Island Life: June - December



Vol. 15 Weekly News, Reviews, Music and Satire Sunday 2013

dasboot.gifWelcome to the second half of year 2013. The year's content is split into two parts to allow easier page loading for slower browsers. Each year tends to approach the equivalent of 380 typewritten pages.

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




DECEMBER 29, 2013


For the final images of 2013 we leave you folks with this somewhat wistful fellow standing all by himself on a postage-stamp lawn here on the island, wishing everyone a happier and better new year.


Its been a slow news week with the kids out of school, all the public employees attending holiday functions instead of screwing us up some more. and loads upon loads of retrospectives. The Planning Board did sit down to talk about plans for the 22 acre Jean Sweeny Open Space Park. Most worrisome comment made was by PB President David Burton who said, "This is a gigantic parcel of land and there is a wide variety of things that could happen here."

Well you know you all could just leave it alone. But no. Something will just have to be constructed.

In other news fellow blogger Lauren Do made some ascerbic comments about Tony Dasog heavily using Twitter during a City Council Meeting. Ms. Do found it kind of wierd that a councilperson would do that during a meeting, indicating that probably paying attention would be a better use of the paid public employee's time. Interestingly Daysog responded in a manner that clearly missed every salient point made by blogger Do in classic politico fashion by recognizing an issue and then addressing a number of points which had nothing to do with it, inexplicably citing the Sunshine Ordinance before dismissing it as irrelevant.

It is clear why comedy clubs do not fare well in this down - as Mr. Daysog indicated, attendance to any council meeting is free and available to all.

In the police blotter we note a whopping 10 persons 5150'ed, or "detained for psychiatric observation", which usually means being sent to John George for 72 hour hold. Five of those were reported on Friday alone.

As expected we see a plethora of burglaries and grand theft and the usual raft of public drunks. Two cases of dog and cat bites apiece. Could be worse.

Nice pics of the defunct Neptune Beach in its heyday on pages 2 and 3 of the Sun, BTW.

New Year's means that this will be another broken week for some people getting a day off Wednesday only to return to Scrooge and Marley for the painful days after.

New Year's also means a return to the Avoid the 21 cash incentive program -- excuse me, we mean the concentrated law enforcement initiative -- to snag drunk drivers. On the Island virtually every restaurant and venue is doing something, including the gala at the Hornet. Josh Kornbluth will be gracing Rhythmix this year in stiff competition to Silly Hall.

Our readership as shrunk so we cannot afford to lose any of you; so do not drink and drive. We want to hear from you in the New Yeark.


So anyway we come now to the final days of the year 2013, which has seen such political acrimony and hardball style that the Commonweal got injured in all the fracas. The Body Politic had taken significant beatings before this, and the Constitution stands now in need of a few stitches and some transfusion to replace all the blood loss. The Nation shall survive, but rehab shall likely be a slow and painful process. Fortunately now is the case that no one can be denied health care because of a previous condition.

With the schools closed Ms. Morales (now Mrs. Sanchez) has been spending her time the way most schoolteachers do on their days off - writing up new lesson plans, mending torn textbook covers, purchasing supplies the District fails to provide, and catching up with former pupils of hers at Longfellow and Encinal.

She has seen a number of generations come and go, from Edison (Go Otters!) to Longfellow and the Home of the Jets high school ("When you're a Jet, You're a Jet all the way") so there is a fair amount of catching up to do. The troubled Karen has managed to stay in college after finding a group of goth kids just like her, and so one potential human arc remained on her trajectory up and out of the small town corrosion that nearly destroyed her.

Some others -- not so lucky. As a teacher you can never take full credit for the failures or the successes - you do your best to be there for them. Her friend Sharon, the Crisis Nurse Practitioner at the Creek Psychiatric Crisis Center sometimes would burst into tears on the phone, saying, "I lost him! I lost him" about some casualty of the 8.5 million metropolis that embraced, sometimes roughly, the tiny little Island city. But then she worked over in Oaktown, where life is a waiting game for many.

Because the Island has no real mental health services she saw many neighbors on the brink drop in there.

"I hate this place!" Sharon says angrily. "Why did they not case manage him when I asked? I should move away tomorrow!"

"Well, you would like St. Paul," said Ms. Morales, who had visited only one other place in the United States other than the Bay Area since coming to this country from the Phillipines.

"O heck no. Too cold in the winter! I would rather go south. San Luis Obispo maybe."

"We would miss you," Ms. Morales said. She knew that Sharon would never move. The sick little island, as she called it, needed her too much.

On the streets of the island, Officer O'Madhauen prowled in his cruiser, looking for the stray crosswalk scofflaw, the speeder, the stoplight shuffler. There had been a rash of burglaries on the Island, but sooner or latter, they'll run a red light and then! He'll have 'em!

In the Almeida household, Pedro is enjoying a couple days off from hauling crab, puttering about the house, repairing the chicken coop, resealing the toilets, and fixing the wretched wiring by running number 10 ground wire down and out to the rod, trying to undo years of lousy two-wire knob and tube that reversed polarity about as often as regulars to one of those fancy dives where the men dress as women.

In other matters he got underfoot and in the way of Mrs. Almeida who was heartily glad the Hollardays were coming soon to an end before she could get pregnant again.

At Marlene and Andre's household on Shoreline, all sixteen souls who called that place home due to the obscene rental situation had been living cheek by jowel during the cold snap when normally the pressure would have eased by folks sleeping on the beach or at the Shelter. As the night extended itself langorously with a purring stretch, the ragged and battered Xmas tree glimmered in its washtub. Deep into the night, as snores and sleeping rustles filled the cottage, a small marsupial snout emerged from the hole in its trunk, followed by a bulbous form that lumbered quietly across the bodies wrapped in sleeping bags, over the coffee table that housed Occasional Quentin and prowled along the floorboards looking for an escape from the madness without success. The opossum sat and wept quietly when no egress was to be found, before it grabbed a macaroon someone had hung from the tree and there sat on its haunches to eat it as a sliver of moon watched through the window.

The animal then crawled back into the washtub and into its hole and curled up there to sleep with the others of that dysfunctional family household.

In the Old Same Place, Padriac and Dawn and Suzie handled the Hollarday business efficiently and with success while Denby plunked on his guitar in the corner. Suzie observed the rituals, the lines, the dances and the happy unifications that departed the bar entangled arm in arm with equanimity before opening late into the evening her anthropology text. "The Bonobo forgo the tedious courtship rituals found in other tribal groups, preferring to simply state the preference or offer, which is usually accepted with alacrity as they enjoy mating at any time of day and any season for procreation or simply for the sheer joy . . .".

As for Suzie, the jewel yet undiscovered, the Hollardays consisted of visits with friends and a single, small, roasted turkey. Per Island Life tradition.

An expletive broke into her thoughts as the door opened to let out a happy couple. The expletive came from a blonde with crooked lipstick at the bar, who said, "Lost him! Nearly had that guy and then that Valerie! Such a bitch! Gimmee a gimlet."

"Life's tough, girlfriend," Suzie said as she liberally overpoured and delivered the drink.

"Thanks pal."

Down by the Estuary near the Park Street bridge abutment Wootie's tame moose herd snuffled and shifted in the darkness. Eunice the moose, for once remained quiet, but deep within her she dreamed of the perfect escape, running through forests in the far north, far distant from these trammels and imagining the cries of dismay from Wootie Kanootie: "Lost her! I've Lost her!".

Eugene Gallipagus tosses in his own dreams in his bed. Of the time the Great Golden Trout appeared to him at Lake Martha. And his great dispair as the line parted with a snap. The big one that got away. Lost him.

Father Danyluk paced in his chambers before going over for the traditional annual nightcap he enjoyed with Pastor Nyquist who seems genuinely happy as Sister Profundity lets the Lutheran into the rectory annex where the fireplace is already burning bright.

It has been the habit of the two friends to have this forbidden meeting each year. As Pastor Nyquist put it, "You and I we have made our seperate peace."

Indeed the Lutheran pastor enjoyed the high quality of spirits kept by the Catholic priest in the larder and the Catholic priest had long enjoyed the superior singing skills of the Lutheran congregation as loaners during the Xmas pageant and Easter.

"You look troubled," the Lutheran said.

"Ah. The Mendoza family would not hear of any help and now Jorge has gone off to San Quentin on assault with a deadly weapon. On top of the robbery charge."

"I heard about that one," Nyquist said.

"Afraid I've lost him," said the priest.

"Can't save everyone," the Lutheran said, inviting a distracting evening of debate.

And as per usual, the social evening ended the same way each year. Both men asleep in their armchairs before the fire.

The Editor bid everyone a good night and a happy new year as the place closed up for the final issue of the year. The Editor stood before the window watching the granddaddy racoon run back and forth in the yard, cigar firmly in place, hands clasped behind his back like Admiral Horatio.

He never knew exactly how to wrap things up. Everything, including Life, seemed always so tentative, subject to last minute revisions. A lot of issues last year had turned out wretchedly bad. But cannot dwell on that. The past year had been packed with many, many disappointments. Old friends had died and others had gotten married. Many things had not gone well. An old friend had come to him complaining about all the evil in the world, all the assholes. She, an otherwise pacific person, said she wanted to line them all up against a wall when the spirit moved her. See them fall.

And for some reason he thought about the replicant in Bladerunner who tried to prolong his life, such as it was, by driving a nail through his palm so as to prevent the hand from closing into a fist.

What kind of poetry is that, to imagine that death is the hand closing into a fist?

And yet as the replicant died and the fist closed, a dove escaped from his other hand. So that is the way it is -- one hand closes into a fist and becomes death; the other opens and becomes human, allows life to continue. That's always the way it is -- can't take credit for the wins or bemoan the losses. Life is tough, girlfriend. Life is being there at all.

In a little while, bottlerockets, fizzlers, M80's and all sorts of ruckus would terrify all the neighborhood dogs in bringing in the New Year. Might as well get ready for whatever comes next.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

DECEMBER 22, 2013


This time of year sees the rare opening of the clenched fist in charity. Here is a shot of the County Stone Soup drive installation in front of the basement ROV windows in the corridor that links the parking garage and the Courthouse.


Anyone wandering down Park Street will notice a new storefront tenant in the form of Delauer's newsstand. The original Delauers remains on Broadway in Oaktown, where they have been serving the news to East Bay folk since 1907 through two world wars, Korea and Vietnam. They are a welcome presence here on the Island and certainly encapsulate the sense of history required. The Island edition has been up and running now about three months.

That scamp who has been robbing the weekly paper kiosks is back with a vengeance, swiping virtually every paper from downtown within a matter of hours. Witnesses report a well-dressed man driving a clean white automobile. The distribution desk at EBX says this sort of thing happens periodically for various reasons and that even though it is a crime, stealing papers from the kiosks tends to be low priority with the police. Perhaps because traffic infractions seldom take place during the theft. The license plate has been recorded and given to authorities. Perhaps the jerkoff can be nailed for double-parking?

One retail manager is reporting that sales this holiday season have been flat. reports overall national sales up a Scrooglike 2.5%, with most shops hoping for a series of late runs before the Big Day. Other reporting entities were even more pessimistic. "Purchases at stores and websites fell 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion during the four days beginning with the Nov. 28 Thanksgiving holiday, according to a survey commissioned by the National Retail Federation. While 141 million people shopped, about 2 million more than last year, the average consumer’s spending dropped 3.9 percent to $407.02, the survey showed."

Analysts generally blame the fact that disposable incomes have inched up a scant 1% or less, which number supports the observation that affluent folks are riding high on stock market surges while middle income America has seen nothing of any sort of "Recovery" from the dismal slide that began furtively in year 2000 and hit a precipitous drop in 2005, causing the Great Recession.

According to Businessweek, "More people shopped this year than in 2012, but it looks like they spent less."

Almost everyone is saying that is this the fourth straight year of spending pullback, with some blaming "mission buying" for the numbers. Mission buying is when the shopper goes out to buy one targetted object and does not engage in "impulse buys."

You might not know the name of Harold Camping but you sure have seen sign of his Family Radio Network, which earned world-wide notoriety by failing to predict the Apocalypse in the form of The Rapture twice, which was announced over the radio and by means of thousands of billboards posted around the country. Campion lived here on the Island on Gibbons Drive until his death at age 92 last Sunday.

Now if only Fred Phelps would kindly kick the bucket we would all maybe live in peace for a while.

As the old year winds down we are still seeing a table-tennis match of accusations over the Animal Shelter, in which the FAAS looks to be marshalling responses that praise the shelter's efforts while critics slam the shelter for excessive euthanasia and some kind of management beef that seems to point at quixotic and cavalier treatment of staff -- not exactly a surprise in the non-profit world where bad managers collect like bilge water detritus in agencies that can scarely afford to hire and retain the best and brightest. It may be said that the well-run, well-managed non-profit (look at the Food Bank!) tend to be as rare as food oyster pearls and the real measure of an entity is if the basic work gets done despite the internal hindrances.

We checked into an expert for animal control at shelters and the feeling from the expert is that "no kill" shelters are bad for the animals and bad for society, so perhaps some of the criticism needs to be quantified at this point. There does seem to be a problem, but let the FAAS address this without apologias that resemble high school popularity votes.

AUSD, which seems to always be hurting financially these days, wants to float a bond to pay for infrastructure improvements and maintenance. Well if some of that goes to fixing up the old high school for repopulation and removal of its "Berlin Wall" against the continued use of the hideous "modern" buildings behind it, we are all for it. The old school has so much more character than those Berlin "housing development" structures we cannot begin to say. Right now it is just a shell, but dammit, the old school has soul whereas the newer buildings have none.

Finally we note with interest Harbor Bay Realty's revision of plans for the property now occupied by the Harbot Bay Athletic Club. Instead of a bunch of homes that would jack population density and increase traffic, Ron Cowan's group now proposes building a hotel, nevermind that the property is not yet transferred for any reason and nevermind that the entire project is based on the premise that HBR is somehow "owed" property space. And nevermind that maybe some people just do not want any more development of any kind, period.

You talk to any genuine "old timers" here and you will encounter quite a bit of acrimonious feelings about Ron Cowan and the first development he authored in 1978 that created more than 3,000 luxury homes and a business park, all of which made him quite a rich man. It looks from this perspective that his group is facing an uphill battle for anything they propose, no matter how salubrious. It is pretty obvious there is some bad blood in this.


On the longest night of the year, at the tail end of the shortest day of the year, on the occasion of the Midwinter Solstice Island-Life took part in the annual tradition of the Christmas Revels at the venerable Oakland Scottish Rite Theatre.

The Xmas Revels began some 27 years ago as a combo theatre/improve/audience participation ceremony to mark the passing of the year, the midwinter solstice and, of course, Xmas.

Briefly, the "plot" of the event is the arrival in 1929 of the 9th Duke of Rutland to his ancestral Haddon Hall castle, which is slated for economic reasons to be demolished on the following day to make way for a freeway connector. The Duke, a thoroughly "modern" pragmatic man, is suddenly surrounded by hundreds of people dressed in period garb ranging from the late Middle Ages to the late 1700's, most of who claim to be prior Dukes of Rutland and Earls of Haddon. These spirits enage in an all-night annually traditional revelry of song and dance, including members of the "present day" Duke's family and audience members, the substance of which forms the night's performance/event.

At one point cast members enter the "pit" and engage all ambulatory members into a snaking dance with hands held high throughout the balconies, the lodge and the orchestra seats.

We found the event to be engaging, magical, and consisting thoroughly of what good theatre should be: spectacle, resolution, catharsis, grand moments, sparkling talent, and delightful transports of emotion. We cannot say enough about how wonderful the experience was and hope to see all of you there next year.

Needless to say, as the Present Day enters with a loud knocking and chatter on a cell phone, Haddon Hall is saved and the spirits abide to revel another year.

Directed flawlessly by David Parr with Fred Goff as Music Director and Associate Music Director Shira Kammen, who also performed on stage the fiddle. Callie Floor produced the sumptuous period costumes with Costume Crafts Artisan Jocelyn Herndon and Wardrobe Supervisor Emily West.

Bill Batty choreographed the Morris dance team brought over from merry old England while Jeri Reed choreographed well over one hundred people on a packed proscenium. Jeff Raz entranced the crowd with his whimsical Roger Japes, the fool.

Robert Sicular presented an appropriately stuffy, conservative 9th Duke of Rutland while James Galileo delighted as the doddering 1st Earl. In fact the entire cast deserves commendation. We will be sure to include everyone for the portfolio PDF review.

There is, in fact, a real Haddon Hall in Rutland which was periled during the 1920's, just as this storied one was, and which was saved in the nth hour by the 9th Duke for reasons we do not know. By doing so, that Duke granted the succeeding generations a great gift of ancestral heritage. And to all of us the satisfying sense of an eternal continuance of a tradition.

There is, in fact, a real Haddon Hall in Rutland which was periled during the 1920's, just as this storied one was, and which was saved in the nth hour by the 9th Duke for reasons we do not know. By doing so, that Duke granted the succeeding generations a great gift of ancestral heritage. And to all of us the sense of an eternal continuance.


So anyway. The longest night of the year arrived at the end of the shortest day. Now is the time of long shadows extending over the chill road. Bare tree bones scratch at the pale sky until evening comes on with spectacular plumes of cloud painting vivid golds and incarnadine stripes from horizon to horizon. Bundled overcoats and boots clamber awkwardly from automobiles as friends come a-calling, bearing small packages. The yellow school busses make their last rounds of the year to park for a while in the yard, collecting rime and icicles, looking for all the world behind the chain link fences like prehistoric artifacts, strange dumb animals out of the Ice Age patiently waiting for an archeologist.

The kids scamper from basketball courts, happy in youth to be wearing t-shirts and shorts, blissfully unaware of the pneumonias and influenzas yet to come with middle age. Silent trees glitter with orniments and lights through foggy windows.

Breath puffs out in clouds from the mouths of Jose, Martini, Javier, Tipitina, and Pahrump as the gang returns from their tree-hunting expedition with their Flexible Flyer wagon loaded with a discard of some battered repute, a gift fallen off the truck. Or so some say. In any case the crew takes a small street parallel to Grand, jogs left to get over the bridge crossing the lagoon and then hurries down a side way as Tipitina follows behind to pick up the trail of needles and branches shed along the way.

Finally the joyful crew arrives at the house where Andre and Marlene have prepared the old washtub with a cinderblock to be the stand. When it arrives and gets erected with more dramatic effort than seen when the Marines raised the flag on Iwo Jima's summit, they all plotz to stare up at the most miserable, deplorable, raggedy-ass assembly of sticks and piney hideousness ever displayed. One third of a side was bare of needles, branches appeared to have been grafted on from another species of fir, and spiders had made many homes near the summit. Perhaps to escape the place where some animal had carved out a home in the overly thick trunk. Andre went at it with a can of insecticide and several writhing forms fell to the floor to painfully die, while fragments of a vine managed to fill out much of the upper portion and conceal the crooked ascendancy of the center.

"I hope you guys didn't pay much for that thing." Suan commented.

They carried it out to the porch where a can of bug killer and the garden hose managed to rid the thing of most of its animal residents and a third more of its needles. Brought back inside, and placed in the tub, the tree resembled more a skeletal frame for a conceptual art piece or a bridge truss than a holiday decoration.

"Man, that tree sure be ugly," little Adam said.

"Well," said Martini, "It's sorta like us. Cast off and somewhat worse for all the abuse, but still with promise."

Marlene hung a small figure of Saint Blither of Inane near the top. "I think it fits right in. A bit of tinsel and he'll be fine."

So the gang all pitched in with what they had: tinsel made of torn aluminum foil out of the dumpster, stars made of beercan tabs, condom packets, dollar store laser pointers jerry-rigged by Martini, paper-punch confetti "snow", metal spirals cut from cans that had once held 8 hour energy drinks, spray-painted balls of scrap paper, and bunting from the Voter Registration Drive booth. As well as whatever else could be found of any sort of shiny quality.

By the time they had substantially finished, the sad little tree did not look so half bad with a quilt that had been fetched from the UCB dumpsters covering the washtub.

At the end of day Lionel closed up the Pampered Pup and walked with a calculated air of unconcern and aimlessness down Park Street -- nearly getting nailed in front of the Slut Hut Coffee Shop when he failed to pay attention to the light change, causing some turbulence and a stream of imprecations about family ancestry to float on the holiday air between the notes of "Joy to the World" drifting from the doorway of Bjorn's A Touch of Wonder massage parlor.

He paused at the entrance to Mervin's Merkins before stepping inside to emerge later with a small gift-wrapped box. At length he found himself, almost by accident at the window to Jaqueline's Salon where Jackie and Maeve were sweeping up the day's tresses. Maeve noticed Lionel standing there, shifting from one foot to the other and nudged Jackie who looked up, saw who it was, and then bent down again with a half-smile on her lips.

So it was up to Maeve to go to the door and let the hesitant Lionel into the shop with its banks of hairdryers and gleaming seats and arrays of multicolored potions for hair and nails. Mrs. Blather and Mrs. Cribbage sat next to one another in the final stages of hair curling, purling and tinting beneath the buzzing beehive helmets.

"Well who should it be now but our friend Lionel come to wish a merry Xmas. Or perhaps neaten up that do a bit with a snip here and there and maybe a bit of mousse beside. Come for business or whats your pleasure, Lionel," Maeve said. She was such a one that if two words sufficed, invariably employed six or twelve more.

"Uh . . . happy . . . uh holidays. Jackie."

"O now, I see I am maybe a bit in the way." Maeve said. She did a brief curtsey and said, "I think I'll have a look at the loo. See what I can do with the mirror and a spot of powder to see what I can do to get a gentleman to wish me a merry. Ta ta Lionel!"

An awkward pause stretched itself like a dog before dropping heavily down between the two people. The dryers hummed. "Well now," Jackie said.

"Ah, there's the Native Son's Holiday Bash, you know," Lionel said.

"I know that," Jackie said.

Another pause enjoyed another stretch. The dryers continued to hum.

"Have any plans?" Lionel said.

"Plans? O I think I'd like to retire in Cabo San Lucas some day," Jackie said. "Ah! But if you are meanin' the Native Son's annual bash, well no. I haven't a date."

Eventually Lionel got around to asking the question and Jackie accepted and Lionel got all flustered until Jackie asked what was that in his hands there. Looks like a present.

"O now I am not so sure," Lionel said.

"For me? Why thank you Lionel!" Jackie said, taking the small box from Mervin's.

That's when Maeve came rushing back and it was all too late now and she got them to go with her across the street to Juanitas for dinner simply by means of force of personality.

Over at the Old Same Place Padraic wore a fake beard over a red shirt and trousers with black Wellies for boots so as to somewhat resemble St. Nick while the girls had been got up in elf outfits. Naturally the outfit for Suzi featured a microskirt which scandalized Dawn to such an extent she made the girl put on hotpants underneath, much to the disappointment of Padraic.

"And you are supposed to be the Father Xmas, I suppose, Old Schmidt said to Padraic.

"Right." Padraic responded.

" I sink you look more like the Knecht Rupecht or Krampus, Mister Poorrrrrruck."

Suzie laughed.

Out on the chill high seas, Pedro Almeida piloted his boat on the last crab run of the year, his trusty labrador, Tugboat beside him and a hired helper named Fiodor to assist hauling up the pots by way of the old hand-cranked crane, and as they worked they sang the old songs, each in their own language; Pedro in Portuguese and Fiodor in Russian. And because Someone somewhere has a special love for fishermen the swells were calm on this longest night of the year.

And on the longest night the Editor paced the length of the silent offices as the penultimate issue was put to bed and all the slippery galleys laid into the box. The machine blinked with a message, probably from Sharon, who was wondering when he would be coming home after work. There in the largely darkened place lit by screensavers and LED glow, the Editor relit his cigar before the window to see the Old Racoon who had escaped being captured during this year's early brough-haha turn on the motion sensor light in the back as he ambled across the broken lawn from the woodpile to the leaning pine, unceremoniously clambering over the stacked pile of windsurfing paraphernalia at its base. The Longest Night is not so bad for crepuscular creatures who enjoy the darkness.

And like those creatures, the Editor enjoyed this time when all the world was calm and silent.

The racoon and his family had been here for ages before the Editor and all the invaders from the East and he and his family would abide long after their passing. He was a scamp who got into the trash and made merry with the back stoop cat food left out for Mr. Smithers and Lunita, often creeping through catdoors to raid people's pantries. Yet, something about him pleased the Editor and he felt secretly glad the old guy had outlasted every effort to eradicate him and his family. So the Editor poured and raised a glass to the animal out there Old Schmidt called Der Waschbaer, because of his fastidious habits of cleanliness.

Here's to you old fellow. Like you, I have been left for dead before, but still fight on. Don't wait up, leave the light on. I'll be home soon.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to peaceful parts unknown.

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


DECEMBER 15, 2013


This week's headline photo is from the end of the annual City Hall treelighting ceremony.

Just goes to show you that a giving spirit goes further to getting the girls than being young and slender. . . .


The weather has turned quite a bit chilly in the final days of the year, just as predicted by the Farmer's Almanac. Even sunny San Diego has been reporting frost warnings with days starting up hovering around 44 degrees.

Now that this weather has settled in, people are plugging in all sorts of heaters all over the Island to take the edge off of the cold. They also are setting small fires -- not for warm but by accident -- by stressing those old knob and tube two-wire cloth-insulated systems in old houses, many of which have developed reverse polarity over the years of tinkering on various circuits. This kind of dangerous situation can turn a cold ground into a "hot rod".

Now is the time for property owners to have a good hard look at those aging subpanels and faulty sockets where some sub-genius has swapped out dipole plugs for dangerously ungrounded three hole sockets. Knob and tube used to work well enough -- sort of like Harley brakes -- back in the day when houses were built with just two breakers. Nowadays owners are looking at 30 amp pairs just for the appliances and 20 amp singles for separate circuits for overhead lighting, for kitchen outlets independent of the fridge, for room plug-in sockets, adding up to over eight circuits for just a single family dwelling.

The indoor panels cost barely $20 for a 100 amp unit. The breakers go for $5 each at Home Depot. The big cost is hourly rates for a licensed electrical contractor who will match up the appropriate wire gauges to the breakers. Electricity is no place to be penny-wise and pound foolish.

With the Hollardays advancing upon all of us like a juggernaut fueled by brandy alexanders, a quick look around for NYE gigs and Xmas reveals . . . meh. There are the usual suspects rolling into the area, as in local boy Les Claypool with his Frog Brigade outfit, however this time around the newly repackaged Primus will be doing the venerable Fox in Oaktown.

Yoshi's in Oaktown will have R&B singer Bobby Caldwell doin' the croon, while the other side of the Bay will feature The California Honeydrops.

Bill Graham Civic in Babylon will be hosting a sort of thematic extravaganza with the more interesting band to be Thievery Corporation, a group that sometimes features David Byrne. The rest of it will be techno house, disco and rave.

GAMH will feature a raucous bill featuring the Melvins and Frightwig. Old folks better bring earplugs for that one.

Slims will have The Brothers Comatose with The Sam Chase.

The Warfield is promoting its NYE with a bit of class in its emergency orange brochure that presents a man expelling dinner and everything else under the title NOFX NEW YEAR'S HEAVE. NOFX is an LA punk band that originated in 1983. These are the guys who put together the Rock against Bush CD collections.

Calexico under the purple chandeliers of the Fillmore seem the best bet for 12/31. Their musical style is influenced by traditional Latin sounds of mariachi / conjunto / cumbia / Tejano music and also the Southwestern United States country music as well as '50s-'60s jazz. They also do a killer cover version of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart", so expect the unusual.

To get something a tad familiar and with some bluesy style you will have to hike out to Livermore's Bankhead theater to catch New Year’s Eve with Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings.

Here on the Island, there are likely to be tiny events here and there, with most folks staying at home or venturing out to some open space to see all the fireworks blast off up and down the estuary from the marinas and shoreline road shoulders.


So anyway, the Farmer's Almanac prophesied a cold, bitter winter, but none of the digital wonks in Sunnyvale or Apple pay much attention to that. Now we see ice and storm from the coast all the way to Boston and hereabouts temps hovering at the frost line.

It is California, and some people believe it should not be that way here ever, despite the DeAnza reports of the soldiers having to smash the creekbanks with their spearbutts so the horses could drink through the broken ice near Monterey.

The cold around here tends to surprise folks who come from far colder places, as if they expected that by changing location and undergoing some minor inconveniences they had paid sufficient dues to be let off discomfort in the course of things. This an island, of course, so the cold will be accompanied by a fair amount of humidity, which makes for sniffles and flu.

People grumble and complain, but there is so much about which to complain that this sort of noise tends to get lost in the vast melting pot of regional dissatisfaction and disappointment. One could own a ridgetop house with a swimming-pool and parking garage and still people will find reason to bitch and moan.

That is one reason why Midwesterners are valued at holiday parties. We Californios have endured massive firestorms, earthquakes, vigilante committees, astounding wholesale destruction of our environmental habitat, wretched corruption and railroad octopus up the whazoo, so we really do not abide minor complaint very well.

This is the season when all the companies hold holiday parties, apparently to foster the old sentiment -- even if only briefly -- we are all in this together. Ever since 2000 the parties have shrunk in scope and ambition, becoming smaller with fewer invitees each year since that time.

Now, since the Economy is in Recovery ever since 2005, one would expect a bit more largesse among those happy, well-fed companies that now enjoy such a surfeit of gross profit.

We have just a bare week and a half until Xmas, a day that is important to more than a few people. The fenced lot at Luckys and outside Safeway have been set up as usual with their stock of firs and conifers and the noble larch, while Lucky's has yet to truck in its supply from the snowy Sierra.

The low white picket fences are draped with electric candy canes and inflatable snowmen bob in the yard breezes all down Santa Clara Avenue. Thompson Avenue is once again ablaze with lighting installations of angels and sleighs.

What's hot on the presents list? iPod accessories, as in solar chargers, automobile handsfree bracket mounts, designer cases, even the devices themselves. Then there are the iPads, iPods, and iSnickerdoodles that light up your cat like an Xmas tree and scare the dog.

There is not much warm and fuzzy out there; even the obnoxious Tickle-me-Elmo and the hideous Cabbage Patch Dolls have disappeared. Maybe because the Japanese and the Chinese don't do warm and fuzzy well. Obnoxious and hideous certainly have not gone out of style. Just look at George Bush's paintings.

On second thought, please spare us.

Back in the day kids got gifts like power tools and sheet metal for the older ones and Legos or plastic log cabin parts for the younger set. A boy might get a model airplane kit and some polyurethane glue, while a girl would get a box of parts to make a dollhouse. It was always "Some assembly required", because back in the day, even with an outright gift you still had to work for it. Your dad didn't go out and bring, like they do today, a fully assembled bicycle with the Huffy tires and the banana seat; you had to indicate ardent desire by pooling the paper route and lawn mowing money over many painstaking months so that you could pay for half of the thing which came in a cardboard box -- Some Assembly Required.

That was a time when everything, just everything was all about learning something about worth. Even punishment involved work. You got punished you got sent out there in the yard to cut down a branch and whittle it until it was smooth enough to be presented for inspection. Not thick enough? Go back out there, son, and cut me another. Whack!

Back then mothers didn't pour mixes into a dish and just pop it into the microwave. To serve a store-bought pie was considered an insult, a sign of poor organization skills or an upbringing inside an orphanage or a Convent for Fallen Women. You wanted a pie, the mothers all used raw flour, eggs, milk, and spices. Filling was from what you had jarred yourself. Eugene's mother could not cook worth beans. In fact, she could not cook beans or even an egg sunny side up very well. As for vegetables, Mrs. Gallipagus maintained an approach typical for the English - boil it until you are sure it is safe, no matter what it happens to be. Which is hard to imagine, but explains why the boy always buys Mrs. Callenders and eats out of cans. Bar-B-Que features heavily in his diet. Pan-fried fish in the summer. With a side of canned beans.

The Hollardays represent one of the few times in the year the tall, gaunt Eugene manages to get a fresh meal, for this is a time customary for house visits to friends, especially bachelor friends. Recently Eugene got invited up to Marin to the Alguacil family whom he had known for many years. They had also invited their friend from Finland, Heidi, who had been divorced for what Marybeth Beatrice both felt was long enough. Heidi worked with textiles and was an avid musicologist and could play the flute. Heidi started the conversation by asking Eugene, "So what do you do?"

"I like to hunt and I like to fish."

"Okay. . . what kind of fish?"

"I like Goldens. And Rainbows." Eugene said.

"They sound like they would be very beautiful!" Heidi said.

"Yeah, they look real purty. Until you guts them and the colors all seem to run out."

"I see."

"You know California trout are the smartest trout in the world. I'll bet the trout in Finland aren't half as smart." Eugene said.

"Greg, what time are you thinking of leaving . . ."? Heidi said.

It seemed Eugene would remain a bachelor for the long distant future, for he had never learned the essential lesson about men and women: Some Assembly Required.

Mr. Terse was in the Old Same Place Bar recently, taking a break from his surveillance of the Greek Orthodox Church where the whistleblowing, secrets-leaking Joshua had taken refuge from the CIA, FBI, TSA and NSA all because he had blown the lid on the clandestine wiretapping of the toilets belonging to the Mayor of Albany, Newark and San Leandro. The news story had outraged the Mayors of Richmond and Piedmont, who felt that omitting them from wiretapping indicated some kind of snobbery, as if their little towns were not important enough.

In any case, Joshua had holed up in that cold chapel for some months. Fortunately, there existed secret underground passageways between the chapel and huge grottos delved by the Latter Day Saints and these places were kept warm by means of geothermal activity channeled by the Sons of Moroni. It would be a dark and furtive Xmas for the man on the run, but sometimes Life plays its hand that way.

So anyway Terse was taking his break with a Gaelic Coffee, so called by Padriac because in his view no decent Irishman would ever confabulate decent whisky, the Water of Life, with base ingredients. That was when the talk came around to world news, as it often did in that place and someone commented about Nelson Mandela recently passing away.

"O that bad old Communist," said the Tea Party Mr. Terse.

All the bar went silent for embarrassment, for although open to all, the general tendency around these parts is more to the kinder and reasonable side of the Center.

Padraic put both his hands on the bar with his elbows pointing outward. "I don't give an effing rats ass if he was a Communist or a Socialist or any such kind of thing, because it does not matter! So what if he was! The truth is the man was a Statesman, a pioneer for justice and liberty, a point man for freedom in his country for which he suffered a great deal, including imprisonment, and he had a main hand in bringing down one of the most detestable systems -- known as Apart-hate -- this world has ever seen and it is for that he will be remembered. What then, are your puny accomplishments in comparison to his? Nothing!"

"Well," said Mr. Terse. "If the Socialist push through their agenda, you will see your precious freedoms fly out the door!"

"Not if the People have anything to say about it," Dawn said. "We won't have some small bloc of extremists nattering at us with their impositions."

"Whatever do you mean by that," Mr. Terse said, intending to come back with a more forceful rejoinder, but he was interrupted by Suzie.

"I think,"Suzie said. "We mean that by Freedom, some Assembly required."

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the blowing waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the amber grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided freely past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off beneath the endless skyway to the purple mountain's majesty, from California to the New York island; from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters and other parts unknown. Nobody living can ever make it turn back

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

DECEMBER 8, 2013


This week's photo was taken by associate artist CB Harris down near her home in Atascadero and features a creature more vilified in legend than appreciated.

Life can get wild, but wildlife is always beautiful when you are not on the menu.


In a move that is bound to raise eyebrows Don Perata has been hired to represent the Island in Sacto. Former state Senator Perata was known for a cigar-chomping smoky backroom style of bluster and insider deals, the aroma of which cost him the Oakland mayorship against Jean Quan, so it is interesting the Silly Council unanimously chose him to go for the dollars as a lobbyist in what feels like an understanding that if the job is dirty, then get a dirty fellow to get it done.

There is so much scuttlebutt on this we have not the time right now to wade through it again, but it just may be that someone had a stroke of genius in this action, for it puts the man in a place where he supposedly cannot do harm and can use his savage skills to get some gold in the coffers here. We will see what happens.

In the Letters to the Editor we always can mine some gems. Someone called the stone bench "Friends" sculpture damaged by the falling tree an "eyesore" a bit quickly a scant week after the tree had been removed. Patience, my friends. Patience.

In another letter someone called attention to Attorney General Kamela Harris' comments about the strange rezoning down along McKay Avenue. Harris noted that public land should be retained and administered by public entities, not summarily turned over to private interests, and hinted that the Attorney General may step in to police the matter of land that had been originally designated as Park property.

As a refresher, federal property, which had been understood to eventually turn over to East Bay Parks and Rec, got suddenly and mysteriously rezoned as residential in a backroom deal, then sold at auction to a developer. This property, hard by the Crab Cove park, has a narrow unimproved lane serving it for access, which creates in itself all sorts of interesting scenarios as to who will pay for improvements. The unsuspecting developer looks to be stuck with a once promising parcel that is surely developing into a major headache fraught with lawsuits and a full-bore internecine battle between two public entities over what happens there. Now steps in the Attny General to make peace.

Well now, does good prevail once in a while?


We renewed a decades-old family tradition here in going out to the annual LIVE 105 Not So Silent Night Concert. We have people who have been going to this event since it was the Not So Green Xmas acoustic show at the Galleria, in which David Byrne came out with an acoustic dreadnought, so we go back with the alternative station that far.

We have experienced some extraordinary performances at this annual event, but in in recent years, it seems that ticket costs rising into the stratosphere coupled with the urgent demand to shuffle on and off five to eight bands in an evening quickly in massive stadium venues has resulted in serious injury to the music.

It can be said that if you want to experience a band for the first time, by no means make NSSN your pitstop.

Piles of equipment are bolted on in modular fashion, the sound board is coupled in ad hoc with predefined channel levels and balances are dialed in mid performance to get the vocals somehow in synch with the heavy bass.

If you know the performers and songs well enough already and just want to hear loud noise and see your favorite musicians jump around energetically on stage, well, NSSN is the thing for you. But you are not going to get musical accomplishment at these things. Aint gonna happen.

We dropped in for Night 1 of the two night run. The event begins around five pm and runs to midnight with five to six bands playing short sets of five tunes.

Arrived in time to take in the Arctic Monkeys whom our Social Event Coordinator had been following with interest since Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not came out in 2006. Arctic Monkeys are an indie band from a suburb of Sheffield, UK. The band consists of Alex Turner (lead vocals, lead/rhythm guitar), Jamie Cook (rhythm/lead guitar), Nick O'Malley (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Matt Helders (drums, backing vocals). One of the first bands to be primarily publicized via the Internet, the band has won accolades in England and garnered two Grammy nominations.

The band are also regarded as one of the most prominent bands to be part of the post-punk revival in the UK, after achieving commercial success and spawning two number one singles with its debut album.

We found the group energetic, upbeat and very young. Wish the lads all the best as it is clear the band is still evolving musically, which always is promising in bands that get out the gate with such an explosive start.

Native sons AFI showed up for a loud, raucous show that featured lead singer Davey Havok climbing up onto amp equipment and leaping out into space in ways that usually prompt a disclaimer, "kids don't try this at home." Although billed as Oakland boys, the band members actually formed their group in 1991 while still in high school in Ukiah. The band dissolved for a while and then reformed to achieve commercial success in 2003.

It may be one of those odd traditions, but we noted that AFI has returned to NSSN for at least three or more shows. Each show is no question compelling with energy but after 20 years we are beginning to wonder when Jade Puget, lead guitarist, will start to branch out more. Some audience members clearly sat through the set, waiting for it all to get over, while others screamed and jumped up and down, so we would have to say the reception to AFI, getting long in the tooth in a way that Iggy Pop has avoided, was mixed. Again, we would have to blame the hyperefficient rapid set swap style that is now part of NSSN, which has gotten as good as it gets in speed, but severely lacking in soundcheck control.

After AFI we all sat through an unfortunately truncated set of a spare five short songs from Queens of the Stone Age, who certainly deserve better. These fellows from Palm Desert, California formed in 1996. The band's lineup includes founder Josh Homme (lead vocals, guitar, piano), alongside longtime members Troy Van Leeuwen (guitar, lap steel, keyboard, percussion, backing vocals), Michael Shuman (bass guitar, keyboard, backing vocals), Dean Fertita (keyboards, guitar, percussion, backing vocals), and recent addition Jon Theodore (drums, percussion).

The style is straightforward heavy rock and the band has been known to work with members of ZZ Top. Jim Harrington, a critic who is definitely one difficult to please, praised most of the First Night concerts. About QOTSA, he said, "Queens was all brute force, rocking the capacity crowds with a heavy mix that was part Melvins-style sludge and part Iron Butterfly-esque psychedelia." Which is true. Knowing subtlety would be lost when packed into a five band gig with no sound check, Josh Homme and Co. blew out the stops. Homme commented in mid set, "We know why we are here: to get f---d up and have a good time!"

Vampire Weekend is a deceptively named group that performs African and Central American-influenced melodic rock with as much more nuance than QOTSA as Led Zeppelin is to Flamenco. The gap is jarring but pleasurable in the variance of dynamics between the acts. VW, formed in New York City in 2006. The band consists of four members: lead vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig, guitarist/keyboardist and backing vocalist Rostam Batmanglij, drummer and percussionist Chris Tomson, and bassist and backing vocalist Chris Baio. The band released its first album Vampire Weekend in 2008, but appears to have really hit commercial and critical stride with its recent Modern Vampires of the City.

The group has had a lot going against it, starting with its misleading name -- the band is not about goth or vampires or exotica, but about world beat sounds made edgy with a punkish flair and average everyday people in the lyrics. Coming out of Columbia University, where the members attended by support of grants and scholarships and working through school, they have been derided as "the whitest band in America" ripping off subcultures and ethnic music, pretty much in the same way Paul Simon was criticized when he opened all of that stuff up to popular taste a few years ago.

Yeah well, anything in music that claims to come ex nihilo is automatically suspect.

Of all the acts that night, we would have to award the prize for Best in Show to these young fellows who really managed to flavor the sound with unique, distinctive beats and rhythms.

Finally, Kings of Leon stomped on stage to end the night appropriately as a monsoon slammed into the O.Co. Arena, tearing loose weatherproofing all along the outer edge of the building. Those guys basically put aside pretense in a way that had Harrington saying "It was hard to understand, however, why the Kings' sound is considered alternative. Back in the 1980s and '90s, it was simply known as: Aerosmith." Yes, well, tearing the roof off is pretty much what the Nashville-based band did. Well, we sense that the boys sound quite a bit different in more congenial venues and we are rousting out a CD of their we have had for a while to give them a better listen.

As we said, if you want to really experience a band for the first time, NSSN is not the place to do it. But even though it is only Rock 'n Roll, we like it.


So anyway, now that the Thanksgiving Day Poodleshoot Bar-Bee-Que Massacree has happened with all its sanguinary pleasures and all the wounded have been released from Highland's Trauma Unit -- because the Island hospital has no Trauma Center -- and all the leftovers have been tucked away there in Tupperware tubs in the freezer to bring out in Spring the Island segues now that proper weather has happened to us into the Horror Days that end with some dissipation in the New Year.

A proper dockwalloper slammed into the Bay Area Friday, reminding everybody that even the Golden State, a state that extends some 900 miles north to south along the Pacific coast and which features several mountain ranges with peaks topping 14,000 feat in elevation suffers weather in winter time.

Readers from the North Counties report snow down to the 200 foot line.

It's that time of year when NorCal shrugs into heavy coats and boots despite its ingrained repulsion against nastiness. People come here expecting palm fronds and beachwear weather and exit sorely disappointed.

Early reports of the de Anza expedition described the soldiers pounding holds through the ice at stream crossings so the horses could drink so there may be something to this global climate change thing.

General exuberance persists in this time, despite the chill, which surely does not compare to upstate Minnesota, but makes a bit difference around here underneath palm trees bedecked with blinking red, blue and yellow strands of lights. Garlands of lights appear draped along lintels, bay windows, scraggly front yard scrubs, children, mailboxes, stray dogs, the occasional raccoon, and the seldom seen, save in the early hours, fat opossum waddling from fence to fence.

Apples on sale Monday at Raleys, five pounds for five dollars. Thompson Lane once again erupts in glorious splendor and in that cul de sac off Grand once again the official North Pole postal box appears beneath the coastal sequoia. This is the time everyone pulls down deep for old traditions in the Land of the Lotus Eaters.

Old families here run through the half-remembered gamut of things listed in the translucent scrolls of family heritage as Things To Do, generally falling back on visiting old friends, reconnecting with people gone halfway around the world and back, and rallying quietly around that staple of paganistic ritual, the well-bedecked Douglas Fir in the living room.

Most of us tend to staple things together from our odd assortment of memories and guidebooks, like Better Homes and Gardens, Julia Child's cookbooks, and Ebony magazine. Since we who fell to earth here some time ago arrived often with the hinterland in flames, families shattered into so many sharp fragments that cut to bleed, we make our own rituals like Red Diaper babies reclaiming the Flag from the savage Right Wingers who stole it from the People. And so we generally fall back on visiting old friends, reconnecting with people gone halfway around the world and back, and rallying quietly around that staple of paganistic ritual, the well-bedecked Douglas Fir in the living room. The difference being in that ancient memory does not play a favorable part in these random acts of kindness. Or perhaps the rituals are impelled that much more forcefully.

On the couch that usually provides a bed for Suan in the Household, Marlene curled up exhausted after the ad hoc Food Bank-supplied dinner and Andre held the waif-girl punk with the raven dark hair against him and felt the beating of her terrific injured heart. Peace, when it comes, appreciated that much more with gratitude to those who have learned War.

Heard to tell the new Big Box store was packed to the rafters with people trying the patience of hapless workers from Thanksgiving Day on through that execrable 24 hour period filled with meaningless scrabble and clawing that follows.

Denby drove up to Marin to meet up with old friends that day, to reminisce and recall the absences, for the really wretched thing about getting older is that when the table is set and all laid out and the feast presented there are conspicuously fewer place settings than in years past and there feels a chilly vacuity in this or that corner which used to be a favorite spot for Jim and Lynn and Penny and Joe Bailey or whomever.

On Black Thursday, the company went out to Lagunitas Lake and walked around it, deploring the low drought levels, breathing the air, greeting others seeking the healing power of the wood while the rest of the world, or so it seemed, descended to atavistic snarling and tearing at carcasses proffered at bargains.

Clebia, seeing the fallen fruits of the buckeye began gathering them up into her pockets. She had already pestered a man coming up for the persimmons on his tree with some success and so several of the company walked with pockets loaded with half-ripe persimmons. Paul warned her to not go about trying to eat one of those but AK said it was just Clebia's typical way of collecting natural things to display at home.

Above the dam, Mary Beth, formerly of New Jersey, turned to Clebia, formerly of Brazil, and said, "Do you think this year will end well?" and Clebia answered in that Portuguese accent she has, "I do not know, Mary Beth, I only hope the next one starts off better!"

The day passed along and Denby and Paul played a bit beside the iron stove before Denby returned to the Island with the light failing and all the throngs still assaulting the shelves. As he drove towards the E-ville mudflats he saw that the long absent figure of Snoopy had been returned to his position chasing the Red Baron offshore. "10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more. The Bloody Red Baron was lookin' to even up the score . . . ".

For many years those figures had hovered on sticks posted way out there in an endlessly recurring virtual "dogfight", but some time ago erosion, weather, or Officiousness had knocked them down, leaving only the dank muck of the flats. It seemed this occurred about the time that magic had left the world. Now, in the fading of the year, the onslaught of the Hollar Days, the pair had returned.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to thankful parts unknown.

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


DECEMBER 1, 2013


The DeSoto was an American automobile marque, manufactured and marketed by the now-defunct DeSoto Division of the Chrysler Corporation from 1928 to 1961. It was one of the most popular pre-war models ever sold. This detailed close up, taken by Chad, shows a 1948 De Luxe Business Coupé, which was the last model to feature the bulbous pre-war look, a touch of nostalgia and history that is so much a part of the Island's public presentation. Old fashioned graft, backroom deals and corruption we do as well, but with film noir neon lighting for effect. Fergeddit Jake: it's Chinatown.


After we printed news about the damage to the bench at Jackson Park (we mistakenly relocated the bench to Washington Park) The Sun printed a bit on the fabled bench, which was installed in 1920. Isabelle Clark, of 1173 Park Avenue had the bench made after the death of her husband George. The original design featured stone statues of cats, dogs, birds, etc., but only the inscription "To all my dumb friends" was completed.

The bench was severely damaged two weeks ago during the severe wind storms that followed a solid dockwalloper of rain. A palm tree decapitated onto the concrete structure, sending rubble flying in all directions.

Meter holidays. The City is setting the four Saturdays in December as parking meter holidays to aid the downtown merchants under the wise recognition that retail sales taxes will do more for the budget than draconian parking enforcement on those scant four days.

We reported on the planned melding of the financially troubled Island hospital into the Alameda Health System a while ago. This action will most like save the 120 year-old institution now facing a mandated multi-million dollar earthquake retrofit on top of its steadily bleeding finances. The hospital will report losses of half a million dollars for just October. The board of directors had tried to keep things afloat by means of acquisition of satellite clinics and facilities, but it was a case of too little too late. This merger will help to keep the doors open but will not kibosh the already committed $280 parcel tax as these revenues are stipulated to continue as a condition of the merger with AHS.

Now that the Horror Days are well on the way, kicking off appropriately with a riot on Black Friday at a big box store and people getting tazed by store Pinkertons, signs of the season are rapidly advancing upon us. Got the ice skating rink up at South Shore, since the old Goode Chevy parking lot is about to become a Walgreens. Or a CVS. Or ... something. Workmen there are trenching and laying conduit, which pretty much means that one is a done deal with permits and everything.

IPD reports they are handing out speeding tickets like candy lately with an astounding 232 tickets for speeding during the two week period between September 24 and October 8th.

Lots of 5150 detentions going on with about five on Sunday last and five on Friday, plus the usual two or three per day going on. Separate arrests for public intoxication and narcotics not included in this mix. O, and one dog bite.

Got some incomplete gossip on the apartment fire on Briggs Avenue caused allegedly by a Mr. David Prado. Seems one resident had tried to secure a restraining order against the man, but was told by the judge she could not restrain someone living in the same building. The man had been acting erratically for days, and County psych services should have gotten involved, however the current philosophy of the the County is to withhold attention for cases not considered totally incapacitating or directly threatening to life and/or property.

The Letters to the Editor are always entertaining and instructive. The ongoing kerfuffle over the Animal Shelter continues, with some writers commenting, with some reason, just because the Shelter houses cute and fluffy things does not render it and its administration immune from criticism.

A couple opinions mentioned "Laura's Law" in connection with psychiatric care. According to Wiki, "Laura's Law is a California state law that allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment or forced anti-psychotics in most cases. To qualify for the program, the person must have a serious mental illness plus a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jailings or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior towards [self] or others. A complete functional outline of the legal procedures and safeguards within Laura’s Law has been prepared by NAMI San Mateo

The law was named after Laura Wilcox, a mental health worker who was killed by an American citizen who had refused psychiatric treatment. Modeled on Kendra's Law, a similar statute enacted in New York, the bill was introduced as Assembly Bill 1421 by Assemblywoman Helen Thomson, a Democrat from Davis. The measure passed the California Legislature in 2002 and was signed into law by Governor Gray Davis."

Implementation is disgressionary by County and to this point, Alameda has not joined Los Angeles and Nevada Counties to endorse this statute. Although it is generally assumed that Laura's killer, Scott Harlan Thorpe, refused treatment the truth is he had sought treatment in Nevada County on several occasions, but was denied.

While it seems that in the aftermath of things like the Sandy Hook massacre, the Newtown School shooting, and some six other mass shootings by unstable persons that have occurred during the past year we ought to take decisive action to deal with the mentally ill among us, it is clear that we should not leap collectively onto a wagon of treatment du jour that has failed to present evidence of solid efficacy. In other words passing a law in the manner of prescribing a "fixit all cure" pill when the pill is proven not to work is worse than useless.

The situation is very complex and needs to be handled by knowledgeable and experienced people. Right now the County is handling its share of the Prop 63 funds now being disbursed from a trust fund that consists of surviving funds from the original 384 million approved by State voters in approximately $41 million dollar annual MHSA chunks divvied up among projects selected by competitive bid, with each project whittling a bit more off of the available funds.

While that seems like a lot of money to start with, some 38 million people live in the Golden State in 58 counties. Alameda hosts some 2.5 million souls, but it is certainly not the biggest or most populous county in the State.

Of those funds mentioned above about $1.7 million per project are encumbered for capital improvement projects at four facilities in Alameda. These projects all have been years on the drafting board. So one can see that any new implementation of any kind almost certainly would need Countywide voter approval and probably some additional source of funding. Read my lips: more new taxes.


So anyway, it is hardly to be believed that this year marks the 15th Anniversary of the Annual Thanksgiving Island Poodleshoot and BBQ. Yes, its been 15 years of 49'er Spirit in blazing away with all sorts of firepower with red-blooded American zest on a day that makes every decent breed of hound thankful to high heaven he or she is not a member of that atrociously barbered breed of dingle-balls and yaps called "poodle".

One may ask the question "Why poodles?" Indeed the question has been asked many times, and not only about the Poodleshoot, oftentimes descending to theological argument, featuring the Primary query: "If god does exist, why does he or she allow poodles?" and "If poodles exist, does this presuppose the existence of Satan? If Satan exists because of poodles, does then this presuppose that god does, in fact, exist?" as well as numerous Secondary Queries coupled with Propositions and Conundrums enough to puzzle Pope and Curate for the next one thousand years long after the poodle and Man are both extinct, and at the end of it you just know the disputation will continue, no doubt among the higher lifeforms as in the chimpanzee, the cockroach, and the Welsh Rarebit of Hibernia.

The current pope is a feisty fellow with much on his plate to repair or devour and he has been jetting about fixing up all the problems caused by those impish Cardinals having elected a stodgy German last time against all good common sense. One of his encyclicals, which is a sort of paper composed by popes while riding the official Papal Bicycle -- hence its name -- is titled "Divinity and the Poodle -- A Call for Investigation", so something may come of all this theocratic folderol after all. Give or take 500 years.

This may have all began with the ancient Romans who presented the poser, "Viaduct?" Vy a duck? I dunno vy not a horse. I am all right myself, how about you?

Even Pastor Nyquist has gotten into the fray, having written a paper to the Collected Lutheran Bishops entitled, "Canine Manicure and Simplicity". As for the folks in red robes who hang out at the Tibetan temple on Santa Clara, let us quote the Buddha from his book of Five Ways. "Wisdom lies in the abnegation of Yappiness. The tranquil mind attains Nirvana."

Still comes the question, "Why poodles?" In a world fraught with immense tragedy rife with Newtown massacres, pestilence and ebola, child soldiers of Sierra Leone, Somalian pirates, kidnapped girls chained for years in shipping cartons, imbecilic Tea Partiers, Sarah Palin, wretched mental health, loud people who drive SUV's, Klaus Barbie and all his kind, Hitler inventing the baby-kissing photo op, and even worse, how can one spend any time being concerned about a miserably coddled Fifi shaved to look like a large trout lure?

Indeed, within the question resides the answer, an answer worth pondering.

As per Tradition, on the day of the 15th 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, traveling across the yard from the battered old half-moon privy hard by the weeds to the house back porch, 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.

Her fingers becoming rays of sunlight, 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 Dawn 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 bright, 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 known as Neptune Pointe (sic) was entangled in the multifaceted eye of the Developer of the Spider.

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 Chen as Loki with his distinctive rubato tenor, and Tony Daysog as mezzo soprano mournful, with Councilperson Marilyn in her reprising alto triumphale in the esoteric work La Chambre à l'arrière Enfumee Boogie. Former Councilperson Rob Bonta appeared in cameo basso infernal as Iago from the Doubtful Friend.

Many reviewers have called this piece amazingly impossible to accomplish. The East Bay Express found "this game of smoky backrooms is too much to believe." Karen D'Souza of the Contra Costa Times has called it "devilishly complicated" and "hard to believe it goes on. And on. And on still more," while Jim Harrington has called this performance, "the most dreadful 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.

The Examiner, as usual, ignored Reality and talked about the batboy who had been abducted by space aliens.

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 and Smashed Manager were Carol Taylor and Pat Aston of St. Charles.

Lou Cadme did a standup job upon the Howling Organ Stroker, 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 the Crawford Makeup Mirror Shriller.

Antimacassars and doilies were supplied by James Hargis.

Once this essay at musical endeavor was done to everyone's great relief, the Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor 34 1/2, gathered in a circle for their Invocation,led by Doyle McGowan of San Francisco, 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.

This year, the White House representation was headed by Mrs. Clinton, who never really has left the White House and who still has one of her vanity tables there in a small room. She was accompanied by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who stated that although she was not a fan of hunting per se, she did feel a need to get out of DC for a while to get some rest.

The Conservative Party, which always seems to enjoy gratuitous violence and bloodletting, especially when it involves someone elses children, sent Ted Cruz, while the Pee Tardy folks sent Bernhardt Stoor.

The rain weather which had been forcast turned itself around into a gorgeous set of days of clear skies just perfect for popping doggies on the run. Mrs. Clinton, ever much the hawk, overflowed with exhuberant excitement of the chase after a brace of Russian Blues, and managed to declare war on Iran, Russia, China, both Koreas, San Leandro and Newark within two hours, quite forgetting that she was not yet elected President.

When reminded of that fact by her companion, she expostulated, "Not elected?! That did not stop George Bush!"

Down by the Crab Cove playground the Angry Elf gang set up their base of operations and they had a great deal of fun firing off 1950's era Thompson submachineguns. The Angry Elf was greatly enamored of the old gangsters, especially Meyer Lansky and he loved to emulate that man, even to the brown suit the mobster had worn. His gang did not do any hunting so much as fire indiscriminately at any sort of likely target, whether it be palm trees, lavatories, kiddie slides or other hunters and so everyone soon learned to stay well away from there until they had gotten deeper into Padriac's home brew which significantly worsened their aim.

The Angry Elf was there with Brian Grump, Toshie Fan, and the Toad and they were a fell lot with their guns and primitive torture devices. There's always some in the crowd who ruin the joy of things by way of their earnestness. There in the middle of their camp they builded an hearth of human skulls and fueled with foul tinder so as to produce a billowing reek that clogged the once pristine sky.

Over on Otis Drive Officer O'Madhauen had caused a massive pileup at the intersection of Grand and Otis when he had tried to vigorously enforce the speed limit, the turn signal ordinance and the jaywalking ordinance, which morphed into enforcing the traffic light itself, the crosswalks, and the vehicular equipment advisory, not to mention the driving with a cell phone law that no one else seems to enforce. The officer had such a time scampering back and forth across the street, detaining vehicles and pedestrians right and left that he had to call for back up and have Officer Popinjay go commandeer one of those nasty metermaid cabs so as to round up malefactors like a sheepdog, for it required time to write up all those citations properly and he could not simply let them go with a warning and finish off the paperwork later.

Besides, the City gets 17% at least from every citation fine.

He walked up and down the rows, idly pepper spraying the people who sat there compliantly

Eventually, the two officers, by dint of zeal and obtuseness, had detained some 150 people, whom they corralled into a space on the lawn of Wood Middle School and somebody asked if it was alright to enjoy a bite to eat and get some drink while arrested and Officer O'Madhauen could find no entry about that in the big green CVC book so everybody there had a fine time being arrested and noshing on turkey schmier on bagel toast and drinking champagne until Officer Popinjay did what California police are sometimes known to do. He walked up and down the rows, idly pepper spraying the people who sat there compliantly and waiting for something to happen. He did this because he was bored and because he had the power to do so. And this really put a big damper on things and there was no more turkey schmier or schmier of any kind to be enjoyed and the errand boys ran away on their bicycles, weeping uncontrollably.

Elsewhere, the day proceeded with only the usual joyous mayhem. AK Glass armed with a crossbow firing explosive darts managed to nail a fine catch estimated at five pounds prior to dispatch down at the windsurfer clubhouse. Not much was left of the carcass for the BBQ however, and size was estimated by the length of the ears so the points earned were recorded by the scorekeeper. Clebia, formerly of Brazil and now San Francisco, managed to catch two miniature toys in a soup kettle fitted with a sieve, which made for easy dispatch and immediate paella stew, plus some left over in a doggie bag for the little terrier at home.

an IED-DP (Insanely Evil Doggie-Doo Pinata) that exploded

The Native Sons of the Golden West party, led by Doyle and Susan Laing prowled carefully in the vicinity of the bicycle bridge upon reports of Sympathizers. Sure enough a squad of dog walkers dressed in pink and lavendar with green pumps clashed with our boys after setting off an IED-DP (Insanely Evil Doggie-Doo Pinata) that exploded with a terrific stench, knocking Eugene Gallipagus flat on his back. The resulting TBI and PTSD would affect the boy for years to come. The squad was pinned down there at the trestle as the poodliers assailed them with missle weapons not unlike the Persians against the Spartans at Thermopylae.The Angry Elf Gang, seeking gain and notoriety, had made secret pacts with the Evil One Eyed Poodle and so had instituted machinations, deviltry and all sorts of nasty mayhem, chiefly featuring this assault. The air filled with the reek of poodle, obscuring the sun and simultaneous attacks were launched, seemingly at random all over the Island.

Things would have gone exceedingly bad for the squad with Doyle getting the majority of his clothes torn from his body and Susan getting more of an eyeful than any proper lady of her age should enjoy, but she laid upon him his wounds such unguents found in the Houses of Healing as in Kingsbane and Thriftfoil and Hunkythane which art known to produce visions. And she laid upon him her body so as to warm his cockles proper and undulated not unlike the healing sea.

"M'lady," said Doyle. "We are being attacked at present! We are at war!"

So much is written in the Annals of the 15th Poodleshoot of the Island.

Things would have gone severely ill for our patriotic squad outposted on the edge of the frontier, but save that Beatrice, glowing in robes of white came leading a pack of noble reinforcements. Among them terriers in the foreguard, followed by dashing golden collies. Next up in the phalanx appeared the strutting Great Danes on the left flank and the wooly sheepdogs on the right. Up the middle charged the Shepards with a tremendous bark! Following these came the leaping basenji's, they of the curly tails and silent attack, and among them the swift whippit along with the much misunderstood and maligned pit bull

All these and more fell upon the enemy and they were vanquished in dismay, even among the picnic tables, and they scattered like leaves before the joyous wind. Thus was the party at the bicycle bridge rescued and avenged.

All around the Island, the dismal fogs roiled against the sun as pitched battles ensued on this formerly sacrosanct holiday. The Lady of Jackson Park, Tammy Chadwick, held forth her ring of power and invoked her Elvish powers to hold back the legions of grim visaged Wargs. To the North, the Wiccan power of Tony Savage beat back battalions of fell hog riders seeking to impose the will of their Dark Lord.

And lo! It was come unto the third day of destruction when the skies filled with the children of Gwaihir, mentioned elsewhere in the chronicles, and so the julu, the hummingbirds, descended in large flocks to cause confusion among the rampant orc-like poodle-lovers. The dank mists fostered by the Angry Elf gang which sought to exploit the dissension caused by excessive development rolled back to reveal gorgeous heavens.

The iridescent wings of julu and his clan descended among the rabble of the Angry Elf and caused confusion and dissension and so the Angry Elf gang was disbursed from that bad camp which celebrated Development and Building upon every square inch and the gang ran through the streets all undone with their shoe laces untied.

The battle at Crab Cove thus being resolved, the battle at the Boatworks settled down and the Wargs withdrew and the battle at the Pointe (sic) settled down to a truce. Then it was come time for peace, blessed Peace to take hold of the Island and all who had wounds were assuaged at the Houses of Healing, thanks to Brother Obama who granted that no preconditions should interfere and all who were with no income nor recompense were allowed to be healed for now the word of Law held sway.

We have fought well against false sentiment and artificial emotions and the lathered coverall of fascism

And was come unto the time that the last trump was blown and the last rack of Fifi laid upon the barbi well slathered with sauce of Everett and Jones and the final speech was given unto Padraic who said, "Brothers and sisters, today we are well met. We have fought well against false sentiment and artificial emotions and the lathered coverall of fascism, and we say on the occasion of the fifteenth Poodleshoot and BBQ, here, here! To all a grand year and next year best of luck at the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ! Drink up me laddies, for last call is now upon us!"

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grateful grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to thankful parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 24, 2013


Island-Lifer Tammy knipsed this one of the palm tree that used to stand behind the memorial bench "To All My Dumb Friends". We have had a couple dockwallopers pound through here after a period of no rain followed by substantial windstorms, which may have caused this contretemps of palm and bench. When it clears, we will get out there to take a pic or two, but it looks like the bench took a beating as well over a thousand pounds of trunk came down on the concrete structure, which is entirely concealed by the fronds.

This location is Park Avenue Jackson Park on the south end.


This November brings the anniversary of JFK's murder, one of the largest and most influential mysteries of our generation. Who killed him and why may never be known -- certainly not within the lifespan of anyone that matters, but the assassination of the popular President has cast a shadow and shadow influence over American life each day since then.

He was one of the last Presidents to present himself with a genial, uncontrived, un-spin doctored image. We have staff at Island-Life with relatives who worked for him when he was a Senator, and their comments have universally been that John F. Kennedy was a genuine article, gifted with a substantially above-average intelligence with some estimates of an IQ well over 186 coupled with a voraciously fast speed-reader's skill. It was said he could read the entire War and Peace in two hours and was able to recite back entire paragraphs from anywhere in that book.

He was the Man of the Hour when friction developed with the USSR on several occasions, although his pullback for a Cuban invasion cost the Democratic Party the Cubanero Florida vote for the next several generations.

He was an All-American athlete, war hero, strikingly good looking, loved by a beautiful wife and everything one could ask of a leader in a very troubled time.

Successors to his office have yet to rise to any of the high points he reached in social progress, in world peace, in foreign relations, in economic development, and a number of other areas.

Spaced years apart, but also a commemorative anniversary of something tragic, Bay Areans gather to remember the nearly 1000 local people who died at Jonestown, sending a wave of shock through this region from 1978 up to the present. Reverend Jim Jones began the People's Temple in Indiana in 1955 as an experiment in Socialist thought combined with Christianity -- he was ordained and part of the Methodist Church. Around 1965 he moved a portion of his congregation to Ukiah for a while, but found the sparsely inhabited area restricting on growth. In 1971 he set up Temples in San Francisco and in Los Angeles. Membership reports vary wildly, but it can be documented that the San Francisco temple regularly hosted 3,000 devotees who helped shape local politics by way of their idealism.
The Temple was a positive force for social integration of the races, and many very good projects and legislation was carried forth by the positive energy of that group, a fact that is often glossed over by people researching what happened latter.

According to Wikipedia "At the same time, Jones and his church earned a reputation for aiding the cities' poorest citizens, especially racial minorities, drug addicts, and the homeless. The Peoples Temple made strong connections to the California state welfare system. During the 1970s, the Peoples Temple owned and ran at least nine residential care homes for the elderly, six homes for foster children, and a state-licensed 40-acre ranch for developmentally disabled persons. The Temple elite handled members' insurance claims and legal problems, effectively acting as a client-advocacy group.

It is generally believed that the group was instrumental in getting Moscone elected mayor of SF in 1975 via canvassing efforts.

The fact that they did so much good is all the more tragic, given the terrible decay in the organization propelled by Jim Jone's increasing monomania and authoritarian rule. He removed a substantial number of his followers to an agricultural enclave in northwestern Guyana and the community there swelled to 900 people, mostly Bay Area Californians.

In November of 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan (D - San Mateo), accompanied by his aide, Jackie Spier and several journalists went down to Jonestown in Guyana to investigate claims of abuse. On returning to the airstrip November 17 with several defectors from the Jonestown group, Ryan was shot and killed in an assault upon the returnees by gunmen from the Peoples Temple. Jackie Spier was shot in the back and remained on the tarmac for over 8 hours beside her dead boss before soldiers from Guyana arrived. Three journalists were also killed, including Bob Brown, whose camera recorded the initial gunshots and his own death. There was a battle between survivors and the gunmen which proceeded from one of the planes, which had been disabled, into the cabin of the working plane that lifted surviving journalists and defectors to safety along with one of the gunmen who had been disarmed by the pilot.

The gunmen returned to Jonestown where most of the 980 inhabitants there either committed suicide or were murdered by means of cyanide injection and poisoned Kool Aid. Some fled into the jungle and listened as the massacre continued.

A tape of unknown origin presents 45 minutes of gunshots and people screaming during the mass suicide/murder. The tape is currently in possession of the FBI.

The killing did not stop there. Surviving administrators of the People's Temple, Michael Stokes killed himself during a subsequent press conference and Guyana's Ambassador to the United States, Lawrence"Bonny" Mann killed himself and Temple member Paula Adams along with their child.

Jackie Spier survived the ordeal and has been serving the people of California capably and well since then as an elected official.

The effect of this massive loss of life has rippled through Bay Area culture for thirty-five years, with entire families being wiped out. Acrimony persists as a physical memorial listing the victims at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland includes Jim Jones on the role without comment. 409 bodies are interred there, however Jim Jones was cremated and ashes scattered in the Atlantic Ocean.


So anyway, a couple dockwallopers soaked the Bay Area, followed by blustery set of wind storms that knocked down quite a bit of squirrel habitat. The weather has effectively stated its preference for Season and the boys at the Household are scrambling to snap up those "seasonal worker" jobs that pay well enough, don't ask too much of intellect, and promise to end some time after they have become unbearable existences.

Last year nobody got drunk on the job or punched any kids in the nose

Last year nobody got drunk on the job or punched any kids in the nose, so Pahrump and Jose and Javier look to be good on recommendation as Santaland Elves at Macy's. Jesus never got over the ribbing he got when playing the Nativity scene (Hey! What's Jesus doin' tending the sheep? Put a diaper on him and stick him in the crèche . . .) so he is aiming for UPS assembly line. Do well during the early part and they make you a driver assistant. That's the guy who hops out in all kinds of weather with the package to run past rabid dogs and antsy guys with homemade AR-15s to get the signature while the driver sips his coffee laced with Amaretto in the warm cab.

Sarah is hoping to avoid reprising her role in the Macy's History of Northern California Living Diorama as Sigmund Freud and get through the Horror Days with gigs in her band In Memory of Sister Rosetta Tharp.

those boys see green in scalping nonprofit charities

One would think a blues band has a hard time finding gigs during the "Happiest Time of the Year", but in truth, the Blues are in high demand, due largely to aging Boomers who can never get enough of dunta-dunta and I-IV-V shuffles. Indeed, given the current state of economics amid this Bogus Recovery from a slide that most intelligent people admit started January 1 year 2000. Rolph is looking to supplement his meager income as a doorman for the Hubba Hubba Club by driving a Xmas tree delivery truck for N. Eptatood Contractors (Fabrication, Construction, Auto Repair, and Odd Jobs), who generally make do all year performing odd jobs, welding sheet metal and pretending they know something about automobiles. When it comes around to the Hollar Days those boys see green in scalping nonprofit charities right and left. Generally, Rolf tosses in an extra fir when he can to sort of even things out. Since the Depuglia brothers of N. Eptitood were a bit slow on the accounting side, this was fairly easy to do and resulted in satisfied customers all around. The Depuglias felt good about believing they were scamming liberals, and the nonprofit people felt good about getting stuff for free.

That is the beauty of this world -- somehow it all works out.

Naturally all the hubbub down at the Old Same Place Bar amid this blustery weather has been about the upcoming Poodleshoot and BBQ. Its looking like foul weather will set in on that august day, which by conservative count has been enjoyed by some 20,000 netizens over the course of fifteen years. So all the hunters have been stocking up with Cabela's foul weather gear and Big Five ponchos and special covers for their extended magazines.

So its been merry in the snug with the Jamisons and the Arthur Power flowing like the Water of Life from the Source and old crusty 49'er types have been trading recipes for things like "Glazed Ribs of Fifi" and "Lemongrass Bowser". Then there remains the ever popular "Boshintang Brigitte Bardot Memorial Special".

this Favoritist Time of the Year. So jolly with apples and kibble

Yes, the Seasons do have their well-loved peculiar traditions and the interminable recurrence of popular theme songs. Roasting Rover Over an Open Fire. Singing Old King's Hide. Away in a Kennel and Fried in Peanut Oil. Yes, we all look forward to this Favoritist Time of the Year. So jolly with apples and kibble. This year should be fun, fun, fun. We have even heard rumors that Sarah Palin may attempt an incursion. That brassy bitch. No one knows what will happen on the day of the Annual Poodleshoot. But the Shadow knows . . . .

In other parts of the country the first snow has painted all the world with broad strokes and covered all the yuck that usually offends the eyes and all the world is turned into something wonderful. Up in the Sierra we hear of the first foot deep snowfall. But down here, we have storms with another dockwalloper set to arrive right on Thanksgiving, while we are given to understand the East Coast is about to be punished for all the stiff-necked sins of which it is guilty and which send scads of people fleeing to California every month.

Look look on my works you mighty and despair.

A 2.3 shaker hit right underneath Silly Hall on the 12th this week at 7:17am. Not many people felt it but it served as a reminder that all shall fade, all is ephemeral and from dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return. It is a great reminder that nothing built of stone shall last forever. The recent explorations to Mars, the Red Planet have revealed this explicitly. Once Mars was a lush planet, rife with water and atmosphere, although now it shows itself as a burnt and frozen stone where something once dwelled. Some colossal being named Ozymandias stands there laughing, and saying, "Look look on my works you mighty and despair. They destroyed everything, including their own water-rich nutrient-laden atmosphere in their greed. A million years pass and Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away."

Pastor Nyquist, troubled by events, takes his walk as is customary around the block and pauses as Father Danyluk appears in his oilskin cloak approaching from the opposite direction, a dim figure in the foggy, misty air. Fr. Danyluk, of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint, is much troubled about the fact that in the land where the ground shakes, instead of people looking up in those moments for Salvation, they get inured to disaster, which comes to the Golden State with such appalling regularity as to turn everyone into agonistical cynics.

"My house burned down again yesterday. At least we saved the cat this time."

Almighty Jesus! Awwwwwlmighty Jeeeeeeeezus . . ."!

He has had this discussion with Reverend Fred Rectumrod of the First Primary Really First Before the Other Guys Baptist Church in the East End. Its a church that by virtue of its location unfortunately caters to the well-to-do, which makes for terrifying people properly with the Word most arduous. Reverend Fred is wont to exclaim, "Not even the earth beneath your feet is certain! In whom then do you place your trust when the terrible, scalding, searing, smoking fires of Hell -- of Hell! -- approach, but Almighty Jesus! Awwwwwlmighty Jeeeeeeeezus . . ."!

Its enough to embarass a decent Christian. enough even to embarass a decent Baptist. Fr. Danyluk caught one of these sermons and one was quite enough for him. It was the obviousness that put off even him, a Catholic where the Truth gets pounded in with pandybats.

He much preferred the Baptist church on the West End where people at least had a great time singing and praising and everything. The good Father was always scouting out talent he could borrow or steal -- say not steal, but mildly embezzle -- to be returned with dividends of purity and righteousness -- for the musical talent in the Catholic church was, quite frankly dreadful. Not more than one or two of his flock could carry a note to the corner mailbox and he was always in a pickle every year trying to fill out the chorus for the Xmas pageant. So what if the songs were a bit different. It was all fine and Xmasy and all pretty much about the same thing, save for details; let the hair splitters sort out the differences. Father Danyluk had a show to put on.

This accounted for much in the way he encouraged his friendship with the Lutheran Pastor Nyquist, for Lutherans not only could sing -- they knew the words as well.

The Island has more churches than Ireland per square meter

The Island has more churches than Ireland per square meter -- or maybe about the same -- but with the difference is that there are so many variegated denominations, not one House of God, beyond the Lutheran Emmanuel Church with its bevy of gorgeous women, can muster more than a dozen souls on a good weekend. Not even El Luz de la Mundo de la Occupado Parkingspace can collect more than fifteen people, and this outfit serves up great buffets to fuel its three hour jubilations of atonal shrieking.

In Marlene and Andre's Household, the girl lays out the materials, sparse though they are, that will somehow be combined into a semblance of a feast on Thursday, and she is wondering, is it acceptable to present sweetpotato latkes for Thanksmukkah? Such weighty questions of import.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 16, 2013


We had to reach for that one. There are not a whole lot of pop songs that reference squirrels, but Jesse Colin Young does in his song "Ridgetop". This fellow is a typical ground squirrel photographed by Islander Nancy Grey.


Readers may remember that a couple weeks ago a famous personage titled The Most Interesting Man in the World made a cameo appearance in the monologue. The character has been used in advertising for a dark beer sold in the US and is portrayed by Jonathan Goldsmith, who we found out, is quite interesting on his own merit. He currently lives on a boat in Monterey but is planning on moving with his new bride to a cabin in the Sierra foothills soon. Now that weather has started, he may already be gone.

The charities supported by the actor were listed in that issue of Island-Life, and include agencies that fight human trafficking in Cambodia, provide artist hook-up programs to help abused children heal, provide protection for the Siberian white tiger, and he is on the advisory board of the landmine victim assistance group Clear Path International. Clear Path has engaged directly in ordinance removal, overseeing the largest landmine removal project in history along the Vietnam/Laos border, as well as unexploded aerial bombs, but now is handling mostly medical issues for civilian victims of military ordinance.

Just knowing that makes us want to rush out and buy a case of that beer. You might not drink beer every day, but when you do you might as well drink a beer endorsed by the Most Interesting Man in the World.


You may have noticed that the seasons have changed. Not by the weather, certainly, but by the rumbling under the ground and the sudden pullback of the waves which signify the massive tsunami of Hollarday Advertising that will advance in solid walls to batter your home, your patience, your sense of sanity, and your wallet.

In any case, the plastic "ice rink" for the kids has been set up and notices for the December 7th tree-lighting ceremony at City Hall are going out. The Ceremony has grown in recent years to include guided caroling, performances by people who really do know how to sing, and the curious Island anachronism called the "Dancing Xmas Trees" who are so adorably cute you just want to punch them. Just kidding. The troupe even got invited to the White House one year.

Then there is the Island-Life tradition and Alternative Radio's seasonal love fest called Not So Silent Night. This began years ago as an acoustic setup, but has grown to feature some Rrrrreeeeely Big names. Foo Fighters have done it. Courtney Love has done it. No Doubt and Gavin Rossdale's group has done it. Even Iggy Pop has done it. Bad boy local Billy Joe showed up unannounced with his Green Day one year. It typically sells out, so do not wait to get tix. This year's lineup includes Arcade Fire, Lourde, Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend and returnees Queens of the Stone Age plus AFI, who seem to have actually learned how to play their instruments. Its a bummer, we know, but there outta be noise enough for you.

Remember the stunningly beautiful Natalie Cole? She is still beautiful and she will perform with the San Francisco Symphony over in Babylon at Davies Hall 11/25. Better get those tix now.

The juggernaut of development continues on the Island, but not without some hitches in the plans of a few get-rich-quick developers. The old naval warehouses that had been warehousing nothing but derelicts and sterno bums for years and which stood hard by where the new Target stands have been torn down and soil remediation for toxics is well underway. The lot where Goode Chevy used to stand looks to be finally in the process of arriving somewhere, as crews have been trenching and laying conduit, signs that plans for building have been approved and it is all a matter of time former Auto Row lives again as a commercial district.

In an interesting development Kamela Harris, the State Attorney General has stepped in to examine the questionable doings surrounding the McKay Avenue property that was mysteriously rezoned to benefit developers after the federals decided to let the property go. Problem is that the access down there to that plot, which everyone had assumed would proceed gracefully to East Bay Parks, is by way of public land, which is developed for, well, park access, not residential.

So the sidewalks and street itself may become part of the sale deal. Which creates the interesting scenario of an entirely gated, walled-off, privately controlled subdivision that will block public access to the beach from that angle.

The GSA is threatening to seize the access property by means of eminent domain before turning this public land over to private interests. That part really has the Attorney General's office steamed and for good reason. Her office is known for being extremely tough on corruption in public office and this one certainly seems to fit the bill.

The future of Sweeney Park was discussed at a recent meeting of the Park and Rec. Proposals include a gazebo, an outdoor classroom, formal gardens, a picnic pavilion, bike and hike trails, and -- our favorite -- restrooms. We kinda like the idea of a "food production garden" behind the Food Bank trailor.

Incidentally, did you know Mr. Leaper is no longer Director there? Now you do. Troy Gilbert comes in with 25 years of experience in higher education, including organizing and directing services for students at Stanford University and UC Berkeley. Originally from Indiana, Troy came to California in 1988 and to the bay area in 1991. His involvement with the Alameda Food Bank began last May when he became a board member and subsequently volunteered assisting operations and set up. Troy also serves on the Board of Directors of the First Congregational Church of Berkeley.

The Annual Turkey Distribution will be on a first come, first served basis on Tuesday, November 26 from 11am to 1pm at the Food Bank warehouse at 650 West Ranger. 1 turkey will be provided per household. This year the Bank expects to hand out 1000 turkeys -- an increase over 750 from two years ago, due probably to the mythical end of the Great Recession and the oh so marvelous recovery that does not include minor things like wages and employment. We hear that at least one grocery is offering a "2 fer 1" deal. Heck, we know what you can do with that extra free turkey. Pass it on.

The Letters to the Editor remain always entertaining. This week we note a more upbeat tone in that many letter writers wrote to thank programs like "adopt a classroom", the public library, and the women's shelter. Still, the debate over whether the Animal Shelter is run by a cruel bloodthirsty tyrant or is a model of clean, caring operations continues unabated and we wonder what really is propelling this acrimony. We have heard dubious reports about one of the shelter's administrators, but we tend to shove hearsay where it belongs. We have to give the benefit of doubt in favor of a person who devotes their life to caring for animals absent definitive factual reports about abuse.

Some of us here have been abused -- we know the bar for proof is high and difficult to hurdle when the victim is in all truth the first to be doubted, the first to be blamed. So if there is any truth in the accusations, do not let things ride on slander -- hitch up your boots and get facts and figures, documentation and swearable witnesses. There really is no other way.

Speaking of abuse, the rise in vehicle theft on the island has gotten so large as to attract media notice. Seems a good year for Oaktown is a mere 280 auto thefts, with a high of some 330 one year. We are experiencing a sharp uptick, so now may be a good time to purchase a steering wheel club or something similar. Barring that, since we now know the police response to crime here is to tell victims to move away -- so nobody around her talks about the extent of what is happening -- it may be coming time for Committees to form that will be Vigilent in protecting the citizens. Since the boys in blue have no interest in doing their jobs save to strut around in uniforms and attend pancake breakfast fund raisers. We don't want another incident where they let someone die in the water on Memorial Day to prove a point about the budget.


So anyway, looks like snow has hit the high Sierra and the first wharf sizzlers look like they are on the way next week. The season is coming on when people slip into traditions like old mules beside the easychair. We have the Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ coming up and of course, for those inclined to masochism, there remains the tripartite Murder the Native Americans Feast, Thanksgiving, and the rare co-occurance of Channukah, all of which means no oyster stuffing and no ham canapes this year.

Nevertheless, this is a time when food, comfort food, traditional food, homemade food steps forward as a main actor upon everyone's stages. The women throw open the kitchen windows to let out the heat and send the pungent savory aromas wafting through the neighborhoods. Rosemary. Oregano. Cinnamon. Cloves. Garlic. Five Spice Powder. All the odors of the world's kitchens mingling in the street.

Over at Marlene and Andre's Household, all the capable members have been stocking up on Food Bank supplies to the extent possible given the limited means of locomotion and transport. Pahrump has gone out to the trailer with his scooter to garner veggies, while Martini and Jose have taken the bus, toting their wire cart. Xavier and Jesus and Jose have done the two mile walk with the House Flexible Flyer red wagon, stocking up on broth and potatoes. Suan has been forthright and direct, eschewing both bus and cab as being too demeaning. She's been out there in her signature winter raincoat, boots, and negligee offering blowjobs for rides to West Ranger.

It's all for the Cause of the Household, seeing some reason to give thanks to something even when the entire world has been taking a huge dump of crap on their collective heads. Some people think foodstampers and the indigent are taking free rides of luxury. No, being poor is quite a lot of work. So much so, a period of surviving poverty should be a job qualification. It takes ingenuousness and effort to get by when there is no car, no phone, no money for the bus.

This being Thanksmukkah, a conflation of two observances which shall not be repeated for another 1000 years, Marlene has opted for the straightforward mushy apples, canned fruit stuffing. Not that she ever would employ oysters or clams (dreadful! trafe!) in any situation. Other tables may present their disgusting hams carved in the shape of rosebuds, but not Marlene's household. No matter how hungry, tinned ham and spam and clams go straight down the street to the Shelter. A girl has to have principles. Still, there is wine to obtain. Candles to light. At least nine of those in the ironmongery contraption Martini welded one year. And then there is the matter of grating all those potatoes for the latkes -- fortunately the Food Bank has supplied plenty of applesauce.

Marlene spins a little top upon the kitchen counter while going about her business of preparing food for the household, putting away groceries. Nun. You get nothing. She puts the starch up in the cupboard and spins again. Hay - take half the pot. But then she is only playing imaginatively with herself. Spins again. Shin - you must add something to the the pot. Of course the pot cannot exist unless people put something in. All must contribute. She folds up the reusable grocery bags. Spin - Gimel. Winner take all -- the worst of all results, according to the Ohlone, who despised the aquisition of wealth. For with gimel, the game is over and the winner sits, glum with all that had been given, a selfish beast. Even though it all spells out "A Great Miracle Happened There."

Which may summarize the Household in general where kindness, truth, beauty and justice have become the norms, unlike the vicious world outside their walls. Within the walls governed by Marlene and Andre, a warmth of goodness and kindness pervades, where the spin comes up to Shin -- all must contribute in this little household of fifteen souls who have taken refuge in the one bedroom cottage hard by the Bay. For these times are hard and Mr. Howitzer, the landlord, offers no respite to anyone less fortunate than himself.

Marlene places the menorah in the window to wait for the evening of miracles and thanks to arrive.

In the Almeida household, located at some distance from the shore, Mrs. Almeida stirs her specialty, Portuguese bacalhau and wraps up the box printed in Norwegian, the name "lutefisk" boldly stamped, as if in warning. Bacalhau uses dried salt cod as its main ingredient and happens to be the main comfort food of Portugal. Unfortunately the Portuguese were such excellent fishermen they exhausted the oceans around Portugal and Spain -- indeed the entire Mediterranean region -- of cod. It is thought by some that this disaster was the only thing that could bring down the dictatorship of Salazar, but no -- the benivolent despot died in his bed of old age, allowing the Azores to close its terrible prison and finally become a country.

But it was distant, frosty Norway which came to the aid of desperate Portugal, for the Norse had a great supply of salt cod preserved in lye and, for some reason, no longer consumed the stuff in large quantity. So, Portugal's national dish was saved by Viking fisheries, who had been shipping only small quantities of the stuff to remote towns in northern Minnesotta now had an entire nation to consume it. Only a few old folk in Norway, Sweden and parts of Denmark that also enjoy wierd things like matjes herring still ate lutefisk -- and even then only after and with several glasses of aquavit. Somehow it never occurred to the Vikings to mix the reconsituted cod -- which resembles in texture and taste soapy dinosaur phlegm -- with a tomato base. Go figure.

Some say lutefisk was invented by the Vikings in an effort to poison their enemies. That is patently untrue. Lutefisk was invented by the Irish, who never consume it, no matter how wretched the English cuisine that was foisted upon them. The Irish grew tired of being pillaged by the Viking raiders to the point of poverty and starvation, so they concocted what they imagined to be the vilest thing imaginable. They took cod and hung it for weeks on a clothesline, then buried it in the ground immersed in lye until the flesh jellied and then dug it up again to dry it some more. This they offered to the Vikings on their next raid. See how poor we are now; this is all we have to eat. To everyone's great surprise and to the dismay of the Irish, the Vikings loved the stuff.

Nevertheless the Irish beat the pants off the Norwegians at the famous battle of Baile ath Cliath, The Ford of the Hurdles, and some say it was all because the Viking digestive tract had not then inured itself to lutefish. Hence the Ford of the Hurdles. Or Hurls. Or . . . whatever. The Irish won the day, which they seldom do, and the Vikings went away and never came back, preferring to attack Greenland instead.

So much history and tradition and culture in a simple bowl of bacalhau.

Eugene Gallipagus, strolling back from his truck after a nice target practice session at Davis Gunnery Range, notices something jammed into the carved pumpkin on the steps of the apartment complex. He's been getting into shape for this year's poodleshoot. Now that the first winter storm is due to hit on Tuesday night, the temperature is dropping everywhere and everyone is wearing fingerless gloves at the range. Time for gloves and for steaming hot chowders, cream soups and cassaroles.

A squarish box similar to those used for Chinese takeout pokes awkwardly from the pumpkin, which has an appropriately astonished expression carved out of its rind. Eugene opens the box and discovers what looks like someone's leftover hotdisk flecked with what look like green chilies. He closes up the box and absently tucks it inside the foyer in Ms. Marple's letterbox before going upstairs to heat up a frozen pizza.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 10, 2013


Someone momentarily triumphant, yet so empty with his two failed marriages and his lapsed sense of morality.

Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dishwasher and a Coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright

I'm gonna blow this damn candle out
I don't want Nobody comin' over to my table
I got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hidin' behind bottles in dark cafes
Dark cafes
Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings
And fly away
Only a phase, these dark cafe days


So much is happening than what is chattering down in Silly Hall and in the blogs we are hardly able to pause to report on trivialities such as the flack over the the Shelter's approach to killing pets or the administrator's prickly habits of verbally demeaning staff and visitors. Appears this one is true, but we doubt the more serious charge about excessive use of euthanasia. That just feels like an add-on to the more legitimat complaint. Well, people who do non-profits can be difficult -- this is, after all, their only attachment to power denied in other spheres. We have beaucoups reports of annoying, abusive, martinet non-profit administrators.

Still, do you want to do their job and humanize that area? Well, then apply. . . . See . . . .

In other news we drove out to the new Target to troll the aisles and gander at the prices and what we found was . . . meh.

It is good that what wound up there happened to be Target, which tends to be humane in its corporate treatment of employees, but we were not impressed with prices which varied wildly from fair to twice-as-much as Lucky's. As for selection, we found some abundance in odd areas, like sporting goods and kitchenware doodles, but absurdly wanting in practical areas, such as hardware, tools, automotive, housewares, etc. They did have a Hannukah endcap, but it was populated with geegaws. In other words the place has promise, but remains potential. The store has no pharmacy or eyecare center, which is a problem.

This Target is not exactly a go-to store for something specific you want for the house. It is a dawdle and dabble sort of place stocked with crystal knickknacks, ceramics, and girl's hotpants for people who want to ramble among the aisles. We wonder how long this sort of thing can survive in the flinty-eyed world of the practical Island where we are seeing so many businesses belly up in the post-recession time.

In the meantime, folks are gathering the Force to combat what is happening down there at Neptune Pointe (sic) and others are gathering to deal with the obscenities planned for the Point, which seem to have forgotten a major open space preserve for the Least Tern.


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

Hunting season is upon us.

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

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 in joyous abandonment so characteristic of nubile youth. O the apple-cheeks! O the firm thighs! O the short pants! O the delightful carnage rife with body fluids splashing about a la Tarantino!

Yes its time to prepare for that annual convocation of delight, mayhem, and bloodshed so enamored by so many Island-Lifers -- the Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ. We have posted the official rules for this year already, 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.

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

This year, the 15th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ shall be an august occasion replete with grand dignitarties from all sides of the political spectrum and plenty of delightful ultraviolence besides. It is hard to believe that we have enjoyed fifteen years of poodleshoots, but time passes and these sorts of things revolve with the slow turn of the years into our little Island Traditions. In fact every year is an august occasion with elements of high opera combined with the best aspects of Where's Waldo in that so many personages do make cameo appearances, it can be quite the enterprise for folks to comb through the after-poodle Report so as to identify themselves or a neighbor.

One can just imagine the joyous dismay on locating the visage of one's own Aunt Therese in the crowd, slinging an explosive morning-star with all the gusto of an octogenarian who has truely found and resurrected her savage, atavistic roots next to next generation's little Baby Booby Beeber trundling his inflammable diaper set in his kevlar onesie. Yes, this is quite the family event.

This year is especially significant in that Channukah crops up during the same time as the BBQ so we expect the side dishes with be tasty and kosher.

Devoted readers can click on the sidebar where this year's rules have been posted, along with acknowledgements for accomplishments in past years.

The weather finally began to turn around into something resembling Fall and more in other places. It's been gray and overcast and cool and people who are not self-deluded go around now with boots and jackets instead of shorts and flip-flops. Of course we do have our Denialists, our great Denialists, who insist that because this is California we therefore must enjoy three or more growing seasons -- makes no difference these growing seasons involve different crops. You see people out there planting corn and peas in October and of course these things do not do well -- the sunlight is a necessary component in this when you live in a latitude not far off from that of Maine and Vermont.

In Marlene and Andre's Household the various members have begun gathering in towards the warmth and dryness of shelter. The evening fogs have begun leaving dews that have driven Snuffles and bums like him to any old place where the bulls will not raid your camp and cart you off to some cold cell, bereft of your cartload of belongings. Snuffles creeps up in the night to the hole in the porch floorboards created during Javier's fiftieth birthday celebration which went so awry and neartl killed the entire Household. There the bum makes his secure camp for the storms of November are coming on for sure. This does not go unnoticed, for Marlene, angel of truth and justice, brings out a plastic bowl of bread soup and some day-old from Snob Hill and a bit of cheese, which he mumbles with his ruined mouth.

Others gather to this sanctuary of sorts as the temperatures drop, making sleeping on the beach difficult and the overnight sand restoration project impossible and Marlene finds a way to feed them all from the slim and bare cupboard, for that is the way she is, the ruined girl with the ruined womb and the pristine heart of gold. Victim of bullies, she grants succor to those who, like Tiresias, have crept among the lowest of the low.

Some enter into this arena romping and stomping like warhorses, like conquistadors. She is not like that -- she is among her own kind, those who have been brutalized and she wishes only that the conquistadors would go away with their pretense and leave her with her agony and her people with theirs alone and in peace.

In the warmth of the Old Same Place Bar there is a bustle and a scurry and period of quiet as folks murmur about the upcoming weather, as to how much rain we expect and how much cold now that Fall has settled in with certainty and the hobbitfolk make do with industry to make ready with their stores for the long cold season now advancing under the heavy premonitions of thundercloud. Winter is coming on and this is still the time of the Nazi striding triumphant across the land, whether he call himself a Jew or not, the hooked cross glares with power over us minor folk. There is no comfort in the Land of the Lost and the Roma remain hunted in every land, which of course means that no land for the gypsy can be called home.

Yet still in the shrubbery that borders the College the hedgehog pair keep their den, snug and dry and warm. There Don Guadalupe Erizo and his wife Dame Herisson cook up their crepes for dinner, chattering together affectionately their hedgehog language away from the strife of this terrible world. If only for a while.

We beg and plead that there be no more wars, no more atrocities, no more Angry Elves stomping with their big boots and raping. Yet this mild request seems too much for the little folk who inhabit the sedge.

In the Almeida household, Sarah Almeida kneels down to say her prayers and these prayers were for all the world. "Now I lay me down to sleep . . ." . And in this prayer this innocent girl prays for protection for the hedgehogs of the College shrubbery and the hobbitfolk of the tavern, and the Gypsy caravans along the Estuary and all this was observed from the periscope of the Iranian spy sub El Chadoor.

And it was a great wonder in that spy sub so far away from home how these people, so close to one another could be so cruel. Even as the season of thanks approached.

The Periscope descended and the submarine propelled itself out of the estuary and through the Golden Gate, running silent, running deep, out to the boundless and merciful Pacific Ocean.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the dispassionate water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood like mute sentries; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and haunted railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


NOVEMBER 3, 2013


This week's photo comes from Tammy. Apparently if you are to meet the Buddha along the road you are to ring his chimes.


The latest Island news has been largely about the Ron Cowan proposal to move the Harbor Bay Club in favor of building a number of upscale homes. Most letters and commentary have been solidly against the project, generally citing worsening traffic problems and population density.

There is a flap over the Animal Shelter, in which some people claim that the management there has taken to euthanizing animals without proper protocol and in far too speedy a fashion so as to avoid fuss and bother. Naturally the Shelter has responded in defense of its policy of putting down animals with behavioral problems, as these animals would probably be slow for adoption, and in case of adoption, would require special care.

Congrats to Sergio Silva, who won three competition medals in October, taking two golds in Santa Cruz at the US Open tournament in the Senior I heavy weight division. Silva owns and operates Team Silva Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on 1701 Lincoln Avenue.

Small businesses on the Island will need to get honest with the City, which is seeking to bolster revenues by hunting down those doing business here without proper permits. This kind of revenue generation by snagging fee evaders and imposition of subsequent fines is becoming big business by many governments across the country, including the Feds. A basic cottage industry home permit costs at the low end some $80 per year, depending on income, and the permit can be useful for smoothing the way in dealing with other government entities, so you might as well get over to City Hall and file. The City has hired Fresno-based Municipal Auditing Services to go for those fee evaders.


Here are some images taken by our staff photog as well as others of this year's Halloween house decorations.

Here is an introduction to Haunted Fairy land.


Haunted Fairyland . . .

Teddy bear's picnic and Red ridinghood.


A Goldilocks trophy, Jack's beanstalk, Alice's Mad Hatter . . .

Someone forgot to wake Sleeping Beauty . . .

Don't be afraid of this little guy crawling at you with burning red eyes and no legs . . .

Even businesses get into the spirit of the season. Paganos hardware has a classic install every year.


The bartender at the Lucky 13 dressed up as Regan from The Exorcist. Note the strategic placement of the crucifix. To safeguard maidenly virtue?

This popular display was photographed by Benjamin Lekashman.

Of course most of the displays look most impressive when lit up at night. Nancy Gray, of the Lunatic Asylum of St. Charles took these spooky images.



Fruitvale once again held the largest celebration of Dia de los Muertos outside of Mexico. The blocks around Fruitvale Station from 23rd to 27th and the big parking lot were blocked off for ofrendas, vendors of sucre calaveras, performance stages, and impromptue performances, including the famous Aztecas with their extraordinary headdresses.

It's America and vendors will take advantage of the crowds. No stall? No problem.

The ofrendas vary from the simple, including things that the deceased liked to eat, to the very elaborate.


For all the innocent children who have died. . .

Los Dias del los Muertos is a participatory festival. All share in their common grief.

There are many communal offrendas, such as this one commemorating all those who died by homicide in Oakland in 2013.

The Latin population is very conscious of its place in the world community. This is part of the Azteca ofrenda where their headdresses are stored prior to the incantations.

"This is Mr. Death. He is a reaper."

"To the virgins to make merry with Time . . .".

Like Life, this elaborate temporary display consisting of thousands of cinders and wood chips is destined to be completely destroyed in a day.

Being interviewed by Telemundo, one of the largest Spanish-speaking media outlets in the country.

Of course one can find some politics mixed in to spice things up. This one commemorates the "dirty wars" conducted by the CIA during tne 1980's. Another ofrenda commemorates all those murdered by graduates of the brutally savage School of the Americas located in Miami.

Detail from an ofrenda commemorating a well loved abuelita.

With all the gabacho noise about multi-generational legacies, it is easy to forget that the Hispanic population has been in Alta California for well over four hundred years. The rituals that invoke the "five directions" commemorate not only the recently deceased but also the ancestors. This ofrenda recalls five generations of one family's presence in Oakland. San Antonio was the name of the estate given to the Peraltas by way of desueno. It extended from San Pablo Bay down to roughly where Fremont now is located.

This is Don Piedro Liebres on display in a museum in Jalisco. In the old days, the poor purchased rented graves. When no one from the family showed up to pay the rent, the tenant was evicted. The bones typically were tossed into a charnel house, ground up, and then added to soil for crops or simply discarded with the trash. This was done here at Mission San Jose. The Don died recently enough to the end of this practice that upon his "eviction" his remains were taken by the government and put into a museum. Some people still remembered him as a local personality -- Piedro Liebres is a nickname, not his real family name. The maker of this ofrenda is trying to locate more information about him.


So anyway, Pedro went out during the uncertain weather time of autumn in his boat El Borracho Perdido, accompanied only by his faithful labrador, Tugboat. He motored through a brief bluster bit of weather and then the waves settled down to a rate and unearthly flat sea, a dead calm at night under the new moon. The moon, being New, remained as silent as would be expected. But the gentle, nearly imperceptible swells remained brightly lit by way of the broad band of stars that some say is the real heart of where our haunted planet spins out on the edge. Out there the whisps of the fog scraps glimmered by the light of stars and pilot house lamps, specters wringing their hands, lamenting, or simply passing from one room to the next.

It being calm and there being time before he arrived at the grounds, he took out his dogeared copy of You de Pongyou Pong Zi Yuen Fong, an anthology of translated classical Chinese poets and poured still hot black coffee from a thermos into a cup. Some people may express surprise that a relatively uneducated fisherman would pass the time reading poetry of any kind, let alone ancient Chinese, but those people probably lack some education as well.

drinking without a friend
I raise my cup
to invite
the bright moon
With my shadow
we make three . .

Well, the moon being new, the yardarm spotlight would have to do as a surrogate for the moon. Tugboat, always black and beside him dogging his heels would have to be his shadow.

For the moment
I'll make do
with moon and shadow

This year El Dias de los Muertos had been filled with cacophany as the kids built their ofrenda in the livingroom for their abuelta, gone now some five years. Now the kitchen was littered with sequins and clipped No. 22 wire used for armatures, modeling clay, acrylic paints -- a purple swash of which made itself into the carpet -- the scattered efforts to make sugar calaveras. In a little while , it would all get cleaned up by maman and the dead would go back to whatever place they inhabit the rest of the year.

Beyond the boathouse the spectral whisps continued their march across the black water, all heading back, all going home to the clouds above.

Meanwhile, Denby drew the shortest straw once again, thus restoring Tradition and giving poor Jose a reprieve. And so the musician was sent out by the Editor on his special mission on the night when the normal flow of things reverses itself.

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

He has tried drawing first. He has tried drawing last. He has tried drawing in the middle and he has tried to avoid the ritual altogether, but tradition is very powerful when the spirits are at work. It is 14 times now that he has suffered this bad luck.

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

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

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!"

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

As per Tradition. Crap.

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

"Hoo! Hoo!"

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

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

At the bonfire's edge a bright familiar voice greeted us, "Denby! Back again so soon?"

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

"Almost crossed over a few times during the past year, Penny," he said to the apparition.

"I know; I could feel it in my bones." She laughed. "Don't be so lugubrious! Come along, meet some people . . .".

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

As he stepped out of the sawgrass area to the hardpan of compacted sand, he looked up and down the beach to see a myriad bonfires arranged in a broad arc off into the distance. Strange words in another language reverberated inside the skull: "si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta . . ." the words echoing and echoing down long hallways of mirrors into eternity. None of this seemed to make any sense at all. It never did each time, even though this same thing happened time and again, like an old fashioned stuck record on a phonograph.

"I sure would like to know who's the big voice who keeps shouting things in Italian," Denby said.

"What are you talking about? Don't be silly," she said, skipping down the slope.

"Well . . . nevermind."

Another child, dressed in a private school uniform, but barefoot, ran between them laughing. She too, disappeared into the darkness.

They came to the bonfire where a number of people sat around on logs, pillows, blankets, talking.

An elderly, harsh-looking woman with flaming red hair sat in a straight-backed oak chair and glared at him.

"You reprobate. Have you made anything of yourself?"

"Olga." Denby said.

"You disgust me," Olga said. "You should have joined the Army or the Marine Corps."

"I was underage, Olga. When you tried to sign me up."

"Makes no difference. Plenty of others got around the rules. If they cared at all about what was happening at the time. You could have joined the Children's Crusade! The Crusade against Communism! History was on our side!"

"Olga, I would have been killed right away."

"So what! So what! You would have earned honor to yourself and the family. All those hippies -- I spit on them. We could have won that war. Save for weak ungrateful scamps like you. The Army would have made a man out of you!"

"A dead one, I assure you. Not very useful to already grown men in combat."

"I got others in there! I pulled strings and got them to Saigon! I did my part -- all through the Senator's office," Olga said.

Two figures wearing tattered army fatigues came jogging up to the camp there.

"Hello Johnny. Raymond."

They were arguing about something.

"It was at Ba Ap," the heavier fellow said. That was Raymond.

"No it was not . It was Ap Ba." Johnny said.

"O for pete's sake," Raymond said. "What difference does it make where you died? All the villages were the same and had nearly the same names."

"Now listen, I happen to think it is very important to know where I died. It is important to me."

"The village is meaningless!" Raymond exploded. "They were all meaningless except people died fighting for them! I don't care WHERE I died, the end result is the same!"

"Or we destroyed the village," Johnny said. "That made them really meaningless. Heck, for me its personal. I have to know."

Here I am, Denby thought to himself, listening to two dead people in hell's waiting parlor argue about where they died and how important it was.

Olga broke into this discussion with her own opinion. "The important thing is that you grabbed your bootstraps and you made yourself men through the forge of military service. All the others can go to hell!"

The two soldiers looked at her.

"You know, Denby," Raymond said. "That woman is really a bitch."

"Hey," Denby said. "That is my aunt you are talking about."

"Nasty little sniveler! Your mother had no right to haul your broken casket around to the church when she did. She was supposed to endure stoically the way a soldier's widow should!"

"Now you are talking about my mother, you old harridan you," Raymond said.

A couple translucent girls in nightdresses ran laughing through the crowd and vanished.

"Hey, that is my aunt . . .", Denby said, meaning Olga.

"Things do not seem to be very smooth this time around," Penny commented.

"What did she think she was going to find using her dead husband's powertools to crack open that casket sealed in the tropics? Some waxy figure with a pale face? Even so, she had no right to drag what she found, a body killed in the hot tropics with the casket wide open to the church! To the church!"

"I suppose it was because she found three arms in there," Raymond said calmly.

"So what! So what! War is ugly and hell. Everything she did ruined the nobility of it. The valor."

"I think, when my buddies had to go around and fetch body parts for several guys and toss them into a bag because the CO says do that, that is the thing that ruins valor for me. Just saying."

"You ingrate! Wretch The more that died, the better! All for our Country and Honor!" Olga was winding up for one of her famous diatribes, when suddenly she paused. She spit out a gold coin into the palm of her hand. It was the obolus.

"My time has come! I get to cross over! At last! At last! Good riddance to you ignorant people who still have something to learn! I am crossing now. . . ".

Indeed the glimmer of the ferry could be seen rapidly advancing toward the landing.

"I don't understand any of this," Penny said. "It sounds like the Vietnam War."

only god knows what dark energies, what howling emotions came to play

Raymond explained. He signed up on urging of his family and family tradition for the Marines. He was killed in combat and his body shipped back to Reston Virginia in a sealed coffin, where it resided prior to burial in the family garage. His grandfather had served in World War II and had died at Malmedy, been shipped back and buried with full military honors. His father had served in Korea, been wounded at Choisin Reservoir and died of complications from injuries a couple years afterwards and then buried with full military honors at Arlington. His two brothers had died in Vietnam, and both had been buried with full military honors. This left his mother as the last family representative and in that dark night of the soul only god knows what dark energies, what demonic emotions came to play in tat grieving mother's breast, for with herself alone in that house with that casket, she had used the power tools belonging to her husband to force open the metal casket lining in a kind of frenzy that only a deprived mother can understand, some kind of mindless, insane rage, to discover body parts for more than one person in that box. Sort of jumbled together.

So she hauled the casket and contents into the back of the station wagon -- they still made those things back then -- and drove to the church where she declaimed, "This is what your wars have done to my children!"

There had been something of a brough-haha then, for one of the arms had been distinctly Black.

That meant somewhere a Black soldier was unaccounted for. The resulting furor did have the positive effect of easing race relations in that district.

As for Johnny, he had been able to sign up underage because his father was a colonel and thought it a very good thing the waifish boy finally became a man, tempered by fire. Instead the firefight used him up.

the Ferryman with eyes that were wheels of fire

Olga strode down to the ferry dock with her flaming red hair, her eyes aflame with triumph and desire, confident her final reward was at hand. At the landing, the Ferryman with eyes that were wheels of fire, sorted out the souls, pushing some of them back with a long hook. Others he seized and threw into the skiff, roughly taking their obolus. The dog snatched some of them who tried to escape, and they began to wail, for now, too late, these souls knew that their destination would not be the City of Light. They had not learned anything during their time on earth or in Limbo. They had retained intransigence, contempt, scorn. The Ferryman hooked Olga with his gaff and tossed her in among the rest of them who began to wail, for this passage would not go West, but South, to the land of Dis, the lake of fire.

"Hey! That's my aunt!" Denby said. They ignored him.

"Well that is a funk," Penny said.

A tall man with grizzled hair came up to Denby and greeted him just as a bevy of girls ran by with their skirts flapping, their girlish laughter easing the air which lately had been so acrimonious.

Denby looked at the man, not remembering him precisely. He reminded Denby of the actor Morgan Freeman.

"Bin lung tyme sin eu spik da gullah," the man said.

"You Geechee-Gullah," Denby said.

"Ah, you remember."

"I don't know you," Denby said with wonder. "How are you meeting me?"

"Your great grand-uncle sew the wood as if cloth. He made things and he helped us in the early days. Because he could sew the wood he helped the trade between the Island and the Carolinas. That is the connection working its way through the blood down the generations. And you remember but do not remember me."

"This is amazing! This goes back generations, for hundreds of years and the escaped slaves of Sierra Leone!"

"Yes, the Dias de los Muertos are that way. I have been waiting for you a long time. Long time I wait."

Another girl, translucent, ephemeral, the way certain girls are of a certain age, light footed and quick, she ran between them off into the darkness.

"I remember a man named Vincent. It was the Carolina coast . . . but why now"?

"Vincent; that is me. You know we have an Island. Just like yours. Now time is come and all Gullah there lose homes. Carolina wants tax levy, even though we always independent, never slaves since Sierra Leone. We been there five, six, seven generations now. Young ones go away and sell the house to Ofay. Now the property tax and we lose it all. Island becomes the place of the wealthy, not the Gullah. The daughters of the dust go blow away through the world."

"Um okay. And what does this have to do with me?"

"You must see the Gullah is you."

"You must see the Gullah is you. You will lose your homes same way. All passing now this age. You must tell about this. Or you surely lose your Island."

Vincent started and removed a gold coin from his mouth.

"You have carried your message, Vincent. Now you are free to go."

"We Gullah always free," Vincent said. And with that he strode down to the landing where the skiff had pulled up to take on more passengers. It became clear that by the means the passengers were gently herded and others kept at bay by the dog, Cerberus, that this passage would head due West where a faint glow indicated the City of Light.

"Well," Penny said, "This has certainly been an unusual and educational visit, Denby. Have you any more delightful surprises?"

"I just saw a member of my family get dragged down to Hell. What more do you people want of me?"

"Unfortunately," Penny said, "There is always something more asked of you. We are a non-profit enterprise you know."

A figure walked past them dressed entirely in black and singing to himself.

And, everyone who ever had a heart
They wouldn't turn around and break it
And anyone who ever played a part
Oh wouldn't turn around and hate it!
Sweet Jane! Whoa-oh-oh! Sweet Jane! Sweet Jane!

He walked right down to the landing and nonchalantly gave up his fare for the passage.

"So how does this guy get a direct pass to the Other Side?"

"I suspect," Penny said. "He has suffered enough in this life."

A young girl ran up to Denby and stared at him with big dark eyes and he looked down at her with a mixture of feelings, of frustration and somekind of loss. "Papi?" she said. A faint odor of cinnamon and cloves wafted over him. Her eyes were large and deep as deep Carribean pools. And then she turned and ran off into the darkness.

An iron bell began to clan.

"Time to go back, Denby," Penny said ruefully. "I was hoping we could talk more this time."

"Not much these days seems to go according to what I like," Denby said.

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

Fling yourself into Life while you still have it

"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 evasive as she had been in life.

And after he climbed over that low wall, everything back there receded into a mist and there was only the stretch of water out to Babylon and the lights of Bayview and Hunters Point and the ring of the Coliseum. One by one the distant bonfires winked out until there was only the long and lonely empty length of beach with the lights of the apartment houses behind him.

Instead of going directly back to the Offices to make his report he wandered back to his own apartment cubbyhole. The sparse mite of a place now allowed by the savage landlord in his overweening greed in this time. There he poured himself a glass of wine, delaying the inevitable, thinking about those gone to the Other Side. Thinking about the moon.

I sing
and the moon
wavers to and fro
I dance
and my shadow
gets all mixed up

Eventually, he made his way back to the to the Offices where only the Editor sat there behind his desk, his eyeglasses perched on his nose and his remaining hair flying about in an aureole about his head.

"How was it this time," the Editor inquired, not expecting any sort of rational answer from someone who had just ascended like Orpheus from the Underworld.

Denby remained silent. The Editor went to the cabinet and broke out the Jamesons. He clinked several cubes of ice into the glass and splashed a goodly amount of whiskey in behind, then did the same for himself.

"Any idea how the midterm elections will go?"

"Somehow", Denby said, "That did not come up."

I am convinced that the misery of the world is a bottomless pit

"I have seen the world of the entire world's misery pass over the transome of this desk, you know," said the Editor. "Murder. Torture. Mutilation. The most horrendous crimes against humanity. The salt bread of exile and many things worse. And the average day-in-day out insensitivity and obnoxiousness we all take for granted. Sometimes I am convinced that the misery of the world is a bottomless pit, an ocean into which our tears blend without a trace. Always I hold out hope that there will be some sign that things will get better."

"I am not the person to say," Denby said.

"Taciturnity does not become you." The Editor relit his permanent cigar. "I am thinking about somebody now who is very far away, so far I doubt he even knows I exist any longer and some days I wonder what I would say to him or he to me. Probably no more than a joke. I had another friend who was a great practical joker. They tell me on his deathbed he opened his eyes wide and called someone over to whisper in his ear, 'The treasure chest of jewels and gold is located precisely under the . . .". and then he just closed his eyes and in a little while he passed away with a smile on his lips."

The two of them remained silent for a while with their drinks and the cigar, the unseen presence of another in the room. Or just the blank moon and the shadows. The mists gathered among the trees in the backyard, keeping Company in the hours before dawn.

We three
forever-silent friends
will meet some day
in the clouds up above.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the spooky water where the spectral gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood like metal demons with glowing arms, it quavered across the black waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and haunted railbed, it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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



OCTOBER 27, 2013


As it turns out there really is a blues song called "Chicken Cordon Blues", but as aficionados know the Blues and chicken shall be forever entwined. And well fried at that. We decided to pick up on the Ray Charles assisted tune in the first Blues Brothers movie.

This week's headline comes from Tammy's storehouse of treasures and features a little gal who could just as well be one under the care of Mrs. Almeida from our monologues. We had a lot of fun coming up with titles, as in Chicken Cordoned Blue, Picasso's Blue Fowl Mood Period, Hen's Azure, Coq au Bleu Sans Fromage, etc.

Anyrate now that we are getting rules about raising "livestock" on the Island -- where before hogs and beeves enjoyed seemingly unrestricted freedoms until some officious inspector came to fine your potbellied sow -- it seems appropriate to showcase this plucky lady.


We are back from a mini-vacation of sorts these past two weeks. Got a lot of stuff coming up and we see by the stats that the old readers who have been following us are flocking back for the big milestone issues.

Had a touch of pneumonia, but we are back in the saddle again.


Lots of great stuff happening now that we swing into the "Hollarday Season". The Fox Theater has a smashing series that kicked off with local boy Joe Satriani 10/26 this Saturday. Mark Knopfler will take over 10/28 that same venue. It may be cold along the tollgate, but the wagon is creepin' through. God knows what he is going to do to you.

Warren Haynes drives his Government Mule team beneath the gilt idols for 10/31 for some proper stomping and snorting, while the much more sedate Iron & Wine of Jim Beam, that impish Boy with a Coin, will take over on 11/1 for some acoustic delights.

For the magic date of 10/31, the Flaming Lips will present a Halloween Blood Bath at the Bill Graham Civic over in Babylon, while local boy Tommy Castro will wake the dead and ease the pain of Dias de los Muertos on 11/1 at Yoshi's in Oakland.

You may of heard of Joe Bonamassa. His tour kicks off 11/2, but he will not appear in Oakland at the Paramount until 12/6. You have better get your tickets now, however. The guy has put kick-ass back into the Blues, and he looks to be on a roll right now.

On the 11/2, Saturday, a benefit for Seva will feature, appropriately enough, the Blind Boys of Alabama beneath the purple chandeliers of the Fillmore. Seva is an international organization which provides medical eye-care services to people living in the Third-World. That event, hosted by Wavy Gravy, will also feature Dumstaphunk and Hot Tuna, which these days consists of originals Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy along with multi-instrumentalist Barry Mitterhoff. Dumpstaphunk is the brainchild of Ian Neville, and sometimes includes . . . well, some pretty remarkable talent in addition. GA Tix for that one going for $48, but VIP tix at $105 will include a post show meet and greet with the performers.

Word has it Richard Shindell's next tour will again remain on the East Coast.

Somewhat of an eye-opener was the item about "Resurrect Sex Workers Fundraiser Day of the Dead Celebration happening at . . . The Fireside on Webster Street here on the Island 11/1, which is a Friday. Fundraiser? All proceeds will go to legal defense fun for Erotic Service Providers. Well, it should be interesting.

Our Oaktown Peralta House Museum, the last vestige of the grand estate that once stretched from San Pablo Bay down to Fremont and the Mission San Jose, will host a Halloween party at the 1879 Hacienda house. That one is free and runs 5pm to 7pm. Location is Coolidge Avenue around 35th near the Patton Christian Acadamy.

The Oakland Museum continues its 19th "Days of the Dead Community Celebration" in the Hall of Natural Sciences and the Fruitvale District will again have a street closure near the BART station for its special display of personal ofretas and the ever popular Aztec dancers.

Over in Babylon they'll be having the usual range of riotous and raunchy delights, as in the Hooker's Ball, the Exotic Erotic Masquerade, and the Fencesitter's Ball (for those who just cannot decide which way to swing).
Word has it that these entertainment have gotten more infected with ennui and scads of folks just not trying, as if the Bush years had worn everybody's interest down to a nub what with all the outrageous malarkey juggled in public by that Administration of Clowns.


So anyway, all hell broke loose in the Island-Life offices when it came time for the annual drawing of straws. Because Denby was accompanied the last time in an highly unusual situation involving Jose and a wheelchair that went exceedingly against Tradition, people started going nuts with anxiety now that it seemed just about anything could happen.

Jose, the wheelchair pusher and chanter of his grandmother's Inca Spell ("Okay, say "tahui" four times. Repita!""What means 'tahui?" "Heck if I know," Jose said. "Mi abuelita told me to say it just like that.") was totally petrified to the extent of forgetting all of his English as well as all of his native Spanish as well.

Outside the Offices a front had kicked in from the Arctic and banshees were knocking the tree limbs and howling all about the chimney.

Rachel found the coffee pot inexplicably inoperable and offered to go on a run to Starbucks. Which the Editor forbade, ordering her to sit. This is not something one tells a New Yorker expat, but the Editor remained stern.

"Habberdy jibberty wooble foo woot an wooten kanickickerbocker . . .".

"Jose," Rachel said, "If you cannot remember your languages just shut up." Sigh. "I want a beer."

"Hey!" Denby said. "Who took the hinges off the bathroom door?"

The Editor relit his permanent cigar. "We'll have no more lavatory sequesters and no childish government shutdowns on MY watch." He rattled the hinge screws in his waistcoat pocket.

"Humperty boo." Jose said, shivering with fear.

"Jose, shut your filibustering. You make as much sense as the Pee Tardy Party," said the Editor. "And you Festus, quit pretending that you are hunting for something in the circular file. Come on out!"

Festus, the Island-Life messenger hamster, poked his head up above the brim of the wastebasket. "Just looking for nesting material, boss. Isn't this a human only sort of thing?"

"Get up on the table you wretched rodent or there will be no more nuts for you!" scowled the Editor.

Everyone in the office went "Oooooooooo!" at that and Festus scampered up on the desk beside the inbox.

"Hey," someone said. "The coffeepot wasn't plugged in . . . Now it's working . . .".

After the Editor made sure everyone was in attendance, with a special interactive hologram for the Euro desk glimmering in a roll chair, he had Rachel fetch the Official Cup of Straws. As Rachel came gliding along the aisle the way dance instructors of certain experience will do, Jose unceremoniously fainted and fell down.

Javier kicked him until the kid got up again to sit wan and shaking in a chair.

Now what this Tradition is all about, to inform newcomers to the Life here is the Annual Drawing of Straws to determine who must follow the same path that Orpheus, Ulysses, Persephone, Virgil with his Italian Companion, Nicholas Cage, and a very few of others, have done through the ages. The Island-Lifer's charge was to go down, sniff about so as to gather good information about what the future might hold, and, of course, come back. Otherwise there was no point to it all, really. That the fellow or gal, whomever it might be, must do. They must return through what generally is regarded as a one-way door.

This, by Island-Life Tradition over the past fifteen years, always takes place on the last day of Los Dias de Los Muertos, which in the past has been the night after October 31. What makes this trip so much more terrible - in addition to the fear of Death, the infernal Ferryman with wheels of fire for eyes, and the three-headed dog, the usual accouterments of howling, wailing, eerie specters, etcetera and so on -- is that the visitor must encounter all the people he or she has known and who have passed beyond. This is not exactly comfortable. This is not exactly fearful -- necessarily. One can only imagine it. It is definitively wretched and tearing to the soul on a case by case basis.

Perhaps we shall get the good Richard Dawkins to do a study on the matter. He probably has the tools and necessary know-how to get the metrics of everything. All the emotions involved. Even, the metric of lost desire. Of lost hope.

Naturally this not entirely all the way over on the Other Side. That path is forbidden and no one has gone there. Well, maybe Virgil and his friend Alighieri Possibly Milton. Doubt it about Milton, though; he liked Oliver Cromwell, and that is not a sign of humanity nor perceptual acuity. Still, no one knows for sure. No, this place is a waiting place where souls abide for a while, to learn something, pay a final debt, figure out which direction to go from there. Call it Hell's Anteroom. Or just Charon's Wharf.

So you see nobody wants the short straw on this one. Traditionally, for 13 years, Denby drew the short straw. Even on the 14th he drew again bad luck. But confined to a wheelchair at the time, he needed a second for that trip.

So the big question this time around -- actually several big questions but mainly this: would the previous year's break cause a new game of chance? Or would Tradition reassert itself. The clock ticked. The tension mounted. Everyone's nerves on edge.

"I am all for a new game," Denby said. "How about we get the dice and cup from the Yahtzee set . . .".

The Editor told him brusquely to shut up. And told Rachel, as the cupbearer, to draw first.

"Okay I am closing my eyes . . . I am reaching in . . . O god, o god, o god, o god, O! O! O! O! O no! O yes! Yes, yes, yes, yesyesyesyes! Not me! Yippee! O gawd! Yesssss!"

"Well, I am glad it was good for you, Rachel. I too, felt a little something just listening to you, the Editor said, dryly. "Next!"

"Can I have a drink now?" Rachel asked.

"O for pete's sake. Next!"

The 3D specter of Hildegard stood up and walked over to the cup. She reached down with a ghostly finger and a longish straw arose from the cup.

"Oy gott sei dank!" said Hildegard.

"How did you do that?" Denby said. "She's just a transmission!"

"The magic of Cloud Virtualization," said the Editor. "Next!"

One by one, each by each, the staffers drew their straws and reacted each according to his character. Javier removed his straw and put it between his teeth while leaning against the wall with his arms folded, grinning his macho grin.

Jose fell off his chair.

As for Denby . . . "Crap!" Tradition had been restored. There a little giddy party erupted while folks clapped Denby on the back and commiserated, each more or less secretly glad it was not him or her. Someone got out champagne. Someone else put on music. Chris Smither's "Train Home".

Later as relieved folks whooped it up Denby sat on the iron landing with Rachel and a bottle of tequila between them while Rachel smoked a cigarette between hits off the bottle.

"What's it like over there," Rachel asked.

Denby commented she could always go in his place and find out.

Rachel demurred. "Too many skeletons in the closet already." The wind blew in gusts, making the huge box elder writhe as if alive in the fitful glow of the motion detector light mounted above the garage. "Its been fifteen times now. Each time you come back you took paler, more shaky, like you are closer to some other world. Or you are headed to turn around any moment to go back there and not return."

"Lets not talk about any more," Denby said.

Life in the Old Same Place Bar carried on riotously and with great zest for a noted Celebrity had returned to enjoy his favorite dark beer. The silver-maned gentleman with the distinguished beard regaled the regulars there with stories of his prize-winning guacamole, his ghost pepper salsa, his nearly capturing the Olympic gold medal in tandem luge, the time he zip-lined a perilous track down 5,000 feet in elevation during a forest fire by shooting a crossbow loaded with parachute cord at one tree crown after another. He sat with two gorgeous women, a platinum blonde wearing crushed red velvet, and a stunning redhead wearing a jet black gown hanging onto each arm.

He was, of course, The Most Interesting Man in the World.

"All of this may be interesting to you, but I am bored of such adventures. The mako shark is really not such a bad fellow and I would loath having to kill another one. And the Bengal Tiger, I have to tell you I am rather fond of the Bengal Tiger; he is more endangered than dangerous. But there is one thing -- perhaps two things -- I simply must share with you. For one cannot be interesting unless one shares what one has. And being interesting means also cultivating all one's gifts, especially the heart. Not true?"

All had to agree to that.

"My friends, I do not donate every day, but when I do I give to at least two wonderful organizations. The first is Clear Path International. These are truly courageous, wonderful people with a few interesting stories of their own. When I met Colin King he had his head and torso inside a metal tube with fins on it and I said to him, 'My dear sir what do you have in there?' And he calmly responded, 'About three kinds of explosives plus about 12 pounds of napalm and 80kg of phosphorous. I am defusing this bomb right now and I should not stand there if I were you'."

All ears were rapt.

"Clear Path International engaged in the largest bomb and mine removal project ever conducted in the world and that was in Vietnam after the war there was over. They now handle the rehabilitation needs of civilians injured by mines throughout the world. And you know they really are interesting, so I help them out when I can. You can as well if you have a computer. You Madame. You have a computer do you not?"

"Of course sir. We all do."

"Madame, you look mahvelous, as my old friend Fernando used to say. In that case you can go to CPI.ORG and learn all about what they do cleaning up other people's messy business."

Suzie brought another round of dark bottled beers to the Man.

"My dear you look absolutely delightful, but I'll bet you are near dead on your feet as I guess by looking at the hour. You shall not have to bring another round. And remember, it is better to look good than feel good."

He turned back to his audience. "My friends, you must know that to be truly interesting you must always hold the heart of a child in your heart. Maybe run the risk of being called childish at times. This charge you can do by helping children, for I have been told by a wiser man than me that anything you do for children is never wasted. That is why another group I like to help out once in a while is called Freearts Organization. These very interesting people put artists together with kids who have had someone try to steal their childhood away. You know what happens -- the sudden seriousness. Broken bones. Bruises. Nightmares. Worse things than you can imagine, for as the poet says, "some monsters must slumber or they wake to devour us." My friends, although there indeed are true monsters out there, there also are my friends at Freearts who match up artists with kids who have been abused. You so fortunate to live in a place where everyone has computers. You can go to"

The Most Interesting Man in the World stood up to go. "My friends the hour is late and I must be on a plane tomorrow to Cambodia to handle another problem that concerns children. I bid all of you adieu and hope that sharing my little hobbies has not created ennui among you."

"My good man," a woman said as Jose and Javier came in through the door, giddy about their sudden release from doom. They greeted the MIMITW in Spanish. "My good man, I so adore your accent. Where are you from?"

"Ah, well I just came from my boat in Monterey. But do you Madame, also love this man's accent here?" He indicated the rather haphazardly mussed Jose.

"Ah, well, he does have an accent," the woman said. "I've heard him."

"When a person has an accent, it means they can speak one more language than you," said the Man. And with that, he left.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 14, 2013


This weeks photo comes hopping via Farcebook friends from John Curley.


This week we are taking a little break to recover from pneumonia and tidy up some administrative matters, including getting the Island-Life Stories section up to speed. For newbies, this section includes reposted and rewritten "monologues" featuring the various characters who re-appear from time to time, including Bear, the Iranian Spy Submarine in the estuary, Marlene and Andre's Household, and Eunice the Moose.

We will try to gather together our dissolute radio-active actors, and try to keep them off drugs long enough, so as to foist yet another execrable work of faux-musicianship and drama on CD. This CD has been known to cause both Professor Schikele and Al Yankovic to retch violently in disgust.

We will return to the Island Life News Offices where the dreaded annual drawing of straws shall pursue Tradition, the end result determining which unlucky soul must cross through the ominous gates and follow that terrible path right up to the Landing of the Infernal Ferryman, there to learn from Those Who Have Passed what the future holds for us all.

The Editor will do anything for a scoop.

After that, we step into the mush of November and you know what that means. The 14th Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ. We wonder what celebrity from the augustan estates of Washington D.C. will attend this time.

Much to ponder. And now, as Mr. Peyps used to say, to bed.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


OCTOBER 6, 2013


This week's nautical photo comes from Island-lifer and sailorgirl Tammy.


We'll be taking a little break for a week or two to recharge the batteries, possibly doing a mini-issue. The Snublican Party has put the kibosh on a Mountain Sabbatical this year -- all parks are closed.


Some carnival stuff happened near downtown on a weekend of gorgeous weather that followed a couple blustery sirocco days. A lot of folks got out and about and of course, this was the weekend of the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival out there at Hellman Meadows in Babylon. Warren Hellman has passed away, but made sure to leave an endowment that will ensure the festival, featuring the best and the brightest in music for three days, continues for another decade. As usual the ageless goddess, Emmylou Harris, finished up the fest as final performer.

Due to illness we canceled a number of attendances this weekend, but we expect the wildly popular festival drew another percentage of a million folks to enjoy Steve Earle and similar roots musicians.

We just wonder who is inhabiting the "silver suit" wandering the grounds nowadays.

Closer to home administrators celebrated the ongoing efforts of the beach sand restoration project in which an offshore barge is pumping sand through a 14 inch pipe to the Strand. The idea is to return the profile of the beach to its 1986 footprint. Which, come to think of it, marks the last time a beach restoration project was completed.

Time and tides wait for no one.

Our Dizzney Small World After All sort of self-image took a bruising when protesters kiboshed a planned flag-raising ceremony that would have honored the dubious "sister city" status with a burg in the PRC and commemorated "National Day". Well in advance the Chinese consul begged off attending this controversial ceremony on report that Tibetan protesters would also attend.. Protesters came to remind people of China's forcible occupation of Tibet as well as the brutal crackdown on the Tianamen Square demonstrators a few years ago in which tanks ran over unarmed civilians.

Chinese National Day is diffidently celebrated in several Bay Area cities as a measure of recognizing our large Asian populations. San Leandro recently approved a flag-raising ceremony during a meeting so contentious that the assembly is planning to reconsider its decision.

So okay, why not have a pan-Asian festival with Japanese sumo wrestlers and sushi chefs together with Chinese scarf dancers combined with Imperial Circus acrobats and Indian mahouts riding elephants and Pakistani food concessions and Vietnamese Pho. Toss in some Israelis and some Palestinians and Lebanese for good measure and stir fry in a wok with tons of kim chee -- nevermind the boshintang. All together. Everyone happy and in one harmonious blend of Orientalism seasoned with Falun Gong.

But raising the flag of the PRC to recognize all of Asia?

Where is Edward Said when we need him?

On a more homey note, the Target out at the Point is set to open next week, while the Walgreens megastore located on the former site of Goode Chevrolet has just begun construction and is expected to open in Spring of next year.

The Letters to the Editor remain entertaining and provocative. More letters protest "Ron Cowan's Latest Plan" which refers to his company's attempt to build 80 homes on the site of the present day Harbor Bay Club. We had thought nobody cared about that location -- and apparently Cowan's people thought the same -- but it seems people are quite up in arms about shifting the club from a rather charming location to a place located directly under the main flight path of Oakland International Airport. Try focussing on your backhand swing on the courts underneath the roar of a 737. Someone else asks people not to heed "a bunch of malarkey" about the McKay Avenue boondoggle and an OpEd piece calls for a "Change in Leadership" over the multiple dwelling developments now in the works, citing the demonic dimension of traffic.

An Editorial on the miserable state of health care in the Golden State, as compared to other states (we rank 20 out of the 50 state selection) reminds us about the tragicomic results of the ludicrous government shutdown engineered by callous jackasses in Washington. This entire shutdown was meant to be a protest against the healthcare reform initiatives termed by the Conservative party as Obamacare.

It is wildly ironic that, since the Executive Branch determines essential services that must remain open, Obamacare swung into action on October 1st and essentially locked the programs into place as a defacto law-enforced structure. The entire shutdown has been rendered meaningless save for the harm it causes the country domestically and world-wide and there is virtually nothing the Republican Party or its extreme branch of Tea Baggers can do about it, like it or not. It was passed into law by a bipartisan coalition the way government is supposed to operate, with neither side getting all of what it wanted.

Protesting the debt ceiling at this point is a damaging charade of posturing, as defaulting will invalidate any debt ceiling gains in the past and cause interest payments to skyrocket, ruining the nation's credit. At this point the Democrats are gleefully celebrating almost certain wins in the House next election cycle due to the dissatisfaction with Congress, as many people see quite rightfully that the GOP has given over to extremists who do not mind harming the Republic for the sake of making futile and idiotic points. This, we must remind you, is no way to win power in a Democracy. That one party should be so obtuse, so resistant to common sense, so heedful of absolute mindless moronic idiots among their constituency, and so insistent on a clearly destructive path is no way to gain power, for people are not persuaded then by reason but by avoidance. The end result is sure to end in tyranny.


So anyway, a brisk sirocco blew in sending local temperatures into the eighties as a consequence of Pacific typhoons. Howard Schecter has forecast a dry Sierra October and we are looking at a gradual temperature decline into something reasonable for this time of year. Unfortunately for folks seeking high altitude respite and taking advantage of warmer than usual temps at elevation the intransigent Party has shut down the parks and park access to the best locations. Despite all that the aspens are turning their leaves in the foothills rising up the slopes and autumn pursues its annual rite of changes.

Now is the time when shadows reach across the road with cold penumbras dictated by the fading lights and things fade into colors of burnt umber and oranges and browns. The scent of blown leaves mingles with the exhaust that now pervades our days. We are coming up on the most terrifying days at Island-Life, when Denby must perforce pursue Tradition and descend to that awful place from which no traveler -- save Denby -- is allowed to return. We are coming to the august 14th annual Poodleshoot and BBQ, which is always an event not to be missed.

The days are fraught with anticipation and histrionic buildup. Just as they are the calmest days of the year, embedded into deceptive Indian Summer, so hard to get warm now, so easy to get burned.

So now as the dregs of the year drain into the limiting possibilities and scenarios we see the following: Wally's son, Joshua, remains harbored in dubious sanctuary at the Greek Orthodox Church where he took flight after whistleblowing the illegal wiretapping conducted by Hometown Security Aegis of Alameda. Mr. Terse and Mr. Spline have been taking turns watching the front door of the church, hoping to snag the traitor/whistleblower for some weeks now.

He has been able, however to periodically escape this false imprisonment by pursuing secret tunnels delved many years ago by the LDS neighbors, risking only encounters in those dank Mormon tunnels with the notoriously savage horror of the Taetzelwurm, described in other pages by sages more wise and knowledgeable and dispatched with some effort and attention with nothing less than a solid Smith and Wesson .45 caliber pistol. The tunnels were delved ages ago, supposedly by the First People who preceded the Ohlone, and were subsequently enlarged for the Latter Day Saints to store their gold and be used potentially as means of escape should California prove as unfriendly as other parts of the Country. Few go through there these days without substantial company and decent firepower, for in those tunnels which descend to regions not seen since the god turned aside his face dwell creatures like the chupacabra and the Taetzelwurm, which arise from the fetid darkness of some diseased intertextual imagination more fantastical than Tolkein or Pynchon.

Over at the Native Son's Parlor 33 1/3 the budget impasse has resulted in a totally frozen set of conditions. Wally has sequestered himself into bathroom with the Encinal Cheerleading squad causing a total moratorium on Encinal games and also resolution to the Parlor budget which causes a cessation in all Parlor projects, including the ones seeing amelioration of birth defects in newborns. People listening through the door hear what sounds like Wally filibustering one or all of the cheerleaders with Penthouse letters.

Quite a lot of people are pissed. Especially since no one can use the bathroom.

Swinging into October, the Island and the entire Bay Area prepares for that month-long orgiastic festival known as Halloween, culminating in the night of trick-or-treat and El Dias del Los Muertos when strange creatures walk the shadows and the Dead return, and Denby returns -- unwillingly -- to visit the Dead.

Speaking of strange creatures, Old Schmidt is in the Old Same Place Bar entertaining Suzie with tales of the strange creatures he has seen in his travels back in the day when he worked as a merchant seaman.

"Ja, de strangest creature I haff zeen was certainly the Wolperdinger. This fellow inhabits die Alpen and in form and shape resembles an elongated bear. Ja. Mit de wuschelkopp und de ears and furry like nobody's business. Und because he liffs all his life on the hillside, the two legs on one side are shorter than the odder. So he can only run in the one direction. For evermore."

"Have you ever seen a unicorn?" Suzie asked.

"Bah! De unicorn is fantasy! It is not real anymore. Totally extinct."

"I don't want to believe that!"

"My dear, only a pure knight of unquestioning honor or a virgin can find a unicorn. Nowadays, just look at the twelve-year old girls and the way they dress! Not to mention the Hannah Montana. So ein Schlampe! It is quite impossible."

The conversation at the bar turned to the government shutdown and politics, fantastical made-up pseudo-realities and the modern day Republican Party. Babar, who possesses unimpeachable qualifications as a True Conservative, so Conservative he wears two pairs of pants, was of the mind that his party needed no costumes for the season as they all appeared to milling about towards Halloween dressed like dunderheads with duncecaps already.

Padraic was doubly disappointed to hear about Hannah Montana, for he had wanted to dress Suzie -- or undress her more precisely -- as Miley Cyrus, but Dawn really put her foot down. Hard. So hard all the glassware had rattled behind the bar.

Indeed, Suzie thought, or perhaps spoke to someone. Sometimes it seems that all magic had left the world, leaving us groping for processed visions that promise some kind of larger cosmos -- UFO's, the Loch Ness Monster, haunted houses. As if the mysteries we do have for real are not enough.

After the bar had closed, the unusually warm night air drifted scents of leaves and that tree which always smells like a wet dog come in from the rain. Chrysanthemums along the fence had suddenly erupted again with their sharp perfume and remnants of the sirocco stirred the upper branches of the trees along Lincoln Avenue while recessed pools of shadow behind the low picket fences of the yards with their arched trellis gateways draped with roses and trumpet vines seeped mysterious odors of other flowering plants. The unusually warm air had enchanted the night and as Suzie turned to look at a noise she saw a form of some horse-like shape in the Abodanza's hedged and bushy front yard. It turned its massive head and blurred in outline, Suzie saw, or thought she saw a tine protruding from the thing's head.

From that front yard drifted the unmistakable horsey scent of a very large animal and Suzie gasped, stepped backwards and promptly fell off the curb into the street, landing on her rump and jarring her eyeballs. After she had picked herself up, the apparition had disappeared. Startled, no doubt, when she had cried out.

She strode home briskly, her head going a mile a minute, wondering about this vision. In the end, as she brewed a cup of chamomile tea. After downing a couple shots of Patron, she decided to tell nobody about what she had seen. She hardly a virgin anymore and she did not want people talking about the impossibility. Nevertheless, she did feel a little special. So she had another shot.

Meanwhile, Eunice, Wootie Kanootie's ever eloping female moose ambled from the Abodanza's yard over to the Almeida's, but Tugboat's loud barking sent her in a loose shamble over to the Cove where she was wont to go when she escaped from the herd Wootie kept in a corral near the base of the Park Street Bridge. There she would stand knee deep in the marshy rushes, listening to the geese collecting overhead and smelling the salt sedge reminiscent of distant Ontario. And that is where the weary Wootie Kanootie, famous Canadian moose tamer found her to bring her back home.

The mystery is how she keeps on getting out of the corral, and Wootie worried someone may have seen her. He did not need to worry, for no one would ever speak about these things.

In the Iranian spy submarine AIS Chadoor that drifted now in the San Francisco Bay, a visibly disturbed Omer came up to the First Mate, Mohammed, saying he had seen something extraordinary through the porthole, normally sealed up so as to avoid emitting traitorous light. But Omer had been taking to closing that area off with the lights off and opening the seal to gaze at the aquatic life swimming by.

"It was a woman! Or half of one!"

"A woman! Was she drowned and dead?"

"No, she had green eyes and she waved at me!"

"A woman in the middle of the Bay. At night. How could you see this woman, Omer? She cannot be there."

"She was lit by a phosphorescence from below. I don't know where it came from. But she is real, I tell you! Her arms were slender and she wore a veil of seaweed!"

"Omer, I think it has been too long since you have been with a real woman. Now you are seeing djinns and visions. Go to bed."

So Omer returned to his bunk, mentally notching the note never to speak about what he had seen to anyone again. And he fell into a deep sleep and dreams of swimming among the fishwomen.

Meanwhile an aquamarine tail three feet wide at the flukes slapped the water's surface and a girlish laugh drifted over the choppy Bay as the spy submarine ran silent, ran deep, out through the Golden Gate to the open sea.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the gentle waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and silent chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


SEPTEMBER 29, 2013


Feast your eyes while it still stands.


Oaktown touted it and we got scads of promo, so over to Oaktown we went for the "Eat Real Festival", which presented itself as a major foodie sort of thing at Jack London. Okay, so we went with jaundiced eyes, expecting overpriced this and that and much hullaballoo about not so much other than merchants seeking another dollar.

As it turned out, the three-day semi-street fair turned out to exceed expectations, largely because unlike the ballyhooed Outside Lands and Treasure Island and Coalinga festivals, no exhorbitant entrance fee was applied and some genius set the max cost per food plate at just five bucks. In addition, the vibe was uniformly pacific and friendly. No gang bangers broke up the celebration, nobody got into a knife fight and nobody got shot. The cops all looked laid back and relaxed.

People from all places and races mingled without any static, making this festival a grand triumph of color and flavor for embattled Oaktown which finally had a chance to show the world the joyful, vibrant, living color of which it is made. Vendors drove trucks from as far away as Birmingham, Alabama to show up here, and the result was more than just all right.

We sampled noodles from Cera Una Volta and Vietnamese beef stew redolent of lemon grass and anise and also hot pepper sauces and dips from a variety of vendors.

We never attend a festival without music and were fortunate to catch Mirage doing their latin jazz thing at the main stage on Saturday. Mirage has selected an unfortunately popular name for their group, as seemingly hundreds of bands across the country have glommed onto this moniker. Anyway, this incarnation featured Chazz Alley on sax for the duration of the gig.

There was lots of good food and good people and pleasant vibes with excellent weather and no Angry Elves and so a fine time was held by all.


School is in session so be on the watch for careless kids crossing at intersections, especially around the old highschool on Encinal. Remember when you were a goofy, unaware teen? Okay then . . .

The Sun misreported the name of those bigwheel vintage 1800's bicycles that appeared during the Alameda Origins Bike Tour. Those devices were called "Pennyfarthings" and were the first machines to be termed "bicycles," whereas the machines it replaced were solid-wheel "velocipedes". The large front wheel, although increasing danger for the rider, made for a far superior and comfortable ride over bumps. Many of the original velocipedes, lacking rubber tires and springs were -- somewhat -- affectionately called "boneshakers."

Their heyday extended from about 1869 when the wire spoke wheel was first put into use until about 1890.

The invention, or say rather the application, of the pneumatic tire by John Dunlop in 1888 and the chain drive effectively put an end to the need for an oversized front wheel. By 1893 the colorful machines had ceased being produced in favor of the "safety bicycle."

The City is looking at a sounder financial situation now that lawsuits over the defunct telecom enterprise appear to be on the way to be quashed. The City won the suit levied by investors who felt misled by false promises regarding the failed venture in telecom.

There is a bit of brouhaha over Comcast cable fees which the City collects off of cable service bills. Chabot College claims it is owed the money because its television station provides programming resources for Alameda-based public programming.

Chabot is claiming that DIVCA fee charges on subscriber bills, created in 2011 by Alameda ostensibly to raise money for educational programming, should be turned over to Chabot. The amount generated is about $374,000 since 2011.

Comcast collects these fees and turns them over to the City, which has used the funds for City Hall capital improvement projects that are related to broadcasting.

Clearly Chabot would like something for the use of its resources, but it stands on shaky ground when it comes to fees that were originated by the City for its own purposes.

Finally, S&P upgraded the City's bond rating from AA to AA+, citing strong financial management here and an improved Bay Area economy. This bond upgrade means the City will save close to half a million dollars in lower interest payments.
This news may quash any of the rumors of City Hall insolvency which got bruited about last year.

Letters to the Editor and even a front page item in the Island Gerbil indicate rising irritation with at least two proposed development projects. The Cowan outfit that wants to move the Harbor Bay Club is hitting some pretty strong resentment over the inclusion of 80 homes on Harbor Bay, which many feel is already too crowded.

The other project is the variously named McKay Avenue/Neptune Pointe (sic) that is proposed for the spit of land adjoining Crab Cove and which the EBRP wanted to annex for administrative purposes to Crown Beach. Other than some members of City Hall and, of course, the developer, nobody seems to want this project to fly. The people who live down there do not want it and the general populace of the Island does not want it, preferring the land be rezoned back to its original use. Somebody at GSA seems to have gotten into a Balkanized territorial hissy fit over the little plot and so strange threats keep coming from that quarter without attribution. It would be good if one of the investigative bloggers got some names and titles from that direction to find out just why the massive federal GSA gives a fig about what happens to the tiny bit of property there.

In this post-911 world the local governments are all looking to establish contingency plans fitting their scope and size. The County has not one but two Emergency Offices to which the surviving council members are supposed to retreat in the event of disaster. The older and more well-known EOC is bunkered out at Santa Rita beside the Sheriff Department's firing range.

Well, we humble islanders will be getting one as well, to be located at Grand and Buena Vista near the long closed Firestation #3. Last June voters rejected a sales tax that would have paid to replace the current shelter in the basement of the main police station as well as the old fire station, but the Council voted to refinance lease revenue bonds originally intended for earthquake retrofitting of City Hall. The S&P upgrade makes this project more feasible.


So anyway, after the recent dockwalloper, the sun has returned to bathe the earth in golden hues however the shadows thrust themselves across the paths at a different, longer angle than only a few days before. The kids are about in shorts and sandals however the oaks along Central Avenue have taken on an umber tone to their leaves. The Canadian geese suddenly became numerous overnight and squadrons of other birds arrow through the low skies.

Now is the time when old Gaia turns her weathered face

Now is the time when old Gaia turns her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes away from the direct gaze at her son, Phoebus Appolo riding in his hot bright chariot as she sits and rocks ever so slowly in the ticking wicker chair, the folds of the quilted Universe draped across her lap, the rocking becoming the dance of Shiva, the ticking the ever ceasless count of time's advance, ticking each second, each century, from the first moment of creation until that rocking chair comes to the moment of that last terrible silence and motionlessness.

As Gaia turns her face away from the light, the world enters into that time of cold pristine shadows with measured steps and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment. The children shouting and running around the entrance to the Adelphian Hall which now is a sort of church run by a sect of "charismatic" Xians who believe that the minister there is come as an apostle. Tomorrow is another school day and they are busy enjoying the time they have before being sent to bed and then to the terrific droning waste of time that is sitting at a desk looking at the chalkboard or a book while magnificent fleets of birds sail free across the sky outside.

Some may sense that this droning desk is just a foreshadow of the future to come, sitting in a cubicle with blue-grey nap and a computer screen for hours broken only by the annoyance of the next generation of adult bullies roaming the corporate playground. Hence the wild screaming abundant joy of children who are not yet damaged. The droning three hours supplied by the charismatic apostles of La Luz del Occupado Parking Place was bad enough.

Over at the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor 33 1/3 there has been a great commotion all over the budget battle bettween the Pee Tardy folks and the Libation group. The Libation group is aiming to redirect funds to free beers and the Pee Tardy folks want to invest funds from fees and special events into hedge funds and the revivified real estate mortgage market. A main sticking point concerns the health benefits administered by Eugenia Felcher. Some see the health benefits as a service coverage. Some see the benefits as insurance.

The groups are at such loggerheads that a virtual shutdown of club activities appears inevitable and there is much handwringing and argumentation over this. One member, Charley Bluster, went so far as to filibuster debate and up or down vote by reading the entire canon of Dr. Seuss. His rendition at the start of his filibuster of The Cat in the Hat was emotional and full of nuance, but by the time he got to Green Eggs and Ham, the entire place was asleep and Charley droned on and on, barely a living human being. Some wag did comment that this seemed a curious statement to the vox popli about the maturity of Representative Bluster's political party.

Last week things decayed into a melee that involved gunshots, tossed soup tureens, and ultraviolence, involving Wally's .50 caliber pistol and herds of rats and people standing on chairs, which would have shocked the most stoic Stanley Kubrick fan. Or even Tarantino. It got that bad.

A few of the membership have voiced concerns, toowit how does all this acrimony benefit the constituency. The response has been tart and brief. "Mind your business. We have Ideology at stake here."

Down the street the organizers for the Fighting Otters Lemonade Stand fundraiser got into a similar, albeit smaller tiff over budgetary issues. This tiff was smaller due largely to the fact that the organizers were all students at Edison in the Grades 1 through 5 and none of them rose higher than 48 inches in height.

Little Tommy Tucker's contingent favored donations to the Sisters at Our Lady of Incessant Complaint, while Bobby Bruze and his gang threatened to shut down the entire enterprise if funds were directed instead toward cool swim goggles and maybe some halloween stuff from the Spirit Store. Bobby's dad owned the lemon press and the tree, so there was a reality to this threat.

"I am not afraid of you, Bobby Bruze" Tommy Tucker said. "We can get lemons from the Almeida's yard."

"I'll sequester your all mighty lemons up the wazoo," Bobby said, who had been listening to his parents talk about politics. He didn't know exactly what sequester meant, but he knew it was really bad. "Step over this line, I dare you!"

"You stop acting like sissy Congressmen you!"

Little Tammy Chadwick stepped in and shouted at both of them. "You stop acting like sissy Congressmen you! Start acting like the Fighting Otters.

Well, there was more of that and it looked like the acrimony was so intense that there would be no fundraiser at all.

In the Old Same Place Bar exhaustion settled in among the tables and chairs and the soiled glasses waiting to be collected for wash. Suzi slumped behind the bar with her book and Dawn sagged in her stool, dozing as patrons finished up desultory conversations about the national blather about the condition of things and their softly deliquiscing beverages, becoming more diluted and warm with each advancing minute of the hour.

It has been a long time since anyone has enjoyed a vacation and even longer since a payraise. Outside the wind kicks up to bring in the cooling change of the seasons and, hopefully, some common sense into the dense heads of people who handle budgets.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the gentle waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and silent chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


SEPTEMBER 22, 2013


In humble Oakland we have wildlife. No, we do not mean Jimmie's Nightclub and Eli's Mile High.

This family lives up near the Mormon Temple, but has been known to roam. Nervous staff at a school request the the head of maintenance to kill the turkeys. Fortunately the sane man called Environmental Services, which is charged with removing critters like skunks, raccoons, and lizards from property. They told him the wild animals are protected and it is illegal to kill them. The Maintenance Man simply waved his arms and said, "Shoo!" The birds left. He was last seen walking away, shaking his head and muttering under his breath, "Kill the turkeys! Kill the damn turkeys!"


You want real "off the grid" you got it here on 26th Street in Oakland at a true entrepreneurial style bistro that sets up, serves and takes down in a couple hours. Street tacos at $1.25. Fresh and good.

Cash only -- no plastic.


Rob Bonta co-authored AB1008 with Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) which removes the requirement that hospital workers must join the ACERA union pension system. The financially-strapped Island hospital will join with San Leandro Hospital in merging with the Alameda County Medical Center system for the sake of survival. Neither local hospital was capable of surviving financially on their own. Gov. Brown just signed the bill into law.

You remember those commercials for a texmex restaurant that featured a stuffy man with an English accent flagging down a waitress so as to identify foreign objects on his plate?

Punchline: "Those, sir, are fresh vegetables."

Well Chevy's, a national company with 39 corporate-owned restaurants in 33 states plus 16 franchises, began life here on the Island in 1986, but the original flagship restaurant has stood vacant at 2499 Mariner Square Drive since 2006. The building has been for sale since then, but had no takers until recently when Oakmont Senior Living put in a bid to acquire the site, demolish the struture, and replace it with 52 unit assisted living facility.

Well okay it is hard to get sentimental about a gaudy family restaurant chain, but we have fond memories of taking the kids out to the water's edge there many years ago.

This week the Letters to the Editor featured more folks against the McKay Avenue project as well as three opinion pieces, both against the development of the land into dwelling units. The Sierra Club, of course, weighs in on behalf of guiding the land towards an addition to the Crab Cove park, a local resident in the area describes the area as rife with old oaks, sycamores, cedars, and diverse fauna, including hummingbirds, squirrels and raccoons. Another writer compares TLC, the prospective developer to the odious Suncal. Which may be a bit much, as TLC does not appear to be deceptive about what they want to do -- its just what they want to do is not in the Island's best interest in that parcel.

For some odd reason there are parties hell-bent on ram-rodding this one through, what with Council members calling the beautiful area "blighted" and some cuss at GSA threatening seizure by "eminent domain" to force this deal for TLC.

On the upside we see the Fall season lining up with a return to more challenging theatre and some concerts worthy of note.


So anyway, a major dockwalloper blew in Saturday, driving everybody indoors who could get there quick and sending havoc to roam the freeways. The Household of Marlene and Andre filled up with all the members not working and everyone looked at each other, steaming with sad eyes, the whole place smelling like wet dogs and people wondering if this was the start of the long bitter winter. But Sunday dawned clear and sunny and soon folks were back out on the street again.

Linneaus was not Norwegian, and probably not Lutheran

Fall is encroaching. Leaves are falling and sudden squadrons of Canadian geese and other birds appear in the low skies. Other animals are also on the move, especially given the increased bout, or as some say, increased plague of new construction on the Island. It is an Island after all, with marinas and boats and the troubles that come with the territory, and with the territory of marinas docking boats come the famous rattus norwegus, not to blame dear Norway for rodent issues, but that is just how it all fell out when it came to naming things according to the Linneaus manner. Linneaus was not Norwegian, and probably not Lutheran according to the details we can glean, so he probably felt perfectly fine naming the smooth coat rat after Norway.

Or perhaps someone introduced the man to lutefisk without sufficient aquavit to wash it down and this nomenclature was the product of a small-minded man's revenge.

We also enjoy the pleasures of the scruffier cousin, the roof rat, which according to our unimaginative Linneaus is Rattus Rattus. Which just goes to show you the man had no brains and probably could not be trusted with your wallet.

Roofrats, sometimes called woodrats, although the species is different, look like Norway Rats which have taken a beating and reacted by getting hooked on heroin and glue sniffing. They are scruffy and nasty and they like to live in your attic right here on the Island. They enjoy Oakland too, as they have few scruples.

Racoons have been enjoying the cat food and squirrel leavings people have been leaving outside their backdoors. Roof rats love this stuff too. Mrs. Blather typically leaves a pile of kibble for Mr. Sachs and Mr. Goldman, her two Persians, but latterly the two kitties have taken to cowering in the tulip magnolia while a raccoon has been feasting on the dinner intended for them.

They can hiss all they want, but little that will do.

Over at the Native Sons Parlor 33 1/3 there has been a big hullaballo over the Parlor budget. Which seems to have gotten more acrimonious in recent years as two factions have gotten to loggerheads over spending. The more conservative members of the Pee Tardy group feel dues and income from various instruments should be re-invested in worthy entities like Goldman Sachs and The John Birch Society. They also feel too much money gets wasted on public uses, like water for the bathroom and that people should just "hold it in" until they get home. Hence their name, The Pee Tardy folks.

The more generous members of the Parlor feel that when income arrives it should be spent on any of the worthy humanitarian causes the group supports, such as amelioration of child birth defects and distributing golden poppy seeds.

Wally is threatening to filibuster the next debate until past the fiscal year and Janice is threatening to withhold payments on any outstanding or revolving debts, like PG&E, which would propell the Parlor into a state of crisis, which made Myron Plotz, the accountant, start tearing his hair while weeping uncontrollably.

David has been calling the Pee Tardy folks a lot of dangerous imbeciles which only made Mrs. Cribbage throw the official silver tureen at his head, fortunately missing, but causing a goodly amount of damage to the glass fantod case.

"For goodness sakes and goodness sakes!" Tammy shouted, stamping her foot. "All of you stop acting like children or I will invoke the Goddess!"

They all stood back at that threat and some people crossed themselves and rolled their eyes. Nobody wanted the Goddess involved, not even Myron.

The stamping did have the effect of dislodging a huge redwood burl clock from the wall and it fell to the floor of the that old hall beside the Marina with a loud crash.

This proved too much for the family of roofrats which had been living in the wall near the couch and they scampered across the floor towards the door -- about five of them.

Mrs. Cribbage screamed and got up on a chair. Mr. Blather screamed and got up on a chair too. With both of them screaming, Myron grabbed a pool cue and began wacking all around the rats who ran in confused circles instead of heading for the door while Wally went to get his gun.

Myron managed to bing one of the rats on the head and another rat, being feisty and of a mood to defend himself grabbed the end of the pool cue which by now had been fractured to the point it was of little use anyway, so Myron tugged and flailed his damaged weapon while the roofrat snarled and glared with beady eyes at his tormenter and cursed Myron in rat language.

Wally let loose a round that blasted a two foot crater in the floor

By the time Wally had returned with his .50 caliber pistol the other rats had gotten away and Mrs. Rampling was up on the counter on her hands and knees with Mr. Scott and more people stood on chairs. The rat gave up on teaching Myron a lesson and ran away from the door back into the room, perhaps to return to its formerly comfortable hole in the wall. Wally let loose a round that blasted a two foot crater in the floor and another that took out a wall support beam in a spectacular eruption of fire and splinters. The roof sort of groaned and sagged but stayed up there, however the lights went out so the only light came through the open door.

That's when the sirens began to sing louder and louder.

The sirens stopped outside and a sort of disco effect of flashing red lights drifted through the now silent room.

There came a series of raps from somewhere and then David's voice could be heard clearly, "I would now like to call this meeting to order. If you please"

Later on, Myron was trying to explain some of this to The Man from Minot at the bar in the Old Same Place, but was having little success in sounding reasonable.

"Why the rats," asked the Man from Minot.

"Why the rats? I dunno why not a duck. Or a horse. I am all right myself. It's an Island and it's got marinas and the marinas got boats from all over the world. With boats come rats. You want nice doilies on your downspouts and a canoe ride with plastic alligators go to Disney Land."

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the gentle waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and silent chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


SEPTEMBER 15, 2013


Jerry Garcia did not sing many songs he had written himself; the vast majority of the Grateful Dead canon was written by Robert Hunter, but as one gets older Black Muddy River acquires some resonance. This week's headline photo of a luminescent rose comes from our staff photographer, Tammy.


Our HTML coder, Chad, was stricken with a heart condition which propelled his great heart to pulse at 169 bpm, which is pretty damn fast even for Punk music. He has been in the Island CCU since Friday and only recently was un-intubated.

Our thoughts and whatever prayers to whatever Spaghetti Monster or Cosmic Muffin may be up there go out tonight as our man fights for his life.

Impact Theatre at La Val's

La Val's Pizzaria may sound like an odd venue for cutting edge theatre in the Bay Area, which has made an international name for itself in the realm of avaunt garde, but the basement to the Berkeley eatery has held sway for well over twenty years as a bastion for black box productions and companies which sometimes go on to own their own spaces. The Shotgun Players began their production career down those narrow steps and look at them now.

Black Box often refers to experimental learning exercise skits conducted by 2nd string university strugglers who did not make the cut for mainstage Aunte Mame or Fiddler on the Roof. Around here, Black Box refers to no-frills, stripped down, guerrilla theatre of the type popularized by the Mime Troupe. Sets made from ad hoc found materials and costumes made of whatever the performers can afford and looks somewhat approximate to the role. Acting ranges from rank amateur shouters who "saw the air thus" to spectacular presentations. Direction and choreography trends toward "walk here and look at the vase and find a reason to do so beforehand."

The latest production by Impact Theatre, we are happy to say, hits all the highest notes in virtually every category of dramatic arts, and this production is worthy of a "mainstage" presentation. The production values are very high for something like this and we were impressed by the extraordinary choreography employed in such a tight space, with actors all moving simultaneously and sometimes lifting one another in tandem seamlessly.

Abigail Edber, Arisa Bega, and Carlye Pollack play four teen girls discovering their power as women at a Catholic reformatory in 1914, in What Every Girl Should Know at Impact Theatre. Photo: Cheshire Isaacs

Briefly, the play concerns four teen girls thrown together in a New York reformatory in 1914. Within the walls of their small room, together they discover their sexuality and personal power as they reveal the horrifying events that led each to that dormitory room. The newcomer, Anne, reveals that her mother was involved with Margaret Sanger, a real historical figure who promoted logical birth control and provided the structure that developed into Planned Parenthood later on. Sanger, a nurse and progressive-thinking activist on behalf of reproductive rights felt that women needed to take control of their bodies. At that time, women were still denied the right to vote and the suffragette movement was just starting to develop momentum. Sanger established the first birth control clinic in New York.

The girls rip out a page from one of Anne's birthcontrol pamphlets which features a photograph of Sanger and build a sort of ofreta with oranges and other items filched from the reformatory's stores and from that point a series of unearthly events and revelations ensue. The girls, each of whom possesses an icon for her particular name saint, shift their allegiances to Sanger as the new patron saint for girls.

In the end, several of the girls rebel against the hypocritical and damaging theosophy of the reformatory, deciding to leave and risk the streets rather than be subjugated.

Arisa Bega portrays the ingenue Lucy with clarity and heartfelt innocence. Abigail Edber portrays the complex Anne with her "big bone" issues and her passionate longings and her damaged psyche with multifold nuances. Carlye Pollack portrays her Theresa with a hypersexual, girlish delight up until her final "confession" after which she huddles sobbing in the corner, as heartbreaking a victim of child abuse as anything ever portrayed on stage. It was a quite a pleasure to watch her work, and that is not true for many more supposedly more accomplished actresses.

Arisa Bega plays a teen discovering her power as a woman at a Catholic reformatory in 1914, in What Every Girl Should Know at Impact Theatre. Photo: Cheshire Isaacs

Elissa Beth Stebbins enters as the most world weary fifteen-year old one can imagine and never lets go of a severity of disposition born of savage hurt.

The 1hour 30 minute show is performed relentlessly without intermission and seemed to fly by in fifteen minutes. Erika Chong Shuch supplied choreography for the four actors, with chops pulled from experience with Cal Shakes, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, and ACT -- to mention a few.

We think this production is a triumphant success and everything that progressive, forward-thinking theatre should be: challenging, sharp, professional, and spot-on the issues.


Front page information on the Island Gerbil revealed that adding 1,425 homes pluse 5.5 million sq ft of retail space will increase traffic seems a surprise to some folks.


The Native plants people are up in arms about eliminating some cordgrass. Ok. How about kill a few developers and real estate magnates in addition.

They held a faux celebration of Neptune Beach this weekend. Whoopee. Now on to more important things. .

The Letters to the Editor in the Sun featured fewer entertaining cranks this week. Fallout against Ron Cowan's latest project proposing new toney housing on the site of the present day Harbor Bay Club continues with a homeowner's association weighing in against any more development out there. Increase in traffic is the main reason people don't like the project. We still are chuckling over one letter describing the developer as continually popping up like the Wack-a-Mole.

Another resident (1990) provides most of the comic relief by stating he placed "blind, indeed purblind, confidence in the Alameda Planning Board." With a start like that you know the guy is not serious. But he did note that Safeway is apparently planning to sell beer at the all-night gas station planned for the Point, which is a revelation in itself. We did not know gas stations could even apply for a license to sell alcohol. Then again we did not know that the ever contentious In-n-Out Burger will feature a 42 foot bell tower which some bright bulb fears might interfere with local airplane traffic.

Man, if you are flying that low, please file your route plans away from my neighborhood.

Which is interesting, given that councilpersons want to raise the gateway height limit to 82 feet. Go figure.

Finally we took an amused gander at Councilperson Chen's Understanding Neptune Pointe (sic), in which he claims the entire McKay broughhaha has nothing to do with the City government, but is entirely an affair between the Feds and EBRPD. Of course this ignores the fact that the City did rezone the land against EBRPD in advance of the parcel sale, so Mr. Chen is blowing just a little bit of smoke here.

Most of the L2E in the Island Gerbil were steadfast against the McKay development, against the Ron Cowan Harbor Bay development, and even against any West End development, all citing traffic as the main reason.

Finally, we note that the popular seasonal Spirit Store has returned to Southshore Mall, bringing back its lifesized animatronic zombies, robotic spiders, costumes and the ever favorite ghost duck.


So anyway, Howard Schecter reports in the Dweeb Report, which has trended to extreme accuracy for the past twenty years that seasonal "trofing" has occurred in the Pacific and that we can expect steadily cooling dry temps in the Sierra for the next few weeks. Farmer's Almanac said this winter shall be a cold one, so get out there and buy woolens now.

This is the time of steadily advancing shadows, of changes. Leaves turn from verdant to brilliant reds and yellows and dull ochre, eventually spinning down in a revolve of season. Coming home along the byways of Fruitvale and Laurel and Diamond to Snoffish Valley Road where the old coachway cuts between earth embankments and hedges, settling in the way old comfortable roads do with time counted by the century mark. There the penumbra of the oaks stretches longer than before at this time of day and Percy Worthington Boughsplatt motors with his bare companion, Madeline, still a striking redhead member of the Berkeley Explicit Players. But as the temperatures drop, even Madeline must pay heed so she wears at least a pillbox hat and Victorian leather boots.

One must be reasonable.

Mrs. Almeida is out back cleaning up after the graffiti vandalism scrub down. Some wag had spraypainted the coop lime green and all the chickens bright neon orange. This being the Island our vandals considerately employed water-based paint, so a little work with the hose and all was well again, save for some irate hens flapping orange dewdrops.

There were no other animal mishaps, save for the usual dogbite reported in the police blotter, but for a few days, Bosco the Disputed Pig was kept in hiding. Bosco is the Disputed Pig for a meddling city official had Bosco removed from his yard a while back and arrested, we assume, in the Animal Shelter, where sad Bosco pined for his grubs and his yard behind the concrete and steel lockup, all for committing the crime of being a pig in town.

Someone complained that you cannot be raising livestock in a City. Think of the children.

Someone else commented, "You call this burg a 'City?' What's wrong with you?"

There were a lot of bad words about the affair and much disputation over pigs, for if pigs then why not ducks and, god forbid, roosters, cows, horses and kangaroos.

Then of course there was the matter of Wootie's trained moose herd over by the bridge abutment. But then Wootie was Canadian, and different rules applied.

As it turned out, the City has no real ordinance against a pig living in a yard, especially one which would never attain any size greater than twenty pounds, and all the neighbors got together a Free Bosco petition, as they all dearly loved Bosco, which so shamed the City they released the Pig of Dispute and Bosco returned to munch his grubs in his yard once again.

It does seem that once all the kids got busy with school, things like spraypainting chicken coops, exploding mailboxes, and toiletpapered trees sort of tapered off, giving all the parents the vacation for which they had longed all summer.

As the days get shorter, the fog rolls in as a solid wall through the Golden Gate and pouring over the hills of Babylon across the water.

At Marlene and Andre's Household, Marlene moves about the kitchen, trying to turn odds and ends, scraps, orts, into something similar to a meal, her jet black hair getting a little loose-stranded under her bandana. Kids free from chores and homework took noisy advantage of the last shreds of the day with a ball beneath the glowing streetlamps outside and she pauses with her hand on her belly and the empty space below and beneath.

In the Old Same Place bar all the talk is about how war has been averted -- never mind how and by whom -- the main thing is that war shall not drag us in to another unspeakable mess. Putin, of course is no great prize of character, nor is his governent, but at least there shall be no war.

Old Schmidt sighed. "War is very terrible. Terrible for effry vun."

Someone scoffed. He should talk, coming from that birthplace of Nazis.

"I am old, but not so old to haff been soldat during ze Krieg." Schmidt said.

O I suppose none of you knew about the brutality. The camps.

Old Schmidt sighed. "I vas nine and sent to Niedersachsen. My people knew of course. They all became partizans. Perhaps too early, while it was unpopular. We fought his Brownshirts in the street even before the Hitler took power. Some joined ze French. My Vatti joined ze Poles. But it didn't work-- we were too few and the US waited too long. The Gestapo executed 2,000 of us. My Vatti did not come back. That is why Oma has no relatives. You see things are not always so easy to make black and white. Except one thing."

What is that Schmidt?

"War is evil. Maybe some wars must be fought, but all wars are evil."

In the little church on Santa Clara, Pastor Terrabonne finished up his sermon on reconciliation. The subject was the anniversary of the terrible bombings in Birmingham in 1966 which had murdered four girls and injury about thirty people. "Now, I say to all of you brothers and sisters we must remember these things and we must talk about them, but not to harden our hearts, not to feed anger. No. We recall these terrible things done to our people to reconcile ourselves."

"Say it brother!"

"O yes!"

"Glory yes!"

"Reconcile I say! Not so much with any other man, any other group responsible, any other race, but reconcile if you will that man of hate who comes to learn. Is that the main point? Do we stop there, reconciling with our enemy? No! We reconcile ourselves so that we do not live our days in bitterness and hatred and anger that turns to evil. Reconcile I say! Go on and reconcile! Reconcile, reconcile, reconcile! Reconcile with God, people! That is with whom you must reconcile!"

"O brother!"


There was more passionate speech in that little chapel tucked away in the row of other churches, great and small. For such a small island we enjoy a plethora of churches, temples and synagogues; one would expect that our people would be saintly for all of that, or at least move through the world with some rectitude, some upright morality instead of grubbing after petty vengeances, pursuing petty cruelties.

In the Offices, after all had shut down, the Editor wound up the day, wondering how to summarize all of this before moving on to other topics.

He thought about the time he had met Guy Stern, one of the Richie Boys. The Richie Boys were the very real, actual, living blood, Inglourious Basterds. But they were not nearly so cruel or vicious, for all of them were, in fact Germans.

They were immigrants who had been interned at Camp Ritchie, pretty much with the same spirit that the Japanese-Americans were interned elsewhere. Like some of the Issei and Nissei, some of the Richie Boys signed up for the Army, which sent them to the very front lines to employ their language skills.

Nearly all of them were, besides being German, Jews as well. Including Guy Stern, who described how they had to alter their dogtags which, like all army-issue tags, were stamped with their religion. Which of course would be a death sentence to anyone caught by the German army.

Guy's job was to go to the front lines and use a loudspeaker and his native language to pursuade snipers to surrender. In this he was very successful, although it was fairly dangerous in that before somebody decided to surrender they might decide to train their weapons on the loudspeaker.

As for the Inglourious Basterds part, well, "We were good Jewish boys. We did not want to hurt anyone. We just wanted the war to be over. When I rolled into my hometown with the advance troops and saw everything bombed out and destroyed, I cried. It had to happen, of course, for that Hitler and his people were terrible and had to be stopped. But afterwards I could not live there again and so I returned to the United States."

The Editor sat on the verandah with his own memories of war in a distant southeast Asian country.

The crescent moon looked down through the tendrils of fog upon the sleeping little down with its potbellied pigs, its chickens, its miniature gardens and its many churches, a town asleep and at peace, not waging war.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the gentle waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and silent chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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




This week's photo comes from Carol of the St. Charles Lunatic Asylum. She has been posting this foto challenging people to recognized all the famouse outlines depicted in the distance. This shot is taken through the Island marina. Hint: Coit Tower is furthest right.


Toddled over to the Greek with low expectations for what turned out to be a surprisingly vital and exhuberant two concerts from two poppy groups.

According to Wiki, "Tegan and Sara are a Canadian indie rock duo formed in 1995 in Calgary, composed of identical twin sisters Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Keirsten Quin (born September 19, 1980). Both play the guitar and keyboards, and write their songs."

They began energetically performing and recording while still in high school, using the school equipment to record their first album. They have won scads of awards, and probably because of their relentless touring schedule which began in 1998, tend to think of themselves as "old timers" on the circuit, having done virtually every major open air venue and event in the United States.

They have toured with Neil Young and The Pretenders, Ryan Adams, Weezer, Bryan Adams, Jack Johnson, The Black Keys, Ben Folds, Gogol Bordello, Cake, Death Cab for Cutie, Hot Hot Heat, The Killers, New Found Glory, Paramore and Rufus Wainwright, among others.

The openly gay pair got some internet buzz when they did a parody song a few years back based on the absurd homophobic comments made by a Fundamentalist preacher against gay marriage. The preacher claimed that if gay people were allowed equal rights with straights, then anyone could then marry anything alive, including a duck, with the clear insinuation that gay=bestiality. The music video featured the two girls cavorting with a rubber duck.

They are the darlings of the post-Indigo Girls/Chrissie Hynde set and are heavily favored by the young, deliberately sexually vague camp of college women just figuring out the riot grrrl thing does not have to be a rubber stamp of Steinem and Stein. It's okay to be girly and still learn how to lock and load a Glock 9. Their self-deprecating humor and emo flavor of honesty has garnered them a devoted fanbase.

In concert the two fill out their lineup with Ted Gowans – guitar, keyboards, Jasper Leak – bass, John Spence – keyboards, and Adam Christgau – drums. Both of the sisters play guitar, synth, and -- notoriously -- the shaker.

By this time, they also have developed smooth stage showmanship. Tegan (or was it Sara?) provided a brief humorous intro to a song by describing how difficult it was to perform the shaker and that the audience should cheer whenever her shaker fill came up -- and she would be sure to highlight the event by pointing at herself. The adoring audience ate it up and six thousand fans screamed when the "shaker bit": rolled around.

This was, by the way, a rare case of the venue being packed at the get go so people could catch the warm-up band.

For the record and for the fans, here is the setlist for T&S.

Drove Me Wild
Goodbye, Goodbye
Back In Your Head
The Con
I Couldn't Be Your Friend
I Was A Fool
Now I'm All Messed Up
Where Does The Good Go
Living Room
Shock To Your System
How Come You Don't Want Me
Feel It In My Bones
(Tiësto feat. Tegan & Sara cover)

We are not sure wussup with LA and fun's spectacular flop down south where they began their tour. Reviews of the poppy Broadway-influenced band were uniformly negative and sour. LA also has a venue called "The Greek Theatre", but we can bet a bottom dollar the band will never play there again.

Reviews were so bad that we were a bit concerned about even staying through the show in Berkeley, however from the first notes Nate Ruess and company pulled out the stops to great success and a warmly enthusiastic, welcoming crowd that seemed to inject Ruess with some badly needed push. "Man I gotta say, I feel good tonight," he said early at one point. Later on he said on stage during a breather, "After LA I was sure we were washed up as a band and nothing we did mattered any more. I felt it was all over. But now you guys made me feel good about performing, about being in a band again. Thank you!"

It is hard to understand how things went so badly in LA as Friday night the band really cracked out a superbly orchestrated show with lights and confetti cannons and fist pumping and Ruess hamming it up Broadway style, clearly enjoying every second the spotlight shone on him. It is really, really nice to experience a performer who has been knocked down getting back up and smashing a homer out of the effing ballpark and that experience was precisely what it was like in Berkeley Friday night.

The band was assisted by a very sexy multi-instrumentalist Emily Moore, who threw in tenor sax, keyboards, guitar and sweet vocals to boost the band with the sort of style for which the talentless Yacht strives and fails to achieve.

The East Bay is home to quite a lot of people who have been dissed, looked down upon and suffered severely hard times, so there were a few moments, as during "At Least I'm Not as Sad" and "It Gets Better" when people really connected emotionally, driving Ruess to further heights.

The band is unabashedly pop, the lead singer is more enamored of Broadway glitz and style than Liberace, the most inspiring songs are frankly anthemic rock at its most inane, yet nevertheless, fun completes its mission and deserves its name. We are glad the East Bay welcomed the group so well and we are happy that Ruess was re-invigorated and we definitely know that virtually every person in the venue had a blasting good time, so we see nothing wrong with that. You cannot have Patti Smith every day and everybody needs a break from Nick Cave, also a fellow Canadian with Tegan and Sara, once in a while. In short, fun came to the Greek Theatre for a resounding triumphant and explosive success, and we wish Ruess, et al, all the best in going forward. They dominated the night. You could do worse than have some fun in your life, given the abysmal depth of misery in store for all of us. We're all gonna die someday, so kick out the jams. . . .

Set List:

Some Nights Intro
One Foot
Walking the Dog
All Alone
Why Am I the One
At Least I'm Not as Sad (as I Used to Be)
All the Pretty Girls
It Gets Better
Carry On
The Gambler
You Can't Always Get What You Want
We Are Young
Take Your Time


Some Nights


The fun and games continue with locals getting steamed about the juggernaut of greed-driven development that threatens the character of the Island and Ron Cowan's group pushing forward with plans to relocate Harbor Bay Club under the Oakland International Airport main flyway so as to make room for more toney housing out there where people already speak different accents. He may find for all of that people who are used to giving orders instead of taking them may prove to be bad opponents with which to pick duels. Remains to be seen how that one plays out and whose palms get greased.

Commuters may have noticed that the start of the school semester everywhere suddenly produced monster traffic jams at just about every island egress point. We also noticed the sudden increase in bridge lifts at both Fruitvale and Park Street during the supposedly anathema time of rush hour, causing tempers to fray and blood to boil even as Brock de Lappe, the marina harbormaster, is seeking to evict nearly a hundred houseboat folks, who apparently, as one letter writer indicated "do not move in the same social circles as Lappe."

We are sure that charge of social elitism is unfounded and that de Lappe has noshed pork and beans heated on a sterno can under the freeway and washed that down with 99 cent box wine many times. So let's be fair.

The increased drawbridge lifts just when the roads have clogged with seasonal traffic seems curiously timed by somebody, but we are not sure who is responsible or what their game plan happens to be. We do know that about a hundred people who have lived all their lives on the water in hand-me-down boats that probably would not make it out of the estuary under their own power, let alone have the funds for fuel to do so, will be thrown on the street to subsist in some ad hoc manner that probably features a good portion of yours and ours tax dollars in the form of shelters and resettlment programs.

Basically, these folks have been living like gypsies on boats without SHOCK! paying rent to somebody, or SHOCK! vehicle registration fees. Of course if your vehicle never travels anywhere that was not an issue until now. We suspect the rent issue is what really is driving this. That and the desire to purge the Island of "undesireables". You know them -- those people who do not know how to mix a proper Manhattan or shop at Trader Joes.

Gee thanks, Brock. You German by any chance? Ja, die Untermenschen sollen weg!

The general hubbub in all the big issues that are plaguing Silly Hall these days circle around a couple philosophical camps and a couple nasty movements that involve power and property.

There is the camp that would like to keep the Island as it has always been -- well, to be short they are going to lose. It may be unfortunate and it may be sad and it may be the worse direction, but that should by now be a given. Big question is where is the space for each one of us in what comes up.

Then there is the camp that says, "Finally we are going to make the changes that we wanted to make the Island into what we want it to be." Which seems to be a sort of Yuppie game preserve solidified by sky-high rents, smarmy shops that cater to the iPod set and "lifestyle stores" instead of groceries.

Finally there is the camp that says, if it has to change, then lets at least protect the least terns, lock in some liveable open space, and get half of it right while the pirates loot and pillage. We may have a chance of a liveable space after they are done wrecking what used to be.

The Letters to the Editor remain a highlight of comedy and cranky opinions that never cease to delight and amaze. This past week
we saw someone respond to Abbie Halliday's complaint that there are "too many beggars" flocking like pigeons and that we should kill all of them.

A curiously oriented person wrote a letter that caused guffaws throughout the newsroom when the letter writer complained about the timing of the Origins Bicycle Tour for Sunday, 9/22 at 9am to 1:30pm. The letter writer felt this timing excluded churchgoers from participation and that this was very likely intentional.

O the godless bicyclist!

Someone else complained that the finance-bleeding hospital was in danger of absorbtion into Highland Hospital (actually, in terms of accuracy, the hospital will join the County system, of which Highland serves as the central trauma center, and this deal is all but done). The letter writer indicates that Highland will fill our little "hospital emergency room with all of its patients" causing longer waits and crowded facilities.

Now wait. We understood the Island hospital to be shipping in the past scads of trauma patients over to Highland so as to avoid paying for indigent, low income cases. So now the reverse situation is somehow a bad thing when our hospital's red debit page makes it out to look pretty indigent in itself? Tut tut tut, my dear fellow.

Another fellow, clearly a newbie, wants to know what all the recent road closures are for. My good man, says Ms. Marple, please have another cup of chamomile while I tell you every long-term resident knows that they tear up each and every street periodically because it is fun to do so. And some say because we simply cannot get organized well enough to coordinate all the different projects that involve digging up a street.

It's an Island, of course, with a high water table and earthquakes, which is another reason. Things just crack up.

So there you have it.


"So anyway," Professor Smurfy said to Jose, still trying to understand his experience a week ago at the art exhibit, "no one can identify a true Sociopath by looking at his face or into his eyes. I am not sure if I am capable myself of decerning such a fellow or worman -- in fact, I know for a fact I cannot, even though I have studied this pathology for well over thirty-five years.

"It is not possible. A Sociopath is not like Hollywood Hannible Lecter with a funny or terrible mask. He does not have dripping fangs and bloodshot eyes. You do not get this literary chills down your spine or intimations of something wrong. John Wayne Gacy, a socialized pyschopath of a different sort than what we are speaking, did not put 30 people into quicklime in his basement by looking like the monster he was.

"A Sociopath is comfortable to you. He feels somehow useful and helpful and friendly. Consider Klaus Barbie, later termed the Butcher of Lyon. All his French neighbors protested even as he was taken away for horrible war crimes as a Nazi that he always was "un bonne Camarade". The very French whom he savaged so bestially. They are very good at faking the emotions which they do not have. Meyer Lansky was a good family man.

"Yes, to such people you are always a good buddy, a fine friend. Often volunteering in the community, as Gacy did as a clown for children's parties.

"Truth is there moves through the population at any one time well over one hundred thousand Sociopaths and very rarely do any of them commit murder. As far as we know. These Sociopaths continue their careers as useful members of society.

"Most of them understand that if they get caught committing murder or any sort of crime there is a vast machinery of legal apparatus that will set in motion to deny them what they want. You will never see even the murderous Sociopath directly by looking into their face -- you can only see them like physicists see mesons and quarks -- by the vapor trail they leave behind in a vacuum chamber, by the extraordinary damage left in their wake after they have gone. Their usual method is that of manipulation, of an exchange of favors which always seems to benefit themselves the most in some way.

"When you look at a suspected Sociopath, do not talk to anyone that person knows in the present -- talk to people who knew him in the past. You will learn that everyone who knows him in the present calls him "un bonne camarade", but everyone who knew him in the past calls him an asshole.

"A Sociopath cannot feel any emotions other than a profound self-pity and a deep-seated anger based in narcissism -- this often gives the impression of a depth of feeling which is simply not there. He feels no love, no real empathy to other human beings, although he can mimic such emotions quite well. You will notice how the Sociopath never laughs unless it is a joke or story told at someone's expense, someone suffering because of some complicated machinery of entrapment. This he likes very much.

"The Sociopath is a shell of something similar to human, but he has no attachment to humanity and could not care if anyone or any number of humans died beyond how it would inconvienience himself. In the Sociopath there is the example of a person without a soul, the most chlling thing anyone can encounter, and you will find in your studies that people who have been affected by a Sociopath feel their entire trust in the human species has been destroyed.

"That is the destruction of the Sociopath. That is their vapor trail -- the annihilation of human beings, rarely by killing their bodies, more usually by destroying their spirits. There is no known cure for Sociopathy. You can only incarcerate them forever or kill them by means of the death penalty. That fact alone is enough to cause sufficient damage by its knowledge. Their habit is to cause hate to arise from once fertile minds.

"Such a person is the Angry Elf of which you speak. "

All of them in the Old Same Place Bar were silent, pondering. What kind of evil had infected their town and what had any one of them done to deserve it.

Sociopaths or Psychopaths or Shining Path -- that sort of thing was more proper for New York or LA. Or at least Babylon until they got a handle on it.

Outside the coastal breezes knocked the crabapple tree branches and a few let go deadfall that thumped when it hit the ground.

The door flew open causing everyone there to startle with wide eyes, but it was only Old Schmidt, coming in for his regular nightcap.

Out beyond the Golden Gate, Pedro Almeida piloted his boat El Borracho Perdido through the swells of the fishing grounds. Tugboat sniffed the air and woofed. Pedro opened the door and sniffed the air as well. The fog had gotten denser of late and the new moon of Thursday last now waxed greater sliver by sliver on seas that took on a deep ultramarine. The seasons were changing. Soon time for the crab pots and other things that like colder water.

The radio talked about the drumbeat of war, getting louder with each passing day. Stories of atrocities, real and not filled the bloodlusted media. They are getting us ready for another war in the usual ways. Pedro changed the channel to the one that carried his favorite televangelist, Pastor Rotschue.

"This is the last week of reruns for the Lutheran Hour and we will be coming to you live once again from that little town we all love so much, the town that Time bypassed, leaving out an off-ramp on the highway of history. This week we return to a show we did last fall in Jackpot Nevada at the famous Top Hat Lounge . . . "

At Marlene and Andre's the Household was midways through Rosh Hashanah, which began more or less appropriately before the New Moon. They now were getting towards Yom Kippur and the entire Household was being dragged along willy nilly.

"Okay now," Marlene said to Martini. "I want you to apologize to Sara. You have to be sincere about it."

"She hates me."

"She hates you because you were an asshole. Maybe if you apologize things will start to change."

"So what if she just spits in my eye like the last time?"

"It don't matter so long as its sincere. You gotta enter the New Year free of all your shayt. And believe me, Martini, you are really full of shayt."

One might think that Marlene's doctrinaire approach stemmed from some kind of 12 Stepper Graduate infexibility or post-therapeutic attachment to formalized spirituality that is so often employed to stitch together the pieces of ruined human beings (in addition to Sociopaths, the world suffers Psychopathic damage enough) however the simple truth is that the one bedroom cottage home to fifteen souls could not allow dissension in that tiny space to continue for long, and so keeping the peace was a very important task when open war would ruin all of them.

It is getting time to perhaps tell some of Marlene's story, how she was born, how she survived the thing sometimes called childhood by some, how she came to the Island and how she met Andre. Tell some but not all, for there was enough white knuckled gripping horror in her past to cause one to recall the words of a famous poet: "Alas! ... the Demons . . . must sleep, or they will devour us - they must be suffered to slumber, or we perish."

The Editor paced back and forth in the darkened offices, slippery galleys left strewn on the floor. All the news that had come over the transome had been forboding, diluting the happy news that the Island kids had been improving their API scores against a declining trend Statewide and making muddy the Neptune Beach celebration. Someone had spraypainted Mrs. Almeida's chickens bright neon orange, while doing the coop entirely in vivid green. Mr. Howizter's firm had chopped down a cedar on Alameda Street which had stood on the property for over one hundred and fifty years.

Then the bickering about begging on Park and the squabbles about putting in a single fast food burger joint out on the Point -- it was enough to make the old Editor want to tear out his few remaining white hairs.

He walked to the back veranda where the unruly lemon tree sent sprays this way and that with abandon and lack of pruning, such that branches heavy with fruit regularly snapped to endanger the crowns of passersby.

He relit his cigar. He really ought to do something about that lemon tree.

The troubles of the world are multidinous. As the Woodman once said in one of his movies, "Life is divided between the horrible and the miserable. The horrible consists of things like lepers begging on the streets of Calcutta, amputations without anaesthetic, ebola, war with all its horror. The rest of us are just miserable. Be grateful for misery."

Beyond the veranda, the darkness of the yard extended to the old coachhouse, now a garage where neighbors stored a 15 foot kayak. The immense box elder tree, thoroughly infested with the notorious box elder bug and shrouded by various species of parasitic vines loomed under the sliver of the waxing moon as the fog tendriled itself in. If he shut his eyes, the Editor saw again the tracers arcing out and the flashbangs and the screams of the nighttime firefight at Ba Ap, 188's going off with all the clamor of the Final Trump, again and again and again. And the morning's discoveries embedded in the mud, once human beings, now meat.

The captured NVA commander had said, "We did not think Ba Ap was of any importance to us, but since you came here, we thought it must therefore be important in some way. That is why we came and we fought for that hill over there . . ".

Beyond the yard the ocean of human misery sloshed and chopped, its depths unplumbable by anyone of sane mind, for down there, in the inky depths where luminous memories flashed with all devouring maws packed with razor teeth. Just when you think you have descended past the unimaginable there floats up from some deeper place a thing worse than Klaus Barbie, worse than the things the doctor at Auschwitz ever did, things beyond language or image. And always, way down deeper than any human that calls itself such ever will go, breeds yet more sickness, ever mutating, ever changing, ever arising to inflict new pain yet undiscovered.

O, Klaus Barbie. His French neighbors in that quiet suburban district all called him genial, "un bonne camarade." Even as the authorities took him away to be charged as the Nazi "Butcher of Lyon."

The Editor puffed his cigar and thought to himself, when will we ever learn that to be human, you must act humanely. When will we learn to be like the physicist who sees the meson, the quark, the subatomic particle not by looking at its face, but by the vapor trail it leaves behind, the fragmentation of the target, the wake of its damage? And know that for some, there is no forgiveness save what g-d intends.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and silent chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


September 1, 2013


This week the obvious foto to headline the issue is from our seafaring Tammy.


Summer is just about done with school starting up and the long multi-year project that is the new Bay Bridge opening up presently.

For those seeking nostalgia and maybe learn a bit, the Oakland Museum has a suprisingly neat exhibit on the Bay, featuring an alcove dedicated to that old Bay Bridge, its construction, repair and the signature event that propelled the new bridge project -- the Loma Prieta Quake.

That quake, called by some the 5:05 quake, because of the time of day and the day it took place. As the first pitch of the World Series was just winding up, thousands of people who normally would have been on the bridge and the Cypress connector had taken off work early to get seats, resulting in virtually empty roads when normally hundreds of thousands of cars nosed bumper to bumper.

It was also a special World Series as both Bay Area teams, the Giants and the A's were facing off against each other.

Just one person died when the "fuse joint" section of the upperdeck dropped down.

After the section had been replaced engineers welded an iron "bridge troll" to the outside girder. People on sailboats could see the troll from below if they used binoculars, but it otherwise remained hidden to drivers on both decks.

So the question now stands as the old bridge goes through a three-year "deconstruction" -- what to do with the troll? Does he move to the new bridge or does the new bridge rate a modernized version?

The 18 inch high sculpture, designed and made by blacksmith Bill Roan, was welded on the north side of the outside rail. It was removed August 30th by Caltrans. The troll's whereabouts remain unknown.

The new bridge opens up at 5am this Tuesday. Until then Caltrans is routing all transbay busses to BART. Monday all busses run on a Sunday schedule.

Every week it seems there is a real prize in the Letters to the Editor. This week one irate person noted an increase in "beggars" on Park Street and at the malls. Um, sir, do you pay rent in the Bay Area? Have you noticed what has been happening here?

The sand erosion project has the go-ahead to start the beach replacement so expect a little noise when it happens and wider beaches when its done.


So anyway, Jose peered dubiously at the works on display at the exhibit tucked away in the warren of Pumpus Steel and Glass Werks. The beginning of the scholastic year for all ages means that all over the place art galleries and museums threw open their doors for the edification of new students

One piece of glass, a sort of muddy reddish-brown and shot throughout with irregular bubbles caused Jose to pause. The name of the Angry Elf attested to its creator.

"Isn't it delightful!" said Maxine Felcher.

Actually, it resembled a goodly dinosaur turd, thought Jose, but he said nothing.

"Usually we try to keep out these inclusions, but this artist has left them all in. What genius! He has turned flaws into gems!"

A gentleman wearing a top hat and formal tails entered the room. He peered closely at some of the wall pieces with a monocle.

"O dear!" said Ms. Felcher. "It's the Tribune!"

Jose asked Ms. Felcher who the man was.

"That's Percy Tuttle, the most savage art critic in the Bay Area. Even Harrington of the Contra Costa Times is afraid of his trenchant wit!"

"O really!"

"They say he so criticized his mother's art collages that she threw herself off of the Dumbarton Bridge in despair." Ms. Felcher whispered.

The august man paused before the cube holding the Angry Elf's work just as the little man came around the corner.

"So buddy, whaddya tink?" asked the Angry Elf.

Ms. Felcher and Jose stood back.

"What do I 'tink'," said Percy with a slight British accent. "I 'tink' this reminds me of dried sea snail snot."

"You no lika my work?"

"Sir, this is not work. No effort to learn craft has gone into it. The soul of glass material is clarity, not inclusions. Inclusions weaken the matrix. This is onanistic rubbish."

This did not make the Angry Elf as visibly angry as Jose expected.

"Yeah, well get yer own exhibit then, buddy. I got's an in here with all the rest of the arty mucky mucks, so you buzz off with your talk. But you better be careful, I am warning you."

"You are a little man with little talent or skill," Percy said.

"I am warning you, buddy."

"Pshaw!" Percy said, and left, followed by Jose, who did not like the Angry Elf. He overheard the Elf asking Ms. Felcher what kind of car Percy drove. She said she thought Percy owned a Lexus.

"How on earth did such an odious man get into a place of good reputation like this," Percy asked.

"I think he just wants to hob nob with rich people," Jose said.

"A membership at the Commonwealth Club would be simpler," Percy said, and then he paused half a beat before saying, "but then he would have to be capable of holding an intelligent conversation."

Jose wandered through the building, looking at seascapes, chiascuro nudes, textured abstracts laid over thick gesso on wooden blocks, and every once in a while something interesting and beautiful and strange. Since the rents had shot into the Outer Limits, artists had been fleeing Babylon in droves to come to the East Bay, causing a mini Renaissance to flourish in buildings once occupied by sheet metal shops and foundaries. This activity had attracted patrons from all over the world and these well-heeled people were the targets and the reason for his sudden new-found interest in making art. Percy was right in that the Angry Elf, who made his living as an arsonist, never bothered to take classes, subscribe to magazines or learn from other people how to work with glass. He just stole a book from the library and a potter's kiln from someone's backyard and set up his little factory and had his boys do most of the work making things that could pass as something artistic. What he really wanted was names, addresses and the bank account numbers off of checks, for the artworld is a last holdout of business by paper and a handshake.

Jose left the building about the same time as the art critic. Across the street a white Lexus stood engulfed in flames as wailing sirens approached.

"Goodness," said Percy. "I almost bought a Lexus myself."

He walked down the street and to Jose's astonishment, unlocked the door of a low-slung British car.

"A Morris Minor! The Bay Area's most formidible art critic drives a Morris Minor?" Jose exclaimed.

Percy looked up at him. "The engine is a BMW. It was easier to just replace it than keep going to the shop."

"I can't believe it!" Jose said.

"My other car is a Fiat," Percy said before driving off with a throaty roar of his engine.

Things were somber over at the Old Same Place Bar when Jose finally dropped in late in the evening. Ireland's Nobel Prize Winning Poet, Seamus Heaney had just passed away and Padraic was inconsolable. Unlike the other three Nobel Prize winners, Seamus maintained a comfortable soft-shoe and modest presentation about himself. Not as Agustan as Yeats, but nevertheless quite his equal in intellect, he remained close to the land and humble origins, with many of his poems focussed on the relationship between himself and his father, whereas Beckett became an expatriot producing work which does not appear to have any specific attachment to any geographical region, and Shaw occupied himself with the drawingrooms of the upper middleclass.

"Oy me laddies, this is indeed a dark day," Padraic said.

"That's because its nighttime now, you doofus," Dawn said.

"Hush now ya sheela. Ireland's diadem of language has fallen to dust."

"Well he left behind a body of work that lives," Suzie said, trying to keep the peace. "Why don't you read us one of his poems now."

"Well I don't know, I don't know," Padraic said. "This bein' a local and not a library. People want to drink and socialize here."

"All right now!" Eugene stood up. "I say let's have Padraic read us one of the man's poems and put this to bed. All you all with me?"

A chorus of ayes and "Come on Padraic!" and "Read! Read!" came from that humble collection of boozers and losers who had nothing of greatness in them, but were common folk, welders and blacksmiths and mechanics and the sort of raggedy lot that probably hung around that radical socialist Jew in Palestine some two thousand years ago. Even the Not-From-Heres all wore frayed shirtcuffs with thready collars and looked a little worse for wear, like they had been carrying Willy Loman's tattered samples suitcase for the past half century.

These, then were the people of the Old Same Place Bar and there was nary a yuppie or a stockbroker among them, but bitter-eyed admin assistants and harried front desk file clerks and orange vested roadmen and roadwomen and big rig operators who flew in the wee hours of radioland through those distant country-station zones where they sing eternally of love won and lost in all futility and despair while the eyes get crusty with lack of sleep on the flamelit horizon of sunsets on that long eternal highway.

"Well all right here is one appropriate to our situation here. Ireland you know is a bit of an island and so are we." Padraic said as Eugene finally sat down.


Once we presumed to found ourselves for good

Between its blue hills and those sandless shores

Where we spent our desperate night in prayer and vigil,

Once we had gathered driftwood, made a hearth

And hung our cauldron like a firmament,

The island broke beneath us like a wave.

The land sustaining us seemed to hold firm

Only when we embraced it in extremis.

All I believe that happened there was vision.

There was a moment of silence before Dawn announced Last Call. Then there was the flurry of highballs and shots with which Suzie had to deal and the last minute hook-ups in those still having hope and the last minute immersion in those who had lost any pretense of the pick-up fiction.

Eugene asked Suzie what she thought it meant. Like many men in the bar, he was always trying to find a way to get into the beautiful girl's pants. He imagined that if he sounded smart and intellectual it would improve his chances. He did not know Suzie well.

"I think," said Suzie, "It just means that you must hold the place you love close to your heart, knowing it all will erode away even though all of it is really just inside your head. And that is why this poem works for our island, which is really just a Mayberry of imagination, another Yoknapatawpha County."

"Aye," Padraic said. "He was the perfect mix of Viking strength, Spanish sensitivity, and the immortal qualities of the Tuatha Dé Danann. A royal vates for sure."

I wanted to grow up and plough,
To close one eye, stiffen my arm.
All I ever did was follow
In his broad shadow round the farm.
I was a nuisance, tripping, falling,
Yapping always. But today
It is my father who keeps stumbling
Behind me, and will not go away.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and silent chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


August 25, 2013


Every year, every August, while the invasive European grasses turn the hills to gold and dragonflies do little bombing runs over the glassy lake surface, we publish an image of one these fellows.

Nothing gives quite the same sense of sunny warmth and simple pleasure as the heliotrope.


Clarence Johnson of Media Affairs ACtransit sends us this info via Cynthia Vincent regarding the all-important 51 busline.

Community Workshop on AC Transit's
"Line 51A&B Corridor Delay Reduction/Sustainability Project"

AC Transit and the City of Berkeley Public Works Department will hold two community meetings to gather input on potential improvements to the Line 51B bus corridor.

The first meeting will be held from 6pm to 8pm on Monday, August 26, 2013 at La Quinta Inn, 920 University Avenue. The second meeting will be held from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts 2640 College Avenue

Lines 51A & 51B are two of the most heavily used bus routes in the East Bay, carrying a combined 19,000 passengers a day to Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda. Service has been unreliable due to bus bunching, late vehicle arrivals and overcrowded buses.

AC Transit has received a $10 million grant to design and implement infrastructure modifications along the route that would increase reliability and on-time performance, decrease travel time, and improve safety for AC Transit riders and pedestrians.

The meetings will be working sessions to present and review proposed improvements for the portion of the Line 51 bus corridor which runs along University Avenue between Acton Street and Shattuck, followed by small group discussions about the potential changes.

For more information about the proposed improvements, go online at

Written comments on the changes can also be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on September 9, 2013 to Tammy Kyllo, AC Transit, Administrative Coordinator at 1600 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612 or by email at

All comments will be part of the official public record. The City of Berkeley Transportation Commission will review the recommended options on September 16, 2013.


You know it was a slow news week when the front pages of both the Island Gerbil and the Island Pun featured stories about events more than half a century old. Ah, but the Island moves at a leisurely pace of its own.

The Gerbil presented Chuck Kohler, Pearl Harbor survivor, who spoke on board the USS Hornet this weekend. Pearl Harbor's anniversary is December 7th, but Chuck is 89 and still married so we guess we need to snag him while there is time.

We should inform the Mayor of that little Minnesota town where all the women are strong and all the men good looking that Island kids improved their standardized test scores, bucking a statewide trend of declining scores, so we can now say quite truthfully that our children are all above average.

Crimestoppers Notebook tells us that hullaballoo on Park last Saturday was a high speed chase down the main drag when four men crashed their stolen Honda after trying to evade capture. Police found a semiautomatic pistol and a high-capacity magazine in the car after the men fled on foot. Call 510-337-8340 for information if you know anything.

What is it about the brick minds of developers when it comes to naming things? After the community stood up protest when developers tried to renamed Southshore Mall into Towne Centre (sic) now we have the same perps trying to foist the same name on us, but for a complex planned on the Point. Then there was Neptune Pointe (sic) for the disputed McKay Avenue area.

O for crissake!

The Planning Board will meet for a special session 7pm Wednesday in the Council Chambers at Silly Hall. It would be nice if one of our excellent English teachers would show up to teach somebody a lesson about misplaced "e's". Where is Andy Rooney when we need him most?

Dennis Evanosky tracked down what happened to the funds collected a while back for the purpose of paying for the restoration of the City Hall clocktower. The original tower, built in 1896, was damaged during the 1906 quake that destroyed San Francisco and had to be torn down.

The committee which set about to collect donated funds came up with so little towards the multimillion dollar projected cost of reconstructing the 120 foot high Romanesque structure, the money was used to install a plaque
describing what the building originally had looked like.

Letters to the editor seemed crankier than usual, many to do with the projected development plans and the disputed McKay parcel. Same with the OpEd pieces. Tim Lewis Communities, private developer and prospective purchaser of the parcel had a representative cobble together something in favor of their plan to put 48 tony dwelling units down there. It basically does not add anything new other than a suggestion that TLC would be paying for the necessary improvements to supply utilities such as water, power, sewer, gas and electric services.

In a balance of opinion effort, Eugenia Thompson issued a stinging rebuttal to Ezzy Ashcraft's letter that basically stood in favor of the TLC project. You are enjoined to go to to read about the point by point rebuttal. Eugenia expresses dismay that City Council politicians show "lack of respect" to the people. Welcome to politics, my dear.

Finally we note the curious boosterism of the report that indicates retail sales tax leakage would be less if more of the vacant storefronts were occupied. Well, those storefronts don't come for free or cheap -- that is why they are vacant. Business owners on staff are getting flyers from properties like Marina Square offering three months of free rent should a business move in. Yet the rents, when they do kick in, are reportedly astronomical. One business on Park Street (name withheld) reported having to pay over $30,000 per month for the privilege of putting in a cash register there. When its like that, no way anything seeking to startup can pay the cost. Indeed, the obscene rent situation has already driven out many well-established businesses.


Wednesday will be a good evening to attend that Silly Council Meeting for you sure as heck are not going to be able to drive to Babylon as Caltrans is closing the bridge at 8 pm. In fact, you might as well give up getting over there until September 3rd, for that is when the new eastern span is scheduled to open up. Yep, the entire Labor Day weekend, Babylon will be accessible only by BART, ferry and that thing to the north which connects Marin to the City.

You know old timers when you hear somebody mutter under their breath about the Golden Gate, "They never should have built that bridge."


So anyway the threatening thunderstorm promised by KTVU weather never happened -- not even a sprinkle -- although we did hear of some lightning strikes in the Valley near Pleasanton. It is that time of year when parents go collecting bookbags and supplies from Walgreens, start toting up the expenses and time commitments for the soccer games and the lunches and the uniforms for those kids suffered unto the unique punishment known as Private School.

Sister Rosencranz and Sister Felipe and Sister Maria have been scurrying about the rooms of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint cleaning up blackboards, stocking the chalk, opening boxes of new textbooks and shoving chairs and chattering about scheduling with their black habits flapping behind like a murder of crows.

Old Gaia, sitting on the porch of the world has begun without the slightest sign of having done so, to turn her craggy face from the splendor of her Son, Phoebus Appollo, in his golden chariot. The summer of 2013, which ought to have been, numerologically speaking, a time of mishap, is quietly passing out the door in some verdant veld bedecked with sunflowers and poppies.

Unless you happen to have friends in Syria or Egypt, where certainly life has taken an unfortunate turn, life on the Island continues apace as it has for the past entire century of uneventfulness. The apocalypse did not happen.

The Angry Elf gang torched a car in front of La Penca Azul this past week so as to issue a warning to the establishment to pay up their "insurance." The gang never approaches the owner or head chef directly -- such people always maintain such an upright bearing that the activities of the gang would have long since been shuttered by the Law. They typically find a lower echelon employee with access to the funds to extract and make payments on a semi-regular basis. It is really quite ingenious, for if caught, the employee is tried and sentenced for embezzlement, all the while claiming that they were innocently trying to protect the business against mobsters.

Other than that little warning, the only fires of any consequence raged far to the east near the charming swash of tree-bordered kitsch known as Groveland, California.

Officer O'Madhauen's speech entitled "Mindfulness and the Turn Signal" went over really well at the regional meeting of the National Association of Traffic Enfeebled and Directionally Challenged. Floyd, head of the Non Compos Mentis chapter of Rotarian Affiliates, did comment privately to Officer O'Madhauen that it seemed the language of the speech and its title could not possibly have been written by him.

The Officer did admit, privately, that he had enjoyed a bit of help from a Sgt. Carbondale. He did not add that Carbondale's main job at the department was in the capacity of Admin Assistant. Why clutter the field with details and facts?

On a quietly cooling evening at the close of summer, the high fog began its age-old roll through the Golden Gate, creeping over the hills in battalions of Tolkein ghosts. Ms. Morales sat at her table preparing lesson plans for the coming year at Longfellow Middle School.

Officer O'Madhauen sat in his cruiser in that wide space on Sherman where it crosses Buena Vista beside the Old Cannery, sipping his styrofoam coffee and watching for a yellow light dodger.

Up in the Greek temple, Joshua bedded down for the night next to the altar, after a humble meal and preparing to spirit out in the next week so as to board a plane for Venezuela, there to taste the bitter bread of exile and enforced expatriotism for the rest of his life for the crime of whistleblowing on the corrupt Security Service, which had practiced torture, illegal wiretapping, drug smuggling, and perverse consort with poodles. The moon, bella luna, stroked his brown to sleep through the stained glass windows.

Outside and across the street, Mr. Strict sat in his SUV with his Colt .45 ready beside him, reading his Soldier of Fortune magazine and making notes on where to send money for eavesdropping equipment.

In the Old Same Place Bar, the clink of glasses tinkled with the splash of water behind the bar as Suzie performed the Sisyphian task of washing bar glassware and Denby trickled his guitar arpeggios next to the snug where Eugene planned his next trout expedition.

Down Snoffish Valley Road, the kids ran a few drag races point to point, but because the cops never came and nobody interesting showed up and it was all lame, they went to get Ben & Jerry's ice cream. So nobody crashed and nobody went to the hospital that night.

The Editor paused after doing what he had to do. He then went about the place turning off lights, shutting down machines left on. All the staffers had left for the night and he was left alone in the offices by himself. Earl would not come by to empty the trash until morning and tonight was Darlene's night off this time of month. He sat then in front of the computer monitor, doing what he had been doing each week for the past eighteen years, quite alone. Doing all for Company.

It was a quiet night on the island. People slept well, those who slept, and those who did not passed the time with equanimity. It was a quiet night with no one screaming and no one got shot. It was a rare night for all of that.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and silent chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


August 18, 2013


This week's photo comes from the sea-going gadabout Tammy and is proof positive there are other islands in the Bay besides Alcatraz. Population on this little rock is just one -- the lighthouse keeper.


It's been a while since we did an international survey of the media, from the Middle East, all of Europe and a touch of Africa and Asia. We are getting some interesting contacts from the Land Down Under and hope shortly to have some insights into such things as why Tongans hate and despise Fiji Islanders with an enmity going back hundreds of years, what is happening in Samoan cricket matches, to the latest scutttlebutt from Chinese kids getting wild via online gaming.

We so hate to be Euro-centric, but we deal with what we have in linguistic ability at the time and Le Monde, El Mundo, Frankfurter Allgemein, Der Spiegel and that foreign language rag, the Telegraph, remain our staples.

That's all coming up, so stay tuned.


Right now its all about Land. No, not Patti Smith's double CD release -- which actually has a few songs that would provide a good background theme music to our opera here -- but development in the Contested Areas. Well, the Point, Boatworks, and Crab Cove/Neptune Pointe (sic).

People protesting In-N-Out Burger in a futile toss against done-deal action got a front page rebuff from the IPD, which appears to be on a major image-improvement campaign, what with the memorial to slain officers (all of two in forty years), pancake breakfasts, and social media outreach. To be sure the Department badly needs this Positive PR as we well know doing what we do, nobody notices you when things go well, but when things go off the rails, your ass is on the griddle right away and nothing of the past will help you.

The IPD has done some things well; it also has done some things wretchedly bad. The Island remains much safer than its neighbors in terms of violent crime and perception of threat. It also lost the City Jail for a time because of malfeasance on the part of officers in the cells and it went through a nasty episode when officers were caught blathering racist cant on their radios and they let a man die for the sake of making a point about the budget only a year ago. There is also an attitude among some officers who feel that if the issue is not solidly defensible right away, then the entire matter is not important and so the citizen might as well take a hike and seek therapy for being robbed and violated.

We will not go into the couple of overtly corrupt officers that everyone knows about, and which chills the entire approach of some people towards using the IPD for any reason.

Well, nobody is perfect. Which is well to remember going forward. A couple bad apples in a force this size is pretty good odds, most experienced people will say, and in a broad sense, the police sort of generally do their job. They probably will not take care of your needs if you get robbed specifically, but generally speaking, it is less likely the event will happen than in some other places, which seems to be the thrust of their operation - to preserve social order. If you feel the Social Order does not support or endorse or protect you and your family, then you fall into the category of those who do not like police. If you have something to gain by the Social Order, then the police more or less work for you.

The police see no connection between crime and the fast food outlet In-N-Out-Burger. Of course there is none. There IS connection between the sum totality of development at that site combined with ten others. Yes, crime will happen, but not because of one burger joint.

In other development news, people are now talking about a coherent and reasonable plan for the Crab Cove/Beachfront area. This should have happened a while ago, but now an Op-Ed piece in the Sun talks about "A Common Sense Approach for Crab Cove." Unfortunately, bad sense may prevail as the City inexplicably allowed a zoning change to permit the Texan developer to build a pile down there where everyone had expected the process to lead to assignment of the former federal land to the EBPRD. Blather about "housing elements" and state law compliance are just that - a lot of blather.

Development on the Island in many places does not make sense, but the Neptune Pointe (sic) project is a particularly egregious example of how greased palms enabled some really bad decisions.


Hey people! Bay Bridge is closed Labor Day Weekend all Weekend! Check the signs!


So anyway. Wally's son is still holed up in the sanctuary of the Greek Orthodox Church way up in the Oaktown hills while the TSA, the NSA, the IRA and the NRA all are looking to nab him. Mr. Stark has been sitting out there on that slope for weeks now, drinking bad coffee from styrofoam cups and eating bagels he collects from the Boogie Woogie Bagel Boy before driving over the bridge and up that hill to post himself religiously in place of Cmdr. Stark who has sat there watching the door all night in his 1977 Volvo, the only car ever made that can seriously intimidate and do damage to an SUV or a Hummer. Its compact body fashioned of solid rolled steel for the American Market caused freeway weight scales to groan from two lanes distance. Once Stark cut a stationwagon in half without noticing when he drifted through a stopsign while texting his buddies at Soldier of Fortune Magazine, and only realized what had happened when he noticed the poodle impaled on the radio antenna. That and all the screaming.

Mr. Stark eased his modest Eldorado into the space vacated by Stark and got out his binoculars and camera.

Wally's Son, Joshua, got into a bit of a pickle after releasing top secret documents about the Mayor's clandestine Predator program in which New Mexico chilies were being smuggled over the border by some gay cowboy named Oliver South to pay radical fundamentalist dognappers to secretly spy upon the Schnauzer network that was working to destabilize the municipal government of Newark, itself an hotbed of terrierist activity.

It might sound rough having to sleep in the pews of a rough hewn church up in the fog belt of Oaktown, but the Greeks had long ago worked out deals with their neighbors the Church of Latter Day Saints, which featured as spectacular an underground network of tunnels and chapels and grottos as the gold-plated ediface that had stood there since about 1839. Well, not the exact same building, but a steadily improved model that began about the time a shipload of Mormons arrived in California looking to get away from the hated American flag so as to start a New Zion. Begun in liberty and dedicated to the principle all men are, more or less, equal, the American Republic had stomped on the toes of

Well it took six months in those days to sail around the Horn from Boston to San Francisco, and what had been solidly Mexico when those boys started, turned out to be solidly something else by the time they arrived, much to their consternation, for when the Mormon battalion of 1000 faithful sailed into San Francisco Bay, they looked up to see not the Mexican flag flying at the Presidio, but the detested American flag, put there by Commodore Stockton.

The Mormon battalion found it too much trouble to go to Utah from there and so they stayed and built on the Oaktown hills their splendid temple above the earth, and their splendid subterranean city below. This city had its secret passages, known only to the Elect, the Illuminati, and select members of the Order of Masons.

In this manner, Joshua was able to sneak underneath Mr. Stark's Eldorado into the Mormon Complex by means of a door behind the Tabernacle and so get some refreshment other than souvlaki and dolmas and that atrocious retsina wine and then sneak back again to peer out and give Mr. Stark a jolt now and then.

All Governments spy on one another of course, and so do one's neighbors. Everyone knows that, but Joshua really cooked the bacon when he outed the papers that detailed all the shenanigans and the hot tubbing.

He really did not think some people would get so angry -- after all, no one seriously considers the government of Newark to be worth the slightest notice, not even itself, for they do not even have a hall for the city council to meet, preferring to gather informally in livingrooms for taxation and tea with crumpets. After all, what kind of place has such low self esteem that it names itself "Newark"?

In any case, Pahrump has been driving up from the lowlands on his scooter to bring little care packages for the famous whistleblower.

Joshua even had an equally famous visitor who made his way through the clandestine tunnels. Gobetweens arranged the meeting in a non-descript passageway of dripping brick and moody backlit shots done in blue tones with lots of shadow. He appeared wearing a cape in an archway. Touch of fog, wisps . . .

Julian, it is you.

Oui, Mssr. C'est moi.

Julian, you have brought the power of the State to heel with your revelations! Now they are after you!

Ah, Monsieur. I am nothing. The State is Nothing. L'Etat? C'est moi. But you are admirable!

Me? Humble me? Why is that?

Me? I am but L'etranger. Even the pseudo-crimes they charge me with are strange and somehow foreign. But you. You are American.

Man I aint nobody but Wally's son livin' in the damn church pews I gotta watch out if I even order pizza delivery . . . .

America, America, Julian said. Look at yourselves. You now surround your greatest monuments with concrete barriers like they are so important. You surround your fabled White House and your Congress with concertina wire. You hound your best journalists and you keep concentration camps, you practice murder, and you have even gone to the furthest extreme no despotic regime in history, not even Nazi Germany, ever did, you publicly excuse the practice of torture. My god, what have you people done to yourselves? You are not a Democracy. You are not even a sadass Republic!

You have become a nation of fools.

A Nation selling its freedoms for false security. A security that always will remain conveniently aloof, just out of reach. Save for just a little more concertina wire. A few higher walls -- along the border no doubt, yes? -- a little more torture and you will be fine, just fine.

But you, my friend, have shown that L'Etat c'est ne pas moi -- c'est nous. The State is Us! Yes? Me, they can always deride as one of those cheese-eating frogs. But not you, my friend. You have the red blood in you and you must fight now for your country and your life. Me, I now only fight for my life and . . . certain abstractions. Don't waste your time protecting cold monuments to what used to be; they are just rocks. The Nation is its people and you can never be totally destroyed.

But Julian, what can I do? Who am I?

Never forget who you are in reality, Julian said. You are a rebel. And that is what you always must be. Now I must go. . . .

Down on Central the Central Baptist Church held its Rock of Ages festival which featured a large Bounce House, a novelty that had gained some popularity at big parties. A Bounce House featured a huge inflatable structure in which over-amped kids could jump and slam themselves around to their heart's content and so weary themselves out to their parents ever grateful admiration. \

Nobody was exactly sure what this all had to do with the Gospel and so forth but unlike the Gospel, this was hella fun.

Down at the Old Same Place Bar all the regulars are discussing the various qualities of the In-N-Out Burger.

"The thing about the place is that they do one thing and they do it well. Because they do only one thing. They make burgers. No frilly and no sauce. I like that," Padraic said.

"Yeah but the one over on Hegenberger serves up junk," the Man from Minot said. "It's not like the place in Fremont."

Everyone there had to agree. The Hegenberger place really stunk; the burgers there were just too pedestrian with no effort put into them. They all hoped the new one on the Island would take a different direction. Better burger. Better fries.

Someone else recalled a joint in Escondido that was the pits while someone else recalled a joint in either Pittsburg or Petaluma where the burgers were pure heaven, especially at two in the morning.

Then there is the place on Grand Lake someone said, which has come and gone and returned in quality, and someone else said, well that is not an In-N-Out Burger so shaddup.

It was generally agreed that not all In-N-Out Burgers were the same and the jury would remain out on this one until the grill was fired up and all was said and done.

Suzie sat behind the bar and read her anthropology text for the next exam. "The Bonobo are a jovial group, averse to the internecine warfare that decimates other populations. For this reason, the Bonobo have thrived in their native habitat for many thousands of years in peace and harmony with neighboring tribes . . . .

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed and silent chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

AUGUST 11, 2013

We thought we would take a break from sunflowers, the Bay Bridge and your usual Island obnoxious chipper attitude to bring you a pic of one of our native sons performing in far distant Deutschland. Kinda keep the flavor of Outside Lands going for a bit.

This is Greg DeHoedt performing with Hounds and Harlots in Duelmen. He is married to Stacey, a born and raised San Franciscan now transplanted to Ohio, but both former Islanders. And such will they always be in our hearts, along with their 8 month old new family edition.


JJ Cale, the man Clapton said was a far better guitar player than himself, passed away a week or so ago. Old Slowhand played many of Cale's songs and sometimes performed with the author of ditties like Cocaine and They Call Me the Breeze. One of the disadvantages of survival is having to watch a lot of old, dear friends walk on ahead of you.

Heard tell Outside Lands got socked in with a fair amount of fog for its three days of outdoor music. This year Sir Paul McCartney joined in for Sunday and a soulful piano version of Let It Be, with our favorite native sons, RHCP, coming on at 8pm and Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs at 8:45pm. Also heard the Killers did one of their in the slot shows.

Band of Horses, the group that fronted for the Counting Crows and during which set obnoxious people talked all over held thousands of concertgoers riveted this time.

Each one of those folks still out there in Golden Gate Park better like their immediate neighbors 'cause the way it looks, if you are there now, you will not get home until next morning with all the traffic.

It was all over the Journal this week - they nabbed the getaway driver in last month's botched robbery of the Bonfare Market in which one would-be thief was wounded and another shot dead by an off-duty sheriff. Elbert McBride was arrested at his scheduled probation meeting. Because a man was shot to death during a commission of a crime, McBride will be charged with murder according to California law that handles accomplices with the same severity as principal actors.

The wounded robber is Marc Traylor, an Island resident. He was arrested for possession of narcotics when he showed up at the Hospital with gunshot injuries. All men are 41 years of age.

The deputy's name is not being released at this time.

In another crime incident, the Webster Street branch of Citibank was hit by another takeover heist, which is a normally rare event for a bank -- despite the movies -- however in the past fifteen years virtually every single branch on the Island has been robbed, some twice. The Bank of Alameda on Park Street was robbed by a lone perp on July 26th.

The style of robbery and physical description of the lone robber matches a robbery that took place in Hayward. In both robberies here and in Hayward one man in his twenties wore a bright "Road Worker" vest. He is described as being Black, six feet in height and between 150-160 pounds, which would be rather slender.

As for the Citibank robbery, two men, aged 30-35, Black, and standing about 5'6" and 5'9" respectively, worked together. They also appear to have been better fed as weight for the two is listed as 160-180 and a chunky 180-200 for the taller fellow.

People with info can call IPD at 510-337-8340.

In more pacific news items we see that CVS will not be occupying that vacant lot that used to be Ron Good Chevy. Walgreens is now expected to take that slot. A brief review of plans indicates an 85 spot parkinglot -- badly needed there -- plus plenty of bicycle racks, which ought to please Patti St. John our local pedal activist. City planners are requesting architecture that matches the neighboring Marketplace and no obtrusive signage.

Could it be that something will finally go right with Development here?

As we reported a few weeks ago, Marina View Towers got purchased by SF-based Carmel Partners, who summarily evicted every single resident of the 8 story, 84 unit building. Reason given - earthquake retrofitting required. We expect that the costs will probably be "passed on to the tenants." The new ones of course. Sheesh.

The Sun has a nice review of how SunCal, the obnoxious group that tried to pull several fast ones on the City in developing the Point, finally getting ousted when simple greed was insufficient for their needs. They would have had us all paying for millions of dollars of sewer, gas, electricity, and street conditioning as part of their deal and voters downed their plan by an extensive margin. Ultimately they turned their backs and sued us for several million since they are not very good at building stuff here or it seems any place in California.

In the Letters we see people are still carping in rather jejune ways about the anti-cigarette ordinance, which seems to be enforced by the gendarmes about as much as driving while cell-phone blathering. Both acts can kill people, but hey, there is a case for reasonable jurisprudence here in which public safety and common sense need to start holding hands with a recognition that you cannot absolutely guarantee perfect order no matter what you do. People will be stupid and they will be callous and rude and sometimes all at the same time and no amount of force can prevent it, especially when some of these folks consider it to be a matter of opinion and preference.

Look at all the jerks who still drive SUVs for example. Actually perfect order sounds perfectly hideous -- we saw a good part of that back in the DDR under Hoenecker and Co. The DDR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Mussolini's Italy -- they were all perfectly orderly places.

Anyway the Letters to the Editor always remains one of the more entertaining sections of the paper, so we have to thank folks getting their panties in a twist over trivialities when the entire world seems on a relentless career towards crash and burn. There seems no end to some people's earnest desire to control other people in some kind of Brown Shirt style on this Island. Gotta love the . . . um . . . lady of years who wrote a response letter a week ago defending her boos of one particular parade float during the Mayor's July 4th Parade, recalling the onerous period of time when women were supposed to sit down, be pretty, cross their legs, and speak softly.

The response was to a vent from someone who felt she should keep her political opinions to herself on July 4th, that festival which celebrates rebellion. We suppose so that the physical parade in front of him would more closely match the one traipsing through the Norman Rockwell diorama of his own mind.


So anyway, Harmon, who caretakes the Church of the Sanctified Elvis with its Grotto, has been hustling about the place patching up leaks and vacuuming the 10 foot tall velvet portrait of the King in the Grotto for the 16th marks the 36th anniversary of the death of Elvis, which annual milestone always drew crowds to the Grotto which kept the dental crown that some say probably was what killed the cultural icon. Addicted to prescription drugs, Elvis had been taking Diazepam, Amytal, Nembutal, Carbrital, Sinutab, Elavil, Avental, Valmid, Morphine, Demerol, Chloropheniramine (an OTC antihistamine), tranquilizers Placidyl and Valium and the sleeping pill Ethinamate, along with Qaaludes and a barbiturate -- all of which were found in his system by the coroner -- however it is thought the codeine administered by his dentist the previous day was the fellow that had provoked anaphylactic shock. No doubt in combination with everything else.

In any case, the Island Grotto retained the King's crown in a glass case, reliquary for the dead saint. The death is a curious date for remembrance -- Elvis was born January 8 -- but show business is show business.

Officer O'Madhauen has been invited to speak at this summer's convocation of the Non Compos Mentis Chapter of the National Association of Directionally Challenged and Traffic Enfeebled once again. Again to speak on the use and misuse of that seldom-used automotive feature, the turn signal.

you always can keep your hat on

A co-speaker on what promises to be a vastly interesting panel on signal deception and evasive maneuver, will be Linda Lacelove Golightly, she of the famous New York Tiffany dynasty of traffic specialists. Her grandmother, Holly Golightly acquired some renown decades before this current crop of gadabouts and honking wannabes in the field of Urban Traffic Dissonance. Her grandmother's advice, on learning of Linda's decision to pursue the family traditional avocation, was succinct: "Always wear a really good hat when trafficking, my dear. I've always enjoyed the most delightful moving violations while wearing my hat. And you know, the one thing that is always allowed -- you can take off anything they wish, but you always can keep your hat on."

The Department is quite happy to employ a body at 78 cents on the dollar

Officer O'Madhauen, inspired by such distinguished company, has been writing and rewriting his speech for weeks with the help of the office Admin Assistant, Susan Carbondale. Susan is actually a police sergeant in the Department, but, needs are what they are in this time of cutbacks and she is the only officer who can type. The Department is quite happy to employ a body at 78 cents on the dollar compared to the regular Force they can toss into a cruiser, run riot squad, do forensics, walk graveyard beat and then type and file to boot. Can't see a problem there.

Susan has added some new twists to the annual talk about turn signals. "That thing which sticks out of the steering column -- that is a turn signal. It is not attached to your genitalia. Nothing will come loose if you yank on it and you are encouraged to do so and often. Most of you will enjoy the sensation -- the sound that echoes in your head and the hot flash. The little light that comes on will not hurt you; you can still have children after flicking the turn signal. You will not develop hairy palms. People will know where you are going. Any questions?"

Officer O'Madhauen has never delivered a speech like this, but something about it sounds correct, so he is keeping the changes.

if Steven Hawking is correct that we all shall go the way of the dodo in a century.

Night fell and no one got hurt. The Editor hunched over his desk, his few remaining white hairs flying about his head in the light of the desklamp a corolla. All through the offices chairs pushed back, lamps snicked off, computer fans whirled to a silence and night brought pools of shadow to the corners where everything had been all chatter and clicking and telephones before. The violet hour when the human engine sits over its desk had long departed, leaving this gradual entropy, a mirror of things to come in perhaps several thousand years, or sooner if Steven Hawking is correct that we all shall go the way of the dodo in a century.

For the last humans the world will be like an entire office floor going dark one cubicle at a time, the temperature having risen briefly to something uncomfortable followed by the inexorable cooling of the atmosphere, the chilly drafts blowing over the hard nugget of the earth and all the light fading until the last led winks out and the last man on his hands and knees keels over, barking into extinction, leaving only empty chairs witnessing the end of history, ruins and silence.

Then come the roaches to devour whatever is left.

Out there the Angry Elf gang was at work,

But for now the Editor sits at his desk in a pool of desklight surrounded by darkness, doing all for Company. In the Inbox sat the renewal to his KQED membership and his endorsement for NPR, the thin wavy line of radio waves that alone stood as the boundary against the Barbarian hordes. Out there the Angry Elf gang was at work, their arsonists burning down another restaurant, their extortionists extracting another dollar from a helpless business at the point of a gun. Narita Lightfinger was shoplifting from another store and her companion, Bryan Stump, was doing another 2nd story job.

For now, there was Life and he was the man in position to defend the City and rip loose the thin veneer of its placid exterior to show the rotten corruption beneath.

The Masters of Destruction strode about their boardrooms, designing the planet's wreck.

For now, there was Life and Art and Musik, slender dykes against the tsunami of Evil and he was the man in position to defend the City and rip loose the thin veneer of its placid exterior to show the rotten corruption beneath. The Media Man.

Somewhere out there high in some technocratic tower a genius financier ponders an iron mask. In some deep grotto, a troubled figure begins to climb up the stone walls of an oubliette, while below the prisoners are chanting. In the vast ravined desert a small figure casts his beloved cookpots into the abyss, knowing there will be no return for him and his companion as they trudge through the slag waste, bearing their charge toward the fiery Unnamable.

Somewhere heroes and heroines wait to awaken, in some murky omphalos, warriors of mankind remain unborn and Athena has yet to spring from the brow of Zeus, hearkening his clarion call.

It's a dark night in a City that knows how to keep its secrets, but in the Offices of Island-Life sat one man in a haze of purple light, pondering Life's Persistent Questions.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the merciful waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the gentle grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, and snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

Ride The River

Floatin' down that old river boy, all my worries far behind,
Floatin' down that old river boy, leave old memories way behind,
Yesterday is slowly fadin',
All my life, I've been waitin', for this time.

Floatin' down that old river boy, leaves me feelin' good inside,
Floatin' down that old river boy, tryin' to get to the other side,
Yesterday is slowly fadin',
I been waitin', now forever, for this ride.

Ride the river in this boat, ride the river.
Ride the river in this boat, ride the river.
Ride the river in this boat, ride the river.
Ride the river in this boat, ride the river.

Floatin' down that old river boy, all my worries far behind,
Floatin' down that old river boy, leave old memories way behind,
Yesterday is slowly fadin',
I been waitin', now forever, for this ride


Ride The River - J.J. Cale (Key of A, Capo 3rd Fret)


AUGUST 4, 2013


We forget sometimes in our busy lives that we do indeed live on an island and this island has something big surrounding it. This week we have a photo of something so common we no longer see him as strange and curious and entirely unknown to many people cemented within the packed masonry of States.


You might not hear that train coming for a couple reasons. BART union officials gave a 72 hour strike notice as talks stalled before the weekend although talks plodded through. Governor Jerry Brown proved his worth by requesting a 7 day hold on that which the Union seems to be respecting. The Governor does, after all, have the National Guard at his disposal.

But behind this fracas has been the no less acrimonious CALTRANS labor dispute which primarily concerns buses, but may rope in a number of other entities. The union there elected to forestall strike tactics as a sympathy measure for the Bay Area during the BART imbroglio, however it seems management has pushed things a bit too far with this concession and now, in addition to the subway system we very well may see the entire bus system go down in days. Here is the latest hot item over the wire from ACtransit's spokesperson Cynthia Vincent:

"At noon today, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192 gave the AC Transit Board of Directors notice of its intention to impose a labor strike involving 1,625 bus operators and mechanics. Although negotiations are continuing, it now appears that the ATU employees may refuse to work beginning at 12:01 AM, Wednesday, August 7, 2013.

A work stoppage by the ATU will shutdown all AC Transit bus operations. This disruption would impact the 181,000 daily bus riders who travel in the East Bay or on to the Peninsula and San Francisco.

The AC Transit Board of Directors and management want to assure riders that the District is doing everything possible to reach a resolution and minimize negative impacts on bus service. Through its negotiating team, the Board entered into negotiations in good faith with sincere intentions of offering competitive salaries, amenable working conditions, and a willingness to consider reasonable ATU proposals.

AC Transit management, in an effort to avoid a service disruption, has proposed wage increases totaling 9% over a three-year contract.

The District has proposed that ATU employees contribute 10% of the cost of the monthly premiums for their health and welfare insurance. This contribution would be phased in over three years and is in keeping with all other AC Transit employees, management, executives, and Board Members who already contribute 10% of the cost of their monthly health care premiums."

We do live in interesting times.


This week the editorial staff took a much needed break for a music holiday up on the River. Life goes on without us however, and it seems more and more people are getting steamed about the Manhattanization of the Island, or at least about the odd McKay Avenue development which has some definite weirdness about it.

Briefly, the Feds owned land on a point accessible by a single road that abuts the Crab Cove Center, which is a part of the the East Bay Regional Parks District. There had been an informal"gentleman's agreement" or tacit understanding that when the Feds decided to unload the property they would hand the parcel over to the EBRPD.

Voters approved Measure WW a while back to allow for expansion of the parks and in this case, there really is only one direction for Crab Cove and the Strand to go -- west toward McKay Avenue.

In a strange maneuver, City Hall, which supposedly has no vested interest there, revised the zoning for the parcel and subsequently the parcel was put up for auction. Due to fiscal limits the EBRPD could only bid a certain amount for the land and so the parcel was purchased by a developer who wants to put 60+ exclusive high value townhouse homes there. One can quibble about the nature of the designs submitted and parking and so forth, however the main sticking points concern the land use revision and the acrimonious melee going on between neighbors, City Hall, the EBRPD, and the unfortunate developer. Every interested party seems dedicated to puffing smokescreens and distorting facts. Turns out now that McKay avenue itself and that parcel will need substantial infrastructure put in if somebody wants to put homes there, and somebody "assumed" the developer would foot the bill for sewage, water, gas, electricity, and whatnot for an area that has long been sheds and parkinglots.

As for the rezoning done as part of the City's compliance with state housing laws, we have yet to see specific laws delineated and we have yet to see how McKay Avenue became part of the General Plan Housing Element and reasons for inclusion. We know of no state laws that force any municipality to increase high end living space according to a strict schedule, and suspect any such law would have serious problems if challenged in court. In any case, as the Point is under consideration for development, along with a number of other sites already slated for housing construction, McKay Avenue is not required for any kind on General Plan.

As for In-N-Out Burger to the "northwest territories" and Safeway's now permitted 24 hours of operation, people grumbled but no one really took serious effective action against what are really minor pimples on a fat toad of development.

In speaking with an SF landlord who owns substantial amounts of property and has over 45 years of development experience we learned that $2200 per month and two months deposit is "sub-market" rent now for a one bedroom in Babylon across the water. Well that sort of thing is coming here and a lot of people do not like it.

Regarding the Point, City Hall is at very least going through the motions of trying to establish just what people want for the former Navy Base. People can go to or to the Facebook page,


So anyway, What Would the Flying Spaghetti Monster Do (WWFSMD), that is the question. Some people feel that the CFSM (Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) is old hat. Been around too long. Well they don't say that about the pope or the Catholic Church now do they? So when did Buddha get so old fashioned? Was it two or was it three thousand years ago? Moses? Sure, that old fellow been venerated by people maybe a bit much. So he parted the Red Sea (with a little help) and maybe he wandered the desert for 40 years in a time when the average lifespan of a human was about thirty. A smarter macher would have stopped after about a year or two and set up a frozen yogurt stand and some fake gates and charged admission right there in the Negev. The CFSM is just getting started and we are taking names and signups for our next prophets plus a few martyrs. Bluebeard maybe. Richard Teach. The mind boggles. Especially when you know that the malignancy of old pirates is just a Christian conspiracy to conceal the truth.

Pirates are God's Chosen People

The real pirates were all nice and genteel and practiced charity every day, promoted school lunches, and helped old ladies and children across the street. They were not bloodthirsty hounds such as painted by the priests and deacons. The pirates of yesteryear - not modern pirates like they still have off the coast of Somalia and Malay and inside JP Morgan -- were indeed God's Chosen People.

So anyway some more. There has been quite a flap down in Silly Hall ever since Wally's son, Joshua, released top secret documents about the Mayor's clandestine Predator program in which New Mexico chilies were being smuggled over the border to pay radical fundamentalist dognappers to secretly spy upon the Schnauzer network that was working to destabilize the municipal government of Newark. Which itself had been a hotbed of terrierist activity and rebellious fomentation.

It sounds complicated, but really, it is all quite simple.

Most people -- well quite a lot of big people with strong opinions and yellow ribbons glued to their SUV bumpers -- felt the program was a case of defending the sovereignty of the Island against potential poodle-lovers and other radicals. Others felt unwarranted surveillance of citizens by a municipality was going a bridge too far in terms of overreaching authority, but the Mayor insisted that no cat-owners or innocent owners of decent canine breeds were ever violated. In this way, at least. Uh . . . meaning, by the program. Uh . . . just keep reading when it gets confusing. Trying to make sense of inanity will not work.

In fact quite a number of pet owners were outraged.

"Where is the accountability?" shouted Ms. Pandora Thighripple of the Island Hostesses of History at a recent meeting. "How am I to know my budgies are safe?"

Indeed, the entire affair, now called the Coin-o-Mat scandal, because information was exchanged in doggie bags in the Laundromat on Park Street which suffered a mysterious CIA drone strike a year ago, seemed tailor-made to bring down the Presidency of the Native Sons of the Golden West.

"Facts", as Senator Benton used to say back in the day, "are useless things."

Of course the Native Sons had nothing to do with this ugliness or with Cpl. Ollie South who cowboyed his way up and down 101 ferrying illegal immigrant poodles packed into slatted pickup trucks, and kegs of Happy Powder as part of this devious scheme, however the Conservative Party never has paused for long in consideration of facts. "Facts", as Senator Benton used to say back in the day, "are useless things." Indeed, his thoughts have been the bulwark of the GOP for over one hundred years after Lincoln was laid safely to rest.

But anyway that is not what this is all about. This is about the very human tragedy of Wally's son, Joshua, who was forced to take refuge in the Greek Orthodox Church up on the hill with the gendarmes, the CIA, the ASPCA, the TSA, the HSA, the California Native Plants Association, and the Island Secret Police seeking his blood. Of course he will never be able to come home now, not with all those folks and FOX news along with rabid Ann Coulter hating on his sorry ass.

Every once in a while Joshua peeks his head out the door and Ann Coulter barks at him. It's enough to make a man swear off sex for a year to look at that woman foaming at the mouth.

Proud of the boy sticking up for his convictions

People say, "Wally are you not ashamed of your traitor son?" and he responds, "Heck no. Proud of the boy sticking up for his convictions and taking it on the lam. Not like that Witherspoon boy who just surrendered all meek like to the Marines. If my boy wants to borrow my .50 cal pistol and wipe a battalion of them poodles, hell, he can just take it up any day."

Well the situation is quite complex, let alone what all that Happy Powder Olllie South brought in did to places like Oakland. These days Ollie South lives in a compound in Turlock surrounded by barbed wire and machine-gun emplacements, so perhaps justice is done in that the man, living in fear of all the sour deals he foisted on savage thugs lives pretty much in the same emotive state he generated in Fruitvale where pretty much everybody lives in expectation to die in a hail of gunfire.

So anyway even some more. Pahrump drove up the hill on his scooter with Jose to deliver a care package of bialys and cream cheese and bagels and wine from Rosenblum cellars -- Ruth and the tzadik of Temple Beth Israel put that one together so you can just imagine what else was in the basket -- and Jeremy from the CFSM included a Tupperware container of pasta, all of which was fully appreciated up there on the hill in the fog where the golden spires of the LDS temple reach to whatever heaven is allowed the likes of us.

Down through the fog and the remaining conifers of Oaktown descended Pahrump with Jose on his chattering scooter to return to the Island on the last ferry.

And all these things were observed from the periscope of the ever vigilant Iranian spy submarine El Chadoor. "Captain, how can it be that such people can demonstrate such kindness to someone so embittered and cast out?" The First Mate asked of his superior officer.

"It is said by the Prophet," said the Captain, "And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah." (42:43).

"I think I should go forth and say this to the men, for they do not seem to understand why we do not launch our missiles right away and so demolish them in a fury that would of course demolish ourselves as well," said the First Mate, who was inclined to be rash.

by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently.

"Mohammed, verily you are aptly named for unto you must come the whispering in the ear and a command thence to recite for know this. It is also said, "And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over their faults, and ask Allah's Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust in Him." (3:159)

"You have given me much to ponder," the First Mate said.

And with that, the periscope descended beneath the surface of the estuary and the spy sub ran silent, ran deep out through the channel and under the Golden Gate unseen and undetected to the open sea.

That night in the Old Same Place Bar the discussion was about whether Joshua's revelations about the spy program had aided and abetted the enemies of the Island and there was a lot of acrimonious discussion about the matter until Padraic spoke up. "I tink it seems to me, you should know and set out just who these enemies happen to be." Here he paused. "And it was said in the Book of Pogo, "I have met the enemy -- and they are us."

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the merciful waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the gentle grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the forgiving open spaces of the former Beltline, and snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

JULY 28, 2013


This lady might be in need of some blow dry, or perhaps this is a metaphor for the marginalization of feminine cognitive discourse. Or it just might be the answer to knowing why the caged bird sings.

Maybe she just wants her nails done while formulating an additional component to string theory in physics. This week's headline foto is from the storefront at Mary Rose's hair salon on Park Street, where you can expect the unexpected, as well as really good treatments. Mary Rose shills on the evenings as an assistant bartender at our favorite Local, the Lucky 13, where the beer is cold and the women too hot to handle.

You can always count on drama at the Lucky 13, and you can count on Mary Rose's salon to hear all about it under the dryers.


Summertime is a time for most places to chill and for the newsroom to slack off on stories about stranded kitties in trees and boat problems at the marina. Things got rather hot around here when an off-duty sheriff popped a couple wannabe robbers at the Bonfare Market on High Street with his revolver. One fellow died -- his name was Laroy Brown -- and the other fellow appears to have checked into the hospital, although reports vary as to whether this man was the same man who tried to rob the market at gunpoint.

Yes, so many people seem to be getting shot around here nowadays, it is so difficult to locate and identify them all.

The two weekly papers carried the same story with essentially the same language, although the bylines for the Sun are for Evanosky, and for the Journal Bender and Hegarty. Both stories wrote substantially about the previous robbery where a customer or employee of the market was pistol-whipped, so there is little info to collect, save for the fact that businesses near any one of the bridges face some high risks now for violent crime.

The Bonfare is a fairly innocuous store with a small frontage on a section of High Street in an area that features narrow streets possessing the narrow form factor created back in 1850. Part of the opposite side of the street is the Lincoln Park. It is six short blocks from the High Street Bridge and does not feature any major alternative routes for someone seeking to flee a crime scene as the store is barely one block from the estuary cutout. Some of us are wondering what kind of imbecile would pick a target with such limited exit possibilities, but that goes into the lamentable state of public education as it has become today, where the kids just do not seem to be getting critical reasoning skills.

This sort of rough-stuff is adding fuel to people's anger about the sundry development projects that all seem to be reaching fruition within a ten-month period, resulting in a net addition of some 12% -18% local population increase.

These days we may be looking at the end days of Island life as we knew it, with our little festivals and music in the park, our calm tree-lined avenues devoid of urban weirdness and such quaint curiosities as kids playing stickball in the street. In-N-Out burger has been fully approved, Target is under construction, Safeway has the full go-ahead for all it wants regarding hours of operation and the gasoline station out at the Landing, McKay Avenue seems a done deal with a couple hundred folks going in there with only minor noise about the sudden rezoning that made that one possible, the Lincoln Street low income housing project is now getting the roof put on, the Point has firm projects lined up for another 2,000 people, the Boatworks area looks like to be finally on a juggernaut headed for more housing that will add another few hundred souls here to the traffic and crime statistics and the "Gateway" folks seem headed for victory to add another couple hundred while people are dithering regarding the "historic" high school that enjoys its marvelously firm and well-built fencing constructed -- or so it seems -- without benefit of competitive bidding. Ron Cowan's outfit now has popped up like, as one letter-writer put it, "a wack-a-mole" to try and secure land belonging to someone else so that yet more housing can be built on Harbor Bay Island. And now we seem on the fast track to raise the height limit for the "Gateway" to allow even more people to come and live here.

You all had better hope their music tastes match your own, because you are going to get an earful, with people living cheek-by-jowel. Part of the place across the estuary used to be called Brooklyn. Might as well revive the name and go to a five borough arrangement, making this place a mirror image of that other place where the Harlem River has not been seen in years.

While people can point fingers and slam Silly Hall for all their foolishness and complicity with what is happening, truth is, our officials are just doing what seems best given the raft of pressures pulling in all directions with a special recognizance of the fact that the money at play now for high value land is such that it is well worth it to kill someone who stands in the way of making whatever the concerned party sees as their due.


We have a contribution here from someone who takes pride in their hometown of Oakland. This is what they had to say about the recent unrest that took place after the Zimmerman verdict in Florida. This is from Laura Boytz.

"Speaking of propaganda, I'm really angry right now, as a citizen of Oakland, about the way the Oakland protests are being reported. I wasn't part of them, but I saw some of them. Yesterday, hundreds of people met at city center and stood peacefully, then several hundred marched away from city center down toward the freeway near my house, where some of them stood on the freeway and stopped traffic for about 20 minutes, then moved on (no violence, no vandalism), then they marched around Lake Merritt, tried to get back on the freeway but were turned away by cops (no violence, no vandalism, followed cops' directions), marched around some more, ended up back at the courthouse (these marchers easily did a marathon!). Numbers were dwindling during this long march. Apparently, at around 11 p.m. (after a protest that started in the afternoon), a few people who were left in the crowd participated in some violence and vandalism, and the media says Oakland had "violent protests." No, a few misguided idiots joined the protests and engaged in vandalism. The majority of Oakland protesters expressed their grief and anger in completely appropriate ways."

Laura Boytz is an accomplished jazz musician on the cello and plays with various Brazilian-influenced bands in the bay area.


It could only be Bob Dylan who could work a phrase like "The buyin' power of the proletariat's gone down", but the union struggle continues everywhere and today the mediator returned from his inexplicable vacation in a flurry of acrimonious statements being flung by both Management and by Union officials over at BART where a second strike is looming in the face of the two party intransigence. We have been getting a lot of PR from the BART office, threatening "double digit" fare increases and quoting the high salaries of the premium workers on the line.

Neither side wants to back down and, unfortunately, the latest scut has it that the mediator getting paid a nifty $399,000 for the job stands to earn a lot of money should talks collapse entirely as he is fully invested in a bus company that stands to make money from increased demand in the event of a strike.

Management has thrown back the glove on that one, stating that the amount of money he stands to gain is a pittance of some $500. Both sides are waffling a bit on the "truthiness" here but it is clear the mediator was hired by management and has served management interests in the past and the Union people do not trust him for good reason.

Now the talk on the one side is that the Union force earns already quite an enviable package in a country where things have generally gotten worse for everybody else. We are hearing reports that an economic upswing is taking most of the country -- just not California, where wages have remained stagnant for the past 12 to 15 years. A few blips, such as the BART employees, tend to soften the look of the median when you do the numbers, so anyone who does averages knows they have to drop out the skew groups that distort the big picture. If you know statistics you know what we are talking about here.

Speaking of which, we sincerely doubt that every single rank and file BART worker is earning six digit figure salaries. You mean the escalator repairman? Including the guy with the trash bin pickup? The ticket vending machine repairman? Let's get real with the numbers now.

In the end the point is not how much BART employees make in the face of the argument they outta be satisfied with what they got, the point is that do we shrug and allow things to get worse for them just to level out the widespread misery? First it was air traffic controllers.Then it was United Airlines retirees. Then it was Government pensioners. Then it was on to the next group. Then the next group. And then the next. Pretty soon Schwab and JP Morgan and Stanley and the rest of the corporate giants are rolling in money to burn while you and me are looking for the best price gas station and people seventy-five years old are having to return to driving forklifts in warehouses to pay for their health care.

This is not just a fight about a few people who have what looks like a lot. This is a fight about the entire attack on organized labor that Ronnie Raygun's thugs kicked off in the 80's. From outsourcing to HB-1 visas to minimum wage, the corporate thieves will not stop until they have all they want -- which is to say, unpaid slave labor. That is the goal. That is what they want. And they mean to get it. And at the end of the day they will not be reasonable or just or fair in the slightest. Because they never have been, not since Haymarket or the 1916 car strike or countless times before.

For those of you who do not believe it, "Have a Jeffers day".


Okay, enough now for bitterness and people acting badly. Times are hard and getting harder, however we still have summertime and folks who essentially are decent people trying to make ends meet and have a good time. This weekend we hosted the 29th Park Street Faire. Some of us lived our lives as if the Island remained the isolated province it used to be.

The Faire allows for local groups participation.


Here a little fellow enjoys some motherly attention with help of a Big Bird puppet.

We enjoyed a long talk with these native Alamedans who have formed a small enterprise to help drivers in the Bay Area. This couple puts together a package for the automobile that handles emergencies.

The instrument this fellow is playing is called a Pie Pah in Cantonese.

The Santana "tribute band" was a wild favorite and the dance area remained packed. If you are going to be emulating Santana you had better be good. These guys rose to the occasion with a cracking version of "Soul Sacrifice."

Part of the fun of the faire is the age old sport of people-watching.


So anyway, summer in the Bay Area has taken an hiatus in favor of high fog, however the weatherman promises, absolutely swears, that by Friday all the East Bay peoples will bask in ninety degree sunshine.

So he says. You know men. They promise everything and when they get what they want . . . ha! Hasta la manana, baby!

O and that weatherwoman! The one with the legs and the short skirt that always threatens to slip up! Yeah right. Just another tease. Seen plenty of those at the bar. Buy me a drink honey and I'll make sure the sun shines in your back door. Some day.

Any way, so. Mr. Cribbage got into a terrible wax about his neighbors, the Laffingstocks, on account of their lawn residing next to his. Lawn! You could hardly call their wretched jungle a proper lawn. Mr. Cribbage had spent a lot of money and time and effort to cultivate a pristine bed of zoysia grass, so immaculate, so pristine, that Mrs. Cribbage actually wondered if it were real. Never mind the space was barely eight by six what with the walk and the drive -- it was a lawn to make his grandfather, were he alive today, quite proud.

A lawn was a symbol of ownership of property in California, and that was by no means a mean accomplishment.

To Mr. Cribbage, a clean lawn was the sign of a clean, well-ordered life. It was what greeted visitors on their approach to the house and it was a sign to passersby that this, indeed, was a well-ordered place in a well-ordered neighborhood.

Side by side with his edenic conception, the Laffingstocks had first let their entire yard go to sand and weeds. For an entire year. Imagine that. The dandelion fluff. The rocket. The heather and . . . and sand. Then they impetuously planted the entire ten feet of frontage with poppies. Scads and scads of poppies. Bushes of poppies. All flowering all at once. Then dying, leaving a great waste of shrubbery. Quite horrific.

Now this year they had gotten into corn. Rows and rows of corn standing six feet tall alternating with sunflowers. All overshading his own little space. Gad!

He caught the older Mrs. Laffingstock out there tending or watering or something, god knows what other than decent weeding, and he had said quite pointedly, "Don't you people know how to grow anything normal over there?"

Mrs. Laffingstock had guffawed so loudly the pigeons erupted from the staid avocado tree. A seed or something flew out of her mouth as she laughed and it landed somewhere on Mr. Cribbage's waistcoat and he was forever after that looking for what it was and where it had gotten off to.

"Normal? Aint nothin' so normal as corn, boy!"

He did not like being called "boy" like one of the porters he had used during his excursion to Africa. He was used to being called "Mister" and "sir" at the firm. For this reason he refused to speak with the neighbor woman ever again.

He figured he would find a way to damage her and her family in some way, given time. Those people probably came from Arkansas, while his people stemmed from the Cribbages of Los Osos. Mr. Cribbage was like that. Many Californians are; a little bit vindictive and a great deal self entitled.

The East Coast has folks like this and they always are either members of the DAR or claim intimate kinship. There is a bright, cheery room in Hell where these folks will meet for card games and plant eradication programs and genealogy fests long after both San Francisco and Boston have both become suburbs of Bombay. Or Beijing. Take your pick.

In the Old Same Place Bar the talk is about how the Angry Elf Gang torched a Michelin star restaurant in Oakland to prove a point. The point, as it always is with such scum, er, entrepreneurs, is that the Angry Elf is not to be trifled with and insurance payments need to be made. As a gang sign they left a strip of slumped glass infused with bubbles on the register. The gang had taken after their leader's affectation towards being an artiste. The Angry Elf now presented himself as a Grand Designer in glass and hoped thereby to gain access to the matrons of Society and their very copious coffers.

Only those who have seen it know that no one can illuminate the track of a socialized psychopath until after the fellow has gone -- then all the works are revealed, like a subatomic particle in a vacuum. You can only know what is by what has happened. By then, for many, it is too late, everyone's glassy eyes glazed over with bewilderment at all the damage, the shattered lives..

As the night ticks over into the far reaches that become in the blue penumbra of streetlamps and moons that yield eventually to morning while the old ragman shuffles back and forth his dance of warmth preservation or some kind of holy worship beside the hard concrete corner of the Adelphian building on Santa Clara Avenue, the Editor wraps up another issue fraught with all kinds of issues of import, greater and lesser.

Out on the dark blue swell beyond the Golden Gate, Pedro pilots his boat with its golden glow of cabin light through the shoals and fisheries, his trusty lab, Tugboat beside. Woof!

In these dark times, people do what they have to do to get by. We are cursed to live in interesting times, times that will be reported back much later in a way that might give us pause.

Tonight each cabined space pilots through the unplumbed, uncharted seas. The Editor's cube with its area lamps and LED's is a small craft churning through a choppy set of waves, bucking this way and that to adapt to the slams of chance. There he is, his remaining white hairs flying about his crown in an aureole of fluorescent lamps. His shirtsleeves rolled up and those slippery galleys gliding to the floor from his knee. Doing all for Company.

No one knows and no one will. Mostly me and mostly you. In the Old Same Place Bar the lovely and lonely Suzie cleans up and puts the bar apparatus away for the evening. Another night on the Island gone to rest. For such rest as there might be for the likes of us. It's a dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But in the Old Same Place Bar sits one bartender still puzzling over Life's Persistent Questions.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, and snaked through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy train roadbed as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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


JULY 21, 2013


As Laurie Anderson says, "I always used to wonder who I’d bring to a desert island." This photo submitted by Tammy.



Negotiations continue behind closed doors with news seesawing up and down in terms of how well things are going. The last report from July 12th was an unpromising one in which union officials stated that they will be prepared to go on strike for a lot longer next time.

BART managers, for their part, are sticking by the advice from the top state mediators appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who have asked both sides to keep the details of the talks confidential and not to disparage one another publicly. This was after a very acrimonious series of statements from minor labor officials who accused BART management of "acting like children."

Now we hear that the reason there is no BART news is that no meetings are being held at all for the next couple weeks.

No meetings at all will happen from July 22 to July 29, when BART's $399,000 chief negotiator -- transit attorney Tom Hock, who labor leaders view as a union buster -- goes on vacation.

Um, tell us that again. Anyone else up for a bracing 9 rounds in the middle of a firestorm?

BART's labor contracts with its five unions expired on June 30. The two largest unions, SEIU Local 1021 and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which together represent about 2,300 train operators, station agents, cleaners, and mechanics, went on strike rather than agree to paying more into their healthcare and pensions.

BART workers have not had a raise since 2008, but do enjoy health insurance and retirement benefits that private sector workers would love to have. Negotiations on a new contract began April 1, and to spearhead their dealings with labor, the BART Board of Directors awarded a $399,000 contract to Hock.

Hock runs an Ohio-based firm called Veolia Transportation that has a history of coming into transit systems with labor disputes -- and more or less breaking the unions, as the East Bay Express reported this week.

One of Hock's techniques in the past has been to stonewall to the nth degree, and it is possible he is hoping to bluff the Unions into another unpopular strike so as to force their capitulation via public opinion. In the meantime, though, Union organizers are taking names and numbers, pointing out that executives at BART earn six-figure salaries and if they really cared about the taxpayer they would be writing checks to send some of their high remuneration back to the State.

In the meantime, we have no data save this statement from Roxanne Sanchez, president of the local Service Employees International Union:"We will be prepared for the war that you all have launched on your workforce. Unless the agency changes its stance at the negotiation table", Sanchez said, "We will be prepared for the bloodiest, longest strike since the 1970s," alluding to the 1979 strike that dragged on for three months.

Tenants evicted at Marina View Towers, 84 unit apartment building. New owners, Carmel associates, SF based seismic retrofitting. they have until August 31 to get out.

Alameda Landing project - Safeway has the go-ahead for 24hours operation. Opening slated for summer of 2014.

The sand restoration project we mentioned several issues ago will proceed with dumping 82,000 cubic yards, work taking place on weekdays. Project is funded by Measure AA, passed in 1988 by voters to maintain park land. Project is slated to end in November.

We mentioned that a public meeting was to be held at City Hall regarding proposed changes to the 51a bus line operated by ACtransit.

Changes are in sum total meant to reduce the 189 minute average travel time for the heavily used line which now hits Fruitvale BART, Rockridge BART in Berkeley, and runs the length of the Island. Changes feature relocating most of the Island bus stops, generally shifting them to the far side at lights and stop sign intersections, while "consolidating" infrequently used stops. One change has a new stop proposed for Christ Episcopal Church on Santa Clara and Grand -- the Santa Clara stop is across the street and relocation would place the stop right at the church entrance where happy couples depart from weddings. The Sun reported that "nearly every resident" present at Tuesday's meeting expressed opposition to the changes.

Various venues are hosting some spirited discussion about the ongoing development projects threatening to change the character of the Island within a very short span of time.

We also noted that the Hospital is constrained by budget issues and the impending multi-million dollar earthquake retrofit cost to affiliate with the lesser of several evils. In this case, we will be joining the County system. A forum will be held this week on what's new for the Hospital; details are in the Calendar.

Finally the Letters to the Editor in all public media, and even on a few blogs, lament the various construction projects now in the works, with a few more voices joining against the McKay Avenue development that came about as a function of the weird backroom rezoning that yanked the mat from under the East Bay Parks.


A tropical weather system that was bringing rain to parts of the Southwest over the weekend could push north to the Bay Area on Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The "monsoonal" air mass Sunday brought heavy rain to portions of Arizona, and scattered dry lightning was reported in the hills around San Diego, forecaster Diana Henderson said.

Some scattered light showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms could reach parts of the Bay Area on Monday and last into Tuesday.


So anyway Rev. Jason Arrabiata, CFSM in search of a suitable chapel, nook, hall or vault to host the semi-periodic meetings for his Pastafarian church was nigh unto rending his holy dashiki in despair.

The island was so well-endowed with scads of churches all the best locations had been taken. The Episcopalians had seized the prized corner on Grand and Santa Clara, the Catholics occupied two entire blocks with their Basilica and rectory and school in the Gold Coast, plus they had also outposted the Church of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint across Encinal, the Unity church had the Home of Truth further down Grand, the Buddhists had their temple further up Santa Clara, the Methodists, Baptists and Chinese had Central all sewn up, while the Lutherans had secured the only modest parcel left in between. The Presbyterians owned the oldest building, so they had enjoyed the leisure of building it in one place, then moving it to Oak Street and then there were the scad of sects and divisions, charasmatics and heresies, including the church of El Luz de Occupado Parking Place and El Mundo de Shriekery en Disharmony. The Albagensians sat kitty corner from the Merovingian Dynasty with Huguenots occupying a humble cottage that doubled as a martial arts studio. Wiccans divided time between Crab Cove and a ramshackle place by Washington Park. Here and there Satanists gathered in livingrooms for tea and scones. It seemed there was hardly any room to plunk down a decent church anywhere.

Jason had just about given up and was soon to resort to standing on a milkcrate in the park, which idea is not so good for respectability or indications of sanity, especially when your God of Creation happens to be an invisible flying ball of spaghetti and meatballs.

Some people might consider the Flying Spaghetti Monster to be if not outlandish, then somewhat parodic, but Jason would say, "Look dude. All these churches tell you to worship some flying invisible being nobody has ever seen and who is described in several books written thousands of years ago which have undergone umpteen translations to the point nobody really has any idea what the first text really said. If you have to worship something, you might as well consider something tasty. After all, since the Kansas School Board said Creationism is on the table because we want to consider all points of view, here is my view which everyone can say is just as valid, sane, scientific and reasonable as Intelligent Design. The Universe was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster."

Eventually Jason worked out a deal with the Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor 33 1/3, and so he got to setup his rig and hang his banners of joy once a week in the hall where the pirates of faith would gather on Fridays, the Holy Day, to roister and sing and drink.

"What's with the pirates?" Pahrump asked Jason.

As it turns out, Pirates are God's Chosen People. This image of them being bloodthirsty, lecherous, thieving cutthroats is entirely a product of a vast Christian conspiracy to conceal the truth. The original pirates possessed very polite manners and were soft and affable folk who cared for their mothers and looked after lost children and dogs. They did say "Arrrrgh" a lot and wear eyepatches but their cutlasses were used largely for carving beef, bread and nasty Christians looking to burn witches and pirates both.

Witches have also been much maligned, but don't get me started, Jason said. As for being made in God's image, all that is clearly claptrap. God was drunk when he made the human race and we have only to look at Occasional Quentin to understand this truth. Quentin! get your finger out of your nose! Right now!

Lutherans are midway between Pirates and Sodom, you and they will have to agree. The original Vikings were very much like pirates and the modern day Norwegian Bachelor farmer, well, is very like a pillar of salt, and most Lutherans ride the crest of the waves somewhere in between, so there you have it.

So the Island welcomes, with some reservations, the newest addition to its pantheon of churches. And this is especially good news to some folks for journalistic research indicates that in the Golden State there are but three entities given the power to administer marriage banns.

1. The County Clerk
2. Deputies of the County Clerk or a fully paid up Marriage Commissioner for the Day.
3. Clergy

The County Clerk is a government employee with many duties. He is often too busy to officiate marriages, hence the allowance for deputies who generally have to fork over big bucks to officiate, while the Commissioner for the Day pays some $200 to be effective for only 24 hours. Then he has to start all over.

Clergy need submit no articles of proof of status -- to the State at least. They pay nothing, which is usual for them. So people in a checkered status seeking marriage need to find a clergyman and we really doubt the local pastor or priest will officiate a same-sex marriage. Hence the CFSM. Voila! We have on staff an ordained minister who can marry you at any time. So long as you pay the State fees for the filing of course.

And now proud couples of any stripe can write home to mom and dad and state entirely with truth that they got married within a Church.

It seemed after last week's set-to between Quentin and Sgt. Rumsbum, which Reverend Arrabiata moderated and eventually cooled, could have led to a round of public accusations and general nastiness, however Quentin remained at the end of the day, even though he was wronged by being attacked, reticent. Lawsuits are not his style. Rumsbum regained his proud Spartan dignity and reasonably considered the consequences of pressing charges against the helpless halfwit Quentin.

O you big strong man, that was you shrieking for help? Tsk Tsk.

At the end of the day, Rumsbum returns to work as a somewhat useful member of society and Quentin returns to his life as a somewhat addled member of society, but important thing here, due entirely to the noodliness of the FSM, nobody dies.

That night the Editor sat late at his desk as all the other staffers signed off and people caught rides home. The hours ticked into the far reaches of the night, when shadows congeal solidly to their posts and everything becomes difficult to move. The streetlights outside become still-life Hopper paintings and the offices become cut-blue ice under the flourescents with all sharp shadows slicing across the desks into cubicles where chairs sit waiting for human warmth to make themselves nervously whole again during another hectic day.

A motor whined somewhere on the second floor and the smell of hot copier toner began to dissipate.

The Editor sat in his cubicle office, his remaining white hairs flying about his balding pate like an aureole. A glass of Maker's Mark with ice sat on the desk next to the papers and those irritatingly slippery galley sheets that always threatened to slide off into nothingness from his knees. Lights governed by automatic timers began shutting down one by one. Leaving one man in a pool of light, surrounded by darkness. Doing all for Company. Or perhaps the FSM.

In the Estuary a periscope silently descended after observing all of these things. Captain Mohammed of the Iranian spy submarine, El Chadoor, noted everything he had seen in his notebook. For many years the spy sub had been lurking about the Port of Oaktown and the Island, taking notes and sending weekly reports back to Teheran. For many years the crew and captain had felt their original mission had been forgotten and their own enterprise had become lost in the Byzantine labyrinth of bureaucracy. Their reports were being filed, unread by some government bureaucrat. Without initiative, everything had continued like this year after year. Even the ship which provisioned t them was just following a routine set up long ago without thinking about what it all meant. No one now cared about the US and what it had to say. Teheran had more pressing matters.

With a command from the captain the spy sub dove and ran silent, ran deep through the Golden Gate out to the Pacific Ocean.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the noodly grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

JULY 14, 2013


Okay Stevie Nicks never wrote a song about Brugmansia or Datura, but all three will put you and your dog six feet under if you are not careful. Um, the flowers, not Stevie Nicks.

This week's image comes from staff photographer, Tammy and was mislabeled as "datura". Understandably so as this plant shares the name Angel's Trumpet with some of the datura flowers. It is important to know about these, which together with the pink lady amaryllis grow extensively throughout the Bay Area and all plants will kill you and/or your house pets should they ingest any part of the plant including seeds.

Brugmansia once was a source for the alkaloid drugs scopolamine, hyoscyamine, and atropine, although nowadays these are synthetic in origin. The plants have also traditionally been used in many South American indigenous cultures in medical preparations and as a ritualistic hallucinogen for divination, to communicate with ancestors, as a poison in sorcery and black magic, and for prophecy. On a lighter note, some cultures have used the plant to treat "unruly children", and, mixed with maize beer and tobacco leaves, it has been used by the Incas to drug wives and slaves before they were buried alive with their dead lord.


Crab Cove Concert August 9th 5:30 to 7:30 at Crab Cove

Alameda Meals on Wheels Community Faire & Wine Tasting Fundraiser--
Sunday July 21st 1 to 5 pm
Rock Wall 2301 Monarch Street, on the Point, Alameda

Pedalfest and Pig Roast
hosted by Lungomare
Saturday, July 20, 2013 from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM (PDT)

Ticket Type Sales End Price Fee Quantity
Pedalfest Pig Roast Jul 19, 2013 $12.50

As a special addition to Pedalfest this year, Jack London Square’s newest restaurant, Lungomare is roasting a whole pig and serving it up Italian style:

Whole Roasted Pig

Marble Potato Salad with eggs, quanciale, red onion
Summer Beans, pancetta, oven dried tomatoes
Watermelon, fennel, heirloom tomato, ricotta salata salad
Roasted Sweet Corn

The price is $15 for a delicious plate, and the roast will be available between 5-7pm on the promenade, out front of the restaurant. As a special incentive to committed pig roast fans, you can book early and pay only $12.50 for this divine porcine experience. ($15 at the door)

Pedalfest rolls into Jack London Square to celebrate all-things cycling at the Bay Area’s premier bicycle festival. This free annual event will pack the waterfront with more than 20,000 biking enthusiasts enjoying bicycle-themed entertainment, food and exhibits including:

Cycling daredevils performing in a 30-foot banked wooden Whiskeydrome
Eye-popping two-wheeled stunts by pro riders Mike Steidley and Chris Clark
Rock the Bike’s pedal-powered stage featuring live music
TGC Actions Sport/BMX Stunt Team performances
Oaklandish’s kids bicycle parade
U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame vintage bikes
Brompton Bike Folding Contest
Bicycle rodeo for children
Pedal-powered food
Pedal-powered rides by Cyclecide
Dazzling collection of new, vintage and handmade bikes
Bike Stand demo stage by Bay Area Bikes
Bike trivia dunk tank
Bicycle vendors, artisans and more
Selection of beers available from New Belgium Brewing Co., with all proceeds going to support the advocacy work of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition

For additional information and/or to volunteer, visit


On a casual stroll down Park Street -- which really should become a pedestrian thoroughfare -- when we dropped in to Pillow Park Plaza, where Aphrodite's closet has temporarily moved while owners consider what to do about the two-story corner house that caught fire some months ago. 1419 Park has taken on a raft of new tenants after the move-out of the old bedding company which had given the place its name. One new tenant is Artistic Home, an up-n-coming brainchild of Rachel Gingold and JaYing Wang who have combined their passion for domestic arts and experience as homemaker moms together with cultivated child teaching skills to fashion an interesting all-ages family-based enterprise which not only sells beautiful art works but also teaches those driven to DIY furniture, chalk painting and glass fusing.

JaYing's highly energetic enthusiasm can sweep you off your feet, but her high voltage energy is perfectly tuned to handle kids 9+ for the afternoon Fused Glass Studios (no fee) that meet four times a week and for the Glass Arts Summer Camps (5th Grade+).

The boutique studio is partnering with the estuary galleries on Ford Street, like our friends at Gray Loft Gallery, as well as the Island studios Gallery Redux on Lincoln, Julie’s Coffee and Tea Garden, 1223 Park Street, PopUp Gallery @ Autobody Fine Arts, and Pixies & Peony on Santa Clara.

Its nice to see this Renaissance of talent occurring around here as artisans flee the high rents of the City in droves.

Word has it from our last talk with Danielle Fox of SLATE that although the City is withdrawing support for the out of control First Friday's, which morphed from art walk into disorganized street party, she and organizers will continue to forge on to make events amenable to art patrons in the exciting Uptown district, which is likely to benefit everybody. Every Saturday Art Murmur holds strolls through the Uptown and you can go to oaklandartmurmur.ort/saturdaystroll for details. Third Thursdays is a special event localized to 25th Street where wine tastings and live music prevail 6-10pm. So stay tuned for developments.


Folks hoping to have a say in the Alameda Landing Project, which we might as well term properly as Target et al., will be disappointed that the final design has been approved by the Planning Board. This means that save for a few geegaws and minor alterations the thing is a done deal, especially as Target is already under construction.

The way these things work, the architect submits topo drawings that tend to be extensive and expensive. People who actually will execute the work will follow-up quickly with area plans detailing trenching, conduits, power supply, etc. In reality, those plans have already been done with expectation of approval. Remember that planners must think in four dimensions, with the fourth dimension being time deadlines and time is money in construction.

All of this drives contracts and subcontracts which will proceed blindly until someone issues a "change order", which is the last hope of any additional input from outside this gargantuan juggernaut. So there still is some possibility the In-N-Out Burger lights can be dimmed, shunted, blocked or otherwise ameliorated for that part of the project which distresses neighbors. It only means, however, that you cannot just sit back and complain, as any change orders will involve additional time and therefore additional money expense detracting from total profits. It is extremely unlikely that the outfit will be ousted from current plans, however the possibility still exists. Detractors will have to supply a concrete replacement suggestion rather than resort to wringing of hands, however. The parcel is allocated and that looks to be fixed.

The construction on Lincoln between Walnut and Oak in a largely off-the-radar project looks well underway with walls and roof going up and completion by end of summer for low income housing finished for nearly 100 folks. Add that to your population increase meters.

In the letters to the editor the problem about which we first talked some months ago regarding the obnoxious Neptune Pointe (sic) finally seems to be hitting some nerves and developing some pushback as people realize this thing was 1. reprehensibly bogus in its sudden rezoning, and 2. undesirable in scope and location and combination with everything else going on and, 3. a wild misuse of land that should ideally be allocated for park use. For whatever. Parking tractors or lawnmowers or storing sand sifters or open green lawns -- it simply does not matter; any use by the EBPS is better than shoving a glob of yuppies down there on McKay Avenue to choke up traffic to the Tube and compact living in the area by another several hundred souls.

Another OpEd piece by a newcomer here to the island commented that as regards this city, "there have been multiple blunders, mistakes, and poor decisions." This newcomer's comments are very insightful and pointed and accurate. And right on the money. It is if our island government has been living a wannabee dream of pastoral existence while whoring itself in the most shameless fashion, pretending to be Mayberry RFD with thick facepaint like some pathetic tranny wearing a gaudy neon boa, scrabbling for self-esteem by playing old Frank Sinatra records while selling blowjobs to the first Development bidder that comes along.

That is our City Hall in essence. That has been our Island government for several years. That is what the newcomers are seeing is us, and we had better be ready to provide something better than that if any of us would like a town to which our kids can return after wandering the world. Or give it all up and let the basket people have it all. Eventually they will have it all anyway.


So anyway, Mark Twain's summer has rolled into the Bay Area, blocking the sun and sending some of our staffers out into the Valley (Egads!) of all places to find some watersports and tanning potential. Sharon knew it was time to go when people started calling her "paleface" -- for a Native American this is an epithet to get rid of ASAP.

Summertime has begun and there are long lines each weekout out to places people imagine are better or somehow a break from this place to where all of them have fought tooth and nail to arrive and establish abode with such a seasoning of ill-will that these folks from Ohio and Virginia and New Jersey and Pennsylvania and Florida all develop a need to take a vacation from, even though this is supposed to be the best place on earth. Or so they say.

It would be nice if all those people taking vacations to other places that are relaxing breaks from the frenzy of this place would just go live there and save us who have raised our children here all the bother, but we understand Disneyland and Yosemite have only so many vacancies and Tuscany has more self respect than Vegas to be taking in so many ex-Californians.

This left the Island in summertime mood of people who actually have lived here for some time spending some time living here among ourselves without interference. It was a sort of vacation.

Given that the summertime is a time of relaxed attention, this means that those who are given to the duty, sworn and self-appointed, to protect the populace from malefactors must excercise double diligence.

For this reason, Sgt. Rumsbo, the mall-cop of the St.Charles Lunatic Asylum, is given to double patrols about the building and heightened vigilance, for as people engaged in relaxation and living therefore he must perforce be on stricter guard against anything untoward.

Rumbo, the afterthought progeny of a long departed sailor and an alcoholic bartender, never really could gain entry into the SFPD directly, but had to satisfy himself with being a part-time traffic enforcer at City College which he combined with moonlight jobs protecting the basement of IMagnin's and Macy's from shoplifters. At home, inhabiting the same apartment in which he had grown up with his mother for the past forty-eight years, he acted as unpaid apartment manager/security officer in the converted building which now housed a number of derelicts and indigent as part of a County project for warehousing the mentally ill.

In the absence of a father and in the presence of a mother lacking quite a bit of self direction, which eventually led to an early death due to cirrhosis of the liver, the man cultivated an extreme sense of discipline that local genuine gendarmes absent anent their own such discipline found remarkable. Besides, they got a cop at fully half the price to save their own salaries a hit come election day. Rumbo knew he got paid less, but he enjoyed the power. He got to boss around the apartment building and the hapless students at City College. The City knew they got a man stacked with half a deck, but they enjoyed the price. Heck, they got a cop without union benefits without protest.

So it was that Rumsbo, the wannabe cop, encountered a shadowy figure tracing near the St. Charles Apartments one dark night with the full moon cloaked in high fog as a fine drizzle began to fall. Normally a strange figure lurking caused no concern, but this particular figure looked like one of the tenants, and of course the rules stated implicitly that tenants were not allowed to lurk. Whatever lurking might mean or entail.

One thing lead to another and the end result had Sgt. Rumsbo rolling around on the ground outside the apartment building with this figure who turned out to be Occasional Quentin looking for a place to get out of the rain for a while.

Quentin, seeing this wierd figure looming out of the darkness, following him, started acting self-protective and hiding in the bushes. Rumbo, carrying his flashlight and his radio and his gun, saw this odd figure skulking in the bushes, trying to hide.

Rumsbo called in a report about a suspicious character and the dispatch told him to hang back and wait for people who knew how to handle these situations. Rumbo, of course, took this as a challenge against his manhood and so he approached the bush where Quentin cowered and blasted his flashlight with full authority, causing Quentin to leap up shrieking for his life with his hands in the air.

Rumsbo, feeling his authority impugned, drew his nightstick and that is when the tussle began.

Now most of you know how this story usually ends. Rumbo, an inveterate bully sort of guy starts getting the tar knocked out of him -- which is just too much, as for a bully to lose his power is just too, too soul destroying. Heck its practically being murdered for such a guy.

So Sgt. Rumsbo, the wannabe cop or whoever he might be this time around, pulls out his precious nickle-plated revolver and shoots Quentin, or whoever it might be, in the head and the long tortuous roadshow of public acrimony begins all over again, a roadshow complete with riots and the injuring of completely innocent people who just happened to arrive somewhere in the wrong place as the wrong time to become society's necessary stupid public sacrifice.

This time, however, my friends, Divine Intervention forstalled any of the usual consequences.

The Island's newest addition to the pantheon of Churches in the form of the newly ordained Minister, Jason Arrabiata, dressed in his full clergy togs, which consisted of wide-top leather boots, billowing black trousers, a silk sash for a belt, an open white blouse, gold chains, eye patch, beard and a fabulously preposterous hat two feet in diameter bedecked with ostrich feathers and scarlet plumes. Furthermore he carried in his sash a cutlass at least three feet long.

"Stop this ruckus and cease trying to merge your brother's head with the asphalt this instant, my good man, or I will cut both your heads off." Jason said. "Arrgggg!"

Quentin, atop Rumsbo, and Rumsbo, under Quentin, both gaped at this apparition, behind whom the full moon haloed his swarthy visage.

"You know when you see two people fighting, you seen a sign something has failed. Have you been touched by His Noodly Appendage? Let me pray for you two clearly demented and lost souls."

"Let us sing praise to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for He is a loving God. Of His might and dominion, there is no compare; of His mercy and deliciousness, there is no equal. No other god can challenge Him; in the taste test, He is invincible. Through His pasta, He has blessed us with everlasting life, and holy is His Name. For He is the Flying Spaghetti Monster: the One, True, and Most High God, creator of man and midgit, giver of pasta, giver of sauce, from age to holy age; not created He was, but ever He lives, through the glory of spaghetti, now and forever. R'Amen."

"Now Quentin rise up and take up your fool head and you, Rumsbo, rise up and take up your weapons and go forth and be good for henceforth life is given you and you so that you shall dine in peace. For thine is the kingdom boiled, served on a plate and well sauced. Ramen."

And with that, great violence was averted and more on this incredible story and how the Flying Spaghetti Monster came to be shall be discussed anon and next week.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the saucy waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the noodly grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown, bearing its mysterious cargo of meatballs.

Hail meatsauce, full of beef. The Spaghetti Monster is with you. Blessed are you among sauces, and blessed is the spice from your shaker. Heated meatsauce, monster of taste, pray for us non-pirates now and at the hour of our hunger. RAmen

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

JULY 7, 2013


This week's jolly photo comes from our staff photog and occasional sailor on the Bay.

Its good to be reminded once in a while that we do live on an island in the Bay down where where the Dungeness play.


This week was notable for the July 4th holiday as well as a transit workers strike that shut down the BART subway system here for three days, causing traffic snarls, impossible bus lines and bad tempers.

Some of you may know that a parallel strike by the bus workers union was narrowly averted, which, had it taken place, would have effectively shut down the Bay Area for over eight million people in the Five County area.

There has been no agreement among any party other than its better for everybody to call off strikes for the time being, or at least in the case of BART, for 30 days.


The annual Mayor's Parade, begun 38 years ago by Mayor Corica for the Bicentennial, took place again with a well organized, smooth operation that began smartly at 10:00 on Park Street and ended sometime around noon on Webster. Over time the parade acquired some notoriety and length, with this year's entries topping a brief 176 while past years have seen well over 200 entries taking a full four and a half hours to pass the final bandstand.

He used to trundle along near the end on a mini-tricycle, the spitting image of the Little Tramp, Charlie Chaplin, but over the years he had to graduate to a scooter. This year Mark Betz appeared in medias res as entry 114.

Sad to say, our Scots piper of thirty some years, Louis Freeman (#85), announced that this would be his last parade.

As the parade has gotten more organized, it also has gotten a bit blander, more Rotarian and less Contrarian, with fewer eyebrow raising incidents or wacky outlandishness along the lines of the fourteen-foot metal fire-spouting dragon that threatened the powerlines one year. Nevertheless a fine time was had by all and how can you possibly dislike a parade on the 4th of July?

Here are some images taken by our staff:

It helps to have a brother who can drive. Except the way this fellow swerved seemed to cause his sib some concern.

Dude. Hang ten. Its a parade! Whatever . . . .

Sikh and you shall find.

Lum Elementary School.

No No GMO! Every gathering needs a protest of some kind.

Didn't know we had one of these. Wouldn't it be fun . . . !

Ben Frank demonstrating safety with power . . .

Proof they really do still exist! We sometimes have some fun with these guys here, but they do good work fighting birth defects.

Anyone else notice we have a plethora of churches here? Wussup with the cow in the pickup though?

Viva los caballeros!



The Bank of Alameda was purchased by the Novato-based Bank of Marin group. Not much will change save that the holdings of the new entity increase from some $230 million to getting close to a billion with its seven or so branches in various counties.

Everyone note that BUSLINE 51A changes are being reviewed. Get over on Tuesday to City Hall for the public meeting to discuss. This line goes down Webster and it is likely that changes will occur there.

The Supreme Court's Prop 8 decision is being applauded here. Changes at a number of local companies are in the works to revise treatment of Domestic Partners and newlyweds who need to file new affidavits with their HR departments. There will be tax ramifications as the Red Zone faction had instituted punitive measures against people who filed as Domestic Partners. Being married does make a difference. Also insurance holders will need to relist themselves variously as head of household or Family +1 for medical. For a great many people, this is welcome news.


So anyway, while the rest of the country has been dealing with tons of rain and floods and all sorts of mean, nasty tornado stuff we have been enjoying an heat wave that broke recently. This heat wave crushed the bejesus out of incipient Spring and with the lack of rain everything has been browning over into a fast summer. All the schools have held their graduations and proms and now its safe for proud parents to announce their valedictorian is headed for East Coast Ivy come the Fall.

As people settle into the Summer thing, with its round of block parties and bbq, several of our favorite Island characters are easing out of the woodwork to ease their wounds. Javier is recovering from his birthday party that ended with him in the Seventh Street jailhouse by chasing a flirty thing in a short skirt named Samosa. Jose eventually made it back to the Island the following morning from the Bushville encampment at the entrance to the Tube, limping along through the fumes on the high walkway through the tunnel. Along the way he passed Snuffles who was heading out to his favorite panhandling post at the freeway offramp.

At the Household of Marlene and Andre, space has cleared out now that the weather has improved to allow for sleeping on the beach and so the place does not smell nearly as bad as it does when all fifteen people are crammed in there together during the winter.

When he got back to the House, he flopped down into his closet sleeping bag and Marlene poked her head in to tell him there was leftover garlic noodles.

"Nnnhffff." Jose said.

"You have fun with Javier at his birthday?"


"You stop that," Marlene said. "You know I do not understand you when you speak Spanish."


"Sounds like it was pretty bad."


"Ok. Noodles on the stove. Sleep well."

Old Schmidt finally showed up at the Old Same Place Bar and slid into his usual stool for the usual bump and a beer. Although he had been last seen leaving in the company of a fabulous dame in a red dress and entirely disabled by a paroxysm of emotion, he refused to answer any questions or refer to what had happened.

"So what happened with that woman, d'ya mind?" Dawn finally asked.

Old Schmidt merely lifted one bushy, shock-white eyebrow.

"I am meanin' ta say that Lili Marlene you went off with the other night," Dawn insisted. "It appears to me there is a love story of some kind goin' on here."

"Aboot zeese luff sings, I know nossingk, nossingk, nossingk!" Old Schmidt replied. And that is all he would say about it.

Summer has come around at last. The papa racoon, big as a washingmachine, has been trundling across the backyards in the dead of night, making all the dogs go crazy. Opossums have been scuttling along the base of the old fence and the squirrels commit their usual depredations at frantic speed like Keystone cops chasing bandits.

Those Canadian geese who do in fact return to Canada have done so by now, leaving the indolent and the hapless among them to gabble and poop upon the greens of the MIF Albright golf course and so cause the duffers and greenskeepers much grief as has been their wont for generations.

The Ohlone lived in balanced harmony with the ecosystem for 8,000 years.

Summertime, now that kids are off to get themselves into trouble without elderly interference or prevention of discovery, is the time when we hearken back to our origins as an agrarian people. The coastal areas of California are densely urban. The Ohlone lived in balanced harmony with the ecosystem for 8,000 years. The early Hispanic Californios raised cattle, horses, farmed the land and were content with that, however what followed involved a wrenching and tearing up of the landscape where everything done was a part of conquering and seizing precious but lifeless metals. Yet among those were men who returned to the earth for the nurturing it provides.

All over the island tiny plots exfoliate with extraordinary blooms. Backyards host a bounty of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, and even corn. Given only a few square yards of earth not paved over or converted to useless European grasses, our natural bent is to plant, to tend. Then, of course, there are the datura, the bougainvillea, and the exemplary roses behaving with remarkably disciplined exhuberance.

July, of course, is the time of annual mayhem, destruction and self injury that people committ out of a sense of patriotism and childish delight in blowing things up and setting things on fire. These things include tin cans, bottles, trashcans, letterboxes, small animals, bushes, trees, children.

Mr. Cribbage secured several boxes of municipal grade fireworks through a friend at work and held a little backyard affair not far from Mr. Howitzer's Mansion. He was not so foolish as to launch these things there but transported the party to the Cove near where the disputed Pointe that would have been an extension of the Park seemly likely destined for several ritzy townhouses due to a curious rezoning of the land in some backroom deal.

the low altitude of the explosions created a great sense of excitement

For now it consisted of weed-tufted parkinglots and decrepit sheds abandoned by the Federal government behind tattered chainlink fences. The party made its way easily through a tear in the fence to a lot where Mr. Cribbage eagerly setup the combo boxes as the light faded. He used a BBQ torch to set off the first one which shot up several rockets, followed by a scattering of poppers and then brilliant pinwheels and glowing embers fell all around them, still sending up fizzlers and screamers as he set off box after box until the display had attracted quite a crowd beyond the fence along the Strand. It was really quite something and the low altitude of the explosions created a great sense of excitement. Among those attracted was Mr. Blather with his party and his fireworks.

"Where shall I put these," Mr. Blather said. 'I cannot see a thing in here."

"Over there," Mr. Cribbage waved with irritation, realizing he might be upstaged.

So over in the darkness on the edge of the lot Mr. Blather set up his boxes on a pile of debris near some shrubbery and set off the first one before deploying the rest.

Sure enough, after several whizbangs and fizzlers, one of the boxes tipped over on the uncertain ground and started firing several sparkle trails sideways down the way. One rocket smacked into the side of a shed and exploded into flames. A semi-circle of flames munched its way steadily through the dry grass.

Mr. Blather and party tried stamping out the brushfire with their shoes but none of them had thought to bring along a fire extinguisher. Simone tossed a gin martini on the fire. This was followed by Tom Collins, gin ricky's, Manhattans, and Stoli neat, all with no effect. Naturally the bushes burst into flames and everyone scampered away from the debris pile with the rest of the fireworks as the sirens began to wail.

Mr. Blather looked back as he crept through the fence, thinking maybe about recovering at least one of the boxes at the risk of detention and fines.

"What a waste of good olives," Simone commented, hitching up her gown as she ran.


Mr. Blather departed in some haste as the helicopter arrived.

At the end of another long day, ending the heat wave with welcome breezes and a delightful sunset arranged painterly in washes of golds and vermilions rising up through azure to deep navy blue well above the palm trees, the Editor stepped out to observe the glow of a fire happening off towards Crab Cove. All through the night the crump of explosives, the hissing of rockets and horizon flashbangs had terrified the neighborhood dogs and reminded him of his days and nights spent in that distant place of swamps and jungle which had struggled through nightmare years to become free in its own way from foreign tyrannies.

Earlier that day he had spoken with Nevermore, the Vietnamese man who lived next door about gardening. Some neighborhood kid had set off an M80 across the street and as the Editor straightened up from his instinctive crouch he noticed the balding head of his neighbor also coming up at the same time and the two of them had looked at each other and each knew.

"I see you were not an officer either," the Editor said.

His neighbor had laughed. "I? No. Not officer. Officer no duck. Hah. Garden now. Peace now. We make peace seperate."

"You ever read Hemingway?"

"Heming? No. Who he?"

"A Seperate Peace. He was a writer. Long ago. Another time."

Each night after the chaotic Fourth, fewer explosions. Now, late Sunday all quiet kissed the tender shadows of a voluptuous night, rich with sensuous smells of sea along the water and lemon verbena inland. In the shadows the warm boughs of madrones writhed like lovers together for this brief moment of summer. A seperate peace, yes.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the rebellious waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the independent grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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

JUNE 30, 2013


Our roving photographer took this evocative image of Jackson Park near the bandstand.


This past week saw a number of continuing stories hit new milestones and take plot turns that probably could have been forseen months previously. But before we get to Island news, lets have a look at what may impact some 2.5 million people, come Monday.

As of yesterday, all indicators pointed toward a paralyzing BART strike of employees, which essentially would shut down Bay Area commerce for the duration.

There are Caltrans workarounds, but lets be frank -- no workaround will last several days of strike conditions.

This info is from SFgate:

"A Monday morning BART strike began to look a lot more likely Saturday when negotiations between BART and its two largest labor unions stalled and union leaders warned that a strike is all but inevitable.

"I think it's extremely likely," said Josie Mooney, chief negotiator for Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents more than 1,433 BART workers, including mechanics, maintenance workers and professional staff.

Bargaining teams for SEIU and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 944 train operators and station agents, made the announcement at 4:15 p.m. Saturday after walking out of the Kaiser Center in Oakland, where negotiations are being held. Some of the negotiators were pulling suitcases and said they had been prepared to bargain late into the night.

But after waiting since Friday for a proposal from BART, they said they were frustrated and tired of waiting for what they had expected would be a meaningful offer from the system's leaders. Union negotiators said it seemed that BART officials were trying to string them along until hours before the 11:59 p.m. Sunday deadline when the existing contract expires.

"We have waited patiently," said Antonette Bryant, ATU Local 1555 president. "We are ready to negotiate, we are willing to negotiate."

As of this point we have gotten no notice Sunday night from BART regarding avoidance of the strike. As of 9pm Saturday, all we have from the BART office is a denial of a 50% injury rate, which leads us to conclude that negotiations have mired in trivia and a strike on Monday is inevitable.

So for Monday we would encourage all East Bay folks to consider any and all alternatives to getting into the City for work, including capture of PTO hours.

Now that the hoi polloi have noticed the plethora of develoment projects and the clear consequences of each singly and in toto, hands are being raised.

Front and center is the official handover of the Point to the City in a series of ceremonies and discrete seperate actions. It has been 16 years of sometimes acrimonious dispute, but official "conveyance of the 1400 acres of former Navy base is now underway. Fittingly, it rained on the first major event this past week, however some were quick to point out that rain in sometimes arid California is always an auspicious sign. Originally the Navy had asked for $110 million dollars for land essentially given it out of patriotism by the City way back when. Eventually, the Navy decided we were collectively and Democratically pains in the rear and decided to cede over the land without price tag.

This collection of parcels should provide homes for 1,400 -- at a minimum -- and an expected 9,000 jobs, which should provide a much needed boost to the region's economy.

Some people are taking a closer look at that Crab Cove development that nearly flew under the radar when the land was suddenly and inexplicably rezoned so as to sell it to developers. Turns out the East Bay Park Service had been promised that land for expansion of adjacent Crown Beach, so when the bids went out the Park Service was totally unprepared to bid on the project. Naturally, limited by government guidelines, they underbid and the prize on McKay Avenue was awarded to yet another Texan outfit who had no idea of the politics into which they were stepping.

Well, the EBRPD looks to an outside like sourgrapes with their protests about how things went down, but we remember well how they were promised that land, which for the longest time has consisted of sheds and parking lots owned by the Feds. As the land was zoned for park use, there was little reason to prepare for any other eventuality. It also seems out of line to park homes on that spit with limited access. Suddenly the land got rezoned and quickly thereafter followed a bidding process, which makes us wonder just who was in on this from the beginning.

Neighbors, eyeing the narrow housefronts and lack of parking in the new plans are up in arms about this change of plans, and understandably so. All this new traffic will now clog McKay Avenue, an "avenue" in name only, and in reality not far above a dirt bicycle path in width without sidewalks.

One would think In-N-Out Burger is hardly material for controversy, but this is the Island and here, we will scrap for any peace of mind we feel we deserve. At a recent Planning Board meeting residents told the City they liked not much of the new plans near Bayport for the fast food joint along with the 24 hour Safeway, both of which are meant to hug the Target store already under construction. This one concerns the 77 acres at Alameda Landing where 275 condos and a 23 unit apartment building will join the housing planned for the Point and the 200 or so units planned for Boatworks, plus the several hundred some other units planned in other developments. Residents at Bayport dislike the idea of In_N-Out's gaudy neon signs blazing away in their eyes, the additional traffic that will ensue from its drive-in lanes plus the Safeway's gas pumps added to the Target and they want to have a say in the design plans.

Ah Democracy!

Perhaps due to our own cantankerous version of Democracy and the People's voice the Unified School district is looking at renovating the Historic High School, now surrounded by a weird wire and wood fence. The new plans feature the administration moving back into the old structure from the new leased digs at Mariner Square Village. Given that there will be costs no matter what the AUSD does with regard to its administrative home, and the need to renovate the swimming pools as well as other physical plant needs, the District needs to take a hard look at from where the funds will derive to do what needs to be done. This means new parcel taxes and/or bond measures on the next ballot. If Piedmont is any indicator, it looks very likely that bond measures have the best chance of success here.


So anyway, all the folks who had survived Javier's 55th birthday filtered back to the Household, each in their own time. As it turned out the guy who upchucked in Javier's jail cell gave everybody a lift in his BMW the following morning when the police let everybody out of the drunk tank along with the hookers and the other 24 hour riff-raff. The upchucker was named Ray and he took all his cellmates down to Impound to bail out his car, which was nice and sporty and did not have a trace of upchuck upon its fine German leather.

So that is how Javier got home. Jose, of course, got home after the Tube opened when the guys in orange vests had done scrubbing out all the graffiti in there well past the dawn hours. After spending the night with Paul and Marybeth in their Bushville plastic tent under the overpass, he rolled out and walked the long bend under the estuary past guys pushing grocery carts from some unknown market to god knows where and eventually got to the Household, vowing never to celebrate another birthday ever again.

Some guy named Snowden on the lam from the Man overnighted briefly during this time. The Household, always welcome to subterranean unrecognized heros and any of the downtrodden took the boy in, fed him a good meal of bread soup, gave him a cot on which to sleep for the night, and then sent him on his way to whatever fate Cuba, Russia, Central America or Tahiti may have in store for him.

There was some discussion on taking in such a notorious fellow, but Marlene, being the Queen of the Household had the final say and not even Andre at his peril could gainsay her word.

"This boy has more cojones than any of you and he risked his life to tell the truth. He should be regarded by this generation as an American Hero and now he is running for his life from very mean people, a situation all of us here know quite well, and that is what I have to say about it."

At the Household, things cannot remain somber for long. It is summer and the heat wave is on and Pahrump got out the frisbee to play tag with Tipitina and Jesus and all the dogs, Johnny Cash, Bonkers and Wickiwup and all along the Strand there was much scampering and kite flying and jumping up and down and all sorts of groovy things for summer had come to the Bay Area, which tends to employ its fogs and dismal atmosphere to repel the invader, but for now there was ice cream and our American Hero, Snowden, remained free and alive for the while.

The Offices of the Island-life press have been quite busy recently with all sorts of projects, keeping abreast of international news and maintained the weekly tequila dosage. We have the Island stories section to update and the page code upkeep, which task has been taken on by the indefatiguable Chad, and then there are the food and art reviews which have been ignored for far too long.

The Editor, having seen all the projects and issue problems put to bed strolled down the aisles of desks with their mindlessly chirping devices and LEDs, while in the far off corner the tickertape machine burped and chortled to itself with its tongue of paper vomiting into a cardboard box. Outside high above the waning Solstice Moon still hung huge above the overheated rooftops after a day that was just a taste of what global warming is all about. The usual evening breeze comforted with its thousand-year patterns through the box elder and the crabapple tree branches. All along the flagstone path to the garage the solar lights spilled their little epithets of light into discrete pools where the waterless coi of thought swam with barely moving fins in the darkness.

This is what life looks like after you have been traumatized into nothingness. Everything becomes exactly what it looks like directly without feeling.

The Editor returned to his cubicle, a place of islanded pools of light, while all around the muttering darkness and he bent himself to his work, while for blocks and blocks all around him Islanders slept and dreamt and worked and traveled from this place to that, all of his people. In the heat of the summer's night, the Island roiled with its dreams and problems while in the far distance a police siren wailed for a while before all was still again, everything returning to Small Town America, with all of its faults and charms. Somewhere else, a hero named Snowden slept upon the cot of permanent exile. He, unlike his pursuers, slept soundly this night. Somewhere else a Marine languished in his cell, naked and alone, and no one wondered just what connected the two men in this time.

The long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water, across the rebellious waves of the estuary, the defiant riprap embankments, the independent grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline, and all the scattered Bushvilles underneath all the overpasses as the locomotive glided past the dark and shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off to parts unknown.

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




 Back to top

Back to Current Issue