to go out dancing; others like us gotta work."

Nevertheless we heard the 37th Annual Mayor's Parade, which has fallen from the number one slot to the more appropriate #2 for national ranking in parade length. It's an Island after all, and much longer than 3.3 miles, the parade will have to begin and end in the water.

Even though the police closed off the Point for fireworks viewing, general American rambunctiousness persisted, with rockets and small-arms fire erupting sporadically all over the Island.

One contact reported that she had to inject her dogs with valium and that it sounded "like Beiruit" in her normally sedate district in Oaktown.

High energy and hijinks persisted into the wee hours, resulting in a high speed car chase on the Bay Bridge that ended in a crash and gunshots at 2:20am. That was the reason the bridge was closed well into the following day after the 4th.

If that were not enough, another crash Thursday closed all lanes of northbound 880 putting a solid cap on any serious effort for East Bay citizens to get around before the weekend.

The crash occurred shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday, just north of Interstate Highway 980, according to CHP Officer Sam Morgan.

Investigators believe the crash occurred when driver Gary Clegg entered I-880 North at the Seventh Street off ramp in the wrong direction.

Clegg, driving a 2011 Nissan Sentra, drove across the freeway before crashing into a 1998 Honda Civic in the far left lane.

Both Clegg and the driver of the Civic, Leyva Cesar, sustained moderate, non-life threatening injuries in Thursday’s crash and all lanes were shut down for several hours.

The Holiday traffic misery continued into Sunday when a five-car pileup killed at least one person and severely injured another on southbound 101 in San Mateo.

Dispatchers received a report of an accident on southbound Highway 101 near East Poplar Avenue in San Mateo at 12:52 a.m.

According to authorities, a white pickup truck was unoccupied and stopped in the fast lane when a Mazda with at least one passenger in the back seat collided with the truck at a high speed.

Like a chain reaction, three other cars piled into the earlier crash soon afterward, but no one else was injured.

The crash blocked four lanes of southbound Highway 101 until it was cleared almost three hours later. The driver of the pickup fled the scene.

People, people, people, please, please do calm down.


Sunday finally petered out after a another successful Off the Grid at Southshore Mall with some splendid sunshine -- once the high fog had burned off and BBQ grills fired up from backyards, postage-stamp front lots and our ever-popular garage-driveway locations.

Silly Hall got some good news in the wake of Measure C's demise. The Measure was supposed to fund, among several things not so serious, emergency services. In the nick of time, the IFD captured a federal grant to the tune of $1.76 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency from a fund that is intended to preserve staffing levels in worthy departments. As a result 6 positions will be guaranteed retention for two years.

In hindsight we hope that more than a few folks realized by now how boneheaded an idea was linking funding for fire services and swimming pools together in a time of critical Recession.

Some folks are still in a twist about the graffiti defacement that occured here a couple weeks ago. There was also, just to keep facts in order, a defacement of the theatre in April. The red spray tags read "Dirty Boys" and "Cop Killer".

The two teens responsible have been caught and are being punished.

While some graffiti can -- with squinted eyes -- be termed "somewhat artful", the theatre tags were simply ugly scrawls lacking imagination. It is highly unlikely that taking an attitude of high dudgeon will have any effect however.

For a look at a mixture of good and bad images, as well as a good idea of the kinds of places that tend to attract tagging, look at :

In Oakland, some local possessed of some civic pride found a way to deal with the vandalism -- as you can see below:

In a blighted area festooned with graffiti of all kinds, this wall managed to escape tagging. Call it fighting fire with fire. And note the ugly "professionall" graffiti that looms over the entire neighborhood behind the wall.

You say tomahhto, and I say tomaytoh?


So anyway, the weather has been our usual early summer spate of cool fog-shrouded mornings followed by deceptively bright sunshine along the coast. Soon as the sun goes down all the folks from SoCal huddle under wool blankets and load up the fireplace with logs to ameliorate the dreadfully painful temperatures hovering about 52 degrees while people from Winnipeg and San Francisco stride about in flipflops and shorts wondering about all the fuss.

The annual July 4th parade took place as scheduled with Charles driving the open stagecoach of honor, looking for all the world with his white beard and ample girth as if Santa Claus had descended from the North Pole to put on a stetson and ferry Mayor Marie around town instead of a bag full of toys.

As per tradition, Charles pointed the coach straight at the Island-Life photographer in an effort to run him down, but our man got clean away.

Naturally the Native Sons of the Golden West had their entry, a garden float complete with guys dressed as golden poppies, bumble bee kids, and all the women wrapped in a long continuous flag winding amid the misty mountains majesty, flowing waterfalls and 49ers panning for gold, among whom Snuffles Johnson kept company, as the man already resembled something which had been living hard in the hills already without makeup. David supplied him with a jug of Carlo Rossi burgundy and so the old bum made much merry up there amidst the Spirit of 49, roistering and ogling all the pretty cheerleaders.

All the churches presented floats -- there were several blocks of those -- and many of the bars entered floats as well to follow the churches -- there were many many blocks of those -- and all the dance studios as well. As usual the Catholics were the best organized, and the Lutherans had the best looking women.

The organizers relented this year to allow political groups, such as Mary for Congress, Papoon for President, and the Democratic Party, because it was felt these groups were so innocuous and unassuming it was almost as if they were not political entities at all.

Once again Papoon's campaign slogan meant to distinguish him from the pack of candidates is "Not Insane!"

There was the usual martial stuff with antique hardware and old soldiers and the always popular Swim Club float with attractive ladies wearing swimsuits and diving goggles.

Things went swimmingly until the Elks Club entry #147. The Elks, being a large group full of people who like to get involved, managed to assuage internal frictions by creating a float for all of the feuding factions, so this one group wound up with about twelve seperate floats. The Veteran Elks. The Civic Elks, the Musical Elks, the Medical Elks, the Travelling Elks, the Space-Age Elks, the Affable Elks, and the Gameboy Elks.

It was the Angry Birds Elks that caused all the subsequent trouble. This was an ingenious two float entry which featured a human catapault on one truck and a rickety cardboard palace stuffed with little paper mache green pigs on the other.

The whole thing had not lumbered more than half a block when Martini, stuffed into a plump redbird costume, got flung twenty feet from this bungee cord catapault to overshoot the cardboard castle of pigs to bounce off of the cab roof of the truck and plow into the House of India entry, scattering bowls of daal and sari-clad women, bouncing from there the way those Angry Birds do into the middle of Wootie Kanootie's moose herd which stampeded and overran the Sons of the Golden West float, completely destroying the gauze American flag and forcing Lady Liberty to ascend Mt. Whitney without her robe just as the float turned the corner to head down Park Street and the official parade starting point where the NRA folks were demonstrating firearm safety by firing pistols into the air.

Lady Liberty, a free-spirited competition swimmer from Catalina named Wynona, had taken care to prepare for the warm temperatures by shucking just about every stitch so it was a pretty impressive and largely nude Lady Liberty wearing a crown and bearing a torch that stared down the Island main drag as Wootie's moose herd trampled the Island Animal Rescue Shelter entry, busting open cages and sending any number of rabbits, cats, shi tzu's, and ferrets scampering between the legs of the show horses.

Someone got a coat for Wynona, but the avatar of Blind Justice, portrayed by the lovely Samantha of Brazil behind the three 1776 militiamen didn't notice that her robe had gone with the moose herd because of her blindfold. Wally, portraying Congress (2nd Branch) was drunk and did not notice. Eugene, portraying something that was supposed to be either Uncle Sam or George Washington (Executive Branch) had been raised a devout Catholic with strict orders to ignore naked women of any kind, so he said nothing, but appreciated the view all the same.

Once Martini got free of his costume and the moose, he abandoned the parade in a most unpatriotic fashion to get a Fat Tire and a bump at the Old Same Place Bar.

Much later, the Wiccan coven of Gaia was astonished to see Eunice the moose come strolling into their pentangle under the pines out by Crab Cove. All in a tangle of holiday lights and streamers about her massive neck clung the remnants of a bright red Angry Bird costume.

Pahrump, well toked up for the occasion on Humboldt's finest green, towed the blind Avatar on a skateboard behind his scooter for a good mile before Ms. Morales came up to him and hissed, "Your passenger -- she is naked!"

The Falun Gong folks rescued the day by taking the naked Avatar of Justice, scales and all, into the sanctuary of their gauzy twenty-foot wide lotus.

That night the parade was very much the talk of the town however not all the amazement was reserved to the brass rail of the Old Same Place Bar. Late at night a dark periscope poking above the waters of the estuary observed the ritual explosions and firey pinwheels of the annual American Holiday.

Mohammed, First Mate to Captain Abdul in the belly of the Iranian spy submarine AIS Chadoor, commented on the violence and the chaos.

"Indeed they are a warlike people, these infidels."

The captain observed through the periscope the Native Sons of the Golden West using the Angry Bird catapault to toss each other into the lagoon. "Warlike and very, very . . . silly."

David Phipps did an aerial barrel roll amid the bottle rockets before landing with a great splash.

"Silly and . . . entertaining." The captain amended.

And with that the periscope went down and the spy sub glided through the estuary to the San Francisco Bay where passed beneath the bombs bursting in air, the purple majesty of Mount Tam and the spans of the Golden Gate that so gallently gleamed out to the shining sea, running silent, running deep.

From far across the water, the long howl of the the throughpassing train ululated across the patriot waves of the estuary and the waving grasses of the Buena Vista flats beneath the gleaming stars as the locomotive glided past the dark and 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.


JULY 1, 2012


You may have noticed this new addition kitty-corner from Silly Hall on Santa Clara.

This is the iron fountain that once stood in the hall of the Crucible, the arts workshop founded by Michael Sturtz. Dr. Sturtz has left his brainchild to act as advising professor to Stanford University, where he is establishing a more well-funded version of the Crucible, which will be an attachment to the theatre program there.

Sturtz, a highly successful industrial artist, owns the working fountain, which he states weighs about 10,000 pounds, and sits on a concrete and rebar pedestal that extends some twenty feet below the soil surface.

Since this fountain is a revenant of sorts, we thought Jackson Browne's song about a former lover would be an appropriate title here.


We stated that we always give a reviewed entity another chance when the experience turns out less than ideal, and we remain true to that. We still have East West Pizza on the agenda for a revision. Saturday night we revisited Speisekammer after a break of a couple years.

On our first visit to Speisekammer, we were not impressed, largely because the eatery was true to genuine German restaurant food, which we know from experience trends to the bland and uninteresting. Germans do not regard dinner or supper as important meals, so most Germans who want to dine out after hours will go Italian, French or even Chinese in country. In Europe a plate of cold sausage and cheese with a hunk of bread is about as good as it gets and warm dishes tend to be of the leftovers from the more exalted Mittagsessen.

Speisekammer, we have to say, has figured out American tastes very well

Speisekammer, we have to say, has figured out American tastes very well and the food is vastly improved, becoming highly competitive in fact, while still remaining true to central European flavor balances.

The fish plates are all very indicative of Northern German cuisine, with smoked trout, herring, and salmon laid over beds of spinach and savory matjes cream and pickled onions with plump capers. We actually had not come for the food or even the beers, but we did enjoy the range of appetizers which tends to signal things to come for the entrees.

We came to Speisekammer for the music. Seems the place has secured an energetic and savvy booker for the music entertainment, and we suspect if things continue a door cover charge will be in the offing as the street word has it that Speisekammer's postage-stamp stage is hot, hot, hot.

After cocktails and food our party moved to the main lounge, where a table had been reserved for us. One of our party is an accomplished blues harp player with some local renown, so the rails were well greased for a good sit to hear the local Delta blues band Howell-Devine.

Our music desk person heard KALX present HowellDevine and went avidly in search of venues in the Bay Area, where the hardworking trio seems to be all over the place lately.

We have to say after Saturday's amazing performance, heightened by an enthusiastic crowd that managed to pull two encores out of the surprised band that had not expected the dowdy Island to be so appreciative, this is another winner destined for larger distribution.

The group does delta blues, which is to say you will not hear a lot of the more popular Chicago style with its well known dunta-dunta shuffle. Mississippi Delta blues is raw, rich, gutbucket stuff which had to please crowded juke joints packed with flappers, boozers, tough field hands and razor-edge types or at the least there would be no door, and at the worst, guns and knives would settle issues any time during the evening.

You had to get them up on the floor and Saturday night -- Howell and Devine did just that by tearing another hole out of the night with a chunking extended instrumental on the group's signature harp instrumental Train lasting a good twenty minutes and some incendiary slide work on old chestnuts like Running Hiding, Mighty Long Time, and Boat's Up the River, evoking RL Burnside in a way that would have had even bad boy Jack White nodding with appreciation, and Mississippi Fred MacDowell ("I don't do no rock and roll -- I do da Blues").

You have to sit through a lot of I,IV,V paint-by-numbers stuff to hear the kind of thing we all heard Saturday night, but this is really what the Blues is about when its good. While the local-born Joshua Howell may have come to performance late after an epiphany in Thailand that lasted nine years, percussionist Pete Devine came out of Maine to entrench himself here as a solid jazz backup to several notable bands, branching out from his founding seat with the Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers to a 20-year stint with the Mal Sharpe's Jazz Band. He has played all over the world and done Davies Symphony Hall here at home, so the guy is no NOOB.

The band seems to have taken the House band slot in the City's Revolution Cafe, but will be taking Yoshi's East by storm here with The Grandmothers of Invention on Thursday, July 26, 2012. Howell told our rep that this gig would be more acoustic in focus.

We think that this band has legs and will soon take off, so best get your seats now to catch them while young.

Got a good review for the Chinese restaurant Dragon Rouge from one of our wandering epicures. Here it is:

Been there a few times and only had one clinker on a busy evening when they overcooked some filet Mignon, otherwise their food is great. It can be a bit expensive, but you can get off cheap if you split plates. My favorite cheap eat is hot garlic noodles. You can get them with prawns, chicken or tofu, but they're cheapest by themselves. The hottest choice is not I-dare-you-to-eat-it hot unless you have no tolerance for peppers. Favorite appetizer is crab cones; little crunchy cones, stuffed with crab filling that you wrap in a lettuce leaf to eat. Best dessert is banana samosas with vanilla ice cream. The cocktails are interesting, if pricey, but one will usually do or, if splurging, maybe two.


As noted we always give any reviewed entity a second pass, and sometimes a third, for times are tough and its not easy being green when the till sees red.

We wanted to do a good review of Speisekammer, but something happened which almost overturned all that was excellent.

Unfortunately what happened seemed all too typical of conditions here on the Island where so many are struggling so hard to make it. So we are not going to single out Speisekammer or any of its employees by detailing the problems that occurred due to what is generally regarded as abysmal service of the type that drives good paying customers from the door.

Speisekammer is not alone in what seems to be an epidemic of service issues here. Yes it is an island. Yes it is a small town. A small town which happens to have a German, a Norwegian, a Cuban, a Mongolian for crissakes, several Vietnamese, scads of Chinese, dozens of Thai, helpings of Mexican, and for all we know African restaurants which belies the idea that we are totally isolated from the world.

We have people living here who have dined at the Waldorf Astoria and who are used to things being done right. If the Island is a microcosm of the Midwest, then let us see some of the Midwest notable charm and friendliness.

Is it possible that sometimes an honest mistake does happen? Yes.

Time after time we have gotten stories over the transom of people being treated vilely by service staff here in cases that surely would cause the owners to tear their hair out in frustration were they to know what is going on. You never, never, never allow a dissatisfied customer walk out the door without at least some offering to resolve the problem or make amends. Is it possible that sometimes an honest mistake does happen? Yes. Are customers sometimes unreasonable and demanding and obnoxious? Yes. Frequently. Are customers sometimes entirely wrong.

Are customers sometimes entirely wrong. No.


First rule of business: a customer is never, never, never wrong.

Never send anyone out the door feeling like they have been mistreated. You are entirely in the wrong business if you ever act otherwise. You may think all you wish, but it is how you act that makes the difference.

Here is a story about an honest mistake in another city with another establishment and how different the issue was resolved and how the Island establishments may learn from it.

The customers came in and ordered food and drinks, which happened to be margaritas, along with tequila shots along side.

The drinks arrived and the one person in the couple dumped their shot into their drink, commenting only that the shot "looked a little clear", and that the drink seemed unusually weak in flavor.

The other member of the party dumped half of the shot into his drink, tasted it, and found the drink heavily diluted.

He then tasted the remaining shot and found it was not tequila as ordered but tap water.

The server was summoned and the Management response was swift and apologetic.

New drinks were presented along with new shots, the Manager himself came to apologize profusely for the error caused by the accidental swap of display bottles from a decorative arrangement with bar stock and it was generally well recognized that the problem had been embarrassing and now would be rectified.

Contrast this with a recent experience on the Island where the party was double charged for fare received, never obtained initial order of soup, and was summarily escorted from the restaurant when a party member complained about the inaccurate bill.

The explanation? The original server had left at the end of their shift and nothing was to be done. The party was the problem and had to get out, pronto.

Um, this is not world class service. This sort of thing is precisely what drives dollars off the island to places where people seem to care. It was clear management was nowhere present on a weekend night and the establishment will suffer because the particular guests offended (note the term "guests" here, people) happen to enjoy some significant local swing in the hospitality industry.

getting all your friends to say only good things about your business will not fix the problem

Your local business Mafia is not going to fix this problem, and getting all your friends to say only good things about your business will not fix the problem. People who have traveled the world and who know what good service is supposed to be will take their wallets elsewhere. You will not enjoy traffic from special events such as the America's Cup so long as the execrable situation continues to persist. Just one bad experience and those people will say, OK fine, and be out the door never to return.

You need to have all your ducks in a row. The food must be good. The prices need to be reasonable. The entertainment needs to be in synch. The presentation must be spot on. The stars must align and still things like late deliveries, sudden accidents will arise. Stuff happens and running a topnotch establishment is by no means easy. But when it runs well it runs heavenly. And more importantly, everyone, including the service staff, goes home tired and well-paid for their efforts.

You want to be casual about it, then set up a greasy spoon with meatloaf on mashed potatoes with gravy as the main entree. Doreen of the rhinestone eyeglasses can sling that fellow on to the linoleum tabletop and ask "You want fries with that?" Coffee in a pot that has sat all day and if you want water go get it yourself from the faucet; glasses over there. Let her collect her fifty cents tip at the end of it.

Just don't pretend you are any better than that.


We reported on the demolition of the old Good Chevrolet/Toyota dealership on Park a couple weeks ago. Front page news of the Journal reported that CVS, which already has two other stores here, is planning to lease two new buildings on the site, which has some concerned that the place could become a mini-mall. If CVS moves into what amounts to well over 21,000 square feet of space, the stores in the Mariner Square Village and next to the parking garage will likely face closure.

A lot of details, including parking issues, still need to be worked out.

Seems PM Realty has been having security guards wave off shutterbugs out there.

Got some interesting mail involving the second or third incident in which a person was prevented from taking photographs at the Point, which objectively retains some interesting vistas and architecture worthy of recording. Seems PM Realty has been having security guards wave off shutterbugs out there. We are guessing this has a lot to do with a developer's vested interest in securing lucrative contracts than any real security or privacy concerns. More than likely, PM Realty is more concerned that people will see images of open space and decide they rather like things the way they are rather than have some grubby developers come in to tear the heart out of everything the way they tend to do. Check out the song Lochloosa by JJ Grey and about a place in Florida to get a sense of how at least one person feels about the process.

Some fallout is emerging from the rather nonsensical exclusion of the Point for fireworks viewing by the IPD. It is the position that they do not want people viewing fireworks from the Point, where there is a clear unobstructed view of the Bay that encompasses three counties and several cities because - surprise - lots of people show up there every year.

And of course, this is called an "assembly" in police parlance, and therefore because it is an assembly, it wants policing to prevent crime, and . . . well, more crime. Because that is what police departments are supposed to do. But because of budget cutbacks, the department cannot "guarantee" public safety.

Well, you know you cannot guarantee a Great White will not snap your child in half while playing at the beach, nor can you guarantee a road rage numbskull will not nail your wife with his obscenely large SUV in the crosswalk, little kids blow digits off every year through inane carelessness, but life is a risk and you simply cannot paste a hazard disclaimer on every little thing and fools will imitate the Jackass movies no matter how much you say "its just a movie."

Okay enough of silly and unfair comparisons. We have been at the Point. We have witnessed folks firing fireworks that probably were illegal out over the water. The helicopters came and the perps scattered like vermin. No doubt some people out there were intoxicated.

So what?!

Do you want people from Fremont who drove up here to view fireworks to go to somebody's backyard and discharge that Chinese municipal-grade rocket in someone's backyard instead of over the Bay? Do you think this is really more safe or controllable? Are the police totally without sense?

How can any idiot be a policeman,

Well, as the harried and furious Chief said to Inspector Clouseau, "How can any idiot be a policeman, answer me that?"

The Inspector's innocent response: "Very simple sir. All you have to do is enlist."

This has to be one of the more boneheaded decisions in recent years by the Department. Not the worst, but it ranks up there with watching a feller die because of low funding support.

If there really are 10,000 people gathering at the Point to get rowdy on July 4th, don't you think a water-bounded area with unimportant structures and large open space is a good place to put them rather than funnel those same rowdy folks out onto the public roads to tangle with families going out to see the dwindling number of municipal fireworks in a time when fewer and fewer cities are holding displays because of the Great Recession?

Are we the place known as "the city where authorities watched a man drown so as to prove a point"

This also falls into the category of "What kind of city do we want to be?" going forward. Are we the place known as the city where authorities watched a man drown so as to prove a point on the budget and the kind of place that once banned dancing (look it up!)? Or do we all take control of our city from imbeciles who have not a god damned clue that we happen to sit smack in the middle of a major international metropolitan area.

Finally, on the lighter side of curmudgeonly, we note a spate of letters to the Editor at the Sun, charmingly and in an astoundingly antiquated way, leveling cannons at the mosquitos of impropriety and disrespect.

No you are not in some kind of time machine. A fellow really did complain about loud teenagers "screaming" while our proper folks were playing tennis in a place we suppose is expected to enforce that everyone wears white shorts and tennies with white socks. Of course there are exclusive clubs where that atmosphere persists like a miasma, but this was a public place.

Sorry, we are not sympathetic.

We have a little more sympathy for those decrying graffiti, although the language involved does sound a bit intemperate and there are really more serious things to get hot about.

It would be interesting to see what would happen should the internationally known graffiti artist Banksy tag the Island. In some places, municipal works have secured the tagged walls and removed them to be sold to museums for millions of dollars.

Art is in the eye of the beholder. Money is in the pocket of those who have it. Public respect has no relation to the two.

Then again, is the sorry state of our public schools resulting in an inferior grade of graffiti artist? Is our graffiti really lacking in artistic value? Where are the parents when young vandals want to practice their trade? We are shocked. Simply shocked.


So anyway the weather has been typical Norcal: high fog and cool temps just lulling everyone into thinking this will go on forever before the heat blast slams everyone into the Reality that Republicans always talk about, which is always unpleasant.

Most of the staff around the offices here have been preparing for the annual Island-Life mountain sabbatical, which means many things have been going half done, causing the Editor much grief.

The Editor is still grappling with the consequences of the Move and now one of the reporters has decided to embrace her Huguenot roots. Nevermind there has not been a Huguenot around for generations - the Catholics in France murdered most of them by inviting them to a teaparty and then slitting their throats and committing a number of other atrocities vaguely and anachronistically reminiscent of Darfur and Bosnia. Whoever imagined Christians were peaceable folks following that peacenik Jesus was much deluded.

"Real Christians don't bother people with prosthetics and Bible thumping," Martini said.

"Ah yes, the Missionaries and their prosthetics," Pahrump said. "And the Nicene steeds galloping across the pampas of South America."

"The what?" Martini said.

"Surely you have heard of the Nicene Steed?" Pahrump said.

"No I haven't," Martini said, "And I been a Catholic since the age of six at least."

"That's monstrance," Pahrump said. "Simply monstrance."

"You are making fun of me," Martini said. "And I will not have it."

"If you will not have it then go outside," Pahrump said. "Go in peace and sin like a boar."

Martini left in a huff for the Old Same Place Bar.

"There is clergy and there is levity," Pahrump said. "I much prefer the levity."

One would think all the followers of the Sons of Abraham would be of like mind, sympathetic to one another, but no, that is not how it plays out. Catholics still toss roof slates on heads of Protestant neighbors and Protestants force the likes of George Bush into power, so go figure who is worse or sillier. When it gets like that, can you really blame the Moslems for chopping heads off right and left so it makes no sense?

In the Old Same Place Bar Maeve came in right after putting her third husband under the ground and the girl needed a drink bad while Martini sat there muttering about Oliver Cromwell and Huguenots to a patient Padraic.

Someone wanted to know what kind of legacy Maeve's husband had left behind, and lord, she let it all out that there was nothing other than a pair of shoes and an old jalopy that did not run. No one from the insurance agency of Doohe, Diddit, and Taikall remembered the fellow even after forty years of service there.

Legacy? Maeve said. Who cares about that? What matters is right now. Robert had been the only insurance adjuster I ever met who loved scuba diving, fishing for abalone, sitting in to play guitar with members of Carlos Santana's band, and hella fun in the sack, but he is gone now. Who wants to get married next? I am on to Number Four . . .!

Get laid often and drink when you can't.

What matters, as it comes out, is how it all adds up in the end, the sum total of it all. Somebody asked Snuffles what he thought about it, and the old bum said, "Nobody gives a rat's ass and what is remembered is unimportant to anyone six feet under. Get laid often and drink when you can't. Let the Catholics and Huguenots sort it out."

"What's a Huguenot?" asked the Man from Minot.

Meanwhile, Suzie bent over her anthropology text. These divisions and distractions of human endeavor did not interest her.

"The Bonobo express delight at every opportunity on encountering their own kind in the rain forest. It is thought that the harsh conditions encourage tribal cooperation and a certain joi de vivre lacking in our modern society hidebound by religious strictures ...".

From far across the water, the long howl of the the throughpassing train ululated across the waves of the estuary and the grasses of the Buena Vista flats as the locomotive glided past the dark and 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.


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